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laws (books 1 - 6)   


interests of tyrants one or more, or to the power of the people, but
to justice always; which, as I was saying, the distribution of natural
equality among unequals in each case. But there are times at which
every state is compelled to use the words, "just," "equal," in a
secondary sense, in the hope of escaping in some degree from factions.
For equity and indulgence are infractions of the perfect and strict
rule of justice. And this is the reason why we are obliged to use
the equality of the lot, in order to avoid the discontent of the
people; and so we invoke God and fortune in our prayers, and beg
that they themselves will direct the lot with a view to supreme
justice. And therefore, although we are compelled to use both
equalities, we should use that into which the element of chance enters
as seldom as possible.
Thus, O my friends, and for the reasons given, should a state act
which would endure and be saved. But as a ship sailing on the sea
has to be watched night and day, in like manner a city also is sailing
on a sea of politics, and is liable to all sorts of insidious
assaults; and therefore from morning to night, and from night to
morning, rulers must join hands with rulers, and watchers with
watchers, receiving and giving up their trust in a perpetual
succession. Now a multitude can never fulfil a duty of this sort
with anything like energy. Moreover, the greater number of the
senators will have to be left during the greater part of the year to
order their concerns at their own homes. They will therefore have to
be arranged in twelve portions, answering to the twelve months, and
furnish guardians of the state, each portion for a single month. Their
business is to be at hand and receive any foreigner or citizen who
comes to them, whether to give information, or to put one of those
questions, to which, when asked by other cities, a city should give an
answer, and to which, if she ask them herself, she should receive an
answer; or again, when there is a likelihood of internal commotions,
which are always liable to happen in some form or other, they will, if
they can, prevent their occurring; or if they have already occurred,
will lose time in making them known to the city, and healing the evil.
Wherefore, also, this which is the presiding body of the state ought
always to have the control of their assemblies, and of the
dissolutions of them, ordinary as well as extraordinary. All this is
to be ordered by the twelfth part of the council, which is always to
keep watch together with the other officers of the state during one
portion of the year, and to rest during the remaining eleven portions.
Thus will the city be fairly ordered. And now, who is to have, the
superintendence of the country, and what shall be the arrangement?
Seeing that the whole city and the entire country have been both of
them divided into twelve portions, ought there not to be appointed
superintendents of the streets of the city, and of the houses, and
buildings, and harbours, and the agora, and fountains, and sacred
domains, and temples, and the like?
Cle. To be sure there ought.
Ath. Let us assume, then, that there ought to be servants of the
temples, and priests and priestesses. There must also be
superintendents of roads and buddings, who will have a care of men,
that they may do no harm, and also of beasts, both within the
enclosure and in the suburbs. Three kinds of officers will thus have
to be appointed, in order that the city may be suitably provided
according to her needs. Those who have the care of the city shall be
called wardens of the city; and those who have the care of the agora
shall be called wardens of the agora; and those who have the care of
the temples shall be called priests. Those who hold hereditary offices
as priests or priestesses, shall not be disturbed; but if there be few
or none such, as is probable at the foundation of a new city,
priests and priestesses shall be appointed to be servants of the
Gods who have no servants. Some of our officers shall be elected,
and others appointed by lot, those who are of the people and those who
are not of the people mingling in a friendly manner in every place and

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