Ancient History

Full Texts Legal Texts Search Help

Studying History Human Origins Mesopotamia/Syria Egypt Persia Israel Greece Hellenistic World Rome Late Antiquity Christian Origins
IHSP Credits

Ancient History Sourcebook


The Republic

       The Internet Wiretap Online Edition of

                   THE REPUBLIC
                     BY PLATO

                   Translated by
                BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.

        Late Regius Professor of Greek in the
                University of Oxford

            New York, P. F. Collier & Son
          Copyright 1901 The Colonial Press

         Prepared by

About the online edition.

This was scanned from the 1901 edition and mechanically
checked against a commercial copy of the Republic from CDROM.
Differences were corrected against the paper edition. The
text itself is thus a highly accurate rendition.

This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, released August 1993.


   I   Of Wealth, Justice, Moderation, and their Opposites
  II   The Individual, the State, and Education
 III   The Arts in Education
  IV   Wealth, Poverty, and Virtue
   V   On Matrimony and Philosophy
  VI   The Philosophy of Government
 VII   On Shadows and Realities in Education
VIII   Four Forms of Government
  IX   On Wrong or Right Government, and the Pleasures of Each
   X   The Recompense of Life

                        BOOK I

               Persons of the Dialogue

   SOCRATES, who is the narrator.     CEPHALUS.
   GLACON.                            THRASYMACHUS.
   ADEIMANTUS.                        CLEITOPHON.

           And others who are mute auditors.

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

  I WENT down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon, the
son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the
goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what man-
ner 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 had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle,
we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant
Polemarchus, the son of Cephalus, chanced to catch sight of
us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and
told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant
took hold of me by the cloak 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, and with him Adeimantus, Glaucon's
brother, Niceratus, the son of Nicias, and several others who
had been at the procession.

  Polemarchus said to me, I perceive, Socrates, that you and
your companion are already 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 where you are.

  May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may per-
suade you to let us go?

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

  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 honor of the goddess which will take place
in the evening?

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

  Yes, said Polemarchus; and not only so, but a festival will
be celebrated at night, which you certainly ought to see. Let
us rise soon after supper and see this festival; there will be
a gathering of young men, and we will have a good talk.
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 his brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and
with them Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, Charmantides the
Paeanian, and Cleitophon, the son of Aristonymus. There too
was Cephalus, the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen
for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was
seated on a cushioned chair, and had a garland on his head,
for he had been sacrificing in the court; and there were some
other chairs in the room arranged in a semicircle, upon which
we sat down by him. He saluted me eagerly, and then he said:

  You don't come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought:
If I were still able to go and see you I would not ask you to
come to me. But at my age I can hardly get to the city, and
therefore you should come oftener to the Piraeus. For, let
me tell you that the more the pleasures of the body fade away,
the greater to me are the pleasure and charm of conversation.
Do not, then, deny my request, but make our house your re-
sort and keep company with these young 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 bet-
ter, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard
them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may
have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire whether the way
is smooth and easy or rugged and difficult. And this is a
question which I should like to ask of you, who have arrived
at that time which the poets call the "threshold of old age":
Is life harder toward the end, or what report do you give of it?

  I will tell you, Socrates, he said, what my own feeling is.
Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as
the old proverb says; and at our meetings the tale of my
acquaintance commonly is: I cannot eat, I cannot drink; the
pleasures of youth and love are fled away; there was a good
time once, but now that is gone, and life is no longer life.
Some complain of the slights which are put upon them by
relations, and they will tell you sadly of how many evils their
old age is the cause. But to me, Socrates, these complainers
seem to blame that which is not really in fault. For if old
age were the cause, I too, being old, and every other old man
would have felt as they do. But this is not my own experi-
ence, nor that of others whom I have known. How well I
remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to the
question, How does love suit with age, Sophocles--are you
still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have
I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had
escaped from a mad and furious master. His words have
often occurred to my mind since, and they seem as good to
me now as at the time when he uttered them. For certainly
old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the pas-
sions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed
from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many.
The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and also the com-
plaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause,
which is not old age, but men's characters and tempers; for
he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the
pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition
youth and age are equally a burden.

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

  You are right, he replied; they are not convinced: and
there is something in what they say; not, however, so much
as they imagine. I might answer them as Themistocles an-
swered the Seriphian who was abusing him and saying that
he was famous, not for his own merits but because he was
an Athenian: "If you had been a native of my country or
I of yours, neither of us would have been famous." And to
those who are not rich and are impatient of old age, the same
reply may be made; for to the good poor man old age can-
not be a light burden, nor can a bad rich man ever have peace
with himself.

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

  Acquired! Socrates; do you want to know how much I
acquired? In the art of making money I have been midway
between my father and grandfather: for my grandfather,
whose name I bear, doubled and trebled the value of his patri-
mony, that which he inherited being much what I possess now;
but my father, Lysanias, reduced the property below what it
is at present; and I shall be satisfied if I leave 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 are indifferent about money, which is a charac-
teristic rather of those who have inherited their fortunes than of
those who have acquired them; the makers of fortunes have a
second love of money as a creation of their own, resembling the
affection 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 common to them and all men. And hence
they are very bad company, for they can talk about nothing
but the praises of wealth.
That is true, he said.

  Yes, that is very true, but may I ask another question?--
What do you consider 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 me tell you, Socrates, that when a man thinks
himself to be near death, fears and cares enter into his mind
which he never had before; the tales of a world below and the
punishment which is exacted there of deeds done here were
once a laughing matter to him, but now he is tormented with
the thought that they may be true: either from the weakness of
age, or because he is now drawing nearer to that other place,
he has a clearer view of these things; suspicions and alarms
crowd thickly upon him, and he begins to reflect and consider
what wrongs he has done to others. And when he finds that
the sum of his transgressions is great he will many a time like
a child start up in his sleep for fear, and he is filled with dark
forebodings. But to him who is conscious of 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 in justice and
   holiness, and is the nurse of his age and the companion of his journey--
   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 to every man, but to a good man, is, that he
has had no occasion to deceive or to defraud others, either in-
tentionally or unintentionally; and when he departs to the world
below he is not in any apprehension about offerings due to the
gods or debts which he owes to men. Now to this peace of
mind the possession of wealth greatly contributes; and there-
fore I say, that, setting one thing against another, of the many
advantages which wealth has to give, to a man of sense this is
in my opinion the greatest.

  Well said, Cephalus, I replied; but as concerning justice,
what is it?--to speak the truth and to pay your debts--no more
than this? And even to this are there not exceptions? Sup-
pose that a friend when in his right mind has deposited 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 I should be right in doing so, any more than
they would say that I ought always to 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 correct definition of justice.

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

  I fear, said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look
after the sacrifices, and I hand over the argument to Polem-
archus and the company.

  Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.

  To be sure, he answered, and went away laughing to the sac-

  Tell me then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simon-
ides say, and according to you, truly say, about justice?

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

  I shall be sorry to doubt the word of such a wise and inspired
man, but his meaning, though probably clear to you, is the re-
verse of clear to me. For he certainly does not mean, as we
were just now saying, that I ought to return a deposit of arms
or of anything else to one who asks for it when he is not in his
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 to make the return?

  Certainly not.

  When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was jus-
tice, he did not mean to include that case?

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

  You mean that the return of a deposit of gold which is to
the injury of the receiver, if the two parties are friends, is not
the repayment of a debt--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 I take it, owes to an enemy that which is due
or proper to him--that is to say, evil.

  Simonides, then, after the manner of poets, would seem to
have spoken darkly of the nature of justice; for he really meant
to say that justice is the giving to each 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 by medicine, 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 human bodies.

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

  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
preceding instances, then justice is the art which gives good to
friends and evil to enemies.

  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 time of 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 most able 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


  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 a game of draughts?

  The skilful player.

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

  Quite the reverse.

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

  In a money partnership.

  Yes, Polemarchus, but surely not in the use of money; for
you do not want a just man to be your counsellor in the pur-
chase or sale of a horse; a man who is knowing 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 be preferred?

  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 jus-
tice is useful to the individual and to the State; but when you
want to use it, then the art of the vine-dresser?


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


  And so of all other things--justice is useful when they are
useless, and useless when they are useful?

  That is the inference.

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


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


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


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

  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 lesson which I suspect you must have learnt out
of Homer; for he, speaking of Autolycus, the maternal grand-
father of Odysseus, who is a favorite 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 of enemies"--that was what you were

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

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

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

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

  That is true.

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

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


  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 has friends who are bad friends, and in that case
he ought to do harm to them; and he has good enemies whom
he ought to benefit; but, if so, we shall be saying the very op-
posite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of Simon-

  Very true, he said; and I think that we had better correct
an error into which we 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; and that 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 to our friends and harm to our enemies, we
should further say: It is just to do good to our friends when
they are good, and harm to our enemies when they are evil?

  Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.

  But ought the just to injure anyone 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 proper virtue 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 the good 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 anyone?


  And the just is the good?


  Then to injure a friend or anyone else is not the act of a
just man, but of the 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 that good is the debt which a just man owes to his
friends, and evil the debt which he 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 anyone
who attributes such a 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 some other rich and mighty man, who had a
great opinion of his own power, was the first to say that justice
is "doing good to your friends and harm to your enemies."

  Most true, he said.

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

  Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus
had made an attempt to get the argument into his own hands,
and had been put down by the rest of the company, who wanted
to hear the end. But when Polemarchus and I had done speak-
ing 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. We were quite panic-stricken at the
sight of him.

  He roared out to the whole company: What folly, Socrates,
has taken possession of you all? And why, sillybillies, do you
knock under to one another? I say that if you want really to
know what justice is, you should not only ask but answer, and
you should not seek honor to yourself from the refutation of an
opponent, but have your own answer; for there is many a one
who can ask and cannot answer. And now I will not have you
say that justice is duty or advantage or profit or gain or interest,
for this sort of nonsense will not do for me; I must have clear-
ness 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 been struck dumb: but when I saw
his fury rising, I looked at him first, and was therefore able to
reply to him.

  Thrasymachus, I said, with a quiver, don't be hard upon us.
Polemarchus and I may have been guilty of a little mistake in
the argument, but I can assure you that the error was not in-
tentional. If we were seeking for a piece of gold, you would
not imagine that we were "knocking under to one another,"
and so losing our chance of finding it. And why, when we are
seeking for justice, a thing more precious than many pieces of
gold, do you say that we are weakly yielding to one another
and not doing our utmost to get at the truth? Nay, my good
friend, we are most willing and anxious to do so, but the fact
is that we cannot. And if so, you people who know all things
should pity us and not be angry with us.

  How characteristic of Socrates! he replied, with a bitter
laugh; that's your ironical style! Did I not foresee--have I
not already told you, that whatever he was asked he would
refuse to answer, and try 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 a person what numbers make up twelve,
taking care to prohibit him whom you ask from answering
twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four times
three, "for this sort of nonsense will not do for me"--then
obviously, if that is your way of putting the question, no one
can answer you. But suppose that he were to retort: "Thra-
symachus, what do you mean? If one of these numbers which
you interdict be the true answer to the question, am I falsely
to say some other number which is not the right one?--is that
your 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 to be so to the person who is asked, ought he
not to say what he thinks, whether you and I forbid him or not?

  I presume then that you are going to make one of the inter-
dicted answers?

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

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

  Done to me!--as becomes the ignorant, I must learn from
the wise--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, Thrasyma-
chus, need be under no anxiety about money, for we will all
make a contribution for Socrates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  That's abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in
the sense which is most damaging to the argument.

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

  Well, he said, have you never heard that forms of govern-
ment differ--there are tyrannies, 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 demo-
cratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several
interests; and these laws, which are made by them for their
own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their sub-
jects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker
of the law, and unjust. And that is what I mean when I say
that in all States there is the same principle of justice, which
is the interest of the government; and as the government must
be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusion is
that everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the
interest of the stronger.

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

  A small addition, you must allow, he said.

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


  I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for sub-
jects to obey their rulers?

  I do.

  But are the rulers of States absolutely infallible, or are they
sometimes liable to err?

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

  Then in making their laws they may sometimes make them
rightly, and sometimes not?


  When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably
to their interest; when they are mistaken, contrary to their in-
terest; you admit that?


  And the laws which they make must be obeyed by their sub-
jects--and that is what you call justice?


  Then justice, according to your argument, is not only obedi-
ence to the interest of 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: Have we not admitted that the rulers may be
mistaken about their own interest in what they command, and
also that to obey them is justice? Has not that been admitted?


  Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for
the interest of the stronger, when the rulers unintentionally
command things to be done which are to their own injury. For
if, as you say, justice is the obedience which the subject renders
to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men, is there any
escape from the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to
do, not what is for the 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 himself acknowledges that rulers may some-
time command what is not for their own interest, and that for
subjects to obey them is justice.

  Yes, Polemarchus--Thrasymachus said that for subjects to
do what was commanded 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 the stronger may command the
weaker who are his subjects to do what is not for his own inter-
est; whence follows that justice is the injury quite as much as
the interest of the stronger.

  But, said Cleitophon, he meant by the interest of the stronger
what the stronger 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 his statement. Tell me, Thrasymachus, I said, did you
mean by justice what the stronger thought to be his interest,
whether really so or not?

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

  Yes, I said, my impression was that you did so, when you
admitted that the ruler was not infallible, but might be some-
times mistaken.

  You argue like an informer, Socrates. Do you mean, for
example, that he who is mistaken about the sick is a physician
in that he is mistaken? or that he who errs in arithmetic or
grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian at the time when
he is making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True, we
say that the physician or arithmetician or grammarian has made
a mistake, but this is only a way of speaking; for the fact is that
neither the grammarian nor any other person 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 be skilled artists. No artist or sage or ruler errs at the
time when he is what his name implies; though he is commonly
said to err, and I adopted the common mode of speaking. But
to be perfectly accurate, since you are such a lover of accuracy,
we should say that the ruler, in so far as he is a ruler, is unerr-
ing, and, being unerring, always commands that which is for
his own interest; and the subject is required to execute his com-
mands; 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 de-
sign of injuring you in the argument?

  Nay, he replied, "suppose" is not the word--I know it; but
you will 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
misunderstanding occurring between us in future, let me ask,
in what sense do you speak of a ruler or stronger whose inter-
est, as you were saying, he being the superior, it is just that
the inferior should execute--is he a ruler in the popular or in
the strict sense of the term?

  In the strictest of all senses, he said. And now cheat and
play the informer if you 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

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

  A healer of the sick, he replied.

  And the pilot--that is to say, the true pilot--is he a captain
of sailors 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 is distinguished has nothing to do with sailing,
but is significant of his skill and 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
nothing else?

  What do you mean?

  I mean what I may illustrate negatively by the example of the
body. Suppose you were 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 is the origin and intention of medicine, as you will ac-
knowledge. Am I not right?

  Quite right, he replied.

  But is the art of medicine or any other art faulty or deficient
in any quality in the same way that the eye may be deficient in
sight or the ear fail of hearing, and therefore requires another
art to provide for the interests of seeing and hearing--has art
in itself, I say, any similar liability to fault or defect, and does
every art require another supplementary art to provide for its
interests, and that another and another without end? Or have
the arts to look only after their own interests? Or have they no
need either of themselves or of another?--having no faults or
defects, they have no need to correct them, either by the exer-
cise of their own art or of any other; they have only to consider
the interest of their subject-matter. For every art remains
pure and faultless while remaining true--that is to say, while
perfect and unimpaired. Take the words in your precise sense,
and tell me whether I am not right.

  Yes, clearly.

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

  True, he said.

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

  True, he said.

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

  To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.

  Then, I said, no science or art considers or enjoins the inter-
est of the stronger 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 his own good in what he prescribes, but the good of
his patient; for the true physician is also a ruler having the
human body as a subject, and is not a mere money-maker; that
has been admitted?


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

  That has been admitted.

  And such a pilot and ruler will provide and prescribe for the
interest of the sailor 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 is a ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his
own interest, but always what is for the interest of his subject
or suitable to his art; to that he looks, and that alone he con-
siders in everything which he says and does.

  When we had got to this point in the argument, and every-
one saw that the definition of justice had been completely upset,
Thrasymachus, instead of replying to me, said, Tell me, Soc-
rates, 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 even taught you to know the shepherd from the

  What makes you say that? I replied.

  Because you fancy that the shepherd or neatherd fattens or
tends the sheep or oxen with a view to their own good and not
to the good of himself or his master; and you further imagine
that the rulers of States, if they are true rulers, never think of
their subjects as sheep, and that they are not studying their
own advantage day and night. Oh, no; and so entirely astray
are you in your ideas about the just and unjust as not even to
know that justice and the just are in reality another's good;
that is to say, the interest of the ruler and stronger, and the
loss of the subject and servant; and injustice the opposite; for
the unjust is lord over the truly simple and just: he is the
stronger, and his subjects do what is for his interest, and min-
ister to his happiness, which is very far from being their own.
Consider further, most foolish Socrates, that the just is always
a loser in comparison with the unjust. First of all, in private
contracts: wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you
will find that, when the partnership is dissolved, the unjust
man has always more and the just less. Secondly, in their
dealings with the State: when there is an income-tax, the just
man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of
income; and when there is anything to be received the one gains
nothing and the other much. Observe also what happens when
they take an office; there is the just man neglecting his affairs
and perhaps suffering other losses, and getting nothing out of
the public, because he is just; moreover he is hated by his
friends and acquaintance for refusing to serve them in unlaw-
ful ways. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjust
man. I am speaking, as before, of injustice on a large scale
in which the advantage of the unjust is most apparent; and my
meaning will be most clearly seen if we turn to that highest
form of injustice in which the criminal is the happiest of men,
and the sufferers or those who refuse to do injustice are the
most miserable--that is to say tyranny, which by fraud and
force takes away the property of others, not little by little but
wholesale; comprehending in one, things sacred as well as pro-
fane, private and public; for which acts of wrong, if he were
detected perpetrating any one of them singly, he would be pun-
ished and incur great disgrace--they who do such wrong in
particular cases are called robbers of temples, and man-stealers
and burglars and swindlers and thieves. But when a man be-
sides taking away the money of the citizens has made slaves of
them, then, instead of these names of reproach, he is termed
happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by all who hear
of his having achieved the consummation of injustice. For
mankind censure injustice, fearing that they may be the vic-
tims of it and not because they shrink from committing it.
And thus, as I have shown, Socrates, injustice, when on a suffi-
cient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than
justice; and, as I said at first, justice is the interest of the
stronger, whereas injustice is a man's own profit and interest.

  Thrasymachus, when he had thus spoken, having, like a bath-
man, deluged our ears 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 added my
own humble request that he would not leave us. Thrasyma-
chus, I said to him, excellent man, how suggestive are your re-
marks! And are you going to run away before you have fairly
taught or learned whether they are true or not? Is the attempt
to determine the way of man's life so small a matter in your
eyes--to determine how life may be passed by each one of us
to the greatest advantage?

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

  You appear rather, I replied, to have no care or thought
about us, Thrasymachus--whether we live better or worse
from not knowing what you say you know, is to you a matter
of indifference. Prithee, friend, do not keep your knowledge
to yourself; we are a large party; and any benefit which you
confer upon us will be amply rewarded. For my own part I
openly declare that I am not convinced, and that I do not be-
lieve injustice to be more gainful than justice, even if uncon-
trolled and allowed to have free play. For, granting that there
may be an unjust man who is able to commit injustice either
by fraud or force, 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 we may be wrong;
if so, you in your wisdom should convince us that we are mis-
taken in preferring justice to injustice.

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

  Heaven forbid! I said; I would only ask you to be consistent;
or, if you change, change openly and let there be no deception.
For I must remark, Thrasymachus, if you will recall what was
previously said, that although you began by defining the true
physician in an exact sense, you did not observe a like exact-
ness when speaking of the shepherd; you thought that the
shepherd as a shepherd tends the sheep not with a view to their
own good, but like a mere diner or banqueter with a view to
the pleasures of the table; or, again, as a trader for sale in the
market, and not as a shepherd. Yet surely the art of the shep-
herd is concerned only with the good of his subjects; he has
only to provide the best for them, since the perfection of the art
is already insured whenever all the requirements of it are satis-
fied. And that was what I was saying just now about the ruler.
I conceived that the art of the ruler, considered as a ruler,
whether in a State or in private life, could only regard the good
of his flock or subjects; whereas you seem to think that the
rulers in States, that is to say, the true rulers, like being in

  Think! Nay, I am sure of it.

  Then why in the case of lesser offices do men never take them
willingly without payment, unless under the idea that they
govern for the advantage not of themselves but of others? Let
me ask you a question: Are not the several arts different, by
reason of their each having a separate function? And, my
dear illustrious 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
general one--medicine, for example, gives us health; naviga-
tion, safety at sea, and so on?

  Yes, he said.

  And the art of payment has the special function of giving
pay: but we do not confuse this with other arts, any more than
the art of the pilot is to be confused with the art of medicine,
because the health of the pilot may be improved by a sea voy-
age. You would not be inclined to say, would you? that navi-
gation is the art of medicine, at least if we are to adopt your
exact use of language?

  Certainly not.

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

  I should not.

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

  Certainly not.

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


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

  True, he replied.

  And when the artist is benefited by receiving pay the ad-
vantage is gained by an additional 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 of the 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 which
they preside, but would the artist receive any benefit from his
art unless he were paid as well?

  I suppose not.

  But does he therefore confer no benefit when he works for

  Certainly, he confers a benefit.

  Then now, Thrasymachus, there is no longer any doubt that
neither arts nor governments provide for their own interests;
but, as we were before saying, they rule and provide for the
interests of their subjects who are the weaker and not the
stronger--to their good they attend and not to the good of the

  And this is the reason, my dear Thrasymachus, why,
as I was just now saying, no one is willing to govern; because
no one likes to take in hand the reformation of evils which
are not his concern, without remuneration. For, in the execu-
tion of his work, and in giving his orders to another, the true
artist does not regard his own interest, but always that of his
subjects; and therefore in order that rulers may be willing to
rule, they must be paid in one of three modes of payment,
money, or honor, or a penalty for refusing.

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

  You mean that you do not understand the nature of this pay-
ment which to the best men is the great inducement to rule?
Of course you know that ambition and avarice are held to be,
as indeed they are, a disgrace?

  Very true.

  And for this reason, I said, money and honor have no attrac-
tion for them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding
payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor
by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get
the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care
about honor. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them,
and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment.
And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to
take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been
deemed dishonorable. Now the worst part of the punishment
is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is
worse than himself. And the fear of this, as I conceive, in-
duces the good to take office, not because they would, but be-
cause they cannot help--not under the idea that they are going
to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity,
and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to
anyone who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For
there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely
of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object
of contention as to obtain office is at present; then we should
have plain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to
regard his own interest, but that of his subjects; and everyone
who knew this would choose rather to receive a benefit from
another than to have the trouble of conferring one. So far
am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that justice is the in-
terest of the stronger. This latter question need not be further
discussed at present; but when Thrasymachus says that the
life of the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just,
his new statement appears to me to be of a far more serious
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 ad-
vantageous, he answered.

  Did you hear all the advantages of the unjust which Thra-
symachus was rehearsing?

  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 is saying what is not true?

  Most certainly, he replied.

  If, I said, he makes a set speech and we make another re-
counting all the advantages of being just, and he answers and
we rejoin, there must be a numbering and measuring of the
goods which are claimed on either side, and in the end we shall
want judges to decide; but if we proceed in our inquiry as we
lately did, by making admissions to one another, we shall unite
the offices of judge 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 answer me. 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 the other vice?


  I suppose that you would call justice virtue and injustice

  What a charming notion! So likely too, seeing that I affirm
injustice to be profitable 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 imagine me to be talking of cut-

  Even this profession, if undetected, has advantages,
though they are not to be compared with those of which I was
just now speaking.

  I do not think that I misapprehend your meaning, Thrasym-
achus, I replied; but still I cannot hear without amazement
that you class injustice with wisdom and virtue, and justice
with the opposite.

  Certainly I do so class them.

  Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unan-
swerable ground; for if the injustice which you were maintain-
ing to be profitable had been admitted by you as by others to
be vice and deformity, an answer might have been given to
you on received principles; but now I perceive that you will
call injustice honorable and strong, and to the unjust you will
attribute all the qualities which were attributed by us before
to the just, seeing that you do not hesitate to 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 so long as I have reason to think that you,
Thrasymachus, are speaking your real mind; for I do believe
that you are now in earnest and are not amusing yourself at
our expense.

  I may be in earnest or not, but what is that to you?--to refute
the argument is your business.

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

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

  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; would that be considered by him as just or

  He would think it just, and would try to gain the advantage;
but he would not be able.

  Whether he would or would not be able, I said, is not to the
point. My question is only whether the just man, while refus-
ing to have more than another just man, 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 and to 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 just man or 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 his like, but more than his unlike, whereas the un-
just desires more than both his like 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 a certain 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: you would 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

  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 lyre would desire or claim to exceed or go be-
yond a musician in the tightening and loosening 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 would he 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 any man who has knowledge ever would wish to
have the choice of saying or doing more than another man who
has knowledge. Would he not rather say or do the same as 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 the knowing 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 more than his unlike and opposite?

  I suppose so.

  Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than


  But did we not say, Thrasymachus, that the unjust goes be-
yond both his like and unlike? 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 and ignorant?

  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 and ignorant.

  Thrasymachus made all these admissions, not fluently, as I
repeat them, but with extreme reluctance; it was a hot sum-
mer's day, and the perspiration poured 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 and
wisdom, and injustice vice and ignorance, I proceeded to an-
other point:

  Well, I said, Thrasymachus, that matter is now settled; but
were we not also saying that injustice had strength--do you

  Yes, I remember, he said, but do not suppose that I approve
of what you are saying or have no answer; if, however, I were
to answer, you would be quite certain to accuse me of harangu-
ing; therefore either permit me to have my say out, or if you
would rather ask, do so, and I will answer "Very good," as
they say to story-telling old women, and will nod "Yes" and

  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 else would you have?

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


  Then I will repeat the question which I asked before, in order
that our examination of the relative nature of justice and in-
justice may be carried on regularly. A statement was made
that injustice is stronger and more powerful than justice, but
now justice, having been identified with wisdom and virtue,
is easily shown to be stronger than injustice, if injustice is ig-
norance; this can no longer be questioned by anyone. But I
want to view the matter, Thrasymachus, in a different way:
You would not deny that a State may be unjust and may be
unjustly attempting to enslave other States, or may have already
enslaved them, and may be holding many of them in subjection?

  True, he replied; and I will add that the best and most per-
fectly unjust State will be most likely to do so.

  I know, I said, that such was your position; but what I would
further consider is, whether this power which is possessed by
the superior State can exist or be exercised 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 excel-

  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 together better?


  And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds
and fighting, and justice 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, wher-
ever existing, among slaves or among freemen, will not make
them hate one another and set them at variance and render 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 that she loses or that she retains her natural

  Let us assume that she retains her power.

  Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a
nature that wherever she takes up her abode, whether in a city,
in an army, in a family, or in any other body, that body is, to
begin with, rendered incapable of united action by reason of
sedition and distraction? and does it not become its own enemy
and at variance 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 the first place rendering him incapable of action
because he is not at unity with himself, 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 their friends?

  Feast away in triumph, and take your fill of the argument;
I will not oppose you, lest I should displease the company.
Well, then, proceed with your answers, and let me have the
remainder of my repast. For we have already shown that the
just are clearly wiser and better and 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 time vig-
orously together, is not strictly true, for, if they had been per-
fectly evil, they would have laid hands upon one another; but
it is evident that there must have been some remnant of justice
in them, which enabled them to combine; if there had not been
they would have injured one another as well as their victims;
they were but half-villains in their enterprises; for had they
been whole villains, and utterly unjust, they would have been
utterly incapable of action. That, as I believe, is the truth of
the matter, and not what you said at first. But whether the just
have a better and happier life than the unjust is a further
question which we also proposed to consider. I think that
they have, and for the reasons which I have given; but still
I should like to examine further, for no light matter is at stake,
nothing less than the rule of human life.


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

  I should.

  And the end or use of a horse or of anything would be that
which could not be accomplished, 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 many other ways?

  Of course.

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


  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 understand-
ing my meaning when I asked the question whether the end
of anything would be that which could not be accomplished, 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 again whether 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 a special excellence?

  That is so.

  Well, and can the eyes fulfil their end if they are wanting in
their own proper excellence 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; but I have not arrived at that point yet. I
would rather ask the question more generally, and only inquire
whether the things which fulfil their ends fulfil them by their
own proper excellence, and fail of fulfilling them by their own

  Certainly, he replied.

  I might say the same of the ears; when deprived of their own
proper excellence they 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 deliber-
ate and the like. Are not these functions proper 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 that excellence?

  She cannot.

  Then an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler and super-
intendent, and the good soul a good ruler?

  Yes, necessarily.

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

  That has been admitted.

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

  That is what your argument proves.

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


  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 than justice.

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

  For which I am indebted to you, I said, now that you have
grown gentle toward me and have left off scolding. Never-
theless, I have not been well entertained; but that was my own
fault and not yours. As an epicure snatches a taste of every
dish which is successively brought to table, he not having al-
lowed himself time to enjoy the one before, so have I gone from
one subject to another without having discovered what I sought
at first, the nature of justice. I left that inquiry and turned
away to consider whether justice is virtue and wisdom, or evil
and folly; and when there arose a further question about the
comparative advantages of justice and injustice, I could not re-
frain from passing on to that. And the result of the whole
discussion has been that I know nothing at all. For I know not
what justice is, and therefore I am not likely to know whether
it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is
happy or unhappy.

                      BOOK II


  WITH these words I was thinking that I had made an
end of the discussion; but the end, in truth, proved
to be only a beginning. For Glaucon, who is always
the most pugnacious of men, was dissatisfied at Thrasyma-
chus's retirement; he wanted to have the battle out. So he
said to me: Socrates, do you wish really to persuade us, or
only to seem to have persuaded us, that to be just is always
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 you arrange goods--are there not some
which we welcome for their own sakes, and independently of
their consequences, as, for example, harmless pleasures and
enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although nothing
follows from them?

  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 gym-
nastic, and the care of the sick, and the physician's art; also
the various ways of money-making--these do us good but we
regard them as disagreeable; and no one would choose them
for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or
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 be happy 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 in the troublesome class, among goods which
are to be pursued for the sake of rewards and of reputation,
but in themselves are disagreeable and rather to be avoided.

  I know, I said, that this is their manner of thinking, and that
this was the thesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just
now, when he censured justice and 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 see whether you and I agree. For Thrasymachus
seems to me, like a snake, to have been charmed by your voice
sooner than he ought to have been; but to my mind the nature
of justice and injustice has not yet been made clear. Setting
aside their rewards and results, I want to know what they are
in themselves, and how they inwardly work in the soul. If
you please, then, I will revive the argument of Thrasymachus.
And first I will speak of the nature and origin of justice accord-
ing to the common view of them. Secondly, I will show that
all men who practise justice do so against their will, of neces-
sity, but not as a good. And thirdly, I will argue that there
is reason in this view, for the life of the unjust is after all better
far than the life of the just--if what they say is true, Socrates,
since I myself am not of their opinion. But still I acknowledge
that I am perplexed when I hear the voices of Thrasymachus
and myriads of others dinning in my ears; and, on the other
hand, I have never yet heard the superiority of justice to injus-
tice maintained by anyone in a satisfactory way. I want to hear
justice praised in respect of itself; then I shall be satisfied, and
you are the person from whom I think that I am most likely to
hear this; and therefore I will praise the unjust life to the ut-
most of my power, and my manner of speaking will indicate the
manner in which I desire to hear you too praising justice and
censuring injustice. Will you say whether you approve of my

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

  I am delighted, he replied, to hear you say so, and shall begin
by speaking, as I 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 and suffered injustice and have
had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and
obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among
themselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and mutual
covenants; and that which is ordained by law is termed by them
lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature
of justice; it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all,
which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst
of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retalia-
tion; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is
tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honored by
reason of the inability of men to do injustice. For no man
who is worthy to be called a man would ever submit to such
an agreement if he were able to resist; he would be mad if he
did. Such is the received account, Socrates, of the nature and
origin of justice.

  Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and
because they have not the power to be unjust will best appear if
we imagine something of this kind: 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
in the 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 only diverted into the path of justice
by the force of law. The liberty which we are supposing may
be most completely given to them in the form of such a power
as is said to have been possessed by Gyges, the ancestor of Croe-
sus the Lydian. According to the tradition, Gyges was a
shepherd in the service of the King of Lydia; there was a great
storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the
place where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he
descended into the opening, where, among other marvels, he
beheld a hollow brazen horse, having doors, at which he, stoop-
ing 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 met together, according to custom, that they
might send their monthly report about the flocks to the King;
into their assembly he came having the ring on his finger, and
as he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the collet of
the ring inside his hand, when instantly he became invisible
to the rest of the company and they began to speak of him as if
he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and
again touching the ring he turned the collet outward and re-
appeared; he made several trials of the ring, and always with
the same result--when he turned the collet inward he became
invisible, when outward he reappeared. Whereupon he con-
trived to be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the
court; where as soon as he arrived he seduced the Queen, and
with her help conspired against the King and slew him and took
the kingdom. Suppose now that there were two such magic
rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;
no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he
would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands
off what was not his own when he could safely take what he
liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with anyone
at his pleasure, or kill or release 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 would
both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly
affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or
because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually,
but of necessity, for wherever anyone thinks that he can safely
be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their
hearts 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. If you could imagine anyone obtaining
this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong
or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the
lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would
praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with
one another from a fear that 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, we must isolate them; there is no other way;
and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the
unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just;
nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are
to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives.
First, let the unjust be like other distinguished masters of craft;
like the skilful pilot or physician, 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 the unjust make
his unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means
to be great in his injustice (he who is found out is nobody):
for the highest reach of injustice is, to be deemed just when
you are not. Therefore I say that in the perfectly unjust man
we must assume the most perfect injustice; there is to be no
deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust
acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If
he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself;
he must be one who can speak with effect, if any of his deeds
come to light, and who can force his way where force is re-
quired by his courage and strength, and command of money
and friends. And at his side let us place the just man in his
nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as AEschylus says, to be and
not to seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seem
to be just he will be honored and rewarded, and then we shall
not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the
sake of honor and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in jus-
tice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined
in a state of life the opposite of 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 be
affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let
him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming
to be unjust. When both have reached 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 the decision, 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 no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which
awaits either of them. This I will proceed to describe; but as
you may think the description a little too coarse, I ask you to
suppose, Socrates, that the words which follow are not mine.
Let me put them into the mouths of the eulogists of injustice:
They will 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 every kind of evil, he will be impaled.
Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not
to be, just; the words of AEschylus may be more truly spoken
of the unjust than of the just. For the unjust is pursuing a
reality; he does not live with a view to appearances--he wants
to be really unjust and not to seem only--

  "His mind has a soil deep and fertile,
   Out of which spring his prudent counsels."

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 can trade and deal where he likes, and
always to his own advantage, because he has no misgivings
about injustice; and at every contest, whether in public or pri-
vate, he gets the better of his antagonists, and gains at their
expense, and is rich, and out of his gains he can benefit his
friends, and harm his enemies; moreover, he can offer sacri-
fices, and dedicate gifts to the gods abundantly and magnifi-
cently, and can honor the gods or any man whom he wants to
honor in a far better style than the just, and therefore he is
likely to be dearer than they are to the gods. And thus, Soc-
rates, gods and men are said to unite in 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, his brother, interposed: Socrates, he said, you
do not suppose that there is nothing more to be urged?

  Why, what else is there? I answered.

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

  Well, then, according to the proverb, "Let brother help
brother"--if he fails in any part, do you assist him; although
I must confess that Glaucon has already said quite enough to
lay me in the dust, and take from me the power of helping

  Nonsense, he replied. But let me add something more:
There is another side to Glaucon'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 his meaning. Parents
and tutors are always telling their sons and their wards that
they are to be just; but why? not for the sake of justice, but
for the sake of character and reputation; in the hope of obtain-
ing for him who is reputed just some of those offices, marriages,
and the like which Glaucon has enumerated among the ad-
vantages accruing to the unjust from the reputation of justice.
More, however, is made of appearances by this class of persons
than by the others; for they throw in the good opinion of the
gods, and will tell you of a shower of benefits which the heavens,
as they say, rain upon the pious; and this accords with the tes-
timony of the noble Hesiod and Homer, the first of whom says
that the gods make the oaks of the just--

  "To bear acorns at their summit, and bees in the middle;
   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 a very 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 bowed with fruit,
   And his sheep never fail to bear, and the sea gives him fish."

Still grander are the gifts of heaven which Musaeus and his
son vouchsafe to the just; they take them down into the world
below, where they have the saints lying on couches at a feast,
everlastingly drunk, crowned with garlands; their idea seems
to be that an immortality of drunkenness is the highest meed
of virtue. Some extend their rewards yet further; the pos-
terity, as they say, of the faithful and just shall survive to the
third and fourth generation. This is the style in which they
praise justice. But about the wicked there is another strain;
they bury them in a slough in Hades, and make them carry
water in a sieve; also while they are yet living they bring them
to infamy, and inflict upon them the punishments which Glau-
con described as the portion of the just who are reputed to be
unjust; nothing else does their invention supply. Such is their
manner of praising the one and censuring the other.

  Once more, Socrates, I will ask you to consider another way
of speaking about justice and injustice, which is not confined
to the poets, but is found in prose writers. The universal voice
of mankind is always declaring that justice and virtue are
honorable, but grievous and toilsome; and that the pleasures
of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are only cen-
sured by law and opinion. They say also that honesty is for
the most part less profitable than dishonesty; and they are quite
ready to call wicked men happy, and to honor them both in pub-
lic and private when they are rich or in any other way influen-
tial, while they despise and overlook those who may be weak
and poor, even though acknowledging them to be better than
the others. But most extraordinary of all is their mode of
speaking about virtue and the gods: they say that the gods ap-
portion calamity and misery to many good men, and good and
happiness to the wicked. And mendicant prophets go to rich
men's doors and persuade them that they have a power com-
mitted to them by the gods of making an atonement for a man's
own or his ancestor's sins by sacrifices or charms, with rejoic-
ings and feasts; and they promise to harm an enemy, whether
just or unjust, at a small cost; with magic arts and incantations
binding heaven, as they say, to execute their will. And the
poets are the authorities to whom they appeal, now smoothing
the path of vice with the words of Hesiod:

  "Vice may be had in abundance without trouble; the way is smooth
   and her dwelling-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 may be influenced by men; for he also says:

  "The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to
   them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by
   libations and the odor of fat, when they have sinned and trangressed."

And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Or-
pheus, who were children of the Moon and the muses--that is
what they say--according to which they perform their ritual,
and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expia-
tions and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and
amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the
service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mys-
teries, and they redeem us from 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 re-
gard them, how are their minds likely to be affected, my dear
Socrates--those of them, I mean, who are quick-witted, and,
like bees on the wing, light on every flower, and from all that
they hear are prone to draw conclusions as to what manner of
persons they should be and in what way they should walk if
they would make the best of life? Probably the youth will say
to himself in the words of Pindar:

  "Can I by justice or by crooked ways of deceit ascend a loftier tower
   which 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 just, profit there is none, but the pain and loss on the
other hand are unmistakable. But if, though unjust, I acquire
the reputation of justice, a heavenly life is promised to me.
Since then, as philosophers prove, appearance tyrannizes over
truth and is lord of happiness, to appearance I must devote
myself. I will describe around me a picture and shadow of
virtue to be the vestibule and exterior of my house; behind I
will trail the subtle and crafty fox, as Archilochus, greatest of
sages, recommends. But I hear someone exclaiming that the
concealment of wickedness is often difficult; to which I answer,
Nothing great is easy. Nevertheless, the argument indicates
this, if we would be happy, to be the path along which we
should proceed. With a view to concealment we will establish
secret brotherhoods and political clubs. And there are profes-
sors of rhetoric who teach the art of persuading courts and
assemblies; and so, partly by persuasion and partly by force,
I shall make unlawful gains and not be punished. Still I hear
a voice saying that the gods cannot be deceived, neither can
they be compelled. But what if there are no gods? or, suppose
them to have no care of human things--why in either case
should we mind about concealment? And even if there are
gods, and they do care about us, yet we know of them only
from tradition and the genealogies of the poets; and these are
the very persons who say that they may be influenced and
turned by "sacrifices and soothing entreaties and by offerings."
Let us be consistent, then, and believe both or neither. If the
poets speak truly, 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 shall lose the gains of in-
justice; but, if we are unjust, we shall keep the gains, and by
our sinning and praying, and praying and sinning, the gods
will be propitiated, and we shall not be punished. "But there
is a world below in which 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 the chil-
dren of the gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like

  On what principle, then, shall we any longer choose justice
rather than the worst injustice? when, if we only unite the lat-
ter with a deceitful regard to appearances, we shall fare to our
mind both with gods and men, in life and after death, as the
most numerous and the highest authorities tell us. Knowing
all this, Socrates, how can a man who has any superiority of
mind or person or rank or wealth, be willing to honor justice;
or indeed to refrain from laughing when he hears justice
praised? And even if there should be someone who is able to
disprove the truth of my words, and who is satisfied that justice
is best, still he is not angry with the unjust, but is very ready
to forgive them, because he also knows that men are not just
of their own free will; unless, peradventure, there be someone
whom the divinity within him may have inspired with a hatred
of injustice, or who has attained knowledge of the truth--but
no other man. He only blames injustice, who, owing to cow-
ardice or age or some weakness, has not the power of being
unjust. And this is proved by the fact that when he obtains
the power, he immediately becomes unjust as far as he can be.

  The cause of all this, Socrates, was indicated by us at the
beginning of the argument, when my brother and I told you
how astonished we were to find that of all the professing pan-
egyrists of justice--beginning with the ancient heroes of whom
any memorial has been preserved to us, and ending with the
men of our own time--no one has ever blamed injustice or
praised justice except with a view to the glories, honors, and
benefits which flow from them. No one has ever adequately de-
scribed either in verse or prose the true essential nature of either
of them abiding in the soul, and invisible to any human or divine
eye; or shown that of all the things of a man's soul which he has
within him, justice is the greatest good, and injustice the great-
est evil. Had this been the universal strain, had you sought to
persuade us of this from our youth upward, we should not have
been on the watch to keep one another from doing wrong, but
everyone would have been his own watchman, because afraid,
if he did wrong, of harboring in himself the greatest of evils.
I dare say that Thrasymachus and others would seriously hold
the language which I have been merely repeating, and words
even stronger than these about justice and injustice, grossly,
as I conceive, perverting their true nature. 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 show not only the superiority which justice has over injus-
tice, but what effect they have on the possessor of them which
makes the one to be a good and the other an evil 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 the false, 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 that you really agree with Thra-
symachus in thinking that justice is another's good and the in-
terest of the stronger, and that injustice is a man's own profit
and interest, though injurious to the weaker. Now as you
have admitted that justice is one of that highest class of goods
which are desired, indeed, for their results, but in a far greater
degree for their own sakes--like sight or hearing or knowledge
or health, or any other real and natural and not merely conven-
tional good--I would ask you in your praise of justice to regard
one point only: I mean the essential good and evil which justice
and injustice work in the possessors of them. Let others praise
justice and censure injustice, magnifying the rewards and
honors of the one and abusing the other; that is a manner of
arguing which, coming from them, I am ready to tolerate, but
from you who have spent your whole life in the consideration
of this question, unless I hear 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 show what
they either of them do to the possessor of them, which makes
the one to be a good and the other an evil, whether seen or un-
seen by gods and men.

  I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeiman-
tus, but on hearing these words I was quite delighted, and said:
Sons of an illustrious father, that was not a bad beginning of
the elegiac verses which the admirer of Glaucon made in honor
of you after you had distinguished yourselves at the battle of

  "Sons of Ariston," he sang, "divine offspring of an illustrious hero."

The epithet is very appropriate, for there is something truly
divine in being able to argue as you have done for the supe-
riority of injustice, and remaining unconvinced by your own
arguments. And I do believe that you are not convinced--
this I infer from your general character, for had I judged only
from your speeches I should have mistrusted you. But now,
the greater my confidence in you, the greater is my difficulty in
knowing what to say. For I am in a strait between two; on
the one hand I feel that I am unequal to the task; and my ina-
bility is brought home to me by the fact that you were not sat-
isfied with the answer which I made to Thrasymachus, proving,
as I thought, the superiority which justice has over injustice.
And yet I cannot refuse to help, while breath and speech remain
to me; I am afraid that there would be an impiety in being
present when justice is evil spoken of and not lifting up a hand
in her defence. And therefore I had best give such help as I

  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 relative advantages.
I told them, what I really thought, that the inquiry would be
of a serious nature, and would require very good eyes. Seeing
then, I said, that we are no great wits, I think that we had bet-
ter adopt a method which I may illustrate thus; suppose that
a short-sighted person had been asked by someone to read small
letters from a distance; and it occurred to someone else that
they might be found in another place which was larger and in
which the letters were larger--if they were the same and he
could read the larger letters first, and then proceed to the lesser
--this would have been thought a rare piece of good-fortune.

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

  I will tell you, I replied; justice, which is the subject of our
inquiry, is, as you know, sometimes spoken of as the virtue of
an individual, and sometimes as 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 more easily discernible. I propose therefore that we in-
quire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear
in the State, and secondly in the individual, 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 justice and injustice of the State in process of creation

  I dare say.

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

  Yes, far more easily.

  But ought we to attempt to construct one? I said; for to do
so, as I am inclined to think, will be a very serious task. Re-
flect 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 man-
kind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants.
Can any other origin of a State be imagined?

  There can be no other.

  Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed
to supply them, one takes a helper for one purpose and another
for another; and when these partners and helpers are gathered
together in one habitation the body of inhabitants is termed a

  True, he said.

