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[1334a] [1] but not for the sake of world-wide despotism; and thirdly to hold despotic power over those who deserve to be slaves. Experience supports the testimony of theory, that it is the duty of the lawgiver rather to study how he may frame his legislation both with regard to warfare and in other departments for the object of leisure and of peace. Most military states remain safe while at war but perish when they have won their empire; in peace-time they lose their keen temper, like iron.1 The lawgiver is to blame, because he did not educate them to be able to employ leisure.

And since it appears that men have the same end collectively and individually, and since the same distinctive aim must necessarily belong both to the best man and to the best government, it is clear that the virtues relating to leisure are essential2; since, as has been said repeatedly, peace is the end of war, leisure of business. But the virtues useful for leisure and for its employment are not only those that operate during leisure but also those that operate in business; for many of the necessaries must needs be forthcoming to give us opportunity for leisure. Therefore it is proper for the state to be temperate, [20] brave and enduring; since, as the proverb goes, there is no leisure for slaves, but people unable to face danger bravely are the slaves of their assailants. Therefore courage and fortitude are needed for business, love of wisdom for leisure, temperance and justice for both seasons, and more especially when men are at peace and have leisure; for war compels men to be just and temperate, whereas the enjoyment of prosperity and peaceful leisure tend to make them insolent. Therefore much justice and much temperance are needed by those who are deemed very prosperous and who enjoy all the things counted as blessings, like the persons, if such there be, as the poets say,3 that dwell in the Islands of the Blest; these will most need wisdom, temperance and justice, the more they are at leisure and have an abundance of such blessings. It is clear therefore why a state that is to be happy and righteous must share in these virtues; for if it is disgraceful to be unable to use our good things, it is still more disgraceful to be unable to use them in time of leisure, and although showing ourselves good men when engaged in business and war, in times of peace and leisure to seem no better than slaves. Therefore we must not cultivate virtue after the manner of the state of Sparta. The superiority of the Spartans over other races does not lie

1 i.e. an iron blade when not used loses keenness and has to be re-tempered.

2 i.e. to the state as well as to the individual.

3 Hes. WD 170 ff.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 650
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 9.393
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 170
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