348 BCE


Translated by Benjamin Jowett








BOOK IV.. 74

BOOK V.. 91




BOOK IX.. 180

BOOK X.. 203







CLEINIAS, a Cretan; 

MEGILLUS, a Lacedaemonian





Athenian Stranger. Tell me, Strangers, is a God or some man supposed to  be the author of your laws?


Cleinias. A God, Stranger; in very truth a, God: among us Cretans he is  said to have been Zeus, but in Lacedaemon, whence our friend here comes,  I believe they would say that Apollo is their lawgiver: would they not,  Megillus?


Megillus. Certainly.


Ath. And do you, Cleinias, believe, as Homer tells, that every ninth  year Minos went to converse with his Olympian sire, and was inspired by  him to make laws for your cities?


Cle. Yes, that is our tradition; and there was Rhadamanthus, a brother  of his, with whose name you are familiar; he is reputed to have been the  justest of men, and we Cretans are of opinion that he earned this  reputation from his righteous administration of justice when he was  alive.


Ath. Yes, and a noble reputation it was, worthy of a son of Zeus. As you  and Megillus have been trained in these institutions, I dare say that  you will not be unwilling to give an account of your government and  laws; on our way we can pass the time pleasantly in about them, for I am  told that the distance from Cnosus to the cave and temple of Zeus is  considerable; and doubtless there are shady places under the lofty  trees, which will protect us from this scorching sun. Being no longer  young, we may often stop to rest beneath them, and get over the whole  journey without difficulty, beguiling the time by conversation.


Cle. Yes, Stranger, and if we proceed onward we shall come to groves of  cypresses, which are of rare height and beauty, and there are green  meadows, in which we may repose and converse.


Ath. Very good.


Cle. Very good, indeed; and still better when we see them; let us move  on cheerily.


Ath. I am willing — And first, I want to know why the law has ordained  that you shall have common meals and gymnastic exercises, and wear arms.


Cle. I think, Stranger, that the aim of our institutions is easily  intelligible to any one. Look at the character of our country: Crete is  not like Thessaly, a large plain; and for this reason they have horsemen  in Thessaly, and we have runners — the inequality of the ground in our  country is more adapted to locomotion on foot; but then, if you have  runners you must have light arms — no one can carry a heavy weight when  running, and bows and arrows are convenient because they are light. Now  all these regulations have been made with a view to war, and the  legislator appears to me to have looked to this in all his arrangements:  the common meals, if I am not mistaken, were instituted by him for a  similar reason, because he saw that while they are in the field the  citizens are by the nature of the case compelled to take their meals  together for the sake of mutual protection. He seems to me to have  thought the world foolish in not understanding that all are always at  war with one another; and if in war there ought to be common meals and  certain persons regularly appointed under others to protect an army,  they should be continued in peace. For what men in general term peace  would be said by him to be only a name; in reality every city is in a  natural state of war with every other, not indeed proclaimed by heralds,  but everlasting. And if you look closely, you will find that this was  the intention of the Cretan legislator; all institutions, private as  well as public, were arranged by him with a view to war; in giving them  he was under the impression that no possessions or institutions are of  any value to him who is defeated in battle; for all the good things of  the conquered pass into the hands of the conquerors.


Ath. You appear to me, Stranger, to have been thoroughly trained in the  Cretan institutions, and to be well informed about them; will you tell  me a little more explicitly what is the principle of government which  you would lay down? You seem to imagine that a well governed state ought  to be so ordered as to conquer all other states in war: am I right in  supposing this to be your meaning?


Cle. Certainly; and our Lacedaemonian friend, if I am not mistaken, will  agree with me.


Meg. Why, my good friend, how could any Lacedaemonian say anything else?


Ath. And is what you say applicable only to states, or also to villages?


Cle. To both alike.


Ath. The case is the same?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And in the village will there be the same war of family against  family, and of individual against individual?


Cle. The same.


Ath. And should each man conceive himself to be his own enemy: what  shall we say?


Cle. O Athenian Stranger — inhabitant of Attica I will not call you, for  you seem to deserve rather to be named after the goddess herself,  because you go back to first principles you have thrown a light upon the  argument, and will now be better able to understand what I was just  saying — that all men are publicly one another’s enemies, and each man  privately his own.


(Ath. My good sir, what do you mean?) —


Cle. ... Moreover, there is a victory and defeat — the first and best of  victories, the lowest and worst of defeats — which each man gains or  sustains at the hands, not of another, but of himself; this shows that  there is a war against ourselves going on within every one of us.


Ath. Let us now reverse the order of the argument: Seeing that every  individual is either his own superior or his own inferior, may we say  that there is the same principle in the house, the village, and the  state?


Cle. You mean that in each of them there is a principle of superiority  or inferiority to self?


Ath. Yes.


Cle. You are quite right in asking the question, for there certainly is  such a principle, and above all in states; and the state in which the  better citizens win a victory over the mob and over the inferior classes  may be truly said to be better than itself, and may be justly praised,  where such a victory is gained, or censured in the opposite case.


Ath. Whether the better is ever really conquered by the worse, is a  question which requires more discussion, and may be therefore left for  the present. But I now quite understand your meaning when you say that  citizens who are of the same race and live in the same cities may  unjustly conspire, and having the superiority in numbers may overcome  and enslave the few just; and when they prevail, the state may be truly  called its own inferior and therefore bad; and when they are defeated,  its own superior and therefore good.


Cle. Your remark, Stranger, is a paradox, and yet we cannot possibly  deny it.


Ath. Here is another case for consideration; — in a family there may be  several brothers, who are the offspring of a single pair; very possibly  the majority of them may be unjust, and the just may be in a minority.


Cle. Very possibly.


Ath. And you and I ought not to raise a question of words as to whether  this family and household are rightly said to be superior when they  conquer, and inferior when they are conquered; for we are not now  considering what may or may not be the proper or customary way of  speaking, but we are considering the natural principles of right and  wrong in laws.


Cle. What you say, Stranger, is most true.


Meg. Quite excellent, in my opinion, as far as we have gone.


Ath. Again; might there not be a judge over these brethren, of whom we  were speaking?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Now, which would be the better judge — one who destroyed the bad  and appointed the good to govern themselves; or one who, while allowing  the good to govern, let the bad live, and made them voluntarily submit?  Or third, I suppose, in the scale of excellence might be placed a judge,  who, finding the family distracted, not only did not destroy any one,  but reconciled them to one another for ever after, and gave them laws  which they mutually observed, and was able to keep them friends.


Cle. The last would be by far the best sort of judge and legislator.


Ath. And yet the aim of all the laws which he gave would be the reverse  of war.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And will he who constitutes the state and orders the life of man  have in view external war, or that kind of intestine war called civil,  which no one, if he could prevent, would like to have occurring in his  own state; and when occurring, every one would wish to be quit of as  soon as possible?


Cle. He would have the latter chiefly in view.


Ath. And would he prefer that this civil war should be terminated by the  destruction of one of the parties, and by the victory of the other, or  that peace and friendship should be re-established, and that, being  reconciled, they should give their attention to foreign enemies?


Cle. Every one would desire the latter in the case of his own state.


Ath. And would not that also be the desire of the legislator?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And would not every one always make laws for the sake of the best?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. But war, whether external or civil, is not the best, and the need  of either is to be deprecated; but peace with one another, and good  will, are best. Nor is the victory of the state over itself to be  regarded as a really good thing, but as a necessity; a man might as well  say that the body was in the best state when sick and purged by  medicine, forgetting that there is also a state of the body which needs  no purge. And in like manner no one can be a true statesman, whether he  aims at the happiness of the individual or state, who looks only, or  first of all, to external warfare; nor will he ever be a sound  legislator who orders peace for the sake of war, and not war for the  sake of peace.


Cle. I suppose that there is truth, Stranger, in that remark of yours;  and yet I am greatly mistaken if war is not the entire aim and object of  our own institutions, and also of the Lacedaemonian.


Ath. I dare say; but there is no reason why we should rudely quarrel  with one another about your legislators, instead of gently questioning  them, seeing that both we and they are equally in earnest.


Please follow me and the argument closely: And first I will put forward  Tyrtaeus, an Athenian by birth, but also a Spartan citizen, who of all  men was most eager about war: Well, he says, “I sing not, I care not,  about any man, even if he were the richest of men, and possessed every  good (and then he gives a whole list of them), if he be not at all times  a brave warrior.” I imagine that you, too, must have heard his poems;  our Lacedaemonian friend has probably heard more than enough of them.


Meg. Very true.


Cle. And they have found their way from Lacedaemon to Crete.


Ath. Come now and let us all join in asking this question of Tyrtaeus: O  most divine poet, we will say to him, the excellent praise which you  have bestowed on those who excel in war sufficiently proves that you are  wise and good, and I and Megillus and Cleinias of Cnosus do, as I  believe, entirely agree with you. But we should like to be quite sure  that we are speaking of the same men; tell us, then, do you agree with  us in thinking that there are two kinds of war; or what would you say? A  far inferior man to Tyrtaeus would have no difficulty in replying quite  truly, that war is of two kinds one which is universally called civil  war, and is as we were just now saying, of all wars the worst; the  other, as we should all admit, in which we fall out with other nations  who are of a different race, is a far milder form of warfare.


Cle. Certainly, far milder.


Ath. Well, now, when you praise and blame war in this high-flown strain,  whom are you praising or blaming, and to which kind of war are you  referring? I suppose that you must mean foreign war, if I am to judge  from expressions of yours in which you say that you abominate those Who  refuse to look upon fields of blood, and will not draw near and strike  at their enemies. — And we shall naturally go on to say to him — You,  Tyrtaeus, as it seems, praise those who distinguish themselves in  external and foreign war; and he must admit this.


Cle. Evidently.


Ath. They are good; but we say that there are still better men whose  virtue is displayed in the greatest of all battles. And we too have a  poet whom we summon as a witness, Theognis, citizen of Megara in Sicily:  Cyrnus, he who is faithful in a civil broil is worth his weight in gold  and silver. — And such an one is far better, as we affirm, than the  other in a more difficult kind of war, much in the same degree as  justice and temperance and wisdom, when united with courage, are better  than courage only; for a man cannot be faithful and good in civil strife  without having all virtue. But in the war of which Tyrtaeus speaks, many  a mercenary soldier will take his stand and be ready to die at his post,  and yet they are generally and almost without exception insolent,  unjust, violent men, and the most senseless of human beings. You will  ask what the conclusion is, and what I am seeking to prove: I maintain  that the divine legislator of Crete, like any other who is worthy of  consideration, will always and above all things in making laws have  regard to the greatest virtue; which, according to Theognis, is loyalty  in the hour of danger, and may be truly called perfect justice. Whereas,  that virtue which Tyrtaeus highly praises is well enough, and was  praised by the poet at the right time, yet in place and dignity may be  said to be only fourth rate.


Cle. Stranger, we are degrading our inspired lawgiver to a rank which is  far beneath him.


Ath. Nay, I think that we degrade not him but ourselves, if we imagine  that Lycurgus and Minos laid down laws both in Lacedaemon and Crete  mainly with a view to war.


Cle. What ought we to say then?


Ath. What truth and what justice require of us, if I am not mistaken,  when speaking in behalf of divine excellence; — at the legislator when  making his laws had in view not a part only, and this the lowest part of  virtue, but all virtue, and that he devised classes of laws answering to  the kinds of virtue; not in the way in which modern inventors of laws  make the classes, for they only investigate and offer laws whenever a  want is felt, and one man has a class of laws about allotments and  heiresses, another about assaults; others about ten thousand other such  matters. But we maintain that the right way of examining into laws is to  proceed as we have now done, and I admired the spirit of your  exposition; for you were quite right in beginning with virtue, and  saying that this was the aim of the giver of the law, but I thought that  you went wrong when you added that all his legislation had a view only  to a part, and the least part of virtue, and this called forth my  subsequent remarks. Will you allow me then to explain how I should have  liked to have heard you expound the matter?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. You ought to have said, Stranger — The Cretan laws are with reason  famous among the Hellenes; for they fulfil the object of laws, which is  to make those who use them happy; and they confer every sort of good.  Now goods are of two kinds: there are human and there are divine goods,  and the human hang upon the divine; and the state which attains the  greater, at the same time acquires the less, or, not having the greater,  has neither. Of the lesser goods the first is health, the second beauty,  the third strength, including swiftness in running and bodily agility  generally, and the fourth is wealth, not the blind god [Pluto], but one  who is keen of sight, if only he has wisdom for his companion. For  wisdom is chief and leader of the divine dass of goods, and next follows  temperance; and from the union of these two with courage springs  justice, and fourth in the scale of virtue is courage.


All these naturally take precedence of the other goods, and this is the  order in which the legislator must place them, and after them he will  enjoin the rest of his ordinances on the citizens with a view to these,  the human looking to the divine, and the divine looking to their leader  mind. Some of his ordinances will relate to contracts of marriage which  they make one with another, and then to the procreation and education of  children, both male and female; the duty of the lawgiver will be to take  charge of his citizens, in youth and age, and at every time of life, and  to give them punishments and rewards; and in reference to all their  intercourse with one another, he ought to consider their pains and  pleasures and desires, and the vehemence of all their passions; he  should keep a watch over them, and blame and praise them rightly by the  mouth of the laws themselves. Also with regard to anger and terror, and  the other perturbations of the soul, which arise out of misfortune, and  the deliverances from them which prosperity brings, and the experiences  which come to men in diseases, or in war, or poverty, or the opposite of  these; in all these states he should determine and teach what is the  good and evil of the condition of each. In the next place, the  legislator has to be careful how the citizens make their money and in  what way they spend it, and to have an eye to their mutual contracts and  dissolutions of contracts, whether voluntary or involuntary: he should  see how they order all this, and consider where justice as well as  injustice is found or is wanting in their several dealings with one  another; and honour those who obey the law, and impose fixed penalties  on those who disobey, until the round of civil life is ended, and the  time has come for the consideration of the proper funeral rites and  honours of the dead. And the lawgiver reviewing his work, will appoint  guardians to preside over these things — some who walk by intelligence,  others by true opinion only, and then mind will bind together all his  ordinances and show them to be in harmony with temperance and justice,  and not with wealth or ambition.


This is the spirit, Stranger, in which I was and am desirous that you  should pursue the subject. And I want to know the nature of all these  things, and how they are arranged in the laws of Zeus, as they are  termed, and in those of the Pythian Apollo, which Minos and Lycurgus  gave; and how the order of them is discovered to his eyes, who has  experience in laws gained either by study or habit, although they are  far from being self-evident to the rest of mankind like ourselves.


Cle. How shall we proceed, Stranger?


Ath. I think that we must begin again as before, and first consider the  habit of courage; and then we will go on and discuss another and then  another form of virtue, if you please. In this way we shall have a model  of the whole; and with these and similar discourses we will beguile the  way. And when we have gone through all the virtues, we will show, by the  grace of God, that the institutions of which I was speaking look to  virtue.


Meg. Very good; and suppose that you first criticize this praiser of  Zeus and the laws of Crete.


Ath. I will try to criticize you and myself, as well as him, for the  argument is a common concern. Tell me — were not first the syssitia, and  secondly the gymnasia, invented by your legislator with a view to war?


Meg. Yes.


Ath. And what comes third, and what fourth? For that, I think, is the  sort of enumeration which ought to be made of the remaining parts of  virtue, no matter whether you call them parts or what their name is,  provided the meaning is clear.


Meg. Then I, or any other Lacedaemonian, would reply that hunting is  third in order.


Ath. Let us see if we can discover what comes fourth and fifth.


Meg. I think that I can get as far as the fouth head, which is the  frequent endurance of pain, exhibited among us Spartans in certain  hand-to-hand fights; also in stealing with the prospect of getting a  good beating; there is, too, the so-called Crypteia, or secret service,  in which wonderful endurance is shown — our people wander over the whole  country by day and by night, and even in winter have not a shoe to their  foot, and are without beds to lie upon, and have to attend upon  themselves. Marvellous, too, is the endurance which our citizens show in  their naked exercises, contending against the violent summer heat; and  there are many similar practices, to speak of which in detail would be  endless.


Ath. Excellent, O Lacedaemonian Stranger. But how ought we to define  courage? Is it to be regarded only as a combat against fears and pains,  or also against desires and pleasures, and against flatteries; which  exercise such a tremendous power, that they make the hearts even of  respectable citizens to melt like wax?


Meg. I should say the latter.


Ath. In what preceded, as you will remember, our Cnosian friend was  speaking of a man or a city being inferior to themselves: Were you not,  Cleinias?


Cle. I was.


Ath. Now, which is in the truest sense inferior, the man who is overcome  by pleasure or by pain?


Cle. I should say the man who is overcome by pleasure; for all men deem  him to be inferior in a more disgraceful sense, than the other who is  overcome by pain.


Ath. But surely the lawgivers of Crete and Lacedaemon have not  legislated for a courage which is lame of one leg, able only to meet  attacks which come from the left, but impotent against the insidious  flatteries which come from the right?


Cle. Able to meet both, I should say.


Ath. Then let me once more ask, what institutions have you in either of  your states which give a taste of pleasures, and do not avoid them any  more than they avoid pains; but which set a person in the midst of them,  and compel or induce him by the prospect of reward to get the better of  them? Where is an ordinance about pleasure similar to that about pain to  be found in your laws? Tell me what there is of this nature among you:  What is there which makes your citizen equally brave against pleasure  and pain, conquering what they ought to conquer, and superior to the  enemies who are most dangerous and nearest home?


Meg. I was able to tell you, Stranger, many laws which were directed  against pain; but I do not know that I can point out any great or  obvious examples of similar institutions which are concerned with  pleasure; there are some lesser provisions, however, which I might  mention.


Cle. Neither can I show anything of that sort which is at all equally  prominent in the Cretan laws.


Ath. No wonder, my dear friends; and if, as is very likely, in our  search after the true and good, one of us may have to censure the laws  of the others, we must not be offended, but take kindly what another  says.


Cle. You are quite right, Athenian Stranger, and we will do as you say.


Ath. At our time of life, Cleinias, there should be no feeling of  irritation.


Cle. Certainly not.


Ath. I will not at present determine whether he who censures the Cretan  or Lacedaemonian polities is right or wrong. But I believe that I can  tell better than either of you what the many say about them.


For assuming that you have reasonably good laws, one of the best of them  will be the law forbidding any young men to enquire which of them are  right or wrong; but with one mouth and one voice they must all agree  that the laws are all good, for they came from God; and any one who says  the contrary is not to be listened to. But an old man who remarks any  defect in your laws may communicate his observation to a ruler or to an  equal in years when no young man is present.


Cle. Exactly so, Stranger; and like a diviner, although not there at the  time, you seem to me quite to have hit the meaning of the legislator,  and to say what is most true.


Ath. As there are no young men present, and the legislator has given old  men free licence, there will be no impropriety in our discussing these  very matters now that we are alone.


Cle. True. And therefore you may be as free as you like in your censure  of our laws, for there is no discredit in knowing what is wrong; he who  receives what is said in a generous and friendly spirit will be all the  better for it.


Ath. Very good; however, I am not going to say anything against your  laws until to the best of my ability I have examined them, but I am  going to raise doubts about them. For you are the only people known to  us, whether Greek or barbarian, whom the legislator commanded to eschew  all great pleasures and amusements and never to touch them; whereas in  the matter of pains or fears which we have just been discussing, he  thought that they who from infancy had always avoided pains and fears  and sorrows, when they were compelled to face them would run away from  those who were hardened in them, and would become their subjects. Now  the legislator ought to have considered that this was equally true of  pleasure; he should have said to himself, that if our citizens are from  their youth upward unacquainted with the greatest pleasures, and unused  to endure amid the temptations of pleasure, and are not disciplined to  refrain from all things evil, the sweet feeling of pleasure will  overcome them just as fear would overcome the former class; and in  another, and even a worse manner, they will be the slaves of those who  are able to endure amid pleasures, and have had the opportunity of  enjoying them, they being often the worst of mankind. One half of their  souls will be a slave, the other half free; and they will not be worthy  to be called in the true sense men and freemen. Tell me whether you  assent to my words?


Cle. On first hearing, what you say appears to be the truth; but to be  hasty in coming to a conclusion about such important matters would be  very childish and simple.


Ath. Suppose, Cleinias and Megillus, that we consider the virtue which  follows next of those which we intended to discuss (for after courage  comes temperance), what institutions shall we find relating to  temperance, either in Crete or Lacedaemon, which, like your military  institutions, differ from those of any ordinary state.


Meg. That is not an easy question to answer; still I should say that the  common meals and gymnastic exercises have been excellently devised for  the promotion both of temperance and courage.


Ath. There seems to be a difficulty, Stranger, with regard to states, in  making words and facts coincide so that there can be no dispute about  them. As in the human body, the regimen which does good in one way does  harm in another; and we can hardly say that any one course of treatment  is adapted to a particular constitution.


Now the gymnasia and common meals do a great deal of good, and yet they  are a source of evil in civil troubles; as is shown in the case of the  Milesian, and Boeotian, and Thurian youth, among whom these institutions  seem always to have had a tendency to degrade the ancient and natural  custom of love below the level, not only of man, but of the beasts. The  charge may be fairly brought against your cities above all others, and  is true also of most other states which especially cultivate gymnastics.  Whether such matters are to be regarded jestingly or seriously, I think  that the pleasure is to be deemed natural which arises out of the  intercourse between men and women; but that the intercourse of men with  men, or of women with women, is contrary to nature, and that the bold  attempt was originally due to unbridled lust. The Cretans are always  accused of having invented the story of Ganymede and Zeus because they  wanted to justify themselves in the enjoyment of unnatural pleasures by  the practice of the god whom they believe to have been their lawgiver.  Leaving the story, we may observe that any speculation about laws turns  almost entirely on pleasure and pain, both in states and in individuals:  these are two fountains which nature lets flow, and he who draws from  them where and when, and as much as he ought, is happy; and this holds  of men and animals — of individuals as well as states; and he who  indulges in them ignorantly and at the wrong time, is the reverse of  happy.


Meg. I admit, Stranger, that your words are well spoken, and I hardly  know what to say in answer to you; but still I think that the Spartan  lawgiver was quite right in forbidding pleasure. Of the Cretan laws, I  shall leave the defence to my Cnosian friend. But the laws of Sparta, in  as far as they relate to pleasure, appear to me to be the best in the  world; for that which leads mankind in general into the wildest pleasure  and licence, and every other folly, the law has clean driven out; and  neither in the country nor in towns which are under the control of  Sparta, will you find revelries and the many incitements of every kind  of pleasure which accompany them; and any one who meets a drunken and  disorderly person, will immediately have him most severely punished, and  will not let him off on any pretence, not even at the time of a  Dionysiac festival; although I have remarked that this may happen at  your performances “on the cart,” as they are called; and among our  Tarentine colonists I have seen the whole city drunk at a Dionysiac  festival; but nothing of the sort happens among us.


Ath. O Lacedaemonian Stranger, these festivities are praiseworthy where  there is a spirit of endurance, but are very senseless when they are  under no regulations. In order to retaliate, an Athenian has only to  point out the licence which exists among your women. To all such  accusations, whether they are brought against the Tarentines, or us, or  you, there is one answer which exonerates the practice in question from  impropriety. When a stranger expresses wonder at the singularity of what  he sees, any inhabitant will naturally answer him: Wonder not, O  stranger; this is our custom, and you may very likely have some other  custom about the same things. Now we are speaking, my friends, not about  men in general, but about the merits and defects of the lawgivers  themselves. Let us then discourse a little more at length about  intoxication, which is a very important subject, and will seriously task  the discrimination of the legislator.


I am not speaking of drinking, or not drinking, wine at all, but of  intoxication. Are we to follow the custom of the Scythians, and  Persians, and Carthaginians, and Celts, and Iberians, and Thracians, who  are all warlike nations, or that of your countrymen, for they, as you  say, altogether abstain? But the Scythians and Thracians, both men and  women, drink unmixed wine, which they pour on their garments, and this  they think a happy and glorious institution. The Persians, again, are  much given to other practices of luxury which you reject, but they have  more moderation in them than the Thracians and Scythians.


Meg. O best of men, we have only to take arms into our hands, and we  send all these nations flying before us.


Ath. Nay, my good friend, do not say that; there have been, as there  always will be, flights and pursuits of which no account can be given,  and therefore we cannot say that victory or defeat in battle affords  more than a doubtful proof of the goodness or badness of institutions.  For when the greater states conquer and enslave the lesser, as the  Syracusans have done the Locrians, who appear to be the best-governed  people in their part of the world, or as the Athenians have done the  Ceans (and there are ten thousand other instances of the same sort of  thing), all this is not to the point; let us endeavour rather to form a  conclusion about each institution in itself and say nothing, at present,  of victories and defeats. Let us only say that such and such a custom is  honourable, and another not. And first permit me to tell you how good  and bad are to be estimated in reference to these very matters.


Meg. How do you mean?


Ath. All those who are ready at a moment’s notice to praise or censure  any practice which is matter of discussion, seem to me to proceed in a  wrong way. Let me give you an illustration of what I mean: You may  suppose a person to be praising wheat as a good kind of food, whereupon  another person instantly blames wheat, without ever enquiring into its  effect or use, or in what way, or to whom, or with what, or in what  state and how, wheat is to be given. And that is just what we are doing  in this discussion. At the very mention of the word intoxication, one  side is ready with their praises and the other with their censures;  which is absurd. For either side adduce their witnesses and approvers,  and some of us think that we speak with authority because we have many  witnesses; and others because they see those who abstain conquering in  battle, and this again is disputed by us. Now I cannot say that I shall  be satisfied, if we go on discussing each of the remaining laws in the  same way. And about this very point of intoxication I should like to  speak in another way, which I hold to be the right one; for if number is  to be the criterion, are there not myriads upon myriads of nations ready  to dispute the point with you, who are only two cities?


Meg. I shall gladly welcome any method of enquiry which is right.


Ath. Let me put the matter thus: Suppose a person to praise the keeping  of goats, and the creatures themselves as capital things to have, and  then some one who had seen goats feeding without a goatherd in  cultivated spots, and doing mischief, were to censure a goat or any  other animal who has no keeper, or a bad keeper, would there be any  sense or justice in such censure?


Meg. Certainly not.


Ath. Does a captain require only to have nautical knowledge in order to  be a good captain, whether he is sea-sick or not? What do you say?


Meg. I say that he is not a good captain if, although he have nautical  skill, he is liable to sea-sickness.


Ath. And what would you say of the commander of an army? Will he be able  to command merely because he has military skill if he be a coward, who,  when danger comes, is sick and drunk with fear?


Meg. Impossible.


Ath. And what if besides being a coward he has no skill?


Meg. He is a miserable fellow, not fit to be a commander of men, but  only of old women.


Ath. And what would you say of some one who blames or praises any sort  of meeting which is intended by nature to have a ruler, and is well  enough when under his presidency? The critic, however, has never seen  the society meeting together at an orderly feast under the control of a  president, but always without a ruler or with a bad one: when observers  of this class praise or blame such meetings, are we to suppose that what  they say is of any value?


Meg. Certainly not, if they have never seen or been present at such a  meeting when rightly ordered.


Ath. Reflect; may not banqueters and banquets be said to constitute a  kind of meeting?


Meg. Of course.


Ath. And did any one ever see this sort of convivial meeting rightly  ordered? Of course you two will answer that you have never seen them at  all, because they are not customary or lawful in your country; but I  have come across many of them in many different places, and moreover I  have made enquiries about them wherever I went, as I may say, and never  did I see or hear of anything of the kind which was carried on  altogether rightly; in some few particulars they might be right, but in  general they were utterly wrong.


Cle. What do you mean, Stranger, by this remark? Explain; For we, as you  say, from our inexperience in such matters, might very likely not know,  even if they came in our way, what was right or wrong in such societies.


Ath. Likely enough; then let me try to be your instructor: You would  acknowledge, would you not, that in all gatherings of man, kind, of  whatever sort, there ought to be a leader?


Cle. Certainly I should.


Ath. And we were saying just now, that when men are at war the leader  ought to be a brave man?


Cle. We were.


Ath. The brave man is less likely than the coward to be disturbed by  fears?


Cle. That again is true.


Ath. And if there were a possibility of having a general of an army who  was absolutely fearless and imperturbable, should we not by all means  appoint him?


Cle. Assuredly.


Ath. Now, however, we are speaking not of a general who is to command an  army, when foe meets foe in time of war, but of one who is to regulate  meetings of another sort, when friend meets friend in time of peace.


Cle. True.


Ath. And that sort of meeting, if attended with drunkenness, is apt to  be unquiet.


Cle. Certainly; the reverse of quiet.


Ath. In the first place, then, the revellers as well as the soldiers  will require a ruler?


Cle. To be sure; no men more so.


Ath. And we ought, if possible, to provide them with a quiet ruler?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. And he should be a man who understands society; for his duty is to  preserve the friendly feelings which exist among the company at the  time, and to increase them for the future by his use of the occasion.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Must we not appoint a sober man and a wise to be our master of the  revels? For if the ruler of drinkers be himself young and drunken, and  not over-wise, only by some special good fortune will he be saved from  doing some great evil.


Cle. It will be by a singular good fortune that he is saved.


Ath. Now suppose such associations to be framed in the best way possible  in states, and that some one blames the very fact of their existence —  he may very likely be right. But if he blames a practice which he only  sees very much mismanaged, he shows in the first place that he is not  aware of the mismanagement, and also not aware that everything done in  this way will turn out to be wrong, because done without the  superintendence of a sober ruler. Do you not see that a drunken pilot or  a drunken ruler of any sort will ruin ship, chariot, army — anything, in  short, of which he has the direction?


Cle. The last remark is very true, Stranger; and I see quite clearly the  advantage of an army having a good leader — he will give victory in war  to his followers, which is a very great advantage; and so of other  things. But I do not see any similar advantage which either individuals  or states gain from the good management of a feast; and I want you to  tell me what great good will be effected, supposing that this drinking  ordinance is duly established.


Ath. If you mean to ask what great good accrues to the state from the  right training of a single youth, or of a single chorus — when the  question is put in that form, we cannot deny that the good is not very  great in any particular instance. But if you ask what is the good of  education in general, the answer is easy — that education makes good  men, and that good men act nobly, and conquer their enemies in battle,  because they are good. Education certainly gives victory, although  victory sometimes produces forgetfulness of education; for many have  grown insolent from victory in war, and this insolence has engendered in  them innumerable evils; and many a victory has been and will be suicidal  to the victors; but education is never suicidal.


Cle. You seem to imply, my friend, that convivial meetings, when rightly  ordered, are an important element of education.


Ath. Certainly I do.


Cle. And can you show that what you have been saying is true?


Ath. To be absolutely sure of the truth of matters concerning which  there are many opinions, is an attribute of the Gods not given to man,  Stranger; but I shall be very happy to tell you what I think, especially  as we are now proposing to enter on a discussion concerning laws and  constitutions.


Cle. Your opinion, Stranger, about the questions which are now being  raised, is precisely what we want to hear.


Ath. Very good; I will try to find a way of explaining my meaning, and  you shall try to have the gift of understanding me. But first let me  make an apology. The Athenian citizen is reputed among all the Hellenes  to be a great talker, whereas Sparta is renowned for brevity, and the  Cretans have more wit than words. Now I am afraid of appearing to elicit  a very long discourse out of very small materials. For drinking indeed  may appear to be a slight matter, and yet is one which cannot be rightly  ordered according to nature, without correct principles of music; these  are necessary to any clear or satisfactory treatment of the subject, and  music again runs up into education generally, and there is much to be  said about all this.


What would you say then to leaving these matters for the present, and  passing on to some other question of law?


Meg. O Athenian Stranger, let me tell you what perhaps you do not know,  that our family is the proxenus of your state. I imagine that from their  earliest youth all boys, when they are told that they are the proxeni of  a particular state, feel kindly towards their second and this has  certainly been my own feeling. I can well remember from the days of my  boyhood, how, when any Lacedaemonians praised or blamed the Athenians,  they used to say to me — “See, Megillus, how ill or how well,” as the  case might be, “has your state treated us”; and having always had to  fight your battles against detractors when I heard you assailed, I  became warmly attached to you. And I always like to hear the Athenian  tongue spoken; the common saying is quite true, that a good Athenian is  more than ordinarily good, for he is the only man who is freely and  genuinely good by the divine inspiration of his own nature, and is not  manufactured. Therefore be assured that I shall like to hear you say  whatever you have to say.


Cle. Yes, Stranger; and when you have heard me speak, say boldly what is  in your thoughts. Let me remind you of a tie which unites you to Crete.  You must have heard here the story of the prophet Epimenides, who was of  my family, and came to Athens ten years before the Persian war, in  accordance with the response of the Oracle, and offered certain  sacrifices which the God commanded.


The Athenians were at that time in dread of the Persian invasion; and he  said that for ten years they would not come, and that when they came,  they would go away again without accomplishing any of their objects, and  would suffer more evil than they inflicted. At that time my forefathers  formed ties of hospitality with you; thus ancient is the friendship  which I and my parents have had for you.


Ath. You seem to be quite ready to listen; and I am also ready to  perform as much as I can of an almost impossible task, which I will  nevertheless attempt. At the outset of the discussion, let me define the  nature and power of education; for this is the way by which our argument  must travel onwards to the God Dionysus.


Cle. Let us proceed, if you please.


Ath. Well, then, if I tell you what are my notions of education, will  you consider whether they satisfy you?


Cle. Let us hear.


Ath. According to my view, any one who would be good at anything must  practise that thing from his youth upwards, both in sport and earnest,  in its several branches: for example, he who is to be a good builder,  should play at building children’s houses; he who is to be a good  husbandman, at tilling the ground; and those who have the care of their  education should provide them when young with mimic tools. They should  learn beforehand the knowledge which they will afterwards require for  their art. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure or  apply the line in play; and the future warrior should learn riding, or  some other exercise, for amusement, and the teacher should endeavour to  direct the children’s inclinations and pleasures, by the help of  amusements, to their final aim in life. The most important part of  education is right training in the nursery. The soul of the child in his  play should be guided to the love of that sort of excellence in which  when he grows up to manhood he will have to be perfected. Do you agree  with me thus far?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then let us not leave the meaning of education ambiguous or  illdefined. At present, when we speak in terms of praise or blame about  the bringing-up of each person, we call one man educated and another  uneducated, although the uneducated man may be sometimes very well  educated for the calling of a retail trader, or of a captain of a ship,  and the like. For we are not speaking of education in this narrower  sense, but of that other education in virtue from youth upwards, which  makes a man eagerly pursue the ideal perfection of citizenship, and  teaches him how rightly to rule and how to obey. This is the only  education which, upon our view, deserves the name; that other sort of  training, which aims at the acquisition of wealth or bodily strength, or  mere cleverness apart from intelligence and justice, is mean and  illiberal, and is not worthy to be called education at all. But let us  not quarrel with one another about a word, provided that the proposition  which has just been granted hold good: to wit, that those who are  rightly educated generally become good men. Neither must we cast a  slight upon education, which is the first and fairest thing that the  best of men can ever have, and which, though liable to take a wrong  direction, is capable of reformation. And this work of reformation is  the great business of every man while he lives.


Cle. Very true; and we entirely agree with you.


Ath. And we agreed before that they are good men who are able to rule  themselves, and bad men who are not.


Cle. You are quite right.


Ath. Let me now proceed, if I can, to clear up the subject a little  further by an illustration which I will offer you.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. Do we not consider each of ourselves to be one?


Cle. We do.


Ath. And each one of us has in his bosom two counsellors, both foolish  and also antagonistic; of which we call the one pleasure, and the other  pain.


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. Also there are opinions about the future, which have the general  name of expectations; and the specific name of fear, when the  expectation is of pain; and of hope, when of pleasure; and further,  there is reflection about the good or evil of them, and this, when  embodied in a decree by the State, is called Law.


Cle. I am hardly able to follow you; proceed, however, as if I were.


Meg. I am in the like case.


Ath. Let us look at the matter thus: May we not conceive each of us  living beings to be a puppet of the Gods, either their plaything only,  or created with a purpose — which of the two we cannot certainly know?  But we do know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings,  which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and  herein lies the difference between virtue and vice. According to the  argument there is one among these cords which every man ought to grasp  and never let go, but to pull with it against all the rest; and this is  the sacred and golden cord of reason, called by us the common law of the  State; there are others which are hard and of iron, but this one is soft  because golden; and there are several other kinds. Now we ought always  to cooperate with the lead of the best, which is law. For inasmuch as  reason is beautiful and gentle, and not violent, her rule must needs  have ministers in order to help the golden principle in vanquishing the  other principles. And thus the moral of the tale about our being puppets  will not have been lost, and the meaning of the expression “superior or  inferior to a man’s self” will become clearer; and the individual,  attaining to right reason in this matter of pulling the strings of the  puppet, should live according to its rule; while the city, receiving the  same from some god or from one who has knowledge of these things, should  embody it in a law, to be her guide in her dealings with herself and  with other states. In this way virtue and vice will be more clearly  distinguished by us. And when they have become clearer, education and  other institutions will in like manner become clearer; and in particular  that question of convivial entertainment, which may seem, perhaps, to  have been a very trifling matter, and to have taken a great many more  words than were necessary.


Cle. Perhaps, however, the theme may turn out not to be unworthy of the  length of discourse.


Ath. Very good; let us proceed with any enquiry which really bears on  our present object.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. Suppose that we give this puppet of ours drink — what will be the  effect on him?


Cle. Having what in view do you ask that question?


Ath. Nothing as yet; but I ask generally, when the puppet is brought to  the drink, what sort of result is likely to follow. I will endeavour to  explain my meaning more clearly: what I am now asking is thisDoes the  drinking of wine heighten and increase pleasures and pains, and passions  and loves?


Cle. Very greatly.


Ath. And are perception and memory, and opinion and prudence, heightened  and increased? Do not these qualities entirely desert a man if he  becomes saturated with drink?


Cle. Yes, they entirely desert him.


Ath. Does he not return to the state of soul in which he was when a  young child?


Cle. He does.


Ath. Then at that time he will have the least control over himself?


Cle. The least.


Ath. And will he not be in a most wretched plight?


Cle. Most wretched.


Ath. Then not only an old man but also a drunkard becomes a second time  a child?


Cle. Well said, Stranger.


Ath. Is there any argument which will prove to us that we ought to  encourage the taste for drinking instead of doing all we can to avoid  it?


Cle. I suppose that there is; you at any rate, were just now saying that  you were ready to maintain such a doctrine.


Ath. True, I was; and I am ready still, seeing that you have both  declared that you are anxious to hear me.


Cle. To sure we are, if only for the strangeness of the paradox, which  asserts that a man ought of his own accord to plunge into utter  degradation.


Ath. Are you speaking of the soul?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And what would you say about the body, my friend? Are you not  surprised at any one of his own accord bringing upon himself deformity,  leanness, ugliness, decrepitude?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Yet when a man goes of his own accord to a doctor’s shop, and takes  medicine, is he not aware that soon, and for many days afterwards, he  will be in a state of body which he would die rather than accept as the  permanent condition of his life? Are not those who train in gymnasia, at  first beginning reduced to a state of weakness?


Cle. Yes, all that is well known.


Ath. Also that they go of their own accord for the sake of the  subsequent benefit?


Cle. Very good.


Ath. And we may conceive this to be true in the same way of other  practices?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And the same view may be taken of the pastime of drinking wine, if  we are right in supposing that the same good effect follows?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. If such convivialities should turn out to have any advantage equal  in importance to that of gymnastic, they are in their very nature to be  preferred to mere bodily exercise, inasmuch as they have no  accompaniment of pain.


Cle. True; but I hardly think that we shall be able to discover any such  benefits to be derived from them.


Ath. That is just what we must endeavour to show. And let me ask you a  question: Do we not distinguish two kinds of fear, which are very  different?


Cle. What are they?


Ath. There is the fear of expected evil.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And there is the fear of an evil reputation; we are afraid of being  thought evil, because we do or say some dishonourable thing, which fear  we and all men term shame.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. These are the two fears, as I called them; one of which is the  opposite of pain and other fears, and the opposite also of the greatest  and most numerous sort of pleasures.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And does not the legislator and every one who is good for anything,  hold this fear in the greatest honour? This is what he terms reverence,  and the confidence which is the reverse of this he terms insolence; and  the latter he always deems to be a very great evil both to individuals  and to states.


Cle. True.


Ath. Does not this kind of fear preserve us in many important ways? What  is there which so surely gives victory and safety in war? For there are  two things which give victory — confidence before enemies, and fear of  disgrace before friends.


Cle. There are.


Ath. Then each of us should be fearless and also fearful; and why we  should be either has now been determined.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And when we want to make any one fearless, we and the law bring him  face to face with many fears.


Cle. Clearly.


Ath. And when we want to make him rightly fearful, must we not introduce  him to shameless pleasures, and train him to take up arms against them,  and to overcome them? Or does this principle apply to courage only, and  must he who would be perfect in valour fight against and overcome his  own natural character — since if he be unpractised and inexperienced in  such conflicts, he will not be half the man which he might have been —  and are we to suppose, that with temperance it is otherwise, and that he  who has never fought with the shameless and unrighteous temptations of  his pleasures and lusts, and conquered them, in earnest and in play, by  word, deed, and act, will still be perfectly temperate?


Cle. A most unlikely supposition.


Ath. Suppose that some God had given a fear-potion to men, and that the  more a man drank of this the more he regarded himself at every draught  as a child of misfortune, and that he feared everything happening or  about to happen to him; and that at last the most courageous of men  utterly lost his presence of mind for a time, and only came to himself  again when he had slept off the influence of the draught.


Cle. But has such a draught, Stranger, ever really been known among men?


Ath. No; but, if there had been, might not such a draught have been of  use to the legislator as a test of courage? Might we not go and say to  him, “O legislator, whether you are legislating for the Cretan, or for  any other state, would you not like to have a touchstone of the courage  and cowardice of your citizens?”


Cle. “I should,” will be the answer of every one.


Ath. “And you would rather have a touchstone in which there is no risk  and no great danger than the reverse?”


Cle. In that proposition every one may safely agree.


Ath. “And in order to make use of the draught, you would lead them amid  these imaginary terrors, and prove them, when the affection of fear was  working upon them, and compel them to be fearless, exhorting and  admonishing them; and also honouring them, but dishonouring any one who  will not be persuaded by you to be in all respects such as you command  him; and if he underwent the trial well and manfully, you would let him  go unscathed; but if ill, you would inflict a punishment upon him? Or  would you abstain from using the potion altogether, although you have no  reason for abstaining?”


Cle. He would be certain, Stranger, to use the potion.


Ath. This would be a mode of testing and training which would be  wonderfully easy in comparison with those now in use, and might be  applied to a single person, or to a few, or indeed to any number; and he  would do well who provided himself with the potion only, rather than  with any number of other things, whether he preferred to be by himself  in solitude, and there contend with his fears, because he was ashamed to  be seen by the eye of man until he was perfect; or trusting to the force  of his own nature and habits, and believing that he had been already  disciplined sufficiently, he did not hesitate to train himself in  company with any number of others, and display his power in conquering  the irresistible change effected by the draught — his virtue being such,  that he never in any instance fell into any great unseemliness, but was  always himself, and left off before he arrived at the last cup, fearing  that he, like all other men, might be overcome by the potion.


Cle. Yes, Stranger, in that last case, too, he might equally show his  selfcontrol.


Ath. Let us return to the lawgiver, and say to him:


“Well, lawgiver, there is certainly no such fear-potion which man has  either received from the Gods or himself discovered; for witchcraft has  no place at our board. But is there any potion which might serve as a  test of overboldness and excessive and indiscreet boasting?"


Cle. I suppose that he will say, Yes — meaning that wine is such a  potion.


Ath. Is not the effect of this quite the opposite of the effect of the  other? When a man drinks wine he begins to be better pleased with  himself, and the more he drinks the more he is filled full of brave  hopes, and conceit of his power, and at last the string of his tongue is  loosened, and fancying himself wise, he is brimming over with  lawlessness, and has no more fear or respect, and is ready to do or say  anything.


Cle. I think that every one will admit the truth of your description.


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. Now, let us remember, as we were saying, that there are two things  which should be cultivated in the soul: first, the greatest courage;  secondly, the greatest fear.


Cle. Which you said to be characteristic of reverence, if I am not  mistaken.


Ath. Thank you for reminding me. But now, as the habit of courage and  fearlessness is to be trained amid fears, let us consider whether the  opposite quality is not also to be trained among opposites.


Cle. That is probably the case.


Ath. There are times and seasons at which we are by nature more than  commonly valiant and bold; now we ought to train ourselves on these  occasions to be as free from impudence and shamelessness as possible,  and to be afraid to say or suffer or do anything that is base.


Cle. True.


Ath. Are not the moments in which we are apt to be bold and shameless  such as these? — when we are under the influence of anger, love, pride,  ignorance, avarice, cowardice? or when wealth, beauty, strength, and all  the intoxicating workings of pleasure madden us? What is better adapted  than the festive use of wine, in the first place to test, and in the  second place to train the character of a man, if care be taken in the  use of it? What is there cheaper, or more innocent? For do but consider  which is the greater risk: Would you rather test a man of a morose and  savage nature, which is the source of ten thousand acts of injustice, by  making bargains with him at a risk to yourself, or by having him as a  companion at the festival of Dionysus? Or would you, if you wanted to  apply a touchstone to a man who is prone to love, entrust your wife, or  your sons, or daughters to him, perilling your dearest interests in  order to have a view of the condition of his soul? I might mention  numberless cases, in which the advantage would be manifest of getting to  know a character in sport, and without paying dearly for experience. And  I do not believe that either a Cretan, or any other man, will doubt that  such a test is a fair test, and safer, cheaper, and speedier than any  other.


Cle. That is certainly true.


Ath. And this knowledge of the natures and habits of men’s souls will be  of the greatest use in that art which has the management of them; and  that art, if I am not mistaken, is politics.


Cle. Exactly so.





Athenian Stranger. And now we have to consider whether the insight into  human nature is the only benefit derived from well ordered potations, or  whether there are not other advantages great and much to be desired. The  argument seems to imply that there are. But how and in what way these  are to be attained, will have to be considered attentively, or we may be  entangled in error.


Cleinias. Proceed.


Ath. Let me once more recall our doctrine of right education; which, if  I am not mistaken, depends on the due regulation of convivial  intercourse.


Cle. You talk rather grandly.


Ath. Pleasure and pain I maintain to be the first perceptions of  children, and I say that they are the forms under which virtue and vice  are originally present to them. As to wisdom and true and fixed  opinions, happy is the man who acquires them, even when declining in  years; and we may say that he who possesses them, and the blessings  which are contained in them, is a perfect man. Now I mean by education  that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts  of virtue in children; — when pleasure, and friendship, and pain, and  hatred, are rightly implanted in souls not yet capable of understanding  the nature of them, and who find them, after they have attained reason,  to be in harmony with her. This harmony of the soul, taken as a whole,  is virtue; but the particular training in respect of pleasure and pain,  which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate, and love what you  ought to love from the beginning of life to the end, may be separated  off; and, in my view, will be rightly called education.


Cle. I think, Stranger, that you are quite right in all that you have  said and are saying about education.


Ath. I am glad to hear that you agree with me; for, indeed, the  discipline of pleasure and pain which, when rightly ordered, is a  principle of education, has been often relaxed and corrupted in human  life. And the Gods, pitying the toils which our race is born to undergo,  have appointed holy festivals, wherein men alternate rest with labour;  and have given them the Muses and Apollo, the leader of the Muses, and  Dionysus, to be companions in their revels, that they may improve their  education by taking part in the festivals of the Gods, and with their  help. I should like to know whether a common saying is in our opinion  true to nature or not.


For men say that the young of all creatures cannot be quiet in their  bodies or in their voices; they are always wanting to move and cry out;  some leaping and skipping, and overflowing with sportiveness and delight  at something, others uttering all sorts of cries. But, whereas the  animals have no perception of order or disorder in their movements, that  is, of rhythm or harmony, as they are called, to us, the Gods, who, as  we say, have been appointed to be our companions in the dance, have  given the pleasurable sense of harmony and rhythm; and so they stir us  into life, and we follow them, joining hands together in dances and  songs; and these they call choruses, which is a term naturally  expressive of cheerfulness.


Shall we begin, then, with the acknowledgment that education is first  given through Apollo and the Muses? What do you say?


Cle. I assent.


Ath. And the uneducated is he who has not been trained in the chorus,  and the educated is he who has been well trained?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And the chorus is made up of two parts, dance and song?


Cle. True.


Ath. Then he who is well educated will be able to sing and dance well?


Cle. I suppose that he will.


Ath. Let us see; what are we saying?


Cle. What?


Ath. He sings well and dances well; now must we add that he sings what  is good and dances what is good?


Cle. Let us make the addition.


Ath. We will suppose that he knows the good to be good, and the bad to  be bad, and makes use of them accordingly: which now is the better  trained in dancing and music — he who is able to move his body and to  use his voice in what is understood to be the right manner, but has no  delight in good or hatred of evil; or he who is incorrect in gesture and  voice, but is right in his sense of pleasure and pain, and welcomes what  is good, and is offended at what is evil?


Cle. There is a great difference, Stranger, in the two kinds of  education.


Ath. If we three know what is good in song and dance, then we truly know  also who is educated and who is uneducated; but if not, then we  certainly shall not know wherein lies the safeguard of education, and  whether there is any or not.


Cle. True.


Ath. Let us follow the scent like hounds, and go in pursuit of beauty of  figure, and melody, and song, and dance; if these escape us, there will  be no use in talking about true education, whether Hellenic or  barbarian.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And what is beauty of figure, or beautiful melody? When a manly  soul is in trouble, and when a cowardly soul is in similar case, are  they likely to use the same figures and gestures, or to give utterance  to the same sounds?


Cle. How can they, when the very colours of their faces differ?


Ath. Good, my friend; I may observe, however, in passing, that in music  there certainly are figures and there are melodies: and music is  concerned with harmony and rhythm, so that you may speak of a melody or  figure having good rhythm or good harmony — the term is correct enough;  but to speak metaphorically of a melody or figure having a “good  colour,” as the masters of choruses do, is not allowable, although you  can speak of the melodies or figures of the brave and the coward,  praising the one and censuring the other. And not to be tedious, let us  say that the figures and melodies which are expressive of virtue of soul  or body, or of images of virtue, are without exception good, and those  which are expressive of vice are the reverse of good.


Cle. Your suggestion is excellent; and let us answer that these things  are so.


Ath. Once more, are all of us equally delighted with every sort of  dance?


Cle. Far otherwise.


Ath. What, then, leads us astray? Are beautiful things not the same to  us all, or are they the same in themselves, but not in our opinion of  them? For no one will admit that forms of vice in the dance are more  beautiful than forms of virtue, or that he himself delights in the forms  of vice, and others in a muse of another character. And yet most persons  say, that the excellence of music is to give pleasure to our souls. But  this is intolerable and blasphemous; there is, however, a much more  plausible account of the delusion.


Cle. What?


Ath. The adaptation of art to the characters of men. Choric movements  are imitations of manners occurring in various actions, fortunes,  dispositions — each particular is imitated, and those to whom the words,  or songs, or dances are suited, either by nature or habit or both,  cannot help feeling pleasure in them and applauding them, and calling  them beautiful. But those whose natures, or ways, or habits are unsuited  to them, cannot delight in them or applaud them, and they call them  base. There are others, again, whose natures are right and their habits  wrong, or whose habits are right and their natures wrong, and they  praise one thing, but are pleased at another. For they say that all  these imitations are pleasant, but not good. And in the presence of  those whom they think wise, they are ashamed of dancing and singing in  the baser manner, or of deliberately lending any countenance to such  proceedings; and yet, they have a secret pleasure in them.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And is any harm done to the lover of vicious dances or songs, or  any good done to the approver of the opposite sort of pleasure?


Cle. I think that there is.


Ath. “I think” is not the word, but I would say, rather, “I am certain.”  For must they not have the same effect as when a man associates with bad  characters, whom he likes and approves rather than dislikes, and only  censures playfully because he has a suspicion of his own badness? In  that case, he who takes pleasure in them will surely become like those  in whom he takes pleasure, even though he be ashamed to praise them. And  what greater good or evil can any destiny ever make us undergo?


Cle. I know of none.


Ath. Then in a city which has good laws, or in future ages is to have  them, bearing in mind the instruction and amusement which are given by  music, can we suppose that the poets are to be allowed to teach in the  dance anything which they themselves like, in the way of rhythm, or  melody, or words, to the young children of any wellconditioned parents?  Is the poet to train his choruses as he pleases, without reference to  virtue or vice?


Cle. That is surely quite unreasonable, and is not to be thought of.


Ath. And yet he may do this in almost any state with the exception of  Egypt.


Cle. And what are the laws about music and dancing in Egypt?


Ath. You will wonder when I tell you: Long ago they appear to have  recognized the very principle of which we are now speaking — that their  young citizens must be habituated to forms and strains of virtue. These  they fixed, and exhibited the patterns of them in their temples; and no  painter or artist is allowed to innovate upon them, or to leave the  traditional forms and invent new ones. To this day, no alteration is  allowed either in these arts, or in music at all. And you will find that  their works of art are painted or moulded in the same forms which they  had ten thousand years ago; — this is literally true and no exaggeration  — their ancient paintings and sculptures are not a whit better or worse  than the work of to-day, but are made with just the same skill.


Cle. How extraordinary!


Ath. I should rather say, How statesmanlike, how worthy of a legislator!  I know that other things in Egypt are nat so well. But what I am telling  you about music is true and deserving of consideration, because showing  that a lawgiver may institute melodies which have a natural truth and  correctness without any fear of failure. To do this, however, must be  the work of God, or of a divine person; in Egypt they have a tradition  that their ancient chants which have been preserved for so many ages are  the composition of the Goddess Isis. And therefore, as I was saying, if  a person can only find in any way the natural melodies, he may  confidently embody them in a fixed and legal form. For the love of  novelty which arises out of pleasure in the new and weariness of the  old, has not strength enough to corrupt the consecrated song and dance,  under the plea that they have become antiquated. At any rate, they are  far from being corrupted in Egypt.


Cle. Your arguments seem to prove your point.


Ath. May we not confidently say that the true use of music and of choral  festivities is as follows: We rejoice when we think that we prosper, and  again we think that we prosper when we rejoice?


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. And when rejoicing in our good fortune, we are unable to be still?


Cle. True.


Ath. Our young men break forth into dancing and singing, and we who are  their elders deem that we are fulfilling our part in life when we look  on at them. Having lost our agility, we delight in their sports and  merry-making, because we love to think of our former selves; and gladly  institute contests for those who are able to awaken in us the memory of  our youth.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Is it altogether unmeaning to say, as the common people do about  festivals, that he should be adjudged the wisest of men, and the winner  of the palm, who gives us the greatest amount of pleasure and mirth? For  on such occasions, and when mirth is the order of the day, ought not he  to be honoured most, and, as I was saying, bear the palm, who gives most  mirth to the greatest number? Now is this a true way of speaking or of  acting?


Cle. Possibly.


Ath. But, my dear friend, let us distinguish between different cases,  and not be hasty in forming a judgment: One way of considering the  question will be to imagine a festival at which there are entertainments  of all sorts, including gymnastic, musical, and equestrian contests: the  citizens are assembled; prizes are offered, and proclamation is made  that any one who likes may enter the lists, and that he is to bear the  palm who gives the most pleasure to the spectators — there is to be no  regulation about the manner how; but he who is most successful in giving  pleasure is to be crowned victor, and deemed to be the pleasantest of  the candidates: What is likely to be the result of such a proclamation?


Cle. In what respect?


Ath. There would be various exhibitions: one man, like Homer, will  exhibit a rhapsody, another a performance on the lute; one will have a  tragedy, and another a comedy. Nor would there be anything astonishing  in some one imagining that he could gain the prize by exhibiting a  puppet-show. Suppose these competitors to meet, and not these only, but  innumerable others as well can you tell me who ought to be the victor?


Cle. I do not see how any one can answer you, or pretend to know, unless  he has heard with his own ears the several competitors; the question is  absurd.


Ath. Well, then, if neither of you can answer, shall I answer this  question which you deem so absurd?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. If very small children are to determine the question, they will  decide for the puppet show.


Cle. Of course.


Ath. The older children will be advocates of comedy; educated women, and  young men, and people in general, will favour tragedy.


Cle. Very likely.


