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if only a king could be endued with the wisdom of a sage.
He still adopts the conversational form of composition, and Socrates agrees to show how justice is a blessing, and injustice a curse to the possessor. He begins, however, by describing how a city springs from the natural needs of men, provision being first made for their daily wants, then for the fair humanities of life, and next for increase of territory by He lays down rules for the education and bodily training of the young, and for the choice of guardians for the state. All, he says, are brethren from the same mother earth, but the Creator mingled gold in the nature of chiefs, silver in that of soldiers, and bronze and iron in that of artisans and labourers The happiness of guardians should consist in having nothing of their own, in preserving the unity of the state, maintaining the golden mean between wealth and poverty, and in being ever on the watch against the spirit of innovation. Wisdom, courage, and temperance having been thus attained, justice will be found to consist in every one minding their own business, and not meddling with that of their neighbours. Continuing the details of his system, he provides for a public nursery, and that no mother must know her own child. Bravery in battle shall enjoy the highest honours, and war between Greek and Greek is unnatural. The distinction between a real and a false philosopher is next dwelt upon, for the purpose of denouncing the teaching of the sophists, and of dilating on the course of education which is the necessary qualification for the rulers of this ideal state. Socrates confesses, however, that even such a perfect constitution as he has sketched is fated to decay in course of time. first stage of its decline and fall will be the undue importance attached to the art of war; then the state will become divided into two hostile classes, one enormously rich, and the other miserably poor; after a while the lower orders will grow conscious of their power, and the result will be a Democracy, which he defines as giving equal rights to unequal persons, ending in anarchy. Respect for rank and age ceases, and even the animals run at you if you get in their way. A reaction succeeds, and despotism is established.
The tyrant banishes, confiscates, murders; then he employs the citizens in war, to weaken their strength, and to get rid of powerful leaders. Thus free men are made to pass under the yoke, and the tyrant himself, detested by those about him, tortured by remorse, and haunted by terror, becomes the most pitiable slave of all. Consequently, only the philosopher can realise happiness, which has its pattern laid up in heaven for him who is willing to see it, and to rule his life on earth accordingly. Such was the theory of a perfect Republic, which, in despair with the sad realities and humiliating tendencies of Athenian life, the genius of Plato originated, to be imitated in its noble aspirations, and criticised in its impracticable details, by many subsequent writers.
His last and longest Dialogue is entitled 'The Laws,' but it lacks the fire and spirit of his earlier works. The speakers are three old men, an Athenian, a Spartan, and a Cretan, who discuss their respective forms of government, and enunciate the doctrine of plying a man with wine, in order to read the secrets of his heart. Turning to the origin of society, Plato adopts the patriarchal theory of the single family developing into a tribe, and several tribes uniting to form the State. He next takes up the ancient legends pertaining to the natural principle that the strong should rule the weak, and the wise have dominion over the fool; recognising also, in the power conferred by the casting of the lot, divine interposition. Proceeding to the details of legisla tion, he would limit the number of citizens in a State to 5040, each of whom should have land enough for the maintenance of his family. Provision is made for various public functionaries, and for State education. The criminal code is tediously minute, many of the provisions corresponding with those in Leviticus. Dealing with trade, he designates the occupation of a retail shopkeeper as degrading to a citizen, and to be left entirely to resident foreigners, who must be restrained by regulations against adulteration and other tricks, and all contracts rigorously enforced. Willmaking and the succession of property are to be regulated without listening to the outcry of dying persons; begging is prohibited; no man under forty years of age should be
allowed to travel abroad; magistrates should give a yearly account of themselves; and, lastly, a supreme council should maintain uniformity of faith, and a belief in the unity of virtue.
Differing from other creations of Plato's fancy are his Myths, in which he exemplifies the idea that as being is to becoming, so truth is to faith.' Respecting the 'Creation of Man,' he argues that we can have no certain knowledge; but the world being visible, tangible, and perishable, must have been the work of some great First Cause, who put intelligence in the soul, and soul in body, and framed the universe to be the fairest work in nature. Then time was created, and the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, the earth being the first and oldest. Souls were formed in equal number to the stars, and it was decreed that the righteous should return to the habitation of his star, but the unrighteous to a lower scale of existence, until the spirit should triumph over the flesh, and reason should restore the soul again to its first and higher self. Describing the connection between soul and body, he represents the marrow which binds them together as formed of triangles, and that as they wear out in old age the spirit is released, and joyfully flies away. Diseases, he says, spring from the disturbance of our bodily elements, the conditions of health being that the limbs must be trained by exercise, and the mind educated by music and philosophy. Animals are deteriorated humanity, birds being innocent light-minded men who fancied that sight alone was needed to penetrate the truths of the celestial regions, whilst quadrupeds are more or less brutal, and fishes the most senseless and ignorant of all beings.
