next
[624a]

Athenian
To whom do you ascribe the authorship of your legal arrangements, Strangers? To a god or to some man?

Clinias
To a god, Stranger, most rightfully to a god. We Cretans call Zeus our lawgiver; while in Lacedaemon, where our friend here has his home, I believe they claim Apollo as theirs. Is not that so, Megillus?

Megillus
Yes.

Athenian
Do you then, like Homer,1 say that [624b] Minos used to go every ninth year to hold converse with his father Zeus, and that he was guided by his divine oracles in laying down the laws for your cities?

Clinias
So our people say. And they say also that his brother Rhadamanthys,—no doubt you have heard the name,—was exceedingly just. And certainly we Cretans [625a] would maintain that he won this title owing to his righteous administration of justice in those days.

Athenian
Yes, his renown is indeed glorious and well befitting a son of Zeus. And, since you and our friend Megillus were both brought up in legal institutions of so noble a kind, you would, I imagine, have no aversion to our occupying ourselves as we go along in discussion on the subject of government and laws. Certainly, as I am told, the road from Cnosus [625b] to the cave2 and temple of Zeus is a long one, and we are sure to find, in this sultry weather, shady resting-places among the high trees along the road: in them we can rest ofttimes, as befits our age, beguiling the time with discourse, and thus complete our journey in comfort.

Clinias
True, Stranger; and as one proceeds further one finds in the groves cypress-trees of wonderful height and beauty, [625c] and meadows too, where we may rest ourselves and talk.

Athenian
You say well.

Clinias
Yes, indeed: and when we set eyes on them we shall say so still more emphatically. So let us be going, and good luck attend us.

Athenian
Amen! And tell me now, for what reason did your law ordain the common meals you have, and your gymnastic schools and military equipment?

Clinias
Our Cretan customs, Stranger, are, as I think, such as anyone may grasp easily. As you may notice, Crete, as a whole, [625d] is not a level country, like Thessaly: consequently, whereas the Thessalians mostly go on horseback, we Cretans are runners, since this land of ours is rugged and more suitable for the practice of foot-running. Under these conditions we are obliged to have light armour for running and to avoid heavy equipment; so bows and arrows are adopted as suitable because of their lightness. Thus all these customs of ours are adapted for war, [625e] and, in my opinion, this was the object which the lawgiver had in view when he ordained them all. Probably this was his reason also for instituting common meals: he saw how soldiers, all the time they are on campaign, are obliged by force of circumstances to mess in common, for the sake of their own security. And herein, as I think, he condemned the stupidity of the mass of men in failing to perceive that all are involved ceaselessly in a lifelong war against all States. If, then, these practices are necessary in war,—namely, messing in common for safety's sake, and the appointment of relays of officers and privates to act as guards,— [626a] they must be carried out equally in time of peace. For (as he would say) “peace,” as the term is commonly employed, is nothing more than a name, the truth being that every State is, by a law of nature, engaged perpetually in an informal war with every other State. And if you look at the matter from this point of view you will find it practically true that our Cretan lawgiver ordained all our legal usages, both public and private, with an eye to war, and that he therefore charged us with the task of guarding our laws safely, [626b] in the conviction that without victory in war nothing else, whether possession or institution, is of the least value, but all the goods of the vanquished fall into the hands of the victors.

Athenian
Your training, Stranger, has certainly, as it seems to me, given you an excellent understanding of the legal practices of Crete. But tell me this more clearly still: by the definition you have given of the well-constituted State [626c] you appear to me to imply that it ought to be organized in such a way as to be victorious in war over all other States. Is that so?

Clinias
Certainly it is; and I think that our friend here shares my opinion.

Megillus
No Lacedaemonian, my good sir, could possibly say otherwise.

Athenian
If this, then, is the right attitude for a State to adopt towards a State, is the right attitude for village towards village different?

Clinias
By no means.

Athenian
It is the same, you say?

Clinias
Yes.

Athenian
Well then, is the same attitude right also for one house in the village towards another, and for each man towards every other?

Clinias
It is. [626d]

Athenian
And must each individual man regard himself as his own enemy? Or what do we say when we come to this point?

Clinias
O Stranger of Athens, for I should be loth to call you a man of Attica, since methinks you deserve rather to be named after the goddess Athena, seeing that you have made the argument more clear by taking it back again to its starting-point; whereby you will the more easily discover the justice of our recent statement that, in the mass, all men are both publicly and privately the enemies of all, and individually also each man is his own enemy. [626e]

Athenian
What is your meaning, my admirable sir?

Clinias
It is just in this war, my friend, that the victory over self is of all victories the first and best while self-defeat is of all defeats at once the worst and the most shameful. For these phrases signify that a war against self exists within each of us.3

Athenian
Now let us take the argument back in the reverse direction. Seeing that individually each of us is partly superior to himself [627a] and partly inferior, are we to affirm that the same condition of things exists in house and village and State, or are we to deny it?

Clinias
Do you mean the condition of being partly self-superior and partly self-inferior?

Athenian
Yes.

Clinias
That, too, is a proper question; for such a condition does most certainly exist, and in States above all. Every State in which the better class is victorious over the populace and the lower classes would rightly be termed “self-superior,” and would be praised most justly for a victory of this kind; and conversely, when the reverse is the case. [627b]

Athenian
Well then, leaving aside the question as to whether the worse element is ever superior to the better (a question which would demand a more lengthy discussion), what you assert, as I now perceive, is this,—that sometimes citizens of one stock and of one State who are unjust and numerous may combine together and try to enslave by force those who are just but fewer in number, and wherever they prevail such a State would rightly be termed “self-inferior” and bad, but “self-superior” and good wherever they are worsted. [627c]

Clinias
This statement is indeed most extraordinary, Stranger; none the less we cannot possibly reject it.

Athenian
Stay a moment: here too is a case we must further consider. Suppose there were a number of brothers, all sons of the same parents, it would not be at all surprising if most of them were unjust and but few just.

Clinias
It would not.

Athenian
And, moreover, it would ill beseem you and me to go a-chasing after this form of expression, that if the bad ones conquered the whole of this family and house should be called “self-inferior,” [627d] but “self-superior” if they were defeated; for our present reference to the usage of ordinary speech is not concerned with the propriety or impropriety of verbal phrases but with the essential rightness or wrongness of laws.

Clinias
Very true, Stranger.

Megillus
And finely spoken, too, up to this point, as I agree.

Athenian
Let us also look at this point: the brothers we have just described would have, I suppose, a judge?

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Which of the two would be the better—a judge who destroyed [627e] all the wicked among them and charged the good to govern themselves, or one who made the good members govern and, while allowing the bad to live, made them submit willingly to be governed? And there is a third judge we must mention (third and best in point of merit),—if indeed such a judge can be found,— [628a] who in dealing with a single divided family will destroy none of them but reconcile them and succeed, by enacting laws for them, in securing amongst them thenceforward permanent friendliness.

