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Give ear to me now, albeit ye have already done so in the past. None the less, one must take great heed, now as before, both in the telling and in the hearing of a thing that is supremely strange and novel. To make the statement that I am going to make is an alarming task; yet I will summon up my courage, and not shrink from it.Clinias
What is the statement you refer to, Stranger?Athenian
I assert that there exists in every State a complete ignorance about children's games—how that they are of decisive importance for legislation, as determining whether the laws enacted are to be permanent or not. [797b] For when the program of games is prescribed and secures that the same children always play the same games and delight in the same toys in the same way and under the same conditions, it allows the real and serious laws also to remain undisturbed; but when these games vary and suffer innovations, amongst other constant alterations the children are always shifting their fancy from one game to another, so that neither in respect of their own bodily gestures nor in respect of their equipment have they any fixed and acknowledged standard of propriety and impropriety; but the man they hold in special honor is he who is always innovating or introducing some novel device [797c] in the matter of form or color or something of the sort; whereas it would be perfectly true to say that a State can have no worse pest than a man of that description, since he privily alters the characters of the young, and causes them to contemn what is old and esteem what is new. And I repeat again that there is no greater mischief a State can suffer than such a dictum and doctrine: just listen while I tell you how great an evil it is. [797d] Clinias
Do you mean the way people rail at antiquity in States?Athenian
That is a theme on which you will find us no grudging listeners, but the most sympathetic possible.Athenian
I should certainly expect it to be so.Clinias
Only say on.Athenian
Come now, let us listen to one another and address one another on this subject with greater care than ever. Nothing, as we shall find, is more perilous than change in respect of everything, save only what is bad,—in respect of seasons, winds, bodily diet, mental disposition, everything in short with the solitary exception, as I said just now, of the bad. [797e] Accordingly, if one considers the human body, and sees how it grows used to all kinds of meats and drinks and exercises, even though at first upset by them, and how presently out of these very materials it grows flesh that is akin to them, and acquiring thus a familiar acquaintance with,
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