Athenian Stranger. Enough of this. And what, then, is to be regarded as the origin of government? Will not a man be able to judge of it best from a point of view in which he may behold the progress of states and their transitions to good or evil?
Cleinias. What do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. I mean that he might watch them from the point of view of time, and observe the changes which take place in them during infinite ages.
Cleinias. How so?
Athenian Stranger. Why, do you think that you can reckon the time which has elapsed since cities first existed and men were citizens of them?
Athenian Stranger. But you are sure that it must be vast and incalculable?
Athenian Stranger. And have not thousands and thousands of cities come into being during this period and as many perished? And has not each of them had every form of government many times over, now growing larger, now smaller, and again improving or declining?
Cleinias. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. Let us endeavor to ascertain the cause of these changes; for that will probably explain the first origin and development of forms of government.
Cleinias. Very good. You shall endeavor to impart your thoughts to us, and we will make an effort to understand you.
Athenian Stranger. Do you believe that there is any truth in ancient traditions?
Cleinias. What traditions?
Athenian Stranger. The traditions about the many destructions of mankind which have been occasioned by deluges and pestilences, and in many other ways, and of the survival of a remnant?
Cleinias. Every one is disposed to believe them.
Athenian Stranger. Let us consider one of them, that which was caused by the famous deluge.
Cleinias. What are we to observe about it?
Athenian Stranger. I mean to say that those who then escaped would only be hill shepherds,—small sparks of the human race preserved on the tops of mountains.
Athenian Stranger. Such survivors would necessarily be unacquainted with the arts and the various devices which are suggested to the dwellers in cities by interest or ambition, and with all the wrongs which they contrive against one another.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Let us suppose, then, that the cities in the plain and on the sea-coast were utterly destroyed at that time.
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. Would not all implements have then perished and every other excellent invention of political or any other sort of wisdom have utterly disappeared?
Cleinias. Why, yes, my friend; and if things had always continued as they are at present ordered, how could any discovery have ever been made even in the least particular? For it is evident that the arts were unknown during ten thousand times ten thousand years. And no more than a thousand or two thousand years have elapsed since the discoveries of Daedalus, Orpheus and Palamedes,—since Marsyas and Olympus invented music, and Amphion the lyre,—not to speak of numberless other inventions which are but of yesterday.
Athenian Stranger. Have you forgotten, Cleinias, the name of a friend who is really of yesterday?
Cleinias. I suppose that you mean Epimenides.
Athenian Stranger. The same, my friend; he does indeed far overleap the heads of all mankind by his invention; for he carried out in practice, as you declare, what of old Hesiod [Works and Days, ii. 40, 41.] only preached.
Cleinias. Yes, according to our tradition.
Athenian Stranger. After the great destruction, may we not suppose that the state of man was something of this sort:—In the beginning of things there was a fearful illimitable desert and a vast expanse of land; a herd or two of oxen would be the only survivors of the animal world; and there might be a few goats, these too hardly enough to maintain the shepherds who tended them?
Athenian Stranger. And of cities or governments or legislation, about which we are now talking, do you suppose that they could have any recollection at all?
Cleinias. None whatever.
Athenian Stranger. And out of this state of things has there not sprung all that we now are and have: cities and governments, and arts and laws, and a great deal of vice and a great deal of virtue?
Cleinias. What do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. Why, my good friend, how can we possibly suppose that those who knew nothing of all the good and evil of cities could have attained their full development, whether of virtue or of vice?
Cleinias. I understand your meaning, and you are quite right.
Athenian Stranger. But, as time advanced and the race multiplied, the world came to be what the world is.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Doubtless the change was not made all in a moment, but little by little, during a very long period of time.
Cleinias. A highly probable supposition.
Athenian Stranger. At first, they would have a natural fear ringing in their ears which would prevent their descending from the heights into the plain.
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. The fewness of the survivors at that time would have made them all the more desirous of seeing one another; but then the means of travelling either by land or sea had been almost entirely lost, as I may say, with the loss of the arts, and there was great difficulty in getting at one another; for iron and brass and all metals were jumbled together and had disappeared in the chaos; nor was there any possibility of extracting ore from them; and they had scarcely any means of felling timber. Even if you suppose that some implements might have been preserved in the mountains, they must quickly have worn out and vanished, and there would be no more of them until the art of metallurgy had again revived.
Cleinias. There could not have been.
Athenian Stranger. In how many generations would this be attained?
Cleinias. Clearly, not for many generations.
Athenian Stranger. During this period, and for some time afterwards, all the arts which require iron and brass and the like would disappear.
Athenian Stranger. Faction and war would also have died out in those days, and for many reasons.
Cleinias. How would that be?
Athenian Stranger. In the first place, the desolation of these primitive men would create in them a feeling of affection and good-will towards one another; and, secondly, they would have no occasion to quarrel about their subsistence, for they would have pasture in abundance, except just at first, and in some particular cases; and from their pasture-land they would obtain the greater part of their food in a primitive age, having plenty of milk and flesh; moreover they would procure other food by the chase, not to be despised either in quantity or quality. They would also have abundance of clothing, and bedding, and dwellings, and utensils either capable of standing on the fire or not; for the plastic and weaving arts do not require any use of iron: and God has given these two arts to man in order to provide him with all such things, that, when reduced to the last extremity, the human race may still grow and increase. Hence in those days mankind were not very poor; nor was poverty a cause of difference among them; and rich they could not have been, having neither gold nor silver:—such at that time was their condition. And the community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles; in it there is no insolence or injustice, nor, again, are there any contentions or envyings. And therefore they were good, and also because they were what is called simple-minded; and when they were told about good and evil, they in their simplicity believed what they heard to be very truth and practiced it. No one had the wit to suspect another of a falsehood, as men do now; but what they heard about Gods and men they believed to be true, and lived accordingly; and therefore they were in all respects such as we have described them.
Cleinias. That quite accords with my views, and with those of my friend here.
Athenian Stranger. Would not many generations living on in a simple manner, although ruder, perhaps, and more ignorant of the arts generally, and in particular of those of land or naval warfare, and likewise of other arts, termed in cities legal practices and party conflicts, and including all conceivable ways of hurting one another in word and deed;—although inferior to those who lived before the deluge, or to the men of our day in these respects, would they not, I say, be simpler and more manly, and also more temperate and altogether more just? The reason has been already explained.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. I should wish you to understand that what has preceded and what is about to follow, has been, and will be said, with the intention of explaining what need the men of that time had of laws, and who was their lawgiver.
Cleinias. And thus far what you have said has been very well said.
Athenian Stranger. They could hardly have wanted lawgivers as yet; nothing of that sort was likely to have existed in their days, for they had no letters at this early period; they lived by habit and the customs of their ancestors, as they are called.
Athenian Stranger. But there was already existing a form of government which, if I am not mistaken, is generally termed a lordship, and this still remains in many places, both among Hellenes and barbarians, and is the government which is declared by Homer to have prevailed among the Cyclopes:
'They have neither councils nor judgments, but they dwell in hollow caves on the tops of high mountains, and every one gives law to his wife and children, and they do not busy themselves about one another.' [Odyss. ix. 112, ff.]
Cleinias. That seems to be a charming poet of yours; I have read some other verses of his, which are very clever; but I do not know much of him, for foreign poets are very little read among the Cretans.
Megillus. But they are in Lacedaemon, and he appears to be the prince of them all; the manner of life, however, which he describes is not Spartan, but rather Ionian, and he seems quite to confirm what you are saying, when he traces up the ancient state of mankind by the help of tradition to barbarism.
Athenian Stranger. Yes, he does confirm it; and we may accept his witness to the fact that such forms of government sometimes arise.
Cleinias. We may.
Athenian Stranger. And were not such states composed of men who had been dispersed in single habitations and families by the poverty which attended the devastations; and did not the eldest then rule among them, because with them government originated in the authority of a father and a mother, whom, like a flock of birds, they followed, forming one troop under the patriarchal rule and sovereignty of their parents, which of all sovereignties is the most just?
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. After this they came together in greater numbers, and increased the size of their cities, and betook themselves to husbandry, first of all at the foot of the mountains, and made enclosures of loose walls and works of defense, in order to keep off wild beasts; thus creating a single large and common habitation.
Cleinias. Yes; at least we may suppose so.
Athenian Stranger. There is another thing which would probably happen.
Athenian Stranger. When these larger habitations grew up out of the lesser original ones, each of the lesser ones would survive in the larger; every family would be under the rule of the eldest, and, owing to their separation from one another, would have peculiar customs in things divine and human, which they would have received from their several parents who had educated them; and these customs would incline them to order, when the parents had the element of order in their nature, and to courage, when they had the element of courage. And they would naturally stamp upon their children, and upon their children's children, their own likings; and, as we are saying, they would find their way into the larger society, having already their own peculiar laws.
Athenian Stranger. And every man surely likes his own laws best, and the laws of others not so well.
Athenian Stranger. Then now we seem to have stumbled upon the beginnings of legislation.
Athenian Stranger. The next step will be that these persons who have met together, will select some arbiters, who will review the laws of all of them, and will publicly present such as they approve to the chiefs who lead the tribes, and who are in a manner their kings, allowing them to choose those which they think best. These persons will themselves be called legislators, and will appoint the magistrates, framing some sort of aristocracy, or perhaps monarchy, out of the dynasties or lordships, and in this altered state of the government they will live.
Cleinias. Yes, that would be the natural order of things.
Athenian Stranger. Then, now let us speak of a third form of government, in which all other forms and conditions of polities and cities concur.
Cleinias. What is that?
Athenian Stranger. The form which in fact Homer indicates as following the second. This third form arose when, as he says, Dardanus founded Dardania:—
'For not as yet had the holy Ilium been built on the plain to be a city of speaking men; but they were still dwelling at the foot of many-fountained Ida.' [Iliad xx. 216, ff.]
For indeed, in these verses, and in what he said of the Cyclopes, he speaks the words of God and nature; for poets are a divine race and often in their strains, by the aid of the Muses and the Graces, they attain truth.
Athenian Stranger. Then now let us proceed with the rest of our tale, which will probably be found to illustrate in some degree our proposed design:—Shall we do so?
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. Ilium was built, when they descended from the mountain, in a large and fair plain, on a sort of low hill, watered by many rivers descending from Ida.
Cleinias. Such is the tradition.
Athenian Stranger. And we must suppose this event to have taken place many ages after the deluge?
Athenian Stranger. A marvellous forgetfulness of the former destruction would appear to have come over them, when they placed their town right under numerous streams flowing from the heights, trusting for their security to not very high hills, either.
Cleinias. There must have been a long interval, clearly.
Athenian Stranger. And, as population increased, many other cities would begin to be inhabited.
Athenian Stranger. Those cities made war against Troy—by sea as well as land—for at that time men were ceasing to be afraid of the sea.
Athenian Stranger. The Achaeans remained ten years, and overthrew Troy.
Athenian Stranger. And during the ten years in which the Achaeans were besieging Ilium, the homes of the besiegers were falling into an evil plight. Their youth revolted; and when the soldiers returned to their own cities and families, they did not receive them properly, and as they ought to have done, and numerous deaths, murders, exiles, were the consequence. The exiles came again, under a new name, no longer Achaeans, but Dorians,—a name which they derived from Dorieus; for it was he who gathered them together. The rest of the story is told by you Lacedaemonians as part of the history of Sparta.
Megillus. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. Thus, after digressing from the original subject of laws into music and drinking-bouts, the argument has, providentially, come back to the same point, and presents to us another handle. For we have reached the settlement of Lacedaemon; which, as you truly say, is in laws and in institutions the sister of Crete. And we are all the better for the digression, because we have gone through various governments and settlements, and have been present at the foundation of a first, second, and third state, succeeding one another in infinite time. And now there appears on the horizon a fourth state or nation which was once in process of settlement and has continued settled to this day. If, out of all this, we are able to discern what is well or ill settled, and what laws are the salvation and what are the destruction of cities, and what changes would make a state happy, O Megillus and Cleinias, we may now begin again, unless we have some fault to find with the previous discussion.
Megillus. If some God, Stranger, would promise us that our new enquiry about legislation would be as good and full as the present, I would go a great way to hear such another, and would think that a day as long as this—and we are now approaching the longest day of the year—was too short for the discussion.
Athenian Stranger. Then I suppose that we must consider this subject?
Athenian Stranger. Let us place ourselves in thought at the moment when Lacedaemon and Argos and Messene and the rest of the Peloponnesus were all in complete subjection, Megillus, to your ancestors; for afterwards, as the legend informs us, they divided their army into three portions, and settled three cities, Argos, Messene, Lacedaemon.
Athenian Stranger. Temenus was the king of Argos, Cresphontes of Messene, Procles and Eurysthenes of Lacedaemon.
Athenian Stranger. To these kings all the men of that day made oath that they would assist them, if any one subverted their kingdom.
Athenian Stranger. But can a kingship be destroyed, or was any other form of government ever destroyed, by any but the rulers themselves? No indeed, by Zeus. Have we already forgotten what was said a little while ago?
Athenian Stranger. And may we not now further confirm what was then mentioned? For we have come upon facts which have brought us back again to the same principle; so that, in resuming the discussion, we shall not be enquiring about an empty theory, but about events which actually happened. The case was as follows:—Three royal heroes made oath to three cities which were under a kingly government, and the cities to the kings, that both rulers and subjects should govern and be governed according to the laws which were common to all of them: the rulers promised that as time and the race went forward they would not make their rule more arbitrary; and the subjects said that, if the rulers observed these conditions, they would never subvert or permit others to subvert those kingdoms; the kings were to assist kings and peoples when injured, and the peoples were to assist peoples and kings in like manner. Is not this the fact?
Athenian Stranger. And the three states to whom these laws were given, whether their kings or any others were the authors of them, had therefore the greatest security for the maintenance of their constitutions?
Megillus. What security?
Athenian Stranger. That the other two states were always to come to the rescue against a rebellious third.
Athenian Stranger. Many persons say that legislators ought to impose such laws as the mass of the people will be ready to receive; but this is just as if one were to command gymnastic masters or physicians to treat or cure their pupils or patients in an agreeable manner.
Athenian Stranger. Whereas the physician may often be too happy if he can restore health, and make the body whole, without any very great infliction of pain.
Athenian Stranger. There was also another advantage possessed by the men of that day, which greatly lightened the task of passing laws.
Megillus. What advantage?
Athenian Stranger. The legislators of that day, when they equalized property, escaped the great accusation which generally arises in legislation, if a person attempts to disturb the possession of land, or to abolish debts, because he sees that without this reform there can never be any real equality. Now, in general, when the legislator attempts to make a new settlement of such matters, every one meets him with the cry, that 'he is not to disturb vested interests,'—declaring with imprecations that he is introducing agrarian laws and cancelling of debts, until a man is at his wits end; whereas no one could quarrel with the Dorians for distributing the land,—there was nothing to hinder them; and as for debts, they had none which were considerable or of old standing.
Megillus. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. But then, my good friends, why did the settlement and legislation of their country turn out so badly?
Megillus. How do you mean; and why do you blame them?
Athenian Stranger. There were three kingdoms, and of these, two quickly corrupted their original constitution and laws, and the only one which remained was the Spartan.
Megillus. The question which you ask is not easily answered.
Athenian Stranger. And yet must be answered when we are enquiring about laws, this being our old man's sober game of play, whereby we beguile the way, as I was saying when we first set out on our journey.
Megillus. Certainly; and we must find out why this was.
Athenian Stranger. What laws are more worthy of our attention than those which have regulated such cities? or what settlements of states are greater or more famous?
Megillus. I know of none.
Athenian Stranger. Can we doubt that your ancestors intended these institutions not only for the protection of Peloponnesus, but of all the Hellenes, in case they were attacked by the barbarian? For the inhabitants of the region about Ilium, when they provoked by their insolence the Trojan war, relied upon the power of the Assyrians and the Empire of Ninus, which still existed and had a great prestige; the people of those days fearing the united Assyrian Empire just as we now fear the Great King. And the second capture of Troy was a serious offense against them, because Troy was a portion of the Assyrian Empire. To meet the danger the single army was distributed between three cities by the royal brothers, sons of Heracles,—a fair device, as it seemed, and a far better arrangement than the expedition against Troy. For, firstly, the people of that day had, as they thought, in the Heraclidae better leaders than the Pelopidae; in the next place, they considered that their army was superior in valor to that which went against Troy; for, although the latter conquered the Trojans, they were themselves conquered by the Heraclidae—Achaeans by Dorians. May we not suppose that this was the intention with which the men of those days framed the constitutions of their states?
Megillus. Quite true.
Athenian Stranger. And would not men who had shared with one another many dangers, and were governed by a single race of royal brothers, and had taken the advice of oracles, and in particular of the Delphian Apollo, be likely to think that such states would be firmly and lastingly established?
Megillus. Of course they would.
Athenian Stranger. Yet these institutions, of which such great expectations were entertained, seem to have all rapidly vanished away; with the exception, as I was saying, of that small part of them which existed in your land. And this third part has never to this day ceased warring against the two others; whereas, if the original idea had been carried out, and they had agreed to be one, their power would have been invincible in war.
Megillus. No doubt.
Athenian Stranger. But what was the ruin of this glorious confederacy? Here is a subject well worthy of consideration.
Megillus. Certainly, no one will ever find more striking instances of laws or governments being the salvation or destruction of great and noble interests, than are here presented to his view.
Athenian Stranger. Then now we seem to have happily arrived at a real and important question.
Megillus. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Did you never remark, sage friend, that all men, and we ourselves at this moment, often fancy that they see some beautiful thing which might have effected wonders if any one had only known how to make a right use of it in some way; and yet this mode of looking at things may turn out after all to be a mistake, and not according to nature, either in our own case or in any other?
Megillus. To what are you referring, and what do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. I was thinking of my own admiration of the aforesaid Heracleid expedition, which was so noble, and might have had such wonderful results for the Hellenes, if only rightly used; and I was just laughing at myself.
Megillus. But were you not right and wise in speaking as you did, and we in assenting to you?
Athenian Stranger. Perhaps; and yet I cannot help observing that any one who sees anything great or powerful, immediately has the feeling that—'If the owner only knew how to use his great and noble possession, how happy would he be, and what great results would he achieve!'
Megillus. And would he not be justified?
Athenian Stranger. Reflect; in what point of view does this sort of praise appear just: First, in reference to the question in hand:—If the then commanders had known how to arrange their army properly, how would they have attained success? Would not this have been the way? They would have bound them all firmly together and preserved them for ever, giving them freedom and dominion at pleasure, combined with the power of doing in the whole world, Hellenic and barbarian, whatever they and their descendants desired. What other aim would they have had?
Megillus. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose any one were in the same way to express his admiration at the sight of great wealth or family honor, or the like, he would praise them under the idea that through them he would attain either all or the greater and chief part of what he desires.
Megillus. He would.
Athenian Stranger. Well, now, and does not the argument show that there is one common desire of all mankind?
Megillus. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. The desire which a man has, that all things, if possible,—at any rate, things human,—may come to pass in accordance with his soul's desire.
Athenian Stranger. And having this desire always, and at every time of life, in youth, in manhood, in age, he cannot help always praying for the fulfillment of it.
Megillus. No doubt.
Athenian Stranger. And we join in the prayers of our friends, and ask for them what they ask for themselves.
Megillus. We do.
Athenian Stranger. Dear is the son to the father—the younger to the elder.
Megillus. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. And yet the son often prays to obtain things which the father prays that he may not obtain.
Megillus. When the son is young and foolish, you mean?
Athenian Stranger. Yes; or when the father, in the dotage of age or the heat of youth, having no sense of right and justice, prays with fervor, under the influence of feelings akin to those of Theseus when he cursed the unfortunate Hippolytus, do you imagine that the son, having a sense of right and justice, will join in his father's prayers?
Megillus. I understand you to mean that a man should not desire or be in a hurry to have all things according to his wish, for his wish may be at variance with his reason. But every state and every individual ought to pray and strive for wisdom.
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and I remember, and you will remember, what I said at first, that a statesman and legislator ought to ordain laws with a view to wisdom; while you were arguing that the good lawgiver ought to order all with a view to war. And to this I replied that there were four virtues, but that upon your view one of them only was the aim of legislation; whereas you ought to regard all virtue, and especially that which comes first, and is the leader of all the rest—I mean wisdom and mind and opinion, having affection and desire in their train. And now the argument returns to the same point, and I say once more, in jest if you like, or in earnest if you like, that the prayer of a fool is full of danger, being likely to end in the opposite of what he desires. And if you would rather receive my words in earnest, I am willing that you should; and you will find, I suspect, as I have said already, that not cowardice was the cause of the ruin of the Dorian kings and of their whole design, nor ignorance of military matters, either on the part of the rulers or of their subjects; but their misfortunes were due to their general degeneracy, and especially to their ignorance of the most important human affairs. That was then, and is still, and always will be the case, as I will endeavor, if you will allow me, to make out and demonstrate as well as I am able to you who are my friends, in the course of the argument.
Cleinias. Pray go on, Stranger;—compliments are troublesome, but we will show, not in word but in deed, how greatly we prize your words, for we will give them our best attention; and that is the way in which a freeman best shows his approval or disapproval.
Megillus. Excellent, Cleinias; let us do as you say.
Cleinias. By all means, if Heaven wills. Go on.
Athenian Stranger. Well, then, proceeding in the same train of thought, I say that the greatest ignorance was the ruin of the Dorian power, and that now, as then, ignorance is ruin. And if this be true, the legislator must endeavor to implant wisdom in states, and banish ignorance to the utmost of his power.
Cleinias. That is evident.
Athenian Stranger. Then now consider what is really the greatest ignorance. I should like to know whether you and Megillus would agree with me in what I am about to say; for my opinion is—
Athenian Stranger. That the greatest ignorance is when a man hates that which he nevertheless thinks to be good and noble, and loves and embraces that which he knows to be unrighteous and evil. This disagreement between the sense of pleasure and the judgment of reason in the soul is, in my opinion, the worst ignorance; and also the greatest, because affecting the great mass of the human soul; for the principle which feels pleasure and pain in the individual is like the mass or populace in a state. And when the soul is opposed to knowledge, or opinion, or reason, which are her natural lords, that I call folly, just as in the state, when the multitude refuses to obey their rulers and the laws; or, again, in the individual, when fair reasonings have their habitation in the soul and yet do no good, but rather the reverse of good. All these cases I term the worst ignorance, whether in individuals or in states. You will understand, Stranger, that I am speaking of something which is very different from the ignorance of handicraftsmen.
