laws (books 7 - 12)
Ath. And must not that of which we are in need be the one to which
we were just now alluding?
Cle. Very true.
Ath. Did we not say that the workman or guardian, if he be perfect
in every respect, ought not only to be able to see the many aims,
but he should press onward to the one? this he should know, and
knowing, order all things with a view to it.
Ath. And can any one have a more exact way of considering or
contemplating. anything, than the being able to look at one idea
gathered from many different things?
Cle. Perhaps not.
Ath. Not "Perhaps not," but "Certainly not," my good sir, is the
right answer. There never has been a truer method than this discovered
by any man.
Cle. I bow to your authority, Stranger; let us proceed in the way
which you propose.
Ath. Then, as would appear, we must compel the guardians of our
divine state to perceive, in the first place, what that principle is
which is the same in all the four-the same, as we affirm, in courage
and in temperance, and in justice and in prudence, and which, being
one, we call as we ought, by the single name of virtue. To this, my
friends, we will, if you please, hold fast, and not let go until we
have sufficiently explained what that is to which we are to look,
whether to be regarded as one, or as a whole, or as both, or in
whatever way. Are we likely ever to be in a virtuous condition, if
we cannot tell whether virtue is many, or four, or one? Certainly,
if we take counsel among ourselves, we shall in some way contrive that
this principle has a place amongst us; but if you have made up your
mind that we should let the matter alone, we will.
Cle. We must not, Stranger, by the God of strangers I swear that
we must not, for in our opinion you speak most truly; but we should
like to know how you will accomplish your purpose.
Ath. Wait a little before you ask; and let us, first of all, be
quite agreed with one another that the purpose has to be accomplished.
Cle. Certainly, it ought to be, if it can be.
Ast. Well, and about the good and the honourable, are we to take the
same view? Are our guardians only to know that each of them is many,
or, also how and in what way they are one?
Cle. They must consider also in what sense they are one.
Ath. And are they to consider only, and to be unable to set forth
what they think?
Cle. Certainly not; that would be the state of a slave.
Ath. And may not the same be said of all good things-that the true
guardians of the laws ought to know the truth about them, and to be
able to interpret them in words, and carry them out in action, judging
of what is and what is not well, according to nature?
Ath. Is not the knowledge of the Gods which we have set forth with
so much zeal one of the noblest sorts of knowledge;-to know that
they are, and know how great is their power, as far as in man lies? do
indeed excuse the mass of the citizens, who only follow the voice of
the laws, but we refuse to admit as guardians any who do not labour to
obtain every possible evidence that there is respecting the Gods;
our city is forbidden and not allowed to choose as a guardian of the
law, or to place in the select order of virtue, him who is not an
inspired man, and has not laboured at these things.
Cle. It is certainly just, as you say, that he who is indolent about
such matters or incapable should be rejected, and that things
honourable should be put away from him.
Ath. Are we assured that there are two things which lead men to
believe in the Gods, as we have already stated?
Cle. What are they?
Ath. One is the argument about the soul, which has been already