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Why, pray, have not you also, Stranger, and Megillus lent us a hand in our constitution?Athenian
Athens is haughty, Clinias, and Sparta also is haughty, and both are far distant: but for you this course is in all respects proper, as it is likewise for the rest of the founders of the colony, [753b] to whom also our recent remarks about you apply. Let us, then, assume that this would be the most equitable arrangement under the conditions at present existing. Later on, if the constitution still remains, the selection of officials shall take place as follows:—In the selection of officials all men shall take part who carry arms, as horse-soldiers or foot-soldiers, or who have served in war so far as their age and ability allowed. They shall make the selection in that shrine which the State shall deem the most sacred; [753c] and each man shall bring to the altar of the god, written on a tablet, the name of his nominee, with his father's name and that of his tribe and of the deme he belongs to, and beside these he shall write also his own name in like manner. Any man who chooses shall be permitted to remove any tablet which seems to him to be improperly written, and to place it in the market-place for not less than thirty days. The officials shall publicly exhibit, for all the State to see, [753d] those of the tablets that are adjudged to come first, to the number of 300; and all the citizens shall vote again in like manner, each for whomsoever of these he wishes. Of these, the officials shall again exhibit publicly the names of those who are adjudged first, up to the number of 100. The third time, he that wishes shall vote for whomsoever he wishes out of the hundred, passing between slain victims1 as he does so: then they shall test the thirty-seven men who have secured most votes, and declare them to be magistrates. [753e] Who, then, are the men, O Clinias and Megillus, who shall establish in our State all these regulations concerning magisterial offices and tests? We perceive (do we not?) that for States that are thus getting into harness for the first time some such persons there must necessarily be; but who they can be, before any officials exist, it is impossible to see. Yet somehow or other they must be there—and men, too, of no mean quality, but of the highest quality possible. For, as the saying goes, “well begun is half done,”2 and every man always commends a good beginning; but it is truly, as I think, something more than the half, and no man has ever yet commended as it deserves
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