  And they exchange with one another, and one gives, and an-
other receives, under the 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 creator is 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 of life 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: We may suppose that one man is a husband-
man, another a builder, someone else a weaver--shall we add
to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to 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 labors into a common stock?--the individual husbandman,
for example, producing for four, and laboring four times as
long and as much as he need in the provision of food with
which he supplies others as well as himself; or will he have
nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing
for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in
a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of his
time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes,
having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his
own wants?

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

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

  Very true.

  And will you have a work better done when the workman
has many occupations, or when 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 right time?

  No doubt.

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

  He must.

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

  Then more than four citizens will be required; for the hus-
bandman will not make his own plough or mattock, or other
implements of agriculture, if they are to be good for anything.
Neither will the builder make his tools--and he, too, needs
many; and in like manner the weaver and shoemaker.


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


  Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herds-
men, in order that our husbandmen may have oxen to plough
with, and builders as well as husbandmen may have draught
cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and hides--still our
State will not be very large.

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

  Then, again, there is the situation of the city--to find a place
where nothing need be imported is well-nigh impossible.


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

  There must.

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

  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 their wants 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


  Then we shall want merchants?

  We shall.

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

  Yes, in considerable numbers.

  Then, again, within the city, how will they exchange their
productions? To secure such an exchange was, as you will
remember, one of our principal objects when 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 he to leave his calling and sit idle
in the market-place?

  Not at all; he will find people there who, seeing the want,
undertake the office of salesmen. In well-ordered States they
are commonly those who are the weakest 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
to those 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
the market-place engaged in buying and selling, while those
who wander from one city to another are called merchants?

  Yes, he said.

  And there is another class of servants, who are intellectually
hardly on the level of companionship; still they have plenty of
bodily strength for labor, 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 labor.


  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 State did they spring up?

  Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another.
I cannot imagine that 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 think the matter out, and not shrink from the

  Let us then consider, first of all, what will be their way of
life, now that we have 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 will work,
in summer, commonly, stripped and barefoot, but in winter
substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal
and flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble
cakes and loaves; these they will serve up on a mat of reeds
or on clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds
strewn with yew or myrtle. And they and their children will
feast, drinking of the wine which they have made, wearing
garlands on their heads, and hymning the praises of the gods,
in happy converse with one another. And they will take care
that their families do not exceed their means; having an eye
to poverty or war.

  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 country people prepare; for a dessert we
shall give them figs and peas and beans; and they 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 good old 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 else would you feed the beasts?

  But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.

  Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conven-
iences of life. People who are to be comfortable are accus-
tomed 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 consider is, not only how a State, but how a luxurious
State is created; and possibly there is no harm in this, for in
such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and in-
justice originate. In my opinion the true and healthy consti-
tution of the State is the one which I have described. But if
you wish also to see a State at fever-heat, I have no objection.
For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler
way of life. They will be for adding sofas and tables and other
furniture; also dainties and perfumes and incense and courte-
sans and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every
variety. We must go beyond the necessaries of which I was
at first speaking, such as houses and clothes and shoes; the arts
of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion,
and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.

  True, he said.

  Then we must enlarge our borders; for the original healthy
State is no longer sufficient. Now will the city have to fill and
swell with a multitude of callings which are not required by
any natural want; such as the whole tribe of hunters and actors,
of whom one large class have to do with forms and colors;
another will be the votaries of music--poets and their attendant
train of rhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors; also makers
of divers kinds of articles, including women's dresses. And
we shall want more servants. Will not tutors be also in re-
quest, and nurses wet and dry, tirewomen and barbers, as well
as confectioners and cooks; and swineherds, too, who were not
needed and therefore had no place in the former edition of our
State, but are needed now? They must not be forgotten: and
there will be animals of many other kinds, if people eat them.


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

  Much greater.

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

  Quite true.

  Then a slice of our neighbors' land will be wanted by us for
pasture and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like
ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity, and give them-
selves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth?

  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 may affirm, that now we have discovered
war to be derived from causes which are also 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 be nothing short of a whole army, which will
have to go out and fight with the invaders for all that we have,
as well as for the things and persons whom we were describing

  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 all of us when we were framing the State.
The principle, as you will remember, was that 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 husband-
man, or a weaver, or a builder--in order that we might have
our shoes well made; but to him and to 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; he was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would
become a good workman. Now nothing can be more impor-
tant than that the work of a soldier should be well done. But
is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior
who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan; al-
though no one in the world would be a good dice or draught
player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had
not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing

  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 never bestowed any attention upon them.
How, then, will he who takes up a shield or other implement
of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy-
armed or any other kind of troops?

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

  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 the task of guarding the city?

  It will.

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

  We must.

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

  What do you mean?

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

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

  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 any other animal? Have you never observed how
invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of
it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and

  I have.

  Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities
which are required in the 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 with everybody else?

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

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

  True, he said.

  What is to be done, then? I said; how shall we find a gentle
nature which has also a great spirit, for the one is the contra-
diction 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 must infer 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 pre-
ceded. My friend, I said, no wonder that we are in a perplex-
ity; for we have lost sight of the image which we had before

  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 very good one: you know that well-bred dogs
are perfectly gentle to their familiars and acquaintances, and
the reverse to strangers.

  Yes, I know.

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

  Certainly not.

  Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spir-
ited nature, need to 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, and is remarkable in the animal.

  What trait?

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

  The matter never struck me before; but I quite recognize the
truth of your remark.

  And surely this instinct of the dog is very charming; your
dog is a true philosopher.


  Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of
an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing.
And must not an animal be a lover of learning who determines
what he likes and dislikes by the test of knowledge and ignor-

  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 gentle to his friends and acquaintances, must
by nature be a lover of wisdom and knowledge?

  That we may safely affirm.

  Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the
State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and
swiftness and strength?


  Then we have found the desired natures; and now that we
have found them, how are they to be reared and educated? Is
not this an inquiry which may be expected to throw light on
the greater inquiry which is our final end--How do justice and
injustice grow up in States? for we do not want either to omit
what is to the point or to draw out the argument to an incon-
venient length.

  Adeimantus thought that the inquiry would be of great ser-
vice to us.

  Then, I said, my dear friend, the task must not be given up,
even if somewhat long.

  Certainly not.

  Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in story-telling, and
our story shall be the education of our heroes.

  By all means.

  And what shall be their education? Can we find a better
than the traditional sort?--and this has two divisions, gym-
nastics for the body, and music for the soul.


  Shall we begin education with music, and go on to gymnas-
tics afterward?

  By all means.

  And when you speak of music, do you include literature or

  I do.

  And literature may be either true or false?


  And the young should be trained in both kinds, and we be-
gin with the false?

  I do not understand your meaning, he said.

  You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories
which, though not wholly destitute of truth, are in the main
fictitious; and these stories are told 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 at which the character is being formed and
the desired impression is more readily taken.

  Quite true.

  And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual
tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive
into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of
those which we should wish them to have when they are
grown up?

  We cannot.

  Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the
writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction
which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers
and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only. Let
them fashion the mind with such tales, even more fondly than
they mould the body with their hands; but most of those which
are now 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 are necessarily 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 the greater.

  Those, I said, which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod,
and the rest of the poets, 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 is more, a bad lie.

  But when is this fault committed?

  Whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature
of gods and heroes--as when a painter paints a portrait not
having the shadow of a likeness to the original.

  Yes, he said, that sort of thing is certainly very blamable;
but what are the stories which you mean?

  First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies in high
places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad
lie too--I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how
Cronus retaliated on him. The doings of Cronus, and the
sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even if they
were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and
thoughtless persons; if possible, they had better be buried in
silence. But if there is an absolute necessity for their mention,
a chosen few might hear them in a mystery, and they should
sacrifice not a common [Eleusinian] pig, but some huge and
unprocurable victim; and then the number of the hearers will
be very few indeed.

  Why, yes, said he, those stories are extremely objectionable.

  Yes, Adeimantus, they are stories not to be repeated in our
State; the young man should not be told that in committing
the worst of crimes he is far from doing anything outrageous;
and that even if he chastises his father when he does wrong,
in whatever manner, he will only be following the example of
the first and greatest among the gods.

  I entirely agree with you, he said; in my opinion those stories
are quite unfit to be repeated.

  Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit
of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest,
should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and
of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for
they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of
the giants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we
shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods
and heroes with their friends and relatives. If they would
only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy,
and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel be-
tween citizens; 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 them in a similar spirit. But
the narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or how
on another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part
when she was being beaten, and all the battles of the gods in
Homer--these tales must not be admitted into our State,
whether they are supposed to have an allegorical meaning or
not. For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and
what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that
age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore
it is most important that the tales which the young first hear
should be models of virtuous thoughts.

  There you are right, he replied; but if anyone asks where
are such models to be found and of what tales are you speak-
ing--how shall we answer him?

  I said to him, You and I, Adeimantus, at this moment are not
poets, but founders of a State: now the founders of a State
ought to know the general forms in which poets should cast
their tales, and the limits which must be observed 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 rep-
resented as he truly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric,
or tragic, in which the representation 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 the good 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 to men. For few are the goods
of human life, and many are the evils, and the good is to be
attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be sought
elsewhere, 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 the folly of saying that two casks

  "Lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other of
   evil 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 anyone asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties,
which was really the work of Pandarus, was brought about
by Athene and Zeus, or that the strife and contention of the
gods were instigated by Themis and Zeus, he shall not have
our approval; neither will we allow our young men to hear the
words of AEschylus, that

  "God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy a house."

And if a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe--the subject
of the tragedy in which these iambic verses occur--or of the
house of Pelops, or of the Trojan War or on any similar theme,
either we must not permit him to say that these are the works
of God, or if they are of God, he must devise some explanation
of them such as we are seeking: he must say that God did what
was just and right, and they were the better for being punished;
but that those who are punished are miserable, and that God is
the author of their misery--the poet is not to be permitted to
say; though he may say that the wicked are miserable because
they require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving pun-
ishment from God; but that God being good is the author of
evil to anyone is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said
or sung or heard in verse or prose by anyone whether old or
young in any well-ordered commonwealth. 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 which our poets and reciters will be expected to
conform--that God is not the author of all things, but of good

  That will do, he said.

  And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask
you whether God is a magician, and of a nature to appear in-
sidiously now in one shape, and now in another--sometimes
himself changing and passing into many forms, sometimes de-
ceiving us with the semblance of such transformations; or is
he one and the same 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 be effected 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 or discomposed; for example, when healthiest and
strongest, the human frame is least liable to be affected by
meats and drinks, and the plant which is in the fullest vigor also
suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or any similar

  Of course.

  And will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused
or deranged by any external influence?


  And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all
composite things--furniture, houses, garments: when good and
well made, they are least altered by time and circumstances.

  Very true.

  Then everything which is good, whether made by art or
nature, or both, is least liable to suffer change from without?


  But surely God and the things of God are in every way per-

  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 and more unsightly?

  If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we
cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.

  Very true, Adeimantus; but then, would anyone, whether
God or man, desire to make himself worse?


  Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to
change; being, as is supposed, the fairest and best that is con-
ceivable, every God remains absolutely and forever in his own

  That necessarily follows, he said, in my judgment.

  Then, I said, my dear friend, let none of the poets tell us

  "The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk up
   and down cities in all sorts of forms;"

and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let anyone,
either in tragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here
disguised in the likeness 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
mothers under the influence of the poets scaring their children
with a bad version of these myths--telling how certain gods,
as they say, "Go about by night in the likeness of so many
strangers and in divers forms;" but let them take heed lest they
make cowards of their children, and at the same time speak
blasphemy against the gods.

  Heaven forbid, he said.

  But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by
witchcraft and deception they may make us think that they ap-
pear in various forms?

  Perhaps, he replied.

  Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie,
whether in word or deed, 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 expres-
sion may be allowed, 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 and highest part of himself, or about the truest and
highest matters; there, above all, 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 the highest realities in the
highest part of themselves, which is the soul, and in that part
of them to have and to hold the lie, is what mankind least like;
--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 is deceived may be called the true lie; for the lie
in words is only a kind of imitation and shadowy image of a
previous affection of the soul, not pure unadulterated false-
hood. 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 dealing with enemies--that would be an instance;
or again, when those whom we call our friends in a fit of mad-
ness or illusion are going to do some harm, then it is useful and
is a sort of medicine or preventive; also in the tales of mythol-
ogy, of which we were just now speaking--because we do not
know the truth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much
like truth as we can, and so turn it to account.

  Very true, he said.

  But can any of these reasons apply to God? Can we sup-
pose that he is ignorant of 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


  Then is God perfectly simple and true both in word and
deed; he changes not; he deceives 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 which we should write and speak about divine
things. The gods are not magicians who transform them-
selves, 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 which Zeus sends to Agamemnon; neither will
we praise the verses of AEschylus in which Thetis says that
Apollo at her nuptials

  "was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to be long,
   and to know no sickness. And when he had spoken of my lot as in all
   things blessed of heaven, he raised a note of triumph and cheered my soul.
   And I thought that the word of Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy,
   would not fail. And now he himself who uttered the strain, he who was
   present at the banquet, and who said this--he it is who has slain my

  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 allow teachers to make use of them
in the instruction of the young, meaning, as we do, that our
guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers
of the gods and like them.

  I entirely agree, he said, in these principles, and promise
to make them my laws.

                       BOOK III
                THE ARTS IN EDUCATION


  SUCH, then, I said, are our principles of theology--some
tales are to be told, and others are not to be told to our
disciples from their youth upward, if we mean them to
honor the gods and their parents, and to value friendship with
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 beside these, and lessons of such a kind as will take
away the fear of death? Can any man 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 than defeat 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 well as over the others, and beg them not sim-
ply to revile, but rather to commend the world below, intimat-
ing to them that their descriptions are untrue, and will do harm
to our future warriors.

  That will be our duty, he said.

  Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious
passages, beginning with the verses

  "I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor and portionless
   man than rule over all the dead who have come to naught."

We must also expunge the verse which tells us how Pluto

  "Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should
   be seen both of mortals and immortals."

And again:

  "O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly
   form but no mind at all!"

Again of Tiresias:

  "[To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,] that he
   alone should be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades."


  "The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamentng her
   fate, leaving manhood and youth."


  "And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath the


  "As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of them has
   dropped out of 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 out these and similar passages, not because they
are unpoetical, or unattractive to the popular ear, but because
the greater the poetical charm of them, the less are they meet
for the ears of boys and men who are meant to be free, and who
should fear slavery more than death.


  Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling
names which describe the world below--Cocytus and Styx,
ghosts under the earth, and sapless shades, and any similar
words of which the very mention causes a shudder to pass
through the inmost soul of him who hears them. I do not say
that these horrible stories may not have a use of some kind;
but there is a danger that the nerves of our guardians may be
rendered too excitable and effeminate 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 wail-
ings of famous men?

  They will go with the rest.

  But shall we be right in getting rid of them? Reflect: our
principle is that the good man will not consider death terrible
to any other good man who is his comrade.

  Yes; that is our principle.

  And therefore he will not sorrow for his departed friend as
though he had suffered anything terrible?

  He will not.

  Such an one, as we further maintain, is sufficient for himself
and his own happiness, and therefore is least in need of other

  True, he said.

  And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the de-
privation of fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.


  And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear
with the greatest 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, and making them over to women (and not even
to women who are good for anything), or to men of a baser
sort, that those who are being educated by us to be the de-
fenders 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 depict Achilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying
on his side, then on his back, and then on his face; then starting
up and sailing in a frenzy along the shores of the barren sea;
now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands and pouring
them over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various
modes which Homer has delineated. Nor should he describe
Priam, the kinsman of the gods, as praying 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 in-
troduce the gods lamenting 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 completely to misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to
make him say--

  "O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine
   chased round 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 at the hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius."

For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to
such unworthy representations of the gods, instead of laughing
at them as they ought, hardly will any of them deem that he
himself, being but a man, can be dishonored by similar actions;
neither will he rebuke any inclination which may arise in his
mind 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 has just proved to us; and by that proof we must
abide until it is disproved by a better.

  It ought not to be.

  Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For
a fit of laughter which has been indulged to excess almost al-
ways produces a violent reaction.

  So I believe.

  Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not
be represented as overcome by laughter, and still less must such
a representation of the gods be allowed.

  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 that of Homer when he describes how

  "Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when
   they saw Hephaestus 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 is certain.

  Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying,
a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to
men, then the use of such medicines should be restricted to
physicians; private individuals have no business with them.

  Clearly not, he said.

  Then if anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the
rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their
dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be
allowed to lie for the public good. But nobody else should
meddle with anything of the kind; and although the rulers have
this privilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to
be deemed a more heinous fault than for the patient or the pupil
of a gymnasium not to speak the truth about his own bodily
illnesses to the physician or to the trainer, or for a sailor not to
tell the captain what is happening about the ship and the rest
of the crew, and how things are going with himself or his

  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 or

he will punish him for introducing a practice which is equally
subversive and destructive of ship or State.

  Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever car-
ried out.

  In the next place our youth must be temperate?


  Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking gener-
ally, obedience to commanders and self-control in sensual


  Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in

  "Friend sit still and obey my word,"

and the verses which follow,

  "The Greeks marched breathing prowess,"

  " silent awe of their leaders."

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
   a stag,"

and of the words which follow? Would you say that these,
or any similar impertinences which private individuals are sup-
posed to address to their rulers, 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 to temperance. And therefore they are likely to
do harm to our young men--you would agree with me there?


  And then, again, to make the wisest of men say that nothing
in his opinion is more glorious than

  "When the tables are full of bread and meat, and the cup-bearer
   carries round wine which he draws from the bowl and pours into the

is it fit or conducive to temperance for a young man to hear
such words? or the verse

  "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 men were asleep and he the only person awake, lay
devising plans, but forgot them all in a moment through his
lust, and was so completely overcome at the sight of Here that
he would not even go into the hut, but wanted to lie with her on
the 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 a chain around Ares and Aphrodite?

  Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not
to hear that sort of thing.

  But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous
men, these they ought 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 of money.

  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 have given his pupil good counsel when he told him
that he should take the gifts of the Greeks and assist them;
but that without a gift he should not lay aside his anger.
Neither will we believe or acknowledge Achilles himself to
have been such a lover of money that he took Agamemnon's
gifts, or that when he had received payment he restored the
dead body of Hector, but that without payment he was unwill-
ing to do so.

  Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be

  Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attribut-
ing these feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly
attributed to him, he is guilty of downright impiety. As little
can I believe the narrative of his insolence to Apollo, where he

  "Thou hast wronged me, O Far-darter, most abominable of deities.
   Verily I would be even with thee, if I had only the power;"

or his insubordination to the river-god, on whose divinity he
is ready to lay hands; or his offerings to the dead Patroclus of
his own hair, which had been previously dedicated to the other
river-god Spercheius, and that he actually performed this vow;
or that he dragged Hector round the tomb of Patroclus, and
slaughtered the captives at the pyre; of all this I cannot be-
lieve that he was guilty, any more than I can allow our citizens
to believe that he, the wise Cheiron's pupil, the son of a goddess
and of Peleus who was the gentlest of men and third in descent
from Zeus, was so disordered in his wits as to be at one time
the slave of two seemingly inconsistent passions, meanness, not
untainted 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 of Theseus, son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous, son of
Zeus, going forth as they did to perpetrate a horrid rape; or
of any other hero or son of a god daring to do such 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 done by them, or that they were not the sons of God;
both in the same breath they shall not be permitted to affirm.
We will not have them trying to persuade our youth that the
gods are the authors of evil, and that heroes are no better than
men--sentiments which, as we were saying, are neither pious
nor 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; for everybody will begin to excuse his own
vices when he is convinced that similar wickednesses 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 of morals among the young.

  By all means, he replied.

  But now that we are determining what classes of subjects
are or are not to be spoken of, let us see whether any have been
omitted by us. The manner in which gods and demigods and
heroes and the world below should be treated has been already
laid down.

  Very true.

  And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the re-
maining portion of our subject.

  Clearly so.

  But we are not in a condition to answer this question at pres-
ent, my friend.

  Why not?

  Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about
men; poets and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest
misstatements when they tell us that wicked men are often
happy, and the good miserable; and that injustice is profitable
when undetected, but that justice is a man's own loss and an-
other's gain--these things we shall forbid them to utter, and
command 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 main-
tain that you have implied 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 ques-
tion which we cannot determine until we have discovered what
justice is, and how naturally advantageous 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 this has been considered, both matter and man-
ner 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 I put the matter in this way. You are
aware, I suppose, that all mythology and poetry are 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 the two?
That, again, he said, I do not quite understand.

  I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so
much difficulty in making myself apprehended. Like a bad
speaker, therefore, I will not take the whole 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 Chryses
prayed Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that Agamem-
non flew into a passion with him; whereupon Chryses, failing
of his object, invoked the anger of the god against the Achaeans.
Now as far as these lines,

  "And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially the two sons of Atreus,
   the chiefs of the people,"

the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to
suppose that he is anyone else. But in what follows he takes
the person of Chryses, and then he does all that he can to make
us believe that the speaker is not Homer, but the aged priest
himself. And in this double form he has cast the entire narra-
tive of 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 from time to time and in the intermediate passages?

  Quite true.

  But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we
not say that he assimilates his style to that of the person who,
as he informs you, is going to speak?


  And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use
of voice or gesture, is the imitation of the person whose char-
acter he assumes?

  Of course.

  Then in this case the narrative of the poet may be said to
proceed by way of imitation?

  Very true.

  Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals him-
self, then again the imitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes
simple narration. However, in order 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 be effected.
If Homer had said, "The priest came, having his daughter's
ransom in his hands, supplicating the Achaeans, and above all
the kings;" and then if, instead of speaking in the person of
Chryses, he had continued in his own person, the words would
have been, not imitation, but simple narration. The passage
would have run as follows (I am no poet, and therefore I drop
the metre): "The priest came and prayed the gods on behalf
of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and return safely
home, but begged that they would give him back his daughter,
and take the ransom which he brought, and respect the god.
Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks revered the priest and as-
sented. But Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him depart and
not come again, lest the staff and chaplets of the god should
be of no avail to him--the daughter of Chryses should not be
released, he said--she should grow old with him in Argos.
And then he told him to go away and not to provoke him, if he
intended to get home unscathed. And the old man went away
in fear and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he called
upon Apollo by his many names, reminding him of everything
which he had done pleasing to him, whether in building his
temples, or in offering sacrifice, and praying that his good deeds
might be returned to him, and that the Achaeans might expiate
his tears by the arrows of the god"--and so on. In this way
the whole becomes simple narrative.

  I understand, he said.

  Or you may suppose the opposite case--that the intermediate
passages are omitted, 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 failed to apprehend before is now made clear to
you, that poetry and mythology are, in some cases, wholly imi-
tative--instances of this are supplied by tragedy and comedy;
there is likewise the opposite style, in which the poet is the only
speaker--of this the dithyramb affords the best example; and
the combination of both is found in epic and in several other
styles of poetry. Do I 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 with the subject and might proceed to the

  Yes, I remember.

  In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an
understanding about the mimetic art--whether the poets, in
narrating their stories, are to be allowed by us to imitate, and if
so, whether in whole or in part, and if the latter, in what parts;
or should all imitation be prohibited?

  You mean, I suspect, to ask whether tragedy and comedy
shall be admitted into our State?

  Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I
really do not know as 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 de-
cided by the rule already laid down that one man can only do
one thing well, and not many; and that if he attempt many, he
will altogether fail of gaining much reputation in any?


  And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate
many things as well 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 at the same time to be an imitator and imitate
many other parts as well; for even when two species of imita-
tion are nearly allied, the same persons cannot succeed in both,
as, for example, the writers of tragedy and comedy--did you
not just now call them imitations?

  Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same per-
sons cannot succeed in 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 but imitations.

  They are so.

  And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined
into yet smaller pieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many
things well, as of performing well the actions of which the imi-
tations 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 the maintenance of freedom in
the State, making this their craft, and engaging in no work
which does not bear on this end, they ought not to practise or
imitate anything else; if they imitate at all, they should imitate
from youth upward only those characters which are suitable
to their profession--the courageous, temperate, holy, free, and
the like; but they should not depict or be skilful at imitating
any kind of illiberality or baseness, lest from imitation they
should come to be what they imitate. Did you never observe
how imitations, beginning in early youth and continuing far
into life, at length grow 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 we say 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 in con-
ceit of her happiness, or when she is in affliction, or sorrow, or
weeping; and certainly not one who is in sickness, love, or

  Very right, he said.

  Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, per-
forming the offices of slaves?

  They must not.

  And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others,
who do the reverse of what we have just been prescribing, who
scold or mock or revile one another in drink or out of drink,
or who in any other manner sin against themselves and their
neighbors in word or deed, as the manner of such is. Neither
should they be 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 oars-
men, or boatswains, or the like?

  How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply
their minds to the callings of any of these?

  Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing
of bulls, the murmur of 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 behavior of madmen.

  You mean, I said, if I understand you aright, that there is
one sort of narrative style which may be employed by a truly
good man when he has anything to say, and that another sort
will be used by a man of an opposite character and education.

  And which are these two sorts? he asked.

  Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course
of a narration comes on some saying or action of another good
man--I should imagine that he will like to personate him, and
will not be ashamed of this sort of imitation: he will be most
ready to play the part of the good man when he is acting firmly
and wisely; in a less degree when he is overtaken by illness or
love or drink, or has met with any other disaster. But when
he comes to a character which is unworthy of him, he will not
make a study of that; he will disdain such a person, and will
assume his likeness, if at all, for a moment only when he is per-
forming some good action; at other times he will be ashamed
to play a part which he has never practised, nor will he like to
fashion and frame 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 of Homer, that is to say, his style will be both
imitative and narrative; but there will be very little of the
former, and a great deal of the latter. Do you agree?

  Certainly, he said; that is the model which such a speaker
must necessarily take.

  But there is another sort of character who will narrate any-
thing, and, the worse he is, the more unscrupulous he will be;
nothing will be too bad for him: and he will be ready to imi-
tate anything, not as a joke, but in right good earnest, and be-
fore a large company. As I was just now saying, he will
attempt to represent the roll of thunder, the noise of wind and
hail, or the creaking of wheels, and pulleys, and the various
sounds of flutes, pipes, trumpets, and all sorts of instruments:
he will bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crow like a cock;
his entire art will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, and
there 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 but slight changes; and if the harmony and
rhythm are also chosen for their simplicity, the result is that
the speaker, if he speaks correctly, is always pretty much the
same in style, and he will keep within the limits of a single
harmony (for the changes are not great), and in like manner
he will make use of nearly the same rhythm?

  That is quite true, he said.

  Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all
sorts of rhythms, if the music and the style are to correspond,
because the style has all sorts of changes.

  That is also perfectly true, he replied.

  And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, com-
prehend all poetry, and every form of expression in words?
No one can say anything except in one or other 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 the two unmixed styles? or would you include the

  I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.

  Yes, I said, Adeimantus; but the mixed style is also very
charming: and indeed the pantomimic, which is the opposite
of the one chosen by you, is the most popular style with children
and their attendants, and with the world in general.

  I do not deny it.

  But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuit-
able to our State, in which human nature is not twofold or man-
ifold, 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 a shoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a
pilot also, and a husbandman to be a husbandman and not a
dicast also, and a soldier a soldier and not a trader also, and
the same throughout?

  True, he said.

  And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen,
who are so clever that they can imitate anything, comes to us,
and makes a proposal to exhibit himself and his poetry, we will
fall down and worship him as a sweet and holy and wonderful
being; but we must also inform him that in our State such as
he are not permitted to exist; the law will not allow them.
And so when we have anointed him with myrrh, and set a gar-
land of wool upon his head, we shall send him away to another
city. For we mean to employ for our souls' health the rougher
and severer poet or story-teller, who will imitate the style of
the virtuous only, and will follow those models which we pre-
scribed at first when we 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 which relates to the story or myth may be considered
to be finished; for the matter and manner have both been dis-

  I think so too, he said.

  Next in order will follow melody and song.

  That is obvious.
Everyone can see already what we ought to say about them,
if we are to be consistent with ourselves.

  I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the word "everyone"
hardly includes me, for I cannot at the moment say what they
should be; though I may guess.

  At any rate you can tell that a song or ode has three parts--
the words, the melody, and the rhythm; that degree of knowl-
edge I may presuppose?

  Yes, he said; so much as that you may.

  And as for the words, there will surely be no difference be-
tween words which are and which are not set to music; both
will conform to the same laws, and these 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 of lamentation and strains of sorrow?


  And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You
are musical, and can tell me.

  The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor
Lydian, and the full-toned or bass Lydian, and such like.

  These then, I said, must be banished; they are of no use, even
to women who have a character to maintain, and much less
to men.

  In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence
are utterly unbecoming 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

  Well, and are these of any military use?

  Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so, the Dorian and the
Phrygian are the only ones which you have left.

  I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want
to have one warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave
man utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve, or when
his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or death or is
overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets
the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to en-
dure; and another to be used by him in times of peace and free-
dom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is
seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and
admonition, or on the other hand, when he is expressing his
willingness to yield to persuasion or entreaty or admonition,
and which represents him when by prudent conduct he has at-
tained his end, not carried away by his success, but acting mod-
erately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing
in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the
strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the
unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of cour-
age, and the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave.

  And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian har-
monies of which I was just 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 and complex scales, or the makers of any other many-
stringed, curiously harmonized instruments?

  Certainly not.

  But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players?
Would you admit them into our State when you reflect that
in this composite use of harmony the flute is worse than all the
stringed instruments put together; even the panharmonic
music is only an imitation of the flute?

  Clearly not.

  There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the
city, and the shepherds 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 is not 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 com-
plex systems of metre, or metres of every kind, but rather to
discover what rhythms are the expressions of a courageous and
harmonious life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt
the foot and the melody to words having a like spirit, not the
words to the foot and melody. To say what these rhythms
are will be your duty--you must teach me them, as you have
already taught me the harmonies.

  But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that
there are some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical
systems are framed, just as in sounds there are four notes
out of which all the harmonies are composed; that is an obser-
vation 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 what rhythms are expressive of meanness, or
insolence, or fury, or other unworthiness, and what are to be re-
served for the expression of opposite feelings. And I think that
I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioning a complex
Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he arranged them
in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the
rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short al-
ternating; and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as
well as of a trochaic rhythm, and assigned to them short and
long quantities. Also in some cases he appeared to praise or
censure the movement of the foot quite as much as the rhythm;
or perhaps a combination 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 the analysis of the subject
would be difficult, you know?

  Rather so, I should say.

  But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence
of grace is an effect 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 is that rhythm and har-
mony 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 of the soul?


  And everything else on the style?


  Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good
rhythm depend on simplicity--I mean the true simplicity of a
rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other
simplicity which is only an euphemism for folly?

  Very true, he replied.

  And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not
make these graces and harmonies their perpetual aim?

  They must.

  And surely the art of the painter and every other creative
and constructive art are full of them--weaving, embroidery,
architecture, and every kind of manufacture; also nature,
animal and vegetable--in all of them there is grace or the ab-
sence of grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious
motion are nearly allied to ill-words and ill-nature, as grace
and harmony are the twin 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 be required by us to express the image of the good
in their works, on pain, if they do anything else, of expulsion
from our State? Or is the same control to be extended to other
artists, and are they also to be prohibited from exhibiting the
opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness and
indecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts;
and is he who cannot conform to this rule of ours to be pre-
vented from practising his art in our State, lest the taste of our
citizens be corrupted by him? We would not have our guard-
ians grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in some
noxious pasture, and there browse and feed upon many a bane-
ful herb and flower day by day, little by little, until they silently
gather a festering mass of corruption in their own soul. Let
our artists rather be those who are gifted to discern the true
nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our youth dwell
in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the
good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works,
shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from
a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years
into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.

  There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.

  And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more
potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony
find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they
mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him
who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated
ungraceful; and also because he who has received this true edu-
cation of the inner 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 his soul the good,
and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the
bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to
know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognize
and salute the friend with whom his education has made him
long familiar.

  Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our
youth should be trained in music and on the grounds which
you mention.

  Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when
we knew the letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all
their recurring sizes and combinations; not slighting them as
unimportant whether they occupy a space large or small, but
everywhere eager to make them out; and not thinking ourselves
perfect in the art of reading until we recognize them wherever
they are found:

  Or, as we recognize 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 the knowledge 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 of temperance, courage, liberality,
magnificence, and their kindred, as well as the contrary forms,
in all their combinations, and can recognize them and their
images wherever they are found, not slighting them either in
small things or great, 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 are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of
sights to him who has an eye to see 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 the loveliest; 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 any merely bodily defect in another he will be patient
of it, and will love all the same.

  I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of
this sort, and I agree. But let me ask you another question:
Has excess of pleasure any affinity to temperance?

  How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the
use of his faculties 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 ap-
proach true love?

  Certainly not.

  Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed
to come near the lover and his beloved; neither of them can
have any part in it if their love is of the 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 to the effect that a friend should use no other
familiarity to his love than a father would use to his son, and
then only for a noble purpose, and he must first have the other's
consent; and this rule is to limit him in all his intercourse, and
he is never to be seen going further, or, if he exceeds, he is to
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 of music if not the love of beauty?

  I agree, he said.

  After music comes gymnastics, in which our youth are next
to be trained.

Gymnastics as well as music should begin in early years; the
training in it should be careful and should continue through
life. Now my belief is--and this is a matter upon which I
should like to have your opinion in confirmation of my own,
but my own belief is--not that the good body by any bodily
excellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that the
good soul, by her own excellence, improves the body as far as
this may be possible. What do you say?

  Yes, I agree.

  Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right
in handing over the more particular care of the body; and in
order to avoid prolixity we will now only give the general out-
lines of the subject.

  Very good.

  That they must abstain from intoxication has been already
remarked by us; for of all persons a guardian should be the
last to get drunk and not know where in the world he is.

  Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guar-
dian to take care of him is ridiculous indeed.

  But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are
in training for the great 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 sleepy sort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do
you not observe that these athletes sleep away their lives, and
are liable to most dangerous illnesses if they 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
warrior athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see
and hear with the utmost keenness; amid the many changes of
water and also of food, of summer heat and winter cold, which
they will have to endure when on a campaign, they must not
be liable to break down in health.

  That is my view.

  The really excellent gymnastics is twin sister of that simple
music which we were just now describing.

  How so?

  Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastics which, like our
music, is simple and good; and especially the military gym-

  What do you mean?

  My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know,
feeds his heroes at their feasts, when they are campaigning,
on soldiers' fare; they have no fish, although they are on the
shores of the Hellespont, and they are not allowed boiled 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 of carrying about pots and pans.


  And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces
are nowhere mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, how-
ever, he is not singular; all professional athletes are well aware
that a man who is to be in good condition should take nothing
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 of Sicilian cookery?

  I think not.

  Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to
have a Corinthian girl as his fair friend?

  Certainly not.

  Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are
thought, of Athenian confectionery?

  Certainly not.

  All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us
to melody and song composed in the panharmonic style, and
in all the rhythms.

  There complexity engendered license, and here disease;
whereas simplicity in music was the parent of temperance in
the soul; and simplicity in gymnastics of health in the body.

  Most true, he said.

  But when intemperance and diseases multiply in a State,
halls of justice and medicine are always being opened; and the
arts of the doctor and the lawyer give themselves airs, finding
how keen is the interest which not only the slaves but the free-
men of a city take about them.

  Of course.

  And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and dis-
graceful state of education than this, that not only artisans and
the meaner sort of people need the skill of first-rate physicians
and judges, but also those who would profess to have had a
liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and a great sign of
the want of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad
for his law and physic because he has none of his own at home,
and must therefore surrender himself 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 a further 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 is actually led by his bad taste to
pride himself on his litigiousness; he imagines that he is a mas-
ter in dishonesty; able to take every crooked turn, and wriggle
into and out of every hole, bending like a withy and getting
out of the way of justice: and all for what?--in order to gain
small points not worth mentioning, he not knowing that so to
order his life as to be able to do without a napping judge is a
far higher and nobler sort of thing. Is not that still more dis-

  Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.

  Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when
a wound has to be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but
just because, by indolence and a habit of life such as we have
been describing, men fill themselves with waters and winds,
as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious sons
of Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence
and catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?

  Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and new-
fangled names to diseases.

  Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such
diseases in the days of Asclepius; and this I infer from the cir-
cumstance that the hero Eurypylus, after he has been wounded
in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine well besprinkled
with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainly in-
flammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the
Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink,
or rebuke Patroclus, who is treating his case.

  Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be
given to a person in his condition.

  Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in
former days, as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus,
the guild of Asclepius did not practise our present system of
medicine, which may be said to educate diseases. But Herodi-
cus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by a
combination of training and doctoring found out a way of tor-
turing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the

  How was that? he said.

  By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal
disease which he perpetually tended, and as recovery was out
of the question, he passed his entire 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
usual regimen, 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 understood that, if Asclepius did not instruct his de-
scendants in valetudinarian arts, the omission arose, not from
ignorance or inexperience of such a branch of medicine, but
because he knew that in all well-ordered States every individual
has an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore
no leisure to spend 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 and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery
or the knife--these are his remedies. And if someone pre-
scribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must
swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he re-
plies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no
good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect
of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-by
to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and
either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his con-
stitution fails, he dies and has no more trouble.

  Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use
the art of medicine thus far only.

  Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would
there be in his life if 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 any specially 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 a livelihood he should practise virtue?

  Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat

  Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but
rather ask ourselves: Is the practise of virtue obligatory on
the rich man, or can he live without 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 of the
mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not equally
stand in the way 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 gymnastics,
is most inimical to the practice of virtue.

  Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the
management of a house, an army, or an office of state; and,
what is most Important of all, irreconcileable with any kind
of study or thought or self-reflection--there is a constant sus-
picion that headache and giddiness are to be ascribed to philos-
ophy, and hence all practising or making trial of virtue in the
higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancy-
ing that he is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about
the state of his body.

  Yes, likely enough.

  And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have
exhibited the power of his art only to persons who, being gen-
erally of healthy constitution and habits of life, had a definite
ailment; such as these he cured by purges and operations, and
bade them live as usual, herein consulting the interests of the
State; but bodies which disease had penetrated through and
through he would not have attempted to cure by gradual proc-
esses of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to lengthen
out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting
weaker sons;--if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way
he had no business to cure him; for such a cure would have
been of no use either 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 they were heroes in the days of old and practised
the medicines of which I am speaking at the siege of Troy:
You will remember how, when Pandarus wounded Menelaus,

  "Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies,"

but they never prescribed what the patient was afterward to
eat or drink in the case of Menelaus, any more than in the case
of Eurypylus; the remedies, as they conceived, were enough
to heal any man who before he was wounded was healthy and
regular in his habits; and even though he did happen to drink
a posset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same.
But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intem-
perate subjects, whose lives were of no use either to themselves
or others; the art of medicine was not designed for their good,
and though they were as rich as Midas, the sons of Asclepius
would have declined to attend them.

  They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.

  Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and
Pindar disobeying our behests, although they acknowledge that
Asclepius was the son of Apollo, say also 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 the principle already affirmed by us, will not believe them
when they tell us both; 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 those who have treated the greatest
number of constitutions, good and bad? and are not the best
judges in like manner those who are acquainted with all sorts
of moral natures?

  Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physi-
cians. But do you know whom I think good?

  Will you tell me?

  I will, if I can. Let me, however, note that in the same ques-
tion you join two things which are not the same.

  How so? he asked.

  Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most
skilful physicians are those who, from their youth upward,
have combined with the knowledge of their art the greatest
experience of disease; they had better not be robust in health,
and should have had all manner of diseases in their own per-
sons. For the 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; but they cure the body with
the mind, and the mind which has become and is sick can cure

  That is very true, he said.

  But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind
by mind; he ought not therefore to have been trained among
vicious minds, and to have associated with them from youth
upward, 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 their bodily diseases from his own self-consciousness;
the honorable mind which is to form a healthy judgment should
have had no experience or contamination of evil habits when
young. And this is the reason why in youth good men often
appear to be simple, and are easily practised upon by the dis-
honest, because they 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 to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late
and long observation of the nature of evil in others: knowledge
should be his guide, not personal experience.

  Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.

  Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my an-
swer to your question); for he is good who has a good soul.
But the cunning and suspicious nature of which we spoke--
he who has committed many crimes, and fancies himself to be
a master in wickedness--when he is among his fellows, is won-
derful in the precautions which he takes, because he judges of
them by himself: but when he gets into the company of men
of virtue, who have the experience of age, he appears to be a
fool again, owing to his unseasonable suspicions; he cannot
recognize an honest man, because he has no pattern of honesty
in himself; at the same time, as the bad are more numerous
than the good, and he meets with them oftener, he thinks him-
self, and is by others thought 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 the other; for vice cannot know virtue too, but
a virtuous nature, educated by time, will acquire a knowledge
both of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and not the 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 will sanction in your State. They will minister to better
natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who
are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the cor-
rupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.

  That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the

  And thus our youth, having been educated only in that sim-
ple music which, as we said, inspires temperance, will be re-
luctant to go to law.


  And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is con-
tent to practise the simple gymnastics, will have nothing to do
with medicine unless in some extreme case.

  That I quite believe.

  The very exercises and toils which he undergoes are intended
to stimulate the spirited element of his nature, and not to in-
crease his strength; he will not, like common athletes, use exer-
cise and regimen to develop his muscles.

  Very right, he said.

  Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastics really de-
signed, as is often supposed, the one for the training of the soul,
the other for the training of the body.

  What then is the real object of them?

  I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly
the improvement of the soul.

  How can that be? he asked.

  Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself
of exclusive devotion to gymnastics, or the opposite effect of an
exclusive devotion to music?

  In what way shown? he said.

  The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the
other of softness and effeminacy, I replied.

  Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes
too much of a savage, and that the mere musician IS melted
and softened beyond what is good for him.

  Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which,
if rightly educated, would give courage, but, if too much in-
tensified, is liable to become hard and brutal.

  That I quite think.

  On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of
gentleness. And this also, when too much indulged, will turn
to softness, but, if educated rightly, will be gentle and mod-


  And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these


  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 through the funnel of his ears those sweet and
soft and melancholy airs of which we were just now speaking,
and his whole life is passed in warbling and the delights of
song; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit which
is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brit-
tle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and sooth-
ing process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste,
until he has wasted away his spirit and cut out 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 speedily accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the
power of music weakening the spirit renders him excitable; on
the least provocation he flames up at once, and is speedily ex-
tinguished; instead of having spirit he grows irritable and pas-
sionate and is quite impractical.


  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 high condition of his body fills him
with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he


  And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no con-
verse with the muses, does not even that intelligence which
there may be in him, having no taste of any sort of learning or
inquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull and blind,
his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his
senses not being purged of their mists?

  True, he said.

  And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized,
never using the weapon of persuasion--he is like a wild beast,
all violence and fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing;
and he lives in all ignorance and 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 other the philosophical, some god, as I should
say, has given mankind two arts answering to them (and only
indirectly to the soul and body), in order that these two prin-
ciples (like the strings of an instrument) may be relaxed or
drawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.

  That appears to be the intention.

  And he who mingles music with gymnastics in the fairest
proportions, and best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly
called the true musician and harmonist 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 the government is to last.

  Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.

  Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education:
Where would be the use of going into further details about
the dances of our citizens, or about their hunting and coursing,
their gymnastic and equestrian contests? For these all follow
the general principle, and having found that, we shall have no
difficulty 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 to be 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 de-
voted to husbandry?


  And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must
they not be those who have most the character of guardians?


  And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to
have a special care of the State?


  And a man will be most likely to care about that which he

  To be sure.

  And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as
having the same interests with himself, and that of which the
good or evil fortune is supposed by 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 in their whole life show the greatest eager-
ness to do what is for the good of their 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 whether they preserve their resolution, and
never, under the influence either of force or enchantment, for-
get or cast off their sense of duty to the State.

  How cast off? he said.

  I will explain to you, he replied. A resolution may go out
of a man's mind either with his will or against his will; with
his will when he gets rid of a falsehood and learns better,
against his will whenever he is deprived of a truth.

  I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the
meaning of the unwilling I have yet to learn.

  Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly de-
prived of good, and willingly of evil? Is not to have lost the
truth an evil, and to possess the truth a good? and you would
agree that to conceive things as they are is to possess the truth?

  Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind
are deprived of truth against their will.

  And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by theft,
or force, or enchantment?

  Still, he replied, I do not understand you.

  I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the trage-
dians. I only mean that some men are changed by persuasion
and that others forget; argument steals away the hearts of one
class, and time of the other; and this I call theft. Now you
understand me?


  Those again who are forced, are those whom the violence
of some pain or grief compels 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 their minds either under the softer influence
of pleasure, or the sterner influence of fear?

  Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.

  Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must inquire who
are the best guardians of their own conviction that what they
think the interest of the State is to be the rule of their lives.
We must watch them from their youth upward, and make them
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 in the trial is to be rejected. That
will be the way?


  And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts pre-
scribed for them, in which 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 third sort of test--and see what will be their behavior:
like those who take colts amid noise and tumult to see if they
are of a timid nature, so must we take 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 may discover whether they are armed against all enchant-
ments, and of a noble bearing always, good guardians of them-
selves and of the music which they have learned, and retaining
under all circumstances a rhythmical and harmonious nature,
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 of the trial victorious and pure, shall
be appointed a ruler and guardian of the State; he shall be
honored in life and death, and shall receive sepulture and other
memorials of honor, the greatest that we have to give. But
him who fails, we must reject. I am inclined to think that
this is the sort of way in which our rulers and guardians should
be chosen and appointed. I speak generally, 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 be applied to this higher class only who preserve us against
foreign enemies and maintain 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 called
guardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and
supporters of the principles of the rulers.

  I agree with you, he said.

  How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of
which we lately spoke--just one royal lie which may deceive
the rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the

  What sort of lie? he said.

  Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale of what
has often occurred before now in other places (as the poets
say, and have made the world believe), though not in our time,
and I do not know whether such an event could ever 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 the face, or in what words to utter the audacious
fiction, which I propose to communicate gradually, first to the
rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly to the people. They are
to be told that their youth was a dream, and the education and
training which they received from us, an appearance only; in
reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in
the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms
and appurtenances were manufactured; when they were com-
pleted, the earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their coun-
try being 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 as children of the earth and their
own brothers.

  You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which
you were going to tell.

  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 you differently. Some of you
have the power of command, and in the composition of these
he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest
honor; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others
again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has com-
posed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be pre-
served in the children. But as all are of the same original
stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a
silver parent a golden son. And God proclaims as a first prin-
ciple to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which
they should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such
good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should ob-
serve what elements mingle in their offspring; for if the son
of a golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron,
then nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of the
ruler must not be pitiful toward the child because he has to
descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan, just
as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of
gold or silver in them are raised to honor, and become guardians
or auxiliaries. For an oracle says that when a man of brass
or iron guards the State, it will be destroyed. Such is the tale;
is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it?

  Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way
of accomplishing this; 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 be-
lief will make them care more for the city and for one another.
Enough, however, of the fiction, which may now fly abroad
upon the wings of rumor, while we arm our earth-born heroes,
and lead them forth under the command of their rulers. Let
them look round and select a spot whence they can best sup-
press insurrection, if any prove refractory within, and also de-
fend themselves against enemies, who, like wolves, may come
down on the fold from without; there let them encamp, and
when they have encamped, let them sacrifice to the proper gods
and prepare their dwellings.

  Just so, he said.

  And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against
the cold of winter and 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 shopkeepers.

  What is the difference? he said.

  That I will endeavor to explain, I replied. To keep watch-
dogs, who, from want of discipline or hunger, or some evil
habit or other, would turn upon the sheep and worry them, and
behave not like dogs, but wolves, would be a foul and mon-
strous thing in a shepherd?

  Truly monstrous, he said.

  And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries,
being stronger than our citizens, may not grow to be too much
for them and become savage tyrants instead of friends and

  Yes, great care should be taken.

  And would not a really good education furnish the best safe-

  But they are well-educated already, he replied.

  I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much
more certain that they ought to be, and that true education,
whatever that may be, will have the greatest tendency to civilize
and humanize them in their relations to one another, and to
those who are under their protection.

  Very true, he replied.

  And not only their education, but their habitations, and all
that belongs to them, should be such as will neither impair
their virtue as guardians, nor tempt them to prey upon the other
citizens. Any man of sense must acknowledge that.

  He must.

  Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if
they are to realize our idea of them. In the first place, none
of them should have any property of his own beyond what is
absolutely necessary; neither should they have a private house
or store closed against anyone who has a mind to enter; their
provisions should be only such as are required by trained war-
riors, who are men of temperance and courage; they should
agree to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to
meet the expenses of the year and no more; and they will go
to mess and live together like soldiers in a camp. Gold and
silver we will tell them that they have from God; the diviner
metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of the
dross which is current among men, and ought not to pollute
the divine by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner
metal has been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own
is undefiled. And they alone of all the citizens may not touch or
handle silver or gold, or be under the same roof with them, or
wear them, or drink from them. And this will be their salva-
tion, and they will be the saviours of the State. But should
they ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they
will become good housekeepers and husbandmen instead of
guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other
citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted
against, they will pass their whole life in much greater ter-
ror of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin,
both to themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at
hand. For all which reasons may we not say that thus shall
our State be ordered, and that these shall be the regulations
appointed by us for our guardians concerning their houses
and all other matters?

  Yes, said Glaucon.

                       BOOK IV


  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
that they 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 build large and hand-
some houses, and have everything handsome about them, offer-
ing sacrifices to the gods on their own account, and practis-
ing hospitality; moreover, as you were saying just now, they
have gold and silver, and all that is usual among the favorites
of fortune; but our poor citizens are no better than merce-
naries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting

  Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and
not paid in addition to their food, like other men; and there-
fore they cannot, if they would, take a journey of pleasure;
they have no money to spend on a mistress or any other luxu-
rious fancy, which, as the world goes, is thought to be happi-
ness; and many other accusations of the same nature might
be added.

  But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the

  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 the answer. And our answer will be that, even
as they are, our guardians may very likely be the happiest
of men; but that our aim in founding the State was not the
disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest
happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which
is ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should
be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-ordered State in-
justice: and, having found them, we might then decide which
of the two is the happier. At present, I take it, we are fash-
ioning the happy State, not piecemeal, or with a view of mak-
ing a few happy citizens, but as a whole; and by and by we
will proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that
we were painting a statue, and someone came up to us and
said: Why do you not put the most beautiful colors on the
most beautiful parts of the body--the eyes ought to be pur-
ple, but you have made them black--to him we might fairly
answer: Sir, you would not surely have us beautify the eyes
to such a degree that they are no longer eyes; consider rather
whether, by giving this and the other features their due pro-
portion, we make the whole beautiful. And so I say to you,
do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort of happi-
ness which will make them anything but guardians; for we
too can clothe our husbandmen in royal apparel, and set
crowns of gold on their heads, and bid them till the ground
as much as they like, and no more. Our potters also might
be allowed to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside,
passing round the wine-cup, while their wheel is conveniently
at hand, and working at pottery only as much as they like;
in this way we might make every class happy--and then, as
you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do not
put this idea into our heads; for, if we listen to you, the
husbandman will be no longer a husbandman, the potter will
cease to be a potter, and no one will have the character of
any distinct class in the State. Now this is not of much con-
sequence where the corruption of society, and pretension to
be what you are not, are confined to cobblers; but when the
guardians of the laws and of the government are only seem-
ing and not real guardians, then see how they turn the State
upside down; and on the other hand they alone have the
power of giving order and happiness to the State. We mean
our guardians to be true saviours and not the destroyers of the
State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasants at a fes-
tival, who are enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who
are doing their duty to the State. But, if so, we mean differ-
ent things, and he is speaking of something which is not a
State. And therefore we must consider whether in appoint-
ing our guardians we would look to their greatest happiness
individually, or whether this principle of happiness does not
rather reside in the State as a whole. But if the latter be
the truth, then the guardians and auxiliaries, and all others
equally with them, must be compelled or induced to do their
own work in the best way. And thus the whole State will
grow up in a noble order, and the several classes will receive
the proportion of happiness which 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, any longer 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 with tools or instruments, he will not work
equally well himself, nor will he teach his sons or apprentices
to work equally well.

  Certainly not.

  Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth,
workmen and their work are equally liable to degenerate?

  That is evident.

  Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which
the guardians will have to watch, or they will creep into the
city unobserved.

  What evils?

  Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of lux-
ury and indolence, and the other of meanness and viciousness,
and both of discontent.

  That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to
know, Socrates, how our city will be able to go to war, espe-
cially against an enemy who is rich and powerful, if deprived
of the sinews of war.

  There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to
war with one such enemy; 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 trained warriors 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 his art would easily be a match for two
stout and well-to-do gentlemen who were not boxers?

  Hardly, if they came upon him at once.

  What, not, I said, if he were able to run away and then
turn and strike at the one who first came up? And suppos-
ing he were to do this several times under the heat of a scorch-
ing sun, might he not, being an expert, overturn more than
one stout personage?

  Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in

  And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in
the science and practise of boxing than they have in military

  Likely enough.

  Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight
with two or three times 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 the two cities, telling them what is the truth:
Silver and gold we neither have nor are 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,
would choose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with
the dogs on their side, against fat and tender sheep?

  That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the
poor State if the wealth 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 a city, but many cities, as they say in the
game. For indeed any city, however small, is in fact divided
into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these
are at war with one another; and in either there are many
smaller divisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark
if you treated them all as a single State. But if you deal with
them as many, and give the wealth or power or persons of the
one to the others, you will always have a great many friends
and not many enemies. And your State, while the wise order
which has now been prescribed continues to prevail in her, will
be the greatest of States, I do not mean to say in reputation
or appearance, but in deed and truth, though she number not
more than 1,000 defenders. A single State which 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 are considering the size of the State and the amount
of territory which they are to include, 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, I think, is the proper limit.

  Very good, he said.

  Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be
conveyed to our guardians: Let our city be accounted neither
large nor small, but one and self-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
lighter still--I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of
the guardians when inferior, and of elevating into the rank of
guardians the offspring of the lower classes, when naturally
superior. The intention was, that, in the case of the citizens
generally, each individual should be put to the use for which
nature intended him, one to one work, and then every man
would do his own business, and be one and not many; and
so the whole city would be one and not many.

  Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.

  The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adei-
mantus, are not, as might be supposed, a number of great prin-
ciples, but trifles all, if care be taken, as the saying is, of the
one great thing--a thing, however, which I would rather call,
not, great, but sufficient for our purpose.

  What may that be? he asked.

  Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well edu-
cated, and grow into sensible men, they will easily see their
way through all these, as well as other matters which I omit;
such, for example, as marriage, the possession of women and
the procreation of children, which will all follow the general
principle that friends have all things in common, as the proverb

  That will be the best way of settling them.

  Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with ac-
cumulating force like a wheel. For good nurture and educa-
tion implant good constitutions, and these 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 our rulers should be directed--that music and
gymnastics be preserved in their original form, and no innova-
tion made. They must do their utmost to maintain them in-
tact. And when anyone 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 of song; and this ought not to be praised, or
conceived to be the meaning of the poet; for any musical inno-
vation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be
prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite believe him;
he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental
laws of the State always change with them.

  Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to
Damon's and your own.

  Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their
fortress in music?

  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 appears harmless.

  Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that
little by little this spirit of license, finding a home, impercep-
tibly penetrates into manners and customs; whence, issuing
with greater force, it invades contracts between man and man,
and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in utter
recklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an overthrow of all
rights, private as 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 stricter system, for if amusements become law-
less, and the youths themselves become lawless, 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 have gained the habit of good order,
then this habit of order, in a manner how unlike the lawless
play of the others! will accompany them in all their actions
and be a principle of growth to them, and if there be any
fallen places [a] [principle] in the State will raise
them up again.

  Very true, he said.

  Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser
rules which their predecessors have altogether neglected.

  What do you mean?

  I mean such things as these:--when the young are to be
silent before their elders; how they are to show respect to
them by standing and making them sit; what honor is due
to parents; what garments or shoes are to be worn; the mode
of dressing the hair; deportment and manners in general.
You would agree with me?


  But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such
matters--I doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise writ-
ten enactments about them likely to be lasting.


  It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which edu-
cation 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 be the reverse of good?

  That is not to be denied.

  And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legis-
late further about them.

  Naturally enough, he replied.

  Well, and about the business of the agora, and the ordi-
nary dealings between man and man, or again about agree-
ments with artisans; about insult and injury, or the com-
mencement of actions, and the appointment of juries, what
would you say? there may also arise questions about any im-
positions and exactions of market and harbor dues which may
be required, and in general about the regulations of markets,
police, harbors, and the like.. But, O heavens! shall we con-
descend 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 we have given them.

  And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on
forever making and mending the laws and their lives in the
hope of attaining perfection.

  You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who,
having no self-restraint, will not leave off their habits of in-


  Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they
are always doctoring and increasing and complicating their
disorders, and always fancying that they will be cured by any
nostrum which anybody advises them to try.

  Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this

  Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem
him their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is
simply that, unless they give up eating and drinking and
wenching and idling, nether drug nor cautery nor spell nor
amulet nor any other remedy will avail.

  Charming! he replied. I see nothing in going into a pas-
sion with a man who tells you what is right.

  These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good

  Assuredly not.

  Nor would you praise the behavior of States which act like
the men whom I was just now describing. For are there not
ill-ordered States in which the citizens are forbidden under
pain of death to alter the constitution; and yet he who most
sweetly courts those who live under this regime and indulges
them and fawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating and
gratifying their humors is held to be a great and good states-
man--do not these States resemble the persons whom I was

  Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am
very far from praising them.

  But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity
of these ready ministers of political corruption?

  Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are
some whom the applause of the multitude has deluded into
the belief that they are really statesmen, and these are not
much to be admired.

  What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling
for them. When a man cannot measure, and a great many
others who cannot measure declare that he is four 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 always fancying that by legisla-
tion they will make an end of frauds in contracts, and the
other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that
they are in reality 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 this class of enactments whether concerning laws
or the constitution either in an ill-ordered or in a well-
ordered State; for in the former they are quite useless, and in
the latter there will be no difficulty in devising them; and
many of them will naturally flow out of our previous regu-

  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 the ordering of the greatest and noblest and
chiefest things of all.

  Which are they? he said.

  The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire ser-
vice of gods, demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the
repositories of the dead, and the rites which have to be ob-
served by him who would propitiate the inhabitants of the
world below. These are matters of which we are ignorant
ourselves, and as founders of a city we should be unwise in
trusting them to any interpreter but our ancestral deity. He
is the god who sits in the centre, on the navel of the 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 that our city has been made habitable, light
a candle and search, and get your brother and Polemarchus
and the rest of our friends to help, and let us see where in
it we can discover justice and where injustice, and in what
they differ from one another, and which of them the man
who would be happy should have for his portion, whether seen
or unseen by gods and men.

  Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search
yourself, saying that for you 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 my word; but you must join.

  We will, he replied.

  Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I
mean to begin with the assumption that our State, if rightly
ordered, is perfect.

  That is most certain.

  And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and tem-
perate and just.

  That is likewise clear.

  And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the
one which is not found will be the residue?

  Very good.

  If there were four things, and we were searching for one
of them, wherever it might be, the one sought for might be
known to us from the first, and there would be no further
trouble; or we might know the other three first, and then the
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 also four in number?


  First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes
into view, and in this I detect a certain peculiarity.

  What is that?

  The State which we have been describing is said to be wise
as being good in counsel?

  Very true.

  And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not
by ignorance, but by knowledge, do men counsel well?


  And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and

  Of course.

  There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the
sort of knowledge which gives a city the title of wise and
good in counsel?

  Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation
of skill in carpentering.

  Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a
knowledge which counsels for the best about wooden imple-

  Certainly not.

  Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen
pots, he said, nor as possessing 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 give the city the name of agricultural?


  Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently
founded State among any 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 and with
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 whom we were just now describing as
perfect guardians.

  And what is the name which the city derives from the pos-
session of this sort of knowledge?

  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 name from the profession of some kind of

  Much the smallest.

  And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the
knowledge which resides in this presiding and ruling part of
itself, the whole State, being thus constituted according to
nature, will be wise; and this, which has the only knowledge
worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to
be of all classes the least.

  Most true.

  Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one
of the four virtues have 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 in what part that quality resides which gives the
name of courageous to the State.

  How do you mean?

  Why, I said, everyone who calls any State courageous or
cowardly, will be thinking of the part which fights and goes
out to war on the State's behalf.

  No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.

  The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be
cowardly, but their courage or cowardice will not, as I con-
ceive, have the effect of making the city either the one or the

  Certainly not.

  The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of her-
self which preserves under all circumstances that opinion about
the nature of things to be feared and not to be feared in which
our legislator educated them; and this is what you term

  I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for
I do not think that I perfectly 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 what nature, which the law implants through edu-
cation; 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 lose this
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 true sea-purple, begin by selecting their white
color first; this they prepare and dress with much care and
pains, in order that the white ground may take the purple hue
in full perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever
is dyed in this manner becomes a fast color, and no washing
either with lyes or without them can take away the bloom.
But, when the ground has not been duly prepared, you will
have noticed how poor is the look either of purple or of any
other color.

  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 our soldiers, and educating them in music and
gymnastics; we were contriving influences which would pre-
pare them to take the dye of the laws in perfection, and the
color of their opinion about dangers and of every other opin-
ion was to be indelibly fixed by their nurture and training,
not to be washed away by such potent lyes as pleasure--
mightier agent far in washing the soul than any soda or lye;
or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the mightiest of all other sol-
vents. And this sort of universal saving power of true opin-
ion in conformity with law about real and false dangers I call
and maintain to be courage, unless you disagree.

  But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to
exclude mere uninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast
or of a slave--this, in your opinion, is not the courage which
the law ordains, and ought to have another 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 the examination further, but at present we are
seeking, not for courage, but justice; and for the purpose of
our inquiry we have said enough.

  You are right, he replied.

  Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State--first,
temperance, and then justice, which is the end of our search.

  Very true.

  Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about

  I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor
do I desire that justice should be brought to light and temper-
ance lost sight of; and therefore I wish that you would do
me the favor 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 of temperance 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 cer-
tain pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied
in the saying of "a man being his own master;" and other
traces of the same notion may be found in language.

  No doubt, he said.

  There is something ridiculous in the expression "master of
himself;" for the master is also the servant and the servant
the master; and in all these modes of speaking the same per-
son is denoted.


  The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is
a better and also a worse principle; and when the better has
the worse under control, then a man is said to be master of
himself; and this is a term of praise: but when, owing to evil
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 blamed and is called the slave of self and

  Yes, there is reason in that.

  And now, I said, look at our newly created State, and there
you will find one of these two conditions realized; for the
State, as you will acknowledge, may be justly called master
of itself, if the words "temperance" and "self-mastery" truly
express the rule of the better part over the worse.

  Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.

  Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleas-
ures and desires and pains are generally found in children
and women and servants, and in the freemen so called who
are of the lowest and more numerous class.

  Certainly, he said.

  Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow rea-
son, and are under the guidance of mind and true opinion,
are to be found only in a few, and those the best born and
best educated.

  Very true.
These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our State;
and the meaner desires of the many are held down by the
virtuous desires and wisdom of the few.

  That I perceive, he said.

  Then if there be any city which may be described as master
of its own pleasures and 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 the question who are to rule, that again will
be our State?


  And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in
which class will temperance be found--in the rulers or in the

  In both, as I should imagine, he replied.

  Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess
that temperance was a sort of harmony?

  Why so?

  Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom,
each of which resides in a part only, the one making the State
wise and the other valiant; not so temperance, which extends
to the whole, and runs through all the notes of the scale, and
produces a harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the
middle class, whether you suppose them to be stronger or
weaker in wisdom, or power, or numbers, or wealth, or any-
thing else. Most truly then may we deem temperance to be
the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior, as to the
right to rule of either, both in States and individuals.

  I entirely agree with you.

  And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four vir-
tues to have been discovered in our State. The last of those
qualities which make a State virtuous 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 the cover, and look sharp that justice
does not steal away, and pass out of sight and escape us; for
beyond a doubt she is somewhere in this country: watch
therefore and strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see
her first, let me know.

  Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as
a follower who has just eyes enough to see what you show
him--that is about as much as I am good for.

  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 perplex-
ing; still we must push on.

  Let us push on.

  Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive
a track, and I believe 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 inquiry, ages
ago, there was Justice tumbling out at our feet, and we never
saw her; nothing could be more ridiculous. Like people who
go about looking for what they have in their hands--that was
the way with us--we looked not at what we were seeking,
but at what was far off in the distance; and therefore, I sup-
pose, we missed her.

  What do you mean?

  I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have
been talking of Justice, and have failed to recognize her.

  I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.
Well, then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You
remember the original principle which we were always lay-
ing down at the foundation of the State, that one man should
practise one thing only, the thing to which his nature 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 busi-
ness, and not being a busybody; we said so again and again,
and many others have said the same to us.

  Yes, we said so.

  Then to do one's own business in a certain way may be
assumed to be justice. Can you tell me whence I derive this

  I cannot, but I should like to be told.

  Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains
in the State when the other virtues of temperance and cour-
age and wisdom are abstracted; and, that this is the ulti-
mate cause and condition of the existence of all of them,
and while remaining in them is also their preservative; and
we were saying that if the three were discovered by us, jus-
tice would be the fourth, or remaining one.

  That follows of necessity.

  If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities
by its presence contributes most to the excellence of the State,
whether the agreement of rulers and subjects, or the preser-
vation in the soldiers of the opinion which the law ordains
about the true nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness
in the rulers, or whether this other which I am mentioning,
and which is found in children and women, slave and freeman,
artisan, ruler, subject--the quality, I mean, of everyone 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

  Then the power of each individual in the State to do his
own work appears to compete 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 a State those to whom you would in-
trust the office of determining suits-at-law?


  And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man
may neither take what is 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 what is 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 be doing the business of a cobbler,
or a cobbler of a carpenter; and suppose them to exchange
their implements or their duties, or the same person to be
doing the work of both, or whatever be the change; do you
think that any great harm would result to the State?

  Not much.

  But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature de-
signed to be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or
strength or the number of his followers, or any like advan-
tage, attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or
a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he
is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of
the other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior
all in one, then I think you will agree with me in saying that
this interchange and this meddling of one with another is the
ruin of the State.

  Most true.
Seeing, then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any
meddling of one with another, or the change of one into an-
other, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most
justly termed evil-doing?


  And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one's own city would
be termed by you injustice?

This, then, is injustice; and on the other hand when the
trader, the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own busi-
ness, that is justice, and will make the city just.

  I agree with you.

  We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial,
this conception of justice be verified in the individual as well
as in the State, there will be no longer any room for doubt;
if it be not verified, we must have a fresh inquiry. First let
us complete the old investigation, which we began, as you re-
member, under the impression that, if we could previously ex-
amine justice on the larger scale, there would be less difficulty
in discerning her in the individual. That larger example ap-
peared to be the State, and accordingly we constructed as
good a one as we could, knowing well that in the good State
justice would be found. Let the discovery which we made be
now applied to the individual--if they agree, we shall be sat-
isfied; or, if there be a difference in the individual, we will
come back to the State and have another trial of the theory.
The friction of the two when rubbed together may possibly
strike a light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision
which is then revealed 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 same name, 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 just State?

  He will.

  And a State was thought by us to be just when the three
classes in the State severally did their own business; and also
thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of
certain other affections and qualities of these same classes?

  True, he said.

  And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the
same three principles in his own soul which are found in the
State; and he may be rightly described in 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
easy question--whether the soul has these three principles or

  An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds
that hard is the good.

  Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which
we are employing is at all adequate to the accurate solution
of this question; the true method is another and a longer one.
Still we may arrive at a solution not below the level of the
previous inquiry.

  May we not be satisfied with that? he said; under the cir-
cumstances, I am quite 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 same principles and habits which there are in the State;
and that from the individual they pass into the State?--how
else can they come there? Take the quality of passion or spirit;
it would be ridiculous to imagine that this quality, when
found in States, is not derived from the individuals who are
supposed to possess it, e.g., the Thracians, Scythians, and in
general the Northern nations; and the same may be said of
the love of knowledge, which is the 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 these principles are three or one; whether, that
is to say, we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with
another, and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our
natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes into play
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 the same 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 same time in the same part?


  Still, I said, let us have a more precise statement of terms,
lest we should hereafter fall out by the way. Imagine the
case of a man who is standing and also moving his hands and
his head, and suppose a person to say that one and the same
person is in motion and at rest at the same moment--to such
a mode of speech we should object, and should rather say that
one part of him is in motion while another is at rest.

  Very true.

  And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw
the nice distinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops,
when they spin round with 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), his ob-
jection would not be admitted by us, because in such cases
things are not at rest and in motion in the same parts of them-
selves; we should rather say that they have both an axis and
a circumference; and that the axis stands still, for there is
no deviation from the perpendicular; and that the circum-
ference goes round. But if, while revolving, the axis inclines
either to the right or left, forward or backward, 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 that the same thing at the same time, in the same
part or in relation to the same thing, 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, and prove at length that they are untrue, let
us assume their absurdity, and go forward on the understand-
ing that hereafter, if this assumption turn out to be untrue, 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 regarded as active or passive (for
that makes no difference in the fact of their opposition)?

  Yes, he said, they are opposites.

  Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in gen-
eral, and again willing and wishing--all these you would refer
to the classes already mentioned. You would say--would you
not?--that the soul of him who desires is seeking after the
object of his desire; or that he is drawing to himself the thing
which he wishes to possess: or again, when a person wants
anything to be given him, his mind, longing for the realiza-
tion of his desire, intimates his wish to have it by a nod of
assent, as if he had been asked a question?

  Very true.

  And what would you say of unwillingness and dislike and
the absence of desire; should not these be referred to the op-
posite class of repulsion and rejection?


  Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose
a particular class of desires, and out of these we will select
hunger and thirst, as they are 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, warm or cold, or much or
little, or, in a word, drink of any particular sort: but if the
thirst be accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink;
or, if accompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the
thirst be excessive, then the drink which is desired will be ex-
cessive; or, if not great, the quantity of drink will also be
small: but thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure and
simple, 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 simple object, and the qualified desire of the qualified

  But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard
against an opponent starting up and saying that no man de-
sires drink only, but good drink, or food only, but good food;
for good is the universal object of desire, and thirst being a
desire, will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the
same is true 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 quality attached to either term of the relation; others
are simple and have their correlatives simple.

  I do not know what you mean.

  Well, you know of course that the greater is relative to the


  And the much greater to the much less?


  And the sometime greater to the sometime less, and the
greater that is to be to the less that is to be?

  Certainly, he said.

  And so of more or less, and of other correlative terms, such
as the double and the 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 all of them?


  And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The
object of science is knowledge (assuming that to be the true
definition), but the object of a particular science is a particu-
lar kind of knowledge; I mean, for example, that the science
of house-building is a kind of knowledge which is defined and

distinguished from other kinds and is therefore termed archi-


  Because it has a particular quality which no other has?


  And it has this particular quality because it has an object
of a particular kind; and this is true of the other arts and


  Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will under-
stand my original meaning in what I said about relatives. My
meaning was, that if one term of a relation is taken alone,
the other is taken alone; if one term is qualified, the other
is also qualified. I do not mean to say that relatives may
not be disparate, or that the science of health is healthy, or
of disease necessarily diseased, or that 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 quali-
fied object which in this case is the nature of health and dis-
ease, it becomes defined, and is hence called not merely sci-
ence, 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 thirst taken alone is neither of much nor little,
nor of good nor bad, nor of any particular kind of drink, but
of drink only?


  Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty,
desires only drink; 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, that must be different from the thirsty prin-
ciple which draws him like a beast to drink; for, as we were
saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with the same
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 at the 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 was something in the soul bidding a man to
drink, and something else forbidding him, 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 and attracts proceeds from passion and dis-


  Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they
differ from one another; the one with which a man reasons,
we may call the rational principle of the soul; the other, with
which he loves, and hungers, and thirsts, and feels the flutter-
ings of any other desire, may be termed the irrational or ap-
petitive, 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 the soul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it
a third, or akin to one of the preceding?

  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 I put faith. The story is, that Leontius,
the son of Aglaion, coming up one day from the Piraeus, under
the north wall on the outside, observed some dead bodies
lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a de-
sire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them;
for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length the
desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran
up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your
fill 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, as though 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's desires violently prevail over his reason,
he reviles himself, and is angry at the violence within him,
and that in this struggle, which is like the struggle of factions
in a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason; but for the
passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires
when reason decides that she should not be opposed, is a sort
of thing which I believe that you never observed occurring
in yourself, nor, as I should imagine, in anyone else?

  Certainly not.

  Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another,
the nobler he is, the less able is he to feel indignant at any
suffering, such as hunger, or cold, or any other pain which
the injured person may inflict upon him--these he deems 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 and chafes, and is on the side of what he be-
lieves to be justice; and because he suffers hunger or cold
or other pain he is only the more determined to persevere and
conquer. His noble spirit will not be quelled until he either
slays 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 are their shepherds.

  I perceive, I said, that you quite understand me; there is,
however, a further point which I wish you to consider.

  What point?

  You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight
to be a kind of desire, but now we should say quite the con-
trary; for in the conflict of the soul 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 a kind 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 the State was
composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so
may there not be in the individual soul a third element which
is passion or spirit, and when not corrupted by bad educa-
tion 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 from desire, turn out also to be different from

  But that is easily proved: We may observe even in young
children that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they
are born, whereas some of them never 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 a further proof of the truth of what you are
saying. And we may once more appeal to 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 the better and worse to be different from the
unreasoning anger which is rebuked by it.

  Very true, he said.

  And so, after much tossing, we have reached land, and are
fairly agreed that the same principles which exist in the State
exist also in the individual, and that they are three in number.


  Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the
same way, and in virtue of the same quality which makes the
State wise?


  Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the
State constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the
State and the individual bear the same relation to all the other


  And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just
in the same way in which the State is just?

  That follows of course.

  We cannot but remember that the justice of the State con-
sisted in each of the three classes doing the work of its own

  We are not very likely to have forgotten, he said.

  We must recollect that the individual in whom the several
qualities of his nature 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 the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or
spirited principle to be the subject and ally?


  And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and
gymnastics will bring them into accord, nerving and sustaining
the reason with noble words and lessons, and moderating and
soothing and civilizing the wildness of passion by harmony
and rhythm?

  Quite true, he said.

  And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having
learned truly to know their own functions, will rule over the
concupiscent, which in each of us is the largest part of the
soul and by nature most insatiable of gain; over this they
will keep guard, lest, waxing great and strong with the fulness
of bodily pleasures, as they are termed, the concupiscent soul,
no longer confined to her own sphere, should attempt to en-
slave and rule those who are not her natural-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 the whole body against attacks from without;
the one counselling, and the other fighting under his leader,
and courageously executing his commands and counsels?


  And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in
pleasure and in pain the 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 which proclaims these commands; that part too
being supposed to have a knowledge of what is for the in-
terest of each of the three parts and of the whole?


  And would you not say that he is temperate who has these
same elements in friendly harmony, in whom the one ruling
principle of reason, and the two subject ones of spirit and de-
sire, are equally agreed that reason ought to rule, and do not

  Certainly, he said, that is the true account of temperance
whether in the State or individual.

  And surely, I said, we have explained again and again how
and by virtue of what quality a man will be just.

  That is very certain.

  And is justice dimmer in the individual, and is her form
different, or is she the same which we found her to be in the

  There is no difference, in my opinion, he said.

  Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few
commonplace instances 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 who is trained in the principles of such a
State, will be less likely than the unjust to make away with a
deposit of gold or silver? Would anyone deny this?

  No one, he replied.

  Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or
theft, or treachery either 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 dishonor
his father and mother, or to fail in his religious duties?

  No one.

  And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own
business, whether in ruling or being ruled?

  Exactly so.

  Are you satisfied, then, that the quality which makes such
men and such States is justice, or do you hope to discover
some other?

  Not I, indeed.

  Then our dream has been realized; and the suspicion which
we entertained at the beginning of our work of construction,
that some divine power must have conducted us to a primary
form of justice, has now been verified?

  Yes, certainly.

  And the division of labor which required the carpenter and
the shoemaker and the rest of the citizens to be doing each his
own business, and not another'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 and concernment of man: for the
just man does not permit the several elements within him to
interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work of
others--he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own mas-
ter and his own law, and at peace with himself; and when he
has bound together the three principles within him, which may
be compared to the higher, lower, and middle notes of the scale,
and the intermediate intervals--when he has bound all these
together, and is no longer many, but has become one entirely
temperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to
act, if he has to act, whether in a matter of property, or in
the treatment of the body, or in some affair of politics or private
business; always thinking and calling that which preserves and
co-operates with this harmonious condition just and good
action, and the knowledge which presides over it wisdom, and
that which at any time impairs this condition he will call unjust
action, and the opinion which presides 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 the just State, and the nature of justice in
each of them, we should not be telling a 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--a meddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up
of a part of the soul against the whole, an assertion of unlaw-
ful authority, which is made by a rebellious subject against a
true prince, of whom he is the natural vassal--what is all this
confusion and delusion but injustice, and intemperance, and
cowardice, and ignorance, and every form of vice?

  Exactly so.

  And if the nature of justice and injustice be known, then
the meaning of acting unjustly and being unjust, or, again, of
acting justly, will also be perfectly clear?

  What do you mean? he said.

  Why, I said, they are like disease and health; being in the
soul just what disease and health are in the body.

  How so? he said.

  Why, I said, that which is healthy causes health, and that
which is unhealthy causes disease.


  And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause

  That is certain.

  And the creation of health is the institution of a natural order
and government of one by another in the parts of the body; and
the creation of disease is the production of a state of things at
variance with this natural order?


  And is not the creation of justice the institution of a natural
order and government of one by another in the parts of the
soul, and the creation of injustice the production of a state of
things at variance with the natural order?

  Exactly so, he said.

  Then virtue is the health, and beauty, and well-being of the
soul, and vice the disease, and weakness, and deformity, of the


  And do not good practices lead to virtue, and evil practices
to vice?


  Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice
and injustice has not been answered: Which is the more profit-
able, to be just and act justly and practise virtue, whether seen
or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjust and 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, though pampered with all
kinds of meats and drinks, and having all wealth and all power;
and shall we be told that when the very essence of the vital
principle is undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having
to a man, if only he be allowed to do whatever he likes with
the single exception that he is not to acquire justice and virtue,
or to escape from injustice and vice; assuming them both to be
such as we have described?

  Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still,
as we are near the spot 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, I mean, 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 some tower of speculation, a man may look
down and see that virtue is one, but that the forms of vice are
innumerable; there being four special ones which are deserving
of note.

  What do you mean? he said.

  I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of
the soul as there are 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 said to have two names, monarchy and aristoc-
racy, according as rule is exercised by one distinguished man
or by many.

  True, he replied.

  But I regard the two names as describing one form only;
for whether the government is in the hands of one or many,
if the governors have been trained in the manner which we
have supposed, the fundamental laws of the State will be

  That is true, he replied.

                         BOOK V


  SUCH is the good and true City or State, and the good and
true man is of the same pattern; and if this is right every
other is wrong; and the evil is one which affects not only
the ordering of the State, but also the regulation of the indi-
vidual 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 me to succeed one another, when Polemar-
chus, who was sitting a little way off, just beyond Adeimantus,
began to whisper to him: stretching forth his hand, he took
hold of the upper part of his coat by the shoulder, and drew
him toward him, leaning forward himself so as to be quite close
and saying something in his ear, of which I only caught the
words, "Shall we let him off, or what shall 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 whole chapter which is a very important part of
the story; and you fancy that we shall not notice your airy way
of proceeding; as if it were self-evident to everybody, that in
the matter of women and children "friends have all things in

  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 com-
munity you mean. We have been long expecting that you
would tell us something about the family life of your citizens--
how they will bring children into the world, and rear them
when they have arrived, and, in general, what is the nature of
this community of women and children--for we are of opinion
that the right or wrong management of such matters will have
a great and paramount influence on the State 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, not to let you go until you give an account of all this.

  To that resolution, said Glaucon, you may regard me as say-
ing: Agreed.

  And without more ado, said Thrasymachus, you may con-
sider us all to be equally agreed.

  I said, You know not what you are doing in thus assailing
me: What an argument are you raising about the State! Just
as I thought that I had finished, and was only too glad that I
had laid this question to sleep, and was reflecting how fortu-
nate I was in your acceptance of what I then said, you ask me
to begin again at the very foundation, ignorant of what a hor-
net's nest of words you are stirring. Now I foresaw this gath-
ering trouble, and avoided it.

  For what purpose do you conceive that we have come here,
said Thrasymachus--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 wise men assign to the hearing of such discourses.
But never mind about us; take heart yourself and answer the
question in your own way: What sort of community of women
and children is this which is to prevail among our guardians?
and how shall we manage the period between birth and educa-
tion, which seems to require the greatest care? Tell us how
these things will be.

  Yes, my simple friend, but the answer is the reverse of easy;
many more doubts arise about this than about our previous con-
clusions. For the practicability of what is said may be doubted;
and looked at in another point of view, whether the scheme, if
ever so practicable, would be for the best, is also doubtful.
Hence I feel a reluctance to approach the subject, lest our as-
piration, my dear friend, should turn out to be a dream only.

  Fear not, he replied, for your audience will not be hard upon
you; they are not sceptical or hostile.

  I said: My good friend, I suppose that you mean to encour-
age me by these words.

  Yes, he said.

  Then let me tell you that you are doing just the reverse; the
encouragement which you offer would have been all very well
had I myself believed that I knew what I was talking about.
To declare the truth about matters of high interest which a man
honors and loves, among wise men who love him, need occasion
no fear or faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument
when you are yourself only a hesitating inquirer, which is my
condition, is a dangerous and slippery thing; and the danger
is not that I shall be laughed at (of which the fear would be
childish), but that I shall miss the truth where I have most
need to be sure of my footing, and drag my friends after me
in my fall. And I pray Nemesis not to visit upon me the words
which I am going to utter. For I do indeed believe that to be
an involuntary homicide is a less crime than to be a deceiver
about beauty, or goodness, or justice, in the matter of laws.
And that is a risk which I would rather run among enemies
than among friends; and therefore you do well to encourage

  Glaucon laughed and said: Well, then, Socrates, in case
you and your argument do us any serious injury you shall be
acquitted beforehand of the homicide, and shall 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 perhaps ought to have said before in the proper
place. The part of the men has been played out, and now
properly enough comes the turn of the women. Of them I will
proceed to speak, and the more readily since I am invited by

  For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way,
in my opinion, of arriving at a right conclusion about the pos-
session and use of women and children is to follow the path
on which we originally started, when we said that the men
were to be the guardians and watch-dogs of the herd.


  Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women
to be subject to similar or nearly similar regulations; then we
shall see whether the result accords with our design.

  What do you mean?

  What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said:
Are dogs divided into he's and she's, or do they both share
equally in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties
of dogs? or do we intrust to the males the entire and exclusive
care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under
the idea that the bearing and the suckling of their puppies are
labor enough for them?

  No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between
them is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.

  But can you use different animals for the same purpose, un-
less they are bred and fed in the same way?

  You cannot.

  Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they
must have the same nurture and education?


  The education which was assigned to the men was music and

  Then women must be taught music and gymnastics and also
the art of war, which they must practise like the men?

  That is the inference, I suppose.

  I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals,
if they are carried 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 in the palaestra, exercising with the men, es-
pecially when they are no longer young; they certainly will not
be a vision of beauty, any more than the enthusiastic old men
who, in spite of wrinkles and ugliness, continue to frequent
the gymnasia.

  Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the pro-
posal would be thought ridiculous.

  But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds,
we must not fear the 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 gymnastics, and above all about
their wearing armor and riding upon horseback!

  Very true, he replied.
Yet, having begun, we must go forward to the rough places
of the law; at the same time begging of these gentlemen for
once in their life to be serious. Not long ago, as we shall re-
mind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is still
generally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a
naked man was ridiculous and improper; and when first the
Cretans, and then the Lacedaemonians, introduced the custom,
the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed the innova-

  No doubt.

  But when experience showed that to let all things be un-
covered was far better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous
effect to the outward eye had vanished before the better princi-
ple which reason asserted, then the man was perceived to be a
fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but
that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beauti-
ful by any other standard but that of the good.

  Very true, he replied.

  First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in
earnest, let us come to an understanding about the nature of
woman: Is she capable of sharing either wholly or partially
in the actions of men, or not at all? And is the art of war one
of those arts in which she can or cannot share? That will
be the best way of commencing the inquiry, and will probably
lead to the fairest conclusion.

  That will be much the best way.

  Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing
against ourselves? in this 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 was to do the one
work suited to his own nature." And certainly, if I am not
mistaken, such an admission was made by us. "And do not
the natures of men and women differ very much indeed?"
And we shall reply, Of course they do. Then we shall be
asked, "Whether the tasks assigned to men and to women
should not be different, and such as are agreeable to their differ-
ent natures?" Certainly they should. "But if so, have you
not fallen into a serious inconsistency in saying that men and
women, whose natures are so entirely different, ought to per-
form the same actions?" What defence will you make for us,
my good sir, against anyone who offers these objections?

  That is not an easy question to answer when asked suddenly;
and I shall and I do 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 any law about the possession and
nurture of women and children.

  By Zeus, he said, the problem to be solved is anything but
Why, yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of
his depth, whether he has fallen into a little swimming-bath
or into mid-ocean, he has to swim all the same.

  Very true.

  And must not we swim and try to reach the shore--we will
hope that Arion'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.
We acknowledged--did we not?--that different natures ought
to have different pursuits, and that men's and women's natures
are different. And now what are we saying?--that different
natures ought to have the same pursuits--this is the inconsist-
ency which is charged upon us.


  Verily, Glaucon, I said, glorious is the power of the art of

  Why do you say so?

  Because I think that many a man falls into the practice
against his will. When he thinks that he is reasoning he is
really disputing, just because he cannot define and divide, and
so know that of which he is speaking; and he will pursue a
merely verbal opposition in the spirit of contention and not of
fair discussion.

  Yes, he replied, such is very often the case; but what has
that to do with us and our argument?

  A great deal; for there is certainly a danger of our getting
unintentionally into a verbal opposition.

  In what way?
Why we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal
truth, that different natures ought to have different pursuits,
but we never considered at all what was the meaning of same-
ness or difference of nature, or why we distinguished them
when we assigned different pursuits to different natures and
the same to the 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 whether there is not an opposition in nature be-
tween bald men and hairy men; and if this is admitted by us,
then, if bald men are cobblers, we should forbid the hairy 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 the State, that the opposition of natures should
extend to every difference, but only to those differences which
affected the pursuit in which the individual is engaged; we
should have argued, for example, that a physician and one who
is in mind a physician may be said to have the same nature.


  Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different


  And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in
their fitness for any art or pursuit, we should say that such
pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one or the other of them;
but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men
begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that a
woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education
she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to main-
tain that our guardians and their wives ought to have the same

  Very true, he said.

  Next, we shall ask our opponent how, in reference to any
of the pursuits or arts of civic life, the nature of a woman dif-
fers from that of a man?

  That will be quite fair.

  And perhaps he, like yourself, will reply that to give a suffi-
cient answer on the instant is not easy; but after a little reflec-
tion there is no difficulty.

  Yes, perhaps.

  Suppose then that we invite him to accompany us in the
argument, and then we may hope to show him that there is
nothing peculiar in the constitution of women 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 ques-
tion: When you spoke of a nature gifted or not gifted in any
respect, did you mean to say that one man will acquire a thing
easily, another with difficulty; a little learning will lead the one
to discover a great deal, whereas the other, after much study
and application, no sooner learns than he forgets; or again,
did you mean, that the one has a body which is a good servant
to his mind, while the body of the other is a hinderance to him?
--would not these be the sort of differences which 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 all these gifts and qualities in a higher degree
than the female? Need I waste time in speaking of the art
of weaving, and the management of pancakes and preserves,
in which womankind does really appear to be great, and in
which for her to be beaten by a man is of all things the most

  You are quite right, he replied, in maintaining the general
inferiority of the female sex: although many women are in
many things superior to many men, yet on the whole what you
say is true.

  And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of
administration in a State which a woman has because she is a
woman, or which a man has by virtue of his sex, but the gifts
of nature are alike diffused in both; all the pursuits of men are
the pursuits of women also, but in all of them a woman is in-
ferior 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 another has no music in her nature?

  Very true.

  And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exer-
cises, and another is unwarlike and hates gymnastics?


  And one woman is a philosopher, and another is an enemy
of philosophy; one has spirit, and another is without spirit?

  That is also true.

  Then one woman will have the temper of a guardian, and
another not. Was not the selection of the male guardians de-
termined by differences of this sort?


  Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a
guardian; they differ only in their comparative strength or


  And those women who have such qualities are to be selected
as the companions and colleagues of men who have similar
qualities and whom they resemble in capacity 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 music and gymnastics to the wives of the guar-
dians--to that point we come round again.

  Certainly not.

  The law which we then enacted was agreeable to nature,
and therefore not an impossibility or mere aspiration; and the
contrary practice, which prevails at present, is in reality a viola-
tion of nature.

  That appears to be true.

  We had to consider, first, whether our proposals were possi-
ble, and secondly whether 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 will make 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 than another?

  The latter.

  And in the commonwealth which we were founding do you
conceive the guardians who have been brought up on our
model system to be more perfect men, or the cobblers whose
education has been cobbling?

  What a ridiculous question!

  You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not
further say that our guardians 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 the men 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 gymnastics, when
present in such a manner as we have described, will accom-


  Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in
the highest degree beneficial 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; only in the distribution of labors
the lighter are to be assigned to the women, who are 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 the best of motives, in his laughter he is

  "A fruit of unripe wisdom,"

and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what
he is about; for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings,
"that the useful 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 we have now escaped; the wave has not swal-
lowed us up alive for enacting that the guardians of either sex
should have all their pursuits in common; to the utility and
also to the possibility of this arrangement the consistency of the
argument 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 you see the next.

  Go on; let me see.

  The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that
has preceded, is to the following effect, "that the wives of our
guardians are to be common, and their children are to be com-
mon, and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his

  Yes, he said, that is a much greater wave than the other;
and the possibility as 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 great utility of having wives and children in common;
the possibility is quite another matter, and will be very much

  I think that a good many doubts may be raised about both.

  You imply that the two questions must be combined, I re-
plied. Now I meant that you should admit the utility; and
in this way, as I thought, I should escape from one of them,
and then there would remain only the possibility.

  But that little attempt is detected, and therefore you will
please to give a defence of both.

  Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little
favor: let me feast my mind with the dream as day-dreamers
are in the habit of feasting themselves when they are walking
alone; for before they have discovered any means of effecting
their wishes--that is a matter which never troubles them--they
would rather not tire themselves by thinking about possibilities;
but assuming that what they desire is already granted to them,
they proceed with their plan, and delight in detailing what they
mean to do when their wish has come true--that is a way which
they have of not doing much good to a capacity which was
never good for much. Now I myself am beginning to lose
heart, and I should like, with your permission, to pass over the
question of possibility at present. Assuming therefore the pos-
sibility of the proposal, I shall now proceed to inquire how the
rulers will carry out these arrangements, and I shall demon-
strate that our plan, if executed, will be of the greatest benefit
to the State and to the guardians. First of all, then, if you
have no objection, I will endeavor with your help to consider
the advantages of the measure; and hereafter the question of

  I have no objection; proceed.

