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[626a] they must be carried out equally in time of peace. For (as he would say) “peace,” as the term is commonly employed, is nothing more than a name, the truth being that every State is, by a law of nature, engaged perpetually in an informal war with every other State. And if you look at the matter from this point of view you will find it practically true that our Cretan lawgiver ordained all our legal usages, both public and private, with an eye to war, and that he therefore charged us with the task of guarding our laws safely, [626b] in the conviction that without victory in war nothing else, whether possession or institution, is of the least value, but all the goods of the vanquished fall into the hands of the victors.

Your training, Stranger, has certainly, as it seems to me, given you an excellent understanding of the legal practices of Crete. But tell me this more clearly still: by the definition you have given of the well-constituted State [626c] you appear to me to imply that it ought to be organized in such a way as to be victorious in war over all other States. Is that so?

Certainly it is; and I think that our friend here shares my opinion.

No Lacedaemonian, my good sir, could possibly say otherwise.

If this, then, is the right attitude for a State to adopt towards a State, is the right attitude for village towards village different?

By no means.

It is the same, you say?


Well then, is the same attitude right also for one house in the village towards another, and for each man towards every other?

It is. [626d]

And must each individual man regard himself as his own enemy? Or what do we say when we come to this point?

O Stranger of Athens, for I should be loth to call you a man of Attica, since methinks you deserve rather to be named after the goddess Athena, seeing that you have made the argument more clear by taking it back again to its starting-point; whereby you will the more easily discover the justice of our recent statement that, in the mass, all men are both publicly and privately the enemies of all, and individually also each man is his own enemy. [626e]

What is your meaning, my admirable sir?

It is just in this war, my friend, that the victory over self is of all victories the first and best while self-defeat is of all defeats at once the worst and the most shameful. For these phrases signify that a war against self exists within each of us.1

Now let us take the argument back in the reverse direction. Seeing that individually each of us is partly superior to himself

1 Cp. Plat. Rep. 430e ff.: Proverbs xiv 32.

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