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[426e] not to suppose this to be the fact about himself?” “Why no,1” he said, “I don't think that.” “Then don't be harsh with them. For surely such fellows are the most charming spectacle in the world when they enact and amend such laws as we just now described and are perpetually expecting to find a way of putting an end to frauds in business and in the other matters of which I was speaking because they can't see that they are in very truth2 trying to cut off a Hydra's head.”

1 For οὐκ αὖ cf. 393 D, 442 A, Theaetetus 161 A, Class. Phil. vol. xxiii. pp. 285-287.ἔγωγε above concurs with ἄγασαι, ignoring the irony.πλήν γε etc. marks dissent on one point. This dissent is challenged, and is withdrawn by οὐκ αὖ . . . τοῦτο γεοἶμαι).

2 τῷ ὄντι points the application of the proverbial ὕδραν τέμνειν, which appears in this now trite metaphorical use for the first time here and in Euthydemus 297 C. Cf. my note on Horace iv. 4. 61. For the thought cf. Isocrates vii. 40, Macrob.Sat. ii. 13 “leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur,” Arcesilaus apudStobaeus Flor. xliii. 981οὕτω δὴ καὶ ὅπου νόμοι πλεῖστοι ἐκεῖ καὶ ἀδικίαν εἶναι μεγίστην, Theophrastus apudStobaeus Flor. xxxvii. 21ὀλίγων οἱ ἀγαθοὶ νόμων δέονται.

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