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[17a]

Socrates
One, two, three,—but where, my dear Timaeus, is the fourth1 of our guests of yesterday, our hosts of today?

Timaeus
Some sickness has befallen him, Socrates; for he would never have stayed away from our gathering of his own free will.

Socrates
Then the task of filling the place of the absent one falls upon you and our friends here, does it not?

Timaeus
Undoubtedly, and we shall do our best not to come short; [17b] for indeed it would not be at all right, after the splendid hospitality we received from you yesterday, if we—that is, those who are left of us—failed to entertain you cordially in return.

Socrates
Well, then, do you remember the extent and character of the subjects which I proposed for your discussion?

Timaeus
In part we do remember them; and of what we have forgotten you are present to remind us. Or rather, if it is not a trouble, recount them again briefly from the beginning, so as to fix them more firmly in our minds. [17c]

Socrates
It shall be done. The main part of the discourse I delivered yesterday2 was concerned with the kind of constitution which seemed to me likely to prove the best, and the character of its citizens.

Timaeus
And in truth, Socrates, the polity you described was highly approved by us all.

Socrates
Did we not begin by dividing off the class of land-workers in it, and all other crafts, from the class of its defenders?3

Timaeus
Yes.

Socrates
And when, in accordance with Nature, we had assigned to each citizen [17d] his one proper and peculiar occupation, we declared that those whose duty it is to fight in defence of all must act solely as guardians of the State, in case anyone from without or any of those within should go about to molest it; and that they should judge leniently such as are under their authority and their natural friends,


1 This fourth guest cannot be identified. Some have supposed that Plato himself is intended.

2 i.e., the Republic, of which the political part (books ii.-v.) is here briefly recapitulated.

3 See Rep. 369 E ff., 374 E ff.

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