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5. The Principle of Gratitude


Socrates. "And was that our agreement with you?" the law
would say; "or were you to abide by the sentence of the
State?" And if I were to express astonishment at their saying
this, the law would probably add: "Answer, Socrates, instead
of opening your eyes: you are in the habit of asking and
50d answering questions. Tell us what complaint you have to

Greek Child
Rhode Island School of Design
The Perseus Project
make against us which justifies you in attempting to destroy us
and the State? In the first place did we not bring you into
existence? Your father married your mother by our aid and
begat you.  Say whether you have any objection to urge against
50e those of us who regulate marriage?" None, I should reply. "Or
against those of us who regulate the system of nurture and
education of children in which you were trained? Were not the
laws, who have the charge of this, right in commanding your
father to train you in music and gymnastic?" Right, I should
reply. "Well, then, since you were brought into the world and
nurtured and educated by us, can you deny in the first place
that you are our child and slave, as your fathers were before
you? And if this is true you are not on equal terms with us; nor
can you think that you have a right to do to us what we are
51a doing to you. Would you have any right to strike or revile or
do any other evil to a father or to your master, if you had one,
when you have been struck or reviled by him, or received some
other evil at his hands? -- you would not say this? And
because we think right to destroy you, do you think that you
have any right to destroy us in return, and your country as
far as in you lies? And will you, O professor of true virtue, say
that you are justified in this? Has a philosopher like you failed
to discover that our country is more to be valued and higher
51b and holier far than mother or father or any ancestor, and more
to be regarded in the eyes of the gods and of men of
understanding? also to be soothed, and gently and reverently
entreated when angry, even more than a father, and if not
persuaded, obeyed? And when we are punished by her,
whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment is to be
endured in silence; and if she leads us to wounds or death in
battle, thither we follow as is right; neither may anyone yield
or retreat or leave his rank, but whether in battle or in a court
51c of law, or in any other place, he must do what his city and his
country order him; or he must change their view of what is
just: and if he may do no violence to his father or mother, shall
much less may he do violence to his country." What answer
we make to this, Crito? Do the laws speak truly, or do they

Crito. I think that they do.