Cleinias. Yes, my friend, we understand and agree.
Athenian Stranger. Let us, then, in the first place declare and affirm that the citizen who does not know these things ought never to have any kind of authority entrusted to him: he must be stigmatized as ignorant, even though he be versed in calculation and skilled in all sorts of accomplishments, and feats of mental dexterity; and the opposite are to be called wise, even although, in the words of the proverb, they know neither how to read nor how to swim; and to them, as to men of sense, authority is to be committed. For, O my friends, how can there be the least shadow of wisdom when there is no harmony? There is none; but the noblest and greatest of harmonies may be truly said to be the greatest wisdom; and of this he is a partaker who lives according to reason; whereas he who is devoid of reason is the destroyer of his house and the very opposite of a savior of the state: he is utterly ignorant of political wisdom. Let this, then, as I was saying, be laid down by us.
Cleinias. Let it be so laid down.
Athenian Stranger. I suppose that there must be rulers and subjects in states?
Athenian Stranger. And what are the principles on which men rule and obey in cities, whether great or small; and similarly in families? What are they, and how many in number? Is there not one claim of authority which is always just—that of fathers and mothers and in general of progenitors to rule over their offspring?
Cleinias. There is.
Athenian Stranger. Next follows the principle that the noble should rule over the ignoble; and, thirdly, that the elder should rule and the younger obey?
Cleinias. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. And, fourthly, that slaves should be ruled, and their masters rule?
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. Fifthly, if I am not mistaken, comes the principle that the stronger shall rule, and the weaker be ruled?
Cleinias. That is a rule not to be disobeyed.
Athenian Stranger. Yes, and a rule which prevails very widely among all creatures, and is according to nature, as the Theban poet Pindar once said; and the sixth principle, and the greatest of all, is, that the wise should lead and command, and the ignorant follow and obey; and yet, O thou most wise Pindar, as I should reply him, this surely is not contrary to nature, but according to nature, being the rule of law over willing subjects, and not a rule of compulsion.
Cleinias. Most true.
Athenian Stranger. There is a seventh kind of rule which is awarded by lot, and is dear to the Gods and a token of good fortune: he on whom the lot falls is a ruler, and he who fails in obtaining the lot goes away and is the subject; and this we affirm to be quite just.
Athenian Stranger. "Then now," as we say playfully to any of those who lightly undertake the making of laws, "you see, legislator, the principles of government, how many they are, and that they are naturally opposed to each other. There we have discovered a fountain-head of seditions, to which you must attend. And, first, we will ask you to consider with us, how and in what respect the kings of Argos and Messene violated these our maxims, and ruined themselves and the great and famous Hellenic power of the olden time. Was it because they did not know how wisely Hesiod spoke when he said that the half is often more than the whole? His meaning was, that when to take the whole would be dangerous, and to take the half would be the safe and moderate course, then the moderate or better was more than the immoderate or worse."
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And may we suppose this immoderate spirit to be more fatal when found among kings than when among peoples?
Cleinias. The probability is that ignorance will be a disorder especially prevalent among kings, because they lead a proud and luxurious life.
Athenian Stranger. Is it not palpable that the chief aim of the kings of that time was to get the better of the established laws, and that they were not in harmony with the principles which they had agreed to observe by word and oath? This want of harmony may have had the appearance of wisdom, but was really, as we assert, the greatest ignorance, and utterly overthrew the whole empire by dissonance and harsh discord.
Cleinias. Very likely.
Athenian Stranger. Good; and what measures ought the legislator to have then taken in order to avert this calamity? Truly there is no great wisdom in knowing, and no great difficulty in telling, after the evil has happened; but to have foreseen the remedy at the time would have taken a much wiser head than ours.
Megillus. What do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. Any one who looks at what has occurred with you Lacedaemonians, Megillus, may easily know and may easily say what ought to have been done at that time.
Megillus. Speak a little more clearly.
Athenian Stranger. Nothing can be clearer than the observation which I am about to make.
Megillus. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. That if any one gives too great a power to anything, too large a sail to a vessel, too much food to the body, too much authority to the mind, and does not observe the mean, everything is overthrown, and, in the wantonness of excess runs in the one case to disorders, and in the other to injustice, which is the child of excess. I mean to say, my dear friends, that there is no soul of man, young and irresponsible, who will be able to sustain the temptation of arbitrary power—no one who will not, under such circumstances, become filled with folly, that worst of diseases, and be hated by his nearest and dearest friends: when this happens, his kingdom is undermined, and all his power vanishes from him. And great legislators who know the mean should take heed of the danger. As far as we can guess at this distance of time, what happened was as follows:—
Athenian Stranger. A God, who watched over Sparta, seeing into the future, gave you two families of kings instead of one; and thus brought you more within the limits of moderation. In the next place, some human wisdom mingled with divine power, observing that the constitution of your government was still feverish and excited, tempered your inborn strength and pride of birth with the moderation which comes of age, making the power of your twenty-eight elders equal with that of the kings in the most important matters. But your third savior, perceiving that your government was still swelling and foaming, and desirous to impose a curb upon it, instituted the Ephors, whose power he made to resemble that of magistrates elected by lot; and by this arrangement the kingly office, being compounded of the right elements and duly moderated, was preserved, and was the means of preserving all the rest. Since, if there had been only the original legislators, Temenus, Cresphontes, and their contemporaries, as far as they were concerned not even the portion of Aristodemus would have been preserved; for they had no proper experience in legislation, or they would surely not have imagined that oaths would moderate a youthful spirit invested with a power which might be converted into a tyranny. Now that God has instructed us what sort of government would have been or will be lasting, there is no wisdom, as I have already said, in judging after the event; there is no difficulty in learning from an example which has already occurred. But if any one could have foreseen all this at the time, and had been able to moderate the government of the three kingdoms and unite them into one, he might have saved all the excellent institutions which were then conceived; and no Persian or any other armament would have dared to attack us, or would have regarded Hellas as a power to be despised.
Athenian Stranger. There was small credit to us, Cleinias, in defeating them; and the discredit was, not that the conquerors did not win glorious victories both by land and sea, but what, in my opinion, brought discredit was, first of all, the circumstance that of the three cities one only fought on behalf of Hellas, and the two others were so utterly good for nothing that the one was waging a mighty war against Lacedaemon, and was thus preventing her from rendering assistance, while the city of Argos, which had the precedence at the time of the distribution, when asked to aid in repelling the barbarian, would not answer to the call, or give aid. Many things might be told about Hellas in connection with that war which are far from honorable; nor, indeed, can we rightly say that Hellas repelled the invader; for the truth is, that unless the Athenians and Lacedaemonians, acting in concert, had warded off the impending yoke, all the tribes of Hellas would have been fused in a chaos of Hellenes mingling with one another, of barbarians mingling with Hellenes, and Hellenes with barbarians; just as nations who are now subject to the Persian power, owing to unnatural separations and combinations of them, are dispersed and scattered, and live miserably. These, Cleinias and Megillus, are the reproaches which we have to make against statesmen and legislators, as they are called, past and present, if we would analyze the causes of their failure, and find out what else might have been done. We said, for instance, just now, that there ought to be no great and unmixed powers; and this was under the idea that a state ought to be free and wise and harmonious, and that a legislator ought to legislate with a view to this end. Nor is there any reason to be surprised at our continually proposing aims for the legislator which appear not to be always the same; but we should consider when we say that temperance is to be the aim, or wisdom is to be the aim, or friendship is to be the aim, that all these aims are really the same; and if so, a variety in the modes of expression ought not to disturb us.
Cleinias. Let us resume the argument in that spirit. And now, speaking of friendship and wisdom and freedom, I wish that you would tell me at what, in your opinion, the legislator should aim.
Athenian Stranger. Hear me, then: there are two mother forms of states from which the rest may be truly said to be derived; and one of them may be called monarchy and the other democracy: the Persians have the highest form of the one, and we of the other; almost all the rest, as I was saying, are variations of these. Now, if you are to have liberty and the combination of friendship with wisdom, you must have both these forms of government in a measure; the argument emphatically declares that no city can be well governed which is not made up of both.
Athenian Stranger. Neither the one, if it be exclusively and excessively attached to monarchy, nor the other, if it be similarly attached to freedom, observes moderation; but your states, the Laconian and Cretan, have more of it; and the same was the case with the Athenians and Persians of old time, but now they have less. Shall I tell you why?
Cleinias. By all means, if it will tend to elucidate our subject.
Athenian Stranger. Hear, then:—There was a time when the Persians had more of the state which is a mean between slavery and freedom. In the reign of Cyrus they were freemen and also lords of many others: the rulers gave a share of freedom to the subjects, and being treated as equals, the soldiers were on better terms with their generals, and showed themselves more ready in the hour of danger. And if there was any wise man among them, who was able to give good counsel, he imparted his wisdom to the public; for the king was not jealous, but allowed him full liberty of speech, and gave honor to those who could advise him in any matter. And the nation waxed in all respects, because there was freedom and friendship and communion of mind among them.
Cleinias. That certainly appears to have been the case.
Athenian Stranger. How, then, was this advantage lost under Cambyses, and again recovered under Darius? Shall I try to divine?
Cleinias. The enquiry, no doubt, has a bearing upon our subject.
Athenian Stranger. I imagine that Cyrus, though a great and patriotic general, had never given his mind to education, and never attended to the order of his household.
Cleinias. What makes you say so?
Athenian Stranger. I think that from his youth upwards he was a soldier, and entrusted the education of his children to the women; and they brought them up from their childhood as the favorites of fortune, who were blessed already, and needed no more blessings. They thought that they were happy enough, and that no one should be allowed to oppose them in any way, and they compelled every one to praise all that they said or did. This was how they brought them up.
Cleinias. A splendid education truly!
Athenian Stranger. Such an one as women were likely to give them, and especially princesses who had recently grown rich, and in the absence of the men, too, who were occupied in wars and dangers, and had no time to look after them.
Cleinias. What would you expect?
Athenian Stranger. Their father had possessions of cattle and sheep, and many herds of men and other animals, but he did not consider that those to whom he was about to make them over were not trained in his own calling, which was Persian; for the Persians are shepherds—sons of a rugged land, which is a stern mother, and well fitted to produce a sturdy race able to live in the open air and go without sleep, and also to fight, if fighting is required. He did not observe that his sons were trained differently; through the so-called blessing of being royal they were educated in the Median fashion by women and eunuchs, which led to their becoming such as people do become when they are brought up unreproved. And so, after the death of Cyrus, his sons, in the fullness of luxury and licence, took the kingdom, and first one slew the other because he could not endure a rival; and, afterwards, the slayer himself, mad with wine and brutality, lost his kingdom through the Medes and the Eunuch, as they called him, who despised the folly of Cambyses.
Cleinias. So runs the tale, and such probably were the facts.
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and the tradition says, that the empire came back to the Persians, through Darius and the seven chiefs.
Athenian Stranger. Let us note the rest of the story. Observe, that Darius was not the son of a king, and had not received a luxurious education. When he came to the throne, being one of the seven, he divided the country into seven portions, and of this arrangement there are some shadowy traces still remaining; he made laws upon the principle of introducing universal equality in the order of the state, and he embodied in his laws the settlement of the tribute which Cyrus promised,—thus creating a feeling of friendship and community among all the Persians, and attaching the people to him with money and gifts. Hence his armies cheerfully acquired for him countries as large as those which Cyrus had left behind him. Darius was succeeded by his son Xerxes; and he again was brought up in the royal and luxurious fashion. Might we not most justly say: "O Darius, how came you to bring up Xerxes in the same way in which Cyrus brought up Cambyses, and not to see his fatal mistake?" For Xerxes, being the creation of the same education, met with much the same fortune as Cambyses; and from that time until now there has never been a really great king among the Persians, although they are all called Great. And their degeneracy is not to be attributed to chance, as I maintain; the reason is rather the evil life which is generally led by the sons of very rich and royal persons; for never will boy or man, young or old, excel in virtue, who has been thus educated. And this, I say, is what the legislator has to consider, and what at the present moment has to be considered by us. Justly may you, O Lacedaemonians, be praised, in that you do not give special honor or a special education to wealth rather than to poverty, or to a royal rather than to a private station, where the divine and inspired lawgiver has not originally commanded them to be given. For no man ought to have pre-eminent honor in a state because he surpasses others in wealth, any more than because he is swift of foot or fair or strong, unless he have some virtue in him; nor even if he have virtue, unless he have this particular virtue of temperance.
Megillus. What do you mean, Stranger?
Athenian Stranger. I suppose that courage is a part of virtue?
Megillus. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. Then, now hear and judge for yourself:—Would you like to have for a fellow-lodger or neighbor a very courageous man, who had no control over himself?
Megillus. Heaven forbid!
Athenian Stranger. Or an artist, who was clever in his profession, but a rogue?
Megillus. Certainly not.
Athenian Stranger. And surely justice does not grow apart from temperance?
Athenian Stranger. Any more than our pattern wise man, whom we exhibited as having his pleasures and pains in accordance with and corresponding to true reason, can be intemperate?
Athenian Stranger. There is a further consideration relating to the due and undue award of honors in states.
Megillus. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. I should like to know whether temperance without the other virtues, existing alone in the soul of man, is rightly to be praised or blamed?
Megillus. I cannot tell.
Athenian Stranger. And that is the best answer; for whichever alternative you had chosen, I think that you would have gone wrong.
Megillus. I am fortunate.
Athenian Stranger. Very good; a quality, which is a mere appendage of things which can be praised or blamed, does not deserve an expression of opinion, but is best passed over in silence.
Megillus. You are speaking of temperance?
Athenian Stranger. Yes; but of the other virtues, that which having this appendage is also most beneficial, will be most deserving of honor, and next that which is beneficial in the next degree; and so each of them will be rightly honored according to a regular order.
Athenian Stranger. And ought not the legislator to determine these classes?
Megillus. Certainly he should.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose that we leave to him the arrangement of details. But the general division of laws according to their importance into a first and second and third class, we who are lovers of law may make ourselves.
Megillus. Very; good.
Athenian Stranger. We maintain, then, that a State which would be safe and happy, as far as the nature of man allows, must and ought to distribute honor and dishonor in the right way. And the right way is to place the goods of the soul first and highest in the scale, always assuming temperance to be the condition of them; and to assign the second place to the goods of the body; and the third place to money and property. And if any legislator or state departs from this rule by giving money the place of honor, or in any way preferring that which is really last, may we not say, that he or the state is doing an unholy and unpatriotic thing?
Megillus. Yes; let that be plainly declared.
Athenian Stranger. The consideration of the Persian governments led us thus far to enlarge. We remarked that the Persians grew worse and worse. And we affirm the reason of this to have been, that they too much diminished the freedom of the people, and introduced too much of despotism, and so destroyed friendship and community of feeling. And when there is an end of these, no longer do the governors govern on behalf of their subjects or of the people, but on behalf of themselves; and if they think that they can gain ever so small an advantage for themselves, they devastate cities, and send fire and desolation among friendly races. And as they hate ruthlessly and horribly, so are they hated; and when they want the people to fight for them, they find no community of feeling or willingness to risk their lives on their behalf; their untold myriads are useless to them on the field of battle, and they think that their salvation depends on the employment of mercenaries and strangers whom they hire, as if they were in want of more men. And they cannot help being stupid, since they proclaim by actions that the ordinary distinctions of right and wrong which are made in a state are a trifle, when compared with gold and silver.
Megillus. Quite true.
Athenian Stranger. And now enough of the Persians, and their present maladministration of their government, which is owing to the excess of slavery and despotism among them.
Athenian Stranger. Next, we must pass in review the government of Attica in like manner, and from this show that entire freedom and the absence of all superior authority is not by any means so good as government by others when properly limited, which was our ancient Athenian constitution at the time when the Persians made their attack on Hellas, or, speaking more correctly, on the whole continent of Europe. There were four classes, arranged according to a property census, and reverence was our queen and mistress, and made us willing to live in obedience to the laws which then prevailed. Also the vastness of the Persian armament, both by sea and on land, caused a helpless terror, which made us more and more the servants of our rulers and of the laws; and for all these reasons an exceeding harmony prevailed among us. About ten years before the naval engagement at Salamis, Datis came, leading a Persian host by command of Darius, which was expressly directed against the Athenians and Eretrians, having orders to carry them away captive; and these orders he was to execute under pain of death. Now Datis and his myriads soon became complete masters of Eretria, and he sent a fearful report to Athens that no Eretrian had escaped him; for the soldiers of Datis had joined hands and netted the whole of Eretria. And this report, whether well or ill founded, was terrible to all the Hellenes, and above all to the Athenians, and they dispatched embassies in all directions, but no one was willing to come to their relief, with the exception of the Lacedaemonians; and they, either because they were detained by the Messenian war, which was then going on, or for some other reason of which we are not told, came a day too late for the battle of Marathon. After a while, the news arrived of mighty preparations being made, and innumerable threats came from the king. Then, as time went on, a rumor reached us that Darius had died, and that his son, who was young and hot-headed, had come to the throne and was persisting in his design. The Athenians were under the impression that the whole expedition was directed against them, in consequence of the battle of Marathon; and hearing of the bridge over the Hellespont, and the canal of Athos, and the host of ships, considering that there was no salvation for them either by land or by sea, for there was no one to help them, and remembering that in the first expedition, when the Persians destroyed Eretria, no one came to their help, or would risk the danger of an alliance with them, they thought that this would happen again, at least on land; nor, when they looked to the sea, could they descry any hope of salvation; for they were attacked by a thousand vessels and more. One chance of safety remained, slight indeed and desperate, but their only one. They saw that on the former occasion they had gained a seemingly impossible victory, and borne up by this hope, they found that their only refuge was in themselves and in the Gods. All these things created in them the spirit of friendship; there was the fear of the moment, and there was that higher fear, which they had acquired by obedience to their ancient laws, and which I have several times in the preceding discourse called reverence, of which the good man ought to be a willing servant, and of which the coward is independent and fearless. If this fear had not possessed them, they would never have met the enemy, or defended their temples and sepulchres and their country, and everything that was near and dear to them, as they did; but little by little they would have been all scattered and dispersed.
Megillus. Your words, Athenian, are quite true, and worthy of yourself and of your country.
Athenian Stranger. They are true, Megillus; and to you, who have inherited the virtues of your ancestors, I may properly speak of the actions of that day. And I would wish you and Cleinias to consider whether my words have not also a bearing on legislation; for I am not discoursing only for the pleasure of talking, but for the argument's sake. Please to remark that the experience both of ourselves and the Persians was, in a certain sense, the same; for as they led their people into utter servitude, so we too led ours into all freedom. And now, how shall we proceed? for I would like you to observe that our previous arguments have a good deal to say for themselves.
Megillus. True; but I wish that you would give us a fuller explanation.
Athenian Stranger. I will. Under the ancient laws, my friends, the people was not as now the master, but rather the willing servant of the laws.
Megillus. What laws do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. In the first place, let us speak of the laws about music,—that is to say, such music as then existed,—in order that we may trace the growth of the excess of freedom from the beginning. Now music was early divided among us into certain kinds and manners. One sort consisted of prayers to the Gods, which were called hymns; and there was another and opposite sort called lamentations, and another termed paeans, and another, celebrating the birth of Dionysus, called, I believe, "dithyrambs." And they used the actual word "laws," or nomoi, for another kind of song; and to this they added the term "citharoedic." All these and others were duly distinguished, nor were the performers allowed to confuse one style of music with another. And the authority which determined and gave judgment, and punished the disobedient, was not expressed in a hiss, nor in the most unmusical shouts of the multitude, as in our days, nor in applause and clapping of hands. But the directors of public instruction insisted that the spectators should listen in silence to the end; and boys and their tutors, and the multitude in general, were kept quiet by a hint from a stick. Such was the good order which the multitude were willing to observe; they would never have dared to give judgment by noisy cries. And then, as time went on, the poets themselves introduced the reign of vulgar and lawless innovation. They were men of genius, but they had no perception of what is just and lawful in music; raging like Bacchanals and possessed with inordinate delights—mingling lamentations with hymns, and paeans with dithyrambs; imitating the sounds of the flute on the lyre, and making one general confusion; ignorantly affirming that music has no truth, and, whether good or bad, can only be judged of rightly by the pleasure of the hearer. And by composing such licentious works, and adding to them words as licentious, they have inspired the multitude with lawlessness and boldness, and made them fancy that they can judge for themselves about melody and song. And in this way the theatres from being mute have become vocal, as though they had understanding of good and bad in music and poetry; and instead of an aristocracy, an evil sort of theatrocracy has grown up. For if the democracy which judged had only consisted of educated persons, no fatal harm would have been done; but in music there first arose the universal conceit of omniscience and general lawlessness;—freedom came following afterwards, and men, fancying that they knew what they did not know, had no longer any fear, and the absence of fear begets shamelessness. For what is this shamelessness, which is so evil a thing, but the insolent refusal to regard the opinion of the better by reason of an over-daring sort of liberty?
Megillus. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Consequent upon this freedom comes the other freedom, of disobedience to rulers; and then the attempt to escape the control and exhortation of father, mother, elders, and when near the end, the control of the laws also; and at the very end there is the contempt of oaths and pledges, and no regard at all for the Gods,—herein they exhibit and imitate the old so-called Titanic nature, and come to the same point as the Titans when they rebelled against God, leading a life of endless evils. But why have I said all this? I ask, because the argument ought to be pulled up from time to time, and not be allowed to run away, but held with bit and bridle, and then we shall not, as the proverb says, fall off our ass. Let us then once more ask the question, To what end has all this been said?
Megillus. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. This, then, has been said for the sake—
Megillus. Of what?
Athenian Stranger. We were maintaining that the lawgiver ought to have three things in view: first, that the city for which he legislates should be free; and secondly, be at unity with herself; and thirdly, should have understanding;—these were our principles, were they not?
