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[717a] Therefore all the great labor that impious men spend upon the gods is in vain, but that of the pious is most profitable to them all. Here, then, is the mark at which we must aim; but as to shafts we should shoot, and (so to speak) the flight of them,—what kind of shafts, think you, would fly most straight to the mark? First of all, we say, if—after the honors paid to the Olympians and the gods who keep the State—we should assign the Even and the Left as their honors to the gods of the under-world, we would be aiming most straight at the mark of piety— [717b] as also in assigning to the former gods the things superior, the opposites of these.1 Next after these gods the wise man will offer worship to the daemons, and after the daemons to the heroes. After these will come private shrines legally dedicated to ancestral deities; and next, honors paid to living parents. For to these duty enjoins that the debtor should pay back the first and greatest of debts, the most primary of all dues, and that he should acknowledge that all that he owns and has belongs to those who begot and reared him, [717c] so that he ought to give them service to the utmost of his power—with substance, with body, and with soul, all three—thus making returns for the loans of care and pain spent on the children by those who suffered on their behalf in bygone years, and recompensing the old in their old age, when they need help most. And throughout all his life he must diligently observe reverence of speech towards his parents above all things, [717d] seeing that for light and winged words there is a most heavy penalty,—for over all such matters Nemesis, messenger of Justice, is appointed to keep watch;2 wherefore the son must yield to his parents when they are wroth, and when they give rein to their wrath either by word or deed, he must pardon them, seeing that it is most natural for a father to be especially wroth when he deems that he is wronged by his own son. When parents die, the most modest funeral rites are the best, whereby the son neither exceeds the accustomed pomp, nor falls short of what his forefathers [717e] paid to their sires; and in like manner he should duly bestow the yearly attentions, which ensure honor, on the rites already completed. He should always venerate them, by never failing to provide a continual memorial,

1 This account of the ritual proper to the worship of the various deities is obscure. Plainly, however, it is based on the Pythagorean doctrine of “Opposites,” in which the Odd (number) is “superior” to the Even, and the “Right” (side) to the Left (as also the “Male” to the “Female”). It is here laid down that “honors” (or worship) of the “superior” grade are to be offered only to the deities of Olympus, or of the State, and inferior honors only to the deities of the underworld. In Greek augury, also, the left was the side of ill omen (sinister), whereas in Roman augury the right is so.

2 Cp. S. Matth. xii. 36: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement.”

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