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[792a] If it remains silent when the thing is offered, they conclude that it is the right thing, but the wrong thing if it weeps and cries out. Thus infants indicate what they like by means of weepings and outcries—truly no happy signals!—and this period of infancy lasts not less than three years, which is no small fraction of one's time to spend ill or well.

You are right.

When a man is peevish and not cheerful at all, do you not regard him [792b] as a doleful person and more full, as a rule, of complaints than a good man ought to be?

I certainly regard him as such.

Well then, suppose one should try to secure by every available means that our nursling should experience the least possible amount of grief or fear or pain of any kind, may we not believe that by this means the soul of the nursling would be rendered more bright and cheerful?

Plainly it would, Stranger; and most of all if one should provide him [792c] with many pleasures.

There, my good sir, I must part company with Clinias. For in our eyes such a proceeding is the worst possible form of corruption, for it occurs in every instance at the very beginning of the child's nurture.1 But let us consider whether I am right.

Explain your view.

I believe that the issue before us is one of extreme importance. You also, Megillus, consider the matter, I pray, and lend us the aid of your judgment. What I maintain is this: that the right life ought neither to pursue pleasures nor to shun pains entirely; [792d] but it ought to embrace that middle state of cheerfulness (as I termed it a moment ago), which—as we all rightly suppose, on the strength of an inspired utterance—is the very condition of God himself. And I maintain that whosoever of us would be godlike must pursue this state of soul, neither becoming himself prone at all to pleasures, even as he will not be devoid of pain, not allowing any other person—old or young, man or woman—to be in this condition and least of all, [792e] so far as possible, the new-born babe. For because of the force of habit, it is in infancy that the whole character is most effectually determined.2 I should assert further—were it not that it would be taken as a jest—that women with child, above all others, should be cared for during their years of pregnancy, lest any of them should indulge in repeated and intense pleasures or pains, instead of cultivating, during the whole of that period, a cheerful, bright and calm demeanor.

There is no need for you, Stranger, to ask Megillus

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