Jowett: Minos 314b-318e — Segunda tentatica de definição de lei. Objeções e respostas.

Socrates : Then what thing especially of this sort shall we surmise law to be ?

Companion : Our resolutions and decrees, I imagine : for how else can one describe law ? [314c] So that apparently the whole thing, law, as you put it in your question, is a city’s resolution.

Socrates : State opinion, it seems, is what you call law.

Companion : I do.

Socrates : And perhaps you are right : but I fancy we shall get a better knowledge in this way. You call some men wise ?

Companion : I do.

Socrates : And the wise are wise by wisdom ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And again, the just are just by justice ?

Companion : Certainly.

Socrates : And so the law-abiding are law-abiding by law ?

[314d] Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And the lawless are lawless by lawlessness ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And the law-abiding are just ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And the lawless are unjust ?

Companion : Unjust.

Socrates : And justice and law are most noble ?

Companion : That is so.

Socrates : And injustice and lawlessness most base ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And the former preserve cities and everything else, while the latter destroy and overturn them ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Hence we must regard law as something noble, and seek after it as a good.

Companion : Undeniably.

Socrates : And we said that law is a city’s resolution ?

[314e] Companion : So we did.

Socrates : Well now, are not some resolutions good, and others evil ?

Companion : Yes, to be sure.

Socrates : And, you know, law was not evil.

Companion : No, indeed.

Socrates : So it is not right to reply, in that simple fashion, that law is a city’s resolution.

Companion : I agree that it is not.

Socrates : An evil resolution, you see, cannot properly be a law.

Companion : No, to be sure.

Socrates : But still, I am quite clear myself that law is some sort of opinion ; and since it is not evil opinion, is it not manifest by this time that it is good opinion, granting that law is opinion ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : But what is good opinion ? Is it not true opinion ?

Companion : Yes.

[315a] Socrates : And true opinion is discovery of reality ?

Companion : Yes, it is.

Socrates : So law tends to be discovery of reality.

Companion : Then how is it, Socrates, if law is discovery of reality, that we do not use always the same laws on the same matters, if we have thus got realities discovered ?

Socrates : Law tends none the less to be discovery of reality : but men, who do not use [315b] always the same laws, as we observe, are not always able to discover what the law is intent on — reality. For come now, let us see if from this point onward we can get it clear whether we use always the same laws or different ones at different times, and whether we all use the same, or some of us use some, and others others.

Companion : Why, that, Socrates, is no difficult matter to determine — that the same men do not use always the same laws, and also that different men use different ones. With us, for instance, human sacrifice is not legal, but unholy, [315c] whereas the Carthaginians perform it as a thing they account holy and legal, and that too when some of them sacrifice even their own sons to Cronos, as I daresay you yourself have heard. And not merely is it foreign peoples who use different laws from ours, but our neighbors in Lycaea and the descendants of Athamas — you know their sacrifices, Greeks though they be. And as to ourselves too, you know, of course, from what you have heard yourself, the kind of laws we formerly used in regard to our dead, when we slaughtered sacred victims before [315d] the funeral procession, and engaged urn-women to collect the bones from the ashes. Then again, a yet earlier generation used to bury the dead where they were, in the house : but we do none of these things. One might give thousands of other instances ; for there is ample means of proving that neither we copy ourselves nor mankind each other always in laws and customs.

Socrates : And it is no wonder, my excellent friend, if what you say is correct, and I have overlooked it. But if you continue to express your views after your own fashion in lengthy speeches, [315e] and I speak likewise, we shall never come to any agreement, in my opinion : but if we study the matter jointly, we may perhaps concur. Well now, if you like, hold a joint inquiry with me by asking me questions ; or if you prefer, by answering them.

Companion : Why, I am willing, Socrates, to answer anything you like.

Socrates : Come then, do you consider just things to be unjust and unjust things just, or just things to be just and unjust things unjust ?

Companion : I consider just things to be just, and unjust things unjust.

[316a] Socrates : And are they so considered among all men elsewhere as they are here ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And among the Persians also ?

Companion : Among the Persians also.

Socrates : Always, I presume ?

Companion : Always.

Socrates : Are things that weigh more considered heavier here, and things that weigh less lighter, or the contrary ?

Companion : No, those that weigh more are considered heavier, and those that weigh less lighter.

Socrates : And is it so in Carthage also, and in Lycaea ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Noble things, it would seem, are everywhere considered noble, [316b] and base things base ; not base things noble or noble things base.

Companion : That is so.

Socrates : And thus, as a universal rule, realities, and not unrealities, are accepted as real, both among us and among all other men.

Companion : I agree.

Socrates : Then whoever fails to attain reality, fails to attain accepted law.

Companion : In your present way of putting it, Socrates, the same things appear to be accepted as lawful both by us and by the rest of the world, always : [316c] but when I reflect that we are continually changing our laws in all sorts of ways, I cannot bring myself to assent.

Socrates : Perhaps it is because you do not reflect that when we change our pieces at draughts they are the same pieces. But look at it, as I do, in this way. Have you in your time come across a treatise on healing the sick ?

Companion : I have.

Socrates : Then do you know to what art such a treatise belongs ?

Companion : I do : medicine.

Socrates : And you give the name of doctors to those who have knowledge of these matters ?

Companion : Yes.

[316d] Socrates : Then do those who have knowledge accept the same views on the same things, or do they accept different views ?