  First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to
be worthy of the name which they bear, there must be willing-
ness to obey in the one and the power of command in the other;
the guardians themselves must obey the laws, and they must
also imitate the spirit of them in any details which are intrusted
to their care.

  That is right, he said.

  You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men,
will now select the women and give them to them; they must
be as far as possible of like natures with them; and they must
live in common houses and meet at common meals. None of
them will have anything specially his or her own; they will be
together, and will be brought up together, and will associate
at gymnastic exercises. And so they will be drawn by a neces-
sity of their natures to have intercourse with each other--ne-
cessity is not too strong a word, I think?

  Yes, he said; necessity, not geometrical, but another sort of
necessity which lovers know, and which is far more convincing
and constraining to the mass of mankind.

  True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed
after an orderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness
is an unholy thing which 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 highest degree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed


  And how can marriages be made most beneficial? that is a
question which I put to you, because I see in your house dogs
for hunting, and of the nobler sort of birds not a few. Now,
I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attended to their pair-
ing and breeding?

  In what particulars?

  Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort,
are not some better than others?


  And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take
care to breed from the 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 greatly deteriorate?


  And the same of horses and of animals in general?


  Good heavens! my dear friend, I said, what consummate skill
will our rulers need if the same principle holds of the human

  Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this in-
volve any particular skill?

  Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon
the body corporate with medicines. Now you know that when
patients do not require medicines, but have only to be put under
a regimen, the inferior sort of practitioner is deemed to be good
enough; but when medicine has to be given, then the doctor
should 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 falsehood and deceit necessary for the good of their subjects:
we were saying that the use of all these things regarded as med-
icines might be of advantage.

  And we were very right.

  And this lawful use of them seems likely to be often needed
in the regulations of marriages and births.

  How so?

  Why, I said, the principle has been already laid down that
the best of either sex should be united with the best as often,
and the inferior with the inferior as seldom, as possible; and
that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union,
but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate
condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the
rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd,
as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.

  Very true.

  Had we better not appoint certain festivals at which we will
bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will
be offered and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets:
the number of weddings is a matter which must be left to the
discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the aver-
age of 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 as far as this is possible to
prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.

  Certainly, he replied.

  We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which
the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing
them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and
not the rulers.

  To be sure, he said.

  And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their
other honors and rewards, might have greater facilities of in-
tercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a rea-
son, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible.


  And the proper officers, whether male or female or both,
for offices are to be held by women as well as by men--

  The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents
to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain
nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the
inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will
be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should

  Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians
is to be kept pure.

  They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the
mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, taking the great-
est possible care that no mother recognizes her own child; and
other wet-nurses may be engaged if more are required. Care
will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not be pro-
tracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at
night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing
to the nurses and attendants.

  You suppose the wives of our guardians to have a fine easy
time of it when they are having children.

  Why, said I, and so they ought. Let us, however, proceed
with our scheme. We were 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 about twenty years in a woman's life, and thirty
years 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 the State, and continue to bear them until forty;
a man may begin at five-and-twenty, when he has passed the
point at which the pulse of life beats quickest, and continue to
beget children until he be fifty-five.

  Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are
the prime of physical as well as of intellectual vigor.
Anyone above or below the prescribed ages who takes part
in the public hymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy
and unrighteous thing; the child of which he is the father, if
it steals into life, will have been conceived under auspices very
unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymeneal priest-
esses and priests and the whole city will offer, that the new
generation may be better and more useful than their good and
useful parents, whereas his child will be the offspring of dark-
ness and strange lust.

  Very true, he replied.

  And the same law will apply to any one of those within the
prescribed age who forms a connection with any woman in the
prime of life without the sanction of the rulers; for we shall
say that he is raising up a bastard to the State, uncertified and

  Very true, he replied.

  This applies, however, only to those who are within the spec-
ified age: after that we will allow them to range at will, except
that a man may not marry his daughter or his daughter's
daughter, or his mother or his mother's mother; and women,
on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their sons or
fathers, or son's son or father's father, and so on in either di-
rection. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission
with strict orders 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 the offspring of such a union
cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly.

  That also, he said, is a reasonable proposition. But how
will they know who are fathers and daughters, and so on?

  They will never know. The way will be this: dating from
the day of the hymeneal, the bridegroom who was then married
will call all the male children who are born in the seventh and
the tenth month afterward his sons, and the female children his
daughters, and they will call him father, and he will call their
children his grandchildren, and they will call the elder genera-
tion grandfathers and grandmothers. All who were begotten
at the time when their fathers and mothers came together will
be called their brothers and sisters, and these, as I was saying,
will be forbidden to intermarry. This, however, is not to be
understood as an absolute prohibition of the marriage of
brothers and sisters; if the lot favors them, and they receive the
sanction of the Pythian oracle, the law will allow them.

  Quite right, he replied.

  Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guar-
dians of our State are to have their wives and families in com-
mon. And now you would have the argument show that this
community is consistent with the rest of our polity, and also
that 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 the chief aim of the legislator in making laws
and in the organization of a State--what is the greatest good,
and what is the greatest evil, and then consider whether our
previous description has the stamp of the good or of the evil?

  By all means.

  Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction
and plurality where unity 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--where all 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 is disorganized--when you have one-half of the world
triumphing and the other plunged in grief at the same events
happening to the city or the citizens?


  Such differences commonly originate in a disagreement about
the use of the terms "mine" and "not mine," "his" and "not

  Exactly so.

  And is not that the best-ordered State in which the greatest
number of persons apply the terms "mine" and "not mine" in
the same way to the same thing?

  Quite true.

  Or that again which most nearly approaches to the condition
of the individual--as in the body, when but a finger of one of
us is hurt, the whole frame, drawn toward the soul as a centre
and forming one kingdom under the ruling power therein, feels
the hurt and sympathizes all together with the part affected,
and we say that the man has a pain in his finger; and the
same expression is used about any other part of the body, which
has a sensation of pain at suffering or of pleasure at the alle-
viation of suffering.

  Very true, he replied; and I agree with you that in the best-
ordered State there is the nearest approach to this common feel-
ing which you describe.

  Then when any one of the citizens experiences any good or
evil, the whole State will 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 this or 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 other States?

  Generally they call them masters, but in democratic States
they simply call them rulers.

  And in our State what other name besides that of citizens
do the people give the 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 of one 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, and the other as a stranger in whom he has
no interest?


  But would any of your guardians think or speak of any
other guardian as a stranger?

  Certainly he would not; for everyone whom they meet will
be regarded by them either as a brother or sister, or father
or mother, or son or daughter, or as the 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 name only; or shall they in all their actions be
true to the name? For example, in the use of the word
"father," would the care of a father be implied and the filial
reverence and duty and obedience to him which the law com-
mands; and is the violator of these duties to be regarded as an
impious and unrighteous person who is not likely to receive
much good either at the hands of God or of man? Are these
to be or not to be the strains which the children will hear re-
peated in their ears by all the citizens about those who are inti-
mated to them to be their parents and the rest of their kinsfolk?

  These, he said, and none other; for what can be more ridicu-
lous than for them to utter the names of family ties with the
lips only and not to act in the spirit of them?

  Then in our city the language of harmony and concord will
be more often heard than in any other. As I was describing
before, when anyone is well or ill, the universal word will be
"with me it is well" or "it is ill."

  Most true.

  And agreeably to this mode of thinking and speaking, were
we not saying that they will have their pleasures and pains in

  Yes, and so they will.

  And they will have a common interest in the same thing
which they will alike call "my own," and having this common
interest they will have a common feeling of pleasure and pain?

  Yes, far more so than in other States.

  And the reason of this, over and above the general constitu-
tion of the State, will be that the guardians will have a com-
munity of women and children?

  That will be the chief reason.

  And this unity of feeling we admitted to be the greatest good,
as was implied in our comparison of a well-ordered State to the
relation of the body and the members, when affected by pleas-
ure or pain?

  That we acknowledged, and very rightly.

  Then the community of wives and children among our citi-
zens is clearly the source of the greatest good to the State?


  And this agrees with the other principle which we were
affirming--that the guardians were not to have houses or lands
or any other property; their pay was to be their food, which
they were to receive from the other citizens, and they were to
have no private expenses; for we intended them to preserve
their true character of guardians.

  Right, he replied.

  Both the community of property and the community of fami-
lies, as I am saying, tend to make them more truly guardians;
they will not tear the city in pieces by differing about "mine"
and "not mine;" each man dragging any acquisition which he
has made into a separate house of his own, where he has a sep-
arate wife and children and private pleasures and pains; but
all will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and
pains because they are all of one opinion about what is near and
dear to them, and therefore they all tend toward a common end.

  Certainly, he replied.

  And as they have nothing but their persons which they can
call their own, suits and complaints will have no existence
among them; they will be delivered from all 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 be honorable and right; we shall
make the protection of the person a matter of necessity.

  That is good, he said.

  Yes; and there is a further good in the law; viz., that if
a man has a quarrel with another he will satisfy his resentment
then and there, and not proceed to more dangerous lengths.


  To the elder shall be assigned the duty of ruling and chastis-
ing the younger.


  Nor can there be a doubt that the younger will not strike or
do any other violence to an elder, unless the magistrates com-
mand him; nor will he slight him in any way. For there are
two guardians, shame and fear, mighty to prevent him: shame,
which makes men refrain from laying hands on those who are
to them in the relation of parents; fear, that the injured one
will be succored by the others who are his brothers, sons,

  That is true, he replied.

  Then in every way the laws will help the citizens to keep the
peace with one another?

  Yes, there will be no want of peace.

  And as the guardians will never quarrel among themselves
there will be no danger of the rest of the city being divided
either against them or against one another.

  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 by the poor, and all the pains and
pangs which men experience in bringing up a family, and in
finding money to buy necessaries for their household, borrow-
ing and then repudiating, getting how they can, and giving
the money into the hands of women and slaves to keep--
the many evils of so many kinds which people suffer in this
way are mean enough and obvious enough, and not worth
speaking of.

  Yes, he said, a man has no need of eyes in order to perceive

  And from all these evils they will be delivered, and their life
will be blessed as the life of Olympic victors and yet more

  How so?

  The Olympic victor, I said, is deemed happy in receiving a
part only of the blessedness which is secured to our citizens,
who have won a more glorious victory and have a more com-
plete maintenance at the public cost. For the victory which
they have won is the salvation of the whole State; and the
crown with which they and their children are crowned is the
fulness of all that life needs; they receive rewards from the
hands of their country while living, and after death have an
honorable burial.

  Do you remember, I said, how in the course of the previous
discussion someone who shall be nameless accused us of mak-
ing our guardians unhappy--they had nothing and might have
possessed all things--to whom we replied that, if an occasion
offered, we might perhaps hereafter consider this question,
but that, as at present divided, we would make our guardians
truly guardians, and that we were fashioning the State with a
view to the greatest happiness, not of any 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 far better and nobler than that of Olympic vic-
tors--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 any of our guardians shall try to be happy
in such a manner that he will cease to be a guardian, and is not
content with this safe and harmonious life, which, in our judg-
ment, is of all lives the best, but, infatuated by some youthful
conceit of happiness which gets up into his head shall seek to
appropriate the whole State to himself, then he will have to
learn how wisely Hesiod spoke, when he said, "half is more
than the whole."

  If he were to consult me, I should say to him: Stay where
you are, when you have the offer of such a life.

  You agree then, I said, that men and women are to have a
common way of life such as we have described--common edu-
cation, common children; and they are to watch over the citi-
zens in common whether abiding in the city or going out to
war; they are to keep watch together, and to hunt together
like dogs; and always and in all things, as far as they are able,
women are to share with the men? And in so doing they will
do what is best, and will not violate, but preserve, the natural
relation of the sexes.

  I agree with you, he replied.

  The inquiry, I said, has yet to be made, whether such a com-
munity will be found possible--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

  There is no difficulty, I said, in seeing how war will be car-
ried on by them.


  Why, of course they will go on expeditions together; and
will take with them any of their children who are strong
enough, that, after the manner of the artisan's child, they may
look on at the work which they will have to do when they are
grown up; and besides looking on they will have to help and
be of use in war, and to wait upon their fathers and mothers.
Did you never observe in the arts how the potters' boys look on
and help, long before they touch the wheel?

  Yes, I have.

  And shall potters be more careful in educating their children
and in giving them the opportunity of seeing and practising
their duties than our guardians will be?

  The idea is ridiculous, he said.

  There is also the effect on the parents, with whom, as with
other animals, the presence of their young ones will be the
greatest incentive to valor.

  That is quite true, Socrates; and yet if they are defeated,
which may often happen in war, how great the danger is! the
children will be lost as well as their parents, and the State will
never recover.

  True, I said; but would you never allow them to run any

  I am far from saying that.

  Well, but if they are ever to run a risk should they not do
so on some occasion when, 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 is a very important matter, for the sake of which
some risk may fairly be incurred.

  Yes, very important.

  This then must be our first step--to make our children spec-
tators of war; but we must also contrive that they shall be se-
cured against danger; then all will 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 ex-
peditions are safe and what dangerous?

  That may be assumed.

  And they will take them on the safe expeditions and be cau-
tious about the dangerous ones?


  And they will place them under the command of experienced
veterans who will be their leaders and teachers?

  Very properly.

  Still, the dangers of war cannot be always foreseen; there
is a good deal of chance about them?


  Then against such chances the children must be at once fur-
nished with wings, in order 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 they have learnt to ride, take them on horse-
back to see war: the horses must not be spirited and warlike,
but the most tractable and yet the swiftest that can be had. In
this way they will get an excellent view of what is hereafter
to be their own business; and if there is danger they have only
to follow their elder leaders 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 another and to their enemies? I should be inclined to
propose that the soldier who leaves his rank or throws away
his arms, or is guilty of any other act of cowardice, should be
degraded into the rank of a husbandman or artisan. What
do you think?

  By all means, I should say.

  And he who allows himself to be taken prisoner may as well
be made a present of to his enemies; he is their lawful prey,
and let them do what they like with him.


  But the hero who has distinguished himself, what shall be
done to him? In the first place, he shall receive honor in the
army from his youthful comrades; every one of them in succes-
sion shall crown him. What do you say?

  I approve.

  And what do you say to his receiving the right hand of fel-

  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 one whom he has a mind to kiss refuse to be kissed
by him while the expedition lasts. So that if there be a lover
in the army, whether his love be youth or maiden, he may be
more eager to win the prize of valor.

  Capital, I said. That the brave man is to have more wives
than others has been already determined: and he is to have first
choices in such matters more than others, in order that he may
have as many children as possible?


  Again, there is another manner in which, according to
Homer, brave youths should be honored; for he tells how
Ajax, after he had distinguished himself in battle, was re-
warded with long chines, which seems to be a compliment ap-
propriate to a hero in the flower of his age, being not only a
tribute of honor 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 and on the like occasions, will honor the brave ac-
cording to the measure of their valor, whether men or women,
with hymns and those other distinctions which we were men-
tioning; also with

  "seats of precedence, and meats and full cups;"

and in honoring them, we shall be at the same time training

  That, he replied, is excellent.

  Yes, I said; and when a man dies gloriously in war shall
we not say, in the first 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 heroic personages, and what is to be their special
distinction; and we must do as he bids?

  By all means.

  And in ages to come we will reverence them and kneel before
their sepulchres as at the graves of heroes. And not only they
but any who are deemed pre-eminently good, whether they die
from age or in any other way, shall be admitted to the same

  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 should enslave Hellenic States, or allow others to en-
slave them, if they can help? Should not their custom be to
spare them, considering the danger which there is that 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 they will observe and advise the other Hellenes
to observe.

  Certainly, he said; they will in this way be united against
the barbarians and will keep their hands off one another.

  Next as to the slain; ought the conquerors, I said, to take
anything but their armor? Does not the practice of despoil-
ing an enemy afford an excuse for not facing the battle?
Cowards skulk about the dead, pretending that they are ful-
filling a duty, and many an army before now has been lost
from this love of plunder.

  Very true.

  And is there not illiberality and avarice in robbing a corpse,
and also a degree of meanness and womanishness in making an
enemy of the dead body when the real enemy has flown away
and left only his fighting gear behind him--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 the arms 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 kinsmen may be a
pollution unless commanded by the god himself?

  Very true.

  Again, as to the devastation of Hellenic territory or the burn-
ing 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 and no 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 their
natures; the one is expressive of what is internal and domestic,
the other of what is external and foreign; and the first of the
two is termed discord, and only 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 united together by ties of blood and friendship, and
alien and strange to the barbarians?

  Very good, he said.

  And therefore when Hellenes fight with barbarians, and bar-
barians with Hellenes, they will be described by us as being at
war when they fight, and by nature enemies, and this kind of
antagonism should be called war; but when Hellenes fight with
one another we shall say that Hellas is then in a state of dis-
order and discord, they being by nature friends; and such en-
mity is to be called discord.

  I agree.

  Consider then, I said, when that which we have acknowl-
edged to be discord occurs, and a city is divided, if both parties
destroy the lands and burn the houses of one another, how
wicked does the strife appear! No true lover of his country
would bring himself to tear in pieces his own nurse and mother:
There might be reason in the conqueror depriving the con-
quered of their harvest, but still they would have the idea of
peace in their hearts, and would not mean to go on fighting

  Yes, he said, that is a better temper than the other.

  And will not the city, which you are founding, be an Hellenic

  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 re-
garded by them as discord only--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

  They will use friendly correction, but will not enslave or de-
stroy their opponents; they will be correctors, not enemies?

  Just so.

  And as they are Hellenes themselves they will not devastate
Hellas, nor will they burn houses, nor ever suppose that the
whole population of a city--men, women, and children--are
equally their enemies, for they know that the guilt of war is
always confined to a few persons and that the many are their
friends. And for all these reasons they will be unwilling to
waste their lands and raze their houses; their enmity to them
will only last until the many innocent sufferers have compelled
the guilty few to give satisfaction?

  I agree, he said, that our citizens should thus deal with their
Hellenic enemies; and with barbarians as the Hellenes now
deal with one another.

  Then let us enact this law also for our guardians: that they
are neither to devastate the lands of Hellenes nor to burn their

  Agreed; and we may agree also in thinking that these, like
all our previous enactments, are very good.

  But still I must say, Socrates, that if you are allowed to go on
in this way you will entirely forget the other question which at
the commencement of this discussion you thrust aside: Is such
an order of things possible, and how, if at all? For I am quite
ready to acknowledge that the plan which you propose, 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, and will never leave their ranks, for they will all
know one another, and each will call the other father, brother,
son; and if you suppose the women to join their armies, whether
in the same rank or in the rear, either as a terror to the enemy,
or as auxiliaries in case of need, I know that they will then be
absolutely invincible; and there are many domestic advantages
which might also be mentioned and which I also fully acknowl-
edge: but, as I admit all these advantages and as many more
as you please, if only this State of yours were to come into
existence, we need say no more about them; assuming then the
existence of the State, let us now turn to the question of possi-
bility and ways and means--the rest may be left.

  If I loiter for a moment, you instantly make a raid upon
me, I said, and have no mercy; I have hardly escaped the first
and second waves, and you seem not to be aware that you are
now bringing upon me the third, which is the greatest and
heaviest. When you have seen and heard the third wave, I
think you will be more considerate and will acknowledge that
some fear and hesitation were natural respecting a proposal
so extraordinary as that which I have now to state and in-

  The more appeals of this sort which you make, he said, the
more determined are we 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 after justice and injustice.

  True, he replied; but what of that?

  I was only going to ask whether, if we have discovered them,
we are to require that the just man should in nothing fail of
absolute justice; or may we be satisfied with an approxima-
tion, and the attainment in him of a higher degree of justice
than is to be found in other men?

  The approximation will be enough.

  We were inquiring into the nature of absolute justice and
into the character of the perfectly just, and into injustice and
the perfectly unjust, that we might have an ideal. We were to
look at these in order that we might judge of our own happi-
ness and unhappiness according to the standard which they
exhibited and the degree in which we resembled them, but not
with any view of showing that they could exist in fact.

  True, he said.

  Would a painter be any the worse because, after having de-
lineated with consummate art an ideal of a perfectly beautiful
man, he was unable to show that any such man could ever have

  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 possibility of a city being ordered in the manner de-

  Surely not, he replied.

  That is the truth, I said. But if, at your request, I am to try
and show how and under what conditions the possibility is
highest, I must ask you, having this in view, to repeat your
former admissions.

  What admissions?

  I want to know whether ideals are ever fully realized in lan-
guage? Does not the word express more than the fact, and
must not the actual, whatever a man may think, always, in the
nature of things, fall short of the truth? What do you say?

  I agree.

  Then you must not insist on my proving that the actual State
will in every respect coincide with the ideal: if we are only
able to discover how a city may be governed nearly as we pro-
posed, you will admit that we have discovered the possibility
which you demand; and will be contented. I am sure that I
should be contented--will not you?

  Yes, I will.

  Let me next endeavor to show what is that fault in States
which is the cause of their present maladministration, and what
is the least change which will enable a State to pass into the
truer form; and let the change, if possible, be of one thing only,
or, if not, of two; at any rate, let the changes be as few and
slight as possible.

  Certainly, he replied.

  I think, I said, that there might be a reform of the State if
only one change were 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 great-
est of the waves; yet shall the word be spoken, even though the
wave break and drown me in laughter and dishonor; and do
you mark my words.


  I said: "Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and
princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy,
and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those com-
moner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other
are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from
their evils--no, nor the human race, as I believe--and then
only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold
the light of day." Such was the thought, my dear Glaucon,
which I would fain have uttered if it had not seemed too ex-
travagant; for to be convinced that in no other 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 you have uttered is one at which numerous
persons, and very respectable persons too, in a figure pulling
off their coats all in a moment, and seizing any weapon that
comes to hand, will run at you might and main, before you
know where you are, intending to do heaven knows what; and
if you don't prepare an answer, and put yourself in motion, you
will be "pared by their 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 I can only give you good-will and good ad-
vice, and, perhaps, I may be able to fit answers to your ques-
tions better than another--that is all. And now, having such
an auxiliary, you must do your best to show the unbelievers
that you are right.

  I ought to try, I said, since you offer me such invaluable as-
sistance. And I think that, if there is to be a chance of our
escaping, we must explain to them whom we mean when we
say that philosophers are to rule in the State; then we shall be
able to defend ourselves: There will be discovered to be some
natures who ought to study philosophy and to be leaders in the
State; and others who are not born to be philosophers, and are
meant to be followers rather than leaders.

  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 give you a satisfactory explanation.


  I dare say that you remember, and therefore I need not re-
mind you, that a lover, if he is worthy of the name, ought to
show his love, not to some one part 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 pleasure like yourself ought to know that all who are
in the flower of youth do somehow or other raise a pang or
emotion in a lover's breast, and are thought by him to be
worthy of his affectionate regards. Is not this a way which
you have with the fair: one has a snub nose, and you praise his
charming face; the hook-nose of another has, you say, a royal
look; while he who is neither snub nor hooked has the grace of
regularity: the dark visage is manly, the fair are children of
the gods; and as to the sweet "honey-pale," as they are called,
what is the very name but the invention of a lover who talks
in diminutives, 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 you will not say, in order not to
lose a single flower that blooms in the spring-time of youth.

  If you make me an authority in matters of love, for the sake
of the argument, I assent.

  And what do you say of lovers of wine? Do you not see
them doing the same? They are glad of any pretext of drink-
ing any wine.

  Very good.

  And the same is true of ambitious men; if they cannot com-
mand an army, they are willing to command a file; and if they
cannot be honored by really great and important persons, they
are glad to be honored by lesser and meaner people--but honor
of some kind they must have.


  Once more let me ask: Does he who desires any class of
goods, desire the whole class or a part only?

  The whole.

  And may we not say of the philosopher that he is a lover,
not of a part of wisdom only, but of the whole?

  Yes, of the whole.

  And he who dislikes learning, especially in youth, when he
has no power of judging what is good and what is not, such
a one we maintain not to be a philosopher or a lover of knowl-
edge, just as he who refuses his food is not hungry, 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 to learn and is never satisfied, may be justly
termed a philosopher? Am I not right?

  Glaucon said: If curiosity makes a philosopher, you will
find many a strange being will have a title to the name. All
the lovers of sights have a delight in learning, and must there-
fore be included. Musical amateurs, too, are a folk strangely
out of place among philosophers, for they are the last persons
in the world who would come to anything like a philosophical
discussion, if they could help, while they run about at the Dio-
nysiac festivals as if they had let out their ears to hear every
chorus; whether the performance is in town or country--that
makes no difference--they are there. Now are we to maintain
that all these and any who have similar tastes, as well as the
professors 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 sure that 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 same remark holds: taken singly, each of them is
one; but from the various combinations of them with actions
and things and with one another, they are seen 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 of the name of philoso-

  How do you distinguish them? he said.

  The lovers of sounds and sights, I replied, are, as I conceive,
fond of fine tones and colors and forms and all the artificial
products that are made out of them, but their minds are in-
capable 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 to follow--of such a one I ask, Is he
awake or in a dream only? Reflect: is not the dreamer, sleep-
ing or waking, one who likens dissimilar things, who puts the
copy in the place of the real object?

  I should certainly say that such a one was dreaming.

  But take the case of the other, who recognizes the existence
of absolute beauty and is able to distinguish the idea from the
objects which participate in the idea, neither putting the objects
in the place of the idea nor the idea in the place 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 that the mind of the other, who opines
only, has opinion?


  But suppose that the latter should quarrel with us and dis-
pute our statement, can we administer any soothing cordial or
advice to him, without revealing to him that there is sad dis-
order 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 by assuring him that he is welcome to any
knowledge which he may have, and that we are rejoiced at his
having it? But we should like to ask him a question: Does
he 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

  And are we assured, after looking at the matter from many
points of view, that absolute being is or may be absolutely
known, but that the utterly non-existent is utterly unknown?

  Nothing can be more certain.

  Good. But if there be anything which is of such a nature
as to be and not to be, that will have a place intermediate be-
tween pure being and the absolute negation of being?

  Yes, between them.

  And, as knowledge corresponded to being and ignorance of
necessity to not-being, for that intermediate between being and
not-being there has to be discovered a corresponding intermedi-
ate between ignorance and knowledge, if there 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 matter corresponding to this difference of faculties?


  And knowledge is relative to being and knows being. But
before I proceed further I will make a division.

  What division?

  I will begin by placing faculties in a class by themselves:
they are powers in us, and in all other things, by which we
do as we do. Sight and hearing, for example, I should call
faculties. Have I clearly explained the class which I mean?

  Yes, I quite understand.

  Then let me tell you my view about them. I do not see them,
and therefore the distinctions of figure, color, and the like,
which enable me to discern the differences of some things, do
not apply to them. In speaking of a faculty I think only of
its sphere and its result; and that which has the same sphere
and the same result I call the same faculty, but that which has
another sphere and another result I call different. Would that
be your way of speaking?


  And will you be so very good as to answer one more ques-
tion? Would you say that knowledge is a faculty, or in what
class would you place it?

  Certainly knowledge is a faculty, and the mightiest of all

  And is opinion also a faculty?

  Certainly, he said; for opinion is that with which we are able
to form an opinion.

  And yet you were acknowledging a little while ago that
knowledge is not the same as opinion?

  Why, yes, he said: how can any reasonable being ever iden-
tify that which is infallible with that which errs?

  An excellent answer, proving, I said, that we are quite con-
scious of a distinction between them.


  Then knowledge and opinion having distinct powers have
also distinct spheres or subject-matters?

  That is certain.

  Being is the sphere or subject-matter of knowledge, and
knowledge is to know the 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 as the subject-matter of knowledge?

  Nay, he replied, that has been already disproven; if differ-
ence in faculty implies difference in the sphere or subject-mat-
ter, and if, as we were saying, opinion and knowledge are dis-
tinct faculties, then the sphere of knowledge and of opinion
cannot be the same.

  Then if being is the subject-matter of knowledge, something
else must be the subject-matter of opinion?

  Yes, something else.
Well, then, is not-being the subject-matter of opinion? or,
rather, how can there 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 an opinion about


  He who has an opinion has an opinion about some one


  And not-being is not one thing, but, properly speaking, noth-


  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 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 greater clearness than knowledge, or in a greater
darkness than ignorance?

  In neither.

  Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be darker than
knowledge, but lighter 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 which is and is not at the same time, that sort
of thing would appear also to lie in the interval between pure
being and absolute not-being; and that the corresponding fac-
ulty is neither knowledge nor ignorance, but will be found in
the interval between them?


  And in that interval there has now been discovered some-
thing which we call opinion?

  There has.

  Then what remains to be discovered is the object which par-
takes equally of the nature of being and not-being, and cannot
rightly be termed either, pure and simple; this unknown term,
when discovered, we may truly call the subject of opinion,
and assign each to their proper faculty--the extremes to the
faculties of the extremes and the mean to the faculty of the


  This being premised, I would ask the gentleman who is of
opinion that there is no absolute or unchangeable idea of beauty
--in whose opinion the beautiful is the manifold--he, I say,
your lover of beautiful sights, who cannot bear to be told that
the beautiful is one, and the just is one, or that anything 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 which will not be found ugly; or of the just, which will
not be found unjust; or of the holy, which will not also be un-

  No, he replied; the beautiful will in some point of view be
found ugly; and the same 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 be denoted by these any more than by the oppo-
site 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 be said to be this rather than not to be this?

  He replied: They are like the punning riddles which are
asked at feasts or the children's puzzle about the eunuch aim-
ing at the bat, with what he hit him, as they say in the puzzle,
and upon what the bat was sitting. The individual objects
of which I am speaking are also a riddle, and have a double
sense: nor can you fix them in your mind, either as being or
not-being, or both, or neither.

  Then what will you do with them? I said. Can they have
a better place than between being and not-being? For they
are clearly not in greater darkness or negation 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 multitude entertain about the beautiful and about
all other things are tossing about in some 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 find was to be described as matter of opinion,
and not as matter of knowledge; being the 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, and not absolute justice,
and the like--such persons may be said to have opinion 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 sweet sounds and gazed
upon fair colors, but would not tolerate the existence of abso-
lute beauty.

  Yes, I remember.

  Shall we then be guilty of any impropriety in calling them
lovers of opinion rather than lovers of wisdom, and will they
be very angry with us for thus describing 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 wisdom and not lovers of opinion.


                        BOOK VI


  AND thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary
way, the true and the false philosophers have at length
appeared in view.

  I do not think, he said, that the way could have been short-

  I suppose not, I said; and yet I believe that we might have
had a better view of both of them if the discussion could have
been confined to this one subject and if there were not many
other questions awaiting us, which he who desires to see in
what respect the life of the just differs from that of the unjust
must consider.

  And what is the next question? he asked.

  Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inas-
much as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and un-
changeable, and those who wander in the region of the many
and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of 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 our State--let them be our guardians.

  Very good.

  Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian
who is to keep anything 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 the true being of each thing, and who have in
their souls no clear pattern, and are unable as with a painter's
eye to look at the absolute truth and to that original to repair,
and having perfect vision of the other world to order the laws
about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not already ordered,
and to guard and preserve the order of them--are not such
persons, I ask, simply blind?

  Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.

  And shall they be our guardians when there are others who,
besides being their equals in experience and falling short of
them in no particular of virtue, also know the very truth of
each thing?

  There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have
this greatest of all great qualities; they must always have the
first place unless they fail in some other respect.
Suppose, then, I said, that we determine how far they can
unite this and the other excellences.

  By all means.

  In the first place, as we began by observing, the nature of
the philosopher has to be ascertained. We must come to an
understanding about him, and, when we have done so, then,
if I am not mistaken, we shall also acknowledge that such a
union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are
united, and those only, should be rulers in the State.

  What do you mean?

  Let us suppose that philosophical minds always love knowl-
edge of a sort which shows 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; there is no part whether greater or less, or more
or less honorable, which they are willing 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 quality which they should also possess?

  What quality?

  Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their
minds 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 any-
thing cannot 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


  The true lover of learning then must from his earliest youth,
as far as in him lies, desire all truth?


  But then again, as we know by experience, he whose desires
are strong in one direction will have them weaker in others;
they will be like a stream which has been drawn off into an-
other channel.


  He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form
will be absorbed in the 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 a one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covet-
ous; for the motives which make another man desirous of
having and spending, have no place in his character.

  Very true.

  Another criterion of the philosophical nature has also to be

  What is that?

  There should be no secret corner of illiberality; nothing can
be more antagonistic than meanness to a soul which is ever
longing after the whole of things both divine and human.

  Most true, he replied.

  Then how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the
spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human

  He cannot.

  Or can such a one account death fearful?
No, indeed.

  Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true

  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 his dealings?


  Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle,
or rude and unsociable; these are the signs which distinguish
even in youth the philosophical nature from the unphilosophi-


  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 that which 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 he not be an empty vessel?

  That is certain.
Laboring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruit-
less occupation?

  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 to disproportion?


  And do you consider truth to be akin to proportion or to

  To proportion.

  Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturally
well-proportioned and gracious mind, which will move spon-
taneously toward the true being of everything.


  Well, and do not all these qualities, which we have been
enumerating, go together, and are they not, in a manner, nec-
essary to a soul, which is to have a 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 the gift of a good memory, and is quick to
learn--noble, gracious, the friend of 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 to these only you will intrust the State.

  Here Adeimantus interposed and said: To these statements,
Socrates, no one can offer a reply; but when you talk in this
way, a strange feeling passes over the minds of your hearers:
They fancy that they are led astray a little at each step in the
argument, owing to their own want of skill in asking and an-
swering questions; these littles accumulate, and at the end of
the discussion they are found to have sustained a mighty over-
throw and all their former notions appear to be turned upside
down. And as unskilful players of draughts are at last shut
up by their more skilful adversaries and have no piece to move,
so they too find themselves shut up at last; for they have noth-
ing to say in this new game of 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
us might say, that although in words he is not able to meet you
at each step of the argument, he sees as a fact that the votaries
of philosophy, when they carry on the study, not only in youth
as a part of education, but as the pursuit of their maturer years,
most of them become strange monsters, not to say utter rogues,
and that those who may be considered the best of them are made
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 evil until philosophers rule in them, when philoso-
phers are acknowledged by us to be of 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 all accustomed, I suppose.

  I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having
plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the
parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagre-
ness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men
are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single
thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to
plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put to-
gether a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous
unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures. Imag-
ine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller
and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and
has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation
is not much better. The sailors are quarrelling with one an-
other about the steering--everyone is of opinion that he has a
right to steer, though he has never learned the art of naviga-
tion and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and
will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready
to cut in pieces anyone who says the contrary. They throng
about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm
to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are
preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard,
and having first chained up the noble captain's senses with
drink or some narcotic drug, they mutiny and take possession
of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and
drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such manner as might
be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly
aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain's
hands into their own whether by force or persuasion, they com-
pliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse
the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but
that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons
and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his
art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a
ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other
people like or not--the possibility of this union of authority
with the steerer's art has never seriously entered into their
thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vessels
which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers,
how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by
them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-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 rela-
tion to the State; for you understand already.


  Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman
who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honor
in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that
their having honor would be far more extraordinary.

  I will.

  Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy
to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell
him to attribute their uselessness 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--that is not
the order of nature; neither are "the wise to go to the doors
of the rich"--the ingenious author of this saying told a lie--
but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or
poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be gov-
erned, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good
for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him;
although the present governors of mankind are of a different
stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors,
and the true helmsmen 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 of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by
those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most
lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own
professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the ac-
cuser to say that the greater number of them are arrant rogues,
and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed.


  And the reason why the good are useless has now been ex-


  Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the
majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to
the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

  By all means.

  And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the
description of the gentle and noble nature. Truth, as you will
remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all
things; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or
lot in true philosophy.

  Yes, that was said.

  Well, and is not this one quality, to mention no others, greatly
at variance with present notions of him?

  Certainly, he said.

  And have we not a right to say in his defence, that the true
lover of knowledge is always striving after being--that is his
nature; he will not rest in the multiplicity of individuals which
is an appearance only, but will go on--the keen edge will not
be blunted, nor the force of his desire abate until he have at-
tained the knowledge of the true nature of every essence by a
sympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power
drawing near and mingling and becoming incorporate with
very being, having begotten mind and truth, he will have knowl-
edge and will live and grow truly, and then, and not till 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 he not utterly hate a lie?

  He will.

  And when truth is the captain, we cannot suspect any evil
of the band which he leads?


  Justice and health of mind will be of the company, and tem-
perance will follow after?

  True, he replied.

  Neither is there any reason why I should again set in array
the philosopher's virtues, as you will doubtless remember that
courage, magnificence, apprehension, memory, were his natural
gifts. And you objected that, although no one could deny
what I then said, still, if you leave words and look at facts,
the persons who are thus described are some of them manifestly
useless, and the greater number utterly depraved, we were then
led to inquire into the grounds of these accusations, and have
now arrived at the point of asking why are the majority bad,
which question of necessity brought us back to the examination
and definition of the true philosopher.


  And we have next to consider the corruptions of the philo-
sophic nature, why so many are spoiled and so few escape spoil-
ing--I am speaking of those who were 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
who aspire after a profession which is above them and of which
they are unworthy, and then, by their manifold inconsistencies,
bring upon philosophy and upon all philosophers that universal
reprobation of which we speak.

  What are these corruptions? he said.

  I will see if I can explain them to you. Everyone will admit
that a nature having in perfection all the qualities which we re-
quired in a philosopher is a rare 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, and the rest of them, every one of which praise-
worthy qualities (and this is a most singular circumstance)
destroys and distracts from philosophy the soul which is the
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 under-
stand the sort of things--these also have a corrupting and dis-
tracting effect.

  I understand; but I should like to know more precisely what
you mean about them.

  Grasp the truth as a whole, I said, and in the right way; you
will then have no difficulty in apprehending the preceding re-
marks, and they will no longer appear strange to you.

  And how am I to do so? he asked.

  Why, I said, we know that all germs or seeds, whether vege-
table or animal, when they fail to meet with proper nutriment,
or climate, or soil, in proportion to their vigor, 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 alien conditions, receive more injury than the inferior,
because the contrast is greater.


  And may we not say, Adeimantus, that the most gifted
minds, when they are ill-educated, become pre-eminently bad?
Do not great crimes and the spirit of pure evil spring out of
a fulness of nature ruined by education rather than from any
inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any
very great 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 pre-
served by some divine power. Do you really think, as people
so often say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that
private teachers of the art corrupt them in any degree worth
speaking of? Are not the public who say these things the
greatest of all Sophists? And do they not educate to perfec-
tion young and old, men and women alike, and fashion them
after their own hearts?

  When is this accomplished? he said.

  When they meet together, and the world sits down at an
assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any
other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they
praise some things which are being said or done, and blame
other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clap-
ping their hands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in
which they are assembled redoubles the sound of the praise or
blame--at such a time will not a young man's heart, as they
say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him
to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opin-
ion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not
have the notions of 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 been mentioned.

  What is that?

  The gentle force of attainder, or confiscation, or death,
which, as you are aware, these new Sophists and educators,
who are the public, apply when their words are powerless.

  Indeed they do; and in right good earnest.

  Now what opinion of any other Sophist, or of any private
person, can be expected to overcome in such an unequal con-

  None, he replied.

  No, indeed, I said, even to make the attempt is a great piece
of folly; there neither is, nor has been, nor is ever likely to be,
any different type of character which has had no other train-
ing in virtue but that which is supplied by public opinion--
I speak, my friend, of human virtue only; what is more than
human, as the proverb says, is not included: for I would not
have you ignorant that, in the present evil state of govern-
ments, whatever is saved and comes 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 whom they deem to be their adversaries, do,
in fact, teach nothing but the opinion of the many, that is to
say, the opinions of their assemblies; and this is their wisdom.
I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers
and desires of a mighty strong beast who is fed by him--he
would learn how to approach and handle him, also at what times
and from what causes he is dangerous or the reverse, and what
is the meaning of his several cries, and by what sounds, when
another utters them, he is soothed or infuriated; and you may
suppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him,
he has become perfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wis-
dom, and makes of it a system or art, which he proceeds to
teach, although he has no real notion of what he means by the
principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls this
honorable and that dishonorable, or good or evil, or just or
unjust, all in accordance with the tastes and tempers of the
great brute. Good he pronounces to 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 the
necessary, having never himself seen, and having no power of
explaining to others, the nature of either, or the difference be-
tween them, which is immense. By heaven, would not such
a one be a rare educator?

  Indeed, he would.

  And in what way does he who thinks that wisdom is the dis-
cernment of the tempers and tastes of the motley multitude,
whether in painting or in music, or, finally, in politics, differ
from him whom I have been describing? For when a man
consorts with the many, and exhibits to them his poem or other
work of art or the service which he has done the State, making
them his judges when he is not obliged, the so-called necessity
of Diomede will oblige him to produce whatever they praise.
And yet the reasons are utterly ludicrous which they give in
confirmation of their own notions about the honorable and
good. Did you ever hear any of them which were not?

  No, nor am I likely to hear.

  You recognize the truth of what I have been saying? Then
let me ask you to consider further whether the world will ever
be induced to believe in the existence of absolute beauty rather
than of the many beautiful, or of the absolute 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 his calling to the end?--and remember what we
were saying of him, that he was to have quickness and memory
and courage and magnificence--these were admitted by us to
be the true philosopher's gifts.


  Will not such an one from his early childhood be in all things
first among us 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 for their own purposes?

  No question.

  Falling at his feet, they will make requests to him and do
him honor and flatter him, because they want to get into their
hands now the power which he will 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 tall, proper youth? Will he not be full of
boundless aspirations, and fancy himself able to manage the
affairs of Hellenes and of barbarians, and having got such no-
tions into his head will he not dilate and elevate himself in the
fulness of vain pomp and senseless pride?

  To be sure he will.

  Now, when he is in this state of mind, if someone gently
comes to him and tells him that he is a fool and must get under-
standing, which can only be got by slaving for it, do you think
that, under such adverse circumstances, he will be easily in-
duced to listen?

  Far otherwise.

  And even if there be someone who through inherent good-
ness or natural reasonableness has had his eyes opened a little
and is humbled and taken captive by philosophy, how will his
friends behave when they think that they are likely to lose the
advantage which they were hoping to reap from his compan-
ionship? Will they not do and say anything to prevent him
from yielding to his better nature and to render his teacher
powerless, using to this end private intrigues as well as public

  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 man a philosopher, may, if he be ill-educated,
divert him from philosophy, no less than riches and their ac-
companiments 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 I have 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 class out of which come
the men who are the authors of the greatest evil to States and
individuals; and also of the greatest good when the tide carries
them in that direction; but a small man never was the doer of
any great thing either to individuals or to States.

  That is most true, he said.

  And so philosophy is left desolate, with her marriage rite
incomplete: for her own have fallen away and forsaken her,
and while they are leading a false and unbecoming life, other
unworthy persons, seeing that she has no kinsmen to be her
protectors, enter in and dishonor her; and fasten upon her the
reproaches which, as you say, her reprovers utter, who affirm
of her votaries that some are good for nothing, and that the
greater number deserve the severest punishment.

  That is certainly what people say.

  Yes; and what else would you expect, I said, when you think
of the puny creatures who, seeing this land open to them--a
land well stocked with fair names and showy titles--like pris-
oners running out of prison into a sanctuary, take a leap out
of their trades into philosophy; those who do so being probably
the cleverest hands at their own miserable crafts? For, al-
though philosophy be in this evil case, still there remains a dig-
nity about her which is not to be found in the arts. And many
are thus attracted by her whose natures are imperfect and whose
souls are maimed and disfigured by their meannesses, as their
bodies are by their trades and crafts. Is not this unavoidable?


  Are they not exactly like a bald little tinker who has just got
out of durance and come into a fortune--he takes a bath and
puts on a new coat, and is decked out as a bridegroom going to
marry his master's daughter, who is left poor 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 an alliance with her who is in a rank above
them, what sort of ideas and opinions are likely to be gener-
ated? Will they not be sophisms captivating to the ear,
having nothing in them genuine, or worthy of or akin to true

  No doubt, he said.

  Then, Adeimantus, I said, the worthy disciples of philosophy
will be but a small remnant: perchance some noble and well-
educated person, detained by exile in her service, who in the
absence of corrupting influences remains devoted to her; or
some lofty soul born in a mean city, the politics of which he
contemns and neglects; and there may be a gifted few who
leave the arts, which they justly despise, and come to her; or
peradventure there are some who are restrained by our friend
Theages's bridle; for everything in the life of Theages con-
spired to divert him from philosophy; but ill-health kept him
away from politics. My own case of the internal sign is hard-
ly worth mentioning, for rarely, if ever, has such a monitor been
given to any other man. Those who belong to this small class
have tasted how sweet and blessed a possession philosophy is,
and have also seen enough of the madness of the multitude;
and they know that no politician is honest, nor is there any
champion of justice at whose side they may fight and be saved.
Such a one may be compared to a man who has fallen among
wild beasts--he will not join in the wickedness of his 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 good either to himself or others, he holds
his peace, and goes his own way. He is like one who, in the
storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurries along,
retires under the shelter of a wall; and seeing the rest of man-
kind full of wickedness, he is content, if only he can live his
own life and be pure from evil 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

  A great work--yes; but not the greatest, unless he find a
State suitable to him; for in a State which is suitable to him,
he will have a larger growth and be the saviour of his country,
as well as of himself.

  The causes why philosophy is in such an evil name have
now been sufficiently explained: the injustice of the charges
against her has been shown--is there anything more which you
wish to say?

  Nothing more on that subject, he replied; but I should like
to know which of the 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 bring against them--not one of them is worthy of the
philosophic nature, and hence that nature is warped and es-
tranged; as the exotic seed which is sown in a foreign land
becomes denaturalized, and is wont to be overpowered and to
lose itself in the new soil, even so this growth of philosophy,
instead of persisting, degenerates and receives another charac-
ter. But if philosophy ever finds in the State that perfec-
tion which she herself is, then will be seen that she is in truth
divine, and that all other things, whether natures of men or
institutions, 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
another question--whether it is the State of which we are the
founders and inventors, 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 the same idea of the constitution
which guided you when as legislator you were laying down the

  That was said, he replied.