Athenian Stranger. With a view to this we selected two kinds of government, the despotic, and the other the most free; and now we are considering which of them is the right form: we took a mean in both cases, of despotism in the one, and of liberty in the other, and we saw that in a mean they attained their perfection; but that when they were carried to the extreme of either, slavery or licence, neither party were the gainers.
Megillus. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And that was our reason for considering the settlement of the Dorian army, and of the city built by Dardanus at the foot of the mountains, and the removal of cities to the seashore, and of our mention of the first men, who were the survivors of the deluge. And all that was previously said about music and drinking, and what preceded, was said with the view of seeing how a state might be best administered, and how an individual might best order his own life. And now, Megillus and Cleinias, how can we put to the proof the value of our words?
Cleinias. Stranger, I think that I see how a proof of their value may be obtained. This discussion of ours appears to me to have been singularly fortunate, and just what I at this moment want; most auspiciously have you and my friend Megillus come in my way. For I will tell you what has happened to me; and I regard the coincidence as a sort of omen. The greater part of Crete is going to send out a colony, and they have entrusted the management of the affair to the Cnosians; and the Cnosian government to me and nine others. And they desire us to give them any laws which we please, whether taken from the Cretan model or from any other; and they do not mind about their being foreign if they are better. Grant me then this favor, which will also be a gain to yourselves:—Let us make a selection from what has been said, and then let us imagine a State of which we will suppose ourselves to be the original founders. Thus we shall proceed with our enquiry, and, at the same time, I may have the use of the framework which you are constructing, for the city which is in contemplation.
Athenian Stranger. Good news, Cleinias; if Megillus has no objection, you may be sure that I will do all in my power to please you.
Cleinias. Thank you.
Megillus. And so will I.
Cleinias. Excellent; and now let us begin to frame the State.
Athenian Stranger. And now, what will this city be? I do not mean to ask what is or will hereafter be the name of the place; that may be determined by the accident of locality or of the original settlement,—a river or fountain, or some local deity may give the sanction of a name to the newly-founded city; but I do want to know what the situation is, whether maritime or inland.
Cleinias. I should imagine, Stranger, that the city of which we are speaking is about eighty stadia distant from the sea.
Athenian Stranger. And are there harbors on the seaboard?
Cleinias. Excellent harbors, Stranger; there could not be better.
Athenian Stranger. Alas! what a prospect! And is the surrounding country productive, or in need of importations?
Cleinias. Hardly in need of anything.
Athenian Stranger. And is there any neighboring State?
Cleinias. None whatever, and that is the reason for selecting the place; in days of old, there was a migration of the inhabitants, and the region has been deserted from time immemorial.
Athenian Stranger. And has the place a fair proportion of hill, and plain, and wood?
Cleinias. Like the rest of Crete in that.
Athenian Stranger. You mean to say that there is more rock than plain?
Athenian Stranger. Then there is some hope that your citizens may be virtuous: had you been on the sea, and well provided with harbors, and an importing rather than a producing country, some mighty savior would have been needed, and lawgivers more than mortal, if you were ever to have a chance of preserving your state from degeneracy and discordance of manners. But there is comfort in the eighty stadia; although the sea is too near, especially if, as you say, the harbors are so good. Still we may be content. The sea is pleasant enough as a daily companion, but has indeed also a bitter and brackish quality; filling the streets with merchants and shopkeepers, and begetting in the souls of men uncertain and unfaithful ways—making the state unfriendly and unfaithful both to her own citizens, and also to other nations. There is a consolation, therefore, in the country producing all things at home; and yet, owing to the ruggedness of the soil, not providing anything in great abundance. Had there been abundance, there might have been a great export trade, and a great return of gold and silver; which, as we may safely affirm, has the most fatal results on a State whose aim is the attainment of just and noble sentiments: this was said by us, if you remember, in the previous discussion.
Cleinias. I remember, and am of opinion that we both were and are in the right.
Athenian Stranger. Well, but let me ask, how is the country supplied with timber for ship-building?
Cleinias. There is no fir of any consequence, nor pine, and not much cypress; and you will find very little stone-pine or plane-wood, which shipwrights always require for the interior of ships.
Athenian Stranger. These are also natural advantages.
Cleinias. Why so?
Athenian Stranger. Because no city ought to be easily able to imitate its enemies in what is mischievous.
Cleinias. How does that bear upon any of the matters of which we have been speaking?
Athenian Stranger. Remember, my good friend, what I said at first about the Cretan laws, that they look to one thing only, and this, as you both agreed, was war; and I replied that such laws, in so far as they tended to promote virtue, were good; but in that they regarded a part only, and not the whole of virtue, I disapproved of them. And now I hope that you in your turn will follow and watch me if I legislate with a view to anything but virtue, or with a view to a part of virtue only. For I consider that the true lawgiver, like an archer, aims only at that on which some eternal beauty is always attending, and dismisses everything else, whether wealth or any other benefit, when separated from virtue. I was saying that the imitation of enemies was a bad thing; and I was thinking of a case in which a maritime people are harassed by enemies, as the Athenians were by Minos (I do not speak from any desire to recall past grievances); but he, as we know, was a great naval potentate, who compelled the inhabitants of Attica to pay him a cruel tribute; and in those days they had no ships of war as they now have, nor was the country filled with ship-timber, and therefore they could not readily build them. Hence they could not learn how to imitate their enemy at sea, and in this way, becoming sailors themselves, directly repel their enemies. Better for them to have lost many times over the seven youths, than that heavy-armed and stationary troops should have been turned into sailors, and accustomed to be often leaping on shore, and again to come running back to their ships; or should have fancied that there was no disgrace in not awaiting the attack of an enemy and dying boldly; and that there were good reasons, and plenty of them, for a man throwing away his arms, and betaking himself to flight,—which is not dishonorable, as people say, at certain times. This is the language of naval warfare, and is anything but worthy of extraordinary praise. For we should not teach bad habits, least of all to the best part of the citizens. You may learn the evil of such a practice from Homer, by whom Odysseus is introduced, rebuking Agamemnon because he desires to draw down the ships to the sea at a time when the Achaeans are hard pressed by the Trojans,—he gets angry with him, and says:—
'Who, at a time when the battle is in full cry, biddest to drag the well-benched ships into the sea, that the prayers of the Trojans may be accomplished yet more, and high ruin falls upon us. For the Achaeans will not maintain the battle, when the ships are drawn into the sea, but they will look behind and will cease from strife; in that the counsel which you give will prove injurious.'
You see that he quite knew triremes on the sea, in the neighborhood of fighting men, to be an evil;—lions might be trained in that way to fly from a herd of deer. Moreover, naval powers which owe their safety to ships, do not give honor to that sort of warlike excellence which is most deserving of it. For he who owes his safety to the pilot and the captain, and the oarsman, and all sorts of rather inferior persons, cannot rightly give honor to whom honor is due. But how can a state be in a right condition which cannot justly award honor?
Cleinias. It is hardly possible, I admit; and yet, Stranger, we Cretans are in the habit of saying that the battle of Salamis was the salvation of Hellas.
Athenian Stranger. Why, yes; and that is an opinion which is widely spread both among Hellenes and barbarians. But Megillus and I say rather, that the battle of Marathon was the beginning, and the battle of Plataea the completion, of the great deliverance, and that these battles by land made the Hellenes better; whereas the sea-fights of Salamis and Artemisium—for I may as well put them both together—made them no better, if I may say so without offense about the battles which helped to save us. And in estimating the goodness of a state, we regard both the situation of the country and the order of the laws, considering that the mere preservation and continuance of life is not the most honorable thing for men, as the vulgar think, but the continuance of the best life, while we live; and that again, if I am jot mistaken, is remark which has been made already.
Athenian Stranger. Then we have only to ask whether we are taking the course which we acknowledge to be the best for the settlement and legislation of states.
Cleinias. The best by far.
Athenian Stranger. And now let me proceed to another question: Who are to be the colonists? May any one come out of all Crete; and is the idea that the population in the several states is too numerous for the means of subsistence? For I suppose that you are not going to send out a general invitation to any Hellene who likes to come. And yet I observe that to your country settlers have come from Argos and Aegina and other parts of Hellas. Tell me, then, whence do you draw your recruits in the present enterprise?
Cleinias. They will come from all Crete; and of other Hellenes, Peloponnesians will be most acceptable. For, as you truly observe, there are Cretans of Argive descent; and the race of Cretans which has the highest character at the present day is the Gortynian, and this has come from Gortys in the Peloponnesus.
Athenian Stranger. Cities find colonization in some respects easier if the colonists are one race, which like a swarm of bees is sent out from a single country, either when friends leave friends, owing to some pressure of population or other similar necessity, or when a portion of a state is driven by factions to emigrate. And there have been whole cities which have taken flight when utterly conquered by a superior power in war. This, however, which is in one way an advantage to the colonist or legislator, in another point of view creates a difficulty. There is an element of friendship in the community of race, and language, and laws, and in common temples and rites of worship; but colonies which are of this homogeneous sort are apt to kick against any laws or any form of constitution differing from that which they had at home; and although the badness of their own laws may have been the cause of the factions which prevailed among them, yet from the force of habit they would fain preserve the very customs which were their ruin, and the leader of the colony, who is their legislator, finds them troublesome and rebellious. On the other hand, the conflux of several populations might be more disposed to listen to new laws; but then, to make them combine and pull together, as they say of horses, is a most difficult task, and the work of years. And yet there is nothing which tends more to the improvement of mankind than legislation and colonization.
Cleinias. No doubt; but I should like to know why you say so.
Athenian Stranger. My good friend, I am afraid that the course of my speculations is leading me to say something depreciatory of legislators; but if the word be to the purpose, there can be no harm. And yet, why am I disquieted, for I believe that the same principle applies equally to all human things?
Cleinias. To what are you referring?
Athenian Stranger. I was going to say that man never legislates, but accidents of all sorts, which legislate for us in all sorts of ways. The violence of war and the hard necessity of poverty are constantly overturning governments and changing laws. And the power of disease has often caused innovations in the state, when there have been pestilences, or when there has been a succession of bad seasons continuing during many years. Any one who sees all this, naturally rushes to the conclusion of which I was speaking, that no mortal legislates in anything, but that in human affairs chance is almost everything. And this may be said of the arts of the sailor, and the pilot, and the physician, and the general, and may seem to be well said; and yet there is another thing which may be said with equal truth of all of them.
Cleinias. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. That God governs all things, and that chance and opportunity co-operate with him in the government of human affairs. There is, however, a third and less extreme view, that art should be there also; for I should say that in a storm there must surely be a great advantage in having the aid of the pilot's art. You would agree?
Athenian Stranger. And does not a like principle apply to legislation as well as to other things: even supposing all the conditions to be favorable which are needed for the happiness of the state, yet the true legislator must from time to time appear on the scene?
Cleinias. Most true.
Athenian Stranger. In each case the artist would be able to pray rightly for certain conditions, and if these were granted by fortune, he would then only require to exercise his art?
Athenian Stranger. And all the other artists just now mentioned, if they were bidden to offer up each their special prayer, would do so?
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. And the legislator would do likewise?
Cleinias. I believe that he would.
Athenian Stranger. "Come, legislator," we will say to him; "what are the conditions which you require in a state before you can organize it?" How ought he to answer this question? Shall I give his answer?
Athenian Stranger. He will say—"Give me a state which is governed by a tyrant, and let the tyrant be young and have a good memory; let him be quick at learning, and of a courageous and noble nature; let him have that quality which, as I said before, is the inseparable companion of all the other parts of virtue, if there is to be any good in them."
Cleinias. I suppose, Megillus, that this companion virtue of which the Stranger speaks, must be temperance?
Athenian Stranger. Yes, Cleinias, temperance in the vulgar sense; not that which in the forced and exaggerated language of some philosophers is called prudence, but that which is the natural gift of children and animals, of whom some live continently and others incontinently, but when isolated, was, as we said, hardly worth reckoning in the catalogue of goods. I think that you must understand my meaning.
Athenian Stranger. Then our tyrant must have this as well as the other qualities, if the state is to acquire in the best manner and in the shortest time the form of government which is most conducive to happiness; for there neither is nor ever will be a better or speedier way of establishing a polity than by a tyranny.
Cleinias. By what possible arguments, Stranger, can any man persuade himself of such a monstrous doctrine?
Athenian Stranger. There is surely no difficulty in seeing, Cleinias, what is in accordance with the order of nature?
Cleinias. You would assume, as you say, a tyrant who was young, temperate, quick at learning, having a good memory, courageous, of a noble nature?
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and you must add fortunate; and his good fortune must be that he is the contemporary of a great legislator, and that some happy chance brings them together. When this has been accomplished, God has done all that He ever does for a state which he desires to be eminently prosperous; He has done second best for a state in which there are two such rulers, and third best for a state in which there are three. The difficulty increases with the increase, and diminishes with the diminution of the number.
Cleinias. You mean to say, I suppose, that the best government is produced from a tyranny, and originates in a good lawgiver and an orderly tyrant, and that the change from such a tyranny into a perfect form of government takes place most easily; less easily when from an oligarchy; and, in the third degree, from a democracy: is not that your meaning?
Athenian Stranger. Not so; I mean rather to say that the change is best made out of a tyranny; and secondly, out of a monarchy; and thirdly, out of some sort of democracy: fourth, in the capacity for improvement, comes oligarchy, which has the greatest difficulty in admitting of such a change, because the government is in the hands of a number of potentates. I am supposing that the legislator is by nature of the true sort, and that his strength is united with that of the chief men of the state; and when the ruling element is numerically small, and at the same time very strong, as in a tyranny, there the change is likely to be easiest and most rapid.
Cleinias. How? I do not understand.
Athenian Stranger. And yet I have repeated what I am saying a good many times; but I suppose that you have never seen a city which is under a tyranny?
Cleinias. No, and I cannot say that I have any great desire to see one.
Athenian Stranger. And yet, where there is a tyranny, you might certainly see that of which I am now speaking.
Cleinias. What do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. I mean that you might see how, without trouble and in no very long period of time, the tyrant, if he wishes, can change the manners of a state: he has only to go in the direction of virtue or of vice, whichever he prefers, he himself indicating by his example the lines of conduct, praising and rewarding some actions and reproving others, and degrading those who disobey.
Cleinias. But how can we imagine that the citizens in general will at once follow the example set to them; and how can he have this power both of persuading and of compelling them?
Athenian Stranger. Let no one, my friends, persuade us that there is any quicker and easier way in which states change their laws than when the rulers lead: such changes never have, nor ever will, come to pass in any other way. The real impossibility or difficulty is of another sort, and is rarely surmounted in the course of ages; but when once it is surmounted, ten thousand or rather all blessings follow.
Cleinias. Of what are you speaking?
Athenian Stranger. The difficulty is to find the divine love of temperate and just institutions existing in any powerful forms of government, whether in a monarchy or oligarchy of wealth or of birth. You might as well hope to reproduce the character of Nestor, who is said to have excelled all men in the power of speech, and yet more in his temperance. This, however, according to the tradition, was in the times of Troy; in our own days there is nothing of the sort; but if such an one either has or ever shall come into being, or is now among us, blessed is he and blessed are they who hear the wise words that flow from his lips. And this may be said of power in general: When the supreme power in man coincides with the greatest wisdom and temperance, then the best laws and the best constitution come into being; but in no other way. And let what I have been saying be regarded as a kind of sacred legend or oracle, and let this be our proof that, in one point of view, there may be a difficulty for a city to have good laws, but that there is another point of view in which nothing can be easier or sooner effected, granting our supposition.
Cleinias. How do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. Let us try to amuse ourselves, old boys as we are, by molding in words the laws which are suitable to your state.
Cleinias. Let us proceed without delay.
Athenian Stranger. Then let us invoke God at the settlement of our state; may He hear and be propitious to us, and come and set in order the State and the laws!
Cleinias. May He come!
Athenian Stranger. But what form of polity are we going to give the city?
Cleinias. Tell us what you mean a little more clearly. Do you mean some form of democracy, or oligarchy, or aristocracy, or monarchy? For we cannot suppose that you would include tyranny.
Athenian Stranger. Which of you will first tell me to which of these classes his own government is to be referred?
Megillus. Ought I to answer first, since I am the elder?
Cleinias. Perhaps you should.
Megillus. And yet, Stranger, I perceive that I cannot say, without more thought, what I should call the government of Lacedaemon, for it seems to me to be like a tyranny,—the power of our Ephors is marvellously tyrannical; and sometimes it appears to me to be of all cities the most democratical; and who can reasonably deny that it is an aristocracy? We have also a monarchy which is held for life, and is said by all mankind, and not by ourselves only, to be the most ancient of all monarchies; and, therefore, when asked on a sudden, I cannot precisely say which form of government the Spartan is.
Cleinias. I am in the same difficulty, Megillus; for I do not feel confident that the polity of Cnosus is any of these.
Athenian Stranger. The reason is, my excellent friends, that you really have polities, but the states of which we were just now speaking are merely aggregations of men dwelling in cities who are the subjects and servants of a part of their own state, and each of them is named after the dominant power; they are not polities at all. But if states are to be named after their rulers, the true state ought to be called by the name of the God who rules over wise men.
Cleinias. And who is this God?
Athenian Stranger. May I still make use of fable to some extent, in the hope that I may be better able to answer your question: shall I?
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. In the primeval world, and a long while before the cities came into being whose settlements we have described, there is said to have been in the time of Cronos a blessed rule and life, of which the best-ordered of existing states is a copy.
Cleinias. It will be very necessary to hear about that.
Athenian Stranger. I quite agree with you; and therefore I have introduced the subject.
Cleinias. Most appropriately; and since the tale is to the point, you will do well in giving us the whole story.
Athenian Stranger. I will do as you suggest. There is a tradition of the happy life of mankind in days when all things were spontaneous and abundant. And of this the reason is said to have been as follows:—Cronos knew what we ourselves were declaring, that no human nature invested with supreme power is able to order human affairs and not overflow with insolence and wrong. Which reflection led him to appoint not men but demigods, who are of a higher and more divine race, to be the kings and rulers of our cities; he did as we do with flocks of sheep and other tame animals. For we do not appoint oxen to be the lords of oxen, or goats of goats; but we ourselves are a superior race, and rule over them. In like manner God, in his love of mankind, placed over us the demons, who are a superior race, and they with great ease and pleasure to themselves, and no less to us, taking care of us and giving us peace and reverence and order and justice never failing, made the tribes of men happy and united. And this tradition, which is true, declares that cities of which some mortal man and not God is the ruler, have no escape from evils and toils. Still we must do all that we can to imitate the life which is said to have existed in the days of Cronos, and, as far as the principle of immortality dwells in us, to that we must hearken, both in private and public life, and regulate our cities and houses according to law, meaning by the very term "law," the distribution of mind. But if either a single person or an oligarchy or a democracy has a soul eager after pleasures and desires—wanting to be filled with them, yet retaining none of them, and perpetually afflicted with an endless and insatiable disorder; and this evil spirit, having first trampled the laws under foot, becomes the master either of a state or of an individual,—then, as I was saying, salvation is hopeless. And now, Cleinias, we have to consider whether you will or will not accept this tale of mine.
Cleinias. Certainly we will.
Athenian Stranger. You are aware—are you not?—that there are of said to be as many forms of laws as there are of governments, and of the latter we have already mentioned all those which are commonly recognized. Now you must regard this as a matter of first-rate importance. For what is to be the standard of just and unjust, is once more the point at issue. Men say that the law ought not to regard either military virtue, or virtue in general, but only the interests and power and preservation of the established form of government; this is thought by them to be the best way of expressing the natural definition of justice.
Athenian Stranger. Justice is said by them to be the interest of the stronger.
Cleinias. Speak plainer.
Athenian Stranger. I will:—"Surely," they say, "the governing power makes whatever laws have authority in any state?"
Athenian Stranger. "Well," they would add, "and do you suppose that tyranny or democracy, or any other conquering power, does not make the continuance of the power which is possessed by them the first or principal object of their laws?"
Cleinias. How can they have any other?
Athenian Stranger. "And whoever transgresses these laws is punished as an evil-doer by the legislator, who calls the laws just?"
Athenian Stranger. "This, then, is always the mode and fashion in which justice exists."
Cleinias. Certainly, if they are correct in their view.
Athenian Stranger. Why, yes, this is one of those false principles of government to which we were referring.
Cleinias. Which do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. Those which we were examining when we spoke of who ought to govern whom. Did we not arrive at the conclusion that parents ought to govern their children, and the elder the younger, and the noble the ignoble? And there were many other principles, if you remember, and they were not always consistent. One principle was this very principle of might, and we said that Pindar considered violence natural and justified it.
Cleinias. Yes; I remember.
Athenian Stranger. Consider, then, to whom our state is to be entrusted. For there is a thing which has occurred times without number in states—
Cleinias. What thing?
Athenian Stranger. That when there has been a contest for power, those who gain the upper hand so entirely monopolize the government, as to refuse all share to the defeated party and their descendants—they live watching one another, the ruling class being in perpetual fear that some one who has a recollection of former wrongs will come into power and rise up against them. Now, according to our view, such governments are not polities at all, nor are laws right which are passed for the good of particular classes and not for the good of the whole state. States which have such laws are not polities but parties, and their notions of justice are simply unmeaning. I say this, because I am going to assert that we must not entrust the government in your state to any one because he is rich, or because he possesses any other advantage, such as strength, or stature, or again birth: but he who is most obedient to the laws of the state, he shall win the palm; and to him who is victorious in the first degree shall be given the highest office and chief ministry of the gods; and the second to him who bears the second palm; and on a similar principle shall all the other be assigned to those who come next in order. And when I call the rulers servants or ministers of the law, I give them this name not for the sake of novelty, but because I certainly believe that upon such service or ministry depends the well- or ill-being of the state. For that state in which the law is subject and has no authority, I perceive to be on the highway to ruin; but I see that the state in which the law is above the rulers, and the rulers are the inferiors of the law, has salvation, and every blessing which the Gods can confer.
Cleinias. Truly, Stranger, you see with the keen vision of age.
