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[467a] they must assist and minister in all the business of war and serve their fathers and mothers. Or have you never noticed the practice in the arts, how for example the sons of potters look on as helpers a long time before they put their hands to the clay?” “They do, indeed.” “Should these then be more concerned than our guardians to train the children by observation and experience of what is to be their proper business?” “That would be ridiculous,” he said. “But, further, when it comes to fighting, [467b] every creature will do better in the presence of its offspring?” “That is so, but the risk, Socrates, is not slight, in the event of disasters such as may happen in war, that, losing their children as well as themselves, they make it impossible for the remnant of the state to recover.” “What you say is true,” I replied; “but, in the first place, is it your idea that the one thing for which we must provide is the avoidance of all danger?” “By no means.” “And, if they are to take chances, should it not be for something success in which will make them better?” [467c] “Clearly.” “Do you think it makes a slight difference and not worth some risk whether men who are to be warriors do or do not observe war as boys?” “No, it makes a great difference for the purpose of which you speak.” “Starting, then, from this assumption that we are to make the boys spectators of war, we must further contrive1 security for them and all will be well, will it not?” “Yes.” “To begin with, then,” said I, “will not the fathers be, humanly speaking, not ignorant of war [467d] and shrewd judges of which campaigns are hazardous and which not?” “Presumably,” he said. “They will take the boys with them to the one and avoid the others?” “Rightly.” “And for officers, I presume,” said I, “they will put in charge of them not those who are good for nothing else but men who by age and experience are qualified to serve at once as leaders and as caretakers of children.” “Yes, that would be the proper way.” “Still, we may object, it is the unexpected2 that happens to many in many cases.” “Yes, indeed.” “To provide against such chances, then, we must wing3 the children from the start so that if need arises they may fly away and escape.” [467e] “What do you mean?” he said. “We must mount them when very young,” said I, “and first have them taught to ride, and then conduct them to the scene of war, not on mettlesome war-steeds, but on the swiftest and gentlest horses possible; for thus they will have the best view of their own future business and also, if need arises, will most securely escape to safety in the train of elder guides.” “I think you are right,” he said.

1 προσμηχανᾶσθαι: Cf. on 414 B.

2 παρὰ δόξαν: cf. Thucydides i. 122ἥκιστα πόλεμος ἐπὶ ῥητοῖς χωρεῖ, ii. 11, iii. 30, iv. 102, vii. 61.

3 πτεροῦν: metaphorical. In Aristophanes Birds 1436-1438 literal.

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