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[1327b] [1] (for a state ought to be formidable, and also capable of the defence of not only its own people but also some of its neighbors, by sea as well as by land); but when we come to the question of the number and size of this force, we have to consider the state's manner of life if it is to live a life of leadership and affairs,1 it must possess maritime as well as other forces commensurate with its activities. On the other hand it is not necessary for states to include the teeming population that grows up in connection with common sailors, as there is no need for these to be citizens; for the marines are free men and are a part of the infantry, and it is they who have command and control the crew; and if there exists a mass of villagers and tillers of the soil, there is bound to be no lack of sailors too. In fact we see this state of thing existing even now in some places, for instance in the city of Heraclea; the Heracleotes man a large fleet of triremes, although they possess a city of but moderate size as compared with others.

Let such then be our conclusions about the territories and harbors of cities, and the sea, and about naval forces.

About the citizen population, we said before what is its proper limit of numbers. Let us now speak [20] of what ought to be the citizens' natural character. Now this one might almost discern by looking at the famous cities of Greece and by observing how the whole inhabited world is divided up among the nations.2 The nations inhabiting the cold places and those of Europe are full of spirit but somewhat deficient in intelligence and skill, so that they continue comparatively free, but lacking in political organization and capacity to rule their neighbors. The peoples of Asia on the other hand are intelligent and skillful in temperament, but lack spirit, so that they are in continuous subjection and slavery. But the Greek race participates in both characters, just as it occupies the middle position geographically, for it is both spirited and intelligent; hence it continues to be free and to have very good political institutions, and to be capable of ruling all mankind if it attains constitutional unity. The same diversity also exists among the Greek races compared with one another: some have a one-sided nature, others are happily blended in regard to both these capacities.3 It is clear therefore that people that are to be easily guided to virtue by the lawgiver must be both intellectual and spirited in their nature. For as to what is said by certain persons about the character that should belong to their Guardians4—they should be affectionate to their friends but fierce towards strangers—it is spirit that causes affectionateness, for spirit is the capacity of the soul whereby we love.

1 i.e. relations with other states—a broader term than hegemony, leadership of an alliance.

2 4. fin.

3 i.e. intelligence and high spirit, capacity for self-government and capacity for empire.

4 The ruling class in Plato's Ideal State,Plat. Rep. 375c.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 1.142
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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GRAE´CIA
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    • Plato, Republic, 375c
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