In another Myth an old-world story is introduced describing Athens as having existed 9000 years before the deluge, and at war with a city founded by Neptune in the island of Atlantis, near the Straits of Gibraltar, where, after a great battle, both victors and vanquished were swallowed up by an earthquake, and the island sank beneath the sea.
The Chariot of the Soul' is a fiction in which the human spirit essays to follow the gods and demi-gods, in a chariot drawn by winged steeds, to the heaven of heavens,
there to contemplate the absolute ideas of truth and beauty and justice. To only a few souls, however, is it granted to reach this celestial region; the rest sink back to earth beneath the load of forgetfulness or vice, and undergo a fresh probation of ten thousand years. During this period
the soul of a man may pass into the life of a beast, and back again into human form. But the remembrance of the heavenly vision is never effaced from the souls who have once gazed on it, and because they are ever fluttering like a bird that longs to soar heavenwards, the world calls them mad. Often, indeed, the struggle is furious with the vicious horse that would draw the chariot of the soul to unlawful deeds, but happy are they who win the victory, and end their lives in a peaceful and genuine friendship.
Another of the philosopher's conceptions is 'The other World,' a thousand leagues above our own, sparkling with gold and precious stones, where men and animals dwell in the purest ether, with keener and more perfect senses, hearing the voices of the gods, and seeing them face to face. Also, he says, there is a chasm in the earth called Tartarus, through which streams of fire and water are ever flowing, and four mighty rivers. This is the abode of the souls who have done evil, where he who was tall in life will be tall after death, and he who had flowing hair will possess it still, where slaves retain the scars of their scourges, and tyrants the prints of their perjuries and misdeeds; the punishment of some being everlasting, and others being released when their prayers to those they have wronged are heard. Those souls, however, who have lived a life of holiness and truth in this world, inhabit the Islands of the Blest, or the purer earth above, in mansions which no tongue may describe, and the joys of which time would fail to tell. Wherefore, he concludes, seeing these things are so, what ought we not to do, to attain virtue and wisdom in this life, when the prize is so glorious, and the hope so great!
The most prophetic, perhaps, of all Plato's dreams, is 'The Story of Er,' a man who, after being killed in battle, came back to life on his funeral pyre, and related what he had seen whilst his soul was separated from his body. In company with other spirits he reached a spot where judges
were seated who bade the just ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand, and commanded the unjust to descend by the left hand. The former went forth with joy, embracing and conversing with other souls, telling of their sorrows on earth, and hearing of the bliss of heaven. The latter were seized by wild beings of fiery aspect, to be scourged and tortured, and cast into hell. Er then passed to a region of light where, in the presence of the three daughters of Necessity-Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos-released souls choose their future lives. Many are influenced by their mortal experiences, and thus Ajax chose the life of a lion, and Agamemnon that of an eagle, whilst Ulysses, weary of his earthly toils, selected a quiet and obscure lot which others had spurned. Having made their choice, the spirits advanced in turn to receive the ratification of their destiny from the hands of the Fates. Thence they passed through the plain of Forgetfulness to the river of Indifference, whose water they drank, and at midnight, as they rested, in a moment they were carried up to their new birth, this way and that, like shooting stars. Er was prevented from drinking any of the water, and how or by what road he reached his body again he knew not; but at dawn he opened his eyes and found himself on the funeral pyre.
In Raphael's picture of the School of Athens, Plato is looking up towards heaven, while Aristotle's eyes are fixed upon the earth, and the text of Platonism may be said to be that this life is but the first stage of an endless existence. His conceptions of an all-wise and all-powerful God rise far above the old mythology, and, almost in the words of the Psalmist, he asks, 'Do not the heavens declare the glory of God, and does not the universal testimony of mankind teach us that a God exists?' In his love for truth he even disparages Homer, whose thrilling imitations of reality render us unmanly and effeminate; and are there not, he adds, sorrows enough in actual life without multiplying them on the stage or in fiction? He admits, however, that the souls of men are swayed by poetry, although the poet may be merely the vehicle of inspiration, without feeling himself the influence of the glorious words he utters.