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[839a] nor sowing seed on rocks and stones where it can never take root and have fruitful increase; and, on the other hand, by abstaining from every female field in which you would not desire the seed to spring up. This law, when it has become permanent and prevails—if it has rightly become dominant in other cases, just as it prevails now regarding intercourse with parents,—is the cause of countless blessings. For, in the first place, it follows the dictates of nature, and it serves to keep men from sexual rage and frenzy and all kinds of fornication, and from all excess in meats and drinks, [839b] and it ensures in husbands fondness for their own wives: other blessings also would ensue, in infinite number, if one could make sure of this law. Possibly, however, some young bystander, rash and of superabundant virility, on hearing of the passing of this law, would denounce us for making foolish and impossible rules, and fill all the place with his outcries; and it was in view of this that I made the statement1 [839c] that I knew of a device to secure the permanence of this law when passed which is at once the easiest of all devices and the hardest. For while it is very easy to perceive that this is possible, and how it is possible—since we affirm that this rule, when duly consecrated, will dominate all souls, and cause them to dread the laws enacted and yield them entire obedience,—yet it has now come to this, that men think that, even so, it is unlikely to come about,—just in the same way as, in the case of the institution of public meals, people refuse to believe that it is possible [839d] for the whole State to be able to continue this practice constantly; and that, too, in spite of the evidence of facts and the existence of the practice in your countries; and even there, as applied to women, the practice is regarded as non-natural. Thus it was that, because of the strength of this unbelief, I said that it is most difficult to get both these matters permanently legalized.

And you were right in that.

Still, to show that it is not beyond the power of man, but possible, would you like me to try to state an argument which is not without some plausibility?

Certainly. [839e]

Would a man be more ready to abstain from sex-indulgence, and to consent to carry out the law on this matter soberly, if he had his body not ill-trained, but in good condition, than if he had it in bad condition?

He would be much more ready if it were not ill-trained.

Do we not know by report about Iccus2 of Tarentum, because of his contests at Olympia and elsewhere,—

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