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laws (books 1 - 6)   


the intemperate, the diseased. He who knows the temperate life will
describe it as in all things gentle, having gentle pains and gentle
pleasures, and placid desires and loves not insane; whereas the
intemperate life is impetuous in all things, and has violent pains and
pleasures, and vehement and stinging desires, and loves utterly
insane; and in the temperate life the pleasures exceed the pains,
but in the intemperate life the pains exceed the pleasures in
greatness and number and frequency. Hence one of the two lives is
naturally and necessarily more pleasant and the other more painful,
and he who would live pleasantly cannot possibly choose to live
intemperately. And if this is true, the inference clearly is that no
man is voluntarily intemperate; but that the whole multitude of men
lack temperance in their lives, either from ignorance, or from want of
self-control, or both. And the same holds of the diseased and
healthy life; they both have pleasures and pains, but in health the
pleasure exceeds the pain, and in sickness the pain exceeds the
pleasure. Now our intention in choosing the lives is not that the
painful should exceed, but the life in which pain is exceeded by
pleasure we have determined to be the more pleasant life. And we
should say that the temperate life has the elements both of pleasure
and pain fewer and smaller and less frequent than the intemperate, and
the wise life than the foolish life, and the life of courage than
the life of cowardice; one of each pair exceeding in pleasure and
the other in pain, the courageous surpassing the cowardly, and the
wise exceeding the foolish. And so the one dass of lives exceeds the
other class in pleasure; the temperate and courageous and wise and
healthy exceed the cowardly and foolish and intemperate and diseased
lives; and generally speaking, that which has any virtue, whether of
body or soul, is pleasanter than the vicious life, and far superior in
beauty and rectitude and excellence and reputation, and causes him who
lives accordingly to be infinitely happier than the opposite.
Enough of the preamble; and now the laws should follow; or, to speak
more correctly, outline of them. As, then, in the case of a web or any
other tissue, the warp and the woof cannot be made of the same
materials, but the warp is necessarily superior as being stronger, and
having a certain character of firmness, whereas the woof is softer and
has a proper degree of elasticity;-in a similar manner those who are
to hold great offices in states, should be distinguished truly in each
case from those who have been but slenderly proven by education. Let
us suppose that there are two parts in the constitution of a state-one
the creation of offices, the other the laws which are assigned to them
to administer.
But, before all this, comes the following consideration:-The
shepherd or herdsman, or breeder of horses or the like, when he has
received his animals will not begin to train them until he has first
purified them in a manner which befits a community of animals; he will
divide the healthy and unhealthy, and the good breed and the bad
breed, and will send away the unhealthy and badly bred to other herds,
and tend the rest, reflecting that his labours will be vain and have
no effect, either on the souls or bodies of those whom nature and
ill nurture have corrupted, and that they will involve in
destruction the pure and healthy nature and being of every other
animal, if he should neglect to purify them. Now the case of other
animals is not so important-they are only worth introducing for the
sake of illustration; but what relates to man is of the highest
importance; and the legislator should make enquiries, and indicate
what is proper for each one in the way of purification and of any
other procedure. Take, for example, the purification of a city-there
are many kinds of purification, some easier and others more difficult;
and some of them, and the best and most difficult of them, the
legislator, if he be also a despot, may be able to effect; but the
legislator, who, not being a despot, sets up a new government and
laws, even if he attempt the mildest of purgations, may think
himself happy if he can complete his work. The best kind of

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