Clinias
A judge and lawgiver of that kind would be by far the best.

Athenian
But mark this: his aim, in the laws he enacted for them, would be the opposite of war.

Clinias
That is true.

Athenian
And what of him who brings the State into harmony? In ordering its life would he have regard to external warfare [628b] rather than to the internal war, whenever it occurs, which goes by the name of “civil” strife? For this is a war as to which it would be the desire of every man that, if possible, it should never occur in his own State, and that, if it did occur, it should come to as speedy an end as possible.

Clinias
Evidently he would have regard to civil war.

Athenian
And would anyone prefer that the citizens should be obliged to devote their attention to external enemies after internal concord had been secured by the destruction of one section and the victory of their opponents rather than after the establishment of friendship and peace [628c] by terms of conciliation?

Clinias
Everyone would prefer the latter alternative for his own State rather than the former.

Athenian
And would not the lawgiver do the same?

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
Would not every lawgiver in all his legislation aim at the highest good?

Clinias
Assuredly.

Athenian
The highest good, however, is neither war nor civil strife—which things we should pray rather to be saved from—but peace one with another and friendly feeling. Moreover, it would seem that the victory [628d] we mentioned of a State over itself is not one of the best things but one of those which are necessary. For imagine a man supposing that a human body was best off when it was sick and aged with physic, while never giving a thought to the case of the body that needs no physic at all! Similarly, with regard to the well-being of a State or an individual, that man will never make genuine statesman who pays attention primarily solely to the needs of foreign warfare, nor will he make a finished lawgiver unless he designs his legislation for peace [628e] rather than his peace legislation for war.

Clinias
This statement, Stranger, is apparently true; yet, unless I am much mistaken, our legal usages in Crete, and in Lacedaemon too, are wholly acted towards war.

Athenian
Very possibly; but we must not now attack them violently, [629a] but mildly interrogate them, since both we and your legislators are earnestly interested in these matters. Pray follow the argument closely. Let us take the opinion of Tyrtaeus (an Athenian by birth and afterwards a citizen of Lacedaemon), above all men, was keenly interested in our subject. This is what he says:4 “Though a man were the richest of men,
Tyrtaeus 12 Bergk [629b] “though a man possessed goods in plenty (and he specifies nearly every good there is), if he failed to prove himself at all times most valiant in war, no mention should I make of nor take account of him at all.” No doubt you also have heard these poems; while our friend Megillus is, I imagine, surfeited with them.

Megillus
I certainly am.

Clinias
And I can assure you they have reached Crete also, shipped over from Lacedaemon.

Athenian
Come now, let us jointly interrogate this poet somehow on this wise: [629c] “O Tyrtaeus, most inspired of poets (for assuredly you seem to us both wise and good in that you have eulogized excellently those who excel in war), concerning this matter we three Megillus, Clinias of Cnosus and myself are already in entire accord with you, as we suppose; but we wish to be assured that both we and you are alluding to the same persons. Tell us then: do you clearly recognize, as we do, two distinct kinds of war?” In reply to this I suppose that even a much less able man than Tyrtaeus would state the truth, [629d] that there are two kinds, the one being that which we all call “civil,” which is of all wars the most bitter, as we said just now, while the other kind, as I suppose we shall all agree, is that which we engage in when we quarrel with foreigners and aliens—a kind much milder than the former.

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Come, then, which kind of warriors, fighting in which kind of war, did you praise so highly, while blaming others? Warriors, apparently, who fight in war abroad. [629e] At any rate, in your poems you have said that you cannot abide men who dare not ““face the gory fray””Tyrtaeus“and smite the foe in close combat.
Tyrtaeus Then we should proceed to say, “It appears, O Tyrtaeus, that you are chiefly praising those who achieve distinction in foreign and external warfare.” To this, I presume, he would agree, and say “Yes”? [630a]

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
Yet, brave though these men are, we still maintain that they are far surpassed in bravery by those who are conspicuously brave in the greatest of wars; and we also have a poet for witness,—Theognis (a citizen of Sicilian Megara), who says: “In the day of grievous feud, O Cyrnus, the loyal warrior is worth his weight in silver and gold.
Theognis 5.77-8 Bergk5 Such a man, in a war much more grievous, is, we say, ever so much better than the other—nearly as much better, in fact, as the union of justice, prudence and wisdom [630b] with courage is better than courage by itself alone. For a man would never prove himself a loyal and sound in civil war if devoid of goodness in its entirety; whereas in the war of which Tyrtaeus speaks there are vast numbers of mercenaries ready to die fighting6 “with well-planted feet apart,” of whom the majority, with but few exceptions, prove themselves reckless, unjust, violent, and pre-eminently foolish. What, then, is the conclusion to which our present discourse is tending, and what point is it trying to make clear by these statements? Plainly it is this: both the Heaven-taught legislator of Crete [630c] and every legislator who is worth his salt will most assuredly legislate always with a single eye to the highest goodness and to that alone; and this (to quote Theognis) consists in “loyalty in danger,” and one might term it “complete righteousness.” But that goodness which Tyrtaeus specially praised, [630d] fair though it be and fitly glorified by the poet, deserves nevertheless to be placed no higher than fourth in order and estimation.7

Clinias
We are degrading our own lawgiver, Stranger, to a very low level!

Athenian
Nay, my good Sir, it is ourselves we are degrading, in so far as we imagine that it was with a special view to war that Lycurgus and Minos laid down all the legal usages here and in Lacedaemon.

Clinias
How, then, ought we to have stated the matter?

Athenian
In the way that is, as I think, true and proper [630e] when talking of a divine hero. That is to say, we should state that he enacted laws with an eye not to some one fraction, and that the most paltry, of goodness, but to goodness as a whole, and that he devised the laws themselves according to classes, though not the classes which the present devisers propound. For everyone now brings forward and devises just the class which he needs: one man deals with inheritances and heiresses, another with cases of battery, and so on [631a] in endless variety. But what we assert is that the devising of laws, when rightly conducted, follows the procedure which we have now commenced. Indeed, I greatly admire the way you opened your exposition of the laws; for to make a start with goodness and say that that was the aim of the lawgiver is the right way. But in your further statement that he legislated wholly with reference to a fraction of goodness, and that the smallest fraction, you seemed to me to be in error, and all this latter part of my discourse was because of that. What then is the manner of exposition I should have liked to have heard from you? [631b] Shall I tell you?

Clinias
Yes, by all means.

