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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)

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laws (books 1 - 6)   

have now done, and I admired the spirit of your exposition; for you
were quite right in beginning with virtue, and saying that this was
the aim of the giver of the law, but I thought that you went wrong
when you added that all his legislation had a view only to a part, and
the least part of virtue, and this called forth my subsequent remarks.
Will you allow me then to explain how I should have liked to have
heard you expound the matter?
Cle. By all means.
Ath. You ought to have said, Stranger-The Cretan laws are with
reason famous among the Hellenes; for they fulfil the object of
laws, which is to make those who use them happy; and they confer every
sort of good. Now goods are of two kinds: there are human and there
are divine goods, and the human hang upon the divine; and the state
which attains the greater, at the same time acquires the less, or, not
having the greater, has neither. Of the lesser goods the first is
health, the second beauty, the third strength, including swiftness
in running and bodily agility generally, and the fourth is wealth, not
the blind god [Pluto], but one who is keen of sight, if only he has
wisdom for his companion. For wisdom is chief and leader of the divine
dass of goods, and next follows temperance; and from the union of
these two with courage springs justice, and fourth in the scale of
virtue is courage. All these naturally take precedence of the other
goods, and this is the order in which the legislator must place
them, and after them he will enjoin the rest of his ordinances on
the citizens with a view to these, the human looking to the divine,
and the divine looking to their leader mind. Some of his ordinances
will relate to contracts of marriage which they make one with another,
and then to the procreation and education of children, both male and
female; the duty of the lawgiver will be to take charge of his
citizens, in youth and age, and at every time of life, and to give
them punishments and rewards; and in reference to all their
intercourse with one another, he ought to consider their pains and
pleasures and desires, and the vehemence of all their passions; he
should keep a watch over them, and blame and praise them rightly by
the mouth of the laws themselves. Also with regard to anger and
terror, and the other perturbations of the soul, which arise out of
misfortune, and the deliverances from them which prosperity brings,
and the experiences which come to men in diseases, or in war, or
poverty, or the opposite of these; in all these states he should
determine and teach what is the good and evil of the condition of
each. In the next place, the legislator has to be careful how the
citizens make their money and in what way they spend it, and to have
an eye to their mutual contracts and dissolutions of contracts,
whether voluntary or involuntary: he should see how they order all
this, and consider where justice as well as injustice is found or is
wanting in their several dealings with one another; and honour those
who obey the law, and impose fixed penalties on those who disobey,
until the round of civil life is ended, and the time has come for
the consideration of the proper funeral rites and honours of the dead.
And the lawgiver reviewing his work, will appoint guardians to preside
over these things-some who walk by intelligence, others by true
opinion only, and then mind will bind together all his ordinances
and show them to be in harmony with temperance and justice, and not
with wealth or ambition. This is the spirit, Stranger, in which I
was and am desirous that you should pursue the subject. And I want
to know the nature of all these things, and how they are arranged in
the laws of Zeus, as they are termed, and in those of the Pythian
Apollo, which Minos and Lycurgus gave; and how the order of them is
discovered to his eyes, who has experience in laws gained either by
study or habit, although they are far from being self-evident to the
rest of mankind like ourselves.
Cle. How shall we proceed, Stranger?
Ath. I think that we must begin again as before, and first
consider the habit of courage; and then we will go on and discuss

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