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Plato (Roman copy of the Greek Plato portrait of Silanion , Glyptothek Munich )

The Nomoi ( Greek  Νόμοι Nómoi [ 'nɔmɔɪ̯ ], Latin Leges , German laws ) are a late work by the Greek philosopher Plato , written in dialogue form . The fictional, literary conversation about state theory is Plato's most extensive work. Three old men are involved in the discussion: the Cretan Kleinias, the Spartan Megillos and an Athenian whose name is not mentioned.

The topic of the dialogue is the search for the best possible state constitution and its detailed design. First, the objectives and principles of prudent legislation are discussed and historical examples are used, then the conversation turns to specific details of the nature of an optimally organized state. It will be discussed under which conditions such a state could arise and how the coexistence of its citizens should be regulated. The aim is to create a constitution that guarantees citizens the most favorable living conditions in the long term. The aretḗ (efficiency, virtue) of the citizens is the national goal to which everything is subordinated.

Kleinias is a member of a committee in his hometown Knossos that is preparing the establishment of a new settlement in Crete. The three state theorists take this project as an opportunity to work out the model of an ideal city-state together on a hike, with the Athenian contributing all the essential ideas. In addition to general principles, they also lay down a wealth of details in their draft. They draft detailed regulations to provide the new community with a stable basis. They see one of the main tasks of legislation in preventing social decline and the decline of the state community. They pay special attention to the organization of a careful education of the youth.

The principle of moderation, which is intended to prevent fatal excesses, is fundamental. The disadvantages of one-sided forms of government - autocracy and democracy - must be avoided. Therefore, a balanced mixed constitution is recommended . An elite qualified through strength of character and expertise should rule. Justice should bring about unity. The state has a caring, educational role, it creates the optimal framework conditions for a successful lifestyle of the citizens. The pursuit of virtue is not left to the discretion of the individual, but is viewed as a collective task. Therefore, the state intervenes deeply in private life. An important aspect is the harmony between humans and the gods, because the harmoniously ordered social organism should be embedded in the comprehensive harmony of the cosmos.

In this conservative, stability-oriented model, the highest authority in the state lies with the law. An elaborate system of controls and penalties ensures strict compliance with the regulations.

In modern times, as in ancient times, the dialogue has met with mixed echoes. Modern criticism is directed primarily against “authoritarian” features of the legal framework; the state's mandate to educate its citizens morally, even with coercive means, arouses alienation.

Local conditions

The Ida Mountains (Psiloritis Massif) from the north.

The fictional discussion takes place on the island of Crete around the time of the summer solstice ; the maximum length of daylight fits the enormous scope of the subject. The three participants, Kleinias, Megillos and the Athenian, go on a hike. You ascend from Knossos to a grotto where a sanctuary of the god Zeus is located. It is very likely that this does not mean the Dictean grotto, which is revered as the birthplace of Zeus , but the Idean grotto in the Ida Mountains southwest of Knossos, about 100 meters above the Nida plateau . There the god is said to have been raised after his birth. The archaeological findings give an impression of the importance of the grotto as a place of worship .

The goal of the hike: entrance to the Idean grotto

The entrance to the Idean grotto is at an altitude of 1538 meters. Under ancient conditions, the ascent should take around twelve to thirteen hours. Since the three hikers are old, they often take breaks, which is also due to the stifling heat. On the way they discuss the big issue of optimal legislation and draft their constitution. At the end of the discussion, the grotto has not yet been reached.

Research has considered that the colony establishment project might have a historical background. The colony is called the "city of magnets" by Plato. It is said to be given the name Magnesia, which, according to information in the dialogue, was used by an earlier settlement in the same place that was abandoned by its residents a long time ago. One in the late 3rd century BC An inscription from the Asian Minor town of Magnesia am Meander , which has passed on its founding legend, refers to an older Cretan magnesia that was located between Gortyn and Phaistos in the Mesara plain. From there, the ancestors of the city citizens of Asia Minor immigrated, giving up their previous settlement. It is disputed whether this legend has a historical core and how the inscribed tradition relates to Plato's nomoi . There is no archaeological evidence of the existence of a settlement with this name on Crete.

Participants and Circumstances

The conversation takes place in a friendly atmosphere characterized by mutual respect. It is constructive and leads to results that are approved by all parties involved. This distinguishes the Nomoi from many of Plato's dialogues in which opposing characters and views collide.

The participation of a Cretan, a Spartan and an Athenian interlocutor is related to the topic: The three men represent three constitutional traditions that were highly regarded in Greece. The laws of the Cretan cities were traced back to the mythical lawgiver Minos, who, according to legend, received his knowledge from his father Zeus in the Idean grotto. The hike to the grotto is thus to be understood as a homage to the divine author of the Cretan institutions. The constitution of Sparta was considered the work of the legendary sage Lycurgus ; the laws and customs there were heavily geared towards promoting ascetic discipline for the sake of maintaining military strength, and the Spartans were known for their unwavering adherence to inherited institutions and norms. The often admired Spartan virtues were associated with loyalty to the Lycurgian state model. The main features of the Athenian constitution came from Solon , who was highly regarded as one of the “ Seven Wise Men ”. Thus, each of the three participants in the dialogue brought a special experience with them.

Kleinias is perhaps a figure freely invented by Plato, there is no evidence of his historical existence. In dialogue he is a respected citizen of Knossos. His hometown commissioned him, along with nine other experts, to prepare the establishment of a colony, and gives the Committee of Ten a free hand in introducing the laws for the new settlement. Therefore, Kleinias is very interested in useful suggestions. He is receptive to unusual thoughts.

It is unclear whether Megillos is a historical person or a fictional character. According to one research opinion, it is a diplomat who lived in 408/407 BC. Is said to have come to Athens as a member of a three-headed Spartan embassy. At that time the Peloponnesian War , in which Athens and Sparta were the leading powers of the two hostile alliances, was in its final phase. The mission of the embassy was to negotiate the ransom of prisoners of war. The historian Xenophon also mentions a Spartan ambassador named Megillos who lived in 396 BC. Negotiated with the Persian satrap Tissaphernes . This negotiator is believed to be identical to the Spartan who participated in the diplomatic mission in Athens.

In any case, Plato gave his Megillos the features one would expect from a typical Spartan. In the Nomoi , Megillos acts cautiously, he contributes little to the discussion. In general, he represents the conservative attitude prevailing in his homeland, which is characterized by the emphasis on military issues and support for an ascetic way of life. As a member of a family that traditionally enjoys hospitality with Athenians, he has a broader horizon than some of his fellow citizens, who are less used to contact with strangers.

The anonymous Athenian is the central figure in the dialogue. He steers the conversation, thanks to his excellent education, has the most thorough knowledge of the complex problem, brings in the essential ideas and works them out. His monological explanations make up the majority of the text. This gives him the formative role that Plato's teacher, Socrates, plays in the vast majority of dialogues . The complete absence of Socrates is a very noticeable feature of the Nomoi , which distinguishes them from all other dialogues of Plato. It is inevitable because of the location in Crete, as it was common knowledge that the historical Socrates did not travel. In contrast, the Athenian gained experience in many places while traveling.

It has been assumed that Plato himself is hiding behind the Athenian. In any case, the anonymous interlocutor from Athens was already regarded as the author's spokesman in ancient times, expressing his own convictions. This interpretation is traditionally the predominant one. Nevertheless, the Athenian theory of the state cannot be equated in every detail with Plato's position without further ado, because it is not certain that the entire dialogue in the present version is a completely authentic work of the philosopher.

There are no indications for a chronological classification of the fictitious plot. If the Megillos, who is an old man in dialogue, is to be equated with the historical ambassador, a time after the end of the 5th century BC is to be found. To think about.


The aim of legislation (Books I and II)

The virtue in its entirety
The conversation starts suddenly without a framework. The Athenian asks Kleinias and Megillos whether they attribute a divine origin to Cretan and Spartan legislation. Both affirm this, and Kleinias explains the purpose of individual provisions, which are of a military nature: Almost everything is aimed at war, "peace" is an empty word, because in reality there is constant war between all cities, even without a declaration of war, the struggle for existence be. From a Spartan point of view, Megillos immediately agrees with the conclusion that a good constitution must aim at military superiority. Kleinias adds that violent internal conflicts are also a normal condition within cities and villages. From this perspective, combat strength appears to be the ability that lawmakers must primarily encourage.

The Athenian takes up the idea that the purpose of legislation is to promote efficiency, but rejects the one-sided emphasis on bravery ; Although this belongs to efficiency or virtue, it is the least important part of it. The legislature did not have the worst - civil war - to look at as normal, but the best, internal and external peace. All military orders are to be made for the sake of peace. The goal is the total virtue and the most important part is the insight (phrónēsis) . In second place among the virtues, the Athenian names prudence associated with reason , the third place he assigns to justice ( dikaiosýnē ) and the fourth and last to bravery. All legal provisions had to serve these spiritual goods, and reason had to be in control of all endeavors. Therefore, it makes sense to begin an examination of the legislation with an analysis of the institutions that aim at bravery and then to consider the remaining virtues in ascending order. In this way one could come to an understanding of the common virtue and the legislation serving it. This proposal is well received.

Bravery and Prudence
Much is done in Sparta to increase bravery. Megillos lists some of the demanding toughening exercises that enable you to endure severe pain. The bravery thus achieved is, as the Athenian explains, one-sided, it “limps”: One only learns to bravely withstand pain, but not to bring the desire for pleasure under control. Spartans have little opportunity to learn self-control in dealing with pleasure, for their laws command them to keep away from the greatest pleasures. The regulations in the Cretan cities are similar. But mastery of desire is the other side of bravery. It is even more important than hardening, for there is more cowardice in the weakness in the face of the temptations of lust than in the softness in the face of pain. Those who have no experience of the greatest desires will be overwhelmed by the urge for them as soon as an opportunity arises. Here lies a deficiency in the legislation of Lycurgus and Minos. In Sparta and Knossos it looks even more unfavorable in terms of prudence: Kleinias and Megillos cannot cite anything that really serves their targeted promotion.

The consumption of wine as an exercise of virtue

Symposium scene on an Attic red-figure crater , Nikias painter , late 5th century BC Chr.

