(76) Why a sign is put on him who had slain his brother, that no one should kill him who found him; when it would have been natural to do the contrary, namely, to give him over to the hands of an executioner to be put to death? (#Ge 4:16). This is said because, in the first place, the change of the nature of living is one kind of death; but continual sorrow and unmixed fear are destitute of joy and devoid of all good hope, and so they bring on many terrible and various evils which are so many sensible deaths. In the second place, the sacred historian designs at the very beginning of his work to enunciate the law about the incorruptibility of the soul, and to confute as deceitful those who look upon the life which is contained in this body as the only happy life; for behold one of the two brothers is guilty of those enormous crimes which have already been mentioned, namely, impiety and fratricide; and he is still alive, and begetting offspring, and building cities. But the other who was praised in respect of his piety is treacherously put to death; while the voice of the Lord not only clearly cries out that that existence which is perceptible by the outward senses is not good, and that such a death is not evil, but also that that life which is in the flesh is not life, but that there is another give to man free from old age, and more immortal, which the incorporeal souls have received; for that expression of the poet about Scylla,

“That is not mortal but an endless Woe,”{7}{the line occurs in Homer, Odyss. 12.118.}

is asserted in the same familiarity about a person who lives ill and passes a long life for many years in the practice of wickedness. In the third place, since Cain had perpetrated this fratricide of enormous guilt above all other crimes, he presents himself to him, quite forgetful of the injury that he has done, imposing on all judges a most peaceful law for the first crime; not that they are not to destroy malefactors, but that resting for a while with great patience and long suffering, they shall study compassion rather than severity. But God himself, with the most perfect wisdom, has laid down the rule of familiarity and intelligence with reference to the first sinner: not slaying the homicide, but destroying him in another manner; since he scarcely permitted him to be enumerated among the generations of his father, but shows him proscribed not only by his parents but by the whole race of mankind, allotting him a state separate from that of others, and secluded from the class of rational animals, as one who had been expelled, and banished, and turned into the nature of beasts.