On Clemency, Book I, XIV

What, then, is his duty? It is that of good parents, who sometimes scold their children good naturedly, sometimes threaten them, and sometimes even flog them.

No man in his senses disinherits his son for his first offence: he does not pass this extreme sentence upon him unless his patience has been worn out by many grievous wrongs, unless he fears that his son will do something worse than that which he punishes him for having done; before doing this he makes many attempts to lead his son’s mind into the right way while it is still hesitating between good and evil and has only taken its first steps in depravity; it is only when its case is hopeless that he adopts this extreme measure.

No one demands that people should be executed until after he has failed to reform them.

This which is the duty of a parent, is also that of the prince whom with no unmeaning flattery we call “The Father of our Country.”

Other names are given as titles of honour: we have styled some men “The Great,” “The Fortunate,” or “The August” and have thus satisfied their passion for grandeur by bestowing upon them all the dignity that we could: but when we style a man “The Father of his Country” we give him to understand that we have entrusted him with a father’s power over us, which is of the mildest character for a father takes thought for his children and subordinates his own interests to theirs. It is long before a father will cut off a member of his own body: even after he has cut it off he longs to replace it, and in cutting it off he laments and hesitates much and long: for he who condemns quickly is not far from being willing to condemn; and he who inflicts too great punishment comes very near to punishing unjustly.