PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: An ATHENIAN STRANGER; CLEINIAS, a Cretan; MEGILLUS, a Lacedaemonian
Athenian Stranger. Tell me, Strangers, is a God or some man supposed to be the author of your laws?
Cleinias. A God, Stranger; in very truth a, God: among us Cretans he is said to have been Zeus, but in Lacedaemon, whence our friend here comes, I believe they would say that Apollo is their lawgiver: would they not, Megillus?
Athenian Stranger. And do you, Cleinias, believe, as Homer tells, that every ninth year Minos went to converse with his Olympian sire, and was inspired by him to make laws for your cities?
Cleinias. Yes, that is our tradition; and there was Rhadamanthus, a brother of his, with whose name you are familiar; he is reputed to have been the justest of men, and we Cretans are of opinion that he earned this reputation from his righteous administration of justice when he was alive.
Athenian Stranger. Yes, and a noble reputation it was, worthy of a son of Zeus. As you and Megillus have been trained in these institutions, I dare say that you will not be unwilling to give an account of your government and laws; on our way we can pass the time pleasantly in talking about them, for I am told that the distance from Cnosus to the cave and temple of Zeus is considerable; and doubtless there are shady places under the lofty trees, which will protect us from this scorching sun. Being no longer young, we may often stop to rest beneath them, and get over the whole journey without difficulty, beguiling the time by conversation.
Cleinias. Yes, Stranger, and if we proceed onward we shall come to groves of cypresses, which are of rare height and beauty, and there are green meadows, in which we may repose and converse.
Athenian Stranger. Very good.
Cleinias. Very good, indeed; and still better when we see them; let us move on cheerily.
Athenian Stranger. I am willing—And first, I want to know why the law has ordained that you shall have common meals and gymnastic exercises, and wear arms.
Cleinias. I think, Stranger, that the aim of our institutions is easily intelligible to any one. Look at the character of our country: Crete is not like Thessaly, a large plain; and for this reason they have horsemen in Thessaly, and we have runners—the inequality of the ground in our country is more adapted to locomotion on foot; but then, if you have runners you must have light arms—no one can carry a heavy weight when running, and bows and arrows are convenient because they are light. Now all these regulations have been made with a view to war, and the legislator appears to me to have looked to this in all his arrangements:—the common meals, if I am not mistaken, were instituted by him for a similar reason, because he saw that while they are in the field the citizens are by the nature of the case compelled to take their meals together for the sake of mutual protection. He seems to me to have thought the world foolish in not understanding that all are always at war with one another; and if in war there ought to be common meals and certain persons regularly appointed under others to protect an army, they should be continued in peace. For what men in general term peace would be said by him to be only a name; in reality every city is in a natural state of war with every other, not indeed proclaimed by heralds, but everlasting. And if you look closely, you will find that this was the intention of the Cretan legislator; all institutions, private as well as public, were arranged by him with a view to war; in giving them he was under the impression that no possessions or institutions are of any value to him who is defeated in battle; for all the good things of the conquered pass into the hands of the conquerors.
Athenian Stranger. You appear to me, Stranger, to have been thoroughly trained in the Cretan institutions, and to be well informed about them; will you tell me a little more explicitly what is the principle of government which you would lay down? You seem to imagine that a well governed state ought to be so ordered as to conquer all other states in war: am I right in supposing this to be your meaning?
Cleinias. Certainly; and our Lacedaemonian friend, if I am not mistaken, will agree with me.
Megillus. Why, my good friend, how could any Lacedaemonian say anything else?
Athenian Stranger. And is what you say applicable only to states, or also to villages?
Cleinias. To both alike.
Athenian Stranger. The case is the same?
Athenian Stranger. And in the village will there be the same war of family against family, and of individual against individual?
Cleinias. The same.
Athenian Stranger. And should each man conceive himself to be his own enemy:—what shall we say?
Cleinias. O Athenian Stranger—inhabitant of Attica I will not call you, for you seem to deserve rather to be named after the goddess herself, because you go back to first principles,—you have thrown a light upon the argument, and will now be better able to understand what I was just saying—that all men are publicly one another's enemies, and each man privately his own.
(Athenian Stranger. My good sir, what do you mean?)—
Cleinias. . . . . Moreover, there is a victory and defeat—the first and best of victories, the lowest and worst of defeats—which each man gains or sustains at the hands, not of another, but of himself; this shows that there is a war against ourselves going on within every one of us.
Athenian Stranger. Let us now reverse the order of the argument: Seeing that every individual is either his own superior or his own inferior, may we say that there is the same principle in the house, the village, and the state?
Cleinias. You mean that in each of them there is a principle of superiority or inferiority to self?
Athenian Stranger. Yes.
Cleinias. You are quite right in asking the question, for there certainly is such a principle, and above all in states; and the state in which the better citizens win a victory over the mob and over the inferior classes may be truly said to be better than itself, and may be justly praised, where such a victory is gained, or censured in the opposite case.
Athenian Stranger. Whether the better is ever really conquered by the worse, is a question which requires more discussion, and may be therefore left for the present. But I now quite understand your meaning when you say that citizens who are of the same race and live in the same cities may unjustly conspire, and having the superiority in numbers may overcome and enslave the few just; and when they prevail, the state may be truly called its own inferior and therefore bad; and when they are defeated, its own superior and therefore good.
Cleinias. Your remark, Stranger, is a paradox, and yet we cannot possibly deny it.
Athenian Stranger. Here is another case for consideration;—in a family there may be several brothers, who are the offspring of a single pair; very possibly the majority of them may be unjust, and the just may be in a minority.
Cleinias. Very possibly.
Athenian Stranger. And you and I ought not to raise a question of words as to whether this family and household are rightly said to be superior when they conquer, and inferior when they are conquered; for we are not now considering what may or may not be the proper or customary way of speaking, but we are considering the natural principles of right and wrong in laws.
Cleinias. What you say, Stranger, is most true.
Megillus. Quite excellent, in my opinion, as far as we have gone.
Athenian Stranger. Again; might there not be a judge over these brethren, of whom we were speaking?
Ath. Now, which would be the better judge—one who destroyed the bad and appointed the good to govern themselves; or one who, while allowing the good to govern, let the bad live, and made them voluntarily submit? Or third, I suppose, in the scale of excellence might be placed a judge, who, finding the family distracted, not only did not destroy any one, but reconciled them to one another for ever after, and gave them laws which they mutually observed, and was able to keep them friends.
Cleinias. The last would be by far the best sort of judge and legislator.
Athenian Stranger. And yet the aim of all the laws which he gave would be the reverse of war.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And will he who constitutes the state and orders the life of man have in view external war, or that kind of intestine war called civil, which no one, if he could prevent, would like to have occurring in his own state; and when occurring, every one would wish to be quit of as soon as possible?
Cleinias. He would have the latter chiefly in view.
Athenian Stranger. And would he prefer that this civil war should be terminated by the destruction of one of the parties, and by the victory of the other, or that peace and friendship should be re-established, and that, being reconciled, they should give their attention to foreign enemies?
Cleinias. Every one would desire the latter in the case of his own state.
Athenian Stranger. And would not that also be the desire of the legislator?
Athenian Stranger. And would not every one always make laws for the sake of the best?
Cleinias. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. But war, whether external or civil, is not the best, and the need of either is to be deprecated; but peace with one another, and good will, are best. Nor is the victory of the state over itself to be regarded as a really good thing, but as a necessity; a man might as well say that the body was in the best state when sick and purged by medicine, forgetting that there is also a state of the body which needs no purge. And in like manner no one can be a true statesman, whether he aims at the happiness of the individual or state, who looks only, or first of all, to external warfare; nor will he ever be a sound legislator who orders peace for the sake of war, and not war for the sake of peace.
Cleinias. I suppose that there is truth, Stranger, in that remark of yours; and yet I am greatly mistaken if war is not the entire aim and object of our own institutions, and also of the Lacedaemonian.
Athenian Stranger. I dare say; but there is no reason why we should rudely quarrel with one another about your legislators, instead of gently questioning them, seeing that both we and they are equally in earnest. Please follow me and the argument closely:—And first I will put forward Tyrtaeus, an Athenian by birth, but also a Spartan citizen, who of all men was most eager about war: Well, he says, "I sing not, I care not, about any man, even if he were the richest of men, and possessed every good (and then he gives a whole list of them), if he be not at all times a brave warrior." I imagine that you, too, must have heard his poems; our Lacedaemonian friend has probably heard more than enough of them.
Megillus. Very true.
Cleinias. And they have found their way from Lacedaemon to Crete.
Ath. Come now and let us all join in asking this question of Tyrtaeus: O most divine poet, we will say to him, the excellent praise which you have bestowed on those who excel in war sufficiently proves that you are wise and good, and I and Megillus and Cleinias of Cnosus do, as I believe, entirely agree with you. But we should like to be quite sure that we are speaking of the same men; tell us, then, do you agree with us in thinking that there are two kinds of war; or what would you say? A far inferior man to Tyrtaeus would have no difficulty in replying quite truly, that war is of two kinds one which is universally called civil war, and is as we were just now saying, of all wars the worst; the other, as we should all admit, in which we fall out with other nations who are of a different race, is a far milder form of warfare.
Cleinias. Certainly, far milder.
Athenian Stranger. Well, now, when you praise and blame war in this high-flown strain, whom are you praising or blaming, and to which kind of war are you referring? I suppose that you must mean foreign war, if I am to judge from expressions of yours in which you say that you abominate those
'Who refuse to look upon fields of blood, and will not draw near and strike at their enemies.'
And we shall naturally go on to say to him—You, Tyrtaeus, as it seems, praise those who distinguish themselves in external and foreign war; and he must admit this.
Athenian Stranger. They are good; but we say that there are still better men whose virtue is displayed in the greatest of all battles. And we too have a poet whom we summon as a witness, Theognis, citizen of Megara in Sicily:—
'Cyrnus,' he says, 'he who is faithful in a civil broil is worth his weight in gold and silver.'
And such an one is far better, as we affirm, than the other in a more difficult kind of war, much in the same degree as justice and temperance and wisdom, when united with courage, are better than courage only; for a man cannot be faithful and good in civil strife without having all virtue. But in the war of which Tyrtaeus speaks, many a mercenary soldier will take his stand and be ready to die at his post, and yet they are generally and almost without exception insolent, unjust, violent men, and the most senseless of human beings. You will ask what the conclusion is, and what I am seeking to prove: I maintain that the divine legislator of Crete, like any other who is worthy of consideration, will always and above all things in making laws have regard to the greatest virtue; which, according to Theognis, is loyalty in the hour of danger, and may be truly called perfect justice. Whereas, that virtue which Tyrtaeus highly praises is well enough, and was praised by the poet at the right time, yet in place and dignity may be said to be only fourth rate.