Athenian Stranger. Why, yes; every man when he is young has that sort of vision dullest, and when he is old keenest.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And now, what is to be the next step? May we not suppose the colonists to have arrived, and proceed to make our speech to them?
Athenian Stranger. "Friends," we say to them,—"God, as the old tradition declares, holding in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is, travels according to his nature in a straight line towards the accomplishment of his end. Justice always accompanies him, and is the punisher of those who fall short of the divine law. To justice, he who would be happy holds fast, and follows in her company with all humility and order; but he who is lifted up with pride, or elated by wealth or rank, or beauty, who is young and foolish, and has a soul hot with insolence, and thinks that he has no need of any guide or ruler, but is able himself to be the guide of others, he, I say, is left deserted of God; and being thus deserted, he takes to him others who are like himself, and dances about, throwing all things into confusion, and many think that he is a great man, but in a short time he pays a penalty which justice cannot but approve, and is utterly destroyed, and his family and city with him. Wherefore, seeing that human things are thus ordered, what should a wise man do or think, or not do or think?
Cleinias. Every man ought to make up his mind that he will be one of the followers of God; there can be no doubt of that.
Athenian Stranger. Then what life is agreeable to God, and becoming in his followers? One only, expressed once for all in the old saying that "like agrees with like, with measure measure," but things which have no measure agree neither with themselves nor with the things which have. Now God ought to be to us the measure of all things, and not man, as men commonly say (Protagoras): the words are far more true of him. And he who would be dear to God must, as far as is possible, be like him and such as he is. Wherefore the temperate man is the friend of God, for he is like him; and the intemperate man is unlike him, and different from him, and unjust. And the same applies to other things; and this is the conclusion, which is also the noblest and truest of all sayings,—that for the good man to offer sacrifice to the Gods, and hold converse with them by means of prayers and offerings and every kind of service, is the noblest and best of all things, and also the most conducive to a happy life, and very fit and meet. But with the bad man, the opposite of this is true: for the bad man has an impure soul, whereas the good is pure; and from one who is polluted, neither a good man nor God can without impropriety receive gifts. Wherefore the unholy do only waste their much service upon the Gods, but when offered by any holy man, such service is most acceptable to them. This is the mark at which we ought to aim. But what weapons shall we use, and how shall we direct them? In the first place, we affirm that next after the Olympian Gods and the Gods of the State, honor should be given to the Gods below; they should receive everything in even numbers, and of the second choice, and ill omen, while the odd numbers, and the first choice, and the things of lucky omen, are given to the Gods above, by him who would rightly hit the mark of piety. Next to these Gods, a wise man will do service to the demons or spirits, and then to the heroes, and after them will follow the private and ancestral Gods, who are worshipped as the law prescribes in the places which are sacred to them. Next comes the honor of living parents, to whom, as is meet, we have to pay the first and greatest and oldest of all debts, considering that all which a man has belongs to those who gave him birth and brought him up, and that he must do all that he can to minister to them, first, in his property, secondly, in his person, and thirdly, in his soul, in return for the endless care and travail which they bestowed upon him of old, in the days of his infancy, and which he is now to pay back to them when they are old and in the extremity of their need. And all his life long he ought never to utter, or to have uttered, an unbecoming word to them; for of light and fleeting words the penalty is most severe; Nemesis, the messenger of justice, is appointed to watch over all such matters. When they are angry and want to satisfy their feelings in word or deed, he should give way to them; for a father who thinks that he has been wronged by his son may be reasonably expected to be very angry. At their death, the most moderate funeral is best, neither exceeding the customary expense, nor yet falling short of the honor which has been usually shown by the former generation to their parents. And let a man not forget to pay the yearly tribute of respect to the dead, honoring them chiefly by omitting nothing that conduces to a perpetual remembrance of them, and giving a reasonable portion of his fortune to the dead. Doing this, and living after this manner, we shall receive our reward from the Gods and those who are above us [i.e., the demons]; and we shall spend our days for the most part in good hope. And how a man ought to order what relates to his descendants and his kindred and friends and fellow-citizens, and the rites of hospitality taught by Heaven, and the intercourse which arises out of all these duties, with a view to the embellishment and orderly regulation of his own life—these things, I say, the laws, as we proceed with them, will accomplish, partly persuading, and partly when natures do not yield to the persuasion of custom, chastising them by might and right, and will thus render our state, if the Gods co-operate with us, prosperous and happy. But of what has to be said, and must be said by the legislator who is of my way of thinking, and yet, if said in the form of law, would be out of place—of this I think that he may give a sample for the instruction of himself and of those for whom he is legislating; and then when, as far as he is able, he has gone through all the preliminaries, he may proceed to the work of legislation. Now, what will be the form of such prefaces? There may be a difficulty in including or describing them all under a single form, but I think that we may get some notion of them if we can guarantee one thing.
Cleinias. What is that?
Athenian Stranger. I should wish the citizens to be as readily persuaded to virtue as possible; this will surely be the aim of the legislator in all his laws.
Athenian Stranger. The proposal appears to me to be of some value; and I think that a person will listen with more gentleness and good-will to the precepts addressed to him by the legislator, when his soul is not altogether unprepared to receive them. Even a little done in the way of conciliation gains his ear, and is always worth having. For there is no great inclination or readiness on the part of mankind to be made as good, or as quickly good, as possible. The case of the many proves the wisdom of Hesiod, who says that the road to wickedness is smooth and can be travelled without perspiring, because it is so very short:—
'But before virtue the immortal Gods have placed the sweat of labor, and long and steep is the way thither, and rugged at first; but when you have reached the top, although difficult before, it is then easy.'
Cleinias. Yes; and he certainly speaks well.
Athenian Stranger. Very true: and now let me tell you the effect which the preceding discourse has had upon me.
Athenian Stranger. Suppose that we have a little conversation with the legislator, and say to him—"O, legislator, speak; if you know what we ought to say and do, you can surely tell."
Cleinias. Of course he can.
Athenian Stranger. "Did we not hear you just now saying, that the legislator ought not to allow the poets to do what they liked? For that they would not know in which of their words they went against the laws, to the hurt of the state."
Cleinias. That is true.
Athenian Stranger. May we not fairly make answer to him on behalf of the poets?
Cleinias. What answer shall we make to him?
Athenian Stranger. That the poet, according to the tradition which has ever prevailed among us, and is accepted of all men, when he sits down on the tripod of the muse, is not in his right mind; like a fountain, he allows to flow out freely whatever comes in, and his art being imitative, he is often compelled to represent men of opposite dispositions, and thus to contradict himself; neither can he tell whether there is more truth in one thing that he has said than in another. But this is not the case in a law; the legislator must give not two rules about the same thing, but one only. Take an example from what you have just been saying. Of three kinds of funerals, there is one which is too extravagant, another is too niggardly, the third is a mean; and you choose and approve and order the last without qualification. But if I had an extremely rich wife, and she bade me bury her and describe her burial in a poem, I should praise the extravagant sort; and a poor miserly man, who had not much money to spend, would approve of the niggardly; and the man of moderate means, who was himself moderate, would praise a moderate funeral. Now you in the capacity of legislator must not barely say "a moderate funeral," but you must define what moderation is, and how much; unless you are definite, you must not suppose that you are speaking a language that can become law.
Cleinias. Certainly not.
Athenian Stranger. And is our legislator to have no preface to his laws, but to say at once Do this, avoid that—and then holding the penalty in terrorem, to go on to another law; offering never a word of advice or exhortation to those for whom he is legislating, after the manner of some doctors? For of doctors, as I may remind you, some have a gentler, others a ruder method of cure; and as children ask the doctor to be gentle with them, so we will ask the legislator to cure our disorders with the gentlest remedies. What I mean to say is, that besides doctors there are doctors' servants, who are also styled doctors.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And whether they are slaves or freemen makes no difference; they acquire their knowledge of medicine by obeying and observing their masters; empirically and not according to the natural way of learning, as the manner of freemen is, who have learned scientifically themselves the art which they impart scientifically to their pupils. You are aware that there are these two classes of doctors?
Cleinias. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. And did you ever observe that there are two classes of patients in states, slaves and freemen; and the slave doctors run about and cure the slaves, or wait for them in the dispensaries—practitioners of this sort never talk to their patients individually, or let them talk about their own individual complaints? The slave-doctor prescribes what mere experience suggests, as if he had exact knowledge; and when he has given his orders, like a tyrant, he rushes off with equal assurance to some other servant who is ill; and so he relieves the master of the house of the care of his invalid slaves. But the other doctor, who is a freeman, attends and practices upon freemen; and he carries his enquiries far back, and goes into the nature of the disorder; he enters into discourse with the patient and with his friends, and is at once getting information from the sick man, and also instructing him as far as he is able, and he will not prescribe for him until he has first convinced him; at last, when he has brought the patient more and more under his persuasive influences and set him on the road to health, he attempts to effect a cure. Now which is the better way of proceeding in a physician and in a trainer? Is he the better who accomplishes his ends in a double way, or he who works in one way, and that the ruder and inferior?
Cleinias. I should say, Stranger, that the double way is far better.
Athenian Stranger. Should you like to see an example of the double and single method in legislation?
Cleinias. Certainly I should.
Athenian Stranger. What will be our first law? Will not the legislator, observing the order of nature, begin by making regulations for states about births?
Cleinias. He will.
Athenian Stranger. In all states the birth of children goes back to the connection of marriage?
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. And, according to the true order, the laws relating to marriage should be those which are first determined in every state?
Cleinias. Quite so.
Athenian Stranger. Then let me first give the law of marriage in a simple form; it may run as follows:—A man shall marry between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, or, if he does not, he shall pay such and such a fine, or shall suffer the loss of such and such privileges. This would be the simple law about marriage. The double law would run thus:—A man shall marry between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, considering that in a manner the human race naturally partakes of immortality, which every man is by nature inclined to desire to the utmost; for the desire of every man that he may become famous, and not lie in the grave without a name, is only the love of continuance. Now mankind are coeval with all time, and are ever following, and will ever follow, the course of time; and so they are immortal, because they leave children's children behind them, and partake of immortality in the unity of generation. And for a man voluntarily to deprive himself of this gift, as he deliberately does who will not have a wife or children, is impiety. He who obeys the law shall be free, and shall pay no fine; but he who is disobedient, and does not marry, when he has arrived at the age of thirty-five, shall pay a yearly fine of a certain amount, in order that he may not imagine his celibacy to bring ease and profit to him; and he shall not share in the honors which the young men in the state give to the aged. Comparing now the two forms of the law, you will be able to arrive at a judgment about any other laws—whether they should be double in length even when shortest, because they have to persuade as well as threaten, or whether they shall only threaten and be of half the length.
Megillus. The shorter form, Stranger, would be more in accordance with Lacedaemonian custom; although, for my own part, if any one were to ask me which I myself prefer in the state, I should certainly determine in favor of the longer; and I would have every law made after the same pattern, if I had to choose. But I think that Cleinias is the person to be consulted, for his is the state which is going to use these laws.
Cleinias. Thank you, Megillus.
Athenian Stranger. Whether, in the abstract, words are to be many or few, is a very foolish question; the best form, and not the shortest, is to be approved; nor is length at all to be regarded. Of the two forms of law which have been recited, the one is not only twice as good in practical usefulness as the other, but the case is like that of the two kinds of doctors, which I was just now mentioning. And yet legislators never appear to have considered that they have two instruments which they might use in legislation—persuasion and force; for in dealing with the rude and uneducated multitude, they use the one only as far as they can; they do not mingle persuasion with coercion, but employ force pure and simple. Moreover, there is a third point, sweet friends, which ought to be, and never is, regarded in our existing laws.
Cleinias. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. A point arising out of our previous discussion, which comes into my mind in some mysterious way. All this time, from early dawn until noon, have we been talking about laws in this charming retreat: now we are going to promulgate our laws, and what has preceded was only the prelude of them. Why do I mention this? For this reason:—Because all discourses and vocal exercises have preludes and overtures, which are a sort of artistic beginnings intended to help the strain which is to be performed; lyric measures and music of every other kind have preludes framed with wonderful care. But of the truer and higher strain of law and politics, no one has ever yet uttered any prelude, or composed or published any, as though there was no such thing in nature. Whereas our present discussion seems to me to imply that there is;—these double laws, of which we were speaking, are not exactly double, but they are in two parts, the law and the prelude of the law. The arbitrary command, which was compared to the commands of doctors, whom we described as of the meaner sort, was the law pure and simple; and that which preceded, and was described by our friend here as being hortatory only, was, although in fact, an exhortation, likewise analogous to the preamble of a discourse. For I imagine that all this language of conciliation, which the legislator has been uttering in the preface of the law, was intended to create goodwill in the person whom he addressed, in order that, by reason of this good-will, he might more intelligently receive his command, that is to say, the law. And therefore, in my way of speaking, this is more rightly described as the preamble than as the matter of the law. And I must further proceed to observe, that to all his laws, and to each separately, the legislator should prefix a preamble; he should remember how great will be the difference between them, according as they have, or have not, such preambles, as in the case already given.
Cleinias. The lawgiver, if he asks my opinion, will certainly legislate in the form which you advise.
Athenian Stranger. I think that you are right, Cleinias, in affirming that all laws have preambles, and that throughout the whole of this work of legislation every single law should have a suitable preamble at the beginning; for that which is to follow is most important, and it makes all the difference whether we clearly remember the preambles or not. Yet we should be wrong in requiring that all laws, small and great alike, should have preambles of the same kind, any more than all songs or speeches; although they may be natural to all, they are not always necessary, and whether they are to be employed or not has in each case to be left to the judgment of the speaker or the musician, or, in the present instance, of the lawgiver.
Cleinias. That I think is most true. And now, Stranger, without delay let us return to the argument, and, as people say in play, make a second and better beginning, if you please, with the principles which we have been laying down, which we never thought of regarding as a preamble before, but of which we may now make a preamble, and not merely consider them to be chance topics of discourse. Let us acknowledge, then, that we have a preamble. About the honor of the Gods and the respect of parents, enough has been already said; and we may proceed to the topics which follow next in order, until the preamble is deemed by you to be complete; and after that you shall go through the laws themselves.
Athenian Stranger. I understand you to mean that we have made a sufficient preamble about Gods and demi-gods, and about parents living or dead; and now you would have us bring the rest of the subject into the light of day?
Athenian Stranger. After this, as is meet and for the interest of us all, I the speaker, and you the listeners, will try to estimate all that relates to the souls and bodies and properties of the citizens, as regards both their occupations and amusements, and thus arrive, as far as in us lies, at the nature of education. These then are the topics which follow next in order.
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. Listen, all ye who have just now heard the laws about Gods, and about our dear forefathers:—Of all the things which a man has, next to the Gods, his soul is the most divine and most truly his own. Now in every man there are two parts: the better and superior, which rules, and the worse and inferior, which serves; and the ruling part of him is always to be preferred to the subject. Wherefore I am right in bidding every one next to the Gods, who are our masters, and those who in order follow them [i.e., the demons], to honor his own soul, which every one seems to honor, but no one honors as he ought; for honor is a divine good, and no evil thing is honorable; and he who thinks that he can honor the soul by word or gift, or any sort of compliance, without making her in any way better, seems to honor her, but honors her not at all. For example, every man, from his very boyhood, fancies that he is able to know everything, and thinks that he honors his soul by praising her, and he is very ready to let her do whatever she may like. But I mean to say that in acting thus he injures his soul, and is far from honoring her; whereas, in our opinion, he ought to honor her as second only to the Gods. Again, when a man thinks that others are to be blamed, and not himself, for the errors which he has committed from time to time, and the many and great evils which befell him in consequence, and is always fancying himself to be exempt and innocent, he is under the idea that he is honoring his soul; whereas the very reverse is the fact, for he is really injuring her. And when, disregarding the word and approval of the legislator, he indulges in pleasure, then again he is far from honoring her; he only dishonors her, and fills her full of evil and remorse; or when he does not endure to the end the labors and fears and sorrows and pains which the legislator approves, but gives way before them, then, by yielding, he does not honor the soul, but by all such conduct he makes her to be dishonorable; nor when he thinks that life at any price is a good, does he honor her, but yet once more he dishonors her; for the soul having a notion that the world below is all evil, he yields to her, and does not resist and teach or convince her that, for aught she knows, the world of the Gods below, instead of being evil, may be the greatest of all goods. Again, when any one prefers beauty to virtue, what is this but the real and utter dishonor of the soul? For such a preference implies that the body is more honorable than the soul; and this is false, for there is nothing of earthly birth which is more honorable than the heavenly, and he who thinks otherwise of the soul has no idea how greatly he undervalues this wonderful possession; nor, again, when a person is willing, or not unwilling, to acquire dishonest gains, does he then honor his soul with gifts—far otherwise; he sells her glory and honor for a small piece of gold; but all the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue. In a word, I may say that he who does not estimate the base and evil, the good and noble, according to the standard of the legislator, and abstain in every possible way from the one and practice the other to the utmost of his power, does not know that in all these respects he is most foully and disgracefully abusing his soul, which is the divinest part of man; for no one, as I may say, ever considers that which is declared to be the greatest penalty of evil-doing—namely, to grow into the likeness of bad men, and growing like them to fly from the conversation of the good, and be cut off from them, and cleave to and follow after the company of the bad. And he who is joined to them must do and suffer what such men by nature do and say to one another—a suffering which is not justice but retribution; for justice and the just are noble, whereas retribution is the suffering which waits upon injustice; and whether a man escape or endure this, he is miserable,—in the former case, because he is not cured; while in the latter, he perishes in order that the rest of mankind may be saved.
Speaking generally, our glory is to follow the better and improve the inferior, which is susceptible of improvement, as far as this is possible. And of all human possessions, the soul is by nature most inclined to avoid the evil, and track out and find the chief good; which when a man has found, he should take up his abode with it during the remainder of his life. Wherefore the soul also is second [or next to God] in honor; and third, as every one will perceive, comes the honor of the body in natural order. Having determined this, we have next to consider that there is a natural honor of the body, and that of honors some are true and some are counterfeit. To decide which are which is the business of the legislator; and he, I suspect, would intimate that they are as follows:—Honor is not to be given to the fair body, or to the strong or the swift or the tall, or to the healthy body (although many may think otherwise), any more than to their opposites; but the mean states of all these habits are by far the safest and most moderate; for the one extreme makes the soul braggart and insolent, and the other, illiberal and base; and money, and property, and distinction all go to the same tune. The excess of any of these things is apt to be a source of hatreds and divisions among states and individuals; and the defect of them is commonly a cause of slavery. And, therefore, I would not have any one fond of heaping up riches for the sake of his children, in order that he may leave them as rich as possible. For the possession of great wealth is of no use, either to them or to the state. The condition of youth which is free from flattery, and at the same time not in need of the necessaries of life, is the best and most harmonious of all, being in accord and agreement with our nature, and making life to be most entirely free from sorrow. Let parents, then, bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but the spirit of reverence. We, indeed, fancy that they will inherit reverence from us, if we rebuke them when they show a want of reverence. But this quality is not really imparted to them by the present style of admonition, which only tells them that the young ought always to be reverential. A sensible legislator will rather exhort the elders to reverence the younger, and above all to take heed that no young man sees or hears one of themselves doing or saying anything disgraceful; for where old men have no shame, there young men will most certainly be devoid of reverence. The best way of training the young is to train yourself at the same time; not to admonish them, but to be always carrying out your own admonitions in practice. He who honors his kindred, and reveres those who share in the same Gods and are of the same blood and family, may fairly expect that the Gods who preside over generation will be propitious to him, and will quicken his seed. And he who deems the services which his friends and acquaintances do for him, greater and more important than they themselves deem them, and his own favors to them less than theirs to him, will have their good-will in the intercourse of life. And surely in his relations to the state and his fellow citizens, he is by far the best, who rather than the Olympic or any other victory of peace or war, desires to win the palm of obedience to the laws of his country, and who, of all mankind, is the person reputed to have obeyed them best through life. In his relations to strangers, a man should consider that a contract is a most holy thing, and that all concerns and wrongs of strangers are more directly dependent on the protection of God, than wrongs done to citizens; for the stranger, having no kindred and friends, is more to be pitied by Gods and men. Wherefore, also, he who is most able to avenge him is most zealous in his cause; and he who is most able is the genius and the god of the stranger, who follow in the train of Zeus, the god of strangers. And for this reason, he who has a spark of caution in him, will do his best to pass through life without sinning against the stranger. And of offenses committed, whether against strangers or fellow-countrymen, that against suppliants is the greatest. For the god who witnessed to the agreement made with the suppliant, becomes in a special manner the guardian of the sufferer; and he will certainly not suffer unavenged.
Thus we have fairly described the manner in which a man is to act about his parents, and himself, and his own affairs; and in relation to the state, and his friends, and kindred, both in what concerns his own countrymen, and in what concerns the stranger. We will now consider what manner of man he must be who would best pass through life in respect of those other things which are not matters of law, but of praise and blame only; in which praise and blame educate a man, and make him more tractable and amenable to the laws which are about to be imposed.
Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both to Gods and men; and he who would be blessed and happy, should be from the first a partaker of the truth, that he may live a true man as long as possible, for then he can be trusted; but he is not to be trusted who loves voluntary falsehood, and he who loves involuntary falsehood is a fool. Neither condition is enviable, for the untrustworthy and ignorant has no friend, and as time advances he becomes known, and lays up in store for himself isolation in crabbed age when life is on the wane: so that, whether his children or friends are alive or not, he is equally solitary.—Worthy of honor is he who does no injustice, and of more than twofold honor, if he not only does no injustice himself, but hinders others from doing any; the first may count as one man, the second is worth many men, because he informs the rulers of the injustice of others. And yet more highly to be esteemed is he who co-operates with the rulers in correcting the citizens as far as he can—he shall be proclaimed the great and perfect citizen, and bear away the palm of virtue. The same praise may be given about temperance and wisdom, and all other goods which may be imparted to others, as well as acquired by a man for himself; he who imparts them shall be honored as the man of men, and he who is willing, yet is not able, may be allowed the second place; but he who is jealous and will not, if he can help, allow others to partake in a friendly way of any good, is deserving of blame: the good, however, which he has, is not to be undervalued by us because it is possessed by him, but must be acquired by us also to the utmost of our power. Let every man, then, freely strive for the prize of virtue, and let there be no envy. For the unenvious nature increases the greatness of states—he himself contends in the race, blasting the fair fame of no man; but the envious, who thinks that he ought to get the better by defaming others, is less energetic himself in the pursuit of true virtue, and reduces his rivals to despair by his unjust slanders of them. And so he makes the whole city to enter the arena untrained in the practice of virtue, and diminishes her glory as far as in him lies. Now every man should be valiant, but he should also be gentle. From the cruel, or hardly curable, or altogether incurable acts of injustice done to him by others, a man can only escape by fighting and defending himself and conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them; and no man who is not of a noble spirit is able to accomplish this. As to the actions of those who do evil, but whose evil is curable, in the first place, let us remember that the unjust man is not unjust of his own free will. For no man of his own free will would choose to possess the greatest of evils, and least of all in the most honorable part of himself. And the soul, as we said, is of a truth deemed by all men the most honorable. In the soul, then, which is the most honorable part of him, no one, if he could help, would admit, or allow to continue the greatest of evils. The unrighteous and vicious are always to be pitied in any case; and one can afford to forgive as well as pity him who is curable, and refrain and calm one's anger, not getting into a passion, like a woman, and nursing ill-feeling. But upon him who is incapable of reformation and wholly evil, the vials of our wrath should be poured out; wherefore I say that good men ought, when occasion demands, to be both gentle and passionate.
Of all evils the greatest is one which in the souls of most men is innate, and which a man is always excusing in himself and never correcting; I mean, what is expressed in the saying that "Every man by nature is and ought to be his own friend." Whereas the excessive love of self is in reality the source to each man of all offenses; for the lover is blinded about the beloved, so that he judges wrongly of the just, the good, and the honorable, and thinks that he ought always to prefer himself to the truth. But he who would be a great man ought to regard, not himself or his interests, but what is just, whether the just act be his own or that of another. Through a similar error men are induced to fancy that their own ignorance is wisdom, and thus we who may be truly said to know nothing, think that we know all things; and because we will not let others act for us in what we do not know, we are compelled to act amiss ourselves. Wherefore let every man avoid excess of self-love, and condescend to follow a better man than himself, not allowing any false shame to stand in the way. There are also minor precepts which are often repeated, and are quite as useful; a man should recollect them and remind himself of them. For when a stream is flowing out, there should be water flowing in too; and recollection flows in while wisdom is departing. Therefore I say that a man should refrain from excess either of laughter or tears, and should exhort his neighbor to do the same; he should veil his immoderate sorrow or joy, and seek to behave with propriety, whether the genius of his good fortune remains with him, or whether at the crisis of his fate, when he seems to be mounting high and steep places, the Gods oppose him in some of his enterprises. Still he may ever hope, in the case of good men, that whatever afflictions are to befall them in the future God will lessen, and that present evils he will change for the better; and as to the goods which are the opposite of these evils, he will not doubt that they will be added to them, and that they will be fortunate. Such should be men's hopes, and such should be the exhortations with which they admonish one another, never losing an opportunity, but on every occasion distinctly reminding themselves and others of all these things, both in jest and earnest.
Enough has now been said of divine matters, both as touching the practices which men ought to follow, and as to the sort of persons who they ought severally to be. But of human things we have not as yet spoken, and we must; for to men we are discoursing and not to Gods. Pleasures and pains and desires are a part of human nature, and on them every mortal being must of necessity hang and depend with the most eager interest. And therefore we must praise the noblest life, not only as the fairest in appearance, but as being one which, if a man will only taste, and not, while still in his youth, desert for another, he will find to surpass also in the very thing which we all of us desire—I mean in having a greater amount of pleasure and less of pain during the whole of life. And this will be plain, if a man has a true taste of them, as will be quickly and clearly seen. But what is a true taste? That we have to learn from the argument—the point being what is according to nature, and what is not according to nature. One life must be compared with another, the more pleasurable with the more painful, after this manner:—We desire to have pleasure, but we neither desire nor choose pain; and the neutral state we are ready to take in exchange, not for pleasure but for pain; and we also wish for less pain and greater pleasure, but less pleasure and greater pain we do not wish for; and an equal balance of either we cannot venture to assert that we should desire. And all these differ or do not differ severally in number and magnitude and intensity and equality, and in the opposites of these when regarded as objects of choice, in relation to desire. And such being the necessary order of things, we wish for that life in which there are many great and intense elements of pleasure and pain, and in which the pleasures are in excess, and do not wish for that in which the opposites exceed; nor, again, do we wish for that in which the elements of either are small and few and feeble, and the pains exceed. And when, as I said before, there is a balance of pleasure and pain in life, this is to be regarded by us as the balanced life; while other lives are preferred by us because they exceed in what we like, or are rejected by us because they exceed in what we dislike. All the lives of men may be regarded by us as bound up in these, and we must also consider what sort of lives we by nature desire. And if we wish for any others, I say that we desire them only through some ignorance and inexperience of the lives which actually exist.
Now, what lives are they, and how many in which, having searched out and beheld the objects of will and desire and their opposites, and making of them a law, choosing, I say, the dear and the pleasant and the best and noblest, a man may live in the happiest way possible? Let us say that the temperate life is one kind of life, and the rational another, and the courageous another, and the healthful another; and to these four let us oppose four other lives,—the foolish, the cowardly, the intemperate, the diseased. He who knows the temperate life will describe it as in all things gentle, having gentle pains and gentle pleasures, and placid desires and loves not insane; whereas the intemperate life is impetuous in all things, and has violent pains and pleasures, and vehement and stinging desires, and loves utterly insane; and in the temperate life the pleasures exceed the pains, but in the intemperate life the pains exceed the pleasures in greatness and number and frequency. Hence one of the two lives is naturally and necessarily more pleasant and the other more painful, and he who would live pleasantly cannot possibly choose to live intemperately. And if this is true, the inference clearly is that no man is voluntarily intemperate; but that the whole multitude of men lack temperance in their lives, either from ignorance, or from want of self-control, or both. And the same holds of the diseased and healthy life; they both have pleasures and pains, but in health the pleasure exceeds the pain, and in sickness the pain exceeds the pleasure. Now our intention in choosing the lives is not that the painful should exceed, but the life in which pain is exceeded by pleasure we have determined to be the more pleasant life. And we should say that the temperate life has the elements both of pleasure and pain fewer and smaller and less frequent than the intemperate, and the wise life than the foolish life, and the life of courage than the life of cowardice; one of each pair exceeding in pleasure and the other in pain, the courageous surpassing the cowardly, and the wise exceeding the foolish. And so the one class of lives exceeds the other class in pleasure; the temperate and courageous and wise and healthy exceed the cowardly and foolish and intemperate and diseased lives; and generally speaking, that which has any virtue, whether of body or soul, is pleasanter than the vicious life, and far superior in beauty and rectitude and excellence and reputation, and causes him who lives accordingly to be infinitely happier than the opposite.
Enough of the preamble; and now the laws should follow; or, to speak more correctly, an outline of them. As, then, in the case of a web or any other tissue, the warp and the woof cannot be made of the same materials, but the warp is necessarily superior as being stronger, and having a certain character of firmness, whereas the woof is softer and has a proper degree of elasticity;—in a similar manner those who are to hold great offices in states, should be distinguished truly in each case from those who have been but slenderly proven by education. Let us suppose that there are two parts in the constitution of a state—one the creation of offices, the other the laws which are assigned to them to administer.
But, before all this, comes the following consideration:—The shepherd or herdsman, or breeder of horses or the like, when he has received his animals will not begin to train them until he has first purified them in a manner which befits a community of animals; he will divide the healthy and unhealthy, and the good breed and the bad breed, and will send away the unhealthy and badly bred to other herds, and tend the rest, reflecting that his labors will be vain and have no effect, either on the souls or bodies of those whom nature and ill nurture have corrupted, and that they will involve in destruction the pure and healthy nature and being of every other animal, if he should neglect to purify them. Now the case of other animals is not so important—they are only worth introducing for the sake of illustration; but what relates to man is of the highest importance; and the legislator should make enquiries, and indicate what is proper for each one in the way of purification and of any other procedure. Take, for example, the purification of a city—there are many kinds of purification, some easier and others more difficult; and some of them, and the best and most difficult of them, the legislator, if he be also a despot, may be able to effect; but the legislator, who, not being a despot, sets up a new government and laws, even if he attempt the mildest of purgations, may think himself happy if he can complete his work. The best kind of purification is painful, like similar cures in medicine, involving righteous punishment and inflicting death or exile in the last resort. For in this way we commonly dispose of great sinners who are incurable, and are the greatest injury of the whole state. But the milder form of purification is as follows:—when men who have nothing, and are in want of food, show a disposition to follow their leaders in an attack on the property of the rich—these, who are the natural plague of the state, are sent away by the legislator in a friendly spirit as far as he is able; and this dismissal of them is euphemistically termed a colony. And every legislator should contrive to do this at once. Our present case, however, is peculiar. For there is no need to devise any colony or purifying separation under the circumstances in which we are placed. But as, when many streams flow together from many sources, whether springs or mountain torrents, into a single lake, we ought to attend and take care that the confluent waters should be perfectly clear, and in order to effect this, should pump and draw off and divert impurities, so in every political arrangement there may be trouble and danger. But, seeing that we are now only discoursing and not acting, let our selection be supposed to be completed, and the desired purity attained. Touching evil men, who want to join and be citizens of our state, after we have tested them by every sort of persuasion and for a sufficient time, we will prevent them from coming; but the good we will to the utmost of our ability receive as friends with open arms.
Another piece of good fortune must not be forgotten, which, as we were saying, the Heraclid colony had, and which is also ours—that we have escaped division of land and the abolition of debts; for these are always a source of dangerous contention, and a city which is driven by necessity to legislate upon such matters can neither allow the old ways to continue, nor yet venture to alter them. We must have recourse to prayers, so to speak, and hope that a slight change may be cautiously effected in a length of time. And such a change can be accomplished by those who have abundance of land, and having also many debtors, are willing, in a kindly spirit, to share with those who are in want, sometimes remitting and sometimes giving, holding fast in a path of moderation, and deeming poverty to be the increase of a man's desires and not the diminution of his property. For this is the great beginning of salvation to a state, and upon this lasting basis may be erected afterwards whatever political order is suitable under the circumstances; but if the change be based upon an unsound principle, the future administration of the country will be full of difficulties. That is a danger which, as I am saying, is escaped by us, and yet we had better say how, if we had not escaped, we might have escaped; and we may venture now to assert that no other way of escape, whether narrow or broad, can be devised but freedom from avarice and a sense of justice—upon this rock our city shall be built; for there ought to be no disputes among citizens about property. If there are quarrels of long standing among them, no legislator of any degree of sense will proceed a step in the arrangement of the state until they are settled. But that they to whom God has given, as he has to us, to be the founders of a new state as yet free from enmity—that they should create themselves enmities by their mode of distributing lands and houses, would be superhuman folly and wickedness.
How then can we rightly order the distribution of the land? In the first place, the number of the citizens has to be determined, and also the number and size of the divisions into which they will have to be formed; and the land and the houses will then have to be apportioned by us as fairly as we can. The number of citizens can only be estimated satisfactorily in relation to the territory and the neighboring states. The territory must be sufficient to maintain a certain number of inhabitants in a moderate way of life—more than this is not required; and the number of citizens should be sufficient to defend themselves against the injustice of their neighbors, and also to give them the power of rendering efficient aid to their neighbors when they are wronged. After having taken a survey of theirs and their neighbors' territory, we will determine the limits of them in fact as well as in theory. And now, let us proceed to legislate with a view to perfecting the form and outline of our state. The number of our citizens shall be 5040—this will be a convenient number; and these shall be owners of the land and protectors of the allotment. The houses and the land will be divided in the same way, so that every man may correspond to a lot. Let the whole number be first divided into two parts, and then into three; and the number is further capable of being divided into four or five parts, or any number of parts up to ten. Every legislator ought to know so much arithmetic as to be able to tell what number is most likely to be useful to all cities; and we are going to take that number which contains the greatest and most regular and unbroken series of divisions. The whole of number has every possible division, and the number 5040 can be divided by exactly fifty-nine divisors, and ten of these proceed without interval from one to ten: this will furnish numbers for war and peace, and for all contracts and dealings, including taxes and divisions of the land. These properties of number should be ascertained at leisure by those who are bound by law to know them; for they are true, and should be proclaimed at the foundation of the city, with a view to use. Whether the legislator is establishing a new state or restoring an old and decayed one, in respect of Gods and temples—the temples which are to be built in each city, and the Gods or demi-gods after whom they are to be called—if he be a man of sense, he will make no change in anything which the oracle of Delphi, or Dodona, or the God Ammon, or any ancient tradition has sanctioned in whatever manner, whether by apparitions or reputed inspiration of Heaven, in obedience to which mankind have established sacrifices in connection with mystic rites, either originating on the spot, or derived from Tyrrhenia or Cyprus or some other place, and on the strength of which traditions they have consecrated oracles and images, and altars and temples, and portioned out a sacred domain for each of them. The least part of all these ought not to be disturbed by the legislator; but he should assign to the several districts some God, or demi-god, or hero, and, in the distribution of the soil, should give to these first their chosen domain and all things fitting, that the inhabitants of the several districts may meet at fixed times, and that they may readily supply their various wants, and entertain one another with sacrifices, and become friends and acquaintances; for there is no greater good in a state than that the citizens should be known to one another. When not light but darkness and ignorance of each other's characters prevails among them, no one will receive the honor of which he is deserving, or the power or the justice to which he is fairly entitled: wherefore, in every state, above all things, every man should take heed that he have no deceit in him, but that he be always true and simple; and that no deceitful person take any advantage of him.
The next move in our pastime of legislation, like the withdrawal of the stone from the holy line in the game of draughts, being an unusual one, will probably excite wonder when mentioned for the first time. And yet, if a man will only reflect and weigh the matter with care, he will see that our city is ordered in a manner which, if not the best, is the second best. Perhaps also some one may not approve this form, because he thinks that such a constitution is ill adapted to a legislator who has not despotic power. The truth is, that there are three forms of government, the best, the second and the third best, which we may just mention, and then leave the selection to the ruler of the settlement. Following this method in the present instance, let us speak of the states which are respectively first, second, and third in excellence, and then we will leave the choice to Cleinias now, or to any one else who may hereafter have to make a similar choice among constitutions, and may desire to give to his state some feature which is congenial to him and which he approves in his own country.
The first and highest form of the state and of the government and of the law is that in which there prevails most widely the ancient saying, that "Friends have all things in common." Whether there is anywhere now, or will ever be, this communion of women and children and of property, in which the private and individual is altogether banished from life, and things which are by nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and in some way see and hear and act in common, and all men express praise and blame and feel joy and sorrow on the same occasions, and whatever laws there are unite the city to the utmost—whether all this is possible or not, I say that no man, acting upon any other principle, will ever constitute a state which will be truer or better or more exalted in virtue. Whether such a state is governed by Gods or sons of Gods, one, or more than one, happy are the men who, living after this manner, dwell there; and therefore to this we are to look for the pattern of the state, and to cling to this, and to seek with all our might for one which is like this. The state which we have now in hand, when created, will be nearest to immortality and the only one which takes the second place; and after that, by the grace of God, we will complete the third one. And we will begin by speaking of the nature and origin of the second.
Let the citizens at once distribute their land and houses, and not till the land in common, since a community of goods goes beyond their proposed origin, and nurture, and education. But in making the distribution, let the several possessors feel that their particular lots also belong to the whole city; and seeing that the earth is their parent, let them tend her more carefully than children do their mother. For she is a goddess and their queen, and they are her mortal subjects. Such also are the feelings which they ought to entertain to the Gods and demi-gods of the country. And in order that the distribution may always remain, they ought to consider further that the present number of families should be always retained, and neither increased nor diminished. This may be secured for the whole city in the following manner:—Let the possessor of a lot leave the one of his children who is his best beloved, and one only, to be the heir of his dwelling, and his successor in the duty of ministering to the Gods, the state and the family, as well the living members of it as those who are departed when he comes into the inheritance; but of his other children, if he have more than one, he shall give the females in marriage according to the law to be hereafter enacted, and the males he shall distribute as sons to those citizens who have no children and are disposed to receive them; or if there should be none such, and particular individuals have too many children, male or female, or too few, as in the case of barrenness—in all these cases let the highest and most honorable magistracy created by us judge and determine what is to be done with the redundant or deficient, and devise a means that the number of 5040 houses shall always remain the same. There are many ways of regulating numbers; for they in whom generation is affluent may be made to refrain, and, on the other hand, special care may be taken to increase the number of births by rewards and stigmas, or we may meet the evil by the elder men giving advice and administering rebuke to the younger—in this way the object may be attained. And if after all there be very great difficulty about the equal preservation of the 5040 houses, and there be an excess of citizens, owing to the too great love of those who live together, and we are at our wits' end, there is still the old device often mentioned by us of sending out a colony, which will part friends with us, and be composed of suitable persons. If, on the other hand, there come a wave bearing a deluge of disease, or a plague of war, and the inhabitants become much fewer than the appointed number by reason of bereavement, we ought not to introduce citizens of spurious birth and education, if this can be avoided; but even God is said not to be able to fight against necessity.
Wherefore let us suppose this "high argument" of ours to address us in the following terms:—Best of men, cease not to honor according to nature similarity and equality and sameness and agreement, as regards number and every good and noble quality. And, above all, observe the aforesaid number 5040 throughout life; in the second place, do not disparage the small and modest proportions of the inheritances which you received in the distribution, by buying and selling them to one another. For then neither will the God who gave you the lot be your friend, nor will the legislator; and indeed the law declares to the disobedient that these are the terms upon which he may or may not take the lot. In the first place, the earth as he is informed is sacred to the Gods; and in the next place, priests and priestesses will offer up prayers over a first, and second, and even a third sacrifice, that he who buys or sells the houses or lands which he has received, may suffer the punishment which he deserves; and these their prayers they shall write down in the temples, on tablets of cypress-wood, for the instruction of posterity. Moreover they will set a watch over all these things, that they may be observed;—the magistracy which has the sharpest eyes shall keep watch that any infringement of these commands may be discovered and punished as offenses both against the law and the God. How great is the benefit of such an ordinance to all those cities, which obey and are administered accordingly, no bad man can ever know, as the old proverb says; but only a man of experience and good habits. For in such an order of things there will not be much opportunity for making money; no man either ought, or indeed will be allowed, to exercise any ignoble occupation, of which the vulgarity is a matter of reproach to a freeman, and should never want to acquire riches by any such means.
Further, the law enjoins that no private man shall be allowed to possess gold and silver, but only coin for daily use, which is almost necessary in dealing with artisans, and for payment of hirelings, whether slaves or immigrants, by all those persons who require the use of them. Wherefore our citizens, as we say, should have a coin passing current among themselves, but not accepted among the rest of mankind; with a view, however, to expeditions and journeys to other lands—for embassies, or for any other occasion which may arise of sending out a herald, the state must also possess a common Hellenic currency. If a private person is ever obliged to go abroad, let him have the consent of the magistrates and go; and if when he returns he has any foreign money remaining, let him give the surplus back to the treasury, and receive a corresponding sum in the local currency. And if he is discovered to appropriate it, let it be confiscated, and let him who knows and does not inform be subject to curse and dishonor equally with him who brought the money, and also to a fine not less in amount than the foreign money which has been brought back. In marrying and giving in marriage, no one shall give or receive any dowry at all; and no one shall deposit money with another whom he does not trust as a friend, nor shall he lend money upon interest; and the borrower should be under no obligation to repay either capital or interest. That these principles are best, any one may see who compares them with the first principle and intention of a state. The intention, as we affirm, of a reasonable statesman, is not what the many declare to be the object of a good legislator, namely, that the state for the true interests of which he is advising should be as great and as rich as possible, and should possess gold and silver, and have the greatest empire by sea and land;—this they imagine to be the real object of legislation, at the same time adding, inconsistently, that the true legislator desires to have the city the best and happiest possible. But they do not see that some of these things are possible, and some of them are impossible; and he who orders the state will desire what is possible, and will not indulge in vain wishes or attempts to accomplish that which is impossible. The citizen must indeed be happy and good, and the legislator will seek to make him so; but very rich and very good at the same time he cannot be, not, at least, in the sense in which the many speak of riches. For they mean by "the rich" the few who have the most valuable possessions, although the owner of them may quite well be a rogue. And if this is true, I can never assent to the doctrine that the rich man will be happy—he must be good as well as rich. And good in a high degree, and rich in a high degree at the same time, he cannot be. Some one will ask, why not? And we shall answer—Because acquisitions which come from sources which are just and unjust indifferently, are more than double those which come from just sources only; and the sums which are expended neither honorably nor disgracefully, are only half as great as those which are expended honorably and on honorable purposes. Thus, if the one acquires double and spends half, the other who is in the opposite case and is a good man cannot possibly be wealthier than he. The first—I am speaking of the saver and not of the spender—is not always bad; he may indeed in some cases be utterly bad, but, as I was saying, a good man he never is. For he who receives money unjustly as well as justly, and spends neither justly nor unjustly, will be a rich man if he be also thrifty. On the other hand, the utterly bad is in general profligate, and therefore very poor; while he who spends on noble objects, and acquires wealth by just means only, can hardly be remarkable for riches, any more than he can be very poor. Our statement, then, is true, that the very rich are not good, and, if they are not good, they are not happy. But the intention of our laws was that the citizens should be as happy as may be, and as friendly as possible to one another. And men who are always at law with one another, and amongst whom there are many wrongs done, can never be friends to one another, but only those among whom crimes and lawsuits are few and slight. Therefore we say that gold and silver ought not to be allowed in the city, nor much of the vulgar sort of trade which is carried on by lending money, or rearing the meaner kinds of live stock; but only the produce of agriculture, and only so much of this as will not compel us in pursuing it to neglect that for the sake of which riches exist—I mean, soul and body, which without gymnastics, and without education, will never be worth anything; and therefore, as we have said not once but many times, the care of riches should have the last place in our thoughts. For there are in all three things about which every man has an interest; and the interest about money, when rightly regarded, is the third and lowest of them: midway comes the interest of the body; and, first of all, that of the soul; and the state which we are describing will have been rightly constituted if it ordains honors according to this scale. But if, in any of the laws which have been ordained, health has been preferred to temperance, or wealth to health and temperate habits, that law must clearly be wrong. Wherefore, also, the legislator ought often to impress upon himself the question—"What do I want?" and "Do I attain my aim, or do I miss the mark?" In this way, and in this way only, he may acquit himself and free others from the work of legislation.
