Mi. Sostratus, the pirate here, can be dropped into Pyriphlegethon, Hermes; the temple-robber shall be clawed by the Chimera; and lay out the tyrant alongside of Tityus, there to have his liver torn by the vultures. And you honest fellows can make the best of your way to Elysium and the Isles of the Blest; this it is to lead righteous lives.
Sos. A word with you, Minos. See if there is not some justice in my plea.
Mi. What, more pleadings? Have you not been convicted of villany and murder without end?
Sos. I have. Yet consider whether my sentence is just.
Mi. Is it just that you should have your deserts? If so, the sentence is just.
Sos. Well, answer my questions; I will not detain you long.
Mi. Say on, but be brief; I have other cases waiting for me.
Sos. The deeds of my life--were they in my own choice, or were they decreed by Fate?
Mi. Decreed, of course.
Sos. Then all of us, whether we passed for honest men or rogues, were the instruments of Fate in all that we did?
Mi. Certainly; Clotho prescribes the conduct of every man at his birth.
Sos. Now suppose a man commits a murder under compulsion of a power which he cannot resist, an executioner, for instance, at the bidding of a judge, or a bodyguard at that of a tyrant. Who is the murderer, according to you?
Mi. The judge, of course, or the tyrant. As well ask whether the sword is guilty, which is but the tool of his anger who is prime mover in the affair.
Sos. I am indebted to you for a further illustration of my argument. Again: a slave, sent by his master, brings me gold or silver; to whom am I to be grateful? who goes down on my tablets as a benefactor?
Mi. The sender; the bringer is but his minister.
Sos. Observe then your injustice! You punish us who are but the slaves of Clotho's bidding, and reward these, who do but minister to another's beneficence. For it will never be said that it was in our power to gainsay the irresistible ordinances of Fate?
Mi. Ah, Sostratus; look closely enough, and you will find plenty of inconsistencies besides these. However, I see you are no common pirate, but a philosopher in your way; so much you have gained by your questions. Let him go, Hermes; he shall not be punished after that. But mind, Sostratus, you must not put it into other people's heads to ask questions of this kind.