The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Republic, by Plato (2023)

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Republic, by Plato

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Title: The Republic

Author: Plato

Translator: B. Jowett

Release Date: October, 1998 [eBook #1497]
[Most recently updated: September 11, 2021]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

Produced by: Sue Asscher and David Widger


By Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Note: See also “The Republic” by Plato, Jowett, eBook #150




The Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of theLaws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearer approaches tomodern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist; the Politicus orStatesman is more ideal; the form and institutions of the State are moreclearly drawn out in the Laws; as works of art, the Symposium and theProtagoras are of higher excellence. But no other Dialogue of Plato has thesame largeness of view and the same perfection of style; no other shows anequal knowledge of the world, or contains more of those thoughts which are newas well as old, and not of one age only but of all. Nowhere in Plato is there adeeper irony or a greater wealth of humour or imagery, or more dramatic power.Nor in any other of his writings is the attempt made to interweave life andspeculation, or to connect politics with philosophy. The Republic is the centrearound which the other Dialogues may be grouped; here philosophy reaches thehighest point (cp, especially in Books V, VI, VII) to which ancient thinkersever attained. Plato among the Greeks, like Bacon among the moderns, was thefirst who conceived a method of knowledge, although neither of them alwaysdistinguished the bare outline or form from the substance of truth; and both ofthem had to be content with an abstraction of science which was not yetrealized. He was the greatest metaphysical genius whom the world has seen; andin him, more than in any other ancient thinker, the germs of future knowledgeare contained. The sciences of logic and psychology, which have supplied somany instruments of thought to after-ages, are based upon the analyses ofSocrates and Plato. The principles of definition, the law of contradiction, thefallacy of arguing in a circle, the distinction between the essence andaccidents of a thing or notion, between means and ends, between causes andconditions; also the division of the mind into the rational, concupiscent, andirascible elements, or of pleasures and desires into necessary andunnecessary—these and other great forms of thought are all of them to befound in the Republic, and were probably first invented by Plato. The greatestof all logical truths, and the one of which writers on philosophy are most aptto lose sight, the difference between words and things, has been moststrenuously insisted on by him (cp. Rep.; Polit.; Cratyl. 435, 436 ff),although he has not always avoided the confusion of them in his own writings(e.g. Rep.). But he does not bind up truth in logical formulae,—logic isstill veiled in metaphysics; and the science which he imagines to‘contemplate all truth and all existence’ is very unlike thedoctrine of the syllogism which Aristotle claims to have discovered (Soph.Elenchi, 33. 18).

Neither must we forget that the Republic is but the third part of a stilllarger design which was to have included an ideal history of Athens, as well asa political and physical philosophy. The fragment of the Critias has givenbirth to a world-famous fiction, second only in importance to the tale of Troyand the legend of Arthur; and is said as a fact to have inspired some of theearly navigators of the sixteenth century. This mythical tale, of which thesubject was a history of the wars of the Athenians against the Island ofAtlantis, is supposed to be founded upon an unfinished poem of Solon, to whichit would have stood in the same relation as the writings of the logographers tothe poems of Homer. It would have told of a struggle for Liberty (cp. Tim. 25C), intended to represent the conflict of Persia and Hellas. We may judge fromthe noble commencement of the Timaeus, from the fragment of the Critias itself,and from the third book of the Laws, in what manner Plato would have treatedthis high argument. We can only guess why the great design was abandoned;perhaps because Plato became sensible of some incongruity in a fictitioushistory, or because he had lost his interest in it, or because advancing yearsforbade the completion of it; and we may please ourselves with the fancy thathad this imaginary narrative ever been finished, we should have found Platohimself sympathising with the struggle for Hellenic independence (cp. Laws,iii. 698 ff.), singing a hymn of triumph over Marathon and Salamis, perhapsmaking the reflection of Herodotus (v. 78) where he contemplates the growth ofthe Athenian empire—‘How brave a thing is freedom of speech, whichhas made the Athenians so far exceed every other state of Hellas ingreatness!’ or, more probably, attributing the victory to the ancientgood order of Athens and to the favor of Apollo and Athene (cp. Introd. toCritias).

Again, Plato may be regarded as the ‘captain’(‘arhchegoz’) or leader of a goodly band of followers; for in theRepublic is to be found the original of Cicero’s De Republica, of St.Augustine’s City of God, of the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, and of thenumerous other imaginary States which are framed upon the same model. Theextent to which Aristotle or the Aristotelian school were indebted to him inthe Politics has been little recognised, and the recognition is the morenecessary because it is not made by Aristotle himself. The two philosophers hadmore in common than they were conscious of; and probably some elements of Platoremain still undetected in Aristotle. In English philosophy too, manyaffinities may be traced, not only in the works of the Cambridge Platonists,but in great original writers like Berkeley or Coleridge, to Plato and hisideas. That there is a truth higher than experience, of which the mind bearswitness to herself, is a conviction which in our own generation has beenenthusiastically asserted, and is perhaps gaining ground. Of the Greek authorswho at the Renaissance brought a new life into the world Plato has had thegreatest influence. The Republic of Plato is also the first treatise uponeducation, of which the writings of Milton and Locke, Rousseau, Jean Paul, andGoethe are the legitimate descendants. Like Dante or Bunyan, he has arevelation of another life; like Bacon, he is profoundly impressed with theunity of knowledge; in the early Church he exercised a real influence ontheology, and at the Revival of Literature on politics. Even the fragments ofhis words when ‘repeated at second-hand’ (Symp. 215 D) have in allages ravished the hearts of men, who have seen reflected in them their ownhigher nature. He is the father of idealism in philosophy, in politics, inliterature. And many of the latest conceptions of modern thinkers andstatesmen, such as the unity of knowledge, the reign of law, and the equalityof the sexes, have been anticipated in a dream by him.

The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of whichis first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blameless old man—thendiscussed on the basis of proverbial morality by Socrates andPolemarchus—then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially explained bySocrates—reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus, and havingbecome invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State whichis constructed by Socrates. The first care of the rulers is to be education, ofwhich an outline is drawn after the old Hellenic model, providing only for animproved religion and morality, and more simplicity in music and gymnastic, amanlier strain of poetry, and greater harmony of the individual and the State.We are thus led on to the conception of a higher State, in which ‘no mancalls anything his own,’ and in which there is neither ‘marryingnor giving in marriage,’ and ‘kings are philosophers’ and‘philosophers are kings;’ and there is another and highereducation, intellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as well asof art, and not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State is hardlyto be realized in this world and quickly degenerates. To the perfect idealsucceeds the government of the soldier and the lover of honour, this againdeclining into democracy, and democracy into tyranny, in an imaginary butregular order having not much resemblance to the actual facts. When ‘thewheel has come full circle’ we do not begin again with a new period ofhuman life; but we have passed from the best to the worst, and there we end.The subject is then changed and the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy whichhad been more lightly treated in the earlier books of the Republic is nowresumed and fought out to a conclusion. Poetry is discovered to be an imitationthrice removed from the truth, and Homer, as well as the dramatic poets, havingbeen condemned as an imitator, is sent into banishment along with them. And theidea of the State is supplemented by the revelation of a future life.

The division into books, like all similar divisions (Cp. Sir G.C. Lewis in theClassical Museum, vol. ii. p 1.), is probably later than the age of Plato. Thenatural divisions are five in number;—(1) Book I and the first half ofBook II down to the paragraph beginning, ‘I had always admired the geniusof Glaucon and Adeimantus,’ which is introductory; the first bookcontaining a refutation of the popular and sophistical notions of justice, andconcluding, like some of the earlier Dialogues, without arriving at anydefinite result. To this is appended a restatement of the nature of justiceaccording to common opinion, and an answer is demanded to thequestion—What is justice, stripped of appearances? The second division(2) includes the remainder of the second and the whole of the third and fourthbooks, which are mainly occupied with the construction of the first State andthe first education. The third division (3) consists of the fifth, sixth, andseventh books, in which philosophy rather than justice is the subject ofenquiry, and the second State is constructed on principles of communism andruled by philosophers, and the contemplation of the idea of good takes theplace of the social and political virtues. In the eighth and ninth books (4)the perversions of States and of the individuals who correspond to them arereviewed in succession; and the nature of pleasure and the principle of tyrannyare further analysed in the individual man. The tenth book (5) is theconclusion of the whole, in which the relations of philosophy to poetry arefinally determined, and the happiness of the citizens in this life, which hasnow been assured, is crowned by the vision of another.

Or a more general division into two parts may be adopted; the first (Books I -IV) containing the description of a State framed generally in accordance withHellenic notions of religion and morality, while in the second (Books V - X)the Hellenic State is transformed into an ideal kingdom of philosophy, of whichall other governments are the perversions. These two points of view are reallyopposed, and the opposition is only veiled by the genius of Plato. TheRepublic, like the Phaedrus (see Introduction to Phaedrus), is an imperfectwhole; the higher light of philosophy breaks through the regularity of theHellenic temple, which at last fades away into the heavens. Whether thisimperfection of structure arises from an enlargement of the plan; or from theimperfect reconcilement in the writer’s own mind of the strugglingelements of thought which are now first brought together by him; or, perhaps,from the composition of the work at different times—are questions, likethe similar question about the Iliad and the Odyssey, which are worth asking,but which cannot have a distinct answer. In the age of Plato there was noregular mode of publication, and an author would have the less scruple inaltering or adding to a work which was known only to a few of his friends.There is no absurdity in supposing that he may have laid his labours aside fora time, or turned from one work to another; and such interruptions would bemore likely to occur in the case of a long than of a short writing. In allattempts to determine the chronological order of the Platonic writings oninternal evidence, this uncertainty about any single Dialogue being composed atone time is a disturbing element, which must be admitted to affect longerworks, such as the Republic and the Laws, more than shorter ones. But, on theother hand, the seeming discrepancies of the Republic may only arise out of thediscordant elements which the philosopher has attempted to unite in a singlewhole, perhaps without being himself able to recognise the inconsistency whichis obvious to us. For there is a judgment of after ages which few great writershave ever been able to anticipate for themselves. They do not perceive the wantof connexion in their own writings, or the gaps in their systems which arevisible enough to those who come after them. In the beginnings of literatureand philosophy, amid the first efforts of thought and language, moreinconsistencies occur than now, when the paths of speculation are well worn andthe meaning of words precisely defined. For consistency, too, is the growth oftime; and some of the greatest creations of the human mind have been wanting inunity. Tried by this test, several of the Platonic Dialogues, according to ourmodern ideas, appear to be defective, but the deficiency is no proof that theywere composed at different times or by different hands. And the suppositionthat the Republic was written uninterruptedly and by a continuous effort is insome degree confirmed by the numerous references from one part of the work toanother.

The second title, ‘Concerning Justice,’ is not the one by which theRepublic is quoted, either by Aristotle or generally in antiquity, and, likethe other second titles of the Platonic Dialogues, may therefore be assumed tobe of later date. Morgenstern and others have asked whether the definition ofjustice, which is the professed aim, or the construction of the State is theprincipal argument of the work. The answer is, that the two blend in one, andare two faces of the same truth; for justice is the order of the State, and theState is the visible embodiment of justice under the conditions of humansociety. The one is the soul and the other is the body, and the Greek ideal ofthe State, as of the individual, is a fair mind in a fair body. In Hegelianphraseology the state is the reality of which justice is the idea. Or,described in Christian language, the kingdom of God is within, and yetdevelopes into a Church or external kingdom; ‘the house not made withhands, eternal in the heavens,’ is reduced to the proportions of anearthly building. Or, to use a Platonic image, justice and the State are thewarp and the woof which run through the whole texture. And when theconstitution of the State is completed, the conception of justice is notdismissed, but reappears under the same or different names throughout the work,both as the inner law of the individual soul, and finally as the principle ofrewards and punishments in another life. The virtues are based on justice, ofwhich common honesty in buying and selling is the shadow, and justice is basedon the idea of good, which is the harmony of the world, and is reflected bothin the institutions of states and in motions of the heavenly bodies (cp. Tim.47). The Timaeus, which takes up the political rather than the ethical side ofthe Republic, and is chiefly occupied with hypotheses concerning the outwardworld, yet contains many indications that the same law is supposed to reignover the State, over nature, and over man.

Too much, however, has been made of this question both in ancient and moderntimes. There is a stage of criticism in which all works, whether of nature orof art, are referred to design. Now in ancient writings, and indeed inliterature generally, there remains often a large element which was notcomprehended in the original design. For the plan grows under theauthor’s hand; new thoughts occur to him in the act of writing; he hasnot worked out the argument to the end before he begins. The reader who seeksto find some one idea under which the whole may be conceived, must necessarilyseize on the vaguest and most general. Thus Stallbaum, who is dissatisfied withthe ordinary explanations of the argument of the Republic, imagines himself tohave found the true argument ‘in the representation of human life in aState perfected by justice, and governed according to the idea of good.’There may be some use in such general descriptions, but they can hardly be saidto express the design of the writer. The truth is, that we may as well speak ofmany designs as of one; nor need anything be excluded from the plan of a greatwork to which the mind is naturally led by the association of ideas, and whichdoes not interfere with the general purpose. What kind or degree of unity is tobe sought after in a building, in the plastic arts, in poetry, in prose, is aproblem which has to be determined relatively to the subject-matter. To Platohimself, the enquiry ‘what was the intention of the writer,’ or‘what was the principal argument of the Republic’ would have beenhardly intelligible, and therefore had better be at once dismissed (cp. theIntroduction to the Phaedrus).

Is not the Republic the vehicle of three or four great truths which, toPlato’s own mind, are most naturally represented in the form of theState? Just as in the Jewish prophets the reign of Messiah, or ‘the dayof the Lord,’ or the suffering Servant or people of God, or the‘Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings’ only convey, to usat least, their great spiritual ideals, so through the Greek State Platoreveals to us his own thoughts about divine perfection, which is the idea ofgood—like the sun in the visible world;—about human perfection,which is justice—about education beginning in youth and continuing inlater years—about poets and sophists and tyrants who are the falseteachers and evil rulers of mankind—about ‘the world’ whichis the embodiment of them—about a kingdom which exists nowhere upon earthbut is laid up in heaven to be the pattern and rule of human life. No suchinspired creation is at unity with itself, any more than the clouds of heavenwhen the sun pierces through them. Every shade of light and dark, of truth, andof fiction which is the veil of truth, is allowable in a work of philosophicalimagination. It is not all on the same plane; it easily passes from ideas tomyths and fancies, from facts to figures of speech. It is not prose but poetry,at least a great part of it, and ought not to be judged by the rules of logicor the probabilities of history. The writer is not fashioning his ideas into anartistic whole; they take possession of him and are too much for him. We haveno need therefore to discuss whether a State such as Plato has conceived ispracticable or not, or whether the outward form or the inward life came firstinto the mind of the writer. For the practicability of his ideas has nothing todo with their truth; and the highest thoughts to which he attains may be trulysaid to bear the greatest ‘marks of design’—justice more thanthe external frame-work of the State, the idea of good more than justice. Thegreat science of dialectic or the organisation of ideas has no real content;but is only a type of the method or spirit in which the higher knowledge is tobe pursued by the spectator of all time and all existence. It is in the fifth,sixth, and seventh books that Plato reaches the ‘summit ofspeculation,’ and these, although they fail to satisfy the requirementsof a modern thinker, may therefore be regarded as the most important, as theyare also the most original, portions of the work.

It is not necessary to discuss at length a minor question which has been raisedby Boeckh, respecting the imaginary date at which the conversation was held(the year 411 B.C. which is proposed by him will do as well as any other); fora writer of fiction, and especially a writer who, like Plato, is notoriouslycareless of chronology (cp. Rep., Symp., 193 A, etc.), only aims at generalprobability. Whether all the persons mentioned in the Republic could ever havemet at any one time is not a difficulty which would have occurred to anAthenian reading the work forty years later, or to Plato himself at the time ofwriting (any more than to Shakespeare respecting one of his own dramas); andneed not greatly trouble us now. Yet this may be a question having no answer‘which is still worth asking,’ because the investigation shows thatwe cannot argue historically from the dates in Plato; it would be uselesstherefore to waste time in inventing far-fetched reconcilements of them inorder to avoid chronological difficulties, such, for example, as the conjectureof C.F. Hermann, that Glaucon and Adeimantus are not the brothers but theuncles of Plato (cp. Apol. 34 A), or the fancy of Stallbaum that Platointentionally left anachronisms indicating the dates at which some of hisDialogues were written.

The principal characters in the Republic are Cephalus, Polemarchus,Thrasymachus, Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Cephalus appears in theintroduction only, Polemarchus drops at the end of the first argument, andThrasymachus is reduced to silence at the close of the first book. The maindiscussion is carried on by Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Among thecompany are Lysias (the orator) and Euthydemus, the sons of Cephalus andbrothers of Polemarchus, an unknown Charmantides—these are mute auditors;also there is Cleitophon, who once interrupts, where, as in the Dialogue whichbears his name, he appears as the friend and ally of Thrasymachus.

Cephalus, the patriarch of the house, has been appropriately engaged inoffering a sacrifice. He is the pattern of an old man who has almost done withlife, and is at peace with himself and with all mankind. He feels that he isdrawing nearer to the world below, and seems to linger around the memory of thepast. He is eager that Socrates should come to visit him, fond of the poetry ofthe last generation, happy in the consciousness of a well-spent life, glad athaving escaped from the tyranny of youthful lusts. His love of conversation,his affection, his indifference to riches, even his garrulity, are interestingtraits of character. He is not one of those who have nothing to say, becausetheir whole mind has been absorbed in making money. Yet he acknowledges thatriches have the advantage of placing men above the temptation to dishonesty orfalsehood. The respectful attention shown to him by Socrates, whose love ofconversation, no less than the mission imposed upon him by the Oracle, leadshim to ask questions of all men, young and old alike, should also be noted. Whobetter suited to raise the question of justice than Cephalus, whose life mightseem to be the expression of it? The moderation with which old age is picturedby Cephalus as a very tolerable portion of existence is characteristic, notonly of him, but of Greek feeling generally, and contrasts with theexaggeration of Cicero in the De Senectute. The evening of life is described byPlato in the most expressive manner, yet with the fewest possible touches. AsCicero remarks (Ep. ad Attic. iv. 16), the aged Cephalus would have been out ofplace in the discussion which follows, and which he could neither haveunderstood nor taken part in without a violation of dramatic propriety (cp.Lysimachus in the Laches).

His ‘son and heir’ Polemarchus has the frankness and impetuousnessof youth; he is for detaining Socrates by force in the opening scene, and willnot ‘let him off’ on the subject of women and children. LikeCephalus, he is limited in his point of view, and represents the proverbialstage of morality which has rules of life rather than principles; and he quotesSimonides (cp. Aristoph. Clouds) as his father had quoted Pindar. But afterthis he has no more to say; the answers which he makes are only elicited fromhim by the dialectic of Socrates. He has not yet experienced the influence ofthe Sophists like Glaucon and Adeimantus, nor is he sensible of the necessityof refuting them; he belongs to the pre-Socratic or pre-dialectical age. He isincapable of arguing, and is bewildered by Socrates to such a degree that hedoes not know what he is saying. He is made to admit that justice is a thief,and that the virtues follow the analogy of the arts. From his brother Lysias(contra Eratosth.) we learn that he fell a victim to the Thirty Tyrants, but noallusion is here made to his fate, nor to the circumstance that Cephalus andhis family were of Syracusan origin, and had migrated from Thurii to Athens.

The ‘Chalcedonian giant,’ Thrasymachus, of whom we have alreadyheard in the Phaedrus, is the personification of the Sophists, according toPlato’s conception of them, in some of their worst characteristics. He isvain and blustering, refusing to discourse unless he is paid, fond of making anoration, and hoping thereby to escape the inevitable Socrates; but a mere childin argument, and unable to foresee that the next ‘move’ (to use aPlatonic expression) will ‘shut him up.’ He has reached the stageof framing general notions, and in this respect is in advance of Cephalus andPolemarchus. But he is incapable of defending them in a discussion, and vainlytries to cover his confusion with banter and insolence. Whether such doctrinesas are attributed to him by Plato were really held either by him or by anyother Sophist is uncertain; in the infancy of philosophy serious errors aboutmorality might easily grow up—they are certainly put into the mouths ofspeakers in Thucydides; but we are concerned at present with Plato’sdescription of him, and not with the historical reality. The inequality of thecontest adds greatly to the humour of the scene. The pompous and empty Sophistis utterly helpless in the hands of the great master of dialectic, who knowshow to touch all the springs of vanity and weakness in him. He is greatlyirritated by the irony of Socrates, but his noisy and imbecile rage only layshim more and more open to the thrusts of his assailant. His determination tocram down their throats, or put ‘bodily into their souls’ his ownwords, elicits a cry of horror from Socrates. The state of his temper is quiteas worthy of remark as the process of the argument. Nothing is more amusingthan his complete submission when he has been once thoroughly beaten. At firsthe seems to continue the discussion with reluctance, but soon with apparentgood-will, and he even testifies his interest at a later stage by one or twooccasional remarks. When attacked by Glaucon he is humorously protected bySocrates ‘as one who has never been his enemy and is now hisfriend.’ From Cicero and Quintilian and from Aristotle’s Rhetoricwe learn that the Sophist whom Plato has made so ridiculous was a man of notewhose writings were preserved in later ages. The play on his name which wasmade by his contemporary Herodicus (Aris. Rhet.), ‘thou wast ever bold inbattle,’ seems to show that the description of him is not devoid ofverisimilitude.

When Thrasymachus has been silenced, the two principal respondents, Glaucon andAdeimantus, appear on the scene: here, as in Greek tragedy (cp. Introd. toPhaedo), three actors are introduced. At first sight the two sons of Aristonmay seem to wear a family likeness, like the two friends Simmias and Cebes inthe Phaedo. But on a nearer examination of them the similarity vanishes, andthey are seen to be distinct characters. Glaucon is the impetuous youth who can‘just never have enough of fechting’ (cp. the character of him inXen. Mem. iii. 6); the man of pleasure who is acquainted with the mysteries oflove; the ‘juvenis qui gaudet canibus,’ and who improves the breedof animals; the lover of art and music who has all the experiences of youthfullife. He is full of quickness and penetration, piercing easily below the clumsyplatitudes of Thrasymachus to the real difficulty; he turns out to the lightthe seamy side of human life, and yet does not lose faith in the just and true.It is Glaucon who seizes what may be termed the ludicrous relation of thephilosopher to the world, to whom a state of simplicity is ‘a city ofpigs,’ who is always prepared with a jest when the argument offers him anopportunity, and who is ever ready to second the humour of Socrates and toappreciate the ridiculous, whether in the connoisseurs of music, or in thelovers of theatricals, or in the fantastic behaviour of the citizens ofdemocracy. His weaknesses are several times alluded to by Socrates, who,however, will not allow him to be attacked by his brother Adeimantus. He is asoldier, and, like Adeimantus, has been distinguished at the battle of Megara(anno 456?)...The character of Adeimantus is deeper and graver, and theprofounder objections are commonly put into his mouth. Glaucon is moredemonstrative, and generally opens the game. Adeimantus pursues the argumentfurther. Glaucon has more of the liveliness and quick sympathy of youth;Adeimantus has the maturer judgment of a grown-up man of the world. In thesecond book, when Glaucon insists that justice and injustice shall beconsidered without regard to their consequences, Adeimantus remarks that theyare regarded by mankind in general only for the sake of their consequences; andin a similar vein of reflection he urges at the beginning of the fourth bookthat Socrates fails in making his citizens happy, and is answered thathappiness is not the first but the second thing, not the direct aim but theindirect consequence of the good government of a State. In the discussion aboutreligion and mythology, Adeimantus is the respondent, but Glaucon breaks inwith a slight jest, and carries on the conversation in a lighter tone aboutmusic and gymnastic to the end of the book. It is Adeimantus again whovolunteers the criticism of common sense on the Socratic method of argument,and who refuses to let Socrates pass lightly over the question of women andchildren. It is Adeimantus who is the respondent in the more argumentative, asGlaucon in the lighter and more imaginative portions of the Dialogue. Forexample, throughout the greater part of the sixth book, the causes of thecorruption of philosophy and the conception of the idea of good are discussedwith Adeimantus. Glaucon resumes his place of principal respondent; but he hasa difficulty in apprehending the higher education of Socrates, and makes somefalse hits in the course of the discussion. Once more Adeimantus returns withthe allusion to his brother Glaucon whom he compares to the contentious State;in the next book he is again superseded, and Glaucon continues to the end.

Thus in a succession of characters Plato represents the successive stages ofmorality, beginning with the Athenian gentleman of the olden time, who isfollowed by the practical man of that day regulating his life by proverbs andsaws; to him succeeds the wild generalization of the Sophists, and lastly comethe young disciples of the great teacher, who know the sophistical argumentsbut will not be convinced by them, and desire to go deeper into the nature ofthings. These too, like Cephalus, Polemarchus, Thrasymachus, are clearlydistinguished from one another. Neither in the Republic, nor in any otherDialogue of Plato, is a single character repeated.

The delineation of Socrates in the Republic is not wholly consistent. In thefirst book we have more of the real Socrates, such as he is depicted in theMemorabilia of Xenophon, in the earliest Dialogues of Plato, and in theApology. He is ironical, provoking, questioning, the old enemy of the Sophists,ready to put on the mask of Silenus as well as to argue seriously. But in thesixth book his enmity towards the Sophists abates; he acknowledges that theyare the representatives rather than the corrupters of the world. He alsobecomes more dogmatic and constructive, passing beyond the range either of thepolitical or the speculative ideas of the real Socrates. In one passage Platohimself seems to intimate that the time had now come for Socrates, who hadpassed his whole life in philosophy, to give his own opinion and not to bealways repeating the notions of other men. There is no evidence that either theidea of good or the conception of a perfect state were comprehended in theSocratic teaching, though he certainly dwelt on the nature of the universal andof final causes (cp. Xen. Mem.; Phaedo); and a deep thinker like him, in histhirty or forty years of public teaching, could hardly have failed to touch onthe nature of family relations, for which there is also some positive evidencein the Memorabilia (Mem.) The Socratic method is nominally retained; and everyinference is either put into the mouth of the respondent or represented as thecommon discovery of him and Socrates. But any one can see that this is a mereform, of which the affectation grows wearisome as the work advances. The methodof enquiry has passed into a method of teaching in which by the help ofinterlocutors the same thesis is looked at from various points of view. Thenature of the process is truly characterized by Glaucon, when he describeshimself as a companion who is not good for much in an investigation, but cansee what he is shown, and may, perhaps, give the answer to a question morefluently than another.

Neither can we be absolutely certain that Socrates himself taught theimmortality of the soul, which is unknown to his disciple Glaucon in theRepublic (cp. Apol.); nor is there any reason to suppose that he used myths orrevelations of another world as a vehicle of instruction, or that he would havebanished poetry or have denounced the Greek mythology. His favorite oath isretained, and a slight mention is made of the daemonium, or internal sign,which is alluded to by Socrates as a phenomenon peculiar to himself. A realelement of Socratic teaching, which is more prominent in the Republic than inany of the other Dialogues of Plato, is the use of example and illustrationτὰ φορτικὰαὐτῷπροσφέροντες,‘Let us apply the test of common instances.’ ‘You,’says Adeimantus, ironically, in the sixth book, ‘are so unaccustomed tospeak in images.’ And this use of examples or images, though trulySocratic in origin, is enlarged by the genius of Plato into the form of anallegory or parable, which embodies in the concrete what has been alreadydescribed, or is about to be described, in the abstract. Thus the figure of thecave in Book VII is a recapitulation of the divisions of knowledge in Book VI.The composite animal in Book IX is an allegory of the parts of the soul. Thenoble captain and the ship and the true pilot in Book VI are a figure of therelation of the people to the philosophers in the State which has beendescribed. Other figures, such as the dog, or the marriage of the portionlessmaiden, or the drones and wasps in the eighth and ninth books, also form linksof connexion in long passages, or are used to recall previous discussions.

Plato is most true to the character of his master when he describes him as‘not of this world.’ And with this representation of him the idealstate and the other paradoxes of the Republic are quite in accordance, thoughthey cannot be shown to have been speculations of Socrates. To him, as to othergreat teachers both philosophical and religious, when they looked upward, theworld seemed to be the embodiment of error and evil. The common sense ofmankind has revolted against this view, or has only partially admitted it. Andeven in Socrates himself the sterner judgement of the multitude at times passesinto a sort of ironical pity or love. Men in general are incapable ofphilosophy, and are therefore at enmity with the philosopher; but theirmisunderstanding of him is unavoidable: for they have never seen him as hetruly is in his own image; they are only acquainted with artificial systemspossessing no native force of truth—words which admit of manyapplications. Their leaders have nothing to measure with, and are thereforeignorant of their own stature. But they are to be pitied or laughed at, not tobe quarrelled with; they mean well with their nostrums, if they could onlylearn that they are cutting off a Hydra’s head. This moderation towardsthose who are in error is one of the most characteristic features of Socratesin the Republic. In all the different representations of Socrates, whether ofXenophon or Plato, and amid the differences of the earlier or later Dialogues,he always retains the character of the unwearied and disinterested seeker aftertruth, without which he would have ceased to be Socrates.

Leaving the characters we may now analyse the contents of the Republic, andthen proceed to consider (1) The general aspects of this Hellenic ideal of theState, (2) The modern lights in which the thoughts of Plato may be read.

BOOK I. The Republic opens with a truly Greek scene—a festival in honourof the goddess Bendis which is held in the Piraeus; to this is added thepromise of an equestrian torch-race in the evening. The whole work is supposedto be recited by Socrates on the day after the festival to a small party,consisting of Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates, and another; this we learn fromthe first words of the Timaeus.

When the rhetorical advantage of reciting the Dialogue has been gained, theattention is not distracted by any reference to the audience; nor is the readerfurther reminded of the extraordinary length of the narrative. Of the numerouscompany, three only take any serious part in the discussion; nor are weinformed whether in the evening they went to the torch-race, or talked, as inthe Symposium, through the night. The manner in which the conversation hasarisen is described as follows:—Socrates and his companion Glaucon areabout to leave the festival when they are detained by a message fromPolemarchus, who speedily appears accompanied by Adeimantus, the brother ofGlaucon, and with playful violence compels them to remain, promising them notonly the torch-race, but the pleasure of conversation with the young, which toSocrates is a far greater attraction. They return to the house of Cephalus,Polemarchus’ father, now in extreme old age, who is found sitting upon acushioned seat crowned for a sacrifice. ‘You should come to me oftener,Socrates, for I am too old to go to you; and at my time of life, having lostother pleasures, I care the more for conversation.’ Socrates asks himwhat he thinks of age, to which the old man replies, that the sorrows anddiscontents of age are to be attributed to the tempers of men, and that age isa time of peace in which the tyranny of the passions is no longer felt. Yes,replies Socrates, but the world will say, Cephalus, that you are happy in oldage because you are rich. ‘And there is something in what they say,Socrates, but not so much as they imagine—as Themistocles replied to theSeriphian, “Neither you, if you had been an Athenian, nor I, if I hadbeen a Seriphian, would ever have been famous,” I might in like mannerreply to you, Neither a good poor man can be happy in age, nor yet a bad richman.’ Socrates remarks that Cephalus appears not to care about riches, aquality which he ascribes to his having inherited, not acquired them, and wouldlike to know what he considers to be the chief advantage of them. Cephalusanswers that when you are old the belief in the world below grows upon you, andthen to have done justice and never to have been compelled to do injusticethrough poverty, and never to have deceived anyone, are felt to be unspeakableblessings. Socrates, who is evidently preparing for an argument, next asks,What is the meaning of the word justice? To tell the truth and pay your debts?No more than this? Or must we admit exceptions? Ought I, for example, to putback into the hands of my friend, who has gone mad, the sword which I borrowedof him when he was in his right mind? ‘There must be exceptions.’‘And yet,’ says Polemarchus, ‘the definition which has beengiven has the authority of Simonides.’ Here Cephalus retires to lookafter the sacrifices, and bequeaths, as Socrates facetiously remarks, thepossession of the argument to his heir, Polemarchus...

The description of old age is finished, and Plato, as his manner is, hastouched the key-note of the whole work in asking for the definition of justice,first suggesting the question which Glaucon afterwards pursues respectingexternal goods, and preparing for the concluding mythus of the world below inthe slight allusion of Cephalus. The portrait of the just man is a naturalfrontispiece or introduction to the long discourse which follows, and mayperhaps imply that in all our perplexity about the nature of justice, there isno difficulty in discerning ‘who is a just man.’ The firstexplanation has been supported by a saying of Simonides; and now Socrates has amind to show that the resolution of justice into two unconnected precepts,which have no common principle, fails to satisfy the demands of dialectic.

...He proceeds: What did Simonides mean by this saying of his? Did he mean thatI was to give back arms to a madman? ‘No, not in that case, not if theparties are friends, and evil would result. He meant that you were to do whatwas proper, good to friends and harm to enemies.’ Every act doessomething to somebody; and following this analogy, Socrates asks, What is thisdue and proper thing which justice does, and to whom? He is answered thatjustice does good to friends and harm to enemies. But in what way good or harm?‘In making alliances with the one, and going to war with theother.’ Then in time of peace what is the good of justice? The answer isthat justice is of use in contracts, and contracts are money partnerships. Yes;but how in such partnerships is the just man of more use than any other man?‘When you want to have money safely kept and not used.’ Thenjustice will be useful when money is useless. And there is another difficulty:justice, like the art of war or any other art, must be of opposites, good atattack as well as at defence, at stealing as well as at guarding. But thenjustice is a thief, though a hero notwithstanding, like Autolycus, the Homerichero, who was ‘excellent above all men in theft andperjury’—to such a pass have you and Homer and Simonides broughtus; though I do not forget that the thieving must be for the good of friendsand the harm of enemies. And still there arises another question: Are friendsto be interpreted as real or seeming; enemies as real or seeming? And are ourfriends to be only the good, and our enemies to be the evil? The answer is,that we must do good to our seeming and real good friends, and evil to ourseeming and real evil enemies—good to the good, evil to the evil. Butought we to render evil for evil at all, when to do so will only make men moreevil? Can justice produce injustice any more than the art of horsemanship canmake bad horsemen, or heat produce cold? The final conclusion is, that no sageor poet ever said that the just return evil for evil; this was a maxim of somerich and mighty man, Periander, Perdiccas, or Ismenias the Theban (about B.C.398-381)...

Thus the first stage of aphoristic or unconscious morality is shown to beinadequate to the wants of the age; the authority of the poets is set aside,and through the winding mazes of dialectic we make an approach to the Christianprecept of forgiveness of injuries. Similar words are applied by the Persianmystic poet to the Divine being when the questioning spirit is stirred withinhim:—‘If because I do evil, Thou punishest me by evil, what is thedifference between Thee and me?’ In this both Plato and Kheyam rise abovethe level of many Christian (?) theologians. The first definition of justiceeasily passes into the second; for the simple words ‘to speak the truthand pay your debts’ is substituted the more abstract ‘to do good toyour friends and harm to your enemies.’ Either of these explanationsgives a sufficient rule of life for plain men, but they both fall short of theprecision of philosophy. We may note in passing the antiquity of casuistry,which not only arises out of the conflict of established principles inparticular cases, but also out of the effort to attain them, and is prior aswell as posterior to our fundamental notions of morality. The‘interrogation’ of moral ideas; the appeal to the authority ofHomer; the conclusion that the maxim, ‘Do good to your friends and harmto your enemies,’ being erroneous, could not have been the word of anygreat man, are all of them very characteristic of the Platonic Socrates.

...Here Thrasymachus, who has made several attempts to interrupt, but hashitherto been kept in order by the company, takes advantage of a pause andrushes into the arena, beginning, like a savage animal, with a roar.‘Socrates,’ he says, ‘what folly is this?—Why do youagree to be vanquished by one another in a pretended argument?’ He thenprohibits all the ordinary definitions of justice; to which Socrates repliesthat he cannot tell how many twelve is, if he is forbidden to say 2 x 6, or 3 x4, or 6 x 2, or 4 x 3. At first Thrasymachus is reluctant to argue; but atlength, with a promise of payment on the part of the company and of praise fromSocrates, he is induced to open the game. ‘Listen,’ he says,‘my answer is that might is right, justice the interest of the stronger:now praise me.’ Let me understand you first. Do you mean that becausePolydamas the wrestler, who is stronger than we are, finds the eating of beeffor his interest, the eating of beef is also for our interest, who are not sostrong? Thrasymachus is indignant at the illustration, and in pompous words,apparently intended to restore dignity to the argument, he explains his meaningto be that the rulers make laws for their own interests. But suppose, saysSocrates, that the ruler or stronger makes a mistake—then the interest ofthe stronger is not his interest. Thrasymachus is saved from this speedydownfall by his disciple Cleitophon, who introduces the word‘thinks;’—not the actual interest of the ruler, but what hethinks or what seems to be his interest, is justice. The contradiction isescaped by the unmeaning evasion: for though his real and apparent interestsmay differ, what the ruler thinks to be his interest will always remain what hethinks to be his interest.

Of course this was not the original assertion, nor is the new interpretationaccepted by Thrasymachus himself. But Socrates is not disposed to quarrel aboutwords, if, as he significantly insinuates, his adversary has changed his mind.In what follows Thrasymachus does in fact withdraw his admission that the rulermay make a mistake, for he affirms that the ruler as a ruler is infallible.Socrates is quite ready to accept the new position, which he equally turnsagainst Thrasymachus by the help of the analogy of the arts. Every art orscience has an interest, but this interest is to be distinguished from theaccidental interest of the artist, and is only concerned with the good of thethings or persons which come under the art. And justice has an interest whichis the interest not of the ruler or judge, but of those who come under hissway.

Thrasymachus is on the brink of the inevitable conclusion, when he makes a bolddiversion. ‘Tell me, Socrates,’ he says, ‘have you anurse?’ What a question! Why do you ask? ‘Because, if you have, sheneglects you and lets you go about drivelling, and has not even taught you toknow the shepherd from the sheep. For you fancy that shepherds and rulers neverthink of their own interest, but only of their sheep or subjects, whereas thetruth is that they fatten them for their use, sheep and subjects alike. Andexperience proves that in every relation of life the just man is the loser andthe unjust the gainer, especially where injustice is on the grand scale, whichis quite another thing from the petty rogueries of swindlers and burglars androbbers of temples. The language of men proves this—our‘gracious’ and ‘blessed’ tyrant and the like—allwhich tends to show (1) that justice is the interest of the stronger; and (2)that injustice is more profitable and also stronger than justice.’

Thrasymachus, who is better at a speech than at a close argument, havingdeluged the company with words, has a mind to escape. But the others will notlet him go, and Socrates adds a humble but earnest request that he will notdesert them at such a crisis of their fate. ‘And what can I do more foryou?’ he says; ‘would you have me put the words bodily into yoursouls?’ God forbid! replies Socrates; but we want you to be consistent inthe use of terms, and not to employ ‘physician’ in an exact sense,and then again ‘shepherd’ or ‘ruler’ in aninexact,—if the words are strictly taken, the ruler and the shepherd lookonly to the good of their people or flocks and not to their own: whereas youinsist that rulers are solely actuated by love of office. ‘No doubt aboutit,’ replies Thrasymachus. Then why are they paid? Is not the reason,that their interest is not comprehended in their art, and is therefore theconcern of another art, the art of pay, which is common to the arts in general,and therefore not identical with any one of them? Nor would any man be a rulerunless he were induced by the hope of reward or the fear ofpunishment;—the reward is money or honour, the punishment is thenecessity of being ruled by a man worse than himself. And if a State (orChurch) were composed entirely of good men, they would be affected by the lastmotive only; and there would be as much ‘nolo episcopari’ as thereis at present of the opposite...

The satire on existing governments is heightened by the simple and apparentlyincidental manner in which the last remark is introduced. There is a similarirony in the argument that the governors of mankind do not like being inoffice, and that therefore they demand pay.

...Enough of this: the other assertion of Thrasymachus is far moreimportant—that the unjust life is more gainful than the just. Now, as youand I, Glaucon, are not convinced by him, we must reply to him; but if we tryto compare their respective gains we shall want a judge to decide for us; wehad better therefore proceed by making mutual admissions of the truth to oneanother.

Thrasymachus had asserted that perfect injustice was more gainful than perfectjustice, and after a little hesitation he is induced by Socrates to admit thestill greater paradox that injustice is virtue and justice vice. Socratespraises his frankness, and assumes the attitude of one whose only wish is tounderstand the meaning of his opponents. At the same time he is weaving a netin which Thrasymachus is finally enclosed. The admission is elicited from himthat the just man seeks to gain an advantage over the unjust only, but not overthe just, while the unjust would gain an advantage over either. Socrates, inorder to test this statement, employs once more the favourite analogy of thearts. The musician, doctor, skilled artist of any sort, does not seek to gainmore than the skilled, but only more than the unskilled (that is to say, heworks up to a rule, standard, law, and does not exceed it), whereas theunskilled makes random efforts at excess. Thus the skilled falls on the side ofthe good, and the unskilled on the side of the evil, and the just is theskilled, and the unjust is the unskilled.

There was great difficulty in bringing Thrasymachus to the point; the day washot and he was streaming with perspiration, and for the first time in his lifehe was seen to blush. But his other thesis that injustice was stronger thanjustice has not yet been refuted, and Socrates now proceeds to theconsideration of this, which, with the assistance of Thrasymachus, he hopes toclear up; the latter is at first churlish, but in the judicious hands ofSocrates is soon restored to good-humour: Is there not honour among thieves? Isnot the strength of injustice only a remnant of justice? Is not absoluteinjustice absolute weakness also? A house that is divided against itself cannotstand; two men who quarrel detract from one another’s strength, and hewho is at war with himself is the enemy of himself and the gods. Not wickednesstherefore, but semi-wickedness flourishes in states,—a remnant of good isneeded in order to make union in action possible,—there is no kingdom ofevil in this world.

Another question has not been answered: Is the just or the unjust the happier?To this we reply, that every art has an end and an excellence or virtue bywhich the end is accomplished. And is not the end of the soul happiness, andjustice the excellence of the soul by which happiness is attained? Justice andhappiness being thus shown to be inseparable, the question whether the just orthe unjust is the happier has disappeared.

Thrasymachus replies: ‘Let this be your entertainment, Socrates, at thefestival of Bendis.’ Yes; and a very good entertainment with which yourkindness has supplied me, now that you have left off scolding. And yet not agood entertainment—but that was my own fault, for I tasted of too manythings. First of all the nature of justice was the subject of our enquiry, andthen whether justice is virtue and wisdom, or evil and folly; and then thecomparative advantages of just and unjust: and the sum of all is that I knownot what justice is; how then shall I know whether the just is happy or not?...

Thus the sophistical fabric has been demolished, chiefly by appealing to theanalogy of the arts. ‘Justice is like the arts (1) in having no externalinterest, and (2) in not aiming at excess, and (3) justice is to happiness whatthe implement of the workman is to his work.’ At this the modern readeris apt to stumble, because he forgets that Plato is writing in an age when thearts and the virtues, like the moral and intellectual faculties, were stillundistinguished. Among early enquirers into the nature of human action the artshelped to fill up the void of speculation; and at first the comparison of thearts and the virtues was not perceived by them to be fallacious. They only sawthe points of agreement in them and not the points of difference. Virtue, likeart, must take means to an end; good manners are both an art and a virtue;character is naturally described under the image of a statue; and there aremany other figures of speech which are readily transferred from art to morals.The next generation cleared up these perplexities; or at least supplied afterages with a further analysis of them. The contemporaries of Plato were in astate of transition, and had not yet fully realized the common-sensedistinction of Aristotle, that ‘virtue is concerned with action, art withproduction’ (Nic. Eth.), or that ‘virtue implies intention andconstancy of purpose,’ whereas ‘art requires knowledge only’.And yet in the absurdities which follow from some uses of the analogy, thereseems to be an intimation conveyed that virtue is more than art. This isimplied in the reductio ad absurdum that ‘justice is a thief,’ andin the dissatisfaction which Socrates expresses at the final result.

The expression ‘an art of pay’ which is described as ‘commonto all the arts’ is not in accordance with the ordinary use of language.Nor is it employed elsewhere either by Plato or by any other Greek writer. Itis suggested by the argument, and seems to extend the conception of art todoing as well as making. Another flaw or inaccuracy of language may be noted inthe words ‘men who are injured are made more unjust.’ For those whoare injured are not necessarily made worse, but only harmed or ill-treated.

The second of the three arguments, ‘that the just does not aim atexcess,’ has a real meaning, though wrapped up in an enigmatical form.That the good is of the nature of the finite is a peculiarly Hellenicsentiment, which may be compared with the language of those modern writers whospeak of virtue as fitness, and of freedom as obedience to law. Themathematical or logical notion of limit easily passes into an ethical one, andeven finds a mythological expression in the conception of envy (Greek). Ideasof measure, equality, order, unity, proportion, still linger in the writings ofmoralists; and the true spirit of the fine arts is better conveyed by suchterms than by superlatives.

‘When workmen strive to do better than well,
They do confound their skill in covetousness.’ (King John. Act. iv. Sc.2.)

The harmony of the soul and body, and of the parts of the soul with oneanother, a harmony ‘fairer than that of musical notes,’ is the trueHellenic mode of conceiving the perfection of human nature.

In what may be called the epilogue of the discussion with Thrasymachus, Platoargues that evil is not a principle of strength, but of discord anddissolution, just touching the question which has been often treated in moderntimes by theologians and philosophers, of the negative nature of evil. In thelast argument we trace the germ of the Aristotelian doctrine of an end and avirtue directed towards the end, which again is suggested by the arts. Thefinal reconcilement of justice and happiness and the identity of the individualand the State are also intimated. Socrates reassumes the character of a‘know-nothing;’ at the same time he appears to be not whollysatisfied with the manner in which the argument has been conducted. Nothing isconcluded; but the tendency of the dialectical process, here as always, is toenlarge our conception of ideas, and to widen their application to human life.

BOOK II. Thrasymachus is pacified, but the intrepid Glaucon insists oncontinuing the argument. He is not satisfied with the indirect manner in which,at the end of the last book, Socrates had disposed of the question‘Whether the just or the unjust is the happier.’ He begins bydividing goods into three classes:—first, goods desirable in themselves;secondly, goods desirable in themselves and for their results; thirdly, goodsdesirable for their results only. He then asks Socrates in which of the threeclasses he would place justice. In the second class, replies Socrates, amonggoods desirable for themselves and also for their results. ‘Then theworld in general are of another mind, for they say that justice belongs to thetroublesome class of goods which are desirable for their results only. Socratesanswers that this is the doctrine of Thrasymachus which he rejects. Glauconthinks that Thrasymachus was too ready to listen to the voice of the charmer,and proposes to consider the nature of justice and injustice in themselves andapart from the results and rewards of them which the world is always dinning inhis ears. He will first of all speak of the nature and origin of justice;secondly, of the manner in which men view justice as a necessity and not agood; and thirdly, he will prove the reasonableness of this view.

‘To do injustice is said to be a good; to suffer injustice an evil. Asthe evil is discovered by experience to be greater than the good, thesufferers, who cannot also be doers, make a compact that they will haveneither, and this compact or mean is called justice, but is really theimpossibility of doing injustice. No one would observe such a compact if hewere not obliged. Let us suppose that the just and unjust have two rings, likethat of Gyges in the well-known story, which make them invisible, and then nodifference will appear in them, for every one will do evil if he can. And hewho abstains will be regarded by the world as a fool for his pains. Men maypraise him in public out of fear for themselves, but they will laugh at him intheir hearts (Cp. Gorgias.)

‘And now let us frame an ideal of the just and unjust. Imagine the unjustman to be master of his craft, seldom making mistakes and easily correctingthem; having gifts of money, speech, strength—the greatest villainbearing the highest character: and at his side let us place the just in hisnobleness and simplicity—being, not seeming—without name orreward—clothed in his justice only—the best of men who is thoughtto be the worst, and let him die as he has lived. I might add (but I wouldrather put the rest into the mouth of the panegyrists of injustice—theywill tell you) that the just man will be scourged, racked, bound, will have hiseyes put out, and will at last be crucified (literally impaled)—and allthis because he ought to have preferred seeming to being. How different is thecase of the unjust who clings to appearance as the true reality! His highcharacter makes him a ruler; he can marry where he likes, trade where he likes,help his friends and hurt his enemies; having got rich by dishonesty he canworship the gods better, and will therefore be more loved by them than thejust.’

I was thinking what to answer, when Adeimantus joined in the already unequalfray. He considered that the most important point of all had beenomitted:—‘Men are taught to be just for the sake of rewards;parents and guardians make reputation the incentive to virtue. And otheradvantages are promised by them of a more solid kind, such as wealthy marriagesand high offices. There are the pictures in Homer and Hesiod of fat sheep andheavy fleeces, rich corn-fields and trees toppling with fruit, which the godsprovide in this life for the just. And the Orphic poets add a similar pictureof another. The heroes of Musaeus and Eumolpus lie on couches at a festival,with garlands on their heads, enjoying as the meed of virtue a paradise ofimmortal drunkenness. Some go further, and speak of a fair posterity in thethird and fourth generation. But the wicked they bury in a slough and make themcarry water in a sieve: and in this life they attribute to them the infamywhich Glaucon was assuming to be the lot of the just who are supposed to beunjust.

‘Take another kind of argument which is found both in poetry andprose:—“Virtue,” as Hesiod says, “is honourable butdifficult, vice is easy and profitable.” You may often see the wicked ingreat prosperity and the righteous afflicted by the will of heaven. Andmendicant prophets knock at rich men’s doors, promising to atone for thesins of themselves or their fathers in an easy fashion with sacrifices andfestive games, or with charms and invocations to get rid of an enemy good orbad by divine help and at a small charge;—they appeal to books professingto be written by Musaeus and Orpheus, and carry away the minds of whole cities,and promise to “get souls out of purgatory;” and if we refuse tolisten to them, no one knows what will happen to us.

‘When a lively-minded ingenuous youth hears all this, what will be hisconclusion? “Will he,” in the language of Pindar, “makejustice his high tower, or fortify himself with crooked deceit?” Justice,he reflects, without the appearance of justice, is misery and ruin; injusticehas the promise of a glorious life. Appearance is master of truth and lord ofhappiness. To appearance then I will turn,—I will put on the show ofvirtue and trail behind me the fox of Archilochus. I hear some one saying that“wickedness is not easily concealed,” to which I reply that“nothing great is easy.” Union and force and rhetoric will do much;and if men say that they cannot prevail over the gods, still how do we knowthat there are gods? Only from the poets, who acknowledge that they may beappeased by sacrifices. Then why not sin and pay for indulgences out of yoursin? For if the righteous are only unpunished, still they have no furtherreward, while the wicked may be unpunished and have the pleasure of sinningtoo. But what of the world below? Nay, says the argument, there are atoningpowers who will set that matter right, as the poets, who are the sons of thegods, tell us; and this is confirmed by the authority of the State.

‘How can we resist such arguments in favour of injustice? Add goodmanners, and, as the wise tell us, we shall make the best of both worlds. Whothat is not a miserable caitiff will refrain from smiling at the praises ofjustice? Even if a man knows the better part he will not be angry with others;for he knows also that more than human virtue is needed to save a man, and thathe only praises justice who is incapable of injustice.

‘The origin of the evil is that all men from the beginning, heroes,poets, instructors of youth, have always asserted “the temporaldispensation,” the honours and profits of justice. Had we been taught inearly youth the power of justice and injustice inherent in the soul, and unseenby any human or divine eye, we should not have needed others to be ourguardians, but every one would have been the guardian of himself. This is whatI want you to show, Socrates;—other men use arguments which rather tendto strengthen the position of Thrasymachus that “might is right;”but from you I expect better things. And please, as Glaucon said, to excludereputation; let the just be thought unjust and the unjust just, and do youstill prove to us the superiority of justice’...

The thesis, which for the sake of argument has been maintained by Glaucon, isthe converse of that of Thrasymachus—not right is the interest of thestronger, but right is the necessity of the weaker. Starting from the samepremises he carries the analysis of society a step further back;—might isstill right, but the might is the weakness of the many combined against thestrength of the few.

There have been theories in modern as well as in ancient times which have afamily likeness to the speculations of Glaucon; e.g. that power is thefoundation of right; or that a monarch has a divine right to govern well orill; or that virtue is self-love or the love of power; or that war is thenatural state of man; or that private vices are public benefits. All suchtheories have a kind of plausibility from their partial agreement withexperience. For human nature oscillates between good and evil, and the motivesof actions and the origin of institutions may be explained to a certain extenton either hypothesis according to the character or point of view of aparticular thinker. The obligation of maintaining authority under allcircumstances and sometimes by rather questionable means is felt strongly andhas become a sort of instinct among civilized men. The divine right of kings,or more generally of governments, is one of the forms under which this naturalfeeling is expressed. Nor again is there any evil which has not someaccompaniment of good or pleasure; nor any good which is free from some alloyof evil; nor any noble or generous thought which may not be attended by ashadow or the ghost of a shadow of self-interest or of self-love. We know thatall human actions are imperfect; but we do not therefore attribute them to theworse rather than to the better motive or principle. Such a philosophy is bothfoolish and false, like that opinion of the clever rogue who assumes all othermen to be like himself. And theories of this sort do not represent the realnature of the State, which is based on a vague sense of right graduallycorrected and enlarged by custom and law (although capable also of perversion),any more than they describe the origin of society, which is to be sought in thefamily and in the social and religious feelings of man. Nor do they representthe average character of individuals, which cannot be explained simply on atheory of evil, but has always a counteracting element of good. And as menbecome better such theories appear more and more untruthful to them, becausethey are more conscious of their own disinterestedness. A little experience maymake a man a cynic; a great deal will bring him back to a truer and kindlierview of the mixed nature of himself and his fellow men.

The two brothers ask Socrates to prove to them that the just is happy when theyhave taken from him all that in which happiness is ordinarily supposed toconsist. Not that there is (1) any absurdity in the attempt to frame a notionof justice apart from circumstances. For the ideal must always be a paradoxwhen compared with the ordinary conditions of human life. Neither the Stoicalideal nor the Christian ideal is true as a fact, but they may serve as a basisof education, and may exercise an ennobling influence. An ideal is none theworse because ‘some one has made the discovery’ that no such idealwas ever realized. And in a few exceptional individuals who are raised abovethe ordinary level of humanity, the ideal of happiness may be realized in deathand misery. This may be the state which the reason deliberately approves, andwhich the utilitarian as well as every other moralist may be bound in certaincases to prefer.

Nor again, (2) must we forget that Plato, though he agrees generally with theview implied in the argument of the two brothers, is not expressing his ownfinal conclusion, but rather seeking to dramatize one of the aspects of ethicaltruth. He is developing his idea gradually in a series of positions orsituations. He is exhibiting Socrates for the first time undergoing theSocratic interrogation. Lastly, (3) the word ‘happiness’ involvessome degree of confusion because associated in the language of modernphilosophy with conscious pleasure or satisfaction, which was not equallypresent to his mind.

Glaucon has been drawing a picture of the misery of the just and the happinessof the unjust, to which the misery of the tyrant in Book IX is the answer andparallel. And still the unjust must appear just; that is ‘the homagewhich vice pays to virtue.’ But now Adeimantus, taking up the hint whichhad been already given by Glaucon, proceeds to show that in the opinion ofmankind justice is regarded only for the sake of rewards and reputation, andpoints out the advantage which is given to such arguments as those ofThrasymachus and Glaucon by the conventional morality of mankind. He seems tofeel the difficulty of ‘justifying the ways of God to man.’ Boththe brothers touch upon the question, whether the morality of actions isdetermined by their consequences; and both of them go beyond the position ofSocrates, that justice belongs to the class of goods not desirable forthemselves only, but desirable for themselves and for their results, to whichhe recalls them. In their attempt to view justice as an internal principle, andin their condemnation of the poets, they anticipate him. The common life ofGreece is not enough for them; they must penetrate deeper into the nature ofthings.

It has been objected that justice is honesty in the sense of Glaucon andAdeimantus, but is taken by Socrates to mean all virtue. May we not more trulysay that the old-fashioned notion of justice is enlarged by Socrates, andbecomes equivalent to universal order or well-being, first in the State, andsecondly in the individual? He has found a new answer to his old question(Protag.), ‘whether the virtues are one or many,’ viz. that one isthe ordering principle of the three others. In seeking to establish the purelyinternal nature of justice, he is met by the fact that man is a social being,and he tries to harmonise the two opposite theses as well as he can. There isno more inconsistency in this than was inevitable in his age and country; thereis no use in turning upon him the cross lights of modern philosophy, which,from some other point of view, would appear equally inconsistent. Plato doesnot give the final solution of philosophical questions for us; nor can he bejudged of by our standard.

The remainder of the Republic is developed out of the question of the sons ofAriston. Three points are deserving of remark in what immediatelyfollows:—First, that the answer of Socrates is altogether indirect. Hedoes not say that happiness consists in the contemplation of the idea ofjustice, and still less will he be tempted to affirm the Stoical paradox thatthe just man can be happy on the rack. But first he dwells on the difficulty ofthe problem and insists on restoring man to his natural condition, before hewill answer the question at all. He too will frame an ideal, but his idealcomprehends not only abstract justice, but the whole relations of man. Underthe fanciful illustration of the large letters he implies that he will onlylook for justice in society, and that from the State he will proceed to theindividual. His answer in substance amounts to this,—that underfavourable conditions, i.e. in the perfect State, justice and happiness willcoincide, and that when justice has been once found, happiness may be left totake care of itself. That he falls into some degree of inconsistency, when inthe tenth book he claims to have got rid of the rewards and honours of justice,may be admitted; for he has left those which exist in the perfect State. Andthe philosopher ‘who retires under the shelter of a wall’ canhardly have been esteemed happy by him, at least not in this world. Still hemaintains the true attitude of moral action. Let a man do his duty first,without asking whether he will be happy or not, and happiness will be theinseparable accident which attends him. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of Godand his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’

Secondly, it may be remarked that Plato preserves the genuine character ofGreek thought in beginning with the State and in going on to the individual.First ethics, then politics—this is the order of ideas to us; the reverseis the order of history. Only after many struggles of thought does theindividual assert his right as a moral being. In early ages he is not ONE, butone of many, the citizen of a State which is prior to him; and he has no notionof good or evil apart from the law of his country or the creed of his church.And to this type he is constantly tending to revert, whenever the influence ofcustom, or of party spirit, or the recollection of the past becomes too strongfor him.

Thirdly, we may observe the confusion or identification of the individual andthe State, of ethics and politics, which pervades early Greek speculation, andeven in modern times retains a certain degree of influence. The subtledifference between the collective and individual action of mankind seems tohave escaped early thinkers, and we too are sometimes in danger of forgettingthe conditions of united human action, whenever we either elevate politics intoethics, or lower ethics to the standard of politics. The good man and the goodcitizen only coincide in the perfect State; and this perfection cannot beattained by legislation acting upon them from without, but, if at all, byeducation fashioning them from within.

...Socrates praises the sons of Ariston, ‘inspired offspring of therenowned hero,’ as the elegiac poet terms them; but he does notunderstand how they can argue so eloquently on behalf of injustice while theircharacter shows that they are uninfluenced by their own arguments. He knows nothow to answer them, although he is afraid of deserting justice in the hour ofneed. He therefore makes a condition, that having weak eyes he shall be allowedto read the large letters first and then go on to the smaller, that is, he mustlook for justice in the State first, and will then proceed to the individual.Accordingly he begins to construct the State.

Society arises out of the wants of man. His first want is food; his second ahouse; his third a coat. The sense of these needs and the possibility ofsatisfying them by exchange, draw individuals together on the same spot; andthis is the beginning of a State, which we take the liberty to invent, althoughnecessity is the real inventor. There must be first a husbandman, secondly abuilder, thirdly a weaver, to which may be added a cobbler. Four or fivecitizens at least are required to make a city. Now men have different natures,and one man will do one thing better than many; and business waits for no man.Hence there must be a division of labour into different employments; intowholesale and retail trade; into workers, and makers of workmen’s tools;into shepherds and husbandmen. A city which includes all this will have farexceeded the limit of four or five, and yet not be very large. But then againimports will be required, and imports necessitate exports, and this impliesvariety of produce in order to attract the taste of purchasers; also merchantsand ships. In the city too we must have a market and money and retail trades;otherwise buyers and sellers will never meet, and the valuable time of theproducers will be wasted in vain efforts at exchange. If we add hired servantsthe State will be complete. And we may guess that somewhere in the intercourseof the citizens with one another justice and injustice will appear.

Here follows a rustic picture of their way of life. They spend their days inhouses which they have built for themselves; they make their own clothes andproduce their own corn and wine. Their principal food is meal and flour, andthey drink in moderation. They live on the best of terms with each other, andtake care not to have too many children. ‘But,’ said Glaucon,interposing, ‘are they not to have a relish?’ Certainly; they willhave salt and olives and cheese, vegetables and fruits, and chestnuts to roastat the fire. ‘’Tis a city of pigs, Socrates.’ Why, I replied,what do you want more? ‘Only the comforts of life,—sofas andtables, also sauces and sweets.’ I see; you want not only a State, but aluxurious State; and possibly in the more complex frame we may sooner findjustice and injustice. Then the fine arts must go to work—everyconceivable instrument and ornament of luxury will be wanted. There will bedancers, painters, sculptors, musicians, cooks, barbers, tire-women, nurses,artists; swineherds and neatherds too for the animals, and physicians to curethe disorders of which luxury is the source. To feed all these superfluousmouths we shall need a part of our neighbour’s land, and they will want apart of ours. And this is the origin of war, which may be traced to the samecauses as other political evils. Our city will now require the slight additionof a camp, and the citizen will be converted into a soldier. But then again ourold doctrine of the division of labour must not be forgotten. The art of warcannot be learned in a day, and there must be a natural aptitude for militaryduties. There will be some warlike natures who have this aptitude—dogskeen of scent, swift of foot to pursue, and strong of limb to fight. And asspirit is the foundation of courage, such natures, whether of men or animals,will be full of spirit. But these spirited natures are apt to bite and devourone another; the union of gentleness to friends and fierceness against enemiesappears to be an impossibility, and the guardian of a State requires bothqualities. Who then can be a guardian? The image of the dog suggests an answer.For dogs are gentle to friends and fierce to strangers. Your dog is aphilosopher who judges by the rule of knowing or not knowing; and philosophy,whether in man or beast, is the parent of gentleness. The human watchdogs mustbe philosophers or lovers of learning which will make them gentle. And how arethey to be learned without education?

But what shall their education be? Is any better than the old-fashioned sortwhich is comprehended under the name of music and gymnastic? Music includesliterature, and literature is of two kinds, true and false. ‘What do youmean?’ he said. I mean that children hear stories before they learngymnastics, and that the stories are either untrue, or have at most one or twograins of truth in a bushel of falsehood. Now early life is very impressible,and children ought not to learn what they will have to unlearn when they growup; we must therefore have a censorship of nursery tales, banishing some andkeeping others. Some of them are very improper, as we may see in the greatinstances of Homer and Hesiod, who not only tell lies but bad lies; storiesabout Uranus and Saturn, which are immoral as well as false, and which shouldnever be spoken of to young persons, or indeed at all; or, if at all, then in amystery, after the sacrifice, not of an Eleusinian pig, but of someunprocurable animal. Shall our youth be encouraged to beat their fathers by theexample of Zeus, or our citizens be incited to quarrel by hearing or seeingrepresentations of strife among the gods? Shall they listen to the narrative ofHephaestus binding his mother, and of Zeus sending him flying for helping herwhen she was beaten? Such tales may possibly have a mystical interpretation,but the young are incapable of understanding allegory. If any one asks whattales are to be allowed, we will answer that we are legislators and notbook-makers; we only lay down the principles according to which books are to bewritten; to write them is the duty of others.

And our first principle is, that God must be represented as he is; not as theauthor of all things, but of good only. We will not suffer the poets to saythat he is the steward of good and evil, or that he has two casks full ofdestinies;—or that Athene and Zeus incited Pandarus to break the treaty;or that God caused the sufferings of Niobe, or of Pelops, or the Trojan war; orthat he makes men sin when he wishes to destroy them. Either these were not theactions of the gods, or God was just, and men were the better for beingpunished. But that the deed was evil, and God the author, is a wicked, suicidalfiction which we will allow no one, old or young, to utter. This is our firstand great principle—God is the author of good only.

And the second principle is like unto it:—With God is no variableness orchange of form. Reason teaches us this; for if we suppose a change in God, hemust be changed either by another or by himself. By another?—but the bestworks of nature and art and the noblest qualities of mind are least liable tobe changed by any external force. By himself?—but he cannot change forthe better; he will hardly change for the worse. He remains for ever fairestand best in his own image. Therefore we refuse to listen to the poets who tellus of Here begging in the likeness of a priestess or of other deities who prowlabout at night in strange disguises; all that blasphemous nonsense with whichmothers fool the manhood out of their children must be suppressed. But some onewill say that God, who is himself unchangeable, may take a form in relation tous. Why should he? For gods as well as men hate the lie in the soul, orprinciple of falsehood; and as for any other form of lying which is used for apurpose and is regarded as innocent in certain exceptional cases—whatneed have the gods of this? For they are not ignorant of antiquity like thepoets, nor are they afraid of their enemies, nor is any madman a friend oftheirs. God then is true, he is absolutely true; he changes not, he deceivesnot, by day or night, by word or sign. This is our second greatprinciple—God is true. Away with the lying dream of Agamemnon in Homer,and the accusation of Thetis against Apollo in Aeschylus...

In order to give clearness to his conception of the State, Plato proceeds totrace the first principles of mutual need and of division of labour in animaginary community of four or five citizens. Gradually this communityincreases; the division of labour extends to countries; imports necessitateexports; a medium of exchange is required, and retailers sit in themarket-place to save the time of the producers. These are the steps by whichPlato constructs the first or primitive State, introducing the elements ofpolitical economy by the way. As he is going to frame a second or civilizedState, the simple naturally comes before the complex. He indulges, likeRousseau, in a picture of primitive life—an idea which has indeed oftenhad a powerful influence on the imagination of mankind, but he does notseriously mean to say that one is better than the other (Politicus); nor canany inference be drawn from the description of the first state taken apart fromthe second, such as Aristotle appears to draw in the Politics. We should notinterpret a Platonic dialogue any more than a poem or a parable in too literalor matter-of-fact a style. On the other hand, when we compare the lively fancyof Plato with the dried-up abstractions of modern treatises on philosophy, weare compelled to say with Protagoras, that the ‘mythus is moreinteresting’ (Protag.)

Several interesting remarks which in modern times would have a place in atreatise on Political Economy are scattered up and down the writings of Plato:especially Laws, Population; Free Trade; Adulteration; Wills and Bequests;Begging; Eryxias, (though not Plato’s), Value and Demand; Republic,Division of Labour. The last subject, and also the origin of Retail Trade, istreated with admirable lucidity in the second book of the Republic. But Platonever combined his economic ideas into a system, and never seems to haverecognized that Trade is one of the great motive powers of the State and of theworld. He would make retail traders only of the inferior sort of citizens(Rep., Laws), though he remarks, quaintly enough (Laws), that ‘if onlythe best men and the best women everywhere were compelled to keep taverns for atime or to carry on retail trade, etc., then we should knew how pleasant andagreeable all these things are.’

The disappointment of Glaucon at the ‘city of pigs,’ the ludicrousdescription of the ministers of luxury in the more refined State, and theafterthought of the necessity of doctors, the illustration of the nature of theguardian taken from the dog, the desirableness of offering some almostunprocurable victim when impure mysteries are to be celebrated, the behaviourof Zeus to his father and of Hephaestus to his mother, are touches of humourwhich have also a serious meaning. In speaking of education Plato ratherstartles us by affirming that a child must be trained in falsehood first and intruth afterwards. Yet this is not very different from saying that children mustbe taught through the medium of imagination as well as reason; that their mindscan only develope gradually, and that there is much which they must learnwithout understanding. This is also the substance of Plato’s view, thoughhe must be acknowledged to have drawn the line somewhat differently from modernethical writers, respecting truth and falsehood. To us, economies oraccommodations would not be allowable unless they were required by the humanfaculties or necessary for the communication of knowledge to the simple andignorant. We should insist that the word was inseparable from the intention,and that we must not be ‘falsely true,’ i.e. speak or act falselyin support of what was right or true. But Plato would limit the use of fictionsonly by requiring that they should have a good moral effect, and that such adangerous weapon as falsehood should be employed by the rulers alone and forgreat objects.

A Greek in the age of Plato attached no importance to the question whether hisreligion was an historical fact. He was just beginning to be conscious that thepast had a history; but he could see nothing beyond Homer and Hesiod. Whethertheir narratives were true or false did not seriously affect the political orsocial life of Hellas. Men only began to suspect that they were fictions whenthey recognised them to be immoral. And so in all religions: the considerationof their morality comes first, afterwards the truth of the documents in whichthey are recorded, or of the events natural or supernatural which are told ofthem. But in modern times, and in Protestant countries perhaps more than inCatholic, we have been too much inclined to identify the historical with themoral; and some have refused to believe in religion at all, unless a superhumanaccuracy was discernible in every part of the record. The facts of an ancientor religious history are amongst the most important of all facts; but they arefrequently uncertain, and we only learn the true lesson which is to be gatheredfrom them when we place ourselves above them. These reflections tend to showthat the difference between Plato and ourselves, though not unimportant, is notso great as might at first sight appear. For we should agree with him inplacing the moral before the historical truth of religion; and, generally, indisregarding those errors or misstatements of fact which necessarily occur inthe early stages of all religions. We know also that changes in the traditionsof a country cannot be made in a day; and are therefore tolerant of many thingswhich science and criticism would condemn.

We note in passing that the allegorical interpretation of mythology, said tohave been first introduced as early as the sixth century before Christ byTheagenes of Rhegium, was well established in the age of Plato, and here, as inthe Phaedrus, though for a different reason, was rejected by him. Thatanachronisms whether of religion or law, when men have reached another stage ofcivilization, should be got rid of by fictions is in accordance with universalexperience. Great is the art of interpretation; and by a natural process, whichwhen once discovered was always going on, what could not be altered wasexplained away. And so without any palpable inconsistency there existed side byside two forms of religion, the tradition inherited or invented by the poetsand the customary worship of the temple; on the other hand, there was thereligion of the philosopher, who was dwelling in the heaven of ideas, but didnot therefore refuse to offer a cock to Aesculapius, or to be seen saying hisprayers at the rising of the sun. At length the antagonism between the popularand philosophical religion, never so great among the Greeks as in our own age,disappeared, and was only felt like the difference between the religion of theeducated and uneducated among ourselves. The Zeus of Homer and Hesiod easilypassed into the ‘royal mind’ of Plato (Philebus); the giantHeracles became the knight-errant and benefactor of mankind. These and stillmore wonderful transformations were readily effected by the ingenuity of Stoicsand neo-Platonists in the two or three centuries before and after Christ. TheGreek and Roman religions were gradually permeated by the spirit of philosophy;having lost their ancient meaning, they were resolved into poetry and morality;and probably were never purer than at the time of their decay, when theirinfluence over the world was waning.

A singular conception which occurs towards the end of the book is the lie inthe soul; this is connected with the Platonic and Socratic doctrine thatinvoluntary ignorance is worse than voluntary. The lie in the soul is a truelie, the corruption of the highest truth, the deception of the highest part ofthe soul, from which he who is deceived has no power of delivering himself. Forexample, to represent God as false or immoral, or, according to Plato, asdeluding men with appearances or as the author of evil; or again, to affirmwith Protagoras that ‘knowledge is sensation,’ or that ‘beingis becoming,’ or with Thrasymachus ‘that might is right,’would have been regarded by Plato as a lie of this hateful sort. The greatestunconsciousness of the greatest untruth, e.g. if, in the language of theGospels (John), ‘he who was blind’ were to say ‘I see,’is another aspect of the state of mind which Plato is describing. The lie inthe soul may be further compared with the sin against the Holy Ghost (Luke),allowing for the difference between Greek and Christian modes of speaking. Tothis is opposed the lie in words, which is only such a deception as may occurin a play or poem, or allegory or figure of speech, or in any sort ofaccommodation,—which though useless to the gods may be useful to men incertain cases. Socrates is here answering the question which he had himselfraised about the propriety of deceiving a madman; and he is also contrastingthe nature of God and man. For God is Truth, but mankind can only be true byappearing sometimes to be partial, or false. Reserving for another place thegreater questions of religion or education, we may note further, (1) theapproval of the old traditional education of Greece; (2) the preparation whichPlato is making for the attack on Homer and the poets; (3) the preparationwhich he is also making for the use of economies in the State; (4) thecontemptuous and at the same time euphemistic manner in which here as below healludes to the ‘Chronique Scandaleuse’ of the gods.

BOOK III. There is another motive in purifying religion, which is to banishfear; for no man can be courageous who is afraid of death, or who believes thetales which are repeated by the poets concerning the world below. They must begently requested not to abuse hell; they may be reminded that their stories areboth untrue and discouraging. Nor must they be angry if we expunge obnoxiouspassages, such as the depressing words of Achilles—‘I would ratherbe a serving-man than rule over all the dead;’ and the verses which tellof the squalid mansions, the senseless shadows, the flitting soul mourning overlost strength and youth, the soul with a gibber going beneath the earth likesmoke, or the souls of the suitors which flutter about like bats. The terrorsand horrors of Cocytus and Styx, ghosts and sapless shades, and the rest oftheir Tartarean nomenclature, must vanish. Such tales may have their use; butthey are not the proper food for soldiers. As little can we admit the sorrowsand sympathies of the Homeric heroes:—Achilles, the son of Thetis, intears, throwing ashes on his head, or pacing up and down the sea-shore indistraction; or Priam, the cousin of the gods, crying aloud, rolling in themire. A good man is not prostrated at the loss of children or fortune. Neitheris death terrible to him; and therefore lamentations over the dead should notbe practised by men of note; they should be the concern of inferior personsonly, whether women or men. Still worse is the attribution of such weakness tothe gods; as when the goddesses say, ‘Alas! my travail!’ and worstof all, when the king of heaven himself laments his inability to save Hector,or sorrows over the impending doom of his dear Sarpedon. Such a character ofGod, if not ridiculed by our young men, is likely to be imitated by them. Norshould our citizens be given to excess of laughter—‘Such violentdelights’ are followed by a violent re-action. The description in theIliad of the gods shaking their sides at the clumsiness of Hephaestus will notbe admitted by us. ‘Certainly not.’

Truth should have a high place among the virtues, for falsehood, as we weresaying, is useless to the gods, and only useful to men as a medicine. But thisemployment of falsehood must remain a privilege of state; the common man mustnot in return tell a lie to the ruler; any more than the patient would tell alie to his physician, or the sailor to his captain.

In the next place our youth must be temperate, and temperance consists inself-control and obedience to authority. That is a lesson which Homer teachesin some places: ‘The Achaeans marched on breathing prowess, in silent aweof their leaders;’—but a very different one in other places:‘O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog, but the heart of astag.’ Language of the latter kind will not impress self-control on theminds of youth. The same may be said about his praises of eating and drinkingand his dread of starvation; also about the verses in which he tells of therapturous loves of Zeus and Here, or of how Hephaestus once detained Ares andAphrodite in a net on a similar occasion. There is a nobler strain heard in thewords:—‘Endure, my soul, thou hast endured worse.’ Nor mustwe allow our citizens to receive bribes, or to say, ‘Gifts persuade thegods, gifts reverend kings;’ or to applaud the ignoble advice of Phoenixto Achilles that he should get money out of the Greeks before he assisted them;or the meanness of Achilles himself in taking gifts from Agamemnon; or hisrequiring a ransom for the body of Hector; or his cursing of Apollo; or hisinsolence to the river-god Scamander; or his dedication to the dead Patroclusof his own hair which had been already dedicated to the other river-godSpercheius; or his cruelty in dragging the body of Hector round the walls, andslaying the captives at the pyre: such a combination of meanness and cruelty inCheiron’s pupil is inconceivable. The amatory exploits of Peirithous andTheseus are equally unworthy. Either these so-called sons of gods were not thesons of gods, or they were not such as the poets imagine them, any more thanthe gods themselves are the authors of evil. The youth who believes that suchthings are done by those who have the blood of heaven flowing in their veinswill be too ready to imitate their example.

Enough of gods and heroes;—what shall we say about men? What the poetsand story-tellers say—that the wicked prosper and the righteous areafflicted, or that justice is another’s gain? Such misrepresentationscannot be allowed by us. But in this we are anticipating the definition ofjustice, and had therefore better defer the enquiry.

The subjects of poetry have been sufficiently treated; next follows style. Nowall poetry is a narrative of events past, present, or to come; and narrative isof three kinds, the simple, the imitative, and a composition of the two. Aninstance will make my meaning clear. The first scene in Homer is of the last ormixed kind, being partly description and partly dialogue. But if you throw thedialogue into the ‘oratio obliqua,’ the passage will run thus: Thepriest came and prayed Apollo that the Achaeans might take Troy and have a safereturn if Agamemnon would only give him back his daughter; and the other Greeksassented, but Agamemnon was wroth, and so on—The whole then becomesdescriptive, and the poet is the only speaker left; or, if you omit thenarrative, the whole becomes dialogue. These are the three styles—whichof them is to be admitted into our State? ‘Do you ask whether tragedy andcomedy are to be admitted?’ Yes, but also something more—Is it notdoubtful whether our guardians are to be imitators at all? Or rather, has notthe question been already answered, for we have decided that one man cannot inhis life play many parts, any more than he can act both tragedy and comedy, orbe rhapsodist and actor at once? Human nature is coined into very small pieces,and as our guardians have their own business already, which is the care offreedom, they will have enough to do without imitating. If they imitate theyshould imitate, not any meanness or baseness, but the good only; for the maskwhich the actor wears is apt to become his face. We cannot allow men to playthe parts of women, quarrelling, weeping, scolding, or boasting against thegods,—least of all when making love or in labour. They must not representslaves, or bullies, or cowards, drunkards, or madmen, or blacksmiths, orneighing horses, or bellowing bulls, or sounding rivers, or a raging sea. Agood or wise man will be willing to perform good and wise actions, but he willbe ashamed to play an inferior part which he has never practised; and he willprefer to employ the descriptive style with as little imitation as possible.The man who has no self-respect, on the contrary, will imitate anybody andanything; sounds of nature and cries of animals alike; his whole performancewill be imitation of gesture and voice. Now in the descriptive style there arefew changes, but in the dramatic there are a great many. Poets and musiciansuse either, or a compound of both, and this compound is very attractive toyouth and their teachers as well as to the vulgar. But our State in which oneman plays one part only is not adapted for complexity. And when one of thesepolyphonous pantomimic gentlemen offers to exhibit himself and his poetry wewill show him every observance of respect, but at the same time tell him thatthere is no room for his kind in our State; we prefer the rough, honest poet,and will not depart from our original models (Laws).

Next as to the music. A song or ode has three parts,—the subject, theharmony, and the rhythm; of which the two last are dependent upon the first. Aswe banished strains of lamentation, so we may now banish the mixed Lydianharmonies, which are the harmonies of lamentation; and as our citizens are tobe temperate, we may also banish convivial harmonies, such as the Ionian andpure Lydian. Two remain—the Dorian and Phrygian, the first for war, thesecond for peace; the one expressive of courage, the other of obedience orinstruction or religious feeling. And as we reject varieties of harmony, weshall also reject the many-stringed, variously-shaped instruments which giveutterance to them, and in particular the flute, which is more complex than anyof them. The lyre and the harp may be permitted in the town, and thePan’s-pipe in the fields. Thus we have made a purgation of music, andwill now make a purgation of metres. These should be like the harmonies, simpleand suitable to the occasion. There are four notes of the tetrachord, and thereare three ratios of metre, 3/2, 2/2, 2/1, which have all their characteristics,and the feet have different characteristics as well as the rhythms. But aboutthis you and I must ask Damon, the great musician, who speaks, if I rememberrightly, of a martial measure as well as of dactylic, trochaic, and iambicrhythms, which he arranges so as to equalize the syllables with one another,assigning to each the proper quantity. We only venture to affirm the generalprinciple that the style is to conform to the subject and the metre to thestyle; and that the simplicity and harmony of the soul should be reflected inthem all. This principle of simplicity has to be learnt by every one in thedays of his youth, and may be gathered anywhere, from the creative andconstructive arts, as well as from the forms of plants and animals.

Other artists as well as poets should be warned against meanness orunseemliness. Sculpture and painting equally with music must conform to the lawof simplicity. He who violates it cannot be allowed to work in our city, and tocorrupt the taste of our citizens. For our guardians must grow up, not amidimages of deformity which will gradually poison and corrupt their souls, but ina land of health and beauty where they will drink in from every object sweetand harmonious influences. And of all these influences the greatest is theeducation given by music, which finds a way into the innermost soul and impartsto it the sense of beauty and of deformity. At first the effect is unconscious;but when reason arrives, then he who has been thus trained welcomes her as thefriend whom he always knew. As in learning to read, first we acquire theelements or letters separately, and afterwards their combinations, and cannotrecognize reflections of them until we know the letters themselves;—inlike manner we must first attain the elements or essential forms of thevirtues, and then trace their combinations in life and experience. There is amusic of the soul which answers to the harmony of the world; and the fairestobject of a musical soul is the fair mind in the fair body. Some defect in thelatter may be excused, but not in the former. True love is the daughter oftemperance, and temperance is utterly opposed to the madness of bodilypleasure. Enough has been said of music, which makes a fair ending with love.

Next we pass on to gymnastics; about which I would remark, that the soul isrelated to the body as a cause to an effect, and therefore if we educate themind we may leave the education of the body in her charge, and need only give ageneral outline of the course to be pursued. In the first place the guardiansmust abstain from strong drink, for they should be the last persons to losetheir wits. Whether the habits of the palaestra are suitable to them is moredoubtful, for the ordinary gymnastic is a sleepy sort of thing, and if left offsuddenly is apt to endanger health. But our warrior athletes must be wide-awakedogs, and must also be inured to all changes of food and climate. Hence theywill require a simpler kind of gymnastic, akin to their simple music; and fortheir diet a rule may be found in Homer, who feeds his heroes on roast meatonly, and gives them no fish although they are living at the sea-side, norboiled meats which involve an apparatus of pots and pans; and, if I am notmistaken, he nowhere mentions sweet sauces. Sicilian cookery and Atticconfections and Corinthian courtezans, which are to gymnastic what Lydian andIonian melodies are to music, must be forbidden. Where gluttony andintemperance prevail the town quickly fills with doctors and pleaders; and lawand medicine give themselves airs as soon as the freemen of a State take aninterest in them. But what can show a more disgraceful state of education thanto have to go abroad for justice because you have none of your own at home? Andyet there IS a worse stage of the same disease—when men have learned totake a pleasure and pride in the twists and turns of the law; not consideringhow much better it would be for them so to order their lives as to have no needof a nodding justice. And there is a like disgrace in employing a physician,not for the cure of wounds or epidemic disorders, but because a man has bylaziness and luxury contracted diseases which were unknown in the days ofAsclepius. How simple is the Homeric practice of medicine. Eurypylus after hehas been wounded drinks a posset of Pramnian wine, which is of a heatingnature; and yet the sons of Asclepius blame neither the damsel who gives himthe drink, nor Patroclus who is attending on him. The truth is that this modernsystem of nursing diseases was introduced by Herodicus the trainer; who, beingof a sickly constitution, by a compound of training and medicine tortured firsthimself and then a good many other people, and lived a great deal longer thanhe had any right. But Asclepius would not practise this art, because he knewthat the citizens of a well-ordered State have no leisure to be ill, andtherefore he adopted the ‘kill or cure’ method, which artisans andlabourers employ. ‘They must be at their business,’ they say,‘and have no time for coddling: if they recover, well; if theydon’t, there is an end of them.’ Whereas the rich man is supposedto be a gentleman who can afford to be ill. Do you know a maxim ofPhocylides—that ‘when a man begins to be rich’ (or, perhaps,a little sooner) ‘he should practise virtue’? But how can excessivecare of health be inconsistent with an ordinary occupation, and yet consistentwith that practice of virtue which Phocylides inculcates? When a studentimagines that philosophy gives him a headache, he never does anything; he isalways unwell. This was the reason why Asclepius and his sons practised no suchart. They were acting in the interest of the public, and did not wish topreserve useless lives, or raise up a puny offspring to wretched sires. Honestdiseases they honestly cured; and if a man was wounded, they applied the properremedies, and then let him eat and drink what he liked. But they declined totreat intemperate and worthless subjects, even though they might have madelarge fortunes out of them. As to the story of Pindar, that Asclepius was slainby a thunderbolt for restoring a rich man to life, that is alie—following our old rule we must say either that he did not takebribes, or that he was not the son of a god.

Glaucon then asks Socrates whether the best physicians and the best judges willnot be those who have had severally the greatest experience of diseases and ofcrimes. Socrates draws a distinction between the two professions. The physicianshould have had experience of disease in his own body, for he cures with hismind and not with his body. But the judge controls mind by mind; and thereforehis mind should not be corrupted by crime. Where then is he to gain experience?How is he to be wise and also innocent? When young a good man is apt to bedeceived by evil-doers, because he has no pattern of evil in himself; andtherefore the judge should be of a certain age; his youth should have beeninnocent, and he should have acquired insight into evil not by the practice ofit, but by the observation of it in others. This is the ideal of a judge; thecriminal turned detective is wonderfully suspicious, but when in company withgood men who have experience, he is at fault, for he foolishly imagines thatevery one is as bad as himself. Vice may be known of virtue, but cannot knowvirtue. This is the sort of medicine and this the sort of law which willprevail in our State; they will be healing arts to better natures; but the evilbody will be left to die by the one, and the evil soul will be put to death bythe other. And the need of either will be greatly diminished by good musicwhich will give harmony to the soul, and good gymnastic which will give healthto the body. Not that this division of music and gymnastic really correspondsto soul and body; for they are both equally concerned with the soul, which istamed by the one and aroused and sustained by the other. The two togethersupply our guardians with their twofold nature. The passionate disposition whenit has too much gymnastic is hardened and brutalized, the gentle or philosophictemper which has too much music becomes enervated. While a man is allowingmusic to pour like water through the funnel of his ears, the edge of his soulgradually wears away, and the passionate or spirited element is melted out ofhim. Too little spirit is easily exhausted; too much quickly passes intonervous irritability. So, again, the athlete by feeding and training has hiscourage doubled, but he soon grows stupid; he is like a wild beast, ready to doeverything by blows and nothing by counsel or policy. There are two principlesin man, reason and passion, and to these, not to the soul and body, the twoarts of music and gymnastic correspond. He who mingles them in harmoniousconcord is the true musician,—he shall be the presiding genius of ourState.

The next question is, Who are to be our rulers? First, the elder must rule theyounger; and the best of the elders will be the best guardians. Now they willbe the best who love their subjects most, and think that they have a commoninterest with them in the welfare of the state. These we must select; but theymust be watched at every epoch of life to see whether they have retained thesame opinions and held out against force and enchantment. For time andpersuasion and the love of pleasure may enchant a man into a change of purpose,and the force of grief and pain may compel him. And therefore our guardiansmust be men who have been tried by many tests, like gold in the refiner’sfire, and have been passed first through danger, then through pleasure, and atevery age have come out of such trials victorious and without stain, in fullcommand of themselves and their principles; having all their faculties inharmonious exercise for their country’s good. These shall receive thehighest honours both in life and death. (It would perhaps be better to confinethe term ‘guardians’ to this select class: the younger men may becalled ‘auxiliaries.’)

