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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


implements might have been preserved in the mountains, they must
quickly have worn out and vanished, and there would be no more of them
until the art of metallurgy had again revived.
Cle. There could not have been.
Ath. In how many generations would this be attained?
Cle. Clearly, not for many generations.
Ath. During this period, and for some time afterwards, all the
arts which require iron and brass and the like would disappear.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. Faction and war would also have died out in those days, and for
many reasons.
Cle. How would that be?
Ath. In the first place, the desolation of these primitive men would
create in them a feeling of affection and good-will towards one
another; and, secondly, they would have no occasion to quarrel about
their subsistence, for they would have pasture in abundance, except
just at first, and in some particular cases; and from their
pasture-land they would obtain the greater part of their food in a
primitive age, having plenty of milk and flesh; moreover they would
procure other food by the chase, not to be despised either in quantity
or quality. They would also have abundance of clothing, and bedding,
and dwellings, and utensils either capable of standing on the fire
or not; for the plastic and weaving arts do not require any use of
iron: and God has given these two arts to man in order to provide
him with all such things, that, when reduced to the last extremity,
the human race may still grow and increase. Hence in those days
mankind were not very poor; nor was poverty a cause of difference
among them; and rich they could not have been, having neither gold nor
silver:-such at that time was their condition. And the community which
has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest
principles; in it there is no insolence or injustice, nor, again,
are there any contentions or envyings. And therefore they were good,
and also because they were what is called simple-minded; and when they
were told about good and evil, they in their simplicity believed
what they heard to be very truth and practised it. No one had the
wit to suspect another of a falsehood, as men do now; but what they
heard about Gods and men they believed to be true, and lived
accordingly; and therefore they were in all respects such as we have
described them.
Cle. That quite accords with my views, and with those of my friend
here.
Ath. Would not many generations living on in a simple manner,
although ruder, perhaps, and more ignorant of the arts generally,
and in particular of those of land or naval warfare, and likewise of
other arts, termed in cities legal practices and party conflicts,
and including all conceivable ways of hurting one another in word
and deed;-although inferior to those who lived before the deluge, or
to the men of our day in these respects, would they not, I say, be
simpler and more manly, and also more temperate and altogether more
just? The reason has been already explained.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. I should wish you to understand that what has preceded and what
is about to follow, has been, and will be said, with the intention
of explaining what need the men of that time had of laws, and who
was their lawgiver.
Cle. And thus far what you have said has been very well said.
Ath. They could hardly have wanted lawgivers as yet; nothing of that
sort was likely to have existed in their days, for they had no letters
at this early period; they lived by habit and the customs of their
ancestors, as they are called.
Cle. Probably.
Ath. But there was already existing a form of government which, if I
am not mistaken, is generally termed a lordship, and this still
remains in many places, both among Hellenes and barbarians, and is the

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