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452E - 456C Let us first determine whether our proposal is possible—in other words, whether woman is naturally able to share the duties of man—all, or none, or some, and, if some, whether war is one of these. It may be argued: ‘man's nature is different from that of woman: we should therefore assign them different duties.’ A little analysis will shew the superficial and eristic character of such reasoning. The word ‘different’ is ambiguous. Natures may differ without differing at all in respect of the powers by which certain duties are performed. Consequently, if man and woman differ only in sex, they may each perform those duties in which sex plays no part. Among such duties are those which appertain to the administration of a city. Doubtless man is superior, as a whole, in capacity and strength, although many women excel many men; but the natural aptitudes of individual women are as various as those of men, and there is no administrative duty which is by Nature exclusively appropriated either to men, or to women. Thus Nature produces women who are fitted to guard our city. These we shall select as the wives and colleagues of the male guardians. Our proposal is possible, because it is natural: the term ‘unnatural’ may sooner be applied to the present condition of women.

ff. On the principle laid down in this part of Socrates' argument see 451 C ff. notes

ἀνθρωπίνη was objected to by Cobet; but θήλεια alone would be too general: we are dealing only with ‘female human nature.’

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