This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.
“Ἆρ’ οὐκ ἴστε ὅτι τῶν μὲν ἐξιόντων τοῦ βίου κατὰ τὸν τῆς φύσεως νόμον καὶ τὸ ληφθὲν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ χρέος ἐκτινύντων, ὅταν ὁ δοὺς κομίσασθαι θέλῃ, κλέος μὲν αἰώνιον, οἶκοι δὲ καὶ γενεαὶ βέβαιοι, καθαραὶ δὲ καὶ ἐπήκοοι μένουσιν αἱ ψυχαί, χῶρον οὐράνιον λαχοῦσαι τὸν ἁγιώτατον, ἔνθεν ἐκ περιτροπῆς αἰώνων ἁγνοῖς πάλιν ἀντενοικίζονται σώμασιν· ὅσοις δὲ καθ’ ἑαυτῶν ἐμάνησαν αἱ χεῖρες, τούτων ᾅδης μὲν δέχεται τὰς ψυχὰς σκοτεινότερος, ὁ δὲ τούτων πατὴρ θεὸς εἰς ἐγγόνους τιμωρεῖται τοὺς τῶν πατέρων ὑβριστάς. διὰ τοῦτο μεμίσηται παρὰ θεῷ τοῦτο καὶ παρὰ τῷ σοφωτάτῳ κολάζεται νομοθέτῃ· τοὺς γοῦν ἀναιροῦντας ἑαυτοὺς παρὰ μὲν ἡμῖν μέχρις ἡλίου δύσεως ἀτάφους ἐκρίπτειν ἔκριναν καίτοι καὶ πολεμίους θάπτειν θεμιτὸν ἡγούμενοι, παρ’ ἑτέροις δὲ καὶ τὰς δεξιὰς τῶν τοιούτων νεκρῶν ἀποκόπτειν ἐκέλευσαν, αἷς ἐστρατεύσαντο καθ’ ἑαυτῶν, ἡγούμενοι καθάπερ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ψυχῆς ἀλλότριον, οὕτως καὶ τὴν χεῖρα τοῦ σώματος. καλὸν οὖν, ἑταῖροι, δίκαια φρονεῖν καὶ μὴ ταῖς ἀνθρωπίναις συμφοραῖς προσθεῖναι τὴν εἰς τὸν κτίσαντα ἡμᾶς δυσσέβειαν. εἰ σώζεσθαι δοκεῖ, σωζώμεθα· καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἄδοξος ἡ σωτηρία παρ’ οἷς διὰ τοσούτων ἔργων ἐπεδειξάμεθα τὰς ἀρετάς· εἰ τεθνάναι, καλὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἑλόντων. οὐ μεταβήσομαι δ’ ἐγὼ εἰς τὴν τῶν πολεμίων τάξιν, ἵν’ ἐμαυτοῦ προδότης γένωμαι· καὶ γὰρ ἂν εἴην πολὺ τῶν αὐτομολούντων πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους ἠλιθιώτερος, εἴ γ’ ἐκεῖνοι μὲν ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ τοῦτο πράττουσιν, ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ ἀπωλείᾳ, καί γε τῇ ἐμαυτοῦ. τὴν μέντοι Ῥωμαίων ἐνέδραν εὔχομαι· μετὰ γὰρ δεξιὰν ἀναιρούμενος ὑπ’ αὐτῶν εὔθυμος τεθνήξομαι, τὴν τῶν ψευσαμένων ἀπιστίαν νίκης μείζονα ἀποφέρων παραμυθίαν.”
(Josephus, Bell. Iud. 3.374-382)
“Know you not that they who depart this life in accordance with the law of nature and repay the loan which they received from God, when He who lent is pleased to reclaim it, win eternal renown; that their houses and families are secure; that their souls, remaining spotless and obedient, are allotted the most holy place in heaven, whence, in the revolution of the ages, they return to find in chaste bodies a new habitation? But as for those who have laid mad hands upon themselves, the darker regions of the nether world receive their souls, and God, their father, visits upon their posterity the outrageous acts of the parents. That is why this crime, so hateful to God, is punished also by the sagest of legislators. With us it is ordained that the body of a suicide should be exposed unburied until sunset, although it is thought right to bury even our enemies slain in war. In other nations the law requires that a suicide’s right hand, with which he made war on himself, should be cut off, holding that, as the body was unnaturally severed from the soul, so the hand should be severed from the body. We shall do well then, comrades, to listen to reason and not to add to our human calamities the crime of impiety towards our creator. If our lives are offered us, let us live: there is nothing dishonourable in accepting this offer from those who have had so many proofs of our valour; if they think fit to kill us, death at the hands of our conquerors is honourable. But, for my part, I shall never pass over to the enemy’s ranks, to prove a traitor to myself; I should indeed then be far more senseless than deserters who go over to the enemy for safety, whereas I should be going to destruction—my own destruction. I pray, however, that the Romans may prove faithless; if, after pledging their word, they put me to death, I shall die content, for I shall carry with me the consolation, better than a victory, that their triumph has been sullied by perjury.” (tr. Henry St. John Thackeray)
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