Cleinias. Stranger, we are degrading our inspired lawgiver to a rank which is far beneath him.
Athenian Stranger. Nay, I think that we degrade not him but ourselves, if we imagine that Lycurgus and Minos laid down laws both in Lacedaemon and Crete mainly with a view to war.
Cleinias. What ought we to say then?
Athenian Stranger. What truth and what justice require of us, if I am not mistaken, when speaking in behalf of divine excellence;—that the legislator when making his laws had in view not a part only, and this the lowest part of virtue, but all virtue, and that he devised classes of laws answering to the kinds of virtue; not in the way in which modern inventors of laws make the classes, for they only investigate and offer laws whenever a want is felt, and one man has a class of laws about allotments and heiresses, another about assaults; others about ten thousand other such matters. But we maintain that the right way of examining into laws is to proceed as we have now done, and I admired the spirit of your exposition; for you were quite right in beginning with virtue, and saying that this was the aim of the giver of the law, but I thought that you went wrong when you added that all his legislation had a view only to a part, and the least part of virtue, and this called forth my subsequent remarks. Will you allow me then to explain how I should have liked to have heard you expound the matter?
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. You ought to have said, Stranger,—The Cretan laws are with reason famous among the Hellenes; for they fulfill the object of laws, which is to make those who use them happy; and they confer every sort of good. Now goods are of two kinds: there are human and there are divine goods, and the human hang upon the divine; and the state which attains the greater, at the same time acquires the less, or, not having the greater, has neither. Of the lesser goods the first is health, the second beauty, the third strength, including swiftness in running and bodily agility generally, and the fourth is wealth, not the blind god [Pluto], but one who is keen of sight, if only he has wisdom for his companion. For wisdom is chief and leader of the divine class of goods, and next follows temperance; and from the union of these two with courage springs justice, and fourth in the scale of virtue is courage. All these naturally take precedence of the other goods, and this is the order in which the legislator must place them, and after them he will enjoin the rest of his ordinances on the citizens with a view to these, the human looking to the divine, and the divine looking to their leader mind. Some of his ordinances will relate to contracts of marriage which they make one with another, and then to the procreation and education of children, both male and female; the duty of the lawgiver will be to take charge of his citizens, in youth and age, and at every time of life, and to give them punishments and rewards; and in reference to all their intercourse with one another, he ought to consider their pains and pleasures and desires, and the vehemence of all their passions; he should keep a watch over them, and blame and praise them rightly by the mouth of the laws themselves. Also with regard to anger and terror, and the other perturbations of the soul, which arise out of misfortune, and the deliverances from them which prosperity brings, and the experiences which come to men in diseases, or in war, or poverty, or the opposite of these; in all these states he should determine and teach what is the good and evil of the condition of each. In the next place, the legislator has to be careful how the citizens make their money and in what way they spend it, and to have an eye to their mutual contracts and dissolutions of contracts, whether voluntary or involuntary: he should see how they order all this, and consider where justice as well as injustice is found or is wanting in their several dealings with one another; and honor those who obey the law, and impose fixed penalties on those who disobey, until the round of civil life is ended, and the time has come for the consideration of the proper funeral rites and honors of the dead. And the lawgiver reviewing his work, will appoint guardians to preside over these things—some who walk by intelligence, others by true opinion only, and then mind will bind together all his ordinances and show them to be in harmony with temperance and justice, and not with wealth or ambition. This is the spirit, Stranger, in which I was and am desirous that you should pursue the subject. And I want to know the nature of all these things, and how they are arranged in the laws of Zeus, as they are termed, and in those of the Pythian Apollo, which Minos and Lycurgus gave; and how the order of them is discovered to his eyes, who has experience in laws gained either by study or habit, although they are far from being self-evident to the rest of mankind like ourselves.
Cleinias. How shall we proceed, Stranger?
Athenian Stranger. I think that we must begin again as before, and first consider the habit of courage; and then we will go on and discuss another and then another form of virtue, if you please. In this way we shall have a model of the whole; and with these and similar discourses we will beguile the way. And when we have gone through all the virtues, we will show, by the grace of God, that the institutions of which I was speaking look to virtue.
Megillus. Very good; and suppose that you first criticize this praiser of Zeus and the laws of Crete.
Athenian Stranger. I will try to criticize you and myself, as well as him, for the argument is a common concern. Tell me,—were not first the syssitia, and secondly the gymnasia, invented by your legislator with a view to war?
Athenian Stranger. And what comes third, and what fourth? For that, I think, is the sort of enumeration which ought to be made of the remaining parts of virtue, no matter whether you call them parts or what their name is, provided the meaning is clear.
Megillus. Then I, or any other Lacedaemonian, would reply that hunting is third in order.
Athenian Stranger. Let us see if we can discover what comes fourth and fifth.
Megillus. I think that I can get as far as the fourth head, which is the frequent endurance of pain, exhibited among us Spartans in certain hand-to-hand fights; also in stealing with the prospect of getting a good beating; there is, too, the so-called Crypteia, or secret service, in which wonderful endurance is shown,—our people wander over the whole country by day and by night, and even in winter have not a shoe to their foot, and are without beds to lie upon, and have to attend upon themselves. Marvellous, too, is the endurance which our citizens show in their naked exercises, contending against the violent summer heat; and there are many similar practices, to speak of which in detail would be endless.
Athenian Stranger. Excellent, O Lacedaemonian Stranger. But how ought we to define courage? Is it to be regarded only as a combat against fears and pains, or also against desires and pleasures, and against flatteries; which exercise such a tremendous power, that they make the hearts even of respectable citizens to melt like wax?
Megillus. I should say the latter.
Athenian Stranger. In what preceded, as you will remember, our Cnosian friend was speaking of a man or a city being inferior to themselves:—Were you not, Cleinias?
Cleinias. I was.
Athenian Stranger. Now, which is in the truest sense inferior, the man who is overcome by pleasure or by pain?
Cleinias. I should say the man who is overcome by pleasure; for all men deem him to be inferior in a more disgraceful sense, than the other who is overcome by pain.
Athenian Stranger. But surely the lawgivers of Crete and Lacedaemon have not legislated for a courage which is lame of one leg, able only to meet attacks which come from the left, but impotent against the insidious flatteries which come from the right?
Cleinias. Able to meet both, I should say.
Athenian Stranger. Then let me once more ask, what institutions have you in either of your states which give a taste of pleasures, and do not avoid them any more than they avoid pains; but which set a person in the midst of them, and compel or induce him by the prospect of reward to get the better of them? Where is an ordinance about pleasure similar to that about pain to be found in your laws? Tell me what there is of this nature among you:—What is there which makes your citizen equally brave against pleasure and pain, conquering what they ought to conquer, and superior to the enemies who are most dangerous and nearest home?
Megillus. I was able to tell you, Stranger, many laws which were directed against pain; but I do not know that I can point out any great or obvious examples of similar institutions which are concerned with pleasure; there are some lesser provisions, however, which I might mention.
Cleinias. Neither can I show anything of that sort which is at all equally prominent in the Cretan laws.
Athenian Stranger. No wonder, my dear friends; and if, as is very likely, in our search after the true and good, one of us may have to censure the laws of the others, we must not be offended, but take kindly what another says.
Cleinias. You are quite right, Athenian Stranger, and we will do as you say.
Athenian Stranger. At our time of life, Cleinias, there should be no feeling of irritation.
Cleinias. Certainly not.
Athenian Stranger. I will not at present determine whether he who censures the Cretan or Lacedaemonian polities is right or wrong. But I believe that I can tell better than either of you what the many say about them. For assuming that you have reasonably good laws, one of the best of them will be the law forbidding any young men to enquire which of them are right or wrong; but with one mouth and one voice they must all agree that the laws are all good, for they came from God; and any one who says the contrary is not to be listened to. But an old man who remarks any defect in your laws may communicate his observation to a ruler or to an equal in years when no young man is present.
Cleinias. Exactly so, Stranger; and like a diviner, although not there at the time, you seem to me quite to have hit the meaning of the legislator, and to say what is most true.
Athenian Stranger. As there are no young men present, and the legislator has given old men free licence, there will be no impropriety in our discussing these very matters now that we are alone.
Cleinias. True. And therefore you may be as free as you like in your censure of our laws, for there is no discredit in knowing what is wrong; he who receives what is said in a generous and friendly spirit will be all the better for it.
Athenian Stranger. Very good; however, I am not going to say anything against your laws until to the best of my ability I have examined them, but I am going to raise doubts about them. For you are the only people known to us, whether Greek or barbarian, whom the legislator commanded to eschew all great pleasures and amusements and never to touch them; whereas in the matter of pains or fears which we have just been discussing, he thought that they who from infancy had always avoided pains and fears and sorrows, when they were compelled to face them would run away from those who were hardened in them, and would become their subjects. Now the legislator ought to have considered that this was equally true of pleasure; he should have said to himself, that if our citizens are from their youth upward unacquainted with the greatest pleasures, and unused to endure amid the temptations of pleasure, and are not disciplined to refrain from all things evil, the sweet feeling of pleasure will overcome them just as fear would overcome the former class; and in another, and even a worse manner, they will be the slaves of those who are able to endure amid pleasures, and have had the opportunity of enjoying them, they being often the worst of mankind. One half of their souls will be a slave, the other half free; and they will not be worthy to be called in the true sense men and freemen. Tell me whether you assent to my words?
Cleinias. On first hearing, what you say appears to be the truth; but to be hasty in coming to a conclusion about such important matters would be very childish and simple.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose, Cleinias and Megillus, that we consider the virtue which follows next of those which we intended to discuss (for after courage comes temperance), what institutions shall we find relating to temperance, either in Crete or Lacedaemon, which, like your military institutions, differ from those of any ordinary state.
Megillus. That is not an easy question to answer; still I should say that the common meals and gymnastic exercises have been excellently devised for the promotion both of temperance and courage.
Athenian Stranger. There seems to be a difficulty, Stranger, with regard to states, in making words and facts coincide so that there can be no dispute about them. As in the human body, the regimen which does good in one way does harm in another; and we can hardly say that any one course of treatment is adapted to a particular constitution. Now the gymnasia and common meals do a great deal of good, and yet they are a source of evil in civil troubles; as is shown in the case of the Milesian, and Boeotian, and Thurian youth, among whom these institutions seem always to have had a tendency to degrade the ancient and natural custom of love below the level, not only of man, but of the beasts. The charge may be fairly brought against your cities above all others, and is true also of most other states which especially cultivate gymnastics. Whether such matters are to be regarded jestingly or seriously, I think that the pleasure is to be deemed natural which arises out of the intercourse between men and women; but that the intercourse of men with men, or of women with women, is contrary to nature, and that the bold attempt was originally due to unbridled lust. The Cretans are always accused of having invented the story of Ganymede and Zeus because they wanted to justify themselves in the enjoyment of unnatural pleasures by the practice of the god whom they believe to have been their lawgiver. Leaving the story, we may observe that any speculation about laws turns almost entirely on pleasure and pain, both in states and in individuals: these are two fountains which nature lets flow, and he who draws from them where and when, and as much as he ought, is happy; and this holds of men and animals—of individuals as well as states; and he who indulges in them ignorantly and at the wrong time, is the reverse of happy.
