PLATOís LAWS

 

Prometheus Books, New York 2000 translated by Benjamin Jowett

BOOK ONE


10 Peace is war by another name.
12 We are now speaking of principle rather than custom.  Is it better to conquer, eliminate or educate your worst among us?  Civil unity must be considered before foreign efforts.
15 Dealing with policies is less than with complete virtue.
16 Perhaps saying the laws will be explained.
18 We must be able to endure pleasure as well as pain.  Only the old may question (what of Socrate
s' charges of corrupting the youth?)
19 We must be ale to persist in pleasure and pain or be a slave.
20 License is okay when balanced
24 Sober men should lead revelries.

24 Therefore, we need education?  Informal meetings are educational.  26 To be good at something you must start young.  But broad education is for the virtues with which he can practice citizenship and how to rule and obey.
27 Education is the greatest thing you can have.  Pleasure and pain pull us like puppet
strings and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice.  But we ought to pull "the chain of reason.", the law of the state.
28 What if the puppet gets drunk?  The pleasure and pain are amplified.  Alcohol makes us worse, but exercise and medicine might temporarily debilitate us.  Alcohol makes us trained in scary situations.  In drink you may test others and they themselves.

 

BOOK TWO


33 If trained in virtue before the age of reason then seem natural.  This harmony is virtue.  The process education.  Culturist training via ritual and song are advocated.
35 But this must all be good morally.  Our dance and art reveal our character as men.  Men praise the art which reflects their character.
36 It is the same bad affect as hanging out with bad people.  So music cannot be allowed to be made without reference to virtue or vice.  And like
Egypt, no innovation should be allowed.

39 If betters judge art it will improve.  If the crowd, art will pander.  This getting youth to esteem that of their betters/ elders is education
41If you have all but are unjust, you cannot be happy.  The view that conflates justice and happiness is salutary moral influe
nces even if you don't believe it, it should be pushed.  And age groups should sing of this truth.  And the songs should vary t o avoid boredom.
45
Real drinking will be the prerogative of the old only.
47 Music should not be judged by pleasure, but truth.
49 The best artists and muses are not surrealists, but accurate depicters.  When we have no standards, we're ignorant of what we are doing.
50 The elders will model the best as they drink and sing.  The drink is to loosen up the old men.  If drink is not to be on these terms he is against it.


BOOK THREE

The flood myth and origin of civilization are good because that made society basic and equal following fathers and elders as they are the original source of rule.
58 "And every man surely like his own laws best, and the laws of others not so well.

58 Here starts legislation, soul by rational agreement.
61 Three Dorian kingdoms just with little property.  Two were corrupted.  Why?
63 They kicked butt on Assyrians and so were sure they could not fall.
64All hope the world will accord with their desires.
65 But this desire may not be in accord with virtue.  Hope for wisdom. ANd Beautiful quote, men love what they know they should hate and vice versa is the gist.
64 A very Confucian hierarchy is presented (it includes "the lot"??)68 Ten kings must have limited power only.  As in the Spartan constitution.
70 All governments combine monarchy (
Persia) and Democracy (Athens) to some degree.
72 With Persians kings every
other one in the dynastic succession is spoiled and it degenerates due to the life of the rich.  Wealth surpasses honor.  Would you want a courageous roommate who was a rogue?  Temperance and virtue must go together.
74 The Persian attack on the Hellenes made them more united and virtuous.  And when 1000 vessels stared them down.  Their collective memory of prior victory created comradely and got them another victory.
76 B
ut in good times poets introduced vulgarity. From aristocracy to "Theatrocracy" till all felt omnipotent and defied all a life and led a life of constant evil.

So despotism and freedom are due to corruption.  The legislator need to look at freedom , unity and understanding if not despotism or license destroy it turns out the two companions are building a city extension and can make  the rules.

 

BOOK FOUR

 

79 A is glad to hear the Place is far enough from the sea to not have too many merchants.It is self-sufficient and isolated from attack.Ship warfare is cowardly.

82 Colonization is easier if only one race is involved due to a sense of community and language.But they are also inflexible from force of habit.Men nearly never legislate, but accidents of all sorts do.That and chance.Art is better.Colonies allow a conscious fresh start (with Godís guidance).Tyrants establish colonies fastest.But the government must be temperant and have virtue.