Regardless of the arguments of the Athenian, Megillos sticks to his conviction that it is best not to get acquainted with fateful lusts in the first place. He praised the restrictive use of wine laid down by law in Sparta, which meant that there were no drunk people in public as elsewhere. But the Athenian is not impressed by that. For him it is an externally enforced reluctance that collapses as soon as steadfastness slackens. He opposes blanket, undifferentiated evaluations of wine drinking. The symposium (drinking binge), which is forbidden in Sparta, is not inherently bad, it just needs a competent management. In fact, if done correctly, it has significant educational value.

The train of thought with which the Athenian justifies his view is: All training aims at the acquisition of a skill. Skills are practiced from an early age. The practitioner should become capable; Upbringing for virtue from childhood should make him a perfect citizen. Efficiency is based on self-control, inefficiency is the result of licentiousness. To illustrate this, the Athenian tells the “parable of puppets”: Every earthly living being behaves like a puppet that is led by a higher, divine authority. Two wires that the human puppets hang from are the feelings associated with their expectations. These are of two types: fear in expectation of pain and confidence or boldness in expectation of pleasure. Both act on people at the same time and drag them towards opposite actions. But there is also another factor, a third wire: the sensible consideration with which one ponders what is better and what is worse and then decides on the better, even when fear or confidence pushes in a different direction. The wire of reason is made of gold and is therefore flexible, the others are made of base metal and are rigid. The golden wire is beautiful, but gentle, it does not exert any violence. The pulling force of the golden wire should be followed in everything, but because of its flexible nature it cannot assert itself against the others. Therefore the legislature must come to her aid.

Education within the framework of the current regulations aims at learning to resist the aversion to feelings of displeasure. One gets used to overcoming the fear of pain and enduring suffering when reason demands it. It is different, however, with the expectation of pleasure, by which the puppet is also guided. It is associated with states of mind such as anger, cockiness, and greed. Young people are not taught how to deal sensibly with such impulses. Hence, as adults, people are usually helpless at such challenges, leading to insolence and injustice. Unfortunately, there is a lack of suitable opportunities to safely test this aspect of self-control in practice. Nevertheless, there is a solution: Wine offers a good, even wonderfully easy route. It removes inhibitions and evokes the effects of exaggerated confidence: as fear disappears, one becomes self-indulgent and daring, reckless and shameless. Therefore, the supervised consumption of wine at the symposium makes it possible to gain experience with such impulses in a safe way under controlled conditions and to practice their control. So drinking wine turns out to be a way to calm down.

The task of music and dance
Following on from what has been said above, the Athenian explains his understanding of musical education. Pleasure and pain are the first impressions that small children receive, and from the point of view of these two factors, they then encounter moral qualities for the first time: that Goodness (virtue) and wickedness. Reason comes later. It is crucial for the success of the upbringing that pleasure and pain are linked in the right way with the ethical conditions even before the development of reason, so that the inclinations develop as they should. The good should always be loved, the bad hated. If the feelings are properly aligned from the beginning, the inclination will later, when reason enters, not corrected but confirmed by insight. The fulfillment of this educational task is what constitutes education.

However, the effect of a good upbringing often wears off over the course of life. Therefore it has to be renewed. The festivals with music and dance serve this purpose. Almost every young living being is naturally active, it wants to express itself with sounds and movements such as hopping and jumping. With animals it is chaotic, only humans have a sense of rhythm and harmony. Music can direct the adolescent urge to move on a beneficial path. When someone is well brought up, virtue and with it beauty is in his soul and he delights in beauty. This is shown physically by singing and dancing beautifully. You can tell from the beautiful posture and melody, the beautiful song and dance, how someone is brought up. This is demonstrated in the choir dance on the occasion of the festivals. Anyone who is virtuous and therefore takes pleasure in beautiful things sings and dances differently from someone who has failed in character, just as the posture and voice of a brave man in distress is different from that of a coward.

Because of the connection between mental quality and physical appearance, the selection of songs and dances must not be left to chance. The competence to make decisions in this area belongs neither to the artists nor to the public, but only to the legislature, who, thanks to his wisdom, knows how to assess the psychological effects. Therefore music and dance are to be regulated by law. Superficial pleasure must not be the selection criterion, the judgment of the crowd does not matter. Human attitudes are imitated in dance and singing. But under no circumstances is bad things worth emulating. The harmony of soul and body requires that the virtuous and emotionally beautiful appear in the choir only with appropriate melodies and rhythms, i.e. with those that express a virtuous attitude. In this way the still soft souls of children are charmed and won over to virtue. The musical activity should not end with the youth, but continue into old age, although the relationship to music and dance changes with increasing age. Therefore, in addition to the two choirs for children and youths, a third choir should be set up for mature men between the ages of thirty and sixty.

Lessons from History (Book III)

Historical experiences and their evaluation
If one takes virtue as a yardstick everywhere, then, just like musical activity, political activity must be judged from the point of view of whether it promoted virtue or badness. Historically, this can be seen in the progress of states in one direction or the other. Looking at history shows how states have gotten bigger and smaller, better and worse and how this relates to their respective constitutions.

The Athenian starts from a mythical view of history that his two interlocutors share. So history is cyclical. Civilizations arise, develop, develop their power, are exposed to signs of decline and are ultimately destroyed by catastrophes. The annihilation takes place so thoroughly that the survivors cannot build on the glorious past of the vanished urban cultures, but are forced to start over under the primitive conditions of the mountain wilderness. For many generations they lived scattered without civilization; Arts and techniques such as metal extraction are unknown. With their meager way of life, they know no wealth, hence no envy and strife. They are ignorant and illiterate, naive, good-natured and virtuous out of ignorance of vices. The customs of the ancestors and the authority of the elders are decisive, legislators are not required.

In a later phase, the first walled mountain settlements emerged, agriculture was gradually introduced, and finally cities were founded in the lowlands. Different groups come together with different traditions. You now need common rules for living together. This is the legislature's hour. They create constitutions that are partly monarchical and partly aristocratic. In a further phase, seafaring emerges and warfare begins, injustice and violence take hold. During the Trojan War , revolts broke out in the home states of the fighters, and after the heroes returned home, there was murder, manslaughter and many expulsions.

The development on the Peloponnese peninsula , which the Athenian is now looking at more closely, is instructive. Three states emerged there: Argos , Messene and Sparta. Originally the three powers were allied by an oath with which they undertook to maintain their constitutional order and the existing state system and to support each other against any disturbance of the well-ordered conditions. Had they maintained this initial unity, no power in the world could have been dangerous to them. The historical development was completely different: The Spartans were constantly at war with Argives and Messenians. Only Sparta was stable and successful; the other two states were ruined by the excessiveness of their kings. The Athenian attributes the success of the Spartans to the superiority of their constitution, which is a clever, balanced mixture of monarchical and aristocratic elements. The Argives and Messenians fell victim not to a lack of bravery, but to the lack of foresight on the part of their legislators, who failed to moderate the rulers with counterweights. This example shows how little bravery alone can accomplish without the remaining parts of total virtue.

The lessons of the Peloponnesian developments are confirmed by the history of Athens and the Persian Empire to which the Athenians are now turning. There are two states that offer impressive illustrative material due to the one-sidedness of their constitutions. In Athens there is radical democracy, in the Persian Empire the monarchical principle has received its most extreme form. Initially this was not the case; moderating factors were initially effective in both states. Over time, however, the one-sidedness increased, which had devastating effects. The king's sons were brought up badly among the Persians. Since they were spoiled, after taking office they could not live up to the responsibility that came with their immense power. For lack of self-control, they gave in to their tyrannical tendencies, which broke the consensus of rulers and ruled. For the Athenians, on the other hand, the excessive freedom that democracy afforded them was their undoing. A cultural decline that emanated from music led to a decline in morality, audacity and disregard for the law became rampant.

Implementation of the insights gained
From the observations and insights presented so far, the Athenian takes stock. The legislature has to keep three goals in mind: the city to which it gives a constitution should firstly be free, secondly be friends with itself, i.e. be spared from internal strife and civil war, and thirdly be subject to reasonable control. A number of clues have already emerged for what is important. The question now arises as to how a coherent theory of the state can be constructed from these building blocks and how one can test their suitability.

At this point Kleinias reports a fortunate stroke of fate. He is a member of a ten-person committee that has been commissioned by the authorities in his hometown of Knossos to prepare an important colony establishment in which other Cretan cities are also involved. The Commission has been given a free hand to set up the new state. Therefore, Kleinias can bring the results of the discussion into the project. The three men decide to work together on a draft constitution that does not have to remain theory, but has the prospect of being implemented.

The founding of the state (Books IV and V)

External framework conditions and form of government
First of all, the external framework conditions must be clarified. Long-distance trading is detrimental to virtue as it leads to a variety of monetary deals that spoil character. Therefore, the city and its surrounding area should be as economically self-sufficient as possible . It should neither be dependent on imports nor have an abundance of exportable goods at its disposal. A considerable distance from the sea is desirable; If possible, ports should not be in the vicinity, as otherwise corrupting influences would flow in. One problem is the origin of the settlers. If they come from many different areas and therefore form a formless mass, it will be difficult to create a unified consciousness. If, however, the citizenship is uniform according to origin and tradition, it will want to adhere to its customs and not easily submit to the will of the legislature. In general, the question arises as to how the legislature can acquire the necessary authority. For this he not only needs competence, but also favorable circumstances. His task is easiest when a well-disposed, reform-minded ruler is already unchallenged in power. The latter can then instruct the legislature to draft a new constitution and simply order its implementation.

The first step is to choose the form of government. Tyrannical arbitrariness is ruled out from the start. Democracy, oligarchy , aristocracy and monarchy come into consideration . But they are all one-sided and therefore inadequate, because they do not serve the whole, but the benefit of individual people or sections of the population. Laws are passed according to the benefit of the interest groups behind them, not as the common good requires. The community is subjugated by one of its parts. This can only be prevented if the laws are not subject to the will of individuals or groups, but, conversely, if the rulers willingly obey the laws. Good lawmakers combine elements of the individual one-sided forms of rule and put them together into a meaningfully structured whole, a balanced mixed constitution.

