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What do you mean? What fault have you to find with it?

This, that whereas there were three States settled, two of the three1 speedily wrecked their constitution and their laws, and one only remained stable—and that was your State, Megillus.

The question is no easy one.

Yet surely in our consideration and enquiry into this subject, indulging in an old man's sober play with laws, we ought to proceed on our journey [685b] painlessly, as we said2 when we first started out.

Certainly, we must do as you say.

Well, what laws would offer a better subject for investigation than the laws by which those States were regulated? Or what larger or more famous States are there about whose settling we might enquire?

It would be hard to mention better instances than these.

It is fairly evident that the men of that age intended this organization of theirs to serve as an adequate protection [685c] not only for the Peloponnesus, but for the whole of Hellas as well, in case any of the barbarians should attack them just as the former dwellers around Ilium were emboldened to embark on the Trojan War through reliance on the Assyrian power as it had been in the reign of Ninus.3 For much of the splendor of that empire still survived and the people of that age stood in fear of its confederate power, just as we men of today dread the Great King. For since Troy was a part of the Assyrian empire, the second4 capture of Troy [685d] formed a grave charge against the Greeks. It was in view of all this that the Dorian host was at that time organizes and distributed amongst three States under brother princes, the sons of Heracles5; and men thought it admirably devised, and in its equipment superior even to the host that had sailed to Troy. For men reckoned, first, that in the sons of Heracles they had better chiefs than the Pelopidae,6 and further, [685e] that this army was superior in valor to the army which went to Troy, since the latter, which was Achaean, was worsted by the former, which was Dorian. Must we not suppose that it was in this way, and with this intention, that the men of that age organized themselves?


Is it not also probable that they would suppose this to be a stable arrangement, and likely to continue quite a long time,

1 viz., Argos and Messene,—the third being Laconia.

2 Cp. Plat. Laws 625b.

3 The mythical founder of the Assyrian empire, husband of Semiramis, and builder of Nineveh (dated about 2200 B.C.).

4 The first “capture” was by Heracles, in the reign of Laomedon, father of Priam. Cp. Hom. Il. 5.640 ff.

5 viz., Temenus, king of Argos, Procles and Eurystheus of Laconia, Cresphontes of Messene.

6 viz., Agamemnon and Menelaus.

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