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[923a] But you and I will make a more suitable answer to those in your State who are at the point of death.

Clinias
In what way?

Athenian
O friends, we will say, for you, who are literally but creatures of a day, it is hard at present to know your own possessions and, as the Pythian oracle declares,1 your own selves, to boot. So I, as lawgiver, make this ruling—that both yourself and this your property are not your own, but belong to the whole of your race, both past and future, and that still more truly does all your race and its property belong to the State; [923b] and this being so, I will not willingly consent if anyone persuades you to make a will contrary to what is best, by fawning on you and helping you when afflicted by disease or age; rather will I legislate with a general view to what is best for your whole race and State, justly accounting of minor importance the interest of the individual. May it be that you will feel kindly disposed and at peace with us as you journey towards that bourne whither, by the natural law of our human life, you now are traveling: the rest of your affairs [923c] shall be our care, and we will watch over them all, without exception, to the best of our power. This shall serve, Clinias, alike for consolation and for prelude for both the living and the dying, and the law shall run as follows:— Whosoever writes a will disposing of his property, if he be the father of children, he shall first write down the name of whichever of his sons he deems worthy to be his heir, and if he offers any one of his other children to another man to be adopted by him, this also he shall write down; and if he has any son besides that is not adopted for any lot,2 [923d] of whom he has hopes that he will be sent out by law to a colony, to him the father shall be allowed to give so much of his other property as he wishes, saving only the ancestral lot and all the equipment of that lot; and if there be several more sons, the father shall divide among them the surplus, over and above the lot, in whatever way he chooses. And if a son already possesses a house, he shall not assign him goods, and so likewise in the case of a daughter, if she is betrothed to a husband, [923e] he shall not assign goods, but if not so betrothed, he shall assign. And if, after the will is made, it is discovered that one of the sons or daughters owns a lot in the district, then that person shall resign his legacy in favor of the heir of him that made the will. If the testator leave no male children, but females, he shall bequeath to whichever daughter he chooses a husband, and to himself a son, and write him down as his heir;3 and if a man has a son, whether his own or adopted, who dies in childhood before reaching man's estate, in this case also,

1 Alluding to the dictum “Know thyself”; cp. Plat. Prot. 343b ff

2 i.e. one of the 5040 allotments, cp. Plat. Laws 737c.

3 i.e. he shall select a citizen to become his heir by marrying one of his daughters.

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