Guiding principles of a reasonable social life
The Athenian now imagines that the settlers have already arrived and drafts a keynote speech that the legislature would have to give to the assembled new citizens. In it he explains the principles of a meaningfully regulated social life. The focus is on balance, keeping the right measure. Excessiveness seduces those who are fortunate enough to believe that they already know as young people, do not need guidance and can lead others. Such misjudgments take revenge. The prudent one is humble, willingly takes his place and fulfills his duties. The godhead is the model, the measure of all things; therefore one should strive to become as like her as possible.

Duties towards relatives, friends, fellow citizens and strangers are not only to be stated in the law, but also to be made understandable. An explanatory preface must be added to every law.

The right order consists in the fact that everywhere the better rules and is honored and the worse serves the better. The most precious and divine thing about people is their soul. She therefore deserves special care and honor. Serious errors are committed out of ignorance. Indulgence and pampering do not help the soul, but only that which improves it and helps it seize the best and avoid the bad. One has to beware of excessive self-love, because the lover becomes blind to what he loves. Everyone should strive to be an example to others and especially to young people, because being an example is the best education. Therefore, the legislature does not have to admonish and correct the young, but the older ones, because the youth orientates themselves by their good or bad role model. With regard to bodily goods, the value of moderation is particularly evident in inheritance. One should not leave riches to children, for large possessions spoil character and attract flatterers; but the offspring should not be left in poverty either, for otherwise they are threatened with slipping into servitude. Active resistance against injustice is particularly worthwhile. Obligations towards foreigners are sacred, especially the right of asylum, which, once granted, must not be violated under any circumstances.

In his address to the settlers, the fictional speaker goes into detail about the relationship between pleasure, pain and desire. He tries to make them understand that the life of the insightful, prudent and brave is more pleasurable than that of the incomprehensible, licentious and cowardly. The incomprehensible can indeed experience more intense pleasure than the prudent one, but the painful predominates in his life as a whole.

The state and social order (Books V – XII)

Setting the course for the establishment of a state
The discussion then turns to the details of the establishment of a state and legislation. Particular attention should be paid to the problem of land distribution, because the division of property is a major source of discord. Since the aim is to keep the overall situation stable, the city must not grow, but the number of households must be kept constant. The citizenship should be so large that on the one hand it can guarantee the defense of the state against external enemies and on the other hand the available fertile land is sufficient for its nutrition. From this point of view, the Athenian finds 5040 households optimal. The usable area is divided among them.

With regard to the question of what should be communal and what should be private property, different models can be considered. When making this decision, the legislator has to take into account that the theoretically better cannot always be implemented. For pragmatic reasons he may be compelled to forego the best option. Depending on the circumstances, he must decide on the second or third best solution if necessary. Since the citizenship is supposed to form a unit, as it were an organism, the best thing would be the radical abolition of private property. It would have to be carried out so consistently that not only all material goods would be nationalized, but the family would also be dissolved as the private sphere and “property” of the father of the family. In this model, even the exclusivity of the marital bond is abolished, and the children are not to be raised by their parents, but the upbringing is the responsibility of the community. The Athenian considers this to be perfect living conditions, but he realizes that such a model is utopian.

The second-best solution accepts private ownership of land with considerable restrictions. After all, the landowners should be aware of the strong social ties to property . The lot decides which family receives which land. Every family has to keep the land assigned to them, the sale of real estate is prohibited. In order to keep the number of households constant, a dwelling can only be bequeathed to one of the sons of the owner, whom he can choose. The daughters join other families through marriage, surplus sons are appointed by citizens without male descendants as heirs or sent as colonists abroad. Family planning tools are also used when the population threatens to grow or shrinks due to epidemics or wars. The city has no convertible currency and it is forbidden to hold foreign currency, as well as gold and silver and credit transactions. The state allocates the necessary foreign currency for trips. Any dowry is prohibited when daughters are married . As a central concern of the legislature, the Athenian emphasizes the goal that the citizens should be as friends with each other as possible. Therefore, legal disputes, which mostly arise from property issues, must be prevented as much as possible. In order to avoid internal conflicts, social inequality can only be tolerated within a fixed, narrow framework: In addition to their landless, the richest citizens may own movable goods up to four times the value of a landless, i.e. a maximum of five times the subsistence level guaranteed by the state for their poorest fellow who have nothing but the landless.

The entire national territory is divided into twelve districts ( Phylen ). Each household is allocated two parcels, one in the city and one in the country. The legislature also has to take into account the influence of the climate on the human mind.

A body of law, however good it may be, cannot be better in practice than the people who are responsible for implementing the provisions. The procedure for filling the positions is therefore of crucial importance. Both those who are to get into a government office and those responsible for the selection of civil servants require a qualification. A citizen proves his qualification for an office through his behavior throughout his entire life so far, which he has spent under the eyes of his fellow citizens. Since this is not yet possible at the time of the founding of the colony, the city from which the new founding is based must first set up a committee that is composed equally of proven citizens of the mother city and representatives of the new settlers. The first personnel decisions are transferred to this body. For the details, the Athenian makes concrete, detailed proposals. He names the following state bodies:

  • The 37-member law enforcement council that oversees compliance with the law. The law enforcement officers must be at least 50 and at most 70 years old during their official activity, i.e. they may serve a maximum of 20 years. At first they are appointed by a 200-member electoral committee set up by the mother city, and later elected by the citizens.
  • The college of the three strategists (military leaders). For the election of strategists, the law enforcement officers are initially authorized to make proposals. All citizens who have done military service are entitled to vote. You choose the strategists from the group of nominees, but are also allowed to make changes to the preselection before the election: If you want to replace one of the proposed candidates with a person who has not been proposed, you can make a corresponding counter-proposal, which is accepted by a simple majority becomes.
  • Officers, including the twelve taxiarches and commanders of the various branches of service. Special provisions apply to their appointment; they are partly elected and partly appointed by the strategists.
  • The 360-strong Bule (Council of State). After a complicated process, the citizens have to propose candidates, 720 of which are then elected by the citizens. Half of these are eliminated by drawing lots, the rest become councils. The council does not act in its entirety during its one-year electoral term, but is divided into twelve committees of 30 members each, each of which conducts official business for one month. The respective executive committee of the council is responsible for foreign policy and internal security; it calls meetings and dissolves them.
  • Other bodies, including those responsible for managing the rural areas, roads, temples and public buildings. These include colleges of priests, market, town, and land overseers, and judges. Special provisions apply to their election or appointment, which the Athenian explains in detail.
  • The overseer holds the most important of all offices over the entire educational system. He is elected by part of the civil service in a secret ballot from among the law enforcement officers. His term of office is five years; re-election is not permitted.

Finally, the Athenian points out that the initial laws of the new state must necessarily be incomplete. They form a stable framework, but have to be supplemented later by additional regulations and implementation provisions. That task will fall to the law enforcement officers. Here, too, the point of view that should be decisive is how to become a good person as a citizen. Everything is subordinated to this goal. The state and the possession of citizenship are not ends in themselves but a means of attaining virtue. If, despite all the efforts of the legislature and the law enforcement officers, the state should one day be corrupted and make its citizens worse instead of better, emigration is advisable if necessary.

Guidelines for starting a family and the life of women Family life
is not left to chance and arbitrariness, but is regulated in accordance with the national goal. Starting a family is a civic duty; whoever evades it has to accept a statutory penance. Every man should be married by the age of 35 at the latest. The state cannot intervene directly in choosing a partner, but young men should be strongly advised that when choosing their wives, they should not make impulsive decisions based on subjective criteria, but should also consider the common good. This means that social stratifications - for example, when members of the upper class only marry one another - are undesirable. It is advisable not to marry with a family that corresponds to your own kind, but rather with one that offers a complementary addition to what you are and have yourself. This promotes the desirable homogeneity of the urban population.

The legislature must not - as is usual in the Greek states - neglect women, but must also provide them with the best possible education in virtue. They shouldn't stay in the secrecy of the houses, but rather take part in public life. If they are at least 40 years old, they can be elected to office. If required, they can also be used for military service up to the age of 50.

Upbringing It is
difficult for the legislature to intervene in the upbringing of small children, since this takes place in the secrecy of the homes and consists of many, sometimes inconspicuous, processes. But important decisions for character formation take place in early childhood. Recommendations are therefore necessary. Upbringing must begin in the womb in the form of gymnastics. Young children need constant exercise; this can be seen in the fact that they are lulled to sleep. Since this already applies to embryos, pregnant women should be on the move as much as possible. A balanced mood in the pregnant woman is also important. As long as small children cannot stand, they should be carried as continuously as possible so that they are less fearful later. It is even better to wear them often until the age of three. In upbringing, the middle ground between the harmful extremes of pardon and oppression is to be struck. When punishing one should not offend the child's sense of honor. From the age of seven boys and girls are taught separately, but the subjects are the same. Neglecting the clumsy left hand is wrong; Two-handed dexterity is to be aimed for. This is also part of the balance.

Then gymnastics and youth games are discussed. The games are by no means unimportant for education; they have a strong effect on character and therefore belong to the area that the legislature has to study and regulate. The goals and means of education are the same for both sexes. One should not devote more time to sleep than necessary. In this connection the Athenian expresses his opinion that human affairs are not of great seriousness. While it is inevitable to take them seriously, this is not a happy situation. Man was created as a toy of God, so he should spend his life playing the most beautiful games possible.

Then the Athenian goes into the school and the individual subjects. There is general compulsory education. In addition to reading and writing, music, social studies (dealing with legislation in the classroom), dance, gymnastics, arithmetic , geometry and astronomy, the subjects also include exercises aimed at military proficiency. The common dances are partly beautiful, partly ugly, vulgar and ridiculous. One should also look at what is repulsive and ridiculous in order to familiarize oneself with it and thus correctly grasp the opposite of it. It would be wrong to naively ignore what is unworthy, but no citizen may give himself up to learn and present it himself. Only slaves and paid strangers should appear in such performances. Another issue is the role of hunting in moral education. Hunting with traps is contemptible; only a hunt practiced as a fight with the animal is worthy of a free man.

