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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


further of them and embody them in laws. In these several schools
let there be dwellings for teachers, who shall be brought from foreign
parts by pay, and let them teach those who attend the schools the
art of war and the art of music, and the children shall come not
only if their parents please, but if they do not please; there shall
be compulsory education, as the saying is, of all and sundry, as far
this is possible; and the pupils shall be regarded as belonging to the
state rather than to their parents. My law would apply to females as
well as males; they shall both go through the same exercises. I assert
without fear of contradiction that gymnastic and horsemanship are as
suitable to women as to men. Of the truth of this I am persuaded
from ancient tradition, and at the present day there are said to be
countless myriads of women in the neighbourhood of the Black Sea,
called Sauromatides, who not only ride on horseback like men, but have
enjoined upon them the use of bows and other weapons equally with
the men. And I further affirm, that if these things are possible,
nothing can be more absurd than the practice which prevails in our own
country, of men and women not following the same pursuits with all
their strength and with one mind, for thus the state, instead of being
a whole, is reduced to a half, but has the same imposts to pay and the
same toils to undergo; and what can be a greater mistake for any
legislator to make than this?
Cle. Very true; yet much of what has been asserted by us, Stranger
is contrary to the custom of states; still, in saying that the
discourse should be allowed to proceed, and that when the discussion
is completed, we should choose what seems best, you spoke very
properly, and I now feel compunction for what I have said. Tell me,
then, what you would next wish to say.
Ath. I should wish to say, Cleinias, as I said before, that if the
possibility of these things were not sufficiently proven in fact, then
there might be an objection to the argument, but the fact being as I
have said, he who rejects the law must find some other ground of
objection; and, failing this, our exhortation will still hold good,
nor will any one deny that women ought to share as far as possible
in education and in other ways with men. For consider;-if women do not
share in their whole life with men, then they must have some other
order of life.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. And what arrangement of life to be found anywhere is preferable
to this community which we are now assigning to them? Shall we
prefer that which is adopted by the Thracians and many other races who
use their women to till the ground and to be shepherds of their
herds and flocks, and to minister to them like slaves?-Or shall we
do as we and people in our part of the world do-getting together, as
the phrase is, all our goods and chattels into one dwelling, we
entrust them to our women, who are the stewards of them, and who
also preside over the shuttles and the whole art of spinning? Or shall
we take a middle course, in Lacedaemon, Megillus-letting the girls
share in gymnastic and music, while the grown-up women, no longer
employed in spinning wool, are hard at work weaving the web of life,
which will be no cheap or mean employment, and in the duty of
serving and taking care of the household and bringing up children,
in which they will observe a sort of mean, not participating in the
toils of war; and if there were any necessity that they should fight
for their city and families, unlike the Amazons, they would be
unable to take part in archery or any other skilled use of missiles,
nor could they, after the example of the Goddess, carry shield or
spear, or stand up nobly for their country when it was being
destroyed, and strike terror into their enemies, if only because
they were seen in regular order? Living as they do, they would never
dare at all to imitate the Sauromatides, who, when compared with
ordinary women, would appear to be like men. Let him who will,
praise your legislators, but I must say what I think. The legislator
ought to be whole and perfect, and not half a man only; he ought not

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