Companion : The same, in my opinion.

Socrates : Do Greeks only accept the same views as Greeks on what they know, or do foreigners also agree on these matters, both among themselves and with Greeks ?

Companion : It is quite inevitable, I should say, that those who know should agree in accepting the same views, whether Greeks or foreigners.

Socrates : Well answered. And do they so always ?

Companion : Yes, it is so always.

Socrates : And do doctors on their part, in their treatises on health, [316e] write what they accept as real ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Then these treatises of the doctors are medical, and medical laws.

Companion : Medical, to be sure.

Socrates : And are agricultural treatises likewise agricultural laws ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And whose are the treatises and accepted rules about garden-work ?

Companion : Gardeners’.

Socrates : So these are our gardening laws.

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Of people who know how to control gardens ?

Companion : Certainly.

Socrates : And it is the gardeners who know.

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And whose are the treatises and accepted rules about the confection of tasty dishes ?

Companion : Cooks’.

Socrates : Then there are laws of cookery ?

Companion : Of cookery.

Socrates : Of people who know, it would seem, how to control the confection of tasty dishes ?

[317a] Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And it is the cooks, they say, who know ?

Companion : Yes, it is they who know.

Socrates : Very well ; and now, whose are the treatises and accepted rules about the government of a state ? Of the people who know how to control states, are they not ?

Companion : I agree.

Socrates : And is it anyone else than statesmen and royal persons who know ?

Companion : It is they, to be sure.

Socrates : Then what people call “laws” are treatises of state, — [317b] writings of kings and good men.

Companion : That is true.

Socrates : And must it not be that those who know will not write differently at different times on the same matters ?

Companion : They will not.

Socrates : Nor will they ever change one set of accepted rules for another in respect of the same matters.

Companion : No, indeed.

Socrates : So if we see some persons anywhere doing this, shall we say that those who do so have knowledge, or have none ?

Companion : That they have no knowledge.

Socrates : And again, whatever is right, we shall say is lawful for each person, whether in medicine or in cookery or in gardening ?

Companion : Yes.

[317c] Socrates : And whatever is not right we shall decline to call lawful ?

Companion : We shall decline.

Socrates : Then it becomes unlawful.

Companion : It must.

Socrates : And again, in writings about what is just and unjust, and generally about the government of a state and the proper way of governing it, that which is right is the king’s law, but not so that which is not right, though it seems to be law to those who do not know ; for it is unlawful.

Companion : Yes.

[317d] Socrates : Then we rightly admitted that law is discovery of reality.

Companion : So it appears.

Socrates : Now let us observe this further point about it. Who has knowledge of distributing seed over land ?

Companion : A farmer.

Socrates : And does he distribute the suitable seed to each sort of land ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Then the farmer is a good apportioner of it, and his laws and distributions are right in this matter ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And who is a good apportioner of notes struck for a tune, skilled in distributing suitable notes, and who is it whose laws are right here ?

[317e] Companion : The flute-player and the harp-player.

Socrates : Then he who is the best lawyer in these matters is the best flute-player.

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And who is most skilled in distributing food to human bodies ? Is it not he who assigns suitable food ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Then his distributions and laws are best, and whoever is the best lawyer in this matter is also the best apportioner.

Companion : Certainly.

Socrates : Who is he ?

Companion : A trainer.

[318a] Socrates : He is the best man to pasture the human herd of the body ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And who is the best man to pasture a flock of sheep ? What is his name ?

Companion : A shepherd.

Socrates : Then the shepherd’s laws are best for sheep.

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And the herdsman’s for oxen.

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : And whose laws are best for the souls of men ? The king’s, are they not ? Say if you agree.

Companion : I do.

[318b] Socrates : Then you are quite right. Now can you tell me who, in former times, has proved himself a good lawgiver in regard to the laws of flute-playing ? Perhaps you cannot think of him : would you like me to remind you ?

Companion : Do by all means.

Socrates : Then is it Marsyas, by tradition, and his beloved Olympus, the Phrygian ?

Companion : That is true.

Socrates : And their flute-tunes also are most divine, and alone stir and make manifest those who are in need of the gods ; and to this day they only remain, as being divine.

[318c] Companion : That is so.

Socrates : And who by tradition has shown himself a good lawgiver among the ancient kings, so that to this day his ordinances remain, as being divine ?

Companion : I cannot think.

Socrates : Do you not know which of the Greeks use the most ancient laws ?

Companion : Do you mean the Spartans, and Lycurgus the lawgiver ?

Socrates : Why, that is a matter, I daresay, of less than three hundred years ago, or but a little more. But whence is it that [318d] the best of those ordinances come ? Do you know ?

Companion : From Crete, so they say.

Socrates : Then the people there use the most ancient laws in Greece ?

Companion : Yes.

Socrates : Then do you know who were their good kings ? Minos and Rhadamanthus, the sons of Zeus and Europa ; those laws were theirs.

Companion : Rhadamanthus, they do say, Socrates, was a just man ; but Minos was a savage sort of person, harsh and unjust.

Socrates : Your tale, my excellent friend, is a fiction of Attic tragedy.

[318e] Companion : What ! Is not this the tradition about Minos ?

Socrates : Not in Homer and Hesiod ; and yet they are more to be believed than all the tragedians together, from whom you heard your tale.

Companion : Well, and what, pray, is their tale about Minos ?