Foreign tragedy poets should only be allowed to perform their works if they do not counteract national goals. In this context, the Athenian claims that the legislators are themselves tragedy writers, because the state constitution is a representation of the most beautiful and best life and therefore actually the truest tragedy.

Festivals, competitions and exercises
The life of citizens is a constant daily practice with the aim of becoming more and more competent. There is no shortage of free time for this. The numerous festivals at which sporting competitions and musical competitions take place are also occasions for practicing. There are many smaller ones at the twelve main monthly festivals; not a day goes by without a festival somewhere in town. Participation in sports competitions is optional for women.

Regulations for sexual behavior
The Athenian points out that unrestrained indulgence in sexual desires leads to great disaster. He is thinking primarily of pederasty , which is very common in Greece , but also of adultery. Here too, in his opinion, the legislature must take precautions. However, the Athenian realizes that the vehemence of desires makes it difficult to enforce restrictive regulations in this area. In his opinion, what could effectively help would be a general ban on undesirable sexual behavior based on the model of the prohibition of
incest , which is generally followed even without statutory penal provisions.

The economy
The following are the provisions that regulate economic life. This is simply structured; Since long-distance trade, customs duties and financial transactions are no longer applicable, the main concerns are farmers, shepherds and beekeepers. Every citizen is a farmer and works his lot with the help of slaves. Special prohibitions relate to moving the stones that mark property boundaries, encroaching on neighbors' fields and pastures and carelessly causing fire damage. Further regulations regulate possible disputes with irrigation and drinking water supply and with the consumption of other people's fruit. No citizen should practice a craft or let his slaves do it; such business activities are reserved for foreigners. As far as imports are necessary, they are carried out by the state so that the pursuit of profit does not find sustenance. The citizens should not appear as sellers themselves in the market, but only send representatives, otherwise they would be distracted from the pursuit of virtue. Foreign traders are allowed to settle in the city and are not subject to tax, but the residence permit is usually limited to a maximum of twenty years; only in exceptional cases can a special permit for longer stays be granted for special merits.

Criminal law and its problems
Before speaking of criminal law, the Athenian points out that this is a paradoxical topic in this context: in a city where all institutions are so specifically aimed at promoting virtue, more serious crimes are likely to be Citizens do not actually appear. However, such cases cannot be ruled out with certainty, and the strangers and slaves who do not participate in the practice of virtue are expected to commit criminal acts. Corresponding criminal provisions are therefore necessary.

The penalties are then described in detail. Capital crimes such as temple robbery and attempted coup are subject to the death penalty. A citizen is punished more severely than a slave or a stranger, because every punishment aims - as far as possible - to amelioration of the culprit or at least to prevent deterioration; the slave or stranger is perhaps even more capable of improvement and is therefore given a chance, whereas the citizen who, despite all the upbringing of virtues, commits a serious crime must be classified as a hopeless case and is therefore executed. If fines are imposed, the subsistence level must not be touched. All legal proceedings are public and the judges vote openly on the judgment. The children of a criminal should not be harmed by their father's punishment and shame, except when their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have been sentenced to death; in this case the tendency to crime should be considered hereditary, then the children lose their citizenship and have to leave the national territory.

These explanations are followed by fundamental considerations about the meaning of criminal law. There is agreement that justice is beautiful and therefore all righteous actions must also be beautiful. But punishments cause suffering to the punished. If such suffering is just but ugly, there arises a contradiction to the initial assumption; then the death penalty appears as the most just and at the same time the ugliest suffering, the just and the beautiful can stand in opposing contrasts. The objection to this, however, is that, on closer inspection, the death penalty turns out to be beneficial for all rather than harm if it is only imposed if the character is incurable. In these cases, it is better for the evildoer to die than to stay alive and get worse from further wrongdoing, for wickedness is a greater evil than death. At the same time, the city is cleared of its wickedness, and the deterrent effect of punishment can deter others from crimes. So everyone benefits from execution. Not life as such, but only a good life represents a value. Under no circumstances should the curable be condemned to death.

One problem is the distinction between “voluntarily” and “involuntarily” committed acts. Anyone who is not culpable because of insanity, illness or minority can only be held responsible under civil law, not criminal law. From a philosophical point of view, however, it is not only the behavior in such cases that is involuntary, but every bad deed in general. This results from the insight that everyone actually wants what is good and only gets astray through ignorance. Nobody strives for the bad as such, but wrongdoings are only committed because the perpetrator mistakenly hoped for something good for him or was overtaken by an affect. Seen in this way, there should be no penalties if only the deliberate pursuit of what is bad, knowing that it is bad, is considered voluntary and therefore punishable. From a legal point of view, however, criminal law is indispensable. Therefore, criminal offenses have to be judged from a legal perspective; it is not about the philosophical understanding of voluntariness, but about damage in which it makes sense to distinguish between deliberate and unintentional damage, as well as between various affective actions and wrong actions due to ignorance of the right thing. Under criminal law, it always depends on the convictions of the perpetrator.

Then the individual homicides and cases of bodily harm and their respective penalties are dealt with in detail.

The Importance of Piety
Another important issue is the city's relationship with the gods. Religion is not a private matter, but is practiced jointly by the community of citizens. The preservation of piety is an important task of the legislature. The close connection of the city to the gods requires that the citizens act unanimously in the cult and that no one disturbs the relationship of the community to the gods through religious outrages. The Athenian distinguishes three types of infidelity: first, the opinion that there are no gods; second, the view that the gods are not interested in the fate of men; thirdly, the belief that one can influence the attitude of the gods, for example by appeasing them through sacrifices and prayers after a crime. The Athenian regards all three attitudes as pathological. However, he does not consider it sufficient to introduce legal provisions against impiousness, but rather chooses a rational approach: The impious should be convinced of the erroneousness of their opinions with arguments. The conversation thus turns to the evidence of God .

The examination of the naturalistic worldview of
Kleinia means that the cosmic order, which can be recognized by the heavenly bodies and the change of the seasons, is sufficient proof of divine guidance. In addition, belief in gods is widespread among all peoples. The Athenian is not satisfied with that. He points to a deeper problem. According to his exposition, inpiety is nourished by the fact that the prevailing views about the gods are based on ancient myths, the statements of which are in some respects morally questionable and do not deserve trust. Atheists consider the heavenly bodies to be mere rocks about which nothing is divine. This view must be refuted.

First, the Athenian summarizes the main features of the naturalistic interpretation of the world. According to her, the elements and all things composed of them - the entire cosmos - emerged from the interaction of natural conditions and chance, as far as they were not created by humans. There is no reason, no god, no intelligence and intention behind it. The stars are not animated, but are only driven around by physical necessities. The respective nature of the individual physical objects including living beings can be explained by different mixtures of warm and cold, dry and damp, soft and hard and other opposing qualities; these factors produced everything through their chaotic interaction. The technology with which things are intentionally created artificially is not a means at the disposal of a creative deity, but only a late invention by humans. Everything that has been thought out, every artificial product, is either arbitrary and untruthful or is based on natural conditions. Religion, ethics and legislation are pure products of the human mind which in reality have no correlates. Justice is not an objective state of affairs, it has no relation to truth, because it has no connection with natural conditions. Rather, it is something that people arbitrarily fix again and again and that they constantly argue about.

In his counter-argument, the Athenian takes the soul - the invigorating factor in living beings - as the starting point. From a naturalistic point of view, it is a relatively late product of physical processes. He opposes this with his point of view, which is based on a reversed causal relationship: It was not the elements that produced the soul, but everything material has a soul cause. Conditions, activities and products of the soul such as opinion, care, reason, art and law exist before material properties such as hardness and softness, heaviness and lightness appear. Works of reason precede nature and its works.

The Athenian derives the priority of the soul from its relationship to movement. He distinguishes two main types of movement. Some things can only get in motion and in turn move others if they receive an impulse from outside to do so; Others are able to move themselves and others on their own, they do not need any offense. The second type of movement is what is meant when the term “soul” is used. If one imagines the cosmos as an initially resting system and then asks how the first movement could have come about, it turns out that it cannot have started from a thing that is naturally inert and remains at rest without being pushed. but only from someone who is able to move on their own. A soul must have given the first impulse to the movements of material things. This soul is the world soul that animates the cosmos. Thus the soul cannot be traced back to the material; rather, the mobility of matter must have a spiritual cause.

Furthermore, the nature of the cause can be inferred from the nature of the effects. Chaotic movements must have an unreasonable and therefore bad cause, and orderly movements must have a reasonable and good cause. The movement of the heavenly vault , which revolves around the earth, takes place in a regular, orderly, and always the same way; it is a uniform circular motion. From this type of movement it can be deduced that the soul directing the vault of heaven must be reasonable and virtuous. Its effects show that it is the best soul and of divine nature. The same applies to the circular movements of the individual heavenly bodies, such as the sun; They too are rationally ordered and must therefore be caused by divine souls - the celestial deities. The cosmos does not exist the other way around, thanks to the powers that regulate it.

The Relationship Between Humans and Gods
The second type of infidelity is the hypothesis that the gods exist but only care about important things and are not interested in small things like human deeds and destinies. This idea results from an ambivalent finding: on the one hand, the existence of a divine world order appears to be evident, on the other hand, the lack of justice in human affairs indicates that there is no divine care here. If one assumes that the gods are good, that is, that they do not want or cause anything bad, then injustices such as the success of tyrants, for example, can only be explained by the gods' disinterest in human conditions.

The Athenian replies that such indifference is incompatible with the good nature of the gods. According to his argument, there can be three reasons why someone only cares about the big and big and disregards the small: Either due to ignorance or weakness the ability to take care of everything is lacking, or the small is neglected out of recklessness and convenience, or one thinks the little thing is irrelevant. The first two possibilities are only for humans, not for good gods. The third possibility would mean that from a divine point of view, people are not worthy of any attention. This hypothesis breaks the unity of nature. But the small is part of the whole, and if the small parts are neglected, the whole made up of them cannot look good either. Therefore caring for the whole must include caring for all parts. The rule of the gods aims at what is best for the whole; How this relates to the good of a certain part, however, cannot be seen from the perspective of a single human individual who does not see through the connections. This creates the wrong impression of injustice in the world order. The Athenian contrasts the worldview, in which human deeds and destinies are irrelevant from a divine point of view, with a model in which man is embedded in a comprehensive cosmic order. The individual can recognize the world order and understand himself to be part of it, since his mental constitution corresponds to it. It plays a role in the cosmos for which it is responsible.

