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Laws by Plato

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countrymen--they are like pigs--and I am heartily ashamed both on my own
behalf and on that of all the Hellenes. 'In what respect?' Let me ask you
a question. You know that there are such things as length, breadth, and
depth? 'Yes.' And the Hellenes imagine that they are commensurable (1)
with themselves, and (2) with each other; whereas they are only
commensurable with themselves. But if this is true, then we are in an
unfortunate case, and may well say to our compatriots that not to possess
necessary knowledge is a disgrace, though to possess such knowledge is
nothing very grand. 'Certainly.' The discussion of arithmetical problems
is a much better amusement for old men than their favourite game of
draughts. 'True.' Mathematics, then, will be one of the subjects in which
youth should be trained. They may be regarded as an amusement, as well as
a useful and innocent branch of knowledge;--I think that we may include
them provisionally. 'Yes; that will be the way.' The next question is,
whether astronomy shall be made a part of education. About the stars there
is a strange notion prevalent. Men often suppose that it is impious to
enquire into the nature of God and the world, whereas the very reverse is
the truth. 'How do you mean?' What I am going to say may seem absurd and
at variance with the usual language of age, and yet if true and
advantageous to the state, and pleasing to God, ought not to be withheld.
'Let us hear.' My dear friend, how falsely do we and all the Hellenes
speak about the sun and moon! 'In what respect?' We are always saying that
they and certain of the other stars do not keep the same path, and we term
them planets. 'Yes; and I have seen the morning and evening stars go all
manner of ways, and the sun and moon doing what we know that they always
do. But I wish that you would explain your meaning further.' You will
easily understand what I have had no difficulty in understanding myself,
though we are both of us past the time of learning. 'True; but what is
this marvellous knowledge which youth are to acquire, and of which we are
ignorant?' Men say that the sun, moon, and stars are planets or wanderers;
but this is the reverse of the fact. Each of them moves in one orbit only,
which is circular, and not in many; nor is the swiftest of them the
slowest, as appears to human eyes. What an insult should we offer to
Olympian runners if we were to put the first last and the last first! And
if that is a ridiculous error in speaking of men, how much more in
speaking of the Gods? They cannot be pleased at our telling falsehoods
about them. 'They cannot.' Then people should at least learn so much about
them as will enable them to avoid impiety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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