  Yes, but not in a satisfactory manner; you frightened us by
interposing objections, which certainly showed that the dis-
cussion would be long and difficult; 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 the ruin of the State: All great attempts are at-
tended with risk; "hard is the good," as men say.

  Still, he said, let the point be cleared up, and the inquiry
will then be complete.

  I shall not be hindered, I said, by any want of will, but, if
at all, by a want of power: my zeal you may see for yourselves;
and please to remark in what I am about to say how boldly and
unhesitatingly I declare that States should pursue philosophy,
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 when they are hardly past childhood, they devote
only the time saved from money-making and housekeeping to
such pursuits; and even those of them who are reputed to have
most of the philosophic spirit, when they come within sight of
the great difficulty of the subject, I mean dialectic, take them-
selves off. In after life, when invited by someone else, they
may, perhaps, go and hear a lecture, and about this they make
much ado, for philosophy is not considered by them to be their
proper business: at last, when they grow old, in most cases they
are extinguished more truly than Heracleitus's sun, inasmuch
as they never light up again.

  But what ought to be their course?

  Just the opposite. In childhood and youth their study, and
what philosophy they learn, should be suited to their tender
years: during this period while they are growing up toward
manhood, the chief and special care should be given to their
bodies that they may have them to use in the service of philoso-
phy; as life advances and the intellect begins to mature, let them
increase the gymnastics of the soul; but when the strength of
our citizens fails and is past civil and military duties, then let
them range at will and engage in no serious labor, as we intend
them to live happily here, and to crown this life with a similar
happiness in another.

  How truly in earnest you are, Socrates! he said; I am sure
of that; and yet most of your hearers, if I am not mistaken,
are likely to be still more earnest in their opposition to you,
and will never be convinced; Thrasymachus least of all.

  Do not make a quarrel, I said, between Thrasymachus and
me, who have recently become friends, although, indeed, we
were never enemies; for I shall go on striving to the utmost
until I either convert him and other men, or do something which
may profit them against the day when they live again, and hold
the 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 have never seen that of which we
are now speaking realized; they have seen only a conven-
tional imitation of philosophy, consisting of words artificially
brought together, not like these of ours having a natural unity.
But a human being who in word and work is perfectly moulded,
as far as he can be, into the proportion and likeness of virtue--
such a man ruling in a city which bears the same image, they
have never yet seen, neither one nor many of them--do you
think 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 power seeking after truth for the
sake of knowledge, while they look coldly on the subtleties
of controversy, of which the end is opinion and strife, whether
they meet with them in the courts of law or in society.

  They are strangers, he said, to the words of which you

  And this was what we foresaw, and this was the reason why
truth forced us to admit, not without fear and hesitation, that
neither cities nor States nor individuals will ever attain perfec-
tion until the small class of philosophers whom we termed use-
less but not corrupt are providentially compelled, whether they
will or not, to take care of the State, and until a like necessity
be laid on the State to obey them; or until kings, or if not
kings, the sons of kings or princes, are divinely inspired with
a true love of true philosophy. That either 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 and
visionaries. Am I not right?

  Quite right.

  If then, in the countless ages of the past, or at the present
hour in some foreign clime which is far away and beyond our
ken, the perfected philosopher is or has been or hereafter shall
be compelled by a superior power to have the charge of the
State, we are ready to assert to the death, that this our consti-
tution has been, and is--yea, and will be whenever the muse of
philosophy is queen. There is no impossibility in all this; that
there is a difficulty, we acknowledge ourselves.

  My opinion agrees with yours, he said.

  But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the

  I should imagine not, he replied.

  O my friends, 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 them and removing their dislike
of over-education, you show them your philosophers as they
really are and describe as you were just now doing their charac-
ter and profession, and then mankind will see that he of whom
you are speaking is not such as they supposed--if they view
him in this new light, they will surely change their notion of
him, and answer in another strain. Who can be at enmity
with one who loves him, who that is himself gentle and free
from envy will be jealous of one in whom there is no jealousy?
Nay, let me answer for you, that in a few this harsh temper may
be found, but not in the majority of mankind.

  I quite agree with you, he said.

  And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling
which the many entertain toward philosophy originates in the
pretenders, who rush in uninvited, and are always abusing
them, and finding fault with them, who make persons instead
of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can be
more unbecoming in philosophers than this.

  It is most unbecoming.

  For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being,
has surely no time to look down upon the affairs of earth, or
to be filled with malice and envy, contending against men; his
eye is ever directed toward things fixed and immutable, which
he sees neither injuring nor injured by one another, but all in
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 he holds reverential converse?


  And the philosopher holding converse with the divine order,
becomes orderly and divine, as far as the nature of man allows;
but like everyone else, he will suffer from detraction.

  Of course.

  And if a necessity be laid upon him of fashioning, not only
himself, but human nature generally, whether in States or indi-
viduals, into that which he beholds elsewhere, will be, 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, will they be angry with philosophy? Will
they disbelieve us, when we tell them that no State can be happy
which is not designed by artists who imitate the heavenly pat-

  They will not be angry if they understand, he said. But how
will they draw out the plan of which you are speaking?

  They will begin by taking the State and the manners of men,
from which, as from a tablet, they will rub out the picture, and
leave a clean surface. This is no easy task. But whether easy
or not, herein will lie the difference between them and every
other legislator--they will have nothing to do either with in-
dividual 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 the constitution?

  No doubt.

  And when they are filling in the work, as I conceive, they will
often turn their eyes upward and downward: I mean that they
will first look at absolute justice and beauty and temperance,
and again at the human copy; and will mingle and temper the
various elements of life into the image of a man; and this they
will conceive according to that other image, which, when exist-
ing 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 have made 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 as rushing at us with might and main, that the
painter of constitutions is such a one as we were praising; at
whom they were so very indignant because to his hands we
committed the State; and are they growing a little calmer at
what they have just heard?

  Much calmer, if there is any sense in them.

  Why, where can they still find any ground for objection?
Will they doubt that the philosopher is a lover of truth and

  They would not be so unreasonable.

  Or that his nature, being such as we have delineated, is akin
to the highest good?

  Neither can they doubt this.

  But again, will they tell us that such a nature, placed under
favorable circumstances, will not be perfectly good and wise if
any ever was? Or will they prefer those whom we have re-

  Surely not.

  Then will they still be angry at our saying, that, until philoso-
phers bear rule, States and individuals will have no rest from
evil, nor will this our imaginary 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 that they have been converted and for very shame,
if for no other reason, cannot refuse to come to terms?

  By all means, he said.

  Then let us suppose that the reconciliation has been effected.
Will anyone deny the other point, that there may be sons of
kings or princes who are by nature philosophers?

  Surely no man, he said.

  And when they have come into being will anyone say that
they must of necessity be destroyed; that they can hardly be
saved is not denied even by us; but that in the whole course
of ages no single one of them can escape--who will venture to
affirm this?

  Who indeed!

  But, said I, one is enough; let there be one man who has a
city obedient to his will, and he might bring into existence the
ideal polity about which the world is 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 or impossibility?

  I think not.

  But we have sufficiently shown, in what has preceded, that
all this, if only possible, is assuredly for the best.

  We have.

  And now we say not only that our laws, if they could be en-
acted, would be for the best, but also that the enactment of
them, though difficult, is not impossible.

  Very good.

  And so with pain and toil we have reached the end of one
subject, but more remains to be discussed; how and by what
studies and pursuits will the saviours of the constitution be
created, and at what ages are they to apply themselves to their
several studies?


  I omitted the troublesome business of the possession of
women, and the procreation of children, and the appointment
of the rulers, because I knew that the 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
to discuss them all the same. The women and children are
now disposed of, but the other question of the rulers must be
investigated from the very beginning. We were saying, as
you will remember, that they were to be lovers of their country,
tried by the test of pleasures and pains, and neither in hard-
ships, nor in dangers, nor at any other critical moment were to
lose their patriotism--he was to be rejected who failed, but he
who always came forth pure, like gold tried in the refiner's fire,
was to be made a ruler, and to receive honors and rewards in
life and after death. This was the sort of thing which was
being said, and then the argument turned aside and veiled her
face; 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 now let 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 were deemed by us to be essential rarely grow to-
gether; they are mostly found in shreds 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 persons who possess them and are at the same
time high-spirited and magnanimous are not so constituted
by nature as to live orderly and in a peaceful and settled man-
ner; they are driven any way by their impulses, and all solid
principle goes out 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 immovable when there is anything
to be learned; they are always in a torpid state, and are 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 the higher education is to be imparted, and who
are to share in any office or command.

  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 labors
and dangers and pleasures which we mentioned before, but
there is another kind of probation which we did not mention--
he must be exercised also in many kinds of knowledge, 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 them. But what
do you mean by the highest of all knowledge?

  You may remember, I said, that we divided the soul into
three parts; and distinguished 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 their perfect beauty must take a longer and more
circuitous way, at the end of which they would appear; but that
we could add on a popular exposition of them on a level with
the discussion which had preceded. And you replied that
such an exposition would be enough for you, and so the in-
quiry was continued in what to me seemed to be a very inac-
curate manner; whether you were satisfied or not, it is for
you to say.

  Yes, he said, I thought and the others thought that you gave
us a fair measure of truth.

  But, my friend, I said, a measure of such things which in
any degree falls short of the whole truth is not fair measure;
for nothing imperfect is the measure of anything, although per-
sons are too apt to be contented and think that 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 and of the laws.


  The guardian then, I said, must be required to take the longer
circuit, and toil at learning as well as at gymnastics, or he will
never reach the highest knowledge 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 than justice and the other virtues?

  Yes, I said, there is. And of the virtues too we must behold
not the outline merely, as at present--nothing short of the most
finished picture should satisfy us. When little things are elab-
orated with an infinity of pains, in order that they may appear
in their full beauty and utmost clearness, how ridiculous that
we should not think the highest truths worthy of attaining the
highest accuracy!

  A right noble thought; but do you suppose that we shall
refrain from asking you what is this highest knowledge?

  Nay, I said, ask if you will; but I am certain that you have
heard the answer many times, and now you either do not under-
stand me or, as I rather think, you are disposed to be trouble-
some; for you have often been told that the idea of good is the
highest knowledge, and that all other things become useful
and advantageous only by their use of this. You can hardly be
ignorant that of this I was about to speak, concerning which,
as you have often heard me say, we know so little; and, without
which, any other knowledge or possession of any kind will
profit us nothing. Do you think that the possession of all
other things is of any value if we do not possess the good? or
the knowledge of all other things 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 the finer sort of wits say it is knowledge?


  And you are aware too that the latter cannot explain what
they mean by knowledge, but are obliged after all to say knowl-
edge of the good?

  How ridiculous!

  Yes, I said, that they should begin by reproaching us with
our ignorance of the good, and then presume our knowledge
of it--for the good they define to be knowledge 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 per-
plexity; for they are compelled to admit that there are bad
pleasures as well as good.


  And therefore to acknowledge that bad and good are the


  There can be no doubt about the numerous difficulties in
which this question is involved.

  There can be none.

  Further, do we not see that many are willing to do or to
have or to seem to be what is just and honorable without the
reality; but no one is satisfied with the appearance of good--
the reality is what they seek; in the case of the good, appear-
ance is despised by everyone.

  Very true, he said.

  Of this then, which every soul of man pursues and makes
the end of all his actions, having a presentiment that there is
such an end, and yet hesitating because neither knowing the
nature nor having the same assurance of this as of other things,
and therefore losing whatever good there is in other things--
of a principle such and so great as this ought the best men in
our State, to whom everything is intrusted, to be in the dark-
ness of ignorance?

  Certainly not, he said.

  I am sure, I said, that he who does not know how the beauti-
ful and the just are likewise good will be but a sorry guardian
of them; and I suspect that no one who 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 be perfectly ordered?

  Of course, he replied; but I wish that you would tell me
whether you conceive this supreme principle of the good to be
knowledge or pleasure, or different from either?

  Aye, I said, I knew all along that a fastidious gentleman
like you would not be contented with the thoughts of other
people about these matters.

  True, Socrates; but I must say that one who like you has
passed a lifetime in the study of philosophy should not be al-
ways repeating the opinions of others, and never telling his

  Well, but has anyone a right to say positively what he does
not know?

  Not, he said, with the assurance of positive certainty; he has
no right to do that: 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 of them blind? You would not deny that those
who have any true notion without intelligence 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 will tell you of brightness and beauty?

  Still, I must implore you, Socrates, said Glaucon, not to turn
away just as you are reaching the goal; if you will only give
such an explanation of the good as you have already given of
justice and temperance and the other virtues, we shall be sat-

  Yes, my friend, and I shall be at least equally satisfied, but
I cannot help fearing that I shall fail, and that my indiscreet
zeal will bring ridicule upon me. No, sweet sirs, let us not
at present ask what is the actual nature of the good, for to reach
what is now in my thoughts would be an effort too great for
me. But of the child of the good who is likest him, I would
fain speak, if I could be sure that you wished to hear--other-
wise, not.

  By all means, he said, tell us about the child, and you shall
remain in our debt for the account of the parent.

  I do indeed wish, I replied, that I could pay, and you receive,
the account of the parent, and not, as now, of the offspring
only; take, however, this latter by way of interest, and at the
same time have a care that I do not render a false account, al-
though 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 you of what I have mentioned in the course
of this discussion, and at many other times.


  The old story, that there is many a beautiful and many a
good, and so of other things which we describe and define;
to all of them the term "many" is implied.

  True, he said.

  And there is an absolute beauty and an absolute good, and
of other things to which the term "many" is applied there is
an absolute; for they may be 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 not seen.


  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 the other objects of sense?


  But have you remarked that sight is by far the most costly
and complex piece of workmanship 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 addi-
tional nature in order 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 other senses--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 seeing or being seen?

  How do you mean?

  Sight being, as I conceive, in the eyes, and he who has eyes
wanting to see; color being also present in them, still unless
there be a third nature specially adapted to the purpose, the
owner of the eyes will see nothing and the colors will be invisi-

  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 visi-
bility, and great beyond 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 this element? Whose is that light which makes
the eye to see perfectly and the visible to appear?

  You mean the sun, as you and all mankind say.

  May not the relation of sight to this deity be described as


  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

  By far the most like.

  And the power which the eye possesses is a sort of effluence
which is dispensed from the sun?


  Then the sun is not sight, but the author of sight who is
recognized by sight?

  True, he said.

  And this is he whom I call the child of the good, whom the
good begat in his own likeness, to be in the visible world, in
relation to sight and the things of sight, what the good is in the
intellectual world in relation to mind and the 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 toward objects on which the light of day is no longer
shining, but the moon and stars only, see dimly, and are nearly
blind; they seem to have no clearness of vision in them?

  Very true.

  But when they are directed toward objects on which the sun
shines, they see clearly and there is sight in them?


  And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which
truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands, and
is radiant with intelligence; but when turned toward the twi-
light of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only,
and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of
another, and seems to have no intelligence?

  Just so.

  Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power
of knowing to the knower is what I would have you term the
idea of good, and this you will deem to be the cause of science,
and of truth in so far as the latter becomes the subject of knowl-
edge; beautiful too, as are both truth and knowledge, you will
be right in esteeming this other nature as more beautiful than
either; and, as in 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 be deemed to be like the
good, but not the good; the good has a place of honor yet

  What a wonder of beauty that must be, he said, which is the
author of science and truth, and yet surpasses them in beauty;
for you surely cannot mean to say that pleasure is the good?

  God forbid, I replied; but may I ask you to consider the
image in another point of view?

  In what point of view?

  You would say, would you not? that the sun is not only the
author of visibility in all visible things, but of generation and
nourishment and growth, though he himself is not generation?


  In like manner the good may be said to be not only the author
of knowledge to all things known, but of their being and es-
sence, and yet the good is not essence, but far exceeds essence
in dignity and power.

  Glaucon said, with a ludicrous earnestness: By the light of
heaven, how amazing!

  Yes, I said, and the exaggeration may be set down to you;
for you made me utter my fancies.

  And pray continue to utter them; at any rate let us hear if
there is anything more to be said about the similitude of the

  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 be omitted.
I hope not, he said.

  You have to Imagine, then, that there are two ruling powers,
and that one of them is set over the intellectual world, the other
over the visible. I do not say heaven, lest you should fancy
that I am playing upon the name (ovpavos, opatos). May I
suppose that you have this distinction of the visible and intel-
ligible fixed in your mind?

  I have.

  Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts,
and divide each of them again in the same proportion, and sup-
pose the two main divisions to answer, one to the visible and
the other to the intelligible, and then compare the subdivisions
in respect of their clearness and want of clearness, and you will
find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists of
images. And by images I mean, in the first place, shadows,
and in the second place, reflections in water and in solid, smooth
and polished bodies and the like: Do you understand?

  Yes, I understand.

  Imagine, now, the other section, of which this is only the re-
semblance, to include 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 different degrees of truth, and that the copy is to the origi-
nal as the sphere of opinion is to the sphere of knowledge?

  Most undoubtedly.

  Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of
the intellectual is to be divided.

  In what manner?

  Thus: There are two subdivisions, in the lower of which the
soul uses the figures given by the former division as images; the
inquiry can only be hypothetical, and instead of going upward
to a principle descends to the other end; in the higher of the
two, the soul passes out of hypotheses, and goes up to a princi-
ple which is above hypotheses, making no use of images as
in the former case, but proceeding only in and through the ideas

  I do not quite understand your meaning, he said.

  Then I will try again; you will understand me better when
I have made some preliminary remarks. You are aware that
students of geometry, arithmetic, and the kindred sciences as-
sume the odd, and the even, and the figures, and three kinds of
angles, and the like, in their several branches of science; these
are their hypotheses, which they and everybody are supposed
to know, and therefore they 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 a consistent
manner, at their conclusion?

  Yes, he said, I know.

  And do you not know also that although they make use of
the visible forms and reason about them, they are thinking not
of these, but of the ideals which they resemble; not of the figures
which they draw, but of the absolute square and the absolute
diameter, and so on--the forms which they draw or make, and
which have shadows and reflections in water of their own, are
converted by them into images, but they are really seeking to
behold the things themselves, which can 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 it the soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not as-
cending to a first principle, because she is unable to rise above
the region of hypothesis, but employing the objects of which
the shadows below are resemblances in their turn as images,
they having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a
greater distinctness, and therefore a higher value.

  I understand, he said, that you are speaking of the province
of geometry and the sister arts.

  And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible,
you will understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge
which reason herself attains by the power of dialectic, using
the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses--
that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world
which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond
them to the first principle of the whole; and clinging to this
and then to that which depends on this, by successive steps she
descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from
ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.

  I understand you, he replied; not perfectly, for you seem to
me to be describing a task which is really tremendous; but,
at any rate, I understand you to say that knowledge and being,
which the science of dialectic contemplates, are clearer than the
notions of the arts, as they are termed, which proceed from hy-
potheses only: these are also contemplated by the understand-
ing, and not by the senses: yet, because they start from hypoth-
eses and do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate
them appear to you not to exercise the higher reason upon them,
although when a first principle is added to them they are cogniz-
able by the higher reason. And the habit which is concerned
with geometry and the cognate sciences I suppose that you
would term understanding, and not reason, as being intermedi-
ate between opinion and reason.

  You have quite conceived my meaning, I said; and now, cor-
responding to these four divisions, let there be four faculties
in the soul--reason answering to the highest, understanding
to the second, faith (or conviction) to the third, and perception
of shadows to the last--and let there be a scale of them, and
let us suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the
same degree that their objects have truth.

  I understand, he replied, and give my assent, and accept your

                        BOOK VII


  AND now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our
nature is enlightened or unenlightened: Behold! human
beings living in an underground den, which has a
mouth open toward the light and reaching all along the den;
here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs
and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see
before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round
their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a dis-
tance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised
way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the
way, like the screen which marionette-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 of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of
wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the
wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

  You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange

  Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own
shadows, or the shadows of 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 never allowed to move their heads?

  And of the objects which are being carried in like manner
they would only see the shadows?

  Yes, he said.

  And if they were able to converse with one another, would
they not suppose that they 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 voice which 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 the images.

  That is certain.

  And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if
the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At
first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to
stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look toward the
light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and
he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state
he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to
him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now,
when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned
toward more real existence, he has a clearer vision--what will
be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor
is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to
name them--will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that
the shadows which he formerly saw are truer 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 pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to
take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see, and which
he will conceive to be in reality clearer than 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 rugged ascent, 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 his eyes will be daz-
zled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are
now called realities.

  Not all in a moment, he said.

  He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper
world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflec-
tions of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects
themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and
the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and
the stars 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 reflec-
tions of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper
place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.


  He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the
season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the
visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which
he and his fellows have been accustomed 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 his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that
he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity him?

  Certainly, he would.

  And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among
themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing
shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which
followed after, and which were together; and who were there-
fore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think
that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the
possessors of them? Would he 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 their manner?

  Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything
than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable

  Imagine once more, I said, such a one coming suddenly out
of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be
certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

  To be sure, he said.

  And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in meas-
uring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out
of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes
had become steady (and the time which would be needed to
acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable),
would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up
he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was
better not even to think of ascending; and if anyone tried to
loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch
the offender, and they would put him to death.

  No question, he said.

  This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glau-
con, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of
sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misap-
prehend me if you interpret the journey upward to be the ascent
of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor
belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed--whether rightly
or wrongly, God knows. But, whether true or false, my opin-
ion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears
last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is
also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful
and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible
world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the in-
tellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would
act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye

  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 beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs;
for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where
they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if
our allegory may be trusted.

  Yes, very natural.

  And is there anything surprising in one who passes from
divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving
himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking
and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding dark-
ness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places,
about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is
endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never
yet seen absolute justice?

  Anything but surprising, he replied.
Anyone who has common-sense will remember that the be-
wilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two
causes, either from coming out of the light 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 will first ask whether that soul of man has come out
of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed
to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is daz-
zled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his
condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if
he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below
into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh
which greets him who returns from above out 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 when they say that they can put a knowledge into the
soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.

  They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

  Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity
of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye
was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole
body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the move-
ment of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming
into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of
being, and of the brightest 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 and quickest 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 bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally
innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the
virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine ele-
ment which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered
useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless.
Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the
keen eye of a clever rogue--how eager he is, how clearly his
paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind,
but his keen eyesight is forced into the service 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 their youth; and they had been severed from
those sensual pleasures, such as eating and 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
things that are below--if, I say, they had been released from
these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very
same faculty in them would have seen 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 necessary inference from what has preceded, that
neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet
those who never make an end of their education, will be able
ministers of the State; not the former, because they have no
single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private
as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act
at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already
dwelling apart in the islands of the blessed.

  Very true, he replied.

  Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the
State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge
which we have already shown to be the greatest of all--they
must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when
they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them
to do as they do now.

  What do you mean?

  I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must
not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among
the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors,
whether they are worth having or not.

  But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse
life, when they might 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; the happiness was to be in the
whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion
and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and there-
fore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them,
not to please themselves, 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 compel-
ling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others;
we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their
class are not obliged to share in the toils of 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 cannot be 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 of yourselves and
of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more
perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able
to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his
turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode,
and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have ac-
quired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the
inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several
images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the
beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State,
which is also yours, will be a reality, and not a dream 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 in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a
great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the
rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the 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 the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the
greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly

  Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the com-
mands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no
doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity,
and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.

  Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must
contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than
that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State;
for only in the State which offers this, will they rule 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
administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their
own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch
the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fight-
ing about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus
arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole

  Most true, he replied.

  And the only life which looks down upon the life of political
ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any

  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 be the men who are wisest about affairs of
State, and by whom the State is best administered, and who at
the same time have other honors and another and a better 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 how they are to be brought from darkness to
light--as some are said to have ascended 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, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which
is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the
ascent from below, which we affirm to be true philosophy?

  Quite so.

  And should we not inquire what sort of knowledge has the
power of effecting such a change?


  What sort of knowledge is there which would draw the soul
from becoming to being? And another consideration has just
occurred to me: You will remember that our young men are
to be warrior athletes?

  Yes, that was said.

  Then this new kind of knowledge must have an additional

  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 gymnastics, which presided over the growth and
decay of the body, and may therefore be regarded as having
to do with generation and corruption?


  Then that is not the knowledge which we are seeking to dis-

  But what do you say of music, what also entered to a certain
extent into our former scheme?

  Music, he said, as you will remember, was the counterpart
of gymnastics, and trained the guardians by the influences of
habit, by harmony making them harmonious, by rhythm rhyth-
mical, but not giving them science; and the words, whether
fabulous or possibly true, had kindred elements of rhythm and
harmony in them. But in music there was nothing which tend-
ed to that good which you are now seeking.

  You are most accurate, I said, in your recollection; in music
there certainly was nothing of the kind. But what branch of
knowledge is there, my dear Glaucon, which is of the desired
nature; since all the useful arts were reckoned mean by us?

  Undoubtedly; and yet if music and gymnastics are excluded,
and the arts are also excluded, what remains?

  Well, I said, there may be nothing left of our special sub-
jects; and then we shall have to take something which is not
special, but of the universal application.

  What may that be?

  A something which all arts and sciences and intelligences
use in common, and which everyone first has to learn among
the elements of education.

  What is that?

  The little matter of distinguishing one, two, and three--in
a word, number and calculation: do not all arts and sciences
necessarily partake of them?


  Then the art of war partakes of them?

  To be sure.

  Then Palamedes, whenever he appears in tragedy, proves
Agamemnon ridiculously unfit to be a general. Did you never
remark how he declares that he had invented number, and had
numbered the ships and set in array the ranks of the army at
Troy; which implies that they had never been numbered before,
and Agamemnon must be supposed literally to have been in-
capable of counting his own fleet--how could he if he was ig-
norant of number? And if that is true, what sort 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

  Certainly he should, if he is to have the smallest understand-
ing of military tactics, 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 this study?

  What is your notion?

  It appears to me to be a study of the kind which we are seek-
ing, and which leads naturally to reflection, but never to have
been rightly used; for the true use of it is simply to draw the
soul toward being.

  Will you explain your meaning? he said.

  I will try, I said; and I wish you would share the inquiry
with me, and say "yes" or "no" when I attempt to distinguish
in my own mind what branches of knowledge have this attract-
ing power, in order that we may have clearer proof that arith-
metic 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 not invite thought because the sense is an adequate
judge of them; while in the case of other objects sense is so un-
trustworthy that further inquiry is imperatively demanded.

  You are clearly referring, he said, to the manner in which
the senses are imposed 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 one sensation to the opposite; inviting objects
are those which do; in this latter case the sense coming upon
the object, whether at a distance or near, gives no more vivid
idea of anything in particular than of its opposite. An illus-
tration will make my meaning clearer: here are three fingers--
a little finger, 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 the extremity, whether white or black, or thick
or thin--it makes no difference; a finger is a finger all the
same. In these cases a man is not compelled to ask of thought
the question, What is a finger? for the sight never intimates to
the mind that a finger is other than a finger.


  And therefore, I said, as we might expect, there is nothing
here which invites or excites intelligence.

  There is not, he said.

  But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the
fingers? Can sight adequately perceive them? and is no differ-
ence made by the circumstance that one of the fingers is in the
middle and the other at the extremity? And in like manner
does the touch adequately perceive the qualities of thickness or
thinness, of softness or hardness? And so of the other senses;
do they give perfect intimations of such matters? Is not their
mode of operation on this wise--the sense which is concerned
with the quality of hardness is necessarily concerned also with
the quality of softness, and only intimates to the 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 of a hard which is also soft? What, again, is
the meaning of light and heavy, if that which is light is also
heavy, and that which is heavy, light?

  Yes, he said, these intimations which the soul receives are
very curious and require to be explained.

  Yes, I said, and in these perplexities the soul naturally sum-
mons to her aid calculation and intelligence, that she may see
whether the several objects announced to her are one or two.


  And if they turn out to be two, is not each of them one and


  And if each is one, and both are two, she will conceive the
two as in a state of division, for if they were undivided they
could only be conceived of as one?


  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 to reverse the process, and look at small and
great as separate and not confused.

  Very true.

  Was not this the beginning of the inquiry, "What is great?"
and "What is small?"

  Exactly so.

  And thus arose the distinction of the visible and the intel-

  Most true.

  This was what I meant when I spoke of impressions which
invited the intellect, or the reverse--those which are simul-
taneous 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 per-
ceived by the sight or by any other sense, then, as we were say-
ing in the case of the finger, there would be nothing to attract
toward being; but when there is some contradiction always
present, and one is the reverse of one and involves the concep-
tion of plurality, then thought begins to be aroused within us,
and the soul perplexed and 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 and converting the mind
to the contemplation of true being.

  And surely, he said, this occurs notably in the case of one;
for we see the same thing to be both one and infinite in multi-

  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 toward truth?

  Yes, in a very remarkable manner.

  Then this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking,
having a double use, military and philosophical; for the man of
war must learn the art of number 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, and
therefore 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 we must endeavor to persuade those who are to
be the principal men of our State to go and learn arithmetic,
not as amateurs, but they must carry on the study until they see
the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, like mer-
chants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but
for the sake of their military use, and of the soul herself; and
because this will be the easiest way for her to pass from becom-
ing to truth and being.

  That is excellent, he said.

  Yes, I said, and now having spoken of it, I must add how
charming the science is! and in how many ways it conduces to
our desired end, if pursued in the spirit 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 the introduction of visible or
tangible objects into the argument. You know how steadily
the masters of the art repel and ridicule anyone who attempts
to divide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you
divide, they multiply, taking care that 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 these wonderful numbers about which you are rea-
soning, in which, as you say, there is a unity such as you de-
mand, and each unit is equal, invariable, indivisible--what
would they answer?

  They would answer, as I should conceive, that they were
speaking of those numbers which can only be realized in

  Then you see that this knowledge may be truly called neces-
sary, necessitating as it clearly does the use of the pure intelli-
gence in the attainment of pure truth?

  Yes; that is a marked characteristic of it.

  And have you further observed that those who have a natural
talent for calculation are generally quick at every other kind of
knowledge; and even the dull, if they have had an arithmetical
training, although they may derive no other advantage from it,
always become much quicker than they would otherwise have

  Very true, he said.

  And indeed, you will not easily find a more difficult study,
and not many as difficult.

  You will not.

  And, for all these reasons, arithmetic is a kind of knowledge
in which the best natures 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 we inquire whether the kindred science also con-
cerns us?

  You mean geometry?

  Exactly so.

  Clearly, he said, we are concerned with that part of geometry
which relates to war; for in pitching a camp or taking up a
position or closing or extending the lines of an army, or any
other military manoeuvre, whether in actual battle or on a
march, it will make all the difference whether a general is or is
not a geometrician.

  Yes, I said, but for that purpose a very little of either geome-
try or calculation will be enough; the question relates rather
to the greater and more advanced part of geometry--whether
that tends in any degree to make more easy the vision of the
idea of good; and thither, as I was saying, all things tend which
compel the soul to turn her gaze toward that place, where is
the full perfection of being, which she ought, by all means, to

  True, he said.

  Then if geometry compels us to view being, it concerns us;
if becoming only, it does not concern us?

  Yes, that is what we assert.

  Yet anybody who has the least acquaintance with geometry
will not deny that such a conception of the science is in flat con-
tradiction to the ordinary language of geometricians.

  How so?

  They have in view practice only, and are always speaking,
in a narrow and ridiculous manner, of squaring and extending
and applying and the like--they confuse the necessities of ge-
ometry 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 not of aught perishing and transient.

  That, he replied, may be readily allowed, and is true.

  Then, my noble friend, geometry will draw the soul toward
truth, and create the spirit of philosophy, and raise up that
which is now unhappily allowed to fall down.

  Nothing will be more likely to have such an effect.

  Then nothing should be more sternly laid down than that the
inhabitants of your fair city should by all means learn geometry.
Moreover, the science has indirect effects, which are not small.

  Of what kind? he said.

  There are the military advantages of which you spoke, I said;
and in all departments of knowledge, as experience proves, any-
one who has studied geometry is infinitely quicker of apprehen-
sion than one who has not.
Yes, indeed, he said, there is an infinite difference between

  Then shall we propose this as a second branch of knowledge
which our youth will study?

  Let us do so, he replied.

  And suppose we make astronomy the third--what do you

  I am strongly inclined to it, he said; the observation of the
seasons and of months and years is as essential to the general
as it is to the farmer or sailor.

  I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes
you guard against the appearance of insisting upon useless
studies; and I quite admit the difficulty of believing that in
every man there is an eye of the soul which, when by other pur-
suits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and reillumined; and
is more precious far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it
alone is truth seen. Now there are two classes of persons:
one class of those who will agree with you and will take your
words as a revelation; another class to whom they will be ut-
terly unmeaning, and who will naturally deem them to be idle
tales, for they see no sort of profit which is to be obtained from
them. And therefore you had better decide at once with which
of the two you are proposing to argue. You will very likely
say with neither, and that your chief aim in carrying on the
argument is your own improvement; at the same time you do
not grudge 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, the third, which is concerned with
cubes and dimensions of depth, ought to have followed.

  That is true, Socrates; but so little seems to be known as yet
about these subjects.

  Why, yes, I said, and for two reasons: in the first place, no
government patronizes them; this leads to a want of energy in
the pursuit of them, and they are difficult; in the second place,
students cannot learn them unless they have 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 to him. That, however, would be otherwise if the
whole State became the director of these studies and gave honor
to them; then disciples would want to come, and there would be
continuous and earnest search, and discoveries would be made;
since even now, disregarded as they are by the world, and
maimed of their fair 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, if they 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 clearly understand the change in the order. First you be-
gan with a geometry of plane surfaces?

  Yes, I said.

  And you placed astronomy next, and then you made a step

  Yes, and I have delayed you by my hurry; the ludicrous state
of solid geometry, which, in natural order, should have fol-
lowed, made me pass over this branch and go on to astronomy,
or motion of solids.

  True, he said.

  Then assuming that the science now omitted would come into
existence if encouraged by the State, let us go on to astronomy,
which will be fourth.

  The right order, he replied. And now, Socrates, as you re-
buked the vulgar manner in which I praised astronomy before,
my praise shall be given in your own spirit. For everyone, as
I think, must see that astronomy compels the soul to look up-
ward and leads us from this world to another.
Everyone but myself, I said; to everyone else this may be
clear, but not to me.

  And what, then, would you say?

  I should rather say that those who elevate astronomy into
philosophy appear to me to make us look downward, and not

  What do you mean? he asked.

  You, I replied, have in your mind a truly sublime conception
of our knowledge of the things above. And I dare say that if
a person were to throw his head back and study the fretted ceil-
ing, you would still think that his mind was the percipient, and
not his eyes. And you are very likely right, and I may be a
simpleton: but, in my opinion, that knowledge only which is
of being and of the unseen can make the soul look upward, and
whether a man gapes at the heavens or blinks on the ground,
seeking to learn some particular of sense, I would deny that he
can learn, for nothing of that sort is matter of science; his soul
is looking downward, not upward, whether his way to knowl-
edge is by water or by land, whether he floats or only lies on his

  I acknowledge, he said, the justice of your rebuke. Still, I
should like to ascertain how astronomy can be learned in any
manner more conducive to that knowledge of which we are

  I will tell you, I said: The starry heaven which we behold
is wrought upon a visible ground, and therefore, although the
fairest and most perfect of visible things, must necessarily be
deemed inferior far to the true motions of absolute swiftness
and absolute slowness, which are relative to each other, and
carry with them that which is contained in them, in the true
number and in every true figure. Now, these are to be appre-
hended by reason and intelligence, but not by sight.

  True, he replied.

  The spangled heavens should be used as a pattern and with
a view to that higher knowledge; their beauty is like the beauty
of figures or pictures excellently wrought by the hand of Dae-
dalus, or some other great artist, which we may chance to be-
hold; any geometrician who saw them would appreciate the ex-
quisiteness of their workmanship, but he would never dream of
thinking that in them he could find the true equal or the true
double, or the truth of any other proportion.

  No, he replied, such an idea would be ridiculous.

  And will not a true astronomer have the same feeling when
he looks at the movements of the stars? Will he not think
that heaven and the things in heaven are framed by the Creator
of them in the most perfect manner? But he will never imag-
ine that the proportions of night and day, or of both to the
month, or of the month to the year, or of the stars to these and
to one another, and any other things that are material and visi-
ble can also be eternal and subject to no deviation--that would
be absurd; and it is equally absurd to take so much 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 em-
ploy problems, and let the heavens alone if we would approach
the subject in the right way and so make the natural gift of
reason to be of any real use.

  That, he said, is a work infinitely beyond our present astron-

  Yes, I said; and there are many other things which must also
have a similar extension given to them, if our legislation is to
be of any value. But can you tell me of any other suitable

  No, he said, not without thinking.

  Motion, I said, has many forms, and not one only; two of
them are obvious enough even to wits no better than ours; and
there are others, as I imagine, which may be left to wiser per-

  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 is to the eyes; for I conceive that as the eyes are
designed to look up at the stars, so are the ears to hear harmo-
nious motions; and these are sister sciences--as the Pythago-
reans say, and we, Glaucon, agree with them?

  Yes, he replied.

  But this, I said, is a laborious study, and therefore we had
better go and learn of them; and they will tell us whether there
are any other applications of these sciences. At the same time,
we must not lose sight of our own higher object.

  What is that?

  There is a perfection which all knowledge ought to reach,
and which our pupils ought also to attain, and not to fall short
of, as I was saying that they did in astronomy. For in the
science of harmony, as you probably know, the same thing hap-
pens. The teachers of harmony compare the sounds and con-
sonances which are heard only, and their labor, like that of the
astronomers, is in vain.

  Yes, by heaven! he said; and 'tis as good as a play to hear
them talking about their condensed notes, as they call them;
they put their ears close alongside of the strings like persons
catching a sound from their neighbor's wall--one set of them
declaring that they distinguish an intermediate note and have
found the least interval which should be the unit of measure-
ment; the others insisting that the two sounds have passed into
the same--either party setting their ears before their under-

  You mean, I said, those gentlemen who tease and torture the
strings and rack them on the pegs of the instrument: I might
carry on the metaphor and speak after their manner of the
blows which the plectrum gives, and make accusations against
the strings, both of backwardness and forwardness to sound;
but this would be tedious, and therefore I will only say that
these are not the men, and that I am referring to the Pytha-
goreans, of whom I was just now proposing to inquire about
harmony. For they too are in error, like the astronomers; they
investigate the numbers of the harmonies which are heard, but
they never attain to problems--that is to say, they never reach
the natural harmonies of number, 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 after with 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 intercommun-
ion and connection with one another, and come to be considered
in their mutual affinities, then, I think, but not till then, will the
pursuit of them have a value for our objects; 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 is but the prelude to the actual strain
which we have to learn? For you surely would not regard
the skilled mathematician as a dialectician?

  Assuredly not, he said; I have hardly ever known a mathe-
matician who was capable of reasoning.

  But do you imagine that men who are unable to give and
take a reason will have the knowledge which we require of

  Neither can this be supposed.

  And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn
of dialectic. This is that strain which is of the intellect only,
but which the faculty of sight will nevertheless be found to im-
itate; for sight, as you may remember, was imagined by us
after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last of all
the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts
on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and
without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure
intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good,
he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as
in the case of sight at the end of the visible.

  Exactly, he said.

  Then this is the progress which you call dialectic?


  But the release of the prisoners from chains, and their trans-
lation from the shadows to the images and to the light, and the
ascent from the underground den to the sun, while in his pres-
ence they are vainly trying to look on animals and plants and
the light of the sun, but are able to perceive even with their
weak eyes the images in the water (which are divine), and
are the shadows of true existence (not shadows of images cast
by a light of fire, which compared with the sun is only an
image)--this power of elevating the highest principle in the
soul to the contemplation of that which is best in existence,
with which we may compare the raising of that faculty which
is the very light of the body to the sight of that which is bright-
est in the material and visible world--this power is given, as
I was saying, by all that study and pursuit of the arts which
have been described.

  I agree in what you are saying, he replied, which may be
hard to believe, yet, from another point of view, is harder still
to deny. This, however, is not a theme to be treated of in pass-
ing only, but will have to be discussed again and again. And
so, whether our conclusion be true or false, let us assume all
this, and proceed at once from the prelude or preamble to the
chief strain, and describe that in like manner. Say, then, what
is the nature and what are the divisions of dialectic, and what
are the paths which lead thither; for these paths will also lead
to our final rest.

  Dear Glaucon, I said, you will not be able to follow me here,
though I would do my best, and you should behold not an image
only, but the absolute truth, according to my notion. Whether
what I told you would or would not have been a reality I cannot
venture to say; but you would have seen something like reality;
of that I am confident.

  Doubtless, he replied.

  But I must also remind you that the power of dialectic alone
can reveal this, and only to one who is a disciple of the previous

  Of that assertion you may be as confident as of the last.

  And assuredly no one will argue that there is any other
method of comprehending by any regular process all true ex-
istence, or of ascertaining what each thing is in its own nature;
for the arts in general are concerned with the desires or opin-
ions of men, or are cultivated with a view to production and
construction, or for the preservation of such productions and
constructions; and as to the mathematical sciences which, as
we were saying, have some apprehension of true being--geom-
etry and the like--they only dream about being, but never can
they behold the waking reality so long as they leave the hy-
potheses which they use unexamined, and are unable to give an
account of them. For when a man knows not his own first
principle, and when the conclusion and intermediate steps are
also constructed out of he knows not what, how can he imagine
that such a fabric of convention can ever become science?

  Impossible, he said.

  Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first
principle and is the only science which does away with hy-
potheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the
soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is by her
gentle aid lifted upward; and she uses as handmaids and
helpers in the work of conversion, the sciences which we have
been discussing. Custom terms them sciences, but they ought
to have some other name, implying greater clearness than opin-
ion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous
sketch, was called understanding. But why should we dispute
about names when we have realities of such importance to con-
Why, indeed, he said, when any name will do which ex-
presses the thought of the mind with clearness?

  At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions;
two for intellect and two for opinion, and to call the first divis-
ion science, the second understanding, the third belief, and the
fourth perception of shadows, opinion being concerned with
becoming, and intellect with being; and so to make a propor-

  "As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion.
   And as intellect is to opinion, so is science to belief, and understand-
   ing to the perception of shadows."

But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the
subjects of opinion and of intellect, for it will be a long inquiry,
many times longer than this has been.

  As far as I understand, he said, I agree.

  And do you also agree, I said, in describing the dialectician
as one who attains a conception of the essence of each thing?
And he who does not possess and is therefore unable to impart
this conception, in whatever degree he fails, may in that degree
also be said to fail in intelligence? Will you admit so much?

  Yes, he said; how can I deny it?

  And you would say the same of the conception of the good?

  Until the person is able to abstract and define rationally the
idea of good, and unless he can run the gauntlet of all objec-
tions, and is ready to disprove them, not by appeals to opinion,
but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step of the argu-
ment--unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows
neither the idea of good nor any other good; he apprehends
only a shadow, if anything at all, which is given by opinion,
and not by science; dreaming and slumbering in this life, before
he is well awake here, he arrives at the world below, and has
his final quietus.

  In all that I should most certainly agree with you.

  And surely you would not have the children of your ideal
State, whom you are nurturing and educating--if the ideal
ever becomes a reality--you would not allow the future rulers
to be like posts, having no reason in them, and yet to be set in
authority over the highest matters?

  Certainly not.

  Then you will make a law that they shall have such an edu-
cation as will enable them to attain the greatest skill in asking
and answering questions?

  Yes, he said, you and I together will make it.

  Dialectic, then, as you will agree, is the coping-stone of the
sciences, and is set over them; no other science can be placed
higher--the nature of knowledge can no further go?

  I agree, he said.

  But to whom we are to assign these studies, and in what way
they are to be assigned, are questions which remain to be con-

  Yes, clearly.

  You remember, I said, how the rulers were chosen before?

  Certainly, he said.

  The same natures must still be chosen, and the preference
again given to the surest and the bravest, and, if possible, to the
fairest; and, having noble and generous tempers, they should
also have the natural gifts which will facilitate their education.

  And what are these?

  Such gifts as keenness and ready powers of acquisition; for
the mind more often faints from the severity of study than
from the severity of gymnastics: the toil is more entirely the
mind's own, and is not shared with the body.

  Very true, he replied.

  Further, he of whom we are in search should have a good
memory, and be an unwearied solid man who is a lover of labor
in any line; or he will never be able to endure the great amount
of bodily exercise and to go through all the intellectual disci-
pline and study which we require of him.

  Certainly, he said; he must have natural gifts.

  The mistake at present is that those who study philosophy
have no vocation, and this, as I was before saying, is the reason
why she has fallen into disrepute: her true sons should take
her by the hand, and not bastards.

  What do you mean?

  In the first place, her votary should not have a lame or halt-
ing industry--I mean, that he should not be half industrious
and half idle: as, for example, when a man is a lover of gym-
nastics and hunting, and all other bodily exercises, but a hater
rather than a lover of the labor of learning or listening or in-
quiring. Or the occupation to which he devotes himself may
be of an opposite kind, and he may have the other sort of lame-

  Certainly, he said.

  And as to truth, I said, is not a soul equally to be deemed
halt and lame which hates voluntary falsehood and is extremely
indignant at herself and others when they tell lies, but is patient
of involuntary falsehood, and does not mind wallowing like a
swinish beast in the mire of ignorance, and has no shame at
being detected?

  To be sure.

