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[1335a] [1] nor must they be too near them (for this involves much unpleasantness, since in such families there is less respect felt between them, as between companions of the same age, and also the nearness of age leads to friction in household affairs); and in addition, to return to the point from which we began this digression, measures must be taken to ensure that the children produced may have bodily frames suited to the wish of the lawgiver. These results then are almost all attained by one mode of regulation. For since the period of parentage terminates, speaking generally, with men at the age of seventy at the outside, and with women at fifty, the commencement of their union should correspond in respect of age with these times. But the mating of the young is bad for child-bearing; for in all animal species the offspring of the young are more imperfect and likely to produce female children,1 and small in figure, so that the same thing must necessarily occur in the human race also. And a proof of this is that in all the states where it is the local custom to mate young men and young women, the people are deformed and small of body. And again young women labor more, and more of them die in childbirth; indeed according to some accounts such was the reason why the oracle2 was given [20] to the people of Troezen, because many were dying owing to its being their custom for the women to marry young, and it did not refer to the harvest. And again it also contributes to chastity for the bestowal of women in marriage to be made when they are older, for it is thought that they are more licentious when they have had intercourse in youth. Also the males are thought to be arrested in bodily growth if they have intercourse while the seed is still growing, for this also has a fixed period after passing which it is no longer plentiful. Therefore it is fitting for the women to be married at about the age of eighteen and the men at thirty-seven or a little before3—for that will give long enough for the union to take place with their bodily vigor at its prime, and for it to arrive with a convenient coincidence of dates at the time when procreation ceases. Moreover the succession of the children to the estates, if their birth duly occurs soon after the parents marry, will take place when they are beginning their prime, and when the parents' period of vigor has now come to a close, towards the age of seventy. The proper age therefore for union has been discussed; as to the proper times in respect of the season we may accept what is customary with most people, who have rightly decided even as it is to practise marital cohabitation in winter. And people should also study for themselves, when their time comes, the teachings of physicians and natural philosophers on the subject of the procreation of children; the suitable bodily seasons are adequately discussed by the physicians,

1 Some editors write θηλύτοκα and interpret ‘more likely to be born females.’ ( θηλυτόκα, ‘likely to bear females,’ is applied to the young parents themselves in Aristot. Hist. An. 766b 29.)

2 Μὴ τέμνε νέαν ἄλοκα(‘cut not a new furrow’) schol.

3 The word ‘before’ is a conjectural insertion.

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