And now for one magnificent lie, in the belief of which, Oh that we could trainour rulers!—at any rate let us make the attempt with the rest of theworld. What I am going to tell is only another version of the legend of Cadmus;but our unbelieving generation will be slow to accept such a story. The talemust be imparted, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, lastly to thepeople. We will inform them that their youth was a dream, and that during thetime when they seemed to be undergoing their education they were really beingfashioned in the earth, who sent them up when they were ready; and that theymust protect and cherish her whose children they are, and regard each other asbrothers and sisters. ‘I do not wonder at your being ashamed to propoundsuch a fiction.’ There is more behind. These brothers and sisters havedifferent natures, and some of them God framed to rule, whom he fashioned ofgold; others he made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again to behusbandmen and craftsmen, and these were formed by him of brass and iron. Butas they are all sprung from a common stock, a golden parent may have a silverson, or a silver parent a golden son, and then there must be a change of rank;the son of the rich must descend, and the child of the artisan rise, in thesocial scale; for an oracle says ‘that the State will come to an end ifgoverned by a man of brass or iron.’ Will our citizens ever believe allthis? ‘Not in the present generation, but in the next, perhaps,Yes.’

Now let the earthborn men go forth under the command of their rulers, and lookabout and pitch their camp in a high place, which will be safe against enemiesfrom without, and likewise against insurrections from within. There let themsacrifice and set up their tents; for soldiers they are to be and notshopkeepers, the watchdogs and guardians of the sheep; and luxury and avaricewill turn them into wolves and tyrants. Their habits and their dwellings shouldcorrespond to their education. They should have no property; their pay shouldonly meet their expenses; and they should have common meals. Gold and silver wewill tell them that they have from God, and this divine gift in their soulsthey must not alloy with that earthly dross which passes under the name ofgold. They only of the citizens may not touch it, or be under the same roofwith it, or drink from it; it is the accursed thing. Should they ever acquirehouses or lands or money of their own, they will become householders andtradesmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of helpers, and thehour of ruin, both to themselves and the rest of the State, will be at hand.

The religious and ethical aspect of Plato’s education will hereafter beconsidered under a separate head. Some lesser points may be more convenientlynoticed in this place.

1. The constant appeal to the authority of Homer, whom, with grave irony,Plato, after the manner of his age, summons as a witness about ethics andpsychology, as well as about diet and medicine; attempting to distinguish thebetter lesson from the worse, sometimes altering the text from design; morethan once quoting or alluding to Homer inaccurately, after the manner of theearly logographers turning the Iliad into prose, and delighting to drawfar-fetched inferences from his words, or to make ludicrous applications ofthem. He does not, like Heracleitus, get into a rage with Homer and Archilochus(Heracl.), but uses their words and expressions as vehicles of a higher truth;not on a system like Theagenes of Rhegium or Metrodorus, or in later times theStoics, but as fancy may dictate. And the conclusions drawn from them aresound, although the premises are fictitious. These fanciful appeals to Homeradd a charm to Plato’s style, and at the same time they have the effectof a satire on the follies of Homeric interpretation. To us (and probably tohimself), although they take the form of arguments, they are really figures ofspeech. They may be compared with modern citations from Scripture, which haveoften a great rhetorical power even when the original meaning of the words isentirely lost sight of. The real, like the Platonic Socrates, as we gather fromthe Memorabilia of Xenophon, was fond of making similar adaptations. Great inall ages and countries, in religion as well as in law and literature, has beenthe art of interpretation.

2. ‘The style is to conform to the subject and the metre to thestyle.’ Notwithstanding the fascination which the word‘classical’ exercises over us, we can hardly maintain that thisrule is observed in all the Greek poetry which has come down to us. We cannotdeny that the thought often exceeds the power of lucid expression in Aeschylusand Pindar; or that rhetoric gets the better of the thought in the Sophist-poetEuripides. Only perhaps in Sophocles is there a perfect harmony of the two; inhim alone do we find a grace of language like the beauty of a Greek statue, inwhich there is nothing to add or to take away; at least this is true of singleplays or of large portions of them. The connection in the Tragic Choruses andin the Greek lyric poets is not unfrequently a tangled thread which in an agebefore logic the poet was unable to draw out. Many thoughts and feelingsmingled in his mind, and he had no power of disengaging or arranging them. Forthere is a subtle influence of logic which requires to be transferred fromprose to poetry, just as the music and perfection of language are infused bypoetry into prose. In all ages the poet has been a bad judge of his own meaning(Apol.); for he does not see that the word which is full of associations to hisown mind is difficult and unmeaning to that of another; or that the sequencewhich is clear to himself is puzzling to others. There are many passages insome of our greatest modern poets which are far too obscure; in which there isno proportion between style and subject, in which any half-expressed figure,any harsh construction, any distorted collocation of words, any remote sequenceof ideas is admitted; and there is no voice ‘coming sweetly fromnature,’ or music adding the expression of feeling to thought. As ifthere could be poetry without beauty, or beauty without ease and clearness. Theobscurities of early Greek poets arose necessarily out of the state of languageand logic which existed in their age. They are not examples to be followed byus; for the use of language ought in every generation to become clearer andclearer. Like Shakespere, they were great in spite, not in consequence, oftheir imperfections of expression. But there is no reason for returning to thenecessary obscurity which prevailed in the infancy of literature. The Englishpoets of the last century were certainly not obscure; and we have no excuse forlosing what they had gained, or for going back to the earlier or transitionalage which preceded them. The thought of our own times has not out-strippedlanguage; a want of Plato’s ‘art of measuring’ is the rulecause of the disproportion between them.

3. In the third book of the Republic a nearer approach is made to a theory ofart than anywhere else in Plato. His views may be summed up asfollows:—True art is not fanciful and imitative, but simple andideal,—the expression of the highest moral energy, whether in action orrepose. To live among works of plastic art which are of this noble and simplecharacter, or to listen to such strains, is the best of influences,—thetrue Greek atmosphere, in which youth should be brought up. That is the way tocreate in them a natural good taste, which will have a feeling of truth andbeauty in all things. For though the poets are to be expelled, still art isrecognized as another aspect of reason—like love in the Symposium,extending over the same sphere, but confined to the preliminary education, andacting through the power of habit; and this conception of art is not limited tostrains of music or the forms of plastic art, but pervades all nature and has awide kindred in the world. The Republic of Plato, like the Athens of Pericles,has an artistic as well as a political side.

There is hardly any mention in Plato of the creative arts; only in two or threepassages does he even allude to them (Rep.; Soph.). He is not lost in raptureat the great works of Phidias, the Parthenon, the Propylea, the statues of Zeusor Athene. He would probably have regarded any abstract truth of number orfigure as higher than the greatest of them. Yet it is hard to suppose that someinfluence, such as he hopes to inspire in youth, did not pass into his own mindfrom the works of art which he saw around him. We are living upon the fragmentsof them, and find in a few broken stones the standard of truth and beauty. Butin Plato this feeling has no expression; he nowhere says that beauty is theobject of art; he seems to deny that wisdom can take an external form(Phaedrus); he does not distinguish the fine from the mechanical arts. Whetheror no, like some writers, he felt more than he expressed, it is at any rateremarkable that the greatest perfection of the fine arts should coincide withan almost entire silence about them. In one very striking passage he tells usthat a work of art, like the State, is a whole; and this conception of a wholeand the love of the newly-born mathematical sciences may be regarded, if not asthe inspiring, at any rate as the regulating principles of Greek art (Xen.Mem.; and Sophist).

4. Plato makes the true and subtle remark that the physician had better not bein robust health; and should have known what illness is in his own person. Butthe judge ought to have had no similar experience of evil; he is to be a goodman who, having passed his youth in innocence, became acquainted late in lifewith the vices of others. And therefore, according to Plato, a judge should notbe young, just as a young man according to Aristotle is not fit to be a hearerof moral philosophy. The bad, on the other hand, have a knowledge of vice, butno knowledge of virtue. It may be doubted, however, whether this train ofreflection is well founded. In a remarkable passage of the Laws it isacknowledged that the evil may form a correct estimate of the good. The unionof gentleness and courage in Book ii. at first seemed to be a paradox, yet wasafterwards ascertained to be a truth. And Plato might also have found that theintuition of evil may be consistent with the abhorrence of it. There is adirectness of aim in virtue which gives an insight into vice. And the knowledgeof character is in some degree a natural sense independent of any specialexperience of good or evil.

5. One of the most remarkable conceptions of Plato, because un-Greek and alsovery different from anything which existed at all in his age of the world, isthe transposition of ranks. In the Spartan state there had been enfranchisementof Helots and degradation of citizens under special circumstances. And in theancient Greek aristocracies, merit was certainly recognized as one of theelements on which government was based. The founders of states were supposed tobe their benefactors, who were raised by their great actions above the ordinarylevel of humanity; at a later period, the services of warriors and legislatorswere held to entitle them and their descendants to the privileges ofcitizenship and to the first rank in the state. And although the existence ofan ideal aristocracy is slenderly proven from the remains of early Greekhistory, and we have a difficulty in ascribing such a character, however theidea may be defined, to any actual Hellenic state—or indeed to any statewhich has ever existed in the world—still the rule of the best wascertainly the aspiration of philosophers, who probably accommodated a good dealtheir views of primitive history to their own notions of good government. Platofurther insists on applying to the guardians of his state a series of tests bywhich all those who fell short of a fixed standard were either removed from thegoverning body, or not admitted to it; and this ‘academic’discipline did to a certain extent prevail in Greek states, especially inSparta. He also indicates that the system of caste, which existed in a greatpart of the ancient, and is by no means extinct in the modern European world,should be set aside from time to time in favour of merit. He is aware howdeeply the greater part of mankind resent any interference with the order ofsociety, and therefore he proposes his novel idea in the form of what hehimself calls a ‘monstrous fiction.’ (Compare the ceremony ofpreparation for the two ‘great waves’ in Book v.) Two principlesare indicated by him: first, that there is a distinction of ranks dependent oncircumstances prior to the individual: second, that this distinction is andought to be broken through by personal qualities. He adapts mythology like theHomeric poems to the wants of the state, making ‘the Phoeniciantale’ the vehicle of his ideas. Every Greek state had a myth respectingits own origin; the Platonic republic may also have a tale of earthborn men.The gravity and verisimilitude with which the tale is told, and the analogy ofGreek tradition, are a sufficient verification of the ‘monstrousfalsehood.’ Ancient poetry had spoken of a gold and silver and brass andiron age succeeding one another, but Plato supposes these differences in thenatures of men to exist together in a single state. Mythology supplies a figureunder which the lesson may be taught (as Protagoras says, ‘the myth ismore interesting’), and also enables Plato to touch lightly on newprinciples without going into details. In this passage he shadows forth ageneral truth, but he does not tell us by what steps the transposition of ranksis to be effected. Indeed throughout the Republic he allows the lower ranks tofade into the distance. We do not know whether they are to carry arms, andwhether in the fifth book they are or are not included in the communisticregulations respecting property and marriage. Nor is there any use in arguingstrictly either from a few chance words, or from the silence of Plato, or indrawing inferences which were beyond his vision. Aristotle, in his criticism onthe position of the lower classes, does not perceive that the poetical creationis ‘like the air, invulnerable,’ and cannot be penetrated by theshafts of his logic (Pol.).

6. Two paradoxes which strike the modern reader as in the highest degreefanciful and ideal, and which suggest to him many reflections, are to be foundin the third book of the Republic: first, the great power of music, so muchbeyond any influence which is experienced by us in modern times, when the artor science has been far more developed, and has found the secret of harmony, aswell as of melody; secondly, the indefinite and almost absolute control whichthe soul is supposed to exercise over the body.

In the first we suspect some degree of exaggeration, such as we may alsoobserve among certain masters of the art, not unknown to us, at the presentday. With this natural enthusiasm, which is felt by a few only, there seems tomingle in Plato a sort of Pythagorean reverence for numbers and numericalproportion to which Aristotle is a stranger. Intervals of sound and number areto him sacred things which have a law of their own, not dependent on thevariations of sense. They rise above sense, and become a connecting link withthe world of ideas. But it is evident that Plato is describing what to himappears to be also a fact. The power of a simple and characteristic melody onthe impressible mind of the Greek is more than we can easily appreciate. Theeffect of national airs may bear some comparison with it. And, besides allthis, there is a confusion between the harmony of musical notes and the harmonyof soul and body, which is so potently inspired by them.

The second paradox leads up to some curious and interesting questions—Howfar can the mind control the body? Is the relation between them one of mutualantagonism or of mutual harmony? Are they two or one, and is either of them thecause of the other? May we not at times drop the opposition between them, andthe mode of describing them, which is so familiar to us, and yet hardly conveysany precise meaning, and try to view this composite creature, man, in a moresimple manner? Must we not at any rate admit that there is in human nature ahigher and a lower principle, divided by no distinct line, which at times breakasunder and take up arms against one another? Or again, they are reconciled andmove together, either unconsciously in the ordinary work of life, orconsciously in the pursuit of some noble aim, to be attained not without aneffort, and for which every thought and nerve are strained. And then the bodybecomes the good friend or ally, or servant or instrument of the mind. And themind has often a wonderful and almost superhuman power of banishing disease andweakness and calling out a hidden strength. Reason and the desires, theintellect and the senses are brought into harmony and obedience so as to form asingle human being. They are ever parting, ever meeting; and the identity ordiversity of their tendencies or operations is for the most part unnoticed byus. When the mind touches the body through the appetites, we acknowledge theresponsibility of the one to the other. There is a tendency in us which says‘Drink.’ There is another which says, ‘Do not drink; it isnot good for you.’ And we all of us know which is the rightful superior.We are also responsible for our health, although into this sphere there entersome elements of necessity which may be beyond our control. Still even in themanagement of health, care and thought, continued over many years, may make usalmost free agents, if we do not exact too much of ourselves, and if weacknowledge that all human freedom is limited by the laws of nature and ofmind.

We are disappointed to find that Plato, in the general condemnation which hepasses on the practice of medicine prevailing in his own day, depreciates theeffects of diet. He would like to have diseases of a definite character andcapable of receiving a definite treatment. He is afraid of invalidisminterfering with the business of life. He does not recognize that time is thegreat healer both of mental and bodily disorders; and that remedies which aregradual and proceed little by little are safer than those which produce asudden catastrophe. Neither does he see that there is no way in which the mindcan more surely influence the body than by the control of eating and drinking;or any other action or occasion of human life on which the higher freedom ofthe will can be more simple or truly asserted.

7. Lesser matters of style may be remarked.

(1) The affected ignorance of music, which is Plato’s way of expressingthat he is passing lightly over the subject.

(2) The tentative manner in which here, as in the second book, he proceeds withthe construction of the State.

(3) The description of the State sometimes as a reality, and then again as awork of imagination only; these are the arts by which he sustains thereader’s interest.

(4) Connecting links, or the preparation for the entire expulsion of the poetsin Book X.

(5) The companion pictures of the lover of litigation and the valetudinarian,the satirical jest about the maxim of Phocylides, the manner in which the imageof the gold and silver citizens is taken up into the subject, and the argumentfrom the practice of Asclepius, should not escape notice.

BOOK IV. Adeimantus said: ‘Suppose a person to argue, Socrates, that youmake your citizens miserable, and this by their own free-will; they are thelords of the city, and yet instead of having, like other men, lands and housesand money of their own, they live as mercenaries and are always mountingguard.’ You may add, I replied, that they receive no pay but only theirfood, and have no money to spend on a journey or a mistress. ‘Well, andwhat answer do you give?’ My answer is, that our guardians may or may notbe the happiest of men,—I should not be surprised to find in the long-runthat they were,—but this is not the aim of our constitution, which wasdesigned for the good of the whole and not of any one part. If I went to asculptor and blamed him for having painted the eye, which is the noblestfeature of the face, not purple but black, he would reply: ‘The eye mustbe an eye, and you should look at the statue as a whole.’ ‘Now Ican well imagine a fool’s paradise, in which everybody is eating anddrinking, clothed in purple and fine linen, and potters lie on sofas and havetheir wheel at hand, that they may work a little when they please; and cobblersand all the other classes of a State lose their distinctive character. And aState may get on without cobblers; but when the guardians degenerate into booncompanions, then the ruin is complete. Remember that we are not talking ofpeasants keeping holiday, but of a State in which every man is expected to dohis own work. The happiness resides not in this or that class, but in the Stateas a whole. I have another remark to make:—A middle condition is best forartisans; they should have money enough to buy tools, and not enough to beindependent of business. And will not the same condition be best for ourcitizens? If they are poor, they will be mean; if rich, luxurious and lazy; andin neither case contented. ‘But then how will our poor city be able to goto war against an enemy who has money?’ There may be a difficulty infighting against one enemy; against two there will be none. In the first place,the contest will be carried on by trained warriors against well-to-do citizens:and is not a regular athlete an easy match for two stout opponents at least?Suppose also, that before engaging we send ambassadors to one of the twocities, saying, ‘Silver and gold we have not; do you help us and take ourshare of the spoil;’—who would fight against the lean, wiry dogs,when they might join with them in preying upon the fatted sheep? ‘But ifmany states join their resources, shall we not be in danger?’ I am amusedto hear you use the word ‘state’ of any but our own State. They are‘states,’ but not ‘a state’—many in one. For inevery state there are two hostile nations, rich and poor, which you may set oneagainst the other. But our State, while she remains true to her principles,will be in very deed the mightiest of Hellenic states.

To the size of the state there is no limit but the necessity of unity; it mustbe neither too large nor too small to be one. This is a matter of secondaryimportance, like the principle of transposition which was intimated in theparable of the earthborn men. The meaning there implied was that every manshould do that for which he was fitted, and be at one with himself, and thenthe whole city would be united. But all these things are secondary, ifeducation, which is the great matter, be duly regarded. When the wheel has oncebeen set in motion, the speed is always increasing; and each generationimproves upon the preceding, both in physical and moral qualities. The care ofthe governors should be directed to preserve music and gymnastic frominnovation; alter the songs of a country, Damon says, and you will soon end byaltering its laws. The change appears innocent at first, and begins in play;but the evil soon becomes serious, working secretly upon the characters ofindividuals, then upon social and commercial relations, and lastly upon theinstitutions of a state; and there is ruin and confusion everywhere. But ifeducation remains in the established form, there will be no danger. Arestorative process will be always going on; the spirit of law and order willraise up what has fallen down. Nor will any regulations be needed for thelesser matters of life—rules of deportment or fashions of dress. Likeinvites like for good or for evil. Education will correct deficiencies andsupply the power of self-government. Far be it from us to enter into theparticulars of legislation; let the guardians take care of education, andeducation will take care of all other things.

But without education they may patch and mend as they please; they will make noprogress, any more than a patient who thinks to cure himself by some favouriteremedy and will not give up his luxurious mode of living. If you tell suchpersons that they must first alter their habits, then they grow angry; they arecharming people. ‘Charming,—nay, the very reverse.’ Evidentlythese gentlemen are not in your good graces, nor the state which is like them.And such states there are which first ordain under penalty of death that no oneshall alter the constitution, and then suffer themselves to be flattered intoand out of anything; and he who indulges them and fawns upon them, is theirleader and saviour. ‘Yes, the men are as bad as the states.’ But doyou not admire their cleverness? ‘Nay, some of them are stupid enough tobelieve what the people tell them.’ And when all the world is telling aman that he is six feet high, and he has no measure, how can he believeanything else? But don’t get into a passion: to see our statesmen tryingtheir nostrums, and fancying that they can cut off at a blow the Hydra-likerogueries of mankind, is as good as a play. Minute enactments are superfluousin good states, and are useless in bad ones.

And now what remains of the work of legislation? Nothing for us; but to Apollothe god of Delphi we leave the ordering of the greatest of allthings—that is to say, religion. Only our ancestral deity sitting uponthe centre and navel of the earth will be trusted by us if we have any sense,in an affair of such magnitude. No foreign god shall be supreme in ourrealms...

Here, as Socrates would say, let us ‘reflect on’ (Greek) what haspreceded: thus far we have spoken not of the happiness of the citizens, butonly of the well-being of the State. They may be the happiest of men, but ourprincipal aim in founding the State was not to make them happy. They were to beguardians, not holiday-makers. In this pleasant manner is presented to us thefamous question both of ancient and modern philosophy, touching the relation ofduty to happiness, of right to utility.

First duty, then happiness, is the natural order of our moral ideas. Theutilitarian principle is valuable as a corrective of error, and shows to us aside of ethics which is apt to be neglected. It may be admitted further thatright and utility are co-extensive, and that he who makes the happiness ofmankind his object has one of the highest and noblest motives of human action.But utility is not the historical basis of morality; nor the aspect in whichmoral and religious ideas commonly occur to the mind. The greatest happiness ofall is, as we believe, the far-off result of the divine government of theuniverse. The greatest happiness of the individual is certainly to be found ina life of virtue and goodness. But we seem to be more assured of a law of rightthan we can be of a divine purpose, that ‘all mankind should besaved;’ and we infer the one from the other. And the greatest happinessof the individual may be the reverse of the greatest happiness in the ordinarysense of the term, and may be realised in a life of pain, or in a voluntarydeath. Further, the word ‘happiness’ has several ambiguities; itmay mean either pleasure or an ideal life, happiness subjective or objective,in this world or in another, of ourselves only or of our neighbours and of allmen everywhere. By the modern founder of Utilitarianism the self-regarding anddisinterested motives of action are included under the same term, although theyare commonly opposed by us as benevolence and self-love. The word happiness hasnot the definiteness or the sacredness of ‘truth’ and‘right’; it does not equally appeal to our higher nature, and hasnot sunk into the conscience of mankind. It is associated too much with thecomforts and conveniences of life; too little with ‘the goods of the soulwhich we desire for their own sake.’ In a great trial, or danger, ortemptation, or in any great and heroic action, it is scarcely thought of. Forthese reasons ‘the greatest happiness’ principle is not the truefoundation of ethics. But though not the first principle, it is the second,which is like unto it, and is often of easier application. For the larger partof human actions are neither right nor wrong, except in so far as they tend tothe happiness of mankind (Introd. to Gorgias and Philebus).

The same question reappears in politics, where the useful or expedient seems toclaim a larger sphere and to have a greater authority. For concerning politicalmeasures, we chiefly ask: How will they affect the happiness of mankind? Yethere too we may observe that what we term expediency is merely the law of rightlimited by the conditions of human society. Right and truth are the highestaims of government as well as of individuals; and we ought not to lose sight ofthem because we cannot directly enforce them. They appeal to the better mind ofnations; and sometimes they are too much for merely temporal interests toresist. They are the watchwords which all men use in matters of public policy,as well as in their private dealings; the peace of Europe may be said to dependupon them. In the most commercial and utilitarian states of society the powerof ideas remains. And all the higher class of statesmen have in them somethingof that idealism which Pericles is said to have gathered from the teaching ofAnaxagoras. They recognise that the true leader of men must be above themotives of ambition, and that national character is of greater value thanmaterial comfort and prosperity. And this is the order of thought in Plato;first, he expects his citizens to do their duty, and then under favourablecircumstances, that is to say, in a well-ordered State, their happiness isassured. That he was far from excluding the modern principle of utility inpolitics is sufficiently evident from other passages; in which ‘the mostbeneficial is affirmed to be the most honourable’, and also ‘themost sacred’.

We may note

(1) The manner in which the objection of Adeimantus here, is designed to drawout and deepen the argument of Socrates.

(2) The conception of a whole as lying at the foundation both of politics andof art, in the latter supplying the only principle of criticism, which, underthe various names of harmony, symmetry, measure, proportion, unity, the Greekseems to have applied to works of art.

(3) The requirement that the State should be limited in size, after thetraditional model of a Greek state; as in the Politics of Aristotle, the factthat the cities of Hellas were small is converted into a principle.

(4) The humorous pictures of the lean dogs and the fatted sheep, of the lightactive boxer upsetting two stout gentlemen at least, of the‘charming’ patients who are always making themselves worse; oragain, the playful assumption that there is no State but our own; or the graveirony with which the statesman is excused who believes that he is six feet highbecause he is told so, and having nothing to measure with is to be pardoned forhis ignorance—he is too amusing for us to be seriously angry with him.

(5) The light and superficial manner in which religion is passed over whenprovision has been made for two great principles,—first, that religionshall be based on the highest conception of the gods, secondly, that the truenational or Hellenic type shall be maintained...

Socrates proceeds: But where amid all this is justice? Son of Ariston, tell mewhere. Light a candle and search the city, and get your brother and the rest ofour friends to help in seeking for her. ‘That won’t do,’replied Glaucon, ‘you yourself promised to make the search and talkedabout the impiety of deserting justice.’ Well, I said, I will lead theway, but do you follow. My notion is, that our State being perfect will containall the four virtues—wisdom, courage, temperance, justice. If weeliminate the three first, the unknown remainder will be justice.

First then, of wisdom: the State which we have called into being will be wisebecause politic. And policy is one among many kinds of skill,—not theskill of the carpenter, or of the worker in metal, or of the husbandman, butthe skill of him who advises about the interests of the whole State. Of such akind is the skill of the guardians, who are a small class in number, farsmaller than the blacksmiths; but in them is concentrated the wisdom of theState. And if this small ruling class have wisdom, then the whole State will bewise.

Our second virtue is courage, which we have no difficulty in finding in anotherclass—that of soldiers. Courage may be defined as a sort ofsalvation—the never-failing salvation of the opinions which law andeducation have prescribed concerning dangers. You know the way in which dyersfirst prepare the white ground and then lay on the dye of purple or of anyother colour. Colours dyed in this way become fixed, and no soap or lye willever wash them out. Now the ground is education, and the laws are the colours;and if the ground is properly laid, neither the soap of pleasure nor the lye ofpain or fear will ever wash them out. This power which preserves right opinionabout danger I would ask you to call ‘courage,’ adding the epithet‘political’ or ‘civilized’ in order to distinguish itfrom mere animal courage and from a higher courage which may hereafter bediscussed.

Two virtues remain; temperance and justice. More than the preceding virtuestemperance suggests the idea of harmony. Some light is thrown upon the natureof this virtue by the popular description of a man as ‘master ofhimself’—which has an absurd sound, because the master is also theservant. The expression really means that the better principle in a man mastersthe worse. There are in cities whole classes—women, slaves and thelike—who correspond to the worse, and a few only to the better; and inour State the former class are held under control by the latter. Now to whichof these classes does temperance belong? ‘To both of them.’ And ourState if any will be the abode of temperance; and we were right in describingthis virtue as a harmony which is diffused through the whole, making thedwellers in the city to be of one mind, and attuning the upper and middle andlower classes like the strings of an instrument, whether you suppose them todiffer in wisdom, strength or wealth.

And now we are near the spot; let us draw in and surround the cover and watchwith all our eyes, lest justice should slip away and escape. Tell me, if yousee the thicket move first. ‘Nay, I would have you lead.’ Wellthen, offer up a prayer and follow. The way is dark and difficult; but we mustpush on. I begin to see a track. ‘Good news.’ Why, Glaucon, ourdulness of scent is quite ludicrous! While we are straining our eyes into thedistance, justice is tumbling out at our feet. We are as bad as people lookingfor a thing which they have in their hands. Have you forgotten our oldprinciple of the division of labour, or of every man doing his own business,concerning which we spoke at the foundation of the State—what but thiswas justice? Is there any other virtue remaining which can compete with wisdomand temperance and courage in the scale of political virtue? For ‘everyone having his own’ is the great object of government; and the greatobject of trade is that every man should do his own business. Not that there ismuch harm in a carpenter trying to be a cobbler, or a cobbler transforminghimself into a carpenter; but great evil may arise from the cobbler leaving hislast and turning into a guardian or legislator, or when a single individual istrainer, warrior, legislator, all in one. And this evil is injustice, or everyman doing another’s business. I do not say that as yet we are in acondition to arrive at a final conclusion. For the definition which we believeto hold good in states has still to be tested by the individual. Having readthe large letters we will now come back to the small. From the two together abrilliant light may be struck out...

Socrates proceeds to discover the nature of justice by a method of residues.Each of the first three virtues corresponds to one of the three parts of thesoul and one of the three classes in the State, although the third, temperance,has more of the nature of a harmony than the first two. If there be a fourthvirtue, that can only be sought for in the relation of the three parts in thesoul or classes in the State to one another. It is obvious and simple, and forthat very reason has not been found out. The modern logician will be inclinedto object that ideas cannot be separated like chemical substances, but thatthey run into one another and may be only different aspects or names of thesame thing, and such in this instance appears to be the case. For thedefinition here given of justice is verbally the same as one of the definitionsof temperance given by Socrates in the Charmides, which however is onlyprovisional, and is afterwards rejected. And so far from justice remaining overwhen the other virtues are eliminated, the justice and temperance of theRepublic can with difficulty be distinguished. Temperance appears to be thevirtue of a part only, and one of three, whereas justice is a universal virtueof the whole soul. Yet on the other hand temperance is also described as a sortof harmony, and in this respect is akin to justice. Justice seems to differfrom temperance in degree rather than in kind; whereas temperance is theharmony of discordant elements, justice is the perfect order by which allnatures and classes do their own business, the right man in the right place,the division and co-operation of all the citizens. Justice, again, is a moreabstract notion than the other virtues, and therefore, from Plato’s pointof view, the foundation of them, to which they are referred and which in ideaprecedes them. The proposal to omit temperance is a mere trick of styleintended to avoid monotony.

There is a famous question discussed in one of the earlier Dialogues of Plato(Protagoras; Arist. Nic. Ethics), ‘Whether the virtues are one ormany?’ This receives an answer which is to the effect that there are fourcardinal virtues (now for the first time brought together in ethicalphilosophy), and one supreme over the rest, which is not like Aristotle’sconception of universal justice, virtue relative to others, but the whole ofvirtue relative to the parts. To this universal conception of justice or orderin the first education and in the moral nature of man, the still more universalconception of the good in the second education and in the sphere of speculativeknowledge seems to succeed. Both might be equally described by the terms‘law,’ ‘order,’ ‘harmony;’ but while theidea of good embraces ‘all time and all existence,’ the conceptionof justice is not extended beyond man.

...Socrates is now going to identify the individual and the State. But first hemust prove that there are three parts of the individual soul. His argument isas follows:—Quantity makes no difference in quality. The word‘just,’ whether applied to the individual or to the State, has thesame meaning. And the term ‘justice’ implied that the same threeprinciples in the State and in the individual were doing their own business.But are they really three or one? The question is difficult, and one which canhardly be solved by the methods which we are now using; but the truer andlonger way would take up too much of our time. ‘The shorter will satisfyme.’ Well then, you would admit that the qualities of states mean thequalities of the individuals who compose them? The Scythians and Thracians arepassionate, our own race intellectual, and the Egyptians and Phoenicianscovetous, because the individual members of each have such and such acharacter; the difficulty is to determine whether the several principles areone or three; whether, that is to say, we reason with one part of our nature,desire with another, are angry with another, or whether the whole soul comesinto play in each sort of action. This enquiry, however, requires a very exactdefinition of terms. The same thing in the same relation cannot be affected intwo opposite ways. But there is no impossibility in a man standing still, yetmoving his arms, or in a top which is fixed on one spot going round upon itsaxis. There is no necessity to mention all the possible exceptions; let usprovisionally assume that opposites cannot do or be or suffer opposites in thesame relation. And to the class of opposites belong assent and dissent, desireand avoidance. And one form of desire is thirst and hunger: and here arises anew point—thirst is thirst of drink, hunger is hunger of food; not ofwarm drink or of a particular kind of food, with the single exception of coursethat the very fact of our desiring anything implies that it is good. Whenrelative terms have no attributes, their correlatives have no attributes; whenthey have attributes, their correlatives also have them. For example, the term‘greater’ is simply relative to ‘less,’ and knowledgerefers to a subject of knowledge. But on the other hand, a particular knowledgeis of a particular subject. Again, every science has a distinct character,which is defined by an object; medicine, for example, is the science of health,although not to be confounded with health. Having cleared our ideas thus far,let us return to the original instance of thirst, which has a definiteobject—drink. Now the thirsty soul may feel two distinct impulses; theanimal one saying ‘Drink;’ the rational one, which says ‘Donot drink.’ The two impulses are contradictory; and therefore we mayassume that they spring from distinct principles in the soul. But is passion athird principle, or akin to desire? There is a story of a certain Leontiuswhich throws some light on this question. He was coming up from the Piraeusoutside the north wall, and he passed a spot where there were dead bodies lyingby the executioner. He felt a longing desire to see them and also an abhorrenceof them; at first he turned away and shut his eyes, then, suddenly tearing themopen, he said,—‘Take your fill, ye wretches, of the fairsight.’ Now is there not here a third principle which is often found tocome to the assistance of reason against desire, but never of desire againstreason? This is passion or spirit, of the separate existence of which we mayfurther convince ourselves by putting the following case:—When a mansuffers justly, if he be of a generous nature he is not indignant at thehardships which he undergoes: but when he suffers unjustly, his indignation ishis great support; hunger and thirst cannot tame him; the spirit within himmust do or die, until the voice of the shepherd, that is, of reason, biddinghis dog bark no more, is heard within. This shows that passion is the ally ofreason. Is passion then the same with reason? No, for the former exists inchildren and brutes; and Homer affords a proof of the distinction between themwhen he says, ‘He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul.’

And now, at last, we have reached firm ground, and are able to infer that thevirtues of the State and of the individual are the same. For wisdom and courageand justice in the State are severally the wisdom and courage and justice inthe individuals who form the State. Each of the three classes will do the workof its own class in the State, and each part in the individual soul; reason,the superior, and passion, the inferior, will be harmonized by the influence ofmusic and gymnastic. The counsellor and the warrior, the head and the arm, willact together in the town of Mansoul, and keep the desires in proper subjection.The courage of the warrior is that quality which preserves a right opinionabout dangers in spite of pleasures and pains. The wisdom of the counsellor isthat small part of the soul which has authority and reason. The virtue oftemperance is the friendship of the ruling and the subject principles, both inthe State and in the individual. Of justice we have already spoken; and thenotion already given of it may be confirmed by common instances. Will the juststate or the just individual steal, lie, commit adultery, or be guilty ofimpiety to gods and men? ‘No.’ And is not the reason of this thatthe several principles, whether in the state or in the individual, do their ownbusiness? And justice is the quality which makes just men and just states.Moreover, our old division of labour, which required that there should be oneman for one use, was a dream or anticipation of what was to follow; and thatdream has now been realized in justice, which begins by binding together thethree chords of the soul, and then acts harmoniously in every relation of life.And injustice, which is the insubordination and disobedience of the inferiorelements in the soul, is the opposite of justice, and is inharmonious andunnatural, being to the soul what disease is to the body; for in the soul aswell as in the body, good or bad actions produce good or bad habits. And virtueis the health and beauty and well-being of the soul, and vice is the diseaseand weakness and deformity of the soul.

Again the old question returns upon us: Is justice or injustice the moreprofitable? The question has become ridiculous. For injustice, like mortaldisease, makes life not worth having. Come up with me to the hill whichoverhangs the city and look down upon the single form of virtue, and theinfinite forms of vice, among which are four special ones, characteristic bothof states and of individuals. And the state which corresponds to the singleform of virtue is that which we have been describing, wherein reason rulesunder one of two names—monarchy and aristocracy. Thus there are fiveforms in all, both of states and of souls...

In attempting to prove that the soul has three separate faculties, Plato takesoccasion to discuss what makes difference of faculties. And the criterion whichhe proposes is difference in the working of the faculties. The same facultycannot produce contradictory effects. But the path of early reasoners is besetby thorny entanglements, and he will not proceed a step without first clearingthe ground. This leads him into a tiresome digression, which is intended toexplain the nature of contradiction. First, the contradiction must be at thesame time and in the same relation. Secondly, no extraneous word must beintroduced into either of the terms in which the contradictory proposition isexpressed: for example, thirst is of drink, not of warm drink. He implies, whathe does not say, that if, by the advice of reason, or by the impulse of anger,a man is restrained from drinking, this proves that thirst, or desire underwhich thirst is included, is distinct from anger and reason. But suppose thatwe allow the term ‘thirst’ or ‘desire’ to be modified,and say an ‘angry thirst,’ or a ‘revengeful desire,’then the two spheres of desire and anger overlap and become confused. This casetherefore has to be excluded. And still there remains an exception to the rulein the use of the term ‘good,’ which is always implied in theobject of desire. These are the discussions of an age before logic; and any onewho is wearied by them should remember that they are necessary to the clearingup of ideas in the first development of the human faculties.

The psychology of Plato extends no further than the division of the soul intothe rational, irascible, and concupiscent elements, which, as far as we know,was first made by him, and has been retained by Aristotle and succeedingethical writers. The chief difficulty in this early analysis of the mind is todefine exactly the place of the irascible faculty (Greek), which may bevariously described under the terms righteous indignation, spirit, passion. Itis the foundation of courage, which includes in Plato moral courage, thecourage of enduring pain, and of surmounting intellectual difficulties, as wellas of meeting dangers in war. Though irrational, it inclines to side with therational: it cannot be aroused by punishment when justly inflicted: itsometimes takes the form of an enthusiasm which sustains a man in theperformance of great actions. It is the ‘lion heart’ with which thereason makes a treaty. On the other hand it is negative rather than positive;it is indignant at wrong or falsehood, but does not, like Love in the Symposiumand Phaedrus, aspire to the vision of Truth or Good. It is the peremptorymilitary spirit which prevails in the government of honour. It differs fromanger (Greek), this latter term having no accessory notion of righteousindignation. Although Aristotle has retained the word, yet we may observe that‘passion’ (Greek) has with him lost its affinity to the rationaland has become indistinguishable from ‘anger’ (Greek). And to thisvernacular use Plato himself in the Laws seems to revert, though not always. Bymodern philosophy too, as well as in our ordinary conversation, the words angeror passion are employed almost exclusively in a bad sense; there is noconnotation of a just or reasonable cause by which they are aroused. Thefeeling of ‘righteous indignation’ is too partial and accidental toadmit of our regarding it as a separate virtue or habit. We are tempted also todoubt whether Plato is right in supposing that an offender, however justlycondemned, could be expected to acknowledge the justice of his sentence; thisis the spirit of a philosopher or martyr rather than of a criminal.

We may observe how nearly Plato approaches Aristotle’s famous thesis,that ‘good actions produce good habits.’ The words ‘ashealthy practices (Greek) produce health, so do just practices producejustice,’ have a sound very like the Nicomachean Ethics. But we note alsothat an incidental remark in Plato has become a far-reaching principle inAristotle, and an inseparable part of a great Ethical system.

There is a difficulty in understanding what Plato meant by ‘the longerway’: he seems to intimate some metaphysic of the future which will notbe satisfied with arguing from the principle of contradiction. In the sixth andseventh books (compare Sophist and Parmenides) he has given us a sketch of sucha metaphysic; but when Glaucon asks for the final revelation of the idea ofgood, he is put off with the declaration that he has not yet studied thepreliminary sciences. How he would have filled up the sketch, or argued aboutsuch questions from a higher point of view, we can only conjecture. Perhaps hehoped to find some a priori method of developing the parts out of the whole; orhe might have asked which of the ideas contains the other ideas, and possiblyhave stumbled on the Hegelian identity of the ‘ego’ and the‘universal.’ Or he may have imagined that ideas might beconstructed in some manner analogous to the construction of figures and numbersin the mathematical sciences. The most certain and necessary truth was to Platothe universal; and to this he was always seeking to refer all knowledge oropinion, just as in modern times we seek to rest them on the opposite pole ofinduction and experience. The aspirations of metaphysicians have always tendedto pass beyond the limits of human thought and language: they seem to havereached a height at which they are ‘moving about in worldsunrealized,’ and their conceptions, although profoundly affecting theirown minds, become invisible or unintelligible to others. We are not thereforesurprized to find that Plato himself has nowhere clearly explained his doctrineof ideas; or that his school in a later generation, like his contemporariesGlaucon and Adeimantus, were unable to follow him in this region ofspeculation. In the Sophist, where he is refuting the scepticism whichmaintained either that there was no such thing as predication, or that allmight be predicated of all, he arrives at the conclusion that some ideascombine with some, but not all with all. But he makes only one or two stepsforward on this path; he nowhere attains to any connected system of ideas, oreven to a knowledge of the most elementary relations of the sciences to oneanother.

BOOK V. I was going to enumerate the four forms of vice or decline in states,when Polemarchus—he was sitting a little farther from me thanAdeimantus—taking him by the coat and leaning towards him, said somethingin an undertone, of which I only caught the words, ‘Shall we let himoff?’ ‘Certainly not,’ said Adeimantus, raising his voice.Whom, I said, are you not going to let off? ‘You,’ he said. Why?‘Because we think that you are not dealing fairly with us in omittingwomen and children, of whom you have slily disposed under the general formulathat friends have all things in common.’ And was I not right?‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘but there are many sorts of communism orcommunity, and we want to know which of them is right. The company, as you havejust heard, are resolved to have a further explanation.’ Thrasymachussaid, ‘Do you think that we have come hither to dig for gold, or to hearyou discourse?’ Yes, I said; but the discourse should be of a reasonablelength. Glaucon added, ‘Yes, Socrates, and there is reason in spendingthe whole of life in such discussions; but pray, without more ado, tell us howthis community is to be carried out, and how the interval between birth andeducation is to be filled up.’ Well, I said, the subject has severaldifficulties—What is possible? is the first question. What is desirable?is the second. ‘Fear not,’ he replied, ‘for you are speakingamong friends.’ That, I replied, is a sorry consolation; I shall destroymy friends as well as myself. Not that I mind a little innocent laughter; buthe who kills the truth is a murderer. ‘Then,’ said Glaucon,laughing, ‘in case you should murder us we will acquit you beforehand,and you shall be held free from the guilt of deceiving us.’

Socrates proceeds:—The guardians of our state are to be watch-dogs, as wehave already said. Now dogs are not divided into hes and shes—we do nottake the masculine gender out to hunt and leave the females at home to lookafter their puppies. They have the same employments—the only differencebetween them is that the one sex is stronger and the other weaker. But if womenare to have the same employments as men, they must have the sameeducation—they must be taught music and gymnastics, and the art of war. Iknow that a great joke will be made of their riding on horseback and carryingweapons; the sight of the naked old wrinkled women showing their agility in thepalaestra will certainly not be a vision of beauty, and may be expected tobecome a famous jest. But we must not mind the wits; there was a time when theymight have laughed at our present gymnastics. All is habit: people have at lastfound out that the exposure is better than the concealment of the person, andnow they laugh no more. Evil only should be the subject of ridicule.

The first question is, whether women are able either wholly or partially toshare in the employments of men. And here we may be charged with inconsistencyin making the proposal at all. For we started originally with the division oflabour; and the diversity of employments was based on the difference ofnatures. But is there no difference between men and women? Nay, are they notwholly different? THERE was the difficulty, Glaucon, which made me unwilling tospeak of family relations. However, when a man is out of his depth, whether ina pool or in an ocean, he can only swim for his life; and we must try to find away of escape, if we can.

The argument is, that different natures have different uses, and the natures ofmen and women are said to differ. But this is only a verbal opposition. We donot consider that the difference may be purely nominal and accidental; forexample, a bald man and a hairy man are opposed in a single point of view, butyou cannot infer that because a bald man is a cobbler a hairy man ought not tobe a cobbler. Now why is such an inference erroneous? Simply because theopposition between them is partial only, like the difference between a malephysician and a female physician, not running through the whole nature, likethe difference between a physician and a carpenter. And if the difference ofthe sexes is only that the one beget and the other bear children, this does notprove that they ought to have distinct educations. Admitting that women differfrom men in capacity, do not men equally differ from one another? Has notnature scattered all the qualities which our citizens require indifferently upand down among the two sexes? and even in their peculiar pursuits, are notwomen often, though in some cases superior to men, ridiculously enoughsurpassed by them? Women are the same in kind as men, and have the sameaptitude or want of aptitude for medicine or gymnastic or war, but in a lessdegree. One woman will be a good guardian, another not; and the good must bechosen to be the colleagues of our guardians. If however their natures are thesame, the inference is that their education must also be the same; there is nolonger anything unnatural or impossible in a woman learning music andgymnastic. And the education which we give them will be the very best, farsuperior to that of cobblers, and will train up the very best women, andnothing can be more advantageous to the State than this. Therefore let themstrip, clothed in their chastity, and share in the toils of war and in thedefence of their country; he who laughs at them is a fool for his pains.

The first wave is past, and the argument is compelled to admit that men andwomen have common duties and pursuits. A second and greater wave is rollingin—community of wives and children; is this either expedient or possible?The expediency I do not doubt; I am not so sure of the possibility. ‘Nay,I think that a considerable doubt will be entertained on both points.’ Imeant to have escaped the trouble of proving the first, but as you havedetected the little stratagem I must even submit. Only allow me to feed myfancy like the solitary in his walks, with a dream of what might be, and then Iwill return to the question of what can be.

In the first place our rulers will enforce the laws and make new ones wherethey are wanted, and their allies or ministers will obey. You, as legislator,have already selected the men; and now you shall select the women. After theselection has been made, they will dwell in common houses and have their mealsin common, and will be brought together by a necessity more certain than thatof mathematics. But they cannot be allowed to live in licentiousness; that isan unholy thing, which the rulers are determined to prevent. For the avoidanceof this, holy marriage festivals will be instituted, and their holiness will bein proportion to their usefulness. And here, Glaucon, I should like to ask (asI know that you are a breeder of birds and animals), Do you not take thegreatest care in the mating? ‘Certainly.’ And there is no reason tosuppose that less care is required in the marriage of human beings. But thenour rulers must be skilful physicians of the State, for they will often need astrong dose of falsehood in order to bring about desirable unions between theirsubjects. The good must be paired with the good, and the bad with the bad, andthe offspring of the one must be reared, and of the other destroyed; in thisway the flock will be preserved in prime condition. Hymeneal festivals will becelebrated at times fixed with an eye to population, and the brides andbridegrooms will meet at them; and by an ingenious system of lots the rulerswill contrive that the brave and the fair come together, and that those ofinferior breed are paired with inferiors—the latter will ascribe tochance what is really the invention of the rulers. And when children are born,the offspring of the brave and fair will be carried to an enclosure in acertain part of the city, and there attended by suitable nurses; the rest willbe hurried away to places unknown. The mothers will be brought to the fold andwill suckle the children; care however must be taken that none of themrecognise their own offspring; and if necessary other nurses may also be hired.The trouble of watching and getting up at night will be transferred toattendants. ‘Then the wives of our guardians will have a fine easy timewhen they are having children.’ And quite right too, I said, that theyshould.

The parents ought to be in the prime of life, which for a man may be reckonedat thirty years—from twenty-five, when he has ‘passed the point atwhich the speed of life is greatest,’ to fifty-five; and at twenty yearsfor a woman—from twenty to forty. Any one above or below those ages whopartakes in the hymeneals shall be guilty of impiety; also every one who formsa marriage connexion at other times without the consent of the rulers. Thislatter regulation applies to those who are within the specified ages, afterwhich they may range at will, provided they avoid the prohibited degrees ofparents and children, or of brothers and sisters, which last, however, are notabsolutely prohibited, if a dispensation be procured. ‘But how shall weknow the degrees of affinity, when all things are common?’ The answer is,that brothers and sisters are all such as are born seven or nine months afterthe espousals, and their parents those who are then espoused, and every onewill have many children and every child many parents.

Socrates proceeds: I have now to prove that this scheme is advantageous andalso consistent with our entire polity. The greatest good of a State is unity;the greatest evil, discord and distraction. And there will be unity where thereare no private pleasures or pains or interests—where if one membersuffers all the members suffer, if one citizen is touched all are quicklysensitive; and the least hurt to the little finger of the State runs throughthe whole body and vibrates to the soul. For the true State, like anindividual, is injured as a whole when any part is affected. Every State hassubjects and rulers, who in a democracy are called rulers, and in other Statesmasters: but in our State they are called saviours and allies; and the subjectswho in other States are termed slaves, are by us termed nurturers andpaymasters, and those who are termed comrades and colleagues in other places,are by us called fathers and brothers. And whereas in other States members ofthe same government regard one of their colleagues as a friend and another asan enemy, in our State no man is a stranger to another; for every citizen isconnected with every other by ties of blood, and these names and this way ofspeaking will have a corresponding reality—brother, father, sister,mother, repeated from infancy in the ears of children, will not be mere words.Then again the citizens will have all things in common, in having commonproperty they will have common pleasures and pains.

Can there be strife and contention among those who are of one mind; or lawsuitsabout property when men have nothing but their bodies which they call theirown; or suits about violence when every one is bound to defend himself? Thepermission to strike when insulted will be an ‘antidote’ to theknife and will prevent disturbances in the State. But no younger man willstrike an elder; reverence will prevent him from laying hands on his kindred,and he will fear that the rest of the family may retaliate. Moreover, ourcitizens will be rid of the lesser evils of life; there will be no flattery ofthe rich, no sordid household cares, no borrowing and not paying. Compared withthe citizens of other States, ours will be Olympic victors, and crowned withblessings greater still—they and their children having a bettermaintenance during life, and after death an honourable burial. Nor has thehappiness of the individual been sacrificed to the happiness of the State; ourOlympic victor has not been turned into a cobbler, but he has a happinessbeyond that of any cobbler. At the same time, if any conceited youth begins todream of appropriating the State to himself, he must be reminded that‘half is better than the whole.’ ‘I should certainly advisehim to stay where he is when he has the promise of such a brave life.’

But is such a community possible?—as among the animals, so also amongmen; and if possible, in what way possible? About war there is no difficulty;the principle of communism is adapted to military service. Parents will taketheir children to look on at a battle, just as potters’ boys are trainedto the business by looking on at the wheel. And to the parents themselves, asto other animals, the sight of their young ones will prove a great incentive tobravery. Young warriors must learn, but they must not run into danger, althougha certain degree of risk is worth incurring when the benefit is great. Theyoung creatures should be placed under the care of experienced veterans, andthey should have wings—that is to say, swift and tractable steeds onwhich they may fly away and escape. One of the first things to be done is toteach a youth to ride.

Cowards and deserters shall be degraded to the class of husbandmen; gentlemenwho allow themselves to be taken prisoners, may be presented to the enemy. Butwhat shall be done to the hero? First of all he shall be crowned by all theyouths in the army; secondly, he shall receive the right hand of fellowship;and thirdly, do you think that there is any harm in his being kissed? We havealready determined that he shall have more wives than others, in order that hemay have as many children as possible. And at a feast he shall have more toeat; we have the authority of Homer for honouring brave men with ‘longchines,’ which is an appropriate compliment, because meat is a verystrengthening thing. Fill the bowl then, and give the best seats and meats tothe brave—may they do them good! And he who dies in battle will be atonce declared to be of the golden race, and will, as we believe, become one ofHesiod’s guardian angels. He shall be worshipped after death in themanner prescribed by the oracle; and not only he, but all other benefactors ofthe State who die in any other way, shall be admitted to the same honours.

The next question is, How shall we treat our enemies? Shall Hellenes beenslaved? No; for there is too great a risk of the whole race passing under theyoke of the barbarians. Or shall the dead be despoiled? Certainly not; for thatsort of thing is an excuse for skulking, and has been the ruin of many an army.There is meanness and feminine malice in making an enemy of the dead body, whenthe soul which was the owner has fled—like a dog who cannot reach hisassailants, and quarrels with the stones which are thrown at him instead.Again, the arms of Hellenes should not be offered up in the temples of theGods; they are a pollution, for they are taken from brethren. And on similargrounds there should be a limit to the devastation of Hellenicterritory—the houses should not be burnt, nor more than the annualproduce carried off. For war is of two kinds, civil and foreign; the first ofwhich is properly termed ‘discord,’ and only the second‘war;’ and war between Hellenes is in reality civil war—aquarrel in a family, which is ever to be regarded as unpatriotic and unnatural,and ought to be prosecuted with a view to reconciliation in a truephil-Hellenic spirit, as of those who would chasten but not utterly enslave.The war is not against a whole nation who are a friendly multitude of men,women, and children, but only against a few guilty persons; when they arepunished peace will be restored. That is the way in which Hellenes should waragainst one another—and against barbarians, as they war against oneanother now.

‘But, my dear Socrates, you are forgetting the main question: Is such aState possible? I grant all and more than you say about the blessedness ofbeing one family—fathers, brothers, mothers, daughters, going out to wartogether; but I want to ascertain the possibility of this ideal State.’You are too unmerciful. The first wave and the second wave I have hardlyescaped, and now you will certainly drown me with the third. When you see thetowering crest of the wave, I expect you to take pity. ‘Not awhit.’

Well, then, we were led to form our ideal polity in the search after justice,and the just man answered to the just State. Is this ideal at all the worse forbeing impracticable? Would the picture of a perfectly beautiful man be any theworse because no such man ever lived? Can any reality come up to the idea?Nature will not allow words to be fully realized; but if I am to try andrealize the ideal of the State in a measure, I think that an approach may bemade to the perfection of which I dream by one or two, I do not say slight, butpossible changes in the present constitution of States. I would reduce them toa single one—the great wave, as I call it. Until, then, kings arephilosophers, or philosophers are kings, cities will never cease from ill: no,nor the human race; nor will our ideal polity ever come into being. I know thatthis is a hard saying, which few will be able to receive. ‘Socrates, allthe world will take off his coat and rush upon you with sticks and stones, andtherefore I would advise you to prepare an answer.’ You got me into thescrape, I said. ‘And I was right,’ he replied; ‘however, Iwill stand by you as a sort of do-nothing, well-meaning ally.’ Having thehelp of such a champion, I will do my best to maintain my position. And first,I must explain of whom I speak and what sort of natures these are who are to bephilosophers and rulers. As you are a man of pleasure, you will not haveforgotten how indiscriminate lovers are in their attachments; they love all,and turn blemishes into beauties. The snub-nosed youth is said to have awinning grace; the beak of another has a royal look; the featureless arefaultless; the dark are manly, the fair angels; the sickly have a new term ofendearment invented expressly for them, which is ‘honey-pale.’Lovers of wine and lovers of ambition also desire the objects of theiraffection in every form. Now here comes the point:—The philosopher too isa lover of knowledge in every form; he has an insatiable curiosity. ‘Butwill curiosity make a philosopher? Are the lovers of sights and sounds, who letout their ears to every chorus at the Dionysiac festivals, to be calledphilosophers?’ They are not true philosophers, but only an imitation.‘Then how are we to describe the true?’

You would acknowledge the existence of abstract ideas, such as justice, beauty,good, evil, which are severally one, yet in their various combinations appearto be many. Those who recognize these realities are philosophers; whereas theother class hear sounds and see colours, and understand their use in the arts,but cannot attain to the true or waking vision of absolute justice or beauty ortruth; they have not the light of knowledge, but of opinion, and what they seeis a dream only. Perhaps he of whom we say the last will be angry with us; canwe pacify him without revealing the disorder of his mind? Suppose we say that,if he has knowledge we rejoice to hear it, but knowledge must be of somethingwhich is, as ignorance is of something which is not; and there is a thirdthing, which both is and is not, and is matter of opinion only. Opinion andknowledge, then, having distinct objects, must also be distinct faculties. Andby faculties I mean powers unseen and distinguishable only by the difference intheir objects, as opinion and knowledge differ, since the one is liable to err,but the other is unerring and is the mightiest of all our faculties. If beingis the object of knowledge, and not-being of ignorance, and these are theextremes, opinion must lie between them, and may be called darker than the oneand brighter than the other. This intermediate or contingent matter is and isnot at the same time, and partakes both of existence and of non-existence. NowI would ask my good friend, who denies abstract beauty and justice, and affirmsa many beautiful and a many just, whether everything he sees is not in somepoint of view different—the beautiful ugly, the pious impious, the justunjust? Is not the double also the half, and are not heavy and light relativeterms which pass into one another? Everything is and is not, as in the oldriddle—‘A man and not a man shot and did not shoot a bird and not abird with a stone and not a stone.’ The mind cannot be fixed on eitheralternative; and these ambiguous, intermediate, erring, half-lighted objects,which have a disorderly movement in the region between being and not-being, arethe proper matter of opinion, as the immutable objects are the proper matter ofknowledge. And he who grovels in the world of sense, and has only thisuncertain perception of things, is not a philosopher, but a lover of opiniononly...

The fifth book is the new beginning of the Republic, in which the community ofproperty and of family are first maintained, and the transition is made to thekingdom of philosophers. For both of these Plato, after his manner, has beenpreparing in some chance words of Book IV, which fall unperceived on thereader’s mind, as they are supposed at first to have fallen on the ear ofGlaucon and Adeimantus. The ‘paradoxes,’ as Morgenstern terms them,of this book of the Republic will be reserved for another place; a few remarkson the style, and some explanations of difficulties, may be briefly added.

First, there is the image of the waves, which serves for a sort of scheme orplan of the book. The first wave, the second wave, the third and greatest wavecome rolling in, and we hear the roar of them. All that can be said of theextravagance of Plato’s proposals is anticipated by himself. Nothing ismore admirable than the hesitation with which he proposes the solemn text,‘Until kings are philosophers,’ etc.; or the reaction from thesublime to the ridiculous, when Glaucon describes the manner in which the newtruth will be received by mankind.

Some defects and difficulties may be noted in the execution of the communisticplan. Nothing is told us of the application of communism to the lower classes;nor is the table of prohibited degrees capable of being made out. It is quitepossible that a child born at one hymeneal festival may marry one of its ownbrothers or sisters, or even one of its parents, at another. Plato is afraid ofincestuous unions, but at the same time he does not wish to bring before us thefact that the city would be divided into families of those born seven and ninemonths after each hymeneal festival. If it were worth while to argue seriouslyabout such fancies, we might remark that while all the old affinities areabolished, the newly prohibited affinity rests not on any natural or rationalprinciple, but only upon the accident of children having been born in the samemonth and year. Nor does he explain how the lots could be so manipulated by thelegislature as to bring together the fairest and best. The singular expressionwhich is employed to describe the age of five-and-twenty may perhaps be takenfrom some poet.

In the delineation of the philosopher, the illustrations of the nature ofphilosophy derived from love are more suited to the apprehension of Glaucon,the Athenian man of pleasure, than to modern tastes or feelings. They arepartly facetious, but also contain a germ of truth. That science is a whole,remains a true principle of inductive as well as of metaphysical philosophy;and the love of universal knowledge is still the characteristic of thephilosopher in modern as well as in ancient times.

At the end of the fifth book Plato introduces the figment of contingent matter,which has exercised so great an influence both on the Ethics and Theology ofthe modern world, and which occurs here for the first time in the history ofphilosophy. He did not remark that the degrees of knowledge in the subject havenothing corresponding to them in the object. With him a word must answer to anidea; and he could not conceive of an opinion which was an opinion aboutnothing. The influence of analogy led him to invent ‘parallels andconjugates’ and to overlook facts. To us some of his difficulties arepuzzling only from their simplicity: we do not perceive that the answer to them‘is tumbling out at our feet.’ To the mind of early thinkers, theconception of not-being was dark and mysterious; they did not see that thisterrible apparition which threatened destruction to all knowledge was only alogical determination. The common term under which, through the accidental useof language, two entirely different ideas were included was another source ofconfusion. Thus through the ambiguity of (Greek) Plato, attempting to introduceorder into the first chaos of human thought, seems to have confused perceptionand opinion, and to have failed to distinguish the contingent from therelative. In the Theaetetus the first of these difficulties begins to clear up;in the Sophist the second; and for this, as well as for other reasons, boththese dialogues are probably to be regarded as later than the Republic.

BOOK VI. Having determined that the many have no knowledge of true being, andhave no clear patterns in their minds of justice, beauty, truth, and thatphilosophers have such patterns, we have now to ask whether they or the manyshall be rulers in our State. But who can doubt that philosophers should bechosen, if they have the other qualities which are required in a ruler? Forthey are lovers of the knowledge of the eternal and of all truth; they arehaters of falsehood; their meaner desires are absorbed in the interests ofknowledge; they are spectators of all time and all existence; and in themagnificence of their contemplation the life of man is as nothing to them, noris death fearful. Also they are of a social, gracious disposition, equally freefrom cowardice and arrogance. They learn and remember easily; they haveharmonious, well-regulated minds; truth flows to them sweetly by nature. Canthe god of Jealousy himself find any fault with such an assemblage of goodqualities?

Here Adeimantus interposes:—‘No man can answer you, Socrates; butevery man feels that this is owing to his own deficiency in argument. He isdriven from one position to another, until he has nothing more to say, just asan unskilful player at draughts is reduced to his last move by a more skilledopponent. And yet all the time he may be right. He may know, in this veryinstance, that those who make philosophy the business of their lives, generallyturn out rogues if they are bad men, and fools if they are good. What do yousay?’ I should say that he is quite right. ‘Then how is such anadmission reconcileable with the doctrine that philosophers should bekings?’

I shall answer you in a parable which will also let you see how poor a hand Iam at the invention of allegories. The relation of good men to theirgovernments is so peculiar, that in order to defend them I must take anillustration from the world of fiction. Conceive the captain of a ship, tallerby a head and shoulders than any of the crew, yet a little deaf, a littleblind, and rather ignorant of the seaman’s art. The sailors want tosteer, although they know nothing of the art; and they have a theory that itcannot be learned. If the helm is refused them, they drug the captain’sposset, bind him hand and foot, and take possession of the ship. He who joinsin the mutiny is termed a good pilot and what not; they have no conception thatthe true pilot must observe the winds and the stars, and must be their master,whether they like it or not;—such an one would be called by them fool,prater, star-gazer. This is my parable; which I will beg you to interpret forme to those gentlemen who ask why the philosopher has such an evil name, and toexplain to them that not he, but those who will not use him, are to blame forhis uselessness. The philosopher should not beg of mankind to be put inauthority over them. The wise man should not seek the rich, as the proverbbids, but every man, whether rich or poor, must knock at the door of thephysician when he has need of him. Now the pilot is the philosopher—hewhom in the parable they call star-gazer, and the mutinous sailors are the mobof politicians by whom he is rendered useless. Not that these are the worstenemies of philosophy, who is far more dishonoured by her own professing sonswhen they are corrupted by the world. Need I recall the original image of thephilosopher? Did we not say of him just now, that he loved truth and hatedfalsehood, and that he could not rest in the multiplicity of phenomena, but wasled by a sympathy in his own nature to the contemplation of the absolute? Allthe virtues as well as truth, who is the leader of them, took up their abode inhis soul. But as you were observing, if we turn aside to view the reality, wesee that the persons who were thus described, with the exception of a small anduseless class, are utter rogues.

The point which has to be considered, is the origin of this corruption innature. Every one will admit that the philosopher, in our description of him,is a rare being. But what numberless causes tend to destroy these rare beings!There is no good thing which may not be a cause of evil—health, wealth,strength, rank, and the virtues themselves, when placed under unfavourablecircumstances. For as in the animal or vegetable world the strongest seeds mostneed the accompaniment of good air and soil, so the best of human charactersturn out the worst when they fall upon an unsuitable soil; whereas weak natureshardly ever do any considerable good or harm; they are not the stuff out ofwhich either great criminals or great heroes are made. The philosopher followsthe same analogy: he is either the best or the worst of all men. Some personssay that the Sophists are the corrupters of youth; but is not public opinionthe real Sophist who is everywhere present—in those very persons, in theassembly, in the courts, in the camp, in the applauses and hisses of thetheatre re-echoed by the surrounding hills? Will not a young man’s heartleap amid these discordant sounds? and will any education save him from beingcarried away by the torrent? Nor is this all. For if he will not yield toopinion, there follows the gentle compulsion of exile or death. What principleof rival Sophists or anybody else can overcome in such an unequal contest?Characters there may be more than human, who are exceptions—God may savea man, but not his own strength. Further, I would have you consider that thehireling Sophist only gives back to the world their own opinions; he is thekeeper of the monster, who knows how to flatter or anger him, and observes themeaning of his inarticulate grunts. Good is what pleases him, evil what hedislikes; truth and beauty are determined only by the taste of the brute. Suchis the Sophist’s wisdom, and such is the condition of those who makepublic opinion the test of truth, whether in art or in morals. The curse islaid upon them of being and doing what it approves, and when they attempt firstprinciples the failure is ludicrous. Think of all this and ask yourself whetherthe world is more likely to be a believer in the unity of the idea, or in themultiplicity of phenomena. And the world if not a believer in the idea cannotbe a philosopher, and must therefore be a persecutor of philosophers. There isanother evil:—the world does not like to lose the gifted nature, and sothey flatter the young (Alcibiades) into a magnificent opinion of his owncapacity; the tall, proper youth begins to expand, and is dreaming of kingdomsand empires. If at this instant a friend whispers to him, ‘Now the godslighten thee; thou art a great fool’ and must be educated—do youthink that he will listen? Or suppose a better sort of man who is attractedtowards philosophy, will they not make Herculean efforts to spoil and corrupthim? Are we not right in saying that the love of knowledge, no less thanriches, may divert him? Men of this class (Critias) often becomepoliticians—they are the authors of great mischief in states, andsometimes also of great good. And thus philosophy is deserted by her naturalprotectors, and others enter in and dishonour her. Vulgar little minds see theland open and rush from the prisons of the arts into her temple. A clevermechanic having a soul coarse as his body, thinks that he will gain caste bybecoming her suitor. For philosophy, even in her fallen estate, has a dignityof her own—and he, like a bald little blacksmith’s apprentice as heis, having made some money and got out of durance, washes and dresses himselfas a bridegroom and marries his master’s daughter. What will be the issueof such marriages? Will they not be vile and bastard, devoid of truth andnature? ‘They will.’ Small, then, is the remnant of genuinephilosophers; there may be a few who are citizens of small states, in whichpolitics are not worth thinking of, or who have been detained by Theages’bridle of ill health; for my own case of the oracular sign is almost unique,and too rare to be worth mentioning. And these few when they have tasted thepleasures of philosophy, and have taken a look at that den of thieves and placeof wild beasts, which is human life, will stand aside from the storm under theshelter of a wall, and try to preserve their own innocence and to depart inpeace. ‘A great work, too, will have been accomplished by them.’Great, yes, but not the greatest; for man is a social being, and can onlyattain his highest development in the society which is best suited to him.

Enough, then, of the causes why philosophy has such an evil name. Anotherquestion is, Which of existing states is suited to her? Not one of them; atpresent she is like some exotic seed which degenerates in a strange soil; onlyin her proper state will she be shown to be of heavenly growth. ‘And isher proper state ours or some other?’ Ours in all points but one, whichwas left undetermined. You may remember our saying that some living mind orwitness of the legislator was needed in states. But we were afraid to enterupon a subject of such difficulty, and now the question recurs and has notgrown easier:—How may philosophy be safely studied? Let us bring her intothe light of day, and make an end of the inquiry.

In the first place, I say boldly that nothing can be worse than the presentmode of study. Persons usually pick up a little philosophy in early youth, andin the intervals of business, but they never master the real difficulty, whichis dialectic. Later, perhaps, they occasionally go to a lecture on philosophy.Years advance, and the sun of philosophy, unlike that of Heracleitus, setsnever to rise again. This order of education should be reversed; it shouldbegin with gymnastics in youth, and as the man strengthens, he should increasethe gymnastics of his soul. Then, when active life is over, let him finallyreturn to philosophy. ‘You are in earnest, Socrates, but the world willbe equally earnest in withstanding you—no more than Thrasymachus.’Do not make a quarrel between Thrasymachus and me, who were never enemies andare now good friends enough. And I shall do my best to convince him and allmankind of the truth of my words, or at any rate to prepare for the futurewhen, in another life, we may again take part in similar discussions.‘That will be a long time hence.’ Not long in comparison witheternity. The many will probably remain incredulous, for they have never seenthe natural unity of ideas, but only artificial juxtapositions; not free andgenerous thoughts, but tricks of controversy and quips of law;—a perfectman ruling in a perfect state, even a single one they have not known. And weforesaw that there was no chance of perfection either in states or individualsuntil a necessity was laid upon philosophers—not the rogues, but thosewhom we called the useless class—of holding office; or until the sons ofkings were inspired with a true love of philosophy. Whether in the infinity ofpast time there has been, or is in some distant land, or ever will behereafter, an ideal such as we have described, we stoutly maintain that therehas been, is, and will be such a state whenever the Muse of philosophy rules.Will you say that the world is of another mind? O, my friend, do not revile theworld! They will soon change their opinion if they are gently entreated, andare taught the true nature of the philosopher. Who can hate a man who loveshim? Or be jealous of one who has no jealousy? Consider, again, that the manyhate not the true but the false philosophers—the pretenders who forcetheir way in without invitation, and are always speaking of persons and not ofprinciples, which is unlike the spirit of philosophy. For the true philosopherdespises earthly strife; his eye is fixed on the eternal order in accordancewith which he moulds himself into the Divine image (and not himself only, butother men), and is the creator of the virtues private as well as public. Whenmankind see that the happiness of states is only to be found in that image,will they be angry with us for attempting to delineate it? ‘Certainlynot. But what will be the process of delineation?’ The artist will donothing until he has made a tabula rasa; on this he will inscribe theconstitution of a state, glancing often at the divine truth of nature, and fromthat deriving the godlike among men, mingling the two elements, rubbing out andpainting in, until there is a perfect harmony or fusion of the divine andhuman. But perhaps the world will doubt the existence of such an artist. Whatwill they doubt? That the philosopher is a lover of truth, having a nature akinto the best?—and if they admit this will they still quarrel with us formaking philosophers our kings? ‘They will be less disposed toquarrel.’ Let us assume then that they are pacified. Still, a person mayhesitate about the probability of the son of a king being a philosopher. And wedo not deny that they are very liable to be corrupted; but yet surely in thecourse of ages there might be one exception—and one is enough. If one sonof a king were a philosopher, and had obedient citizens, he might bring theideal polity into being. Hence we conclude that our laws are not only the best,but that they are also possible, though not free from difficulty.

I gained nothing by evading the troublesome questions which arose concerningwomen and children. I will be wiser now and acknowledge that we must go to thebottom of another question: What is to be the education of our guardians? Itwas agreed that they were to be lovers of their country, and were to be testedin the refiner’s fire of pleasures and pains, and those who came forthpure and remained fixed in their principles were to have honours and rewards inlife and after death. But at this point, the argument put on her veil andturned into another path. I hesitated to make the assertion which I nowhazard,—that our guardians must be philosophers. You remember all thecontradictory elements, which met in the philosopher—how difficult tofind them all in a single person! Intelligence and spirit are not oftencombined with steadiness; the stolid, fearless, nature is averse tointellectual toil. And yet these opposite elements are all necessary, andtherefore, as we were saying before, the aspirant must be tested in pleasuresand dangers; and also, as we must now further add, in the highest branches ofknowledge. You will remember, that when we spoke of the virtues mention wasmade of a longer road, which you were satisfied to leave unexplored.‘Enough seemed to have been said.’ Enough, my friend; but what isenough while anything remains wanting? Of all men the guardian must not faintin the search after truth; he must be prepared to take the longer road, or hewill never reach that higher region which is above the four virtues; and of thevirtues too he must not only get an outline, but a clear and distinct vision.(Strange that we should be so precise about trifles, so careless about thehighest truths!) ‘And what are the highest?’ You to pretendunconsciousness, when you have so often heard me speak of the idea of good,about which we know so little, and without which though a man gain the world hehas no profit of it! Some people imagine that the good is wisdom; but thisinvolves a circle,—the good, they say, is wisdom, wisdom has to do withthe good. According to others the good is pleasure; but then comes theabsurdity that good is bad, for there are bad pleasures as well as good. Again,the good must have reality; a man may desire the appearance of virtue, but hewill not desire the appearance of good. Ought our guardians then to be ignorantof this supreme principle, of which every man has a presentiment, and withoutwhich no man has any real knowledge of anything? ‘But, Socrates, what isthis supreme principle, knowledge or pleasure, or what? You may think metroublesome, but I say that you have no business to be always repeating thedoctrines of others instead of giving us your own.’ Can I say what I donot know? ‘You may offer an opinion.’ And will the blindness andcrookedness of opinion content you when you might have the light and certaintyof science? ‘I will only ask you to give such an explanation of the goodas you have given already of temperance and justice.’ I wish that Icould, but in my present mood I cannot reach to the height of the knowledge ofthe good. To the parent or principal I cannot introduce you, but to the childbegotten in his image, which I may compare with the interest on the principal,I will. (Audit the account, and do not let me give you a false statement of thedebt.) You remember our old distinction of the many beautiful and the onebeautiful, the particular and the universal, the objects of sight and theobjects of thought? Did you ever consider that the objects of sight imply afaculty of sight which is the most complex and costly of our senses, requiringnot only objects of sense, but also a medium, which is light; without which thesight will not distinguish between colours and all will be a blank? For lightis the noble bond between the perceiving faculty and the thing perceived, andthe god who gives us light is the sun, who is the eye of the day, but is not tobe confounded with the eye of man. This eye of the day or sun is what I callthe child of the good, standing in the same relation to the visible world asthe good to the intellectual. When the sun shines the eye sees, and in theintellectual world where truth is, there is sight and light. Now that which isthe sun of intelligent natures, is the idea of good, the cause of knowledge andtruth, yet other and fairer than they are, and standing in the same relation tothem in which the sun stands to light. O inconceivable height of beauty, whichis above knowledge and above truth! (‘You cannot surely meanpleasure,’ he said. Peace, I replied.) And this idea of good, like thesun, is also the cause of growth, and the author not of knowledge only, but ofbeing, yet greater far than either in dignity and power. ‘That is a reachof thought more than human; but, pray, go on with the image, for I suspect thatthere is more behind.’ There is, I said; and bearing in mind our two sunsor principles, imagine further their corresponding worlds—one of thevisible, the other of the intelligible; you may assist your fancy by figuringthe distinction under the image of a line divided into two unequal parts, andmay again subdivide each part into two lesser segments representative of thestages of knowledge in either sphere. The lower portion of the lower or visiblesphere will consist of shadows and reflections, and its upper and smallerportion will contain real objects in the world of nature or of art. The sphereof the intelligible will also have two divisions,—one of mathematics, inwhich there is no ascent but all is descent; no inquiring into premises, butonly drawing of inferences. In this division the mind works with figures andnumbers, the images of which are taken not from the shadows, but from theobjects, although the truth of them is seen only with the mind’s eye; andthey are used as hypotheses without being analysed. Whereas in the otherdivision reason uses the hypotheses as stages or steps in the ascent to theidea of good, to which she fastens them, and then again descends, walkingfirmly in the region of ideas, and of ideas only, in her ascent as well asdescent, and finally resting in them. ‘I partly understand,’ hereplied; ‘you mean that the ideas of science are superior to thehypothetical, metaphorical conceptions of geometry and the other arts orsciences, whichever is to be the name of them; and the latter conceptions yourefuse to make subjects of pure intellect, because they have no firstprinciple, although when resting on a first principle, they pass into thehigher sphere.’ You understand me very well, I said. And now to thosefour divisions of knowledge you may assign four correspondingfaculties—pure intelligence to the highest sphere; active intelligence tothe second; to the third, faith; to the fourth, the perception ofshadows—and the clearness of the several faculties will be in the sameratio as the truth of the objects to which they are related...

Like Socrates, we may recapitulate the virtues of the philosopher. In languagewhich seems to reach beyond the horizon of that age and country, he isdescribed as ‘the spectator of all time and all existence.’ He hasthe noblest gifts of nature, and makes the highest use of them. All his desiresare absorbed in the love of wisdom, which is the love of truth. None of thegraces of a beautiful soul are wanting in him; neither can he fear death, orthink much of human life. The ideal of modern times hardly retains thesimplicity of the antique; there is not the same originality either in truth orerror which characterized the Greeks. The philosopher is no longer living inthe unseen, nor is he sent by an oracle to convince mankind of ignorance; nordoes he regard knowledge as a system of ideas leading upwards by regular stagesto the idea of good. The eagerness of the pursuit has abated; there is moredivision of labour and less of comprehensive reflection upon nature and humanlife as a whole; more of exact observation and less of anticipation andinspiration. Still, in the altered conditions of knowledge, the parallel is notwholly lost; and there may be a use in translating the conception of Plato intothe language of our own age. The philosopher in modern times is one who fixeshis mind on the laws of nature in their sequence and connexion, not onfragments or pictures of nature; on history, not on controversy; on the truthswhich are acknowledged by the few, not on the opinions of the many. He is awareof the importance of ‘classifying according to nature,’ and willtry to ‘separate the limbs of science without breaking them’(Phaedr.). There is no part of truth, whether great or small, which he willdishonour; and in the least things he will discern the greatest (Parmen.). Likethe ancient philosopher he sees the world pervaded by analogies, but he canalso tell ‘why in some cases a single instance is sufficient for aninduction’ (Mill’s Logic), while in other cases a thousand exampleswould prove nothing. He inquires into a portion of knowledge only, because thewhole has grown too vast to be embraced by a single mind or life. He has aclearer conception of the divisions of science and of their relation to themind of man than was possible to the ancients. Like Plato, he has a vision ofthe unity of knowledge, not as the beginning of philosophy to be attained by astudy of elementary mathematics, but as the far-off result of the working ofmany minds in many ages. He is aware that mathematical studies are preliminaryto almost every other; at the same time, he will not reduce all varieties ofknowledge to the type of mathematics. He too must have a nobility of character,without which genius loses the better half of greatness. Regarding the world asa point in immensity, and each individual as a link in a never-ending chain ofexistence, he will not think much of his own life, or be greatly afraid ofdeath.

Adeimantus objects first of all to the form of the Socratic reasoning, thusshowing that Plato is aware of the imperfection of his own method. He bringsthe accusation against himself which might be brought against him by a modernlogician—that he extracts the answer because he knows how to put thequestion. In a long argument words are apt to change their meaning slightly, orpremises may be assumed or conclusions inferred with rather too much certaintyor universality; the variation at each step may be unobserved, and yet at lastthe divergence becomes considerable. Hence the failure of attempts to applyarithmetical or algebraic formulae to logic. The imperfection, or rather thehigher and more elastic nature of language, does not allow words to have theprecision of numbers or of symbols. And this quality in language impairs theforce of an argument which has many steps.

The objection, though fairly met by Socrates in this particular instance, maybe regarded as implying a reflection upon the Socratic mode of reasoning. Andhere, as elsewhere, Plato seems to intimate that the time had come when thenegative and interrogative method of Socrates must be superseded by a positiveand constructive one, of which examples are given in some of the laterdialogues. Adeimantus further argues that the ideal is wholly at variance withfacts; for experience proves philosophers to be either useless or rogues.Contrary to all expectation Socrates has no hesitation in admitting the truthof this, and explains the anomaly in an allegory, first characteristicallydepreciating his own inventive powers. In this allegory the people aredistinguished from the professional politicians, and, as elsewhere, are spokenof in a tone of pity rather than of censure under the image of ‘the noblecaptain who is not very quick in his perceptions.’

The uselessness of philosophers is explained by the circumstance that mankindwill not use them. The world in all ages has been divided between contempt andfear of those who employ the power of ideas and know no other weapons.Concerning the false philosopher, Socrates argues that the best is most liableto corruption; and that the finer nature is more likely to suffer from alienconditions. We too observe that there are some kinds of excellence which springfrom a peculiar delicacy of constitution; as is evidently true of the poeticaland imaginative temperament, which often seems to depend on impressions, andhence can only breathe or live in a certain atmosphere. The man of genius hasgreater pains and greater pleasures, greater powers and greater weaknesses, andoften a greater play of character than is to be found in ordinary men. He canassume the disguise of virtue or disinterestedness without having them, or veilpersonal enmity in the language of patriotism and philosophy,—he can saythe word which all men are thinking, he has an insight which is terrible intothe follies and weaknesses of his fellow-men. An Alcibiades, a Mirabeau, or aNapoleon the First, are born either to be the authors of great evils in states,or ‘of great good, when they are drawn in that direction.’

Yet the thesis, ‘corruptio optimi pessima,’ cannot be maintainedgenerally or without regard to the kind of excellence which is corrupted. Thealien conditions which are corrupting to one nature, may be the elements ofculture to another. In general a man can only receive his highest developmentin a congenial state or family, among friends or fellow-workers. But also hemay sometimes be stirred by adverse circumstances to such a degree that herises up against them and reforms them. And while weaker or coarser characterswill extract good out of evil, say in a corrupt state of the church or ofsociety, and live on happily, allowing the evil to remain, the finer orstronger natures may be crushed or spoiled by surrounding influences—maybecome misanthrope and philanthrope by turns; or in a few instances, like thefounders of the monastic orders, or the Reformers, owing to some peculiarity inthemselves or in their age, may break away entirely from the world and from thechurch, sometimes into great good, sometimes into great evil, sometimes intoboth. And the same holds in the lesser sphere of a convent, a school, a family.

Plato would have us consider how easily the best natures are overpowered bypublic opinion, and what efforts the rest of mankind will make to getpossession of them. The world, the church, their own profession, any politicalor party organization, are always carrying them off their legs and teachingthem to apply high and holy names to their own prejudices and interests. The‘monster’ corporation to which they belong judges right and truthto be the pleasure of the community. The individual becomes one with his order;or, if he resists, the world is too much for him, and will sooner or later berevenged on him. This is, perhaps, a one-sided but not wholly untrue picture ofthe maxims and practice of mankind when they ‘sit down together at anassembly,’ either in ancient or modern times.

When the higher natures are corrupted by politics, the lower take possession ofthe vacant place of philosophy. This is described in one of those continuousimages in which the argument, to use a Platonic expression, ‘veilsherself,’ and which is dropped and reappears at intervals. The questionis asked,—Why are the citizens of states so hostile to philosophy? Theanswer is, that they do not know her. And yet there is also a better mind ofthe many; they would believe if they were taught. But hitherto they have onlyknown a conventional imitation of philosophy, words without thoughts, systemswhich have no life in them; a (divine) person uttering the words of beauty andfreedom, the friend of man holding communion with the Eternal, and seeking toframe the state in that image, they have never known. The same double feelingrespecting the mass of mankind has always existed among men. The first thoughtis that the people are the enemies of truth and right; the second, that thisonly arises out of an accidental error and confusion, and that they do notreally hate those who love them, if they could be educated to know them.

In the latter part of the sixth book, three questions have to be considered:1st, the nature of the longer and more circuitous way, which is contrasted withthe shorter and more imperfect method of Book IV; 2nd, the heavenly pattern oridea of the state; 3rd, the relation of the divisions of knowledge to oneanother and to the corresponding faculties of the soul:

1. Of the higher method of knowledge in Plato we have only a glimpse. Neitherhere nor in the Phaedrus or Symposium, nor yet in the Philebus or Sophist, doeshe give any clear explanation of his meaning. He would probably have describedhis method as proceeding by regular steps to a system of universal knowledge,which inferred the parts from the whole rather than the whole from the parts.This ideal logic is not practised by him in the search after justice, or in theanalysis of the parts of the soul; there, like Aristotle in the NicomacheanEthics, he argues from experience and the common use of language. But at theend of the sixth book he conceives another and more perfect method, in whichall ideas are only steps or grades or moments of thought, forming a connectedwhole which is self-supporting, and in which consistency is the test of truth.He does not explain to us in detail the nature of the process. Like many otherthinkers both in ancient and modern times his mind seems to be filled with avacant form which he is unable to realize. He supposes the sciences to have anatural order and connexion in an age when they can hardly be said to exist. Heis hastening on to the ‘end of the intellectual world’ without evenmaking a beginning of them.

In modern times we hardly need to be reminded that the process of acquiringknowledge is here confused with the contemplation of absolute knowledge. In allscience a priori and a posteriori truths mingle in various proportions. The apriori part is that which is derived from the most universal experience of men,or is universally accepted by them; the a posteriori is that which grows uparound the more general principles and becomes imperceptibly one with them. ButPlato erroneously imagines that the synthesis is separable from the analysis,and that the method of science can anticipate science. In entertaining such avision of a priori knowledge he is sufficiently justified, or at least hismeaning may be sufficiently explained by the similar attempts of Descartes,Kant, Hegel, and even of Bacon himself, in modern philosophy. Anticipations ordivinations, or prophetic glimpses of truths whether concerning man or nature,seem to stand in the same relation to ancient philosophy which hypotheses bearto modern inductive science. These ‘guesses at truth’ were not madeat random; they arose from a superficial impression of uniformities and firstprinciples in nature which the genius of the Greek, contemplating the expanseof heaven and earth, seemed to recognize in the distance. Nor can we deny thatin ancient times knowledge must have stood still, and the human mind beendeprived of the very instruments of thought, if philosophy had been strictlyconfined to the results of experience.

2. Plato supposes that when the tablet has been made blank the artist will fillin the lineaments of the ideal state. Is this a pattern laid up in heaven, ormere vacancy on which he is supposed to gaze with wondering eye? The answer is,that such ideals are framed partly by the omission of particulars, partly byimagination perfecting the form which experience supplies (Phaedo). Platorepresents these ideals in a figure as belonging to another world; and inmodern times the idea will sometimes seem to precede, at other times toco-operate with the hand of the artist. As in science, so also in creative art,there is a synthetical as well as an analytical method. One man will have thewhole in his mind before he begins; to another the processes of mind and handwill be simultaneous.

3. There is no difficulty in seeing that Plato’s divisions of knowledgeare based, first, on the fundamental antithesis of sensible and intellectualwhich pervades the whole pre-Socratic philosophy; in which is implied also theopposition of the permanent and transient, of the universal and particular. Butthe age of philosophy in which he lived seemed to require a furtherdistinction;—numbers and figures were beginning to separate from ideas.The world could no longer regard justice as a cube, and was learning to see,though imperfectly, that the abstractions of sense were distinct from theabstractions of mind. Between the Eleatic being or essence and the shadows ofphenomena, the Pythagorean principle of number found a place, and was, asAristotle remarks, a conducting medium from one to the other. Hence Plato isled to introduce a third term which had not hitherto entered into the scheme ofhis philosophy. He had observed the use of mathematics in education; they werethe best preparation for higher studies. The subjective relation between themfurther suggested an objective one; although the passage from one to the otheris really imaginary (Metaph.). For metaphysical and moral philosophy has noconnexion with mathematics; number and figure are the abstractions of time andspace, not the expressions of purely intellectual conceptions. When divested ofmetaphor, a straight line or a square has no more to do with right and justicethan a crooked line with vice. The figurative association was mistaken for areal one; and thus the three latter divisions of the Platonic proportion wereconstructed.

There is more difficulty in comprehending how he arrived at the first term ofthe series, which is nowhere else mentioned, and has no reference to any otherpart of his system. Nor indeed does the relation of shadows to objectscorrespond to the relation of numbers to ideas. Probably Plato has been led bythe love of analogy (Timaeus) to make four terms instead of three, although theobjects perceived in both divisions of the lower sphere are equally objects ofsense. He is also preparing the way, as his manner is, for the shadows ofimages at the beginning of the seventh book, and the imitation of an imitationin the tenth. The line may be regarded as reaching from unity to infinity, andis divided into two unequal parts, and subdivided into two more; each lowersphere is the multiplication of the preceding. Of the four faculties, faith inthe lower division has an intermediate position (cp. for the use of the wordfaith or belief, (Greek), Timaeus), contrasting equally with the vagueness ofthe perception of shadows (Greek) and the higher certainty of understanding(Greek) and reason (Greek).

The difference between understanding and mind or reason (Greek) is analogous tothe difference between acquiring knowledge in the parts and the contemplationof the whole. True knowledge is a whole, and is at rest; consistency anduniversality are the tests of truth. To this self-evidencing knowledge of thewhole the faculty of mind is supposed to correspond. But there is a knowledgeof the understanding which is incomplete and in motion always, because unableto rest in the subordinate ideas. Those ideas are called both images andhypotheses—images because they are clothed in sense, hypotheses becausethey are assumptions only, until they are brought into connexion with the ideaof good.

The general meaning of the passage, ‘Noble, then, is the bond which linkstogether sight...And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible...’ so faras the thought contained in it admits of being translated into the terms ofmodern philosophy, may be described or explained as follows:—There is atruth, one and self-existent, to which by the help of a ladder let down fromabove, the human intelligence may ascend. This unity is like the sun in theheavens, the light by which all things are seen, the being by which they arecreated and sustained. It is the IDEA of good. And the steps of the ladderleading up to this highest or universal existence are the mathematicalsciences, which also contain in themselves an element of the universal. These,too, we see in a new manner when we connect them with the idea of good. Theythen cease to be hypotheses or pictures, and become essential parts of a highertruth which is at once their first principle and their final cause.

