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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


to let the female sex live softly and waste money and have no order of
life, while he takes the utmost care of the male sex, and leaves
half of life only blest with happiness, when he might have made the
whole state happy.
Meg. What shall we do, Cleinias? Shall we allow a stranger to run
down Sparta in this fashion?
Cle. Yes; for as we have given him liberty of speech we must let him
go on until we have perfected the work of legislation.
Meg. Very true.
Ath. Then now I may proceed?
Cle. By all means.
Ath. What will be the manner of life among men who may be supposed
to have their food and clothing provided for them in moderation, and
who have entrusted the practice of the arts to others, and whose
husbandry, committed to slaves paying a part of the produce, brings
them a return sufficient for men living temperately; who, moreover,
have common tables in which the men are placed apart, and near them
are the common tables of their families, of their daughters and
mothers, which day by day, the officers, male and female, are to
inspect-they shall see to the behaviour of the company, and so dismiss
them; after which the presiding magistrate and his attendants shall
honour with libations those Gods to whom that day and night are
dedicated, and then go home? To men whose lives are thus ordered, is
there no work remaining to be done which is necessary and fitting, but
shall each one of them live fattening like a beast? Such a life is
neither just nor honourable, nor can he who lives it fail of meeting
his due; and the due reward of the idle fatted beast is that he should
be torn in pieces by some other valiant beast whose fatness is worn
down by brave deeds and toil. These regulations, if we duly consider
them, will never be exactly carried into execution under present
circumstances, nor as long as women and children and houses and all
other things are the private property of individuals; but if we can
attain the second-best form of polity, we shall be very well off.
And to men living under this second polity there remains a work to
be accomplished which is far from being small or insignificant, but is
the greatest of all works, and ordained by the appointment of
righteous law. For the life which may be truly said to be concerned
with the virtue of body and soul is twice, or more than twice, as full
of toil and trouble as the pursuit after Pythian and Olympic
victories, which debars a man from every employment of life. For there
ought to be no bye-work interfering with the greater work of providing
the necessary exercise and nourishment for the body, and instruction
and education for the soul. Night and day are not long enough for
the accomplishment of their perfection and consummation; and therefore
to this end all freemen ought to arrange the way in which they will
spend their time during the whole course of the day, from morning till
evening and from evening till the morning of the next sunrise. There
may seem to be some impropriety in the legislator determining minutely
the numberless details of the management of the house, including
such particulars as the duty of wakefulness in those who are to be
perpetual watchmen of the whole city; for that any citizen should
continue during the whole of any night in sleep, instead of being seen
by all his servants, always the first to awake and get up-this,
whether the regulation is to be called a law or only a practice,
should be deemed base and unworthy of a freeman; also that the
mistress of the house should be awakened by her handmaidens instead of
herself first awakening them, is what the slaves, male and female, and
the serving-boys, and, if that were possible, everybody and everything
in the house should regard as base. If they rise early, they may all
of them do much of their public and of their household business, as
magistrates in the city, and masters and mistresses in their private
houses, before the sun is up. Much sleep is not required by nature,
either for our souls or bodies, or for the actions which they perform.
For no one who is asleep is good for anything, any more than if he

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