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Are not all gods the greatest of all guardians, and over the greatest things?Clinias
Yes, by far.Athenian
Shall we say that those who watch over the fairest things, and who are themselves eminently good at keeping watch, are inferior to dogs and ordinary men, who would never betray justice for the sake of gifts impiously offered by unjust men? [907b] Clinias
By no means; it is an intolerable thing to say, and whoever embraces such an opinion would most justly be adjudged the worst and most impious of all the impious men who practice impiety in all its forms.Athenian
May we now say that we have fully proved our three propositions,—namely, that the gods exist, and that they are careful, and that they are wholly incapable of being seduced to transgress justice?Clinias
Certainly we may; and in these statements you have our support.Athenian
And truly they have been made in somewhat vehement terms, in our desire for victory [907c] over those wicked men; and our desire for victory was due to our fear lest haply, if they gained the mastery in argument, they should suppose they had gained the right to act as they chose—those men who wickedly hold all those false notions about the gods. On this account we have been zealous to speak with special honor; and if we have produced any good effect, however small, in the way of persuading the men to hate themselves and to feel some love for an opposite kind of character, then our prelude to the laws respecting impiety [907d] will not have been spoken amiss.Clinias
Well, there is hope; and if not, at any rate no fault will be found with the lawgiver in respect of the nature of the argument.Athenian
After the prelude it will be proper for us to have a statement of a kind suitable to serve as the laws' interpreter, forewarning all the impious to quit their ways for those of piety. For those who disobey, this shall be the law concerning impiety:—If anyone commits impiety either by word or deed, he that meets with him [907e] shall defend the law by informing the magistrates, and the first magistrates who hear of it shall bring the man up before the court1 appointed to decide such cases as the laws direct; and if any magistrate on hearing of the matter fail to do this, he himself shall be liable to a charge of impiety at the hands of him who wishes to punish him on behalf of the laws. And if a man be convicted, the court shall assess one penalty
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