Monday, May 21, 2012

Plato on Marriage


I dodged a bullet, but only by a few years...

A man must marry between the ages of thirty and thirty-five, reflecting that there is a sense in which nature has not only somehow endowed the human race with a degree of immortality, but also planted in us all a longing to achieve it, which we express in every way we can. One expression of that longing is the desire for fame and the wish not to lie nameless in the grave. Thus mankind is by nature a companion of eternity, and is linked to it, and will be linked to it, for ever. Mankind is immortal because it always leaves later generations behind to preserve its unity and identity for all time: it gets it share of immortality by means of procreation. It is never a holy thing voluntarily to deny oneself this prize, and he who neglects to take a wife and have children does precisely that. So if a man obeys the law he will be allowed to go his way without penalty, but if a man disobeys, and reaches the age of thirty-five without having married, he must pay a yearly fine (of a sum to be specified- that ought to stop him thinking that life as a bachelor is all cake and beer!), and be deprived too of all the honors which the younger people in the state pay to their elders on the appropriate occasions.
-Plato, The Laws, 721.

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