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´╗┐Title: Laws
Author: Plato, 427? BC-347? BC
Language: English
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By Plato

Translated By Benjamin Jowett


The genuineness of the Laws is sufficiently proved (1) by more than
twenty citations of them in the writings of Aristotle, who was residing
at Athens during the last twenty years of the life of Plato, and who,
having left it after his death (B.C. 347), returned thither twelve years
later (B.C. 335); (2) by the allusion of Isocrates

(Oratio ad Philippum missa, p.84: To men tais paneguresin enochlein
kai pros apantas legein tous sunprechontas en autais pros oudena legein
estin, all omoios oi toioutoi ton logon (sc. speeches in the assembly)
akuroi tugchanousin ontes tois nomois kai tais politeiais tais upo ton
sophiston gegrammenais.) --writing 346 B.C., a year after the death
of Plato, and probably not more than three or four years after the
composition of the Laws--who speaks of the Laws and Republics written by
philosophers (upo ton sophiston); (3) by the reference (Athen.) of the
comic poet Alexis, a younger contemporary of Plato (fl. B.C 356-306), to
the enactment about prices, which occurs in Laws xi., viz that the same
goods should not be offered at two prices on the same day

     (Ou gegone kreitton nomothetes tou plousiou
     Aristonikou tithesi gar nuni nomon,
     ton ichthuopolon ostis an polon tini
     ichthun upotimesas apodot elattonos
     es eipe times, eis to desmoterion
     euthus apagesthai touton, ina dedoikotes
     tes axias agaposin, e tes esperas
     saprous apantas apopherosin oikade.

Meineke, Frag. Com. Graec.); (4) by the unanimous voice of later
antiquity and the absence of any suspicion among ancient writers worth
speaking of to the contrary; for it is not said of Philippus of Opus
that he composed any part of the Laws, but only that he copied them
out of the waxen tablets, and was thought by some to have written the
Epinomis (Diog. Laert.) That the longest and one of the best writings
bearing the name of Plato should be a forgery, even if its genuineness
were unsupported by external testimony, would be a singular phenomenon
in ancient literature; and although the critical worth of the consensus
of late writers is generally not to be compared with the express
testimony of contemporaries, yet a somewhat greater value may be
attributed to their consent in the present instance, because the
admission of the Laws is combined with doubts about the Epinomis,
a spurious writing, which is a kind of epilogue to the larger work
probably of a much later date. This shows that the reception of the Laws
was not altogether undiscriminating.

The suspicion which has attached to the Laws of Plato in the judgment
of some modern writers appears to rest partly (1) on differences in
the style and form of the work, and (2) on differences of thought and
opinion which they observe in them. Their suspicion is increased by the
fact that these differences are accompanied by resemblances as striking
to passages in other Platonic writings. They are sensible of a want
of point in the dialogue and a general inferiority in the ideas,
plan, manners, and style. They miss the poetical flow, the dramatic
verisimilitude, the life and variety of the characters, the dialectic
subtlety, the Attic purity, the luminous order, the exquisite urbanity;
instead of which they find tautology, obscurity, self-sufficiency,
sermonizing, rhetorical declamation, pedantry, egotism, uncouth forms
of sentences, and peculiarities in the use of words and idioms. They are
unable to discover any unity in the patched, irregular structure. The
speculative element both in government and education is superseded by
a narrow economical or religious vein. The grace and cheerfulness of
Athenian life have disappeared; and a spirit of moroseness and religious
intolerance has taken their place. The charm of youth is no longer
there; the mannerism of age makes itself unpleasantly felt. The
connection is often imperfect; and there is a want of arrangement,
exhibited especially in the enumeration of the laws towards the end of
the work. The Laws are full of flaws and repetitions. The Greek is in
places very ungrammatical and intractable. A cynical levity is displayed
in some passages, and a tone of disappointment and lamentation over
human things in others. The critics seem also to observe in them bad
imitations of thoughts which are better expressed in Plato's other
writings. Lastly, they wonder how the mind which conceived the Republic
could have left the Critias, Hermocrates, and Philosophus incomplete or
unwritten, and have devoted the last years of life to the Laws.

The questions which have been thus indirectly suggested may be
considered by us under five or six heads: I, the characters; II, the
plan; III, the style; IV, the imitations of other writings of Plato;
V; the more general relation of the Laws to the Republic and the other
dialogues; and VI, to the existing Athenian and Spartan states.

I. Already in the Philebus the distinctive character of Socrates has
disappeared; and in the Timaeus, Sophist, and Statesman his function of
chief speaker is handed over to the Pythagorean philosopher Timaeus, and
to the Eleatic Stranger, at whose feet he sits, and is silent. More and
more Plato seems to have felt in his later writings that the character
and method of Socrates were no longer suited to be the vehicle of his
own philosophy. He is no longer interrogative but dogmatic; not 'a
hesitating enquirer,' but one who speaks with the authority of a
legislator. Even in the Republic we have seen that the argument which is
carried on by Socrates in the old style with Thrasymachus in the first
book, soon passes into the form of exposition. In the Laws he is nowhere
mentioned. Yet so completely in the tradition of antiquity is Socrates
identified with Plato, that in the criticism of the Laws which we find
in the so-called Politics of Aristotle he is supposed by the writer
still to be playing his part of the chief speaker (compare Pol.).

The Laws are discussed by three representatives of Athens, Crete, and
Sparta. The Athenian, as might be expected, is the protagonist or chief
speaker, while the second place is assigned to the Cretan, who, as
one of the leaders of a new colony, has a special interest in the
conversation. At least four-fifths of the answers are put into his
mouth. The Spartan is every inch a soldier, a man of few words himself,
better at deeds than words. The Athenian talks to the two others,
although they are his equals in age, in the style of a master
discoursing to his scholars; he frequently praises himself; he
entertains a very poor opinion of the understanding of his companions.
Certainly the boastfulness and rudeness of the Laws is the reverse of
the refined irony and courtesy which characterize the earlier dialogues.
We are no longer in such good company as in the Phaedrus and Symposium.
Manners are lost sight of in the earnestness of the speakers, and
dogmatic assertions take the place of poetical fancies.

The scene is laid in Crete, and the conversation is held in the course
of a walk from Cnosus to the cave and temple of Zeus, which takes place
on one of the longest and hottest days of the year. The companions start
at dawn, and arrive at the point in their conversation which terminates
the fourth book, about noon. The God to whose temple they are going is
the lawgiver of Crete, and this may be supposed to be the very cave
at which he gave his oracles to Minos. But the externals of the scene,
which are briefly and inartistically described, soon disappear, and we
plunge abruptly into the subject of the dialogue. We are reminded by
contrast of the higher art of the Phaedrus, in which the summer's day,
and the cool stream, and the chirping of the grasshoppers, and the
fragrance of the agnus castus, and the legends of the place are present
to the imagination throughout the discourse.

The typical Athenian apologizes for the tendency of his countrymen
'to spin a long discussion out of slender materials,' and in a similar
spirit the Lacedaemonian Megillus apologizes for the Spartan brevity
(compare Thucydid.), acknowledging at the same time that there may be
occasions when long discourses are necessary. The family of Megillus is
the proxenus of Athens at Sparta; and he pays a beautiful compliment to
the Athenian, significant of the character of the work, which, though
borrowing many elements from Sparta, is also pervaded by an Athenian
spirit. A good Athenian, he says, is more than ordinarily good, because
he is inspired by nature and not manufactured by law. The love of
listening which is attributed to the Timocrat in the Republic is also
exhibited in him. The Athenian on his side has a pleasure in speaking to
the Lacedaemonian of the struggle in which their ancestors were jointly
engaged against the Persians. A connexion with Athens is likewise
intimated by the Cretan Cleinias. He is the relative of Epimenides,
whom, by an anachronism of a century,--perhaps arising as Zeller
suggests (Plat. Stud.) out of a confusion of the visit of Epimenides
and Diotima (Symp.),--he describes as coming to Athens, not after the
attempt of Cylon, but ten years before the Persian war. The Cretan and
Lacedaemonian hardly contribute at all to the argument of which the
Athenian is the expounder; they only supply information when asked about
the institutions of their respective countries. A kind of simplicity or
stupidity is ascribed to them. At first, they are dissatisfied with the
free criticisms which the Athenian passes upon the laws of Minos and
Lycurgus, but they acquiesce in his greater experience and knowledge of
the world. They admit that there can be no objection to the enquiry; for
in the spirit of the legislator himself, they are discussing his laws
when there are no young men present to listen. They are unwilling to
allow that the Spartan and Cretan lawgivers can have been mistaken
in honouring courage as the first part of virtue, and are puzzled at
hearing for the first time that 'Goods are only evil to the evil.'
Several times they are on the point of quarrelling, and by an effort
learn to restrain their natural feeling (compare Shakespeare, Henry V,
act iii. sc. 2). In Book vii., the Lacedaemonian expresses a momentary
irritation at the accusation which the Athenian brings against the
Spartan institutions, of encouraging licentiousness in their women,
but he is reminded by the Cretan that the permission to criticize them
freely has been given, and cannot be retracted. His only criterion of
truth is the authority of the Spartan lawgiver; he is 'interested,'
in the novel speculations of the Athenian, but inclines to prefer the
ordinances of Lycurgus.

The three interlocutors all of them speak in the character of old
men, which forms a pleasant bond of union between them. They have the
feelings of old age about youth, about the state, about human things in
general. Nothing in life seems to be of much importance to them; they
are spectators rather than actors, and men in general appear to the
Athenian speaker to be the playthings of the Gods and of circumstances.
Still they have a fatherly care of the young, and are deeply impressed
by sentiments of religion. They would give confidence to the aged by an
increasing use of wine, which, as they get older, is to unloose their
tongues and make them sing. The prospect of the existence of the soul
after death is constantly present to them; though they can hardly be
said to have the cheerful hope and resignation which animates Socrates
in the Phaedo or Cephalus in the Republic. Plato appears to be
expressing his own feelings in remarks of this sort. For at the time of
writing the first book of the Laws he was at least seventy-four years of
age, if we suppose him to allude to the victory of the Syracusans under
Dionysius the Younger over the Locrians, which occurred in the year 356.
Such a sadness was the natural effect of declining years and failing
powers, which make men ask, 'After all, what profit is there in life?'
They feel that their work is beginning to be over, and are ready to say,
'All the world is a stage;' or, in the actual words of Plato, 'Let us
play as good plays as we can,' though 'we must be sometimes serious,
which is not agreeable, but necessary.' These are feelings which have
crossed the minds of reflective persons in all ages, and there is no
reason to connect the Laws any more than other parts of Plato's writings
with the very uncertain narrative of his life, or to imagine that this
melancholy tone is attributable to disappointment at having failed to
convert a Sicilian tyrant into a philosopher.

II. The plan of the Laws is more irregular and has less connexion than
any other of the writings of Plato. As Aristotle says in the Politics,
'The greater part consists of laws'; in Books v, vi, xi, xii the
dialogue almost entirely disappears. Large portions of them are rather
the materials for a work than a finished composition which may rank with
the other Platonic dialogues. To use his own image, 'Some stones are
regularly inserted in the building; others are lying on the ground ready
for use.' There is probably truth in the tradition that the Laws were
not published until after the death of Plato. We can easily believe that
he has left imperfections, which would have been removed if he had
lived a few years longer. The arrangement might have been improved;
the connexion of the argument might have been made plainer, and the
sentences more accurately framed. Something also may be attributed
to the feebleness of old age. Even a rough sketch of the Phaedrus or
Symposium would have had a very different look. There is, however, an
interest in possessing one writing of Plato which is in the process of

We must endeavour to find a thread of order which will carry us through
this comparative disorder. The first four books are described by Plato
himself as the preface or preamble. Having arrived at the conclusion
that each law should have a preamble, the lucky thought occurs to him at
the end of the fourth book that the preceding discourse is the
preamble of the whole. This preamble or introduction may be abridged as

The institutions of Sparta and Crete are admitted by the Lacedaemonian
and Cretan to have one aim only: they were intended by the legislator
to inspire courage in war. To this the Athenian objects that the true
lawgiver should frame his laws with a view to all the virtues and not
to one only. Better is he who has temperance as well as courage, than he
who has courage only; better is he who is faithful in civil broils,
than he who is a good soldier only. Better, too, is peace than war; the
reconciliation than the defeat of an enemy. And he who would attain all
virtue should be trained amid pleasures as well as pains. Hence
there should be convivial intercourse among the citizens, and a man's
temperance should be tested in his cups, as we test his courage amid
dangers. He should have a fear of the right sort, as well as a courage
of the right sort.

At the beginning of the second book the subject of pleasure leads to
education, which in the early years of life is wholly a discipline
imparted by the means of pleasure and pain. The discipline of pleasure
is implanted chiefly by the practice of the song and the dance. Of
these the forms should be fixed, and not allowed to depend on the fickle
breath of the multitude. There will be choruses of boys, girls, and
grown-up persons, and all will be heard repeating the same strain, that
'virtue is happiness.' One of them will give the law to the rest; this
will be the chorus of aged minstrels, who will sing the most beautiful
and the most useful of songs. They will require a little wine, to mellow
the austerity of age, and make them amenable to the laws.

After having laid down as the first principle of politics, that peace,
and not war, is the true aim of the legislator, and briefly discussed
music and festive intercourse, at the commencement of the third book
Plato makes a digression, in which he speaks of the origin of society.
He describes, first of all, the family; secondly, the patriarchal stage,
which is an aggregation of families; thirdly, the founding of regular
cities, like Ilium; fourthly, the establishment of a military and
political system, like that of Sparta, with which he identifies Argos
and Messene, dating from the return of the Heraclidae. But the aims of
states should be good, or else, like the prayer of Theseus, they may
be ruinous to themselves. This was the case in two out of three of the
Heracleid kingdoms. They did not understand that the powers in a state
should be balanced. The balance of powers saved Sparta, while the excess
of tyranny in Persia and the excess of liberty at Athens have been the
ruin of both...This discourse on politics is suddenly discovered to have
an immediate practical use; for Cleinias the Cretan is about to give
laws to a new colony.

At the beginning of the fourth book, after enquiring into the
circumstances and situation of the colony, the Athenian proceeds to make
further reflections. Chance, and God, and the skill of the legislator,
all co-operate in the formation of states. And the most favourable
condition for the foundation of a new one is when the government is
in the hands of a virtuous tyrant who has the good fortune to be
the contemporary of a great legislator. But a virtuous tyrant is a
contradiction in terms; we can at best only hope to have magistrates who
are the servants of reason and the law. This leads to the enquiry, what
is to be the polity of our new state. And the answer is, that we are to
fear God, and honour our parents, and to cultivate virtue and justice;
these are to be our first principles. Laws must be definite, and
we should create in the citizens a predisposition to obey them. The
legislator will teach as well as command; and with this view he will
prefix preambles to his principal laws.

The fifth book commences in a sort of dithyramb with another and higher
preamble about the honour due to the soul, whence are deduced the duties
of a man to his parents and his friends, to the suppliant and stranger.
He should be true and just, free from envy and excess of all sorts,
forgiving to crimes which are not incurable and are partly involuntary;
and he should have a true taste. The noblest life has the greatest
pleasures and the fewest pains...Having finished the preamble, and
touched on some other preliminary considerations, we proceed to the
Laws, beginning with the constitution of the state. This is not the best
or ideal state, having all things common, but only the second-best,
in which the land and houses are to be distributed among 5040 citizens
divided into four classes. There is to be no gold or silver among
them, and they are to have moderate wealth, and to respect number and
numerical order in all things.

In the first part of the sixth book, Plato completes his sketch of the
constitution by the appointment of officers. He explains the manner
in which guardians of the law, generals, priests, wardens of town
and country, ministers of education, and other magistrates are to be
appointed; and also in what way courts of appeal are to be constituted,
and omissions in the law to be supplied. Next--and at this point
the Laws strictly speaking begin--there follow enactments respecting
marriage and the procreation of children, respecting property in slaves
as well as of other kinds, respecting houses, married life, common
tables for men and women. The question of age in marriage suggests the
consideration of a similar question about the time for holding offices,
and for military service, which had been previously omitted.

Resuming the order of the discussion, which was indicated in the
previous book, from marriage and birth we proceed to education in the
seventh book. Education is to begin at or rather before birth; to be
continued for a time by mothers and nurses under the supervision of
the state; finally, to comprehend music and gymnastics. Under music is
included reading, writing, playing on the lyre, arithmetic, geometry,
and a knowledge of astronomy sufficient to preserve the minds of the
citizens from impiety in after-life. Gymnastics are to be practised
chiefly with a view to their use in war. The discussion of education,
which was lightly touched upon in Book ii, is here completed.

The eighth book contains regulations for civil life, beginning with
festivals, games, and contests, military exercises and the like. On such
occasions Plato seems to see young men and maidens meeting together,
and hence he is led into discussing the relations of the sexes, the evil
consequences which arise out of the indulgence of the passions, and the
remedies for them. Then he proceeds to speak of agriculture, of arts and
trades, of buying and selling, and of foreign commerce.

The remaining books of the Laws, ix-xii, are chiefly concerned with
criminal offences. In the first class are placed offences against the
Gods, especially sacrilege or robbery of temples: next follow offences
against the state,--conspiracy, treason, theft. The mention of thefts
suggests a distinction between voluntary and involuntary, curable and
incurable offences. Proceeding to the greater crime of homicide, Plato
distinguishes between mere homicide, manslaughter, which is partly
voluntary and partly involuntary, and murder, which arises from avarice,
ambition, fear. He also enumerates murders by kindred, murders by
slaves, wounds with or without intent to kill, wounds inflicted in
anger, crimes of or against slaves, insults to parents. To these,
various modes of purification or degrees of punishment are assigned, and
the terrors of another world are also invoked against them.

At the beginning of Book x, all acts of violence, including sacrilege,
are summed up in a single law. The law is preceded by an admonition, in
which the offenders are informed that no one ever did an unholy act or
said an unlawful word while he retained his belief in the existence of
the Gods; but either he denied their existence, or he believed that they
took no care of man, or that they might be turned from their course
by sacrifices and prayers. The remainder of the book is devoted to the
refutation of these three classes of unbelievers, and concludes with the
means to be taken for their reformation, and the announcement of their
punishments if they continue obstinate and impenitent.

The eleventh book is taken up with laws and with admonitions relating to
individuals, which follow one another without any exact order. There are
laws concerning deposits and the finding of treasure; concerning slaves
and freedmen; concerning retail trade, bequests, divorces, enchantments,
poisonings, magical arts, and the like. In the twelfth book the same
subjects are continued. Laws are passed concerning violations of
military discipline, concerning the high office of the examiners and
their burial; concerning oaths and the violation of them, and the
punishments of those who neglect their duties as citizens. Foreign
travel is then discussed, and the permission to be accorded to citizens
of journeying in foreign parts; the strangers who may come to visit
the city are also spoken of, and the manner in which they are to be
received. Laws are added respecting sureties, searches for property,
right of possession by prescription, abduction of witnesses, theatrical
competition, waging of private warfare, and bribery in offices. Rules
are laid down respecting taxation, respecting economy in sacred rites,
respecting judges, their duties and sentences, and respecting sepulchral
places and ceremonies. Here the Laws end. Lastly, a Nocturnal Council
is instituted for the preservation of the state, consisting of older and
younger members, who are to exhibit in their lives that virtue which is
the basis of the state, to know the one in many, and to be educated
in divine and every other kind of knowledge which will enable them to
fulfil their office.

III. The style of the Laws differs in several important respects from
that of the other dialogues of Plato: (1) in the want of character,
power, and lively illustration; (2) in the frequency of mannerisms
(compare Introduction to the Philebus); (3) in the form and rhythm of
the sentences; (4) in the use of words. On the other hand, there are
many passages (5) which are characterized by a sort of ethical grandeur;
and (6) in which, perhaps, a greater insight into human nature, and a
greater reach of practical wisdom is shown, than in any other of Plato's

1. The discourse of the three old men is described by themselves as an
old man's game of play. Yet there is little of the liveliness of a game
in their mode of treating the subject. They do not throw the ball to
and fro, but two out of the three are listeners to the third, who is
constantly asserting his superior wisdom and opportunities of knowledge,
and apologizing (not without reason) for his own want of clearness of
speech. He will 'carry them over the stream;' he will answer for them
when the argument is beyond their comprehension; he is afraid of their
ignorance of mathematics, and thinks that gymnastic is likely to be more
intelligible to them;--he has repeated his words several times, and yet
they cannot understand him. The subject did not properly take the form
of dialogue, and also the literary vigour of Plato had passed away. The
old men speak as they might be expected to speak, and in this there is
a touch of dramatic truth. Plato has given the Laws that form or want of
form which indicates the failure of natural power. There is no regular
plan--none of that consciousness of what has preceded and what is to
follow, which makes a perfect style,--but there are several attempts
at a plan; the argument is 'pulled up,' and frequent explanations are
offered why a particular topic was introduced.

The fictions of the Laws have no longer the verisimilitude which
is characteristic of the Phaedrus and the Timaeus, or even of the
Statesman. We can hardly suppose that an educated Athenian would have
placed the visit of Epimenides to Athens ten years before the
Persian war, or have imagined that a war with Messene prevented the
Lacedaemonians from coming to the rescue of Hellas. The narrative of the
origin of the Dorian institutions, which are said to have been due to
a fear of the growing power of the Assyrians, is a plausible invention,
which may be compared with the tale of the island of Atlantis and the
poem of Solon, but is not accredited by similar arts of deception.
The other statement that the Dorians were Achaean exiles assembled
by Dorieus, and the assertion that Troy was included in the Assyrian
Empire, have some foundation (compare for the latter point, Diod.
Sicul.). Nor is there anywhere in the Laws that lively enargeia, that
vivid mise en scene, which is as characteristic of Plato as of some
modern novelists.

The old men are afraid of the ridicule which 'will fall on their heads
more than enough,' and they do not often indulge in a joke. In one
of the few which occur, the book of the Laws, if left incomplete, is
compared to a monster wandering about without a head. But we no longer
breathe the atmosphere of humour which pervades the Symposium and the
Euthydemus, in which we pass within a few sentences from the broadest
Aristophanic joke to the subtlest refinement of wit and fancy; instead
of this, in the Laws an impression of baldness and feebleness is often
left upon our minds. Some of the most amusing descriptions, as, for
example, of children roaring for the first three years of life; or of
the Athenians walking into the country with fighting-cocks under their
arms; or of the slave doctor who knocks about his patients finely; and
the gentleman doctor who courteously persuades them; or of the way of
keeping order in the theatre, 'by a hint from a stick,' are narrated
with a commonplace gravity; but where we find this sort of dry humour we
shall not be far wrong in thinking that the writer intended to make us
laugh. The seriousness of age takes the place of the jollity of youth.
Life should have holidays and festivals; yet we rebuke ourselves when we
laugh, and take our pleasures sadly. The irony of the earlier dialogues,
of which some traces occur in the tenth book, is replaced by a severity
which hardly condescends to regard human things. 'Let us say, if you
please, that man is of some account, but I was speaking of him in
comparison with God.'

The imagery and illustrations are poor in themselves, and are not
assisted by the surrounding phraseology. We have seen how in the
Republic, and in the earlier dialogues, figures of speech such as 'the
wave,' 'the drone,' 'the chase,' 'the bride,' appear and reappear at
intervals. Notes are struck which are repeated from time to time, as
in a strain of music. There is none of this subtle art in the Laws. The
illustrations, such as the two kinds of doctors, 'the three kinds of
funerals,' the fear potion, the puppet, the painter leaving a successor
to restore his picture, the 'person stopping to consider where three
ways meet,' the 'old laws about water of which he will not divert the
course,' can hardly be said to do much credit to Plato's invention. The
citations from the poets have lost that fanciful character which gave
them their charm in the earlier dialogues. We are tired of images taken
from the arts of navigation, or archery, or weaving, or painting, or
medicine, or music. Yet the comparisons of life to a tragedy, or of
the working of mind to the revolution of the self-moved, or of the aged
parent to the image of a God dwelling in the house, or the reflection
that 'man is made to be the plaything of God, and that this rightly
considered is the best of him,' have great beauty.

2. The clumsiness of the style is exhibited in frequent mannerisms and
repetitions. The perfection of the Platonic dialogue consists in the
accuracy with which the question and answer are fitted into one another,
and the regularity with which the steps of the argument succeed one
another. This finish of style is no longer discernible in the Laws.
There is a want of variety in the answers; nothing can be drawn out
of the respondents but 'Yes' or 'No,' 'True,' 'To be sure,' etc.; the
insipid forms, 'What do you mean?' 'To what are you referring?' are
constantly returning. Again and again the speaker is charged, or charges
himself, with obscurity; and he repeats again and again that he will
explain his views more clearly. The process of thought which should
be latent in the mind of the writer appears on the surface. In several
passages the Athenian praises himself in the most unblushing manner,
very unlike the irony of the earlier dialogues, as when he declares that
'the laws are a divine work given by some inspiration of the Gods,' and
that 'youth should commit them to memory instead of the compositions of
the poets.' The prosopopoeia which is adopted by Plato in the Protagoras
and other dialogues is repeated until we grow weary of it. The
legislator is always addressing the speakers or the youth of the state,
and the speakers are constantly making addresses to the legislator. A
tendency to a paradoxical manner of statement is also observable. 'We
must have drinking,' 'we must have a virtuous tyrant'--this is too much
for the duller wits of the Lacedaemonian and Cretan, who at first start
back in surprise. More than in any other writing of Plato the tone is
hortatory; the laws are sermons as well as laws; they are considered to
have a religious sanction, and to rest upon a religious sentiment in the
mind of the citizens. The words of the Athenian are attributed to the
Lacedaemonian and Cretan, who are supposed to have made them their own,
after the manner of the earlier dialogues. Resumptions of subjects which
have been half disposed of in a previous passage constantly occur: the
arrangement has neither the clearness of art nor the freedom of nature.
Irrelevant remarks are made here and there, or illustrations used which
are not properly fitted in. The dialogue is generally weak and laboured,
and is in the later books fairly given up, apparently, because unsuited
to the subject of the work. The long speeches or sermons of the
Athenian, often extending over several pages, have never the grace
and harmony which are exhibited in the earlier dialogues. For Plato is
incapable of sustained composition; his genius is dramatic rather than
oratorical; he can converse, but he cannot make a speech. Even the
Timaeus, which is one of his most finished works, is full of abrupt
transitions. There is the same kind of difference between the dialogue
and the continuous discourse of Plato as between the narrative and
speeches of Thucydides.

3. The perfection of style is variety in unity, freedom, ease,
clearness, the power of saying anything, and of striking any note in the
scale of human feelings without impropriety; and such is the divine gift
of language possessed by Plato in the Symposium and Phaedrus. From this
there are many fallings-off in the Laws: first, in the structure of
the sentences, which are rhythmical and monotonous,--the formal and
sophistical manner of the age is superseding the natural genius of
Plato: secondly, many of them are of enormous length, and the latter end
often forgets the beginning of them,--they seem never to have received
the second thoughts of the author; either the emphasis is wrongly
placed, or there is a want of point in a clause; or an absolute case
occurs which is not properly separated from the rest of the sentence; or
words are aggregated in a manner which fails to show their relation to
one another; or the connecting particles are omitted at the beginning of
sentences; the uses of the relative and antecedent are more indistinct,
the changes of person and number more frequent, examples of pleonasm,
tautology, and periphrasis, antitheses of positive and negative, false
emphasis, and other affectations, are more numerous than in the other
writings of Plato; there is also a more common and sometimes unmeaning
use of qualifying formulae, os epos eipein, kata dunamin, and of double
expressions, pante pantos, oudame oudamos, opos kai ope--these are too
numerous to be attributed to errors in the text; again, there is an
over-curious adjustment of verb and participle, noun and epithet, and
other artificial forms of cadence and expression take the place of
natural variety: thirdly, the absence of metaphorical language is
remarkable--the style is not devoid of ornament, but the ornament is of
a debased rhetorical kind, patched on to instead of growing out of the
subject; there is a great command of words, and a laboured use of
them; forced attempts at metaphor occur in several passages,--e.g.
parocheteuein logois; ta men os tithemena ta d os paratithemena; oinos
kolazomenos upo nephontos eterou theou; the plays on the word nomos =
nou dianome, ode etara: fourthly, there is a foolish extravagance of
language in other passages,--'the swinish ignorance of arithmetic;' 'the
justice and suitableness of the discourse on laws;' over-emphasis; 'best
of Greeks,' said of all the Greeks, and the like: fifthly, poor and
insipid illustrations are also common: sixthly, we may observe an
excessive use of climax and hyperbole, aischron legein chre pros autous
doulon te kai doulen kai paida kai ei pos oion te olen ten oikian: dokei
touto to epitedeuma kata phusin tas peri ta aphrodisia edonas ou monon
anthropon alla kai therion diephtharkenai.

4. The peculiarities in the use of words which occur in the Laws have
been collected by Zeller (Platonische Studien) and Stallbaum
(Legg.): first, in the use of nouns, such as allodemia, apeniautesis,
glukuthumia, diatheter, thrasuxenia, koros, megalonoia, paidourgia:
secondly, in the use of adjectives, such as aistor, biodotes,
echthodopos, eitheos, chronios, and of adverbs, such as aniditi, anatei,
nepoivei: thirdly, in the use of verbs, such as athurein, aissein
(aixeien eipein), euthemoneisthai, parapodizesthai, sebein, temelein,
tetan. These words however, as Stallbaum remarks, are formed according
to analogy, and nearly all of them have the support of some poetical or
other authority.

Zeller and Stallbaum have also collected forms of words in the Laws,
differing from the forms of the same words which occur in other places:
e.g. blabos for blabe, abios for abiotos, acharistos for acharis,
douleios for doulikos, paidelos for paidikos, exagrio for exagriaino,
ileoumai for ilaskomai, and the Ionic word sophronistus, meaning
'correction.' Zeller has noted a fondness for substantives ending in
-ma and -sis, such as georgema, diapauma, epithumema, zemioma, komodema,
omilema; blapsis, loidoresis, paraggelsis, and others; also a use
of substantives in the plural, which are commonly found only in the
singular, maniai, atheotetes, phthonoi, phoboi, phuseis; also, a
peculiar use of prepositions in composition, as in eneirgo, apoblapto,
dianomotheteo, dieiretai, dieulabeisthai, and other words; also, a
frequent occurrence of the Ionic datives plural in -aisi and -oisi,
perhaps used for the sake of giving an ancient or archaic effect.

To these peculiarities of words he has added a list of peculiar
expressions and constructions. Among the most characteristic are the
following: athuta pallakon spermata; amorphoi edrai; osa axiomata pros
archontas; oi kata polin kairoi; muthos, used in several places of
'the discourse about laws;' and connected with this the frequent use
of paramuthion and paramutheisthai in the general sense of 'address,'
'addressing'; aimulos eros; ataphoi praxeis; muthos akephalos; ethos
euthuporon. He remarks also on the frequent employment of the abstract
for the concrete; e.g. uperesia for uperetai, phugai for phugades,
mechanai in the sense of 'contrivers,' douleia for douloi, basileiai
for basileis, mainomena kedeumata for ganaika mainomenen; e chreia ton
paidon in the sense of 'indigent children,' and paidon ikanotes; to
ethos tes apeirias for e eiothuia apeiria; kuparitton upse te kai kalle
thaumasia for kuparittoi mala upselai kai kalai. He further notes some
curious uses of the genitive case, e.g. philias omologiai, maniai orges,
laimargiai edones, cheimonon anupodesiai, anosioi plegon tolmai; and of
the dative, omiliai echthrois, nomothesiai, anosioi plegon tolmai; and
of the dative omiliai echthrois, nomothesiai epitropois; and also some
rather uncommon periphrases, thremmata Neilou, xuggennetor teknon for
alochos, Mouses lexis for poiesis, zographon paides, anthropon spermata
and the like; the fondness for particles of limitation, especially
tis and ge, sun tisi charisi, tois ge dunamenois and the like; the
pleonastic use of tanun, of os, of os eros eipein, of ekastote; and
the periphrastic use of the preposition peri. Lastly, he observes the
tendency to hyperbata or transpositions of words, and to rhythmical
uniformity as well as grammatical irregularity in the structure of the

For nearly all the expressions which are adduced by Zeller as arguments
against the genuineness of the Laws, Stallbaum finds some sort of
authority. There is no real ground for doubting that the work was
written by Plato, merely because several words occur in it which are
not found in his other writings. An imitator may preserve the usual
phraseology of a writer better than he would himself. But, on the other
hand, the fact that authorities may be quoted in support of most of
these uses of words, does not show that the diction is not peculiar.
Several of them seem to be poetical or dialectical, and exhibit an
attempt to enlarge the limits of Greek prose by the introduction of
Homeric and tragic expressions. Most of them do not appear to have
retained any hold on the later language of Greece. Like several
experiments in language of the writers of the Elizabethan age, they were
afterwards lost; and though occasionally found in Plutarch and imitators
of Plato, they have not been accepted by Aristotle or passed into the
common dialect of Greece.

5. Unequal as the Laws are in style, they contain a few passages which
are very grand and noble. For example, the address to the poets: 'Best
of strangers, we also are poets of the best and noblest tragedy; for
our whole state is an imitation of the best and noblest life, which we
affirm to be indeed the very truth of tragedy.' Or again, the sight
of young men and maidens in friendly intercourse with one another,
suggesting the dangers to which youth is liable from the violence of
passion; or the eloquent denunciation of unnatural lusts in the same
passage; or the charming thought that the best legislator 'orders
war for the sake of peace and not peace for the sake of war;' or the
pleasant allusion, 'O Athenian--inhabitant of Attica, I will not say,
for you seem to me worthy to be named after the Goddess Athene because
you go back to first principles;' or the pithy saying, 'Many a victory
has been and will be suicidal to the victors, but education is never
suicidal;' or the fine expression that 'the walls of a city should
be allowed to sleep in the earth, and that we should not attempt to
disinter them;' or the remark that 'God is the measure of all things in
a sense far higher than any man can be;' or that 'a man should be from
the first a partaker of the truth, that he may live a true man as long
as possible;' or the principle repeatedly laid down, that 'the sins of
the fathers are not to be visited on the children;' or the description
of the funeral rites of those priestly sages who depart in innocence;
or the noble sentiment, that we should do more justice to slaves than
to equals; or the curious observation, founded, perhaps, on his own
experience, that there are a few 'divine men in every state however
corrupt, whose conversation is of inestimable value;' or the acute
remark, that public opinion is to be respected, because the judgments
of mankind about virtue are better than their practice; or the deep
religious and also modern feeling which pervades the tenth book
(whatever may be thought of the arguments); the sense of the duty of
living as a part of a whole, and in dependence on the will of God, who
takes care of the least things as well as the greatest; and the picture
of parents praying for their children--not as we may say, slightly
altering the words of Plato, as if there were no truth or reality in the
Gentile religions, but as if there were the greatest--are very striking
to us. We must remember that the Laws, unlike the Republic, do not
exhibit an ideal state, but are supposed to be on the level of human
motives and feelings; they are also on the level of the popular
religion, though elevated and purified: hence there is an attempt made
to show that the pleasant is also just. But, on the other hand, the
priority of the soul to the body, and of God to the soul, is always
insisted upon as the true incentive to virtue; especially with great
force and eloquence at the commencement of Book v. And the work of
legislation is carried back to the first principles of morals.

6. No other writing of Plato shows so profound an insight into the world
and into human nature as the Laws. That 'cities will never cease from
ill until they are better governed,' is the text of the Laws as well as
of the Statesman and Republic. The principle that the balance of power
preserves states; the reflection that no one ever passed his whole life
in disbelief of the Gods; the remark that the characters of men are best
seen in convivial intercourse; the observation that the people must be
allowed to share not only in the government, but in the administration
of justice; the desire to make laws, not with a view to courage only,
but to all virtue; the clear perception that education begins with
birth, or even, as he would say, before birth; the attempt to purify
religion; the modern reflections, that punishment is not vindictive, and
that limits must be set to the power of bequest; the impossibility of
undeceiving the victims of quacks and jugglers; the provision for water,
and for other requirements of health, and for concealing the bodies
of the dead with as little hurt as possible to the living; above all,
perhaps, the distinct consciousness that under the actual circumstances
of mankind the ideal cannot be carried out, and yet may be a guiding
principle--will appear to us, if we remember that we are still in the
dawn of politics, to show a great depth of political wisdom.

IV. The Laws of Plato contain numerous passages which closely resemble
other passages in his writings. And at first sight a suspicion arises
that the repetition shows the unequal hand of the imitator. For why
should a writer say over again, in a more imperfect form, what he had
already said in his most finished style and manner? And yet it may
be urged on the other side that an author whose original powers
are beginning to decay will be very liable to repeat himself, as in
conversation, so in books. He may have forgotten what he had written
before; he may be unconscious of the decline of his own powers. Hence
arises a question of great interest, bearing on the genuineness of
ancient writers. Is there any criterion by which we can distinguish
the genuine resemblance from the spurious, or, in other words, the
repetition of a thought or passage by an author himself from the
appropriation of it by another? The question has, perhaps, never been
fully discussed; and, though a real one, does not admit of a precise
answer. A few general considerations on the subject may be offered:--

(a) Is the difference such as might be expected to arise at different
times of life or under different circumstances?--There would be nothing
surprising in a writer, as he grew older, losing something of his own
originality, and falling more and more under the spirit of his
age. 'What a genius I had when I wrote that book!' was the pathetic
exclamation of a famous English author, when in old age he chanced to
take up one of his early works. There would be nothing surprising again
in his losing somewhat of his powers of expression, and becoming less
capable of framing language into a harmonious whole. There would also be
a strong presumption that if the variation of style was uniform, it was
attributable to some natural cause, and not to the arts of the imitator.
The inferiority might be the result of feebleness and of want of
activity of mind. But the natural weakness of a great author would
commonly be different from the artificial weakness of an imitator; it
would be continuous and uniform. The latter would be apt to fill his
work with irregular patches, sometimes taken verbally from the writings
of the author whom he personated, but rarely acquiring his spirit.
His imitation would be obvious, irregular, superficial. The patches
of purple would be easily detected among his threadbare and tattered
garments. He would rarely take the pains to put the same thought into
other words. There were many forgeries in English literature which
attained a considerable degree of success 50 or 100 years ago; but it is
doubtful whether attempts such as these could now escape detection,
if there were any writings of the same author or of the same age to
be compared with them. And ancient forgers were much less skilful than
modern; they were far from being masters in the art of deception, and
had rarely any motive for being so.

(b) But, secondly, the imitator will commonly be least capable of
understanding or imitating that part of a great writer which is most
characteristic of him. In every man's writings there is something like
himself and unlike others, which gives individuality. To appreciate
this latent quality would require a kindred mind, and minute study
and observation. There are a class of similarities which may be called
undesigned coincidences, which are so remote as to be incapable of
being borrowed from one another, and yet, when they are compared, find
a natural explanation in their being the work of the same mind. The
imitator might copy the turns of style--he might repeat images or
illustrations, but he could not enter into the inner circle of Platonic
philosophy. He would understand that part of it which became popular
in the next generation, as for example, the doctrine of ideas or of
numbers: he might approve of communism. But the higher flights of Plato
about the science of dialectic, or the unity of virtue, or a person who
is above the law, would be unintelligible to him.

(c) The argument from imitation assumes a different character when
the supposed imitations are associated with other passages having the
impress of original genius. The strength of the argument from undesigned
coincidences of style is much increased when they are found side by
side with thoughts and expressions which can only have come from a great
original writer. The great excellence, not only of the whole, but even
of the parts of writings, is a strong proof of their genuineness--for
although the great writer may fall below, the forger or imitator cannot
rise much above himself. Whether we can attribute the worst parts of a
work to a forger and the best to a great writer,--as for example, in the
case of some of Shakespeare's plays,--depends upon the probability that
they have been interpolated, or have been the joint work of two writers;
and this can only be established either by express evidence or by a
comparison of other writings of the same class. If the interpolation or
double authorship of Greek writings in the time of Plato could be shown
to be common, then a question, perhaps insoluble, would arise, not
whether the whole, but whether parts of the Platonic dialogues are
genuine, and, if parts only, which parts. Hebrew prophecies and Homeric
poems and Laws of Manu may have grown together in early times, but there
is no reason to think that any of the dialogues of Plato is the result
of a similar process of accumulation. It is therefore rash to say
with Oncken (Die Staatslehre des Aristoteles) that the form in which
Aristotle knew the Laws of Plato must have been different from that in
which they have come down to us.

It must be admitted that these principles are difficult of application.
Yet a criticism may be worth making which rests only on probabilities
or impressions. Great disputes will arise about the merits of different
passages, about what is truly characteristic and original or trivial
and borrowed. Many have thought the Laws to be one of the greatest of
Platonic writings, while in the judgment of Mr. Grote they hardly rise
above the level of the forged epistles. The manner in which a writer
would or would not have written at a particular time of life must be
acknowledged to be a matter of conjecture. But enough has been said to
show that similarities of a certain kind, whether criticism is able to
detect them or not, may be such as must be attributed to an original
writer, and not to a mere imitator.

(d) Applying these principles to the case of the Laws, we have now
to point out that they contain the class of refined or unconscious
similarities which are indicative of genuineness. The parallelisms are
like the repetitions of favourite thoughts into which every one is apt
to fall unawares in conversation or in writing. They are found in a work
which contains many beautiful and remarkable passages. We may therefore
begin by claiming this presumption in their favour. Such undesigned
coincidences, as we may venture to call them, are the following. The
conception of justice as the union of temperance, wisdom, courage
(Laws; Republic): the latent idea of dialectic implied in the notion
of dividing laws after the kinds of virtue (Laws); the approval of the
method of looking at one idea gathered from many things, 'than which a
truer was never discovered by any man' (compare Republic): or again the
description of the Laws as parents (Laws; Republic): the assumption
that religion has been already settled by the oracle of Delphi (Laws;
Republic), to which an appeal is also made in special cases (Laws): the
notion of the battle with self, a paradox for which Plato in a manner
apologizes both in the Laws and the Republic: the remark (Laws) that
just men, even when they are deformed in body, may still be perfectly
beautiful in respect of the excellent justice of their minds (compare
Republic): the argument that ideals are none the worse because they
cannot be carried out (Laws; Republic): the near approach to the idea of
good in 'the principle which is common to all the four virtues,' a
truth which the guardians must be compelled to recognize (Laws; compare
Republic): or again the recognition by reason of the right pleasure and
pain, which had previously been matter of habit (Laws; Republic): or
the blasphemy of saying that the excellency of music is to give pleasure
(Laws; Republic): again the story of the Sidonian Cadmus (Laws), which
is a variation of the Phoenician tale of the earth-born men (Republic):
the comparison of philosophy to a yelping she-dog, both in the Republic
and in the Laws: the remark that no man can practise two trades (Laws;
Republic): or the advantage of the middle condition (Laws; Republic):
the tendency to speak of principles as moulds or forms; compare the
ekmageia of song (Laws), and the tupoi of religion (Republic): or the
remark (Laws) that 'the relaxation of justice makes many cities out of
one,' which may be compared with the Republic: or the description of
lawlessness 'creeping in little by little in the fashions of music and
overturning all things,'--to us a paradox, but to Plato's mind a fixed
idea, which is found in the Laws as well as in the Republic: or the
figure of the parts of the human body under which the parts of the state
are described (Laws; Republic): the apology for delay and diffuseness,
which occurs not unfrequently in the Republic, is carried to an excess
in the Laws (compare Theaet.): the remarkable thought (Laws) that the
soul of the sun is better than the sun, agrees with the relation in
which the idea of good stands to the sun in the Republic, and with the
substitution of mind for the idea of good in the Philebus: the passage
about the tragic poets (Laws) agrees generally with the treatment of
them in the Republic, but is more finely conceived, and worked out in a
nobler spirit. Some lesser similarities of thought and manner should not
be omitted, such as the mention of the thirty years' old students in the
Republic, and the fifty years' old choristers in the Laws; or the
making of the citizens out of wax (Laws) compared with the other image
(Republic); or the number of the tyrant (729), which is NEARLY equal
with the number of days and nights in the year (730), compared with the
'slight correction' of the sacred number 5040, which is divisible by all
the numbers from 1 to 12 except 11, and divisible by 11, if two families
be deducted; or once more, we may compare the ignorance of solid
geometry of which he complains in the Republic and the puzzle about
fractions with the difficulty in the Laws about commensurable and
incommensurable quantities--and the malicious emphasis on the word
gunaikeios (Laws) with the use of the same word (Republic). These and
similar passages tend to show that the author of the Republic is also
the author of the Laws. They are echoes of the same voice, expressions
of the same mind, coincidences too subtle to have been invented by the
ingenuity of any imitator. The force of the argument is increased, if we
remember that no passage in the Laws is exactly copied,--nowhere do
five or six words occur together which are found together elsewhere in
Plato's writings.

In other dialogues of Plato, as well as in the Republic, there are to
be found parallels with the Laws. Such resemblances, as we might expect,
occur chiefly (but not exclusively) in the dialogues which, on other
grounds, we may suppose to be of later date. The punishment of evil is
to be like evil men (Laws), as he says also in the Theaetetus. Compare
again the dependence of tragedy and comedy on one another, of which he
gives the reason in the Laws--'For serious things cannot be understood
without laughable, nor opposites at all without opposites, if a man
is really to have intelligence of either'; here he puts forward the
principle which is the groundwork of the thesis of Socrates in the
Symposium, 'that the genius of tragedy is the same as that of comedy,
and that the writer of comedy ought to be a writer of tragedy also.'
There is a truth and right which is above Law (Laws), as we learn also
from the Statesman. That men are the possession of the Gods (Laws), is
a reflection which likewise occurs in the Phaedo. The remark, whether
serious or ironical (Laws), that 'the sons of the Gods naturally
believed in the Gods, because they had the means of knowing about them,'
is found in the Timaeus. The reign of Cronos, who is the divine ruler
(Laws), is a reminiscence of the Statesman. It is remarkable that in the
Sophist and Statesman (Soph.), Plato, speaking in the character of the
Eleatic Stranger, has already put on the old man. The madness of the
poets, again, is a favourite notion of Plato's, which occurs also in the
Laws, as well as in the Phaedrus, Ion, and elsewhere. There are traces
in the Laws of the same desire to base speculation upon history which
we find in the Critias. Once more, there is a striking parallel with
the paradox of the Gorgias, that 'if you do evil, it is better to be
punished than to be unpunished,' in the Laws: 'To live having all goods
without justice and virtue is the greatest of evils if life be immortal,
but not so great if the bad man lives but a short time.'

The point to be considered is whether these are the kind of parallels
which would be the work of an imitator. Would a forger have had the wit
to select the most peculiar and characteristic thoughts of Plato; would
he have caught the spirit of his philosophy; would he, instead of openly
borrowing, have half concealed his favourite ideas; would he have formed
them into a whole such as the Laws; would he have given another
the credit which he might have obtained for himself; would he have
remembered and made use of other passages of the Platonic writings and
have never deviated into the phraseology of them? Without pressing
such arguments as absolutely certain, we must acknowledge that such a
comparison affords a new ground of real weight for believing the Laws to
be a genuine writing of Plato.

V. The relation of the Republic to the Laws is clearly set forth by
Plato in the Laws. The Republic is the best state, the Laws is the best
possible under the existing conditions of the Greek world. The Republic
is the ideal, in which no man calls anything his own, which may or may
not have existed in some remote clime, under the rule of some God, or
son of a God (who can say?), but is, at any rate, the pattern of
all other states and the exemplar of human life. The Laws distinctly
acknowledge what the Republic partly admits, that the ideal is
inimitable by us, but that we should 'lift up our eyes to the heavens'
and try to regulate our lives according to the divine image. The
citizens are no longer to have wives and children in common, and are
no longer to be under the government of philosophers. But the spirit of
communism or communion is to continue among them, though reverence for
the sacredness of the family, and respect of children for parents, not
promiscuous hymeneals, are now the foundation of the state; the sexes
are to be as nearly on an equality as possible; they are to meet
at common tables, and to share warlike pursuits (if the women will
consent), and to have a common education. The legislator has taken the
place of the philosopher, but a council of elders is retained, who are
to fulfil the duties of the legislator when he has passed out of life.
The addition of younger persons to this council by co-optation is
an improvement on the governing body of the Republic. The scheme of
education in the Laws is of a far lower kind than that which Plato had
conceived in the Republic. There he would have his rulers trained in all
knowledge meeting in the idea of good, of which the different branches
of mathematical science are but the hand-maidens or ministers; here he
treats chiefly of popular education, stopping short with the preliminary
sciences,--these are to be studied partly with a view to their practical
usefulness, which in the Republic he holds cheap, and even more with a
view to avoiding impiety, of which in the Republic he says nothing; he
touches very lightly on dialectic, which is still to be retained for
the rulers. Yet in the Laws there remain traces of the old educational
ideas. He is still for banishing the poets; and as he finds the works of
prose writers equally dangerous, he would substitute for them the study
of his own laws. He insists strongly on the importance of mathematics
as an educational instrument. He is no more reconciled to the Greek
mythology than in the Republic, though he would rather say nothing about
it out of a reverence for antiquity; and he is equally willing to have
recourse to fictions, if they have a moral tendency. His thoughts recur
to a golden age in which the sanctity of oaths was respected and in
which men living nearer the Gods were more disposed to believe in them;
but we must legislate for the world as it is, now that the old beliefs
have passed away. Though he is no longer fired with dialectical
enthusiasm, he would compel the guardians to 'look at one idea gathered
from many things,' and to 'perceive the principle which is the same in
all the four virtues.' He still recognizes the enormous influence of
music, in which every youth is to be trained for three years; and he
seems to attribute the existing degeneracy of the Athenian state and
the laxity of morals partly to musical innovation, manifested in the
unnatural divorce of the instrument and the voice, of the rhythm from
the words, and partly to the influence of the mob who ruled at the
theatres. He assimilates the education of the two sexes, as far as
possible, both in music and gymnastic, and, as in the Republic, he would
give to gymnastic a purely military character. In marriage, his object
is still to produce the finest children for the state. As in the
Statesman, he would unite in wedlock dissimilar natures--the passionate
with the dull, the courageous with the gentle. And the virtuous tyrant
of the Statesman, who has no place in the Republic, again appears.
In this, as in all his writings, he has the strongest sense of the
degeneracy and incapacity of the rulers of his own time.

In the Laws, the philosophers, if not banished, like the poets, are
at least ignored; and religion takes the place of philosophy in the
regulation of human life. It must however be remembered that the
religion of Plato is co-extensive with morality, and is that purified
religion and mythology of which he speaks in the second book of the
Republic. There is no real discrepancy in the two works. In a practical
treatise, he speaks of religion rather than of philosophy; just as he
appears to identify virtue with pleasure, and rather seeks to find
the common element of the virtues than to maintain his old paradoxical
theses that they are one, or that they are identical with knowledge. The
dialectic and the idea of good, which even Glaucon in the Republic could
not understand, would be out of place in a less ideal work. There may
also be a change in his own mind, the purely intellectual aspect of
philosophy having a diminishing interest to him in his old age.

Some confusion occurs in the passage in which Plato speaks of the
Republic, occasioned by his reference to a third state, which he
proposes (D.V.) hereafter to expound. Like many other thoughts in the
Laws, the allusion is obscure from not being worked out. Aristotle
(Polit.) speaks of a state which is neither the best absolutely, nor
the best under existing conditions, but an imaginary state, inferior
to either, destitute, as he supposes, of the necessaries of
life--apparently such a beginning of primitive society as is described
in Laws iii. But it is not clear that by this the third state of Plato
is intended. It is possible that Plato may have meant by his third state
an historical sketch, bearing the same relation to the Laws which the
unfinished Critias would have borne to the Republic; or he may, perhaps,
have intended to describe a state more nearly approximating than the
Laws to existing Greek states.

The Statesman is a mere fragment when compared with the Laws, yet
combining a second interest of dialectic as well as politics, which is
wanting in the larger work. Several points of similarity and contrast
may be observed between them. In some respects the Statesman is
even more ideal than the Republic, looking back to a former state of
paradisiacal life, in which the Gods ruled over mankind, as the Republic
looks forward to a coming kingdom of philosophers. Of this kingdom of
Cronos there is also mention in the Laws. Again, in the Statesman, the
Eleatic Stranger rises above law to the conception of the living voice
of the lawgiver, who is able to provide for individual cases. A similar
thought is repeated in the Laws: 'If in the order of nature, and by
divine destiny, a man were able to apprehend the truth about these
things, he would have no need of laws to rule over him; for there is no
law or order above knowledge, nor can mind without impiety be deemed
the subject or slave of any, but rather the lord of all.' The union of
opposite natures, who form the warp and the woof of the political web,
is a favourite thought which occurs in both dialogues (Laws; Statesman).

The Laws are confessedly a Second-best, an inferior Ideal, to which
Plato has recourse, when he finds that the city of Philosophers is no
longer 'within the horizon of practical politics.' But it is curious
to observe that the higher Ideal is always returning (compare Arist.
Polit.), and that he is not much nearer the actual fact, nor more on
the level of ordinary life in the Laws than in the Republic. It is also
interesting to remark that the new Ideal is always falling away, and
that he hardly supposes the one to be more capable of being realized
than the other. Human beings are troublesome to manage; and the
legislator cannot adapt his enactments to the infinite variety of
circumstances; after all he must leave the administration of them to his
successors; and though he would have liked to make them as permanent
as they are in Egypt, he cannot escape from the necessity of change.
At length Plato is obliged to institute a Nocturnal Council which is
supposed to retain the mind of the legislator, and of which some of the
members are even supposed to go abroad and inspect the institutions of
foreign countries, as a foundation for changes in their own. The spirit
of such changes, though avoiding the extravagance of a popular assembly,
being only so much change as the conservative temper of old members
is likely to allow, is nevertheless inconsistent with the fixedness of
Egypt which Plato wishes to impress upon Hellenic institutions. He is
inconsistent with himself as the truth begins to dawn upon him that 'in
the execution things for the most part fall short of our conception of
them' (Republic).

And is not this true of ideals of government in general? We are always
disappointed in them. Nothing great can be accomplished in the
short space of human life; wherefore also we look forward to another
(Republic). As we grow old, we are sensible that we have no power
actively to pursue our ideals any longer. We have had our opportunity
and do not aspire to be more than men: we have received our 'wages and
are going home.' Neither do we despair of the future of mankind, because
we have been able to do so little in comparison of the whole. We look in
vain for consistency either in men or things. But we have seen enough of
improvement in our own time to justify us in the belief that the world
is worth working for and that a good man's life is not thrown away. Such
reflections may help us to bring home to ourselves by inward sympathy
the language of Plato in the Laws, and to combine into something like a
whole his various and at first sight inconsistent utterances.

VI. The Republic may be described as the Spartan constitution appended
to a government of philosophers. But in the Laws an Athenian element is
also introduced. Many enactments are taken from the Athenian; the four
classes are borrowed from the constitution of Cleisthenes, which Plato
regards as the best form of Athenian government, and the guardians of
the law bear a certain resemblance to the archons. In the constitution
of the Laws nearly all officers are elected by a vote more or less
popular and by lot. But the assembly only exists for the purposes of
election, and has no legislative or executive powers. The Nocturnal
Council, which is the highest body in the state, has several of the
functions of the ancient Athenian Areopagus, after which it appears to
be modelled. Life is to wear, as at Athens, a joyous and festive look;
there are to be Bacchic choruses, and men of mature age are encouraged
in moderate potations. On the other hand, the common meals, the public
education, the crypteia are borrowed from Sparta and not from Athens,
and the superintendence of private life, which was to be practised by
the governors, has also its prototype in Sparta. The extravagant dislike
which Plato shows both to a naval power and to extreme democracy is the
reverse of Athenian.

The best-governed Hellenic states traced the origin of their laws to
individual lawgivers. These were real persons, though we are uncertain
how far they originated or only modified the institutions which are
ascribed to them. But the lawgiver, though not a myth, was a fixed idea
in the mind of the Greek,--as fixed as the Trojan war or the earth-born
Cadmus. 'This was what Solon meant or said'--was the form in which the
Athenian expressed his own conception of right and justice, or argued a
disputed point of law. And the constant reference in the Laws of Plato
to the lawgiver is altogether in accordance with Greek modes of thinking
and speaking.

There is also, as in the Republic, a Pythagorean element. The highest
branch of education is arithmetic; to know the order of the heavenly
bodies, and to reconcile the apparent contradiction of their movements,
is an important part of religion; the lives of the citizens are to have
a common measure, as also their vessels and coins; the great blessing of
the state is the number 5040. Plato is deeply impressed by the antiquity
of Egypt, and the unchangeableness of her ancient forms of song and
dance. And he is also struck by the progress which the Egyptians had
made in the mathematical sciences--in comparison of them the Greeks
appeared to him to be little better than swine. Yet he censures the
Egyptian meanness and inhospitality to strangers. He has traced the
growth of states from their rude beginnings in a philosophical spirit;
but of any life or growth of the Hellenic world in future ages he is
silent. He has made the reflection that past time is the maker of states
(Book iii.); but he does not argue from the past to the future, that
the process is always going on, or that the institutions of nations
are relative to their stage of civilization. If he could have stamped
indelibly upon Hellenic states the will of the legislator, he would have
been satisfied. The utmost which he expects of future generations is
that they should supply the omissions, or correct the errors which
younger statesmen detect in his enactments. When institutions have been
once subjected to this process of criticism, he would have them fixed
for ever.


BOOK I. Strangers, let me ask a question of you--Was a God or a man the
author of your laws? 'A God, Stranger. In Crete, Zeus is said to have
been the author of them; in Sparta, as Megillus will tell you, Apollo.'
You Cretans believe, as Homer says, that Minos went every ninth year to
converse with his Olympian sire, and gave you laws which he brought from
him. 'Yes; and there was Rhadamanthus, his brother, who is reputed among
us to have been a most righteous judge.' That is a reputation worthy of
the son of Zeus. And as you and Megillus have been trained under these
laws, I may ask you to give me an account of them. We can talk about
them in our walk from Cnosus to the cave and temple of Zeus. I am told
that the distance is considerable, but probably there are shady places
under the trees, where, being no longer young, we may often rest and
converse. 'Yes, Stranger, a little onward there are beautiful groves of
cypresses, and green meadows in which we may repose.'

My first question is, Why has the law ordained that you should have
common meals, and practise gymnastics, and bear arms? 'My answer is,
that all our institutions are of a military character. We lead the life
of the camp even in time of peace, keeping up the organization of an
army, and having meals in common; and as our country, owing to its
ruggedness, is ill-suited for heavy-armed cavalry or infantry, our
soldiers are archers, equipped with bows and arrows. The legislator was
under the idea that war was the natural state of all mankind, and that
peace is only a pretence; he thought that no possessions had any
value which were not secured against enemies.' And do you think that
superiority in war is the proper aim of government? 'Certainly I do, and
my Spartan friend will agree with me.' And are there wars, not only of
state against state, but of village against village, of family against
family, of individual against individual? 'Yes.' And is a man his own
enemy? 'There you come to first principles, like a true votary of the
goddess Athene; and this is all the better, for you will the sooner
recognize the truth of what I am saying--that all men everywhere are the
enemies of all, and each individual of every other and of himself;
and, further, that there is a victory and defeat--the best and the
worst--which each man sustains, not at the hands of another, but of
himself.' And does this extend to states and villages as well as to
individuals? 'Certainly; there is a better in them which conquers or
is conquered by the worse.' Whether the worse ever really conquers
the better, is a question which may be left for the present; but your
meaning is, that bad citizens do sometimes overcome the good, and that
the state is then conquered by herself, and that when they are defeated
the state is victorious over herself. Or, again, in a family there may
be several brothers, and the bad may be a majority; and when the
bad majority conquer the good minority, the family are worse than
themselves. The use of the terms 'better or worse than himself or
themselves' may be doubtful, but about the thing meant there can be no
dispute. 'Very true.' Such a struggle might be determined by a judge.
And which will be the better judge--he who destroys the worse and lets
the better rule, or he who lets the better rule and makes the others
voluntarily obey; or, thirdly, he who destroys no one, but reconciles
the two parties? 'The last, clearly.' But the object of such a judge or
legislator would not be war. 'True.' And as there are two kinds of war,
one without and one within a state, of which the internal is by far
the worse, will not the legislator chiefly direct his attention to
this latter? He will reconcile the contending factions, and unite them
against their external enemies. 'Certainly.' Every legislator will
aim at the greatest good, and the greatest good is not victory in war,
whether civil or external, but mutual peace and good-will, as in the
body health is preferable to the purgation of disease. He who makes war
his object instead of peace, or who pursues war except for the sake of
peace, is not a true statesman. 'And yet, Stranger, the laws both of
Crete and Sparta aim entirely at war.' Perhaps so; but do not let us
quarrel about your legislators--let us be gentle; they were in earnest
quite as much as we are, and we must try to discover their meaning. The
poet Tyrtaeus (you know his poems in Crete, and my Lacedaemonian friend
is only too familiar with them)--he was an Athenian by birth, and a
Spartan citizen:--'Well,' he says, 'I sing not, I care not about any
man, however rich or happy, unless he is brave in war.' Now I should
like, in the name of us all, to ask the poet a question. Oh Tyrtaeus, I
would say to him, we agree with you in praising those who excel in war,
but which kind of war do you mean?--that dreadful war which is termed
civil, or the milder sort which is waged against foreign enemies? You
say that you abominate 'those who are not eager to taste their enemies'
blood,' and you seem to mean chiefly their foreign enemies. 'Certainly
he does.' But we contend that there are men better far than your heroes,
Tyrtaeus, concerning whom another poet, Theognis the Sicilian, says that
'in a civil broil they are worth their weight in gold and silver.' For
in a civil war, not only courage, but justice and temperance and wisdom
are required, and all virtue is better than a part. The mercenary
soldier is ready to die at his post; yet he is commonly a violent,
senseless creature. And the legislator, whether inspired or uninspired,
will make laws with a view to the highest virtue; and this is not brute
courage, but loyalty in the hour of danger. The virtue of Tyrtaeus,
although needful enough in his own time, is really of a fourth-rate
description. 'You are degrading our legislator to a very low level.'
Nay, we degrade not him, but ourselves, if we believe that the laws of
Lycurgus and Minos had a view to war only. A divine lawgiver would have
had regard to all the different kinds of virtue, and have arranged his
laws in corresponding classes, and not in the modern fashion, which
only makes them after the want of them is felt,--about inheritances and
heiresses and assaults, and the like. As you truly said, virtue is the
business of the legislator; but you went wrong when you referred all
legislation to a part of virtue, and to an inferior part. For the object
of laws, whether the Cretan or any other, is to make men happy. Now
happiness or good is of two kinds--there are divine and there are human
goods. He who has the divine has the human added to him; but he who
has lost the greater is deprived of both. The lesser goods are health,
beauty, strength, and, lastly, wealth; not the blind God, Pluto, but one
who has eyes to see and follow wisdom. For mind or wisdom is the most
divine of all goods; and next comes temperance, and justice springs from
the union of wisdom and temperance with courage, which is the fourth or
last. These four precede other goods, and the legislator will arrange
all his ordinances accordingly, the human going back to the divine,
and the divine to their leader mind. There will be enactments about
marriage, about education, about all the states and feelings and
experiences of men and women, at every age, in weal and woe, in war and
peace; upon all the law will fix a stamp of praise and blame. There will
also be regulations about property and expenditure, about contracts,
about rewards and punishments, and finally about funeral rites and
honours of the dead. The lawgiver will appoint guardians to preside over
these things; and mind will harmonize his ordinances, and show them to
be in agreement with temperance and justice. Now I want to know whether
the same principles are observed in the laws of Lycurgus and Minos,
or, as I should rather say, of Apollo and Zeus. We must go through the
virtues, beginning with courage, and then we will show that what has
preceded has relation to virtue.

'I wish,' says the Lacedaemonian, 'that you, Stranger, would first
criticize Cleinias and the Cretan laws.' Yes, is the reply, and I will
criticize you and myself, as well as him. Tell me, Megillus, were not
the common meals and gymnastic training instituted by your legislator
with a view to war? 'Yes; and next in the order of importance comes
hunting, and fourth the endurance of pain in boxing contests, and in the
beatings which are the punishment of theft. There is, too, the so-called
Crypteia or secret service, in which our youth wander about the country
night and day unattended, and even in winter go unshod and have no beds
to lie on. Moreover they wrestle and exercise under a blazing sun, and
they have many similar customs.' Well, but is courage only a combat
against fear and pain, and not against pleasure and flattery? 'Against
both, I should say.' And which is worse,--to be overcome by pain, or
by pleasure? 'The latter.' But did the lawgivers of Crete and Sparta
legislate for a courage which is lame of one leg,--able to meet the
attacks of pain but not those of pleasure, or for one which can meet
both? 'For a courage which can meet both, I should say.' But if so,
where are the institutions which train your citizens to be equally brave
against pleasure and pain, and superior to enemies within as well as
without? 'We confess that we have no institutions worth mentioning which
are of this character.' I am not surprised, and will therefore only
request forbearance on the part of us all, in case the love of truth
should lead any of us to censure the laws of the others. Remember that
I am more in the way of hearing criticisms of your laws than you can be;
for in well-ordered states like Crete and Sparta, although an old man
may sometimes speak of them in private to a ruler or elder, a similar
liberty is not allowed to the young. But now being alone we shall not
offend your legislator by a friendly examination of his laws. 'Take any
freedom which you like.'

My first observation is, that your lawgiver ordered you to endure
hardships, because he thought that those who had not this discipline
would run away from those who had. But he ought to have considered
further, that those who had never learned to resist pleasure would be
equally at the mercy of those who had, and these are often among the
worst of mankind. Pleasure, like fear, would overcome them and take away
their courage and freedom. 'Perhaps; but I must not be hasty in giving
my assent.'

Next as to temperance: what institutions have you which are adapted
to promote temperance? 'There are the common meals and gymnastic
exercises.' These are partly good and partly bad, and, as in medicine,
what is good at one time and for one person, is bad at another time and
for another person. Now although gymnastics and common meals do good,
they are also a cause of evil in civil troubles, and they appear to
encourage unnatural love, as has been shown at Miletus, in Boeotia, and
at Thurii. And the Cretans are said to have invented the tale of Zeus
and Ganymede in order to justify their evil practices by the example of
the God who was their lawgiver. Leaving the story, we may observe that
all law has to do with pleasure and pain; these are two fountains which
are ever flowing in human nature, and he who drinks of them when and as
much as he ought, is happy, and he who indulges in them to excess, is
miserable. 'You may be right, but I still incline to think that the
Lacedaemonian lawgiver did well in forbidding pleasure, if I may judge
from the result. For there is no drunken revelry in Sparta, and any one
found in a state of intoxication is severely punished; he is not excused
as an Athenian would be at Athens on account of a festival. I myself
have seen the Athenians drunk at the Dionysia--and at our colony,
Tarentum, on a similar occasion, I have beheld the whole city in a
state of intoxication.' I admit that these festivals should be properly
regulated. Yet I might reply, 'Yes, Spartans, that is not your vice; but
look at home and remember the licentiousness of your women.' And to
all such accusations every one of us may reply in turn:--'Wonder not,
Stranger; there are different customs in different countries.' Now this
may be a sufficient answer; but we are speaking about the wisdom of
lawgivers and not about the customs of men. To return to the question of
drinking: shall we have total abstinence, as you have, or hard drinking,
like the Scythians and Thracians, or moderate potations like the
Persians? 'Give us arms, and we send all these nations flying before
us.' My good friend, be modest; victories and defeats often arise
from unknown causes, and afford no proof of the goodness or badness of
institutions. The stronger overcomes the weaker, as the Athenians have
overcome the Ceans, or the Syracusans the Locrians, who are, perhaps,
the best governed state in that part of the world. People are apt to
praise or censure practices without enquiring into the nature of them.
This is the way with drink: one person brings many witnesses, who sing
the praises of wine; another declares that sober men defeat drunkards
in battle; and he again is refuted in turn. I should like to conduct the
argument on some other method; for if you regard numbers, there are two
cities on one side, and ten thousand on the other. 'I am ready to pursue
any method which is likely to lead us to the truth.' Let me put the
matter thus: Somebody praises the useful qualities of a goat; another
has seen goats running about wild in a garden, and blames a goat or any
other animal which happens to be without a keeper. 'How absurd!' Would
a pilot who is sea-sick be a good pilot? 'No.' Or a general who is sick
and drunk with fear and ignorant of war a good general? 'A general
of old women he ought to be.' But can any one form an estimate of any
society, which is intended to have a ruler, and which he only sees in an
unruly and lawless state? 'No.' There is a convivial form of society--is
there not? 'Yes.' And has this convivial society ever been rightly
ordered? Of course you Spartans and Cretans have never seen anything of
the kind, but I have had wide experience, and made many enquiries about
such societies, and have hardly ever found anything right or good in
them. 'We acknowledge our want of experience, and desire to learn of
you.' Will you admit that in all societies there must be a leader?
'Yes.' And in time of war he must be a man of courage and absolutely
devoid of fear, if this be possible? 'Certainly.' But we are talking now
of a general who shall preside at meetings of friends--and as these
have a tendency to be uproarious, they ought above all others to have a
governor. 'Very good.' He should be a sober man and a man of the world,
who will keep, make, and increase the peace of the society; a drunkard
in charge of drunkards would be singularly fortunate if he avoided doing
a serious mischief. 'Indeed he would.' Suppose a person to censure such
meetings--he may be right, but also he may have known them only in their
disorderly state, under a drunken master of the feast; and a drunken
general or pilot cannot save his army or his ships. 'True; but although
I see the advantage of an army having a good general, I do not equally
see the good of a feast being well managed.' If you mean to ask what
good accrues to the state from the right training of a single youth or
a single chorus, I should reply, 'Not much'; but if you ask what is the
good of education in general, I answer, that education makes good
men, and that good men act nobly and overcome their enemies in
battle. Victory is often suicidal to the victors, because it creates
forgetfulness of education, but education itself is never suicidal. 'You
imply that the regulation of convivial meetings is a part of education;
how will you prove this?' I will tell you. But first let me offer a
word of apology. We Athenians are always thought to be fond of talking,
whereas the Lacedaemonian is celebrated for brevity, and the Cretan
is considered to be sagacious and reserved. Now I fear that I may be
charged with spinning a long discourse out of slender materials. For
drinking cannot be rightly ordered without correct principles of music,
and music runs up into education generally, and to discuss all these
matters may be tedious; if you like, therefore, we will pass on to
another part of our subject. 'Are you aware, Athenian, that our family
is your proxenus at Sparta, and that from my boyhood I have regarded
Athens as a second country, and having often fought your battles in my
youth, I have become attached to you, and love the sound of the Attic
dialect? The saying is true, that the best Athenians are more than
ordinarily good, because they are good by nature; therefore, be assured
that I shall be glad to hear you talk as much as you please.' 'I,
too,' adds Cleinias, 'have a tie which binds me to you. You know that
Epimenides, the Cretan prophet, came and offered sacrifices in your city
by the command of an oracle ten years before the Persian war. He told
the Athenians that the Persian host would not come for ten years, and
would go away again, having suffered more harm than they had inflicted.
Now Epimenides was of my family, and when he visited Athens he entered
into friendship with your forefathers.' I see that you are willing to
listen, and I have the will to speak, if I had only the ability. But,
first, I must define the nature and power of education, and by this
road we will travel on to the God Dionysus. The man who is to be good
at anything must have early training;--the future builder must play at
building, and the husbandman at digging; the soldier must learn to ride,
and the carpenter to measure and use the rule,--all the thoughts and
pleasures of children should bear on their after-profession.--Do you
agree with me? 'Certainly.' And we must remember further that we are
speaking of the education, not of a trainer, or of the captain of a
ship, but of a perfect citizen who knows how to rule and how to obey;
and such an education aims at virtue, and not at wealth or strength or
mere cleverness. To the good man, education is of all things the most
precious, and is also in constant need of renovation. 'We agree.' And
we have before agreed that good men are those who are able to control
themselves, and bad men are those who are not. Let me offer you an
illustration which will assist our argument. Man is one; but in one
and the same man are two foolish counsellors who contend within
him--pleasure and pain, and of either he has expectations which we call
hope and fear; and he is able to reason about good and evil, and reason,
when affirmed by the state, becomes law. 'We cannot follow you.' Let
me put the matter in another way: Every creature is a puppet of the
Gods--whether he is a mere plaything or has any serious use we do not
know; but this we do know, that he is drawn different ways by cords
and strings. There is a soft golden cord which draws him towards
virtue--this is the law of the state; and there are other cords made
of iron and hard materials drawing him other ways. The golden reasoning
influence has nothing of the nature of force, and therefore requires
ministers in order to vanquish the other principles. This explains the
doctrine that cities and citizens both conquer and are conquered by
themselves. The individual follows reason, and the city law, which is
embodied reason, either derived from the Gods or from the legislator.
When virtue and vice are thus distinguished, education will be better
understood, and in particular the relation of education to convivial
intercourse. And now let us set wine before the puppet. You admit that
wine stimulates the passions? 'Yes.' And does wine equally stimulate
the reasoning faculties? 'No; it brings the soul back to a state of
childhood.' In such a state a man has the least control over himself,
and is, therefore, worst. 'Very true.' Then how can we believe that
drinking should be encouraged? 'You seem to think that it ought to be.'
And I am ready to maintain my position. 'We should like to hear you
prove that a man ought to make a beast of himself.' You are speaking
of the degradation of the soul: but how about the body? Would any man
willingly degrade or weaken that? 'Certainly not.' And yet if he goes to
a doctor or a gymnastic master, does he not make himself ill in the hope
of getting well? for no one would like to be always taking medicine, or
always to be in training. 'True.' And may not convivial meetings have a
similar remedial use? And if so, are they not to be preferred to other
modes of training because they are painless? 'But have they any such
use?' Let us see: Are there not two kinds of fear--fear of evil and fear
of an evil reputation? 'There are.' The latter kind of fear is opposed
both to the fear of pain and to the love of pleasure. This is called by
the legislator reverence, and is greatly honoured by him and by every
good man; whereas confidence, which is the opposite quality, is the
worst fault both of individuals and of states. This sort of fear or
reverence is one of the two chief causes of victory in war, fearlessness
of enemies being the other. 'True.' Then every one should be both
fearful and fearless? 'Yes.' The right sort of fear is infused into
a man when he comes face to face with shame, or cowardice, or the
temptations of pleasure, and has to conquer them. He must learn by
many trials to win the victory over himself, if he is ever to be made
perfect. 'That is reasonable enough.' And now, suppose that the Gods had
given mankind a drug, of which the effect was to exaggerate every sort
of evil and danger, so that the bravest man entirely lost his presence
of mind and became a coward for a time:--would such a drug have any
value? 'But is there such a drug?' No; but suppose that there were;
might not the legislator use such a mode of testing courage and
cowardice? 'To be sure.' The legislator would induce fear in order to
implant fearlessness; and would give rewards or punishments to those
who behaved well or the reverse, under the influence of the drug?
'Certainly.' And this mode of training, whether practised in the case
of one or many, whether in solitude or in the presence of a large
company--if a man have sufficient confidence in himself to drink the
potion amid his boon companions, leaving off in time and not taking too
much,--would be an equally good test of temperance? 'Very true.' Let
us return to the lawgiver and say to him, 'Well, lawgiver, no such
fear-producing potion has been given by God or invented by man, but
there is a potion which will make men fearless.' 'You mean wine.'
Yes; has not wine an effect the contrary of that which I was just now
describing,--first mellowing and humanizing a man, and then filling him
with confidence, making him ready to say or do anything? 'Certainly.'
Let us not forget that there are two qualities which should be
cultivated in the soul--first, the greatest fearlessness, and, secondly,
the greatest fear, which are both parts of reverence. Courage and
fearlessness are trained amid dangers; but we have still to consider how
fear is to be trained. We desire to attain fearlessness and confidence
without the insolence and boldness which commonly attend them. For
do not love, ignorance, avarice, wealth, beauty, strength, while they
stimulate courage, also madden and intoxicate the soul? What better and
more innocent test of character is there than festive intercourse? Would
you make a bargain with a man in order to try whether he is honest? Or
would you ascertain whether he is licentious by putting your wife or
daughter into his hands? No one would deny that the test proposed is
fairer, speedier, and safer than any other. And such a test will be
particularly useful in the political science, which desires to know
human natures and characters. 'Very true.'

BOOK II. And are there any other uses of well-ordered potations? There
are; but in order to explain them, I must repeat what I mean by right
education; which, if I am not mistaken, depends on the due regulation
of convivial intercourse. 'A high assumption.' I believe that virtue
and vice are originally present to the mind of children in the form of
pleasure and pain; reason and fixed principles come later, and happy is
he who acquires them even in declining years; for he who possesses
them is the perfect man. When pleasure and pain, and love and hate, are
rightly implanted in the yet unconscious soul, and after the attainment
of reason are discovered to be in harmony with her, this harmony of the
soul is virtue, and the preparatory stage, anticipating reason, I
call education. But the finer sense of pleasure and pain is apt to be
impaired in the course of life; and therefore the Gods, pitying the
toils and sorrows of mortals, have allowed them to have holidays,
and given them the Muses and Apollo and Dionysus for leaders and
playfellows. All young creatures love motion and frolic, and utter
sounds of delight; but man only is capable of taking pleasure in
rhythmical and harmonious movements. With these education begins; and
the uneducated is he who has never known the discipline of the chorus,
and the educated is he who has. The chorus is partly dance and partly
song, and therefore the well-educated must sing and dance well. But when
we say, 'He sings and dances well,' we mean that he sings and dances
what is good. And if he thinks that to be good which is really good, he
will have a much higher music and harmony in him, and be a far greater
master of imitation in sound and gesture than he who is not of this
opinion. 'True.' Then, if we know what is good and bad in song and
dance, we shall know what education is? 'Very true.' Let us now consider
the beauty of figure, melody, song, and dance. Will the same figures or
sounds be equally well adapted to the manly and the cowardly when they
are in trouble? 'How can they be, when the very colours of their faces
are different?' Figures and melodies have a rhythm and harmony which are
adapted to the expression of different feelings (I may remark, by the
way, that the term 'colour,' which is a favourite word of music-masters,
is not really applicable to music). And one class of harmonies is akin
to courage and all virtue, the other to cowardice and all vice. 'We
agree.' And do all men equally like all dances? 'Far otherwise.' Do some
figures, then, appear to be beautiful which are not? For no one will
admit that the forms of vice are more beautiful than the forms of
virtue, or that he prefers the first kind to the second. And yet most
persons say that the merit of music is to give pleasure. But this is
impiety. There is, however, a more plausible account of the matter given
by others, who make their likes or dislikes the criterion of excellence.
Sometimes nature crosses habit, or conversely, and then they say that
such and such fashions or gestures are pleasant, but they do not like to
exhibit them before men of sense, although they enjoy them in private.
'Very true.' And do vicious measures and strains do any harm, or
good measures any good to the lovers of them? 'Probably.' Say, rather
'Certainly': for the gentle indulgence which we often show to vicious
men inevitably makes us become like them. And what can be worse than
this? 'Nothing.' Then in a well-administered city, the poet will not be
allowed to make the songs of the people just as he pleases, or to train
his choruses without regard to virtue and vice. 'Certainly not.' And
yet he may do this anywhere except in Egypt; for there ages ago they
discovered the great truth which I am now asserting, that the young
should be educated in forms and strains of virtue. These they fixed and
consecrated in their temples; and no artist or musician is allowed
to deviate from them. They are literally the same which they were ten
thousand years ago. And this practice of theirs suggests the reflection
that legislation about music is not an impossible thing. But the
particular enactments must be the work of God or of some God-inspired
man, as in Egypt their ancient chants are said to be the composition
of the goddess Isis. The melodies which have a natural truth and
correctness should be embodied in a law, and then the desire of novelty
is not strong enough to change the old fashions. Is not the origin of
music as follows? We rejoice when we think that we prosper, and we think
that we prosper when we rejoice, and at such times we cannot rest, but
our young men dance dances and sing songs, and our old men, who have
lost the elasticity of youth, regale themselves with the memory of the
past, while they contemplate the life and activity of the young. 'Most
true.' People say that he who gives us most pleasure at such festivals
is to win the palm: are they right? 'Possibly.' Let us not be hasty
in deciding, but first imagine a festival at which the lord of the
festival, having assembled the citizens, makes a proclamation that
he shall be crowned victor who gives the most pleasure, from whatever
source derived. We will further suppose that there are exhibitions
of rhapsodists and musicians, tragic and comic poets, and even
marionette-players--which of the pleasure-makers will win? Shall I
answer for you?--the marionette-players will please the children; youths
will decide for comedy; young men, educated women, and people in general
will prefer tragedy; we old men are lovers of Homer and Hesiod. Now
which of them is right? If you and I are asked, we shall certainly say
that the old men's way of thinking ought to prevail. 'Very true.' So far
I agree with the many that the excellence of music is to be measured by
pleasure; but then the pleasure must be that of the good and educated,
or better still, of one supremely virtuous and educated man. The true
judge must have both wisdom and courage. For he must lead the multitude
and not be led by them, and must not weakly yield to the uproar of
the theatre, nor give false judgment out of that mouth which has just
appealed to the Gods. The ancient custom of Hellas, which still prevails
in Italy and Sicily, left the judgment to the spectators, but this
custom has been the ruin of the poets, who seek only to please their
patrons, and has degraded the audience by the representation of inferior
characters. What is the inference? The same which we have often drawn,
that education is the training of the young idea in what the law affirms
and the elders approve. And as the soul of a child is too young to be
trained in earnest, a kind of education has been invented which tempts
him with plays and songs, as the sick are tempted by pleasant meats and
drinks. And the wise legislator will compel the poet to express in his
poems noble thoughts in fitting words and rhythms. 'But is this the
practice elsewhere than in Crete and Lacedaemon? In other states, as far
as I know, dances and music are constantly changed at the pleasure of
the hearers.' I am afraid that I misled you; not liking to be always
finding fault with mankind as they are, I described them as they ought
to be. But let me understand: you say that such customs exist among
the Cretans and Lacedaemonians, and that the rest of the world would be
improved by adopting them? 'Much improved.' And you compel your poets to
declare that the righteous are happy, and that the wicked man, even if
he be as rich as Midas, is unhappy? Or, in the words of Tyrtaeus,
'I sing not, I care not about him' who is a great warrior not having
justice; if he be unjust, 'I would not have him look calmly upon death
or be swifter than the wind'; and may he be deprived of every good--that
is, of every true good. For even if he have the goods which men regard,
these are not really goods: first health; beauty next; thirdly wealth;
and there are others. A man may have every sense purged and improved; he
may be a tyrant, and do what he likes, and live for ever: but you and
I will maintain that all these things are goods to the just, but to the
unjust the greatest of evils, if life be immortal; not so great if he
live for a short time only. If a man had health and wealth, and power,
and was insolent and unjust, his life would still be miserable; he might
be fair and rich, and do what he liked, but he would live basely, and if
basely evilly, and if evilly painfully. 'There I cannot agree with you.'
Then may heaven give us the spirit of agreement, for I am as convinced
of the truth of what I say as that Crete is an island; and, if I were
a lawgiver, I would exercise a censorship over the poets, and I would
punish them if they said that the wicked are happy, or that injustice is
profitable. And these are not the only matters in which I should make
my citizens talk in a different way to the world in general. If I asked
Zeus and Apollo, the divine legislators of Crete and Sparta,--'Are
the just and pleasant life the same or not the same'?--and they
replied,--'Not the same'; and I asked again--'Which is the happier'? And
they said'--'The pleasant life,' this is an answer not fit for a God
to utter, and therefore I ought rather to put the same question to some
legislator. And if he replies 'The pleasant,' then I should say to
him, 'O my father, did you not tell me that I should live as justly as
possible'? and if to be just is to be happy, what is that principle of
happiness or good which is superior to pleasure? Is the approval of
gods and men to be deemed good and honourable, but unpleasant, and their
disapproval the reverse? Or is the neither doing nor suffering evil good
and honourable, although not pleasant? But you cannot make men like what
is not pleasant, and therefore you must make them believe that the
just is pleasant. The business of the legislator is to clear up this
confusion. He will show that the just and the unjust are identical with
the pleasurable and the painful, from the point of view of the just man,
of the unjust the reverse. And which is the truer judgment? Surely that
of the better soul. For if not the truth, it is the best and most moral
of fictions; and the legislator who desires to propagate this useful
lie, may be encouraged by remarking that mankind have believed the story
of Cadmus and the dragon's teeth, and therefore he may be assured that
he can make them believe anything, and need only consider what fiction
will do the greatest good. That the happiest is also the holiest, this
shall be our strain, which shall be sung by all three choruses alike.
First will enter the choir of children, who will lift up their voices
on high; and after them the young men, who will pray the God Paean to be
gracious to the youth, and to testify to the truth of their words;
then will come the chorus of elder men, between thirty and sixty; and,
lastly, there will be the old men, and they will tell stories enforcing
the same virtues, as with the voice of an oracle. 'Whom do you mean by
the third chorus?' You remember how I spoke at first of the restless
nature of young creatures, who jumped about and called out in a
disorderly manner, and I said that no other animal attained any
perception of rhythm; but that to us the Gods gave Apollo and the Muses
and Dionysus to be our playfellows. Of the two first choruses I have
already spoken, and I have now to speak of the third, or Dionysian
chorus, which is composed of those who are between thirty and sixty
years old. 'Let us hear.' We are agreed (are we not?) that men, women,
and children should be always charming themselves with strains of
virtue, and that there should be a variety in the strains, that they may
not weary of them? Now the fairest and most useful of strains will be
uttered by the elder men, and therefore we cannot let them off. But how
can we make them sing? For a discreet elderly man is ashamed to hear the
sound of his own voice in private, and still more in public. The only
way is to give them drink; this will mellow the sourness of age. No one
should be allowed to taste wine until they are eighteen; from eighteen
to thirty they may take a little; but when they have reached forty
years, they may be initiated into the mystery of drinking. Thus they
will become softer and more impressible; and when a man's heart is warm
within him, he will be more ready to charm himself and others with song.
And what songs shall he sing? 'At Crete and Lacedaemon we only know
choral songs.' Yes; that is because your way of life is military. Your
young men are like wild colts feeding in a herd together; no one takes
the individual colt and trains him apart, and tries to give him the
qualities of a statesman as well as of a soldier. He who was thus
trained would be a greater warrior than those of whom Tyrtaeus speaks,
for he would be courageous, and yet he would know that courage was only
fourth in the scale of virtue. 'Once more, I must say, Stranger, that
you run down our lawgivers.' Not intentionally, my good friend, but
whither the argument leads I follow; and I am trying to find some style
of poetry suitable for those who dislike the common sort. 'Very good.'
In all things which have a charm, either this charm is their good, or
they have some accompanying truth or advantage. For example, in eating
and drinking there is pleasure and also profit, that is to say, health;
and in learning there is a pleasure and also truth. There is a pleasure
or charm, too, in the imitative arts, as well as a law of proportion or
equality; but the pleasure which they afford, however innocent, is not
the criterion of their truth. The test of pleasure cannot be applied
except to that which has no other good or evil, no truth or falsehood.
But that which has truth must be judged of by the standard of truth, and
therefore imitation and proportion are to be judged of by their truth
alone. 'Certainly.' And as music is imitative, it is not to be judged by
the criterion of pleasure, and the Muse whom we seek is the muse not of
pleasure but of truth, for imitation has a truth. 'Doubtless.' And if
so, the judge must know what is being imitated before he decides on the
quality of the imitation, and he who does not know what is true will not
know what is good. 'He will not.' Will any one be able to imitate the
human body, if he does not know the number, proportion, colour, or
figure of the limbs? 'How can he?' But suppose we know some picture or
figure to be an exact resemblance of a man, should we not also require
to know whether the picture is beautiful or not? 'Quite right.' The
judge of the imitation is required to know, therefore, first the
original, secondly the truth, and thirdly the merit of the execution?
'True.' Then let us not weary in the attempt to bring music to the
standard of the Muses and of truth. The Muses are not like human poets;
they never spoil or mix rhythms or scales, or mingle instruments and
human voices, or confuse the manners and strains of men and women, or of
freemen and slaves, or of rational beings and brute animals. They do
not practise the baser sorts of musical arts, such as the 'matured
judgments,' of whom Orpheus speaks, would ridicule. But modern poets
separate metre from music, and melody and rhythm from words, and use the
instrument alone without the voice. The consequence is, that the meaning
of the rhythm and of the time are not understood. I am endeavouring to
show how our fifty-year-old choristers are to be trained, and what
they are to avoid. The opinion of the multitude about these matters is
worthless; they who are only made to step in time by sheer force cannot
be critics of music. 'Impossible.' Then our newly-appointed minstrels
must be trained in music sufficiently to understand the nature of
rhythms and systems; and they should select such as are suitable to
men of their age, and will enable them to give and receive innocent
pleasure. This is a knowledge which goes beyond that either of the poets
or of their auditors in general. For although the poet must understand
rhythm and music, he need not necessarily know whether the imitation
is good or not, which was the third point required in a judge; but our
chorus of elders must know all three, if they are to be the instructors
of youth.

And now we will resume the original argument, which may be summed up as
follows: A convivial meeting is apt to grow tumultuous as the drinking
proceeds; every man becomes light-headed, and fancies that he can rule
the whole world. 'Doubtless.' And did we not say that the souls of the
drinkers, when subdued by wine, are made softer and more malleable at
the hand of the legislator? the docility of childhood returns to them.
At times however they become too valiant and disorderly, drinking out
of their turn, and interrupting one another. And the business of the
legislator is to infuse into them that divine fear, which we call shame,
in opposition to this disorderly boldness. But in order to discipline
them there must be guardians of the law of drinking, and sober generals
who shall take charge of the private soldiers; they are as necessary in
drinking as in fighting, and he who disobeys these Dionysiac commanders
will be equally disgraced. 'Very good.' If a drinking festival were well
regulated, men would go away, not as they now do, greater enemies, but
better friends. Of the greatest gift of Dionysus I hardly like to speak,
lest I should be misunderstood. 'What is that?' According to tradition
Dionysus was driven mad by his stepmother Here, and in order to revenge
himself he inspired mankind with Bacchic madness. But these are stories
which I would rather not repeat. However I do acknowledge that all men
are born in an imperfect state, and are at first restless, irrational
creatures: this, as you will remember, has been already said by us. 'I
remember.' And that Apollo and the Muses and Dionysus gave us harmony
and rhythm? 'Very true.' The other story implies that wine was given
to punish us and make us mad; but we contend that wine is a balm and a
cure; a spring of modesty in the soul, and of health and strength in
the body. Again, the work of the chorus is co-extensive with the work of
education; rhythm and melody answer to the voice, and the motions of the
body correspond to all three, and the sound enters in and educates
the soul in virtue. 'Yes.' And the movement which, when pursued as
an amusement, is termed dancing, when studied with a view to the
improvement of the body, becomes gymnastic. Shall we now proceed to
speak of this? 'What Cretan or Lacedaemonian would approve of your
omitting gymnastic?' Your question implies assent; and you will easily
understand a subject which is familiar to you. Gymnastic is based on the
natural tendency of every animal to rapid motion; and man adds a sense
of rhythm, which is awakened by music; music and dancing together form
the choral art. But before proceeding I must add a crowning word about
drinking. Like other pleasures, it has a lawful use; but if a state or
an individual is inclined to drink at will, I cannot allow them. I
would go further than Crete or Lacedaemon and have the law of the
Carthaginians, that no slave of either sex should drink wine at all, and
no soldier while he is on a campaign, and no magistrate or officer while
he is on duty, and that no one should drink by daylight or on a bridal
night. And there are so many other occasions on which wine ought to
be prohibited, that there will not be many vines grown or vineyards
required in the state.

BOOK III. If a man wants to know the origin of states and societies, he
should behold them from the point of view of time. Thousands of cities
have come into being and have passed away again in infinite ages,
every one of them having had endless forms of government; and if we
can ascertain the cause of these changes in states, that will probably
explain their origin. What do you think of ancient traditions about
deluges and destructions of mankind, and the preservation of a remnant?
'Every one believes in them.' Then let us suppose the world to have
been destroyed by a deluge. The survivors would be hill-shepherds, small
sparks of the human race, dwelling in isolation, and unacquainted with
the arts and vices of civilization. We may further suppose that the
cities on the plain and on the coast have been swept away, and that all
inventions, and every sort of knowledge, have perished. 'Why, if all
things were as they now are, nothing would have ever been invented. All
our famous discoveries have been made within the last thousand years,
and many of them are but of yesterday.' Yes, Cleinias, and you must not
forget Epimenides, who was really of yesterday; he practised the lesson
of moderation and abstinence which Hesiod only preached. 'True.' After
the great destruction we may imagine that the earth was a desert, in
which there were a herd or two of oxen and a few goats, hardly enough
to support those who tended them; while of politics and governments
the survivors would know nothing. And out of this state of things have
arisen arts and laws, and a great deal of virtue and a great deal of
vice; little by little the world has come to be what it is. At first,
the few inhabitants would have had a natural fear of descending into the
plains; although they would want to have intercourse with one another,
they would have a difficulty in getting about, having lost the arts,
and having no means of extracting metals from the earth, or of felling
timber; for even if they had saved any tools, these would soon have been
worn out, and they could get no more until the art of metallurgy had
been again revived. Faction and war would be extinguished among them,
for being solitary they would incline to be friendly; and having
abundance of pasture and plenty of milk and flesh, they would have
nothing to quarrel about. We may assume that they had also dwellings,
clothes, pottery, for the weaving and plastic arts do not require the
use of metals. In those days they were neither poor nor rich, and
there was no insolence or injustice among them; for they were of noble
natures, and lived up to their principles, and believed what they were
told; knowing nothing of land or naval warfare, or of legal practices
or party conflicts, they were simpler and more temperate, and also more
just than the men of our day. 'Very true.' I am showing whence the need
of lawgivers arises, for in primitive ages they neither had nor wanted
them. Men lived according to the customs of their fathers, in a simple
manner, under a patriarchal government, such as still exists both among
Hellenes and barbarians, and is described in Homer as prevailing among
the Cyclopes:--

'They have no laws, and they dwell in rocks or on the tops of mountains,
and every one is the judge of his wife and children, and they do not
trouble themselves about one another.'

'That is a charming poet of yours, though I know little of him, for in
Crete foreign poets are not much read.' 'But he is well known in Sparta,
though he describes Ionian rather than Dorian manners, and he seems to
take your view of primitive society.' May we not suppose that government
arose out of the union of single families who survived the destruction,
and were under the rule of patriarchs, because they had originally
descended from a single father and mother? 'That is very probable.' As
time went on, men increased in number, and tilled the ground, living in
a common habitation, which they protected by walls against wild beasts;
but the several families retained the laws and customs which they
separately received from their first parents. They would naturally like
their own laws better than any others, and would be already formed by
them when they met in a common society: thus legislation imperceptibly
began among them. For in the next stage the associated families would
appoint plenipotentiaries, who would select and present to the chiefs
those of all their laws which they thought best. The chiefs in turn
would make a further selection, and would thus become the lawgivers
of the state, which they would form into an aristocracy or a monarchy.
'Probably.' In the third stage various other forms of government would
arise. This state of society is described by Homer in speaking of the
foundation of Dardania, which, he says,

  'was built at the foot of many-fountained Ida, for Ilium,
   the city of the plain, as yet was not.'

Here, as also in the account of the Cyclopes, the poet by some divine
inspiration has attained truth. But to proceed with our tale. Ilium was
built in a wide plain, on a low hill, which was surrounded by streams
descending from Ida. This shows that many ages must have passed; for the
men who remembered the deluge would never have placed their city at the
mercy of the waters. When mankind began to multiply, many other cities
were built in similar situations. These cities carried on a ten years'
war against Troy, by sea as well as land, for men were ceasing to be
afraid of the sea, and, in the meantime, while the chiefs of the army
were at Troy, their homes fell into confusion. The youth revolted and
refused to receive their own fathers; deaths, murders, exiles ensued.
Under the new name of Dorians, which they received from their chief
Dorieus, the exiles returned: the rest of the story is part of the
history of Sparta.

Thus, after digressing from the subject of laws into music and drinking,
we return to the settlement of Sparta, which in laws and institutions is
the sister of Crete. We have seen the rise of a first, second, and third
state, during the lapse of ages; and now we arrive at a fourth state,
and out of the comparison of all four we propose to gather the nature
of laws and governments, and the changes which may be desirable in them.
'If,' replies the Spartan, 'our new discussion is likely to be as
good as the last, I would think the longest day too short for such an

Let us imagine the time when Lacedaemon, and Argos, and Messene were all
subject, Megillus, to your ancestors. Afterwards, they distributed
the army into three portions, and made three cities--Argos, Messene,
Lacedaemon. 'Yes.' Temenus was the king of Argos, Cresphontes of
Messene, Procles and Eurysthenes ruled at Lacedaemon. 'Just so.' And
they all swore to assist any one of their number whose kingdom was
subverted. 'Yes.' But did we not say that kingdoms or governments can
only be subverted by themselves? 'That is true.' Yes, and the truth is
now proved by facts: there were certain conditions upon which the three
kingdoms were to assist one another; the government was to be mild and
the people obedient, and the kings and people were to unite in assisting
either of the two others when they were wronged. This latter condition
was a great security. 'Clearly.' Such a provision is in opposition to
the common notion that the lawgiver should make only such laws as the
people like; but we say that he should rather be like a physician,
prepared to effect a cure even at the cost of considerable suffering.
'Very true.' The early lawgivers had another great advantage--they
were saved from the reproach which attends a division of land and the
abolition of debts. No one could quarrel with the Dorians for dividing
the territory, and they had no debts of long standing. 'They had not.'
Then what was the reason why their legislation signally failed? For
there were three kingdoms, two of them quickly lost their original
constitution. That is a question which we cannot refuse to answer, if
we mean to proceed with our old man's game of enquiring into laws
and institutions. And the Dorian institutions are more worthy of
consideration than any other, having been evidently intended to be a
protection not only to the Peloponnese, but to all the Hellenes against
the Barbarians. For the capture of Troy by the Achaeans had given great
offence to the Assyrians, of whose empire it then formed part, and
they were likely to retaliate. Accordingly the royal Heraclid brothers
devised their military constitution, which was organised on a far better
plan than the old Trojan expedition; and the Dorians themselves were far
superior to the Achaeans, who had taken part in that expedition, and had
been conquered by them. Such a scheme, undertaken by men who had shared
with one another toils and dangers, sanctioned by the Delphian oracle,
under the guidance of the Heraclidae, seemed to have a promise of
permanence. 'Naturally.' Yet this has not proved to be the case. Instead
of the three being one, they have always been at war; had they been
united, in accordance with the original intention, they would have been

And what caused their ruin? Did you ever observe that there are
beautiful things of which men often say, 'What wonders they would have
effected if rightly used?' and yet, after all, this may be a mistake.
And so I say of the Heraclidae and their expedition, which I may perhaps
have been justified in admiring, but which nevertheless suggests to me
the general reflection,--'What wonders might not strength and military
resources have accomplished, if the possessor had only known how to use
them!' For consider: if the generals of the army had only known how
to arrange their forces, might they not have given their subjects
everlasting freedom, and the power of doing what they would in all the
world? 'Very true.' Suppose a person to express his admiration of wealth
or rank, does he not do so under the idea that by the help of these
he can attain his desires? All men wish to obtain the control of all
things, and they are always praying for what they desire. 'Certainly.'
And we ask for our friends what they ask for themselves. 'Yes.' Dear is
the son to the father, and yet the son, if he is young and foolish, will
often pray to obtain what the father will pray that he may not obtain.
'True.' And when the father, in the heat of youth or the dotage of age,
makes some rash prayer, the son, like Hippolytus, may have reason to
pray that the word of his father may be ineffectual. 'You mean that a
man should pray to have right desires, before he prays that his desires
may be fulfilled; and that wisdom should be the first object of our
prayers?' Yes; and you will remember my saying that wisdom should be the
principal aim of the legislator; but you said that defence in war
came first. And I replied, that there were four virtues, whereas you
acknowledged one only--courage, and not wisdom which is the guide of all
the rest. And I repeat--in jest if you like, but I am willing that you
should receive my words in earnest--that 'the prayer of a fool is full
of danger.' I will prove to you, if you will allow me, that the ruin
of those states was not caused by cowardice or ignorance in war, but
by ignorance of human affairs. 'Pray proceed: our attention will show
better than compliments that we prize your words.' I maintain that
ignorance is, and always has been, the ruin of states; wherefore the
legislator should seek to banish it from the state; and the greatest
ignorance is the love of what is known to be evil, and the hatred of
what is known to be good; this is the last and greatest conflict of
pleasure and reason in the soul. I say the greatest, because affecting
the greater part of the soul; for the passions are in the individual
what the people are in a state. And when they become opposed to reason
or law, and instruction no longer avails--that is the last and greatest
ignorance of states and men. 'I agree.' Let this, then, be our first
principle:--That the citizen who does not know how to choose between
good and evil must not have authority, although he possess great mental
gifts, and many accomplishments; for he is really a fool. On the other
hand, he who has this knowledge may be unable either to read or swim;
nevertheless, he shall be counted wise and permitted to rule. For how
can there be wisdom where there is no harmony?--the wise man is the
saviour, and he who is devoid of wisdom is the destroyer of states and
households. There are rulers and there are subjects in states. And the
first claim to rule is that of parents to rule over their children; the
second, that of the noble to rule over the ignoble; thirdly, the elder
must govern the younger; in the fourth place, the slave must obey his
master; fifthly, there is the power of the stronger, which the poet
Pindar declares to be according to nature; sixthly, there is the rule of
the wiser, which is also according to nature, as I must inform Pindar,
if he does not know, and is the rule of law over obedient subjects.
'Most true.' And there is a seventh kind of rule which the Gods
love,--in this the ruler is elected by lot.

Then, now, we playfully say to him who fancies that it is easy to
make laws:--You see, legislator, the many and inconsistent claims to
authority; here is a spring of troubles which you must stay. And first
of all you must help us to consider how the kings of Argos and Messene
in olden days destroyed their famous empire--did they forget the saying
of Hesiod, that 'the half is better than the whole'? And do we suppose
that the ignorance of this truth is less fatal to kings than to peoples?
'Probably the evil is increased by their way of life.' The kings of
those days transgressed the laws and violated their oaths. Their deeds
were not in harmony with their words, and their folly, which seemed to
them wisdom, was the ruin of the state. And how could the legislator
have prevented this evil?--the remedy is easy to see now, but was not
easy to foresee at the time. 'What is the remedy?' The institutions of
Sparta may teach you, Megillus. Wherever there is excess, whether the
vessel has too large a sail, or the body too much food, or the mind
too much power, there destruction is certain. And similarly, a man who
possesses arbitrary power is soon corrupted, and grows hateful to
his dearest friends. In order to guard against this evil, the God who
watched over Sparta gave you two kings instead of one, that they
might balance one another; and further to lower the pulse of your body
politic, some human wisdom, mingled with divine power, tempered the
strength and self-sufficiency of youth with the moderation of age in
the institution of your senate. A third saviour bridled your rising and
swelling power by ephors, whom he assimilated to officers elected by
lot: and thus the kingly power was preserved, and became the preserver
of all the rest. Had the constitution been arranged by the original
legislators, not even the portion of Aristodemus would have been saved;
for they had no political experience, and imagined that a youthful
spirit invested with power could be restrained by oaths. Now that God
has instructed us in the arts of legislation, there is no merit in
seeing all this, or in learning wisdom after the event. But if the
coming danger could have been foreseen, and the union preserved, then
no Persian or other enemy would have dared to attack Hellas; and indeed
there was not so much credit to us in defeating the enemy, as discredit
in our disloyalty to one another. For of the three cities one only
fought on behalf of Hellas; and of the two others, Argos refused
her aid; and Messenia was actually at war with Sparta: and if the
Lacedaemonians and Athenians had not united, the Hellenes would have
been absorbed in the Persian empire, and dispersed among the barbarians.
We make these reflections upon past and present legislators because we
desire to find out what other course could have been followed. We were
saying just now, that a state can only be free and wise and harmonious
when there is a balance of powers. There are many words by which we
express the aims of the legislator,--temperance, wisdom, friendship; but
we need not be disturbed by the variety of expression,--these words have
all the same meaning. 'I should like to know at what in your opinion
the legislator should aim.' Hear me, then. There are two mother forms
of states--one monarchy, and the other democracy: the Persians have
the first in the highest form, and the Athenians the second; and no
government can be well administered which does not include both. There
was a time when both the Persians and Athenians had more the character
of a constitutional state than they now have. In the days of Cyrus the
Persians were freemen as well as lords of others, and their soldiers
were free and equal, and the kings used and honoured all the talent
which they could find, and so the nation waxed great, because there was
freedom and friendship and communion of soul. But Cyrus, though a wise
general, never troubled himself about the education of his family. He
was a soldier from his youth upward, and left his children who were born
in the purple to be educated by women, who humoured and spoilt them.
'A rare education, truly!' Yes, such an education as princesses who had
recently grown rich might be expected to give them in a country where
the men were solely occupied with warlike pursuits. 'Likely enough.'
Their father had possessions of men and animals, and never considered
that the race to whom he was about to make them over had been educated
in a very different school, not like the Persian shepherd, who was
well able to take care of himself and his own. He did not see that
his children had been brought up in the Median fashion, by women and
eunuchs. The end was that one of the sons of Cyrus slew the other, and
lost the kingdom by his own folly. Observe, again, that Darius, who
restored the kingdom, had not received a royal education. He was one of
the seven chiefs, and when he came to the throne he divided the empire
into seven provinces; and he made equal laws, and implanted friendship
among the people. Hence his subjects were greatly attached to him, and
cheerfully helped him to extend his empire. Next followed Xerxes,
who had received the same royal education as Cambyses, and met with a
similar fate. The reflection naturally occurs to us--How could Darius,
with all his experience, have made such a mistake! The ruin of Xerxes
was not a mere accident, but the evil life which is generally led by the
sons of very rich and royal persons; and this is what the legislator has
seriously to consider. Justly may the Lacedaemonians be praised for not
giving special honour to birth or wealth; for such advantages are not to
be highly esteemed without virtue, and not even virtue is to be esteemed
unless it be accompanied by temperance. 'Explain.' No one would like
to live in the same house with a courageous man who had no control over
himself, nor with a clever artist who was a rogue. Nor can justice
and wisdom ever be separated from temperance. But considering these
qualities with reference to the honour and dishonour which is to be
assigned to them in states, would you say, on the other hand, that
temperance, if existing without the other virtues in the soul, is worth
anything or nothing? 'I cannot tell.' You have answered well. It would
be absurd to speak of temperance as belonging to the class of honourable
or of dishonourable qualities, because all other virtues in their
various classes require temperance to be added to them; having the
addition, they are honoured not in proportion to that, but to their own
excellence. And ought not the legislator to determine these classes?
'Certainly.' Suppose then that, without going into details, we make
three great classes of them. Most honourable are the goods of the soul,
always assuming temperance as a condition of them; secondly, those of
the body; thirdly, external possessions. The legislator who puts them in
another order is doing an unholy and unpatriotic thing.

These remarks were suggested by the history of the Persian kings; and to
them I will now return. The ruin of their empire was caused by the
loss of freedom and the growth of despotism; all community of feeling
disappeared. Hatred and spoliation took the place of friendship; the
people no longer fought heartily for their masters; the rulers, finding
their myriads useless on the field of battle, resorted to mercenaries as
their only salvation, and were thus compelled by their circumstances
to proclaim the stupidest of falsehoods--that virtue is a trifle in
comparison of money.

But enough of the Persians: a different lesson is taught by the
Athenians, whose example shows that a limited freedom is far better than
an unlimited. Ancient Athens, at the time of the Persian invasion,
had such a limited freedom. The people were divided into four classes,
according to the amount of their property, and the universal love of
order, as well as the fear of the approaching host, made them obedient
and willing citizens. For Darius had sent Datis and Artaphernes,
commanding them under pain of death to subjugate the Eretrians and
Athenians. A report, whether true or not, came to Athens that all the
Eretrians had been 'netted'; and the Athenians in terror sent all
over Hellas for assistance. None came to their relief except the
Lacedaemonians, and they arrived a day too late, when the battle of
Marathon had been already fought. In process of time Xerxes came to
the throne, and the Athenians heard of nothing but the bridge over the
Hellespont, and the canal of Athos, and the innumerable host and fleet.
They knew that these were intended to avenge the defeat of Marathon.
Their case seemed desperate, for there was no Hellene likely to assist
them by land, and at sea they were attacked by more than a thousand
vessels;--their only hope, however slender, was in victory; so they
relied upon themselves and upon the Gods. Their common danger, and
the influence of their ancient constitution, greatly tended to promote
harmony among them. Reverence and fear--that fear which the coward never
knows--made them fight for their altars and their homes, and saved them
from being dispersed all over the world. 'Your words, Athenian, are
worthy of your country.' And you Megillus, who have inherited the
virtues of your ancestors, are worthy to hear them. Let me ask you
to take the moral of my tale. The Persians have lost their liberty
in absolute slavery, and we in absolute freedom. In ancient times the
Athenian people were not the masters, but the servants of the laws. 'Of
what laws?' In the first place, there were laws about music, and the
music was of various kinds: there was one kind which consisted of hymns,
another of lamentations; there was also the paean and the dithyramb,
and the so-called 'laws' (nomoi) or strains, which were played upon the
harp. The regulation of such matters was not left to the whistling and
clapping of the crowd; there was silence while the judges decided, and
the boys, and the audience in general, were kept in order by raps of a
stick. But after a while there arose a new race of poets, men of genius
certainly, however careless of musical truth and propriety, who made
pleasure the only criterion of excellence. That was a test which the
spectators could apply for themselves; the whole audience, instead of
being mute, became vociferous, and a theatrocracy took the place of an
aristocracy. Could the judges have been free, there would have been no
great harm done; a musical democracy would have been well enough--but
conceit has been our ruin. Everybody knows everything, and is ready to
say anything; the age of reverence is gone, and the age of irreverence
and licentiousness has succeeded. 'Most true.' And with this freedom
comes disobedience to rulers, parents, elders,--in the latter days to
the law also; the end returns to the beginning, and the old Titanic
nature reappears--men have no regard for the Gods or for oaths; and the
evils of the human race seem as if they would never cease. Whither are
we running away? Once more we must pull up the argument with bit and
curb, lest, as the proverb says, we should fall off our ass. 'Good.'
Our purpose in what we have been saying is to prove that the legislator
ought to aim at securing for a state three things--freedom, friendship,
wisdom. And we chose two states;--one was the type of freedom, and the
other of despotism; and we showed that when in a mean they attained
their highest perfection. In a similar spirit we spoke of the Dorian
expedition, and of the settlement on the hills and in the plains of
Troy; and of music, and the use of wine, and of all that preceded.

And now, has our discussion been of any use? 'Yes, stranger; for by
a singular coincidence the Cretans are about to send out a colony,
of which the settlement has been confided to the Cnosians. Ten
commissioners, of whom I am one, are to give laws to the colonists, and
we may give any which we please--Cretan or foreign. And therefore let
us make a selection from what has been said, and then proceed with the
construction of the state.' Very good: I am quite at your service. 'And
I too,' says Megillus.

BOOK IV. And now, what is this city? I do not want to know what is to
be the name of the place (for some accident,--a river or a local deity,
will determine that), but what the situation is, whether maritime or
inland. 'The city will be about eleven miles from the sea.' Are there
harbours? 'Excellent.' And is the surrounding country self-supporting?
'Almost.' Any neighbouring states? 'No; and that is the reason for
choosing the place, which has been deserted from time immemorial.' And
is there a fair proportion of hill and plain and wood? 'Like Crete
in general, more hill than plain.' Then there is some hope for your
citizens; had the city been on the sea, and dependent for support
on other countries, no human power could have preserved you from
corruption. Even the distance of eleven miles is hardly enough. For the
sea, although an agreeable, is a dangerous companion, and a highway of
strange morals and manners as well as of commerce. But as the country is
only moderately fertile there will be no great export trade and no
great returns of gold and silver, which are the ruin of states. Is there
timber for ship-building? 'There is no pine, nor much cypress; and very
little stone-pine or plane wood for the interior of ships.' That is
good. 'Why?' Because the city will not be able to imitate the bad ways
of her enemies. 'What is the bearing of that remark?' To explain my
meaning, I would ask you to remember what we said about the Cretan laws,
that they had an eye to war only; whereas I maintained that they ought
to have included all virtue. And I hope that you in your turn will
retaliate upon me if I am false to my own principle. For I consider that
the lawgiver should go straight to the mark of virtue and justice, and
disregard wealth and every other good when separated from virtue.
What further I mean, when I speak of the imitation of enemies, I will
illustrate by the story of Minos, if our Cretan friend will allow me to
mention it. Minos, who was a great sea-king, imposed upon the Athenians
a cruel tribute, for in those days they were not a maritime power; they
had no timber for ship-building, and therefore they could not 'imitate
their enemies'; and better far, as I maintain, would it have been for
them to have lost many times over the lives which they devoted to the
tribute than to have turned soldiers into sailors. Naval warfare is not
a very praiseworthy art; men should not be taught to leap on shore, and
then again to hurry back to their ships, or to find specious excuses for
throwing away their arms; bad customs ought not to be gilded with fine
words. And retreat is always bad, as we are taught in Homer, when he
introduces Odysseus, setting forth to Agamemnon the danger of ships
being at hand when soldiers are disposed to fly. An army of lions
trained in such ways would fly before a herd of deer. Further, a city
which owes its preservation to a crowd of pilots and oarsmen and other
undeserving persons, cannot bestow rewards of honour properly; and
this is the ruin of states. 'Still, in Crete we say that the battle of
Salamis was the salvation of Hellas.' Such is the prevailing
opinion. But I and Megillus say that the battle of Marathon began the
deliverance, and that the battle of Plataea completed it; for these
battles made men better, whereas the battles of Salamis and Artemisium
made them no better. And we further affirm that mere existence is not
the great political good of individuals or states, but the continuance
of the best existence. 'Certainly.' Let us then endeavour to follow this
principle in colonization and legislation.

And first, let me ask you who are to be the colonists? May any one
come from any city of Crete? For you would surely not send a general
invitation to all Hellas. Yet I observe that in Crete there are people
who have come from Argos and Aegina and other places. 'Our recruits
will be drawn from all Crete, and of other Hellenes we should prefer
Peloponnesians. As you observe, there are Argives among the Cretans;
moreover the Gortynians, who are the best of all Cretans, have come from
Gortys in Peloponnesus.'

Colonization is in some ways easier when the colony goes out in a swarm
from one country, owing to the pressure of population, or revolution, or
war. In this case there is the advantage that the new colonists have
a community of race, language, and laws. But then again, they are less
obedient to the legislator; and often they are anxious to keep the very
laws and customs which caused their ruin at home. A mixed multitude,
on the other hand, is more tractable, although there is a difficulty
in making them pull together. There is nothing, however, which perfects
men's virtue more than legislation and colonization. And yet I have a
word to say which may seem to be depreciatory of legislators. 'What is

I was going to make the saddening reflection, that accidents of all
sorts are the true legislators,--wars and pestilences and famines and
the frequent recurrence of bad seasons. The observer will be inclined to
say that almost all human things are chance; and this is certainly true
about navigation and medicine, and the art of the general. But there is
another thing which may equally be said. 'What is it?' That God governs
all things, and that chance and opportunity co-operate with Him. And
according to yet a third view, art has part with them, for surely in a
storm it is well to have a pilot? And the same is true of legislation:
even if circumstances are favourable, a skilful lawgiver is still
necessary. 'Most true.' All artists would pray for certain conditions
under which to exercise their art: and would not the legislator do the
same? 'Certainly?' Come, legislator, let us say to him, and what are the
conditions which you would have? He will answer, Grant me a city which
is ruled by a tyrant; and let the tyrant be young, mindful, teachable,
courageous, magnanimous; and let him have the inseparable condition
of all virtue, which is temperance--not prudence, but that natural
temperance which is the gift of children and animals, and is hardly
reckoned among goods--with this he must be endowed, if the state is to
acquire the form most conducive to happiness in the speediest manner.
And I must add one other condition: the tyrant must be fortunate, and
his good fortune must consist in his having the co-operation of a great
legislator. When God has done all this, He has done the best which
He can for a state; not so well if He has given them two legislators
instead of one, and less and less well if He has given them a great
many. An orderly tyranny most easily passes into the perfect state;
in the second degree, a monarchy; in the third degree, a democracy; an
oligarchy is worst of all. 'I do not understand.' I suppose that you
have never seen a city which is subject to a tyranny? 'I have no desire
to see one.' You would have seen what I am describing, if you ever had.
The tyrant can speedily change the manners of a state, and affix
the stamp of praise or blame on any action which he pleases; for the
citizens readily follow the example which he sets. There is no quicker
way of making changes; but there is a counterbalancing difficulty. It is
hard to find the divine love of temperance and justice existing in any
powerful form of government, whether in a monarchy or an oligarchy. In
olden days there were chiefs like Nestor, who was the most eloquent and
temperate of mankind, but there is no one his equal now. If such an one
ever arises among us, blessed will he be, and blessed they who listen to
his words. For where power and wisdom and temperance meet in one, there
are the best laws and constitutions. I am endeavouring to show you how
easy under the conditions supposed, and how difficult under any other,
is the task of giving a city good laws. 'How do you mean?' Let us old
men attempt to mould in words a constitution for your new state, as
children make figures out of wax. 'Proceed. What constitution shall we
give--democracy, oligarchy, or aristocracy?' To which of these classes,
Megillus, do you refer your own state? 'The Spartan constitution seems
to me to contain all these elements. Our state is a democracy and also
an aristocracy; the power of the Ephors is tyrannical, and we have
an ancient monarchy.' 'Much the same,' adds Cleinias, 'may be said of
Cnosus.' The reason is that you have polities, but other states are
mere aggregations of men dwelling together, which are named after their
several ruling powers; whereas a state, if an 'ocracy' at all, should
be called a theocracy. A tale of old will explain my meaning. There is
a tradition of a golden age, in which all things were spontaneous and
abundant. Cronos, then lord of the world, knew that no mortal nature
could endure the temptations of power, and therefore he appointed demons
or demi-gods, who are of a superior race, to have dominion over man, as
man has dominion over the animals. They took care of us with great ease
and pleasure to themselves, and no less to us; and the tradition says
that only when God, and not man, is the ruler, can the human race cease
from ill. This was the manner of life which prevailed under Cronos, and
which we must strive to follow so far as the principle of immortality
still abides in us and we live according to law and the dictates of
right reason. But in an oligarchy or democracy, when the governing
principle is athirst for pleasure, the laws are trampled under foot, and
there is no possibility of salvation. Is it not often said that there
are as many forms of laws as there are governments, and that they
have no concern either with any one virtue or with all virtue, but are
relative to the will of the government? Which is as much as to say that
'might makes right.' 'What do you mean?' I mean that governments enact
their own laws, and that every government makes self-preservation its
principal aim. He who transgresses the laws is regarded as an evil-doer,
and punished accordingly. This was one of the unjust principles of
government which we mentioned when speaking of the different claims to
rule. We were agreed that parents should rule their children, the elder
the younger, the noble the ignoble. But there were also several other
principles, and among them Pindar's 'law of violence.' To whom then is
our state to be entrusted? For many a government is only a victorious
faction which has a monopoly of power, and refuses any share to the
conquered, lest when they get into office they should remember their
wrongs. Such governments are not polities, but parties; nor are any laws
good which are made in the interest of particular classes only, and not
of the whole. And in our state I mean to protest against making any
man a ruler because he is rich, or strong, or noble. But those who are
obedient to the laws, and who win the victory of obedience, shall be
promoted to the service of the Gods according to the degree of their
obedience. When I call the ruler the servant or minister of the law,
this is not a mere paradox, but I mean to say that upon a willingness to
obey the law the existence of the state depends. 'Truly, Stranger,
you have a keen vision.' Why, yes; every man when he is old has his
intellectual vision most keen. And now shall we call in our colonists
and make a speech to them? Friends, we say to them, God holds in His
hand the beginning, middle, and end of all things, and He moves in a
straight line towards the accomplishment of His will. Justice always
bears Him company, and punishes those who fall short of His laws. He who
would be happy follows humbly in her train; but he who is lifted up with
pride, or wealth, or honour, or beauty, is soon deserted by God, and,
being deserted, he lives in confusion and disorder. To many he seems a
great man; but in a short time he comes to utter destruction. Wherefore,
seeing these things, what ought we to do or think? 'Every man ought to
follow God.' What life, then, is pleasing to God? There is an old saying
that 'like agrees with like, measure with measure,' and God ought to
be our measure in all things. The temperate man is the friend of God
because he is like Him, and the intemperate man is not His friend,
because he is not like Him. And the conclusion is, that the best of all
things for a good man is to pray and sacrifice to the Gods; but the bad
man has a polluted soul; and therefore his service is wasted upon the
Gods, while the good are accepted of them. I have told you the mark at
which we ought to aim. You will say, How, and with what weapons? In the
first place we affirm, that after the Olympian Gods and the Gods of the
state, honour should be given to the Gods below, and to them should
be offered everything in even numbers and of the second choice; the
auspicious odd numbers and everything of the first choice are reserved
for the Gods above. Next demi-gods or spirits must be honoured, and
then heroes, and after them family gods, who will be worshipped at their
local seats according to law. Further, the honour due to parents should
not be forgotten; children owe all that they have to them, and the debt
must be repaid by kindness and attention in old age. No unbecoming word
must be uttered before them; for there is an avenging angel who hears
them when they are angry, and the child should consider that the parent
when he has been wronged has a right to be angry. After their death
let them have a moderate funeral, such as their fathers have had before
them; and there shall be an annual commemoration of them. Living on this
wise, we shall be accepted of the Gods, and shall pass our days in good
hope. The law will determine all our various duties towards relatives
and friends and other citizens, and the whole state will be happy and
prosperous. But if the legislator would persuade as well as command,
he will add prefaces to his laws which will predispose the citizens to
virtue. Even a little accomplished in the way of gaining the hearts of
men is of great value. For most men are in no particular haste to become
good. As Hesiod says:

'Long and steep is the first half of the way to virtue, But when you
have reached the top the rest is easy.'

'Those are excellent words.' Yes; but may I tell you the effect which
the preceding discourse has had upon me? I will express my meaning in
an address to the lawgiver:--O lawgiver, if you know what we ought to do
and say, you can surely tell us;--you are not like the poet, who, as you
were just now saying, does not know the effect of his own words. And the
poet may reply, that when he sits down on the tripod of the Muses he is
not in his right mind, and that being a mere imitator he may be allowed
to say all sorts of opposite things, and cannot tell which of them is
true. But this licence cannot be allowed to the lawgiver. For example,
there are three kinds of funerals; one of them is excessive, another
mean, a third moderate, and you say that the last is right. Now if I
had a rich wife, and she told me to bury her, and I were to sing of her
burial, I should praise the extravagant kind; a poor man would commend
a funeral of the meaner sort, and a man of moderate means would prefer a
moderate funeral. But you, as legislator, would have to say exactly what
you meant by 'moderate.' 'Very true.' And is our lawgiver to have no
preamble or interpretation of his laws, never offering a word of advice
to his subjects, after the manner of some doctors? For of doctors are
there not two kinds? The one gentle and the other rough, doctors who are
freemen and learn themselves and teach their pupils scientifically, and
doctor's assistants who get their knowledge empirically by attending on
their masters? 'Of course there are.' And did you ever observe that the
gentlemen doctors practise upon freemen, and that slave doctors confine
themselves to slaves? The latter go about the country or wait for the
slaves at the dispensaries. They hold no parley with their patients
about their diseases or the remedies of them; they practise by the rule
of thumb, and give their decrees in the most arbitrary manner. When they
have doctored one patient they run off to another, whom they treat with
equal assurance, their duty being to relieve the master of the care
of his sick slaves. But the other doctor, who practises on freemen,
proceeds in quite a different way. He takes counsel with his patient and
learns from him, and never does anything until he has persuaded him of
what he is doing. He trusts to influence rather than force. Now is not
the use of both methods far better than the use of either alone? And
both together may be advantageously employed by us in legislation.

We may illustrate our proposal by an example. The laws relating to
marriage naturally come first, and therefore we may begin with them. The
simple law would be as follows:--A man shall marry between the ages of
thirty and thirty-five; if he do not, he shall be fined or deprived of
certain privileges. The double law would add the reason why: Forasmuch
as man desires immortality, which he attains by the procreation of
children, no one should deprive himself of his share in this good. He
who obeys the law is blameless, but he who disobeys must not be a gainer
by his celibacy; and therefore he shall pay a yearly fine, and shall not
be allowed to receive honour from the young. That is an example of what
I call the double law, which may enable us to judge how far the addition
of persuasion to threats is desirable. 'Lacedaemonians in general,
Stranger, are in favour of brevity; in this case, however, I prefer
length. But Cleinias is the real lawgiver, and he ought to be first
consulted.' 'Thank you, Megillus.' Whether words are to be many or few,
is a foolish question:--the best and not the shortest forms are always
to be approved. And legislators have never thought of the advantages
which they might gain by using persuasion as well as force, but trust to
force only. And I have something else to say about the matter. Here have
we been from early dawn until noon, discoursing about laws, and all that
we have been saying is only the preamble of the laws which we are about
to give. I tell you this, because I want you to observe that songs and
strains have all of them preludes, but that laws, though called by the
same name (nomoi), have never any prelude. Now I am disposed to give
preludes to laws, dividing them into two parts--one containing the
despotic command, which I described under the image of the slave
doctor--the other the persuasive part, which I term the preamble. The
legislator should give preludes or preambles to his laws. 'That shall
be the way in my colony.' I am glad that you agree with me; this is
a matter which it is important to remember. A preamble is not always
necessary to a law: the lawgiver must determine when it is needed, as
the musician determines when there is to be a prelude to a song. 'Most
true: and now, having a preamble, let us recommence our discourse.'
Enough has been said of Gods and parents, and we may proceed to consider
what relates to the citizens--their souls, bodies, properties,--their
occupations and amusements; and so arrive at the nature of education.

The first word of the Laws somewhat abruptly introduces the thought
which is present to the mind of Plato throughout the work, namely, that
Law is of divine origin. In the words of a great English writer--'Her
seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world.' Though
the particular laws of Sparta and Crete had a narrow and imperfect aim,
this is not true of divine laws, which are based upon the principles of
human nature, and not framed to meet the exigencies of the moment. They
have their natural divisions, too, answering to the kinds of virtue;
very unlike the discordant enactments of an Athenian assembly or of an
English Parliament. Yet we may observe two inconsistencies in Plato's
treatment of the subject: first, a lesser, inasmuch as he does not
clearly distinguish the Cretan and Spartan laws, of which the exclusive
aim is war, from those other laws of Zeus and Apollo which are said to
be divine, and to comprehend all virtue. Secondly, we may retort on him
his own complaint against Sparta and Crete, that he has himself given us
a code of laws, which for the most part have a military character; and
that we cannot point to 'obvious examples of similar institutions which
are concerned with pleasure;' at least there is only one such, that
which relates to the regulation of convivial intercourse. The military
spirit which is condemned by him in the beginning of the Laws, reappears
in the seventh and eighth books.

The mention of Minos the great lawgiver, and of Rhadamanthus the
righteous administrator of the law, suggests the two divisions of the
laws into enactments and appointments of officers. The legislator and
the judge stand side by side, and their functions cannot be wholly
distinguished. For the judge is in some sort a legislator, at any
rate in small matters; and his decisions growing into precedents, must
determine the innumerable details which arise out of the conflict of
circumstances. These Plato proposes to leave to a younger generation
of legislators. The action of courts of law in making law seems to
have escaped him, probably because the Athenian law-courts were popular
assemblies; and, except in a mythical form, he can hardly be said to
have had before his eyes the ideal of a judge. In reading the Laws of
Plato, or any other ancient writing about Laws, we should consider
how gradual the process is by which not only a legal system, but the
administration of a court of law, becomes perfected.

There are other subjects on which Plato breaks ground, as his manner is,
early in the work. First, he gives a sketch of the subject of laws; they
are to comprehend the whole of human life, from infancy to age, and from
birth to death, although the proposed plan is far from being regularly
executed in the books which follow, partly owing to the necessity of
describing the constitution as well as the laws of his new colony.
Secondly, he touches on the power of music, which may exercise so
great an influence on the character of men for good or evil; he refers
especially to the great offence--which he mentions again, and which he
had condemned in the Republic--of varying the modes and rhythms, as
well as to that of separating the words from the music. Thirdly, he
reprobates the prevalence of unnatural loves in Sparta and Crete, which
he attributes to the practice of syssitia and gymnastic exercises, and
considers to be almost inseparable from them. To this subject he again
returns in the eighth book. Fourthly, the virtues are affirmed to be
inseparable from one another, even if not absolutely one; this, too, is
a principle which he reasserts at the conclusion of the work. As in
the beginnings of Plato's other writings, we have here several 'notes'
struck, which form the preludes of longer discussions, although the hint
is less ingeniously given, and the promise more imperfectly fulfilled
than in the earlier dialogues.

The distinction between ethics and politics has not yet dawned upon
Plato's mind. To him, law is still floating in a region between the two.
He would have desired that all the acts and laws of a state should
have regard to all virtue. But he did not see that politics and law are
subject to their own conditions, and are distinguished from ethics by
natural differences. The actions of which politics take cognisance are
necessarily collective or representative; and law is limited to external
acts which affect others as well as the agents. Ethics, on the other
hand, include the whole duty of man in relation both to himself and
others. But Plato has never reflected on these differences. He fancies
that the life of the state can be as easily fashioned as that of the
individual. He is favourable to a balance of power, but never seems
to have considered that power might be so balanced as to produce an
absolute immobility in the state. Nor is he alive to the evils
of confounding vice and crime; or to the necessity of governments
abstaining from excessive interference with their subjects.

Yet this confusion of ethics and politics has also a better and a truer
side. If unable to grasp some important distinctions, Plato is at any
rate seeking to elevate the lower to the higher; he does not pull down
the principles of men to their practice, or narrow the conception of
the state to the immediate necessities of politics. Political ideals of
freedom and equality, of a divine government which has been or will be
in some other age or country, have greatly tended to educate and ennoble
the human race. And if not the first author of such ideals (for they are
as old as Hesiod), Plato has done more than any other writer to impress
them on the world. To those who censure his idealism we may reply in his
own words--'He is not the worse painter who draws a perfectly beautiful
figure, because no such figure of a man could ever have existed'

A new thought about education suddenly occurs to him, and for a time
exercises a sort of fascination over his mind, though in the later books
of the Laws it is forgotten or overlooked. As true courage is allied to
temperance, so there must be an education which shall train mankind to
resist pleasure as well as to endure pain. No one can be on his guard
against that of which he has no experience. The perfectly trained
citizen should have been accustomed to look his enemy in the face, and
to measure his strength against her. This education in pleasure is to be
given, partly by festive intercourse, but chiefly by the song and dance.
Youth are to learn music and gymnastics; their elders are to be trained
and tested at drinking parties. According to the old proverb, in vino
veritas, they will then be open and visible to the world in their true
characters; and also they will be more amenable to the laws, and more
easily moulded by the hand of the legislator. The first reason is
curious enough, though not important; the second can hardly be thought
deserving of much attention. Yet if Plato means to say that society
is one of the principal instruments of education in after-life, he has
expressed in an obscure fashion a principle which is true, and to
his contemporaries was also new. That at a banquet a degree of moral
discipline might be exercised is an original thought, but Plato has not
yet learnt to express his meaning in an abstract form. He is sensible
that moderation is better than total abstinence, and that asceticism is
but a one-sided training. He makes the sagacious remark, that 'those who
are able to resist pleasure may often be among the worst of mankind.' He
is as much aware as any modern utilitarian that the love of pleasure is
the great motive of human action. This cannot be eradicated, and must
therefore be regulated,--the pleasure must be of the right sort.
Such reflections seem to be the real, though imperfectly expressed,
groundwork of the discussion. As in the juxtaposition of the Bacchic
madness and the great gift of Dionysus, or where he speaks of the
different senses in which pleasure is and is not the object of imitative
art, or in the illustration of the failure of the Dorian institutions
from the prayer of Theseus, we have to gather his meaning as well as we
can from the connexion.

The feeling of old age is discernible in this as well as in several
other passages of the Laws. Plato has arrived at the time when men sit
still and look on at life; and he is willing to allow himself and others
the few pleasures which remain to them. Wine is to cheer them now that
their limbs are old and their blood runs cold. They are the best critics
of dancing and music, but cannot be induced to join in song unless they
have been enlivened by drinking. Youth has no need of the stimulus
of wine, but age can only be made young again by its invigorating
influence. Total abstinence for the young, moderate and increasing
potations for the old, is Plato's principle. The fire, of which there is
too much in the one, has to be brought to the other. Drunkenness, like
madness, had a sacredness and mystery to the Greek; if, on the one hand,
as in the case of the Tarentines, it degraded a whole population, it was
also a mode of worshipping the god Dionysus, which was to be practised
on certain occasions. Moreover, the intoxication produced by the fruit
of the vine was very different from the grosser forms of drunkenness
which prevail among some modern nations.

The physician in modern times would restrict the old man's use of wine
within narrow limits. He would tell us that you cannot restore strength
by a stimulus. Wine may call back the vital powers in disease, but
cannot reinvigorate old age. In his maxims of health and longevity,
though aware of the importance of a simple diet, Plato has omitted to
dwell on the perfect rule of moderation. His commendation of wine is
probably a passing fancy, and may have arisen out of his own habits
or tastes. If so, he is not the only philosopher whose theory has been
based upon his practice.

Plato's denial of wine to the young and his approval of it for
their elders has some points of view which may be illustrated by the
temperance controversy of our own times. Wine may be allowed to have a
religious as well as a festive use; it is commended both in the Old and
New Testament; it has been sung of by nearly all poets; and it may be
truly said to have a healing influence both on body and mind. Yet it is
also very liable to excess and abuse, and for this reason is prohibited
by Mahometans, as well as of late years by many Christians, no less than
by the ancient Spartans; and to sound its praises seriously seems to
partake of the nature of a paradox. But we may rejoin with Plato that
the abuse of a good thing does not take away the use of it. Total
abstinence, as we often say, is not the best rule, but moderate
indulgence; and it is probably true that a temperate use of wine may
contribute some elements of character to social life which we can ill
afford to lose. It draws men out of their reserve; it helps them to
forget themselves and to appear as they by nature are when not on their
guard, and therefore to make them more human and greater friends to
their fellow-men. It gives them a new experience; it teaches them to
combine self-control with a measure of indulgence; it may sometimes
restore to them the simplicity of childhood. We entirely agree with
Plato in forbidding the use of wine to the young; but when we are
of mature age there are occasions on which we derive refreshment and
strength from moderate potations. It is well to make abstinence the
rule, but the rule may sometimes admit of an exception. We are in a
higher, as well as in a lower sense, the better for the use of wine.
The question runs up into wider ones--What is the general effect of
asceticism on human nature? and, Must there not be a certain proportion
between the aspirations of man and his powers?--questions which have
been often discussed both by ancient and modern philosophers. So
by comparing things old and new we may sometimes help to realize to
ourselves the meaning of Plato in the altered circumstances of our own

Like the importance which he attaches to festive entertainments, his
depreciation of courage to the fourth place in the scale of virtue
appears to be somewhat rhetorical and exaggerated. But he is speaking
of courage in the lower sense of the term, not as including loyalty or
temperance. He does not insist in this passage, as in the Protagoras,
on the unity of the virtues; or, as in the Laches, on the identity of
wisdom and courage. But he says that they all depend upon their leader
mind, and that, out of the union of wisdom and temperance with courage,
springs justice. Elsewhere he is disposed to regard temperance rather
as a condition of all virtue than as a particular virtue. He generalizes
temperance, as in the Republic he generalizes justice. The nature of the
virtues is to run up into one another, and in many passages Plato makes
but a faint effort to distinguish them. He still quotes the poets,
somewhat enlarging, as his manner is, or playing with their meaning. The
martial poet Tyrtaeus, and the oligarch Theognis, furnish him with
happy illustrations of the two sorts of courage. The fear of fear, the
division of goods into human and divine, the acknowledgment that peace
and reconciliation are better than the appeal to the sword, the analysis
of temperance into resistance of pleasure as well as endurance of pain,
the distinction between the education which is suitable for a trade or
profession, and for the whole of life, are important and probably new
ethical conceptions. Nor has Plato forgotten his old paradox (Gorgias)
that to be punished is better than to be unpunished, when he says, that
to the bad man death is the only mitigation of his evil. He is not less
ideal in many passages of the Laws than in the Gorgias or Republic. But
his wings are heavy, and he is unequal to any sustained flight.

There is more attempt at dramatic effect in the first book than in
the later parts of the work. The outburst of martial spirit in the
Lacedaemonian, 'O best of men'; the protest which the Cretan makes
against the supposed insult to his lawgiver; the cordial acknowledgment
on the part of both of them that laws should not be discussed publicly
by those who live under their rule; the difficulty which they alike
experience in following the speculations of the Athenian, are highly

In the second book, Plato pursues further his notion of educating by
a right use of pleasure. He begins by conceiving an endless power of
youthful life, which is to be reduced to rule and measure by harmony and
rhythm. Men differ from the lower animals in that they are capable of
musical discipline. But music, like all art, must be truly imitative,
and imitative of what is true and good. Art and morality agree in
rejecting pleasure as the criterion of good. True art is inseparable
from the highest and most ennobling ideas. Plato only recognizes the
identity of pleasure and good when the pleasure is of the higher kind.
He is the enemy of 'songs without words,' which he supposes to have some
confusing or enervating effect on the mind of the hearer; and he is also
opposed to the modern degeneracy of the drama, which he would probably
have illustrated, like Aristophanes, from Euripides and Agathon. From
this passage may be gathered a more perfect conception of art than
from any other of Plato's writings. He understands that art is at
once imitative and ideal, an exact representation of truth, and also a
representation of the highest truth. The same double view of art may be
gathered from a comparison of the third and tenth books of the Republic,
but is here more clearly and pointedly expressed.

We are inclined to suspect that both here and in the Republic Plato
exaggerates the influence really exercised by the song and the dance.
But we must remember also the susceptible nature of the Greek, and the
perfection to which these arts were carried by him. Further, the music
had a sacred and Pythagorean character; the dance too was part of a
religious festival. And only at such festivals the sexes mingled in
public, and the youths passed under the eyes of their elders.

At the beginning of the third book, Plato abruptly asks the question,
What is the origin of states? The answer is, Infinite time. We have
already seen--in the Theaetetus, where he supposes that in the course of
ages every man has had numberless progenitors, kings and slaves, Greeks
and barbarians; and in the Critias, where he says that nine thousand
years have elapsed since the island of Atlantis fought with Athens--that
Plato is no stranger to the conception of long periods of time. He
imagines human society to have been interrupted by natural convulsions;
and beginning from the last of these, he traces the steps by which the
family has grown into the state, and the original scattered society,
becoming more and more civilised, has finally passed into military
organizations like those of Crete and Sparta. His conception of the
origin of states is far truer in the Laws than in the Republic; but it
must be remembered that here he is giving an historical, there an ideal
picture of the growth of society.

Modern enquirers, like Plato, have found in infinite ages the
explanation not only of states, but of languages, men, animals, the
world itself; like him, also, they have detected in later institutions
the vestiges of a patriarchal state still surviving. Thus far Plato
speaks as 'the spectator of all time and all existence,' who may be
thought by some divine instinct to have guessed at truths which were
hereafter to be revealed. He is far above the vulgar notion that Hellas
is the civilized world (Statesman), or that civilization only began when
the Hellenes appeared on the scene. But he has no special knowledge
of 'the days before the flood'; and when he approaches more historical
times, in preparing the way for his own theory of mixed government,
he argues partially and erroneously. He is desirous of showing that
unlimited power is ruinous to any state, and hence he is led to
attribute a tyrannical spirit to the first Dorian kings. The decay of
Argos and the destruction of Messene are adduced by him as a manifest
proof of their failure; and Sparta, he thinks, was only preserved by the
limitations which the wisdom of successive legislators introduced into
the government. But there is no more reason to suppose that the Dorian
rule of life which was followed at Sparta ever prevailed in Argos and
Messene, than to assume that Dorian institutions were framed to protect
the Greeks against the power of Assyria; or that the empire of Assyria
was in any way affected by the Trojan war; or that the return of the
Heraclidae was only the return of Achaean exiles, who received a new
name from their leader Dorieus. Such fancies were chiefly based, as far
as they had any foundation, on the use of analogy, which played a great
part in the dawn of historical and geographical research. Because there
was a Persian empire which was the natural enemy of the Greek, there
must also have been an Assyrian empire, which had a similar hostility;
and not only the fable of the island of Atlantis, but the Trojan war,
in Plato's mind derived some features from the Persian struggle. So
Herodotus makes the Nile answer to the Ister, and the valley of the Nile
to the Red Sea. In the Republic, Plato is flying in the air regardless
of fact and possibility--in the Laws, he is making history by analogy.
In the former, he appears to be like some modern philosophers,
absolutely devoid of historical sense; in the latter, he is on a level,
not with Thucydides, or the critical historians of Greece, but with
Herodotus, or even with Ctesias.

The chief object of Plato in tracing the origin of society is to show
the point at which regular government superseded the patriarchical
authority, and the separate customs of different families were
systematized by legislators, and took the form of laws consented to
by them all. According to Plato, the only sound principle on which any
government could be based was a mixture or balance of power. The balance
of power saved Sparta, when the two other Heraclid states fell into
disorder. Here is probably the first trace of a political idea, which
has exercised a vast influence both in ancient and modern times. And
yet we might fairly ask, a little parodying the language of Plato--O
legislator, is unanimity only 'the struggle for existence'; or is the
balance of powers in a state better than the harmony of them?

In the fourth book we approach the realities of politics, and Plato
begins to ascend to the height of his great argument. The reign of
Cronos has passed away, and various forms of government have succeeded,
which are all based on self-interest and self-preservation. Right and
wrong, instead of being measured by the will of God, are created by
the law of the state. The strongest assertions are made of the purely
spiritual nature of religion--'Without holiness no man is accepted of
God'; and of the duty of filial obedience,--'Honour thy parents.' The
legislator must teach these precepts as well as command them. He is to
be the educator as well as the lawgiver of future ages, and his laws
are themselves to form a part of the education of the state. Unlike the
poet, he must be definite and rational; he cannot be allowed to say one
thing at one time, and another thing at another--he must know what he
is about. And yet legislation has a poetical or rhetorical element, and
must find words which will wing their way to the hearts of men. Laws
must be promulgated before they are put in execution, and mankind must
be reasoned with before they are punished. The legislator, when he
promulgates a particular law, will courteously entreat those who are
willing to hear his voice. Upon the rebellious only does the heavy blow
descend. A sermon and a law in one, blending the secular punishment with
the religious sanction, appeared to Plato a new idea which might have a
great result in reforming the world. The experiment had never been
tried of reasoning with mankind; the laws of others had never had any
preambles, and Plato seems to have great pleasure in contemplating his

In these quaint forms of thought and language, great principles of
morals and legislation are enunciated by him for the first time. They
all go back to mind and God, who holds the beginning, middle, and end of
all things in His hand. The adjustment of the divine and human elements
in the world is conceived in the spirit of modern popular philosophy,
differing not much in the mode of expression. At first sight the
legislator appears to be impotent, for all things are the sport of
chance. But we admit also that God governs all things, and that chance
and opportunity co-operate with Him (compare the saying, that chance is
the name of the unknown cause). Lastly, while we acknowledge that God
and chance govern mankind and provide the conditions of human action,
experience will not allow us to deny a place to art. We know that there
is a use in having a pilot, though the storm may overwhelm him; and a
legislator is required to provide for the happiness of a state, although
he will pray for favourable conditions under which he may exercise his

BOOK V. Hear now, all ye who heard the laws about Gods and ancestors:
Of all human possessions the soul is most divine, and most truly a man's
own. For in every man there are two parts--a better which rules, and an
inferior which serves; and the ruler is to be preferred to the servant.
Wherefore I bid every one next after the Gods to honour his own soul,
and he can only honour her by making her better. A man does not honour
his soul by flattery, or gifts, or self-indulgence, or conceit of
knowledge, nor when he blames others for his own errors; nor when he
indulges in pleasure or refuses to bear pain; nor when he thinks that
life at any price is a good, because he fears the world below, which,
far from being an evil, may be the greatest good; nor when he prefers
beauty to virtue--not reflecting that the soul, which came from heaven,
is more honourable than the body, which is earth-born; nor when
he covets dishonest gains, of which no amount is equal in value to
virtue;--in a word, when he counts that which the legislator pronounces
evil to be good, he degrades his soul, which is the divinest part of
him. He does not consider that the real punishment of evil-doing is to
grow like evil men, and to shun the conversation of the good: and that
he who is joined to such men must do and suffer what they by nature do
and say to one another, which suffering is not justice but retribution.
For justice is noble, but retribution is only the companion of
injustice. And whether a man escapes punishment or not, he is equally
miserable; for in the one case he is not cured, and in the other case he
perishes that the rest may be saved.

The glory of man is to follow the better and improve the inferior. And
the soul is that part of man which is most inclined to avoid the evil
and dwell with the good. Wherefore also the soul is second only to the
Gods in honour, and in the third place the body is to be esteemed, which
often has a false honour. For honour is not to be given to the fair or
the strong, or the swift or the tall, or to the healthy, any more than
to their opposites, but to the mean states of all these habits; and so
of property and external goods. No man should heap up riches that he may
leave them to his children. The best condition for them as for the state
is a middle one, in which there is a freedom without luxury. And the
best inheritance of children is modesty. But modesty cannot be implanted
by admonition only--the elders must set the example. He who would train
the young must first train himself.

He who honours his kindred and family may fairly expect that the Gods
will give him children. He who would have friends must think much of
their favours to him, and little of his to them. He who prefers to an
Olympic, or any other victory, to win the palm of obedience to the laws,
serves best both the state and his fellow-citizens. Engagements with
strangers are to be deemed most sacred, because the stranger, having
neither kindred nor friends, is immediately under the protection of
Zeus, the God of strangers. A prudent man will not sin against the
stranger; and still more carefully will he avoid sinning against the
suppliant, which is an offence never passed over by the Gods.

I will now speak of those particulars which are matters of praise and
blame only, and which, although not enforced by the law, greatly affect
the disposition to obey the law. Truth has the first place among the
gifts of Gods and men, for truth begets trust; but he is not to be
trusted who loves voluntary falsehood, and he who loves involuntary
falsehood is a fool. Neither the ignorant nor the untrustworthy man
is happy; for they have no friends in life, and die unlamented and
untended. Good is he who does no injustice--better who prevents others
from doing any--best of all who joins the rulers in punishing injustice.
And this is true of goods and virtues in general; he who has and
communicates them to others is the man of men; he who would, if he
could, is second-best; he who has them and is jealous of imparting them
to others is to be blamed, but the good or virtue which he has is to be
valued still. Let every man contend in the race without envy; for the
unenvious man increases the strength of the city; himself foremost in
the race, he harms no one with calumny. Whereas the envious man is
weak himself, and drives his rivals to despair with his slanders, thus
depriving the whole city of incentives to the exercise of virtue, and
tarnishing her glory. Every man should be gentle, but also passionate;
for he must have the spirit to fight against incurable and malignant
evil. But the evil which is remediable should be dealt with more in
sorrow than anger. He who is unjust is to be pitied in any case; for
no man voluntarily does evil or allows evil to exist in his soul. And
therefore he who deals with the curable sort must be long-suffering and
forbearing; but the incurable shall have the vials of our wrath poured
out upon him. The greatest of all evils is self-love, which is thought
to be natural and excusable, and is enforced as a duty, and yet is
the cause of many errors. The lover is blinded about the beloved, and
prefers his own interests to truth and right; but the truly great
man seeks justice before all things. Self-love is the source of
that ignorant conceit of knowledge which is always doing and never
succeeding. Wherefore let every man avoid self-love, and follow the
guidance of those who are better than himself. There are lesser matters
which a man should recall to mind; for wisdom is like a stream, ever
flowing in and out, and recollection flows in when knowledge is failing.
Let no man either laugh or grieve overmuch; but let him control his
feelings in the day of good- or ill-fortune, believing that the Gods
will diminish the evils and increase the blessings of the righteous.
These are thoughts which should ever occupy a good man's mind; he should
remember them both in lighter and in more serious hours, and remind
others of them.

So much of divine matters and the relation of man to God. But man is
man, and dependent on pleasure and pain; and therefore to acquire a true
taste respecting either is a great matter. And what is a true taste?
This can only be explained by a comparison of one life with another.
Pleasure is an object of desire, pain of avoidance; and the absence of
pain is to be preferred to pain, but not to pleasure. There are infinite
kinds and degrees of both of them, and we choose the life which has more
pleasure and avoid that which has less; but we do not choose that life
in which the elements of pleasure are either feeble or equally balanced
with pain. All the lives which we desire are pleasant; the choice of any
others is due to inexperience.

Now there are four lives--the temperate, the rational, the courageous,
the healthful; and to these let us oppose four others--the intemperate,
the foolish, the cowardly, the diseased. The temperate life has gentle
pains and pleasures and placid desires, the intemperate life has violent
delights, and still more violent desires. And the pleasures of the
temperate exceed the pains, while the pains of the intemperate exceed
the pleasures. But if this is true, none are voluntarily intemperate,
but all who lack temperance are either ignorant or wanting in
self-control: for men always choose the life which (as they think)
exceeds in pleasure. The wise, the healthful, the courageous life have
a similar advantage--they also exceed their opposites in pleasure.
And, generally speaking, the life of virtue is far more pleasurable and
honourable, fairer and happier far, than the life of vice. Let this be
the preamble of our laws; the strain will follow.

As in a web the warp is stronger than the woof, so should the rulers be
stronger than their half-educated subjects. Let us suppose, then, that
in the constitution of a state there are two parts, the appointment
of the rulers, and the laws which they have to administer. But, before
going further, there are some preliminary matters which have to be

As of animals, so also of men, a selection must be made; the bad breed
must be got rid of, and the good retained. The legislator must purify
them, and if he be not a despot he will find this task to be a difficult
one. The severer kinds of purification are practised when great
offenders are punished by death or exile, but there is a milder process
which is necessary when the poor show a disposition to attack the
property of the rich, for then the legislator will send them off to
another land, under the name of a colony. In our case, however, we
shall only need to purify the streams before they meet. This is often
a troublesome business, but in theory we may suppose the operation
performed, and the desired purity attained. Evil men we will hinder from
coming, and receive the good as friends.

Like the old Heraclid colony, we are fortunate in escaping the abolition
of debts and the distribution of land, which are difficult and dangerous
questions. But, perhaps, now that we are speaking of the subject, we
ought to say how, if the danger existed, the legislator should try to
avert it. He would have recourse to prayers, and trust to the healing
influence of time. He would create a kindly spirit between creditors and
debtors: those who have should give to those who have not, and poverty
should be held to be rather the increase of a man's desires than the
diminution of his property. Good-will is the only safe and enduring
foundation of the political society; and upon this our city shall
be built. The lawgiver, if he is wise, will not proceed with the
arrangement of the state until all disputes about property are settled.
And for him to introduce fresh grounds of quarrel would be madness.

Let us now proceed to the distribution of our state, and determine the
size of the territory and the number of the allotments. The territory
should be sufficient to maintain the citizens in moderation, and the
population should be numerous enough to defend themselves, and sometimes
to aid their neighbours. We will fix the number of citizens at 5040, to
which the number of houses and portions of land shall correspond. Let
the number be divided into two parts and then into three; for it is
very convenient for the purposes of distribution, and is capable of
fifty-nine divisions, ten of which proceed without interval from one to
ten. Here are numbers enough for war and peace, and for all contracts
and dealings. These properties of numbers are true, and should be
ascertained with a view to use.

In carrying out the distribution of the land, a prudent legislator will
be careful to respect any provision for religious worship which has been
sanctioned by ancient tradition or by the oracles of Delphi, Dodona, or
Ammon. All sacrifices, and altars, and temples, whatever may be their
origin, should remain as they are. Every division should have a patron
God or hero; to these a portion of the domain should be appropriated,
and at their temples the inhabitants of the districts should meet
together from time to time, for the sake of mutual help and friendship.
All the citizens of a state should be known to one another; for where
men are in the dark about each other's characters, there can be
no justice or right administration. Every man should be true and
single-minded, and should not allow himself to be deceived by others.

And now the game opens, and we begin to move the pieces. At first sight,
our constitution may appear singular and ill-adapted to a legislator who
has not despotic power; but on second thoughts will be deemed to be,
if not the very best, the second best. For there are three forms of
government, a first, a second, and a third best, out of which Cleinias
has now to choose. The first and highest form is that in which friends
have all things in common, including wives and property,--in which they
have common fears, hopes, desires, and do not even call their eyes or
their hands their own. This is the ideal state; than which there never
can be a truer or better--a state, whether inhabited by Gods or sons of
Gods, which will make the dwellers therein blessed. Here is the pattern
on which we must ever fix our eyes; but we are now concerned with
another, which comes next to it, and we will afterwards proceed to a

Inasmuch as our citizens are not fitted either by nature or education to
receive the saying, Friends have all things in common, let them retain
their houses and private property, but use them in the service of their
country, who is their God and parent, and of the Gods and demigods of
the land. Their first care should be to preserve the number of their
lots. This may be secured in the following manner: when the possessor of
a lot dies, he shall leave his lot to his best-beloved child, who will
become the heir of all duties and interests, and will minister to the
Gods and to the family, to the living and to the dead. Of the remaining
children, the females must be given in marriage according to the law to
be hereafter enacted; the males may be assigned to citizens who have no
children of their own. How to equalize families and allotments will be
one of the chief cares of the guardians of the laws. When parents have
too many children they may give to those who have none, or couples
may abstain from having children, or, if there is a want of offspring,
special care may be taken to obtain them; or if the number of citizens
becomes excessive, we may send away the surplus to found a colony. If,
on the other hand, a war or plague diminishes the number of inhabitants,
new citizens must be introduced; and these ought not, if possible, to be
men of low birth or inferior training; but even God, it is said, cannot
always fight against necessity.

Wherefore we will thus address our citizens:--Good friends, honour
order and equality, and above all the number 5040. Secondly, respect the
original division of the lots, which must not be infringed by buying and
selling, for the law says that the land which a man has is sacred and
is given to him by God. And priests and priestesses will offer frequent
sacrifices and pray that he who alienates either house or lot may
receive the punishment which he deserves, and their prayers shall be
inscribed on tablets of cypress-wood for the instruction of posterity.
The guardians will keep a vigilant watch over the citizens, and they
will punish those who disobey God and the law.

To appreciate the benefit of such an institution a man requires to be
well educated; for he certainly will not make a fortune in our state, in
which all illiberal occupations are forbidden to freemen. The law also
provides that no private person shall have gold or silver, except
a little coin for daily use, which will not pass current in other
countries. The state must also possess a common Hellenic currency, but
this is only to be used in defraying the expenses of expeditions, or of
embassies, or while a man is on foreign travels; but in the latter case
he must deliver up what is over, when he comes back, to the treasury in
return for an equal amount of local currency, on pain of losing the sum
in question; and he who does not inform against an offender is to be
mulcted in a like sum. No money is to be given or taken as a dowry, or
to be lent on interest. The law will not protect a man in recovering
either interest or principal. All these regulations imply that the
aim of the legislator is not to make the city as rich or as mighty as
possible, but the best and happiest. Now men can hardly be at the same
time very virtuous and very rich. And why? Because he who makes twice as
much and saves twice as much as he ought, receiving where he ought not
and not spending where he ought, will be at least twice as rich as he
who makes money where he ought, and spends where he ought. On the other
hand, an utterly bad man is generally profligate and poor, while he who
acquires honestly, and spends what he acquires on noble objects, can
hardly be very rich. A very rich man is therefore not a good man, and
therefore not a happy one. But the object of our laws is to make the
citizens as friendly and happy as possible, which they cannot be if they
are always at law and injuring each other in the pursuit of gain. And
therefore we say that there is to be no silver or gold in the state,
nor usury, nor the rearing of the meaner kinds of live-stock, but only
agriculture, and only so much of this as will not lead men to neglect
that for the sake of which money is made, first the soul and afterwards
the body; neither of which are good for much without music and
gymnastic. Money is to be held in honour last or third; the highest
interests being those of the soul, and in the second class are to be
ranked those of the body. This is the true order of legislation, which
would be inverted by placing health before temperance, and wealth before

It might be well if every man could come to the colony having equal
property; but equality is impossible, and therefore we must avoid causes
of offence by having property valued and by equalizing taxation. To
this end, let us make four classes in which the citizens may be placed
according to the measure of their original property, and the changes of
their fortune. The greatest of evils is revolution; and this, as the
law will say, is caused by extremes of poverty or wealth. The limit
of poverty shall be the lot, which must not be diminished, and may be
increased fivefold, but not more. He who exceeds the limit must give up
the excess to the state; but if he does not, and is informed against,
the surplus shall be divided between the informer and the Gods, and
he shall pay a sum equal to the surplus out Of his own property. All
property other than the lot must be inscribed in a register, so that any
disputes which arise may be easily determined.

The city shall be placed in a suitable situation, as nearly as possible
in the centre of the country, and shall be divided into twelve wards.
First, we will erect an acropolis, encircled by a wall, within which
shall be placed the temples of Hestia, and Zeus, and Athene. From this
shall be drawn lines dividing the city, and also the country, into
twelve sections, and the country shall be subdivided into 5040 lots.
Each lot shall contain two parts, one at a distance, the other near the
city; and the distance of one part shall be compensated by the nearness
of the other, the badness and goodness by the greater or less size.
Twelve lots will be assigned to twelve Gods, and they will give their
names to the tribes. The divisions of the city shall correspond to those
of the country; and every man shall have two habitations, one near the
centre of the country, the other at the extremity.

The objection will naturally arise, that all the advantages of which we
have been speaking will never concur. The citizens will not tolerate a
settlement in which they are deprived of gold and silver, and have the
number of their families regulated, and the sites of their houses fixed
by law. It will be said that our city is a mere image of wax. And the
legislator will answer: 'I know it, but I maintain that we ought to set
forth an ideal which is as perfect as possible. If difficulties arise
in the execution of the plan, we must avoid them and carry out the
remainder. But the legislator must first be allowed to complete his idea
without interruption.'

The number twelve, which we have chosen for the number of division,
must run through all parts of the state,--phratries, villages, ranks
of soldiers, coins, and measures wet and dry, which are all to be made
commensurable with one another. There is no meanness in requiring that
the smallest vessels should have a common measure; for the divisions of
number are useful in measuring height and depth, as well as sounds and
motions, upwards or downwards, or round and round. The legislator
should impress on his citizens the value of arithmetic. No instrument of
education has so much power; nothing more tends to sharpen and inspire
the dull intellect. But the legislator must be careful to instil a
noble and generous spirit into the students, or they will tend to become
cunning rather than wise. This may be proved by the example of the
Egyptians and Phoenicians, who, notwithstanding their knowledge of
arithmetic, are degraded in their general character; whether this defect
in them is due to some natural cause or to a bad legislator. For it
is clear that there are great differences in the power of regions to
produce good men: heat and cold, and water and food, have great effects
both on body and soul; and those spots are peculiarly fortunate in which
the air is holy, and the Gods are pleased to dwell. To all this the
legislator must attend, so far as in him lies.

BOOK VI. And now we are about to consider (1) the appointment of
magistrates; (2) the laws which they will have to administer must
be determined. I may observe by the way that laws, however good,
are useless and even injurious unless the magistrates are capable of
executing them. And therefore (1) the intended rulers of our imaginary
state should be tested from their youth upwards until the time of their
election; and (2) those who are to elect them ought to be trained in
habits of law, that they may form a right judgment of good and bad men.
But uneducated colonists, who are unacquainted with each other, will not
be likely to choose well. What, then, shall we do? I will tell you: The
colony will have to be intrusted to the ten commissioners, of whom you
are one, and I will help you and them, which is my reason for inventing
this romance. And I cannot bear that the tale should go wandering about
the world without a head,--it will be such an ugly monster. 'Very good.'
Yes; and I will be as good as my word, if God be gracious and old age
permit. But let us not forget what a courageously mad creation this our
city is. 'What makes you say so?' Why, surely our courage is shown in
imagining that the new colonists will quietly receive our laws? For no
man likes to receive laws when they are first imposed: could we only
wait until those who had been educated under them were grown up, and
of an age to vote in the public elections, there would be far greater
reason to expect permanence in our institutions. 'Very true.' The
Cnosian founders should take the utmost pains in the matter of the
colony, and in the election of the higher officers, particularly of the
guardians of the law. The latter should be appointed in this way: The
Cnosians, who take the lead in the colony, together with the colonists,
will choose thirty-seven persons, of whom nineteen will be colonists,
and the remaining eighteen Cnosians--you must be one of the eighteen
yourself, and become a citizen of the new state. 'Why do not you and
Megillus join us?' Athens is proud, and Sparta too; and they are both
a long way off. But let me proceed with my scheme. When the state is
permanently established, the mode of election will be as follows: All
who are serving, or have served, in the army will be electors; and the
election will be held in the most sacred of the temples. The voter
will place on the altar a tablet, inscribing thereupon the name of the
candidate whom he prefers, and of his father, tribe, and ward, writing
at the side of them his own name in like manner; and he may take away
any tablet which does not appear written to his mind, and place it in
the Agora for thirty days. The 300 who obtain the greatest number of
votes will be publicly announced, and out of them there will be a
second election of 100; and out of the 100 a third and final election
of thirty-seven, accompanied by the solemnity of the electors passing
through victims. But then who is to arrange all this? There is a common
saying, that the beginning is half the whole; and I should say a good
deal more than half. 'Most true.' The only way of making a beginning is
from the parent city; and though in after ages the tie may be broken,
and quarrels may arise between them, yet in early days the child
naturally looks to the mother for care and education. And, as I said
before, the Cnosians ought to take an interest in the colony, and select
100 elders of their own citizens, to whom shall be added 100 of the
colonists, to arrange and supervise the first elections and scrutinies;
and when the colony has been started, the Cnosians may return home and
leave the colonists to themselves.

The thirty-seven magistrates who have been elected in the manner
described, shall have the following duties: first, they shall be
guardians of the law; secondly, of the registers of property in the
four classes--not including the one, two, three, four minae, which are
allowed as a surplus. He who is found to possess what is not entered in
the registers, in addition to the confiscation of such property shall be
proceeded against by law, and if he be cast he shall lose his share
in the public property and in distributions of money; and his sentence
shall be inscribed in some public place. The guardians are to continue
in office twenty years only, and to commence holding office at fifty
years, or if elected at sixty they are not to remain after seventy.

Generals have now to be elected, and commanders of horse and brigadiers
of foot. The generals shall be natives of the city, proposed by the
guardians of the law, and elected by those who are or have been of the
age for military service. Any one may challenge the person nominated
and start another candidate, whom he affirms upon oath to be better
qualified. The three who obtain the greatest number of votes shall
be elected. The generals thus elected shall propose the taxiarchs or
brigadiers, and the challenge may be made, and the voting shall take
place, in the same manner as before. The elective assembly will be
presided over in the first instance, and until the prytanes and council
come into being, by the guardians of the law in some holy place; and
they shall divide the citizens into three divisions,--hoplites, cavalry,
and the rest of the army--placing each of them by itself. All are to
vote for generals and cavalry officers. The brigadiers are to be voted
for only by the hoplites. Next, the cavalry are to choose phylarchs for
the generals; but captains of archers and other irregular troops are to
be appointed by the generals themselves. The cavalry-officers shall be
proposed and voted upon by the same persons who vote for the generals.
The two who have the greatest number of votes shall be leaders of all
the horse. Disputes about the voting may be raised once or twice, but,
if a third time, the presiding officers shall decide.

The council shall consist of 360, who may be conveniently divided into
four sections, making ninety councillors of each class. In the first
place, all the citizens shall select candidates from the first class;
and they shall be compelled to vote under pain of a fine. This shall
be the business of the first day. On the second day a similar selection
shall be made from the second class under the same conditions. On the
third day, candidates shall be selected from the third class; but the
compulsion to vote shall only extend to the voters of the first three
classes. On the fourth day, members of the council shall be selected
from the fourth class; they shall be selected by all, but the compulsion
to vote shall only extend to the second class, who, if they do not vote,
shall pay a fine of triple the amount which was exacted at first, and to
the first class, who shall pay a quadruple fine. On the fifth day, the
names shall be exhibited, and out of them shall be chosen by all the
citizens 180 of each class: these are severally to be reduced by lot to
ninety, and 90 x 4 will form the council for the year.

The mode of election which has been described is a mean between monarchy
and democracy, and such a mean should ever be observed in the state.
For servants and masters cannot be friends, and, although equality makes
friendship, we must remember that there are two sorts of equality. One
of them is the rule of number and measure; but there is also a higher
equality, which is the judgment of Zeus. Of this he grants but little to
mortal men; yet that little is the source of the greatest good to cities
and individuals. It is proportioned to the nature of each man; it gives
more to the better and less to the inferior, and is the true political
justice; to this we in our state desire to look, as every legislator
should, not to the interests either of tyrants or mobs. But justice
cannot always be strictly enforced, and then equity and mercy have to
be substituted: and for a similar reason, when true justice will not be
endured, we must have recourse to the rougher justice of the lot, which
God must be entreated to guide.

These are the principal means of preserving the state, but perpetual
care will also be required. When a ship is sailing on the sea, vigilance
must not be relaxed night or day; and the vessel of state is tossing in
a political sea, and therefore watch must continually succeed watch, and
rulers must join hands with rulers. A small body will best perform
this duty, and therefore the greater part of the 360 senators may be
permitted to go and manage their own affairs, but a twelfth portion must
be set aside in each month for the administration of the state. Their
business will be to receive information and answer embassies; also they
must endeavour to prevent or heal internal disorders; and with this
object they must have the control of all assemblies of the citizens.

Besides the council, there must be wardens of the city and of the agora,
who will superintend houses, ways, harbours, markets, and fountains, in
the city and the suburbs, and prevent any injury being done to them by
man or beast. The temples, also, will require priests and priestesses.
Those who hold the priestly office by hereditary tenure shall not be
disturbed; but as there will probably be few or none such in a new
colony, priests and priestesses shall be appointed for the Gods who have
no servants. Some of these officers shall be elected by vote, some by
lot; and all classes shall mingle in a friendly manner at the elections.
The appointment of priests should be left to God,--that is, to the lot;
but the person elected must prove that he is himself sound in body and
of legitimate birth, and that his family has been free from homicide or
any other stain of impurity. Priests and priestesses are to be not less
than sixty years of age, and shall hold office for a year only. The laws
which are to regulate matters of religion shall be brought from Delphi,
and interpreters appointed to superintend their execution. These shall
be elected in the following manner:--The twelve tribes shall be formed
into three bodies of four, each of which shall select four candidates,
and this shall be done three times: of each twelve thus selected the
three who receive the largest number of votes, nine in all, after
undergoing a scrutiny shall go to Delphi, in order that the God may
elect one out of each triad. They shall be appointed for life; and when
any of them dies, another shall be elected by the four tribes who made
the original appointment. There shall also be treasurers of the temples;
three for the greater temples, two for the lesser, and one for those of
least importance.

The defence of the city should be committed to the generals and other
officers of the army, and to the wardens of the city and agora. The
defence of the country shall be on this wise:--The twelve tribes shall
allot among themselves annually the twelve divisions of the country, and
each tribe shall appoint five wardens and commanders of the watch. The
five wardens in each division shall choose out of their own tribe twelve
guards, who are to be between twenty-five and thirty years of age. Both
the wardens and the guards are to serve two years; and they shall make a
round of the divisions, staying a month in each. They shall go from West
to East during the first year, and back from East to West during the
second. Thus they will gain a perfect knowledge of the country at every
season of the year.

While on service, their first duty will be to see that the country is
well protected by means of fortifications and entrenchments; they will
use the beasts of burden and the labourers whom they find on the
spot, taking care however not to interfere with the regular course of
agriculture. But while they thus render the country as inaccessible as
possible to enemies, they will also make it as accessible as possible to
friends by constructing and maintaining good roads. They will restrain
and preserve the rain which comes down from heaven, making the barren
places fertile, and the wet places dry. They will ornament the fountains
with plantations and buildings, and provide water for irrigation at
all seasons of the year. They will lead the streams to the temples and
groves of the Gods; and in such spots the youth shall make gymnasia for
themselves, and warm baths for the aged; there the rustic worn with toil
will receive a kindly welcome, and be far better treated than at the
hands of an unskilful doctor.

These works will be both useful and ornamental; but the sixty wardens
must not fail to give serious attention to other duties. For they must
watch over the districts assigned to them, and also act as judges. In
small matters the five commanders shall decide: in greater matters up to
three minae, the five commanders and the twelve guards. Like all other
judges, except those who have the final decision, they shall be liable
to give an account. If the wardens impose unjust tasks on the villagers,
or take by force their crops or implements, or yield to flattery or
bribes in deciding suits, let them be publicly dishonoured. In regard to
any other wrong-doing, if the question be of a mina, let the neighbours
decide; but if the accused person will not submit, trusting that his
monthly removals will enable him to escape payment, and also in suits
about a larger amount, the injured party may have recourse to the common
court; in the former case, if successful, he may exact a double penalty.

The wardens and guards, while on their two years' service, shall live
and eat together, and the guard who is absent from the daily meals
without permission or sleeps out at night, shall be regarded as a
deserter, and may be punished by any one who meets him. If any of the
commanders is guilty of such an irregularity, the whole sixty shall
have him punished; and he of them who screens him shall suffer a still
heavier penalty than the offender himself. Now by service a man learns
to rule; and he should pride himself upon serving well the laws and the
Gods all his life, and upon having served ancient and honourable men in
his youth. The twelve and the five should be their own servants, and use
the labour of the villagers only for the good of the public. Let them
search the country through, and acquire a perfect knowledge of every
locality; with this view, hunting and field sports should be encouraged.

Next we have to speak of the elections of the wardens of the agora and
of the city. The wardens of the city shall be three in number, and they
shall have the care of the streets, roads, buildings, and also of the
water-supply. They shall be chosen out of the highest class, and when
the number of candidates has been reduced to six who have the greatest
number of votes, three out of the six shall be taken by lot, and, after
a scrutiny, shall be admitted to their office. The wardens of the agora
shall be five in number--ten are to be first elected, and every one
shall vote for all the vacant places; the ten shall be afterwards
reduced to five by lot, as in the former election. The first and second
class shall be compelled to go to the assembly, but not the third and
fourth, unless they are specially summoned. The wardens of the agora
shall have the care of the temples and fountains which are in the agora,
and shall punish those who injure them by stripes and bonds, if they be
slaves or strangers; and by fines, if they be citizens. And the wardens
of the city shall have a similar power of inflicting punishment and
fines in their own department.

In the next place, there must be directors of music and gymnastic; one
class of them superintending gymnasia and schools, and the attendance
and lodging of the boys and girls--the other having to do with contests
of music and gymnastic. In musical contests there shall be one kind
of judges of solo singing or playing, who will judge of rhapsodists,
flute-players, harp-players and the like, and another of choruses. There
shall be choruses of men and boys and maidens--one director will be
enough to introduce them all, and he should not be less than forty years
of age; secondly, of solos also there shall be one director, aged not
less than thirty years; he will introduce the competitors and give
judgment upon them. The director of the choruses is to be elected in
an assembly at which all who take an interest in music are compelled
to attend, and no one else. Candidates must only be proposed for their
fitness, and opposed on the ground of unfitness. Ten are to be elected
by vote, and the one of these on whom the lot falls shall be director
for a year. Next shall be elected out of the second and third classes
the judges of gymnastic contests, who are to be three in number, and
are to be tested, after being chosen by lot out of twenty who have been
elected by the three highest classes--these being compelled to attend at
the election.

One minister remains, who will have the general superintendence of
education. He must be not less than fifty years old, and be himself the
father of children born in wedlock. His office must be regarded by all
as the highest in the state. For the right growth of the first shoot
in plants and animals is the chief cause of matured perfection. Man is
supposed to be a tame animal, but he becomes either the gentlest or
the fiercest of creatures, accordingly as he is well or ill educated.
Wherefore he who is elected to preside over education should be the best
man possible. He shall hold office for five years, and shall be elected
out of the guardians of the law, by the votes of the other magistrates
with the exception of the senate and prytanes; and the election shall be
held by ballot in the temple of Apollo.

When a magistrate dies before his term of office has expired, another
shall be elected in his place; and, if the guardian of an orphan dies,
the relations shall appoint another within ten days, or be fined a
drachma a day for neglect.

The city which has no courts of law will soon cease to be a city; and a
judge who sits in silence and leaves the enquiry to the litigants, as
in arbitrations, is not a good judge. A few judges are better than
many, but the few must be good. The matter in dispute should be clearly
elicited; time and examination will find out the truth. Causes should
first be tried before a court of neighbours: if the decision is
unsatisfactory, let them be referred to a higher court; or, if
necessary, to a higher still, of which the decision shall be final.

Every magistrate is a judge, and every judge is a magistrate, on the day
on which he is deciding the suit. This will therefore be an appropriate
place to speak of judges and their functions. The supreme tribunal
will be that on which the litigants agree; and let there be two other
tribunals, one for public and the other for private causes. The high
court of appeal shall be composed as follows:--All the officers of
state shall meet on the last day but one of the year in some temple, and
choose for a judge the best man out of every magistracy: and those who
are elected, after they have undergone a scrutiny, shall be judges of
appeal. They shall give their decisions openly, in the presence of the
magistrates who have elected them; and the public may attend. If anybody
charges one of them with having intentionally decided wrong, he shall
lay his accusation before the guardians of the law, and if the judge
be found guilty he shall pay damages to the extent of half the injury,
unless the guardians of the law deem that he deserves a severer
punishment, in which case the judges shall assess the penalty.

As the whole people are injured by offences against the state, they
should share in the trial of them. Such causes should originate with the
people and be decided by them: the enquiry shall take place before any
three of the highest magistrates upon whom the defendant and plaintiff
can agree. Also in private suits all should judge as far as possible,
and therefore there should be a court of law in every ward; for he who
has no share in the administration of justice, believes that he has no
share in the state. The judges in these courts shall be elected by lot
and give their decision at once. The final judgment in all cases shall
rest with the court of appeal. And so, having done with the appointment
of courts and the election of officers, we will now make our laws.

'Your way of proceeding, Stranger, is admirable.'

Then so far our old man's game of play has gone off well.

'Say, rather, our serious and noble pursuit.'

Perhaps; but let me ask you whether you have ever observed the manner in
which painters put in and rub out colour: yet their endless labour will
last but a short time, unless they leave behind them some successor who
will restore the picture and remove its defects. 'Certainly.' And have
we not a similar object at the present moment? We are old ourselves,
and therefore we must leave our work of legislation to be improved
and perfected by the next generation; not only making laws for our
guardians, but making them lawgivers. 'We must at least do our best.'
Let us address them as follows. Beloved saviours of the laws, we give
you an outline of legislation which you must fill up, according to a
rule which we will prescribe for you. Megillus and Cleinias and I are
agreed, and we hope that you will agree with us in thinking, that the
whole energies of a man should be devoted to the attainment of manly
virtue, whether this is to be gained by study, or habit, or desire, or
opinion. And rather than accept institutions which tend to degrade and
enslave him, he should fly his country and endure any hardship. These
are our principles, and we would ask you to judge of our laws, and
praise or blame them, accordingly as they are or are not capable of
improving our citizens.

And first of laws concerning religion. We have already said that the
number 5040 has many convenient divisions: and we took a twelfth part of
this (420), which is itself divisible by twelve, for the number of the
tribe. Every divisor is a gift of God, and corresponds to the months
of the year and to the revolution of the universe. All cities have a
number, but none is more fortunate than our own, which can be divided by
all numbers up to 12, with the exception of 11, and even by 11, if two
families are deducted. And now let us divide the state, assigning to
each division some God or demigod, who shall have altars raised to them,
and sacrifices offered twice a month; and assemblies shall be held
in their honour, twelve for the tribes, and twelve for the city,
corresponding to their divisions. The object of them will be first
to promote religion, secondly to encourage friendship and intercourse
between families; for families must be acquainted before they marry
into one another, or great mistakes will occur. At these festivals there
shall be innocent dances of young men and maidens, who may have the
opportunity of seeing one another in modest undress. To the details
of all this the masters of choruses and the guardians will attend,
embodying in laws the results of their experience; and, after ten years,
making the laws permanent, with the consent of the legislator, if he be
alive, or, if he be not alive, of the guardians of the law, who shall
perfect them and settle them once for all. At least, if any further
changes are required, the magistrates must take the whole people into
counsel, and obtain the sanction of all the oracles.

Whenever any one who is between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five
wants to marry, let him do so; but first let him hear the strain which
we will address to him:--

My son, you ought to marry, but not in order to gain wealth or to avoid
poverty; neither should you, as men are wont to do, choose a wife who
is like yourself in property and character. You ought to consult the
interests of the state rather than your own pleasure; for by equal
marriages a society becomes unequal. And yet to enact a law that the
rich and mighty shall not marry the rich and mighty, that the quick
shall be united to the slow, and the slow to the quick, will arouse
anger in some persons and laughter in others; for they do not understand
that opposite elements ought to be mingled in the state, as wine should
be mingled with water. The object at which we aim must therefore be
left to the influence of public opinion. And do not forget our former
precept, that every one should seek to attain immortality and raise up
a fair posterity to serve God.--Let this be the prelude of the law about
the duty of marriage. But if a man will not listen, and at thirty-five
years of age is still unmarried, he shall pay an annual fine: if he be
of the first class, 100 drachmas; if of the second, 70; if of the third,
60; and if of the fourth, 30. This fine shall be sacred to Here; and if
he refuse to pay, a tenfold penalty shall be exacted by the treasurer of
Here, who shall be responsible for the payment. Further, the unmarried
man shall receive no honour or obedience from the young, and he shall
not retain the right of punishing others. A man is neither to give
nor receive a dowry beyond a certain fixed sum; in our state, for his
consolation, if he be poor, let him know that he need neither receive
nor give one, for every citizen is provided with the necessaries of
life. Again, if the woman is not rich, her husband will not be her
humble servant. He who disobeys this law shall pay a fine according to
his class, which shall be exacted by the treasurers of Here and Zeus.

The betrothal of the parties shall be made by the next of kin, or
if there are none, by the guardians. The offerings and ceremonies of
marriage shall be determined by the interpreters of sacred rites. Let
the wedding party be moderate; five male and five female friends, and a
like number of kinsmen, will be enough. The expense should not exceed,
for the first class, a mina; and for the second, half a mina; and should
be in like proportion for the other classes. Extravagance is to be
regarded as vulgarity and ignorance of nuptial proprieties. Much wine is
only to be drunk at the festivals of Dionysus, and certainly not on the
occasion of a marriage. The bride and bridegroom, who are taking a great
step in life, ought to have all their wits about them; they should be
especially careful of the night on which God may give them increase, and
which this will be none can say. Their bodies and souls should be in the
most temperate condition; they should abstain from all that partakes of
the nature of disease or vice, which will otherwise become hereditary.
There is an original divinity in man which preserves all things, if used
with proper respect. He who marries should make one of the two houses
on the lot the nest and nursery of his young; he should leave his father
and mother, and then his affection for them will be only increased by
absence. He will go forth as to a colony, and will there rear up his
offspring, handing on the torch of life to another generation.

About property in general there is little difficulty, with the exception
of property in slaves, which is an institution of a very doubtful
character. The slavery of the Helots is approved by some and condemned
by others; and there is some doubt even about the slavery of the
Mariandynians at Heraclea and of the Thessalian Penestae. This makes us
ask, What shall we do about slaves? To which every one would agree in
replying,--Let us have the best and most attached whom we can get. All
of us have heard stories of slaves who have been better to their masters
than sons or brethren. Yet there is an opposite doctrine, that slaves
are never to be trusted; as Homer says, 'Slavery takes away half a man's
understanding.' And different persons treat them in different ways:
there are some who never trust them, and beat them like dogs, until
they make them many times more slavish than they were before; and others
pursue the opposite plan. Man is a troublesome animal, as has been often
shown, Megillus, notably in the revolts of the Messenians; and great
mischiefs have arisen in countries where there are large bodies of
slaves of one nationality. Two rules may be given for their management:
first that they should not, if possible, be of the same country or have
a common language; and secondly, that they should be treated by their
master with more justice even than equals, out of regard to himself
quite as much as to them. For he who is righteous in the treatment of
his slaves, or of any inferiors, will sow in them the seed of virtue.
Masters should never jest with their slaves: this, which is a common but
foolish practice, increases the difficulty and painfulness of managing

Next as to habitations. These ought to have been spoken of before; for
no man can marry a wife, and have slaves, who has not a house for them
to live in. Let us supply the omission. The temples should be placed
round the Agora, and the city built in a circle on the heights. Near the
temples, which are holy places and the habitations of the Gods, should
be buildings for the magistrates, and the courts of law, including those
in which capital offences are to be tried. As to walls, Megillus, I
agree with Sparta that they should sleep in the earth; 'cold steel
is the best wall,' as the poet finely says. Besides, how absurd to be
sending out our youth to fortify and guard the borders of our country,
and then to build a city wall, which is very unhealthy, and is apt to
make people fancy that they may run there and rest in idleness, not
knowing that true repose comes from labour, and that idleness is only
a renewal of trouble. If, however, there must be a wall, the private
houses had better be so arranged as to form one wall; this will have an
agreeable aspect, and the building will be safer and more defensible.
These objects should be attended to at the foundation of the city. The
wardens of the city must see that they are carried out; and they
must also enforce cleanliness, and preserve the public buildings from
encroachments. Moreover, they must take care to let the rain flow
off easily, and must regulate other matters concerning the general
administration of the city. If any further enactments prove to be
necessary, the guardians of the law must supply them.

And now, having provided buildings, and having married our citizens,
we will proceed to speak of their mode of life. In a well-constituted
state, individuals cannot be allowed to live as they please. Why do
I say this? Because I am going to enact that the bridegroom shall not
absent himself from the common meals. They were instituted originally
on the occasion of some war, and, though deemed singular when first
founded, they have tended greatly to the security of states. There was a
difficulty in introducing them, but there is no difficulty in them now.
There is, however, another institution about which I would speak, if I
dared. I may preface my proposal by remarking that disorder in a state
is the source of all evil, and order of all good. Now in Sparta and
Crete there are common meals for men, and this, as I was saying, is a
divine and natural institution. But the women are left to themselves;
they live in dark places, and, being weaker, and therefore wickeder,
than men, they are at the bottom of a good deal more than half the evil
of states. This must be corrected, and the institution of common
meals extended to both sexes. But, in the present unfortunate state
of opinion, who would dare to establish them? And still more, who can
compel women to eat and drink in public? They will defy the legislator
to drag them out of their holes. And in any other state such a proposal
would be drowned in clamour, but in our own I think that I can show the
attempt to be just and reasonable. 'There is nothing which we should
like to hear better.' Listen, then; having plenty of time, we will
go back to the beginning of things, which is an old subject with us.
'Right.' Either the race of mankind never had a beginning and will never
have an end, or the time which has elapsed since man first came into
being is all but infinite. 'No doubt.' And in this infinity of time
there have been changes of every kind, both in the order of the seasons
and in the government of states and in the customs of eating and
drinking. Vines and olives were at length discovered, and the blessings
of Demeter and Persephone, of which one Triptolemus is said to have been
the minister; before his time the animals had been eating one another.
And there are nations in which mankind still sacrifice their fellow-men,
and other nations in which they lead a kind of Orphic existence, and
will not sacrifice animals, or so much as taste of a cow--they offer
fruits or cakes moistened with honey. Perhaps you will ask me what is
the bearing of these remarks? 'We would gladly hear.' I will endeavour
to explain their drift. I see that the virtue of human life depends on
the due regulation of three wants or desires. The first is the desire
of meat, the second of drink; these begin with birth, and make us
disobedient to any voice other than that of pleasure. The third and
fiercest and greatest need is felt latest; this is love, which is a
madness setting men's whole nature on fire. These three disorders of
mankind we must endeavour to restrain by three mighty influences--fear,
and law, and reason, which, with the aid of the Muses and the Gods of
contests, may extinguish our lusts.

But to return. After marriage let us proceed to the generation of
children, and then to their nurture and education--thus gradually
approaching the subject of syssitia. There are, however, some other
points which are suggested by the three words--meat, drink, love.
'Proceed,' the bride and bridegroom ought to set their mind on having a
brave offspring. Now a man only succeeds when he takes pains; wherefore
the bridegroom ought to take special care of the bride, and the bride
of the bridegroom, at the time when their children are about to be born.
And let there be a committee of matrons who shall meet every day at
the temple of Eilithyia at a time fixed by the magistrates, and inform
against any man or woman who does not observe the laws of married life.
The time of begetting children and the supervision of the parents shall
last for ten years only; if at the expiration of this period they have
no children, they may part, with the consent of their relatives and the
official matrons, and with a due regard to the interests of either; if
a dispute arise, ten of the guardians of the law shall be chosen as
arbiters. The matrons shall also have power to enter the houses of the
young people, if necessary, and to advise and threaten them. If their
efforts fail, let them go to the guardians of the law; and if they
too fail, the offender, whether man or woman, shall be forbidden to
be present at all family ceremonies. If when the time for begetting
children has ceased, either husband or wife have connexion with others
who are of an age to beget children, they shall be liable to the same
penalties as those who are still having a family. But when both parties
have ceased to beget children there shall be no penalties. If men
and women live soberly, the enactments of law may be left to slumber;
punishment is necessary only when there is great disorder of manners.

The first year of children's lives is to be registered in their
ancestral temples; the name of the archon of the year is to be inscribed
on a whited wall in every phratry, and the names of the living members
of the phratry close to them, to be erased at their decease. The proper
time of marriage for a woman shall be from sixteen years to twenty; for
a man, from thirty to thirty-five (compare Republic). The age of holding
office for a woman is to be forty, for a man thirty years. The time for
military service for a man is to be from twenty years to sixty; for a
woman, from the time that she has ceased to bear children until fifty.

BOOK VII. Now that we have married our citizens and brought their
children into the world, we have to find nurture and education for them.
This is a matter of precept rather than of law, and cannot be precisely
regulated by the legislator. For minute regulations are apt to be
transgressed, and frequent transgressions impair the habit of obedience
to the laws. I speak darkly, but I will also try to exhibit my wares in
the light of day. Am I not right in saying that a good education tends
to the improvement of body and mind? 'Certainly.' And the body is
fairest which grows up straight and well-formed from the time of birth.
'Very true.' And we observe that the first shoot of every living thing
is the greatest; many even contend that man is not at twenty-five twice
the height that he was at five. 'True.' And growth without exercise of
the limbs is the source of endless evils in the body. 'Yes.' The body
should have the most exercise when growing most. 'What, the bodies of
young infants?' Nay, the bodies of unborn infants. I should like to
explain to you this singular kind of gymnastics. The Athenians are fond
of cock-fighting, and the people who keep cocks carry them about in
their hands or under their arms, and take long walks, to improve, not
their own health, but the health of the birds. Here is a proof of the
usefulness of motion, whether of rocking, swinging, riding, or tossing
upon the wave; for all these kinds of motion greatly increase strength
and the powers of digestion. Hence we infer that our women, when they
are with child, should walk about and fashion the embryo; and the
children, when born, should be carried by strong nurses,--there must be
more than one of them,--and should not be suffered to walk until they
are three years old. Shall we impose penalties for the neglect of these
rules? The greatest penalty, that is, ridicule, and the difficulty of
making the nurses do as we bid them, will be incurred by ourselves.
'Then why speak of such matters?' In the hope that heads of families may
learn that the due regulation of them is the foundation of law and order
in the state.

And now, leaving the body, let us proceed to the soul; but we must first
repeat that perpetual motion by night and by day is good for the young
creature. This is proved by the Corybantian cure of motion, and by the
practice of nurses who rock children in their arms, lapping them at
the same time in sweet strains. And the reason of this is obvious. The
affections, both of the Bacchantes and of the children, arise from fear,
and this fear is occasioned by something wrong which is going on
within them. Now a violent external commotion tends to calm the violent
internal one; it quiets the palpitation of the heart, giving to the
children sleep, and bringing back the Bacchantes to their right minds
by the help of dances and acceptable sacrifices. But if fear has such
power, will not a child who is always in a state of terror grow up timid
and cowardly, whereas if he learns from the first to resist fear he will
develop a habit of courage? 'Very true.' And we may say that the use
of motion will inspire the souls of children with cheerfulness and
therefore with courage. 'Of course.' Softness enervates and
irritates the temper of the young, and violence renders them mean and
misanthropical. 'But how is the state to educate them when they are as
yet unable to understand the meaning of words?' Why, surely they roar
and cry, like the young of any other animal, and the nurse knows the
meaning of these intimations of the child's likes or dislikes, and the
occasions which call them forth. About three years is passed by children
in a state of imperfect articulation, which is quite long enough time
to make them either good- or ill-tempered. And, therefore, during these
first three years, the infant should be as free as possible from fear
and pain. 'Yes, and he should have as much pleasure as possible.' There,
I think, you are wrong; for the influence of pleasure in the beginning
of education is fatal. A man should neither pursue pleasure nor wholly
avoid pain. He should embrace the mean, and cultivate that state of calm
which mankind, taught by some inspiration, attribute to God; and he who
would be like God should neither be too fond of pleasure himself, nor
should he permit any other to be thus given; above all, not the infant,
whose character is just in the making. It may sound ridiculous, but I
affirm that a woman in her pregnancy should be carefully tended, and
kept from excessive pleasures and pains.

'I quite agree with you about the duty of avoiding extremes and
following the mean.'

Let us consider a further point. The matters which are now in question
are generally called customs rather than laws; and we have already made
the reflection that, though they are not, properly speaking, laws, yet
neither can they be neglected. For they fill up the interstices of
law, and are the props and ligatures on which the strength of the whole
building depends. Laws without customs never last; and we must not
wonder if habit and custom sometimes lengthen out our laws. 'Very true.'
Up to their third year, then, the life of children may be regulated by
customs such as we have described. From three to six their minds have
to be amused; but they must not be allowed to become self-willed and
spoilt. If punishment is necessary, the same rule will hold as in the
case of slaves; they must neither be punished in hot blood nor ruined
by indulgence. The children of that age will have their own modes of
amusing themselves; they should be brought for their play to the village
temples, and placed under the care of nurses, who will be responsible
to twelve matrons annually chosen by the women who have authority over
marriage. These shall be appointed, one out of each tribe, and their
duty shall be to keep order at the meetings: slaves who break the rules
laid down by them, they shall punish by the help of some of the public
slaves; but citizens who dispute their authority shall be brought before
the magistrates. After six years of age there shall be a separation of
the sexes; the boys will go to learn riding and the use of arms, and the
girls may, if they please, also learn. Here I note a practical error in
early training. Mothers and nurses foolishly believe that the left hand
is by nature different from the right, whereas the left leg and foot are
acknowledged to be the same as the right. But the truth is that nature
made all things to balance, and the power of using the left hand, which
is of little importance in the case of the plectrum of the lyre, may
make a great difference in the art of the warrior, who should be a
skilled gymnast and able to fight and balance himself in any position.
If a man were a Briareus, he should use all his hundred hands at once;
at any rate, let everybody employ the two which they have. To these
matters the magistrates, male and female, should attend; the women
superintending the nursing and amusement of the children, and the men
superintending their education, that all of them, boys and girls alike,
may be sound, wind and limb, and not spoil the gifts of nature by bad

Education has two branches--gymnastic, which is concerned with the body;
and music, which improves the soul. And gymnastic has two parts, dancing
and wrestling. Of dancing one kind imitates musical recitation and aims
at stateliness and freedom; another kind is concerned with the training
of the body, and produces health, agility, and beauty. There is no
military use in the complex systems of wrestling which pass under the
names of Antaeus and Cercyon, or in the tricks of boxing, which are
attributed to Amycus and Epeius; but good wrestling and the habit of
extricating the neck, hands, and sides, should be diligently learnt and
taught. In our dances imitations of war should be practised, as in the
dances of the Curetes in Crete and of the Dioscuri at Sparta, or as
in the dances in complete armour which were taught us Athenians by the
goddess Athene. Youths who are not yet of an age to go to war should
make religious processions armed and on horseback; and they should also
engage in military games and contests. These exercises will be equally
useful in peace and war, and will benefit both states and families.

Next follows music, to which we will once more return; and here I shall
venture to repeat my old paradox, that amusements have great influence
on laws. He who has been taught to play at the same games and with the
same playthings will be content with the same laws. There is no greater
evil in a state than the spirit of innovation. In the case of the
seasons and winds, in the management of our bodies and in the habits of
our minds, change is a dangerous thing. And in everything but what is
bad the same rule holds. We all venerate and acquiesce in the laws to
which we are accustomed; and if they have continued during long
periods of time, and there is no remembrance of their ever having been
otherwise, people are absolutely afraid to change them. Now how can we
create this quality of immobility in the laws? I say, by not allowing
innovations in the games and plays of children. The children who are
always having new plays, when grown up will be always having new laws.
Changes in mere fashions are not serious evils, but changes in our
estimate of men's characters are most serious; and rhythms and music are
representations of characters, and therefore we must avoid novelties in
dance and song. For securing permanence no better method can be imagined
than that of the Egyptians. 'What is their method?' They make a calendar
for the year, arranging on what days the festivals of the various
Gods shall be celebrated, and for each festival they consecrate an
appropriate hymn and dance. In our state a similar arrangement shall
in the first instance be framed by certain individuals, and afterwards
solemnly ratified by all the citizens. He who introduces other hymns
or dances shall be excluded by the priests and priestesses and the
guardians of the law; and if he refuses to submit, he may be prosecuted
for impiety. But we must not be too ready to speak about such great
matters. Even a young man, when he hears something unaccustomed, stands
and looks this way and that, like a traveller at a place where three
ways meet; and at our age a man ought to be very sure of his ground
in so singular an argument. 'Very true.' Then, leaving the subject for
further examination at some future time, let us proceed with our laws
about education, for in this manner we may probably throw light upon our
present difficulty. 'Let us do as you say.' The ancients used the term
nomoi to signify harmonious strains, and perhaps they fancied that
there was a connexion between the songs and laws of a country. And we
say--Whosoever shall transgress the strains by law established is a
transgressor of the laws, and shall be punished by the guardians of
the law and by the priests and priestesses. 'Very good.' How can we
legislate about these consecrated strains without incurring ridicule?
Moulds or types must be first framed, and one of the types shall
be--Abstinence from evil words at sacrifices. When a son or brother
blasphemes at a sacrifice there is a sound of ill-omen heard in the
family; and many a chorus stands by the altar uttering inauspicious
words, and he is crowned victor who excites the hearers most with
lamentations. Such lamentations should be reserved for evil days, and
should be uttered only by hired mourners; and let the singers not wear
circlets or ornaments of gold. To avoid every evil word, then, shall be
our first type. 'Agreed.' Our second law or type shall be, that prayers
ever accompany sacrifices; and our third, that, inasmuch as all prayers
are requests, they shall be only for good; this the poets must be made
to understand. 'Certainly.' Have we not already decided that no gold or
silver Plutus shall be allowed in our city? And did not this show that
we were dissatisfied with the poets? And may we not fear that, if they
are allowed to utter injudicious prayers, they will bring the greatest
misfortunes on the state? And we must therefore make a law that the poet
is not to contradict the laws or ideas of the state; nor is he to show
his poems to any private persons until they have first received the
imprimatur of the director of education. A fourth musical law will be
to the effect that hymns and praises shall be offered to Gods, and to
heroes and demigods. Still another law will permit eulogies of eminent
citizens, whether men or women, but only after their death. As to songs
and dances, we will enact as follows:--There shall be a selection made
of the best ancient musical compositions and dances; these shall be
chosen by judges, who ought not to be less than fifty years of age. They
will accept some, and reject or amend others, for which purpose they
will call, if necessary, the poets themselves into council. The severe
and orderly music is the style in which to educate children, who,
if they are accustomed to this, will deem the opposite kind to be
illiberal, but if they are accustomed to the other, will count this to
be cold and unpleasing. 'True.' Further, a distinction should be made
between the melodies of men and women. Nature herself teaches that
the grand or manly style should be assigned to men, and to women the
moderate and temperate. So much for the subjects of education. But to
whom are they to be taught, and when? I must try, like the shipwright,
who lays down the keel of a vessel, to build a secure foundation for the
vessel of the soul in her voyage through life. Human affairs are hardly
serious, and yet a sad necessity compels us to be serious about them.
Let us, therefore, do our best to bring the matter to a conclusion.
'Very good.' I say then, that God is the object of a man's most serious
endeavours. But man is created to be the plaything of the Gods; and
therefore the aim of every one should be to pass through life, not in
grim earnest, but playing at the noblest of pastimes, in another spirit
from that which now prevails. For the common opinion is, that work is
for the sake of play, war of peace; whereas in war there is neither
amusement nor instruction worth speaking of. The life of peace is that
which men should chiefly desire to lengthen out and improve. They should
live sacrificing, singing, and dancing, with the view of propitiating
Gods and heroes. I have already told you the types of song and dance
which they should follow: and 'Some things,' as the poet well says, 'you
will devise for yourself--others, God will suggest to you.'

These words of his may be applied to our pupils. They will partly teach
themselves, and partly will be taught by God, the art of propitiating
Him; for they are His puppets, and have only a small portion in truth.
'You have a poor opinion of man.' No wonder, when I compare him with
God; but, if you are offended, I will place him a little higher.

Next follow the building for gymnasia and schools; these will be in
the midst of the city, and outside will be riding-schools and
archery-grounds. In all of them there ought to be instructors of the
young, drawn from foreign parts by pay, and they will teach them music
and war. Education shall be compulsory; the children must attend school,
whether their parents like it or not; for they belong to the state more
than to their parents. And I say further, without hesitation, that the
same education in riding and gymnastic shall be given both to men and
women. The ancient tradition about the Amazons confirms my view, and
at the present day there are myriads of women, called Sauromatides,
dwelling near the Pontus, who practise the art of riding as well as
archery and the use of arms. But if I am right, nothing can be more
foolish than our modern fashion of training men and women differently,
whereby the power the city is reduced to a half. For reflect--if women
are not to have the education of men, some other must be found for them,
and what other can we propose? Shall they, like the women of Thrace,
tend cattle and till the ground; or, like our own, spin and weave, and
take care of the house? or shall they follow the Spartan custom, which
is between the two?--there the maidens share in gymnastic exercises and
in music; and the grown women, no longer engaged in spinning, weave the
web of life, although they are not skilled in archery, like the Amazons,
nor can they imitate our warrior goddess and carry shield or spear, even
in the extremity of their country's need. Compared with our women,
the Sauromatides are like men. But your legislators, Megillus, as I
maintain, only half did their work; they took care of the men, and left
the women to take care of themselves.

'Shall we suffer the Stranger, Cleinias, to run down Sparta in this

'Why, yes; for we cannot withdraw the liberty which we have already
conceded to him.'

What will be the manner of life of men in moderate circumstances, freed
from the toils of agriculture and business, and having common tables
for themselves and their families which are under the inspection of
magistrates, male and female? Are men who have these institutions only
to eat and fatten like beasts? If they do, how can they escape the fate
of a fatted beast, which is to be torn in pieces by some other beast
more valiant than himself? True, theirs is not the perfect way of life,
for they have not all things in common; but the second best way of life
also confers great blessings. Even those who live in the second state
have a work to do twice as great as the work of any Pythian or Olympic
victor; for their labour is for the body only, but ours both for body
and soul. And this higher work ought to be pursued night and day to the
exclusion of every other. The magistrates who keep the city should be
wakeful, and the master of the household should be up early and before
all his servants; and the mistress, too, should awaken her handmaidens,
and not be awakened by them. Much sleep is not required either for our
souls or bodies. When a man is asleep, he is no better than if he were
dead; and he who loves life and wisdom will take no more sleep than
is necessary for health. Magistrates who are wide awake at night are
terrible to the bad; but they are honoured by the good, and are useful
to themselves and the state.

When the morning dawns, let the boy go to school. As the sheep need the
shepherd, so the boy needs a master; for he is at once the most cunning
and the most insubordinate of creatures. Let him be taken away from
mothers and nurses, and tamed with bit and bridle, being treated as a
freeman in that he learns and is taught, but as a slave in that he
may be chastised by all other freemen; and the freeman who neglects to
chastise him shall be disgraced. All these matters will be under the
supervision of the Director of Education.

Him we will address as follows: We have spoken to you, O illustrious
teacher of youth, of the song, the time, and the dance, and of martial
strains; but of the learning of letters and of prose writings, and of
music, and of the use of calculation for military and domestic purposes
we have not spoken, nor yet of the higher use of numbers in reckoning
divine things--such as the revolutions of the stars, or the arrangements
of days, months, and years, of which the true calculation is necessary
in order that seasons and festivals may proceed in regular course, and
arouse and enliven the city, rendering to the Gods their due, and making
men know them better. There are, we say, many things about which we have
not as yet instructed you--and first, as to reading and music: Shall
the pupil be a perfect scholar and musician, or not even enter on these
studies? He should certainly enter on both:--to letters he will apply
himself from the age of ten to thirteen, and at thirteen he will begin
to handle the lyre, and continue to learn music until he is sixteen;
no shorter and no longer time will be allowed, however fond he or his
parents may be of the pursuit. The study of letters he should carry
to the extent of simple reading and writing, but he need not care for
calligraphy and tachygraphy, if his natural gifts do not enable him to
acquire them in the three years. And here arises a question as to the
learning of compositions when unaccompanied with music, I mean, prose
compositions. They are a dangerous species of literature. Speak then, O
guardians of the law, and tell us what we shall do about them. 'You seem
to be in a difficulty.' Yes; it is difficult to go against the opinion
of all the world. 'But have we not often already done so?' Very true.
And you imply that the road which we are taking, though disagreeable
to many, is approved by those whose judgment is most worth having.
'Certainly.' Then I would first observe that we have many poets, comic
as well as tragic, with whose compositions, as people say, youth are
to be imbued and saturated. Some would have them learn by heart entire
poets; others prefer extracts. Now I believe, and the general opinion
is, that some of the things which they learn are good, and some bad.
'Then how shall we reject some and select others?' A happy thought
occurs to me; this long discourse of ours is a sample of what we want,
and is moreover an inspired work and a kind of poem. I am naturally
pleased in reflecting upon all our words, which appear to me to be just
the thing for a young man to hear and learn. I would venture, then, to
offer to the Director of Education this treatise of laws as a pattern
for his guidance; and in case he should find any similar compositions,
written or oral, I would have him carefully preserve them, and commit
them in the first place to the teachers who are willing to learn them
(he should turn off the teacher who refuses), and let them communicate
the lesson to the young.

I have said enough to the teacher of letters; and now we will proceed to
the teacher of the lyre. He must be reminded of the advice which we gave
to the sexagenarian minstrels; like them he should be quick to perceive
the rhythms suited to the expression of virtue, and to reject the
opposite. With a view to the attainment of this object, the pupil and
his instructor are to use the lyre because its notes are pure; the voice
and string should coincide note for note: nor should there be complex
harmonies and contrasts of intervals, or variations of times or rhythms.
Three years' study is not long enough to give a knowledge of these
intricacies; and our pupils will have many things of more importance to
learn. The tunes and hymns which are to be consecrated for each festival
have been already determined by us.

Having given these instructions to the Director of Music, let us now
proceed to dancing and gymnastic, which must also be taught to boys and
girls by masters and mistresses. Our minister of education will have a
great deal to do; and being an old man, how will he get through so much
work? There is no difficulty;--the law will provide him with assistants,
male and female; and he will consider how important his office is,
and how great the responsibility of choosing them. For if education
prospers, the vessel of state sails merrily along; or if education
fails, the consequences are not even to be mentioned. Of dancing and
gymnastics something has been said already. We include under the latter
military exercises, the various uses of arms, all that relates to
horsemanship, and military evolutions and tactics. There should be
public teachers of both arts, paid by the state, and women as well as
men should be trained in them. The maidens should learn the armed dance,
and the grown-up women be practised in drill and the use of arms, if
only in case of extremity, when the men are gone out to battle, and they
are left to guard their families. Birds and beasts defend their young,
but women instead of fighting run to the altars, thus degrading man
below the level of the animals. 'Such a lack of education, Stranger, is
both unseemly and dangerous.'

Wrestling is to be pursued as a military exercise, but the meaning of
this, and the nature of the art, can only be explained when action
is combined with words. Next follows dancing, which is of two kinds;
imitative, first, of the serious and beautiful; and, secondly, of the
ludicrous and grotesque. The first kind may be further divided into the
dance of war and the dance of peace. The former is called the Pyrrhic;
in this the movements of attack and defence are imitated in a direct and
manly style, which indicates strength and sufficiency of body and mind.
The latter of the two, the dance of peace, is suitable to orderly and
law-abiding men. These must be distinguished from the Bacchic dances
which imitate drunken revelry, and also from the dances by which
purifications are effected and mysteries celebrated. Such dances cannot
be characterized either as warlike or peaceful, and are unsuited to a
civilized state. Now the dances of peace are of two classes:--the first
of them is the more violent, being an expression of joy and triumph
after toil and danger; the other is more tranquil, symbolizing the
continuance and preservation of good. In speaking or singing we
naturally move our bodies, and as we have more or less courage or
self-control we become less or more violent and excited. Thus from the
imitation of words in gestures the art of dancing arises. Now one man
imitates in an orderly, another in a disorderly manner: and so the
peaceful kinds of dance have been appropriately called Emmeleiai, or
dances of order, as the warlike have been called Pyrrhic. In the latter
a man imitates all sorts of blows and the hurling of weapons and the
avoiding of them; in the former he learns to bear himself gracefully
and like a gentleman. The types of these dances are to be fixed by the
legislator, and when the guardians of the law have assigned them to the
several festivals, and consecrated them in due order, no further change
shall be allowed.

Thus much of the dances which are appropriate to fair forms and noble
souls. Comedy, which is the opposite of them, remains to be considered.
For the serious implies the ludicrous, and opposites cannot be
understood without opposites. But a man of repute will desire to
avoid doing what is ludicrous. He should leave such performances to
slaves,--they are not fit for freemen; and there should be some element
of novelty in them. Concerning tragedy, let our law be as follows: When
the inspired poet comes to us with a request to be admitted into our
state, we will reply in courteous words--We also are tragedians and your
rivals; and the drama which we enact is the best and noblest, being the
imitation of the truest and noblest life, with a view to which our state
is ordered. And we cannot allow you to pitch your stage in the agora,
and make your voices to be heard above ours, or suffer you to address
our women and children and the common people on opposite principles
to our own. Come then, ye children of the Lydian Muse, and present
yourselves first to the magistrates, and if they decide that your hymns
are as good or better than ours, you shall have your chorus; but if not,

There remain three kinds of knowledge which should be learnt by
freemen--arithmetic, geometry of surfaces and of solids, and thirdly,
astronomy. Few need make an accurate study of such sciences; and of
special students we will speak at another time. But most persons must be
content with the study of them which is absolutely necessary, and may
be said to be a necessity of that nature against which God himself is
unable to contend. 'What are these divine necessities of knowledge?'
Necessities of a knowledge without which neither gods, nor demigods,
can govern mankind. And far is he from being a divine man who cannot
distinguish one, two, odd and even; who cannot number day and night, and
is ignorant of the revolutions of the sun and stars; for to every higher
knowledge a knowledge of number is necessary--a fool may see this; how
much, is a matter requiring more careful consideration. 'Very true.'
But the legislator cannot enter into such details, and therefore we
must defer the more careful consideration of these matters to another
occasion. 'You seem to fear our habitual want of training in these
subjects.' Still more do I fear the danger of bad training, which is
often worse than none at all. 'Very true.' I think that a gentleman
and a freeman may be expected to know as much as an Egyptian child.
In Egypt, arithmetic is taught to children in their sports by a
distribution of apples or garlands among a greater or less number of
people; or a calculation is made of the various combinations which are
possible among a set of boxers or wrestlers; or they distribute cups
among the children, sometimes of gold, brass, and silver intermingled,
sometimes of one metal only. The knowledge of arithmetic which is thus
acquired is a great help, either to the general or to the manager of
a household; wherever measure is employed, men are more wide-awake in
their dealings, and they get rid of their ridiculous ignorance. 'What do
you mean?' I have observed this ignorance among my countrymen--they are
like pigs--and I am heartily ashamed both on my own behalf and on that
of all the Hellenes. 'In what respect?' Let me ask you a question. You
know that there are such things as length, breadth, and depth?
'Yes.' And the Hellenes imagine that they are commensurable (1) with
themselves, and (2) with each other; whereas they are only commensurable
with themselves. But if this is true, then we are in an unfortunate
case, and may well say to our compatriots that not to possess necessary
knowledge is a disgrace, though to possess such knowledge is nothing
very grand. 'Certainly.' The discussion of arithmetical problems is a
much better amusement for old men than their favourite game of draughts.
'True.' Mathematics, then, will be one of the subjects in which youth
should be trained. They may be regarded as an amusement, as well as a
useful and innocent branch of knowledge;--I think that we may include
them provisionally. 'Yes; that will be the way.' The next question is,
whether astronomy shall be made a part of education. About the stars
there is a strange notion prevalent. Men often suppose that it is
impious to enquire into the nature of God and the world, whereas the
very reverse is the truth. 'How do you mean?' What I am going to say may
seem absurd and at variance with the usual language of age, and yet if
true and advantageous to the state, and pleasing to God, ought not to be
withheld. 'Let us hear.' My dear friend, how falsely do we and all the
Hellenes speak about the sun and moon! 'In what respect?' We are always
saying that they and certain of the other stars do not keep the same
path, and we term them planets. 'Yes; and I have seen the morning and
evening stars go all manner of ways, and the sun and moon doing what we
know that they always do. But I wish that you would explain your meaning
further.' You will easily understand what I have had no difficulty
in understanding myself, though we are both of us past the time of
learning. 'True; but what is this marvellous knowledge which youth are
to acquire, and of which we are ignorant?' Men say that the sun, moon,
and stars are planets or wanderers; but this is the reverse of the fact.
Each of them moves in one orbit only, which is circular, and not in
many; nor is the swiftest of them the slowest, as appears to human eyes.
What an insult should we offer to Olympian runners if we were to put
the first last and the last first! And if that is a ridiculous error in
speaking of men, how much more in speaking of the Gods? They cannot be
pleased at our telling falsehoods about them. 'They cannot.' Then people
should at least learn so much about them as will enable them to avoid

Enough of education. Hunting and similar pursuits now claim our
attention. These require for their regulation that mixture of law and
admonition of which we have often spoken; e.g., in what we were saying
about the nurture of young children. And therefore the whole duty of the
citizen will not consist in mere obedience to the laws; he must regard
not only the enactments but also the precepts of the legislator. I
will illustrate my meaning by an example. Of hunting there are many
kinds--hunting of fish and fowl, man and beast, enemies and friends; and
the legislator can neither omit to speak about these things, nor make
penal ordinances about them all. 'What is he to do then?' He will praise
and blame hunting, having in view the discipline and exercise of youth.
And the young man will listen obediently and will regard his praises and
censures; neither pleasure nor pain should hinder him. The legislator
will express himself in the form of a pious wish for the welfare of the
young:--O my friends, he will say, may you never be induced to hunt for
fish in the waters, either by day or night; or for men, whether by sea
or land. Never let the wish to steal enter into your minds; neither
be ye fowlers, which is not an occupation for gentlemen. As to land
animals, the legislator will discourage hunting by night, and also
the use of nets and snares by day; for these are indolent and unmanly
methods. The only mode of hunting which he can praise is with horses
and dogs, running, shooting, striking at close quarters. Enough of the
prelude: the law shall be as follows:--

Let no one hinder the holy order of huntsmen; but let the nightly
hunters who lay snares and nets be everywhere prohibited. Let the fowler
confine himself to waste places and to the mountains. The fisherman is
also permitted to exercise his calling, except in harbours and sacred
streams, marshes and lakes; in all other places he may fish, provided he
does not make use of poisonous mixtures.

BOOK VIII. Next, with the help of the Delphian Oracle, we will appoint
festivals and sacrifices. There shall be 365 of them, one for every day
in the year; and one magistrate, at least, shall offer sacrifice
daily according to rites prescribed by a convocation of priests and
interpreters, who shall co-operate with the guardians of the law, and
supply what the legislator has omitted. Moreover there shall be twelve
festivals to the twelve Gods after whom the twelve tribes are named:
these shall be celebrated every month with appropriate musical and
gymnastic contests. There shall also be festivals for women, to be
distinguished from the men's festivals. Nor shall the Gods below be
forgotten, but they must be separated from the Gods above--Pluto shall
have his own in the twelfth month. He is not the enemy, but the friend
of man, who releases the soul from the body, which is at least as good a
work as to unite them. Further, those who have to regulate these matters
should consider that our state has leisure and abundance, and wishing to
be happy, like an individual, should lead a good life; for he who leads
such a life neither does nor suffers injury, of which the first is very
easy, and the second very difficult of attainment, and is only to be
acquired by perfect virtue. A good city has peace, but the evil city is
full of wars within and without. To guard against the danger of external
enemies the citizens should practise war at least one day in every
month; they should go out en masse, including their wives and children,
or in divisions, as the magistrates determine, and have mimic contests,
imitating in a lively manner real battles; they should also have prizes
and encomiums of valour, both for the victors in these contests, and for
the victors in the battle of life. The poet who celebrates the victors
should be fifty years old at least, and himself a man who has done great
deeds. Of such an one the poems may be sung, even though he is not the
best of poets. To the director of education and the guardians of the law
shall be committed the judgment, and no song, however sweet, which has
not been licensed by them shall be recited. These regulations about
poetry, and about military expeditions, apply equally to men and to

The legislator may be conceived to make the following address to
himself:--With what object am I training my citizens? Are they not
strivers for mastery in the greatest of combats? Certainly, will be
the reply. And if they were boxers or wrestlers, would they think of
entering the lists without many days' practice? Would they not as far as
possible imitate all the circumstances of the contest; and if they
had no one to box with, would they not practise on a lifeless image,
heedless of the laughter of the spectators? And shall our soldiers go
out to fight for life and kindred and property unprepared, because sham
fights are thought to be ridiculous? Will not the legislator require
that his citizens shall practise war daily, performing lesser exercises
without arms, while the combatants on a greater scale will carry arms,
and take up positions, and lie in ambuscade? And let their combats be
not without danger, that opportunity may be given for distinction,
and the brave man and the coward may receive their meed of honour
or disgrace. If occasionally a man is killed, there is no great harm
done--there are others as good as he is who will replace him; and the
state can better afford to lose a few of her citizens than to lose the
only means of testing them.

'We agree, Stranger, that such warlike exercises are necessary.' But why
are they so rarely practised? Or rather, do we not all know the reasons?
One of them (1) is the inordinate love of wealth. This absorbs the soul
of a man, and leaves him no time for any other pursuit. Knowledge is
valued by him only as it tends to the attainment of wealth. All is lost
in the desire of heaping up gold and silver; anybody is ready to do
anything, right or wrong, for the sake of eating and drinking, and
the indulgence of his animal passions. 'Most true.' This is one of the
causes which prevents a man being a good soldier, or anything else
which is good; it converts the temperate and orderly into shopkeepers or
servants, and the brave into burglars or pirates. Many of these latter
are men of ability, and are greatly to be pitied, because their souls
are hungering and thirsting all their lives long. The bad forms of
government (2) are another reason--democracy, oligarchy, tyranny, which,
as I was saying, are not states, but states of discord, in which the
rulers are afraid of their subjects, and therefore do not like them to
become rich, or noble, or valiant. Now our state will escape both
these causes of evil; the society is perfectly free, and has plenty of
leisure, and is not allowed by the laws to be absorbed in the pursuit
of wealth; hence we have an excellent field for a perfect education, and
for the introduction of martial pastimes. Let us proceed to describe the
character of these pastimes. All gymnastic exercises in our state
must have a military character; no other will be allowed. Activity and
quickness are most useful in war; and yet these qualities do not attain
their greatest efficiency unless the competitors are armed. The runner
should enter the lists in armour, and in the races which our heralds
proclaim, no prize is to be given except to armed warriors. Let there be
six courses--first, the stadium; secondly, the diaulos or double course;
thirdly, the horse course; fourthly, the long course; fifthly, races (1)
between heavy-armed soldiers who shall pass over sixty stadia and
finish at a temple of Ares, and (2) between still more heavily-armed
competitors who run over smoother ground; sixthly, a race for archers,
who shall run over hill and dale a distance of a hundred stadia, and
their goal shall be a temple of Apollo and Artemis. There shall be three
contests of each kind--one for boys, another for youths, a third for
men; the course for the boys we will fix at half, and that for the
youths at two-thirds of the entire length. Women shall join in the
races: young girls who are not grown up shall run naked; but after
thirteen they shall be suitably dressed; from thirteen to eighteen they
shall be obliged to share in these contests, and from eighteen to twenty
they may if they please and if they are unmarried. As to trials of
strength, single combats in armour, or battles between two and two, or
of any number up to ten, shall take the place of wrestling and the heavy
exercises. And there must be umpires, as there are now in wrestling,
to determine what is a fair hit and who is conqueror. Instead of the
pancratium, let there be contests in which the combatants carry bows
and wear light shields and hurl javelins and throw stones. The next
provision of the law will relate to horses, which, as we are in Crete,
need be rarely used by us, and chariots never; our horse-racing prizes
will only be given to single horses, whether colts, half-grown, or
full-grown. Their riders are to wear armour, and there shall be a
competition between mounted archers. Women, if they have a mind, may
join in the exercises of men.

But enough of gymnastics, and nearly enough of music. All musical
contests will take place at festivals, whether every third or every
fifth year, which are to be fixed by the guardians of the law, the
judges of the games, and the director of education, who for this
purpose shall become legislators and arrange times and conditions. The
principles on which such contests are to be ordered have been often
repeated by the first legislator; no more need be said of them, nor
are the details of them important. But there is another subject of the
highest importance, which, if possible, should be determined by the
laws, not of man, but of God; or, if a direct revelation is impossible,
there is need of some bold man who, alone against the world, will
speak plainly of the corruption of human nature, and go to war with the
passions of mankind. 'We do not understand you.' I will try to make my
meaning plainer. In speaking of education, I seemed to see young men and
maidens in friendly intercourse with one another; and there arose in my
mind a natural fear about a state, in which the young of either sex are
well nurtured, and have little to do, and occupy themselves chiefly with
festivals and dances. How can they be saved from those passions which
reason forbids them to indulge, and which are the ruin of so many?
The prohibition of wealth, and the influence of education, and the
all-seeing eye of the ruler, will alike help to promote temperance; but
they will not wholly extirpate the unnatural loves which have been the
destruction of states; and against this evil what remedy can be devised?
Lacedaemon and Crete give no assistance here; on the subject of love, as
I may whisper in your ear, they are against us. Suppose a person were to
urge that you ought to restore the natural use which existed before the
days of Laius; he would be quite right, but he would not be supported by
public opinion in either of your states. Or try the matter by the test
which we apply to all laws,--who will say that the permission of such
things tends to virtue? Will he who is seduced learn the habit of
courage; or will the seducer acquire temperance? And will any legislator
be found to make such actions legal?

But to judge of this matter truly, we must understand the nature of love
and friendship, which may take very different forms. For we speak of
friendship, first, when there is some similarity or equality of virtue;
secondly, when there is some want; and either of these, when in excess,
is termed love. The first kind is gentle and sociable; the second is
fierce and unmanageable; and there is also a third kind, which is akin
to both, and is under the dominion of opposite principles. The one is of
the body, and has no regard for the character of the beloved; but he who
is under the influence of the other disregards the body, and is a looker
rather than a lover, and desires only with his soul to be knit to the
soul of his friend; while the intermediate sort is both of the body
and of the soul. Here are three kinds of love: ought the legislator to
prohibit all of them equally, or to allow the virtuous love to remain?
'The latter, clearly.' I expected to gain your approval; but I will
reserve the task of convincing our friend Cleinias for another occasion.
'Very good.' To make right laws on this subject is in one point of view
easy, and in another most difficult; for we know that in some cases most
men abstain willingly from intercourse with the fair. The unwritten
law which prohibits members of the same family from such intercourse is
strictly obeyed, and no thought of anything else ever enters into the
minds of men in general. A little word puts out the fire of their lusts.
'What is it?' The declaration that such things are hateful to the Gods,
and most abominable and unholy. The reason is that everywhere, in jest
and earnest alike, this is the doctrine which is repeated to all
from their earliest youth. They see on the stage that an Oedipus or a
Thyestes or a Macareus, when undeceived, are ready to kill themselves.
There is an undoubted power in public opinion when no breath is heard
adverse to the law; and the legislator who would enslave these enslaving
passions must consecrate such a public opinion all through the city.
'Good: but how can you create it?' A fair objection; but I promised to
try and find some means of restraining loves to their natural objects. A
law which would extirpate unnatural love as effectually as incest is
at present extirpated, would be the source of innumerable blessings,
because it would be in accordance with nature, and would get rid of
excess in eating and drinking and of adulteries and frenzies, making men
love their wives, and having other excellent effects. I can imagine that
some lusty youth overhears what we are saying, and roars out in abusive
terms that we are legislating for impossibilities. And so a person
might have said of the syssitia, or common meals; but this is refuted by
facts, although even now they are not extended to women. 'True.' There
is no impossibility or super-humanity in my proposed law, as I shall
endeavour to prove. 'Do so.' Will not a man find abstinence more easy
when his body is sound than when he is in ill-condition? 'Yes.' Have we
not heard of Iccus of Tarentum and other wrestlers who abstained wholly
for a time? Yet they were infinitely worse educated than our citizens,
and far more lusty in their bodies. And shall they have abstained for
the sake of an athletic contest, and our citizens be incapable of a
similar endurance for the sake of a much nobler victory,--the victory
over pleasure, which is true happiness? Will not the fear of impiety
enable them to conquer that which many who were inferior to them have
conquered? 'I dare say.' And therefore the law must plainly declare
that our citizens should not fall below the other animals, who live all
together in flocks, and yet remain pure and chaste until the time of
procreation comes, when they pair, and are ever after faithful to their
compact. But if the corruption of public opinion is too great to allow
our first law to be carried out, then our guardians of the law must turn
legislators, and try their hand at a second law. They must minimize the
appetites, diverting the vigour of youth into other channels, allowing
the practice of love in secret, but making detection shameful. Three
higher principles may be brought to bear on all these corrupt natures.
'What are they?' Religion, honour, and the love of the higher qualities
of the soul. Perhaps this is a dream only, yet it is the best of dreams;
and if not the whole, still, by the grace of God, a part of what we
desire may be realized. Either men may learn to abstain wholly from any
loves, natural or unnatural, except of their wedded wives; or, at
least, they may give up unnatural loves; or, if detected, they shall
be punished with loss of citizenship, as aliens from the state in their
morals. 'I entirely agree with you,' said Megillus, 'but Cleinias must
speak for himself.' 'I will give my opinion by-and-by.'

We were speaking of the syssitia, which will be a natural institution
in a Cretan colony. Whether they shall be established after the model
of Crete or Lacedaemon, or shall be different from either, is an
unimportant question which may be determined without difficulty. We
may, therefore, proceed to speak of the mode of life among our citizens,
which will be far less complex than in other cities; a state which is
inland and not maritime requires only half the number of laws. There is
no trouble about trade and commerce, and a thousand other things. The
legislator has only to regulate the affairs of husbandmen and shepherds,
which will be easily arranged, now that the principal questions, such as
marriage, education, and government, have been settled.

Let us begin with husbandry: First, let there be a law of Zeus against
removing a neighbour's landmark, whether he be a citizen or stranger.
For this is 'to move the immoveable'; and Zeus, the God of kindred,
witnesses to the wrongs of citizens, and Zeus, the God of strangers,
to the wrongs of strangers. The offence of removing a boundary shall
receive two punishments--the first will be inflicted by the God himself;
the second by the judges. In the next place, the differences between
neighbours about encroachments must be guarded against. He who
encroaches shall pay twofold the amount of the injury; of all such
matters the wardens of the country shall be the judges, in lesser cases
the officers, and in greater the whole number of them belonging to
any one division. Any injury done by cattle, the decoying of bees, the
careless firing of woods, the planting unduly near a neighbour's
ground, shall all be visited with proper damages. Such details have been
determined by previous legislators, and need not now be mixed up with
greater matters. Husbandmen have had of old excellent rules about
streams and waters; and we need not 'divert their course.' Anybody
may take water from a common stream, if he does not thereby cut off a
private spring; he may lead the water in any direction, except through
a house or temple, but he must do no harm beyond the channel. If land
is without water the occupier shall dig down to the clay, and if at this
depth he find no water, he shall have a right of getting water from his
neighbours for his household; and if their supply is limited, he
shall receive from them a measure of water fixed by the wardens of the
country. If there be heavy rains, the dweller on the higher ground must
not recklessly suffer the water to flow down upon a neighbour beneath
him, nor must he who lives upon lower ground or dwells in an adjoining
house refuse an outlet. If the two parties cannot agree, they shall go
before the wardens of the city or country, and if a man refuse to abide
by their decision, he shall pay double the damage which he has caused.

In autumn God gives us two boons--one the joy of Dionysus not to be laid
up--the other to be laid up. About the fruits of autumn let the law be
as follows: He who gathers the storing fruits of autumn, whether
grapes or figs, before the time of the vintage, which is the rising of
Arcturus, shall pay fifty drachmas as a fine to Dionysus, if he gathers
on his own ground; if on his neighbour's ground, a mina, and two-thirds
of a mina if on that of any one else. The grapes or figs not used for
storing a man may gather when he pleases on his own ground, but on that
of others he must pay the penalty of removing what he has not laid down.
If he be a slave who has gathered, he shall receive a stroke for every
grape or fig. A metic must purchase the choice fruit; but a stranger may
pluck for himself and his attendant. This right of hospitality, however,
does not extend to storing grapes. A slave who eats of the storing
grapes or figs shall be beaten, and the freeman be dismissed with a
warning. Pears, apples, pomegranates, may be taken secretly, but he who
is detected in the act of taking them shall be lightly beaten off, if
he be not more than thirty years of age. The stranger and the elder may
partake of them, but not carry any away; the latter, if he does not obey
the law, shall fail in the competition of virtue, if anybody brings up
his offence against him.