Ath. And I believe that we old men would have the greatest pleasure in  hearing a rhapsodist recite well the Iliad and Odyssey, or one of the  Hesiodic poems, and would award the victory to him. But, who would  really be the victor? — that is the question.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Clearly you and I will have to declare that those whom we old men  adjudge victors ought to win; for our ways are far and away better than  any which at present exist anywhere in the world.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Thus far I too should agree with the many, that the excellence of  music is to be measured by pleasure. But the pleasure must not be that  of chance persons; the fairest music is that which delights the best and  best educated, and especially that which delights the one man who is  pre-eminent in virtue and education. And therefore the judges must be  men of character, for they will require both wisdom and courage; the  true judge must not draw his inspiration from the theatre, nor ought he  to be unnerved by the clamour of the many and his own incapacity; nor  again, knowing the truth, ought he through cowardice and unmanliness  carelessly to deliver a lying judgment, with the very same lips which  have just appealed to the Gods before he judged. He is sitting not as  the disciple of the theatre, but, in his proper place, as their  instructor, and he ought to be the enemy of all pandering to the  pleasure of the spectators. The ancient and common custom of Hellas,  which still prevails in Italy and Sicily, did certainly leave the  judgment to the body of spectators, who determined the victor by show of  hands.


But this custom has been the destruction of the poets; for they are now  in the habit of composing with a view to please the bad taste of their  judges, and the result is that the spectators instruct themselves; — and  also it has been the ruin of the theatre; they ought to be having  characters put before them better than their own, and so receiving a  higher pleasure, but now by their own act the opposite result follows.  What inference is to be drawn from all this? Shall I tell you?


Cle. What?


Ath. The inference at which we arrive for the third or fourth time is,  that education is the constraining and directing of youth towards that  right reason, which the law affirms, and which the experience of the  eldest and best has agreed to be truly right. In order, then, that the  soul of the child may not be habituated to feel joy and sorrow in a  manner at variance with the law, and those who obey the law, but may  rather follow the law and rejoice and sorrow at the same things as the  aged — in order, I say, to produce this effect, chants appear to have  been invented, which really enchant, and are designed to implant that  harmony of which we speak. And, because the mind of the child is  incapable of enduring serious training, they are called plays and songs,  and are performed in play; just as when men are sick and ailing in their  bodies, their attendants give them wholesome diet in pleasant meats and  drinks, but unwholesome diet in disagreeable things, in order that they  may learn, as they ought, to like the one, and to dislike the other. And  similarly the true legislator will persuade, and, if he cannot persuade,  will compel the poet to express, as he ought, by fair and noble words,  in his rhythms, the figures, and in his melodies, the music of temperate  and brave and in every way good men.


Cle. But do you really imagine, Stranger, that this is the way in which  poets generally compose in States at the present day? As far as I can  observe, except among us and among the Lacedaemonians, there are no  regulations like those of which you speak; in other places novelties are  always being introduced in dancing and in music, generally not under the  authority of any law, but at the instigation of lawless pleasures; and  these pleasures are so far from being the same, as you describe the  Egyptian to be, or having the same principles, that they are never the  same.


Ath. Most true, Cleinias; and I daresay that I may have expressed myself  obscurely, and so led you to imagine that I was speaking of some really  existing state of things, whereas I was only saying what regulations I  would like to have about music; and hence there occurred a  misapprehension on your part. For when evils are far gone and  irremediable, the task of censuring them is never pleasant, although at  times necessary. But as we do not really differ, will you let me ask you  whether you consider such institutions to be more prevalent among the  Cretans and Lacedaemonians than among the other Hellenes?


Cle. Certainly they are.


Ath. And if they were extended to the other Hellenes, would it be an  improvement on the present state of things?


Cle. A very great improvement, if the customs which prevail among them  were such as prevail among us and the Lacedaemonians, and such as you  were just now saying ought to prevail.


Ath. Let us see whether we understand one another: Are not the  principles of education and music which prevail among you as follows:  you compel your poets to say that the good man, if he be temperate and  just, is fortunate and happy; and this whether he be great and strong or  small and weak, and whether he be rich or poor; and, on the other hand,  if he have a wealth passing that of Cinyras or Midas, and be unjust, he  is wretched and lives in misery? As the poet says, and with truth: I  sing not, I care not about him who accomplishes all noble things, not  having justice; let him who “draws near and stretches out his hand  against his enemies be a just man.” But if he be unjust, I would not  have him “look calmly upon bloody death,” nor “surpass in swiftness the  Thracian Boreas”; and let no other thing that is called good ever be  his. For the goods of which the many speak are not really good: first in  the catalogue is placed health, beauty next, wealth third; and then  innumerable others, as for example to have a keen eye or a quick ear,  and in general to have all the senses perfect; or, again, to be a tyrant  and do as you like; and the final consummation of happiness is to have  acquired all these things, and when you have acquired them to become at  once immortal. But you and I say, that while to the just and holy all  these things are the best of possessions, to the unjust they are all,  including even health, the greatest of evils. For in truth, to have  sight, and hearing, and the use of the senses, or to live at all without  justice and virtue, even though a man be rich in all the so-called goods  of fortune, is the greatest of evils, if life be immortal; but not so  great, if the bad man lives only a very short time. These are the truths  which, if I am not mistaken, you will persuade or compel your poets to  utter with suitable accompaniments of harmony and rhythm, and in these  they must train up your youth. Am I not right? For I plainly declare  that evils as they are termed are goods to the unjust, and only evils to  the just, and that goods are truly good to the good, but evil to the  evil.


Let me ask again, Are you and I agreed about this?


Cle. I think that we partly agree and partly do not.


Ath. When a man has health and wealth and a tyranny which lasts, and  when he is preeminent in strength and courage, and has the gift of  immortality, and none of the so-called evils which counter-balance these  goods, but only the injustice and insolence of his own natureof such an  one you are, I suspect, unwilling to believe that he is miserable rather  than happy.


Cle. That is quite true.


Ath. Once more: Suppose that he be valiant and strong, and handsome and  rich, and does throughout his whole life whatever he likes, still, if he  be unrighteous and insolent, would not both of you agree that he will of  necessity live basely? You will surely grant so much?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And an evil life too?


Cle. I am not equally disposed to grant that.


Ath. Will he not live painfully and to his own disadvantage?


Cle. How can I possibly say so?


Ath. How! Then may Heaven make us to be of one mind, for now we are of  two. To me, dear Cleinias, the truth of what I am saying is as plain as  the fact that Crete is an island. And, if I were a lawgiver, I would try  to make the poets and all the citizens speak in this strain, and I would  inflict the heaviest penalties on any one in all the land who should  dare to say that there are bad men who lead pleasant lives, or that the  profitable and gainful is one thing, and the just another; and there are  many other matters about which I should make my citizens speak in a  manner different from the Cretans and Lacedaemonians of this age, and I  may say, indeed, from the world in general. For tell me, my good  friends, by Zeus and Apollo tell me, if I were to ask these same Gods  who were your legislators — Is not the most just life also the  pleasantest? or are there two lives, one of which is the justest and the  other the pleasantest? — and they were to reply that there are two; and  thereupon I proceeded to ask, (that would be the right way of pursuing  the enquiry), Which are the happier — those who lead the justest, or  those who lead the pleasantest life? and they replied, Those who lead  the pleasantest — that would be a very strange answer, which I should  not like to put into the mouth of the Gods. The words will come with  more propriety from the lips of fathers and legislators, and therefore I  will repeat my former questions to one of them, and suppose him to say  again that he who leads the pleasantest life is the happiest. And to  that I rejoin: O my father, did you not wish me to live as happily as  possible? And yet you also never ceased telling me that I should live as  justly as possible. Now, here the giver of the rule, whether he be  legislator or father, will be in a dilemma, and will in vain endeavour  to be consistent with himself. But if he were to declare that the  justest life is also the happiest, every one hearing him would enquire,  if I am not mistaken, what is that good and noble principle in life  which the law approves, and which is superior to pleasure.


For what good can the just man have which is separated from pleasure?  Shall we say that glory and fame, coming from Gods and men, though good  and noble, are nevertheless unpleasant, and infamy pleasant? Certainly  not, sweet legislator. Or shall we say that the not-doing of wrong and  there being no wrong done is good and honourable, although there is no  pleasure in it, and that the doing wrong is pleasant, but evil and base?


Cle. Impossible.


Ath. The view which identifies the pleasant and the pleasant and the  just and the good and the noble has an excellent moral and religious  tendency. And the opposite view is most at variance with the designs of  the legislator, and is, in his opinion, infamous; for no one, if he can  help, will be persuaded to do that which gives him more pain than  pleasure. But as distant prospects are apt to make us dizzy, especially  in childhood, the legislator will try to purge away the darkness and  exhibit the truth; he will persuade the citizens, in some way or other,  by customs and praises and words, that just and unjust are shadows only,  and that injustice, which seems opposed to justice, when contemplated by  the unjust and evil man appears pleasant and the just most unpleasant;  but that from the just man’s point of view, the very opposite is the  appearance of both of them.


Cle. True.


Ath. And which may be supposed to be the truer judgment — that of the  inferior or of the better soul?


Cle. Surely, that of the better soul.


Ath. Then the unjust life must not only be more base and depraved, but  also more unpleasant than the just and holy life?


Cle. That seems to be implied in the present argument.


Ath. And even supposing this were otherwise, and not as the argument has  proven, still the lawgiver, who is worth anything, if he ever ventures  to tell a lie to the young for their good, could not invent a more  useful lie than this, or one which will have a better effect in making  them do what is right, not on compulsion but voluntarily.


Cle. Truth, Stranger, is a noble thing and a lasting, but a thing of  which men are hard to be persuaded.


Ath. And yet the story of the Sidonian Cadmus, which is so improbable,  has been readily believed, and also innumerable other tales.


Cle. What is that story?


Ath. The story of armed men springing up after the sowing of teeth,  which the legislator may take as a proof that he can persuade the minds  of the young of anything; so that he has only to reflect and find out  what belief will be of the greatest public advantage, and then use all  his efforts to make the whole community utter one and the same word in  their songs and tales and discourses all their life long. But if you do  not agree with me, there is no reason why you should not argue on the  other side.


Cle. I do not see that any argument can fairly be raised by either of us  against what you are now saying.


Ath. The next suggestion which I have to offer is, that all our three  choruses shall sing to the young and tender souls of children, reciting  in their strains all the noble thoughts of which we have already spoken,  or are about to speak; and the sum of them shall be, that the life which  is by the Gods deemed to be the happiest is also the best; — we shall  affirm this to be a most certain truth; and the minds of our young  disciples will be more likely to receive these words of ours than any  others which we might address to them.


Cle. I assent to what you say.


Ath. First will enter in their natural order the sacred choir composed  of children, which is to sing lustily the heaven-taught lay to the whole  city. Next will follow the choir of young men under the age of thirty,  who will call upon the God Paean to testify to the truth of their words,  and will pray him to be gracious to the youth and to turn their hearts.  Thirdly, the choir of elder men, who are from thirty to sixty years of  age, will also sing. There remain those who are too old to sing, and  they will tell stories, illustrating the same virtues, as with the voice  of an oracle.


Cle. Who are those who compose the third choir, Stranger? for I do not  clearly understand what you mean to say about them.


Ath. And yet almost all that I have been saying has said with a view to  them.


Cle. Will you try to be a little plainer?


Ath. I was speaking at the commencement of our discourse, as you will  remember, of the fiery nature of young creatures: I said that they were  unable to keep quiet either in limb or voice, and that they called out  and jumped about in a disorderly manner; and that no other animal  attained to any perception of order, but man only.


Now the order of motion is called rhythm, and the order of the voice, in  which high and low are duly mingled, is called harmony; and both  together are termed choric song. And I said that the Gods had pity on  us, and gave us Apollo and the Muses to be our playfellows and leaders  in the dance; and Dionysus, as I dare say that you will remember, was  the third.


Cle. I quite remember.


Ath. Thus far I have spoken of the chorus of Apollo and the Muses, and I  have still to speak of the remaining chorus, which is that of Dionysus.


Cle. How is that arranged? There is something strange, at any rate on  first hearing, in a Dionysiac chorus of old men, if you really mean that  those who are above thirty, and may be fifty, or from fifty to sixty  years of age, are to dance in his honour.


Ath. Very true; and therefore it must be shown that there is good reason  for the proposal.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Are we agreed thus far?


Cle. About what?


Ath. That every man and boy, slave and free, both sexes, and the whole  city, should never cease charming themselves with the strains of which  we have spoken; and that there should be every sort of change and  variation of them in order to take away the effect of sameness, so that  the singers may always receive pleasure from their hymns, and may never  weary of them?


Cle. Every one will agree.


Ath. Where, then, will that best part of our city which, by reason of  age and intelligence, has the greatest influence, sing these fairest of  strains, which are to do so much good? Shall we be so foolish as to let  them off who would give us the most beautiful and also the most useful  of songs?


Cle. But, says the argument, we cannot let them off.


Ath. Then how can we carry out our purpose with decorum? Will this be  the way?


Cle. What?


Ath. When a man is advancing in years, he is afraid and reluctant to  sing; — he has no pleasure in his own performances; and if compulsion is  used, he will be more and more ashamed, the older and more discreet he  grows; — is not this true?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Well, and will he not be yet more ashamed if he has to stand up and  sing in the theatre to a mixed audience? — and if moreover when he is  required to do so, like the other choirs who contend for prizes, and  have been trained under a singing master, he is pinched and hungry, he  will certainly have a feeling of shame and discomfort which will make  him very unwilling to exhibit.


Cle. No doubt.


Ath. How, then, shall we reassure him, and get him to sing? Shall we  begin by enacting that boys shall not taste wine at all until they are  eighteen years of age; we will tell them that fire must not be poured  upon fire, whether in the body or in the soul, until they begin to go to  work — this is a precaution which has to be taken against the  excitableness of youth; — afterwards they may taste wine in moderation  up to the age of thirty, but while a man is young he should abstain  altogether from intoxication and from excess of wine; when, at length,  he has reached forty years, after dinner at a public mess, he may invite  not only the other Gods, but Dionysus above all, to the mystery and  festivity of the elder men, making use of the wine which he has given  men to lighten the sourness of old age; that in age we may renew our  youth, and forget our sorrows; and also in order that the nature of the  soul, like iron melted in the fire, may become softer and so more  impressible. In the first place, will not any one who is thus mellowed  be more ready and less ashamed to sing — I do not say before a large  audience, but before a moderate company; nor yet among strangers, but  among his familiars, and, as we have often said, to chant, and to  enchant?


Cle. He will be far more ready.


Ath. There will be no impropriety in our using such a method of  persuading them to join with us in song.


Cle. None at all.


Ath. And what strain will they sing, and what muse will they hymn? The  strain should clearly be one suitable to them.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And what strain is suitable for heroes? Shall they sing a choric  strain?


Cle. Truly, Stranger, we of Crete and Lacedaemon know no strain other  than that which we have learnt and been accustomed to sing in our  chorus.


Ath. I dare say; for you have never acquired the knowledge of the most  beautiful kind of song, in your military way of life, which is modelled  after the camp, and is not like that of dwellers in cities; and you have  your young men herding and feeding together like young colts. No one  takes his own individual colt and drags him away from his fellows  against his will, raging and foaming, and gives him a groom to attend to  him alone, and trains and rubs him down privately, and gives him the  qualities in education which will make him not only a good soldier, but  also a governor of a state and of cities. Such an one, as we said at  first, would be a greater warrior than he of whom Tyrtaeus sings; and he  would honour courage everywhere, but always as the fourth, and not as  the first part of virtue, either in individuals or states.


Cle. Once more, Stranger, I must complain that you depreciate our  lawgivers.


Ath. Not intentionally, if at all, my good friend; but whither the  argument leads, thither let us follow; for if there be indeed some  strain of song more beautiful than that of the choruses or the public  theatres, I should like to impart it to those who, as we say, are  ashamed of these, and want to have the best.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. When things have an accompanying charm, either the best thing in  them is this very charm, or there is some rightness or utility possessed  by them; — for example, I should say that eating and drinking, and the  use of food in general, have an accompanying charm which we call  pleasure; but that this rightness and utility is just the healthfulness  of the things served up to us, which is their true rightness.


Cle. Just so.


Ath. Thus, too, I should say that learning has a certain accompanying  charm which is the pleasure; but that the right and the profitable, the  good and the noble, are qualities which the truth gives to it.


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. And so in the imitative arts — if they succeed in making  likenesses, and are accompanied by pleasure, may not their works be said  to have a charm?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. But equal proportions, whether of quality or quantity, and not  pleasure, speaking generally, would give them truth or rightness.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Then that only can be rightly judged by the standard of pleasure,  which makes or furnishes no utility or truth or likeness, nor on the  other hand is productive of any hurtful quality, but exists solely for  the sake of the accompanying charm; and the term “pleasure” is most  appropriately applied to it when these other qualities are absent.


Cle. You are speaking of harmless pleasure, are you not?


Ath. Yes; and this I term amusement, when doing neither harm nor good in  any degree worth speaking of.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Then, if such be our principles, we must assert that imitation is  not to be judged of by pleasure and false opinion; and this is true of  all equality, for the equal is not equal or the symmetrical symmetrical,  because somebody thinks or likes something, but they are to be judged of  by the standard of truth, and by no other whatever.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. Do we not regard all music as representative and imitative?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then, when any one says that music is to be judged of by pleasure,  his doctrine cannot be admitted; and if there be any music of which  pleasure is the criterion, such music is not to be sought out or deemed  to have any real excellence, but only that other kind of music which is  an imitation of the good.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And those who seek for the best kind of song and music ought not to  seek for that which is pleasant, but for that which is true; and the  truth of imitation consists, as we were saying, in rendering the thing  imitated according to quantity and quality.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And every one will admit that musical compositions are all  imitative and representative. Will not poets and spectators and actors  all agree in this?


Cle. They will.


Ath. Surely then he who would judge correctly must know what each  composition is; for if he does not know what is the character and  meaning of the piece, and what it represents, he will never discern  whether the intention is true or false.


Cle. Certainly not.


Ath. And will he who does not know what is true be able to distinguish  what is good and bad? My statement is not very clear; but perhaps you  will understand me better if I put the matter in another way.


Cle. How?


Ath. There are ten thousand likenesses of objects of sight?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And can he who does not know what the exact object is which is  imitated, ever know whether the resemblance is truthfully executed? I  mean, for example, whether a statue has the proportions of a body, and  the true situation of the parts; what those proportions are, and how the  parts fit into one another in due order; also their colours and  conformations, or whether this is all confused in the execution: do you  think that any one can know about this, who does not know what the  animal is which has been imitated?


Cle. Impossible.


Ath. But even if we know that the thing pictured or sculptured is a man,  who has received at the hand of the artist all his proper parts and  colours and shapes, must we not also know whether the work is beautiful  or in any respect deficient in beauty?


Cle. If this were not required, Stranger, we should all of us be judges  of beauty.


Ath. Very true; and may we not say that in everything imitated, whether  in drawing, music, or any other art, he who is to be a competent judge  must possess three things; — he must know, in the first place, of what  the imitation is; secondly, he must know that it is true; and thirdly,  that it has been well executed in words and melodies and rhythms?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then let us not faint in discussing the peculiar difficulty of  music.


Music is more celebrated than any other kind of imitation, and therefore  requires the greatest care of them all. For if a man makes a mistake  here, he may do himself the greatest injury by welcoming evil  dispositions, and the mistake may be very difficult to discern, because  the poets are artists very inferior in character to the Muses  themselves, who would never fall into the monstrous error of assigning  to the words of men the gestures and songs of women; nor after combining  the melodies with the gestures of freemen would they add on the rhythms  of slaves and men of the baser sort; nor, beginning with the rhythms and  gestures of freemen, would they assign to them a melody or words which  are of an opposite character; nor would they mix up the voices and  sounds of animals and of men and instruments, and every other sort of  noise, as if they were all one. But human poets are fond of introducing  this sort of inconsistent mixture, and so make themselves ridiculous in  the eyes of those who, as Orpheus says, “are ripe for true pleasure.”  The experienced see all this confusion, and yet the poets go on and make  still further havoc by separating the rhythm and the figure of the dance  from the melody, setting bare words to metre, and also separating the  melody and the rhythm from the words, using the lyre or the flute alone.  For when there are no words, it is very difficult to recognize the  meaning of the harmony and rhythm, or to see that any worthy object is  imitated by them.


And we must acknowledge that all this sort of thing, which aims only at  swiftness and smoothness and a brutish noise, and uses the flute and the  lyre not as the mere accompaniments of the dance and song, is  exceedingly coarse and tasteless. The use of either instrument, when  unaccompanied, leads to every sort of irregularity and trickery. This is  all rational enough. But we are considering not how our choristers, who  are from thirty to fifty years of age, and may be over fifty, are not to  use the Muses, but how they are to use them. And the considerations  which we have urged seem to show in what way these fifty year-old  choristers who are to sing, may be expected to be better trained. For  they need to have a quick perception and knowledge of harmonies and  rhythms; otherwise, how can they ever know whether a melody would be  rightly sung to the Dorian mode, or to the rhythm which the poet has  assigned to it?


Cle. Clearly they cannot.


Ath. The many are ridiculous in imagining that they know what is in  proper harmony and rhythm, and what is not, when they can only be made  to sing and step in rhythm by force; it never occurs to them that they  are ignorant of what they are doing. Now every melody is right when it  has suitable harmony and rhythm, and wrong when unsuitable.


Cle. That is most certain.


Ath. But can a man who does not know a thing, as we were saying, know  that the thing is right?


Cle. Impossible.


Ath. Then now, as would appear, we are making the discovery that our  newly-appointed choristers, whom we hereby invite and, although they are  their own masters, compel to sing, must be educated to such an extent as  to be able to follow the steps of the rhythm and the notes of the song,  that they may know the harmonies and rhythms, and be able to select what  are suitable for men of their age and character to sing; and may sing  them, and have innocent pleasure from their own performance, and also  lead younger men to welcome with dutiful delight good dispositions.  Having such training, they will attain a more accurate knowledge than  falls to the lot of the common people, or even of the poets themselves.  For the poet need not know the third point, viz., whether the imitation  is good or not, though he can hardly help knowing the laws of melody and  rhythm. But the aged chorus must know all the three, that they may  choose the best, and that which is nearest to the best; for otherwise  they will never be able to charm the souls of young men in the way of  virtue. And now the original design of the argument which was intended  to bring eloquent aid to the Chorus of Dionysus, has been accomplished  to the best of our ability, and let us see whether we were right: I  should imagine that a drinking assembly is likely to become more and  more tumultuous as the drinking goes on: this, as we were saying at  first, will certainly be the case.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Every man has a more than natural elevation; his heart is glad  within him, and he will say anything and will be restrained by nobody at  such a time; he fancies that he is able to rule over himself and all  mankind.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. Were we not saying that on such occasions the souls of the drinkers  become like iron heated in the fire, and grow softer and younger, and  are easily moulded by him who knows how to educate and fashion them,  just as when they were young, and that this fashioner of them is the  same who prescribed for them in the days of their youth, viz., the good  legislator; and that he ought to enact laws of the banquet, which, when  a man is confident, bold, and impudent, and unwilling to wait his turn  and have his share of silence and speech, and drinking and music, will  change his character into the opposite — such laws as will infuse into  him a just and noble fear, which will take up arms at the approach of  insolence, being that divine fear which we have called reverence and  shame?


Cle. True.


Ath. And the guardians of these laws and fellow-workers with them are  the calm and sober generals of the drinkers; and without their help  there is greater difficulty in fighting against drink than in fighting  against enemies when the commander of an army is not himself calm; and  he who is unwilling to obey them and the commanders of Dionysiac feasts  who are more than sixty years of age, shall suffer a disgrace as great  as he who disobeys military leaders, or even greater.


Cle. Right.


Ath. If, then, drinking and amusement were regulated in this way, would  not the companions of our revels be improved? they would part better  friends than they were, and not, as now enemies. Their whole intercourse  would be regulated by law and observant of it, and the sober would be  the leaders of the drunken.


Cle. I think so too, if drinking were regulated as you propose.


Ath. Let us not then simply censure the gift of Dionysus as bad and  unfit to be received into the State. For wine has many excellences, and  one pre-eminent one, about which there is a difficulty in speaking to  the many, from a fear of their misconceiving and misunderstanding what  is said.


Cle. To what do you refer?


Ath. There is a tradition or story, which has somehow crept about the  world, that Dionysus was robbed of his wits by his stepmother Here, and  that out of revenge he inspires Bacchic furies and dancing madnesses in  others; for which reason he gave men wine. Such traditions concerning  the Gods I leave to those who think that they may be safely uttered; I  only know that no animal at birth is mature or perfect in intelligence;  and in the intermediate period, in which he has not yet acquired his own  proper sense, he rages and roars without rhyme or reason; and when he  has once got on his legs he jumps about without rhyme or reason; and  this, as you will remember, has been already said by us to be the origin  of music and gymnastic.


Cle. To be sure, I remember.


Ath. And did we not say that the sense of harmony and rhythm sprang from  this beginning among men, and that Apollo and the Muses and Dionysus  were the Gods whom we had to thank for them?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. The other story implied that wine was given man out of revenge, and  in order to make him mad; but our present doctrine, on the contrary, is,  that wine was given him as a balm, and in order to implant modesty in  the soul, and health and strength in the body.


Cle. That, Stranger, is precisely what was said.


Ath. Then half the subject may now be considered to have been discussed;  shall we proceed to the consideration of the other half?


Cle. What is the other half, and how do you divide the subject?


Ath. The whole choral art is also in our view the whole of education;  and of this art, rhythms and harmonies form the part which has to do  with the voice.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. The movement of the body has rhythm in common with the movement of  the voice, but gesture is peculiar to it, whereas song is simply the  movement of the voice.


Cle. Most true.


Ath. And the sound of the voice which reaches and educates the soul, we  have ventured to term music.


Cle. We were right.


Ath. And the movement of the body, when regarded as an amusement, we  termed dancing; but when extended and pursued with a view to the  excellence of the body, this scientific training may be called  gymnastic.


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. Music, which was one half of the choral art, may be said to have  been completely discussed. Shall we proceed to the other half or not?  What would you like?


Cle. My good friend, when you are talking with a Cretan and  Lacedaemonian, and we have discussed music and not gymnastic, what  answer are either of us likely to make to such an enquiry?


Ath. An answer is contained in your question; and I understand and  accept what you say not only as an answer, but also as a command to  proceed with gymnastic.


Cle. You quite understand me; do as you say.


Ath. I will; and there will not be any difficulty in speaking  intelligibly to you about a subject with which both of you are far more  familiar than with music.


Cle. There will not.


Ath. Is not the origin of gymnastics, too, to be sought in the tendency  to rapid motion which exists in all animals; man, as we were saying,  having attained the sense of rhythm, created and invented dancing; and  melody arousing and awakening rhythm, both united formed the choral art?


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And one part of this subject has been already discussed by us, and  there still remains another to be discussed?


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. I have first a final word to add to my discourse about drink, if  you will allow me to do so.


Cle. What more have you to say?


Ath. I should say that if a city seriously means to adopt the practice  of drinking under due regulation and with a view to the enforcement of  temperance, and in like manner, and on the same principle, will allow of  other pleasures, designing to gain the victory over them in this way all  of them may be used. But if the State makes drinking an amusement only,  and whoever likes may drink whenever he likes, and with whom he likes,  and add to this any other indulgences, I shall never agree or allow that  this city or this man should practise drinking. I would go further than  the Cretans and Lacedaemonians, and am disposed rather to the law of the  Carthaginians, that no one while he is on a campaign should be allowed  to taste wine at all, but that he should drink water during all that  time, and that in the city no slave, male or female, should ever drink  wine; and that no magistrates should drink during their year of office,  nor should pilots of vessels or judges while on duty taste wine at all,  nor any one who is going to hold a consultation about any matter of  importance; nor in the daytime at all, unless in consequence of exercise  or as medicine; nor again at night, when any one, either man or woman,  is minded to get children. There are numberless other cases also in  which those who have good sense and good laws ought not to drink wine,  so that if what I say is true, no city will need many vineyards. Their  husbandry and their way of life in general will follow an appointed  order, and their cultivation of the vine will be the most limited and  the least common of their employments. And this, Stranger, shall be the  crown of my discourse about wine, if you agree.


Cle. Excellent: we agree.





Athenian Stranger. Enough of this. And what, then, is to be regarded as  the origin of government? Will not a man be able to judge of it best  from a point of view in which he may behold the progress of states and  their transitions to good or evil?


Cleinias. What do you mean?


Ath. I mean that he might watch them from the point of view of time, and  observe the changes which take place in them during infinite ages.


Cle. How so?


Ath. Why, do you think that you can reckon the time which has elapsed  since cities first existed and men were citizens of them?


Cle. Hardly.


Ath. But are sure that it must be vast and incalculable?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And have not thousands and thousands of cities come into being  during this period and as many perished? And has not each of them had  every form of government many times over, now growing larger, now  smaller, and again improving or declining?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. Let us endeavour to ascertain the cause of these changes; for that  will probably explain the first origin and development of forms of  government.


Cle. Very good. You shall endeavour to impart your thoughts to us, and  we will make an effort to understand you.


Ath. Do you believe that there is any truth in ancient traditions?


Cle. What traditions?


Ath. The traditions about the many destructions of mankind which have  been occasioned by deluges and pestilences, and in many other ways, and  of the survival of a remnant?


Cle. Every one is disposed to believe them.


Ath. Let us consider one of them, that which was caused by the famous  deluge.


Cle. What are we to observe about it?


Ath. I mean to say that those who then escaped would only be hill  shepherds — small sparks of the human race preserved on the tops of  mountains.


Cle. Clearly.


Ath. Such survivors would necessarily be unacquainted with the arts and  the various devices which are suggested to the dwellers in cities by  interest or ambition, and with all the wrongs which they contrive  against one another.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Let us suppose, then, that the cities in the plain and on the  seacoast were utterly destroyed at that time.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Would not all implements have then perished and every other  excellent invention of political or any other sort of wisdom have  utterly disappeared?


Cle. Why, yes, my friend; and if things had always continued as they are  at present ordered, how could any discovery have ever been made even in  the least particular? For it is evident that the arts were unknown  during ten thousand times ten thousand years. And no more than a  thousand or two thousand years have elapsed since the discoveries of  Daedalus, Orpheus and Palamedes — since Marsyas and Olympus invented  music, and Amphion the lyre — not to speak of numberless other  inventions which are but of yesterday.


Ath. Have you forgotten, Cleinias, the name of a friend who is really of  yesterday?


Cle. I suppose that you mean Epimenides.


Ath. The same, my friend; he does indeed far overleap the heads of all  mankind by his invention; for he carried out in practice, as you  declare, what of old Hesiod only preached.


Cle. Yes, according to our tradition.


Ath. After the great destruction, may we not suppose that the state of  man was something of this sort: In the beginning of things there was a  fearful illimitable desert and a vast expanse of land; a herd or two of  oxen would be the only survivors of the animal world; and there might be  a few goats, these too hardly enough to maintain the shepherds who  tended them?


Cle. True.


Ath. And of cities or governments or legislation, about which we are now  talking, do you suppose that they could have any recollection at all?


Cle. None whatever.


Ath. And out of this state of things has there not sprung all that we  now are and have: cities and governments, and arts and laws, and a great  deal of vice and a great deal of virtue?


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. Why, my good friend, how can we possibly suppose that those who  knew nothing of all the good and evil of cities could have attained  their full development, whether of virtue or of vice?


Cle. I understand your meaning, and you are quite right.


Ath. But, as time advanced and the race multiplied, the world came to be  what the world is.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Doubtless the change was not made all in a moment, but little by  little, during a very long period of time.


Cle. A highly probable supposition.


Ath. At first, they would have a natural fear ringing in their ears  which would prevent their descending from the heights into the plain.


Cle. Of course.


Ath. The fewness of the survivors at that time would have made them all  the more desirous of seeing one another; but then the means of  travelling either by land or sea had been almost entirely lost, as I may  say, with the loss of the arts, and there was great difficulty in  getting at one another; for iron and brass and all metals were jumbled  together and had disappeared in the chaos; nor was there any possibility  of extracting ore from them; and they had scarcely any means of felling  timber. Even if you suppose that some implements might have been  preserved in the mountains, they must quickly have worn out and  vanished, and there would be no more of them until the art of metallurgy  had again revived.


Cle. There could not have been.


Ath. In how many generations would this be attained?


Cle. Clearly, not for many generations.


Ath. During this period, and for some time afterwards, all the arts  which require iron and brass and the like would disappear.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Faction and war would also have died out in those days, and for  many reasons.


Cle. How would that be?


Ath. In the first place, the desolation of these primitive men would  create in them a feeling of affection and good-will towards one another;  and, secondly, they would have no occasion to quarrel about their  subsistence, for they would have pasture in abundance, except just at  first, and in some particular cases; and from their pasture-land they  would obtain the greater part of their food in a primitive age, having  plenty of milk and flesh; moreover they would procure other food by the  chase, not to be despised either in quantity or quality. They would also  have abundance of clothing, and bedding, and dwellings, and utensils  either capable of standing on the fire or not; for the plastic and  weaving arts do not require any use of iron: and God has given these two  arts to man in order to provide him with all such things, that, when  reduced to the last extremity, the human race may still grow and  increase. Hence in those days mankind were not very poor; nor was  poverty a cause of difference among them; and rich they could not have  been, having neither gold nor silver: such at that time was their  condition. And the community which has neither poverty nor riches will  always have the noblest principles; in it there is no insolence or  injustice, nor, again, are there any contentions or envyings. And  therefore they were good, and also because they were what is called  simple-minded; and when they were told about good and evil, they in  their simplicity believed what they heard to be very truth and practised  it. No one had the wit to suspect another of a falsehood, as men do now;  but what they heard about Gods and men they believed to be true, and  lived accordingly; and therefore they were in all respects such as we  have described them.


Cle. That quite accords with my views, and with those of my friend here.


Ath. Would not many generations living on in a simple manner, although  ruder, perhaps, and more ignorant of the arts generally, and in  particular of those of land or naval warfare, and likewise of other  arts, termed in cities legal practices and party conflicts, and  including all conceivable ways of hurting one another in word and deed;  — although inferior to those who lived before the deluge, or to the men  of our day in these respects, would they not, I say, be simpler and more  manly, and also more temperate and altogether more just? The reason has  been already explained.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. I should wish you to understand that what has preceded and what is  about to follow, has been, and will be said, with the intention of  explaining what need the men of that time had of laws, and who was their  lawgiver.


Cle. And thus far what you have said has been very well said.


Ath. They could hardly have wanted lawgivers as yet; nothing of that  sort was likely to have existed in their days, for they had no letters  at this early period; they lived by habit and the customs of their  ancestors, as they are called.


Cle. Probably.


Ath. But there was already existing a form of government which, if I am  not mistaken, is generally termed a lordship, and this still remains in  many places, both among Hellenes and barbarians, and is the government  which is declared by Homer to have prevailed among the Cyclopes: They  have neither councils nor judgments, but they dwell in hollow caves on  the tops of high mountains, and every one gives law to his wife and  children, and they do not busy themselves about one another.


Cle. That seems to be a charming poet of yours; I have read some other  verses of his, which are very clever; but I do not know much of him, for  foreign poets are very little read among the Cretans.


Megillus. But they are in Lacedaemon, and he appears to be the prince of  them all; the manner of life, however, which he describes is not  Spartan, but rather Ionian, and he seems quite to confirm what you are  saying, when he traces up the ancient state of mankind by the help of  tradition to barbarism.


Ath. Yes, he does confirm it; and we may accept his witness to the fact  that such forms of government sometimes arise.


Cle. We may.


Ath. And were not such states composed of men who had been dispersed in  single habitations and families by the poverty which attended the  devastations; and did not the eldest then rule among them, because with  them government originated in the authority of a father and a mother,  whom, like a flock of birds, they followed, forming one troop under the  patriarchal rule and sovereignty of their parents, which of all  sovereignties is the most just?


Cle. Very true.


Ath. After this they came together in greater numbers, and increased the  size of their cities, and betook themselves to husbandry, first of all  at the foot of the mountains, and made enclosures of loose walls and  works of defence, in order to keep off wild beasts; thus creating a  single large and common habitation.


Cle. Yes; at least we may suppose so.


Ath. There is another thing which would probably happen.


Cle. What?


Ath. When these larger habitations grew up out of the lesser original  ones, each of the lesser ones would survive in the larger; every family  would be under the rule of the eldest, and, owing to their separation  from one another, would have peculiar customs in things divine and  human, which they would have received from their several parents who had  educated them; and these customs would incline them to order, when the  parents had the element of order in their nature, and to courage, when  they had the element of courage. And they would naturally stamp upon  their children, and upon their children’s children, their own likings;  and, as we are saying, they would find their way into the larger  society, having already their own peculiar laws.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And every man surely likes his own laws best, and the laws of  others not so well.


Cle. True.


Ath. Then now we seem to have stumbled upon the beginnings of  legislation.


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. The next step will be that these persons who have met together,  will select some arbiters, who will review the laws of all of them, and  will publicly present such as they approve to the chiefs who lead the  tribes, and who are in a manner their kings, allowing them to choose  those which they think best. These persons will themselves be called  legislators, and will appoint the magistrates, framing some sort of  aristocracy, or perhaps monarchy, out of the dynasties or lordships, and  in this altered state of the government they will live.


Cle. Yes, that would be the natural order of things.


Ath. Then, now let us speak of a third form of government, in which all  other forms and conditions of polities and cities concur.


Cle. What is that?


Ath. The form which in fact Homer indicates as following the second.


This third form arose when, as he says, Dardanus founded Dardania: For  not as yet had the holy Ilium been built on the plain to be a city of  speaking men; but they were still dwelling at the foot of  many-fountained Ida. — For indeed, in these verses, and in what he said  of the Cyclopes, he speaks the words of God and nature; for poets are a  divine race and often in their strains, by the aid of the Muses and the  Graces, they attain truth.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Then now let us proceed with the rest of our tale, which will  probably be found to illustrate in some degree our proposed design:  Shall we do so?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Ilium was built, when they descended from the mountain, in a large  and fair plain, on a sort of low hill, watered by many rivers descending  from Ida.


Cle. Such is the tradition.


Ath. And we must suppose this event to have taken place many ages after  the deluge?


Ath. A marvellous forgetfulness of the former destruction would appear  to have come over them, when they placed their town right under numerous  streams flowing from the heights, trusting for their security to not  very high hills, either.


Cle. There must have been a long interval, clearly.


Ath. And, as population increased, many other cities would begin to be  inhabited.


Cle. Doubtless.


Ath. Those cities made war against Troy — by sea as well as land — for  at that time men were ceasing to be afraid of the sea.


Cle. Clearly.


Ath. The Achaeans remained ten years, and overthrew Troy.


Cle. True.


Ath. And during the ten years in which the Achaeans were besieging  Ilium, the homes of the besiegers were falling into an evil plight.


Their youth revolted; and when the soldiers returned to their own cities  and families, they did not receive them properly, and as they ought to  have done, and numerous deaths, murders, exiles, were the consequence.  The exiles came again, under a new name, no longer Achaeans, but Dorians  — a name which they derived from Dorieus; for it was he who gathered  them together. The rest of the story is told by you Lacedaemonians as  part of the history of Sparta.


Meg. To be sure.


Ath. Thus, after digressing from the original subject of laws into music  and drinking-bouts, the argument has, providentially, come back to the  same point, and presents to us another handle. For we have reached the  settlement of Lacedaemon; which, as you truly say, is in laws and in  institutions the sister of Crete. And we are all the better for the  digression, because we have gone through various governments and  settlements, and have been present at the foundation of a first, second,  and third state, succeeding one another in infinite time. And now there  appears on the horizon a fourth state or nation which was once in  process of settlement and has continued settled to this day. If, out of  all this, we are able to discern what is well or ill settled, and what  laws are the salvation and what are the destruction of cities, and what  changes would make a state happy, O Megillus and Cleinias, we may now  begin again, unless we have some fault to find with the previous  discussion.


Meg. If some God, Stranger, would promise us that our new enquiry about  legislation would be as good and full as the present, I would go a great  way to hear such another, and would think that a day as long as this —  and we are now approaching the longest day of the year — was too short  for the discussion.


Ath. Then I suppose that we must consider this subject?


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. Let us place ourselves in thought at the moment when Lacedaemon and  Argos and Messene and the rest of the Peloponnesus were all in complete  subjection, Megillus, to your ancestors; for afterwards, as the legend  informs us, they divided their army into three portions, and settled  three cities, Argos, Messene, Lacedaemon.


Meg. True.


Ath. Temenus was the king of Argos, Cresphontes of Messene, Procles and  Eurysthenes of Lacedaemon.


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. To these kings all the men of that day made oath that they would  assist them, if any one subverted their kingdom.


Meg. True.


Ath. But can a kingship be destroyed, or was any other form of  government ever destroyed, by any but the rulers themselves? No indeed,  by Zeus. Have we already forgotten what was said a little while ago?


Meg. No.


Ath. And may we not now further confirm what was then mentioned? For we  have come upon facts which have brought us back again to the same  principle; so that, in resuming the discussion, we shall not be  enquiring about an empty theory, but about events which actually  happened. The case was as follows: Three royal heroes made oath to three  cities which were under a kingly government, and the cities to the  kings, that both rulers and subjects should govern and be governed  according to the laws which were common to all of them: the rulers  promised that as time and the race went forward they would not make  their rule more arbitrary; and the subjects said that, if the rulers  observed these conditions, they would never subvert or permit others to  subvert those kingdoms; the kings were to assist kings and peoples when  injured, and the peoples were to assist peoples and kings in like  manner. Is not this the fact?


Meg. Yes.


Ath. And the three states to whom these laws were given, whether their  kings or any others were the authors of them, had therefore the greatest  security for the maintenance of their constitutions?


Meg. What security?


Ath. That the other two states were always to come to the rescue against  a rebellious third.


Meg. True.


Ath. Many persons say that legislators ought to impose such laws as the  mass of the people will be ready to receive; but this is just as if one  were to command gymnastic masters or physicians to treat or cure their  pupils or patients in an agreeable manner.


Meg. Exactly.


Ath. Whereas the physician may often be too happy if he can restore  health, and make the body whole, without any very great infliction of  pain.


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. There was also another advantage possessed by the men of that day,  which greatly lightened the task of passing laws.


Meg. What advantage?


Ath. The legislators of that day, when they equalized property, escaped  the great accusation which generally arises in legislation, if a person  attempts to disturb the possession of land, or to abolish debts, because  he sees that without this reform there can never be any real equality.  Now, in general, when the legislator attempts to make a new settlement  of such matters, every one meets him with the cry, that “he is not to  disturb vested interests” — declaring with imprecations that he is  introducing agrarian laws and cancelling of debts, until a man is at his  wits end; whereas no one could quarrel with the Dorians for distributing  the land — there was nothing to hinder them; and as for debts, they had  none which were considerable or of old standing.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. But then, my good friends, why did the settlement and legislation  of their country turn out so badly?


Meg. How do you mean; and why do you blame them?


Ath. There were three kingdoms, and of these, two quickly corrupted  their original constitution and laws, and the only one which remained  was the Spartan.


Meg. The question which you ask is not easily answered.


Ath. And yet must be answered when we are enquiring about laws, this  being our old man’s sober game of play, whereby we beguile the way, as I  was saying when we first set out on our journey.


Meg. Certainly; and we must find out why this was.


Ath. What laws are more worthy of our attention than those which have  regulated such cities? or what settlements of states are greater or more  famous?


Meg. I know of none.


Ath. Can we doubt that your ancestors intended these institutions not  only for the protection of Peloponnesus, but of all the Hellenes. in  case they were attacked by the barbarian? For the inhabitants of the  region about Ilium, when they provoked by their insolence the Trojan  war, relied upon the power of the Assyrians and the Empire of Ninus,  which still existed and had a great prestige; the people of those days  fearing the united Assyrian Empire just as we now fear the Great King.  And the second capture of Troy was a serious offence against them,  because Troy was a portion of the Assyrian Empire. To meet the danger  the single army was distributed between three cities by the royal  brothers, sons of Heracles — a fair device, as it seemed, and a far  better arrangement than the expedition against Troy. For, firstly, the  people of that day had, as they thought, in the Heraclidae better  leaders than the Pelopidae; in the next place, they considered that  their army was superior in valour to that which went against Troy; for,  although the latter conquered the Trojans, they were themselves  conquered by the HeraclidaeAchaeans by Dorians. May we not suppose that  this was the intention with which the men of those days framed the  constitutions of their states?


Meg. Quite true.


Ath. And would not men who had shared with one another many dangers, and  were governed by a single race of royal brothers, and had taken the  advice of oracles, and in particular of the Delphian Apollo, be likely  to think that such states would be firmly and lastingly established?


Meg. Of course they would.


Ath. Yet these institutions, of which such great expectations were  entertained, seem to have all rapidly vanished away; with the exception,  as I was saying, of that small part of them which existed in  yourland.And this third part has never to this day ceased warring  against the two others; whereas, if the original idea had been carried  out, and they had agreed to be one, their power would have been  invincible in war.


Meg. No doubt.


Ath. But what was the ruin of this glorious confederacy? Here is a  subject well worthy of consideration.


Meg. Certainly, no one will ever find more striking instances of laws or  governments being the salvation or destruction of great and noble  interests, than are here presented to his view.


Ath. Then now we seem to have happily arrived at a real and important  question.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. Did you never remark, sage friend, that all men, and we ourselves  at this moment, often fancy that they see some beautiful thing which  might have effected wonders if any one had only known how to make a  right use of it in some way; and yet this mode of looking at things may  turn out after all to be a mistake, and not according to nature, either  in our own case or in any other?


Meg. To what are you referring, and what do you mean?


Ath. I was thinking of my own admiration of the aforesaid Heracleid  expedition, which was so noble, and might have had such wonderful  results for the Hellenes, if only rightly used; and I was just laughing  at myself.


Meg. But were you not right and wise in speaking as you did, and we in  assenting to you?


Ath. Perhaps; and yet I cannot help observing that any one who sees  anything great or powerful, immediately has the feeling that — “If the  owner only knew how to use his great and noble possession, how happy  would he be, and what great results would he achieve!”


Meg. And would he not be justified?


Ath. Reflect; in what point of view does this sort of praise appear  just: First, in reference to the question in hand: If the then  commanders had known how to arrange their army properly, how would they  have attained success? Would not this have been the way? They would have  bound them all firmly together and preserved them for ever, giving them  freedom and dominion at pleasure, combined with the power of doing in  the whole world,


Hellenic and barbarian, whatever they and their descendants desired.  What other aim would they have had?


Meg. Very good.


Ath. Suppose any one were in the same way to express his admiration at  the sight of great wealth or family honour, or the like, he would praise  them under the idea that through them he would attain either all or the  greater and chief part of what he desires.


Meg. He would.


Ath. Well, now, and does not the argument show that there is one common  desire of all mankind?


Meg. What is it?


Ath. The desire which a man has, that all things, if possible — at any  rate, things human — may come to pass in accordance with his soul’s  desire.


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. And having this desire always, and at every time of life, in youth,  in manhood, in age, he cannot help always praying for the fulfilment of  it.


Meg. No doubt.


Ath. And we join in the prayers of our friends, and ask for them what  they ask for themselves.


Meg. We do.


Ath. Dear is the son to the father — the younger to the elder.


Meg. Of course.


Ath. And yet the son often prays to obtain things which the father prays  that he may not obtain.


Meg. When the son is young and foolish, you mean?


Ath. Yes; or when the father, in the dotage of age or the heat of youth,  having no sense of right and justice, prays with fervour, under the  influence of feelings akin to those of Theseus when he cursed the  unfortunate Hippolytus, do you imagine that the son, having a sense of  right and justice, will join in his father’s prayers?


Meg. I understand you to mean that a man should not desire or be in a  hurry to have all things according to his wish, for his wish may be at  variance with his reason. But every state and every individual ought to  pray and strive for wisdom.


Ath. Yes; and I remember, and you will remember, what I said at first,  that a statesman and legislator ought to ordain laws with a view to  wisdom; while you were arguing that the good lawgiver ought to order all  with a view to war. And to this I replied that there were four virtues,  but that upon your view one of them only was the aim of legislation;  whereas you ought to regard all virtue, and especially that which comes  first, and is the leader of all the rest — I mean wisdom and mind and  opinion, having affection and desire in their train. And now the  argument returns to the same point, and I say once more, in jest if you  like, or in earnest if you like, that the prayer of a fool is full of  danger, being likely to end in the opposite of what he desires. And if  you would rather receive my words in earnest, I am willing that you  should; and you will find, I suspect, as I have said already, that not  cowardice was the cause of the ruin of the Dorian kings and of their  whole design, nor ignorance of military matters, either on the part of  the rulers or of their subjects; but their misfortunes were due to their  general degeneracy, and especially to their ignorance of the most  important human affairs. That was then, and is still, and always will be  the case, as I will endeavour, if you will allow me, to make out and  demonstrate as well as I am able to you who are my friends, in the  course of the argument.


Cle. Pray go on, Stranger; — compliments are troublesome, but we will  show, not in word but in deed, how greatly we prize your words, for we  will give them our best attention; and that is the way in which a  freeman best shows his approval or disapproval.


Meg. Excellent, Cleinias; let us do as you say.


Cle. By all means, if Heaven wills. Go on.


Ath. Well, then, proceeding in the same train of thought, I say that the  greatest ignorance was the ruin of the Dorian power, and that now, as  then, ignorance is ruin. And if this be true, the legislator must  endeavour to implant wisdom in states, and banish ignorance to the  utmost of his power.


Cle. That is evident.


Ath. Then now consider what is really the greatest ignorance. I should  like to know whether you and Megillus would agree with me in what I am  about to say; for my opinion is.


Cle. What?


Ath. That the greatest ignorance is when a man hates that which he  nevertheless thinks to be good and noble, and loves and embraces that  which he knows to be unrighteous and evil. This disagreement between the  sense of pleasure and the judgment of reason in the soul is, in my  opinion, the worst ignorance; and also the greatest, because affecting  the great mass of the human soul; for the principle which feels pleasure  and pain in the individual is like the mass or populace in a state. And  when the soul is opposed to knowledge, or opinion, or reason, which are  her natural lords, that I call folly, just as in the state, when the  multitude refuses to obey their rulers and the laws; or, again, in the  individual, when fair reasonings have their habitation in the soul and  yet do no good, but rather the reverse of good. All these cases I term  the worst ignorance, whether in individuals or in states. You will  understand, Stranger, that I am speaking of something which is very  different from the ignorance of handicraftsmen.


Cle. Yes, my friend, we understand and agree.


Ath. Let us, then, in the first place declare and affirm that the  citizen who does not know these things ought never to have any kind of  authority entrusted to him: he must be stigmatized as ignorant, even  though he be versed in calculation and skilled in all sorts of  accomplishments, and feats of mental dexterity; and the opposite are to  be called wise, even although, in the words of the proverb, they know  neither how to read nor how to swim; and to them, as to men of sense,  authority is to be committed. For, O my friends, how can there be the  least shadow of wisdom when there is no harmony? There is none; but the  noblest and greatest of harmonies may be truly said to be the greatest  wisdom; and of this he is a partaker who lives according to reason;  whereas he who is devoid of reason is the destroyer of his house and the  very opposite of a saviour of the state: he is utterly ignorant of  political wisdom. Let this, then, as I was saying, be laid down by us.


Cle. Let it be so laid down.


Ath. I suppose that there must be rulers and subjects in states?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And what are the principles on which men rule and obey in cities,  whether great or small; and similarly in families? What are they, and  how many in number? Is there not one claim of authority which is always  just — that of fathers and mothers and in general of progenitors to rule  over their offspring?


Cle. There is.


Ath. Next follows the principle that the noble should rule over the  ignoble; and, thirdly, that the elder should rule and the younger obey?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And, fourthly, that slaves should be ruled, and their masters rule?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. Fifthly, if I am not mistaken, comes the principle that the  stronger shall rule, and the weaker be ruled?


Cle. That is a rule not to be disobeyed.


Ath. Yes, and a rule which prevails very widely among all creatures, and  is according to nature, as the Theban poet Pindar once said; and the  sixth principle, and the greatest of all, is, that the wise should lead  and command, and the ignorant follow and obey; and yet, O thou most wise  Pindar, as I should reply him, this surely is not contrary to nature,  but according to nature, being the rule of law over willing subjects,  and not a rule of compulsion.


Cle. Most true.


Ath. There is a seventh kind of rule which is awarded by lot, and is  dear to the Gods and a token of good fortune: he on whom the lot falls  is a ruler, and he who fails in obtaining the lot goes away and is the  subject; and this we affirm to be quite just.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. “Then now,” as we say playfully to any of those who lightly  undertake the making of laws, “you see, legislator, the principles of  government, how many they are, and that they are naturally opposed to  each other. There we have discovered a fountain-head of seditions, to  which you must attend. And, first, we will ask you to consider with us,  how and in what respect the kings of Argos and Messene violated these  our maxims, and ruined themselves and the great and famous Hellenic  power of the olden time. Was it because they did not know how wisely  Hesiod spoke when he said that the half is often more than the whole?  His meaning was, that when to take the whole would be dangerous, and to  take the half would be the safe and moderate course, then the moderate  or better was more than the immoderate or worse.”


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And may we suppose this immoderate spirit to be more fatal when  found among kings than when among peoples?


Cle. The probability is that ignorance will be a disorder especially  prevalent among kings, because they lead a proud and luxurious life.


Ath. Is it not palpable that the chief aim of the kings of that time was  to get the better of the established laws, and that they were not in  harmony with the principles which they had agreed to observe by word and  oath? This want of harmony may have had the appearance of wisdom, but  was really, as we assert, the greatest ignorance, and utterly overthrew  the whole empire by dissonance and harsh discord.


Cle. Very likely.


Ath. Good; and what measures ought the legislator to have then taken in  order to avert this calamity? Truly there is no great wisdom in knowing,  and no great difficulty in telling, after the evil has happened; but to  have foreseen the remedy at the time would have taken a much wiser head  than ours.


Meg. What do you mean?


Ath. Any one who looks at what has occurred with you Lacedaemonians,  Megillus, may easily know and may easily say what ought to have been  done at that time.


Meg. Speak a little more clearly.


Ath. Nothing can be clearer than the observation which I am about to  make.


Meg. What is it?


Ath. That if any one gives too great a power to anything, too large a  sail to a vessel, too much food to the body, too much authority to the  mind, and does not observe the mean, everything is overthrown, and, in  the wantonness of excess runs in the one case to disorders, and in the  other to injustice, which is the child of excess. I mean to say, my dear  friends, that there is no soul of man, young and irresponsible, who will  be able to sustain the temptation of arbitrary power — no one who will  not, under such circumstances, become filled with folly, that worst of  diseases, and be hated by his nearest and dearest friends: when this  happens, his kingdom is undermined, and all his power vanishes from him.  And great legislators who know the mean should take heed of the danger.  As far as we can guess at this distance of time, what happened was as  follows:


Meg. What?


Ath. A God, who watched over Sparta, seeing into the future, gave you  two families of kings instead of one; and thus brought you more within  the limits of moderation. In the next place, some human wisdom mingled  with divine power, observing that the constitution of your government  was still feverish and excited, tempered your inborn strength and pride  of birth with the moderation which comes of age, making the power of  your twenty-eight elders equal with that of the kings in the most  important matters. But your third saviour, perceiving that your  government was still swelling and foaming, and desirous to impose a curb  upon it, instituted the Ephors, whose power he made to resemble that of  magistrates elected by lot; and by this arrangement the kingly office,  being compounded of the right elements and duly moderated, was  preserved, and was the means of preserving all the rest. Since, if there  had been only the original legislators, Temenus, Cresphontes, and their  contemporaries, as far as they were concerned not even the portion of  Aristodemus would have been preserved; for they had no proper experience  in legislation, or they would surely not have imagined that oaths would  moderate a youthful spirit invested with a power which might be  converted into a tyranny. Now that God has instructed us what sort of  government would have been or will be lasting, there is no wisdom, as I  have already said, in judging after the event; there is no difficulty in  learning from an example which has already occurred. But if any one  could have foreseen all this at the time, and had been able to moderate  the government of the three kingdoms and unite them into one, he might  have saved all the excellent institutions which were then conceived; and  no Persian or any other armament would have dared to attack us, or would  have regarded Hellas as a power to be despised.


Cle. True.


