previous next

Yes. And what is more, I would recall to your recollection, as well as to my own, how it was said1 (if you remember) at the outset that the legislator of a State, in settling his legal ordinances, must always have regard to wisdom. The injunction you gave was that the good lawgiver must frame all his laws with a view to war: I, on the other hand, maintained that, whereas by your injunction the laws would be framed with reference to one only of the four virtues, it was really essential [688b] to look to the whole of virtue, and first and above all to pay regard to the principal virtue of the four, which is wisdom and reason and opinion, together with the love and desire that accompany them. Now the argument has come hack again to the same point, and I now repeat my former statement,—in jest, if you will, or else in earnest; I assert that prayer is a perilous practice for him who is devoid of reason, and that what he obtains is the opposite of his desires. [688c] For I certainly expect that, as you follow the argument recently propounded, you will now discover that the cause of the ruin of those kingdoms, and of their whole design, was not cowardice or ignorance of warfare on the part either of the rulers or of those who should have been their subjects; but that what ruined them was badness of all other kinds, and especially ignorance concerning the greatest of human interests. That this was the course of events then, and is so still, [688d] whenever such events occur, and will be so likewise in the future,—this, with your permission, I will endeavor to discover in the course of the coming argument, and to make it as clear as I can to you, my very good friends.

Verbal compliments are in poor taste, Stranger; but by deed, if not by word, we shall pay you the highest of compliments by attending eagerly to your discourse; and that is what best shows whether compliments are spontaneous or the reverse.

Capital, Clinias! Let us do just as you say. [688e]

It shall be so, God willing. Only say on.

Well then, to advance further on the track of our discourse,—we assert that it was ignorance, in its greatest form, which at that time destroyed the power we have described, and which naturally produces still the same results; and if this is so, it follows that the lawgiver must try to implant in States as much wisdom as possible, and to root out folly to the utmost of his power.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: