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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


makes the soul braggart and insolent, and the other, illiberal and
base; and money, and property, and distinction all go to the same
tune. The excess of any of these things is apt to be a source of
hatreds and divisions among states and individuals; and the defect
of them is commonly a cause of slavery. And, therefore, I would not
have any one fond of heaping up riches for the sake of his children,
in order that he may leave them as rich as possible. For the
possession of great wealth is of no use, either to them or to the
state. The condition of youth which is free from flattery, and at
the same time not in need of the necessaries of life, is the best
and most harmonious of all, being in accord and agreement with our
nature, and making life to be most entirely free from sorrow. Let
parents, then, bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but
the spirit of reverence. We, indeed, fancy that they will inherit
reverence from us, if we rebuke them when they show a want of
reverence. But this quality is not really imparted to them by the
present style of admonition, which only tells them that the young
ought always to be reverential. A sensible legislator will rather
exhort the elders to reverence the younger, and above all to take heed
that no young man sees or hears one of themselves doing or saying
anything disgraceful; for where old men have no shame, there young men
will most certainly be devoid of reverence. The best way of training
the young is to train yourself at the same time; not to admonish them,
but to be always carrying out your own admonitions in practice. He who
honours his kindred, and reveres those who share in the same Gods
and are of the same blood and family, may fairly expect that the
Gods who preside over generation will be propitious to him, and will
quicken his seed. And he who deems the services which his friends
and acquaintances do for him, greater and more important than they
themselves deem them, and his own favours to them less than theirs
to him, will have their good-will in the intercourse of life. And
surely in his relations to the state and his fellow citizens, he is by
far the best, who rather than the Olympic or any other victory of
peace or war, desires to win the palm of obedience to the laws of
his country, and who, of all mankind, is the person reputed to have
obeyed them best through life. In his relations to strangers, a man
should consider that a contract is a most holy thing, and that all
concerns and wrongs of strangers are more directly dependent on the
protection of God, than wrongs done to citizens; for the stranger,
having no kindred and friends, is more to be pitied by Gods and men.
Wherefore, also, he who is most able to avenge him is most zealous
in his cause; and he who is most able is the genius and the god of the
stranger, who follow in the train of Zeus, the god of strangers. And
for this reason, he who has a spark of caution in him, will do his
best to pass through life without sinning against the stranger. And of
offences committed, whether against strangers or fellow-countrymen,
that against suppliants is the greatest. For the god who witnessed
to the agreement made with the suppliant, becomes in a special
manner the guardian of the sufferer; and he will certainly not
suffer unavenged.
Thus we have fairly described the manner in which a man is to act
about his parents, and himself, and his own affairs; and in relation
to the state, and his friends, and kindred, both in what concerns
his own countrymen, and in what concerns the stranger. We will now
consider what manner of man he must be who would best pass through
life in respect of those other things which are not matters of law,
but of praise and blame only; in which praise and blame educate a man,
and make him more tractable and amenable to the laws which are about
to be imposed.
Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both to Gods and men;
and he who would be blessed and happy, should be from the first a
partaker of the truth, that he may live a true man as long as
possible, for then he can be trusted; but he is not to be trusted
who loves voluntary falsehood, and he who loves involuntary

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