The Republic

The Republic

Essay by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice (δικαιοσύνη), the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. It is arguably the most popular and most widely taught of Plato's writings. Although it contains its dramatic moments and it employs certain literary devices, it is not a play, a novel, a story; it is not, in a strict sense, an essay. It is a kind of extended conversation that embraces a central argument, an argument that is advanced by the proponent of the argument, Socrates. The Republic may be seen as a kind of debate, a fitting description for most of the Dialogues.

Socrates, who is the narrator.







And others who are mute auditors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are not far wrong, I said.

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

Of course.

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

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

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

Certainly not, replied Glaucon.

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

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

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

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

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

Very good, I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is true, he said.

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

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

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

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

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

You are quite right, he replied.

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

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

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

Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.

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

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

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

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


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

Certainly not.

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

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

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


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

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

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

That must have been his meaning, he said.

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

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

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

Seasoning to food.

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

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

That is his meaning then?

I think so.

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

The physician.

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

The pilot.

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

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

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


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


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

I am very far from thinking so.

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


Like husbandry for the acquisition of corn?


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


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

In contracts, Socrates, justice is of use.

And by contracts you mean partnerships?


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

The skilful player.

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

Quite the reverse.

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

In a money partnership.

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


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


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

When you want a deposit to be kept safely.

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


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

That is the inference.

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


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


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

That is the inference.

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


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


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


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

That, I suppose, is to be inferred.

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

That is implied in the argument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is true.

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

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


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


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

Nay, Socrates; the doctrine is immoral.

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

I like that better.

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

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

What was the error, Polemarchus? I asked.

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

And how is the error to be corrected?

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

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


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

Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.

But ought the just to injure any one at all?

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

When horses are injured, are they improved or deteriorated?

The latter.

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

Yes, of horses.

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

Of course.

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


And that human virtue is justice?

To be sure.

Then men who are injured are of necessity made unjust?

That is the result.

But can the musician by his art make men unmusical?

Certainly not.

Or the horseman by his art make them bad horsemen?


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

Assuredly not.

Any more than heat can produce cold?

It cannot.

Or drought moisture?

Clearly not.

Nor can the good harm any one?


And the just is the good?


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

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

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

I agree with you, said Polemarchus.

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

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

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


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

Most true, he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What, and no payment! a pleasant notion!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I know.

And the government is the ruling power in each state?


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

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

A small addition, you must allow, he said.

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


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

I do.

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

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

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


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


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


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

What is that you are saying? he asked.

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


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

Nothing can be clearer, Socrates, said Polemarchus.

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

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

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

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

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

Those were not his words, rejoined Polemarchus.

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

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

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

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

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

Certainly, he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A healer of the sick, he replied.

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

A captain of sailors.

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

Very true, he said.

Now, I said, every art has an interest?


For which the art has to consider and provide?

Yes, that is the aim of art.

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

What do you mean?

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

Quite right, he replied.

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

Yes, clearly.

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

True, he said.

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

True, he said.

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

To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.

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

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

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


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

That has been admitted.

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

He gave a reluctant ‘Yes.’

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

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

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

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

What makes you say that? I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think! Nay, I am sure of it.

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

Yes, that is the difference, he replied.

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

Yes, he said.

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

Certainly not.

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

I should not.

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

Certainly not.

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


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

True, he replied.

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

He gave a reluctant assent to this.

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

I suppose not.

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

Certainly, he confers a benefit.

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

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

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

Very true.

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

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

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

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

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

Most certainly, he replied.

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

Very good, he said.

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

That which you propose.

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

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

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


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

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

What else then would you say?

The opposite, he replied.

And would you call justice vice?

No, I would rather say sublime simplicity.

Then would you call injustice malignity?

No; I would rather say discretion.

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

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

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

Certainly I do so class them.

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

You have guessed most infallibly, he replied.

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

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

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

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

And would he try to go beyond just action?

He would not.

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

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

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

Yes, he would.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Good again, he said.

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

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

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

Certainly, he replied.

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


And which is wise and which is foolish?

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

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


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


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

I do not think that he would.

But he would claim to exceed the non-musician?

Of course.

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

He would not.

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


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

That, I suppose, can hardly be denied.

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

I dare say.

And the knowing is wise?


And the wise is good?


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

I suppose so.

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


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

They were.

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


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

That is the inference.

And each of them is such as his like is?

That was admitted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

That is out of civility to you, he replied.

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

No indeed, he said, they could not.

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


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

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

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


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

They will.

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

Let us assume that she retains her power.

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

Yes, certainly.

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


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

Granted that they are.

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

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

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


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

I should.

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

I do not understand, he said.

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

Certainly not.

Or hear, except with the ear?


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

They may.

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

Of course.

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


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

We may.

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

I understand your meaning, he said, and assent.

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

It has.

And has not the eye an excellence?


And the ear has an end and an excellence also?


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

That is so.

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

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

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

Certainly, he replied.

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


And the same observation will apply to all other things?

I agree.

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

To no other.

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

Assuredly, he said.

And has not the soul an excellence also?


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

She cannot.

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

Yes, necessarily.

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

That has been admitted.

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

That is what your argument proves.

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


Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable?

So be it.

But happiness and not misery is profitable.

Of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certainly, I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why, what else is there? I answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True, he replied.

And is not a State larger than an individual?

It is.

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

That, he said, is an excellent proposal.

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

I dare say.

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

Yes, far more easily.

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

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

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

There can be no other.

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

True, he said.

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

Very true.

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

Of course, he replied.

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


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


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

Quite right.

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


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

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

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

Very true.

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

When he has only one.

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

No doubt.

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

He must.

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

There must.

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

That is certain.

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

Very true.

Then more husbandmen and more artisans will be required?

They will.

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


Then we shall want merchants?

We shall.

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

Yes, in considerable numbers.

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

Clearly they will buy and sell.

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


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

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

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

Yes, he said.

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


Then hirelings will help to make up our population?


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

I think so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.

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

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

True, he said.

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


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

Much greater.

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

Quite true.

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

That, Socrates, will be inevitable.

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

Most certainly, he replied.

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


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

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

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

Very true, he said.

But is not war an art?


And an art requiring as much attention as shoemaking?

Quite true.

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

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

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

No doubt, he replied.

Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?


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

It will.

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

We must.

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

What do you mean?

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

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

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


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

I have.

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


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


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

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

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

True, he said.

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


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

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

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

What do you mean? he said.

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

And where do you find them?

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

Yes, I know.

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

Certainly not.

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

I do not apprehend your meaning.

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

What trait?

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

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

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


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

Most assuredly.

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

They are the same, he replied.

And may we not say confidently of man also, that he who is likely to be gentleto his friends and acquaintances, must by nature be a lover of wisdom andknowledge?

That we may safely affirm.

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


Then we have found the desired natures; and now that we have found them, howare they to be reared and educated? Is not this an enquiry which may beexpected to throw light on the greater enquiry which is our final end—Howdo justice and injustice grow up in States? for we do not want either to omitwhat is to the point or to draw out the argument to an inconvenient length.

Adeimantus thought that the enquiry would be of great service to us.

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

Certainly not.

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

By all means.

And what shall be their education? Can we find a better than the traditionalsort?—and this has two divisions, gymnastic for the body, and music forthe soul.


Shall we begin education with music, and go on to gymnastic afterwards?

By all means.

And when you speak of music, do you include literature or not?

I do.

And literature may be either true or false?


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

I do not understand your meaning, he said.

You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories which, though notwholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and these stories aretold them when they are not of an age to learn gymnastics.

Very true.

That was my meaning when I said that we must teach music before gymnastics.

Quite right, he said.

You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work,especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time atwhich the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readilytaken.

Quite true.

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

We cannot.

Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers offiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, andreject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their childrenthe authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such tales, even morefondly than they mould the body with their hands; but most of those which arenow in use must be discarded.

Of what tales are you speaking? he said.

You may find a model of the lesser in the greater, I said; for they arenecessarily of the same type, and there is the same spirit in both of them.

Very likely, he replied; but I do not as yet know what you would term thegreater.

Those, I said, which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod, and the rest of thepoets, who have ever been the great story-tellers of mankind.

But which stories do you mean, he said; and what fault do you find with them?

A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and, what ismore, a bad lie.

But when is this fault committed?

Whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods andheroes,—as when a painter paints a portrait not having the shadow of alikeness to the original.

Yes, he said, that sort of thing is certainly very blameable; but what are thestories which you mean?

First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies in high places, whichthe poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too,—I mean whatHesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him. The doings ofCronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even ifthey were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and thoughtlesspersons; if possible, they had better be buried in silence. But if there is anabsolute necessity for their mention, a chosen few might hear them in amystery, and they should sacrifice not a common (Eleusinian) pig, but some hugeand unprocurable victim; and then the number of the hearers will be very fewindeed.

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

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

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

Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrellingamong themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to themof the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against oneanother, for they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of thegiants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we shall be silent aboutthe innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends andrelatives. If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling isunholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel betweencitizens; this is what old men and old women should begin by telling children;and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in asimilar spirit. But the narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or howon another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was beingbeaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer—these tales must not beadmitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an allegoricalmeaning or not. For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what isliteral; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely tobecome indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that thetales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

There you are right, he replied; but if any one asks where are such models tobe found and of what tales are you speaking—how shall we answer him?

I said to him, You and I, Adeimantus, at this moment are not poets, butfounders of a State: now the founders of a State ought to know the generalforms in which poets should cast their tales, and the limits which must beobserved by them, but to make the tales is not their business.

Very true, he said; but what are these forms of theology which you mean?

Something of this kind, I replied:—God is always to be represented as hetruly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric or tragic, in which therepresentation is given.


And is he not truly good? and must he not be represented as such?


And no good thing is hurtful?

No, indeed.

And that which is not hurtful hurts not?

Certainly not.

And that which hurts not does no evil?


And can that which does no evil be a cause of evil?


And the good is advantageous?


And therefore the cause of well-being?


It follows therefore that the good is not the cause of all things, but of thegood only?


Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert,but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur tomen. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the goodis to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be soughtelsewhere, and not in him.

That appears to me to be most true, he said.

Then we must not listen to Homer or to any other poet who is guilty of thefolly of saying that two casks

‘Lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other ofevil lots,’

and that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two

‘Sometimes meets with evil fortune, at other times with good;’

but that he to whom is given the cup of unmingled ill,

‘Him wild hunger drives o’er the beauteous earth.’

And again—

‘Zeus, who is the dispenser of good and evil to us.’

And if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which wasreally the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athene and Zeus, or that thestrife and contention of the gods was instigated by Themis and Zeus, he shallnot have our approval; neither will we allow our young men to hear the words ofAeschylus, that

‘God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy ahouse.’

And if a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe—the subject of thetragedy in which these iambic verses occur—or of the house of Pelops, orof the Trojan war or on any similar theme, either we must not permit him to saythat these are the works of God, or if they are of God, he must devise someexplanation of them such as we are seeking; he must say that God did what wasjust and right, and they were the better for being punished; but that those whoare punished are miserable, and that God is the author of theirmisery—the poet is not to be permitted to say; though he may say that thewicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited byreceiving punishment from God; but that God being good is the author of evil toany one is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard inverse or prose by any one whether old or young in any well-orderedcommonwealth. Such a fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.

I agree with you, he replied, and am ready to give my assent to the law.

Let this then be one of our rules and principles concerning the gods, to whichour poets and reciters will be expected to conform,—that God is not theauthor of all things, but of good only.

That will do, he said.

And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask you whether God is amagician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now inanother—sometimes himself changing and passing into many forms, sometimesdeceiving us with the semblance of such transformations; or is he one and thesame immutably fixed in his own proper image?

I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.

Well, I said; but if we suppose a change in anything, that change must beeffected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing?

Most certainly.

And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered ordiscomposed; for example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame isleast liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant which is in thefullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or anysimilar causes.

Of course.

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


And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all compositethings—furniture, houses, garments: when good and well made, they areleast altered by time and circumstances.

Very true.

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


But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?

Of course they are.

Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?

He cannot.

But may he not change and transform himself?

Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.

And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse andmore unsightly?

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

Very true, Adeimantus; but then, would any one, whether God or man, desire tomake himself worse?


Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change; being, as issupposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every God remainsabsolutely and for ever in his own form.

That necessarily follows, he said, in my judgment.

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

‘The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk up anddown cities in all sorts of forms;’

and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let any one, either intragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here disguised in thelikeness of a priestess asking an alms

‘For the life-giving daughters of Inachus the river of Argos;’

—let us have no more lies of that sort. Neither must we have mothersunder the influence of the poets scaring their children with a bad version ofthese myths—telling how certain gods, as they say, ‘Go about bynight in the likeness of so many strangers and in divers forms;’ but letthem take heed lest they make cowards of their children, and at the same timespeak blasphemy against the gods.

Heaven forbid, he said.

But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by witchcraft anddeception they may make us think that they appear in various forms?

Perhaps, he replied.

Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie, whether in word ordeed, or to put forth a phantom of himself?

I cannot say, he replied.

Do you not know, I said, that the true lie, if such an expression may beallowed, is hated of gods and men?

What do you mean? he said.

I mean that no one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest andhighest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there, aboveall, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.

Still, he said, I do not comprehend you.

The reason is, I replied, that you attribute some profound meaning to my words;but I am only saying that deception, or being deceived or uninformed about thehighest realities in the highest part of themselves, which is the soul, and inthat part of them to have and to hold the lie, is what mankind leastlike;—that, I say, is what they utterly detest.

There is nothing more hateful to them.

And, as I was just now remarking, this ignorance in the soul of him who isdeceived may be called the true lie; for the lie in words is only a kind ofimitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul, not pureunadulterated falsehood. Am I not right?

Perfectly right.

The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men?


Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful; in dealingwith enemies—that would be an instance; or again, when those whom we callour friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then itis useful and is a sort of medicine or preventive; also in the tales ofmythology, of which we were just now speaking—because we do not know thetruth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much like truth as we can, andso turn it to account.

Very true, he said.

But can any of these reasons apply to God? Can we suppose that he is ignorantof antiquity, and therefore has recourse to invention?

That would be ridiculous, he said.

Then the lying poet has no place in our idea of God?

I should say not.

Or perhaps he may tell a lie because he is afraid of enemies?

That is inconceivable.

But he may have friends who are senseless or mad?

But no mad or senseless person can be a friend of God.

Then no motive can be imagined why God should lie?

None whatever.

Then the superhuman and divine is absolutely incapable of falsehood?


Then is God perfectly simple and true both in word and deed; he changes not; hedeceives not, either by sign or word, by dream or waking vision.

Your thoughts, he said, are the reflection of my own.

You agree with me then, I said, that this is the second type or form in whichwe should write and speak about divine things. The gods are not magicians whotransform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any way.

I grant that.

Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire the lying dream whichZeus sends to Agamemnon; neither will we praise the verses of Aeschylus inwhich Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials

‘Was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to be long, andto know no sickness. And when he had spoken of my lot as in all things blessedof heaven he raised a note of triumph and cheered my soul. And I thought thatthe word of Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy, would not fail. And nowhe himself who uttered the strain, he who was present at the banquet, and whosaid this—he it is who has slain my son.’

These are the kind of sentiments about the gods which will arouse our anger;and he who utters them shall be refused a chorus; neither shall we allowteachers to make use of them in the instruction of the young, meaning, as wedo, that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers of thegods and like them.

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

Such then, I said, are our principles of theology—some tales are to betold, and others are not to be told to our disciples from their youth upwards,if we mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and to value friendshipwith one another.

Yes; and I think that our principles are right, he said.

But if they are to be courageous, must they not learn other lessons besidesthese, and lessons of such a kind as will take away the fear of death? Can anyman be courageous who has the fear of death in him?

Certainly not, he said.

And can he be fearless of death, or will he choose death in battle rather thandefeat and slavery, who believes the world below to be real and terrible?


Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class of tales as wellas over the others, and beg them not simply to revile but rather to commend theworld below, intimating to them that their descriptions are untrue, and will doharm to our future warriors.

That will be our duty, he said.

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

‘I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor and portionless man thanrule over all the dead who have come to nought.’

We must also expunge the verse, which tells us how Pluto feared,

‘Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should be seenboth of mortals and immortals.’

And again:—

‘O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly formbut no mind at all!’

Again of Tiresias:—

‘(To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,) that he aloneshould be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades.’


‘The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamenting her fate,leaving manhood and youth.’


‘And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath theearth.’


‘As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of them has dropped outof the string and falls from the rock, fly shrilling and cling to one another,so did they with shrilling cry hold together as they moved.’

And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike outthese and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive tothe popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm of them, the lessare they meet for the ears of boys and men who are meant to be free, and whoshould fear slavery more than death.


Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling names whichdescribe the world below—Cocytus and Styx, ghosts under the earth, andsapless shades, and any similar words of which the very mention causes ashudder to pass through the inmost soul of him who hears them. I do not saythat these horrible stories may not have a use of some kind; but there is adanger that the nerves of our guardians may be rendered too excitable andeffeminate by them.

There is a real danger, he said.

Then we must have no more of them.


Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.


And shall we proceed to get rid of the weepings and wailings of famous men?

They will go with the rest.

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

Yes; that is our principle.

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

He will not.

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

True, he said.

And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation offortune, is to him of all men least terrible.


And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with thegreatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.

Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.

Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men, andmaking them over to women (and not even to women who are good for anything), orto men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated by us to be thedefenders of their country may scorn to do the like.

That will be very right.

Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depictAchilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then on hisback, and then on his face; then starting up and sailing in a frenzy along theshores of the barren sea; now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands andpouring them over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various modes whichHomer has delineated. Nor should he describe Priam the kinsman of the gods aspraying and beseeching,

‘Rolling in the dirt, calling each man loudly by his name.’

Still more earnestly will we beg of him at all events not to introduce the godslamenting and saying,

‘Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the bravest to my sorrow.’

But if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so completelyto misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make him say—

‘O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine chasedround and round the city, and my heart is sorrowful.’

Or again:—

Woe is me that I am fated to have Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, subdued atthe hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius.’

For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to such unworthyrepresentations of the gods, instead of laughing at them as they ought, hardlywill any of them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be dishonoured bysimilar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination which may arise in hismind to say and do the like. And instead of having any shame or self-control,he will be always whining and lamenting on slight occasions.

Yes, he said, that is most true.

Yes, I replied; but that surely is what ought not to be, as the argument hasjust proved to us; and by that proof we must abide until it is disproved by abetter.

It ought not to be.

Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For a fit of laughterwhich has been indulged to excess almost always produces a violent reaction.

So I believe.

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

Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.

Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about the gods as thatof Homer when he describes how

‘Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they sawHephaestus bustling about the mansion.’

On your views, we must not admit them.

On my views, if you like to father them on me; that we must not admit them iscertain.

Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is uselessto the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of suchmedicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have nobusiness with them.

Clearly not, he said.

Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of theState should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with enemies orwith their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good. But nobodyelse should meddle with anything of the kind; and although the rulers have thisprivilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to be deemed a moreheinous fault than for the patient or the pupil of a gymnasium not to speak thetruth about his own bodily illnesses to the physician or to the trainer, or fora sailor not to tell the captain what is happening about the ship and the restof the crew, and how things are going with himself or his fellow sailors.

Most true, he said.

If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in the State,

‘Any of the craftsmen, whether he be priest or physician orcarpenter,’

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

Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever carried out.

In the next place our youth must be temperate?


Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience tocommanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?


Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer,

‘Friend, sit still and obey my word,’

and the verses which follow,

‘The Greeks marched breathing prowess, silent awe of theirleaders,’

and other sentiments of the same kind.

We shall.

What of this line,

‘O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog and the heart of astag,’

and of the words which follow? Would you say that these, or any similarimpertinences which private individuals are supposed to address to theirrulers, whether in verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?

They are ill spoken.

They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not conduce totemperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm to our young men—youwould agree with me there?


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

‘When the tables are full of bread and meat, and the cup-bearer carriesround wine which he draws from the bowl and pours into the cups,’

is it fit or conducive to temperance for a young man to hear such words? Or theverse

‘The saddest of fates is to die and meet destiny from hunger?’

What would you say again to the tale of Zeus, who, while other gods and menwere asleep and he the only person awake, lay devising plans, but forgot themall in a moment through his lust, and was so completely overcome at the sightof Here that he would not even go into the hut, but wanted to lie with her onthe ground, declaring that he had never been in such a state of rapture before,even when they first met one another

‘Without the knowledge of their parents;’

or that other tale of how Hephaestus, because of similar goings on, cast achain around Ares and Aphrodite?

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

But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous men, these theyought to see and hear; as, for example, what is said in the verses,

‘He smote his breast, and thus reproached his heart, Endure, my heart;far worse hast thou endured!’

Certainly, he said.

In the next place, we must not let them be receivers of gifts or lovers ofmoney.

Certainly not.

Neither must we sing to them of

‘Gifts persuading gods, and persuading reverend kings.’

Neither is Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, to be approved or deemed to havegiven his pupil good counsel when he told him that he should take the gifts ofthe Greeks and assist them; but that without a gift he should not lay aside hisanger. Neither will we believe or acknowledge Achilles himself to have beensuch a lover of money that he took Agamemnon’s gifts, or that when he hadreceived payment he restored the dead body of Hector, but that without paymenthe was unwilling to do so.

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

Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing these feelingsto Achilles, or in believing that they are truly attributed to him, he isguilty of downright impiety. As little can I believe the narrative of hisinsolence to Apollo, where he says,

‘Thou hast wronged me, O far-darter, most abominable of deities. Verily Iwould be even with thee, if I had only the power;’

or his insubordination to the river-god, on whose divinity he is ready to layhands; or his offering to the dead Patroclus of his own hair, which had beenpreviously dedicated to the other river-god Spercheius, and that he actuallyperformed this vow; or that he dragged Hector round the tomb of Patroclus, andslaughtered the captives at the pyre; of all this I cannot believe that he wasguilty, any more than I can allow our citizens to believe that he, the wiseCheiron’s pupil, the son of a goddess and of Peleus who was the gentlestof men and third in descent from Zeus, was so disordered in his wits as to beat one time the slave of two seemingly inconsistent passions, meanness, notuntainted by avarice, combined with overweening contempt of gods and men.

You are quite right, he replied.

And let us equally refuse to believe, or allow to be repeated, the tale ofTheseus son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous son of Zeus, going forth as they didto perpetrate a horrid rape; or of any other hero or son of a god daring to dosuch impious and dreadful things as they falsely ascribe to them in our day:and let us further compel the poets to declare either that these acts were notdone by them, or that they were not the sons of gods;—both in the samebreath they shall not be permitted to affirm. We will not have them trying topersuade our youth that the gods are the authors of evil, and that heroes areno better than men—sentiments which, as we were saying, are neither piousnor true, for we have already proved that evil cannot come from the gods.

Assuredly not.

And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who hear them; foreverybody will begin to excuse his own vices when he is convinced that similarwickednesses are always being perpetrated by—

‘The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus, whose ancestral altar,the altar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the peak of Ida,’

and who have

‘the blood of deities yet flowing in their veins.’

And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest they engender laxity ofmorals among the young.

By all means, he replied.

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

Very true.

And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the remaining portion of oursubject.

Clearly so.

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

Why not?

Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about men poets andstory-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when they tell usthat wicked men are often happy, and the good miserable; and that injustice isprofitable when undetected, but that justice is a man’s own loss andanother’s gain—these things we shall forbid them to utter, andcommand them to sing and say the opposite.

To be sure we shall, he replied.

But if you admit that I am right in this, then I shall maintain that you haveimplied the principle for which we have been all along contending.

I grant the truth of your inference.

That such things are or are not to be said about men is a question which wecannot determine until we have discovered what justice is, and how naturallyadvantageous to the possessor, whether he seem to be just or not.

Most true, he said.

Enough of the subjects of poetry: let us now speak of the style; and when thishas been considered, both matter and manner will have been completely treated.

I do not understand what you mean, said Adeimantus.

Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more intelligible if Iput the matter in this way. You are aware, I suppose, that all mythology andpoetry is a narration of events, either past, present, or to come?

Certainly, he replied.

And narration may be either simple narration, or imitation, or a union of thetwo?

That again, he said, I do not quite understand.

I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so much difficulty inmaking myself apprehended. Like a bad speaker, therefore, I will not take thewhole of the subject, but will break a piece off in illustration of my meaning.You know the first lines of the Iliad, in which the poet says that Chrysesprayed Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that Agamemnon flew into apassion with him; whereupon Chryses, failing of his object, invoked the angerof the God against the Achaeans. Now as far as these lines,

‘And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially the two sons of Atreus, thechiefs of the people,’

the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose that he isany one else. But in what follows he takes the person of Chryses, and then hedoes all that he can to make us believe that the speaker is not Homer, but theaged priest himself. And in this double form he has cast the entire narrativeof the events which occurred at Troy and in Ithaca and throughout the Odyssey.


And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet recites fromtime to time and in the intermediate passages?

Quite true.

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


And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use of voice orgesture, is the imitation of the person whose character he assumes?

Of course.

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

Very true.

Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals himself, then again theimitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes simple narration. However, inorder that I may make my meaning quite clear, and that you may no more say,‘I don’t understand,’ I will show how the change might beeffected. If Homer had said, ‘The priest came, having hisdaughter’s ransom in his hands, supplicating the Achaeans, and above allthe kings;’ and then if, instead of speaking in the person of Chryses, hehad continued in his own person, the words would have been, not imitation, butsimple narration. The passage would have run as follows (I am no poet, andtherefore I drop the metre), ‘The priest came and prayed the gods onbehalf of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and return safely home, butbegged that they would give him back his daughter, and take the ransom which hebrought, and respect the God. Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks revered thepriest and assented. But Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him depart and not comeagain, lest the staff and chaplets of the God should be of no avail tohim—the daughter of Chryses should not be released, he said—sheshould grow old with him in Argos. And then he told him to go away and not toprovoke him, if he intended to get home unscathed. And the old man went away infear and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he called upon Apollo by hismany names, reminding him of everything which he had done pleasing to him,whether in building his temples, or in offering sacrifice, and praying that hisgood deeds might be returned to him, and that the Achaeans might expiate histears by the arrows of the god,’—and so on. In this way the wholebecomes simple narrative.

I understand, he said.

Or you may suppose the opposite case—that the intermediate passages areomitted, and the dialogue only left.

That also, he said, I understand; you mean, for example, as in tragedy.

You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not, what you failedto apprehend before is now made clear to you, that poetry and mythology are, insome cases, wholly imitative—instances of this are supplied by tragedyand comedy; there is likewise the opposite style, in which the poet is the onlyspeaker—of this the dithyramb affords the best example; and thecombination of both is found in epic, and in several other styles of poetry. DoI take you with me?

Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.

I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that we had done withthe subject and might proceed to the style.

Yes, I remember.

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

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

Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I really do not knowas yet, but whither the argument may blow, thither we go.

And go we will, he said.

Then, Adeimantus, let me ask you whether our guardians ought to be imitators;or rather, has not this question been decided by the rule already laid downthat one man can only do one thing well, and not many; and that if he attemptmany, he will altogether fail of gaining much reputation in any?


And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate many things aswell as he would imitate a single one?

He cannot.

Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life, and atthe same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as well; for evenwhen two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same persons cannotsucceed in both, as, for example, the writers of tragedy and comedy—didyou not just now call them imitations?

Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same persons cannot succeedin both.

Any more than they can be rhapsodists and actors at once?


Neither are comic and tragic actors the same; yet all these things are butimitations.

They are so.

And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined into yet smallerpieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many things well, as of performingwell the actions of which the imitations are copies.

Quite true, he replied.