  And, again, in respect of temperance, courage, magnificence,
and every other virtue, should we not carefully distinguish be-
tween the true son and the bastard? for where there is no dis-
cernment of such qualities, States and individuals uncon-
sciously err; and the State makes a ruler, and the individual a
friend, of one who, being defective in some part of virtue,
is in a figure lame or a bastard.

  That is very true, he said.

  All these things, then, will have to be carefully considered
by us; and if only those whom we introduce to this vast system
of education and training are sound in body and mind, justice
herself will have nothing to say against us, and we shall be the
saviours of the constitution and of the State; but, if our pupils
are men of another stamp, the reverse will happen, and we
shall pour a still greater flood of ridicule on philosophy than
she has to endure at present.

  That would not be creditable.

  Certainly not, I said; and yet perhaps, in thus turning jest
into earnest I am equally ridiculous.

  In what respect?

  I had forgotten, I said, that we were not serious, and spoke
with too much excitement. For when I saw philosophy so
undeservedly trampled under foot of men I could not help feel-
ing a sort of indignation at the authors of her disgrace: and my
anger made me too vehement.

  Indeed! I was listening, and did not think so.

  But I, who am the speaker, felt that I was. And now let
me remind you that, although in our former selection we chose
old men, we must not do so in this. Solon was under a delu-
sion when he said that a man when he grows old may learn
many things--for he can no more learn much than he can run
much; youth is the time for any extraordinary toil.

  Of course.

  And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other
elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic,
should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however,
under any notion of forcing our system of education.

  Why not?

  Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition
of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory,
does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired
under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

  Very true.

  Then, my good friend, I said, do not use compulsion, but
let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be
better able to find out the natural bent.

  That is a very rational notion, he said.

  Do you remember that the children, too, were to be taken
to see the battle on horseback; and that if there were no danger
they were to be brought close up and, like young hounds, have
a taste of blood given them?

  Yes, I remember.

  The same practice may be followed, I said, in all these things
--labors, lessons, dangers--and he who is most at home in all
of them ought to be enrolled in a select number.

  At what age?

  At the age when the necessary gymnastics are over: the
period, whether of two or three years, which passes in this sort
of training is useless for any other purpose; for sleep and ex-
ercise are unpropitious to learning; and the trial of who is first
in gymnastic exercises is one of the most important tests to
which our youth are subjected.

  Certainly, he replied.

  After that time those who are selected from the class of
twenty years old will be promoted to higher honor, and the
sciences which they learned without any order in their early
education will now be brought together, and they will be able
to see the natural relationship of them to one another and to
true being.

  Yes, he said, that is the only kind of knowledge which takes
lasting root.

  Yes, I said; and the capacity for such knowledge is the great
criterion of dialectical talent: the comprehensive mind is always
the dialectical.

  I agree with you, he said.

  These, I said, are the points which you must consider; and
those who have most of this comprehension, and who are most
steadfast in their learning, and in their military and other ap-
pointed duties, when they have arrived at the age of thirty will
have to be chosen by you out of the select class, and elevated
to higher honor; and you will have to prove them by the help
of dialectic, in order to learn which of them is able to give up
the use of sight and the other senses, and in company with truth
to attain absolute being: And here, my friend, great caution is

  Why great caution?

  Do you not remark, I said, how great is the evil which dia-
lectic has introduced?

  What evil? he said.

  The students of the art are filled with lawlessness.

  Quite true, he said.

  Do you think that there is anything so very unnatural or in-
excusable in their case? or will you make allowance for them?

  In what way make allowance?

  I want you, I said, by way of parallel, to imagine a suppo-
sititious son who is brought up in great wealth; he is one of a
great and numerous family, and has many flatterers. When
he grows up to manhood, he learns that his alleged are not his
real parents; but who the real are he is unable to discover. Can
you guess how he will be likely to behave toward his flatterers
and his supposed parents, first of all during the period when he
is ignorant of the false relation, and then again when he knows?
Or shall I guess for you?

  If you please.

  Then I should say that while he is ignorant of the truth he
will be likely to honor his father and his mother and his sup-
posed relations more than the flatterers; he will be less inclined
to neglect them when in need, or to do or say anything against
them; and he will be less willing to disobey them in any im-
portant matter.

  He will.

  But when he has made the discovery, I should imagine that
he would diminish his honor and regard for them, and would
become more devoted to the flatterers; their influence over him
would greatly increase; he would now live after their ways, and
openly associate with them, and, unless he were of an unusually
good disposition, he would trouble himself no more about his
supposed parents or other relations.

  Well, all that is very probable. But how is the image appli-
cable to the disciples of philosophy?

  In this way: you know that there are certain principles about
justice and honor, which were taught us in childhood, and
under their parental authority we have been brought up, obey-
ing and honoring them.

  That is true.

  There are also opposite maxims and habits of pleasure which
flatter and attract the soul, but do not influence those of us
who have any sense of right, and they continue to obey and
honor the maxims of their fathers.


  Now, when a man is in this state, and the questioning spirit
asks what is fair or honorable, and he answers as the legislator
has taught him, and then arguments many and diverse refute
his words, until he is driven into believing that nothing is
honorable any more than dishonorable, or just and good any
more than the reverse, and so of all the notions which he most
valued, do you think that he will still honor and obey them as


  And when he ceases to think them honorable and natural
as heretofore, and he fails to discover the true, can he be ex-
pected to pursue any life other than that which flatters his

  He cannot.

  And from being a keeper of the law he is converted into a
breaker of it?


  Now all this is very natural in students of philosophy such
as I have described, and also, as I was just now saying, most

  Yes, he said; and, I may add, pitiable.

  Therefore, that your feelings may not be moved to pity about
our citizens who are now thirty years of age, every care must
be taken in introducing them to dialectic.


  There is a danger lest they should taste the dear delight too
early; for youngsters, as you may have observed, when they
first get the taste in their mouths, argue for amusement, and
are always contradicting and refuting others in imitation of
those who refute them; like puppy-dogs, they rejoice in pull-
ing and tearing at all who come near them.

  Yes, he said, there is nothing which they like better.

  And when they have made many conquests and received de-
feats at the hands of many, they violently and speedily get into
a way of not believing anything which they believed before,
and hence, not only they, but philosophy and all that relates to
it is apt to have a bad name with the rest of the world.

  Too true, he said.

  But when a man begins to get older, he will no longer be
guilty of such insanity; he will imitate the dialectician who is
seeking for truth, and not the eristic, who is contradicting for
the sake of amusement; and the greater moderation of his char-
acter will increase instead of diminishing the honor of the pur-

  Very true, he said.

  And did we not make special provision for this, when we
said that the disciples of philosophy were to be orderly and
steadfast, not, as now, any chance aspirant or intruder?

  Very true.

  Suppose, I said, the study of philosophy to take the place of
gymnastics and to be continued diligently and earnestly and
exclusively for twice the number of years which were passed
in bodily exercise--will that be enough?

  Would you say six or four years? he asked.

  Say five years, I replied; at the end of the time they must
be sent down again into the den and compelled to hold any mil-
itary or other office which young men are qualified to hold: in
this way they will get their experience of life, and there will be
an opportunity of trying whether, when they are drawn all
manner of ways by temptation, they will stand firm or flinch.

  And how long is this stage of their lives to last?

  Fifteen years, I answered; and when they have reached fifty
years of age, then let those who still survive and have distin-
guished themselves in every action of their lives, and in every
branch of knowledge, come at last to their consummation: the
time has now arrived at which they must raise the eye of the
soul to the universal light which lightens all things, and behold
the absolute good; for that is the pattern according to which
they are to order the State and the lives of individuals, and the
remainder of their own lives also; making philosophy their
chief pursuit, but, when their turn comes, toiling also at politics
and ruling for the public good, not as though they were per-
forming some heroic action, but simply as a matter of duty;
and when they have brought up in each generation others like
themselves and left them in their place to be governors of the
State, then they will depart to the Islands of the Blessed and
dwell there; and the city will give them public memorials and
sacrifices and honor them, if the Pythian oracle consent, as
demigods, but if not, as in any case blessed and divine.

  You are a sculptor, Socrates, and have made statues of our
governors faultless in beauty.

  Yes, I said, Glaucon, and of our governesses too; for you
must not suppose that what I have been saying applies to men
only and not to women as far as their natures can go.

  There you are right, he said, since we have made them to
share in all things like the men.

  Well, I said, and you would agree (would you not?) that
what has been said about the State and the government is not
a mere dream, and although difficult, not impossible, but only
possible in the way which has been supposed; that is to say,
when the true philosopher-kings are born in a State, one or
more of them, despising the honors of this present world which
they deem mean and worthless, esteeming above all things right
and the honor that springs from right, and regarding justice
as the greatest and most necessary of all things, whose minis-
ters they are, and whose principles will be exalted by them
when they set in order their own city?

  How will they proceed?

  They will begin by sending out into the country all the in-
habitants of the city who are more than ten years old, and will
take possession of their children, who will be unaffected by the
habits of their parents; these they will train in their own habits
and laws, I mean in the laws which we have given them: and in
this way the State and constitution of which we were speaking
will soonest and most easily attain happiness, and the nation
which has such a constitution will gain most.

  Yes, that will be the best way. And I think, Socrates, that
you have very well described how, if ever, such a constitution
might come into being.
Enough, then, of the perfect State, and of the man who bears
its image--there is no difficulty in seeing how we shall describe

  There is no difficulty, he replied; and I agree with you in
thinking that nothing more need be said.

                      BOOK VIII


  AND so, Glaucon, we have arrived at the conclusion that
in the perfect State wives and children are to be in com-
mon; and that all education and the pursuits of war
and peace are also to be common, and the best philosophers and
the bravest warriors are to be their kings?

  That, replied Glaucon, has been acknowledged.

  Yes, I said; and we have further acknowledged that the
governors, when appointed themselves, will take their soldiers
and place them in houses such as we were describing, which
are common to all, and contain nothing private, or individual;
and about their property, you remember what we agreed?

  Yes, I remember that no one was to have any of the ordinary
possessions of mankind; they were to be warrior athletes and
guardians, receiving from the other citizens, in lieu of annual
payment, only their maintenance, and they were to take care of
themselves and of the whole State.

  True, I said; and now that this division of our task is con-
cluded, let us find the point at which we digressed, that we may
return into the old path.

  There is no difficulty in returning; you implied, then as now,
that you had finished the description of the State: you said that
such a State was good, and that the man was good who an-
swered to it, although, as now appears, you had more excellent
things to relate both of State and man. And you said further,
that if this was the true form, then the others were false; and
of the false forms, you said, as I remember, that there were
four principal ones, and that their defects, and the defects of
the individuals corresponding to them, were worth examining.
When we had seen all the individuals, and finally agreed as to
who was the best and who was the worst of them, we were to
consider whether the best was not also the happiest, and the
worst the most miserable. I asked you what were the four
forms of government of which you spoke, and then Polemar-
chus and Adeimantus put in their word; and you began again,
and have found your way to the point at which we have now

  Your recollection, I said, is most exact.

  Then, like a wrestler, he replied, you must put yourself again
in the same position; and let me ask the same questions, and do
you give me the same answer which you were about to give me

  Yes, if I can, I will, I said.

  I shall particularly wish to hear what were the four consti-
tutions of which you were speaking.

  That question, I said, is easily answered: the four govern-
ments of which I spoke, so far as they have distinct names, are
first, those of Crete and Sparta, which are generally applauded;
what is termed oligarchy comes next; this is not equally ap-
proved, and is a form of government which teems with evils:
thirdly, democracy, which naturally follows oligarchy, although
very different: and lastly comes tyranny, great and famous,
which differs from them all, and is the fourth and worst dis-
order of a State. I do not know, do you? of any other consti-
tution which can be said to have a distinct character. There
are lordships and principalities which are bought and sold, and
some other intermediate forms of government. But these are
nondescripts and may be found equally among Hellenes and
among barbarians.

  Yes, he replied, we certainly hear of many curious forms of
government which exist among them.

  Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the disposi-
tions of men vary, and that there must be as many of the one
as there are of the other? For we cannot suppose that States
are made of "oak and rock," and not out of the human natures
which are in them, and which in a figure turn the scale and
draw other things after them?

  Yes, he said, the States are as the men are; they grow out of
human characters.

  Then if the constitutions of States are five, the dispositions
of individual minds will also be five?


  Him who answers to aristocracy, and whom we rightly call
just and good, we have already described.

  We have.

  Then let us now proceed to describe the inferior sort of nat-
ures, being the contentious and ambitious, who answer to the
Spartan polity; also the oligarchical, democratical, and tyran-
nical. Let us place the most just by the side of the most un-
just, and when we see them we shall be able to compare the
relative happiness or unhappiness of him who leads a life of
pure justice or pure injustice. The inquiry will then be com-
pleted. And we shall know whether we ought to pursue injus-
tice, as Thrasymachus advises, or in accordance with the con-
clusions of the argument to prefer justice.

  Certainly, he replied, we must do as you say.

  Shall we follow our old plan, which we adopted with a view
to clearness, of taking the State first and then proceeding to
the individual, and begin with the government of honor?--I
know of no name for such a government other than timocracy
or perhaps timarchy. We will compare with this the like
character in the individual; and, after that, consider oligarchy
and the oligarchical man; and then again we will turn our
attention to democracy and the democratical man; and lastly,
we will go and view the city of tyranny, and once more take a
look into the tyrant's soul, and try to arrive at a satisfactory

  That way of viewing and judging of the matter will be very

  First, then, I said, let us inquire how timocracy (the govern-
ment of honor) arises out of aristocracy (the government of
the best). Clearly, all political changes originate in divisions
of the actual governing power; a government which is united,
however small, cannot be moved.

  Very true, he said.

  In what way, then, will our city be moved, and in what man-
ner will the two classes of auxiliaries and rulers disagree among
themselves or with one another? Shall we, after the manner
of Homer, pray the muses to tell us "how discord first arose"?
Shall we imagine them in solemn mockery, to play and jest
with us as if we were children, and to address us in a lofty
tragic vein, making believe to be in earnest?

  How would they address us?

  After this manner: A city which is thus constituted can
hardly be shaken; but, seeing that everything which has a be-
ginning has also an end, even a constitution such as yours will
not last forever, but will in time be dissolved. And this is the
dissolution: In plants that grow in the earth, as well as in ani-
mals that move on the earth's surface, fertility and sterility of
soul and body occur when the circumferences of the circles of
each are completed, which in short-lived existences pass over
a short space, and in long-lived ones over a long space. But to
the knowledge of human fecundity and sterility all the wisdom
and education of your rulers will not attain; the laws which
regulate them will not be discovered by an intelligence which
is alloyed with sense, but will escape them, and they will bring
children into the world when they ought not. Now that which
is of divine birth has a period which is contained in a perfect
number, but the period of human birth is comprehended in a
number in which first increments by involution and evolution
(or squared and cubed) obtaining three intervals and four
terms of like and unlike, waxing and waning numbers, make
all the terms commensurable and agreeable to one another.
The base of these (3) with a third added (4), when combined
with five (20) and raised to the third power, furnishes two har-
monies; the first a square which is 100 times as great (400 =
4 x 100), and the other a figure having one side equal to the
former, but oblong, consisting of 100 numbers squared upon
rational diameters of a square (i.e., omitting fractions), the
side of which is five (7 x 7 = 49 x 100 = 4900), each of them
being less by one (than the perfect square which includes the
fractions, sc. 50) or less by two perfect squares of irrational
diameters (of a square the side of which is five = 50 + 50 =
100); and 100 cubes of three (27 x 100 = 2700 + 4900 +
400 = 8000). Now this number represents a geometrical
figure which has control over the good and evil of births. For
when your guardians are ignorant of the law of births, and
unite bride and bridegroom out of season, the children will not
be goodly or fortunate. And though only the best of them will
be appointed by their predecessor, still they will be unworthy
to hold their father's places, and when they come into power
as guardians they will soon be found to fail in taking care of
us, the muses, first by undervaluing music; which neglect will
soon extend to gymnastics; and hence the young men of your
State will be less cultivated. In the succeeding generation
rulers will be appointed who have lost the guardian power of
testing the metal of your different races, which, like Hesiod's,
are of gold and silver and brass and iron. And so iron will be
mingled with silver, and brass with gold, and hence there will
arise dissimilarity and inequality and irregularity, which always
and in all places are causes of hatred and war. This the muses
affirm to be the stock from which discord has sprung, wherever
arising; and this is their answer to us.

  Yes, and we may assume that they answer truly.

  Why, yes, I said, of course they answer truly; how can the
muses speak falsely?

  And what do the muses say next?

  When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different
ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money, and land, and
houses, and gold, and silver; but the gold and silver races, not
wanting money, but having the true riches in their own nature,
inclined toward virtue and the ancient order of things. There
was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute
their land and houses among individual owners; and they en-
slaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly
protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them sub-
jects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war
and in keeping a watch against them.

  I believe that you have rightly conceived the origin of the

  And the new government which thus arises will be of a
form intermediate between oligarchy and aristocracy?

  Very true.

  Such will be the change, and after the change has been made,
how will they proceed? Clearly, the new State, being in a
mean between oligarchy and the perfect State, will partly fol-
low one and partly the other, and will also have some pecul-

  True, he said.

  In the honor given to rulers, in the abstinence of the warrior-
class from agriculture, handicrafts, and trade in general, in the
institution of common meals, and in the attention paid to gym-
nastics and military training--in all these respects this State
will resemble the former.


  But in the fear of admitting philosophers to power, because
they are no longer to be had simple and earnest, but are made
up of mixed elements; and in turning from them to passionate
and less complex characters, who are by nature fitted for war
rather than peace; and in the value set by them upon military
stratagems and contrivances, and in the waging of everlasting
wars--this State will be for the most part peculiar.


  Yes, I said; and men of this stamp will be covetous of money,
like those who live in oligarchies; they will have a fierce secret
longing after gold and silver, which they will hoard in dark
places, having magazines and treasuries of their own for the de-
posit and concealment of them; also castles which are just
nests for their eggs, and in which they will spend large sums
on their wives, or on any others whom they please.

  That is most true, he said.

  And they are miserly because they have no means of openly
acquiring the money which they prize; they will spend that
which is another man's on the gratification of their desires,
stealing their pleasures and running away like children from
the law, their father: they have been schooled not by gentle
influences but by force, for they have neglected her who is the
true muse, the companion of reason and philosophy, and have
honored gymnastics more than music.

  Undoubtedly, he said, the form of government which you
describe is a mixture of good and evil.

  Why, there is a mixture, I said; but one thing, and one thing
only, is predominantly seen--the spirit of contention and am-
bition; and these are due to the prevalence of the passionate or
spirited element.

  Assuredly, he said.

  Such is the origin and such the character of this State, which
has been described in outline only; the more perfect execution
was not required, for a sketch is enough to show the type of
the most perfectly just and most perfectly unjust; and to go
through all the States and all the characters of men, omitting
none of them, would be an interminable labor.

  Very true, he replied.

  Now what man answers to this form of government--how
did he come into being, and what is he like?

  I think, said Adeimantus, that in the spirit of contention
which characterizes him, he is not unlike our friend Glaucon.

  Perhaps, I said, he may be like him in that one point; but
there are other respects in which he is very different.

  In what respects?

  He should have more of self-assertion and be less cultivated
and yet a friend of culture; and he should be a good listener but
no speaker. Such a person is apt to be rough with slaves, un-
like the educated man, who is too proud for that; and he
will also be courteous to freemen, and remarkably obedient to
authority; he is a lover of power and a lover of honor; claiming
to be a ruler, not because he is eloquent, or on any ground of
that sort, but because he is a soldier and has performed feats of
arms; he is also a lover of gymnastic exercises and of the chase.

  Yes, that is the type of character that answers to timocracy.

  Such a one will despise riches only when he is young; but
as he gets older he will be more and more attracted to them,
because he has a piece of the avaricious nature in him, and is
not single-minded toward virtue, having lost his best guardian.

  Who was that? said Adeimantus.

  Philosophy, I said, tempered with music, who comes and
takes up her abode in a man, and is the only saviour of his vir-
tue throughout life.

  Good, he said.

  Such, I said, is the timocratical youth, and he is like the timo-
cratical State.


  His origin is as follows: He is often the young son of a
brave father, who dwells in an ill-governed city, of which he
declines the honors and offices, and will not go to law, or exert
himself in any way, but is ready to waive his rights in order
that he may escape trouble.

  And how does the son come into being?

  The character of the son begins to develop when he hears
his mother complaining that her husband has no place in the
government, of which the consequence is that she has no prece-
dence among other women. Further, when she sees her hus-
band not very eager about money, and instead of battling and
railing in the law courts or assembly, taking whatever happens
to him quietly; and when she observes that his thoughts always
centre in himself, while he treats her with very considerable
indifference, she is annoyed, and says to her son that his father
is only half a man and far too easy-going: adding all the other
complaints about her own ill-treatment which women are so
fond of rehearsing.

  Yes, said Adeimantus, they give us plenty of them, and their
complaints are so like themselves.

  And you know, I said, that the old servants also, who are
supposed to be attached to the family, from time to time talk
privately in the same strain to the son; and if they see anyone
who owes money to his father, or is wronging him in any way,
and he fails to prosecute them, they tell the youth that when
he grows up he must retaliate upon people of this sort, and be
more of a man than his father. He has only to walk abroad
and he hears and sees the same sort of thing: those who do their
own business in the city are called simpletons, and held in no
esteem, while the busy-bodies are honored and applauded. The
result is that the young man, hearing and seeing all these things
--hearing, too, the words of his father, and having a nearer
view of his way of life, and making comparisons of him and
others--is drawn opposite ways: while his father is watering
and nourishing the rational principle in his soul, the others are
encouraging the passionate and appetitive; and he being not
originally of a bad nature, but having kept bad company, is at
last brought by their joint influence to a middle point, and gives
up the kingdom which is within him to the middle principle of
contentiousness and passion, and becomes arrogant and ambi-

  You seem to me to have described his origin perfectly.

  Then we have now, I said, the second form of government
and the second type of character?

  We have.

  Next, let us look at another man who, as AEschylus says,

  "Is set over against another State;"

or rather, as our plan requires, begin with the State.

  By all means.

  I believe that oligarchy follows next in order.

  And what manner of government do you term oligarchy?

  A government resting on a valuation of property, in which
the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it.

  I understand, he replied.

  Ought I not to begin by describing how the change from
timocracy to oligarchy arises?


  Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one
passes into the other.


  The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individ-
uals is the ruin of timocracy; they invent illegal modes of ex-
penditure; for what do they or their wives care about the law?

  Yes, indeed.

  And then one, seeing another grow rich, seeks to rival him,
and thus the great mass of the citizens become lovers of money.

  Likely enough.

  And so they grow richer and richer, and the more they think
of making a fortune the less they think of virtue; for when
riches and virtue are placed together in the scales of the balance
the one always rises as the other falls.


  And in proportion as riches and rich men are honored in the
State, virtue and the virtuous are dishonored.


  And what is honored is cultivated, and that which has no
honor is neglected.

  That is obvious.

  And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men
become lovers of trade and money; they honor and look up to
the rich man, and make a ruler of him, and dishonor the poor

  They do so.

  They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money
as the qualification of citizenship; the sum is higher in one
place and lower in another, as the oligarchy is more or less ex-
clusive; and they allow no one whose property falls below the
amount fixed to have any share in the government. These
changes in the constitution they effect by force of arms, if in-
timidation has not already done their work.

  Very true.

  And this, speaking generally, is the way in which oligarchy
is established.

  Yes, he said; but what are the characteristics of this form of
government, and what are the defects of which we were

  First of all, I said, consider the nature of the qualification
Just think what would happen if pilots were to be chosen ac-
cording to their property, and a poor man were refused permis-
sion to steer, even though he were a better pilot?

  You mean that they would shipwreck?

  Yes; and is not this true of the government of anything?

  I should imagine so.

  Except a city?--or would you include a city?

  Nay, he said, the case of a city is the strongest of all, inas-
much as the rule of a city is the greatest and most difficult
of all.

  This, then, will be the first great defect of oligarchy?


  And here is another defect which is quite as bad.

  What defect?

  The inevitable division: such a State is not one, but two
States, the one of poor, the other of rich men; and they are
living on the same spot and always conspiring against one

  That, surely, is at least as bad.

  Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they
are incapable of carrying on any war. Either they arm the
multitude, and then they are more afraid of them than of the
enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hour of battle,
they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule.
And at the same time their fondness for money makes them
unwilling to pay taxes.

  How discreditable!

  And, as we said before, under such a constitution the same
persons have too many callings--they are husbandmen, trades-
men, warriors, all in one. Does that look well?

  Anything but well.

  There is another evil which is, perhaps, the greatest of all,
and to which this State first begins to be liable.

  What evil?

  A man may sell all that he has, and another may acquire his
property; yet after the sale he may dwell in the city of which he
is no longer a part, being neither trader, nor artisan, nor horse-
man, nor hoplite, but only a poor, helpless creature.

  Yes, that is an evil which also first begins in this State.

  The evil is certainly not prevented there; for oligarchies have
both the extremes of great wealth and utter poverty.


  But think again: In his wealthy days, while he was spending
his money, was a man of this sort a whit more good to the State
for the purposes of citizenship? Or did he only seem to be a
member of the ruling body, although in truth he was neither
ruler nor subject, but just a spendthrift?

  As you say, he seemed to be a ruler, but was only a spend-

  May we not say that this is the drone in the house who is
like the drone in the honeycomb, and that the one is the plague
of the city as the other is of the hive?

  Just so, Socrates.

  And God has made the flying drones, Adeimantus, all with-
out stings, whereas of the walking drones he has made some
without stings, but others have dreadful stings; of the stingless
class are those who in their old age end as paupers; of the
stingers come all the criminal class, as they are termed.

  Most true, he said.

  Clearly then, whenever you see paupers in a State, some-
where in that neighborhood there are hidden away thieves and
cut-purses and robbers of temples, and all sorts of malefactors.


  Well, I said, and in oligarchical States do you not find

  Yes, he said; nearly everybody is a pauper who is not a

  And may we be so bold as to affirm that there are also many
criminals to be found in them, rogues who have stings, and
whom the authorities are careful to restrain by force?

  Certainly, we may be so bold.

  The existence of such persons is to be attributed to want of
education, ill-training, and an evil constitution of the State?


  Such, then, is the form and such are the evils of oligarchy;
and there may be many other evils.

  Very likely.

  Then oligarchy, or the form of government in which the
rulers are elected for their wealth, may now be dismissed. Let
us next proceed to consider the nature and origin of the indi-
vidual who answers to this State.

  By all means.

  Does not the timocratical man change into the oligarchical on
this wise?


  A time arrives when the representative of timocracy has a
son: at first he begins by emulating his father and walking in
his footsteps, but presently he sees him of a sudden foundering
against the State as upon a sunken reef, and he and all that he
has are lost; he may have been a general or some other high
officer who is brought to trial under a prejudice raised by in-
formers, and either put to death or exiled or deprived of the
privileges of a citizen, and all his property taken from him.

  Nothing more likely.

  And the son has seen and known all this--he is a ruined man,
and his fear has taught him to knock ambition and passion head-
foremost from his bosom's throne; humbled by poverty he takes
to money-making, and by mean and miserly savings and hard
work gets a fortune together. Is not such a one likely to seat
the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne and
to suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and
chain and scimitar?

  Most true, he replied.

  And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the
ground obediently on either side of their sovereign, and taught
them to know their place, he compels the one to think only of
how lesser sums may be turned into larger ones, and will not
allow the other to worship and admire anything but riches and
rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the acquisi-
tion of wealth and the means of acquiring it.

  Of all changes, he said, there is none so speedy or so sure as
the conversion of the ambitious youth into the avaricious one.

  And the avaricious, I said, is the oligarchical youth?

  Yes, he said; at any rate the individual out of whom he came
is like the State out of which oligarchy came.

  Let us then consider whether there is any likeness between

  Very good.

  First, then, they resemble one another in the value which they
set upon wealth?


  Also in their penurious, laborious character; the individual
only satisfies his necessary appetites, and confines his expendi-
ture to them; his other desires he subdues, under the idea that
they are unprofitable.


  He is a shabby fellow, who saves something out of everything
and makes a purse for himself; and this is the sort of man
whom the vulgar applaud. Is he not a true image of the State
which he represents?

  He appears to me to be so; at any rate money is highly
valued by him as well as by the State.

  You see that he is not a man of cultivation, I said.

  I imagine not, he said; had he been educated he would never
have made a blind god director of his chorus, or given him chief

  Excellent! I said. Yet consider: Must we not further admit
that owing to this want of cultivation there will be found in him
drone-like desires as of pauper and rogue, which are forcibly
kept down by his general habit of life?


  Do you know where you will have to look if you want to
discover his rogueries?

  Where must I look?

  You should see him where he has some great opportunity of
acting dishonestly, as in the guardianship of an orphan.


  It will be clear enough then that in his ordinary dealings
which give him a reputation for honesty, he coerces his bad
passions by an enforced virtue; not making them see that they
are wrong, or taming them by reason, but by necessity and
fear constraining them, and because he trembles for his pos-

  To be sure.

  Yes, indeed, my dear friend, but you will find that the natu-
ral desires of the drone commonly exist in him all the same
whenever he has to spend what is not his own.

  Yes, and they will be strong in him, too.

  The man, then, will be at war with himself; he will be two
men, and not one; but, in general, his better desires will be
found to prevail over his inferior ones.


  For these reasons such a one will be more respectable than
most people; yet the true virtue of a unanimous and harmonious
soul will flee far away and never come near him.

  I should expect so.

  And surely the miser individually will be an ignoble com-
petitor in a State for any prize of victory, or other object of
honorable ambition; he will not spend his money in the contest
for glory; so afraid is he of awakening his expensive appetites
and inviting them to help and join in the struggle; in true oli-
garchical fashion he fights with a small part only of his re-
sources, and the result commonly is that he loses the prize and
saves his money.

  Very true.

  Can we any longer doubt, then, that the miser and money-
maker answers to the oligarchical State?

  There can be no doubt.

  Next comes democracy; of this the origin and nature have
still to be considered by us; and then we will inquire into the
ways of the democratic man, and bring him up for judgment.

  That, he said, is our method.

  Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into
democracy arise? Is it not on this wise: the good at which
such a State aims is to become as rich as possible, a desire which
is insatiable?

  What then?

  The rulers being aware that their power rests upon their
wealth, refuse to curtail by law the extravagance of the spend-
thrift youth because they gain by their ruin; they take interest
from them and buy up their estates and thus increase their own
wealth and importance?

  To be sure.

  There can be no doubt that the love of wealth and the spirit
of moderation cannot exist together in citizens of the same
State to any considerable extent; one or the other will be disre-

  That is tolerably clear.

  And in oligarchical States, from the general spread of care-
lessness and extravagance, men of good family have often been
reduced to beggary?

  Yes, often.

  And still they remain in the city; there they are, ready to
sting and fully armed, and some of them owe money, some have
forfeited their citizenship; a third class are in both predica-
ments; and they hate and conspire against those who have got
their property, and against everybody else, and are eager for

  That is true.

  On the other hand, the men of business, stooping as they
walk, and pretending not even to see those whom they have
already ruined, insert their sting--that is, their money--into
someone else who is not on his guard against them, and recover
the parent sum many times over multiplied into a family of chil-
dren: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in the

  Yes, he said, there are plenty of them--that is certain.

  The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it
either by restricting a man's use of his own property, or by
another remedy.

  What other?

  One which is the next best, and has the advantage of com-
pelling the citizens to look to their characters: Let there be a
general rule that everyone shall enter into voluntary contracts
at his own risk, and there will be less of this scandalous money-
making, and the evils of which we were speaking will be greatly
lessened in the State.

  Yes, they will be greatly lessened.

  At present the governors, induced by the motives which I
have named, treat their subjects badly; while they and their
adherents, especially the young men of the governing class, are
habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness both of body and
mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting either
pleasure or pain.

  Very true.

  They themselves care only for making money, and are as
indifferent as the pauper to the cultivation of virtue.

  Yes, quite as indifferent.

  Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And
often rulers and their subjects may come in one another's way,
whether on a journey or on some other occasion of meeting,
on a pilgrimage or a march, as fellow-soldiers or fellow-
sailors; aye, and they may observe the behavior of each other
in the very moment of danger--for where danger is, there is
no fear that the poor will be despised by the rich--and very
likely the wiry, sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle
at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt his com-
plexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh--when he sees such
a one puffing and at his wits'-end, how can he avoid drawing
the conclusion that men like him are only rich because no one
has the courage to despoil them? And when they meet in
private will not people be saying to one another, "Our war-
riors are not good for much"?

  Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of

  And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch
from without may bring on illness, and sometimes even when
there is no external provocation, a commotion may arise with-
in--in the same way wherever there is weakness in the State
there is also likely to be illness, of which the occasion may
be very slight, the one party introducing from without their
oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the
State falls sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at
times distracted, even when there is no external cause.

  Yes, surely.

  And then democracy comes into being after the poor have
conquered their opponents, slaughtering some and banishing
some, while to the remainder they give an equal share of free-
dom and power; and this is the form of government in which
the magistrates are commonly elected by lot.

  Yes, he said, that is the nature of democracy, whether the
revolution has been effected by arms, or whether fear has
caused the opposite party to withdraw.

  And now what is their manner of life, and what sort of a
government have they? for as the government is, such will
be the man.

  Clearly, he said.

  In the first place, are they not free; and is not the city full
of freedom and frankness--a man may say and do what he

  'Tis said so, he replied.

  And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to
order for himself his own life as he pleases?


  Then in this kind of State there will be the greatest variety
of human natures?

  There will.

  This, then, seems likely to be the fairest of States, being
like an embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort
of flower. And just as women and children think a variety
of colors to be of all things most charming, so there are many
men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners
and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of


  Yes, my good sir, and there will be no better in which to
look for a government.


  Because of the liberty which reigns there--they have a com-
plete assortment of constitutions; and he who has a mind to
establish a State, as we have been doing, must go to a democ-
racy as he would to a bazaar at which they sell them, and
pick out the one that suits him; then, when he has made his
choice, he may found his State.

  He will be sure to have patterns enough.

  And there being no necessity, I said, for you to govern in
this State, even if you have the capacity, or to be governed,
unless you like, or to go to war when the rest go to war, or
to be at peace when others are at peace, unless you are so
disposed--there being no necessity also, because some law for-
bids you to hold office or be a dicast, that you should not hold
office or be a dicast, if you have a fancy--is not this a way
of life which for the moment is supremely delightful?

  For the moment, yes.

  And is not their humanity to the condemned in some cases
quite charming? Have you not observed how, in a democracy,
many persons, although they have been sentenced to death or
exile, just stay where they are and walk about the world--
the gentleman parades like a hero, and nobody sees or cares?

  Yes, he replied, many and many a one.
See, too, I said, the forgiving spirit of democracy, and the
"don't care" about trifles, and the disregard which she shows
of all the fine principles which we solemnly laid down at the
foundation of the city--as when we said that, except in the
case of some rarely gifted nature, there never will be a good
man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid
things of beauty and make of them a joy and a study--how
grandly does she trample all these fine notions of ours under
her feet, never giving a thought to the pursuits which make
a statesman, and promoting to honor anyone who professes
to be the people's friend.

  Yes, she is of a noble spirit.

  These and other kindred characteristics are proper to
democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of
variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals
and unequals alike.

  We know her well.

  Consider now, I said, what manner of man the individual
is, or rather consider, as in the case of the State, how he
comes into being.

  Very good, he said.

  Is not this the way--he is the son of the miserly and oli-
garchical father who has trained him in his own habits?


  And, like his father, he keeps under by force the pleasures
which are of the spending and not of the getting sort, being
those which are called unnecessary?


  Would you like, for the sake of clearness, to distinguish
which are the necessary and which are the unnecessary pleas-

  I should.

  Are not necessary pleasures those of which we cannot get
rid, and of which the satisfaction is a benefit to us? And
they are rightly called so, because we are framed by nature
to desire both what is beneficial and what is necessary, and
cannot help it.


  We are not wrong therefore in calling them necessary?

  We are not.

  And the desires of which a man may get rid, if he takes
pains from his youth upward--of which the presence, more-
over, does no good, and in some cases the reverse of good--
shall we not be right in saying that all these are unnecessary?

  Yes, certainly.

  Suppose we select an example of either kind, in order that
we may have a general notion of them?

  Very good.

  Will not the desire of eating, that is, of simple food and con-
diments, in so far as they are required for health and strength,
be of the necessary class?

  That is what I should suppose.

  The pleasure of eating is necessary in two ways; it does
us good and it is essential to the continuance of life?


  But the condiments are only necessary in so far as they
are good for health?


  And the desire which goes beyond this, of more delicate
food, or other luxuries, which might generally be got rid of,
if controlled and trained in youth, and is hurtful to the body,
and hurtful to the soul in the pursuit of wisdom and virtue,
may be rightly called unnecessary?

  Very true.

  May we not say that these desires spend, and that the
others make money because they conduce to production?


  And of the pleasures of love, and all other pleasures, the
same holds good?


  And the drone of whom we spoke was he who was sur-
feited in pleasures and desires of this sort, and was the slave
of the unnecessary desires, whereas he who was subject to
the necessary only was miserly and oligarchical?

  Very true.

  Again, let us see how the democratical man goes out of
the oligarchical: the following, as I suspect, is commonly the

  What is the process?

  When a young man who has been brought up as we were
just now describing, in a vulgar and miserly way, has tasted
drones' honey and has come to associate with fierce and crafty
natures who are able to provide for him all sorts of refine-
ments and varieties of pleasure--then, as you may imagine,
the change will begin of the oligarchical principle within him
into the democratical?


  And as in the city like was helping like, and the change
was effected by an alliance from without assisting one division
of the citizens, so too the young man is changed by a class
of desires coming from without to assist the desires within
him, that which is akin and alike again helping that which
is akin and alike?


  And if there be any ally which aids the oligarchical prin-
ciple within him, whether the influence of a father or of kin-
dred, advising or rebuking him, then there arise in his soul
a faction and an opposite faction, and he goes to war with

  It must be so.

  And there are times when the democratical principle gives
way to the oligarchical, and some of his desires die, and others
are banished; a spirit of reverence enters into the young man's
soul, and order is restored.

  Yes, he said, that sometimes happens.

  And then, again, after the old desires have been driven out,
fresh ones spring up, which are akin to them, and because he
their father does not know how to educate them, wax fierce
and numerous.

  Yes, he said, that is apt to be the way.

  They draw him to his old associates, and holding secret in-
tercourse with them, breed and multiply in him.

  Very true.

  At length they seize upon the citadel of the young man's
soul, which they perceive to be void of all accomplishments
and fair pursuits and true words, which make their abode in
the minds of men who are dear to the gods, and are their best
guardians and sentinels.

  None better.

  False and boastful conceits and phrases mount upward and
take their place.

  They are certain to do so.

  And so the young man returns into the country of the lotus-
eaters, and takes up his dwelling there, in the face of all men;
and if any help be sent by his friends to the oligarchical part
of him, the aforesaid vain conceits shut the gate of the King's
fastness; and they will neither allow the embassy itself to
enter, nor if private advisers offer the fatherly counsel of the
aged will they listen to them or receive them. There is a bat-
tle and they gain the day, and then modesty, which they call
silliness, is ignominiously thrust into exile by them, and
temperance, which they nick-name unmanliness, is trampled in
the mire and cast forth; they persuade men that moderation
and orderly expenditure are vulgarity and meanness, and so,
by the help of a rabble of evil appetites, they drive them be-
yond the border.

  Yes, with a will.

  And when they have emptied and swept clean the soul of
him who is now in their power and who is being initiated by
them in great mysteries, the next thing is to bring back to their
house insolence and anarchy and waste and impudence in
bright array, having garlands on their heads, and a great com-
pany with them, hymning their praises and calling them by
sweet names; insolence they term "breeding," and anarchy
"liberty," and waste "magnificence," and impudence "cour-
age." And so the young man passes out of his original nature,
which was trained in the school of necessity, into the freedom
and libertinism of useless and unnecessary pleasures.

  Yes, he said, the change in him is visible enough.

  After this he lives on, spending his money and labor and
time on unnecessary pleasures quite as much as on necessary
ones; but if he be fortunate, and is not too much disordered
in his wits, when years have elapsed, and the heyday of pas-
sion is over--supposing that he then readmits into the city
some part of the exiled virtues, and does not wholly give him-
self up to their successors--in that case he balances his pleas-
ures and lives in a sort of equilibrium, putting the govern-
ment of himself into the hands of the one which comes first
and wins the turn; and when he has had enough of that, then
into the hands of another; he despises none of them, but
encourages them all equally.

  Very true, he said.

  Neither does he receive or let pass into the fortress any true
word of advice; if anyone says to him that some pleasures
are the satisfactions of good and noble desires, and others of
evil desires, and that he ought to use and honor some, and
chastise and master the others--whenever this is repeated to
him he shakes his head and says that they are all alike, and
that one is as good as another.

  Yes, he said; that is the way with him.

  Yes, I said, he lives from day to day indulging the appetite
of the hour; and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains
of the flute; then he becomes a water-drinker, and tries to
get thin; then he takes a turn at gymnastics; sometimes
idling and neglecting everything, then once more living the
life of a philosopher; often he is busy with politics, and starts
to his feet and says and does whatever comes into his head;
and, if he is emulous of anyone who is a warrior, off he is
in that direction, or of men of business, once more in that.
His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted exist-
ence he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he goes on.

  Yes, he replied, he is all liberty and equality.

  Yes, I said; his life is motley and manifold and an epitome
of the lives of many; he answers to the State which we de-
scribed as fair and spangled. And many a man and many
a woman will take him for their pattern, and many a con-
stitution and many an example of manners are contained in him.

  Just so.

  Let him then be set over against democracy; he may truly
be called the democratic man.

  Let that be his place, he said.

  Last of all comes the most beautiful of all, man and State
alike, tyranny and the tyrant; these we have now to consider.

  Quite true, he said.

  Say then, my friend, in what manner does tyranny arise?
--that it has a democratic origin is evident.


  And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same
manner as democracy from oligarchy--I mean, after a sort?


  The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means
by which it was maintained was excess of wealth--am I not


  And the insatiable desire of wealth and the neglect of all
other things for the sake of money-getting were also the ruin
of oligarchy?


  And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable
desire brings her to dissolution?

  What good?

  Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy,
is the glory of the State--and that therefore in a democracy
alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

  Yes; the saying is in everybody's mouth.

  I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this
and the neglect of other things introduce the change in democ-
racy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

  How so?

  When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil
cup-bearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply
of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very
amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to ac-
count and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oli-

  Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.

  Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by
her "slaves" who hug their chains, and men of naught; she
would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are
like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she
praises and honors both in private and public. Now, in such
a State, can liberty have any limit?

  Certainly not.

  By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and
ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

  How do you mean?

  I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to
the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level
with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either
of his parents; and this is his freedom; and the metic is equal
with the citizen, and the citizen with the metic, and the
stranger is quite as good as either.

  Yes, he said, that is the way.

  And these are not the only evils, I said--there are several
lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and
flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters
and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man
is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him
in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and
are full of pleasantry and gayety; they are loth to be thought
morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the man-
ners of the young.

  Quite true, he said.

  The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought
with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his
or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and
equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

  Why not, as AEschylus says, utter the word which rises to
our lips?

  That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that
no one who does not know would believe how much greater
is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion
of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for,
truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their
she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of march-
ing along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and
they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does
not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just
ready to burst with liberty.

  When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience
what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.

  And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sen-
sitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least
touch of authority, and at length, as you know, they cease
to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will
have no one over them.

  Yes, he said, I know it too well.

  Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning
out of which springs tyranny.

  Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?

  The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same
disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democ-
racy--the truth being that the excessive increase of anything
often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is
the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal
life, but above all in forms of government.


  The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals,
seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

  Yes, the natural order.

  And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the
most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most
extreme form of liberty?

  As we might expect.

  That, however, was not, as I believe, your question--you
rather desired to know what is that disorder which is gen-
erated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of

  Just so, he replied.

  Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spend-
thrifts, of whom the more courageous are the leaders and the
more timid the followers, the same whom we were compar-
ing to drones, some stingless, and others having stings.

  A very just comparison.

  These two classes are the plagues of every city in which
they are generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the
body. And the good physician and lawgiver of the State
ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance and
prevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and if they have
anyhow found a way in, then he should have them and their
cells cut out as speedily as possible.

  Yes, by all means, he said.

  Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing,
let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into
three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more
drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical

  That is true.

  And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.

  How so?

  Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and
driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather
strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the en-
tire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act,
the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word
to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost
everything is managed by the drones.

  Very true, he said.

  Then there is another class which is always being severed
from the mass.

  What is that?

  They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders is
sure to be the richest.

  Naturally so.

  They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest
amount of honey to the drones.

  Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people
who have little.

  And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed
upon them.

  That is pretty much the case, he said.

  The people are a third class, consisting of those who work
with their own hands; they are not politicians, and have not
much to live upon. This, when assembled, is the largest and
most powerful class in a democracy.

  True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to
congregate unless they get a little honey.

  And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders de-
prive the rich of their estates and distribute them among the
people; at the same time taking care to reserve the larger
part for themselves?

  Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.

  And the persons whose property is taken from them are
compelled to defend themselves before the people as they best

  What else can they do?

  And then, although they may have no desire of change, the
others charge them with plotting against the people and being
friends of oligarchy?

  And the end is that when they see the people, not of their
own accord, but through ignorance, and because they are de-
ceived by informers, seeking to do them wrong, then at last
they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; they do not
wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and
breeds revolution in them.

  That is exactly the truth.

  Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one


  The people have always some champion whom they set over
them and nurse into greatness.

  Yes, that is their way.
This, and no other, is the root from which a tyrant springs;
when he first appears above ground he is a protector.

  Yes, that is quite clear.
How, then, does a protector begin to change into a tyrant?
Clearly when he does what the man is said to do in the tale
of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean Zeus.