Athenian
“O Stranger” (thus you ought to have said), “it is not for nothing that the laws of the Cretans are held in superlatively high repute among all the Hellenes. For they are true laws inasmuch as they effect the well-being of those who use them by supplying all that are good. Now goods are of two kinds, human and divine; and the human goods are dependent on the divine, and he who receives the greater acquires also the less, or else he is bereft of both. [631c] The lesser goods are those of which health ranks first, beauty second; the third is strength, in running and all other bodily exercises; and the fourth is wealth—no blind god Plutus, but keen of sight, provided that he has wisdom for companion. And wisdom, in turn, has first place among the goods that are divine, and rational temperance of soul comes second; from these two, when united with courage, there issues justice, as the third; [631d] and the fourth is courage. Now all these are by nature ranked before the human goods, and verily the law-giver also must so rank them. Next, it must be proclaimed to the citizens that all the other instructions they receive have these in view; and that, of these goods themselves, the human look up to the divine, and the divine to reason as their chief. And in regard to their marriage connections, and to their subsequent breeding and rearing of children, male and female, both during youth and in later life [631e] up to old age, the lawgiver must supervise the citizens, duly apportioning honor and dishonor; and in regard to all their forms of intercourse he must observe and watch their pains and pleasures and desires and [632a] all intense passions, and distribute praise and blame correctly by the means of the laws themselves. Moreover, in the matter of anger and of fear, and of all the disturbances which befall souls owing to misfortune, and of all the avoidances thereof which occur in good-fortune, and of all the experiences which confront men through disease or war or penury or their opposites,— [632b] in regard to all these definite instruction must be given as to what is the right and what the wrong disposition in each case. It is necessary, in the next place, for the law-giver to keep a watch on the methods employed by the citizens in gaining and spending money, and to supervise the associations they form with one another, and the dissolutions thereof, whether they be voluntary or under compulsion; he must observe the manner in which they conduct each of these mutual transactions, and note where justice obtains and where it is lacking. To those that are obedient he must assign honors by law, but on the disobedient he must impose [632c] duly appointed penalties. Then finally, when he arrives at the completion of the whole constitution, he has to consider in what manner in each case the burial of the dead should be carried out, and what honors should be assigned to them. This being settled, the framer of the laws will hand over all his statutes to the charge of Wardens—guided some by wisdom, others by true opinion—to the end that Reason, having bound all into one single system, may declare them to be ancillary neither to wealth nor ambition, but to temperance and justice.” [632d] In this manner, Strangers, I could have wished (and I wish it still) that you had fully explained how all these regulations are inherent in the reputed laws of Zeus and in those of the Pythian Apollo which were ordained by Minos and Lycurgus, and how their systematic arrangement is quite evident to him who, whether by art or practice, is an expert in law, although it is by no means obvious to the rest of us.

Clinias
What then, Stranger, should be the next step in our argument?

Athenian
We ought, as I think, to do as we did at first— [632e] start from the beginning to explain first the institutions which have to do with courage; and after that we shall, if you wish, deal with a second and a third form of goodness. And as soon as we have completed our treatment of the first theme, we shall take that as our model and by a discussion of the rest on similar lines beguile the way; and at the end of our treatment of goodness in all its forms we shall make it clear, if God will, that the rules we discussed just now had goodness for their aim. [633a]

Megillus
A good suggestion! And begin with our friend here, the panegyrist of Zeus—try first to put him to the test.

Athenian
Try I will, and to test you too and myself; for the argument concerns us all alike. Tell me then: do we assert that the common meals and the gymnasia were devised by the lawgiver with a view to war?

Megillus
Yes.

Athenian
And is there a third institution of the kind, and a fourth? For probably one ought to employ this method of enumeration also in dealing with the subdivisions (or whatever we ought to call them) of the other forms of goodness, if only one makes oneÕs meaning clear. [633b]

Megillus
The third thing he devised was hunting: so I and every Lacedaemonian would say.

Athenian
Let us attempt also to state what comes fourth,—and fifth too, if possible.

Megillus
The fourth also I may attempt to state: it is the training, widely prevalent amongst us, in hardy endurance of pain, by means both of manual contests and of robberies carried out every time at the risk of a sound drubbing; moreover, the “Crypteia,”8 as it is called, affords a wonderfully severe training [633c] in hardihood, as the men go bare-foot in winter and sleep without coverlets and have no attendants, but wait on themselves and rove through the whole countryside both by night and by day. Moreover in our games,9 we have severe tests of endurance, when men unclad do battle with the violence of the heat,—and there are other instances so numerous that the recital of them would be well-nigh endless.

Athenian
Splendid, O Stranger of Lacedaemon! But come now, as to courage, how shall we define it? Shall we define it quite simply as battling against fears and pains only, [633d] or as against desires also and pleasures, with their dangerous enticements and flatteries, which melt men's hearts like wax—even men most reverenced in their own conceit.

Megillus
The latter definition is, I think, the right one: courage is battling against them all.

Athenian
Earlier in our discourse (if I am not mistaken) Clinias here used the expression “self-inferior” of a State or an individual: did you not do so, O Stranger of Cnosus?

Clinias
Most certainly. [633e]

Athenian
At present do we apply the term “bad” to the man who is inferior to pains, or to him also who is inferior to pleasures?

Clinias
To the man who is inferior to pleasures more than to the other, in my opinion. All of us, indeed, when we speak of a man who is shamefully self-inferior, mean one who is mastered by pleasures rather than one who is mastered by pains. [634a]

Athenian
Then surely the lawgiver of Zeus and he of Apollo did not enact by law a lame kind of courage, able only to defend itself on the left and unable to resist attractions and allurements on the right, but rather one able to resist on both sides?

Clinias
On both sides, as I would maintain.

Athenian
Let us, then, mention once more the State institutions in both your countries which give men a taste of pleasures instead of shunning them,—just as they did not shun pains but plunged their citizens into the midst of them and so compelled them, [634b] or induced them by rewards, to master them. Where, pray, in your laws is the same policy adopted in regard to pleasures? Let us declare what regulation of yours there is which causes the same men to be courageous toward pains and pleasures alike, conquering where they ought to conquer and in no wise worsted by their nearest and most dangerous enemies.

Megillus
Although, Stranger, I was able to mention a number of laws that dealt with mastery over pains, in the case of pleasures I may not find it equally easy to produce important and conspicuous examples; [634c] but I might perhaps furnish some minor instances.

Clinias
Neither could I in like manner give myself clear examples from the Cretan laws.

Athenian
And no wonder, my most excellent friends. If then, in his desire to discover what is true and superlatively good, any one of us should find fault with any domestic law of his neighbors, let us take one another's remarks in good part and without resentment. [634d]

Clinias
You are right, Stranger: that is what we must do.

Athenian
Yes, for resentment would ill become men of our years.

