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Yes, his renown is indeed glorious and well befitting a son of Zeus. And, since you and our friend Megillus were both brought up in legal institutions of so noble a kind, you would, I imagine, have no aversion to our occupying ourselves as we go along in discussion on the subject of government and laws. Certainly, as I am told, the road from Cnosus [625b] to the cave1 and temple of Zeus is a long one, and we are sure to find, in this sultry weather, shady resting-places among the high trees along the road: in them we can rest ofttimes, as befits our age, beguiling the time with discourse, and thus complete our journey in comfort.Clinias
True, Stranger; and as one proceeds further one finds in the groves cypress-trees of wonderful height and beauty, [625c] and meadows too, where we may rest ourselves and talk.Athenian
You say well.Clinias
Yes, indeed: and when we set eyes on them we shall say so still more emphatically. So let us be going, and good luck attend us.Athenian
Amen! And tell me now, for what reason did your law ordain the common meals you have, and your gymnastic schools and military equipment?Clinias
Our Cretan customs, Stranger, are, as I think, such as anyone may grasp easily. As you may notice, Crete, as a whole, [625d] is not a level country, like Thessaly: consequently, whereas the Thessalians mostly go on horseback, we Cretans are runners, since this land of ours is rugged and more suitable for the practice of foot-running. Under these conditions we are obliged to have light armour for running and to avoid heavy equipment; so bows and arrows are adopted as suitable because of their lightness. Thus all these customs of ours are adapted for war, [625e] and, in my opinion, this was the object which the lawgiver had in view when he ordained them all. Probably this was his reason also for instituting common meals: he saw how soldiers, all the time they are on campaign, are obliged by force of circumstances to mess in common, for the sake of their own security. And herein, as I think, he condemned the stupidity of the mass of men in failing to perceive that all are involved ceaselessly in a lifelong war against all States. If, then, these practices are necessary in war,—namely, messing in common for safety's sake, and the appointment of relays of officers and privates to act as guards,—
1 The grotto of Dicte on Mt. Ida.
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