Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plato
Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



Previous | Next
                  

laws (books 7 - 12)   


may abolish altogether the connection of men with men; and as to
women, if any man has to do with any but those who come into his house
duly married by sacred rites, whether they be bought or acquired in
any other way, and he offends publicly in the face of all mankind,
we shall be right in enacting that he be deprived of civic honours and
privileges, and be deemed to be, as he truly is, a stranger. Let
this law, then, whether it is one, or ought rather to be called two,
be laid down respecting love in general, and the intercourse of the
sexes which arises out of the desires, whether rightly or wrongly
indulged.
Meg. I, for my part, Stranger, would gladly receive this law.
Cleinias shall speak for himself, and tell you what is his opinion.
Cle. I will, Megillus, when an opportunity offers; at present, I
think that we had better allow the Stranger to proceed with his laws.
Meg. Very good.
Ath. We had got about as far as the establishment of the common
tables, which in most places would be difficult, but in Crete no one
would think of introducing any other custom. There might arise a
question about the manner of them-whether they shall be such as they
are here in Crete, or such as they are in Lacedaemon,-or is there a
third kind which may be better than either of them? The answer to this
question might be easily discovered, but the discovery would do no
great good, for at present they are very well ordered.
Leaving the common tables, we may therefore proceed to the means
of providing food. Now, in cities the means of life are gained in many
ways and from divers sources, and in general from two sources, whereas
our city has only one. For most of the Hellenes obtain their food from
sea and land, but our citizens from land only. And this makes the task
of the legislator less difficult-half as many laws will be enough, and
much less than half; and they will be of a kind better suited to
free men. For he has nothing to do with laws about shipowners and
merchants and retailers and innkeepers and tax collectors and mines
and moneylending and compound interest and innumerable other
things-bidding good-bye to these, he gives laws to husbandmen and
shepherds and bee-keepers, and to the guardians and superintendents of
their implements; and he has already legislated for greater matters,
as for example, respecting marriage and the procreation and nurture of
children, and for education, and the establishment of offices-and
now he must direct his laws to those who provide food and labour in
preparing it.
Let us first of all, then, have a class of laws which shall be
called the laws of husbandmen. And let the first of them be the law of
Zeus, the god of boundaries. Let no one shift the boundary line either
of a fellow-citizen who is a neighbour, or, if he dwells at the
extremity of the land, of any stranger who is conterminous with him,
considering that this is truly "to move the immovable," and every
one should be more willing to move the largest rock which is not a
landmark, than the least stone which is the sworn mark of friendship
and hatred between neighbours; for Zeus, the god of kindred, is the
witness of the citizen, and Zeus, the god of strangers, of the
stranger, and when aroused, terrible are the wars which they stir
up. He who obeys the law will never know the fatal consequences of
disobedience, but he who despises the law shall be liable to a
double penalty, the first coming from the Gods, and the second from
the law. For let no one wilfully remove the boundaries of his
neighbour's land, and if any one does, let him who will inform the
landowners, and let them bring him into court, and if he be
convicted of re-dividing the land by stealth or by force, let the
court determine what he ought to suffer or pay. In the next place,
many small injuries done by neighbours to one another, through their
multiplication, may cause a weight of enmity, and make neighbourhood a
very disagreeable and bitter thing. Wherefore a man ought to be very
careful of committing any offence against his neighbour, and
especially of encroaching on his neighbour's land; for any man may

Previous | Next
Site Search