Montesquieu

The law I am about to address is found in this oath which Æschines has pre­ser­ved for us : “I swear I shall never des­troy a city of the Amphictyones, and that I shall never divert its run­ning waters ; if any peo­ple dares do such a thing, I shall declare war on them, and des­troy their cities.”1 The last arti­cle of this law, which appears to confirm the first, is in rea­lity contrary to it. Amphictyon wants the Greek cities never to be des­troyed, and his law opens the door to the des­truc­tion of those cities. To esta­blish a good law of nations among the Greeks, he had to accus­tom them to thin­king that it was an atro­cious thing to des­troy a Greek city ; the­re­fore he ought not to des­troy even the des­troyers. Amphictyon’s law was just, but it was not pru­dent ; this is pro­ved by the very way it was abu­sed. Did Philip not demand the power to des­troy the cities, under the pre­text that they had vio­la­ted the Greeks’ laws ? Amphctyon could have inflic­ted other penal­ties : he could have decreed, for exam­ple, that a cer­tain num­ber of magis­tra­tes of the des­troying city, or heads of the vio­la­ting army, would be puni­shed with death, that the des­troying peo­ple would cease for a time to enjoy the pri­vi­le­ges of Greeks, that they would pay a fine until the res­to­ra­tion of the city. The law should above all address repa­ra­tion of the loss.

De falsa legatione.