Ath. There was small credit to us, Cleinias, in defeating them; and the  discredit was, not that the conquerors did not win glorious victories  both by land and sea, but what, in my opinion, brought discredit was,  first of all, the circumstance that of the three cities one only fought  on behalf of Hellas, and the two others were so utterly good for nothing  that the one was waging a mighty war against Lacedaemon, and was thus  preventing her from rendering assistance, while the city of Argos, which  had the precedence at the time of the distribution, when asked to aid in  repelling the barbarian, would not answer to the call, or give aid. Many  things might be told about Hellas in connection with that war which are  far from honourable; nor, indeed, can we rightly say that Hellas  repelled the invader; for the truth is, that unless the Athenians and  Lacedaemonians, acting in concert, had warded off the impending yoke,  all the tribes of Hellas would have been fused in a chaos of Hellenes  mingling with one another, of barbarians mingling with Hellenes, and  Hellenes with barbarians; just as nations who are now subject to the  Persian power, owing to unnatural separations and combinations of them,  are dispersed and scattered, and live miserably. These, Cleinias and  Megillus, are the reproaches which we have to make against statesmen and  legislators, as they are called, past and present, if we would analyse  the causes of their failure, and find out what else might have been  done. We said, for instance, just now, that there ought to be no great  and unmixed powers; and this was under the idea that a state ought to be  free and wise and harmonious, and that a legislator ought to legislate  with a view to this end. Nor is there any reason to be surprised at our  continually proposing aims for the legislator which appear not to be  always the same; but we should consider when we say that temperance is  to be the aim, or wisdom is to be the aim, or friendship is to be the  aim, that all these aims are really the same; and if so, a variety in  the modes of expression ought not to disturb us.


Cle. Let us resume the argument in that spirit. And now, speaking of  friendship and wisdom and freedom, I wish that you would tell me at  what, in your opinion, the legislator should aim.


Ath. Hear me, then: there are two mother forms of states from which the  rest may be truly said to be derived; and one of them may be called  monarchy and the other democracy: the Persians have the highest form of  the one, and we of the other; almost all the rest, as I was saying, are  variations of these. Now, if you are to have liberty and the combination  of friendship with wisdom, you must have both these forms of government  in a measure; the argument emphatically declares that no city can be  well governed which is not made up of both.


Cle. Impossible.


Ath. Neither the one, if it be exclusively and excessively attached to  monarchy, nor the other, if it be similarly attached to freedom,  observes moderation; but your states, the Laconian and Cretan, have more  of it; and the same was the case with the Athenians and Persians of old  time, but now they have less. Shall I tell you why?


Cle. By all means, if it will tend to elucidate our subject.


Ath. Hear, then: There was a time when the Persians had more of the  state which is a mean between slavery and freedom. In the reign of Cyrus  they were freemen and also lords of many others: the rulers gave a share  of freedom to the subjects, and being treated as equals, the soldiers  were on better terms with their generals, and showed themselves more  ready in the hour of danger. And if there was any wise man among them,  who was able to give good counsel, he imparted his wisdom to the public;  for the king was not jealous, but allowed him full liberty of speech,  and gave honour to those who could advise him in any matter. And the  nation waxed in all respects, because there was freedom and friendship  and communion of mind among them.


Cle. That certainly appears to have been the case.


Ath. How, then, was this advantage lost under Cambyses, and again  recovered under Darius? Shall I try to divine?


Cle. The enquiry, no doubt, has a bearing upon our subject.


Ath. I imagine that Cyrus, though a great and patriotic general, had  never given his mind to education, and never attended to the order of  his household.


Cle. What makes you say so?


Ath. I think that from his youth upwards he was a soldier, and entrusted  the education of his children to the women; and they brought them up  from their childhood as the favourites of fortune, who were blessed  already, and needed no more blessings. They thought that they were happy  enough, and that no one should be allowed to oppose them in any way, and  they compelled every one to praise all that they said or did. This was  how they brought them up.


Cle. A splendid education truly!


Ath. Such an one as women were likely to give them, and especially  princesses who had recently grown rich, and in the absence of the men,  too, who were occupied in wars and dangers, and had no time to look  after them.


Cle. What would you expect?


Ath. Their father had possessions of cattle and sheep, and many herds of  men and other animals, but he did not consider that those to whom he was  about to make them over were not trained in his own calling, which was  Persian; for the Persians are shepherdssons of a rugged land, which is a  stern mother, and well fitted to produce sturdy race able to live in the  open air and go without sleep, and also to fight, if fighting is  required. He did not observe that his sons were trained differently;  through the so-called blessing of being royal they were educated in the  Median fashion by women and eunuchs, which led to their becoming such as  people do become when they are brought up unreproved. And so, after the  death of Cyrus, his sons, in the fulness of luxury and licence, took the  kingdom, and first one slew the other because he could not endure a  rival; and, afterwards, the slayer himself, mad with wine and brutality,  lost his kingdom through the Medes and the Eunuch, as they called him,  who despised the folly of Cambyses.


Cle. So runs the tale, and such probably were the facts.


Ath. Yes; and the tradition says, that the empire came back to the  Persians, through Darius and the seven chiefs.


Cle. True.


Ath. Let us note the rest of the story. Observe, that Darius was not the  son of a king, and had not received a luxurious education. When he came  to the throne, being one of the seven, he divided the country into seven  portions, and of this arrangement there are some shadowy traces still  remaining; he made laws upon the principle of introducing universal  equality in the order of the state, and he embodied in his laws the  settlement of the tribute which Cyrus promised — thus creating a feeling  of friendship and community among all the Persians, and attaching the  people to him with money and gifts. Hence his armies cheerfully acquired  for him countries as large as those which Cyrus had left behind him.  Darius was succeeded by his son Xerxes; and he again was brought up in  the royal and luxurious fashion. Might we not most justly say: “O  Darius, how came you to bring up Xerxes in the same way in which Cyrus  brought up Cambyses, and not to see his fatal mistake?” For Xerxes,  being the creation of the same education, met with much the same fortune  as Cambyses; and from that time until now there has never been a really  great king among the Persians, although they are all called Great. And  their degeneracy is not to be attributed to chance, as I maintain; the  reason is rather the evil life which is generally led by the sons of  very rich and royal persons; for never will boy or man, young or old,  excel in virtue, who has been thus educated. And this, I say, is what  the legislator has to consider, and what at the present moment has to be  considered by us. Justly may you, O Lacedaemonians, be praised, in that  you do not give special honour or a special education to wealth rather  than to poverty, or to a royal rather than to a private station, where  the divine and inspired lawgiver has not originally commanded them to be  given. For no man ought to have pre-eminent honour in a state because he  surpasses others in wealth, any more than because he is swift of foot or  fair or strong, unless he have some virtue in him; nor even if he have  virtue, unless he have this particular virtue of temperance.


Meg. What do you mean, Stranger?


Ath. I suppose that courage is a part of virtue?


Meg. To be sure.


Ath. Then, now hear and judge for yourself: Would you like to have for a  fellow-lodger or neighbour a very courageous man, who had no control  over himself?


Meg. Heaven forbid!


Ath. Or an artist, who was clever in his profession, but a rogue?


Meg. Certainly not.


Ath. And surely justice does not grow apart from temperance?


Meg. Impossible.


Ath. Any more than our pattern wise man, whom we exhibited as having his  pleasures and pains in accordance with and corresponding to true reason,  can be intemperate?


Meg. No.


Ath. There is a further consideration relating to the due and undue  award of honours in states.


Meg. What is it?


Ath. I should like to know whether temperance without the other virtues,  existing alone in the soul of man, is rightly to be praised or blamed?


Meg. I cannot tell.


Ath. And that is the best answer; for whichever alternative you had  chosen, I think that you would have gone wrong.


Meg. I am fortunate.


Ath. Very good; a quality, which is a mere appendage of things which can  be praised or blamed, does not deserve an expression of opinion, but is  best passed over in silence.


Meg. You are speaking of temperance?


Ath. Yes; but of the other virtues, that which having this appendage is  also most beneficial, will be most deserving of honour, and next that  which is beneficial in the next degree; and so each of them will be  rightly honoured according to a regular order.


Meg. True.


Ath. And ought not the legislator to determine these classes?


Meg. Certainly he should.


Ath. Suppose that we leave to him the arrangement of details. But the  general division of laws according to their importance into a first and  second and third class, we who are lovers of law may make ourselves.


Meg. Very; good.


Ath. We maintain, then, that a State which would be safe and happy, as  far as the nature of man allows, must and ought to distribute honour and  dishonour in the right way. And the right way is to place the goods of  the soul first and highest in the scale, always assuming temperance to  be the condition of them; and to assign the second place to the goods of  the body; and the third place to money and property. And it any  legislator or state departs from this rule by giving money the place of  honour, or in any way preferring that which is really last, may we not  say, that he or the state is doing an unholy and unpatriotic thing?


Meg. Yes; let that be plainly declared.


Ath. The consideration of the Persian governments led us thus far to  enlarge. We remarked that the Persians grew worse and worse. And we  affirm the reason of this to have been, that they too much diminished  the freedom of the people, and introduced too much of despotism, and so  destroyed friendship and community of feeling. And when there is an end  of these, no longer do the governors govern on behalf of their subjects  or of the people, but on behalf of themselves; and if they think that  they can gain ever so small an advantage for themselves, they devastate  cities, and send fire and desolation among friendly races. And as they  hate ruthlessly and horribly, so are they hated; and when they want the  people to fight for them, they find no community of feeling or  willingness to risk their lives on their behalf; their untold myriads  are useless to them on the field of battle, and they think that their  salvation depends on the employment of mercenaries and strangers whom  they hire, as if they were in want of more men. And they cannot help  being stupid, since they proclaim by actions that the ordinary  distinctions of right and wrong which are made in a state are a trifle,  when compared with gold and silver.


Meg. Quite true.


Ath. And now enough of the Persians, and their present maladministration  of their government, which is owing to the excess of slavery and  despotism among them.


Meg. Good.


Ath. Next, we must pass in review the government of Attica in like  manner, and from this show that entire freedom and the absence of all  superior authority is not by any means so good as government by others  when properly limited, which was our ancient Athenian constitution at  the time when the Persians made their attack on Hellas, or, speaking  more correctly, on the whole continent of Europe.


There were four classes, arranged according to a property census, and  reverence was our queen and mistress, and made us willing to live in  obedience to the laws which then prevailed. Also the vastness of the  Persian armament, both by sea and on land, caused a helpless terror,  which made us more and more the servants of our rulers and of the laws;  and for all these reasons an exceeding harmony prevailed among us. About  ten years before the naval engagement at Salamis, Datis came, leading a  Persian host by command of Darius, which was expressly directed against  the Athenians and Eretrians, having orders to carry them away captive;  and these orders he was to execute under pain of death. Now Datis and  his myriads soon became complete masters of Eretria, and he sent a  fearful report to Athens that no Eretrian had escaped him; for the  soldiers of Datis had joined hands and netted the whole of Eretria. And  this report, whether well or ill founded, was terrible to all the  Hellenes, and above all to the Athenians, and they dispatched embassies  in all directions, but no one was willing to come to their relief, with  the exception of the Lacedaemonians; and they, either because they were  detained by the Messenian war, which was then going on, or for some  other reason of which we are not told, came a day too late for the  battle of Marathon. After a while, the news arrived of mighty  preparations being made, and innumerable threats came from the king.  Then, as time went on, a rumour reached us that Darius had died, and  that his son, who was young and hot-headed, had come to the throne and  was persisting in his design. The Athenians were under the impression  that the whole expedition was directed against them, in consequence of  the battle of Marathon; and hearing of the bridge over the Hellespont,  and the canal of Athos, and the host of ships, considering that there  was no salvation for them either by land or by sea, for there was no one  to help them, and remembering that in the first expedition, when the  Persians destroyed Eretria, no one came to their help, or would risk the  danger of an alliance with them, they thought that this would happen  again, at least on land; nor, when they looked to the sea, could they  descry any hope of salvation; for they were attacked by a thousand  vessels and more. One chance of safety remained, slight indeed and  desperate, but their only one.


They saw that on the former occasion they had gained a seemingly  impossible victory, and borne up by this hope, they found that their  only refuge was in themselves and in the Gods. All these things created  in them the spirit of friendship; there was the fear of the moment, and  there was that higher fear, which they had acquired by obedience to  their ancient laws, and which I have several times in the preceding  discourse called reverence, of which the good man ought to be a willing  servant, and of which the coward is independent and fearless. If this  fear had not possessed them, they would never have met the enemy, or  defended their temples and sepulchres and their country, and everything  that was near and dear to them, as they did; but little by little they  would have been all scattered and dispersed.


Meg. Your words, Athenian, are quite true, and worthy of yourself and of  your country.


Ath. They are true, Megillus; and to you, who have inherited the virtues  of your ancestors, I may properly speak of the actions of that day.


And I would wish you and Cleinias to consider whether my words have not  also a bearing on legislation; for I am not discoursing only for the  pleasure of talking, but for the argument’s sake. Please to remark that  the experience both of ourselves and the Persians was, in a certain  sense, the same; for as they led their people into utter servitude, so  we too led ours into all freedom. And now, how shall we proceed? for I  would like you to observe that our previous arguments have good deal to  say for themselves.


Meg. True; but I wish that you would give us a fuller explanation.


Ath. I will. Under the ancient laws, my friends, the people was not as  now the master, but rather the willing servant of the laws.


Meg. What laws do you mean?


Ath. In the first place, let us speak of the laws about music — that is  to say, such music as then existed — in order that we may trace the  growth of the excess of freedom from the beginning. Now music was early  divided among us into certain kinds and manners. One sort consisted of  prayers to the Gods, which were called hymns; and there was another and  opposite sort called lamentations, and another termed paeans, and  another, celebrating the birth of Dionysus, called, I believe,  “dithyrambs.” And they used the actual word “laws,” or nomoi, for  another kind of song; and to this they added the term “citharoedic.” All  these and others were duly distinguished, nor were the performers  allowed to confuse one style of music with another. And the authority  which determined and gave judgment, and punished the disobedient, was  not expressed in a hiss, nor in the most unmusical shouts of the  multitude, as in our days, nor in applause and clapping of hands. But  the directors of public instruction insisted that the spectators should  listen in silence to the end; and boys and their tutors, and the  multitude in general, were kept quiet by a hint from a stick. Such was  the good order which the multitude were willing to observe; they would  never have dared to give judgment by noisy cries. And then, as time went  on, the poets themselves introduced the reign of vulgar and lawless  innovation. They were men of genius, but they had no perception of what  is just and lawful in music; raging like Bacchanals and possessed with  inordinate delights — mingling lamentations with hymns, and paeans with  dithyrambs; imitating the sounds of the flute on the lyre, and making  one general confusion; ignorantly affirming that music has no truth,  and, whether good or bad, can only be judged of rightly by the pleasure  of the hearer. And by composing such licentious works, and adding to  them words as licentious, they have inspired the multitude with  lawlessness and boldness, and made them fancy that they can judge for  themselves about melody and song. And in this way the theatres from  being mute have become vocal, as though they had understanding of good  and bad in music and poetry; and instead of an aristocracy, an evil sort  of theatrocracy has grown up. For if the democracy which judged had only  consisted of educated persons, no fatal harm would have been done; but  in music there first arose the universal conceit of omniscience and  general lawlessness; — freedom came following afterwards, and men,  fancying that they knew what they did not know, had no longer any fear,  and the absence of fear begets shamelessness. For what is this  shamelessness, which is so evil a thing, but the insolent refusal to  regard the opinion of the better by reason of an over-daring sort of  liberty?


Meg. Very true.


Ath. Consequent upon this freedom comes the other freedom, of  disobedience to rulers; and then the attempt to escape the control and  exhortation of father, mother, elders, and when near the end, the  control of the laws also; and at the very end there is the contempt of  oaths and pledges, and no regard at all for the Gods — herein they  exhibit and imitate the old so called Titanic nature, and come to the  same point as the Titans when they rebelled against God, leading a life  of endless evils. But why have I said all this? I ask, because the  argument ought to be pulled up from time to time, and not be allowed to  run away, but held with bit and bridle, and then we shall not, as the  proverb says, fall off our ass. Let us then once more ask the question,  To what end has all this been said?


Meg. Very good.


Ath. This, then, has been said for the sake


Meg. Of what?


Ath. We were maintaining that the lawgiver ought to have three things in  view: first, that the city for which he legislates should be free; and  secondly, be at unity with herself; and thirdly, should have  understanding; — these were our principles, were they not?


Meg. Certainly.


Ath. With a view to this we selected two kinds of government, the  despotic, and the other the most free; and now we are considering which  of them is the right form: we took a mean in both cases, of despotism in  the one, and of liberty in the other, and we saw that in a mean they  attained their perfection; but that when they were carried to the  extreme of either, slavery or licence, neither party were the gainers.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. And that was our reason for considering the settlement of the  Dorian army, and of the city built by Dardanus at the foot of the  mountains, and the removal of cities to the seashore, and of our mention  of the first men, who were the survivors of the deluge. And all that was  previously said about music and drinking, and what preceded, was said  with the view of seeing how a state might be best administered, and how  an individual might best order his own life. And now, Megillus and  Cleinias, how can we put to the proof the value of our words?


Cle. Stranger, I think that I see how a proof of their value may be  obtained. This discussion of ours appears to me to have been singularly  fortunate, and just what I at this moment want; most auspiciously have  you and my friend Megillus come in my way.


For I will tell you what has happened to me; and I regard the  coincidence as a sort of omen. The greater part of Crete is going to  send out a colony, and they have entrusted the management of the affair  to the Cnosians; and the Cnosian government to me and nine others. And  they desire us to give them any laws which we please, whether taken from  the Cretan model or from any other; and they do not mind about their  being foreign if they are better. Grant me then this favour, which will  also be a gain to yourselves: Let us make a selection from what has been  said, and then let us imagine a State of which we will suppose ourselves  to be the original founders. Thus we shall proceed with our enquiry,  and, at the same time, I may have the use of the framework which you are  constructing, for the city which is in contemplation.


Ath. Good news, Cleinias; if Megillus has no objection, you may be sure  that I will do all in my power to please you.


Cle. Thank you.


Meg. And so will I.


Cle. Excellent; and now let us begin to frame the State.





Athenian Stranger. And now, what will this city be? I do not mean to ask  what is or will hereafter be the name of the place; that may be  determined by the accident of locality or of the original settlement — a  river or fountain, or some local deity may give the sanction of a name  to the newly-founded city; but I do want to know what the situation is,  whether maritime or inland.


Cleinias. I should imagine, Stranger, that the city of which we are  speaking is about eighty stadia distant from the sea.


Ath. And are there harbours on the seaboard?


Cle. Excellent harbours, Stranger; there could not be better.


Ath. Alas! what a prospect! And is the surrounding country productive,  or in need of importations?


Cle. Hardly in need of anything.


Ath. And is there any neighbouring State?


Cle. None whatever, and that is the reason for selecting the place; in  days of old, there was a migration of the inhabitants, and the region  has been deserted from time immemorial.


Ath. And has the place a fair proportion of hill, and plain, and wood?


Cle. Like the rest of Crete in that.


Ath. You mean to say that there is more rock than plain?


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. Then there is some hope that your citizens may be virtuous: had you  been on the sea, and well provided with harbours, and an importing  rather than a producing country, some mighty saviour would have been  needed, and lawgivers more than mortal, if you were ever to have a  chance of preserving your state from degeneracy and discordance of  manners. But there is comfort in the eighty stadia; although the sea is  too near, especially if, as you say, the harbours are so good. Still we  may be content. The sea is pleasant enough as a daily companion, but has  indeed also a bitter and brackish quality; filling the streets with  merchants and shopkeepers, and begetting in the souls of men uncertain  and unfaithful ways — making the state unfriendly and unfaithful both to  her own citizens, and also to other nations. There is a consolation,  therefore, in the country producing all things at home; and yet, owing  to the ruggedness of the soil, not providing anything in great  abundance. Had there been abundance, there might have been a great  export trade, and a great return of gold and silver; which, as we may  safely affirm, has the most fatal results on a State whose aim is the  attainment of just and noble sentiments: this was said by us, if you  remember, in the previous discussion.


Cle. I remember, and am of opinion that we both were and are in the  right.


Ath. Well, but let me ask, how is the country supplied with timber for  ship-building?


Cle. There is no fir of any consequence, nor pine, and not much cypress;  and you will find very little stone-pine or plane-wood, which  shipwrights always require for the interior of ships.


Ath. These are also natural advantages.


Cle. Why so?


Ath. Because no city ought to be easily able to imitate its enemies in  what is mischievous.


Cle. How does that bear upon any of the matters of which we have been  speaking?


Ath. Remember, my good friend, what I said at first about the Cretan  laws, that they look to one thing only, and this, as you both agreed,  was war; and I replied that such laws, in so far as they tended to  promote virtue, were good; but in that they regarded a part only, and  not the whole of virtue, I disapproved of them. And now I hope that you  in your turn will follow and watch me if I legislate with a view to  anything but virtue, or with a view to a part of virtue only. For I  consider that the true lawgiver, like an archer, aims only at that on  which some eternal beauty is always attending, and dismisses everything  else, whether wealth or any other benefit, when separated from virtue. I  was saying that the imitation of enemies was a bad thing; and I was  thinking of a case in which a maritime people are harassed by enemies,  as the Athenians were by Minos (I do not speak from any desire to recall  past grievances); but he, as we know, was a great naval potentate, who  compelled the inhabitants of Attica to pay him a cruel tribute; and in  those days they had no ships of war as they now have, nor was the  country filled with ship-timber, and therefore they could not readily  build them. Hence they could not learn how to imitate their enemy at  sea, and in this way, becoming sailors themselves, directly repel their  enemies. Better for them to have lost many times over the seven youths,  than that heavy-armed and stationary troops should have been turned into  sailors, and accustomed to be often leaping on shore, and again to come  running back to their ships; or should have fancied that there was no  disgrace in not awaiting the attack of an enemy and dying boldly; and  that there were good reasons, and plenty of them, for a man throwing  away his arms, and betaking himself to flight — which is not  dishonourable, as people say, at certain times. This is the language of  naval warfare, and is anything but worthy of extraordinary praise. For  we should not teach bad habits, least of all to the best part of the  citizens. You may learn the evil of such a practice from Homer, by whom  Odysseus is introduced, rebuking Agamemnon because he desires to draw  down the ships to the sea at a time when the Achaeans are hard pressed  by the Trojans — he gets angry with him, and says: Who, at a time when  the battle is in full cry, biddest to drag the well-benched ships into  the sea, that the prayers of the Trojans may be accomplished yet more,  and high ruin falls upon us. For the Achaeans will not maintain the  battle, when the ships are drawn into the sea, but they will look behind  and will cease from strife; in that the counsel which you give will  prove injurious. You see that he quite knew triremes on the sea, in the  neighbourhood of fighting men, to be an evil; — lions might be trained  in that way to fly from a herd of deer. Moreover, naval powers which owe  their safety to ships, do not give honour to that sort of warlike  excellence which is most deserving of it. For he who owes his safety to  the pilot and the captain, and the oarsman, and all sorts of rather  inferior persons cannot rightly give honour to whom honour is due. But  how can a state be in a right condition which cannot justly award  honour?


Cle. It is hardly possible, I admit; and yet, Stranger, we Cretans are  in the habit of saying that the battle of Salamis was the salvation of  Hellas.


Ath. Why, yes; and that is an opinion which is widely spread both among  Hellenes and barbarians. But Megillus and I say rather, that the battle  of Marathon was the beginning, and the battle of Plataea the completion,  of the great deliverance, and that these battles by land made the  Hellenes better; whereas the sea-fights of Salamis and Artemisium — for  I may as well put them both together — made them no better, if I may say  so without offence about the battles which helped to save us. And in  estimating the goodness of a state, we regard both the situation of the  country and the order of the laws, considering that the mere  preservation and continuance of life is not the most honourable thing  for men, as the vulgar think, but the continuance of the best life,  while we live; and that again, if I am jot mistaken, is remark which has  been made already.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Then we have only to ask whether we are taking the course which we  acknowledge to be the best for the settlement and legislation of states.


Cle. The best by far.


Ath. And now let me proceed to another question: Who are to be the  colonists? May any one come out of all Crete; and is the idea that the  population in the several states is too numerous for the means of  subsistence? For I suppose that you are not going to send out a general  invitation to any Hellene who likes to come. And yet I observe that to  your country settlers have come from Argos and Aegina and other parts of  Hellas. Tell me, then, whence do you draw your recruits in the present  enterprise?


Cle. They will come from all Crete; and of other Hellenes,  Peloponnesians will be most acceptable. For, as you truly observe, there  are Cretans of Argive descent; and the race of Cretans which has the  highest character at the present day is the Gortynian, and this has come  from Gortys in the Peloponnesus.


Ath. Cities find colonization in some respects easier if the colonists  are one race, which like a swarm of bees is sent out from a single  country, either when friends leave friends, owing to some pressure of  population or other similar necessity, or when a portion of a state is  driven by factions to emigrate. And there have been whole cities which  have taken flight when utterly conquered by a superior power in war.  This, however, which is in one way an advantage to the colonist or  legislator, in another point of view creates a difficulty. There is an  element of friendship in the community of race, and language, and  language, and laws, and in common temples and rites of worship; but  colonies which are of this homogeneous sort are apt to kick against any  laws or any form of constitution differing from that which they had at  home; and although the badness of their own laws may have been the cause  of the factions which prevailed among them, yet from the force of habit  they would fain preserve the very customs which were their ruin, and the  leader of the colony, who is their legislator, finds them troublesome  and rebellious. On the other hand, the conflux of several populations  might be more disposed to listen to new laws; but then, to make them  combine and pull together, as they say of horses, is a most difficult  task, and the work of years. And yet there is nothing which tends more  to the improvement of mankind than legislation and colonization.


Cle. No doubt; but I should like to know why you say so.


Ath. My good friend, I am afraid that the course of my speculations is  leading me to say something depreciatory of legislators; but if the word  be to the purpose, there can be no harm. And yet, why am I disquieted,  for I believe that the same principle applies equally to all human  things?


Cle. To what are you referring?


Ath. I was going to say that man never legislates, but accidents of all  sorts, which legislate for us in all sorts of ways. The violence of war  and the hard necessity of poverty are constantly overturning governments  and changing laws. And the power of discase has often caused innovations  in the state, when there have been pestilences, or when there has been a  succession of bad seasons continuing during many years. Any one who sees  all this, naturally rushes to the conclusion of which I was speaking,  that no mortal legislates in anything, but that in human affairs chance  is almost everything. And this may be said of the arts of the sailor,  and the pilot, and the physician, and the general, and may seem to be  well said; and yet there is another thing which may be said with equal  truth of all of them.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. That God governs all things, and that chance and opportunity  cooperate with him in the government of human affairs. There is,  however, a third and less extreme view, that art should be there also;  for I should say that in a storm there must surely be a great advantage  in having the aid of the pilot’s art. You would agree?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And does not a like principle apply to legislation as well as to  other things: even supposing all the conditions to be favourable which  are needed for the happiness of the state, yet the true legislator must  from time to time appear on the scene?


Cle. Most true.


Ath. In each case the artist would be able to pray rightly for certain  conditions, and if these were granted by fortune, he would then only  require to exercise his art?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And all the other artists just now mentioned, if they were bidden  to offer up each their special prayer, would do so?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. And the legislator would do likewise?


Cle. I believe that he would.


Ath. “Come, legislator,” we will say to him; “what are the conditions  which you require in a state before you can organize it?” How ought he  to answer this question? Shall I give his answer?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. He will say — “Give me a state which is governed by a tyrant, and  let the tyrant be young and have a good memory; let him be quick at  learning, and of a courageous and noble nature; let him have that  quality which, as I said before, is the inseparable companion of all the  other parts of virtue, if there is to be any good in them.”


Cle. I suppose, Megillus, that this companion virtue of which the  Stranger speaks, must be temperance?


Ath. Yes, Cleinias, temperance in the vulgar sense; not that which in  the forced and exaggerated language of some philosophers is called  prudence, but that which is the natural gift of children and animals, of  whom some live continently and others incontinently, but when isolated,  was as we said, hardly worth reckoning in the catalogue of goods. I  think that you must understand my meaning.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then our tyrant must have this as well as the other qualities, if  the state is to acquire in the best manner and in the shortest time the  form of government which is most conducive to happiness; for there  neither is nor ever will be a better or speedier way of establishing a  polity than by a tyranny.


Cle. By what possible arguments, Stranger, can any man persuade himself  of such a monstrous doctrine?


Ath. There is surely no difficulty in seeing, Cleinias, what is in  accordance with the order of nature?


Cle. You would assume, as you say, a tyrant who was young, temperate,  quick at learning, having a good memory, courageous, of a noble nature?


Ath. Yes; and you must add fortunate; and his good fortune must be that  he is the contemporary of a great legislator, and that some happy chance  brings them together. When this has been accomplished, God has done all  that he ever does for a state which he desires to be eminently  prosperous; He has done second best for a state in which there are two  such rulers, and third best for a state in which there are three. The  difficulty increases with the increase, and diminishes with the  diminution of the number.


Cle. You mean to say, I suppose, that the best government is produced  from a tyranny, and originates in a good lawgiver and an orderly tyrant,  and that the change from such a tyranny into a perfect form of  government takes place most easily; less easily when from an oligarchy;  and, in the third degree, from a democracy: is not that your meaning?


Ath. Not so; I mean rather to say that the change is best made out of a  tyranny; and secondly, out of a monarchy; and thirdly, out of some sort  of democracy: fourth, in the capacity for improvement, comes oligarchy,  which has the greatest difficulty in admitting of such a change, because  the government is in the hands of a number of potentates. I am supposing  that the legislator is by nature of the true sort, and that his strength  is united with that of the chief men of the state; and when the ruling  element is numerically small, and at the same time very strong, as in a  tyranny, there the change is likely to be easiest and most rapid.


Cle. How? I do not understand.


Ath. And yet I have repeated what I am saying a good many times; but I  suppose that you have never seen a city which is under a tyranny?


Cle. No, and I cannot say that I have any great desire to see one.


Ath. And yet, where there is a tyranny, you might certainly see that of  which I am now speaking.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. I mean that you might see how, without trouble and in no very long  period of time, the tyrant, if he wishes, can change the manners of a  state: he has only to go in the direction of virtue or of vice,  whichever he prefers, he himself indicating by his example the lines of  conduct, praising and rewarding some actions and reproving others, and  degrading those who disobey.


Cle. But how can we imagine that the citizens in general will at once  follow the example set to them; and how can he have this power both of  persuading and of compelling them?


Ath. Let no one, my friends, persuade us that there is any quicker and  easier way in which states change their laws than when the rulers lead:  such changes never have, nor ever will, come to pass in any other way.  The real impossibility or difficulty is of another sort, and is rarely  surmounted in the course of ages; but when once it is surmounted, ten  thousand or rather all blessings follow.


Cle. Of what are you speaking?


Ath. The difficulty is to find the divine love of temperate and just  institutions existing in any powerful forms of government, whether in a  monarchy or oligarchy of wealth or of birth. You might as well hope to  reproduce the character of Nestor, who is said to have excelled all men  in the power of speech, and yet more in his temperance. This, however,  according to the tradition, was in the times of Troy; in our own days  there is nothing of the sort; but if such an one either has or ever  shall come into being, or is now among us, blessed is he and blessed are  they who hear the wise words that flow from his lips. And this may be  said of power in general: When the supreme power in man coincides with  the greatest wisdom and temperance, then the best laws and the best  constitution come into being; but in no other way. And let what I have  been saying be regarded as a kind of sacred legend or oracle, and let  this be our proof that, in one point of view, there may be a difficulty  for a city to have good laws, but that there is another point of view in  which nothing can be easier or sooner effected, granting our  supposition.


Cle. How do you mean?


Ath. Let us try to amuse ourselves, old boys as we are, by moulding in  words the laws which are suitable to your state.


Cle. Let us proceed without delay.


Ath. Then let us invoke God at the settlement of our state; may he hear  and be propitious to us, and come and set in order the State and the  laws!


Cle. May he come!


Ath. But what form of polity are we going to give the city?


Cle. Tell us what you mean a little more clearly. Do you mean some form  of democracy, or oligarchy, or aristocracy, or monarchy? For we cannot  suppose that you would include tyranny.


Ath. Which of you will first tell me to which of these classes his own  government is to be referred? Megillus Ought I to answer first, since I  am the elder?


Cle. Perhaps you should.


Meg. And yet, Stranger, I perceive that I cannot say, without more  thought, what I should call the government of Lacedaemon, for it seems  to me to be like a tyranny — the power of our Ephors is marvellously  tyrannical; and sometimes it appears to me to be of all cities the most  democratical; and who can reasonably deny that it is an aristocracy? We  have also a monarchy which is held for life, and is said by all mankind,  and not by ourselves only, to be the most ancient of all monarchies;  and, therefore, when asked on a sudden, I cannot precisely say which  form of government the Spartan is.


Cle. I am in the same difficulty, Megillus; for I do not feel confident  that the polity of Cnosus is any of these.


Ath. The reason is, my excellent friends, that you really have polities,  but the states of which we were just now speaking are merely  aggregations of men dwelling in cities who are the subjects and servants  of a part of their own state, and each of them is named after the  dominant power; they are not polities at all. But if states are to be  named after their rulers, the true state ought to be called by the name  of the God who rules over wise men.


Cle. And who is this God?


Ath. May I still make use of fable to some extent, in the hope that I  may be better able to answer your question: shall I?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. In the primeval world, and a long while before the cities came into  being whose settlements we have described, there is said to have been in  the time of Cronos a blessed rule and life, of which the best-ordered of  existing states is a copy.


Cle. It will be very necessary to hear about that.


Ath. I quite agree with you; and therefore I have introduced the  subject.


Cle. Most appropriately; and since the tale is to the point, you will do  well in giving us the whole story.


Ath. I will do as you suggest. There is a tradition of the happy life of  mankind in days when all things were spontaneous and abundant. And of  this the reason is said to have been as follows: Cronos knew what we  ourselves were declaring, that no human nature invested with supreme  power is able to order human affairs and not overflow with insolence and  wrong. Which reflection led him to appoint not men but demigods, who are  of a higher and more divine race, to be the kings and rulers of our  cities; he did as we do with flocks of sheep and other tame animals. For  we do not appoint oxen to be the lords of oxen, or goats of goats; but  we ourselves are a superior race, and rule over them. In like manner  God, in his love of mankind, placed over us the demons, who are a  superior race, and they with great case and pleasure to themselves, and  no less to us, taking care us and giving us peace and reverence and  order and justice never failing, made the tribes of men happy and  united. And this tradition, which is true, declares that cities of which  some mortal man and not God is the ruler, have no escape from evils and  toils. Still we must do all that we can to imitate the life which is  said to have existed in the days of Cronos, and, as far as the principle  of immortality dwells in us, to that we must hearken, both in private  and public life, and regulate our cities and houses according to law,  meaning by the very term “law,” the distribution of mind. But if either  a single person or an oligarchy or a democracy has a soul eager after  pleasures and desires — wanting to be filled with them, yet retaining  none of them, and perpetually afflicted with an endless and insatiable  disorder; and this evil spirit, having first trampled the laws under  foot, becomes the master either of a state or of an individual — then,  as I was saying, salvation is hopeless. And now, Cleinias, we have to  consider whether you will or will not accept this tale of mine.


Cle. Certainly we will.


Ath. You are aware — are you not? — that there are of said to be as many  forms of laws as there are of governments, and of the latter we have  already mentioned all those which are commonly recognized.


Now you must regard this as a matter of first-rate importance. For what  is to be the standard of just and unjust, is once more the point at  issue. Men say that the law ought not to regard either military virtue,  or virtue in general, but only the interests and power and preservation  of the established form of government; this is thought by them to be the  best way of expressing the natural definition of justice.


Cle. How?


Ath. Justice is said by them to be the interest of the stronger.


Cle. Speak plainer.


Ath. I will: “Surely,” they say, “the governing power makes whatever  laws have authority in any state?”


Cle. True.


Ath. “Well,” they would add, “and do you suppose that tyranny or  democracy, or any other conquering power, does not make the continuance  of the power which is possessed by them the first or principal object of  their laws?”


Cle. How can they have any other?


Ath. “And whoever transgresses these laws is punished as an evil-doer by  the legislator, who calls the laws just?”


Cle. Naturally.


Ath. “This, then, is always the mode and fashion in which justice  exists.”


Cle. Certainly, if they are correct in their view.


Ath. Why, yes, this is one of those false principles of government to  which we were referring.


Cle. Which do you mean?


Ath. Those which we were examining when we spoke of who ought to govern  whom. Did we not arrive at the conclusion that parents ought to govern  their children, and the elder the younger, and the noble the ignoble?  And there were many other principles, if you remember, and they were not  always consistent. One principle was this very principle of might, and  we said that Pindar considered violence natural and justified it.


Cle. Yes; I remember.


Ath. Consider, then, to whom our state is to be entrusted. For there is  a thing which has occurred times without number in states.


Cle. What thing?


Ath. That when there has been a contest for power, those who gain the  upper hand so entirely monopolize the government, as to refuse all share  to the defeated party and their descendants — they live watching one  another, the ruling class being in perpetual fear that some one who has  a recollection of former wrongs will come into power and rise up against  them. Now, according to our view, such governments are not polities at  all, nor are laws right which are passed for the good of particular  classes and not for the good of the whole state. States which have such  laws are not polities but parties, and their notions of justice are  simply unmeaning. I say this, because I am going to assert that we must  not entrust the government in your state to any one because he is rich,  or because he possesses any other advantage, such as strength, or  stature, or again birth: but he who is most obedient to the laws of the  state, he shall win the palm; and to him who is victorious in the first  degree shall be given the highest office and chief ministry of the gods;  and the second to him who bears the second palm; and on a similar  principle shall all the other be assigned to those who come next in  order.


And when I call the rulers servants or ministers of the law, I give them  this name not for the sake of novelty, but because I certainly believe  that upon such service or ministry depends the well- or ill-being of the  state. For that state in which the law is subject and has no authority,  I perceive to be on the highway to ruin; but I see that the state in  which the law is above the rulers, and the rulers are the inferiors of  the law, has salvation, and every blessing which the Gods can confer.


Cle. Truly, Stranger, you see with the keen vision of age.


Ath. Why, yes; every man when he is young has that sort of vision  dullest, and when he is old keenest.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And now, what is to be the next step? May we not suppose the  colonists to have arrived, and proceed to make our speech to them?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. “Friends,” we say to them, — “God, as the old tradition declares,  holding in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is,  travels according to his nature in a straight line towards the  accomplishment of his end. Justice always accompanies him, and is the  punisher of those who fall short of the divine law. To justice, he who  would be happy holds fast, and follows in her company with all humility  and order; but he who is lifted up with pride, or elated by wealth or  rank, or beauty, who is young and foolish, and has a soul hot with  insolence, and thinks that he has no need of any guide or ruler, but is  able himself to be the guide of others, he, I say, is left deserted of  God; and being thus deserted, he takes to him others who are like  himself, and dances about, throwing all things into confusion, and many  think that he is a great man, but in a short time he pays a penalty  which justice cannot but approve, and is utterly destroyed, and his  family and city with him. Wherefore, seeing that human things are thus  ordered, what should a wise man do or think, or not do or think?


Cle. Every man ought to make up his mind that he will be one of the  followers of God; there can be no doubt of that.


Ath. Then what life is agreeable to God, and becoming in his followers?  One only, expressed once for all in the old saying that “like agrees  with like, with measure measure,” but things which have no measure agree  neither with themselves nor with the things which have. Now God ought to  be to us the measure of all things, and not man, as men commonly say  (Protagoras): the words are far more true of him. And he who would be  dear to God must, as far as is possible, be like him and such as he is.  Wherefore the temperate man is the friend of God, for he is like him;  and the intemperate man is unlike him, and different from him, and  unjust. And the same applies to other things; and this is the  conclusion, which is also the noblest and truest of all sayings — that  for the good man to offer sacrifice to the Gods, and hold converse with  them by means of prayers and offerings and every kind of service, is the  noblest and best of all things, and also the most conducive to a happy  life, and very fit and meet. But with the bad man, the opposite of this  is true: for the bad man has an impure soul, whereas the good is pure;  and from one who is polluted, neither good man nor God can without  impropriety receive gifts. Wherefore the unholy do only waste their much  service upon the Gods, but when offered by any holy man, such service is  most acceptable to them. This is the mark at which we ought to aim. But  what weapons shall we use, and how shall we direct them? In the first  place, we affirm that next after the Olympian Gods and the Gods of the  State, honour should be given to the Gods below; they should receive  everything in even and of the second choice, and ill omen, while the odd  numbers, and the first choice, and the things of lucky omen, are given  to the Gods above, by him who would rightly hit the mark of piety.


Next to these Gods, a wise man will do service to the demons or spirits,  and then to the heroes, and after them will follow the private and  ancestral Gods, who are worshipped as the law prescribes in the places  which are sacred to them. Next comes the honour of living parents, to  whom, as is meet, we have to pay the first and greatest and oldest of  all debts, considering that all which a man has belongs to those who  gave him birth and brought him up, and that he must do all that he can  to minister to them, first, in his property, secondly, in his person,  and thirdly, in his soul, in return for the endless care and travail  which they bestowed upon him of old, in the days of his infancy, and  which he is now to pay back to them when they are old and in the  extremity of their need. And all his life long he ought never to utter,  or to have uttered, an unbecoming word to them; for of light and  fleeting words the penalty is most severe; Nemesis, the messenger of  justice, is appointed to watch over all such matters. When they are  angry and want to satisfy their feelings in word or deed, he should give  way to them; for a father who thinks that he has been wronged by his son  may be reasonably expected to be very angry. At their death, the most  moderate funeral is best, neither exceeding the customary expense, nor  yet falling short of the honour which has been usually shown by the  former generation to their parents. And let a man not forget to pay the  yearly tribute of respect to the dead, honouring them chiefly by  omitting nothing that conduces to a perpetual remembrance of them, and  giving a reasonable portion of his fortune to the dead. Doing this, and  living after this manner, we shall receive our reward from the Gods and  those who are above us [i.e., the demons]; and we shall spend our days  for the most part in good hope. And how a man ought to order what  relates to his descendants and his kindred and friends and  fellow-citizens, and the rites of hospitality taught by Heaven, and the  intercourse which arises out of all these duties, with a view to the  embellishment and orderly regulation of his own life — these things, I  say, the laws, as we proceed with them, will accomplish, partly  persuading, and partly when natures do not yield to the persuasion of  custom, chastising them by might and right, and will thus render our  state, if the Gods co-operate with us, prosperous and happy. But of what  has to be said, and must be said by the legislator who is of my way of  thinking, and yet, if said in the form of law, would be out of place —  of this I think that he may give a sample for the instruction of himself  and of those for whom he is legislating; and then when, as far as he is  able, he has gone through all the preliminaries, he may proceed to the  work of legislation. Now, what will be the form of such prefaces? There  may be a difficulty in including or describing them all under a single  form, but I think that we may get some notion of them if we can  guarantee one thing.


Cle. What is that?


Ath. I should wish the citizens to be as readily persuaded to virtue as  possible; this will surely be the aim of the legislator in all his laws.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. The proposal appears to me to be of some value; and I think that a  person will listen with more gentleness and good-will to the precepts  addressed to him by the legislator, when his soul is not altogether  unprepared to receive them. Even a little done in the way of  conciliation gains his ear, and is always worth having. For there is no  great inclination or readiness on the part of mankind to be made as  good, or as quickly good, as possible. The case of the many proves the  wisdom of Hesiod, who says that the road to wickedness is smooth and can  be travelled without perspiring, because it is so very short: But before  virtue the immortal Gods have placed the sweat of labour, and long and  steep is the way thither, and rugged at first; but when you have reached  the top, although difficult before, it is then easy.


Cle. Yes; and he certainly speaks well.


Ath. Very true: and now let me tell you the effect which the preceding  discourse has had upon me.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. Suppose that we have a little conversation with the legislator, and  say to him — “O, legislator, speak; if you know what we ought to say and  do, you can surely tell.”


Cle. Of course he can.


Ath. “Did we not hear you just now saying, that the legislator ought not  to allow the poets to do what they liked? For that they would not know  in which of their words they went against the laws, to the hurt of the  state.”


Cle. That is true.


Ath. May we not fairly make answer to him on behalf of the poets?


Cle. What answer shall we make to him?


Ath. That the poet, according to the tradition which has ever prevailed  among us, and is accepted of all men, when he sits down on the tripod of  the muse, is not in his right mind; like a fountain, he allows to flow  out freely whatever comes in, and his art being imitative, he is often  compelled to represent men of opposite dispositions, and thus to  contradict himself; neither can he tell whether there is more truth in  one thing that he has said than in another. this is not the case in a  law; the legislator must give not two rules about the same thing, but  one only. Take an example from what you have just been saying. Of three  kinds of funerals, there is one which is too extravagant, another is too  niggardly, the third is a mean; and you choose and approve and order the  last without qualification.


But if I had an extremely rich wife, and she bade me bury her and  describe her burial in a poem, I should praise the extravagant sort; and  a poor miserly man, who had not much money to spend, would approve of  the niggardly; and the man of moderate means, who was himself moderate,  would praise a moderate funeral. Now you in the capacity of legislator  must not barely say “a moderate funeral,” but you must define what  moderation is, and how much; unless you are definite, you must not  suppose that you are speaking a language that can become law.


Cle. Certainly not.


Ath. And is our legislator to have no preface to his laws, but to say at  once Do this, avoid that — and then holding the penalty in terrorem to  go on to another law; offering never a word of advice or exhortation to  those for whom he is legislating, after the manner of some doctors? For  of doctors, as I may remind you, some have a gentler, others a ruder  method of cure; and as children ask the doctor to be gentle with them,  so we will ask the legislator to cure our disorders with the gentlest  remedies. What I mean to say is, that besides doctors there are doctors’  servants, who are also styled doctors.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And whether they are slaves or freemen makes no difference; they  acquire their knowledge of medicine by obeying and observing their  masters; empirically and not according to the natural way of learning,  as the manner of freemen is, who have learned scientifically themselves  the art which they impart scientifically to their pupils. You are aware  that there are these two classes of doctors?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And did you ever observe that there are two classes of patients in  states, slaves and freemen; and the slave doctors run about and cure the  slaves, or wait for them in the dispensaries — practitioners of this  sort never talk to their patients individually, or let them talk about  their own individual complaints? The slave doctor prescribes what mere  experience suggests, as if he had exact knowledge; and when he has given  his orders, like a tyrant, he rushes off with equal assurance to some  other servant who is ill; and so he relieves the master of the house of  the care of his invalid slaves. But the other doctor, who is a freeman,  attends and practises upon freemen; and he carries his enquiries far  back, and goes into the nature of the disorder; he enters into discourse  with the patient and with his friends, and is at once getting  information from the sick man, and also instructing him as far as he is  able, and he will not prescribe for him until he has first convinced  him; at last, when he has brought the patient more and more under his  persuasive influences and set him on the road to health, he attempts to  effect a cure. Now which is the better way of proceeding in a physician  and in a trainer? Is he the better who accomplishes his ends in a double  way, or he who works in one way, and that the ruder and inferior?


Cle. I should say, Stranger, that the double way is far better.


Ath. Should you like to see an example of the double and single method  in legislation?


Cle. Certainly I should.


Ath. What will be our first law? Will not the legislature, observing the  order of nature, begin by making regulations for states about births?


Cle. He will.


Ath. In all states the birth of children goes back to the connection of  marriage?


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And, according to the true order, the laws relating to marriage  should be those which are first determined in every state?


Cle. Quite so.


Ath. Then let me first give the law of marriage in a simple form; it may  run as follows: A man shall marry between the ages of thirty and  thirty-five, or, if he does not, he shall pay such and such a fine, or  shall suffer the loss of such and such privileges. This would be the  simple law about marriage. The double law would run thus: A man shall  marry between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, considering that in a  manner the human race naturally partakes of immortality, which every man  is by nature inclined to desire to the utmost; for the desire of every  man that he may become famous, and not lie in the grave without a name,  is only the love of continuance. Now mankind are coeval with all time,  and are ever following, and will ever follow, the course of time; and so  they are immortal, because they leave children’s children behind them,  and partake of immortality in the unity of generation. And for a man  voluntarily to deprive himself of this gift, as he deliberately does who  will not have a wife or children, is impiety. He who obeys the law shall  be free, and shall pay no fine; but he who is disobedient, and does not  marry, when he has arrived at the age of thirty-five, shall pay a yearly  fine of a certain amount, in order that he may not imagine his celibacy  to bring ease and profit to him; and he shall not share in the honours  which the young men in the state give to the aged. Comparing now the two  forms of the law, you will be able to arrive at a judgment about any  other laws — whether they should be double in length even when shortest,  because they have to persuade as well as threaten, or whether they shall  only threaten and be of half the length.


Meg. The shorter form, Stranger, would be more in accordance with  Lacedaemonian custom; although, for my own part, if any one were to ask  me which I myself prefer in the state, I should certainly determine in  favour of the longer; and I would have every law made after the same  pattern, if I had to choose. But I think that Cleinias is the person to  be consulted, for his is the state which is going to use these laws.


Cle. Thank you, Megillus.


Ath. Whether, in the abstract, words are to be many or few, is a very  foolish question; the best form, and not the shortest, is to be  approved; nor is length at all to be regarded. Of the two forms of law  which have been recited, the one is not only twice as good in practical  usefulness as the other, but the case is like that of the two kinds of  doctors, which I was just now mentioning. And yet legislators never  appear to have considered that they have two instruments which they  might use in legislation — persuasion and force; for in dealing with the  rude and uneducated multitude, they use the one only as far as they can;  they do not mingle persuasion with coercion, but employ force pure and  simple. Moreover, there is a third point, sweet friends, which ought to  be, and never is, regarded in our existing laws.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. A point arising out of our previous discussion, which comes into my  mind in some mysterious way. All this time, from early dawn until noon,  have we been talking about laws in this charming retreat: now we are  going to promulgate our laws, and what has preceded was only the prelude  of them. Why do I mention this? For this reason: Because all discourses  and vocal exercises have preludes and overtures, which are a sort of  artistic beginnings intended to help the strain which is to be  performed; lyric measures and music of every other kind have preludes  framed with wonderful care. But of the truer and higher strain of law  and politics, no one has ever yet uttered any prelude, or composed or  published any, as though there was no such thing in nature. Whereas our  present discussion seems to me to imply that there is; — these double  laws, of which we were speaking, are not exactly double, but they are in  two parts, the law and the prelude of the law. The arbitrary command,  which was compared to the commands of doctors, whom we described as of  the meaner sort, was the law pure and simple; and that which preceded,  and was described by our friend here as being hortatory only, was,  although in fact, an exhortation, likewise analogous to the preamble of  a discourse. For I imagine that all this language of conciliation, which  the legislator has been uttering in the preface of the law, was intended  to create goodwill in the person whom he addressed, in order that, by  reason of this good-will, he might more intelligently receive his  command, that is to say, the law.


And therefore, in my way of speaking, this is more rightly described as  the preamble than as the matter of the law. And I must further proceed  to observe, that to all his laws, and to each separately, the legislator  should prefix a preamble; he should remember how great will be the  difference between them, according as they have, or have not, such  preambles, as in the case already given.


Cle. The lawgiver, if he asks my opinion, will certainly legislate in  the form which you advise.


Ath. I think that you are right, Cleinias, in affirming that all laws  have preambles, and that throughout the whole of this work of  legislation every single law should have a suitable preamble at the  beginning; for that which is to follow is most important, and it makes  all the difference whether we clearly remember the preambles or not.


Yet we should be wrong in requiring that all laws, small and great  alike, should have preambles of the same kind, any more than all songs  or speeches; although they may be natural to all, they are not always  necessary, and whether they are to be employed or not has in each case  to be left to the judgment of the speaker or the musician, or, in the  present instance, of the lawgiver.


Cle. That I think is most true. And now, Stranger, without delay let us  return to the argument, and, as people say in play, make a second and  better beginning, if you please, with the principles which we have been  laying down, which we never thought of regarding as a preamble before,  but of which we may now make a preamble, and not merely consider them to  be chance topics of discourse. Let us acknowledge, then, that we have a  preamble. About the honour of the Gods and the respect of parents,  enough has been already said; and we may proceed to the topics which  follow next in order, until the preamble is deemed by you to be  complete; and after that you shall go through the laws themselves.


Ath. I understand you to mean that we have made a sufficient preamble  about Gods and demi-gods, and about parents living or dead; and now you  would have us bring the rest of the subject into the light of day?


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. After this, as is meet and for the interest of us all, I the  speaker, and you the listeners, will try to estimate all that relates to  the souls and bodies and properties of the citizens, as regards both  their occupations and arrive, as far as in us lies, at the nature of  education. These then are the topics which follow next in order.


Cle. Very good.





Athenian Stranger. Listen, all ye who have just now heard the laws about  Gods, and about our dear forefathers: Of all the things which a man has,  next to the Gods, his soul is the most divine and most truly his own.  Now in every man there are two parts: the better and superior, which  rules, and the worse and inferior, which serves; and the ruling part of  him is always to be preferred to the subject. Wherefore I am right in  bidding every one next to the Gods, who are our masters, and those who  in order follow them [i.e., the demons], to honour his own soul, which  every one seems to honour, but no one honours as he ought; for honour is  a divine good, and no evil thing is honourable; and he who thinks that  he can honour the soul by word or gift, or any sort of compliance,  without making her in any way better, seems to honour her, but honours  her not at all. For example, every man, from his very boyhood, fancies  that he is able to know everything, and thinks that he honours his soul  by praising her, and he is very ready to let her do whatever she may  like. But I mean to say that in acting thus he injures his soul, and is  far from honouring her; whereas, in our opinion, he ought to honour her  as second only to the Gods. Again, when a man thinks that others are to  be blamed, and not himself, for the errors which he has committed from  time to time, and the many and great evils which befell him in  consequence, and is always fancying himself to be exempt and innocent,  he is under the idea that he is honouring his soul; whereas the very  reverse is the fact, for he is really injuring her. And when,  disregarding the word and approval of the legislator, he indulges in  pleasure, then again he is far from honouring her; he only dishonours  her, and fills her full of evil and remorse; or when he does not endure  to the end the labours and fears and sorrows and pains which the  legislator approves, but gives way before them, then, by yielding, he  does not honour the soul, but by all such conduct he makes her to be  dishonourable; nor when he thinks that life at any price is a good, does  he honour her, but yet once more he dishonours her; for the soul having  a notion that the world below is all evil, he yields to her, and does  not resist and teach or convince her that, for aught she knows, the  world of the Gods below, instead of being evil, may be the greatest of  all goods.


Again, when any one prefers beauty to virtue, what is this but the real  and utter dishonour of the soul? For such a preference implies that the  body is more honourable than the soul; and this is false, for there is  nothing of earthly birth which is more honourable than the heavenly, and  he who thinks otherwise of the soul has no idea how greatly he  undervalues this wonderful possession; nor, again, when a person is  willing, or not unwilling, to acquire dishonest gains, does he then  honour his soul with gifts — far otherwise; he sells her glory and  honour for a small piece of gold; but all the gold which is under or  upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue. In a word,  I may say that he who does not estimate the base and evil, the good and  noble, according to the standard of the legislator, and abstain in every  possible way from the one and practise the other to the utmost of his  power, does not know that in all these respects he is most foully and  disgracefully abusing his soul, which is the divinest part of man; for  no one, as I may say, ever considers that which is declared to be the  greatest penalty of evil-doing — namely, to grow into the likeness of  bad men, and growing like them to fly from the conversation of the good,  and be cut off from them, and cleave to and follow after the company of  the bad. And he who is joined to them must do and suffer what such men  by nature do and say to one another — a suffering which is not justice  but retribution; for justice and the just are noble, whereas retribution  is the suffering which waits upon injustice; and whether a man escape or  endure this, he is miserable — in the former case, because he is not  cured; while in the latter, he perishes in order that the rest of  mankind may be saved.


Speaking generally, our glory is to follow the better and improve the  inferior, which is susceptible of improvement, as far as this is  possible. And of all human possessions, the soul is by nature most  inclined to avoid the evil, and track out and find the chief good; which  when a man has found, he should take up his abode with it during the  remainder of his life. Wherefore the soul also is second [or next to  God] in honour; and third, as every one will perceive, comes the honour  of the body in natural order. Having determined this, we have next to  consider that there is a natural honour of the body, and that of honours  some are true and some are counterfeit.


