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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


divisible by twelve, but also the number of each tribe is divisible by
twelve. Now every portion should be regarded by us as a sacred gift of
Heaven, corresponding to the months and to the revolution of the
universe. Every city has a guiding and sacred principle given by
nature, but in some the division or distribution has been more right
than in others, and has been more sacred and fortunate. In our
opinion, nothing can be more right than the selection of the number
5040, which may be divided by all numbers from one to twelve with
the single exception of eleven, and that admits of a very easy
correction; for if, turning to the dividend (5040), we deduct two
families, the defect in the division is cured. And the truth of this
may be easily proved when we have leisure. But for the present,
trusting to the mere assertion of this principle, let us divide the
state; and assigning to each portion some God or son of a God, let
us give them altars and sacred rites, and at the altars let us hold
assemblies for sacrifice twice in the month-twelve assemblies for
the tribes, and twelve for the city, according to their divisions; the
first in honour of the Gods and divine things, and the second to
promote friendship and "better acquaintance," as the phrase is, and
every sort of good fellowship with one another. For people must be
acquainted with those into whose families and whom they marry and with
those to whom they give in marriage; in such matters, as far as
possible, a man should deem it all important to avoid a mistake, and
with this serious purpose let games be instituted in which youths
and maidens shall dance together, seeing one another and being seen
naked, at a proper age, and on a suitable occasion, not
transgressing the rules of modesty.
The directors of choruses will be the superintendents and regulators
of these games, and they, together with the guardians of the law, will
legislate in any matters which we have omitted; for, as we said, where
there are numerous and minute details, the legislator must leave out
something. And the annual officers who have experience, and know
what is wanted, must make arrangements and improvements year by
year, until such enactments and provisions are sufficiently
determined. A ten years experience of sacrifices and dances, if
extending to all particulars, will be quite sufficient; and if the
legislator be alive they shall communicate with him, but if he be dead
then the several officers shall refer the omissions which come under
their notice to the guardians of the law, and correct them, until
all is perfect; and from that time there shall be no more change,
and they shall establish and use the new laws with the others which
the legislator originally gave them, and of which they are never, if
they can help, to change aught; or, if some necessity overtakes
them, the magistrates must be called into counsel, and the whole
people, and they must go to all the oracles of the Gods; and if they
are all agreed, in that case they may make the change, but if they are
not agreed, by no manner of means, and any one who dissents shall
prevail, as the law ordains.
Whenever any one over twenty-five years of age, having seen and been
seen by others, believes himself to have found a marriage connection
which is to his mind, and suitable for the procreation of children,
let him marry if he be still under the age of five-and-thirty years;
but let him first hear how he ought to seek after what is suitable and
appropriate. For, as Cleinias says, every law should have a suitable
prelude.
Cle. You recollect at the right moment, Stranger, and do not miss
the opportunity which the argument affords of saying a word in season.
Ath. I thank you. We will say to him who is born of good parents-O
my son, you ought to make such a marriage as wise men would approve.
Now they would advise you neither to avoid a poor marriage, nor
specially to desire a rich one; but if other things are equal,
always to honour inferiors, and with them to form connections;-this
will be for the benefit of the city and of the families which are
united; for the equable and symmetrical tends infinitely more to

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