previous next
[796a] the whole of dancing and is diffused throughout it completely. As to the devices introduced by Antaeus or Cercyon1 in the art of wrestling for the sake of empty glory, or in boxing by Epeius or Amycus, since they are useless in the business of war, they merit no eulogy. But the exercises of stand-up wrestling, with the twisting free of neck, hands and sides, when practiced with ardor and with a firm and graceful pose, and directed towards strength and health,—these must not be omitted, since they are useful for all purposes; but we must charge both the pupils and their teachers— [796b] when we reach this point in our legislation—that the latter should impart these lessons gently, and the former receive them gratefully. Nor should we omit such mimic dances as are fitting for use by our choirs,—for instance, the sword-dance of the Curetes2 here in Crete, and that of the Dioscori3 in Lacedaemon; and at Athens, too, our Virgin-Lady4 gladdened by the pastime of the dance deemed it not seemly to sport with empty hands, [796c] but rather to tread the measure vested in full panoply. These examples it would well become the boys and girls to copy, and so cultivate the favor of the goddess, alike for service in war and for use at festivals. It shall be the rule for the children, from the age of six until they reach military age, whenever they approach any god and form processions, to be always equipped with arms and horses, and with dance and march, now quick, now slow, to make their supplications to the gods and the children of gods. [796d] Contests, too, and preliminary trials must be carried out with a view to the objects stated, if at all; for these objects are useful both in peace and war, alike for the State and for private families; but all other kinds of work and play and bodily exercise are not worthy of a gentleman. And now, O Megillus and Clinias, I have pretty fully described that gymnastic training which—as I said5 early in our discourse—requires description: here it is in its full completeness. So if you know of a better gymnastic than this, [796e] disclose it.

It is no easy thing, Stranger, to reject your account of gymnastic training and competition, and produce a better one.

The subject which comes next to this, and deals with the gifts of Apollo and the Muses, is one which we previously6 thought we had done with, and that the only subject left was gymnastic; but I plainly see now, not only what still remains to be said to everybody, but also that it ought to come first. Let us, then, state these points in order.

By all means let us do so.

1 Mythical giants and wrestlers, to whom were ascribed such devices as the use of the legs in wrestling. Epeius is mentioned as a boxer in Hom. Il. 23.668; and the mythical Amycus is said to have invented the use ofἱμάντες(boxing-gloves).

2 Priests of the Idaean Zeus.

3 Castor and Pollux.

4 Athene.

5 Plat. Laws 672d, Plat. Laws 673a ff.; cp. also Plat. Laws 813d ff.

6 Plat. Laws 673b.

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.
Lacedaemon (Greece) (1)
Crete (Greece) (1)
Athens (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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