We will not [says Socrates] then allow our charges, whom we expect to prove good men, being men, to play the parts of women and imitate a woman young or old wrangling with her husband, defying heaven, loudly boasting, fortunate in her own conceit, or involved in misfortune and possessed by grief and lamentation – still less a woman that is sick, in love, or in labor . . . Nor may they imitate slaves, female and male, doing the offices of slaves . . . Nor yet, as it seems, bad men who are cowards and who do the opposite of the things we just now spoke of [things done by men who are “brave, sober, pious, free”], reviling and lampooning one another, speaking foul words in their cups or when sober and in other ways sinning against themselves and others in word and deed after the fashion of such men.

This structure:"Less a woman" is new for me and I don't know what it means and meaning of "Nor" is unclear.

most of the time as I see "nor" comes with "neither".

Could you please make this sentence more clear to me?

This passage is from a book named:"On literature".

2 Answers 2


The expression still less is generally used to compare the less desirable of two options, as in:

I don't feel like going out in the rain, still less like going to the dentist.

In the passage you quote, Socrates (apparently) does not wish the men for whom he is (or they are) responsible to act like women.

More specifically, he does not wish men to imitate women engaging in argumentative or boastful behaviour, still less like women who are sick, in love or in labour.

That's to say, he thinks it worse that men should behave like women in the latter three groups than in the earlier two.

When he says still less a woman who is sick...., like is elided. The meaning is still less like a woman who is sick.

While nor often follows neither, it doesn't have to. Its use indicates a second negative. So it's quite possible to use nor or neither after any first negative, as in:

I don't much him him, neither/nor do I like his brother
I am not mowing the lawn, neither/nor am I painting the gate.

  • Many thanks. What do you mean by "He thinks it worse that men should behave like women in the latter three groups than in the earlier two." What do you mean by " three group" and "latter" and "earlier". Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 12:36

Let me explain you "neither" and "nor",

Neither the President nor the Vice-President came to the ceremony.

This sentence's meaning is President and Vice-President didn't come the ceremony.

You can use "nor" and "neither" like this:

neither he nor she

  • If you don't understand, I can give more examples to you.
    – sNexy
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 10:59
  • OP appears to understand the use of neither ... nor; it is the use of nor without neither that puzzles. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 13:45
  • "Explain you" is an English mistake here.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 18:18

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