Megillus. I admit, Stranger, that your words are well spoken, and I hardly know what to say in answer to you; but still I think that the Spartan lawgiver was quite right in forbidding pleasure. Of the Cretan laws, I shall leave the defense to my Cnosian friend. But the laws of Sparta, in as far as they relate to pleasure, appear to me to be the best in the world; for that which leads mankind in general into the wildest pleasure and licence, and every other folly, the law has clean driven out; and neither in the country nor in towns which are under the control of Sparta, will you find revelries and the many incitements of every kind of pleasure which accompany them; and any one who meets a drunken and disorderly person, will immediately have him most severely punished, and will not let him off on any pretense, not even at the time of a Dionysiac festival; although I have remarked that this may happen at your performances "on the cart," as they are called; and among our Tarentine colonists I have seen the whole city drunk at a Dionysiac festival; but nothing of the sort happens among us.
Athenian Stranger. O Lacedaemonian Stranger, these festivities are praiseworthy where there is a spirit of endurance, but are very senseless when they are under no regulations. In order to retaliate, an Athenian has only to point out the licence which exists among your women. To all such accusations, whether they are brought against the Tarentines, or us, or you, there is one answer which exonerates the practice in question from impropriety. When a stranger expresses wonder at the singularity of what he sees, any inhabitant will naturally answer him:—Wonder not, O stranger; this is our custom, and you may very likely have some other custom about the same things. Now we are speaking, my friends, not about men in general, but about the merits and defects of the lawgivers themselves. Let us then discourse a little more at length about intoxication, which is a very important subject, and will seriously task the discrimination of the legislator. I am not speaking of drinking, or not drinking, wine at all, but of intoxication. Are we to follow the custom of the Scythians, and Persians, and Carthaginians, and Celts, and Iberians, and Thracians, who are all warlike nations, or that of your countrymen, for they, as you say, altogether abstain? But the Scythians and Thracians, both men and women, drink unmixed wine, which they pour on their garments, and this they think a happy and glorious institution. The Persians, again, are much given to other practices of luxury which you reject, but they have more moderation in them than the Thracians and Scythians.
Megillus. O best of men, we have only to take arms into our hands, and we send all these nations flying before us.
Athenian Stranger. Nay, my good friend, do not say that; there have been, as there always will be, flights and pursuits of which no account can be given, and therefore we cannot say that victory or defeat in battle affords more than a doubtful proof of the goodness or badness of institutions. For when the greater states conquer and enslave the lesser, as the Syracusans have done the Locrians, who appear to be the best-governed people in their part of the world, or as the Athenians have done the Ceans (and there are ten thousand other instances of the same sort of thing), all this is not to the point; let us endeavor rather to form a conclusion about each institution in itself and say nothing, at present, of victories and defeats. Let us only say that such and such a custom is honorable, and another not. And first permit me to tell you how good and bad are to be estimated in reference to these very matters.
Megillus. How do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. All those who are ready at a moment's notice to praise or censure any practice which is matter of discussion, seem to me to proceed in a wrong way. Let me give you an illustration of what I mean:—You may suppose a person to be praising wheat as a good kind of food, whereupon another person instantly blames wheat, without ever enquiring into its effect or use, or in what way, or to whom, or with what, or in what state and how, wheat is to be given. And that is just what we are doing in this discussion. At the very mention of the word intoxication, one side is ready with their praises and the other with their censures; which is absurd. For either side adduce their witnesses and approvers, and some of us think that we speak with authority because we have many witnesses; and others because they see those who abstain conquering in battle, and this again is disputed by us. Now I cannot say that I shall be satisfied, if we go on discussing each of the remaining laws in the same way. And about this very point of intoxication I should like to speak in another way, which I hold to be the right one; for if number is to be the criterion, are there not myriads upon myriads of nations ready to dispute the point with you, who are only two cities?
Megillus. I shall gladly welcome any method of enquiry which is right.
Athenian Stranger. Let me put the matter thus:—Suppose a person to praise the keeping of goats, and the creatures themselves as capital things to have, and then some one who had seen goats feeding without a goatherd in cultivated spots, and doing mischief, were to censure a goat or any other animal who has no keeper, or a bad keeper, would there be any sense or justice in such censure?
Megillus. Certainly not.
Athenian Stranger. Does a captain require only to have nautical knowledge in order to be a good captain, whether he is sea-sick or not? What do you say?
Megillus. I say that he is not a good captain if, although he have nautical skill, he is liable to sea-sickness.
Athenian Stranger. And what would you say of the commander of an army? Will he be able to command merely because he has military skill if he be a coward, who, when danger comes, is sick and drunk with fear?
Athenian Stranger. And what if besides being a coward he has no skill?
Megillus. He is a miserable fellow, not fit to be a commander of men, but only of old women.
Athenian Stranger. And what would you say of some one who blames or praises any sort of meeting which is intended by nature to have a ruler, and is well enough when under his presidency? The critic, however, has never seen the society meeting together at an orderly feast under the control of a president, but always without a ruler or with a bad one:—when observers of this class praise or blame such meetings, are we to suppose that what they say is of any value?
Megillus. Certainly not, if they have never seen or been present at such a meeting when rightly ordered.
Athenian Stranger. Reflect; may not banqueters and banquets be said to constitute a kind of meeting?
Megillus. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. And did any one ever see this sort of convivial meeting rightly ordered? Of course you two will answer that you have never seen them at all, because they are not customary or lawful in your country; but I have come across many of them in many different places, and moreover I have made enquiries about them wherever I went, as I may say, and never did I see or hear of anything of the kind which was carried on altogether rightly; in some few particulars they might be right, but in general they were utterly wrong.
Cleinias. What do you mean, Stranger, by this remark? Explain; For we, as you say, from our inexperience in such matters, might very likely not know, even if they came in our way, what was right or wrong in such societies.
Athenian Stranger. Likely enough; then let me try to be your instructor: You would acknowledge, would you not, that in all gatherings of man, kind, of whatever sort, there ought to be a leader?
Cleinias. Certainly I should.
Athenian Stranger. And we were saying just now, that when men are at war the leader ought to be a brave man?
Cleinias. We were.
Athenian Stranger. The brave man is less likely than the coward to be disturbed by fears?
Cleinias. That again is true.
Athenian Stranger. And if there were a possibility of having a general of an army who was absolutely fearless and imperturbable, should we not by all means appoint him?
Athenian Stranger. Now, however, we are speaking not of a general who is to command an army, when foe meets foe in time of war, but of one who is to regulate meetings of another sort, when friend meets friend in time of peace.
Athenian Stranger. And that sort of meeting, if attended with drunkenness, is apt to be unquiet.
Cleinias. Certainly; the reverse of quiet.
Athenian Stranger. In the first place, then, the revellers as well as the soldiers will require a ruler?
Cleinias. To be sure; no men more so.
Athenian Stranger. And we ought, if possible, to provide them with a quiet ruler?
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. And he should be a man who understands society; for his duty is to preserve the friendly feelings which exist among the company at the time, and to increase them for the future by his use of the occasion.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Must we not appoint a sober man and a wise to be our master of the revels? For if the ruler of drinkers be himself young and drunken, and not over-wise, only by some special good fortune will he be saved from doing some great evil.
Cleinias. It will be by a singular good fortune that he is saved.
Athenian Stranger. Now suppose such associations to be framed in the best way possible in states, and that some one blames the very fact of their existence—he may very likely be right. But if he blames a practice which he only sees very much mismanaged, he shows in the first place that he is not aware of the mismanagement, and also not aware that everything done in this way will turn out to be wrong, because done without the superintendence of a sober ruler. Do you not see that a drunken pilot or a drunken ruler of any sort will ruin ship, chariot, army—anything, in short, of which he has the direction?
Cleinias. The last remark is very true, Stranger; and I see quite clearly the advantage of an army having a good leader—he will give victory in war to his followers, which is a very great advantage; and so of other things. But I do not see any similar advantage which either individuals or states gain from the good management of a feast; and I want you to tell me what great good will be effected, supposing that this drinking ordinance is duly established.
Athenian Stranger. If you mean to ask what great good accrues to the state from the right training of a single youth, or of a single chorus—when the question is put in that form, we cannot deny that the good is not very great in any particular instance. But if you ask what is the good of education in general, the answer is easy—that education makes good men, and that good men act nobly, and conquer their enemies in battle, because they are good. Education certainly gives victory, although victory sometimes produces forgetfulness of education; for many have grown insolent from victory in war, and this insolence has engendered in them innumerable evils; and many a victory has been and will be suicidal to the victors; but education is never suicidal.
Cleinias. You seem to imply, my friend, that convivial meetings, when rightly ordered, are an important element of education.
Athenian Stranger. Certainly I do.
Cleinias. And can you show that what you have been saying is true?
Athenian Stranger. To be absolutely sure of the truth of matters concerning which there are many opinions, is an attribute of the Gods not given to man, Stranger; but I shall be very happy to tell you what I think, especially as we are now proposing to enter on a discussion concerning laws and constitutions.
Cleinias. Your opinion, Stranger, about the questions which are now being raised, is precisely what we want to hear.
Athenian Stranger. Very good; I will try to find a way of explaining my meaning, and you shall try to have the gift of understanding me. But first let me make an apology. The Athenian citizen is reputed among all the Hellenes to be a great talker, whereas Sparta is renowned for brevity, and the Cretans have more wit than words. Now I am afraid of appearing to elicit a very long discourse out of very small materials. For drinking indeed may appear to be a slight matter, and yet is one which cannot be rightly ordered according to nature, without correct principles of music; these are necessary to any clear or satisfactory treatment of the subject, and music again runs up into education generally, and there is much to be said about all this. What would you say then to leaving these matters for the present, and passing on to some other question of law?
Megillus. O Athenian Stranger, let me tell you what perhaps you do not know, that our family is the proxenus of your state. I imagine that from their earliest youth all boys, when they are told that they are the proxeni of a particular state, feel kindly towards their second country; and this has certainly been my own feeling. I can well remember from the days of my boyhood, how, when any Lacedaemonians praised or blamed the Athenians, they used to say to me—"See, Megillus, how ill or how well," as the case might be, "has your state treated us"; and having always had to fight your battles against detractors when I heard you assailed, I became warmly attached to you. And I always like to hear the Athenian tongue spoken; the common saying is quite true, that a good Athenian is more than ordinarily good, for he is the only man who is freely and genuinely good by the divine inspiration of his own nature, and is not manufactured. Therefore be assured that I shall like to hear you say whatever you have to say.
