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Now that our children, of both sexes, are born, our proper course will be to deal in the next place with their nurture and education. This is a subject which it is wholly impossible to pass over; but obviously it can be treated more suitably by way of precept and exhortation than by legislation. For in the private life of the family many trivial things are apt to be done which escape general notice,—things which are the result of individual feelings of pain, pleasure, or desire, [788b] and which contravene the instructions of the lawgiver; and these will produce in the citizens a multiplicity of contradictory tendencies. This is bad for a State. For while, on the one hand, it is improper and undignified to impose penalties on these practices by law, because of their triviality and the frequency of their occurrence, on the other hand, it detracts from the authority of the law which stands written when men grow used to breaking the law in trivial matters repeatedly. [788c] Hence, while it is impossible to pass over these practices in silence, it is difficult to legislate concerning them. The practices I refer to I will try to make clear by bringing some specimens, as it were, to the light; for at present my words rather resemble a “dark speech.”

That is quite true.

When we said1 that right nurture must be manifestly capable of making both bodies and souls in all respects as beautiful and good as possible, we spoke, I presume, truly?

Certainly we did. [788d]

And I suppose that (to take the simplest point) the most beautiful bodies must grow up from earliest infancy as straight as possible.

Most certainly.

Well then, do we not observe that in every living creature the first shoot makes by far the largest and longest growth; so that many people stoutly maintain that in point of height men grow more in the first five years of life than in the next twenty?

That is true.

But we know, don't we, that when growth occurs rapidly,

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