Let the allottee then hold his lot upon the conditions which we have mentioned.
It would be well that every man should come to the colony having all things equal; but seeing that this is not possible, and one man will have greater possessions than another, for many reasons and in particular in order to preserve equality in special crises of the state, qualifications of property must be unequal, in order that offices and contributions and distributions may be proportioned to the value of each person's wealth, and not solely to the virtue of his ancestors or himself, nor yet to the strength and beauty of his person, but also to the measure of his wealth or poverty; and so by a law of inequality, which will be in proportion to his wealth, he will receive honors and offices as equally as possible, and there will be no quarrels and disputes. To which end there should be four different standards appointed according to the amount of property: there should be a first and a second and a third and a fourth class, in which the citizens will be placed, and they will be called by these or similar names: they may continue in the same rank, or pass into another in any individual case, on becoming richer from being poorer, or poorer from being richer. The form of law which I should propose as the natural sequel would be as follows:—In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest of all plagues—not faction, but rather distraction;—here should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty, nor, again, excess of wealth, for both are productive of both these evils. Now the legislator should determine what is to be the limit of poverty or wealth. Let the limit of poverty be the value of the lot; this ought to be preserved, and no ruler, nor any one else who aspires after a reputation for virtue, will allow the lot to be impaired in any case. This the legislator gives as a measure, and he will permit a man to acquire double or triple, or as much as four times the amount of this. But if a person have yet greater riches, whether he has found them, or they have been given to him, or he has made them in business, or has acquired by any stroke of fortune that which is in excess of the measure, if he give back the surplus to the state, and to the Gods who are the patrons of the state, he shall suffer no penalty or loss of reputation; but if he disobeys this our law any one who likes may inform against him and receive half the value of the excess, and the delinquent shall pay a sum equal to the excess out of his own property, and the other half of the excess shall belong to the Gods. And let every possession of every man, with the exception of the lot, be publicly registered before the magistrates whom the law appoints, so that all suits about money may be easy and quite simple.
The next thing to be noted is, that the city should be placed as nearly as possible in the center of the country; we should choose a place which possesses what is suitable for a city, and this may easily be imagined and described. Then we will divide the city into twelve portions, first founding temples to Hestia, to Zeus and to Athene, in a spot which we will call the Acropolis, and surround with a circular wall, making the division of the entire city and country radiate from this point. The twelve portions shall be equalized by the provision that those which are of good land shall be smaller, while those of inferior quality shall be larger. The number of the lots shall be 5040, and each of them shall be divided into two, and every allotment shall be composed of two such sections; one of land near the city, the other of land which is at a distance. This arrangement shall be carried out in the following manner: The section which is near the city shall be added to that which is on the borders, and form one lot, and the portion which is next nearest shall be added to the portion which is next farthest; and so of the rest. Moreover, in the two sections of the lots the same principle of equalization of the soil ought to be maintained; the badness and goodness shall be compensated by more and less. And the legislator shall divide the citizens into twelve parts, and arrange the rest of their property, as far as possible, so as to form twelve equal parts; and there shall be a registration of all. After this they shall assign twelve lots to twelve Gods, and call them by their names, and dedicate to each God their several portions, and call the tribes after them. And they shall distribute the twelve divisions of the city in the same way in which they divided the country; and every man shall have two habitations, one in the center of the country, and the other at the extremity. Enough of the manner of settlement.
Now we ought by all means to consider that there can never be such a happy concurrence of circumstances as we have described; neither can all things coincide as they are wanted. Men who will not take offense at such a mode of living together, and will endure all their life long to have their property fixed at a moderate limit, and to beget children in accordance with our ordinances, and will allow themselves to be deprived of gold and other things which the legislator, as is evident from these enactments, will certainly forbid them; and will endure, further, the situation of the land with the city in the middle and dwellings round about;—all this is as if the legislator were telling his dreams, or making a city and citizens of wax. There is truth in these objections, and therefore every one should take to heart what I am going to say. Once more, then, the legislator shall appear and address us:—"O my friends," he will say to us, "do not suppose me ignorant that there is a certain degree of truth in your words; but I am of opinion that, in matters which are not present but future, he who exhibits a pattern of that at which he aims, should in nothing fall short of the fairest and truest; and that if he finds any part of this work impossible of execution he should avoid and not execute it, but he should contrive to carry out that which is nearest and most akin to it; you must allow the legislator to perfect his design, and when it is perfected, you should join with him in considering what part of his legislation is expedient and what will arouse opposition; for surely the artist who is to be deemed worthy of any regard at all, ought always to make his work self-consistent."
Having determined that there is to be a distribution into twelve parts, let us now see in what way this may be accomplished. There is no difficulty in perceiving that the twelve parts admit of the greatest number of divisions of that which they include, or in seeing the other numbers which are consequent upon them, and are produced out of them up to 5040; wherefore the law ought to order phratries and demes and villages, and also military ranks and movements, as well as coins and measures, dry and liquid, and weights, so as to be commensurable and agreeable to one another. Nor should we fear the appearance of minuteness, if the law commands that all the vessels which a man possesses should have a common measure, when we consider generally that the divisions and variations of numbers have a use in respect of all the variations of which they are susceptible, both in themselves and as measures of height and depth, and in all sounds, and in motions, as well those which proceed in a straight direction, upwards or downwards, as in those which go round and round. The legislator is to consider all these things and to bid the citizens, as far as possible, not to lose sight of numerical order; for no single instrument of youthful education has such mighty power, both as regards domestic economy and politics, and in the arts, as the study of arithmetic. Above all, arithmetic stirs up him who is by nature sleepy and dull, and makes him quick to learn, retentive, shrewd, and aided by art divine he makes progress quite beyond his natural powers. All such things, if only the legislator, by other laws and institutions, can banish meanness and covetousness from the souls of men, so that they can use them properly and to their own good, will be excellent and suitable instruments of education. But if he cannot, he will unintentionally create in them, instead of wisdom, the habit of craft, which evil tendency may be observed in the Egyptians and Phoenicians, and many other races, through the general vulgarity of their pursuits and acquisitions, whether some unworthy legislator of theirs has been the cause, or some impediment of chance or nature. For we must not fail to observe, O Megillus and Cleinias, that there is a difference in places, and that some beget better men and others worse; and we must legislate accordingly. Some places are subject to strange and fatal influences by reason of diverse winds and violent heats, some by reason of waters; or, again, from the character of the food given by the earth, which not only affects the bodies of men for good or evil, but produces similar results in their souls. And in all such qualities those spots excel in which there is a divine inspiration, and in which the demi-gods have their appointed lots, and are propitious, not adverse, to the settlers in them. To all these matters the legislator, if he have any sense in him, will attend as far as man can, and frame his laws accordingly. And this is what you, Cleinias, must do, and to matters of this kind you must turn your mind since you are going to colonize a new country.
Cleinias. Your words, Athenian Stranger, are excellent, and I will do as you say.
Athenian Stranger. And now having made an end of the preliminaries we will proceed to the appointment of magistracies.
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. In the ordering of a state there are two parts: first, the number of the magistracies, and the mode of establishing them; and, secondly, when they have been established, laws again will have to be provided for each of them, suitable in nature and number. But before electing the magistrates let us stop a little and say a word in season about the election of them.
Cleinias. What have you got to say?
Athenian Stranger. This is what I have to say; every one can see, that although the work of legislation is a most important matter, yet if a well-ordered city superadd to good laws unsuitable offices, not only will there be no use in having the good laws—not only will they be ridiculous and useless, but the greatest political injury and evil will accrue from them.
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. Then now, my friend, let us observe what will happen in the constitution of our intended state. In the first place, you will acknowledge that those who are duly appointed to magisterial power, and their families, should severally have given satisfactory proof of what they are, from youth upward until the time of election; in the next place, those who are to elect should have been trained in habits of law, and be well educated, that they may have a right judgment, and may be able to select or reject men whom they approve or disapprove, as they are worthy of either. But how can we imagine that those who are brought together for the first time, and are strangers to one another, and also uneducated, will avoid making mistakes in the choice of magistrates?
Athenian Stranger. The matter is serious, and excuses will not serve the turn. I will tell you, then, what you and I will have to do, since you, as you tell me, with nine others, have offered to settle the new state on behalf of the people of Crete, and I am to help you by the invention of the present romance. I certainly should not like to leave the tale wandering all over the world without a head;—a headless monster is such a hideous thing.
Cleinias. Excellent, Stranger.
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and I will be as good as my word.
Cleinias. Let us by all means do as you propose.
Athenian Stranger. That we will, by the grace of God, if old age will only permit us.
Cleinias. But God will be gracious.
Athenian Stranger. Yes; and under his guidance let us consider a further point.
Cleinias. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. Let us remember what a courageously mad and daring creation this our city is.
Cleinias. What had you in your mind when you said that?
Athenian Stranger. I had in my mind the free and easy manner in which we are ordaining that the inexperienced colonists shall receive our laws. Now a man need not be very wise, Cleinias, in order to see that no one can easily receive laws at their first imposition. But if we could anyhow wait until those who have been imbued with them from childhood, and have been nurtured in them, and become habituated to them, take their part in the public elections of the state; I say, if this could be accomplished, and rightly accomplished by any way or contrivance—then, I think that there would be very little danger, at the end of the time, of a state thus trained not being permanent.
Cleinias. A reasonable supposition.
Athenian Stranger. Then let us consider if we can find any way out of the difficulty; for I maintain, Cleinias, that the Cnosians, above all the other Cretans, should not be satisfied with barely discharging their duty to the colony, but they ought to take the utmost pains to establish the offices which are first created by them in the best and surest manner. Above all, this applies to the selection of the guardians of the law, who must be chosen first of all, and with the greatest care; the others are of less importance.
Cleinias. What method can we devise of electing them?
Athenian Stranger. This will be the method:—Sons of the Cretans, I shall say to them, inasmuch as the Cnosians have precedence over the other states, they should, in common with those who join this settlement, choose a body of thirty-seven in all, nineteen of them being taken from the settlers, and the remainder from the citizens of Cnosus. Of those latter the Cnosians shall make a present to your colony, and you yourself shall be one of the eighteen, and shall become a citizen of the new state; and if you and they cannot be persuaded to go, the Cnosians may fairly use a little violence in order to make you.
Cleinias. But why, Stranger, do not you and Megillus take a part in our new city?
Athenian Stranger. O, Cleinias, Athens is proud, and Sparta too; and they are both a long way off. But you and likewise the other colonists are conveniently situated as you describe. I have been speaking of the way in which the new citizens may be best managed under present circumstances; but in after-ages, if the city continues to exist, let the election be on this wise. All who are horse or foot soldiers, or have seen military service at the proper ages when they were severally fitted for it, shall share in the election of magistrates; and the election shall be held in whatever temple the state deems most venerable, and every one shall carry his vote to the altar of the God, writing down on a tablet the name of the person for whom he votes, and his father's name, and his tribe, and ward; and at the side he shall write his own name in like manner. Any one who pleases may take away any tablet which he does not think properly filled up, and exhibit it in the Agora for a period of not less than thirty days. The tablets which are judged to be first, to the number of 300, shall be shown by the magistrates to the whole city, and the citizens shall in like manner select from these the candidates whom they prefer; and this second selection, to the number of 100, shall be again exhibited to the citizens; in the third, let any one who pleases select whom pleases out of the 100, walking through the parts of victims, and let them choose for magistrates and proclaim the seven and thirty who have the greatest number of votes. But who, Cleinias and Megillus, will order for us in the colony all this matter of the magistrates, and the scrutinies of them? If we reflect, we shall see that cities which are in process of construction like ours must have some such persons, who cannot possibly be elected before there are any magistrates; and yet they must be elected in some way, and they are not to be inferior men, but the best possible. For as the proverb says, "a good beginning is half the business"; and "to have begun well" is praised by all, and in my opinion is a great deal more than half the business, and has never been praised by any one enough.
Cleinias. That is very true.
Athenian Stranger. Then let us recognize the difficulty, and make clear to our own minds how the beginning is to be accomplished. There is only one proposal which I have to offer, and that is one which, under our circumstances, is both necessary and expedient.
Cleinias. What is it?
Athenian Stranger. I maintain that this colony of ours has a father and mother, who are no other than the colonizing state. Well I know that many colonies have been, and will be, at enmity with their parents. But in early days the child, as in a family, loves and is beloved; even if there come a time later when the tie is broken, still, while he is in want of education, he naturally loves his parents and is beloved by them, and flies to his relatives for protection, and finds in them his only natural allies in time of need; and this parental feeling already exists in the Cnosians, as is shown by their care of the new city; and there is a similar feeling on the part of the young city towards Cnosus. And I repeat what I was saying—for there is no harm in repeating a good thing—that the Cnosians should take a common interest in all these matters, and choose, as far as they can, the eldest and best of the colonists, to the number of not less than a hundred; and let there be another hundred of the Cnosians themselves. These, I say, on their arrival, should have a joint care that the magistrates should be appointed according to law, and that when they are appointed they should undergo a scrutiny. When this has been effected, the Cnosians shall return home, and the new city do the best she can for her own preservation and happiness. I would have the seven-and-thirty now, and in all future time, chosen to fulfill the following duties:—Let them, in the first place, be the guardians of the law; and, secondly, of the registers in which each one registers before the magistrate the amount of his property, excepting four minae which are allowed to citizens of the first class, three allowed to the second, two to the third, and a single mina to the fourth. And if any one, despising the laws for the sake of gain, be found to possess anything more which has not been registered, let all that he has in excess be confiscated, and let him be liable to a suit which shall be the reverse of honorable or fortunate. And let any one who will, indict him on the charge of loving base gains, and proceed against him before the guardians of the law. And if he be cast, let him lose his share of the public possessions, and when there is any public distribution, let him have nothing but his original lot; and let him be written down a condemned man as long as he lives, in some place in which any one who pleases can read about his offenses. The guardian of the law shall not hold office longer than twenty years, and shall not be less than fifty years of age when he is elected; or if he is elected when he is sixty years of age, he shall hold office for ten years only; and upon the same principle, he must not imagine that he will be permitted to hold such an important office as that of guardian of the laws after he is seventy years of age, if he live so long.
These are the three first ordinances about the guardians of the law; as the work of legislation progresses, each law in turn will assign to them their further duties. And now we may proceed in order to speak of the election of other officers; for generals have to be elected, and these again must have their ministers, commanders, and colonels of horse, and commanders of brigades of foot, who would be more rightly called by their popular name of brigadiers. The guardians of the law shall propose as generals men who are natives of the city, and a selection from the candidates proposed shall be made by those who are or have been of the age for military service. And if one who is not proposed is thought by somebody to be better than one who is, let him name whom he prefers in the place of whom, and make oath that he is better, and propose him; and whichever of them is approved by vote shall be admitted to the final selection; and the three who have the greatest number of votes shall be appointed generals, and superintendents of military affairs, after previously undergoing a scrutiny, like the guardians of the law. And let the generals thus elected propose twelve brigadiers, one for each tribe; and there shall be a right of counterproposal as in the case of the generals, and the voting and decision shall take place in the same way. Until the prytanes and council are elected, the guardians of the law shall convene the assembly in some holy spot which is suitable to the purpose, placing the hoplites by themselves, and the cavalry by themselves, and in a third division all the rest of the army. All are to vote for the generals [and for the colonels of horse], but the brigadiers are to be voted for only by those who carry shields [i.e. the hoplites]. Let the body of cavalry choose phylarchs for the generals; but captains of light troops, or archers, or any other division of the army, shall be appointed by the generals for themselves. There only remains the appointment of officers of cavalry: these shall be proposed by the same persons who proposed the generals, and the election and the counter-proposal of other candidates shall be arranged in the same way as in the case of the generals, and let the cavalry vote and the infantry look on at the election; the two who have the greatest number of votes shall be the leaders of all the horse. Disputes about the voting may be raised once or twice; but if the dispute be raised a third time, the officers who preside at the several elections shall decide.
The council shall consist of 30 x 12 members,—360 will be a convenient number for sub-division. If we divide the whole number into four parts of ninety each, we get ninety counsellors for each class. First, all the citizens shall select candidates from the first class; they shall be compelled to vote, and, if they do not, shall be duly fined. When the candidates have been selected, some one shall mark them down; this shall be the business of the first day. And on the following day, candidates shall be selected from the second class in the same manner and under the same conditions as on the previous day; and on the third day a selection shall be made from the third class, at which every one may, if he likes, vote, and the three first classes shall be compelled to vote; but the fourth and lowest class shall be under no compulsion, and any member of this class who does not vote shall not be punished. On the fourth day candidates shall be selected from the fourth and smallest class; they shall be selected by all, but he who is of the fourth class shall suffer no penalty, nor he who is of the third, if he be not willing to vote; but he who is of the first or second class, if he does not vote shall be punished;—he who is of the second class shall pay a fine of triple the amount which was exacted at first, and he who is of the first class quadruple. On the fifth day the rulers shall bring out the names noted down, for all the citizens to see, and every man shall choose out of them, under pain, if he do not, of suffering the first penalty; and when they have chosen out of each of the classes, they shall choose one-half of them by lot, who shall undergo a scrutiny:—These are to form the council for the year.
The mode of election which has been described is in a mean between monarchy and democracy, and such a mean the state ought always to observe; for servants and masters never can be friends, nor good and bad, merely because they are declared to have equal privileges. For to unequals equals become unequal, if they are not harmonized by measure; and both by reason of equality, and by reason of inequality, cities are filled with seditions. The old saying, that "equality makes friendship," is happy and also true; but there is obscurity and confusion as to what sort of equality is meant. For there are two equalities which are called by the same name, but are in reality in many ways almost the opposite of one another; one of them may be introduced without difficulty, by any state or any legislator in the distribution of honors: this is the rule of measure, weight, and number, which regulates and apportions them. But there is another equality, of a better and higher kind, which is not so easily recognized. This is the judgment of Zeus; among men it avails but little; that little, however, is the source of the greatest good to individuals and states. For it gives to the greater more, and to the inferior less and in proportion to the nature of each; and, above all, greater honor always to the greater virtue, and to the less less; and to either in proportion to their respective measure of virtue and education. And this is justice, and is ever the true principle of states, at which we ought to aim, and according to this rule order the new city which is now being founded, and any other city which may be hereafter founded. To this the legislator should look,—not to the interests of tyrants one or more, or to the power of the people, but to justice always; which, as I was saying, is the distribution of natural equality among unequals in each case. But there are times at which every state is compelled to use the words, "just," "equal," in a secondary sense, in the hope of escaping in some degree from factions. For equity and indulgence are infractions of the perfect and strict rule of justice. And this is the reason why we are obliged to use the equality of the lot, in order to avoid the discontent of the people; and so we invoke God and fortune in our prayers, and beg that they themselves will direct the lot with a view to supreme justice. And therefore, although we are compelled to use both equalities, we should use that into which the element of chance enters as seldom as possible.
Thus, O my friends, and for the reasons given, should a state act which would endure and be saved. But as a ship sailing on the sea has to be watched night and day, in like manner a city also is sailing on a sea of politics, and is liable to all sorts of insidious assaults; and therefore from morning to night, and from night to morning, rulers must join hands with rulers, and watchers with watchers, receiving and giving up their trust in a perpetual succession. Now a multitude can never fulfill a duty of this sort with anything like energy. Moreover, the greater number of the senators will have to be left during the greater part of the year to order their concerns at their own homes. They will therefore have to be arranged in twelve portions, answering to the twelve months, and furnish guardians of the state, each portion for a single month. Their business is to be at hand and receive any foreigner or citizen who comes to them, whether to give information, or to put one of those questions, to which, when asked by other cities, a city should give an answer, and to which, if she ask them herself, she should receive an answer; or again, when there is a likelihood of internal commotions, which are always liable to happen in some form or other, they will, if they can, prevent their occurring; or if they have already occurred, will lose no time in making them known to the city, and healing the evil. Wherefore, also, this which is the presiding body of the state ought always to have the control of their assemblies, and of the dissolutions of them, ordinary as well as extraordinary. All this is to be ordered by the twelfth part of the council, which is always to keep watch together with the other officers of the state during one portion of the year, and to rest during the remaining eleven portions.
Thus will the city be fairly ordered. And now, who is to have the superintendence of the country, and what shall be the arrangement? Seeing that the whole city and the entire country have been both of them divided into twelve portions, ought there not to be appointed superintendents of the streets of the city, and of the houses, and buildings, and harbors, and the agora, and fountains, and sacred domains, and temples, and the like?
Cleinias. To be sure there ought.
