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Laws by Plato

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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 that?'

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

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' (Republic).

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 life.

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 characteristic.

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

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

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 art.

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

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 considered.

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

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 third.

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

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 health.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 them.

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

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 habits.

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 way?'

'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

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, 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

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