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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


and without an intelligent understanding of them. And there always are
in the world a few inspired men whose acquaintance is beyond price,
and who spring up quite as much in ill-ordered as in well-ordered
cities. These are they whom the citizens of a well ordered city should
be ever seeking out, going forth over sea and over land to find him
who is incorruptible-that he may establish more firmly institutions in
his own state which are good already; and amend what is deficient; for
without this examination and enquiry a city will never continue
perfect any more than if the examination is ill-conducted.
Cleinias. How can we have an examination and also a good one?
Athenian Stranger. In this way: In the first place, our spectator
shall be of not less than fifty years of age; he must be a man of
reputation, especially in war, if he is to exhibit to other cities a
model of the guardians of the law, but when he is more than sixty
years of age he shall no longer continue in his office of spectator,
And when he has carried on his inspection during as many out of the
ten years of his office as he pleases, on his return home let him go
to the assembly of those who review the laws. This shall be a mixed
body of young and old men, who shall be required to meet daily between
the hour of dawn and the rising of the sun. They shall consist, in the
first place, of the priests who have obtained the rewards of virtue;
and in the second place, of guardians of the law, the ten eldest being
chosen; the general superintendent of education shall also be
member, as well the last appointed as those who have been released
from the office; and each of them shall take with him as his companion
young man, whomsoever he chooses, between the ages of thirty and
forty. These shall be always holding conversation and discourse
about the laws of their own city or about any specially good ones
which they may hear to be existing elsewhere; also about kinds of
knowledge which may appear to be of use and will throw light upon
the examination, or of which the want will make the subject of laws
dark and uncertain to them. Any knowledge of this sort which the
elders approve, the younger men shall learn with all diligence; and if
any one of those who have been invited appear to be unworthy, the
whole assembly shall blame him who invited him. The rest of the city
shall watch over those among the young men who distinguish themselves,
having an eye upon them, and especially honouring them if they
succeed, but dishonouring them above the rest if they turn out to be
inferior. This is the assembly to which he who has visited the
institutions of other men, on his return home shall straightway go,
and if he have discovered any one who has anything to say about the
enactment of laws or education or nurture, or if he have himself
made any observations, let him communicate his discoveries to the
whole assembly. And if he be seen to have come home neither better nor
worse, let him be praised at any rate for his enthusiasm; and if he be
much better, let him be praised so much the more; and not only while
he lives but after his death let the assembly honour him with
fitting honours. But if on his return home he appear to have been
corrupted, pretending to be wise when he is not, let him hold no
communication with any one, whether young or old; and if he will
hearken to the rulers, then he shall be permitted to live as a private
individual; but if he will not, let him die, if he be convicted in a
court of law of interfering about education and the laws, And if he
deserve to be indicted, and none of the magistrates indict him, let
that be counted as a disgrace to them when the rewards of virtue are
decided.
Let such be the character of the person who goes abroad, and let him
go abroad under these conditions. In the next place, the stranger
who comes from abroad should be received in a friendly spirit. Now
there are four kinds of strangers, of whom we must make some
mention-the first is he who comes and stays throughout the summer;
this class are like birds of passage, taking wing in pursuit of
commerce, and flying over the sea to other cities, while the season
lasts; he shall be received in market-places and harbours and public

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