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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


falsehood is a fool. Neither condition is enviable, for the
untrustworthy and ignorant has no friend, and as time advances he
becomes known, and lays up in store for himself isolation in crabbed
age when life is on the wane: so that, whether his children or friends
are alive or not, he is equally solitary.-Worthy of honour is he who
does no injustice, and of more than twofold honour, if he not only
does no injustice himself, but hinders others from doing any; the
first may count as one man, the second is worth many men, because he
informs the rulers of the injustice of others. And yet more highly
to be esteemed is he who co-operates with the rulers in correcting the
citizens as far as he can-he shall be proclaimed the great and perfect
citizen, and bear away the palm of virtue. The same praise may be
given about temperance and wisdom, and all other goods which may be
imparted to others, as well as acquired by a man for himself; he who
imparts them shall be honoured as the man of men, and he who is
willing, yet is not able, may be allowed the second place; but he
who is jealous and will not, if he can help, allow others to partake
in a friendly way of any good, is deserving of blame: the good,
however, which he has, is not to be undervalued by us because it is
possessed by him, but must be acquired by us also to the utmost of our
power. Let every man, then, freely strive for the prize of virtue, and
let there be no envy. For the unenvious nature increases the greatness
of states-he himself contends in the race, blasting the fair fame of
no man; but the envious, who thinks that he ought to get the better by
defaming others, is less energetic himself in the pursuit of true
virtue, and reduces his rivals to despair by his unjust slanders of
them. And so he makes the whole city to enter the arena untrained in
the practice of virtue, and diminishes her glory as far as in him
lies. Now every man should be valiant, but he should also be gentle.
From the cruel, or hardly curable, or altogether incurable acts of
injustice done to him by others, a man can only escape by fighting and
defending himself and conquering, and by never ceasing to punish them;
and no man who is not of a noble spirit is able to accomplish this. As
to the actions of those who do evil, but whose evil is curable, in the
first place, let us remember that the unjust man is not unjust of
his own free will. For no man of his own free will would choose to
possess the greatest of evils, and least of all in the most honourable
part of himself. And the soul, as we said, is of a truth deemed by all
men the most honourable. In the soul, then, which is the most
honourable part of him, no one, if he could help, would admit, or
allow to continue the greatest of evils. The unrighteous and vicious
are always to be pitied in any case; and one can afford to forgive
as well as pity him who is curable, and refrain and calm one's
anger, not getting into a passion, like a woman, and nursing
ill-feeling. But upon him who is incapable of reformation and wholly
evil, the vials of our wrath should be poured out; wherefore I say
that good men ought, when occasion demands, to be both gentle and
passionate.
Of all evils the greatest is one which in the souls of most men is
innate, and which a man is always excusing in himself and never
correcting; mean, what is expressed in the saying that "Every man by
nature is and ought to be his own friend." Whereas the excessive
love of self is in reality the source to each man of all offences; for
the lover is blinded about the beloved, so that he judges wrongly of
the just, the good, and the honourable, and thinks that he ought
always to prefer himself to the truth. But he who would be a great man
ought to regard, not himself or his interests, but what is just,
whether the just act be his own or that of another. Through a
similar error men are induced to fancy that their own ignorance is
wisdom, and thus we who may be truly said to know nothing, think
that we know all things; and because we will not let others act for us
in what we do not know, we are compelled to act amiss ourselves.
Wherefore let every man avoid excess of self-love, and condescend to
follow a better man than himself, not allowing any false shame to

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