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[836a] thus, for example, the proscription of excessive wealth is of no small benefit for promoting temperance, and the whole of our education-system contains laws useful for the same purpose; in addition to this, there is the watchful eye of the magistrates, trained to fix its gaze always on this point and to keep constant watch on the young people. These means, then, are sufficient (so far as any human means suffice) to deal with the other desires. But when we come to the amorous passions of children of both sexes and of men for women and women for men,— [836b] passions which have been the cause of countless woes both to individuals and to whole States,—how is one to guard against these, or what remedy can one apply so as to find a way of escape in all such cases from a danger such as this? It is extremely difficult, Clinias. For whereas, in regard to other matters not a few, Crete generally and Lacedaemon furnish us (and rightly) with no little assistance in the framing of laws which differ from those in common use,—in regard to the passions of sex (for we are alone by ourselves) [836c] they contradict us absolutely. If we were to follow in nature's steps and enact that law which held good before the days of Laius,1 declaring that it is right to refrain from indulging in the same kind of intercourse with men and boys2 as with women, and adducing as evidence thereof the nature of wild beasts, and pointing out how male does not touch male for this purpose, since it is unnatural,—in all this we would probably be using an argument neither convincing nor in any way consonant with your States. Moreover, that object which, as we affirm, the lawgiver ought always to have in view [836d] does not agree with these practices. For the enquiry we always make is this —which of the proposed laws tends toward virtue and which not. Come then, suppose we grant that this practice is now legalized, and that it is noble and in no way ignoble, how far would it promote virtue? Will it engender in the soul of him who is seduced a courageous character, or in the soul of the seducer the quality of temperance? Nobody would ever believe this; on the contrary, as all men will blame the cowardice [836e] of the man who always yields to pleasures and is never able to hold out against them, will they not likewise reproach that man who plays the woman's part with the resemblance he bears to his model? Is there any man, then, who will ordain by law a practice like that? Not one, I should say, if he has a notion of what true law is. What then do we declare to be the truth about this matter? It is necessary to discern the real nature of friendship

1 King of Thebes, father of Oedipus.

2 Cp. Plat. Laws 636b., Plat. Sym.181-2.

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