Laws eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 711 pages of information about Laws.

Megillus:  Very good.

Athenian:  This, then, has been said for the sake—­

Megillus:  Of what?

Athenian:  We were maintaining that the lawgiver ought to have three things in view:  first, that the city for which he legislates should be free; and secondly, be at unity with herself; and thirdly, should have understanding;—­these were our principles, were they not?

Megillus:  Certainly.

Athenian:  With a view to this we selected two kinds of government, the one the most despotic, and the other the most free; and now we are considering which of them is the right form:  we took a mean in both cases, of despotism in the one, and of liberty in the other, and we saw that in a mean they attained their perfection; but that when they were carried to the extreme of either, slavery or licence, neither party were the gainers.

Megillus:  Very true.

Athenian:  And that was our reason for considering the settlement of the Dorian army, and of the city built by Dardanus at the foot of the mountains, and the removal of cities to the seashore, and of our mention of the first men, who were the survivors of the deluge.  And all that was previously said about music and drinking, and what preceded, was said with the view of seeing how a state might be best administered, and how an individual might best order his own life.  And now, Megillus and Cleinias, how can we put to the proof the value of our words?

Cleinias:  Stranger, I think that I see how a proof of their value may be obtained.  This discussion of ours appears to me to have been singularly fortunate, and just what I at this moment want; most auspiciously have you and my friend Megillus come in my way.  For I will tell you what has happened to me; and I regard the coincidence as a sort of omen.  The greater part of Crete is going to send out a colony, and they have entrusted the management of the affair to the Cnosians; and the Cnosian government to me and nine others.  And they desire us to give them any laws which we please, whether taken from the Cretan model or from any other; and they do not mind about their being foreign if they are better.  Grant me then this favour, which will also be a gain to yourselves:—­Let us make a selection from what has been said, and then let us imagine a State of which we will suppose ourselves to be the original founders.  Thus we shall proceed with our enquiry, and, at the same time, I may have the use of the framework which you are constructing, for the city which is in contemplation.

Athenian:  Good news, Cleinias; if Megillus has no objection, you may be sure that I will do all in my power to please you.

Cleinias:  Thank you.

Megillus:  And so will I.

Cleinias:  Excellent; and now let us begin to frame the State.

BOOK IV.

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Laws from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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