Clinias
Ill indeed.

Athenian
Whether men are right or wrong in their censures of the Laconian polity and the Cretan—that is another story; anyhow, what is actually said by most men I, probably, am in a better position to state than either of you. For in your case (your laws being wisely framed) one of the best of your laws will be that which enjoins that none of the youth shall inquire which laws are wrong [634e] and which right, but all shall declare in unison, with one mouth and one voice, that all are rightly established by divine enactment, and shall turn a deaf ear to anyone who says otherwise; and further, that if any old man has any stricture to pass on any of your laws, he must not utter such views in the presence of any young man, but before a magistrate or one of his own age.

Clinias
A very sound observation, Stranger; and just like a diviner, [635a] far away though you are from the original lawgiver, you have fairly spotted, as I think, his intention, and described it with perfect truth.

Athenian
Well, there are no young people with us now; so we may be permitted by the lawgiver, old as we are, to discuss these matters among ourselves privately without offence.

Clinias
That is so. Do you, then, have no scruple in censuring our laws; for there is nothing discreditable in being told of some flaw; rather it is just this which leads to a remedy, if the criticism be accepted not peevishly [635b] but in a friendly spirit.

Athenian
Good! But until I have investigated your laws as carefully as I can I shall not censure them but rather express the doubts I feel. You alone of Greeks and barbarians, so far as I can discover, possess a lawgiver who charged you to abstain from the greatest of pleasures and amusements and taste them not; but concerning pains and fears, as we said before, he held the view that anyone who shuns them continuously from childhood onward, when confronted with [635c] unavoidable hardships and fears and pains, will be put to flight by the men who are trained in such things, and will become their slave. Now I presume that this same lawgiver should have held the same view about pleasures as well, and should have argued with himself that, if our citizens grow up from their youth unpracticed in the greatest pleasures, the consequence must be that, when they find themselves amongst pleasures without being trained in the duty of resisting them and of refusing to commit any disgraceful act, [635d] because of the natural attraction of pleasures, they will suffer the same fate as those who are worsted by fears: they will, that is to say, in another and still more shameful fashion be enslaved by those who are able to hold out amidst pleasures and those who are versed in the art of pleasure,—people who are sometimes wholly vicious: thus their condition of soul will be partly enslaved and partly free, and they will not deserve to be called, without qualification, free men and men of courage. Consider, then, whether you at all approve these remarks of mine. [635e]

Clinias
On the face of them, we are inclined to approve; but to yield quick and easy credence in matters of such importance would, I fear, be rash and thoughtless.

Athenian
Well then, O Clinias, and thou, Stranger of Lacedaemon, suppose we discuss the second of the subjects we proposed, and take temperance next after courage: shall we discover any point in which these polities are superior to those framed at random, [636a] as we found just now in regard to their military organization?

Megillus
Hardly an easy matter! Yet probably the common meals and the gymnasia are well devised to foster both these virtues.

Athenian
In truth, Strangers, it seems a difficult thing for State institutions to be equally beyond criticism both in theory and in practice. Their case resembles that of the human body, where it seems impossible to prescribe any given treatment for each case without finding that this same prescription is partly beneficial and partly injurious to the body. [636b] So these common meals, for example, and these gymnasia, while they are at present beneficial to the States in many other respects, yet in the event of civil strife they prove dangerous (as is shown by the case of the youth of Miletus, Bocotia and Thurii);10 and, moreover, this institution, when of old standing, is thought to have corrupted the pleasures of love which are natural not to men only but also natural to beasts. For this your States are held primarily responsible, and along with them all others [636c] that especially encourage the use of gymnasia. And whether one makes the observation in earnest or in jest, one certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure. And we all accuse the Cretans of concocting the story about Ganymede. [636d] Because it was the belief that they derived their laws from Zeus, they added on this story about Zeus in order that they might be following his example in enjoying this pleasure as well. Now with the story itself we have no more concern; but when men are investigating the subject of laws their investigation deals almost entirely with pleasures and pains, whether in States or in individuals. These are the two fountains which gush out by nature's impulse; and whoever draws from them a due supply at the due place and time is blessed—be it a State [636e] or an individual or any kind of creature; but whosoever does so without understanding and out of due season will fare contrariwise.

Megillus
What you say, Stranger, is excellent, I suppose; nonetheless I am at a loss to know what reply I should make to it. Still, in my opinion, the Lacedaemonian lawgiver was right in ordaining the avoidance of pleasures, while as to the laws of Cnosus—our friend Clinias, [637a] if he thinks fit, will defend them. The rules about pleasures at Sparta seem to me the best in the world. For our law banished entirely from the land that institution which gives the most occasion for men to fall into excessive pleasures and riotous and follies of every description; neither in the country nor in the cities controlled by Spartiates is a drinking-club to be seen nor any of the practices which belong to such and foster to the utmost all kinds of pleasure. Indeed there is not a man who would not punish at once and most severely any drunken reveller he chanced to meet with, [637b] nor would even the feast of Dionysus serve as an excuse to save him—a revel such as I once upon a time witnessed “on the wagons”11 in your country; and at our colony of Tarentum, too, saw the whole city drunk at the Dionysia. But with us no such thing is possible.

Athenian
O Stranger of Lacedaemon, all such indulgences are praiseworthy where there exists a strain of firm moral fiber, [637c] but where this is relaxed they are quite stupid. An Athenian in self-defence might at once retaliate by pointing to the looseness of the women in your country. Regarding all such practices, whether in Tarentum, Athens or Sparta, there is one answer that is held to vindicate their propriety. The universal answer to the stranger who is surprised at seeing in a State some unwonted practice is this: “Be not surprised, O Stranger: such is the custom with us: with you, perhaps, the custom in these matters is different.” [637d] But, my dear Sirs, our argument now is not concerned with the rest of mankind but with the goodness or badness of the lawgivers themselves. So let us deal more fully with the subject of drunkenness in general for it is a practice of no slight importance, and it requires no mean legislator to understand it. I am now referring not to the drinking or non-drinking of wine generally, but to drunkenness pure and simple, and the question is—ought we to deal with it as the Scythians and Persians do and the Carthaginians also, and Celts, [637e] Iberians and Thracians, who are all warlike races, or as you Spartans do; for you, as you say, abstain from it altogether, whereas the Scythians and Thracians, both men and women, take their wine neat and let it pour down over their clothes, and regard this practice of theirs as a noble and splendid practice; and the Persians indulge greatly in these and other luxurious habits which you reject, albeit in a more orderly fashion than the others. [638a]

Megillus
But we, my good Sir, when we take arms in our hands, put all these people to rout.

