previous next
[806a] Must the girls share in gymnastics and music, and the women abstain from wool-work, but weave themselves instead a life that is not trivial at all nor useless, but arduous, advancing as it were halfway in the path of domestic tendance and management and child-nurture, but taking no share in military service; so that, even if it should chance to be necessary for them to fight in defence of their city and their children, they will be unable to handle with skill either a bow [806b] (like the Amazons) or any other missile, nor could they take spear and shield, after the fashion of the Goddess,1 so as to be able nobly to resist the wasting of their native land, and to strike terror—if nothing more—into the enemy at the sight of them marshalled in battle-array? If they lived in this manner, they certainly would not dare to adopt the fashion of the Sauromatides, whose women would seem like men beside them. So in regard to this matter, let who will commend your Laconian lawgivers: [806c] as to my view, it must stand as it is. The lawgiver ought to be whole-hearted, not half-hearted,—letting the female sex indulge in luxury and expense and disorderly ways of life,2 while supervising the male sex; for thus he is actually bequeathing to the State the half only, instead of the whole, of a life of complete prosperity.

What are we to do, Clinias? Shall we allow the Stranger to run down our Sparta in this fashion? [806d]

Yes: now that we have granted him free speech we must let him be, until we have discussed the laws fully.

You are right.

May I, then, endeavor without more delay to proceed with my exposition?

By all means.

What manner of life would men live, supposing that they possessed a moderate supply of all the necessaries, and that they had entrusted all the crafts to other hands, [806e] and that their farms were hired out to slaves, and yielded them produce enough for their modest needs? Let us further suppose that they had public mess-rooms—separate rooms for men, and others close by for their households, including the girls and their mothers—and that each of these rooms was in charge of a master or mistress, to dismiss the company and to watch over their behavior daily; and, at the close of the meal, that the master and all the company poured a libation

1 For Athene as a warrior, cp. Plat. Laws 796b.

2 Cp. Aristot. Pol. 1269b 12 ff.

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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