Yes, and they do many other things contrary to the laws. But surely the transgressors of the laws ordained by the gods pay a penalty that a man can in no wise escape, as some, when they transgress the laws ordained by man, escape punishment, either by concealment or by violence.
And pray what sort of penalty is it, Socrates, that may not be avoided by parents and children who have intercourse with one another?The greatest, of course. For what greater penalty can men incur when they beget children than begetting them badly?
How do they beget children badly then, if, as may well happen, the fathers are good men and the mothers good women?Surely because it is not enough that the two parents should be good. They must also be in full bodily vigour: unless you suppose that those who are in full vigour are no more efficient as parents than those who have not yet reached that condition or have passed it.Of course that is unlikely.Which are the better then?Those who are in full vigour, clearly.Consequently those who are not in full vigour are not competent to become parents?It is improbable, of course.In that case then, they ought not to have children?Certainly not.Therefore those who produce children in such circumstances produce them wrongly?I think so.Who then will be bad fathers and mothers, if not they?I agree with you there too.
Again, is not the duty of requiting benefits universally recognised by law?Yes, but this law too is broken.Then does not a man pay forfeit for the breach of that law too, in the gradual loss of good friends and the necessity of hunting those who hate him? Or is it not true that, whereas those who benefit an acquaintance are good friends to him, he is hated by them for his ingratitude, if he makes no return, and then, because it is most profitable to enjoy the acquaintance of such men, he hunts them most assiduously?Assuredly, Socrates, all this does suggest the work of the gods. For laws that involve in themselves punishment meet for those who break them, must, I think, be framed by a better legislator than man.
Then, Hippias, do you think that the gods ordain what is just or what is otherwise?Not what is otherwise — of course not; for if a god ordains not that which is just, surely no other legislator can do so.Consequently, Hippias, the gods too accept the identification of just and lawful.By such words and actions he encouraged Justice in those who resorted to his company.