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[919a] with the honor which one pays to a mother or a nurse. But as things are now, whenever a man has planted his house, with a view to retail trade, in a desert place and with all the roads from it lengthy, if in this welcome lodging he receives travellers in distress, providing tranquillity and calm to those buffeted by fierce storms or restful coolness after torrid heat,—the next thing is that, instead of treating them as comrades and providing friendly gifts as well as entertainment, he holds them ransom, as if they were captive foemen in his hands, demanding very high sums of unjust and unclean ransom-money; [919b] it is criminal practices such as this, in the case of all these trades, that afford grounds of complaint against this way of succoring distress. For these evils, then, the lawgiver must in each case provide a medicine. It is an old and true saying that it is hard to fight against the attack of two foes1 of opposite quarters, as in the case of diseases and many other things; and indeed our present fight in this matter is against two foes, poverty and plenty,2 of which the one corrupts the soul of men with luxury, [919c] while the other by means of pain plunges it into shamelessness. What remedy, then, is to be found for this disease in a State gifted with understanding? The first is to employ the trading class as little as possible; the second, to assign to that class those men whose corruption would prove no great loss to the State; the third, to find a means whereby the dispositions of those engaged in these callings may not quite so easily become infected [919d] by shamelessness and meanness of soul. After the declarations now made, let our law on these matters (Heaven prosper it!) run in this wise:—Amongst the Magnesians,3 whom the god is restoring and founding afresh, none of all the landholders who belong to the houses shall, either willingly or unwillingly, become a retail trader or a merchant, or engage in any menial service for private persons who do not make an equal return to himself, save only for his father and mother [919e] and those of a still earlier generation, and all that are elder than himself, they being gentlemen4 and his a gentleman's service. What is becoming, what unbecoming a gentleman it is not easy to fix by law; it shall, however, be decided by those persons who have achieved public distinction5 for their aversion to the one and their devotion to the other. If any citizen in any craft engages in ungentlemanly peddling, whoso will shall indict him for shaming his family before a bench of those adjudged to be the first in virtue, and if it be held that he is sullying his paternal hearth by an unworthy calling, he shall be imprisoned for a year and so restrained therefrom;

1 Cp. Plat. Phaedo 89c ff: πρὸς δύο λέγεται οὐδ᾽ Ἡρακλῆς οἷός τε εἶναι.

2 Cp. Plat. Laws 679b, Plat. Laws 705b.

3 Cp. Plat. Laws 702b ff., Plat. Laws 848c.

4 Literally “free men,”—the Greek word connoting generosity, culture and dignity, like our “gentle.”

5 Cp. Plat. Laws 914a, Plat. Laws 922a ff.

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