If then we adhere to our original notion and bear in mind that our guardians,setting aside every other business, are to dedicate themselves wholly to themaintenance of freedom in the State, making this their craft, and engaging inno work which does not bear on this end, they ought not to practise or imitateanything else; if they imitate at all, they should imitate from youth upwardonly those characters which are suitable to their profession—thecourageous, temperate, holy, free, and the like; but they should not depict orbe skilful at imitating any kind of illiberality or baseness, lest fromimitation they should come to be what they imitate. Did you never observe howimitations, beginning in early youth and continuing far into life, at lengthgrow into habits and become a second nature, affecting body, voice, and mind?

Yes, certainly, he said.

Then, I said, we will not allow those for whom we profess a care and of whom wesay that they ought to be good men, to imitate a woman, whether young or old,quarrelling with her husband, or striving and vaunting against the gods inconceit of her happiness, or when she is in affliction, or sorrow, or weeping;and certainly not one who is in sickness, love, or labour.

Very right, he said.

Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing the offices ofslaves?

They must not.

And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do the reverse ofwhat we have just been prescribing, who scold or mock or revile one another indrink or out of drink, or who in any other manner sin against themselves andtheir neighbours in word or deed, as the manner of such is. Neither should theybe trained to imitate the action or speech of men or women who are mad or bad;for madness, like vice, is to be known but not to be practised or imitated.

Very true, he replied.

Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or oarsmen, or boatswains,or the like?

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

Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing of bulls, the murmurof rivers and roll of the ocean, thunder, and all that sort of thing?

Nay, he said, if madness be forbidden, neither may they copy the behaviour ofmadmen.

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

And which are these two sorts? he asked.

Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course of a narrationcomes on some saying or action of another good man,—I should imagine thathe will like to personate him, and will not be ashamed of this sort ofimitation: he will be most ready to play the part of the good man when he isacting firmly and wisely; in a less degree when he is overtaken by illness orlove or drink, or has met with any other disaster. But when he comes to acharacter which is unworthy of him, he will not make a study of that; he willdisdain such a person, and will assume his likeness, if at all, for a momentonly when he is performing some good action; at other times he will be ashamedto play a part which he has never practised, nor will he like to fashion andframe himself after the baser models; he feels the employment of such an art,unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his mind revolts at it.

So I should expect, he replied.

Then he will adopt a mode of narration such as we have illustrated out ofHomer, that is to say, his style will be both imitative and narrative; butthere will be very little of the former, and a great deal of the latter. Do youagree?

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

But there is another sort of character who will narrate anything, and, theworse he is, the more unscrupulous he will be; nothing will be too bad for him:and he will be ready to imitate anything, not as a joke, but in right goodearnest, and before a large company. As I was just now saying, he will attemptto represent the roll of thunder, the noise of wind and hail, or the creakingof wheels, and pulleys, and the various sounds of flutes, pipes, trumpets, andall sorts of instruments: he will bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crowlike a cock; his entire art will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, andthere will be very little narration.

That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.

These, then, are the two kinds of style?


And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is simple and has butslight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for theirsimplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks correctly, is alwayspretty much the same in style, and he will keep within the limits of a singleharmony (for the changes are not great), and in like manner he will make use ofnearly the same rhythm?

That is quite true, he said.

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

That is also perfectly true, he replied.

And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, comprehend all poetry,and every form of expression in words? No one can say anything except in one orother of them or in both together.

They include all, he said.

And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or one only of thetwo unmixed styles? or would you include the mixed?

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

Yes, I said, Adeimantus, but the mixed style is also very charming: and indeedthe pantomimic, which is the opposite of the one chosen by you, is the mostpopular style with children and their attendants, and with the world ingeneral.

I do not deny it.

But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our State, inwhich human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man plays one part only?

Yes; quite unsuitable.

And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall find ashoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot also, and a husbandman to be ahusbandman and not a dicast also, and a soldier a soldier and not a traderalso, and the same throughout?

True, he said.

And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who are so cleverthat they can imitate anything, comes to us, and makes a proposal to exhibithimself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as a sweet and holyand wonderful being; but we must also inform him that in our State such as heare not permitted to exist; the law will not allow them. And so when we haveanointed him with myrrh, and set a garland of wool upon his head, we shall sendhim away to another city. For we mean to employ for our souls’ health therougher and severer poet or story-teller, who will imitate the style of thevirtuous only, and will follow those models which we prescribed at first whenwe began the education of our soldiers.

We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.

Then now, my friend, I said, that part of music or literary education whichrelates to the story or myth may be considered to be finished; for the matterand manner have both been discussed.

I think so too, he said.

Next in order will follow melody and song.

That is obvious.

Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to beconsistent with ourselves.

I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the word ‘every one’ hardlyincludes me, for I cannot at the moment say what they should be; though I mayguess.

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

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

And as for the words, there will surely be no difference between words whichare and which are not set to music; both will conform to the same laws, andthese have been already determined by us?


And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?


We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we had no need oflamentation and strains of sorrow?


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

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

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


In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterlyunbecoming the character of our guardians.

Utterly unbecoming.

And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?

The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed ‘relaxed.’

Well, and are these of any military use?

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

I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one warlike, tosound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour of danger andstern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or deathor is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets the blows offortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and another to be used byhim in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure ofnecessity, and he is seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instructionand admonition, or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness toyield to persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when byprudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away by his success, butacting moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in theevent. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and thestrain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of thefortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I say,leave.

And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I wasjust now speaking.

Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and melodies,we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?

I suppose not.

Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners andcomplex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed curiously-harmonisedinstruments?

Certainly not.

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

Clearly not.

There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and theshepherds may have a pipe in the country.

That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.

The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments isnot at all strange, I said.

Not at all, he replied.

And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the State,which not long ago we termed luxurious.

And we have done wisely, he replied.

Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to harmonies,rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be subject to the same rules,for we ought not to seek out complex systems of metre, or metres of every kind,but rather to discover what rhythms are the expressions of a courageous andharmonious life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt the foot and themelody to words having a like spirit, not the words to the foot and melody. Tosay what these rhythms are will be your duty—you must teach me them, asyou have already taught me the harmonies.

But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are somethree principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are framed, just as insounds there are four notes (i.e. the four notes of the tetrachord.) out ofwhich all the harmonies are composed; that is an observation which I have made.But of what sort of lives they are severally the imitations I am unable to say.

Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he will tell us whatrhythms are expressive of meanness, or insolence, or fury, or otherunworthiness, and what are to be reserved for the expression of oppositefeelings. And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioninga complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he arranged them insome manner which I do not quite understand, making the rhythms equal in therise and fall of the foot, long and short alternating; and, unless I ammistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as of a trochaic rhythm, and assignedto them short and long quantities. Also in some cases he appeared to praise orcensure the movement of the foot quite as much as the rhythm; or perhaps acombination of the two; for I am not certain what he meant. These matters,however, as I was saying, had better be referred to Damon himself, for theanalysis of the subject would be difficult, you know? (Socrates expresseshimself carelessly in accordance with his assumed ignorance of the details ofthe subject. In the first part of the sentence he appears to be speaking ofpaeonic rhythms which are in the ratio of 3/2; in the second part, of dactylicand anapaestic rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/1; in the last clause, ofiambic and trochaic rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/2 or 2/1.)

Rather so, I should say.

But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence of grace is aneffect of good or bad rhythm.

None at all.

And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a good and bad style;and that harmony and discord in like manner follow style; for our principle isthat rhythm and harmony are regulated by the words, and not the words by them.

Just so, he said, they should follow the words.

And will not the words and the character of the style depend on the temper ofthe soul?


And everything else on the style?


Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend onsimplicity,—I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly orderedmind and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism forfolly?

Very true, he replied.

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

They must.

And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and constructive artare full of them,—weaving, embroidery, architecture, and every kind ofmanufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable,—in all of them there isgrace or the absence of grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious motionare nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony are thetwin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their likeness.

That is quite true, he said.

But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets only to berequired by us to express the image of the good in their works, on pain, ifthey do anything else, of expulsion from our State? Or is the same control tobe extended to other artists, and are they also to be prohibited fromexhibiting the opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness andindecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts; and is he whocannot conform to this rule of ours to be prevented from practising his art inour State, lest the taste of our citizens be corrupted by him? We would nothave our guardians grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in some noxiouspasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb and flower day byday, little by little, until they silently gather a festering mass ofcorruption in their own soul. Let our artists rather be those who are gifted todiscern the true nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our youthdwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good ineverything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eyeand ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly drawthe soul from earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty ofreason.

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

And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent instrumentthan any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inwardplaces of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and makingthe soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educatedungraceful; and also because he who has received this true education of theinner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature,and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into hissoul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate thebad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reasonwhy; and when reason comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whomhis education has made him long familiar.

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

Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the lettersof the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring sizes andcombinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they occupy a spacelarge or small, but everywhere eager to make them out; and not thinkingourselves perfect in the art of reading until we recognise them wherever theyare found:


Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or in a mirror,only when we know the letters themselves; the same art and study giving us theknowledge of both:


Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we have to educate,can ever become musical until we and they know the essential forms oftemperance, courage, liberality, magnificence, and their kindred, as well asthe contrary forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise them and theirimages wherever they are found, not slighting them either in small things orgreat, but believing them all to be within the sphere of one art and study.

Most assuredly.

And when a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form, and the two arecast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye tosee it?

The fairest indeed.

And the fairest is also the loveliest?

That may be assumed.

And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with theloveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?

That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there be anymerely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and will love all thesame.

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

How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the use of hisfaculties quite as much as pain.

Or any affinity to virtue in general?

None whatever.

Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?

Yes, the greatest.

And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sensual love?

No, nor a madder.

Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order—temperate and harmonious?

Quite true, he said.

Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?

Certainly not.

Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come near the loverand his beloved; neither of them can have any part in it if their love is ofthe right sort?

No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.

Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you would make a law tothe effect that a friend should use no other familiarity to his love than afather would use to his son, and then only for a noble purpose, and he mustfirst have the other’s consent; and this rule is to limit him in all hisintercourse, and he is never to be seen going further, or, if he exceeds, he isto be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.

I quite agree, he said.

Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end ofmusic if not the love of beauty?

I agree, he said.

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


Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in itshould be careful and should continue through life. Now my belief is,—andthis is a matter upon which I should like to have your opinion in confirmationof my own, but my own belief is,—not that the good body by any bodilyexcellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that the good soul, by herown excellence, improves the body as far as this may be possible. What do yousay?

Yes, I agree.

Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right in handing overthe more particular care of the body; and in order to avoid prolixity we willnow only give the general outlines of the subject.

Very good.

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

Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian to take care ofhim is ridiculous indeed.

But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in training for thegreat contest of all—are they not?

Yes, he said.

And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?

Why not?

I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is but a sleepysort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you not observe that theseathletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to most dangerous illnesses ifthey depart, in ever so slight a degree, from their customary regimen?

Yes, I do.

Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for our warriorathletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the utmostkeenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of summer heat andwinter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign, they must notbe liable to break down in health.

That is my view.

The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple music which wewere just now describing.

How so?

Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our music, is simple andgood; and especially the military gymnastic.

What do you mean?

My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at theirfeasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers’ fare; they have no fish,although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not allowedboiled meats but only roast, which is the food most convenient for soldiers,requiring only that they should light a fire, and not involving the trouble ofcarrying about pots and pans.


And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere mentionedin Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular; all professionalathletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good condition should takenothing of the kind.

Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.

Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements ofSicilian cookery?

I think not.

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

Certainly not.

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

Certainly not.

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


There complexity engendered licence, and here disease; whereas simplicity inmusic was the parent of temperance in the soul; and simplicity in gymnastic ofhealth in the body.

Most true, he said.

But when intemperance and diseases multiply in a State, halls of justice andmedicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the lawyergive themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not only theslaves but the freemen of a city take about them.

Of course.

And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and disgraceful state ofeducation than this, that not only artisans and the meaner sort of people needthe skill of first-rate physicians and judges, but also those who would professto have had a liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and a great sign ofwant of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad for his law andphysic because he has none of his own at home, and must therefore surrenderhimself into the hands of other men whom he makes lords and judges over him?

Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.

Would you say ‘most,’ I replied, when you consider that there is afurther stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long litigant,passing all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff or defendant, but isactually led by his bad taste to pride himself on his litigiousness; heimagines that he is a master in dishonesty; able to take every crooked turn,and wriggle into and out of every hole, bending like a withy and getting out ofthe way of justice: and all for what?—in order to gain small points notworth mentioning, he not knowing that so to order his life as to be able to dowithout a napping judge is a far higher and nobler sort of thing. Is not thatstill more disgraceful?

Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.

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

Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and newfangled names todiseases.

Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the daysof Asclepius; and this I infer from the circumstance that the hero Eurypylus,after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine wellbesprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainlyinflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the Trojan war do notblame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke Patroclus, who is treatinghis case.

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

Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former days, as iscommonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius did notpractise our present system of medicine, which may be said to educate diseases.But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by acombination of training and doctoring found out a way of torturing first andchiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.

How was that? he said.

By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which heperpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he passed hisentire life as a valetudinarian; he could do nothing but attend upon himself,and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything from his usualregimen, and so dying hard, by the help of science he struggled on to old age.

A rare reward of his skill!

Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understoodthat, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in valetudinarian arts, theomission arose, not from ignorance or inexperience of such a branch ofmedicine, but because he knew that in all well-ordered states every individualhas an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no leisure tospend in continually being ill. This we remark in the case of the artisan, but,ludicrously enough, do not apply the same rule to people of the richer sort.

How do you mean? he said.

I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough andready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife,—these are hisremedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tellshim that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, hereplies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in alife which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customaryemployment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, heresumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does hisbusiness, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has no more trouble.

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

Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there be in his lifeif he were deprived of his occupation?

Quite true, he said.

But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say that he has anyspecially appointed work which he must perform, if he would live.

He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.

Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man has alivelihood he should practise virtue?

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

Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but rather askourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he livewithout it? And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a further question,whether this dieting of disorders, which is an impediment to the application ofthe mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not equally stand in theway of the sentiment of Phocylides?

Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive care of the body,when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the practice ofvirtue.

Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the management of ahouse, an army, or an office of state; and, what is most important of all,irreconcileable with any kind of study or thought orself-reflection—there is a constant suspicion that headache and giddinessare to be ascribed to philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial ofvirtue in the higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancyingthat he is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of hisbody.

Yes, likely enough.

And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the powerof his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy constitution andhabits of life, had a definite ailment; such as these he cured by purges andoperations, and bade them live as usual, herein consulting the interests of theState; but bodies which disease had penetrated through and through he would nothave attempted to cure by gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he didnot want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathersbegetting weaker sons;—if a man was not able to live in the ordinary wayhe had no business to cure him; for such a cure would have been of no useeither to himself, or to the State.

Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.

Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons. Note that theywere heroes in the days of old and practised the medicines of which I amspeaking at the siege of Troy: You will remember how, when Pandarus woundedMenelaus, they

‘Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothingremedies,’

but they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink inthe case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus; the remedies, asthey conceived, were enough to heal any man who before he was wounded washealthy and regular in his habits; and even though he did happen to drink aposset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same. But they would havenothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects, whose lives were of nouse either to themselves or others; the art of medicine was not designed fortheir good, and though they were as rich as Midas, the sons of Asclepius wouldhave declined to attend them.

They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.

Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar disobeying ourbehests, although they acknowledge that Asclepius was the son of Apollo, sayalso that he was bribed into healing a rich man who was at the point of death,and for this reason he was struck by lightning. But we, in accordance with theprinciple already affirmed by us, will not believe them when they tell usboth;—if he was the son of a god, we maintain that he was not avaricious;or, if he was avaricious, he was not the son of a god.

All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a question to you:Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are not the best thosewho have treated the greatest number of constitutions good and bad? and are notthe best judges in like manner those who are acquainted with all sorts of moralnatures?

Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do you knowwhom I think good?

Will you tell me?

I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same question you join twothings which are not the same.

How so? he asked.

Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skilful physiciansare those who, from their youth upwards, have combined with the knowledge oftheir art the greatest experience of disease; they had better not be robust inhealth, and should have had all manner of diseases in their own persons. Forthe body, as I conceive, is not the instrument with which they cure the body;in that case we could not allow them ever to be or to have been sickly; butthey cure the body with the mind, and the mind which has become and is sick cancure nothing.

That is very true, he said.

But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he ought nottherefore to have been trained among vicious minds, and to have associated withthem from youth upwards, and to have gone through the whole calendar of crime,only in order that he may quickly infer the crimes of others as he might theirbodily diseases from his own self-consciousness; the honourable mind which isto form a healthy judgment should have had no experience or contamination ofevil habits when young. And this is the reason why in youth good men oftenappear to be simple, and are easily practised upon by the dishonest, becausethey have no examples of what evil is in their own souls.

Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.

Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned toknow evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of thenature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personalexperience.

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

Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer to yourquestion); for he is good who has a good soul. But the cunning and suspiciousnature of which we spoke,—he who has committed many crimes, and fancieshimself to be a master in wickedness, when he is amongst his fellows, iswonderful in the precautions which he takes, because he judges of them byhimself: but when he gets into the company of men of virtue, who have theexperience of age, he appears to be a fool again, owing to his unseasonablesuspicions; he cannot recognise an honest man, because he has no pattern ofhonesty in himself; at the same time, as the bad are more numerous than thegood, and he meets with them oftener, he thinks himself, and is by othersthought to be, rather wise than foolish.

Most true, he said.

Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this man, but theother; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a virtuous nature, educated bytime, will acquire a knowledge both of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and notthe vicious, man has wisdom—in my opinion.

And in mine also.

This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you willsanction in your state. They will minister to better natures, giving healthboth of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they willleave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end tothemselves.

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

And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music which, as wesaid, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.


And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise thesimple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some extremecase.

That I quite believe.

The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended to stimulate thespirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength; he will not,like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develope his muscles.

Very right, he said.

Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really designed, as is oftensupposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the training ofthe body.

What then is the real object of them?

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

How can that be? he asked.

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

In what way shown? he said.

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

Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of asavage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is goodfor him.

Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightlyeducated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to becomehard and brutal.

That I quite think.

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


And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?


And both should be in harmony?

Beyond question.

And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?


And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?

Very true.

And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul throughthe funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs of which wewere just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in warbling and thedelights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit whichis in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle anduseless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing process, in the nextstage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cutout the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble warrior.

Very true.

If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedilyaccomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music weakening thespirit renders him excitable;—on the least provocation he flames up atonce, and is speedily extinguished; instead of having spirit he grows irritableand passionate and is quite impracticable.


And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder,and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the highcondition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice theman that he was.


And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with the Muses,does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no taste ofany sort of learning or enquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull andblind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his senses notbeing purged of their mists?

True, he said.

And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using theweapon of persuasion,—he is like a wild beast, all violence andfierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all ignoranceand evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.

That is quite true, he said.

And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the otherthe philosophical, some God, as I should say, has given mankind two artsanswering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and body), in order thatthese two principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be relaxed ordrawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.

That appears to be the intention.

And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest proportions, and bestattempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician andharmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.

You are quite right, Socrates.

And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if thegovernment is to last.

Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.

Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where would be the useof going into further details about the dances of our citizens, or about theirhunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian contests? For these allfollow the general principle, and having found that, we shall have nodifficulty in discovering them.

I dare say that there will be no difficulty.

Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not ask who are tobe rulers and who subjects?


There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.


And that the best of these must rule.

That is also clear.

Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to husbandry?


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


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


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

To be sure.

And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as having the sameinterests with himself, and that of which the good or evil fortune is supposedby him at any time most to affect his own?

Very true, he replied.

Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the guardians those who intheir whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for the good oftheir country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is against her interests.

Those are the right men.

And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that we may see whetherthey preserve their resolution, and never, under the influence either of forceor enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to the State.

How cast off? he said.

I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a man’s mindeither with his will or against his will; with his will when he gets rid of afalsehood and learns better, against his will whenever he is deprived of atruth.

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

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

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

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

Still, he replied, I do not understand you.

I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the tragedians. I only meanthat some men are changed by persuasion and that others forget; argument stealsaway the hearts of one class, and time of the other; and this I call theft. Nowyou understand me?


Those again who are forced, are those whom the violence of some pain or griefcompels to change their opinion.

I understand, he said, and you are quite right.

And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those who change theirminds either under the softer influence of pleasure, or the sterner influenceof fear?

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

Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are the best guardiansof their own conviction that what they think the interest of the State is to bethe rule of their lives. We must watch them from their youth upwards, and makethem perform actions in which they are most likely to forget or to be deceived,and he who remembers and is not deceived is to be selected, and he who fails inthe trial is to be rejected. That will be the way?


And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for them, inwhich they will be made to give further proof of the same qualities.

Very right, he replied.

And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments—that is the thirdsort of test—and see what will be their behaviour: like those who takecolts amid noise and tumult to see if they are of a timid nature, so must wetake our youth amid terrors of some kind, and again pass them into pleasures,and prove them more thoroughly than gold is proved in the furnace, that we maydiscover whether they are armed against all enchantments, and of a noblebearing always, good guardians of themselves and of the music which they havelearned, and retaining under all circumstances a rhythmical and harmoniousnature, such as will be most serviceable to the individual and to the State.And he who at every age, as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out ofthe trial victorious and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of theState; he shall be honoured in life and death, and shall receive sepulture andother memorials of honour, the greatest that we have to give. But him whofails, we must reject. I am inclined to think that this is the sort of way inwhich our rulers and guardians should be chosen and appointed. I speakgenerally, and not with any pretension to exactness.

And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.

And perhaps the word ‘guardian’ in the fullest sense ought to beapplied to this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies andmaintain peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the will,or the others the power, to harm us. The young men whom we before calledguardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of theprinciples of the rulers.

I agree with you, he said.

How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we latelyspoke—just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that bepossible, and at any rate the rest of the city?

What sort of lie? he said.

Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale (Laws) of what has oftenoccurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have made the worldbelieve,) though not in our time, and I do not know whether such an event couldever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it did.

How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!

You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have heard.

Speak, he said, and fear not.

Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in theface, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I propose tocommunicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly tothe people. They are to be told that their youth was a dream, and the educationand training which they received from us, an appearance only; in reality duringall that time they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth, wherethey themselves and their arms and appurtenances were manufactured; when theywere completed, the earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their countrybeing their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good,and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard aschildren of the earth and their own brothers.

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

True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told you half. Citizens,we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed youdifferently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition ofthese he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; othershe has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmenand craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generallybe preserved in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, agolden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a goldenson. And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else,that there is nothing which they should so anxiously guard, or of which theyare to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They shouldobserve what elements mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden orsilver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders atransposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towardsthe child because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman orartisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of goldor silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries.For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it willbe destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizensbelieve in it?

Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishingthis; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons’sons, and posterity after them.

I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will makethem care more for the city and for one another. Enough, however, of thefiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while we arm ourearth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of their rulers. Letthem look round and select a spot whence they can best suppress insurrection,if any prove refractory within, and also defend themselves against enemies, wholike wolves may come down on the fold from without; there let them encamp, andwhen they have encamped, let them sacrifice to the proper Gods and preparetheir dwellings.

Just so, he said.

And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against the cold of winterand the heat of summer.

I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.

Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not of shop-keepers.

What is the difference? he said.

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

Truly monstrous, he said.

And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries, being strongerthan our citizens, may not grow to be too much for them and become savagetyrants instead of friends and allies?

Yes, great care should be taken.

And would not a really good education furnish the best safeguard?

But they are well-educated already, he replied.

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

Very true, he replied.

And not only their education, but their habitations, and all that belongs tothem, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as guardians, nortempt them to prey upon the other citizens. Any man of sense must acknowledgethat.

He must.

Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to realizeour idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have any property ofhis own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should they have a privatehouse or store closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisionsshould be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men oftemperance and courage; they should agree to receive from the citizens a fixedrate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year and no more; and they willgo to mess and live together like soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we willtell them that they have from God; the diviner metal is within them, and theyhave therefore no need of the dross which is current among men, and ought notto pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner metalhas been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled. And theyalone of all the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be underthe same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will betheir salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State. But should theyever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will becomehousekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants insteadof allies of the other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and beingplotted against, they will pass their whole life in much greater terror ofinternal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to themselves andto the rest of the State, will be at hand. For all which reasons may we not saythat thus shall our State be ordered, and that these shall be the regulationsappointed by us for guardians concerning their houses and all other matters?

Yes, said Glaucon.

Here Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer, Socrates, said he,if a person were to say that you are making these people miserable, and thatthey are the cause of their own unhappiness; the city in fact belongs to them,but they are none the better for it; whereas other men acquire lands, and buildlarge and handsome houses, and have everything handsome about them, offeringsacrifices to the gods on their own account, and practising hospitality;moreover, as you were saying just now, they have gold and silver, and all thatis usual among the favourites of fortune; but our poor citizens are no betterthan mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting guard?

Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not paid in additionto their food, like other men; and therefore they cannot, if they would, take ajourney of pleasure; they have no money to spend on a mistress or any otherluxurious fancy, which, as the world goes, is thought to be happiness; and manyother accusations of the same nature might be added.

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

You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?


If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that we shall find theanswer. And our answer will be that, even as they are, our guardians may verylikely be the happiest of men; but that our aim in founding the State was notthe disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness ofthe whole; we thought that in a State which is ordered with a view to the goodof the whole we should be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-orderedState injustice: and, having found them, we might then decide which of the twois the happier. At present, I take it, we are fashioning the happy State, notpiecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole; andby-and-by we will proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that wewere painting a statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not putthe most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the body—theeyes ought to be purple, but you have made them black—to him we mightfairly answer, Sir, you would not surely have us beautify the eyes to such adegree that they are no longer eyes; consider rather whether, by giving thisand the other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful. Andso I say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort ofhappiness which will make them anything but guardians; for we too can clotheour husbandmen in royal apparel, and set crowns of gold on their heads, and bidthem till the ground as much as they like, and no more. Our potters also mightbe allowed to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside, passing round thewinecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and working at pottery onlyas much as they like; in this way we might make every class happy—andthen, as you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do not put this ideainto our heads; for, if we listen to you, the husbandman will be no longer ahusbandman, the potter will cease to be a potter, and no one will have thecharacter of any distinct class in the State. Now this is not of muchconsequence where the corruption of society, and pretension to be what you arenot, is confined to cobblers; but when the guardians of the laws and of thegovernment are only seeming and not real guardians, then see how they turn theState upside down; and on the other hand they alone have the power of givingorder and happiness to the State. We mean our guardians to be true saviours andnot the destroyers of the State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasantsat a festival, who are enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who aredoing their duty to the State. But, if so, we mean different things, and he isspeaking of something which is not a State. And therefore we must considerwhether in appointing our guardians we would look to their greatest happinessindividually, or whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside inthe State as a whole. But if the latter be the truth, then the guardians andauxiliaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled or induced todo their own work in the best way. And thus the whole State will grow up in anoble order, and the several classes will receive the proportion of happinesswhich nature assigns to them.

I think that you are quite right.

I wonder whether you will agree with another remark which occurs to me.

What may that be?

There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.

What are they?

Wealth, I said, and poverty.

How do they act?

The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will he, think you, anylonger take the same pains with his art?

Certainly not.

He will grow more and more indolent and careless?

Very true.

And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?

Yes; he greatly deteriorates.

But, on the other hand, if he has no money, and cannot provide himself withtools or instruments, he will not work equally well himself, nor will he teachhis sons or apprentices to work equally well.

Certainly not.

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

That is evident.

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

What evils?

Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence, andthe other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.

That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to know, Socrates, howour city will be able to go to war, especially against an enemy who is rich andpowerful, if deprived of the sinews of war.

