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[683a] about which you said truly that it and Crete were settled under kindred laws. From the wandering course of our argument, and our excursion through various polities and settlements, we have now gained this much: we have discerned a first, a second and a third State,1 all, as we suppose, succeeding one another in the settlements which took place during vast ages of time. And now there has emerged this fourth State—or “nation,” if you so prefer—which was once upon a time in course of establishment and is now established. [683b] Now, if we can gather from all this which of these settlements was right and which wrong, and which laws keep safe what is kept safe, and which laws ruin what is mined, and what changes in what particulars would effect the happiness of the State,—then, O Megillus and Clinias, we ought to describe these things again, making a fresh start from the beginning,—unless we have some fault to find with our previous statements.

I can assure you, Stranger, that if some god were to promise us that, [683c] in making this second attempt to investigate legislation, we shall listen to a discourse that is no worse and no shorter than that we have just been listening to, I for one would go a long way to hear it; indeed, this would seem quite a short day, although it is, as a matter of fact, close on midsummer.

So it seems that we must proceed with our enquiry.

Most certainly.

Let us, then, place ourselves in imagination at that epoch when Lacedaemon, together with Argos and Messene and the adjoining districts, had become completely subject, [683d] Megillus, to your forefathers. They determined next, according to the tradition, to divide their host into three parts, and to establish three States,—Argos, Messene and Lacedaemon.

Very true.

And Temenus became King of Argos, Cresphontes of Messene, and Proclus and Eurysthenes of Lacedaemon.

Of course.

And all the men of that time swore that they would assist these kings [683e] if anyone should try to wreck their kingdoms.

Quite so.

Is the dissolution of a kingdom, or of any government that has ever yet been dissolved, caused by any other agency than that of the rulers themselves? Or, though we made this assertion a moment ago when we happened upon this subject, have we now forgotten it?2

How could we possibly have forgotten?

Shall we further confirm that assertion now? For we have come to the same view now, as it appears, in dealing with facts of history; so that we shall be examining it with reference not to a mere abstraction,

1 i.e., (I) the family or clan, under patriarchal “headship”; (2) the combination of clans under an aristocracy (or monarchy); (3) the “mixed” state (or “city of the plain,” like Troy); and (4) the confederacy, consisting, in the example, of three States leagued together.

2 Cp.Plat. Laws 682d, 682e.

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