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Well, there are no young people with us now; so we may be permitted by the lawgiver, old as we are, to discuss these matters among ourselves privately without offence.Clinias
That is so. Do you, then, have no scruple in censuring our laws; for there is nothing discreditable in being told of some flaw; rather it is just this which leads to a remedy, if the criticism be accepted not peevishly [635b] but in a friendly spirit.Athenian
Good! But until I have investigated your laws as carefully as I can I shall not censure them but rather express the doubts I feel. You alone of Greeks and barbarians, so far as I can discover, possess a lawgiver who charged you to abstain from the greatest of pleasures and amusements and taste them not; but concerning pains and fears, as we said before, he held the view that anyone who shuns them continuously from childhood onward, when confronted with [635c] unavoidable hardships and fears and pains, will be put to flight by the men who are trained in such things, and will become their slave. Now I presume that this same lawgiver should have held the same view about pleasures as well, and should have argued with himself that, if our citizens grow up from their youth unpracticed in the greatest pleasures, the consequence must be that, when they find themselves amongst pleasures without being trained in the duty of resisting them and of refusing to commit any disgraceful act, [635d] because of the natural attraction of pleasures, they will suffer the same fate as those who are worsted by fears: they will, that is to say, in another and still more shameful fashion be enslaved by those who are able to hold out amidst pleasures and those who are versed in the art of pleasure,—people who are sometimes wholly vicious: thus their condition of soul will be partly enslaved and partly free, and they will not deserve to be called, without qualification, free men and men of courage. Consider, then, whether you at all approve these remarks of mine. [635e] Clinias
On the face of them, we are inclined to approve; but to yield quick and easy credence in matters of such importance would, I fear, be rash and thoughtless.Athenian
Well then, O Clinias, and thou, Stranger of Lacedaemon, suppose we discuss the second of the subjects we proposed, and take temperance next after courage: shall we discover any point in which these polities are superior to those framed at random,
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