There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to war with one suchenemy; but there is no difficulty where there are two of them.

How so? he asked.

In the first place, I said, if we have to fight, our side will be trainedwarriors fighting against an army of rich men.

That is true, he said.

And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who was perfect in hisart would easily be a match for two stout and well-to-do gentlemen who were notboxers?

Hardly, if they came upon him at once.

What, now, I said, if he were able to run away and then turn and strike at theone who first came up? And supposing he were to do this several times under theheat of a scorching sun, might he not, being an expert, overturn more than onestout personage?

Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in that.

And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in the science andpractise of boxing than they have in military qualities.

Likely enough.

Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight with two or threetimes their own number?

I agree with you, for I think you right.

And suppose that, before engaging, our citizens send an embassy to one of thetwo cities, telling them what is the truth: Silver and gold we neither have norare permitted to have, but you may; do you therefore come and help us in war,and take the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these words, wouldchoose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with the dogs on theirside, against fat and tender sheep?

That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the poor State if thewealth of many States were to be gathered into one.

But how simple of you to use the term State at all of any but our own!

Why so?

You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not one of them is acity, but many cities, as they say in the game. For indeed any city, howeversmall, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of therich; these are at war with one another; and in either there are many smallerdivisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark if you treated them allas a single State. But if you deal with them as many, and give the wealth orpower or persons of the one to the others, you will always have a great manyfriends and not many enemies. And your State, while the wise order which hasnow been prescribed continues to prevail in her, will be the greatest ofStates, I do not mean to say in reputation or appearance, but in deed andtruth, though she number not more than a thousand defenders. A single Statewhich is her equal you will hardly find, either among Hellenes or barbarians,though many that appear to be as great and many times greater.

That is most true, he said.

And what, I said, will be the best limit for our rulers to fix when they areconsidering the size of the State and the amount of territory which they are toinclude, and beyond which they will not go?

What limit would you propose?

I would allow the State to increase so far as is consistent with unity; that, Ithink, is the proper limit.

Very good, he said.

Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be conveyed to ourguardians: Let our city be accounted neither large nor small, but one andself-sufficing.

And surely, said he, this is not a very severe order which we impose upon them.

And the other, said I, of which we were speaking before is lighterstill,—I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of the guardians wheninferior, and of elevating into the rank of guardians the offspring of thelower classes, when naturally superior. The intention was, that, in the case ofthe citizens generally, each individual should be put to the use for whichnature intended him, one to one work, and then every man would do his ownbusiness, and be one and not many; and so the whole city would be one and notmany.

Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.

The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adeimantus, are not, as mightbe supposed, a number of great principles, but trifles all, if care be taken,as the saying is, of the one great thing,—a thing, however, which I wouldrather call, not great, but sufficient for our purpose.

What may that be? he asked.

Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well educated, and growinto sensible men, they will easily see their way through all these, as well asother matters which I omit; such, for example, as marriage, the possession ofwomen and the procreation of children, which will all follow the generalprinciple that friends have all things in common, as the proverb says.

That will be the best way of settling them.

Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with accumulating forcelike a wheel. For good nurture and education implant good constitutions, andthese good constitutions taking root in a good education improve more and more,and this improvement affects the breed in man as in other animals.

Very possibly, he said.

Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the attention of ourrulers should be directed,—that music and gymnastic be preserved in theiroriginal form, and no innovation made. They must do their utmost to maintainthem intact. And when any one says that mankind most regard

‘The newest song which the singers have,’

they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs, but a new kind ofsong; and this ought not to be praised, or conceived to be the meaning of thepoet; for any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, andought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite believehim;—he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of theState always change with them.

Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon’s and yourown.

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

Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.

Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it appearsharmless.

Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that little by little thisspirit of licence, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates into manners andcustoms; whence, issuing with greater force, it invades contracts between manand man, and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in utterrecklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an overthrow of all rights, privateas well as public.

Is that true? I said.

That is my belief, he replied.

Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained from the first in a strictersystem, for if amusements become lawless, and the youths themselves becomelawless, they can never grow up into well-conducted and virtuous citizens.

Very true, he said.

And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the help of music havegained the habit of good order, then this habit of order, in a manner howunlike the lawless play of the others! will accompany them in all their actionsand be a principle of growth to them, and if there be any fallen places in theState will raise them up again.

Very true, he said.

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

What do you mean?

I mean such things as these:—when the young are to be silent before theirelders; how they are to show respect to them by standing and making them sit;what honour is due to parents; what garments or shoes are to be worn; the modeof dressing the hair; deportment and manners in general. You would agree withme?


But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters,—Idoubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments about themlikely to be lasting.


It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a man,will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?

To be sure.

Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be good, and may bethe reverse of good?

That is not to be denied.

And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate further aboutthem.

Naturally enough, he replied.

Well, and about the business of the agora, and the ordinary dealings betweenman and man, or again about agreements with artisans; about insult and injury,or the commencement of actions, and the appointment of juries, what would yousay? there may also arise questions about any impositions and exactions ofmarket and harbour dues which may be required, and in general about theregulations of markets, police, harbours, and the like. But, oh heavens! shallwe condescend to legislate on any of these particulars?

I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them on good men;what regulations are necessary they will find out soon enough for themselves.

Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws which wehave given them.

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

You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having noself-restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?


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

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

Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst enemywho tells them the truth, which is simply that, unless they give up eating anddrinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amuletnor any other remedy will avail.

Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a passion with a manwho tells you what is right.

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

Assuredly not.

Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like the men whom I wasjust now describing. For are there not ill-ordered States in which the citizensare forbidden under pain of death to alter the constitution; and yet he whomost sweetly courts those who live under this regime and indulges them andfawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating and gratifying their humours isheld to be a great and good statesman—do not these States resemble thepersons whom I was describing?

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

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

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

What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them. When a mancannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure declare that he isfour cubits high, can he help believing what they say?

Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.

Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as a play,trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing; they are alwaysfancying that by legislation they will make an end of frauds in contracts, andthe other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that they are inreality cutting off the heads of a hydra?

Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.

I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble himself with thisclass of enactments whether concerning laws or the constitution either in anill-ordered or in a well-ordered State; for in the former they are quiteuseless, and in the latter there will be no difficulty in devising them; andmany of them will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.

What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of legislation?

Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the God of Delphi, there remains theordering of the greatest and noblest and chiefest things of all.

Which are they? he said.

The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire service of gods,demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the repositories of the dead, andthe rites which have to be observed by him who would propitiate the inhabitantsof the world below. These are matters of which we are ignorant ourselves, andas founders of a city we should be unwise in trusting them to any interpreterbut our ancestral deity. He is the god who sits in the centre, on the navel ofthe earth, and he is the interpreter of religion to all mankind.

You are right, and we will do as you propose.

But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where. Now thatour city has been made habitable, light a candle and search, and get yourbrother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help, and let us seewhere in it we can discover justice and where injustice, and in what theydiffer from one another, and which of them the man who would be happy shouldhave for his portion, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.

Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search yourself, saying that foryou not to help justice in her need would be an impiety?

I do not deny that I said so, and as you remind me, I will be as good as myword; but you must join.

We will, he replied.

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

That is most certain.

And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate and just.

That is likewise clear.

And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one which is notfound will be the residue?

Very good.

If there were four things, and we were searching for one of them, wherever itmight be, the one sought for might be known to us from the first, and therewould be no further trouble; or we might know the other three first, and thenthe fourth would clearly be the one left.

Very true, he said.

And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues, which are alsofour in number?


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

What is that?

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

Very true.

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


And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?

Of course.

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

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

Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a knowledge whichcounsels for the best about wooden implements?

Certainly not.

Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots, I said, nor aspossessing any other similar knowledge?

Not by reason of any of them, he said.

Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth; that would givethe city the name of agricultural?


Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently-founded State amongany of the citizens which advises, not about any particular thing in the State,but about the whole, and considers how a State can best deal with itself andwith other States?

There certainly is.

And what is this knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.

It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and is found among those whomwe were just now describing as perfect guardians.

And what is the name which the city derives from the possession of this sort ofknowledge?

The name of good in counsel and truly wise.

And will there be in our city more of these true guardians or more smiths?

The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.

Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who receive a namefrom the profession of some kind of knowledge?

Much the smallest.

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

Most true.

Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one of the fourvirtues has somehow or other been discovered.

And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered, he replied.

Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of courage, and inwhat part that quality resides which gives the name of courageous to the State.

How do you mean?

Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or cowardly, will bethinking of the part which fights and goes out to war on the State’sbehalf.

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

The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly, but theircourage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the effect of making thecity either the one or the other.

Certainly not.

The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself which preservesunder all circumstances that opinion about the nature of things to be fearedand not to be feared in which our legislator educated them; and this is whatyou term courage.

I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do not think that Iperfectly understand you.

I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.

Salvation of what?

Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are and of whatnature, which the law implants through education; and I mean by the words‘under all circumstances’ to intimate that in pleasure or in pain,or under the influence of desire or fear, a man preserves, and does not losethis opinion. Shall I give you an illustration?

If you please.

You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for making the truesea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour first; this they prepare anddress with much care and pains, in order that the white ground may take thepurple hue in full perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever is dyedin this manner becomes a fast colour, and no washing either with lyes orwithout them can take away the bloom. But, when the ground has not been dulyprepared, you will have noticed how poor is the look either of purple or of anyother colour.

Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and ridiculous appearance.

Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was in selecting oursoldiers, and educating them in music and gymnastic; we were contrivinginfluences which would prepare them to take the dye of the laws in perfection,and the colour of their opinion about dangers and of every other opinion was tobe indelibly fixed by their nurture and training, not to be washed away by suchpotent lyes as pleasure—mightier agent far in washing the soul than anysoda or lye; or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the mightiest of all othersolvents. And this sort of universal saving power of true opinion in conformitywith law about real and false dangers I call and maintain to be courage, unlessyou disagree.

But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to exclude mereuninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast or of a slave—this, inyour opinion, is not the courage which the law ordains, and ought to haveanother name.

Most certainly.

Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?

Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words ‘of a citizen,’you will not be far wrong;—hereafter, if you like, we will carry theexamination further, but at present we are seeking not for courage but justice;and for the purpose of our enquiry we have said enough.

You are right, he replied.

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

Very true.

Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about temperance?

I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I desire thatjustice should be brought to light and temperance lost sight of; and thereforeI wish that you would do me the favour of considering temperance first.

Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing your request.

Then consider, he said.

Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see, the virtue oftemperance has more of the nature of harmony and symphony than the preceding.

How so? he asked.

Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures anddesires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of ‘a man beinghis own master;’ and other traces of the same notion may be found inlanguage.

No doubt, he said.

There is something ridiculous in the expression ‘master ofhimself;’ for the master is also the servant and the servant the master;and in all these modes of speaking the same person is denoted.


The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a better and also aworse principle; and when the better has the worse under control, then a man issaid to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise: but when, owing toevil education or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller,is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse—in this case he is blamedand is called the slave of self and unprincipled.

Yes, there is reason in that.

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

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

Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures and desires andpains are generally found in children and women and servants, and in thefreemen so called who are of the lowest and more numerous class.

Certainly, he said.

Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason, and are under theguidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found only in a few, and those thebest born and best educated.

Very true.

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

That I perceive, he said.

Then if there be any city which may be described as master of its own pleasuresand desires, and master of itself, ours may claim such a designation?

Certainly, he replied.

It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?


And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be agreed as to thequestion who are to rule, that again will be our State?


And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which class willtemperance be found—in the rulers or in the subjects?

In both, as I should imagine, he replied.

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

Why so?

Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of which resides ina part only, the one making the State wise and the other valiant; not sotemperance, which extends to the whole, and runs through all the notes of thescale, and produces a harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the middleclass, whether you suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom or power ornumbers or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may we deem temperance tobe the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior, as to the right torule of either, both in states and individuals.

I entirely agree with you.

And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues to have beendiscovered in our State. The last of those qualities which make a statevirtuous must be justice, if we only knew what that was.

The inference is obvious.

The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we should surround thecover, and look sharp that justice does not steal away, and pass out of sightand escape us; for beyond a doubt she is somewhere in this country: watchtherefore and strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see her first, let meknow.

Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a follower who has justeyes enough to see what you show him—that is about as much as I am goodfor.

Offer up a prayer with me and follow.

I will, but you must show me the way.

Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing; still we mustpush on.

Let us push on.

Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a track, and Ibelieve that the quarry will not escape.

Good news, he said.

Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.

Why so?

Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago, there was justicetumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her; nothing could be moreridiculous. Like people who go about looking for what they have in theirhands—that was the way with us—we looked not at what we wereseeking, but at what was far off in the distance; and therefore, I suppose, wemissed her.

What do you mean?

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

I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.

Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You remember theoriginal principle which we were always laying down at the foundation of theState, that one man should practise one thing only, the thing to which hisnature was best adapted;—now justice is this principle or a part of it.

Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.

Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one’s own business, and notbeing a busybody; we said so again and again, and many others have said thesame to us.

Yes, we said so.

Then to do one’s own business in a certain way may be assumed to bejustice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?

I cannot, but I should like to be told.

Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains in the State whenthe other virtues of temperance and courage and wisdom are abstracted; and,that this is the ultimate cause and condition of the existence of all of them,and while remaining in them is also their preservative; and we were saying thatif the three were discovered by us, justice would be the fourth or remainingone.

That follows of necessity.

If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities by its presencecontributes most to the excellence of the State, whether the agreement ofrulers and subjects, or the preservation in the soldiers of the opinion whichthe law ordains about the true nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness inthe rulers, or whether this other which I am mentioning, and which is found inchildren and women, slave and freeman, artisan, ruler, subject,—thequality, I mean, of every one doing his own work, and not being a busybody,would claim the palm—the question is not so easily answered.

Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying which.

Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own work appears tocompete with the other political virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage.

Yes, he said.

And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?


Let us look at the question from another point of view: Are not the rulers in aState those to whom you would entrust the office of determining suits at law?


And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may neither take whatis another’s, nor be deprived of what is his own?

Yes; that is their principle.

Which is a just principle?


Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the having and doing whatis a man’s own, and belongs to him?

Very true.

Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose a carpenter to bedoing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler of a carpenter; and suppose themto exchange their implements or their duties, or the same person to be doingthe work of both, or whatever be the change; do you think that any great harmwould result to the State?

Not much.

But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader,having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of hisfollowers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class ofwarriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he isunfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or whenone man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I think you willagree with me in saying that this interchange and this meddling of one withanother is the ruin of the State.

Most true.

Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of onewith another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to theState, and may be most justly termed evil-doing?


And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one’s own city would be termedby you injustice?


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

I agree with you.

We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial, this conceptionof justice be verified in the individual as well as in the State, there will beno longer any room for doubt; if it be not verified, we must have a freshenquiry. First let us complete the old investigation, which we began, as youremember, under the impression that, if we could previously examine justice onthe larger scale, there would be less difficulty in discerning her in theindividual. That larger example appeared to be the State, and accordingly weconstructed as good a one as we could, knowing well that in the good Statejustice would be found. Let the discovery which we made be now applied to theindividual—if they agree, we shall be satisfied; or, if there be adifference in the individual, we will come back to the State and have anothertrial of the theory. The friction of the two when rubbed together may possiblystrike a light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is thenrevealed we will fix in our souls.

That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.

I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less, are called by the samename, are they like or unlike in so far as they are called the same?

Like, he replied.

The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the justState?

He will.

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

True, he said.

And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same three principlesin his own soul which are found in the State; and he may be rightly describedin the same terms, because he is affected in the same manner?

Certainly, he said.

Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easyquestion—whether the soul has these three principles or not?

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

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

May we not be satisfied with that? he said;—under the circumstances, I amquite content.

I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.

Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.

Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are the sameprinciples and habits which there are in the State; and that from theindividual they pass into the State?—how else can they come there? Takethe quality of passion or spirit;—it would be ridiculous to imagine thatthis quality, when found in States, is not derived from the individuals who aresupposed to possess it, e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general thenorthern nations; and the same may be said of the love of knowledge, which isthe special characteristic of our part of the world, or of the love of money,which may, with equal truth, be attributed to the Phoenicians and Egyptians.

Exactly so, he said.

There is no difficulty in understanding this.

None whatever.

But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask whether theseprinciples are three or one; whether, that is to say, we learn with one part ofour nature, are angry with another, and with a third part desire thesatisfaction of our natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes intoplay in each sort of action—to determine that is the difficulty.

Yes, he said; there lies the difficulty.

Then let us now try and determine whether they are the same or different.

How can we? he asked.

I replied as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be acted upon in thesame part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways;and therefore whenever this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same,we know that they are really not the same, but different.


For example, I said, can the same thing be at rest and in motion at the sametime in the same part?


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

Very true.

And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw the nicedistinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops, when they spin roundwith their pegs fixed on the spot, are at rest and in motion at the same time(and he may say the same of anything which revolves in the same spot), hisobjection would not be admitted by us, because in such cases things are not atrest and in motion in the same parts of themselves; we should rather say thatthey have both an axis and a circumference, and that the axis stands still, forthere is no deviation from the perpendicular; and that the circumference goesround. But if, while revolving, the axis inclines either to the right or left,forwards or backwards, then in no point of view can they be at rest.

That is the correct mode of describing them, he replied.

Then none of these objections will confuse us, or incline us to believe thatthe same thing at the same time, in the same part or in relation to the samething, can act or be acted upon in contrary ways.

Certainly not, according to my way of thinking.

Yet, I said, that we may not be compelled to examine all such objections, andprove at length that they are untrue, let us assume their absurdity, and goforward on the understanding that hereafter, if this assumption turn out to beuntrue, all the consequences which follow shall be withdrawn.

Yes, he said, that will be the best way.

Well, I said, would you not allow that assent and dissent, desire and aversion,attraction and repulsion, are all of them opposites, whether they are regardedas active or passive (for that makes no difference in the fact of theiropposition)?

Yes, he said, they are opposites.

Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in general, and againwilling and wishing,—all these you would refer to the classes alreadymentioned. You would say—would you not?—that the soul of him whodesires is seeking after the object of his desire; or that he is drawing tohimself the thing which he wishes to possess: or again, when a person wantsanything to be given him, his mind, longing for the realization of his desire,intimates his wish to have it by a nod of assent, as if he had been asked aquestion?

Very true.

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


Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose a particularclass of desires, and out of these we will select hunger and thirst, as theyare termed, which are the most obvious of them?

Let us take that class, he said.

The object of one is food, and of the other drink?


And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the soul has of drink,and of drink only; not of drink qualified by anything else; for example, warmor cold, or much or little, or, in a word, drink of any particular sort: but ifthe thirst be accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink; or, ifaccompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be excessive, thenthe drink which is desired will be excessive; or, if not great, the quantity ofdrink will also be small: but thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure andsimple, which is the natural satisfaction of thirst, as food is of hunger?

Yes, he said; the simple desire is, as you say, in every case of the simpleobject, and the qualified desire of the qualified object.

But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard against an opponentstarting up and saying that no man desires drink only, but good drink, or foodonly, but good food; for good is the universal object of desire, and thirstbeing a desire, will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the same istrue of every other desire.

Yes, he replied, the opponent might have something to say.

Nevertheless I should still maintain, that of relatives some have a qualityattached to either term of the relation; others are simple and have theircorrelatives simple.

I do not know what you mean.

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


And the much greater to the much less?


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

Certainly, he said.

And so of more and less, and of other correlative terms, such as the double andthe half, or again, the heavier and the lighter, the swifter and the slower;and of hot and cold, and of any other relatives;—is not this true of allof them?


And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The object of science isknowledge (assuming that to be the true definition), but the object of aparticular science is a particular kind of knowledge; I mean, for example, thatthe science of house-building is a kind of knowledge which is defined anddistinguished from other kinds and is therefore termed architecture.


Because it has a particular quality which no other has?


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


Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will understand my original meaningin what I said about relatives. My meaning was, that if one term of a relationis taken alone, the other is taken alone; if one term is qualified, the otheris also qualified. I do not mean to say that relatives may not be disparate, orthat the science of health is healthy, or of disease necessarily diseased, orthat the sciences of good and evil are therefore good and evil; but only that,when the term science is no longer used absolutely, but has a qualified objectwhich in this case is the nature of health and disease, it becomes defined, andis hence called not merely science, but the science of medicine.

I quite understand, and I think as you do.

Would you not say that thirst is one of these essentially relative terms,having clearly a relation—

Yes, thirst is relative to drink.

And a certain kind of thirst is relative to a certain kind of drink; but thirsttaken alone is neither of much nor little, nor of good nor bad, nor of anyparticular kind of drink, but of drink only?


Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty, desires onlydrink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it?

That is plain.

And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink, thatmust be different from the thirsty principle which draws him like a beast todrink; for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with thesame part of itself act in contrary ways about the same.


No more than you can say that the hands of the archer push and pull the bow atthe same time, but what you say is that one hand pushes and the other pulls.

Exactly so, he replied.

And might a man be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink?

Yes, he said, it constantly happens.

And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that there wassomething in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something else forbiddinghim, which is other and stronger than the principle which bids him?

I should say so.

And the forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that which bids andattracts proceeds from passion and disease?


Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they differ from oneanother; the one with which a man reasons, we may call the rational principleof the soul, the other, with which he loves and hungers and thirsts and feelsthe flutterings of any other desire, may be termed the irrational orappetitive, the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions?

Yes, he said, we may fairly assume them to be different.

Then let us finally determine that there are two principles existing in thesoul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a third, or akin to one of thepreceding?

I should be inclined to say—akin to desire.

Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in which Iput faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one dayfrom the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside, observed some deadbodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to seethem, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled andcovered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcingthem open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take yourfill of the fair sight.

I have heard the story myself, he said.

The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with desire, asthough they were two distinct things.

Yes; that is the meaning, he said.

And are there not many other cases in which we observe that when a man’sdesires violently prevail over his reason, he reviles himself, and is angry atthe violence within him, and that in this struggle, which is like the struggleof factions in a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason;—but forthe passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires when reasondecides that she should not be opposed, is a sort of thing which I believe thatyou never observed occurring in yourself, nor, as I should imagine, in any oneelse?

Certainly not.

Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the nobler he is theless able is he to feel indignant at any suffering, such as hunger, or cold, orany other pain which the injured person may inflict upon him—these hedeems to be just, and, as I say, his anger refuses to be excited by them.

True, he said.

But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then he boils andchafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be justice; and because hesuffers hunger or cold or other pain he is only the more determined topersevere and conquer. His noble spirit will not be quelled until he eitherslays or is slain; or until he hears the voice of the shepherd, that is,reason, bidding his dog bark no more.

The illustration is perfect, he replied; and in our State, as we were saying,the auxiliaries were to be dogs, and to hear the voice of the rulers, who aretheir shepherds.

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

What point?

You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight to be a kind ofdesire, but now we should say quite the contrary; for in the conflict of thesoul spirit is arrayed on the side of the rational principle.

Most assuredly.

But a further question arises: Is passion different from reason also, or only akind of reason; in which latter case, instead of three principles in the soul,there will only be two, the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as theState was composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so maythere not be in the individual soul a third element which is passion or spirit,and when not corrupted by bad education is the natural auxiliary of reason?

Yes, he said, there must be a third.

Yes, I replied, if passion, which has already been shown to be different fromdesire, turn out also to be different from reason.

But that is easily proved:—We may observe even in young children thatthey are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born, whereas some of themnever seem to attain to the use of reason, and most of them late enough.

Excellent, I said, and you may see passion equally in brute animals, which is afurther proof of the truth of what you are saying. And we may once more appealto the words of Homer, which have been already quoted by us,

‘He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul,’

for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed the power which reasons about thebetter and worse to be different from the unreasoning anger which is rebuked byit.

Very true, he said.

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


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


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


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

That follows, of course.

We cannot but remember that the justice of the State consisted in each of thethree classes doing the work of its own class?

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

We must recollect that the individual in whom the several qualities of hisnature do their own work will be just, and will do his own work?

Yes, he said, we must remember that too.

And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of thewhole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subjectand ally?


And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and gymnastic will bringthem into accord, nerving and sustaining the reason with noble words andlessons, and moderating and soothing and civilizing the wildness of passion byharmony and rhythm?

Quite true, he said.

And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned truly to knowtheir own functions, will rule over the concupiscent, which in each of us isthe largest part of the soul and by nature most insatiable of gain; over thisthey will keep guard, lest, waxing great and strong with the fulness of bodilypleasures, as they are termed, the concupiscent soul, no longer confined to herown sphere, should attempt to enslave and rule those who are not hernatural-born subjects, and overturn the whole life of man?

Very true, he said.

Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole soul and thewhole body against attacks from without; the one counselling, and the otherfighting under his leader, and courageously executing his commands andcounsels?


And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in pleasure and in painthe commands of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear?

Right, he replied.

And him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules, and whichproclaims these commands; that part too being supposed to have a knowledge ofwhat is for the interest of each of the three parts and of the whole?


And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same elements infriendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of reason, and the twosubject ones of spirit and desire are equally agreed that reason ought to rule,and do not rebel?

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

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

That is very certain.

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

There is no difference in my opinion, he said.

Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few commonplaceinstances will satisfy us of the truth of what I am saying.

What sort of instances do you mean?

If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just State, or the man whois trained in the principles of such a State, will be less likely than theunjust to make away with a deposit of gold or silver? Would any one deny this?

No one, he replied.

Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or theft, or treacheryeither to his friends or to his country?


Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths or agreements?


No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonour his father andmother, or to fail in his religious duties?

No one.

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

Exactly so.

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

Not I, indeed.

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

Yes, certainly.

And the division of labour which required the carpenter and the shoemaker andthe rest of the citizens to be doing each his own business, and notanother’s, was a shadow of justice, and for that reason it was of use?


But in reality justice was such as we were describing, being concerned however,not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self andconcernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elementswithin him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work ofothers,—he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master andhis own law, and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together thethree principles within him, which may be compared to the higher, lower, andmiddle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals—when he hasbound all these together, and is no longer many, but has become one entirelytemperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act, if he has toact, whether in a matter of property, or in the treatment of the body, or insome affair of politics or private business; always thinking and calling thatwhich preserves and co-operates with this harmonious condition, just and goodaction, and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which at anytime impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the opinion whichpresides over it ignorance.

You have said the exact truth, Socrates.

Very good; and if we were to affirm that we had discovered the just man and thejust State, and the nature of justice in each of them, we should not be tellinga falsehood?

Most certainly not.

May we say so, then?

Let us say so.

And now, I said, injustice has to be considered.


Must not injustice be a strife which arises among the three principles—ameddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up of a part of the soul againstthe whole, an assertion of unlawful authority, which is made by a rebellioussubject against a true prince, of whom he is the natural vassal,—what isall this confusion and delusion but injustice, and intemperance and cowardiceand ignorance, and every form of vice?

Exactly so.

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

What do you mean? he said.

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

How so? he said.

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


And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause injustice?

That is certain.

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


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

Exactly so, he said.

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


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


Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice and injusticehas not been answered: Which is the more profitable, to be just and act justlyand practise virtue, whether seen or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjustand act unjustly, if only unpunished and unreformed?

In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become ridiculous. We know that,when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer endurable, thoughpampered with all kinds of meats and drinks, and having all wealth and allpower; and shall we be told that when the very essence of the vital principleis undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having to a man, if only he beallowed to do whatever he likes with the single exception that he is not toacquire justice and virtue, or to escape from injustice and vice; assuming themboth to be such as we have described?

Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still, as we are near thespot at which we may see the truth in the clearest manner with our own eyes,let us not faint by the way.

Certainly not, he replied.

Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice, those of them, Imean, which are worth looking at.

I am following you, he replied: proceed.

