but if the foundation be rotten, the subsequent political operations will prove by no means easy for any State. This difficulty, as we say, we avoid; it is better, however, that we should explain the means by which, if we had not actually avoided it, we might have found a way of escape. Be it explained, then, that that means consists in renouncing avarice by the aid of justice, and that there is no way of escape, broad or narrow, other than this device. So let this stand fixed for us now as a kind of pillar of the State. The properties of the citizens must be established somehow or other on a basis that is secure from intestine disputes;
otherwise, for people who have ancient disputes with one another, men will not of their own free will proceed any further with political construction, if they have a grain of sense.1
But as for those to whom—as to us now—God has given a new State to found, and one free as yet from internal feuds,—that those founders should excite enmity against themselves because of the distribution of land and houses would be a piece of folly combined with utter depravity of which no man could be capable.
What then would be the plan of a right distribution? First, we must fix at the right total the number of citizens; next, we must agree about the distribution of them,—into how many sections, and each of what size, they are to be divided; and among these sections we must distribute, as equally as we can, both the land and the houses. An adequate figure for the population could not be given without reference to the territory and to the neighboring States.
Of land we need as much as is capable of supporting so many inhabitants of temperate habits, and we need no more; and as to population, we need a number such that they will be able to defend themselves against injury from adjoining peoples, and capable also of lending some aid to their neighbors when injured. These matters we shall determine, both verbally and actually, when we have inspected the territory and its neighbors; but for the present it is only a sketch in outline of our legislation that our argument will now proceed to complete.
Let us assume that there are—as a suitable number—5,040 men, to be land-holders and to defend their plots;2
and let the land and houses be likewise divided into the same number of parts—the man and his allotment forming together one division. First, let the whole number be divided into two; next into three; then follow in natural order four and five, and so on up to ten. Regarding numbers, every man who is making laws must understand at least thus much,—