We cannot give any more precise meaning to this remarkable passage, but we maytrace in it several rudiments or vestiges of thought which are common to us andto Plato: such as (1) the unity and correlation of the sciences, or rather ofscience, for in Plato’s time they were not yet parted off ordistinguished; (2) the existence of a Divine Power, or life or idea or cause orreason, not yet conceived or no longer conceived as in the Timaeus andelsewhere under the form of a person; (3) the recognition of the hypotheticaland conditional character of the mathematical sciences, and in a measure ofevery science when isolated from the rest; (4) the conviction of a truth whichis invisible, and of a law, though hardly a law of nature, which permeates theintellectual rather than the visible world.

The method of Socrates is hesitating and tentative, awaiting the fullerexplanation of the idea of good, and of the nature of dialectic in the seventhbook. The imperfect intelligence of Glaucon, and the reluctance of Socrates tomake a beginning, mark the difficulty of the subject. The allusion toTheages’ bridle, and to the internal oracle, or demonic sign, ofSocrates, which here, as always in Plato, is only prohibitory; the remark thatthe salvation of any remnant of good in the present evil state of the world isdue to God only; the reference to a future state of existence, which is unknownto Glaucon in the tenth book, and in which the discussions of Socrates and hisdisciples would be resumed; the surprise in the answers; the fanciful irony ofSocrates, where he pretends that he can only describe the strange position ofthe philosopher in a figure of speech; the original observation that theSophists, after all, are only the representatives and not the leaders of publicopinion; the picture of the philosopher standing aside in the shower of sleetunder a wall; the figure of ‘the great beast’ followed by theexpression of good-will towards the common people who would not have rejectedthe philosopher if they had known him; the ‘right noble thought’that the highest truths demand the greatest exactness; the hesitation ofSocrates in returning once more to his well-worn theme of the idea of good; theludicrous earnestness of Glaucon; the comparison of philosophy to a desertedmaiden who marries beneath her—are some of the most interestingcharacteristics of the sixth book.

Yet a few more words may be added, on the old theme, which was so oft discussedin the Socratic circle, of which we, like Glaucon and Adeimantus, would fain,if possible, have a clearer notion. Like them, we are dissatisfied when we aretold that the idea of good can only be revealed to a student of themathematical sciences, and we are inclined to think that neither we nor theycould have been led along that path to any satisfactory goal. For we havelearned that differences of quantity cannot pass into differences of quality,and that the mathematical sciences can never rise above themselves into thesphere of our higher thoughts, although they may sometimes furnish symbols andexpressions of them, and may train the mind in habits of abstraction andself-concentration. The illusion which was natural to an ancient philosopherhas ceased to be an illusion to us. But if the process by which we are supposedto arrive at the idea of good be really imaginary, may not the idea itself bealso a mere abstraction? We remark, first, that in all ages, and especially inprimitive philosophy, words such as being, essence, unity, good, have exertedan extraordinary influence over the minds of men. The meagreness ornegativeness of their content has been in an inverse ratio to their power. Theyhave become the forms under which all things were comprehended. There was aneed or instinct in the human soul which they satisfied; they were not ideas,but gods, and to this new mythology the men of a later generation began toattach the powers and associations of the elder deities.

The idea of good is one of those sacred words or forms of thought, which werebeginning to take the place of the old mythology. It meant unity, in which alltime and all existence were gathered up. It was the truth of all things, andalso the light in which they shone forth, and became evident to intelligenceshuman and divine. It was the cause of all things, the power by which they werebrought into being. It was the universal reason divested of a humanpersonality. It was the life as well as the light of the world, all knowledgeand all power were comprehended in it. The way to it was through themathematical sciences, and these too were dependent on it. To ask whether Godwas the maker of it, or made by it, would be like asking whether God could beconceived apart from goodness, or goodness apart from God. The God of theTimaeus is not really at variance with the idea of good; they are aspects ofthe same, differing only as the personal from the impersonal, or the masculinefrom the neuter, the one being the expression or language of mythology, theother of philosophy.

This, or something like this, is the meaning of the idea of good as conceivedby Plato. Ideas of number, order, harmony, development may also be said toenter into it. The paraphrase which has just been given of it goes beyond theactual words of Plato. We have perhaps arrived at the stage of philosophy whichenables us to understand what he is aiming at, better than he did himself. Weare beginning to realize what he saw darkly and at a distance. But if he couldhave been told that this, or some conception of the same kind, but higher thanthis, was the truth at which he was aiming, and the need which he sought tosupply, he would gladly have recognized that more was contained in his ownthoughts than he himself knew. As his words are few and his manner reticent andtentative, so must the style of his interpreter be. We should not approach hismeaning more nearly by attempting to define it further. In translating him intothe language of modern thought, we might insensibly lose the spirit of ancientphilosophy. It is remarkable that although Plato speaks of the idea of good asthe first principle of truth and being, it is nowhere mentioned in his writingsexcept in this passage. Nor did it retain any hold upon the minds of hisdisciples in a later generation; it was probably unintelligible to them. Nordoes the mention of it in Aristotle appear to have any reference to this or anyother passage in his extant writings.

BOOK VII. And now I will describe in a figure the enlightenment orunenlightenment of our nature:—Imagine human beings living in anunderground den which is open towards the light; they have been there fromchildhood, having their necks and legs chained, and can only see into the den.At a distance there is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners a raisedway, and a low wall is built along the way, like the screen over whichmarionette players show their puppets. Behind the wall appear moving figures,who hold in their hands various works of art, and among them images of men andanimals, wood and stone, and some of the passers-by are talking and otherssilent. ‘A strange parable,’ he said, ‘and strangecaptives.’ They are ourselves, I replied; and they see only the shadowsof the images which the fire throws on the wall of the den; to these they givenames, and if we add an echo which returns from the wall, the voices of thepassengers will seem to proceed from the shadows. Suppose now that you suddenlyturn them round and make them look with pain and grief to themselves at thereal images; will they believe them to be real? Will not their eyes be dazzled,and will they not try to get away from the light to something which they areable to behold without blinking? And suppose further, that they are dragged upa steep and rugged ascent into the presence of the sun himself, will not theirsight be darkened with the excess of light? Some time will pass before they getthe habit of perceiving at all; and at first they will be able to perceive onlyshadows and reflections in the water; then they will recognize the moon and thestars, and will at length behold the sun in his own proper place as he is. Lastof all they will conclude:—This is he who gives us the year and theseasons, and is the author of all that we see. How will they rejoice in passingfrom darkness to light! How worthless to them will seem the honours and gloriesof the den! But now imagine further, that they descend into their oldhabitations;—in that underground dwelling they will not see as well astheir fellows, and will not be able to compete with them in the measurement ofthe shadows on the wall; there will be many jokes about the man who went on avisit to the sun and lost his eyes, and if they find anybody trying to set freeand enlighten one of their number, they will put him to death, if they cancatch him. Now the cave or den is the world of sight, the fire is the sun, theway upwards is the way to knowledge, and in the world of knowledge the idea ofgood is last seen and with difficulty, but when seen is inferred to be theauthor of good and right—parent of the lord of light in this world, andof truth and understanding in the other. He who attains to the beatific visionis always going upwards; he is unwilling to descend into political assembliesand courts of law; for his eyes are apt to blink at the images or shadows ofimages which they behold in them—he cannot enter into the ideas of thosewho have never in their lives understood the relation of the shadow to thesubstance. But blindness is of two kinds, and may be caused either by passingout of darkness into light or out of light into darkness, and a man of sensewill distinguish between them, and will not laugh equally at both of them, butthe blindness which arises from fulness of light he will deem blessed, and pitythe other; or if he laugh at the puzzled soul looking at the sun, he will havemore reason to laugh than the inhabitants of the den at those who descend fromabove. There is a further lesson taught by this parable of ours. Some personsfancy that instruction is like giving eyes to the blind, but we say that thefaculty of sight was always there, and that the soul only requires to be turnedround towards the light. And this is conversion; other virtues are almost likebodily habits, and may be acquired in the same manner, but intelligence has adiviner life, and is indestructible, turning either to good or evil accordingto the direction given. Did you never observe how the mind of a clever roguepeers out of his eyes, and the more clearly he sees, the more evil he does? Nowif you take such an one, and cut away from him those leaden weights of pleasureand desire which bind his soul to earth, his intelligence will be turned round,and he will behold the truth as clearly as he now discerns his meaner ends. Andhave we not decided that our rulers must neither be so uneducated as to have nofixed rule of life, nor so over-educated as to be unwilling to leave theirparadise for the business of the world? We must choose out therefore thenatures who are most likely to ascend to the light and knowledge of the good;but we must not allow them to remain in the region of light; they must beforced down again among the captives in the den to partake of their labours andhonours. ‘Will they not think this a hardship?’ You should rememberthat our purpose in framing the State was not that our citizens should do whatthey like, but that they should serve the State for the common good of all. Maywe not fairly say to our philosopher,—Friend, we do you no wrong; for inother States philosophy grows wild, and a wild plant owes nothing to thegardener, but you have been trained by us to be the rulers and kings of ourhive, and therefore we must insist on your descending into the den. You must,each of you, take your turn, and become able to use your eyes in the dark, andwith a little practice you will see far better than those who quarrel about theshadows, whose knowledge is a dream only, whilst yours is a waking reality. Itmay be that the saint or philosopher who is best fitted, may also be the leastinclined to rule, but necessity is laid upon him, and he must no longer live inthe heaven of ideas. And this will be the salvation of the State. For those whorule must not be those who are desirous to rule; and, if you can offer to ourcitizens a better life than that of rulers generally is, there will be a chancethat the rich, not only in this world’s goods, but in virtue and wisdom,may bear rule. And the only life which is better than the life of politicalambition is that of philosophy, which is also the best preparation for thegovernment of a State.

Then now comes the question,—How shall we create our rulers; what way isthere from darkness to light? The change is effected by philosophy; it is notthe turning over of an oyster-shell, but the conversion of a soul from night today, from becoming to being. And what training will draw the soul upwards? Ourformer education had two branches, gymnastic, which was occupied with the body,and music, the sister art, which infused a natural harmony into mind andliterature; but neither of these sciences gave any promise of doing what wewant. Nothing remains to us but that universal or primary science of which allthe arts and sciences are partakers, I mean number or calculation. ‘Verytrue.’ Including the art of war? ‘Yes, certainly.’ Then thereis something ludicrous about Palamedes in the tragedy, coming in and sayingthat he had invented number, and had counted the ranks and set them in order.For if Agamemnon could not count his feet (and without number how could he?) hemust have been a pretty sort of general indeed. No man should be a soldier whocannot count, and indeed he is hardly to be called a man. But I am not speakingof these practical applications of arithmetic, for number, in my view, israther to be regarded as a conductor to thought and being. I will explain whatI mean by the last expression:—Things sensible are of two kinds; the oneclass invite or stimulate the mind, while in the other the mind acquiesces. Nowthe stimulating class are the things which suggest contrast and relation. Forexample, suppose that I hold up to the eyes three fingers—a fore finger,a middle finger, a little finger—the sight equally recognizes all threefingers, but without number cannot further distinguish them. Or again, supposetwo objects to be relatively great and small, these ideas of greatness andsmallness are supplied not by the sense, but by the mind. And the perception oftheir contrast or relation quickens and sets in motion the mind, which ispuzzled by the confused intimations of sense, and has recourse to number inorder to find out whether the things indicated are one or more than one. Numberreplies that they are two and not one, and are to be distinguished from oneanother. Again, the sight beholds great and small, but only in a confusedchaos, and not until they are distinguished does the question arise of theirrespective natures; we are thus led on to the distinction between the visibleand intelligible. That was what I meant when I spoke of stimulants to theintellect; I was thinking of the contradictions which arise in perception. Theidea of unity, for example, like that of a finger, does not arouse thoughtunless involving some conception of plurality; but when the one is also theopposite of one, the contradiction gives rise to reflection; an example of thisis afforded by any object of sight. All number has also an elevating effect; itraises the mind out of the foam and flux of generation to the contemplation ofbeing, having lesser military and retail uses also. The retail use is notrequired by us; but as our guardian is to be a soldier as well as aphilosopher, the military one may be retained. And to our higher purpose noscience can be better adapted; but it must be pursued in the spirit of aphilosopher, not of a shopkeeper. It is concerned, not with visible objects,but with abstract truth; for numbers are pure abstractions—the truearithmetician indignantly denies that his unit is capable of division. When youdivide, he insists that you are only multiplying; his ‘one’ is notmaterial or resolvable into fractions, but an unvarying and absolute equality;and this proves the purely intellectual character of his study. Note also thegreat power which arithmetic has of sharpening the wits; no other discipline isequally severe, or an equal test of general ability, or equally improving to astupid person.

Let our second branch of education be geometry. ‘I can easily see,’replied Glaucon, ‘that the skill of the general will be doubled by hisknowledge of geometry.’ That is a small matter; the use of geometry, towhich I refer, is the assistance given by it in the contemplation of the ideaof good, and the compelling the mind to look at true being, and not atgeneration only. Yet the present mode of pursuing these studies, as any one whois the least of a mathematician is aware, is mean and ridiculous; they are madeto look downwards to the arts, and not upwards to eternal existence. Thegeometer is always talking of squaring, subtending, apposing, as if he had inview action; whereas knowledge is the real object of the study. It shouldelevate the soul, and create the mind of philosophy; it should raise up whathas fallen down, not to speak of lesser uses in war and military tactics, andin the improvement of the faculties.

Shall we propose, as a third branch of our education, astronomy? ‘Verygood,’ replied Glaucon; ‘the knowledge of the heavens is necessaryat once for husbandry, navigation, military tactics.’ I like your way ofgiving useful reasons for everything in order to make friends of the world. Andthere is a difficulty in proving to mankind that education is not only usefulinformation but a purification of the eye of the soul, which is better than thebodily eye, for by this alone is truth seen. Now, will you appeal to mankind ingeneral or to the philosopher? or would you prefer to look to yourself only?‘Every man is his own best friend.’ Then take a step backward, forwe are out of order, and insert the third dimension which is of solids, afterthe second which is of planes, and then you may proceed to solids in motion.But solid geometry is not popular and has not the patronage of the State, noris the use of it fully recognized; the difficulty is great, and the votaries ofthe study are conceited and impatient. Still the charm of the pursuit wins uponmen, and, if government would lend a little assistance, there might be greatprogress made. ‘Very true,’ replied Glaucon; ‘but do Iunderstand you now to begin with plane geometry, and to place next geometry ofsolids, and thirdly, astronomy, or the motion of solids?’ Yes, I said; myhastiness has only hindered us.

‘Very good, and now let us proceed to astronomy, about which I am willingto speak in your lofty strain. No one can fail to see that the contemplation ofthe heavens draws the soul upwards.’ I am an exception, then; astronomyas studied at present appears to me to draw the soul not upwards, butdownwards. Star-gazing is just looking up at the ceiling—no better; a manmay lie on his back on land or on water—he may look up or look down, butthere is no science in that. The vision of knowledge of which I speak is seennot with the eyes, but with the mind. All the magnificence of the heavens isbut the embroidery of a copy which falls far short of the divine Original, andteaches nothing about the absolute harmonies or motions of things. Their beautyis like the beauty of figures drawn by the hand of Daedalus or any other greatartist, which may be used for illustration, but no mathematician would seek toobtain from them true conceptions of equality or numerical relations. Howridiculous then to look for these in the map of the heavens, in which theimperfection of matter comes in everywhere as a disturbing element, marring thesymmetry of day and night, of months and years, of the sun and stars in theircourses. Only by problems can we place astronomy on a truly scientific basis.Let the heavens alone, and exert the intellect.

Still, mathematics admit of other applications, as the Pythagoreans say, and weagree. There is a sister science of harmonical motion, adapted to the ear asastronomy is to the eye, and there may be other applications also. Let usinquire of the Pythagoreans about them, not forgetting that we have an aimhigher than theirs, which is the relation of these sciences to the idea ofgood. The error which pervades astronomy also pervades harmonics. The musiciansput their ears in the place of their minds. ‘Yes,’ replied Glaucon,‘I like to see them laying their ears alongside of theirneighbours’ faces—some saying, “That’s a newnote,” others declaring that the two notes are the same.’ Yes, Isaid; but you mean the empirics who are always twisting and torturing thestrings of the lyre, and quarrelling about the tempers of the strings; I amreferring rather to the Pythagorean harmonists, who are almost equally inerror. For they investigate only the numbers of the consonances which areheard, and ascend no higher,—of the true numerical harmony which isunheard, and is only to be found in problems, they have not even a conception.‘That last,’ he said, ‘must be a marvellous thing.’ Athing, I replied, which is only useful if pursued with a view to the good.

All these sciences are the prelude of the strain, and are profitable if theyare regarded in their natural relations to one another. ‘I dare say,Socrates,’ said Glaucon; ‘but such a study will be an endlessbusiness.’ What study do you mean—of the prelude, or what? For allthese things are only the prelude, and you surely do not suppose that a meremathematician is also a dialectician? ‘Certainly not. I have hardly everknown a mathematician who could reason.’ And yet, Glaucon, is not truereasoning that hymn of dialectic which is the music of the intellectual world,and which was by us compared to the effort of sight, when from beholding theshadows on the wall we arrived at last at the images which gave the shadows?Even so the dialectical faculty withdrawing from sense arrives by the pureintellect at the contemplation of the idea of good, and never rests but at thevery end of the intellectual world. And the royal road out of the cave into thelight, and the blinking of the eyes at the sun and turning to contemplate theshadows of reality, not the shadows of an image only—this progress andgradual acquisition of a new faculty of sight by the help of the mathematicalsciences, is the elevation of the soul to the contemplation of the highestideal of being.

‘So far, I agree with you. But now, leaving the prelude, let us proceedto the hymn. What, then, is the nature of dialectic, and what are the pathswhich lead thither?’ Dear Glaucon, you cannot follow me here. There canbe no revelation of the absolute truth to one who has not been disciplined inthe previous sciences. But that there is a science of absolute truth, which isattained in some way very different from those now practised, I am confident.For all other arts or sciences are relative to human needs and opinions; andthe mathematical sciences are but a dream or hypothesis of true being, andnever analyse their own principles. Dialectic alone rises to the principlewhich is above hypotheses, converting and gently leading the eye of the soulout of the barbarous slough of ignorance into the light of the upper world,with the help of the sciences which we have been describing—sciences, asthey are often termed, although they require some other name, implying greaterclearness than opinion and less clearness than science, and this in ourprevious sketch was understanding. And so we get four names—two forintellect, and two for opinion,—reason or mind, understanding, faith,perception of shadows—which make a proportion—being:becoming::intellect:opinion—and science:belief::understanding:perception of shadows. Dialectic may be further described as that science whichdefines and explains the essence or being of each nature, which distinguishesand abstracts the good, and is ready to do battle against all opponents in thecause of good. To him who is not a dialectician life is but a sleepy dream; andmany a man is in his grave before his is well waked up. And would you have thefuture rulers of your ideal State intelligent beings, or stupid as posts?‘Certainly not the latter.’ Then you must train them in dialectic,which will teach them to ask and answer questions, and is the coping-stone ofthe sciences.

I dare say that you have not forgotten how our rulers were chosen; and theprocess of selection may be carried a step further:—As before, they mustbe constant and valiant, good-looking, and of noble manners, but now they mustalso have natural ability which education will improve; that is to say, theymust be quick at learning, capable of mental toil, retentive, solid, diligentnatures, who combine intellectual with moral virtues; not lame and one-sided,diligent in bodily exercise and indolent in mind, or conversely; not a maimedsoul, which hates falsehood and yet unintentionally is always wallowing in themire of ignorance; not a bastard or feeble person, but sound in wind and limb,and in perfect condition for the great gymnastic trial of the mind. Justiceherself can find no fault with natures such as these; and they will be thesaviours of our State; disciples of another sort would only make philosophymore ridiculous than she is at present. Forgive my enthusiasm; I am becomingexcited; but when I see her trampled underfoot, I am angry at the authors ofher disgrace. ‘I did not notice that you were more excited than you oughtto have been.’ But I felt that I was. Now do not let us forget anotherpoint in the selection of our disciples—that they must be young and notold. For Solon is mistaken in saying that an old man can be always learning;youth is the time of study, and here we must remember that the mind is free anddainty, and, unlike the body, must not be made to work against the grain.Learning should be at first a sort of play, in which the natural bent isdetected. As in training them for war, the young dogs should at first onlytaste blood; but when the necessary gymnastics are over which during two orthree years divide life between sleep and bodily exercise, then the educationof the soul will become a more serious matter. At twenty years of age, aselection must be made of the more promising disciples, with whom a new epochof education will begin. The sciences which they have hitherto learned infragments will now be brought into relation with each other and with truebeing; for the power of combining them is the test of speculative anddialectical ability. And afterwards at thirty a further selection shall be madeof those who are able to withdraw from the world of sense into the abstractionof ideas. But at this point, judging from present experience, there is a dangerthat dialectic may be the source of many evils. The danger may be illustratedby a parallel case:—Imagine a person who has been brought up in wealthand luxury amid a crowd of flatterers, and who is suddenly informed that he isa supposititious son. He has hitherto honoured his reputed parents anddisregarded the flatterers, and now he does the reverse. This is just whathappens with a man’s principles. There are certain doctrines which helearnt at home and which exercised a parental authority over him. Presently hefinds that imputations are cast upon them; a troublesome querist comes andasks, ‘What is the just and good?’ or proves that virtue is viceand vice virtue, and his mind becomes unsettled, and he ceases to love, honour,and obey them as he has hitherto done. He is seduced into the life of pleasure,and becomes a lawless person and a rogue. The case of such speculators is verypitiable, and, in order that our thirty years’ old pupils may not requirethis pity, let us take every possible care that young persons do not studyphilosophy too early. For a young man is a sort of puppy who only plays with anargument; and is reasoned into and out of his opinions every day; he soonbegins to believe nothing, and brings himself and philosophy into discredit. Aman of thirty does not run on in this way; he will argue and not merelycontradict, and adds new honour to philosophy by the sobriety of his conduct.What time shall we allow for this second gymnastic training of thesoul?—say, twice the time required for the gymnastics of the body; six,or perhaps five years, to commence at thirty, and then for fifteen years letthe student go down into the den, and command armies, and gain experience oflife. At fifty let him return to the end of all things, and have his eyesuplifted to the idea of good, and order his life after that pattern; ifnecessary, taking his turn at the helm of State, and training up others to behis successors. When his time comes he shall depart in peace to the islands ofthe blest. He shall be honoured with sacrifices, and receive such worship asthe Pythian oracle approves.

‘You are a statuary, Socrates, and have made a perfect image of ourgovernors.’ Yes, and of our governesses, for the women will share in allthings with the men. And you will admit that our State is not a mereaspiration, but may really come into being when there shall arisephilosopher-kings, one or more, who will despise earthly vanities, and will bethe servants of justice only. ‘And how will they begin their work?’Their first act will be to send away into the country all those who are morethan ten years of age, and to proceed with those who are left...

At the commencement of the sixth book, Plato anticipated his explanation of therelation of the philosopher to the world in an allegory, in this, as in otherpassages, following the order which he prescribes in education, and proceedingfrom the concrete to the abstract. At the commencement of Book VII, under thefigure of a cave having an opening towards a fire and a way upwards to the truelight, he returns to view the divisions of knowledge, exhibiting familiarly, asin a picture, the result which had been hardly won by a great effort of thoughtin the previous discussion; at the same time casting a glance onward at thedialectical process, which is represented by the way leading from darkness tolight. The shadows, the images, the reflection of the sun and stars in thewater, the stars and sun themselves, severally correspond,—the first, tothe realm of fancy and poetry,—the second, to the world ofsense,—the third, to the abstractions or universals of sense, of whichthe mathematical sciences furnish the type,—the fourth and last to thesame abstractions, when seen in the unity of the idea, from which they derive anew meaning and power. The true dialectical process begins with thecontemplation of the real stars, and not mere reflections of them, and endswith the recognition of the sun, or idea of good, as the parent not only oflight but of warmth and growth. To the divisions of knowledge the stages ofeducation partly answer:—first, there is the early education of childhoodand youth in the fancies of the poets, and in the laws and customs of theState;—then there is the training of the body to be a warrior athlete,and a good servant of the mind;—and thirdly, after an interval followsthe education of later life, which begins with mathematics and proceeds tophilosophy in general.

There seem to be two great aims in the philosophy of Plato,—first, torealize abstractions; secondly, to connect them. According to him, the trueeducation is that which draws men from becoming to being, and to acomprehensive survey of all being. He desires to develop in the human mind thefaculty of seeing the universal in all things; until at last the particulars ofsense drop away and the universal alone remains. He then seeks to combine theuniversals which he has disengaged from sense, not perceiving that thecorrelation of them has no other basis but the common use of language. He neverunderstands that abstractions, as Hegel says, are ‘mereabstractions’—of use when employed in the arrangement of facts, butadding nothing to the sum of knowledge when pursued apart from them, or withreference to an imaginary idea of good. Still the exercise of the faculty ofabstraction apart from facts has enlarged the mind, and played a great part inthe education of the human race. Plato appreciated the value of this faculty,and saw that it might be quickened by the study of number and relation. Allthings in which there is opposition or proportion are suggestive of reflection.The mere impression of sense evokes no power of thought or of mind, but whensensible objects ask to be compared and distinguished, then philosophy begins.The science of arithmetic first suggests such distinctions. The follow in orderthe other sciences of plain and solid geometry, and of solids in motion, onebranch of which is astronomy or the harmony of the spheres,—to this isappended the sister science of the harmony of sounds. Plato seems also to hintat the possibility of other applications of arithmetical or mathematicalproportions, such as we employ in chemistry and natural philosophy, such as thePythagoreans and even Aristotle make use of in Ethics and Politics, e.g. hisdistinction between arithmetical and geometrical proportion in the Ethics (BookV), or between numerical and proportional equality in the Politics.

The modern mathematician will readily sympathise with Plato’s delight inthe properties of pure mathematics. He will not be disinclined to say withhim:—Let alone the heavens, and study the beauties of number and figurein themselves. He too will be apt to depreciate their application to the arts.He will observe that Plato has a conception of geometry, in which figures areto be dispensed with; thus in a distant and shadowy way seeming to anticipatethe possibility of working geometrical problems by a more general mode ofanalysis. He will remark with interest on the backward state of solid geometry,which, alas! was not encouraged by the aid of the State in the age of Plato;and he will recognize the grasp of Plato’s mind in his ability toconceive of one science of solids in motion including the earth as well as theheavens,—not forgetting to notice the intimation to which allusion hasbeen already made, that besides astronomy and harmonics the science of solidsin motion may have other applications. Still more will he be struck with thecomprehensiveness of view which led Plato, at a time when these sciences hardlyexisted, to say that they must be studied in relation to one another, and tothe idea of good, or common principle of truth and being. But he will also see(and perhaps without surprise) that in that stage of physical and mathematicalknowledge, Plato has fallen into the error of supposing that he can constructthe heavens a priori by mathematical problems, and determine the principles ofharmony irrespective of the adaptation of sounds to the human ear. The illusionwas a natural one in that age and country. The simplicity and certainty ofastronomy and harmonics seemed to contrast with the variation and complexity ofthe world of sense; hence the circumstance that there was some elementary basisof fact, some measurement of distance or time or vibrations on which they mustultimately rest, was overlooked by him. The modern predecessors of Newton fellinto errors equally great; and Plato can hardly be said to have been very farwrong, or may even claim a sort of prophetic insight into the subject, when weconsider that the greater part of astronomy at the present day consists ofabstract dynamics, by the help of which most astronomical discoveries have beenmade.

The metaphysical philosopher from his point of view recognizes mathematics asan instrument of education,—which strengthens the power of attention,developes the sense of order and the faculty of construction, and enables themind to grasp under simple formulae the quantitative differences of physicalphenomena. But while acknowledging their value in education, he sees also thatthey have no connexion with our higher moral and intellectual ideas. In theattempt which Plato makes to connect them, we easily trace the influences ofancient Pythagorean notions. There is no reason to suppose that he is speakingof the ideal numbers; but he is describing numbers which are pure abstractions,to which he assigns a real and separate existence, which, as ‘theteachers of the art’ (meaning probably the Pythagoreans) would haveaffirmed, repel all attempts at subdivision, and in which unity and every othernumber are conceived of as absolute. The truth and certainty of numbers, whenthus disengaged from phenomena, gave them a kind of sacredness in the eyes ofan ancient philosopher. Nor is it easy to say how far ideas of order andfixedness may have had a moral and elevating influence on the minds of men,‘who,’ in the words of the Timaeus, ‘might learn to regulatetheir erring lives according to them.’ It is worthy of remark that theold Pythagorean ethical symbols still exist as figures of speech amongourselves. And those who in modern times see the world pervaded by universallaw, may also see an anticipation of this last word of modern philosophy in thePlatonic idea of good, which is the source and measure of all things, and yetonly an abstraction (Philebus).

Two passages seem to require more particular explanations. First, that whichrelates to the analysis of vision. The difficulty in this passage may beexplained, like many others, from differences in the modes of conceptionprevailing among ancient and modern thinkers. To us, the perceptions of senseare inseparable from the act of the mind which accompanies them. Theconsciousness of form, colour, distance, is indistinguishable from the simplesensation, which is the medium of them. Whereas to Plato sense is theHeraclitean flux of sense, not the vision of objects in the order in which theyactually present themselves to the experienced sight, but as they may beimagined to appear confused and blurred to the half-awakened eye of the infant.The first action of the mind is aroused by the attempt to set in order thischaos, and the reason is required to frame distinct conceptions under which theconfused impressions of sense may be arranged. Hence arises the question,‘What is great, what is small?’ and thus begins the distinction ofthe visible and the intelligible.

The second difficulty relates to Plato’s conception of harmonics. Threeclasses of harmonists are distinguished by him:—first, the Pythagoreans,whom he proposes to consult as in the previous discussion on music he was toconsult Damon—they are acknowledged to be masters in the art, but arealtogether deficient in the knowledge of its higher import and relation to thegood; secondly, the mere empirics, whom Glaucon appears to confuse with them,and whom both he and Socrates ludicrously describe as experimenting by mereauscultation on the intervals of sounds. Both of these fall short in differentdegrees of the Platonic idea of harmony, which must be studied in a purelyabstract way, first by the method of problems, and secondly as a part ofuniversal knowledge in relation to the idea of good.

The allegory has a political as well as a philosophical meaning. The den orcave represents the narrow sphere of politics or law (compare the descriptionof the philosopher and lawyer in the Theaetetus), and the light of the eternalideas is supposed to exercise a disturbing influence on the minds of those whoreturn to this lower world. In other words, their principles are too wide forpractical application; they are looking far away into the past and future, whentheir business is with the present. The ideal is not easily reduced to theconditions of actual life, and may often be at variance with them. And atfirst, those who return are unable to compete with the inhabitants of the denin the measurement of the shadows, and are derided and persecuted by them; butafter a while they see the things below in far truer proportions than those whohave never ascended into the upper world. The difference between the politicianturned into a philosopher and the philosopher turned into a politician, issymbolized by the two kinds of disordered eyesight, the one which isexperienced by the captive who is transferred from darkness to day, the other,of the heavenly messenger who voluntarily for the good of his fellow-mendescends into the den. In what way the brighter light is to dawn on theinhabitants of the lower world, or how the idea of good is to become theguiding principle of politics, is left unexplained by Plato. Like the natureand divisions of dialectic, of which Glaucon impatiently demands to beinformed, perhaps he would have said that the explanation could not be givenexcept to a disciple of the previous sciences. (Symposium.)

Many illustrations of this part of the Republic may be found in modern Politicsand in daily life. For among ourselves, too, there have been two sorts ofPoliticians or Statesmen, whose eyesight has become disordered in two differentways. First, there have been great men who, in the language of Burke,‘have been too much given to general maxims,’ who, like J.S. Millor Burke himself, have been theorists or philosophers before they werepoliticians, or who, having been students of history, have allowed some greathistorical parallel, such as the English Revolution of 1688, or possiblyAthenian democracy or Roman Imperialism, to be the medium through which theyviewed contemporary events. Or perhaps the long projecting shadow of someexisting institution may have darkened their vision. The Church of the future,the Commonwealth of the future, the Society of the future, have so absorbedtheir minds, that they are unable to see in their true proportions the Politicsof to-day. They have been intoxicated with great ideas, such as liberty, orequality, or the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the brotherhoodof humanity, and they no longer care to consider how these ideas must belimited in practice or harmonized with the conditions of human life. They arefull of light, but the light to them has become only a sort of luminous mist orblindness. Almost every one has known some enthusiastic half-educated person,who sees everything at false distances, and in erroneous proportions.

With this disorder of eyesight may be contrasted another—of those who seenot far into the distance, but what is near only; who have been engaged alltheir lives in a trade or a profession; who are limited to a set or sect oftheir own. Men of this kind have no universal except their own interests or theinterests of their class, no principle but the opinion of persons likethemselves, no knowledge of affairs beyond what they pick up in the streets orat their club. Suppose them to be sent into a larger world, to undertake somehigher calling, from being tradesmen to turn generals or politicians, frombeing schoolmasters to become philosophers:—or imagine them on a suddento receive an inward light which reveals to them for the first time in theirlives a higher idea of God and the existence of a spiritual world, by thissudden conversion or change is not their daily life likely to be upset; and onthe other hand will not many of their old prejudices and narrownesses stilladhere to them long after they have begun to take a more comprehensive view ofhuman things? From familiar examples like these we may learn what Plato meantby the eyesight which is liable to two kinds of disorders.

Nor have we any difficulty in drawing a parallel between the young Athenian inthe fifth century before Christ who became unsettled by new ideas, and thestudent of a modern University who has been the subject of a similar‘aufklärung.’ We too observe that when young men begin to criticisecustomary beliefs, or to analyse the constitution of human nature, they are aptto lose hold of solid principle (ἅπαν τὸβέβαιον αὐτῶνἐξοίχεται). They are like treeswhich have been frequently transplanted. The earth about them is loose, andthey have no roots reaching far into the soil. They ‘light upon everyflower,’ following their own wayward wills, or because the wind blowsthem. They catch opinions, as diseases are caught—when they are in theair. Borne hither and thither, ‘they speedily fall into beliefs’the opposite of those in which they were brought up. They hardly retain thedistinction of right and wrong; they seem to think one thing as good asanother. They suppose themselves to be searching after truth when they areplaying the game of ‘follow my leader.’ They fall in love ‘atfirst sight’ with paradoxes respecting morality, some fancy about art,some novelty or eccentricity in religion, and like lovers they are so absorbedfor a time in their new notion that they can think of nothing else. Theresolution of some philosophical or theological question seems to them moreinteresting and important than any substantial knowledge of literature orscience or even than a good life. Like the youth in the Philebus, they areready to discourse to any one about a new philosophy. They are generally thedisciples of some eminent professor or sophist, whom they rather imitate thanunderstand. They may be counted happy if in later years they retain some of thesimple truths which they acquired in early education, and which they may,perhaps, find to be worth all the rest. Such is the picture which Plato drawsand which we only reproduce, partly in his own words, of the dangers whichbeset youth in times of transition, when old opinions are fading away and thenew are not yet firmly established. Their condition is ingeniously compared byhim to that of a supposititious son, who has made the discovery that hisreputed parents are not his real ones, and, in consequence, they have losttheir authority over him.

The distinction between the mathematician and the dialectician is alsonoticeable. Plato is very well aware that the faculty of the mathematician isquite distinct from the higher philosophical sense which recognizes andcombines first principles. The contempt which he expresses for distinctions ofwords, the danger of involuntary falsehood, the apology which Socrates makesfor his earnestness of speech, are highly characteristic of the Platonic styleand mode of thought. The quaint notion that if Palamedes was the inventor ofnumber Agamemnon could not have counted his feet; the art by which we are madeto believe that this State of ours is not a dream only; the gravity with whichthe first step is taken in the actual creation of the State, namely, thesending out of the city all who had arrived at ten years of age, in order toexpedite the business of education by a generation, are also truly Platonic.(For the last, compare the passage at the end of the third book, in which heexpects the lie about the earthborn men to be believed in the secondgeneration.)

BOOK VIII. And so we have arrived at the conclusion, that in the perfect Statewives and children are to be in common; and the education and pursuits of menand women, both in war and peace, are to be common, and kings are to bephilosophers and warriors, and the soldiers of the State are to live together,having all things in common; and they are to be warrior athletes, receiving nopay but only their food, from the other citizens. Now let us return to thepoint at which we digressed. ‘That is easily done,’ he replied:‘You were speaking of the State which you had constructed, and of theindividual who answered to this, both of whom you affirmed to be good; and yousaid that of inferior States there were four forms and four individualscorresponding to them, which although deficient in various degrees, were all ofthem worth inspecting with a view to determining the relative happiness ormisery of the best or worst man. Then Polemarchus and Adeimantus interruptedyou, and this led to another argument,—and so here we are.’ Supposethat we put ourselves again in the same position, and do you repeat yourquestion. ‘I should like to know of what constitutions you werespeaking?’ Besides the perfect State there are only four of any note inHellas:—first, the famous Lacedaemonian or Cretan commonwealth; secondly,oligarchy, a State full of evils; thirdly, democracy, which follows next inorder; fourthly, tyranny, which is the disease or death of all government. Now,States are not made of ‘oak and rock,’ but of flesh and blood; andtherefore as there are five States there must be five human natures inindividuals, which correspond to them. And first, there is the ambitiousnature, which answers to the Lacedaemonian State; secondly, the oligarchicalnature; thirdly, the democratical; and fourthly, the tyrannical. This last willhave to be compared with the perfectly just, which is the fifth, that we mayknow which is the happier, and then we shall be able to determine whether theargument of Thrasymachus or our own is the more convincing. And as before webegan with the State and went on to the individual, so now, beginning withtimocracy, let us go on to the timocratical man, and then proceed to the otherforms of government, and the individuals who answer to them.

But how did timocracy arise out of the perfect State? Plainly, like all changesof government, from division in the rulers. But whence came division?‘Sing, heavenly Muses,’ as Homer says;—let them condescend toanswer us, as if we were children, to whom they put on a solemn face in jest.‘And what will they say?’ They will say that human things are fatedto decay, and even the perfect State will not escape from this law of destiny,when ‘the wheel comes full circle’ in a period short or long.Plants or animals have times of fertility and sterility, which the intelligenceof rulers because alloyed by sense will not enable them to ascertain, andchildren will be born out of season. For whereas divine creations are in aperfect cycle or number, the human creation is in a number which declines fromperfection, and has four terms and three intervals of numbers, increasing,waning, assimilating, dissimilating, and yet perfectly commensurate with eachother. The base of the number with a fourth added (or which is 3:4), multipliedby five and cubed, gives two harmonies:—the first a square number, whichis a hundred times the base (or a hundred times a hundred); the second, anoblong, being a hundred squares of the rational diameter of a figure the sideof which is five, subtracting one from each square or two perfect squares fromall, and adding a hundred cubes of three. This entire number is geometrical andcontains the rule or law of generation. When this law is neglected marriageswill be unpropitious; the inferior offspring who are then born will in timebecome the rulers; the State will decline, and education fall into decay;gymnastic will be preferred to music, and the gold and silver and brass andiron will form a chaotic mass—thus division will arise. Such is theMuses’ answer to our question. ‘And a true answer, ofcourse:—but what more have they to say?’ They say that the tworaces, the iron and brass, and the silver and gold, will draw the Statedifferent ways;—the one will take to trade and moneymaking, and theothers, having the true riches and not caring for money, will resist them: thecontest will end in a compromise; they will agree to have private property, andwill enslave their fellow-citizens who were once their friends and nurturers.But they will retain their warlike character, and will be chiefly occupied infighting and exercising rule. Thus arises timocracy, which is intermediatebetween aristocracy and oligarchy.

The new form of government resembles the ideal in obedience to rulers andcontempt for trade, and having common meals, and in devotion to warlike andgymnastic exercises. But corruption has crept into philosophy, and simplicityof character, which was once her note, is now looked for only in the militaryclass. Arts of war begin to prevail over arts of peace; the ruler is no longera philosopher; as in oligarchies, there springs up among them an extravagantlove of gain—get another man’s and save your own, is theirprinciple; and they have dark places in which they hoard their gold and silver,for the use of their women and others; they take their pleasures by stealth,like boys who are running away from their father—the law; and theireducation is not inspired by the Muse, but imposed by the strong arm of power.The leading characteristic of this State is party spirit and ambition.

And what manner of man answers to such a State? ‘In love ofcontention,’ replied Adeimantus, ‘he will be like our friendGlaucon.’ In that respect, perhaps, but not in others. He isself-asserting and ill-educated, yet fond of literature, although not himself aspeaker,—fierce with slaves, but obedient to rulers, a lover of power andhonour, which he hopes to gain by deeds of arms,—fond, too, of gymnasticsand of hunting. As he advances in years he grows avaricious, for he has lostphilosophy, which is the only saviour and guardian of men. His origin is asfollows:—His father is a good man dwelling in an ill-ordered State, whohas retired from politics in order that he may lead a quiet life. His mother isangry at her loss of precedence among other women; she is disgusted at herhusband’s selfishness, and she expatiates to her son on the unmanlinessand indolence of his father. The old family servant takes up the tale, and saysto the youth:—‘When you grow up you must be more of a man than yourfather.’ All the world are agreed that he who minds his own business isan idiot, while a busybody is highly honoured and esteemed. The young mancompares this spirit with his father’s words and ways, and as he isnaturally well disposed, although he has suffered from evil influences, herests at a middle point and becomes ambitious and a lover of honour.

And now let us set another city over against another man. The next form ofgovernment is oligarchy, in which the rule is of the rich only; nor is itdifficult to see how such a State arises. The decline begins with thepossession of gold and silver; illegal modes of expenditure are invented; onedraws another on, and the multitude are infected; riches outweigh virtue;lovers of money take the place of lovers of honour; misers of politicians; and,in time, political privileges are confined by law to the rich, who do notshrink from violence in order to effect their purposes.

Thus much of the origin,—let us next consider the evils of oligarchy.Would a man who wanted to be safe on a voyage take a bad pilot because he wasrich, or refuse a good one because he was poor? And does not the analogy applystill more to the State? And there are yet greater evils: two nations arestruggling together in one—the rich and the poor; and the rich dare notput arms into the hands of the poor, and are unwilling to pay for defenders outof their own money. And have we not already condemned that State in which thesame persons are warriors as well as shopkeepers? The greatest evil of all isthat a man may sell his property and have no place in the State; while there isone class which has enormous wealth, the other is entirely destitute. Butobserve that these destitutes had not really any more of the governing naturein them when they were rich than now that they are poor; they were miserablespendthrifts always. They are the drones of the hive; only whereas the actualdrone is unprovided by nature with a sting, the two-legged things whom we calldrones are some of them without stings and some of them have dreadful stings;in other words, there are paupers and there are rogues. These are never farapart; and in oligarchical cities, where nearly everybody is a pauper who isnot a ruler, you will find abundance of both. And this evil state of societyoriginates in bad education and bad government.

Like State, like man,—the change in the latter begins with therepresentative of timocracy; he walks at first in the ways of his father, whomay have been a statesman, or general, perhaps; and presently he sees him‘fallen from his high estate,’ the victim of informers, dying inprison or exile, or by the hand of the executioner. The lesson which he thusreceives, makes him cautious; he leaves politics, represses his pride, andsaves pence. Avarice is enthroned as his bosom’s lord, and assumes thestyle of the Great King; the rational and spirited elements sit humbly on theground at either side, the one immersed in calculation, the other absorbed inthe admiration of wealth. The love of honour turns to love of money; theconversion is instantaneous. The man is mean, saving, toiling, the slave of onepassion which is the master of the rest: Is he not the very image of the State?He has had no education, or he would never have allowed the blind god of richesto lead the dance within him. And being uneducated he will have many slavishdesires, some beggarly, some knavish, breeding in his soul. If he is thetrustee of an orphan, and has the power to defraud, he will soon prove that heis not without the will, and that his passions are only restrained by fear andnot by reason. Hence he leads a divided existence; in which the better desiresmostly prevail. But when he is contending for prizes and other distinctions, heis afraid to incur a loss which is to be repaid only by barren honour; in timeof war he fights with a small part of his resources, and usually keeps hismoney and loses the victory.

Next comes democracy and the democratic man, out of oligarchy and theoligarchical man. Insatiable avarice is the ruling passion of an oligarchy; andthey encourage expensive habits in order that they may gain by the ruin ofextravagant youth. Thus men of family often lose their property or rights ofcitizenship; but they remain in the city, full of hatred against the new ownersof their estates and ripe for revolution. The usurer with stooping walkpretends not to see them; he passes by, and leaves his sting—that is, hismoney—in some other victim; and many a man has to pay the parent orprincipal sum multiplied into a family of children, and is reduced into a stateof dronage by him. The only way of diminishing the evil is either to limit aman in his use of his property, or to insist that he shall lend at his ownrisk. But the ruling class do not want remedies; they care only for money, andare as careless of virtue as the poorest of the citizens. Now there areoccasions on which the governors and the governed meet together,—atfestivals, on a journey, voyaging or fighting. The sturdy pauper finds that inthe hour of danger he is not despised; he sees the rich man puffing andpanting, and draws the conclusion which he privately imparts to hiscompanions,—‘that our people are not good for much;’ and as asickly frame is made ill by a mere touch from without, or sometimes withoutexternal impulse is ready to fall to pieces of itself, so from the least cause,or with none at all, the city falls ill and fights a battle for life or death.And democracy comes into power when the poor are the victors, killing some andexiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.

The manner of life in such a State is that of democrats; there is freedom andplainness of speech, and every man does what is right in his own eyes, and hashis own way of life. Hence arise the most various developments of character;the State is like a piece of embroidery of which the colours and figures arethe manners of men, and there are many who, like women and children, preferthis variety to real beauty and excellence. The State is not one but many, likea bazaar at which you can buy anything. The great charm is, that you may do asyou like; you may govern if you like, let it alone if you like; go to war andmake peace if you feel disposed, and all quite irrespective of anybody else.When you condemn men to death they remain alive all the same; a gentleman isdesired to go into exile, and he stalks about the streets like a hero; andnobody sees him or cares for him. Observe, too, how grandly Democracy sets herfoot upon all our fine theories of education,—how little she cares forthe training of her statesmen! The only qualification which she demands is theprofession of patriotism. Such is democracy;—a pleasing, lawless, varioussort of government, distributing equality to equals and unequals alike.

Let us now inspect the individual democrat; and first, as in the case of theState, we will trace his antecedents. He is the son of a miserly oligarch, andhas been taught by him to restrain the love of unnecessary pleasures. Perhaps Iought to explain this latter term:—Necessary pleasures are those whichare good, and which we cannot do without; unnecessary pleasures are those whichdo no good, and of which the desire might be eradicated by early training. Forexample, the pleasures of eating and drinking are necessary and healthy, up toa certain point; beyond that point they are alike hurtful to body and mind, andthe excess may be avoided. When in excess, they may be rightly called expensivepleasures, in opposition to the useful ones. And the drone, as we called him,is the slave of these unnecessary pleasures and desires, whereas the miserlyoligarch is subject only to the necessary.

The oligarch changes into the democrat in the following manner:—The youthwho has had a miserly bringing up, gets a taste of the drone’s honey; hemeets with wild companions, who introduce him to every new pleasure. As in theState, so in the individual, there are allies on both sides, temptations fromwithout and passions from within; there is reason also and external influencesof parents and friends in alliance with the oligarchical principle; and the twofactions are in violent conflict with one another. Sometimes the party of orderprevails, but then again new desires and new disorders arise, and the whole mobof passions gets possession of the Acropolis, that is to say, the soul, whichthey find void and unguarded by true words and works. Falsehoods and illusionsascend to take their place; the prodigal goes back into the country of theLotophagi or drones, and openly dwells there. And if any offer of alliance orparley of individual elders comes from home, the false spirits shut the gatesof the castle and permit no one to enter,—there is a battle, and theygain the victory; and straightway making alliance with the desires, they banishmodesty, which they call folly, and send temperance over the border. When thehouse has been swept and garnished, they dress up the exiled vices, and,crowning them with garlands, bring them back under new names. Insolence theycall good breeding, anarchy freedom, waste magnificence, impudence courage.Such is the process by which the youth passes from the necessary pleasures tothe unnecessary. After a while he divides his time impartially between them;and perhaps, when he gets older and the violence of passion has abated, herestores some of the exiles and lives in a sort of equilibrium, indulging firstone pleasure and then another; and if reason comes and tells him that somepleasures are good and honourable, and others bad and vile, he shakes his headand says that he can make no distinction between them. Thus he lives in thefancy of the hour; sometimes he takes to drink, and then he turns abstainer; hepractises in the gymnasium or he does nothing at all; then again he would be aphilosopher or a politician; or again, he would be a warrior or a man ofbusiness; he is

‘Every thing by starts and nothing long.’

There remains still the finest and fairest of all men and allStates—tyranny and the tyrant. Tyranny springs from democracy much asdemocracy springs from oligarchy. Both arise from excess; the one from excessof wealth, the other from excess of freedom. ‘The great natural good oflife,’ says the democrat, ‘is freedom.’ And this exclusivelove of freedom and regardlessness of everything else, is the cause of thechange from democracy to tyranny. The State demands the strong wine of freedom,and unless her rulers give her a plentiful draught, punishes and insults them;equality and fraternity of governors and governed is the approved principle.Anarchy is the law, not of the State only, but of private houses, and extendseven to the animals. Father and son, citizen and foreigner, teacher and pupil,old and young, are all on a level; fathers and teachers fear their sons andpupils, and the wisdom of the young man is a match for the elder, and the oldimitate the jaunty manners of the young because they are afraid of beingthought morose. Slaves are on a level with their masters and mistresses, andthere is no difference between men and women. Nay, the very animals in ademocratic State have a freedom which is unknown in other places. The she-dogsare as good as their she-mistresses, and horses and asses march along withdignity and run their noses against anybody who comes in their way. ‘Thathas often been my experience.’ At last the citizens become so sensitivethat they cannot endure the yoke of laws, written or unwritten; they would haveno man call himself their master. Such is the glorious beginning of things outof which tyranny springs. ‘Glorious, indeed; but what is tofollow?’ The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; for there is alaw of contraries; the excess of freedom passes into the excess of slavery, andthe greater the freedom the greater the slavery. You will remember that in theoligarchy were found two classes—rogues and paupers, whom we compared todrones with and without stings. These two classes are to the State what phlegmand bile are to the human body; and the State-physician, or legislator, mustget rid of them, just as the bee-master keeps the drones out of the hive. Nowin a democracy, too, there are drones, but they are more numerous and moredangerous than in the oligarchy; there they are inert and unpractised, herethey are full of life and animation; and the keener sort speak and act, whilethe others buzz about the bema and prevent their opponents from being heard.And there is another class in democratic States, of respectable, thrivingindividuals, who can be squeezed when the drones have need of theirpossessions; there is moreover a third class, who are the labourers and theartisans, and they make up the mass of the people. When the people meet, theyare omnipotent, but they cannot be brought together unless they are attractedby a little honey; and the rich are made to supply the honey, of which thedemagogues keep the greater part themselves, giving a taste only to the mob.Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of thedrones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. Then followinformations and convictions for treason. The people have some protector whomthey nurse into greatness, and from this root the tree of tyranny springs. Thenature of the change is indicated in the old fable of the temple of ZeusLycaeus, which tells how he who tastes human flesh mixed up with the flesh ofother victims will turn into a wolf. Even so the protector, who tastes humanblood, and slays some and exiles others with or without law, who hints atabolition of debts and division of lands, must either perish or become awolf—that is, a tyrant. Perhaps he is driven out, but he soon comes backfrom exile; and then if his enemies cannot get rid of him by lawful means, theyplot his assassination. Thereupon the friend of the people makes his well-knownrequest to them for a body-guard, which they readily grant, thinking only ofhis danger and not of their own. Now let the rich man make to himself wings,for he will never run away again if he does not do so then. And the GreatProtector, having crushed all his rivals, stands proudly erect in the chariotof State, a full-blown tyrant: Let us enquire into the nature of his happiness.

In the early days of his tyranny he smiles and beams upon everybody; he is nota ‘dominus,’ no, not he: he has only come to put an end to debt andthe monopoly of land. Having got rid of foreign enemies, he makes himselfnecessary to the State by always going to war. He is thus enabled to depressthe poor by heavy taxes, and so keep them at work; and he can get rid of bolderspirits by handing them over to the enemy. Then comes unpopularity; some of hisold associates have the courage to oppose him. The consequence is, that he hasto make a purgation of the State; but, unlike the physician who purges away thebad, he must get rid of the high-spirited, the wise and the wealthy; for he hasno choice between death and a life of shame and dishonour. And the more hatedhe is, the more he will require trusty guards; but how will he obtain them?‘They will come flocking like birds—for pay.’ Will he notrather obtain them on the spot? He will take the slaves from their owners andmake them his body-guard; these are his trusted friends, who admire and look upto him. Are not the tragic poets wise who magnify and exalt the tyrant, and saythat he is wise by association with the wise? And are not their praises oftyranny alone a sufficient reason why we should exclude them from our State?They may go to other cities, and gather the mob about them with fine words, andchange commonwealths into tyrannies and democracies, receiving honours andrewards for their services; but the higher they and their friends ascendconstitution hill, the more their honour will fail and become ‘tooasthmatic to mount.’ To return to the tyrant—How will he supportthat rare army of his? First, by robbing the temples of their treasures, whichwill enable him to lighten the taxes; then he will take all his father’sproperty, and spend it on his companions, male or female. Now his father is thedemus, and if the demus gets angry, and says that a great hulking son ought notto be a burden on his parents, and bids him and his riotous crew begone, thenwill the parent know what a monster he has been nurturing, and that the sonwhom he would fain expel is too strong for him. ‘You do not mean to saythat he will beat his father?’ Yes, he will, after having taken away hisarms. ‘Then he is a parricide and a cruel, unnatural son.’ And thepeople have jumped from the fear of slavery into slavery, out of the smoke intothe fire. Thus liberty, when out of all order and reason, passes into the worstform of servitude...

In the previous books Plato has described the ideal State; now he returns tothe perverted or declining forms, on which he had lightly touched at the end ofBook IV. These he describes in a succession of parallels between theindividuals and the States, tracing the origin of either in the State orindividual which has preceded them. He begins by asking the point at which hedigressed; and is thus led shortly to recapitulate the substance of the threeformer books, which also contain a parallel of the philosopher and the State.

Of the first decline he gives no intelligible account; he would not have likedto admit the most probable causes of the fall of his ideal State, which to uswould appear to be the impracticability of communism or the natural antagonismof the ruling and subject classes. He throws a veil of mystery over the originof the decline, which he attributes to ignorance of the law of population. Ofthis law the famous geometrical figure or number is the expression. Like theancients in general, he had no idea of the gradual perfectibility of man or ofthe education of the human race. His ideal was not to be attained in the courseof ages, but was to spring in full armour from the head of the legislator. Whengood laws had been given, he thought only of the manner in which they werelikely to be corrupted, or of how they might be filled up in detail or restoredin accordance with their original spirit. He appears not to have reflected uponthe full meaning of his own words, ‘In the brief space of human life,nothing great can be accomplished’; or again, as he afterwards says inthe Laws, ‘Infinite time is the maker of cities.’ The order ofconstitutions which is adopted by him represents an order of thought ratherthan a succession of time, and may be considered as the first attempt to framea philosophy of history.

The first of these declining States is timocracy, or the government of soldiersand lovers of honour, which answers to the Spartan State; this is a governmentof force, in which education is not inspired by the Muses, but imposed by thelaw, and in which all the finer elements of organization have disappeared. Thephilosopher himself has lost the love of truth, and the soldier, who is of asimpler and honester nature, rules in his stead. The individual who answers totimocracy has some noticeable qualities. He is described as ill educated, but,like the Spartan, a lover of literature; and although he is a harsh master tohis servants he has no natural superiority over them. His character is basedupon a reaction against the circumstances of his father, who in a troubled cityhas retired from politics; and his mother, who is dissatisfied at her ownposition, is always urging him towards the life of political ambition. Such acharacter may have had this origin, and indeed Livy attributes the Licinianlaws to a feminine jealousy of a similar kind. But there is obviously noconnection between the manner in which the timocratic State springs out of theideal, and the mere accident by which the timocratic man is the son of aretired statesman.

The two next stages in the decline of constitutions have even less historicalfoundation. For there is no trace in Greek history of a polity like the Spartanor Cretan passing into an oligarchy of wealth, or of the oligarchy of wealthpassing into a democracy. The order of history appears to be different; first,in the Homeric times there is the royal or patriarchal form of government,which a century or two later was succeeded by an oligarchy of birth rather thanof wealth, and in which wealth was only the accident of the hereditarypossession of land and power. Sometimes this oligarchical government gave wayto a government based upon a qualification of property, which, according toAristotle’s mode of using words, would have been called a timocracy; andthis in some cities, as at Athens, became the conducting medium to democracy.But such was not the necessary order of succession in States; nor, indeed, canany order be discerned in the endless fluctuation of Greek history (like thetides in the Euripus), except, perhaps, in the almost uniform tendency frommonarchy to aristocracy in the earliest times. At first sight there appears tobe a similar inversion in the last step of the Platonic succession; fortyranny, instead of being the natural end of democracy, in early Greek historyappears rather as a stage leading to democracy; the reign of Peisistratus andhis sons is an episode which comes between the legislation of Solon and theconstitution of Cleisthenes; and some secret cause common to them all seems tohave led the greater part of Hellas at her first appearance in the dawn ofhistory, e.g. Athens, Argos, Corinth, Sicyon, and nearly every State with theexception of Sparta, through a similar stage of tyranny which ended either inoligarchy or democracy. But then we must remember that Plato is describingrather the contemporary governments of the Sicilian States, which alternatedbetween democracy and tyranny, than the ancient history of Athens or Corinth.

The portrait of the tyrant himself is just such as the later Greek delighted todraw of Phalaris and Dionysius, in which, as in the lives of mediaeval saintsor mythic heroes, the conduct and actions of one were attributed to another inorder to fill up the outline. There was no enormity which the Greek was nottoday to believe of them; the tyrant was the negation of government and law;his assassination was glorious; there was no crime, however unnatural, whichmight not with probability be attributed to him. In this, Plato was onlyfollowing the common thought of his countrymen, which he embellished andexaggerated with all the power of his genius. There is no need to suppose thathe drew from life; or that his knowledge of tyrants is derived from a personalacquaintance with Dionysius. The manner in which he speaks of them would rathertend to render doubtful his ever having ‘consorted’ with them, orentertained the schemes, which are attributed to him in the Epistles, ofregenerating Sicily by their help.

Plato in a hyperbolical and serio-comic vein exaggerates the follies ofdemocracy which he also sees reflected in social life. To him democracy is astate of individualism or dissolution; in which every one is doing what isright in his own eyes. Of a people animated by a common spirit of liberty,rising as one man to repel the Persian host, which is the leading idea ofdemocracy in Herodotus and Thucydides, he never seems to think. But if he isnot a believer in liberty, still less is he a lover of tyranny. His deeper andmore serious condemnation is reserved for the tyrant, who is the ideal ofwickedness and also of weakness, and who in his utter helplessness andsuspiciousness is leading an almost impossible existence, without that remnantof good which, in Plato’s opinion, was required to give power to evil(Book I). This ideal of wickedness living in helpless misery, is the reverse ofthat other portrait of perfect injustice ruling in happiness and splendour,which first of all Thrasymachus, and afterwards the sons of Ariston had drawn,and is also the reverse of the king whose rule of life is the good of hissubjects.

Each of these governments and individuals has a corresponding ethicalgradation: the ideal State is under the rule of reason, not extinguishing butharmonizing the passions, and training them in virtue; in the timocracy and thetimocratic man the constitution, whether of the State or of the individual, isbased, first, upon courage, and secondly, upon the love of honour; this lattervirtue, which is hardly to be esteemed a virtue, has superseded all the rest.In the second stage of decline the virtues have altogether disappeared, and thelove of gain has succeeded to them; in the third stage, or democracy, thevarious passions are allowed to have free play, and the virtues and vices areimpartially cultivated. But this freedom, which leads to many curiousextravagances of character, is in reality only a state of weakness anddissipation. At last, one monster passion takes possession of the whole natureof man—this is tyranny. In all of them excess—the excess first ofwealth and then of freedom, is the element of decay.

The eighth book of the Republic abounds in pictures of life and fancifulallusions; the use of metaphorical language is carried to a greater extent thananywhere else in Plato. We may remark,

(1), the description of the two nations in one, which become more and moredivided in the Greek Republics, as in feudal times, and perhaps also in ourown;

(2), the notion of democracy expressed in a sort of Pythagorean formula asequality among unequals;

(3), the free and easy ways of men and animals, which are characteristic ofliberty, as foreign mercenaries and universal mistrust are of the tyrant;

(4), the proposal that mere debts should not be recoverable by law is aspeculation which has often been entertained by reformers of the law in moderntimes, and is in harmony with the tendencies of modern legislation. Debt andland were the two great difficulties of the ancient lawgiver: in modern timeswe may be said to have almost, if not quite, solved the first of thesedifficulties, but hardly the second.

Still more remarkable are the corresponding portraits of individuals: there isthe family picture of the father and mother and the old servant of thetimocratical man, and the outward respectability and inherent meanness of theoligarchical; the uncontrolled licence and freedom of the democrat, in whichthe young Alcibiades seems to be depicted, doing right or wrong as he pleases,and who at last, like the prodigal, goes into a far country (note here the playof language by which the democratic man is himself represented under the imageof a State having a citadel and receiving embassies); and there is thewild-beast nature, which breaks loose in his successor. The hit about thetyrant being a parricide; the representation of the tyrant’s life as anobscene dream; the rhetorical surprise of a more miserable than the mostmiserable of men in Book IX; the hint to the poets that if they are the friendsof tyrants there is no place for them in a constitutional State, and that theyare too clever not to see the propriety of their own expulsion; the continuousimage of the drones who are of two kinds, swelling at last into the monsterdrone having wings (Book IX),—are among Plato’s happiest touches.

There remains to be considered the great difficulty of this book of theRepublic, the so-called number of the State. This is a puzzle almost as greatas the Number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation, and though apparentlyknown to Aristotle, is referred to by Cicero as a proverb of obscurity (Ep. adAtt.). And some have imagined that there is no answer to the puzzle, and thatPlato has been practising upon his readers. But such a deception as this isinconsistent with the manner in which Aristotle speaks of the number (Pol.),and would have been ridiculous to any reader of the Republic who was acquaintedwith Greek mathematics. As little reason is there for supposing that Platointentionally used obscure expressions; the obscurity arises from our want offamiliarity with the subject. On the other hand, Plato himself indicates thathe is not altogether serious, and in describing his number as a solemn jest ofthe Muses, he appears to imply some degree of satire on the symbolical use ofnumber. (Compare Cratylus; Protag.)

Our hope of understanding the passage depends principally on an accurate studyof the words themselves; on which a faint light is thrown by the parallelpassage in the ninth book. Another help is the allusion in Aristotle, who makesthe important remark that the latter part of the passage (Greek) describes asolid figure. (Pol.—‘He only says that nothing is abiding, but thatall things change in a certain cycle; and that the origin of the change is abase of numbers which are in the ratio of 4:3; and this when combined with afigure of five gives two harmonies; he means when the number of this figurebecomes solid.’) Some further clue may be gathered from the appearance ofthe Pythagorean triangle, which is denoted by the numbers 3, 4, 5, and inwhich, as in every right-angled triangle, the squares of the two lesser sidesequal the square of the hypotenuse (9 + 16 = 25).

Plato begins by speaking of a perfect or cyclical number (Tim.), i.e. a numberin which the sum of the divisors equals the whole; this is the divine orperfect number in which all lesser cycles or revolutions are complete. He alsospeaks of a human or imperfect number, having four terms and three intervals ofnumbers which are related to one another in certain proportions; these heconverts into figures, and finds in them when they have been raised to thethird power certain elements of number, which give two ‘harmonies,’the one square, the other oblong; but he does not say that the square numberanswers to the divine, or the oblong number to the human cycle; nor is anyintimation given that the first or divine number represents the period of theworld, the second the period of the state, or of the human race as Zellersupposes; nor is the divine number afterwards mentioned (Arist.). The second isthe number of generations or births, and presides over them in the samemysterious manner in which the stars preside over them, or in which, accordingto the Pythagoreans, opportunity, justice, marriage, are represented by somenumber or figure. This is probably the number 216.

The explanation given in the text supposes the two harmonies to make up thenumber 8000. This explanation derives a certain plausibility from thecircumstance that 8000 is the ancient number of the Spartan citizens (Herod.),and would be what Plato might have called ‘a number which nearly concernsthe population of a city’; the mysterious disappearance of the Spartanpopulation may possibly have suggested to him the first cause of his decline ofStates. The lesser or square ‘harmony,’ of 400, might be a symbolof the guardians,—the larger or oblong ‘harmony,’ of thepeople, and the numbers 3, 4, 5 might refer respectively to the three orders inthe State or parts of the soul, the four virtues, the five forms of government.The harmony of the musical scale, which is elsewhere used as a symbol of theharmony of the state, is also indicated. For the numbers 3, 4, 5, whichrepresent the sides of the Pythagorean triangle, also denote the intervals ofthe scale.

The terms used in the statement of the problem may be explained as follows. Aperfect number (Greek), as already stated, is one which is equal to the sum ofits divisors. Thus 6, which is the first perfect or cyclical number, = 1 + 2 +3. The words (Greek), ‘terms’ or ‘notes,’ and (Greek),‘intervals,’ are applicable to music as well as to number andfigure. (Greek) is the ‘base’ on which the whole calculationdepends, or the ‘lowest term’ from which it can be worked out. Thewords (Greek) have been variously translated—‘squared andcubed’ (Donaldson), ‘equalling and equalled in power’(Weber), ‘by involution and evolution,’ i.e. by raising the powerand extracting the root (as in the translation). Numbers are called ‘likeand unlike’ (Greek) when the factors or the sides of the planes and cubeswhich they represent are or are not in the same ratio: e.g. 8 and 27 = 2 cubedand 3 cubed; and conversely. ‘Waxing’ (Greek) numbers, called also‘increasing’ (Greek), are those which are exceeded by the sum oftheir divisors: e.g. 12 and 18 are less than 16 and 21. ‘Waning’(Greek) numbers, called also ‘decreasing’ (Greek) are those whichsucceed the sum of their divisors: e.g. 8 and 27 exceed 7 and 13. The wordstranslated ‘commensurable and agreeable to one another’ (Greek)seem to be different ways of describing the same relation, with more or lessprecision. They are equivalent to ‘expressible in terms having the samerelation to one another,’ like the series 8, 12, 18, 27, each of whichnumbers is in the relation of (1 and 1/2) to the preceding. The‘base,’ or ‘fundamental number, which has 1/3 added toit’ (1 and 1/3) = 4/3 or a musical fourth. (Greek) is a‘proportion’ of numbers as of musical notes, applied either to theparts or factors of a single number or to the relation of one number toanother. The first harmony is a ‘square’ number (Greek); the secondharmony is an ‘oblong’ number (Greek), i.e. a number representing afigure of which the opposite sides only are equal. (Greek) = ‘numberssquared from’ or ‘upon diameters’; (Greek) =‘rational,’ i.e. omitting fractions, (Greek),‘irrational,’ i.e. including fractions; e.g. 49 is a square of therational diameter of a figure the side of which = 5: 50, of an irrationaldiameter of the same. For several of the explanations here given and for a gooddeal besides I am indebted to an excellent article on the Platonic Number byDr. Donaldson (Proc. of the Philol. Society).

The conclusions which he draws from these data are summed up by him as follows.Having assumed that the number of the perfect or divine cycle is the number ofthe world, and the number of the imperfect cycle the number of the state, heproceeds: ‘The period of the world is defined by the perfect number 6,that of the state by the cube of that number or 216, which is the product ofthe last pair of terms in the Platonic Tetractys (a series of seven terms, 1,2, 3, 4, 9, 8, 27); and if we take this as the basis of our computation, weshall have two cube numbers (Greek), viz. 8 and 27; and the mean proportionalsbetween these, viz. 12 and 18, will furnish three intervals and four terms, andthese terms and intervals stand related to one another in the sesqui-alteraratio, i.e. each term is to the preceding as 3/2. Now if we remember that thenumber 216 = 8 x 27 = 3 cubed + 4 cubed + 5 cubed, and 3 squared + 4 squared =5 squared, we must admit that this number implies the numbers 3, 4, 5, to whichmusicians attach so much importance. And if we combine the ratio 4/3 with thenumber 5, or multiply the ratios of the sides by the hypotenuse, we shall byfirst squaring and then cubing obtain two expressions, which denote the ratioof the two last pairs of terms in the Platonic Tetractys, the former multipliedby the square, the latter by the cube of the number 10, the sum of the firstfour digits which constitute the Platonic Tetractys.’ The two (Greek) heelsewhere explains as follows: ‘The first (Greek) is (Greek), in otherwords (4/3 x 5) all squared = 100 x 2 squared over 3 squared. The second(Greek), a cube of the same root, is described as 100 multiplied (alpha) by therational diameter of 5 diminished by unity, i.e., as shown above, 48: (beta) bytwo incommensurable diameters, i.e. the two first irrationals, or 2 and 3: and(gamma) by the cube of 3, or 27. Thus we have (48 + 5 + 27) 100 = 1000 x 2cubed. This second harmony is to be the cube of the number of which the formerharmony is the square, and therefore must be divided by the cube of 3. In otherwords, the whole expression will be: (1), for the first harmony, 400/9: (2),for the second harmony, 8000/27.’

The reasons which have inclined me to agree with Dr. Donaldson and also withSchleiermacher in supposing that 216 is the Platonic number of births are: (1)that it coincides with the description of the number given in the first part ofthe passage (Greek...): (2) that the number 216 with its permutations wouldhave been familiar to a Greek mathematician, though unfamiliar to us: (3) that216 is the cube of 6, and also the sum of 3 cubed, 4 cubed, 5 cubed, thenumbers 3, 4, 5 representing the Pythagorean triangle, of which the sides whensquared equal the square of the hypotenuse (9 + 16 = 25): (4) that it is alsothe period of the Pythagorean Metempsychosis: (5) the three ultimate terms orbases (3, 4, 5) of which 216 is composed answer to the third, fourth, fifth inthe musical scale: (6) that the number 216 is the product of the cubes of 2 and3, which are the two last terms in the Platonic Tetractys: (7) that thePythagorean triangle is said by Plutarch (de Is. et Osir.), Proclus (superprima Eucl.), and Quintilian (de Musica) to be contained in this passage, sothat the tradition of the school seems to point in the same direction: (8) thatthe Pythagorean triangle is called also the figure of marriage (Greek).

But though agreeing with Dr. Donaldson thus far, I see no reason for supposing,as he does, that the first or perfect number is the world, the human orimperfect number the state; nor has he given any proof that the second harmonyis a cube. Nor do I think that (Greek) can mean ‘twoincommensurables,’ which he arbitrarily assumes to be 2 and 3, butrather, as the preceding clause implies, (Greek), i.e. two square numbers basedupon irrational diameters of a figure the side of which is 5 = 50 x 2.

The greatest objection to the translation is the sense given to the words(Greek), ‘a base of three with a third added to it, multiplied by5.’ In this somewhat forced manner Plato introduces once more the numbersof the Pythagorean triangle. But the coincidences in the numbers which followare in favour of the explanation. The first harmony of 400, as has been alreadyremarked, probably represents the rulers; the second and oblong harmony of7600, the people.

And here we take leave of the difficulty. The discovery of the riddle would beuseless, and would throw no light on ancient mathematics. The point of interestis that Plato should have used such a symbol, and that so much of thePythagorean spirit should have prevailed in him. His general meaning is thatdivine creation is perfect, and is represented or presided over by a perfect orcyclical number; human generation is imperfect, and represented or presidedover by an imperfect number or series of numbers. The number 5040, which is thenumber of the citizens in the Laws, is expressly based by him on utilitariangrounds, namely, the convenience of the number for division; it is also made upof the first seven digits multiplied by one another. The contrast of theperfect and imperfect number may have been easily suggested by the correctionsof the cycle, which were made first by Meton and secondly by Callippus; (thelatter is said to have been a pupil of Plato). Of the degree of importance orof exactness to be attributed to the problem, the number of the tyrant in BookIX (729 = 365 x 2), and the slight correction of the error in the number5040/12 (Laws), may furnish a criterion. There is nothing surprising in thecircumstance that those who were seeking for order in nature and had foundorder in number, should have imagined one to give law to the other. Platobelieves in a power of number far beyond what he could see realized in theworld around him, and he knows the great influence which ‘the littlematter of 1, 2, 3’ exercises upon education. He may even be thought tohave a prophetic anticipation of the discoveries of Quetelet and others, thatnumbers depend upon numbers; e.g.—in population, the numbers of birthsand the respective numbers of children born of either sex, on the respectiveages of parents, i.e. on other numbers.

BOOK IX. Last of all comes the tyrannical man, about whom we have to enquire,Whence is he, and how does he live—in happiness or in misery? There is,however, a previous question of the nature and number of the appetites, which Ishould like to consider first. Some of them are unlawful, and yet admit ofbeing chastened and weakened in various degrees by the power of reason and law.‘What appetites do you mean?’ I mean those which are awake when thereasoning powers are asleep, which get up and walk about naked without anyself-respect or shame; and there is no conceivable folly or crime, howevercruel or unnatural, of which, in imagination, they may not be guilty.‘True,’ he said; ‘very true.’ But when a man’spulse beats temperately; and he has supped on a feast of reason and come to aknowledge of himself before going to rest, and has satisfied his desires justenough to prevent their perturbing his reason, which remains clear andluminous, and when he is free from quarrel and heat,—the visions which hehas on his bed are least irregular and abnormal. Even in good men there is suchan irregular wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.

To return:—You remember what was said of the democrat; that he was theson of a miserly father, who encouraged the saving desires and repressed theornamental and expensive ones; presently the youth got into fine company, andbegan to entertain a dislike to his father’s narrow ways; and being abetter man than the corrupters of his youth, he came to a mean, and led a life,not of lawless or slavish passion, but of regular and successive indulgence.Now imagine that the youth has become a father, and has a son who is exposed tothe same temptations, and has companions who lead him into every sort ofiniquity, and parents and friends who try to keep him right. The counsellors ofevil find that their only chance of retaining him is to implant in his soul amonster drone, or love; while other desires buzz around him and mystify himwith sweet sounds and scents, this monster love takes possession of him, andputs an end to every true or modest thought or wish. Love, like drunkenness andmadness, is a tyranny; and the tyrannical man, whether made by nature or habit,is just a drinking, lusting, furious sort of animal.

And how does such an one live? ‘Nay, that you must tell me.’ Wellthen, I fancy that he will live amid revelries and harlotries, and love will bethe lord and master of the house. Many desires require much money, and so hespends all that he has and borrows more; and when he has nothing the youngravens are still in the nest in which they were hatched, crying for food. Loveurges them on; and they must be gratified by force or fraud, or if not, theybecome painful and troublesome; and as the new pleasures succeed the old ones,so will the son take possession of the goods of his parents; if they show signsof refusing, he will defraud and deceive them; and if they openly resist, whatthen? ‘I can only say, that I should not much like to be in theirplace.’ But, O heavens, Adeimantus, to think that for some new-fangledand unnecessary love he will give up his old father and mother, best anddearest of friends, or enslave them to the fancies of the hour! Truly atyrannical son is a blessing to his father and mother! When there is no more tobe got out of them, he turns burglar or pickpocket, or robs a temple. Loveovermasters the thoughts of his youth, and he becomes in sober reality themonster that he was sometimes in sleep. He waxes strong in all violence andlawlessness; and is ready for any deed of daring that will supply the wants ofhis rabble-rout. In a well-ordered State there are only a few such, and thesein time of war go out and become the mercenaries of a tyrant. But in time ofpeace they stay at home and do mischief; they are the thieves, footpads,cut-purses, man-stealers of the community; or if they are able to speak, theyturn false-witnesses and informers. ‘No small catalogue of crimes truly,even if the perpetrators are few.’ Yes, I said; but small and great arerelative terms, and no crimes which are committed by them approach those of thetyrant, whom this class, growing strong and numerous, create out of themselves.If the people yield, well and good, but, if they resist, then, as before hebeat his father and mother, so now he beats his fatherland and motherland, andplaces his mercenaries over them. Such men in their early days live withflatterers, and they themselves flatter others, in order to gain their ends;but they soon discard their followers when they have no longer any need ofthem; they are always either masters or servants,—the joys of friendshipare unknown to them. And they are utterly treacherous and unjust, if the natureof justice be at all understood by us. They realize our dream; and he who isthe most of a tyrant by nature, and leads the life of a tyrant for the longesttime, will be the worst of them, and being the worst of them, will also be themost miserable.

Like man, like State,—the tyrannical man will answer to tyranny, which isthe extreme opposite of the royal State; for one is the best and the other theworst. But which is the happier? Great and terrible as the tyrant may appearenthroned amid his satellites, let us not be afraid to go in and ask; and theanswer is, that the monarchical is the happiest, and the tyrannical the mostmiserable of States. And may we not ask the same question about the menthemselves, requesting some one to look into them who is able to penetrate theinner nature of man, and will not be panic-struck by the vain pomp of tyranny?I will suppose that he is one who has lived with him, and has seen him infamily life, or perhaps in the hour of trouble and danger.

Assuming that we ourselves are the impartial judge for whom we seek, let usbegin by comparing the individual and State, and ask first of all, whether theState is likely to be free or enslaved—Will there not be a little freedomand a great deal of slavery? And the freedom is of the bad, and the slavery ofthe good; and this applies to the man as well as to the State; for his soul isfull of meanness and slavery, and the better part is enslaved to the worse. Hecannot do what he would, and his mind is full of confusion; he is the veryreverse of a freeman. The State will be poor and full of misery and sorrow; andthe man’s soul will also be poor and full of sorrows, and he will be themost miserable of men. No, not the most miserable, for there is yet a moremiserable. ‘Who is that?’ The tyrannical man who has the misfortunealso to become a public tyrant. ‘There I suspect that you areright.’ Say rather, ‘I am sure;’ conjecture is out of placein an enquiry of this nature. He is like a wealthy owner of slaves, only he hasmore of them than any private individual. You will say, ‘The owners ofslaves are not generally in any fear of them.’ But why? Because the wholecity is in a league which protects the individual. Suppose however that one ofthese owners and his household is carried off by a god into a wilderness, wherethere are no freemen to help him—will he not be in an agony ofterror?—will he not be compelled to flatter his slaves and to promisethem many things sore against his will? And suppose the same god who carriedhim off were to surround him with neighbours who declare that no man ought tohave slaves, and that the owners of them should be punished with death.‘Still worse and worse! He will be in the midst of his enemies.’And is not our tyrant such a captive soul, who is tormented by a swarm ofpassions which he cannot indulge; living indoors always like a woman, andjealous of those who can go out and see the world?

Having so many evils, will not the most miserable of men be still moremiserable in a public station? Master of others when he is not master ofhimself; like a sick man who is compelled to be an athlete; the meanest ofslaves and the most abject of flatterers; wanting all things, and never able tosatisfy his desires; always in fear and distraction, like the State of which heis the representative. His jealous, hateful, faithless temper grows worse withcommand; he is more and more faithless, envious, unrighteous,—the mostwretched of men, a misery to himself and to others. And so let us have a finaltrial and proclamation; need we hire a herald, or shall I proclaim the result?‘Made the proclamation yourself.’ The son of Ariston (the best) isof opinion that the best and justest of men is also the happiest, and that thisis he who is the most royal master of himself; and that the unjust man is hewho is the greatest tyrant of himself and of his State. And I addfurther—‘seen or unseen by gods or men.’

This is our first proof. The second is derived from the three kinds ofpleasure, which answer to the three elements of the soul—reason, passion,desire; under which last is comprehended avarice as well as sensual appetite,while passion includes ambition, party-feeling, love of reputation. Reason,again, is solely directed to the attainment of truth, and careless of money andreputation. In accordance with the difference of men’s natures, one ofthese three principles is in the ascendant, and they have their severalpleasures corresponding to them. Interrogate now the three natures, and eachone will be found praising his own pleasures and depreciating those of others.The money-maker will contrast the vanity of knowledge with the solid advantagesof wealth. The ambitious man will despise knowledge which brings no honour;whereas the philosopher will regard only the fruition of truth, and will callother pleasures necessary rather than good. Now, how shall we decide betweenthem? Is there any better criterion than experience and knowledge? And which ofthe three has the truest knowledge and the widest experience? The experience ofyouth makes the philosopher acquainted with the two kinds of desire, but theavaricious and the ambitious man never taste the pleasures of truth and wisdom.Honour he has equally with them; they are ‘judged of him,’ but heis ‘not judged of them,’ for they never attain to the knowledge oftrue being. And his instrument is reason, whereas their standard is only wealthand honour; and if by reason we are to judge, his good will be the truest. Andso we arrive at the result that the pleasure of the rational part of the soul,and a life passed in such pleasure is the pleasantest. He who has a right tojudge judges thus. Next comes the life of ambition, and, in the third place,that of money-making.

Twice has the just man overthrown the unjust—once more, as in an Olympiancontest, first offering up a prayer to the saviour Zeus, let him try a fall. Awise man whispers to me that the pleasures of the wise are true and pure; allothers are a shadow only. Let us examine this: Is not pleasure opposed to pain,and is there not a mean state which is neither? When a man is sick, nothing ismore pleasant to him than health. But this he never found out while he waswell. In pain he desires only to cease from pain; on the other hand, when he isin an ecstasy of pleasure, rest is painful to him. Thus rest or cessation isboth pleasure and pain. But can that which is neither become both? Again,pleasure and pain are motions, and the absence of them is rest; but if so, howcan the absence of either of them be the other? Thus we are led to infer thatthe contradiction is an appearance only, and witchery of the senses. And theseare not the only pleasures, for there are others which have no preceding pains.Pure pleasure then is not the absence of pain, nor pure pain the absence ofpleasure; although most of the pleasures which reach the mind through the bodyare reliefs of pain, and have not only their reactions when they depart, buttheir anticipations before they come. They can be best described in a simile.There is in nature an upper, lower, and middle region, and he who passes fromthe lower to the middle imagines that he is going up and is already in theupper world; and if he were taken back again would think, and truly think, thathe was descending. All this arises out of his ignorance of the true upper,middle, and lower regions. And a like confusion happens with pleasure and pain,and with many other things. The man who compares grey with black, calls greywhite; and the man who compares absence of pain with pain, calls the absence ofpain pleasure. Again, hunger and thirst are inanitions of the body, ignoranceand folly of the soul; and food is the satisfaction of the one, knowledge ofthe other. Now which is the purer satisfaction—that of eating anddrinking, or that of knowledge? Consider the matter thus: The satisfaction ofthat which has more existence is truer than of that which has less. Theinvariable and immortal has a more real existence than the variable and mortal,and has a corresponding measure of knowledge and truth. The soul, again, hasmore existence and truth and knowledge than the body, and is therefore morereally satisfied and has a more natural pleasure. Those who feast only onearthly food, are always going at random up to the middle and down again; butthey never pass into the true upper world, or have a taste of true pleasure.They are like fatted beasts, full of gluttony and sensuality, and ready to killone another by reason of their insatiable lust; for they are not filled withtrue being, and their vessel is leaky (Gorgias). Their pleasures are mereshadows of pleasure, mixed with pain, coloured and intensified by contrast, andtherefore intensely desired; and men go fighting about them, as Stesichorussays that the Greeks fought about the shadow of Helen at Troy, because theyknow not the truth.

The same may be said of the passionate element:—the desires of theambitious soul, as well as of the covetous, have an inferior satisfaction. Onlywhen under the guidance of reason do either of the other principles do theirown business or attain the pleasure which is natural to them. When notattaining, they compel the other parts of the soul to pursue a shadow ofpleasure which is not theirs. And the more distant they are from philosophy andreason, the more distant they will be from law and order, and the more illusivewill be their pleasures. The desires of love and tyranny are the farthest fromlaw, and those of the king are nearest to it. There is one genuine pleasure,and two spurious ones: the tyrant goes beyond even the latter; he has run awayaltogether from law and reason. Nor can the measure of his inferiority be told,except in a figure. The tyrant is the third removed from the oligarch, and hastherefore, not a shadow of his pleasure, but the shadow of a shadow only. Theoligarch, again, is thrice removed from the king, and thus we get the formula 3x 3, which is the number of a surface, representing the shadow which is thetyrant’s pleasure, and if you like to cube this ‘number of thebeast,’ you will find that the measure of the difference amounts to 729;the king is 729 times more happy than the tyrant. And this extraordinary numberis NEARLY equal to the number of days and nights in a year (365 x 2 = 730); andis therefore concerned with human life. This is the interval between a good andbad man in happiness only: what must be the difference between them incomeliness of life and virtue!

Perhaps you may remember some one saying at the beginning of our discussionthat the unjust man was profited if he had the reputation of justice. Now thatwe know the nature of justice and injustice, let us make an image of the soul,which will personify his words. First of all, fashion a multitudinous beast,having a ring of heads of all manner of animals, tame and wild, and able toproduce and change them at pleasure. Suppose now another form of a lion, andanother of a man; the second smaller than the first, the third than the second;join them together and cover them with a human skin, in which they arecompletely concealed. When this has been done, let us tell the supporter ofinjustice that he is feeding up the beasts and starving the man. The maintainerof justice, on the other hand, is trying to strengthen the man; he isnourishing the gentle principle within him, and making an alliance with thelion heart, in order that he may be able to keep down the many-headed hydra,and bring all into unity with each other and with themselves. Thus in everypoint of view, whether in relation to pleasure, honour, or advantage, the justman is right, and the unjust wrong.

But now, let us reason with the unjust, who is not intentionally in error. Isnot the noble that which subjects the beast to the man, or rather to the God inman; the ignoble, that which subjects the man to the beast? And if so, whowould receive gold on condition that he was to degrade the noblest part ofhimself under the worst?—who would sell his son or daughter into thehands of brutal and evil men, for any amount of money? And will he sell his ownfairer and diviner part without any compunction to the most godless and foul?Would he not be worse than Eriphyle, who sold her husband’s life for anecklace? And intemperance is the letting loose of the multiform monster, andpride and sullenness are the growth and increase of the lion and serpentelement, while luxury and effeminacy are caused by a too great relaxation ofspirit. Flattery and meanness again arise when the spirited element issubjected to avarice, and the lion is habituated to become a monkey. The realdisgrace of handicraft arts is, that those who are engaged in them have toflatter, instead of mastering their desires; therefore we say that they shouldbe placed under the control of the better principle in another because theyhave none in themselves; not, as Thrasymachus imagined, to the injury of thesubjects, but for their good. And our intention in educating the young, is togive them self-control; the law desires to nurse up in them a higher principle,and when they have acquired this, they may go their ways.

‘What, then, shall a man profit, if he gain the whole world’ andbecome more and more wicked? Or what shall he profit by escaping discovery, ifthe concealment of evil prevents the cure? If he had been punished, the brutewithin him would have been silenced, and the gentler element liberated; and hewould have united temperance, justice, and wisdom in his soul—a unionbetter far than any combination of bodily gifts. The man of understanding willhonour knowledge above all; in the next place he will keep under his body, notonly for the sake of health and strength, but in order to attain the mostperfect harmony of body and soul. In the acquisition of riches, too, he willaim at order and harmony; he will not desire to heap up wealth without measure,but he will fear that the increase of wealth will disturb the constitution ofhis own soul. For the same reason he will only accept such honours as will makehim a better man; any others he will decline. ‘In that case,’ saidhe, ‘he will never be a politician.’ Yes, but he will, in his owncity; though probably not in his native country, unless by some divineaccident. ‘You mean that he will be a citizen of the ideal city, whichhas no place upon earth.’ But in heaven, I replied, there is a pattern ofsuch a city, and he who wishes may order his life after that image. Whethersuch a state is or ever will be matters not; he will act according to thatpattern and no other...