Cleinias. Yes, Stranger; and when you have heard me speak, say boldly what is in your thoughts. Let me remind you of a tie which unites you to Crete. You must have heard here the story of the prophet Epimenides, who was of my family, and came to Athens ten years before the Persian war, in accordance with the response of the Oracle, and offered certain sacrifices which the God commanded. The Athenians were at that time in dread of the Persian invasion; and he said that for ten years they would not come, and that when they came, they would go away again without accomplishing any of their objects, and would suffer more evil than they inflicted. At that time my forefathers formed ties of hospitality with you; thus ancient is the friendship which I and my parents have had for you.
Athenian Stranger. You seem to be quite ready to listen; and I am also ready to perform as much as I can of an almost impossible task, which I will nevertheless attempt. At the outset of the discussion, let me define the nature and power of education; for this is the way by which our argument must travel onwards to the God Dionysus.
Cleinias. Let us proceed, if you please.
Athenian Stranger. Well, then, if I tell you what are my notions of education, will you consider whether they satisfy you?
Cleinias. Let us hear.
Athenian Stranger. According to my view, any one who would be good at anything must practice that thing from his youth upwards, both in sport and earnest, in its several branches: for example, he who is to be a good builder, should play at building children's houses; he who is to be a good husbandman, at tilling the ground; and those who have the care of their education should provide them when young with mimic tools. They should learn beforehand the knowledge which they will afterwards require for their art. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure or apply the line in play; and the future warrior should learn riding, or some other exercise, for amusement, and the teacher should endeavor to direct the children's inclinations and pleasures, by the help of amusements, to their final aim in life. The most important part of education is right training in the nursery. The soul of the child in his play should be guided to the love of that sort of excellence in which when he grows up to manhood he will have to be perfected. Do you agree with me thus far?
Athenian Stranger. Then let us not leave the meaning of education ambiguous or ill-defined. At present, when we speak in terms of praise or blame about the bringing-up of each person, we call one man educated and another uneducated, although the uneducated man may be sometimes very well educated for the calling of a retail trader, or of a captain of a ship, and the like. For we are not speaking of education in this narrower sense, but of that other education in virtue from youth upwards, which makes a man eagerly pursue the ideal perfection of citizenship, and teaches him how rightly to rule and how to obey. This is the only education which, upon our view, deserves the name; that other sort of training, which aims at the acquisition of wealth or bodily strength, or mere cleverness apart from intelligence and justice, is mean and illiberal, and is not worthy to be called education at all. But let us not quarrel with one another about a word, provided that the proposition which has just been granted hold good: to wit, that those who are rightly educated generally become good men. Neither must we cast a slight upon education, which is the first and fairest thing that the best of men can ever have, and which, though liable to take a wrong direction, is capable of reformation. And this work of reformation is the great business of every man while he lives.
Cleinias. Very true; and we entirely agree with you.
Athenian Stranger. And we agreed before that they are good men who are able to rule themselves, and bad men who are not.
Cleinias. You are quite right.
Athenian Stranger. Let me now proceed, if I can, to clear up the subject a little further by an illustration which I will offer you.
Athenian Stranger. Do we not consider each of ourselves to be one?
Cleinias. We do.
Athenian Stranger. And each one of us has in his bosom two counsellors, both foolish and also antagonistic; of which we call the one pleasure, and the other pain.
Athenian Stranger. Also there are opinions about the future, which have the general name of expectations; and the specific name of fear, when the expectation is of pain; and of hope, when of pleasure; and further, there is reflection about the good or evil of them, and this, when embodied in a decree by the State, is called Law.
Cleinias. I am hardly able to follow you; proceed, however, as if I were.
Megillus. I am in the like case.
Athenian Stranger. Let us look at the matter thus: May we not conceive each of us living beings to be a puppet of the Gods, either their plaything only, or created with a purpose—which of the two we cannot certainly know? But we do know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings, which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice. According to the argument there is one among these cords which every man ought to grasp and never let go, but to pull with it against all the rest; and this is the sacred and golden cord of reason, called by us the common law of the State; there are others which are hard and of iron, but this one is soft because golden; and there are several other kinds. Now we ought always to cooperate with the lead of the best, which is law. For inasmuch as reason is beautiful and gentle, and not violent, her rule must needs have ministers in order to help the golden principle in vanquishing the other principles. And thus the moral of the tale about our being puppets will not have been lost, and the meaning of the expression "superior or inferior to a man's self" will become clearer; and the individual, attaining to right reason in this matter of pulling the strings of the puppet, should live according to its rule; while the city, receiving the same from some god or from one who has knowledge of these things, should embody it in a law, to be her guide in her dealings with herself and with other states. In this way virtue and vice will be more clearly distinguished by us. And when they have become clearer, education and other institutions will in like manner become clearer; and in particular that question of convivial entertainment, which may seem, perhaps, to have been a very trifling matter, and to have taken a great many more words than were necessary.
Cleinias. Perhaps, however, the theme may turn out not to be unworthy of the length of discourse.
Athenian Stranger. Very good; let us proceed with any enquiry which really bears on our present object.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose that we give this puppet of ours drink—what will be the effect on him?
Cleinias. Having what in view do you ask that question?
Athenian Stranger. Nothing as yet; but I ask generally, when the puppet is brought to the drink, what sort of result is likely to follow. I will endeavor to explain my meaning more clearly: what I am now asking is this—Does the drinking of wine heighten and increase pleasures and pains, and passions and loves?
Cleinias. Very greatly.
Athenian Stranger. And are perception and memory, and opinion and prudence, heightened and increased? Do not these qualities entirely desert a man if he becomes saturated with drink?
Cleinias. Yes, they entirely desert him.
Athenian Stranger. Does he not return to the state of soul in which he was when a young child?
Cleinias. He does.
Athenian Stranger. Then at that time he will have the least control over himself?
Cleinias. The least.
Athenian Stranger. And will he not be in a most wretched plight?
Cleinias. Most wretched.
Athenian Stranger. Then not only an old man but also a drunkard becomes a second time a child?
Cleinias. Well said, Stranger.
Athenian Stranger. Is there any argument which will prove to us that we ought to encourage the taste for drinking instead of doing all we can to avoid it?
Cleinias. I suppose that there is; you at any rate, were just now saying that you were ready to maintain such a doctrine.
Athenian Stranger. True, I was; and I am ready still, seeing that you have both declared that you are anxious to hear me.
Cleinias. To sure we are, if only for the strangeness of the paradox, which asserts that a man ought of his own accord to plunge into utter degradation.
Athenian Stranger. Are you speaking of the soul?
Athenian Stranger. And what would you say about the body, my friend? Are you not surprised at any one of his own accord bringing upon himself deformity, leanness, ugliness, decrepitude?
Athenian Stranger. Yet when a man goes of his own accord to a doctor's shop, and takes medicine, is he not aware that soon, and for many days afterwards, he will be in a state of body which he would die rather than accept as the permanent condition of his life? Are not those who train in gymnasia, at first beginning reduced to a state of weakness?
Cleinias. Yes, all that is well known.
Athenian Stranger. Also that they go of their own accord for the sake of the subsequent benefit?
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. And we may conceive this to be true in the same way of other practices?
Athenian Stranger. And the same view may be taken of the pastime of drinking wine, if we are right in supposing that the same good effect follows?
Cleinias. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. If such convivialities should turn out to have any advantage equal in importance to that of gymnastic, they are in their very nature to be preferred to mere bodily exercise, inasmuch as they have no accompaniment of pain.
Cleinias. True; but I hardly think that we shall be able to discover any such benefits to be derived from them.
Athenian Stranger. That is just what we must endeavor to show. And let me ask you a question:—Do we not distinguish two kinds of fear, which are very different?
Cleinias. What are they?
Athenian Stranger. There is the fear of expected evil.
Athenian Stranger. And there is the fear of an evil reputation; we are afraid of being thought evil, because we do or say some dishonorable thing, which fear we and all men term shame.
Athenian Stranger. These are the two fears, as I called them; one of which is the opposite of pain and other fears, and the opposite also of the greatest and most numerous sort of pleasures.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And does not the legislator and every one who is good for anything, hold this fear in the greatest honor? This is what he terms reverence, and the confidence which is the reverse of this he terms insolence; and the latter he always deems to be a very great evil both to individuals and to states.
Athenian Stranger. Does not this kind of fear preserve us in many important ways? What is there which so surely gives victory and safety in war? For there are two things which give victory—confidence before enemies, and fear of disgrace before friends.
Cleinias. There are.
Athenian Stranger. Then each of us should be fearless and also fearful; and why we should be either has now been determined.
Athenian Stranger. And when we want to make any one fearless, we and the law bring him face to face with many fears.
Athenian Stranger. And when we want to make him rightly fearful, must we not introduce him to shameless pleasures, and train him to take up arms against them, and to overcome them? Or does this principle apply to courage only, and must he who would be perfect in valor fight against and overcome his own natural character—since if he be unpracticed and inexperienced in such conflicts, he will not be half the man which he might have been—and are we to suppose, that with temperance it is otherwise, and that he who has never fought with the shameless and unrighteous temptations of his pleasures and lusts, and conquered them, in earnest and in play, by word, deed, and act, will still be perfectly temperate?
Cleinias. A most unlikely supposition.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose that some God had given a fear-potion to men, and that the more a man drank of this the more he regarded himself at every draught as a child of misfortune, and that he feared everything happening or about to happen to him; and that at last the most courageous of men utterly lost his presence of mind for a time, and only came to himself again when he had slept off the influence of the draught.
Cleinias. But has such a draught, Stranger, ever really been known among men?
Athenian Stranger. No; but, if there had been, might not such a draught have been of use to the legislator as a test of courage? Might we not go and say to him, 'O legislator, whether you are legislating for the Cretan, or for any other state, would you not like to have a touchstone of the courage and cowardice of your citizens?'
Cleinias. 'I should,' will be the answer of every one.
Athenian Stranger. 'And you would rather have a touchstone in which there is no risk and no great danger than the reverse?'
Cleinias. In that proposition every one may safely agree.
Athenian Stranger. 'And in order to make use of the draught, you would lead them amid these imaginary terrors, and prove them, when the affection of fear was working upon them, and compel them to be fearless, exhorting and admonishing them; and also honoring them, but dishonoring any one who will not be persuaded by you to be in all respects such as you command him; and if he underwent the trial well and manfully, you would let him go unscathed; but if ill, you would inflict a punishment upon him? Or would you abstain from using the potion altogether, although you have no reason for abstaining?'