To decide which are which is the business of the legislator; and he, I  suspect, would intimate that they are as follows: Honour is not to be  given to the fair body, or to the strong or the swift or the tall, or to  the healthy body (although many may think otherwise), any more than to  their opposites; but the mean states of all these habits are by far the  safest and most moderate; for the one extreme makes the soul braggart  and insolent, and the other, illiberal and base; and money, and  property, and distinction all go to the same tune. The excess of any of  these things is apt to be a source of hatreds and divisions among states  and individuals; and the defect of them is commonly a cause of slavery.  And, therefore, I would not have any one fond of heaping up riches for  the sake of his children, in order that he may leave them as rich as  possible.


For the possession of great wealth is of no use, either to them or to  the state. The condition of youth which is free from flattery, and at  the same time not in need of the necessaries of life, is the best and  most harmonious of all, being in accord and agreement with our nature,  and making life to be most entirely free from sorrow. Let parents, then,  bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but the spirit of  reverence. We, indeed, fancy that they will inherit reverence from us,  if we rebuke them when they show a want of reverence. But this quality  is not really imparted to them by the present style of admonition, which  only tells them that the young ought always to be reverential.


A sensible legislator will rather exhort the elders to reverence the  younger, and above all to take heed that no young man sees or hears one  of themselves doing or saying anything disgraceful; for where old men  have no shame, there young men will most certainly be devoid of  reverence. The best way of training the young is to train yourself at  the same time; not to admonish them, but to be always carrying out your  own admonitions in practice. He who honours his kindred, and reveres  those who share in the same Gods and are of the same blood and family,  may fairly expect that the Gods who preside over generation will be  propitious to him, and will quicken his seed. And he who deems the  services which his friends and acquaintances do for him, greater and  more important than they themselves deem them, and his own favours to  them less than theirs to him, will have their good-will in the  intercourse of life. And surely in his relations to the state and his  fellow citizens, he is by far the best, who rather than the Olympic or  any other victory of peace or war, desires to win the palm of obedience  to the laws of his country, and who, of all mankind, is the person  reputed to have obeyed them best through life. In his relations to  strangers, a man should consider that a contract is a most holy thing,  and that all concerns and wrongs of strangers are more directly  dependent on the protection of God, than wrongs done to citizens; for  the stranger, having no kindred and friends, is more to be pitied by  Gods and men. Wherefore, also, he who is most able to avenge him is most  zealous in his cause; and he who is most able is the genius and the god  of the stranger, who follow in the train of Zeus, the god of strangers.  And for this reason, he who has a spark of caution in him, will do his  best to pass through life without sinning against the stranger. And of  offences committed, whether against strangers or fellow-countrymen, that  against suppliants is the greatest. For the god who witnessed to the  agreement made with the suppliant, becomes in a special manner the  guardian of the sufferer; and he will certainly not suffer unavenged.


Thus we have fairly described the manner in which a man is to act about  his parents, and himself, and his own affairs; and in relation to the  state, and his friends, and kindred, both in what concerns his own  countrymen, and in what concerns the stranger. We will now consider what  manner of man he must be who would best pass through life in respect of  those other things which are not matters of law, but of praise and blame  only; in which praise and blame educate a man, and make him more  tractable and amenable to the laws which are about to be imposed.


Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both to Gods and men; and he  who would be blessed and happy, should be from the first a partaker of  the truth, that he may live a true man as long as possible, for then he  can be trusted; but he is not to be trusted who loves voluntary  falsehood, and he who loves involuntary falsehood is a fool. Neither  condition is enviable, for the untrustworthy and ignorant has no friend,  and as time advances he becomes known, and lays up in store for himself  isolation in crabbed age when life is on the wane: so that, whether his  children or friends are alive or not, he is equally solitary. — Worthy  of honour is he who does no injustice, and of more than twofold honour,  if he not only does no injustice himself, but hinders others from doing  any; the first may count as one man, the second is worth many men,  because he informs the rulers of the injustice of others. And yet more  highly to be esteemed is he who co-operates with the rulers in  correcting the citizens as far as he can — he shall be proclaimed the  great and perfect citizen, and bear away the palm of virtue. The same  praise may be given about temperance and wisdom, and all other goods  which may be imparted to others, as well as acquired by a man for  himself; he who imparts them shall be honoured as the man of men, and he  who is willing, yet is not able, may be allowed the second place; but he  who is jealous and will not, if he can help, allow others to partake in  a friendly way of any good, is deserving of blame: the good, however,  which he has, is not to be undervalued by us because it is possessed by  him, but must be acquired by us also to the utmost of our power. Let  every man, then, freely strive for the prize of virtue, and let there be  no envy. For the unenvious nature increases the greatness of states — he  himself contends in the race, blasting the fair fame of no man; but the  envious, who thinks that he ought to get the better by defaming others,  is less energetic himself in the pursuit of true virtue, and reduces his  rivals to despair by his unjust slanders of them. And so he makes the  whole city to enter the arena untrained in the practice of virtue, and  diminishes her glory as far as in him lies. Now every man should be  valiant, but he should also be gentle. From the cruel, or hardly  curable, or altogether incurable acts of injustice done to him by  others, a man can only escape by fighting and defending himself and  conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them; and no man who is not  of a noble spirit is able to accomplish this. As to the actions of those  who do evil, but whose evil is curable, in the first place, let us  remember that the unjust man is not unjust of his own free will.


For no man of his own free will would choose to possess the greatest of  evils, and least of all in the most honourable part of himself.


And the soul, as we said, is of a truth deemed by all men the most  honourable. In the soul, then, which is the most honourable part of him,  no one, if he could help, would admit, or allow to continue the greatest  of evils. The unrighteous and vicious are always to be pitied in any  case; and one can afford to forgive as well as pity him who is curable,  and refrain and calm one’s anger, not getting into a passion, like a  woman, and nursing ill-feeling. But upon him who is incapable of  reformation and wholly evil, the vials of our wrath should be poured  out; wherefore I say that good men ought, when occasion demands, to be  both gentle and passionate.


Of all evils the greatest is one which in the souls of most men is  innate, and which a man is always excusing in himself and never  correcting; mean, what is expressed in the saying that “Every man by  nature is and ought to be his own friend.” Whereas the excessive love of  self is in reality the source to each man of all offences; for the lover  is blinded about the beloved, so that he judges wrongly of the just, the  good, and the honourable, and thinks that he ought always to prefer  himself to the truth. But he who would be a great man ought to regard,  not himself or his interests, but what is just, whether the just act be  his own or that of another. Through a similar error men are induced to  fancy that their own ignorance is wisdom, and thus we who may be truly  said to know nothing, think that we know all things; and because we will  not let others act for us in what we do not know, we are compelled to  act amiss ourselves. Wherefore let every man avoid excess of self-love,  and condescend to follow a better man than himself, not allowing any  false shame to stand in the way. There are also minor precepts which are  often repeated, and are quite as useful; a man should recollect them and  remind himself of them. For when a stream is flowing out, there should  be water flowing in too; and recollection flows in while wisdom is  departing. Therefore I say that a man should refrain from excess either  of laughter or tears, and should exhort his neighbour to do the same; he  should veil his immoderate sorrow or joy, and seek to behave with  propriety, whether the genius of his good fortune remains with him, or  whether at the crisis of his fate, when he seems to be mounting high and  steep places, the Gods oppose him in some of his enterprises. Still he  may ever hope, in the case of good men, that whatever afflictions are to  befall them in the future God will lessen, and that present evils he  will change for the better; and as to the goods which are the opposite  of these evils, he will not doubt that they will be added to them, and  that they will be fortunate. Such should be men’s hopes, and such should  be the exhortations with which they admonish one another, never losing  an opportunity, but on every occasion distinctly reminding themselves  and others of all these things, both in jest and earnest.


Enough has now been said of divine matters, both as touching the  practices which men ought to follow, and as to the sort of persons who  they ought severally to be. But of human things we have not as yet  spoken, and we must; for to men we are discoursing and not to Gods.  Pleasures and pains and desires are a part of human nature, and on them  every mortal being must of necessity hang and depend with the most eager  interest. And therefore we must praise the noblest life, not only as the  fairest in appearance, but as being one which, if a man will only taste,  and not, while still in his youth, desert for another, he will find to  surpass also in the very thing which we all of us desire — I mean in  having a greater amount of pleasure and less of pain during the whole of  life. And this will be plain, if a man has a true taste of them, as will  be quickly and clearly seen. But what is a true taste? That we have to  learn from the argument — the point being what is according to nature,  and what is not according to nature. One life must be compared with  another, the more pleasurable with the more painful, after this manner:  We desire to have pleasure, but we neither desire nor choose pain; and  the neutral state we are ready to take in exchange, not for pleasure but  for pain; and we also wish for less pain and greater pleasure, but less  pleasure and greater pain we do not wish for; and an equal balance of  either we cannot venture to assert that we should desire. And all these  differ or do not differ severally in number and magnitude and intensity  and equality, and in the opposites of these when regarded as objects of  choice, in relation to desire. And such being the necessary order of  things, we wish for that life in which there are many great and intense  elements of pleasure and pain, and in which the pleasures are in excess,  and do not wish for that in which the opposites exceed; nor, again, do  we wish for that in which the clements of either are small and few and  feeble, and the pains exceed. And when, as I said before, there is a  balance of pleasure and pain in life, this is to be regarded by us as  the balanced life; while other lives are preferred by us because they  exceed in what we like, or are rejected by us because they exceed in  what we dislike. All the lives of men may be regarded by us as bound up  in these, and we must also consider what sort of lives we by nature  desire. And if we wish for any others, I say that we desire them only  through some ignorance and inexperience of the lives which actually  exist.


Now, what lives are they, and how many in which, having searched out and  beheld the objects of will and desire and their opposites, and making of  them a law, choosing, I say, the dear and the pleasant and the best and  noblest, a man may live in the happiest way possible? Let us say that  the temperate life is one kind of life, and the rational another, and  the courageous another, and the healthful another; and to these four let  us oppose four other livesthe foolish, the cowardly, the intemperate,  the diseased. He who knows the temperate life will describe it as in all  things gentle, having gentle pains and gentle pleasures, and placid  desires and loves not insane; whereas the intemperate life is impetuous  in all things, and has violent pains and pleasures, and vehement and  stinging desires, and loves utterly insane; and in the temperate life  the pleasures exceed the pains, but in the intemperate life the pains  exceed the pleasures in greatness and number and frequency. Hence one of  the two lives is naturally and necessarily more pleasant and the other  more painful, and he who would live pleasantly cannot possibly choose to  live intemperately. And if this is true, the inference clearly is that  no man is voluntarily intemperate; but that the whole multitude of men  lack temperance in their lives, either from ignorance, or from want of  self-control, or both. And the same holds of the diseased and healthy  life; they both have pleasures and pains, but in health the pleasure  exceeds the pain, and in sickness the pain exceeds the pleasure. Now our  intention in choosing the lives is not that the painful should exceed,  but the life in which pain is exceeded by pleasure we have determined to  be the more pleasant life. And we should say that the temperate life has  the elements both of pleasure and pain fewer and smaller and less  frequent than the intemperate, and the wise life than the foolish life,  and the life of courage than the life of cowardice; one of each pair  exceeding in pleasure and the other in pain, the courageous surpassing  the cowardly, and the wise exceeding the foolish. And so the one dass of  lives exceeds the other class in pleasure; the temperate and courageous  and wise and healthy exceed the cowardly and foolish and intemperate and  diseased lives; and generally speaking, that which has any virtue,  whether of body or soul, is pleasanter than the vicious life, and far  superior in beauty and rectitude and excellence and reputation, and  causes him who lives accordingly to be infinitely happier than the  opposite.


Enough of the preamble; and now the laws should follow; or, to speak  more correctly, outline of them. As, then, in the case of a web or any  other tissue, the warp and the woof cannot be made of the same  materials, but the warp is necessarily superior as being stronger, and  having a certain character of firmness, whereas the woof is softer and  has a proper degree of elasticity; — in a similar manner those who are  to hold great offices in states, should be distinguished truly in each  case from those who have been but slenderly proven by education. Let us  suppose that there are two parts in the constitution of a state — one  the creation of offices, the other the laws which are assigned to them  to administer.


But, before all this, comes the following consideration: The shepherd or  herdsman, or breeder of horses or the like, when he has received his  animals will not begin to train them until he has first purified them in  a manner which befits a community of animals; he will divide the healthy  and unhealthy, and the good breed and the bad breed, and will send away  the unhealthy and badly bred to other herds, and tend the rest,  reflecting that his labours will be vain and have no effect, either on  the souls or bodies of those whom nature and ill nurture have corrupted,  and that they will involve in destruction the pure and healthy nature  and being of every other animal, if he should neglect to purify them.  Now the case of other animals is not so important — they are only worth  introducing for the sake of illustration; but what relates to man is of  the highest importance; and the legislator should make enquiries, and  indicate what is proper for each one in the way of purification and of  any other procedure. Take, for example, the purification of a city —  there are many kinds of purification, some easier and others more  difficult; and some of them, and the best and most difficult of them,  the legislator, if he be also a despot, may be able to effect; but the  legislator, who, not being a despot, sets up a new government and laws,  even if he attempt the mildest of purgations, may think himself happy if  he can complete his work. The best kind of purification is painful, like  similar cures in medicine, involving righteous punishment and inflicting  death or exile in the last resort.


For in this way we commonly dispose of great sinners who are incurable,  and are the greatest injury of the whole state. But the milder form of  purification is as follows: when men who have nothing, and are in want  of food, show a disposition to follow their leaders in an attack on the  property of the rich — these, who are the natural plague of the state,  are sent away by the legislator in a friendly spirit as far as he is  able; and this dismissal of them is euphemistically termed a colony. And  every legislator should contrive to do this at once. Our present case,  however, is peculiar. For there is no need to devise any colony or  purifying separation under the circumstances in which we are placed. But  as, when many streams flow together from many sources, whether springs  or mountain torrents, into a single lake, we ought to attend and take  care that the confluent waters should be perfectly clear, and in order  to effect this, should pump and draw off and divert impurities, so in  every political arrangement there may be trouble and danger. But, seeing  that we are now only discoursing and not acting, let our selection be  supposed to be completed, and the desired purity attained. Touching evil  men, who want to join and be citizens of our state, after we have tested  them by every sort of persuasion and for a sufficient time, we will  prevent them from coming; but the good we will to the utmost of our  ability receive as friends with open arms.


Another piece of good fortune must not be forgotten, which, as we were  saying, the Heraclid colony had, and which is also ours — that we have  escaped division of land and the abolition of debts; for these are  always a source of dangerous contention, and a city which is driven by  necessity to legislate upon such matters can neither allow the old ways  to continue, nor yet venture to alter them.


We must have recourse to prayers, so to speak, and hope that a slight  change may be cautiously effected in a length of time. And such a change  can be accomplished by those who have abundance of land, and having also  many debtors, are willing, in a kindly spirit, to share with those who  are in want, sometimes remitting and sometimes giving, holding fast in a  path of moderation, and deeming poverty to be the increase of a man’s  desires and not the diminution of his property. For this is the great  beginning of salvation to a state, and upon this lasting basis may be  erected afterwards whatever political order is suitable under the  circumstances; but if the change be based upon an unsound principle, the  future administration of the country will be full of difficulties. That  is a danger which, as I am saying, is escaped by us, and yet we had  better say how, if we had not escaped, we might have escaped; and we may  venture now to assert that no other way of escape, whether narrow or  broad, can be devised but freedom from avarice and a sense of justice —  upon this rock our city shall be built; for there ought to be no  disputes among citizens about property. If there are quarrels of long  standing among them, no legislator of any degree of sense will proceed a  step in the arrangement of the state until they are settled. But that  they to whom God has given, as he has to us, to be the founders of a new  state as yet free from enmity — that they should create themselves  enmities by their mode of distributing lands and houses, would be  superhuman folly and wickedness.


How then can we rightly order the distribution of the land? In the first  place, the number of the citizens has to be determined, and also the  number and size of the divisions into which they will have to be formed;  and the land and the houses will then have to be apportioned by us as  fairly as we can. The number of citizens can only be estimated  satisfactorily in relation to the territory and the neighbouring states.  The territory must be sufficient to maintain a certain number of  inhabitants in a moderate way of life — more than this is not required;  and the number of citizens should be sufficient to defend themselves  against the injustice of their neighbours, and also to give them the  power of rendering efficient aid to their neighbours when they are  wronged. After having taken a survey of theirs and their neighbours’  territory, we will determine the limits of them in fact as well as in  theory. And now, let us proceed to legislate with a view to perfecting  the form and outline of our state.


The number of our citizens shall be 5040 — this will be a convenient  number; and these shall be owners of the land and protectors of the  allotment. The houses and the land will be divided in the same way, so  that every man may correspond to a lot. Let the whole number be first  divided into two parts, and then into three; and the number is further  capable of being divided into four or five parts, or any number of parts  up to ten. Every legislator ought to know so much arithmetic as to be  able to tell what number is most likely to be useful to all cities; and  we are going to take that number which contains the greatest and most  regular and unbroken series of divisions. The whole of number has every  possible division, and the number 5040 can be divided by exactly  fifty-nine divisors, and ten of these proceed without interval from one  to ten: this will furnish numbers for war and peace, and for all  contracts and dealings, including taxes and divisions of the land. These  properties of number should be ascertained at leisure by those who are  bound by law to know them; for they are true, and should be proclaimed  at the foundation of the city, with a view to use. Whether the  legislator is establishing a new state or restoring an old and decayed  one, in respect of Gods and temples — the temples which are to be built  in each city, and the Gods or demi-gods after whom they are to be called  — if he be a man of sense, he will make no change in anything which the  oracle of Delphi, or Dodona, or the God Ammon, or any ancient tradition  has sanctioned in whatever manner, whether by apparitions or reputed  inspiration of Heaven, in obedience to which mankind have established  sacrifices in connection with mystic rites, either originating on the  spot, or derived from Tyrrhenia or Cyprus or some other place, and on  the strength of which traditions they have consecrated oracles and  images, and altars and temples, and portioned out a sacred domain for  each of them. The least part of all these ought not to be disturbed by  the legislator; but he should assign to the several districts some God,  or demi-god, or hero, and, in the distribution of the soil, should give  to these first their chosen domain and all things fitting, that the  inhabitants of the several districts may meet at fixed times, and that  they may readily supply their various wants, and entertain one another  with sacrifices, and become friends and acquaintances; for there is no  greater good in a state than that the citizens should be known to one  another. When not light but darkness and ignorance of each other’s  characters prevails among them, no one will receive the honour of which  he is deserving, or the power or the justice to which he is fairly  entitled: wherefore, in every state, above all things, every man should  take heed that he have no deceit in him, but that he be always true and  simple; and that no deceitful person take any advantage of him.


The next move in our pastime of legislation, like the withdrawal of the  stone from the holy line in the game of draughts, being an unusual one,  will probably excite wonder when mentioned for the first time. And yet,  if a man will only reflect and weigh the matter with care, he will see  that our city is ordered in a manner which, if not the best, is the  second best. Perhaps also some one may not approve this form, because he  thinks that such a constitution is ill adapted to a legislator who has  not despotic power. The truth is, that there are three forms of  government, the best, the second and the third best, which we may just  mention, and then leave the selection to the ruler of the settlement.  Following this method in the present instance, let us speak of the  states which are respectively first, second, and third in excellence,  and then we will leave the choice to Cleinias now, or to any one else  who may hereafter have to make a similar choice among constitutions, and  may desire to give to his state some feature which is congenial to him  and which he approves in his own country.


The first and highest form of the state and of the government and of the  law is that in which there prevails most widely the ancient saying, that  “Friends have all things in common.” Whether there is anywhere now, or  will ever be, this communion of women and children and of property, in  which the private and individual is altogether banished from life, and  things which are by nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands,  have become common, and in some way see and hear and act in common, and  all men express praise and blame and feel joy and sorrow on the same  occasions, and whatever laws there are unite the city to the utmost —  whether all this is possible or not, I say that no man, acting upon any  other principle, will ever constitute a state which will be truer or  better or more exalted in virtue. Whether such a state is governed by  Gods or sons of Gods, one, or more than one, happy are the men who,  living after this manner, dwell there; and therefore to this we are to  look for the pattern of the state, and to cling to this, and to seek  with all our might for one which is like this. The state which we have  now in hand, when created, will be nearest to immortality and the only  one which takes the second place; and after that, by the grace of God,  we will complete the third one. And we will begin by speaking of the  nature and origin of the second.


Let the citizens at once distribute their land and houses, and not till  the land in common, since a community of goods goes beyond their  proposed origin, and nurture, and education. But in making the  distribution, let the several possessors feel that their particular lots  also belong to the whole city; and seeing that the earth is their  parent, let them tend her more carefully than children do their mother.  For she is a goddess and their queen, and they are her mortal subjects.  Such also are the feelings which they ought to entertain to the Gods and  demi-gods of the country. And in order that the distribution may always  remain, they ought to consider further that the present number of  families should be always retained, and neither increased nor  diminished. This may be secured for the whole city in the following  manner: Let the possessor of a lot leave the one of his children who is  his best beloved, and one only, to be the heir of his dwelling, and his  successor in the duty of ministering to the Gods, the state and the  family, as well the living members of it as those who are departed when  he comes into the inheritance; but of his other children, if he have  more than one, he shall give the females in marriage according to the  law to be hereafter enacted, and the males he shall distribute as sons  to those citizens who have no children and are disposed to receive them;  or if there should be none such, and particular individuals have too  many children, male or female, or too few, as in the case of barrenness  — in all these cases let the highest and most honourable magistracy  created by us judge and determine what is to be done with the redundant  or deficient, and devise a means that the number of 5040 houses shall  always remain the same. There are many ways of regulating numbers; for  they in whom generation is affluent may be made to refrain, and, on the  other hand, special care may be taken to increase the number of births  by rewards and stigmas, or we may meet the evil by the elder men giving  advice and administering rebuke to the younger — in this way the object  may be attained. And if after all there be very great difficulty about  the equal preservation of the 5040 houses, and there be an excess of  citizens, owing to the too great love of those who live together, and we  are at our wits’ end, there is still the old device often mentioned by  us of sending out a colony, which will part friends with us, and be  composed of suitable persons. If, on the other hand, there come a wave  bearing a deluge of disease, or a plague of war, and the inhabitants  become much fewer than the appointed number by reason of bereavement, we  ought not to introduce citizens of spurious birth and education, if this  can be avoided; but even God is said not to be able to fight against  necessity.


Wherefore let us suppose this “high argument” of ours to address us in  the following terms: Best of men, cease not to honour according to  nature similarity and equality and sameness and agreement, as regards  number and every good and noble quality. And, above all, observe the  aforesaid number 5040 throughout life; in the second place, do not  disparage the small and modest proportions of the inheritances which you  received in the distribution, by buying and selling them to one another.  For then neither will the God who gave you the lot be your friend, nor  will the legislator; and indeed the law declares to the disobedient that  these are the terms upon which he may or may not take the lot. In the  first place, the earth as he is informed is sacred to the Gods; and in  the next place, priests and priestesses will offer up prayers over a  first, and second, and even a third sacrifice, that he who buys or sells  the houses or lands which he has received, may suffer the punishment  which he deserves; and these their prayers they shall write down in the  temples, on tablets of cypress-wood, for the instruction of posterity.  Moreover they will set a watch over all these things, that they may be  observed; — the magistracy which has the sharpest eyes shall keep watch  that any infringement of these commands may be discovered and punished  as offences both against the law and the God. How great is the benefit  of such an ordinance to all those cities, which obey and are  administered accordingly, no bad man can ever know, as the old proverb  says; but only a man of experience and good habits. For in such an order  of things there will not be much opportunity for making money; no man  either ought, or indeed will be allowed, to exercise any ignoble  occupation, of which the vulgarity is a matter of reproach to a freeman,  and should never want to acquire riches by any such means.


Further, the law enjoins that no private man shall be allowed to possess  gold and silver, but only coin for daily use, which is almost necessary  in dealing with artisans, and for payment of hirelings, whether slaves  or immigrants, by all those persons who require the use of them.  Wherefore our citizens, as we say, should have a coin passing current  among themselves, but not accepted among the rest of mankind; with a  view, however, to expeditions and journeys to other lands — for  embassies, or for any other occasion which may arise of sending out a  herald, the state must also possess a common Hellenic currency. If a  private person is ever obliged to go abroad, let him have the consent of  the magistrates and go; and if when he returns he has any foreign money  remaining, let him give the surplus back to the treasury, and receive a  corresponding sum in the local currency. And if he is discovered to  appropriate it, let it be confiscated, and let him who knows and does  not inform be subject to curse and dishonour equally him who brought the  money, and also to a fine not less in amount than the foreign money  which has been brought back. In marrying and giving in marriage, no one  shall give or receive any dowry at all; and no one shall deposit money  with another whom he does not trust as a friend, nor shall he lend money  upon interest; and the borrower should be under no obligation to repay  either capital or interest. That these principles are best, any one may  see who compares them with the first principle and intention of a state.


The intention, as we affirm, of a reasonable statesman, is not what the  many declare to be the object of a good legislator, namely, that the  state for the true interests of which he is advising should be as great  and as rich as possible, and should possess gold and silver, and have  the greatest empire by sea and land; — this they imagine to be the real  object of legislation, at the same time adding, inconsistently, that the  true legislator desires to have the city the best and happiest possible.  But they do not see that some of these things are possible, and some of  them are impossible; and he who orders the state will desire what is  possible, and will not indulge in vain wishes or attempts to accomplish  that which is impossible. The citizen must indeed be happy and good, and  the legislator will seek to make him so; but very rich and very good at  the same time he cannot be, not, at least, in the sense in which the  many speak of riches. For they mean by “the rich” the few who have the  most valuable possessions, although the owner of them may quite well be  a rogue. And if this is true, I can never assent to the doctrine that  the rich man will be happy — he must be good as well as rich.


And good in a high degree, and rich in a high degree at the same time,  he cannot be. Some one will ask, why not? And we shall answer — Because  acquisitions which come from sources which are just and unjust  indifferently, are more than double those which come from just sources  only; and the sums which are expended neither honourably nor  disgracefully, are only half as great as those which are expended  honourably and on honourable purposes. Thus, if the one acquires double  and spends half, the other who is in the opposite case and is a good man  cannot possibly be wealthier than he. The first — I am speaking of the  saver and not of the spender — is not always bad; he may indeed in some  cases be utterly bad, but, as I was saying, a good man he never is. For  he who receives money unjustly as well as justly, and spends neither nor  unjustly, will be a rich man if he be also thrifty. On the other hand,  the utterly bad is in general profligate, and therefore very poor; while  he who spends on noble objects, and acquires wealth by just means only,  can hardly be remarkable for riches, any more than he can be very poor.


Our statement, then, is true, that the very rich are not good, and, if  they are not good, they are not happy. But the intention of our laws was  that the citizens should be as happy as may be, and as friendly as  possible to one another. And men who are always at law with one another,  and amongst whom there are many wrongs done, can never be friends to one  another, but only those among whom crimes and lawsuits are few and  slight. Therefore we say that gold and silver ought not to be allowed in  the city, nor much of the vulgar sort of trade which is carried on by  lending money, or rearing the meaner kinds of live stock; but only the  produce of agriculture, and only so much of this as will not compel us  in pursuing it to neglect that for the sake of which riches exist — I  mean, soul and body, which without gymnastics, and without education,  will never be worth anything; and therefore, as we have said not once  but many times, the care of riches should have the last place in our  thoughts.


For there are in all three things about which every man has an interest;  and the interest about money, when rightly regarded, is the third and  lowest of them: midway comes the interest of the body; and, first of  all, that of the soul; and the state which we are describing will have  been rightly constituted if it ordains honours according to this scale.  But if, in any of the laws which have been ordained, health has been  preferred to temperance, or wealth to health and temperate habits, that  law must clearly be wrong.


Wherefore, also, the legislator ought often to impress upon himself the  question — “What do I want?” and “Do I attain my aim, or do I miss the  mark?” In this way, and in this way only, he ma acquit himself and free  others from the work of legislation.


Let the allottee then hold his lot upon the conditions which we have  mentioned.


It would be well that every man should come to the colony having all  things equal; but seeing that this is not possible, and one man will  have greater possessions than another, for many reasons and in  particular in order to preserve equality in special crises of the state,  qualifications of property must be unequal, in order that offices and  contributions and distributions may be proportioned to the value of each  person’s wealth, and not solely to the virtue of his ancestors or  himself, nor yet to the strength and beauty of his person, but also to  the measure of his wealth or poverty; and so by a law of inequality,  which will be in proportion to his wealth, he will receive honours and  offices as equally as possible, and there will be no quarrels and  disputes. To which end there should be four different standards  appointed according to the amount of property: there should be a first  and a second and a third and a fourth class, in which the citizens will  be placed, and they will be called by these or similar names: they may  continue in the same rank, or pass into another in any individual case,  on becoming richer from being, poorer, or poorer from being richer. The  form of law which I should propose as the natural sequel would be as  follows: In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest  of all plagues — not faction, but rather distraction; — here should  exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty, nor, again, excess of  wealth, for both are productive of both these evils. Now the legislator  should determine what is to be the limit of poverty or wealth.


Let the limit of poverty be the value of the lot; this ought to be  preserved, and no ruler, nor any one else who aspires after a reputation  for virtue, will allow the lot to be impaired in any case. This the  legislator gives as a measure, and he will permit a man to acquire  double or triple, or as much as four times the amount of this.


But if a person have yet greater riches, whether he has found them, or  they have been given to him, or he has made them in business, or has  acquired by any stroke of fortune that which is in excess of the  measure, if he give back the surplus to the state, and to the Gods who  are the patrons of the state, he shall suffer no penalty or loss of  reputation; but if he disobeys this our law any one who likes may inform  against him and receive half the value of the excess, and the delinquent  shall pay a sum equal to the excess out of his own property, and the  other half of the excess shall belong to the Gods. And let every  possession of every man, with the exception of the lot, be publicly  registered before the magistrates whom the law appoints, so that all  suits about money may be easy and quite simple.


The next thing to be noted is, that the city should be placed as nearly  as possible in the centre of the country; we should choose a place which  possesses what is suitable for a city, and this may easily be imagined  and described. Then we will divide the city into twelve portions, first  founding temples to Hestia, to Zeus and to Athene, in a spot which we  will call the Acropolis, and surround with a circular wall, making the  division of the entire city and country radiate from this point. The  twelve portions shall be equalized by the provision that those which are  of good land shall be smaller. while those of inferior quality shall be  larger. The number of the lots shall be 5040, and each of them shall be  divided into two, and every allotment shall be composed of two such  sections; one of land near the city, the other of land which is at a  distance.


This arrangement shall be carried out in the following manner: The  section which is near the city shall be added to that which is on  borders, and form one lot, and the portion which is next nearest shall  be added to the portion which is next farthest; and so of the rest.  Moreover, in the two sections of the lots the same principle of  equalization of the soil ought to be maintained; the badness and  goodness shall be compensated by more and less. And the legislator shall  divide the citizens into twelve parts, and arrange the rest of their  property, as far as possible, so as to form twelve equal parts; and  there shall be a registration of all. After this they shall assign  twelve lots to twelve Gods, and call them by their names, and dedicate  to each God their several portions, and call the tribes after them. And  they shall distribute the twelve divisions of the city in the same way  in which they divided the country; and every man shall have two  habitations, one in the centre of the country, and the other at the  extremity. Enough of the manner of settlement.


Now we ought by all means to consider that there can never be such a  happy concurrence of circumstances as we have described; neither can all  things coincide as they are wanted. Men who will not take offence at  such a mode of living together, and will endure all their life long to  have their property fixed at a moderate limit, and to beget children in  accordance with our ordinances, and will allow themselves to be deprived  of gold and other things which the legislator, as is evident from these  enactments, will certainly forbid them; and will endure, further, the  situation of the land with the city in the middle and dwellings round  about; — all this is as if the legislator were telling his dreams, or  making a city and citizens of wax. There is truth in these objections,  and therefore every one should take to heart what I am going to say.  Once more, then, the legislator shall appear and address us: “O my  friends,” he will say to us, “do not suppose me ignorant that there is a  certain degree of truth in your words; but I am of opinion that, in  matters which are not present but future, he who exhibits a pattern of  that at which he aims, should in nothing fall short of the fairest and  truest; and that if he finds any part of this work impossible of  execution he should avoid and not execute it, but he should contrive to  carry out that which is nearest and most akin to it; you must allow the  legislator to perfect his design, and when it is perfected, you should  join with him in considering what part of his legislation is expedient  and what will arouse opposition; for surely the artist who is to be  deemed worthy of any regard at all, ought always to make his work  self-consistent.” Having determined that there is to be a distribution  into twelve parts, let us now see in what way this may be accomplished.  There is no difficulty in perceiving that the twelve parts admit of the  greatest number of divisions of that which they include, or in seeing  the other numbers which are consequent upon them, and are produced out  of them up to 5040; wherefore the law ought to order phratries and demes  and villages, and also military ranks and movements, as well as coins  and measures, dry and liquid, and weights, so as to be commensurable and  agreeable to one another.


Nor should we fear the appearance of minuteness, if the law commands  that all the vessels which a man possesses should have a common measure,  when we consider generally that the divisions and variations of numbers  have a use in respect of all the variations of which they are  susceptible, both in themselves and as measures of height and depth, and  in all sounds, and in motions, as well those which proceed in a straight  direction, upwards or downwards, as in those which go round and round.  The legislator is to consider all these things and to bid the citizens,  as far as possible, not to lose sight of numerical order; for no single  instrument of youthful education has such mighty power, both as regards  domestic economy and politics, and in the arts, as the study of  arithmetic.


Above all, arithmetic stirs up him who is by nature sleepy and dull, and  makes him quick to learn, retentive, shrewd, and aided by art divine he  makes progress quite beyond his natural powers.


All such things, if only the legislator, by other laws and institutions,  can banish meanness and covetousness from the souls of men, so that they  can use them properly and to their own good, will be excellent and  suitable instruments of education. But if he cannot, he will  unintentionally create in them, instead of wisdom, the habit of craft,  which evil tendency may be observed in the Egyptians and Phoenicians,  and many other races, through the general vulgarity of their pursuits  and acquisitions, whether some unworthy legislator theirs has been the  cause, or some impediment of chance or nature. For we must not fail to  observe, O Megillus and Cleinias, that there is a difference in places,  and that some beget better men and others worse; and we must legislate  accordingly.


Some places are subject to strange and fatal influences by reason of  diverse winds and violent heats, some by reason of waters; or, again,  from the character of the food given by the earth, which not only  affects the bodies of men for good or evil, but produces similar results  in their souls. And in all such qualities those spots excel in which  there is a divine inspiration, and in which the demi-gods have their  appointed lots, and are propitious, not adverse, to the settlers in  them. To all these matters the legislator, if he have any sense in him,  will attend as far as man can, and frame his laws accordingly. And this  is what you, Cleinias, must do, and to matters of this kind you must  turn your mind since you are going to colonize a new country. Cleinias  Your words, Athenian Stranger, are excellent, and I will do as you say.





Athenian Stranger. And now having made an end of the preliminaries we  will proceed to the appointment of magistracies.


Cleinias. Very good.


Ath. In the ordering of a state there are two parts: first, the number  of the magistracies, and the mode of establishing them; and, secondly,  when they have been established, laws again will have to be provided for  each of them, suitable in nature and number. But before electing the  magistrates let us stop a little and say a word in season about the  election of them.


Cle. What have you got to say?


Ath. This is what I have to say; every one can see, that although the  work of legislation is a most important matter, yet if a well-ordered  city superadd to good laws unsuitable offices, not only will there be no  use in having the good laws — not only will they be ridiculous and  useless, but the greatest political injury and evil will accrue from  them.


Cle. Of course.


Ath. Then now, my friend, let us observe what will happen in the  constitution of out intended state. In the first place, you will  acknowledge that those who are duly appointed to magisterial power, and  their families, should severally have given satisfactory proof of what  they are, from youth upward until the time of election; in the next  place, those who are to elect should have been trained in habits of law,  and be well educated, that they may have a right judgment, and may be  able to select or reject men whom they approve or disapprove, as they  are worthy of either. But how can we imagine that those who are brought  together for the first time, and are strangers to one another, and also  uneducated, will avoid making mistakes in the choice of magistrates?


Cle. Impossible.


Ath. The matter is serious, and excuses will not serve the turn. I will  tell you, then, what you and I will have to do, since you, as you tell  me, with nine others, have offered to settle the new state on behalf of  the people of Crete, and I am to help you by the invention of the  present romance. I certainly should not like to leave the tale wandering  all over the world without a head; — a headless monster is such a  hideous thing.


Cle. Excellent, Stranger.


Ath. Yes; and I will be as good as my word.


Cle. Let us by all means do as you propose.


Ath. That we will, by the grace of God, if old age will only permit us.


Cle. But God will be gracious.


Ath. Yes; and under his guidance let us consider further point.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. Let us remember what a courageously mad and daring creation this  our city is.


Cle. What had you in your mind when you said that?


Ath. I had in my mind the free and easy manner in which we are ordaining  that the inexperienced colonists shall receive our laws. Now a man need  not be very wise, Cleinias, in order to see that no one can easily  receive laws at their first imposition. But if we could anyhow wait  until those who have been imbued with them from childhood, and have been  nurtured in them, and become habituated to them, take their part in the  public elections of the state; I say, if this could be accomplished, and  rightly accomplished by any way or contrivance — then, I think that  there would be very little danger, at the end of the time, of a state  thus trained not being permanent.


Cle. A reasonable supposition.


Ath. Then let us consider if we can find any way out of the difficulty;  for I maintain, Cleinias, that the Cnosians, above all the other  Cretans, should not be satisfied with barely discharging their duty to  the colony, but they ought to take the utmost pains to establish the  offices which are first created by them in the best and surest manner.  Above all, this applies to the selection of the guardians of the law,  who must be chosen first of all, and with the greatest care; the others  are of less importance.


Cle. What method can we devise of electing them?


Ath. This will be the method: Sons of the Cretans, I shall say to them,  inasmuch as the Cnosians have precedence over the other states, they  should, in common with those who join this settlement, choose a body of  thirty-seven in all, nineteen of them being taken from the settlers, and  the remainder from the citizens of Cnosus. Of those latter the Cnosians  shall make a present to your colony, and you yourself shall be one of  the eighteen, and shall become a citizen of the new state; and if you  and they cannot be persuaded to go, the Cnosians may fairly use a little  violence in order to make you.


Cle. But why, Stranger, do not you and Megillus take a part in our new  city?


Ath. O, Cleinias, Athens is proud, and Sparta too; and they are both a  long way off. But you and likewise the other colonists are conveniently  situated as you describe. I have been speaking of the way in which the  new citizens may be best managed under present circumstances; but in  after-ages, if the city continues to exist, let the election be on this  wise. All who are horse or foot soldiers, or have seen military service  at the proper ages when they were severally fitted for it, shall share  in the election of magistrates; and the election shall be held in  whatever temple the state deems most venerable, and every one shall  carry his vote to the altar of the God, writing down on a tablet the  name of the person for whom he votes, and his father’s name, and his  tribe, and ward; and at the side he shall write his own name in like  manner. Any one who pleases may take away any tablet which he does not  think properly filled up, and exhibit it in the Agara for a period of  not less than thirty days. The tablets which are judged to be first, to  the number of 300, shall be shown by the magistrates to the whole city,  and the citizens shall in like manner select from these the candidates  whom they prefer; and this second selection, to the number of 100, shall  be again exhibited to the citizens; in the third, let any one who  pleases select whom pleases out of the 100, walking through the parts of  victims, and let them choose for magistrates and proclaim the seven and  thirty who have the greatest number of votes.


But who, Cleinias and Megillus, will order for us in the colony all this  matter of the magistrates, and the scrutinies of them? If we reflect, we  shall see that cities which are in process of construction like ours  must have some such persons, who cannot possibly be elected before there  are any magistrates; and yet they must be elected in some way, and they  are not to be inferior men, but the best possible. For as the proverb  says, “a good beginning is half the business”; and “to have begun well”  is praised by all, and in my opinion is a great deal more than half the  business, and has never been praised by any one enough.


Cle. That is very true.


Ath. Then let us recognize the difficulty, and make clear to our own  minds how the beginning is to be accomplished. There is only one  proposal which I have to offer, and that is one which, under our  circumstances, is both necessary and expedient.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. I maintain that this colony of ours has a father and mother, who  are no other than the colonizing state. Well I know that many colonies  have been, and will be, at enmity with their parents. But in early days  the child, as in a family, loves and is beloved; even if there come a  time later when the tie is broken, still, while he is in want of  education, he naturally loves his parents and is beloved by them, and  flies to his relatives for protection, and finds in them his only  natural allies in time of need; and this parental feeling already exists  in the Cnosians, as is shown by their care of the new city; and there is  a similar feeling on the part of the young city towards Cnosus. And I  repeat what I was saying — for there is no harm in repeating a good  thing — that the Cnosians should take a common interest in all these  matters, and choose, as far as they can, the eldest and best of the  colonists, to the number of not less than a hundred; and let there be  another hundred of the Cnosians themselves.


These, I say, on their arrival, should have a joint care that the  magistrates should be appointed according to law, and that when they are  appointed they should undergo a scrutiny. When this has been effected,  the Cnosians shall return home, and the new city do the best she can for  her own preservation and happiness. I would have the seven-and-thirty  now, and in all future time, chosen to fulfil the following duties: Let  them, in the first place, be the guardians of the law; and, secondly, of  the registers in which each one registers before the magistrate the  amount of his property, excepting four minae which are allowed to  citizens of the first class, three allowed to the second, two to the  third, and a single mina to the fourth. And if any one, despising the  laws for the sake of gain, be found to possess anything more which has  not been registered, let all that he has in excess be confiscated, and  let him be liable to a suit which shall be the reverse of honourable or  fortunate. And let any one who will, indict him on the charge of loving  base gains, and proceed against him before the guardians of the law. And  if he be cast, let him lose his share of the public possessions, and  when there is any public distribution, let him have nothing but his  original lot; and let him be written down a condemned man as long as he  lives, in some place in which any one who pleases can read about his  onces. The guardian of the law shall not hold office longer than twenty  years, and shall not be less than fifty years of age when he is elected;  or if he is elected when he is sixty years of age, he shall hold office  for ten years only; and upon the same principle, he must not imagine  that he will be permitted to hold such an important office as that of  guardian of the laws after he is seventy years of age, if he live so  long.


These are the three first ordinances about the guardians of the law; as  the work of legislation progresses, each law in turn will assign to them  their further duties. And now we may proceed in order to speak of the  election of other officers; for generals have to be elected, and these  again must have their ministers, commanders, and colonels of horse, and  commanders of brigades of foot, who would be more rightly called by  their popular name of brigadiers.


The guardians of the law shall propose as generals men who are natives  of the city, and a selection from the candidates proposed shall be made  by those who are or have been of the age for military service. And if  one who is not proposed is thought by somebody to be better than one who  is, let him name whom he prefers in the place of whom, and make oath  that he is better, and propose him; and whichever of them is approved by  vote shall be admitted to the final selection; and the three who have  the greatest number of votes shall be appointed generals, and  superintendents of military affairs, after previously undergoing a  scrutiny, like the guardians of the law. And let the generals thus  elected propose twelve brigadiers, one for each tribe; and there shall  be a right of counterproposal as in the case of the generals, and the  voting and decision shall take place in the same way. Until the prytanes  and council are elected, the guardians of the law shall convene the  assembly in some holy spot which is suitable to the purpose, placing the  hoplites by themselves, and the cavalry by themselves, and in a third  division all the rest of the army. All are to vote for the generals [and  for the colonels of horse], but the brigadiers are to be voted for only  by those who carry shields [i.e. the hoplites]. Let the body of cavalry  choose phylarchs for the generals; but captains of light troops, or  archers, or any other division of the army, shall be appointed by the  generals for themselves. There only remains the appointment of officers  of cavalry: these shall be proposed by the same persons who proposed the  generals, and the election and the counter-proposal of other candidates  shall be arranged in the same way as in the case of the generals, and  let the cavalry vote and the infantry look on at the election; the two  who have the greatest number of votes shall be the leaders of all the  horse. Disputes about the voting may be raised once or twice; but if the  dispute be raised a third time, the officers who preside at the several  elections shall decide.


The council shall consist of 30 x 12 members — 360 will be a convenient  number for sub-division. If we divide the whole number into four parts  of ninety each, we get ninety counsellors for each class. First, all the  citizens shall select candidates from the first class; they shall be  compelled to vote, and, if they do not, shall be duly fined. When the  candidates have been selected, some one shall mark them down; this shall  be the business of the first day.


And on the following day, candidates shall be selected from the second  class in the same manner and under the same conditions as on the  previous day; and on the third day a selection shall be made from the  third class, at which every one may, if he likes, vote, and the three  first classes shall be compelled to vote; but the fourth and lowest  class shall be under no compulsion, and any member of this class who  does not vote shall not be punished. On the fourth day candidates shall  be selected from the fourth and smallest class; they shall be selected  by all, but he who is of the fourth class shall suffer no penalty, nor  he who is of the third, if he be not willing to vote; but he who is of  the first or second class, if he does not vote shall be punished; — he  who is of the second class shall pay a fine of triple the amount which  was exacted at first, and he who is of the first class quadruple. On the  fifth day the rulers shall bring out the names noted down, for all the  citizens to see, and every man shall choose out of them, under pain, if  he do not, of suffering the first penalty; and when they have chosen out  of each of the classes, they shall choose one-half of them by lot, who  shall undergo a scrutiny: These are to form the council for the year.  The mode of election which has been described is in a mean between  monarchy and democracy, and such a mean the state ought always to  observe; for servants and masters never can be friends, nor good and  bad, merely because they are declared to have equal privileges. For to  unequals equals become unequal, if they are not harmonized by measure;  and both by reason of equality, and by reason of inequality, cities are  filled with seditions. The old saying, that “equality makes friendship,”  is happy and also true; but there is obscurity and confusion as to what  sort of equality is meant. For there are two equalities which are called  by the same name, but are in reality in many ways almost the opposite of  one another; one of them may be introduced without difficulty, by any  state or any legislator in the distribution of honours: this is the rule  of measure, weight, and number, which regulates and apportions them. But  there is another equality, of a better and higher kind, which is not so  easily recognized. This is the judgment of Zeus; among men it avails but  little; that little, however, is the source of the greatest good to  individuals and states. For it gives to the greater more, and to the  inferior less and in proportion to the nature of each; and, above all,  greater honour always to the greater virtue, and to the less less; and  to either in proportion to their respective measure of virtue and  education. And this is justice, and is ever the true principle of  states, at which we ought to aim, and according to this rule order the  new city which is now being founded, and any other city which may be  hereafter founded. To this the legislator should looknot to the  interests of tyrants one or more, or to the power of the people, but to  justice always; which, as I was saying, the distribution of natural  equality among unequals in each case. But there are times at which every  state is compelled to use the words, “just,” “equal,” in a secondary  sense, in the hope of escaping in some degree from factions. For equity  and indulgence are infractions of the perfect and strict rule of  justice. And this is the reason why we are obliged to use the equality  of the lot, in order to avoid the discontent of the people; and so we  invoke God and fortune in our prayers, and beg that they themselves will  direct the lot with a view to supreme justice. And therefore, although  we are compelled to use both equalities, we should use that into which  the element of chance enters as seldom as possible.


Thus, O my friends, and for the reasons given, should a state act which  would endure and be saved. But as a ship sailing on the sea has to be  watched night and day, in like manner a city also is sailing on a sea of  politics, and is liable to all sorts of insidious assaults; and  therefore from morning to night, and from night to morning, rulers must  join hands with rulers, and watchers with watchers, receiving and giving  up their trust in a perpetual succession. Now a multitude can never  fulfil a duty of this sort with anything like energy. Moreover, the  greater number of the senators will have to be left during the greater  part of the year to order their concerns at their own homes. They will  therefore have to be arranged in twelve portions, answering to the  twelve months, and furnish guardians of the state, each portion for a  single month.


Their business is to be at hand and receive any foreigner or citizen who  comes to them, whether to give information, or to put one of those  questions, to which, when asked by other cities, a city should give an  answer, and to which, if she ask them herself, she should receive an  answer; or again, when there is a likelihood of internal commotions,  which are always liable to happen in some form or other, they will, if  they can, prevent their occurring; or if they have already occurred,  will lose time in making them known to the city, and healing the evil.  Wherefore, also, this which is the presiding body of the state ought  always to have the control of their assemblies, and of the dissolutions  of them, ordinary as well as extraordinary. All this is to be ordered by  the twelfth part of the council, which is always to keep watch together  with the other officers of the state during one portion of the year, and  to rest during the remaining eleven portions.


Thus will the city be fairly ordered. And now, who is to have, the  superintendence of the country, and what shall be the arrangement?  Seeing that the whole city and the entire country have been both of them  divided into twelve portions, ought there not to be appointed  superintendents of the streets of the city, and of the houses, and  buildings, and harbours, and the agora, and fountains, and sacred  domains, and temples, and the like?


Cle. To be sure there ought.


Ath. Let us assume, then, that there ought to be servants of the  temples, and priests and priestesses. There must also be superintendents  of roads and buddings, who will have a care of men, that they may do no  harm, and also of beasts, both within the enclosure and in the suburbs.  Three kinds of officers will thus have to be appointed, in order that  the city may be suitably provided according to her needs. Those who have  the care of the city shall be called wardens of the city; and those who  have the care of the agora shall be called wardens of the agora; and  those who have the care of the temples shall be called priests. Those  who hold hereditary offices as priests or priestesses, shall not be  disturbed; but if there be few or none such, as is probable at the  foundation of a new city, priests and priestesses shall be appointed to  be servants of the Gods who have no servants. Some of our officers shall  be elected, and others appointed by lot, those who are of the people and  those who are not of the people mingling in a friendly manner in every  place and city, that the state may be as far as possible of one mind.  The officers of the temples shall be appointed by lot; in this way their  election will be committed to God, that he may do what is agreeable to  him. And he who obtains a lot shall undergo a scrutiny, first, as to  whether he is sound of body and of legitimate birth; and in the second  place, in order to show that he is of a perfectly pure family, not  stained with homicide or any similar impiety in his own person, and also  that his father and mother have led a similar unstained life. Now the  laws about all divine things should be brought from Delphi, and  interpreters appointed, under whose direction they should be used. The  tenure of the priesthood should always be for a year and no longer; and  he who will duly execute the sacred office, according to the laws of  religion, must be not less than sixty years of age — the laws shall be  the same about priestesses. As for the interpreters, they shall be  appointed thus: Let the twelve tribes be distributed into groups of  four, and let each group select four, one out of each tribe within the  group, three times; and let the three who have the greatest number of  votes [out of the twelve appointed by each group], after undergoing a  scrutiny, nine in all, be sent to Delphi, in order that the God may  return one out of each triad; their age shall be the same as that of the  priests, and the scrutiny of them shall be conducted in the same manner;  let them be interpreters for life, and when any one dies let the four  tribes select another from the tribe of the deceased. Moreover, besides  priests and interpreters, there must be treasurers, who will take charge  of the property of the several temples, and of the sacred domains, and  shall have authority over the produce and the letting of them; and three  of them shall be chosen from the highest classes for the greater  temples, and two for the lesser, and one for the least of all; the  manner of their election and the scrutiny of them shall be the same as  that of the generals. This shall be the order of the temples.


Let everything have a guard as far as possible. Let the defence of the  city be commited to the generals, and taxiarchs, and hipparchs, and  phylarchs, and prytanes, and the wardens of the city, and of the agora,  when the election of them has been completed. The defence of the country  shall be provided for as follows: The entire land has been already  distributed into twelve as nearly as possible equal parts, and let the  tribe allotted to a division provide annually for it five wardens of the  country and commanders of the watch; and let each body of five have the  power of selecting twelve others out of the youth of their own tribe —  these shall be not less than twenty-five years of age, and not more than  thirty. And let there be allotted to them severally every month the  various districts, in order that they may all acquire knowledge and  experience of the whole country. The term of service for commanders and  for watchers shall continue during two years. After having had their  stations allotted to them, they will go from place to place in regular  order, making their round from left to right as their commanders direct  them; (when I speak of going to the right, I mean that they are to go to  the east). And at the commencement of the second year, in order that as  many as possible of the guards may not only get a knowledge of the  country at any one season of the year, but may also have experience of  the manner in which different places are affected at different seasons  of the year, their then commanders shall lead them again towards the  left, from place to place in succession, until they have completed the  second year. In the third year other wardens of the country shall be  chosen and commanders of the watch, five for each division, who are to  be the superintendents of the bands of twelve. While on service at each  station, their attention shall be directed to the following points: In  the first place, they shall see that the country is well protected  against enemies; they shall trench and dig wherever this is required,  and, as far as they can, they shall by fortifications keep off the  evil-disposed, in order to prevent them from doing any harm to the  country or the property; they shall use the beasts of burden and the  labourers whom they find on the spot: these will be their instruments  whom they will superintend, taking them, as far as possible, at the  times when they are not engaged in their regular business.


They shall make every part of the country inaccessible to enemies, and  as accessible as possible to friends; there shall be ways for man and  beasts of burden and for cattle, and they shall take care to have them  always as smooth as they can; and shall provide against the rains doing  harm instead of good to the land, when they come down from the mountains  into the hollow dells; and shall keep in the overflow by the help of  works and ditches, in order that the valleys, receiving and drinking up  the rain from heaven, and providing fountains and streams in the fields  and regions which lie underneath, may furnish even to the dry places  plenty of good water. The fountains of water, whether of rivers or of  springs, shall be ornamented with plantations and buildings for beauty;  and let them bring together the streams in subterraneous channels, and  make all things plenteous; and if there be a sacred grove or dedicated  precinct in the neighbourhood, they shall conduct the water to the  actual temples of the Gods, and so beautify them at all seasons of the  year. Everywhere in such places the youth shall make gymnasia for  themselves, and warm baths for the aged, placing by them abundance of  dry wood, for the benefit of those labouring under disease — there the  weary frame of the rustic, worn with toil, will receive a kindly  welcome, far better than he would at the hands of a not over-wise  doctor.


The building of these and the like works will be useful and ornamental;  they will provide a pleasing amusement, but they will be a serious  employment too; for the sixty wardens will have to guard their several  divisions, not only with a view to enemies, but also with an eye to  professing friends. When a quarrel arises among neighbours or citizens,  and any one, whether slave or freeman wrongs another, let the five  wardens decide small matters on their own authority; but where the  charge against another relates to greater matters, the seventeen  composed of the fives and twelves, shall determine any charges which one  man brings against another, not involving more than three minae. Every  judge and magistrate shall be liable to give an account of his conduct  in office, except those who, like kings, have the final decision.  Moreover, as regards the aforesaid wardens of the country, if they do  any wrong to those of whom they have the care, whether by imposing upon  them unequal tasks, or by taking the produce of the soil or implements  of husbandry without their consent; also if they receive anything in the  way of a bribe, or decide suits unjustly, or if they yield to the  influences of flattery, let them be publicly dishonoured; and in regard  to any other wrong which they do to the inhabitants of the country, if  the question be of a mina, let them submit to the decision of the  villagers in the neighbourhood; but in suits of greater amount, or in  case of lesser, if they refuse to submit, trusting that their monthly  removal into another part of the country will enable them to escape — in  such cases the injured party may bring his suit in the common court, and  if he obtain a verdict he may exact from the defendant, who refused to  submit, a double penalty.


The wardens and the overseers of the country, while on their two years  service, shall have common meals at their several stations, and shall  all live together; and he who is absent from the common meal, or sleeps  out, if only for one day or night, unless by order of his commanders, or  by reason of absolute necessity, if the five denounce him and inscribe  his name the agora as not having kept his guard, let him be deemed to  have betrayed the city, as far as lay in his power, and let him be  disgraced and beaten with impunity by any one who meets him and is  willing to punish him. If any of the commanders is guilty of such an  irregularity, the whole company of sixty shall see to it, and he who is  cognizant of the offence, and does not bring the offender to trial,  shall be amenable to the same laws as the younger offender himself, and  shall pay a heavier fine, and be incapable of ever commanding the young.  The guardians of the law are to be careful inspectors of these matters,  and shall either prevent or punish offenders. Every man should remember  the universal rule, that he who is not a good servant will not be a good  master; a man should pride himself more upon serving well than upon  commanding well: first upon serving the laws, which is also the service  of the Gods; in the second place, upon having. served ancient and  honourable men in the days of his youth. Furthermore, during the two  years in which any one is a warden of the country, his daily food ought  to be of a simple and humble kind.


