Posted by Tod Lindberg on 9th May 2007
Telos 138, Spring 2007
Download PDF Version: The Oldest Law: Rediscovering the Minos
In the concluding section of the Minos (318c ff), Socrates praises the oldest law, that given to Crete by Minos, who in Socrates’s characterization obtained this law as a result of his status as confidant of Zeus, Minos’s father (319d–e).The law that is unchanging, permanent, is therefore the best law, and arguably the only law that truly reflects the “lawness” of law, other possible senses of law being incomplete, as the dialogue shows. There is, moreover, something divine about the character of the best law—though this divinity would seem to have little to do with its tenuous relationship to Zeus through Minos. Rather, it is a reflection of its permanence as such: the best law is eternal and therefore divine (not divine and therefore eternal).