Cleinias. He would be certain, Stranger, to use the potion.
Athenian Stranger. This would be a mode of testing and training which would be wonderfully easy in comparison with those now in use, and might be applied to a single person, or to a few, or indeed to any number; and he would do well who provided himself with the potion only, rather than with any number of other things, whether he preferred to be by himself in solitude, and there contend with his fears, because he was ashamed to be seen by the eye of man until he was perfect; or trusting to the force of his own nature and habits, and believing that he had been already disciplined sufficiently, he did not hesitate to train himself in company with any number of others, and display his power in conquering the irresistible change effected by the draught—his virtue being such, that he never in any instance fell into any great unseemliness, but was always himself, and left off before he arrived at the last cup, fearing that he, like all other men, might be overcome by the potion.
Cleinias. Yes, Stranger, in that last case, too, he might equally show his self-control.
Athenian Stranger. Let us return to the lawgiver, and say to him:—'Well, lawgiver, there is certainly no such fear-potion which man has either received from the Gods or himself discovered; for witchcraft has no place at our board. But is there any potion which might serve as a test of overboldness and excessive and indiscreet boasting?'
Cleinias. I suppose that he will say, Yes—meaning that wine is such a potion.
Athenian Stranger. Is not the effect of this quite the opposite of the effect of the other? When a man drinks wine he begins to be better pleased with himself, and the more he drinks the more he is filled full of brave hopes, and conceit of his power, and at last the string of his tongue is loosened, and fancying himself wise, he is brimming over with lawlessness, and has no more fear or respect, and is ready to do or say anything.
Cleinias. I think that every one will admit the truth of your description.
Athenian Stranger. Now, let us remember, as we were saying, that there are two things which should be cultivated in the soul: first, the greatest courage; secondly, the greatest fear—
Cleinias. Which you said to be characteristic of reverence, if I am not mistaken.
Athenian Stranger. Thank you for reminding me. But now, as the habit of courage and fearlessness is to be trained amid fears, let us consider whether the opposite quality is not also to be trained among opposites.
Cleinias. That is probably the case.
Athenian Stranger. There are times and seasons at which we are by nature more than commonly valiant and bold; now we ought to train ourselves on these occasions to be as free from impudence and shamelessness as possible, and to be afraid to say or suffer or do anything that is base.
Athenian Stranger. Are not the moments in which we are apt to be bold and shameless such as these?—when we are under the influence of anger, love, pride, ignorance, avarice, cowardice? or when wealth, beauty, strength, and all the intoxicating workings of pleasure madden us? What is better adapted than the festive use of wine, in the first place to test, and in the second place to train the character of a man, if care be taken in the use of it? What is there cheaper, or more innocent? For do but consider which is the greater risk:—Would you rather test a man of a morose and savage nature, which is the source of ten thousand acts of injustice, by making bargains with him at a risk to yourself, or by having him as a companion at the festival of Dionysus? Or would you, if you wanted to apply a touchstone to a man who is prone to love, entrust your wife, or your sons, or daughters to him, perilling your dearest interests in order to have a view of the condition of his soul? I might mention numberless cases, in which the advantage would be manifest of getting to know a character in sport, and without paying dearly for experience. And I do not believe that either a Cretan, or any other man, will doubt that such a test is a fair test, and safer, cheaper, and speedier than any other.
Cleinias. That is certainly true.
Athenian Stranger. And this knowledge of the natures and habits of men's souls will be of the greatest use in that art which has the management of them; and that art, if I am not mistaken, is politics.
Cleinias. Exactly so.
Athenian Stranger. And now we have to consider whether the insight into human nature is the only benefit derived from well ordered potations, or whether there are not other advantages great and much to be desired. The argument seems to imply that there are. But how and in what way these are to be attained, will have to be considered attentively, or we may be entangled in error.
Athenian Stranger. Let me once more recall our doctrine of right education; which, if I am not mistaken, depends on the due regulation of convivial intercourse.
Cleinias. You talk rather grandly.
Athenian Stranger. Pleasure and pain I maintain to be the first perceptions of children, and I say that they are the forms under which virtue and vice are originally present to them. As to wisdom and true and fixed opinions, happy is the man who acquires them, even when declining in years; and we may say that he who possesses them, and the blessings which are contained in them, is a perfect man. Now I mean by education that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children;—when pleasure, and friendship, and pain, and hatred, are rightly implanted in souls not yet capable of understanding the nature of them, and who find them, after they have attained reason, to be in harmony with her. This harmony of the soul, taken as a whole, is virtue; but the particular training in respect of pleasure and pain, which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate, and love what you ought to love from the beginning of life to the end, may be separated off; and, in my view, will be rightly called education.
Cleinias. I think, Stranger, that you are quite right in all that you have said and are saying about education.
Athenian Stranger. I am glad to hear that you agree with me; for, indeed, the discipline of pleasure and pain which, when rightly ordered, is a principle of education, has been often relaxed and corrupted in human life. And the Gods, pitying the toils which our race is born to undergo, have appointed holy festivals, wherein men alternate rest with labor; and have given them the Muses and Apollo, the leader of the Muses, and Dionysus, to be companions in their revels, that they may improve their education by taking part in the festivals of the Gods, and with their help. I should like to know whether a common saying is in our opinion true to nature or not. For men say that the young of all creatures cannot be quiet in their bodies or in their voices; they are always wanting to move and cry out; some leaping and skipping, and overflowing with sportiveness and delight at something, others uttering all sorts of cries. But, whereas the animals have no perception of order or disorder in their movements, that is, of rhythm or harmony, as they are called, to us, the Gods, who, as we say, have been appointed to be our companions in the dance, have given the pleasurable sense of harmony and rhythm; and so they stir us into life, and we follow them, joining hands together in dances and songs; and these they call choruses, which is a term naturally expressive of cheerfulness. Shall we begin, then, with the acknowledgment that education is first given through Apollo and the Muses? What do you say?
Cleinias. I assent.
Athenian Stranger. And the uneducated is he who has not been trained in the chorus, and the educated is he who has been well trained?
Athenian Stranger. And the chorus is made up of two parts, dance and song?
Athenian Stranger. Then he who is well educated will be able to sing and dance well?
Cleinias. I suppose that he will.
Athenian Stranger. Let us see; what are we saying?
Athenian Stranger. He sings well and dances well; now must we add that he sings what is good and dances what is good?
Cleinias. Let us make the addition.
Athenian Stranger. We will suppose that he knows the good to be good, and the bad to be bad, and makes use of them accordingly: which now is the better trained in dancing and music—he who is able to move his body and to use his voice in what is understood to be the right manner, but has no delight in good or hatred of evil; or he who is incorrect in gesture and voice, but is right in his sense of pleasure and pain, and welcomes what is good, and is offended at what is evil?
Cleinias. There is a great difference, Stranger, in the two kinds of education.
Athenian Stranger. If we three know what is good in song and dance, then we truly know also who is educated and who is uneducated; but if not, then we certainly shall not know wherein lies the safeguard of education, and whether there is any or not.
Athenian Stranger. Let us follow the scent like hounds, and go in pursuit of beauty of figure, and melody, and song, and dance; if these escape us, there will be no use in talking about true education, whether Hellenic or barbarian.
Athenian Stranger. And what is beauty of figure, or beautiful melody? When a manly soul is in trouble, and when a cowardly soul is in similar case, are they likely to use the same figures and gestures, or to give utterance to the same sounds?
Cleinias. How can they, when the very colors of their faces differ?
Athenian Stranger. Good, my friend; I may observe, however, in passing, that in music there certainly are figures and there are melodies: and music is concerned with harmony and rhythm, so that you may speak of a melody or figure having good rhythm or good harmony—the term is correct enough; but to speak metaphorically of a melody or figure having a 'good color,' as the masters of choruses do, is not allowable, although you can speak of the melodies or figures of the brave and the coward, praising the one and censuring the other. And not to be tedious, let us say that the figures and melodies which are expressive of virtue of soul or body, or of images of virtue, are without exception good, and those which are expressive of vice are the reverse of good.
Cleinias. Your suggestion is excellent; and let us answer that these things are so.
Athenian Stranger. Once more, are all of us equally delighted with every sort of dance?
Cleinias. Far otherwise.
Athenian Stranger. What, then, leads us astray? Are beautiful things not the same to us all, or are they the same in themselves, but not in our opinion of them? For no one will admit that forms of vice in the dance are more beautiful than forms of virtue, or that he himself delights in the forms of vice, and others in a muse of another character. And yet most persons say, that the excellence of music is to give pleasure to our souls. But this is intolerable and blasphemous; there is, however, a much more plausible account of the delusion.
Athenian Stranger. The adaptation of art to the characters of men. Choric movements are imitations of manners occurring in various actions, fortunes, dispositions,—each particular is imitated, and those to whom the words, or songs, or dances are suited, either by nature or habit or both, cannot help feeling pleasure in them and applauding them, and calling them beautiful. But those whose natures, or ways, or habits are unsuited to them, cannot delight in them or applaud them, and they call them base. There are others, again, whose natures are right and their habits wrong, or whose habits are right and their natures wrong, and they praise one thing, but are pleased at another. For they say that all these imitations are pleasant, but not good. And in the presence of those whom they think wise, they are ashamed of dancing and singing in the baser manner, or of deliberately lending any countenance to such proceedings; and yet, they have a secret pleasure in them.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And is any harm done to the lover of vicious dances or songs, or any good done to the approver of the opposite sort of pleasure?
Cleinias. I think that there is.
Athenian Stranger. "I think" is not the word, but I would say, rather, "I am certain." For must they not have the same effect as when a man associates with bad characters, whom he likes and approves rather than dislikes, and only censures playfully because he has a suspicion of his own badness? In that case, he who takes pleasure in them will surely become like those in whom he takes pleasure, even though he be ashamed to praise them. And what greater good or evil can any destiny ever make us undergo?
Cleinias. I know of none.
Athenian Stranger. Then in a city which has good laws, or in future ages is to have them, bearing in mind the instruction and amusement which are given by music, can we suppose that the poets are to be allowed to teach in the dance anything which they themselves like, in the way of rhythm, or melody, or words, to the young children of any well-conditioned parents? Is the poet to train his choruses as he pleases, without reference to virtue or vice?
Cleinias. That is surely quite unreasonable, and is not to be thought of.
Athenian Stranger. And yet he may do this in almost any state with the exception of Egypt.
Cleinias. And what are the laws about music and dancing in Egypt?
