laws (books 1 - 6)
Cle. What is that?
Ath. The form which in fact Homer indicates as following the second.
This third form arose when, as he says, Dardanus founded Dardania:
For not as yet had the holy Ilium been built on the plain to be a
city of speaking men; but they were still dwelling at the foot of
For indeed, in these verses, and in what he said of the Cyclopes, he
speaks the words of God and nature; for poets are a divine race and
often in their strains, by the aid of the Muses and the Graces, they
Ath. Then now let us proceed with the rest of our tale, which will
probably be found to illustrate in some degree our proposed
design:-Shall we do so?
Cle. By all means.
Ath. Ilium was built, when they descended from the mountain, in a
large and fair plain, on a sort of low hill, watered by many rivers
descending from Ida.
Cle. Such is the tradition.
Ath. And we must suppose this event to have taken place many ages
after the deluge?
Ath. A marvellous forgetfulness of the former destruction would
appear to have come over them, when they placed their town right under
numerous streams flowing from the heights, trusting for their security
to not very high hills, either.
Cle. There must have been a long interval, clearly.
Ath. And, as population increased, many other cities would begin
to be inhabited.
Ath. Those cities made war against Troy-by sea as well as land-for
at that time men were ceasing to be afraid of the sea.
Ath. The Achaeans remained ten years, and overthrew Troy.
Ath. And during the ten years in which the Achaeans were besieging
Ilium, the homes of the besiegers were falling into an evil plight.
Their youth revolted; and when the soldiers returned to their own
cities and families, they did not receive them properly, and as they
ought to have done, and numerous deaths, murders, exiles, were the
consequence. The exiles came again, under a new name, no longer
Achaeans, but Dorians-a name which they derived from Dorieus; for it
was he who gathered them together. The rest of the story is told by
you Lacedaemonians as part of the history of Sparta.
Meg. To be sure.
Ath. Thus, after digressing from the original subject of laws into
music and drinking-bouts, the argument has, providentially, come
back to the same point, and presents to us another handle. For we have
reached the settlement of Lacedaemon; which, as you truly say, is in
laws and in institutions the sister of Crete. And we are all the
better for the digression, because we have gone through various
governments and settlements, and have been present at the foundation
of a first, second, and third state, succeeding one another in
infinite time. And now there appears on the horizon a fourth state
or nation which was once in process of settlement and has continued
settled to this day. If, out of all this, we are able to discern
what is well or ill settled, and what laws are the salvation and
what are the destruction of cities, and what changes would make a
state happy, O Megillus and Cleinias, we may now begin again, unless
we have some fault to find with the previous discussion.
Meg. If some God, Stranger, would promise us that our new enquiry
about legislation would be as good and full as the present, I would go
a great way to hear such another, and would think that a day as long