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[364b] and disregard those who are in any way weak or poor, even while admitting that they are better men than the others. But the strangest of all these speeches are the things they say about the gods1 and virtue, how so it is that the gods themselves assign to many good men misfortunes and an evil life but to their opposites a contrary lot; and begging priests2 and soothsayers go to rich men's doors and make them believe that they by means of sacrifices and incantations have accumulated a treasure of power from the gods3 that can expiate and cure with pleasurable festivals

1 The gnomic poets complain that bad men prosper for a time, but they have faith in the late punishment of the wicked and the final triumph of justice.

2 There is a striking analogy between Plato's language here and the description by Protestant historians of the sale of indulgences by Tetzel in Germany. Rich men's doors is proverbial. Cf. 489 B.

3 Cf. Mill, “Utility of Religion,”Three Essays on Religion, p. 90: “All positive religions aid this self-delusion. Bad religions teach that divine vengeance may be bought off by offerings or personal abasement.” Plato, Laws 885 D, anticipates Mill. With the whole passage compare the scenes at the founding of Cloudcuckootown, Aristophanes Birds 960-990, and more seriously the medieval doctrine of the “treasure of the church” and the Hindu tapas.

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