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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


speech to be the more womanly quality. This, then, will be the general
order of them.
Let us now speak of the manner of teaching and imparting them, and
the persons to whom, and the time when, they are severally to be
imparted. As the shipwright first lays down the lines of the keel, and
thus, as it were, draws the ship in outline, so do I seek to
distinguish the patterns of life, and lay down their keels according
to the nature of different men's souls; seeking truly to consider by
what means, and in what ways, we may go through the voyage of life
best. Now human affairs are hardly worth considering in earnest, and
yet we must be in earnest about them-a sad necessity constrains us.
And having got thus far, there will be a fitness in our completing the
matter, if we can only find some suitable method of doing so. But what
do I mean? Some one may ask this very question, and quite rightly,
too.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. I say that about serious matters a man should be serious, and
about a matter which is not serious he should not be, serious; and
that God is the natural and worthy object of our most serious and
blessed endeavours, for man, as I said before, is made to be the
plaything of God, and this, truly considered, is the best of him;
wherefore also every man and woman should walk seriously, and pass
life in the noblest of pastimes, and be of another mind from what they
are at present.
Cle. In what respect?
Ath. At present they think that their serious suits should be for
the sake of their sports, for they deem war a serious. pursuit,
which must be managed well for the sake of peace; but the truth is,
that there neither is, nor has been, nor ever will be, either
amusement or instruction in any degree worth, speaking of in war,
which is nevertheless deemed by us to be the most serious of our
pursuits. And therefore, as we say, every one of us should live the
life of peace as long and as well as he can. And what is the right way
of living? Are we to live in sports always? If so, in what kind of
sports? We ought to live sacrificing, and singing, and dancing, and
then a man will be able to propitiate the Gods, and to defend
himself against his enemies and conquer them in battle. The type of
song or dance by which he will propitiate them has been described, and
the paths along which he is to proceed have been cut for him. He
will go forward in the spirit of the poet:

Telemachus, some things thou wilt thyself find in thy heart, but
other things God will suggest; for I deem that thou wast not brought
up without the will of the Gods.

And this ought to be the view of our alumni; they ought to think
that what has been said is enough for them, and that any other
things their Genius and God will suggest to them-he will tell them
to whom, and when, and to what Gods severally they are to sacrifice
and perform dances, and how they may propitiate the deities, and
live according to the appointment of nature; being for the most part
puppets, but having some little share of reality.
Megillus. You have a low opinion of mankind, Stranger.
Ath. Nay, Megillus, be not amazed, but forgive me:-I was comparing
them with the Gods; and under that feeling I spoke. Let us grant, if
you wish, that the human race is not to be despised, but is worthy
of some consideration.
Next follow the buildings for gymnasia and schools open to all;
these are to be in three places in the midst of the city; and
outside the city and in the surrounding country, also in three places,
there shall be schools for horse exercise, and large grounds
arranged with a view to archery and the throwing of missiles, at which
young men may learn and practise. Of these mention has already been
made, and if the mention be not sufficiently explicit, let us speak,

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