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[641a] that a sea-captain, and every commander of anything, if drunk, upsets everything, whether it be a ship or a chariot or an army or anything else that under his captaincy.

What you say, Stranger, is perfectly true. In the next place, then, tell us this:—suppose this institution of drinking were rightly conducted, of what possible benefit would it be to us? Take the case of an army, which we mentioned just now: there, given a right leader, his men will win victory in war, which is no small benefit; and so too with the other cases: but what solid advantage would accrue [641b] either to individuals or to a State from the right regulation of a wine-party?

Well, what great gain should we say would accrue to the State from the right control of one single child or even of one band of children? To the question thus put to us we should reply that the State would benefit but little from one; if, however, you are putting a general question as to what solid advantage the State gains from the education of the educated, then it is quite simple to reply that well-educated men will prove good men, and being good they will conquer their foes in battle, [641c] besides acting nobly in other ways. Thus, while education brings also victory, victory sometimes brings lack of education for men have often grown more insolent because of victory in war, and through their insolence they have become filled with countless other vices; and whereas education has never yet proved to be “Cadmeian,”1 the victories which men win in war often have been, and will be, “Cadmeian.”

You are implying, my friend, as it seems to us, that the convivial gathering, [641d] when rightly conducted, is an important element in education.


Could you then show us, in the next place, how this statement is true?

The truth of my statement, which is disputed by many, it is for God to assert; but I am quite ready to give, if required, my own opinion, now that we have, in fact, embarked on a discussion of laws and constitutions.

Well, it is precisely your opinion [641e] about the questions now in dispute that we are trying to learn.

Thus, then, we must do,—you must brace yourself in the effort to learn the argument, and I to expound it as best I can. But, first of all, I have a preliminary observation to make: our city, Athens, is, in the general opinion of the Greeks, both fond of talk and full of talk, but Lacedaemon is scant of talk, while Crete is more witty2 than wordy;

1 i.e. involving more loss than gain—a proverbial expression, possibly derived from the fate of the “Sparti” (sprung from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus, founder of Thebes) who slew one another: cp. “Pyrrhic” victory.

2 A polite way of alluding to the proverbial mendacity of the Cretans (cp. Ep. Titus i. 12: κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται).

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