GGJ04-44

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Chapter 44 - Zorel's concept of property.

44,1. Cyrenius says: “How much do you wish that I should give you?”

44,2. Zorel answers: “Not too little, but also not too much. If I can only replace my losses, I am covered!”

44,3. Cyrenius says: “Are you also familiar with the laws of Rome, which has been given to the nations to protect property they have acquired?”

44,4. Says Zorel: “O yes, - not all of them as an expert lawyer would, but I know about some of them! I have never broken any of those with which I am familiar. Not to obey unknown laws is in any case not a sin!

44,5. Furthermore, I am Greek, and we Greeks have never taken a strict line regarding “mine” and “yours”, since we are more concerned with communal property than with private ownership. Common ownership promotes friendship, brotherhood, true and lasting honesty and communal decision-making by a community, which is surely a good thing! However, private ownership always fosters greed, envy, miserliness, poverty, theft, robbery, murder and the most extraordinary compulsion to dominate which in the end is the source of all the earthly troubles for mankind as if they came from a Pandora’s box!

44,6. If there were to be no excessively biased laws in favour of private ownership, there would also be far less theft and fewer fraudulent actions. I say and maintain, that the laws which protect private ownership are the fertilized ground on which every conceivable vice flourishes to maturity, while with communal property neither envy, greed, addiction, backbiting, deception, theft, robbery, murder, nor could any war or similar misery ever be justified!

44,7. Since I always regarded the laws which protect private ownership as a horror waiting to devastate friendly and brotherly society and still recognize it as such, I have never been much troubled by my conscience – at least in minor matters -, if I have acquired small things in an illegal way. Alternatively, if somebody has borrowed something from me in the same way, I would certainly never persecute him.

44,8. My hut and my land are legally mine. However the moveable part of my property which it held I never looked at too precisely, for the truthful reasons I have given and because I am a Spartan. Anyone who knows Sparta and its old, very wise laws, also understands why I never held a grudge regarding any loss through petty theft so called. The two sheep, the goat and my donkey were actually not bought by me, but neither were they stolen goods in my possession; since I found them in the woods grazing like wild animals and I took them one by one, not all together. The owner of those large grazing areas in the woods also owns many thousands of similar animals. A small loss would certainly not cause him any great pain - while my gain was extremely useful!

44,9. In so doing, I have surely not broken too severely your Roman property protection laws, particularly since I found the animals in question individually wandering around in these woods which are large enough to walk in for hours in any direction. They would therefore be regarded as lost by their legal owner! A second late harvest is even allowed by the Jews, who have a law from the highest God Himself permitting it. Why then should it be considered a crime by the Romans?!

44,10. Absurd laws protecting private owners can only be defended by the swords in the hands of powerful men on earth, the type of power wielded by wild bears and lions, never by common sense! Even if all ten thousand gods were to be in favour of it, I would still oppose it for as long I retain the ability to think as clearly as I do now and always have done!

44,11. You, noble commander, carry the sword of power and can punish a poor faun like me as you please, but the straight lines formed by the principles of my life you will never be able to bend with all of Rome’s weapons; but if you have other and more convincing reasons in favour of property ownership on a strictly legal basis, I will listen to them and adapt my future way of life accordingly!”

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