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FROM PLATO'S DIALOGUE THE CRITIAS c 355 BC

Once upon a time the Gods divided up the Earth between them - mot in the course of a quarrel; for it would be quite wrong to think that the Gods do not know what is appropriate to them, or that, knowing it, they would want to annex what property belongs to others. Each gladly received his just allocation, and settled his territories; and having done so they proceeded to look after us, their creatures and children, as shepherds look after their flocks. They did not use physical means of control like shepherds who direct their flocks with blows, but brought their influence to bear on the creature's most sensitive part, using persuasion as a steersman uses the helm, to direct the mind as they saw fit and so guide the whole moral creature. The various Gods, then, administered the various regions which had been allotted to them. But Hephaestos and Athene, who shared as brother and sister a common character, and pursued the same ends in their love of knowledge and skill, were allotted this land of ours as their joint sphere and as a suitable and natural home for excellence and wisdom. They produced a native race of good men and gave them suitable political arrangements. Their names have been preserved but what they did has been forgotten because of the destruction of their successors and the long lapse of time. For as we said before, the survivors of this destruction were an unlettered mountain race who had just heard the names of the rulers of the land but knew little of their achievements. They were glad enough to give their names to their own children, but they knew nothing of the virtues and institutions of their predecessors, except for a few hazy reports; for many generations they and their children were short of bare necessities, and their minds and thoughts were occupied with providing for them, to the neglect of their earlier history and tradition. For an interest in the past and historical research came only when communities had leisure and when men were already provided with the necessities of life. That is how the names but not the achievements of these early generations came to be preserved.



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