The most noticeable points in the 9th Book of the Republic are:—(1) theaccount of pleasure; (2) the number of the interval which divides the king fromthe tyrant; (3) the pattern which is in heaven.

1. Plato’s account of pleasure is remarkable for moderation, and in thisrespect contrasts with the later Platonists and the views which are attributedto them by Aristotle. He is not, like the Cynics, opposed to all pleasure, butrather desires that the several parts of the soul shall have their naturalsatisfaction; he even agrees with the Epicureans in describing pleasure assomething more than the absence of pain. This is proved by the circumstancethat there are pleasures which have no antecedent pains (as he also remarks inthe Philebus), such as the pleasures of smell, and also the pleasures of hopeand anticipation. In the previous book he had made the distinction betweennecessary and unnecessary pleasure, which is repeated by Aristotle, and he nowobserves that there are a further class of ‘wild beast’ pleasures,corresponding to Aristotle’s (Greek). He dwells upon the relative andunreal character of sensual pleasures and the illusion which arises out of thecontrast of pleasure and pain, pointing out the superiority of the pleasures ofreason, which are at rest, over the fleeting pleasures of sense and emotion.The pre-eminence of royal pleasure is shown by the fact that reason is able toform a judgment of the lower pleasures, while the two lower parts of the soulare incapable of judging the pleasures of reason. Thus, in his treatment ofpleasure, as in many other subjects, the philosophy of Plato is ‘sawn upinto quantities’ by Aristotle; the analysis which was originally made byhim became in the next generation the foundation of further technicaldistinctions. Both in Plato and Aristotle we note the illusion under which theancients fell of regarding the transience of pleasure as a proof of itsunreality, and of confounding the permanence of the intellectual pleasures withthe unchangeableness of the knowledge from which they are derived. Neither dowe like to admit that the pleasures of knowledge, though more elevating, arenot more lasting than other pleasures, and are almost equally dependent on theaccidents of our bodily state (Introduction to Philebus).

2. The number of the interval which separates the king from the tyrant, androyal from tyrannical pleasures, is 729, the cube of 9. Which Platocharacteristically designates as a number concerned with human life, becauseNEARLY equivalent to the number of days and nights in the year. He is desirousof proclaiming that the interval between them is immeasurable, and invents aformula to give expression to his idea. Those who spoke of justice as a cube,of virtue as an art of measuring (Prot.), saw no inappropriateness inconceiving the soul under the figure of a line, or the pleasure of the tyrantas separated from the pleasure of the king by the numerical interval of 729.And in modern times we sometimes use metaphorically what Plato employed as aphilosophical formula. ‘It is not easy to estimate the loss of thetyrant, except perhaps in this way,’ says Plato. So we might say, thatalthough the life of a good man is not to be compared to that of a bad man, yetyou may measure the difference between them by valuing one minute of the one atan hour of the other (‘One day in thy courts is better than athousand’), or you might say that ‘there is an infinitedifference.’ But this is not so much as saying, in homely phrase,‘They are a thousand miles asunder.’ And accordingly Plato findsthe natural vehicle of his thoughts in a progression of numbers; thisarithmetical formula he draws out with the utmost seriousness, and both hereand in the number of generation seems to find an additional proof of the truthof his speculation in forming the number into a geometrical figure; just aspersons in our own day are apt to fancy that a statement is verified when ithas been only thrown into an abstract form. In speaking of the number 729 asproper to human life, he probably intended to intimate that one year of thetyrannical = 12 hours of the royal life.

The simple observation that the comparison of two similar solids is effected bythe comparison of the cubes of their sides, is the mathematical groundwork ofthis fanciful expression. There is some difficulty in explaining the steps bywhich the number 729 is obtained; the oligarch is removed in the third degreefrom the royal and aristocratical, and the tyrant in the third degree from theoligarchical; but we have to arrange the terms as the sides of a square and tocount the oligarch twice over, thus reckoning them not as = 5 but as = 9. Thesquare of 9 is passed lightly over as only a step towards the cube.

3. Towards the close of the Republic, Plato seems to be more and more convincedof the ideal character of his own speculations. At the end of the 9th Book thepattern which is in heaven takes the place of the city of philosophers onearth. The vision which has received form and substance at his hands, is nowdiscovered to be at a distance. And yet this distant kingdom is also the ruleof man’s life. (‘Say not lo! here, or lo! there, for the kingdom ofGod is within you.’) Thus a note is struck which prepares for therevelation of a future life in the following Book. But the future life ispresent still; the ideal of politics is to be realized in the individual.

BOOK X. Many things pleased me in the order of our State, but there was nothingwhich I liked better than the regulation about poetry. The division of the soulthrows a new light on our exclusion of imitation. I do not mind telling you inconfidence that all poetry is an outrage on the understanding, unless thehearers have that balm of knowledge which heals error. I have loved Homer eversince I was a boy, and even now he appears to me to be the great master oftragic poetry. But much as I love the man, I love truth more, and therefore Imust speak out: and first of all, will you explain what is imitation, forreally I do not understand? ‘How likely then that I shouldunderstand!’ That might very well be, for the duller often sees betterthan the keener eye. ‘True, but in your presence I can hardly venture tosay what I think.’ Then suppose that we begin in our old fashion, withthe doctrine of universals. Let us assume the existence of beds and tables.There is one idea of a bed, or of a table, which the maker of each had in hismind when making them; he did not make the ideas of beds and tables, but hemade beds and tables according to the ideas. And is there not a maker of theworks of all workmen, who makes not only vessels but plants and animals,himself, the earth and heaven, and things in heaven and under the earth? Hemakes the Gods also. ‘He must be a wizard indeed!’ But do you notsee that there is a sense in which you could do the same? You have only to takea mirror, and catch the reflection of the sun, and the earth, or anythingelse—there now you have made them. ‘Yes, but only inappearance.’ Exactly so; and the painter is such a creator as you arewith the mirror, and he is even more unreal than the carpenter; althoughneither the carpenter nor any other artist can be supposed to make the absolutebed. ‘Not if philosophers may be believed.’ Nor need we wonder thathis bed has but an imperfect relation to the truth. Reflect:—Here arethree beds; one in nature, which is made by God; another, which is made by thecarpenter; and the third, by the painter. God only made one, nor could he havemade more than one; for if there had been two, there would always have been athird—more absolute and abstract than either, under which they would havebeen included. We may therefore conceive God to be the natural maker of thebed, and in a lower sense the carpenter is also the maker; but the painter israther the imitator of what the other two make; he has to do with a creationwhich is thrice removed from reality. And the tragic poet is an imitator, and,like every other imitator, is thrice removed from the king and from the truth.The painter imitates not the original bed, but the bed made by the carpenter.And this, without being really different, appears to be different, and has manypoints of view, of which only one is caught by the painter, who representseverything because he represents a piece of everything, and that piece animage. And he can paint any other artist, although he knows nothing of theirarts; and this with sufficient skill to deceive children or simple people.Suppose now that somebody came to us and told us, how he had met a man who knewall that everybody knows, and better than anybody:—should we not inferhim to be a simpleton who, having no discernment of truth and falsehood, hadmet with a wizard or enchanter, whom he fancied to be all-wise? And when wehear persons saying that Homer and the tragedians know all the arts and all thevirtues, must we not infer that they are under a similar delusion? they do notsee that the poets are imitators, and that their creations are only imitations.‘Very true.’ But if a person could create as well as imitate, hewould rather leave some permanent work and not an imitation only; he wouldrather be the receiver than the giver of praise? ‘Yes, for then he wouldhave more honour and advantage.’

Let us now interrogate Homer and the poets. Friend Homer, say I to him, I amnot going to ask you about medicine, or any art to which your poemsincidentally refer, but about their main subjects—war, military tactics,politics. If you are only twice and not thrice removed from the truth—notan imitator or an image-maker, please to inform us what good you have ever doneto mankind? Is there any city which professes to have received laws from you,as Sicily and Italy have from Charondas, Sparta from Lycurgus, Athens fromSolon? Or was any war ever carried on by your counsels? or is any inventionattributed to you, as there is to Thales and Anacharsis? Or is there anyHomeric way of life, such as the Pythagorean was, in which you instructed men,and which is called after you? ‘No, indeed; and Creophylus (Flesh-child)was even more unfortunate in his breeding than he was in his name, if, astradition says, Homer in his lifetime was allowed by him and his other friendsto starve.’ Yes, but could this ever have happened if Homer had reallybeen the educator of Hellas? Would he not have had many devoted followers? IfProtagoras and Prodicus can persuade their contemporaries that no one canmanage house or State without them, is it likely that Homer and Hesiod wouldhave been allowed to go about as beggars—I mean if they had really beenable to do the world any good?—would not men have compelled them to staywhere they were, or have followed them about in order to get education? Butthey did not; and therefore we may infer that Homer and all the poets are onlyimitators, who do but imitate the appearances of things. For as a painter by aknowledge of figure and colour can paint a cobbler without any practice incobbling, so the poet can delineate any art in the colours of language, andgive harmony and rhythm to the cobbler and also to the general; and you knowhow mere narration, when deprived of the ornaments of metre, is like a facewhich has lost the beauty of youth and never had any other. Once more, theimitator has no knowledge of reality, but only of appearance. The painterpaints, and the artificer makes a bridle and reins, but neither understands theuse of them—the knowledge of this is confined to the horseman; and so ofother things. Thus we have three arts: one of use, another of invention, athird of imitation; and the user furnishes the rule to the two others. Theflute-player will know the good and bad flute, and the maker will put faith inhim; but the imitator will neither know nor have faith—neither sciencenor true opinion can be ascribed to him. Imitation, then, is devoid ofknowledge, being only a kind of play or sport, and the tragic and epic poetsare imitators in the highest degree.

And now let us enquire, what is the faculty in man which answers to imitation.Allow me to explain my meaning: Objects are differently seen when in the waterand when out of the water, when near and when at a distance; and the painter orjuggler makes use of this variation to impose upon us. And the art of measuringand weighing and calculating comes in to save our bewildered minds from thepower of appearance; for, as we were saying, two contrary opinions of the sameabout the same and at the same time, cannot both of them be true. But which ofthem is true is determined by the art of calculation; and this is allied to thebetter faculty in the soul, as the arts of imitation are to the worse. And thesame holds of the ear as well as of the eye, of poetry as well as painting. Theimitation is of actions voluntary or involuntary, in which there is anexpectation of a good or bad result, and present experience of pleasure andpain. But is a man in harmony with himself when he is the subject of theseconflicting influences? Is there not rather a contradiction in him? Let mefurther ask, whether he is more likely to control sorrow when he is alone orwhen he is in company. ‘In the latter case.’ Feeling would lead himto indulge his sorrow, but reason and law control him and enjoin patience;since he cannot know whether his affliction is good or evil, and no human thingis of any great consequence, while sorrow is certainly a hindrance to goodcounsel. For when we stumble, we should not, like children, make an uproar; weshould take the measures which reason prescribes, not raising a lament, butfinding a cure. And the better part of us is ready to follow reason, while theirrational principle is full of sorrow and distraction at the recollection ofour troubles. Unfortunately, however, this latter furnishes the chief materialsof the imitative arts. Whereas reason is ever in repose and cannot easily bedisplayed, especially to a mixed multitude who have no experience of her. Thusthe poet is like the painter in two ways: first he paints an inferior degree oftruth, and secondly, he is concerned with an inferior part of the soul. Heindulges the feelings, while he enfeebles the reason; and we refuse to allowhim to have authority over the mind of man; for he has no measure of greaterand less, and is a maker of images and very far gone from truth.

But we have not yet mentioned the heaviest count in the indictment—thepower which poetry has of injuriously exciting the feelings. When we hear somepassage in which a hero laments his sufferings at tedious length, you know thatwe sympathize with him and praise the poet; and yet in our own sorrows such anexhibition of feeling is regarded as effeminate and unmanly (Ion). Now, ought aman to feel pleasure in seeing another do what he hates and abominates inhimself? Is he not giving way to a sentiment which in his own case he wouldcontrol?—he is off his guard because the sorrow is another’s; andhe thinks that he may indulge his feelings without disgrace, and will be thegainer by the pleasure. But the inevitable consequence is that he who begins byweeping at the sorrows of others, will end by weeping at his own. The same istrue of comedy,—you may often laugh at buffoonery which you would beashamed to utter, and the love of coarse merriment on the stage will at lastturn you into a buffoon at home. Poetry feeds and waters the passions anddesires; she lets them rule instead of ruling them. And therefore, when we hearthe encomiasts of Homer affirming that he is the educator of Hellas, and thatall life should be regulated by his precepts, we may allow the excellence oftheir intentions, and agree with them in thinking Homer a great poet andtragedian. But we shall continue to prohibit all poetry which goes beyond hymnsto the Gods and praises of famous men. Not pleasure and pain, but law andreason shall rule in our State.

These are our grounds for expelling poetry; but lest she should charge us withdiscourtesy, let us also make an apology to her. We will remind her that thereis an ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy, of which there are manytraces in the writings of the poets, such as the saying of ‘the she-dog,yelping at her mistress,’ and ‘the philosophers who are ready tocircumvent Zeus,’ and ‘the philosophers who are paupers.’Nevertheless we bear her no ill-will, and will gladly allow her to return uponcondition that she makes a defence of herself in verse; and her supporters whoare not poets may speak in prose. We confess her charms; but if she cannot showthat she is useful as well as delightful, like rational lovers, we mustrenounce our love, though endeared to us by early associations. Having come toyears of discretion, we know that poetry is not truth, and that a man should becareful how he introduces her to that state or constitution which he himselfis; for there is a mighty issue at stake—no less than the good or evil ofa human soul. And it is not worth while to forsake justice and virtue for theattractions of poetry, any more than for the sake of honour or wealth. ‘Iagree with you.’

And yet the rewards of virtue are greater far than I have described. ‘Andcan we conceive things greater still?’ Not, perhaps, in this brief spanof life: but should an immortal being care about anything short of eternity?‘I do not understand what you mean?’ Do you not know that the soulis immortal? ‘Surely you are not prepared to prove that?’ Indeed Iam. ‘Then let me hear this argument, of which you make so light.’

You would admit that everything has an element of good and of evil. In allthings there is an inherent corruption; and if this cannot destroy them,nothing else will. The soul too has her own corrupting principles, which areinjustice, intemperance, cowardice, and the like. But none of these destroy thesoul in the same sense that disease destroys the body. The soul may be full ofall iniquities, but is not, by reason of them, brought any nearer to death.Nothing which was not destroyed from within ever perished by external affectionof evil. The body, which is one thing, cannot be destroyed by food, which isanother, unless the badness of the food is communicated to the body. Neithercan the soul, which is one thing, be corrupted by the body, which is another,unless she herself is infected. And as no bodily evil can infect the soul,neither can any bodily evil, whether disease or violence, or any other destroythe soul, unless it can be shown to render her unholy and unjust. But no onewill ever prove that the souls of men become more unjust when they die. If aperson has the audacity to say the contrary, the answer is—Then why docriminals require the hand of the executioner, and not die of themselves?‘Truly,’ he said, ‘injustice would not be very terrible if itbrought a cessation of evil; but I rather believe that the injustice whichmurders others may tend to quicken and stimulate the life of the unjust.’You are quite right. If sin which is her own natural and inherent evil cannotdestroy the soul, hardly will anything else destroy her. But the soul whichcannot be destroyed either by internal or external evil must be immortal andeverlasting. And if this be true, souls will always exist in the same number.They cannot diminish, because they cannot be destroyed; nor yet increase, forthe increase of the immortal must come from something mortal, and so all wouldend in immortality. Neither is the soul variable and diverse; for that which isimmortal must be of the fairest and simplest composition. If we would conceiveher truly, and so behold justice and injustice in their own nature, she must beviewed by the light of reason pure as at birth, or as she is reflected inphilosophy when holding converse with the divine and immortal and eternal. Inher present condition we see her only like the sea-god Glaucus, bruised andmaimed in the sea which is the world, and covered with shells and stones whichare incrusted upon her from the entertainments of earth.

Thus far, as the argument required, we have said nothing of the rewards andhonours which the poets attribute to justice; we have contented ourselves withshowing that justice in herself is best for the soul in herself, even if a manshould put on a Gyges’ ring and have the helmet of Hades too. And now youshall repay me what you borrowed; and I will enumerate the rewards of justicein life and after death. I granted, for the sake of argument, as you willremember, that evil might perhaps escape the knowledge of Gods and men,although this was really impossible. And since I have shown that justice hasreality, you must grant me also that she has the palm of appearance. In thefirst place, the just man is known to the Gods, and he is therefore the friendof the Gods, and he will receive at their hands every good, always exceptingsuch evil as is the necessary consequence of former sins. All things end ingood to him, either in life or after death, even what appears to be evil; forthe Gods have a care of him who desires to be in their likeness. And what shallwe say of men? Is not honesty the best policy? The clever rogue makes a greatstart at first, but breaks down before he reaches the goal, and slinks away indishonour; whereas the true runner perseveres to the end, and receives theprize. And you must allow me to repeat all the blessings which you attributedto the fortunate unjust—they bear rule in the city, they marry and givein marriage to whom they will; and the evils which you attributed to theunfortunate just, do really fall in the end on the unjust, although, as youimplied, their sufferings are better veiled in silence.

But all the blessings of this present life are as nothing when compared withthose which await good men after death. ‘I should like to hear aboutthem.’ Come, then, and I will tell you the story of Er, the son ofArmenius, a valiant man. He was supposed to have died in battle, but ten daysafterwards his body was found untouched by corruption and sent home for burial.On the twelfth day he was placed on the funeral pyre and there he came to lifeagain, and told what he had seen in the world below. He said that his soul wentwith a great company to a place, in which there were two chasms near togetherin the earth beneath, and two corresponding chasms in the heaven above. Andthere were judges sitting in the intermediate space, bidding the just ascend bythe heavenly way on the right hand, having the seal of their judgment set uponthem before, while the unjust, having the seal behind, were bidden to descendby the way on the left hand. Him they told to look and listen, as he was to betheir messenger to men from the world below. And he beheld and saw the soulsdeparting after judgment at either chasm; some who came from earth, were wornand travel-stained; others, who came from heaven, were clean and bright. Theyseemed glad to meet and rest awhile in the meadow; here they discoursed withone another of what they had seen in the other world. Those who came from earthwept at the remembrance of their sorrows, but the spirits from above spoke ofglorious sights and heavenly bliss. He said that for every evil deed they werepunished tenfold—now the journey was of a thousand years’ duration,because the life of man was reckoned as a hundred years—and the rewardsof virtue were in the same proportion. He added something hardly worthrepeating about infants dying almost as soon as they were born. Of parricidesand other murderers he had tortures still more terrible to narrate. He waspresent when one of the spirits asked—Where is Ardiaeus the Great? (ThisArdiaeus was a cruel tyrant, who had murdered his father, and his elderbrother, a thousand years before.) Another spirit answered, ‘He comes nothither, and will never come. And I myself,’ he added, ‘actually sawthis terrible sight. At the entrance of the chasm, as we were about toreascend, Ardiaeus appeared, and some other sinners—most of whom had beentyrants, but not all—and just as they fancied that they were returning tolife, the chasm gave a roar, and then wild, fiery-looking men who knew themeaning of the sound, seized him and several others, and bound them hand andfoot and threw them down, and dragged them along at the side of the road,lacerating them and carding them like wool, and explaining to the passers-by,that they were going to be cast into hell.’ The greatest terror of thepilgrims ascending was lest they should hear the voice, and when there wassilence one by one they passed up with joy. To these sufferings there werecorresponding delights.

On the eighth day the souls of the pilgrims resumed their journey, and in fourdays came to a spot whence they looked down upon a line of light, in colourlike a rainbow, only brighter and clearer. One day more brought them to theplace, and they saw that this was the column of light which binds together thewhole universe. The ends of the column were fastened to heaven, and from themhung the distaff of Necessity, on which all the heavenly bodiesturned—the hook and spindle were of adamant, and the whorl of a mixedsubstance. The whorl was in form like a number of boxes fitting into oneanother with their edges turned upwards, making together a single whorl whichwas pierced by the spindle. The outermost had the rim broadest, and the innerwhorls were smaller and smaller, and had their rims narrower. The largest (thefixed stars) was spangled—the seventh (the sun) was brightest—theeighth (the moon) shone by the light of the seventh—the second and fifth(Saturn and Mercury) were most like one another and yellower than theeighth—the third (Jupiter) had the whitest light—the fourth (Mars)was red—the sixth (Venus) was in whiteness second. The whole had onemotion, but while this was revolving in one direction the seven inner circleswere moving in the opposite, with various degrees of swiftness and slowness.The spindle turned on the knees of Necessity, and a Siren stood hymning uponeach circle, while Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, the daughters of Necessity,sat on thrones at equal intervals, singing of past, present, and future,responsive to the music of the Sirens; Clotho from time to time guiding theouter circle with a touch of her right hand; Atropos with her left handtouching and guiding the inner circles; Lachesis in turn putting forth her handfrom time to time to guide both of them. On their arrival the pilgrims went toLachesis, and there was an interpreter who arranged them, and taking from herknees lots, and samples of lives, got up into a pulpit and said: ‘Mortalsouls, hear the words of Lachesis, the daughter of Necessity. A new period ofmortal life has begun, and you may choose what divinity you please; theresponsibility of choosing is with you—God is blameless.’ Afterspeaking thus, he cast the lots among them and each one took up the lot whichfell near him. He then placed on the ground before them the samples of lives,many more than the souls present; and there were all sorts of lives, of men andof animals. There were tyrannies ending in misery and exile, and lives of menand women famous for their different qualities; and also mixed lives, made upof wealth and poverty, sickness and health. Here, Glaucon, is the great risk ofhuman life, and therefore the whole of education should be directed to theacquisition of such a knowledge as will teach a man to refuse the evil andchoose the good. He should know all the combinations which occur inlife—of beauty with poverty or with wealth,—of knowledge withexternal goods,—and at last choose with reference to the nature of thesoul, regarding that only as the better life which makes men better, andleaving the rest. And a man must take with him an iron sense of truth and rightinto the world below, that there too he may remain undazzled by wealth or theallurements of evil, and be determined to avoid the extremes and choose themean. For this, as the messenger reported the interpreter to have said, is thetrue happiness of man; and any one, as he proclaimed, may, if he choose withunderstanding, have a good lot, even though he come last. ‘Let not thefirst be careless in his choice, nor the last despair.’ He spoke; andwhen he had spoken, he who had drawn the first lot chose a tyranny: he did notsee that he was fated to devour his own children—and when he discoveredhis mistake, he wept and beat his breast, blaming chance and the Gods andanybody rather than himself. He was one of those who had come from heaven, andin his previous life had been a citizen of a well-ordered State, but he hadonly habit and no philosophy. Like many another, he made a bad choice, becausehe had no experience of life; whereas those who came from earth and had seentrouble were not in such a hurry to choose. But if a man had followedphilosophy while upon earth, and had been moderately fortunate in his lot, hemight not only be happy here, but his pilgrimage both from and to this worldwould be smooth and heavenly. Nothing was more curious than the spectacle ofthe choice, at once sad and laughable and wonderful; most of the souls onlyseeking to avoid their own condition in a previous life. He saw the soul ofOrpheus changing into a swan because he would not be born of a woman; there wasThamyras becoming a nightingale; musical birds, like the swan, choosing to bemen; the twentieth soul, which was that of Ajax, preferring the life of a lionto that of a man, in remembrance of the injustice which was done to him in thejudgment of the arms; and Agamemnon, from a like enmity to human nature,passing into an eagle. About the middle was the soul of Atalanta choosing thehonours of an athlete, and next to her Epeus taking the nature of a workwoman;among the last was Thersites, who was changing himself into a monkey. Thither,the last of all, came Odysseus, and sought the lot of a private man, which layneglected and despised, and when he found it he went away rejoicing, and saidthat if he had been first instead of last, his choice would have been the same.Men, too, were seen passing into animals, and wild and tame animals changinginto one another.

When all the souls had chosen they went to Lachesis, who sent with each of themtheir genius or attendant to fulfil their lot. He first of all brought themunder the hand of Clotho, and drew them within the revolution of the spindleimpelled by her hand; from her they were carried to Atropos, who made thethreads irreversible; whence, without turning round, they passed beneath thethrone of Necessity; and when they had all passed, they moved on in scorchingheat to the plain of Forgetfulness and rested at evening by the riverUnmindful, whose water could not be retained in any vessel; of this they hadall to drink a certain quantity—some of them drank more than wasrequired, and he who drank forgot all things. Er himself was prevented fromdrinking. When they had gone to rest, about the middle of the night there werethunderstorms and earthquakes, and suddenly they were all driven divers ways,shooting like stars to their birth. Concerning his return to the body, he onlyknew that awaking suddenly in the morning he found himself lying on the pyre.

Thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved, and will be our salvation, if webelieve that the soul is immortal, and hold fast to the heavenly way of Justiceand Knowledge. So shall we pass undefiled over the river of Forgetfulness, andbe dear to ourselves and to the Gods, and have a crown of reward and happinessboth in this world and also in the millennial pilgrimage of the other.

The Tenth Book of the Republic of Plato falls into two divisions: first,resuming an old thread which has been interrupted, Socrates assails the poets,who, now that the nature of the soul has been analyzed, are seen to be very fargone from the truth; and secondly, having shown the reality of the happiness ofthe just, he demands that appearance shall be restored to him, and thenproceeds to prove the immortality of the soul. The argument, as in the Phaedoand Gorgias, is supplemented by the vision of a future life.

Why Plato, who was himself a poet, and whose dialogues are poems and dramas,should have been hostile to the poets as a class, and especially to thedramatic poets; why he should not have seen that truth may be embodied in verseas well as in prose, and that there are some indefinable lights and shadows ofhuman life which can only be expressed in poetry—some elements ofimagination which always entwine with reason; why he should have supposed epicverse to be inseparably associated with the impurities of the old Hellenicmythology; why he should try Homer and Hesiod by the unfair and prosaic test ofutility,—are questions which have always been debated amongst students ofPlato. Though unable to give a complete answer to them, we mayshow—first, that his views arose naturally out of the circumstances ofhis age; and secondly, we may elicit the truth as well as the error which iscontained in them.

He is the enemy of the poets because poetry was declining in his own lifetime,and a theatrocracy, as he says in the Laws, had taken the place of anintellectual aristocracy. Euripides exhibited the last phase of the tragicdrama, and in him Plato saw the friend and apologist of tyrants, and theSophist of tragedy. The old comedy was almost extinct; the new had not yetarisen. Dramatic and lyric poetry, like every other branch of Greek literature,was falling under the power of rhetoric. There was no ‘second orthird’ to Aeschylus and Sophocles in the generation which followed them.Aristophanes, in one of his later comedies (Frogs), speaks of ‘thousandsof tragedy-making prattlers,’ whose attempts at poetry he compares to thechirping of swallows; ‘their garrulity went far beyondEuripides,’—‘they appeared once upon the stage, and there wasan end of them.’ To a man of genius who had a real appreciation of thegodlike Aeschylus and the noble and gentle Sophocles, though disagreeing withsome parts of their ‘theology’ (Rep.), these ‘minorpoets’ must have been contemptible and intolerable. There is no feelingstronger in the dialogues of Plato than a sense of the decline and decay bothin literature and in politics which marked his own age. Nor can he have beenexpected to look with favour on the licence of Aristophanes, now at the end ofhis career, who had begun by satirizing Socrates in the Clouds, and in asimilar spirit forty years afterwards had satirized the founders of idealcommonwealths in his Eccleziazusae, or Female Parliament (Laws).

There were other reasons for the antagonism of Plato to poetry. The professionof an actor was regarded by him as a degradation of human nature, for‘one man in his life’ cannot ‘play many parts;’ thecharacters which the actor performs seem to destroy his own character, and toleave nothing which can be truly called himself. Neither can any man live hislife and act it. The actor is the slave of his art, not the master of it.Taking this view Plato is more decided in his expulsion of the dramatic than ofthe epic poets, though he must have known that the Greek tragedians affordednoble lessons and examples of virtue and patriotism, to which nothing in Homercan be compared. But great dramatic or even great rhetorical power is hardlyconsistent with firmness or strength of mind, and dramatic talent is oftenincidentally associated with a weak or dissolute character.

In the Tenth Book Plato introduces a new series of objections. First, he saysthat the poet or painter is an imitator, and in the third degree removed fromthe truth. His creations are not tested by rule and measure; they are onlyappearances. In modern times we should say that art is not merely imitation,but rather the expression of the ideal in forms of sense. Even adopting thehumble image of Plato, from which his argument derives a colour, we shouldmaintain that the artist may ennoble the bed which he paints by the folds ofthe drapery, or by the feeling of home which he introduces; and there have beenmodern painters who have imparted such an ideal interest to ablacksmith’s or a carpenter’s shop. The eye or mind which feels aswell as sees can give dignity and pathos to a ruined mill, or a straw-builtshed (Rembrandt), to the hull of a vessel ‘going to its last home’(Turner). Still more would this apply to the greatest works of art, which seemto be the visible embodiment of the divine. Had Plato been asked whether theZeus or Athene of Pheidias was the imitation of an imitation only, would he nothave been compelled to admit that something more was to be found in them thanin the form of any mortal; and that the rule of proportion to which theyconformed was ‘higher far than any geometry or arithmetic couldexpress?’ (Statesman.)

Again, Plato objects to the imitative arts that they express the emotionalrather than the rational part of human nature. He does not admitAristotle’s theory, that tragedy or other serious imitations are apurgation of the passions by pity and fear; to him they appear only to affordthe opportunity of indulging them. Yet we must acknowledge that we maysometimes cure disordered emotions by giving expression to them; and that theyoften gain strength when pent up within our own breast. It is not everyindulgence of the feelings which is to be condemned. For there may be agratification of the higher as well as of the lower—thoughts which aretoo deep or too sad to be expressed by ourselves, may find an utterance in thewords of poets. Every one would acknowledge that there have been times whenthey were consoled and elevated by beautiful music or by the sublimity ofarchitecture or by the peacefulness of nature. Plato has himself admitted, inthe earlier part of the Republic, that the arts might have the effect ofharmonizing as well as of enervating the mind; but in the Tenth Book he regardsthem through a Stoic or Puritan medium. He asks only ‘What good have theydone?’ and is not satisfied with the reply, that ‘They have giveninnocent pleasure to mankind.’

He tells us that he rejoices in the banishment of the poets, since he has foundby the analysis of the soul that they are concerned with the inferiorfaculties. He means to say that the higher faculties have to do withuniversals, the lower with particulars of sense. The poets are on a level withtheir own age, but not on a level with Socrates and Plato; and he was wellaware that Homer and Hesiod could not be made a rule of life by any process oflegitimate interpretation; his ironical use of them is in fact a denial oftheir authority; he saw, too, that the poets were not critics—as he saysin the Apology, ‘Any one was a better interpreter of their writings thanthey were themselves. He himself ceased to be a poet when he became a discipleof Socrates; though, as he tells us of Solon, ‘he might have been one ofthe greatest of them, if he had not been deterred by other pursuits’(Tim.) Thus from many points of view there is an antagonism between Plato andthe poets, which was foreshadowed to him in the old quarrel between philosophyand poetry. The poets, as he says in the Protagoras, were the Sophists of theirday; and his dislike of the one class is reflected on the other. He regardsthem both as the enemies of reasoning and abstraction, though in the case ofEuripides more with reference to his immoral sentiments about tyrants and thelike. For Plato is the prophet who ‘came into the world to convincemen’—first of the fallibility of sense and opinion, and secondly ofthe reality of abstract ideas. Whatever strangeness there may be in moderntimes in opposing philosophy to poetry, which to us seem to have so manyelements in common, the strangeness will disappear if we conceive of poetry asallied to sense, and of philosophy as equivalent to thought and abstraction.Unfortunately the very word ‘idea,’ which to Plato is expressive ofthe most real of all things, is associated in our minds with an element ofsubjectiveness and unreality. We may note also how he differs from Aristotlewho declares poetry to be truer than history, for the opposite reason, becauseit is concerned with universals, not like history, with particulars (Poet).

The things which are seen are opposed in Scripture to the things which areunseen—they are equally opposed in Plato to universals and ideas. To himall particulars appear to be floating about in a world of sense; they have ataint of error or even of evil. There is no difficulty in seeing that this isan illusion; for there is no more error or variation in an individual man,horse, bed, etc., than in the class man, horse, bed, etc.; nor is the truthwhich is displayed in individual instances less certain than that which isconveyed through the medium of ideas. But Plato, who is deeply impressed withthe real importance of universals as instruments of thought, attributes to theman essential truth which is imaginary and unreal; for universals may be oftenfalse and particulars true. Had he attained to any clear conception of theindividual, which is the synthesis of the universal and the particular; or hadhe been able to distinguish between opinion and sensation, which the ambiguityof the words (Greek) and the like, tended to confuse, he would not have deniedtruth to the particulars of sense.

But the poets are also the representatives of falsehood and feigning in alldepartments of life and knowledge, like the sophists and rhetoricians of theGorgias and Phaedrus; they are the false priests, false prophets, lyingspirits, enchanters of the world. There is another count put into theindictment against them by Plato, that they are the friends of the tyrant, andbask in the sunshine of his patronage. Despotism in all ages has had anapparatus of false ideas and false teachers at its service—in the historyof Modern Europe as well as of Greece and Rome. For no government of mendepends solely upon force; without some corruption of literature andmorals—some appeal to the imagination of the masses—some pretenceto the favour of heaven—some element of good giving power to evil,tyranny, even for a short time, cannot be maintained. The Greek tyrants werenot insensible to the importance of awakening in their cause a Pseudo-Hellenicfeeling; they were proud of successes at the Olympic games; they were notdevoid of the love of literature and art. Plato is thinking in the firstinstance of Greek poets who had graced the courts of Dionysius or Archelaus:and the old spirit of freedom is roused within him at their prostitution of theTragic Muse in the praises of tyranny. But his prophetic eye extends beyondthem to the false teachers of other ages who are the creatures of thegovernment under which they live. He compares the corruption of hiscontemporaries with the idea of a perfect society, and gathers up into one massof evil the evils and errors of mankind; to him they are personified in therhetoricians, sophists, poets, rulers who deceive and govern the world.

A further objection which Plato makes to poetry and the imitative arts is thatthey excite the emotions. Here the modern reader will be disposed to introducea distinction which appears to have escaped him. For the emotions are neitherbad nor good in themselves, and are not most likely to be controlled by theattempt to eradicate them, but by the moderate indulgence of them. And thevocation of art is to present thought in the form of feeling, to enlist thefeelings on the side of reason, to inspire even for a moment courage orresignation; perhaps to suggest a sense of infinity and eternity in a way whichmere language is incapable of attaining. True, the same power which in thepurer age of art embodies gods and heroes only, may be made to express thevoluptuous image of a Corinthian courtezan. But this only shows that art, likeother outward things, may be turned to good and also to evil, and is not moreclosely connected with the higher than with the lower part of the soul. Allimitative art is subject to certain limitations, and therefore necessarilypartakes of the nature of a compromise. Something of ideal truth is sacrificedfor the sake of the representation, and something in the exactness of therepresentation is sacrificed to the ideal. Still, works of art have a permanentelement; they idealize and detain the passing thought, and are theintermediates between sense and ideas.

In the present stage of the human mind, poetry and other forms of fiction maycertainly be regarded as a good. But we can also imagine the existence of anage in which a severer conception of truth has either banished or transformedthem. At any rate we must admit that they hold a different place at differentperiods of the world’s history. In the infancy of mankind, poetry, withthe exception of proverbs, is the whole of literature, and the only instrumentof intellectual culture; in modern times she is the shadow or echo of herformer self, and appears to have a precarious existence. Milton in his daydoubted whether an epic poem was any longer possible. At the same time we mustremember, that what Plato would have called the charms of poetry have beenpartly transferred to prose; he himself (Statesman) admits rhetoric to be thehandmaiden of Politics, and proposes to find in the strain of law (Laws) asubstitute for the old poets. Among ourselves the creative power seems often tobe growing weaker, and scientific fact to be more engrossing and overpoweringto the mind than formerly. The illusion of the feelings commonly called love,has hitherto been the inspiring influence of modern poetry and romance, and hasexercised a humanizing if not a strengthening influence on the world. But maynot the stimulus which love has given to fancy be some day exhausted? Themodern English novel which is the most popular of all forms of reading is notmore than a century or two old: will the tale of love a hundred years hence,after so many thousand variations of the same theme, be still received withunabated interest?

Art cannot claim to be on a level with philosophy or religion, and may oftencorrupt them. It is possible to conceive a mental state in which all artisticrepresentations are regarded as a false and imperfect expression, either of thereligious ideal or of the philosophical ideal. The fairest forms may berevolting in certain moods of mind, as is proved by the fact that theMahometans, and many sects of Christians, have renounced the use of picturesand images. The beginning of a great religion, whether Christian or Gentile,has not been ‘wood or stone,’ but a spirit moving in the hearts ofmen. The disciples have met in a large upper room or in ‘holes and cavesof the earth’; in the second or third generation, they have had mosques,temples, churches, monasteries. And the revival or reform of religions, likethe first revelation of them, has come from within and has generallydisregarded external ceremonies and accompaniments.

But poetry and art may also be the expression of the highest truth and thepurest sentiment. Plato himself seems to waver between two oppositeviews—when, as in the third Book, he insists that youth should be broughtup amid wholesome imagery; and again in Book X, when he banishes the poets fromhis Republic. Admitting that the arts, which some of us almost deify, havefallen short of their higher aim, we must admit on the other hand that tobanish imagination wholly would be suicidal as well as impossible. For naturetoo is a form of art; and a breath of the fresh air or a single glance at thevarying landscape would in an instant revive and reillumine the extinguishedspark of poetry in the human breast. In the lower stages of civilizationimagination more than reason distinguishes man from the animals; and to banishart would be to banish thought, to banish language, to banish the expression ofall truth. No religion is wholly devoid of external forms; even the Mahometanwho renounces the use of pictures and images has a temple in which he worshipsthe Most High, as solemn and beautiful as any Greek or Christian building.Feeling too and thought are not really opposed; for he who thinks must feelbefore he can execute. And the highest thoughts, when they become familiarizedto us, are always tending to pass into the form of feeling.

Plato does not seriously intend to expel poets from life and society. But hefeels strongly the unreality of their writings; he is protesting against thedegeneracy of poetry in his own day as we might protest against the want ofserious purpose in modern fiction, against the unseemliness or extravagance ofsome of our poets or novelists, against the time-serving of preachers or publicwriters, against the regardlessness of truth which to the eye of thephilosopher seems to characterize the greater part of the world. For we toohave reason to complain that our poets and novelists ‘paint inferiortruth’ and ‘are concerned with the inferior part of thesoul’; that the readers of them become what they read and are injuriouslyaffected by them. And we look in vain for that healthy atmosphere of whichPlato speaks,—‘the beauty which meets the sense like a breeze andimperceptibly draws the soul, even in childhood, into harmony with the beautyof reason.’

For there might be a poetry which would be the hymn of divine perfection, theharmony of goodness and truth among men: a strain which should renew the youthof the world, and bring back the ages in which the poet was man’s onlyteacher and best friend,—which would find materials in the living presentas well as in the romance of the past, and might subdue to the fairest forms ofspeech and verse the intractable materials of modern civilisation,—whichmight elicit the simple principles, or, as Plato would have called them, theessential forms, of truth and justice out of the variety of opinion and thecomplexity of modern society,—which would preserve all the good of eachgeneration and leave the bad unsung,—which should be based not on vainlongings or faint imaginings, but on a clear insight into the nature of man.Then the tale of love might begin again in poetry or prose, two in one, unitedin the pursuit of knowledge, or the service of God and man; and feelings oflove might still be the incentive to great thoughts and heroic deeds as in thedays of Dante or Petrarch; and many types of manly and womanly beauty mightappear among us, rising above the ordinary level of humanity, and many liveswhich were like poems (Laws), be not only written, but lived by us. A few suchstrains have been heard among men in the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles,whom Plato quotes, not, as Homer is quoted by him, in irony, but with deep andserious approval,—in the poetry of Milton and Wordsworth, and in passagesof other English poets,—first and above all in the Hebrew prophets andpsalmists. Shakespeare has taught us how great men should speak and act; he hasdrawn characters of a wonderful purity and depth; he has ennobled the humanmind, but, like Homer (Rep.), he ‘has left no way of life.’ Thenext greatest poet of modern times, Goethe, is concerned with ‘a lowerdegree of truth’; he paints the world as a stage on which ‘all themen and women are merely players’; he cultivates life as an art, but hefurnishes no ideals of truth and action. The poet may rebel against any attemptto set limits to his fancy; and he may argue truly that moralizing in verse isnot poetry. Possibly, like Mephistopheles in Faust, he may retaliate on hisadversaries. But the philosopher will still be justified in asking, ‘Howmay the heavenly gift of poesy be devoted to the good of mankind?’

Returning to Plato, we may observe that a similar mixture of truth and errorappears in other parts of the argument. He is aware of the absurdity of mankindframing their whole lives according to Homer; just as in the Phaedrus heintimates the absurdity of interpreting mythology upon rational principles;both these were the modern tendencies of his own age, which he deservedlyridicules. On the other hand, his argument that Homer, if he had been able toteach mankind anything worth knowing, would not have been allowed by them to goabout begging as a rhapsodist, is both false and contrary to the spirit ofPlato (Rep.). It may be compared with those other paradoxes of the Gorgias,that ‘No statesman was ever unjustly put to death by the city of which hewas the head’; and that ‘No Sophist was ever defrauded by hispupils’ (Gorg.)...

The argument for immortality seems to rest on the absolute dualism of soul andbody. Admitting the existence of the soul, we know of no force which is able toput an end to her. Vice is her own proper evil; and if she cannot be destroyedby that, she cannot be destroyed by any other. Yet Plato has acknowledged thatthe soul may be so overgrown by the incrustations of earth as to lose heroriginal form; and in the Timaeus he recognizes more strongly than in theRepublic the influence which the body has over the mind, denying even thevoluntariness of human actions, on the ground that they proceed from physicalstates (Tim.). In the Republic, as elsewhere, he wavers between the originalsoul which has to be restored, and the character which is developed by trainingand education...

The vision of another world is ascribed to Er, the son of Armenius, who is saidby Clement of Alexandria to have been Zoroaster. The tale has certainly anoriental character, and may be compared with the pilgrimages of the soul in theZend Avesta (Haug, Avesta). But no trace of acquaintance with Zoroaster isfound elsewhere in Plato’s writings, and there is no reason for givinghim the name of Er the Pamphylian. The philosophy of Heracleitus cannot beshown to be borrowed from Zoroaster, and still less the myths of Plato.

The local arrangement of the vision is less distinct than that of the Phaedrusand Phaedo. Astronomy is mingled with symbolism and mythology; the great sphereof heaven is represented under the symbol of a cylinder or box, containing theseven orbits of the planets and the fixed stars; this is suspended from an axisor spindle which turns on the knees of Necessity; the revolutions of the sevenorbits contained in the cylinder are guided by the fates, and their harmoniousmotion produces the music of the spheres. Through the innermost or eighth ofthese, which is the moon, is passed the spindle; but it is doubtful whetherthis is the continuation of the column of light, from which the pilgrimscontemplate the heavens; the words of Plato imply that they are connected, butnot the same. The column itself is clearly not of adamant. The spindle (whichis of adamant) is fastened to the ends of the chains which extend to the middleof the column of light—this column is said to hold together the heaven;but whether it hangs from the spindle, or is at right angles to it, is notexplained. The cylinder containing the orbits of the stars is almost as much asymbol as the figure of Necessity turning the spindle;—for the outermostrim is the sphere of the fixed stars, and nothing is said about the intervalsof space which divide the paths of the stars in the heavens. The description isboth a picture and an orrery, and therefore is necessarily inconsistent withitself. The column of light is not the Milky Way—which is neitherstraight, nor like a rainbow—but the imaginary axis of the earth. This iscompared to the rainbow in respect not of form but of colour, and not to theundergirders of a trireme, but to the straight rope running from prow to sternin which the undergirders meet.

The orrery or picture of the heavens given in the Republic differs in its modeof representation from the circles of the same and of the other in the Timaeus.In both the fixed stars are distinguished from the planets, and they move inorbits without them, although in an opposite direction: in the Republic as inthe Timaeus they are all moving round the axis of the world. But we are notcertain that in the former they are moving round the earth. No distinct mentionis made in the Republic of the circles of the same and other; although both inthe Timaeus and in the Republic the motion of the fixed stars is supposed tocoincide with the motion of the whole. The relative thickness of the rims isperhaps designed to express the relative distances of the planets. Platoprobably intended to represent the earth, from which Er and his companions areviewing the heavens, as stationary in place; but whether or not herselfrevolving, unless this is implied in the revolution of the axis, is uncertain(Timaeus). The spectator may be supposed to look at the heavenly bodies, eitherfrom above or below. The earth is a sort of earth and heaven in one, like theheaven of the Phaedrus, on the back of which the spectator goes out to take apeep at the stars and is borne round in the revolution. There is no distinctionbetween the equator and the ecliptic. But Plato is no doubt led to imagine thatthe planets have an opposite motion to that of the fixed stars, in order toaccount for their appearances in the heavens. In the description of the meadow,and the retribution of the good and evil after death, there are traces ofHomer.

The description of the axis as a spindle, and of the heavenly bodies as forminga whole, partly arises out of the attempt to connect the motions of theheavenly bodies with the mythological image of the web, or weaving of theFates. The giving of the lots, the weaving of them, and the making of themirreversible, which are ascribed to the three Fates—Lachesis, Clotho,Atropos, are obviously derived from their names. The element of chance in humanlife is indicated by the order of the lots. But chance, however adverse, may beovercome by the wisdom of man, if he knows how to choose aright; there is aworse enemy to man than chance; this enemy is himself. He who was moderatelyfortunate in the number of the lot—even the very last comer—mighthave a good life if he chose with wisdom. And as Plato does not like to make anassertion which is unproven, he more than confirms this statement a fewsentences afterwards by the example of Odysseus, who chose last. But the virtuewhich is founded on habit is not sufficient to enable a man to choose; he mustadd to virtue knowledge, if he is to act rightly when placed in newcircumstances. The routine of good actions and good habits is an inferior sortof goodness; and, as Coleridge says, ‘Common sense is intolerable whichis not based on metaphysics,’ so Plato would have said, ‘Habit isworthless which is not based upon philosophy.’

The freedom of the will to refuse the evil and to choose the good is distinctlyasserted. ‘Virtue is free, and as a man honours or dishonours her he willhave more or less of her.’ The life of man is ‘rounded’ bynecessity; there are circumstances prior to birth which affect him (Pol.). Butwithin the walls of necessity there is an open space in which he is his ownmaster, and can study for himself the effects which the variously compoundedgifts of nature or fortune have upon the soul, and act accordingly. All mencannot have the first choice in everything. But the lot of all men is goodenough, if they choose wisely and will live diligently.

The verisimilitude which is given to the pilgrimage of a thousand years, by theintimation that Ardiaeus had lived a thousand years before; the coincidence ofEr coming to life on the twelfth day after he was supposed to have been deadwith the seven days which the pilgrims passed in the meadow, and the four daysduring which they journeyed to the column of light; the precision with whichthe soul is mentioned who chose the twentieth lot; the passing remarks thatthere was no definite character among the souls, and that the souls which hadchosen ill blamed any one rather than themselves; or that some of the soulsdrank more than was necessary of the waters of Forgetfulness, while Er himselfwas hindered from drinking; the desire of Odysseus to rest at last, unlike theconception of him in Dante and Tennyson; the feigned ignorance of how Erreturned to the body, when the other souls went shooting like stars to theirbirth,—add greatly to the probability of the narrative. They are suchtouches of nature as the art of Defoe might have introduced when he wished towin credibility for marvels and apparitions.

There still remain to be considered some points which have been intentionallyreserved to the end: (1) the Janus-like character of the Republic, whichpresents two faces—one an Hellenic state, the other a kingdom ofphilosophers. Connected with the latter of the two aspects are (2) theparadoxes of the Republic, as they have been termed by Morgenstern: (a) thecommunity of property; (b) of families; (c) the rule of philosophers; (d) theanalogy of the individual and the State, which, like some other analogies inthe Republic, is carried too far. We may then proceed to consider (3) thesubject of education as conceived by Plato, bringing together in a general viewthe education of youth and the education of after-life; (4) we may note furthersome essential differences between ancient and modern politics which aresuggested by the Republic; (5) we may compare the Politicus and the Laws; (6)we may observe the influence exercised by Plato on his imitators; and (7) takeoccasion to consider the nature and value of political, and (8) of religiousideals.

1. Plato expressly says that he is intending to found an Hellenic State (BookV). Many of his regulations are characteristically Spartan; such as theprohibition of gold and silver, the common meals of the men, the militarytraining of the youth, the gymnastic exercises of the women. The life of Spartawas the life of a camp (Laws), enforced even more rigidly in time of peace thanin war; the citizens of Sparta, like Plato’s, were forbidden totrade—they were to be soldiers and not shopkeepers. Nowhere else inGreece was the individual so completely subjected to the State; the time whenhe was to marry, the education of his children, the clothes which he was towear, the food which he was to eat, were all prescribed by law. Some of thebest enactments in the Republic, such as the reverence to be paid to parentsand elders, and some of the worst, such as the exposure of deformed children,are borrowed from the practice of Sparta. The encouragement of friendshipsbetween men and youths, or of men with one another, as affording incentives tobravery, is also Spartan; in Sparta too a nearer approach was made than in anyother Greek State to equality of the sexes, and to community of property; andwhile there was probably less of licentiousness in the sense of immorality, thetie of marriage was regarded more lightly than in the rest of Greece. The‘suprema lex’ was the preservation of the family, and the interestof the State. The coarse strength of a military government was not favourableto purity and refinement; and the excessive strictness of some regulationsseems to have produced a reaction. Of all Hellenes the Spartans were mostaccessible to bribery; several of the greatest of them might be described inthe words of Plato as having a ‘fierce secret longing after gold andsilver.’ Though not in the strict sense communists, the principle ofcommunism was maintained among them in their division of lands, in their commonmeals, in their slaves, and in the free use of one another’s goods.Marriage was a public institution: and the women were educated by the State,and sang and danced in public with the men.

Many traditions were preserved at Sparta of the severity with which themagistrates had maintained the primitive rule of music and poetry; as in theRepublic of Plato, the new-fangled poet was to be expelled. Hymns to the Gods,which are the only kind of music admitted into the ideal State, were the onlykind which was permitted at Sparta. The Spartans, though an unpoetical race,were nevertheless lovers of poetry; they had been stirred by the Elegiacstrains of Tyrtaeus, they had crowded around Hippias to hear his recitals ofHomer; but in this they resembled the citizens of the timocratic rather than ofthe ideal State. The council of elder men also corresponds to the Spartangerousia; and the freedom with which they are permitted to judge about mattersof detail agrees with what we are told of that institution. Once more, themilitary rule of not spoiling the dead or offering arms at the temples; themoderation in the pursuit of enemies; the importance attached to the physicalwell-being of the citizens; the use of warfare for the sake of defence ratherthan of aggression—are features probably suggested by the spirit andpractice of Sparta.

To the Spartan type the ideal State reverts in the first decline; and thecharacter of the individual timocrat is borrowed from the Spartan citizen. Thelove of Lacedaemon not only affected Plato and Xenophon, but was shared by manyundistinguished Athenians; there they seemed to find a principle which waswanting in their own democracy. The (Greek) of the Spartans attracted them,that is to say, not the goodness of their laws, but the spirit of order andloyalty which prevailed. Fascinated by the idea, citizens of Athens wouldimitate the Lacedaemonians in their dress and manners; they were known to thecontemporaries of Plato as ‘the persons who had their earsbruised,’ like the Roundheads of the Commonwealth. The love of anotherchurch or country when seen at a distance only, the longing for an imaginarysimplicity in civilized times, the fond desire of a past which never has been,or of a future which never will be,—these are aspirations of the humanmind which are often felt among ourselves. Such feelings meet with a responsein the Republic of Plato.

But there are other features of the Platonic Republic, as, for example, theliterary and philosophical education, and the grace and beauty of life, whichare the reverse of Spartan. Plato wishes to give his citizens a taste ofAthenian freedom as well as of Lacedaemonian discipline. His individual geniusis purely Athenian, although in theory he is a lover of Sparta; and he issomething more than either—he has also a true Hellenic feeling. He isdesirous of humanizing the wars of Hellenes against one another; heacknowledges that the Delphian God is the grand hereditary interpreter of allHellas. The spirit of harmony and the Dorian mode are to prevail, and the wholeState is to have an external beauty which is the reflex of the harmony within.But he has not yet found out the truth which he afterwards enunciated in theLaws—that he was a better legislator who made men to be of one mind, thanhe who trained them for war. The citizens, as in other Hellenic States,democratic as well as aristocratic, are really an upper class; for, although nomention is made of slaves, the lower classes are allowed to fade away into thedistance, and are represented in the individual by the passions. Plato has noidea either of a social State in which all classes are harmonized, or of afederation of Hellas or the world in which different nations or States have aplace. His city is equipped for war rather than for peace, and this would seemto be justified by the ordinary condition of Hellenic States. The myth of theearth-born men is an embodiment of the orthodox tradition of Hellas, and theallusion to the four ages of the world is also sanctioned by the authority ofHesiod and the poets. Thus we see that the Republic is partly founded on theideal of the old Greek polis, partly on the actual circumstances of Hellas inthat age. Plato, like the old painters, retains the traditional form, and likethem he has also a vision of a city in the clouds.

There is yet another thread which is interwoven in the texture of the work; forthe Republic is not only a Dorian State, but a Pythagorean league. The‘way of life’ which was connected with the name of Pythagoras, likethe Catholic monastic orders, showed the power which the mind of an individualmight exercise over his contemporaries, and may have naturally suggested toPlato the possibility of reviving such ‘mediaeval institutions.’The Pythagoreans, like Plato, enforced a rule of life and a moral andintellectual training. The influence ascribed to music, which to us seemsexaggerated, is also a Pythagorean feature; it is not to be regarded asrepresenting the real influence of music in the Greek world. More nearly thanany other government of Hellas, the Pythagorean league of three hundred was anaristocracy of virtue. For once in the history of mankind the philosophy oforder or (Greek), expressing and consequently enlisting on its side thecombined endeavours of the better part of the people, obtained the managementof public affairs and held possession of it for a considerable time (untilabout B.C. 500). Probably only in States prepared by Dorian institutions wouldsuch a league have been possible. The rulers, like Plato’s (Greek), wererequired to submit to a severe training in order to prepare the way for theeducation of the other members of the community. Long after the dissolution ofthe Order, eminent Pythagoreans, such as Archytas of Tarentum, retained theirpolitical influence over the cities of Magna Graecia. There was much here thatwas suggestive to the kindred spirit of Plato, who had doubtless meditateddeeply on the ‘way of life of Pythagoras’ (Rep.) and his followers.Slight traces of Pythagoreanism are to be found in the mystical number of theState, in the number which expresses the interval between the king and thetyrant, in the doctrine of transmigration, in the music of the spheres, as wellas in the great though secondary importance ascribed to mathematics ineducation.

But as in his philosophy, so also in the form of his State, he goes far beyondthe old Pythagoreans. He attempts a task really impossible, which is to unitethe past of Greek history with the future of philosophy, analogous to thatother impossibility, which has often been the dream of Christendom, the attemptto unite the past history of Europe with the kingdom of Christ. Nothingactually existing in the world at all resembles Plato’s ideal State; nordoes he himself imagine that such a State is possible. This he repeats againand again; e.g. in the Republic, or in the Laws where, casting a glance back onthe Republic, he admits that the perfect state of communism and philosophy wasimpossible in his own age, though still to be retained as a pattern. The samedoubt is implied in the earnestness with which he argues in the Republic thatideals are none the worse because they cannot be realized in fact, and in thechorus of laughter, which like a breaking wave will, as he anticipates, greetthe mention of his proposals; though like other writers of fiction, he uses allhis art to give reality to his inventions. When asked how the ideal polity cancome into being, he answers ironically, ‘When one son of a king becomes aphilosopher’; he designates the fiction of the earth-born men as ‘anoble lie’; and when the structure is finally complete, he fairly tellsyou that his Republic is a vision only, which in some sense may have reality,but not in the vulgar one of a reign of philosophers upon earth. It has beensaid that Plato flies as well as walks, but this falls short of the truth; forhe flies and walks at the same time, and is in the air and on firm ground insuccessive instants.

Niebuhr has asked a trifling question, which may be briefly noticed in thisplace—Was Plato a good citizen? If by this is meant, Was he loyal toAthenian institutions?—he can hardly be said to be the friend ofdemocracy: but neither is he the friend of any other existing form ofgovernment; all of them he regarded as ‘states of faction’ (Laws);none attained to his ideal of a voluntary rule over voluntary subjects, whichseems indeed more nearly to describe democracy than any other; and the worst ofthem is tyranny. The truth is, that the question has hardly any meaning whenapplied to a great philosopher whose writings are not meant for a particularage and country, but for all time and all mankind. The decline of Athenianpolitics was probably the motive which led Plato to frame an ideal State, andthe Republic may be regarded as reflecting the departing glory of Hellas. Aswell might we complain of St. Augustine, whose great work ‘The City ofGod’ originated in a similar motive, for not being loyal to the RomanEmpire. Even a nearer parallel might be afforded by the first Christians, whocannot fairly be charged with being bad citizens because, though ‘subjectto the higher powers,’ they were looking forward to a city which is inheaven.

2. The idea of the perfect State is full of paradox when judged of according tothe ordinary notions of mankind. The paradoxes of one age have been said tobecome the commonplaces of the next; but the paradoxes of Plato are at least asparadoxical to us as they were to his contemporaries. The modern world haseither sneered at them as absurd, or denounced them as unnatural and immoral;men have been pleased to find in Aristotle’s criticisms of them theanticipation of their own good sense. The wealthy and cultivated classes havedisliked and also dreaded them; they have pointed with satisfaction to thefailure of efforts to realize them in practice. Yet since they are the thoughtsof one of the greatest of human intelligences, and of one who had done most toelevate morality and religion, they seem to deserve a better treatment at ourhands. We may have to address the public, as Plato does poetry, and assure themthat we mean no harm to existing institutions. There are serious errors whichhave a side of truth and which therefore may fairly demand a carefulconsideration: there are truths mixed with error of which we may indeed say,‘The half is better than the whole.’ Yet ‘the half’ maybe an important contribution to the study of human nature.

(a) The first paradox is the community of goods, which is mentioned slightly atthe end of the third Book, and seemingly, as Aristotle observes, is confined tothe guardians; at least no mention is made of the other classes. But theomission is not of any real significance, and probably arises out of the planof the work, which prevents the writer from entering into details.

Aristotle censures the community of property much in the spirit of modernpolitical economy, as tending to repress industry, and as doing away with thespirit of benevolence. Modern writers almost refuse to consider the subject,which is supposed to have been long ago settled by the common opinion ofmankind. But it must be remembered that the sacredness of property is a notionfar more fixed in modern than in ancient times. The world has grown older, andis therefore more conservative. Primitive society offered many examples of landheld in common, either by a tribe or by a township, and such may probably havebeen the original form of landed tenure. Ancient legislators had inventedvarious modes of dividing and preserving the divisions of land among thecitizens; according to Aristotle there were nations who held the land in commonand divided the produce, and there were others who divided the land and storedthe produce in common. The evils of debt and the inequality of property werefar greater in ancient than in modern times, and the accidents to whichproperty was subject from war, or revolution, or taxation, or other legislativeinterference, were also greater. All these circumstances gave property a lessfixed and sacred character. The early Christians are believed to have heldtheir property in common, and the principle is sanctioned by the words ofChrist himself, and has been maintained as a counsel of perfection in almostall ages of the Church. Nor have there been wanting instances of modernenthusiasts who have made a religion of communism; in every age of religiousexcitement notions like Wycliffe’s ‘inheritance of grace’have tended to prevail. A like spirit, but fiercer and more violent, hasappeared in politics. ‘The preparation of the Gospel of peace’ soonbecomes the red flag of Republicanism.

We can hardly judge what effect Plato’s views would have upon his owncontemporaries; they would perhaps have seemed to them only an exaggeration ofthe Spartan commonwealth. Even modern writers would acknowledge that the rightof private property is based on expediency, and may be interfered with in avariety of ways for the public good. Any other mode of vesting property whichwas found to be more advantageous, would in time acquire the same basis ofright; ‘the most useful,’ in Plato’s words, ‘would bethe most sacred.’ The lawyers and ecclesiastics of former ages would havespoken of property as a sacred institution. But they only meant by suchlanguage to oppose the greatest amount of resistance to any invasion of therights of individuals and of the Church.

When we consider the question, without any fear of immediate application topractice, in the spirit of Plato’s Republic, are we quite sure that thereceived notions of property are the best? Is the distribution of wealth whichis customary in civilized countries the most favourable that can be conceivedfor the education and development of the mass of mankind? Can ‘thespectator of all time and all existence’ be quite convinced that one ortwo thousand years hence, great changes will not have taken place in the rightsof property, or even that the very notion of property, beyond what is necessaryfor personal maintenance, may not have disappeared? This was a distinctionfamiliar to Aristotle, though likely to be laughed at among ourselves. Such achange would not be greater than some other changes through which the world haspassed in the transition from ancient to modern society, for example, theemancipation of the serfs in Russia, or the abolition of slavery in America andthe West Indies; and not so great as the difference which separates the Easternvillage community from the Western world. To accomplish such a revolution inthe course of a few centuries, would imply a rate of progress not more rapidthan has actually taken place during the last fifty or sixty years. The kingdomof Japan underwent more change in five or six years than Europe in five or sixhundred. Many opinions and beliefs which have been cherished among ourselvesquite as strongly as the sacredness of property have passed away; and the mostuntenable propositions respecting the right of bequests or entail have beenmaintained with as much fervour as the most moderate. Some one will be heard toask whether a state of society can be final in which the interests of thousandsare perilled on the life or character of a single person. And many will indulgethe hope that our present condition may, after all, be only transitional, andmay conduct to a higher, in which property, besides ministering to theenjoyment of the few, may also furnish the means of the highest culture to all,and will be a greater benefit to the public generally, and also more under thecontrol of public authority. There may come a time when the saying, ‘HaveI not a right to do what I will with my own?’ will appear to be abarbarous relic of individualism;—when the possession of a part may be agreater blessing to each and all than the possession of the whole is now to anyone.

Such reflections appear visionary to the eye of the practical statesman, butthey are within the range of possibility to the philosopher. He can imaginethat in some distant age or clime, and through the influence of someindividual, the notion of common property may or might have sunk as deep intothe heart of a race, and have become as fixed to them, as private property isto ourselves. He knows that this latter institution is not more than four orfive thousand years old: may not the end revert to the beginning? In our ownage even Utopias affect the spirit of legislation, and an abstract idea mayexercise a great influence on practical politics.

The objections that would be generally urged against Plato’s community ofproperty, are the old ones of Aristotle, that motives for exertion would betaken away, and that disputes would arise when each was dependent upon all.Every man would produce as little and consume as much as he liked. Theexperience of civilized nations has hitherto been adverse to Socialism. Theeffort is too great for human nature; men try to live in common, but thepersonal feeling is always breaking in. On the other hand it may be doubtedwhether our present notions of property are not conventional, for they differin different countries and in different states of society. We boast of anindividualism which is not freedom, but rather an artificial result of theindustrial state of modern Europe. The individual is nominally free, but he isalso powerless in a world bound hand and foot in the chains of economicnecessity. Even if we cannot expect the mass of mankind to becomedisinterested, at any rate we observe in them a power of organization whichfifty years ago would never have been suspected. The same forces which haverevolutionized the political system of Europe, may effect a similar change inthe social and industrial relations of mankind. And if we suppose the influenceof some good as well as neutral motives working in the community, there will beno absurdity in expecting that the mass of mankind having power, and becomingenlightened about the higher possibilities of human life, when they learn howmuch more is attainable for all than is at present the possession of a favouredfew, may pursue the common interest with an intelligence and persistency whichmankind have hitherto never seen.

Now that the world has once been set in motion, and is no longer held fastunder the tyranny of custom and ignorance; now that criticism has pierced theveil of tradition and the past no longer overpowers the present,—theprogress of civilization may be expected to be far greater and swifter thanheretofore. Even at our present rate of speed the point at which we may arrivein two or three generations is beyond the power of imagination to foresee.There are forces in the world which work, not in an arithmetical, but in ageometrical ratio of increase. Education, to use the expression of Plato, moveslike a wheel with an ever-multiplying rapidity. Nor can we say how great may beits influence, when it becomes universal,—when it has been inherited bymany generations,—when it is freed from the trammels of superstition andrightly adapted to the wants and capacities of different classes of men andwomen. Neither do we know how much more the co-operation of minds or of handsmay be capable of accomplishing, whether in labour or in study. The resourcesof the natural sciences are not half-developed as yet; the soil of the earth,instead of growing more barren, may become many times more fertile thanhitherto; the uses of machinery far greater, and also more minute than atpresent. New secrets of physiology may be revealed, deeply affecting humannature in its innermost recesses. The standard of health may be raised and thelives of men prolonged by sanitary and medical knowledge. There may be peace,there may be leisure, there may be innocent refreshments of many kinds. Theever-increasing power of locomotion may join the extremes of earth. There maybe mysterious workings of the human mind, such as occur only at great crises ofhistory. The East and the West may meet together, and all nations maycontribute their thoughts and their experience to the common stock of humanity.Many other elements enter into a speculation of this kind. But it is better tomake an end of them. For such reflections appear to the majority far-fetched,and to men of science, commonplace.

(b) Neither to the mind of Plato nor of Aristotle did the doctrine of communityof property present at all the same difficulty, or appear to be the sameviolation of the common Hellenic sentiment, as the community of wives andchildren. This paradox he prefaces by another proposal, that the occupations ofmen and women shall be the same, and that to this end they shall have a commontraining and education. Male and female animals have the samepursuits—why not also the two sexes of man?

But have we not here fallen into a contradiction? for we were saying thatdifferent natures should have different pursuits. How then can men and womenhave the same? And is not the proposal inconsistent with our notion of thedivision of labour?—These objections are no sooner raised than answered;for, according to Plato, there is no organic difference between men and women,but only the accidental one that men beget and women bear children. Followingthe analogy of the other animals, he contends that all natural gifts arescattered about indifferently among both sexes, though there may be asuperiority of degree on the part of the men. The objection on the score ofdecency to their taking part in the same gymnastic exercises, is met byPlato’s assertion that the existing feeling is a matter of habit.

That Plato should have emancipated himself from the ideas of his own countryand from the example of the East, shows a wonderful independence of mind. He isconscious that women are half the human race, in some respects the moreimportant half (Laws); and for the sake both of men and women he desires toraise the woman to a higher level of existence. He brings, not sentiment, butphilosophy to bear upon a question which both in ancient and modern times hasbeen chiefly regarded in the light of custom or feeling. The Greeks had nobleconceptions of womanhood in the goddesses Athene and Artemis, and in theheroines Antigone and Andromache. But these ideals had no counterpart in actuallife. The Athenian woman was in no way the equal of her husband; she was notthe entertainer of his guests or the mistress of his house, but only hishousekeeper and the mother of his children. She took no part in military orpolitical matters; nor is there any instance in the later ages of Greece of awoman becoming famous in literature. ‘Hers is the greatest glory who hasthe least renown among men,’ is the historian’s conception offeminine excellence. A very different ideal of womanhood is held up by Plato tothe world; she is to be the companion of the man, and to share with him in thetoils of war and in the cares of government. She is to be similarly trainedboth in bodily and mental exercises. She is to lose as far as possible theincidents of maternity and the characteristics of the female sex.

The modern antagonist of the equality of the sexes would argue that thedifferences between men and women are not confined to the single point urged byPlato; that sensibility, gentleness, grace, are the qualities of women, whileenergy, strength, higher intelligence, are to be looked for in men. And thecriticism is just: the differences affect the whole nature, and are not, asPlato supposes, confined to a single point. But neither can we say how farthese differences are due to education and the opinions of mankind, orphysically inherited from the habits and opinions of former generations. Womenhave been always taught, not exactly that they are slaves, but that they are inan inferior position, which is also supposed to have compensating advantages;and to this position they have conformed. It is also true that the physicalform may easily change in the course of generations through the mode of life;and the weakness or delicacy, which was once a matter of opinion, may become aphysical fact. The characteristics of sex vary greatly in different countriesand ranks of society, and at different ages in the same individuals. Plato mayhave been right in denying that there was any ultimate difference in the sexesof man other than that which exists in animals, because all other differencesmay be conceived to disappear in other states of society, or under differentcircumstances of life and training.

The first wave having been passed, we proceed to the second—community ofwives and children. ‘Is it possible? Is it desirable?’ For asGlaucon intimates, and as we far more strongly insist, ‘Great doubts maybe entertained about both these points.’ Any free discussion of thequestion is impossible, and mankind are perhaps right in not allowing theultimate bases of social life to be examined. Few of us can safely enquire intothe things which nature hides, any more than we can dissect our own bodies.Still, the manner in which Plato arrived at his conclusions should beconsidered. For here, as Mr. Grote has remarked, is a wonderful thing, that oneof the wisest and best of men should have entertained ideas of morality whichare wholly at variance with our own. And if we would do Plato justice, we mustexamine carefully the character of his proposals. First, we may observe thatthe relations of the sexes supposed by him are the reverse of licentious: heseems rather to aim at an impossible strictness. Secondly, he conceives thefamily to be the natural enemy of the state; and he entertains the serious hopethat an universal brotherhood may take the place of private interests—anaspiration which, although not justified by experience, has possessed manynoble minds. On the other hand, there is no sentiment or imagination in theconnections which men and women are supposed by him to form; human beingsreturn to the level of the animals, neither exalting to heaven, nor yet abusingthe natural instincts. All that world of poetry and fancy which the passion oflove has called forth in modern literature and romance would have been banishedby Plato. The arrangements of marriage in the Republic are directed to oneobject—the improvement of the race. In successive generations a greatdevelopment both of bodily and mental qualities might be possible. The analogyof animals tends to show that mankind can within certain limits receive achange of nature. And as in animals we should commonly choose the best forbreeding, and destroy the others, so there must be a selection made of thehuman beings whose lives are worthy to be preserved.

We start back horrified from this Platonic ideal, in the belief, first, thatthe higher feelings of humanity are far too strong to be crushed out; secondly,that if the plan could be carried into execution we should be poorlyrecompensed by improvements in the breed for the loss of the best things inlife. The greatest regard for the weakest and meanest of human beings—theinfant, the criminal, the insane, the idiot, truly seems to us one of thenoblest results of Christianity. We have learned, though as yet imperfectly,that the individual man has an endless value in the sight of God, and that wehonour Him when we honour the darkened and disfigured image of Him (Laws). Thisis the lesson which Christ taught in a parable when He said, ‘Theirangels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven.’ Suchlessons are only partially realized in any age; they were foreign to the age ofPlato, as they have very different degrees of strength in different countriesor ages of the Christian world. To the Greek the family was a religious andcustomary institution binding the members together by a tie inferior instrength to that of friendship, and having a less solemn and sacred sound thanthat of country. The relationship which existed on the lower level of custom,Plato imagined that he was raising to the higher level of nature and reason;while from the modern and Christian point of view we regard him as sanctioningmurder and destroying the first principles of morality.

The great error in these and similar speculations is that the differencebetween man and the animals is forgotten in them. The human being is regardedwith the eye of a dog- or bird-fancier, or at best of a slave-owner; the higheror human qualities are left out. The breeder of animals aims chiefly at size orspeed or strength; in a few cases at courage or temper; most often the fitnessof the animal for food is the great desideratum. But mankind are not bred to beeaten, nor yet for their superiority in fighting or in running or in drawingcarts. Neither does the improvement of the human race consist merely in theincrease of the bones and flesh, but in the growth and enlightenment of themind. Hence there must be ‘a marriage of true minds’ as well as ofbodies, of imagination and reason as well as of lusts and instincts. Men andwomen without feeling or imagination are justly called brutes; yet Plato takesaway these qualities and puts nothing in their place, not even the desire of anoble offspring, since parents are not to know their own children. The mostimportant transaction of social life, he who is the idealist philosopherconverts into the most brutal. For the pair are to have no relation to oneanother, except at the hymeneal festival; their children are not theirs, butthe state’s; nor is any tie of affection to unite them. Yet here theanalogy of the animals might have saved Plato from a gigantic error, if he had‘not lost sight of his own illustration.’ For the ‘noblersort of birds and beasts’ nourish and protect their offspring and arefaithful to one another.

An eminent physiologist thinks it worth while ‘to try and place life on aphysical basis.’ But should not life rest on the moral rather than uponthe physical? The higher comes first, then the lower, first the human andrational, afterwards the animal. Yet they are not absolutely divided; and intimes of sickness or moments of self-indulgence they seem to be only differentaspects of a common human nature which includes them both. Neither is the moralthe limit of the physical, but the expansion and enlargement of it,—thehighest form which the physical is capable of receiving. As Plato would say,the body does not take care of the body, and still less of the mind, but themind takes care of both. In all human action not that which is common to manand the animals is the characteristic element, but that which distinguishes himfrom them. Even if we admit the physical basis, and resolve all virtue intohealth of body ‘la facon que notre sang circule,’ still on merelyphysical grounds we must come back to ideas. Mind and reason and duty andconscience, under these or other names, are always reappearing. There cannot behealth of body without health of mind; nor health of mind without the sense ofduty and the love of truth (Charm).

That the greatest of ancient philosophers should in his regulations aboutmarriage have fallen into the error of separating body and mind, does indeedappear surprising. Yet the wonder is not so much that Plato should haveentertained ideas of morality which to our own age are revolting, but that heshould have contradicted himself to an extent which is hardly credible, fallingin an instant from the heaven of idealism into the crudest animalism. Rejoicingin the newly found gift of reflection, he appears to have thought out a subjectabout which he had better have followed the enlightened feeling of his own age.The general sentiment of Hellas was opposed to his monstrous fancy. The oldpoets, and in later time the tragedians, showed no want of respect for thefamily, on which much of their religion was based. But the example of Sparta,and perhaps in some degree the tendency to defy public opinion, seems to havemisled him. He will make one family out of all the families of the state. Hewill select the finest specimens of men and women and breed from these only.

Yet because the illusion is always returning (for the animal part of humannature will from time to time assert itself in the disguise of philosophy aswell as of poetry), and also because any departure from established morality,even where this is not intended, is apt to be unsettling, it may be worth whileto draw out a little more at length the objections to the Platonic marriage. Inthe first place, history shows that wherever polygamy has been largely allowedthe race has deteriorated. One man to one woman is the law of God and nature.Nearly all the civilized peoples of the world at some period before the age ofwritten records, have become monogamists; and the step when once taken hasnever been retraced. The exceptions occurring among Brahmins or Mahometans orthe ancient Persians, are of that sort which may be said to prove the rule. Theconnexions formed between superior and inferior races hardly ever produce anoble offspring, because they are licentious; and because the children in suchcases usually despise the mother and are neglected by the father who is ashamedof them. Barbarous nations when they are introduced by Europeans to vice dieout; polygamist peoples either import and adopt children from other countries,or dwindle in numbers, or both. Dynasties and aristocracies which havedisregarded the laws of nature have decreased in numbers and degenerated instature; ‘mariages de convenance’ leave their enfeebling stamp onthe offspring of them (King Lear). The marriage of near relations, or themarrying in and in of the same family tends constantly to weakness or idiocy inthe children, sometimes assuming the form as they grow older of passionatelicentiousness. The common prostitute rarely has any offspring. By suchunmistakable evidence is the authority of morality asserted in the relations ofthe sexes: and so many more elements enter into this ‘mystery’ thanare dreamed of by Plato and some other philosophers.

Recent enquirers have indeed arrived at the conclusion that among primitivetribes there existed a community of wives as of property, and that the captivetaken by the spear was the only wife or slave whom any man was permitted tocall his own. The partial existence of such customs among some of the lowerraces of man, and the survival of peculiar ceremonies in the marriages of somecivilized nations, are thought to furnish a proof of similar institutionshaving been once universal. There can be no question that the study ofanthropology has considerably changed our views respecting the first appearanceof man upon the earth. We know more about the aborigines of the world thanformerly, but our increasing knowledge shows above all things how little weknow. With all the helps which written monuments afford, we do but faintlyrealize the condition of man two thousand or three thousand years ago. Of whathis condition was when removed to a distance 200,000 or 300,000 years, when themajority of mankind were lower and nearer the animals than any tribe nowexisting upon the earth, we cannot even entertain conjecture. Plato (Laws) andAristotle (Metaph.) may have been more right than we imagine in supposing thatsome forms of civilisation were discovered and lost several times over. If wecannot argue that all barbarism is a degraded civilization, neither can we setany limits to the depth of degradation to which the human race may sink throughwar, disease, or isolation. And if we are to draw inferences about the originof marriage from the practice of barbarous nations, we should also consider theremoter analogy of the animals. Many birds and animals, especially thecarnivorous, have only one mate, and the love and care of offspring which seemsto be natural is inconsistent with the primitive theory of marriage. If we goback to an imaginary state in which men were almost animals and the companionsof them, we have as much right to argue from what is animal to what is human asfrom the barbarous to the civilized man. The record of animal life on the globeis fragmentary,—the connecting links are wanting and cannot be supplied;the record of social life is still more fragmentary and precarious. Even if weadmit that our first ancestors had no such institution as marriage, still thestages by which men passed from outer barbarism to the comparative civilizationof China, Assyria, and Greece, or even of the ancient Germans, are whollyunknown to us.

Such speculations are apt to be unsettling, because they seem to show that aninstitution which was thought to be a revelation from heaven, is only thegrowth of history and experience. We ask what is the origin of marriage, and weare told that like the right of property, after many wars and contests, it hasgradually arisen out of the selfishness of barbarians. We stand face to facewith human nature in its primitive nakedness. We are compelled to accept, notthe highest, but the lowest account of the origin of human society. But on theother hand we may truly say that every step in human progress has been in thesame direction, and that in the course of ages the idea of marriage and of thefamily has been more and more defined and consecrated. The civilized East isimmeasurably in advance of any savage tribes; the Greeks and Romans haveimproved upon the East; the Christian nations have been stricter in their viewsof the marriage relation than any of the ancients. In this as in so many otherthings, instead of looking back with regret to the past, we should look forwardwith hope to the future. We must consecrate that which we believe to be themost holy, and that ‘which is the most holy will be the mostuseful.’ There is more reason for maintaining the sacredness of themarriage tie, when we see the benefit of it, than when we only felt a vaguereligious horror about the violation of it. But in all times of transition,when established beliefs are being undermined, there is a danger that in thepassage from the old to the new we may insensibly let go the moral principle,finding an excuse for listening to the voice of passion in the uncertainty ofknowledge, or the fluctuations of opinion. And there are many persons in ourown day who, enlightened by the study of anthropology, and fascinated by whatis new and strange, some using the language of fear, others of hope, areinclined to believe that a time will come when through the self-assertion ofwomen, or the rebellious spirit of children, by the analysis of humanrelations, or by the force of outward circumstances, the ties of family lifemay be broken or greatly relaxed. They point to societies in America andelsewhere which tend to show that the destruction of the family need notnecessarily involve the overthrow of all morality. Wherever we may think ofsuch speculations, we can hardly deny that they have been more rife in thisgeneration than in any other; and whither they are tending, who can predict?

To the doubts and queries raised by these ‘social reformers’respecting the relation of the sexes and the moral nature of man, there is asufficient answer, if any is needed. The difference about them and us is reallyone of fact. They are speaking of man as they wish or fancy him to be, but weare speaking of him as he is. They isolate the animal part of his nature; weregard him as a creature having many sides, or aspects, moving between good andevil, striving to rise above himself and to become ‘a little lower thanthe angels.’ We also, to use a Platonic formula, are not ignorant of thedissatisfactions and incompatibilities of family life, of the meannesses oftrade, of the flatteries of one class of society by another, of the impedimentswhich the family throws in the way of lofty aims and aspirations. But we areconscious that there are evils and dangers in the background greater still,which are not appreciated, because they are either concealed or suppressed.What a condition of man would that be, in which human passions were controlledby no authority, divine or human, in which there was no shame or decency, nohigher affection overcoming or sanctifying the natural instincts, but simply arule of health! Is it for this that we are asked to throw away the civilizationwhich is the growth of ages?

For strength and health are not the only qualities to be desired; there are themore important considerations of mind and character and soul. We know how humannature may be degraded; we do not know how by artificial means any improvementin the breed can be effected. The problem is a complex one, for if we go backonly four steps (and these at least enter into the composition of a child),there are commonly thirty progenitors to be taken into account. Many curiousfacts, rarely admitting of proof, are told us respecting the inheritance ofdisease or character from a remote ancestor. We can trace the physicalresemblances of parents and children in the same family—

‘Sic oculos, sic ille manus, sic ora ferebat’;

but scarcely less often the differences which distinguish children both fromtheir parents and from one another. We are told of similar mental peculiaritiesrunning in families, and again of a tendency, as in the animals, to revert to acommon or original stock. But we have a difficulty in distinguishing what is atrue inheritance of genius or other qualities, and what is mere imitation orthe result of similar circumstances. Great men and great women have rarely hadgreat fathers and mothers. Nothing that we know of in the circumstances oftheir birth or lineage will explain their appearance. Of the English poets ofthe last and two preceding centuries scarcely a descendant remains,—nonehave ever been distinguished. So deeply has nature hidden her secret, and soridiculous is the fancy which has been entertained by some that we might intime by suitable marriage arrangements or, as Plato would have said, ‘byan ingenious system of lots,’ produce a Shakespeare or a Milton. Evensupposing that we could breed men having the tenacity of bulldogs, or, like theSpartans, ‘lacking the wit to run away in battle,’ would the worldbe any the better? Many of the noblest specimens of the human race have beenamong the weakest physically. Tyrtaeus or Aesop, or our own Newton, would havebeen exposed at Sparta; and some of the fairest and strongest men and womenhave been among the wickedest and worst. Not by the Platonic device of unitingthe strong and fair with the strong and fair, regardless of sentiment andmorality, nor yet by his other device of combining dissimilar natures(Statesman), have mankind gradually passed from the brutality andlicentiousness of primitive marriage to marriage Christian and civilized.

Few persons would deny that we bring into the world an inheritance of mentaland physical qualities derived first from our parents, or through them fromsome remoter ancestor, secondly from our race, thirdly from the generalcondition of mankind into which we are born. Nothing is commoner than theremark, that ‘So and so is like his father or his uncle’; and anaged person may not unfrequently note a resemblance in a youth to along-forgotten ancestor, observing that ‘Nature sometimes skips ageneration.’ It may be true also, that if we knew more about ourancestors, these similarities would be even more striking to us. Admitting thefacts which are thus described in a popular way, we may however remark thatthere is no method of difference by which they can be defined or estimated, andthat they constitute only a small part of each individual. The doctrine ofheredity may seem to take out of our hands the conduct of our own lives, but itis the idea, not the fact, which is really terrible to us. For what we havereceived from our ancestors is only a fraction of what we are, or may become.The knowledge that drunkenness or insanity has been prevalent in a family maybe the best safeguard against their recurrence in a future generation. Theparent will be most awake to the vices or diseases in his child of which he ismost sensible within himself. The whole of life may be directed to theirprevention or cure. The traces of consumption may become fainter, or be whollyeffaced: the inherent tendency to vice or crime may be eradicated. And soheredity, from being a curse, may become a blessing. We acknowledge that in thematter of our birth, as in our nature generally, there are previouscircumstances which affect us. But upon this platform of circumstances orwithin this wall of necessity, we have still the power of creating a life forourselves by the informing energy of the human will.

There is another aspect of the marriage question to which Plato is a stranger.All the children born in his state are foundlings. It never occurred to himthat the greater part of them, according to universal experience, would haveperished. For children can only be brought up in families. There is a subtlesympathy between the mother and the child which cannot be supplied by othermothers, or by ‘strong nurses one or more’ (Laws). If Plato’s‘pen’ was as fatal as the Creches of Paris, or the foundlinghospital of Dublin, more than nine-tenths of his children would have perished.There would have been no need to expose or put out of the way the weaklierchildren, for they would have died of themselves. So emphatically does natureprotest against the destruction of the family.

What Plato had heard or seen of Sparta was applied by him in a mistaken way tohis ideal commonwealth. He probably observed that both the Spartan men andwomen were superior in form and strength to the other Greeks; and thissuperiority he was disposed to attribute to the laws and customs relating tomarriage. He did not consider that the desire of a noble offspring was apassion among the Spartans, or that their physical superiority was to beattributed chiefly, not to their marriage customs, but to their temperance andtraining. He did not reflect that Sparta was great, not in consequence of therelaxation of morality, but in spite of it, by virtue of a political principlestronger far than existed in any other Grecian state. Least of all did heobserve that Sparta did not really produce the finest specimens of the Greekrace. The genius, the political inspiration of Athens, the love ofliberty—all that has made Greece famous with posterity, were wantingamong the Spartans. They had no Themistocles, or Pericles, or Aeschylus, orSophocles, or Socrates, or Plato. The individual was not allowed to appearabove the state; the laws were fixed, and he had no business to alter or reformthem. Yet whence has the progress of cities and nations arisen, if not fromremarkable individuals, coming into the world we know not how, and from causesover which we have no control? Something too much may have been said in moderntimes of the value of individuality. But we can hardly condemn too strongly asystem which, instead of fostering the scattered seeds or sparks of genius andcharacter, tends to smother and extinguish them.

Still, while condemning Plato, we must acknowledge that neither Christianity,nor any other form of religion and society, has hitherto been able to cope withthis most difficult of social problems, and that the side from which Platoregarded it is that from which we turn away. Population is the most untameableforce in the political and social world. Do we not find, especially in largecities, that the greatest hindrance to the amelioration of the poor is theirimprovidence in marriage?—a small fault truly, if not involving endlessconsequences. There are whole countries too, such as India, or, nearer home,Ireland, in which a right solution of the marriage question seems to lie at thefoundation of the happiness of the community. There are too many people on agiven space, or they marry too early and bring into the world a sickly andhalf-developed offspring; or owing to the very conditions of their existence,they become emaciated and hand on a similar life to their descendants. But whocan oppose the voice of prudence to the ‘mightiest passions ofmankind’ (Laws), especially when they have been licensed by custom andreligion? In addition to the influences of education, we seem to require somenew principles of right and wrong in these matters, some force of opinion,which may indeed be already heard whispering in private, but has never affectedthe moral sentiments of mankind in general. We unavoidably lose sight of theprinciple of utility, just in that action of our lives in which we have themost need of it. The influences which we can bring to bear upon this questionare chiefly indirect. In a generation or two, education, emigration,improvements in agriculture and manufactures, may have provided the solution.The state physician hardly likes to probe the wound: it is beyond his art; amatter which he cannot safely let alone, but which he dare not touch:

‘We do but skin and film the ulcerous place.’

