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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


legislation is ever to take effect, then the house shall precede the
marriage if God so will, and afterwards we will come to the
regulations about marriage; but at present we are only describing
these matters in a general outline.
Cle. Quite true.
Ath. The temples are to be placed all round the agora, and the whole
city built on the heights in a circle, for the sake of defence and for
the sake of purity. Near the temples are to be placed buildings for
the magistrates and the courts of law; in these plaintiff and
defendant will receive their due, and the places will be regarded as
most holy, partly because they have to do with the holy things: and
partly because they are the dwelling-places of holy Gods: and in
them will be held the courts in which cases of homicide and other
trials of capital offenses may fitly take place. As to the walls,
Megillus, I agree with Sparta in thinking that they should be
allowed to sleep in the earth, and that we should not attempt to
disinter them; there is a poetical saying, which is finely
expressed, that "walls ought to be of steel and iron, and not of
earth; besides, how ridiculous of us to be sending out our young men
annually into the country to dig and to trench, and to keep off the
enemy by fortifications, under the idea that they are not to be
allowed to set foot in our territory, and then, that we should
surround ourselves with a wall, which, in the first place, is by no
means conducive to the health of cities, and is also apt to produce
a certain effeminacy in the minds of the inhabitants, inviting men
to run thither instead of repelling their enemies, and leading them to
imagine that their safety is due not to their keeping guard day and
night, but that when they are protected by walls and gates, then
they may sleep in safety; as if they were not meant to labour, and did
not know that true repose comes from labour, and that disgraceful
indolence and a careless temper of mind is only the renewal of
trouble. But if men must have walls, the private houses ought to be so
arranged from the first that the whole city may be one wall, having
all the houses capable of defence by reason of their uniformity and
equality towards the streets. The form of the city being that of a
single dwelling will have an agreeable aspect, and being easily
guarded will be infinitely better for security. Until the original
building is completed, these should be the principal objects of the
inhabitants; and the wardens of the city should superintend the
work, and should impose a fine on him who is negligent; and in all
that relates to the city they should have a care of cleanliness, and
not allow a private person to encroach upon any public property either
by buildings or excavations. Further, they ought to take care that the
rains from heaven flow off easily, and of any other matters which
may have to be administered either within or without the city. The
guardians of the law shall pass any further enactments which their
experience may show to be necessary, and supply any other points in
which the law may be deficient. And now that these matters, and the
buildings about the agora, and the gymnasia, and places of
instruction, and theatres, are all ready and waiting for scholars
and spectators, let us proceed to the subjects which follow marriage
in the order of legislation.
Cle. By all means.
Ath. Assuming that marriages exist already, Cleinias, the mode of
life during the year after marriage, before children are born, will
follow next in order. In what way bride and bridegroom ought to live
in a city which is to be superior to other cities, is a matter not
at all easy for us to determine. There have been many difficulties
already, but this will be the greatest of them, and the most
disagreeable to the many. Still I cannot but say what appears to me to
be right and true, Cleinias.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. He who imagines that he can give laws for the public conduct of
states, while he leaves the private life of citizens wholly to take

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