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[1335b] [1] and the question of weather by the natural philosophers, who say that north winds are more favorable than south. The particular kind of bodily constitution in the parents that will be most beneficial for the offspring must be dwelt on more in detail in our discussion of the management of children1; it is sufficient to speak of it in outline now. The athlete's habit of body is not serviceable for bodily fitness as required by a citizen, nor for health and parentage, nor yet is a habit that is too valetudinarian and unfit for labor, but the condition that lies between them. The bodily habit therefore should have been trained by exercise, but not by exercises that are violent, and not for one form of labor only, as is the athlete's habit of body, but for the pursuits of free men. And these arrangements must be provided alike for men and women. And pregnant women also must take care of their bodies, not avoiding exercise nor adopting a low diet; this it is easy for the lawgiver to secure by ordering them to make a journey daily for the due worship of the deities whose office is the control of childbirth. As regards the mind, however, on the contrary it suits them to pass the time more indolently than as regards their bodies; for children before birth are evidently affected by the mother just as growing plants are by the earth.As to exposing or [20] rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared; but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practised on it before it has developed sensation and life; for the line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive. And since the beginning of the fit age for a man and for a woman, at which they are to begin their union, has been defined, let it also be decided for how long a time it is suitable for them to serve the state in the matter of producing children. For the offspring of too elderly parents, as those of too young ones, are born imperfect both in body and mind, and the children of those that have arrived at old age are weaklings. Therefore the period must be limited to correspond with the mental prime; and this in the case of most men is the age stated by some of the poets, who measure men's age by periods of seven years,2—it is about the age of fifty. Therefore persons exceeding this age by four or five years must be discharged from the duty of producing children for the community, and for the rest of their lives if they have intercourse it must be manifestly for the sake of health or for some other similar reason. As to intercourse with another woman or man, in general it must be dishonorable for them to be known to take any part in it in any circumstances whatsoever as long as they are husband and wife and bear those names, but any who may be discovered doing anything of the sort during their period of parentage

1 This was never written, or has been lost.

2 Solon fr. 27

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 550
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