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[918a] for those engaged in business in the market. The duties of the city-stewards have been fully stated already;1 in case any addition seems to be required, they shall inform the Law-wardens, and write out what seems to be wanting; and they shall post up on the pillar at the city-stewards office both the primary and the secondary regulations pertaining to their office. Following close upon practices of adulteration follow practices of retail trading; concerning which, as a whole, we shall first offer counsel and argument, [918b] and then impose on it a law. The natural purpose for which all retail trading comes into existence in a State is not loss, but precisely the opposite; for how can any man be anything but a benefactor if he renders even and symmetrical the distribution of any kind of goods which before was unsymmetrical and uneven? And this is, we must say, the effect produced by the power of money, and we must declare that the merchant is ordained for this purpose. And the hireling and the innkeeper and the rest—some more and some [918c] less respectable trades,—all have this function, namely, to provide all men with full satisfaction of their needs and with evenness in their properties.2 Let us see then wherein trade is reputed to be a thing not noble nor even respectable, and what has caused it to be disparaged, in order that we may remedy by law parts of it at least, if not the whole. This is an undertaking, it would seem, of no slight importance, and one that calls for no little virtue.

How do you mean?

My dear Clinias, small is the class of men—rare by nature and trained, too, with a superlative training—who, when they fall into diverse needs and lusts, [918d] are able to stand out firmly for moderation, and who, when they have the power of taking much wealth, are sober, and choose what is of due measure rather than what is large. The disposition of the mass of mankind is exactly the opposite of this; when they desire, they desire without limit, and when they can make moderate gains, they prefer to gain insatiably; and it is because of this that all the classes concerned with retail trade, commerce, and inn-keeping are disparaged and subjected to violent abuse. Now if anyone were to do what never will be done (Heaven forbid !)—but I shall make the supposition, ridiculous though it is— [918e] namely, compel the best men everywhere for a certain period to keep inns or to peddle or to carry on any such trade, or even to compel women by some necessity of fate to take part in such a mode of life,—then we should learn how that each of these callings is friendly and desirable; and if all these callings were carried on according to a rule free from corruption, they would be honored

1 Cp. Plat. Laws 759a., Plat. Laws 849e., Plat. Laws 881c.

2 i.e. by equalizing the distribution of goods throughout the community. Cp. Aristot. Pol. 1257a 14 ff.

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