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[686a] since they had shared together many toils and dangers, and were marshalled under leaders of a single family (their princes being brothers), and since, moreover, they had consulted a number of diviners and, amongst others, the Delphian Apollo?

That is certainly probable.

But it seems that these great expectations speedily vanished, except only, as we said, in regard to that small fraction, your State of Laconia; [686b] and ever since, up to the present day, this fraction has never ceased warring against the other two. For if the original intention had been realized, and if they had been in accord about their policy, it would have created a power invincible in war.

It certainly would.

How then, and by what means, was it destroyed? Is it not worth while to enquire by what stroke of fortune so grand a confederacy was wrecked?

Yes for, if one passed over these examples, [686c] one would not be likely to find elsewhere either laws or constitutions which preserve interests thus fair and great, or, on the contrary, wreck them totally.

Thus by a piece of good luck, as it seems, we have embarked on an enquiry of some importance.


Now, my dear sir, do not men in general, like ourselves at the present moment, unconsciously fancy that every fine object they set eyes on would produce marvellous results, if only a man understood the right way to make a fine use of it? [686d] But for us to hold such an idea in regard to the matter before us would possibly be both wrong and against nature; and the same is true of all other cases where men hold such ideas.

What is it you mean? And what shall we say is the special point of your remarks ?

Why, my dear sir, I had a laugh at my own expense just now. For when I beheld this armament of which we are speaking, I thought it an amazingly fine thing, and that, if anyone had made a fine use of it at that time, it would have proved, as I said, [686e] a wonderful boon to the Greeks.

And was it not quite right and sensible of you to say this, and of us to endorse it?

Possibly; I conceive, however, that everyone, when he beholds a thing that is large, powerful and strong, is instantly struck by the conviction that, if its possessor knew how to employ an instrument of that magnitude and quality, he could make himself happy by many wonderful achievements.

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