Ath. You will wonder when I tell you: Long ago they appear to have recognized the very principle of which we are now speaking—that their young citizens must be habituated to forms and strains of virtue. These they fixed, and exhibited the patterns of them in their temples; and no painter or artist is allowed to innovate upon them, or to leave the traditional forms and invent new ones. To this day, no alteration is allowed either in these arts, or in music at all. And you will find that their works of art are painted or molded in the same forms which they had ten thousand years ago;—this is literally true and no exaggeration,—their ancient paintings and sculptures are not a whit better or worse than the work of to-day, but are made with just the same skill.
Cleinias. How extraordinary!
Athenian Stranger. I should rather say, How statesmanlike, how worthy of a legislator! I know that other things in Egypt are not so well. But what I am telling you about music is true and deserving of consideration, because showing that a lawgiver may institute melodies which have a natural truth and correctness without any fear of failure. To do this, however, must be the work of God, or of a divine person; in Egypt they have a tradition that their ancient chants which have been preserved for so many ages are the composition of the Goddess Isis. And therefore, as I was saying, if a person can only find in any way the natural melodies, he may confidently embody them in a fixed and legal form. For the love of novelty which arises out of pleasure in the new and weariness of the old, has not strength enough to corrupt the consecrated song and dance, under the plea that they have become antiquated. At any rate, they are far from being corrupted in Egypt.
Cleinias. Your arguments seem to prove your point.
Athenian Stranger. May we not confidently say that the true use of music and of choral festivities is as follows: We rejoice when we think that we prosper, and again we think that we prosper when we rejoice?
Athenian Stranger. And when rejoicing in our good fortune, we are unable to be still?
Athenian Stranger. Our young men break forth into dancing and singing, and we who are their elders deem that we are fulfilling our part in life when we look on at them. Having lost our agility, we delight in their sports and merry-making, because we love to think of our former selves; and gladly institute contests for those who are able to awaken in us the memory of our youth.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Is it altogether unmeaning to say, as the common people do about festivals, that he should be adjudged the wisest of men, and the winner of the palm, who gives us the greatest amount of pleasure and mirth? For on such occasions, and when mirth is the order of the day, ought not he to be honored most, and, as I was saying, bear the palm, who gives most mirth to the greatest number? Now is this a true way of speaking or of acting?
Athenian Stranger. But, my dear friend, let us distinguish between different cases, and not be hasty in forming a judgment: One way of considering the question will be to imagine a festival at which there are entertainments of all sorts, including gymnastic, musical, and equestrian contests: the citizens are assembled; prizes are offered, and proclamation is made that any one who likes may enter the lists, and that he is to bear the palm who gives the most pleasure to the spectators—there is to be no regulation about the manner how; but he who is most successful in giving pleasure is to be crowned victor, and deemed to be the pleasantest of the candidates: What is likely to be the result of such a proclamation?
Cleinias. In what respect?
Athenian Stranger. There would be various exhibitions: one man, like Homer, will exhibit a rhapsody, another a performance on the lute; one will have a tragedy, and another a comedy. Nor would there be anything astonishing in some one imagining that he could gain the prize by exhibiting a puppet-show. Suppose these competitors to meet, and not these only, but innumerable others as well—can you tell me who ought to be the victor?
Cleinias. I do not see how any one can answer you, or pretend to know, unless he has heard with his own ears the several competitors; the question is absurd.
Athenian Stranger. Well, then, if neither of you can answer, shall I answer this question which you deem so absurd?
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. If very small children are to determine the question, they will decide for the puppet show.
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. The older children will be advocates of comedy; educated women, and young men, and people in general, will favor tragedy.
Cleinias. Very likely.
Athenian Stranger. And I believe that we old men would have the greatest pleasure in hearing a rhapsodist recite well the Iliad and Odyssey, or one of the Hesiodic poems, and would award the victory to him. But, who would really be the victor?—that is the question.
Athenian Stranger. Clearly you and I will have to declare that those whom we old men adjudge victors ought to win; for our ways are far and away better than any which at present exist anywhere in the world.
Athenian Stranger. Thus far I too should agree with the many, that the excellence of music is to be measured by pleasure. But the pleasure must not be that of chance persons; the fairest music is that which delights the best and best educated, and especially that which delights the one man who is pre-eminent in virtue and education. And therefore the judges must be men of character, for they will require both wisdom and courage; the true judge must not draw his inspiration from the theatre, nor ought he to be unnerved by the clamor of the many and his own incapacity; nor again, knowing the truth, ought he through cowardice and unmanliness carelessly to deliver a lying judgment, with the very same lips which have just appealed to the Gods before he judged. He is sitting not as the disciple of the theatre, but, in his proper place, as their instructor, and he ought to be the enemy of all pandering to the pleasure of the spectators. The ancient and common custom of Hellas, which still prevails in Italy and Sicily, did certainly leave the judgment to the body of spectators, who determined the victor by show of hands. But this custom has been the destruction of the poets; for they are now in the habit of composing with a view to please the bad taste of their judges, and the result is that the spectators instruct themselves;—and also it has been the ruin of the theatre; they ought to be having characters put before them better than their own, and so receiving a higher pleasure, but now by their own act the opposite result follows. What inference is to be drawn from all this? Shall I tell you?
Athenian Stranger. The inference at which we arrive for the third or fourth time is, that education is the constraining and directing of youth towards that right reason, which the law affirms, and which the experience of the eldest and best has agreed to be truly right. In order, then, that the soul of the child may not be habituated to feel joy and sorrow in a manner at variance with the law, and those who obey the law, but may rather follow the law and rejoice and sorrow at the same things as the aged—in order, I say, to produce this effect, chants appear to have been invented, which really enchant, and are designed to implant that harmony of which we speak. And, because the mind of the child is incapable of enduring serious training, they are called plays and songs, and are performed in play; just as when men are sick and ailing in their bodies, their attendants give them wholesome diet in pleasant meats and drinks, but unwholesome diet in disagreeable things, in order that they may learn, as they ought, to like the one, and to dislike the other. And similarly the true legislator will persuade, and, if he cannot persuade, will compel the poet to express, as he ought, by fair and noble words, in his rhythms, the figures, and in his melodies, the music of temperate and brave and in every way good men.
Cleinias. But do you really imagine, Stranger, that this is the way in which poets generally compose in States at the present day? As far as I can observe, except among us and among the Lacedaemonians, there are no regulations like those of which you speak; in other places novelties are always being introduced in dancing and in music, generally not under the authority of any law, but at the instigation of lawless pleasures; and these pleasures are so far from being the same, as you describe the Egyptian to be, or having the same principles, that they are never the same.
Athenian Stranger. Most true, Cleinias; and I daresay that I may have expressed myself obscurely, and so led you to imagine that I was speaking of some really existing state of things, whereas I was only saying what regulations I would like to have about music; and hence there occurred a misapprehension on your part. For when evils are far gone and irremediable, the task of censuring them is never pleasant, although at times necessary. But as we do not really differ, will you let me ask you whether you consider such institutions to be more prevalent among the Cretans and Lacedaemonians than among the other Hellenes?
Cleinias. Certainly they are.
Athenian Stranger. And if they were extended to the other Hellenes, would it be an improvement on the present state of things?
Cleinias. A very great improvement, if the customs which prevail among them were such as prevail among us and the Lacedaemonians, and such as you were just now saying ought to prevail.
Athenian Stranger. Let us see whether we understand one another:—Are not the principles of education and music which prevail among you as follows: you compel your poets to say that the good man, if he be temperate and just, is fortunate and happy; and this whether he be great and strong or small and weak, and whether he be rich or poor; and, on the other hand, if he have a wealth passing that of Cinyras or Midas, and be unjust, he is wretched and lives in misery? As the poet says, and with truth: I sing not, I care not about him who accomplishes all noble things, not having justice; let him who 'draws near and stretches out his hand against his enemies be a just man.' But if he be unjust, I would not have him 'look calmly upon bloody death,' nor 'surpass in swiftness the Thracian Boreas;' and let no other thing that is called good ever be his. For the goods of which the many speak are not really good: first in the catalogue is placed health, beauty next, wealth third; and then innumerable others, as for example to have a keen eye or a quick ear, and in general to have all the senses perfect; or, again, to be a tyrant and do as you like; and the final consummation of happiness is to have acquired all these things, and when you have acquired them to become at once immortal. But you and I say, that while to the just and holy all these things are the best of possessions, to the unjust they are all, including even health, the greatest of evils. For in truth, to have sight, and hearing, and the use of the senses, or to live at all without justice and virtue, even though a man be rich in all the so-called goods of fortune, is the greatest of evils, if life be immortal; but not so great, if the bad man lives only a very short time. These are the truths which, if I am not mistaken, you will persuade or compel your poets to utter with suitable accompaniments of harmony and rhythm, and in these they must train up your youth. Am I not right? For I plainly declare that evils as they are termed are goods to the unjust, and only evils to the just, and that goods are truly good to the good, but evil to the evil. Let me ask again, Are you and I agreed about this?
Cleinias. I think that we partly agree and partly do not.
Athenian Stranger. When a man has health and wealth and a tyranny which lasts, and when he is pre-eminent in strength and courage, and has the gift of immortality, and none of the so-called evils which counter-balance these goods, but only the injustice and insolence of his own nature—of such an one you are, I suspect, unwilling to believe that he is miserable rather than happy.
Cleinias. That is quite true.
Athenian Stranger. Once more: Suppose that he be valiant and strong, and handsome and rich, and does throughout his whole life whatever he likes, still, if he be unrighteous and insolent, would not both of you agree that he will of necessity live basely? You will surely grant so much?
Athenian Stranger. And an evil life too?
Cleinias. I am not equally disposed to grant that.
Athenian Stranger. Will he not live painfully and to his own disadvantage?
Cleinias. How can I possibly say so?
Athenian Stranger. How! Then may Heaven make us to be of one mind, for now we are of two. To me, dear Cleinias, the truth of what I am saying is as plain as the fact that Crete is an island. And, if I were a lawgiver, I would try to make the poets and all the citizens speak in this strain, and I would inflict the heaviest penalties on any one in all the land who should dare to say that there are bad men who lead pleasant lives, or that the profitable and gainful is one thing, and the just another; and there are many other matters about which I should make my citizens speak in a manner different from the Cretans and Lacedaemonians of this age, and I may say, indeed, from the world in general. For tell me, my good friends, by Zeus and Apollo tell me, if I were to ask these same Gods who were your legislators,—Is not the most just life also the pleasantest? or are there two lives, one of which is the justest and the other the pleasantest?—and they were to reply that there are two; and thereupon I proceeded to ask, (that would be the right way of pursuing the enquiry), Which are the happier—those who lead the justest, or those who lead the pleasantest life? and they replied, Those who lead the pleasantest—that would be a very strange answer, which I should not like to put into the mouth of the Gods. The words will come with more propriety from the lips of fathers and legislators, and therefore I will repeat my former questions to one of them, and suppose him to say again that he who leads the pleasantest life is the happiest. And to that I rejoin:—O my father, did you not wish me to live as happily as possible? And yet you also never ceased telling me that I should live as justly as possible. Now, here the giver of the rule, whether he be legislator or father, will be in a dilemma, and will in vain endeavor to be consistent with himself. But if he were to declare that the justest life is also the happiest, every one hearing him would enquire, if I am not mistaken, what is that good and noble principle in life which the law approves, and which is superior to pleasure. For what good can the just man have which is separated from pleasure? Shall we say that glory and fame, coming from Gods and men, though good and noble, are nevertheless unpleasant, and infamy pleasant? Certainly not, sweet legislator. Or shall we say that the not-doing of wrong and there being no wrong done is good and honorable, although there is no pleasure in it, and that the doing wrong is pleasant, but evil and base?
