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[1262b] [1] for there will be less friendship among them if their children and women are in common, and unfriendliness in the subject classes is a good thing with a view to their being submissive to authority and not making revolution. But speaking generally such a law is bound to bring about the opposite state of things to that which rightly enacted laws ought properly to cause, and because of which Socrates thinks it necessary to make these regulations about the children and women. For we think that friendship is the greatest of blessings for the state, since it is the best safeguard against revolution, and the unity of the state, which Socrates praises most highly, both appears to be and is said by him to be the effect of friendship, just as we know that Aristophanes1 in the discourses on love describes how the lovers owing to their extreme affection desire to grow together and both become one instead of being two. In such a union it would be inevitable that both would be spoiled, or at least one, and in the state friendship would inevitably become watery in consequence of such association, and the expressions ‘my father’ and ‘my son’ would quite go out. For just as putting a little sugar into a quantity of water makes the mixture imperceptible, so it also must come about that the mutual relationship based on these names must become imperceptible, [20] since in the republic described by Plato there will be the least possible necessity for people to care for one another as father for sons or as son for father or as brother for brother. For there are two things that most cause men to care for and to love each other, the sense of ownership and the sense of preciousness; and neither motive can be present with the citizens of a state so constituted. Again, as to the transference of some of the children at birth from the Farmers and Artisans to the Guardians2 and of others from the Guardians to the Farmers and Artisans, there is much confusion as to how it is to be done; and the parents who give the children and the officials who transfer them are bound to know which they give to whom. And again, the things spoken of above are bound to occur even more with these transferred children, such as outrage, love-making and murder; for the children of the Guardians transferred to the other citizens will no longer speak of the Guardians as brothers and children and fathers and mothers, nor yet will those living among the Guardians so speak of the other classes, so as to be careful not to commit any such offence because of their relationship.

Such therefore may be our decision as to community of children and women.

In connection with this we have to consider the due regulation of property in a community that is to have the best political institutions: should property be owned in common or privately? This question might indeed be considered separately from the system laid down by law with regard to the children and the women:

1 The comic poet, figuring as a character in Plato's Symposium, see especially Plat. Sym. 192c ff..

2 The three classes in Plato's Republic.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 1123
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Plato, Symposium, 192c
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