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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato : LAWS

Persons of the dialogue: An Athenian stranger - Cleinias, a Cretan
 - Megillus, a Lacedaemonian

Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 69 Pages (Part 4) - Greek fonts
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LAWS part 4 of 5

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Meg. I, for my part, Stranger, would gladly receive this law. Cleinias shall speak for himself, and tell you what is his opinion.

Cle. I will, Megillus, when an opportunity offers; at present, I think that we had better allow the Stranger to proceed with his laws.

Meg. Very good.

Ath. We had got about as far as the establishment of the common tables, which in most places would be difficult, but in Crete no one would think of introducing any other custom. There might arise a question about the manner of them - whether they shall be such as they are here in Crete, or such as they are in Lacedaemon, - or is there a third kind which may be better than either of them? The answer to this question might be easily discovered, but the discovery would do no great good, for at present they are very well ordered.

Leaving the common tables, we may therefore proceed to the means of providing food. Now, in cities the means of life are gained in many ways and from divers sources, and in general from two sources, whereas our city has only one. For most of the Hellenes obtain their food from sea and land, but our citizens from land only. And this makes the task of the legislator less difficult - half as many laws will be enough, and much less than half; and they will be of a kind better suited to free men. For he has nothing to do with laws about shipowners and merchants and retailers and innkeepers and tax collectors and mines and moneylending and compound interest and innumerable other things - bidding good - bye to these, he gives laws to husbandmen and shepherds and bee - keepers, and to the guardians and superintendents of their implements; and he has already legislated for greater matters, as for example, respecting marriage and the procreation and nurture of children, and for education, and the establishment of offices - and now he must direct his laws to those who provide food and labour in preparing it.

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