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And when bodies receive most food, then they require most exercise?Clinias
What is that, Stranger? Are we to prescribe most exercise for new-born babes and tiny infants?Athenian
Nay, even earlier than that,—we shall prescribe it for those nourished inside the bodies of their mothers.Clinias
What do you mean, my dear sir? Is it unborn babes you are talking of? [789b] Athenian
It is. Still it is by no means surprising that you know nothing of this pre-natal gymnastic; but, strange though it is, I should like to explain it to you.Clinias
By all means do so.Athenian
In our country it is easier to understand a practice of this kind, because there are people there who carry their sports to excess. At Athens we find not only boys but sometimes old men rearing birds and training such creatures to fight one another. [789c] But they are far from thinking that the training they give them by exciting their pugnacity provides sufficient exercise; in addition to this, each man takes up his bird and keeps it tucked away in his fist, if it is small, or under his arm, if it is large, and in this way they walk many a long mile in order to improve the condition, not of their own bodies, but of these creatures. Thus clearly do they show to any observant person that all bodies benefit, as by a tonic, when they are moved by any kind of shaking or motion, [789d] whether they are moved by their own action—as in a swing or in a rowing-boat—or are carried along on horseback or by any other rapidly moving bodies; and that this is the reason why bodies can deal successfully with their supplies of meat and drink and provide us with health and beauty, and strength as well. This being the state of the case, what does it behove us to do in the future? Shall we risk ridicule, [789e] and lay down a law that the pregnant woman shall walk, and that the child, while still soft, shall be molded like wax, and be kept in swaddling clothes till it is two years old? And shall we also compel the nurses by legal penalties to keep carrying the children somehow, either to the fields or to the temples or to their relatives, all the time until they are able to stand upright; and after that, still to persevere in carrying them until they are three years old, as a precaution against the danger of distorting their legs by over-pressure while they are still young? And that the nurses shall be
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