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Plato : LAWS

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

Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 80 Pages (Part 1) - Greek fonts
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LAWS part 1 of 2, 3, 4, 5

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Part 1 Page 4

Cle. You are quite right in asking the question, for there certainly is such a principle, and above all in states; and the state in which the better citizens win a victory over the mob and over the inferior classes may be truly said to be better than itself, and may be justly praised, where such a victory is gained, or censured in the opposite case.

Ath. Whether the better is ever really conquered by the worse, is a question which requires more discussion, and may be therefore left for the present. But I now quite understand your meaning when you say that citizens who are of the same race and live in the same cities may unjustly conspire, and having the superiority in numbers may overcome and enslave the few just; and when they prevail, the state may be truly called its own inferior and therefore bad; and when they are defeated, its own superior and therefore good.

Cle. Your remark, Stranger, is a paradox, and yet we cannot possibly deny it.

Ath. Here is another case for consideration; - in a family there may be several brothers, who are the offspring of a single pair; very possibly the majority of them may be unjust, and the just may be in a minority.

Cle. Very possibly.

Ath. And you and I ought not to raise a question of words as to whether this family and household are rightly said to be superior when they conquer, and inferior when they are conquered; for we are not now considering what may or may not be the proper or customary way of speaking, but we are considering the natural principles of right and wrong in laws.

Cle. What you say, Stranger, is most true.

Meg. Quite excellent, in my opinion, as far as we have gone.

Ath. Again; might there not be a judge over these brethren, of whom we were speaking?

Cle. Certainly.

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