I said, The argument seems to have reached a height from which, as from sometower of speculation, a man may look down and see that virtue is one, but thatthe forms of vice are innumerable; there being four special ones which aredeserving of note.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of the soul as thereare distinct forms of the State.

How many?

There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.

What are they?

The first, I said, is that which we have been describing, and which may be saidto have two names, monarchy and aristocracy, accordingly as rule is exercisedby one distinguished man or by many.

True, he replied.

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

That is true, he replied.

Such is the good and true City or State, and the good and true man is of thesame pattern; and if this is right every other is wrong; and the evil is onewhich affects not only the ordering of the State, but also the regulation ofthe individual soul, and is exhibited in four forms.

What are they? he said.

I was proceeding to tell the order in which the four evil forms appeared to meto succeed one another, when Polemarchus, who was sitting a little way off,just beyond Adeimantus, began to whisper to him: stretching forth his hand, hetook hold of the upper part of his coat by the shoulder, and drew him towardshim, leaning forward himself so as to be quite close and saying something inhis ear, of which I only caught the words, ‘Shall we let him off, or whatshall we do?’

Certainly not, said Adeimantus, raising his voice.

Who is it, I said, whom you are refusing to let off?

You, he said.

I repeated, Why am I especially not to be let off?

Why, he said, we think that you are lazy, and mean to cheat us out of a wholechapter which is a very important part of the story; and you fancy that weshall not notice your airy way of proceeding; as if it were self-evident toeverybody, that in the matter of women and children ‘friends have allthings in common.’

And was I not right, Adeimantus?

Yes, he said; but what is right in this particular case, like everything else,requires to be explained; for community may be of many kinds. Please,therefore, to say what sort of community you mean. We have been long expectingthat you would tell us something about the family life of yourcitizens—how they will bring children into the world, and rear them whenthey have arrived, and, in general, what is the nature of this community ofwomen and children—for we are of opinion that the right or wrongmanagement of such matters will have a great and paramount influence on theState for good or for evil. And now, since the question is still undetermined,and you are taking in hand another State, we have resolved, as you heard, notto let you go until you give an account of all this.

To that resolution, said Glaucon, you may regard me as saying Agreed.

And without more ado, said Thrasymachus, you may consider us all to be equallyagreed.

I said, You know not what you are doing in thus assailing me: What an argumentare you raising about the State! Just as I thought that I had finished, and wasonly too glad that I had laid this question to sleep, and was reflecting howfortunate I was in your acceptance of what I then said, you ask me to beginagain at the very foundation, ignorant of what a hornet’s nest of wordsyou are stirring. Now I foresaw this gathering trouble, and avoided it.

For what purpose do you conceive that we have come here, saidThrasymachus,—to look for gold, or to hear discourse?

Yes, but discourse should have a limit.

Yes, Socrates, said Glaucon, and the whole of life is the only limit which wisemen assign to the hearing of such discourses. But never mind about us; takeheart yourself and answer the question in your own way: What sort of communityof women and children is this which is to prevail among our guardians? and howshall we manage the period between birth and education, which seems to requirethe greatest care? Tell us how these things will be.

Yes, my simple friend, but the answer is the reverse of easy; many more doubtsarise about this than about our previous conclusions. For the practicability ofwhat is said may be doubted; and looked at in another point of view, whetherthe scheme, if ever so practicable, would be for the best, is also doubtful.Hence I feel a reluctance to approach the subject, lest our aspiration, my dearfriend, should turn out to be a dream only.

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

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

Yes, he said.

Then let me tell you that you are doing just the reverse; the encouragementwhich you offer would have been all very well had I myself believed that I knewwhat I was talking about: to declare the truth about matters of high interestwhich a man honours and loves among wise men who love him need occasion no fearor faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument when you are yourselfonly a hesitating enquirer, which is my condition, is a dangerous and slipperything; and the danger is not that I shall be laughed at (of which the fearwould be childish), but that I shall miss the truth where I have most need tobe sure of my footing, and drag my friends after me in my fall. And I prayNemesis not to visit upon me the words which I am going to utter. For I doindeed believe that to be an involuntary homicide is a less crime than to be adeceiver about beauty or goodness or justice in the matter of laws. And that isa risk which I would rather run among enemies than among friends, and thereforeyou do well to encourage me.

Glaucon laughed and said: Well then, Socrates, in case you and your argument dous any serious injury you shall be acquitted beforehand of the homicide, andshall not be held to be a deceiver; take courage then and speak.

Well, I said, the law says that when a man is acquitted he is free from guilt,and what holds at law may hold in argument.

Then why should you mind?

Well, I replied, I suppose that I must retrace my steps and say what I perhapsought to have said before in the proper place. The part of the men has beenplayed out, and now properly enough comes the turn of the women. Of them I willproceed to speak, and the more readily since I am invited by you.

For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way, in my opinion, ofarriving at a right conclusion about the possession and use of women andchildren is to follow the path on which we originally started, when we saidthat the men were to be the guardians and watchdogs of the herd.


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

What do you mean?

What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said: Are dogs dividedinto hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keepingwatch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the males the entireand exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under theidea that the bearing and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?

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

But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bredand fed in the same way?

You cannot.

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


The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic.


Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war, whichthey must practise like the men?

That is the inference, I suppose.

I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals, if they arecarried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.

No doubt of it.

Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked inthe palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longeryoung; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than theenthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles and ugliness continue to frequentthe gymnasia.

Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal would bethought ridiculous.

But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not fearthe jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation;how they will talk of women’s attainments both in music and gymnastic,and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!

Very true, he replied.

Yet having begun we must go forward to the rough places of the law; at the sametime begging of these gentlemen for once in their life to be serious. Not longago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is stillgenerally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a naked man wasridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans and then the Lacedaemoniansintroduced the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed theinnovation.

No doubt.

But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far betterthan to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye vanishedbefore the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceivedto be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but thatof folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any otherstandard but that of the good.

Very true, he replied.

First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in earnest, let uscome to an understanding about the nature of woman: Is she capable of sharingeither wholly or partially in the actions of men, or not at all? And is the artof war one of those arts in which she can or can not share? That will be thebest way of commencing the enquiry, and will probably lead to the fairestconclusion.

That will be much the best way.

Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing against ourselves; inthis manner the adversary’s position will not be undefended.

Why not? he said.

Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. They will say:‘Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary need convict you, for you yourselves,at the first foundation of the State, admitted the principle that everybody wasto do the one work suited to his own nature.’ And certainly, if I am notmistaken, such an admission was made by us. ‘And do not the natures ofmen and women differ very much indeed?’ And we shall reply: Of coursethey do. Then we shall be asked, ‘Whether the tasks assigned to men andto women should not be different, and such as are agreeable to their differentnatures?’ Certainly they should. ‘But if so, have you not falleninto a serious inconsistency in saying that men and women, whose natures are soentirely different, ought to perform the same actions?’—Whatdefence will you make for us, my good Sir, against any one who offers theseobjections?

That is not an easy question to answer when asked suddenly; and I shall and Ido beg of you to draw out the case on our side.

These are the objections, Glaucon, and there are many others of a like kind,which I foresaw long ago; they made me afraid and reluctant to take in hand anylaw about the possession and nurture of women and children.

By Zeus, he said, the problem to be solved is anything but easy.

Why yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of his depth, whetherhe has fallen into a little swimming bath or into mid ocean, he has to swim allthe same.

Very true.

And must not we swim and try to reach the shore: we will hope thatArion’s dolphin or some other miraculous help may save us?

I suppose so, he said.

Well then, let us see if any way of escape can be found. Weacknowledged—did we not? that different natures ought to have differentpursuits, and that men’s and women’s natures are different. And nowwhat are we saying?—that different natures ought to have the samepursuits,—this is the inconsistency which is charged upon us.


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

Why do you say so?

Because I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will. Whenhe thinks that he is reasoning he is really disputing, just because he cannotdefine and divide, and so know that of which he is speaking; and he will pursuea merely verbal opposition in the spirit of contention and not of fairdiscussion.

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

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

In what way?

Why we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal truth, that differentnatures ought to have different pursuits, but we never considered at all whatwas the meaning of sameness or difference of nature, or why we distinguishedthem when we assigned different pursuits to different natures and the same tothe same natures.

Why, no, he said, that was never considered by us.

I said: Suppose that by way of illustration we were to ask the question whetherthere is not an opposition in nature between bald men and hairy men; and ifthis is admitted by us, then, if bald men are cobblers, we should forbid thehairy men to be cobblers, and conversely?

That would be a jest, he said.

Yes, I said, a jest; and why? because we never meant when we constructed theState, that the opposition of natures should extend to every difference, butonly to those differences which affected the pursuit in which the individual isengaged; we should have argued, for example, that a physician and one who is inmind a physician may be said to have the same nature.


Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different natures?


And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness forany art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be assignedto one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only in womenbearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that awoman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she shouldreceive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians andtheir wives ought to have the same pursuits.

Very true, he said.

Next, we shall ask our opponent how, in reference to any of the pursuits orarts of civic life, the nature of a woman differs from that of a man?

That will be quite fair.

And perhaps he, like yourself, will reply that to give a sufficient answer onthe instant is not easy; but after a little reflection there is no difficulty.

Yes, perhaps.

Suppose then that we invite him to accompany us in the argument, and then wemay hope to show him that there is nothing peculiar in the constitution ofwomen which would affect them in the administration of the State.

By all means.

Let us say to him: Come now, and we will ask you a question:—when youspoke of a nature gifted or not gifted in any respect, did you mean to say thatone man will acquire a thing easily, another with difficulty; a little learningwill lead the one to discover a great deal; whereas the other, after much studyand application, no sooner learns than he forgets; or again, did you mean, thatthe one has a body which is a good servant to his mind, while the body of theother is a hindrance to him?—would not these be the sort of differenceswhich distinguish the man gifted by nature from the one who is ungifted?

No one will deny that.

And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex has not allthese gifts and qualities in a higher degree than the female? Need I waste timein speaking of the art of weaving, and the management of pancakes andpreserves, in which womankind does really appear to be great, and in which forher to be beaten by a man is of all things the most absurd?

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

And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of administration ina state which a woman has because she is a woman, or which a man has by virtueof his sex, but the gifts of nature are alike diffused in both; all thepursuits of men are the pursuits of women also, but in all of them a woman isinferior to a man.

Very true.

Then are we to impose all our enactments on men and none of them on women?

That will never do.

One woman has a gift of healing, another not; one is a musician, and anotherhas no music in her nature?

Very true.

And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises, and another isunwarlike and hates gymnastics?


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

That is also true.

Then one woman will have the temper of a guardian, and another not. Was not theselection of the male guardians determined by differences of this sort?


Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they differonly in their comparative strength or weakness.


And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the companionsand colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they resemble incapacity and in character?

Very true.

And ought not the same natures to have the same pursuits?

They ought.

Then, as we were saying before, there is nothing unnatural in assigning musicand gymnastic to the wives of the guardians—to that point we come roundagain.

Certainly not.

The law which we then enacted was agreeable to nature, and therefore not animpossibility or mere aspiration; and the contrary practice, which prevails atpresent, is in reality a violation of nature.

That appears to be true.

We had to consider, first, whether our proposals were possible, and secondlywhether they were the most beneficial?


And the possibility has been acknowledged?


The very great benefit has next to be established?

Quite so.

You will admit that the same education which makes a man a good guardian willmake a woman a good guardian; for their original nature is the same?


I should like to ask you a question.

What is it?

Would you say that all men are equal in excellence, or is one man better thananother?

The latter.

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

What a ridiculous question!

You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not further say that ourguardians are the best of our citizens?

By far the best.

And will not their wives be the best women?

Yes, by far the best.

And can there be anything better for the interests of the State than that themen and women of a State should be as good as possible?

There can be nothing better.

And this is what the arts of music and gymnastic, when present in such manneras we have described, will accomplish?


Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest degreebeneficial to the State?


Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe,and let them share in the toils of war and the defence of their country; onlyin the distribution of labours the lighter are to be assigned to the women, whoare the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same.And as for the man who laughs at naked women exercising their bodies from thebest of motives, in his laughter he is plucking

‘A fruit of unripe wisdom,’

and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he isabout;—for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings, That theuseful is the noble and the hurtful is the base.

Very true.

Here, then, is one difficulty in our law about women, which we may say that wehave now escaped; the wave has not swallowed us up alive for enacting that theguardians of either sex should have all their pursuits in common; to theutility and also to the possibility of this arrangement the consistency of theargument with itself bears witness.

Yes, that was a mighty wave which you have escaped.

Yes, I said, but a greater is coming; you will not think much of this when yousee the next.

Go on; let me see.

The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that has preceded, isto the following effect,—‘that the wives of our guardians are to becommon, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his ownchild, nor any child his parent.’

Yes, he said, that is a much greater wave than the other; and the possibilityas well as the utility of such a law are far more questionable.

I do not think, I said, that there can be any dispute about the very greatutility of having wives and children in common; the possibility is quiteanother matter, and will be very much disputed.

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

You imply that the two questions must be combined, I replied. Now I meant thatyou should admit the utility; and in this way, as I thought, I should escapefrom one of them, and then there would remain only the possibility.

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

Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little favour: let me feastmy mind with the dream as day dreamers are in the habit of feasting themselveswhen they are walking alone; for before they have discovered any means ofeffecting their wishes—that is a matter which never troublesthem—they would rather not tire themselves by thinking aboutpossibilities; but assuming that what they desire is already granted to them,they proceed with their plan, and delight in detailing what they mean to dowhen their wish has come true—that is a way which they have of not doingmuch good to a capacity which was never good for much. Now I myself ambeginning to lose heart, and I should like, with your permission, to pass overthe question of possibility at present. Assuming therefore the possibility ofthe proposal, I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers will carry outthese arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan, if executed, will beof the greatest benefit to the State and to the guardians. First of all, then,if you have no objection, I will endeavour with your help to consider theadvantages of the measure; and hereafter the question of possibility.

I have no objection; proceed.

First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to be worthy of thename which they bear, there must be willingness to obey in the one and thepower of command in the other; the guardians must themselves obey the laws, andthey must also imitate the spirit of them in any details which are entrusted totheir care.

That is right, he said.

You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now selectthe women and give them to them;—they must be as far as possible of likenatures with them; and they must live in common houses and meet at commonmeals. None of them will have anything specially his or her own; they will betogether, and will be brought up together, and will associate at gymnasticexercises. And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to haveintercourse with each other—necessity is not too strong a word, I think?

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

True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed after anorderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is an unholy thingwhich the rulers will forbid.

Yes, he said, and it ought not to be permitted.

Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in the highestdegree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred?


And how can marriages be made most beneficial?—that is a question which Iput to you, because I see in your house dogs for hunting, and of the noblersort of birds not a few. Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attendedto their pairing and breeding?

In what particulars?

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


And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed fromthe best only?

From the best.

And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age?

I choose only those of ripe age.

And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would greatlydeteriorate?


And the same of horses and animals in general?


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

Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this involve any particularskill?

Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon the body corporatewith medicines. Now you know that when patients do not require medicines, buthave only to be put under a regimen, the inferior sort of practitioner isdeemed to be good enough; but when medicine has to be given, then the doctorshould be more of a man.

That is quite true, he said; but to what are you alluding?

I mean, I replied, that our rulers will find a considerable dose of falsehoodand deceit necessary for the good of their subjects: we were saying that theuse of all these things regarded as medicines might be of advantage.

And we were very right.

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

How so?

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

Very true.

Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together thebrides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymenealsongs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter which must beleft to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the averageof population? There are many other things which they will have to consider,such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order asfar as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large ortoo small.

Certainly, he replied.

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

To be sure, he said.

And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours andrewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them;their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons aspossible.


And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to beheld by women as well as by men—


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

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

They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the foldwhen they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no motherrecognises her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more arerequired. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not beprotracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at night or othertrouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses andattendants.

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

Why, said I, and so they ought. Let us, however, proceed with our scheme. Wewere saying that the parents should be in the prime of life?

Very true.

And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of abouttwenty years in a woman’s life, and thirty in a man’s?

Which years do you mean to include?

A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to theState, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin atfive-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beatsquickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five.

Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are the prime of physicalas well as of intellectual vigour.

Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the publichymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the childof which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been conceivedunder auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymenealpriestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that the new generationmay be better and more useful than their good and useful parents, whereas hischild will be the offspring of darkness and strange lust.

Very true, he replied.

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

Very true, he replied.

This applies, however, only to those who are within the specified age: afterthat we allow them to range at will, except that a man may not marry hisdaughter or his daughter’s daughter, or his mother or his mother’smother; and women, on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their sonsor fathers, or son’s son or father’s father, and so on in eitherdirection. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strictorders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light;and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that theoffspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly.

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

They will never know. The way will be this:—dating from the day of thehymeneal, the bridegroom who was then married will call all the male childrenwho are born in the seventh and tenth month afterwards his sons, and the femalechildren his daughters, and they will call him father, and he will call theirchildren his grandchildren, and they will call the elder generationgrandfathers and grandmothers. All who were begotten at the time when theirfathers and mothers came together will be called their brothers and sisters,and these, as I was saying, will be forbidden to inter-marry. This, however, isnot to be understood as an absolute prohibition of the marriage of brothers andsisters; if the lot favours them, and they receive the sanction of the Pythianoracle, the law will allow them.

Quite right, he replied.

Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guardians of our State areto have their wives and families in common. And now you would have the argumentshow that this community is consistent with the rest of our polity, and alsothat nothing can be better—would you not?

Yes, certainly.

Shall we try to find a common basis by asking of ourselves what ought to be thechief aim of the legislator in making laws and in the organization of aState,—what is the greatest good, and what is the greatest evil, and thenconsider whether our previous description has the stamp of the good or of theevil?

By all means.

Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality whereunity ought to reign? or any greater good than the bond of unity?

There cannot.

And there is unity where there is community of pleasures and pains—whereall the citizens are glad or grieved on the same occasions of joy and sorrow?

No doubt.

Yes; and where there is no common but only private feeling a State isdisorganized—when you have one half of the world triumphing and the otherplunged in grief at the same events happening to the city or the citizens?


Such differences commonly originate in a disagreement about the use of theterms ‘mine’ and ‘not mine,’ ‘his’ and‘not his.’

Exactly so.

And is not that the best-ordered State in which the greatest number of personsapply the terms ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ in the same wayto the same thing?

Quite true.

Or that again which most nearly approaches to the condition of theindividual—as in the body, when but a finger of one of us is hurt, thewhole frame, drawn towards the soul as a centre and forming one kingdom underthe ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together with thepart affected, and we say that the man has a pain in his finger; and the sameexpression is used about any other part of the body, which has a sensation ofpain at suffering or of pleasure at the alleviation of suffering.

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

Then when any one of the citizens experiences any good or evil, the whole Statewill make his case their own, and will either rejoice or sorrow with him?

Yes, he said, that is what will happen in a well-ordered State.

It will now be time, I said, for us to return to our State and see whether thisor some other form is most in accordance with these fundamental principles.

Very good.

Our State like every other has rulers and subjects?


All of whom will call one another citizens?

Of course.

But is there not another name which people give to their rulers in otherStates?

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

And in our State what other name besides that of citizens do the people givethe rulers?

They are called saviours and helpers, he replied.

And what do the rulers call the people?

Their maintainers and foster-fathers.

And what do they call them in other States?


And what do the rulers call one another in other States?


And what in ours?


Did you ever know an example in any other State of a ruler who would speak ofone of his colleagues as his friend and of another as not being his friend?

Yes, very often.

And the friend he regards and describes as one in whom he has an interest, andthe other as a stranger in whom he has no interest?


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

Certainly he would not; for every one whom they meet will be regarded by themeither as a brother or sister, or father or mother, or son or daughter, or asthe child or parent of those who are thus connected with him.

Capital, I said; but let me ask you once more: Shall they be a family in nameonly; or shall they in all their actions be true to the name? For example, inthe use of the word ‘father,’ would the care of a father be impliedand the filial reverence and duty and obedience to him which the law commands;and is the violator of these duties to be regarded as an impious andunrighteous person who is not likely to receive much good either at the handsof God or of man? Are these to be or not to be the strains which the childrenwill hear repeated in their ears by all the citizens about those who areintimated to them to be their parents and the rest of their kinsfolk?

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

Then in our city the language of harmony and concord will be more often heardthan in any other. As I was describing before, when any one is well or ill, theuniversal word will be ‘with me it is well’ or ‘it isill.’

Most true.

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

Yes, and so they will.

And they will have a common interest in the same thing which they will alikecall ‘my own,’ and having this common interest they will have acommon feeling of pleasure and pain?

Yes, far more so than in other States.

And the reason of this, over and above the general constitution of the State,will be that the guardians will have a community of women and children?

That will be the chief reason.

And this unity of feeling we admitted to be the greatest good, as was impliedin our own comparison of a well-ordered State to the relation of the body andthe members, when affected by pleasure or pain?

That we acknowledged, and very rightly.

Then the community of wives and children among our citizens is clearly thesource of the greatest good to the State?


And this agrees with the other principle which we were affirming,—thatthe guardians were not to have houses or lands or any other property; their paywas to be their food, which they were to receive from the other citizens, andthey were to have no private expenses; for we intended them to preserve theirtrue character of guardians.

Right, he replied.

Both the community of property and the community of families, as I am saying,tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not tear the city in piecesby differing about ‘mine’ and ‘not mine;’ each mandragging any acquisition which he has made into a separate house of his own,where he has a separate wife and children and private pleasures and pains; butall will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and pains becausethey are all of one opinion about what is near and dear to them, and thereforethey all tend towards a common end.

Certainly, he replied.

And as they have nothing but their persons which they can call their own, suitsand complaints will have no existence among them; they will be delivered fromall those quarrels of which money or children or relations are the occasion.

Of course they will.

Neither will trials for assault or insult ever be likely to occur among them.For that equals should defend themselves against equals we shall maintain to behonourable and right; we shall make the protection of the person a matter ofnecessity.

That is good, he said.

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


To the elder shall be assigned the duty of ruling and chastising the younger.


Nor can there be a doubt that the younger will not strike or do any otherviolence to an elder, unless the magistrates command him; nor will he slighthim in any way. For there are two guardians, shame and fear, mighty to preventhim: shame, which makes men refrain from laying hands on those who are to themin the relation of parents; fear, that the injured one will be succoured by theothers who are his brothers, sons, fathers.

That is true, he replied.

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

Yes, there will be no want of peace.

And as the guardians will never quarrel among themselves there will be nodanger of the rest of the city being divided either against them or against oneanother.

None whatever.

I hardly like even to mention the little meannesses of which they will be rid,for they are beneath notice: such, for example, as the flattery of the rich bythe poor, and all the pains and pangs which men experience in bringing up afamily, and in finding money to buy necessaries for their household, borrowingand then repudiating, getting how they can, and giving the money into the handsof women and slaves to keep—the many evils of so many kinds which peoplesuffer in this way are mean enough and obvious enough, and not worth speakingof.

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

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

How so?

The Olympic victor, I said, is deemed happy in receiving a part only of theblessedness which is secured to our citizens, who have won a more gloriousvictory and have a more complete maintenance at the public cost. For thevictory which they have won is the salvation of the whole State; and the crownwith which they and their children are crowned is the fulness of all that lifeneeds; they receive rewards from the hands of their country while living, andafter death have an honourable burial.

Yes, he said, and glorious rewards they are.

Do you remember, I said, how in the course of the previous discussion some onewho shall be nameless accused us of making our guardians unhappy—they hadnothing and might have possessed all things—to whom we replied that, ifan occasion offered, we might perhaps hereafter consider this question, butthat, as at present advised, we would make our guardians truly guardians, andthat we were fashioning the State with a view to the greatest happiness, not ofany particular class, but of the whole?

Yes, I remember.

And what do you say, now that the life of our protectors is made out to be farbetter and nobler than that of Olympic victors—is the life of shoemakers,or any other artisans, or of husbandmen, to be compared with it?

Certainly not.

At the same time I ought here to repeat what I have said elsewhere, that if anyof our guardians shall try to be happy in such a manner that he will cease tobe a guardian, and is not content with this safe and harmonious life, which, inour judgment, is of all lives the best, but infatuated by some youthful conceitof happiness which gets up into his head shall seek to appropriate the wholestate to himself, then he will have to learn how wisely Hesiod spoke, when hesaid, ‘half is more than the whole.’

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

You agree then, I said, that men and women are to have a common way of lifesuch as we have described—common education, common children; and they areto watch over the citizens in common whether abiding in the city or going outto war; they are to keep watch together, and to hunt together like dogs; andalways and in all things, as far as they are able, women are to share with themen? And in so doing they will do what is best, and will not violate, butpreserve the natural relation of the sexes.

I agree with you, he replied.

The enquiry, I said, has yet to be made, whether such a community be foundpossible—as among other animals, so also among men—and if possible,in what way possible?

You have anticipated the question which I was about to suggest.

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


Why, of course they will go on expeditions together; and will take with themany of their children who are strong enough, that, after the manner of theartisan’s child, they may look on at the work which they will have to dowhen they are grown up; and besides looking on they will have to help and be ofuse in war, and to wait upon their fathers and mothers. Did you never observein the arts how the potters’ boys look on and help, long before theytouch the wheel?

Yes, I have.

And shall potters be more careful in educating their children and in givingthem the opportunity of seeing and practising their duties than our guardianswill be?

The idea is ridiculous, he said.

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

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

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

I am far from saying that.

Well, but if they are ever to run a risk should they not do so on some occasionwhen, if they escape disaster, they will be the better for it?


Whether the future soldiers do or do not see war in the days of their youth isa very important matter, for the sake of which some risk may fairly beincurred.

Yes, very important.

This then must be our first step,—to make our children spectators of war;but we must also contrive that they shall be secured against danger; then allwill be well.


Their parents may be supposed not to be blind to the risks of war, but to know,as far as human foresight can, what expeditions are safe and what dangerous?

That may be assumed.

And they will take them on the safe expeditions and be cautious about thedangerous ones?


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

Very properly.

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


Then against such chances the children must be at once furnished with wings, inorder that in the hour of need they may fly away and escape.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean that we must mount them on horses in their earliest youth, and when theyhave learnt to ride, take them on horseback to see war: the horses must not bespirited and warlike, but the most tractable and yet the swiftest that can behad. In this way they will get an excellent view of what is hereafter to betheir own business; and if there is danger they have only to follow their elderleaders and escape.

I believe that you are right, he said.

Next, as to war; what are to be the relations of your soldiers to one anotherand to their enemies? I should be inclined to propose that the soldier wholeaves his rank or throws away his arms, or is guilty of any other act ofcowardice, should be degraded into the rank of a husbandman or artisan. What doyou think?

By all means, I should say.

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


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

I approve.

And what do you say to his receiving the right hand of fellowship?

To that too, I agree.

But you will hardly agree to my next proposal.

What is your proposal?

That he should kiss and be kissed by them.

Most certainly, and I should be disposed to go further, and say: Let no onewhom he has a mind to kiss refuse to be kissed by him while the expeditionlasts. So that if there be a lover in the army, whether his love be youth ormaiden, he may be more eager to win the prize of valour.

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


Again, there is another manner in which, according to Homer, brave youthsshould be honoured; for he tells how Ajax, after he had distinguished himselfin battle, was rewarded with long chines, which seems to be a complimentappropriate to a hero in the flower of his age, being not only a tribute ofhonour but also a very strengthening thing.

Most true, he said.

Then in this, I said, Homer shall be our teacher; and we too, at sacrifices andon the like occasions, will honour the brave according to the measure of theirvalour, whether men or women, with hymns and those other distinctions which wewere mentioning; also with

‘seats of precedence, and meats and full cups;’

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

That, he replied, is excellent.

