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9.

In answer to this Simonides said: “Well, Hiero, I do not deny that all these matters must receive attention. But I should divide a ruler's activities into two classes, those that lead inevitably to unpopularity, and those that are greeted with thanks. [2] The duty of teaching the people what things are best, and of dispensing praise and honour to those who accomplish the same most efficiently, is a form of activity that is greeted with thanks. The duty of pronouncing censure, using coercion, inflicting pains and penalties on those who come short in any respect, is one that must of necessity give rise to a certain amount of unpopularity. [3] Therefore my sentence is that a great ruler should delegate to others the task of punishing those who require to be coerced, and should reserve to himself the privilege of awarding the prizes. The excellence of this arrangement is established by daily experience. [4] Thus, when we want to have a choral competition, the ruler offers prizes, but the task of assembling the choirs is delegated to choir-masters, and others have the task of training them and coercing those who come short in any respect. Obviously, then, in this case, the pleasant part falls to the ruler, the disagreeables fall to others. [5] Why, then, should not all other public affairs be managed on this principle? For all communities are divided into parts—`tribes,' `wards,' `unions,' as the case may be—and every one of these parts is subject to its appointed ruler. [6] If, then, the analogy of the choruses were followed and prizes were offered to these parts for excellence of equipment, good discipline, horsemanship, courage in the field and fair dealing in business, the natural outcome would be competition, and consequently an earnest endeavour to improve in all these respects too. [7] And as a matter of course, with the prospect of reward there would be more despatch in starting for the appointed place, and greater promptitude in the payment of war taxes, whenever occasion required. Nay, agriculture itself, most useful of all occupations, but just the one in which the spirit of competition is conspicuous by its absence, would make great progress if prizes were offered for the farm or the village that can show the best cultivation, and many good results would follow for those citizens who threw themselves vigorously into this occupation. [8] For apart from the consequent increase in the revenues, sobriety far more commonly goes with industry; and remember, vices rarely flourish among the fully employed. [9] If commerce also brings gain to a city, the award of honours for diligence in business would attract a larger number to a commercial career. And were it made clear that the discovery of some way of raising revenue without hurting anyone will also be rewarded, this field of research too would not be unoccupied. [10] In a word, once it becomes clear in every department that any good suggestion will not go unrewarded, many will be encouraged by that knowledge to apply themselves to some promising form of investigation. And when there is a wide-spread interest in useful subjects, an increase of discovery and achievement is bound to come. [11]

“In case you fear, Hiero, that the cost of offering prizes for many subjects may prove heavy, you should reflect that no commodities are cheaper than those that are bought for a prize. Think of the large sums that men are induced to spend on horse-races, gymnastic and choral competitions, and the long course of training and practice they undergo for the sake of a paltry prize.”


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