Athenian Stranger. Let us assume, then, that there ought to be servants of the temples, and priests and priestesses. There must also be superintendents of roads and buildings, who will have a care of men, that they may do no harm, and also of beasts, both within the enclosure and in the suburbs. Three kinds of officers will thus have to be appointed, in order that the city may be suitably provided according to her needs. Those who have the care of the city shall be called wardens of the city; and those who have the care of the agora shall be called wardens of the agora; and those who have the care of the temples shall be called priests. Those who hold hereditary offices as priests or priestesses, shall not be disturbed; but if there be few or none such, as is probable at the foundation of a new city, priests and priestesses shall be appointed to be servants of the Gods who have no servants. Some of our officers shall be elected, and others appointed by lot, those who are of the people and those who are not of the people mingling in a friendly manner in every place and city, that the state may be as far as possible of one mind. The officers of the temples shall be appointed by lot; in this way their election will be committed to God, that he may do what is agreeable to him. And he who obtains a lot shall undergo a scrutiny, first, as to whether he is sound of body and of legitimate birth; and in the second place, in order to show that he is of a perfectly pure family, not stained with homicide or any similar impiety in his own person, and also that his father and mother have led a similar unstained life. Now the laws about all divine things should be brought from Delphi, and interpreters appointed, under whose direction they should be used. The tenure of the priesthood should always be for a year and no longer; and he who will duly execute the sacred office, according to the laws of religion, must be not less than sixty years of age,—the laws shall be the same about priestesses. As for the interpreters, they shall be appointed thus:—Let the twelve tribes be distributed into groups of four, and let each group select four, one out of each tribe within the group, three times; and let the three who have the greatest number of votes [out of the twelve appointed by each group], after undergoing a scrutiny, nine in all, be sent to Delphi, in order that the God may return one out of each triad; their age shall be the same as that of the priests, and the scrutiny of them shall be conducted in the same manner; let them be interpreters for life, and when any one dies let the four tribes select another from the tribe of the deceased. Moreover, besides priests and interpreters, there must be treasurers, who will take charge of the property of the several temples, and of the sacred domains, and shall have authority over the produce and the letting of them; and three of them shall be chosen from the highest classes for the greater temples, and two for the lesser, and one for the least of all; the manner of their election and the scrutiny of them shall be the same as that of the generals. This shall be the order of the temples.
Let everything have a guard as far as possible. Let the defense of the city be committed to the generals, and taxiarchs, and hipparchs, and phylarchs, and prytanes, and the wardens of the city, and of the agora, when the election of them has been completed. The defense of the country shall be provided for as follows:—The entire land has been already distributed into twelve as nearly as possible equal parts, and let the tribe allotted to a division provide annually for it five wardens of the country and commanders of the watch; and let each body of five have the power of selecting twelve others out of the youth of their own tribe—these shall be not less than twenty-five years of age, and not more than thirty. And let there be allotted to them severally every month the various districts, in order that they may all acquire knowledge and experience of the whole country. The term of service for commanders and for watchers shall continue during two years. After having had their stations allotted to them, they will go from place to place in regular order, making their round from left to right as their commanders direct them; (when I speak of going to the right, I mean that they are to go to the east). And at the commencement of the second year, in order that as many as possible of the guards may not only get a knowledge of the country at any one season of the year, but may also have experience of the manner in which different places are affected at different seasons of the year, their then commanders shall lead them again towards the left, from place to place in succession, until they have completed the second year. In the third year other wardens of the country shall be chosen and commanders of the watch, five for each division, who are to be the superintendents of the bands of twelve. While on service at each station, their attention shall be directed to the following points:—In the first place, they shall see that the country is well protected against enemies; they shall trench and dig wherever this is required, and, as far as they can, they shall by fortifications keep off the evil-disposed, in order to prevent them from doing any harm to the country or the property; they shall use the beasts of burden and the laborers whom they find on the spot: these will be their instruments whom they will superintend, taking them, as far as possible, at the times when they are not engaged in their regular business. They shall make every part of the country inaccessible to enemies, and as accessible as possible to friends; there shall be ways for man and beasts of burden and for cattle, and they shall take care to have them always as smooth as they can; and shall provide against the rains doing harm instead of good to the land, when they come down from the mountains into the hollow dells; and shall keep in the overflow by the help of works and ditches, in order that the valleys, receiving and drinking up the rain from heaven, and providing fountains and streams in the fields and regions which lie underneath, may furnish even to the dry places plenty of good water. The fountains of water, whether of rivers or of springs, shall be ornamented with plantations and buildings for beauty; and let them bring together the streams in subterraneous channels, and make all things plenteous; and if there be a sacred grove or dedicated precinct in the neighborhood, they shall conduct the water to the actual temples of the Gods, and so beautify them at all seasons of the year. Everywhere in such places the youth shall make gymnasia for themselves, and warm baths for the aged, placing by them abundance of dry wood, for the benefit of those laboring under disease—there the weary frame of the rustic, worn with toil, will receive a kindly welcome, far better than he would at the hands of a not over-wise doctor.
The building of these and the like works will be useful and ornamental; they will provide a pleasing amusement, but they will be a serious employment too; for the sixty wardens will have to guard their several divisions, not only with a view to enemies, but also with an eye to professing friends. When a quarrel arises among neighbors or citizens, and any one, whether slave or freeman wrongs another, let the five wardens decide small matters on their own authority; but where the charge against another relates to greater matters, the seventeen composed of the fives and twelves, shall determine any charges which one man brings against another, not involving more than three minae. Every judge and magistrate shall be liable to give an account of his conduct in office, except those who, like kings, have the final decision. Moreover, as regards the aforesaid wardens of the country, if they do any wrong to those of whom they have the care, whether by imposing upon them unequal tasks, or by taking the produce of the soil or implements of husbandry without their consent; also if they receive anything in the way of a bribe, or decide suits unjustly, or if they yield to the influences of flattery, let them be publicly dishonored; and in regard to any other wrong which they do to the inhabitants of the country, if the question be of a mina, let them submit to the decision of the villagers in the neighborhood; but in suits of greater amount, or in case of lesser, if they refuse to submit, trusting that their monthly removal into another part of the country will enable them to escape—in such cases the injured party may bring his suit in the common court, and if he obtain a verdict he may exact from the defendant, who refused to submit, a double penalty.
The wardens and the overseers of the country, while on their two years service, shall have common meals at their several stations, and shall all live together; and he who is absent from the common meal, or sleeps out, if only for one day or night, unless by order of his commanders, or by reason of absolute necessity, if the five denounce him and inscribe his name in the agora as not having kept his guard, let him be deemed to have betrayed the city, as far as lay in his power, and let him be disgraced and beaten with impunity by any one who meets him and is willing to punish him. If any of the commanders is guilty of such an irregularity, the whole company of sixty shall see to it, and he who is cognizant of the offense, and does not bring the offender to trial, shall be amenable to the same laws as the younger offender himself, and shall pay a heavier fine, and be incapable of ever commanding the young. The guardians of the law are to be careful inspectors of these matters, and shall either prevent or punish offenders. Every man should remember the universal rule, that he who is not a good servant will not be a good master; a man should pride himself more upon serving well than upon commanding well: first upon serving the laws, which is also the service of the Gods; in the second place, upon having served ancient and honorable men in the days of his youth. Furthermore, during the two years in which any one is a warden of the country, his daily food ought to be of a simple and humble kind. When the twelve have been chosen, let them and the five meet together, and determine that they will be their own servants, and, like servants, will not have other slaves and servants for their own use, neither will they use those of the villagers and husbandmen for their private advantage, but for the public service only; and in general they should make up their minds to live independently by themselves, servants of each other and of themselves. Further, at all seasons of the year, summer and winter alike, let them be under arms and survey minutely the whole country; thus they will at once keep guard, and at the same time acquire a perfect knowledge of every locality. There can be no more important kind of information than the exact knowledge of a man's own country; and for this as well as for more general reasons of pleasure and advantage, hunting with dogs and other kinds of sports should be pursued by the young. The service to whom this is committed may be called the secret police, or wardens of the country; the name does not much signify, but every one who has the safety of the state at heart will use his utmost diligence in this service.
After the wardens of the country, we have to speak of the election of wardens of the agora and of the city. The wardens of the country were sixty in number, and the wardens of the city will be three, and will divide the twelve parts of the city into three; like the former, they shall have care of the ways, and of the different high roads which lead out of the country into the city, and of the buildings, that they may be all made according to law;—also of the waters, which the guardians of the supply preserve and convey to them, care being taken that they may reach the fountains pure and abundant, and be both an ornament and a benefit to the city. These also should be men of influence, and at leisure to take care of the public interest. Let every man propose as warden of the city any one whom he likes out of the highest class, and when the vote has been given on them, and the number is reduced to the six who have the greatest number of votes, let the electing officers choose by lot three out of the six, and when they have undergone a scrutiny let them hold office according to the laws laid down for them. Next, let the wardens of the agora be elected in like manner, out of the first and second class, five in number: ten are to be first elected, and out of the ten five are to be chosen by lot, as in the election of the wardens of the city:—these when they have undergone a scrutiny are to be declared magistrates. Every one shall vote for every one, and he who will not vote, if he be informed against before the magistrates, shall be fined fifty drachmae, and shall also be deemed a bad citizen. Let any one who likes go to the assembly and to the general council; it shall be compulsory to go on citizens of the first and second class, and they shall pay a fine of ten drachmae if they be found not answering to their names at the assembly. the third and fourth class shall be under no compulsion, and shall be let off without a fine, unless the magistrates have commanded all to be present, in consequence of some urgent necessity. The wardens of the agora shall observe the order appointed by law for the agora, and shall have the charge of the temples and fountains which are in the agora; and they shall see that no one injures anything, and punish him who does, with stripes and bonds, if he be a slave or stranger; but if he be a citizen who misbehaves in this way, they shall have the power themselves of inflicting a fine upon him to the amount of a hundred drachmae, or with the consent of the wardens of the city up to double that amount. And let the wardens of the city have a similar power of imposing punishments and fines in their own department; and let them impose fines by their own department; and let them impose fines by their own authority, up to a mina, or up to two minae with the consent of the wardens of the agora.
In the next place, it will be proper to appoint directors of music and gymnastic, two kinds of each—of the one kind the business will be education, of the other, the superintendence of contests. In speaking of education, the law means to speak of those who have the care of order and instruction in gymnasia and schools, and of the going to school, and of school buildings for boys and girls; and in speaking of contests, the law refers to the judges of gymnastics and of music; these again are divided into two classes, the one having to do with music, the other with gymnastics; and the same who judge of the gymnastic contests of men, shall judge of horses; but in music there shall be one set of judges of solo singing, and of imitation—I mean of rhapsodists, players on the harp, the flute and the like, and another who shall judge of choral song. First of all, we must choose directors for the choruses of boys, and men, and maidens, whom they shall follow in the amusement of the dance, and for our other musical arrangements;—one director will be enough for the choruses, and he should be not less than forty years of age. One director will also be enough to introduce the solo singers, and to give judgment on the competitors, and he ought not to be less than thirty years of age. The director and manager of the choruses shall be elected after the following manner:—Let any persons who commonly take an interest in such matters go to the meeting, and be fined if they do not go (the guardians of the law shall judge of their fault), but those who have no interest shall not be compelled. The elector shall propose as director some one who understands music, and he in the scrutiny may be challenged on the one part by those who say he has no skill, and defended on the other hand by those who say that he has. Ten are to be elected by vote, and he of the ten who is chosen by lot shall undergo a scrutiny, and lead the choruses for a year according to law. And in like manner the competitor who wins the lot shall be leader of the solo and concert music for that year; and he who is thus elected shall deliver the award to the judges. In the next place, we have to choose judges in the contests of horses and of men; these shall be selected from the third and also from the second class of citizens, and three first classes shall be compelled to go to the election, but the lowest may stay away with impunity; and let there be three elected by lot out of the twenty who have been chosen previously, and they must also have the vote and approval of the examiners. But if any one is rejected in the scrutiny at any ballot or decision, others shall be chosen in the same manner, and undergo a similar scrutiny.
There remains the minister of the education of youth, male and female; he too will rule according to law; one such minister will be sufficient, and he must be fifty years old, and have children lawfully begotten, both boys and girls by preference, at any rate, one or the other. He who is elected, and he who is the elector, should consider that of all the great offices of state, this is the greatest; for the first shoot of any plant, if it makes a good start towards the attainment of its natural excellence, has the greatest effect on its maturity; and this is not only true of plants, but of animals wild and tame, and also of men. Man, as we say, is a tame or civilized animal; nevertheless, he requires proper instruction and a fortunate nature, and then of all animals he becomes the most divine and most civilized; but if he be insufficiently or ill educated he is the most savage of earthly creatures. Wherefore the legislator ought not to allow the education of children to become a secondary or accidental matter. In the first place, he who would be rightly provident about them, should begin by taking care that he is elected, who of all the citizens is in every way best; him the legislator shall do his utmost to appoint guardian and superintendent. To this end all the magistrates, with the exception of the council and prytanes, shall go to the temple of Apollo, and elect by ballot him of the guardians of the law whom they severally think will be the best superintendent of education. And he who has the greatest number of votes, after he has undergone a scrutiny at the hands of all the magistrates who have been his electors, with the exception of the guardians of the law,—shall hold office for five years; and in the sixth year let another be chosen in like manner to fill his office.
If any one dies while he is holding a public office, and more than thirty days before his term of office expires, let those whose business it is elect another to the office in the same manner as before. And if any one who is entrusted with orphans dies, let the relations both on the father's and mother's side, who are residing at home, including cousins, appoint another guardian within ten days, or be fined a drachma a day for neglect to do so.
A city which has no regular courts of law ceases to be a city; and again, if a judge is silent and says no more in preliminary proceedings than the litigants, as is the case in arbitrations, he will never be able to decide justly; wherefore a multitude of judges will not easily judge well, nor a few if they are bad. The point in dispute between the parties should be made clear; and time, and deliberation, and repeated examination, greatly tend to clear up doubts. For this reason, he who goes to law with another should go first of all to his neighbors and friends who know best the questions at issue. And if he be unable to obtain from them a satisfactory decision, let him have recourse to another court; and if the two courts cannot settle the matter, let a third put an end to the suit.
Now the establishment of courts of justice may be regarded as a choice of magistrates, for every magistrate must also be a judge of some things; and the judge, though he be not a magistrate, yet in certain respects is a very important magistrate on the day on which he is determining a suit. Regarding then the judges also as magistrates, let us say who are fit to be judges, and of what they are to be judges, and how many of them are to judge in each suit. Let that be the supreme tribunal which the litigants appoint in common for themselves, choosing certain persons by agreement. And let there be two other tribunals: one for private causes, when a citizen accuses another of wronging him and wishes to get a decision; the other for public causes, in which some citizen is of opinion that the public has been wronged by an individual, and is willing to vindicate the common interests. And we must not forget to mention how the judges are to be qualified, and who they are to be. In the first place, let there be a tribunal open to all private persons who are trying causes one against another for the third time, and let this be composed as follows:—All the officers of state, as well annual as those holding office for a longer period, when the new year is about to commence, in the month following after the summer solstice, on the last day but one of the year, shall meet in some temple, and calling God to witness, shall dedicate one judge from every magistracy to be their first-fruits, choosing in each office him who seems to them to be the best, and whom they deem likely to decide the causes of his fellow-citizens during the ensuing year in the best and holiest manner. And when the election is completed, a scrutiny shall be held in the presence of the electors themselves, and if any one be rejected another shall be chosen in the same manner. Those who have undergone the scrutiny shall judge the causes of those who have declined the inferior courts, and shall give their vote openly. The councillors and other magistrates who have elected them shall be required to be hearers and spectators of the causes; and any one else may be present who pleases. If one man charges another with having intentionally decided wrong, let him go to the guardians of the law and lay his accusation before them, and he who is found guilty in such a case shall pay damages to the injured party equal to half the injury; but if he shall appear to deserve a greater penalty, the judges shall determine what additional punishment he shall suffer, and how much more he ought to pay to the public treasury, and to the party who brought the suit.
In the judgment of offenses against the state, the people ought to participate, for when any one wrongs the state all are wronged, and may reasonably complain if they are not allowed to share in the decision. Such causes ought to originate with the people, and they ought also to have the final decision of them, but the trial of them shall take place before three of the highest magistrates, upon whom the plaintiff and the defendant shall agree; and if they are not able to come to an agreement themselves, the council shall choose one of the two proposed. And in private suits, too, as far as is possible, all should have a share; for he who has no share in the administration of justice, is apt to imagine that he has no share in the state at all. And for this reason there shall be a court of law in every tribe, and the judges shall be chosen by lot;—they shall give their decisions at once, and shall be inaccessible to entreaties. The final judgment shall rest with that court which, as we maintain, has been established in the most incorruptible form of which human things admit: this shall be the court established for those who are unable to get rid of their suits either in the courts of neighbors or of the tribes.
Thus much of the courts of law, which, as I was saying, cannot be precisely defined either as being or not being offices; a superficial sketch has been given of them, in which some things have been told and others omitted. For the right place of an exact statement of the laws respecting suits, under their several heads, will be at the end of the body of legislation;—let us then expect them at the end. Hitherto our legislation has been chiefly occupied with the appointment of offices. Perfect unity and exactness, extending to the whole and every particular of political administration, cannot be attained to the full, until the discussion shall have a beginning, middle, and end, and is complete in every part. At present we have reached the election of magistrates, and this may be regarded as a sufficient termination of what preceded. And now there need no longer be any delay or hesitation in beginning the work of legislation.
Cleinias. I like what you have said, Stranger; and I particularly like your manner of tacking on the beginning of your new discourse to the end of the former one.
Athenian Stranger. Thus far, then, the old men's rational pastime has gone off well.
Cleinias. You mean, I suppose, their serious and noble pursuit?
Athenian Stranger. Perhaps; but I should like to know whether you and I are agreed about a certain thing.
Cleinias. About what thing?
Athenian Stranger. You know the endless labor which painters expend upon their pictures—they are always putting in or taking out colors, or whatever be the term which artists employ; they seem as if they would never cease touching up their works, which are always being made brighter and more beautiful.
Cleinias. I know something of these matters from report, although I have never had any great acquaintance with the art.
Athenian Stranger. No matter; we may make use of the illustration notwithstanding:—Suppose that some one had a mind to paint a figure in the most beautiful manner, in the hope that his work instead of losing would always improve as time went on—do you not see that being a mortal, unless he leaves some one to succeed him who will correct the flaws which time may introduce, and be able to add what is left imperfect through the defect of the artist, and who will further brighten up and improve the picture, all his great labor will last but a short time?
Athenian Stranger. And is not the aim of the legislator similar? First, he desires that his laws should be written down with all possible exactness; in the second place, as time goes on and he has made an actual trial of his decrees, will he not find omissions? Do you imagine that there ever was a legislator so foolish as not to know that many things are necessarily omitted, which some one coming after him must correct, if the constitution and the order of government is not to deteriorate, but to improve in the state which he has established?
Cleinias. Assuredly, that is the sort of thing which every one would desire.
Athenian Stranger. And if any one possesses any means of accomplishing this by word or deed, or has any way great or small by which he can teach a person to understand how he can maintain and amend the laws, he should finish what he has to say, and not leave the work incomplete.
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. And is not this what you and I have to do at the present moment?
Cleinias. What have we to do?
Athenian Stranger. As we are about to legislate and have chosen our guardians of the law, and are ourselves in the evening of life, and they as compared with us are young men, we ought not only to legislate for them, but to endeavor to make them not only guardians of the law but legislators themselves, as far as this is possible.
Cleinias. Certainly; if we can.
Athenian Stranger. At any rate, we must do our best.
Cleinias. Of course.
Athenian Stranger. We will say to them,—O friends and saviors of our laws, in laying down any law, there are many particulars which we shall omit, and this cannot be helped; at the same time, we will do our utmost to describe what is important, and will give an outline which you shall fill up. And I will explain on what principle you are to act. Megillus and Cleinias and I have often spoken to one another touching these matters, and we are of opinion that we have spoken well. And we hope that you will be of the same mind with us, and become our disciples, and keep in view the things which in our united opinion the legislator and guardian of the law ought to keep in view. There was one main point about which we were agreed—that a man's whole energies throughout life should be devoted to the acquisition of the virtue proper to a man, whether this was to be gained by study, or habit, or some mode of acquisition, or desire, or opinion, or knowledge—and this applies equally to men and women, old and young—the aim of all should always be such as I have described; anything which may be an impediment, the good man ought to show that he utterly disregards. And if at last necessity plainly compels him to be an outlaw from his native land, rather than bow his neck to the yoke of slavery and be ruled by inferiors, and he has to fly, an exile he must be and endure all such trials, rather than accept another form of government, which is likely to make men worse. These are our original principles; and do you now, fixing your eyes upon the standard of what a man and a citizen ought or ought not to be, praise and blame the laws—blame those which have not this power of making the citizen better, but embrace those which have; and with gladness receive and live in them; bidding a long farewell to other institutions which aim at goods, as they are termed, of a different kind.
Let us proceed to another class of laws, beginning with their foundation in religion. And we must first return to the number 5040—the entire number had, and has, a great many convenient divisions, and the number of the tribes which was a twelfth part of the whole, being correctly formed by 21 X 20 [5040/(21 X 20), i.e., 5040/420=12], also has them. And not only is the whole number divisible by twelve, but also the number of each tribe is divisible by twelve. Now every portion should be regarded by us as a sacred gift of Heaven, corresponding to the months and to the revolution of the universe. Every city has a guiding and sacred principle given by nature, but in some the division or distribution has been more right than in others, and has been more sacred and fortunate. In our opinion, nothing can be more right than the selection of the number 5040, which may be divided by all numbers from one to twelve with the single exception of eleven, and that admits of a very easy correction; for if, turning to the dividend (5040), we deduct two families, the defect in the division is cured. And the truth of this may be easily proved when we have leisure. But for the present, trusting to the mere assertion of this principle, let us divide the state; and assigning to each portion some God or son of a God, let us give them altars and sacred rites, and at the altars let us hold assemblies for sacrifice twice in the month—twelve assemblies for the tribes, and twelve for the city, according to their divisions; the first in honor of the Gods and divine things, and the second to promote friendship and "better acquaintance," as the phrase is, and every sort of good fellowship with one another. For people must be acquainted with those into whose families and whom they marry and with those to whom they give in marriage; in such matters, as far as possible, a man should deem it all important to avoid a mistake, and with this serious purpose let games be instituted in which youths and maidens shall dance together, seeing one another and being seen naked, at a proper age, and on a suitable occasion, not transgressing the rules of modesty.
