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[831a] and who not: to the former the lawgiver shall duly assign honors, to the latter degradation, that thus he may prepare the whole State to be serviceable throughout life in the real contest. Moreover, if a man gets killed in these sham fights, inasmuch as the murder is involuntary, he shall pronounce the slayer to be pure of hands, when he has been legally purified; for he will reflect that, when a few men die, others equally good will grow up in their place, whereas, once fear is, so to speak, dead, he will be unable to find a test to distinguish, in all such cases, the good from the bad,— [831b] and that is a far greater evil than the other for a State.

We, at least, Stranger, would certainly agree that every State should both ordain and practice these things.

Are we all aware of the reason why such choristry and such contests do not at present exist anywhere in the States, except to a very small extent? Shall we say that this is due to the ignorance of the populace and of those who legislate for them?


Not so, by any means, my ingenious Clinias! What we ought to say [831c] is that there are two causes, and both most weighty ones.

What are they?

The first springs from a lust for wealth which allows a man no leisure time for attention to anything else save his own private property; and when the soul of every citizen hangs upon this, it is incapable of attending to matters other than daily gain. Whatsoever science or pursuit leads to this, every man individually is most ready to learn and to practice; but all else he laughs to scorn. [831d] This we must assert to be one particular cause why a State is unwilling to be in earnest about this, or any other, fine and noble pursuit; and why, on the other hand, every individual, because of his greed for silver and gold, is willing to toil at every art and device, noble or ignoble, if he is likely to get rich by it,—willing, too, to perform actions both holy and unholy—nay, utterly shameful—without a scruple, [831e] provided only that he is able to sate himself to repletion, like a beast, with all manner of foods and drinks and wenchings.


Then let this which I describe be laid down as one cause which hinders the States from adequately practicing either military operations or any other noble pursuits and which turns men who are of a quiet nature 1 into traders, ship-owners, and servants, while of the bold it makes pirates, burglars, temple-robbers, fighters

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