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all, when in heavy armor, he has to fight against heavy
And there is a very great difference between one who has learnt and one who has not, and between one who has been trained in gymnastic exercises and one who has not been. For as he who is perfectly skilled in the Pancratium or boxing or wrestling, is not unable to fight from his left side, and does not limp and draggle in confusion when his opponent makes him change his position, so in heavy-armed fighting, and in all other things, if I am not mistaken, the like holds — he who has these double powers of attack and defense ought not in any case to leave them either unused or untrained; and if a person had the nature of Geryon or Briareus he ought to be able with his hundred hands to throw a hundred darts. Now, the rulers, male and female, should see to all these things; the women superintending the nursing and amusements of the children, and the men superintending their education, that all of them, boys and girls alike, may be sound in hand and foot, and may not, if they can help, spoil the gifts of nature by bad habits.
Education has two branches,- one of gymnastic, which is concerned with the body, and the other of music, which is designed for the improvement of the soul. And gymnastics has also two parts - dancing and wrestling; and one sort of dancing imitates musical recitation, and aims at preserving dignity and freedom; the other aims at producing health, agility, and beauty of the limbs and parts of the body, giving the proper flexion and extension to each of them, diffusing and accompanying the harmonious motion of the dance everywhere. As regards wrestling, the tricks which Antæus and Cercyon devised in their systems out of a vain spirit of competition, or the tricks of boxing which Epeius or Amycus invented, are useless for war, and do not deserve to have much said about them; but
the art of wrestling erect and keeping free the neck and hands and sides, working with energy and constancy, with a composed strength, and for the sake of health — these are always useful, and are not to be neglected, but to be enjoined alike on masters and scholars, when we reach that part of legislation; and we will desire the one to give their instructions freely, and the others to receive them thankfully. Nor, again, must we omit suitable imitations of war in our dances; in Crete there are the armed sports of the Curetes, and in Lacedæmon of the Dioscori. And our virgin lady, delighting in the sports of the dance, thought it not fit to dance with empty hands; she must be clothed in a complete suit of armor, and in this attire go through the dance; and youths and maidens should in every respect imitate her example, honoring the Goddess both with a view to the actual necessities of war, and to festive amusements; it will be right also for the boys until such time as they go out to war to make processions and supplications to the Gods in goodly array, armed and on horseback, in dances and marches, fast or slow, offering up prayers to the Gods and to the sons of Gods; and also engaging in contests and preludes of contests, if at all, with these objects. For this sort of exercises, and no others, are useful both in peace and war, and are beneficial both to states and to private houses. But other labors and sports and excessive training of the body are unworthy of freemen, O Megillus and Cleinias.
I have now completely described the kind of gymnastic which I said at first ought to be described; if you know of any better, will you communicate your thoughts?
CLE. It is not easy, Stranger, to put these principles of gymnastic aside and to enunciate better ones.
Ath. Next in order follow the gifts of the Muses and of Apollo: before, we fancied that we had said all, and that
gymnastics alone remained to be discussed; but now we see clearly what points have been omitted, and should be first proclaimed; of these, then, let us proceed to speak.
Cle. By all means.
ATH. Hear me once more, although you have heard me say the same before that caution must be always exercised, both by the speaker and by the hearer, about anything that is singular and unusual. For my tale is one which many a man would be afraid to tell, and yet I have a confidence which makes me go on.
Cle. What have you to say, Stranger ?
Ath. I say that in states generally no one has observed that the plays of childhood have a great deal to do with the permanence or want of permanence in legislation. For when plays are ordered with a view to children having the same plays and amusing themselves after the same manner, and finding delight in the same playthings, the more solemn institutions of the state are allowed to remain undisturbed. Whereas if sports are disturbed and innovations are made in them, and they constantly change, and the young never speak of their having the same likings, or the same established notions of good and bad taste, either in the bearing of their bodies or in their dress, but he who devises something new and out of the way in figures and colors and the like is held in special honor, we may truly say that no greater evil can happen in a state; for he who changes the sports is secretly changing the manners of the young, and making the old to be dishonored among them and the new to be honored. And I affirm that there is nothing which is a greater injury to all states than saying or thinking thus. Will you hear me tell how great I deem it to be?
CLE. You mean the evil of blaming antiquity in states? Ath. Exactly.
Cle. If you are speaking of that, you will find in us hearers who are disposed to receive what you say not unfavorably but most favorably.
Ath. I should expect so.
Ath. Well, then, let us give all the greater heed to one another's words. The argument says that to change from anything except the bad is the most dangerous of all things; this is true in the case of the seasons and of the winds, in the management of our bodies and the habits of our minds — true of all things except, as I said before, of the bad. He who looks at the constitution of individuals accustomed to eat any sort of meat or drink any drink or do any work which they could get, may see that they are at first disordered but afterwards, as time goes on, their bodies grow adapted to them, and they learn to know and like variety, and have good health and enjoyment of life; and if ever afterwards they are confined again to a superior diet, at first they are troubled with disorders, and with difficulty become habituated to their new food. A similar principle we may imagine to hold good about the minds of men and the nature of their souls. For when they have been brought up in certain laws, which by some Divine Providence have remained unchanged during long ages, so that no one has any memory or tradition of their ever having been otherwise than they are, then every one is afraid and ashamed to change that which is established. The legislator must somehow find a way of implanting this reverence for antiquity, and I would propose the following way:- People are apt to fancy, as I was saying before, that when the plays of children are altered they are merely plays, not seeing that the most serious and detrimental consequences arise out of the change; and they readily comply with the child's wishes instead of deterring him, not considering
that these children who make innovations in their games, when they grow up to be men will be different from the last generation of children, and, being different, will desire a different sort of life, and under the influence of this desire will want other institutions and laws; and no one ever apprehends that there will follow what I just now called the greatest of evils to states. Changes in bodily fashions are no such serious evils, but frequent changes in the praise and censure of manners are the greatest of evils, and require the utmost prevision.
Cle. To be sure.
Ath. And now do we still hold to our former assertion, that rhythms and music in general are imitations of good and evil characters in men ? What say you?
CLE. That is the only doctrine which I can admit.
Ath. Must we not, then, try in every possible way to prevent our youth desiring imitations and novelties either in dance or song ? Nor must any one be allowed to offer them varieties of pleasures.
Cle. Most true.
ATH. Can any better mode of effecting this object be imagined by any of us than that of the Egyptians ?
Cle. What is their method ?
Ath. They consecrate every sort of dance or melody, first ordaining festivals, - calculating for the year what they ought to be, and at what time, and in honor of what Gods, sons of Gods, and heroes they ought to be celebrated; and, in the next place, what hymns ought to be sung at the several sacrifices, and with what dances the particular festival is to be honored. This is to be arranged at first by certain persons, and, when arranged, the whole assembly of the citizens are to offer sacrifices and libations to the Fates and all the other Gods, and to consecrate the several odes to Gods and heroes; and if any one offers