Yes, I said; and when a man dies gloriously in war shall we not say, in thefirst place, that he is of the golden race?

To be sure.

Nay, have we not the authority of Hesiod for affirming that when they are dead

‘They are holy angels upon the earth, authors of good, averters of evil,the guardians of speech-gifted men’?

Yes; and we accept his authority.

We must learn of the god how we are to order the sepulture of divine and heroicpersonages, and what is to be their special distinction; and we must do as hebids?

By all means.

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

That is very right, he said.

Next, how shall our soldiers treat their enemies? What about this?

In what respect do you mean?

First of all, in regard to slavery? Do you think it right that Hellenes shouldenslave Hellenic States, or allow others to enslave them, if they can help?Should not their custom be to spare them, considering the danger which there isthat the whole race may one day fall under the yoke of the barbarians?

To spare them is infinitely better.

Then no Hellene should be owned by them as a slave; that is a rule which theywill observe and advise the other Hellenes to observe.

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

Next as to the slain; ought the conquerors, I said, to take anything but theirarmour? Does not the practice of despoiling an enemy afford an excuse for notfacing the battle? Cowards skulk about the dead, pretending that they arefulfilling a duty, and many an army before now has been lost from this love ofplunder.

Very true.

And is there not illiberality and avarice in robbing a corpse, and also adegree of meanness and womanishness in making an enemy of the dead body whenthe real enemy has flown away and left only his fighting gear behindhim,—is not this rather like a dog who cannot get at his assailant,quarrelling with the stones which strike him instead?

Very like a dog, he said.

Then we must abstain from spoiling the dead or hindering their burial?

Yes, he replied, we most certainly must.

Neither shall we offer up arms at the temples of the gods, least of all thearms of Hellenes, if we care to maintain good feeling with other Hellenes; and,indeed, we have reason to fear that the offering of spoils taken from kinsmenmay be a pollution unless commanded by the god himself?

Very true.

Again, as to the devastation of Hellenic territory or the burning of houses,what is to be the practice?

May I have the pleasure, he said, of hearing your opinion?

Both should be forbidden, in my judgment; I would take the annual produce andno more. Shall I tell you why?

Pray do.

Why, you see, there is a difference in the names ‘discord’ and‘war,’ and I imagine that there is also a difference in theirnatures; the one is expressive of what is internal and domestic, the other ofwhat is external and foreign; and the first of the two is termed discord, andonly the second, war.

That is a very proper distinction, he replied.

And may I not observe with equal propriety that the Hellenic race is all unitedtogether by ties of blood and friendship, and alien and strange to thebarbarians?

Very good, he said.

And therefore when Hellenes fight with barbarians and barbarians with Hellenes,they will be described by us as being at war when they fight, and by natureenemies, and this kind of antagonism should be called war; but when Hellenesfight with one another we shall say that Hellas is then in a state of disorderand discord, they being by nature friends; and such enmity is to be calleddiscord.

I agree.

Consider then, I said, when that which we have acknowledged to be discordoccurs, and a city is divided, if both parties destroy the lands and burn thehouses of one another, how wicked does the strife appear! No true lover of hiscountry would bring himself to tear in pieces his own nurse and mother: Theremight be reason in the conqueror depriving the conquered of their harvest, butstill they would have the idea of peace in their hearts and would not mean togo on fighting for ever.

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

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

It ought to be, he replied.

Then will not the citizens be good and civilized?

Yes, very civilized.

And will they not be lovers of Hellas, and think of Hellas as their own land,and share in the common temples?

Most certainly.

And any difference which arises among them will be regarded by them as discordonly—a quarrel among friends, which is not to be called a war?

Certainly not.

Then they will quarrel as those who intend some day to be reconciled?


They will use friendly correction, but will not enslave or destroy theiropponents; they will be correctors, not enemies?

Just so.

And as they are Hellenes themselves they will not devastate Hellas, nor willthey burn houses, nor ever suppose that the whole population of acity—men, women, and children—are equally their enemies, for theyknow that the guilt of war is always confined to a few persons and that themany are their friends. And for all these reasons they will be unwilling towaste their lands and rase their houses; their enmity to them will only lastuntil the many innocent sufferers have compelled the guilty few to givesatisfaction?

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

Then let us enact this law also for our guardians:—that they are neitherto devastate the lands of Hellenes nor to burn their houses.

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

But still I must say, Socrates, that if you are allowed to go on in this wayyou will entirely forget the other question which at the commencement of thisdiscussion you thrust aside:—Is such an order of things possible, andhow, if at all? For I am quite ready to acknowledge that the plan which youpropose, if only feasible, would do all sorts of good to the State. I will add,what you have omitted, that your citizens will be the bravest of warriors, andwill never leave their ranks, for they will all know one another, and each willcall the other father, brother, son; and if you suppose the women to join theirarmies, whether in the same rank or in the rear, either as a terror to theenemy, or as auxiliaries in case of need, I know that they will then beabsolutely invincible; and there are many domestic advantages which might alsobe mentioned and which I also fully acknowledge: but, as I admit all theseadvantages and as many more as you please, if only this State of yours were tocome into existence, we need say no more about them; assuming then theexistence of the State, let us now turn to the question of possibility and waysand means—the rest may be left.

If I loiter for a moment, you instantly make a raid upon me, I said, and haveno mercy; I have hardly escaped the first and second waves, and you seem not tobe aware that you are now bringing upon me the third, which is the greatest andheaviest. When you have seen and heard the third wave, I think you will be moreconsiderate and will acknowledge that some fear and hesitation was naturalrespecting a proposal so extraordinary as that which I have now to state andinvestigate.

The more appeals of this sort which you make, he said, the more determined arewe that you shall tell us how such a State is possible: speak out and at once.

Let me begin by reminding you that we found our way hither in the search afterjustice and injustice.

True, he replied; but what of that?

I was only going to ask whether, if we have discovered them, we are to requirethat the just man should in nothing fail of absolute justice; or may we besatisfied with an approximation, and the attainment in him of a higher degreeof justice than is to be found in other men?

The approximation will be enough.

We were enquiring into the nature of absolute justice and into the character ofthe perfectly just, and into injustice and the perfectly unjust, that we mighthave an ideal. We were to look at these in order that we might judge of our ownhappiness and unhappiness according to the standard which they exhibited andthe degree in which we resembled them, but not with any view of showing thatthey could exist in fact.

True, he said.

Would a painter be any the worse because, after having delineated withconsummate art an ideal of a perfectly beautiful man, he was unable to showthat any such man could ever have existed?

He would be none the worse.

Well, and were we not creating an ideal of a perfect State?

To be sure.

And is our theory a worse theory because we are unable to prove the possibilityof a city being ordered in the manner described?

Surely not, he replied.

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

What admissions?

I want to know whether ideals are ever fully realized in language? Does not theword express more than the fact, and must not the actual, whatever a man maythink, always, in the nature of things, fall short of the truth? What do yousay?

I agree.

Then you must not insist on my proving that the actual State will in everyrespect coincide with the ideal: if we are only able to discover how a city maybe governed nearly as we proposed, you will admit that we have discovered thepossibility which you demand; and will be contented. I am sure that I should becontented—will not you?

Yes, I will.

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

Certainly, he replied.

I think, I said, that there might be a reform of the State if only one changewere made, which is not a slight or easy though still a possible one.

What is it? he said.

Now then, I said, I go to meet that which I liken to the greatest of the waves;yet shall the word be spoken, even though the wave break and drown me inlaughter and dishonour; and do you mark my words.


I said: ‘Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of thisworld have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness andwisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to theexclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never haverest from their evils,—nor the human race, as I believe,—and thenonly will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light ofday.’ Such was the thought, my dear Glaucon, which I would fain haveuttered if it had not seemed too extravagant; for to be convinced that in noother State can there be happiness private or public is indeed a hard thing.

Socrates, what do you mean? I would have you consider that the word which youhave uttered is one at which numerous persons, and very respectable personstoo, in a figure pulling off their coats all in a moment, and seizing anyweapon that comes to hand, will run at you might and main, before you knowwhere you are, intending to do heaven knows what; and if you don’tprepare an answer, and put yourself in motion, you will be ‘pared bytheir fine wits,’ and no mistake.

You got me into the scrape, I said.

And I was quite right; however, I will do all I can to get you out of it; but Ican only give you good-will and good advice, and, perhaps, I may be able to fitanswers to your questions better than another—that is all. And now,having such an auxiliary, you must do your best to show the unbelievers thatyou are right.

I ought to try, I said, since you offer me such invaluable assistance. And Ithink that, if there is to be a chance of our escaping, we must explain to themwhom we mean when we say that philosophers are to rule in the State; then weshall be able to defend ourselves: There will be discovered to be some natureswho ought to study philosophy and to be leaders in the State; and others whoare not born to be philosophers, and are meant to be followers rather thanleaders.

Then now for a definition, he said.

Follow me, I said, and I hope that I may in some way or other be able to giveyou a satisfactory explanation.


I dare say that you remember, and therefore I need not remind you, that alover, if he is worthy of the name, ought to show his love, not to some onepart of that which he loves, but to the whole.

I really do not understand, and therefore beg of you to assist my memory.

Another person, I said, might fairly reply as you do; but a man of pleasurelike yourself ought to know that all who are in the flower of youth do somehowor other raise a pang or emotion in a lover’s breast, and are thought byhim to be worthy of his affectionate regards. Is not this a way which you havewith the fair: one has a snub nose, and you praise his charming face; thehook-nose of another has, you say, a royal look; while he who is neither snubnor hooked has the grace of regularity: the dark visage is manly, the fair arechildren of the gods; and as to the sweet ‘honey pale,’ as they arecalled, what is the very name but the invention of a lover who talks indiminutives, and is not averse to paleness if appearing on the cheek of youth?In a word, there is no excuse which you will not make, and nothing which youwill not say, in order not to lose a single flower that blooms in thespring-time of youth.

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

And what do you say of lovers of wine? Do you not see them doing the same? Theyare glad of any pretext of drinking any wine.

Very good.

And the same is true of ambitious men; if they cannot command an army, they arewilling to command a file; and if they cannot be honoured by really great andimportant persons, they are glad to be honoured by lesser and meanerpeople,—but honour of some kind they must have.


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

The whole.

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

Yes, of the whole.

And he who dislikes learning, especially in youth, when he has no power ofjudging what is good and what is not, such an one we maintain not to be aphilosopher or a lover of knowledge, just as he who refuses his food is nothungry, and may be said to have a bad appetite and not a good one?

Very true, he said.

Whereas he who has a taste for every sort of knowledge and who is curious tolearn and is never satisfied, may be justly termed a philosopher? Am I notright?

Glaucon said: If curiosity makes a philosopher, you will find many a strangebeing will have a title to the name. All the lovers of sights have a delight inlearning, and must therefore be included. Musical amateurs, too, are a folkstrangely out of place among philosophers, for they are the last persons in theworld who would come to anything like a philosophical discussion, if they couldhelp, while they run about at the Dionysiac festivals as if they had let outtheir ears to hear every chorus; whether the performance is in town orcountry—that makes no difference—they are there. Now are we tomaintain that all these and any who have similar tastes, as well as theprofessors of quite minor arts, are philosophers?

Certainly not, I replied; they are only an imitation.

He said: Who then are the true philosophers?

Those, I said, who are lovers of the vision of truth.

That is also good, he said; but I should like to know what you mean?

To another, I replied, I might have a difficulty in explaining; but I am surethat you will admit a proposition which I am about to make.

What is the proposition?

That since beauty is the opposite of ugliness, they are two?


And inasmuch as they are two, each of them is one?

True again.

And of just and unjust, good and evil, and of every other class, the sameremark holds: taken singly, each of them is one; but from the variouscombinations of them with actions and things and with one another, they areseen in all sorts of lights and appear many?

Very true.

And this is the distinction which I draw between the sight-loving, art-loving,practical class and those of whom I am speaking, and who are alone worthy ofthe name of philosophers.

How do you distinguish them? he said.

The lovers of sounds and sights, I replied, are, as I conceive, fond of finetones and colours and forms and all the artificial products that are made outof them, but their mind is incapable of seeing or loving absolute beauty.

True, he replied.

Few are they who are able to attain to the sight of this.

Very true.

And he who, having a sense of beautiful things has no sense of absolute beauty,or who, if another lead him to a knowledge of that beauty is unable tofollow—of such an one I ask, Is he awake or in a dream only? Reflect: isnot the dreamer, sleeping or waking, one who likens dissimilar things, who putsthe copy in the place of the real object?

I should certainly say that such an one was dreaming.

But take the case of the other, who recognises the existence of absolute beautyand is able to distinguish the idea from the objects which participate in theidea, neither putting the objects in the place of the idea nor the idea in theplace of the objects—is he a dreamer, or is he awake?

He is wide awake.

And may we not say that the mind of the one who knows has knowledge, and thatthe mind of the other, who opines only, has opinion?


But suppose that the latter should quarrel with us and dispute our statement,can we administer any soothing cordial or advice to him, without revealing tohim that there is sad disorder in his wits?

We must certainly offer him some good advice, he replied.

Come, then, and let us think of something to say to him. Shall we begin byassuring him that he is welcome to any knowledge which he may have, and that weare rejoiced at his having it? But we should like to ask him a question: Doeshe who has knowledge know something or nothing? (You must answer for him.)

I answer that he knows something.

Something that is or is not?

Something that is; for how can that which is not ever be known?

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

Nothing can be more certain.

Good. But if there be anything which is of such a nature as to be and not tobe, that will have a place intermediate between pure being and the absolutenegation of being?

Yes, between them.

And, as knowledge corresponded to being and ignorance of necessity tonot-being, for that intermediate between being and not-being there has to bediscovered a corresponding intermediate between ignorance and knowledge, ifthere be such?


Do we admit the existence of opinion?


As being the same with knowledge, or another faculty?

Another faculty.

Then opinion and knowledge have to do with different kinds of mattercorresponding to this difference of faculties?


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

What division?

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

Yes, I quite understand.

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


And will you be so very good as to answer one more question? Would you say thatknowledge is a faculty, or in what class would you place it?

Certainly knowledge is a faculty, and the mightiest of all faculties.

And is opinion also a faculty?

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

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

Why, yes, he said: how can any reasonable being ever identify that which isinfallible with that which errs?

An excellent answer, proving, I said, that we are quite conscious of adistinction between them.


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

That is certain.

Being is the sphere or subject-matter of knowledge, and knowledge is to knowthe nature of being?


And opinion is to have an opinion?


And do we know what we opine? or is the subject-matter of opinion the same asthe subject-matter of knowledge?

Nay, he replied, that has been already disproven; if difference in facultyimplies difference in the sphere or subject-matter, and if, as we were saying,opinion and knowledge are distinct faculties, then the sphere of knowledge andof opinion cannot be the same.

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

Yes, something else.

Well then, is not-being the subject-matter of opinion? or, rather, how canthere be an opinion at all about not-being? Reflect: when a man has an opinion,has he not an opinion about something? Can he have an opinion which is anopinion about nothing?


He who has an opinion has an opinion about some one thing?


And not-being is not one thing but, properly speaking, nothing?


Of not-being, ignorance was assumed to be the necessary correlative; of being,knowledge?

True, he said.

Then opinion is not concerned either with being or with not-being?

Not with either.

And can therefore neither be ignorance nor knowledge?

That seems to be true.

But is opinion to be sought without and beyond either of them, in a greaterclearness than knowledge, or in a greater darkness than ignorance?

In neither.

Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be darker than knowledge, butlighter than ignorance?

Both; and in no small degree.

And also to be within and between them?


Then you would infer that opinion is intermediate?

No question.

But were we not saying before, that if anything appeared to be of a sort whichis and is not at the same time, that sort of thing would appear also to lie inthe interval between pure being and absolute not-being; and that thecorresponding faculty is neither knowledge nor ignorance, but will be found inthe interval between them?


And in that interval there has now been discovered something which we callopinion?

There has.

Then what remains to be discovered is the object which partakes equally of thenature of being and not-being, and cannot rightly be termed either, pure andsimple; this unknown term, when discovered, we may truly call the subject ofopinion, and assign each to their proper faculty,—the extremes to thefaculties of the extremes and the mean to the faculty of the mean.


This being premised, I would ask the gentleman who is of opinion that there isno absolute or unchangeable idea of beauty—in whose opinion the beautifulis the manifold—he, I say, your lover of beautiful sights, who cannotbear to be told that the beautiful is one, and the just is one, or thatanything is one—to him I would appeal, saying, Will you be so very kind,sir, as to tell us whether, of all these beautiful things, there is one whichwill not be found ugly; or of the just, which will not be found unjust; or ofthe holy, which will not also be unholy?

No, he replied; the beautiful will in some point of view be found ugly; and thesame is true of the rest.

And may not the many which are doubles be also halves?—doubles, that is,of one thing, and halves of another?

Quite true.

And things great and small, heavy and light, as they are termed, will not bedenoted by these any more than by the opposite names?

True; both these and the opposite names will always attach to all of them.

And can any one of those many things which are called by particular names besaid to be this rather than not to be this?

He replied: They are like the punning riddles which are asked at feasts or thechildren’s puzzle about the eunuch aiming at the bat, with what he hithim, as they say in the puzzle, and upon what the bat was sitting. Theindividual objects of which I am speaking are also a riddle, and have a doublesense: nor can you fix them in your mind, either as being or not-being, orboth, or neither.

Then what will you do with them? I said. Can they have a better place thanbetween being and not-being? For they are clearly not in greater darkness ornegation than not-being, or more full of light and existence than being.

That is quite true, he said.

Thus then we seem to have discovered that the many ideas which the multitudeentertain about the beautiful and about all other things are tossing about insome region which is half-way between pure being and pure not-being?

We have.

Yes; and we had before agreed that anything of this kind which we might findwas to be described as matter of opinion, and not as matter of knowledge; beingthe intermediate flux which is caught and detained by the intermediate faculty.

Quite true.

Then those who see the many beautiful, and who yet neither see absolute beauty,nor can follow any guide who points the way thither; who see the many just, andnot absolute justice, and the like,—such persons may be said to haveopinion but not knowledge?

That is certain.

But those who see the absolute and eternal and immutable may be said to know,and not to have opinion only?

Neither can that be denied.

The one love and embrace the subjects of knowledge, the other those of opinion?The latter are the same, as I dare say you will remember, who listened to sweetsounds and gazed upon fair colours, but would not tolerate the existence ofabsolute beauty.

Yes, I remember.

Shall we then be guilty of any impropriety in calling them lovers of opinionrather than lovers of wisdom, and will they be very angry with us for thusdescribing them?

I shall tell them not to be angry; no man should be angry at what is true.

But those who love the truth in each thing are to be called lovers of wisdomand not lovers of opinion.


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

I do not think, he said, that the way could have been shortened.

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

And what is the next question? he asked.

Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inasmuch as philosophersonly are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander inthe region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you whichof the two classes should be the rulers of our State?

And how can we rightly answer that question?

Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of ourState—let them be our guardians.

Very good.

Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keepanything should have eyes rather than no eyes?

There can be no question of that.

And are not those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of thetrue being of each thing, and who have in their souls no clear pattern, and areunable as with a painter’s eye to look at the absolute truth and to thatoriginal to repair, and having perfect vision of the other world to order thelaws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not already ordered, and toguard and preserve the order of them—are not such persons, I ask, simplyblind?

Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.

And shall they be our guardians when there are others who, besides being theirequals in experience and falling short of them in no particular of virtue, alsoknow the very truth of each thing?

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this greatest ofall great qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail insome other respect.

Suppose then, I said, that we determine how far they can unite this and theother excellences.

By all means.

In the first place, as we began by observing, the nature of the philosopher hasto be ascertained. We must come to an understanding about him, and, when wehave done so, then, if I am not mistaken, we shall also acknowledge that suchan union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are united, andthose only, should be rulers in the State.

What do you mean?

Let us suppose that philosophical minds always love knowledge of a sort whichshows them the eternal nature not varying from generation and corruption.


And further, I said, let us agree that they are lovers of all true being; thereis no part whether greater or less, or more or less honourable, which they arewilling to renounce; as we said before of the lover and the man of ambition.


And if they are to be what we were describing, is there not another qualitywhich they should also possess?

What quality?

Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their mind falsehood,which is their detestation, and they will love the truth.

Yes, that may be safely affirmed of them.

‘May be,’ my friend, I replied, is not the word; say rather‘must be affirmed:’ for he whose nature is amorous of anythingcannot help loving all that belongs or is akin to the object of his affections.

Right, he said.

And is there anything more akin to wisdom than truth?

How can there be?

Can the same nature be a lover of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?


The true lover of learning then must from his earliest youth, as far as in himlies, desire all truth?


But then again, as we know by experience, he whose desires are strong in onedirection will have them weaker in others; they will be like a stream which hasbeen drawn off into another channel.


He whose desires are drawn towards knowledge in every form will be absorbed inthe pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure—I mean,if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one.

That is most certain.

Such an one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covetous; for themotives which make another man desirous of having and spending, have no placein his character.

Very true.

Another criterion of the philosophical nature has also to be considered.

What is that?

There should be no secret corner of illiberality; nothing can be moreantagonistic than meanness to a soul which is ever longing after the whole ofthings both divine and human.

Most true, he replied.

Then how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all timeand all existence, think much of human life?

He cannot.

Or can such an one account death fearful?

No indeed.

Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true philosophy?

Certainly not.

Or again: can he who is harmoniously constituted, who is not covetous or mean,or a boaster, or a coward—can he, I say, ever be unjust or hard in hisdealings?


Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle, or rude andunsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even in youth thephilosophical nature from the unphilosophical.


There is another point which should be remarked.

What point?

Whether he has or has not a pleasure in learning; for no one will love thatwhich gives him pain, and in which after much toil he makes little progress.

Certainly not.

And again, if he is forgetful and retains nothing of what he learns, will henot be an empty vessel?

That is certain.

Labouring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation?Yes.

Then a soul which forgets cannot be ranked among genuine philosophic natures;we must insist that the philosopher should have a good memory?


And once more, the inharmonious and unseemly nature can only tend todisproportion?


And do you consider truth to be akin to proportion or to disproportion?

To proportion.

Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturallywell-proportioned and gracious mind, which will move spontaneously towards thetrue being of everything.


Well, and do not all these qualities, which we have been enumerating, gotogether, and are they not, in a manner, necessary to a soul, which is to havea full and perfect participation of being?

They are absolutely necessary, he replied.

And must not that be a blameless study which he only can pursue who has thegift of a good memory, and is quick to learn,—noble, gracious, the friendof truth, justice, courage, temperance, who are his kindred?

The god of jealousy himself, he said, could find no fault with such a study.

And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and tothese only you will entrust the State.

Here Adeimantus interposed and said: To these statements, Socrates, no one canoffer a reply; but when you talk in this way, a strange feeling passes over theminds of your hearers: They fancy that they are led astray a little at eachstep in the argument, owing to their own want of skill in asking and answeringquestions; these littles accumulate, and at the end of the discussion they arefound to have sustained a mighty overthrow and all their former notions appearto be turned upside down. And as unskilful players of draughts are at last shutup by their more skilful adversaries and have no piece to move, so they toofind themselves shut up at last; for they have nothing to say in this new gameof which words are the counters; and yet all the time they are in the right.The observation is suggested to me by what is now occurring. For any one of usmight say, that although in words he is not able to meet you at each step ofthe argument, he sees as a fact that the votaries of philosophy, when theycarry on the study, not only in youth as a part of education, but as thepursuit of their maturer years, most of them become strange monsters, not tosay utter rogues, and that those who may be considered the best of them aremade useless to the world by the very study which you extol.

Well, and do you think that those who say so are wrong?

I cannot tell, he replied; but I should like to know what is your opinion.

Hear my answer; I am of opinion that they are quite right.

Then how can you be justified in saying that cities will not cease from eviluntil philosophers rule in them, when philosophers are acknowledged by us to beof no use to them?

You ask a question, I said, to which a reply can only be given in a parable.

Yes, Socrates; and that is a way of speaking to which you are not at allaccustomed, I suppose.

I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such ahopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still moreamused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the bestmen are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing onearth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I musthave recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things,like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller andstronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similarinfirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. Thesailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering—every one isof opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art ofnavigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will furtherassert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any onewho says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying himto commit the helm to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but othersare preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard, and havingfirst chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcoticdrug, they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with thestores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such manneras might be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids themin their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into theirown whether by force or persuasion, they compliment with the name of sailor,pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call agood-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year andseasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, ifhe intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he mustand will be the steerer, whether other people like or not—the possibilityof this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriouslyentered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vesselswhich are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will thetrue pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, agood-for-nothing?

Of course, said Adeimantus.

Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure,which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State; for youunderstand already.


Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised atfinding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him andtry to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

I will.

Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless tothe rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute theiruselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves.The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him—thatis not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors ofthe rich’—the ingenious author of this saying told a lie—butthe truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to thephysician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able togovern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to beruled by him; although the present governors of mankind are of a differentstamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the truehelmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

Precisely so, he said.

For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit ofall, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; notthat the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, butby her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser tosay, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best areuseless; in which opinion I agreed.


And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?


Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is alsounavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy anymore than the other?

By all means.

And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of thegentle and noble nature. Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom hefollowed always and in all things; failing in this, he was an impostor, and hadno part or lot in true philosophy.

Yes, that was said.

Well, and is not this one quality, to mention no others, greatly at variancewith present notions of him?

Certainly, he said.

And have we not a right to say in his defence, that the true lover of knowledgeis always striving after being—that is his nature; he will not rest inthe multiplicity of individuals which is an appearance only, but will goon—the keen edge will not be blunted, nor the force of his desire abateuntil he have attained the knowledge of the true nature of every essence by asympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power drawing near andmingling and becoming incorporate with very being, having begotten mind andtruth, he will have knowledge and will live and grow truly, and then, and nottill then, will he cease from his travail.

Nothing, he said, can be more just than such a description of him.

And will the love of a lie be any part of a philosopher’s nature? Will henot utterly hate a lie?

He will.

And when truth is the captain, we cannot suspect any evil of the band which heleads?


Justice and health of mind will be of the company, and temperance will followafter?

True, he replied.

Neither is there any reason why I should again set in array thephilosopher’s virtues, as you will doubtless remember that courage,magnificence, apprehension, memory, were his natural gifts. And you objectedthat, although no one could deny what I then said, still, if you leave wordsand look at facts, the persons who are thus described are some of themmanifestly useless, and the greater number utterly depraved; we were then ledto enquire into the grounds of these accusations, and have now arrived at thepoint of asking why are the majority bad, which question of necessity broughtus back to the examination and definition of the true philosopher.


And we have next to consider the corruptions of the philosophic nature, why somany are spoiled and so few escape spoiling—I am speaking of those whowere said to be useless but not wicked—and, when we have done with them,we will speak of the imitators of philosophy, what manner of men are they whoaspire after a profession which is above them and of which they are unworthy,and then, by their manifold inconsistencies, bring upon philosophy, and uponall philosophers, that universal reprobation of which we speak.

What are these corruptions? he said.

I will see if I can explain them to you. Every one will admit that a naturehaving in perfection all the qualities which we required in a philosopher, is arare plant which is seldom seen among men.

Rare indeed.

And what numberless and powerful causes tend to destroy these rare natures!

What causes?

In the first place there are their own virtues, their courage, temperance, andthe rest of them, every one of which praiseworthy qualities (and this is a mostsingular circumstance) destroys and distracts from philosophy the soul which isthe possessor of them.

That is very singular, he replied.

Then there are all the ordinary goods of life—beauty, wealth, strength,rank, and great connections in the State—you understand the sort ofthings—these also have a corrupting and distracting effect.

