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[716a] completeth his circuit by nature's ordinance in straight, unswerving course. With him followeth Justice, as avenger of them that fall short of the divine law; and she, again, is followed by every man who would fain be happy, cleaving to her with lowly and orderly behavior; but whoso is uplifted by vainglory, or prideth himself on his riches or his honors or his comeliness of body, and through this pride joined to youth and folly, is inflamed in soul with insolence, dreaming that he has no need of ruler or guide, but rather is competent himself to guide others,— [716b] such an one is abandoned and left behind by the God, and when left behind he taketh to him others of like nature, and by his mad prancings throweth all into confusion: to many, indeed, he seemeth to be some great one, but after no long time he payeth the penalty, not unmerited, to Justice, when he bringeth to total ruin himself, his house, and his country. Looking at these things, thus ordained, what ought the prudent man to do, or to devise, or to refrain from doing?”

The answer is plain: Every man ought so to devise as to be of the number of those who follow in the steps of the God. [716c]

What conduct, then, is dear to God and in his steps? One kind of conduct, expressed in one ancient phrase,1 namely, that “like is dear to like” when it is moderate, whereas immoderate things are dear neither to one another nor to things moderate. In our eyes God will be “the measure of all things” in the highest degree—a degree much higher than is any “man” they talk of.2 He, then, that is to become dear to such an one must needs become, so far as he possibly can, of a like character; and, according to the present argument, he amongst us that is temperate is dear to God, [716d] since he is like him, while he that is not temperate is unlike and at enmity,—as is also he who is unjust, and so likewise with the rest, by parity of reasoning. On this there follows, let us observe, this further rule,—and of all rules it is the noblest and truest,—that to engage in sacrifice and communion with the gods continually, by prayers and offerings and devotions of every kind, is a thing most noble and good and helpful towards the happy life, and superlatively fitting also, for the good man; [716e] but for the wicked, the very opposite. For the wicked man is unclean of soul, whereas the good man is clean; and from him that is defiled no good man, nor god, can ever rightly receive gifts.

1 Cp. Hom. Od. 17.218:ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον. The expression “like to like” became proverbial, like our “Birds of a feather,” etc. Usually it was applied more to the bad than to the good (or “moderate”) to which Plato here restricts it.

2 An allusion to the dictum of the sophist Protagoras—“Man is the measure of all things,” cp.Cratylus386 A ff.;Theaetetus152 A.

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