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[822a] Do try to tell us thus much, at least, about it, with all possible clearness,

I must try. The opinion, my friends, that the Sun and Moon and the rest of the stars “wander” is not correct; the truth is precisely the opposite: each of them always travels in a circle one and the same path,—not many paths, although it appears to move along many paths; and the quickest of the stars is wrongly opined to be the slowest, and vice versa.1 [822b] If these are the real facts and we imagine otherwise,—well, suppose we held a similar notion about horses racing at Olympia, or about long-distance runners, and proclaimed the quickest to be slowest and the slowest quickest, and sang chants lauding the loser as the winner, why, then, the laudations we bestowed on the runners would be neither right nor acceptable, though they were but mortal men. But in the present case, when we commit the same error [822c] about gods, do we not think that what would have been ludicrous and wrong there and then is, here and now and in dealing with this subject, by no means ludicrous and assuredly not pleasing to the gods, when concerning gods we repeat a tale that is false?

Very true, if the facts are as you say.

Then, if we demonstrate that they really are so, shall all these subjects be learnt up to the point mentioned, and, failing that demonstration, be left alone? Is that to be our agreement? [822d]


We may now say that our regulations concerning subjects of education have been completed. The subject of hunting, and similar pursuits, must now be dealt with in a similar manner. The duty laid upon the lawgiver probably goes further than the bare task of enacting laws: in addition to laws, there is something else which falls naturally between advice and law— [822e] a thing which has often cropped up in the course of our discussion,2 as, for example, in connection with the nurture of young children: such matters, we say, should not be left unregulated, but it would be most foolish to regard those regulations as enacted laws. When, then, the laws and the whole constitution have been thus written down, our praise of the citizen who is preeminent for virtue will not be complete when we say that the virtuous man is he who is the best servant of the laws and the most obedient; a more complete statement will be this,—that the virtuous man is he who passes through life consistently obeying the written rules of the lawgiver, as given in his legislation, approbation and disapprobation.3

1 Cp.Plat. Tim. 39d ff.

2 Plat. Laws 788a ff., Plat. Laws 793a ff.

3 i.e. for perfect virtue there is required not only obedience to statute law, but also conformity with all the other rules of conduct laid down by the lawgiver in the less rigid form of advice (“approbation” and “disapprobation”).

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