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[810a] and for lyre-playing, he should begin at thirteen and continue at it for three years. And whether he likes or dislikes the study, neither the child nor his father shall be permitted either to cut short or to prolong the years of study contrary to the law; and anyone who disobeys shall be disqualified for the school honors which we shall mention presently.1 And, during these periods, what are the subjects which the children must learn and the teachers teach—this you yourself must learn first. [810b] They must work at letters sufficiently to be able to read and write. But superior speed or beauty of handwriting need not be required in the case of those whose progress within the appointed period is too slow. With regard to lessons in reading, there are written compositions not set to music, whether in meter or without rhythmical divisions—compositions merely uttered in prose, void of rhythm and harmony; [810c] and some of the many composers of this sort have bequeathed to us writings of a dangerous character. How will you deal with these, O my most excellent Law-wardens? Or what method of dealing with them will the lawgiver rightly ordain? He will be vastly perplexed, I verily believe.

What does this mean, Stranger? Evidently you are addressing yourself, and are really perplexed.

You are right in your supposition, Clinias. As you are my partners in this investigation of laws, I am bound to explain to you both what seems easy and what hard. [810d]

Well, what is it about them that you are now alluding to, and what has come over you?

I will tell you: it is no easy matter to gainsay tens of thousands of tongues.

Come now,—do you believe that the points in which our previous conclusions about laws contradicted ordinary opinion were few and trifling?

Your observation is most just. I take it that you are bidding me, now that the path which is abhorrent to many is attractive to others possibly not less numerous [810e] (or if less numerous, certainly not less competent),—you are, I say, bidding me adventure myself with the latter company and proceed boldly along the path of legislation marked out in our present discourse, without flinching.


Then I will not flinch. I verily affirm that we have composers of verses innumerable—hexameters, trimeters, and every meter you could mention,—some of whom aim at the serious, others at the comic; on whose writings, as we are told by our tens of thousands of people, we ought to rear and soak the young, if we are to give them a correct education, making them, by means of recitations, lengthy listeners

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