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[803a] Such then is our regulation of the matter. We have next to discuss the question of the teaching and imparting of these subjects—how, by whom, and when each of them should be practiced. Just as a shipwright at the commencement of his building outlines the shape of his vessel by laying down her keel, so I appear to myself to be doing just the same—trying to frame, that is, the shapes of lives according to the modes of their souls, and thus literally [803b] laying down their keels, by rightly considering by what means and by what modes of living we shall best navigate our barque of life through this voyage of existence. And notwithstanding that human affairs are unworthy of earnest effort, necessity counsels us to be in earnest; and that is our misfortune. Yet, since we are where we are, it is no doubt becoming that we should show this earnestness in a suitable direction. But no doubt [803c] I may be faced—and rightly faced—with the question, “What do I mean by this?”


What I assert is this,—that a man ought to be in serious earnest about serious things, and not about trifles; and that the object really worthy of all serious and blessed effort is God, while man is contrived, as we said above,1 to be a plaything of God, and the best part of him is really just that; and thus I say that every man and woman ought to pass through life in accordance with this character, playing at the noblest of pastimes, being otherwise minded than they now are. [803d]

How so?

Now they imagine that serious work should be done for the sake of play; for they think that it is for the sake of peace that the serious work of war needs to be well conducted. But as a matter of fact we, it would seem, do not find in war, either as existing or likely to exist, either real play or education worthy of the name, which is what we assert to be in our eyes the most serious thing. It is the life of peace that everyone should live as much and as well as he can. What then is the right way? We should live out our lives playing [803e] at certain pastimes—sacrificing, singing and dancing—so as to be able to win Heaven's favor and to repel our foes and vanquish them in fight. By means of what kinds of song and dance both these aims may be effected,—this has been, in part, stated in outline, and the paths of procedure have been marked out, in the belief that the poet is right when he says—

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