When again in private life we see a whole family one by one dropping into thegrave under the Ate of some inherited malady, and the parents perhaps survivingthem, do our minds ever go back silently to that day twenty-five or thirtyyears before on which under the fairest auspices, amid the rejoicings offriends and acquaintances, a bride and bridegroom joined hands with oneanother? In making such a reflection we are not opposing physicalconsiderations to moral, but moral to physical; we are seeking to make thevoice of reason heard, which drives us back from the extravagance ofsentimentalism on common sense. The late Dr. Combe is said by his biographer tohave resisted the temptation to marriage, because he knew that he was subjectto hereditary consumption. One who deserved to be called a man of genius, afriend of my youth, was in the habit of wearing a black ribbon on his wrist, inorder to remind him that, being liable to outbreaks of insanity, he must notgive way to the natural impulses of affection: he died unmarried in a lunaticasylum. These two little facts suggest the reflection that a very few personshave done from a sense of duty what the rest of mankind ought to have doneunder like circumstances, if they had allowed themselves to think of all themisery which they were about to bring into the world. If we could prevent suchmarriages without any violation of feeling or propriety, we clearly ought; andthe prohibition in the course of time would be protected by a ‘horrornaturalis’ similar to that which, in all civilized ages and countries,has prevented the marriage of near relations by blood. Mankind would have beenthe happier, if some things which are now allowed had from the beginning beendenied to them; if the sanction of religion could have prohibited practicesinimical to health; if sanitary principles could in early ages have beeninvested with a superstitious awe. But, living as we do far on in theworld’s history, we are no longer able to stamp at once with the impressof religion a new prohibition. A free agent cannot have his fancies regulatedby law; and the execution of the law would be rendered impossible, owing to theuncertainty of the cases in which marriage was to be forbidden. Who can weighvirtue, or even fortune against health, or moral and mental qualities againstbodily? Who can measure probabilities against certainties? There has been somegood as well as evil in the discipline of suffering; and there are diseases,such as consumption, which have exercised a refining and softening influence onthe character. Youth is too inexperienced to balance such nice considerations;parents do not often think of them, or think of them too late. They are at adistance and may probably be averted; change of place, a new state of life, theinterests of a home may be the cure of them. So persons vainly reason whentheir minds are already made up and their fortunes irrevocably linked together.Nor is there any ground for supposing that marriages are to any great extentinfluenced by reflections of this sort, which seem unable to make any headagainst the irresistible impulse of individual attachment.

Lastly, no one can have observed the first rising flood of the passions inyouth, the difficulty of regulating them, and the effects on the whole mind andnature which follow from them, the stimulus which is given to them by theimagination, without feeling that there is something unsatisfactory in ourmethod of treating them. That the most important influence on human life shouldbe wholly left to chance or shrouded in mystery, and instead of beingdisciplined or understood, should be required to conform only to an externalstandard of propriety—cannot be regarded by the philosopher as a safe orsatisfactory condition of human things. And still those who have the charge ofyouth may find a way by watchfulness, by affection, by the manliness andinnocence of their own lives, by occasional hints, by general admonitions whichevery one can apply for himself, to mitigate this terrible evil which eats outthe heart of individuals and corrupts the moral sentiments of nations. In noduty towards others is there more need of reticence and self-restraint. Sogreat is the danger lest he who would be the counsellor of another shouldreveal the secret prematurely, lest he should get another too much into hispower; or fix the passing impression of evil by demanding the confession of it.

Nor is Plato wrong in asserting that family attachments may interfere withhigher aims. If there have been some who ‘to party gave up what was meantfor mankind,’ there have certainly been others who to family gave up whatwas meant for mankind or for their country. The cares of children, thenecessity of procuring money for their support, the flatteries of the rich bythe poor, the exclusiveness of caste, the pride of birth or wealth, thetendency of family life to divert men from the pursuit of the ideal or theheroic, are as lowering in our own age as in that of Plato. And if we prefer tolook at the gentle influences of home, the development of the affections, theamenities of society, the devotion of one member of a family for the good ofthe others, which form one side of the picture, we must not quarrel with him,or perhaps ought rather to be grateful to him, for having presented to us thereverse. Without attempting to defend Plato on grounds of morality, we mayallow that there is an aspect of the world which has not unnaturally led himinto error.

We hardly appreciate the power which the idea of the State, like all otherabstract ideas, exercised over the mind of Plato. To us the State seems to bebuilt up out of the family, or sometimes to be the framework in which familyand social life is contained. But to Plato in his present mood of mind thefamily is only a disturbing influence which, instead of filling up, tends todisarrange the higher unity of the State. No organization is needed except apolitical, which, regarded from another point of view, is a military one. TheState is all-sufficing for the wants of man, and, like the idea of the Churchin later ages, absorbs all other desires and affections. In time of war thethousand citizens are to stand like a rampart impregnable against the world orthe Persian host; in time of peace the preparation for war and their duties tothe State, which are also their duties to one another, take up their whole lifeand time. The only other interest which is allowed to them besides that of war,is the interest of philosophy. When they are too old to be soldiers they are toretire from active life and to have a second novitiate of study andcontemplation. There is an element of monasticism even in Plato’scommunism. If he could have done without children, he might have converted hisRepublic into a religious order. Neither in the Laws, when the daylight ofcommon sense breaks in upon him, does he retract his error. In the state ofwhich he would be the founder, there is no marrying or giving in marriage: butbecause of the infirmity of mankind, he condescends to allow the law of natureto prevail.

(c) But Plato has an equal, or, in his own estimation, even greater paradox inreserve, which is summed up in the famous text, ‘Until kings arephilosophers or philosophers are kings, cities will never cease fromill.’ And by philosophers he explains himself to mean those who arecapable of apprehending ideas, especially the idea of good. To the attainmentof this higher knowledge the second education is directed. Through a process oftraining which has already made them good citizens they are now to be made goodlegislators. We find with some surprise (not unlike the feeling which Aristotlein a well-known passage describes the hearers of Plato’s lectures asexperiencing, when they went to a discourse on the idea of good, expecting tobe instructed in moral truths, and received instead of them arithmetical andmathematical formulae) that Plato does not propose for his future legislatorsany study of finance or law or military tactics, but only of abstractmathematics, as a preparation for the still more abstract conception of good.We ask, with Aristotle, What is the use of a man knowing the idea of good, ifhe does not know what is good for this individual, this state, this conditionof society? We cannot understand how Plato’s legislators or guardians areto be fitted for their work of statesmen by the study of the five mathematicalsciences. We vainly search in Plato’s own writings for any explanation ofthis seeming absurdity.

The discovery of a great metaphysical conception seems to ravish the mind witha prophetic consciousness which takes away the power of estimating its value.No metaphysical enquirer has ever fairly criticised his own speculations; inhis own judgment they have been above criticism; nor has he understood thatwhat to him seemed to be absolute truth may reappear in the next generation asa form of logic or an instrument of thought. And posterity have also sometimesequally misapprehended the real value of his speculations. They appear to themto have contributed nothing to the stock of human knowledge. The IDEA of goodis apt to be regarded by the modern thinker as an unmeaning abstraction; but heforgets that this abstraction is waiting ready for use, and will hereafter befilled up by the divisions of knowledge. When mankind do not as yet know thatthe world is subject to law, the introduction of the mere conception of law ordesign or final cause, and the far-off anticipation of the harmony ofknowledge, are great steps onward. Even the crude generalization of the unityof all things leads men to view the world with different eyes, and may easilyaffect their conception of human life and of politics, and also their ownconduct and character (Tim). We can imagine how a great mind like that ofPericles might derive elevation from his intercourse with Anaxagoras (Phaedr.).To be struggling towards a higher but unattainable conception is a morefavourable intellectual condition than to rest satisfied in a narrow portion ofascertained fact. And the earlier, which have sometimes been the greater ideasof science, are often lost sight of at a later period. How rarely can we say ofany modern enquirer in the magnificent language of Plato, that ‘He is thespectator of all time and of all existence!’

Nor is there anything unnatural in the hasty application of these vastmetaphysical conceptions to practical and political life. In the firstenthusiasm of ideas men are apt to see them everywhere, and to apply them inthe most remote sphere. They do not understand that the experience of ages isrequired to enable them to fill up ‘the intermediate axioms.’ Platohimself seems to have imagined that the truths of psychology, like those ofastronomy and harmonics, would be arrived at by a process of deduction, andthat the method which he has pursued in the Fourth Book, of inferring them fromexperience and the use of language, was imperfect and only provisional. Butwhen, after having arrived at the idea of good, which is the end of the scienceof dialectic, he is asked, What is the nature, and what are the divisions ofthe science? He refuses to answer, as if intending by the refusal to intimatethat the state of knowledge which then existed was not such as would allow thephilosopher to enter into his final rest. The previous sciences must first bestudied, and will, we may add, continue to be studied tell the end of time,although in a sense different from any which Plato could have conceived. But wemay observe, that while he is aware of the vacancy of his own ideal, he is fullof enthusiasm in the contemplation of it. Looking into the orb of light, hesees nothing, but he is warmed and elevated. The Hebrew prophet believed thatfaith in God would enable him to govern the world; the Greek philosopherimagined that contemplation of the good would make a legislator. There is asmuch to be filled up in the one case as in the other, and the one mode ofconception is to the Israelite what the other is to the Greek. Both find arepose in a divine perfection, which, whether in a more personal or impersonalform, exists without them and independently of them, as well as within them.

There is no mention of the idea of good in the Timaeus, nor of the divineCreator of the world in the Republic; and we are naturally led to ask in whatrelation they stand to one another. Is God above or below the idea of good? Oris the Idea of Good another mode of conceiving God? The latter appears to bethe truer answer. To the Greek philosopher the perfection and unity of God wasa far higher conception than his personality, which he hardly found a word toexpress, and which to him would have seemed to be borrowed from mythology. Tothe Christian, on the other hand, or to the modern thinker in general, it isdifficult, if not impossible, to attach reality to what he terms mereabstraction; while to Plato this very abstraction is the truest and most realof all things. Hence, from a difference in forms of thought, Plato appears tobe resting on a creation of his own mind only. But if we may be allowed toparaphrase the idea of good by the words ‘intelligent principle of lawand order in the universe, embracing equally man and nature,’ we begin tofind a meeting-point between him and ourselves.

The question whether the ruler or statesman should be a philosopher is one thathas not lost interest in modern times. In most countries of Europe and Asiathere has been some one in the course of ages who has truly united the power ofcommand with the power of thought and reflection, as there have been also manyfalse combinations of these qualities. Some kind of speculative power isnecessary both in practical and political life; like the rhetorician in thePhaedrus, men require to have a conception of the varieties of human character,and to be raised on great occasions above the commonplaces of ordinary life.Yet the idea of the philosopher-statesman has never been popular with the massof mankind; partly because he cannot take the world into his confidence or makethem understand the motives from which he acts; and also because they arejealous of a power which they do not understand. The revolution which humannature desires to effect step by step in many ages is likely to be precipitatedby him in a single year or life. They are afraid that in the pursuit of hisgreater aims he may disregard the common feelings of humanity, he is too apt tobe looking into the distant future or back into the remote past, and unable tosee actions or events which, to use an expression of Plato’s ‘aretumbling out at his feet.’ Besides, as Plato would say, there are othercorruptions of these philosophical statesmen. Either ‘the native hue ofresolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,’ and atthe moment when action above all things is required he is undecided, or generalprinciples are enunciated by him in order to cover some change of policy; orhis ignorance of the world has made him more easily fall a prey to the arts ofothers; or in some cases he has been converted into a courtier, who enjoys theluxury of holding liberal opinions, but was never known to perform a liberalaction. No wonder that mankind have been in the habit of calling statesmen ofthis class pedants, sophisters, doctrinaires, visionaries. For, as we may beallowed to say, a little parodying the words of Plato, ‘they have seenbad imitations of the philosopher-statesman.’ But a man in whom the powerof thought and action are perfectly balanced, equal to the present, reachingforward to the future, ‘such a one,’ ruling in a constitutionalstate, ‘they have never seen.’

But as the philosopher is apt to fail in the routine of political life, so theordinary statesman is also apt to fail in extraordinary crises. When the faceof the world is beginning to alter, and thunder is heard in the distance, he isstill guided by his old maxims, and is the slave of his inveterate partyprejudices; he cannot perceive the signs of the times; instead of lookingforward he looks back; he learns nothing and forgets nothing; with ‘wisesaws and modern instances’ he would stem the rising tide of revolution.He lives more and more within the circle of his own party, as the world withouthim becomes stronger. This seems to be the reason why the old order of thingsmakes so poor a figure when confronted with the new, why churches can neverreform, why most political changes are made blindly and convulsively. The greatcrises in the history of nations have often been met by an ecclesiasticalpositiveness, and a more obstinate reassertion of principles which have losttheir hold upon a nation. The fixed ideas of a reactionary statesman may becompared to madness; they grow upon him, and he becomes possessed by them; nojudgement of others is ever admitted by him to be weighed in the balanceagainst his own.

(d) Plato, labouring under what, to modern readers, appears to have been aconfusion of ideas, assimilates the state to the individual, and fails todistinguish Ethics from Politics. He thinks that to be most of a state which ismost like one man, and in which the citizens have the greatest uniformity ofcharacter. He does not see that the analogy is partly fallacious, and that thewill or character of a state or nation is really the balance or rather thesurplus of individual wills, which are limited by the condition of having toact in common. The movement of a body of men can never have the pliancy orfacility of a single man; the freedom of the individual, which is alwayslimited, becomes still more straitened when transferred to a nation. The powersof action and feeling are necessarily weaker and more balanced when they arediffused through a community; whence arises the often discussed question,‘Can a nation, like an individual, have a conscience?’ We hesitateto say that the characters of nations are nothing more than the sum of thecharacters of the individuals who compose them; because there may be tendenciesin individuals which react upon one another. A whole nation may be wiser thanany one man in it; or may be animated by some common opinion or feeling whichcould not equally have affected the mind of a single person, or may have beeninspired by a leader of genius to perform acts more than human. Plato does notappear to have analysed the complications which arise out of the collectiveaction of mankind. Neither is he capable of seeing that analogies, thoughspecious as arguments, may often have no foundation in fact, or ofdistinguishing between what is intelligible or vividly present to the mind, andwhat is true. In this respect he is far below Aristotle, who is comparativelyseldom imposed upon by false analogies. He cannot disentangle the arts from thevirtues—at least he is always arguing from one to the other. His notionof music is transferred from harmony of sounds to harmony of life: in this heis assisted by the ambiguities of language as well as by the prevalence ofPythagorean notions. And having once assimilated the state to the individual,he imagines that he will find the succession of states paralleled in the livesof individuals.

Still, through this fallacious medium, a real enlargement of ideas is attained.When the virtues as yet presented no distinct conception to the mind, a greatadvance was made by the comparison of them with the arts; for virtue is partlyart, and has an outward form as well as an inward principle. The harmony ofmusic affords a lively image of the harmonies of the world and of human life,and may be regarded as a splendid illustration which was naturally mistaken fora real analogy. In the same way the identification of ethics with politics hasa tendency to give definiteness to ethics, and also to elevate and ennoblemen’s notions of the aims of government and of the duties of citizens;for ethics from one point of view may be conceived as an idealized law andpolitics; and politics, as ethics reduced to the conditions of human society.There have been evils which have arisen out of the attempt to identify them,and this has led to the separation or antagonism of them, which has beenintroduced by modern political writers. But we may likewise feel that somethinghas been lost in their separation, and that the ancient philosophers whoestimated the moral and intellectual wellbeing of mankind first, and the wealthof nations and individuals second, may have a salutary influence on thespeculations of modern times. Many political maxims originate in a reactionagainst an opposite error; and when the errors against which they were directedhave passed away, they in turn become errors.

3. Plato’s views of education are in several respects remarkable; likethe rest of the Republic they are partly Greek and partly ideal, beginning withthe ordinary curriculum of the Greek youth, and extending to after-life. Platois the first writer who distinctly says that education is to comprehend thewhole of life, and to be a preparation for another in which education beginsagain. This is the continuous thread which runs through the Republic, and whichmore than any other of his ideas admits of an application to modern life.

He has long given up the notion that virtue cannot be taught; and he isdisposed to modify the thesis of the Protagoras, that the virtues are one andnot many. He is not unwilling to admit the sensible world into his scheme oftruth. Nor does he assert in the Republic the involuntariness of vice, which ismaintained by him in the Timaeus, Sophist, and Laws (Protag., Apol., Gorg.).Nor do the so-called Platonic ideas recovered from a former state of existenceaffect his theory of mental improvement. Still we observe in him the remains ofthe old Socratic doctrine, that true knowledge must be elicited from within,and is to be sought for in ideas, not in particulars of sense. Education, as hesays, will implant a principle of intelligence which is better than tenthousand eyes. The paradox that the virtues are one, and the kindred notionthat all virtue is knowledge, are not entirely renounced; the first is seen inthe supremacy given to justice over the rest; the second in the tendency toabsorb the moral virtues in the intellectual, and to centre all goodness in thecontemplation of the idea of good. The world of sense is still depreciated andidentified with opinion, though admitted to be a shadow of the true. In theRepublic he is evidently impressed with the conviction that vice arises chieflyfrom ignorance and may be cured by education; the multitude are hardly to bedeemed responsible for what they do. A faint allusion to the doctrine ofreminiscence occurs in the Tenth Book; but Plato’s views of educationhave no more real connection with a previous state of existence than our own;he only proposes to elicit from the mind that which is there already. Educationis represented by him, not as the filling of a vessel, but as the turning theeye of the soul towards the light.

He treats first of music or literature, which he divides into true and false,and then goes on to gymnastics; of infancy in the Republic he takes no notice,though in the Laws he gives sage counsels about the nursing of children and themanagement of the mothers, and would have an education which is even prior tobirth. But in the Republic he begins with the age at which the child is capableof receiving ideas, and boldly asserts, in language which sounds paradoxical tomodern ears, that he must be taught the false before he can learn the true. Themodern and ancient philosophical world are not agreed about truth andfalsehood; the one identifies truth almost exclusively with fact, the otherwith ideas. This is the difference between ourselves and Plato, which is,however, partly a difference of words. For we too should admit that a childmust receive many lessons which he imperfectly understands; he must be taughtsome things in a figure only, some too which he can hardly be expected tobelieve when he grows older; but we should limit the use of fiction by thenecessity of the case. Plato would draw the line differently; according to himthe aim of early education is not truth as a matter of fact, but truth as amatter of principle; the child is to be taught first simple religious truths,and then simple moral truths, and insensibly to learn the lesson of goodmanners and good taste. He would make an entire reformation of the oldmythology; like Xenophanes and Heracleitus he is sensible of the deep chasmwhich separates his own age from Homer and Hesiod, whom he quotes and investswith an imaginary authority, but only for his own purposes. The lusts andtreacheries of the gods are to be banished; the terrors of the world below areto be dispelled; the misbehaviour of the Homeric heroes is not to be a modelfor youth. But there is another strain heard in Homer which may teach our youthendurance; and something may be learnt in medicine from the simple practice ofthe Homeric age. The principles on which religion is to be based are two only:first, that God is true; secondly, that he is good. Modern and Christianwriters have often fallen short of these; they can hardly be said to have gonebeyond them.

The young are to be brought up in happy surroundings, out of the way of sightsor sounds which may hurt the character or vitiate the taste. They are to livein an atmosphere of health; the breeze is always to be wafting to them theimpressions of truth and goodness. Could such an education be realized, or ifour modern religious education could be bound up with truth and virtue and goodmanners and good taste, that would be the best hope of human improvement.Plato, like ourselves, is looking forward to changes in the moral and religiousworld, and is preparing for them. He recognizes the danger of unsettling youngmen’s minds by sudden changes of laws and principles, by destroying thesacredness of one set of ideas when there is nothing else to take their place.He is afraid too of the influence of the drama, on the ground that itencourages false sentiment, and therefore he would not have his children takento the theatre; he thinks that the effect on the spectators is bad, and on theactors still worse. His idea of education is that of harmonious growth, inwhich are insensibly learnt the lessons of temperance and endurance, and thebody and mind develope in equal proportions. The first principle which runsthrough all art and nature is simplicity; this also is to be the rule of humanlife.

The second stage of education is gymnastic, which answers to the period ofmuscular growth and development. The simplicity which is enforced in music isextended to gymnastic; Plato is aware that the training of the body may beinconsistent with the training of the mind, and that bodily exercise may beeasily overdone. Excessive training of the body is apt to give men a headacheor to render them sleepy at a lecture on philosophy, and this they attributenot to the true cause, but to the nature of the subject. Two points arenoticeable in Plato’s treatment of gymnastic:—First, that the timeof training is entirely separated from the time of literary education. He seemsto have thought that two things of an opposite and different nature could notbe learnt at the same time. Here we can hardly agree with him; and, if we mayjudge by experience, the effect of spending three years between the ages offourteen and seventeen in mere bodily exercise would be far from improving tothe intellect. Secondly, he affirms that music and gymnastic are not, as commonopinion is apt to imagine, intended, the one for the cultivation of the mindand the other of the body, but that they are both equally designed for theimprovement of the mind. The body, in his view, is the servant of the mind; thesubjection of the lower to the higher is for the advantage of both. Anddoubtless the mind may exercise a very great and paramount influence over thebody, if exerted not at particular moments and by fits and starts, butcontinuously, in making preparation for the whole of life. Other Greek writerssaw the mischievous tendency of Spartan discipline (Arist. Pol; Thuc.). Butonly Plato recognized the fundamental error on which the practice was based.

The subject of gymnastic leads Plato to the sister subject of medicine, whichhe further illustrates by the parallel of law. The modern disbelief in medicinehas led in this, as in some other departments of knowledge, to a demand forgreater simplicity; physicians are becoming aware that they often make diseases‘greater and more complicated’ by their treatment of them (Rep.).In two thousand years their art has made but slender progress; what they havegained in the analysis of the parts is in a great degree lost by their feeblerconception of the human frame as a whole. They have attended more to the cureof diseases than to the conditions of health; and the improvements in medicinehave been more than counterbalanced by the disuse of regular training. Untillately they have hardly thought of air and water, the importance of which waswell understood by the ancients; as Aristotle remarks, ‘Air and water,being the elements which we most use, have the greatest effect uponhealth’ (Polit.). For ages physicians have been under the dominion ofprejudices which have only recently given way; and now there are as manyopinions in medicine as in theology, and an equal degree of scepticism and somewant of toleration about both. Plato has several good notions about medicine;according to him, ‘the eye cannot be cured without the rest of the body,nor the body without the mind’ (Charm.). No man of sense, he says in theTimaeus, would take physic; and we heartily sympathize with him in the Lawswhen he declares that ‘the limbs of the rustic worn with toil will derivemore benefit from warm baths than from the prescriptions of a not over wisedoctor.’ But we can hardly praise him when, in obedience to the authorityof Homer, he depreciates diet, or approve of the inhuman spirit in which hewould get rid of invalid and useless lives by leaving them to die. He does notseem to have considered that the ‘bridle of Theages’ might beaccompanied by qualities which were of far more value to the State than thehealth or strength of the citizens; or that the duty of taking care of thehelpless might be an important element of education in a State. The physicianhimself (this is a delicate and subtle observation) should not be a man inrobust health; he should have, in modern phraseology, a nervous temperament; heshould have experience of disease in his own person, in order that his powersof observation may be quickened in the case of others.

The perplexity of medicine is paralleled by the perplexity of law; in which,again, Plato would have men follow the golden rule of simplicity. Greatermatters are to be determined by the legislator or by the oracle of Delphi,lesser matters are to be left to the temporary regulation of the citizensthemselves. Plato is aware that laissez faire is an important element ofgovernment. The diseases of a State are like the heads of a hydra; theymultiply when they are cut off. The true remedy for them is not extirpation butprevention. And the way to prevent them is to take care of education, andeducation will take care of all the rest. So in modern times men have oftenfelt that the only political measure worth having—the only one whichwould produce any certain or lasting effect, was a measure of nationaleducation. And in our own more than in any previous age the necessity has beenrecognized of restoring the ever-increasing confusion of law to simplicity andcommon sense.

When the training in music and gymnastic is completed, there follows the firststage of active and public life. But soon education is to begin again from anew point of view. In the interval between the Fourth and Seventh Books we havediscussed the nature of knowledge, and have thence been led to form a higherconception of what was required of us. For true knowledge, according to Plato,is of abstractions, and has to do, not with particulars or individuals, butwith universals only; not with the beauties of poetry, but with the ideas ofphilosophy. And the great aim of education is the cultivation of the habit ofabstraction. This is to be acquired through the study of the mathematicalsciences. They alone are capable of giving ideas of relation, and of arousingthe dormant energies of thought.

Mathematics in the age of Plato comprehended a very small part of that which isnow included in them; but they bore a much larger proportion to the sum ofhuman knowledge. They were the only organon of thought which the human mind atthat time possessed, and the only measure by which the chaos of particularscould be reduced to rule and order. The faculty which they trained wasnaturally at war with the poetical or imaginative; and hence to Plato, who iseverywhere seeking for abstractions and trying to get rid of the illusions ofsense, nearly the whole of education is contained in them. They seemed to havean inexhaustible application, partly because their true limits were not yetunderstood. These Plato himself is beginning to investigate; though not awarethat number and figure are mere abstractions of sense, he recognizes that theforms used by geometry are borrowed from the sensible world. He seeks to findthe ultimate ground of mathematical ideas in the idea of good, though he doesnot satisfactorily explain the connexion between them; and in his conception ofthe relation of ideas to numbers, he falls very far short of the definitenessattributed to him by Aristotle (Met.). But if he fails to recognize the truelimits of mathematics, he also reaches a point beyond them; in his view, ideasof number become secondary to a higher conception of knowledge. Thedialectician is as much above the mathematician as the mathematician is abovethe ordinary man. The one, the self-proving, the good which is the highersphere of dialectic, is the perfect truth to which all things ascend, and inwhich they finally repose.

This self-proving unity or idea of good is a mere vision of which no distinctexplanation can be given, relative only to a particular stage in Greekphilosophy. It is an abstraction under which no individuals are comprehended, awhole which has no parts (Arist., Nic. Eth.). The vacancy of such a form wasperceived by Aristotle, but not by Plato. Nor did he recognize that in thedialectical process are included two or more methods of investigation which areat variance with each other. He did not see that whether he took the longer orthe shorter road, no advance could be made in this way. And yet such visionsoften have an immense effect; for although the method of science cannotanticipate science, the idea of science, not as it is, but as it will be in thefuture, is a great and inspiring principle. In the pursuit of knowledge we arealways pressing forward to something beyond us; and as a false conception ofknowledge, for example the scholastic philosophy, may lead men astray duringmany ages, so the true ideal, though vacant, may draw all their thoughts in aright direction. It makes a great difference whether the general expectation ofknowledge, as this indefinite feeling may be termed, is based upon a soundjudgment. For mankind may often entertain a true conception of what knowledgeought to be when they have but a slender experience of facts. The correlationof the sciences, the consciousness of the unity of nature, the idea ofclassification, the sense of proportion, the unwillingness to stop short ofcertainty or to confound probability with truth, are important principles ofthe higher education. Although Plato could tell us nothing, and perhaps knewthat he could tell us nothing, of the absolute truth, he has exercised aninfluence on the human mind which even at the present day is not exhausted; andpolitical and social questions may yet arise in which the thoughts of Plato maybe read anew and receive a fresh meaning.

The Idea of good is so called only in the Republic, but there are traces of itin other dialogues of Plato. It is a cause as well as an idea, and from thispoint of view may be compared with the creator of the Timaeus, who out of hisgoodness created all things. It corresponds to a certain extent with the modernconception of a law of nature, or of a final cause, or of both in one, and inthis regard may be connected with the measure and symmetry of the Philebus. Itis represented in the Symposium under the aspect of beauty, and is supposed tobe attained there by stages of initiation, as here by regular gradations ofknowledge. Viewed subjectively, it is the process or science of dialectic. Thisis the science which, according to the Phaedrus, is the true basis of rhetoric,which alone is able to distinguish the natures and classes of men and things;which divides a whole into the natural parts, and reunites the scattered partsinto a natural or organized whole; which defines the abstract essences oruniversal ideas of all things, and connects them; which pierces the veil ofhypotheses and reaches the final cause or first principle of all; which regardsthe sciences in relation to the idea of good. This ideal science is the highestprocess of thought, and may be described as the soul conversing with herself orholding communion with eternal truth and beauty, and in another form is theeverlasting question and answer—the ceaseless interrogative of Socrates.The dialogues of Plato are themselves examples of the nature and method ofdialectic. Viewed objectively, the idea of good is a power or cause which makesthe world without us correspond with the world within. Yet this world withoutus is still a world of ideas. With Plato the investigation of nature is anotherdepartment of knowledge, and in this he seeks to attain only probableconclusions (Timaeus).

If we ask whether this science of dialectic which Plato only half explains tous is more akin to logic or to metaphysics, the answer is that in his mind thetwo sciences are not as yet distinguished, any more than the subjective andobjective aspects of the world and of man, which German philosophy has revealedto us. Nor has he determined whether his science of dialectic is at rest or inmotion, concerned with the contemplation of absolute being, or with a processof development and evolution. Modern metaphysics may be described as thescience of abstractions, or as the science of the evolution of thought; modernlogic, when passing beyond the bounds of mere Aristotelian forms, may bedefined as the science of method. The germ of both of them is contained in thePlatonic dialectic; all metaphysicians have something in common with the ideasof Plato; all logicians have derived something from the method of Plato. Thenearest approach in modern philosophy to the universal science of Plato, is tobe found in the Hegelian ‘succession of moments in the unity of theidea.’ Plato and Hegel alike seem to have conceived the world as thecorrelation of abstractions; and not impossibly they would have understood oneanother better than any of their commentators understand them (Swift’sVoyage to Laputa. ‘Having a desire to see those ancients who were mostrenowned for wit and learning, I set apart one day on purpose. I proposed thatHomer and Aristotle might appear at the head of all their commentators; butthese were so numerous that some hundreds were forced to attend in the courtand outward rooms of the palace. I knew, and could distinguish these twoheroes, at first sight, not only from the crowd, but from each other. Homer wasthe taller and comelier person of the two, walked very erect for one of hisage, and his eyes were the most quick and piercing I ever beheld. Aristotlestooped much, and made use of a staff. His visage was meagre, his hair lank andthin, and his voice hollow. I soon discovered that both of them were perfectstrangers to the rest of the company, and had never seen or heard of thembefore. And I had a whisper from a ghost, who shall be nameless, “Thatthese commentators always kept in the most distant quarters from theirprincipals, in the lower world, through a consciousness of shame and guilt,because they had so horribly misrepresented the meaning of these authors toposterity.” I introduced Didymus and Eustathius to Homer, and prevailedon him to treat them better than perhaps they deserved, for he soon found theywanted a genius to enter into the spirit of a poet. But Aristotle was out ofall patience with the account I gave him of Scotus and Ramus, as I presentedthem to him; and he asked them “whether the rest of the tribe were asgreat dunces as themselves?”’). There is, however, a differencebetween them: for whereas Hegel is thinking of all the minds of men as onemind, which developes the stages of the idea in different countries or atdifferent times in the same country, with Plato these gradations are regardedonly as an order of thought or ideas; the history of the human mind had not yetdawned upon him.

Many criticisms may be made on Plato’s theory of education. While in somerespects he unavoidably falls short of modern thinkers, in others he is inadvance of them. He is opposed to the modes of education which prevailed in hisown time; but he can hardly be said to have discovered new ones. He does notsee that education is relative to the characters of individuals; he onlydesires to impress the same form of the state on the minds of all. He has nosufficient idea of the effect of literature on the formation of the mind, andgreatly exaggerates that of mathematics. His aim is above all things to trainthe reasoning faculties; to implant in the mind the spirit and power ofabstraction; to explain and define general notions, and, if possible, toconnect them. No wonder that in the vacancy of actual knowledge his followers,and at times even he himself, should have fallen away from the doctrine ofideas, and have returned to that branch of knowledge in which alone therelation of the one and many can be truly seen—the science of number. Inhis views both of teaching and training he might be styled, in modern language,a doctrinaire; after the Spartan fashion he would have his citizens cast in onemould; he does not seem to consider that some degree of freedom, ‘alittle wholesome neglect,’ is necessary to strengthen and develope thecharacter and to give play to the individual nature. His citizens would nothave acquired that knowledge which in the vision of Er is supposed to be gainedby the pilgrims from their experience of evil.

On the other hand, Plato is far in advance of modern philosophers andtheologians when he teaches that education is to be continued through life andwill begin again in another. He would never allow education of some kind tocease; although he was aware that the proverbial saying of Solon, ‘I growold learning many things,’ cannot be applied literally. Himself ravishedwith the contemplation of the idea of good, and delighting in solid geometry(Rep.), he has no difficulty in imagining that a lifetime might be passedhappily in such pursuits. We who know how many more men of business there arein the world than real students or thinkers, are not equally sanguine. Theeducation which he proposes for his citizens is really the ideal life of thephilosopher or man of genius, interrupted, but only for a time, by practicalduties,—a life not for the many, but for the few.

Yet the thought of Plato may not be wholly incapable of application to our owntimes. Even if regarded as an ideal which can never be realized, it may have agreat effect in elevating the characters of mankind, and raising them above theroutine of their ordinary occupation or profession. It is the best form underwhich we can conceive the whole of life. Nevertheless the idea of Plato is noteasily put into practice. For the education of after life is necessarily theeducation which each one gives himself. Men and women cannot be broughttogether in schools or colleges at forty or fifty years of age; and if theycould the result would be disappointing. The destination of most men is whatPlato would call ‘the Den’ for the whole of life, and with thatthey are content. Neither have they teachers or advisers with whom they cantake counsel in riper years. There is no ‘schoolmaster abroad’ whowill tell them of their faults, or inspire them with the higher sense of duty,or with the ambition of a true success in life; no Socrates who will convictthem of ignorance; no Christ, or follower of Christ, who will reprove them ofsin. Hence they have a difficulty in receiving the first element ofimprovement, which is self-knowledge. The hopes of youth no longer stir them;they rather wish to rest than to pursue high objects. A few only who have comeacross great men and women, or eminent teachers of religion and morality, havereceived a second life from them, and have lighted a candle from the fire oftheir genius.

The want of energy is one of the main reasons why so few persons continue toimprove in later years. They have not the will, and do not know the way. They‘never try an experiment,’ or look up a point of interest forthemselves; they make no sacrifices for the sake of knowledge; their minds,like their bodies, at a certain age become fixed. Genius has been defined as‘the power of taking pains’; but hardly any one keeps up hisinterest in knowledge throughout a whole life. The troubles of a family, thebusiness of making money, the demands of a profession destroy the elasticity ofthe mind. The waxen tablet of the memory which was once capable of receiving‘true thoughts and clear impressions’ becomes hard and crowded;there is not room for the accumulations of a long life (Theaet.). The student,as years advance, rather makes an exchange of knowledge than adds to hisstores. There is no pressing necessity to learn; the stock of Classics orHistory or Natural Science which was enough for a man at twenty-five is enoughfor him at fifty. Neither is it easy to give a definite answer to any one whoasks how he is to improve. For self-education consists in a thousand things,commonplace in themselves,—in adding to what we are by nature somethingof what we are not; in learning to see ourselves as others see us; in judging,not by opinion, but by the evidence of facts; in seeking out the society ofsuperior minds; in a study of lives and writings of great men; in observationof the world and character; in receiving kindly the natural influence ofdifferent times of life; in any act or thought which is raised above thepractice or opinions of mankind; in the pursuit of some new or originalenquiry; in any effort of mind which calls forth some latent power.

If any one is desirous of carrying out in detail the Platonic education ofafter-life, some such counsels as the following may be offered tohim:—That he shall choose the branch of knowledge to which his own mindmost distinctly inclines, and in which he takes the greatest delight, eitherone which seems to connect with his own daily employment, or, perhaps,furnishes the greatest contrast to it. He may study from the speculative sidethe profession or business in which he is practically engaged. He may makeHomer, Dante, Shakespeare, Plato, Bacon the friends and companions of his life.He may find opportunities of hearing the living voice of a great teacher. Hemay select for enquiry some point of history or some unexplained phenomenon ofnature. An hour a day passed in such scientific or literary pursuits willfurnish as many facts as the memory can retain, and will give him ‘apleasure not to be repented of’ (Timaeus). Only let him beware of beingthe slave of crotchets, or of running after a Will o’ the Wisp in hisignorance, or in his vanity of attributing to himself the gifts of a poet orassuming the air of a philosopher. He should know the limits of his own powers.Better to build up the mind by slow additions, to creep on quietly from onething to another, to gain insensibly new powers and new interests in knowledge,than to form vast schemes which are never destined to be realized. But perhaps,as Plato would say, ‘This is part of another subject’ (Tim.);though we may also defend our digression by his example (Theaet.).

4. We remark with surprise that the progress of nations or the natural growthof institutions which fill modern treatises on political philosophy seem hardlyever to have attracted the attention of Plato and Aristotle. The ancients werefamiliar with the mutability of human affairs; they could moralize over theruins of cities and the fall of empires (Plato, Statesman, and Sulpicius’Letter to Cicero); by them fate and chance were deemed to be real powers,almost persons, and to have had a great share in political events. The wiser ofthem like Thucydides believed that ‘what had been would be again,’and that a tolerable idea of the future could be gathered from the past. Alsothey had dreams of a Golden Age which existed once upon a time and might stillexist in some unknown land, or might return again in the remote future. But theregular growth of a state enlightened by experience, progressing in knowledge,improving in the arts, of which the citizens were educated by the fulfilment ofpolitical duties, appears never to have come within the range of their hopesand aspirations. Such a state had never been seen, and therefore could not beconceived by them. Their experience (Aristot. Metaph.; Plato, Laws) led them toconclude that there had been cycles of civilization in which the arts had beendiscovered and lost many times over, and cities had been overthrown and rebuiltagain and again, and deluges and volcanoes and other natural convulsions hadaltered the face of the earth. Tradition told them of many destructions ofmankind and of the preservation of a remnant. The world began again after adeluge and was reconstructed out of the fragments of itself. Also they wereacquainted with empires of unknown antiquity, like the Egyptian or Assyrian;but they had never seen them grow, and could not imagine, any more than we can,the state of man which preceded them. They were puzzled and awestricken by theEgyptian monuments, of which the forms, as Plato says, not in a figure, butliterally, were ten thousand years old (Laws), and they contrasted theantiquity of Egypt with their own short memories.

The early legends of Hellas have no real connection with the later history:they are at a distance, and the intermediate region is concealed from view;there is no road or path which leads from one to the other. At the beginning ofGreek history, in the vestibule of the temple, is seen standing first of allthe figure of the legislator, himself the interpreter and servant of the God.The fundamental laws which he gives are not supposed to change with time andcircumstances. The salvation of the state is held rather to depend on theinviolable maintenance of them. They were sanctioned by the authority ofheaven, and it was deemed impiety to alter them. The desire to maintain themunaltered seems to be the origin of what at first sight is very surprising tous—the intolerant zeal of Plato against innovators in religion orpolitics (Laws); although with a happy inconsistency he is also willing thatthe laws of other countries should be studied and improvements in legislationprivately communicated to the Nocturnal Council (Laws). The additions whichwere made to them in later ages in order to meet the increasing complexity ofaffairs were still ascribed by a fiction to the original legislator; and thewords of such enactments at Athens were disputed over as if they had been thewords of Solon himself. Plato hopes to preserve in a later generation the mindof the legislator; he would have his citizens remain within the lines which hehas laid down for them. He would not harass them with minute regulations, hewould have allowed some changes in the laws: but not changes which would affectthe fundamental institutions of the state, such for example as would convert anaristocracy into a timocracy, or a timocracy into a popular form of government.

Passing from speculations to facts, we observe that progress has been theexception rather than the law of human history. And therefore we are notsurprised to find that the idea of progress is of modern rather than of ancientdate; and, like the idea of a philosophy of history, is not more than a centuryor two old. It seems to have arisen out of the impression left on the humanmind by the growth of the Roman Empire and of the Christian Church, and to bedue to the political and social improvements which they introduced into theworld; and still more in our own century to the idealism of the first FrenchRevolution and the triumph of American Independence; and in a yet greaterdegree to the vast material prosperity and growth of population in England andher colonies and in America. It is also to be ascribed in a measure to thegreater study of the philosophy of history. The optimist temperament of somegreat writers has assisted the creation of it, while the opposite character hasled a few to regard the future of the world as dark. The ‘spectator ofall time and of all existence’ sees more of ‘the increasing purposewhich through the ages ran’ than formerly: but to the inhabitant of asmall state of Hellas the vision was necessarily limited like the valley inwhich he dwelt. There was no remote past on which his eye could rest, nor anyfuture from which the veil was partly lifted up by the analogy of history. Thenarrowness of view, which to ourselves appears so singular, was to him natural,if not unavoidable.

5. For the relation of the Republic to the Statesman and the Laws, and the twoother works of Plato which directly treat of politics, see the Introductions tothe two latter; a few general points of comparison may be touched upon in thisplace.

And first of the Laws.

(1) The Republic, though probably written at intervals, yet speaking generallyand judging by the indications of thought and style, may be reasonably ascribedto the middle period of Plato’s life: the Laws are certainly the work ofhis declining years, and some portions of them at any rate seem to have beenwritten in extreme old age.

(2) The Republic is full of hope and aspiration: the Laws bear the stamp offailure and disappointment. The one is a finished work which received the lasttouches of the author: the other is imperfectly executed, and apparentlyunfinished. The one has the grace and beauty of youth: the other has lost thepoetical form, but has more of the severity and knowledge of life which ischaracteristic of old age.

(3) The most conspicuous defect of the Laws is the failure of dramatic power,whereas the Republic is full of striking contrasts of ideas and oppositions ofcharacter.

(4) The Laws may be said to have more the nature of a sermon, the Republic of apoem; the one is more religious, the other more intellectual.

(5) Many theories of Plato, such as the doctrine of ideas, the government ofthe world by philosophers, are not found in the Laws; the immortality of thesoul is first mentioned in xii; the person of Socrates has altogetherdisappeared. The community of women and children is renounced; the institutionof common or public meals for women (Laws) is for the first time introduced(Ar. Pol.).

(6) There remains in the Laws the old enmity to the poets, who are ironicallysaluted in high-flown terms, and, at the same time, are peremptorily orderedout of the city, if they are not willing to submit their poems to thecensorship of the magistrates (Rep.).

(7) Though the work is in most respects inferior, there are a few passages inthe Laws, such as the honour due to the soul, the evils of licentious orunnatural love, the whole of Book x. (religion), the dishonesty of retailtrade, and bequests, which come more home to us, and contain more of what maybe termed the modern element in Plato than almost anything in the Republic.

The relation of the two works to one another is very well given:

(1) by Aristotle in the Politics from the side of the Laws:—

‘The same, or nearly the same, objections apply to Plato’s laterwork, the Laws, and therefore we had better examine briefly the constitutionwhich is therein described. In the Republic, Socrates has definitely settled inall a few questions only; such as the community of women and children, thecommunity of property, and the constitution of the state. The population isdivided into two classes—one of husbandmen, and the other of warriors;from this latter is taken a third class of counsellors and rulers of the state.But Socrates has not determined whether the husbandmen and artists are to havea share in the government, and whether they too are to carry arms and share inmilitary service or not. He certainly thinks that the women ought to share inthe education of the guardians, and to fight by their side. The remainder ofthe work is filled up with digressions foreign to the main subject, and withdiscussions about the education of the guardians. In the Laws there is hardlyanything but laws; not much is said about the constitution. This, which he hadintended to make more of the ordinary type, he gradually brings round to theother or ideal form. For with the exception of the community of women andproperty, he supposes everything to be the same in both states; there is to bethe same education; the citizens of both are to live free from servileoccupations, and there are to be common meals in both. The only difference isthat in the Laws the common meals are extended to women, and the warriorsnumber about 5000, but in the Republic only 1000.’

(2) by Plato in the Laws (Book v.), from the side of the Republic:—

‘The first and highest form of the state and of the government and of thelaw is that in which there prevails most widely the ancient saying that“Friends have all things in common.” Whether there is now, or everwill be, this communion of women and children and of property, in which theprivate and individual is altogether banished from life, and things which areby nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and allmen express praise and blame, and feel joy and sorrow, on the same occasions,and the laws unite the city to the utmost,—whether all this is possibleor not, I say that no man, acting upon any other principle, will everconstitute a state more exalted in virtue, or truer or better than this. Such astate, whether inhabited by Gods or sons of Gods, will make them blessed whodwell therein; and therefore to this we are to look for the pattern of thestate, and to cling to this, and, as far as possible, to seek for one which islike this. The state which we have now in hand, when created, will be nearestto immortality and unity in the next degree; and after that, by the grace ofGod, we will complete the third one. And we will begin by speaking of thenature and origin of the second.’

The comparatively short work called the Statesman or Politicus in its style andmanner is more akin to the Laws, while in its idealism it rather resembles theRepublic. As far as we can judge by various indications of language andthought, it must be later than the one and of course earlier than the other. Inboth the Republic and Statesman a close connection is maintained betweenPolitics and Dialectic. In the Statesman, enquiries into the principles ofMethod are interspersed with discussions about Politics. The comparativeadvantages of the rule of law and of a person are considered, and the decisiongiven in favour of a person (Arist. Pol.). But much may be said on the otherside, nor is the opposition necessary; for a person may rule by law, and lawmay be so applied as to be the living voice of the legislator. As in theRepublic, there is a myth, describing, however, not a future, but a formerexistence of mankind. The question is asked, ‘Whether the state ofinnocence which is described in the myth, or a state like our own whichpossesses art and science and distinguishes good from evil, is the preferablecondition of man.’ To this question of the comparative happiness ofcivilized and primitive life, which was so often discussed in the last centuryand in our own, no answer is given. The Statesman, though less perfect in stylethan the Republic and of far less range, may justly be regarded as one of thegreatest of Plato’s dialogues.

6. Others as well as Plato have chosen an ideal Republic to be the vehicle ofthoughts which they could not definitely express, or which went beyond theirown age. The classical writing which approaches most nearly to the Republic ofPlato is the ‘De Republica’ of Cicero; but neither in this nor inany other of his dialogues does he rival the art of Plato. The manners areclumsy and inferior; the hand of the rhetorician is apparent at every turn. Yetnoble sentiments are constantly recurring: the true note of Romanpatriotism—‘We Romans are a great people’—resoundsthrough the whole work. Like Socrates, Cicero turns away from the phenomena ofthe heavens to civil and political life. He would rather not discuss the‘two Suns’ of which all Rome was talking, when he can converseabout ‘the two nations in one’ which had divided Rome ever sincethe days of the Gracchi. Like Socrates again, speaking in the person of Scipio,he is afraid lest he should assume too much the character of a teacher, ratherthan of an equal who is discussing among friends the two sides of a question.He would confine the terms King or State to the rule of reason and justice, andhe will not concede that title either to a democracy or to a monarchy. Butunder the rule of reason and justice he is willing to include the naturalsuperior ruling over the natural inferior, which he compares to the soul rulingover the body. He prefers a mixture of forms of government to any single one.The two portraits of the just and the unjust, which occur in the second book ofthe Republic, are transferred to the state—Philus, one of theinterlocutors, maintaining against his will the necessity of injustice as aprinciple of government, while the other, Laelius, supports the oppositethesis. His views of language and number are derived from Plato; like him hedenounces the drama. He also declares that if his life were to be twice as longhe would have no time to read the lyric poets. The picture of democracy istranslated by him word for word, though he had hardly shown himself able to‘carry the jest’ of Plato. He converts into a stately sentence thehumorous fancy about the animals, who ‘are so imbued with the spirit ofdemocracy that they make the passers-by get out of their way.’ Hisdescription of the tyrant is imitated from Plato, but is far inferior. Thesecond book is historical, and claims for the Roman constitution (which is tohim the ideal) a foundation of fact such as Plato probably intended to havegiven to the Republic in the Critias. His most remarkable imitation of Plato isthe adaptation of the vision of Er, which is converted by Cicero into the‘Somnium Scipionis’; he has ‘romanized’ the myth of theRepublic, adding an argument for the immortality of the soul taken from thePhaedrus, and some other touches derived from the Phaedo and the Timaeus.Though a beautiful tale and containing splendid passages, the ‘SomniumScipionis; is very inferior to the vision of Er; it is only a dream, and hardlyallows the reader to suppose that the writer believes in his own creation.Whether his dialogues were framed on the model of the lost dialogues ofAristotle, as he himself tells us, or of Plato, to which they bear manysuperficial resemblances, he is still the Roman orator; he is not conversing,but making speeches, and is never able to mould the intractable Latin to thegrace and ease of the Greek Platonic dialogue. But if he is defective in form,much more is he inferior to the Greek in matter; he nowhere in hisphilosophical writings leaves upon our minds the impression of an originalthinker.

Plato’s Republic has been said to be a church and not a state; and suchan ideal of a city in the heavens has always hovered over the Christian world,and is embodied in St. Augustine’s ‘De Civitate Dei,’ whichis suggested by the decay and fall of the Roman Empire, much in the same mannerin which we may imagine the Republic of Plato to have been influenced by thedecline of Greek politics in the writer’s own age. The difference is thatin the time of Plato the degeneracy, though certain, was gradual andinsensible: whereas the taking of Rome by the Goths stirred like an earthquakethe age of St. Augustine. Men were inclined to believe that the overthrow ofthe city was to be ascribed to the anger felt by the old Roman deities at theneglect of their worship. St. Augustine maintains the opposite thesis; heargues that the destruction of the Roman Empire is due, not to the rise ofChristianity, but to the vices of Paganism. He wanders over Roman history, andover Greek philosophy and mythology, and finds everywhere crime, impiety andfalsehood. He compares the worst parts of the Gentile religions with the bestelements of the faith of Christ. He shows nothing of the spirit which ledothers of the early Christian Fathers to recognize in the writings of the Greekphilosophers the power of the divine truth. He traces the parallel of thekingdom of God, that is, the history of the Jews, contained in theirscriptures, and of the kingdoms of the world, which are found in gentilewriters, and pursues them both into an ideal future. It need hardly be remarkedthat his use both of Greek and of Roman historians and of the sacred writingsof the Jews is wholly uncritical. The heathen mythology, the Sybilline oracles,the myths of Plato, the dreams of Neo-Platonists are equally regarded by him asmatter of fact. He must be acknowledged to be a strictly polemical orcontroversial writer who makes the best of everything on one side and the worstof everything on the other. He has no sympathy with the old Roman life as Platohas with Greek life, nor has he any idea of the ecclesiastical kingdom whichwas to arise out of the ruins of the Roman empire. He is not blind to thedefects of the Christian Church, and looks forward to a time when Christian andPagan shall be alike brought before the judgment-seat, and the true City of Godshall appear...The work of St. Augustine is a curious repertory of antiquarianlearning and quotations, deeply penetrated with Christian ethics, but showinglittle power of reasoning, and a slender knowledge of the Greek literature andlanguage. He was a great genius, and a noble character, yet hardly capable offeeling or understanding anything external to his own theology. Of all theancient philosophers he is most attracted by Plato, though he is very slightlyacquainted with his writings. He is inclined to believe that the idea ofcreation in the Timaeus is derived from the narrative in Genesis; and he isstrangely taken with the coincidence (?) of Plato’s saying that‘the philosopher is the lover of God,’ and the words of the Book ofExodus in which God reveals himself to Moses (Exod.) He dwells at length onmiracles performed in his own day, of which the evidence is regarded by him asirresistible. He speaks in a very interesting manner of the beauty and utilityof nature and of the human frame, which he conceives to afford a foretaste ofthe heavenly state and of the resurrection of the body. The book is not reallywhat to most persons the title of it would imply, and belongs to an age whichhas passed away. But it contains many fine passages and thoughts which are forall time.

The short treatise de Monarchia of Dante is by far the most remarkable ofmediaeval ideals, and bears the impress of the great genius in whom Italy andthe Middle Ages are so vividly reflected. It is the vision of an UniversalEmpire, which is supposed to be the natural and necessary government of theworld, having a divine authority distinct from the Papacy, yet coextensive withit. It is not ‘the ghost of the dead Roman Empire sitting crowned uponthe grave thereof,’ but the legitimate heir and successor of it,justified by the ancient virtues of the Romans and the beneficence of theirrule. Their right to be the governors of the world is also confirmed by thetestimony of miracles, and acknowledged by St. Paul when he appealed to Caesar,and even more emphatically by Christ Himself, Who could not have made atonementfor the sins of men if He had not been condemned by a divinely authorizedtribunal. The necessity for the establishment of an Universal Empire is provedpartly by a priori arguments such as the unity of God and the unity of thefamily or nation; partly by perversions of Scripture and history, by falseanalogies of nature, by misapplied quotations from the classics, and by oddscraps and commonplaces of logic, showing a familiar but by no means exactknowledge of Aristotle (of Plato there is none). But a more convincing argumentstill is the miserable state of the world, which he touchingly describes. Hesees no hope of happiness or peace for mankind until all nations of the earthare comprehended in a single empire. The whole treatise shows how deeply theidea of the Roman Empire was fixed in the minds of his contemporaries. Not muchargument was needed to maintain the truth of a theory which to his owncontemporaries seemed so natural and congenial. He speaks, or rather preaches,from the point of view, not of the ecclesiastic, but of the layman, although,as a good Catholic, he is willing to acknowledge that in certain respects theEmpire must submit to the Church. The beginning and end of all his noblereflections and of his arguments, good and bad, is the aspiration ‘thatin this little plot of earth belonging to mortal man life may pass in freedomand peace.’ So inextricably is his vision of the future bound up with thebeliefs and circumstances of his own age.

The ‘Utopia’ of Sir Thomas More is a surprising monument of hisgenius, and shows a reach of thought far beyond his contemporaries. The bookwas written by him at the age of about 34 or 35, and is full of the generoussentiments of youth. He brings the light of Plato to bear upon the miserablestate of his own country. Living not long after the Wars of the Roses, and inthe dregs of the Catholic Church in England, he is indignant at the corruptionof the clergy, at the luxury of the nobility and gentry, at the sufferings ofthe poor, at the calamities caused by war. To the eye of More the whole worldwas in dissolution and decay; and side by side with the misery and oppressionwhich he has described in the First Book of the Utopia, he places in the SecondBook the ideal state which by the help of Plato he had constructed. The timeswere full of stir and intellectual interest. The distant murmur of theReformation was beginning to be heard. To minds like More’s, Greekliterature was a revelation: there had arisen an art of interpretation, and theNew Testament was beginning to be understood as it had never been before, andhas not often been since, in its natural sense. The life there depictedappeared to him wholly unlike that of Christian commonwealths, in which‘he saw nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their owncommodities under the name and title of the Commonwealth.’ He thoughtthat Christ, like Plato, ‘instituted all things common,’ for whichreason, he tells us, the citizens of Utopia were the more willing to receivehis doctrines (‘Howbeit, I think this was no small help and furtherancein the matter, that they heard us say that Christ instituted among his, allthings common, and that the same community doth yet remain in the rightestChristian communities’ (Utopia).). The community of property is a fixedidea with him, though he is aware of the arguments which may be urged on theother side (‘These things (I say), when I consider with myself, I holdwell with Plato, and do nothing marvel that he would make no laws for them thatrefused those laws, whereby all men should have and enjoy equal portions ofriches and commodities. For the wise men did easily foresee this to be the oneand only way to the wealth of a community, if equality of all things should bebrought in and established’ (Utopia).). We wonder how in the reign ofHenry VIII, though veiled in another language and published in a foreigncountry, such speculations could have been endured.

He is gifted with far greater dramatic invention than any one who succeededhim, with the exception of Swift. In the art of feigning he is a worthydisciple of Plato. Like him, starting from a small portion of fact, he foundshis tale with admirable skill on a few lines in the Latin narrative of thevoyages of Amerigo Vespucci. He is very precise about dates and facts, and hasthe power of making us believe that the narrator of the tale must have been aneyewitness. We are fairly puzzled by his manner of mixing up real and imaginarypersons; his boy John Clement and Peter Giles, citizen of Antwerp, with whom hedisputes about the precise words which are supposed to have been used by the(imaginary) Portuguese traveller, Raphael Hythloday. ‘I have the morecause,’ says Hythloday, ‘to fear that my words shall not bebelieved, for that I know how difficultly and hardly I myself would havebelieved another man telling the same, if I had not myself seen it with mineown eyes.’ Or again: ‘If you had been with me in Utopia, and hadpresently seen their fashions and laws as I did which lived there five yearsand more, and would never have come thence, but only to make the new land knownhere,’ etc. More greatly regrets that he forgot to ask Hythloday in whatpart of the world Utopia is situated; he ‘would have spent no small sumof money rather than it should have escaped him,’ and he begs Peter Gilesto see Hythloday or write to him and obtain an answer to the question. Afterthis we are not surprised to hear that a Professor of Divinity (perhaps‘a late famous vicar of Croydon in Surrey,’ as the translatorthinks) is desirous of being sent thither as a missionary by the High Bishop,‘yea, and that he may himself be made Bishop of Utopia, nothing doubtingthat he must obtain this Bishopric with suit; and he counteth that a godly suitwhich proceedeth not of the desire of honour or lucre, but only of a godlyzeal.’ The design may have failed through the disappearance of Hythloday,concerning whom we have ‘very uncertain news’ after his departure.There is no doubt, however, that he had told More and Giles the exact situationof the island, but unfortunately at the same moment More’s attention, ashe is reminded in a letter from Giles, was drawn off by a servant, and one ofthe company from a cold caught on shipboard coughed so loud as to prevent Gilesfrom hearing. And ‘the secret has perished’ with him; to this daythe place of Utopia remains unknown.

The words of Phaedrus, ‘O Socrates, you can easily invent Egyptians oranything,’ are recalled to our mind as we read this lifelike fiction. Yetthe greater merit of the work is not the admirable art, but the originality ofthought. More is as free as Plato from the prejudices of his age, and far moretolerant. The Utopians do not allow him who believes not in the immortality ofthe soul to share in the administration of the state (Laws), ‘howbeitthey put him to no punishment, because they be persuaded that it is in noman’s power to believe what he list’; and ‘no man is to beblamed for reasoning in support of his own religion (‘One of our companyin my presence was sharply punished. He, as soon as he was baptised, began,against our wills, with more earnest affection than wisdom, to reason ofChrist’s religion, and began to wax so hot in his matter, that he did notonly prefer our religion before all other, but also did despise and condemn allother, calling them profane, and the followers of them wicked and devilish, andthe children of everlasting damnation. When he had thus long reasoned thematter, they laid hold on him, accused him, and condemned him into exile, notas a despiser of religion, but as a seditious person and a raiser up ofdissension among the people’).’ In the public services ‘noprayers be used, but such as every man may boldly pronounce without givingoffence to any sect.’ He says significantly, ‘There be that giveworship to a man that was once of excellent virtue or of famous glory, not onlyas God, but also the chiefest and highest God. But the most and the wisestpart, rejecting all these, believe that there is a certain godly power unknown,far above the capacity and reach of man’s wit, dispersed throughout allthe world, not in bigness, but in virtue and power. Him they call the Father ofall. To Him alone they attribute the beginnings, the increasings, theproceedings, the changes, and the ends of all things. Neither give they anydivine honours to any other than him.’ So far was More from sharing thepopular beliefs of his time. Yet at the end he reminds us that he does not inall respects agree with the customs and opinions of the Utopians which hedescribes. And we should let him have the benefit of this saving clause, andnot rudely withdraw the veil behind which he has been pleased to concealhimself.

Nor is he less in advance of popular opinion in his political and moralspeculations. He would like to bring military glory into contempt; he would setall sorts of idle people to profitable occupation, including in the same class,priests, women, noblemen, gentlemen, and ‘sturdy and valiantbeggars,’ that the labour of all may be reduced to six hours a day. Hisdislike of capital punishment, and plans for the reformation of offenders; hisdetestation of priests and lawyers (Compare his satirical observation:‘They (the Utopians) have priests of exceeding holiness, and thereforevery few.); his remark that ‘although every one may hear of ravenous dogsand wolves and cruel man-eaters, it is not easy to find states that are welland wisely governed,’ are curiously at variance with the notions of hisage and indeed with his own life. There are many points in which he shows amodern feeling and a prophetic insight like Plato. He is a sanitary reformer;he maintains that civilized states have a right to the soil of waste countries;he is inclined to the opinion which places happiness in virtuous pleasures, butherein, as he thinks, not disagreeing from those other philosophers who definevirtue to be a life according to nature. He extends the idea of happiness so asto include the happiness of others; and he argues ingeniously, ‘All menagree that we ought to make others happy; but if others, how much moreourselves!’ And still he thinks that there may be a more excellent way,but to this no man’s reason can attain unless heaven should inspire himwith a higher truth. His ceremonies before marriage; his humane proposal thatwar should be carried on by assassinating the leaders of the enemy, may becompared to some of the paradoxes of Plato. He has a charming fancy, like theaffinities of Greeks and barbarians in the Timaeus, that the Utopians learntthe language of the Greeks with the more readiness because they were originallyof the same race with them. He is penetrated with the spirit of Plato, andquotes or adapts many thoughts both from the Republic and from the Timaeus. Heprefers public duties to private, and is somewhat impatient of the importunityof relations. His citizens have no silver or gold of their own, but are readyenough to pay them to their mercenaries. There is nothing of which he is morecontemptuous than the love of money. Gold is used for fetters of criminals, anddiamonds and pearls for children’s necklaces (When the ambassadors camearrayed in gold and peacocks’ feathers ‘to the eyes of all theUtopians except very few, which had been in other countries for some reasonablecause, all that gorgeousness of apparel seemed shameful and reproachful. In somuch that they most reverently saluted the vilest and most abject of them forlords—passing over the ambassadors themselves without any honour, judgingthem by their wearing of golden chains to be bondmen. You should have seenchildren also, that had cast away their pearls and precious stones, when theysaw the like sticking upon the ambassadors’ caps, dig and push theirmothers under the sides, saying thus to them—“Look, though he werea little child still.” But the mother; yea and that also in good earnest:“Peace, son,” saith she, “I think he be some of theambassadors’ fools.”’)

Like Plato he is full of satirical reflections on governments and princes; onthe state of the world and of knowledge. The hero of his discourse (Hythloday)is very unwilling to become a minister of state, considering that he would losehis independence and his advice would never be heeded (Compare an exquisitepassage, of which the conclusion is as follows: ‘And verily it isnaturally given...suppressed and ended.’) He ridicules the new logic ofhis time; the Utopians could never be made to understand the doctrine of SecondIntentions (‘For they have not devised one of all those rules ofrestrictions, amplifications, and suppositions, very wittily invented in thesmall Logicals, which here our children in every place do learn. Furthermore,they were never yet able to find out the second intentions; insomuch that noneof them all could ever see man himself in common, as they call him, though hebe (as you know) bigger than was ever any giant, yea, and pointed to of us evenwith our finger.’) He is very severe on the sports of the gentry; theUtopians count ‘hunting the lowest, the vilest, and the most abject partof butchery.’ He quotes the words of the Republic in which thephilosopher is described ‘standing out of the way under a wall until thedriving storm of sleet and rain be overpast,’ which admit of a singularapplication to More’s own fate; although, writing twenty years before(about the year 1514), he can hardly be supposed to have foreseen this. Thereis no touch of satire which strikes deeper than his quiet remark that thegreater part of the precepts of Christ are more at variance with the lives ofordinary Christians than the discourse of Utopia (‘And yet the most partof them is more dissident from the manners of the world now a days, than mycommunication was. But preachers, sly and wily men, following your counsel (asI suppose) because they saw men evil-willing to frame their manners toChrist’s rule, they have wrested and wried his doctrine, and, like a ruleof lead, have applied it to men’s manners, that by some means at theleast way, they might agree together.’)

The ‘New Atlantis’ is only a fragment, and far inferior in merit tothe ‘Utopia.’ The work is full of ingenuity, but wanting increative fancy, and by no means impresses the reader with a sense ofcredibility. In some places Lord Bacon is characteristically different from SirThomas More, as, for example, in the external state which he attributes to thegovernor of Solomon’s House, whose dress he minutely describes, while toSir Thomas More such trappings appear simple ridiculous. Yet, after thisprogramme of dress, Bacon adds the beautiful trait, ‘that he had a lookas though he pitied men.’ Several things are borrowed by him from theTimaeus; but he has injured the unity of style by adding thoughts and passageswhich are taken from the Hebrew Scriptures.

The ‘City of the Sun’ written by Campanella (1568-1639), aDominican friar, several years after the ‘New Atlantis’ of Bacon,has many resemblances to the Republic of Plato. The citizens have wives andchildren in common; their marriages are of the same temporary sort, and arearranged by the magistrates from time to time. They do not, however, adopt hissystem of lots, but bring together the best natures, male and female,‘according to philosophical rules.’ The infants until two years ofage are brought up by their mothers in public temples; and since individualsfor the most part educate their children badly, at the beginning of their thirdyear they are committed to the care of the State, and are taught at first, notout of books, but from paintings of all kinds, which are emblazoned on thewalls of the city. The city has six interior circuits of walls, and an outerwall which is the seventh. On this outer wall are painted the figures oflegislators and philosophers, and on each of the interior walls the symbols orforms of some one of the sciences are delineated. The women are, for the mostpart, trained, like the men, in warlike and other exercises; but they have twospecial occupations of their own. After a battle, they and the boys soothe andrelieve the wounded warriors; also they encourage them with embraces andpleasant words. Some elements of the Christian or Catholic religion arepreserved among them. The life of the Apostles is greatly admired by thispeople because they had all things in common; and the short prayer which JesusChrist taught men is used in their worship. It is a duty of the chiefmagistrates to pardon sins, and therefore the whole people make secretconfession of them to the magistrates, and they to their chief, who is a sortof Rector Metaphysicus; and by this means he is well informed of all that isgoing on in the minds of men. After confession, absolution is granted to thecitizens collectively, but no one is mentioned by name. There also exists amongthem a practice of perpetual prayer, performed by a succession of priests, whochange every hour. Their religion is a worship of God in Trinity, that is ofWisdom, Love and Power, but without any distinction of persons. They behold inthe sun the reflection of His glory; mere graven images they reject, refusingto fall under the ‘tyranny’ of idolatry.

Many details are given about their customs of eating and drinking, about theirmode of dressing, their employments, their wars. Campanella looks forward to anew mode of education, which is to be a study of nature, and not of Aristotle.He would not have his citizens waste their time in the consideration of what hecalls ‘the dead signs of things.’ He remarks that he who knows onescience only, does not really know that one any more than the rest, and insistsstrongly on the necessity of a variety of knowledge. More scholars are turnedout in the City of the Sun in one year than by contemporary methods in ten orfifteen. He evidently believes, like Bacon, that henceforward natural sciencewill play a great part in education, a hope which seems hardly to have beenrealized, either in our own or in any former age; at any rate the fulfilment ofit has been long deferred.

There is a good deal of ingenuity and even originality in this work, and a mostenlightened spirit pervades it. But it has little or no charm of style, andfalls very far short of the ‘New Atlantis’ of Bacon, and still moreof the ‘Utopia’ of Sir Thomas More. It is full of inconsistencies,and though borrowed from Plato, shows but a superficial acquaintance with hiswritings. It is a work such as one might expect to have been written by aphilosopher and man of genius who was also a friar, and who had spenttwenty-seven years of his life in a prison of the Inquisition. The mostinteresting feature of the book, common to Plato and Sir Thomas More, is thedeep feeling which is shown by the writer, of the misery and ignoranceprevailing among the lower classes in his own time. Campanella takes note ofAristotle’s answer to Plato’s community of property, that in asociety where all things are common, no individual would have any motive towork (Arist. Pol.): he replies, that his citizens being happy and contented inthemselves (they are required to work only four hours a day), will have greaterregard for their fellows than exists among men at present. He thinks, likePlato, that if he abolishes private feelings and interests, a great publicfeeling will take their place.

Other writings on ideal states, such as the ‘Oceana’ of Harrington,in which the Lord Archon, meaning Cromwell, is described, not as he was, but ashe ought to have been; or the ‘Argenis’ of Barclay, which is anhistorical allegory of his own time, are too unlike Plato to be worthmentioning. More interesting than either of these, and far more Platonic instyle and thought, is Sir John Eliot’s ‘Monarchy of Man,’ inwhich the prisoner of the Tower, no longer able ‘to be a politician inthe land of his birth,’ turns away from politics to view ‘thatother city which is within him,’ and finds on the very threshold of thegrave that the secret of human happiness is the mastery of self. The change ofgovernment in the time of the English Commonwealth set men thinking about firstprinciples, and gave rise to many works of this class...The great originalgenius of Swift owes nothing to Plato; nor is there any trace in theconversation or in the works of Dr. Johnson of any acquaintance with hiswritings. He probably would have refuted Plato without reading him, in the samefashion in which he supposed himself to have refuted Bishop Berkeley’stheory of the non-existence of matter. If we except the so-called EnglishPlatonists, or rather Neo-Platonists, who never understood their master, andthe writings of Coleridge, who was to some extent a kindred spirit, Plato hasleft no permanent impression on English literature.

7. Human life and conduct are affected by ideals in the same way that they areaffected by the examples of eminent men. Neither the one nor the other areimmediately applicable to practice, but there is a virtue flowing from themwhich tends to raise individuals above the common routine of society or trade,and to elevate States above the mere interests of commerce or the necessitiesof self-defence. Like the ideals of art they are partly framed by the omissionof particulars; they require to be viewed at a certain distance, and are apt tofade away if we attempt to approach them. They gain an imaginary distinctnesswhen embodied in a State or in a system of philosophy, but they still remainthe visions of ‘a world unrealized.’ More striking and obvious tothe ordinary mind are the examples of great men, who have served their owngeneration and are remembered in another. Even in our own family circle theremay have been some one, a woman, or even a child, in whose face has shone fortha goodness more than human. The ideal then approaches nearer to us, and wefondly cling to it. The ideal of the past, whether of our own past lives or offormer states of society, has a singular fascination for the minds of many. Toolate we learn that such ideals cannot be recalled, though the recollection ofthem may have a humanizing influence on other times. But the abstractions ofphilosophy are to most persons cold and vacant; they give light without warmth;they are like the full moon in the heavens when there are no stars appearing.Men cannot live by thought alone; the world of sense is always breaking in uponthem. They are for the most part confined to a corner of earth, and see but alittle way beyond their own home or place of abode; they ‘do not lift uptheir eyes to the hills’; they are not awake when the dawn appears. Butin Plato we have reached a height from which a man may look into the distanceand behold the future of the world and of philosophy. The ideal of the Stateand of the life of the philosopher; the ideal of an education continuingthrough life and extending equally to both sexes; the ideal of the unity andcorrelation of knowledge; the faith in good and immortality—are thevacant forms of light on which Plato is seeking to fix the eye of mankind.

8. Two other ideals, which never appeared above the horizon in GreekPhilosophy, float before the minds of men in our own day: one seen more clearlythan formerly, as though each year and each generation brought us nearer tosome great change; the other almost in the same degree retiring from viewbehind the laws of nature, as if oppressed by them, but still remaining asilent hope of we know not what hidden in the heart of man. The first ideal isthe future of the human race in this world; the second the future of theindividual in another. The first is the more perfect realization of our ownpresent life; the second, the abnegation of it: the one, limited by experience,the other, transcending it. Both of them have been and are powerful motives ofaction; there are a few in whom they have taken the place of all earthlyinterests. The hope of a future for the human race at first sight seems to bethe more disinterested, the hope of individual existence the more egotistical,of the two motives. But when men have learned to resolve their hope of a futureeither for themselves or for the world into the will of God—‘not mywill but Thine,’ the difference between them falls away; and they may beallowed to make either of them the basis of their lives, according to their ownindividual character or temperament. There is as much faith in the willingnessto work for an unseen future in this world as in another. Neither is itinconceivable that some rare nature may feel his duty to another generation, orto another century, almost as strongly as to his own, or that living always inthe presence of God, he may realize another world as vividly as he does this.

The greatest of all ideals may, or rather must be conceived by us undersimilitudes derived from human qualities; although sometimes, like the Jewishprophets, we may dash away these figures of speech and describe the nature ofGod only in negatives. These again by degrees acquire a positive meaning. Itwould be well, if when meditating on the higher truths either of philosophy orreligion, we sometimes substituted one form of expression for another, lestthrough the necessities of language we should become the slaves of mere words.

There is a third ideal, not the same, but akin to these, which has a place inthe home and heart of every believer in the religion of Christ, and in whichmen seem to find a nearer and more familiar truth, the Divine man, the Son ofMan, the Saviour of mankind, Who is the first-born and head of the whole familyin heaven and earth, in Whom the Divine and human, that which is without andthat which is within the range of our earthly faculties, are indissolublyunited. Neither is this divine form of goodness wholly separable from the idealof the Christian Church, which is said in the New Testament to be ‘Hisbody,’ or at variance with those other images of good which Plato setsbefore us. We see Him in a figure only, and of figures of speech we select buta few, and those the simplest, to be the expression of Him. We behold Him in apicture, but He is not there. We gather up the fragments of His discourses, butneither do they represent Him as He truly was. His dwelling is neither inheaven nor earth, but in the heart of man. This is that image which Plato sawdimly in the distance, which, when existing among men, he called, in thelanguage of Homer, ‘the likeness of God,’ the likeness of a naturewhich in all ages men have felt to be greater and better than themselves, andwhich in endless forms, whether derived from Scripture or nature, from thewitness of history or from the human heart, regarded as a person or not as aperson, with or without parts or passions, existing in space or not in space,is and will always continue to be to mankind the Idea of Good.



Socrates, who is the narrator.







And others who are mute auditors.

The scene is laid in the house of Cephalus at the Piraeus; and the wholedialogue is narrated by Socrates the day after it actually took place toTimaeus, Hermocrates, Critias, and a nameless person, who are introduced in theTimaeus.


I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston, that Imight offer up my prayers to the goddess (Bendis, the Thracian Artemis.); andalso because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival,which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants;but that of the Thracians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we hadfinished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction ofthe city; and at that instant Polemarchus the son of Cephalus chanced to catchsight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told hisservant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by thecloak behind, and said: Polemarchus desires you to wait.

I turned round, and asked him where his master was.

There he is, said the youth, coming after you, if you will only wait.

Certainly we will, said Glaucon; and in a few minutes Polemarchus appeared, andwith him Adeimantus, Glaucon’s brother, Niceratus the son of Nicias, andseveral others who had been at the procession.

Polemarchus said to me: I perceive, Socrates, that you and your companion arealready on your way to the city.

You are not far wrong, I said.

But do you see, he rejoined, how many we are?

Of course.

And are you stronger than all these? for if not, you will have to remain whereyou are.

May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may persuade you to let usgo?

But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.

Certainly not, replied Glaucon.

Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured.

Adeimantus added: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in honourof the goddess which will take place in the evening?

With horses! I replied: That is a novelty. Will horsemen carry torches and passthem one to another during the race?

Yes, said Polemarchus, and not only so, but a festival will be celebrated atnight, which you certainly ought to see. Let us rise soon after supper and seethis festival; there will be a gathering of young men, and we will have a goodtalk. Stay then, and do not be perverse.

Glaucon said: I suppose, since you insist, that we must.

Very good, I replied.

Accordingly we went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found hisbrothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and with them Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian,Charmantides the Paeanian, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. There too wasCephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and Ithought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had agarland on his head, for he had been sacrificing in the court; and there weresome other chairs in the room arranged in a semicircle, upon which we sat downby him. He saluted me eagerly, and then he said:—

You don’t come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought: If I werestill able to go and see you I would not ask you to come to me. But at my age Ican hardly get to the city, and therefore you should come oftener to thePiraeus. For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fadeaway, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation. Do not thendeny my request, but make our house your resort and keep company with theseyoung men; we are old friends, and you will be quite at home with us.

I replied: There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus, thanconversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone ajourney which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to enquire, whether theway is smooth and easy, or rugged and difficult. And this is a question which Ishould like to ask of you who have arrived at that time which the poets callthe ‘threshold of old age’—Is life harder towards the end, orwhat report do you give of it?

I will tell you, Socrates, he said, what my own feeling is. Men of my age flocktogether; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says; and at ourmeetings the tale of my acquaintance commonly is—I cannot eat, I cannotdrink; the pleasures of youth and love are fled away: there was a good timeonce, but now that is gone, and life is no longer life. Some complain of theslights which are put upon them by relations, and they will tell you sadly ofhow many evils their old age is the cause. But to me, Socrates, thesecomplainers seem to blame that which is not really in fault. For if old agewere the cause, I too being old, and every other old man, would have felt asthey do. But this is not my own experience, nor that of others whom I haveknown. How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to thequestion, How does love suit with age, Sophocles,—are you still the manyou were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped the thing of which youspeak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master. His words haveoften occurred to my mind since, and they seem as good to me now as at the timewhen he uttered them. For certainly old age has a great sense of calm andfreedom; when the passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we arefreed from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many. The truth is,Socrates, that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are tobe attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’scharacters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardlyfeel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youthand age are equally a burden.

I listened in admiration, and wanting to draw him out, that he might goon—Yes, Cephalus, I said: but I rather suspect that people in general arenot convinced by you when you speak thus; they think that old age sits lightlyupon you, not because of your happy disposition, but because you are rich, andwealth is well known to be a great comforter.

You are right, he replied; they are not convinced: and there is something inwhat they say; not, however, so much as they imagine. I might answer them asThemistocles answered the Seriphian who was abusing him and saying that he wasfamous, not for his own merits but because he was an Athenian: ‘If youhad been a native of my country or I of yours, neither of us would have beenfamous.’ And to those who are not rich and are impatient of old age, thesame reply may be made; for to the good poor man old age cannot be a lightburden, nor can a bad rich man ever have peace with himself.

May I ask, Cephalus, whether your fortune was for the most part inherited oracquired by you?

Acquired! Socrates; do you want to know how much I acquired? In the art ofmaking money I have been midway between my father and grandfather: for mygrandfather, whose name I bear, doubled and trebled the value of his patrimony,that which he inherited being much what I possess now; but my father Lysaniasreduced the property below what it is at present: and I shall be satisfied if Ileave to these my sons not less but a little more than I received.

That was why I asked you the question, I replied, because I see that you areindifferent about money, which is a characteristic rather of those who haveinherited their fortunes than of those who have acquired them; the makers offortunes have a second love of money as a creation of their own, resembling theaffection of authors for their own poems, or of parents for their children,besides that natural love of it for the sake of use and profit which is commonto them and all men. And hence they are very bad company, for they can talkabout nothing but the praises of wealth.

That is true, he said.

Yes, that is very true, but may I ask another question?—What do youconsider to be the greatest blessing which you have reaped from your wealth?

One, he said, of which I could not expect easily to convince others. For let metell you, Socrates, that when a man thinks himself to be near death, fears andcares enter into his mind which he never had before; the tales of a world belowand the punishment which is exacted there of deeds done here were once alaughing matter to him, but now he is tormented with the thought that they maybe true: either from the weakness of age, or because he is now drawing nearerto that other place, he has a clearer view of these things; suspicions andalarms crowd thickly upon him, and he begins to reflect and consider whatwrongs he has done to others. And when he finds that the sum of histransgressions is great he will many a time like a child start up in his sleepfor fear, and he is filled with dark forebodings. But to him who is consciousof no sin, sweet hope, as Pindar charmingly says, is the kind nurse of his age:

‘Hope,’ he says, ‘cherishes the soul of him who lives injustice and holiness, and is the nurse of his age and the companion of hisjourney;—hope which is mightiest to sway the restless soul of man.’

How admirable are his words! And the great blessing of riches, I do not say toevery man, but to a good man, is, that he has had no occasion to deceive or todefraud others, either intentionally or unintentionally; and when he departs tothe world below he is not in any apprehension about offerings due to the godsor debts which he owes to men. Now to this peace of mind the possession ofwealth greatly contributes; and therefore I say, that, setting one thingagainst another, of the many advantages which wealth has to give, to a man ofsense this is in my opinion the greatest.

Well said, Cephalus, I replied; but as concerning justice, what is it?—tospeak the truth and to pay your debts—no more than this? And even to thisare there not exceptions? Suppose that a friend when in his right mind hasdeposited arms with me and he asks for them when he is not in his right mind,ought I to give them back to him? No one would say that I ought or that Ishould be right in doing so, any more than they would say that I ought alwaysto speak the truth to one who is in his condition.

You are quite right, he replied.

But then, I said, speaking the truth and paying your debts is not a correctdefinition of justice.

Quite correct, Socrates, if Simonides is to be believed, said Polemarchusinterposing.

I fear, said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look after thesacrifices, and I hand over the argument to Polemarchus and the company.

Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.

To be sure, he answered, and went away laughing to the sacrifices.

Tell me then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simonides say, andaccording to you truly say, about justice?

He said that the repayment of a debt is just, and in saying so he appears to meto be right.

I should be sorry to doubt the word of such a wise and inspired man, but hismeaning, though probably clear to you, is the reverse of clear to me. For hecertainly does not mean, as we were just now saying, that I ought to return adeposit of arms or of anything else to one who asks for it when he is not inhis right senses; and yet a deposit cannot be denied to be a debt.


Then when the person who asks me is not in his right mind I am by no means tomake the return?

Certainly not.

When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not meanto include that case?

Certainly not; for he thinks that a friend ought always to do good to a friendand never evil.

You mean that the return of a deposit of gold which is to the injury of thereceiver, if the two parties are friends, is not the repayment of adebt,—that is what you would imagine him to say?


And are enemies also to receive what we owe to them?

To be sure, he said, they are to receive what we owe them, and an enemy, as Itake it, owes to an enemy that which is due or proper to him—that is tosay, evil.

Simonides, then, after the manner of poets, would seem to have spoken darkly ofthe nature of justice; for he really meant to say that justice is the giving toeach man what is proper to him, and this he termed a debt.

That must have been his meaning, he said.

By heaven! I replied; and if we asked him what due or proper thing is given bymedicine, and to whom, what answer do you think that he would make to us?

He would surely reply that medicine gives drugs and meat and drink to humanbodies.

And what due or proper thing is given by cookery, and to what?

Seasoning to food.

And what is that which justice gives, and to whom?

If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the precedinginstances, then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil toenemies.

That is his meaning then?

I think so.

And who is best able to do good to his friends and evil to his enemies in timeof sickness?

The physician.

Or when they are on a voyage, amid the perils of the sea?

The pilot.

And in what sort of actions or with a view to what result is the just man mostable to do harm to his enemy and good to his friend?

In going to war against the one and in making alliances with the other.

But when a man is well, my dear Polemarchus, there is no need of a physician?


And he who is not on a voyage has no need of a pilot?


Then in time of peace justice will be of no use?

I am very far from thinking so.

You think that justice may be of use in peace as well as in war?


Like husbandry for the acquisition of corn?


Or like shoemaking for the acquisition of shoes,—that is what you mean?


And what similar use or power of acquisition has justice in time of peace?

In contracts, Socrates, justice is of use.

And by contracts you mean partnerships?


But is the just man or the skilful player a more useful and better partner at agame of draughts?

The skilful player.

And in the laying of bricks and stones is the just man a more useful or betterpartner than the builder?

Quite the reverse.

Then in what sort of partnership is the just man a better partner than theharp-player, as in playing the harp the harp-player is certainly a betterpartner than the just man?

In a money partnership.

Yes, Polemarchus, but surely not in the use of money; for you do not want ajust man to be your counsellor in the purchase or sale of a horse; a man who isknowing about horses would be better for that, would he not?


And when you want to buy a ship, the shipwright or the pilot would be better?


Then what is that joint use of silver or gold in which the just man is to bepreferred?

When you want a deposit to be kept safely.

You mean when money is not wanted, but allowed to lie?


That is to say, justice is useful when money is useless?

That is the inference.

And when you want to keep a pruning-hook safe, then justice is useful to theindividual and to the state; but when you want to use it, then the art of thevine-dresser?


And when you want to keep a shield or a lyre, and not to use them, you wouldsay that justice is useful; but when you want to use them, then the art of thesoldier or of the musician?


And so of all other things;—justice is useful when they are useless, anduseless when they are useful?

That is the inference.

Then justice is not good for much. But let us consider this further point: Isnot he who can best strike a blow in a boxing match or in any kind of fightingbest able to ward off a blow?


And he who is most skilful in preventing or escaping from a disease is bestable to create one?


And he is the best guard of a camp who is best able to steal a march upon theenemy?


Then he who is a good keeper of anything is also a good thief?

That, I suppose, is to be inferred.

Then if the just man is good at keeping money, he is good at stealing it.

That is implied in the argument.

Then after all the just man has turned out to be a thief. And this is a lessonwhich I suspect you must have learnt out of Homer; for he, speaking ofAutolycus, the maternal grandfather of Odysseus, who is a favourite of his,affirms that

‘He was excellent above all men in theft and perjury.’

And so, you and Homer and Simonides are agreed that justice is an art of theft;to be practised however ‘for the good of friends and for the harm ofenemies,’—that was what you were saying?

No, certainly not that, though I do not now know what I did say; but I stillstand by the latter words.

Well, there is another question: By friends and enemies do we mean those whoare so really, or only in seeming?

Surely, he said, a man may be expected to love those whom he thinks good, andto hate those whom he thinks evil.

Yes, but do not persons often err about good and evil: many who are not goodseem to be so, and conversely?

That is true.

Then to them the good will be enemies and the evil will be their friends? True.

And in that case they will be right in doing good to the evil and evil to thegood?


But the good are just and would not do an injustice?


Then according to your argument it is just to injure those who do no wrong?

Nay, Socrates; the doctrine is immoral.

Then I suppose that we ought to do good to the just and harm to the unjust?

I like that better.

But see the consequence:—Many a man who is ignorant of human nature hasfriends who are bad friends, and in that case he ought to do harm to them; andhe has good enemies whom he ought to benefit; but, if so, we shall be sayingthe very opposite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of Simonides.

Very true, he said: and I think that we had better correct an error into whichwe seem to have fallen in the use of the words ‘friend’ and‘enemy.’

What was the error, Polemarchus? I asked.

We assumed that he is a friend who seems to be or who is thought good.

And how is the error to be corrected?

We should rather say that he is a friend who is, as well as seems, good; andthat he who seems only, and is not good, only seems to be and is not a friend;and of an enemy the same may be said.

You would argue that the good are our friends and the bad our enemies?


And instead of saying simply as we did at first, that it is just to do good toour friends and harm to our enemies, we should further say: It is just to dogood to our friends when they are good and harm to our enemies when they areevil?

Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.

But ought the just to injure any one at all?

Undoubtedly he ought to injure those who are both wicked and his enemies.

When horses are injured, are they improved or deteriorated?

The latter.

Deteriorated, that is to say, in the good qualities of horses, not of dogs?

Yes, of horses.

And dogs are deteriorated in the good qualities of dogs, and not of horses?

Of course.

And will not men who are injured be deteriorated in that which is the propervirtue of man?


And that human virtue is justice?

To be sure.

Then men who are injured are of necessity made unjust?

That is the result.

But can the musician by his art make men unmusical?

Certainly not.

Or the horseman by his art make them bad horsemen?


And can the just by justice make men unjust, or speaking generally, can thegood by virtue make them bad?

Assuredly not.

Any more than heat can produce cold?

It cannot.

Or drought moisture?

Clearly not.

Nor can the good harm any one?


And the just is the good?


Then to injure a friend or any one else is not the act of a just man, but ofthe opposite, who is the unjust?

I think that what you say is quite true, Socrates.

Then if a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and thatgood is the debt which a just man owes to his friends, and evil the debt whichhe owes to his enemies,—to say this is not wise; for it is not true, if,as has been clearly shown, the injuring of another can be in no case just.

I agree with you, said Polemarchus.

Then you and I are prepared to take up arms against any one who attributes sucha saying to Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any other wise man or seer?

I am quite ready to do battle at your side, he said.

Shall I tell you whose I believe the saying to be?


I believe that Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban, or someother rich and mighty man, who had a great opinion of his own power, was thefirst to say that justice is ‘doing good to your friends and harm to yourenemies.’

Most true, he said.

Yes, I said; but if this definition of justice also breaks down, what other canbe offered?

Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus had made an attemptto get the argument into his own hands, and had been put down by the rest ofthe company, who wanted to hear the end. But when Polemarchus and I had donespeaking and there was a pause, he could no longer hold his peace; and,gathering himself up, he came at us like a wild beast, seeking to devour us. Wewere quite panic-stricken at the sight of him.

He roared out to the whole company: What folly, Socrates, has taken possessionof you all? And why, sillybillies, do you knock under to one another? I saythat if you want really to know what justice is, you should not only ask butanswer, and you should not seek honour to yourself from the refutation of anopponent, but have your own answer; for there is many a one who can ask andcannot answer. And now I will not have you say that justice is duty oradvantage or profit or gain or interest, for this sort of nonsense will not dofor me; I must have clearness and accuracy.

I was panic-stricken at his words, and could not look at him without trembling.Indeed I believe that if I had not fixed my eye upon him, I should have beenstruck dumb: but when I saw his fury rising, I looked at him first, and wastherefore able to reply to him.

Thrasymachus, I said, with a quiver, don’t be hard upon us. Polemarchusand I may have been guilty of a little mistake in the argument, but I canassure you that the error was not intentional. If we were seeking for a pieceof gold, you would not imagine that we were ‘knocking under to oneanother,’ and so losing our chance of finding it. And why, when we areseeking for justice, a thing more precious than many pieces of gold, do you saythat we are weakly yielding to one another and not doing our utmost to get atthe truth? Nay, my good friend, we are most willing and anxious to do so, butthe fact is that we cannot. And if so, you people who know all things shouldpity us and not be angry with us.

How characteristic of Socrates! he replied, with a bitterlaugh;—that’s your ironical style! Did I not foresee—have Inot already told you, that whatever he was asked he would refuse to answer, andtry irony or any other shuffle, in order that he might avoid answering?

You are a philosopher, Thrasymachus, I replied, and well know that if you ask aperson what numbers make up twelve, taking care to prohibit him whom you askfrom answering twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four timesthree, ‘for this sort of nonsense will not do for me,’—thenobviously, if that is your way of putting the question, no one can answer you.But suppose that he were to retort, ‘Thrasymachus, what do you mean? Ifone of these numbers which you interdict be the true answer to the question, amI falsely to say some other number which is not the right one?—is thatyour meaning?’—How would you answer him?

Just as if the two cases were at all alike! he said.

Why should they not be? I replied; and even if they are not, but only appear tobe so to the person who is asked, ought he not to say what he thinks, whetheryou and I forbid him or not?

I presume then that you are going to make one of the interdicted answers?

I dare say that I may, notwithstanding the danger, if upon reflection I approveof any of them.

But what if I give you an answer about justice other and better, he said, thanany of these? What do you deserve to have done to you?

Done to me!—as becomes the ignorant, I must learn from thewise—that is what I deserve to have done to me.

What, and no payment! a pleasant notion!

I will pay when I have the money, I replied.

But you have, Socrates, said Glaucon: and you, Thrasymachus, need be under noanxiety about money, for we will all make a contribution for Socrates.

Yes, he replied, and then Socrates will do as he always does—refuse toanswer himself, but take and pull to pieces the answer of some one else.

Why, my good friend, I said, how can any one answer who knows, and says that heknows, just nothing; and who, even if he has some faint notions of his own, istold by a man of authority not to utter them? The natural thing is, that thespeaker should be some one like yourself who professes to know and can tellwhat he knows. Will you then kindly answer, for the edification of the companyand of myself?

Glaucon and the rest of the company joined in my request, and Thrasymachus, asany one might see, was in reality eager to speak; for he thought that he had anexcellent answer, and would distinguish himself. But at first he affected toinsist on my answering; at length he consented to begin. Behold, he said, thewisdom of Socrates; he refuses to teach himself, and goes about learning ofothers, to whom he never even says Thank you.

That I learn of others, I replied, is quite true; but that I am ungrateful Iwholly deny. Money I have none, and therefore I pay in praise, which is all Ihave; and how ready I am to praise any one who appears to me to speak well youwill very soon find out when you answer; for I expect that you will answerwell.

Listen, then, he said; I proclaim that justice is nothing else than theinterest of the stronger. And now why do you not praise me? But of course youwon’t.

Let me first understand you, I replied. Justice, as you say, is the interest ofthe stronger. What, Thrasymachus, is the meaning of this? You cannot mean tosay that because Polydamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are, and findsthe eating of beef conducive to his bodily strength, that to eat beef istherefore equally for our good who are weaker than he is, and right and justfor us?

That’s abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in the sense whichis most damaging to the argument.

Not at all, my good sir, I said; I am trying to understand them; and I wishthat you would be a little clearer.

Well, he said, have you never heard that forms of government differ; there aretyrannies, and there are democracies, and there are aristocracies?

Yes, I know.

And the government is the ruling power in each state?


And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical,tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which aremade by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver totheir subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of thelaw, and unjust. And that is what I mean when I say that in all states there isthe same principle of justice, which is the interest of the government; and asthe government must be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusionis, that everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the interest ofthe stronger.

Now I understand you, I said; and whether you are right or not I will try todiscover. But let me remark, that in defining justice you have yourself usedthe word ‘interest’ which you forbade me to use. It is true,however, that in your definition the words ‘of the stronger’ areadded.

A small addition, you must allow, he said.

Great or small, never mind about that: we must first enquire whether what youare saying is the truth. Now we are both agreed that justice is interest ofsome sort, but you go on to say ‘of the stronger’; about thisaddition I am not so sure, and must therefore consider further.


I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for subjects to obeytheir rulers?

I do.

But are the rulers of states absolutely infallible, or are they sometimesliable to err?

To be sure, he replied, they are liable to err.

Then in making their laws they may sometimes make them rightly, and sometimesnot?


When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest; whenthey are mistaken, contrary to their interest; you admit that?


And the laws which they make must be obeyed by their subjects,—and thatis what you call justice?


Then justice, according to your argument, is not only obedience to the interestof the stronger but the reverse?

What is that you are saying? he asked.

I am only repeating what you are saying, I believe. But let us consider: Havewe not admitted that the rulers may be mistaken about their own interest inwhat they command, and also that to obey them is justice? Has not that beenadmitted?


Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest of thestronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done which areto their own injury. For if, as you say, justice is the obedience which thesubject renders to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men, is there anyescape from the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to do, not what is forthe interest, but what is for the injury of the stronger?

Nothing can be clearer, Socrates, said Polemarchus.

Yes, said Cleitophon, interposing, if you are allowed to be his witness.

But there is no need of any witness, said Polemarchus, for Thrasymachus himselfacknowledges that rulers may sometimes command what is not for their owninterest, and that for subjects to obey them is justice.

Yes, Polemarchus,—Thrasymachus said that for subjects to do what wascommanded by their rulers is just.

Yes, Cleitophon, but he also said that justice is the interest of the stronger,and, while admitting both these propositions, he further acknowledged that thestronger may command the weaker who are his subjects to do what is not for hisown interest; whence follows that justice is the injury quite as much as theinterest of the stronger.

But, said Cleitophon, he meant by the interest of the stronger what thestronger thought to be his interest,—this was what the weaker had to do;and this was affirmed by him to be justice.

Those were not his words, rejoined Polemarchus.

Never mind, I replied, if he now says that they are, let us accept hisstatement. Tell me, Thrasymachus, I said, did you mean by justice what thestronger thought to be his interest, whether really so or not?

Certainly not, he said. Do you suppose that I call him who is mistaken thestronger at the time when he is mistaken?

Yes, I said, my impression was that you did so, when you admitted that theruler was not infallible but might be sometimes mistaken.

You argue like an informer, Socrates. Do you mean, for example, that he who ismistaken about the sick is a physician in that he is mistaken? or that he whoerrs in arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian at the timewhen he is making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True, we say that thephysician or arithmetician or grammarian has made a mistake, but this is only away of speaking; for the fact is that neither the grammarian nor any otherperson of skill ever makes a mistake in so far as he is what his name implies;they none of them err unless their skill fails them, and then they cease to beskilled artists. No artist or sage or ruler errs at the time when he is whathis name implies; though he is commonly said to err, and I adopted the commonmode of speaking. But to be perfectly accurate, since you are such a lover ofaccuracy, we should say that the ruler, in so far as he is a ruler, isunerring, and, being unerring, always commands that which is for his owninterest; and the subject is required to execute his commands; and therefore,as I said at first and now repeat, justice is the interest of the stronger.

Indeed, Thrasymachus, and do I really appear to you to argue like an informer?

Certainly, he replied.

And do you suppose that I ask these questions with any design of injuring youin the argument?

Nay, he replied, ‘suppose’ is not the word—I know it; but youwill be found out, and by sheer force of argument you will never prevail.

I shall not make the attempt, my dear man; but to avoid any misunderstandingoccurring between us in future, let me ask, in what sense do you speak of aruler or stronger whose interest, as you were saying, he being the superior, itis just that the inferior should execute—is he a ruler in the popular orin the strict sense of the term?

In the strictest of all senses, he said. And now cheat and play the informer ifyou can; I ask no quarter at your hands. But you never will be able, never.

And do you imagine, I said, that I am such a madman as to try and cheat,Thrasymachus? I might as well shave a lion.

Why, he said, you made the attempt a minute ago, and you failed.

Enough, I said, of these civilities. It will be better that I should ask you aquestion: Is the physician, taken in that strict sense of which you arespeaking, a healer of the sick or a maker of money? And remember that I am nowspeaking of the true physician.

A healer of the sick, he replied.

And the pilot—that is to say, the true pilot—is he a captain ofsailors or a mere sailor?

A captain of sailors.

The circumstance that he sails in the ship is not to be taken into account;neither is he to be called a sailor; the name pilot by which he isdistinguished has nothing to do with sailing, but is significant of his skilland of his authority over the sailors.

Very true, he said.

Now, I said, every art has an interest?


For which the art has to consider and provide?

Yes, that is the aim of art.

And the interest of any art is the perfection of it—this and nothingelse?

What do you mean?

I mean what I may illustrate negatively by the example of the body. Suppose youwere to ask me whether the body is self-sufficing or has wants, I should reply:Certainly the body has wants; for the body may be ill and require to be cured,and has therefore interests to which the art of medicine ministers; and this isthe origin and intention of medicine, as you will acknowledge. Am I not right?

Quite right, he replied.

But is the art of medicine or any other art faulty or deficient in any qualityin the same way that the eye may be deficient in sight or the ear fail ofhearing, and therefore requires another art to provide for the interests ofseeing and hearing—has art in itself, I say, any similar liability tofault or defect, and does every art require another supplementary art toprovide for its interests, and that another and another without end? Or havethe arts to look only after their own interests? Or have they no need either ofthemselves or of another?—having no faults or defects, they have no needto correct them, either by the exercise of their own art or of any other; theyhave only to consider the interest of their subject-matter. For every artremains pure and faultless while remaining true—that is to say, whileperfect and unimpaired. Take the words in your precise sense, and tell mewhether I am not right.

Yes, clearly.

Then medicine does not consider the interest of medicine, but the interest ofthe body?

True, he said.

Nor does the art of horsemanship consider the interests of the art ofhorsemanship, but the interests of the horse; neither do any other arts carefor themselves, for they have no needs; they care only for that which is thesubject of their art?

True, he said.

But surely, Thrasymachus, the arts are the superiors and rulers of their ownsubjects?

To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.

Then, I said, no science or art considers or enjoins the interest of thestronger or superior, but only the interest of the subject and weaker?

He made an attempt to contest this proposition also, but finally acquiesced.

Then, I continued, no physician, in so far as he is a physician, considers hisown good in what he prescribes, but the good of his patient; for the truephysician is also a ruler having the human body as a subject, and is not a meremoney-maker; that has been admitted?


And the pilot likewise, in the strict sense of the term, is a ruler of sailorsand not a mere sailor?

That has been admitted.

And such a pilot and ruler will provide and prescribe for the interest of thesailor who is under him, and not for his own or the ruler’s interest?

He gave a reluctant ‘Yes.’

Then, I said, Thrasymachus, there is no one in any rule who, in so far as he isa ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his own interest, but always what isfor the interest of his subject or suitable to his art; to that he looks, andthat alone he considers in everything which he says and does.

When we had got to this point in the argument, and every one saw that thedefinition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead ofreplying to me, said: Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?

Why do you ask such a question, I said, when you ought rather to be answering?

Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose: she has not eventaught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.

What makes you say that? I replied.

Because you fancy that the shepherd or neatherd fattens or tends the sheep oroxen with a view to their own good and not to the good of himself or hismaster; and you further imagine that the rulers of states, if they are truerulers, never think of their subjects as sheep, and that they are not studyingtheir own advantage day and night. Oh, no; and so entirely astray are you inyour ideas about the just and unjust as not even to know that justice and thejust are in reality another’s good; that is to say, the interest of theruler and stronger, and the loss of the subject and servant; and injustice theopposite; for the unjust is lord over the truly simple and just: he is thestronger, and his subjects do what is for his interest, and minister to hishappiness, which is very far from being their own. Consider further, mostfoolish Socrates, that the just is always a loser in comparison with theunjust. First of all, in private contracts: wherever the unjust is the partnerof the just you will find that, when the partnership is dissolved, the unjustman has always more and the just less. Secondly, in their dealings with theState: when there is an income-tax, the just man will pay more and the unjustless on the same amount of income; and when there is anything to be receivedthe one gains nothing and the other much. Observe also what happens when theytake an office; there is the just man neglecting his affairs and perhapssuffering other losses, and getting nothing out of the public, because he isjust; moreover he is hated by his friends and acquaintance for refusing toserve them in unlawful ways. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjustman. I am speaking, as before, of injustice on a large scale in which theadvantage of the unjust is most apparent; and my meaning will be most clearlyseen if we turn to that highest form of injustice in which the criminal is thehappiest of men, and the sufferers or those who refuse to do injustice are themost miserable—that is to say tyranny, which by fraud and force takesaway the property of others, not little by little but wholesale; comprehendingin one, things sacred as well as profane, private and public; for which acts ofwrong, if he were detected perpetrating any one of them singly, he would bepunished and incur great disgrace—they who do such wrong in particularcases are called robbers of temples, and man-stealers and burglars andswindlers and thieves. But when a man besides taking away the money of thecitizens has made slaves of them, then, instead of these names of reproach, heis termed happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by all who hear ofhis having achieved the consummation of injustice. For mankind censureinjustice, fearing that they may be the victims of it and not because theyshrink from committing it. And thus, as I have shown, Socrates, injustice, whenon a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice;and, as I said at first, justice is the interest of the stronger, whereasinjustice is a man’s own profit and interest.

Thrasymachus, when he had thus spoken, having, like a bath-man, deluged ourears with his words, had a mind to go away. But the company would not let him;they insisted that he should remain and defend his position; and I myself addedmy own humble request that he would not leave us. Thrasymachus, I said to him,excellent man, how suggestive are your remarks! And are you going to run awaybefore you have fairly taught or learned whether they are true or not? Is theattempt to determine the way of man’s life so small a matter in youreyes—to determine how life may be passed by each one of us to thegreatest advantage?

And do I differ from you, he said, as to the importance of the enquiry?

You appear rather, I replied, to have no care or thought about us,Thrasymachus—whether we live better or worse from not knowing what yousay you know, is to you a matter of indifference. Prithee, friend, do not keepyour knowledge to yourself; we are a large party; and any benefit which youconfer upon us will be amply rewarded. For my own part I openly declare that Iam not convinced, and that I do not believe injustice to be more gainful thanjustice, even if uncontrolled and allowed to have free play. For, granting thatthere may be an unjust man who is able to commit injustice either by fraud orforce, still this does not convince me of the superior advantage of injustice,and there may be others who are in the same predicament with myself. Perhaps wemay be wrong; if so, you in your wisdom should convince us that we are mistakenin preferring justice to injustice.

And how am I to convince you, he said, if you are not already convinced by whatI have just said; what more can I do for you? Would you have me put the proofbodily into your souls?

Heaven forbid! I said; I would only ask you to be consistent; or, if youchange, change openly and let there be no deception. For I must remark,Thrasymachus, if you will recall what was previously said, that although youbegan by defining the true physician in an exact sense, you did not observe alike exactness when speaking of the shepherd; you thought that the shepherd asa shepherd tends the sheep not with a view to their own good, but like a merediner or banquetter with a view to the pleasures of the table; or, again, as atrader for sale in the market, and not as a shepherd. Yet surely the art of theshepherd is concerned only with the good of his subjects; he has only toprovide the best for them, since the perfection of the art is already ensuredwhenever all the requirements of it are satisfied. And that was what I wassaying just now about the ruler. I conceived that the art of the ruler,considered as ruler, whether in a state or in private life, could only regardthe good of his flock or subjects; whereas you seem to think that the rulers instates, that is to say, the true rulers, like being in authority.

Think! Nay, I am sure of it.

Then why in the case of lesser offices do men never take them willingly withoutpayment, unless under the idea that they govern for the advantage not ofthemselves but of others? Let me ask you a question: Are not the several artsdifferent, by reason of their each having a separate function? And, my dearillustrious friend, do say what you think, that we may make a little progress.

Yes, that is the difference, he replied.

And each art gives us a particular good and not merely a generalone—medicine, for example, gives us health; navigation, safety at sea,and so on?

Yes, he said.

And the art of payment has the special function of giving pay: but we do notconfuse this with other arts, any more than the art of the pilot is to beconfused with the art of medicine, because the health of the pilot may beimproved by a sea voyage. You would not be inclined to say, would you, thatnavigation is the art of medicine, at least if we are to adopt your exact useof language?

Certainly not.

Or because a man is in good health when he receives pay you would not say thatthe art of payment is medicine?

I should not.

Nor would you say that medicine is the art of receiving pay because a man takesfees when he is engaged in healing?

Certainly not.

And we have admitted, I said, that the good of each art is specially confinedto the art?


Then, if there be any good which all artists have in common, that is to beattributed to something of which they all have the common use?

True, he replied.

And when the artist is benefited by receiving pay the advantage is gained by anadditional use of the art of pay, which is not the art professed by him?

He gave a reluctant assent to this.

Then the pay is not derived by the several artists from their respective arts.But the truth is, that while the art of medicine gives health, and the art ofthe builder builds a house, another art attends them which is the art of pay.The various arts may be doing their own business and benefiting that over whichthey preside, but would the artist receive any benefit from his art unless hewere paid as well?

I suppose not.

But does he therefore confer no benefit when he works for nothing?

Certainly, he confers a benefit.

Then now, Thrasymachus, there is no longer any doubt that neither arts norgovernments provide for their own interests; but, as we were before saying,they rule and provide for the interests of their subjects who are the weakerand not the stronger—to their good they attend and not to the good of thesuperior. And this is the reason, my dear Thrasymachus, why, as I was just nowsaying, no one is willing to govern; because no one likes to take in hand thereformation of evils which are not his concern without remuneration. For, inthe execution of his work, and in giving his orders to another, the true artistdoes not regard his own interest, but always that of his subjects; andtherefore in order that rulers may be willing to rule, they must be paid in oneof three modes of payment, money, or honour, or a penalty for refusing.

What do you mean, Socrates? said Glaucon. The first two modes of payment areintelligible enough, but what the penalty is I do not understand, or how apenalty can be a payment.

You mean that you do not understand the nature of this payment which to thebest men is the great inducement to rule? Of course you know that ambition andavarice are held to be, as indeed they are, a disgrace?

Very true.

And for this reason, I said, money and honour have no attraction for them; goodmen do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get thename of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the publicrevenues to get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not careabout honour. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must beinduced to serve from the fear of punishment. And this, as I imagine, is thereason why the forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled,has been deemed dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that hewho refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. Andthe fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not becausethey would, but because they cannot help—not under the idea that they aregoing to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, andbecause they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is betterthan themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think that if a citywere composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much anobject of contention as to obtain office is at present; then we should haveplain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to regard his owninterest, but that of his subjects; and every one who knew this would chooserather to receive a benefit from another than to have the trouble of conferringone. So far am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that justice is the interestof the stronger. This latter question need not be further discussed at present;but when Thrasymachus says that the life of the unjust is more advantageousthan that of the just, his new statement appears to me to be of a far moreserious character. Which of us has spoken truly? And which sort of life,Glaucon, do you prefer?

I for my part deem the life of the just to be the more advantageous, heanswered.

Did you hear all the advantages of the unjust which Thrasymachus wasrehearsing?

Yes, I heard him, he replied, but he has not convinced me.

Then shall we try to find some way of convincing him, if we can, that he issaying what is not true?

Most certainly, he replied.

If, I said, he makes a set speech and we make another recounting all theadvantages of being just, and he answers and we rejoin, there must be anumbering and measuring of the goods which are claimed on either side, and inthe end we shall want judges to decide; but if we proceed in our enquiry as welately did, by making admissions to one another, we shall unite the offices ofjudge and advocate in our own persons.

Very good, he said.

And which method do I understand you to prefer? I said.

That which you propose.

Well, then, Thrasymachus, I said, suppose you begin at the beginning and answerme. You say that perfect injustice is more gainful than perfect justice?

Yes, that is what I say, and I have given you my reasons.

And what is your view about them? Would you call one of them virtue and theother vice?


I suppose that you would call justice virtue and injustice vice?

What a charming notion! So likely too, seeing that I affirm injustice to beprofitable and justice not.

What else then would you say?

The opposite, he replied.

And would you call justice vice?

No, I would rather say sublime simplicity.

Then would you call injustice malignity?

No; I would rather say discretion.

And do the unjust appear to you to be wise and good?

Yes, he said; at any rate those of them who are able to be perfectly unjust,and who have the power of subduing states and nations; but perhaps you imagineme to be talking of cutpurses. Even this profession if undetected hasadvantages, though they are not to be compared with those of which I was justnow speaking.

I do not think that I misapprehend your meaning, Thrasymachus, I replied; butstill I cannot hear without amazement that you class injustice with wisdom andvirtue, and justice with the opposite.

Certainly I do so class them.

Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unanswerable ground; for ifthe injustice which you were maintaining to be profitable had been admitted byyou as by others to be vice and deformity, an answer might have been given toyou on received principles; but now I perceive that you will call injusticehonourable and strong, and to the unjust you will attribute all the qualitieswhich were attributed by us before to the just, seeing that you do not hesitateto rank injustice with wisdom and virtue.

You have guessed most infallibly, he replied.

Then I certainly ought not to shrink from going through with the argument solong as I have reason to think that you, Thrasymachus, are speaking your realmind; for I do believe that you are now in earnest and are not amusing yourselfat our expense.

I may be in earnest or not, but what is that to you?—to refute theargument is your business.

Very true, I said; that is what I have to do: But will you be so good as answeryet one more question? Does the just man try to gain any advantage over thejust?

Far otherwise; if he did he would not be the simple amusing creature which heis.

And would he try to go beyond just action?

He would not.

And how would he regard the attempt to gain an advantage over the unjust; wouldthat be considered by him as just or unjust?

He would think it just, and would try to gain the advantage; but he would notbe able.

Whether he would or would not be able, I said, is not to the point. My questionis only whether the just man, while refusing to have more than another justman, would wish and claim to have more than the unjust?

Yes, he would.

And what of the unjust—does he claim to have more than the just man andto do more than is just?

Of course, he said, for he claims to have more than all men.

And the unjust man will strive and struggle to obtain more than the unjust manor action, in order that he may have more than all?


We may put the matter thus, I said—the just does not desire more than hislike but more than his unlike, whereas the unjust desires more than both hislike and his unlike?

Nothing, he said, can be better than that statement.

And the unjust is good and wise, and the just is neither?

Good again, he said.

And is not the unjust like the wise and good and the just unlike them?

Of course, he said, he who is of a certain nature, is like those who are of acertain nature; he who is not, not.

Each of them, I said, is such as his like is?

Certainly, he replied.

Very good, Thrasymachus, I said; and now to take the case of the arts: youwould admit that one man is a musician and another not a musician?


And which is wise and which is foolish?

Clearly the musician is wise, and he who is not a musician is foolish.

And he is good in as far as he is wise, and bad in as far as he is foolish?


And you would say the same sort of thing of the physician?


And do you think, my excellent friend, that a musician when he adjusts the lyrewould desire or claim to exceed or go beyond a musician in the tightening andloosening the strings?

I do not think that he would.

But he would claim to exceed the non-musician?

Of course.

And what would you say of the physician? In prescribing meats and drinks wouldhe wish to go beyond another physician or beyond the practice of medicine?

He would not.

But he would wish to go beyond the non-physician?


And about knowledge and ignorance in general; see whether you think that anyman who has knowledge ever would wish to have the choice of saying or doingmore than another man who has knowledge. Would he not rather say or do the sameas his like in the same case?

That, I suppose, can hardly be denied.

And what of the ignorant? would he not desire to have more than either theknowing or the ignorant?

I dare say.

And the knowing is wise?


And the wise is good?


Then the wise and good will not desire to gain more than his like, but morethan his unlike and opposite?

I suppose so.

Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than both?


But did we not say, Thrasymachus, that the unjust goes beyond both his like andunlike? Were not these your words?

They were.

And you also said that the just will not go beyond his like but his unlike?


Then the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the evil andignorant?

That is the inference.

And each of them is such as his like is?

That was admitted.

Then the just has turned out to be wise and good and the unjust evil andignorant.

Thrasymachus made all these admissions, not fluently, as I repeat them, butwith extreme reluctance; it was a hot summer’s day, and the perspirationpoured from him in torrents; and then I saw what I had never seen before,Thrasymachus blushing. As we were now agreed that justice was virtue andwisdom, and injustice vice and ignorance, I proceeded to another point:

Well, I said, Thrasymachus, that matter is now settled; but were we not alsosaying that injustice had strength; do you remember?

Yes, I remember, he said, but do not suppose that I approve of what you aresaying or have no answer; if however I were to answer, you would be quitecertain to accuse me of haranguing; therefore either permit me to have my sayout, or if you would rather ask, do so, and I will answer ‘Verygood,’ as they say to story-telling old women, and will nod‘Yes’ and ‘No.’

Certainly not, I said, if contrary to your real opinion.

Yes, he said, I will, to please you, since you will not let me speak. What elsewould you have?

Nothing in the world, I said; and if you are so disposed I will ask and youshall answer.


Then I will repeat the question which I asked before, in order that ourexamination of the relative nature of justice and injustice may be carried onregularly. A statement was made that injustice is stronger and more powerfulthan justice, but now justice, having been identified with wisdom and virtue,is easily shown to be stronger than injustice, if injustice is ignorance; thiscan no longer be questioned by any one. But I want to view the matter,Thrasymachus, in a different way: You would not deny that a state may be unjustand may be unjustly attempting to enslave other states, or may have alreadyenslaved them, and may be holding many of them in subjection?

True, he replied; and I will add that the best and most perfectly unjust statewill be most likely to do so.

I know, I said, that such was your position; but what I would further consideris, whether this power which is possessed by the superior state can exist or beexercised without justice or only with justice.

If you are right in your view, and justice is wisdom, then only with justice;but if I am right, then without justice.

I am delighted, Thrasymachus, to see you not only nodding assent and dissent,but making answers which are quite excellent.

That is out of civility to you, he replied.

You are very kind, I said; and would you have the goodness also to inform me,whether you think that a state, or an army, or a band of robbers and thieves,or any other gang of evil-doers could act at all if they injured one another?

No indeed, he said, they could not.

But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act togetherbetter?


And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and fighting, andjustice imparts harmony and friendship; is not that true, Thrasymachus?

I agree, he said, because I do not wish to quarrel with you.

How good of you, I said; but I should like to know also whether injustice,having this tendency to arouse hatred, wherever existing, among slaves or amongfreemen, will not make them hate one another and set them at variance andrender them incapable of common action?


And even if injustice be found in two only, will they not quarrel and fight,and become enemies to one another and to the just?

They will.

And suppose injustice abiding in a single person, would your wisdom say thatshe loses or that she retains her natural power?

Let us assume that she retains her power.

Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a nature that wherevershe takes up her abode, whether in a city, in an army, in a family, or in anyother body, that body is, to begin with, rendered incapable of united action byreason of sedition and distraction; and does it not become its own enemy and atvariance with all that opposes it, and with the just? Is not this the case?

Yes, certainly.

And is not injustice equally fatal when existing in a single person; in thefirst place rendering him incapable of action because he is not at unity withhimself, and in the second place making him an enemy to himself and the just?Is not that true, Thrasymachus?


And O my friend, I said, surely the gods are just?

Granted that they are.

But if so, the unjust will be the enemy of the gods, and the just will be theirfriend?

Feast away in triumph, and take your fill of the argument; I will not opposeyou, lest I should displease the company.

Well then, proceed with your answers, and let me have the remainder of myrepast. For we have already shown that the just are clearly wiser and betterand abler than the unjust, and that the unjust are incapable of common action;nay more, that to speak as we did of men who are evil acting at any timevigorously together, is not strictly true, for if they had been perfectly evil,they would have laid hands upon one another; but it is evident that there musthave been some remnant of justice in them, which enabled them to combine; ifthere had not been they would have injured one another as well as theirvictims; they were but half-villains in their enterprises; for had they beenwhole villains, and utterly unjust, they would have been utterly incapable ofaction. That, as I believe, is the truth of the matter, and not what you saidat first. But whether the just have a better and happier life than the unjustis a further question which we also proposed to consider. I think that theyhave, and for the reasons which I have given; but still I should like toexamine further, for no light matter is at stake, nothing less than the rule ofhuman life.


I will proceed by asking a question: Would you not say that a horse has someend?

I should.

And the end or use of a horse or of anything would be that which could not beaccomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other thing?

I do not understand, he said.

Let me explain: Can you see, except with the eye?

Certainly not.

Or hear, except with the ear?


These then may be truly said to be the ends of these organs?

They may.

But you can cut off a vine-branch with a dagger or with a chisel, and in manyother ways?

Of course.

And yet not so well as with a pruning-hook made for the purpose?


May we not say that this is the end of a pruning-hook?

We may.

Then now I think you will have no difficulty in understanding my meaning when Iasked the question whether the end of anything would be that which could not beaccomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other thing?

I understand your meaning, he said, and assent.

And that to which an end is appointed has also an excellence? Need I ask againwhether the eye has an end?

It has.

And has not the eye an excellence?


And the ear has an end and an excellence also?


And the same is true of all other things; they have each of them an end and aspecial excellence?

That is so.

Well, and can the eyes fulfil their end if they are wanting in their own properexcellence and have a defect instead?

How can they, he said, if they are blind and cannot see?

You mean to say, if they have lost their proper excellence, which is sight; butI have not arrived at that point yet. I would rather ask the question moregenerally, and only enquire whether the things which fulfil their ends fulfilthem by their own proper excellence, and fail of fulfilling them by their owndefect?

Certainly, he replied.

I might say the same of the ears; when deprived of their own proper excellencethey cannot fulfil their end?


And the same observation will apply to all other things?

I agree.

Well; and has not the soul an end which nothing else can fulfil? for example,to superintend and command and deliberate and the like. Are not these functionsproper to the soul, and can they rightly be assigned to any other?

To no other.

And is not life to be reckoned among the ends of the soul?

Assuredly, he said.

And has not the soul an excellence also?


And can she or can she not fulfil her own ends when deprived of thatexcellence?

She cannot.

Then an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler and superintendent, and thegood soul a good ruler?

Yes, necessarily.

And we have admitted that justice is the excellence of the soul, and injusticethe defect of the soul?

That has been admitted.

Then the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man willlive ill?

That is what your argument proves.

And he who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the reverse ofhappy?


Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable?

So be it.

But happiness and not misery is profitable.

Of course.

Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice can never be more profitable thanjustice.

Let this, Socrates, he said, be your entertainment at the Bendidea.

For which I am indebted to you, I said, now that you have grown gentle towardsme and have left off scolding. Nevertheless, I have not been well entertained;but that was my own fault and not yours. As an epicure snatches a taste ofevery dish which is successively brought to table, he not having allowedhimself time to enjoy the one before, so have I gone from one subject toanother without having discovered what I sought at first, the nature ofjustice. I left that enquiry and turned away to consider whether justice isvirtue and wisdom or evil and folly; and when there arose a further questionabout the comparative advantages of justice and injustice, I could not refrainfrom passing on to that. And the result of the whole discussion has been that Iknow nothing at all. For I know not what justice is, and therefore I am notlikely to know whether it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the justman is happy or unhappy.


With these words I was thinking that I had made an end of the discussion; butthe end, in truth, proved to be only a beginning. For Glaucon, who is alwaysthe most pugnacious of men, was dissatisfied at Thrasymachus’ retirement;he wanted to have the battle out. So he said to me: Socrates, do you wishreally to persuade us, or only to seem to have persuaded us, that to be just isalways better than to be unjust?

I should wish really to persuade you, I replied, if I could.

Then you certainly have not succeeded. Let me ask you now:—How would youarrange goods—are there not some which we welcome for their own sakes,and independently of their consequences, as, for example, harmless pleasuresand enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although nothing follows fromthem?

I agree in thinking that there is such a class, I replied.

Is there not also a second class of goods, such as knowledge, sight, health,which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results?

Certainly, I said.

And would you not recognize a third class, such as gymnastic, and the care ofthe sick, and the physician’s art; also the various ways ofmoney-making—these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable; and noone would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some rewardor result which flows from them?

There is, I said, this third class also. But why do you ask?

Because I want to know in which of the three classes you would place justice?

In the highest class, I replied,—among those goods which he who would behappy desires both for their own sake and for the sake of their results.

Then the many are of another mind; they think that justice is to be reckoned inthe troublesome class, among goods which are to be pursued for the sake ofrewards and of reputation, but in themselves are disagreeable and rather to beavoided.

I know, I said, that this is their manner of thinking, and that this was thethesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just now, when he censured justiceand praised injustice. But I am too stupid to be convinced by him.

I wish, he said, that you would hear me as well as him, and then I shall seewhether you and I agree. For Thrasymachus seems to me, like a snake, to havebeen charmed by your voice sooner than he ought to have been; but to my mindthe nature of justice and injustice have not yet been made clear. Setting asidetheir rewards and results, I want to know what they are in themselves, and howthey inwardly work in the soul. If you, please, then, I will revive theargument of Thrasymachus. And first I will speak of the nature and origin ofjustice according to the common view of them. Secondly, I will show that allmen who practise justice do so against their will, of necessity, but not as agood. And thirdly, I will argue that there is reason in this view, for the lifeof the unjust is after all better far than the life of the just—if whatthey say is true, Socrates, since I myself am not of their opinion. But still Iacknowledge that I am perplexed when I hear the voices of Thrasymachus andmyriads of others dinning in my ears; and, on the other hand, I have never yetheard the superiority of justice to injustice maintained by any one in asatisfactory way. I want to hear justice praised in respect of itself; then Ishall be satisfied, and you are the person from whom I think that I am mostlikely to hear this; and therefore I will praise the unjust life to the utmostof my power, and my manner of speaking will indicate the manner in which Idesire to hear you too praising justice and censuring injustice. Will you saywhether you approve of my proposal?

Indeed I do; nor can I imagine any theme about which a man of sense wouldoftener wish to converse.

I am delighted, he replied, to hear you say so, and shall begin by speaking, asI proposed, of the nature and origin of justice.

They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil;but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have both done andsuffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid theone and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree amongthemselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and mutual covenants; andthat which is ordained by law is termed by them lawful and just. This theyaffirm to be the origin and nature of justice;—it is a mean orcompromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not bepunished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the powerof retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, istolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honoured by reason of theinability of men to do injustice. For no man who is worthy to be called a manwould ever submit to such an agreement if he were able to resist; he would bemad if he did. Such is the received account, Socrates, of the nature and originof justice.

Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they havenot the power to be unjust will best appear if we imagine something of thiskind: having given both to the just and the unjust power to do what they will,let us watch and see whither desire will lead them; then we shall discover inthe very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding along the same road,following their interest, which all natures deem to be their good, and are onlydiverted into the path of justice by the force of law. The liberty which we aresupposing may be most completely given to them in the form of such a power asis said to have been possessed by Gyges, the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian.According to the tradition, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king ofLydia; there was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earthat the place where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descendedinto the opening, where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse,having doors, at which he stooping and looking in saw a dead body of stature,as appeared to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a gold ring;this he took from the finger of the dead and reascended. Now the shepherds mettogether, according to custom, that they might send their monthly report aboutthe flocks to the king; into their assembly he came having the ring on hisfinger, and as he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the collet of thering inside his hand, when instantly he became invisible to the rest of thecompany and they began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. He wasastonished at this, and again touching the ring he turned the collet outwardsand reappeared; he made several trials of the ring, and always with the sameresult—when he turned the collet inwards he became invisible, whenoutwards he reappeared. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of themessengers who were sent to the court; whereas soon as he arrived he seducedthe queen, and with her help conspired against the king and slew him, and tookthe kingdom. Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just puton one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of suchan iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his handsoff what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of themarket, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill orrelease from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men.Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they wouldboth come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a greatproof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice isany good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinksthat he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in theirhearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice,and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. Ifyou could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and neverdoing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought bythe lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him toone another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fearthat they too might suffer injustice. Enough of this.

Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, wemust isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to beeffected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just manentirely just; nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are tobe perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives. First, let theunjust be like other distinguished masters of craft; like the skilful pilot orphysician, who knows intuitively his own powers and keeps within their limits,and who, if he fails at any point, is able to recover himself. So let theunjust make his unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means tobe great in his injustice: (he who is found out is nobody:) for the highestreach of injustice is, to be deemed just when you are not. Therefore I say thatin the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there isto be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust acts, tohave acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a falsestep he must be able to recover himself; he must be one who can speak witheffect, if any of his deeds come to light, and who can force his way whereforce is required by his courage and strength, and command of money andfriends. And at his side let us place the just man in his nobleness andsimplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to seem good. There mustbe no seeming, for if he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, andthen we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for thesake of honours and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, andhave no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the oppositeof the former. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst;then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will beaffected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thusto the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both havereached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice,let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.

Heavens! my dear Glaucon, I said, how energetically you polish them up for thedecision, first one and then the other, as if they were two statues.

I do my best, he said. And now that we know what they are like there is nodifficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them. This Iwill proceed to describe; but as you may think the description a little toocoarse, I ask you to suppose, Socrates, that the words which follow are notmine.—Let me put them into the mouths of the eulogists of injustice: Theywill tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked,bound—will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering everykind of evil, he will be impaled: Then he will understand that he ought to seemonly, and not to be, just; the words of Aeschylus may be more truly spoken ofthe unjust than of the just. For the unjust is pursuing a reality; he does notlive with a view to appearances—he wants to be really unjust and not toseem only:—

‘His mind has a soil deep and fertile, Out of which spring his prudentcounsels.’

In the first place, he is thought just, and therefore bears rule in the city;he can marry whom he will, and give in marriage to whom he will; also he cantrade and deal where he likes, and always to his own advantage, because he hasno misgivings about injustice; and at every contest, whether in public orprivate, he gets the better of his antagonists, and gains at their expense, andis rich, and out of his gains he can benefit his friends, and harm his enemies;moreover, he can offer sacrifices, and dedicate gifts to the gods abundantlyand magnificently, and can honour the gods or any man whom he wants to honourin a far better style than the just, and therefore he is likely to be dearerthan they are to the gods. And thus, Socrates, gods and men are said to unitein making the life of the unjust better than the life of the just.

I was going to say something in answer to Glaucon, when Adeimantus, hisbrother, interposed: Socrates, he said, you do not suppose that there isnothing more to be urged?

Why, what else is there? I answered.

The strongest point of all has not been even mentioned, he replied.

Well, then, according to the proverb, ‘Let brother helpbrother’—if he fails in any part do you assist him; although I mustconfess that Glaucon has already said quite enough to lay me in the dust, andtake from me the power of helping justice.

Nonsense, he replied. But let me add something more: There is another side toGlaucon’s argument about the praise and censure of justice and injustice,which is equally required in order to bring out what I believe to be hismeaning. Parents and tutors are always telling their sons and their wards thatthey are to be just; but why? not for the sake of justice, but for the sake ofcharacter and reputation; in the hope of obtaining for him who is reputed justsome of those offices, marriages, and the like which Glaucon has enumeratedamong the advantages accruing to the unjust from the reputation of justice.More, however, is made of appearances by this class of persons than by theothers; for they throw in the good opinion of the gods, and will tell you of ashower of benefits which the heavens, as they say, rain upon the pious; andthis accords with the testimony of the noble Hesiod and Homer, the first ofwhom says, that the gods make the oaks of the just—

‘To bear acorns at their summit, and bees in themiddle;
And the sheep are bowed down with the weight of their fleeces,’

and many other blessings of a like kind are provided for them. And Homer has avery similar strain; for he speaks of one whose fame is—

‘As the fame of some blameless king who, like a god, Maintains justice;to whom the black earth brings forth Wheat and barley, whose trees are bowedwith fruit, And his sheep never fail to bear, and the sea gives himfish.’

Still grander are the gifts of heaven which Musaeus and his son vouchsafe tothe just; they take them down into the world below, where they have the saintslying on couches at a feast, everlastingly drunk, crowned with garlands; theiridea seems to be that an immortality of drunkenness is the highest meed ofvirtue. Some extend their rewards yet further; the posterity, as they say, ofthe faithful and just shall survive to the third and fourth generation. This isthe style in which they praise justice. But about the wicked there is anotherstrain; they bury them in a slough in Hades, and make them carry water in asieve; also while they are yet living they bring them to infamy, and inflictupon them the punishments which Glaucon described as the portion of the justwho are reputed to be unjust; nothing else does their invention supply. Such istheir manner of praising the one and censuring the other.

Once more, Socrates, I will ask you to consider another way of speaking aboutjustice and injustice, which is not confined to the poets, but is found inprose writers. The universal voice of mankind is always declaring that justiceand virtue are honourable, but grievous and toilsome; and that the pleasures ofvice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are only censured by law andopinion. They say also that honesty is for the most part less profitable thandishonesty; and they are quite ready to call wicked men happy, and to honourthem both in public and private when they are rich or in any other wayinfluential, while they despise and overlook those who may be weak and poor,even though acknowledging them to be better than the others. But mostextraordinary of all is their mode of speaking about virtue and the gods: theysay that the gods apportion calamity and misery to many good men, and good andhappiness to the wicked. And mendicant prophets go to rich men’s doorsand persuade them that they have a power committed to them by the gods ofmaking an atonement for a man’s own or his ancestor’s sins bysacrifices or charms, with rejoicings and feasts; and they promise to harm anenemy, whether just or unjust, at a small cost; with magic arts andincantations binding heaven, as they say, to execute their will. And the poetsare the authorities to whom they appeal, now smoothing the path of vice withthe words of Hesiod;—

‘Vice may be had in abundance without trouble; the way is smooth and herdwelling-place is near. But before virtue the gods have set toil,’

and a tedious and uphill road: then citing Homer as a witness that the gods maybe influenced by men; for he also says:—

‘The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to themand avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libationsand the odour of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.’

And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Orpheus, who werechildren of the Moon and the Muses—that is what they say—accordingto which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, butwhole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrificesand amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of theliving and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem usfrom the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

He proceeded: And now when the young hear all this said about virtue and vice,and the way in which gods and men regard them, how are their minds likely to beaffected, my dear Socrates,—those of them, I mean, who are quickwitted,and, like bees on the wing, light on every flower, and from all that they hearare prone to draw conclusions as to what manner of persons they should be andin what way they should walk if they would make the best of life? Probably theyouth will say to himself in the words of Pindar—

‘Can I by justice or by crooked ways of deceit ascend a loftier towerwhich may be a fortress to me all my days?’

For what men say is that, if I am really just and am not also thought justprofit there is none, but the pain and loss on the other hand areunmistakeable. But if, though unjust, I acquire the reputation of justice, aheavenly life is promised to me. Since then, as philosophers prove, appearancetyrannizes over truth and is lord of happiness, to appearance I must devotemyself. I will describe around me a picture and shadow of virtue to be thevestibule and exterior of my house; behind I will trail the subtle and craftyfox, as Archilochus, greatest of sages, recommends. But I hear some oneexclaiming that the concealment of wickedness is often difficult; to which Ianswer, Nothing great is easy. Nevertheless, the argument indicates this, if wewould be happy, to be the path along which we should proceed. With a view toconcealment we will establish secret brotherhoods and political clubs. Andthere are professors of rhetoric who teach the art of persuading courts andassemblies; and so, partly by persuasion and partly by force, I shall makeunlawful gains and not be punished. Still I hear a voice saying that the godscannot be deceived, neither can they be compelled. But what if there are nogods? or, suppose them to have no care of human things—why in either caseshould we mind about concealment? And even if there are gods, and they do careabout us, yet we know of them only from tradition and the genealogies of thepoets; and these are the very persons who say that they may be influenced andturned by ‘sacrifices and soothing entreaties and by offerings.’Let us be consistent then, and believe both or neither. If the poets speaktruly, why then we had better be unjust, and offer of the fruits of injustice;for if we are just, although we may escape the vengeance of heaven, we shalllose the gains of injustice; but, if we are unjust, we shall keep the gains,and by our sinning and praying, and praying and sinning, the gods will bepropitiated, and we shall not be punished. ‘But there is a world below inwhich either we or our posterity will suffer for our unjust deeds.’ Yes,my friend, will be the reflection, but there are mysteries and atoning deities,and these have great power. That is what mighty cities declare; and thechildren of the gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like testimony.

On what principle, then, shall we any longer choose justice rather than theworst injustice? when, if we only unite the latter with a deceitful regard toappearances, we shall fare to our mind both with gods and men, in life andafter death, as the most numerous and the highest authorities tell us. Knowingall this, Socrates, how can a man who has any superiority of mind or person orrank or wealth, be willing to honour justice; or indeed to refrain fromlaughing when he hears justice praised? And even if there should be some onewho is able to disprove the truth of my words, and who is satisfied thatjustice is best, still he is not angry with the unjust, but is very ready toforgive them, because he also knows that men are not just of their own freewill; unless, peradventure, there be some one whom the divinity within him mayhave inspired with a hatred of injustice, or who has attained knowledge of thetruth—but no other man. He only blames injustice who, owing to cowardiceor age or some weakness, has not the power of being unjust. And this is provedby the fact that when he obtains the power, he immediately becomes unjust asfar as he can be.

The cause of all this, Socrates, was indicated by us at the beginning of theargument, when my brother and I told you how astonished we were to find that ofall the professing panegyrists of justice—beginning with the ancientheroes of whom any memorial has been preserved to us, and ending with the menof our own time—no one has ever blamed injustice or praised justiceexcept with a view to the glories, honours, and benefits which flow from them.No one has ever adequately described either in verse or prose the trueessential nature of either of them abiding in the soul, and invisible to anyhuman or divine eye; or shown that of all the things of a man’s soulwhich he has within him, justice is the greatest good, and injustice thegreatest evil. Had this been the universal strain, had you sought to persuadeus of this from our youth upwards, we should not have been on the watch to keepone another from doing wrong, but every one would have been his own watchman,because afraid, if he did wrong, of harbouring in himself the greatest ofevils. I dare say that Thrasymachus and others would seriously hold thelanguage which I have been merely repeating, and words even stronger than theseabout justice and injustice, grossly, as I conceive, perverting their truenature. But I speak in this vehement manner, as I must frankly confess to you,because I want to hear from you the opposite side; and I would ask you to shownot only the superiority which justice has over injustice, but what effect theyhave on the possessor of them which makes the one to be a good and the other anevil to him. And please, as Glaucon requested of you, to exclude reputations;for unless you take away from each of them his true reputation and add on thefalse, we shall say that you do not praise justice, but the appearance of it;we shall think that you are only exhorting us to keep injustice dark, and thatyou really agree with Thrasymachus in thinking that justice is another’sgood and the interest of the stronger, and that injustice is a man’s ownprofit and interest, though injurious to the weaker. Now as you have admittedthat justice is one of that highest class of goods which are desired indeed fortheir results, but in a far greater degree for their own sakes—like sightor hearing or knowledge or health, or any other real and natural and not merelyconventional good—I would ask you in your praise of justice to regard onepoint only: I mean the essential good and evil which justice and injustice workin the possessors of them. Let others praise justice and censure injustice,magnifying the rewards and honours of the one and abusing the other; that is amanner of arguing which, coming from them, I am ready to tolerate, but from youwho have spent your whole life in the consideration of this question, unless Ihear the contrary from your own lips, I expect something better. And therefore,I say, not only prove to us that justice is better than injustice, but showwhat they either of them do to the possessor of them, which makes the one to bea good and the other an evil, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.

I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus, but on hearing thesewords I was quite delighted, and said: Sons of an illustrious father, that wasnot a bad beginning of the Elegiac verses which the admirer of Glaucon made inhonour of you after you had distinguished yourselves at the battle ofMegara:—

‘Sons of Ariston,’ he sang, ‘divine offspring of anillustrious hero.’

The epithet is very appropriate, for there is something truly divine in beingable to argue as you have done for the superiority of injustice, and remainingunconvinced by your own arguments. And I do believe that you are notconvinced—this I infer from your general character, for had I judged onlyfrom your speeches I should have mistrusted you. But now, the greater myconfidence in you, the greater is my difficulty in knowing what to say. For Iam in a strait between two; on the one hand I feel that I am unequal to thetask; and my inability is brought home to me by the fact that you were notsatisfied with the answer which I made to Thrasymachus, proving, as I thought,the superiority which justice has over injustice. And yet I cannot refuse tohelp, while breath and speech remain to me; I am afraid that there would be animpiety in being present when justice is evil spoken of and not lifting up ahand in her defence. And therefore I had best give such help as I can.

Glaucon and the rest entreated me by all means not to let the question drop,but to proceed in the investigation. They wanted to arrive at the truth, first,about the nature of justice and injustice, and secondly, about their relativeadvantages. I told them, what I really thought, that the enquiry would be of aserious nature, and would require very good eyes. Seeing then, I said, that weare no great wits, I think that we had better adopt a method which I mayillustrate thus; suppose that a short-sighted person had been asked by some oneto read small letters from a distance; and it occurred to some one else thatthey might be found in another place which was larger and in which the letterswere larger—if they were the same and he could read the larger lettersfirst, and then proceed to the lesser—this would have been thought a rarepiece of good fortune.

Very true, said Adeimantus; but how does the illustration apply to our enquiry?

I will tell you, I replied; justice, which is the subject of our enquiry, is,as you know, sometimes spoken of as the virtue of an individual, and sometimesas the virtue of a State.

True, he replied.

And is not a State larger than an individual?

It is.

Then in the larger the quantity of justice is likely to be larger and moreeasily discernible. I propose therefore that we enquire into the nature ofjustice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and secondly in theindividual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them.

That, he said, is an excellent proposal.

And if we imagine the State in process of creation, we shall see the justiceand injustice of the State in process of creation also.

I dare say.

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When the State is completed there may be a hope that the object of our searchwill be more easily discovered.

Yes, far more easily.

But ought we to attempt to construct one? I said; for to do so, as I aminclined to think, will be a very serious task. Reflect therefore.

I have reflected, said Adeimantus, and am anxious that you should proceed.

A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one isself-sufficing, but all of us have many wants. Can any other origin of a Statebe imagined?

There can be no other.

Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed to supply them, onetakes a helper for one purpose and another for another; and when these partnersand helpers are gathered together in one habitation the body of inhabitants istermed a State.

True, he said.

And they exchange with one another, and one gives, and another receives, underthe idea that the exchange will be for their good.

Very true.

Then, I said, let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet the true creatoris necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Of course, he replied.

Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition oflife and existence.


The second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like.


And now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great demand: Wemay suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder, some one else aweaver—shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyorto our bodily wants?

Quite right.

The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.


And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labours into acommon stock?—the individual husbandman, for example, producing for four,and labouring four times as long and as much as he need in the provision offood with which he supplies others as well as himself; or will he have nothingto do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them, but providefor himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in theremaining three fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat ora pair of shoes, having no partnership with others, but supplying himself allhis own wants?

Adeimantus thought that he should aim at producing food only and not atproducing everything.

Probably, I replied, that would be the better way; and when I hear you saythis, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike; there are diversities ofnatures among us which are adapted to different occupations.

Very true.

And will you have a work better done when the workman has many occupations, orwhen he has only one?

When he has only one.

Further, there can be no doubt that a work is spoilt when not done at the righttime?

No doubt.

For business is not disposed to wait until the doer of the business is atleisure; but the doer must follow up what he is doing, and make the businesshis first object.

He must.

And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully andeasily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural tohim and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.


Then more than four citizens will be required; for the husbandman will not makehis own plough or mattock, or other implements of agriculture, if they are tobe good for anything. Neither will the builder make his tools—and he tooneeds many; and in like manner the weaver and shoemaker.


Then carpenters, and smiths, and many other artisans, will be sharers in ourlittle State, which is already beginning to grow?


Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herdsmen, in order that ourhusbandmen may have oxen to plough with, and builders as well as husbandmen mayhave draught cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and hides,—stillour State will not be very large.

That is true; yet neither will it be a very small State which contains allthese.

Then, again, there is the situation of the city—to find a place wherenothing need be imported is wellnigh impossible.


Then there must be another class of citizens who will bring the required supplyfrom another city?

There must.

But if the trader goes empty-handed, having nothing which they require whowould supply his need, he will come back empty-handed.

That is certain.

And therefore what they produce at home must be not only enough for themselves,but such both in quantity and quality as to accommodate those from whom theirwants are supplied.

Very true.

Then more husbandmen and more artisans will be required?

They will.

Not to mention the importers and exporters, who are called merchants?


Then we shall want merchants?

We shall.

And if merchandise is to be carried over the sea, skilful sailors will also beneeded, and in considerable numbers?

Yes, in considerable numbers.

Then, again, within the city, how will they exchange their productions? Tosecure such an exchange was, as you will remember, one of our principal objectswhen we formed them into a society and constituted a State.

Clearly they will buy and sell.

Then they will need a market-place, and a money-token for purposes of exchange.


Suppose now that a husbandman, or an artisan, brings some production to market,and he comes at a time when there is no one to exchange with him,—is heto leave his calling and sit idle in the market-place?

Not at all; he will find people there who, seeing the want, undertake theoffice of salesmen. In well-ordered states they are commonly those who are theweakest in bodily strength, and therefore of little use for any other purpose;their duty is to be in the market, and to give money in exchange for goods tothose who desire to sell and to take money from those who desire to buy.

This want, then, creates a class of retail-traders in our State. Is not‘retailer’ the term which is applied to those who sit in themarket-place engaged in buying and selling, while those who wander from onecity to another are called merchants?

Yes, he said.

And there is another class of servants, who are intellectually hardly on thelevel of companionship; still they have plenty of bodily strength for labour,which accordingly they sell, and are called, if I do not mistake, hirelings,hire being the name which is given to the price of their labour.


Then hirelings will help to make up our population?


And now, Adeimantus, is our State matured and perfected?

I think so.

Where, then, is justice, and where is injustice, and in what part of the Statedid they spring up?

Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another. I cannot imaginethat they are more likely to be found any where else.

I dare say that you are right in your suggestion, I said; we had better thinkthe matter out, and not shrink from the enquiry.

Let us then consider, first of all, what will be their way of life, now that wehave thus established them. Will they not produce corn, and wine, and clothes,and shoes, and build houses for themselves? And when they are housed, they willwork, in summer, commonly, stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantiallyclothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal and flour of wheat, baking andkneading them, making noble cakes and loaves; these they will serve up on a matof reeds or on clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds strewnwith yew or myrtle. And they and their children will feast, drinking of thewine which they have made, wearing garlands on their heads, and hymning thepraises of the gods, in happy converse with one another. And they will takecare that their families do not exceed their means; having an eye to poverty orwar.

But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to their meal.

True, I replied, I had forgotten; of course they must have a relish—salt,and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as countrypeople prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and peas, and beans; andthey will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation.And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a goodold age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.

Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how elsewould you feed the beasts?

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.

Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life. Peoplewho are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables,and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.

Yes, I said, now I understand: the question which you would have me consideris, not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created; and possiblythere is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be more likely to seehow justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the true and healthyconstitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wishalso to see a State at fever-heat, I have no objection. For I suspect that manywill not be satisfied with the simpler way of life. They will be for addingsofas, and tables, and other furniture; also dainties, and perfumes, andincense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but inevery variety; we must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at firstspeaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes: the arts of the painter andthe embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sortsof materials must be procured.

True, he said.

Then we must enlarge our borders; for the original healthy State is no longersufficient. Now will the city have to fill and swell with a multitude ofcallings which are not required by any natural want; such as the whole tribe ofhunters and actors, of whom one large class have to do with forms and colours;another will be the votaries of music—poets and their attendant train ofrhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors; also makers of divers kinds ofarticles, including women’s dresses. And we shall want more servants.Will not tutors be also in request, and nurses wet and dry, tirewomen andbarbers, as well as confectioners and cooks; and swineherds, too, who were notneeded and therefore had no place in the former edition of our State, but areneeded now? They must not be forgotten: and there will be animals of many otherkinds, if people eat them.


And living in this way we shall have much greater need of physicians thanbefore?

Much greater.

And the country which was enough to support the original inhabitants will betoo small now, and not enough?

Quite true.

Then a slice of our neighbours’ land will be wanted by us for pasture andtillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they exceedthe limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation ofwealth?

That, Socrates, will be inevitable.

And so we shall go to war, Glaucon. Shall we not?

Most certainly, he replied.

Then without determining as yet whether war does good or harm, thus much we mayaffirm, that now we have discovered war to be derived from causes which arealso the causes of almost all the evils in States, private as well as public.


And our State must once more enlarge; and this time the enlargement will benothing short of a whole army, which will have to go out and fight with theinvaders for all that we have, as well as for the things and persons whom wewere describing above.

Why? he said; are they not capable of defending themselves?

No, I said; not if we were right in the principle which was acknowledged by allof us when we were framing the State: the principle, as you will remember, wasthat one man cannot practise many arts with success.

Very true, he said.

But is not war an art?


And an art requiring as much attention as shoemaking?

Quite true.

And the shoemaker was not allowed by us to be a husbandman, or a weaver, or abuilder—in order that we might have our shoes well made; but to him andto every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature fitted,and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no other; hewas not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a good workman. Nownothing can be more important than that the work of a soldier should be welldone. But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who isalso a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan; although no one in the worldwould be a good dice or draught player who merely took up the game as arecreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this andnothing else? No tools will make a man a skilled workman, or master of defence,nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has neverbestowed any attention upon them. How then will he who takes up a shield orother implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether withheavy-armed or any other kind of troops?

Yes, he said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyondprice.

And the higher the duties of the guardian, I said, the more time, and skill,and art, and application will be needed by him?

No doubt, he replied.

Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?


Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted for thetask of guarding the city?

It will.

And the selection will be no easy matter, I said; but we must be brave and doour best.

We must.

Is not the noble youth very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding andwatching?

What do you mean?

I mean that both of them ought to be quick to see, and swift to overtake theenemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, theyhave to fight with him.

All these qualities, he replied, will certainly be required by them.

Well, and your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well?


And is he likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or anyother animal? Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable isspirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to beabsolutely fearless and indomitable?

I have.

Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are required inthe guardian.


And also of the mental ones; his soul is to be full of spirit?


But are not these spirited natures apt to be savage with one another, and witheverybody else?

A difficulty by no means easy to overcome, he replied.

Whereas, I said, they ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle totheir friends; if not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for theirenemies to destroy them.

True, he said.

What is to be done then? I said; how shall we find a gentle nature which hasalso a great spirit, for the one is the contradiction of the other?


He will not be a good guardian who is wanting in either of these two qualities;and yet the combination of them appears to be impossible; and hence we mustinfer that to be a good guardian is impossible.

I am afraid that what you say is true, he replied.

Here feeling perplexed I began to think over what had preceded.—Myfriend, I said, no wonder that we are in a perplexity; for we have lost sightof the image which we had before us.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean to say that there do exist natures gifted with those opposite qualities.

And where do you find them?

Many animals, I replied, furnish examples of them; our friend the dog is a verygood one: you know that well-bred dogs are perfectly gentle to their familiarsand acquaintances, and the reverse to strangers.

Yes, I know.

Then there is nothing impossible or out of the order of nature in our finding aguardian who has a similar combination of qualities?

Certainly not.

Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spirited nature, needto have the qualities of a philosopher?

I do not apprehend your meaning.

The trait of which I am speaking, I replied, may be also seen in the dog, andis remarkable in the animal.

What trait?

Why, a dog, whenever he sees a stranger, is angry; when an acquaintance, hewelcomes him, although the one has never done him any harm, nor the other anygood. Did this never strike you as curious?

The matter never struck me before; but I quite recognise the truth of yourremark.

And surely this instinct of the dog is very charming;—your dog is a truephilosopher.


Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by thecriterion of knowing and not knowing. And must not an animal be a lover oflearning who determines what he likes and dislikes by the test of knowledge andignorance?

Most assuredly.

And is not the love of learning the love of wisdom, which is philosophy?

They are the same, he replied.

And may we not say confidently of man also, that he who is likely to be gentleto his friends and acquaintances, must by nature be a lover of wisdom andknowledge?

That we may safely affirm.

Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will requireto unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength?


Then we have found the desired natures; and now that we have found them, howare they to be reared and educated? Is not this an enquiry which may beexpected to throw light on the greater enquiry which is our final end—Howdo justice and injustice grow up in States? for we do not want either to omitwhat is to the point or to draw out the argument to an inconvenient length.

Adeimantus thought that the enquiry would be of great service to us.

Then, I said, my dear friend, the task must not be given up, even if somewhatlong.

Certainly not.

Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in story-telling, and our story shallbe the education of our heroes.

By all means.

And what shall be their education? Can we find a better than the traditionalsort?—and this has two divisions, gymnastic for the body, and music forthe soul.


Shall we begin education with music, and go on to gymnastic afterwards?

By all means.

And when you speak of music, do you include literature or not?

I do.

And literature may be either true or false?


And the young should be trained in both kinds, and we begin with the false?

I do not understand your meaning, he said.

You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories which, though notwholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and these stories aretold them when they are not of an age to learn gymnastics.

Very true.

That was my meaning when I said that we must teach music before gymnastics.

Quite right, he said.

You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work,especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time atwhich the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readilytaken.

Quite true.

And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which maybe devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for themost part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have whenthey are grown up?

We cannot.

Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers offiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, andreject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their childrenthe authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such tales, even morefondly than they mould the body with their hands; but most of those which arenow in use must be discarded.

Of what tales are you speaking? he said.

You may find a model of the lesser in the greater, I said; for they arenecessarily of the same type, and there is the same spirit in both of them.

Very likely, he replied; but I do not as yet know what you would term thegreater.

Those, I said, which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod, and the rest of thepoets, who have ever been the great story-tellers of mankind.

But which stories do you mean, he said; and what fault do you find with them?

A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and, what ismore, a bad lie.

But when is this fault committed?

Whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods andheroes,—as when a painter paints a portrait not having the shadow of alikeness to the original.

Yes, he said, that sort of thing is certainly very blameable; but what are thestories which you mean?

First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies in high places, whichthe poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too,—I mean whatHesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him. The doings ofCronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even ifthey were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and thoughtlesspersons; if possible, they had better be buried in silence. But if there is anabsolute necessity for their mention, a chosen few might hear them in amystery, and they should sacrifice not a common (Eleusinian) pig, but some hugeand unprocurable victim; and then the number of the hearers will be very fewindeed.

Why, yes, said he, those stories are extremely objectionable.

Yes, Adeimantus, they are stories not to be repeated in our State; the youngman should not be told that in committing the worst of crimes he is far fromdoing anything outrageous; and that even if he chastises his father when hedoes wrong, in whatever manner, he will only be following the example of thefirst and greatest among the gods.

I entirely agree with you, he said; in my opinion those stories are quite unfitto be repeated.

Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrellingamong themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to themof the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against oneanother, for they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of thegiants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we shall be silent aboutthe innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends andrelatives. If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling isunholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel betweencitizens; this is what old men and old women should begin by telling children;and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in asimilar spirit. But the narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or howon another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was beingbeaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer—these tales must not beadmitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an allegoricalmeaning or not. For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what isliteral; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely tobecome indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that thetales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

There you are right, he replied; but if any one asks where are such models tobe found and of what tales are you speaking—how shall we answer him?

I said to him, You and I, Adeimantus, at this moment are not poets, butfounders of a State: now the founders of a State ought to know the generalforms in which poets should cast their tales, and the limits which must beobserved by them, but to make the tales is not their business.

Very true, he said; but what are these forms of theology which you mean?

Something of this kind, I replied:—God is always to be represented as hetruly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric or tragic, in which therepresentation is given.


And is he not truly good? and must he not be represented as such?


And no good thing is hurtful?

No, indeed.

And that which is not hurtful hurts not?

Certainly not.

And that which hurts not does no evil?


And can that which does no evil be a cause of evil?


And the good is advantageous?


And therefore the cause of well-being?


It follows therefore that the good is not the cause of all things, but of thegood only?


Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert,but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur tomen. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the goodis to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be soughtelsewhere, and not in him.

That appears to me to be most true, he said.

Then we must not listen to Homer or to any other poet who is guilty of thefolly of saying that two casks

‘Lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other ofevil lots,’

and that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two

‘Sometimes meets with evil fortune, at other times with good;’

but that he to whom is given the cup of unmingled ill,

‘Him wild hunger drives o’er the beauteous earth.’

And again—

‘Zeus, who is the dispenser of good and evil to us.’

And if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which wasreally the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athene and Zeus, or that thestrife and contention of the gods was instigated by Themis and Zeus, he shallnot have our approval; neither will we allow our young men to hear the words ofAeschylus, that

‘God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy ahouse.’

And if a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe—the subject of thetragedy in which these iambic verses occur—or of the house of Pelops, orof the Trojan war or on any similar theme, either we must not permit him to saythat these are the works of God, or if they are of God, he must devise someexplanation of them such as we are seeking; he must say that God did what wasjust and right, and they were the better for being punished; but that those whoare punished are miserable, and that God is the author of theirmisery—the poet is not to be permitted to say; though he may say that thewicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited byreceiving punishment from God; but that God being good is the author of evil toany one is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard inverse or prose by any one whether old or young in any well-orderedcommonwealth. Such a fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.

I agree with you, he replied, and am ready to give my assent to the law.

Let this then be one of our rules and principles concerning the gods, to whichour poets and reciters will be expected to conform,—that God is not theauthor of all things, but of good only.

That will do, he said.

And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask you whether God is amagician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now inanother—sometimes himself changing and passing into many forms, sometimesdeceiving us with the semblance of such transformations; or is he one and thesame immutably fixed in his own proper image?

I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.

Well, I said; but if we suppose a change in anything, that change must beeffected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing?

Most certainly.

And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered ordiscomposed; for example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame isleast liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant which is in thefullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or anysimilar causes.

Of course.

And will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused or deranged by anyexternal influence?


And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all compositethings—furniture, houses, garments: when good and well made, they areleast altered by time and circumstances.

Very true.

Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature, or both, is leastliable to suffer change from without?


But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?

Of course they are.

Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?

He cannot.

But may he not change and transform himself?

Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.

And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse andmore unsightly?

If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose himto be deficient either in virtue or beauty.

Very true, Adeimantus; but then, would any one, whether God or man, desire tomake himself worse?


Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change; being, as issupposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every God remainsabsolutely and for ever in his own form.

That necessarily follows, he said, in my judgment.

Then, I said, my dear friend, let none of the poets tell us that

‘The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk up anddown cities in all sorts of forms;’

and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let any one, either intragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here disguised in thelikeness of a priestess asking an alms

‘For the life-giving daughters of Inachus the river of Argos;’

—let us have no more lies of that sort. Neither must we have mothersunder the influence of the poets scaring their children with a bad version ofthese myths—telling how certain gods, as they say, ‘Go about bynight in the likeness of so many strangers and in divers forms;’ but letthem take heed lest they make cowards of their children, and at the same timespeak blasphemy against the gods.

Heaven forbid, he said.

But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by witchcraft anddeception they may make us think that they appear in various forms?

Perhaps, he replied.

Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie, whether in word ordeed, or to put forth a phantom of himself?

I cannot say, he replied.

Do you not know, I said, that the true lie, if such an expression may beallowed, is hated of gods and men?

What do you mean? he said.

I mean that no one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest andhighest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there, aboveall, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.

Still, he said, I do not comprehend you.

The reason is, I replied, that you attribute some profound meaning to my words;but I am only saying that deception, or being deceived or uninformed about thehighest realities in the highest part of themselves, which is the soul, and inthat part of them to have and to hold the lie, is what mankind leastlike;—that, I say, is what they utterly detest.

There is nothing more hateful to them.

And, as I was just now remarking, this ignorance in the soul of him who isdeceived may be called the true lie; for the lie in words is only a kind ofimitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul, not pureunadulterated falsehood. Am I not right?

Perfectly right.

The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men?


Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful; in dealingwith enemies—that would be an instance; or again, when those whom we callour friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then itis useful and is a sort of medicine or preventive; also in the tales ofmythology, of which we were just now speaking—because we do not know thetruth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much like truth as we can, andso turn it to account.

Very true, he said.

But can any of these reasons apply to God? Can we suppose that he is ignorantof antiquity, and therefore has recourse to invention?

That would be ridiculous, he said.

Then the lying poet has no place in our idea of God?

I should say not.

Or perhaps he may tell a lie because he is afraid of enemies?

That is inconceivable.

But he may have friends who are senseless or mad?

But no mad or senseless person can be a friend of God.

Then no motive can be imagined why God should lie?

None whatever.

Then the superhuman and divine is absolutely incapable of falsehood?


Then is God perfectly simple and true both in word and deed; he changes not; hedeceives not, either by sign or word, by dream or waking vision.

Your thoughts, he said, are the reflection of my own.

You agree with me then, I said, that this is the second type or form in whichwe should write and speak about divine things. The gods are not magicians whotransform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any way.

I grant that.

Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire the lying dream whichZeus sends to Agamemnon; neither will we praise the verses of Aeschylus inwhich Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials

‘Was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to be long, andto know no sickness. And when he had spoken of my lot as in all things blessedof heaven he raised a note of triumph and cheered my soul. And I thought thatthe word of Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy, would not fail. And nowhe himself who uttered the strain, he who was present at the banquet, and whosaid this—he it is who has slain my son.’

These are the kind of sentiments about the gods which will arouse our anger;and he who utters them shall be refused a chorus; neither shall we allowteachers to make use of them in the instruction of the young, meaning, as wedo, that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers of thegods and like them.

I entirely agree, he said, in these principles, and promise to make them mylaws.


Such then, I said, are our principles of theology—some tales are to betold, and others are not to be told to our disciples from their youth upwards,if we mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and to value friendshipwith one another.

Yes; and I think that our principles are right, he said.

But if they are to be courageous, must they not learn other lessons besidesthese, and lessons of such a kind as will take away the fear of death? Can anyman be courageous who has the fear of death in him?

Certainly not, he said.

And can he be fearless of death, or will he choose death in battle rather thandefeat and slavery, who believes the world below to be real and terrible?


Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class of tales as wellas over the others, and beg them not simply to revile but rather to commend theworld below, intimating to them that their descriptions are untrue, and will doharm to our future warriors.

That will be our duty, he said.

Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious passages, beginningwith the verses,

‘I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor and portionless man thanrule over all the dead who have come to nought.’

We must also expunge the verse, which tells us how Pluto feared,

‘Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should be seenboth of mortals and immortals.’

And again:—

‘O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly formbut no mind at all!’

Again of Tiresias:—

‘(To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,) that he aloneshould be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades.’


‘The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamenting her fate,leaving manhood and youth.’


‘And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath theearth.’


‘As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of them has dropped outof the string and falls from the rock, fly shrilling and cling to one another,so did they with shrilling cry hold together as they moved.’

And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike outthese and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive tothe popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm of them, the lessare they meet for the ears of boys and men who are meant to be free, and whoshould fear slavery more than death.


Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling names whichdescribe the world below—Cocytus and Styx, ghosts under the earth, andsapless shades, and any similar words of which the very mention causes ashudder to pass through the inmost soul of him who hears them. I do not saythat these horrible stories may not have a use of some kind; but there is adanger that the nerves of our guardians may be rendered too excitable andeffeminate by them.

There is a real danger, he said.

Then we must have no more of them.


Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.


And shall we proceed to get rid of the weepings and wailings of famous men?

They will go with the rest.

But shall we be right in getting rid of them? Reflect: our principle is thatthe good man will not consider death terrible to any other good man who is hiscomrade.

Yes; that is our principle.

And therefore he will not sorrow for his departed friend as though he hadsuffered anything terrible?

He will not.

Such an one, as we further maintain, is sufficient for himself and his ownhappiness, and therefore is least in need of other men.

True, he said.

And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation offortune, is to him of all men least terrible.


And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with thegreatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.

Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.

Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men, andmaking them over to women (and not even to women who are good for anything), orto men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated by us to be thedefenders of their country may scorn to do the like.

That will be very right.

Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depictAchilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then on hisback, and then on his face; then starting up and sailing in a frenzy along theshores of the barren sea; now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands andpouring them over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various modes whichHomer has delineated. Nor should he describe Priam the kinsman of the gods aspraying and beseeching,

‘Rolling in the dirt, calling each man loudly by his name.’

Still more earnestly will we beg of him at all events not to introduce the godslamenting and saying,

‘Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the bravest to my sorrow.’

But if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so completelyto misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make him say—

‘O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine chasedround and round the city, and my heart is sorrowful.’

Or again:—

Woe is me that I am fated to have Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, subdued atthe hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius.’

For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to such unworthyrepresentations of the gods, instead of laughing at them as they ought, hardlywill any of them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be dishonoured bysimilar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination which may arise in hismind to say and do the like. And instead of having any shame or self-control,he will be always whining and lamenting on slight occasions.

Yes, he said, that is most true.

Yes, I replied; but that surely is what ought not to be, as the argument hasjust proved to us; and by that proof we must abide until it is disproved by abetter.

It ought not to be.

Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For a fit of laughterwhich has been indulged to excess almost always produces a violent reaction.

So I believe.

Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not be represented asovercome by laughter, and still less must such a representation of the gods beallowed.

Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.

Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about the gods as thatof Homer when he describes how

‘Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they sawHephaestus bustling about the mansion.’

On your views, we must not admit them.

On my views, if you like to father them on me; that we must not admit them iscertain.

Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is uselessto the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of suchmedicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have nobusiness with them.

Clearly not, he said.

Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of theState should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with enemies orwith their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good. But nobodyelse should meddle with anything of the kind; and although the rulers have thisprivilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to be deemed a moreheinous fault than for the patient or the pupil of a gymnasium not to speak thetruth about his own bodily illnesses to the physician or to the trainer, or fora sailor not to tell the captain what is happening about the ship and the restof the crew, and how things are going with himself or his fellow sailors.

Most true, he said.

If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in the State,

‘Any of the craftsmen, whether he be priest or physician orcarpenter,’

he will punish him for introducing a practice which is equally subversive anddestructive of ship or State.

Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever carried out.

In the next place our youth must be temperate?


Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience tocommanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?


Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer,

‘Friend, sit still and obey my word,’

and the verses which follow,

‘The Greeks marched breathing prowess, silent awe of theirleaders,’

and other sentiments of the same kind.

We shall.

What of this line,

‘O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog and the heart of astag,’

and of the words which follow? Would you say that these, or any similarimpertinences which private individuals are supposed to address to theirrulers, whether in verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?

They are ill spoken.

They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not conduce totemperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm to our young men—youwould agree with me there?


And then, again, to make the wisest of men say that nothing in his opinion ismore glorious than

‘When the tables are full of bread and meat, and the cup-bearer carriesround wine which he draws from the bowl and pours into the cups,’

is it fit or conducive to temperance for a young man to hear such words? Or theverse

‘The saddest of fates is to die and meet destiny from hunger?’

What would you say again to the tale of Zeus, who, while other gods and menwere asleep and he the only person awake, lay devising plans, but forgot themall in a moment through his lust, and was so completely overcome at the sightof Here that he would not even go into the hut, but wanted to lie with her onthe ground, declaring that he had never been in such a state of rapture before,even when they first met one another

‘Without the knowledge of their parents;’

or that other tale of how Hephaestus, because of similar goings on, cast achain around Ares and Aphrodite?

Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not to hear that sortof thing.

But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous men, these theyought to see and hear; as, for example, what is said in the verses,

‘He smote his breast, and thus reproached his heart, Endure, my heart;far worse hast thou endured!’

Certainly, he said.

In the next place, we must not let them be receivers of gifts or lovers ofmoney.

Certainly not.

Neither must we sing to them of

‘Gifts persuading gods, and persuading reverend kings.’

Neither is Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, to be approved or deemed to havegiven his pupil good counsel when he told him that he should take the gifts ofthe Greeks and assist them; but that without a gift he should not lay aside hisanger. Neither will we believe or acknowledge Achilles himself to have beensuch a lover of money that he took Agamemnon’s gifts, or that when he hadreceived payment he restored the dead body of Hector, but that without paymenthe was unwilling to do so.

Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be approved.

Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing these feelingsto Achilles, or in believing that they are truly attributed to him, he isguilty of downright impiety. As little can I believe the narrative of hisinsolence to Apollo, where he says,

‘Thou hast wronged me, O far-darter, most abominable of deities. Verily Iwould be even with thee, if I had only the power;’

or his insubordination to the river-god, on whose divinity he is ready to layhands; or his offering to the dead Patroclus of his own hair, which had beenpreviously dedicated to the other river-god Spercheius, and that he actuallyperformed this vow; or that he dragged Hector round the tomb of Patroclus, andslaughtered the captives at the pyre; of all this I cannot believe that he wasguilty, any more than I can allow our citizens to believe that he, the wiseCheiron’s pupil, the son of a goddess and of Peleus who was the gentlestof men and third in descent from Zeus, was so disordered in his wits as to beat one time the slave of two seemingly inconsistent passions, meanness, notuntainted by avarice, combined with overweening contempt of gods and men.

You are quite right, he replied.

And let us equally refuse to believe, or allow to be repeated, the tale ofTheseus son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous son of Zeus, going forth as they didto perpetrate a horrid rape; or of any other hero or son of a god daring to dosuch impious and dreadful things as they falsely ascribe to them in our day:and let us further compel the poets to declare either that these acts were notdone by them, or that they were not the sons of gods;—both in the samebreath they shall not be permitted to affirm. We will not have them trying topersuade our youth that the gods are the authors of evil, and that heroes areno better than men—sentiments which, as we were saying, are neither piousnor true, for we have already proved that evil cannot come from the gods.

Assuredly not.

And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who hear them; foreverybody will begin to excuse his own vices when he is convinced that similarwickednesses are always being perpetrated by—

‘The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus, whose ancestral altar,the altar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the peak of Ida,’

and who have

‘the blood of deities yet flowing in their veins.’

And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest they engender laxity ofmorals among the young.

By all means, he replied.

But now that we are determining what classes of subjects are or are not to bespoken of, let us see whether any have been omitted by us. The manner in whichgods and demigods and heroes and the world below should be treated has beenalready laid down.

Very true.

And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the remaining portion of oursubject.

Clearly so.

But we are not in a condition to answer this question at present, my friend.

Why not?

Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about men poets andstory-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when they tell usthat wicked men are often happy, and the good miserable; and that injustice isprofitable when undetected, but that justice is a man’s own loss andanother’s gain—these things we shall forbid them to utter, andcommand them to sing and say the opposite.

To be sure we shall, he replied.

But if you admit that I am right in this, then I shall maintain that you haveimplied the principle for which we have been all along contending.

I grant the truth of your inference.

That such things are or are not to be said about men is a question which wecannot determine until we have discovered what justice is, and how naturallyadvantageous to the possessor, whether he seem to be just or not.

Most true, he said.

Enough of the subjects of poetry: let us now speak of the style; and when thishas been considered, both matter and manner will have been completely treated.

I do not understand what you mean, said Adeimantus.

Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more intelligible if Iput the matter in this way. You are aware, I suppose, that all mythology andpoetry is a narration of events, either past, present, or to come?

Certainly, he replied.

And narration may be either simple narration, or imitation, or a union of thetwo?

That again, he said, I do not quite understand.

I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so much difficulty inmaking myself apprehended. Like a bad speaker, therefore, I will not take thewhole of the subject, but will break a piece off in illustration of my meaning.You know the first lines of the Iliad, in which the poet says that Chrysesprayed Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that Agamemnon flew into apassion with him; whereupon Chryses, failing of his object, invoked the angerof the God against the Achaeans. Now as far as these lines,

‘And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially the two sons of Atreus, thechiefs of the people,’

the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose that he isany one else. But in what follows he takes the person of Chryses, and then hedoes all that he can to make us believe that the speaker is not Homer, but theaged priest himself. And in this double form he has cast the entire narrativeof the events which occurred at Troy and in Ithaca and throughout the Odyssey.


And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet recites fromtime to time and in the intermediate passages?

Quite true.

But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we not say that heassimilates his style to that of the person who, as he informs you, is going tospeak?


And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use of voice orgesture, is the imitation of the person whose character he assumes?

Of course.

Then in this case the narrative of the poet may be said to proceed by way ofimitation?

Very true.

Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals himself, then again theimitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes simple narration. However, inorder that I may make my meaning quite clear, and that you may no more say,‘I don’t understand,’ I will show how the change might beeffected. If Homer had said, ‘The priest came, having hisdaughter’s ransom in his hands, supplicating the Achaeans, and above allthe kings;’ and then if, instead of speaking in the person of Chryses, hehad continued in his own person, the words would have been, not imitation, butsimple narration. The passage would have run as follows (I am no poet, andtherefore I drop the metre), ‘The priest came and prayed the gods onbehalf of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and return safely home, butbegged that they would give him back his daughter, and take the ransom which hebrought, and respect the God. Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks revered thepriest and assented. But Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him depart and not comeagain, lest the staff and chaplets of the God should be of no avail tohim—the daughter of Chryses should not be released, he said—sheshould grow old with him in Argos. And then he told him to go away and not toprovoke him, if he intended to get home unscathed. And the old man went away infear and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he called upon Apollo by hismany names, reminding him of everything which he had done pleasing to him,whether in building his temples, or in offering sacrifice, and praying that hisgood deeds might be returned to him, and that the Achaeans might expiate histears by the arrows of the god,’—and so on. In this way the wholebecomes simple narrative.

I understand, he said.

Or you may suppose the opposite case—that the intermediate passages areomitted, and the dialogue only left.

That also, he said, I understand; you mean, for example, as in tragedy.

You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not, what you failedto apprehend before is now made clear to you, that poetry and mythology are, insome cases, wholly imitative—instances of this are supplied by tragedyand comedy; there is likewise the opposite style, in which the poet is the onlyspeaker—of this the dithyramb affords the best example; and thecombination of both is found in epic, and in several other styles of poetry. DoI take you with me?

Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.

I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that we had done withthe subject and might proceed to the style.

Yes, I remember.

In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an understanding aboutthe mimetic art,—whether the poets, in narrating their stories, are to beallowed by us to imitate, and if so, whether in whole or in part, and if thelatter, in what parts; or should all imitation be prohibited?

You mean, I suspect, to ask whether tragedy and comedy shall be admitted intoour State?

Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I really do not knowas yet, but whither the argument may blow, thither we go.

And go we will, he said.

Then, Adeimantus, let me ask you whether our guardians ought to be imitators;or rather, has not this question been decided by the rule already laid downthat one man can only do one thing well, and not many; and that if he attemptmany, he will altogether fail of gaining much reputation in any?


And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate many things aswell as he would imitate a single one?

He cannot.

Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life, and atthe same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as well; for evenwhen two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same persons cannotsucceed in both, as, for example, the writers of tragedy and comedy—didyou not just now call them imitations?

Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same persons cannot succeedin both.

Any more than they can be rhapsodists and actors at once?


Neither are comic and tragic actors the same; yet all these things are butimitations.

They are so.

And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined into yet smallerpieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many things well, as of performingwell the actions of which the imitations are copies.

Quite true, he replied.

If then we adhere to our original notion and bear in mind that our guardians,setting aside every other business, are to dedicate themselves wholly to themaintenance of freedom in the State, making this their craft, and engaging inno work which does not bear on this end, they ought not to practise or imitateanything else; if they imitate at all, they should imitate from youth upwardonly those characters which are suitable to their profession—thecourageous, temperate, holy, free, and the like; but they should not depict orbe skilful at imitating any kind of illiberality or baseness, lest fromimitation they should come to be what they imitate. Did you never observe howimitations, beginning in early youth and continuing far into life, at lengthgrow into habits and become a second nature, affecting body, voice, and mind?

Yes, certainly, he said.

Then, I said, we will not allow those for whom we profess a care and of whom wesay that they ought to be good men, to imitate a woman, whether young or old,quarrelling with her husband, or striving and vaunting against the gods inconceit of her happiness, or when she is in affliction, or sorrow, or weeping;and certainly not one who is in sickness, love, or labour.

Very right, he said.

Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing the offices ofslaves?

They must not.

And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do the reverse ofwhat we have just been prescribing, who scold or mock or revile one another indrink or out of drink, or who in any other manner sin against themselves andtheir neighbours in word or deed, as the manner of such is. Neither should theybe trained to imitate the action or speech of men or women who are mad or bad;for madness, like vice, is to be known but not to be practised or imitated.

Very true, he replied.

Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or oarsmen, or boatswains,or the like?

How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply their minds to thecallings of any of these?

Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing of bulls, the murmurof rivers and roll of the ocean, thunder, and all that sort of thing?

Nay, he said, if madness be forbidden, neither may they copy the behaviour ofmadmen.

You mean, I said, if I understand you aright, that there is one sort ofnarrative style which may be employed by a truly good man when he has anythingto say, and that another sort will be used by a man of an opposite characterand education.

And which are these two sorts? he asked.

Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course of a narrationcomes on some saying or action of another good man,—I should imagine thathe will like to personate him, and will not be ashamed of this sort ofimitation: he will be most ready to play the part of the good man when he isacting firmly and wisely; in a less degree when he is overtaken by illness orlove or drink, or has met with any other disaster. But when he comes to acharacter which is unworthy of him, he will not make a study of that; he willdisdain such a person, and will assume his likeness, if at all, for a momentonly when he is performing some good action; at other times he will be ashamedto play a part which he has never practised, nor will he like to fashion andframe himself after the baser models; he feels the employment of such an art,unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his mind revolts at it.

So I should expect, he replied.

Then he will adopt a mode of narration such as we have illustrated out ofHomer, that is to say, his style will be both imitative and narrative; butthere will be very little of the former, and a great deal of the latter. Do youagree?

Certainly, he said; that is the model which such a speaker must necessarilytake.

But there is another sort of character who will narrate anything, and, theworse he is, the more unscrupulous he will be; nothing will be too bad for him:and he will be ready to imitate anything, not as a joke, but in right goodearnest, and before a large company. As I was just now saying, he will attemptto represent the roll of thunder, the noise of wind and hail, or the creakingof wheels, and pulleys, and the various sounds of flutes, pipes, trumpets, andall sorts of instruments: he will bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crowlike a cock; his entire art will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, andthere will be very little narration.

That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.

These, then, are the two kinds of style?


And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is simple and has butslight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for theirsimplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks correctly, is alwayspretty much the same in style, and he will keep within the limits of a singleharmony (for the changes are not great), and in like manner he will make use ofnearly the same rhythm?

That is quite true, he said.

Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all sorts of rhythms, ifthe music and the style are to correspond, because the style has all sorts ofchanges.

That is also perfectly true, he replied.

And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, comprehend all poetry,and every form of expression in words? No one can say anything except in one orother of them or in both together.

They include all, he said.

And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or one only of thetwo unmixed styles? or would you include the mixed?

I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.

Yes, I said, Adeimantus, but the mixed style is also very charming: and indeedthe pantomimic, which is the opposite of the one chosen by you, is the mostpopular style with children and their attendants, and with the world ingeneral.

I do not deny it.

But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our State, inwhich human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man plays one part only?

Yes; quite unsuitable.