Athenian
Say not so, my dear Sir; for there have been, in fact, in the past and there will be in the future many a flight and many a pursuit which are past explaining, so that victory or defeat in battle could never be called a decisive, but rather a questionable, test of the goodness or badness of an institution. Larger States, for example, are victorious in battle over smaller States, [638b] and we find the Syracusans subjugating the Locrians, who are reputed to have been the best-governed of the peoples in that part of the world: and the Athenians the Ceians,—and we could find countless other instances of the same kind. So let us leave victories and defeats out of account for the present, and discuss each several institution on its own merits in the endeavor to convince ourselves, and explain in what way one kind is good and another had. And to begin with, listen to my account of the right method of inquiring into the merits and demerits of institutions. [638c]

Megillus
What is your account of it?

Athenian
In my opinion all those who take up an institution for discussion and propose, at its first mention, to censure it or commend it, are proceeding in quite the wrong way. Their action is like that of a man who, when he hears somebody praising cheese as a good food, at once starts to disparage it, without having learnt either its effects or its mode of administration—in what form it should be administered and by whom and with what accompaniments, and in what condition and to people in what condition. [638d] This, as it seems to me, is exactly what we are now doing in our discourse. At the first mention of the mere name of drunkenness, straightway we fall, some of us to blaming it, others to praising it; which is most absurd. Each party relies on the aid of witnesses, and while the one party claims that its statement is convincing on the ground of the large number of witnesses produced, the other does so on the ground that those who abstain from wine are seen to be victorious in battle; and then this point also gives rise to a dispute. Now it would not be at all to my taste to go through all the rest of the legal arrangements in this fashion; [638e] and about our present subject, drunkenness, I desire to speak in quite another fashion (in my opinion, the right fashion), and I shall endeavor, if possible, to exhibit the correct method for dealing with all such subjects for indeed the view of them adopted by your two States would be assailed and controverted by thousands upon thousands of nations.

Megillus
Assuredly, if we know of a right method of investigating these matters, [639a] we are bound to give it a ready hearing.

Athenian
Let us adopt some such method as this. Suppose that a man were to praise the rearing of goats, and the goat itself as a fine thing to own, and suppose also that another man, who had seen goats grazing without a herd and doing damage on cultivated land, were to run them down, and find fault equally with every animal he saw that was without a master or under a bad master,—would such a man's censure, about any object whatsoever, be of the smallest value?

Megillus
Certainly not. [639b]

Athenian
Do we call the man who possesses only nautical science, whether or not he suffers from sea-sickness, a good commander on a ship—or what?

Megillus
By no means good, if along with his skill he suffers in the way you say.

Athenian
And how about the army commander? Is a man fit for command, provided that he has military science, even though he be a coward and sea-sick with a kind of tipsy terror when danger comes?

Megillus
Certainly not.

Athenian
And suppose he has no military skill, besides being a coward?

Megillus
You are describing an utterly worthless fellow, not a commander of men at all, but of the most womanish of women. [639c]

Athenian
Now take the case of any social institution whatsoever which naturally has a commander and which, under its commander, is beneficial; and suppose that someone, who had never seen the conduct of the institution under its commander, but seen it only when with no commander or bad commanders, were to commend the institution or censure it: do we imagine that either the praise or the blame of such an observer of such an institution is of any value?

Megillus
Certainly not, when the man has never seen nor shared in an institution of the kind [639d] that was properly conducted.

Athenian
Now stay a moment! Shall we lay it down that, of the numerous kinds of social institutions, that of banqueters and banquetings forms one?

Megillus
Most certainly.

Athenian
Now has anyone ever yet beheld this institution rightly conducted? Both of you can easily make answer—“Never yet at all,” for with you this institution is neither customary nor legal; but I have come across many modes of banqueting in many places, and I have also inquired into nearly all of them, and I have scarcely seen or heard of [639e] a single one that was in all points rightly conducted; for if any were right at all, it was only in a few details, and most of them were almost entirely on the wrong lines.

Clinias
What do you mean by that, Stranger? Explain yourself more clearly; for since we are (as you observed) without any experience of such institutions, [640a] even if we did come across them, we would probably fail to see at once what was right in them and what wrong.

Athenian
That is very probable. Try, however, to learn from my description. This you understand—that in all gatherings and associations for any purpose whatsoever it is right that each group should always have a commander.

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
Moreover, we have recently said that the commander of fighting men must be courageous.

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
The courageous man is less perturbed by alarms than the coward. [640b]

Clinias
That is true, too.

Athenian
Now if there had existed any device for putting an army in charge of a general who was absolutely impervious to fear or perturbation, should we not have made every effort to do so?

Clinias
Most certainly.

Athenian
But what we are discussing now is not the man who is to command an army in time of war, in meetings of foe with foe, but the man who is to command friends in friendly association with friends in time of peace.

Clinias
Quite so. [640c]

Athenian
Such a gathering, if accompanied by drunkenness, is not free from disturbance, is it?

Clinias
Certainly not; quite the reverse, I imagine.

Athenian
So those people also need, in the first place, a commander?

Clinias
Undoubtedly—they above all.

Athenian
Should we, if possible, provide them with a commander who is imperturbable?

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Naturally, also, he should be wise about social gatherings. For he has both to preserve [640d] the friendliness which already exists among the company and to see that the present gathering promotes it still further.

Clinias
Very true.

Athenian
Then the commander we set over drunken men should be sober and wise, rather than the opposite? For a commander of drunkards who was himself drunken, young, and foolish would be very lucky if he escaped doing some serious mischief.

Clinias
Uncommonly lucky.

Athenian
Suppose, then, that a man were to find fault with such institutions in States where they are managed in the best possible way, [640e] having an objection to the institution in itself, he might perhaps be right in doing so but if a man abuses an institution when he sees it managed in the worst way possible, it is plain that he is ignorant, first, of the fact that it is badly conducted, and secondly, that every institution will appear similarly bad when it is carried on without a sober ruler and commander. For surely you perceive [641a] that a sea-captain, and every commander of anything, if drunk, upsets everything, whether it be a ship or a chariot or an army or anything else that under his captaincy.

Clinias
What you say, Stranger, is perfectly true. In the next place, then, tell us this:—suppose this institution of drinking were rightly conducted, of what possible benefit would it be to us? Take the case of an army, which we mentioned just now: there, given a right leader, his men will win victory in war, which is no small benefit; and so too with the other cases: but what solid advantage would accrue [641b] either to individuals or to a State from the right regulation of a wine-party?

Athenian
Well, what great gain should we say would accrue to the State from the right control of one single child or even of one band of children? To the question thus put to us we should reply that the State would benefit but little from one; if, however, you are putting a general question as to what solid advantage the State gains from the education of the educated, then it is quite simple to reply that well-educated men will prove good men, and being good they will conquer their foes in battle, [641c] besides acting nobly in other ways. Thus, while education brings also victory, victory sometimes brings lack of education for men have often grown more insolent because of victory in war, and through their insolence they have become filled with countless other vices; and whereas education has never yet proved to be “Cadmeian,”12 the victories which men win in war often have been, and will be, “Cadmeian.”

Clinias
You are implying, my friend, as it seems to us, that the convivial gathering, [641d] when rightly conducted, is an important element in education.

Athenian
Assuredly.

Clinias
Could you then show us, in the next place, how this statement is true?

Athenian
The truth of my statement, which is disputed by many, it is for God to assert; but I am quite ready to give, if required, my own opinion, now that we have, in fact, embarked on a discussion of laws and constitutions.

Clinias
Well, it is precisely your opinion [641e] about the questions now in dispute that we are trying to learn.

Athenian
Thus, then, we must do,—you must brace yourself in the effort to learn the argument, and I to expound it as best I can. But, first of all, I have a preliminary observation to make: our city, Athens, is, in the general opinion of the Greeks, both fond of talk and full of talk, but Lacedaemon is scant of talk, while Crete is more witty13 than wordy; [642a] so I am afraid of making you think that I am a great talker about a small matter, if I spin out a discourse of prodigious length about the small matter of drunkenness. But the fact is that the right ordering of this could never be treated adequately and clearly in our discourse apart from rightness in music, nor could music, apart from education as a whole; and these require lengthy discussions. Consider, then, what we are to do: suppose we leave these matters over for the present, [642b] and take up some other legal topic instead.

Megillus
O Stranger of Athens, you are not, perhaps, aware that our family is, in fact, a “proxenus”14 of your State. It is probably true of all children that, when once they have been told that they are “proxeni” of a certain State, they conceive an affection for that State even from infancy, and each of them regards it as a second mother-land, next after his own country. That is precisely the feeling I now experience. For through hearing mere children crying out— [642c] whenever they, being the Lacedaemonians, were blaming the Athenians for anything or praising them—“Your State, Megillus, has done us a bad turn or a good one,”—through hearing such remarks, I say, and constantly fighting your battles against those who were thus decrying your State, I acquired a deep affection for it; so that now not only do I delight in your accent, but I regard as absolutely true the common saying that “good Athenians are always incomparably good,” for they alone are good [642d] not by outward compulsion but by inner disposition. Thus, so far as I am concerned, you may speak without fear and say all you please.

Clinias
My story, too, Stranger, when you hear it, will show you that you may boldly say all you wish. You have probably heard how that inspired man Epimenides, who was a family connection of ours, was born in Crete; and how ten years15 before the Persian War, in obedience to the oracle of the god, he went to Athens and offered certain sacrifices which the god had ordained; and how, moreover, when the Athenians were alarmed at the Persians' expeditionary force, [642e] he made this prophecy—“They will not come for ten years, and when they do come, they will return back again with all their hopes frustrated, and after suffering more woes than they inflict.” Then our forefathers became guest-friends of yours, and ever since both my fathers and I myself [643a] have cherished an affection for Athens.

Athenian
Evidently, then, you are both ready to play your part as listeners. But as for my part, though the will is there, to compass the task is hard: still, I must try. In the first place, then, our argument requires that we should define education and describe its effects: that is the path on which our present discourse must proceed until it finally arrives at the god of Wine.

Clinias
By all means let us do so, since it is your wish. [643b]

Athenian
Then while I am stating how education ought to be defined, you must be considering whether you are satisfied with my statement.

Clinias
Proceed with your statement.

Athenian
I will. What I assert is that every man who is going to be good at any pursuit must practice that special pursuit from infancy, by using all the implements of his pursuit both in his play and in his work. For example, the man who is to make a good builder [643c] must play at building toy houses, and to make a good farmer he must play at tilling land; and those who are rearing them must provide each child with toy tools modelled on real ones. Besides this, they ought to have elementary instruction in all the necessary subjects,—the carpenter, for instance, being taught in play the use of rule and measure, the soldier taught riding or some similar accomplishment. So, by means of their games, we should endeavor to turn the tastes and desires of the children in the direction of that object which forms their ultimate goal. First and foremost, [643d] education, we say, consists in that right nurture which most strongly draws the soul of the child when at play to a love for that pursuit of which, when he becomes a man, he must possess a perfect mastery. Now consider, as I said before, whether, up to this point, you are satisfied with this statement of mine.

Clinias
Certainly we are.

Athenian
But we must not allow our description of education to remain indefinite. For at present, when censuring or commending a man's upbringing, we describe one man [643e] as educated and another as uneducated, though the latter may often be uncommonly well educated in the trade of a pedlar or a skipper, or some other similar occupation. But we, naturally, in our present discourse are not taking the view that such things as these make up education: the education we speak of is training from childhood in goodness, which makes a man eagerly desirous of becoming a perfect citizen, understanding how both to rule and be ruled righteously. This is the special form of nurture [644a] to which, as I suppose, our present argument would confine the term “education” whereas an upbringing which aims only at money-making or physical strength, or even some mental accomplishment devoid of reason and justice, it would term vulgar and illiberal and utterly unworthy of the name “education.” Let us not, however, quarrel over a name, but let us abide by the statement we agreed upon just now, that those who are rightly educated become, as a rule, good, [644b] and that one should in no case disparage education, since it stands first among the finest gifts that are given to the best men; and if ever it errs from the right path, but can be put straight again, to this task every man, so long as he lives, must address himself with all his might.

Clinias
You are right, and we agree with what you say.

Athenian
Further, we agreed long ago that if men are capable of ruling themselves, they are good, but if incapable, bad.

Clinias
Quite true.

Athenian
Let us, then, re-state more clearly [644c] what we meant by this. With your permission, I will make use of an illustration in the hope of explaining the matter.

Clinias
Go ahead.

Athenian
May we assume that each of us by himself is a single unit?

Clinias
Yes.

Athenian
And that each possesses within himself two antagonistic and foolish counsellors, whom we call by the names of pleasure and pain?

Clinias
That is so.

Athenian
And that, besides these two, each man possesses opinions about the future, which go by the general name of “expectations”; and of these, that which precedes pain bears the special name of “fear,” and that which precedes pleasure the special name of “confidence”; [644d] and in addition to all these there is “calculation,” pronouncing which of them is good, which bad; and “calculation,” when it has become the public decree of the State, is named “law.”

Clinias
I have some difficulty in keeping pace with you: assume, however, that I do so, and proceed.

Megillus
I am in exactly the same predicament.

