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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



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laws (books 1 - 6)   


Cle. We shall be sure to remember, Stranger.
Ath. Very good. Then let us now proceed to marriage, and teach
persons in what way they shall beget children, threatening them, if
they disobey, with the terrors of the law.
Cle. What do you mean?
Ath. The bride and bridegroom should consider that they are to
produce for the state the best and fairest specimens of children which
they can. Now all men who are associated any action always succeed
when they attend and give their mind to what they are doing, but
when they do not give their mind or have no mind, they fail; wherefore
let the bridegroom give his mind to the bride and to the begetting
of children, and the bride in like manner give her mind to the
bridegroom, and particularly at the time when their children are not
yet born. And let the women whom we have chosen be the overseers of
such matters, and let them in whatever number, large or small, and
at whatever time the magistrates may command, assemble every day in
the temple of Eileithyia during a third part of the day, and being
there assembled, let them inform one another of any one whom they see,
whether man or woman, of those who are begetting children,
disregarding the ordinances given at the time when the nuptial
sacrifices and ceremonies were performed. Let the begetting of
children and the supervision of those who are begetting them
continue ten years and no longer, during the time when marriage is
fruitful. But if any continue without children up to this time, let
them take counsel with their kindred and with the women holding the
office of overseer and be divorced for their mutual benefit. If,
however, any dispute arises about what is proper and for the
interest of either party, they shall choose ten of the guardians of
the law and abide by their permission and appointment. The women who
preside over these matters shall enter into the houses of the young,
and partly by admonitions and partly by threats make them give over
their folly and error: if they persist, let the women go and tell
the guardians of the law, and the guardians shall prevent them. But if
they too cannot prevent them, they shall bring the matter before the
people; and let them write up their names and make oath that they
cannot reform such and such an one; and let him who is thus written
up, if he cannot in a court of law convict those who have inscribed
his name, be deprived of the privileges of a citizen in the
following respects:-let him not go to weddings nor to the
thanksgivings after the birth of children; and if he go, let any one
who pleases strike him with impunity; and let the same regulations
hold about women: let not a woman be allowed to appear abroad, or
receive honour, or go to nuptial and birthday festivals, if she in
like manner be written up as acting disorderly and cannot obtain a
verdict. And if, when they themselves have done begetting children
according to the law, a man or woman have connection with another
man or woman who are still begetting children, let the same
penalties be inflicted upon them as upon those who are still having
a family; and when the time for procreation has passed let the man
or woman who refrains in such matters be held in esteem, and let those
who do not refrain be held in the contrary of esteem-that is to say,
disesteem. Now, if the greater part of mankind behave modestly, the
enactments of law may be left to slumber; but, if they are disorderly,
the enactments having been passed, let them be carried into execution.
To every man the first year is the beginning of life, and the time
of birth ought to be written down in the temples of their fathers as
the beginning of existence to every child, whether boy or girl. Let
every phratria have inscribed on a whited wall the names of the
successive archons by whom the years are reckoned. And near to them
let the living members of the phratria be inscribed, and when they
depart life let them be erased. The limit of marriageable ages for a
woman shall be from sixteen to twenty years at the longest-for a
man, from thirty to thirty-five years; and let a woman hold office
at forty, and a man at thirty years. Let a man go out to war from

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