republic (books 1 - 5)
That, he replied, is excellent.
Yes, I said; and when a man dies gloriously in war shall
we not say, in the first place, that he is of the golden race?
To be sure.
Nay, have we not the authority of Hesiod for affirming that
when they are dead
"They are holy angels upon the earth, authors of good, averters
of evil, the guardians of speech-gifted men"?
Yes; and we accept his authority.
We must learn of the god how we are to order the sepulture
of divine and heroic personages, and what is to be their special
distinction; and we must do as he bids?
By all means.
And in ages to come we will reverence them and kneel before
their sepulchres as at the graves of heroes. And not only they
but any who are deemed pre-eminently good, whether they die
from age or in any other way, shall be admitted to the same
That is very right, he said.
Next, how shall our soldiers treat their enemies? What
In what respect do you mean?
First of all, in regard to slavery? Do you think it right that
Hellenes should enslave Hellenic States, or allow others to en-
slave them, if they can help? Should not their custom be to
spare them, considering the danger which there is that the
whole race may one day fall under the yoke of the barbarians?
To spare them is infinitely better.
Then no Hellene should be owned by them as a slave; that
is a rule which they will observe and advise the other Hellenes
Certainly, he said; they will in this way be united against
the barbarians and will keep their hands off one another.
Next as to the slain; ought the conquerors, I said, to take
anything but their armor? Does not the practice of despoil-
ing an enemy afford an excuse for not facing the battle?
Cowards skulk about the dead, pretending that they are ful-
filling a duty, and many an army before now has been lost
from this love of plunder.
And is there not illiberality and avarice in robbing a corpse,
and also a degree of meanness and womanishness in making an
enemy of the dead body when the real enemy has flown away
and left only his fighting gear behind him--is not this rather