Athenian Stranger. The view which identifies the pleasant and the just and the good and the noble has an excellent moral and religious tendency. And the opposite view is most at variance with the designs of the legislator, and is, in his opinion, infamous; for no one, if he can help, will be persuaded to do that which gives him more pain than pleasure. But as distant prospects are apt to make us dizzy, especially in childhood, the legislator will try to purge away the darkness and exhibit the truth; he will persuade the citizens, in some way or other, by customs and praises and words, that just and unjust are shadows only, and that injustice, which seems opposed to justice, when contemplated by the unjust and evil man appears pleasant and the just most unpleasant; but that from the just man's point of view, the very opposite is the appearance of both of them.
Athenian Stranger. And which may be supposed to be the truer judgment—that of the inferior or of the better soul?
Cleinias. Surely, that of the better soul.
Athenian Stranger. Then the unjust life must not only be more base and depraved, but also more unpleasant than the just and holy life?
Cleinias. That seems to be implied in the present argument.
Athenian Stranger. And even supposing this were otherwise, and not as the argument has proven, still the lawgiver, who is worth anything, if he ever ventures to tell a lie to the young for their good, could not invent a more useful lie than this, or one which will have a better effect in making them do what is right, not on compulsion but voluntarily.
Cleinias. Truth, Stranger, is a noble thing and a lasting, but a thing of which men are hard to be persuaded.
Athenian Stranger. And yet the story of the Sidonian Cadmus, which is so improbable, has been readily believed, and also innumerable other tales.
Cleinias. What is that story?
Athenian Stranger. The story of armed men springing up after the sowing of teeth, which the legislator may take as a proof that he can persuade the minds of the young of anything; so that he has only to reflect and find out what belief will be of the greatest public advantage, and then use all his efforts to make the whole community utter one and the same word in their songs and tales and discourses all their life long. But if you do not agree with me, there is no reason why you should not argue on the other side.
Cleinias. I do not see that any argument can fairly be raised by either of us against what you are now saying.
Athenian Stranger. The next suggestion which I have to offer is, that all our three choruses shall sing to the young and tender souls of children, reciting in their strains all the noble thoughts of which we have already spoken, or are about to speak; and the sum of them shall be, that the life which is by the Gods deemed to be the happiest is also the best;—we shall affirm this to be a most certain truth; and the minds of our young disciples will be more likely to receive these words of ours than any others which we might address to them.
Cleinias. I assent to what you say.
Athenian Stranger. First will enter in their natural order the sacred choir composed of children, which is to sing lustily the heaven-taught lay to the whole city. Next will follow the choir of young men under the age of thirty, who will call upon the God Paean to testify to the truth of their words, and will pray him to be gracious to the youth and to turn their hearts. Thirdly, the choir of elder men, who are from thirty to sixty years of age, will also sing. There remain those who are too old to sing, and they will tell stories, illustrating the same virtues, as with the voice of an oracle.
Cleinias. Who are those who compose the third choir, Stranger? for I do not clearly understand what you mean to say about them.
Athenian Stranger. And yet almost all that I have been saying has been said with a view to them.
Cleinias. Will you try to be a little plainer?
Athenian Stranger. I was speaking at the commencement of our discourse, as you will remember, of the fiery nature of young creatures: I said that they were unable to keep quiet either in limb or voice, and that they called out and jumped about in a disorderly manner; and that no other animal attained to any perception of order, but man only. Now the order of motion is called rhythm, and the order of the voice, in which high and low are duly mingled, is called harmony; and both together are termed choric song. And I said that the Gods had pity on us, and gave us Apollo and the Muses to be our play-fellows and leaders in the dance; and Dionysus, as I dare say that you will remember, was the third.
Cleinias. I quite remember.
Athenian Stranger. Thus far I have spoken of the chorus of Apollo and the Muses, and I have still to speak of the remaining chorus, which is that of Dionysus.
Cleinias. How is that arranged? There is something strange, at any rate on first hearing, in a Dionysiac chorus of old men, if you really mean that those who are above thirty, and may be fifty, or from fifty to sixty years of age, are to dance in his honor.
Athenian Stranger. Very true; and therefore it must be shown that there is good reason for the proposal.
Athenian Stranger. Are we agreed thus far?
Cleinias. About what?
Athenian Stranger. That every man and boy, slave and free, both sexes, and the whole city, should never cease charming themselves with the strains of which we have spoken; and that there should be every sort of change and variation of them in order to take away the effect of sameness, so that the singers may always receive pleasure from their hymns, and may never weary of them?
Cleinias. Every one will agree.
Athenian Stranger. Where, then, will that best part of our city which, by reason of age and intelligence, has the greatest influence, sing these fairest of strains, which are to do so much good? Shall we be so foolish as to let them off who would give us the most beautiful and also the most useful of songs?
Cleinias. But, says the argument, we cannot let them off.
Athenian Stranger. Then how can we carry out our purpose with decorum? Will this be the way?
Athenian Stranger. When a man is advancing in years, he is afraid and reluctant to sing;—he has no pleasure in his own performances; and if compulsion is used, he will be more and more ashamed, the older and more discreet he grows;—is not this true?
Athenian Stranger. Well, and will he not be yet more ashamed if he has to stand up and sing in the theatre to a mixed audience?—and if moreover when he is required to do so, like the other choirs who contend for prizes, and have been trained under a singing master, he is pinched and hungry, he will certainly have a feeling of shame and discomfort which will make him very unwilling to exhibit.
Cleinias. No doubt.
Athenian Stranger. How, then, shall we reassure him, and get him to sing? Shall we begin by enacting that boys shall not taste wine at all until they are eighteen years of age; we will tell them that fire must not be poured upon fire, whether in the body or in the soul, until they begin to go to work—this is a precaution which has to be taken against the excitableness of youth;—afterwards they may taste wine in moderation up to the age of thirty, but while a man is young he should abstain altogether from intoxication and from excess of wine; when, at length, he has reached forty years, after dinner at a public mess, he may invite not only the other Gods, but Dionysus above all, to the mystery and festivity of the elder men, making use of the wine which he has given men to lighten the sourness of old age; that in age we may renew our youth, and forget our sorrows; and also in order that the nature of the soul, like iron melted in the fire, may become softer and so more impressible. In the first place, will not any one who is thus mellowed be more ready and less ashamed to sing,—I do not say before a large audience, but before a moderate company; nor yet among strangers, but among his familiars, and, as we have often said, to chant, and to enchant?
Cleinias. He will be far more ready.
Athenian Stranger. There will be no impropriety in our using such a method of persuading them to join with us in song.
Cleinias. None at all.
Athenian Stranger. And what strain will they sing, and what muse will they hymn? The strain should clearly be one suitable to them.
Athenian Stranger. And what strain is suitable for heroes? Shall they sing a choric strain?
Cleinias. Truly, Stranger, we of Crete and Lacedaemon know no strain other than that which we have learnt and been accustomed to sing in our chorus.
Athenian Stranger. I dare say; for you have never acquired the knowledge of the most beautiful kind of song, in your military way of life, which is modelled after the camp, and is not like that of dwellers in cities; and you have your young men herding and feeding together like young colts. No one takes his own individual colt and drags him away from his fellows against his will, raging and foaming, and gives him a groom to attend to him alone, and trains and rubs him down privately, and gives him the qualities in education which will make him not only a good soldier, but also a governor of a state and of cities. Such an one, as we said at first, would be a greater warrior than he of whom Tyrtaeus sings; and he would honor courage everywhere, but always as the fourth, and not as the first part of virtue, either in individuals or states.
Cleinias. Once more, Stranger, I must complain that you depreciate our lawgivers.
Athenian Stranger. Not intentionally, if at all, my good friend; but whither the argument leads, thither let us follow; for if there be indeed some strain of song more beautiful than that of the choruses or the public theatres, I should like to impart it to those who, as we say, are ashamed of these, and want to have the best.
Athenian Stranger. When things have an accompanying charm, either the best thing in them is this very charm, or there is some rightness or utility possessed by them;—for example, I should say that eating and drinking, and the use of food in general, have an accompanying charm which we call pleasure; but that this rightness and utility is just the healthfulness of the things served up to us, which is their true rightness.
Cleinias. Just so.
Athenian Stranger. Thus, too, I should say that learning has a certain accompanying charm which is the pleasure; but that the right and the profitable, the good and the noble, are qualities which the truth gives to it.
Athenian Stranger. And so in the imitative arts,—if they succeed in making likenesses, and are accompanied by pleasure, may not their works be said to have a charm?
Athenian Stranger. But equal proportions, whether of quality or quantity, and not pleasure, speaking generally, would give them truth or rightness.
Athenian Stranger. Then that only can be rightly judged by the standard of pleasure, which makes or furnishes no utility or truth or likeness, nor on the other hand is productive of any hurtful quality, but exists solely for the sake of the accompanying charm; and the term "pleasure" is most appropriately applied to it when these other qualities are absent.
Cleinias. You are speaking of harmless pleasure, are you not?
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and this I term amusement, when doing neither harm nor good in any degree worth speaking of.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Then, if such be our principles, we must assert that imitation is not to be judged of by pleasure and false opinion; and this is true of all equality, for the equal is not equal or the symmetrical symmetrical, because somebody thinks or likes something, but they are to be judged of by the standard of truth, and by no other whatever.
Cleinias. Quite true.
Athenian Stranger. Do we not regard all music as representative and imitative?
Athenian Stranger. Then, when any one says that music is to be judged of by pleasure, his doctrine cannot be admitted; and if there be any music of which pleasure is the criterion, such music is not to be sought out or deemed to have any real excellence, but only that other kind of music which is an imitation of the good.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And those who seek for the best kind of song and music ought not to seek for that which is pleasant, but for that which is true; and the truth of imitation consists, as we were saying, in rendering the thing imitated according to quantity and quality.
Athenian Stranger. And every one will admit that musical compositions are all imitative and representative. Will not poets and spectators and actors all agree in this?
