XVIII. (100) Now the true magical art, being a science of discernment, which contemplates and beholds the books of nature with a more acute and distinct perception than usual, and appearing as such to be a dignified and desirable branch of knowledge, is studied not merely by private individuals, but even by kings, and the very greatest of kings, and especially by the Persian monarchs, to such a degree, that they say that among that people no one can possibly succeed to the kingdom if he has not previously been initiated into the mysteries of the magi. (101) But there is a certain adulterated species of this science, which may more properly be called wicked imposture, which quacks, and cheats, and buffoons pursue, and the vilest of women and slaves, professing to understand all kinds of incantations and purifications, and promising to change the dispositions of those on whom they operate so as to turn those who love to unalterable enmity, and those who hate to the most excessive affection by certain charms and incantations; and thus they deceive and gain influence over men of unsuspicious and innocent dispositions, until they fall into the greatest calamities, by means of which great numbers of friends and relations have wasted away by degrees, and so have been rapidly destroyed without any noise being made. (102) And I imagine that the lawgiver, having a regard to all these circumstances, would on that account not permit the punishments due to poisoners to be postponed to any subsequent occasion, but ordained that the executioners should at once proceed to inflict the due penalty on them; for delay rather excites the guilty to make use of the time that is allowed them to carry out their iniquities, inasmuch as they are already condemned to death, while it fills those who are already suspicious and apprehensive of misfortune with a more urgent fear, as they look upon the life of their enemies to be their own death. (103) Therefore, as if we only see snakes, and serpents, and any other venomous animals, we at once, without a moment’s delay, kill them before they can bite, or wound, or attack us at all, taking care not to expose ourselves to any injury from them by reason of our knowledge of the mischief which is inherent in them; in the same manner it is right promptly to punish those men who, though they have had a gentle nature assigned to them by means of that fountain of reason which is the cause and source of all society, do nevertheless of deliberate purpose change it themselves to the ferocity of untameable beasts, looking upon the doing injury to as many people as they can to be their greatest pleasure and advantage.