Water is also in need of protection, being the greatest element of
nutrition, and, unlike the other elements--soil, air, and sun--which
conspire in the growth of plants, easily polluted. And therefore he
who spoils another's water, whether in springs or reservoirs, either by
trenching, or theft, or by means of poisonous substances, shall pay the
damage and purify the stream. At the getting-in of the harvest everybody
shall have a right of way over his neighbour's ground, provided he is
careful to do no damage beyond the trespass, or if he himself will gain
three times as much as his neighbour loses. Of all this the magistrates
are to take cognizance, and they are to assess the damage where the
injury does not exceed three minae; cases of greater damage can be
tried only in the public courts. A charge against a magistrate is to
be referred to the public courts, and any one who is found guilty of
deciding corruptly shall pay twofold to the aggrieved person. Matters
of detail relating to punishments and modes of procedure, and summonses,
and witnesses to summonses, do not require the mature wisdom of the aged
legislator; the younger generation may determine them according to their
experience; but when once determined, they shall remain unaltered.

The following are to be the regulations respecting handicrafts:--No
citizen, or servant of a citizen, is to practise them. For the citizen
has already an art and mystery, which is the care of the state; and no
man can practise two arts, or practise one and superintend another. No
smith should be a carpenter, and no carpenter, having many slaves who
are smiths, should look after them himself; but let each man practise
one art which shall be his means of livelihood. The wardens of the city
should see to this, punishing the citizen who offends with temporary
deprival of his rights--the foreigner shall be imprisoned, fined,
exiled. Any disputes about contracts shall be determined by the wardens
of the city up to fifty drachmae--above that sum by the public courts.
No customs are to be exacted either on imports or exports. Nothing
unnecessary is to be imported from abroad, whether for the service of
the Gods or for the use of man--neither purple, nor other dyes, nor
frankincense,--and nothing needed in the country is to be exported.
These things are to be decided on by the twelve guardians of the law who
are next in seniority to the five elders. Arms and the materials of war
are to be imported and exported only with the consent of the generals,
and then only by the state. There is to be no retail trade either in
these or any other articles. For the distribution of the produce of the
country, the Cretan laws afford a rule which may be usefully followed.
All shall be required to distribute corn, grain, animals, and other
valuable produce, into twelve portions. Each of these shall be
subdivided into three parts--one for freemen, another for servants,
and the third shall be sold for the supply of artisans, strangers, and
metics. These portions must be equal whether the produce be much or
little; and the master of a household may distribute the two portions
among his family and his slaves as he pleases--the remainder is to be
measured out to the animals.

Next as to the houses in the country--there shall be twelve villages,
one in the centre of each of the twelve portions; and in every village
there shall be temples and an agora--also shrines for heroes or for
any old Magnesian deities who linger about the place. In every division
there shall be temples of Hestia, Zeus, and Athene, as well as of the
local deity, surrounded by buildings on eminences, which will be the
guard-houses of the rural police. The dwellings of the artisans will be
thus arranged:--The artisans shall be formed into thirteen guilds, one
of which will be divided into twelve parts and settled in the city; of
the rest there shall be one in each division of the country. And the
magistrates will fix them on the spots where they will cause the least
inconvenience and be most serviceable in supplying the wants of the

The care of the agora will fall to the wardens of the agora. Their
first duty will be the regulation of the temples which surround the
market-place; and their second to see that the markets are orderly and
that fair dealing is observed. They will also take care that the sales
which the citizens are required to make to strangers are duly executed.
The law shall be, that on the first day of each month the auctioneers to
whom the sale is entrusted shall offer grain; and at this sale a twelfth
part of the whole shall be exposed, and the foreigner shall supply his
wants for a month. On the tenth, there shall be a sale of liquids, and
on the twenty-third of animals, skins, woven or woollen stuffs, and
other things which husbandmen have to sell and foreigners want to buy.
None of these commodities, any more than barley or flour, or any other
food, may be retailed by a citizen to a citizen; but foreigners may
sell them to one another in the foreigners' market. There must also be
butchers who will sell parts of animals to foreigners and craftsmen,
and their servants; and foreigners may buy firewood wholesale of the
commissioners of woods, and may sell retail to foreigners. All other
goods must be sold in the market, at some place indicated by the
magistrates, and shall be paid for on the spot. He who gives credit, and
is cheated, will have no redress. In buying or selling, any excess or
diminution of what the law allows shall be registered. The same rule
is to be observed about the property of metics. Anybody who practises a
handicraft may come and remain twenty years from the day on which he is
enrolled; at the expiration of this time he shall take what he has and
depart. The only condition which is to be imposed upon him as the tax
of his sojourn is good conduct; and he is not to pay any tax for being
allowed to buy or sell. But if he wants to extend the time of his
sojourn, and has done any service to the state, and he can persuade the
council and assembly to grant his request, he may remain. The children
of metics may also be metics; and the period of twenty years, during
which they are permitted to sojourn, is to count, in their case, from
their fifteenth year.

No mention occurs in the Laws of the doctrine of Ideas. The will of God,
the authority of the legislator, and the dignity of the soul, have
taken their place in the mind of Plato. If we ask what is that truth or
principle which, towards the end of his life, seems to have absorbed
him most, like the idea of good in the Republic, or of beauty in the
Symposium, or of the unity of virtue in the Protagoras, we should
answer--The priority of the soul to the body: his later system mainly
hangs upon this. In the Laws, as in the Sophist and Statesman, we pass
out of the region of metaphysical or transcendental ideas into that of

The opening of the fifth book, though abrupt and unconnected in style,
is one of the most elevated passages in Plato. The religious feeling
which he seeks to diffuse over the commonest actions of life, the
blessedness of living in the truth, the great mistake of a man living
for himself, the pity as well as anger which should be felt at evil,
the kindness due to the suppliant and the stranger, have the temper of
Christian philosophy. The remark that elder men, if they want to educate
others, should begin by educating themselves; the necessity of creating
a spirit of obedience in the citizens; the desirableness of limiting
property; the importance of parochial districts, each to be placed under
the protection of some God or demigod, have almost the tone of a modern
writer. In many of his views of politics, Plato seems to us, like some
politicians of our own time, to be half socialist, half conservative.

In the Laws, we remark a change in the place assigned by him to pleasure
and pain. There are two ways in which even the ideal systems of morals
may regard them: either like the Stoics, and other ascetics, we may say
that pleasure must be eradicated; or if this seems unreal to us, we may
affirm that virtue is the true pleasure; and then, as Aristotle says,
'to be brought up to take pleasure in what we ought, exercises a great
and paramount influence on human life' (Arist. Eth. Nic.). Or as Plato
says in the Laws, 'A man will recognize the noblest life as having the
greatest pleasure and the least pain, if he have a true taste.' If we
admit that pleasures differ in kind, the opposition between these two
modes of speaking is rather verbal than real; and in the greater part of
the writings of Plato they alternate with each other. In the Republic,
the mere suggestion that pleasure may be the chief good, is received
by Socrates with a cry of abhorrence; but in the Philebus, innocent
pleasures vindicate their right to a place in the scale of goods. In the
Protagoras, speaking in the person of Socrates rather than in his own,
Plato admits the calculation of pleasure to be the true basis of ethics,
while in the Phaedo he indignantly denies that the exchange of one
pleasure for another is the exchange of virtue. So wide of the mark
are they who would attribute to Plato entire consistency in thoughts or

He acknowledges that the second state is inferior to the first--in this,
at any rate, he is consistent; and he still casts longing eyes upon the
ideal. Several features of the first are retained in the second: the
education of men and women is to be as far as possible the same; they
are to have common meals, though separate, the men by themselves, the
women with their children; and they are both to serve in the army; the
citizens, if not actually communists, are in spirit communistic;
they are to be lovers of equality; only a certain amount of wealth is
permitted to them, and their burdens and also their privileges are to
be proportioned to this. The constitution in the Laws is a timocracy
of wealth, modified by an aristocracy of merit. Yet the political
philosopher will observe that the first of these two principles is
fixed and permanent, while the latter is uncertain and dependent on the
opinion of the multitude. Wealth, after all, plays a great part in
the Second Republic of Plato. Like other politicians, he deems that a
property qualification will contribute stability to the state. The four
classes are derived from the constitution of Athens, just as the form
of the city, which is clustered around a citadel set on a hill, is
suggested by the Acropolis at Athens. Plato, writing under Pythagorean
influences, seems really to have supposed that the well-being of the
city depended almost as much on the number 5040 as on justice and
moderation. But he is not prevented by Pythagoreanism from observing the
effects which climate and soil exercise on the characters of nations.

He was doubtful in the Republic whether the ideal or communistic state
could be realized, but was at the same time prepared to maintain that
whether it existed or not made no difference to the philosopher, who
will in any case regulate his life by it (Republic). He has now lost
faith in the practicability of his scheme--he is speaking to 'men, and
not to Gods or sons of Gods' (Laws). Yet he still maintains it to be the
true pattern of the state, which we must approach as nearly as possible:
as Aristotle says, 'After having created a more general form of state,
he gradually brings it round to the other' (Pol.). He does not observe,
either here or in the Republic, that in such a commonwealth there would
be little room for the development of individual character. In several
respects the second state is an improvement on the first, especially in
being based more distinctly on the dignity of the soul. The standard
of truth, justice, temperance, is as high as in the Republic;--in one
respect higher, for temperance is now regarded, not as a virtue, but as
the condition of all virtue. It is finally acknowledged that the virtues
are all one and connected, and that if they are separated, courage is
the lowest of them. The treatment of moral questions is less speculative
but more human. The idea of good has disappeared; the excellences of
individuals--of him who is faithful in a civil broil, of the examiner
who is incorruptible, are the patterns to which the lives of the
citizens are to conform. Plato is never weary of speaking of the honour
of the soul, which can only be honoured truly by being improved. To make
the soul as good as possible, and to prepare her for communion with the
Gods in another world by communion with divine virtue in this, is the
end of life. If the Republic is far superior to the Laws in form and
style, and perhaps in reach of thought, the Laws leave on the mind
of the modern reader much more strongly the impression of a struggle
against evil, and an enthusiasm for human improvement. When Plato says
that he must carry out that part of his ideal which is practicable,
he does not appear to have reflected that part of an ideal cannot be
detached from the whole.

The great defect of both his constitutions is the fixedness which he
seeks to impress upon them. He had seen the Athenian empire, almost
within the limits of his own life, wax and wane, but he never seems
to have asked himself what would happen if, a century from the time at
which he was writing, the Greek character should have as much changed as
in the century which had preceded. He fails to perceive that the greater
part of the political life of a nation is not that which is given them
by their legislators, but that which they give themselves. He has never
reflected that without progress there cannot be order, and that mere
order can only be preserved by an unnatural and despotic repression. The
possibility of a great nation or of an universal empire arising never
occurred to him. He sees the enfeebled and distracted state of the
Hellenic world in his own later life, and thinks that the remedy is to
make the laws unchangeable. The same want of insight is apparent in his
judgments about art. He would like to have the forms of sculpture and of
music fixed as in Egypt. He does not consider that this would be fatal
to the true principles of art, which, as Socrates had himself taught,
was to give life (Xen. Mem.). We wonder how, familiar as he was with
the statues of Pheidias, he could have endured the lifeless and
half-monstrous works of Egyptian sculpture. The 'chants of Isis' (Laws),
we might think, would have been barbarous in an Athenian ear. But
although he is aware that there are some things which are not so well
among 'the children of the Nile,' he is deeply struck with the stability
of Egyptian institutions. Both in politics and in art Plato seems to
have seen no way of bringing order out of disorder, except by taking a
step backwards. Antiquity, compared with the world in which he lived,
had a sacredness and authority for him: the men of a former age were
supposed by him to have had a sense of reverence which was wanting among
his contemporaries. He could imagine the early stages of civilization;
he never thought of what the future might bring forth. His experience
is confined to two or three centuries, to a few Greek states, and to an
uncertain report of Egypt and the East. There are many ways in which
the limitations of their knowledge affected the genius of the Greeks.
In criticism they were like children, having an acute vision of things
which were near to them, blind to possibilities which were in the

The colony is to receive from the mother-country her original
constitution, and some of the first guardians of the law. The guardians
of the law are to be ministers of justice, and the president of
education is to take precedence of them all. They are to keep the
registers of property, to make regulations for trade, and they are to
be superannuated at seventy years of age. Several questions of modern
politics, such as the limitation of property, the enforcement of
education, the relations of classes, are anticipated by Plato. He hopes
that in his state will be found neither poverty nor riches; every
man having the necessaries of life, he need not go fortune-hunting in
marriage. Almost in the spirit of the Gospel he would say, 'How hardly
can a rich man dwell in a perfect state.' For he cannot be a good man
who is always gaining too much and spending too little (Laws; compare
Arist. Eth. Nic.). Plato, though he admits wealth as a political
element, would deny that material prosperity can be the foundation of
a really great community. A man's soul, as he often says, is more to be
esteemed than his body; and his body than external goods. He repeats the
complaint which has been made in all ages, that the love of money is the
corruption of states. He has a sympathy with thieves and burglars, 'many
of whom are men of ability and greatly to be pitied, because their souls
are hungering and thirsting all their lives long;' but he has
little sympathy with shopkeepers or retailers, although he makes the
reflection, which sometimes occurs to ourselves, that such occupations,
if they were carried on honestly by the best men and women, would be
delightful and honourable. For traders and artisans a moderate gain was,
in his opinion, best. He has never, like modern writers, idealized
the wealth of nations, any more than he has worked out the problems of
political economy, which among the ancients had not yet grown into a
science. The isolation of Greek states, their constant wars, the want of
a free industrial population, and of the modern methods and instruments
of 'credit,' prevented any great extension of commerce among them; and
so hindered them from forming a theory of the laws which regulate the
accumulation and distribution of wealth.

The constitution of the army is aristocratic and also democratic;
official appointment is combined with popular election. The two
principles are carried out as follows: The guardians of the law nominate
generals out of whom three are chosen by those who are or have been
of the age for military service; and the generals elected have the
nomination of certain of the inferior officers. But if either in the
case of generals or of the inferior officers any one is ready to swear
that he knows of a better man than those nominated, he may put the
claims of his candidate to the vote of the whole army, or of the
division of the service which he will, if elected, command. There is
a general assembly, but its functions, except at elections, are hardly
noticed. In the election of the Boule, Plato again attempts to mix
aristocracy and democracy. This is effected, first as in the Servian
constitution, by balancing wealth and numbers; for it cannot be supposed
that those who possessed a higher qualification were equal in number
with those who had a lower, and yet they have an equal number of
representatives. In the second place, all classes are compelled to vote
in the election of senators from the first and second class; but the
fourth class is not compelled to elect from the third, nor the third
and fourth from the fourth. Thirdly, out of the 180 persons who are thus
chosen from each of the four classes, 720 in all, 360 are to be taken by
lot; these form the council for the year.

These political adjustments of Plato's will be criticised by the
practical statesman as being for the most part fanciful and ineffectual.
He will observe, first of all, that the only real check on democracy
is the division into classes. The second of the three proposals, though
ingenious, and receiving some light from the apathy to politics which
is often shown by the higher classes in a democracy, would have little
power in times of excitement and peril, when the precaution was most
needed. At such political crises, all the lower classes would vote
equally with the higher. The subtraction of half the persons chosen
at the first election by the chances of the lot would not raise the
character of the senators, and is open to the objection of uncertainty,
which necessarily attends this and similar schemes of double
representative government. Nor can the voters be expected to retain the
continuous political interest required for carrying out such a proposal
as Plato's. Who could select 180 persons of each class, fitted to be
senators? And whoever were chosen by the voter in the first instance,
his wishes might be neutralized by the action of the lot. Yet the scheme
of Plato is not really so extravagant as the actual constitution of
Athens, in which all the senators appear to have been elected by
lot (apo kuamou bouleutai), at least, after the revolution made by
Cleisthenes; for the constitution of the senate which was established
by Solon probably had some aristocratic features, though their precise
nature is unknown to us. The ancients knew that election by lot was
the most democratic of all modes of appointment, seeming to say in the
objectionable sense, that 'one man is as good as another.' Plato, who is
desirous of mingling different elements, makes a partial use of the lot,
which he applies to candidates already elected by vote. He attempts also
to devise a system of checks and balances such as he supposes to have
been intended by the ancient legislators. We are disposed to say to
him, as he himself says in a remarkable passage, that 'no man ever
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 yet, as he
adds, the true legislator is still required: he must co-operate with
circumstances. Many things which are ascribed to human foresight are
the result of chance. Ancient, and in a less degree modern political
constitutions, are never consistent with themselves, because they are
never framed on a single design, but are added to from time to time as
new elements arise and gain the preponderance in the state. We often
attribute to the wisdom of our ancestors great political effects which
have sprung unforeseen from the accident of the situation. Power, not
wisdom, is most commonly the source of political revolutions. And
the result, as in the Roman Republic, of the co-existence of opposite
elements in the same state is, not a balance of power or an equable
progress of liberal principles, but a conflict of forces, of which one
or other may happen to be in the ascendant. In Greek history, as well as
in Plato's conception of it, this 'progression by antagonism' involves
reaction: the aristocracy expands into democracy and returns again to

The constitution of the Laws may be said to consist, besides the
magistrates, mainly of three elements,--an administrative Council,
the judiciary, and the Nocturnal Council, which is an intellectual
aristocracy, composed of priests and the ten eldest guardians of the law
and some younger co-opted members. To this latter chiefly are assigned
the functions of legislation, but to be exercised with a sparing hand.
The powers of the ordinary council are administrative rather than
legislative. The whole number of 360, as in the Athenian constitution,
is distributed among the months of the year according to the number of
the tribes. Not more than one-twelfth is to be in office at once,
so that the government would be made up of twelve administrations
succeeding one another in the course of the year. They are to exercise
a general superintendence, and, like the Athenian counsellors, are to
preside in monthly divisions over all assemblies. Of the ecclesia
over which they presided little is said, and that little relates to
comparatively trifling duties. Nothing is less present to the mind of
Plato than a House of Commons, carrying on year by year the work of
legislation. For he supposes the laws to be already provided. As little
would he approve of a body like the Roman Senate. The people and the
aristocracy alike are to be represented, not by assemblies, but by
officers elected for one or two years, except the guardians of the law,
who are elected for twenty years.

The evils of this system are obvious. If in any state, as Plato says
in the Statesman, it is easier to find fifty good draught-players than
fifty good rulers, the greater part of the 360 who compose the council
must be unfitted to rule. The unfitness would be increased by the short
period during which they held office. There would be no traditions
of government among them, as in a Greek or Italian oligarchy, and no
individual would be responsible for any of their acts. Everything seems
to have been sacrificed to a false notion of equality, according to
which all have a turn of ruling and being ruled. In the constitution
of the Magnesian state Plato has not emancipated himself from the
limitations of ancient politics. His government may be described as
a democracy of magistrates elected by the people. He never troubles
himself about the political consistency of his scheme. He does indeed
say that the greater part of the good of this world arises, not from
equality, but from proportion, which he calls the judgment of Zeus
(compare Aristotle's Distributive Justice), but he hardly makes any
attempt to carry out the principle in practice. There is no attempt
to proportion representation to merit; nor is there any body in his
commonwealth which represents the life either of a class or of the whole
state. The manner of appointing magistrates is taken chiefly from the
old democratic constitution of Athens, of which it retains some of the
worst features, such as the use of the lot, while by doing away with
the political character of the popular assembly the mainspring of the
machine is taken out. The guardians of the law, thirty-seven in number,
of whom the ten eldest reappear as a part of the Nocturnal Council at
the end of the twelfth book, are to be elected by the whole military
class, but they are to hold office for twenty years, and would therefore
have an oligarchical rather than a democratic character. Nothing is said
of the manner in which the functions of the Nocturnal Council are to
be harmonized with those of the guardians of the law, or as to how the
ordinary council is related to it.

Similar principles are applied to inferior offices. To some the
appointment is made by vote, to others by lot. In the elections to the
priesthood, Plato endeavours to mix or balance in a friendly manner
'demus and not demus.' The commonwealth of the Laws, like the Republic,
cannot dispense with a spiritual head, which is the same in both--the
oracle of Delphi. From this the laws about all divine things are to be
derived. The final selection of the Interpreters, the choice of an heir
for a vacant lot, the punishment for removing a deposit, are also to be
determined by it. Plato is not disposed to encourage amateur attempts
to revive religion in states. For, as he says in the Laws, 'To institute
religious rites is the work of a great intelligence.'

Though the council is framed on the model of the Athenian Boule, the law
courts of Plato do not equally conform to the pattern of the Athenian
dicasteries. Plato thinks that the judges should speak and ask
questions:--this is not possible if they are numerous; he would,
therefore, have a few judges only, but good ones. He is nevertheless
aware that both in public and private suits there must be a
popular element. He insists that the whole people must share in the
administration of justice--in public causes they are to take the first
step, and the final decision is to remain with them. In private suits
they are also to retain a share; 'for the citizen who has no part in the
administration of justice is apt to think that he has no share in the
state. For this reason there is to be a court of law in every tribe
(i.e. for about every 2,000 citizens), and the judges are to be chosen
by lot.' Of the courts of law he gives what he calls a superficial
sketch. Nor, indeed is it easy to reconcile his various accounts
of them. It is however clear that although some officials, like the
guardians of the law, the wardens of the agora, city, and country have
power to inflict minor penalties, the administration of justice is in
the main popular. The ingenious expedient of dividing the questions of
law and fact between a judge and jury, which would have enabled Plato to
combine the popular element with the judicial, did not occur to him or
to any other ancient political philosopher. Though desirous of limiting
the number of judges, and thereby confining the office to persons
specially fitted for it, he does not seem to have understood that a body
of law must be formed by decisions as well as by legal enactments.

He would have men in the first place seek justice from their friends and
neighbours, because, as he truly remarks, they know best the questions
at issue; these are called in another passage arbiters rather than
judges. But if they cannot settle the matter, it is to be referred to
the courts of the tribes, and a higher penalty is to be paid by the
party who is unsuccessful in the suit. There is a further appeal allowed
to the select judges, with a further increase of penalty. The select
judges are to be appointed by the magistrates, who are to choose one
from every magistracy. They are to be elected annually, and therefore
probably for a year only, and are liable to be called to account before
the guardians of the law. In cases of which death is the penalty, the
trial takes place before a special court, which is composed of the
guardians of the law and of the judges of appeal.

In treating of the subject in Book ix, he proposes to leave for the most
part the methods of procedure to a younger generation of legislators;
the procedure in capital causes he determines himself. He insists that
the vote of the judges shall be given openly, and before they vote they
are to hear speeches from the plaintiff and defendant. They are then
to take evidence in support of what has been said, and to examine
witnesses. The eldest judge is to ask his questions first, and then
the second, and then the third. The interrogatories are to continue for
three days, and the evidence is to be written down. Apparently he does
not expect the judges to be professional lawyers, any more than he
expects the members of the council to be trained statesmen.

In forming marriage connexions, Plato supposes that the public interest
will prevail over private inclination. There was nothing in this very
shocking to the notions of Greeks, among whom the feeling of love
towards the other sex was almost deprived of sentiment or romance.
Married life is to be regulated solely with a view to the good of the
state. The newly-married couple are not allowed to absent themselves
from their respective syssitia, even during their honeymoon; they are
to give their whole mind to the procreation of children; their duties to
one another at a later period of life are not a matter about which
the state is equally solicitous. Divorces are readily allowed for
incompatibility of temper. As in the Republic, physical considerations
seem almost to exclude moral and social ones. To modern feelings there
is a degree of coarseness in Plato's treatment of the subject. Yet he
also makes some shrewd remarks on marriage, as for example, that a man
who does not marry for money will not be the humble servant of his wife.
And he shows a true conception of the nature of the family, when he
requires that the newly-married couple 'should leave their father and
mother,' and have a separate home. He also provides against extravagance
in marriage festivals, which in some states of society, for instance in
the case of the Hindoos, has been a social evil of the first magnitude.

In treating of property, Plato takes occasion to speak of property in
slaves. They are to be treated with perfect justice; but, for their own
sake, to be kept at a distance. The motive is not so much humanity to
the slave, of which there are hardly any traces (although Plato allows
that many in the hour of peril have found a slave more attached than
members of their own family), but the self-respect which the freeman and
citizen owes to himself (compare Republic). If they commit crimes, they
are doubly punished; if they inform against illegal practices of their
masters, they are to receive a protection, which would probably be
ineffectual, from the guardians of the law; in rare cases they are to be
set free. Plato still breathes the spirit of the old Hellenic world, in
which slavery was a necessity, because leisure must be provided for the

The education propounded in the Laws differs in several points from that
of the Republic. Plato seems to have reflected as deeply and earnestly
on the importance of infancy as Rousseau, or Jean Paul (compare the
saying of the latter--'Not the moment of death, but the moment of
birth, is probably the more important'). He would fix the amusements of
children in the hope of fixing their characters in after-life. In the
spirit of the statesman who said, 'Let me make the ballads of a
country, and I care not who make their laws,' Plato would say, 'Let the
amusements of children be unchanged, and they will not want to change
the laws. The 'Goddess Harmonia' plays a great part in Plato's ideas
of education. The natural restless force of life in children, 'who do
nothing but roar until they are three years old,' is gradually to be
reduced to law and order. As in the Republic, he fixes certain forms
in which songs are to be composed: (1) they are to be strains of
cheerfulness and good omen; (2) they are to be hymns or prayers
addressed to the Gods; (3) they are to sing only of the lawful and good.
The poets are again expelled or rather ironically invited to depart; and
those who remain are required to submit their poems to the censorship of
the magistrates. Youth are no longer compelled to commit to memory many
thousand lyric and tragic Greek verses; yet, perhaps, a worse fate is
in store for them. Plato has no belief in 'liberty of prophesying'; and
having guarded against the dangers of lyric poetry, he remembers that
there is an equal danger in other writings. He cannot leave his old
enemies, the Sophists, in possession of the field; and therefore he
proposes that youth shall learn by heart, instead of the compositions of
poets or prose writers, his own inspired work on laws. These, and music
and mathematics, are the chief parts of his education.

Mathematics are to be cultivated, not as in the Republic with a view to
the science of the idea of good,--though the higher use of them is not
altogether excluded,--but rather with a religious and political aim.
They are a sacred study which teaches men how to distribute the portions
of a state, and which is to be pursued in order that they may learn not
to blaspheme about astronomy. Against three mathematical errors Plato
is in profound earnest. First, the error of supposing that the three
dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are really commensurable
with one another. The difficulty which he feels is analogous to the
difficulty which he formerly felt about the connexion of ideas, and is
equally characteristic of ancient philosophy: he fixes his mind on the
point of difference, and cannot at the same time take in the similarity.
Secondly, he is puzzled about the nature of fractions: in the Republic,
he is disposed to deny the possibility of their existence. Thirdly, his
optimism leads him to insist (unlike the Spanish king who thought that
he could have improved on the mechanism of the heavens) on the perfect
or circular movement of the heavenly bodies. He appears to mean, that
instead of regarding the stars as overtaking or being overtaken by one
another, or as planets wandering in many paths, a more comprehensive
survey of the heavens would enable us to infer that they all alike moved
in a circle around a centre (compare Timaeus; Republic). He probably
suspected, though unacquainted with the true cause, that the appearance
of the heavens did not agree with the reality: at any rate, his notions
of what was right or fitting easily overpowered the results of actual
observation. To the early astronomers, who lived at the revival of
science, as to Plato, there was nothing absurd in a priori astronomy,
and they would probably have made fewer real discoveries of they had
followed any other track. (Compare Introduction to the Republic.)

The science of dialectic is nowhere mentioned by name in the Laws, nor
is anything said of the education of after-life. The child is to begin
to learn at ten years of age: he is to be taught reading and writing for
three years, from ten to thirteen, and no longer; and for three years
more, from thirteen to sixteen, he is to be instructed in music. The
great fault which Plato finds in the contemporary education is the
almost total ignorance of arithmetic and astronomy, in which the Greeks
would do well to take a lesson from the Egyptians (compare Republic).
Dancing and wrestling are to have a military character, and women as
well as men are to be taught the use of arms. The military spirit which
Plato has vainly endeavoured to expel in the first two books returns
again in the seventh and eighth. He has evidently a sympathy with the
soldier, as well as with the poet, and he is no mean master of the
art, or at least of the theory, of war (compare Laws; Republic), though
inclining rather to the Spartan than to the Athenian practice of
it (Laws). Of a supreme or master science which was to be the
'coping-stone' of the rest, few traces appear in the Laws. He seems to
have lost faith in it, or perhaps to have realized that the time for
such a science had not yet come, and that he was unable to fill up
the outline which he had sketched. There is no requirement that the
guardians of the law shall be philosophers, although they are to know
the unity of virtue, and the connexion of the sciences. Nor are we
told that the leisure of the citizens, when they are grown up, is to
be devoted to any intellectual employment. In this respect we note a
falling off from the Republic, but also there is 'the returning to it'
of which Aristotle speaks in the Politics. The public and family duties
of the citizens are to be their main business, and these would, no
doubt, take up a great deal more time than in the modern world we are
willing to allow to either of them. Plato no longer entertains the idea
of any regular training to be pursued under the superintendence of the
state from eighteen to thirty, or from thirty to thirty-five; he has
taken the first step downwards on 'Constitution Hill' (Republic). But
he maintains as earnestly as ever that 'to men living under this second
polity there remains the greatest of all works, the education of the
soul,' and that no bye-work should be allowed to interfere with it.
Night and day are not long enough for the consummation of it.

Few among us are either able or willing to carry education into later
life; five or six years spent at school, three or four at a university,
or in the preparation for a profession, an occasional attendance at a
lecture to which we are invited by friends when we have an hour to spare
from house-keeping or money-making--these comprise, as a matter of fact,
the education even of the educated; and then the lamp is extinguished
'more truly than Heracleitus' sun, never to be lighted again'
(Republic). The description which Plato gives in the Republic of the
state of adult education among his contemporaries may be applied almost
word for word to our own age. He does not however acquiesce in this
widely-spread want of a higher education; he would rather seek to make
every man something of a philosopher before he enters on the duties of
active life. But in the Laws he no longer prescribes any regular course
of study which is to be pursued in mature years. Nor does he remark that
the education of after-life is of another kind, and must consist with
the majority of the world rather in the improvement of character than in
the acquirement of knowledge. It comes from the study of ourselves
and other men: from moderation and experience: from reflection on
circumstances: from the pursuit of high aims: from a right use of the
opportunities of life. It is the preservation of what we have been,
and the addition of something more. The power of abstract study or
continuous thought is very rare, but such a training as this can be
given by every one to himself.

The singular passage in Book vii., in which Plato describes life as a
pastime, like many other passages in the Laws is imperfectly expressed.
Two thoughts seem to be struggling in his mind: first, the reflection,
to which he returns at the end of the passage, that men are playthings
or puppets, and that God only is the serious aim of human endeavours;
this suggests to him the afterthought that, although playthings, they
are the playthings of the Gods, and that this is the best of them. The
cynical, ironical fancy of the moment insensibly passes into a religious
sentiment. In another passage he says that life is a game of which God,
who is the player, shifts the pieces so as to procure the victory of
good on the whole. Or once more: Tragedies are acted on the stage; but
the best and noblest of them is the imitation of the noblest life, which
we affirm to be the life of our whole state. Again, life is a chorus, as
well as a sort of mystery, in which we have the Gods for playmates. Men
imagine that war is their serious pursuit, and they make war that they
may return to their amusements. But neither wars nor amusements are the
true satisfaction of men, which is to be found only in the society of
the Gods, in sacrificing to them and propitiating them. Like a Christian
ascetic, Plato seems to suppose that life should be passed wholly in
the enjoyment of divine things. And after meditating in amazement on the
sadness and unreality of the world, he adds, in a sort of parenthesis,
'Be cheerful, Sirs' (Shakespeare, Tempest.)

In one of the noblest passages of Plato, he speaks of the relation of
the sexes. Natural relations between members of the same family have
been established of old; a 'little word' has put a stop to incestuous
connexions. But unnatural unions of another kind continued to prevail
at Crete and Lacedaemon, and were even justified by the example of the
Gods. They, too, might be banished, if the feeling that they were unholy
and abominable could sink into the minds of men. The legislator is
to cry aloud, and spare not, 'Let not men fall below the level of the
beasts.' Plato does not shrink, like some modern philosophers, from
'carrying on war against the mightiest lusts of mankind;' neither does
he expect to extirpate them, but only to confine them to their natural
use and purpose, by the enactments of law, and by the influence of
public opinion. He will not feed them by an over-luxurious diet, nor
allow the healthier instincts of the soul to be corrupted by music
and poetry. The prohibition of excessive wealth is, as he says, a very
considerable gain in the way of temperance, nor does he allow of those
enthusiastic friendships between older and younger persons which in
his earlier writings appear to be alluded to with a certain degree of
amusement and without reproof (compare Introduction to the Symposium).
Sappho and Anacreon are celebrated by him in the Charmides and the
Phaedrus; but they would have been expelled from the Magnesian state.

Yet he does not suppose that the rule of absolute purity can be enforced
on all mankind. Something must be conceded to the weakness of human
nature. He therefore adopts a 'second legal standard of honourable and
dishonourable, having a second standard of right.' He would abolish
altogether 'the connexion of men with men...As to women, if any man has
to do with any but those who come into his house duly married by sacred
rites, 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.'
But feeling also that it is impossible wholly to control the mightiest
passions of mankind,' Plato, like other legislators, makes a compromise.
The offender must not be found out; decency, if not morality, must
be respected. In this he appears to agree with the practice of all
civilized ages and countries. Much may be truly said by the moralist
on the comparative harm of open and concealed vice. Nor do we deny
that some moral evils are better turned out to the light, because,
like diseases, when exposed, they are more easily cured. And secrecy
introduces mystery which enormously exaggerates their power; a mere
animal want is thus elevated into a sentimental ideal. It may very
well be that a word spoken in season about things which are commonly
concealed may have an excellent effect. But having regard to the
education of youth, to the innocence of children, to the sensibilities
of women, to the decencies of society, Plato and the world in general
are not wrong in insisting that some of the worst vices, if they must
exist, should be kept out of sight; this, though only a second-best
rule, is a support to the weakness of human nature. There are some
things which may be whispered in the closet, but should not be shouted
on the housetop. It may be said of this, as of many other things, that
it is a great part of education to know to whom they are to be spoken
of, and when, and where.

BOOK IX. Punishments of offences and modes of procedure come next in
order. We have a sense of disgrace in making regulations for all the
details of crime in a virtuous and well-ordered state. But seeing
that we are legislating for men and not for Gods, there is no
uncharitableness in apprehending that some one of our citizens may have
a heart, like the seed which has touched the ox's horn, so hard as to be
impenetrable to the law. Let our first enactment be directed against the
robbing of temples. No well-educated citizen will be guilty of such a
crime, but one of their servants, or some stranger, may, and with a view
to him, and at the same time with a remoter eye to the general infirmity
of human nature, I will lay down the law, beginning with a prelude. To
the intending robber we will say--O sir, the complaint which troubles
you is not human; but some curse has fallen upon you, inherited from
the crimes of your ancestors, of which you must purge yourself: go and
sacrifice to the Gods, associate with the good, avoid the wicked; and if
you are cured of the fatal impulse, well; but if not, acknowledge death
to be better than life, and depart.

These are the accents, soft and low, in which we address the would-be
criminal. And if he will not listen, then cry aloud as with the sound of
a trumpet: Whosoever robs a temple, if he be a slave or foreigner shall
be branded in the face and hands, and scourged, and cast naked beyond
the border. And perhaps this may improve him: for the law aims either
at the reformation of the criminal, or the repression of crime. No
punishment is designed to inflict useless injury. But if the offender be
a citizen, he must be incurable, and for him death is the only fitting
penalty. His iniquity, however, shall not be visited on his children,
nor shall his property be confiscated.

As to the exaction of penalties, any person who is fined for an offence
shall not be liable to pay the fine, unless he have property in excess
of his lot. For the lots must never go uncultivated for lack of means;
the guardians of the law are to provide against this. If a fine is
inflicted upon a man which he cannot pay, and for which his friends
are unwilling to give security, he shall be imprisoned and otherwise
dishonoured. But no criminal shall go unpunished:--whether death, or
imprisonment, or stripes, or fines, or the stocks, or banishment to a
remote temple, be the penalty. Capital offences shall come under the
cognizance of the guardians of the law, and a college of the best of the
last year's magistrates. The order of suits and similar details we shall
leave to the lawgivers of the future, and only determine the mode of
voting. The judges are to sit in order of seniority, and the proceedings
shall begin with the speeches of the plaintiff and the defendant; and
then the judges, beginning with the eldest, shall ask questions and
collect evidence during three days, which, at the end of each day, shall
be deposited in writing under their seals on the altar of Hestia; and
when they have evidence enough, after a solemn declaration that they
will decide justly, they shall vote and end the case. The votes are to
be given openly in the presence of the citizens.

Next to religion, the preservation of the constitution is the first
object of the law. The greatest enemy of the state is he who attempts to
set up a tyrant, or breeds plots and conspiracies; not far below him in
guilt is a magistrate who either knowingly, or in ignorance, fails to
bring the offender to justice. Any one who is good for anything will
give information against traitors. The mode of proceeding at such trials
will be the same as at trials for sacrilege; the penalty, death. But
neither in this case nor in any other is the son to bear the iniquity of
the father, unless father, grandfather, great-grandfather, have all of
them been capitally convicted, and then the family of the criminal
are to be sent off to the country of their ancestor, retaining their
property, with the exception of the lot and its fixtures. And ten are to
be selected from the younger sons of the other citizens--one of whom is
to be chosen by the oracle of Delphi to be heir of the lot.

Our third law will be a general one, concerning the procedure and the
judges in cases of treason. As regards the remaining or departure of the
family of the offender, the same law shall apply equally to the traitor,
the sacrilegious, and the conspirator.

A thief, whether he steals much or little, must refund twice the amount,
if he can do so without impairing his lot; if he cannot, he must go to
prison until he either pays the plaintiff, or in case of a public theft,
the city, or they agree to forgive him. 'But should all kinds of theft
incur the same penalty?' You remind me of what I know--that legislation
is never perfect. The men for whom laws are now made may be compared
to the slave who is being doctored, according to our old image, by the
unscientific doctor. For the empirical practitioner, if he chance to
meet the educated physician talking to his patient, and entering into
the philosophy of his disease, would burst out laughing and say, as
doctors delight in doing, 'Foolish fellow, instead of curing the patient
you are educating him!' 'And would he not be right?' Perhaps; and
he might add, that he who discourses in our fashion preaches to the
citizens instead of legislating for them. 'True.' There is, however, one
advantage which we possess--that being amateurs only, we may either take
the most ideal, or the most necessary and utilitarian view. 'But why
offer such an alternative? As if all our legislation must be done
to-day, and nothing put off until the morrow. We may surely rough-hew
our materials first, and shape and place them afterwards.' That will be
the natural way of proceeding. There is a further point. Of all writings
either in prose or verse the writings of the legislator are the most
important. For it is he who has to determine the nature of good and
evil, and how they should be studied with a view to our instruction.
And is it not as disgraceful for Solon and Lycurgus to lay down false
precepts about the institutions of life as for Homer and Tyrtaeus?
The laws of states ought to be the models of writing, and what is at
variance with them should be deemed ridiculous. And we may further
imagine them to express the affection and good sense of a father or
mother, and not to be the fiats of a tyrant. 'Very true.'

Let us enquire more particularly about sacrilege, theft and other
crimes, for which we have already legislated in part. And this leads
us to ask, first of all, whether we are agreed or disagreed about the
nature of the honourable and just. 'To what are you referring?' I will
endeavour to explain. All are agreed that justice is honourable, whether
in men or things, and no one who maintains that a very ugly men who is
just, is in his mind fair, would be thought extravagant. 'Very true.'
But if honour is to be attributed to justice, are just sufferings
honourable, or only just actions? 'What do you mean?' Our laws supply a
case in point; for we enacted that the robber of temples and the traitor
should die; and this was just, but the reverse of honourable. In this
way does the language of the many rend asunder the just and honourable.
'That is true.' But is our own language consistent? I have already said
that the evil are involuntarily evil; and the evil are the unjust. Now
the voluntary cannot be the involuntary; and if you two come to me
and say, 'Then shall we legislate for our city?' Of course, I shall
reply.--'Then will you distinguish what crimes are voluntary and what
involuntary, and shall we impose lighter penalties on the latter, and
heavier on the former? Or shall we refuse to determine what is the
meaning of voluntary and involuntary, and maintain that our words have
come down from heaven, and that they should be at once embodied in a
law?' All states legislate under the idea that there are two classes of
actions, the voluntary and the involuntary, but there is great confusion
about them in the minds of men; and the law can never act unless they
are distinguished. Either we must abstain from affirming that unjust
actions are involuntary, or explain the meaning of this statement.
Believing, then, that acts of injustice cannot be divided into voluntary
and involuntary, I must endeavour to find some other mode of classifying
them. Hurts are voluntary and involuntary, but all hurts are not
injuries: on the other hand, a benefit when wrongly conferred may be an
injury. An act which gives or takes away anything is not simply just;
but the legislator who has to decide whether the case is one of hurt or
injury, must consider the animus of the agent; and when there is hurt,
he must as far as possible, provide a remedy and reparation: but if
there is injustice, he must, when compensation has been made, further
endeavour to reconcile the two parties. 'Excellent.' Where injustice,
like disease, is remediable, there the remedy must be applied in word
or deed, with the assistance of pleasures and pains, of bounties and
penalties, or any other influence which may inspire man with the love
of justice, or hatred of injustice; and this is the noblest work of
law. But when the legislator perceives the evil to be incurable, he will
consider that the death of the offender will be a good to himself,
and in two ways a good to society: first, as he becomes an example to
others; secondly, because the city will be quit of a rogue; and in such
a case, but in no other, the legislator will punish with death.
'There is some truth in what you say. I wish, however, that you would
distinguish more clearly the difference of injury and hurt, and the
complications of voluntary and involuntary.' You will admit that anger
is of a violent and destructive nature? 'Certainly.' And further, that
pleasure is different from anger, and has an opposite power, working by
persuasion and deceit? 'Yes.' Ignorance is the third source of crimes;
this is of two kinds--simple ignorance and ignorance doubled by conceit
of knowledge; the latter, when accompanied with power, is a source of
terrible errors, but is excusable when only weak and childish. 'True.'
We often say that one man masters, and another is mastered by pleasure
and anger. 'Just so.' But no one says that one man masters, and another
is mastered by ignorance. 'You are right.' All these motives actuate men
and sometimes drive them in different ways. 'That is so.' Now, then, I
am in a position to define the nature of just and unjust. By injustice I
mean the dominion of anger and fear, pleasure and pain, envy and desire,
in the soul, whether doing harm or not: by justice I mean the rule of
the opinion of the best, whether in states or individuals, extending to
the whole of life; although actions done in error are often thought to
be involuntary injustice. No controversy need be raised about names at
present; we are only desirous of fixing in our memories the heads of
error. And the pain which is called fear and anger is our first head of
error; the second is the class of pleasures and desires; and the third,
of hopes which aim at true opinion about the best;--this latter falls
into three divisions (i.e. (1) when accompanied by simple ignorance, (2)
when accompanied by conceit of wisdom combined with power, or (3) with
weakness), so that there are in all five. And the laws relating to them
may be summed up under two heads, laws which deal with acts of open
violence and with acts of deceit; to which may be added acts both
violent and deceitful, and these last should be visited with the utmost
rigour of the law. 'Very properly.'

Let us now return to the enactment of laws. We have treated of
sacrilege, and of conspiracy, and of treason. Any of these crimes may be
committed by a person not in his right mind, or in the second childhood
of old age. If this is proved to be the fact before the judges, the
person in question shall only have to pay for the injury, and not be
punished further, unless he have on his hands the stain of blood. In
this case he shall be exiled for a year, and if he return before the
expiration of the year, he shall be retained in the public prison two

Homicides may be divided into voluntary and involuntary: and first of
involuntary homicide. He who unintentionally kills another man at the
games or in military exercises duly authorized by the magistrates,
whether death follow immediately or after an interval, shall be
acquitted, subject only to the purification required by the Delphian
Oracle. Any physician whose patient dies against his will shall in like
manner be acquitted. Any one who unintentionally kills the slave of
another, believing that he is his own, with or without weapons, shall
bear the master of the slave harmless, or pay a penalty amounting to
twice the value of the slave, and to this let him add a purification
greater than in the case of homicide at the games. If a man kill his
own slave, a purification only is required of him. If he kill a freeman
unintentionally, let him also make purification; and let him remember
the ancient tradition which says that the murdered man is indignant when
he sees the murderer walk about in his own accustomed haunts, and that
he terrifies him with the remembrance of his crime. And therefore the
homicide should keep away from his native land for a year, or, if he
have slain a stranger, let him avoid the land of the stranger for a like
period. If he complies with this condition, the nearest kinsman of the
deceased shall take pity upon him and be reconciled to him; but if he
refuses to remain in exile, or visits the temples unpurified, then
let the kinsman proceed against him, and demand a double penalty. The
kinsman who neglects this duty shall himself incur the curse, and any
one who likes may proceed against him, and compel him to leave his
country for five years. If a stranger involuntarily kill a stranger, any
one may proceed against him in the same manner: and the homicide, if
he be a metic, shall be banished for a year; but if he be an entire
stranger, whether he have murdered metic, citizen, or stranger, he shall
be banished for ever; and if he return, he shall be punished with death,
and his property shall go to the next of kin of the murdered man. If
he come back by sea against his will, he shall remain on the seashore,
wetting his feet in the water while he waits for a vessel to sail; or
if he be brought back by land, the magistrates shall send him unharmed
beyond the border.

Next follows murder done from anger, which is of two kinds--either
arising out of a sudden impulse, and attended with remorse; or committed
with premeditation, and unattended with remorse. The cause of both is
anger, and both are intermediate between voluntary and involuntary.
The one which is committed from sudden impulse, though not wholly
involuntary, bears the image of the involuntary, and is therefore the
more excusable of the two, and should receive a gentler punishment. The
act of him who nurses his wrath is more voluntary, and therefore more
culpable. The degree of culpability depends on the presence or absence
of intention, to which the degree of punishment should correspond. For
the first kind of murder, that which is done on a momentary impulse,
let two years' exile be the penalty; for the second, that which is
accompanied with malice prepense, three. When the time of any one's
exile has expired, the guardians shall send twelve judges to the borders
of the land, who shall have authority to decide whether he may return
or not. He who after returning repeats the offence, shall be exiled
and return no more, and, if he return, shall be put to death, like
the stranger in a similar case. He who in a fit of anger kills his own
slave, shall purify himself; and he who kills another man's slave, shall
pay to his master double the value. Any one may proceed against the
offender if he appear in public places, not having been purified;
and may bring to trial both the next of kin to the dead man and the
homicide, and compel the one to exact, and the other to pay, a double
penalty. If a slave kill his master, or a freeman who is not his master,
in anger, the kinsmen of the murdered person may do with the murderer
whatever they please, but they must not spare his life. If a father or
mother kill their son or daughter in anger, let the slayer remain in
exile for three years; and on the return of the exile let the parents
separate, and no longer continue to cohabit, or have the same sacred
rites with those whom he or she has deprived of a brother or sister. The
same penalty is decreed against the husband who murders his wife, and
also against the wife who murders her husband. Let them be absent three
years, and on their return never again share in the same sacred rites
with their children, or sit at the same table with them. Nor is a
brother or sister who have lifted up their hands against a brother or
sister, ever to come under the same roof or share in the same rites
with those whom they have robbed of a child. If a son feels such hatred
against his father or mother as to take the life of either of them,
then, if the parent before death forgive him, he shall only suffer the
penalty due to involuntary homicide; but if he be unforgiven, there
are many laws against which he has offended; he is guilty of outrage,
impiety, sacrilege all in one, and deserves to be put to death many
times over. For if the law will not allow a man to kill the authors of
his being even in self-defence, what other penalty than death can be
inflicted upon him who in a fit of passion wilfully slays his father
or mother? If a brother kill a brother in self-defence during a civil
broil, or a citizen a citizen, or a slave a slave, or a stranger a
stranger, let them be free from blame, as he is who slays an enemy in
battle. But if a slave kill a freeman, let him be as a parricide. In all
cases, however, the forgiveness of the injured party shall acquit the
agents; and then they shall only be purified, and remain in exile for a

Enough of actions that are involuntary, or done in anger; let us proceed
to voluntary and premeditated actions. The great source of voluntary
crime is the desire of money, which is begotten by evil education;
and this arises out of the false praise of riches, common both among
Hellenes and barbarians; they think that to be the first of goods which
is really the third. For the body is not for the sake of wealth, but
wealth for the body, as the body is for the soul. If this were better
understood, the crime of murder, of which avarice is the chief cause,
would soon cease among men. Next to avarice, ambition is a source of
crime, troublesome to the ambitious man himself, as well as to the chief
men of the state. And next to ambition, base fear is a motive, which
has led many an one to commit murder in order that he may get rid of the
witnesses of his crimes. Let this be said as a prelude to all enactments
about crimes of violence; and the tradition must not be forgotten, which
tells that the murderer is punished in the world below, and that when
he returns to this world he meets the fate which he has dealt out to
others. If a man is deterred by the prelude and the fear of future
punishment, he will have no need of the law; but in case he disobey, let
the law be declared against him as follows:--He who of malice prepense
kills one of his kindred, shall in the first place be outlawed; neither
temple, harbour, nor agora shall be polluted by his presence. And if a
kinsman of the deceased refuse to proceed against his slayer, he shall
take the curse of pollution upon himself, and also be liable to be
prosecuted by any one who will avenge the dead. The prosecutor, however,
must observe the customary ceremonial before he proceeds against the
offender. The details of these observances will be best determined by a
conclave of prophets and interpreters and guardians of the law, and the
judges of the cause itself shall be the same as in cases of sacrilege.
He who is convicted shall be punished with death, and not be buried
within the country of the murdered person. He who flies from the law
shall undergo perpetual banishment; if he return, he may be put to
death with impunity by any relative of the murdered man or by any other
citizen, or bound and delivered to the magistrates. He who accuses a man
of murder shall demand satisfactory bail of the accused, and if this is
not forthcoming, the magistrate shall keep him in prison against the
day of trial. If a man commit murder by the hand of another, he shall
be tried in the same way as in the cases previously supposed, but if the
offender be a citizen, his body after execution shall be buried within
the land.

If a slave kill a freeman, either with his own hand or by contrivance,
let him be led either to the grave or to a place whence he can see the
grave of the murdered man, and there receive as many stripes at the hand
of the public executioner as the person who took him pleases; and if he
survive he shall be put to death. If a slave be put out of the way to
prevent his informing of some crime, his death shall be punished like
that of a citizen. If there are any of those horrible murders of kindred
which sometimes occur even in well-regulated societies, and of which the
legislator, however unwilling, cannot avoid taking cognizance, he will
repeat the old myth of the divine vengeance against the perpetrators of
such atrocities. The myth will say that the murderer must suffer what he
has done: if he have slain his father, he must be slain by his children;
if his mother, he must become a woman and perish at the hands of his
offspring in another age of the world. Such a preamble may terrify him;
but if, notwithstanding, in some evil hour he murders father or
mother or brethren or children, the mode of proceeding shall be as
follows:--Him who is convicted, the officers of the judges shall lead
to a spot without the city where three ways meet, and there slay him and
expose his body naked; and each of the magistrates shall cast a stone
upon his head and justify the city, and he shall be thrown unburied
beyond the border. But what shall we say of him who takes the life
which is dearest to him, that is to say, his own; and this not from any
disgrace or calamity, but from cowardice and indolence? The manner of
his burial and the purification of his crime is a matter for God and the
interpreters to decide and for his kinsmen to execute. Let him, at any
rate, be buried alone in some uncultivated and nameless spot, and
be without name or monument. If a beast kill a man, not in a public
contest, let it be prosecuted for murder, and after condemnation slain
and cast without the border. Also inanimate things which have caused
death, except in the case of lightning and other visitations from
heaven, shall be carried without the border. If the body of a dead man
be found, and the murderer remain unknown, the trial shall take place
all the same, and the unknown murderer shall be warned not to set foot
in the temples or come within the borders of the land; if discovered, he
shall die, and his body shall be cast out. A man is justified in taking
the life of a burglar, of a footpad, of a violator of women or youth;
and he may take the life of another with impunity in defence of father,
mother, brother, wife, or other relations.

The nurture and education which are necessary to the existence of men
have been considered, and the punishment of acts of violence which
destroy life. There remain maiming, wounding, and the like, which admit
of a similar division into voluntary and involuntary. About this class
of actions the preamble shall be: Whereas men would be like wild beasts
unless they obeyed the laws, the first duty of citizens is the care
of the public interests, which unite and preserve states, as private
interests distract them. A man may know what is for the public good, but
if he have absolute power, human nature will impel him to seek pleasure
instead of virtue, and so darkness will come over his soul and over the
state. If he had mind, he would have no need of law; for mind is the
perfection of law. But such a freeman, 'whom the truth makes free,' is
hardly to be found; and therefore law and order are necessary, which are
the second-best, and they regulate things as they exist in part
only, but cannot take in the whole. For actions have innumerable
characteristics, which must be partly determined by the law and partly
left to the judge. The judge must determine the fact; and to him also
the punishment must sometimes be left. What shall the law prescribe,
and what shall be left to the judge? A city is unfortunate in which the
tribunals are either secret and speechless, or, what is worse, noisy and
public, when the people, as if they were in a theatre, clap and hoot the
various speakers. Such courts a legislator would rather not have; but
if he is compelled to have them, he will speak distinctly, and leave as
little as possible to their discretion. But where the courts are good,
and presided over by well-trained judges, the penalties to be inflicted
may be in a great measure left to them; and as there are to be good
courts among our colonists, we need not determine beforehand the
exact proportion of the penalty and the crime. Returning, then, to
our legislator, let us indite a law about wounding, which shall run as
follows:--He who wounds with intent to kill, and fails in his object,
shall be tried as if he had succeeded. But since God has favoured both
him and his victim, instead of being put to death, he shall be allowed
to go into exile and take his property with him, the damage due to the
sufferer having been previously estimated by the court, which shall be
the same as would have tried the case if death had ensued. If a child
should intentionally wound a parent, or a servant his master, or brother
or sister wound brother or sister with malice prepense, the penalty
shall be death. If a husband or wife wound one another with intent to
kill, the penalty which is inflicted upon them shall be perpetual exile;
and if they have young children, the guardians shall take care of them
and administer their property as if they were orphans. If they have
no children, their kinsmen male and female shall meet, and after a
consultation with the priests and guardians of the law, shall appoint an
heir of the house; for the house and family belong to the state, being
a 5040th portion of the whole. And the state is bound to preserve
her families happy and holy; therefore, when the heir of a house has
committed a capital offence, or is in exile for life, the house is to be
purified, and then the kinsmen of the house and the guardians of the law
are to find out a family which has a good name and in which there are
many sons, and introduce one of them to be the heir and priest of the
house. He shall assume the fathers and ancestors of the family, while
the first son dies in dishonour and his name is blotted out.

Some actions are intermediate between the voluntary and involuntary.
Those done from anger are of this class. If a man wound another in
anger, let him pay double the damage, if the injury is curable; or
fourfold, if curable, and at the same time dishonourable; and fourfold,
if incurable; the amount is to be assessed by the judges. If the wounded
person is rendered incapable of military service, the injurer, besides
the other penalties, shall serve in his stead, or be liable to a suit
for refusing to serve. If brother wounds brother, then their parents
and kindred, of both sexes, shall meet and judge the crime. The damages
shall be assessed by the parents; and if the amount fixed by them is
disputed, an appeal shall be made to the male kindred; or in the last
resort to the guardians of the law. Parents who wound their children are
to be tried by judges of at least sixty years of age, who have children
of their own; and they are to determine whether death, or some lesser
punishment, is to be inflicted upon them--no relatives are to take part
in the trial. If a slave in anger smite a freeman, he is to be delivered
up by his master to the injured person. If the master suspect collusion
between the slave and the injured person, he may bring the matter to
trial: and if he fail he shall pay three times the injury; or if he
obtain a conviction, the contriver of the conspiracy shall be liable to
an action for kidnapping. He who wounds another unintentionally shall
only pay for the actual harm done.

