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[455a] precisely for what art or pursuit concerned with the conduct of a state the woman's nature differs from the man's?” “That would be at any rate fair.” “Perhaps, then, someone else, too, might say what you were saying a while ago, that it is not easy to find a satisfactory answer on a sudden,1 but that with time for reflection there is no difficulty.” “He might say that.” “Shall we, then, beg the raiser of such objections to follow us, [455b] if we may perhaps prove able to make it plain to him that there is no pursuit connected with the administration of a state that is peculiar to woman?” “By all means.” “Come then, we shall say to him, answer our question. Was this the basis of your distinction between the man naturally gifted for anything and the one not so gifted—that the one learned easily, the other with difficulty; that the one with slight instruction could discover2 much for himself in the matter studied, but the other, after much instruction and drill, could not even remember what he had learned; and that the bodily faculties of the one adequately served3 his mind, [455c] while, for the other, the body was a hindrance? Were there any other points than these by which you distinguish the well endowed man in every subject and the poorly endowed?” “No one,” said he, “will be able to name any others.” “Do you know, then, of anything practised by mankind in which the masculine sex does not surpass the female on all these points?4 Must we make a long story of it by alleging weaving and the watching of pancakes [455d] and the boiling pot, whereon the sex plumes itself and wherein its defeat will expose it to most laughter?” “You are right,” he said, “that the one sex5 is far surpassed by the other in everything, one may say. Many women, it is true, are better than many men in many things, but broadly speaking, it is as you say.” “Then there is no pursuit of the administrators of a state that belongs to a woman because she is a woman or to a man because he is a man. But the natural capacities are distributed alike among both creatures, and women naturally share in all pursuits and men in all— [455e] yet for all the woman is weaker than the man.” “Assuredly.” “Shall we, then, assign them all to men and nothing to women?” “How could we?” “We shall rather, I take it, say that one woman has the nature of a physician and another not, and one is by nature musical, and another unmusical?” “Surely.” “Can we, then, deny that one woman is naturally athletic

1 Plato anticipates the objection that the Socratic dialectic surprises assent. Cf. more fully 487 B, and for a comic version Hippias Major 295 A “if I could go off for a little by myself in solitude I would tell you the answer more precisely than precision itself.”

2 Cf. Politicus 286 E, where this is said to be the object of teaching.

3 Cf. Protagoras 326 B, Republic 498 B, 410 C, Isocrates xv. 180, Xenophon Memorabilia ii. 1. 28.

4 On the alleged superiority of men even in women's occupations cf. the amusing diatribe of the old bachelor in George Eliot's Adam Bede, chap. xxi.: “I tell you there isn't a thing under the sun that needs to be done at all but what a man can do better than women, unless it's bearing children, and they do that in a poor makeshift way,” and the remarks on women as cooks of the bachelor Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 234. But Xenophon Memorabilia iii. 9. 11 takes the ordinary view. On the character of women generally Cf. Laws 781 and Aristotle in Zeller trans. ii. 215.

5 Cf. Cratylus 392 Cὡς τὸ ὅλον εἰπεῖν γένος.

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