I understand; but I should like to know more precisely what you mean aboutthem.

Grasp the truth as a whole, I said, and in the right way; you will then have nodifficulty in apprehending the preceding remarks, and they will no longerappear strange to you.

And how am I to do so? he asked.

Why, I said, we know that all germs or seeds, whether vegetable or animal, whenthey fail to meet with proper nutriment or climate or soil, in proportion totheir vigour, are all the more sensitive to the want of a suitable environment,for evil is a greater enemy to what is good than to what is not.

Very true.

There is reason in supposing that the finest natures, when under alienconditions, receive more injury than the inferior, because the contrast isgreater.


And may we not say, Adeimantus, that the most gifted minds, when they areill-educated, become pre-eminently bad? Do not great crimes and the spirit ofpure evil spring out of a fulness of nature ruined by education rather thanfrom any inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any verygreat good or very great evil?

There I think that you are right.

And our philosopher follows the same analogy—he is like a plant which,having proper nurture, must necessarily grow and mature into all virtue, but,if sown and planted in an alien soil, becomes the most noxious of all weeds,unless he be preserved by some divine power. Do you really think, as people sooften say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that private teachersof the art corrupt them in any degree worth speaking of? Are not the public whosay these things the greatest of all Sophists? And do they not educate toperfection young and old, men and women alike, and fashion them after their ownhearts?

When is this accomplished? he said.

When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a courtof law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is agreat uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, andblame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping theirhands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembledredoubles the sound of the praise or blame—at such a time will not ayoung man’s heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any privatetraining enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popularopinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notionsof good and evil which the public in general have—he will do as they do,and as they are, such will he be?

Yes, Socrates; necessity will compel him.

And yet, I said, there is a still greater necessity, which has not beenmentioned.

What is that?

The gentle force of attainder or confiscation or death, which, as you areaware, these new Sophists and educators, who are the public, apply when theirwords are powerless.

Indeed they do; and in right good earnest.

Now what opinion of any other Sophist, or of any private person, can beexpected to overcome in such an unequal contest?

None, he replied.

No, indeed, I said, even to make the attempt is a great piece of folly; thereneither is, nor has been, nor is ever likely to be, any different type ofcharacter which has had no other training in virtue but that which is suppliedby public opinion—I speak, my friend, of human virtue only; what is morethan human, as the proverb says, is not included: for I would not have youignorant that, in the present evil state of governments, whatever is saved andcomes to good is saved by the power of God, as we may truly say.

I quite assent, he replied.

Then let me crave your assent also to a further observation.

What are you going to say?

Why, that all those mercenary individuals, whom the many call Sophists and whomthey deem to be their adversaries, do, in fact, teach nothing but the opinionof the many, that is to say, the opinions of their assemblies; and this istheir wisdom. I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers anddesires of a mighty strong beast who is fed by him—he would learn how toapproach and handle him, also at what times and from what causes he isdangerous or the reverse, and what is the meaning of his several cries, and bywhat sounds, when another utters them, he is soothed or infuriated; and you maysuppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him, he has becomeperfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wisdom, and makes of it a system orart, which he proceeds to teach, although he has no real notion of what hemeans by the principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls thishonourable and that dishonourable, or good or evil, or just or unjust, all inaccordance with the tastes and tempers of the great brute. Good he pronouncesto be that in which the beast delights and evil to be that which he dislikes;and he can give no other account of them except that the just and noble are thenecessary, having never himself seen, and having no power of explaining toothers the nature of either, or the difference between them, which is immense.By heaven, would not such an one be a rare educator?

Indeed he would.

And in what way does he who thinks that wisdom is the discernment of thetempers and tastes of the motley multitude, whether in painting or music, or,finally, in politics, differ from him whom I have been describing? For when aman consorts with the many, and exhibits to them his poem or other work of artor the service which he has done the State, making them his judges when he isnot obliged, the so-called necessity of Diomede will oblige him to producewhatever they praise. And yet the reasons are utterly ludicrous which they givein confirmation of their own notions about the honourable and good. Did youever hear any of them which were not?

No, nor am I likely to hear.

You recognise the truth of what I have been saying? Then let me ask you toconsider further whether the world will ever be induced to believe in theexistence of absolute beauty rather than of the many beautiful, or of theabsolute in each kind rather than of the many in each kind?

Certainly not.

Then the world cannot possibly be a philosopher?


And therefore philosophers must inevitably fall under the censure of the world?

They must.

And of individuals who consort with the mob and seek to please them?

That is evident.

Then, do you see any way in which the philosopher can be preserved in hiscalling to the end? and remember what we were saying of him, that he was tohave quickness and memory and courage and magnificence—these wereadmitted by us to be the true philosopher’s gifts.


Will not such an one from his early childhood be in all things first among all,especially if his bodily endowments are like his mental ones?

Certainly, he said.

And his friends and fellow-citizens will want to use him as he gets older fortheir own purposes?

No question.

Falling at his feet, they will make requests to him and do him honour andflatter him, because they want to get into their hands now, the power which hewill one day possess.

That often happens, he said.

And what will a man such as he is be likely to do under such circumstances,especially if he be a citizen of a great city, rich and noble, and a tallproper youth? Will he not be full of boundless aspirations, and fancy himselfable to manage the affairs of Hellenes and of barbarians, and having got suchnotions into his head will he not dilate and elevate himself in the fulness ofvain pomp and senseless pride?

To be sure he will.

Now, when he is in this state of mind, if some one gently comes to him andtells him that he is a fool and must get understanding, which can only be gotby slaving for it, do you think that, under such adverse circumstances, he willbe easily induced to listen?

Far otherwise.

And even if there be some one who through inherent goodness or naturalreasonableness has had his eyes opened a little and is humbled and takencaptive by philosophy, how will his friends behave when they think that theyare likely to lose the advantage which they were hoping to reap from hiscompanionship? Will they not do and say anything to prevent him from yieldingto his better nature and to render his teacher powerless, using to this endprivate intrigues as well as public prosecutions?

There can be no doubt of it.

And how can one who is thus circumstanced ever become a philosopher?


Then were we not right in saying that even the very qualities which make a mana philosopher may, if he be ill-educated, divert him from philosophy, no lessthan riches and their accompaniments and the other so-called goods of life?

We were quite right.

Thus, my excellent friend, is brought about all that ruin and failure which Ihave been describing of the natures best adapted to the best of all pursuits;they are natures which we maintain to be rare at any time; this being the classout of which come the men who are the authors of the greatest evil to Statesand individuals; and also of the greatest good when the tide carries them inthat direction; but a small man never was the doer of any great thing either toindividuals or to States.

That is most true, he said.

And so philosophy is left desolate, with her marriage rite incomplete: for herown have fallen away and forsaken her, and while they are leading a false andunbecoming life, other unworthy persons, seeing that she has no kinsmen to beher protectors, enter in and dishonour her; and fasten upon her the reproacheswhich, as you say, her reprovers utter, who affirm of her votaries that someare good for nothing, and that the greater number deserve the severestpunishment.

That is certainly what people say.

Yes; and what else would you expect, I said, when you think of the punycreatures who, seeing this land open to them—a land well stocked withfair names and showy titles—like prisoners running out of prison into asanctuary, take a leap out of their trades into philosophy; those who do sobeing probably the cleverest hands at their own miserable crafts? For, althoughphilosophy be in this evil case, still there remains a dignity about her whichis not to be found in the arts. And many are thus attracted by her whosenatures are imperfect and whose souls are maimed and disfigured by theirmeannesses, as their bodies are by their trades and crafts. Is not thisunavoidable?


Are they not exactly like a bald little tinker who has just got out of duranceand come into a fortune; he takes a bath and puts on a new coat, and is deckedout as a bridegroom going to marry his master’s daughter, who is leftpoor and desolate?

A most exact parallel.

What will be the issue of such marriages? Will they not be vile and bastard?

There can be no question of it.

And when persons who are unworthy of education approach philosophy and make analliance with her who is in a rank above them what sort of ideas and opinionsare likely to be generated? Will they not be sophisms captivating to the ear,having nothing in them genuine, or worthy of or akin to true wisdom?

No doubt, he said.

Then, Adeimantus, I said, the worthy disciples of philosophy will be but asmall remnant: perchance some noble and well-educated person, detained by exilein her service, who in the absence of corrupting influences remains devoted toher; or some lofty soul born in a mean city, the politics of which he contemnsand neglects; and there may be a gifted few who leave the arts, which theyjustly despise, and come to her;—or peradventure there are some who arerestrained by our friend Theages’ bridle; for everything in the life ofTheages conspired to divert him from philosophy; but ill-health kept him awayfrom politics. My own case of the internal sign is hardly worth mentioning, forrarely, if ever, has such a monitor been given to any other man. Those whobelong to this small class have tasted how sweet and blessed a possessionphilosophy is, and have also seen enough of the madness of the multitude; andthey know that no politician is honest, nor is there any champion of justice atwhose side they may fight and be saved. Such an one may be compared to a manwho has fallen among wild beasts—he will not join in the wickedness ofhis fellows, but neither is he able singly to resist all their fierce natures,and therefore seeing that he would be of no use to the State or to his friends,and reflecting that he would have to throw away his life without doing any goodeither to himself or others, he holds his peace, and goes his own way. He islike one who, in the storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurriesalong, retires under the shelter of a wall; and seeing the rest of mankind fullof wickedness, he is content, if only he can live his own life and be pure fromevil or unrighteousness, and depart in peace and good-will, with bright hopes.

Yes, he said, and he will have done a great work before he departs.

A great work—yes; but not the greatest, unless he find a State suitableto him; for in a State which is suitable to him, he will have a larger growthand be the saviour of his country, as well as of himself.

The causes why philosophy is in such an evil name have now been sufficientlyexplained: the injustice of the charges against her has been shown—isthere anything more which you wish to say?

Nothing more on that subject, he replied; but I should like to know which ofthe governments now existing is in your opinion the one adapted to her.

Not any of them, I said; and that is precisely the accusation which I bringagainst them—not one of them is worthy of the philosophic nature, andhence that nature is warped and estranged;—as the exotic seed which issown in a foreign land becomes denaturalized, and is wont to be overpowered andto lose itself in the new soil, even so this growth of philosophy, instead ofpersisting, degenerates and receives another character. But if philosophy everfinds in the State that perfection which she herself is, then will be seen thatshe is in truth divine, and that all other things, whether natures of men orinstitutions, are but human;—and now, I know, that you are going to ask,What that State is:

No, he said; there you are wrong, for I was going to ask anotherquestion—whether it is the State of which we are the founders andinventors, or some other?

Yes, I replied, ours in most respects; but you may remember my saying before,that some living authority would always be required in the State having thesame idea of the constitution which guided you when as legislator you werelaying down the laws.

That was said, he replied.

Yes, but not in a satisfactory manner; you frightened us by interposingobjections, which certainly showed that the discussion would be long anddifficult; and what still remains is the reverse of easy.

What is there remaining?

The question how the study of philosophy may be so ordered as not to be theruin of the State: All great attempts are attended with risk; ‘hard isthe good,’ as men say.

Still, he said, let the point be cleared up, and the enquiry will then becomplete.

I shall not be hindered, I said, by any want of will, but, if at all, by a wantof power: my zeal you may see for yourselves; and please to remark in what I amabout to say how boldly and unhesitatingly I declare that States should pursuephilosophy, not as they do now, but in a different spirit.

In what manner?

At present, I said, the students of philosophy are quite young; beginning whenthey are hardly past childhood, they devote only the time saved frommoneymaking and housekeeping to such pursuits; and even those of them who arereputed to have most of the philosophic spirit, when they come within sight ofthe great difficulty of the subject, I mean dialectic, take themselves off. Inafter life when invited by some one else, they may, perhaps, go and hear alecture, and about this they make much ado, for philosophy is not considered bythem to be their proper business: at last, when they grow old, in most casesthey are extinguished more truly than Heracleitus’ sun, inasmuch as theynever light up again. (Heraclitus said that the sun was extinguished everyevening and relighted every morning.)

But what ought to be their course?

Just the opposite. In childhood and youth their study, and what philosophy theylearn, should be suited to their tender years: during this period while theyare growing up towards manhood, the chief and special care should be given totheir bodies that they may have them to use in the service of philosophy; aslife advances and the intellect begins to mature, let them increase thegymnastics of the soul; but when the strength of our citizens fails and is pastcivil and military duties, then let them range at will and engage in no seriouslabour, as we intend them to live happily here, and to crown this life with asimilar happiness in another.

How truly in earnest you are, Socrates! he said; I am sure of that; and yetmost of your hearers, if I am not mistaken, are likely to be still more earnestin their opposition to you, and will never be convinced; Thrasymachus least ofall.

Do not make a quarrel, I said, between Thrasymachus and me, who have recentlybecome friends, although, indeed, we were never enemies; for I shall go onstriving to the utmost until I either convert him and other men, or dosomething which may profit them against the day when they live again, and holdthe like discourse in another state of existence.

You are speaking of a time which is not very near.

Rather, I replied, of a time which is as nothing in comparison with eternity.Nevertheless, I do not wonder that the many refuse to believe; for they havenever seen that of which we are now speaking realized; they have seen only aconventional imitation of philosophy, consisting of words artificially broughttogether, not like these of ours having a natural unity. But a human being whoin word and work is perfectly moulded, as far as he can be, into the proportionand likeness of virtue—such a man ruling in a city which bears the sameimage, they have never yet seen, neither one nor many of them—do youthink that they ever did?

No indeed.

No, my friend, and they have seldom, if ever, heard free and noble sentiments;such as men utter when they are earnestly and by every means in their powerseeking after truth for the sake of knowledge, while they look coldly on thesubtleties of controversy, of which the end is opinion and strife, whether theymeet with them in the courts of law or in society.

They are strangers, he said, to the words of which you speak.

And this was what we foresaw, and this was the reason why truth forced us toadmit, not without fear and hesitation, that neither cities nor States norindividuals will ever attain perfection until the small class of philosopherswhom we termed useless but not corrupt are providentially compelled, whetherthey will or not, to take care of the State, and until a like necessity be laidon the State to obey them; or until kings, or if not kings, the sons of kingsor princes, are divinely inspired with a true love of true philosophy. Thateither or both of these alternatives are impossible, I see no reason to affirm:if they were so, we might indeed be justly ridiculed as dreamers andvisionaries. Am I not right?

Quite right.

If then, in the countless ages of the past, or at the present hour in someforeign clime which is far away and beyond our ken, the perfected philosopheris or has been or hereafter shall be compelled by a superior power to have thecharge of the State, we are ready to assert to the death, that this ourconstitution has been, and is—yea, and will be whenever the Muse ofPhilosophy is queen. There is no impossibility in all this; that there is adifficulty, we acknowledge ourselves.

My opinion agrees with yours, he said.

But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the multitude?

I should imagine not, he replied.

O my friend, I said, do not attack the multitude: they will change their minds,if, not in an aggressive spirit, but gently and with the view of soothing themand removing their dislike of over-education, you show them your philosophersas they really are and describe as you were just now doing their character andprofession, and then mankind will see that he of whom you are speaking is notsuch as they supposed—if they view him in this new light, they willsurely change their notion of him, and answer in another strain. Who can be atenmity with one who loves them, who that is himself gentle and free from envywill be jealous of one in whom there is no jealousy? Nay, let me answer foryou, that in a few this harsh temper may be found but not in the majority ofmankind.

I quite agree with you, he said.

And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling which the manyentertain towards philosophy originates in the pretenders, who rush inuninvited, and are always abusing them, and finding fault with them, who makepersons instead of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can bemore unbecoming in philosophers than this.

It is most unbecoming.

For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being, has surely no time tolook down upon the affairs of earth, or to be filled with malice and envy,contending against men; his eye is ever directed towards things fixed andimmutable, which he sees neither injuring nor injured by one another, but allin order moving according to reason; these he imitates, and to these he will,as far as he can, conform himself. Can a man help imitating that with which heholds reverential converse?


And the philosopher holding converse with the divine order, becomes orderly anddivine, as far as the nature of man allows; but like every one else, he willsuffer from detraction.

Of course.

And if a necessity be laid upon him of fashioning, not only himself, but humannature generally, whether in States or individuals, into that which he beholdselsewhere, will he, think you, be an unskilful artificer of justice,temperance, and every civil virtue?

Anything but unskilful.

And if the world perceives that what we are saying about him is the truth, willthey be angry with philosophy? Will they disbelieve us, when we tell them thatno State can be happy which is not designed by artists who imitate the heavenlypattern?

They will not be angry if they understand, he said. But how will they draw outthe plan of which you are speaking?

They will begin by taking the State and the manners of men, from which, as froma tablet, they will rub out the picture, and leave a clean surface. This is noeasy task. But whether easy or not, herein will lie the difference between themand every other legislator,—they will have nothing to do either withindividual or State, and will inscribe no laws, until they have either found,or themselves made, a clean surface.

They will be very right, he said.

Having effected this, they will proceed to trace an outline of theconstitution?

No doubt.

And when they are filling in the work, as I conceive, they will often turntheir eyes upwards and downwards: I mean that they will first look at absolutejustice and beauty and temperance, and again at the human copy; and will mingleand temper the various elements of life into the image of a man; and this theywill conceive according to that other image, which, when existing among men,Homer calls the form and likeness of God.

Very true, he said.

And one feature they will erase, and another they will put in, until they havemade the ways of men, as far as possible, agreeable to the ways of God?

Indeed, he said, in no way could they make a fairer picture.

And now, I said, are we beginning to persuade those whom you described asrushing at us with might and main, that the painter of constitutions is such anone as we are praising; at whom they were so very indignant because to hishands we committed the State; and are they growing a little calmer at what theyhave just heard?

Much calmer, if there is any sense in them.

Why, where can they still find any ground for objection? Will they doubt thatthe philosopher is a lover of truth and being?

They would not be so unreasonable.

Or that his nature, being such as we have delineated, is akin to the highestgood?

Neither can they doubt this.

But again, will they tell us that such a nature, placed under favourablecircumstances, will not be perfectly good and wise if any ever was? Or willthey prefer those whom we have rejected?

Surely not.

Then will they still be angry at our saying, that, until philosophers bearrule, States and individuals will have no rest from evil, nor will this ourimaginary State ever be realized?

I think that they will be less angry.

Shall we assume that they are not only less angry but quite gentle, and thatthey have been converted and for very shame, if for no other reason, cannotrefuse to come to terms?

By all means, he said.

Then let us suppose that the reconciliation has been effected. Will any onedeny the other point, that there may be sons of kings or princes who are bynature philosophers?

Surely no man, he said.

And when they have come into being will any one say that they must of necessitybe destroyed; that they can hardly be saved is not denied even by us; but thatin the whole course of ages no single one of them can escape—who willventure to affirm this?

Who indeed!

But, said I, one is enough; let there be one man who has a city obedient to hiswill, and he might bring into existence the ideal polity about which the worldis so incredulous.

Yes, one is enough.

The ruler may impose the laws and institutions which we have been describing,and the citizens may possibly be willing to obey them?


And that others should approve, of what we approve, is no miracle orimpossibility?

I think not.

But we have sufficiently shown, in what has preceded, that all this, if onlypossible, is assuredly for the best.

We have.

And now we say not only that our laws, if they could be enacted, would be forthe best, but also that the enactment of them, though difficult, is notimpossible.

Very good.

And so with pain and toil we have reached the end of one subject, but moreremains to be discussed;—how and by what studies and pursuits will thesaviours of the constitution be created, and at what ages are they to applythemselves to their several studies?


I omitted the troublesome business of the possession of women, and theprocreation of children, and the appointment of the rulers, because I knew thatthe perfect State would be eyed with jealousy and was difficult of attainment;but that piece of cleverness was not of much service to me, for I had todiscuss them all the same. The women and children are now disposed of, but theother question of the rulers must be investigated from the very beginning. Wewere saying, as you will remember, that they were to be lovers of theircountry, tried by the test of pleasures and pains, and neither in hardships,nor in dangers, nor at any other critical moment were to lose theirpatriotism—he was to be rejected who failed, but he who always came forthpure, like gold tried in the refiner’s fire, was to be made a ruler, andto receive honours and rewards in life and after death. This was the sort ofthing which was being said, and then the argument turned aside and veiled herface; not liking to stir the question which has now arisen.

I perfectly remember, he said.

Yes, my friend, I said, and I then shrank from hazarding the bold word; but nowlet me dare to say—that the perfect guardian must be a philosopher.

Yes, he said, let that be affirmed.

And do not suppose that there will be many of them; for the gifts which weredeemed by us to be essential rarely grow together; they are mostly found inshreds and patches.

What do you mean? he said.

You are aware, I replied, that quick intelligence, memory, sagacity,cleverness, and similar qualities, do not often grow together, and that personswho possess them and are at the same time high-spirited and magnanimous are notso constituted by nature as to live orderly and in a peaceful and settledmanner; they are driven any way by their impulses, and all solid principle goesout of them.

Very true, he said.

On the other hand, those steadfast natures which can better be depended upon,which in a battle are impregnable to fear and immovable, are equally immovablewhen there is anything to be learned; they are always in a torpid state, andare apt to yawn and go to sleep over any intellectual toil.

Quite true.

And yet we were saying that both qualities were necessary in those to whom thehigher education is to be imparted, and who are to share in any office orcommand.

Certainly, he said.

And will they be a class which is rarely found?

Yes, indeed.

Then the aspirant must not only be tested in those labours and dangers andpleasures which we mentioned before, but there is another kind of probationwhich we did not mention—he must be exercised also in many kinds ofknowledge, to see whether the soul will be able to endure the highest of all,or will faint under them, as in any other studies and exercises.

Yes, he said, you are quite right in testing him. But what do you mean by thehighest of all knowledge?

You may remember, I said, that we divided the soul into three parts; anddistinguished the several natures of justice, temperance, courage, and wisdom?

Indeed, he said, if I had forgotten, I should not deserve to hear more.

And do you remember the word of caution which preceded the discussion of them?

To what do you refer?

We were saying, if I am not mistaken, that he who wanted to see them in theirperfect beauty must take a longer and more circuitous way, at the end of whichthey would appear; but that we could add on a popular exposition of them on alevel with the discussion which had preceded. And you replied that such anexposition would be enough for you, and so the enquiry was continued in what tome seemed to be a very inaccurate manner; whether you were satisfied or not, itis for you to say.

Yes, he said, I thought and the others thought that you gave us a fair measureof truth.

But, my friend, I said, a measure of such things which in any degree fallsshort of the whole truth is not fair measure; for nothing imperfect is themeasure of anything, although persons are too apt to be contented and thinkthat they need search no further.

Not an uncommon case when people are indolent.

Yes, I said; and there cannot be any worse fault in a guardian of the State andof the laws.


The guardian then, I said, must be required to take the longer circuit, andtoil at learning as well as at gymnastics, or he will never reach the highestknowledge of all which, as we were just now saying, is his proper calling.

What, he said, is there a knowledge still higher than this—higher thanjustice and the other virtues?

Yes, I said, there is. And of the virtues too we must behold not the outlinemerely, as at present—nothing short of the most finished picture shouldsatisfy us. When little things are elaborated with an infinity of pains, inorder that they may appear in their full beauty and utmost clearness, howridiculous that we should not think the highest truths worthy of attaining thehighest accuracy!

A right noble thought; but do you suppose that we shall refrain from asking youwhat is this highest knowledge?

Nay, I said, ask if you will; but I am certain that you have heard the answermany times, and now you either do not understand me or, as I rather think, youare disposed to be troublesome; for you have often been told that the idea ofgood is the highest knowledge, and that all other things become useful andadvantageous only by their use of this. You can hardly be ignorant that of thisI was about to speak, concerning which, as you have often heard me say, we knowso little; and, without which, any other knowledge or possession of any kindwill profit us nothing. Do you think that the possession of all other things isof any value if we do not possess the good? or the knowledge of all otherthings if we have no knowledge of beauty and goodness?

Assuredly not.

You are further aware that most people affirm pleasure to be the good, but thefiner sort of wits say it is knowledge?


And you are aware too that the latter cannot explain what they mean byknowledge, but are obliged after all to say knowledge of the good?

How ridiculous!

Yes, I said, that they should begin by reproaching us with our ignorance of thegood, and then presume our knowledge of it—for the good they define to beknowledge of the good, just as if we understood them when they use the term‘good’—this is of course ridiculous.

Most true, he said.

And those who make pleasure their good are in equal perplexity; for they arecompelled to admit that there are bad pleasures as well as good.


And therefore to acknowledge that bad and good are the same?


There can be no doubt about the numerous difficulties in which this question isinvolved.

There can be none.

Further, do we not see that many are willing to do or to have or to seem to bewhat is just and honourable without the reality; but no one is satisfied withthe appearance of good—the reality is what they seek; in the case of thegood, appearance is despised by every one.

Very true, he said.

Of this then, which every soul of man pursues and makes the end of all hisactions, having a presentiment that there is such an end, and yet hesitatingbecause neither knowing the nature nor having the same assurance of this as ofother things, and therefore losing whatever good there is in otherthings,—of a principle such and so great as this ought the best men inour State, to whom everything is entrusted, to be in the darkness of ignorance?

Certainly not, he said.

I am sure, I said, that he who does not know how the beautiful and the just arelikewise good will be but a sorry guardian of them; and I suspect that no onewho is ignorant of the good will have a true knowledge of them.

That, he said, is a shrewd suspicion of yours.

And if we only have a guardian who has this knowledge our State will beperfectly ordered?

Of course, he replied; but I wish that you would tell me whether you conceivethis supreme principle of the good to be knowledge or pleasure, or differentfrom either?

Aye, I said, I knew all along that a fastidious gentleman like you would not becontented with the thoughts of other people about these matters.

True, Socrates; but I must say that one who like you has passed a lifetime inthe study of philosophy should not be always repeating the opinions of others,and never telling his own.

Well, but has any one a right to say positively what he does not know?

Not, he said, with the assurance of positive certainty; he has no right to dothat: but he may say what he thinks, as a matter of opinion.

And do you not know, I said, that all mere opinions are bad, and the best ofthem blind? You would not deny that those who have any true notion withoutintelligence are only like blind men who feel their way along the road?

Very true.

And do you wish to behold what is blind and crooked and base, when others willtell you of brightness and beauty?

Still, I must implore you, Socrates, said Glaucon, not to turn away just as youare reaching the goal; if you will only give such an explanation of the good asyou have already given of justice and temperance and the other virtues, weshall be satisfied.

Yes, my friend, and I shall be at least equally satisfied, but I cannot helpfearing that I shall fail, and that my indiscreet zeal will bring ridicule uponme. No, sweet sirs, let us not at present ask what is the actual nature of thegood, for to reach what is now in my thoughts would be an effort too great forme. But of the child of the good who is likest him, I would fain speak, if Icould be sure that you wished to hear—otherwise, not.

By all means, he said, tell us about the child, and you shall remain in ourdebt for the account of the parent.

I do indeed wish, I replied, that I could pay, and you receive, the account ofthe parent, and not, as now, of the offspring only; take, however, this latterby way of interest, and at the same time have a care that I do not render afalse account, although I have no intention of deceiving you.

Yes, we will take all the care that we can: proceed.

Yes, I said, but I must first come to an understanding with you, and remind youof what I have mentioned in the course of this discussion, and at many othertimes.


The old story, that there is a many beautiful and a many good, and so of otherthings which we describe and define; to all of them the term ‘many’is applied.

True, he said.

And there is an absolute beauty and an absolute good, and of other things towhich the term ‘many’ is applied there is an absolute; for they maybe brought under a single idea, which is called the essence of each.

Very true.

The many, as we say, are seen but not known, and the ideas are known but notseen.


And what is the organ with which we see the visible things?

