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[20a] a class which, alike by nature and nurture, shares the qualities of both the others. For our friend is a native of a most well-governed State, Italian Locris,1 and inferior to none of its citizens either in property or in rank; and not only has he occupied the highest offices and posts of honor in his State, but he has also attained, in my opinion, the very summit of eminence in all branches of philosophy. As to Critias, all of us here know that he is no novice in any of the subjects we are discussing. As regards Hermocrates, we must believe the many witnesses who assert that both by nature and by nurture [20b] he is competent for all these inquiries. So, with this in my mind, when you requested me yesterday to expound my views of the polity I gratified you most willingly, since I knew that none could deal more adequately than you (if you were willing) with the next subject of discourse; for you alone, of men now living, could show our State engaged in a suitable war and exhibiting all the qualities which belong to it. Accordingly, when I had spoken upon my prescribed theme, I in turn prescribed for you this theme which I am now explaining. And you, after consulting together among yourselves, [20c] agreed to pay me back today with a feast of words; so here I am, ready for that feast in festal garb, and eager above all men to begin.

Of a truth, Socrates, as our friend has said, we will show no lack of zeal, nor have we any excuse for refusing to do as you say. Yesterday, in fact, immediately after our return from you to the guest-chamber at Critias where we are lodging—aye, and earlier still, on our way there—we were considering these very subjects. [20d] Critias here mentioned to us a story derived from ancient tradition; and now, Critias, pray tell it again to our friend here, so that he may help us to decide whether or not it is pertinent to our prescribed theme.

That I must certainly do, if our third partner, also approves.

Assuredly I approve.

Listen then, Socrates, to a tale which, though passing strange, is yet wholly true, as Solon, [20e] the wisest of the Seven, once upon a time declared. Now Solon—as indeed he often says himself in his poems—was a relative and very dear friend of our great-grandfather Dropides; and Dropides told our grandfather Critias as the old man himself, in turn, related to us—that the exploits of this city in olden days, the record of which had perished through time and the destruction of its inhabitants, were great and marvellous, the greatest of all being one which it would be proper

1 Cf. Laws638 B. The laws of Epizephyrian Locri were ascribed to Zaleucus (circa 650 B.C.).

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