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[1334b] [1] in their holding a different opinion from others as to what things are the greatest goods, but rather in their believing that these are obtained by means of one particular virtue; yet because they both deem these things and their enjoyment to be greater goods than the enjoyment of the virtues . . .1

. . . and that it is to be practised for its own sake is manifest from these considerations; but it must now be considered how and by what means this will come about. Now we have indeed previously decided that it requires nature and habit and reason, and among these, what particular quality of nature men ought to possess has been defined previously; but it remains to consider whether men ought to be educated first by means of the reason or by the habits. For between reason and habit the most perfect harmony ought to exist, as it is possible both for the reason to have missed the highest principle and for men to have been as wrongly trained through the habits. This therefore at all events is clear in the first place, in the case of men as of other creatures, that their engendering starts from a beginning, and that the end starts from a certain beginning that is another end,2 and that reason and intelligence are for us the end of our natural development, so that it is with a view to these ends that our engendering and the training of our habits must be regulated. And secondly, as soul and body are two, so we observe that the soul also has two parts, the irrational part and the part possessing reason, and that the states which they experience are two in number, [20] the one being desire and the other intelligence; and as the body is prior in its development to the soul, so the irrational part of the soul is prior to the rational. And this also is obvious, because passion and will, and also appetite,3 exist in children even as soon as they are born, but it is the nature of reasoning and intelligence to arise in them as they grow older. Therefore in the first place it is necessary for the training of the body to precede that of the mind, and secondly for the training of the appetite to precede that of the intelligence; but the training of the appetite must be for the sake of the intellect, and that of the body for the sake of the soul.

Inasmuch therefore as it is the duty of the lawgiver to consider from the start how the children reared are to obtain the best bodily frames, he must first pay attention to the union of the sexes, and settle when and in what condition a couple should practise matrimonial intercourse. In legislating for this partnership he must pay regard partly to the persons themselves and to their span of life, so that they may arrive together at the same period in their ages, and their powers may not be at discord through the man being still capable of parentage and the wife incapable, or the wife capable and the man not (for this causes differences and actual discord between them), and also he must consider as well the succession of the children, for the children must neither be too far removed in their ages from the fathers (since elderly fathers get no good from their children's return of their favors, nor do the children from the help they get from the fathers),

1 The end of this sentence and the beginning of the next appear to have been lost.

2 A conjectural addition to the text gives ‘the end to which a certain beginning leads is itself the beginning of another end.’ The active use of the reason is the end (i.e. the completion and the purpose) of the birth and growth of the human animal.

3 These three emotions are subdivisions of ‘desire’ above.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 954
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