Saturday, April 16, 2011


A Capital Offence

Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander 8.9.34 (tr. John Yardley, on the Indians):
To anything they have started to cultivate they give divine status, especially to trees, violating which constitutes a capital offence.

deos putant, quidquid colere coeperunt, arbores maxime, quas violare capital est.
Cf. Diodorus Siculus 2.36.6-7 (tr. W.A. Oldfather):
[6] Furthermore, the customs of the Indians contribute towards there never being any lack of food among them; for whereas in the case of all the rest of mankind their enemies ravage the land and cause it to remain uncultivated, yet among the Indians the workers of the soil are let alone as sacred and inviolable, and such of them as labour near the battle-lines have no feeling of the dangers. [7] For although both parties to the war kill one another in their hostilities, yet they leave uninjured those who are engaged in tilling the soil, considering that they are the common benefactors of all, nor do they burn the lands of their opponents or cut down their orchards.


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