And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall find ashoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot also, and a husbandman to be ahusbandman and not a dicast also, and a soldier a soldier and not a traderalso, and the same throughout?

True, he said.

And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who are so cleverthat they can imitate anything, comes to us, and makes a proposal to exhibithimself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as a sweet and holyand wonderful being; but we must also inform him that in our State such as heare not permitted to exist; the law will not allow them. And so when we haveanointed him with myrrh, and set a garland of wool upon his head, we shall sendhim away to another city. For we mean to employ for our souls’ health therougher and severer poet or story-teller, who will imitate the style of thevirtuous only, and will follow those models which we prescribed at first whenwe began the education of our soldiers.

We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.

Then now, my friend, I said, that part of music or literary education whichrelates to the story or myth may be considered to be finished; for the matterand manner have both been discussed.

I think so too, he said.

Next in order will follow melody and song.

That is obvious.

Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to beconsistent with ourselves.

I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the word ‘every one’ hardlyincludes me, for I cannot at the moment say what they should be; though I mayguess.

At any rate you can tell that a song or ode has three parts—the words,the melody, and the rhythm; that degree of knowledge I may presuppose?

Yes, he said; so much as that you may.

And as for the words, there will surely be no difference between words whichare and which are not set to music; both will conform to the same laws, andthese have been already determined by us?


And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?


We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we had no need oflamentation and strains of sorrow?


And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You are musical, and can tellme.

The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian, and the full-tonedor bass Lydian, and such like.

These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a character tomaintain they are of no use, and much less to men.


In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterlyunbecoming the character of our guardians.

Utterly unbecoming.

And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?

The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed ‘relaxed.’

Well, and are these of any military use?

Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the Phrygian are theonly ones which you have left.

I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one warlike, tosound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour of danger andstern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or deathor is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets the blows offortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and another to be used byhim in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure ofnecessity, and he is seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instructionand admonition, or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness toyield to persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when byprudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away by his success, butacting moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in theevent. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and thestrain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of thefortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I say,leave.

And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I wasjust now speaking.

Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and melodies,we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?

I suppose not.

Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners andcomplex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed curiously-harmonisedinstruments?

Certainly not.

But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would you admit theminto our State when you reflect that in this composite use of harmony the fluteis worse than all the stringed instruments put together; even the panharmonicmusic is only an imitation of the flute?

Clearly not.

There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and theshepherds may have a pipe in the country.

That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.

The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments isnot at all strange, I said.

Not at all, he replied.

And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the State,which not long ago we termed luxurious.

And we have done wisely, he replied.

Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to harmonies,rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be subject to the same rules,for we ought not to seek out complex systems of metre, or metres of every kind,but rather to discover what rhythms are the expressions of a courageous andharmonious life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt the foot and themelody to words having a like spirit, not the words to the foot and melody. Tosay what these rhythms are will be your duty—you must teach me them, asyou have already taught me the harmonies.

But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are somethree principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are framed, just as insounds there are four notes (i.e. the four notes of the tetrachord.) out ofwhich all the harmonies are composed; that is an observation which I have made.But of what sort of lives they are severally the imitations I am unable to say.

Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he will tell us whatrhythms are expressive of meanness, or insolence, or fury, or otherunworthiness, and what are to be reserved for the expression of oppositefeelings. And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioninga complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he arranged them insome manner which I do not quite understand, making the rhythms equal in therise and fall of the foot, long and short alternating; and, unless I ammistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as of a trochaic rhythm, and assignedto them short and long quantities. Also in some cases he appeared to praise orcensure the movement of the foot quite as much as the rhythm; or perhaps acombination of the two; for I am not certain what he meant. These matters,however, as I was saying, had better be referred to Damon himself, for theanalysis of the subject would be difficult, you know? (Socrates expresseshimself carelessly in accordance with his assumed ignorance of the details ofthe subject. In the first part of the sentence he appears to be speaking ofpaeonic rhythms which are in the ratio of 3/2; in the second part, of dactylicand anapaestic rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/1; in the last clause, ofiambic and trochaic rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/2 or 2/1.)

Rather so, I should say.

But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence of grace is aneffect of good or bad rhythm.

None at all.

And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a good and bad style;and that harmony and discord in like manner follow style; for our principle isthat rhythm and harmony are regulated by the words, and not the words by them.

Just so, he said, they should follow the words.

And will not the words and the character of the style depend on the temper ofthe soul?


And everything else on the style?


Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend onsimplicity,—I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly orderedmind and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism forfolly?

Very true, he replied.

And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not make these gracesand harmonies their perpetual aim?

They must.

And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and constructive artare full of them,—weaving, embroidery, architecture, and every kind ofmanufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable,—in all of them there isgrace or the absence of grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious motionare nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony are thetwin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their likeness.

That is quite true, he said.

But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets only to berequired by us to express the image of the good in their works, on pain, ifthey do anything else, of expulsion from our State? Or is the same control tobe extended to other artists, and are they also to be prohibited fromexhibiting the opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness andindecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts; and is he whocannot conform to this rule of ours to be prevented from practising his art inour State, lest the taste of our citizens be corrupted by him? We would nothave our guardians grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in some noxiouspasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb and flower day byday, little by little, until they silently gather a festering mass ofcorruption in their own soul. Let our artists rather be those who are gifted todiscern the true nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our youthdwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good ineverything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eyeand ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly drawthe soul from earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty ofreason.

There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.

And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent instrumentthan any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inwardplaces of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and makingthe soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educatedungraceful; and also because he who has received this true education of theinner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature,and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into hissoul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate thebad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reasonwhy; and when reason comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whomhis education has made him long familiar.

Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our youth should betrained in music and on the grounds which you mention.

Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the lettersof the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring sizes andcombinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they occupy a spacelarge or small, but everywhere eager to make them out; and not thinkingourselves perfect in the art of reading until we recognise them wherever theyare found:


Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or in a mirror,only when we know the letters themselves; the same art and study giving us theknowledge of both:


Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we have to educate,can ever become musical until we and they know the essential forms oftemperance, courage, liberality, magnificence, and their kindred, as well asthe contrary forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise them and theirimages wherever they are found, not slighting them either in small things orgreat, but believing them all to be within the sphere of one art and study.

Most assuredly.

And when a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form, and the two arecast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye tosee it?

The fairest indeed.

And the fairest is also the loveliest?

That may be assumed.

And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with theloveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?

That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there be anymerely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and will love all thesame.

I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of this sort, and Iagree. But let me ask you another question: Has excess of pleasure any affinityto temperance?

How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the use of hisfaculties quite as much as pain.

Or any affinity to virtue in general?

None whatever.

Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?

Yes, the greatest.

And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sensual love?

No, nor a madder.

Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order—temperate and harmonious?

Quite true, he said.

Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?

Certainly not.

Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come near the loverand his beloved; neither of them can have any part in it if their love is ofthe right sort?

No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.

Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you would make a law tothe effect that a friend should use no other familiarity to his love than afather would use to his son, and then only for a noble purpose, and he mustfirst have the other’s consent; and this rule is to limit him in all hisintercourse, and he is never to be seen going further, or, if he exceeds, he isto be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.

I quite agree, he said.

Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end ofmusic if not the love of beauty?

I agree, he said.

After music comes gymnastic, in which our youth are next to be trained.


Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in itshould be careful and should continue through life. Now my belief is,—andthis is a matter upon which I should like to have your opinion in confirmationof my own, but my own belief is,—not that the good body by any bodilyexcellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that the good soul, by herown excellence, improves the body as far as this may be possible. What do yousay?

Yes, I agree.

Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right in handing overthe more particular care of the body; and in order to avoid prolixity we willnow only give the general outlines of the subject.

Very good.

That they must abstain from intoxication has been already remarked by us; forof all persons a guardian should be the last to get drunk and not know where inthe world he is.

Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian to take care ofhim is ridiculous indeed.

But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in training for thegreat contest of all—are they not?

Yes, he said.

And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?

Why not?

I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is but a sleepysort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you not observe that theseathletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to most dangerous illnesses ifthey depart, in ever so slight a degree, from their customary regimen?

Yes, I do.

Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for our warriorathletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the utmostkeenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of summer heat andwinter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign, they must notbe liable to break down in health.

That is my view.

The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple music which wewere just now describing.

How so?

Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our music, is simple andgood; and especially the military gymnastic.

What do you mean?

My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at theirfeasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers’ fare; they have no fish,although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not allowedboiled meats but only roast, which is the food most convenient for soldiers,requiring only that they should light a fire, and not involving the trouble ofcarrying about pots and pans.


And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere mentionedin Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular; all professionalathletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good condition should takenothing of the kind.

Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.

Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements ofSicilian cookery?

I think not.

Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to have a Corinthiangirl as his fair friend?

Certainly not.

Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are thought, of Athenianconfectionary?

Certainly not.

All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us to melody and songcomposed in the panharmonic style, and in all the rhythms.


There complexity engendered licence, and here disease; whereas simplicity inmusic was the parent of temperance in the soul; and simplicity in gymnastic ofhealth in the body.

Most true, he said.

But when intemperance and diseases multiply in a State, halls of justice andmedicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the lawyergive themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not only theslaves but the freemen of a city take about them.

Of course.

And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and disgraceful state ofeducation than this, that not only artisans and the meaner sort of people needthe skill of first-rate physicians and judges, but also those who would professto have had a liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and a great sign ofwant of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad for his law andphysic because he has none of his own at home, and must therefore surrenderhimself into the hands of other men whom he makes lords and judges over him?

Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.

Would you say ‘most,’ I replied, when you consider that there is afurther stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long litigant,passing all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff or defendant, but isactually led by his bad taste to pride himself on his litigiousness; heimagines that he is a master in dishonesty; able to take every crooked turn,and wriggle into and out of every hole, bending like a withy and getting out ofthe way of justice: and all for what?—in order to gain small points notworth mentioning, he not knowing that so to order his life as to be able to dowithout a napping judge is a far higher and nobler sort of thing. Is not thatstill more disgraceful?

Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.

Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has to becured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by indolence and ahabit of life such as we have been describing, men fill themselves with watersand winds, as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious sons ofAsclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and catarrh; isnot this, too, a disgrace?

Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and newfangled names todiseases.

Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the daysof Asclepius; and this I infer from the circumstance that the hero Eurypylus,after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine wellbesprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainlyinflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the Trojan war do notblame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke Patroclus, who is treatinghis case.

Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a personin his condition.

Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former days, as iscommonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius did notpractise our present system of medicine, which may be said to educate diseases.But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by acombination of training and doctoring found out a way of torturing first andchiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.

How was that? he said.

By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which heperpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he passed hisentire life as a valetudinarian; he could do nothing but attend upon himself,and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything from his usualregimen, and so dying hard, by the help of science he struggled on to old age.

A rare reward of his skill!

Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understoodthat, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in valetudinarian arts, theomission arose, not from ignorance or inexperience of such a branch ofmedicine, but because he knew that in all well-ordered states every individualhas an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no leisure tospend in continually being ill. This we remark in the case of the artisan, but,ludicrously enough, do not apply the same rule to people of the richer sort.

How do you mean? he said.

I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough andready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife,—these are hisremedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tellshim that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, hereplies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in alife which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customaryemployment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, heresumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does hisbusiness, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has no more trouble.

Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use the art ofmedicine thus far only.

Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there be in his lifeif he were deprived of his occupation?

Quite true, he said.

But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say that he has anyspecially appointed work which he must perform, if he would live.

He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.

Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man has alivelihood he should practise virtue?

Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.

Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but rather askourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he livewithout it? And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a further question,whether this dieting of disorders, which is an impediment to the application ofthe mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not equally stand in theway of the sentiment of Phocylides?

Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive care of the body,when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the practice ofvirtue.

Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the management of ahouse, an army, or an office of state; and, what is most important of all,irreconcileable with any kind of study or thought orself-reflection—there is a constant suspicion that headache and giddinessare to be ascribed to philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial ofvirtue in the higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancyingthat he is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of hisbody.

Yes, likely enough.

And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the powerof his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy constitution andhabits of life, had a definite ailment; such as these he cured by purges andoperations, and bade them live as usual, herein consulting the interests of theState; but bodies which disease had penetrated through and through he would nothave attempted to cure by gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he didnot want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathersbegetting weaker sons;—if a man was not able to live in the ordinary wayhe had no business to cure him; for such a cure would have been of no useeither to himself, or to the State.

Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.

Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons. Note that theywere heroes in the days of old and practised the medicines of which I amspeaking at the siege of Troy: You will remember how, when Pandarus woundedMenelaus, they

‘Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothingremedies,’

but they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink inthe case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus; the remedies, asthey conceived, were enough to heal any man who before he was wounded washealthy and regular in his habits; and even though he did happen to drink aposset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same. But they would havenothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects, whose lives were of nouse either to themselves or others; the art of medicine was not designed fortheir good, and though they were as rich as Midas, the sons of Asclepius wouldhave declined to attend them.

They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.

Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar disobeying ourbehests, although they acknowledge that Asclepius was the son of Apollo, sayalso that he was bribed into healing a rich man who was at the point of death,and for this reason he was struck by lightning. But we, in accordance with theprinciple already affirmed by us, will not believe them when they tell usboth;—if he was the son of a god, we maintain that he was not avaricious;or, if he was avaricious, he was not the son of a god.

All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a question to you:Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are not the best thosewho have treated the greatest number of constitutions good and bad? and are notthe best judges in like manner those who are acquainted with all sorts of moralnatures?

Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do you knowwhom I think good?

Will you tell me?

I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same question you join twothings which are not the same.

How so? he asked.

Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skilful physiciansare those who, from their youth upwards, have combined with the knowledge oftheir art the greatest experience of disease; they had better not be robust inhealth, and should have had all manner of diseases in their own persons. Forthe body, as I conceive, is not the instrument with which they cure the body;in that case we could not allow them ever to be or to have been sickly; butthey cure the body with the mind, and the mind which has become and is sick cancure nothing.

That is very true, he said.

But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he ought nottherefore to have been trained among vicious minds, and to have associated withthem from youth upwards, and to have gone through the whole calendar of crime,only in order that he may quickly infer the crimes of others as he might theirbodily diseases from his own self-consciousness; the honourable mind which isto form a healthy judgment should have had no experience or contamination ofevil habits when young. And this is the reason why in youth good men oftenappear to be simple, and are easily practised upon by the dishonest, becausethey have no examples of what evil is in their own souls.

Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.

Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned toknow evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of thenature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personalexperience.

Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.

Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer to yourquestion); for he is good who has a good soul. But the cunning and suspiciousnature of which we spoke,—he who has committed many crimes, and fancieshimself to be a master in wickedness, when he is amongst his fellows, iswonderful in the precautions which he takes, because he judges of them byhimself: but when he gets into the company of men of virtue, who have theexperience of age, he appears to be a fool again, owing to his unseasonablesuspicions; he cannot recognise an honest man, because he has no pattern ofhonesty in himself; at the same time, as the bad are more numerous than thegood, and he meets with them oftener, he thinks himself, and is by othersthought to be, rather wise than foolish.

Most true, he said.

Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this man, but theother; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a virtuous nature, educated bytime, will acquire a knowledge both of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and notthe vicious, man has wisdom—in my opinion.

And in mine also.

This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you willsanction in your state. They will minister to better natures, giving healthboth of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they willleave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end tothemselves.

That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.

And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music which, as wesaid, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.


And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise thesimple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some extremecase.

That I quite believe.

The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended to stimulate thespirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength; he will not,like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develope his muscles.

Very right, he said.

Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really designed, as is oftensupposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the training ofthe body.

What then is the real object of them?

I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly theimprovement of the soul.

How can that be? he asked.

Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself of exclusivedevotion to gymnastic, or the opposite effect of an exclusive devotion tomusic?

In what way shown? he said.

The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of softness andeffeminacy, I replied.

Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of asavage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is goodfor him.

Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightlyeducated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to becomehard and brutal.

That I quite think.

On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness. And thisalso, when too much indulged, will turn to softness, but, if educated rightly,will be gentle and moderate.


And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?


And both should be in harmony?

Beyond question.

And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?


And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?

Very true.

And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul throughthe funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs of which wewere just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in warbling and thedelights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit whichis in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle anduseless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing process, in the nextstage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cutout the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble warrior.

Very true.

If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedilyaccomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music weakening thespirit renders him excitable;—on the least provocation he flames up atonce, and is speedily extinguished; instead of having spirit he grows irritableand passionate and is quite impracticable.


And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder,and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the highcondition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice theman that he was.


And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with the Muses,does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no taste ofany sort of learning or enquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull andblind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his senses notbeing purged of their mists?

True, he said.

And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using theweapon of persuasion,—he is like a wild beast, all violence andfierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all ignoranceand evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.

That is quite true, he said.

And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the otherthe philosophical, some God, as I should say, has given mankind two artsanswering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and body), in order thatthese two principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be relaxed ordrawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.

That appears to be the intention.

And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest proportions, and bestattempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician andharmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.

You are quite right, Socrates.

And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if thegovernment is to last.

Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.

Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where would be the useof going into further details about the dances of our citizens, or about theirhunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian contests? For these allfollow the general principle, and having found that, we shall have nodifficulty in discovering them.

I dare say that there will be no difficulty.

Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not ask who are tobe rulers and who subjects?


There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.


And that the best of these must rule.

That is also clear.

Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to husbandry?


And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must they not bethose who have most the character of guardians?


And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to have a special careof the State?


And a man will be most likely to care about that which he loves?

To be sure.

And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as having the sameinterests with himself, and that of which the good or evil fortune is supposedby him at any time most to affect his own?

Very true, he replied.

Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the guardians those who intheir whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for the good oftheir country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is against her interests.

Those are the right men.

And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that we may see whetherthey preserve their resolution, and never, under the influence either of forceor enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to the State.

How cast off? he said.

I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a man’s mindeither with his will or against his will; with his will when he gets rid of afalsehood and learns better, against his will whenever he is deprived of atruth.

I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the meaning of theunwilling I have yet to learn.

Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly deprived of good, andwillingly of evil? Is not to have lost the truth an evil, and to possess thetruth a good? and you would agree that to conceive things as they are is topossess the truth?

Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind are deprived oftruth against their will.

And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by theft, or force, orenchantment?

Still, he replied, I do not understand you.

I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the tragedians. I only meanthat some men are changed by persuasion and that others forget; argument stealsaway the hearts of one class, and time of the other; and this I call theft. Nowyou understand me?


Those again who are forced, are those whom the violence of some pain or griefcompels to change their opinion.

I understand, he said, and you are quite right.

And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those who change theirminds either under the softer influence of pleasure, or the sterner influenceof fear?

Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.

Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are the best guardiansof their own conviction that what they think the interest of the State is to bethe rule of their lives. We must watch them from their youth upwards, and makethem perform actions in which they are most likely to forget or to be deceived,and he who remembers and is not deceived is to be selected, and he who fails inthe trial is to be rejected. That will be the way?


And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for them, inwhich they will be made to give further proof of the same qualities.

Very right, he replied.

And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments—that is the thirdsort of test—and see what will be their behaviour: like those who takecolts amid noise and tumult to see if they are of a timid nature, so must wetake our youth amid terrors of some kind, and again pass them into pleasures,and prove them more thoroughly than gold is proved in the furnace, that we maydiscover whether they are armed against all enchantments, and of a noblebearing always, good guardians of themselves and of the music which they havelearned, and retaining under all circumstances a rhythmical and harmoniousnature, such as will be most serviceable to the individual and to the State.And he who at every age, as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out ofthe trial victorious and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of theState; he shall be honoured in life and death, and shall receive sepulture andother memorials of honour, the greatest that we have to give. But him whofails, we must reject. I am inclined to think that this is the sort of way inwhich our rulers and guardians should be chosen and appointed. I speakgenerally, and not with any pretension to exactness.

And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.

And perhaps the word ‘guardian’ in the fullest sense ought to beapplied to this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies andmaintain peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the will,or the others the power, to harm us. The young men whom we before calledguardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of theprinciples of the rulers.

I agree with you, he said.

How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we latelyspoke—just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that bepossible, and at any rate the rest of the city?

What sort of lie? he said.

Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale (Laws) of what has oftenoccurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have made the worldbelieve,) though not in our time, and I do not know whether such an event couldever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it did.

How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!

You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have heard.

Speak, he said, and fear not.

Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in theface, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I propose tocommunicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly tothe people. They are to be told that their youth was a dream, and the educationand training which they received from us, an appearance only; in reality duringall that time they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth, wherethey themselves and their arms and appurtenances were manufactured; when theywere completed, the earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their countrybeing their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good,and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard aschildren of the earth and their own brothers.

You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which you were going totell.

True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told you half. Citizens,we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed youdifferently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition ofthese he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; othershe has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmenand craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generallybe preserved in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, agolden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a goldenson. And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else,that there is nothing which they should so anxiously guard, or of which theyare to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They shouldobserve what elements mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden orsilver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders atransposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towardsthe child because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman orartisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of goldor silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries.For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it willbe destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizensbelieve in it?

Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishingthis; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons’sons, and posterity after them.

I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will makethem care more for the city and for one another. Enough, however, of thefiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while we arm ourearth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of their rulers. Letthem look round and select a spot whence they can best suppress insurrection,if any prove refractory within, and also defend themselves against enemies, wholike wolves may come down on the fold from without; there let them encamp, andwhen they have encamped, let them sacrifice to the proper Gods and preparetheir dwellings.

Just so, he said.

And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against the cold of winterand the heat of summer.

I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.

Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not of shop-keepers.

What is the difference? he said.

That I will endeavour to explain, I replied. To keep watch-dogs, who, from wantof discipline or hunger, or some evil habit or other, would turn upon the sheepand worry them, and behave not like dogs but wolves, would be a foul andmonstrous thing in a shepherd?

Truly monstrous, he said.

And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries, being strongerthan our citizens, may not grow to be too much for them and become savagetyrants instead of friends and allies?

Yes, great care should be taken.

And would not a really good education furnish the best safeguard?

But they are well-educated already, he replied.

I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much more certain thatthey ought to be, and that true education, whatever that may be, will have thegreatest tendency to civilize and humanize them in their relations to oneanother, and to those who are under their protection.

Very true, he replied.

And not only their education, but their habitations, and all that belongs tothem, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as guardians, nortempt them to prey upon the other citizens. Any man of sense must acknowledgethat.

He must.

Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to realizeour idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have any property ofhis own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should they have a privatehouse or store closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisionsshould be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men oftemperance and courage; they should agree to receive from the citizens a fixedrate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year and no more; and they willgo to mess and live together like soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we willtell them that they have from God; the diviner metal is within them, and theyhave therefore no need of the dross which is current among men, and ought notto pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner metalhas been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled. And theyalone of all the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be underthe same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will betheir salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State. But should theyever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will becomehousekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants insteadof allies of the other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and beingplotted against, they will pass their whole life in much greater terror ofinternal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to themselves andto the rest of the State, will be at hand. For all which reasons may we not saythat thus shall our State be ordered, and that these shall be the regulationsappointed by us for guardians concerning their houses and all other matters?

Yes, said Glaucon.


Here Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer, Socrates, said he,if a person were to say that you are making these people miserable, and thatthey are the cause of their own unhappiness; the city in fact belongs to them,but they are none the better for it; whereas other men acquire lands, and buildlarge and handsome houses, and have everything handsome about them, offeringsacrifices to the gods on their own account, and practising hospitality;moreover, as you were saying just now, they have gold and silver, and all thatis usual among the favourites of fortune; but our poor citizens are no betterthan mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting guard?

Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not paid in additionto their food, like other men; and therefore they cannot, if they would, take ajourney of pleasure; they have no money to spend on a mistress or any otherluxurious fancy, which, as the world goes, is thought to be happiness; and manyother accusations of the same nature might be added.

But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the charge.

You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?


If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that we shall find theanswer. And our answer will be that, even as they are, our guardians may verylikely be the happiest of men; but that our aim in founding the State was notthe disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness ofthe whole; we thought that in a State which is ordered with a view to the goodof the whole we should be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-orderedState injustice: and, having found them, we might then decide which of the twois the happier. At present, I take it, we are fashioning the happy State, notpiecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole; andby-and-by we will proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that wewere painting a statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not putthe most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the body—theeyes ought to be purple, but you have made them black—to him we mightfairly answer, Sir, you would not surely have us beautify the eyes to such adegree that they are no longer eyes; consider rather whether, by giving thisand the other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful. Andso I say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort ofhappiness which will make them anything but guardians; for we too can clotheour husbandmen in royal apparel, and set crowns of gold on their heads, and bidthem till the ground as much as they like, and no more. Our potters also mightbe allowed to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside, passing round thewinecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and working at pottery onlyas much as they like; in this way we might make every class happy—andthen, as you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do not put this ideainto our heads; for, if we listen to you, the husbandman will be no longer ahusbandman, the potter will cease to be a potter, and no one will have thecharacter of any distinct class in the State. Now this is not of muchconsequence where the corruption of society, and pretension to be what you arenot, is confined to cobblers; but when the guardians of the laws and of thegovernment are only seeming and not real guardians, then see how they turn theState upside down; and on the other hand they alone have the power of givingorder and happiness to the State. We mean our guardians to be true saviours andnot the destroyers of the State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasantsat a festival, who are enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who aredoing their duty to the State. But, if so, we mean different things, and he isspeaking of something which is not a State. And therefore we must considerwhether in appointing our guardians we would look to their greatest happinessindividually, or whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside inthe State as a whole. But if the latter be the truth, then the guardians andauxiliaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled or induced todo their own work in the best way. And thus the whole State will grow up in anoble order, and the several classes will receive the proportion of happinesswhich nature assigns to them.

I think that you are quite right.

I wonder whether you will agree with another remark which occurs to me.

What may that be?

There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.

What are they?

Wealth, I said, and poverty.

How do they act?

The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will he, think you, anylonger take the same pains with his art?

Certainly not.

He will grow more and more indolent and careless?

Very true.

And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?

Yes; he greatly deteriorates.

But, on the other hand, if he has no money, and cannot provide himself withtools or instruments, he will not work equally well himself, nor will he teachhis sons or apprentices to work equally well.

Certainly not.

Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth, workmen and theirwork are equally liable to degenerate?

That is evident.

Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which the guardianswill have to watch, or they will creep into the city unobserved.

What evils?

Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence, andthe other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.

That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to know, Socrates, howour city will be able to go to war, especially against an enemy who is rich andpowerful, if deprived of the sinews of war.

There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to war with one suchenemy; but there is no difficulty where there are two of them.

How so? he asked.

In the first place, I said, if we have to fight, our side will be trainedwarriors fighting against an army of rich men.

That is true, he said.

And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who was perfect in hisart would easily be a match for two stout and well-to-do gentlemen who were notboxers?

Hardly, if they came upon him at once.

What, now, I said, if he were able to run away and then turn and strike at theone who first came up? And supposing he were to do this several times under theheat of a scorching sun, might he not, being an expert, overturn more than onestout personage?

Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in that.

And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in the science andpractise of boxing than they have in military qualities.

Likely enough.

Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight with two or threetimes their own number?

I agree with you, for I think you right.

And suppose that, before engaging, our citizens send an embassy to one of thetwo cities, telling them what is the truth: Silver and gold we neither have norare permitted to have, but you may; do you therefore come and help us in war,and take the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these words, wouldchoose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with the dogs on theirside, against fat and tender sheep?

That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the poor State if thewealth of many States were to be gathered into one.

But how simple of you to use the term State at all of any but our own!

Why so?

You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not one of them is acity, but many cities, as they say in the game. For indeed any city, howeversmall, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of therich; these are at war with one another; and in either there are many smallerdivisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark if you treated them allas a single State. But if you deal with them as many, and give the wealth orpower or persons of the one to the others, you will always have a great manyfriends and not many enemies. And your State, while the wise order which hasnow been prescribed continues to prevail in her, will be the greatest ofStates, I do not mean to say in reputation or appearance, but in deed andtruth, though she number not more than a thousand defenders. A single Statewhich is her equal you will hardly find, either among Hellenes or barbarians,though many that appear to be as great and many times greater.

That is most true, he said.

And what, I said, will be the best limit for our rulers to fix when they areconsidering the size of the State and the amount of territory which they are toinclude, and beyond which they will not go?

What limit would you propose?

I would allow the State to increase so far as is consistent with unity; that, Ithink, is the proper limit.

Very good, he said.

Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be conveyed to ourguardians: Let our city be accounted neither large nor small, but one andself-sufficing.

And surely, said he, this is not a very severe order which we impose upon them.

And the other, said I, of which we were speaking before is lighterstill,—I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of the guardians wheninferior, and of elevating into the rank of guardians the offspring of thelower classes, when naturally superior. The intention was, that, in the case ofthe citizens generally, each individual should be put to the use for whichnature intended him, one to one work, and then every man would do his ownbusiness, and be one and not many; and so the whole city would be one and notmany.

Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.

The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adeimantus, are not, as mightbe supposed, a number of great principles, but trifles all, if care be taken,as the saying is, of the one great thing,—a thing, however, which I wouldrather call, not great, but sufficient for our purpose.

What may that be? he asked.

Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well educated, and growinto sensible men, they will easily see their way through all these, as well asother matters which I omit; such, for example, as marriage, the possession ofwomen and the procreation of children, which will all follow the generalprinciple that friends have all things in common, as the proverb says.

That will be the best way of settling them.

Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with accumulating forcelike a wheel. For good nurture and education implant good constitutions, andthese good constitutions taking root in a good education improve more and more,and this improvement affects the breed in man as in other animals.

Very possibly, he said.

Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the attention of ourrulers should be directed,—that music and gymnastic be preserved in theiroriginal form, and no innovation made. They must do their utmost to maintainthem intact. And when any one says that mankind most regard

‘The newest song which the singers have,’

they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs, but a new kind ofsong; and this ought not to be praised, or conceived to be the meaning of thepoet; for any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, andought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite believehim;—he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of theState always change with them.

Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon’s and yourown.

Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their fortress inmusic?

Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.

Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it appearsharmless.

Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that little by little thisspirit of licence, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates into manners andcustoms; whence, issuing with greater force, it invades contracts between manand man, and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in utterrecklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an overthrow of all rights, privateas well as public.

Is that true? I said.

That is my belief, he replied.

Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained from the first in a strictersystem, for if amusements become lawless, and the youths themselves becomelawless, they can never grow up into well-conducted and virtuous citizens.

Very true, he said.

And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the help of music havegained the habit of good order, then this habit of order, in a manner howunlike the lawless play of the others! will accompany them in all their actionsand be a principle of growth to them, and if there be any fallen places in theState will raise them up again.

Very true, he said.

Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser rules which theirpredecessors have altogether neglected.

What do you mean?

I mean such things as these:—when the young are to be silent before theirelders; how they are to show respect to them by standing and making them sit;what honour is due to parents; what garments or shoes are to be worn; the modeof dressing the hair; deportment and manners in general. You would agree withme?


But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters,—Idoubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments about themlikely to be lasting.


It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a man,will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?

To be sure.

Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be good, and may bethe reverse of good?

That is not to be denied.

And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate further aboutthem.

Naturally enough, he replied.

Well, and about the business of the agora, and the ordinary dealings betweenman and man, or again about agreements with artisans; about insult and injury,or the commencement of actions, and the appointment of juries, what would yousay? there may also arise questions about any impositions and exactions ofmarket and harbour dues which may be required, and in general about theregulations of markets, police, harbours, and the like. But, oh heavens! shallwe condescend to legislate on any of these particulars?

I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them on good men;what regulations are necessary they will find out soon enough for themselves.

Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws which wehave given them.

And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for ever making andmending their laws and their lives in the hope of attaining perfection.

You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having noself-restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?


Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are always doctoringand increasing and complicating their disorders, and always fancying that theywill be cured by any nostrum which anybody advises them to try.

Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this sort.

Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst enemywho tells them the truth, which is simply that, unless they give up eating anddrinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amuletnor any other remedy will avail.

Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a passion with a manwho tells you what is right.

These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good graces.

Assuredly not.

Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like the men whom I wasjust now describing. For are there not ill-ordered States in which the citizensare forbidden under pain of death to alter the constitution; and yet he whomost sweetly courts those who live under this regime and indulges them andfawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating and gratifying their humours isheld to be a great and good statesman—do not these States resemble thepersons whom I was describing?

Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am very far from praisingthem.

But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity of these readyministers of political corruption?

Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are some whom theapplause of the multitude has deluded into the belief that they are reallystatesmen, and these are not much to be admired.

What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them. When a mancannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure declare that he isfour cubits high, can he help believing what they say?

Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.

Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as a play,trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing; they are alwaysfancying that by legislation they will make an end of frauds in contracts, andthe other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that they are inreality cutting off the heads of a hydra?

Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.

I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble himself with thisclass of enactments whether concerning laws or the constitution either in anill-ordered or in a well-ordered State; for in the former they are quiteuseless, and in the latter there will be no difficulty in devising them; andmany of them will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.

What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of legislation?

Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the God of Delphi, there remains theordering of the greatest and noblest and chiefest things of all.

Which are they? he said.

The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire service of gods,demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the repositories of the dead, andthe rites which have to be observed by him who would propitiate the inhabitantsof the world below. These are matters of which we are ignorant ourselves, andas founders of a city we should be unwise in trusting them to any interpreterbut our ancestral deity. He is the god who sits in the centre, on the navel ofthe earth, and he is the interpreter of religion to all mankind.

You are right, and we will do as you propose.

But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where. Now thatour city has been made habitable, light a candle and search, and get yourbrother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help, and let us seewhere in it we can discover justice and where injustice, and in what theydiffer from one another, and which of them the man who would be happy shouldhave for his portion, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.

Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search yourself, saying that foryou not to help justice in her need would be an impiety?

I do not deny that I said so, and as you remind me, I will be as good as myword; but you must join.

We will, he replied.

Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I mean to begin with theassumption that our State, if rightly ordered, is perfect.

That is most certain.

And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate and just.

That is likewise clear.

And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one which is notfound will be the residue?

Very good.

If there were four things, and we were searching for one of them, wherever itmight be, the one sought for might be known to us from the first, and therewould be no further trouble; or we might know the other three first, and thenthe fourth would clearly be the one left.

Very true, he said.

And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues, which are alsofour in number?


First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes into view, and in thisI detect a certain peculiarity.

What is that?

The State which we have been describing is said to be wise as being good incounsel?

Very true.

And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not by ignorance, but byknowledge, do men counsel well?


And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?

Of course.

There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the sort of knowledgewhich gives a city the title of wise and good in counsel?

Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation of skill incarpentering.

Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a knowledge whichcounsels for the best about wooden implements?

Certainly not.

Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots, I said, nor aspossessing any other similar knowledge?

Not by reason of any of them, he said.

Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth; that would givethe city the name of agricultural?


Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently-founded State amongany of the citizens which advises, not about any particular thing in the State,but about the whole, and considers how a State can best deal with itself andwith other States?

There certainly is.

And what is this knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.

It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and is found among those whomwe were just now describing as perfect guardians.

And what is the name which the city derives from the possession of this sort ofknowledge?

The name of good in counsel and truly wise.

And will there be in our city more of these true guardians or more smiths?

The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.

Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who receive a namefrom the profession of some kind of knowledge?

Much the smallest.

And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the knowledge whichresides in this presiding and ruling part of itself, the whole State, beingthus constituted according to nature, will be wise; and this, which has theonly knowledge worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to be ofall classes the least.

Most true.

Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one of the fourvirtues has somehow or other been discovered.

And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered, he replied.

Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of courage, and inwhat part that quality resides which gives the name of courageous to the State.

How do you mean?

Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or cowardly, will bethinking of the part which fights and goes out to war on the State’sbehalf.

No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.

The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly, but theircourage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the effect of making thecity either the one or the other.

Certainly not.

(Video) Project Gutenberg

The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself which preservesunder all circumstances that opinion about the nature of things to be fearedand not to be feared in which our legislator educated them; and this is whatyou term courage.

I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do not think that Iperfectly understand you.

I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.

Salvation of what?

Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are and of whatnature, which the law implants through education; and I mean by the words‘under all circumstances’ to intimate that in pleasure or in pain,or under the influence of desire or fear, a man preserves, and does not losethis opinion. Shall I give you an illustration?

If you please.

You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for making the truesea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour first; this they prepare anddress with much care and pains, in order that the white ground may take thepurple hue in full perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever is dyedin this manner becomes a fast colour, and no washing either with lyes orwithout them can take away the bloom. But, when the ground has not been dulyprepared, you will have noticed how poor is the look either of purple or of anyother colour.

Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and ridiculous appearance.

Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was in selecting oursoldiers, and educating them in music and gymnastic; we were contrivinginfluences which would prepare them to take the dye of the laws in perfection,and the colour of their opinion about dangers and of every other opinion was tobe indelibly fixed by their nurture and training, not to be washed away by suchpotent lyes as pleasure—mightier agent far in washing the soul than anysoda or lye; or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the mightiest of all othersolvents. And this sort of universal saving power of true opinion in conformitywith law about real and false dangers I call and maintain to be courage, unlessyou disagree.

But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to exclude mereuninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast or of a slave—this, inyour opinion, is not the courage which the law ordains, and ought to haveanother name.

Most certainly.

Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?

Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words ‘of a citizen,’you will not be far wrong;—hereafter, if you like, we will carry theexamination further, but at present we are seeking not for courage but justice;and for the purpose of our enquiry we have said enough.

You are right, he replied.

Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State—first, temperance, andthen justice which is the end of our search.

Very true.

Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about temperance?

I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I desire thatjustice should be brought to light and temperance lost sight of; and thereforeI wish that you would do me the favour of considering temperance first.

Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing your request.

Then consider, he said.

Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see, the virtue oftemperance has more of the nature of harmony and symphony than the preceding.

How so? he asked.

Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures anddesires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of ‘a man beinghis own master;’ and other traces of the same notion may be found inlanguage.

No doubt, he said.

There is something ridiculous in the expression ‘master ofhimself;’ for the master is also the servant and the servant the master;and in all these modes of speaking the same person is denoted.


The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a better and also aworse principle; and when the better has the worse under control, then a man issaid to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise: but when, owing toevil education or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller,is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse—in this case he is blamedand is called the slave of self and unprincipled.

Yes, there is reason in that.

And now, I said, look at our newly-created State, and there you will find oneof these two conditions realized; for the State, as you will acknowledge, maybe justly called master of itself, if the words ‘temperance’ and‘self-mastery’ truly express the rule of the better part over theworse.

Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.

Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures and desires andpains are generally found in children and women and servants, and in thefreemen so called who are of the lowest and more numerous class.

Certainly, he said.

Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason, and are under theguidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found only in a few, and those thebest born and best educated.

Very true.

These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our State; and the meanerdesires of the many are held down by the virtuous desires and wisdom of thefew.

That I perceive, he said.

Then if there be any city which may be described as master of its own pleasuresand desires, and master of itself, ours may claim such a designation?

Certainly, he replied.

It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?


And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be agreed as to thequestion who are to rule, that again will be our State?


And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which class willtemperance be found—in the rulers or in the subjects?

In both, as I should imagine, he replied.

Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess that temperance was asort of harmony?

Why so?

Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of which resides ina part only, the one making the State wise and the other valiant; not sotemperance, which extends to the whole, and runs through all the notes of thescale, and produces a harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the middleclass, whether you suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom or power ornumbers or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may we deem temperance tobe the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior, as to the right torule of either, both in states and individuals.

I entirely agree with you.

And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues to have beendiscovered in our State. The last of those qualities which make a statevirtuous must be justice, if we only knew what that was.

The inference is obvious.

The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we should surround thecover, and look sharp that justice does not steal away, and pass out of sightand escape us; for beyond a doubt she is somewhere in this country: watchtherefore and strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see her first, let meknow.

Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a follower who has justeyes enough to see what you show him—that is about as much as I am goodfor.

Offer up a prayer with me and follow.

I will, but you must show me the way.

Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing; still we mustpush on.

Let us push on.

Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a track, and Ibelieve that the quarry will not escape.

Good news, he said.

Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.

Why so?

Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago, there was justicetumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her; nothing could be moreridiculous. Like people who go about looking for what they have in theirhands—that was the way with us—we looked not at what we wereseeking, but at what was far off in the distance; and therefore, I suppose, wemissed her.

What do you mean?

I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have been talking ofjustice, and have failed to recognise her.

I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.

Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You remember theoriginal principle which we were always laying down at the foundation of theState, that one man should practise one thing only, the thing to which hisnature was best adapted;—now justice is this principle or a part of it.

Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.

Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one’s own business, and notbeing a busybody; we said so again and again, and many others have said thesame to us.

Yes, we said so.

Then to do one’s own business in a certain way may be assumed to bejustice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?

I cannot, but I should like to be told.

Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains in the State whenthe other virtues of temperance and courage and wisdom are abstracted; and,that this is the ultimate cause and condition of the existence of all of them,and while remaining in them is also their preservative; and we were saying thatif the three were discovered by us, justice would be the fourth or remainingone.

That follows of necessity.

If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities by its presencecontributes most to the excellence of the State, whether the agreement ofrulers and subjects, or the preservation in the soldiers of the opinion whichthe law ordains about the true nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness inthe rulers, or whether this other which I am mentioning, and which is found inchildren and women, slave and freeman, artisan, ruler, subject,—thequality, I mean, of every one doing his own work, and not being a busybody,would claim the palm—the question is not so easily answered.

Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying which.

Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own work appears tocompete with the other political virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage.

Yes, he said.

And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?


Let us look at the question from another point of view: Are not the rulers in aState those to whom you would entrust the office of determining suits at law?


And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may neither take whatis another’s, nor be deprived of what is his own?

Yes; that is their principle.

Which is a just principle?


Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the having and doing whatis a man’s own, and belongs to him?

Very true.

Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose a carpenter to bedoing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler of a carpenter; and suppose themto exchange their implements or their duties, or the same person to be doingthe work of both, or whatever be the change; do you think that any great harmwould result to the State?

Not much.

But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader,having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of hisfollowers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class ofwarriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he isunfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or whenone man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I think you willagree with me in saying that this interchange and this meddling of one withanother is the ruin of the State.

Most true.

Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of onewith another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to theState, and may be most justly termed evil-doing?


And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one’s own city would be termedby you injustice?


This then is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader, the auxiliary,and the guardian each do their own business, that is justice, and will make thecity just.

I agree with you.

We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial, this conceptionof justice be verified in the individual as well as in the State, there will beno longer any room for doubt; if it be not verified, we must have a freshenquiry. First let us complete the old investigation, which we began, as youremember, under the impression that, if we could previously examine justice onthe larger scale, there would be less difficulty in discerning her in theindividual. That larger example appeared to be the State, and accordingly weconstructed as good a one as we could, knowing well that in the good Statejustice would be found. Let the discovery which we made be now applied to theindividual—if they agree, we shall be satisfied; or, if there be adifference in the individual, we will come back to the State and have anothertrial of the theory. The friction of the two when rubbed together may possiblystrike a light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is thenrevealed we will fix in our souls.

That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.

I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less, are called by the samename, are they like or unlike in so far as they are called the same?

Like, he replied.

The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the justState?

He will.

And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the Stateseverally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate and valiantand wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of these sameclasses?

True, he said.

And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same three principlesin his own soul which are found in the State; and he may be rightly describedin the same terms, because he is affected in the same manner?

Certainly, he said.

Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easyquestion—whether the soul has these three principles or not?

An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds that hard is thegood.

Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which we are employing isat all adequate to the accurate solution of this question; the true method isanother and a longer one. Still we may arrive at a solution not below the levelof the previous enquiry.

May we not be satisfied with that? he said;—under the circumstances, I amquite content.

I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.

Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.

Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are the sameprinciples and habits which there are in the State; and that from theindividual they pass into the State?—how else can they come there? Takethe quality of passion or spirit;—it would be ridiculous to imagine thatthis quality, when found in States, is not derived from the individuals who aresupposed to possess it, e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general thenorthern nations; and the same may be said of the love of knowledge, which isthe special characteristic of our part of the world, or of the love of money,which may, with equal truth, be attributed to the Phoenicians and Egyptians.

Exactly so, he said.

There is no difficulty in understanding this.

None whatever.

But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask whether theseprinciples are three or one; whether, that is to say, we learn with one part ofour nature, are angry with another, and with a third part desire thesatisfaction of our natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes intoplay in each sort of action—to determine that is the difficulty.

Yes, he said; there lies the difficulty.

Then let us now try and determine whether they are the same or different.

How can we? he asked.

I replied as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be acted upon in thesame part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways;and therefore whenever this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same,we know that they are really not the same, but different.


For example, I said, can the same thing be at rest and in motion at the sametime in the same part?


Still, I said, let us have a more precise statement of terms, lest we shouldhereafter fall out by the way. Imagine the case of a man who is standing andalso moving his hands and his head, and suppose a person to say that one andthe same person is in motion and at rest at the same moment—to such amode of speech we should object, and should rather say that one part of him isin motion while another is at rest.

Very true.

And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw the nicedistinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops, when they spin roundwith their pegs fixed on the spot, are at rest and in motion at the same time(and he may say the same of anything which revolves in the same spot), hisobjection would not be admitted by us, because in such cases things are not atrest and in motion in the same parts of themselves; we should rather say thatthey have both an axis and a circumference, and that the axis stands still, forthere is no deviation from the perpendicular; and that the circumference goesround. But if, while revolving, the axis inclines either to the right or left,forwards or backwards, then in no point of view can they be at rest.

That is the correct mode of describing them, he replied.

Then none of these objections will confuse us, or incline us to believe thatthe same thing at the same time, in the same part or in relation to the samething, can act or be acted upon in contrary ways.

Certainly not, according to my way of thinking.

Yet, I said, that we may not be compelled to examine all such objections, andprove at length that they are untrue, let us assume their absurdity, and goforward on the understanding that hereafter, if this assumption turn out to beuntrue, all the consequences which follow shall be withdrawn.

Yes, he said, that will be the best way.

Well, I said, would you not allow that assent and dissent, desire and aversion,attraction and repulsion, are all of them opposites, whether they are regardedas active or passive (for that makes no difference in the fact of theiropposition)?

Yes, he said, they are opposites.

Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in general, and againwilling and wishing,—all these you would refer to the classes alreadymentioned. You would say—would you not?—that the soul of him whodesires is seeking after the object of his desire; or that he is drawing tohimself the thing which he wishes to possess: or again, when a person wantsanything to be given him, his mind, longing for the realization of his desire,intimates his wish to have it by a nod of assent, as if he had been asked aquestion?

Very true.

And what would you say of unwillingness and dislike and the absence of desire;should not these be referred to the opposite class of repulsion and rejection?


Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose a particularclass of desires, and out of these we will select hunger and thirst, as theyare termed, which are the most obvious of them?

Let us take that class, he said.

The object of one is food, and of the other drink?


And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the soul has of drink,and of drink only; not of drink qualified by anything else; for example, warmor cold, or much or little, or, in a word, drink of any particular sort: but ifthe thirst be accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink; or, ifaccompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be excessive, thenthe drink which is desired will be excessive; or, if not great, the quantity ofdrink will also be small: but thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure andsimple, which is the natural satisfaction of thirst, as food is of hunger?

Yes, he said; the simple desire is, as you say, in every case of the simpleobject, and the qualified desire of the qualified object.

But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard against an opponentstarting up and saying that no man desires drink only, but good drink, or foodonly, but good food; for good is the universal object of desire, and thirstbeing a desire, will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the same istrue of every other desire.

Yes, he replied, the opponent might have something to say.

Nevertheless I should still maintain, that of relatives some have a qualityattached to either term of the relation; others are simple and have theircorrelatives simple.

I do not know what you mean.

Well, you know of course that the greater is relative to the less?


And the much greater to the much less?


And the sometime greater to the sometime less, and the greater that is to be tothe less that is to be?

Certainly, he said.

And so of more and less, and of other correlative terms, such as the double andthe half, or again, the heavier and the lighter, the swifter and the slower;and of hot and cold, and of any other relatives;—is not this true of allof them?


And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The object of science isknowledge (assuming that to be the true definition), but the object of aparticular science is a particular kind of knowledge; I mean, for example, thatthe science of house-building is a kind of knowledge which is defined anddistinguished from other kinds and is therefore termed architecture.


Because it has a particular quality which no other has?


And it has this particular quality because it has an object of a particularkind; and this is true of the other arts and sciences?


Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will understand my original meaningin what I said about relatives. My meaning was, that if one term of a relationis taken alone, the other is taken alone; if one term is qualified, the otheris also qualified. I do not mean to say that relatives may not be disparate, orthat the science of health is healthy, or of disease necessarily diseased, orthat the sciences of good and evil are therefore good and evil; but only that,when the term science is no longer used absolutely, but has a qualified objectwhich in this case is the nature of health and disease, it becomes defined, andis hence called not merely science, but the science of medicine.

I quite understand, and I think as you do.

Would you not say that thirst is one of these essentially relative terms,having clearly a relation—

Yes, thirst is relative to drink.

And a certain kind of thirst is relative to a certain kind of drink; but thirsttaken alone is neither of much nor little, nor of good nor bad, nor of anyparticular kind of drink, but of drink only?


Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty, desires onlydrink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it?

That is plain.

And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink, thatmust be different from the thirsty principle which draws him like a beast todrink; for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with thesame part of itself act in contrary ways about the same.


No more than you can say that the hands of the archer push and pull the bow atthe same time, but what you say is that one hand pushes and the other pulls.

Exactly so, he replied.

And might a man be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink?

Yes, he said, it constantly happens.

And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that there wassomething in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something else forbiddinghim, which is other and stronger than the principle which bids him?

I should say so.

And the forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that which bids andattracts proceeds from passion and disease?


Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they differ from oneanother; the one with which a man reasons, we may call the rational principleof the soul, the other, with which he loves and hungers and thirsts and feelsthe flutterings of any other desire, may be termed the irrational orappetitive, the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions?

Yes, he said, we may fairly assume them to be different.

Then let us finally determine that there are two principles existing in thesoul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a third, or akin to one of thepreceding?

I should be inclined to say—akin to desire.

Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in which Iput faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one dayfrom the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside, observed some deadbodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to seethem, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled andcovered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcingthem open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take yourfill of the fair sight.

I have heard the story myself, he said.

The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with desire, asthough they were two distinct things.

Yes; that is the meaning, he said.

And are there not many other cases in which we observe that when a man’sdesires violently prevail over his reason, he reviles himself, and is angry atthe violence within him, and that in this struggle, which is like the struggleof factions in a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason;—but forthe passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires when reasondecides that she should not be opposed, is a sort of thing which I believe thatyou never observed occurring in yourself, nor, as I should imagine, in any oneelse?

Certainly not.

Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the nobler he is theless able is he to feel indignant at any suffering, such as hunger, or cold, orany other pain which the injured person may inflict upon him—these hedeems to be just, and, as I say, his anger refuses to be excited by them.

True, he said.

But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then he boils andchafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be justice; and because hesuffers hunger or cold or other pain he is only the more determined topersevere and conquer. His noble spirit will not be quelled until he eitherslays or is slain; or until he hears the voice of the shepherd, that is,reason, bidding his dog bark no more.

The illustration is perfect, he replied; and in our State, as we were saying,the auxiliaries were to be dogs, and to hear the voice of the rulers, who aretheir shepherds.

I perceive, I said, that you quite understand me; there is, however, a furtherpoint which I wish you to consider.

What point?

You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight to be a kind ofdesire, but now we should say quite the contrary; for in the conflict of thesoul spirit is arrayed on the side of the rational principle.

Most assuredly.

But a further question arises: Is passion different from reason also, or only akind of reason; in which latter case, instead of three principles in the soul,there will only be two, the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as theState was composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so maythere not be in the individual soul a third element which is passion or spirit,and when not corrupted by bad education is the natural auxiliary of reason?

Yes, he said, there must be a third.

Yes, I replied, if passion, which has already been shown to be different fromdesire, turn out also to be different from reason.

But that is easily proved:—We may observe even in young children thatthey are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born, whereas some of themnever seem to attain to the use of reason, and most of them late enough.

Excellent, I said, and you may see passion equally in brute animals, which is afurther proof of the truth of what you are saying. And we may once more appealto the words of Homer, which have been already quoted by us,

‘He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul,’

for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed the power which reasons about thebetter and worse to be different from the unreasoning anger which is rebuked byit.

Very true, he said.

And so, after much tossing, we have reached land, and are fairly agreed thatthe same principles which exist in the State exist also in the individual, andthat they are three in number.


Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the same way, and invirtue of the same quality which makes the State wise?


Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the State constitutescourage in the individual, and that both the State and the individual bear thesame relation to all the other virtues?


And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in the same way inwhich the State is just?

That follows, of course.

We cannot but remember that the justice of the State consisted in each of thethree classes doing the work of its own class?

We are not very likely to have forgotten, he said.

We must recollect that the individual in whom the several qualities of hisnature do their own work will be just, and will do his own work?

Yes, he said, we must remember that too.

And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of thewhole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subjectand ally?


And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and gymnastic will bringthem into accord, nerving and sustaining the reason with noble words andlessons, and moderating and soothing and civilizing the wildness of passion byharmony and rhythm?

Quite true, he said.

And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned truly to knowtheir own functions, will rule over the concupiscent, which in each of us isthe largest part of the soul and by nature most insatiable of gain; over thisthey will keep guard, lest, waxing great and strong with the fulness of bodilypleasures, as they are termed, the concupiscent soul, no longer confined to herown sphere, should attempt to enslave and rule those who are not hernatural-born subjects, and overturn the whole life of man?

Very true, he said.

Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole soul and thewhole body against attacks from without; the one counselling, and the otherfighting under his leader, and courageously executing his commands andcounsels?


And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in pleasure and in painthe commands of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear?

Right, he replied.

And him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules, and whichproclaims these commands; that part too being supposed to have a knowledge ofwhat is for the interest of each of the three parts and of the whole?


And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same elements infriendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of reason, and the twosubject ones of spirit and desire are equally agreed that reason ought to rule,and do not rebel?

Certainly, he said, that is the true account of temperance whether in the Stateor individual.

And surely, I said, we have explained again and again how and by virtue of whatquality a man will be just.

That is very certain.

And is justice dimmer in the individual, and is her form different, or is shethe same which we found her to be in the State?

There is no difference in my opinion, he said.

Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few commonplaceinstances will satisfy us of the truth of what I am saying.

What sort of instances do you mean?

If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just State, or the man whois trained in the principles of such a State, will be less likely than theunjust to make away with a deposit of gold or silver? Would any one deny this?

No one, he replied.

Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or theft, or treacheryeither to his friends or to his country?


Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths or agreements?


No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonour his father andmother, or to fail in his religious duties?

No one.

And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own business, whether inruling or being ruled?

Exactly so.

Are you satisfied then that the quality which makes such men and such states isjustice, or do you hope to discover some other?

Not I, indeed.

Then our dream has been realized; and the suspicion which we entertained at thebeginning of our work of construction, that some divine power must haveconducted us to a primary form of justice, has now been verified?

Yes, certainly.

And the division of labour which required the carpenter and the shoemaker andthe rest of the citizens to be doing each his own business, and notanother’s, was a shadow of justice, and for that reason it was of use?


But in reality justice was such as we were describing, being concerned however,not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self andconcernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elementswithin him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work ofothers,—he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master andhis own law, and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together thethree principles within him, which may be compared to the higher, lower, andmiddle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals—when he hasbound all these together, and is no longer many, but has become one entirelytemperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act, if he has toact, whether in a matter of property, or in the treatment of the body, or insome affair of politics or private business; always thinking and calling thatwhich preserves and co-operates with this harmonious condition, just and goodaction, and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which at anytime impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the opinion whichpresides over it ignorance.

You have said the exact truth, Socrates.

Very good; and if we were to affirm that we had discovered the just man and thejust State, and the nature of justice in each of them, we should not be tellinga falsehood?

Most certainly not.

May we say so, then?

Let us say so.

And now, I said, injustice has to be considered.


Must not injustice be a strife which arises among the three principles—ameddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up of a part of the soul againstthe whole, an assertion of unlawful authority, which is made by a rebellioussubject against a true prince, of whom he is the natural vassal,—what isall this confusion and delusion but injustice, and intemperance and cowardiceand ignorance, and every form of vice?

Exactly so.

And if the nature of justice and injustice be known, then the meaning of actingunjustly and being unjust, or, again, of acting justly, will also be perfectlyclear?

What do you mean? he said.

Why, I said, they are like disease and health; being in the soul just whatdisease and health are in the body.

How so? he said.

Why, I said, that which is healthy causes health, and that which is unhealthycauses disease.


And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause injustice?

That is certain.

And the creation of health is the institution of a natural order and governmentof one by another in the parts of the body; and the creation of disease is theproduction of a state of things at variance with this natural order?


And is not the creation of justice the institution of a natural order andgovernment of one by another in the parts of the soul, and the creation ofinjustice the production of a state of things at variance with the naturalorder?

Exactly so, he said.

Then virtue is the health and beauty and well-being of the soul, and vice thedisease and weakness and deformity of the same?


And do not good practices lead to virtue, and evil practices to vice?


Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice and injusticehas not been answered: Which is the more profitable, to be just and act justlyand practise virtue, whether seen or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjustand act unjustly, if only unpunished and unreformed?

In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become ridiculous. We know that,when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer endurable, thoughpampered with all kinds of meats and drinks, and having all wealth and allpower; and shall we be told that when the very essence of the vital principleis undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having to a man, if only he beallowed to do whatever he likes with the single exception that he is not toacquire justice and virtue, or to escape from injustice and vice; assuming themboth to be such as we have described?

Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still, as we are near thespot at which we may see the truth in the clearest manner with our own eyes,let us not faint by the way.

Certainly not, he replied.

Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice, those of them, Imean, which are worth looking at.

I am following you, he replied: proceed.

I said, The argument seems to have reached a height from which, as from sometower of speculation, a man may look down and see that virtue is one, but thatthe forms of vice are innumerable; there being four special ones which aredeserving of note.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of the soul as thereare distinct forms of the State.

How many?

There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.

What are they?

The first, I said, is that which we have been describing, and which may be saidto have two names, monarchy and aristocracy, accordingly as rule is exercisedby one distinguished man or by many.

True, he replied.

But I regard the two names as describing one form only; for whether thegovernment is in the hands of one or many, if the governors have been trainedin the manner which we have supposed, the fundamental laws of the State will bemaintained.

That is true, he replied.


Such is the good and true City or State, and the good and true man is of thesame pattern; and if this is right every other is wrong; and the evil is onewhich affects not only the ordering of the State, but also the regulation ofthe individual soul, and is exhibited in four forms.

What are they? he said.

I was proceeding to tell the order in which the four evil forms appeared to meto succeed one another, when Polemarchus, who was sitting a little way off,just beyond Adeimantus, began to whisper to him: stretching forth his hand, hetook hold of the upper part of his coat by the shoulder, and drew him towardshim, leaning forward himself so as to be quite close and saying something inhis ear, of which I only caught the words, ‘Shall we let him off, or whatshall we do?’

Certainly not, said Adeimantus, raising his voice.

Who is it, I said, whom you are refusing to let off?

You, he said.

I repeated, Why am I especially not to be let off?

Why, he said, we think that you are lazy, and mean to cheat us out of a wholechapter which is a very important part of the story; and you fancy that weshall not notice your airy way of proceeding; as if it were self-evident toeverybody, that in the matter of women and children ‘friends have allthings in common.’

And was I not right, Adeimantus?

Yes, he said; but what is right in this particular case, like everything else,requires to be explained; for community may be of many kinds. Please,therefore, to say what sort of community you mean. We have been long expectingthat you would tell us something about the family life of yourcitizens—how they will bring children into the world, and rear them whenthey have arrived, and, in general, what is the nature of this community ofwomen and children—for we are of opinion that the right or wrongmanagement of such matters will have a great and paramount influence on theState for good or for evil. And now, since the question is still undetermined,and you are taking in hand another State, we have resolved, as you heard, notto let you go until you give an account of all this.

To that resolution, said Glaucon, you may regard me as saying Agreed.

And without more ado, said Thrasymachus, you may consider us all to be equallyagreed.

I said, You know not what you are doing in thus assailing me: What an argumentare you raising about the State! Just as I thought that I had finished, and wasonly too glad that I had laid this question to sleep, and was reflecting howfortunate I was in your acceptance of what I then said, you ask me to beginagain at the very foundation, ignorant of what a hornet’s nest of wordsyou are stirring. Now I foresaw this gathering trouble, and avoided it.

For what purpose do you conceive that we have come here, saidThrasymachus,—to look for gold, or to hear discourse?

Yes, but discourse should have a limit.

Yes, Socrates, said Glaucon, and the whole of life is the only limit which wisemen assign to the hearing of such discourses. But never mind about us; takeheart yourself and answer the question in your own way: What sort of communityof women and children is this which is to prevail among our guardians? and howshall we manage the period between birth and education, which seems to requirethe greatest care? Tell us how these things will be.

Yes, my simple friend, but the answer is the reverse of easy; many more doubtsarise about this than about our previous conclusions. For the practicability ofwhat is said may be doubted; and looked at in another point of view, whetherthe scheme, if ever so practicable, would be for the best, is also doubtful.Hence I feel a reluctance to approach the subject, lest our aspiration, my dearfriend, should turn out to be a dream only.

Fear not, he replied, for your audience will not be hard upon you; they are notsceptical or hostile.

I said: My good friend, I suppose that you mean to encourage me by these words.

Yes, he said.

Then let me tell you that you are doing just the reverse; the encouragementwhich you offer would have been all very well had I myself believed that I knewwhat I was talking about: to declare the truth about matters of high interestwhich a man honours and loves among wise men who love him need occasion no fearor faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument when you are yourselfonly a hesitating enquirer, which is my condition, is a dangerous and slipperything; and the danger is not that I shall be laughed at (of which the fearwould be childish), but that I shall miss the truth where I have most need tobe sure of my footing, and drag my friends after me in my fall. And I prayNemesis not to visit upon me the words which I am going to utter. For I doindeed believe that to be an involuntary homicide is a less crime than to be adeceiver about beauty or goodness or justice in the matter of laws. And that isa risk which I would rather run among enemies than among friends, and thereforeyou do well to encourage me.

Glaucon laughed and said: Well then, Socrates, in case you and your argument dous any serious injury you shall be acquitted beforehand of the homicide, andshall not be held to be a deceiver; take courage then and speak.

Well, I said, the law says that when a man is acquitted he is free from guilt,and what holds at law may hold in argument.

Then why should you mind?

Well, I replied, I suppose that I must retrace my steps and say what I perhapsought to have said before in the proper place. The part of the men has beenplayed out, and now properly enough comes the turn of the women. Of them I willproceed to speak, and the more readily since I am invited by you.

For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way, in my opinion, ofarriving at a right conclusion about the possession and use of women andchildren is to follow the path on which we originally started, when we saidthat the men were to be the guardians and watchdogs of the herd.


Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women to be subject tosimilar or nearly similar regulations; then we shall see whether the resultaccords with our design.

What do you mean?

What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said: Are dogs dividedinto hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keepingwatch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the males the entireand exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under theidea that the bearing and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?

No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between them is that themales are stronger and the females weaker.

But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bredand fed in the same way?

You cannot.

Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the samenurture and education?


The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic.


Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war, whichthey must practise like the men?

That is the inference, I suppose.

I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals, if they arecarried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.

No doubt of it.

Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked inthe palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longeryoung; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than theenthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles and ugliness continue to frequentthe gymnasia.

Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal would bethought ridiculous.

But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not fearthe jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation;how they will talk of women’s attainments both in music and gymnastic,and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!

Very true, he replied.

Yet having begun we must go forward to the rough places of the law; at the sametime begging of these gentlemen for once in their life to be serious. Not longago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is stillgenerally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a naked man wasridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans and then the Lacedaemoniansintroduced the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed theinnovation.

No doubt.

But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far betterthan to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye vanishedbefore the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceivedto be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but thatof folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any otherstandard but that of the good.

Very true, he replied.

First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in earnest, let uscome to an understanding about the nature of woman: Is she capable of sharingeither wholly or partially in the actions of men, or not at all? And is the artof war one of those arts in which she can or can not share? That will be thebest way of commencing the enquiry, and will probably lead to the fairestconclusion.

That will be much the best way.

Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing against ourselves; inthis manner the adversary’s position will not be undefended.

Why not? he said.

Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. They will say:‘Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary need convict you, for you yourselves,at the first foundation of the State, admitted the principle that everybody wasto do the one work suited to his own nature.’ And certainly, if I am notmistaken, such an admission was made by us. ‘And do not the natures ofmen and women differ very much indeed?’ And we shall reply: Of coursethey do. Then we shall be asked, ‘Whether the tasks assigned to men andto women should not be different, and such as are agreeable to their differentnatures?’ Certainly they should. ‘But if so, have you not falleninto a serious inconsistency in saying that men and women, whose natures are soentirely different, ought to perform the same actions?’—Whatdefence will you make for us, my good Sir, against any one who offers theseobjections?

That is not an easy question to answer when asked suddenly; and I shall and Ido beg of you to draw out the case on our side.

These are the objections, Glaucon, and there are many others of a like kind,which I foresaw long ago; they made me afraid and reluctant to take in hand anylaw about the possession and nurture of women and children.

By Zeus, he said, the problem to be solved is anything but easy.

Why yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of his depth, whetherhe has fallen into a little swimming bath or into mid ocean, he has to swim allthe same.

Very true.

And must not we swim and try to reach the shore: we will hope thatArion’s dolphin or some other miraculous help may save us?

I suppose so, he said.

Well then, let us see if any way of escape can be found. Weacknowledged—did we not? that different natures ought to have differentpursuits, and that men’s and women’s natures are different. And nowwhat are we saying?—that different natures ought to have the samepursuits,—this is the inconsistency which is charged upon us.


Verily, Glaucon, I said, glorious is the power of the art of contradiction!

Why do you say so?

Because I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will. Whenhe thinks that he is reasoning he is really disputing, just because he cannotdefine and divide, and so know that of which he is speaking; and he will pursuea merely verbal opposition in the spirit of contention and not of fairdiscussion.

Yes, he replied, such is very often the case; but what has that to do with usand our argument?

A great deal; for there is certainly a danger of our getting unintentionallyinto a verbal opposition.

In what way?

Why we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal truth, that differentnatures ought to have different pursuits, but we never considered at all whatwas the meaning of sameness or difference of nature, or why we distinguishedthem when we assigned different pursuits to different natures and the same tothe same natures.

Why, no, he said, that was never considered by us.

I said: Suppose that by way of illustration we were to ask the question whetherthere is not an opposition in nature between bald men and hairy men; and ifthis is admitted by us, then, if bald men are cobblers, we should forbid thehairy men to be cobblers, and conversely?

That would be a jest, he said.

Yes, I said, a jest; and why? because we never meant when we constructed theState, that the opposition of natures should extend to every difference, butonly to those differences which affected the pursuit in which the individual isengaged; we should have argued, for example, that a physician and one who is inmind a physician may be said to have the same nature.


Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different natures?


And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness forany art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be assignedto one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only in womenbearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that awoman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she shouldreceive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians andtheir wives ought to have the same pursuits.

Very true, he said.

Next, we shall ask our opponent how, in reference to any of the pursuits orarts of civic life, the nature of a woman differs from that of a man?

That will be quite fair.

And perhaps he, like yourself, will reply that to give a sufficient answer onthe instant is not easy; but after a little reflection there is no difficulty.

Yes, perhaps.

Suppose then that we invite him to accompany us in the argument, and then wemay hope to show him that there is nothing peculiar in the constitution ofwomen which would affect them in the administration of the State.

By all means.

Let us say to him: Come now, and we will ask you a question:—when youspoke of a nature gifted or not gifted in any respect, did you mean to say thatone man will acquire a thing easily, another with difficulty; a little learningwill lead the one to discover a great deal; whereas the other, after much studyand application, no sooner learns than he forgets; or again, did you mean, thatthe one has a body which is a good servant to his mind, while the body of theother is a hindrance to him?—would not these be the sort of differenceswhich distinguish the man gifted by nature from the one who is ungifted?

No one will deny that.

And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex has not allthese gifts and qualities in a higher degree than the female? Need I waste timein speaking of the art of weaving, and the management of pancakes andpreserves, in which womankind does really appear to be great, and in which forher to be beaten by a man is of all things the most absurd?

You are quite right, he replied, in maintaining the general inferiority of thefemale sex: although many women are in many things superior to many men, yet onthe whole what you say is true.

And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of administration ina state which a woman has because she is a woman, or which a man has by virtueof his sex, but the gifts of nature are alike diffused in both; all thepursuits of men are the pursuits of women also, but in all of them a woman isinferior to a man.

Very true.

Then are we to impose all our enactments on men and none of them on women?

That will never do.

One woman has a gift of healing, another not; one is a musician, and anotherhas no music in her nature?

Very true.

And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises, and another isunwarlike and hates gymnastics?


And one woman is a philosopher, and another is an enemy of philosophy; one hasspirit, and another is without spirit?

That is also true.

Then one woman will have the temper of a guardian, and another not. Was not theselection of the male guardians determined by differences of this sort?


Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they differonly in their comparative strength or weakness.


And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the companionsand colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they resemble incapacity and in character?

Very true.

And ought not the same natures to have the same pursuits?

They ought.

Then, as we were saying before, there is nothing unnatural in assigning musicand gymnastic to the wives of the guardians—to that point we come roundagain.

Certainly not.

The law which we then enacted was agreeable to nature, and therefore not animpossibility or mere aspiration; and the contrary practice, which prevails atpresent, is in reality a violation of nature.

That appears to be true.

We had to consider, first, whether our proposals were possible, and secondlywhether they were the most beneficial?


And the possibility has been acknowledged?


The very great benefit has next to be established?

Quite so.

You will admit that the same education which makes a man a good guardian willmake a woman a good guardian; for their original nature is the same?


I should like to ask you a question.

What is it?

Would you say that all men are equal in excellence, or is one man better thananother?

The latter.

And in the commonwealth which we were founding do you conceive the guardianswho have been brought up on our model system to be more perfect men, or thecobblers whose education has been cobbling?

What a ridiculous question!

You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not further say that ourguardians are the best of our citizens?

By far the best.

And will not their wives be the best women?

Yes, by far the best.

And can there be anything better for the interests of the State than that themen and women of a State should be as good as possible?

There can be nothing better.

And this is what the arts of music and gymnastic, when present in such manneras we have described, will accomplish?


Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest degreebeneficial to the State?


Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe,and let them share in the toils of war and the defence of their country; onlyin the distribution of labours the lighter are to be assigned to the women, whoare the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same.And as for the man who laughs at naked women exercising their bodies from thebest of motives, in his laughter he is plucking

‘A fruit of unripe wisdom,’

and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he isabout;—for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings, That theuseful is the noble and the hurtful is the base.

Very true.

Here, then, is one difficulty in our law about women, which we may say that wehave now escaped; the wave has not swallowed us up alive for enacting that theguardians of either sex should have all their pursuits in common; to theutility and also to the possibility of this arrangement the consistency of theargument with itself bears witness.

Yes, that was a mighty wave which you have escaped.

Yes, I said, but a greater is coming; you will not think much of this when yousee the next.

Go on; let me see.

The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that has preceded, isto the following effect,—‘that the wives of our guardians are to becommon, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his ownchild, nor any child his parent.’

Yes, he said, that is a much greater wave than the other; and the possibilityas well as the utility of such a law are far more questionable.

I do not think, I said, that there can be any dispute about the very greatutility of having wives and children in common; the possibility is quiteanother matter, and will be very much disputed.

I think that a good many doubts may be raised about both.

You imply that the two questions must be combined, I replied. Now I meant thatyou should admit the utility; and in this way, as I thought, I should escapefrom one of them, and then there would remain only the possibility.

But that little attempt is detected, and therefore you will please to give adefence of both.

Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little favour: let me feastmy mind with the dream as day dreamers are in the habit of feasting themselveswhen they are walking alone; for before they have discovered any means ofeffecting their wishes—that is a matter which never troublesthem—they would rather not tire themselves by thinking aboutpossibilities; but assuming that what they desire is already granted to them,they proceed with their plan, and delight in detailing what they mean to dowhen their wish has come true—that is a way which they have of not doingmuch good to a capacity which was never good for much. Now I myself ambeginning to lose heart, and I should like, with your permission, to pass overthe question of possibility at present. Assuming therefore the possibility ofthe proposal, I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers will carry outthese arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan, if executed, will beof the greatest benefit to the State and to the guardians. First of all, then,if you have no objection, I will endeavour with your help to consider theadvantages of the measure; and hereafter the question of possibility.

I have no objection; proceed.

First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to be worthy of thename which they bear, there must be willingness to obey in the one and thepower of command in the other; the guardians must themselves obey the laws, andthey must also imitate the spirit of them in any details which are entrusted totheir care.

That is right, he said.

You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now selectthe women and give them to them;—they must be as far as possible of likenatures with them; and they must live in common houses and meet at commonmeals. None of them will have anything specially his or her own; they will betogether, and will be brought up together, and will associate at gymnasticexercises. And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to haveintercourse with each other—necessity is not too strong a word, I think?

Yes, he said;—necessity, not geometrical, but another sort of necessitywhich lovers know, and which is far more convincing and constraining to themass of mankind.

True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed after anorderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is an unholy thingwhich the rulers will forbid.

Yes, he said, and it ought not to be permitted.

Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in the highestdegree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred?


And how can marriages be made most beneficial?—that is a question which Iput to you, because I see in your house dogs for hunting, and of the noblersort of birds not a few. Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attendedto their pairing and breeding?

In what particulars?

Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort, are not somebetter than others?


And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed fromthe best only?

From the best.

And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age?

I choose only those of ripe age.

And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would greatlydeteriorate?


And the same of horses and animals in general?


Good heavens! my dear friend, I said, what consummate skill will our rulersneed if the same principle holds of the human species!

Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this involve any particularskill?

Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon the body corporatewith medicines. Now you know that when patients do not require medicines, buthave only to be put under a regimen, the inferior sort of practitioner isdeemed to be good enough; but when medicine has to be given, then the doctorshould be more of a man.

That is quite true, he said; but to what are you alluding?

I mean, I replied, that our rulers will find a considerable dose of falsehoodand deceit necessary for the good of their subjects: we were saying that theuse of all these things regarded as medicines might be of advantage.

And we were very right.

And this lawful use of them seems likely to be often needed in the regulationsof marriages and births.

How so?

Why, I said, the principle has been already laid down that the best of eithersex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with theinferior, as seldom as possible; and that they should rear the offspring of theone sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained infirst-rate condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulersonly know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians maybe termed, breaking out into rebellion.

Very true.

Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together thebrides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymenealsongs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter which must beleft to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the averageof population? There are many other things which they will have to consider,such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order asfar as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large ortoo small.

Certainly, he replied.

We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy maydraw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accusetheir own ill-luck and not the rulers.

To be sure, he said.

And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours andrewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them;their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons aspossible.


And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to beheld by women as well as by men—


The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen orfold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in aseparate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when theychance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, asthey should be.

Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be keptpure.

They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the foldwhen they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no motherrecognises her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more arerequired. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not beprotracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at night or othertrouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses andattendants.

You suppose the wives of our guardians to have a fine easy time of it when theyare having children.

Why, said I, and so they ought. Let us, however, proceed with our scheme. Wewere saying that the parents should be in the prime of life?

Very true.

And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of abouttwenty years in a woman’s life, and thirty in a man’s?

Which years do you mean to include?

A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to theState, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin atfive-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beatsquickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five.

Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are the prime of physicalas well as of intellectual vigour.

Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the publichymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the childof which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been conceivedunder auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymenealpriestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that the new generationmay be better and more useful than their good and useful parents, whereas hischild will be the offspring of darkness and strange lust.

Very true, he replied.

And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age whoforms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the sanction ofthe rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to the State,uncertified and unconsecrated.

Very true, he replied.

This applies, however, only to those who are within the specified age: afterthat we allow them to range at will, except that a man may not marry hisdaughter or his daughter’s daughter, or his mother or his mother’smother; and women, on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their sonsor fathers, or son’s son or father’s father, and so on in eitherdirection. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strictorders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light;and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that theoffspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly.

That also, he said, is a reasonable proposition. But how will they know who arefathers and daughters, and so on?

They will never know. The way will be this:—dating from the day of thehymeneal, the bridegroom who was then married will call all the male childrenwho are born in the seventh and tenth month afterwards his sons, and the femalechildren his daughters, and they will call him father, and he will call theirchildren his grandchildren, and they will call the elder generationgrandfathers and grandmothers. All who were begotten at the time when theirfathers and mothers came together will be called their brothers and sisters,and these, as I was saying, will be forbidden to inter-marry. This, however, isnot to be understood as an absolute prohibition of the marriage of brothers andsisters; if the lot favours them, and they receive the sanction of the Pythianoracle, the law will allow them.

Quite right, he replied.

Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guardians of our State areto have their wives and families in common. And now you would have the argumentshow that this community is consistent with the rest of our polity, and alsothat nothing can be better—would you not?

Yes, certainly.

Shall we try to find a common basis by asking of ourselves what ought to be thechief aim of the legislator in making laws and in the organization of aState,—what is the greatest good, and what is the greatest evil, and thenconsider whether our previous description has the stamp of the good or of theevil?

By all means.

Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality whereunity ought to reign? or any greater good than the bond of unity?

There cannot.

And there is unity where there is community of pleasures and pains—whereall the citizens are glad or grieved on the same occasions of joy and sorrow?

No doubt.

Yes; and where there is no common but only private feeling a State isdisorganized—when you have one half of the world triumphing and the otherplunged in grief at the same events happening to the city or the citizens?


Such differences commonly originate in a disagreement about the use of theterms ‘mine’ and ‘not mine,’ ‘his’ and‘not his.’

Exactly so.

And is not that the best-ordered State in which the greatest number of personsapply the terms ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ in the same wayto the same thing?

Quite true.

Or that again which most nearly approaches to the condition of theindividual—as in the body, when but a finger of one of us is hurt, thewhole frame, drawn towards the soul as a centre and forming one kingdom underthe ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together with thepart affected, and we say that the man has a pain in his finger; and the sameexpression is used about any other part of the body, which has a sensation ofpain at suffering or of pleasure at the alleviation of suffering.

Very true, he replied; and I agree with you that in the best-ordered Statethere is the nearest approach to this common feeling which you describe.

Then when any one of the citizens experiences any good or evil, the whole Statewill make his case their own, and will either rejoice or sorrow with him?

Yes, he said, that is what will happen in a well-ordered State.

It will now be time, I said, for us to return to our State and see whether thisor some other form is most in accordance with these fundamental principles.

Very good.

Our State like every other has rulers and subjects?


All of whom will call one another citizens?

Of course.

But is there not another name which people give to their rulers in otherStates?

Generally they call them masters, but in democratic States they simply callthem rulers.

And in our State what other name besides that of citizens do the people givethe rulers?

They are called saviours and helpers, he replied.

And what do the rulers call the people?

Their maintainers and foster-fathers.

And what do they call them in other States?


And what do the rulers call one another in other States?


And what in ours?


Did you ever know an example in any other State of a ruler who would speak ofone of his colleagues as his friend and of another as not being his friend?

Yes, very often.

And the friend he regards and describes as one in whom he has an interest, andthe other as a stranger in whom he has no interest?


But would any of your guardians think or speak of any other guardian as astranger?

Certainly he would not; for every one whom they meet will be regarded by themeither as a brother or sister, or father or mother, or son or daughter, or asthe child or parent of those who are thus connected with him.

Capital, I said; but let me ask you once more: Shall they be a family in nameonly; or shall they in all their actions be true to the name? For example, inthe use of the word ‘father,’ would the care of a father be impliedand the filial reverence and duty and obedience to him which the law commands;and is the violator of these duties to be regarded as an impious andunrighteous person who is not likely to receive much good either at the handsof God or of man? Are these to be or not to be the strains which the childrenwill hear repeated in their ears by all the citizens about those who areintimated to them to be their parents and the rest of their kinsfolk?

These, he said, and none other; for what can be more ridiculous than for themto utter the names of family ties with the lips only and not to act in thespirit of them?

Then in our city the language of harmony and concord will be more often heardthan in any other. As I was describing before, when any one is well or ill, theuniversal word will be ‘with me it is well’ or ‘it isill.’

Most true.

And agreeably to this mode of thinking and speaking, were we not saying thatthey will have their pleasures and pains in common?

Yes, and so they will.

And they will have a common interest in the same thing which they will alikecall ‘my own,’ and having this common interest they will have acommon feeling of pleasure and pain?

Yes, far more so than in other States.

And the reason of this, over and above the general constitution of the State,will be that the guardians will have a community of women and children?

That will be the chief reason.

And this unity of feeling we admitted to be the greatest good, as was impliedin our own comparison of a well-ordered State to the relation of the body andthe members, when affected by pleasure or pain?

That we acknowledged, and very rightly.

Then the community of wives and children among our citizens is clearly thesource of the greatest good to the State?


And this agrees with the other principle which we were affirming,—thatthe guardians were not to have houses or lands or any other property; their paywas to be their food, which they were to receive from the other citizens, andthey were to have no private expenses; for we intended them to preserve theirtrue character of guardians.

Right, he replied.

Both the community of property and the community of families, as I am saying,tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not tear the city in piecesby differing about ‘mine’ and ‘not mine;’ each mandragging any acquisition which he has made into a separate house of his own,where he has a separate wife and children and private pleasures and pains; butall will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and pains becausethey are all of one opinion about what is near and dear to them, and thereforethey all tend towards a common end.

Certainly, he replied.

And as they have nothing but their persons which they can call their own, suitsand complaints will have no existence among them; they will be delivered fromall those quarrels of which money or children or relations are the occasion.

Of course they will.

Neither will trials for assault or insult ever be likely to occur among them.For that equals should defend themselves against equals we shall maintain to behonourable and right; we shall make the protection of the person a matter ofnecessity.

That is good, he said.

Yes; and there is a further good in the law; viz. that if a man has a quarrelwith another he will satisfy his resentment then and there, and not proceed tomore dangerous lengths.


To the elder shall be assigned the duty of ruling and chastising the younger.


Nor can there be a doubt that the younger will not strike or do any otherviolence to an elder, unless the magistrates command him; nor will he slighthim in any way. For there are two guardians, shame and fear, mighty to preventhim: shame, which makes men refrain from laying hands on those who are to themin the relation of parents; fear, that the injured one will be succoured by theothers who are his brothers, sons, fathers.

That is true, he replied.

Then in every way the laws will help the citizens to keep the peace with oneanother?

Yes, there will be no want of peace.

And as the guardians will never quarrel among themselves there will be nodanger of the rest of the city being divided either against them or against oneanother.

None whatever.

I hardly like even to mention the little meannesses of which they will be rid,for they are beneath notice: such, for example, as the flattery of the rich bythe poor, and all the pains and pangs which men experience in bringing up afamily, and in finding money to buy necessaries for their household, borrowingand then repudiating, getting how they can, and giving the money into the handsof women and slaves to keep—the many evils of so many kinds which peoplesuffer in this way are mean enough and obvious enough, and not worth speakingof.

Yes, he said, a man has no need of eyes in order to perceive that.

And from all these evils they will be delivered, and their life will be blessedas the life of Olympic victors and yet more blessed.

How so?

The Olympic victor, I said, is deemed happy in receiving a part only of theblessedness which is secured to our citizens, who have won a more gloriousvictory and have a more complete maintenance at the public cost. For thevictory which they have won is the salvation of the whole State; and the crownwith which they and their children are crowned is the fulness of all that lifeneeds; they receive rewards from the hands of their country while living, andafter death have an honourable burial.

Yes, he said, and glorious rewards they are.

Do you remember, I said, how in the course of the previous discussion some onewho shall be nameless accused us of making our guardians unhappy—they hadnothing and might have possessed all things—to whom we replied that, ifan occasion offered, we might perhaps hereafter consider this question, butthat, as at present advised, we would make our guardians truly guardians, andthat we were fashioning the State with a view to the greatest happiness, not ofany particular class, but of the whole?

Yes, I remember.

And what do you say, now that the life of our protectors is made out to be farbetter and nobler than that of Olympic victors—is the life of shoemakers,or any other artisans, or of husbandmen, to be compared with it?

Certainly not.

At the same time I ought here to repeat what I have said elsewhere, that if anyof our guardians shall try to be happy in such a manner that he will cease tobe a guardian, and is not content with this safe and harmonious life, which, inour judgment, is of all lives the best, but infatuated by some youthful conceitof happiness which gets up into his head shall seek to appropriate the wholestate to himself, then he will have to learn how wisely Hesiod spoke, when hesaid, ‘half is more than the whole.’

If he were to consult me, I should say to him: Stay where you are, when youhave the offer of such a life.

You agree then, I said, that men and women are to have a common way of lifesuch as we have described—common education, common children; and they areto watch over the citizens in common whether abiding in the city or going outto war; they are to keep watch together, and to hunt together like dogs; andalways and in all things, as far as they are able, women are to share with themen? And in so doing they will do what is best, and will not violate, butpreserve the natural relation of the sexes.

I agree with you, he replied.

The enquiry, I said, has yet to be made, whether such a community be foundpossible—as among other animals, so also among men—and if possible,in what way possible?

You have anticipated the question which I was about to suggest.

There is no difficulty, I said, in seeing how war will be carried on by them.


Why, of course they will go on expeditions together; and will take with themany of their children who are strong enough, that, after the manner of theartisan’s child, they may look on at the work which they will have to dowhen they are grown up; and besides looking on they will have to help and be ofuse in war, and to wait upon their fathers and mothers. Did you never observein the arts how the potters’ boys look on and help, long before theytouch the wheel?

Yes, I have.

And shall potters be more careful in educating their children and in givingthem the opportunity of seeing and practising their duties than our guardianswill be?

The idea is ridiculous, he said.

There is also the effect on the parents, with whom, as with other animals, thepresence of their young ones will be the greatest incentive to valour.

That is quite true, Socrates; and yet if they are defeated, which may oftenhappen in war, how great the danger is! the children will be lost as well astheir parents, and the State will never recover.

True, I said; but would you never allow them to run any risk?

I am far from saying that.

Well, but if they are ever to run a risk should they not do so on some occasionwhen, if they escape disaster, they will be the better for it?


Whether the future soldiers do or do not see war in the days of their youth isa very important matter, for the sake of which some risk may fairly beincurred.

Yes, very important.

This then must be our first step,—to make our children spectators of war;but we must also contrive that they shall be secured against danger; then allwill be well.


Their parents may be supposed not to be blind to the risks of war, but to know,as far as human foresight can, what expeditions are safe and what dangerous?

That may be assumed.

And they will take them on the safe expeditions and be cautious about thedangerous ones?


And they will place them under the command of experienced veterans who will betheir leaders and teachers?

Very properly.

Still, the dangers of war cannot be always foreseen; there is a good deal ofchance about them?


Then against such chances the children must be at once furnished with wings, inorder that in the hour of need they may fly away and escape.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean that we must mount them on horses in their earliest youth, and when theyhave learnt to ride, take them on horseback to see war: the horses must not bespirited and warlike, but the most tractable and yet the swiftest that can behad. In this way they will get an excellent view of what is hereafter to betheir own business; and if there is danger they have only to follow their elderleaders and escape.

I believe that you are right, he said.

Next, as to war; what are to be the relations of your soldiers to one anotherand to their enemies? I should be inclined to propose that the soldier wholeaves his rank or throws away his arms, or is guilty of any other act ofcowardice, should be degraded into the rank of a husbandman or artisan. What doyou think?

By all means, I should say.

And he who allows himself to be taken prisoner may as well be made a present ofto his enemies; he is their lawful prey, and let them do what they like withhim.


But the hero who has distinguished himself, what shall be done to him? In thefirst place, he shall receive honour in the army from his youthful comrades;every one of them in succession shall crown him. What do you say?

I approve.

And what do you say to his receiving the right hand of fellowship?

To that too, I agree.

But you will hardly agree to my next proposal.