  What tale?

  The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single
human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is
destined to become a wolf. Did you never hear it?

  Oh, yes.

  And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob
entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the
blood of kinsmen; by the favorite method of false accusa-
tion he brings them into court and murders them, making the
life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips
tasting the blood of his fellow-citizens; some he kills and
others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition
of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be
his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his
enemies, or from being a man become a wolf--that is, a tyrant?


  This, I said, is he who begins to make a party against the

  The same.

  After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of
his enemies, a tyrant full grown.

  That is clear.

  And if they are unable to expel him, or to get him con-
demned to death by a public accusation, they conspire to assas-
sinate him.

  Yes, he said, that is their usual way.

  Then comes the famous request for a body-guard, which
is the device of all those who have got thus far in their tyran-
nical career--"Let not the people's friend," as they say, "be
lost to them."


  The people readily assent; all their fears are for him--they
have none for themselves.

  Very true.

  And when a man who is wealthy and is also accused of
being an enemy of the people sees this, then, my friend, as
the oracle said to Croesus,

  "By pebbly Hermus's shore he flees and rests not, and is not
   ashamed to be a coward."

  And quite right too, said he, for if he were, he would never
be ashamed again.

  But if he is caught he dies.

  Of course.

  And he, the protector of whom we spoke, is to be seen, not
"larding the plain" with his bulk, but himself the overthrower
of many, standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in
his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.

  No doubt, he said.

  And now let us consider the happiness of the man, and
also of the State in which a creature like him is generated.

  Yes, he said, let us consider that.

  At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles,
and he salutes everyone whom he meets; he to be called a
tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private!
liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his
followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to everyone!

  Of course, he said.

  But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest
or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he
is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the
people may require a leader.

  To be sure.

  Has he not also another object, which is that they may be
impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to de-
vote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely
to conspire against him?

  And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions
of freedom, and of resistance to his authority, he will have
a good pretext for destroying them by placing them at the
mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrant
must be always getting up a war.

  He must.

  Now he begins to grow unpopular.

  A necessary result.

  Then some of those who joined in setting him up, and who
are in power, speak their minds to him and to one another,
and the more courageous of them cast in his teeth what is
being done.

  Yes, that may be expected.

  And the tyrant, if he means to rule, must get rid of them;
he cannot stop while he has a friend or an enemy who is
good for anything.

  He cannot.

  And therefore he must look about him and see who is val-
iant, who is high-minded, who is wise, who is wealthy; happy
man, he is the enemy of them all, and must seek occasion
against them whether he will or no, until he has made a pur-
gation of the State.

  Yes, he said, and a rare purgation.

  Yes, I said, not the sort of purgation which the physicians
make of the body; for they take away the worse and leave
the better part, but he does the reverse.

  If he is to rule, I suppose that he cannot help himself.

  What a blessed alternative, I said: to be compelled to
dwell only with the many bad, and to be by them hated, or
not to live at all!

  Yes, that is the alternative.

  And the more detestable his actions are to the citizens the
more satellites and the greater devotion in them will he re-


  And who are the devoted band, and where will he procure

  They will flock to him, he said, of their own accord, if he
pays them.

  By the dog! I said, here are more drones, of every sort
and from every land.

  Yes, he said, there are.

  But will he not desire to get them on the spot?

  How do you mean?

  He will rob the citizens of their slaves; he will then set
them free and enrol them in his body-guard.

  To be sure, he said; and he will be able to trust them best
of all.

  What a blessed creature, I said, must this tyrant be; he
has put to death the others and has these for his trusted friends.

  Yes, he said; they are quite of his sort.

  Yes, I said, and these are the new citizens whom he has
called into existence, who admire him and are his companions,
while the good hate and avoid him.

  Of course.

  Verily, then, tragedy is a wise thing and Euripides a great

  Why so?

  Why, because he is the author of the pregnant saying,

  "Tyrants are wise by living with the wise;"

and he clearly meant to say that they are the wise whom the
tyrant makes his companions.

  Yes, he said, and he also praises tyranny as godlike; and
many other things of the same kind are said by him and by
the other poets.

  And therefore, I said, the tragic poets being wise men will
forgive us and any others who live after our manner, if we
do not receive them into our State, because they are the eulo-
gists of tyranny.

  Yes, he said, those who have the wit will doubtless forgive

  But they will continue to go to other cities and attract mobs,
and hire voices fair and loud and persuasive, and draw the
cities over to tyrannies and democracies.

  Very true.

  Moreover, they are paid for this and receive honor--the
greatest honor, as might be expected, from tyrants, and the
next greatest from democracies; but the higher they ascend
our constitution hill, the more their reputation fails, and seems
unable from shortness of breath to proceed farther.


  But we are wandering from the subject: Let us therefore
return and inquire how the tyrant will maintain that fair,
and numerous, and various, and ever-changing army of his.

  If, he said, there are sacred treasures in the city, he will
confiscate and spend them; and in so far as the fortunes of
attainted persons may suffice, he will be able to diminish the
taxes which he would otherwise have to impose upon the

  And when these fail?

  Why, clearly, he said, then he and his boon companions,
whether male or female, will be maintained out of his father's

  You mean to say that the people, from whom he has de-
rived his being, will maintain him and his companions?

  Yes, he said; they cannot help themselves.

  But what if the people fly into a passion, and aver that a
grown-up son ought not to be supported by his father, but
that the father should be supported by the son? The father
did not bring him into being, or settle him in life, in order
that when his son became a man he should himself be the ser-
vant of his own servants and should support him and his rab-
ble of slaves and companions; but that his son should pro-
tect him, and that by his help he might be emancipated from
the government of the rich and aristocratic, as they are termed.
And so he bids him and his companions depart, just as any
other father might drive out of the house a riotous son and
his undesirable associates.

  By heaven, he said, then the parent will discover what a
monster he has been fostering in his bosom; and, when he
wants to drive him out, he will find that he is weak and his
son strong.

  Why, you do not mean to say that the tyrant will use vio-
lence? What! beat his father if he opposes him?

  Yes, he will, having first disarmed him.

  Then he is a parricide, and a cruel guardian of an aged
parent; and this is real tyranny, about which there can be
no longer a mistake: as the saying is, the people who would
escape the smoke which is the slavery of freemen, has fallen
into the fire which is the tyranny of slaves. Thus liberty,
getting out of all order and reason, passes into the harshest
and bitterest form of slavery.

  True, he said.

  Very well; and may we not rightly say that we have suffi-
ciently discussed the nature of tyranny, and the manner of
the transition from democracy to tyranny?

  Yes, quite enough, he said.

                       BOOK IX
                  PLEASURES OF EACH


  LAST of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we
have once more to ask, how is he formed out of the
democratical? and how does he live, in happiness or
in misery?

  Yes, he said, he is the only one remaining.

  There is, however, I said, a previous question which re-
mains unanswered.

  What question?

  I do not think that we have adequately determined the nat-
ure and number of the appetites, and until this is accom-
plished the inquiry will always be confused.

  Well, he said, it is not too late to supply the omission.

  Very true, I said; and observe the point which I want to
understand: Certain of the unnecessary pleasures and appe-
tites I conceive to be unlawful; everyone appears to have
them, but in some persons they are controlled by the laws
and by reason, and the better desires prevail over them--
either they are wholly banished or they become few and weak;
while in the case of others they are stronger, and there are
more of them.

  Which appetites do you mean?

  I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and hu-
man and ruling power is asleep; then the wild beast within
us, gorged with meat or drink, starts up and, having shaken
off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no
conceivable folly or crime--not excepting incest or any other
unnatural union, or parricide, or the eating of forbidden food
--which at such a time, when he has parted company with
all shame and sense, a man may not be ready to commit.

  Most true, he said.

  But when a man's pulse is healthy and temperate, and when
before going to sleep he has awakened his rational powers, and
fed them on noble thoughts and inquiries, collecting himself
in meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither
too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep,
and prevent them and their enjoyments and pains from in-
terfering with the higher principle--which he leaves in the soli-
tude of pure abstraction, free to contemplate and aspire to the
knowledge of the unknown, whether in past, present, or future:
when again he has allayed the passionate element, if he has
a quarrel against anyone--I say, when, after pacifying the
two irrational principles, he rouses up the third, which is rea-
son, before he takes his rest, then, as you know, he attains
truth most nearly, and is least likely to be the sport of fan-
tastic and lawless visions.

  I quite agree.

  In saying this I have been running into a digression; but
the point which I desire to note is that in all of us, even in
good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers
out in sleep. Pray, consider whether I am right, and you
agree with me.

  Yes, I agree.

  And now remember the character which we attributed to
the democratic man. He was supposed from his youth up-
ward to have been trained under a miserly parent, who en-
couraged the saving appetites in him, but discountenanced the
unnecessary, which aim only at amusement and ornament?


  And then he got into the company of a more refined, licen-
tious sort of people, and taking to all their wanton ways
rushed into the opposite extreme from an abhorrence of his
father's meanness. At last, being a better man than his cor-
ruptors, he was drawn in both directions until he halted mid-
way and led a life, not of vulgar and slavish passion, but of
what he deemed moderate indulgence in various pleasures.
After this manner the democrat was generated out of the

  Yes, he said; that was our view of him, and is so still.

  And now, I said, years will have passed away, and you
must conceive this man, such as he is, to have a son, who is
brought up in his father's principles.

  I can imagine him.

  Then you must further imagine the same thing to happen
to the son which has already happened to the father: he is
drawn into a perfectly lawless life, which by his seducers is
termed perfect liberty; and his father and friends take part
with his moderate desires, and the opposite party assist the
opposite ones. As soon as these dire magicians and tyrant-
makers find that they are losing their hold on him, they con-
trive to implant in him a master-passion, to be lord over his
idle and spendthrift lusts--a sort of monstrous winged drone
--that is the only image which will adequately describe him.

  Yes, he said, that is the only adequate image of him.

  And when his other lusts, amid clouds of incense and per-
fumes and garlands and wines, and all the pleasures of a dis-
solute life, now let loose, come buzzing around him, nourish-
ing to the utmost the sting of desire which they implant in
his drone-like nature, then at last this lord of the soul, hav-
ing Madness for the captain of his guard, breaks out into a
frenzy; and if he finds in himself any good opinions or appe-
tites in process of formation, and there is in him any sense
of shame remaining, to these better principles he puts an end,
and casts them forth until he has purged away temperance and
brought in madness to the full.

  Yes, he said, that is the way in which the tyrannical man
is generated.

  And is not this the reason why, of old, love has been called
a tyrant?

  I should not wonder.

  Further, I said, has not a drunken man also the spirit of
a tyrant?

  He has.

  And you know that a man who is deranged, and not right
in his mind, will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over
men, but also over the gods?

  That he will.

  And the tyrannical man in the true sense of the word comes
into being when, either under the influence of nature or
habit, or both, he becomes drunken, lustful, passionate? O
my friend, is not that so?


  Such is the man and such is his origin. And next, how
does he live?

  Suppose, as people facetiously say, you were to tell me.

  I imagine, I said, at the next step in his progress, that there
will be feasts and carousals and revellings and courtesans, and
all that sort of thing; Love is the lord of the house within
him, and orders all the concerns of his soul.

  That is certain.

  Yes; and every day and every night desires grow up many
and formidable, and their demands are many.

  They are indeed, he said.

  His revenues, if he has any, are soon spent.


  Then come debt and the cutting down of his property.

  Of course.

  When he has nothing left, must not his desires, crowding
in the nest like young ravens, be crying aloud for food; and
he, goaded on by them, and especially by love himself, who
is in a manner the captain of them, is in a frenzy, and would
fain discover whom he can defraud or despoil of his property,
in order that he may gratify them?

  Yes, that is sure to be the case.

  He must have money, no matter how, if he is to escape
horrid pains and pangs.

  He must.

  And as in himself there was a succession of pleasures, and
the new got the better of the old and took away their rights,
so he being younger will claim to have more than his father
and his mother, and if he has spent his own share of the prop-
erty, he will take a slice of theirs.

  No doubt he will.

  And if his parents will not give way, then he will try first
of all to cheat and deceive them.

  Very true.

  And if he fails, then he will use force and plunder them.

  Yes, probably.

  And if the old man and woman fight for their own, what
then, my friend? Will the creature feel any compunction at
tyrannizing over them?

  Nay, he said, I should not feel at all comfortable about his

  But, O heavens! Adeimantus, on account of some new-
fangled love of a harlot, who is anything but a necessary con-
nection, can you believe that he would strike the mother who
is his ancient friend and necessary to his very existence, and
would place her under the authority of the other, when she
is brought under the same roof with her; or that, under like
circumstances, he would do the same to his withered old
father, first and most indispensable of friends, for the sake
of some newly found blooming youth who is the reverse of

  Yes, indeed, he said; I believe that he would.

  Truly, then, I said, a tyrannical son is a blessing to his
father and mother.

  He is indeed, he replied.

  He first takes their property, and when that fails, and
pleasures are beginning to swarm in the hive of his soul, then
he breaks into a house, or steals the garments of some nightly
wayfarer; next he proceeds to clear a temple. Meanwhile
the old opinions which he had when a child, and which gave
judgment about good and evil, are overthrown by those others
which have just been emancipated, and are now the body-
guard of love and share his empire. These in his democratic
days, when he was still subject to the laws and to his father,
were only let loose in the dreams of sleep. But now that
he is under the dominion of Love, he becomes always and in
waking reality what he was then very rarely and in a dream
only; he will commit the foulest murder, or eat forbidden
food, or be guilty of any other horrid act. Love is his tyrant,
and lives lordly in him and lawlessly, and being himself a
king, leads him on, as a tyrant leads a State, to the per-
formance of any reckless deed by which he can maintain him-
self and the rabble of his associates, whether those whom evil
communications have brought in from without, or those whom
he himself has allowed to break loose within him by reason
of a similar evil nature in himself. Have we not here a pict-
ure of his way of life?

  Yes, indeed, he said.

  And if there are only a few of them in the State, and the
rest of the people are well disposed, they go away and be-
come the body-guard of mercenary soldiers of some other
tyrant who may probably want them for a war; and if there
is no war, they stay at home and do many little pieces of mis-
chief in the city.

  What sort of mischief?

  For example, they are the thieves, burglars, cut-purses, foot-
pads, robbers of temples, man-stealers of the community; or
if they are able to speak, they turn informers and bear false
witness and take bribes.

  A small catalogue of evils, even if the perpetrators of them
are few in number.

  Yes, I said; but small and great are comparative terms,
and all these things, in the misery and evil which they inflict
upon a State, do not come within a thousand miles of the
tyrant; when this noxious class and their followers grow
numerous and become conscious of their strength, assisted by
the infatuation of the people, they choose from among them-
selves the one who has most of the tyrant in his own soul,
and him they create their tyrant.

  Yes, he said, and he will be the most fit to be a tyrant.

  If the people yield, well and good; but if they resist him,
as he began by beating his own father and mother, so now,
if he has the power, he beats them, and will keep his dear
old fatherland or motherland, as the Cretans say, in subjec-
tion to his young retainers whom he has introduced to be their
rulers and masters. This is the end of his passions and desires.


  When such men are only private individuals and before they
get power, this is their character; they associate entirely with
their own flatterers or ready tools; or if they want anything
from anybody, they in their turn are equally ready to bow
down before them: they profess every sort of affection for
them; but when they have gained their point they know them
no more.

  Yes, truly.

  They are always either the masters or servants and never
the friends of anybody; the tyrant never tastes of true free-
dom or friendship.

  Certainly not.

  And may we not rightly call such men treacherous?

  No question.

  Also they are utterly unjust, if we were right in our no-
tion of justice?

  Yes, he said, and we were perfectly right.

  Let us, then, sum up in a word, I said, the character of the
worst man: he is the waking reality of what we dreamed.

  Most true.

  And this is he who being by nature most of a tyrant bears
rule, and the longer he lives the more of a tyrant he becomes.

  That is certain, said Glaucon, taking his turn to answer.

  And will not he who has been shown to be the wickedest,
be also the most miserable? and he who has tyrannized long-
est and most, most continually and truly miserable; although
this may not be the opinion of men in general?

  Yes, he said, inevitably.

  And must not the tyrannical man be like the tyrannical
State, and the democratical man like the democratical State;
and the same of the others?


  And as State is to State in virtue and happiness, so is man
in relation to man?

  To be sure.

  Then comparing our original city, which was under a king,
and the city which is under a tyrant, how do they stand as to

  They are the opposite extremes, he said, for one is the very
best and the other is the very worst.

  There can be no mistake, I said, as to which is which, and
therefore I will at once inquire whether you would arrive at
a similar decision about their relative happiness and misery.
And here we must not allow ourselves to be panic-stricken at
the apparition of the tyrant, who is only a unit and may per-
haps have a few retainers about him; but let us go as we
ought into every corner of the city and look all about, and
then we will give our opinion.

  A fair invitation, he replied; and I see, as everyone must,
that a tyranny is the wretchedest form of government, and the
rule of a king the happiest.

  And in estimating the men, too, may I not fairly make a
like request, that I should have a judge whose mind can enter
into and see through human nature? he must not be like a
child who looks at the outside and is dazzled at the pompous
aspect which the tyrannical nature assumes to the beholder,
but let him be one who has a clear insight. May I suppose
that the judgment is given in the hearing of us all by one
who is able to judge, and has dwelt in the same place with
him, and been present at his daily life and known him in his
family relations, where he may be seen stripped of his tragedy
attire, and again in the hour of public danger--he shall tell
us about the happiness and misery of the tyrant when com-
pared with other men?

  That again, he said, is a very fair proposal.

  Shall I assume that we ourselves are able and experienced
judges and have before now met with such a person? We
shall then have someone who will answer our inquiries.

  By all means.

  Let me ask you not to forget the parallel of the individual
and the State; bearing this in mind, and glancing in turn
from one to the other of them, will you tell me their respec-
tive conditions?

  What do you mean? he asked.

  Beginning with the State, I replied, would you say that a
city which is governed by a tyrant is free or enslaved?

  No city, he said, can be more completely enslaved.

  And yet, as you see, there are freemen as well as masters
in such a State?

  Yes, he said, I see that there are--a few; but the people,
speaking generally, and the best of them are miserably de-
graded and enslaved.

  Then if the man is like the State, I said, must not the same
rule prevail? His soul is full of meanness and vulgarity--
the best elements in him are enslaved; and there is a small
ruling part, which is also the worst and maddest.


  And would you say that the soul of such a one is the soul
of a freeman or of a slave?

  He has the soul of a slave, in my opinion.

  And the State which is enslaved under a tyrant is utterly
incapable of acting voluntarily?

  Utterly incapable.

  And also the soul which is under a tyrant (I am speaking
of the soul taken as a whole) is least capable of doing what
she desires; there is a gadfly which goads her, and she is
full of trouble and remorse?


  And is the city which is under a tyrant rich or poor?


  And the tyrannical soul must be always poor and insatiable?


  And must not such a State and such a man be always full
of fear?

  Yes, indeed.

  Is there any State in which you will find more of lamenta-
tion and sorrow and groaning and pain?

  Certainly not.

  And is there any man in whom you will find more of this
sort of misery than in the tyrannical man, who is in a fury
of passions and desires?


  Reflecting upon these and similar evils, you held the tyran-
nical State to be the most miserable of States?

  And I was right, he said.

  Certainly, I said. And when you see the same evils in the
tyrannical man, what do you say of him?

  I say that he is by far the most miserable of all men.

  There, I said, I think that you are beginning to go wrong.

  What do you mean?

  I do not think that he has as yet reached the utmost ex-
treme of misery.

  Then who is more miserable?

  One of whom I am about to speak.

  Who is that?

  He who is of a tyrannical nature, and instead of leading a
private life has been cursed with the further misfortune of
being a public tyrant.

  From what has been said, I gather that you are right.

  Yes, I replied, but in this high argument you should be a
little more certain, and should not conjecture only; for of all
questions, this respecting good and evil is the greatest.

  Very true, he said.

  Let me then offer you an illustration, which may, I think,
throw a light upon this subject.

  What is your illustration?

  The case of rich individuals in cities who possess many
slaves: from them you may form an idea of the tyrant's con-
dition, for they both have slaves; the only difference is that
he has more slaves.

  Yes, that is the difference.

  You know that they live securely and have nothing to ap-
prehend from their servants?

  What should they fear?

  Nothing. But do you observe the reason of this?

  Yes; the reason is, that the whole city is leagued together
for the protection of each individual.

  Very true, I said. But imagine one of these owners, the
master say of some fifty slaves, together with his family and
property and slaves, carried off by a god into the wilderness,
where there are no freemen to help him--will he not be in
an agony of fear lest he and his wife and children should be
put to death by his slaves?

  Yes, he said, he will be in the utmost fear.

  The time has arrived when he will be compelled to flatter
divers of his slaves, and make many promises to them of free-
dom and other things, much against his will--he will have
to cajole his own servants.

  Yes, he said, that will be the only way of saving himself.

  And suppose the same god, who carried him away, to sur-
round him with neighbors who will not suffer one man to
be the master of another, and who, if they could catch the
offender, would take his life?

  His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be every-
where surrounded and watched by enemies.

  And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will
be bound--he who being by nature such as we have described,
is full of all sorts of fears and lusts? His soul is dainty and
greedy, and yet alone, of all men in the city, he is never
allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which other
freemen desire to see, but he lives in his hole like a woman
hidden in the house, and is jealous of any other citizen who
goes into foreign parts and sees anything of interest.

  Very true, he said.

  And amid evils such as these will not he who is ill-governed
in his own person--the tyrannical man, I mean--whom you
just now decided to be the most miserable of all--will not
he be yet more miserable when, instead of leading a private
life, he is constrained by fortune to be a public tyrant? He
has to be master of others when he is not master of himself:
he is like a diseased or paralytic man who is compelled to pass
his life, not in retirement, but fighting and combating with
other men.

  Yes, he said, the similitude is most exact.

  Is not his case utterly miserable? and does not the actual
tyrant lead a worse life than he whose life you determined to
be the worst?


  He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the
real slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation
and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind.
He has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has
more wants than anyone, and is truly poor, if you know how
to inspect the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset
with fear and is full of convulsions and distractions, even as
the State which he resembles: and surely the resemblance

  Very true, he said.

  Moreover, as we were saying before, he grows worse from
having power: he becomes and is of necessity more jealous,
more faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious,
than he was at first; he is the purveyor and cherisher of
every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely
miserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as

  No man of any sense will dispute your words.
Come, then, I said, and as the general umpire in theatrical
contests proclaims the result, do you also decide who in your
opinion is first in the scale of happiness, and who second, and
in what order the others follow: there are five of them in all
--they are the royal, timocratical, oligarchical, democratical,

  The decision will be easily given, he replied; they shall be
choruses coming on the stage, and I must judge them in the
order in which they enter, by the criterion of virtue and vice,
happiness and misery.

  Need we hire a herald, or shall I announce that the son
of Ariston (the best) has decided that the best and justest
is also the happiest, and that this is he who is the most royal
man and king over himself; and that the worst and most un-
just man is also the most miserable, and that this is he who
being the greatest tyrant of himself is also the greatest tyrant
of his State?

  Make the proclamation yourself, he said.

  And shall I add, "whether seen or unseen by gods and

  Let the words be added.

  Then this, I said, will be our first proof; and there is an-
other, which may also have some weight.

  What is that?

  The second proof is derived from the nature of the soul:
seeing that the individual soul, like the State, has been di-
vided by us into three principles, the division may, I think,
furnish a new demonstration.

  Of what nature?

  It seems to me that to these three principles three pleasures
correspond; also three desires and governing powers.

  How do you mean? he said.

  There is one principle with which, as we were saying, a
man learns, another with which he is angry; the third, hav-
ing many forms, has no special name, but is denoted by the
general term appetitive, from the extraordinary strength and
vehemence of the desires of eating and drinking and the other
sensual appetites which are the main elements of it; also
money-loving, because such desires are generally satisfied by
the help of money.

  That is true, he said.

  If we were to say that the loves and pleasures of this third
part were concerned with gain, we should then be able to fall
back on a single notion; and might truly and intelligibly de-
scribe this part of the soul as loving gain or money.

  I agree with you.

  Again, is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling
and conquering and getting fame?


  Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious--would the
term be suitable?

  Extremely suitable.

  On the other hand, everyone sees that the principle of knowl-
edge is wholly directed to the truth, and cares less than either
of the others for gain or fame.

  Far less.

  "Lover of wisdom," "lover of knowledge," are titles which
we may fitly apply to that part of the soul?


  One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men, an-
other in others, as may happen?


  Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes
of men--lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, lovers of gain?


  And there are three kinds of pleasure, which are their sev-
eral objects?

  Very true.

  Now, if you examine the three classes of men, and ask of
them in turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each will be
found praising his own and depreciating that of others: the
money-maker will contrast the vanity of honor or of learning
if they bring no money with the solid advantages of gold
and silver?

  True, he said.

  And the lover of honor--what will be his opinion? Will
he not think that the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the
pleasure of learning, if it brings no distinction, is all smoke
and nonsense to him?

  Very true.

  And are we to suppose, I said, that the philosopher sets
any value on other pleasures in comparison with the pleasure
of knowing the truth, and in that pursuit abiding, ever learn-
ing, not so far indeed from the heaven of pleasure? Does
he not call the other pleasures necessary, under the idea that
if there were no necessity for them, he would rather not have

  There can be no doubt of that, he replied.

  Since, then, the pleasures of each class and the life of each
are in dispute, and the question is not which life is more or
less honorable, or better or worse, but which is the more
pleasant or painless--how shall we know who speaks truly?

  I cannot myself tell, he said.

  Well, but what ought to be the criterion? Is any better
than experience, and wisdom, and reason?

  There cannot be a better, he said.

  Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has
the greatest experience of all the pleasures which we enumer-
ated? Has the lover of gain, in learning the nature of essen-
tial truth, greater experience of the pleasure of knowledge
than the philosopher has of the pleasure of gain?

  The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage; for
he has of necessity always known the taste of the other pleas-
ures from his childhood upward: but the lover of gain in all
his experience has not of necessity tasted--or, I should rather
say, even had he desired, could hardly have tasted--the sweet-
ness of learning and knowing truth.

  Then the lover of wisdom has a great advantage over the
lover of gain, for he has a double experience?

  Yes, very great.

  Again, has he greater experience of the pleasures of honor,
or the lover of honor of the pleasures of wisdom?

  Nay, he said, all three are honored in proportion as they
attain their object; for the rich man and the brave man and
the wise man alike have their crowd of admirers, and as they
all receive honor they all have experience of the pleasures of
honor; but the delight which is to be found in the knowledge
of true being is known to the philosopher only.

  His experience, then, will enable him to judge better than

  Far better.

  And he is the only one who has wisdom as well as experi-


  Further, the very faculty which is the instrument of judg-
ment is not possessed by the covetous or ambitious man, but
only by the philosopher?

  What faculty?

  Reason, with whom, as we were saying, the decision ought
to rest.


  And reasoning is peculiarly his instrument?


  If wealth and gain were the criterion, then the praise or
blame of the lover of gain would surely be the most trust-


  Or if honor, or victory, or courage, in that case the judg-
ment of the ambitious or pugnacious would be the truest?


  But since experience and wisdom and reason are the

  The only inference possible, he replied, is that pleasures
which are approved by the lover of wisdom and reason are
the truest.

  And so we arrive at the result, that the pleasure of the in-
telligent part of the soul is the pleasantest of the three, and
that he of us in whom this is the ruling principle has the
pleasantest life.

  Unquestionably, he said, the wise man speaks with authority
when he approves of his own life.

  And what does the judge affirm to be the life which is next,
and the pleasure which is next?

  Clearly that of the soldier and lover of honor; who is nearer
to himself than the money-maker.

  Last comes the lover of gain?

  Very true, he said.

  Twice in succession, then, has the just man overthrown the
unjust in this conflict; and now comes the third trial, which
is dedicated to Olympian Zeus the saviour: a sage whispers
in my ear that no pleasure except that of the wise is quite
true and pure--all others are a shadow only; and surely this
will prove the greatest and most decisive of falls?

  Yes, the greatest; but will you explain yourself?

  I will work out the subject and you shall answer my ques-


  Say, then, is not pleasure opposed to pain?


  And there is a neutral state which is neither pleasure nor

  There is.

  A state which is intermediate, and a sort of repose of the
soul about either--that is what you mean?


  You remember what people say when they are sick?

  What do they say?

  That after all nothing is pleasanter than health. But then
they never knew this to be the greatest of pleasures until they
were ill.

  Yes, I know, he said.

  And when persons are suffering from acute pain, you must
have heard them say that there is nothing pleasanter than to
get rid of their pain?

  I have.

  And there are many other cases of suffering in which the
mere rest and cessation of pain, and not any positive enjoy-
ment, are extolled by them as the greatest pleasure?

  Yes, he said; at the time they are pleased and well content
to be at rest.

  Again, when pleasure ceases, that sort of rest or cessation
will be painful?

  Doubtless, he said.

  Then the intermediate state of rest will be pleasure and will
also be pain?

  So it would seem.

  But can that which is neither become both?

  I should say not.

  And both pleasure and pain are motions of the soul, are
they not?


  But that which is neither was just now shown to be rest
and not motion, and in a mean between them?


  How, then, can we be right in supposing that the absence
of pain is pleasure, or that the absence of pleasure is pain?

This, then, is an appearance only, and not a reality; that is
to say, the rest is pleasure at the moment and in comparison
of what is painful, and painful in comparison of what is pleas-
ant; but all these representations, when tried by the test of
true pleasure, are not real, but a sort of imposition?

  That is the inference.

  Look at the other class of pleasures which have no ante-
cedent pains and you will no longer suppose, as you perhaps
may at present, that pleasure is only the cessation of pain, or
pain of pleasure.

  What are they, he said, and where shall I find them?

  There are many of them: take as an example, the pleasures
of smell, which are very great and have no antecedent pains;
they come in a moment, and when they depart leave no pain
behind them.

  Most true, he said.

  Let us not, then, be induced to believe that pure pleasure
is the cessation of pain, or pain of pleasure.


  Still, the more numerous and violent pleasures which reach
the soul through the body are generally of this sort--they are
reliefs of pain.

  That is true.

  And the anticipations of future pleasures and pains are of
a like nature?


  Shall I give you an illustration of them?

  Let me hear.

  You would allow, I said, that there is in nature an upper
and lower and middle region?

  I should.

  And if a person were to go from the lower to the middle
region, would he not imagine that he is going up; and he
who is standing in the middle and sees whence he has come,
would imagine that he is already in the upper region, if he
has never seen the true upper world?

  To be sure, he said; how can he think otherwise?

  But if he were taken back again he would imagine, and truly
imagine, that he was descending?

  No doubt.

  All that would arise out of his ignorance of the true upper
and middle and lower regions?


  Then can you wonder that persons who are inexperienced
in the truth, as they have wrong ideas about many other things,
should also have wrong ideas about pleasure and pain and
the intermediate state; so that when they are only being
drawn toward the painful they feel pain and think the pain
which they experience to be real, and in like manner, when
drawn away from pain to the neutral or intermediate state,
they firmly believe that they have reached the goal of satiety
and pleasure; they, not knowing pleasure, err in contrasting
pain with the absence of pain, which is like contrasting black
with gray instead of white--can you wonder, I say, at this?

  No, indeed; I should be much more disposed to wonder
at the opposite.

  Look at the matter thus: Hunger, thirst, and the like, are
inanitions of the bodily state?


  And ignorance and folly are inanitions of the soul?


  And food and wisdom are the corresponding satisfactions
of either?


  And is the satisfaction derived from that which has less or
from that which has more existence the truer?

  Clearly, from that which has more.

  What classes of things have a greater share of pure ex-
istence, in your judgment--those of which food and drink and
condiments and all kinds of sustenance are examples, or the
class which contains true opinion and knowledge and mind
and all the different kinds of virtue? Put the question in this
way: Which has a more pure being--that which is concerned
with the invariable, the immortal, and the true, and is of such
a nature, and is found in such natures; or that which is con-
cerned with and found in the variable and mortal, and is itself
variable and mortal?

  Far purer, he replied, is the being of that which is con-
cerned with the invariable.

  And does the essence of the invariable partake of knowl-
edge in the same degree as of essence?

  Yes, of knowledge in the same degree.

  And of truth in the same degree?


  And, conversely, that which has less of truth will also have
less of essence?


  Then, in general, those kinds of things which are in the
service of the body have less of truth and essence than those
which are in the service of the soul?

  Far less.

  And has not the body itself less of truth and essence than
the soul?


  What is filled with more real existence, and actually has a
more real existence, is more really filled than that which is
filled with less real existence and is less real?

  Of course.

  And if there be a pleasure in being filled with that which
is according to nature, that which is more really filled with
more real being will more really and truly enjoy true pleas-
ure; whereas that which participates in less real being will
be less truly and surely satisfied, and will participate in an
illusory and less real pleasure?

Those, then, who know not wisdom and virtue, and are al-
ways busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up
again as far as the mean; and in this region they move at
random throughout life, but they never pass into the true
upper world; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find
their way, neither are they truly filled with true being, nor do
they taste of pure and abiding pleasure. Like cattle, with
their eyes always looking down and their heads stooping to
the earth, that is, to the dining-table, they fatten and feed and
breed, and, in their excessive love of these delights, they kick
and butt at one another with horns and hoofs which are made
of iron; and they kill one another by reason of their insatiable
lust. For they fill themselves with that which is not sub-
stantial, and the part of themselves which they fill is also un-
substantial and incontinent.

  Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the
many like an oracle.

  Their pleasures are mixed with pains--how can they be
otherwise? For they are mere shadows and pictures of the
true, and are colored by contrast, which exaggerates both light
and shade, and so they implant in the minds of fools insane
desires of themselves; and they are fought about as Stesich-
orus says that the Greeks fought about the shadow of Helen
at Troy, in ignorance of the truth.

  Something of that sort must inevitably happen.

  And must not the like happen with the spirited or passionate
element of the soul? Will not the passionate man who car-
ries his passion into action, be in the like case, whether he is
envious and ambitious, or violent and contentious, or angry
and discontented, if he be seeking to attain honor and victory
and the satisfaction of his anger without reason or sense?

  Yes, he said, the same will happen with the spirited ele-
ment also.

  Then may we not confidently assert that the lovers of money
and honor, when they seek their pleasures under the guidance
and in the company of reason and knowledge, and pursue after
and win the pleasures which wisdom shows them, will also
have the truest pleasures in the highest degree which is attain-
able to them, inasmuch as they follow truth; and they will
have the pleasures which are natural to them, if that which
is best for each one is also most natural to him?

  Yes, certainly; the best is the most natural.

  And when the whole soul follows the philosophical prin-
ciple, and there is no division, the several parts are just, and
do each of them their own business, and enjoy severally the
best and truest pleasures of which they are capable?


  But when either of the two other principles prevails, it fails
in attaining its own pleasure, and compels the rest to pursue
after a pleasure which is a shadow only and which is not their


  And the greater the interval which separates them from
philosophy and reason, the more strange and illusive will be
the pleasure?


  And is not that farthest from reason which is at the greatest
distance from law and order?


  And the lustful and tyrannical desires are, as we saw, at
the greatest distance?

  And the royal and orderly desires are nearest?


  Then the tyrant will live at the greatest distance from true
or natural pleasure, and the king at the least?


  But if so, the tyrant will live most unpleasantly, and the
king most pleasantly?


  Would you know the measure of the interval which sepa-
rates them?

  Will you tell me?

  There appear to be three pleasures, one genuine and two
spurious: now the transgression of the tyrant reaches a point
beyond the spurious; he has run away from the region of
law and reason, and taken up his abode with certain slave
pleasures which are his satellites, and the measure of his in-
feriority can only be expressed in a figure.

  How do you mean?

  I assume, I said, that the tyrant is in the third place from
the oligarch; the democrat was in the middle?


  And if there is truth in what has preceded, he will be
wedded to an image of pleasure which is thrice removed as
to truth from the pleasure of the oligarch?

  He will.

  And the oligarch is third from the royal; since we count
as one royal and aristocratical?

  Yes, he is third.

  Then the tyrant is removed from true pleasure by the space
of a number which is three times three?


  The shadow, then, of tyrannical pleasure determined by the
number of length will be a plane figure.


  And if you raise the power and make the plane a solid, there
is no difficulty in seeing how vast is the interval by which
the tyrant is parted from the king.

  Yes; the arithmetician will easily do the sum.

  Or if some person begins at the other end and measures
the interval by which the king is parted from the tyrant in
truth of pleasure, he will find him, when the multiplication is
completed, living 729 times more pleasantly, and the tyrant
more painfully by this same interval.

  What a wonderful calculation! And how enormous is the
distance which separates the just from the unjust in regard to
pleasure and pain!

  Yet a true calculation, I said, and a number which nearly
concerns human life, if human beings are concerned with days
and nights and months and years.

  Yes, he said, human life is certainly concerned with them.

  Then if the good and just man be thus superior in pleasure
to the evil and unjust, his superiority will be infinitely greater
in propriety of life and in beauty and virtue?

  Immeasurably greater.

  Well, I said, and now having arrived at this stage of the
argument, we may revert to the words which brought us
hither: Was not someone saying that injustice was a gain
to the perfectly unjust who was reputed to be just?

  Yes, that was said.
Now, then, having determined the power and quality of
justice and injustice, let us have a little conversation with him.

  What shall we say to him?

  Let us make an image of the soul, that he may have his
own words presented before his eyes.

  Of what sort?

  An ideal image of the soul, like the composite creations of
ancient mythology, such as the Chimera, or Scylla, or Cerberus,
and there are many others in which two or more different
natures are said to grow into one.

  There are said to have been such unions.

  Then do you now model the form of a multitudinous, many-
headed monster, having a ring of heads of all manner of
beasts, tame and wild, which he is able to generate and meta-
morphose at will.

  You suppose marvellous powers in the artist; but, as lan-
guage is more pliable than wax or any similar substance, let
there be such a model as you propose.

  Suppose now that you make a second form as of a lion, and
a third of a man, the second smaller than the first, and the
third smaller than the second.

  That, he said, is an easier task; and I have made them as
you say.

  And now join them, and let the three grow into one.

  That has been accomplished.

  Next fashion the outside of them into a single image, as of
a man, so that he who is not able to look within, and sees only
the outer hull, may believe the beast to be a single human
I have done so, he said.

  And now, to him who maintains that it is profitable for the
human creature to be unjust, and unprofitable to be just, let
us reply that, if he be right, it is profitable for this creature
to feast the multitudinous monster and strengthen the lion and
the lion-like qualities, but to starve and weaken the man, who
is consequently liable to be dragged about at the mercy of
either of the other two; and he is not to attempt to familiarize
or harmonize them with one another--he ought rather to suf-
fer them to fight, and bite and devour one another.

  Certainly, he said; that is what the approver of injustice

  To him the supporter of justice makes answer that he
should ever so speak and act as to give the man within him
in some way or other the most complete mastery over the
entire human creature.

  He should watch over the many-
headed monster like a good husbandman, fostering and culti-
vating the gentle qualities, and preventing the wild ones from
growing; he should be making the lion-heart his ally, and in
common care of them all should be uniting the several parts
with one another and with himself.

  Yes, he said, that is quite what the maintainer of justice
will say.

  And so from every point of view, whether of pleasure,
honor, or advantage, the approver of justice is right and
speaks the truth, and the disapprover is wrong and false and

  Yes, from every point of view.

  Come, now, and let us gently reason with the unjust, who
is not intentionally in error. "Sweet sir," we will say to him,
"what think you of things esteemed noble and ignoble? Is
not the noble that which subjects the beast to the man, or
rather to the god in man? and the ignoble that which sub-
jects the man to the beast?" He can hardly avoid saying,
Yes--can he, now?
Not if he has any regard for my opinion.
But, if he agree so far, we may ask him to answer another
question: "Then how would a man profit if he received gold
and silver on the condition that he was to enslave the noblest
part of him to the worst? Who can imagine that a man who
sold his son or daughter into slavery for money, especially if
he sold them into the hands of fierce and evil men, would be
the gainer, however large might be the sum which he re-
ceived? And will anyone say that he is not a miserable
caitiff who remorselessly sells his own divine being to that
which is most godless and detestable? Eriphyle took the
necklace as the price of her husband's life, but he is taking a
bribe in order to compass a worse ruin."

  Yes, said Glaucon, far worse--I will answer for him.

  Has not the intemperate been censured of old, because in
him the huge multiform monster is allowed to be too much at


  And men are blamed for pride and bad temper when the
lion and serpent element in them disproportionately grows and
gains strength?


  And luxury and softness are blamed, because they relax
and weaken this same creature, and make a coward of him?

  Very true.

  And is not a man reproached for flattery and meanness who
subordinates the spirited animal to the unruly monster, and,
for the sake of money, of which he can never have enough,
habituates him in the days of his youth to be trampled in the
mire, and from being a lion to become a monkey?

  True, he said.

  And why are mean employments and manual arts a re-
proach? Only because they imply a natural weakness of the
higher principle; the individual is unable to control the creat-
ures within him, but has to court them, and his great study
is how to flatter them.

  Such appears to be the reason.

  And therefore, being desirous of placing him under a rule
like that of the best, we say that he ought to be the servant
of the best, in whom the Divine rules; not, as Thrasymachus
supposed, to the injury of the servant, but because everyone
had better be ruled by divine wisdom dwelling within him;
or, if this be impossible, then by an external authority, in
order that we may be all, as far as possible, under the same
government, friends and equals.

  True, he said.

  And this is clearly seen to be the intention of the law, which
is the ally of the whole city; and is seen also in the authority
which we exercise over children, and the refusal to let them
be free until we have established in them a principle analogous
to the constitution of a State, and by cultivation of this higher
element have set up in their hearts a guardian and ruler like
our own, and when this is done they may go their ways.

  Yes, he said, the purpose of the law is manifest.

  From what point of view, then, and on what ground can
we say that a man is profited by injustice or intemperance or
other baseness, which will make him a worse man, even
though he acquire money or power by his wickedness?

  From no point of view at all.

  What shall he profit, if his injustice be undetected and un-
punished? He who is undetected only gets worse, whereas
he who is detected and punished has the brutal part of his
nature silenced and humanized; the gentler element in him
is liberated, and his whole soul is perfected and ennobled by
the acquirement of justice and temperance and wisdom, more
than the body ever is by receiving gifts of beauty, strength,
and health, in proportion as the soul is more honorable than
the body.

  Certainly, he said.

  To this nobler purpose the man of understanding will devote
the energies of his life. And in the first place, he will honor
studies which impress these qualities on his soul, and will dis-
regard others?

  Clearly, he said.

  In the next place, he will regulate his bodily habit and train-
ing, and so far will he be from yielding to brutal and irrational
pleasures, that he will regard even health as quite a secondary
matter; his first object will be not that he may be fair or strong
or well, unless he is likely thereby to gain temperance, but he
will always desire so to attemper the body as to preserve the
harmony of the soul?

  Certainly he will, if he has true music in him.

  And in the acquisition of wealth there is a principle of order
and harmony which he will also observe; he will not allow him-
self to be dazzled by the foolish applause of the world, and heap
up riches to his own infinite harm?

  Certainly not, he said.

  He will look at the city which is within him, and take heed
that no disorder occur in it, such as might arise either from
superfluity or from want; and upon this principle he will regu-
late his property and gain or spend according to his means.

  Very true.

  And, for the same reason, he will gladly accept and enjoy
such honors as he deems likely to make him a better man; but
those, whether private or public, which are likely to disorder
his life, he will avoid?

  Then, if that is his motive, he will not be a statesman.

  By the dog of Egypt, he will! in the city which is his own
he certainly will, though in the land of his birth perhaps not,
unless he have a divine call.

  I understand; you mean that he will be a ruler in the city
of which we are the founders, and which exists in idea only;
for I do not believe that there is such a one anywhere on earth?

  In heaven, I replied, there is laid up a pattern of it, methinks,
which he who desires may behold, and beholding, may set his
own house in order. But whether such a one exists, or ever
will exist in fact, is no matter; for he will live after the manner
of that city, having nothing to do with any other.

  I think so, he said.

                           BOOK X
                    THE RECOMPENSE OF LIFE


  OF the many excellences which I perceive in the order of
our State, there is none which upon reflection pleases
me better than the rule about poetry.

  To what do you refer?

  To the rejection of imitative poetry, which certainly ought
not to be received; as I see far more clearly now that the parts
of the soul have been distinguished.

  What do you mean?

  Speaking in confidence, for I should not like to have my
words repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative
tribe--but I do not mind saying to you, that all poetical imita-
tions are ruinous to the understanding of the hearers, and that
the knowledge of their true nature is the only antidote to them.

  Explain the purport of your remark.

  Well, I will tell you, although I have always from my earliest
youth had an awe and love of Homer, which even now makes
the words falter on my lips, for he is the great captain and
teacher of the whole of that charming tragic company; but a
man is not to be reverenced more than the truth, and therefore
I will speak out.

  Very good, he said.

  Listen to me, then, or, rather, answer me.

  Put your question.

  Can you tell me what imitation is? for I really do not know.

  A likely thing, then, that I should know.

  Why not? for the duller eye may often see a thing sooner
than the keener.

  Very true, he said; but in your presence, even if I had any
faint notion, I could not muster courage to utter it. Will you
inquire yourself?
Well, then, shall we begin the inquiry in our usual manner:
Whenever a number of individuals have a common name, we
assume them to have also a corresponding idea or form; do you
understand me?

  I do.

  Let us take any common instance; there are beds and tables
in the world--plenty of them, are there not?


  But there are only two ideas or forms of them--one the idea
of a bed, the other of a table.


  And the maker of either of them makes a bed or he makes
a table for our use, in accordance with the idea--that is our
way of speaking in this and similar instances--but no artificer
makes the ideas themselves: how could he?


