laws (books 1 - 6)
Ath. Also there are opinions about the future, which have the
general name of expectations; and the specific name of fear, when
the expectation is of pain; and of hope, when of pleasure; and
further, there is reflection about the good or evil of them, and this,
when embodied in a decree by the State, is called Law.
Cle. I am hardly able to follow you; proceed, however, as if I were.
Meg. I am in the like case.
Ath. Let us look at the matter thus: May we not conceive each of
us living beings to be a puppet of the Gods, either their plaything
only, or created with a purpose-which of the two we cannot certainly
know? But we do know, that these affections in us are like cords and
strings, which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite
actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice.
According to the argument there is one among these cords which every
man ought to grasp and never let go, but to pull with it against all
the rest; and this is the sacred and golden cord of reason, called
by us the common law of the State; there are others which are hard and
of iron, but this one is soft because golden; and there are several
other kinds. Now we ought always to cooperate with the lead of the
best, which is law. For inasmuch as reason is beautiful and gentle,
and not violent, her rule must needs have ministers in order to help
the golden principle in vanquishing the other principles. And thus the
moral of the tale about our being puppets will not have been lost, and
the meaning of the expression "superior or inferior to a man's self"
will become clearer; and the individual, attaining to right reason
in this matter of pulling the strings of the puppet, should live
according to its rule; while the city, receiving the same from some
god or from one who has knowledge of these things, should embody it in
a law, to be her guide in her dealings with herself and with other
states. In this way virtue and vice will be more clearly distinguished
by us. And when they have become clearer, education and other
institutions will in like manner become clearer; and in particular
that question of convivial entertainment, which may seem, perhaps,
to have been a very trifling matter, and to have taken a great many
more words than were necessary.
Cle. Perhaps, however, the theme may turn out not to be unworthy
of the length of discourse.
Ath. Very good; let us proceed with any enquiry which really bears
on our present object.
Ath. Suppose that we give this puppet of ours drink-what will be the
effect on him?
Cle. Having what in view do you ask that question?
Ath. Nothing as yet; but I ask generally, when the puppet is brought
to the drink, what sort of result is likely to follow. I will
endeavour to explain my meaning more clearly: what I am now asking
is this-Does the drinking of wine heighten and increase pleasures
and pains, and passions and loves?
Cle. Very greatly.
Ath. And are perception and memory, and opinion and prudence,
heightened and increased? Do not these qualities entirely desert a man
if he becomes saturated with drink?
Cle. Yes, they entirely desert him.
Ath. Does he not return to the state of soul in which he was when
a young child?
Cle. He does.
Ath. Then at that time he will have the least control over himself?
Cle. The least.
Ath. And will he not be in a most wretched plight?
Cle. Most wretched.
Ath. Then not only an old man but also a drunkard becomes a second
time a child?
Cle. Well said, Stranger.