In conclusion, the Athenian turns against the third kind of infidelity: the opinion that one can change the mind of the gods, that is, induce them with prayers or offerings to judge an injustice more leniently than they would otherwise. He and Kleinias see this as a hideous blasphemy. The gods would be declared corruptible; morally they would still be under an incorruptible shepherd dog guarding a herd.

With these arguments, the Athenian believes that he has proven the correctness of his religious worldview. When the contrary views are refuted, there can be no longer any doubt that there is a real relationship between the state and the gods. Then the right and the duty of the state to punish religious crimes can no longer be raised. The Athenian then sets out the details of the penal provisions that he considers necessary for such offenses. The piety that he wants to make the citizens a duty is not a "belief" in the gods in the sense of a subjective opinion, which should be preferred to alternative opinions. Rather, what is meant is an acknowledgment and respect of the divine rule, which the Athenian considers an obvious fact that can only be ignored by the deluded.

Property law, commercial and industrial law, family law
There are numerous individual provisions about property and about buying and selling. This includes that lost and found items - including buried valuables - must never be appropriated. Everything you buy should be paid for immediately, deferred payments and credit transactions enjoy no legal protection. Sellers are prohibited from promoting their goods or affirming their claims about their quality on oath. The trade is not a bad thing in itself, it makes sense, but in practice it is usually not pursued by the best citizens, but by people of inferior character and greedy for money. Therefore, it is appropriate to keep the retail trade tight and to monitor it carefully so that it does not become a source of wickedness. No citizen should expose himself to the moral risks that arise in business life in commercial activity - including in the service industry. Therefore, these areas are reserved for foreign business people. The competent authorities must take action against deception, fraud and defrauding in retail and services.

Further detailed provisions of the legislature regulate inheritance law, the protection of orphans, the responsibility of the children to provide for their parents in old age, conflicts between parents and children and divorce.

Other individual provisions
The discussion of individual special questions ends with the treatment of a large number of offenses and undesirable behavior and the definition of various administrative regulations. The offenses include, for example, poisoning, damaging magic , insults, refusal to serve in the army, cowardice in war, excessive expense at burials and the acceptance of benefits by people who are active in the civil service. Since the state ensures that no decent person falls into extreme poverty, begging is prohibited. The legislature must intervene against willful litigation out of contentiousness or greed; likewise against court speakers who try to use rhetorical tricks to give those involved in the process advantages that they are not entitled to. In the case of theft of common property, it does not depend on the amount of the crime, but only on the question of whether the thief can be classified as curable or incurable. Swearing is not provided for citizens who appear in court as plaintiffs or defendants, because the risk that they succumb to the temptation to perjury must not be accepted. Taxes can be levied as income or wealth taxes; Income tax returns must be submitted annually.

In this connection the Athenian introduces another particularly important state body, the Euthynen. These control officers, whose term of office is 25 years, are elected by the entire citizenry in a complex process and enjoy the highest reputation. They receive complaints from citizens against civil servants; Their task is to intervene against abuse of office, while at the same time acting as investigative authority and judge. Their judgments can be appealed to a court of appeal, and they can also be sued for abuse of office in a special court.

The Nocturnal Assembly
At the end of the dialogue, the question comes to the fore again, how the decline of the state can be prevented by the loss of compliance with the law. A special constitutional body is to be created for this purpose, the “Nightly Assembly”. It bears its name because it always meets at dawn. Members are the ten oldest law enforcement officers and a number of other highly qualified citizens. Younger men are said to be among them. Special emphasis must be placed on their thorough philosophical training. The Nightly Assembly has no governmental function, it is only a supervisory authority and determines the binding interpretation of the law.

Kleinias and Megillos are now convinced of the overall concept. They want to persuade the Athenian to continue to participate in the state establishment project, since it would not succeed without him. This ends the dialogue, the answer from the Athenian is not communicated.

Political and philosophical content

For the history of political philosophy and especially of constitutional legislation, five main ideas of the nomoi are significant:

  • the mixed constitution as a middle way, which should avoid the disadvantages of one-sided models.
  • the principle of the unconditional rule of law, which fundamentally excludes a supra-legal status of individual individuals or institutions. This is also reflected in the fact that citizens can sue any decision made by the administration.
  • the requirement that laws should be preceded by a preamble , which should explain the concerns of the legislature and thus make its considerations and decisions understandable.
  • the requirement that offices may only be assigned on the basis of proven competence, whereby personal suitability plays a decisive role.
  • the linking of state theory and metaphysics through an understanding of legislation based on natural law .

A central aspect is the importance of “persuasion”, which is often emphasized in the dialogue. On the one hand, many criminal provisions are strict and some even draconian, especially the use of the death penalty in cases of alleged "incurability" of the criminals, on the other hand, Plato attaches great importance to a comprehensible justification of the individual regulations. Citizens should willingly respect the laws because their rationality is clearly explained to them. However, Plato understands by "persuasion" not only rational argumentation, but also admonition and influencing in an emotional way. The interpretation of his understanding of persuasion is controversial in research.

On the one hand, Plato expects the entire population to become virtuous and remain in this state thanks to the incessant moral education; on the other hand, his legal work provides for a sophisticated system of controls to detect misconduct. He attaches great importance to the fact that citizens should report violations of the law.

A central element of Platonic philosophy, the theory of ideas , is not expressly addressed in the nomoi . In research there are different opinions as to whether the philosopher still represented this concept in his last works. A clear majority of philosophical historians assume that the doctrine of ideas is implicitly present in the nomoi .

The relationship between the Nomoi and Plato's Dialog Politeia (“The State”) has long been the subject of intense research. Aristotle reports that the Politeia was written before the Nomoi . According to a widespread interpretation, Plato had to recognize that the form of government recommended in the Politeia without private property and family, which he considered to be the best, was not accepted and was unrealistic. Thereupon he wrote the nomoi as a representation of the "second best state". Accordingly, this late work is to be interpreted as an expression of his resignation in old age. The resignation hypothesis has also met with contradiction. According to the opposite interpretation, the old Plato was confident about the willingness of the citizens to permanently submit to sensible rules; his draft legislation is based on an optimistic attitude. It is controversial whether the Nomoi rather mark a renunciation of the concept of the Politeia or represent its further development.

On various occasions the role of the Night Gathering has been misunderstood by comparing its powers with those of the philosophical rulers in the Politeia , whose power is unrestricted. Recent research emphasizes that the Night Gathering is subject to the rule of law.

Herwig Görgemanns tried to explain the special position of the nomoi in Plato's oeuvre with the hypothesis that they should not be regarded as a strictly philosophical work. The target audience is a broader public and especially the youth.

Time of origin and question of authenticity

The extraordinary scope of the dialogue suggests a longer period of creation. There are signs of drafting at different stages. One line of research assumes that Plato wrote a draft or an early version ("Proto-Laws") as early as the 360s; The impetus for this would have been his efforts at the time to introduce a constitution in Syracuse, which was shaped by philosophical ideas . It is generally accepted in research that the nomoi in their traditional form belonged to Plato's last creative period. Language statistical research results are also used for late dating. It is widely believed that this is the last work of the philosopher. A clue for the dating is the mention of the subjugation of Lokroi by Syracuse, probably 352 BC. Took place a few years before Plato's death.

Weighty indications, including discrepancies in content, indicate that Plato did not complete the Nomoi . It is possible that the surviving version is a version revised by a third party. The historian of philosophy Diogenes Laertios mentions a tradition according to which Plato's pupil Philip of Opus rewrote the nomoi recorded on wax tablets . What exactly is meant by this is unclear, but in any case it should be an indication of the incomplete work at Plato's death. Probably after the death of the author Philippos made the authoritative copy for the subsequent period and published this text. It is unknown whether he made any substantive changes; this question is assessed differently in research. The assumption that Philip made a substantial contribution to the traditional version in terms of content was put forward in the 19th century and has found supporters again in recent times. According to this hypothesis, the nomoi are "semi-authentic".

The common division of the Nomoi into twelve books does not come from Plato. It is attributed to Philip of Opus from a tradition attested only in the Middle Ages, but is probably not due to him, but only after the 4th century BC. Was introduced.



The aftermath of the Nomoi in antiquity was considerable. Perhaps Plato's contemporary Isocrates already paid attention to the work. Aristotle , who was critical of the dialogue, put together a collection of excerpts from the extensive text. In his politics he wrongly counted the nomoi among the dialogues in which Socrates participated; perhaps he was familiar with a version in which Socrates appears, but it is likely that his expression was imprecise. Aristotle brought the Nomoi close to the Politeia ; he considered the two works to be largely identical. He found the number of around 5,000 citizens who are capable of arms, proposed by the Athenian, too high, because since the citizens are not productively active, a multiple number of women and servants is required for their livelihood, which requires a large territory. Another problem is the unchangeability of the number of households, even with a growing number of children. Plato had called for a mixed constitution, but the monarchical element was not represented; in addition, the democratic part is unfavorable and the oligarchic part dominates. For a long time, Books 7 and 8 of Aristotle's Politics are shaped by his engagement with the Nomoi .

The author of the dialogue Epinomis - according to current research probably Philippos von Opus - conceived his work as a continuation of the Nomoi . So he made the same three people appear as Plato: the Athenians, Kleinias and Megillos. Like Plato, he gave the Athenian the main role. In some details, however, he deviated from the view taken by Plato's Athenians in the Nomoi .

In the 3rd century BC The stoic Persaios wrote a critical treatise on the Nomoi in seven books.

The stoic Poseidonios disapproved of Plato's demand that the legislature should add explanatory and justifying prefaces to the laws with fundamental considerations. Poseidonios thought that a law should rather be short and not discuss, but only command.

In his work De legibus (“On the Laws”), Cicero imitated Plato's nomoi in formal terms, he followed their arrangement in the scenery and dramaturgy and also took some details from them. He shared Plato's conviction that the legislature not only had to announce its decisions in an orderly manner, but also to make them understandable in prefaces to the individual laws. In terms of content, however, Cicero did not follow the nomoi concept .

