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[452a] we must also teach them the same things.” “Yes.” “Now music together with gymnastic was the training we gave the men.” “Yes.” “Then we must assign these two arts to the women also and the offices of war and employ them in the same way.” “It would seem likely from what you say,” he replied. “Perhaps, then,” said I, “the contrast with present custom1 would make much in our proposals look ridiculous if our words2 are to be realized in fact.” “Yes, indeed,” he said. “What then,” said I, “is the funniest thing you note in them? Is it not obviously the women exercising unclad in the palestra [452b] together with the men, not only the young, but even the older, like old men in gymnasiums,3 when, though wrinkled and unpleasant to look at, they still persist in exercising?” “Yes, on my word,” he replied, “it would seem ridiculous under present conditions.” “Then,” said I, “since we have set out to speak our minds, we must not fear all the jibes4 with which the wits would greet so great a revolution, and the sort of things they would say about gymnastics [452c] and culture, and most of all about the bearing of arms and the bestriding of horses.” “You're right,” he said. “But since we have begun we must go forward to the rough part of our law,5 after begging these fellows not to mind their own business6 but to be serious, and reminding them that it is not long since the Greeks thought it disgraceful and ridiculous, as most of the barbarians7 do now, for men to be seen naked. And when the practice of athletics began, first with the Cretans [452d] and then with the Lacedaemonians, it was open to the wits of that time to make fun of these practices, don't you think so?” “I do.” “But when, I take it, experience showed that it is better to strip than to veil all things of this sort, then the laughter of the eyes8 faded away before that which reason revealed to be best, and this made it plain that he talks idly who deems anything else ridiculous but evil, and who tries to raise a laugh by looking to any other pattern of absurdity than [452e] that of folly and wrong or sets up any other standard of the beautiful as a mark for his seriousness than the good.” “Most assuredly,” said he.

“Then is not the first thing that we have to agree upon with regard to these proposals whether they are possible or not? And we must throw open the debate9 to anyone who wishes either in jest or earnest to raise the question

1 Reformers always denounce this source of wit while conservative satirists maintain that ridicule is a test of truth. Cf. e.g. Renan, Avenir de la Science, p. 439 “Le premier pas dans la carrière philosophique est de se cuirasser contre le ridicule,” and Lucian, Piscator 14 “No harm can be done by a joke; that on the contrary, whatever is beautiful shines brighter . . . like gold cleansed,” Harmon in Loeb translation, iii. 22. There was a literature for and against custom (sometimes called συνήθεια) of which there are echoes in Cicero's use of consuetudo, Acad. ii. 75, De off. i. 148, De nat. deor. i. 83.

2 λέγεται: cf. on 389 D.

3 Cf. Theaetetus 162 B, and the ὀψιμαθής or late learner in Theophrastus'Characters xxvii. 14 Loeb. Euripides Andromache 596 ff. denounces the light attire of Spartan women when exercising.

4 Cf. Propert. iv. 13 Muller.

5 For a variation of this image cf. 568 D.

6 Plato plays on his own favorite phrase. The proper business of the wit is to raise a laugh. Cf. Symposium 189 B.

7 Cf. Thucydides i. 6, Herodotus i. 10. Sikes in Anthropolgy and the Classics says this was borrowed from Thucydides, whom Wilamowitz says Plato never read. Cf. Dio Chrys. xiii. 226 M. For ἐξ οὗ cf. Demosthenes iv. 3, Isocrates v. 47.

8 Lit. “what (seemed) laughable to (in) the eyes.”

9 Cf. 607 Dδοῖμεν . . . λόγον.

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