86 But Sparta Etc.is not easily classified because more than anything, more than a settlement, it is a polity, not a mere aggregation of men.Chronos of legendary was perfect but men are not.

87 Success requires we think of law as the ďdistribution of mind.ĒBut if an oligarchy or democracy has a soul eager after pleasure laws are trammeled underfoot.Law is then of the stronger and evil gets in.Then you have neither polity nor laws, but faction.God is justice not men, must be the measure of all things.Heroes will also work and living parents work for values too.

91 Nemesis is the messenger of justice.For the masses must be persuaded to virtue and this should be the aim of all laws!!!!!!

92 Hesiod said,

†† ďBut before virtue the immortals Gods have placed the sweat of labor, and long and steep is the way thither, and rugged at first; but when you have reached the top, although difficult before, it is then easy.Ē

The legislator must explain laws as a doctor should explain a diagnosis and course of treatment to a patient.Ex a man should marry between 30 and 35.All laws need preambles.

BOOK FIVE is to be about amusement and education.

Of all we have, our soul is most important and most truly ours.All men have two parts.The better superior rules and should be honored.If you donít do your work you dishonor her (the soul).If you prefer beauty (the body stuff) to the soul, you dishonor her.And anyone who thinks otherwise under values their own soul.

98 To sell your foul for gold incurs the penalty of becoming a bad man.Our glory is to follow the better and improve the inferior.The old, particularly, should not do anything shameful.Donít admonish the young, be an example.T. his fellow citizens, he is best who (doesnít win the Olympics) but follows laws.Temperate wise life has more pleasure and less pain.

104 Herdsmen separate out the bad animals.When the poor try to attack the rich they should be asked to ďfound a colonyĒ

105 We will only let good folk into our city.Rich creditors should be lenient and share.Freedom from avarice and justice is our grounding.We shall have 5040 citizens.

107 Keep the religion and tradition but give area its own gods or heroes to live up to.The greatest good is that citizens of the area should know each other (social capital).

He wants family and property held in common, but not possible.Perhaps you get to only keep one child.But we must keep the population at 5040 homes.No rich.Soul and body are top interests.So education and gymnasium are important.But wealth and poverty will be limited.The land is divided into 12 sectors.One plot near center and one far away to each person.But if not possible, approximate.And no one should lose sight of numerical order.Math shows us this is a big balanced equation.

 

BOOK SIX

 

Six ex-military will vote n a temple of God.3 elections will get the number down to 37.

120 The counsel will have 30 * 12 = 360 members.Punishments for not voting vary by class.1/12 will rule for a month each.This selection deals with appointments of officials.Overseers will have 2 year terms and eat together. This is according to the universal rule that he who is not a good servant will not be a good master.A man should take more pride in serving well.

128 Directions of music and gymnastics and judges ofevery type of arts.Elections run through all.Both sexes to be educated.

130 A 2nd for those who have wronged the public.There is no court for those who feel wronged by the public.In suits of damage to the public everyone can participate by lots in front of magistrates.

133 These laws will be amended over time.Every city has a divine principle that guides it.The 5040 is a calendar of religious festivals.12 times a year.So that people will know each other.Youth can also choose marriage partners here.†† They will be naked, but modest!At 25 people can marry.After the first hear a speech about why they should walk.The rich should not marry the rich and smart not the smart.Equality should be the goal, not faction.So consider the State and not just your own desires.All should marry and have children or face fines and disrespect.Donít marry or make babies when drunk or your children will not be trustworthy.

139 Be very just with your slaves (but not overly familiar) and have them come from separate places.Thus you avoid slave revolts.

140 Defensive walls breed a false sense of security and effeminacy.

141 He who thinks he can just leave the peopleís private lives alone and have a successful state is mistaken.So bridegrooms should still eat at common tables.The world is very old and new plants have come into existence and some still do human sacrifice and some are vegetarian.The three disorders are eating, drinking and lust.Females should oversee marriages.If you wonít reform the women write you up and you lose privileges of citizenship.Women marry from 16 to 20 and after children are grown can be in the military.

