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[781a] to the light of day; instead of this, the female sex, that very section of humanity which, owing to its frailty, is in other respects most secretive and intriguing, is abandoned to its disorderly condition through the perverse compliance of the lawgiver. Owing to your neglect of that sex, you have had an influx of many consequences which would have been much better than they now are if they had been under legal control. For it is not merely, as one might suppose, a matter affecting one-half of our whole task—this matter of neglecting to regulate women,— [781b] but in as far as females are inferior in goodness to males, just in so far it affects more than the half. It is better, then, for the welfare of the State to revise and reform this institution, and to regulate all the institutions for both men and women in common. At present, however, the human race is so far from having reached this happy position, that a man of discretion must actually avoid all mention of the practice in districts and States [781c] where even the existence of public meals is absolutely without any formal recognition. How then shall one attempt, without being laughed at, actually to compel women to take food and drink publicly and exposed to the view of all? The female sex would more readily endure anything rather than this: accustomed as they are to live a retired and private life, women will use every means to resist being led out into the light, and they will prove much too strong for the lawgiver. [781d] So that elsewhere, as I said, women would not so much as listen to the mention of the right rule without shrieks of indignation; but in our State perhaps they will. So if we agree that our discourse about the polity as a whole must not—so far as theory goes—prove abortive, I am willing to explain how this institution is good and fitting, if you are equally desirous to listen, but otherwise to leave it alone.

Nay, Stranger, we are both inexpressibly desirous to listen.

Let us listen, then. And do not be surprised if you find me taking the subject up again from an early point. For we are now enjoying leisure, [781e] and there is no pressing reason to hinder us from considering laws from all possible points of view.

Very true.

Let us, then, revert again to our first statements.1 Thus much at least every man ought to understand,—that either the human race never had a beginning at all,

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