What is your proposal?

That he should kiss and be kissed by them.

Most certainly, and I should be disposed to go further, and say: Let no onewhom he has a mind to kiss refuse to be kissed by him while the expeditionlasts. So that if there be a lover in the army, whether his love be youth ormaiden, he may be more eager to win the prize of valour.

Capital, I said. That the brave man is to have more wives than others has beenalready determined: and he is to have first choices in such matters more thanothers, in order that he may have as many children as possible?


Again, there is another manner in which, according to Homer, brave youthsshould be honoured; for he tells how Ajax, after he had distinguished himselfin battle, was rewarded with long chines, which seems to be a complimentappropriate to a hero in the flower of his age, being not only a tribute ofhonour but also a very strengthening thing.

Most true, he said.

Then in this, I said, Homer shall be our teacher; and we too, at sacrifices andon the like occasions, will honour the brave according to the measure of theirvalour, whether men or women, with hymns and those other distinctions which wewere mentioning; also with

‘seats of precedence, and meats and full cups;’

and in honouring them, we shall be at the same time training them.

That, he replied, is excellent.

Yes, I said; and when a man dies gloriously in war shall we not say, in thefirst place, that he is of the golden race?

To be sure.

Nay, have we not the authority of Hesiod for affirming that when they are dead

‘They are holy angels upon the earth, authors of good, averters of evil,the guardians of speech-gifted men’?

Yes; and we accept his authority.

We must learn of the god how we are to order the sepulture of divine and heroicpersonages, and what is to be their special distinction; and we must do as hebids?

By all means.

And in ages to come we will reverence them and kneel before their sepulchres asat the graves of heroes. And not only they but any who are deemed pre-eminentlygood, whether they die from age, or in any other way, shall be admitted to thesame honours.

That is very right, he said.

Next, how shall our soldiers treat their enemies? What about this?

In what respect do you mean?

First of all, in regard to slavery? Do you think it right that Hellenes shouldenslave Hellenic States, or allow others to enslave them, if they can help?Should not their custom be to spare them, considering the danger which there isthat the whole race may one day fall under the yoke of the barbarians?

To spare them is infinitely better.

Then no Hellene should be owned by them as a slave; that is a rule which theywill observe and advise the other Hellenes to observe.

Certainly, he said; they will in this way be united against the barbarians andwill keep their hands off one another.

Next as to the slain; ought the conquerors, I said, to take anything but theirarmour? Does not the practice of despoiling an enemy afford an excuse for notfacing the battle? Cowards skulk about the dead, pretending that they arefulfilling a duty, and many an army before now has been lost from this love ofplunder.

Very true.

And is there not illiberality and avarice in robbing a corpse, and also adegree of meanness and womanishness in making an enemy of the dead body whenthe real enemy has flown away and left only his fighting gear behindhim,—is not this rather like a dog who cannot get at his assailant,quarrelling with the stones which strike him instead?

Very like a dog, he said.

Then we must abstain from spoiling the dead or hindering their burial?

Yes, he replied, we most certainly must.

Neither shall we offer up arms at the temples of the gods, least of all thearms of Hellenes, if we care to maintain good feeling with other Hellenes; and,indeed, we have reason to fear that the offering of spoils taken from kinsmenmay be a pollution unless commanded by the god himself?

Very true.

Again, as to the devastation of Hellenic territory or the burning of houses,what is to be the practice?

May I have the pleasure, he said, of hearing your opinion?

Both should be forbidden, in my judgment; I would take the annual produce andno more. Shall I tell you why?

Pray do.

Why, you see, there is a difference in the names ‘discord’ and‘war,’ and I imagine that there is also a difference in theirnatures; the one is expressive of what is internal and domestic, the other ofwhat is external and foreign; and the first of the two is termed discord, andonly the second, war.

That is a very proper distinction, he replied.

And may I not observe with equal propriety that the Hellenic race is all unitedtogether by ties of blood and friendship, and alien and strange to thebarbarians?

Very good, he said.

And therefore when Hellenes fight with barbarians and barbarians with Hellenes,they will be described by us as being at war when they fight, and by natureenemies, and this kind of antagonism should be called war; but when Hellenesfight with one another we shall say that Hellas is then in a state of disorderand discord, they being by nature friends; and such enmity is to be calleddiscord.

I agree.

Consider then, I said, when that which we have acknowledged to be discordoccurs, and a city is divided, if both parties destroy the lands and burn thehouses of one another, how wicked does the strife appear! No true lover of hiscountry would bring himself to tear in pieces his own nurse and mother: Theremight be reason in the conqueror depriving the conquered of their harvest, butstill they would have the idea of peace in their hearts and would not mean togo on fighting for ever.

Yes, he said, that is a better temper than the other.

And will not the city, which you are founding, be an Hellenic city?

It ought to be, he replied.

Then will not the citizens be good and civilized?

Yes, very civilized.

And will they not be lovers of Hellas, and think of Hellas as their own land,and share in the common temples?

Most certainly.

And any difference which arises among them will be regarded by them as discordonly—a quarrel among friends, which is not to be called a war?

Certainly not.

Then they will quarrel as those who intend some day to be reconciled?


They will use friendly correction, but will not enslave or destroy theiropponents; they will be correctors, not enemies?

Just so.

And as they are Hellenes themselves they will not devastate Hellas, nor willthey burn houses, nor ever suppose that the whole population of acity—men, women, and children—are equally their enemies, for theyknow that the guilt of war is always confined to a few persons and that themany are their friends. And for all these reasons they will be unwilling towaste their lands and rase their houses; their enmity to them will only lastuntil the many innocent sufferers have compelled the guilty few to givesatisfaction?

I agree, he said, that our citizens should thus deal with their Hellenicenemies; and with barbarians as the Hellenes now deal with one another.

Then let us enact this law also for our guardians:—that they are neitherto devastate the lands of Hellenes nor to burn their houses.

Agreed; and we may agree also in thinking that these, like all our previousenactments, are very good.

But still I must say, Socrates, that if you are allowed to go on in this wayyou will entirely forget the other question which at the commencement of thisdiscussion you thrust aside:—Is such an order of things possible, andhow, if at all? For I am quite ready to acknowledge that the plan which youpropose, if only feasible, would do all sorts of good to the State. I will add,what you have omitted, that your citizens will be the bravest of warriors, andwill never leave their ranks, for they will all know one another, and each willcall the other father, brother, son; and if you suppose the women to join theirarmies, whether in the same rank or in the rear, either as a terror to theenemy, or as auxiliaries in case of need, I know that they will then beabsolutely invincible; and there are many domestic advantages which might alsobe mentioned and which I also fully acknowledge: but, as I admit all theseadvantages and as many more as you please, if only this State of yours were tocome into existence, we need say no more about them; assuming then theexistence of the State, let us now turn to the question of possibility and waysand means—the rest may be left.

If I loiter for a moment, you instantly make a raid upon me, I said, and haveno mercy; I have hardly escaped the first and second waves, and you seem not tobe aware that you are now bringing upon me the third, which is the greatest andheaviest. When you have seen and heard the third wave, I think you will be moreconsiderate and will acknowledge that some fear and hesitation was naturalrespecting a proposal so extraordinary as that which I have now to state andinvestigate.

The more appeals of this sort which you make, he said, the more determined arewe that you shall tell us how such a State is possible: speak out and at once.

Let me begin by reminding you that we found our way hither in the search afterjustice and injustice.

True, he replied; but what of that?

I was only going to ask whether, if we have discovered them, we are to requirethat the just man should in nothing fail of absolute justice; or may we besatisfied with an approximation, and the attainment in him of a higher degreeof justice than is to be found in other men?

The approximation will be enough.

We were enquiring into the nature of absolute justice and into the character ofthe perfectly just, and into injustice and the perfectly unjust, that we mighthave an ideal. We were to look at these in order that we might judge of our ownhappiness and unhappiness according to the standard which they exhibited andthe degree in which we resembled them, but not with any view of showing thatthey could exist in fact.

True, he said.

Would a painter be any the worse because, after having delineated withconsummate art an ideal of a perfectly beautiful man, he was unable to showthat any such man could ever have existed?

He would be none the worse.

Well, and were we not creating an ideal of a perfect State?

To be sure.

And is our theory a worse theory because we are unable to prove the possibilityof a city being ordered in the manner described?

Surely not, he replied.

That is the truth, I said. But if, at your request, I am to try and show howand under what conditions the possibility is highest, I must ask you, havingthis in view, to repeat your former admissions.

What admissions?

I want to know whether ideals are ever fully realized in language? Does not theword express more than the fact, and must not the actual, whatever a man maythink, always, in the nature of things, fall short of the truth? What do yousay?

I agree.

Then you must not insist on my proving that the actual State will in everyrespect coincide with the ideal: if we are only able to discover how a city maybe governed nearly as we proposed, you will admit that we have discovered thepossibility which you demand; and will be contented. I am sure that I should becontented—will not you?

Yes, I will.

Let me next endeavour to show what is that fault in States which is the causeof their present maladministration, and what is the least change which willenable a State to pass into the truer form; and let the change, if possible, beof one thing only, or, if not, of two; at any rate, let the changes be as fewand slight as possible.

Certainly, he replied.

I think, I said, that there might be a reform of the State if only one changewere made, which is not a slight or easy though still a possible one.

What is it? he said.

Now then, I said, I go to meet that which I liken to the greatest of the waves;yet shall the word be spoken, even though the wave break and drown me inlaughter and dishonour; and do you mark my words.


I said: ‘Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of thisworld have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness andwisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to theexclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never haverest from their evils,—nor the human race, as I believe,—and thenonly will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light ofday.’ Such was the thought, my dear Glaucon, which I would fain haveuttered if it had not seemed too extravagant; for to be convinced that in noother State can there be happiness private or public is indeed a hard thing.

Socrates, what do you mean? I would have you consider that the word which youhave uttered is one at which numerous persons, and very respectable personstoo, in a figure pulling off their coats all in a moment, and seizing anyweapon that comes to hand, will run at you might and main, before you knowwhere you are, intending to do heaven knows what; and if you don’tprepare an answer, and put yourself in motion, you will be ‘pared bytheir fine wits,’ and no mistake.

You got me into the scrape, I said.

And I was quite right; however, I will do all I can to get you out of it; but Ican only give you good-will and good advice, and, perhaps, I may be able to fitanswers to your questions better than another—that is all. And now,having such an auxiliary, you must do your best to show the unbelievers thatyou are right.

I ought to try, I said, since you offer me such invaluable assistance. And Ithink that, if there is to be a chance of our escaping, we must explain to themwhom we mean when we say that philosophers are to rule in the State; then weshall be able to defend ourselves: There will be discovered to be some natureswho ought to study philosophy and to be leaders in the State; and others whoare not born to be philosophers, and are meant to be followers rather thanleaders.

Then now for a definition, he said.

Follow me, I said, and I hope that I may in some way or other be able to giveyou a satisfactory explanation.


I dare say that you remember, and therefore I need not remind you, that alover, if he is worthy of the name, ought to show his love, not to some onepart of that which he loves, but to the whole.

I really do not understand, and therefore beg of you to assist my memory.

Another person, I said, might fairly reply as you do; but a man of pleasurelike yourself ought to know that all who are in the flower of youth do somehowor other raise a pang or emotion in a lover’s breast, and are thought byhim to be worthy of his affectionate regards. Is not this a way which you havewith the fair: one has a snub nose, and you praise his charming face; thehook-nose of another has, you say, a royal look; while he who is neither snubnor hooked has the grace of regularity: the dark visage is manly, the fair arechildren of the gods; and as to the sweet ‘honey pale,’ as they arecalled, what is the very name but the invention of a lover who talks indiminutives, and is not averse to paleness if appearing on the cheek of youth?In a word, there is no excuse which you will not make, and nothing which youwill not say, in order not to lose a single flower that blooms in thespring-time of youth.

If you make me an authority in matters of love, for the sake of the argument, Iassent.

And what do you say of lovers of wine? Do you not see them doing the same? Theyare glad of any pretext of drinking any wine.

Very good.

And the same is true of ambitious men; if they cannot command an army, they arewilling to command a file; and if they cannot be honoured by really great andimportant persons, they are glad to be honoured by lesser and meanerpeople,—but honour of some kind they must have.


Once more let me ask: Does he who desires any class of goods, desire the wholeclass or a part only?

The whole.

And may we not say of the philosopher that he is a lover, not of a part ofwisdom only, but of the whole?

Yes, of the whole.

And he who dislikes learning, especially in youth, when he has no power ofjudging what is good and what is not, such an one we maintain not to be aphilosopher or a lover of knowledge, just as he who refuses his food is nothungry, and may be said to have a bad appetite and not a good one?

Very true, he said.

Whereas he who has a taste for every sort of knowledge and who is curious tolearn and is never satisfied, may be justly termed a philosopher? Am I notright?

Glaucon said: If curiosity makes a philosopher, you will find many a strangebeing will have a title to the name. All the lovers of sights have a delight inlearning, and must therefore be included. Musical amateurs, too, are a folkstrangely out of place among philosophers, for they are the last persons in theworld who would come to anything like a philosophical discussion, if they couldhelp, while they run about at the Dionysiac festivals as if they had let outtheir ears to hear every chorus; whether the performance is in town orcountry—that makes no difference—they are there. Now are we tomaintain that all these and any who have similar tastes, as well as theprofessors of quite minor arts, are philosophers?

Certainly not, I replied; they are only an imitation.

He said: Who then are the true philosophers?

Those, I said, who are lovers of the vision of truth.

That is also good, he said; but I should like to know what you mean?

To another, I replied, I might have a difficulty in explaining; but I am surethat you will admit a proposition which I am about to make.

What is the proposition?

That since beauty is the opposite of ugliness, they are two?


And inasmuch as they are two, each of them is one?

True again.

And of just and unjust, good and evil, and of every other class, the sameremark holds: taken singly, each of them is one; but from the variouscombinations of them with actions and things and with one another, they areseen in all sorts of lights and appear many?

Very true.

And this is the distinction which I draw between the sight-loving, art-loving,practical class and those of whom I am speaking, and who are alone worthy ofthe name of philosophers.

How do you distinguish them? he said.

The lovers of sounds and sights, I replied, are, as I conceive, fond of finetones and colours and forms and all the artificial products that are made outof them, but their mind is incapable of seeing or loving absolute beauty.

True, he replied.

Few are they who are able to attain to the sight of this.

Very true.

And he who, having a sense of beautiful things has no sense of absolute beauty,or who, if another lead him to a knowledge of that beauty is unable tofollow—of such an one I ask, Is he awake or in a dream only? Reflect: isnot the dreamer, sleeping or waking, one who likens dissimilar things, who putsthe copy in the place of the real object?

I should certainly say that such an one was dreaming.

But take the case of the other, who recognises the existence of absolute beautyand is able to distinguish the idea from the objects which participate in theidea, neither putting the objects in the place of the idea nor the idea in theplace of the objects—is he a dreamer, or is he awake?

He is wide awake.

And may we not say that the mind of the one who knows has knowledge, and thatthe mind of the other, who opines only, has opinion?


But suppose that the latter should quarrel with us and dispute our statement,can we administer any soothing cordial or advice to him, without revealing tohim that there is sad disorder in his wits?

We must certainly offer him some good advice, he replied.

Come, then, and let us think of something to say to him. Shall we begin byassuring him that he is welcome to any knowledge which he may have, and that weare rejoiced at his having it? But we should like to ask him a question: Doeshe who has knowledge know something or nothing? (You must answer for him.)

I answer that he knows something.

Something that is or is not?

Something that is; for how can that which is not ever be known?

And are we assured, after looking at the matter from many points of view, thatabsolute being is or may be absolutely known, but that the utterly non-existentis utterly unknown?

Nothing can be more certain.

Good. But if there be anything which is of such a nature as to be and not tobe, that will have a place intermediate between pure being and the absolutenegation of being?

Yes, between them.

And, as knowledge corresponded to being and ignorance of necessity tonot-being, for that intermediate between being and not-being there has to bediscovered a corresponding intermediate between ignorance and knowledge, ifthere be such?


Do we admit the existence of opinion?


As being the same with knowledge, or another faculty?

Another faculty.

Then opinion and knowledge have to do with different kinds of mattercorresponding to this difference of faculties?


And knowledge is relative to being and knows being. But before I proceedfurther I will make a division.

What division?

I will begin by placing faculties in a class by themselves: they are powers inus, and in all other things, by which we do as we do. Sight and hearing, forexample, I should call faculties. Have I clearly explained the class which Imean?

Yes, I quite understand.

Then let me tell you my view about them. I do not see them, and therefore thedistinctions of figure, colour, and the like, which enable me to discern thedifferences of some things, do not apply to them. In speaking of a faculty Ithink only of its sphere and its result; and that which has the same sphere andthe same result I call the same faculty, but that which has another sphere andanother result I call different. Would that be your way of speaking?


And will you be so very good as to answer one more question? Would you say thatknowledge is a faculty, or in what class would you place it?

Certainly knowledge is a faculty, and the mightiest of all faculties.

And is opinion also a faculty?

Certainly, he said; for opinion is that with which we are able to form anopinion.

And yet you were acknowledging a little while ago that knowledge is not thesame as opinion?

Why, yes, he said: how can any reasonable being ever identify that which isinfallible with that which errs?

An excellent answer, proving, I said, that we are quite conscious of adistinction between them.


Then knowledge and opinion having distinct powers have also distinct spheres orsubject-matters?

That is certain.

Being is the sphere or subject-matter of knowledge, and knowledge is to knowthe nature of being?


And opinion is to have an opinion?


And do we know what we opine? or is the subject-matter of opinion the same asthe subject-matter of knowledge?

Nay, he replied, that has been already disproven; if difference in facultyimplies difference in the sphere or subject-matter, and if, as we were saying,opinion and knowledge are distinct faculties, then the sphere of knowledge andof opinion cannot be the same.

Then if being is the subject-matter of knowledge, something else must be thesubject-matter of opinion?

Yes, something else.

Well then, is not-being the subject-matter of opinion? or, rather, how canthere be an opinion at all about not-being? Reflect: when a man has an opinion,has he not an opinion about something? Can he have an opinion which is anopinion about nothing?


He who has an opinion has an opinion about some one thing?


And not-being is not one thing but, properly speaking, nothing?


Of not-being, ignorance was assumed to be the necessary correlative; of being,knowledge?

True, he said.

Then opinion is not concerned either with being or with not-being?

Not with either.

And can therefore neither be ignorance nor knowledge?

That seems to be true.

But is opinion to be sought without and beyond either of them, in a greaterclearness than knowledge, or in a greater darkness than ignorance?

In neither.

Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be darker than knowledge, butlighter than ignorance?

Both; and in no small degree.

And also to be within and between them?


Then you would infer that opinion is intermediate?

No question.

But were we not saying before, that if anything appeared to be of a sort whichis and is not at the same time, that sort of thing would appear also to lie inthe interval between pure being and absolute not-being; and that thecorresponding faculty is neither knowledge nor ignorance, but will be found inthe interval between them?


And in that interval there has now been discovered something which we callopinion?

There has.

Then what remains to be discovered is the object which partakes equally of thenature of being and not-being, and cannot rightly be termed either, pure andsimple; this unknown term, when discovered, we may truly call the subject ofopinion, and assign each to their proper faculty,—the extremes to thefaculties of the extremes and the mean to the faculty of the mean.


This being premised, I would ask the gentleman who is of opinion that there isno absolute or unchangeable idea of beauty—in whose opinion the beautifulis the manifold—he, I say, your lover of beautiful sights, who cannotbear to be told that the beautiful is one, and the just is one, or thatanything is one—to him I would appeal, saying, Will you be so very kind,sir, as to tell us whether, of all these beautiful things, there is one whichwill not be found ugly; or of the just, which will not be found unjust; or ofthe holy, which will not also be unholy?

No, he replied; the beautiful will in some point of view be found ugly; and thesame is true of the rest.

And may not the many which are doubles be also halves?—doubles, that is,of one thing, and halves of another?

Quite true.

And things great and small, heavy and light, as they are termed, will not bedenoted by these any more than by the opposite names?

True; both these and the opposite names will always attach to all of them.

And can any one of those many things which are called by particular names besaid to be this rather than not to be this?

He replied: They are like the punning riddles which are asked at feasts or thechildren’s puzzle about the eunuch aiming at the bat, with what he hithim, as they say in the puzzle, and upon what the bat was sitting. Theindividual objects of which I am speaking are also a riddle, and have a doublesense: nor can you fix them in your mind, either as being or not-being, orboth, or neither.

Then what will you do with them? I said. Can they have a better place thanbetween being and not-being? For they are clearly not in greater darkness ornegation than not-being, or more full of light and existence than being.

That is quite true, he said.

Thus then we seem to have discovered that the many ideas which the multitudeentertain about the beautiful and about all other things are tossing about insome region which is half-way between pure being and pure not-being?

We have.

Yes; and we had before agreed that anything of this kind which we might findwas to be described as matter of opinion, and not as matter of knowledge; beingthe intermediate flux which is caught and detained by the intermediate faculty.

Quite true.

Then those who see the many beautiful, and who yet neither see absolute beauty,nor can follow any guide who points the way thither; who see the many just, andnot absolute justice, and the like,—such persons may be said to haveopinion but not knowledge?

That is certain.

But those who see the absolute and eternal and immutable may be said to know,and not to have opinion only?

Neither can that be denied.

The one love and embrace the subjects of knowledge, the other those of opinion?The latter are the same, as I dare say you will remember, who listened to sweetsounds and gazed upon fair colours, but would not tolerate the existence ofabsolute beauty.

Yes, I remember.

Shall we then be guilty of any impropriety in calling them lovers of opinionrather than lovers of wisdom, and will they be very angry with us for thusdescribing them?

I shall tell them not to be angry; no man should be angry at what is true.

But those who love the truth in each thing are to be called lovers of wisdomand not lovers of opinion.



And thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary way, the true and thefalse philosophers have at length appeared in view.

I do not think, he said, that the way could have been shortened.

I suppose not, I said; and yet I believe that we might have had a better viewof both of them if the discussion could have been confined to this one subjectand if there were not many other questions awaiting us, which he who desires tosee in what respect the life of the just differs from that of the unjust mustconsider.

And what is the next question? he asked.

Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inasmuch as philosophersonly are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander inthe region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you whichof the two classes should be the rulers of our State?

And how can we rightly answer that question?

Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of ourState—let them be our guardians.

Very good.

Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keepanything should have eyes rather than no eyes?

There can be no question of that.

And are not those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of thetrue being of each thing, and who have in their souls no clear pattern, and areunable as with a painter’s eye to look at the absolute truth and to thatoriginal to repair, and having perfect vision of the other world to order thelaws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not already ordered, and toguard and preserve the order of them—are not such persons, I ask, simplyblind?

Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.

And shall they be our guardians when there are others who, besides being theirequals in experience and falling short of them in no particular of virtue, alsoknow the very truth of each thing?

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this greatest ofall great qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail insome other respect.

Suppose then, I said, that we determine how far they can unite this and theother excellences.

By all means.

In the first place, as we began by observing, the nature of the philosopher hasto be ascertained. We must come to an understanding about him, and, when wehave done so, then, if I am not mistaken, we shall also acknowledge that suchan union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are united, andthose only, should be rulers in the State.

What do you mean?

Let us suppose that philosophical minds always love knowledge of a sort whichshows them the eternal nature not varying from generation and corruption.


And further, I said, let us agree that they are lovers of all true being; thereis no part whether greater or less, or more or less honourable, which they arewilling to renounce; as we said before of the lover and the man of ambition.


And if they are to be what we were describing, is there not another qualitywhich they should also possess?

What quality?

Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their mind falsehood,which is their detestation, and they will love the truth.

Yes, that may be safely affirmed of them.

‘May be,’ my friend, I replied, is not the word; say rather‘must be affirmed:’ for he whose nature is amorous of anythingcannot help loving all that belongs or is akin to the object of his affections.

Right, he said.

And is there anything more akin to wisdom than truth?

How can there be?

Can the same nature be a lover of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?


The true lover of learning then must from his earliest youth, as far as in himlies, desire all truth?


But then again, as we know by experience, he whose desires are strong in onedirection will have them weaker in others; they will be like a stream which hasbeen drawn off into another channel.


He whose desires are drawn towards knowledge in every form will be absorbed inthe pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure—I mean,if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one.

That is most certain.

Such an one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covetous; for themotives which make another man desirous of having and spending, have no placein his character.

Very true.

Another criterion of the philosophical nature has also to be considered.

What is that?

There should be no secret corner of illiberality; nothing can be moreantagonistic than meanness to a soul which is ever longing after the whole ofthings both divine and human.

Most true, he replied.

Then how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all timeand all existence, think much of human life?

He cannot.

Or can such an one account death fearful?

No indeed.

Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true philosophy?

Certainly not.

Or again: can he who is harmoniously constituted, who is not covetous or mean,or a boaster, or a coward—can he, I say, ever be unjust or hard in hisdealings?


Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle, or rude andunsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even in youth thephilosophical nature from the unphilosophical.


There is another point which should be remarked.

What point?

Whether he has or has not a pleasure in learning; for no one will love thatwhich gives him pain, and in which after much toil he makes little progress.

Certainly not.

And again, if he is forgetful and retains nothing of what he learns, will henot be an empty vessel?

That is certain.

Labouring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation?Yes.

Then a soul which forgets cannot be ranked among genuine philosophic natures;we must insist that the philosopher should have a good memory?


And once more, the inharmonious and unseemly nature can only tend todisproportion?


And do you consider truth to be akin to proportion or to disproportion?

To proportion.

Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturallywell-proportioned and gracious mind, which will move spontaneously towards thetrue being of everything.


Well, and do not all these qualities, which we have been enumerating, gotogether, and are they not, in a manner, necessary to a soul, which is to havea full and perfect participation of being?

They are absolutely necessary, he replied.

And must not that be a blameless study which he only can pursue who has thegift of a good memory, and is quick to learn,—noble, gracious, the friendof truth, justice, courage, temperance, who are his kindred?

The god of jealousy himself, he said, could find no fault with such a study.

And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and tothese only you will entrust the State.

Here Adeimantus interposed and said: To these statements, Socrates, no one canoffer a reply; but when you talk in this way, a strange feeling passes over theminds of your hearers: They fancy that they are led astray a little at eachstep in the argument, owing to their own want of skill in asking and answeringquestions; these littles accumulate, and at the end of the discussion they arefound to have sustained a mighty overthrow and all their former notions appearto be turned upside down. And as unskilful players of draughts are at last shutup by their more skilful adversaries and have no piece to move, so they toofind themselves shut up at last; for they have nothing to say in this new gameof which words are the counters; and yet all the time they are in the right.The observation is suggested to me by what is now occurring. For any one of usmight say, that although in words he is not able to meet you at each step ofthe argument, he sees as a fact that the votaries of philosophy, when theycarry on the study, not only in youth as a part of education, but as thepursuit of their maturer years, most of them become strange monsters, not tosay utter rogues, and that those who may be considered the best of them aremade useless to the world by the very study which you extol.

Well, and do you think that those who say so are wrong?

I cannot tell, he replied; but I should like to know what is your opinion.

Hear my answer; I am of opinion that they are quite right.

Then how can you be justified in saying that cities will not cease from eviluntil philosophers rule in them, when philosophers are acknowledged by us to beof no use to them?

You ask a question, I said, to which a reply can only be given in a parable.

Yes, Socrates; and that is a way of speaking to which you are not at allaccustomed, I suppose.

I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such ahopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still moreamused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the bestmen are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing onearth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I musthave recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things,like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller andstronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similarinfirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. Thesailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering—every one isof opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art ofnavigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will furtherassert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any onewho says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying himto commit the helm to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but othersare preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard, and havingfirst chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcoticdrug, they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with thestores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such manneras might be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids themin their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into theirown whether by force or persuasion, they compliment with the name of sailor,pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call agood-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year andseasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, ifhe intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he mustand will be the steerer, whether other people like or not—the possibilityof this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriouslyentered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vesselswhich are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will thetrue pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, agood-for-nothing?

Of course, said Adeimantus.

Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure,which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State; for youunderstand already.


Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised atfinding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him andtry to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

I will.

Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless tothe rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute theiruselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves.The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him—thatis not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors ofthe rich’—the ingenious author of this saying told a lie—butthe truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to thephysician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able togovern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to beruled by him; although the present governors of mankind are of a differentstamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the truehelmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

Precisely so, he said.

For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit ofall, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; notthat the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, butby her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser tosay, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best areuseless; in which opinion I agreed.


And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?


Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is alsounavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy anymore than the other?

(Video) Why Read Plato's "Republic"? | Robin Waterfield

By all means.

And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of thegentle and noble nature. Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom hefollowed always and in all things; failing in this, he was an impostor, and hadno part or lot in true philosophy.

Yes, that was said.

Well, and is not this one quality, to mention no others, greatly at variancewith present notions of him?

Certainly, he said.

And have we not a right to say in his defence, that the true lover of knowledgeis always striving after being—that is his nature; he will not rest inthe multiplicity of individuals which is an appearance only, but will goon—the keen edge will not be blunted, nor the force of his desire abateuntil he have attained the knowledge of the true nature of every essence by asympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power drawing near andmingling and becoming incorporate with very being, having begotten mind andtruth, he will have knowledge and will live and grow truly, and then, and nottill then, will he cease from his travail.

Nothing, he said, can be more just than such a description of him.

And will the love of a lie be any part of a philosopher’s nature? Will henot utterly hate a lie?

He will.

And when truth is the captain, we cannot suspect any evil of the band which heleads?


Justice and health of mind will be of the company, and temperance will followafter?

True, he replied.

Neither is there any reason why I should again set in array thephilosopher’s virtues, as you will doubtless remember that courage,magnificence, apprehension, memory, were his natural gifts. And you objectedthat, although no one could deny what I then said, still, if you leave wordsand look at facts, the persons who are thus described are some of themmanifestly useless, and the greater number utterly depraved; we were then ledto enquire into the grounds of these accusations, and have now arrived at thepoint of asking why are the majority bad, which question of necessity broughtus back to the examination and definition of the true philosopher.


And we have next to consider the corruptions of the philosophic nature, why somany are spoiled and so few escape spoiling—I am speaking of those whowere said to be useless but not wicked—and, when we have done with them,we will speak of the imitators of philosophy, what manner of men are they whoaspire after a profession which is above them and of which they are unworthy,and then, by their manifold inconsistencies, bring upon philosophy, and uponall philosophers, that universal reprobation of which we speak.

What are these corruptions? he said.

I will see if I can explain them to you. Every one will admit that a naturehaving in perfection all the qualities which we required in a philosopher, is arare plant which is seldom seen among men.

Rare indeed.

And what numberless and powerful causes tend to destroy these rare natures!

What causes?

In the first place there are their own virtues, their courage, temperance, andthe rest of them, every one of which praiseworthy qualities (and this is a mostsingular circumstance) destroys and distracts from philosophy the soul which isthe possessor of them.

That is very singular, he replied.

Then there are all the ordinary goods of life—beauty, wealth, strength,rank, and great connections in the State—you understand the sort ofthings—these also have a corrupting and distracting effect.

I understand; but I should like to know more precisely what you mean aboutthem.

Grasp the truth as a whole, I said, and in the right way; you will then have nodifficulty in apprehending the preceding remarks, and they will no longerappear strange to you.

And how am I to do so? he asked.

Why, I said, we know that all germs or seeds, whether vegetable or animal, whenthey fail to meet with proper nutriment or climate or soil, in proportion totheir vigour, are all the more sensitive to the want of a suitable environment,for evil is a greater enemy to what is good than to what is not.

Very true.

There is reason in supposing that the finest natures, when under alienconditions, receive more injury than the inferior, because the contrast isgreater.


And may we not say, Adeimantus, that the most gifted minds, when they areill-educated, become pre-eminently bad? Do not great crimes and the spirit ofpure evil spring out of a fulness of nature ruined by education rather thanfrom any inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any verygreat good or very great evil?

There I think that you are right.

And our philosopher follows the same analogy—he is like a plant which,having proper nurture, must necessarily grow and mature into all virtue, but,if sown and planted in an alien soil, becomes the most noxious of all weeds,unless he be preserved by some divine power. Do you really think, as people sooften say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that private teachersof the art corrupt them in any degree worth speaking of? Are not the public whosay these things the greatest of all Sophists? And do they not educate toperfection young and old, men and women alike, and fashion them after their ownhearts?

When is this accomplished? he said.

When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a courtof law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is agreat uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, andblame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping theirhands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembledredoubles the sound of the praise or blame—at such a time will not ayoung man’s heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any privatetraining enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popularopinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notionsof good and evil which the public in general have—he will do as they do,and as they are, such will he be?

Yes, Socrates; necessity will compel him.

And yet, I said, there is a still greater necessity, which has not beenmentioned.

What is that?

The gentle force of attainder or confiscation or death, which, as you areaware, these new Sophists and educators, who are the public, apply when theirwords are powerless.

Indeed they do; and in right good earnest.

Now what opinion of any other Sophist, or of any private person, can beexpected to overcome in such an unequal contest?

None, he replied.

No, indeed, I said, even to make the attempt is a great piece of folly; thereneither is, nor has been, nor is ever likely to be, any different type ofcharacter which has had no other training in virtue but that which is suppliedby public opinion—I speak, my friend, of human virtue only; what is morethan human, as the proverb says, is not included: for I would not have youignorant that, in the present evil state of governments, whatever is saved andcomes to good is saved by the power of God, as we may truly say.

I quite assent, he replied.

Then let me crave your assent also to a further observation.

What are you going to say?

Why, that all those mercenary individuals, whom the many call Sophists and whomthey deem to be their adversaries, do, in fact, teach nothing but the opinionof the many, that is to say, the opinions of their assemblies; and this istheir wisdom. I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers anddesires of a mighty strong beast who is fed by him—he would learn how toapproach and handle him, also at what times and from what causes he isdangerous or the reverse, and what is the meaning of his several cries, and bywhat sounds, when another utters them, he is soothed or infuriated; and you maysuppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him, he has becomeperfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wisdom, and makes of it a system orart, which he proceeds to teach, although he has no real notion of what hemeans by the principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls thishonourable and that dishonourable, or good or evil, or just or unjust, all inaccordance with the tastes and tempers of the great brute. Good he pronouncesto be that in which the beast delights and evil to be that which he dislikes;and he can give no other account of them except that the just and noble are thenecessary, having never himself seen, and having no power of explaining toothers the nature of either, or the difference between them, which is immense.By heaven, would not such an one be a rare educator?

Indeed he would.

And in what way does he who thinks that wisdom is the discernment of thetempers and tastes of the motley multitude, whether in painting or music, or,finally, in politics, differ from him whom I have been describing? For when aman consorts with the many, and exhibits to them his poem or other work of artor the service which he has done the State, making them his judges when he isnot obliged, the so-called necessity of Diomede will oblige him to producewhatever they praise. And yet the reasons are utterly ludicrous which they givein confirmation of their own notions about the honourable and good. Did youever hear any of them which were not?

No, nor am I likely to hear.

You recognise the truth of what I have been saying? Then let me ask you toconsider further whether the world will ever be induced to believe in theexistence of absolute beauty rather than of the many beautiful, or of theabsolute in each kind rather than of the many in each kind?

Certainly not.

Then the world cannot possibly be a philosopher?


And therefore philosophers must inevitably fall under the censure of the world?

They must.

And of individuals who consort with the mob and seek to please them?

That is evident.

Then, do you see any way in which the philosopher can be preserved in hiscalling to the end? and remember what we were saying of him, that he was tohave quickness and memory and courage and magnificence—these wereadmitted by us to be the true philosopher’s gifts.


Will not such an one from his early childhood be in all things first among all,especially if his bodily endowments are like his mental ones?

Certainly, he said.

And his friends and fellow-citizens will want to use him as he gets older fortheir own purposes?

No question.

Falling at his feet, they will make requests to him and do him honour andflatter him, because they want to get into their hands now, the power which hewill one day possess.

That often happens, he said.

And what will a man such as he is be likely to do under such circumstances,especially if he be a citizen of a great city, rich and noble, and a tallproper youth? Will he not be full of boundless aspirations, and fancy himselfable to manage the affairs of Hellenes and of barbarians, and having got suchnotions into his head will he not dilate and elevate himself in the fulness ofvain pomp and senseless pride?

To be sure he will.

Now, when he is in this state of mind, if some one gently comes to him andtells him that he is a fool and must get understanding, which can only be gotby slaving for it, do you think that, under such adverse circumstances, he willbe easily induced to listen?

Far otherwise.

And even if there be some one who through inherent goodness or naturalreasonableness has had his eyes opened a little and is humbled and takencaptive by philosophy, how will his friends behave when they think that theyare likely to lose the advantage which they were hoping to reap from hiscompanionship? Will they not do and say anything to prevent him from yieldingto his better nature and to render his teacher powerless, using to this endprivate intrigues as well as public prosecutions?

There can be no doubt of it.

And how can one who is thus circumstanced ever become a philosopher?


Then were we not right in saying that even the very qualities which make a mana philosopher may, if he be ill-educated, divert him from philosophy, no lessthan riches and their accompaniments and the other so-called goods of life?

We were quite right.

Thus, my excellent friend, is brought about all that ruin and failure which Ihave been describing of the natures best adapted to the best of all pursuits;they are natures which we maintain to be rare at any time; this being the classout of which come the men who are the authors of the greatest evil to Statesand individuals; and also of the greatest good when the tide carries them inthat direction; but a small man never was the doer of any great thing either toindividuals or to States.

That is most true, he said.

And so philosophy is left desolate, with her marriage rite incomplete: for herown have fallen away and forsaken her, and while they are leading a false andunbecoming life, other unworthy persons, seeing that she has no kinsmen to beher protectors, enter in and dishonour her; and fasten upon her the reproacheswhich, as you say, her reprovers utter, who affirm of her votaries that someare good for nothing, and that the greater number deserve the severestpunishment.

That is certainly what people say.

Yes; and what else would you expect, I said, when you think of the punycreatures who, seeing this land open to them—a land well stocked withfair names and showy titles—like prisoners running out of prison into asanctuary, take a leap out of their trades into philosophy; those who do sobeing probably the cleverest hands at their own miserable crafts? For, althoughphilosophy be in this evil case, still there remains a dignity about her whichis not to be found in the arts. And many are thus attracted by her whosenatures are imperfect and whose souls are maimed and disfigured by theirmeannesses, as their bodies are by their trades and crafts. Is not thisunavoidable?


Are they not exactly like a bald little tinker who has just got out of duranceand come into a fortune; he takes a bath and puts on a new coat, and is deckedout as a bridegroom going to marry his master’s daughter, who is leftpoor and desolate?

A most exact parallel.

What will be the issue of such marriages? Will they not be vile and bastard?

There can be no question of it.

And when persons who are unworthy of education approach philosophy and make analliance with her who is in a rank above them what sort of ideas and opinionsare likely to be generated? Will they not be sophisms captivating to the ear,having nothing in them genuine, or worthy of or akin to true wisdom?

No doubt, he said.

Then, Adeimantus, I said, the worthy disciples of philosophy will be but asmall remnant: perchance some noble and well-educated person, detained by exilein her service, who in the absence of corrupting influences remains devoted toher; or some lofty soul born in a mean city, the politics of which he contemnsand neglects; and there may be a gifted few who leave the arts, which theyjustly despise, and come to her;—or peradventure there are some who arerestrained by our friend Theages’ bridle; for everything in the life ofTheages conspired to divert him from philosophy; but ill-health kept him awayfrom politics. My own case of the internal sign is hardly worth mentioning, forrarely, if ever, has such a monitor been given to any other man. Those whobelong to this small class have tasted how sweet and blessed a possessionphilosophy is, and have also seen enough of the madness of the multitude; andthey know that no politician is honest, nor is there any champion of justice atwhose side they may fight and be saved. Such an one may be compared to a manwho has fallen among wild beasts—he will not join in the wickedness ofhis fellows, but neither is he able singly to resist all their fierce natures,and therefore seeing that he would be of no use to the State or to his friends,and reflecting that he would have to throw away his life without doing any goodeither to himself or others, he holds his peace, and goes his own way. He islike one who, in the storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurriesalong, retires under the shelter of a wall; and seeing the rest of mankind fullof wickedness, he is content, if only he can live his own life and be pure fromevil or unrighteousness, and depart in peace and good-will, with bright hopes.

Yes, he said, and he will have done a great work before he departs.

A great work—yes; but not the greatest, unless he find a State suitableto him; for in a State which is suitable to him, he will have a larger growthand be the saviour of his country, as well as of himself.

The causes why philosophy is in such an evil name have now been sufficientlyexplained: the injustice of the charges against her has been shown—isthere anything more which you wish to say?

Nothing more on that subject, he replied; but I should like to know which ofthe governments now existing is in your opinion the one adapted to her.

Not any of them, I said; and that is precisely the accusation which I bringagainst them—not one of them is worthy of the philosophic nature, andhence that nature is warped and estranged;—as the exotic seed which issown in a foreign land becomes denaturalized, and is wont to be overpowered andto lose itself in the new soil, even so this growth of philosophy, instead ofpersisting, degenerates and receives another character. But if philosophy everfinds in the State that perfection which she herself is, then will be seen thatshe is in truth divine, and that all other things, whether natures of men orinstitutions, are but human;—and now, I know, that you are going to ask,What that State is:

No, he said; there you are wrong, for I was going to ask anotherquestion—whether it is the State of which we are the founders andinventors, or some other?

Yes, I replied, ours in most respects; but you may remember my saying before,that some living authority would always be required in the State having thesame idea of the constitution which guided you when as legislator you werelaying down the laws.

That was said, he replied.

Yes, but not in a satisfactory manner; you frightened us by interposingobjections, which certainly showed that the discussion would be long anddifficult; and what still remains is the reverse of easy.

What is there remaining?

The question how the study of philosophy may be so ordered as not to be theruin of the State: All great attempts are attended with risk; ‘hard isthe good,’ as men say.

Still, he said, let the point be cleared up, and the enquiry will then becomplete.

I shall not be hindered, I said, by any want of will, but, if at all, by a wantof power: my zeal you may see for yourselves; and please to remark in what I amabout to say how boldly and unhesitatingly I declare that States should pursuephilosophy, not as they do now, but in a different spirit.

In what manner?

At present, I said, the students of philosophy are quite young; beginning whenthey are hardly past childhood, they devote only the time saved frommoneymaking and housekeeping to such pursuits; and even those of them who arereputed to have most of the philosophic spirit, when they come within sight ofthe great difficulty of the subject, I mean dialectic, take themselves off. Inafter life when invited by some one else, they may, perhaps, go and hear alecture, and about this they make much ado, for philosophy is not considered bythem to be their proper business: at last, when they grow old, in most casesthey are extinguished more truly than Heracleitus’ sun, inasmuch as theynever light up again. (Heraclitus said that the sun was extinguished everyevening and relighted every morning.)

But what ought to be their course?

Just the opposite. In childhood and youth their study, and what philosophy theylearn, should be suited to their tender years: during this period while theyare growing up towards manhood, the chief and special care should be given totheir bodies that they may have them to use in the service of philosophy; aslife advances and the intellect begins to mature, let them increase thegymnastics of the soul; but when the strength of our citizens fails and is pastcivil and military duties, then let them range at will and engage in no seriouslabour, as we intend them to live happily here, and to crown this life with asimilar happiness in another.

How truly in earnest you are, Socrates! he said; I am sure of that; and yetmost of your hearers, if I am not mistaken, are likely to be still more earnestin their opposition to you, and will never be convinced; Thrasymachus least ofall.

Do not make a quarrel, I said, between Thrasymachus and me, who have recentlybecome friends, although, indeed, we were never enemies; for I shall go onstriving to the utmost until I either convert him and other men, or dosomething which may profit them against the day when they live again, and holdthe like discourse in another state of existence.

You are speaking of a time which is not very near.

Rather, I replied, of a time which is as nothing in comparison with eternity.Nevertheless, I do not wonder that the many refuse to believe; for they havenever seen that of which we are now speaking realized; they have seen only aconventional imitation of philosophy, consisting of words artificially broughttogether, not like these of ours having a natural unity. But a human being whoin word and work is perfectly moulded, as far as he can be, into the proportionand likeness of virtue—such a man ruling in a city which bears the sameimage, they have never yet seen, neither one nor many of them—do youthink that they ever did?

No indeed.

No, my friend, and they have seldom, if ever, heard free and noble sentiments;such as men utter when they are earnestly and by every means in their powerseeking after truth for the sake of knowledge, while they look coldly on thesubtleties of controversy, of which the end is opinion and strife, whether theymeet with them in the courts of law or in society.

They are strangers, he said, to the words of which you speak.

And this was what we foresaw, and this was the reason why truth forced us toadmit, not without fear and hesitation, that neither cities nor States norindividuals will ever attain perfection until the small class of philosopherswhom we termed useless but not corrupt are providentially compelled, whetherthey will or not, to take care of the State, and until a like necessity be laidon the State to obey them; or until kings, or if not kings, the sons of kingsor princes, are divinely inspired with a true love of true philosophy. Thateither or both of these alternatives are impossible, I see no reason to affirm:if they were so, we might indeed be justly ridiculed as dreamers andvisionaries. Am I not right?

Quite right.

If then, in the countless ages of the past, or at the present hour in someforeign clime which is far away and beyond our ken, the perfected philosopheris or has been or hereafter shall be compelled by a superior power to have thecharge of the State, we are ready to assert to the death, that this ourconstitution has been, and is—yea, and will be whenever the Muse ofPhilosophy is queen. There is no impossibility in all this; that there is adifficulty, we acknowledge ourselves.

My opinion agrees with yours, he said.

But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the multitude?

I should imagine not, he replied.

O my friend, I said, do not attack the multitude: they will change their minds,if, not in an aggressive spirit, but gently and with the view of soothing themand removing their dislike of over-education, you show them your philosophersas they really are and describe as you were just now doing their character andprofession, and then mankind will see that he of whom you are speaking is notsuch as they supposed—if they view him in this new light, they willsurely change their notion of him, and answer in another strain. Who can be atenmity with one who loves them, who that is himself gentle and free from envywill be jealous of one in whom there is no jealousy? Nay, let me answer foryou, that in a few this harsh temper may be found but not in the majority ofmankind.

I quite agree with you, he said.

And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling which the manyentertain towards philosophy originates in the pretenders, who rush inuninvited, and are always abusing them, and finding fault with them, who makepersons instead of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can bemore unbecoming in philosophers than this.

It is most unbecoming.

For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being, has surely no time tolook down upon the affairs of earth, or to be filled with malice and envy,contending against men; his eye is ever directed towards things fixed andimmutable, which he sees neither injuring nor injured by one another, but allin order moving according to reason; these he imitates, and to these he will,as far as he can, conform himself. Can a man help imitating that with which heholds reverential converse?


And the philosopher holding converse with the divine order, becomes orderly anddivine, as far as the nature of man allows; but like every one else, he willsuffer from detraction.

Of course.

And if a necessity be laid upon him of fashioning, not only himself, but humannature generally, whether in States or individuals, into that which he beholdselsewhere, will he, think you, be an unskilful artificer of justice,temperance, and every civil virtue?

Anything but unskilful.

And if the world perceives that what we are saying about him is the truth, willthey be angry with philosophy? Will they disbelieve us, when we tell them thatno State can be happy which is not designed by artists who imitate the heavenlypattern?

They will not be angry if they understand, he said. But how will they draw outthe plan of which you are speaking?

They will begin by taking the State and the manners of men, from which, as froma tablet, they will rub out the picture, and leave a clean surface. This is noeasy task. But whether easy or not, herein will lie the difference between themand every other legislator,—they will have nothing to do either withindividual or State, and will inscribe no laws, until they have either found,or themselves made, a clean surface.

They will be very right, he said.

Having effected this, they will proceed to trace an outline of theconstitution?

No doubt.

And when they are filling in the work, as I conceive, they will often turntheir eyes upwards and downwards: I mean that they will first look at absolutejustice and beauty and temperance, and again at the human copy; and will mingleand temper the various elements of life into the image of a man; and this theywill conceive according to that other image, which, when existing among men,Homer calls the form and likeness of God.

Very true, he said.

And one feature they will erase, and another they will put in, until they havemade the ways of men, as far as possible, agreeable to the ways of God?

Indeed, he said, in no way could they make a fairer picture.

And now, I said, are we beginning to persuade those whom you described asrushing at us with might and main, that the painter of constitutions is such anone as we are praising; at whom they were so very indignant because to hishands we committed the State; and are they growing a little calmer at what theyhave just heard?

Much calmer, if there is any sense in them.

Why, where can they still find any ground for objection? Will they doubt thatthe philosopher is a lover of truth and being?

They would not be so unreasonable.

Or that his nature, being such as we have delineated, is akin to the highestgood?

Neither can they doubt this.

But again, will they tell us that such a nature, placed under favourablecircumstances, will not be perfectly good and wise if any ever was? Or willthey prefer those whom we have rejected?

Surely not.

Then will they still be angry at our saying, that, until philosophers bearrule, States and individuals will have no rest from evil, nor will this ourimaginary State ever be realized?

I think that they will be less angry.

Shall we assume that they are not only less angry but quite gentle, and thatthey have been converted and for very shame, if for no other reason, cannotrefuse to come to terms?

By all means, he said.

Then let us suppose that the reconciliation has been effected. Will any onedeny the other point, that there may be sons of kings or princes who are bynature philosophers?

Surely no man, he said.

And when they have come into being will any one say that they must of necessitybe destroyed; that they can hardly be saved is not denied even by us; but thatin the whole course of ages no single one of them can escape—who willventure to affirm this?

Who indeed!

But, said I, one is enough; let there be one man who has a city obedient to hiswill, and he might bring into existence the ideal polity about which the worldis so incredulous.

Yes, one is enough.

The ruler may impose the laws and institutions which we have been describing,and the citizens may possibly be willing to obey them?


And that others should approve, of what we approve, is no miracle orimpossibility?

I think not.

But we have sufficiently shown, in what has preceded, that all this, if onlypossible, is assuredly for the best.

We have.

And now we say not only that our laws, if they could be enacted, would be forthe best, but also that the enactment of them, though difficult, is notimpossible.

Very good.

And so with pain and toil we have reached the end of one subject, but moreremains to be discussed;—how and by what studies and pursuits will thesaviours of the constitution be created, and at what ages are they to applythemselves to their several studies?


I omitted the troublesome business of the possession of women, and theprocreation of children, and the appointment of the rulers, because I knew thatthe perfect State would be eyed with jealousy and was difficult of attainment;but that piece of cleverness was not of much service to me, for I had todiscuss them all the same. The women and children are now disposed of, but theother question of the rulers must be investigated from the very beginning. Wewere saying, as you will remember, that they were to be lovers of theircountry, tried by the test of pleasures and pains, and neither in hardships,nor in dangers, nor at any other critical moment were to lose theirpatriotism—he was to be rejected who failed, but he who always came forthpure, like gold tried in the refiner’s fire, was to be made a ruler, andto receive honours and rewards in life and after death. This was the sort ofthing which was being said, and then the argument turned aside and veiled herface; not liking to stir the question which has now arisen.

I perfectly remember, he said.

Yes, my friend, I said, and I then shrank from hazarding the bold word; but nowlet me dare to say—that the perfect guardian must be a philosopher.

Yes, he said, let that be affirmed.

And do not suppose that there will be many of them; for the gifts which weredeemed by us to be essential rarely grow together; they are mostly found inshreds and patches.

What do you mean? he said.

You are aware, I replied, that quick intelligence, memory, sagacity,cleverness, and similar qualities, do not often grow together, and that personswho possess them and are at the same time high-spirited and magnanimous are notso constituted by nature as to live orderly and in a peaceful and settledmanner; they are driven any way by their impulses, and all solid principle goesout of them.

Very true, he said.

On the other hand, those steadfast natures which can better be depended upon,which in a battle are impregnable to fear and immovable, are equally immovablewhen there is anything to be learned; they are always in a torpid state, andare apt to yawn and go to sleep over any intellectual toil.

Quite true.

And yet we were saying that both qualities were necessary in those to whom thehigher education is to be imparted, and who are to share in any office orcommand.

Certainly, he said.

And will they be a class which is rarely found?

Yes, indeed.

Then the aspirant must not only be tested in those labours and dangers andpleasures which we mentioned before, but there is another kind of probationwhich we did not mention—he must be exercised also in many kinds ofknowledge, to see whether the soul will be able to endure the highest of all,or will faint under them, as in any other studies and exercises.

Yes, he said, you are quite right in testing him. But what do you mean by thehighest of all knowledge?

You may remember, I said, that we divided the soul into three parts; anddistinguished the several natures of justice, temperance, courage, and wisdom?

Indeed, he said, if I had forgotten, I should not deserve to hear more.

And do you remember the word of caution which preceded the discussion of them?

To what do you refer?

We were saying, if I am not mistaken, that he who wanted to see them in theirperfect beauty must take a longer and more circuitous way, at the end of whichthey would appear; but that we could add on a popular exposition of them on alevel with the discussion which had preceded. And you replied that such anexposition would be enough for you, and so the enquiry was continued in what tome seemed to be a very inaccurate manner; whether you were satisfied or not, itis for you to say.

Yes, he said, I thought and the others thought that you gave us a fair measureof truth.

But, my friend, I said, a measure of such things which in any degree fallsshort of the whole truth is not fair measure; for nothing imperfect is themeasure of anything, although persons are too apt to be contented and thinkthat they need search no further.

Not an uncommon case when people are indolent.

Yes, I said; and there cannot be any worse fault in a guardian of the State andof the laws.


The guardian then, I said, must be required to take the longer circuit, andtoil at learning as well as at gymnastics, or he will never reach the highestknowledge of all which, as we were just now saying, is his proper calling.

What, he said, is there a knowledge still higher than this—higher thanjustice and the other virtues?

Yes, I said, there is. And of the virtues too we must behold not the outlinemerely, as at present—nothing short of the most finished picture shouldsatisfy us. When little things are elaborated with an infinity of pains, inorder that they may appear in their full beauty and utmost clearness, howridiculous that we should not think the highest truths worthy of attaining thehighest accuracy!

A right noble thought; but do you suppose that we shall refrain from asking youwhat is this highest knowledge?

Nay, I said, ask if you will; but I am certain that you have heard the answermany times, and now you either do not understand me or, as I rather think, youare disposed to be troublesome; for you have often been told that the idea ofgood is the highest knowledge, and that all other things become useful andadvantageous only by their use of this. You can hardly be ignorant that of thisI was about to speak, concerning which, as you have often heard me say, we knowso little; and, without which, any other knowledge or possession of any kindwill profit us nothing. Do you think that the possession of all other things isof any value if we do not possess the good? or the knowledge of all otherthings if we have no knowledge of beauty and goodness?

Assuredly not.

You are further aware that most people affirm pleasure to be the good, but thefiner sort of wits say it is knowledge?


And you are aware too that the latter cannot explain what they mean byknowledge, but are obliged after all to say knowledge of the good?

How ridiculous!

Yes, I said, that they should begin by reproaching us with our ignorance of thegood, and then presume our knowledge of it—for the good they define to beknowledge of the good, just as if we understood them when they use the term‘good’—this is of course ridiculous.

Most true, he said.

And those who make pleasure their good are in equal perplexity; for they arecompelled to admit that there are bad pleasures as well as good.


And therefore to acknowledge that bad and good are the same?


There can be no doubt about the numerous difficulties in which this question isinvolved.

There can be none.

Further, do we not see that many are willing to do or to have or to seem to bewhat is just and honourable without the reality; but no one is satisfied withthe appearance of good—the reality is what they seek; in the case of thegood, appearance is despised by every one.

Very true, he said.

Of this then, which every soul of man pursues and makes the end of all hisactions, having a presentiment that there is such an end, and yet hesitatingbecause neither knowing the nature nor having the same assurance of this as ofother things, and therefore losing whatever good there is in otherthings,—of a principle such and so great as this ought the best men inour State, to whom everything is entrusted, to be in the darkness of ignorance?

Certainly not, he said.

I am sure, I said, that he who does not know how the beautiful and the just arelikewise good will be but a sorry guardian of them; and I suspect that no onewho is ignorant of the good will have a true knowledge of them.

That, he said, is a shrewd suspicion of yours.

And if we only have a guardian who has this knowledge our State will beperfectly ordered?

Of course, he replied; but I wish that you would tell me whether you conceivethis supreme principle of the good to be knowledge or pleasure, or differentfrom either?

Aye, I said, I knew all along that a fastidious gentleman like you would not becontented with the thoughts of other people about these matters.

True, Socrates; but I must say that one who like you has passed a lifetime inthe study of philosophy should not be always repeating the opinions of others,and never telling his own.

Well, but has any one a right to say positively what he does not know?

Not, he said, with the assurance of positive certainty; he has no right to dothat: but he may say what he thinks, as a matter of opinion.

And do you not know, I said, that all mere opinions are bad, and the best ofthem blind? You would not deny that those who have any true notion withoutintelligence are only like blind men who feel their way along the road?

Very true.

And do you wish to behold what is blind and crooked and base, when others willtell you of brightness and beauty?

Still, I must implore you, Socrates, said Glaucon, not to turn away just as youare reaching the goal; if you will only give such an explanation of the good asyou have already given of justice and temperance and the other virtues, weshall be satisfied.

Yes, my friend, and I shall be at least equally satisfied, but I cannot helpfearing that I shall fail, and that my indiscreet zeal will bring ridicule uponme. No, sweet sirs, let us not at present ask what is the actual nature of thegood, for to reach what is now in my thoughts would be an effort too great forme. But of the child of the good who is likest him, I would fain speak, if Icould be sure that you wished to hear—otherwise, not.

By all means, he said, tell us about the child, and you shall remain in ourdebt for the account of the parent.

I do indeed wish, I replied, that I could pay, and you receive, the account ofthe parent, and not, as now, of the offspring only; take, however, this latterby way of interest, and at the same time have a care that I do not render afalse account, although I have no intention of deceiving you.

Yes, we will take all the care that we can: proceed.

Yes, I said, but I must first come to an understanding with you, and remind youof what I have mentioned in the course of this discussion, and at many othertimes.


The old story, that there is a many beautiful and a many good, and so of otherthings which we describe and define; to all of them the term ‘many’is applied.

True, he said.

And there is an absolute beauty and an absolute good, and of other things towhich the term ‘many’ is applied there is an absolute; for they maybe brought under a single idea, which is called the essence of each.

Very true.

The many, as we say, are seen but not known, and the ideas are known but notseen.


And what is the organ with which we see the visible things?

The sight, he said.

And with the hearing, I said, we hear, and with the other senses perceive theother objects of sense?


But have you remarked that sight is by far the most costly and complex piece ofworkmanship which the artificer of the senses ever contrived?

No, I never have, he said.

Then reflect; has the ear or voice need of any third or additional nature inorder that the one may be able to hear and the other to be heard?

Nothing of the sort.

No, indeed, I replied; and the same is true of most, if not all, the othersenses—you would not say that any of them requires such an addition?

Certainly not.

But you see that without the addition of some other nature there is no seeingor being seen?

How do you mean?

Sight being, as I conceive, in the eyes, and he who has eyes wanting to see;colour being also present in them, still unless there be a third naturespecially adapted to the purpose, the owner of the eyes will see nothing andthe colours will be invisible.

Of what nature are you speaking?

Of that which you term light, I replied.

True, he said.

Noble, then, is the bond which links together sight and visibility, and greatbeyond other bonds by no small difference of nature; for light is their bond,and light is no ignoble thing?

Nay, he said, the reverse of ignoble.

And which, I said, of the gods in heaven would you say was the lord of thiselement? Whose is that light which makes the eye to see perfectly and thevisible to appear?

You mean the sun, as you and all mankind say.

May not the relation of sight to this deity be described as follows?


Neither sight nor the eye in which sight resides is the sun?


Yet of all the organs of sense the eye is the most like the sun?

By far the most like.

And the power which the eye possesses is a sort of effluence which is dispensedfrom the sun?


Then the sun is not sight, but the author of sight who is recognised by sight?

True, he said.

And this is he whom I call the child of the good, whom the good begat in hisown likeness, to be in the visible world, in relation to sight and the thingsof sight, what the good is in the intellectual world in relation to mind andthe things of mind:

Will you be a little more explicit? he said.

Why, you know, I said, that the eyes, when a person directs them towardsobjects on which the light of day is no longer shining, but the moon and starsonly, see dimly, and are nearly blind; they seem to have no clearness of visionin them?

Very true.

But when they are directed towards objects on which the sun shines, they seeclearly and there is sight in them?


And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and beingshine, the soul perceives and understands, and is radiant with intelligence;but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she hasopinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then ofanother, and seems to have no intelligence?

Just so.

Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power of knowing to theknower is what I would have you term the idea of good, and this you will deemto be the cause of science, and of truth in so far as the latter becomes thesubject of knowledge; beautiful too, as are both truth and knowledge, you willbe right in esteeming this other nature as more beautiful than either; and, asin the previous instance, light and sight may be truly said to be like the sun,and yet not to be the sun, so in this other sphere, science and truth may bedeemed to be like the good, but not the good; the good has a place of honouryet higher.

What a wonder of beauty that must be, he said, which is the author of scienceand truth, and yet surpasses them in beauty; for you surely cannot mean to saythat pleasure is the good?

God forbid, I replied; but may I ask you to consider the image in another pointof view?

In what point of view?

You would say, would you not, that the sun is not only the author of visibilityin all visible things, but of generation and nourishment and growth, though hehimself is not generation?


In like manner the good may be said to be not only the author of knowledge toall things known, but of their being and essence, and yet the good is notessence, but far exceeds essence in dignity and power.

Glaucon said, with a ludicrous earnestness: By the light of heaven, howamazing!

Yes, I said, and the exaggeration may be set down to you; for you made me uttermy fancies.

And pray continue to utter them; at any rate let us hear if there is anythingmore to be said about the similitude of the sun.

Yes, I said, there is a great deal more.

Then omit nothing, however slight.

I will do my best, I said; but I should think that a great deal will have to beomitted.

I hope not, he said.

You have to imagine, then, that there are two ruling powers, and that one ofthem is set over the intellectual world, the other over the visible. I do notsay heaven, lest you should fancy that I am playing upon the name(‘ourhanoz, orhatoz’). May I suppose that you have this distinctionof the visible and intelligible fixed in your mind?

I have.

Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts, and divide each ofthem again in the same proportion, and suppose the two main divisions toanswer, one to the visible and the other to the intelligible, and then comparethe subdivisions in respect of their clearness and want of clearness, and youwill find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists ofimages. And by images I mean, in the first place, shadows, and in the secondplace, reflections in water and in solid, smooth and polished bodies and thelike: Do you understand?

Yes, I understand.

Imagine, now, the other section, of which this is only the resemblance, toinclude the animals which we see, and everything that grows or is made.

Very good.

Would you not admit that both the sections of this division have differentdegrees of truth, and that the copy is to the original as the sphere of opinionis to the sphere of knowledge?

Most undoubtedly.

Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of the intellectual isto be divided.

In what manner?

Thus:—There are two subdivisions, in the lower of which the soul uses thefigures given by the former division as images; the enquiry can only behypothetical, and instead of going upwards to a principle descends to the otherend; in the higher of the two, the soul passes out of hypotheses, and goes upto a principle which is above hypotheses, making no use of images as in theformer case, but proceeding only in and through the ideas themselves.

I do not quite understand your meaning, he said.

Then I will try again; you will understand me better when I have made somepreliminary remarks. You are aware that students of geometry, arithmetic, andthe kindred sciences assume the odd and the even and the figures and threekinds of angles and the like in their several branches of science; these aretheir hypotheses, which they and every body are supposed to know, and thereforethey do not deign to give any account of them either to themselves or others;but they begin with them, and go on until they arrive at last, and in aconsistent manner, at their conclusion?

Yes, he said, I know.

And do you not know also that although they make use of the visible forms andreason about them, they are thinking not of these, but of the ideals which theyresemble; not of the figures which they draw, but of the absolute square andthe absolute diameter, and so on—the forms which they draw or make, andwhich have shadows and reflections in water of their own, are converted by theminto images, but they are really seeking to behold the things themselves, whichcan only be seen with the eye of the mind?

That is true.

And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible, although in the search after itthe soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not ascending to a first principle,because she is unable to rise above the region of hypothesis, but employing theobjects of which the shadows below are resemblances in their turn as images,they having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a greaterdistinctness, and therefore a higher value.

I understand, he said, that you are speaking of the province of geometry andthe sister arts.

And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understandme to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason herself attains by thepower of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only ashypotheses—that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a worldwhich is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the firstprinciple of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends onthis, by successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensibleobject, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.

I understand you, he replied; not perfectly, for you seem to me to bedescribing a task which is really tremendous; but, at any rate, I understandyou to say that knowledge and being, which the science of dialecticcontemplates, are clearer than the notions of the arts, as they are termed,which proceed from hypotheses only: these are also contemplated by theunderstanding, and not by the senses: yet, because they start from hypothesesand do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate them appear to you notto exercise the higher reason upon them, although when a first principle isadded to them they are cognizable by the higher reason. And the habit which isconcerned with geometry and the cognate sciences I suppose that you would termunderstanding and not reason, as being intermediate between opinion and reason.

You have quite conceived my meaning, I said; and now, corresponding to thesefour divisions, let there be four faculties in the soul—reason answeringto the highest, understanding to the second, faith (or conviction) to thethird, and perception of shadows to the last—and let there be a scale ofthem, and let us suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the samedegree that their objects have truth.

I understand, he replied, and give my assent, and accept your arrangement.


And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened orunenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in a underground den, whichhas a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here theyhave been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so thatthey cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chainsfrom turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at adistance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and youwill see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen whichmarionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts ofvessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and variousmaterials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadowsof one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were neverallowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only seethe shadows?

Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose thatthey were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side,would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voicewhich they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of theimages.

That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners arereleased and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberatedand compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and looktowards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, andhe will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seenthe shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw beforewas an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and hiseye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,—whatwill be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointingto the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them,—will he notbe perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw aretruer than the objects which are now shown to him?

Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a painin his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects ofvision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearerthan the things which are now being shown to him?

True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and ruggedascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun himself,is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light hiseyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of whatare now called realities.

Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And firsthe will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects inthe water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light ofthe moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and thestars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?


Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him inthe water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; andhe will contemplate him as he is.


He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and theyears, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in acertain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have beenaccustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and hisfellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on thechange, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on thosewho were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of themwent before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who weretherefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that hewould care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Wouldhe not say with Homer,

‘Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,’

and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after theirmanner?

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain thesefalse notions and live in this miserable manner.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to bereplaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full ofdarkness?

To be sure, he said.

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadowswith the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight wasstill weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would beneeded to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would henot be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he camewithout his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and ifany one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them onlycatch the offender, and they would put him to death.

No question, he said.

This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previousargument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is thesun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards tobe the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poorbelief, which, at your desire, I have expressed—whether rightly orwrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the worldof knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with aneffort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of allthings beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in thisvisible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in theintellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationallyeither in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatificvision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are everhastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire oftheirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

Yes, very natural.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplationsto the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, whilehis eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surroundingdarkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, aboutthe images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet theconceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

Anything but surprising, he replied.

Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyesare of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of thelight or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye,quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he willfirst ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and isunable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darknessto the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy inhis condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have amind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will bemore reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from aboveout of the light into the den.

That, he said, is a very just distinction.

But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong whenthey say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not therebefore, like sight into blind eyes.

They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists inthe soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness tolight without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only bythe movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into thatof being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of thebrightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

Very true.

And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest andquickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already,but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodilyqualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implantedlater by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom more than anything elsecontains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion isrendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Didyou never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of aclever rogue—how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way tohis end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eye-sight is forced into theservice of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?

Very true, he said.

But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of theiryouth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eatingand drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth,and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the thingsthat are below—if, I say, they had been released from these impedimentsand turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would haveseen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

Very likely.

Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or rather a necessaryinference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed ofthe truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be ableministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of dutywhich is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor thelatter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying thatthey are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

Very true, he replied.

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be tocompel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown tobe the greatest of all—they must continue to ascend until they arrive atthe good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them todo as they do now.

What do you mean?

I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; theymust be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake oftheir labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.

But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when theymight have a better?

You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator,who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; thehappiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together bypersuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and thereforebenefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to pleasethemselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

True, he said, I had forgotten.

Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling ourphilosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to themthat in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toilsof politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will,and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannotbe expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received.But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings ofyourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and moreperfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in thedouble duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to thegeneral underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When youhave acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than theinhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and whatthey represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in theirtruth. And thus our State, which is also yours, will be a reality, and not adream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States,in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted inthe struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truthis that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is alwaysthe best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager,the worst.

Quite true, he replied.

And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at thetoils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their timewith one another in the heavenly light?

Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which weimpose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them willtake office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our presentrulers of State.

Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for yourfuture rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you mayhave a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will theyrule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom,which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administrationof public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage,thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can neverbe; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broilswhich thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the wholeState.

Most true, he replied.

And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is thatof true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

Indeed, I do not, he said.

And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are,there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.

No question.

Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will bethe men who are wisest about affairs of State, and by whom the State is bestadministered, and who at the same time have other honours and another and abetter life than that of politics?

They are the men, and I will choose them, he replied.

And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and howthey are to be brought from darkness to light,—as some are said to haveascended from the world below to the gods?

By all means, he replied.

The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell (In allusion toa game in which two parties fled or pursued according as an oyster-shell whichwas thrown into the air fell with the dark or light side uppermost.), but theturning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night tothe true day of being, that is, the ascent from below, which we affirm to betrue philosophy?

Quite so.

And should we not enquire what sort of knowledge has the power of effectingsuch a change?


What sort of knowledge is there which would draw the soul from becoming tobeing? And another consideration has just occurred to me: You will rememberthat our young men are to be warrior athletes?

Yes, that was said.

Then this new kind of knowledge must have an additional quality?

What quality?

Usefulness in war.

Yes, if possible.

There were two parts in our former scheme of education, were there not?

Just so.

There was gymnastic which presided over the growth and decay of the body, andmay therefore be regarded as having to do with generation and corruption?


Then that is not the knowledge which we are seeking to discover?


But what do you say of music, which also entered to a certain extent into ourformer scheme?

Music, he said, as you will remember, was the counterpart of gymnastic, andtrained the guardians by the influences of habit, by harmony making themharmonious, by rhythm rhythmical, but not giving them science; and the words,whether fabulous or possibly true, had kindred elements of rhythm and harmonyin them. But in music there was nothing which tended to that good which you arenow seeking.

You are most accurate, I said, in your recollection; in music there certainlywas nothing of the kind. But what branch of knowledge is there, my dearGlaucon, which is of the desired nature; since all the useful arts werereckoned mean by us?

Undoubtedly; and yet if music and gymnastic are excluded, and the arts are alsoexcluded, what remains?

Well, I said, there may be nothing left of our special subjects; and then weshall have to take something which is not special, but of universalapplication.

What may that be?

A something which all arts and sciences and intelligences use in common, andwhich every one first has to learn among the elements of education.

What is that?

The little matter of distinguishing one, two, and three—in a word, numberand calculation:—do not all arts and sciences necessarily partake ofthem?


Then the art of war partakes of them?

To be sure.

Then Palamedes, whenever he appears in tragedy, proves Agamemnon ridiculouslyunfit to be a general. Did you never remark how he declares that he hadinvented number, and had numbered the ships and set in array the ranks of thearmy at Troy; which implies that they had never been numbered before, andAgamemnon must be supposed literally to have been incapable of counting his ownfeet—how could he if he was ignorant of number? And if that is true, whatsort of general must he have been?

I should say a very strange one, if this was as you say.

Can we deny that a warrior should have a knowledge of arithmetic?

Certainly he should, if he is to have the smallest understanding of militarytactics, or indeed, I should rather say, if he is to be a man at all.

I should like to know whether you have the same notion which I have of thisstudy?

What is your notion?

It appears to me to be a study of the kind which we are seeking, and whichleads naturally to reflection, but never to have been rightly used; for thetrue use of it is simply to draw the soul towards being.

Will you explain your meaning? he said.

I will try, I said; and I wish you would share the enquiry with me, and say‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I attempt to distinguish in my ownmind what branches of knowledge have this attracting power, in order that wemay have clearer proof that arithmetic is, as I suspect, one of them.

Explain, he said.

I mean to say that objects of sense are of two kinds; some of them do notinvite thought because the sense is an adequate judge of them; while in thecase of other objects sense is so untrustworthy that further enquiry isimperatively demanded.

You are clearly referring, he said, to the manner in which the senses areimposed upon by distance, and by painting in light and shade.

No, I said, that is not at all my meaning.

Then what is your meaning?

When speaking of uninviting objects, I mean those which do not pass from onesensation to the opposite; inviting objects are those which do; in this lattercase the sense coming upon the object, whether at a distance or near, gives nomore vivid idea of anything in particular than of its opposite. An illustrationwill make my meaning clearer:—here are three fingers—a littlefinger, a second finger, and a middle finger.

Very good.

You may suppose that they are seen quite close: And here comes the point.

What is it?

Each of them equally appears a finger, whether seen in the middle or at theextremity, whether white or black, or thick or thin—it makes nodifference; a finger is a finger all the same. In these cases a man is notcompelled to ask of thought the question what is a finger? for the sight neverintimates to the mind that a finger is other than a finger.


And therefore, I said, as we might expect, there is nothing here which invitesor excites intelligence.

There is not, he said.

But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the fingers? Cansight adequately perceive them? and is no difference made by the circumstancethat one of the fingers is in the middle and another at the extremity? And inlike manner does the touch adequately perceive the qualities of thickness orthinness, of softness or hardness? And so of the other senses; do they giveperfect intimations of such matters? Is not their mode of operation on thiswise—the sense which is concerned with the quality of hardness isnecessarily concerned also with the quality of softness, and only intimates tothe soul that the same thing is felt to be both hard and soft?

You are quite right, he said.

And must not the soul be perplexed at this intimation which the sense gives ofa hard which is also soft? What, again, is the meaning of light and heavy, ifthat which is light is also heavy, and that which is heavy, light?

Yes, he said, these intimations which the soul receives are very curious andrequire to be explained.

Yes, I said, and in these perplexities the soul naturally summons to her aidcalculation and intelligence, that she may see whether the several objectsannounced to her are one or two.


And if they turn out to be two, is not each of them one and different?


And if each is one, and both are two, she will conceive the two as in a stateof division, for if there were undivided they could only be conceived of asone?


The eye certainly did see both small and great, but only in a confused manner;they were not distinguished.


Whereas the thinking mind, intending to light up the chaos, was compelled toreverse the process, and look at small and great as separate and not confused.

Very true.

Was not this the beginning of the enquiry ‘What is great?’ and‘What is small?’

Exactly so.

And thus arose the distinction of the visible and the intelligible.

Most true.

This was what I meant when I spoke of impressions which invited the intellect,or the reverse—those which are simultaneous with opposite impressions,invite thought; those which are not simultaneous do not.

I understand, he said, and agree with you.

And to which class do unity and number belong?

I do not know, he replied.

Think a little and you will see that what has preceded will supply the answer;for if simple unity could be adequately perceived by the sight or by any othersense, then, as we were saying in the case of the finger, there would benothing to attract towards being; but when there is some contradiction alwayspresent, and one is the reverse of one and involves the conception ofplurality, then thought begins to be aroused within us, and the soul perplexedand wanting to arrive at a decision asks ‘What is absolute unity?’This is the way in which the study of the one has a power of drawing andconverting the mind to the contemplation of true being.

And surely, he said, this occurs notably in the case of one; for we see thesame thing to be both one and infinite in multitude?

Yes, I said; and this being true of one must be equally true of all number?


And all arithmetic and calculation have to do with number?


And they appear to lead the mind towards truth?

Yes, in a very remarkable manner.

Then this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking, having a doubleuse, military and philosophical; for the man of war must learn the art ofnumber or he will not know how to array his troops, and the philosopher also,because he has to rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being, andtherefore he must be an arithmetician.

That is true.

And our guardian is both warrior and philosopher?


Then this is a kind of knowledge which legislation may fitly prescribe; and wemust endeavour to persuade those who are to be the principal men of our Stateto go and learn arithmetic, not as amateurs, but they must carry on the studyuntil they see the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, likemerchants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but for the sakeof their military use, and of the soul herself; and because this will be theeasiest way for her to pass from becoming to truth and being.

That is excellent, he said.

Yes, I said, and now having spoken of it, I must add how charming the scienceis! and in how many ways it conduces to our desired end, if pursued in thespirit of a philosopher, and not of a shopkeeper!

How do you mean?

I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect,compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against theintroduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument. You know howsteadily the masters of the art repel and ridicule any one who attempts todivide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you divide, they multiply(Meaning either (1) that they integrate the number because they deny thepossibility of fractions; or (2) that division is regarded by them as a processof multiplication, for the fractions of one continue to be units.), taking carethat one shall continue one and not become lost in fractions.

That is very true.

Now, suppose a person were to say to them: O my friends, what are thesewonderful numbers about which you are reasoning, in which, as you say, there isa unity such as you demand, and each unit is equal, invariable,indivisible,—what would they answer?

They would answer, as I should conceive, that they were speaking of thosenumbers which can only be realized in thought.

Then you see that this knowledge may be truly called necessary, necessitatingas it clearly does the use of the pure intelligence in the attainment of puretruth?

Yes; that is a marked characteristic of it.

And have you further observed, that those who have a natural talent forcalculation are generally quick at every other kind of knowledge; and even thedull, if they have had an arithmetical training, although they may derive noother advantage from it, always become much quicker than they would otherwisehave been.

Very true, he said.

And indeed, you will not easily find a more difficult study, and not many asdifficult.

You will not.

And, for all these reasons, arithmetic is a kind of knowledge in which the bestnatures should be trained, and which must not be given up.

I agree.

Let this then be made one of our subjects of education. And next, shall weenquire whether the kindred science also concerns us?

You mean geometry?

Exactly so.

Clearly, he said, we are concerned with that part of geometry which relates towar; for in pitching a camp, or taking up a position, or closing or extendingthe lines of an army, or any other military manoeuvre, whether in actual battleor on a march, it will make all the difference whether a general is or is not ageometrician.

Yes, I said, but for that purpose a very little of either geometry orcalculation will be enough; the question relates rather to the greater and moreadvanced part of geometry—whether that tends in any degree to make moreeasy the vision of the idea of good; and thither, as I was saying, all thingstend which compel the soul to turn her gaze towards that place, where is thefull perfection of being, which she ought, by all means, to behold.

True, he said.

Then if geometry compels us to view being, it concerns us; if becoming only, itdoes not concern us?

Yes, that is what we assert.

Yet anybody who has the least acquaintance with geometry will not deny thatsuch a conception of the science is in flat contradiction to the ordinarylanguage of geometricians.

How so?

They have in view practice only, and are always speaking, in a narrow andridiculous manner, of squaring and extending and applying and thelike—they confuse the necessities of geometry with those of daily life;whereas knowledge is the real object of the whole science.

Certainly, he said.

Then must not a further admission be made?

What admission?

That the knowledge at which geometry aims is knowledge of the eternal, and notof aught perishing and transient.

That, he replied, may be readily allowed, and is true.

Then, my noble friend, geometry will draw the soul towards truth, and createthe spirit of philosophy, and raise up that which is now unhappily allowed tofall down.

Nothing will be more likely to have such an effect.

Then nothing should be more sternly laid down than that the inhabitants of yourfair city should by all means learn geometry. Moreover the science has indirecteffects, which are not small.

Of what kind? he said.

There are the military advantages of which you spoke, I said; and in alldepartments of knowledge, as experience proves, any one who has studiedgeometry is infinitely quicker of apprehension than one who has not.

Yes indeed, he said, there is an infinite difference between them.

Then shall we propose this as a second branch of knowledge which our youth willstudy?

Let us do so, he replied.

And suppose we make astronomy the third—what do you say?

I am strongly inclined to it, he said; the observation of the seasons and ofmonths and years is as essential to the general as it is to the farmer orsailor.

I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes you guard againstthe appearance of insisting upon useless studies; and I quite admit thedifficulty of believing that in every man there is an eye of the soul which,when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined;and is more precious far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone istruth seen. Now there are two classes of persons: one class of those who willagree with you and will take your words as a revelation; another class to whomthey will be utterly unmeaning, and who will naturally deem them to be idletales, for they see no sort of profit which is to be obtained from them. Andtherefore you had better decide at once with which of the two you are proposingto argue. You will very likely say with neither, and that your chief aim incarrying on the argument is your own improvement; at the same time you do notgrudge to others any benefit which they may receive.

I think that I should prefer to carry on the argument mainly on my own behalf.

Then take a step backward, for we have gone wrong in the order of the sciences.

What was the mistake? he said.

After plane geometry, I said, we proceeded at once to solids in revolution,instead of taking solids in themselves; whereas after the second dimension thethird, which is concerned with cubes and dimensions of depth, ought to havefollowed.

That is true, Socrates; but so little seems to be known as yet about thesesubjects.

Why, yes, I said, and for two reasons:—in the first place, no governmentpatronises them; this leads to a want of energy in the pursuit of them, andthey are difficult; in the second place, students cannot learn them unless theyhave a director. But then a director can hardly be found, and even if he could,as matters now stand, the students, who are very conceited, would not attend tohim. That, however, would be otherwise if the whole State became the directorof these studies and gave honour to them; then disciples would want to come,and there would be continuous and earnest search, and discoveries would bemade; since even now, disregarded as they are by the world, and maimed of theirfair proportions, and although none of their votaries can tell the use of them,still these studies force their way by their natural charm, and very likely, ifthey had the help of the State, they would some day emerge into light.

Yes, he said, there is a remarkable charm in them. But I do not clearlyunderstand the change in the order. First you began with a geometry of planesurfaces?

Yes, I said.

And you placed astronomy next, and then you made a step backward?

Yes, and I have delayed you by my hurry; the ludicrous state of solid geometry,which, in natural order, should have followed, made me pass over this branchand go on to astronomy, or motion of solids.

True, he said.

Then assuming that the science now omitted would come into existence ifencouraged by the State, let us go on to astronomy, which will be fourth.

The right order, he replied. And now, Socrates, as you rebuked the vulgarmanner in which I praised astronomy before, my praise shall be given in yourown spirit. For every one, as I think, must see that astronomy compels the soulto look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Every one but myself, I said; to every one else this may be clear, but not tome.

And what then would you say?

I should rather say that those who elevate astronomy into philosophy appear tome to make us look downwards and not upwards.

What do you mean? he asked.

You, I replied, have in your mind a truly sublime conception of our knowledgeof the things above. And I dare say that if a person were to throw his headback and study the fretted ceiling, you would still think that his mind was thepercipient, and not his eyes. And you are very likely right, and I may be asimpleton: but, in my opinion, that knowledge only which is of being and of theunseen can make the soul look upwards, and whether a man gapes at the heavensor blinks on the ground, seeking to learn some particular of sense, I woulddeny that he can learn, for nothing of that sort is matter of science; his soulis looking downwards, not upwards, whether his way to knowledge is by water orby land, whether he floats, or only lies on his back.

I acknowledge, he said, the justice of your rebuke. Still, I should like toascertain how astronomy can be learned in any manner more conducive to thatknowledge of which we are speaking?

I will tell you, I said: The starry heaven which we behold is wrought upon avisible ground, and therefore, although the fairest and most perfect of visiblethings, must necessarily be deemed inferior far to the true motions of absoluteswiftness and absolute slowness, which are relative to each other, and carrywith them that which is contained in them, in the true number and in every truefigure. Now, these are to be apprehended by reason and intelligence, but not bysight.

True, he replied.

The spangled heavens should be used as a pattern and with a view to that higherknowledge; their beauty is like the beauty of figures or pictures excellentlywrought by the hand of Daedalus, or some other great artist, which we maychance to behold; any geometrician who saw them would appreciate theexquisiteness of their workmanship, but he would never dream of thinking thatin them he could find the true equal or the true double, or the truth of anyother proportion.

No, he replied, such an idea would be ridiculous.

And will not a true astronomer have the same feeling when he looks at themovements of the stars? Will he not think that heaven and the things in heavenare framed by the Creator of them in the most perfect manner? But he will neverimagine that the proportions of night and day, or of both to the month, or ofthe month to the year, or of the stars to these and to one another, and anyother things that are material and visible can also be eternal and subject tono deviation—that would be absurd; and it is equally absurd to take somuch pains in investigating their exact truth.

I quite agree, though I never thought of this before.

Then, I said, in astronomy, as in geometry, we should employ problems, and letthe heavens alone if we would approach the subject in the right way and so makethe natural gift of reason to be of any real use.

That, he said, is a work infinitely beyond our present astronomers.

Yes, I said; and there are many other things which must also have a similarextension given to them, if our legislation is to be of any value. But can youtell me of any other suitable study?

No, he said, not without thinking.

Motion, I said, has many forms, and not one only; two of them are obviousenough even to wits no better than ours; and there are others, as I imagine,which may be left to wiser persons.

But where are the two?

There is a second, I said, which is the counterpart of the one already named.

And what may that be?

The second, I said, would seem relatively to the ears to be what the first isto the eyes; for I conceive that as the eyes are designed to look up at thestars, so are the ears to hear harmonious motions; and these are sistersciences—as the Pythagoreans say, and we, Glaucon, agree with them?

Yes, he replied.

But this, I said, is a laborious study, and therefore we had better go andlearn of them; and they will tell us whether there are any other applicationsof these sciences. At the same time, we must not lose sight of our own higherobject.

What is that?

There is a perfection which all knowledge ought to reach, and which our pupilsought also to attain, and not to fall short of, as I was saying that they didin astronomy. For in the science of harmony, as you probably know, the samething happens. The teachers of harmony compare the sounds and consonances whichare heard only, and their labour, like that of the astronomers, is in vain.

Yes, by heaven! he said; and ’tis as good as a play to hear them talkingabout their condensed notes, as they call them; they put their ears closealongside of the strings like persons catching a sound from theirneighbour’s wall—one set of them declaring that they distinguish anintermediate note and have found the least interval which should be the unit ofmeasurement; the others insisting that the two sounds have passed into thesame—either party setting their ears before their understanding.

You mean, I said, those gentlemen who tease and torture the strings and rackthem on the pegs of the instrument: I might carry on the metaphor and speakafter their manner of the blows which the plectrum gives, and make accusationsagainst the strings, both of backwardness and forwardness to sound; but thiswould be tedious, and therefore I will only say that these are not the men, andthat I am referring to the Pythagoreans, of whom I was just now proposing toenquire about harmony. For they too are in error, like the astronomers; theyinvestigate the numbers of the harmonies which are heard, but they never attainto problems—that is to say, they never reach the natural harmonies ofnumber, or reflect why some numbers are harmonious and others not.

That, he said, is a thing of more than mortal knowledge.

A thing, I replied, which I would rather call useful; that is, if sought afterwith a view to the beautiful and good; but if pursued in any other spirit,useless.

Very true, he said.

Now, when all these studies reach the point of inter-communion and connectionwith one another, and come to be considered in their mutual affinities, then, Ithink, but not till then, will the pursuit of them have a value for ourobjects; otherwise there is no profit in them.

I suspect so; but you are speaking, Socrates, of a vast work.

What do you mean? I said; the prelude or what? Do you not know that all this isbut the prelude to the actual strain which we have to learn? For you surelywould not regard the skilled mathematician as a dialectician?

Assuredly not, he said; I have hardly ever known a mathematician who wascapable of reasoning.

But do you imagine that men who are unable to give and take a reason will havethe knowledge which we require of them?

Neither can this be supposed.

And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic. Thisis that strain which is of the intellect only, but which the faculty of sightwill nevertheless be found to imitate; for sight, as you may remember, wasimagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last ofall the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts on thediscovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without anyassistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives atthe perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of theintellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible.

Exactly, he said.

Then this is the progress which you call dia