When the twelve have been chosen, let them and the five meet together,  and determine that they will be their own servants, and, like servants,  will not have other slaves and servants for their own use, neither will  they use those of the villagers and husbandmen for their private  advantage, but for the public service only; and in general they should  make up their minds to live independently by themselves, servants of  each other and of themselves. Further, at all seasons of the year,  summer and winter alike, let them be under arms and survey minutely the  whole country; thus they will at once keep guard, and at the same time  acquire a perfect knowledge of every locality. There can be no more  important kind of information than the exact knowledge of a man’s own  country; and for this as well as for more general reasons of pleasure  and advantage, hunting with dogs and other kinds of sports should be  pursued by the young. The service to whom this is committed may be  called the secret police, or wardens of the country; the name does not  much signify, but every one who has the safety of the state at heart  will use his utmost diligence in this service.


After the wardens of the country, we have to speak of the election of  wardens of the agora and of the city. The wardens of the country were  sixty in number, and the wardens of the city will be three, and will  divide the twelve parts of the city into three; like the former, they  shall have care of the ways, and of the different high roads which lead  out of the country into the city, and of the buildings, that they may be  all made according to law; — also of the waters, which the guardians of  the supply preserve and convey to them, care being taken that they may  reach the fountains pure and abundant, and be both an ornament and a  benefit to the city. These also should be men of influence, and at  leisure to take care of the public interest. Let every man propose as  warden of the city any one whom he likes out of the highest class, and  when the vote has been given on them, and the number is reduced to the  six who have the greatest number of votes, let the electing officers  choose by lot three out of the six, and when they have undergone a  scrutiny let them hold office according to the laws laid down for them.


Next, let the wardens of the agora be elected in like manner, out of the  first and second class, five in number: ten are to be first elected, and  out of the ten five are to be chosen by lot, as in the election of the  wardens of the city: these when they have undergone a scrutiny are to be  declared magistrates. Every one shall vote for every one, and he who  will not vote, if he be informed against before the magistrates, shall  be fined fifty drachmae, and shall also be deemed a bad citizen. Let any  one who likes go to the assembly and to the general council; it shall be  compulsory to go on citizens of the first and second class, and they  shall pay a fine of ten drachmae if they be found not answering to their  names at the assembly. the third and fourth class shall be under no  compulsion, and shall be let off without a fine, unless the magistrates  have commanded all to be present, in consequence of some urgent  necessity. The wardens of the agora shall observe the order appointed by  law for the agora, and shall have the charge of the temples and  fountains which are in the agora; and they shall see that no one injures  anything, and punish him who does, with stripes and bonds, if he be a  slave or stranger; but if he be a citizen who misbehaves in this way,  they shall have the power themselves of inflicting a fine upon him to  the amount of a hundred drachmae, or with the consent of the wardens of  the city up to double that amount. And let the wardens of the city have  a similar power of imposing punishments and fines in their own  department; and let them impose fines by their own department; and let  them impose fines by their own authority, up to a mina, or up to two  minae with the consent of the wardens of the agora.


In the next place, it will be proper to appoint directors of music and  gymnastic, two kinds of each — of the one kind the business will be  education, of the other, the superintendence of contests. In speaking of  education, the law means to speak of those who have the care of order  and instruction in gymnasia and schools, and of the going to school, and  of school buildings for boys and girls; and in speaking of contests, the  law refers to the judges of gymnastics and of music; these again are  divided into two classes, the one having to do with music, the other  with gymnastics; and the same who judge of the gymnastic contests of  men, shall judge of horses; but in music there shall be one set of  judges of solo singing, and of imitation — I mean of rhapsodists,  players on the harp, the flute and the like, and another who shall judge  of choral song.


First of all, we must choose directors for the choruses of boys, and  men, and maidens, whom they shall follow in the amusement of the dance,  and for our other musical arrangements; — one director will be enough  for the choruses, and he should be not less than forty years of age. One  director will also be enough to introduce the solo singers, and to give  judgment on the competitors, and he ought not to be less than thirty  years of age. The director and manager of the choruses shall be elected  after the following manner: Let any persons who commonly take an  interest in such matters go to the meeting, and be fined if they do not  go (the guardians of the law shall judge of their fault), but those who  have no interest shall not be compelled. The elector shall propose as  director some one who understands music, and he in the scrutiny may be  challenged on the one part by those who say he has no skill, and  defended on the other hand by those who say that he has. Ten are to be  elected by vote, and he of the ten who is chosen by lot shall undergo a  scrutiny, and lead the choruses for a year according to law. And in like  manner the competitor who wins the lot shall be leader of the solo and  concert music for that year; and he who is thus elected shall deliver  the award to the judges. In the next place, we have to choose judges in  the contests of horses and of men; these shall be selected from the  third and also from the second class of citizens, and three first  classes shall be compelled to go to the election, but the lowest may  stay away with impunity; and let there be three elected by lot out of  the twenty who have been chosen previously, and they must also have the  vote and approval of the examiners.


But if any one is rejected in the scrutiny at any ballot or decision,  others shall be chosen in the same manner, and undergo a similar  scrutiny.


There remains the minister of the education of youth, male and female;  he too will rule according to law; one such minister will be sufficient,  and he must be fifty years old, and have children lawfully begotten,  both boys and girls by preference, at any rate, one or the other. He who  is elected, and he who is the elector, should consider that of all the  great offices of state, this is the greatest; for the first shoot of any  plant, if it makes a good start towards the attainment of its natural  excellence, has the greatest effect on its maturity; and this is not  only true of plants, but of animals wild and tame, and also of men. Man,  as we say, is a tame or civilized animal; nevertheless, he requires  proper instruction and a fortunate nature, and then of all animals he  becomes the most divine and most civilized; but if he be insufficiently  or ill educated he is the most savage of earthly creatures. Wherefore  the legislator ought not to allow the education of children to become a  secondary or accidental matter. In the first place, he who would be  rightly provident about them, should begin by taking care that he is  elected, who of all the citizens is in every way best; him the  legislator shall do his utmost to appoint guardian and superintendent.  To this end all the magistrates, with the exception of the council and  prytanes, shall go to the temple of Apollo, and elect by ballot him of  the guardians of the law whom they severally think will be the best  superintendent of education. And he who has the greatest number of  votes, after he has undergone a scrutiny at the hands of all the  magistrates who have been his electors, with the exception of the  guardians of the law — shall hold office for five years; and in the  sixth year let another be chosen in like manner to fill his office.


If any one dies while he is holding a public office, and more than  thirty days before his term of office expires, let those whose business  it is elect another to the office in the same manner as before.


And if any one who is entrusted with orphans dies, let the relations  both on the father’s and mother’s side, who are residing at home,  including cousins, appoint another guardian within ten days, or be fined  a drachma a day for neglect to do so.


A city which has no regular courts of law ceases to be a city; and  again, if a judge is silent and says no more in preliminary proceedings  than the litigants, as is the case in arbitrations, he will never be  able to decide justly; wherefore a multitude of judges will not easily  judge well, nor a few if they are bad. The point in dispute between the  parties should be made clear; and time, and deliberation, and repeated  examination, greatly tend to clear up doubts. For this reason, he who  goes to law with another should go first of all to his neighbours and  friends who know best the questions at issue.


And if he be unable to obtain from them a satisfactory decision, let him  have recourse to another court; and if the two courts cannot settle the  matter, let a third put an end to the suit.


Now the establishment of courts of justice may be regarded as a choice  of magistrates, for every magistrate must also be a judge of some  things; and the judge, though he be not a magistrate, yet in certain  respects is a very important magistrate on the day on which he is  determining a suit. Regarding then the judges also as magistrates, let  us say who are fit to be judges, and of what they are to be judges, and  how many of them are to judge in each suit. Let that be the supreme  tribunal which the litigants appoint in common for themselves, choosing  certain persons by agreement. And let there be two other tribunals: one  for private causes, when a citizen accuses another of wronging him and  wishes to get a decision; the other for public causes, in which some  citizen is of opinion that the public has been wronged by an individual,  and is willing to vindicate the common interests. And we must not forget  to mention how the judges are to be qualified, and who they are to be.  In the first place, let there be a tribunal open to all private persons  who are trying causes one against another for the third time, and let  this be composed as follows: All the officers of state, as well annual  as those holding office for a longer period, when the new year is about  to commence, in the month following after the summer solstice, on the  last day but one of the year, shall meet in some temple, and calling God  to witness, shall dedicate one judge from every magistracy to be their  firstfruits, choosing in each office him who seems to them to be the  best, and whom they deem likely to decide the causes of his  fellowcitizens during the ensuing year in the best and holiest manner.


And when the election is completed, a scrutiny shall be held in the  presence of the electors themselves, and if any one be rejected another  shall be chosen in the same manner. Those who have undergone the  scrutiny shall judge the causes of those who have declined the inferior  courts, and shall give their vote openly. The councillors and other  magistrates who have elected them shall be required to be hearers and  spectators of the causes; and any one else may be present who pleases.  If one man charges another with having intentionally decided wrong, let  him go to the guardians of the law and lay his accusation before them,  and he who is found guilty in such a case shall pay damages to the  injured party equal to half the injury; but if he shall appear to  deserve a greater penalty, the judges shall determine what additional  punishment he shall suffer, and how much more he ought to pay to the  public treasury, and to the party who brought the suit.


In the judgment of offences against the state, the people ought to  participate, for when any one wrongs the state all are wronged, and may  reasonably complain if they are not allowed to share in the decision.  Such causes ought to originate with the people, and the ought also to  have the final decision of them, but the trial of them shall take place  before three of the highest magistrates, upon whom the plaintiff and the  defendant shall agree; and if they are not able to come to an agreement  themselves, the council shall choose one of the two proposed. And in  private suits, too, as far as is possible, all should have a share; for  he who has no share in the administration of justice, is apt to imagine  that he has no share in the state at all. And for this reason there  shall be a court of law in every tribe, and the judges shall be chosen  by lot; — they shall give their decisions at once, and shall be  inaccessible to entreaties. The final judgment shall rest with that  court which, as we maintain, has been established in the most  incorruptible form of which human things admit: this shall be the court  established for those who are unable to get rid of their suits either in  the courts of neighbours or of the tribes.


Thus much of the courts of law, which, as I was saying, cannot be  precisely defined either as being or not being offices; a superficial  sketch has been given of them, in which some things have been told and  others omitted. For the right place of an exact statement of the laws  respecting suits, under their several heads, will be at the end of the  body of legislation; — let us then expect them at the end. Hitherto our  legislation has been chiefly occupied with the appointment of offices.  Perfect unity and exactness, extending to the whole and every particular  of political administration, cannot be attained to the full, until the  discussion shall have a beginning, middle, and end, and is complete in  every part. At present we have reached the election of magistrates, and  this may be regarded as a sufficient termination of what preceded. And  now there need no longer be any delay or hesitation in beginning the  work of legislation.


Cle. I like what you have said, Stranger — and I particularly like your  manner of tacking on the beginning of your new discourse to the end of  the former one.


Ath. Thus far, then, the old men’s rational pastime has gone off well.


Cle. You mean, I suppose, their serious and noble pursuit?


Ath. Perhaps; but I should like to know whether you and I are agreed  about a certain thing.


Cle. About what thing?


Ath. You know. the endless labour which painters expend upon their  pictures — they are always putting in or taking out colours, or whatever  be the term which artists employ; they seem as if they would never cease  touching up their works, which are always being made brighter and more  beautiful.


Cle. I know something of these matters from report, although I have  never had any great acquaintance with the art.


Ath. No matter; we may make use of the illustration notwithstanding:  Suppose that some one had a mind to paint a figure in the most beautiful  manner, in the hope that his work instead of losing would always improve  as time went on — do you not see that being a mortal, unless he leaves  some one to succeed him who will correct the flaws which time may  introduce, and be able to add what is left imperfect through the defect  of the artist, and who will further brighten up and improve the picture,  all his great labour will last but a short time?


Cle. True.


Ath. And is not the aim of the legislator similar? First, he desires  that his laws should be written down with all possible exactness; in the  second place, as time goes on and he has made an actual trial of his  decrees, will he not find omissions? Do you imagine that there ever was  a legislator so foolish as not to know that many things are necessarily  omitted, which some one coming after him must correct, if the  constitution and the order of government is not to deteriorate, but to  improve in the state which he has established?


Cle. Assuredly, that is the sort of thing which every one would desire.


Ath. And if any one possesses any means of accomplishing this by word or  deed, or has any way great or small by which he can teach a person to  understand how he can maintain and amend the laws, he should finish what  he has to say, and not leave the work incomplete.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. And is not this what you and I have to do at the present moment?


Cle. What have we to do?


Ath. As we are about to legislate and have chosen our guardians of the  law, and are ourselves in the evening of life, and they as compared with  us are young men, we ought not only to legislate for them, but to  endeavour to make them not only guardians of the law but legislators  themselves, as far as this is possible.


Cle. Certainly; if we can.


Ath. At any rate, we must do our best.


Cle. Of course.


Ath. We will say to them — O friends and saviours of our laws, in laying  down any law, there are many particulars which we shall omit, and this  cannot be helped; at the same time, we will do our utmost to describe  what is important, and will give an outline which you shall fill up. And  I will explain on what principle you are to act.


Megillus and Cleinias and I have often spoken to one another touching  these matters, and we are of opinion that we have spoken well. And we  hope that you will be of the same mind with us, and become our  disciples, and keep in view the things which in our united opinion the  legislator and guardian of the law ought to keep in view. There was one  main point about which we were agreedthat a man’s whole energies  throughout life should be devoted to the acquisition of the virtue  proper to a man, whether this was to be gained by study, or habit, or  some mode of acquisition, or desire, or opinion, or knowledge — and this  applies equally to men and women, old and young — the aim of all should  always be such as I have described; anything which may be an impediment,  the good man ought to show that he utterly disregards. And if at last  necessity plainly compels him to be an outlaw from his native land,  rather than bow his neck to the yoke of slavery and be ruled by  inferiors, and he has to fly, an exile he must be and endure all such  trials, rather than accept another form of government, which is likely  to make men worse. These are our original principles; and do you now,  fixing your eyes upon the standard of what a man and a citizen ought or  ought not to be, praise and blame the laws — blame those which have not  this power of making the citizen better, but embrace those which have;  and with gladness receive and live in them; bidding a long farewell to  other institutions which aim at goods, as they are termed, of a  different kind.


Let us proceed to another class of laws, beginning with their foundation  in religion. And we must first return to the number 5040 — the entire  number had, and has, a great many convenient divisions, and the number  of the tribes which was a twelfth part of the whole, being correctly  formed by 21 X 20 [5040/(21 X 20), i.e., 5040/420=12], also has them.  And not only is the whole number divisible by twelve, but also the  number of each tribe is divisible by twelve. Now every portion should be  regarded by us as a sacred gift of Heaven, corresponding to the months  and to the revolution of the universe. Every city has a guiding and  sacred principle given by nature, but in some the division or  distribution has been more right than in others, and has been more  sacred and fortunate.


In our opinion, nothing can be more right than the selection of the  number 5040, which may be divided by all numbers from one to twelve with  the single exception of eleven, and that admits of a very easy  correction; for if, turning to the dividend (5040), we deduct two  families, the defect in the division is cured. And the truth of this may  be easily proved when we have leisure. But for the present, trusting to  the mere assertion of this principle, let us divide the state; and  assigning to each portion some God or son of a God, let us give them  altars and sacred rites, and at the altars let us hold assemblies for  sacrifice twice in the month — twelve assemblies for the tribes, and  twelve for the city, according to their divisions; the first in honour  of the Gods and divine things, and the second to promote friendship and  “better acquaintance,” as the phrase is, and every sort of good  fellowship with one another. For people must be acquainted with those  into whose families and whom they marry and with those to whom they give  in marriage; in such matters, as far as possible, a man should deem it  all important to avoid a mistake, and with this serious purpose let  games be instituted in which youths and maidens shall dance together,  seeing one another and being seen naked, at a proper age, and on a  suitable occasion, not transgressing the rules of modesty.


The directors of choruses will be the superintendents and regulators of  these games, and they, together with the guardians of the law, will  legislate in any matters which we have omitted; for, as we said, where  there are numerous and minute details, the legislator must leave out  something. And the annual officers who have experience, and know what is  wanted, must make arrangements and improvements year by year, until such  enactments and provisions are sufficiently determined. A ten years  experience of sacrifices and dances, if extending to all particulars,  will be quite sufficient; and if the legislator be alive they shall  communicate with him, but if he be dead then the several officers shall  refer the omissions which come under their notice to the guardians of  the law, and correct them, until all is perfect; and from that time  there shall be no more change, and they shall establish and use the new  laws with the others which the legislator originally gave them, and of  which they are never, if they can help, to change aught; or, if some  necessity overtakes them, the magistrates must be called into counsel,  and the whole people, and they must go to all the oracles of the Gods;  and if they are all agreed, in that case they may make the change, but  if they are not agreed, by no manner of means, and any one who dissents  shall prevail, as the law ordains.


Whenever any one over twenty-five years of age, having seen and been  seen by others, believes himself to have found a marriage connection  which is to his mind, and suitable for the procreation of children, let  him marry if he be still under the age of five-and-thirty years; but let  him first hear how he ought to seek after what is suitable and  appropriate. For, as Cleinias says, every law should have a suitable  prelude.


Cle. You recollect at the right moment, Stranger, and do not miss the  opportunity which the argument affords of saying a word in season.


Ath. I thank you. We will say to him who is born of good parents — O my  son, you ought to make such a marriage as wise men would approve. Now  they would advise you neither to avoid a poor marriage, nor specially to  desire a rich one; but if other things are equal, always to honour  inferiors, and with them to form connections; — this will be for the  benefit of the city and of the families which are united; for the  equable and symmetrical tends infinitely more to virtue than the  unmixed. And he who is conscious of being too headstrong, and carried  away more than is fitting in all his actions, ought to desire to become  the relation of orderly parents; and he who is of the opposite temper  ought to seek the opposite alliance. Let there be one word concerning  all marriages: Every man shall follow, not after the marriage which is  most pleasing to himself, but after that which is most beneficial to the  state.


For somehow every one is by nature prone to that which is likest to  himself, and in this way the whole city becomes unequal in property and  in disposition; and hence there arise in most states the very results  which we least desire to happen. Now, to add to the law an express  provision, not only that the rich man shall not marry into the rich  family, nor the powerful into the family of the powerful, but that the  slower natures shall be compelled to enter into marriage with the  quicker, and the quicker with the slower, may awaken anger as well as  laughter in the minds of many; for there is a difficulty in perceiving  that the city ought to be well mingled like a cup, in which the  maddening wine is hot and fiery, but when chastened by a soberer God,  receives a fair associate and becomes an excellent and temperate drink.  Yet in marriage no one is able to see that the same result occurs.  Wherefore also the law must let alone such matters, but we should try to  charm the spirits of men into believing the equability of their  children’s disposition to be of more importance than equality in  excessive fortune when they marry; and him who is too desirous of making  a rich marriage we should endeavour to turn aside by reproaches, not,  however, by any compulsion of written law.


Let this then be our exhortation concerning marriage, and let us  remember what was said before — that a man should cling to immortality,  and leave behind him children’s children to be the servants of God in  his place for ever. All this and much more may be truly said by way of  prelude about the duty of marriage. But if a man will not listen and  remains unsocial and alien among his fellowcitizens, and is still  unmarried at thirty-five years of age, let him pay a yearly fine; — he  who of the highest class shall pay a fine of a hundred drachmae, and he  who is of the second dass a fine of seventy drachmae; the third class  shall pay sixty drachmae, and the fourth thirty drachmae, and let the  money be sacred to Here; he who does not pay the fine annually shall owe  ten times the sum, which the treasurer of the goddess shall exact; and  if he fails in doing so, let him be answerable and give an account of  the. money at his audit. He who refuses to marry shall be thus punished  in money, and also be deprived of all honour which the younger show to  the elder; let no young man voluntarily obey him, and if he attempt to  punish any one, let every one come to the rescue and defend the injured  person, and he who is present and does not come to the rescue, shall be  pronounced by the law to be a coward and a bad citizen. Of the marriage  portion I have already spoken; and again I say for the instruction of  poor men that he who neither gives nor receives a dowry on account of  poverty, has a compensation; for the citizens of our state are provided  with the necessaries of life, and wives will be less likely to be  insolent, and husbands to be mean and subservient to them on account of  property. And he who obeys this law will do a noble action; but he who  will not obey, and gives or receives more than fifty drachmae as the  price of the marriage garments if he be of the lowest, or more than a  mina, or a mina and-a-half, if he be of the third or second classes, or  two minae if he be of the highest class, shall owe to the public  treasury a similar sum, and that which is given or received shall be  sacred to Here and Zeus; and let the treasurers of these Gods exact the  money, as was said before about the unmarried — that the treasurers of  Here were to exact the money, or pay the fine themselves.


The betrothal by a father shall be valid in the first degree, that by a  grandfather in the second degree, and in the third degree, betrothal by  brothers who have the same father; but if there are none of these alive,  the betrothal by a mother shall be valid in like manner; in cases of  unexampled fatality, the next of kin and the guardians shall have  authority. What are to be the rites before marriages, or any other  sacred acts, relating either to future, present, or past marriages,  shall be referred to the interpreters; and he who follows their advice  may be satisfied. Touching the marriage festival, they shall assemble  not more than five male and five female friends of both families; and a  like number of members of the family of either sex, and no man shall  spend more than his means will allow; he who is of the richest class may  spend a mina — he who is of the second, half a mina, and in the same  proportion as the census of each decreases: all men shall praise him who  is obedient to the law; but he who is disobedient shall be punished by  the guardians of the law as a man wanting in true taste, and  uninstructed in the laws of bridal song. Drunkenness is always improper,  except at the festivals of the God who gave wine; and peculiarly  dangerous, when a man is engaged in the business of marriage; at such a  crisis of their lives a bride and bridegroom ought to have all their  wits about them — they ought to take care that their offspring may be  born of reasonable beings; for on what day or night Heaven will give  them increase, who can say? Moreover, they ought not to begetting  children when their bodies are dissipated by intoxication, but their  offspring should be compact and solid, quiet and compounded properly;  whereas the drunkard is all abroad in all his actions, and beside  himself both in body and soul.


Wherefore, also, the drunken man is bad and unsteady in sowing the seed  of increase, and is likely to beget offspring who will be unstable and  untrustworthy, and cannot be expected to walk straight either in body or  mind. Hence during the whole year and all his life long, and especially  while he is begetting children, ought to take care and not intentionally  do what is injurious to health, or what involves insolence and wrong;  for he cannot help leaving the impression of himself on the souls and  bodies of his offspring, and he begets children in every way inferior.  And especially on the day and night of marriage should a man abstain  from such things. For the beginning, which is also a God dwelling in  man, preserves all things, if it meet with proper respect from each  individual. He who marries is further to consider that one of the two  houses in the lot is the nest and nursery of his young, and there he is  to marry and make a home for himself and bring up his children, going  away from his father and mother. For in friendships there must be some  degree of desire, in order to cement and bind together diversities of  character; but excessive intercourse not having the desire which is  created by time, insensibly dissolves friendships from a feeling of  satiety; wherefore a man and his wife shall leave to his and her father  and mother their own dwellingplaces, and themselves go as to a colony  and dwell there, and visit and be visited by their parents; and they  shall beget and bring up children, handing on the torch of life from one  generation to another, and worshipping the Gods according to law for  ever.


In the next place, we have to consider what sort of property will be  most convenient. There is no difficulty either in understanding or  acquiring most kinds of property, but there is great difficulty in what  relates to slaves. And the reason is that we speak about them in a way  which is right and which is not right; for what we say about our slaves  is consistent and also inconsistent with our practice about them.


Megillus. I do not understand, Stranger, what you mean.


Ath. I am not surprised, Megillus, for the state of the Helots among the  Lacedaemonians is of all Hellenic forms of slavery the most controverted  and disputed about, some approving and some condemning it; there is less  dispute about the slavery which exists among the Heracleots, who have  subjugated the Mariandynians, and about the Thessalian Penestae. Looking  at these and the like examples, what ought we to do concerning property  in slaves? I made a remark, in passing, which naturally elicited a  question about my meaning from you. It was this: We know that all would  agree that we should have the best and most attached slaves whom we can  get. For many a man has found his slaves better in every way than  brethren or sons, and many times they have saved the lives and property  of their masters and their whole house — such tales are well known.


Meg. To be sure.


Ath. But may we not also say that the soul of the slave is utterly  corrupt, and that no man of sense ought to trust them? And the wisest of  our poets, speaking of Zeus, says: Far-seeing Zeus takes away half the  understanding of men whom the day of slavery subdues. Different persons  have got these two different notions of slaves in their minds — some of  them utterly distrust their servants, and, as if they were wild beasts,  chastise them with goads and whips, and make their souls three times, or  rather many times, as slavish as they were before; — and others do just  the opposite.


Meg. True.


Cle. Then what are we to do in our own country, Stranger, seeing that  there are, such differences in the treatment of slaves by their owners?


Ath. Well, Cleinias, there can be no doubt that man is a troublesome  animal, and therefore he is not very manageable, nor likely to become  so, when you attempt to introduce the necessary division, slave, and  freeman, and master.


Cle. That is obvious.


Ath. He is a troublesome piece of goods, as has been often shown by the  frequent revolts of the Messenians, and the great mischiefs which happen  in states having many slaves who speak the same language, and the  numerous robberies and lawless life of the Italian banditti, as they are  called. A man who considers all this is fairly at a loss. Two remedies  alone remain to us — not to have the slaves of the same country, nor if  possible, speaking the same language; in this way they will more easily  be held in subjection: secondly, we should tend them carefully, not only  out of regard to them, but yet more out of respect to ourselves. And the  right treatment of slaves is to behave properly to them, and to do to  them, if possible, even more justice than to those who are our equals;  for he who naturally and genuinely reverences justice, and hates  injustice, is discovered in his dealings with any class of men to whom  he can easily be unjust. And he who in regard to the natures and actions  of his slaves is undefiled by impiety and injustice, will best sow the  seeds of virtue in them; and this may be truly said of every master, and  tyrant, and of every other having authority in relation to his  inferiors. Slaves ought to be punished as they deserve, and not  admonished as if they were freemen, which will only make them conceited.  The language used to a servant ought always to be that of a command, and  we ought not to jest with them, whether they are males or females — this  is a foolish way which many people have of setting up their slaves, and  making the life of servitude more disagreeable both for them and for  their masters.


Cle. True.


Ath. Now that each of the citizens is provided, as far as possible, with  a sufficient number of suitable slaves who can help him in what he has  to do, we may next proceed to describe their dwellings.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. The city being new and hitherto uninhabited, care ought to be taken  of all the buildings, and the manner of building each of them, and also  of the temples and walls. These, Cleinias, were matters which properly  came before the marriages; but, as we are only talking, there is no  objection to changing the order. If, however, our plan of legislation is  ever to take effect, then the house shall precede the marriage if God so  will, and afterwards we will come to the regulations about marriage; but  at present we are only describing these matters in a general outline.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. The temples are to be placed all round the agora, and the whole  city built on the heights in a circle, for the sake of defence and for  the sake of purity. Near the temples are to be placed buildings for the  magistrates and the courts of law; in these plaintiff and defendant will  receive their due, and the places will be regarded as most holy, partly  because they have to do with the holy things: and partly because they  are the dwelling-places of holy Gods: and in them will be held the  courts in which cases of homicide and other trials of capital offenses  may fitly take place. As to the walls, Megillus, I agree with Sparta in  thinking that they should be allowed to sleep in the earth, and that we  should not attempt to disinter them; there is a poetical saying, which  is finely expressed, that “walls ought to be of steel and iron, and not  of earth; besides, how ridiculous of us to be sending out our young men  annually into the country to dig and to trench, and to keep off the  enemy by fortifications, under the idea that they are not to be allowed  to set foot in our territory, and then, that we should surround  ourselves with a wall, which, in the first place, is by no means  conducive to the health of cities, and is also apt to produce a certain  effeminacy in the minds of the inhabitants, inviting men to run thither  instead of repelling their enemies, and leading them to imagine that  their safety is due not to their keeping guard day and night, but that  when they are protected by walls and gates, then they may sleep in  safety; as if they were not meant to labour, and did not know that true  repose comes from labour, and that disgraceful indolence and a careless  temper of mind is only the renewal of trouble. But if men must have  walls, the private houses ought to be so arranged from the first that  the whole city may be one wall, having all the houses capable of defence  by reason of their uniformity and equality towards the streets. The form  of the city being that of a single dwelling will have an agreeable  aspect, and being easily guarded will be infinitely better for security.  Until the original building is completed, these should be the principal  objects of the inhabitants; and the wardens of the city should  superintend the work, and should impose a fine on him who is negligent;  and in all that relates to the city they should have a care of  cleanliness, and not allow a private person to encroach upon any public  property either by buildings or excavations. Further, they ought to take  care that the rains from heaven flow off easily, and of any other  matters which may have to be administered either within or without the  city. The guardians of the law shall pass any further enactments which  their experience may show to be necessary, and supply any other points  in which the law may be deficient. And now that these matters, and the  buildings about the agora, and the gymnasia, and places of instruction,  and theatres, are all ready and waiting for scholars and spectators, let  us proceed to the subjects which follow marriage in the order of  legislation.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Assuming that marriages exist already, Cleinias, the mode of life  during the year after marriage, before children are born, will follow  next in order. In what way bride and bridegroom ought to live in a city  which is to be superior to other cities, is a matter not at all easy for  us to determine. There have been many difficulties already, but this  will be the greatest of them, and the most disagreeable to the many.  Still I cannot but say what appears to me to be right and true,  Cleinias.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. He who imagines that he can give laws for the public conduct of  states, while he leaves the private life of citizens wholly to take care  of itself; who thinks that individuals may pass the day as they please,  and that there is no necessity of order in all things; he, I say, who  gives up the control of their private lives, and supposes that they will  conform to law in their common and public life, is making a great  mistake. Why have I made this remark? Why, because I am going to enact  that the bridegrooms should live at the common tables, just as they did  before marriage. This was a singularity when first enacted by the  legislator in your parts of the world, Megillus and Cleinias, as I  should suppose, on the occasion of some war or other similar danger,  which caused the passing of the law, and which would be likely to occur  in thinly-peopled places, and in times of pressure. But when men had  once tried and been accustomed to a common table, experience showed that  the institution greatly conduced to security; and in some such manner  the custom of having common tables arose among you.


Cle. Likely enough.


Ath. I said that there may have been singularity and danger in imposing  such a custom at first, but that now there is not the same difficulty.


There is, however, another institution which is the natural sequel to  this, and would be excellent, if it existed anywhere, but at present it  does not. The institution of which I am about to speak is not easily  described or executed; and would be like the legislator “combing wool  into the fire,” as people say, or performing any other impossible and  useless feat.


Cle. What is the cause, Stranger, of this extreme hesitation?


Ath. You shall hear without any fruitless loss of time. That which has  law and order in a state is the cause of every good, but that which is  disordered or ill-ordered is often the ruin of that which is  wellordered; and at this point the argument is now waiting. For with  you, Cleinias and Megillus, the common tables of men are, as I said, a  heaven-born and admirable institution, but you are mistaken in leaving  the women unregulated by law. They have no similar institution of public  tables in the light of day, and just that part of the human race which  is by nature prone to secrecy and stealth on account of their weakness —  I mean the female sex — has been left without regulation by the  legislator, which is a great mistake. And, in consequence of this  neglect, many things have grown lax among you, which might have been far  better, if they had been only regulated by law; for the neglect of  regulations about women may not only be regarded as a neglect of half  the entire matter, but in proportion as woman’s nature is inferior to  that of men in capacity for virtue, in that degree the consequence of  such neglect is more than twice as important. The careful consideration  of this matter, and the arranging and ordering on a common principle of  all our institutions relating both to men and women, greatly conduces to  the happiness of the state. But at present, such is the unfortunate  condition of mankind, that no man of sense will even venture to speak of  common tables in places and cities in which they have never been  established at all; and how can any one avoid being utterly ridiculous,  who attempts to compel women to show in public how much they eat and  drink? There is nothing at which the sex is more likely to take offence.  For women are accustomed to creep into dark places, and when dragged out  into the light they will exert their utmost powers of resistance, and be  far too much for the legislator. And therefore, as I said before, in  most places they will not endure to have the truth spoken without  raising a tremendous outcry, but in this state perhaps they may. And if  we may assume that our whole discussion about the state has not been  mere idle talk, I should like to prove to you, if you will consent to  listen, that this institution is good and proper; but if you had rather  not, I will refrain.


Cle. There is nothing which we should both of us like better, Stranger,  than to hear what you have to say.


Ath. Very good; and you must not be surprised if I go back a little, for  we have plenty of leisure, and there is nothing to prevent us from  considering in every point of view the subject of law.


Cle. True.


Ath. Then let us return once more to what we were saying at first. Every  man should understand that the human race either had no beginning at  all, and will never have an end, but always will be and has been; or  that it began an immense while ago.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Well, and have there not been constitutions and destructions of  states, and all sorts of pursuits both orderly and disorderly, and  diverse desires of meats and drinks always, and in all the world, and  all sorts of changes of the seasons in which animals may be expected to  have undergone innumerable transformations of themselves?


Cle. No doubt.


Ath. And may we not suppose that vines appeared, which had previously no  existence, and also olives, and the gifts of Demeter and her daughter,  of which one Triptolemus was the minister, and that, before these  existed, animals took to devouring each other as they do still?


Cle. True.


Ath. Again, the practice of men sacrificing one another still exists  among many nations; while, on the other hand, we hear of other human  beings who did not even venture to taste the flesh of a cow and had no  animal sacrifices, but only cakes and fruits dipped in honey, and  similar pure offerings, but no flesh of animals; from these they  abstained under the idea that they ought not to eat them, and might not  stain the altars of the Gods with blood. For in those days men are said  to have lived a sort of Orphic life, having the use of all lifeless  things, but abstaining from all living things.


Cle. Such has been the constant tradition, and is very likely true.


Ath. Some one might say to us, What is the drift of all this?


Cle. A very pertinent question, Stranger.


Ath. And therefore I will endeavour, Cleinias, if I can, to draw the  natural inference.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. I see that among men all things depend upon three wants and  desires, of which the end is virtue, if they are rightly led by them, or  the opposite if wrongly. Now these are eating and drinking, which begin  at birth — every animal has a natural desire for them, and is violently  excited, and rebels against him who says that he must not satisfy all  his pleasures and appetites, and get rid of all the corresponding pains  — and the third and greatest and sharpest want and desire breaks out  last, and is the fire of sexual lust, which kindles in men every species  of wantonness and madness. And these three disorders we must endeavour  to master by the three great principles of fear and law and right  reason; turning them away from that which is called pleasantest to the  best, using the Muses and the Gods who preside over contests to  extinguish their increase and influx. But to return: After marriage let  us speak of the birth of children, and after their birth of their  nurture and education. In the course of discussion the several laws will  be perfected, and we shall at last arrive at the common tables. Whether  such associations are to be confined to men, or extended to women also,  we shall see better when we approach and take a nearer view of them; and  we may then determine what previous institutions are required and will  have to precede them. As I said before we shall see them more in detail,  and shall be better able to lay down the laws which are proper or suited  to them.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Let us keep in mind the words which have now been spoken; for  hereafter there may be need of them.


Cle. What do you bid us keep in mind?


Ath. That which we comprehended under the three words — first, eating,  secondly, drinking, thirdly, the excitement of love.


Cle. We shall be sure to remember, Stranger.


Ath. Very good. Then let us now proceed to marriage, and teach persons  in what way they shall beget children, threatening them, if they  disobey, with the terrors of the law.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. The bride and bridegroom should consider that they are to produce  for the state the best and fairest specimens of children which they can.  Now all men who are associated any action always succeed when they  attend and give their mind to what they are doing, but when they do not  give their mind or have no mind, they fail; wherefore let the bridegroom  give his mind to the bride and to the begetting of children, and the  bride in like manner give her mind to the bridegroom, and particularly  at the time when their children are not yet born. And let the women whom  we have chosen be the overseers of such matters, and let them in  whatever number, large or small, and at whatever time the magistrates  may command, assemble every day in the temple of Eileithyia during a  third part of the day, and being there assembled, let them inform one  another of any one whom they see, whether man or woman, of those who are  begetting children, disregarding the ordinances given at the time when  the nuptial sacrifices and ceremonies were performed. Let the begetting  of children and the supervision of those who are begetting them continue  ten years and no longer, during the time when marriage is fruitful. But  if any continue without children up to this time, let them take counsel  with their kindred and with the women holding the office of overseer and  be divorced for their mutual benefit. If, however, any dispute arises  about what is proper and for the interest of either party, they shall  choose ten of the guardians of the law and abide by their permission and  appointment.


The women who preside over these matters shall enter into the houses of  the young, and partly by admonitions and partly by threats make them  give over their folly and error: if they persist, let the women go and  tell the guardians of the law, and the guardians shall prevent them. But  if they too cannot prevent them, they shall bring the matter before the  people; and let them write up their names and make oath that they cannot  reform such and such an one; and let him who is thus written up, if he  cannot in a court of law convict those who have inscribed his name, be  deprived of the privileges of a citizen in the following respects: let  him not go to weddings nor to the thanksgivings after the birth of  children; and if he go, let any one who pleases strike him with  impunity; and let the same regulations hold about women: let not a woman  be allowed to appear abroad, or receive honour, or go to nuptial and  birthday festivals, if she in like manner be written up as acting  disorderly and cannot obtain a verdict. And if, when they themselves  have done begetting children according to the law, a man or woman have  connection with another man or woman who are still begetting children,  let the same penalties be inflicted upon them as upon those who are  still having a family; and when the time for procreation has passed let  the man or woman who refrains in such matters be held in esteem, and let  those who do not refrain be held in the contrary of esteem — that is to  say, disesteem. Now, if the greater part of mankind behave modestly, the  enactments of law may be left to slumber; but, if they are disorderly,  the enactments having been passed, let them be carried into execution.  To every man the first year is the beginning of life, and the time of  birth ought to be written down in the temples of their fathers as the  beginning of existence to every child, whether boy or girl. Let every  phratria have inscribed on a whited wall the names of the successive  archons by whom the years are reckoned. And near to them let the living  members of the phratria be inscribed, and when they depart life let them  be erased. The limit of marriageable ages for a woman shall be from  sixteen to twenty years at the longestfor a man, from thirty to  thirty-five years; and let a woman hold office at forty, and a man at  thirty years. Let a man go out to war from twenty to sixty years, and  for a woman, if there appear any need to make use of her in military  service, let the time of service be after she shall have brought forth  children up to fifty years of age; and let regard be had to what is  possible and suitable to each.





And now, assuming children of both sexes to have been born, it will be  proper for us to consider, in the next place, their nurture and  education; this cannot be left altogether unnoticed, and yet may be  thought a subject fitted rather for precept and admonition than for law.  In private life there are many little things, not always apparent,  arising out of the pleasures and pains and desires of individuals, which  run counter to the intention of the legislator, and make the characters  of the citizens various and dissimilar: this is an evil in states; for  by reason of their smallness and frequent occurrence, there would be an  unseemliness and want of propriety in making them penal by law; and if  made penal, they are the destruction of the written law because mankind  get the habit of frequently transgressing the law in small matters. The  result is that you cannot legislate about them, and still less can you  be silent. I speak somewhat darkly, but I shall endeavour also to bring  my wares into the light of day, for I acknowledge that at present there  is a want of clearness in what I am saying.


Cleinias. Very true.


Athenian Stranger. Am I not right in maintaining that a good education  is that which tends most, to the improvement of mind and body?


Cle. Undoubtedly.


Ath. And nothing can be plainer than that the fairest bodies are those  which grow up from infancy in the best and straightest manner?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And do we not further observe that the first shoot of every living  thing is by far the greatest and fullest? Many will even contend that a  man at twenty-five does not reach twice the height which he attained at  five.


Cle. True.


Ath. Well, and is not rapid growth without proper and abundant exercise  the source endless evils in the body?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And the body should have the most exercise when it receives most  nourishment?


Cle. But, Stranger, are we to impose this great amount of exercise upon  newly-born infants?


Ath. Nay, rather on the bodies of infants still unborn.


Cle. What do you mean, my good sir? In the process of gestation?


Ath. Exactly. I am not at all surprised that you have never heard of  this very peculiar sort of gymnastic applied to such little creatures,  which, although strange, I will endeavour to explain to you.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. The practice is more easy for us to understand than for you, by  reason of certain amusements which are carried to excess by us at  Athens. Not only boys, but often older persons, are in the habit of  keeping quails and cocks, which they train to fight one another.


And they are far from thinking that the contests in which they stir them  up to fight with one another are sufficient exercise; for, in addition  to this, they carry them about tucked beneath their armpits, holding the  smaller birds in their hands, the larger under their arms, and go for a  walk of a great many miles for the sake of health, that is to say, not  their own, health, but the health of the birds; whereby they prove to  any intelligent person, that all bodies are benefited by shakings and  movements, when they are moved without weariness, whether motion  proceeds from themselves, or is caused by a swing, or at sea, or on  horseback, or by other bodies in whatever way moving, and that thus  gaining the mastery over food and drink, they are able to impart beauty  and health and strength. But admitting all this, what follows? Shall we  make a ridiculous law that the pregnant woman shall walk about and  fashion the embryo within as we fashion wax before it hardens, and after  birth swathe the infant for two years? Suppose that we compel nurses,  under penalty of a legal fine, to be always carrying the children  somewhere or other, either to the temples, or into the country, or to  their relations, houses, until they are well able to stand, and to take  care that their limbs are not distorted by leaning on them when they are  too young — they should continue to carry them until the infant has  completed its third year; the nurses should be strong, and there should  be more than one of them. Shall these be our rules, and shall we impose  a penalty for the neglect of them? No, no; the penalty of which we were  speaking will fall upon our own heads more than enough.


Cle. What penalty?


Ath. Ridicule, and the difficulty of getting the feminine and  servant-like dispositions of the nurses to comply.


Cle. Then why was there any need to speak of the matter at all?


Ath. The reason is that masters and freemen in states, when they hear of  it, are very likely to arrive at a true conviction that without due  regulation of private life in cities, stability in the laying down of  laws is hardly to be expected; and he who makes this reflection may  himself adopt the laws just now mentioned, and, adopting them, may order  his house and state well and be happy.


Cle. Likely enough.


Ath. And therefore let us proceed with our legislation until we have  determined the exercises which are suited to the souls of young  children, in the same manner in which we have begun to go through the  rules relating to their bodies.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Let us assume, then, as a first principle in relation both to the  body and soul of very young creatures, that nursing and moving about by  day and night is good for them all, and that the younger they are, the  more they will need it; infants should live, if that were possible, as  if they were always rocking at sea. This is the lesson which we may  gather from the experience of nurses, and likewise from the use of the  remedy of motion in the rites of the Corybantes; for when mothers want  their restless children to go to sleep they do not employ rest, but, on  the contrary, motion — rocking them in their arms; nor do they give them  silence, but they sing to them and lap them in sweet strains; and the  Bacchic women are cured of their frenzy in the same manner by the use of  the dance and of music.


Cle. Well, Stranger, and what is the reason of this?


Ath. The reason is obvious.


Cle. What?


Ath. The affection both of the Bacchantes and of the children is an  emotion of fear, which springs out of an evil habit of the soul. And  when some one applies external agitation to affections of this sort, the  motion coming from without gets the better of the terrible and violent  internal one, and produces a peace and calm in the soul, and quiets the  restless palpitation of the heart, which is a thing much to be desired,  sending the children to sleep, and making the Bacchantes, although they  remain awake, to dance to the pipe with the help of the Gods to whom  they offer acceptable sacrifices, and producing in them a sound mind,  which takes the place of their frenzy. And, to express what I mean in a  word, there is a good deal to be said in favour of this treatment.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. But if fear has such a power we ought to infer from these facts,  that every soul which from youth upward has been familiar with fears,  will be made more liable to fear, and every one will allow that this is  the way to form a habit of cowardice and not of courage.


Cle. No doubt.


Ath. And, on the other hand, the habit of overcoming, from our youth  upwards, the fears and terrors which beset us, may be said to be an  exercise of courage.


Cle. True.


Ath. And we may say that the use of exercise and motion in the earliest  years of life greatly contributes to create a part of virtue in the  soul.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. Further, a cheerful temper, or the reverse, may be regarded as  having much to do with high spirit on the one hand, or with cowardice on  the other.


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. Then now we must endeavour to show how and to what extent we may,  if we please, without difficulty implant either character in the young.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. There is a common opinion, that luxury makes the disposition of  youth discontented and irascible and vehemently excited by trifles; that  on the other hand excessive and savage servitude makes men mean and  abject, and haters of their kind, and therefore makes them undesirable  associates.


Cle. But how must the state educate those who do not as yet understand  the language of the country, and are therefore incapable of appreciating  any sort of instruction?


Ath. I will tell you how: Every animal that is born is wont to utter  some cry, and this is especially the case with man, and he is also  affected with the inclination to weep more than any other animal.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. Do not nurses, when they want to know what an infant desires, judge  by these signs? — when anything is brought to the infant and he is  silent, then he is supposed to be pleased, but, when he weeps and cries  out, then he is not pleased. For tears and cries are the inauspicious  signs by which children show what they love and hate. Now the time which  is thus spent is no less than three years, and is a very considerable  portion of life to be passed ill or well.


Cle. True.


Ath. Does not the discontented and ungracious nature appear to you to be  full of lamentations and sorrows more than a good man ought to be?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Well, but if during these three years every possible care were  taken that our nursling should have as little of sorrow and fear, and in  general of pain as was possible, might we not expect in early childhood  to make his soul more gentle and cheerful?


Cle. To be sure, Stranger — more especially if we could procure him a  variety of pleasures.


Ath. There I can no longer agree, Cleinias: you amaze me. To bring him  up in such a way would be his utter ruin; for the beginning is always  the most critical part of education. Let us see whether I am right.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. The point about which you and I differ is of great importance, and  I hope that you, Megillus, will help to decide between us. For I  maintain that the true life should neither seek for pleasures, nor, on  the other hand, entirely avoid pains, but should embrace the middle  state, which I just spoke of as gentle and benign, and is a state which  we by some divine presage and inspiration rightly ascribe to God. Now, I  say, he among men, too, who would be divine ought to pursue after this  mean habit — he should not rush headlong into pleasures, for he will not  be free from pains; nor should we allow any one, young or old, male or  female, to be thus given any more than ourselves, and least of all the  newly-born infant, for in infancy more than at any other time the  character is engrained by habit. Nay, more, if I were not afraid of  appearing to be ridiculous, I would say that a woman during her year of  pregnancy should of all women be most carefully tended, and kept from  violent or excessive pleasures and pains, and should at that time  cultivate gentleness and benevolence and kindness.


Cle. You need not, ask Megillus, Stranger, which of us has most truly  spoken; for I myself agree that all men ought to avoid the life of  unmingled pain or pleasure, and pursue always a middle course. And  having spoken well, may I add that you have been well answered?


Ath. Very good, Cleinias; and now let us all three consider a further  point.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. That all the matters which we are now describing are commonly  called by the general name of unwritten customs, and what are termed the  laws of our ancestors are all of similar nature. And the reflection  which lately arose in our minds, that we can neither call these things  laws, nor yet leave them unmentioned, is justified; for they are the  bonds of the whole state, and come in between the written laws which are  or are hereafter to be laid down; they are just ancestral customs of  great antiquity, which, if they are rightly ordered and made habitual,  shield and preserve the previously existing written law; but if they  depart from right and fall into disorder, then they are like the props  of builders which slip away out of their Place and cause a universal  ruin — one part drags another down, and the fair super-structure falls  because the old foundations are undermined. Reflecting upon this,  Cleinias, you ought to bind together the new state in every possible  way, omitting nothing, whether great or small, of what are called laws  or manners or pursuits, for by these means a city is bound together, and  all these things are only lasting when they depend upon one another;  and, therefore, we must not wonder if we find that many apparently  trifling customs or usages come pouring in and lengthening out our laws.


Cle. Very true: we are disposed to agree with you.


Ath. Up to the age of three years, whether of boy or girl, if a person  strictly carries out our previous regulations and makes them a principal  aim, he will do much for the advantage of the young creatures. But at  three, four, five, and even six years the childish nature will require  sports; now is the time to get rid of self-will in him, punishing him,  but not so as to disgrace him. We were saying about slaves, that we  ought neither to add insult to punishment so as to anger them, nor yet  to leave them unpunished lest they become self-willed; and a like rule  is to be observed in the case of the free-born. Children at that age  have certain natural modes of amusement which they find out for  themselves when they meet.


And all the children who are between the ages of three and six ought to  meet at the temples the villages, the several families of a village  uniting on one spot. The nurses are to see that the children behave  properly and orderly — they themselves and all their companies are to be  under the control of twelve matrons, one for each company, who are  annually selected to inspect them from the women previously mentioned,  [i.e., the women who have authority over marriage], whom the guardians  of the law appoint. These matrons shall be chosen by the women who have  authority over marriage, one out of each tribe; all are to be of the  same age; and let each of them, as soon as she is appointed, hold office  and go to the temples every day, punishing all offenders, male or  female, who are slaves or strangers, by the help of some of the public  slaves; but if any citizen disputes the punishment, let her bring him  before the wardens of the city; or, if there be no dispute, let her  punish him herself. After the age of six years the time has arrived for  the separation of the sexes — let boys live with boys, and girls in like  manner with girls. Now they must begin to learn — the boys going to  teachers of horsemanship and the use of the bow, the javelin, and sling,  and the girls too, if they do not object, at any rate until they know  how to manage these weapons, and especially how to handle heavy arms;  for I may note, that the practice which now prevails is almost  universally misunderstood.


Cle. In what respect?


Ath. In that the right and left hand are supposed to be by nature  differently suited for our various uses of them; whereas no difference  is found in the use of the feet and the lower limbs; but in the use of  the hands we are, as it were, maimed by the folly of nurses and mothers;  for although our several limbs are by nature balanced, we create a  difference in them by bad habit. In some cases this is of no  consequence, as, for example, when we hold the lyre in the left hand,  and the plectrum in the right, but it is downright folly to make the  same distinction in other cases. The custom of the Scythians proves our  error; for they not only hold the bow from them with the left hand and  draw the arrow to them with their right, but use either hand for both  purposes. And there are many similar examples in charioteering and other  things, from which we may learn that those who make the left side weaker  than the right act contrary to nature. In the case of the plectrum,  which is of horn only, and similar instruments, as I was saying, it is  of no consequence, but makes a great difference, and may be of very  great importance to the warrior who has to use iron weapons, bows and  javelins, and the like; above all, when in heavy armour, he has to fight  against heavy armour. And there is a very great difference between one  who has learnt and one who has not, and between one who has been trained  in gymnastic exercises and one who has not been. For as he who is  perfectly skilled in the Pancratium or boxing or wrestling, is not  unable to fight from his left side, and does not limp and draggle in  confusion when his opponent makes him change his position, so in  heavy-armed fighting, and in all other things if I am not mistaken, the  like holds — he who has these double powers of attack and defence ought  not in any case to leave them either unused or untrained, if he can  help; and if a person had the nature of Geryon or Briareus he ought to  be able with his hundred hands to throw a hundred darts. Now, the  magistrates, male and female, should see to all these things, the women  superintending the nursing and amusements of the children, and the men  superintending their education, that all of them, boys and girls alike,  may be sound hand and foot, and may not, if they can help, spoil the  gifts of nature by bad habits.


Education has two branches — one of gymnastic, which is concerned with  the body, and the other of music, which is designed for the improvement  of the soul. And gymnastic has also two branches — dancing and  wrestling; and one sort of dancing imitates musical recitation, and aims  at preserving dignity and freedom, the other aims at producing health,  agility, and beauty in the limbs and parts of the body, giving the  proper flexion and extension to each of them, a harmonious motion being  diffused everywhere, and forming a suitable accompaniment to the dance.  As regards wrestling, the tricks which Antaeus and Cercyon devised in  their systems out of a vain spirit of competition, or the tricks of  boxing which Epeius or Amycus invented, are useless and unsuitable for  war, and do not deserve to have much said about them; but the art of  wrestling erect and keeping free the neck and hands and sides, working  with energy and constancy, with a composed strength, and for the sake of  health — these are always useful, and are not to be neglected, but to be  enjoined alike on masters and scholars, when we reach that part of  legislation; and we will desire the one to give their instructions  freely, and the others to receive them thankfully. Nor, again, must we  omit suitable imitations of war in our choruses; here in Crete you have  the armed dances if the Curetes, and the Lacedaemonians have those of  the Dioscuri. And our virgin lady, delighting in the amusement of the  dance, thought it not fit to amuse herself with empty hands; she must be  clothed in a complete suit of armour, and in this attire go through the  dance; and youths and maidens should in every respect imitate her,  esteeming highly the favour of the Goddess, both with a view to the  necessities of war, and to festive occasions: it will be right also for  the boys, until such time as they go out to war, to make processions and  supplications to all the Gods in goodly array, armed and on horseback,  in dances, and marches, fast or slow, offering up prayers to the Gods  and to the sons of Gods; and also engaging in contests and preludes of  contests, if at all, with these objects: For these sorts of exercises,  and no others, are useful both in peace and war, and are beneficial  alike to states and to private houses. But other labours and sports and  exercises of the body are unworthy of freemen, O Megillus and Cleinias.


I have now completely described the kind of gymnastic which I said at  first ought to be described; if you know of any better, will you  communicate your thoughts?


Cle. It is not easy, Stranger, to put aside these principles of  gymnastic and wrestling and to enunciate better ones.


Ath. Now we must say what has yet to be said about the gifts of the  Muses and of Apollo: before, we fancied that we had said all, and that  gymnastic alone remained; but now we see clearly what points have been  omitted, and should be first proclaimed; of these, then, let us proceed  to speak.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Let me tell you once more — although you have heard me say the same  before that caution must be always exercised, both by the speaker and by  the hearer, about anything that is very singular and unusual. For my  tale is one, which many a man would be afraid to tell, and yet I have a  confidence which makes me go on.


Cle. What have you to say, Stranger?


Ath. I say that in states generally no one has observed that the plays  of childhood have a great deal to do with the permanence or want of  permanence in legislation. For when plays are ordered with a view to  children having the same plays, and amusing themselves after the same  manner, and finding delight in the same playthings, the more solemn  institutions of the state are allowed to remain undisturbed. Whereas if  sports are disturbed, and innovations are made in them, and they  constantly change, and the young never speak of their having the same  likings, or the same established notions of good and bad taste, either  in the bearing of their bodies or in their dress, but he who devises  something new and out of the way in figures and colours and the like is  held in special honour, we may truly say that no greater evil can happen  in a state; for he who changes the sports is secretly changing the  manners of the young, and making the old to be dishonoured among them  and the new to be honoured. And I affirm that there is nothing which is  a greater injury to all states than saying or thinking thus. Will you  hear me tell how great I deem the evil to be?


Cle. You mean the evil of blaming antiquity in states?


Ath. Exactly.


Cle. If you are speaking of that, you will find in us hearers who are  disposed to receive what you say not unfavourably but most favourably.


Ath. I should expect so.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. Well, then, let us give all the greater heed to one another’s  words.


The argument affirms that any change whatever except from evil is the  most dangerous of all things; this is true in the case of the seasons  and of the winds, in the management of our bodies and the habits of our  minds — true of all things except, as I said before, of the bad. He who  looks at the constitution of individuals accustomed to eat any sort of  meat, or drink any drink, or to do any work which they can get, may see  that they are at first disordered by them, but afterwards, as time goes  on, their bodies grow adapted to them, and they learn to know and like  variety, and have good health and enjoyment of life; and if ever  afterwards they are confined again to a superior diet, at first they are  troubled with disorders, and with difficulty become habituated to their  new food. A similar principle we may imagine to hold good about the  minds of men and the natures of their souls. For when they have been  brought up in certain laws, which by some Divine Providence have  remained unchanged during long ages, so that no one has any memory or  tradition of their ever having been otherwise than they are, then every  one is afraid and ashamed to change that which is established. The  legislator must somehow find a way of implanting this reverence for  antiquity, and I would propose the following way: People are apt to  fancy, as I was saying before, that when the plays of children are  altered they are merely plays, not seeing that the most serious and  detrimental consequences arise out of the change; and they readily  comply with the child’s wishes instead of deterring him, not considering  that these children who make innovations in their games, when they grow  up to be men, will be different from the last generation of children,  and, being different, will desire a different sort of life, and under  the influence of this desire will want other institutions and laws; and  no one of them reflects that there will follow what I just now called  the greatest of evils to states. Changes in bodily fashions are no such  serious evils, but frequent changes in the praise and censure of manners  are the greatest of evils, and require the utmost prevision.


