CONCERNING KIDNAPPERS

IV. (13) A kidnapper also is a thief; but he is, moreover, a thief who steals the very most excellent thing that exists upon the earth. Now, in the case of inanimate things, and of those animals which are of no very great use indeed in life, he has commanded twice the value of them to be paid to their owners by those who steal them, as has been said before. And again, in the case of those tame and very useful flocks and herds of sheep and oxen, he has ordered the payment to be fourfold or fivefold; (14) but man, as it seems, has been assigned the most pre-eminent position among the animals, being, as it were, a near relation of God himself, and akin to him in respect of his participation in reason; which makes him immortal, although he is liable to death. On which account every one who feels any admiration of virtue is full of exceeding anger, and is utterly implacable against kidnappers, who for the sake of most iniquitous gain dare to inflict slavery on those who are free by birth, and who partake of the same nature as themselves. (15) For if masters perform a praiseworthy action when they emancipate servants born in their house or purchased with money, even though they have often not done them any great service, from the slavery in which they are held, because of their own humanity by which they are influenced, how heavy ought to be the accusation which is brought against those who deprive of that most excellent of all possessions, freedom, those who are at present in possession of it; when it is an object for which man, who has been well born and properly brought up, would think it glorious to die? (16) And before now, some men, increasing their own innate wickedness, and directing the natural treachery of their characters to a violation of all rights, have studied to bring slavery not only upon strangers and foreigners, but even upon those of the same nation as themselves; and sometimes, even upon men of the same borough and of the same tribe, disregarding the community of laws and customs, in which they have been bred up with them from their earliest infancy, which nature stamps upon their souls as the firmest bond of good will in the case of all those who are not very intractable and greatly addicted to cruelty; (17) who, for the sake of lawless gain sell slaves to slave-dealers, and enslave them to any chance persons, transporting them to a foreign land, so that they shall never any more salute their native land, not even in a dream, nor taste of any hope of happiness. For these kidnappers would be committing a lighter iniquity if they themselves retained the services of those whom they have enslaved, but as the case stands at present they commit a double wrong, in selling them again, and thus making them two masters instead of one, and raising up two slaveries as enemies to their condition. (18) For they, being aware of the former prosperous condition of those whom they have carried off, might perhaps repent, feeling a tardy and late compassion for those who are thus fallen, having a proper awe of the uncertainty of fortune eluding all conjectures. But those who buy persons in this condition, out of ignorance of their families, will neglect them as if they were sprung from successive generations of slaves, having no inducement in their souls to display that gentleness and humanity towards them which it would be natural for them to preserve in the case of slaves who had become so after having been originally and naturally free-born. (19) And let whatever punishment the court of justice shall sentence them to be inflicted upon those who kidnap and enslave those of another nation; but upon those who kidnap those of their own country and of their own blood, and who sell them for slaves, shall be passed the unalterable sentence of death. For, in fact, one’s own countrymen are not far from blood relations, and they must very nearly come under the same definition with them.