president over the children shall keep his eye on the man who has met with the wrong-doings mentioned and has failed either to inflict the needed punishment at all, or else to inflict it rightly. Moreover, this Law-warden shall exercise special supervision, with a keen eye, over the rearing of the children, to keep their growing natures in the straight way, by turning them always towards goodness, as the laws direct. But how is the law itself to give an adequate education to this Law-warden of ours? For, up to the present, the law has not as yet made any clear or
adequate statement: it has mentioned some things, but omitted others. But in dealing with this warden it must omit nothing, but fully expound every ordinance that he may be both expositor and nurturer to the rest. Matters of choristry of tunes and dancing, and what types are to be selected, remodelled, and consecrated—all this has already been dealt with;1
but with regard to the kind of literature that is written but without meter we have never put the question—O excellent supervisor of children, of what sort ought this prose to be, and in what fashion are your charges to deal with it?
You know from our discourse2
what are the military exercises they ought to learn and to practice, but the matters that have not as yet, my friend, been fully declared to you by the lawgiver are these—first, literature, next, lyre-playing; also arithmetic, of which I said that there ought to be as much as everyone needs to learn for purposes of war, house-management and civic administration; together with what it is useful for these same purposes to learn about the courses of the heavenly bodies—stars and sun and moon—in so far as every State
is obliged to take them into account. What I allude to is this—the arranging of days into monthly periods, and of months into a year, in each instance, so that the seasons, with their respective sacrifices and feasts, may each be assigned its due position by being held as nature dictates, and that thus they may create fresh liveliness and alertness in the State, and may pay their due honors to the gods, and may render the citizens more intelligent about these matters. These points, my friend, have not all as yet been explained to you sufficiently by the lawgiver.
Now attend carefully to what is next to be said. In the first place, you are, as we said, insufficiently instructed as yet concerning letters. The point we complain of is this—that the law has not yet told you clearly whether the man who is to be a good citizen must pursue this study with precision, or neglect it altogether; and so likewise with regard to the lyre. That he must not neglect them we now affirm. For the study of letters, about three years is a reasonable period for a child of ten years old;