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[121a]

Alcibiades
Yes, and mine, Socrates, to Eurysaces, and that of Eurysaces to Zeus!

Socrates
Yes, and mine, noble Alcibiades, to Daedalus,1 and Daedalus to Hephaestus, son of Zeus! But take the lines of those people,2 going back from them: you have a succession of kings reaching to Zeus—on the one hand, kings of Argos and Sparta; on the other, of Persia, which they have always ruled, and frequently Asia also, as at present; whereas we are private persons ourselves, and so were our fathers. And then, [121b] suppose that you had to make what show you could of your ancestors, and of Salamis as the native land of Eurysaces, or of Aegina as the home of the yet earlier Aeacus, to impress Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes, how you must expect to be laughed at! Why, I am afraid we are quite outdone by those persons in pride of birth and upbringing altogether. Or have you not observed how great are the advantages of the Spartan kings, and how their wives are kept under statutory ward of the ephors, in order that every possible precaution may be taken against the king being born [121c] of any but the Heracleidae? And the Persian king so far surpasses us that no one has a suspicion that he could have been born of anybody but the king before him; and hence the king's wife has nothing to guard her except fear. When the eldest son, the heir to the throne, is born, first of all the king's subjects who are in his palace have a feast, and then for ever after on that date the whole of Asia celebrates the king's birthday with sacrifice and feasting: but when we are born, as the comic poet3 says, [121d] “even the neighbors barely notice it,” Plato Comicus? Alcibiades. After that comes the nurture of the child, not at the hands of a woman-nurse of little worth, but of the most highly approved eunuchs in the king's service, who are charged with the whole tendance of the new-born child, and especially with the business of making him as handsome as possible by moulding his limbs into a correct shape; and while doing this they are in high honor. [121e] When the boys are seven years old they are given horses and have riding lessons, and they begin to follow the chase. And when the boy reaches fourteen years he is taken over by the royal tutors, as they call them there: these are four men chosen as the most highly esteemed among the Persians of mature age, namely, the wisest one, the justest one, the most temperate one,


1 Socrates' father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor, and Daedalus was the legendary inventor of sculpture.

2 i.e., the kings of Sparta and Persia.

3 The saying, which became proverbial, is thought to have occurred in one of the (now lost) plays of Plato, the Athenian comic poet, who lived c. 460-389 B.C.

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