In all outrages and acts of violence, the elder is to be more regarded
than the younger. An injury done by a younger man to an elder is
abominable and hateful; but the younger man who is struck by an elder
is to bear with him patiently, considering that he who is twenty years
older is loco parentis, and remembering the reverence which is due to
the Gods who preside over birth. Let him keep his hands, too, from the
stranger; instead of taking upon himself to chastise him when he is
insolent, he shall bring him before the wardens of the city, who shall
examine into the case, and if they find him guilty, shall scourge him
with as many blows as he has given; or if he be innocent, they shall
warn and threaten his accuser. When an equal strikes an equal, whether
an old man an old man, or a young man a young man, let them use only
their fists and have no weapons. He who being above forty years of age
commences a fight, or retaliates, shall be counted mean and base.

To this preamble, let the law be added: If a man smite another who is
his elder by twenty years or more, let the bystander, in case he be
older than the combatants, part them; or if he be younger than the
person struck, or of the same age with him, let him defend him as he
would a father or brother; and let the striker be brought to trial,
and if convicted imprisoned for a year or more at the discretion of
the judges. If a stranger smite one who is his elder by twenty years or
more, he shall be imprisoned for two years, and a metic, in like case,
shall suffer three years' imprisonment. He who is standing by and gives
no assistance, shall be punished according to his class in one of four
penalties--a mina, fifty, thirty, twenty drachmas. The generals and
other superior officers of the army shall form the court which tries
this class of offences.

Laws are made to instruct the good, and in the hope that there may be no
need of them; also to control the bad, whose hardness of heart will not
be hindered from crime. The uttermost penalty will fall upon those who
lay violent hands upon a parent, having no fear of the Gods above, or of
the punishments which will pursue them in the world below. They are
too wise in their own conceits to believe in such things: wherefore the
tortures which await them in another life must be anticipated in this.
Let the law be as follows:--

If a man, being in his right mind, dare to smite his father and mother,
or his grandfather and grandmother, let the passer-by come to the
rescue; and if he be a metic or stranger who comes to the rescue, he
shall have the first place at the games; or if he do not come to the
rescue, he shall be a perpetual exile. Let the citizen in the like
case be praised or blamed, and the slave receive freedom or a hundred
stripes. The wardens of the agora, the city, or the country, as the
case may be, shall see to the execution of the law. And he who is an
inhabitant of the same place and is present shall come to the rescue, or
he shall fall under a curse.

If a man be convicted of assaulting his parents, let him be banished for
ever from the city into the country, and let him abstain from all sacred
rites; and if he do not abstain, let him be punished by the wardens of
the country; and if he return to the city, let him be put to death. If
any freeman consort with him, let him be purified before he returns to
the city. If a slave strike a freeman, whether citizen or stranger, let
the bystander be obliged to seize and deliver him into the hands of the
injured person, who may inflict upon him as many blows as he
pleases, and shall then return him to his master. The law will be as
follows:--The slave who strikes a freeman shall be bound by his master,
and not set at liberty without the consent of the person whom he has
injured. All these laws apply to women as well as to men.

BOOK X. The greatest wrongs arise out of youthful insolence, and the
greatest of all are committed against public temples; they are in the
second degree great when private rites and sepulchres are insulted; in
the third degree, when committed against parents; in the fourth degree,
when they are done against the authority or property of the rulers; in
the fifth degree, when the rights of individuals are violated. Most
of these offences have been already considered; but there remains the
question of admonition and punishment of offences against the Gods. Let
the admonition be in the following terms:--No man who ever intentionally
did or said anything impious, had a true belief in the existence of the
Gods; but either he thought that there were no Gods, or that they did
not care about men, or that they were easily appeased by sacrifices and
prayers. 'What shall we say or do to such persons?' My good sir, let us
first hear the jests which they in their superiority will make upon us.
'What will they say?' Probably something of this kind:--'Strangers you
are right in thinking that some of us do not believe in the existence of
the Gods; while others assert that they do not care for us, and others
that they are propitiated by prayers and offerings. But we want you to
argue with us before you threaten; you should prove to us by reasonable
evidence that there are Gods, and that they are too good to be bribed.
Poets, priests, prophets, rhetoricians, even the best of them, speak
to us of atoning for evil, and not of avoiding it. From legislators who
profess to be gentle we ask for instruction, which may, at least, have
the persuasive power of truth, if no other.' What have you to say?
'Well, there is no difficulty in proving the being of the Gods. The sun,
and earth, and stars, moving in their courses, the recurring seasons,
furnish proofs of their existence; and there is the general opinion
of mankind.' I fear that the unbelievers--not that I care for their
opinion--will despise us. You are not aware that their impiety proceeds,
not from sensuality, but from ignorance taking the garb of wisdom. 'What
do you mean?' At Athens there are tales current both in prose and verse
of a kind which are not tolerated in a well-regulated state like yours.
The oldest of them relate the origin of the world, and the birth and
life of the Gods. These narratives have a bad influence on family
relations; but as they are old we will let them pass, and consider
another kind of tales, invented by the wisdom of a younger generation,
who, if any one argues for the existence of the Gods and claims that the
stars have a divine being, insist that these are mere earth and stones,
which can have no care of human things, and that all theology is a
cooking up of words. Now what course ought we to take? Shall we suppose
some impious man to charge us with assuming the existence of the Gods,
and make a defence? Or shall we leave the preamble and go on to the
laws? 'There is no hurry, and we have often said that the shorter and
worse method should not be preferred to the longer and better. The proof
that there are Gods who are good, and the friends of justice, is the
best preamble of all our laws.' Come, let us talk with the impious, who
have been brought up from their infancy in the belief of religion, and
have heard their own fathers and mothers praying for them and talking
with the Gods as if they were absolutely convinced of their existence;
who have seen mankind prostrate in prayer at the rising and setting of
the sun and moon and at every turn of fortune, and have dared to despise
and disbelieve all this. Can we keep our temper with them, when they
compel us to argue on such a theme? We must; or like them we shall go
mad, though with more reason. Let us select one of them and address him
as follows:

O my son, you are young; time and experience will make you change many
of your opinions. Do not be hasty in forming a conclusion about the
divine nature; and let me mention to you a fact which I know. You and
your friends are not the first or the only persons who have had these
notions about the Gods. There are always a considerable number who are
infected by them: I have known many myself, and can assure you that no
one who was an unbeliever in his youth ever persisted till he was old in
denying the existence of the Gods. The two other opinions, first, that
the Gods exist and have no care of men, secondly, that they care for
men, but may be propitiated by sacrifices and prayers, may indeed last
through life in a few instances, but even this is not common. I would
beg of you to be patient, and learn the truth of the legislator and
others; in the mean time abstain from impiety. 'So far, our discourse
has gone well.'

I will now speak of a strange doctrine, which is regarded by many as the
crown of philosophy. They affirm that all things come into being either
by art or nature or chance, and that the greater things are done by
nature and chance, and the lesser things by art, which receiving from
nature the greater creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works
which are termed works of art. Their meaning is that fire, water, earth,
and air all exist by nature and chance, and not by art; and that out of
these, according to certain chance affinities of opposites, the sun, the
moon, the stars, and the earth have been framed, not by any action of
mind, but by nature and chance only. Thus, in their opinion, the heaven
and earth were created, as well as the animals and plants. Art came
later, and is of mortal birth; by her power were invented certain
images and very partial imitations of the truth, of which kind are the
creations of musicians and painters: but they say that there are
other arts which combine with nature, and have a deeper truth, such as
medicine, husbandry, gymnastic. Also the greater part of politics they
imagine to co-operate with nature, but in a less degree, having more of
art, while legislation is declared by them to be wholly a work of art.
'How do you mean?' In the first place, they say that the Gods exist
neither by nature nor by art, but by the laws of states, which are
different in different countries; and that virtue is one thing by nature
and another by convention; and that justice is altogether conventional,
made by law, and having authority for the moment only. This is repeated
to young men by sages and poets, and leads to impiety, and the pretended
life according to nature and in disobedience to law; for nobody believes
the Gods to be such as the law affirms. 'How true! and oh! how injurious
to states and to families!' But then, what should the lawgiver do?
Should he stand up in the state and threaten mankind with the severest
penalties if they persist in their unbelief, while he makes no attempt
to win them by persuasion? 'Nay, Stranger, the legislator ought never to
weary of trying to persuade the world that there are Gods; and he should
declare that law and art exist by nature.' Yes, Cleinias; but these are
difficult and tedious questions. 'And shall our patience, which was
not exhausted in the enquiry about music or drink, fail now that we are
discoursing about the Gods? There may be a difficulty in framing laws,
but when written down they remain, and time and diligence will make them
clear; if they are useful there would be neither reason nor religion in
rejecting them on account of their length.' Most true. And the general
spread of unbelief shows that the legislator should do something in
vindication of the laws, when they are being undermined by bad men.
'He should.' You agree with me, Cleinias, that the heresy consists in
supposing earth, air, fire, and water to be the first of all things.
These the heretics call nature, conceiving them to be prior to the soul.
'I agree.' You would further agree that natural philosophy is the source
of this impiety--the study appears to be pursued in a wrong way. 'In
what way do you mean?' The error consists in transposing first and
second causes. They do not see that the soul is before the body, and
before all other things, and the author and ruler of them all. And if
the soul is prior to the body, then the things of the soul are prior to
the things of the body. In other words, opinion, attention, mind, art,
law, are prior to sensible qualities; and the first and greater works of
creation are the results of art and mind, whereas the works of nature,
as they are improperly termed, are secondary and subsequent. 'Why do you
say "improperly"?' Because when they speak of nature they seem to mean
the first creative power. But if the soul is first, and not fire and
air, then the soul above all things may be said to exist by nature. And
this can only be on the supposition that the soul is prior to the body.
Shall we try to prove that it is so? 'By all means.' I fear that the
greenness of our argument will ludicrously contrast with the ripeness of
our ages. But as we must go into the water, and the stream is strong, I
will first attempt to cross by myself, and if I arrive at the bank, you
shall follow. Remembering that you are unaccustomed to such discussions,
I will ask and answer the questions myself, while you listen in safety.
But first I must pray the Gods to assist at the demonstration of their
own existence--if ever we are to call upon them, now is the time. Let
me hold fast to the rope, and enter into the depths: Shall I put the
question to myself in this form?--Are all things at rest, and is nothing
in motion? or are some things in motion, and some things at rest? 'The
latter.' And do they move and rest, some in one place, some in more?
'Yes.' There may be (1) motion in the same place, as in revolution on an
axis, which is imparted swiftly to the larger and slowly to the lesser
circle; and there may be motion in different places, having sometimes
(2) one centre of motion and sometimes (3) more. (4) When bodies in
motion come against other bodies which are at rest, they are divided
by them, and (5) when they are caught between other bodies coming from
opposite directions they unite with them; and (6) they grow by union and
(7) waste by dissolution while their constitution remains the same, but
are (8) destroyed when their constitution fails. There is a growth from
one dimension to two, and from a second to a third, which then becomes
perceptible to sense; this process is called generation, and the
opposite, destruction. We have now enumerated all possible motions
with the exception of two. 'What are they?' Just the two with which our
enquiry is concerned; for our enquiry relates to the soul. There is one
kind of motion which is only able to move other things; there is another
which can move itself as well, working in composition and decomposition,
by increase and diminution, by generation and destruction. 'Granted.'
(9) That which moves and is moved by another is the ninth kind of
motion; (10) that which is self-moved and moves others is the tenth. And
this tenth kind of motion is the mightiest, and is really the first, and
is followed by that which was improperly called the ninth. 'How do you
mean?' Must not that which is moved by others finally depend upon that
which is moved by itself? Nothing can be affected by any transition
prior to self-motion. Then the first and eldest principle of motion,
whether in things at rest or not at rest, will be the principle of
self-motion; and that which is moved by others and can move others will
be the second. 'True.' Let me ask another question:

What is the name which is given to self-motion when manifested in any
material substance? 'Life.' And soul too is life? 'Very good.' And are
there not three kinds of knowledge--a knowledge (1) of the essence, (2)
of the definition, (3) of the name? And sometimes the name leads us
to ask the definition, sometimes the definition to ask the name. For
example, number can be divided into equal parts, and when thus divided
is termed even, and the definition of even and the word 'even' refer
to the same thing. 'Very true.' And what is the definition of the thing
which is named 'soul'? Must we not reply, 'The self-moved'? And have we
not proved that the self-moved is the source of motion in other things?
'Yes.' And the motion which is not self-moved will be inferior to this?
'True.' And if so, we shall be right in saying that the soul is prior
and superior to the body, and the body by nature subject and inferior to
the soul? 'Quite right.' And we agreed that if the soul was prior to
the body, the things of the soul were prior to the things of the body?
'Certainly.' And therefore desires, and manners, and thoughts, and true
opinions, and recollections, are prior to the length and breadth and
force of bodies. 'To be sure.' In the next place, we acknowledge that
the soul is the cause of good and evil, just and unjust, if we suppose
her to be the cause of all things? 'Certainly.' And the soul which
orders all things must also order the heavens? 'Of course.' One soul
or more? More; for less than two are inconceivable, one good, the other
evil. 'Most true.' The soul directs all things by her movements, which
we call will, consideration, attention, deliberation, opinion true and
false, joy, sorrow, courage, fear, hatred, love, and similar affections.
These are the primary movements, and they receive the secondary
movements of bodies, and guide all things to increase and diminution,
separation and union, and to all the qualities which accompany
them--cold, hot, heavy, light, hard, soft, white, black, sweet, bitter;
these and other such qualities the soul, herself a goddess, uses, when
truly receiving the divine mind she leads all things rightly to their
happiness; but under the impulse of folly she works out an opposite
result. For the controller of heaven and earth and the circle of the
world is either the wise and good soul, or the foolish and vicious soul,
working in them. 'What do you mean?' If we say that the whole course
and motion of heaven and earth is in accordance with the workings and
reasonings of mind, clearly the best soul must have the care of the
heaven, and guide it along that better way. 'True.' But if the heavens
move wildly and disorderly, then they must be under the guidance of the
evil soul. 'True again.' What is the nature of the movement of the soul?
We must not suppose that we can see and know the soul with our bodily
eyes, any more than we can fix them on the midday sun; it will be safer
to look at an image only. 'How do you mean?' Let us find among the ten
kinds of motion an image of the motion of the mind. You remember, as
we said, that all things are divided into two classes; and some of them
were moved and some at rest. 'Yes.' And of those which were moved, some
were moved in the same place, others in more places than one. 'Just so.'
The motion which was in one place was circular, like the motion of a
spherical body; and such a motion in the same place, and in the same
relations, is an excellent image of the motion of mind. 'Very true.' The
motion of the other sort, which has no fixed place or manner or relation
or order or proportion, is akin to folly and nonsense. 'Very true.'
After what has been said, it is clear that, since the soul carries round
all things, some soul which is either very good or the opposite carries
round the circumference of heaven. But that soul can be no other than
the best. Again, the soul carries round the sun, moon, and stars, and if
the sun has a soul, then either the soul of the sun is within and moves
the sun as the human soul moves the body; or, secondly, the sun is
contained in some external air or fire, which the soul provides and
through which she operates; or, thirdly, the course of the sun is guided
by the soul acting in a wonderful manner without a body. 'Yes, in one
of those ways the soul must guide all things.' And this soul of the
sun, which is better than the sun, whether driving him in a chariot or
employing any other agency, is by every man called a God? 'Yes, by every
man who has any sense.' And of the seasons, stars, moon, and year, in
like manner, it may be affirmed that the soul or souls from which they
derive their excellence are divine; and without insisting on the manner
of their working, no one can deny that all things are full of Gods. 'No
one.' And now let us offer an alternative to him who denies that there
are Gods. Either he must show that the soul is not the origin of all
things, or he must live for the future in the belief that there are

Next, as to the man who believes in the Gods, but refuses to acknowledge
that they take care of human things--let him too have a word of
admonition. 'Best of men,' we will say to him, 'some affinity to the
Gods leads you to honour them and to believe in them. But you have heard
the happiness of wicked men sung by poets and admired by the world, and
this has drawn you away from your natural piety. Or you have seen the
wicked growing old in prosperity, and leaving great offices to their
children; or you have watched the tyrant succeeding in his career of
crime; and considering all these things you have been led to believe in
an irrational way that the Gods take no care of human affairs. That your
error may not increase, I will endeavour to purify your soul.' Do you,
Megillus and Cleinias, make answer for the youth, and when we come to
a difficulty, I will carry you over the water as I did before. 'Very
good.' He will easily be convinced that the Gods care for the small as
well as the great; for he heard what was said of their goodness and of
their having all things under their care. 'He certainly heard.' Then now
let us enquire what is meant by the virtue of the Gods. To possess mind
belongs to virtue, and the contrary to vice. 'That is what we say.' And
is not courage a part of virtue, and cowardice of vice? 'Certainly.'
And to the Gods we ascribe virtues; but idleness and indolence are not
virtues. 'Of course not.' And is God to be conceived of as a careless,
indolent fellow, such as the poet would compare to a stingless drone?
'Impossible.' Can we be right in praising any one who cares for great
matters and leaves the small to take care of themselves? Whether God or
man, he who does so, must either think the neglect of such matters to be
of no consequence, or he is indolent and careless. For surely neither
of them can be charged with neglect if they fail to attend to something
which is beyond their power? 'Certainly not.'

And now we will examine the two classes of offenders who admit that
there are Gods, but say,--the one that they may be appeased, the other
that they take no care of small matters: do they not acknowledge that
the Gods are omnipotent and omniscient, and also good and perfect?
'Certainly.' Then they cannot be indolent, for indolence is the
offspring of idleness, and idleness of cowardice, and there is no
cowardice in God. 'True.' If the Gods neglect small matters, they must
either know or not know that such things are not to be regarded. But of
course they know that they should be regarded, and knowing, they
cannot be supposed to neglect their duty, overcome by the seductions
of pleasure or pain. 'Impossible.' And do not all human things share in
soul, and is not man the most religious of animals and the possession
of the Gods? And the Gods, who are the best of owners, will surely
take care of their property, small or great. Consider further, that the
greater the power of perception, the less the power of action. For it is
harder to see and hear the small than the great, but easier to control
them. Suppose a physician who had to cure a patient--would he
ever succeed if he attended to the great and neglected the little?
'Impossible.' Is not life made up of littles?--the pilot, general,
householder, statesman, all attend to small matters; and the builder
will tell you that large stones do not lie well without small ones.
And God is not inferior to mortal craftsmen, who in proportion to their
skill are careful in the details of their work; we must not imagine the
best and wisest to be a lazy good-for-nothing, who wearies of his work
and hurries over small and easy matters. 'Never, never!' He who charges
the Gods with neglect has been forced to admit his error; but I should
like further to persuade him that the author of all has made every part
for the sake of the whole, and that the smallest part has an appointed
state of action or passion, and that the least action or passion of any
part has a presiding minister. You, we say to him, are a minute fraction
of this universe, created with a view to the whole; the world is not
made for you, but you for the world; for the good artist considers the
whole first, and afterwards the parts. And you are annoyed at not seeing
how you and the universe are all working together for the best, so
far as the laws of the common creation admit. The soul undergoes many
changes from her contact with bodies; and all that the player does is to
put the pieces into their right places. 'What do you mean?' I mean that
God acts in the way which is simplest and easiest. Had each thing been
formed without any regard to the rest, the transposition of the Cosmos
would have been endless; but now there is not much trouble in the
government of the world. For when the king saw the actions of the living
souls and bodies, and the virtue and vice which were in them, and the
indestructibility of the soul and body (although they were not eternal),
he contrived so to arrange them that virtue might conquer and vice be
overcome as far as possible; giving them a seat and room adapted to
them, but leaving the direction of their separate actions to men's own
wills, which make our characters to be what they are. 'That is very
probable.' All things which have a soul possess in themselves the
principle of change, and in changing move according to fate and law;
natures which have undergone lesser changes move on the surface; but
those which have changed utterly for the worse, sink into Hades and the
infernal world. And in all great changes for good and evil which are
produced either by the will of the soul or the influence of others,
there is a change of place. The good soul, which has intercourse with
the divine nature, passes into a holier and better place; and the evil
soul, as she grows worse, changes her place for the worse. This,--as we
declare to the youth who fancies that he is neglected of the Gods,--is
the law of divine justice--the worse to the worse, the better to the
better, like to like, in life and in death. And from this law no man
will ever boast that he has escaped. Even if you say--'I am small,
and will creep into the earth,' or 'I am high, and will mount to
heaven'--you are not so small or so high that you shall not pay the
fitting penalty, either here or in the world below. This is also the
explanation of the seeming prosperity of the wicked, in whose actions
as in a mirror you imagined that you saw the neglect of the Gods, not
considering that they make all things contribute to the whole. And
how then could you form any idea of true happiness?--If Cleinias and
Megillus and I have succeeded in persuading you that you know not what
you say about the Gods, God will help you; but if there is still any
deficiency of proof, hear our answer to the third opponent.

Enough has been said to prove that the Gods exist and care for us;
that they can be propitiated, or that they receive gifts, is not to be
allowed or admitted for an instant. 'Let us proceed with the argument.'
Tell me, by the Gods, I say, how the Gods are to be propitiated by us?
Are they not rulers, who may be compared to charioteers, pilots, perhaps
generals, or physicians providing against the assaults of disease,
husbandmen observing the perils of the seasons, shepherds watching their
flocks? To whom shall we compare them? We acknowledged that the world is
full both of good and evil, but having more of evil than of good. There
is an immortal conflict going on, in which Gods and demigods are our
allies, and we their property; for injustice and folly and wickedness
make war in our souls upon justice and temperance and wisdom. There is
little virtue to be found on earth; and evil natures fawn upon the Gods,
like wild beasts upon their keepers, and believe that they can win them
over by flattery and prayers. And this sin, which is termed dishonesty,
is to the soul what disease is to the body, what pestilence is to the
seasons, what injustice is to states. 'Quite so.' And they who maintain
that the Gods can be appeased must say that they forgive the sins of
men, if they are allowed to share in their spoils; as you might suppose
wolves to mollify the dogs by throwing them a portion of the prey. 'That
is the argument.' But let us apply our images to the Gods--are they the
pilots who are won by gifts to wreck their own ships--or the charioteers
who are bribed to lose the race--or the generals, or doctors, or
husbandmen, who are perverted from their duty--or the dogs who
are silenced by wolves? 'God forbid.' Are they not rather our best
guardians; and shall we suppose them to fall short even of a moderate
degree of human or even canine virtue, which will not betray justice for
reward? 'Impossible.' He, then, who maintains such a doctrine, is the
most blasphemous of mankind.

And now our three points are proven; and we are agreed (1) that there
are Gods, (2) that they care for men, (3) that they cannot be bribed
to do injustice. I have spoken warmly, from a fear lest this impiety of
theirs should lead to a perversion of life. And our warmth will not have
been in vain, if we have succeeded in persuading these men to abominate
themselves, and to change their ways. 'So let us hope.' Then now that
the preamble is completed, we will make a proclamation commanding the
impious to renounce their evil ways; and in case they refuse, the law
shall be added:--If a man is guilty of impiety in word or deed, let
the bystander inform the magistrates, and let the magistrates bring the
offender before the court; and if any of the magistrates refuses to act,
he likewise shall be tried for impiety. Any one who is found guilty of
such an offence shall be fined at the discretion of the court, and
shall also be punished by a term of imprisonment. There shall be three
prisons--one for common offences against life and property; another,
near by the spot where the Nocturnal Council will assemble, which is to
be called the 'House of Reformation'; the third, to be situated in some
desolate region in the centre of the country, shall be called by a name
indicating retribution. There are three causes of impiety, and from each
of them spring impieties of two kinds, six in all. First, there is the
impiety of those who deny the existence of the Gods; these may be honest
men, haters of evil, who are only dangerous because they talk loosely
about the Gods and make others like themselves; but there is also a more
vicious class, who are full of craft and licentiousness. To this latter
belong diviners, jugglers, despots, demagogues, generals, hierophants
of private mysteries, and sophists. The first class shall be only
imprisoned and admonished. The second class should be put to death, if
they could be, many times over. The two other sorts of impiety, first of
those who deny the care of the Gods, and secondly, of those who affirm
that they may be propitiated, have similar subdivisions, varying in
degree of guilt. Those who have learnt to blaspheme from mere ignorance
shall be imprisoned in the House of Reformation for five years at least,
and not allowed to see any one but members of the Nocturnal Council,
who shall converse with them touching their souls health. If any of the
prisoners come to their right mind, at the end of five years let them be
restored to sane company; but he who again offends shall die. As to
that class of monstrous natures who not only believe that the Gods are
negligent, or may be propitiated, but pretend to practise on the souls
of quick and dead, and promise to charm the Gods, and to effect the ruin
of houses and states--he, I say, who is guilty of these things, shall
be bound in the central prison, and shall have no intercourse with
any freeman, receiving only his daily rations of food from the public
slaves; and when he dies, let him be cast beyond the border; and if any
freeman assist to bury him, he shall be liable to a suit for impiety.
But the sins of the father shall not be visited upon his children, who,
like other orphans, shall be educated by the state. Further, let there
be a general law which will have a tendency to repress impiety. No man
shall have religious services in his house, but he shall go with his
friends to pray and sacrifice in the temples. The reason of this is,
that religious institutions can only be framed by a great intelligence.
But women and weak men are always consecrating the event of the moment;
they are under the influence of dreams and apparitions, and they build
altars and temples in every village and in any place where they have
had a vision. The law is designed to prevent this, and also to deter men
from attempting to propitiate the Gods by secret sacrifices, which
only multiply their sins. Therefore let the law run:--No one shall
have private religious rites; and if a man or woman who has not been
previously noted for any impiety offend in this way, let them be
admonished to remove their rites to a public temple; but if the offender
be one of the obstinate sort, he shall be brought to trial before the
guardians, and if he be found guilty, let him die.

BOOK XI. As to dealings between man and man, the principle of them is
simple--Thou shalt not take what is not thine; and shalt do to others as
thou wouldst that they should do to thee. First, of treasure trove:--May
I never desire to find, or lift, if I find, or be induced by the counsel
of diviners to lift, a treasure which one who was not my ancestor has
laid down; for I shall not gain so much in money as I shall lose in
virtue. The saying, 'Move not the immovable,' may be repeated in a
new sense; and there is a common belief which asserts that such deeds
prevent a man from having a family. To him who is careless of such
consequences, and, despising the word of the wise, takes up a treasure
which is not his--what will be done by the hand of the Gods, God only
knows,--but I would have the first person who sees the offender, inform
the wardens of the city or the country; and they shall send to Delphi
for a decision, and whatever the oracle orders, they shall carry out.
If the informer be a freeman, he shall be honoured, and if a slave,
set free; but he who does not inform, if he be a freeman, shall be
dishonoured, and if a slave, shall be put to death. If a man leave
anywhere anything great or small, intentionally or unintentionally, let
him who may find the property deem the deposit sacred to the Goddess
of ways. And he who appropriates the same, if he be a slave, shall be
beaten with many stripes; if a freeman, he shall pay tenfold, and be
held to have done a dishonourable action. If a person says that another
has something of his, and the other allows that he has the property in
dispute, but maintains it to be his own, let the ownership be proved out
of the registers of property. If the property is registered as belonging
to some one who is absent, possession shall be given to him who offers
sufficient security on behalf of the absentee; or if the property is not
registered, let it remain with the three eldest magistrates, and if it
should be an animal, the defeated party must pay the cost of its keep. A
man may arrest his own slave, and he may also imprison for safe-keeping
the runaway slave of a friend. Any one interfering with him must produce
three sureties; otherwise, he will be liable to an action for violence,
and if he be cast, must pay a double amount of damages to him from whom
he has taken the slave. A freedman who does not pay due respect to his
patron, may also be seized. Due respect consists in going three times
a month to the house of his patron, and offering to perform any lawful
service for him; he must also marry as his master pleases; and if his
property be greater than his master's, he must hand over to him the
excess. A freedman may not remain in the state, except with the consent
of the magistrates and of his master, for more than twenty years; and
whenever his census exceeds that of the third class, he must in any case
leave the country within thirty days, taking his property with him. If
he break this regulation, the penalty shall be death, and his property
shall be confiscated. Suits about these matters are to be decided in the
courts of the tribes, unless the parties have settled the matter before
a court of neighbours or before arbiters. If anybody claim a beast, or
anything else, let the possessor refer to the seller or giver of the
property within thirty days, if the latter reside in the city, or, if
the goods have been received from a stranger, within five months, of
which the middle month shall include the summer solstice. All purchases
and exchanges are to be made in the agora, and paid for on the spot; the
law will not allow credit to be given. No law shall protect the money
subscribed for clubs. He who sells anything of greater value than fifty
drachmas shall abide in the city for ten days, and let his whereabouts
be known to the buyer, in case of any reclamation. When a slave is sold
who is subject to epilepsy, stone, or any other invisible disorder, the
buyer, if he be a physician or trainer, or if he be warned, shall have
no redress; but in other cases within six months, or within twelve
months in epileptic disorders, he may bring the matter before a jury of
physicians to be agreed upon by both parties; and the seller who loses
the suit, if he be an expert, shall pay twice the price; or if he be
a private person, the bargain shall be rescinded, and he shall simply
refund. If a person knowingly sells a homicide to another, who is
informed of his character, there is no redress. But if the judges--who
are to be the five youngest guardians of the law--decide that the
purchaser was not aware, then the seller is to pay threefold, and to
purify the house of the buyer.

He who exchanges money for money, or beast for beast, must warrant
either of them to be sound and good. As in the case of other laws, let
us have a preamble, relating to all this class of crime. Adulteration
is a kind of falsehood about which the many commonly say that at proper
times the practice may often be right, but they do not define at what
times. But the legislator will tell them, that no man should invoke the
Gods when he is practising deceit or fraud, in word or deed. For he is
the enemy of heaven, first, who swears falsely, not thinking of the Gods
by whom he swears, and secondly, he who lies to his superiors. (Now
the superiors are the betters of inferiors,--the elder of the younger,
parents of children, men of women, and rulers of subjects.) The trader
who cheats in the agora is a liar and is perjured--he respects neither
the name of God nor the regulations of the magistrates. If after hearing
this he will still be dishonest, let him listen to the law:--The seller
shall not have two prices on the same day, neither must he puff his
goods, nor offer to swear about them. If he break the law, any citizen
not less than thirty years of age may smite him. If he sell adulterated
goods, the slave or metic who informs against him shall have the goods;
the citizen who brings such a charge, if he prove it, shall offer up the
goods in question to the Gods of the agora; or if he fail to prove it,
shall be dishonoured. He who is detected in selling adulterated goods
shall be deprived of them, and shall receive a stripe for every drachma
of their value. The wardens of the agora and the guardians of the law
shall take experienced persons into counsel, and draw up regulations for
the agora. These shall be inscribed on a column in front of the court
of the wardens of the agora.--As to the wardens of the city, enough
has been said already. But if any omissions in the law are afterwards
discovered, the wardens and the guardians shall supply them, and have
them inscribed after the original regulations on a column before the
court of the wardens of the city.

Next in order follows the subject of retail trades, which in their
natural use are the reverse of mischievous; for every man is a
benefactor who reduces what is unequal to symmetry and proportion. Money
is the instrument by which this is accomplished, and the shop-keeper,
the merchant, and hotel-keeper do but supply the wants and equalize
the possessions of mankind. Why, then, does any dishonour attach to
a beneficent occupation? Let us consider the nature of the accusation
first, and then see whether it can be removed. 'What is your drift?'
Dear Cleinias, there are few men who are so gifted by nature, and
improved by education, as to be able to control the desire of making
money; or who are sober in their wishes and prefer moderation to
accumulation. The great majority think that they can never have enough,
and the consequence is that retail trade has become a reproach. Whereas,
however ludicrous the idea may seem, if noble men and noble women could
be induced to open a shop, and to trade upon incorruptible principles,
then the aspect of things would change, and retail traders would be
regarded as nursing fathers and mothers. In our own day the trader
goes and settles in distant places, and receives the weary traveller
hospitably at first, but in the end treats him as an enemy and a
captive, whom he only liberates for an enormous ransom. This is what
has brought retail trade into disrepute, and against this the legislator
ought to provide. Men have said of old, that to fight against two
opponents is hard; and the two opponents of whom I am thinking are
wealth and poverty--the one corrupting men by luxury; the other, through
misery, depriving them of the sense of shame. What remedies can a city
find for this disease? First, to have as few retail traders as possible;
secondly, to give retail trade over to a class whose corruption will not
injure the state; and thirdly, to restrain the insolence and meanness of
the retailers.

Let us make the following laws:--(1) In the city of the Magnetes none of
the 5040 citizens shall be a retailer or merchant, or do any service to
any private persons who do not equally serve him, except to his father
and mother and their fathers and mothers, and generally to his elders
who are freemen, and whom he serves as a freeman. He who follows an
illiberal pursuit may be cited for dishonouring his family, and kept
in bonds for a year; and if he offend again, he shall be bound for two
years; and for every offence his punishment shall be doubled: (2) Every
retailer shall be a metic or a foreigner: (3) The guardians of the law
shall have a special care of this part of the community, whose calling
exposes them to peculiar temptations. They shall consult with persons of
experience, and find out what prices will yield the traders a moderate
profit, and fix them.

When a man does not fulfil his contract, he being under no legal or
other impediment, the case shall be brought before the court of the
tribes, if not previously settled by arbitration. The class of artisans
is consecrated to Hephaestus and Athene; the makers of weapons to Ares
and Athene: all of whom, remembering that the Gods are their ancestors,
should be ashamed to deceive in the practice of their craft. If any man
is lazy in the fulfilment of his work, and fancies, foolish fellow, that
his patron God will not deal hardly with him, he will be punished by the
God; and let the law follow:--He who fails in his undertaking shall pay
the value, and do the work gratis in a specified time. The contractor,
like the seller, is enjoined by law to charge the simple value of his
work; in a free city, art should be a true thing, and the artist must
not practise on the ignorance of others. On the other hand, he who has
ordered any work and does not pay the workman according to agreement,
dishonours Zeus and Athene, and breaks the bonds of society. And if
he does not pay at the time agreed, let him pay double; and although
interest is forbidden in other cases, let the workman receive after the
expiration of a year interest at the rate of an obol a month for every
drachma (equal to 200 per cent. per ann.). And we may observe by the
way, in speaking of craftsmen, that if our military craft do their work
well, the state will praise those who honour them, and blame those who
do not honour them. Not that the first place of honour is to be assigned
to the warrior; a higher still is reserved for those who obey the laws.

Most of the dealings between man and man are now settled, with the
exception of such as relate to orphans and guardianships. These lead
us to speak of the intentions of the dying, about which we must make
regulations. I say 'must'; for mankind cannot be allowed to dispose of
their property as they please, in ways at variance with one another and
with law and custom. But a dying person is a strange being, and is not
easily managed; he wants to be master of all he has, and is apt to use
angry words. He will say,--'May I not do what I will with my own, and
give much to my friends, and little to my enemies?' 'There is reason
in that.' O Cleinias, in my judgment the older lawgivers were too
soft-hearted, and wanting in insight into human affairs. They were
too ready to listen to the outcry of a dying man, and hence they were
induced to give him an absolute power of bequest. But I would say to
him:--O creature of a day, you know neither what is yours nor yourself:
for you and your property are not your own, but belong to your whole
family, past and to come, and property and family alike belong to the
State. And therefore I must take out of your hands the charge of what
you leave behind you, with a view to the interests of all. And I hope
that you will not quarrel with us, now that you are going the way of all
mankind; we will do our best for you and yours when you are no longer
here. Let this be our address to the living and dying, and let the law
be as follows:--The father who has sons shall appoint one of them to be
the heir of the lot; and if he has given any other son to be adopted by
another, the adoption shall also be recorded; and if he has still a son
who has no lot, and has a chance of going to a colony, he may give him
what he has more than the lot; or if he has more than one son unprovided
for, he may divide the money between them. A son who has a house of his
own, and a daughter who is betrothed, are not to share in the bequest of
money; and the son or daughter who, having inherited one lot, acquires
another, is to bequeath the new inheritance to the next of kin. If a man
have only daughters, he may adopt the husband of any one of them; or if
he have lost a son, let him make mention of the circumstance in his will
and adopt another. If he have no children, he may give away a tenth of
his acquired property to whomsoever he likes; but he must adopt an heir
to inherit the lot, and may leave the remainder to him. Also he may
appoint guardians for his children; or if he die without appointing them
or without making a will, the nearest kinsmen,--two on the father's
and two on the mother's side,--and one friend of the departed, shall be
appointed guardians. The fifteen eldest guardians of the law are to have
special charge of all orphans, the whole number of fifteen being
divided into bodies of three, who will succeed one another according
to seniority every year for five years. If a man dying intestate leave
daughters, he must pardon the law which marries them for looking, first
to kinship, and secondly to the preservation of the lot. The legislator
cannot regard the character of the heir, which to the father is the
first consideration. The law will therefore run as follows:--If the
intestate leave daughters, husbands are to be found for them among
their kindred according to the following table of affinity: first,
their father's brothers; secondly, the sons of their father's brothers;
thirdly, of their father's sisters; fourthly, their great-uncles;
fifthly, the sons of a great-uncle; sixthly, the sons of a great-aunt.
The kindred in such cases shall always be reckoned in this way; the
relationship shall proceed upwards through brothers and sisters and
brothers' and sisters' children, and first the male line must be taken
and then the female. If there is a dispute in regard to fitness of
age for marriage, this the judge shall decide, after having made an
inspection of the youth naked, and of the maiden naked down to the
waist. If the maiden has no relations within the degree of third cousin,
she may choose whom she likes, with the consent of her guardians; or she
may even select some one who has gone to a colony, and he, if he be a
kinsman, will take the lot by law; if not, he must have her guardians'
consent, as well as hers. When a man dies without children and without
a will, let a young man and a young woman go forth from the family and
take up their abode in the desolate house. The woman shall be selected
from the kindred in the following order of succession:--first, a
sister of the deceased; second, a brother's daughter; third, a sister's
daughter; fourth, a father's sister; fifth, a daughter of a father's
brother; sixth, a daughter of a father's sister. For the man the
same order shall be observed as in the preceding case. The legislator
foresees that laws of this kind will sometimes press heavily, and that
his intention cannot always be fulfilled; as for example, when there are
mental and bodily defects in the persons who are enjoined to marry. But
he must be excused for not being always able to reconcile the general
principles of public interest with the particular circumstances of
individuals; and he is willing to allow, in like manner, that the
individual cannot always do what the lawgiver wishes. And then arbiters
must be chosen, who will determine equitably the cases which may arise
under the law: e.g. a rich cousin may sometimes desire a grander match,
or the requirements of the law can only be fulfilled by marrying a
madwoman. To meet such cases let the following law be enacted:--If any
one comes forward and says that the lawgiver, had he been alive, would
not have required the carrying out of the law in a particular case, let
him go to the fifteen eldest guardians of the law who have the care of
orphans; but if he thinks that too much power is thus given to them, he
may bring the case before the court of select judges.

Thus will orphans have a second birth. In order to make their sad
condition as light as possible, the guardians of the law shall be
their parents, and shall be admonished to take care of them. And what
admonition can be more appropriate than the assurance which we formerly
gave, that the souls of the dead watch over mortal affairs? About this
there are many ancient traditions, which may be taken on trust from the
legislator. Let men fear, in the first place, the Gods above; secondly,
the souls of the departed, who naturally care for their own descendants;
thirdly, the aged living, who are quick to hear of any neglect of family
duties, especially in the case of orphans. For they are the holiest
and most sacred of all deposits, and the peculiar care of guardians and
magistrates; and those who try to bring them up well will contribute
to their own good and to that of their families. He who listens to the
preamble of the law will never know the severity of the legislator; but
he who disobeys, and injures the orphan, will pay twice the penalty he
would have paid if the parents had been alive. More laws might have been
made about orphans, did we not suppose that the guardians have children
and property of their own which are protected by the laws; and the duty
of the guardian in our state is the same as that of a father, though
his honour or disgrace is greater. A legal admonition and threat may,
however, be of service: the guardian of the orphan and the guardian of
the law who is over him, shall love the orphan as their own children,
and take more care of his or her property than of their own. If the
guardian of the child neglect his duty, the guardian of the law shall
fine him; and the guardian may also have the magistrate tried for
neglect in the court of select judges, and he shall pay, if convicted,
a double penalty. Further, the guardian of the orphan who is careless
or dishonest may be fined on the information of any of the citizens in a
fourfold penalty, half to go to the orphan and half to the prosecutor
of the suit. When the orphan is of age, if he thinks that he has been
ill-used, his guardian may be brought to trial by him within five years,
and the penalty shall be fixed by the court. Or if the magistrate
has neglected the orphan, he shall pay damages to him; but if he have
defrauded him, he shall make compensation and also be deposed from his
office of guardian of the law.

If irremediable differences arise between fathers and sons, the father
may want to renounce his son, or the son may indict his father for
imbecility: such violent separations only take place when the family are
'a bad lot'; if only one of the two parties is bad, the differences do
not grow to so great a height. But here arises a difficulty. Although
in any other state a son who is disinherited does not cease to be a
citizen, in ours he does; for the number of citizens cannot exceed 5040.
And therefore he who is to suffer such a penalty ought to be abjured,
not only by his father, but by the whole family. The law, then, should
run as follows:--If any man's evil fortune or temper incline him to
disinherit his son, let him not do so lightly or on the instant; but let
him have a council of his own relations and of the maternal relations of
his son, and set forth to them the propriety of disinheriting him, and
allow his son to answer. And if more than half of the kindred male and
female, being of full age, condemn the son, let him be disinherited.
If any other citizen desires to adopt him, he may, for young men's
characters often change in the course of life. But if, after ten years,
he remains unadopted, let him be sent to a colony. If disease, or old
age, or evil disposition cause a man to go out of his mind, and he is
ruining his house and property, and his son doubts about indicting him
for insanity, let him lay the case before the eldest guardians of the
law, and consult with them. And if they advise him to proceed, and the
father is decided to be imbecile, he shall have no more control over his
property, but shall live henceforward like a child in the house.

If a man and his wife are of incompatible tempers, ten guardians of the
law and ten of the matrons who regulate marriage shall take their case
in hand, and reconcile them, if possible. If, however, their swelling
souls cannot be pacified, the wife may try and find a new husband, and
the husband a new wife; probably they are not very gentle creatures, and
should therefore be joined to milder natures. The younger of those
who are separated should also select their partners with a view to the
procreation of children; while the older should seek a companion for
their declining years. If a woman dies, leaving children male or female,
the law will advise, but not compel, the widower to abstain from a
second marriage; if she leave no children, he shall be compelled to
marry. Also a widow, if she is not old enough to live honestly without
marriage, shall marry again; and in case she have no children, she
should marry for the sake of them. There is sometimes an uncertainty
which parent the offspring is to follow: in unions of a female slave
with a male slave, or with a freedman or free man, or of a free woman
with a male slave, the offspring is to belong to the master; but if the
master or mistress be themselves the parent of the child, the slave and
the child are to be sent away to another land.

Concerning duty to parents, let the preamble be as follows:--We honour
the Gods in their lifeless images, and believe that we thus propitiate
them. But he who has an aged father or mother has a living image, which
if he cherish it will do him far more good than any statue. 'What do
you mean by cherishing them?' I will tell you. Oedipus and Amyntor and
Theseus cursed their children, and their curses took effect. This proves
that the Gods hear the curses of parents who are wronged; and shall we
doubt that they hear and fulfil their blessings too?' 'Surely not.' And,
as we were saying, no image is more honoured by the Gods than an aged
father and mother, to whom when honour is done, the God who hears their
prayers is rejoiced, and their influence is greater than that of the
lifeless statue; for they pray that good or evil may come to us in
proportion as they are honoured or dishonoured, but the statue is
silent. 'Excellent.' Good men are glad when their parents live to
extreme old age, or if they depart early, lament their loss; but to bad
man their parents are always terrible. Wherefore let every one honour
his parents, and if this preamble fails of influencing him, let him hear
the law:--If any one does not take sufficient care of his parents, let
the aggrieved person inform the three eldest guardians of the law and
three of the women who are concerned with marriages. Women up to forty
years of age, and men up to thirty, who thus offend, shall be beaten
and imprisoned. After that age they are to be brought before a court
composed of the eldest citizens, who may inflict any punishment upon
them which they please. If the injured party cannot inform, let any
freeman who hears of the case inform; a slave who does so shall be
set free,--if he be the slave of the one of the parties, by the
magistrate,--if owned by another, at the cost of the state; and let the
magistrates, take care that he is not wronged by any one out of revenge.

The injuries which one person does to another by the use of poisons
are of two kinds;--one affects the body by the employment of drugs and
potions; the other works on the mind by the practice of sorcery and
magic. Fatal cases of either sort have been already mentioned; and now
we must have a law respecting cases which are not fatal. There is no use
in arguing with a man whose mind is disturbed by waxen images placed at
his own door, or on the sepulchre of his father or mother, or at a spot
where three ways meet. But to the wizards themselves we must address
a solemn preamble, begging them not to treat the world as if they were
children, or compel the legislator to expose them, and to show men that
the poisoner who is not a physician and the wizard who is not a prophet
or diviner are equally ignorant of what they are doing. Let the law be
as follows:--He who by the use of poison does any injury not fatal to
a man or his servants, or any injury whether fatal or not to another's
cattle or bees, is to be punished with death if he be a physician, and
if he be not a physician he is to suffer the punishment awarded by the
court: and he who injures another by sorcery, if he be a diviner or
prophet, shall be put to death; and, if he be not a diviner, the court
shall determine what he ought to pay or suffer.

Any one who injures another by theft or violence shall pay damages at
least equal to the injury; and besides the compensation, a suitable
punishment shall be inflicted. The foolish youth who is the victim of
others is to have a lighter punishment; he whose folly is occasioned
by his own jealousy or desire or anger is to suffer more heavily.
Punishment is to be inflicted, not for the sake of vengeance, for
what is done cannot be undone, but for the sake of prevention and
reformation. And there should be a proportion between the punishment and
the crime, in which the judge, having a discretion left him, must,
by estimating the crime, second the legislator, who, like a painter,
furnishes outlines for him to fill up.

A madman is not to go about at large in the city, but is to be taken
care of by his relatives. Neglect on their part is to be punished in the
first class by a fine of a hundred drachmas, and proportionally in
the others. Now madness is of various kinds; in addition to that
which arises from disease there is the madness which originates in a
passionate temperament, and makes men when engaged in a quarrel use
foul and abusive language against each other. This is intolerable in a
well-ordered state; and therefore our law shall be as follows:--No one
is to speak evil of another, but when men differ in opinion they are to
instruct one another without speaking evil. Nor should any one seek
to rouse the passions which education has calmed; for he who feeds and
nurses his wrath is apt to make ribald jests at his opponent, with a
loss of character or dignity to himself. And for this reason no one may
use any abusive word in a temple, or at sacrifices, or games, or in
any public assembly, and he who offends shall be censured by the proper
magistrate; and the magistrate, if he fail to censure him, shall not
claim the prize of virtue. In any other place the angry man who indulges
in revilings, whether he be the beginner or not, may be chastised by an
elder. The reviler is always trying to make his opponent ridiculous; and
the use of ridicule in anger we cannot allow. We forbid the comic poet
to ridicule our citizens, under a penalty of expulsion from the country
or a fine of three minae. Jest in which there is no offence may be
allowed; but the question of offence shall be determined by the director
of education, who is to be the licenser of theatrical performances.

The righteous man who is in adversity will not be allowed to starve in a
well-ordered city; he will never be a beggar. Nor is a man to be pitied,
merely because he is hungry, unless he be temperate. Therefore let the
law be as follows:--Let there be no beggars in our state; and he who
begs shall be expelled by the magistrates both from town and country.

If a slave, male or female, does any harm to the property of another,
who is not himself a party to the harm, the master shall compensate the
injury or give up the offending slave. But if the master argue that the
charge has arisen by collusion, with the view of obtaining the slave,
he may put the plaintiff on his trial for malpractices, and recover from
him twice the value of the slave; or if he is cast he must make good
the damage and deliver up the slave. The injury done by a horse or other
animal shall be compensated in like manner.

A witness who will not come of himself may be summoned, and if he fail
in appearing, he shall be liable for any harm which may ensue: if he
swears that he does not know, he may leave the court. A judge who is
called upon as a witness must not vote. A free woman, if she is over
forty, may bear witness and plead, and, if she have no husband, she may
also bring an action. A slave, male or female, and a child may witness
and plead only in case of murder, but they must give sureties that they
will appear at the trial, if they should be charged with false witness.
Such charges must be made pending the trial, and the accusations shall
be sealed by both parties and kept by the magistrates until the trial
for perjury comes off. If a man is twice convicted of perjury, he is not
to be required, if three times, he is not to be allowed to bear witness,
or, if he persists in bearing witness, is to be punished with death.
When more than half the evidence is proved to be false there must be a
new trial.

The best and noblest things in human life are liable to be defiled and
perverted. Is not justice the civilizer of mankind? And yet upon the
noble profession of the advocate has come an evil name. For he is said
to make the worse appear the better cause, and only requires money
in return for his services. Such an art will be forbidden by the
legislator, and if existing among us will be requested to depart to
another city. To the disobedient let the voice of the law be heard
saying:--He who tries to pervert justice in the minds of the judges, or
to increase litigation, shall be brought before the supreme court. If he
does so from contentiousness, let him be silenced for a time, and, if
he offend again, put to death. If he have acted from a love of gain,
let him be sent out of the country if he be a foreigner, or if he be a
citizen let him be put to death.

BOOK XII. If a false message be taken to or brought from other states,
whether friendly or hostile, by ambassadors or heralds, they shall be
indicted for having dishonoured their sacred office, and, if convicted,
shall suffer a penalty.--Stealing is mean; robbery is shameless. Let no
man deceive himself by the supposed example of the Gods, for no God or
son of a God ever really practised either force or fraud. On this point
the legislator is better informed than all the poets put together. He
who listens to him shall be for ever happy, but he who will not listen
shall have the following law directed against him:--He who steals much,
or he who steals little of the public property is deserving of the same
penalty; for they are both impelled by the same evil motive. When the
law punishes one man more lightly than another, this is done under the
idea, not that he is less guilty, but that he is more curable. Now a
thief who is a foreigner or slave may be curable; but the thief who is
a citizen, and has had the advantages of education, should be put to
death, for he is incurable.

Much consideration and many regulations are necessary about military
expeditions; the great principal of all is that no one, male or
female, in war or peace, in great matters or small, shall be without a
commander. Whether men stand or walk, or drill, or pursue, or retreat,
or wash, or eat, they should all act together and in obedience to
orders. We should practise from our youth upwards the habits of command
and obedience. All dances, relaxations, endurances of meats and drinks,
of cold and heat, and of hard couches, should have a view to war, and
care should be taken not to destroy the natural covering and use of the
head and feet by wearing shoes and caps; for the head is the lord of
the body, and the feet are the best of servants. The soldier should have
thoughts like these; and let him hear the law:--He who is enrolled shall
serve, and if he absent himself without leave he shall be indicted for
failure of service before his own branch of the army when the expedition
returns, and if he be found guilty he shall suffer the penalty which the
courts award, and never be allowed to contend for any prize of valour,
or to accuse another of misbehaviour in military matters. Desertion
shall also be tried and punished in the same manner. After the courts
for trying failure of service and desertion have been held, the generals
shall hold another court, in which the several arms of the service will
award prizes for the expedition which has just concluded. The prize is
to be a crown of olive, which the victor shall offer up at the temple
of his favourite war God...In any suit which a man brings, let the
indictment be scrupulously true, for justice is an honourable maiden,
to whom falsehood is naturally hateful. For example, when men are
prosecuted for having lost their arms, great care should be taken by the
witnesses to distinguish between cases in which they have been lost from
necessity and from cowardice. If the hero Patroclus had not been killed
but had been brought back alive from the field, he might have been
reproached with having lost the divine armour. And a man may lose
his arms in a storm at sea, or from a fall, and under many other
circumstances. There is a distinction of language to be observed in the
use of the two terms, 'thrower away of a shield' (ripsaspis), and 'loser
of arms' (apoboleus oplon), one being the voluntary, the other the
involuntary relinquishment of them. Let the law then be as follows:--If
any one is overtaken by the enemy, having arms in his hands, and he
leaves them behind him voluntarily, choosing base life instead of
honourable death, let justice be done. The old legend of Caeneus, who
was changed by Poseidon from a woman into a man, may teach by contraries
the appropriate punishment. Let the thrower away of his shield be
changed from a man into a woman--that is to say, let him be all his life
out of danger, and never again be admitted by any commander into the
ranks of his army; and let him pay a heavy fine according to his class.
And any commander who permits him to serve shall also be punished by a

All magistrates, whatever be their tenure of office, must give an
account of their magistracy. But where shall we find the magistrate who
is worthy to supervise them or look into their short-comings and crooked
ways? The examiner must be more than man who is sufficient for these
things. For the truth is that there are many causes of the dissolution
of states; which, like ships or animals, have their cords, and girders,
and sinews easily relaxed, and nothing tends more to their welfare and
preservation than the supervision of them by examiners who are better
than the magistrates; failing in this they fall to pieces, and each
becomes many instead of one. Wherefore let the people meet after the
summer solstice, in the precincts of Apollo and the Sun, and appoint
three men of not less than fifty years of age. They shall proceed as
follows:--Each citizen shall select some one, not himself, whom he
thinks the best. The persons selected shall be reduced to one half, who
have the greatest number of votes, if they are an even number; but if an
odd number, he who has the smallest number of votes shall be previously
withdrawn. The voting shall continue in the same manner until three only
remain; and if the number of votes cast for them be equal, a distinction
between the first, second, and third shall be made by lot. The three
shall be crowned with an olive wreath, and proclamation made, that the
city of the Magnetes, once more preserved by the Gods, presents her
three best men to Apollo and the Sun, to whom she dedicates them as long
as their lives answer to the judgment formed of them. They shall choose
in the first year of their office twelve examiners, to continue until
they are seventy-five years of age; afterwards three shall be added
annually. While they hold office, they shall dwell within the precinct
of the God. They are to divide all the magistracies into twelve classes,
and may apply any methods of enquiry, and inflict any punishments which
they please; in some cases singly, in other cases together, announcing
the acquittal or punishment of the magistrate on a tablet which they
will place in the agora. A magistrate who has been condemned by the
examiners may appeal to the select judges, and, if he gain his suit,
may in turn prosecute the examiners; but if the appellant is cast,
his punishment shall be doubled, unless he was previously condemned to

And what honours shall be paid to these examiners, whom the whole state
counts worthy of the rewards of virtue? They shall have the first place
at all sacrifices and other ceremonies, and in all assemblies and
public places; they shall go on sacred embassies, and have the exclusive
privilege of wearing a crown of laurel. They are priests of Apollo
and the Sun, and he of their number who is judged first shall be high
priest, and give his name to the year. The manner of their burial, too,
shall be different from that of the other citizens. The colour of their
funeral array shall be white, and, instead of the voice of lamentation,
around the bier shall stand a chorus of fifteen boys and fifteen
maidens, chanting hymns in honour of the deceased in alternate strains
during an entire day; and at dawn a band of a hundred youths shall carry
the bier to the grave, marching in the garb of warriors, and the boys in
front of the bier shall sing their national hymn, while the maidens and
women past child-bearing follow after. Priests and priestesses may also
follow, unless the Pythian oracle forbids. The sepulchre shall be a
vault built underground, which will last for ever, having couches of
stone placed side by side; on one of these they shall lay the departed
saint, and then cover the tomb with a mound, and plant trees on every
side except one, where an opening shall be left for other interments.
Every year there shall be games--musical, gymnastic, or equestrian, in
honour of those who have passed every ordeal. But if any of them, after
having been acquitted on any occasion, begin to show the wickedness
of human nature, he who pleases may bring them to trial before a court
composed of the guardians of the law, and of the select judges, and
of any of the examiners who are alive. If he be convicted he shall be
deprived of his honours, and if the accuser do not obtain a fifth part
of the votes, he shall pay a fine according to his class.

What is called the judgment of Rhadamanthus is suited to 'ages of
faith,' but not to our days. He knew that his contemporaries believed
in the Gods, for many of them were the sons of Gods; and he thought that
the easiest and surest method of ending litigation was to commit the
decision to Heaven. In our own day, men either deny the existence
of Gods or their care of men, or maintain that they may be bribed by
attentions and gifts; and the procedure of Rhadamanthus would therefore
be out of date. When the religious ideas of mankind change, their laws
should also change. Thus oaths should no longer be taken from plaintiff
and defendant; simple statements of affirmation and denial should be
substituted. For there is something dreadful in the thought, that nearly
half the citizens of a state are perjured men. There is no objection
to an oath, where a man has no interest in forswearing himself; as, for
example, when a judge is about to give his decision, or in voting at
an election, or in the judgment of games and contests. But where
there would be a premium on perjury, oaths and imprecations should be
prohibited as irrelevant, like appeals to feeling. Let the principles of
justice be learned and taught without words of evil omen. The oaths of
a stranger against a stranger may be allowed, because strangers are not
permitted to become permanent residents in our state.

Trials in private causes are to be decided in the same manner as lesser
offences against the state. The non-attendance at a chorus or sacrifice,
or the omission to pay a war-tax, may be regarded as in the first
instance remediable, and the defaulter may give security; but if he
forfeits the security, the goods pledged shall be sold and the money
given to the state. And for obstinate disobedience, the magistrate shall
have the power of inflicting greater penalties.

A city which is without trade or commerce must consider what it will do
about the going abroad of its own people and the admission of strangers.
For out of intercourse with strangers there arises great confusion of
manners, which in most states is not of any consequence, because the
confusion exists already; but in a well-ordered state it may be a great
evil. Yet the absolute prohibition of foreign travel, or the exclusion
of strangers, is impossible, and would appear barbarous to the rest of
mankind. Public opinion should never be lightly regarded, for the many
are not so far wrong in their judgments as in their lives. Even the
worst of men have often a divine instinct, which enables them to judge
of the differences between the good and bad. States are rightly advised
when they desire to have the praise of men; and the greatest and truest
praise is that of virtue. And our Cretan colony should, and probably
will, have a character for virtue, such as few cities have. Let
this, then, be our law about foreign travel and the reception of
strangers:--No one shall be allowed to leave the country who is under
forty years of age--of course military service abroad is not included in
this regulation--and no one at all except in a public capacity. To the
Olympic, and Pythian, and Nemean, and Isthmian games, shall be sent the
fairest and best and bravest, who shall support the dignity of the city
in time of peace. These, when they come home, shall teach the youth the
inferiority of all other governments. Besides those who go on sacred
missions, other persons shall be sent out by permission of the guardians
to study the institutions of foreign countries. For a people which has
no experience, and no knowledge of the characters of men or the reason
of things, but lives by habit only, can never be perfectly civilized.
Moreover, in all states, bad as well as good, there are holy and
inspired men; these the citizen of a well-ordered city should be ever
seeking out; he should go forth to find them over sea and over land,
that he may more firmly establish institutions in his own state which
are good already and amend the bad. 'What will be the best way of
accomplishing such an object?' In the first place, let the visitor of
foreign countries be between fifty and sixty years of age, and let him
be a citizen of repute, especially in military matters. On his return
he shall appear before the Nocturnal Council: this is a body which sits
from dawn to sunrise, and includes amongst its members the priests who
have gained the prize of virtue, and the ten oldest guardians of the
law, and the director and past directors of education; each of whom has
power to bring with him a younger friend of his own selection, who is
between thirty and forty. The assembly thus constituted shall consider
the laws of their own and other states, and gather information relating
to them. Anything of the sort which is approved by the elder members of
the council shall be studied with all diligence by the younger; who are
to be specially watched by the rest of the citizens, and shall receive
honour, if they are deserving of honour, or dishonour, if they prove
inferior. This is the assembly to which the visitor of foreign countries
shall come and tell anything which he has heard from others in the
course of his travels, or which he has himself observed. If he be made
neither better nor worse, let him at least be praised for his zeal; and
let him receive still more praise, and special honour after death, if
he be improved. But if he be deteriorated by his travels, let him be
prohibited from speaking to any one; and if he submit, he may live as
a private individual: but if he be convicted of attempting to make
innovations in education and the laws, let him die.

Next, as to the reception of strangers. Of these there are four
classes:--First, merchants, who, like birds of passage, find their way
over the sea at a certain time of the year, that they may exhibit their
wares. These should be received in markets and public buildings without
the city, by proper officers, who shall see that justice is done them,
and shall also watch against any political designs which they may
entertain; no more intercourse is to be held with them than is
absolutely necessary. Secondly, there are the visitors at the festivals,
who shall be entertained by hospitable persons at the temples for a
reasonable time; the priests and ministers of the temples shall have
a care of them. In small suits brought by them or against them, the
priests shall be the judges; but in the more important, the wardens of
the agora. Thirdly, there are ambassadors of foreign states; these are
to be honourably received by the generals and commanders, and placed
under the care of the Prytanes and of the persons with whom they are
lodged. Fourthly, there is the philosophical stranger, who, like our
own spectators, from time to time goes to see what is rich and rare in
foreign countries. Like them he must be fifty years of age: and let him
go unbidden to the doors of the wise and rich, that he may learn from
them, and they from him.

These are the rules of missions into foreign countries, and of the
reception of strangers. Let Zeus, the God of hospitality, be honoured;
and let not the stranger be excluded, as in Egypt, from meals and
sacrifices, or, (as at Sparta,) driven away by savage proclamations.

Let guarantees be clearly given in writing and before witnesses. The
number of witnesses shall be three when the sum lent is under a thousand
drachmas, or five when above. The agent and principal at a fraudulent
sale shall be equally liable. He who would search another man's house
for anything must swear that he expects to find it there; and he shall
enter naked, or having on a single garment and no girdle. The owner
shall place at the disposal of the searcher all his goods, sealed as
well as unsealed; if he refuse, he shall be liable in double the value
of the property, if it shall prove to be in his possession. If the owner
be absent, the searcher may counter-seal the property which is under
seal, and place watchers. If the owner remain absent more than five
days, the searcher shall take the magistrates, and open the sealed
property, and seal it up again in their presence. The recovery of goods
disputed, except in the case of lands and houses, (about which there
can be no dispute in our state), is to be barred by time. The public and
unimpeached use of anything for a year in the city, or for five years in
the country, or the private possession and domestic use for three years
in the city, or for ten years in the country, is to give a right of
ownership. But if the possessor have the property in a foreign country,
there shall be no bar as to time. The proceedings of any trial are to
be void, in which either the parties or the witnesses, whether bond or
free, have been prevented by violence from attending:--if a slave be
prevented, the suit shall be invalid; or if a freeman, he who is guilty
of the violence shall be imprisoned for a year, and shall also be liable
to an action for kidnapping. If one competitor forcibly prevents another
from attending at the games, the other may be inscribed as victor in
the temples, and the first, whether victor or not, shall be liable to an
action for damages. The receiver of stolen goods shall undergo the same
punishment as the thief. The receiver of an exile shall be punished with
death. A man ought to have the same friends and enemies as his country;
and he who makes war or peace for himself shall be put to death. And if
a party in the state make war or peace, their leaders shall be indicted
by the generals, and, if convicted, they shall be put to death. The
ministers and officers of a country ought not to receive gifts, even as
the reward of good deeds. He who disobeys shall die.

With a view to taxation a man should have his property and income
valued: and the government may, at their discretion, levy the tax upon
the annual return, or take a portion of the whole.

The good man will offer moderate gifts to the Gods; his land or hearth
cannot be offered, because they are already consecrated to all Gods.
Gold and silver, which arouse envy, and ivory, which is taken from the
dead body of an animal, are unsuitable offerings; iron and brass are
materials of war. Wood and stone of a single piece may be offered; also
woven work which has not occupied one woman more than a month in making.
White is a colour which is acceptable to the Gods; figures of birds and
similar offerings are the best of gifts, but they must be such as the
painter can execute in a day.

Next concerning lawsuits. Judges, or rather arbiters, may be agreed
upon by the plaintiff and defendant; and if no decision is obtained from
them, their fellow-tribesmen shall judge. At this stage there shall be
an increase of the penalty: the defendant, if he be cast, shall pay a
fifth more than the damages claimed. If he further persist, and appeal
a second time, the case shall be heard before the select judges; and
he shall pay, if defeated, the penalty and half as much again. And the
pursuer, if on the first appeal he is defeated, shall pay one fifth
of the damages claimed by him; and if on the second, one half. Other
matters relating to trials, such as the assignment of judges to courts,
the times of sitting, the number of judges, the modes of pleading
and procedure, as we have already said, may be determined by younger

These are to be the rules of private courts. As regards public courts,
many states have excellent modes of procedure which may serve for
models; these, when duly tested by experience, should be ratified and
made permanent by us.

Let the judge be accomplished in the laws. He should possess writings
about them, and make a study of them; for laws are the highest
instrument of mental improvement, and derive their name from mind (nous,
nomos). They afford a measure of all censure and praise, whether in
verse or prose, in conversation or in books, and are an antidote to the
vain disputes of men and their equally vain acquiescence in each other's
opinions. The just judge, who imbibes their spirit, makes the city and
himself to stand upright. He establishes justice for the good, and cures
the tempers of the bad, if they can be cured; but denounces death, which
is the only remedy, to the incurable, the threads of whose life cannot
be reversed.

When the suits of the year are completed, execution is to follow. The
court is to award to the plaintiff the property of the defendant, if he
is cast, reserving to him only his lot of land. If the plaintiff is
not satisfied within a month, the court shall put into his hands the
property of the defendant. If the defendant fails in payment to the
amount of a drachma, he shall lose the use and protection of the court;
or if he rebel against the authority of the court, he shall be brought
before the guardians of the law, and if found guilty he shall be put to

Man having been born, educated, having begotten and brought up children,
and gone to law, fulfils the debt of nature. The rites which are to be
celebrated after death in honour of the Gods above and below shall be
determined by the Interpreters. The dead shall be buried in uncultivated
places, where they will be out of the way and do least injury to the
living. For no one either in life or after death has any right to
deprive other men of the sustenance which mother earth provides for
them. No sepulchral mound is to be piled higher than five men can
raise it in five days, and the grave-stone shall not be larger than is
sufficient to contain an inscription of four heroic verses. The dead
are only to be exposed for three days, which is long enough to test the
reality of death. The legislator will instruct the people that the body
is a mere shadow or image, and that the soul, which is our true being,
is gone to give an account of herself before the Gods below. When they
hear this, the good are full of hope, and the evil are terrified. It
is also said that not much can be done for any one after death. And
therefore while in life all man should be helped by their kindred to
pass their days justly and holily, that they may depart in peace. When
a man loses a son or a brother, he should consider that the beloved one
has gone away to fulfil his destiny in another place, and should not
waste money over his lifeless remains. Let the law then order a moderate
funeral of five minae for the first class, of three for the second, of
two for the third, of one for the fourth. One of the guardians of the
law, to be selected by the relatives, shall assist them in arranging
the affairs of the deceased. There would be a want of delicacy in
prescribing that there should or should not be mourning for the dead.
But, at any rate, such mourning is to be confined to the house; there
must be no processions in the streets, and the dead body shall be taken
out of the city before daybreak. Regulations about other forms of burial
and about the non-burial of parricides and other sacrilegious persons
have already been laid down. The work of legislation is therefore nearly
completed; its end will be finally accomplished when we have provided
for the continuance of the state.

Do you remember the names of the Fates? Lachesis, the giver of the lots,
is the first of them; Clotho, the spinster, the second; Atropos, the
unchanging one, is the third and last, who makes the threads of the web
irreversible. And we too want to make our laws irreversible, for the
unchangeable quality in them will be the salvation of the state, and the
source of health and order in the bodies and souls of our citizens. 'But
can such a quality be implanted?' I think that it may; and at any rate
we must try; for, after all our labour, to have been piling up a fabric
which has no foundation would be too ridiculous. 'What foundation would
you lay?' We have already instituted an assembly which was composed
of the ten oldest guardians of the law, and secondly, of those who had
received prizes of virtue, and thirdly, of the travellers who had gone
abroad to enquire into the laws of other countries. Moreover, each of
the members was to choose a young man, of not less than thirty years of
age, to be approved by the rest; and they were to meet at dawn, when all
the world is at leisure. This assembly will be an anchor to the vessel
of state, and provide the means of permanence; for the constitutions of
states, like all other things, have their proper saviours, which are to
them what the head and soul are to the living being. 'How do you mean?'
Mind in the soul, and sight and hearing in the head, or rather, the
perfect union of mind and sense, may be justly called every man's
salvation. 'Certainly.' Yes; but of what nature is this union? In the
case of a ship, for example, the senses of the sailors are added to the
intelligence of the pilot, and the two together save the ship and
the men in the ship. Again, the physician and the general have their
objects; and the object of the one is health, of the other victory.
States, too, have their objects, and the ruler must understand, first,
their nature, and secondly, the means of attaining them, whether in laws
or men. The state which is wanting in this knowledge cannot be
expected to be wise when the time for action arrives. Now what class
or institution is there in our state which has such a saving power? 'I
suspect that you are referring to the Nocturnal Council.' Yes, to that
council which is to have all virtue, and which should aim directly at
the mark. 'Very true.' The inconsistency of legislation in most states
is not surprising, when the variety of their objects is considered. One
of them makes their rule of justice the government of a class; another
aims at wealth; another at freedom, or at freedom and power; and some
who call themselves philosophers maintain that you should seek for all
of them at once. But our object is unmistakeably virtue, and virtue is
of four kinds. 'Yes; and we said that mind is the chief and ruler of the
three other kinds of virtue and of all else.' True, Cleinias; and now,
having already declared the object which is present to the mind of the
pilot, the general, the physician, we will interrogate the mind of the
statesman. Tell me, I say, as the physician and general have told us
their object, what is the object of the statesman. Can you tell me? 'We
cannot.' Did we not say that there are four virtues--courage, wisdom,
and two others, all of which are called by the common name of virtue,
and are in a sense one? 'Certainly we did.' The difficulty is, not in
understanding the differences of the virtues, but in apprehending their
unity. Why do we call virtue, which is a single thing, by the two names
of wisdom and courage? The reason is that courage is concerned with
fear, and is found both in children and in brutes; for the soul may
be courageous without reason, but no soul was, or ever will be, wise
without reason. 'That is true.' I have explained to you the difference,
and do you in return explain to me the unity. But first let us consider
whether any one who knows the name of a thing without the definition has
any real knowledge of it. Is not such knowledge a disgrace to a man of
sense, especially where great and glorious truths are concerned? and can
any subject be more worthy of the attention of our legislators than the
four virtues of which we are speaking--courage, temperance, justice,
wisdom? Ought not the magistrates and officers of the state to instruct
the citizens in the nature of virtue and vice, instead of leaving them
to be taught by some chance poet or sophist? A city which is without
instruction suffers the usual fate of cities in our day. What then shall
we do? How shall we perfect the ideas of our guardians about virtue? how
shall we give our state a head and eyes? 'Yes, but how do you apply the
figure?' The city will be the body or trunk; the best of our young men
will mount into the head or acropolis and be our eyes; they will look
about them, and inform the elders, who are the mind and use the younger
men as their instruments: together they will save the state. Shall this
be our constitution, or shall all be educated alike, and the special
training be given up? 'That is impossible.' Let us then endeavour to
attain to some more exact idea of education. Did we not say that the
true artist or guardian ought to have an eye, not only to the many, but
to the one, and to order all things with a view to the one? Can there be
any more philosophical speculation than how to reduce many things which
are unlike to one idea? 'Perhaps not.' Say rather, 'Certainly not.' And
the rulers of our divine state ought to have an exact knowledge of
the common principle in courage, temperance, justice, wisdom, which is
called by the name of virtue; and unless we know whether virtue is one
or many, we shall hardly know what virtue is. Shall we contrive some
means of engrafting this knowledge on our state, or give the matter up?
'Anything rather than that.' Let us begin by making an agreement. 'By
all means, if we can.' Well, are we not agreed that our guardians ought
to know, not only how the good and the honourable are many, but also how
they are one? 'Yes, certainly.' The true guardian of the laws ought to
know their truth, and should also be able to interpret and execute them?
'He should.' And is there any higher knowledge than the knowledge of the
existence and power of the Gods? The people may be excused for following
tradition; but the guardian must be able to give a reason of the faith
which is in him. And there are two great evidences of religion--the
priority of the soul and the order of the heavens. For no man of
sense, when he contemplates the universe, will be likely to substitute
necessity for reason and will. Those who maintain that the sun and the
stars are inanimate beings are utterly wrong in their opinions. The
men of a former generation had a suspicion, which has been confirmed
by later thinkers, that things inanimate could never without mind have
attained such scientific accuracy; and some (Anaxagoras) even in those
days ventured to assert that mind had ordered all things in heaven; but
they had no idea of the priority of mind, and they turned the world,
or more properly themselves, upside down, and filled the universe
with stones, and earth, and other inanimate bodies. This led to
great impiety, and the poets said many foolish things against the
philosophers, whom they compared to 'yelping she-dogs,' besides making
other abusive remarks. No man can now truly worship the Gods who does
not believe that the soul is eternal, and prior to the body, and the
ruler of all bodies, and does not perceive also that there is mind
in the stars; or who has not heard the connexion of these things with
music, and has not harmonized them with manners and laws, giving a
reason of things which are matters of reason. He who is unable to
acquire this knowledge, as well as the ordinary virtues of a citizen,
can only be a servant, and not a ruler in the state.

Let us then add another law to the effect that the Nocturnal Council
shall be a guard set for the salvation of the state. 'Very good.' To
establish this will be our aim, and I hope that others besides myself
will assist. 'Let us proceed along the road in which God seems to guide
us.' We cannot, Megillus and Cleinias, anticipate the details which will
hereafter be needed; they must be supplied by experience. 'What do you
mean?' First of all a register will have to be made of all those whose
age, character, or education would qualify them to be guardians. The
subjects which they are to learn, and the order in which they are to
be learnt, are mysteries which cannot be explained beforehand, but not
mysteries in any other sense. 'If that is the case, what is to be done?'
We must stake our all on a lucky throw, and I will share the risk by
stating my views on education. And I would have you, Cleinias, who are
the founder of the Magnesian state, and will obtain the greatest glory
if you succeed, and will at least be praised for your courage, if you
fail, take especial heed of this matter. If we can only establish the
Nocturnal Council, we will hand over the city to its keeping; none of
the present company will hesitate about that. Our dream will then become
a reality; and our citizens, if they are carefully chosen and well
educated, will be saviours and guardians such as the world hitherto has
never seen.

The want of completeness in the Laws becomes more apparent in the later
books. There is less arrangement in them, and the transitions are more
abrupt from one subject to another. Yet they contain several noble
passages, such as the 'prelude to the discourse concerning the honour
and dishonour of parents,' or the picture of the dangers attending the
'friendly intercourse of young men and maidens with one another,' or the
soothing remonstrance which is addressed to the dying man respecting his
right to do what he will with his own, or the fine description of the
burial of the dead. The subject of religion in Book X is introduced as
a prelude to offences against the Gods, and this portion of the work
appears to be executed in Plato's best manner.

In the last four books, several questions occur for consideration: among
them are (I) the detection and punishment of offences; (II) the nature
of the voluntary and involuntary; (III) the arguments against atheism,
and against the opinion that the Gods have no care of human affairs;
(IV) the remarks upon retail trade; (V) the institution of the Nocturnal

I. A weak point in the Laws of Plato is the amount of inquisition into
private life which is to be made by the rulers. The magistrate is
always watching and waylaying the citizens. He is constantly to receive
information against improprieties of life. Plato does not seem to be
aware that espionage can only have a negative effect. He has not yet
discovered the boundary line which parts the domain of law from that of
morality or social life. Men will not tell of one another; nor will
he ever be the most honoured citizen, who gives the most frequent
information about offenders to the magistrates.

As in some writers of fiction, so also in philosophers, we may observe
the effect of age. Plato becomes more conservative as he grows older,
and he would govern the world entirely by men like himself, who are
above fifty years of age; for in them he hopes to find a principle of
stability. He does not remark that, in destroying the freedom he is
destroying also the life of the State. In reducing all the citizens to
rule and measure, he would have been depriving the Magnesian colony of
those great men 'whose acquaintance is beyond all price;' and he would
have found that in the worst-governed Hellenic State, there was more of
a carriere ouverte for extraordinary genius and virtue than in his own.

Plato has an evident dislike of the Athenian dicasteries; he prefers a
few judges who take a leading part in the conduct of trials to a great
number who only listen in silence. He allows of two appeals--in each
case however with an increase of the penalty. Modern jurists would
disapprove of the redress of injustice being purchased only at an
increasing risk; though indirectly the burden of legal expenses, which
seems to have been little felt among the Athenians, has a similar
effect. The love of litigation, which is a remnant of barbarism quite
as much as a corruption of civilization, and was innate in the Athenian
people, is diminished in the new state by the imposition of severe
penalties. If persevered in, it is to be punished with death.

In the Laws murder and homicide besides being crimes, are also
pollutions. Regarded from this point of view, the estimate of such
offences is apt to depend on accidental circumstances, such as the
shedding of blood, and not on the real guilt of the offender or the
injury done to society. They are measured by the horror which they
arouse in a barbarous age. For there is a superstition in law as well as
in religion, and the feelings of a primitive age have a traditional hold
on the mass of the people. On the other hand, Plato is innocent of the
barbarity which would visit the sins of the fathers upon the children,
and he is quite aware that punishment has an eye to the future, and not
to the past. Compared with that of most European nations in the last
century his penal code, though sometimes capricious, is reasonable and

A defect in Plato's criminal jurisprudence is his remission of the
punishment when the homicide has obtained the forgiveness of the
murdered person; as if crime were a personal affair between
individuals, and not an offence against the State. There is a ridiculous
disproportion in his punishments. Because a slave may fairly receive
a blow for stealing one fig or one bunch of grapes, or a tradesman for
selling adulterated goods to the value of one drachma, it is rather
hard upon the slave that he should receive as many blows as he has taken
grapes or figs, or upon the tradesman who has sold adulterated goods
to the value of a thousand drachmas that he should receive a thousand

II. But before punishment can be inflicted at all, the legislator
must determine the nature of the voluntary and involuntary. The great
question of the freedom of the will, which in modern times has been worn
threadbare with purely abstract discussion, was approached both by Plato
and Aristotle--first, from the judicial; secondly, from the sophistical
point of view. They were puzzled by the degrees and kinds of crime; they
observed also that the law only punished hurts which are inflicted by a
voluntary agent on an involuntary patient.

In attempting to distinguish between hurt and injury, Plato says that
mere hurt is not injury; but that a benefit when done in a wrong spirit
may sometimes injure, e.g. when conferred without regard to right and
wrong, or to the good or evil consequences which may follow. He means
to say that the good or evil disposition of the agent is the principle
which characterizes actions; and this is not sufficiently described by
the terms voluntary and involuntary. You may hurt another involuntarily,
and no one would suppose that you had injured him; and you may hurt him
voluntarily, as in inflicting punishment--neither is this injury; but if
you hurt him from motives of avarice, ambition, or cowardly fear, this
is injury. Injustice is also described as the victory of desire or
passion or self-conceit over reason, as justice is the subordination of
them to reason. In some paradoxical sense Plato is disposed to affirm
all injustice to be involuntary; because no man would do injustice who
knew that it never paid and could calculate the consequences of what
he was doing. Yet, on the other hand, he admits that the distinction of
voluntary and involuntary, taken in another and more obvious sense, is
the basis of legislation. His conception of justice and injustice is
complicated (1) by the want of a distinction between justice and virtue,
that is to say, between the quality which primarily regards others, and
the quality in which self and others are equally regarded; (2) by the
confusion of doing and suffering justice; (3) by the unwillingness to
renounce the old Socratic paradox, that evil is involuntary.

III. The Laws rest on a religious foundation; in this respect they
bear the stamp of primitive legislation. They do not escape the almost
inevitable consequence of making irreligion penal. If laws are based
upon religion, the greatest offence against them must be irreligion.
Hence the necessity for what in modern language, and according to a
distinction which Plato would scarcely have understood, might be termed
persecution. But the spirit of persecution in Plato, unlike that of
modern religious bodies, arises out of the desire to enforce a true and
simple form of religion, and is directed against the superstitions which
tend to degrade mankind. Sir Thomas More, in his Utopia, is in favour
of tolerating all except the intolerant, though he would not promote to
high offices those who disbelieved in the immortality of the soul. Plato
has not advanced quite so far as this in the path of toleration. But
in judging of his enlightenment, we must remember that the evils of
necromancy and divination were far greater than those of intolerance in
the ancient world. Human nature is always having recourse to the first;
but only when organized into some form of priesthood falls into the
other; although in primitive as in later ages the institution of a
priesthood may claim probably to be an advance on some form of religion
which preceded. The Laws would have rested on a sounder foundation, if
Plato had ever distinctly realized to his mind the difference between
crime and sin or vice. Of this, as of many other controversies, a clear
definition might have been the end. But such a definition belongs to a
later age of philosophy.

The arguments which Plato uses for the being of a God, have an extremely
modern character: first, the consensus gentium; secondly, the argument
which has already been adduced in the Phaedrus, of the priority of the
self-moved. The answer to those who say that God 'cares not,' is, that
He governs by general laws; and that he who takes care of the great
will assuredly take care of the small. Plato did not feel, and has not
attempted to consider, the difficulty of reconciling the special with
the general providence of God. Yet he is on the road to a solution, when
he regards the world as a whole, of which all the parts work together
towards the final end.

We are surprised to find that the scepticism, which we attribute to
young men in our own day, existed then (compare Republic); that the
Epicureanism expressed in the line of Horace (borrowed from Lucretius)--

'Namque Deos didici securum agere aevum,'

was already prevalent in the age of Plato; and that the terrors of
another world were freely used in order to gain advantages over other
men in this. The same objection which struck the Psalmist--'when I saw
the prosperity of the wicked'--is supposed to lie at the root of the
better sort of unbelief. And the answer is substantially the same which
the modern theologian would offer:--that the ways of God in this world
cannot be justified unless there be a future state of rewards and
punishments. Yet this future state of rewards and punishments is in
Plato's view not any addition of happiness or suffering imposed from
without, but the permanence of good and evil in the soul: here he is in
advance of many modern theologians. The Greek, too, had his difficulty
about the existence of evil, which in one solitary passage, remarkable
for being inconsistent with his general system, Plato explains,
after the Magian fashion, by a good and evil spirit (compare Theaet.,
Statesman). This passage is also remarkable for being at variance with
the general optimism of the Tenth Book--not 'all things are ordered by
God for the best,' but some things by a good, others by an evil spirit.

The Tenth Book of the Laws presents a picture of the state of belief
among the Greeks singularly like that of the world in which we live.
Plato is disposed to attribute the incredulity of his own age to several
causes. First, to the bad effect of mythological tales, of which he
retains his disapproval; but he has a weak side for antiquity, and is
unwilling, as in the Republic, wholly to proscribe them. Secondly, he
remarks the self-conceit of a newly-fledged generation of philosophers,
who declare that the sun, moon, and stars, are earth and stones only;
and who also maintain that the Gods are made by the laws of the state.
Thirdly, he notes a confusion in the minds of men arising out of their
misinterpretation of the appearances of the world around them: they do
not always see the righteous rewarded and the wicked punished. So in
modern times there are some whose infidelity has arisen from doubts
about the inspiration of ancient writings; others who have been made
unbelievers by physical science, or again by the seemingly political
character of religion; while there is a third class to whose minds the
difficulty of 'justifying the ways of God to man' has been the chief
stumblingblock. Plato is very much out of temper at the impiety of some
of his contemporaries; yet he is determined to reason with the victims,
as he regards them, of these illusions before he punishes them. His
answer to the unbelievers is twofold: first, that the soul is prior to
the body; secondly, that the ruler of the universe being perfect has
made all things with a view to their perfection. The difficulties
arising out of ancient sacred writings were far less serious in the age
of Plato than in our own.

We too have our popular Epicureanism, which would allow the world to go
on as if there were no God. When the belief in Him, whether of ancient
or modern times, begins to fade away, men relegate Him, either in theory
or practice, into a distant heaven. They do not like expressly to deny
God when it is more convenient to forget Him; and so the theory of the
Epicurean becomes the practice of mankind in general. Nor can we be
said to be free from that which Plato justly considers to be the worst
unbelief--of those who put superstition in the place of true religion.
For the larger half of Christians continue to assert that the justice of
God may be turned aside by gifts, and, if not by the 'odour of fat, and
the sacrifice steaming to heaven,' still by another kind of
sacrifice placed upon the altar--by masses for the quick and dead, by
dispensations, by building churches, by rites and ceremonies--by the
same means which the heathen used, taking other names and shapes. And
the indifference of Epicureanism and unbelief is in two ways the parent
of superstition, partly because it permits, and also because it
creates, a necessity for its development in religious and enthusiastic
temperaments. If men cannot have a rational belief, they will have an
irrational. And hence the most superstitious countries are also at a
certain point of civilization the most unbelieving, and the revolution
which takes one direction is quickly followed by a reaction in the
other. So we may read 'between the lines' ancient history and philosophy
into modern, and modern into ancient. Whether we compare the theory of
Greek philosophy with the Christian religion, or the practice of the
Gentile world with the practice of the Christian world, they will be
found to differ more in words and less in reality than we might have
supposed. The greater opposition which is sometimes made between them
seems to arise chiefly out of a comparison of the ideal of the one with
the practice of the other.

To the errors of superstition and unbelief Plato opposes the simple and
natural truth of religion; the best and highest, whether conceived in
the form of a person or a principle--as the divine mind or as the idea
of good--is believed by him to be the basis of human life. That all
things are working together for good to the good and evil to the evil in
this or in some other world to which human actions are transferred, is
the sum of his faith or theology. Unlike Socrates, he is absolutely free
from superstition. Religion and morality are one and indivisible to him.
He dislikes the 'heathen mythology,' which, as he significantly remarks,
was not tolerated in Crete, and perhaps (for the meaning of his words
is not quite clear) at Sparta. He gives no encouragement to individual
enthusiasm; 'the establishment of religion could only be the work of a
mighty intellect.' Like the Hebrews, he prohibits private rites; for the
avoidance of superstition, he would transfer all worship of the Gods
to the public temples. He would not have men and women consecrating
the accidents of their lives. He trusts to human punishments and not to
divine judgments; though he is not unwilling to repeat the old tradition
that certain kinds of dishonesty 'prevent a man from having a family.'
He considers that the 'ages of faith' have passed away and cannot now
be recalled. Yet he is far from wishing to extirpate the sentiment of
religion, which he sees to be common to all mankind--Barbarians as well
as Hellenes. He remarks that no one passes through life without, sooner
or later, experiencing its power. To which we may add the further remark
that the greater the irreligion, the more violent has often been the
religious reaction.

It is remarkable that Plato's account of mind at the end of the Laws
goes beyond Anaxagoras, and beyond himself in any of his previous
writings. Aristotle, in a well-known passage (Met.) which is an echo of
the Phaedo, remarks on the inconsistency of Anaxagoras in introducing
the agency of mind, and yet having recourse to other and inferior,
probably material causes. But Plato makes the further criticism, that
the error of Anaxagoras consisted, not in denying the universal agency
of mind, but in denying the priority, or, as we should say, the eternity
of it. Yet in the Timaeus he had himself allowed that God made the world
out of pre-existing materials: in the Statesman he says that there were
seeds of evil in the world arising out of the remains of a former chaos
which could not be got rid of; and even in the Tenth Book of the Laws he
has admitted that there are two souls, a good and evil. In the Meno, the
Phaedrus, and the Phaedo, he had spoken of the recovery of ideas from a
former state of existence. But now he has attained to a clearer point of
view: he has discarded these fancies. From meditating on the priority of
the human soul to the body, he has learnt the nature of soul absolutely.
The power of the best, of which he gave an intimation in the Phaedo
and in the Republic, now, as in the Philebus, takes the form of an
intelligence or person. He no longer, like Anaxagoras, supposes mind to
be introduced at a certain time into the world and to give order to
a pre-existing chaos, but to be prior to the chaos, everlasting and
evermoving, and the source of order and intelligence in all things. This
appears to be the last form of Plato's religious philosophy, which might
almost be summed up in the words of Kant, 'the starry heaven above and
the moral law within.' Or rather, perhaps, 'the starry heaven above and
mind prior to the world.'

IV. The remarks about retail trade, about adulteration, and about
mendicity, have a very modern character. Greek social life was more
like our own than we are apt to suppose. There was the same division
of ranks, the same aristocratic and democratic feeling, and, even in a
democracy, the same preference for land and for agricultural pursuits.
Plato may be claimed as the first free trader, when he prohibits the
imposition of customs on imports and exports, though he was clearly
not aware of the importance of the principle which he enunciated. The
discredit of retail trade he attributes to the rogueries of traders,
and is inclined to believe that if a nobleman would keep a shop, which
heaven forbid! retail trade might become honourable. He has hardly
lighted upon the true reason, which appears to be the essential
distinction between buyers and sellers, the one class being necessarily
in some degree dependent on the other. When he proposes to fix prices
'which would allow a moderate gain,' and to regulate trade in several
minute particulars, we must remember that this is by no means so absurd
in a city consisting of 5040 citizens, in which almost every one would
know and become known to everybody else, as in our own vast population.
Among ourselves we are very far from allowing every man to charge what
he pleases. Of many things the prices are fixed by law. Do we not often
hear of wages being adjusted in proportion to the profits of employers?
The objection to regulating them by law and thus avoiding the conflicts
which continually arise between the buyers and sellers of labour, is not
so much the undesirableness as the impossibility of doing so. Wherever
free competition is not reconcileable either with the order of society,
or, as in the case of adulteration, with common honesty, the government
may lawfully interfere. The only question is,--Whether the interference
will be effectual, and whether the evil of interference may not be
greater than the evil which is prevented by it.

He would prohibit beggars, because in a well-ordered state no good man
would be left to starve. This again is a prohibition which might have
been easily enforced, for there is no difficulty in maintaining the
poor when the population is small. In our own times the difficulty of
pauperism is rendered far greater, (1) by the enormous numbers, (2) by
the facility of locomotion, (3) by the increasing tenderness for human
life and suffering. And the only way of meeting the difficulty seems
to be by modern nations subdividing themselves into small bodies having
local knowledge and acting together in the spirit of ancient communities
(compare Arist. Pol.)

V. Regarded as the framework of a polity the Laws are deemed by Plato to
be a decline from the Republic, which is the dream of his earlier years.
He nowhere imagines that he has reached a higher point of speculation.
He is only descending to the level of human things, and he often returns
to his original idea. For the guardians of the Republic, who were
the elder citizens, and were all supposed to be philosophers, is now
substituted a special body, who are to review and amend the laws,
preserving the spirit of the legislator. These are the Nocturnal
Council, who, although they are not specially trained in dialectic,
are not wholly destitute of it; for they must know the relation of
particular virtues to the general principle of virtue. Plato has been
arguing throughout the Laws that temperance is higher than courage,
peace than war, that the love of both must enter into the character of
the good citizen. And at the end the same thought is summed up by him in
an abstract form. The true artist or guardian must be able to reduce the
many to the one, than which, as he says with an enthusiasm worthy of the
Phaedrus or Philebus, 'no more philosophical method was ever devised
by the wit of man.' But the sense of unity in difference can only be
acquired by study; and Plato does not explain to us the nature of this
study, which we may reasonably infer, though there is a remarkable
omission of the word, to be akin to the dialectic of the Republic.

The Nocturnal Council is to consist of the priests who have obtained the
rewards of virtue, of the ten eldest guardians of the law, and of the
director and ex-directors of education; each of whom is to select for
approval a younger coadjutor. To this council the 'Spectator,' who is
sent to visit foreign countries, has to make his report. It is not
an administrative body, but an assembly of sages who are to make
legislation their study. Plato is not altogether disinclined to changes
in the law where experience shows them to be necessary; but he is also
anxious that the original spirit of the constitution should never be
lost sight of.

The Laws of Plato contain the latest phase of his philosophy, showing in
many respects an advance, and in others a decline, in his views of life
and the world. His Theory of Ideas in the next generation passed
into one of Numbers, the nature of which we gather chiefly from the
Metaphysics of Aristotle. Of the speculative side of this theory there
are no traces in the Laws, but doubtless Plato found the practical value
which he attributed to arithmetic greatly confirmed by the possibility
of applying number and measure to the revolution of the heavens, and
to the regulation of human life. In the return to a doctrine of numbers
there is a retrogression rather than an advance; for the most barren
logical abstraction is of a higher nature than number and figure.
Philosophy fades away into the distance; in the Laws it is confined to
the members of the Nocturnal Council. The speculative truth which was
the food of the guardians in the Republic, is for the majority of the
citizens to be superseded by practical virtues. The law, which is the
expression of mind written down, takes the place of the living word of
the philosopher. (Compare the contrast of Phaedrus, and Laws; also the
plays on the words nous, nomos, nou dianome; and the discussion in the
Statesman of the difference between the personal rule of a king and
the impersonal reign of law.) The State is based on virtue and religion
rather than on knowledge; and virtue is no longer identified with
knowledge, being of the commoner sort, and spoken of in the sense
generally understood. Yet there are many traces of advance as well as
retrogression in the Laws of Plato. The attempt to reconcile the ideal
with actual life is an advance; to 'have brought philosophy down from
heaven to earth,' is a praise which may be claimed for him as well as
for his master Socrates. And the members of the Nocturnal Council are
to continue students of the 'one in many' and of the nature of God.
Education is the last word with which Plato supposes the theory of the
Laws to end and the reality to begin.

Plato's increasing appreciation of the difficulties of human affairs,
and of the element of chance which so largely influences them, is an
indication not of a narrower, but of a maturer mind, which had become
more conversant with realities. Nor can we fairly attribute any want of
originality to him, because he has borrowed many of his provisions from
Sparta and Athens. Laws and institutions grow out of habits and customs;
and they have 'better opinion, better confirmation,' if they have come
down from antiquity and are not mere literary inventions. Plato would
have been the first to acknowledge that the Book of Laws was not the
creation of his fancy, but a collection of enactments which had been
devised by inspired legislators, like Minos, Lycurgus, and Solon,
to meet the actual needs of men, and had been approved by time and

In order to do justice therefore to the design of the work, it is
necessary to examine how far it rests on an historical foundation and
coincides with the actual laws of Sparta and Athens. The consideration
of the historical aspect of the Laws has been reserved for this place.
In working out the comparison the writer has been greatly assisted
by the excellent essays of C.F. Hermann ('De vestigiis institutorum
veterum, imprimis Atticorum, per Platonis de Legibus libros indagandis,'
and 'Juris domestici et familiaris apud Platonem in Legibus cum veteris
Graeciae inque primis Athenarum institutis comparatio': Marburg, 1836),
and by J.B. Telfy's 'Corpus Juris Attici' (Leipzig, 1868).


The Laws of Plato are essentially Greek: unlike Xenophon's Cyropaedia,
they contain nothing foreign or oriental. Their aim is to reconstruct
the work of the great lawgivers of Hellas in a literary form. They
partake both of an Athenian and a Spartan character. Some of them too
are derived from Crete, and are appropriately transferred to a Cretan
colony. But of Crete so little is known to us, that although, as
Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois) remarks, 'the Laws of Crete are the
original of those of Sparta and the Laws of Plato the correction of
these latter,' there is only one point, viz. the common meals, in which
they can be compared. Most of Plato's provisions resemble the laws and
customs which prevailed in these three states (especially in the two
former), and which the personifying instinct of the Greeks attributed
to Minos, Lycurgus, and Solon. A very few particulars may have been
borrowed from Zaleucus (Cic. de Legibus), and Charondas, who is said to
have first made laws against perjury (Arist. Pol.) and to have forbidden
credit (Stob. Florileg., Gaisford). Some enactments are Plato's own, and
were suggested by his experience of defects in the Athenian and other
Greek states. The Laws also contain many lesser provisions, which are
not found in the ordinary codes of nations, because they cannot be
properly defined, and are therefore better left to custom and common
sense. 'The greater part of the work,' as Aristotle remarks (Pol.), 'is
taken up with laws': yet this is not wholly true, and applies to the
latter rather than to the first half of it. The book rests on an ethical
and religious foundation: the actual laws begin with a hymn of praise
in honour of the soul. And the same lofty aspiration after the good
is perpetually recurring, especially in Books X, XI, XII, and whenever
Plato's mind is filled with his highest themes. In prefixing to most of
his laws a prooemium he has two ends in view, to persuade and also
to threaten. They are to have the sanction of laws and the effect of
sermons. And Plato's 'Book of Laws,' if described in the language of
modern philosophy, may be said to be as much an ethical and educational,
as a political or legal treatise.

But although the Laws partake both of an Athenian and a Spartan
character, the elements which are borrowed from either state are
necessarily very different, because the character and origin of the two
governments themselves differed so widely. Sparta was the more ancient
and primitive: Athens was suited to the wants of a later stage of
society. The relation of the two states to the Laws may be conceived
in this manner:--The foundation and ground-plan of the work are more
Spartan, while the superstructure and details are more Athenian. At
Athens the laws were written down and were voluminous; more than a
thousand fragments of them have been collected by Telfy. Like the Roman
or English law, they contained innumerable particulars. Those of them
which regulated daily life were familiarly known to the Athenians; for
every citizen was his own lawyer, and also a judge, who decided the
rights of his fellow-citizens according to the laws, often after hearing
speeches from the parties interested or from their advocates. It is to
Rome and not to Athens that the invention of law, in the modern sense
of the term, is commonly ascribed. But it must be remembered that long
before the times of the Twelve Tables (B.C. 451), regular courts and
forms of law had existed at Athens and probably in the Greek colonies.
And we may reasonably suppose, though without any express proof of the
fact, that many Roman institutions and customs, like Latin literature
and mythology, were partly derived from Hellas and had imperceptibly
drifted from one shore of the Ionian Sea to the other (compare
especially the constitutions of Servius Tullius and of Solon).

It is not proved that the laws of Sparta were in ancient times either
written down in books or engraved on tablets of marble or brass. Nor is
it certain that, if they had been, the Spartans could have read
them. They were ancient customs, some of them older probably than the
settlement in Laconia, of which the origin is unknown; they occasionally
received the sanction of the Delphic oracle, but there was a still
stronger obligation by which they were enforced,--the necessity of
self-defence: the Spartans were always living in the presence of their
enemies. They belonged to an age when written law had not yet taken
the place of custom and tradition. The old constitution was very rarely
affected by new enactments, and these only related to the duties of the
Kings or Ephors, or the new relations of classes which arose as
time went on. Hence there was as great a difference as could well
be conceived between the Laws of Athens and Sparta: the one was the
creation of a civilized state, and did not differ in principle from our
modern legislation, the other of an age in which the people were held
together and also kept down by force of arms, and which afterwards
retained many traces of its barbaric origin 'surviving in culture.'

Nevertheless the Lacedaemonian was the ideal of a primitive Greek state.
According to Thucydides it was the first which emerged out of confusion
and became a regular government. It was also an army devoted to
military exercises, but organized with a view to self-defence and not
to conquest. It was not quick to move or easily excited; but stolid,
cautious, unambitious, procrastinating. For many centuries it retained
the same character which was impressed upon it by the hand of the
legislator. This singular fabric was partly the result of circumstances,
partly the invention of some unknown individual in prehistoric times,
whose ideal of education was military discipline, and who, by the
ascendency of his genius, made a small tribe into a nation which became
famous in the world's history. The other Hellenes wondered at the
strength and stability of his work. The rest of Hellas, says Thucydides,
undertook the colonisation of Heraclea the more readily, having a
feeling of security now that they saw the Lacedaemonians taking part in
it. The Spartan state appears to us in the dawn of history as a vision
of armed men, irresistible by any other power then existing in the
world. It can hardly be said to have understood at all the rights
or duties of nations to one another, or indeed to have had any moral
principle except patriotism and obedience to commanders. Men were so
trained to act together that they lost the freedom and spontaneity of
human life in cultivating the qualities of the soldier and ruler. The
Spartan state was a composite body in which kings, nobles, citizens,
perioeci, artisans, slaves, had to find a 'modus vivendi' with one
another. All of them were taught some use of arms. The strength of the
family tie was diminished among them by an enforced absence from
home and by common meals. Sparta had no life or growth; no poetry or
tradition of the past; no art, no thought. The Athenians started on
their great career some centuries later, but the Spartans would have
been easily conquered by them, if Athens had not been deficient in the
qualities which constituted the strength (and also the weakness) of her

The ideal of Athens has been pictured for all time in the speech which
Thucydides puts into the mouth of Pericles, called the Funeral Oration.
He contrasts the activity and freedom and pleasantness of Athenian
life with the immobility and severe looks and incessant drill of the
Spartans. The citizens of no city were more versatile, or more readily
changed from land to sea or more quickly moved about from place to
place. They 'took their pleasures' merrily, and yet, when the time for
fighting arrived, were not a whit behind the Spartans, who were like men
living in a camp, and, though always keeping guard, were often too late
for the fray. Any foreigner might visit Athens; her ships found a way
to the most distant shores; the riches of the whole earth poured in upon
her. Her citizens had their theatres and festivals; they 'provided their
souls with many relaxations'; yet they were not less manly than the
Spartans or less willing to sacrifice this enjoyable existence for their
country's good. The Athenian was a nobler form of life than that of
their rivals, a life of music as well as of gymnastic, the life of a
citizen as well as of a soldier. Such is the picture which Thucydides
has drawn of the Athenians in their glory. It is the spirit of this life
which Plato would infuse into the Magnesian state and which he seeks to
combine with the common meals and gymnastic discipline of Sparta.

The two great types of Athens and Sparta had deeply entered into his
mind. He had heard of Sparta at a distance and from common Hellenic
fame: he was a citizen of Athens and an Athenian of noble birth. He must
often have sat in the law-courts, and may have had personal experience
of the duties of offices such as he is establishing. There is no need to
ask the question, whence he derived his knowledge of the Laws of
Athens: they were a part of his daily life. Many of his enactments
are recognized to be Athenian laws from the fragments preserved in
the Orators and elsewhere: many more would be found to be so if we had
better information. Probably also still more of them would have been
incorporated in the Magnesian code, if the work had ever been finally
completed. But it seems to have come down to us in a form which is
partly finished and partly unfinished, having a beginning and end,
but wanting arrangement in the middle. The Laws answer to Plato's own
description of them, in the comparison which he makes of himself and his
two friends to gatherers of stones or the beginners of some
composite work, 'who are providing materials and partly putting them
together:--having some of their laws, like stones, already fixed in
their places, while others lie about.'

Plato's own life coincided with the period at which Athens rose to her
greatest heights and sank to her lowest depths. It was impossible that
he should regard the blessings of democracy in the same light as the
men of a former generation, whose view was not intercepted by the evil
shadow of the taking of Athens, and who had only the glories of Marathon
and Salamis and the administration of Pericles to look back upon. On the
other hand the fame and prestige of Sparta, which had outlived so many
crimes and blunders, was not altogether lost at the end of the life
of Plato. Hers was the only great Hellenic government which preserved
something of its ancient form; and although the Spartan citizens were
reduced to almost one-tenth of their original number (Arist. Pol.),
she still retained, until the rise of Thebes and Macedon, a certain
authority and predominance due to her final success in the struggle with
Athens and to the victories which Agesilaus won in Asia Minor.

Plato, like Aristotle, had in his mind some form of a mean state which
should escape the evils and secure the advantages of both aristocracy
and democracy. It may however be doubted whether the creation of such
a state is not beyond the legislator's art, although there have been
examples in history of forms of government, which through some community
of interest or of origin, through a balance of parties in the state
itself, or through the fear of a common enemy, have for a while
preserved such a character of moderation. But in general there arises a
time in the history of a state when the struggle between the few and
the many has to be fought out. No system of checks and balances, such as
Plato has devised in the Laws, could have given equipoise and stability
to an ancient state, any more than the skill of the legislator could
have withstood the tide of democracy in England or France during the
last hundred years, or have given life to China or India.

The basis of the Magnesian constitution is the equal division of land.
In the new state, as in the Republic, there was to be neither poverty
nor riches. Every citizen under all circumstances retained his lot, and
as much money as was necessary for the cultivation of it, and no one was
allowed to accumulate property to the amount of more than five times
the value of the lot, inclusive of it. The equal division of land was a
Spartan institution, not known to have existed elsewhere in Hellas. The
mention of it in the Laws of Plato affords considerable presumption that
it was of ancient origin, and not first introduced, as Mr. Grote and
others have imagined, in the reformation of Cleomenes III. But at
Sparta, if we may judge from the frequent complaints of the accumulation
of property in the hands of a few persons (Arist. Pol.), no provision
could have been made for the maintenance of the lot. Plutarch indeed
speaks of a law introduced by the Ephor Epitadeus soon after the
Peloponnesian War, which first allowed the Spartans to sell their land
(Agis): but from the manner in which Aristotle refers to the subject,
we should imagine this evil in the state to be of a much older standing.
Like some other countries in which small proprietors have been numerous,
the original equality passed into inequality, and, instead of a large
middle class, there was probably at Sparta greater disproportion in the
property of the citizens than in any other state of Hellas. Plato was
aware of the danger, and has improved on the Spartan custom. The land,
as at Sparta, must have been tilled by slaves, since other occupations
were found for the citizens. Bodies of young men between the ages of
twenty-five and thirty were engaged in making biennial peregrinations of
the country. They and their officers are to be the magistrates, police,
engineers, aediles, of the twelve districts into which the colony was
divided. Their way of life may be compared with that of the Spartan
secret police or Crypteia, a name which Plato freely applies to them
without apparently any consciousness of the odium which has attached to
the word in history.

Another great institution which Plato borrowed from Sparta (or Crete) is
the Syssitia or common meals. These were established in both states, and
in some respects were considered by Aristotle to be better managed in
Crete than at Lacedaemon (Pol.). In the Laws the Cretan custom appears
to be adopted (This is not proved, as Hermann supposes ('De Vestigiis,'
etc.)): that is to say, if we may interpret Plato by Aristotle, the cost
of them was defrayed by the state and not by the individuals (Arist.
Pol); so that the members of the mess, who could not pay their quota,
still retained their rights of citizenship. But this explanation is
hardly consistent with the Laws, where contributions to the Syssitia
from private estates are expressly mentioned. Plato goes further than
the legislators of Sparta and Crete, and would extend the common meals
to women as well as men: he desires to curb the disorders, which existed
among the female sex in both states, by the application to women of the
same military discipline to which the men were already subject. It
was an extension of the custom of Syssitia from which the ancient
legislators shrank, and which Plato himself believed to be very
difficult of enforcement.

Like Sparta, the new colony was not to be surrounded by walls,--a state
should learn to depend upon the bravery of its citizens only--a fallacy
or paradox, if it is not to be regarded as a poetical fancy, which is
fairly enough ridiculed by Aristotle (Pol.). Women, too, must be ready
to assist in the defence of their country: they are not to rush to the
temples and altars, but to arm themselves with shield and spear. In the
regulation of the Syssitia, in at least one of his enactments respecting
property, and in the attempt to correct the licence of women, Plato
shows, that while he borrowed from the institutions of Sparta and
favoured the Spartan mode of life, he also sought to improve upon them.

The enmity to the sea is another Spartan feature which is transferred
by Plato to the Magnesian state. He did not reflect that a non-maritime
power would always be at the mercy of one which had a command of the
great highway. Their many island homes, the vast extent of coast which
had to be protected by them, their struggles first of all with the
Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and secondly with the Persian fleets,
forced the Greeks, mostly against their will, to devote themselves to
the sea. The islanders before the inhabitants of the continent, the
maritime cities before the inland, the Corinthians and Athenians before
the Spartans, were compelled to fit out ships: last of all the Spartans,
by the pressure of the Peloponnesian War, were driven to establish a
naval force, which, after the battle of Aegospotami, for more than
a generation commanded the Aegean. Plato, like the Spartans, had a
prejudice against a navy, because he regarded it as the nursery of
democracy. But he either never considered, or did not care to explain,
how a city, set upon an island and 'distant not more than ten miles from
the sea, having a seaboard provided with excellent harbours,' could have
safely subsisted without one.

Neither the Spartans nor the Magnesian colonists were permitted to
engage in trade or commerce. In order to limit their dealings as far
as possible to their own country, they had a separate coinage; the
Magnesians were only allowed to use the common currency of Hellas when
they travelled abroad, which they were forbidden to do unless they
received permission from the government. Like the Spartans, Plato
was afraid of the evils which might be introduced into his state
by intercourse with foreigners; but he also shrinks from the utter
exclusiveness of Sparta, and is not unwilling to allow visitors of a
suitable age and rank to come from other states to his own, as he also
allows citizens of his own state to go to foreign countries and bring
back a report of them. Such international communication seemed to him
both honourable and useful.

We may now notice some points in which the commonwealth of the Laws
approximates to the Athenian model. These are much more numerous than
the previous class of resemblances; we are better able to compare the
laws of Plato with those of Athens, because a good deal more is known to
us of Athens than of Sparta.

The information which we possess about Athenian law, though
comparatively fuller, is still fragmentary. The sources from which our
knowledge is derived are chiefly the following:--

(1) The Orators,--Antiphon, Andocides, Lysias, Isocrates, Demosthenes,
Aeschines, Lycurgus, and others.

(2) Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, as well as later
writers, such as Cicero de Legibus, Plutarch, Aelian, Pausanias.

(3) Lexicographers, such as Harpocration, Pollux, Hesychius, Suidas, and
the compiler of the Etymologicum Magnum, many of whom are of uncertain
date, and to a great extent based upon one another. Their writings
extend altogether over more than eight hundred years, from the second to
the tenth century.

(4) The Scholia on Aristophanes, Plato, Demosthenes.

(5) A few inscriptions.

Our knowledge of a subject derived from such various sources and for the
most part of uncertain date and origin, is necessarily precarious. No
critic can separate the actual laws of Solon from those which passed
under his name in later ages. Nor do the Scholiasts and Lexicographers
attempt to distinguish how many of these laws were still in force at the
time when they wrote, or when they fell into disuse and were to be found
in books only. Nor can we hastily assume that enactments which occur
in the Laws of Plato were also a part of Athenian law, however probable
this may appear.

There are two classes of similarities between Plato's Laws and those of
Athens: (i) of institutions (ii) of minor enactments.

(i) The constitution of the Laws in its general character resembles much
more nearly the Athenian constitution of Solon's time than that which
succeeded it, or the extreme democracy which prevailed in Plato's own
day. It was a mean state which he hoped to create, equally unlike a
Syracusan tyranny or the mob-government of the Athenian assembly. There
are various expedients by which he sought to impart to it the quality of
moderation. (1) The whole people were to be educated: they could not be
all trained in philosophy, but they were to acquire the simple elements
of music, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy; they were also to be subject
to military discipline, archontes kai archomenoi. (2) The majority of
them were, or had been at some time in their lives, magistrates, and had
the experience which is given by office. (3) The persons who held the
highest offices were to have a further education, not much inferior to
that provided for the guardians in the Republic, though the range of
their studies is narrowed to the nature and divisions of virtue: here
their philosophy comes to an end. (4) The entire number of the citizens
(5040) rarely, if ever, assembled, except for purposes of elections. The
whole people were divided into four classes, each having the right to be
represented by the same number of members in the Council. The result of
such an arrangement would be, as in the constitution of Servius Tullius,
to give a disproportionate share of power to the wealthier classes, who
may be supposed to be always much fewer in number than the poorer. This
tendency was qualified by the complicated system of selection by vote,
previous to the final election by lot, of which the object seems to be
to hand over to the wealthy few the power of selecting from the many
poor, and vice versa. (5) The most important body in the state was the
Nocturnal Council, which is borrowed from the Areopagus at Athens, as it
existed, or was supposed to have existed, in the days before Ephialtes
and the Eumenides of Aeschylus, when its power was undiminished. In
some particulars Plato appears to have copied exactly the customs and
procedure of the Areopagus: both assemblies sat at night (Telfy). There
was a resemblance also in more important matters. Like the Areopagus,
the Nocturnal Council was partly composed of magistrates and other
state officials, whose term of office had expired. (7) The constitution
included several diverse and even opposing elements, such as
the Assembly and the Nocturnal Council. (8) There was much less
exclusiveness than at Sparta; the citizens were to have an interest in
the government of neighbouring states, and to know what was going on in
the rest of the world.--All these were moderating influences.

A striking similarity between Athens and the constitution of the
Magnesian colony is the use of the lot in the election of judges
and other magistrates. That such a mode of election should have
been resorted to in any civilized state, or that it should have been
transferred by Plato to an ideal or imaginary one, is very singular
to us. The most extreme democracy of modern times has never thought of
leaving government wholly to chance. It was natural that Socrates
should scoff at it, and ask, 'Who would choose a pilot or carpenter or
flute-player by lot' (Xen. Mem.)? Yet there were many considerations
which made this mode of choice attractive both to the oligarch and to
the democrat:--(1) It seemed to recognize that one man was as good as
another, and that all the members of the governing body, whether few or
many, were on a perfect equality in every sense of the word. (2) To the
pious mind it appeared to be a choice made, not by man, but by heaven
(compare Laws). (3) It afforded a protection against corruption and
intrigue...It must also be remembered that, although elected by lot,
the persons so elected were subject to a scrutiny before they entered
on their office, and were therefore liable, after election, if
disqualified, to be rejected (Laws). They were, moreover, liable to be
called to account after the expiration of their office. In the election
of councillors Plato introduces a further check: they are not to be
chosen directly by lot from all the citizens, but from a select body
previously elected by vote. In Plato's state at least, as we may infer
from his silence on this point, judges and magistrates performed
their duties without pay, which was a guarantee both of their
disinterestedness and of their belonging probably to the higher class of
citizens (compare Arist. Pol.). Hence we are not surprised that the use
of the lot prevailed, not only in the election of the Athenian Council,
but also in many oligarchies, and even in Plato's colony. The
evil consequences of the lot are to a great extent avoided, if the
magistrates so elected do not, like the dicasts at Athens, receive pay
from the state.

Another parallel is that of the Popular Assembly, which at Athens was
omnipotent, but in the Laws has only a faded and secondary existence. In
Plato it was chiefly an elective body, having apparently no judicial and
little political power entrusted to it. At Athens it was the mainspring
of the democracy; it had the decision of war or peace, of life and
death; the acts of generals or statesmen were authorized or condemned
by it; no office or person was above its control. Plato was far from
allowing such a despotic power to exist in his model community, and
therefore he minimizes the importance of the Assembly and narrows its
functions. He probably never asked himself a question, which naturally
occurs to the modern reader, where was to be the central authority in
this new community, and by what supreme power would the differences of
inferior powers be decided. At the same time he magnifies and brings
into prominence the Nocturnal Council (which is in many respects a
reflection of the Areopagus), but does not make it the governing body of
the state.

Between the judicial system of the Laws and that of Athens there was
very great similarity, and a difference almost equally great. Plato not
unfrequently adopts the details when he rejects the principle. At
Athens any citizen might be a judge and member of the great court of
the Heliaea. This was ordinarily subdivided into a number of inferior
courts, but an occasion is recorded on which the whole body, in
number six thousand, met in a single court (Andoc. de Myst.). Plato
significantly remarks that a few judges, if they are good, are better
than a great number. He also, at least in capital cases, confines the
plaintiff and defendant to a single speech each, instead of allowing two
apiece, as was the common practice at Athens. On the other hand, in all
private suits he gives two appeals, from the arbiters to the courts of
the tribes, and from the courts of the tribes to the final or supreme
court. There was nothing answering to this at Athens. The three courts
were appointed in the following manner:--the arbiters were to be agreed
upon by the parties to the cause; the judges of the tribes to be elected
by lot; the highest tribunal to be chosen at the end of each year by the
great officers of state out of their own number--they were to serve for
a year, to undergo a scrutiny, and, unlike the Athenian judges, to vote
openly. Plato does not dwell upon methods of procedure: these are the
lesser matters which he leaves to the younger legislators. In cases of
murder and some other capital offences, the cause was to be tried by a
special tribunal, as was the custom at Athens: military offences, too,
as at Athens, were decided by the soldiers. Public causes in the Laws,
as sometimes at Athens, were voted upon by the whole people: because, as
Plato remarks, they are all equally concerned in them. They were to
be previously investigated by three of the principal magistrates. He
believes also that in private suits all should take part; '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.' The wardens of the country, like the
Forty at Athens, also exercised judicial power in small matters, as
well as the wardens of the agora and city. The department of justice is
better organized in Plato than in an ordinary Greek state, proceeding
more by regular methods, and being more restricted to distinct duties.

The executive of Plato's Laws, like the Athenian, was different from
that of a modern civilized state. The difference chiefly consists in
this, that whereas among ourselves there are certain persons or classes
of persons set apart for the execution of the duties of government, in
ancient Greece, as in all other communities in the earlier stages of
their development, they were not equally distinguished from the rest of
the citizens. The machinery of government was never so well organized as
in the best modern states. The judicial department was not so completely
separated from the legislative, nor the executive from the judicial, nor
the people at large from the professional soldier, lawyer, or priest. To
Aristotle (Pol.) it was a question requiring serious consideration--Who
should execute a sentence? There was probably no body of police to whom
were entrusted the lives and properties of the citizens in any Hellenic
state. Hence it might be reasonably expected that every man should be
the watchman of every other, and in turn be watched by him. The ancients
do not seem to have remembered the homely adage that, 'What is every
man's business is no man's business,' or always to have thought of
applying the principle of a division of labour to the administration
of law and to government. Every Athenian was at some time or on some
occasion in his life a magistrate, judge, advocate, soldier, sailor,
policeman. He had not necessarily any private business; a good deal
of his time was taken up with the duties of office and other public
occupations. So, too, in Plato's Laws. A citizen was to interfere in a
quarrel, if older than the combatants, or to defend the outraged party,
if his junior. He was especially bound to come to the rescue of a parent
who was ill-treated by his children. He was also required to prosecute
the murderer of a kinsman. In certain cases he was allowed to arrest an
offender. He might even use violence to an abusive person. Any
citizen who was not less than thirty years of age at times exercised
a magisterial authority, to be enforced even by blows. Both in the
Magnesian state and at Athens many thousand persons must have shared
in the highest duties of government, if a section only of the Council,
consisting of thirty or of fifty persons, as in the Laws, or at
Athens after the days of Cleisthenes, held office for a month, or for
thirty-five days only. It was almost as if, in our own country, the
Ministry or the Houses of Parliament were to change every month. The
average ability of the Athenian and Magnesian councillors could not have
been very high, considering there were so many of them. And yet they
were entrusted with the performance of the most important executive
duties. In these respects the constitution of the Laws resembles Athens
far more than Sparta. All the citizens were to be, not merely soldiers,
but politicians and administrators.

(ii) There are numerous minor particulars in which the Laws of Plato
resemble those of Athens. These are less interesting than the preceding,
but they show even more strikingly how closely in the composition of his
work Plato has followed the laws and customs of his own country.

(1) Evidence. (a) At Athens a child was not allowed to give evidence
(Telfy). Plato has a similar law: 'A child shall be allowed to give
evidence only in cases of murder.' (b) At Athens an unwilling witness
might be summoned; but he was not required to appear if he was ready
to declare on oath that he knew nothing about the matter in question
(Telfy). So in the Laws. (c) Athenian law enacted that when more than
half the witnesses in a case had been convicted of perjury, there was to
be a new trial (anadikos krisis--Telfy). There is a similar provision in
the Laws. (d) False-witness was punished at Athens by atimia and a fine
(Telfy). Plato is at once more lenient and more severe: 'If a man be
twice convicted of false-witness, he shall not be required, and if
thrice, he shall not be allowed to bear witness; and if he dare to
witness after he has been convicted three times,...he shall be punished
with death.'

(2) Murder. (a) Wilful murder was punished in Athenian law by death,
perpetual exile, and confiscation of property (Telfy). Plato, too,
has the alternative of death or exile, but he does not confiscate the
murderer's property. (b) The Parricide was not allowed to escape by
going into exile at Athens (Telfy), nor, apparently, in the Laws. (c)
A homicide, if forgiven by his victim before death, received no
punishment, either at Athens (Telfy), or in the Magnesian state. In both
(Telfy) the contriver of a murder is punished as severely as the doer;
and persons accused of the crime are forbidden to enter temples or
the agora until they have been tried (Telfy). (d) At Athens slaves who
killed their masters and were caught red-handed, were not to be put to
death by the relations of the murdered man, but to be handed over to the
magistrates (Telfy). So in the Laws, the slave who is guilty of wilful
murder has a public execution: but if the murder is committed in anger,
it is punished by the kinsmen of the victim.

(3) Involuntary homicide. (a) The guilty person, according to the
Athenian law, had to go into exile, and might not return, until the
family of the man slain were conciliated. Then he must be purified
(Telfy). If he is caught before he has obtained forgiveness, he may be
put to death. These enactments reappear in the Laws. (b) The curious
provision of Plato, that a stranger who has been banished for
involuntary homicide and is subsequently wrecked upon the coast, must
'take up his abode on the sea-shore, wetting his feet in the sea, and
watching for an opportunity of sailing,' recalls the procedure of
the Judicium Phreatteum at Athens, according to which an involuntary
homicide, who, having gone into exile, is accused of a wilful murder,
was tried at Phreatto for this offence in a boat by magistrates on the
shore. (c) A still more singular law, occurring both in the Athenian
and Magnesian code, enacts that a stone or other inanimate object which
kills a man is to be tried, and cast over the border (Telfy).

(4) Justifiable or excusable homicide. Plato and Athenian law agree in
making homicide justifiable or excusable in the following cases:--(1) at
the games (Telfy); (2) in war (Telfy); (3) if the person slain was found
doing violence to a free woman (Telfy); (4) if a doctor's patient dies;
(5) in the case of a robber (Telfy); (6) in self-defence (Telfy).

(5) Impiety. Death or expulsion was the Athenian penalty for impiety
(Telfy). In the Laws it is punished in various cases by imprisonment for
five years, for life, and by death.

(6) Sacrilege. Robbery of temples at Athens was punished by death,
refusal of burial in the land, and confiscation of property (Telfy).
In the Laws the citizen who is guilty of such a crime is to 'perish
ingloriously and be cast beyond the borders of the land,' but his
property is not confiscated.

(7) Sorcery. The sorcerer at Athens was to be executed (Telfy): compare
Laws, where it is enacted that the physician who poisons and the
professional sorcerer shall be punished with death.

(8) Treason. Both at Athens and in the Laws the penalty for treason was
death (Telfy), and refusal of burial in the country (Telfy).

(9) Sheltering exiles. 'If a man receives an exile, he shall be punished
with death.' So, too, in Athenian law (Telfy.).

(10) Wounding. Athenian law compelled a man who had wounded another to
go into exile; if he returned, he was to be put to death (Telfy). Plato
only punishes the offence with death when children wound their parents
or one another, or a slave wounds his master.

(11) Bribery. Death was the punishment for taking a bribe, both
at Athens (Telfy) and in the Laws; but Athenian law offered an
alternative--the payment of a fine of ten times the amount of the bribe.

(12) Theft. Plato, like Athenian law (Telfy), punishes the theft of
public property by death; the theft of private property in both involves
a fine of double the value of the stolen goods (Telfy).

(13) Suicide. He 'who slays him who of all men, as they say, is his own
best friend,' is regarded in the same spirit by Plato and by Athenian
law. Plato would have him 'buried ingloriously on the borders of the
twelve portions of the land, in such places as are uncultivated and
nameless,' and 'no column or inscription is to mark the place of his
interment.' Athenian law enacted that the hand which did the deed should
be separated from the body and be buried apart (Telfy).

(14) Injury. In cases of wilful injury, Athenian law compelled the
guilty person to pay double the damage; in cases of involuntary injury,
simple damages (Telfy). Plato enacts that if a man wounds another in
passion, and the wound is curable, he shall pay double the damage, if
incurable or disfiguring, fourfold damages. If, however, the wounding is
accidental, he shall simply pay for the harm done.

(15) Treatment of parents. Athenian law allowed any one to indict
another for neglect or illtreatment of parents (Telfy). So Plato bids
bystanders assist a father who is assaulted by his son, and allows any
one to give information against children who neglect their parents.

(16) Execution of sentences. Both Plato and Athenian law give to the
winner of a suit power to seize the goods of the loser, if he does not
pay within the appointed time (Telfy). At Athens the penalty was also
doubled (Telfy); not so in Plato. Plato however punishes contempt of
court by death, which at Athens seems only to have been visited with a
further fine (Telfy).

(17) Property. (a) Both at Athens and in the Laws a man who has disputed
property in his possession must give the name of the person from whom he
received it (Telfy); and any one searching for lost property must enter
a house naked (Telfy), or, as Plato says, 'naked, or wearing only a
short tunic and without a girdle. (b) Athenian law, as well as Plato,
did not allow a father to disinherit his son without good reason and the
consent of impartial persons (Telfy). Neither grants to the eldest
son any special claim on the paternal estate (Telfy). In the law of
inheritance both prefer males to females (Telfy). (c) Plato and Athenian
law enacted that a tree should be planted at a fair distance from a
neighbour's property (Telfy), and that when a man could not get water,
his neighbour must supply him (Telfy). Both at Athens and in Plato there
is a law about bees, the former providing that a beehive must be set up
at not less a distance than 300 feet from a neighbour's (Telfy), and the
latter forbidding the decoying of bees.

(18) Orphans. A ward must proceed against a guardian whom he suspects
of fraud within five years of the expiration of the guardianship. This
provision is common to Plato and to Athenian law (Telfy). Further, the
latter enacted that the nearest male relation should marry or provide
a husband for an heiress (Telfy),--a point in which Plato follows it

(19) Contracts. Plato's law that 'when a man makes an agreement which he
does not fulfil, unless the agreement be of a nature which the law or
a vote of the assembly does not allow, or which he has made under the
influence of some unjust compulsion, or which he is prevented from
fulfilling against his will by some unexpected chance,--the other party
may go to law with him,' according to Pollux (quoted in Telfy's note)
prevailed also at Athens.

(20) Trade regulations. (a) Lying was forbidden in the agora both by
Plato and at Athens (Telfy). (b) Athenian law allowed an action of
recovery against a man who sold an unsound slave as sound (Telfy).
Plato's enactment is more explicit: he allows only an unskilled person
(i.e. one who is not a trainer or physician) to take proceedings in such
a case. (c) Plato diverges from Athenian practice in the disapproval of
credit, and does not even allow the supply of goods on the deposit of
a percentage of their value (Telfy). He enacts that 'when goods are
exchanged by buying and selling, a man shall deliver them and receive
the price of them at a fixed place in the agora, and have done with
the matter,' and that 'he who gives credit must be satisfied whether he
obtain his money or not, for in such exchanges he will not be protected
by law. (d) Athenian law forbad an extortionate rate of interest
(Telfy); Plato allows interest in one case only--if a contractor does
not receive the price of his work within a year of the time agreed--and
at the rate of 200 per cent. per annum for every drachma a monthly
interest of an obol. (e) Both at Athens and in the Laws sales were to be
registered (Telfy), as well as births (Telfy).

(21) Sumptuary laws. Extravagance at weddings (Telfy), and at funerals
(Telfy) was forbidden at Athens and also in the Magnesian state.

There remains the subject of family life, which in Plato's Laws
partakes both of an Athenian and Spartan character. Under this head may
conveniently be included the condition of women and of slaves. To family
life may be added citizenship.

As at Sparta, marriages are to be contracted for the good of the state;
and they may be dissolved on the same ground, where there is a failure
of issue,--the interest of the state requiring that every one of the
5040 lots should have an heir. Divorces are likewise permitted by Plato
where there is an incompatibility of temper, as at Athens by mutual
consent. The duty of having children is also enforced by a still higher
motive, expressed by Plato in the noble words:--'A man should cling to
immortality, and leave behind him children's children to be the servants
of God in his place.' Again, as at Athens, the father is allowed to put
away his undutiful son, but only with the consent of impartial persons
(Telfy), and the only suit which may be brought by a son against a
father is for imbecility. The class of elder and younger men and women
are still to regard one another, as in the Republic, as standing in the
relation of parents and children. This is a trait of Spartan character
rather than of Athenian. A peculiar sanctity and tenderness was to be
shown towards the aged; the parent or grandparent stricken with years
was to be loved and worshipped like the image of a God, and was to be
deemed far more able than any lifeless statue to bring good or ill
to his descendants. Great care is to be taken of orphans: they are
entrusted to the fifteen eldest Guardians of the Law, who are to be
'lawgivers and fathers to them not inferior to their natural fathers,'
as at Athens they were entrusted to the Archons. Plato wishes to make
the misfortune of orphanhood as little sad to them as possible.

Plato, seeing the disorder into which half the human race had fallen at
Athens and Sparta, is minded to frame for them a new rule of life. He
renounces his fanciful theory of communism, but still desires to place
women as far as possible on an equality with men. They were to be
trained in the use of arms, they are to live in public. Their time was
partly taken up with gymnastic exercises; there could have been little
family or private life among them. Their lot was to be neither like that
of Spartan women, who were made hard and common by excessive practice
of gymnastic and the want of all other education,--nor yet like that of
Athenian women, who, at least among the upper classes, retired into a
sort of oriental seclusion,--but something better than either. They were
to be the perfect mothers of perfect children, yet not wholly taken up
with the duties of motherhood, which were to be made easy to them as far
as possible (compare Republic), but able to share in the perils of war
and to be the companions of their husbands. Here, more than anywhere
else, the spirit of the Laws reverts to the Republic. In speaking of
them as the companions of their husbands we must remember that it is an
Athenian and not a Spartan way of life which they are invited to share,
a life of gaiety and brightness, not of austerity and abstinence, which
often by a reaction degenerated into licence and grossness.

In Plato's age the subject of slavery greatly interested the minds of
thoughtful men; and how best to manage this 'troublesome piece of goods'
exercised his own mind a good deal. He admits that they have often
been found better than brethren or sons in the hour of danger, and are
capable of rendering important public services by informing against
offenders--for this they are to be rewarded; and the master who puts
a slave to death for the sake of concealing some crime which he has
committed, is held guilty of murder. But they are not always treated
with equal consideration. The punishments inflicted on them bear
no proportion to their crimes. They are to be addressed only in the
language of command. Their masters are not to jest with them, lest they
should increase the hardship of their lot. Some privileges were granted
to them by Athenian law of which there is no mention in Plato; they
were allowed to purchase their freedom from their master, and if they
despaired of being liberated by him they could demand to be sold, on the
chance of falling into better hands. But there is no suggestion in
the Laws that a slave who tried to escape should be branded with the
words--kateche me, pheugo, or that evidence should be extracted from him
by torture, that the whole household was to be executed if the master
was murdered and the perpetrator remained undetected: all these were
provisions of Athenian law. Plato is more consistent than either the
Athenians or the Spartans; for at Sparta too the Helots were treated in
a manner almost unintelligible to us. On the one hand, they had arms put
into their hands, and served in the army, not only, as at Plataea, in
attendance on their masters, but, after they had been manumitted, as a
separate body of troops called Neodamodes: on the other hand, they were
the victims of one of the greatest crimes recorded in Greek history
(Thucyd.). The two great philosophers of Hellas sought to extricate
themselves from this cruel condition of human life, but acquiesced in
the necessity of it. A noble and pathetic sentiment of Plato, suggested
by the thought of their misery, may be quoted in this place:--'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.'

All the citizens of the Magnesian state were free and equal; there was
no distinction of rank among them, such as is believed to have prevailed
at Sparta. Their number was a fixed one, corresponding to the 5040 lots.
One of the results of this is the requirement that younger sons or those
who have been disinherited shall go out to a colony. At Athens, where
there was not the same religious feeling against increasing the size of
the city, the number of citizens must have been liable to considerable
fluctuations. Several classes of persons, who were not citizens by
birth, were admitted to the privilege. Perpetual exiles from other
countries, people who settled there to practise a trade (Telfy), any one
who had shown distinguished valour in the cause of Athens, the Plataeans
who escaped from the siege, metics and strangers who offered to serve
in the army, the slaves who fought at Arginusae,--all these could or
did become citizens. Even those who were only on one side of Athenian
parentage were at more than one period accounted citizens. But at times
there seems to have arisen a feeling against this promiscuous extension
of the citizen body, an expression of which is to be found in the law
of Pericles--monous Athenaious einai tous ek duoin Athenaion gegonotas
(Plutarch, Pericles); and at no time did the adopted citizen enjoy the
full rights of citizenship--e.g. he might not be elected archon or to
the office of priest (Telfy), although this prohibition did not extend
to his children, if born of a citizen wife. Plato never thinks of making
the metic, much less the slave, a citizen. His treatment of the former
class is at once more gentle and more severe than that which prevailed
at Athens. He imposes upon them no tax but good behaviour, whereas at
Athens they were required to pay twelve drachmae per annum, and to
have a patron: on the other hand, he only allows them to reside in the
Magnesian state on condition of following a trade; they were required to
depart when their property exceeded that of the third class, and in any
case after a residence of twenty years, unless they could show that they
had conferred some great benefit on the state. This privileged position
reflects that of the isoteleis at Athens, who were excused from the
metoikion. It is Plato's greatest concession to the metic, as the
bestowal of freedom is his greatest concession to the slave.

Lastly, there is a more general point of view under which the Laws of
Plato may be considered,--the principles of Jurisprudence which are
contained in them. These are not formally announced, but are scattered
up and down, to be observed by the reflective reader for himself. Some
of them are only the common principles which all courts of justice have
gathered from experience; others are peculiar and characteristic. That
judges should sit at fixed times and hear causes in a regular order,
that evidence should be laid before them, that false witnesses should
be disallowed, and corruption punished, that defendants should be
heard before they are convicted,--these are the rules, not only of the
Hellenic courts, but of courts of law in all ages and countries.
But there are also points which are peculiar, and in which ancient
jurisprudence differs considerably from modern; some of them are of
great importance...It could not be said at Athens, nor was it ever
contemplated by Plato, that all men, including metics and slaves, should
be equal 'in the eye of the law.' There was some law for the slave, but
not much; no adequate protection was given him against the cruelty of
his master...It was a singular privilege granted, both by the Athenian
and Magnesian law, to a murdered man, that he might, before he died,
pardon his murderer, in which case no legal steps were afterwards to
be taken against him. This law is the remnant of an age in which the
punishment of offences against the person was the concern rather of
the individual and his kinsmen than of the state...Plato's division of
crimes into voluntary and involuntary and those done from passion, only
partially agrees with the distinction which modern law has drawn between
murder and manslaughter; his attempt to analyze them is confused by the
Socratic paradox, that 'All vice is involuntary'...It is singular that
both in the Laws and at Athens theft is commonly punished by a twofold
restitution of the article stolen. The distinction between civil and
criminal courts or suits was not yet recognized...Possession gives a
right of property after a certain time...The religious aspect under
which certain offences were regarded greatly interfered with a just
and natural estimate of their guilt...As among ourselves, the intent to
murder was distinguished by Plato from actual murder...We note that
both in Plato and the laws of Athens, libel in the market-place and
personality in the theatre were forbidden...Both in Plato and Athenian
law, as in modern times, the accomplice of a crime is to be punished as
well as the principal...Plato does not allow a witness in a cause to
act as a judge of it...Oaths are not to be taken by the parties to a
suit...Both at Athens and in Plato's Laws capital punishment for
murder was not to be inflicted, if the offender was willing to go into
exile...Respect for the dead, duty towards parents, are to be enforced
by the law as well as by public opinion...Plato proclaims the noble
sentiment that the object of all punishment is the improvement of the
offender... Finally, he repeats twice over, as with the voice of a
prophet, that the crimes of the fathers are not to be visited upon the
children. In this respect he is nobly distinguished from the Oriental,
and indeed from the spirit of Athenian law (compare Telfy,--dei kai
autous kai tous ek touton atimous einai), as the Hebrew in the age of
Ezekial is from the Jewish people of former ages.

Of all Plato's provisions the object is to bring the practice of the law
more into harmony with reason and philosophy; to secure impartiality,
and while acknowledging that every citizen has a right to share in the
administration of justice, to counteract the tendency of the courts to
become mere popular assemblies.


Thus we have arrived at the end of the writings of Plato, and at the
last stage of philosophy which was really his. For in what followed,
which we chiefly gather from the uncertain intimations of Aristotle, the
spirit of the master no longer survived. The doctrine of Ideas passed
into one of numbers; instead of advancing from the abstract to the
concrete, the theories of Plato were taken out of their context, and
either asserted or refuted with a provoking literalism; the Socratic or
Platonic element in his teaching was absorbed into the Pythagorean or
Megarian. His poetry was converted into mysticism; his unsubstantial
visions were assailed secundum artem by the rules of logic. His
political speculations lost their interest when the freedom of Hellas
had passed away. Of all his writings the Laws were the furthest removed
from the traditions of the Platonic school in the next generation. Both
his political and his metaphysical philosophy are for the most part
misinterpreted by Aristotle. The best of him--his love of truth, and
his 'contemplation of all time and all existence,' was soonest lost; and
some of his greatest thoughts have slept in the ear of mankind almost
ever since they were first uttered.

We have followed him during his forty or fifty years of authorship, from
the beginning when he first attempted to depict the teaching of Socrates
in a dramatic form, down to the time at which the character of Socrates
had disappeared, and we have the latest reflections of Plato's own mind
upon Hellas and upon philosophy. He, who was 'the last of the poets,' in
his book of Laws writes prose only; he has himself partly fallen
under the rhetorical influences which in his earlier dialogues he was
combating. The progress of his writings is also the history of his life;
we have no other authentic life of him. They are the true self of the
philosopher, stripped of the accidents of time and place. The great
effort which he makes is, first, to realize abstractions, secondly,
to connect them. In the attempt to realize them, he was carried into a
transcendental region in which he isolated them from experience, and we
pass out of the range of science into poetry or fiction. The fancies of
mythology for a time cast a veil over the gulf which divides phenomena
from onta (Meno, Phaedrus, Symposium, Phaedo). In his return to earth
Plato meets with a difficulty which has long ceased to be a difficulty
to us. He cannot understand how these obstinate, unmanageable ideas,
residing alone in their heaven of abstraction, can be either combined
with one another, or adapted to phenomena (Parmenides, Philebus,
Sophist). That which is the most familiar process of our own minds, to
him appeared to be the crowning achievement of the dialectical art. The
difficulty which in his own generation threatened to be the destruction
of philosophy, he has rendered unmeaning and ridiculous. For by his
conquests in the world of mind our thoughts are widened, and he has
furnished us with new dialectical instruments which are of greater
compass and power. We have endeavoured to see him as he truly was, a
great original genius struggling with unequal conditions of knowledge,
not prepared with a system nor evolving in a series of dialogues ideas
which he had long conceived, but contradictory, enquiring as he goes
along, following the argument, first from one point of view and then
from another, and therefore arriving at opposite conclusions, hovering
around the light, and sometimes dazzled with excess of light, but always
moving in the same element of ideal truth. We have seen him also in his
decline, when the wings of his imagination have begun to droop, but his
experience of life remains, and he turns away from the contemplation of
the eternal to take a last sad look at human affairs.


And so having brought into the world 'noble children' (Phaedr.), he
rests from the labours of authorship. More than two thousand two hundred
years have passed away since he returned to the place of Apollo and
the Muses. Yet the echo of his words continues to be heard among men,
because of all philosophers he has the most melodious voice. He is the
inspired prophet or teacher who can never die, the only one in whom the
outward form adequately represents the fair soul within; in whom the
thoughts of all who went before him are reflected and of all who come
after him are partly anticipated. Other teachers of philosophy are dried
up and withered,--after a few centuries they have become dust; but he
is fresh and blooming, and is always begetting new ideas in the minds of
men. They are one-sided and abstract; but he has many sides of wisdom.
Nor is he always consistent with himself, because he is always moving
onward, and knows that there are many more things in philosophy than can
be expressed in words, and that truth is greater than consistency. He
who approaches him in the most reverent spirit shall reap most of
the fruit of his wisdom; he who reads him by the light of ancient
commentators will have the least understanding of him.

We may see him with the eye of the mind in the groves of the Academy,
or on the banks of the Ilissus, or in the streets of Athens, alone or
walking with Socrates, full of those thoughts which have since become
the common possession of mankind. Or we may compare him to a statue hid
away in some temple of Zeus or Apollo, no longer existing on earth,
a statue which has a look as of the God himself. Or we may once more
imagine him following in another state of being the great company
of heaven which he beheld of old in a vision (Phaedr.). So, 'partly
trifling, but with a certain degree of seriousness' (Symp.), we linger
around the memory of a world which has passed away (Phaedr.).



PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: An Athenian Stranger, Cleinias (a Cretan),
Megillus (a Lacedaemonian).

ATHENIAN: 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: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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

ATHENIAN: 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 talking 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: Very good.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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 men 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

MEGILLUS: Why, my good friend, how could any Lacedaemonian say anything

ATHENIAN: And is what you say applicable only to states, or also to

CLEINIAS: To both alike.

ATHENIAN: The case is the same?


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

CLEINIAS: The same.

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

CLEINIAS: 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.

(ATHENIAN: My good sir, what do you mean?)--

CLEINIAS:...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.

ATHENIAN: 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

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


CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Very possibly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What you say, Stranger, is most true.

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

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: The last would be by far the best sort of judge and

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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: He would have the latter chiefly in view.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Every one would desire the latter in the case of his own

ATHENIAN: And would not that also be the desire of the legislator?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And would not every one always make laws for the sake of the

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Very true.

CLEINIAS: And they have found their way from Lacedaemon to Crete.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Certainly, far milder.

ATHENIAN: 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

'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.

CLEINIAS: Evidently.

ATHENIAN: 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

'Cyrnus,' he says, '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 (i.e., it ranks after justice, temperance,
and wisdom.).

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What ought we to say then?

ATHENIAN: What truth and what justice require of us, if I am not
mistaken, when speaking in behalf of divine excellence;--that 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?

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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 class 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.

CLEINIAS: How shall we proceed, Stranger?

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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


ATHENIAN: 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.

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

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

MEGILLUS: I think that I can get as far as the fourth 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

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: I should say the latter.

ATHENIAN: 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,


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

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Able to meet both, I should say.

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: 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

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

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: You are quite right, Athenian Stranger, and we will do as you

ATHENIAN: At our time of life, Cleinias, there should be no feeling of

CLEINIAS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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

MEGILLUS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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

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

ATHENIAN: 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

MEGILLUS: How do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: 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

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: And what if besides being a coward he has no skill?

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

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

MEGILLUS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly I should.

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

CLEINIAS: We were.

ATHENIAN: The brave man is less likely than the coward to be disturbed
by fears?

CLEINIAS: That again is true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Assuredly.

ATHENIAN: 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


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

CLEINIAS: Certainly; the reverse of quiet.

ATHENIAN: In the first place, then, the revellers as well as the
soldiers will require a ruler?

CLEINIAS: To be sure; no men more so.

ATHENIAN: And we ought, if possible, to provide them with a quiet ruler?

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: Certainly I do.

CLEINIAS: And can you show that what you have been saying is true?

ATHENIAN: 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

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

ATHENIAN: 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

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?

MEGILLUS: 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 country;
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.

CLEINIAS: 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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Let us proceed, if you please.

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

CLEINIAS: Let us hear.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: Then let us not leave the meaning of education ambiguous or
ill-defined. 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true; and we entirely agree with you.

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

CLEINIAS: You are quite right.

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

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: Do we not consider each of ourselves to be one?


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: I am hardly able to follow you; proceed, however, as if I

MEGILLUS: I am in the like case.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

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

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: Suppose that we give this puppet of ours drink,--what will be
the effect on him?

CLEINIAS: Having what in view do you ask that question?

ATHENIAN: 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
this--Does the drinking of wine heighten and increase pleasures and
pains, and passions and loves?

CLEINIAS: Very greatly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Yes, they entirely desert him.

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

CLEINIAS: He does.

ATHENIAN: Then at that time he will have the least control over himself?

CLEINIAS: The least.

ATHENIAN: And will he not be in a most wretched plight?

CLEINIAS: Most wretched.

ATHENIAN: Then not only an old man but also a drunkard becomes a second
time a child?

CLEINIAS: Well said, Stranger.

ATHENIAN: 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

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

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

CLEINIAS: To be 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

ATHENIAN: Are you speaking of the soul?


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Yes, all that is well known.

ATHENIAN: Also that they go of their own accord for the sake of the
subsequent benefit?

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: And we may conceive this to be true in the same way of other

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: What are they?

ATHENIAN: There is the fear of expected evil.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: There are.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

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

CLEINIAS: Clearly.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: A most unlikely supposition.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: But has such a draught, Stranger, ever really been known among

ATHENIAN: 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?'

CLEINIAS: 'I should,' will be the answer of every one.

ATHENIAN: 'And you would rather have a touchstone in which there is no
risk and no great danger than the reverse?'

CLEINIAS: In that proposition every one may safely agree.

ATHENIAN: '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?'

CLEINIAS: He would be certain, Stranger, to use the potion.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Yes, Stranger, in that last case, too, he might equally show
his self-control.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I suppose that he will say, Yes,--meaning that wine is such a

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: I think that every one will admit the truth of your

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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--

CLEINIAS: Which you said to be characteristic of reverence, if I am not

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That is probably the case.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That is certainly true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Exactly so.


ATHENIAN: 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.

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

CLEINIAS: You talk rather grandly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I assent.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And the chorus is made up of two parts, dance and song?


ATHENIAN: Then he who is well educated will be able to sing and dance

CLEINIAS: I suppose that he will.

ATHENIAN: Let us see; what are we saying?


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

CLEINIAS: Let us make the addition.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: There is a great difference, Stranger, in the two kinds of

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: How can they, when the very colours of their faces differ?

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: Once more, are all of us equally delighted with every sort of

CLEINIAS: Far otherwise.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I think that there is.

ATHENIAN: '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?

CLEINIAS: I know of none.

ATHENIAN: 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 well-conditioned parents?
Is the poet to train his choruses as he pleases, without reference to
virtue or vice?

CLEINIAS: That is surely quite unreasonable, and is not to be thought

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

CLEINIAS: And what are the laws about music and dancing in Egypt?

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: How extraordinary!

ATHENIAN: I should rather say, How statesmanlike, how worthy of a
legislator! I know that other things in Egypt are not 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.

CLEINIAS: Your arguments seem to prove your point.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: And when rejoicing in our good fortune, we are unable to be


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Possibly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: In what respect?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

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

CLEINIAS: By all means.

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

CLEINIAS: Of course.

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

CLEINIAS: Very likely.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly they are.

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

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I think that we partly agree and partly do not.

ATHENIAN: When a man has health and wealth and a tyranny which lasts,
and when he is pre-eminent 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 nature--of such
an one you are, I suspect, unwilling to believe that he is miserable
rather than happy.

CLEINIAS: That is quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And an evil life too?

CLEINIAS: I am not equally disposed to grant that.

ATHENIAN: Will he not live painfully and to his own disadvantage?

CLEINIAS: How can I possibly say so?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: And which may be supposed to be the truer judgment--that of
the inferior or of the better soul?

CLEINIAS: Surely, that of the better soul.

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

CLEINIAS: That seems to be implied in the present argument.

ATHENIAN: 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

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

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

CLEINIAS: What is that story?

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: I assent to what you say.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

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

CLEINIAS: Will you try to be a little plainer?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: I quite remember.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: 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.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: Are we agreed thus far?

CLEINIAS: About what?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Every one will agree.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: But, says the argument, we cannot let them off.

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


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: No doubt.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: He will be far more ready.

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

CLEINIAS: None at all.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And what strain is suitable for heroes? Shall they sing a
choric strain?

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Once more, Stranger, I must complain that you depreciate our

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Just so.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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?


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


ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: You are speaking of harmless pleasure, are you not?

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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: Do we not regard all music as representative and imitative?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

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

CLEINIAS: They will.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: 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


ATHENIAN: There are ten thousand likenesses of objects of sight?


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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 years' 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?

CLEINIAS: Clearly they cannot.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That is most certain.

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

CLEINIAS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: To what do you refer?

ATHENIAN: 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
(compare Euthyph.; Republic); 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.

CLEINIAS: To be sure, I remember.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That, Stranger, is precisely what was said.

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

CLEINIAS: What is the other half, and how do you divide the subject?

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Most true.

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

CLEINIAS: We were right.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: You quite understand me; do as you say.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: There will not.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Very true.

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

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

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

CLEINIAS: What more have you to say?

ATHENIAN: 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 day-time 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.

CLEINIAS: Excellent: we agree.


ATHENIAN: 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?

ATHENIAN: 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


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


ATHENIAN: But are sure that it must be vast and incalculable?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

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

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

ATHENIAN: Do you believe that there is any truth in ancient traditions?

CLEINIAS: What traditions?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Every one is disposed to believe them.

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

CLEINIAS: What are we to observe about it?

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Clearly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Let us suppose, then, that the cities in the plain and on the
sea-coast were utterly destroyed at that time.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

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

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: Have you forgotten, Cleinias, the name of a friend who is
really of yesterday?

CLEINIAS: I suppose that you mean Epimenides.

ATHENIAN: 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 (Works and Days) only preached.

CLEINIAS: Yes, according to our tradition.

ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: And of cities or governments or legislation, about which we
are now talking, do you suppose that they could have any recollection at

CLEINIAS: None whatever.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I understand your meaning, and you are quite right.

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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

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

CLEINIAS: A highly probable supposition.

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

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: There could not have been.

ATHENIAN: In how many generations would this be attained?

CLEINIAS: Clearly, not for many generations.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

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

CLEINIAS: How would that be?

ATHENIAN: In the first place, the desolation of these primitive men
would create in them a feeling of affection and goodwill 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.

CLEINIAS: That quite accords with my views, and with those of my friend

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Probably.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare
Arist. Pol.), 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.'

CLEINIAS: 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.

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


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Yes; at least we may suppose so.

ATHENIAN: There is another thing which would probably happen.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

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


ATHENIAN: Then now we seem to have stumbled upon the beginnings of

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Yes, that would be the natural order of things.

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

CLEINIAS: What is that?

ATHENIAN: The form which in fact Homer indicates as following the
second. This third form arose when, as he says, Dardanus founded

'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.


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Such is the tradition.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: There must have been a long interval, clearly.

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

CLEINIAS: Doubtless.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Clearly.

ATHENIAN: The Achaeans remained ten years, and overthrew Troy.


ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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

MEGILLUS: 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.

ATHENIAN: Then I suppose that we must consider this subject?

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.


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

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

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


ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: What security?

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


ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Exactly.

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

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

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

MEGILLUS: What advantage?

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Very true.

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

MEGILLUS: How do you mean; and why do you blame them?

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

MEGILLUS: The question which you ask is not easily answered.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Certainly; and we must find out why this was.

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: I know of none.

ATHENIAN: 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 Heraclidae--Achaeans by Dorians. May we not suppose
that this was the intention with which the men of those days framed the
constitutions of their states?

MEGILLUS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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

MEGILLUS: Of course they would.

ATHENIAN: 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 your land.
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.

MEGILLUS: No doubt.

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

MEGILLUS: 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.

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

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: To what are you referring, and what do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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!'

MEGILLUS: And would he not be justified?

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: He would.

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

MEGILLUS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: 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

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: No doubt.

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


ATHENIAN: Dear is the son to the father--the younger to the elder.

MEGILLUS: Of course.

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

MEGILLUS: When the son is young and foolish, you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

MEGILLUS: Excellent, Cleinias; let us do as you say.

CLEINIAS: By all means, if Heaven wills. Go on.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That is evident.

ATHENIAN: 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--


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Yes, my friend, we understand and agree.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Let it be so laid down.

ATHENIAN: I suppose that there must be rulers and subjects in states?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: There is.

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

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: And, fourthly, that slaves should be ruled, and their masters

CLEINIAS: Of course.

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

CLEINIAS: That is a rule not to be disobeyed.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Most true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: '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.'

CLEINIAS: Very true.

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

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very likely.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Speak a little more clearly.

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

MEGILLUS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: 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


ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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 connexion 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: That certainly appears to have been the case.

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

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What makes you say so?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: A splendid education truly!

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What would you expect?

ATHENIAN: 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 shepherds--sons of a rugged
land, which is a stern mother, and well fitted to produce a sturdy race
able to live in the open air and go without sleep, and also to fight, if
fighting is required (compare Arist. Pol.). 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

CLEINIAS: So runs the tale, and such probably were the facts.

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


ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: What do you mean, Stranger?

ATHENIAN: I suppose that courage is a part of virtue?

MEGILLUS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: Heaven forbid!

ATHENIAN: Or an artist, who was clever in his profession, but a rogue?

MEGILLUS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: And surely justice does not grow apart from temperance?

MEGILLUS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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?


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

MEGILLUS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: I should like to know whether temperance without the other
virtues, existing alone in the soul of man, is rightly to be praised or

MEGILLUS: I cannot tell.

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

MEGILLUS: I am fortunate.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: You are speaking of temperance?

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: And ought not the legislator to determine these classes?

MEGILLUS: Certainly he should.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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 if 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?

MEGILLUS: Yes; let that be plainly declared.

ATHENIAN: 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 their actions that the ordinary
distinctions of right and wrong which are made in a state are a trifle,
when compared with gold and silver.

MEGILLUS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: And now enough of the Persians, and their present
mal-administration of their government, which is owing to the excess of
slavery and despotism among them.


ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

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

MEGILLUS: What laws do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Republic). 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 (compare Arist.
Pol.). 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?

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Consequent upon this freedom comes the other freedom, of
disobedience to rulers (compare Republic); 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?

MEGILLUS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: This, then, has been said for the sake--

MEGILLUS: Of what?

ATHENIAN: 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?

MEGILLUS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: With a view to this we selected two kinds of government,
the one the most 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.

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

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

CLEINIAS: Thank you.

MEGILLUS: And so will I.

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


ATHENIAN: 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.

ATHENIAN: And are there harbours on the seaboard?

CLEINIAS: Excellent harbours, Stranger; there could not be better.

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

CLEINIAS: Hardly in need of anything.

ATHENIAN: And is there any neighbouring State?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: And has the place a fair proportion of hill, and plain, and

CLEINIAS: Like the rest of Crete in that.

ATHENIAN: You mean to say that there is more rock than plain?

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Ar. Pol.). 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

CLEINIAS: I remember, and am of opinion that we both were and are in the

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

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: These are also natural advantages.


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

CLEINIAS: How does that bear upon any of the matters of which we have
been speaking?

ATHENIAN: Remember, my good friend, what I said at first about the
Cretan laws, that they looked 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 fall 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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 not mistaken, is a remark
which has been made already.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: The best by far.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: To what are you referring?

ATHENIAN: 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 disease 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.

CLEINIAS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: That God governs all things, and that chance and opportunity
co-operate 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?


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Most true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

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

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: And the legislator would do likewise?

CLEINIAS: I believe that he would.

ATHENIAN: '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?


ATHENIAN: 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.'

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

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

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: How? I do not understand.

ATHENIAN: 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?

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

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

CLEINIAS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Of what are you speaking?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: How do you mean?

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

CLEINIAS: Let us proceed without delay.

ATHENIAN: 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!

CLEINIAS: May He come!

ATHENIAN: But what form of polity are we going to give the city?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Perhaps you should.

MEGILLUS: 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
(compare Ar. Pol.)? 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: And who is this God?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Statesman).

CLEINIAS: It will be very necessary to hear about that.

ATHENIAN: I quite agree with you; and therefore I have introduced the

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

ATHENIAN: 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 ease and pleasure
to themselves, and no less to us, taking care of 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly we will.

ATHENIAN: You are aware,--are you not?--that there are often 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.


ATHENIAN: Justice is said by them to be the interest of the stronger

CLEINIAS: Speak plainer.

ATHENIAN: I will:--'Surely,' they say, 'the governing power makes
whatever laws have authority in any state'?


ATHENIAN: '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'?

CLEINIAS: How can they have any other?

ATHENIAN: 'And whoever transgresses these laws is punished as an
evil-doer by the legislator, who calls the laws just'?

CLEINIAS: Naturally.

ATHENIAN: 'This, then, is always the mode and fashion in which justice

CLEINIAS: Certainly, if they are correct in their view.

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

CLEINIAS: Which do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Yes; I remember.

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

CLEINIAS: What thing?

ATHENIAN: 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 offices 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.

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

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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: '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'?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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
(compare Crat.; Theaet.), 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
a 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 numbers, 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.

CLEINIAS: What is that?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.'
(Works and Days.)

CLEINIAS: Yes; and he certainly speaks well.

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

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: 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.'

CLEINIAS: Of course he can.

ATHENIAN: '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.'

CLEINIAS: That is true.

ATHENIAN: May we not fairly make answer to him on behalf of the poets?

CLEINIAS: What answer shall we make to him?

ATHENIAN: 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 in 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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 practices 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

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

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly I should.

ATHENIAN: What will be our first law? Will not the legislator, observing
the order of nature, begin by making regulations for states about

CLEINIAS: He will.

ATHENIAN: In all states the birth of children goes back to the connexion
of marriage?

CLEINIAS: Very true.

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

CLEINIAS: Quite so.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: 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.

CLEINIAS: Thank you, Megillus.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: 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 good-will 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: I understand you to mean that we have made a sufficient
preamble about Gods and demigods, and about parents living or dead; and
now you would have us bring the rest of the subject into the light of

CLEINIAS: Exactly.

ATHENIAN: 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 amusements, and thus arrive, as far as in us lies,
at the nature of education. These then are the topics which follow next
in order.

CLEINIAS: Very good.


ATHENIAN: 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
(compare Republic). 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; I 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 elements 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 lives--the 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
class 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, an 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 (compare Statesman), 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 their's 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 connexion 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
(compare Republic),--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
(compare Arist. Pol.), 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 may acquit himself and free others from the work of

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

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;--there 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 (compare
Arist. Pol.). 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 (compare Arist. Pol.). 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 the 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

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 (compare Republic). 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 of 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 demigods 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: And now having made an end of the preliminaries we will
proceed to the appointment of magistracies.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What have you got to say?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Impossible.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Excellent, Stranger.

ATHENIAN: Yes; and I will be as good as my word.

CLEINIAS: Let us by all means do as you propose.

ATHENIAN: That we will, by the grace of God, if old age will only permit

CLEINIAS: But God will be gracious.

ATHENIAN: Yes; and under his guidance let us consider a further point.

CLEINIAS: What is it?

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

CLEINIAS: What had you in your mind when you said that?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: A reasonable supposition.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What method can we devise of electing them?

ATHENIAN: 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 these 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Arist. Pol.), 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 Agora 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 he 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.

CLEINIAS: That is very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: 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 offences. 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 counter-proposal 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 180 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 harmonised 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 look,--not to the
interests of tyrants one or more, or to the power of the people, but to
justice always; which, as I was saying, is 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 no 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?

CLEINIAS: To be sure there ought.

ATHENIAN: 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 buildings, 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 (compare Arist. Pol.);
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 in 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 cognisant 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

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. But 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 (Arist. Pol.); 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
first-fruits, choosing in each office him who seems to them to be
the best, and whom they deem likely to decide the causes of his
fellow-citizens 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: Thus far, then, the old men's rational pastime has gone off

CLEINIAS: You mean, I suppose, their serious and noble pursuit?

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

CLEINIAS: About what thing?

ATHENIAN: 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

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

ATHENIAN: 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?


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Assuredly, that is the sort of thing which every one would

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: And is not this what you and I have to do at the present

CLEINIAS: What have we to do?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly; if we can.

ATHENIAN: At any rate, we must do our best.

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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 agreed--that 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

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 (compare Tim.). 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 (compare Republic) 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 connexion
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 (compare Arist. Pol.). For, as Cleinias says, every law
should have a suitable prelude.

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

ATHENIAN: 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 connexions;--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
(compare Statesman). 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 fellow-citizens, 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 class 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, he
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
dwelling-places, 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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.


CLEINIAS: Then what are we to do in our own country, Stranger, seeing
that there are such differences in the treatment of slaves by their

ATHENIAN: 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 of
slave, and freeman, and master.

CLEINIAS: That is obvious.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Aris. Pol.); 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 (compare Arist. Pol.), 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: The temples are to be placed all round the agora, and the
whole city built on the heights in a circle (compare Arist. Pol.), 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 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 offences 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 (compare
Arist. Pol.); 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 (compare Arist. Pol.). 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

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Likely enough.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What is the cause, Stranger, of this extreme hesitation?

ATHENIAN: 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
well-ordered; 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 (Arist. Pol.), 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: No doubt.

ATHENIAN: 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


ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: Some one might say to us, What is the drift of all this?

CLEINIAS: A very pertinent question, Stranger.

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

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

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

CLEINIAS: What do you bid us keep in mind?

ATHENIAN: That which we comprehended under the three words--first,
eating, secondly, drinking, thirdly, the excitement of love.

CLEINIAS: We shall be sure to remember, Stranger.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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 in 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 connexion 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 longest,--for 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. Am I not right in maintaining that a good education is that
which tends most to the improvement of mind and body?

CLEINIAS: Undoubtedly.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.


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


ATHENIAN: And the body should have the most exercise when it receives
most nourishment?

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

ATHENIAN: Nay, rather on the bodies of infants still unborn.

CLEINIAS: What do you mean, my good sir? In the process of gestation?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Republic), 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 the 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 (compare Arist. Pol.),--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.

CLEINIAS: What penalty?

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

CLEINIAS: Then why was there any need to speak of the matter at all?

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Republic); 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.

CLEINIAS: Likely enough.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Arist. Pol.); 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.

CLEINIAS: Well, Stranger, and what is the reason of this?

ATHENIAN: The reason is obvious.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Republic), and every
one will allow that this is the way to form a habit of cowardice and not
of courage.

CLEINIAS: No doubt.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: 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?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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? (Compare Arist. Pol.)

CLEINIAS: To be sure, Stranger--more especially if we could procure him
a variety of pleasures.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: 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 (compare Republic), 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.

CLEINIAS: 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?

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

CLEINIAS: What is it?

ATHENIAN: 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.

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

ATHENIAN: 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 of 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.

CLEINIAS: In what respect?

ATHENIAN: 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, 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 of 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?

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

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What have you to say, Stranger?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: You mean the evil of blaming antiquity in states?

ATHENIAN: Exactly.

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

ATHENIAN: I should expect so.

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: That is the only doctrine which we can admit.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Most true.

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

CLEINIAS: What is their method?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: In the consideration of this subject, let us remember what is
due to ourselves.

CLEINIAS: To what are you referring?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Most true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Excellent, Stranger; let us do as you propose.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: 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--


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: By all means; that law is approved by the suffrages of us all.

ATHENIAN: But what shall be our next musical law or type? Ought not
prayers to be offered up to the Gods when we sacrifice?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Were we not a little while ago quite convinced that no silver
or golden Plutus should dwell in our state?

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: 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--

CLEINIAS: What? will you explain the law more precisely?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Let it be so, by all means.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: In what respect?

ATHENIAN: At present they think that their serious pursuits 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

'Telemachus, some things thou wilt thyself find in thy heart, but other
things God will suggest; for I deem that thou wast not born or 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.

ATHENIAN: 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

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 as 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?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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, as in Lacedaemon, Megillus--letting 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 the 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.

MEGILLUS: What shall we do, Cleinias? Shall we allow a stranger to run
down Sparta in this fashion?

CLEINIAS: Yes; for as we have given him liberty of speech we must let
him go on until we have perfected the work of legislation.

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Then now I may proceed?

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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 hand-maidens
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 as 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 as 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 effect--that 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 able to read and write; but the acquisition of perfect beauty or
quickness in writing, 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.

CLEINIAS: What troubles you, Stranger? and why are you so perplexed in
your mind?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: To what do you refer in this instance?

ATHENIAN: I will tell you. There is a difficulty in opposing many
myriads of mouths.

CLEINIAS: Well, and have we not already opposed the popular voice in
many important enactments?

ATHENIAN: 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 path of legislation which has opened out of our
present discourse, and to be of good cheer, and not to faint.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Yes, I do.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: How would you advise the guardian of the law to act?

ATHENIAN: In what respect?

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: My good Cleinias, I rather think that I am fortunate.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: And now that we have done with the teacher of letters, the
teacher of the lyre has to receive orders from us.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: To what do you refer?

ATHENIAN: We were saying, if I remember rightly, that the sixty
years 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

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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 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

CLEINIAS: That, again, is true.

ATHENIAN: 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 exercises--ought they not?


ATHENIAN: Then the boys ought to have dancing masters, and the girls
dancing mistresses to exercise them.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: But how will an old man be able to attend to such great

ATHENIAN: 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!

CLEINIAS: Such a want of education, Stranger, is certainly an unseemly
thing to happen in a state, as well as a great misfortune.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I quite agree.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Excellent. ATHENIAN: 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 moves
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

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 cannot 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

CLEINIAS: We can have no hesitation in assenting when you put the matter

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: And what necessities of knowledge are there, Stranger, which
are divine and not human?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: I think, Stranger, that what you have now said is very true
and agreeable to nature.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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, and 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.

CLEINIAS: What kind of ignorance do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: About what? Say, Stranger, what you mean.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And what breadth is?

CLEINIAS: To be sure.

ATHENIAN: And you know that these are two distinct things, and that
there is a third thing called depth?

CLEINIAS: Of course.

ATHENIAN: And do not all these seem to you to be commensurable with


ATHENIAN: That is to say, length is naturally commensurable with length,
and breadth with breadth, and depth in like manner with depth?

CLEINIAS: Undoubtedly.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Clearly, far from good.

ATHENIAN: Concerning length and breadth when compared with depth, or
breadth and length when compared with one another, are not all the
Hellenes agreed that these are commensurable with one another in some

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And there are other things akin to these, in which there
spring up other errors of the same family.

CLEINIAS: What are they?

ATHENIAN: The natures of commensurable and incommensurable quantities in
their relation to one another. A man who is good for anything 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 far
better and more graceful way of passing their time than the old man's
game of draughts.

CLEINIAS: I dare say; and these pastimes are not so very unlike a game
of draughts.

ATHENIAN: 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 any one is of another mind, let him say what he has to say.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: Then if these studies are such as we maintain, we will include
them; if not, they shall be excluded.

CLEINIAS: Assuredly: but may we not now, Stranger, prescribe these
studies as necessary, and so fill up the lacunae of our laws?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: A fair condition.

ATHENIAN: Next let us see whether we are or are not willing that the
study of astronomy shall be proposed for our youth.

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: Here occurs a strange phenomenon, which certainly cannot in
any point of view be tolerated.

CLEINIAS: To what are you referring?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Your words are reasonable enough; but shall we find any good
or true notion about the stars?

ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: Lies of what nature?

ATHENIAN: We say that they and divers other stars do not keep the same
path, and we call them planets or wanderers.

CLEINIAS: 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 path in
all manner of ways, and I have seen the sun and moon doing what we all
know that they do.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Worse than ludicrous, I should say.

ATHENIAN: At all events, the Gods cannot like us to be spreading a false
report of them.

CLEINIAS: Most true, if such is the fact.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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 wild 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 whithersoever 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

CLEINIAS: Very good.


ATHENIAN: 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.

ATHENIAN: 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
connexion 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 no fellow, either in respect of leisure or
command 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 in 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, in which praise or blame has been
awarded and which have been deemed to fulfil their design fairly.

The regulations about war, and 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 not 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?

CLEINIAS: The way which you mention, Stranger, would be the only way.

ATHENIAN: And shall the warriors of our city, who are destined when
occasion calls 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

CLEINIAS: We are quite agreed, Stranger, that we should legislate about
such things, and that the whole state should practise them.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: Perhaps.

ATHENIAN: Certainly not, sweet Cleinias; there are two causes, which are
quite enough to account for the deficiency.

CLEINIAS: What are they?

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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

CLEINIAS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: Must not they be truly unfortunate whose souls are compelled
to pass through life always hungering?

CLEINIAS: Then that is one cause, Stranger; but you spoke of another.

ATHENIAN: Thank you for reminding me.

CLEINIAS: The insatiable lifelong love of wealth, as you were saying,
is one cause which absorbs mankind, and prevents them from rightly
practising the arts of war: Granted; and now tell me, what is the other?

ATHENIAN: Do you imagine that I delay because I am in a perplexity?

CLEINIAS: 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

ATHENIAN: That is a very fair rebuke, Cleinias; and I will now proceed
to the second cause.

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: 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.


ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Neither of them can attain their greatest efficiency without

CLEINIAS: How can they?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: 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 race-ground 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 are 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
our 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.

CLEINIAS: What is this, Stranger, that you are saying? For we do not as
yet understand your meaning.

ATHENIAN: 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 the 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.

CLEINIAS: How is that?

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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 difficulty 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.

Athenian: I knew well, my friend, that I should obtain your assent,
which I accept, and therefore have no need to analyze 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.

MEGILLUS: Very good.

ATHENIAN: Upon reflection I see a way of imposing the law, which, in one
respect, is easy, but, in another, is of the utmost difficulty.

MEGILLUS: What do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: When do you mean?

ATHENIAN: 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 connexion ever takes place between
them. Nor does the thought of such a thing ever enter at all into the
minds of most of them.

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Does not a little word extinguish all pleasures of that sort?

MEGILLUS: What word?

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: You are very right in saying that tradition, if no breath of
opposition ever assails it, has a marvellous power.

ATHENIAN: 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.

MEGILLUS: Yes; but will he ever succeed in making all mankind use the
same language about them?

ATHENIAN: 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 law 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

MEGILLUS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: By all means.

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: He will be far more temperate when he is in training.

ATHENIAN: 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, and also
because he was of a manly and temperate disposition, never had any
connexion 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.

CLEINIAS: No doubt this fact has been often affirmed positively by the
ancients of these athletes.

ATHENIAN: And had they the courage to abstain from what is ordinarily
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?

CLEINIAS: Of what victory are you speaking?

ATHENIAN: 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?

CLEINIAS: I dare say.

ATHENIAN: 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.

CLEINIAS: And what law would you advise them to pass if this one failed?

ATHENIAN: Clearly, Cleinias, the one which would naturally follow.

CLEINIAS: What is that?

ATHENIAN: 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 bod