XXIV. (121) Having then now philosophized in this manner about the honour to be paid to parents, he closes the one and more divine table of the first five commandments. And being about to promulgate the second which contains the prohibitions of those offences which are committed against men, he begins with adultery, looking upon this as the greatest of all violations of the law; (122) for, in the first place, it has for its source the love of pleasure, which enervates the bodies of those who indulge in it, and relaxes the tone of the soul, and destroys the essences of it, consuming every thing that it touches, like unquenchable fire, and leaving nothing which affects human life uninjured, (123) inasmuch as it not only persuades the adulterer to commit iniquity, but also teaches him to join others in wickedness, making an association in things in which there ought to be no such participation. For when this violent passion seizes on a man it is impossible for the appetites to arrive at the accomplishment of their object by one person alone, but it is indispensable that two should share in the action, the one taking the place of the teacher, and the other that of the pupil, for the complete confirmation of those most disgraceful evils, intemperance and licentiousness. (124) Nor can one allege as an excuse that it is only the body of the woman who is committing adultery that is corrupted, but, if one must tell the truth, even before the corruption of the body the soul is accustomed to alienation from virtue, being taught in every way to repudiate and to hate its husband. (125) And it would be a less grievous evil if this hatred were displayed without disguise; for it is easiest to guard against what is plainly seen. But at present it is with difficulty suspected, and difficult of detection, being concealed by cunning and wicked arts, and at times it assumes the contrary appearance of love and affection, by means of its trickery and deceit. (126) Accordingly, adultery exhibits the destruction of three houses by its means; that of the house of the man who sustains the violation of all the vows which were made to him at his marriage, and the loss of all the hopes of legitimate children, of which he is now deprived; and two others, namely, the house of the adulterer, and that of his wife. For each of these is filled with insolence, and dishonour, and the most excessive disgrace. (127) And if their connections and families are very numerous, then by reason of their intermarriages and the mutual connections formed with different houses the iniquity and injury will proceed and infect the whole city all around. (128) Moreover, the doubt as to the legitimacy of the children is a most terrible evil. For if the wife be not chaste, it is quite a matter of doubt and uncertainty to what father the children belong. And then, if the matter remain undiscovered, the children of adultery enter unjustly into the classification of legitimate children, and make a race spurious to which they have no pretensions to belong, and receive an inheritance which in appearance indeed is their own patrimony, but which in reality has no connection with them. (129) And then the adulterer, behaving with insolence and pluming himself upon his iniquity in having propagated an offspring full of reproach, when he has satiated his appetites will depart, leaving the object behind him, and turning into ridicule the ignorance that exists of the unholy wickedness which he has committed, on the part of the man against whom he has sinned. And the husband, like a blind man, knowing nothing of what has been going on in his own house, will be compelled to nourish and to cherish as his own the offspring sprung from his greatest enemies. (130) And it is plain that if such a wickedness takes place, the most miserable of all persons must be the wretched children, who have done no wrong themselves, and who cannot be assigned to either family, neither to that of the husband of the adulteress, nor to that of the adulterer. (131) Since, then, illicit cohabitation produces such great calamities, adultery is very naturally a detestable thing hated by God, and has been set down as the first of all transgressions.