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[723a] comparing it to the prescriptions of the slave-doctors we mentioned—is unblended law; but the part which precedes this, and which is uttered as persuasive thereof, while it actually is “persuasion,” yet serves also the same purpose as the prelude to an oration.1 To ensure that the person to whom the lawgiver addresses the law should accept the prescription quietly—and, because quietly, in a docile spirit,—that, as I supposed, was the evident object with which the speaker uttered all his persuasive discourse.2 Hence, according to my argument, [723b] the right term for it would be, not legal “statement,” but “prelude,” and no other word. Having said this, what is the next statement I would desire to make? It is this: that the lawgiver must never omit to furnish preludes, as prefaces both to the laws as a whole and to each individual statute, whereby they shall surpass their original form by as much as the “double” examples recently given surpassed the “single.”

I, for my part, would charge the expert in these matters to legislate thus, and not otherwise. [723c]

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.

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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