Athenian
Let us conceive of the matter in this way. Let us suppose that each of us living creatures is an ingenious puppet of the gods, whether contrived by way of a toy of theirs or for some serious purpose—for as to that we know nothing; [644e] but this we do know, that these inward affections of ours, like sinews or cords, drag us along and, being opposed to each other, pull one against the other to opposite actions; and herein lies the dividing line between goodness and badness. For, as our argument declares, there is one of these pulling forces which every man should always follow and nohow leave hold of, counteracting thereby the pull of the other sinews: [645a] it is the leading-string, golden and holy, of “calculation,” entitled the public law of the State; and whereas the other cords are hard and steely and of every possible shape and semblance, this one is flexible and uniform, since it is of gold. With that most excellent leading-string of the law we must needs co-operate always; for since calculation is excellent, but gentle rather than forceful, its leading-string needs helpers to ensure that the golden kind within us may vanquish the other kinds. [645b] In this way our story comparing ourselves to puppets will not fall flat, and the meaning of the terms “self-superior” and “self-inferior” will become somewhat more clear, and also how necessary it is for the individual man to grasp the true account of these inward pulling forces and to live in accordance therewith, and how necessary for the State (when it has received such an account either from a god or from a man who knows) to make this into a law for itself and be guided thereby in its intercourse both with itself and with all other States. [645c] Thus both badness and goodness would be differentiated for us more clearly; and these having become more evident, probably education also and the other institutions will appear less obscure; and about the institution of the wine-party in particular it may very likely be shown that it is by no means, as might be thought, a paltry matter which it is absurd to discuss at great length but rather a matter which folly merits prolonged discussion.

Clinias
Quite right: let us go through with every topic that seems important for the present discussion. [645d]

Athenian
Tell me now: if we give strong drink to this puppet of ours, what effect will it have on its character?

Clinias
In reference to what particular do you ask this question?

Athenian
To no particular, for the moment: I am putting the question in general terms—“when this shares in that, what sort of thing does it become in consequence?” I will try to convey my meaning still more clearly: what I ask is this—does the drinking of wine intensify pleasures and pains and passions and lusts?

Clinias
Yes, greatly. [645e]

Athenian
And how about sensations and recollections and opinions and thoughts? Does it make them likewise more intense? Or rather, do not these quit a man entirely if he becomes surfeited with drink?

Clinias
Yes, they quit him entirely.

Athenian
He then arrives at the same condition of soul as when he was a young child?

Clinias
He does.

Athenian
So at that moment he will have very little control of himself? [646a]

Clinias
Very little.

Athenian
And such a man is, we say, very bad?

Clinias
Very, indeed.

Athenian
It appears, then, that not the grey-beard only may be in his “second childhood,” but the drunkard as well.

Clinias
An admirable observation, Stranger.

Athenian
Is there any argument which will undertake to persuade us that this is a practice we ought to indulge in, instead of shunning it with all our might so far as we possibly can?

Clinias
It appears that there is: at any rate you assert this, and you were ready just now to argue it. [646b]

Athenian
You are right in your reminder, and I am still ready to do so, now that you and Megillus have both expressed your willingness to listen to me.

Clinias
Of course we shall listen, if only on account of the surprising paradox that, of his own free will, a man ought to plunge into the depths of depravity.

Athenian
Depravity of soul, you mean, do you not?

Clinias
Yes.

Athenian
And how about plunging into a bad state of body, such as leanness or ugliness or impotence? Should we be surprised if a man of his own free will ever [646c] got into such a state?

Clinias
Of course we should.

Athenian
Well then, do we suppose that persons who go of themselves to dispensaries to drink medicines are not aware that soon afterwards, and for many days to come, they will find themselves in a bodily condition such as would make life intolerable16 if it were to last for ever? And we know, do we not, that men who go to the gymnasia for hard training commence by becoming weaker?

Clinias
All this we know.

Athenian
We know also that they go there voluntarily for the sake of the subsequent benefit ? [646d]

Clinias
Quite true.

Athenian
Should one not take the same view of the other institutions also?

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Then one must also take the same view of the practice of wine-drinking, if one can rightly class it amongst the others.

Clinias
Of course one must.

Athenian
If then this practice should be shown to be quite as beneficial for us as bodily training, certainly at the outset it is superior to it, in so far as it is not, like bodily training, accompanied by pain. [646e]

Clinias
That is true; but I should be surprised if we succeeded in discovering in it any benefit.

Athenian
That is precisely the point which we must at once try to make plain. Tell me now: can we discern two kinds of fear, of which the one is nearly the opposite of the other?

Clinias
What kinds do you mean?

Athenian
These: when we expect evils to occur, we fear them.

Clinias
Yes.

Athenian
And often we fear reputation, when we think we shall gain a bad repute for doing or saying something base; [647a] and this fear we (like everybody else, I imagine) call shame.

Clinias
Of course.

Athenian
These are the two fears I was meaning; and of these the second is opposed to pains and to all other objects of fear, and opposed also to the greatest and most numerous pleasures.17

Clinias
Very true.

Athenian
Does not, then, the lawgiver, and every man who is worth anything, hold this kind of fear in the highest honor, and name it “modesty”; and to the confidence which is opposed to it does he not give the name “immodesty,” and pronounce it to be for all, [647b] both publicly and privately, a very great evil?

Clinias
Quite right.

Athenian
And does not this fear, besides saving us in many other important respects, prove more effective than anything else in ensuring for us victory in war and security? For victory is, in fact, ensured by two things, of which the one is confidence towards enemies, the other, fear of the shame of cowardice in the eyes of friends.

Clinias
That is so.

Athenian
Thus each one of us ought to become both fearless and fearful; [647c] and that for the several reasons we have now explained.

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Moreover, when we desire to make a person fearless in respect of a number of fears, it is by drawing him, with the help of the law, into fear that we make him such.

Clinias
Apparently.

Athenian
And how about the opposite case, when we attempt with the aid of justice to make a man fearful? Is it not by pitting him against shamelessness and exercising him against it that we must make him victorious in the fight against his own pleasures? Or shall we say that, whereas in the case of courage it is only by fighting and conquering his innate cowardice [647d] that a man can become perfect, and no one unversed and unpracticed in contests of this sort can attain even half the excellence of which he is capable,—in the case of temperance, on the other hand, a man may attain perfection without a stubborn fight against hordes of pleasures and lusts which entice towards shamelessness and wrong-doing, and without conquering them by the aid of speech and act and skill, alike in play and at work,—and, in fact, without undergoing any of these experiences?

Clinias
It would not be reasonable to suppose so. [647e]

Athenian
Well then: in the case of fear does there exist any specific, given by God to men, such that, the more a man likes to drink of it, the more, [648a] at every draught, he fancies himself plunged in misfortune and finally, though he be the bravest of men, he arrives at a state of abject terror; whereas, when he has once got relieved of the potion and slept it off, he always becomes his normal self again?

