of more honor in the State than temperance, or wealth than health and temperance, it will quite clearly be a wrong enactment. Thus the lawgiver must ofttimes put this question to himself— “What is it that I intend?” and, “Am I succeeding in this, or am I wide of the mark?” In this way he might, perhaps, get through the task of legislation himself, and save others the trouble of it; but in no other way could he ever possibly do so. The man who has received an allotment shall hold it, as we say,
on the terms stated. It would indeed have been a splendid thing if each person, on entering the colony, had had all else equal as well. Since this, however, is impossible, and one man will arrive with more money and another with less, it is necessary for many reasons, and for the sake of equaIizing chances in public life, that there should be unequal valuations, in order that offices and contributions may be assigned in accordance with the assessed valuation in each case,—being framed not in proportion only to the moral excellence of a man's ancestors or of himself, nor to his bodily strength
and comeliness, but in proportion also to his wealth or poverty,—so that by a rule of symmetrical inequality1
they may receive offices and honors as equally as possible, and may have no quarrelling. For these reasons we must make four classes, graded by size of property, and called first, second, third and fourth (or by some other names) , alike when the individuals remain in the same class and when, through a change from poverty to wealth or from wealth to poverty, they pass over each to that class to which he belongs.
The kind of law that I would enact as proper to follow next after the foregoing would be this: It is, as we assert, necessary in a State which is to avoid that greatest of plagues, which is better termed disruption than dissension,2
that none of its citizens should be in a condition of either painful poverty or wealth, since both these conditions produce both these results; consequently the lawgiver must now declare a limit for both these conditions. The limit of poverty shall be the value of the allotment:
this must remain fixed, and its diminution in any particular instance no magistrate should overlook, nor any other citizen who aspires to goodness. And having set this as the (inferior) limit, the lawgiver shall allow a man to possess twice this amount, or three times, or four times. Should anyone acquire more than this—whether by discovery or gift or money-making, or through gaining a sum exceeding