BOOK SEVEN

 

146 Peopleís distinctions make them break laws here and there.Then bit by bit they become ungovernable.Pregnant women, infants and toddlers should always keep moving.Infants should always be comfortable without too much pleasure or pain.But these are customs, not laws.But these must be mentioned as they bond the community.

151 Children are now punished as slaves, not to disgrace, but not to be self-willed (ages 3-6).Past this boys and girls are to learn horsemanship and javelin throwing and bows and slings ambidexterity.The young should also have the same sport for continuity in culture and manners mustnít change for we need traditions.

156 Like the Egyptians, control dance by making all a part of religious festivals.All music imitating good and evil characters in men.Let us affirm that strains of music are our laws.

158 All music and poetry is to be censored (but have pleasure).

Only honor the dead

161                People are puppets, he says and gets accused of having a low opinion of mankind. He denies it.

162                School is to be compulsory.And students belong to the state, not their parents.Boys and girls do the same education.Such a life is not likethe life of a fatted cattle.There is a lot of work to be done in such a state.

No one who is asleep is good for anything, anymore than if he were dead.The boy is the least manageable beast.Teachers and all freemen have the power to punish the boys.

 

They will learn till they hit a ceiling of ability and then are to be let alone.

 

Those who can must learn poems by heart.Ultimately, it would be good if they could recite this very book by heart.

 

Noble dances teach control and savage ones can be used as preparation for war.But Bacchic dances have no place at all.We will have comedies, but acted by the lowly as we must take ourselves seriously.

 

173 Foreign poets who want to entertain must first perform for magistrates.They should not be allowed to harangue our people and slander our institutions in our state.

 

Logical categorization is a good pastime for the old.

BOOK 8

 

Page 180 There are twelve feasts for the twelve cities.Every month will be tournaments that are practice for battles.Just like boxers practice.The reason that this doesnít happen more is that wealth corrupts folks so they only think of their private affairs.

The other reason is that bad governments are not collective.They rule by fear.

Contests of music and other arts as well.But if there is just festivals and no privations folks will succumb to lusts. People must be encouraged to think of the desire of the body as a secondary matter. Wealth corrupts to.Moderation is a goal.Such lusts must be denounced as animalistic. Chastity is macho.Those who cannot battle their own impulses will be called weak.

 

Also succumbing will be considered offensive to the gods.

They will fight temptation to win in competition.Victory of pleasure will create happily or fail and be unhappy.

 

192 Piety and the love of honor are the noblest of aspirations

 

193 Zeus is the god of boundaries and this between countries and neighbors.Separation is good because any man can easily do harm to another, few can do good.

Take care of the water, it is easily polluted.

Each person only have one job.

You cannot export anything needed in the country.Also let there be no retail trade for moneymaking.One third of what you make you can sell.

Only foreigners will deal in retail and all can sell to strangers.

Foreigners (metics) are allowed, but they must practice an art and can only stay twenty years.He will pay no tax, beyond his retail tax.And at the end of 20 years if he has been good he can try to persuade the council that he is worthy of staying.

 

BOOK NINE

 

201 He will give laws, first about robbing the temples.People who do such things will be told how to resist the urge in the future.But if he doesnít repent, Shall have the evil deed engraven on his face and hands and shall be beaten and be cast naked beyond the borders.This will probably improve him, for no law should make a person worse.

Most crimes warrant death, because after an excellent education if you donít know better, you will never.

Anyone who insights sedition or tries to change the government illegally shall be considered the greatest enemy.Send them away with all their possessions to the city and country of their ancestors.

For a thief, the punishment will be the same no matter how much they steal.This is giving the citizens education and not laws.Having all theft being classified as the same teaches this.

The characters of the state should be like the laws of loving and wise parents, not like tyrants.

208 All bad men are involuntarily bad.So he is bad against his will.There is voluntary and involuntary crime.And when a crime is involuntary and restitution is paid there should be no animosity.True punishment should try to reform.Those who are incurable should be killed as that would benefit the remainder of mankind.

Children and old men are easily overrun with passion.

Injustice is when passions tyrannize over the soul.

Actions done in day can be inferred to be done via passion, those at night deceit.

