previous next
[546a] “How?” “Somewhat in this fashion. Hard in truth1 it is for a state thus constituted to be shaken and disturbed; but since for everything that has come into being destruction is appointed,2 not even such a fabric as this will abide for all time, but it shall surely be dissolved, and this is the manner of its dissolution. Not only for plants that grow from the earth but also for animals that live upon it there is a cycle of bearing and barrenness3 for soul and body as often as the revolutions of their orbs come full circle, in brief courses for the short-lived and oppositely for the opposite; but the laws of prosperous birth or infertility for your race, [546b] the men you have bred to be your rulers will not for all their wisdom ascertain by reasoning combined with sensation,4 but they will escape them, and there will be a time when they will beget children out of season. Now for divine begettings there is a period comprehended by a perfect number,5 and for mortal by the first in which augmentations dominating and dominated when they have attained to three distances and four limits of the assimilating and the dissimilating, the waxing and the waning, render all things conversable6 and commensurable [546c] with one another, whereof a basal four-thirds wedded to the pempad yields two harmonies at the third augmentation, the one the product of equal factors taken one hundred times, the other of equal length one way but oblong,—one dimension of a hundred numbers determined by the rational diameters of the pempad lacking one in each case, or of the irrational7 lacking two; the other dimension of a hundred cubes of the triad. And this entire geometrical number is determinative of this thing, of better and inferior births. [546d] And when your guardians, missing this, bring together brides and bridegrooms unseasonably,8 the offspring will not be well-born or fortunate. Of such offspring the previous generation will establish the best, to be sure, in office, but still these, being unworthy, and having entered in turn9 into the powers of their fathers, will first as guardians begin to neglect us, paying too little heed to music10 and then to gymnastics, so that our young men will deteriorate in their culture; and the rulers selected from them [546e] will not approve themselves very efficient guardians for testing

1 Cf. Alc. I. 104 E.

2 Cf. What Plato Said, p. 627 on Laws 677 A; also Polyb. vi. 57, Cic.De rep. ii. 25.

3 Cf. Pindar, Mem. vi. 10-12 for the thought.

4 Cf. Tim. 28 Aδόξῃ μετ᾽ αἰσθήσεως.

5 For its proverbial obscurity cf. Cic.Ad att. vii. 13 “est enim numero Platonis obscurius,” Censorinus, De die natali xi. See supra,Introd. p. xliv for literature on this “number.”

6 προσήγορα: Cf. Theaet. 146 A.

7 Cf. 534 D; also Theaet. 202 Bῥητάς.

8 Cf. 409 D.

9 αὖ: cf. my note in Class. Phil. xxiii. (1928) pp. 285-287.

10 This does not indicate a change in Plato's attitude toward music, as has been alleged.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1928 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: