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[1265a] [1] But though the Laws consists for the most part of a treatise on law, the author has said a little about the form of the constitution, and in a desire to make this more suitable for adoption by actual states he brings it round by degrees back to the other form, that of the Republic. For except community in wives and property, he assigns all his other regulations in the same form to both states, for he prescribes for both the same scheme of education, and a life detached from menial tasks, and similarly as regards common meals, except that in the state described in the Laws he says there are to be common meals for women also, and he makes the Republic consist of a class possessing arms that numbers a thousand, but the state of the Laws has five thousand.

Now it is true that all the discourses of Socrates possess brilliance, cleverness, originality and keenness of inquiry, but it is no doubt difficult to be right about everything: for instance with regard to the size of population just mentioned it must not be over-looked that a territory as large as that of Babylon will be needed for so many inhabitants, or some other country of unlimited extent, to support five thousand men in idleness and another swarm of women and servants around them many times as numerous. It is proper no doubt to assume ideal conditions, but not to go beyond all bounds of possibility. And it is said that in laying down the laws the legislator must have his attention fixed on two things, [20] the territory and the population. But also it would be well to add that he must take into account the neighboring regions also, if the city is to live a life of politics1 (for it is necessary for it to use for war not only such arms as are serviceable within its own territory but also such as are serviceable against places outside it); and if one does not accept such a description whether for the life of the individual or for the common life of the state, yet it is none the less necessary for the citizens to be formidable to their enemies not only when they have entered the country but also when they have left it.2 Also the amount of property requires consideration: would it not perhaps be better to define it differently, by a clearer formula? The writer says that it ought to be sufficiently large for the citizens ‘to live a temperate life’—as if one were to say ‘to live a good life’; but really that phrase is too general, since it is possible to live temperately yet miserably. But a better definition would be ‘to live temperately and liberally’ (for if the two are separated a liberal mode of life is liable to slip into luxury and a temperate one into a life of hardship), since surely these are the only desirable qualities relating to the use of wealth—for instance you cannot use wealth gently or bravely, but you can use it temperately and liberally, so that it follows that these are qualities that have to do with wealth. And it is also strange that although equalizing properties the writer does not regulate the number of the citizens, but leaves the birth-rate uncontrolled, on the assumption that it will be sufficiently levelled up to the same total owing to childless marriages, however many children are begotten,

1 i.e. a life of intercourse with other states, cf. 1327b 5. Some mss. add ‘not one of isolation’; this looks like an explanatory note interpolated.

2 Perhaps the Greek should be altered to give ‘when they are away from it.’

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