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[715a] when it justifies the right of might.”

Clinias
Yes, that is what was said then.

Athenian
Consider now, to which class of men should we entrust our State. For the condition referred to is one that has already occurred in States thousands of times.

Clinias
What condition?

Athenian
Where offices of rule are open to contest, the victors in the contest monopolize power in the State so completely that they offer not the smallest share in office to the vanquished party or their descendants; and each party keeps a watchful eye on the other, [715b] lest anyone should come into office and, in revenge for the former troubles, cause a rising against them. Such polities we, of course, deny to be polities, just as we deny that laws are true laws unless they are enacted in the interest of the common weal of the whole State. But where the laws are enacted in the interest of a section, we call them feudalities1 rather than polities; and the “justice” they ascribe to such laws is, we say, an empty name. Our reason for saying this is that in your State we shall assign office to a man, not because he is wealthy, [715c] nor because he possesses any other quality of the kind—such as strength or size or birth; but the ministration of the laws must be assigned, as we assert, to that man who is most obedient to the laws and wins the victory for obedience in the State,—the highest office to the first, the next to him that shows the second degree of mastery, and the rest must similarly be assigned, each in succession, to those that come next in order. And those who are termed “magistrates” I have now called “ministers”2 of the laws, not for the sake of coining a new phrase, [715d] but in the belief that salvation, or ruin, for a State hangs upon nothing so much as this. For wherever in a State the law is subservient and impotent, over that State I see ruin impending; but wherever the law is lord over the magistrates, and the magistrates are servants to the law, there I descry salvation and all the blessings that the gods bestow on States.

Clinias
Aye, by Heaven, Stranger; for, as befits your age, you have keen sight.

Athenian
Yes; for a man's vision of such objects is at its dullest [715e] when he is young, but at its keenest when he is old.

Clinias
Very true.

Athenian
What, then, is to be our next step? May we not assume that our immigrants have arrived and are in the country, and should we not proceed with our address to them?

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
Let us, then, speak to them thus:—“O men, that God who, as old tradition3 tells, holdeth the beginning, the end, and the center of all things that exist,

1 A word coined (like the Greek) to suggest a constitution based on “feuds” or party-divisions.

2 “Magistrates” = rulers; “ministers” = subjects, or servants.

3 Probably Orphic, quoted thus by the scholiast:Ζεὺς ἀρχή, Ζεὺς μέσσα, Διὸς δ᾽ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται.

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