Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Plato
Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)

Previous | Next

laws (books 1 - 6)   

allowed to run away, but held with bit and bridle, and then we shall
not, as the proverb says, fall off our ass. Let us then once more
ask the question, To what end has all this been said?
Meg. Very good.
Ath. This, then, has been said for the sake-
Meg. Of what?
Ath. We were maintaining that the lawgiver ought to have three
things in view: first, that the city for which he legislates should be
free; and secondly, be at unity with herself; and thirdly, should have
understanding;-these were our principles, were they not?
Meg. Certainly.
Ath. With a view to this we selected two kinds of government, the
despotic, and the other the most free; and now we are considering
which of them is the right form: we took a mean in both cases, of
despotism in the one, and of liberty in the other, and we saw that
in a mean they attained their perfection; but that when they were
carried to the extreme of either, slavery or licence, neither party
were the gainers.
Meg. Very true.
Ath. And that was our reason for considering the settlement of the
Dorian army, and of the city built by Dardanus at the foot of the
mountains, and the removal of cities to the seashore, and of our
mention of the first men, who were the survivors of the deluge. And
all that was previously said about music and drinking, and what
preceded, was said with the view of seeing how a state might be best
administered, and how an individual might best order his own life. And
now, Megillus and Cleinias, how can we put to the proof the value of
our words?
Cle. Stranger, I think that I see how a proof of their value may
be obtained. This discussion of ours appears to me to have been
singularly fortunate, and just what I at this moment want; most
auspiciously have you and my friend Megillus come in my way. For I
will tell you what has happened to me; and I regard the coincidence as
a sort of omen. The greater part of Crete is going to send out a
colony, and they have entrusted the management of the affair to the
Cnosians; and the Cnosian government to me and nine others. And they
desire us to give them any laws which we please, whether taken from
the Cretan model or from any other; and they do not mind about their
being foreign if they are better. Grant me then this favour, which
will also be a gain to yourselves:-Let us make a selection from what
has been said, and then let us imagine a State of which we will
suppose ourselves to be the original founders. Thus we shall proceed
with our enquiry, and, at the same time, I may have the use of the
framework which you are constructing, for the city which is in
Ath. Good news, Cleinias; if Megillus has no objection, you may
be sure that I will do all in my power to please you.
Cle. Thank you.
Meg. And so will I.
Cle. Excellent; and now let us begin to frame the State.


Athenian Stranger. And now, what will this city be? I do not mean to
ask what is or will hereafter be the name of the place; that may be
determined by the accident of locality or of the original settlement-a
river or fountain, or some local deity may give the sanction of a name
to the newly-founded city; but I do want to know what the situation
is, whether maritime or inland.
Cleinias. I should imagine, Stranger, that the city of which we
are speaking is about eighty stadia distant from the sea.
Ath. And are there harbours on the seaboard?
Cle. Excellent harbours, Stranger; there could not be better.
Ath. Alas! what a prospect! And is the surrounding country

Previous | Next
Site Search