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laws (books 7 - 12)   


is the truest word that can be spoken in praise of a citizen; and
the true legislator ought not only to write his laws, but also to
interweave with them all such things as seem to him honourable and
dishonourable. And the perfect citizen ought to seek to strengthen
these no less than the principles of law which are sanctioned by
punishments. I will adduce an example which will clear up my
meaning, and will be a sort of witness to my words. Hunting is of wide
extent, and has a name under which many things are included, for there
is a hunting of creatures in the water, and of creatures in the air,
and there is a great deal of hunting of land animals of all kinds, and
not of wild beasts only. The hunting after man is also worthy of
consideration; there is the hunting after him in war, and there is
often a hunting after him in the way of friendship, which is praised
and also blamed; and there is thieving, and the hunting which is
practised by robbers, and that of armies against armies. Now the
legislator, in laying down laws about hunting, can neither abstain
from noting these things, nor can he make threatening ordinances which
will assign rules and penalties about all of them. What is he to do?
He will have to praise and blame hunting with a view to the exercise
and pursuits of youth. And, on the other hand, the young man must
listen obediently; neither pleasure nor pain should hinder him, and he
should regard as his standard of action the praises and injunctions of
the legislator rather than the punishments which he imposes by law.
This being premised, there will follow next in order moderate praise
and censure of hunting; the praise being assigned to that kind which
will make the souls of young men better, and the censure to that which
has the opposite effect.
And now let us address young men in the form of a prayer for their
welfare: O friends, we will say to them, may no desire or love of
hunting in the sea, or of angling or of catching the creatures in
the waters, ever take possession of you, either when you are awake
or when you are asleep, by hook or with weels, which latter is a
very lazy contrivance; and let not any desire of catching men and of
piracy by sea enter into your souls and make you cruel and lawless
hunters. And as to the desire of thieving in town or country, may it
never enter into your most passing thoughts; nor let the insidious
fancy of catching birds, which is hardly worthy of freemen, come
into the head of any youth. There remains therefore for our athletes
only the hunting and catching of land animals, of which the one sort
is called hunting by night, in which the hunters sleep in turn and are
lazy; this is not to be commended any more than that which has
intervals of rest, in which the will strength of beasts is subdued
by nets and snares, and not by the victory of a laborious spirit.
Thus, only the best kind of hunting is allowed at all-that of
quadrupeds, which is carried on with horses and dogs and men's own
persons, and they get the victory over the animals by running them
down and striking them and hurling at them, those who have a care of
godlike manhood taking them with their own hands. The praise and blame
which is assigned to all these things has now been declared; and let
the law be as follows:-Let no one hinder these who verily are sacred
hunters from following the chase wherever and whither soever they
will; but the hunter by night, who trusts to his nets and gins,
shall not be allowed to hunt anywhere. The fowler in the mountains and
waste places shall be permitted, but on cultivated ground and on
consecrated wilds he shall not be permitted; and any one who meets him
may stop him. As to the hunter in waters, he may hunt anywhere
except in harbours or sacred streams or marshes or pools, provided
only that he do not pollute the water with poisonous juices. And now
we may say that all our enactments about education are complete.
Cle. Very good.

BOOK VIIII

Athenian Stranger. Next, with the help of the Delphian oracle, we

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