laws (books 7 - 12)
mind with you.
Cle. Very good: And now what, according to you, is to be the
salvation of our government and of our laws, and how is it to be
Ath. Were we not saying that there must be in our city a council
which was to be of this sort:-The ten oldest guardians of the law, and
all those who have obtained prizes of virtue, were to meet in the same
assembly, and the council was also to include those who had visited
foreign countries in the hope of hearing something that might be of
use in the preservation of the laws, and who, having come safely home,
and having been tested in these same matters, had proved themselves to
be worthy to take part in the assembly;-each of the members was to
select some young man of not less than thirty years of age, he himself
judging in the, first instance whether the young man was worthy by
nature and education, and then suggesting him to the others, and if he
seemed to them also to be worthy they were to adopt him; but if not,
the decision at which they arrived was to be kept a secret from the
citizens at large; and, more especially, from the rejected
candidate. The meeting of the council was to be held early in the
morning, when everybody was most at leisure from all other business,
whether public or private-was not something of this sort said by us
Ath. Then, returning to the council, I would say further, that if we
let it down to be the anchor of the state, our city, having everything
which is suitable to her, will preserve all that we wish to preserve.
Cle. What do you mean?
Ath. Now is the time for me to speak the truth in all earnestness.
Cle. Well said, and I hope that you will fulfil your intention.
Ath. Know, Cleinias, that everything, in all that it does, has a
natural saviour, as of an animal the soul and the head are the chief
Cle. Once more, what do you mean?
Ath. The well-being of those two is obviously the preservation of
every living thing.
Cle. How is that?
Ath. The soul, besides other things, contains mind, and the head,
besides other things, contains sight and hearing; and the mind,
mingling with the noblest of the senses, and becoming one with them,
may be truly called the salvation of all.
Cle. Yes, Quite so.
Ath. Yes, indeed; but with what is that intellect concerned which,
mingling with the senses, is the salvation of ships in storms as
well as in fair weather? In a ship, when the pilot and the sailors
unite their perceptions with the piloting mind, do they not save
both themselves and their craft?
Cle. Very true.
Ath. We do not want many illustrations about such matters:-What
aim would the general of an army, or what aim would a physician
propose to himself, if he were seeking to attain salvation?
Cle. Very good.
Ath. Does not the general aim at victory and superiority in war, and
do not the physician and his assistants aim at producing health in the
Ath. And a physician who is ignorant about the body, that is to say,
who knows not that which we just now called health, or a general who
knows not victory, or any others who are ignorant of the particulars
of the arts which we mentioned, cannot be said to have understanding
about any of these matters.
Cle. They cannot.
Ath. And what would you say of the state? If a person proves to be
ignorant of the aim to which the statesman should look, ought he, in
the first place, to be called a ruler at all; further, will he ever be