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Categories Books Other. Shakespeare, Henry V, act iii. In Book vii. The three interlocutors all of them speak in the character of old men, which forms a pleasant bond of union between them. They have the feelings of old age about youth, about the state, about human things in general. Nothing in life seems to be of much importance to them; they are spectators rather Edition: current; Page: [ xiv ] than actors, and men in general appear to the Athenian speaker to be the playthings of the Gods and of circumstances. Still they have a fatherly care of the young, and are deeply impressed by sentiments of religion.
They would give confidence to the aged by an increasing use of wine, which, as they get older, is to unloose their tongues and make them sing. The prospect of the existence of the soul after death is constantly present to them; though they can hardly be said to have the cheerful hope and resignation which animates Socrates in the Phaedo or Cephalus in the Republic. Plato appears to be expressing his own feelings in remarks of this sort. For at the time of writing the first book of the Laws he was at least seventy-four years of age, if we suppose him, at p.
These are feelings which have crossed the minds of reflective persons in all ages. The plan of the Laws is more irregular and has less connexion than any other of the writings of Plato. As Aristotle says in the Politics ii. Large portions of them are rather the materials for a work than a finished composition which may rank with the other Platonic dialogues.
There is probably truth in the tradition that the Laws were not published until after the death of Plato. We can easily believe that he has left imperfections, which would have been removed if he had lived a few years longer. The arrangement Edition: current; Page: [ xv ] might have been improved; the connexion of the argument might have been made plainer, and the sentences more accurately framed.
Something also may be attributed to the feebleness of old age. Even a rough sketch of the Phaedrus or Symposium would have had a very different look. There is, however, an interest in possessing one writing of Plato which is in the process of creation.
We must endeavour to find a thread of order which will carry us through this comparative disorder. The first four books are described by Plato himself as the preface or preamble. Having arrived at the conclusion that each law should have a preamble, the lucky thought occurs to him at the end of the fourth book that the preceding discourse is the preamble of the whole.
This preamble or introduction may be abridged as follows:—. The institutions of Sparta and Crete are admitted by the Lacedaemonian and Cretan to have one aim only: they were intended by the legislator to inspire courage in war. To this the Athenian objects that the true lawgiver should frame his laws with a view to all the virtues and not to one only. Better is he who has temperance as well as courage, than he who has courage only; better is he who is faithful in civil broils, than he who is a good soldier only.
Better, too, is peace than war; the reconciliation than the defeat of an enemy.