Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIV.: That we must not separate the Laws from the Circumstances in which they were made. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XIV.: That we must not separate the Laws from the Circumstances in which they were made. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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That we must not separate the Laws from the Circumstances in which they were made.
IT was decreed by a law at Athens, that when the city was besieged, all the useless people should be put to death* . This was an abominable political law, in consequence of an abominable law of nations. Among the Greeks, the inhabitants of a town taken, lost their civil liberty, and were sold as slaves. The taking of a town implied its intire destruction; which is the source not only of those obstinate defences, and of those unnatural actions, but likewise of those shocking laws which they sometimes enacted.
The Roman laws† ordained that physicians should be punished for neglect or unskilfulness. In those cases, if the physician was a person of any fortune or rank, he was only condemned to deportation; but if he was of a low condition, he was put to death. By our institutions it is otherwise. The Roman laws were not made under the same circumstances as ours: at Rome every ignorant pretender intermeddled with physic; but amongst us, physicians are obliged to go through a regular course of study, and to take their degrees; for which reason they are supposed to understand their profession.
[* ]Inutilis ætas occidatur. Syrian in Hermog.
[† ]The Cornelian law de sicariis, Institut. lib. 4. tit. 3. de lege Aquilia, sect. 7.