If you kill anotherís slave you should pay double the value.If he kills his own slave or another man unintentionally he needs to undergo purifications.Same if you kill a stranger.If a stranger kills a stranger they must be exiled for a year and do purifications.

If a man kills his wife he gets three years of exile.If a slave kills a citizen the relative can do what ever they like to him (provided they donít spare his life!)

All killing in self-defense is forgiven.

Lust is the greatest cause of crime.People who want everything due to bad education or disposition.Ambition is the second source.

After someone has been killed for a crime, magistrates will throw rocks at his head so that the city will be delivered from pollution. Suiciders will be buried alone.

221 ďMankind must have laws, and conform to them, or their life would be as bad as that of the most savage beast.Ē

Strangers that attack citizens will get the same number of blows back.

Smiting laws vary by the age of the smiter and the smitee and their citizenship.

227 Laws are partly framed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another.

The legislator legislates in the hopes that there may be no need of his laws someday.

Death is not as bad as what happens in the afterlife, but the afterlife doesnít work for prevention.

If a slave helps someone being assaulted let him go free.

 

BOOK TEN

 

All summed, no one shall carry away any of his neighbors goods without consent.

Atheists are to be condemned, but will demand proof of the gods existence before they can be rightfully punished.

The proofs by one of the Athenian strangerís interlocutors are that the whole universe works and that both Athenians and barbarians believe in gods.

Athenian Stranger says I like it but you donít get their complaint. Philosophers teach that we are only stone.It is hard to keep your rage down when you hear such arguments.

232 Tell the youth who hold such views that they will change when they get older.Everyone does.

They will say that nature is crude and that the finer things are made by men.They will say the gods do not exist by nature, but by art. They will say that gods are conventional and that the highest right is might.So they become bad and impious.

Thus are the laws undermined.

These people do not know about the nature of the soul.The soul is older than the body.†† And so things kindred to soul are older as well.And so art is before that which has physical form.Things in motion had to have a push.Inanimate objects donít push.The unmoved mover must be the beginning.Therefore, demiurge.

Soul is the moving power of all.

240 The soul creates good and bad, just and unjust. The soul uses the material to her happiness or her folly.†† The best soul takes care of the world and guides it to good.

Regular and predictable is the sun.And the sun has a soul which propels sunbeams regularly.And our souls have excellences.All souls are god.

The disbeliever must break this argument or submit to being good and seeing their affinity to the gods.

Those who do not see this are not happy but look it and are celebrated as such by poets and prose writers.

Courage is virtuous and therefore honorable.†† Carelessness, idleness and luxury are vices.Surely God didnít make a universe that he hates.

And god would not neglect small things, like those who say he doesnít care about this earth say.Good managers take care of details.And it takes more skill to take care of details.Donít say he ainít got no skills.

All physicians and skilled artists do what they do for the sake of the whole, not for the part.The plan of the world is the best strategy to defeat evil.Justice sees the bad have their rewards coming.And they are not appeased by the gifts of the wicked.They would not betray justice for a pittance.

252 Those that deny the gods and do bad are worse than they who do not believe and are good.Much less injury is done by one than the others.The first sort needs severe punishment, the second isolation for five years other than night time philosophizing.

All religious rites should be public.

 

BOOK ELEVEN

The simple rule between man and man isdonít touch what is not yours.254 ďAnd do to others as I would that they should do to me.Ē

If men heap up money they are bad.If a slave tells on them they shall be freed.

If a slave is freed he should go three times a month to thank the freer and never have more money than the one who liberated him.

Perjury is hateful.You should reverence those in authority.If you sell something you should only have one price for it.If you sell adulterated goods you should be punished.

Retail trade in a city is not by nature intended to do any harm.

Let tavern keepers seek to satisfy our needs and equalize our possessions.

But men are greedy and try to amass with no limit.Retailers must be of good character and metics.

We must watch all men who follow pursuits that tend to make men bad and guardians will regulate the percentage of profit allowed [like Lester Frank Ward said].

Crafts persons too should only get paid what they are worth and let no one make a contract and not pay it.

The state will dispose of dead peopleís wealth.They may give it to the family.Dying men say bad things.He would make the kinsmen of the dead man marry their cousins, for example.

Those involved may protest.But it is sometimes necessary for the state to ignore the individual wants for the betterment of the state.

The guardians are the fathers of orphans.And penalties for crimes against orphans shall be doubled.

The orphan shall have a superintendent too.And if someone wants to adopt this is good.Young men need care.

If a man and wife are incompatible, and the ten women who regulate marriage agree, let them find other partners.

If slave owners have sex with a slave the baby goes to the female slave.

Parents are to have big control and be honored second only to ancestors as is ordered by nature.

We must keep people away from those who do sorcery as it scares the multitudes.

275 Let folks not speak ill of each other.This gratifies your anger which is an ungracious element in your soul.There is no one in the habit of laughing at others that does not miss virtue.

Poets should not ridicule others either.

Kick out all beggars so we may be cleared of this sort of animal.

Women can give evidence if 40 and without husband, slaves can give witness in cases of murder.

Justice, which has been the civilizer of humanity is noble.But those who work in the courts (lawyers) have a bad name.They should not act from contentiousness.They should not act from love of money.Strangers who do so must leave the country, locals be disbarred.

 

BOOK TWELVE

 

If a man steals much or little from the public, he shall have the same punishment.

If a slave or stranger steals, that may be curable due to bad education.But if they are a citizen, it is incurable and they shall die.

 

Men should be in the habit of commanding and being commanded.For anarchy should have no place in the life of man or of the beasts who are subject to them.

If anyone runs from battle out of cowardice, the soldiers shall judgehim.Leaders should give prizes for valor.

Three men should be elected as examiners by vote.Then proclaim to the entire world their excellence.They shall choose magistrates in a number divisible by 12.

The examiners will have great honors as befits their excellence.

286 The intercourse of cities is apt to create a confusion of manners.The strangers will bring disorder.But we must travel a bit.We should be thought well of by the rest of the world.

You can, therefore, only travel after youíre forty.And you can only go on a mission.Some will just be spectators of the world.If you have no intercourse with bad men and states you cannot be truly good.

Official foreign examiners must be fifty and report to the assembly which does laws, upon their return, what they saw good and bad. Amongst them the superintendent of education. And let him take young men (thirty to forty).When they return they can explain what good they saw.But if they appear, upon return, to be corrupted, let them have no discourse with anyone.

There are various types of strangers.Those who are only passing through will have access to the harbor.Tourists should be attended to by guides.Those on public business receive honors.Then there are observers from other states who shall be at least 50 years of age.

290 The searching of a house requires a warrant. If you knowingly receive stolen goods you get the punishment of the thief.

If you take a bribe you die.

Moderate folks only make moderate offers to the gods.

Bottom courts are done by elected judges who study the writings of the legislators.

If you do not accept the verdict you are to be killed as a subverter of the whole state.Thus you grow old under the protection of the law.

These are the things in a state which give not only health and salvation to the body, but law, or rather preservation of the law, in the soul.

The ultimate guardians will be a city council made of guardians who have received prizes for virtue and those that have traveled to foreign lands.

298 And there needs to be an institution that explains the reason for the state and the laws to the people.Otherwise all her actions will proceed by chance.Without reason no one can be a wise and understanding soul.The legislator who is excellent has courage, temperance, wisdom and justice.

Younger guardians will watch all and report to the elders who are the mind of the city.††

And the guardian needs more training towards a special end Ė know and knowing, order all things with a view to it.

They must see that courage, temperance, wisdom and justice are all one virtue.And they must know their power.Many men can be lazy in reasoning, just follow the law and be excused.Not the guardian.

Men believe in the gods because it is the first moving thing and they also do so from the movement of the stars.Astronomers do not see intelligence in the stars, they see them as not having souls.Such studies give rise to atheism and poets are abusive to philosophers.

No man can worship the gods who does not know the soul is the oldest thing and that it rules over bodies.

Finally, the nocturnal assembly of the magistrates, which has also shared in the whole scheme of education shall be a guard set according to law for the salvation of the State.

We must find those suited to study and let them go at their own pace as we cannot know what is valuable until it has taken a place in our soul.Then we will hand over the city to the divine legislature.Thus will virtue on earth be instated.

Meg. We must give up this vision or detain the stranger.

Cle. Very well, then join me in detaining him.

Meg. I will.