accompanied by something ever-beautiful,—passing over every other object, be it wealth or anything else of the kind that is devoid of beauty. To illustrate how the evil imitation of enemies, which I spoke of, comes about, when people dwell by the sea and are vexed by enemies, I will give you an example (though with no wish, of course, to recall to you painful memories). When Minos, once upon a time, reduced the people of Attica
to a grievous payment of tribute, he was very powerful by sea, whereas they possessed no warships at that time such as they have now, nor was their country so rich in timber that they could easily supply themselves with a naval force. Hence they were unable quickly to copy the naval methods of their enemies and drive them off by becoming sailors themselves. And indeed it would have profited them to lose seventy times seven children
rather than to become marines instead of staunch foot-soldiers; for marines are habituated to jumping ashore frequently and running back at full speed to their ships, and they think no shame of not dying boldly at their posts when the enemy attack; and excuses are readily made for them, as a matter of course, when they fling away their arms and betake themselves to what they describe as “no dishonorable flight.” These “exploits” are the usual result of employing naval soldiery, and they merit, not “infinite praise,” but precisely the opposite;
for one ought never to habituate men to base habits, and least of all the noblest section of the citizens. That such an institution is not a noble one might have been learnt even from Homer. For he makes Odysseus abuse Agamemnon for ordering the Achaeans to haul down their ships to the sea, when they were being pressed in fight by the Trojans; and in his wrath he speaks thus:—
“Dost bid our people hale their fair-benched ships
Seaward, when war and shouting close us round?
So shall the Trojans see their prayers fulfilled,
And so on us shall sheer destruction fall!
For, when the ships are seaward drawn, no more
Will our Achaeans hold the battle up,
But, backward glancing, they will quit the fray: