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But a profounder analysis of experience is necessary before we can come to the real roots of Platos scheme. It must be remembered that our philosopher was a revolutionist of the most thorough-going description, that he objected not to this or that constitution of his time, but to all existing consti254tutions whatever. Now, every great revolutionary movement, if in some respects an advance and an evolution, is in other respects a retrogression and a dissolution. When the most complex forms of political association are broken up, the older or subordinate forms suddenly acquire new life and meaning. What is true of practice is true also of speculation. Having broken away from the most advanced civilisation, Plato was thrown back on the spontaneous organisation of industry, on the army, the school, the family, the savage tribe, and even the herd of cattle, for types of social union. It was by taking some hints from each of these minor aggregates that he succeeded in building up his ideal polity, which, notwithstanding its supposed simplicity and consistency, is one of the most heterogeneous ever framed. The principles on which it rests are not really carried out to their logical consequences; they interfere with and supplement one another. The restriction of political power to a single class is avowedly based on the necessity for a division of labour. One man, we are told, can only do one thing well. But Plato should have seen that the producer is not for that reason to be made a monopolist; and that, to borrow his own favourite example, shoes are properly manufactured because the shoemaker is kept in order by the competition of his rivals and by the freedom of the consumer to purchase wherever he pleases. Athenian democracy, so far from contradicting the lessons of political economy, was, in truth, their logical application to government. The people did not really govern themselves, nor do they in any modern democracy, but they listened to different proposals, just as they might choose among different articles in a shop or different tenders for building a house, accepted the most suitable, and then left it to be carried out by their trusted agents.
She stood now at the head of the marble staircase, a screen of palms behind her, receiving her guests. If she were an adventuress, as some of the critics hinted, she carried it off wonderfully well. If so she was one of the finest actresses in the world. A black silk dress perfectly plain showed off her dark flashing beauty to perfection. She wore a diamond spray and tiara; a deep red rose at her breast looked like a splash of blood. Truly, a magnificent woman!
While Plato identified the individual with the community by slurring over the possible divergence of their interests, he still further contributed to their logical confusion by resolving the ego into a multitude of conflicting faculties and impulses supposed to represent the different classes of which a State is made up. His opponents held that justice and law emanate from the ruling power in the body politic; and they were brought to admit that supreme power is properly vested in the wisest and best citizens. Transferring these principles to the inner forum, he maintained that a psychological aristocracy could only be established by giving reason a similar control over the animal passions.141 At first sight, this seemed to imply no more than a return to the standpoint of Socrates, or of Plato himself in the Protagoras. The man who indulges his desires within the limits prescribed by a regard for their safe satisfaction through his whole life, may be called temperate and reasonable, but he is not necessarily just. If, how233ever, we identify the paramount authority within with the paramount authority without, we shall have to admit that there is a faculty of justice in the individual soul corresponding to the objective justice of political law; and since the supreme virtue is agreed on all hands to be reason, we must go a step further and admit that justice is reason, or that it is reasonable to be just; and that by consequence the height of injustice is the height of folly. Moreover, this fallacious substitution of justice for temperance was facilitated by the circumstance that although the former virtue is not involved in the latter, the latter is to a very great extent involved in the former. Self-control by no means carries with it a respect for the rights of others; but where such respect exists it necessitates a considerable amount of self-control.
The poor fellow had hidden himself, being afraid that we were Germans; but when he heard the "Get you gone, you brute!" he ventured to show himself.Yet another step remained to take. Punishment must be transferred from a mans innocent children to the man himself in a future life. But the Olympian theology was, originally at least, powerless to effect this revolution. Its gods, being personifications of celestial phenomena, had nothing to do with the dark underworld whither men descended after death. There existed, however, side by side with the brilliant religion of courts and camps which Greek poetry has made so familiar to us, another religion more popular with simple country-folk,53 to whom war meant ruin, courts of justice a means invented by kings for exacting bribes, sea-voyages a senseless imprudence, chariot-racing a sinful waste of money, and beautiful women drones in the human hive, demons of extravagance invented by Zeus for the purpose of venting his spite against mankind. What interest could these poor people take in the resplendent guardians of their hereditary oppressors, in Hr and Athn, Apollo and Poseid?n, Artemis and Aphrodit? But they had other gods peculiar to themselves, whose worship was wrapped in mystery, partly that its objects need not be lured away by the attraction of richer offerings elsewhere, partly because the activity of these Chthonian deities, as they were called, was naturally associated with darkness and secresy. Presiding over birth and death, over seed-time and harvest and vintage, they personified the frost-bound sleep of vegetation in winter and its return from a dark underworld in spring. Out of their worship grew stories which told how Persephon, the fair daughter of Dmtr, or Mother Earth, was carried away by Pluto to reign with him over the shades below, but after long searching was restored to her mother for eight months in every year; and how Dionysus, the wine-god, was twice born, first from67 the earth burned up and fainting under the intolerable fire of a summer sky, respectively personified as Semel and her lover Zeus, then from the protecting mist wrapped round him by his divine father, of whom it formed a part. Dionysus, too, was subject to alternations of depression and triumph, from the recital of which Attic drama was developed, and gained a footing in the infernal regions, whither we accompany him in the Frogs of Aristophanes. Another country god was Herms, who seems to have been associated with planting and possession as well as with the demarcation and exchange of property, and who was also a conductor of souls to Hades. Finally, there were the Erinyes, children of night and dwellers in subterranean darkness; they could breed pestilence and discord, but could also avert them; they could blast the produce of the soil or increase its luxuriance and fertility; when blood was spilt on the ground, they made it blossom up again in a harvest of retributive hatred; they pursued the guilty during life, and did not relax their grasp after death; all law, whether physical or moral, was under their protection; the same Erinyes who, in the Odyssey, avenge on Oedipus the suicide of his mother, in the Iliad will not allow the miraculous speaking of a horse to continue; and we have seen in the last chapter how, according to Heracleitus, it is they who also prevent the sun from transgressing his appointed limits.54 Dmtr and Persephon, too, seem to have been law-giving goddesses, as their great festival, celebrated by women alone, was called the Thesmophoria, while eternal happiness was promised to those who had been initiated into their mysteries at Eleusis; and we also find that moral maxims were graven on the marble busts of Herms placed along every thoroughfare in Athens. We can thus understand why the mutilation of these Hermae caused such68 rage and terror, accompanied, as it was rumoured to be, by a profanation of the Eleusinian mysteries; for any attack on the deities in question would seem to prefigure an attack on the settled order of things, the popular rights which they both symbolised and protected.