previous next
[776a] in his allotment, to be, as it were, the nest and home of his chicks, and make therein his marriage and the dwelling and home of himself and his children. For in friendships the presence of some degree of longing seems to cement various dispositions and bind them together; but unabated proximity, since it lacks the longing due to an interval, causes friends to fall away from one another owing to an excessive surfeit of each other's company. Therefore the married pair must leave their own houses to their parents and the bride's relations, [776b] and act themselves as if they had gone off to a colony, visiting and being visited in their home, begetting and rearing children, and so handing on life, like a torch,1 from one generation to another, and ever worshipping the gods as the laws direct. Next, as regards possessions, what should a man possess to form a reasonable amount of substance? As to most chattels, it is easy enough both to see what they should be and to acquire them; but servants present all kinds of difficulties. The reason is that our language about them is partly right and partly wrong; [776c] for the language we use both contradicts and agrees with our practical experience of them.

What mean we by this? We are still in the dark, Stranger, as to what you refer to.

That is quite natural, Megillus. For probably the most vexed problem in all Hellas is the problem of the Helot-system of the Lacedaemonians, which some maintain to be good, others bad; a less violent dispute rages round the subjection of the Mariandyni2 [776d] to the slave-system of the Heracleotes, and that of the class of Penestae to the Thessalians.3 In view of these and similar instances, what ought we to do about this question of owning servants?4 The point I happened to mention in the course of my argument,—and about which you naturally asked me what I referred to,—was this. We know, of course, that we would all agree that one ought to own slaves that are as docile and good as possible; for in the past many slaves have proved themselves better in every form of excellence than brothers or sons, and have saved their masters and their goods and [776e] their whole houses. Surely we know that this language is used about slaves?


And is not the opposite kind of language also used,—that the soul of a slave has no soundness in it, and that a sensible man should never trust that class at all? And our wisest poet, too, in speaking of Zeus,

1 Cp. Plat. Rep. 328a.

2 These ancient inhabitants of N.E. Bithynia were conquered by the people of Heraclea Pontica and make tributary vassals.

3 Cp. Aristot. Pol. 1269a 36. “Penestae” (= serfs) were the old Aeolian inhabitants of Thessaly, subdued by the Heraclid invaders.

4 Cp. Aristot. Pol. 1259b 22 ff.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Thessaly (Greece) (1)
Heraclea Pontica (Turkey) (1)
Greece (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: