laws (books 7 - 12)
Cle. Yes, certainly; the soul can only order all things in one of
these three ways.
Ath. And this soul of the sun, which is therefore better than the
sun, whether taking the sun about in a chariot to give light to men,
or acting from without or in whatever way, ought by every man to be
deemed a God.
Cle. Yes, by every man who has the least particle of sense.
Ath. And of the stars too, and of the moon, and of the years and
months and seasons, must we not say in like manner, that since a
soul or souls having every sort of excellence are the causes of all of
them, those souls are Gods, whether they are living beings and
reside in bodies, and in this way order the whole heaven, or
whatever be the place and mode of their existence;-and will any one
who admits all this venture to deny that all things full of Gods?
Cle. No one, Stranger, would be such a madman.
Ath. And now, Megillus and Cleinias, let us offer terms to him who
has hitherto denied the existence of the Gods, and leave him.
Cle. What terms?
Ath. Either he shall teach us that we were wrong in saying that
the soul is the original of all things, and arguing accordingly; or,
if he be not able to say anything better, then he must yield to us and
live for the remainder of his life in the belief that there are
Gods.-Let us see, then, whether we have said enough or not enough to
those who deny that there are Gods.
Cle. Certainly-quite enough, Stranger.
Ath. Then to them we will say no more. And now we are to address him
who, believing that there are Gods, believes also that they take no
heed of human affairs: To him we say-O thou best of men, in
believing that there are Gods you are led by some affinity to them,
which attracts you towards your kindred and makes you honour and
believe in them. But the fortunes of evil and unrighteous men in
private as well as public life, which, though not really happy, are
wrongly counted happy in the judgment of men, and are celebrated
both by poets and prose writers-these draw you aside from your natural
piety. Perhaps you have seen impious men growing old and leaving their
children's children in high offices, and their prosperity shakes
your faith-you have known or heard or been yourself an eyewitness of
many monstrous impieties, and have beheld men by such criminal
means from small beginnings attaining to sovereignty and the
pinnacle of greatness; and considering all these things you do not
like to accuse the Gods of them, because they are your relatives;
and so from some want of reasoning power, and also from an
unwillingness to find fault with them, you have come to believe that
they exist indeed, but have no thought or care of human things. Now,
that your present evil opinion may not grow to still greater
impiety, and that we may if possible use arguments which may conjure
away the evil before it arrives, we will add another argument to
that originally addressed to him who utterly denied the existence of
the Gods. And do you, Megillus and Cleinias, answer for the young
man as you did before; and if any impediment comes in our way, I
will take the word out of your mouths, and carry you over the river as
I did just now.
Cle. Very good; do as you say, and we will help you as well as we
Ath. There will probably be no difficulty in proving to him that the
Gods care about the small as well as about the great. For he was
present and heard what was said, that they are perfectly good, and
that the care of all things is most entirely natural to them.
Cle. No doubt he heard that.
Ath. Let us consider together in the next place what we mean by this
virtue which we ascribe to them. Surely we should say that to be
temperate and to possess mind belongs to virtue, and the contrary to