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Does not the starting-point of generation in all States lie in the union and partnership of marriage?1.Clinias
So it seems that, if the marriage laws were the first to be enacted, that would be the right course in every State.Clinias
Let us state the law in its simple form first: how will it run? Probably like this:—“A man shall marry when he is thirty years old [721b] and under five and thirty;2 if he fails to do so, he shall be punished both by a fine in money and by degradation, the fine being of such and such an amount, and the degradation of such and such a kind.” Such shall be the simple form of marriage law. The double form shall be this,—“A man shall marry when he is thirty years old and under thirty-five, bearing in mind that this is the way by which the human race, by nature's ordinance, shares in immortality, a thing for which nature has implanted in everyone a keen desire. [721c] The desire to win glory, instead of lying in a nameless grave, aims at a like object. Thus mankind is by nature coeval with the whole of time, in that it accompanies it continually both now and in the future; and the means by which it is immortal is this:—by leaving behind it children's children and continuing ever one and the same, it thus by reproduction shares in immortality. That a man should deprive himself thereof voluntarily is never an act of holiness; and he who denies himself wife and children is guilty of such intentional deprivation. [721d] He who obeys the law may be dismissed without penalty, but he that disobeys and does not marry when thirty-five years old shall pay a yearly fine of such and such an amount,—lest he imagine that single life brings him gain and ease,—and he shall have no share in the honors which are paid from time to time by the younger men in the State to their seniors.” When one hears and compares this law with the former one, [721e] it is possible to judge in each particular case whether the laws ought to be at least double in length, through combining threats with persuasion, or only single in length, through employing threats alone.Megillus
Our Laconian way, Stranger, is to prefer brevity always. But were I bidden to choose which of these two statutes I should desire to have enacted in writing in my State, I should choose the longer;
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