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And now do we still hold to our former assertion, that rhythms and  music in general are imitations of good and evil characters in men? What  say you?


Cle. That is the only doctrine which we can admit.


Ath. Must we not, then, try in every possible way to prevent our youth  from even desiring to imitate new modes either in dance or song? nor  must any one be allowed to offer them varieties of pleasures.


Cle. Most true.


Ath. Can any of us imagine a better mode of effecting this object than  that of the Egyptians?


Cle. What is their method?


Ath. To consecrate every sort of dance or melody. First we should ordain  festivals — calculating for the year what they ought to be, and at what  time, and in honour of what Gods, sons of Gods, and heroes they ought to  be celebrated; and, in the next place, what hymns ought to be sung at  the several sacrifices, and with what dances the particular festival is  to be honoured. This has to be arranged at first by certain persons,  and, when arranged, the whole assembly of the citizens are to offer  sacrifices and libations to the Fates and all the other Gods, and to  consecrate the several odes to gods and heroes: and if any one offers  any other hymns or dances to any one of the Gods, the priests and  priestesses, acting in concert with the guardians of the law, shall,  with the sanction of religion and the law, exclude him, and he who is  excluded, if he do not submit, shall be liable all his life long to have  a suit of impiety brought against him by any one who likes.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. In the consideration of this subject, let us remember what is due  to ourselves.


Cle. To what are you referring?


Ath. I mean that any young man, and much more any old one, when he sees  or hears anything strange or unaccustomed, does not at once run to  embrace the paradox, but he stands considering, like a person who is at  a place where three paths meet, and does not very well know his way — he  may be alone or he may be walking with others, and he will say to  himself and them, “Which is the way?” and will not move forward until he  is satisfied that he is going right. And this is what we must do in the  present instance: A strange discussion on the subject of law has arisen,  which requires the utmost consideration, and we should not at our age be  too ready to speak about such great matters, or be confident that we can  say anything certain all in a moment.


Cle. Most true.


Ath. Then we will allow time for reflection, and decide when we have  given the subject sufficient consideration. But that we may not be  hindered from completing the natural arrangement of our laws, let us  proceed to the conclusion of them in due order; for very possibly, if  God will, the exposition of them, when completed, may throw light on our  present perplexity.


Cle. Excellent, Stranger; let us do as you propose.


Ath. Let us then affirm the paradox that strains of music are our laws  (nomoi), and this latter being the name which the ancients gave to lyric  songs, they probably would not have very much objected to our proposed  application of the word. Some one, either asleep or awake, must have had  a dreamy suspicion of their nature. And let our decree be as follows: No  one in singing or dancing shall offend against public and consecrated  models, and the general fashion among the youth, any more than he would  offend against any other law. And he who observes this law shall be  blameless; but he who is disobedient, as I was saying, shall be punished  by the guardians of the laws, and by the priests and priestesses.  Suppose that we imagine this to be our law.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Can any one who makes such laws escape ridicule? Let us see. I  think that our only safety will be in first framing certain models for  composers. One of these models shall be as follows: If when a sacrifice  is going on, and the victims are being burnt according to law — if, I  say, any one who may be a son or brother, standing by another at the  altar and over the victims, horribly blasphemes, will not his words  inspire despondency and evil omens and forebodings in the mind of his  father and of his other kinsmen?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. And this is just what takes place in almost all our cities. A  magistrate offers a public sacrifice, and there come in not one but many  choruses, who take up a position a little way from the altar, and from  time to time pour forth all sorts of horrible blasphemies on the sacred  rites, exciting the souls of the audience with words and rhythms and  melodies most sorrowful to hear; and he who at the moment when the city  is offering sacrifice makes the citizens weep most, carries away the  palm of victory. Now, ought we not to forbid such strains as these? And  if ever our citizens must hear such lamentations, then on some unblest  and inauspicious day let there be choruses of foreign and hired  minstrels, like those hirelings who accompany the departed at funerals  with barbarous Carian chants. That is the sort of thing which will be  appropriate if we have such strains at all; and let the apparel of the  singers be, not circlets and ornaments of gold, but the reverse. Enough  of all this.


I will simply ask once more whether we shall lay down as one of our  principles of song


Cle. What?


Ath. That we should avoid every word of evil omen; let that kind of song  which is of good omen be heard everywhere and always in our state. I  need hardly ask again, but shall assume that you agree with me.


Cle. By all means; that law is approved by the suffrages of us all.


Ath. But what shall be our next musical law or type? Ought not prayers  to be offered up to the Gods when we sacrifice?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And our third law, if I am not mistaken, will be to the effect that  our poets, understanding prayers to be requests which we make to the  Gods, will take especial heed that they do not by mistake ask for evil  instead of good. To make such a prayer would surely be too ridiculous.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Were we not a little while ago quite convinced that no silver or  golden Plutus should dwell in our state?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And what has it been the object of our argument to show? Did we not  imply that the poets are not always quite capable of knowing what is  good or evil? And if one of them utters a mistaken prayer in song or  words, he will make our citizens pray for the opposite of what is good  in matters of the highest import; than which, as I was saying, there can  be few greater mistakes. Shall we then propose as one of our laws and  models relating to the Muses.


Cle. What? — will you explain the law more precisely?


Ath. Shall we make a law that the poet shall compose nothing contrary to  the ideas of the lawful, or just, or beautiful, or good, which are  allowed in the state? nor shall he be permitted to communicate his  compositions to any private individuals, until he shall have shown them  to the appointed judges and the guardians of the law, and they are  satisfied with them. As to the persons whom we appoint to be our  legislators about music and as to the director of education, these have  been already indicated. Once more then, as I have asked more than once,  shall this be our third law, and type, and model — What do you say?


Cle. Let it be so, by all means.


Ath. Then it will be proper to have hymns and praises of the Gods,  intermingled with prayers; and after the Gods prayers and praises should  be offered in like manner to demigods and heroes, suitable to their  several characters.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. In the next place there will be no objection to a law, that  citizens who are departed and have done good and energetic deeds, either  with their souls or with their bodies, and have been obedient to the  laws, should receive eulogies; this will be very fitting.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. But to honour with hymns and panegyrics those who are still alive  is not safe; a man should run his course, and make a fair ending, and  then we will praise him; and let praise be given equally to women as  well as men who have been distinguished in virtue. The order of songs  and dances shall be as follows: There are many ancient musical  compositions and dances which are excellent, and from these the  newly-founded city may freely select what is proper and suitable; and  they shall choose judges of not less than fifty years of age, who shall  make the selection, and any of the old poems which they deem sufficient  they shall include; any that are deficient or altogether unsuitable,  they shall either utterly throw aside, or examine and amend, taking into  their counsel poets and musicians, and making use of their poetical  genius; but explaining to them the wishes of the legislator in order  that they may regulate dancing, music, and all choral strains, according  to the mind of the judges; and not allowing them to indulge, except in  some few matters, their individual pleasures and fancies.


Now the irregular strain of music is always made ten thousand times  better by attaining to law and order, and rejecting the honeyed Muse —  not however that we mean wholly to exclude pleasure, which is the  characteristic of all music. And if a man be brought up from childhood  to the age of discretion and maturity in the use of the orderly and  severe music, when he hears the opposite he detests it, and calls it  illiberal; but if trained in the sweet and vulgar music, he deems the  severer kind cold and displeasing. So that, as I was saying before,  while he who hears them gains no more pleasure from the one than from  the other, the one has the advantage of making those who are trained in  it better men, whereas the other makes them worse.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Again, we must distinguish and determine on some general principle  what songs are suitable to women, and what to men, and must assign to  them their proper melodies and rhythms. It is shocking for a whole  harmony to be inharmonical, or for a rhythm to be unrhythmical, and this  will happen when the melody is inappropriate to them. And therefore the  legislator must assign to these also their forms. Now both sexes have  melodies and rhythms which of necessity belong to them; and those of  women are clearly enough indicated by their natural difference. The  grand, and that which tends to courage, may be fairly called manly; but  that which inclines to moderation and temperance, may be declared both  in law and in ordinary speech to be the more womanly quality. This,  then, will be the general order of them.


Let us now speak of the manner of teaching and imparting them, and the  persons to whom, and the time when, they are severally to be imparted.  As the shipwright first lays down the lines of the keel, and thus, as it  were, draws the ship in outline, so do I seek to distinguish the  patterns of life, and lay down their keels according to the nature of  different men’s souls; seeking truly to consider by what means, and in  what ways, we may go through the voyage of life best. Now human affairs  are hardly worth considering in earnest, and yet we must be in earnest  about them — a sad necessity constrains us. And having got thus far,  there will be a fitness in our completing the matter, if we can only  find some suitable method of doing so. But what do I mean? Some one may  ask this very question, and quite rightly, too.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. I say that about serious matters a man should be serious, and about  a matter which is not serious he should not be, serious; and that God is  the natural and worthy object of our most serious and blessed  endeavours, for man, as I said before, is made to be the plaything of  God, and this, truly considered, is the best of him; wherefore also  every man and woman should walk seriously, and pass life in the noblest  of pastimes, and be of another mind from what they are at present.


Cle. In what respect?


Ath. At present they think that their serious suits should be for the  sake of their sports, for they deem war a serious. pursuit, which must  be managed well for the sake of peace; but the truth is, that there  neither is, nor has been, nor ever will be, either amusement or  instruction in any degree worth, speaking of in war, which is  nevertheless deemed by us to be the most serious of our pursuits. And  therefore, as we say, every one of us should live the life of peace as  long and as well as he can. And what is the right way of living? Are we  to live in sports always? If so, in what kind of sports? We ought to  live sacrificing, and singing, and dancing, and then a man will be able  to propitiate the Gods, and to defend himself against his enemies and  conquer them in battle. The type of song or dance by which he will  propitiate them has been described, and the paths along which he is to  proceed have been cut for him. He will go forward in the spirit of the  poet: Telemachus, some things thou wilt thyself find in thy heart, but  other things God will suggest; for I deem that thou wast not brought up  without the will of the Gods. — And this ought to be the view of our  alumni; they ought to think that what has been said is enough for them,  and that any other things their Genius and God will suggest to them — he  will tell them to whom, and when, and to what Gods severally they are to  sacrifice and perform dances, and how they may propitiate the deities,  and live according to the appointment of nature; being for the most part  puppets, but having some little share of reality.


Megillus. You have a low opinion of mankind, Stranger.


Ath. Nay, Megillus, be not amazed, but forgive me: I was comparing them  with the Gods; and under that feeling I spoke. Let us grant, if you  wish, that the human race is not to be despised, but is worthy of some  consideration.


Next follow the buildings for gymnasia and schools open to all; these  are to be in three places in the midst of the city; and outside the city  and in the surrounding country, also in three places, there shall be  schools for horse exercise, and large grounds arranged with a view to  archery and the throwing of missiles, at which young men may learn and  practise. Of these mention has already been made, and if the mention be  not sufficiently explicit, let us speak, further of them and embody them  in laws. In these several schools let there be dwellings for teachers,  who shall be brought from foreign parts by pay, and let them teach those  who attend the schools the art of war and the art of music, and the  children shall come not only if their parents please, but if they do not  please; there shall be compulsory education, as the saying is, of all  and sundry, as far this is possible; and the pupils shall be regarded as  belonging to the state rather than to their parents. My law would apply  to females as well as males; they shall both go through the same  exercises. I assert without fear of contradiction that gymnastic and  horsemanship are as suitable to women as to men. Of the truth of this I  am persuaded from ancient tradition, and at the present day there are  said to be countless myriads of women in the neighbourhood of the Black  Sea, called Sauromatides, who not only ride on horseback like men, but  have enjoined upon them the use of bows and other weapons equally with  the men. And I further affirm, that if these things are possible,  nothing can be more absurd than the practice which prevails in our own  country, of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their  strength and with one mind, for thus the state, instead of being a  whole, is reduced to a half, but has the same imposts to pay and the  same toils to undergo; and what can be a greater mistake for any  legislator to make than this?


Cle. Very true; yet much of what has been asserted by us, Stranger is  contrary to the custom of states; still, in saying that the discourse  should be allowed to proceed, and that when the discussion is completed,  we should choose what seems best, you spoke very properly, and I now  feel compunction for what I have said. Tell me, then, what you would  next wish to say.


Ath. I should wish to say, Cleinias, as I said before, that if the  possibility of these things were not sufficiently proven in fact, then  there might be an objection to the argument, but the fact being as I  have said, he who rejects the law must find some other ground of  objection; and, failing this, our exhortation will still hold good, nor  will any one deny that women ought to share as far as possible in  education and in other ways with men. For consider; — if women do not  share in their whole life with men, then they must have some other order  of life.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And what arrangement of life to be found anywhere is preferable to  this community which we are now assigning to them? Shall we prefer that  which is adopted by the Thracians and many other races who use their  women to till the ground and to be shepherds of their herds and flocks,  and to minister to them like slaves? — Or shall we do as we and people  in our part of the world do — getting together, as the phrase is, all  our goods and chattels into one dwelling, we entrust them to our women,  who are the stewards of them, and who also preside over the shuttles and  the whole art of spinning? Or shall we take a middle course, in  Lacedaemon, Megillusletting the girls share in gymnastic and music,  while the grown-up women, no longer employed in spinning wool, are hard  at work weaving the web of life, which will be no cheap or mean  employment, and in the duty of serving and taking care of the household  and bringing up children, in which they will observe a sort of mean, not  participating in the toils of war; and if there were any necessity that  they should fight for their city and families, unlike the Amazons, they  would be unable to take part in archery or any other skilled use of  missiles, nor could they, after the example of the Goddess, carry shield  or spear, or stand up nobly for their country when it was being  destroyed, and strike terror into their enemies, if only because they  were seen in regular order? Living as they do, they would never dare at  all to imitate the Sauromatides, who, when compared with ordinary women,  would appear to be like men. Let him who will, praise your legislators,  but I must say what I think. The legislator ought to be whole and  perfect, and not half a man only; he ought not to let the female sex  live softly and waste money and have no order of life, while he takes  the utmost care of the male sex, and leaves half of life only blest with  happiness, when he might have made the whole state happy.


Meg. What shall we do, Cleinias? Shall we allow a stranger to run down  Sparta in this fashion?


Cle. Yes; for as we have given him liberty of speech we must let him go  on until we have perfected the work of legislation.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. Then now I may proceed?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. What will be the manner of life among men who may be supposed to  have their food and clothing provided for them in moderation, and who  have entrusted the practice of the arts to others, and whose husbandry,  committed to slaves paying a part of the produce, brings them a return  sufficient for men living temperately; who, moreover, have common tables  in which the men are placed apart, and near them are the common tables  of their families, of their daughters and mothers, which day by day, the  officers, male and female, are to inspect — they shall see to the  behaviour of the company, and so dismiss them; after which the presiding  magistrate and his attendants shall honour with libations those Gods to  whom that day and night are dedicated, and then go home? To men whose  lives are thus ordered, is there no work remaining to be done which is  necessary and fitting, but shall each one of them live fattening like a  beast? Such a life is neither just nor honourable, nor can he who lives  it fail of meeting his due; and the due reward of the idle fatted beast  is that he should be torn in pieces by some other valiant beast whose  fatness is worn down by brave deeds and toil. These regulations, if we  duly consider them, will never be exactly carried into execution under  present circumstances, nor as long as women and children and houses and  all other things are the private property of individuals; but if we can  attain the second-best form of polity, we shall be very well off.


And to men living under this second polity there remains a work to be  accomplished which is far from being small or insignificant, but is the  greatest of all works, and ordained by the appointment of righteous law.


For the life which may be truly said to be concerned with the virtue of  body and soul is twice, or more than twice, as full of toil and trouble  as the pursuit after Pythian and Olympic victories, which debars a man  from every employment of life. For there ought to be no bye-work  interfering with the greater work of providing the necessary exercise  and nourishment for the body, and instruction and education for the  soul. Night and day are not long enough for the accomplishment of their  perfection and consummation; and therefore to this end all freemen ought  to arrange the way in which they will spend their time during the whole  course of the day, from morning till evening and from evening till the  morning of the next sunrise. There may seem to be some impropriety in  the legislator determining minutely the numberless details of the  management of the house, including such particulars as the duty of  wakefulness in those who are to be perpetual watchmen of the whole city;  for that any citizen should continue during the whole of any night in  sleep, instead of being seen by all his servants, always the first to  awake and get up — this, whether the regulation is to be called a law or  only a practice, should be deemed base and unworthy of a freeman; also  that the mistress of the house should be awakened by her handmaidens  instead of herself first awakening them, is what the slaves, male and  female, and the serving-boys, and, if that were possible, everybody and  everything in the house should regard as base. If they rise early, they  may all of them do much of their public and of their household business,  as magistrates in the city, and masters and mistresses in their private  houses, before the sun is up. Much sleep is not required by nature,  either for our souls or bodies, or for the actions which they perform.  For no one who is asleep is good for anything, any more than if he were  dead; but he of us who has the most regard for life and reason keeps  awake as long he can, reserving only so much time for sleep as is  expedient for health; and much sleep is not required, if the habit of  moderation be once rightly formed. Magistrates in states who keep awake  at night are terrible to the bad, whether enemies or citizens, and are  honoured and reverenced by the just and temperate, and are useful to  themselves and to the whole state.


A night which is passed in such a manner, in addition to all the  above-mentioned advantages, infuses a sort of courage into the minds of  the citizens. When the day breaks, the time has arrived for youth to go  to their schoolmasters. Now neither sheep nor any other animals can live  without a shepherd, nor can children be left without tutors, or slaves  without masters. And of all animals the boy is the most unmanageable,  inasmuch as he has the fountain of reason in him not yet regulated; he  is the most insidious, sharp-witted, and insubordinate of animals.  Wherefore he must be bound with many bridles; in the first place, when  he gets away from mothers and nurses, he must be under the management of  tutors on account of his childishness and foolishness; then, again,  being a freeman, he must be controlled by teachers, no matter what they  teach, and by studies; but he is also a slave, and in that regard any  freeman who comes in his way may punish him and his tutor and his  instructor, if any of them does anything wrong; and he who comes across  him and does not inflict upon him the punishment which he deserves,  shall incur the greatest disgrace; and let the guardian of the law, who  is the director of education, see to him who coming in the way of the  offences which we have mentioned, does not chastise them when he ought,  or chastises them in a way which he ought not; let him keep a sharp  look-out, and take especial care of the training of our children,  directing their natures, and always turning them to good according to  the law.


But how can our law sufficiently train the director of education.  himself; for as yet all has been imperfect, and nothing has been said  either clear or satisfactory? Now, as far as possible, the law ought to  leave nothing to him, but to explain everything, that he may be an  interpreter and tutor to others. About dances and music and choral  strains, I have already spoken both to the character of the selection of  them, and the manner in which they are to be amended and consecrated.  But we have not as yet spoken, O illustrious guardian of education, of  the manner in which your pupils are to use those strains which are  written in prose, although you have been informed what martial strains  they are to learn and practise; what relates in the first place to the  learning of letters, and secondly, to the lyre, and also to calculation,  which, as we were saying, is needful for them all to learn, and any  other things which are required with a view to war and the management of  house and city, and, looking to the same object, what is useful in the  revolutions of the heavenly bodies — the stars and sun and moon, and the  various regulations about these matters which are necessary for the  whole state — I am speaking of the arrangements of; days in periods of  months, and of months in years, which are to be observed, in order that  seasons and sacrifices and festivals may have their regular and natural  order, and keep the city alive and awake, the Gods receiving the honours  due to them, and men having a better understanding about them: all these  things, O my friend, have not yet been sufficiently declared to you by  the legislator. Attend, then, to what I am now going to say: We were  telling you, in the first place, that you were not sufficiently informed  about letters, and the objection was to this effectthat you were never  told whether he who was meant to be a respectable citizen should apply  himself in detail to that sort of learning, or not apply himself at all;  and the same remark holds good of the study of the lyre. But now we say  that he ought to attend to them.


A fair time for a boy of ten years old to spend in letters is three  years; the age of thirteen is the proper time for him to begin to handle  the lyre, and he may continue at this for another three years, neither  more nor less, and whether his father or himself like or dislike the  study, he is not to be allowed to spend more or less time in learning  music than the law allows. And let him who disobeys the law be deprived  of those youthful honours of which we shall hereafter speak. Hear,  however, first of all, what the young ought to learn in the early years  of life, and what their instructors ought to teach them. They ought to  be occupied with their letters until they are to read and write; but the  acquisition of perfect beauty or quickness in writinig, if nature has  not stimulated them to acquire these accomplishments in the given number  of years, they should let alone. And as to the learning of compositions  committed to writing which are not set to the lyre, whether metrical or  without rhythmical divisions, compositions in prose, as they are termed,  having no rhythm or harmony — seeing how dangerous are the writings  handed down to us by many writers of this class — what will you do with  them, O most excellent guardians of the law? or how can the lawgiver  rightly direct you about them? I believe that he will be in great  difficulty.


Cle. What troubles you, Stranger? and why are you so perplexed in your  mind?


Ath. You naturally ask, Cleinias, and to you and Megillus, who are my  partners in the work of legislation, I must state the more difficult as  well as the easier parts of the task.


Cle. To what do you refer in this instance?


Ath. I will tell you. There is a difficulty in opposing many myriads of  mouths.


Cle. Well, and have we not already opposed the popular voice in many  important enactments?


Ath. That is quite true; and you mean to imply, that the road which we  are taking may be disagreeable to some but is agreeable to as many  others, or if not to as many, at any rate to persons not inferior to the  others, and in company with them you bid me, at whatever risk, to  proceed along the p


Ath. of legislation which has opened out of our present discourse, and  to be of good cheer, and not to faint.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And I do not faint; I say, indeed, that we have a great many poets  writing in hexameter, trimeter, and all sorts of measures — some who are  serious, others who aim only at raising a laugh — and all mankind  declare that the youth who are rightly educated should be brought up in  them and saturated with them; some insist that they should be constantly  hearing them read aloud, and always learning them, so as to get by heart  entire poets; while others select choice passages and long speeches, and  make compendiums of them, saying that these ought to be committed to  memory, if a man is to be made good and wise by experience and learning  of many things. And you want me now to tell them plainly in what they  are right and in what they are wrong.


Cle. Yes, I do.


Ath. But how can I in one word rightly comprehend all of them? I am of  opinion, and, if I am not mistaken, there is a general agreement, that  every one of these poets has said many things well and many things the  reverse of well; and if this be true, then I do affirm that much  learning is dangerous to youth.


Cle. How would you advise the guardian of the law to act?


Ath. In what respect?


Cle. I mean to what pattern should he look as his guide in permitting  the young to learn some things and forbidding them to learn others. Do  not shrink from answering.


Ath. My good Cleinias, I rather think that I am fortunate.


Cle. How so?


Ath. I think that I am not wholly in want of a pattern, for when I  consider the words which we have spoken from early dawn until now, and  which, as I believe, have been inspired by Heaven, they appear to me to  be quite like a poem. When I reflected upon all these words of ours. I  naturally felt pleasure, for of all the discourses which I have ever  learnt or heard, either in poetry or prose, this seemed to me to be the  justest, and most suitable for young men to hear; I cannot imagine any  better pattern than this which the guardian of the law who is also the  director of education can have. He cannot do better than advise the  teachers to teach the young these words and any which are of a like  nature, if he should happen to find them, either in poetry or prose, or  if he come across unwritten discourses akin to ours, he should certainly  preserve them, and commit them to writing. And, first of all, he shall  constrain the teachers themselves to learn and approve them, and any of  them who will not, shall not be employed by him, but those whom he finds  agreeing in his judgment, he shall make use of and shall commit to them  the instruction and education of youth. And here and on this wise let my  fanciful tale about letters and teachers of letters come to an end.


Cle. I do not think, Stranger, that we have wandered out of the proposed  limits of the argument; but whether we are right or not in our whole  conception, I cannot be very certain.


Ath. The truth, Cleinias, may be expected to become clearer when, as we  have often said, we arrive at the end of the whole discussion about  laws.


Cle. Yes.


Ath. And now that we have done with the teacher of letters, the teacher  of the lyre has to receive orders from us.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. I think that we have only to recollect our previous discussions,  and we shall be able to give suitable regulations touching all this part  of instruction and education to the teachers of the lyre.


Cle. To what do you refer?


Ath. We were saying, if I remember rightly, that the sixty-year-old  choristers of Dionysus were to be specially quick in their perceptions  of rhythm and musical composition, that they might be able to  distinguish good and bad imitation, that is to say, the imitation of the  good or bad soul when under the influence of passion, rejecting the one  and displaying the other in hymns and songs, charming the souls of  youth, and inviting them to follow and attain virtue by the way of  imitation.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And with this view, the teacher and the learner ought to use the  sounds of the lyre, because its notes are pure, the player who teaches  and his pupil rendering note for note in unison; but complexity, and  variation of notes, when the strings give one sound and the poet or  composer of the melody gives another — also when they make concords and  harmonies in which lesser and greater intervals, slow and quick, or high  and low notes, are combined — or, again, when they make complex  variations of rhythms, which they adapt to the notes of the lyre — all  that sort of thing is not suited to those who have to acquire a speedy  and useful knowledge of music in three years; for opposite principles  are confusing, and create a difficulty in learning, and our young men  should learn quickly, and their mere necessary acquirements are not few  or trifling, as will be shown in due course. Let the director of  education attend to the principles concerning music which we are laying  down. As to the songs and words themselves which the masters of choruses  are to teach and the character of them, they have been already described  by us, and are the same which, when consecrated and adapted to the  different festivals, we said were to benefit cities by affording them an  innocent amusement.


Cle. That, again, is true.


Ath. Then let him who has been elected a director of music receive these  rules from us as containing the very truth; and may he prosper in his  office! Let us now proceed to lay down other rules in addition to the  preceding about dancing and gymnastic exercise in general. Having said  what remained to be said about the teaching of music, let us speak in  like manner about gymnastic. For boys and girls ought to learn to dance  and practise gymnastic exercisesought they not?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Then the boys ought to have dancing masters, and the girls dancing  mistresses to exercise them.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Then once more let us summon him who has the chief concern in the  business, the superintendent of youth [i.e., the director of education];  he will have plenty to do, if he is to have the charge of music and  gymnastic.


Cle. But how will old man be able to attend to such great charges?


Ath. O my friend, there will be no difficulty, for the law has already  given and will give him permission to select as his assistants in this  charge any citizens, male or female, whom he desires; and he will know  whom he ought to choose, and will be anxious not to make a mistake, from  a due sense of responsibility, and from a consciousness of the  importance of his office, and also because he will consider that if  young men have been and are well brought up, then all things go  swimmingly, but if not, it is not meet to say, nor do we say, what will  follow, lest the regarders of omens should take alarm about our infant  state. Many things have been said by us about dancing and about  gymnastic movements in general; for we include under gymnastics all  military exercises, such as archery, and all hurling of weapons, and the  use of the light shield, and all fighting with heavy arms, and military  evolutions, and movements of armies, and encampings, and all that  relates to horsemanship. Of all these things there ought to be public  teachers, receiving pay from the state, and their pupils should be the  men and boys in the state, and also the girls and women, who are to know  all these things. While they are yet girls they should have practised  dancing in arms and the whole art of fighting — when grown-up women,  they should apply themselves to evolutions and tactics, and the mode of  grounding and taking up arms; if for no other reason, yet in case the  whole military force should have to leave the city and carry on  operations of war outside, that those who will have to guard the young  and the rest of the city may be equal to the task; and, on the other  hand, when enemies, whether barbarian or Hellenic, come from without  with mighty force and make a violent assault upon them, and thus compel  them to fight for the possession of the city, which is far from being an  impossibility, great would be the disgrace to the state, if the women  had been so miserably trained that they could not fight for their young,  as birds will, against any creature however strong, and die or undergo  any danger, but must instantly rush to the temples and crowd at the  altars and shrines, and bring upon human nature the reproach, that of  all animals man is the most cowardly!


Cle. Such a want of education, Stranger, is certainly an unseemly thing  to happen in a state, as well as a great misfortune.


Ath. Suppose that we carry our law to the extent of saying that women  ought not to neglect military matters, but that all citizens, male and  female alike, shall attend to them?


Cle. I quite agree.


Ath. Of wrestling we have spoken in part, but of what I should call the  most important part we have not spoken, and cannot easily speak without  showing at the same time by gesture as well as in word what we mean;  when word and action combine, and not till then, we shall explain  clearly what has been said, pointing out that of all movements wrestling  is most akin to the military art, and is to be pursued for the sake of  this, and not this for the sake of wrestling.


Cle. Excellent.


Ath. Enough of wrestling; we will now proceed to speak of other  movements of the body. Such motion may be in general called dancing, and  is of two kinds: one of nobler figures, imitating the honourable, the  other of the more ignoble figures, imitating the mean; and of both these  there are two further subdivisions. Of the serious, one kind is of those  engaged in war and vehement action, and is the exercise of a noble  person and a manly heart; the other exhibits a temperate soul in the  enjoyment of prosperity and modest pleasures, and may be truly called  and is the dance of peace. The warrior dance is different from the  peaceful one, and may be rightly termed Pyrrhic; this imitates the modes  of avoiding blows and missiles by dropping or giving way, or springing  aside, or rising up or falling down; also the opposite postures which  are those of action, as, for example, the imitation of archery and the  hurling of javelins, and of all sorts of blows. And when the imitation  is of brave bodies and souls, and the action is direct and muscular,  giving for the most part a straight movement to the limbs of the body —  that, I say, is the true sort; but the opposite is not right. In the  dance of peace what we have to consider is whether a man bears himself  naturally and gracefully, and after the manner of men who duly conform  to the law. But before proceeding I must distinguish the dancing about  which there is any doubt, from that about which there is no doubt. Which  is the doubtful kind, and how are the two to be distinguished?


There are dances of the Bacchic sort, both those in which, as they say,  they imitate drunken men, and which are named after the Nymphs, and Pan,  and Silenuses, and Satyrs; and also those in which purifications are  made or mysteries celebrated — all this sort of dancing cannot be  rightly defined as having either a peaceful or a warlike character, or  indeed as having any meaning whatever and may, I think, be most truly  described as distinct from the warlike dance, and distinct from the  peaceful, and not suited for a city at all. There let it lie; and so  leaving it to lie, we will proceed to the dances of war and peace, for  with these we are undoubtedly concerned. Now the unwarlike muse, which  honours in dance the Gods and the sons of the Gods, is entirely  associated with the consciousness of prosperity; this class may be  subdivided into two lesser classes, of which one is expressive of an  escape from some labour or danger into good, and has greater pleasures,  the other expressive of preservation and increase of former good, in  which the pleasure is less exciting; — in all these cases, every man  when the pleasure is greater, moves his body more, and less when the  pleasure is less; and, again, if he be more orderly and has learned  courage from discipline he waves less, but if he be a coward, and has no  training or self-control, he makes greater and more violent movements,  and in general when he is speaking or singing he is not altogether able  to keep his body still; and so out of the imitation of words in gestures  the whole art of dancing has arisen. And in these various kinds of  imitation one man moves in an orderly, another in a disorderly manner;  and as the ancients may be observed to have given many names which are  according to nature and deserving of praise, so there is an excellent  one which they have given to the dances of men who in their times of  prosperity are moderate in their pleasures — the giver of names, whoever  he was, assigned to them a very true, and poetical, and rational name,  when he called them Emmeleiai, or dances of order, thus establishing two  kinds of dances of the nobler sort, the dance of war which he called the  Pyrrhic, and the dance of peace which he called Emmeleia, or the dance  of order; giving to each their appropriate and becoming name. These  things the legislator should indicate in general outline, and the  guardian of the law should enquire into them and search them out,  combining dancing with music, and assigning to the several sacrificial  feasts that which is suitable to them; and when he has consecrated all  of them in due order, he shall for the future change nothing, whether of  dance or song.


Thenceforward the city and the citizens shall continue to have the same  pleasures, themselves being as far as possible alike, and shall live  well and happily.


I have described the dances which are appropriate to noble bodies and  generous souls. But it is necessary also to consider and know uncomely  persons and thoughts, and those which are intended to produce laughter  in comedy, and have a comic character in respect of style, song, and  dance, and of the imitations which these afford.


For serious things cannot be understood without laughable things, nor  opposites at all without opposites, if a man is really to have  intelligence of either; but he can not carry out both in action, if he  is to have any degree of virtue. And for this very reason he should  learn them both, in order that he may not in ignorance do or say  anything which is ridiculous and out of place — he should command slaves  and hired strangers to imitate such things, but he should never take any  serious interest in them himself, nor should any freeman or freewoman be  discovered taking pains to learn them; and there should always be some  element of novelty in the imitation. Let these then be laid down, both  in law and in our discourse, as the regulations of laughable amusements  which are generally called comedy. And, if any of the serious poets, as  they are termed, who write tragedy, come to us and say — “O strangers,  may we go to your city and country or may we not, and shall we bring  with us our poetry — what is your will about these matters?” —how shall  we answer the divine men? I think that our answer should be as follows:  Best of strangers, we will say to them, we also according to our ability  are tragic poets, and our tragedy is the best and noblest; for our whole  state is an imitation of the best and noblest life, which we affirm to  be indeed the very truth of tragedy. You are poets and we are poets,  both makers of the same strains, rivals and antagonists in the noblest  of dramas, which true law can alone perfect, as our hope is. Do not then  suppose that we shall all in a moment allow you to erect your stage in  the agora, or introduce the fair voices of your actors, speaking above  our own, and permit you to harangue our women and children, and the  common people, about our institutions, in language other than our own,  and very often the opposite of our own. For a state would be mad which  gave you this licence, until the magistrates had determined whether your  poetry might be recited, and was fit for publication or not. Wherefore,  O ye sons and scions of the softer Muses, first of all show your songs  to the magistrates, and let them compare them with our own, and if they  are the same or better we will give you a chorus; but if not, then, my  friends, we cannot. Let these, then, be the customs ordained by law  about all dances and the teaching of them, and let matters relating to  slaves be separated from those relating to masters, if you do not  object.


Cle. We can have no hesitation in assenting when you put the matter  thus.


Ath. There still remain three studies suitable for freemen. Arithmetic  is one of them; the measurement of length, surface, and depth is the  second; and the third has to do with the revolutions of the stars in  relation to one another. Not every one has need to toil through all  these things in a strictly scientific manner, but only a few, and who  they are to be we will hereafter indicate at the end, which will be the  proper place; not to know what is necessary for mankind in general, and  what is the truth, is disgraceful to every one: and yet to enter into  these matters minutely is neither easy, nor at all possible for every  one; but there is something in them which is necessary and cannot be set  aside, and probably he who made the proverb about God originally had  this in view when he said, that “not even God himself can fight against  necessity”; — he meant, if I am not mistaken, divine necessity; for as  to the human necessities of which the many speak, when they talk in this  manner, nothing can be more ridiculous than such an application of the  words.


Cle. And what necessities of knowledge are there, Stranger, which are  divine and not human?


Ath. I conceive them to be those of which he who has no use nor any  knowledge at all cannot be a God, or demi-god, or hero to mankind, or  able to take any serious thought or charge of them. And very unlike a  divine man would he be, who is unable to count one, two, three, or to  distinguish odd and even numbers, or is unable to count at all, or  reckon night and day, and who is totally unacquainted with the  revolution of the sun and moon, and the other stars. There would be  great folly in supposing that all these are not necessary parts of  knowledge to him who intends to know anything about the highest kinds of  knowledge; but which these are, and how many there are of them, and when  they are to be learned, and what is to be learned together and what  apart, and the whole correlation of them, must be rightly apprehended  first; and these leading the way we may proceed to the other parts of  knowledge. For so necessity grounded in nature constrains us, against  which we say that no God contends, or ever will contend.


Cle. I think, Stranger, that what you have now said is very true and  agreeable to nature.


Ath. Yes, Cleinias, that is so. But it is difficult for the legislator  to begin with these studies; at a more convenient time we will make  regulations for them.


Cle. You seem, Stranger, to be afraid of our habitual ignorance of the  subject: there is no reason why that should prevent you from speaking  out.


Ath. I certainly am afraid of the difficulties to which you allude, but  I am still more afraid of those who apply themselves to this sort of  knowledge, and apply themselves badly. For entire ignorance is not so  terrible or extreme an evil, and is far from being the greatest of all;  too much cleverness and too much learning, accompanied with an ill  bringing up, are far more fatal.


Cle. True.


Ath. All freemen, I conceive, should learn as much of these branches of  knowledge as every child in Egypt is taught when he learns the alphabet.  In that country arithmetical games have been invented for the use of  mere children, which they learn as a pleasure and amusement. They have  to distribute apples and garlands, using the same number sometimes for a  larger and sometimes for a lesser number of persons; and they arrange  pugilists, and wrestlers as they pair together by lot or remain over,  and show how their turns come in natural order. Another mode of amusing  them is to distribute vessels, sometimes of gold, brass, silver, and the  like, intermixed with one another, sometimes of one metal only; as I was  saying they adapt to their amusement the numbers in common use, and in  this way make more intelligible to their pupils the arrangements and  movements of armies and expeditions, in the management of a household  they make people more useful to themselves, and more wide awake; and  again in measurements of things which have length, and breadth, and  depth, they free us from that natural ignorance of all these things  which is so ludicrous and disgraceful.


Cle. What kind of ignorance do you mean?


Ath. O my dear Cleinias, I, like yourself, have late in life heard with  amazement of our ignorance in these matters; to me we appear to be more  like pigs than men, and I am quite ashamed, not only of myself, but of  all Hellenes.


Cle. About what? Say, Stranger, what you mean.


Ath. I will; or rather I will show you my meaning by a question, and do  you please to answer me: You know, I suppose, what length is?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And what breadth is?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And you know that these are two distinct things, and that there is  a third thing called depth?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. And do not all these seem to you to be commensurable with  themselves?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. That is to say, length is naturally commensurable with length, and  breadth with breadth, and depth in like manner with depth?


Cle. Undoubtedly.


Ath. But if some things are commensurable and others wholly  incommensurable, and you think that all things are commensurable, what  is your position in regard to them?


Cle. Clearly, far from good.


Ath. Concerning length and breadth when compared with depth, or breadth  when and length when compared with one another, are not all the Hellenes  agreed that these are commensurable with one in some way?


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. But if they are absolutely incommensurable, and yet all of us  regard them as commensurable, have we not reason to be ashamed of our  compatriots; and might we not say to them: O ye best of Hellenes, is not  this one of the things of which we were saying that not to know them is  disgraceful, and of which to have a bare knowledge only is no great  distinction?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And there are other things akin to these, in which there spring up  other errors of the same family.


Cle. What are they?


Ath. The natures of commensurable and incommensurable quantities in  their relation to one another. A man who is good for a thing ought to be  able, when he thinks, to distinguish them; and different persons should  compete with one another in asking questions, which will be a fair,  better and more graceful way of passing their time than the old man’s  game of draughts.


Cle. I dare say; and these pastimes are not so very unlike a game of  draughts.


Ath. And these, as I maintain, Cleinias, are the studies which our youth  ought to learn, for they are innocent and not difficult; the learning of  them will be an amusement, and they will benefit the state. If anyone is  of another mind, let him say what he has to say.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then if these studies are such as we maintain we will include them;  if not, they shall be excluded.


Cle. Assuredly: but may we not now, Stranger, prescribe these studies as  necessary, and so fill up the lacunae of our laws?


Ath. They shall be regarded as pledges which may be hereafter redeemed  and removed from our state, if they do not please either us who give  them, or you who accept them.


Cle. A fair condition.


Ath. Next let us see whether we are or are not willing that the study of  astronomy shall be proposed for our youth.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. Here occurs a strange phenomenon, which certainly cannot in any  point of view be tolerated.


Cle. To what are you referring?


Ath. Men say that we ought not to enquire into the supreme God and the  nature of the universe, nor busy ourselves in searching out the causes  of things, and that such enquiries are impious; whereas the very  opposite is the truth.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. Perhaps what I am saying may seem paradoxical, and at variance with  the usual language of age. But when any one has any good and true notion  which is for the advantage of the state and in every way acceptable to  God, he cannot abstain from expressing it.


Cle. Your words are reasonable enough; but shall we find any good or  true notion about the stars?


Ath. My good friends, at this hour all of us Hellenes tell lies, if I  may use such an expression, about those great Gods, the Sun and the  Moon.


Cle. Lies of what nature?


Ath. We say that they and divers other stars do not keep the same path,  and we call them planets or wanderers.


Cle. Very true, Stranger; and in the course of my life I have often  myself seen the morning star and the evening star and divers others not  moving in their accustomed course, but wandering out of their p


Ath. in all manner of ways, and I have seen the sun and moon doing what  we all know that they do.


Ath. Just so, Megillus and Cleinias; and I maintain that our citizens  and our youth ought to learn about the nature of the Gods in heaven, so  far as to be able to offer sacrifices and pray to them in pious  language, and not to blaspheme about them.


Cle. There you are right if such a knowledge be only attainable; and if  we are wrong in our mode of speaking now, and can be better instructed  and learn to use better language, then I quite agree with you that such  a degree of knowledge as will enable us to speak rightly should be  acquired by us. And now do you try to explain to us your whole meaning,  and we, on our part, will endeavour to understand you.


Ath. There is some difficulty in understanding my meaning, but not a  very great one, nor will any great length of time be required. And of  this I am myself a proof; for I did not know these things long ago, nor  in the days of my youth, and yet I can explain them to you in a brief  space of time; whereas if they had been difficult I could certainly  never have explained them all, old as I am, to old men like yourselves.


Cle. True; but what is this study which you describe as wonderful and  fitting for youth to learn, but of which we are ignorant? Try and  explain the nature of it to us as clearly as you can.


Ath. I will. For, O my good friends, that other doctrine about the  wandering of the sun and the moon and the other stars is not the truth,  but the very reverse of the truth. Each of them moves in the same path —  not in many paths, but in one only, which is circular, and the varieties  are only apparent. Nor are we right in supposing that the swiftest of  them is the slowest, nor conversely, that the slowest is the quickest.  And if what I say is true, only just imagine that we had a similar  notion about horses running at Olympia, or about men who ran in the long  course, and that we addressed the swiftest as the slowest and the  slowest as the swiftest, and sang the praises of the vanquished as  though he were the victor, — in that case our praises would not be true,  nor very agreeable to the runners, though they be but men; and now, to  commit the same error about the Gods which would have been ludicrous and  erroneous in the case of men — is not that ludicrous and erroneous?


Cle. Worse than ludicrous, I should say.


Ath. At all events, the Gods cannot like us to be spreading a false  report of them.


Cle. Most true, if such is the fact.


Ath. And if we can show that such is really the fact, then all these  matters ought to be learned so far as is necessary for the avoidance of  impiety; but if we cannot, they may be let alone, and let this be our  decision.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Enough of laws relating to education and learning. But hunting and  similar pursuits in like manner claim our attention. For the legislator  appears to have a duty imposed upon him which goes beyond mere  legislation. There is something over and above law which lies in a  region between admonition and law, and has several times occurred to us  in the course of discussion; for example, in the education of very young  children there were things, as we maintain, which are not to be defined,  and to regard them as matters of positive law is a great absurdity. Now,  our laws and the whole constitution of our state having been thus  delineated, the praise of the virtuous citizen is not complete when he  is described as the person who serves the laws best and obeys them most,  but the higher form of praise is that which describes him as the good  citizen who passes through life undefiled and is obedient to the words  of the legislator, both when he is giving laws and when he assigns  praise and blame. This is the truest word that can be spoken in praise  of a citizen; and the true legislator ought not only to write his laws,  but also to interweave with them all such things as seem to him  honourable and dishonourable. And the perfect citizen ought to seek to  strengthen these no less than the principles of law which are sanctioned  by punishments. I will adduce an example which will clear up my meaning,  and will be a sort of witness to my words. Hunting is of wide extent,  and has a name under which many things are included, for there is a  hunting of creatures in the water, and of creatures in the air, and  there is a great deal of hunting of land animals of all kinds, and not  of wild beasts only.


The hunting after man is also worthy of consideration; there is the  hunting after him in war, and there is often a hunting after him in the  way of friendship, which is praised and also blamed; and there is  thieving, and the hunting which is practised by robbers, and that of  armies against armies. Now the legislator, in laying down laws about  hunting, can neither abstain from noting these things, nor can he make  threatening ordinances which will assign rules and penalties about all  of them. What is he to do? He will have to praise and blame hunting with  a view to the exercise and pursuits of youth. And, on the other hand,  the young man must listen obediently; neither pleasure nor pain should  hinder him, and he should regard as his standard of action the praises  and injunctions of the legislator rather than the punishments which he  imposes by law.


This being premised, there will follow next in order moderate praise and  censure of hunting; the praise being assigned to that kind which will  make the souls of young men better, and the censure to that which has  the opposite effect.


And now let us address young men in the form of a prayer for their  welfare: O friends, we will say to them, may no desire or love of  hunting in the sea, or of angling or of catching the creatures in the  waters, ever take possession of you, either when you are awake or when  you are asleep, by hook or with weels, which latter is a very lazy  contrivance; and let not any desire of catching men and of piracy by sea  enter into your souls and make you cruel and lawless hunters. And as to  the desire of thieving in town or country, may it never enter into your  most passing thoughts; nor let the insidious fancy of catching birds,  which is hardly worthy of freemen, come into the head of any youth.  There remains therefore for our athletes only the hunting and catching  of land animals, of which the one sort is called hunting by night, in  which the hunters sleep in turn and are lazy; this is not to be  commended any more than that which has intervals of rest, in which the  will strength of beasts is subdued by nets and snares, and not by the  victory of a laborious spirit. Thus, only the best kind of hunting is  allowed at all — that of quadrupeds, which is carried on with horses and  dogs and men’s own persons, and they get the victory over the animals by  running them down and striking them and hurling at them, those who have  a care of godlike manhood taking them with their own hands. The praise  and blame which is assigned to all these things has now been declared;  and let the law be as follows: Let no one hinder these who verily are  sacred hunters from following the chase wherever and whither soever they  will; but the hunter by night, who trusts to his nets and gins, shall  not be allowed to hunt anywhere. The fowler in the mountains and waste  places shall be permitted, but on cultivated ground and on consecrated  wilds he shall not be permitted; and any one who meets him may stop him.  As to the hunter in waters, he may hunt anywhere except in harbours or  sacred streams or marshes or pools, provided only that he do not pollute  the water with poisonous juices. And now we may say that all our  enactments about education are complete.


Cle. Very good.





Athenian Stranger. Next, with the help of the Delphian oracle, we have  to institute festivals and make laws about them, and to determine what  sacrifices will be for the good of the city, and to what Gods they shall  be offered; but when they shall be offered, and how often, may be partly  regulated by us.


Cleinias. The number — yes.


Ath. Then we will first determine the number; and let the whole number  be 365 — one for every day — so that one magistrate at least will  sacrifice daily to some God or demi-god on behalf of the city, and the  citizens, and their possessions. And the interpreters, and priests, and  priestesses, and prophets shall meet, and, in company with the guardians  of the law, ordain those things which the legislator of necessity omits;  and I may remark that they are the very persons who ought to take note  of what is omitted. The law will say that there are twelve feasts  dedicated to the twelve Gods, after whom the several tribes are named;  and that to each of them they shall sacrifice every month, and appoint  choruses, and musical and gymnastic contests, assigning them so as to  suit the Gods and seasons of the year. And they shall have festivals for  women, distinguishing those which ought to be separated from the men’s  festivals, and those which ought not. Further, they shall not confuse  the infernal deities and their rites with the Gods who are termed  heavenly and their rites, but shall separate them, giving to Pluto his  own in the twelfth month, which is sacred to him, according to the law.  To such a deity warlike men should entertain no aversion, but they  should honour him as being always the best friend of man. For the  connection of soul and body is no way better than the dissolution of  them, as I am ready to maintain quite seriously. Moreover, those who  would regulate these matters rightly should consider, that our city  among existing cities has fellow, either in respect of leisure or comin  and of the necessaries of life, and that like an individual she ought to  live happily. And those who would live happily should in the first place  do no wrong to one another, and ought not themselves to be wronged by  others; to attain the first is not difficult, but there is great  difficulty, in acquiring the power of not being wronged. No man can be  perfectly secure against wrong, unless he has become perfectly good; and  cities are like individuals in this, for a city if good has a life of  peace, but if evil, a life of war within and without.


Wherefore the citizens ought to practise war — not in time of war, but  rather while they are at peace. And every city which has any sense,  should take the field at least for one day in every month; and for more  if the magistrates think fit, having no regard to winter cold or summer  heat; and they should go out en masse, including their wives and their  children, when the magistrates determine to lead forth the whole people,  or in separate portions when summoned by them; and they should always  provide that there should be games and sacrificial feasts, and they  should have tournaments, imitating in as lively a manner as they can  real battles. And they should distribute prizes of victory and valour to  the competitors, passing censures and encomiums on one another according  to the characters which they bear in the contests and their whole life,  honouring him who seems to be the best, and blaming him who is the  opposite. And let poets celebrate the victors — not however every poet,  but only one who in the first place is not less than fifty years of age;  nor should he be one who, although he may have musical and poetical  gifts, has never in his life done any noble or illustrious action; but  those who are themselves good and also honourable in the state, creators  of noble actions — let their poems be sung, even though they be not very  musical. And let the judgment of them rest with the instructor of youth  and the other guardians of the laws, who shall give them this privilege,  and they alone shall be free to sing; but the rest of the world shall  not have this liberty.


Nor shall any one dare to sing a song which has not been approved by the  judgment of the guardians of the laws, not even if his strain be sweeter  than the songs of Thamyras and Orpheus; but only such poems as have been  judged sacred and dedicated to the Gods, and such as are the works of  good men, which praise of blame has been awarded and which have been  deemed to fulfil their design fairly.


The regulations about liberty of speech in poetry, ought to apply  equally to men and women. The legislator may be supposed to argue the  question in his own mind: Who are my citizens for whom I have set in  order the city? Are they not competitors in the greatest of all  contests, and have they not innumerable rivals? To be sure, will be the  natural, reply. Well, but if we were training boxers, or pancratiasts,  or any other sort of athletes, would they never meet until the hour of  contest arrived; and should we do nothing to prepare ourselves  previously by daily practice? Surely, if we were boxers we should have  been learning to fight for many days before, and exercising ourselves in  imitating all those blows and wards which we were intending to use in  the hour of conflict; and in order that we might come as near to reality  as possible, instead of cestuses we should put on boxing gloves, that  the blows and the wards might be practised by us to the utmost of our  power. And if there were a lack of competitors, the ridicule of fools  would ryot deter us from hanging up a lifeless image and practising at  that. Or if we had no adversary at all, animate or inanimate, should we  not venture in the dearth of antagonists to spar by ourselves? In what  other manner could we ever study the art of self-defence?


Cle. The way which you mention Stranger, would be the only way.


Ath. And shall the warriors of our city, who are destined when occasion  calli to enter the greatest of all contests, and to fight for their  lives, and their children, and their property, and the whole city, be  worse prepared than boxers? And will the legislator, because he is  afraid that their practising with one another may appear to some  ridiculous, abstain from commanding them to go out and fight; will he  not ordain that soldiers shall perform lesser exercises without arms  every day, making dancing and all gymnastic tend to this end; and also  will he not require that they shall practise some gymnastic exercises,  greater as well as lesser, as often as every month; and that they shall  have contests one with another in every part of the country, seizing  upon posts and lying in ambush, and imitating in every respect the  reality of war; fighting with boxing-gloves and hurling javelins, and  using weapons somewhat dangerous, and as nearly as possible like the  true ones, in order that the sport may not be altogether without fear,  but may have terrors and to a certain degree show the man who has and  who has not courage; and that the honour and dishonour which are  assigned to them respectively, may prepare the whole city for the true  conflict of life? If any one dies in these mimic contests, the homicide  is involuntary, and we will make the slayer, when he has been purified  according to law, to be pure of blood, considering that if a few men  should die, others as good as they will be born; but that if fear is  dead then the citizens will never find a test of superior and inferior  natures, which is a far greater evil to the state than the loss of a  few.


Cle. We are quite agreed, Stranger, that we should legislate about such  things, and that the whole state should practise them supposed


Ath. And what is the reason that dances and contests of this sort hardly  ever exist in states, at least not to any extent worth speaking of? Is  this due to the ignorance of mankind and their legislators?


Cle. Perhaps.


Ath. Certainly not, sweet Cleinias; there are two causes, which are  quite enough to account for the deficiency.


Cle. What are they?


Ath. One cause is the love of wealth, which wholly absorbs men, and  never for a moment allows them to think of anything but their own  private possessions; on this the soul of every citizen hangs suspended,  and can attend to nothing but his daily gain; mankind are ready to learn  any branch of knowledge, and to follow any pursuit which tends to this  end, and they laugh at every other: that is one reason why a city will  not be in earnest about such contests or any other good and honourable  pursuit. But from an insatiable love of gold and silver, every man will  stoop to any art or contrivance, seemly or unseemly, in the hope of  becoming rich; and will make no objection to performing any action,  holy, or unholy and utterly base, if only like a beast he have the power  of eating and drinking all kinds of things, and procuring for himself in  every sort of way the gratification of his lusts.


Cle. True.


Ath. Let this, then, be deemed one of the causes which prevent states  from pursuing in an efficient manner the art of war, or any other noble  aim, but makes the orderly and temperate part of mankind into merchants,  and captains of ships, and servants, and converts the valiant sort into  thieves and burglars and robbers of temples, and violent, tyrannical  persons; many of whom are not without ability, but they are unfortunate.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. Must not they be truly unfortunate whose souls are compelled to  pass through life always hungering?


Cle. Then that is one cause, Stranger; but you spoke of another.


Ath. Thank you for reminding me.


Cle. The insatiable life long love of wealth, as you were saying is one  clause which absorbs mankind, and prevents them from rightly practising  the arts of war: Granted; and now tell me, what is the other?


Ath. Do you imagine that I delay because I am in a perplexity?


Cle. No; but we think that you are too severe upon the money-loving  temper, of which you seem in the present discussion to have a peculiar  dislike.


Ath. That is a very fair rebuke, Cleinias; and I will now proceed to the  second cause.


Cle. Proceed.


Ath. I say that governments are a cause — democracy, oligarchy, tyranny,  concerning which I have often spoken in the previous discourse; or  rather governments they are not, for none of them exercises a voluntary  rule over voluntary subjects; but they may be truly called states of  discord, in which while the government is voluntary, the subjects always  obey against their will, and have to be coerced; and the ruler fears the  subject, and will not, if he can help, allow him to become either noble,  or rich, or strong, or valiant, or warlike at all. These two are the  chief causes of almost all evils, and of the evils of which I have been  speaking they are notably the causes. But our state has escaped both of  them; for her citizens have the greatest leisure, and they are not  subject to one another, and will, I think, be made by these laws the  reverse of lovers of money. Such a constitution may be reasonably  supposed to be the only one existing which will accept the education  which we have described, and the martial pastimes which have been  perfected according to our idea.


Cle. True.


Ath. Then next we must remember, about all gymnastic contests, that only  the warlike sort of them are to be practised and to have prizes of  victory; and those which are not military are to be given up. The  military sort had better be completely described and established by law;  and first, let us speak of running and swiftness.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Certainly the most military of all qualities is general activity of  body, whether of foot or hand. For escaping or for capturing an enemy,  quickness of foot is required; but hand-to-hand conflict and combat need  vigour and strength.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Neither of them can attain their greatest efficiency without arms.


Cle. How can they?


Ath. Then our herald, in accordance with the prevailing practice, will  first summon the runner; — he will appear armed, for to an unarmed  competitor we will not give a prize. And he shall enter first who is to  run the single course bearing arms; next, he who is to run the double  course; third, he who is to run the horse-course; and fourthly, he who  is to run the long course; the fifth whom we start, shall be the first  sent forth in heavy armour, and shall run a course of sixty stadia to  some temple of Ares — and we will send forth another, whom we will style  the more heavily armed, to run over smoother ground. There remains the  archer; and he shall run in the full equipments of an archer a distance  of 100 stadia over mountains, and across every sort of country, to a  temple of Apollo and Artemis; this shall be the order of the contest,  and we will wait for them until they return, and will give a prize to  the conqueror in each.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Let us suppose that there are three kinds of contests — one of  boys, another of beardless youths, and a third of men. For the youths we  will fix the length of the contest at two-thirds, and for the boys at  half of the entire course, whether they contend as archers or as heavy  armed. Touching the women, let the girls who are not grown up compete  naked in the stadium and the double course, and the horse-course and the  long course, and let them run on the raceground itself; those who are  thirteen years of age and upwards until their marriage shall continue to  share in contests if they are not more than twenty, and shall be  compelled to run up to eighteen; and they shall descend into the arena  in suitable dresses. Let these be the regulations about contests in  running both for men and women.


Respecting contests of strength, instead of wrestling and similar  contests of the heavier sort, we will institute conflicts in armour of  one against one, and two against two, and so on up to ten against ten.  As to what a man ought not to suffer or do, and to what extent, in order  to gain the victory — as in wrestling, the masters of the art have laid  down what is fair and what is not fair, so in fighting in armour — we  ought to call in skilful persons, who shall judge for us and be our  assessors in the work of legislation; they shall say who deserves to be  victor in combats of this sort, and what he is not to do or have done to  him, and in like manner what rule determines who is defeated; and let  these ordinances apply to women until they married as well as to men.  The pancration shall have a counterpart in a combat of the light armed;  they shall contend with bows and with light shields and with javelins  and in the throwing of stones by slings and by hand: and laws shall be  made about it, and rewards and prizes given to him who best fulfils the  ordinances of the law.


Next in order we shall have to legislate about the horse contests.


Now we do not need many horses, for they cannot be of much use in a  country like Crete, and hence we naturally do not take great pains about  the rearing of them or about horse races. There is no one who keeps a  chariot among us, and any rivalry in such matters would be altogether  out of place; there would be no sense nor any shadow of sense in  instituting contests which are not after the manner of our country. And  therefore we give our prizes for single horses — for colts who have not  yet cast their teeth, and for those who are intermediate, and for the  full-grown horses themselves; and thus our equestrian games will accord  with the nature of the country. Let them have conflict and rivalry in  these matters in accordance with the law, and let the colonels and  generals of horse decide together about all courses and about the armed  competitors in them. But we have nothing to say to the unarmed either in  gymnastic exercises or in these contests. On the other hand, the Cretan  bowman or javelin-man who fights in armour on horseback is useful, and  therefore we may as well place a competition of this sort among  amusements. Women are not to be forced to compete by laws and  ordinances; but if from previous training they have acquired the habit  and are strong enough and like to take part, let them do so, girls as  well as boys, and no blame to them.


Thus the competition in gymnastic and the mode of learning it have been  described; and we have spoken also of the toils of the contest, and of  daily exercises under the superintendence of masters. Likewise, what  relates to music has been, for the most part, completed. But as to  rhapsodes and the like, and the contests of choruses which are to  perform at feasts, all this shall be arranged when the months and days  and years have been appointed for Gods and demi-gods, whether every  third year, or again every fifth year, or in whatever way or manner the  Gods may put into men’s minds the distribution and order of them. At the  same time, we may expect that the musical contests will be celebrated in  their turn by the command of the judges and the director of education  and the guardians of the law meeting together for this purpose, and  themselves becoming legislators of the times and nature and conditions  of the choral contests and of dancing in general. What they ought  severally to be in language and song, and in the admixture of harmony  with rhythm and the dance, has been often declared by the original  legislator; and his successors ought to follow him, making the games and  sacrifices duly to correspond at fitting times, and appointing public  festivals. It is not difficult to determine how these and the like  matters may have a regular order; nor, again, will the alteration of  them do any great good or harm to the state. There is, however, another  matter of great importance and difficulty, concerning which God should  legislate, if there were any possibility of obtaining from him an  ordinance about it. But seeing that divine aid is not to be had, there  appears to be a need of some bold man who specially honours plainness of  speech, and will say outright what he thinks best for the city and  citizens — ordaining what is good and convenient for the whole state  amid the corruptions of human souls, opposing the mightiest lusts, and  having no man his helper but himself standing alone and following reason  only.


Cle. What is this, Stranger, that you are saying? For we do not as yet  understand your meaning.


Ath. Very likely; I will endeavour to explain myself more clearly. When  I came to the subject of education, I beheld young men and maidens  holding friendly intercourse with one another. And there naturally arose  in my mind a sort of apprehension — I could not help thinking how one is  to deal with a city in which youths and maidens are well nurtured, and  have nothing to do, and are not undergoing the excessive and servile  toils which extinguish wantonness, and whose only cares during their  whole life are sacrifices and festivals and dances. How, in such a state  as this, will they abstain from desires which thrust many a man and  woman into perdition; and from which reason, assuming the functions of  law, commands them to abstain? The ordinances already made may possibly  get the better of most of these desires; the prohibition of excessive  wealth is a very considerable gain in the direction of temperance, and  the whole education of our youth imposes a law of moderation on them;  moreover, the eye of the rulers is required always to watch over the  young, and never to lose sight of them; and these provisions do, as far  as human means can effect anything, exercise a regulating influence upon  the desires in general. But how can we take precautions against the  unnatural loves of either sex, from which innumerable evils have come  upon individuals and cities? How shall we devise a remedy and way of  escape out of so great a danger? Truly, Cleinias, here is a difficulty.  In many ways Crete and Lacedaemon furnish a great help to those who make  peculiar laws; but in the matter of love, as we are alone, I must  confess that they are quite against us. For if any one following nature  should lay down the law which existed before the days of Laius, and  denounce these lusts as contrary to nature, adducing the animals as a  proof that such unions were monstrous, he might prove his point, but he  would be wholly at variance with the custom of your states.


Further, they are repugnant to a principle which we say that a  legislator should always observe; for we are always enquiring which of  our enactments tends to virtue and which not. And suppose we grant that  these loves are accounted by law to be honourable, or at least not  disgraceful, in what degree will they contribute to virtue?


Will such passions implant in the soul of him who is seduced the habit  of courage, or in the soul of the seducer the principle of temperance?  Who will ever believe this? — or rather, who will not blame the  effeminacy of him who yields to pleasures and is unable to hold out  against them? Will not all men censure as womanly him who imitates the  woman? And who would ever think of establishing such a practice by law?  Certainly no one who had in his mind the image of true law. How can we  prove, that what I am saying is true? He who would rightly consider  these matters must see the nature of friendship and desire, and of these  so-called loves, for they are of two kinds, and out of the two arises a  third kind, having the same name; and this similarity of name causes all  the difficulty and obscurity.


Cle. How is that?


Ath. Dear is the like in virtue to the like, and the equal to the equal;  dear also, though unlike, is he who has abundance to him who is in want.  And when either of these friendships becomes excessive, we term the  excess love.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. The friendship which arises from contraries is horrible and coarse,  and has often no tie of communion; but that which, arises from likeness  is gentle, and has a tie of communion which lasts through life. As to  the mixed sort which is made up of them both, there is, first of all, a  in determining what he who is possessed by this third love desires;  moreover, he is drawn different ways, and is in doubt between the two  principles; the one exhorting him to enjoy the beauty of youth, and the  other forbidding him. For the one is a lover of the body, and hungers  after beauty, like ripe fruit, and would fain satisfy himself without  any regard to the character of the beloved; the other holds the desire  of the body to be a secondary matter, and looking rather than loving and  with his soul desiring the soul of the other in a becoming manner,  regards the satisfaction of the bodily love as wantonness; he reverences  and respects temperance and courage and magnanimity and wisdom, and  wishes to live chastely with the chaste object of his affection. Now the  sort of love which is made up of the other two is that which we have  described as the third. Seeing then that there are these three sorts of  love, ought the law to prohibit and forbid them all to exist among us?  Is it not rather clear that we should wish to have in the state the love  which is of virtue and which desires the beloved youth to be the best  possible; and the other two, if possible, we should hinder? What do you  say, friend Megillus? Megillus I think, Stranger, that you are perfectly  right in what you have been now saying.


Ath. I knew well, my friend, that I should obtain your assent, which I  accept, and therefore have no need to analyse your custom any further.  Cleinias shall be prevailed upon to give me his assent at some other  time. Enough of this; and now let us proceed to the laws.


Meg. Very good.


Ath. Upon reflection I see a way of imposing the law, which, in one  respect, is easy, but, in another, is of the utmost difficulty.


Meg. What do you mean?


Ath. We are all aware that most men, in spite of their lawless natures,  are very strictly and precisely restrained from intercourse with the  fair, and this is not at all against their will, but entirely with their  will.


Meg. When do you mean?


Ath. When any one has a brother or sister who is fair; and about a son  or daughter the same unwritten law holds, and is a most perfect  safeguard, so that no open or secret connection ever takes place between  them. Nor does the thought of such a thing ever enter at all into the  minds of most of them.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. Does not a little word extinguish all pleasures of that sort?


Meg. What word?


Ath. The declaration that they are unholy, hated of God, and most  infamous; and is not the reason of this that no one has ever said the  opposite, but every one from his earliest childhood has heard men  speaking in the same manner about them always and everywhere, whether in  comedy or in the graver language of tragedy? When the poet introduces on  the stage a Thyestes or an Oedipus, or a Macareus having secret  intercourse with his sister, he represents him, when found out, ready to  kill himself as the penalty of his sin.


Meg. You are very right in saying that tradition, if no breath of  opposition ever assails it, has a marvellous power.


Ath. Am I not also right in saying that the legislator who wants to  master any of the passions which master man may easily know how to  subdue them? He will consecrate the tradition of their evil character  among all, slaves and freemen, women and children, throughout the city:  that will be the surest foundation of the law which he can make.


Meg. Yes; but will he ever succeed in making all mankind use the same  language about them?


Ath. A good objection; but was I not just now saying that I had a way to  make men use natural love and abstain from unnatural, not intentionally  destroying the seeds of human increase, or sowing them in stony places,  in which they will take no root; and that I would command them to  abstain too from any female field of increase in which that which is  sown is not likely to grow? Now if a law to this effect could only be  made perpetual, and gain an authority such as already prevents  intercourse of parents and children — such a law, extending to other  sensual desires, and conquering them, would be the source of ten  thousand blessings. For, in the first place, moderation is the  appointment of nature, and deters men from all frenzy and madness of  love, and from all adulteries and immoderate use of meats and drinks,  and makes them good friends to their own wives. And innumerable other  benefits would result if such a could only be enforced. I can imagine  some lusty youth who is standing by, and who, on hearing this enactment,  declares in scurrilous terms that we are making foolish and impossible  laws, and fills the world with his outcry. And therefore I said that I  knew a way of enacting and perpetuating such a law, which was very easy  in one respect, but in another most difficult. There is no difficulty in  seeing that such a law is possible, and in what way; for, as I was  saying, the ordinance once consecrated would master the soul of, every  man, and terrify him into obedience. But matters have now come to such a  pass that even then the desired result seems as if it could not be  attained, just as the continuance of an entire state in the practice of  common meals is also deemed impossible. And although this latter is  partly disproven by the fact of their existence among you, still even in  your cities the common meals of women would be regarded as unnatural and  impossible. I was thinking of the rebelliousness of the human heart when  I said that the permanent establishment of these things is very  difficult.


Meg. Very true.


Ath. Shall I try and find some sort of persuasive argument which will  prove to you that such enactments are possible, and not beyond human  nature?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Is a man more likely to abstain from the pleasures of love and to  do what he is bidden about them, when his body is in a good condition,  or when he is in an ill condition, and out of training?


Cle. He will be far more temperate when he is in training.


Ath. And have we not heard of Iccus of Tarentum, who, with a view to the  Olympic and other contests, in his zeal for his art, ind also because he  was of a manly and temperate disposition, never had any connection with  a woman or a youth during the whole time of his training? And the same  is said of Crison and Astylus and Diopompus and many others; and yet,  Cleinias, they were far worse educated in their minds than your and my  citizens, and in their bodies far more lusty.


Cle. No doubt this fact has been often affirmed positively by the  ancients of these athletes.


Ath. And had they; courage to abstain from what is ordinarilly deemed a  pleasure for the sake of a victory in wrestling, running, and the like;  and shall our young men be incapable of a similar endurance for the sake  of a much nobler victory, which is the noblest of all, as from their  youth upwards we will tell them, charming them, as we hope, into the  belief of this by tales and sayings and songs?


Cle. Of what victory are you speaking?


Ath. Of the victory over pleasure, which if they win, they will live  happily; or if they are conquered, the reverse of happily. And, further,  may we not suppose that the fear of impiety will enable them to master  that which other inferior people have mastered?


Cle. I dare say.


Ath. And since we have reached this point in our legislation, and have  fallen into a difficulty by reason of the vices of mankind, I affirm  that our ordinance should simply run in the following terms: Our  citizens ought not to fall below the nature of birds and beasts in  general, who are born in great multitudes, and yet remain until the age  for procreation virgin and unmarried, but when they have reached the  proper time of life are coupled, male and female, and lovingly pair  together, and live the rest of their lives in holiness and innocence,  abiding firmly in their original compact: surely, we will say to them,  you should be better than the animals.


But if they are corrupted by the other Hellenes and the common practice  of barbarians, and they see with their eyes and hear with their ears of  the so-called free love everywhere prevailing among them, and they  themselves are not able to get the better of the temptation, the  guardians of the law, exercising the functions of lawgivers, shall  devise a second law against them.


Cle. And what law would you advise them to pass if this one failed?


Ath. Clearly, Cleinias, the one which would naturally follow.


Cle. What is that?


Ath. Our citizens should not allow pleasures to strengthen with  indulgence, but should by toil divert the aliment and exuberance of them  into other parts of the body; and this will happen if no immodesty be  allowed in the practice of love. Then they will be ashamed of frequent  intercourse, and they will find pleasure, if seldom enjoyed, to be a  less imperious mistress. They should not be found out doing anything of  the sort. Concealment shall be honourable, and sanctioned by custom and  made law by unwritten prescription; on the other hand, to be detected  shall be esteemed dishonourable, but not, to abstain wholly. In this way  there will be a second legal standard of honourable and dishonourable,  involving a second notion of right. Three principles will comprehend all  those corrupt natures whom we call inferior to themselves, and who form  but one dass, and will compel them not to transgress.


Cle. What are they?


Ath. The principle of piety, the love of honour, and the desire of  beauty, not in the body but in the soul. These are, perhaps, romantic  aspirations; but they are the noblest of aspirations, if they could only  be realized in all states, and, God willing, in the matter of love we  may be able to enforce one of two things — either that no one shall  venture to touch any person of the freeborn or noble class except his  wedded wife, or sow the unconsecrated and bastard seed among harlots, or  in barren and unnatural lusts; or at least we may abolish altogether the  connection of men with men; and as to women, if any man has to do with  any but those who come into his house duly married by sacred rites,  whether they be bought or acquired in any other way, and he offends  publicly in the face of all mankind, we shall be right in enacting that  he be deprived of civic honours and privileges, and be deemed to be, as  he truly is, a stranger. Let this law, then, whether it is one, or ought  rather to be called two, be laid down respecting love in general, and  the intercourse of the sexes which arises out of the desires, whether  rightly or wrongly indulged.


Meg. I, for my part, Stranger, would gladly receive this law. Cleinias  shall speak for himself, and tell you what is his opinion.


Cle. I will, Megillus, when an opportunity offers; at present, I think  that we had better allow the Stranger to proceed with his laws.


Meg. Very good.


Ath. We had got about as far as the establishment of the common tables,  which in most places would be difficult, but in Crete no one would think  of introducing any other custom. There might arise a question about the  manner of them — whether they shall be such as they are here in Crete,  or such as they are in Lacedaemon, — or is there a third kind which may  be better than either of them? The answer to this question might be  easily discovered, but the discovery would do no great good, for at  present they are very well ordered.


Leaving the common tables, we may therefore proceed to the means of  providing food. Now, in cities the means of life are gained in many ways  and from divers sources, and in general from two sources, whereas our  city has only one. For most of the Hellenes obtain their food from sea  and land, but our citizens from land only. And this makes the task of  the legislator less difficult — half as many laws will be enough, and  much less than half; and they will be of a kind better suited to free  men. For he has nothing to do with laws about shipowners and merchants  and retailers and innkeepers and tax collectors and mines and  moneylending and compound interest and innumerable other things —  bidding good-bye to these, he gives laws to husbandmen and shepherds and  bee-keepers, and to the guardians and superintendents of their  implements; and he has already legislated for greater matters, as for  example, respecting marriage and the procreation and nurture of  children, and for education, and the establishment of offices — and now  he must direct his laws to those who provide food and labour in  preparing it.


Let us first of all, then, have a class of laws which shall be called  the laws of husbandmen. And let the first of them be the law of Zeus,  the god of boundaries. Let no one shift the boundary line either of a  fellow-citizen who is a neighbour, or, if he dwells at the extremity of  the land, of any stranger who is conterminous with him, considering that  this is truly “to move the immovable,” and every one should be more  willing to move the largest rock which is not a landmark, than the least  stone which is the sworn mark of friendship and hatred between  neighbours; for Zeus, the god of kindred, is the witness of the citizen,  and Zeus, the god of strangers, of the stranger, and when aroused,  terrible are the wars which they stir up. He who obeys the law will  never know the fatal consequences of disobedience, but he who despises  the law shall be liable to a double penalty, the first coming from the  Gods, and the second from the law. For let no one wilfully remove the  boundaries of his neighbour’s land, and if any one does, let him who  will inform the landowners, and let them bring him into court, and if he  be convicted of re-dividing the land by stealth or by force, let the  court determine what he ought to suffer or pay. In the next place, many  small injuries done by neighbours to one another, through their  multiplication, may cause a weight of enmity, and make neighbourhood a  very disagreeable and bitter thing.


Wherefore a man ought to be very careful of committing any offence  against his neighbour, and especially of encroaching on his neighbour’s  land; for any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to  another. He who encroaches on his neighbour’s land, and transgresses his  boundaries, shall make good the damage, and, to cure him of his  impudence and also of his meanness, he shall pay a double penalty to the  injured party. Of these and the like matters the wardens of the country  shall take cognizance, and be the judges of them and assessors of the  damage; in the more important cases, as has been already said, the whole  number of them belonging to any one of the twelve divisions shall  decide, and in the lesser cases the commanders: or, again, if any one  pastures his cattle on his neighbour’s land, they shall see the injury,  and adjudge the penalty. And if any one, by decoying the bees, gets  possession of another’s swarms, and draws them to himself by making  noises, he shall pay the damage; or if anyone sets fire to his own wood  and takes no care of his neighbour’s property, he shall be fined at the  discretion of the magistrates. And if in planting he does not leave a  fair distance between his own and his neighbour’s land, he shall be  punished, in accordance with the enactments of many law givers, which we  may use, not deeming it necessary that the great legislator of our state  should determine all the trifles which might be decided by any body; for  example, husbandmen have had of old excellent laws about waters, and  there is no reason why we should propose to divert their course: who  likes may draw water from the fountain-head of the common stream on to  his own land, if he do not cut off the spring which clearly belongs to  some other owner; and he may take the water in any direction which he  pleases, except through a house or temple or sepulchre, but he must be  careful to do no harm beyond the channel. And if there be in any place a  natural dryness of the earth, which keeps in the rain from heaven, and  causes a deficiency in the supply of water, let him dig down on his own  land as far as the clay, and if at this depth he finds no water, let him  obtain water from his neighbours, as much, as is required for his  servants’ drinking, and if his neighbours, too, are limited in their  supply, let him have a fixed measure, which shall be determined by the  wardens of the country. This he shall receive each day, and on these  terms have a share of his neighbours’ water. If there be heavy rain, and  one of those on the lower ground injures some tiller of the upper  ground, or some one who has a common wall, by refusing to give the man  outlet for water; or, again, if some one living on the higher ground  recklessly lets off the water on his lower neighbour, and they cannot  come to terms with one another, let him who will call in a warden of the  city, if he be in the city, or if he be in the country, warden of the  country, and let him obtain a decision determining what each of them is  to do. And he who will not abide by the decision shall suffer for his  malignant and morose temper, and pay a fine to the injured party,  equivalent to double the value of the injury, because he was unwilling  to submit to the magistrates.


Now the participation of fruits shall be ordered on this wise. The  goddess of Autumn has two gracious gifts: one, the joy of Dionysus which  is not treasured up; the other, which nature intends to be stored. Let  this be the law, then, concerning the fruits of autumn: He who tastes  the common or storing fruits of autumn, whether grapes or figs, before  the season of vintage which coincides with Arcturus, either on his own  land or on that of others — let him pay fifty drachmae, which shall be  sacred to Dionysus, if he pluck them from his own land; and if from his  neighbour’s land, a mina, and if from any others’, two-thirds of a mina.  And he who would gather the “choice” grapes or the “choice” figs, as  they are now termed, if he take them off his own land, let him pluck  them how and when he likes; but if he take them from the ground of  others without their leave, let him in that case be always punished in  accordance with the law which ordains that he should not move what he  has not laid down. And if a slave touches any fruit of this sort,  without the consent of the owner of the land, he shall be beaten with as  many blows as there are grapes on the bunch, or figs on the fig-tree.  Let a metic purchase the “choice” autumnal fruit, and then, if he  pleases, he may gather it; but if a stranger is passing along the road,  and desires to eat, let him take of the “choice” grapes for himself and  a single follower without payment, as a tribute of hospitality. The law  however forbids strangers from sharing in the sort which is not used for  eating; and if any one, whether he be master or slave, takes of them in  ignorance, let the slave be beaten, and the freeman dismissed with  admonitions, and instructed to take of the other autumnal fruits which  are unfit for making raisins and wine, or for laying by as dried figs.  As to pears, and apples, and pomegranates, and similar fruits, there  shall be no disgrace in taking them secretly; but he who is caught, if  he be of less than thirty years of age, shall be struck and beaten off,  but not wounded; and no freeman shall have any right of satisfaction for  such blows. Of these fruits the stranger may partake, just as he may of  the fruits of autumn. And if an elder, who is more than thirty years of  age, eat of them on the spot, let him, like the stranger, be allowed to  partake of all such fruits, but he must carry away nothing. If, however,  he will not obey the law, let him run risk of failing in the competition  of virtue, in case any one takes notice of his actions before the judges  at the time.


Water is the greatest element of nutrition in gardens, but is easily  polluted. You cannot poison the soil, or the soil, or the sun, or the  air, which are other elements of nutrition in plants, or divert them, or  steal them; but all these things may very likely happen in regard to  water, which must therefore be protected by law. And let this be the  law: If any one intentionally pollutes the water of another, whether the  water of a spring, or collected in reservoirs, either by poisonous  substances, or by digging or by theft, let the injured party bring the  cause before the wardens of the city, and claim in writing the value of  the loss; if the accused be found guilty of injuring the water by  deleterious substances, let him not only pay damages, but purify the  stream or the cistern which contains the water, in such manner as the  laws of the interpreters order the purification to be made by the  offender in each case.


With respect to the gathering in of the fruits of the soil, let a man,  if he pleases, carry his own fruits through any place in which he either  does no harm to any one, or himself gains three times as much as his  neighbour loses. Now of these things the magistrates should be  cognisant, as of all other things in which a man intentionally does  injury to another or to the property of another, by fraud or force, in  the use which he makes of his own property. All these matters a man  should lay before the magistrates, and receive damages, supposing the  injury to be not more than three minae; or if he have a charge against  another which involves a larger amount, let him bring his suit into the  public courts and have the evil-doer punished. But if any of the  magistrates appear to adjudge the penalties which he imposes in an  unjust spirit, let him be liable to pay double to the injured party. Any  one may bring the offences of magistrates, in any particular case,  before the public courts.


There are innumerable little matters relating to the modes of  punishment, and applications for suits, and summonses and the witnesses  to summonses — for example, whether two witnesses should be required for  a summons, or how many — and all such details, which cannot be omitted  in legislation, but are beneath the wisdom of an aged legislator. These  lesser matters, as they indeed are in comparison with the greater ones,  let a younger generation regulate by law, after the patterns which have  preceded, and according to their own experience of the usefulness and  necessity of such laws; and when they are duly regulated let there be no  alteration, but let the citizens live in the observance of them.


Now of artisans, let the regulations be as follows: In the first place,  let no citizen or servant of a citizen be occupied in handicraft arts;  for he who is to secure and preserve the public order of the state, has  an art which requires much study and many kinds of knowledge, and does  not admit of being made a secondary occupation; and hardly any human  being is capable of pursuing two professions or two arts rightly, or of  practising one art himself, and superintending some one else who is  practising another. Let this, then, be our first principle in the state:  No one who is a smith shall also be a carpenter, and if he be a  carpenter, he shall not superintend the smith’s art rather than his own,  under the pretext that in superintending many servants who are working  for him, he is likely to superintend them better, because more revenue  will accrue to him from them than from his own art; but let every man in  the state have one art, and get his living by that. Let the wardens of  the city labour to maintain this law, and if any citizen incline to any  other art than the study of virtue, let them punish him with disgrace  and infamy, until they bring him back into his own right course; and if  any stranger profess two arts, let them chastise him with bonds and  money penalties, and expulsion from the state, until they compel him to  be one only and not many.


But as touching payments for hire, and contracts of work, or in case any  one does wrong to any of the citizens or they do wrong to any other, up  to fifty drachmae, let the wardens of the city decide the case; but if  greater amount be involved, then let the public courts decide according  to law. Let no one pay any duty either on the importation or exportation  of goods; and as to frankincense and similar perfumes, used in the  service of the Gods, which come from abroad, and purple and other dyes  which are not produced in the country, or the materials of any art which  have to be imported, and which are not necessary — no one should import  them; nor again, should any one export anything which is wanted in the  country. Of all these things let there be inspectors and  superintendents, taken from the guardians of the law; and they shall be  the twelve next in order to the five seniors. Concerning arms, and all  implements which are for military purposes, if there be need of  introducing any art, or plant, or metal, or chains of any kind, or  animals for use in war, let the commanders of the horse and the generals  have authority over their importation and exportation; the city shall  send them out and also receive them, and the guardians of the law shall  make fit and proper laws about them. But let there be no retail trade  for the sake of money-making, either in these or any other articles, in  the city or country at all.


With respect to food and the distribution of the produce of the country,  the right and proper way seems to be nearly that which is the custom of  Crete; for all should be required to distribute the fruits of the soil  into twelve parts, and in this way consume them.


Let the twelfth portion of each (as for instance of wheat and barley, to  which the rest of the fruits of the earth shall be added, as well as the  animals which are for sale in each of the twelve divisions) be divided  in due proportion into three parts; one part for freemen, another for  their servants, and a third for craftsmen and in general for strangers,  whether sojourners who may be dwelling in the city, and like other men  must live, or those who come on some business which they have with the  state, or with some individual. Let only this third part of all  necessaries be required to be sold; out of the other two-thirds no one  shall be compelled to sell.


And how will they be best distributed? In the first place, we see  clearly that the distribution will be of equals in one point of view,  and in another point of view of unequals.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. I mean that the earth of necessity produces and nourishes the  various articles of food, sometimes better and sometimes worse.


Cle. Of course.


Ath. Such being the case, let no one of the three portions be greater  than either of the other two — neither that which is assigned to masters  or to slaves, nor again that of the stranger; but let the distribution  to all be equal and alike, and let every citizen take his two portions  and distribute them among slaves and freemen, he having power to  determine the quantity and quality. And what remains he shall distribute  by measure and numb among the animals who have to be sustained from the  earth, taking the whole number of them.


In the second place, our citizens should have separate houses duly  ordered, and this will be the order proper for men like them. There  shall be twelve hamlets, one in the middle of each twelfth portion, and  in each hamlet they shall first set apart a market-place, and the  temples of the Gods, and of their attendant demigods; and if there be  any local deities of the Magnetes, or holy seats of other ancient  deities, whose memory has been preserved, to these let them pay their  ancient honours. But Hestia, and Zeus, and Athene will have temples  everywhere together with the God who presides in each of the twelve  districts. And the first erection of houses shall be around these  temples, where the ground is highest, in order to provide the safest and  most defensible place of retreat for the guards.


All the rest of the country they shall settle in the following  manner:They shall make thirteen divisions of the craftsmen; one of them  they shall establish in the city, and this, again, they shall subdivide  into twelve lesser divisions, among the twelve districts of the city,  and the remainder shall be distributed in the country round about; and  in each village they shall settle various classes of craftsmen, with a  view to the convenience of the husbandmen. And the chief officers of the  wardens of the country shall superintend all these matters, and see how  many of them, and which class of them, each place requires; and fix them  where they are likely to be least troublesome, and most useful to the  husbandman. And the wardens of the city shall see to similar matters in  the city.


Now the wardens of the agora ought to see to the details of the agora.  Their first care, after the temples which are in the agora have been  seen to, should be to prevent any one from doing any in dealings between  man and man; in the second; place, as being inspectors of temperance and  violence, they should chastise him who requires chastisement. Touching  articles of gale, they should first see whether the articles which the  citizens are under regulations to sell to strangers are sold to them, as  the law ordains. And let the law be as follows: on the first day of the  month, the persons in charge, whoever they are, whether strangers or  slaves, who have the charge on behalf of the citizens, shall produce to  the strangers the portion which falls to them, in the first place, a  twelfth portion of the corn; — the stranger shall purchase corn for the  whole month, and other cereals, on the first market day; and on the  tenth day of the month the one party shall sell, and the other buy,  liquids sufficient to last during the whole month; and on the  twenty-third day there shall be a sale of animals by those who are  willing to sell to the people who want to buy, and of implements and  other things which husbandmen sell (such as skins and all kinds of  clothing, either woven or made of felt and other goods of the same  sort), and which strangers are compelled to buy and purchase of others.  As to the retail trade in these things, whether of barley or wheat set  apart for meal and flour, or any other kind of food, no one shall sell  them to citizens or their slaves, nor shall any one buy of a citizen;  but let the stranger sell them in the market of strangers, to artisans  and their slaves, making an exchange of wine and food, which is commonly  called retail trade. And butchers shall offer for sale parts of  dismembered animals to the strangers, and artisans, and their servants.  Let any stranger who likes buy fuel from day to day wholesale, from  those who have the care of it in the country, and let him sell to the  strangers as much he pleases and when he pleases.


As to other goods and implements which are likely to be wanted, they  shall sell them in common market, at any place which the guardians of  the law and the wardens of the market and city, choosing according to  their judgment, shall determine; at such places they shall exchange  money for goods, and goods for money, neither party giving credit to the  other; and he who gives credit must be satisfied, whether he obtain his  money not, for in such exchanges he will not be protected by law. But  whenever property has been bought or sold, greater in quantity or value  than is allowed by the law, which has determined within what limited a  man may increase and diminish his possessions, let the excess be  registered in the books of the guardians of the law; in case of  diminution, let there be an erasure made. And let the same rule be  observed about the registration of the property of the metics. Any one  who likes may come and be a metic on certain conditions; a foreigner, if  he likes, and is able to settle, may dwell in the land, but he must  practise an art, and not abide more than twenty years from the time at  which he has registered himself; and he shall pay no sojourner’s tax,  however small, except good conduct, nor any other tax for buying and  selling. But when the twenty years have expired, he shall take his  property with him and depart. And if in the course of these years he  should chance to distinguish himself by any considerable benefit which  he confers on the state, and he thinks that he can persuade the council  and assembly, either to grant him delay in leaving the country, or to  allow him to remain for the whole of his life, let him go and persuade  the city, and whatever they assent to at his instance shall take effect.  For the children of the metics, being artisans, and of fifteen years of  age, let the time of their sojourn commence after their fifteenth year;  and let them remain for twenty years, and then go where they like; but  any of them who wishes to remain, may do so, if he can persuade the  council and assembly. And if he depart, let him erase all the entries  which have been made by him in the register kept by the magistrates.





Next to all the matters which have preceded in the natural order of  legislation will come suits of law. Of suits those which relate to  agriculture have been already described, but the more important have not  been described. Having mentioned them severally under their usual names,  we will proceed to say what punishments are to be inflicted for each  offence, and who are to be the judges of them. Cleinias Very good.  Athenian Stranger There is a sense of disgrace in legislating, as we are  about to do, for all the details of crime in a state which, as we say,  is to be well regulated and will be perfectly adapted to the practice of  virtue. To assume that in such a state there will arise some one who  will be guilty of crimes as heinous as any which are ever perpetrated in  other states, and that we must legislate for him by anticipation, and  threaten and make laws against him if he should arise, in order to deter  him, and punish his acts, under the idea that he will arisethis, as I  was saying, is in a manner disgraceful. Yet seeing that we are not like  the ancient legislators, who gave laws to heroes and sons of gods,  being, according to the popular belief, themselves the offspring of the  gods, and legislating for others, who were also the children of divine  parents, but that we are only men who are legislating for the sons of  men, there is no uncharitableness in apprehending that some one of our  citizens may be like a seed which has touched the ox’s horn, having a  heart so hard that it cannot be softened any more than those seeds can  be softened by fire.


Among our citizens there may be those who cannot be subdued by all the  strength of the laws; and for their sake, though an ungracious task, I  will proclaim my first law about the robbing of temples, in case any one  should dare to commit such a crime. I do not expect or imagine that any  well-brought-up citizen will ever take the infection, but their  servants, and strangers, and strangers’ servants may be guilty of many  impieties. And with a view to them especially, and yet not without a  provident eye to the weakness of human nature generally, I will proclaim  the law about robbers of temples and similar incurable, or almost  incurable, criminals. Having already agreed that such enactments ought  always to have a short prelude, we may speak to the criminal, whom some  tormenting desire by night and by day tempts to go and rob a temple, the  fewest possible words of admonition and exhortation:


O sir, we will say to him, the impulse which moves you to rob temples is  not an ordinary human malady, nor yet a visitation of heaven, but a  madness which is begotten in a man from ancient and unexpiated crimes of  his race, an ever-recurring curse; — against this you must guard with  all your might, and how you are to guard we will explain to you. When  any such thought comes into your mind, go and perform expiations, go as  a suppliant to the temples of the Gods who avert evils, go to the  society of those who are called good men among you; hear them tell and  yourself try to repeat after them, that every man should honour the  noble and the just. Fly from the company of the wicked — fly and turn  not back; and if your disorder is lightened by these remedies, well and  good, but if not, then acknowledge death to be nobler than life, and  depart hence.


Such are the preludes which we sing to all who have thoughts of unholy  and treasonable actions, and to him who hearkens to them the law has  nothing to say. But to him who is disobedient when the prelude is over,  cry with a loud voice, — He who is taken in the act of robbing temples,  if he be a slave or stranger, shall have his evil deed engraven on his  face and hands, and shall be beaten with as many stripes as may seem  good to the judges, and be cast naked beyond the borders of the land.  And if he suffers this punishment he will probably return to his right  mind and be improved; for no penalty which the law inflicts is designed  for evil, but always makes him who suffers either better or not so much  worse as he would have been. But if any citizen be found guilty of any  great or unmentionable wrong, either in relation to the gods, or his  parents, or the state, let the judge deem him to be incurable,  remembering that after receiving such an excellent education and  training from youth upward, he has not abstained from the greatest of  crimes.


His punishment shall be death, which to him will be the least of evils;  and his example will benefit others, if he perish ingloriously, and be  cast beyond the borders of the land. But let his children and family, if  they avoid the ways of their father, have glory, and let honourable  mention be made of them, as having nobly and manfully escaped out of  evil into good. None of them should have their goods confiscated to the  state, for the lots of the citizens ought always to continue the same  and equal.


Touching the exaction of penalties, when a man appears to have done  anything which deserves a fine, he shall pay the fine, if he have  anything in excess of the lot which is assigned to him; but more than  that he shall not pay. And to secure exactness, let the guardians of the  law refer to the registers, and inform the judges of the precise truth,  in order that none of the lots may go uncultivated for want of money.  But if any one seems to deserve a greater penalty, let him undergo a  long and public imprisonment and be dishonoured, unless some of his  friends are willing to be surety for him, and liberate him by assisting  him to pay the fine. No criminal shall go unpunished, not even for a  single offence, nor if he have fled the country; but let the penalty be  according to his desertsdeath, or bonds, or blows, or degrading places  of sitting or standing, or removal to some temple on the borders of the  land; or let him pay fines, as we said before. In cases of death, let  the judges be the guardians of the law, and a court selected by merit  from the last year’s magistrates. But how the causes are to be brought  into to court, how the summonses are to be served, the like, these  things may be left to the younger generation of legislators to  determine; the manner of voting we must determine ourselves.


Let the vote be given openly; but before they come to the vote let the  judges sit in order of seniority over against plaintiff and defendant,  and let all the citizens who can spare time hear and take a serious  interest in listening to such causes. First of all the plaintiff shall  make one speech, and then the defendant shall make another; and after  the speeches have been made the eldest judge shall begin to examine the  parties, and proceed to make an adequate enquiry into what has been  said; and after the oldest has spoken, the rest shall proceed in order  to examine either party as to what he finds defective in the evidence,  whether of statement or omission; and he who has nothing to ask shall  hand over the examination to another. And on so much of what has been  said as is to the purpose all the judges shall set their seals, and  place the writings on the altar of Hestia. On the next day they shall  meet again, and in like manner put their questions and go through the  cause, and again set their seals upon the evidence; and when they have  three times done this, and have had witnesses and evidence enough, they  shall each of them give a holy vote, after promising by Hestia that they  will decide justly and truly to the utmost of their power; and so they  shall put an end to the suit.


Next, after what relates to the Gods, follows what relates to the  dissolution of the state: Whoever by promoting a man to power enslaves  the laws, and subjects the city to factions, using violence and stirring  up sedition contrary to law, him we will deem the greatest enemy of the  whole state. But he who takes no part in such proceedings, and, being  one of the chief magistrates of the state, has no knowledge of the  treason, or, having knowledge of it, by reason of cowardice does not  interfere on behalf of his country, such an one we must consider nearly  as bad. Every man who is worth anything will inform the magistrates, and  bring the conspirator to trial for making a violent and illegal attempt  to change the government. The judges of such cases shall be the same as  of the robbers of temples; and let the whole proceeding be carried on in  the same way, and the vote of the majority condemn to death. But let  there be a general rule, that the disgrace and punishment of the father  is not to be visited on the children, except in the case of some one  whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have successively  undergone the penalty of death. Such persons the city shall send away  with all their possessions to the city and country of their ancestors,  retaining only and wholly their appointed lot. And out of the citizens  who have more than one son of not less than ten years of age, they shall  select ten whom their father or grandfather by the mother’s or father’s  side shall appoint, and let them send to Delphi the names of those who  are selected, and him whom the God chooses they shall establish as heir  of the house which has failed; and may he have better fortune than his  predecessors!


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Once more let there be a third general law respecting the judges  who are to give judgment, and the manner of conducting suits against  those who are tried on an accusation of treason; and as concerning the  remaining or departure of their descendants — there shall be one law for  all three, for the traitor, and the robber of temples, and the subverter  by violence of the laws of the state. For a thief, whether he steal much  or little, let there be one law, and one punishment for all alike: in  the first place, let him pay double the amount of the theft if he be  convicted, and if he have so much over and above the allotment; — if he  have not, he shall be bound until he pay the penalty, or persuade him  has obtained the sentence against him to forgive him. But if a person be  convicted of a theft against the state, then if he can persuade the  city, or if he will pay back twice the amount of the theft, he shall be  set free from his bonds.


Cle. What makes you say, Stranger, that a theft is all one, whether the  thief may have taken much or little, and either from sacred or secular  places — and these are not the only differences in thefts: seeing, then,  that they are of many kinds, ought not the legislator to adapt himself  to them, and impose upon them entirely different penalties?


Ath. Excellent. I was running on too fast, Cleinias, and you impinged  upon me, and brought me to my senses, reminding me of what, indeed, had  occurred to mind already, that legislation was never yet rightly worked  out, as I may say in passing. — Do you remember the image in which I  likened the men for whom laws are now made to slaves who are doctored by  slaves? For of this you may be very sure, that if one of those empirical  physicians, who practise medicine without science, were to come upon the  gentleman physician talking to his gentleman patient, and using the  language almost of philosophy, beginning at the beginning of the disease  and discoursing about the whole nature of the body, he would burst into  a hearty laugh — he would say what most of those who are called doctors  always have at their tongue’s end: Foolish fellow, he would say, you are  not healing the sick man, but you are educating him; and he does not  want to be made a doctor, but to get well.


Cle. And would he not be right?


Ath. Perhaps he would; and he might remark upon us that he who  discourses about laws, as we are now doing, is giving the citizens  education and not laws; that would be rather a telling observation.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. But we are fortunate.


Cle. In what way?


Ath. Inasmuch as we are not compelled to give laws, but we may take into  consideration every form of government, and ascertain what is best and  what is most needful, and how they may both be carried into execution;  and we may also, if we please, at this very moment choose what is best,  or, if we prefer, what is most necessary — which shall we do?


Cle. There is something ridiculous, Stranger, in our proposing such an  alternative as if we were legislators, simply bound under some great  necessity which cannot be deferred to the morrow. But we, as I may by  grace of Heaven affirm, like, gatherers of stones or beginners of some  composite work, may gather a heap of materials, and out of this, at our  leisure, select what is suitable for our projected construction. Let us  then suppose ourselves to be at leisure, not of necessity building, but  rather like men who are partly providing materials, and partly putting  them together. And we may truly say that some of our laws, like stones,  are already fixed in their places, and others lie at hand.


Ath. Certainly, in that case, Cleinias, our view of law will be more in  accordance with nature. For there is another matter affecting  legislators, which I must earnestly entreat you to consider.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. There are many writings to be found in cities, and among them  there, are composed by legislators as well as by other persons.


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. Shall we give heed rather to the writings of those others — poets  and the like, who either in metre or out of metre have recorded their  advice about the conduct of life, and not to the writings of  legislators? or shall we give heed to them above all?


Cle. Yes; to them far above all others.


Ath. And ought the legislator alone among writers to withhold his  opinion about the beautiful, the good, and the just, and not to teach  what they are, and how they are to be pursued by those who intend to be  happy?


Cle. Certainly not.


Ath. And is it disgraceful for Homer and Tyrtaeus and other poets to lay  down evil precepts in their writings respecting life and the pursuits of  men, but not so disgraceful for Lycurgus and Solon and others who were  legislators as well as writers? Is it not true that of all the writings  to be found in cities, those which relate to laws, when you unfold and  read them, ought to be by far the noblest and the best? and should not  other writings either agree with them, or if they disagree, be deemed  ridiculous? We should consider whether the laws of states ought not to  have the character of loving and wise parents, rather than of tyrants  and masters, who command and threaten, and, after writing their decrees  on walls, go their ways; and whether, in discoursing of laws, we should  not take the gentler view of them which may or may not be attainable —  at any rate, we will show our readiness to entertain such a view, and be  prepared to undergo whatever may be the result. And may the result be  good, and if God be gracious, it will be good!


Cle. Excellent; let us do as you say.


Ath. Then we will now consider accurately, as we proposed, what relates  to robbers of temples, and all kinds of thefts, and offences in general;  and we must not be annoyed if, in the course of legisla tion, we have  enacted some things, and have not made up our minds about some others;  for as yet we are not legislators, but we may soon be. Let us, if you  please, consider these matters.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Concerning all things honourable and just, let us then endeavour to  ascertain how far we are consistent with ourselves, and how far we are  inconsistent, and how far the many, from whom at any rate we should  profess a desire to differ, agree and disagree among themselves.


Cle. What are the inconsistencies which you observe in us?


Ath. I will endeavour to explain. If I am not mistaken, we are all  agreed that justice, and just men and things and actions, are all fair,  and, if a person were to maintain that just men, even when they are  deformed in body, are still perfectly beautiful in respect of the  excellent justice of their minds, no one would say that there was any  inconsistency in this.


Cle. They would be quite right.


Ath. Perhaps; but let us consider further, that if all things which are  just are fair and honourable, in the term “all” we must include just  sufferings which are the correlatives of just actions.


Cle. And what is the inference?


Ath. The inference is, that a just action in partaking of the just  partakes also in the same degree of the fair and honourable.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And must not a suffering which partakes of the just principle be  admitted to be in the same degree fair and honourable, if the argument  is consistently carried out?


Cle. True.


Ath. But then if we admit suffering to be just and yet dishonourable,  and the term “dishonourable” is applied to justice, will not the just  and the honourable disagree?


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. A thing not difficult to understand; the laws which have been  already enacted would seem to announce principles directly opposed to  what we are saying.


Cle. To what?


Ath. We had enacted, if I am not mistaken, that the robber of temples,  and he who was the enemy of law and order, might justly be put to death,  and we were proceeding to make divers other enactments of a similar  nature. But we stopped short, because we saw that these sufferings are  infinite in number and degree, and that they are, at once, the most just  and also the most dishonourable of all sufferings. And if this be true,  are not the just and the honourable at one time all the same, and at  another time in the most diametrical opposition?


Cle. Such appears to be the case.


Ath. In this discordant and inconsistent fashion does the language of  the many rend asunder the honourable and just.


Cle. Very true, Stranger.


Ath. Then now, Cleinias, let us see how far we ourselves are consistent  about these matters.


Cle. Consistent in what?


Ath. I think that I have clearly stated in the former part of the  discussion, but if I did not, let me now state.


Cle. What?


Ath. That all bad men are always involuntarily bad; and from this must  proceed to draw a further inference.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. That the unjust man may be bad, but that he is bad against his  will.


Now that an action which is voluntary should be done involuntarily is a  contradiction; wherefore he who maintains that injustice is involuntary  will deem that the unjust does injustice involuntarily. I too admit that  all men do injustice involuntarily, and if any contentious or  disputatious person says that men are unjust against their will, and yet  that many do injustice willingly, I do not agree with him. But, then,  how can I avoid being inconsistent with myself, if you, Cleinias, and  you, Megillus, say to me — Well, Stranger, if all this be as you say,  how about legislating for the city of the Magnetes — shall we legislate  or not — what do you advise? Certainly we will, I should reply. Then  will you determine for them what are voluntary and what are involuntary  crimes, and shall we make the punishments greater of voluntary errors  and crimes and less for the involuntary? or shall we make the punishment  of all to be alike, under the idea that there is no such thing as  voluntary crime?


Cle. Very good, Stranger; and what shall we say in answer to these  objections?


Ath. That is a very fair question. In the first place, let us


Cle. Do what?


Ath. Let us remember what has been well said by us already, that our  ideas of justice are in the highest degree confused and contradictory.  Bearing this in mind, let us proceed to ask ourselves once more whether  we have discovered a way out of the difficulty. Have we ever determined  in what respect these two classes of actions differ from one another?  For in all states and by all legislators whatsoever, two kinds of  actions have been distinguished — the one, voluntary, the other,  involuntary; and they have legislated about them accordingly. But shall  this new word of ours, like an ora


Cle. of God, be only spoken, and get away without giving any explanation  or verification of itself? How can a word not understood be the basis of  legislation? Impossible. Before proceeding to legislate, then, we must  prove that they are two, and what is the difference between them, that  when we impose the penalty upon either, every one may understand our  proposal, and be able in some way to judge whether the penalty is fitly  or unfitly inflicted.


Cle. I agree with you, Stranger; for one of two things is certain:  either we must not say that all unjust acts are involuntary, or we must  show the meaning and truth of this statement.


Ath. Of these two alternatives, the one is quite intolerable — not to  speak what I believe to be the truth would be to me unlawful and unholy.


But if acts of injustice cannot be divided into voluntary and  involuntary, I must endeavour to find some other distinction between  them.


Cle. Very true, Stranger; there cannot be two opinions among us upon  that point.


Ath. Reflect, then; there are hurts of various kinds done by the  citizens to one another in the intercourse of life, affording plentiful  examples both of the voluntary and involuntary.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. I would not have any one suppose that all these hurts are injuries,  and that these injuries are of two kinds — one, voluntary, and the  other, involuntary; for the involuntary hurts of all men are quite as  many and as great as the voluntary? And please to consider whether I am  right or quite wrong in what I am going to say; for I deny, Cleinias and  Megillus, that he who harms another involuntarily does him an injury  involuntarily, nor should I legislate about such an act under the idea  that I am legislating for an involuntary injury. But I should rather say  that such a hurt, whether great or small, is not an injury at all; and,  on the other hand, if I am right, when a benefit is wrongly conferred,  the author of the benefit may often be said to injure. For I maintain, O  my friends, that the mere giving or taking away of anything is not to be  described either as just or unjust; but the legislator has to consider  whether mankind do good or harm to one another out of a just principle  and intention. On the distinction between injustice and hurt he must fix  his eye; and when there is hurt, he must, as far as he can, make the  hurt good by law, and save that which is ruined, and raise up that which  is fallen, and make that which is dead or wounded whole.


And when compensation has been given for injustice, the law must always  seek to win over the doers and sufferers of the several hurts from  feelings of enmity to those of friendship.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Then as to unjust hurts (and gains also, supposing the injustice to  bring gain), of these we may heal as many as are capable of being  healed, regarding them as diseases of the soul; and the cure of  injustice will take the following direction.


Cle. What direction?


Ath. When any one commits any injustice, small or great, the law will  admonish and compel him either never at all to do the like again, or  never voluntarily, or at any rate in a far less degree; and he must in  addition pay for the hurt. Whether the end is to be attained by word or  action, with pleasure or pain, by giving or taking away privileges, by  means of fines or gifts, or in whatsoever way the law shall proceed to  make a man hate injustice, and love or not hate the nature of the just —  this is quite the noblest work of law. But if the legislator sees any  one who is incurable, for him he will appoint a law and a penalty. He  knows quite well that to such men themselves there is no profit in the  continuance of their lives, and that they would do a double good to the  rest of mankind if they would take their departure, inasmuch as they  would be an example to other men not to offend, and they would relieve  the city of bad citizens. In such cases, and in such cases only, the  legislator ought to inflict death as the punishment of offences.


Cle. What you have said appears to me to be very reasonable, but will  you favour me by stating a little more clearly the difference between  hurt and injustice, and the various complications of the voluntary and  involuntary which enter into them?


Ath. I will endeavour to do as you wish: Concerning the soul, thus much  would be generally said and allowed, that one element in her nature is  passion, which may be described either as a state or a part of her, and  is hard to be striven against and contended with, and by irrational  force overturns many things.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. And pleasure is not the same with passion, but has an opposite  power, working her will by persuasion and by the force of deceit in all  things.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. A man may truly say that ignorance is a third cause of crimes.  Ignorance, however, may be conveniently divided by the legislator into  two sorts: there is simple ignorance, which is the source of lighter  offences, and double ignorance, which is accompanied by a conceit of  wisdom; and he who is under the influence of the latter fancies that he  knows all about matters of which he knows nothing. This second kind of  ignorance, when possessed of power and strength, will be held by the  legislator to be the source of great and monstrous times, but when  attended with weakness, will only result in the errors of children and  old men; and these he will treat as errors, and will make laws  accordingly for those who commit them, which will be the mildest and  most merciful of all laws.


Cle. You are perfectly right.


Ath. We all of us remark of one man that he is superior to pleasure and  passion, and of another that he is inferior to them; and this is true.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. But no one was ever yet heard to say that one of us is superior and  another inferior to ignorance.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. We are speaking of motives which incite men to the fulfilment of  their will; although an individual may be often drawn by them in  opposite directions at the same time.


Cle. Yes, often.


Ath. And now I can define to you clearly, and without ambiguity, what I  mean by the just and unjust, according to my notion of them: When anger  and fear, and pleasure and pain, and jealousies and desires, tyrannize  over the soul, whether they do any harm or not — I call all this  injustice. But when the opinion of the best, in whatever part of human  nature states or individuals may suppose that to dwell, has dominion in  the soul and orders the life of every man, even if it be sometimes  mistaken, yet what is done in accordance therewith, the principle in  individuals which obeys this rule, and is best for the whole life of  man, is to be called just; although the hurt done by mistake is thought  by many to be involuntary injustice. Leaving the question of names,  about which we are not going to quarrel, and having already delineated  three sources of error, we may begin by recalling them somewhat more  vividly to our memory: One of them was of the painful sort, which we  denominate anger and fear.


Cle. Quite right.


Ath. There was a second consisting of pleasures and desires, and a third  of hopes, which aimed at true opinion about the best. The latter being  subdivided into three, we now get five sources of actions; and for these  five we will make laws of two kinds.


Cle. What are the two kinds?


Ath. There is one kind of actions done by violence and in the light of  day, and another kind of actions which are done in darkness and with  secret deceit, or sometimes both with violence and deceit; the laws  concerning these last ought to have a character of severity.


Cle. Naturally.


Ath. And now let us return from this digression and complete the work of  legislation. Laws have been already enacted by us concerning the robbers  of the Gods, and concerning traitors, and also concerning those who  corrupt the laws for the purpose of subverting the government. A man may  very likely commit some of these crimes, either in a state of madness or  when affected by disease, or under the influence of extreme old age, or  in a fit of childish wantonness, himself no better than a child. And if  this be made evident to the judges elected to try the cause, on the  appeal of the criminal or his advocate, and he be judged to have been in  this state when he committed the offence, he shall simply pay for the  hurt which he may have done to another; but he shall be exempt from  other penalties, unless he have slain some one, and have on his hands  the stain of blood. And in that case he shall go to another land and  country, and there dwell for a year; and if he return before the  expiration of the time which the law appoints, or even set his foot at  all on his native land, he shall be bound by the guardians of the law in  the public prison for two years, and then go free.


Having begun to speak of homicide, let us endeavour to lay down laws  concerning every different kind of homicides, and, first of all,  concerning violent and involuntary homicides. If any one in an athletic  contest, and at the public games, involuntarily kills a friend, and he  dies either at the time or afterwards of the blows which he has  received; or if the like misfortune happens to any one in war, or  military exercises, or mimic contests. of which the magistrates enjoin  the practice, whether with or without arms, when he has been purified  according to the law brought from Delphi relating to these matters, he  shall be innocent. And so in the case of physicians: if their patient  dies against their will, they shall be held guiltless by the law. And if  one slay another with his own hand, but unintentionally, whether he be  unarmed or have some instrument or dart in his hand; or if he kill him  by administering food or drink or by the application of fire or cold, or  by suffocating him, whether he do the deed by his own hand, or by the  agency of others, he shall be deemed the agent, and shall suffer one of  the following penalties: If he kill the slave of another in the belief  that he is his own, he shall bear the master of the dead man harmless  from loss, or shall pay a penalty of twice the value of the dead man,  which the judges shall assess; but purifications must be used greater  and more numerous than for those who committed homicide at the  games;what they are to be, the interpreters whom the God appoints shall  be authorized to declare. And if a man kills his own slave, when he has  been purified according to laws he shall be quit of the homicide. And if  a man kills a freeman unintentionally, he shall undergo the same  purification as he did who killed the slave. But let him not forget also  a tale of olden time, which is to this effect: He who has suffered a  violent end, when newly dead, if he has had the soul of a freeman in  life, is angry with the author of his death; and being himself full of  fear and panic by reason of his violent end, when he sees his murderer  walking about in his own accustomed haunts, he is stricken with terror  and becomes disordered, and this disorder of his, aided by the guilty  recollection of is communicated by him with overwhelming force to the  murderer and his deeds. Wherefore also the murderer must go out of the  way of his victim for the entire period of a year, and not himself be  found in any spot which was familiar to him throughout the country. And  if the dead man be a stranger, the homicide shall be kept from the  country of the stranger during a like period. If any one voluntarily  obeys this law, the next of kin to the deceased, seeing all that has  happened, shall take pity on him, and make peace with him, and show him  all gentleness. But if any one is disobedient, either ventures to go to  any of the temples and sacrifice unpurified, or will not continue in  exile during the appointed time, the next of kin to the deceased shall  proceed against him for murder; and if he be convicted, every part of  his punishment shall be doubled.


And if the next of kin do not proceed against the perpetrator of the  crime, then the pollution shall be deemed to fall upon his own head; —  the murdered man will fix the guilt upon his kinsman, and he who has a  mind to proceed against him may compel him to be absent from his country  during five years, according to law. If a stranger unintentionally kill  a stranger who is dwelling in the city, he who likes shall prosecute the  cause according to the same rules.


If he be a metic, let him be absent for a year, or if he be an entire  stranger, in addition to the purification, whether he have slain a  stranger, or a metic, or a citizen, he shall be banished for life from  the country which is in possession of our laws. And if he return  contrary to law, let the guardians of the law punish him with death; and  let them hand over his property, if he have any, to him who is next of  kin to the sufferer. And if he be wrecked, and driven on the coast  against his will, he shall take up his abode on the seashore, wetting  his feet in the sea, and watching for an opportunity of sailing; but if  he be brought by land, and is not his own master, let the magistrate  whom he first comes across in the city, release him and send him  unharmed over the border.


If any one slays a freeman with his own hand and the deed be done in  passion, in the case of such actions we must begin by making a  distinction. For a deed is done from passion either when men suddenly,  and without intention to kill, cause the death of another by blows and  the like on a momentary impulse, and are sorry for the deed immediately  afterwards; or again, when after having been insulted in deed or word,  men pursue revenge, and kill a person intentionally, and are not sorry  for the act. And, therefore, we must assume that these homicides are of  two kinds, both of them arising from passion, which may be justly said  to be in a mean between the voluntary and involuntary; at the same time,  they are neither of them anything more than a likeness or shadow of  either. He who treasures up his anger, and avenges himself, not  immediately and at the moment, but with insidious design, and after an  interval, is like the voluntary; but he who does not treasure up his  anger, and takes vengeance on the instant, and without malice prepense,  approaches to the involuntary; and yet even he is not altogether  involuntary, but only the image or shadow of the involuntary; wherefore  about homicides committed in hot blood, there is a difficulty in  determining whether in legislating we shall reckon them as voluntary or  as partly involuntary. The best and truest view is to regard them  respectively as likenesses only of the voluntary and involuntary, and to  distinguish them accordingly as they are done with or without  premeditation. And we should make the penalties heavier for those who  commit homicide with angry premeditation, and lighter for those who do  not premeditate, but smite upon the instant; for that which is like a  greater evil should be punished more severely, and that which is like a  less evil should be punished less severely: this shall be the rule of  our laws.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Let us proceed: If any one slays a free man with his own hand, and  the deed be done in a moment of anger, and without premeditation, let  the offender suffer in other respects as the involuntary homicide would  have suffered, and also undergo an exile of two years, that he may learn  to school his passions. But he who slays another from passion, yet with  premeditation, shall in other respects suffer as the former; and to this  shall be added an exile of three instead of two years — his punishment  is to be longer because his passion is greater.


The manner of their return shall be on this wise: (and here the law has  difficulty in determining exactly; for in some cases the murderer who is  judged by the law to be the worse may really be the less cruel, and he  who is judged the less cruel may be really the worse, and may have  executed the murder in a more savage manner, whereas the other may have  been gentler. But in general the degrees of guilt will be such as we  have described them. Of all these things the guardians of the law must  take cognisance): When a homicide of either kind has completed his term  of exile, the guardians shall send twelve judges to the borders of the  land; these during the interval shall have informed themselves of the  actions of the criminals, and they shall judge respecting their pardon  and reception; and the homicides shall abide by their judgment.


But if after they have returned home, any one of them in a moment of  anger repeats the deed, let him be an exile, and return no more; or if  he returns, let him suffer as the stranger was to suffer in a similar  case. He who kills his own slave shall undergo a purificaon, but if he  kills the slave of another in anger, he shall pay twice the amount of  the loss to his owner. And if any homicide is disobedient to the law,  and without purification pollutes the agora, or the games, or the  temples, he who pleases may bring to trial the next of kin to the dead  man for permitting him, and the murderer with him, and may compel the  one to exact and the other to suffer a double amount of fines and  purifications; and the accuser shall himself receive the fine in  accordance with the law.


If a slave in a fit of passion kills his master, the kindred of the  deceased man may do with the murderer (provided only they do not spare  his life) whatever they please, and they will be pure; or if he kills a  freeman, who is not his master, the owner shall give up the slave to the  relatives of the deceased, and they shall be under an obligation to put  him to death, but this may be done in any manner which they please.


And if (which is a rare occurrence, but does sometimes happen) a father  or a mother in a moment of passion slays a son or daughter by blows, or  some other violence, the slayer shall undergo the same purification as  in other cases, and be exiled during three years; but when the exile  returns the wife shall separate from the husband, and the husband from  the wife, and they shall never afterwards beget children together, or  live under the same roof, or partake of the same sacred rites with those  whom they have deprived of a child or of a brother. And he who is  impious and disobedient in such a case shall be brought to trial for  impiety by any one who pleases. If in a fit of anger a husband kills his  wedded wife, or the wife her husband, the slayer shall undergo the same  purification, and the term of exile shall be three years. And when he  who has committed any such crime returns, let him have no communication  in sacred rites with his children, neither let him sit at the same table  with them, and the father or son who disobeys shall be liable to be  brought to trial for impiety by any one who pleases. If a brother or a  sister in a fit of passion kills a brother or a sister, they shall  undergo purification and exile, as was the case with parents who killed  their offspring: they shall not come under the same roof, or share in  the sacred rites of those whom they have deprived of their brethren, or  of their children.


And he who is disobedient shall be justly liable to the law concerning  impiety, which relates to these matters. If any one is so violent in his  passion against his parents, that in the madness of his anger he dares  to kill one of them, if the murdered person before dying freely forgives  the murderer, let him undergo the purification which is assigned to  those who have been guilty of involuntary homicide, and do as they do,  and he shall be pure. But if he be not acquitted, the perpetrator of  such a deed shall be amenable to many laws; — he shall be amenable to  the extreme punishments for assault, and impiety, and robbing of  temples, for he has robbed his parent of life; and if a man could be  slain more than once, most justly would he who in a fit of passion has  slain father or mother, undergo many deaths. How can he, whom, alone of  all men, even in defence of his life, and when about to suffer death at  the hands of his parents, no law will allow to kill his father or his  mother who are the authors of his being, and whom the legislator will  command to endure any extremity rather than do this — how can he, I say,  lawfully receive any other punishment? Let death then be the appointed  punishment of him who in a fit of passion slays his father or his  mother. But if brother kills brother in a civil broil, or under other  like circumstances, if the other has begun, and he only defends himself,  let him be free from guilt, as he would be if he had slain an enemy; and  the same rule will apply if a citizen kill a citizen, or a stranger a  stranger. Or if a stranger kill a citizen or a citizen a stranger in  self-defence, let him be free from guilt in like manner; and so in the  case of a slave who has killed a slave; but if a slave have killed a  freeman in self-defence, let him be subject to the same law as he who  has killed a father; and let the law about the remission of penalties in  the case of parricide apply equally to every other remission. Whenever  any sufferer of his own accord remits the guilt of homicide to another,  under the idea that his act was involuntary, let the perpetrator of the  deed undergo a purification and remain in exile for a year, according to  law.


Enough has been said of murders violent and involuntary and committed in  passion: we have now to speak of voluntary crimes done with injustice of  every kind and with premeditation, through the influence of pleasures,  and desires, and jealousies.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Let us first speak, as far as we are able, of their various kinds.  The greatest cause of them is lust, which gets the mastery of the soul  maddened by desire; and this is most commonly found to exist where the  passion reigns which is strongest and most prevalent among mass of  mankind: I mean where the power of wealth breeds endless desires of  never-to-be-satisfied acquisition, originating in natural disposition,  and a miserable want of education. Of this want of education, the false  praise of wealth which is bruited about both among Hellenes and  barbarians is the cause; they deem that to be the first of goods which  in reality is only the third. And in this way they wrong both posterity  and themselves, for nothing can be nobler and better than that the truth  about wealth should be spoken in all states — namely, that riches are  for the sake of the body, as the body is for the sake of the soul. They  are good, and wealth is intended by nature to be for the sake of them,  and is therefore inferior to them both, and third in order of  excellence. This argument teaches us that he who would be happy ought  not to seek to be rich, or rather he should seek to be rich justly and  temperately, and then there would be no murders in states requiring to  be purged away by other murders. But now, as I said at first, avarice is  the chiefest cause and source of the worst trials for voluntary  homicide. A second cause is ambition: this creates jealousies, which are  troublesome companions, above all to the jealous man himself, and in a  less degree to the chiefs of the state. And a third cause is cowardly  and unjust fear, which has been the occasion of many murders. When a man  is doing or has done something which he desires that no one should know  him to be doing or to have done, he will take the life of those who are  likely to inform of such things, if he have no other means of getting  rid of them. Let this be said as a prelude concerning crimes of violence  in general; and I must not omit to mention a tradition which is firmly  believed by many, and has been received by them from those who are  learned in the mysteries: they say that such deeds will be punished in  the world below, and also that when the perpetrators return to this  world they will pay the natural penalty which is due to the sufferer,  and end their lives in like manner by the hand of another. If he who is  about to commit murder believes this, and is made by the mere prelude to  dread such a penalty, there is no need to proceed with the proclamation  of the law. But if he will not listen, let the following law be declared  and registered against him: Whoever shall wrongfully and of design slay  with his own hand any of his kinsmen, shall in the first place be  deprived of legal privileges; and he shall not pollute the temples, or  the agora, or the harbours, or any other place of meeting, whether he is  forbidden of men or not; for the law, which represents the whole state,  forbids him, and always is and will be in the attitude of forbidding  him.


And if a cousin or nearer relative of the deceased, whether on the male  or female side, does not prosecute the homicide when he ought, and have  him proclaimed an outlaw, he shall in the first place be involved in the  pollution, and incur the hatred of the Gods, even as the curse of the  law stirs up the voices of men against him; and in the second place he  shall be liable to be prosecuted by any one who is willing to inflict  retribution on behalf of the dead. And he who would avenge a murder  shall observe all the precautionary ceremonies of lavation, and any  others which the God commands in cases of this kind. Let him have  proclamation made, and then go forth and compel the perpetrator to  suffer the execution of justice according to the law. Now the legislator  may easily show that these things must be accomplished by prayers and  sacrifices to certain Gods, who are concerned with the prevention of  murders in states. But who these Gods are, and what should be the true  manner of instituting such trials with due regard to religion, the  guardians of the law, aided by the interpreters, and the prophets, and  the God, shall determine, and when they have determined let them carry  on the prosecution at law. The cause shall have the same judges who are  appointed to decide in the case of those who plunder temples. Let him  who is convicted be punished with death, and let him not be buried in  the country of the murdered man, for this would be shameless as well as  impious. But if he fly and will not stand his trial, let him fly for  ever; or, if he set foot anywhere on any part of the murdered man’s  country, let any relation of the deceased, or any other citizen who may  first happen to meet with him, kill him with impunity, or bind and  deliver him to those among the judges of the case who are magistrates,  that they may put him to death. And let the prosecutor demand surety of  him whom he prosecutes; three sureties sufficient in the opinion of the  magistrates who try the cause shall be provided by him, and they shall  undertake to produce him at the trial. But if he be unwilling or unable  to provide sureties, then the magistrates shall take him and keep him in  bonds, and produce him at the day of trial.


If a man do not commit a murder with his own hand, but contrives the  death of another, and is the author of the deed in intention and design,  and he continues to dwell in the city, having his soul not pure of the  guilt of murder, let him be tried in the same way, except in what  relates to the sureties; and also, if he be found guilty, his body after  execution may have burial in his native land, but in all other respects  his case shall be as the former; and whether a stranger shall kill a  citizen, or a citizen a stranger, or a slave a slave, there shall be no  difference as touching murder by one’s own hand or by contrivance,  except in the matter of sureties; and these, as has been said, shall be  required of the actual murderer only, and he who brings the accusation  shall bind them over at the time. If a slave be convicted of slaying a  freeman voluntarily, either by his own hand or by contrivance, let the  public executioner take him in the direction of the sepulchre, to a  place whence he can see the tomb of the dead man, and inflict upon him  as many stripes as the person who caught him orders, and if he survive,  let him put him to death. And if any one kills a slave who has done no  wrong, because he is afraid that he may inform of some base and evil  deeds of his own, or for any similar reason, in such a case let him pay  the penalty of murder, as he would have done if he had slain a citizen.  There are things about which it is terrible and unpleasant to legislate,  but impossible not to legislate. If, for example, there should be  murders of kinsmen, either perpetrated by the hands of kinsmen, or by  their contrivance, voluntary and purely malicious, which most often  happen in ill-regulated and ill-educated states, and may perhaps occur  even in a country where a man would not expect to find them, we must  repeat once more the tale which we narrated a little while ago, in the  hope that he who hears us will be the more disposed to abstain  voluntarily on these grounds from murders which are utterly abominable.


For the myth, or saying, or whatever we ought to call it, has been  plainly set forth by priests of old; they have pronounced that the  justice which guards and avenges the blood of kindred, follows the law  of retaliation, and ordains that he who has done any murderous act  should of necessity suffer that which he has done. He who has slain a  father shall himself be slain at some time or other by his children — if  a mother, he shall of necessity take a woman’s nature, and lose his life  at the hands of his offspring in after ages; for where the blood of a  family has been polluted there is no other purification, nor can the  pollution be washed out until the homicidal soul which the deed has  given life for life, and has propitiated and laid to sleep the wrath of  the whole family. These are the retributions of Heaven, and by such  punishments men should be deterred.


But if they are not deterred, and any one should be incited by some  fatality to deprive his father or mother, or brethren, or children, of  life voluntarily and of purpose, for him the earthly lawgiver legislates  as follows: There shall be the same proclamations about outlawry, and  there shall be the same sureties which have been enacted in the former  cases. But in his case, if he be convicted, the servants of the judges  and the magistrates shall slay him at an appointed place without the  city where three ways meet, and there expose his body naked, and each of  the magistrates on behalf of the whole city shall take a stone and cast  it upon the head of the dead man, and so deliver the city from  pollution; after that, they shall bear him to the borders of the land,  and cast him forth unburied, according to law. And what shall he suffer  who slays him who of all men, as they say, is his own best friend? I  mean the suicide, who deprives himself by violence of his appointed  share of life, not because the law of the state requires him, nor yet  under the compulsion of some painful and inevitable misfortune which has  come upon him, nor because he has had to suffer from irremediable and  intolerable shame, but who from sloth or want of manliness imposes upon  himself an unjust penalty. For him, what ceremonies there are to be of  purification and burial God knows, and about these the next of kin  should enquire of the interpreters and of the laws thereto relating, and  do according to their injunctions. They who meet their death in this way  shall be buried alone, and none shall be laid by their side; they shall  be buried ingloriously in the borders of the twelve portions the land,  in such places as are uncultivated and nameless, and no column or  inscription shall mark the place of their interment. And if a beast of  burden or other animal cause the death of any one, except in the case of  anything of that kind happening to a competitor in the public contests,  the kinsmen of the deceased shall prosecute the slayer for murder, and  the wardens of the country, such, and so many as the kinsmen appoint,  shall try the cause, and let the beast when condemned be slain by them,  and let them cast it beyond the borders. And if any lifeless thing  deprive a man of life, except in the case of a thunderbolt or other  fatal dart sent from the Godswhether a man is killed by lifeless  objects, falling upon him, or by his falling upon them, the nearest of  kin shall appoint the nearest neighbour to be a judge, and thereby  acquit himself and the whole family of guilt. And he shall cast forth  the guilty thing beyond the border, as has been said about the animals.


If a man is found dead, and his murderer be unknown, and after a  diligent search cannot be detected, there shall be the same proclamation  as in the previous cases, and the same interdict on the murderer; and  having proceeded against him, they shall proclaim in the agora by a  herald, that he who has slain such and such a person, and has been  convicted of murder, shall not set his foot in the temples, nor at all  in the country of the murdered man, and if he appears and is discovered,  he shall die, and be cast forth unburied beyond the border. Let this one  law then be laid down by us about murder; and let cases of this sort be  so regarded.


And now let us say in what cases and under what circumstances the  murderer is rightly free from guilt: If a man catch a thief coming, into  his house by night to steal, and he take and kill him, or if he slay a  footpad in self-defence, he shall be guiltless. And any one who does  violence to a free woman or a youth, shall be slain with impunity by the  injured person, or by his or her father or brothers or sons. If a man  find his wife suffering violence, he may kill the violator, and be  guiltless in the eye of the law; or if a person kill another in warding  off death from his father or mother or children or brethren or wife who  are doing no wrong, he shall assuredly be guiltless.


Thus much as to the nurture and education of the living soul of man,  having which, he can, and without which, if he unfortunately be without  them, he cannot live; and also concerning the punishments: which are to  be inflicted for violent deaths, let thus much be enacted. Of the  nurture and education of the body we have spoken before, and next in  order we have to speak of deeds of violence, voluntary and involuntary,  which men do to one another; these we will now distinguish, as far as we  are able, according to their nature and number, and determine what will  be the suitable penalties of each, and so assign to them their proper  place in the series of our enactments. The poorest legislator will have  no difficulty in determining that wounds and mutilations arising out of  wounds should follow next in order after deaths. Let wounds be divided  as homicides were divided — into those which are involuntary, and which  are given in passion or from fear, and those inflicted voluntarily and  with premeditation. Concerning all this, we must make some such  proclamation as the following: Mankind must have laws, and conform to  them, or their life would be as bad as that of the most savage beast.  And the reason of this is that no man’s nature is able to know what is  best for human society; or knowing, always able and willing to do what  is best. In the first place, there is a difficulty in apprehending that  the true art or politics is concerned, not with private but with public  good (for public good binds together states, but private only distracts  them); and that both the public and private good as well of individuals  as of states is greater when the state and not the individual is first  considered. In the second place, although a person knows in the abstract  that this is true, yet if he be possessed of absolute and irresponsible  power, he will never remain firm in his principles or persist in  regarding the public good as primary in the state, and the private good  as secondary. Human nature will be always drawing him into avarice and  selfishness, avoiding pain and pursuing Pleasure without any reason, and  will bring these to the front, obscuring the juster and better; and so  working darkness in his soul will at last fill with evils both him and  the whole city. For if a man were born so divinely gifted that he could  naturally apprehend the truth, he would have no need of laws to rule  over him; for there is no law or order which is above knowledge, nor can  mind, without impiety, be deemed the subject or slave of any man, but  rather the lord of all. I speak of mind, true and free, and in harmony  with nature. But then there is no such mind anywhere, or at least not  much; and therefore we must choose law and order, which are second best.  These look at things as they exist for the most part only, and are  unable to survey the whole of them. And therefore I have spoken as I  have.


And now we will determine what penalty he ought to pay or suffer who has  hurt or wounded another. Any one may easily imagine the questions which  have to be asked in all such cases: What did he wound, or whom, or how,  or when? for there are innumerable particulars of this sort which  greatly vary from one another. And to allow courts of law to determine  all these things, or not to determine any of them, is alike impossible.  There is one particular which they must determine in all cases — the  question of fact.


And then, again, that the legislator should not permit them to determine  what punishment is to be inflicted in any of these cases, but should  himself decide about, of them, small or great, is next to impossible.


Cle. Then what is to be the inference?


Ath. The inference is, that some things should be left to courts of law;  others the legislator must decide for himself.


Cle. And what ought the legislator to decide, and what ought he to leave  to courts of law?


Ath. I may reply, that in a state in which the courts are bad and mute,  because the judges conceal their opinions and decide causes  clandestinely; or what is worse, when they are disorderly and noisy, as  in a theatre, clapping or hooting in turn this or that orator — I say  that then there is a very serious evil, which affects the whole state.  Unfortunate is the necessity of having to legislate for such courts, but  where the necessity exists, the legislator should only allow them to  ordain the penalties for the smallest offences; if the state for which  he is legislating be of this character, he must take most matters into  his own hands and speak distinctly. But when a state has good courts,  and the judges are well trained and scrupulously tested, the  determination of the penalties or punishments which shall be inflicted  on the guilty may fairly and with advantage be left to them.


And we are not to be blamed for not legislating concerning all that  large class of matters which judges far worse educated than ours would  be able to determine, assigning to each offence what is due both to the  perpetrator and to the sufferer. We believe those for whom we are  legislating to be best able to judge, and therefore to them the greater  part may be left. At the same time, as I have often said, we should  exhibit to the judges, as we have done, the outline and form of the  punishments to be inflicted, and then they will not transgress the just  rule. That was an excellent practice, which we observed before, and  which now that we are resuming the work of legislation, may with  advantage be repeated by us.


Let the enactment about wounding be in the following terms: If anyone  has a purpose and intention to slay another who is not his enemy, and  whom the law does not permit him to slay, and he wounds him, but is  unable to kill him, he who had the intent and has wounded him is not to  be pitied — he deserves no consideration, but should be regarded as a  murderer and be tried for murder. Still having respect to the fortune  which has in a manner favoured him, and to the providence which in pity  to him and to the wounded man saved the one from a fatal blow, and the  other from an accursed fate and calamity — as a thank-offering to this  deity, and in order not to oppose his will — in such a case the law will  remit the punishment of death, and only compel the offender to emigrate  to a neighbouring city for the rest of his life, where he shall remain  in the enjoyment of all his possessions. But if he have injured the  wounded man, he shall make such compensation for the injury as the court  deciding the cause shall assess, and the same judges shall decide who  would have decided if the man had died of his wounds. And if a child  intentionally wound his parents, or a servant his master, death shall be  the penalty. And if a brother ora sister intentionally wound a brother  or a sister, and is found guilty, death shall be the penalty. And if a  husband wound a wife, or a wife a husband, with intent to kill, let him  or her undergo perpetual exile; if they have sons or daughters who are  still young, the guardians shall take care of their property, and have  charge of the children as orphans. If their sons are grown up, they  shall be under no obligation to support the exiled parent, but they  shall possess the property themselves. And if he who meets with such a  misfortune has no children, the kindred of the exiled man to the degree  of sons of cousins, both on the male and female side, shall meet  together, and after taking counsel with the guardians of the and the  priests, shall appoint a 5040th citizen to be the heir of the house,  considering and reasoning that no house of all the 5040 belongs to the  inhabitant or to the whole family, but is the public and private  property of the state. Now the state should seek to have its houses as  holy and happy as possible. And if any one of the houses be unfortunate,  and stained with impiety, and the owner leave no posterity, but dies  unmarried, or married and childless, having suffered death as the  penalty of murder or some other crime committed against the Gods or  against his fellow-citizens, of which death is the penalty distinctly  laid down in the law; or if any of the citizens be in perpetual exile,  and also childless, that house shall first of all be purified and  undergo expiation according to law; and then let the kinsmen of the  house, as we were just now saying, and the guardians of the law, meet  and consider what family there is in the state which is of the highest  repute for virtue and also for good fortune, in which there are a number  of sons; from that family let them take one and introduce him to the  father and forefathers of the dead man as their son, and, for the sake  of the omen, let him be called so, that he may be the continuer of their  family, the keeper of their hearth, and the minister of their sacred  rites with better fortune than his father had; and when they have made  this supplication, they shall make him heir according to law, and the  offending person they shall leave nameless and childless and portionless  when calamities such as these overtake him.


Now the boundaries of some things do not touch one another, but there is  a borderland which comes in between, preventing them from touching. And  we were saying that actions done from passion are of this nature, and  come in between the voluntary and involuntary. If a person be convicted  of having inflicted wounds in a passion, in the first place he shall pay  twice the amount of the injury, if the wound be curable, or, if  incurable, four times the amount of the injury; or if the wound be  curable, and at the same time cause great and notable disgrace to the  wounded person, he shall pay fourfold. And whenever any one in wounding  another injures not only the sufferer, but also the city, and makes him  incapable of defending his country against the enemy, he, besides the  other penalties, shall pay a penalty for the loss which the state has  incurred. And the penalty shall be, that in addition to his own times of  service, he shall serve on behalf of the disabled person, and shall take  his place in war; or, if he refuse, he shall be liable to be convicted  by law of refusal to serve. The compensation for the injury, whether to  be twofold or threefold or fourfold, shall be fixed by the judges who  convict him. And if, in like manner, a brother wounds a brother, the  parents and kindred of either sex, including the children of cousins,  whether on the male or female side, shall meet, and when they have  judged the cause, they shall entrust the assessment of damages to the  parents, as is natural; and if the estimate be disputed, then the  kinsmen on the male side shall make the estimate, or if they cannot,  they shall commit the matter to the guardians of the law. And when  similar charges of wounding are brought by children against their  parents, those who are more than sixty years of age, having children of  their own, not adopted, shall be required to decide; and if any one is  convicted, they shall determine whether he or she ought to die, or  suffer some other punishment either greater than death, or, at any rate,  not much less. A kinsman of the offender shall not be allowed to judge  the cause, not even if he be of the age which is prescribed by the law.  If a slave in a fit of anger wound a freeman, the owner of the slave  shall give him up to the wounded man, who may do as he pleases with him,  and if be not give him up he shall himself make good the injury. And if  any one says that the slave and the wounded man are conspiring together,  let him argue the point, and if he is cast, he shall pay for the wrong  three times over, but if he gains his case, the freeman who conspired  with the slave shall reliable to an action for kidnapping. And if any  one unintentionally wounds another he shall simply pay for the harm, for  no legislator is able to control chance. In such a case the judges shall  be the same as those who are appointed in the case of children suing  their parents; and they shall estimate the amount of the injury.


All the preceding injuries and every kind of assault are deeds of  violence; and every man, woman, or child ought to consider that the  elder has the precedence of the younger in honour, both among the Gods  and also among men who would live in security and happiness. Wherefore  it is a foul thing and hateful to the Gods to see an elder man assaulted  by a younger in the city; and it is reasonable that a young man when  struck by an elder should lightly endure his anger, laying up in store  for himself a like honour when he is old. Let this be the law: Every one  shall reverence his elder in word and deed; he shall respect any one who  is twenty years older than himself, whether male or female, regarding  him or her as his father or mother; and he shall abstain from laying  hands on any one who is of an age to have been his father or his mother,  out of reverence to the Gods who preside over birth; similarly he shall  keep his hands from a stranger, whether he be an old inhabitant or newly  arrived; he shall not venture to correct such an one by blows, either as  the aggressor or in self-defence. If he thinks that some stranger has  struck him out of wantonness or insolence, and ought to be punished, he  shall take him to the wardens of the city, but let him not strike him,  that the stranger may be kept far away from the possibility of lifting  up his hand against a citizen, and let the wardens of the city take the  offender and examine him, not forgetting their duty to the God of  Strangers, and in case the stranger appears to have struck the citizen  unjustly, let them inflict upon him as many blows with the scourge as he  has himself inflicted, and quell his presumption.


But if he be innocent, they shall threaten and rebuke the man who  arrested him, and let them both go. If a person strikes another of the  same age or somewhat older than himself, who has no children, whether he  be an old man who strikes an old man or a young man who strikes a young  man, let the person struck defend himself in the natural way without a  weapon and with his hands only. He who, being more than forty years of  age, dares to fight with another, whether he be the aggressor or in self  defence, shall be regarded as rude and ill-mannered and slavish; — this  will be a disgraceful punishment, and therefore suitable to him. The  obedient nature will readily yield to such exhortations, but the  disobedient, who heeds not the prelude, shall have the law ready for  him: If any man smite another who is older than himself, either by  twenty or by more years, in the first place, he who is at hand, not  being younger than the combatants, nor their equal in age, shall  separate them, or be disgraced according to law; but if he be the equal  in age of the person who is struck or younger, he shall defend the  person injured as he would a brother or father or still older relative.  Further, let him who dares to smite an elder be tried for assault, as I  have said, and if he be found guilty, let him be imprisoned for a period  of not less than a year, or if the judges approve of a longer period,  their decision shall be final. But if a stranger or metic smite one who  is older by twenty years or more, the same law shall hold about the  bystanders assisting, and he who is found guilty in such a suit, if he  be a stranger but not resident, shall be imprisoned during a period of  two years; and a metic who disobeys the laws shall be imprisoned for  three years, unless the court assign him a longer term. And let him who  was present in any of these cases and did not assist according to law be  punished, if he be of the highest dass, by paying a fine of a mina; or  if he be of the second class, of fifty drachmas; or if of the third  class, by a fine of thirty drachmas; or if he be of the fourth class, by  a fine of twenty drachmas; and the generals and taxiarchs and phylarchs  and hipparchs shall form the court in such cases.


Laws are partly framed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct  them how they thay live on friendly terms with one another, and partly  for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot  be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil. These are  the persons who cause the word to be spoken which I am about to utter;  for them the legislator legislates of necessity, and in the hope that  there may be no need of his laws. He who shall dare to lay violent hands  upon his father or mother, or any still older relative, having no fear  either of the wrath of the Gods above, or of the punishments that are  spoken of in the world below, but transgresses in contempt of ancient  and universal traditions as though he were too wise to believe in them,  requires some extreme measure of prevention. Now death is not the worst  that can happen to men; far worse are the punishments which are said to  pursue them in the world below. But although they are most true tales,  they work on such souls no prevention; for if they had any effect there  would be no slayers of mothers, or impious hands lifted up against  parents; and therefore the punishments of this world which are inflicted  during life ought not in such cases to fall short, if possible, of the  terrors of the world below. Let our enactment then be as follows: If a  man dare to strike his father or his mother, or their fathers or  mothers, he being at the time of sound mind, then let any one who is at  hand come to the rescue as has been already said, and the metic or  stranger who comes to the rescue shall be called to the first place in  the games; but if he do not come he shall suffer the punishment of  perpetual exile. He who is not a metic, if he comes to the rescue, shall  have praise, and if he do not come, blame. And if a slave come to the  rescue, let him be made free, but if he do not come the rescue, let him  receive 100 strokes of the whip, by order of the wardens of the agora,  if the occurrence take place in the agora; or if somewhere in the city  beyond the limits of the agora, any warden of the city is in residence  shall punish him; or if in the country, then the commanders of the  wardens of the country. If those who are near at the time be inhabitants  of the same place, whether they be youths, or men, or women, let them  come to the rescue and denounce him as the impious one; and he who does  not come to the rescue shall fall under the curse of Zeus, the God of  kindred and of ancestors, according to law. And if any one is found  guilty of assaulting a parent, let him in the first place be for ever  banished from the city into the country, and let him abstain from the  temples; and if he do not abstain, the wardens of the country shall  punish him with blows, or in any way which they please, and if he return  he shall be put to death. And if any freeman eat or drink, or have any  other sort of intercourse with him, or only meeting him have voluntarily  touched him, he shall not enter into any temple, nor into the agora, nor  into the city, until he is purified; for he should consider that he has  become tainted by a curse. And if he disobeys the law, and pollutes the  city and the temples contrary to law, and one of the magistrates sees  him and does not indict him, when he gives in his account this omission  shall be a most serious charge.


If a slave strike a freeman, whether a stranger or a citizen, let any  one who is present come to the rescue, or pay the penalty already  mentioned; and let the bystanders bind him, and deliver him up to the  injured person, and he receiving him shall put him in chains, and  inflict on him as many stripes as he pleases; but having punished him he  must surrender him to his master according to law, and not deprive him  of his property. Let the law be as follows: The slave who strikes a  freeman, not at the command of the magistrates, his owner shall receive  bound from the man whom he has stricken, and not release him until the  slave has persuaded the man whom he has stricken that he ought to be  released. And let there be the same laws about women in relation to  women, about men and women in relation to one another.





And now having spoken of assaults, let us sum up all acts of violence  under a single law, which shall be as follows: No one shall take or  carry away any of his neighbour’s goods, neither shall he use anything  which is his neighbour’s without the consent of the owner; for these are  the offences which are and have been, and will ever be, the source of  all the aforesaid evils. The greatest of them are excesses and  insolences of youth, and are offences against the greatest when they are  done against religion; and especially great when in violation of public  and holy rites, or of the partly-common rites in which tribes and  phratries share; and in the second degree great when they are committed  against private rites and sepulchres, and in the third degree (not to  repeat the acts formerly mentioned), when insults are offered to  parents; the fourth kind of violence is when any one, regardless of the  authority of the rulers, takes or carries away or makes use of anything  which belongs to them, not having their consent; and the fifth kind is  when the violation of the civil rights of an individual demands  reparation. There should be a common law embracing all these cases. For  we have already said in general terms what shall be the punishment of  sacrilege, whether fraudulent or violent, and now we have to determine  what is to be the punishment of those who speak or act insolently toward  the Gods. But first we must give them an admonition which may be in the  following terms: No one who in obedience to the laws believed that there  were Gods, ever intentionally did any unholy act, or uttered any  unlawful word; but he who did must have supposed one of three  thingseither that they did not exist, — which is the first possibility,  or secondly, that, if they did, they took no care of man, or thirdly,  that they were easily appeased and turned aside from their purpose, by  sacrifices and prayers. Cleinias What shall we say or do to these  persons? Athenian Stranger My good friend, let us first hear the jests  which I suspect that they in their superiority will utter against us.


Cle. What jests?


Ath. They will make some irreverent speech of this sort: “O inhabitants  of Athens, and Sparta, and Cnosus,” they will reply, “in that you speak  truly; for some of us deny the very existence of the Gods, while others,  as you say, are of opinion that they do not care about us; and others  that they are turned from their course by gifts. Now we have a right to  claim, as you yourself allowed, in the matter of laws, that before you  are hard upon us and threaten us, you should argue with us and convince  us — you should first attempt to teach and persuade us that there are  Gods by reasonable evidences, and also that they are too good to be  unrighteous, or to be propitiated, or turned from their course by gifts.  For when we hear such things said of them by those who are esteemed to  be the best of poets, and orators, and prophets, and priests, and by  innumerable others, the thoughts of most of us are not set upon  abstaining from unrighteous acts, but upon doing them and atoning for  them. When lawgivers profess that they are gentle and not stern, we  think that they should first of all use persuasion to us, and show us  the existence of Gods, if not in a better manner than other men, at any  rate in a truer; and who knows but that we shall hearken to you? If then  our request is a fair one, please to accept our challenge.”


Cle. But is there any difficulty in proving the existence of the Gods?


Ath. How would you prove it?


Cle. How? In the first place, the earth and the sun, and the stars and  the universe, and the fair order of the seasons, and the division of  them into years and months, furnish proofs of their existence; and also  there is the fact that all Hellenes and barbarians believe in them.


Ath. I fear, my sweet friend, though I will not say that I much regard,  the contempt with which the profane will be likely to assail us. For you  do not understand the nature of their complaint, and you fancy that they  rush into impiety only from a love of sensual pleasure.


Cle. Why, Stranger, what other reason is there?


Ath. One which you who live in a different atmosphere would never guess.


Cle. What is it?


Ath. A very grievous sort of ignorance which is imagined to be the  greatest wisdom.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. At Athens there are tales preserved in writing which the virtue of  your state, as I am informed, refuses to admit. They speak of the Gods  in prose as well as verse, and the oldest of them tell of the origin of  the heavens and of the world, and not far from the beginning of their  story they proceed to narrate the birth of the Gods, and how after they  were born they behaved to one another.


Whether these stories have in other ways a good or a bad influence, I  should not like to be severe upon them, because they are ancient; but,  looking at them with reference to the duties of children to their  parents, I cannot praise them, or think that they are useful, or at all  true. Of the words of the ancients I have nothing more to say; and I  should wish to say of them only what is pleasing to the Gods. But as to  our younger generation and their wisdom, I cannot let them off when they  do mischief. For do but mark the effect of their words: when you and I  argue for the existence of the Gods, and produce the sun, moon, stars,  and earth, claiming for them a divine being, if we would listen to the  aforesaid philosophers we should say that they are earth and stones  only, which can have no care at all of human affairs, and that all  religion is a cooking up of words and a make-believe.


Cle. One such teacher, O Stranger, would be bad enough, and you imply  that there are many of them, which is worse.


Ath. Well, then; what shall we say or do? — Shall we assume that some  one is accusing us among unholy men, who are trying to escape from the  effect of our legislation; and that they say of us — How dreadful that  you should legislate on the supposition that there are Gods! Shall we  make a defence of ourselves? or shall we leave them and return to our  laws, lest the prelude should become longer than the law? For the  discourse will certainly extend to great length, if we are to treat the  impiously disposed as they desire, partly demonstrating to them at some  length the things of which they demand an explanation, partly making  them afraid or dissatisfied, and then proceed to the requisite  enactments.


Cle. Yes, Stranger; but then how often have we repeated already that on  the present occasion there is no reason why brevity should be preferred  to length; who is “at our heels”? — as the saying goes, and it would be  paltry and ridiculous to prefer the shorter to the better. It is a  matter of no small consequence, in some way or other to prove that there  are Gods, and that they are good, and regard justice more than men do.  The demonstration of this would be the best and noblest prelude of all  our laws. And therefore, without impatience, and without hurry, let us  unreservedly consider the whole matter, summoning up all the power of  persuasion which we possess.


Ath. Seeing you thus in earnest, I would fain offer up a prayer that I  may succeed: but I must proceed at once. Who can be calm when he is  called upon to prove the existence of the Gods? Who can avoid hating and  abhorring the men who are and have been the cause of this argument; I  speak of those who will not believe the tales which they have heard as  babes and sucklings from their mothers and nurses, repeated by them both  in jest and earnest, like charms, who have also heard them in the  sacrificial prayers, and seen sights accompanying them — sights and  sounds delightful to children — and their parents during the sacrifices  showing an intense earnestness on behalf of their children and of  themselves, and with eager interest talking to the Gods, and beseeching  them, as though they were firmly convinced of their existence; who  likewise see and hear the prostrations and invocations which are made by  Hellenes and barbarians at the rising and setting of the sun and moon,  in all the vicissitudes of life, not as if they thought that there were  no Gods, but as if there could be no doubt of their existence, and no  suspicion of their non-existence; when men, knowing all these things,  despise them on no real grounds, as would be admitted by all who have  any particle of intelligence, and when they force us to say what we are  now saying, how can any one in gentle terms remonstrate with the like of  them, when he has to begin by proving to them the very existence of the  Gods? Yet the attempt must be made; for it would be unseemly that one  half of mankind should go mad in their lust of pleasure, and the other  half in their indignation at such persons.


Our address to these lost and perverted natures should not be spoken in  passion; let us suppose ourselves to select some one of them, and gently  reason with him, smothering our anger: O my son, we will say to him, you  are young, and the advance of time will make you reverse may of the  opinions which you now hold. Wait awhile, and do not attempt to judge at  present of the highest things; and that is the highest of which you now  think nothing — to know the Gods rightly and to live accordingly. And in  the first place let me indicate to you one point which is of great  importance, and about which I cannot be deceived: You and your friends  are not the first who have held this opinion about the Gods. There have  always been persons more or less numerous who have had the same  disorder. I have known many of them, and can tell you, that no one who  had taken up in youth this opinion, that the Gods do not exist, ever  continued in the same until he was old; the two other notions certainly  do continue in some cases, but not in many; the notion, I mean, that the  Gods exist, but take no heed of human things, and the other notion that  they do take heed of them, but are easily propitiated with sacrifices  and prayers. As to the opinion about the Gods which may some day become  clear to you, I advise you go wait and consider if it be true or not;  ask of others, and above all of the legislator. In the meantime take  care that you do not offend against the Gods. For the duty of the  legislator is and always will be to teach you the truth of these  matters.


Cle. Our address, Stranger, thus far, is excellent.


Ath. Quite true, Megillus and Cleinias, but I am afraid that we have  unconsciously lighted on a strange doctrine.


Cle. What doctrine do you mean?


Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.


Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.


Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will  become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.


Cle. Is not that true?


Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well  follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their  disciples.


Cle. By all means.


Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of  nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature  the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser  works which are generally termed artificial.


Cle. How is that?


Ath. I will explain my meaning still more clearly. They say that fire  and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance, and none  of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in orderearth,  and sun, and moon, and stars — they have been created by means of these  absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by  chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among  them — of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and  according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have  been formed by necessity.


After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created,  and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and  all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as  they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and  chance only. Art sprang up afterwards and out of these, mortal and of  mortal birth, and produced in play certain images and very partial  imitations of the truth, having an affinity to one another, such as  music and painting create and their companion arts. And there are other  arts which have a serious purpose, and these co-operate with nature,  such, for example, as medicine, and husbandry, and gymnastic. And they  say that politics cooperate with nature, but in a less degree, and have  more of art; also that legislation is entirely a work of art, and is  based on assumptions which are not true.


Cle. How do you mean?


Ath. In the first place, my dear friend, these people would say that the  Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which  are different in different places, according to the agreement of those  who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and  another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no  existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about  them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art  and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment  and at the time at which they are made.These, my friends, are the  sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the  minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,  and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the  Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise  factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according  to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in  legal subjection to them.


Cle. What a dreadful picture, Stranger, have you given, and how great is  the injury which is thus inflicted on young men to the ruin both of  states and families!


Ath. True, Cleinias; but then what should the lawgiver do when this evil  is of long standing? should he only rise up in the state and threaten  all mankind, proclaiming that if they will not say and think that the  Gods are such as the law ordains (and this may be extended generally to  the honourable, the just, and to all the highest things, and to all that  relates to virtue and vice), and if they will not make their actions  conform to the copy which the law gives them, then he who refuses to  obey the law shall die, or suffer stripes and bonds, or privation of  citizenship, or in some cases be punished by loss of property and exile?  Should he not rather, when he is making laws for men, at the same time  infuse the spirit of persuasion into his words, and mitigate the  severity of them as far as he can?


Cle. Why, Stranger, if such persuasion be at all possible, then a  legislator who has anything in him ought never to weary of persuading  men; he ought to leave nothing unsaid in support of the ancient opinion  that there are Gods, and of all those other truths which you were just  now mentioning; he ought to support the law and also art, and  acknowledge that both alike exist by nature, and no less than nature, if  they are the creations of mind in accordance with right reason, you  appear to me to maintain, and I am disposed to agree with you in  thinking.


Ath. Yes, my enthusiastic Cleinias; but are not these things when spoken  to a multitude hard to be understood, not to mention that they take up a  dismal length of time?


Cle. Why, Stranger, shall we, whose patience failed not when drinking or  music were the themes of discourse, weary now of discoursing about the  Gods, and about divine things? And the greatest help to rational  legislation is that the laws when once written down are always at rest;  they can be put to the test at any future time, and therefore, if on  first hearing they seem difficult, there is no reason for apprehension  about them, because any man however dull can go over them and consider  them again and again; nor if they are tedious but useful, is there any  reason or religion, as it seems to me, in any man refusing to maintain  the principles of them to the utmost of his power.


Megillus. Stranger, I like what Cleinias is saying.


Ath. Yes, Megillus, and we should do as he proposes; for if impious  discourses were not scattered, as I may say, throughout the world, there  would have been no need for any vindication of the existence of the Gods  — but seeing that they are spread far and wide, such arguments are  needed; and who should come to the rescue of the greatest laws, when  they are being undermined by bad men, but the legislator himself?


Meg. There is no more proper champion of them.


Ath. Well, then, tell me, Cleinias — for I must ask you to be my  partnerdoes not he who talks in this way conceive fire and water and  earth and air to be the first elements of all things? These he calls  nature, and out of these he supposes the soul to be formed afterwards;  and this is not a mere conjecture of ours about his meaning, but is what  he really means.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion  of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their  arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious  matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they  lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them.


Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens.


Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular.


Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a  discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there  be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are  Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my  good sir.


Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those  who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they  affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction  of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be  first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of  the Gods.


Cle. Still I do not understand you.


Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature  and power of the soul, especially in what relates to her origin: they do  not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies,  and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions.


And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not  the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to  those which appertain to the body?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior  to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and  primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the  first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which  however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and  will be under the government of art and mind.


Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?


Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first  creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and  not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the  soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you  proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.


Cle. You are quite right.


Ath. Shall we, then, take this as the next point to which our attention  should be directed?


Cle. By all means.


Ath. Let us be on our guard lest this most deceptive argument with its  youthful looks, beguiling us old men, give us the slip and make a  laughing-stock of us. Who knows but we may be aiming at the greater, and  fail of attaining the lesser? Suppose that we three have to pass a rapid  river, and I, being the youngest of the three and experienced in rivers,  take upon me the duty of making the attempt first by myself; leaving you  in safety on the bank, I am to examine whether the river is passable by  older men like yourselves, and if such appears to be the case then I  shall invite you to follow, and my experience will help to convey you  across; but if the river is impassable by you, then there will have been  no danger to anybody but myself — would not that seem to be a very fair  proposal? I mean to say that the argument in prospect is likely to be  too much for you, out of your depth and beyond your strength, and I  should be afraid that the stream of my questions might create in you who  are not in the habit of answering, giddiness and confusion of mind, and  hence a feeling of unpleasantness and unsuitableness might arise. I  think therefore that I had better first ask the questions and then  answer them myself while you listen in safety; in that way I can carry  on the argument until I have completed the proof that the soul is prior  to the body.


Cle. Excellent, Stranger, and I hope that you will do as you propose.


Ath. Come, then, and if ever we are to call upon the Gods, let us call  upon them now in all seriousness to come to the demonstration of their  own existence. And so holding fast to the rope we will venture upon the  depths of the argument. When questions of this sort are asked of me, my  safest answer would appear to be as follows: Some one says to me, “O  Stranger, are all things at rest and nothing in motion, or is the exact  opposite of this true, or are some things in motion and others at rest?  — To this I shall reply that some things are in motion and others at  rest. ”And do not things which move a place, and are not the things  which are at rest at rest in a place?” Certainly. “And some move or rest  in one place and some in more places than one?” You mean to say, we  shall rejoin, that those things which rest at the centre move in one  place, just as the circumference goes round of globes which are said to  be at rest? “Yes.” And we observe that, in the revolution, the motion  which carries round the larger and the lesser circle at the same time is  proportionally distributed to greater and smaller, and is greater and  smaller in a certain proportion. Here is a wonder which might be thought  an impossibility, that the same motion should impart swiftness and  slowness in due proportion to larger and lesser circles.


“Very true.” And when you speak of bodies moving in many places, you  seem to me to mean those which move from one place to another, and  sometimes have one centre of motion and sometimes more than one because  they turn upon their axis; and whenever they meet anything, if it be  stationary, they are divided by it; but if they get in the midst between  bodies which are approaching and moving towards the same spot from  opposite directions, they unite with them. “I admit the truth of what  you are saying.” Also when they unite they grow, and when they are  divided they waste away — that is, supposing the constitution of each to  remain, or if that fails, then there is a second reason of their  dissolution. “And when are all things created and how?” Clearly, they  are created when the first principle receives increase and attains to  the second dimension, and from this arrives at the one which is  neighbour to this, and after reaching the third becomes perceptible to  sense.


Everything which is thus changing and moving is in process of  generation; only when at rest has it real existence, but when passing  into another state it is destroyed utterly. Have we not mentioned all  motions that there are, and comprehended them under their kinds and  numbered them with the exception, my friends, of two?


Cle. Which are they?


Ath. Just the two, with which our present enquiry is concerned.


Cle. Speak plainer.


Ath. I suppose that our enquiry has reference to the soul?


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Let us assume that there is a motion able to move other things, but  not to move itself; — that is one kind; and there is another kind which  can move itself as well as other things, working in composition and  decomposition, by increase and diminution and generation and destruction  — that is also one of the many kinds of motion.


Cle. Granted.


Ath. And we will assume that which moves other, and is changed by other,  to be the ninth, and that which changes itself and others, and is  co-incident with every action and every passion, and is the true  principle of change and motion in all that is — that we shall be  inclined to call the tenth.


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. And which of these ten motions ought we to prefer as being the  mightiest and most efficient?


Cle. I must say that the motion which is able to move itself is ten  thousand times superior to all the others.


Ath. Very good; but may I make one or two corrections in what I have  been saying?


Cle. What are they?


Ath. When I spoke of the tenth sort of motion, that was not quite  correct.


Cle. What was the error?


Ath. According to the true order, the tenth was really the first in  generation and power; then follows the second, which was strangely  enough termed the ninth by us.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. I mean this: when one thing changes another, and that another, of  such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which  is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But  when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus  thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not  the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving  principle?


Cle. Very true, and I quite agree.


Ath. Or, to put the question in another way, making answer to ourselves:  If, as most of these philosophers have the audacity to affirm, all  things were at rest in one mass, which of the above-mentioned principles  of motion would first spring up among them?


Cle. Clearly the self-moving; for there could be no change in them  arising out of any external cause; the change must first take place in  themselves.


Ath. Then we must say that self-motion being the origin of all motions,  and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things  in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that  which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. At this stage of the argument let us put a question.


Cle. What question?


Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or  fiery substance, simple or compound — how should we describe it?


Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power  life?


Ath. I do.


Cle. Certainly we should.


Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same — must we  not admit that this is life?


Cle. We must.


Ath. And now, I beseech you, reflect; — you would admit that we have a  threefold knowledge of things?


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. I mean that we know the essence, and that we know the definition of  the essence, and the name, — these are the three; and there are two  questions which may be raised about anything.


Cle. How two?


Ath. Sometimes a person may give the name and ask the definition; or he  may give the definition and ask the name. I may illustrate what I mean  in this way.


Cle. How?


Ath. Number like some other things is capable of being divided into  equal parts; when thus divided, number is named “even,” and the  definition of the name “even” is “number divisible into two equal  parts”?


Cle. True.


Ath. I mean, that when we are asked about the definition and give the  name, or when we are asked about the name and give the definition — in  either case, whether we give name or definition, we speak of the same  thing, calling “even” the number which is divided into two equal parts.


Cle. Quite true.


Ath. And what is the definition of that which is named “soul”? Can we  conceive of any other than that which has been already given — the  motion which can move itself?


Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the selfmoved  is the same with that which has the name soul?


Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is  anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and  moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their  contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change  and motion in all things?


Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been  most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.


Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of  another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the  change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower  number which you may prefer?


Cle. Exactly.


Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth,  when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is  second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the  ruler?


Cle. Nothing can be more true.


Ath. Do you remember our old admission, that if the soul was prior to  the body the things of the soul were also prior to those of the body?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then characters and manners, and wishes and reasonings, and true  opinions, and reflections, and recollections are prior to length and  breadth and depth and strength of bodies, if the soul is prior to the  body.


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. In the next place, must we not of necessity admit that the soul is  the cause of good and evil, base and honourable, just and unjust, and of  all other opposites, if we suppose her to be the cause of all things?


Cle. We must.


Ath. And as the soul orders and inhabits all things that move, however  moving, must we not say that she orders also the heavens?


Cle. Of course.


Ath. One soul or more? More than one — I will answer for you; at any  rate, we must not suppose that there are less than two — one the author  of good, and the other of evil.


Cle. Very true.


Ath. Yes, very true; the soul then directs all things in heaven, and  earth, and sea by her movements, and these are described by the  termswill, consideration, attention, deliberation, opinion true and  false, joy and sorrow, confidence, fear, hatred, love, and other primary  motions akin to these; which again receive the secondary motions of  corporeal substances, and guide all things to growth and decay, to  composition and decomposition, and to the qualities which accompany  them, such as heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, hardness and  softness, blackness and whiteness, bitterness and sweetness, and all  those other qualities which the soul uses, herself a goddess, when truly  receiving the divine mind she disciplines all things rightly to their  happiness; but when she is the companion of folly, she does the very  contrary of all this. Shall we assume so much, or do we still entertain  doubts?


Cle. There is no room at all for doubt.


Ath. Shall we say then that it is the soul which controls heaven and  earth, and the whole world? — that it is a principle of wisdom and  virtue, or a principle which has neither wisdom nor virtue? Suppose that  we make answer as follows:


Cle. How would you answer?


Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole p


Ath. and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature  akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and  proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best  soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path.


Cle. True.


Ath. But if the world moves wildly and irregularly, then the evil soul  guides it.


Cle. True again.


Ath. Of what nature is the movement of mind? — To this question it is  not easy to give an intelligent answer; and therefore I ought to assist  you in framing one.


Cle. Very good.


Ath. Then let us not answer as if we would look straight at the sun,  making ourselves darkness at midday — I mean as if we were under the  impression that we could see with mortal eyes, or know adequately the  nature of mind; — it will be safer to look at the image only.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. Let us select of the ten motions the one which mind chiefly  resembles; this I will bring to your recollection, and will then make  the answer on behalf of us all.


Cle. That will be excellent.


Ath. You will surely remember our saying that all things were either at  rest or in motion?


Cle. I do.


Ath. And that of things in motion some were moving in one place, and  others in more than one?


Cle. Yes.


Ath. Of these two kinds of motion, that which moves in one place must  move about a centre like globes made in a lathe, and is most entirely  akin and similar to the circular movement of mind.


Cle. What do you mean?


Ath. In saying that both mind and the motion which is in one place move  in the same and like manner, in and about the same, and in relation to  the same, and according to one proportion and order, and are like the  motion of a globe, we invented a fair image, which does no discredit to  our ingenuity.


Cle. It does us great credit.


Ath. And the motion of the other sort which is not after the same  manner, nor in the same, nor about the same, nor in relation to the  same, nor in one place, nor in order, nor according to any rule or  proportion, may be said to be akin to senselessness and folly?


Cle. That is most true.


Ath. Then, after what has been said, there is no difficulty in  distinctly stating, that since soul carries all things round, either the  best soul or the contrary must of necessity carry round and order and  arrange the revolution of the heaven.


Cle. And judging from what has been said, Stranger, there would be  impiety in asserting that any but the most perfect soul or souls carries  round the heavens.


Ath. You have understood my meaning right well, Cleinias, and now let me  ask you another question.


Cle. What are you going to ask?


Ath. If the soul carries round the sun and moon, and the other stars,  does she not carry round each individual of them?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Then of one of them let us speak, and the same argument will apply  to all.


Cle. Which will you take?


Ath. Every one sees the body of the sun, but no one sees his soul, nor  the soul of any other body living or dead; and yet there is great reason  to believe that this nature, unperceived by any of our senses, is  circumfused around them all, but is perceived by mind; and therefore by  mind and reflection only let us apprehend the following point.


Cle. What is that?


Ath. If the soul carries round the sun, we shall not be far wrong in  supposing one of three alternatives.


Cle. What are they?


Ath. Either the soul which moves the sun this way and that, resides  within the circular and visible body, like the soul which carries us  about every way; or the soul provides herself with an external body of  fire or air, as some affirm, and violently propels body by body; or  thirdly, she is without such abody, but guides the sun by some  extraordinary and wonderful power.


Cle. Yes, certainly; the soul can only order all things in one of these  three ways.


Ath. And this soul of the sun, which is therefore better than the sun,  whether taking the sun about in a chariot to give light to men, or  acting from without or in whatever way, ought by every man to be deemed  a God.


Cle. Yes, by every man who has the least parti


Cle. of sense.


Ath. And of the stars too, and of the moon, and of the years and months  and seasons, must we not say in like manner, that since a soul or souls  having every sort of excellence are the causes of all of them, those  souls are Gods, whether they are living beings and reside in bodies, and  in this way order the whole heaven, or whatever be the place and mode of  their existence; — and will any one who admits all this venture to deny  that all things full of Gods?


Cle. No one, Stranger, would be such a madman.


Ath. And now, Megillus and Cleinias, let us offer terms to him who has  hitherto denied the existence of the Gods, and leave him.


Cle. What terms?


Ath. Either he shall teach us that we were wrong in saying that the soul  is the original of all things, and arguing accordingly; or, if he be not  able to say anything better, then he must yield to us and live for the  remainder of his life in the belief that there are Gods. — Let us see,  then, whether we have said enough or not enough to those who deny that  there are Gods.


Cle. Certainly — quite enough, Stranger.


Ath. Then to them we will say no more. And now we are to address him  who, believing that there are Gods, believes also that they take no heed  of human affairs: To him we say — O thou best of men, in believing that  there are Gods you are led by some affinity to them, which attracts you  towards your kindred and makes you honour and believe in them. But the  fortunes of evil and unrighteous men in private as well as public life,  which, though not really happy, are wrongly counted happy in the  judgment of men, and are celebrated both by poets and prose writers —  these draw you aside from your natural piety. Perhaps you have seen  impious men growing old and leaving their children’s children in high  offices, and their prosperity shakes your faith — you have known or  heard or been yourself an eyewitness of many monstrous impieties, and  have beheld men by such criminal means from small beginnings attaining  to sovereignty and the pinnacle of greatness; and considering all these  things you do not like to accuse the Gods of them, because they are your  relatives; and so from some want of reasoning power, and also from an  unwillingness to find fault with them, you have come to believe that  they exist indeed, but have no thought or care of human things. Now,  that your present evil opinion may not grow to still greater impiety,  and that we may if possible use arguments which may conjure away the  evil before it arrives, we will add another argument to that originally  addressed to him who utterly denied the existence of the Gods. And do  you, Megillus and Cleinias, answer for the young man as you did before;  and if any impediment comes in our way, I will take the word out of your  mouths, and carry you over the river as I did just now.


Cle. Very good; do as you say, and we will help you as well as we can.


Ath. There will probably be no difficulty in proving to him that the  Gods care about the small as well as about the great. For he was present  and heard what was said, that they are perfectly good, and that the care  of all things is most entirely natural to them.


Cle. No doubt he heard that.


Ath. Let us consider together in the next place what we mean by this  virtue which we ascribe to them. Surely we should say that to be  temperate and to possess mind belongs to virtue, and the contrary to  vice?


Cle. Certainly.


Ath. Yes; and courage is a part of virtue, and cowardice of vice?


Cle. True.


Ath. And the one is honourable, and the other dishonourable?


Cle. To be sure.


Ath. And the one, like other meaner things, is a human quality, but the  Gods have no part in anything of the sort?