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I, for my part, would charge the expert in these matters to legislate thus, and not otherwise. [723c] Athenian
You are right, I believe, Clinias, in asserting at least thus much,—that all laws have preludes, and that, in commencing each piece of legislation, one ought to preface each enactment with the prelude that naturally belongs to it—for the statement that is to follow the prelude is one of no small importance, and it makes a vast difference whether these statements are distinctly or indistinctly remembered; still, we should be wrong if we prescribed that all statutes, great and small, should be equally provided with preludes. [723d] For neither ought that to be done in the case of songs and speeches of every kind; for they all naturally have preludes, but we cannot employ them always; that is a thing which must be left in each case to the judgment of the actual orator or singer or legislator.Clinias
What you say is, I believe, very true. But let us not spend more time, Stranger, in delay, but return to our main subject, and start afresh (if you agree) from the statements you made above—and made not [723e] by way of prelude. Let us, then, repeat from the start the second thoughts that are “best” (to quote the players' proverb), treating them throughout as a prelude, and not, as before, as a chance discourse; and let us handle the opening part as being confessedly a prelude. As to the worship of the gods and the attention to be paid to ancestors, our previous statement3 is quite sufficient; it is what comes next to these that you must try to state, until the whole of the prelude has been, in our opinion, adequately set forth by you. After that you will proceed with your statement of the actual laws.
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