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Section 8

8. Thus we come to our enquiry as to the degree of excellence found in things of this Sphere, and how far they belong to an ordered system or in what degree they are, at least, not evil.

Now in every living being the upper parts- head, face- are the most beautiful, the mid and lower members inferior. In the Universe the middle and lower members are human beings; above them, the Heavens and the Gods that dwell there; these Gods with the entire circling expanse of the heavens constitute the greater part of the Kosmos: the earth is but a central point, and may be considered as simply one among the stars. Yet human wrong-doing is made a matter of wonder; we are evidently asked to take humanity as the choice member of the Universe, nothing wiser existent!

But humanity, in reality, is poised midway between gods and beasts, and inclines now to the one order, now to the other; some men grow like to the divine, others to the brute, the greater number stand neutral. But those that are corrupted to the point of approximating to irrational animals and wild beasts pull the mid-folk about and inflict wrong upon them; the victims are no doubt better than the wrongdoers, but are at the mercy of their inferiors in the field in which they themselves are inferior, where, that is, they cannot be classed among the good since they have not trained themselves in self-defence.

A gang of lads, morally neglected, and in that respect inferior to the intermediate class, but in good physical training, attack and throw another set, trained neither physically nor morally, and make off with their food and their dainty clothes. What more is called for than a laugh?

And surely even the lawgiver would be right in allowing the second group to suffer this treatment, the penalty of their sloth and self-indulgence: the gymnasium lies there before them, and they, in laziness and luxury and listlessness, have allowed themselves to fall like fat-loaded sheep, a prey to the wolves.

But the evil-doers also have their punishment: first they pay in that very wolfishness, in the disaster to their human quality: and next there is laid up for them the due of their Kind: living ill here, they will not get off by death; on every precedent through all the line there waits its sequent, reasonable and natural- worse to the bad, better to the good.

This at once brings us outside the gymnasium with its fun for boys; they must grow up, both kinds, amid their childishness and both one day stand girt and armed. Then there is a finer spectacle than is ever seen by those that train in the ring. But at this stage some have not armed themselves- and the duly armed win the day.

Not even a God would have the right to deal a blow for the unwarlike: the law decrees that to come safe out of battle is for fighting men, not for those that pray. The harvest comes home not for praying but for tilling; healthy days are not for those that neglect their health: we have no right to complain of the ignoble getting the richer harvest if they are the only workers in the fields, or the best.

Again: it is childish, while we carry on all the affairs of our life to our own taste and not as the Gods would have us, to expect them to keep all well for us in spite of a life that is lived without regard to the conditions which the Gods have prescribed for our well-being. Yet death would be better for us than to go on living lives condemned by the laws of the Universe. If things took the contrary course, if all the modes of folly and wickedness brought no trouble in life- then indeed we might complain of the indifference of a Providence leaving the victory to evil.

Bad men rule by the feebleness of the ruled: and this is just; the triumph of weaklings would not be just.

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