Clinias
What potion of the kind can we mention, Stranger, as existing anywhere?

Athenian
There is none. Supposing, however, that there had been one, would it have been of any service to the lawgiver for promoting courage? For instance, we might quite well have addressed him concerning it in this wise: “Come now, O lawgiver,—whether it be Cretans you are legislating for [648b] or anyone else, would not your first desire be to have a test of courage and of cowardice which you might apply to your citizens?”

Clinias
Obviously everyone of them would say “Yes.”

Athenian
“And would you desire a test that was safe and free from serious risks, or the reverse?”

Clinias
All will agree, also, that the test must be safe.

Athenian
“And would you utilize the test by bringing men into these fears and proving them while thus affected, so as to compel them to become fearless; employing exhortations admonitions and rewards,— [648c] but degradation for all those that refused to conform wholly to the character you prescribed? And would you acquit without penalty everyone who had trained himself manfully and well, but impose a penalty on everyone who had done so badly? Or would you totally refuse to employ the potion as a test, although you have no objection to it on other grounds?”

Clinias
Of course he would employ it, Stranger.

Athenian
At any rate, my friend, the training involved would be wonderfully simple, as compared with our present methods, whether it were applied to individuals singly, or to small groups, [648d] or to groups ever so large. Suppose, then, that a man, actuated by a feeling of shame and loth to show himself in public before he was in the best of condition, should remain alone by himself while undergoing this training against fears and relying on the potion alone for his solitary equipment, instead of endless exercises,—he would be acting quite rightly: so too would he who, trusting in himself that by nature and practice he is already well equipped, should have no hesitation in training in company with a number of drinking companions and showing off how for speed and strength he is superior to the potency of the draughts he is obliged to drink, [648e] with the result that because of his excellence he neither commits any grave impropriety nor loses his head, and who, before they came to the last round, should quit the company, through fear of the defeat inflicted on all men by the wine-cup.

Clinias
Yes, Stranger, this man too would be acting temperately. [649a]

Athenian
Once more let us address the lawgiver and say: “Be it so, O lawgiver, that for producing fear no such drug apparently has been given to men by God, nor have we devised such ourselves (for quacks I count not of our company); but does there exist a potion for inducing fearlessness and excessive and untimely confidence,—of what shall we say about this?''

Clinias
Presumably, he will assert that there is one,—naming wine.

Athenian
And is not this exactly the opposite of the potion described just now? For, first, it makes the person who drinks it more jovial than he was before, and the more he imbibes it, the more [649b] he becomes filled with high hopes and a sense of power, till finally, puffed up with conceit, he abounds in every kind of licence of speech and action and every kind of audacity, without a scruple as to what he says or what he does. Everyone, I imagine, would agree that this is so.

Clinias
Undoubtedly.

Athenian
Let us recall our previous statement that we must cultivate in our souls two things—namely, [649c] the greatest possible confidence, and its opposite, the greatest possible fear.

Clinias
Which you called, I think, the marks of modesty.

Athenian
Your memory serves you well. Since courage and fearlessness ought to be practised amidst fears, we have to consider whether the opposite quality ought to be cultivated amidst conditions of the opposite kind.

Clinias
It certainly seems probable.

Athenian
It appears then that we ought to be placed amongst those conditions which naturally tend to make us exceptionally confident and audacious when we are practising how to be as free as possible from shamelessness [649d] and excessive audacity, and fearful of ever daring to say or suffer or do anything shameful.

Clinias
So it appears.

Athenian
And are not these the conditions in which we are of the character described,—anger, lust, insolence, ignorance, covetousness, and extravagance; and these also,—wealth, beauty, strength, and everything which intoxicates a man with pleasure and turns his head? And for the purpose, first, of providing a cheap and comparatively harmless test of these conditions, and, secondly, of affording practice in them, what more suitable pleasure can we mention than wine, [649e] with its playful testing—provided that it is employed at all carefully? For consider: in the case of a man whose disposition is morose and savage (whence spring numberless iniquities), is it not more dangerous to test him by entering into money transactions with him, at one's own personal risk, than by associating with him with the help of Dionysus and his festive insight? [650a] And when a man is a slave to the pleasures of sex, is it not a more dangerous test to entrust to him one's own daughters and sons and wife, and thus imperil one's own nearest and dearest, in order to discover the disposition of his soul? In fact, one might quote innumerable instances in a vain endeavor to show the full superiority of this playful method of inspection which is without either serious consequence or costly damage. Indeed, so far as that is concerned, neither the Cretans, [650b] I imagine, nor any other people would dispute the fact that herein we have a fair test of man by man, and that for cheapness, security and speed it is superior to all other tests.

Clinias
That certainly is true.

Athenian
This then—the discovery of the natures and conditions of men's souls—will prove one of the things most useful to that art whose task it is to treat them; and that art is (as I presume we say) the art of politics: is it not so?

Clinias
Undoubtedly.

1 Cp. Hom. Od. 19.178.

2 The grotto of Dicte on Mt. Ida.

3 Cp. Plat. Rep. 430e ff.: Proverbs xiv 32.

4 Tyrt. 12 (Bergk). Tyrtaeus wrote war-songs at Sparta about 880 B.C.

5 He wrote sententious poetry about 550 B.C.

6 Tyrt. xi. 21.

7 i.e. courage comes after wisdom, prudence and justice.

8 Or “Secret Service.” Young Spartans policed the country to suppress risings among the Helots.

9 The “Naked Games,” held about midsummer.

10 Plato here ascribes the revolutions which occurred in these places to the intensive military training of the youth. Thurii was a Greek town in S. Italy, an off-shoot of Syhsris.

11 At the Feast of Dionysus in Athens it was customary for revellers mounted on wagons to indulge in scurrilous language during the processions.

12 i.e. involving more loss than gain—a proverbial expression, possibly derived from the fate of the “Sparti” (sprung from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus, founder of Thebes) who slew one another: cp. “Pyrrhic” victory.

13 A polite way of alluding to the proverbial mendacity of the Cretans (cp. Ep. Titus i. 12: κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται).

14 A “proxenus” was a native who acted as official representative of a foreign State.

15 Epimenides really lived about 600 B.C.

16 Evidently, drastic purgatives were commonly prescribed.

17 i.e. shame, which is fear of disgrace, induces fortitude under pain and the power of resisting vicious pleasures.

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 Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Lacedaemon (Greece) (10)
Crete (Greece) (7)
Athens (Greece) (7)
Thurii (2)
Tarentum (Italy) (2)
Thessaly (Greece) (1)
Thebes (Greece) (1)
Miletus (Turkey) (1)
Attica (Greece) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

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.
880 BC (1)
550 BC (1)
hide References (4 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: