Plato, Laws (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Leg.].
<<Pl. Leg. 937c Pl. Leg. 942b (Greek) >>Pl. Leg. 944b

941bif convicted. Theft of property is uncivilized, open robbery is shameless: neither of these has any of the sons of Zeus practiced, through delight in fraud or force. Let no man, therefore, be deluded concerning this or persuaded either by poets or by any perverse myth-mongers into the belief that, when he thieves or forcibly robs, he is doing nothing shameful, but just what the gods themselves do. [Note] That is both unlikely and untrue; and whoever acts thus unlawfully is neither a god at all nor a child of gods; 941cand this the lawgiver, as it behoves him, knows better than the whole tribe of poets. He, therefore, that hearkens to our speech is blessed, and deserves blessing for all time; but he that hearkens not shall, in the next place, be holden by this law:—If anyone steals any piece of public property, he shall receive the same punishment, be it great or small. For he that steals a small thing steals with equal greed, though with less power, while he that takes a large thing which he has not deposited does wrong to the full; 941dwherefore the law deems it right not to inflict a less penalty on the one offender than on the other on the ground that his theft is smaller, but rather because the one is possibly still curable, the other incurable. So if anyone convict in a court of law either a resident alien or a slave of stealing any piece of public property, in his case, since he is probably curable, the court shall decide what punishment he shall suffer 942aor what fine he shall pay. But in the case of a citizen, who has been reared in the way he is to be reared,—if he be convicted of plundering or doing violence to his fatherland, whether he has been caught in the act or not, he shall be punished by death, [Note] as being practically incurable. Military organization is the subject of much consultation and of many appropriate laws. The main principle is this—that nobody, male or female, should ever be left without control, nor should anyone, whether at work or in play, grow habituated in mind to acting alone and on his own initiative, but he should live always, both in war 942band peace, with his eyes fixed constantly on his commander and following his lead; and he should be guided by him even in the smallest detail of his actions—for example, to stand at the word of command, and to march, and to exercise, to wash and eat, to wake up at night for sentry-duty and despatch-carrying, and in moments of danger to wait for the commander's signal before either pursuing or retreating before an enemy; and, in a word, 942che must instruct his soul by habituation to avoid all thought or idea of doing anything at all apart from the rest of his company, so that the life of all shall be lived en masse and in common; for there is not, nor ever will be, any rule superior to this or better and more effective in ensuring safety and victory in war. This task of ruling, and being ruled by, others must be practiced in peace from earliest childhood; [Note] but anarchy 942dmust be utterly removed from the lives of all mankind, and of the beasts also that are subject to man. Moreover, with a view to excellence in war, they shall dance all kinds of dances, [Note] and with the same object they shall cultivate in general suppleness and dexterity, and endurance also in the matter of foods and drinks and cold and heat and hard beds; and, what is most important, they shall accustom themselves not to spoil the natural powers of head and feet by wrapping them in coverings of alien material, and thereby ruining the production and growth 942eof their own natural hair and soles. For when these extremities are conserved, they keep at its highest the power of the whole body, but they effect the opposite when spoiled; and of these two extremities, the one is the chief minister of the whole body, and the other the chief master, inasmuch as, by the ordinance of nature, it contains all the leading senses of the body. 943aSuch is the laudation of the military life to which, as we hold, the youth ought to hearken, and its laws are these:—He that is enrolled or put on some rota must perform military service. If anyone, through cowardice, fail to present himself without leave from the commanders, he shall be indicted for desertion before the military officers when they return from camp, and each class of those who have served shall sit by themselves as judge—that is, hoplites, cavalry, and each of the other branches,— 943band they shall summon hoplites before the hoplites, cavalrymen before the cavalry, and all others in like manner before soldiers of their own class; and any man that is convicted shall be debarred from ever competing for any distinction and from ever prosecuting another for shirking service, or acting as accuser in connection with such charges; and, in addition to this, what he ought to suffer or pay shall be determined by the court. Next, when the suits for shirking service have been fully decided, the officers shall again hold a review of each class of soldiers, and he who wishes shall be tried before a court of his own colleagues on his claim for an award of merit; but any proof or verbal testimony which the claimant produces must have reference,


Plato, Laws (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Leg.].
<<Pl. Leg. 937c Pl. Leg. 942b (Greek) >>Pl. Leg. 944b

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