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I highly approve of all you have said, Megillus.Athenian
Still, it is extremely foolish to argue about the length or brevity of writings, for what we should value, I suppose, is not their extreme brevity or prolixity, [722b] but their excellence; and in the case of the laws mentioned just now, not only does the one form possess double the value of the other in respect of practical excellence, but the example of the two kinds of doctors, recently mentioned,1 presents a very exact analogy. But as regards this, it appears that no legislator has ever yet observed that, while it is in their power to make use in their law-making of two methods,—namely, persuasion and force,—in so far as that is feasible in dealing with the uncultured populace, they actually employ one method only: in their legislation they do not temper compulsion [722c] with persuasion, but use untempered force alone. And I, my dear sirs, perceive still a third requisite which ought to be found in laws, but which is nowhere to be found at present.Clinias
What is it you allude to?Athenian
A matter which, by a kind of divine direction, has sprung out of the subjects we have now been discussing. It was little more than dawn when we began talking about laws, and now it is high noon, and here we are in this entrancing resting-place; all the time we have been talking of nothing but laws, [722d] yet it is only recently that we have begun, as it seems, to utter laws, and what went before was all simply preludes to laws. What is my object in saying this? It is to explain that all utterances and vocal expressions have preludes and tunings-up (as one might call them), which provide a kind of artistic preparation which assists towards the further development of the subject. Indeed, we have examples before us of preludes, admirably elaborated, [722e] in those prefixed to that class of lyric ode called the “nome,”2 and to musical compositions of every description. But for the “nomes” (i.e. laws) which are real nomes—and which we designate “political”—no one has ever yet uttered a prelude, or composed or published one, just as though there were no such thing. But our present conversation proves, in my opinion, that there is such a thing; and it struck me just now that the laws we were then stating are something more than simply double, and consist of these two things combined—law, and prelude to law. The part which we called the “despotic prescription”—
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