laws (books 7 - 12)
Suppose that we compel nurses, under penalty of a legal fine, to be
always carrying the children somewhere or other, either to the
temples, or into the country, or to their relations, houses, until
they are well able to stand, and to take care that their limbs are not
distorted by leaning on them when they are too young-they should
continue to carry them until the infant has completed its third
year; the nurses should be strong, and there should be more than one
of them. Shall these be our rules, and shall we impose a penalty for
the neglect of them? No, no; the penalty of which we were speaking
will fall upon our own heads more than enough.
Cle. What penalty?
Ath. Ridicule, and the difficulty of getting the feminine and
servant-like dispositions of the nurses to comply.
Cle. Then why was there any need to speak of the matter at all?
Ath. The reason is that masters and freemen in states, when they
hear of it, are very likely to arrive at a true conviction that
without due regulation of private life in cities, stability in the
laying down of laws is hardly to be expected; and he who makes this
reflection may himself adopt the laws just now mentioned, and,
adopting them, may order his house and state well and be happy.
Cle. Likely enough.
Ath. And therefore let us proceed with our legislation until we have
determined the exercises which are suited to the souls of young
children, in the same manner in which we have begun to go through
the rules relating to their bodies.
Cle. By all means.
Ath. Let us assume, then, as a first principle in relation both to
the body and soul of very young creatures, that nursing and moving
about by day and night is good for them all, and that the younger they
are, the more they will need it; infants should live, if that were
possible, as if they were always rocking at sea. This is the lesson
which we may gather from the experience of nurses, and likewise from
the use of the remedy of motion in the rites of the Corybantes; for
when mothers want their restless children to go to sleep they do not
employ rest, but, on the contrary, motion-rocking them in their
arms; nor do they give them silence, but they sing to them and lap
them in sweet strains; and the Bacchic women are cured of their frenzy
in the same manner by the use of the dance and of music.
Cle. Well, Stranger, and what is the reason of this?
Ath. The reason is obvious.
Ath. The affection both of the Bacchantes and of the children is
an emotion of fear, which springs out of an evil habit of the soul.
And when some one applies external agitation to affections of this
sort, the motion coming from without gets the better of the terrible
and violent internal one, and produces a peace and calm in the soul,
and quiets the restless palpitation of the heart, which is a thing
much to be desired, sending the children to sleep, and making the
Bacchantes, although they remain awake, to dance to the pipe with
the help of the Gods to whom they offer acceptable sacrifices, and
producing in them a sound mind, which takes the place of their frenzy.
And, to express what I mean in a word, there is a good deal to be said
in favour of this treatment.
Ath. But if fear has such a power we ought to infer from these
facts, that every soul which from youth upward has been familiar
with fears, will be made more liable to fear, and every one will allow
that this is the way to form a habit of cowardice and not of courage.
Cle. No doubt.
Ath. And, on the other hand, the habit of overcoming, from our youth
upwards, the fears and terrors which beset us, may be said to be an
exercise of courage.
Ath. And we may say that the use of exercise and motion in the