laws (books 1 - 6)
should be either has now been determined.
Ath. And when we want to make any one fearless, we and the law bring
him face to face with many fears.
Ath. And when we want to make him rightly fearful, must we not
introduce him to shameless pleasures, and train him to take up arms
against them, and to overcome them? Or does this principle apply to
courage only, and must he who would be perfect in valour fight against
and overcome his own natural character-since if he be unpractised
and inexperienced in such conflicts, he will not be half the man which
he might have been-and are we to suppose, that with temperance it is
otherwise, and that he who has never fought with the shameless and
unrighteous temptations of his pleasures and lusts, and conquered
them, in earnest and in play, by word, deed, and act, will still be
Cle. A most unlikely supposition.
Ath. Suppose that some God had given a fear-potion to men, and
that the more a man drank of this the more he regarded himself at
every draught as a child of misfortune, and that he feared
everything happening or about to happen to him; and that at last the
most courageous of men utterly lost his presence of mind for a time,
and only came to himself again when he had slept off the influence
of the draught.
Cle. But has such a draught, Stranger, ever really been known
Ath. No; but, if there had been, might not such a draught have
been of use to the legislator as a test of courage? Might we not go
and say to him, "O legislator, whether you are legislating for the
Cretan, or for any other state, would you not like to have a
touchstone of the courage and cowardice of your citizens?"
Cle. "I should," will be the answer of every one.
Ath. "And you would rather have a touchstone in which there is no
risk and no great danger than the reverse?"
Cle. In that proposition every one may safely agree.
Ath. "And in order to make use of the draught, you would lead them
amid these imaginary terrors, and prove them, when the affection of
fear was working upon them, and compel them to be fearless,
exhorting and admonishing them; and also honouring them, but
dishonouring any one who will not be persuaded by you to be in all
respects such as you command him; and if he underwent the trial well
and manfully, you would let him go unscathed; but if ill, you would
inflict a punishment upon him? Or would you abstain from using the
potion altogether, although you have no reason for abstaining?"
Cle. He would be certain, Stranger, to use the potion.
Ath. This would be a mode of testing and training which would be
wonderfully easy in comparison with those now in use, and might be
applied to a single person, or to a few, or indeed to any number;
and he would do well who provided himself with the potion only, rather
than with any number of other things, whether he preferred to be by
himself in solitude, and there contend with his fears, because he
was ashamed to be seen by the eye of man until he was perfect; or
trusting to the force of his own nature and habits, and believing that
he had been already disciplined sufficiently, he did not hesitate to
train himself in company with any number of others, and display his
power in conquering the irresistible change effected by the
draught-his virtue being such, that he never in any instance fell into
any great unseemliness, but was always himself, and left off before he
arrived at the last cup, fearing that he, like all other men, might be
overcome by the potion.
Cle. Yes, Stranger, in that last case, too, he might equally show
Ath. Let us return to the lawgiver, and say to him:-"Well, lawgiver,
there is certainly no such fear-potion which man has either received