The sight, he said.

And with the hearing, I said, we hear, and with the other senses perceive theother objects of sense?


But have you remarked that sight is by far the most costly and complex piece ofworkmanship which the artificer of the senses ever contrived?

No, I never have, he said.

Then reflect; has the ear or voice need of any third or additional nature inorder that the one may be able to hear and the other to be heard?

Nothing of the sort.

No, indeed, I replied; and the same is true of most, if not all, the othersenses—you would not say that any of them requires such an addition?

Certainly not.

But you see that without the addition of some other nature there is no seeingor being seen?

How do you mean?

Sight being, as I conceive, in the eyes, and he who has eyes wanting to see;colour being also present in them, still unless there be a third naturespecially adapted to the purpose, the owner of the eyes will see nothing andthe colours will be invisible.

Of what nature are you speaking?

Of that which you term light, I replied.

True, he said.

Noble, then, is the bond which links together sight and visibility, and greatbeyond other bonds by no small difference of nature; for light is their bond,and light is no ignoble thing?

Nay, he said, the reverse of ignoble.

And which, I said, of the gods in heaven would you say was the lord of thiselement? Whose is that light which makes the eye to see perfectly and thevisible to appear?

You mean the sun, as you and all mankind say.

May not the relation of sight to this deity be described as follows?


Neither sight nor the eye in which sight resides is the sun?


Yet of all the organs of sense the eye is the most like the sun?

By far the most like.

And the power which the eye possesses is a sort of effluence which is dispensedfrom the sun?


Then the sun is not sight, but the author of sight who is recognised by sight?

True, he said.

And this is he whom I call the child of the good, whom the good begat in hisown likeness, to be in the visible world, in relation to sight and the thingsof sight, what the good is in the intellectual world in relation to mind andthe things of mind:

Will you be a little more explicit? he said.

Why, you know, I said, that the eyes, when a person directs them towardsobjects on which the light of day is no longer shining, but the moon and starsonly, see dimly, and are nearly blind; they seem to have no clearness of visionin them?

Very true.

But when they are directed towards objects on which the sun shines, they seeclearly and there is sight in them?


And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and beingshine, the soul perceives and understands, and is radiant with intelligence;but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she hasopinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then ofanother, and seems to have no intelligence?

Just so.

Now, that which imparts truth to the known and the power of knowing to theknower is what I would have you term the idea of good, and this you will deemto be the cause of science, and of truth in so far as the latter becomes thesubject of knowledge; beautiful too, as are both truth and knowledge, you willbe right in esteeming this other nature as more beautiful than either; and, asin the previous instance, light and sight may be truly said to be like the sun,and yet not to be the sun, so in this other sphere, science and truth may bedeemed to be like the good, but not the good; the good has a place of honouryet higher.

What a wonder of beauty that must be, he said, which is the author of scienceand truth, and yet surpasses them in beauty; for you surely cannot mean to saythat pleasure is the good?

God forbid, I replied; but may I ask you to consider the image in another pointof view?

In what point of view?

You would say, would you not, that the sun is not only the author of visibilityin all visible things, but of generation and nourishment and growth, though hehimself is not generation?


In like manner the good may be said to be not only the author of knowledge toall things known, but of their being and essence, and yet the good is notessence, but far exceeds essence in dignity and power.

Glaucon said, with a ludicrous earnestness: By the light of heaven, howamazing!

Yes, I said, and the exaggeration may be set down to you; for you made me uttermy fancies.

And pray continue to utter them; at any rate let us hear if there is anythingmore to be said about the similitude of the sun.

Yes, I said, there is a great deal more.

Then omit nothing, however slight.

I will do my best, I said; but I should think that a great deal will have to beomitted.

I hope not, he said.

You have to imagine, then, that there are two ruling powers, and that one ofthem is set over the intellectual world, the other over the visible. I do notsay heaven, lest you should fancy that I am playing upon the name(‘ourhanoz, orhatoz’). May I suppose that you have this distinctionof the visible and intelligible fixed in your mind?

I have.

Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts, and divide each ofthem again in the same proportion, and suppose the two main divisions toanswer, one to the visible and the other to the intelligible, and then comparethe subdivisions in respect of their clearness and want of clearness, and youwill find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists ofimages. And by images I mean, in the first place, shadows, and in the secondplace, reflections in water and in solid, smooth and polished bodies and thelike: Do you understand?

Yes, I understand.

Imagine, now, the other section, of which this is only the resemblance, toinclude the animals which we see, and everything that grows or is made.

Very good.

Would you not admit that both the sections of this division have differentdegrees of truth, and that the copy is to the original as the sphere of opinionis to the sphere of knowledge?

Most undoubtedly.

Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of the intellectual isto be divided.

In what manner?

Thus:—There are two subdivisions, in the lower of which the soul uses thefigures given by the former division as images; the enquiry can only behypothetical, and instead of going upwards to a principle descends to the otherend; in the higher of the two, the soul passes out of hypotheses, and goes upto a principle which is above hypotheses, making no use of images as in theformer case, but proceeding only in and through the ideas themselves.

I do not quite understand your meaning, he said.

Then I will try again; you will understand me better when I have made somepreliminary remarks. You are aware that students of geometry, arithmetic, andthe kindred sciences assume the odd and the even and the figures and threekinds of angles and the like in their several branches of science; these aretheir hypotheses, which they and every body are supposed to know, and thereforethey do not deign to give any account of them either to themselves or others;but they begin with them, and go on until they arrive at last, and in aconsistent manner, at their conclusion?

Yes, he said, I know.

And do you not know also that although they make use of the visible forms andreason about them, they are thinking not of these, but of the ideals which theyresemble; not of the figures which they draw, but of the absolute square andthe absolute diameter, and so on—the forms which they draw or make, andwhich have shadows and reflections in water of their own, are converted by theminto images, but they are really seeking to behold the things themselves, whichcan only be seen with the eye of the mind?

That is true.

And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible, although in the search after itthe soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not ascending to a first principle,because she is unable to rise above the region of hypothesis, but employing theobjects of which the shadows below are resemblances in their turn as images,they having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a greaterdistinctness, and therefore a higher value.

I understand, he said, that you are speaking of the province of geometry andthe sister arts.

And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understandme to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason herself attains by thepower of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only ashypotheses—that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a worldwhich is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the firstprinciple of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends onthis, by successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensibleobject, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.

I understand you, he replied; not perfectly, for you seem to me to bedescribing a task which is really tremendous; but, at any rate, I understandyou to say that knowledge and being, which the science of dialecticcontemplates, are clearer than the notions of the arts, as they are termed,which proceed from hypotheses only: these are also contemplated by theunderstanding, and not by the senses: yet, because they start from hypothesesand do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate them appear to you notto exercise the higher reason upon them, although when a first principle isadded to them they are cognizable by the higher reason. And the habit which isconcerned with geometry and the cognate sciences I suppose that you would termunderstanding and not reason, as being intermediate between opinion and reason.

You have quite conceived my meaning, I said; and now, corresponding to thesefour divisions, let there be four faculties in the soul—reason answeringto the highest, understanding to the second, faith (or conviction) to thethird, and perception of shadows to the last—and let there be a scale ofthem, and let us suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the samedegree that their objects have truth.

I understand, he replied, and give my assent, and accept your arrangement.

And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened orunenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in a underground den, whichhas a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here theyhave been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so thatthey cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chainsfrom turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at adistance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and youwill see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen whichmarionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts ofvessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and variousmaterials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadowsof one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were neverallowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only seethe shadows?

Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose thatthey were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side,would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voicewhich they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of theimages.

That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners arereleased and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberatedand compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and looktowards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, andhe will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seenthe shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw beforewas an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and hiseye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,—whatwill be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointingto the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them,—will he notbe perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw aretruer than the objects which are now shown to him?

Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a painin his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects ofvision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearerthan the things which are now being shown to him?

True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and ruggedascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun himself,is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light hiseyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of whatare now called realities.

Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And firsthe will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects inthe water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light ofthe moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and thestars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?


Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him inthe water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; andhe will contemplate him as he is.


He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and theyears, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in acertain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have beenaccustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and hisfellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on thechange, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on thosewho were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of themwent before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who weretherefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that hewould care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Wouldhe not say with Homer,

‘Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,’

and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after theirmanner?

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain thesefalse notions and live in this miserable manner.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to bereplaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full ofdarkness?

To be sure, he said.

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadowswith the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight wasstill weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would beneeded to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would henot be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he camewithout his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and ifany one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them onlycatch the offender, and they would put him to death.

No question, he said.

This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previousargument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is thesun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards tobe the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poorbelief, which, at your desire, I have expressed—whether rightly orwrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the worldof knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with aneffort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of allthings beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in thisvisible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in theintellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationallyeither in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.

Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatificvision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are everhastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire oftheirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

Yes, very natural.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplationsto the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, whilehis eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surroundingdarkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, aboutthe images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet theconceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

Anything but surprising, he replied.

Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyesare of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of thelight or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye,quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he willfirst ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and isunable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darknessto the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy inhis condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have amind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will bemore reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from aboveout of the light into the den.

That, he said, is a very just distinction.

But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong whenthey say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not therebefore, like sight into blind eyes.

They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists inthe soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness tolight without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only bythe movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into thatof being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of thebrightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

Very true.

And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest andquickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already,but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodilyqualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implantedlater by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom more than anything elsecontains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion isrendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Didyou never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of aclever rogue—how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way tohis end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eye-sight is forced into theservice of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?

Very true, he said.

But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of theiryouth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eatingand drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth,and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the thingsthat are below—if, I say, they had been released from these impedimentsand turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would haveseen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

Very likely.

Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or rather a necessaryinference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed ofthe truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be ableministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of dutywhich is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor thelatter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying thatthey are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

Very true, he replied.

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be tocompel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown tobe the greatest of all—they must continue to ascend until they arrive atthe good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them todo as they do now.

What do you mean?

I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; theymust be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake oftheir labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.

But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when theymight have a better?

You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator,who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; thehappiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together bypersuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and thereforebenefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to pleasethemselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

True, he said, I had forgotten.

Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling ourphilosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to themthat in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toilsof politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will,and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannotbe expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received.But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings ofyourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and moreperfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in thedouble duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to thegeneral underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When youhave acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than theinhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and whatthey represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in theirtruth. And thus our State, which is also yours, will be a reality, and not adream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States,in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted inthe struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truthis that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is alwaysthe best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager,the worst.

Quite true, he replied.

And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at thetoils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their timewith one another in the heavenly light?

Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which weimpose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them willtake office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our presentrulers of State.

Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for yourfuture rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you mayhave a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will theyrule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom,which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administrationof public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage,thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can neverbe; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broilswhich thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the wholeState.

Most true, he replied.

And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is thatof true philosophy. Do you know of any other?

Indeed, I do not, he said.

And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are,there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.

No question.

Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will bethe men who are wisest about affairs of State, and by whom the State is bestadministered, and who at the same time have other honours and another and abetter life than that of politics?

They are the men, and I will choose them, he replied.

And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and howthey are to be brought from darkness to light,—as some are said to haveascended from the world below to the gods?

By all means, he replied.

The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell (In allusion toa game in which two parties fled or pursued according as an oyster-shell whichwas thrown into the air fell with the dark or light side uppermost.), but theturning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night tothe true day of being, that is, the ascent from below, which we affirm to betrue philosophy?

Quite so.

And should we not enquire what sort of knowledge has the power of effectingsuch a change?


What sort of knowledge is there which would draw the soul from becoming tobeing? And another consideration has just occurred to me: You will rememberthat our young men are to be warrior athletes?

Yes, that was said.

Then this new kind of knowledge must have an additional quality?

What quality?

Usefulness in war.

Yes, if possible.

There were two parts in our former scheme of education, were there not?

Just so.

There was gymnastic which presided over the growth and decay of the body, andmay therefore be regarded as having to do with generation and corruption?


Then that is not the knowledge which we are seeking to discover?


But what do you say of music, which also entered to a certain extent into ourformer scheme?

Music, he said, as you will remember, was the counterpart of gymnastic, andtrained the guardians by the influences of habit, by harmony making themharmonious, by rhythm rhythmical, but not giving them science; and the words,whether fabulous or possibly true, had kindred elements of rhythm and harmonyin them. But in music there was nothing which tended to that good which you arenow seeking.

You are most accurate, I said, in your recollection; in music there certainlywas nothing of the kind. But what branch of knowledge is there, my dearGlaucon, which is of the desired nature; since all the useful arts werereckoned mean by us?

Undoubtedly; and yet if music and gymnastic are excluded, and the arts are alsoexcluded, what remains?

Well, I said, there may be nothing left of our special subjects; and then weshall have to take something which is not special, but of universalapplication.

What may that be?

A something which all arts and sciences and intelligences use in common, andwhich every one first has to learn among the elements of education.

What is that?

The little matter of distinguishing one, two, and three—in a word, numberand calculation:—do not all arts and sciences necessarily partake ofthem?


Then the art of war partakes of them?

To be sure.

Then Palamedes, whenever he appears in tragedy, proves Agamemnon ridiculouslyunfit to be a general. Did you never remark how he declares that he hadinvented number, and had numbered the ships and set in array the ranks of thearmy at Troy; which implies that they had never been numbered before, andAgamemnon must be supposed literally to have been incapable of counting his ownfeet—how could he if he was ignorant of number? And if that is true, whatsort of general must he have been?

I should say a very strange one, if this was as you say.

Can we deny that a warrior should have a knowledge of arithmetic?

Certainly he should, if he is to have the smallest understanding of militarytactics, or indeed, I should rather say, if he is to be a man at all.

I should like to know whether you have the same notion which I have of thisstudy?

What is your notion?

It appears to me to be a study of the kind which we are seeking, and whichleads naturally to reflection, but never to have been rightly used; for thetrue use of it is simply to draw the soul towards being.

Will you explain your meaning? he said.

I will try, I said; and I wish you would share the enquiry with me, and say‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I attempt to distinguish in my ownmind what branches of knowledge have this attracting power, in order that wemay have clearer proof that arithmetic is, as I suspect, one of them.

Explain, he said.

I mean to say that objects of sense are of two kinds; some of them do notinvite thought because the sense is an adequate judge of them; while in thecase of other objects sense is so untrustworthy that further enquiry isimperatively demanded.

You are clearly referring, he said, to the manner in which the senses areimposed upon by distance, and by painting in light and shade.

No, I said, that is not at all my meaning.

Then what is your meaning?

When speaking of uninviting objects, I mean those which do not pass from onesensation to the opposite; inviting objects are those which do; in this lattercase the sense coming upon the object, whether at a distance or near, gives nomore vivid idea of anything in particular than of its opposite. An illustrationwill make my meaning clearer:—here are three fingers—a littlefinger, a second finger, and a middle finger.

Very good.

You may suppose that they are seen quite close: And here comes the point.

What is it?

Each of them equally appears a finger, whether seen in the middle or at theextremity, whether white or black, or thick or thin—it makes nodifference; a finger is a finger all the same. In these cases a man is notcompelled to ask of thought the question what is a finger? for the sight neverintimates to the mind that a finger is other than a finger.


And therefore, I said, as we might expect, there is nothing here which invitesor excites intelligence.

There is not, he said.

But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the fingers? Cansight adequately perceive them? and is no difference made by the circumstancethat one of the fingers is in the middle and another at the extremity? And inlike manner does the touch adequately perceive the qualities of thickness orthinness, of softness or hardness? And so of the other senses; do they giveperfect intimations of such matters? Is not their mode of operation on thiswise—the sense which is concerned with the quality of hardness isnecessarily concerned also with the quality of softness, and only intimates tothe soul that the same thing is felt to be both hard and soft?

You are quite right, he said.

And must not the soul be perplexed at this intimation which the sense gives ofa hard which is also soft? What, again, is the meaning of light and heavy, ifthat which is light is also heavy, and that which is heavy, light?

Yes, he said, these intimations which the soul receives are very curious andrequire to be explained.

Yes, I said, and in these perplexities the soul naturally summons to her aidcalculation and intelligence, that she may see whether the several objectsannounced to her are one or two.


And if they turn out to be two, is not each of them one and different?


And if each is one, and both are two, she will conceive the two as in a stateof division, for if there were undivided they could only be conceived of asone?


The eye certainly did see both small and great, but only in a confused manner;they were not distinguished.


Whereas the thinking mind, intending to light up the chaos, was compelled toreverse the process, and look at small and great as separate and not confused.

Very true.

Was not this the beginning of the enquiry ‘What is great?’ and‘What is small?’

Exactly so.

And thus arose the distinction of the visible and the intelligible.

Most true.

This was what I meant when I spoke of impressions which invited the intellect,or the reverse—those which are simultaneous with opposite impressions,invite thought; those which are not simultaneous do not.

I understand, he said, and agree with you.

And to which class do unity and number belong?

I do not know, he replied.

Think a little and you will see that what has preceded will supply the answer;for if simple unity could be adequately perceived by the sight or by any othersense, then, as we were saying in the case of the finger, there would benothing to attract towards being; but when there is some contradiction alwayspresent, and one is the reverse of one and involves the conception ofplurality, then thought begins to be aroused within us, and the soul perplexedand wanting to arrive at a decision asks ‘What is absolute unity?’This is the way in which the study of the one has a power of drawing andconverting the mind to the contemplation of true being.

And surely, he said, this occurs notably in the case of one; for we see thesame thing to be both one and infinite in multitude?

Yes, I said; and this being true of one must be equally true of all number?


And all arithmetic and calculation have to do with number?


And they appear to lead the mind towards truth?

Yes, in a very remarkable manner.

Then this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking, having a doubleuse, military and philosophical; for the man of war must learn the art ofnumber or he will not know how to array his troops, and the philosopher also,because he has to rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being, andtherefore he must be an arithmetician.

That is true.

And our guardian is both warrior and philosopher?


Then this is a kind of knowledge which legislation may fitly prescribe; and wemust endeavour to persuade those who are to be the principal men of our Stateto go and learn arithmetic, not as amateurs, but they must carry on the studyuntil they see the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, likemerchants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but for the sakeof their military use, and of the soul herself; and because this will be theeasiest way for her to pass from becoming to truth and being.

That is excellent, he said.

Yes, I said, and now having spoken of it, I must add how charming the scienceis! and in how many ways it conduces to our desired end, if pursued in thespirit of a philosopher, and not of a shopkeeper!

How do you mean?

I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect,compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against theintroduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument. You know howsteadily the masters of the art repel and ridicule any one who attempts todivide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you divide, they multiply(Meaning either (1) that they integrate the number because they deny thepossibility of fractions; or (2) that division is regarded by them as a processof multiplication, for the fractions of one continue to be units.), taking carethat one shall continue one and not become lost in fractions.

That is very true.

Now, suppose a person were to say to them: O my friends, what are thesewonderful numbers about which you are reasoning, in which, as you say, there isa unity such as you demand, and each unit is equal, invariable,indivisible,—what would they answer?

They would answer, as I should conceive, that they were speaking of thosenumbers which can only be realized in thought.

Then you see that this knowledge may be truly called necessary, necessitatingas it clearly does the use of the pure intelligence in the attainment of puretruth?

Yes; that is a marked characteristic of it.

And have you further observed, that those who have a natural talent forcalculation are generally quick at every other kind of knowledge; and even thedull, if they have had an arithmetical training, although they may derive noother advantage from it, always become much quicker than they would otherwisehave been.

Very true, he said.

And indeed, you will not easily find a more difficult study, and not many asdifficult.

You will not.

And, for all these reasons, arithmetic is a kind of knowledge in which the bestnatures should be trained, and which must not be given up.

I agree.

Let this then be made one of our subjects of education. And next, shall weenquire whether the kindred science also concerns us?

You mean geometry?

Exactly so.

Clearly, he said, we are concerned with that part of geometry which relates towar; for in pitching a camp, or taking up a position, or closing or extendingthe lines of an army, or any other military manoeuvre, whether in actual battleor on a march, it will make all the difference whether a general is or is not ageometrician.

Yes, I said, but for that purpose a very little of either geometry orcalculation will be enough; the question relates rather to the greater and moreadvanced part of geometry—whether that tends in any degree to make moreeasy the vision of the idea of good; and thither, as I was saying, all thingstend which compel the soul to turn her gaze towards that place, where is thefull perfection of being, which she ought, by all means, to behold.

True, he said.

Then if geometry compels us to view being, it concerns us; if becoming only, itdoes not concern us?

Yes, that is what we assert.

Yet anybody who has the least acquaintance with geometry will not deny thatsuch a conception of the science is in flat contradiction to the ordinarylanguage of geometricians.

How so?

They have in view practice only, and are always speaking, in a narrow andridiculous manner, of squaring and extending and applying and thelike—they confuse the necessities of geometry with those of daily life;whereas knowledge is the real object of the whole science.

Certainly, he said.

Then must not a further admission be made?

What admission?

That the knowledge at which geometry aims is knowledge of the eternal, and notof aught perishing and transient.

That, he replied, may be readily allowed, and is true.

Then, my noble friend, geometry will draw the soul towards truth, and createthe spirit of philosophy, and raise up that which is now unhappily allowed tofall down.

Nothing will be more likely to have such an effect.

Then nothing should be more sternly laid down than that the inhabitants of yourfair city should by all means learn geometry. Moreover the science has indirecteffects, which are not small.

Of what kind? he said.

There are the military advantages of which you spoke, I said; and in alldepartments of knowledge, as experience proves, any one who has studiedgeometry is infinitely quicker of apprehension than one who has not.

Yes indeed, he said, there is an infinite difference between them.

Then shall we propose this as a second branch of knowledge which our youth willstudy?

Let us do so, he replied.

And suppose we make astronomy the third—what do you say?

I am strongly inclined to it, he said; the observation of the seasons and ofmonths and years is as essential to the general as it is to the farmer orsailor.

I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes you guard againstthe appearance of insisting upon useless studies; and I quite admit thedifficulty of believing that in every man there is an eye of the soul which,when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined;and is more precious far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone istruth seen. Now there are two classes of persons: one class of those who willagree with you and will take your words as a revelation; another class to whomthey will be utterly unmeaning, and who will naturally deem them to be idletales, for they see no sort of profit which is to be obtained from them. Andtherefore you had better decide at once with which of the two you are proposingto argue. You will very likely say with neither, and that your chief aim incarrying on the argument is your own improvement; at the same time you do notgrudge to others any benefit which they may receive.

I think that I should prefer to carry on the argument mainly on my own behalf.

Then take a step backward, for we have gone wrong in the order of the sciences.

What was the mistake? he said.

After plane geometry, I said, we proceeded at once to solids in revolution,instead of taking solids in themselves; whereas after the second dimension thethird, which is concerned with cubes and dimensions of depth, ought to havefollowed.

That is true, Socrates; but so little seems to be known as yet about thesesubjects.

Why, yes, I said, and for two reasons:—in the first place, no governmentpatronises them; this leads to a want of energy in the pursuit of them, andthey are difficult; in the second place, students cannot learn them unless theyhave a director. But then a director can hardly be found, and even if he could,as matters now stand, the students, who are very conceited, would not attend tohim. That, however, would be otherwise if the whole State became the directorof these studies and gave honour to them; then disciples would want to come,and there would be continuous and earnest search, and discoveries would bemade; since even now, disregarded as they are by the world, and maimed of theirfair proportions, and although none of their votaries can tell the use of them,still these studies force their way by their natural charm, and very likely, ifthey had the help of the State, they would some day emerge into light.

Yes, he said, there is a remarkable charm in them. But I do not clearlyunderstand the change in the order. First you began with a geometry of planesurfaces?

Yes, I said.

And you placed astronomy next, and then you made a step backward?

Yes, and I have delayed you by my hurry; the ludicrous state of solid geometry,which, in natural order, should have followed, made me pass over this branchand go on to astronomy, or motion of solids.

True, he said.

Then assuming that the science now omitted would come into existence ifencouraged by the State, let us go on to astronomy, which will be fourth.

The right order, he replied. And now, Socrates, as you rebuked the vulgarmanner in which I praised astronomy before, my praise shall be given in yourown spirit. For every one, as I think, must see that astronomy compels the soulto look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Every one but myself, I said; to every one else this may be clear, but not tome.

And what then would you say?

I should rather say that those who elevate astronomy into philosophy appear tome to make us look downwards and not upwards.

What do you mean? he asked.

You, I replied, have in your mind a truly sublime conception of our knowledgeof the things above. And I dare say that if a person were to throw his headback and study the fretted ceiling, you would still think that his mind was thepercipient, and not his eyes. And you are very likely right, and I may be asimpleton: but, in my opinion, that knowledge only which is of being and of theunseen can make the soul look upwards, and whether a man gapes at the heavensor blinks on the ground, seeking to learn some particular of sense, I woulddeny that he can learn, for nothing of that sort is matter of science; his soulis looking downwards, not upwards, whether his way to knowledge is by water orby land, whether he floats, or only lies on his back.

I acknowledge, he said, the justice of your rebuke. Still, I should like toascertain how astronomy can be learned in any manner more conducive to thatknowledge of which we are speaking?

I will tell you, I said: The starry heaven which we behold is wrought upon avisible ground, and therefore, although the fairest and most perfect of visiblethings, must necessarily be deemed inferior far to the true motions of absoluteswiftness and absolute slowness, which are relative to each other, and carrywith them that which is contained in them, in the true number and in every truefigure. Now, these are to be apprehended by reason and intelligence, but not bysight.

True, he replied.

The spangled heavens should be used as a pattern and with a view to that higherknowledge; their beauty is like the beauty of figures or pictures excellentlywrought by the hand of Daedalus, or some other great artist, which we maychance to behold; any geometrician who saw them would appreciate theexquisiteness of their workmanship, but he would never dream of thinking thatin them he could find the true equal or the true double, or the truth of anyother proportion.

No, he replied, such an idea would be ridiculous.

And will not a true astronomer have the same feeling when he looks at themovements of the stars? Will he not think that heaven and the things in heavenare framed by the Creator of them in the most perfect manner? But he will neverimagine that the proportions of night and day, or of both to the month, or ofthe month to the year, or of the stars to these and to one another, and anyother things that are material and visible can also be eternal and subject tono deviation—that would be absurd; and it is equally absurd to take somuch pains in investigating their exact truth.

I quite agree, though I never thought of this before.

Then, I said, in astronomy, as in geometry, we should employ problems, and letthe heavens alone if we would approach the subject in the right way and so makethe natural gift of reason to be of any real use.

That, he said, is a work infinitely beyond our present astronomers.

Yes, I said; and there are many other things which must also have a similarextension given to them, if our legislation is to be of any value. But can youtell me of any other suitable study?

No, he said, not without thinking.

Motion, I said, has many forms, and not one only; two of them are obviousenough even to wits no better than ours; and there are others, as I imagine,which may be left to wiser persons.

But where are the two?

There is a second, I said, which is the counterpart of the one already named.

And what may that be?

The second, I said, would seem relatively to the ears to be what the first isto the eyes; for I conceive that as the eyes are designed to look up at thestars, so are the ears to hear harmonious motions; and these are sistersciences—as the Pythagoreans say, and we, Glaucon, agree with them?

Yes, he replied.

But this, I said, is a laborious study, and therefore we had better go andlearn of them; and they will tell us whether there are any other applicationsof these sciences. At the same time, we must not lose sight of our own higherobject.

What is that?

There is a perfection which all knowledge ought to reach, and which our pupilsought also to attain, and not to fall short of, as I was saying that they didin astronomy. For in the science of harmony, as you probably know, the samething happens. The teachers of harmony compare the sounds and consonances whichare heard only, and their labour, like that of the astronomers, is in vain.

