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Yet, brave though these men are, we still maintain that they are far surpassed in bravery by those who are conspicuously brave in the greatest of wars; and we also have a poet for witness,—Theognis (a citizen of Sicilian Megara), who says: “In the day of grievous feud, O Cyrnus, the loyal warrior is worth his weight in silver and gold.
”Theognis 5.77-8 Bergk1 Such a man, in a war much more grievous, is, we say, ever so much better than the other—nearly as much better, in fact, as the union of justice, prudence and wisdom [630b] with courage is better than courage by itself alone. For a man would never prove himself a loyal and sound in civil war if devoid of goodness in its entirety; whereas in the war of which Tyrtaeus speaks there are vast numbers of mercenaries ready to die fighting2 “with well-planted feet apart,” of whom the majority, with but few exceptions, prove themselves reckless, unjust, violent, and pre-eminently foolish. What, then, is the conclusion to which our present discourse is tending, and what point is it trying to make clear by these statements? Plainly it is this: both the Heaven-taught legislator of Crete [630c] and every legislator who is worth his salt will most assuredly legislate always with a single eye to the highest goodness and to that alone; and this (to quote Theognis) consists in “loyalty in danger,” and one might term it “complete righteousness.” But that goodness which Tyrtaeus specially praised, [630d] fair though it be and fitly glorified by the poet, deserves nevertheless to be placed no higher than fourth in order and estimation.3Clinias
We are degrading our own lawgiver, Stranger, to a very low level!Athenian
Nay, my good Sir, it is ourselves we are degrading, in so far as we imagine that it was with a special view to war that Lycurgus and Minos laid down all the legal usages here and in Lacedaemon.Clinias
How, then, ought we to have stated the matter?Athenian
In the way that is, as I think, true and proper [630e] when talking of a divine hero. That is to say, we should state that he enacted laws with an eye not to some one fraction, and that the most paltry, of goodness, but to goodness as a whole, and that he devised the laws themselves according to classes, though not the classes which the present devisers propound. For everyone now brings forward and devises just the class which he needs: one man deals with inheritances and heiresses, another with cases of battery, and so on
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