Laws eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 837 pages of information about Laws.

Cleinias:  That I think is most true.  And now, Stranger, without delay let us return to the argument, and, as people say in play, make a second and better beginning, if you please, with the principles which we have been laying down, which we never thought of regarding as a preamble before, but of which we may now make a preamble, and not merely consider them to be chance topics of discourse.  Let us acknowledge, then, that we have a preamble.  About the honour of the Gods and the respect of parents, enough has been already said; and we may proceed to the topics which follow next in order, until the preamble is deemed by you to be complete; and after that you shall go through the laws themselves.

Athenian:  I understand you to mean that we have made a sufficient preamble about Gods and demigods, and about parents living or dead; and now you would have us bring the rest of the subject into the light of day?

Cleinias:  Exactly.

Athenian:  After this, as is meet and for the interest of us all, I the speaker, and you the listeners, will try to estimate all that relates to the souls and bodies and properties of the citizens, as regards both their occupations and amusements, and thus arrive, as far as in us lies, at the nature of education.  These then are the topics which follow next in order.

Cleinias:  Very good.


Athenian:  Listen, all ye who have just now heard the laws about Gods, and about our dear forefathers:—­Of all the things which a man has, next to the Gods, his soul is the most divine and most truly his own.  Now in every man there are two parts:  the better and superior, which rules, and the worse and inferior, which serves; and the ruling part of him is always to be preferred to the subject.  Wherefore I am right in bidding every one next to the Gods, who are our masters, and those who in order follow them (i.e. the demons), to honour his own soul, which every one seems to honour, but no one honours as he ought; for honour is a divine good, and no evil thing is honourable; and he who thinks that he can honour the soul by word or gift, or any sort of compliance, without making her in any way better, seems to honour her, but honours her not at all.  For example, every man, from his very boyhood, fancies that he is able to know everything, and thinks that he honours his soul by praising her, and he is very ready to let her do whatever she may like.  But I mean to say that in acting thus he injures his soul, and is far from honouring her; whereas, in our opinion, he ought to honour her as second only to the Gods.  Again, when a man thinks that others are to be blamed, and not himself, for the errors which he has committed from time to time, and the many and great evils which befell him in consequence, and is always fancying himself to be exempt and innocent, he is under the idea that he

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Laws from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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