The directors of choruses will be the superintendents and regulators of these games, and they, together with the guardians of the law, will legislate in any matters which we have omitted; for, as we said, where there are numerous and minute details, the legislator must leave out something. And the annual officers who have experience, and know what is wanted, must make arrangements and improvements year by year, until such enactments and provisions are sufficiently determined. A ten years experience of sacrifices and dances, if extending to all particulars, will be quite sufficient; and if the legislator be alive they shall communicate with him, but if he be dead then the several officers shall refer the omissions which come under their notice to the guardians of the law, and correct them, until all is perfect; and from that time there shall be no more change, and they shall establish and use the new laws with the others which the legislator originally gave them, and of which they are never, if they can help, to change aught; or, if some necessity overtakes them, the magistrates must be called into counsel, and the whole people, and they must go to all the oracles of the Gods; and if they are all agreed, in that case they may make the change, but if they are not agreed, by no manner of means, and any one who dissents shall prevail, as the law ordains. Whenever any one over twenty-five years of age, having seen and been seen by others, believes himself to have found a marriage connection which is to his mind, and suitable for the procreation of children, let him marry if he be still under the age of five-and-thirty years; but let him first hear how he ought to seek after what is suitable and appropriate. For, as Cleinias says, every law should have a suitable prelude.
Cleinias. You recollect at the right moment, Stranger, and do not miss the opportunity which the argument affords of saying a word in season.
Athenian Stranger. I thank you. We will say to him who is born of good parents,—O my son, you ought to make such a marriage as wise men would approve. Now they would advise you neither to avoid a poor marriage, nor specially to desire a rich one; but if other things are equal, always to honor inferiors, and with them to form connections;—this will be for the benefit of the city and of the families which are united; for the equable and symmetrical tends infinitely more to virtue than the unmixed. And he who is conscious of being too headstrong, and carried away more than is fitting in all his actions, ought to desire to become the relation of orderly parents; and he who is of the opposite temper ought to seek the opposite alliance. Let there be one word concerning all marriages:—Every man shall follow, not after the marriage which is most pleasing to himself, but after that which is most beneficial to the state. For somehow every one is by nature prone to that which is likest to himself, and in this way the whole city becomes unequal in property and in disposition; and hence there arise in most states the very results which we least desire to happen. Now, to add to the law an express provision, not only that the rich man shall not marry into the rich family, nor the powerful into the family of the powerful, but that the slower natures shall be compelled to enter into marriage with the quicker, and the quicker with the slower, may awaken anger as well as laughter in the minds of many; for there is a difficulty in perceiving that the city ought to be well mingled like a cup, in which the maddening wine is hot and fiery, but when chastened by a soberer God, receives a fair associate and becomes an excellent and temperate drink. Yet in marriage no one is able to see that the same result occurs. Wherefore also the law must let alone such matters, but we should try to charm the spirits of men into believing the equability of their children's disposition to be of more importance than equality in excessive fortune when they marry; and him who is too desirous of making a rich marriage we should endeavor to turn aside by reproaches, not, however, by any compulsion of written law.
Let this then be our exhortation concerning marriage, and let us remember what was said before—that a man should cling to immortality, and leave behind him children's children to be the servants of God in his place for ever. All this and much more may be truly said by way of prelude about the duty of marriage. But if a man will not listen and remains unsocial and alien among his fellow-citizens, and is still unmarried at thirty-five years of age, let him pay a yearly fine;—he who is of the highest class shall pay a fine of a hundred drachmae, and he who is of the second class a fine of seventy drachmae; the third class shall pay sixty drachmae, and the fourth thirty drachmae, and let the money be sacred to Here; he who does not pay the fine annually shall owe ten times the sum, which the treasurer of the goddess shall exact; and if he fails in doing so, let him be answerable and give an account of the money at his audit. He who refuses to marry shall be thus punished in money, and also be deprived of all honor which the younger show to the elder; let no young man voluntarily obey him, and if he attempt to punish any one, let every one come to the rescue and defend the injured person, and he who is present and does not come to the rescue, shall be pronounced by the law to be a coward and a bad citizen. Of the marriage portion I have already spoken; and again I say for the instruction of poor men that he who neither gives nor receives a dowry on account of poverty, has a compensation; for the citizens of our state are provided with the necessaries of life, and wives will be less likely to be insolent, and husbands to be mean and subservient to them on account of property. And he who obeys this law will do a noble action; but he who will not obey, and gives or receives more than fifty drachmae as the price of the marriage garments if he be of the lowest, or more than a mina, or a mina and-a-half, if he be of the third or second classes, or two minae if he be of the highest class, shall owe to the public treasury a similar sum, and that which is given or received shall be sacred to Here and Zeus; and let the treasurers of these Gods exact the money, as was said before about the unmarried—that the treasurers of Here were to exact the money, or pay the fine themselves.
The betrothal by a father shall be valid in the first degree, that by a grandfather in the second degree, and in the third degree, betrothal by brothers who have the same father; but if there are none of these alive, the betrothal by a mother shall be valid in like manner; in cases of unexampled fatality, the next of kin and the guardians shall have authority. What are to be the rites before marriages, or any other sacred acts, relating either to future, present, or past marriages, shall be referred to the interpreters; and he who follows their advice may be satisfied. Touching the marriage festival, they shall assemble not more than five male and five female friends of both families; and a like number of members of the family of either sex, and no man shall spend more than his means will allow; he who is of the richest class may spend a mina,—he who is of the second, half a mina, and in the same proportion as the census of each decreases: all men shall praise him who is obedient to the law; but he who is disobedient shall be punished by the guardians of the law as a man wanting in true taste, and uninstructed in the laws of bridal song. Drunkenness is always improper, except at the festivals of the God who gave wine; and peculiarly dangerous, when a man is engaged in the business of marriage; at such a crisis of their lives a bride and bridegroom ought to have all their wits about them—they ought to take care that their offspring may be born of reasonable beings; for on what day or night Heaven will give them increase, who can say? Moreover, they ought not to be begetting children when their bodies are dissipated by intoxication, but their offspring should be compact and solid, quiet and compounded properly; whereas the drunkard is all abroad in all his actions, and beside himself both in body and soul. Wherefore, also, the drunken man is bad and unsteady in sowing the seed of increase, and is likely to beget offspring who will be unstable and untrustworthy, and cannot be expected to walk straight either in body or mind. Hence during the whole year and all his life long, and especially while he is begetting children, he ought to take care and not intentionally do what is injurious to health, or what involves insolence and wrong; for he cannot help leaving the impression of himself on the souls and bodies of his offspring, and he begets children in every way inferior. And especially on the day and night of marriage should a man abstain from such things. For the beginning, which is also a God dwelling in man, preserves all things, if it meet with proper respect from each individual. He who marries is further to consider that one of the two houses in the lot is the nest and nursery of his young, and there he is to marry and make a home for himself and bring up his children, going away from his father and mother. For in friendships there must be some degree of desire, in order to cement and bind together diversities of character; but excessive intercourse not having the desire which is created by time, insensibly dissolves friendships from a feeling of satiety; wherefore a man and his wife shall leave to his and her father and mother their own dwelling-places, and themselves go as to a colony and dwell there, and visit and be visited by their parents; and they shall beget and bring up children, handing on the torch of life from one generation to another, and worshipping the Gods according to law for ever.
In the next place, we have to consider what sort of property will be most convenient. There is no difficulty either in understanding or acquiring most kinds of property, but there is great difficulty in what relates to slaves. And the reason is that we speak about them in a way which is right and which is not right; for what we say about our slaves is consistent and also inconsistent with our practice about them.
Megillus. I do not understand, Stranger, what you mean.
Athenian Stranger. I am not surprised, Megillus, for the state of the Helots among the Lacedaemonians is of all Hellenic forms of slavery the most controverted and disputed about, some approving and some condemning it; there is less dispute about the slavery which exists among the Heracleots, who have subjugated the Mariandynians, and about the Thessalian Penestae. Looking at these and the like examples, what ought we to do concerning property in slaves? I made a remark, in passing, which naturally elicited a question about my meaning from you. It was this:—We know that all would agree that we should have the best and most attached slaves whom we can get. For many a man has found his slaves better in every way than brethren or sons, and many times they have saved the lives and property of their masters and their whole house—such tales are well known.
Megillus. To be sure.
Athenian Stranger. But may we not also say that the soul of the slave is utterly corrupt, and that no man of sense ought to trust them? And the wisest of our poets, speaking of Zeus, says:
'Far-seeing Zeus takes away half the understanding of men whom the day of slavery subdues.'
Different persons have got these two different notions of slaves in their minds—some of them utterly distrust their servants, and, as if they were wild beasts, chastise them with goads and whips, and make their souls three times, or rather many times, as slavish as they were before;—and others do just the opposite.
Cleinias. Then what are we to do in our own country, Stranger, seeing that there are such differences in the treatment of slaves by their owners?
Athenian Stranger. Well, Cleinias, there can be no doubt that man is a troublesome animal, and therefore he is not very manageable, nor likely to become so, when you attempt to introduce the necessary division of slave, and freeman, and master.
Cleinias. That is obvious.
Athenian Stranger. He is a troublesome piece of goods, as has been often shown by the frequent revolts of the Messenians, and the great mischiefs which happen in states having many slaves who speak the same language, and the numerous robberies and lawless life of the Italian banditti, as they are called. A man who considers all this is fairly at a loss. Two remedies alone remain to us,—not to have the slaves of the same country, nor if possible, speaking the same language; in this way they will more easily be held in subjection: secondly, we should tend them carefully, not only out of regard to them, but yet more out of respect to ourselves. And the right treatment of slaves is to behave properly to them, and to do to them, if possible, even more justice than to those who are our equals; for he who naturally and genuinely reverences justice, and hates injustice, is discovered in his dealings with any class of men to whom he can easily be unjust. And he who in regard to the natures and actions of his slaves is undefiled by impiety and injustice, will best sow the seeds of virtue in them; and this may be truly said of every master, and tyrant, and of every other having authority in relation to his inferiors. Slaves ought to be punished as they deserve, and not admonished as if they were freemen, which will only make them conceited. The language used to a servant ought always to be that of a command, and we ought not to jest with them, whether they are males or females—this is a foolish way which many people have of setting up their slaves, and making the life of servitude more disagreeable both for them and for their masters.
Athenian Stranger. Now that each of the citizens is provided, as far as possible, with a sufficient number of suitable slaves who can help him in what he has to do, we may next proceed to describe their dwellings.
Cleinias. Very good.
Athenian Stranger. The city being new and hitherto uninhabited, care ought to be taken of all the buildings, and the manner of building each of them, and also of the temples and walls. These, Cleinias, were matters which properly came before the marriages; but, as we are only talking, there is no objection to changing the order. If, however, our plan of legislation is ever to take effect, then the house shall precede the marriage if God so will, and afterwards we will come to the regulations about marriage; but at present we are only describing these matters in a general outline.
Cleinias. Quite true.
Athenian Stranger. The temples are to be placed all round the agora, and the whole city built on the heights in a circle, for the sake of defense and for the sake of purity. Near the temples are to be placed buildings for the magistrates and the courts of law; in these plaintiff and defendant will receive their due, and the places will be regarded as most holy, partly because they have to do with the holy things: and partly because they are the dwelling-places of holy Gods: and in them will be held the courts in which cases of homicide and other trials of capital offenses may fitly take place. As to the walls, Megillus, I agree with Sparta in thinking that they should be allowed to sleep in the earth, and that we should not attempt to disinter them; there is a poetical saying, which is finely expressed, that 'walls ought to be of steel and iron, and not of earth;' besides, how ridiculous of us to be sending out our young men annually into the country to dig and to trench, and to keep off the enemy by fortifications, under the idea that they are not to be allowed to set foot in our territory, and then, that we should surround ourselves with a wall, which, in the first place, is by no means conducive to the health of cities, and is also apt to produce a certain effeminacy in the minds of the inhabitants, inviting men to run thither instead of repelling their enemies, and leading them to imagine that their safety is due not to their keeping guard day and night, but that when they are protected by walls and gates, then they may sleep in safety; as if they were not meant to labor, and did not know that true repose comes from labor, and that disgraceful indolence and a careless temper of mind is only the renewal of trouble. But if men must have walls, the private houses ought to be so arranged from the first that the whole city may be one wall, having all the houses capable of defense by reason of their uniformity and equality towards the streets. The form of the city being that of a single dwelling will have an agreeable aspect, and being easily guarded will be infinitely better for security. Until the original building is completed, these should be the principal objects of the inhabitants; and the wardens of the city should superintend the work, and should impose a fine on him who is negligent; and in all that relates to the city they should have a care of cleanliness, and not allow a private person to encroach upon any public property either by buildings or excavations. Further, they ought to take care that the rains from heaven flow off easily, and of any other matters which may have to be administered either within or without the city. The guardians of the law shall pass any further enactments which their experience may show to be necessary, and supply any other points in which the law may be deficient. And now that these matters, and the buildings about the agora, and the gymnasia, and places of instruction, and theatres, are all ready and waiting for scholars and spectators, let us proceed to the subjects which follow marriage in the order of legislation.
Cleinias. By all means.
Athenian Stranger. Assuming that marriages exist already, Cleinias, the mode of life during the year after marriage, before children are born, will follow next in order. In what way bride and bridegroom ought to live in a city which is to be superior to other cities, is a matter not at all easy for us to determine. There have been many difficulties already, but this will be the greatest of them, and the most disagreeable to the many. Still I cannot but say what appears to me to be right and true, Cleinias.
Athenian Stranger. He who imagines that he can give laws for the public conduct of states, while he leaves the private life of citizens wholly to take care of itself; who thinks that individuals may pass the day as they please, and that there is no necessity of order in all things; he, I say, who gives up the control of their private lives, and supposes that they will conform to law in their common and public life, is making a great mistake. Why have I made this remark? Why, because I am going to enact that the bridegrooms should live at the common tables, just as they did before marriage. This was a singularity when first enacted by the legislator in your parts of the world, Megillus and Cleinias, as I should suppose, on the occasion of some war or other similar danger, which caused the passing of the law, and which would be likely to occur in thinly-peopled places, and in times of pressure. But when men had once tried and been accustomed to a common table, experience showed that the institution greatly conduced to security; and in some such manner the custom of having common tables arose among you.
Cleinias. Likely enough.
Athenian Stranger. I said that there may have been singularity and danger in imposing such a custom at first, but that now there is not the same difficulty. There is, however, another institution which is the natural sequel to this, and would be excellent, if it existed anywhere, but at present it does not. The institution of which I am about to speak is not easily described or executed; and would be like the legislator "combing wool into the fire," as people say, or performing any other impossible and useless feat.
Cleinias. What is the cause, Stranger, of this extreme hesitation?
Athenian Stranger. You shall hear without any fruitless loss of time. That which has law and order in a state is the cause of every good, but that which is disordered or ill-ordered is often the ruin of that which is well-ordered; and at this point the argument is now waiting. For with you, Cleinias and Megillus, the common tables of men are, as I said, a heaven-born and admirable institution, but you are mistaken in leaving the women unregulated by law. They have no similar institution of public tables in the light of day, and just that part of the human race which is by nature prone to secrecy and stealth on account of their weakness—I mean the female sex—has been left without regulation by the legislator, which is a great mistake. And, in consequence of this neglect, many things have grown lax among you, which might have been far better, if they had been only regulated by law; for the neglect of regulations about women may not only be regarded as a neglect of half the entire matter, but in proportion as woman's nature is inferior to that of men in capacity for virtue, in that degree the consequence of such neglect is more than twice as important. The careful consideration of this matter, and the arranging and ordering on a common principle of all our institutions relating both to men and women, greatly conduces to the happiness of the state. But at present, such is the unfortunate condition of mankind, that no man of sense will even venture to speak of common tables in places and cities in which they have never been established at all; and how can any one avoid being utterly ridiculous, who attempts to compel women to show in public how much they eat and drink? There is nothing at which the sex is more likely to take offense. For women are accustomed to creep into dark places, and when dragged out into the light they will exert their utmost powers of resistance, and be far too much for the legislator. And therefore, as I said before, in most places they will not endure to have the truth spoken without raising a tremendous outcry, but in this state perhaps they may. And if we may assume that our whole discussion about the state has not been mere idle talk, I should like to prove to you, if you will consent to listen, that this institution is good and proper; but if you had rather not, I will refrain.
Cleinias. There is nothing which we should both of us like better, Stranger, than to hear what you have to say.
Athenian Stranger. Very good; and you must not be surprised if I go back a little, for we have plenty of leisure, and there is nothing to prevent us from considering in every point of view the subject of law.
Athenian Stranger. Then let us return once more to what we were saying at first. Every man should understand that the human race either had no beginning at all, and will never have an end, but always will be and has been; or that it began an immense while ago.
Athenian Stranger. Well, and have there not been constitutions and destructions of states, and all sorts of pursuits both orderly and disorderly, and diverse desires of meats and drinks always, and in all the world, and all sorts of changes of the seasons in which animals may be expected to have undergone innumerable transformations of themselves?
Cleinias. No doubt.
Athenian Stranger. And may we not suppose that vines appeared, which had previously no existence, and also olives, and the gifts of Demeter and her daughter, of which one Triptolemus was the minister, and that, before these existed, animals took to devouring each other as they do still?
Athenian Stranger. Again, the practice of men sacrificing one another still exists among many nations; while, on the other hand, we hear of other human beings who did not even venture to taste the flesh of a cow and had no animal sacrifices, but only cakes and fruits dipped in honey, and similar pure offerings, but no flesh of animals; from these they abstained under the idea that they ought not to eat them, and might not stain the altars of the Gods with blood. For in those days men are said to have lived a sort of Orphic life, having the use of all lifeless things, but abstaining from all living things.
Cleinias. Such has been the constant tradition, and is very likely true.
Athenian Stranger. Some one might say to us, What is the drift of all this?
Cleinias. A very pertinent question, Stranger.
Athenian Stranger. And therefore I will endeavor, Cleinias, if I can, to draw the natural inference.
Athenian Stranger. I see that among men all things depend upon three wants and desires, of which the end is virtue, if they are rightly led by them, or the opposite if wrongly. Now these are eating and drinking, which begin at birth—every animal has a natural desire for them, and is violently excited, and rebels against him who says that he must not satisfy all his pleasures and appetites, and get rid of all the corresponding pains—and the third and greatest and sharpest want and desire breaks out last, and is the fire of sexual lust, which kindles in men every species of wantonness and madness. And these three disorders we must endeavor to master by the three great principles of fear and law and right reason; turning them away from that which is called pleasantest to the best, using the Muses and the Gods who preside over contests to extinguish their increase and influx.
But to return:—After marriage let us speak of the birth of children, and after their birth of their nurture and education. In the course of discussion the several laws will be perfected, and we shall at last arrive at the common tables. Whether such associations are to be confined to men, or extended to women also, we shall see better when we approach and take a nearer view of them; and we may then determine what previous institutions are required and will have to precede them. As I said before, we shall see them more in detail, and shall be better able to lay down the laws which are proper or suited to them.
Cleinias. Very true.
Athenian Stranger. Let us keep in mind the words which have now been spoken; for hereafter there may be need of them.
Cleinias. What do you bid us keep in mind?
Athenian Stranger. That which we comprehended under the three words—first, eating, secondly, drinking, thirdly, the excitement of love.
Cleinias. We shall be sure to remember, Stranger.
Athenian Stranger. Very good. Then let us now proceed to marriage, and teach persons in what way they shall beget children, threatening them, if they disobey, with the terrors of the law.
Cleinias. What do you mean?
Athenian Stranger. The bride and bridegroom should consider that they are to produce for the state the best and fairest specimens of children which they can. Now all men who are associated in any action always succeed when they attend and give their mind to what they are doing, but when they do not give their mind or have no mind, they fail; wherefore let the bridegroom give his mind to the bride and to the begetting of children, and the bride in like manner give her mind to the bridegroom, and particularly at the time when their children are not yet born. And let the women whom we have chosen be the overseers of such matters, and let them in whatever number, large or small, and at whatever time the magistrates may command, assemble every day in the temple of Eileithyia during a third part of the day, and being there assembled, let them inform one another of any one whom they see, whether man or woman, of those who are begetting children, disregarding the ordinances given at the time when the nuptial sacrifices and ceremonies were performed. Let the begetting of children and the supervision of those who are begetting them continue ten years and no longer, during the time when marriage is fruitful. But if any continue without children up to this time, let them take counsel with their kindred and with the women holding the office of overseer and be divorced for their mutual benefit. If, however, any dispute arises about what is proper and for the interest of either party, they shall choose ten of the guardians of the law and abide by their permission and appointment. The women who preside over these matters shall enter into the houses of the young, and partly by admonitions and partly by threats make them give over their folly and error: if they persist, let the women go and tell the guardians of the law, and the guardians shall prevent them. But if they too cannot prevent them, they shall bring the matter before the people; and let them write up their names and make oath that they cannot reform such and such an one; and let him who is thus written up, if he cannot in a court of law convict those who have inscribed his name, be deprived of the privileges of a citizen in the following respects:—let him not go to weddings nor to the thanksgivings after the birth of children; and if he go, let any one who pleases strike him with impunity; and let the same regulations hold about women: let not a woman be allowed to appear abroad, or receive honor, or go to nuptial and birthday festivals, if she in like manner be written up as acting disorderly and cannot obtain a verdict. And if, when they themselves have done begetting children according to the law, a man or woman have connection with another man or woman who are still begetting children, let the same penalties be inflicted upon them as upon those who are still having a family; and when the time for procreation has passed let the man or woman who refrains in such matters be held in esteem, and let those who do not refrain be held in the contrary of esteem—that is to say, disesteem. Now, if the greater part of mankind behave modestly, the enactments of law may be left to slumber; but, if they are disorderly, the enactments having been passed, let them be carried into execution. To every man the first year is the beginning of life, and the time of birth ought to be written down in the temples of their fathers as the beginning of existence to every child, whether boy or girl. Let every phratria have inscribed on a whited wall the names of the successive archons by whom the years are reckoned. And near to them let the living members of the phratria be inscribed, and when they depart life let them be erased. The limit of marriageable ages for a woman shall be from sixteen to twenty years at the longest,—for a man, from thirty to thirty-five years; and let a woman hold office at forty, and a man at thirty years. Let a man go out to war from twenty to sixty years, and for a woman, if there appear any need to make use of her in military service, let the time of service be after she shall have brought forth children up to fifty years of age; and let regard be had to what is possible and suitable to each.