In the tetralogical order of the works of Plato, which apparently in the 1st century BC Was introduced, the nomoi belong to the ninth tetralogy. The philosophy historian Diogenes Laertios counted them among the “political” writings and gave “On Legislation” as an alternative title. In doing so, he referred to a now-lost script by the Middle Platonist Thrasyllos .

The Jewish historian Flavius ​​Josephus praised individual provisions of the Nomoi in his work Contra Apionem .

In his aviation satire Ikaromenippos, Lukian had Iuppiter , the father of the gods, say that no more sacrifices would be made to him and that his altars were colder than Plato's nomoi .

The anti-philosophically minded scholar Athenaios also attacked the concept of nomoi as part of his polemic against Plato . It is unrealistic and therefore useless. Such legislation is not suitable for real people, but only for those whom the author imagined in his imagination. Therefore, the Athenians laughed at the constitutional project and nobody is thinking of implementing it.

With the late ancient Neo-Platonists , the nomoi did not belong to the canon of works that were dealt with in philosophy lessons. Her interest in dialogue was primarily directed towards the metaphysical subject matter dealt with in Book 10. The Neoplatonist Syrianos wrote a commentary on the tenth book that has not survived. The author of the anonymously handed down late antique "Prolegomena to the Philosophy of Plato", who referred to the Neo-Platonist Proclus , reported a tradition according to which Plato left the Nomoi , his last work, uncorrected and in disorder when he died. For this reason, according to tradition, Philip of Opus had to revise the manuscript.

Even in church writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Theodoret who found Nomoi attention. Christian apologists made use of the theological explanations in Book 10 of the Dialogue for their own purposes.

The ancient text tradition is limited to a few papyrus fragments from the Roman Empire .

middle Ages

The beginning of the nomoi in the oldest surviving medieval manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Gr. 1807 (9th century)

The oldest surviving medieval Nomoi manuscript originated in the 9th century in the Byzantine Empire . In the 11th century Gregorios Magistros made an Armenian translation. The Nomoi were unknown to the Latin-speaking scholars of the West in the Middle Ages.

It is unclear whether the entire text of the dialogue was available in the Arabic-speaking area. In the 10th century, the scholar ibn an-Nadīm reported in his Kitāb al-Fihrist that there were two translations of the Nomoi , one by Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq (9th century) and one by Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (10th century). Yaḥyā certainly translated into Arabic, Ḥunain possibly into Syrian . Research doubts that these were actually translations of the entire dialogue; perhaps only an ancient summary of the contents was available to the translators. The influential philosopher al-Fārābī wrote a "Summary of the Nomoi Plato" (Talkhīs nawāmīs Aflātūn) , limiting himself to the first nine books, since he did not have the rest.

The Byzantine Platonist Georgios Gemistos Plethon († 1452) dealt with the Nomoi . A copy from his possession, in which he made arbitrary interventions in the text, testifies to his idiosyncratic approach to the legacy of the ancient philosopher, which he wanted to make fruitful for the present. Gemistos described his own constitutional theory in his only partially preserved main work Nómōn syngraphḗ (“ Explain the Laws”, Nómoi for short “The Laws”). With the title, he already tied in with the Platonic dialogue, whose ideas he was inspired by.

Early modern age

The beginning of the Nomoi in the first edition, Venice 1513

In the west, the nomoi were rediscovered in the age of Renaissance humanism . The first Latin translation was made by the humanist Georgios Trapezuntios 1450–1451 , who was strongly anti-Platonic, at the request of Pope Nicholas V ; it is very free and flawed. In 1458 Georgios wrote Comparatio philosophorum Platonis et Aristotelis ("Comparison of the Philosophers Plato and Aristotle"), in which he exercised fundamental criticism of the concept of nomoi : It was inflexible, unnatural and at the outset misguided to ignore the disapproval of the pursuit of wealth human nature, besides such a poor and small state is not militarily viable. The Platonist Bessarion published a reply in 1469, the text In calumniatorem Platonis ("Against the slanderer of Plato"). In their fifth book he went into detail on Georgios' criticism of the Nomoi and accused him of hundreds of errors.

The second translation into Latin is by Marsilio Ficino . He published it in Florence in 1484 in the complete edition of his Plato translations. The first edition of the Greek text was published in Venice by Aldo Manuzio in September 1513 as part of the complete edition of Plato's works published by Markos Musuros .

The reformer Johannes Calvin (1509–1564) referred to the marionette parable in his influential work Institutio Christianae religionis . His ideas about the constitution of state and church show similarities with the ideas of the Nomoi .

The state theorist Jean Bodin did not consider the nomoi model to be a mixed constitution, but a real democracy. He justified this assessment in his book Les six livres de la République , published in 1576, with the fact that Plato had assigned sovereignty to the popular assembly and also granted it the right to appoint and dismiss officials.


Literary aspects
The judgments about the literary quality are sometimes very critical. Friedrich Nietzsche remarked: "extremely sloppy composition, (...) boring stuttering dialogue". Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff found that the style was "everywhere artistically or, better, artificially formed, everywhere unfresh, often mannered, quite old style, and rightly often compared with that of the old Goethe". The reader will find the shell hard and not always an edible core in it. Even Gerhard Mueller said that artificiality is an essential train of Laws ; there is an abundance of poorly constructed sentences and sentence systems in the work. Egil A. Wyller characterized the presentation as rambling and often pedantically awkward. Olof Gigon objected to an "unlikely complexity in all formulations", a "ceremonial delicacy", which, however, can be explained by the fact that the author wanted to recreate the language of old men. Franz von Kutschera found the style disturbing; he is mannered and that often comes at the expense of clarity.

Other scholars judged the literary quality more positively. Georg Picht took up the comparison with the style and language of the late Goethe in a laudatory sense. Klaus Schöpsdau said that the dialogue needed to be admired for its inner coherence and obvious systematics.

Political and philosophical aspects
The political and philosophical content of the work has been assessed ambiguously in the modern age. Eduard Zeller emphasized that Plato had sought to mediate between his philosophical ideal and the realizable; from this point of view, the value of writing is not insignificant. It testifies to the maturity of the judgment and was "executed in all its basic features with consistent understanding". Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff found much to criticize. He stated that the draft constitution was very sketchy and unfinished, that there were a number of contradictions, that the statements about drinking wine were strange and meaningless. He saw a major deficiency in the static character of society, especially in the lack of scientific research that would make progress possible. Citizens who had to live their lives in the recommended way were threatened with boredom. Karl Praechter emphasized the doctrine of the constitutional mixture with which Plato had opened a world-historically significant path. The greater attention paid to the empirical in comparison with the Politeia , especially in the historical sections of the dialogue, points in the direction that Aristotle later took. Werner Jaeger judged similarly , who also emphasized the "consideration for experience" and stated a methodical proximity to Aristotle. He felt that the whole work was devoted to building a vast system of education; their goal is "the overall human virtue, the full development of personality". Alfred Edward Taylor considered the Nomoi to be Plato's most mature work on the subjects which had always been the most important to him. Heinrich Dörrie was of the same opinion ; he wrote that in the nomoi one did not see “the faint conclusion of an already fulfilled life, but its undeniable coronation”. Franz von Kutschera praised the insight that the definition of a state goal must be the starting point of every political system. He noted that today's legislators could benefit a lot from this. In most constitutions, the goal is missing or incomplete. Like Wilamowitz, Klaus Schöpsdau also points out the problem of the prohibition of innovations, which must lead to a complete solidification of intellectual life.

Already in the 19th century the pronounced "authoritarian" features of the law, which have been denounced again and again, gave rise to severe criticism. Above all, the comprehensive mandate of the state to educate citizens morally, including with coercive measures, is perceived as offensive. These include the deep interference of the authorities in the personal sphere of citizens' lives, the severity of the criminal provisions (especially the death penalty for a number of offenses) and the control and surveillance system including encouragement to denounce . Critics judge all of this to be repressive or even totalitarian ; they compare Plato's state of law with the Inquisition and with modern totalitarian systems. John Stuart Mill found in an essay published in 1866 that the strict suppression of undesirable opinions in magnesia was reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition under the notorious Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada . The religious philosopher Vladimir Sergejewitsch Solowjow called the Nomoi in 1898 a "direct rejection of Socrates and philosophy"; in Plato's life it was a "deep, tragic catastrophe". Francis M. Cornford took up the comparison with the Inquisition in 1935 and imagined that Socrates would have been brought to justice in the state of the Nomoi as well as in Athens. Karl Popper presented the charge of totalitarianism in detail and with particular emphasis . He sees the nomoi as the climax of Plato's betrayal of Socrates' convictions. In this dialogue Plato had "developed the theory of the Inquisition", there he was even more hostile to the spirit of democracy than in the Politeia .

Popper's interpretation has been criticized on various occasions as being one-sided and only partially accurate. He judges the nomoi draft constitution according to modern standards and against the background of modern conditions. A comparison of the Platonic model with the concrete reality of the Greek states of the time shows, however, that some traits that seem strange or totalitarian today were anchored in Greek society and were not perceived as offensive. In a detailed analysis Paul Veyne came to the conclusion that Plato only systematized and perfected the social and political reality of the time. Therefore, the Nomoi should not be viewed as a utopia, but as an extreme, but realistic political program in its ideas. This only stood out from the way of thinking and practice of contemporaries because of its consistency. Kai Trampedach , who takes a critical look at Veyne's work, admits the closeness to reality, but maintains that the planned settlement is a literary fiction despite the undeniable feasibility of some details. The nomoi did not contain any applicable political program. The non-feasible aspects include the intended self-sufficiency and extensive seclusion. The introduction of a “religion of reason” that satisfies philosophical claims as the foundation of the state is also utopian, because this is in fact incompatible with the mythically based Greek popular belief. Religion cannot be planned.

