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[905a] From this decree of Heaven neither wilt thou nor any other luckless wight ever boast that he has escaped; for this decree is one which the gods who have enjoined it have enjoined above all others, and meet it is that it should be most strictly observed. For by it thou wilt not ever be neglected, neither if thou shouldest dive, in thy very littleness, into the depths of the earth below, nor if thou shouldest soar up to the height of Heaven above; but thou shalt pay to the gods thy due penalty, whether thou remainest here on earth, or hast passed away to Hades, [905b] or art transported to a region yet more fearsome. And the same rule, let me tell thee, will apply also to those whom thou sawest growing to great estate from small after doing acts of impiety or other such evil,—concerning whom thou didst deem that they had risen from misery to happiness, and didst imagine, therefore, that in their actions, as in mirrors, thou didst behold the entire neglect of the gods, not knowing of their joint contribution and [905c] how it contributes to the All. And surely, O most courageous of men, thou canst not but suppose that this is a thing thou must needs learn. For if a man learns not this, he can never see even an outline of the truth, nor will he be able to contribute an account of life as regards its happiness or its unhappy fortune. If Clinias here and all our gathering of elders succeed in convincing thee of this fact, that thou knowest not what thou sayest about the gods, then God Himself of His grace will aid thee; but shouldest thou still be in need of further argument, give ear to us while we argue with the third unbeliever, [905d] if thou hast sense at all. For we have proved, as I would maintain, by fairly sufficient argument that the gods exist and care for men; the next contention, that the gods can be won over by wrongdoers,1 on the receipt of bribes, is one that no one should admit, and we must try to refute it by every means in our power.

Admirably spoken: let us do as you say.

Come now, in the name of these gods themselves I ask—in what way would they come to be seduced by us, if seduced they were? [905e] Being what in their essence and character? Necessarily they must be rulers, if they are to be in continual control of the whole heaven.


But to which kind of rulers are they like? Or which are like to them, of those rulers whom we can fairly compare with them, as small with great? Would drivers of rival teams resemble them, or pilots of ships? Or perhaps they might be likened to rulers of armies; or possibly they might be compared to physicians watching over a war against bodily disease,

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