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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


state some feature which is congenial to him and which he approves
in his own country.
The first and highest form of the state and of the government and of
the law is that in which there prevails most widely the ancient
saying, that "Friends have all things in common." Whether there is
anywhere now, or will ever be, this communion of women and children
and of property, in which the private and individual is altogether
banished from life, and things which are by nature private, such as
eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and in some way see and
hear and act in common, and all men express praise and blame and
feel joy and sorrow on the same occasions, and whatever laws there are
unite the city to the utmost-whether all this is possible or not, I
say that no man, acting upon any other principle, will ever constitute
a state which will be truer or better or more exalted in virtue.
Whether such a state is governed by Gods or sons of Gods, one, or more
than one, happy are the men who, living after this manner, dwell
there; and therefore to this we are to look for the pattern of the
state, and to cling to this, and to seek with all our might for one
which is like this. The state which we have now in hand, when created,
will be nearest to immortality and the only one which takes the second
place; and after that, by the grace of God, we will complete the third
one. And we will begin by speaking of the nature and origin of the
second.
Let the citizens at once distribute their land and houses, and not
till the land in common, since a community of goods goes beyond
their proposed origin, and nurture, and education. But in making the
distribution, let the several possessors feel that their particular
lots also belong to the whole city; and seeing that the earth is their
parent, let them tend her more carefully than children do their
mother. For she is a goddess and their queen, and they are her
mortal subjects. Such also are the feelings which they ought to
entertain to the Gods and demi-gods of the country. And in order
that the distribution may always remain, they ought to consider
further that the present number of families should be always retained,
and neither increased nor diminished. This may be secured for the
whole city in the following manner:-Let the possessor of a lot leave
the one of his children who is his best beloved, and one only, to be
the heir of his dwelling, and his successor in the duty of ministering
to the Gods, the state and the family, as well the living members of
it as those who are departed when he comes into the inheritance; but
of his other children, if he have more than one, he shall give the
females in marriage according to the law to be hereafter enacted,
and the males he shall distribute as sons to those citizens who have
no children and are disposed to receive them; or if there should be
none such, and particular individuals have too many children, male
or female, or too few, as in the case of barrenness-in all these cases
let the highest and most honourable magistracy created by us judge and
determine what is to be done with the redundant or deficient, and
devise a means that the number of 5040 houses shall always remain
the same. There are many ways of regulating numbers; for they in
whom generation is affluent may be made to refrain, and, on the
other hand, special care may be taken to increase the number of births
by rewards and stigmas, or we may meet the evil by the elder men
giving advice and administering rebuke to the younger-in this way
the object may be attained. And if after all there be very great
difficulty about the equal preservation of the 5040 houses, and
there be an excess of citizens, owing to the too great love of those
who live together, and we are at our wits' end, there is still the old
device often mentioned by us of sending out a colony, which will
part friends with us, and be composed of suitable persons. If, on
the other hand, there come a wave bearing a deluge of disease, or a
plague of war, and the inhabitants become much fewer than the
appointed number by reason of bereavement, we ought not to introduce
citizens of spurious birth and education, if this can be avoided;

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