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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


which tends to this end, and they laugh at every other:-that is one
reason why a city will not be in earnest about such contests or any
other good and honourable pursuit. But from an insatiable love of gold
and silver, every man will stoop to any art or contrivance, seemly
or unseemly, in the hope of becoming rich; and will make no
objection to performing any action, holy, or unholy and utterly
base, if only like a beast he have the power of eating and drinking
all kinds of things, and procuring for himself in every sort of way
the gratification of his lusts.
Cle. True.
Ath. Let this, then, be deemed one of the causes which prevent
states from pursuing in an efficient manner the art of war, or any
other noble aim, but makes the orderly and temperate part of mankind
into merchants, and captains of ships, and servants, and converts
the valiant sort into thieves and burglars and robbers of temples, and
violent, tyrannical persons; many of whom are not without ability, but
they are unfortunate.
Cle. What do you mean?
Ath. Must not they be truly unfortunate whose souls are compelled to
pass through life always hungering?
Cle. Then that is one cause, Stranger; but you spoke of another.
Ath. Thank you for reminding me.
Cle. The insatiable life long love of wealth, as you were saying
is one clause which absorbs mankind, and prevents them from rightly
practising the arts of war:-Granted; and now tell me, what is the
other?
Ath. Do you imagine that I delay because I am in a perplexity?
Cle. No; but we think that you are too severe upon the
money-loving temper, of which you seem in the present discussion to
have a peculiar dislike.
Ath. That is a very fair rebuke, Cleinias; and I will now proceed
to the second cause.
Cle. Proceed.
Ath. I say that governments are a cause-democracy, oligarchy,
tyranny, concerning which I have often spoken in the previous
discourse; or rather governments they are not, for none of them
exercises a voluntary rule over voluntary subjects; but they may be
truly called states of discord, in which while the government is
voluntary, the subjects always obey against their will, and have to be
coerced; and the ruler fears the subject, and will not, if he can
help, allow him to become either noble, or rich, or strong, or
valiant, or warlike at all. These two are the chief causes of almost
all evils, and of the evils of which I have been speaking they are
notably the causes. But our state has escaped both of them; for her
citizens have the greatest leisure, and they are not subject to one
another, and will, I think, be made by these laws the reverse of
lovers of money. Such a constitution may be reasonably supposed to
be the only one existing which will accept the education which we have
described, and the martial pastimes which have been perfected
according to our idea.
Cle. True.
Ath. Then next we must remember, about all gymnastic contests,
that only the warlike sort of them are to be practised and to have
prizes of victory; and those which are not military are to be given
up. The military sort had better be completely described and
established by law; and first, let us speak of running and swiftness.
Cle. Very good.
Ath. Certainly the most military of all qualities is general
activity of body, whether of foot or hand. For escaping or for
capturing an enemy, quickness of foot is required; but hand-to-hand
conflict and combat need vigour and strength.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. Neither of them can attain their greatest efficiency without
arms.

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