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AthenianAnd must each individual man regard himself as his own enemy? Or what do we say when we come to this point?CliniasO Stranger of Athens, for I should be loth to call you a man of Attica, since methinks you deserve rather to be named after the goddess Athena, seeing that you have made the argument more clear by taking it back again to its starting-point; whereby you will the more easily discover the justice of our recent statement that, in the mass, all men are both publicly and privately the enemies of all, and individually also each man is his own enemy.
nor would even the feast of Dionysus serve as an excuse to save him—a revel such as I once upon a time witnessed “on the wagons”At the Feast of Dionysus in Athens it was customary for revellers mounted on wagons to indulge in scurrilous language during the processions. in your country; and at our colony of Tarentum, too, saw the whole city drunk at the Dionysia. But with us no such thing is possible.AthenianO Stranger of Lacedaemon, all such indulgences are praiseworthy where there exists a strain of firm moral f
but where this is relaxed they are quite stupid. An Athenian in self-defence might at once retaliate by pointing to the looseness of the women in your country. Regarding all such practices, whether in Tarentum, Athens or Sparta, there is one answer that is held to vindicate their propriety. The universal answer to the stranger who is surprised at seeing in a State some unwonted practice is this: “Be not surprised, O Stranger: such is the custom with us: with you, perhaps, the custom in these matters is different.
about the questions now in dispute that we are trying to learn.AthenianThus, then, we must do,—you must brace yourself in the effort to learn the argument, and I to expound it as best I can. But, first of all, I have a preliminary observation to make: our city, Athens, is, in the general opinion of the Greeks, both fond of talk and full of talk, but Lacedaemon is scant of talk, while Crete is more wittyA polite way of alluding to the proverbial mendacity of the Cretans (cp. Ep. Titus i. 12: KRH=TES A)EI\ YEU=STAI). than wordy
and take up some other legal topic instead.MegillusO Stranger of Athens, you are not, perhaps, aware that our family is, in fact, a “proxenus”A “proxenus” was a native who acted as official representative of a foreign State. of your State. It is probably true of all children that, when once they have been told that they are “proxeni” of a certain State, they conceive an affection for that State even from infancy, and each of them regards it as a second mother-land, next after his own country. That is precisely the feeling I now experience. For through hearing mere children
not by outward compulsion but by inner disposition. Thus, so far as I am concerned, you may speak without fear and say all you please.CliniasMy story, too, Stranger, when you hear it, will show you that you may boldly say all you wish. You have probably heard how that inspired man Epimenides, who was a family connection of ours, was born in Crete; and how ten yearsEpimenides really lived about 600 B.C. before the Persian War, in obedience to the oracle of the god, he went to Athens and offered certain sacrifices which the god had ordained; and how, moreover, when the Athenians were alarmed at the Persians' expeditionary force,
have cherished an affection for Athens.AthenianEvidently, then, you are both ready to play your part as listeners. But as for my part, though the will is there, to compass the task is hard: still, I must try. In the first place, then, our argument requires that we should define education and describe its effects: that is the path on which our present discourse must proceed until it finally arrives at the god of Wine.CliniasBy all means let us do so, since it is your wish.
Datis, with his many myriads, captured by force the whole of the Eretrians; and to Athens he sent on an alarming account of how not a man of the Eretrians had escaped him: the soldiers of Datis had joined hands and swept the whole of Eretria clean as with a draw-net. This account—whether true, or whatever its origin—struck terror into the Greeks generally, and especially the Athenians; but when they sent out embassies in every direction to seek aid, all refus
and those men the Cnosians should make over to your State, and they should make you in person a citizen of this colony and one of the eighteen—using persuasion or, possibly, a reasonable degree of compulsion.CliniasWhy, pray, have not you also, Stranger, and Megillus lent us a hand in our constitution?AthenianAthens is haughty, Clinias, and Sparta also is haughty, and both are far distant: but for you this course is in all respects proper, as it is likewise for the rest of the founders of the colony
AthenianIt is. Still it is by no means surprising that you know nothing of this pre-natal gymnastic; but, strange though it is, I should like to explain it to you.CliniasBy all means do so.AthenianIn our country it is easier to understand a practice of this kind, because there are people there who carry their sports to excess. At Athens we find not only boys but sometimes old men rearing birds and training such creatures to fight one another.