  And there is another artist--I should like to know what you
would say of him.

  Who is he?

  One who is the maker of all the works of all other workmen.

  What an extraordinary man!

  Wait a little, and there will be more reason for your saying
so. For this is he who is able to make not only vessels of every
kind, but plants and animals, himself and all other things--
the earth and heaven, and the things which are in heaven or
under the earth; he makes the gods also.

  He must be a wizard and no mistake.

  Oh! you are incredulous, are you? Do you mean that there
is no such maker or creator, or that in one sense there might
be a maker of all these things, but in another not? Do you see
that there is a way in which you could make them all yourself?

  What way?

  An easy way enough; or rather, there are many ways in
which the feat might be quickly and easily accomplished, none
quicker than that of turning a mirror round and round--you
would soon enough make the sun and the heavens, and the
earth and yourself, and other animals and plants, and all the
other things of which we were just now speaking, in the mirror.

  Yes, he said; but they would be appearances only.

  Very good, I said, you are coming to the point now. And
the painter, too, is, as I conceive, just such another--a creator
of appearances, is he not?

  Of course.

  But then I suppose you will say that what he creates is un-
true. And yet there is a sense in which the painter also creates
a bed?

  Yes, he said, but not a real bed.

  And what of the maker of the bed? were you not saying that
he too makes, not the idea which, according to our view, is the
essence of the bed, but only a particular bed?

  Yes, I did.

  Then if he does not make that which exists he cannot make
true existence, but only some semblance of existence; and if
anyone were to say that the work of the maker of the bed, or
of any other workman, has real existence, he could hardly be
supposed to be speaking the truth.

  At any rate, he replied, philosophers would say that he was
not speaking the truth.

  No wonder, then, that his work, too, is an indistinct expres-
sion of truth.

  No wonder.

  Suppose now that by the light of the examples just offered
we inquire who this imitator is?

  If you please.
Well, then, here are three beds: one existing in nature, which
is made by God, as I think that we may say--for no one else
can be the maker?


  There is another which is the work of the carpenter?


  And the work of the painter is a third?


  Beds, then, are of three kinds, and there are three artists who
superintend them: God, the maker of the bed, and the painter?

  Yes, there are three of them.

  God, whether from choice or from necessity, made one bed
in nature and one only; two or more such ideal beds neither
ever have been nor ever will be made by God.

  Why is that?

  Because even if He had made but two, a third would still
appear behind them which both of them would have for their
idea, and that would be the ideal bed and not the two others.

  Very true, he said.

  God knew this, and he desired to be the real maker of a real
bed, not a particular maker of a particular bed, and therefore
he created a bed which is essentially and by nature one only.

  So we believe.

  Shall we, then, speak of him as the natural author or maker
of the bed?

  Yes, he replied; inasmuch as by the natural process of crea-
tion he is the author of this and of all other things.

  And what shall we say of the carpenter--is not he also the
maker of the bed?


  But would you call the painter a creator and maker?

  Certainly not.

  Yet if he is not the maker, what is he in relation to the bed?

  I think, he said, that we may fairly designate him as the
imitator of that which the others make.

  Good, I said; then you call him who is third in the descent
from nature an imitator?

  Certainly, he said.

  And the tragic poet is an imitator, and, therefore, like all
other imitators, he is thrice removed from the king and from
the truth?

  That appears to be so.

  Then about the imitator we are agreed. And what about
the painter? I would like to know whether he may be thought
to imitate that which originally exists in nature, or only the
creations of artists?

  The latter.

  As they are or as they appear? you have still to determine

  What do you mean?

  I mean, that you may look at a bed from different points of
view, obliquely or directly or from any other point of view, and
the bed will appear different, but there is no difference in reality.
And the same of all things.

  Yes, he said, the difference is only apparent.

  Now let me ask you another question: Which is the art of
painting designed to be--an imitation of things as they are, or
as they appear--of appearance or of reality?

  Of appearance.

  Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and
can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of
them, and that part an image. For example: A painter will
paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artist, though he knows
nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good artist, he may deceive
children or simple persons, when he shows them his picture of
a carpenter from a distance, and they will fancy that they are
looking at a real carpenter.


  And whenever anyone informs us that he has found a man
who knows all the arts, and all things else that anybody knows,
and every single thing with a higher degree of accuracy than
any other man--whoever tells us this, I think that we can only
imagine him to be a simple creature who is likely to have been
deceived by some wizard or actor whom he met, and whom he
thought all-knowing, because he himself was unable to analyze
the nature of knowledge and ignorance and imitation.

  Most true.

  And so, when we hear persons saying that the tragedians,
and Homer, who is at their head, know all the arts and all
things human, virtue as well as vice, and divine things too, for
that the good poet cannot compose well unless he knows his
subject, and that he who has not this knowledge can never be
a poet, we ought to consider whether here also there may not
be a similar illusion. Perhaps they may have come across imi-
tators and been deceived by them; they may not have remem-
bered when they saw their works that these were but imitations
thrice removed from the truth, and could easily be made with-
out any knowledge of the truth, because they are appearances
only and not realities? Or, after all, they may be in the right,
and poets do really know the things about which they seem to
the many to speak so well?

  The question, he said, should by all means be considered.

  Now do you suppose that if a person were able to make the
original as well as the image, he would seriously devote himself
to the image-making branch? Would he allow imitation to be
the ruling principle of his life, as if he had nothing higher in

  I should say not.

  The real artist, who knew what he was imitating, would be
interested in realities and not in imitations; and would desire
to leave as memorials of himself works many and fair; and,
instead of being the author of encomiums, he would prefer to
be the theme of them.

  Yes, he said, that would be to him a source of much greater
honor and profit.

  Then, I said, we must put a question to Homer; not about
medicine, or any of the arts to which his poems only incidentally
refer: we are not going to ask him, or any other poet, whether
he has cured patients like Asclepius, or left behind him a school
of medicine such as the Asclepiads were, or whether he only
talks about medicine and other arts at second-hand; but we
have a right to know respecting military tactics, politics, edu-
cation, which are the chiefest and noblest subjects of his poems,
and we may fairly ask him about them. "Friend Homer,"
then we say to him, "if you are only in the second remove from
truth in what you say of virtue, and not in the third--not an
image maker or imitator--and if you are able to discern what
pursuits make men better or worse in private or public life, tell
us what State was ever better governed by your help? The
good order of Lacedaemon is due to Lycurgus, and many other
cities, great and small, have been similarly benefited by others;
but who says that you have been a good legislator to them and
have done them any good? Italy and Sicily boast of Charon-
das, and there is Solon who is renowned among us; but what
city has anything to say about you?" Is there any city which
he might name?

  I think not, said Glaucon; not even the Homerids themselves
pretend that he was a legislator.

  Well, but is there any war on record which was carried on
successfully by him, or aided by his counsels, when he was

  There is not.

  Or is there any invention of his, applicable to the arts or to
human life, such as Thales the Milesian or Anacharsis the
Scythian, and other ingenious men have conceived, which is
attributed to him?

  There is absolutely nothing of the kind.

  But, if Homer never did any public service, was he privately
a guide or teacher of any? Had he in his lifetime friends who
loved to associate with him, and who handed down to posterity
a Homeric way of life, such as was established by Pythagoras,
who was so greatly beloved for his wisdom, and whose fol-
lowers are to this day quite celebrated for the order which was
named after him?

  Nothing of the kind is recorded of him. For, surely, Soc-
rates, Creophylus, the companion of Homer, that child of
flesh, whose name always makes us laugh, might be more justly
ridiculed for his stupidity, if, as is said, Homer was greatly
neglected by him and others in his own day when he was alive?

  Yes, I replied, that is the tradition. But can you imagine,
Glaucon, that if Homer had really been able to educate and im-
prove mankind--if he had possessed knowledge, and not been a
mere imitator--can you imagine, I say, that he would not have
had many followers, and been honored and loved by them?
Protagoras of Abdera and Prodicus of Ceos and a host of
others have only to whisper to their contemporaries: "You
will never be able to manage either your own house or your
own State until you appoint us to be your ministers of educa-
tion"--and this ingenious device of theirs has such an effect
in making men love them that their companions all but carry
them about on their shoulders. And is it conceivable that the
contemporaries of Homer, or again of Hesiod, would have al-
lowed either of them to go about as rhapsodists, if they had
really been able to make mankind virtuous? Would they not
have been as unwilling to part with them as with gold, and have
compelled them to stay at home with them? Or, if the master
would not stay, then the disciples would have followed him
about everywhere, until they had got education enough?

  Yes, Socrates, that, I think, is quite true.

  Then must we not infer that all these poetical individuals,
beginning with Homer, are only imitators; they copy images
of virtue and the like, but the truth they never reach? The
poet is like a painter who, as we have already observed, will
make a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing of
cobbling; and his picture is good enough for those who know
no more than he does, and judge only by colors and figures.

  Quite so.

  In like manner the poet with his words and phrases may
be said to lay on the colors of the several arts, himself under-
standing their nature only enough to imitate them; and other
people, who are as ignorant as he is, and judge only from his
words, imagine that if he speaks of cobbling, or of military tac-
tics, or of anything else, in metre and harmony and rhythm, he
speaks very well--such is the sweet influence which melody
and rhythm by nature have. And I think that you must have
observed again and again what a poor appearance the tales of
poets make when stripped of the colors which music puts upon
them, and recited in simple prose.

  Yes, he said.

  They are like faces which were never really beautiful, but
only blooming; and now the bloom of youth has passed away
from them?


  Here is another point: The imitator or maker of the image
knows nothing of true existence; he knows appearances only.
Am I not right?


  Then let us have a clear understanding, and not be satisfied
with half an explanation.


  Of the painter we say that he will paint reins, and he will
paint a bit?


  And the worker in leather and brass will make them?


  But does the painter know the right form of the bit and reins?
Nay, hardly even the workers in brass and leather who make
them; only the horseman who knows how to use them--he
knows their right form.

  Most true.

  And may we not say the same of all things?


  That there are three arts which are concerned with all things:
one which uses, another which makes, a third which imitates


  And the excellence or beauty or truth of every structure,
animate or inanimate, and of every action of man, is relative
to the use for which nature or the artist has intended them.


  Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of
them, and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad quali-
ties which develop themselves in use; for example, the flute-
player will tell the flute-maker which of his flutes is satisfactory
to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to make them,
and the other will attend to his instructions?

  Of course.

  The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about
the goodness and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding
in him, will do what he is told by him?


  The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or bad-
ness of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this
he will gain from him who knows, by talking to him and being
compelled to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will
have knowledge?


  But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use
whether or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? or will he
have right opinion from being compelled to associate with an-
other who knows and gives him instructions about what he
should draw?


  Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have
knowledge about the goodness or badness of his imitations?

  I suppose not.

  The imitative artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence
about his own creations?

  Nay, very much the reverse.

  And still he will go on imitating without knowing what
makes a thing good or bad, and may be expected therefore to
imitate only that which appears to be good to the ignorant

  Just so.

  Thus far, then, we are pretty well agreed that the imitator
has no knowledge worth mentioning of what he imitates. Im-
itation is only a kind of play or sport, and the tragic poets,
whether they write in iambic or in heroic verse, are imitators
in the highest degree?

  Very true.

  And now tell me, I conjure you, has not imitation been shown
by us to be concerned with that which is thrice removed from
the truth?


  And what is the faculty in man to which imitation is ad-

  What do you mean?

  I will explain: The body which is large when seen near, ap-
pears small when seen at a distance?


  And the same objects appear straight when looked at out
of the water, and crooked when in the water; and the concave
becomes convex, owing to the illusion about colors to which
the sight is liable. Thus every sort of confusion is revealed
within us; and this is that weakness of the human mind on
which the art of conjuring and of deceiving by light and
shadow and other ingenious devices imposes, having an effect
upon us like magic.


  And the arts of measuring and numbering and weighing
come to the rescue of the human understanding--there is the
beauty of them--and the apparent greater or less, or more or
heavier, no longer have the mastery over us, but give way be-
fore calculation and measure and weight?

  Most true.

  And this, surely, must be the work of the calculating and
rational principle in the soul?

  To be sure.

  And when this principle measures and certifies that some
things are equal, or that some are greater or less than others,
there occurs an apparent contradiction?


  But were we not saying that such a contradiction is impos-
sible--the same faculty cannot have contrary opinions at the
same time about the same thing?

  Very true.

  Then that part of the soul which has an opinion contrary to
measure is not the same with that which has an opinion in ac-
cordance with measure?


  And the better part of the soul is likely to be that which
trusts to measure and calculation?


  And that which is opposed to them is one of the inferior
principles of the soul?

  No doubt.

  This was the conclusion at which I was seeking to arrive
when I said that painting or drawing, and imitation in general,
when doing their own proper work, are far removed from truth,
and the companions and friends and associates of a principle
within us which is equally removed from reason, and that they
have no true or healthy aim.


  The imitative art is an inferior who marries an inferior, and
has inferior offspring.

  Very true.

  And is this confined to the sight only, or does it extend to
the hearing also, relating in fact to what we term poetry?

  Probably the same would be true of poetry.

  Do not rely, I said, on a probability derived from the analogy
of painting; but let us examine further and see whether the
faculty with which poetical imitation is concerned is good or

  By all means.

  We may state the question thus: Imitation imitates the ac-
tions of men, whether voluntary or involuntary, on which, as
they imagine, a good or bad result has ensued, and they rejoice
or sorrow accordingly. Is there anything more?

  No, there is nothing else.

  But in all this variety of circumstances is the man at unity
with himself--or, rather, as in the instance of sight there were
confusion and opposition in his opinions about the same things,
so here also are there not strife and inconsistency in his life?
though I need hardly raise the question again, for I remember
that all this has been already admitted; and the soul has been
acknowledged by us to be full of these and ten thousand similar
oppositions occurring at the same moment?

  And we were right, he said.

  Yes, I said, thus far we were right; but there was an omis-
sion which must now be supplied.

  What was the omission?

  Were we not saying that a good man, who has the misfortune
to lose his son or anything else which is most dear to him,
will bear the loss with more equanimity than another?


  But will he have no sorrow, or shall we say that although
he cannot help sorrowing, he will moderate his sorrow?

  The latter, he said, is the truer statement.

  Tell me: will he be more likely to struggle and hold out
against his sorrow when he is seen by his equals, or when he is

  It will make a great difference whether he is seen or not.

  When he is by himself he will not mind saying or doing many
things which he would be ashamed of anyone hearing or seeing
him do?


  There is a principle of law and reason in him which bids him
resist, as well as a feeling of his misfortune which is forcing
him to indulge his sorrow?


  But when a man is drawn in two opposite directions, to and
from the same object, this, as we affirm, necessarily implies two
distinct principles in him?


  One of them is ready to follow the guidance of the law?

  How do you mean?

  The law would say that to be patient under suffering is best,
and that we should not give way to impatience, as there is no
knowing whether such things are good or evil; and nothing is
gained by impatience; also, because no human thing is of seri-
ous importance, and grief stands in the way of that which at
the moment is most required.

  What is most required? he asked.

  That we should take counsel about what has happened, and
when the dice have been thrown order our affairs in the way
which reason deems best; not, like children who have had a
fall, keeping hold of the part struck and wasting time in setting
up a howl, but always accustoming the soul forthwith to apply
a remedy, raising up that which is sickly and fallen, banishing
the cry of sorrow by the healing art.

  Yes, he said, that is the true way of meeting the attacks of

  Yes, I said; and the higher principle is ready to follow this
suggestion of reason?


  And the other principle, which inclines us to recollection of
our troubles and to lamentation, and can never have enough of
them, we may call irrational, useless, and cowardly?

  Indeed, we may.

  And does not the latter--I mean the rebellious principle--
furnish a great variety of materials for imitation? Whereas
the wise and calm temperament, being always nearly equable,
is not easy to imitate or to appreciate when imitated, especially
at a public festival when a promiscuous crowd is assembled in a
theatre. For the feeling represented is one to which they are


  Then the imitative poet who aims at being popular is not by
nature made, nor is his art intended, to please or to affect the
rational principle in the soul; but he will prefer the passionate
and fitful temper, which is easily imitated?


  And now we may fairly take him and place him by the side
of the painter, for he is like him in two ways: first, inasmuch
as his creations have an inferior degree of truth--in this, I say,
he is like him; and he is also like him in being concerned with
an inferior part of the soul; and therefore we shall be right in
refusing to admit him into a well-ordered State, because he
awakens and nourishes and strengthens the feelings and im-
pairs the reason. As in a city when the evil are permitted to
have authority and the good are put out of the way, so in the
soul of man, as we maintain, the imitative poet implants an evil
constitution, for he indulges the irrational nature which has no
discernment of greater and less, but thinks the same thing at
one time great and at another small--he is a manufacturer of
images and is very far removed from the truth.


  But we have not yet brought forward the heaviest count in
our accusation: the power which poetry has of harming even
the good (and there are very few who are not harmed), is
surely an awful thing?

  Yes, certainly, if the effect is what you say.

  Hear and judge: The best of us, as I conceive, when we
listen to a passage of Homer or one of the tragedians, in which
he represents some pitiful hero who is drawling out his sorrows
in a long oration, or weeping, and smiting his breast--the best
of us, you know, delight in giving way to sympathy, and are in
raptures at the excellence of the poet who stirs our feelings

  Yes, of course, I know.

  But when any sorrow of our own happens to us, then you
may observe that we pride ourselves on the opposite quality--
we would fain be quiet and patient; this is the manly part, and
the other which delighted us in the recitation is now deemed
to be the part of a woman.

  Very true, he said.

  Now can we be right in praising and admiring another who
is doing that which any one of us would abominate and be
ashamed of in his own person?

  No, he said, that is certainly not reasonable.

  Nay, I said, quite reasonable from one point of view.

  What point of view?

  If you consider, I said, that when in misfortune we feel a
natural hunger and desire to relieve our sorrow by weeping
and lamentation, and that this feeling which is kept under con-
trol in our own calamities is satisfied and delighted by the
poets; the better nature in each of us, not having been suffi-
ciently trained by reason or habit, allows the sympathetic ele-
ment to break loose because the sorrow is another's; and the
spectator fancies that there can be no disgrace to himself in
praising and pitying anyone who comes telling him what a good
man he is, and making a fuss about his troubles; he thinks
that the pleasure is a gain, and why should he be supercilious
and lose this and the poem too? Few persons ever reflect, as I
should imagine, that from the evil of other men something of
evil is communicated to themselves. And so the feeling of sor-
row which has gathered strength at the sight of the misfortunes
of others is with difficulty repressed in our own.

  How very true!

  And does not the same hold also of the ridiculous? There
are jests which you would be ashamed to make yourself, and
yet on the comic stage, or indeed in private, when you hear
them, you are greatly amused by them, and are not at all dis-
gusted at their unseemliness; the case of pity is repeated; there
is a principle in human nature which is disposed to raise a
laugh, and this which you once restrained by reason, because
you were afraid of being thought a buffoon, is now let out
again; and having stimulated the risible faculty at the theatre,
you are betrayed unconsciously to yourself into playing the
comic poet at home.

  Quite true, he said.

  And the same may be said of lust and anger and all the other
affections, of desire, and pain, and pleasure, which are held to
be inseparable from every action--in all of them poetry feeds
and waters the passions instead of drying them up; she lets
them rule, although they ought to be controlled, if mankind are
ever to increase in happiness and virtue.

  I cannot deny it.

  Therefore, Glaucon, I said, whenever you meet with any of
the eulogists of Homer declaring that he has been the educator
of Hellas, and that he is profitable for education and for the
ordering of human things, and that you should take him up
again and again and get to know him and regulate your whole
life according to him, we may love and honor those who say
these things--they are excellent people, as far as their lights
extend; and we are ready to acknowledge that Homer is the
greatest of poets and first of tragedy writers; but we must re-
main firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praises
of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted
into our State. For if you go beyond this and allow the
honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or lyric verse, not law and
the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever
been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in
our State.

  That is most true, he said.

  And now since we have reverted to the subject of poetry, let
this our defence serve to show the reasonableness of our former
judgment in sending away out of our State an art having the
tendencies which we have described; for reason constrained us.
But that she may not impute to us any harshness or want of
politeness, let us tell her that there is an ancient quarrel between
philosophy and poetry; of which there are many proofs, such
as the saying of "the yelping hound howling at her lord," or
of one "mighty in the vain talk of fools," and "the mob of
sages circumventing Zeus," and the "subtle thinkers who are
beggars after all"; and there are innumerable other signs of
ancient enmity between them. Notwithstanding this, let us
assure our sweet friend and the sister art of imitation, that if
she will only prove her title to exist in a well-ordered State we
shall be delighted to receive her--we are very conscious of her
charms; but we may not on that account betray the truth. I
dare say, Glaucon, that you are as much charmed by her as I
am, especially when she appears in Homer?

  Yes, indeed, I am greatly charmed.

  Shall I propose, then, that she be allowed to return from
exile, but upon this condition only--that she make a defence
of herself in lyrical or some other metre?


  And we may further grant to those of her defenders who are
lovers of poetry and yet not poets the permission to speak in
prose on her behalf: let them show not only that she is pleasant,
but also useful to States and to human life, and we will listen
in a kindly spirit; for if this can be proved we shall surely be
the gainers--I mean, if there is a use in poetry as well as a

  Certainly, he said, we shall be the gainers.

  If her defence fails, then, my dear friend, like other persons
who are enamoured of something, but put a restraint upon
themselves when they think their desires are opposed to their
interests, so, too, must we after the manner of lovers give her
up, though not without a struggle. We, too, are inspired by
that love of poetry which the education of noble States has im-
planted in us, and therefore we would have her appear at her
best and truest; but so long as she is unable to make good her
defence, this argument of ours shall be a charm to us, which
we will repeat to ourselves while we listen to her strains; that
we may not fall away into the childish love of her which capti-
vates the many. At all events we are well aware that poetry
being such as we have described is not to be regarded seriously
as attaining to the truth; and he who listens to her, fearing for
the safety of the city which is within him, should be on his
guard against her seductions and make our words his law.

  Yes, he said, I quite agree with you.

  Yes, I said, my dear Glaucon, for great is the issue at stake,
greater than appears, whether a man is to be good or bad. And
what will anyone be profited if under the influence of honor or
money or power, aye, or under the excitement of poetry, he
neglect justice and virtue?

  Yes, he said; I have been convinced by the argument, as I
believe that anyone else would have been.

  And yet no mention has been made of the greatest prizes and
rewards which await virtue.

  What, are there any greater still? If there are, they must
be of an inconceivable greatness.

  Why, I said, what was ever great in a short time? The
whole period of threescore years and ten is surely but a little
thing in comparison with eternity?

  Say rather 'nothing' he replied.

  And should an immortal being seriously think of this little
space rather than of the whole?

  Of the whole, certainly. But why do you ask?

  Are you not aware, I said, that the soul of man is immortal
and imperishable?

  He looked at me in astonishment, and said: No, by heaven:
And are you really prepared to maintain this?

  Yes, I said, I ought to be, and you too--there is no difficulty
in proving it.

  I see a great difficulty; but I should like to hear you state
this argument of which you make so light.
Listen, then.

  I am attending.

  There is a thing which you call good and another which you
call evil?

  Yes, he replied.

  Would you agree with me in thinking that the corrupting
and destroying element is the evil, and the saving and improv-
ing element the good?


  And you admit that everything has a good and also an evil;
as ophthalmia is the evil of the eyes and disease of the whole
body; as mildew is of corn, and rot of timber, or rust of copper
and iron: in everything, or in almost everything, there is an in-
herent evil and disease?

  Yes, he said.

  And anything which is infected by any of these evils is made
evil, and at last wholly dissolves and dies?


  The vice and evil which are inherent in each are the destruc-
tion of each; and if these do not destroy them there is nothing
else that will; for good certainly will not destroy them, nor,
again, that which is neither good nor evil.

  Certainly not.

  If, then, we find any nature which having this inherent cor-
ruption cannot be dissolved or destroyed, we may be certain
that of such a nature there is no destruction?

  That may be assumed.

  Well, I said, and is there no evil which corrupts the soul?

  Yes, he said, there are all the evils which we were just now
passing in review: unrighteousness, intemperance, cowardice,

  But does any of these dissolve or destroy her?--and here do
not let us fall into the error of supposing that the unjust and
foolish man, when he is detected, perishes through his own in-
justice, which is an evil of the soul. Take the analogy of the
body: The evil of the body is a disease which wastes and re-
duces and annihilates the body; and all the things of which
we were just now speaking come to annihilation through their
own corruption attaching to them and inhering in them and
so destroying them. Is not this true?


  Consider the soul in like manner. Does the injustice or
other evil which exists in the soul waste and consume her?
Do they by attaching to the soul and inhering in her at last
bring her to death, and so separate her from the body?

  Certainly not.

  And yet, I said, it is unreasonable to suppose that anything
can perish from without through affection of external evil
which could not be destroyed from within by a corruption of
its own?

  It is, he replied.

  Consider, I said, Glaucon, that even the badness of food,
whether staleness, decomposition, or any other bad quality,
when confined to the actual food, is not supposed to destroy
the body; although, if the badness of food communicates cor-
ruption to the body, then we should say that the body has been
destroyed by a corruption of itself, which is disease, brought
on by this; but that the body, being one thing, can be destroyed
by the badness of the food, which is another, and which does
not engender any natural infection--this we shall absolutely

  Very true.

  And, on the same principle, unless some bodily evil can pro-
duce an evil of the soul, we must not suppose that the soul,
which is one thing, can be dissolved by any merely external
evil which belongs to another?

  Yes, he said, there is reason in that.
Either, then, let us refute this conclusion, or, while it remains
unrefuted, let us never say that fever, or any other disease, or
the knife put to the throat, or even the cutting up of the whole
body into the minutest pieces, can destroy the soul, until she
herself is proved to become more unholy or unrighteous in con-
sequence of these things being done to the body; but that the
soul, or anything else if not destroyed by an internal evil, can
be destroyed by an external one, is not to be affirmed by any

  And surely, he replied, no one will ever prove that the souls
of men become more unjust in consequence of death.

  But if someone who would rather not admit the immortality
of the soul boldly denies this, and says that the dying do really
become more evil and unrighteous, then, if the speaker is right,
I suppose that injustice, like disease, must be assumed to be
fatal to the unjust, and that those who take this disorder die by
the natural inherent power of destruction which evil has, and
which kills them sooner or later, but in quite another way from
that in which, at present, the wicked receive death at the hands
of others as the penalty of their deeds?

  Nay, he said, in that case injustice, if fatal to the unjust, will
not be so very terrible to him, for he will be delivered from evil.
But I rather suspect the opposite to be the truth, and that in-
justice which, if it have the power, will murder others, keeps
the murderer alive--aye, and well awake, too; so far removed
is her dwelling-place from being a house of death.

  True, I said; if the inherent natural vice or evil of the soul
is unable to kill or destroy her, hardly will that which is ap-
pointed to be the destruction of some other body, destroy a soul
or anything else except that of which it was appointed to be
the destruction.

  Yes, that can hardly be.

  But the soul which cannot be destroyed by an evil, whether
inherent or external, must exist forever, and, if existing for-
ever, must be immortal?


  That is the conclusion, I said; and, if a true conclusion, then
the souls must always be the same, for if none be destroyed
they will not diminish in number. Neither will they increase,
for the increase of the immortal natures must come from some-
thing mortal, and all things would thus end in immortality.

  Very true.

  But this we cannot believe--reason will not allow us--any
more than we can believe the soul, in her truest nature, to be
full of variety and difference and dissimilarity.

  What do you mean? he said.

  The soul, I said, being, as is now proven, immortal, must
be the fairest of compositions and cannot be compounded of
many elements?

  Certainly not.

  Her immortality is demonstrated by the previous argument,
and there are many other proofs; but to see her as she really
is, not as we now behold her, marred by communion with the
body and other miseries, you must contemplate her with the
eye of reason, in her original purity; and then her beauty will
be revealed, and justice and injustice and all the things which
we have described will be manifested more clearly. Thus far,
we have spoken the truth concerning her as she appears at pres-
ent, but we must remember also that we have seen her only in
a condition which may be compared to that of the sea-god Glau-
cus, whose original image can hardly be discerned because his
natural members are broken off and crushed and damaged by
the waves in all sorts of ways, and incrustations have grown
over them of sea-weed and shells and stones, so that he is more
like some monster than he is to his own natural form. And
the soul which we behold is in a similar condition, disfigured
by ten thousand ills. But not there, Glaucon, not there must
we look.
Where, then?

  At her love of wisdom. Let us see whom she affects, and
what society and converse she seeks in virtue of her near kin-
dred with the immortal and eternal and divine; also how differ-
ent she would become if, wholly following this superior princi-
ple, and borne by a divine impulse out of the ocean in which
she now is, and disengaged from the stones and shells and
things of earth and rock which in wild variety spring up around
her because she feeds upon earth, and is overgrown by the good
things in this life as they are termed: then you would see her as
she is, and know whether she have one shape only or many,
or what her nature is. Of her affections and of the forms
which she takes in this present life I think that we have now
said enough.

  True, he replied.

  And thus, I said, we have fulfilled the conditions of the argu-
ment; we have not introduced the rewards and glories of
justice, which, as you were saying, are to be found in Homer
and Hesiod; but justice in her own nature has been shown to
be the best for the soul in her own nature. Let a man do what
is just, whether he have the ring of Gyges or not, and even if
in addition to the ring of Gyges he put on the helmet of Hades.

  Very true.

  And now, Glaucon, there will be no harm in further enu-
merating how many and how great are the rewards which jus-
tice and the other virtues procure to the soul from gods and
men, both in life and after death.

  Certainly not, he said.

  Will you repay me, then, what you borrowed in the argu-

  What did I borrow?

  The assumption that the just man should appear unjust and
the unjust just: for you were of opinion that even if the true
state of the case could not possibly escape the eyes of gods and
men, still this admission ought to be made for the sake of the
argument, in order that pure justice might be weighed against
pure injustice. Do you remember?

  I should be much to blame if I had forgotten.

  Then, as the cause is decided, I demand on behalf of justice
that the estimation in which she is held by gods and men and
which we acknowledge to be her due should now be restored
to her by us; since she has been shown to confer reality, and
not to deceive those who truly possess her, let what has been
taken from her be given back, that so she may win that palm of
appearance which is hers also, and which she gives to her own.

  The demand, he said, is just.

  In the first place, I said--and this is the first thing which
you will have to give back--the nature both of the just and un-
just is truly known to the gods.


  And if they are both known to them, one must be the friend
and the other the enemy of the gods, as we admitted from the


  And the friend of the gods may be supposed to receive from
them all things at their best, excepting only such evil as is the
necessary consequence of former sins?


  Then this must be our notion of the just man, that even when
he is in poverty or sickness, or any other seeming misfortune,
all things will in the end work together for good to him in life
and death; for the gods have a care of anyone whose desire is
to become just and to be like God, as far as man can attain the
divine likeness, by the pursuit of virtue?

  Yes, he said; if he is like God he will surely not be neglected
by him.

  And of the unjust may not the opposite be supposed?


  Such, then, are the palms of victory which the gods give the

  That is my conviction.

  And what do they receive of men? Look at things as they
really are, and you will see that the clever unjust are in the
case of runners, who run well from the starting-place to the
goal, but not back again from the goal: they go off at a great
pace, but in the end only look foolish, slinking away with their
ears draggling on their shoulders, and without a crown; but
the true runner comes to the finish and receives the prize and
is crowned. And this is the way with the just; he who endures
to the end of every action and occasion of his entire life has a
good report and carries off the prize which men have to bestow.


  And now you must allow me to repeat of the just the bless-
ings which you were attributing to the fortunate unjust. I
shall say of them, what you were saying of the others, that as
they grow older, they become rulers in their own city if they
care to be; they marry whom they like and give in marriage to
whom they will; all that you said of the others I now say of
these. And, on the other hand, of the unjust I say that the
greater number, even though they escape in their youth, are
found out at last and look foolish at the end of their course,
and when they come to be old and miserable are flouted alike
by stranger and citizen; they are beaten, and then come those
things unfit for ears polite, as you truly term them; they will
be racked and have their eyes burned out, as you were saying.
And you may suppose that I have repeated the remainder of
your tale of horrors. But will you let me assume, without re-
citing them, that these things are true?

  Certainly, he said, what you say is true.

  These, then, are the prizes and rewards and gifts which are
bestowed upon the just by gods and men in this present life,
in addition to the other good things which justice of herself

  Yes, he said; and they are fair and lasting.

  And yet, I said, all these are as nothing either in number or
greatness in comparison with those other recompenses which
await both just and unjust after death. And you ought to hear
them, and then both just and unjust will have received from us
a full payment of the debt which the argument owes to them.

  Speak, he said; there are few things which I would more
gladly hear.

  Well, I said, I will tell you a tale; not one of the tales which
Odysseus tells to the hero Alcinous, yet this, too, is a tale of
a hero, Er the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by birth. He
was slain in battle, and ten days afterward, when the bodies
of the dead were taken up already in a state of corruption, his
body was found unaffected by decay, and carried away home to
be buried. And on the twelfth day, as he was lying on the
funeral pyre, he returned to life and told them what he had seen
in the other world. He said that when his soul left the body he
went on a journey with a great company, and that they came
to a mysterious place at which there were two openings in the
earth; they were near together, and over against them were
two other openings in the heaven above. In the intermediate
space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, after
they had given judgment on them and had bound their sen-
tences in front of them, to ascend by the heavenly way on the
right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them
to descend by the lower way on the left hand; these also bore
the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs. He
drew near, and they told him that he was to be the messenger
who would carry the report of the other world to them, and
they bade him hear and see all that was to be heard and seen in
that place. Then he beheld and saw on one side the souls de-
parting at either opening of heaven and earth when sentence
had been given on them; and at the two other openings other
souls, some ascending out of the earth dusty and worn with
travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright. And
arriving ever and anon they seemed to have come from a long
journey, and they went forth with gladness into the meadow,
where they encamped as at a festival; and those who knew one
another embraced and conversed, the souls which came from
earth curiously inquiring about the things above, and the souls
which came from heaven about the things beneath. And they
told one another of what had happened by the way, those from
below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of the things
which they had endured and seen in their journey beneath the
earth (now the journey lasted a thousand years), while those
from above were describing heavenly delights and visions of
inconceivable beauty. The story, Glaucon, would take too long
to tell; but the sum was this: He said that for every wrong
which they had done to anyone they suffered tenfold; or once
in a hundred years--such being reckoned to be the length of
man's life, and the penalty being thus paid ten times in a thou-
sand years. If, for example, there were any who had been
the cause of many deaths, or had betrayed or enslaved cities
or armies, or been guilty of any other evil behavior, for each
and all of their offences they received punishment ten times
over, and the rewards of beneficence and justice and holiness
were in the same proportion. I need hardly repeat what he
said concerning young children dying almost as soon as they
were born. Of piety and impiety to gods and parents, and of
murderers, there were retributions other and greater far which
he described. He mentioned that he was present when one of
the spirits asked another, "Where is Ardiaeus the Great?"
(Now this Ardiaeus lived a thousand years before the time of
Er: he had been the tyrant of some city of Pamphylia, and had
murdered his aged father and his elder brother, and was said to
have committed many other abominable crimes.) The answer
of the other spirit was: "He comes not hither, and will never
come." And this, said he, was one of the dreadful sights
which we ourselves witnessed. We were at the mouth of the
cavern, and, having completed all our experiences, were about
to reascend, when of a sudden Ardiaeus appeared and several
others, most of whom were tyrants; and there were also, be-
sides the tyrants, private individuals who had been great crimi-
nals: they were just, as they fancied, about to return into the
upper world, but the mouth, instead of admitting them, gave a
roar, whenever any of these incurable sinners or someone who
had not been sufficiently punished tried to ascend; and then wild
men of fiery aspect, who were standing by and heard the sound,
seized and carried them off; and Ardiaeus and others they
bound head and foot and hand, and threw them down and
flayed them with scourges, and dragged them along the road
at the side, carding them on thorns like wool, and declaring to
the passers-by what were their crimes, and that they were
being taken away to be cast into hell. And of all the many
terrors which they had endured, he said that there was none
like the terror which each of them felt at that moment, lest they
should hear the voice; and when there was silence, one by one
they ascended with exceeding joy. These, said Er, were the
penalties and retributions, and there were blessings as great.

  Now when the spirits which were in the meadow had tarried
seven days, on the eighth they were obliged to proceed on their
journey, and, on the fourth day after, he said that they came
to a place where they could see from above a line of light,
straight as a column, extending right through the whole heaven
and through the earth, in color resembling the rainbow, only
brighter and purer; another day's journey brought them to the
place, and there, in the midst of the light, they saw the ends of
the chains of heaven let down from above: for this light is the
belt of heaven, and holds together the circle of the universe,
like the under-girders of a trireme. From these ends is extend-
ed the spindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn.
The shaft and hook of this spindle are made of steel, and the
whorl is made partly of steel and also partly of other materials.
Now the whorl is in form like the whorl used on earth; and
the description of it implied that there is one large hollow whorl
which is quite scooped out, and into this is fitted another lesser
one, and another, and another, and four others, making eight
in all, like vessels which fit into one another; the whorls show
their edges on the upper side, and on their lower side all to-
gether form one continuous whorl. This is pierced by the
spindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth.
The first and outermost whorl has the rim broadest, and the
seven inner whorls are narrower, in the following proportions
--the sixth is next to the first in size, the fourth next to the
sixth; then comes the eighth; the seventh is fifth, the fifth is
sixth, the third is seventh, last and eighth comes the second.
The largest (or fixed stars) is spangled, and the seventh (or
sun) is brightest; the eighth (or moon) colored by the reflected
light of the seventh; the second and fifth (Saturn and Mer-
cury) are in color like one another, and yellower than the pre-
ceding; the third (Venus) has the whitest light; the fourth
(Mars) is reddish; the sixth (Jupiter) is in whiteness second.
Now the whole spindle has the same motion; but, as the whole
revolves in one direction, the seven inner circles move slowly in
the other, and of these the swiftest is the eighth; next in swift-
ness are the seventh, sixth, and fifth, which move together;
third in swiftness appeared to move according to the law of
this reversed motion, the fourth; the third appeared fourth, and
the second fifth. The spindle turns on the knees of Necessity;
and on the upper surface of each circle is a siren, who goes
round with them, hymning a single tone or note. The eight
together form one harmony; and round about, at equal inter-
vals, there is another band, three in number, each sitting upon
her throne: these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who
are clothed in white robes and have chaplets upon their heads,
Lachesis and Clotho and Atropos, who accompany with their
voices the harmony of the sirens--Lachesis singing of the past,
Clotho of the present, Atropos of the future; Clotho from time
to time assisting with a touch of her right hand the revolution
of the outer circle of the whorl or spindle, and Atropos with
her left hand touching and guiding the inner ones, and Lachesis
laying hold of either in turn, first with one hand and then with
the other.

  When Er and the spirits arrived, their duty was to go at once
to Lachesis; but first of all there came a prophet who arranged
them in order; then he took from the knees of Lachesis lots and
samples of lives, and having mounted a high pulpit, spoke as
follows: "Hear the word of Lachesis, the daughter of Neces-
sity. Mortal souls, behold a new cycle of life and mortality.
Your genius will not be allotted to you, but you will choose
your genius; and let him who draws the first lot have the first
choice, and the life which he chooses shall be his destiny. Vir-
tue is free, and as a man honors or dishonors her he will have
more or less of her; the responsibility is with the chooser--God
is justified." When the Interpreter had thus spoken he scat-
tered lots indifferently among them all, and each of them took
up the lot which fell near him, all but Er himself (he was not
allowed), and each as he took his lot perceived the number
which he had obtained. Then the Interpreter placed on the
ground before them the samples of lives; and there were many
more lives than the souls present, and they were of all sorts.
There were lives of every animal and of man in every condition.
And there were tyrannies among them, some lasting out the
tyrant's life, others which broke off in the middle and came to
an end in poverty and exile and beggary; and there were lives
of famous men, some who were famous for their form and
beauty as well as for their strength and success in games, or,
again, for their birth and the qualities of their ancestors; and
some who were the reverse of famous for the opposite qualities.
And of women likewise; there was not, however, any definite
character in them, because the soul, when choosing a new life,
must of necessity become different. But there was every other
quality, and they all mingled with one another, and also with
elements of wealth and poverty, and disease and health; and
there were mean states also. And here, my dear Glaucon, is
the supreme peril of our human state; and therefore the utmost
care should be taken. Let each one of us leave every other
kind of knowledge and seek and follow one thing only, if per-
adventure he may be able to learn and may find someone who
will make him able to learn and discern between good and evil,
and so to choose always and everywhere the better life as he
has opportunity. He should consider the bearing of all these
things which have been mentioned severally and collectively
upon virtue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when
combined with poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and what
are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth,
of private and public station, of strength and weakness, of
cleverness and dullness, and of all the natural and acquired gifts
of the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined; he will
then look at the nature of the soul, and from the consideration
of all these qualities he will be able to determine which is the
better and which is the worse; and so he will choose, giving
the name of evil to the life which will make his soul more un-
just, and good to the life which will make his soul more just;
all else he will disregard. For we have seen and know that this
is the best choice both in life and after death. A man must
take with him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth
and right, that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of
wealth or the other allurements of evil, lest, coming upon tyran-
nies and similar villanies, he do irremediable wrongs to others
and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose
the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possi-
ble, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For
this is the way of happiness.

  And according to the report of the messenger from the other
world this was what the prophet said at the time: "Even for
the last comer, if he chooses wisely and will live diligently, there
is appointed a happy and not undesirable existence. Let not
him who chooses first be careless, and let not the last despair."
And when he had spoken, he who had the first choice came for-
ward and in a moment chose the greatest tyranny; his mind
having been darkened by folly and sensuality, he had not
thought out the whole matter before he chose, and did not at
first sight perceive that he was fated, among other evils, to de-
vour his own children. But when he had time to reflect, and
saw what was in the lot, he began to beat his breast and lament
over his choice, forgetting the proclamation of the prophet;
for, instead of throwing the blame of his misfortune on himself,
he accused chance and the gods, and everything rather than
himself. Now he was one of those who came from heaven, and
in a former life had dwelt in a well-ordered State, but his virtue
was a matter of habit only, and he had no philosophy. And
it was true of others who were similarly overtaken, that the
greater number of them came from heaven and therefore they
had never been schooled by trial, whereas the pilgrims WhO
came from earth, having themselves suffered and seen others
suffer, were not in a hurry to choose. And owing to this inex-
perience of theirs, and also because the lot was a chance, many
of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or an evil for
a good. For if a man had always on his arrival in this world
dedicated himself from the first to sound philosophy, and had
been moderately fortunate in the number of the lot, he might,
as the messenger reported, be happy here, and also his journey
to another life and return to this, instead of being rough and
underground, would be smooth and heavenly. Most curious,
he said, was the spectacle--sad and laughable and strange; for
the choice of the souls was in most cases based on their experi-
ence of a previous life. There he saw the soul which had once
been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of enmity to
the race of women, hating to be born of a woman because they
had been his murderers; he beheld also the soul of Thamyras
choosing the life of a nightingale; birds, on the other hand,
like the swans and other musicians, wanting to be men. The
soul which obtained the twentieth lot chose the life of a lion,
and this was the soul of Ajax the son of Telamon, who would
not be a man, remembering the injustice which was done him
in the judgment about the arms. The next was Agamemnon,
who took the life of an eagle, because, like Ajax, he hated
human nature by reason of his sufferings. About the middle
came the lot of Atalanta; she, seeing the great fame of an ath-
lete, was unable to resist the temptation: and after her there
followed the soul of Epeus the son of Panopeus passing into
the nature of a woman cunning in the arts; and far away among
the last who chose, the soul of the jester Thersites was putting
on the form of a monkey. There came also the soul of Odys-
seus having yet to make a choice, and his lot happened to be
the last of them all. Now the recollection of former toils had
disenchanted him of ambition, and he went about for a consid-
erable time in search of the life of a private man who had no
cares; he had some difficulty in finding this, which was lying
about and had been neglected by everybody else; and when he
saw it, he said that he would have done the same had his lot
been first instead of last, and that he was delighted to have it.
And not only did men pass into animals, but I must also men-
tion that there were animals tame and wild who changed into
one another and into corresponding human natures--the good
into the gentle and the evil into the savage, in all sorts of com-

  All the souls had now chosen their lives, and they went in
the order of their choice to Lachesis, who sent with them the
genius whom they had severally chosen, to be the guardian of
their lives and the fulfiller of the choice: this genius led the
souls first to Clotho, and drew them within the revolution of
the spindle impelled by her hand, thus ratifying the destiny of
each; and then, when they were fastened to this, carried them
to Atropos, who spun the threads and made them irreversible,
whence without turning round they passed beneath the throne
of Necessity; and when they had all passed, they marched on
in a scorching heat to the plain of Forgetfulness, which was a
barren waste destitute of trees and verdure; and then toward
evening they encamped by the river of Unmindfulness, whose
water no vessel can hold; of this they were all obliged to drink
a certain quantity, and those who were not saved by wisdom
drank more than was necessary; and each one as he drank for-
got all things. Now after they had gone to rest, about the
middle of the night there were a thunderstorm and earthquake,
and then in an instant they were driven upward in all manner
of ways to their birth, like stars shooting. He himself was
hindered from drinking the water. But in what manner or by
what means he returned to the body he could not say; only, in
the morning, awaking suddenly, he found himself lying on the

  And thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved and has not per-
ished, and will save us if we are obedient to the word spoken;
and we shall pass safely over the river of Forgetfulness, and
our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counsel is that we
hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and
virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal and able
to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall
we live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remain-
ing here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round
to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well
with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand
years which we have been describing.



This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to ancient history. Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

Paul Halsall, February 2023

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall, created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 3 May 2024 [CV]