Editions and translations

  • Gunther Eigler (Ed.): Platon: Works in eight volumes , Volume 8, Parts 1 and 2, 4th edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-19095-5 (reprint of the critical edition by Édouard des Places and Auguste Diès; translation by Klaus Schöpsdau).
  • Klaus Schöpsdau (translator): Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary (= Ernst Heitsch et al. (Hrsg.): Platon: Werke. Translation and Commentary , Volume IX 2). 3 volumes, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1994–2011, ISBN 3-525-30433-1 (volume 1), ISBN 3-525-30434-X (volume 2), ISBN 3-525-30435-8 (volume 3) .
  • Otto Apelt (translator): Plato: Laws . In: Otto Apelt (Ed.): Platon: Complete Dialogues , Vol. 7, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 (translation with introduction and explanations; reprint of the Leipzig 1916 edition).
  • Eduard Eyth (translator): The laws . In: Erich Loewenthal (Ed.): Platon: Complete Works in Three Volumes , Vol. 3, unchanged reprint of the 8th, revised edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17918-8 , pp. 215–663 .
  • Rudolf Rufener (translator): Plato: The Laws (= anniversary edition of all works , vol. 7). Artemis, Zurich / Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-3640-2 (with an introduction by Olof Gigon).


Overview representations

Monographs and Commentaries

  • Seth Benardete : Plato's "Laws". The Discovery of Being. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2000, ISBN 0-226-04271-5 .
  • Helmut Mai: Plato's estate. On the philosophical dimension of the nomoi . Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-495-48682-5 .
  • Glenn R. Morrow: Plato's Cretan City. A Historical Interpretation of the Laws . 2nd edition, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1993, ISBN 0-691-02484-7 .
  • Marcel Piérart: Platon et la cité grecque. Théorie et réalité dans la Constitution des Lois. 2nd, expanded edition, Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-251-18107-3 (deals in particular with the historical models of Plato's concept).
  • Ernst Sandvoss: Soteria. Philosophical Foundations of Platonic Legislation . Musterschmidt, Göttingen 1971.
  • Richard F. Stalley: An Introduction to Plato's Laws . Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1983, ISBN 0-631-13399-2 .
  • Peter M. Steiner: Plato: Laws X . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-05-002356-2 (Greek text based on the edition by Auguste Diès, translation and commentary).

Collections of articles

  • Christopher Bobonich (Ed.): Plato's Laws. A critical guide . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2010, ISBN 978-0-521-88463-1 .
  • Christoph Horn (Ed.): Plato: Laws - Nomoi. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-05-006022-4 .
  • Francisco L. Lisi (Ed.): Plato's Laws and its historical Significance. Selected Papers of the I International Congress on Ancient thought Salamanca, 1998 . Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2001, ISBN 3-89665-115-3 .
  • Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice. Proceedings of the VI Symposium Platonicum. Selected papers . Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2003, ISBN 3-89665-261-3 .
  • Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): The rule of laws and the rule of man - Plato's "Nomoi" (= political thinking. Yearbook 2008 ). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-428-12913-3 .


  • Trevor J. Saunders, Luc Brisson: Bibliography on Plato's Laws . Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin 2000, ISBN 3-89665-172-2 .

