VI. (24) But the law takes away from virgins and from married women the power of making vows independently, pronouncing the parents of the one class, and the husbands of the other, their lords; and with reference to any confirmation or disavowal of their oaths, declaring that that power belongs in the one case to the father, and in the other to the husband. And very reasonably, for the one class by reason of their youth are not aware of the importance of oaths, so that they stand in need of the advice of others to judge for them; while the other class do often out of easiness of disposition take oaths which are not for the interest of their husbands, on which account the law invests the husbands and fathers with authority either to ratify their oaths or to declare them void. (25) And let not widows swear inconsiderately, for they have no one who can beg them off from the effect of their oaths; neither husbands, from whom they are now separated, nor fathers, whose houses they have quitted when they departed from home on the occasion of their marriage, since it is unavoidable that their oaths must stand as being confirmed through the absence of any one to take care of the interests of the swearers. (26) But if any one knows that any one else is violating his oath, and does not inform against him, or convict him, being influenced by friendship, or respect, or fear, rather than by piety, he shall be liable to the same punishment as the perjured person; {1}{#le 5:21.} for assenting to one who does wrong differs in no respect from doing wrong one’s self. (27) And punishment is inflicted on perjured persons in some cases by God and in others by men; but those punishments which proceed from God are the most fearful and the most severe, for God shows no mercy to men who commit such impiety as that, but allows them to remain for ever unpurified, and in my opinion with great justice and propriety, for the man who despises such important matters cannot complain if he is despised in his turn, receiving a fate equal to his actions. (28) But the punishments which are inflicted by men are of various characters, being death, or scourging; {2}{#de 19:16.} those men who are more excellent and more strict in their piety inflicting death on such offenders, but those who are of milder dispositions scourging them with rods publicly in the sight of all men; and to men who are not of abject and slavish dispositions scourging is a punishment not inferior in terror to death.

VII. (29) These then are the ordinances contained in the express language of these commandments; but there is also an allegorical meaning concealed beneath, which we must extract by a careful consideration of the figurative expressions used. We must be aware, therefore, that the correct principles of nature recognise the power both of the father and of the husband as equal, but still in different respects. The power of the husband exists because of his sowing the seed of the virtues in the soul, as in a fertile field; that of the father arises from its being his natural office to implant good counsels in the minds of his children, and to stimulate them to honourable and virtuous actions; and because, when he has done so, he cherishes them with salutary doctrines, which education and wisdom supply; (30) and the mind is compared at one time to a virgin, and at another to a woman who is a widow, and again to one who is still united to a husband. It is compared to a virgin, when it preserves itself pure, and undefiled, free from the influence of pleasures and appetites, and likewise of pains and fears, treacherous passions, and then the father who begot it retains the regulation of it; and her principle, as in the case of a virtuous woman, she now being united to pure reason, in accordance with virtue, will exert a proper care to defend her, implanting in her, like a husband, the most excellent conceptions. (31) But the soul which is deprived of the wisdom and guardianship of a parent, and of the union of right reason, being widowed of her most excellent defences, and abandoned by wisdom, if it has chosen a life open to reproach, must be bound by its own conduct, not having reason in accordance with wisdom to act as intercessor, to relieve her of the consequences of her sins, neither has a husband living with her, nor as a father who has begotten her.