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[1271b] [1] is one that Plato has made in the Laws. The entire system of the laws is directed towards one part of virtue only, military valor, because this is serviceable for conquest. Owing to this they remained secure while at war, but began to decline when they had won an empire, because they did not know how to live a life of leisure, and had been trained in no other form of training more important than the art of war. And another error no less serious than that one is this: they think that the coveted prizes of life are won by valor more than by cowardice, and in this they are right, yet they imagine wrongly that these prizes are worth more than the valor that wins them. The public finance of Sparta is also badly regulated: when compelled to carry on wars on a large scale she has nothing in the state treasury, and the Spartiates pay war taxes badly because, as most of the land is owned by them, they do not scrutinize each other's contributions. And the lawgiver has achieved the opposite result to what is advantageous—he has made the state poor and the individual citizen covetous.

So much for a discussion of the constitution of Sparta: for these are the main points in it for criticism. [20]

The Cretan constitution approximates to that of Sparta, but though in a few points it is not worse framed, for the larger part it has a less perfect finish. For the Spartan constitution appears and indeed is actually stated1 to have been copied in most of its provisions from the Cretan; and as a rule old things have been less fully elaborated than newer ones. For it is said that when Lycurgus relinquished his post as guardian of King Charilaus2 and went abroad, he subsequently passed most of his time in Crete because of the relationship between the Cretans and the Spartans; for the Lyctians3 were colonists from Sparta, and the settlers that went out to the colony found the system of laws already existing among the previous inhabitants of the place; owing to which the neighboring villagers even now use these laws in the same manner, in the belief that Minos4 first instituted this code of laws. And also the island appears to have been designed by nature and to be well situated to be under Greek rule, as it lies across the whole of the sea, round which almost all the Greeks are settled; for Crete is only a short distance from the Peloponnese in one direction, and from the part of Asia around Triopium and from Rhodes in the other. Owing to this Minos won the empire of the sea,5 and made some of the islands subject to him and settled colonies in others, but finally when making an attack on Sicily he ended his life there near Camicus.

The Cretan organization is on the same lines as that of Sparta. In Sparta the land is tilled by the Helots and in Crete by the serfs;

1 e.g. by Hdt 1.65.

2 Posthumous son of Lycurgus's elder brother King Polydectes; cf.1316a 34.

3 Lyctus was an inland city in the east of Crete, not far from Cnossus.

4 Legendary ruler of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa, and after death a judge in the lower world.

5 See Thuc. 1.4, 8. The tradition of the wealth of Minos is supported by the recent excavations at Cnossus.

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