This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
How so? We do not understand.Athenian
Yet surely it has been stated not once, I imagine, but many times over. But you, very likely, have never so much as set eyes on a monarchical State.Clinias
No, nor have I any craving for such a sight. [711b] Athenian
You would, however, see in it an illustration of what we spoke of just now.Clinias
What was that?Athenian
The fact that a monarch, when he decides to change the moral habits of a State, needs no great efforts nor a vast length of time, but what he does need is to lead the way himself first along the desired path, whether it be to urge the citizens towards virtue's practices or the contrary; by his personal example he should first trace out the right lines, giving praise and honor to these things, [711c] blame to those, and degrading the disobedient according to their several deeds.Clinias
Yes, we may perhaps suppose that the rest of the citizens will quickly follow the ruler who adopts such a combination of persuasion and force.Athenian
Let none, my friends, persuade us that a State could ever change its laws more quickly or more easily by any other way than by the personal guidance of the rulers: no such thing could ever occur, either now or hereafter. Indeed, that is not the result which we find it difficult or impossible [711d] to bring about; what is difficult to bring about is rather that result which has taken place but rarely throughout long ages, and which, whenever it does take place in a State, produces in that State countless blessings of every kind.Clinias
What result do you mean?Athenian
Whenever a heaven-sent desire for temperate and just institutions arises in those who hold high positions,—whether as monarchs, or because of conspicuous eminence [711e] of wealth or birth, or, haply, as displaying the character of Nestor, of whom it is said that, while he surpassed all men in the force of his eloquence, still more did he surpass them in temperance. That was, as they say, in the Trojan age, certainly not in our time; still, if any such man existed, or shall exist, or exists among us now, blessed is the life he leads, and blessed are they who join in listening to the words of temperance that proceed out of his mouth. So likewise of power in general, the same rule holds good:
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.