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[628a] who in dealing with a single divided family will destroy none of them but reconcile them and succeed, by enacting laws for them, in securing amongst them thenceforward permanent friendliness.

Clinias
A judge and lawgiver of that kind would be by far the best.

Athenian
But mark this: his aim, in the laws he enacted for them, would be the opposite of war.

Clinias
That is true.

Athenian
And what of him who brings the State into harmony? In ordering its life would he have regard to external warfare [628b] rather than to the internal war, whenever it occurs, which goes by the name of “civil” strife? For this is a war as to which it would be the desire of every man that, if possible, it should never occur in his own State, and that, if it did occur, it should come to as speedy an end as possible.

Clinias
Evidently he would have regard to civil war.

Athenian
And would anyone prefer that the citizens should be obliged to devote their attention to external enemies after internal concord had been secured by the destruction of one section and the victory of their opponents rather than after the establishment of friendship and peace [628c] by terms of conciliation?

Clinias
Everyone would prefer the latter alternative for his own State rather than the former.

Athenian
And would not the lawgiver do the same?

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
Would not every lawgiver in all his legislation aim at the highest good?

Clinias
Assuredly.

Athenian
The highest good, however, is neither war nor civil strife—which things we should pray rather to be saved from—but peace one with another and friendly feeling. Moreover, it would seem that the victory [628d] we mentioned of a State over itself is not one of the best things but one of those which are necessary. For imagine a man supposing that a human body was best off when it was sick and aged with physic, while never giving a thought to the case of the body that needs no physic at all! Similarly, with regard to the well-being of a State or an individual, that man will never make genuine statesman who pays attention primarily solely to the needs of foreign warfare, nor will he make a finished lawgiver unless he designs his legislation for peace [628e] rather than his peace legislation for war.

Clinias
This statement, Stranger, is apparently true; yet, unless I am much mistaken, our legal usages in Crete, and in Lacedaemon too, are wholly acted towards war.

Athenian
Very possibly; but we must not now attack them violently,

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