Web links


  1. Plato, Laws 625a-b, 683c.
  2. ^ Glenn R. Morrow: Plato's Cretan City , 2nd edition, Princeton 1993, pp. 27 f .; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 155. Cf. Katja Sporn : Sanctuaries and Cults of Crete in Classical and Hellenistic Times , Heidelberg 2002, pp. 218-223.
  3. ^ Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 103, 155 f.
  4. Plato, Laws 625b-c.
  5. Olof Gigon: Introduction . In: Plato: The Laws (= anniversary edition of all works , vol. 7), Zurich / Munich 1974, p. XI f.
  6. Plato, Laws 860E.
  7. Plato, Nomoi 848d, 919d; see. 704c.
  8. Glenn R. Morrow: Plato's Cretan City , 2nd edition, Princeton 1993, pp. 30 f., 95; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 140–142; Marcel Piérart: Platon et la cité grecque , 2nd, expanded edition, Paris 2008, pp. 9–12.
  9. ^ Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 102 f.
  10. Plato, Laws 702c.
  11. Xenophon, Hellenika 3,4,6.
  12. Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 197 f.
  13. Plato, Laws 642b-c.
  14. Plato, Laws 639D.
  15. Aristotle, Politics 1264b – 1265a; Cicero, De legibus 1,15 (where the Athenian is equated with Plato); Diogenes Laertios 3.52; Papyrus Oxyrhynchos 3219, Fragment 2 (edited and translated by Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes : Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987, pp. 140 f.); Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 106 f .; Glenn R. Morrow: Plato's Cretan City , 2nd edition, Princeton 1993, pp. 74 f., 573; Georg Picht: Plato's dialogues "Nomoi" and "Symposion" , Stuttgart 1990, p. 76 f.
  16. Debra Nails and Holger Thesleff suspect an “academic accumulation” - creation of the traditional version in several phases with the participation of several editors : Early academic editing: Plato's Laws . In: Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 14-29.
  17. Plato, Nomoi 624a-627b. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Teilband 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 153-163.
  18. Plato, Nomoi 627c-633a. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Teilband 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 163-192.
  19. Plato, Nomoi 633a-636e.
  20. See also Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 206.
  21. Plato, Nomoi 636e-643a.
  22. Plato, Laws 643b-645c. Cf. Jörn Müller : The human being as a puppet: psychology and action theory . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon : etze - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 45–66; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Teilband 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 222-239.
  23. Plato, Laws 645c-650b.
  24. Plato, Laws 652a-c.
  25. Plato, Laws 652c-656b. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 253-276.
  26. Plato, Laws 656b-674c.
  27. Plato, Nomoi 676a – c.
  28. Plato, Nomoi 677a-680e. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 354-369.
  29. Plato, Nomoi 680e – 682e. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 369-379.
  30. Plato, Laws 682e-692c. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Origin and Decay of States (III 676a1–702e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Gesetz - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 67–86, here: 73–80.
  31. Plato, Laws 692d-701c. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Origin and Decay of States (III 676a1–702e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon : etze - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 67–86, here: 80–83.
  32. Plato, Laws 701c-702b.
  33. Plato, Laws 702b-e.
  34. Plato, Nomoi 704a-712a. Cf. Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 137–178.
  35. Plato, Laws 712b-715d. For the mixed constitution see Henning Ottmann : Platons Mischverfassungslehre . In: Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): The rule of laws and the rule of people - Plato's “Nomoi” (= Political Thinking. Yearbook 2008 ), Berlin 2008, pp. 33–42.
  36. To measure, see Shahriar Sharafat: Elements of Plato's Anthropologie in den Nomoi , Frankfurt 1998, pp. 75–78.
  37. Plato, Nomoi 715e-718a. See for adaptation to the deity Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 204–212. See Ernst Sandvoss: Soteria. Philosophical Foundations of Platonic Legislation , Göttingen 1971, pp. 19–49.
  38. Plato, Nomoi 718a-724b. See Herwig Görgemanns: Contributions to the interpretation of Plato's Nomoi , Munich 1960, pp. 30–71.
  39. Plato, Nomoi 726a-732d.
  40. Plato, Laws 732d-734e.
  41. Plato, Nomoi 734e-738d, 740b.
  42. Plato, Nomoi 739a-740a.
  43. See Kenneth Royce Moore: Sex and the Second-Best City. Sex and Society in the Laws of Plato , New York 2005, pp. 128-131.
  44. See Malcolm Schofield: Friendship and justice in the Laws . In: George Boys-Stones u. a. (Ed.): The Platonic Art of philosophy , Cambridge 2013, pp. 283-297.
  45. Plato, Nomoi 739e-745b.
  46. Plato, Laws 745b-747E.
  47. Plato, Nomoi 751a-754d.
  48. Plato, Nomoi 752e-755b. For the electoral process, see Klaus Schöpsdau: Platon: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 2, Göttingen 2003, pp. 367–377.
  49. Plato, Nomoi 755b-d.
  50. Plato, Laws 755D-756b.
  51. Plato, Laws 756b-758D.
  52. Plato, Laws 758e-768e.
  53. Plato, Laws 765d-766c.
  54. On the framework in which later changes to the legislation may be considered, see Jean-Marie Bertrand: De l'écriture à l'oralité. Lectures des Lois de Platon , Paris 1999, pp. 239-247; Christopher Bobonich: Plato's Utopia Recast , Oxford 2002, pp. 395-408; Susan B. Levin: Politics and Medicine: Plato's Final Word Part I . In: Polis. The Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought 27, 2010, pp. 1–24, here: 12 f.
  55. Plato, Laws 769a-771a.
  56. Plato, Nomoi 771a-780c.
  57. Plato, Laws 780d-785b. Cf. Manuel Knoll: The Status of Citizens, Women, Strangers and Slaves in Magnesia . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon :etze - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 143–164, here: 150–153.
  58. Plato, Laws 788a-795d.
  59. Plato, Laws 795d-808d.
  60. Plato, Nomoi 803b – c. Emmanuelle Jouët-Pastré examines the importance of playing within the framework of the nomoi’s life plan: Le jeu et le sérieux dans les Lois de Platon , Sankt Augustin 2006.
  61. See Georg Picht: Plato's Dialogues “Nomoi” and “Symposion” , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 33–38; Karsten Kenklies: The pedagogy of the social and the ethos of reason , Jena 2007, pp. 281–285.
  62. Plato, Laws 808d-824a.
  63. Plato, Nomoi 817a-d.
  64. Plato, Nomoi 828a-835b.
  65. Plato, Laws 835c-842a.
  66. See also Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 112.
  67. Plato, Nomoi 842b-850d.
  68. Plato, Nomoi 853a-854a.
  69. Plato, Nomoi 854a-857b.
  70. Plato, Nomoi 857b-863a; see. 854c, 854e-855a. See Trevor J. Saunders: Plato's Penal Code , Oxford 1991, pp. 181-183.
  71. Plato, Laws 860c-864c. See Wolfgang M. Zeitler: Freedom of choice in Platon , Munich 1983, pp. 146–161; Christoph Horn: "Nobody acts bad voluntarily". Moral intellectualism in Plato's nomoi? In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.): Understanding Platon , Darmstadt 2004, pp. 168–182; Lewis Trelawny-Cassity: Tēn Tou Aristou Doxan: On the Theory and Practice of Punishment in Plato's Laws . In: Polis. The Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought 27, 2010, pp. 222-239; Francisco L. Lisi: Nemo sua sponte peccat . In: Barbara Zehnpfennig (ed.): The rule of laws and the rule of man - Plato's “Nomoi” (= Political Thinking. Yearbook 2008 ), Berlin 2008, pp. 87–107; Eckart Schütrumpf : Laws and criminal law . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon : Gesetz - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 189–207, here: 197–207.
  72. Plato, Laws 864c-882c. See Trevor J. Saunders: Plato's Penal Code , Oxford 1991, pp. 217-267.
  73. Plato, Laws 909D-910d.
  74. Plato, Nomoi 885b-e; see. 890b-891b. For the reasoning, see Luc Brisson: Reason, Nature and Law in Book 10 of Plato's Laws . In: Aleš Havlíček, Filip Karfík (ed.): The Republic and the Laws of Plato , Prague 1998, pp. 182–200; Michael Bordt : Platons Theologie , Freiburg / Munich 2006, pp. 187–237.
  75. Plato, Nomoi 885e-888d.
  76. Plato, Laws 888E-890a.
  77. Plato, Laws 891b-893a.
  78. Plato, Nomoi 893b-896e.
  79. Plato, Nomoi 896e – 899d.
  80. Plato, Nomoi 899d-900b.
  81. Plato, Laws 900b-905d.
  82. Michael Hoffmann: The emergence of order , Stuttgart 1996, pp. 211–215, 299–312; Shahriar Sharafat: Elements of Plato's Anthropology in the Nomoi , Frankfurt 1998, pp. 78–82.
  83. Plato, Laws 905d-907b.
  84. Plato, Nomoi 907b-910d; see. 885c-e.
  85. Damir Barbarić: The origin of godlessness . In: Dietmar Koch u. a. (Ed.): Plato and the Divine , Tübingen 2010, pp. 30–41, here: 32 f.
  86. Plato, Laws 910d-922a. Regarding the renunciation of commercial activity, see Susan Sauvé Meyer: The moral dangers of labor and commerce in Plato's Laws . In: Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 207-214.
  87. Plato, Nomoi 922a-932d.
  88. Plato, Laws 932d-960b.
  89. ^ Plato, Nomoi 945a-948b. See also Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Volume 3, Göttingen 2011, pp. 534–544.
  90. Plato, Nomoi 960b-969c.
  91. Plato, Nomoi 969c – d.
  92. See also Christopher Bobonich: Persuasion, Compulsion and Freedom in Plato's Laws . In: The Classical Quarterly 41, 1991, pp. 365-388; Thanassis Samaras: Plato on Democracy , New York 2002, pp. 310-318.
  93. An overview of the research opinions is provided by Eva Buccioni: Revisiting the Controversial Nature of Persuasion in Plato's Laws . In: Polis. The Journal of the Society for the Study of Greek Political Thought 24, 2007, pp. 262-283. Buccioni thinks that Plato's persuasion includes the use of various means.
  94. ^ Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 120.
  95. See also Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Volume 2, Göttingen 2003, p. 264 f.
  96. William KC Guthrie : A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 5, Cambridge 1978, pp. 378-381; Thanassis Samaras: Plato on Democracy , New York 2002, pp. 271-284; Ada Babette Hentschke: Politics and Philosophy in Plato and Aristoteles , 2nd edition, Frankfurt 2004, p. 166 f .; Shahriar Sharafat: Elements of Plato's Anthropology in the Nomoi , Frankfurt 1998, pp. 70–74.
  97. Aristotle, Politics 1264b.
  98. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, pp. 278, 281; Luc Brisson: Lois . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 1, Paris 2012, pp. 821–828, here: 821; Mark J. Lutz: Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato's Laws , DeKalb (Illinois) 2012, pp. 33–35.
  99. ^ Ada Babette Hentschke: Politics and Philosophy in Plato and Aristoteles , 2nd edition, Frankfurt 2004, pp. 163–166, 284–288; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, pp. 279, 281. Cf. André Laks: Platon's legislative utopia . In: Enno Rudolph (Ed.): Polis and Kosmos , Darmstadt 1996, pp. 43–54; Christoph Horn: Political Philosophy in Plato's Nomoi - The Problem of Continuity and Discontinuity . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon :etze - Nomoi , Berlin 2013, pp. 1–21.
  100. Thanassis Samaras: Plato on Democracy , New York 2002, pp. 285-301.
  101. Herwig Görgemanns: Contributions to the interpretation of Platon's Nomoi , Munich 1960, pp. 70 f., 80 f., 105-109.
  102. Debra Nails, Holger Thesleff: Early academic editing: Plato's Laws . In: Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 14-29.
  103. ^ Paul Friedländer : Platon , Vol. 3, 3rd, revised edition, Berlin 1975, p. 360 f .; Gilbert Ryle : Plato's Progress , Cambridge 1966, pp. 65, 82, 88 f., 99-101, 256-259; Holger Thesleff: Platonic Patterns , Las Vegas 2009, pp. 333 f., 348 f .; Georg Picht: Plato's Dialogues "Nomoi" and "Symposion" , Stuttgart 1990, p. 21. Cf. George Klosko: The Development of Plato's Political Theory , New York 1986, p. 198.
  104. Gerard R. Ledger: Recounting Plato , Oxford 1989, pp. 204 f., 225; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 136 f.
  105. Plato, Nomoi 638a-b; see Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 135, 209.
  106. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, pp. 278–280.
  107. Diogenes Laertios 3.37. See Tiziano Dorandi: Looking over the shoulder of the authors . In: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 87, 1991, pp. 11–33, here: 31 f .; Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, p. 130; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 278.
  108. Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, pp. 128-133; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Teilband 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 140-142; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 5, Cambridge 1978, pp. 321 f .; John Dillon : The Heirs of Plato , Oxford 2003, p. 182.
  109. Debra Nails, Holger Thesleff: Early academic editing: Plato's Laws . In: Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 14–29, here: 14, 16 f. (and note 17), 29.
  110. Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, p. 129 f.
  111. ^ Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, p. 131, note 550; Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 142 f.
  112. Diogenes Laertios 5:22.
  113. Aristotle, Politics 1265a; see the commentary by Eckart Schütrumpf: Aristoteles: Politik. Part II (= Aristotle: Works in German Translation , Vol. 9/2), Darmstadt 1991, p. 221 f .; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 5, Cambridge 1978, p. 323 Note 2. See Debra Nails, Holger Thesleff: Early academic editing: Plato's Laws . In: Samuel Scolnicov, Luc Brisson (eds.): Plato's Laws: From Theory into Practice , Sankt Augustin 2003, pp. 14–29, here: p. 17 and note 20.
  114. Aristotle, Politics 1265a – 1266b. See the commentary by Eckart Schütrumpf: Aristoteles: Politik. Part II (= Aristotle: Works in German Translation , Vol. 9/2), Darmstadt 1991, pp. 216–237 and Glenn W. Morrow: Aristotle's comments on Plato's Laws . In: Ingemar Düring , Gwilym Ellis Lane Owen (ed.): Aristotle and Plato in the Mid-Fourth Century , Göteborg 1960, pp. 145–162.
  115. ^ Malcolm Schofield: The Laws' two projects . In: Christopher Bobonich (Ed.): Plato's Laws , Cambridge 2010, pp. 12–28, here: 12–15.
  116. Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, pp. 72-79, 131 f.
  117. Diogenes Laertios 7.36.
  118. Poseidonios, fragment 451, ed. Willy Theiler : Poseidonios: The Fragments , Vol. 1: Texts , Berlin 1982, p. 372.
  119. See Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1987, pp. 212–217, 490–495.
  120. Diogenes Laertios 3: 57-60.
  121. Flavius ​​Josephus, Contra Apionem 2,36,257; see Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, pp. 196 f., 486 f.
  122. Lukian, Ikaromenippos 24.
  123. Athenaios 11,507f-508b.
  124. ^ John Dillon: The Neoplatonic Reception of Plato's Laws . In: Francisco L. Lisi (Ed.): Plato's Laws and its historical Significance , Sankt Augustin 2001, pp. 243-254, here: 243, 254.
  125. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 208.
  126. Prolegomena to the philosophy of Plato 10,24,13-19 and 10,25,4-8, ed. von Leendert Gerrit Westerink : Prolégomènes à la philosophie de Platon , Paris 1990, p. 37. Cf. Leonardo Tarán: Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis , Philadelphia 1975, p. 128 f.
  127. Édouard des Places: Le Platon de Théodoret . In: Revue des Études grecques 68, 1955, pp. 171-184.
  128. ^ Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini (CPF) , Part 1, Vol. 1 ***, Firenze 1999, pp. 118-135.
  129. ^ Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Gr. 1807. For the text transmission see Klaus Schöpsdau: Platon: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Teilband 1, Göttingen 1994, pp. 143-145.
  130. ^ Klaus Schöpsdau: Plato: Nomoi (laws). Translation and Commentary , Part 1, Göttingen 1994, p. 144.
  131. ^ Joshua Parens: Metaphysics as Rhetoric. Alfarabi's Summary of Plato's "Laws" , Albany 1995, pp. XXIX f.
  132. George Tamer: Comments on al-Fārābīs "Summary of the Platonic Nomoi" . In: Andreas Eckl, Clemens Kauffmann (eds.): Politischer Platonismus , Würzburg 2008, pp. 53–62, here: 54 f. Cf. Dimitri Gutas : Plato. Tradition arabe . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5/1, Paris 2012, pp. 845–863, here: 852 f.
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  158. John Stuart Mill: Grote's Plato . In: John Stuart Mill: Collected Works , Vol. 11: Essays on Philosophy and the Classics , Toronto 1978, pp. 375-440, here: 415.
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  161. ^ Karl Popper: The open society and their enemies , Vol. 1, 7th edition, Tübingen 1992, pp. 231, 267.
  162. See, for example, Richard F. Stalley: An Introduction to Plato's Laws , Oxford 1983, pp. 179-185. Cf. Kai Trampedach: Plato, the Academy and contemporary politics , Stuttgart 1994, p. 236, note 37.
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  164. Kai Trampedach: Platon, the Academy and contemporary politics , Stuttgart 1994, pp. 246-254.
  165. Laks published a revised French version in his monograph Médiation et coercition. Pour une lecture des Lois de Platon , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2005, pp. 15–92.
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