Cleinias. They will.
Athenian Stranger. Surely then he who would judge correctly must know what each composition is; for if he does not know what is the character and meaning of the piece, and what it represents, he will never discern whether the intention is true or false.
Cleinias. Certainly not.
Athenian Stranger. And will he who does not know what is true be able to distinguish what is good and bad? My statement is not very clear; but perhaps you will understand me better if I put the matter in another way.
Athenian Stranger. There are ten thousand likenesses of objects of sight?
Athenian Stranger. And can he who does not know what the exact object is which is imitated, ever know whether the resemblance is truthfully executed? I mean, for example, whether a statue has the proportions of a body, and the true situation of the parts; what those proportions are, and how the parts fit into one another in due order; also their colors and conformations, or whether this is all confused in the execution: do you think that any one can know about this, who does not know what the animal is which has been imitated?
Athenian Stranger. But even if we know that the thing pictured or sculptured is a man, who has received at the hand of the artist all his proper parts and colors and shapes, must we not also know whether the work is beautiful or in any respect deficient in beauty?
Cleinias. If this were not required, Stranger, we should all of us be judges of beauty.
Athenian Stranger. Very true; and may we not say that in everything imitated, whether in drawing, music, or any other art, he who is to be a competent judge must possess three things;—he must know, in the first place, of what the imitation is; secondly, he must know that it is true; and thirdly, that it has been well executed in words and melodies and rhythms?
Athenian Stranger. Then let us not faint in discussing the peculiar difficulty of music. Music is more celebrated than any other kind of imitation, and therefore requires the greatest care of them all. For if a man makes a mistake here, he may do himself the greatest injury by welcoming evil dispositions, and the mistake may be very difficult to discern, because the poets are artists very inferior in character to the Muses themselves, who would never fall into the monstrous error of assigning to the words of men the gestures and songs of women; nor after combining the melodies with the gestures of freemen would they add on the rhythms of slaves and men of the baser sort; nor, beginning with the rhythms and gestures of freemen, would they assign to them a melody or words which are of an opposite character; nor would they mix up the voices and sounds of animals and of men and instruments, and every other sort of noise, as if they were all one. But human poets are fond of introducing this sort of inconsistent mixture, and so make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of those who, as Orpheus says, "are ripe for true pleasure." The experienced see all this confusion, and yet the poets go on and make still further havoc by separating the rhythm and the figure of the dance from the melody, setting bare words to meter, and also separating the melody and the rhythm from the words, using the lyre or the flute alone. For when there are no words, it is very difficult to recognize the meaning of the harmony and rhythm, or to see that any worthy object is imitated by them. And we must acknowledge that all this sort of thing, which aims only at swiftness and smoothness and a brutish noise, and uses the flute and the lyre not as the mere accompaniments of the dance and song, is exceedingly coarse and tasteless. The use of either instrument, when unaccompanied, leads to every sort of irregularity and trickery. This is all rational enough. But we are considering not how our choristers, who are from thirty to fifty years of age, and may be over fifty, are not to use the Muses, but how they are to use them. And the considerations which we have urged seem to show in what way these fifty-year-old choristers who are to sing, may be expected to be better trained. For they need to have a quick perception and knowledge of harmonies and rhythms; otherwise, how can they ever know whether a melody would be rightly sung to the Dorian mode, or to the rhythm which the poet has assigned to it?
Cleinias. Clearly they cannot.
Athenian Stranger. The many are ridiculous in imagining that they know what is in proper harmony and rhythm, and what is not, when they can only be made to sing and step in rhythm by force; it never occurs to them that they are ignorant of what they are doing. Now every melody is right when it has suitable harmony and rhythm, and wrong when unsuitable.
Cleinias. That is most certain.
Athenian Stranger. But can a man who does not know a thing, as we were saying, know that the thing is right?
Athenian Stranger. Then now, as would appear, we are making the discovery that our newly-appointed choristers, whom we hereby invite and, although they are their own masters, compel to sing, must be educated to such an extent as to be able to follow the steps of the rhythm and the notes of the song, that they may know the harmonies and rhythms, and be able to select what are suitable for men of their age and character to sing; and may sing them, and have innocent pleasure from their own performance, and also lead younger men to welcome with dutiful delight good dispositions. Having such training, they will attain a more accurate knowledge than falls to the lot of the common people, or even of the poets themselves. For the poet need not know the third point, viz., whether the imitation is good or not, though he can hardly help knowing the laws of melody and rhythm. But the aged chorus must know all the three, that they may choose the best, and that which is nearest to the best; for otherwise they will never be able to charm the souls of young men in the way of virtue. And now the original design of the argument which was intended to bring eloquent aid to the Chorus of Dionysus, has been accomplished to the best of our ability, and let us see whether we were right:—I should imagine that a drinking assembly is likely to become more and more tumultuous as the drinking goes on: this, as we were saying at first, will certainly be the case.
Athenian Stranger. Every man has a more than natural elevation; his heart is glad within him, and he will say anything and will be restrained by nobody at such a time; he fancies that he is able to rule over himself and all mankind.
Cleinias. Quite true.
Ath. Were we not saying that on such occasions the souls of the drinkers become like iron heated in the fire, and grow softer and younger, and are easily molded by him who knows how to educate and fashion them, just as when they were young, and that this fashioner of them is the same who prescribed for them in the days of their youth, viz., the good legislator; and that he ought to enact laws of the banquet, which, when a man is confident, bold, and impudent, and unwilling to wait his turn and have his share of silence and speech, and drinking and music, will change his character into the opposite—such laws as will infuse into him a just and noble fear, which will take up arms at the approach of insolence, being that divine fear which we have called reverence and shame?
Athenian Stranger. And the guardians of these laws and fellow-workers with them are the calm and sober generals of the drinkers; and without their help there is greater difficulty in fighting against drink than in fighting against enemies when the commander of an army is not himself calm; and he who is unwilling to obey them and the commanders of Dionysiac feasts who are more than sixty years of age, shall suffer a disgrace as great as he who disobeys military leaders, or even greater.
Athenian Stranger. If, then, drinking and amusement were regulated in this way, would not the companions of our revels be improved? they would part better friends than they were, and not, as now, enemies. Their whole intercourse would be regulated by law and observant of it, and the sober would be the leaders of the drunken.
Cleinias. I think so too, if drinking were regulated as you propose.
Athenian Stranger. Let us not then simply censure the gift of Dionysus as bad and unfit to be received into the State. For wine has many excellences, and one pre-eminent one, about which there is a difficulty in speaking to the many, from a fear of their misconceiving and misunderstanding what is said.
Cleinias. To what do you refer?
Athenian Stranger. There is a tradition or story, which has somehow crept about the world, that Dionysus was robbed of his wits by his stepmother Here, and that out of revenge he inspires Bacchic furies and dancing madnesses in others; for which reason he gave men wine. Such traditions concerning the Gods I leave to those who think that they may be safely uttered; I only know that no animal at birth is mature or perfect in intelligence; and in the intermediate period, in which he has not yet acquired his own proper sense, he rages and roars without rhyme or reason; and when he has once got on his legs he jumps about without rhyme or reason; and this, as you will remember, has been already said by us to be the origin of music and gymnastic.
Cleinias. To be sure, I remember.
Athenian Stranger. And did we not say that the sense of harmony and rhythm sprang from this beginning among men, and that Apollo and the Muses and Dionysus were the Gods whom we had to thank for them?
Athenian Stranger. The other story implied that wine was given man out of revenge, and in order to make him mad; but our present doctrine, on the contrary, is, that wine was given him as a balm, and in order to implant modesty in the soul, and health and strength in the body.
Cleinias. That, Stranger, is precisely what was said.
Athenian Stranger. Then half the subject may now be considered to have been discussed; shall we proceed to the consideration of the other half?
Cleinias. What is the other half, and how do you divide the subject?
Athenian Stranger. The whole choral art is also in our view the whole of education; and of this art, rhythms and harmonies form the part which has to do with the voice.
Athenian Stranger. The movement of the body has rhythm in common with the movement of the voice, but gesture is peculiar to it, whereas song is simply the movement of the voice.
Cleinias. Most true.
Athenian Stranger. And the sound of the voice which reaches and educates the soul, we have ventured to term music.
Cleinias. We were right.
Athenian Stranger. And the movement of the body, when regarded as an amusement, we termed dancing; but when extended and pursued with a view to the excellence of the body, this scientific training may be called gymnastic.
Athenian Stranger. Music, which was one half of the choral art, may be said to have been completely discussed. Shall we proceed to the other half or not? What would you like?
Cleinias. My good friend, when you are talking with a Cretan and Lacedaemonian, and we have discussed music and not gymnastic, what answer are either of us likely to make to such an enquiry?
Athenian Stranger. An answer is contained in your question; and I understand and accept what you say not only as an answer, but also as a command to proceed with gymnastic.
Cleinias. You quite understand me; do as you say.
Athenian Stranger. I will; and there will not be any difficulty in speaking intelligibly to you about a subject with which both of you are far more familiar than with music.
Cleinias. There will not.
Athenian Stranger. Is not the origin of gymnastics, too, to be sought in the tendency to rapid motion which exists in all animals; man, as we were saying, having attained the sense of rhythm, created and invented dancing; and melody arousing and awakening rhythm, both united formed the choral art?
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And one part of this subject has been already discussed by us, and there still remains another to be discussed?
Athenian Stranger. I have first a final word to add to my discourse about drink, if you will allow me to do so.
Cleinias. What more have you to say?
Athenian Stranger. I should say that if a city seriously means to adopt the practice of drinking under due regulation and with a view to the enforcement of temperance, and in like manner, and on the same principle, will allow of other pleasures, designing to gain the victory over them—in this way all of them may be used. But if the State makes drinking an amusement only, and whoever likes may drink whenever he likes, and with whom he likes, and add to this any other indulgences, I shall never agree or allow that this city or this man should practice drinking. I would go further than the Cretans and Lacedaemonians, and am disposed rather to the law of the Carthaginians, that no one while he is on a campaign should be allowed to taste wine at all, but that he should drink water during all that time, and that in the city no slave, male or female, should ever drink wine; and that no magistrates should drink during their year of office, nor should pilots of vessels or judges while on duty taste wine at all, nor any one who is going to hold a consultation about any matter of importance; nor in the daytime at all, unless in consequence of exercise or as medicine; nor again at night, when any one, either man or woman, is minded to get children. There are numberless other cases also in which those who have good sense and good laws ought not to drink wine, so that if what I say is true, no city will need many vineyards. Their husbandry and their way of life in general will follow an appointed order, and their cultivation of the vine will be the most limited and the least common of their employments. And this, Stranger, shall be the crown of my discourse about wine, if you agree.
Cleinias. Excellent: we agree.