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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
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.
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