III. (12) Moreover the law has laid down other admirable regulations with regard to carnal conversation; for it commands men not only to abstain from the wives of others, but also from certain relations, with whom it is not lawful to cohabit; (13) therefore Moses, detesting and loathing the customs of the Persians, repudiates them as the greatest possible impiety, for the magistrates of the Persians marry even their own mothers, and consider the offspring of such marriages the most noble of all men, and as it is said, they think them worthy of the highest sovereign authority. (14) And yet what can be a more flagitious act of impiety than to defile the bed of one’s father after he is dead, which it would be right rather to preserve untouched, as sacred; and to feel no respect either for old age of for one’s mother, and for the same man to be both the son and the husband of the same woman; and again for the same woman to be both the mother and wife of the same man, and for the children of the two to be the brothers of their father and the grandsons of their mother, and for that same woman to be both the mother and grandmother of those children whom she has brought forth, and for the man to be at the same time both the father and the uterine brother of those whom he has begotten? (15) These enormities formerly took place among the Greeks in the case of Oedipus, the son of Laius, {1}{this is the subject, in fact, of the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles. Philo alludes afterwards to the wars which are the subject of the EptÕ epi Teµbas of Aeschylus.} and the actions were committed out of ignorance and not voluntarily, and yet that marriage brought on such a host of evils that nothing was wanting to make up the amount of the most complete wretchedness and misery, (16) for there ensued from it a continual succession of wars, both domestic and foreign, which were bequeathed like an inheritance from their fathers and ancestors to their children and descendants; and there were destructions of cities which were the greatest in Greece, and destructions of embattled armies, and slaughter of nations and of allies which had come to the assistance of either side, and mutual slaughter of the most gallant leaders in each army, and unreconcileable enmities about sovereignty and authority, and fratricides, by which not only the families and countries of the persons immediately concerned were utterly extinguished and destroyed, but the greater portion of the whole Greek nation also, for cities which were previously populous now became desolate and void of their inhabitants, and were left as a memorial of the calamities of Greece, and a miserable sight for all beholders. (17) Nor, indeed, do the Persians, among whom such practices are frequent, avoid similar evils, for they are continually involved in military expeditions and battles, killing and being killed, and at one time invading their neighbours and at others repelling those who rise up against them. And many enemies rise up against them from many quarters, since it is not the nature of the barbarians to rest in tranquillity; therefore, before the existing sedition is appeased, another springs up, so that no season of the year is ever indulged in peace and quietness, but they are compelled to live under arms night and day, bearing for the greater portion of their lives hardships in the open air while serving in the camps, or else living in cities from the complete absence of all peace. (18) I forbear to mention the great and intolerable violence and pride of success exhibited by the kings, whose first contests begin at the very first assumption of their sovereign power with the greatest of all iniquities, fratricide, as thus alone do they imagine that they will be safe from all attacks and treachery on the part of their brothers if they appear to have put them to death with reason and justice. (19) And it seems to me that all these things arise from the unhallowed connections of sons with their own mothers, because justice, who surveys all human affairs, revenges herself thus on those who act improperly for their wickedness; for not only do those who act thus commit impiety, but those also who voluntarily signify their assent to the arbitrary conduct of those who do such actions. (20) But our law guards so carefully against such actions as these that it does not permit even a step-son, when his father is dead, to marry his step-mother, on account of the respect which he owes to his father, and because the titles mother and step-mother are kindred names, even though the affections of the souls may not be identical; (21) for the man who is thought to abstain from her who has been the wife of another man, because she is called his step-mother, will much more abstain from his own natural mother. And if any one, on account of his recollection of his father, shows a respectful awe of her who has formerly been his wife, it is quite evident that he, because of the respect which he feels towards both his parents, is not likely to meditate any improper conduct to his mother; since it would be downright folly for a man who studies to please one half of his family, to appear to neglect it in its wholeness and integrity.