Yes, by heaven! he said; and ’tis as good as a play to hear them talkingabout their condensed notes, as they call them; they put their ears closealongside of the strings like persons catching a sound from theirneighbour’s wall—one set of them declaring that they distinguish anintermediate note and have found the least interval which should be the unit ofmeasurement; the others insisting that the two sounds have passed into thesame—either party setting their ears before their understanding.

You mean, I said, those gentlemen who tease and torture the strings and rackthem on the pegs of the instrument: I might carry on the metaphor and speakafter their manner of the blows which the plectrum gives, and make accusationsagainst the strings, both of backwardness and forwardness to sound; but thiswould be tedious, and therefore I will only say that these are not the men, andthat I am referring to the Pythagoreans, of whom I was just now proposing toenquire about harmony. For they too are in error, like the astronomers; theyinvestigate the numbers of the harmonies which are heard, but they never attainto problems—that is to say, they never reach the natural harmonies ofnumber, or reflect why some numbers are harmonious and others not.

That, he said, is a thing of more than mortal knowledge.

A thing, I replied, which I would rather call useful; that is, if sought afterwith a view to the beautiful and good; but if pursued in any other spirit,useless.

Very true, he said.

Now, when all these studies reach the point of inter-communion and connectionwith one another, and come to be considered in their mutual affinities, then, Ithink, but not till then, will the pursuit of them have a value for ourobjects; otherwise there is no profit in them.

I suspect so; but you are speaking, Socrates, of a vast work.

What do you mean? I said; the prelude or what? Do you not know that all this isbut the prelude to the actual strain which we have to learn? For you surelywould not regard the skilled mathematician as a dialectician?

Assuredly not, he said; I have hardly ever known a mathematician who wascapable of reasoning.

But do you imagine that men who are unable to give and take a reason will havethe knowledge which we require of them?

Neither can this be supposed.

And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic. Thisis that strain which is of the intellect only, but which the faculty of sightwill nevertheless be found to imitate; for sight, as you may remember, wasimagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last ofall the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts on thediscovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without anyassistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives atthe perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of theintellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible.

Exactly, he said.

Then this is the progress which you call dialectic?


But the release of the prisoners from chains, and their translation from theshadows to the images and to the light, and the ascent from the underground dento the sun, while in his presence they are vainly trying to look on animals andplants and the light of the sun, but are able to perceive even with their weakeyes the images in the water (which are divine), and are the shadows of trueexistence (not shadows of images cast by a light of fire, which compared withthe sun is only an image)—this power of elevating the highest principlein the soul to the contemplation of that which is best in existence, with whichwe may compare the raising of that faculty which is the very light of the bodyto the sight of that which is brightest in the material and visibleworld—this power is given, as I was saying, by all that study and pursuitof the arts which has 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 atheme to be treated of in passing only, but will have to be discussed again andagain. 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 (A playupon the Greek word, which means both ‘law’ and‘strain.’), and describe that in like manner. Say, then, what isthe nature and what are the divisions of dialectic, and what are the pathswhich 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 domy 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 areality I cannot venture to say; but you would have seen something likereality; 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 sciences.

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 comprehendingby any regular process all true existence or of ascertaining what each thing isin its own nature; for the arts in general are concerned with the desires oropinions of men, or are cultivated with a view to production and construction,or for the preservation of such productions and constructions; and as to themathematical sciences which, as we were saying, have some apprehension of truebeing—geometry and the like—they only dream about being, but nevercan they behold the waking reality so long as they leave the hypotheses whichthey use unexamined, and are unable to give an account of them. For when a manknows not his own first principle, and when the conclusion and intermediatesteps are also constructed out of he knows not what, how can he imagine thatsuch a fabric of convention can ever become science?

Impossible, he said.

Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle andis the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her groundsecure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough,is by her gentle aid lifted upwards; and she uses as handmaids and helpers inthe work of conversion, the sciences which we have been discussing. Customterms them sciences, but they ought to have some other name, implying greaterclearness than opinion and less clearness than science: and this, in ourprevious sketch, was called understanding. But why should we dispute aboutnames when we have realities of such importance to consider?

Why indeed, he said, when any name will do which expresses the thought of themind with clearness?

At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions; two forintellect and two for opinion, and to call the first division science, thesecond understanding, the third belief, and the fourth perception of shadows,opinion being concerned with becoming, and intellect with being; and so to makea proportion:—

As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion. And as intellect isto opinion, so is science to belief, and understanding to the perception ofshadows.

But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the subjects ofopinion and of intellect, for it will be a long enquiry, many times longer thanthis has been.

As far as I understand, he said, I agree.

And do you also agree, I said, in describing the dialectician as one whoattains a conception of the essence of each thing? And he who does not possessand 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 somuch?

Yes, he said; how can I deny it?

And you would say the same of the conception of the good? Until the person isable to abstract and define rationally the idea of good, and unless he can runthe gauntlet of all objections, and is ready to disprove them, not by appealsto opinion, but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step of theargument—unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows neitherthe idea of good nor any other good; he apprehends only a shadow, if anythingat all, which is given by opinion and not by science;—dreaming andslumbering in this life, before he is well awake here, he arrives at the worldbelow, 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 arenurturing and educating—if the ideal ever becomes a reality—youwould not allow the future rulers to be like posts (Literally‘lines,’ probably the starting-point of a race-course.), having noreason 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 education as will enablethem 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 isset over them; no other science can be placed higher—the nature ofknowledge can no further go?

I agree, he said.

But to whom we are to assign these studies, and in what way they are to beassigned, are questions which remain to be considered.

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 thesurest and the bravest, and, if possible, to the fairest; and, having noble andgenerous tempers, they should also have the natural gifts which will facilitatetheir education.

And what are these?

Such gifts as keenness and ready powers of acquisition; for the mind more oftenfaints from the severity of study than from the severity of gymnastics: thetoil 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 anunwearied solid man who is a lover of labour in any line; or he will never beable to endure the great amount of bodily exercise and to go through all theintellectual discipline 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 intodisrepute: 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 haltingindustry—I mean, that he should not be half industrious and half idle:as, for example, when a man is a lover of gymnastic and hunting, and all otherbodily exercises, but a hater rather than a lover of the labour of learning orlistening or enquiring. Or the occupation to which he devotes himself may be ofan opposite kind, and he may have the other sort of lameness.

Certainly, he said.

And as to truth, I said, is not a soul equally to be deemed halt and lame whichhates voluntary falsehood and is extremely indignant at herself and others whenthey tell lies, but is patient of involuntary falsehood, and does not mindwallowing like a swinish beast in the mire of ignorance, and has no shame atbeing detected?

To be sure.

And, again, in respect of temperance, courage, magnificence, and every othervirtue, should we not carefully distinguish between the true son and thebastard? for where there is no discernment of such qualities states andindividuals unconsciously err; and the state makes a ruler, and the individuala friend, of one who, being defective in some part of virtue, is in a figurelame or a bastard.

That is very true, he said.

All these things, then, will have to be carefully considered by us; and if onlythose whom we introduce to this vast system of education and training are soundin body and mind, justice herself will have nothing to say against us, and weshall be the saviours of the constitution and of the State; but, if our pupilsare men of another stamp, the reverse will happen, and we shall pour a stillgreater 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 amequally ridiculous.

In what respect?

I had forgotten, I said, that we were not serious, and spoke with too muchexcitement. For when I saw philosophy so undeservedly trampled under foot ofmen I could not help feeling a sort of indignation at the authors of herdisgrace: 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 delusion when he said that a man when he grows old may learnmany things—for he can no more learn much than he can run much; youth isthe time for any extraordinary toil.

Of course.

And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other elements ofinstruction, which are a preparation for dialectic, should be presented to themind in childhood; not, however, under any notion of forcing our system ofeducation.

Why not?

Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition of knowledge ofany kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; butknowledge 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 bea 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 onhorseback; and that if there were no danger they were to be brought close upand, 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—labours,lessons, dangers—and he who is most at home in all of them ought to beenrolled in a select number.

At what age?

At the age when the necessary gymnastics are over: the period whether of two orthree years which passes in this sort of training is useless for any otherpurpose; for sleep and exercise are unpropitious to learning; and the trial ofwho is first in gymnastic exercises is one of the most important tests to whichour youth are subjected.

Certainly, he replied.

After that time those who are selected from the class of twenty years old willbe promoted to higher honour, and the sciences which they learned without anyorder in their early education will now be brought together, and they will beable 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 ofdialectical 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 mostof this comprehension, and who are most steadfast in their learning, and intheir military and other appointed duties, when they have arrived at the age ofthirty have to be chosen by you out of the select class, and elevated to higherhonour; and you will have to prove them by the help of dialectic, in order tolearn 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, greatcaution is required.

Why great caution?

Do you not remark, I said, how great is the evil which dialectic hasintroduced?

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 inexcusable in theircase? or will you make allowance for them?

In what way make allowance?

I want you, I said, by way of parallel, to imagine a supposititious son who isbrought up in great wealth; he is one of a great and numerous family, and hasmany flatterers. When he grows up to manhood, he learns that his alleged arenot his real parents; but who the real are he is unable to discover. Can youguess how he will be likely to behave towards his flatterers and his supposedparents, first of all during the period when he is ignorant of the falserelation, 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 tohonour his father and his mother and his supposed relations more than theflatterers; he will be less inclined to neglect them when in need, or to do orsay anything against them; and he will be less willing to disobey them in anyimportant matter.

He will.

But when he has made the discovery, I should imagine that he would diminish hishonour and regard for them, and would become more devoted to the flatterers;their influence over him would greatly increase; he would now live after theirways, and openly associate with them, and, unless he were of an unusually gooddisposition, he would trouble himself no more about his supposed parents orother relations.

Well, all that is very probable. But how is the image applicable to thedisciples of philosophy?

In this way: you know that there are certain principles about justice andhonour, which were taught us in childhood, and under their parental authoritywe have been brought up, obeying and honouring them.

That is true.

There are also opposite maxims and habits of pleasure which flatter and attractthe soul, but do not influence those of us who have any sense of right, andthey continue to obey and honour the maxims of their fathers.


Now, when a man is in this state, and the questioning spirit asks what is fairor honourable, and he answers as the legislator has taught him, and thenarguments many and diverse refute his words, until he is driven into believingthat nothing is honourable any more than dishonourable, or just and good anymore than the reverse, and so of all the notions which he most valued, do youthink that he will still honour and obey them as before?


And when he ceases to think them honourable and natural as heretofore, and hefails to discover the true, can he be expected to pursue any life other thanthat which flatters his desires?

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 havedescribed, and also, as I was just now saying, most excusable.

Yes, he said; and, I may add, pitiable.

Therefore, that your feelings may not be moved to pity about our citizens whoare now thirty years of age, every care must be taken in introducing them todialectic.


There is a danger lest they should taste the dear delight too early; foryoungsters, as you may have observed, when they first get the taste in theirmouths, argue for amusement, and are always contradicting and refuting othersin imitation of those who refute them; like puppy-dogs, they rejoice in pullingand 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 defeats at the hands ofmany, they violently and speedily get into a way of not believing anythingwhich they believed before, and hence, not only they, but philosophy and allthat 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 suchinsanity; he will imitate the dialectician who is seeking for truth, and notthe eristic, who is contradicting for the sake of amusement; and the greatermoderation of his character will increase instead of diminishing the honour ofthe pursuit.

Very true, he said.

And did we not make special provision for this, when we said that the disciplesof philosophy were to be orderly and steadfast, not, as now, any chanceaspirant or intruder?

Very true.

Suppose, I said, the study of philosophy to take the place of gymnastics and tobe continued diligently and earnestly and exclusively for twice the number ofyears 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 againinto the den and compelled to hold any military or other office which young menare qualified to hold: in this way they will get their experience of life, andthere will be an opportunity of trying whether, when they are drawn all mannerof 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, thenlet those who still survive and have distinguished themselves in every actionof their lives and in every branch of knowledge come at last to theirconsummation: the time has now arrived at which they must raise the eye of thesoul to the universal light which lightens all things, and behold the absolutegood; for that is the pattern according to which they are to order the Stateand the lives of individuals, and the remainder of their own lives also; makingphilosophy their chief pursuit, but, when their turn comes, toiling also atpolitics and ruling for the public good, not as though they were performingsome heroic action, but simply as a matter of duty; and when they have broughtup in each generation others like themselves and left them in their place to begovernors of the State, then they will depart to the Islands of the Blest anddwell there; and the city will give them public memorials and sacrifices andhonour them, if the Pythian oracle consent, as demigods, but if not, as in anycase blessed and divine.

You are a sculptor, Socrates, and have made statues of our governors faultlessin beauty.

Yes, I said, Glaucon, and of our governesses too; for you must not suppose thatwhat I have been saying applies to men only and not to women as far as theirnatures can go.

There you are right, he said, since we have made them to share in all thingslike the men.

Well, I said, and you would agree (would you not?) that what has been saidabout the State and the government is not a mere dream, and although difficultnot impossible, but only possible in the way which has been supposed; that isto say, when the true philosopher kings are born in a State, one or more ofthem, despising the honours of this present world which they deem mean andworthless, esteeming above all things right and the honour that springs fromright, and regarding justice as the greatest and most necessary of all things,whose ministers they are, and whose principles will be exalted by them whenthey set in order their own city?

How will they proceed?

They will begin by sending out into the country all the inhabitants of the citywho 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 intheir own habits and laws, I mean in the laws which we have given them: and inthis way the State and constitution of which we were speaking will soonest andmost easily attain happiness, and the nation which has such a constitution willgain most.

Yes, that will be the best way. And I think, Socrates, that you have very welldescribed how, if ever, such a constitution might come into being.

Enough then of the perfect State, and of the man who bears itsimage—there is no difficulty in seeing how we shall describe him.

There is no difficulty, he replied; and I agree with you in thinking thatnothing more need be said.

And so, Glaucon, we have arrived at the conclusion that in the perfect Statewives and children are to be in common; and that all education and the pursuitsof war and peace are also to be common, and the best philosophers and thebravest warriors are to be their kings?

That, replied Glaucon, has been acknowledged.

Yes, I said; and we have further acknowledged that the governors, whenappointed themselves, will take their soldiers and place them in houses such aswe were describing, which are common to all, and contain nothing private, orindividual; and about their property, you remember what we agreed?

Yes, I remember that no one was to have any of the ordinary possessions ofmankind; they were to be warrior athletes and guardians, receiving from theother citizens, in lieu of annual payment, only their maintenance, and theywere to take care of themselves and of the whole State.

True, I said; and now that this division of our task is concluded, let us findthe 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 hadfinished the description of the State: you said that such a State was good, andthat the man was good who answered to it, although, as now appears, you hadmore 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 falseforms, you said, as I remember, that there were four principal ones, and thattheir defects, and the defects of the individuals corresponding to them, wereworth examining. When we had seen all the individuals, and finally agreed as towho was the best and who was the worst of them, we were to consider whether thebest was not also the happiest, and the worst the most miserable. I asked youwhat were the four forms of government of which you spoke, and then Polemarchusand Adeimantus put in their word; and you began again, and have found your wayto the point at which we have now arrived.

Your recollection, I said, is most exact.

Then, like a wrestler, he replied, you must put yourself again in the sameposition; and let me ask the same questions, and do you give me the same answerwhich you were about to give me then.

Yes, if I can, I will, I said.

I shall particularly wish to hear what were the four constitutions of which youwere speaking.

That question, I said, is easily answered: the four governments of which Ispoke, so far as they have distinct names, are, first, those of Crete andSparta, which are generally applauded; what is termed oligarchy comes next;this is not equally approved, and is a form of government which teems withevils: thirdly, democracy, which naturally follows oligarchy, although verydifferent: and lastly comes tyranny, great and famous, which differs from themall, and is the fourth and worst disorder of a State. I do not know, do you? ofany other constitution which can be said to have a distinct character. Thereare lordships and principalities which are bought and sold, and some otherintermediate forms of government. But these are nondescripts and may be foundequally among Hellenes and among barbarians.

Yes, he replied, we certainly hear of many curious forms of government whichexist among them.

Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the dispositions of men vary, andthat there must be as many of the one as there are of the other? For we cannotsuppose that States are made of ‘oak and rock,’ and not out of thehuman natures which are in them, and which in a figure turn the scale and drawother 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 individualminds will also be five?


Him who answers to aristocracy, and whom we rightly call just and good, we havealready described.

We have.

Then let us now proceed to describe the inferior sort of natures, being thecontentious and ambitious, who answer to the Spartan polity; also theoligarchical, democratical, and tyrannical. Let us place the most just by theside of the most unjust, and when we see them we shall be able to compare therelative happiness or unhappiness of him who leads a life of pure justice orpure injustice. The enquiry will then be completed. And we shall know whetherwe ought to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus advises, or in accordance withthe conclusions 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, oftaking the State first and then proceeding to the individual, and begin withthe government of honour?—I know of no name for such a government otherthan timocracy, or perhaps timarchy. We will compare with this the likecharacter in the individual; and, after that, consider oligarchy and theoligarchical man; and then again we will turn our attention to democracy andthe democratical man; and lastly, we will go and view the city of tyranny, andonce more take a look into the tyrant’s soul, and try to arrive at asatisfactory decision.

That way of viewing and judging of the matter will be very suitable.

First, then, I said, let us enquire how timocracy (the government of honour)arises out of aristocracy (the government of the best). Clearly, all politicalchanges originate in divisions of the actual governing power; a governmentwhich is united, however small, cannot be moved.

Very true, he said.

In what way, then, will our city be moved, and in what manner will the twoclasses of auxiliaries and rulers disagree among themselves or with oneanother? 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 loftytragic 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 beginning has also an end, even aconstitution such as yours will not last for ever, but will in time bedissolved. And this is the dissolution:—In plants that grow in the earth,as well as in animals that move on the earth’s surface, fertility andsterility of soul and body occur when the circumferences of the circles of eachare completed, which in short-lived existences pass over a short space, and inlong-lived ones over a long space. But to the knowledge of human fecundity andsterility all the wisdom and education of your rulers will not attain; the lawswhich regulate them will not be discovered by an intelligence which is alloyedwith sense, but will escape them, and they will bring children into the worldwhen they ought not. Now that which is of divine birth has a period which iscontained in a perfect number (i.e. a cyclical number, such as 6, which isequal to the sum of its divisors 1, 2, 3, so that when the circle or timerepresented by 6 is completed, the lesser times or rotations represented by 1,2, 3 are also completed.), but the period of human birth is comprehended in anumber in which first increments by involution and evolution (or squared andcubed) obtaining three intervals and four terms of like and unlike, waxing andwaning numbers, make all the terms commensurable and agreeable to one another.(Probably the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 of which the three first = the sides of thePythagorean triangle. The terms will then be 3 cubed, 4 cubed, 5 cubed, whichtogether = 6 cubed = 216.) The base of these (3) with a third added (4) whencombined with five (20) and raised to the third power furnishes two harmonies;the first a square which is a hundred times as great (400 = 4 x 100) (Or thefirst a square which is 100 x 100 = 10,000. The whole number will then be17,500 = a square of 100, and an oblong of 100 by 75.), and the other a figurehaving one side equal to the former, but oblong, consisting of a hundrednumbers 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 byone (than the perfect square which includes the fractions, sc. 50) or less by(Or, ‘consisting of two numbers squared upon irrational diameters,’etc. = 100. For other explanations of the passage see Introduction.) twoperfect squares of irrational diameters (of a square the side of which is five= 50 + 50 = 100); and a hundred cubes of three (27 x 100 = 2700 + 4900 + 400 =8000). Now this number represents a geometrical figure which has control overthe good and evil of births. For when your guardians are ignorant of the law ofbirths, and unite bride and bridegroom out of season, the children will not begoodly or fortunate. And though only the best of them will be appointed bytheir predecessors, still they will be unworthy to hold their fathers’places, and when they come into power as guardians, they will soon be found tofail in taking care of us, the Muses, first by under-valuing music; whichneglect will soon extend to gymnastic; and hence the young men of your Statewill be less cultivated. In the succeeding generation rulers will be appointedwho 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 soiron will be mingled with silver, and brass with gold, and hence there willarise dissimilarity and inequality and irregularity, which always and in allplaces are causes of hatred and war. This the Muses affirm to be the stock fromwhich 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 andbrass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but thegold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in theirown nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There wasa battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land andhouses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends andmaintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, andmade of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war andin keeping a watch against them.

I believe that you have rightly conceived the origin of the change.

And the new government which thus arises will be of a form intermediate betweenoligarchy and aristocracy?

Very true.

Such will be the change, and after the change has been made, how will theyproceed? Clearly, the new State, being in a mean between oligarchy and theperfect State, will partly follow one and partly the other, and will also havesome peculiarities.

True, he said.

In the honour given to rulers, in the abstinence of the warrior class fromagriculture, handicrafts, and trade in general, in the institution of commonmeals, and in the attention paid to gymnastics and military training—inall these respects this State will resemble the former.


But in the fear of admitting philosophers to power, because they are no longerto be had simple and earnest, but are made up of mixed elements; and in turningfrom them to passionate and less complex characters, who are by nature fittedfor war rather than peace; and in the value set by them upon militarystratagems and contrivances, and in the waging of everlasting wars—thisState will be for the most part peculiar.


Yes, I said; and men of this stamp will be covetous of money, like those wholive in oligarchies; they will have, a fierce secret longing after gold andsilver, which they will hoard in dark places, having magazines and treasuriesof their own for the deposit and concealment of them; also castles which arejust nests for their eggs, and in which they will spend large sums on theirwives, 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 moneywhich they prize; they will spend that which is another man’s on thegratification of their desires, stealing their pleasures and running away likechildren from the law, their father: they have been schooled not by gentleinfluences but by force, for they have neglected her who is the true Muse, thecompanion of reason and philosophy, and have honoured gymnastic more thanmusic.

Undoubtedly, he said, the form of government which you describe is a mixture ofgood and evil.

Why, there is a mixture, I said; but one thing, and one thing only, ispredominantly seen,—the spirit of contention and ambition; and these aredue 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 beendescribed in outline only; the more perfect execution was not required, for asketch is enough to show the type of the most perfectly just and most perfectlyunjust; and to go through all the States and all the characters of men,omitting none of them, would be an interminable labour.

Very true, he replied.

Now what man answers to this form of government-how did he come into being, andwhat is he like?

I think, said Adeimantus, that in the spirit of contention which characteriseshim, he is not unlike our friend Glaucon.

Perhaps, I said, he may be like him in that one point; but there are otherrespects in which he is very different.

In what respects?

He should have more of self-assertion and be less cultivated, and yet a friendof culture; and he should be a good listener, but no speaker. Such a person isapt to be rough with slaves, unlike the educated man, who is too proud forthat; and he will also be courteous to freemen, and remarkably obedient toauthority; he is a lover of power and a lover of honour; claiming to be aruler, not because he is eloquent, or on any ground of that sort, but becausehe is a soldier and has performed feats of arms; he is also a lover ofgymnastic exercises and of the chase.

Yes, that is the type of character which answers to timocracy.

Such an one will despise riches only when he is young; but as he gets older hewill be more and more attracted to them, because he has a piece of theavaricious nature in him, and is not single-minded towards virtue, having losthis best guardian.

Who was that? said Adeimantus.

Philosophy, I said, tempered with music, who comes and takes up her abode in aman, and is the only saviour of his virtue throughout life.

Good, he said.

Such, I said, is the timocratical youth, and he is like the timocratical 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 honours andoffices, and will not go to law, or exert himself in any way, but is ready towaive his rights in order that he may escape trouble.

And how does the son come into being?

The character of the son begins to develope when he hears his mothercomplaining that her husband has no place in the government, of which theconsequence is that she has no precedence among other women. Further, when shesees her husband not very eager about money, and instead of battling andrailing in the law courts or assembly, taking whatever happens to him quietly;and when she observes that his thoughts always centre in himself, while hetreats her with very considerable indifference, she is annoyed, and says to herson that his father is only half a man and far too easy-going: adding all theother complaints about her own ill-treatment which women are so fond ofrehearsing.

Yes, said Adeimantus, they give us plenty of them, and their complaints are solike themselves.

And you know, I said, that the old servants also, who are supposed to beattached to the family, from time to time talk privately in the same strain tothe son; and if they see any one who owes money to his father, or is wronginghim in any way, and he fails to prosecute them, they tell the youth that whenhe grows up he must retaliate upon people of this sort, and be more of a manthan his father. He has only to walk abroad and he hears and sees the same sortof thing: those who do their own business in the city are called simpletons,and held in no esteem, while the busy-bodies are honoured and applauded. Theresult is that the young man, hearing and seeing all thesethings—hearing, too, the words of his father, and having a nearer view ofhis way of life, and making comparisons of him and others—is drawnopposite ways: while his father is watering and nourishing the rationalprinciple in his soul, the others are encouraging the passionate andappetitive; and he being not originally of a bad nature, but having kept badcompany, is at last brought by their joint influence to a middle point, andgives up the kingdom which is within him to the middle principle ofcontentiousness and passion, and becomes arrogant and ambitious.

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 ofcharacter?

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 powerand the poor man is deprived of it.

I understand, he replied.

Ought I not to begin by describing how the change from timocracy to oligarchyarises?


Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one passes into theother.


The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individuals is the ruin oftimocracy; they invent illegal modes of expenditure; for what do they or theirwives care about the law?

Yes, indeed.

And then one, seeing another grow rich, seeks to rival him, and thus the greatmass of the citizens become lovers of money.

Likely enough.

And so they grow richer and richer, and the more they think of making a fortunethe less they think of virtue; for when riches and virtue are placed togetherin the scales of the balance, the one always rises as the other falls.


And in proportion as riches and rich men are honoured in the State, virtue andthe virtuous are dishonoured.


And what is honoured is cultivated, and that which has no honour is neglected.

That is obvious.

And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men become lovers oftrade and money; they honour and look up to the rich man, and make a ruler ofhim, and dishonour the poor man.

They do so.

They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money as the qualificationof citizenship; the sum is higher in one place and lower in another, as theoligarchy is more or less exclusive; and they allow no one whose property fallsbelow the amount fixed to have any share in the government. These changes inthe constitution they effect by force of arms, if intimidation has not alreadydone 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, andwhat are the defects of which we were speaking?

First of all, I said, consider the nature of the qualification. Just think whatwould happen if pilots were to be chosen according to their property, and apoor man were refused permission 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, inasmuch as the ruleof 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 ofpoor, the other of rich men; and they are living on the same spot and alwaysconspiring against one another.

That, surely, is at least as bad.

Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they are incapableof carrying on any war. Either they arm the multitude, and then they are moreafraid of them than of the enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hourof battle, they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule. Andat 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 toomany callings—they are husbandmen, tradesmen, warriors, all in one. Doesthat look well?

Anything but well.

There is another evil which is, perhaps, the greatest of all, and to which thisState first begins to be liable.

What evil?

A man may sell all that he has, and another may acquire his property; yet afterthe sale he may dwell in the city of which he is no longer a part, beingneither trader, nor artisan, nor horseman, 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 theextremes of great wealth and utter poverty.


But think again: In his wealthy days, while he was spending his money, was aman 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 wasneither ruler nor subject, but just a spendthrift?

As you say, he seemed to be a ruler, but was only a spendthrift.

May we not say that this is the drone in the house who is like the drone in thehoneycomb, and that the one is the plague of the city as the other is of thehive?

Just so, Socrates.

And God has made the flying drones, Adeimantus, all without stings, whereas ofthe walking drones he has made some without stings but others have dreadfulstings; 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, somewhere in thatneighborhood there are hidden away thieves, and cut-purses and robbers oftemples, and all sorts of malefactors.


Well, I said, and in oligarchical States do you not find paupers?

Yes, he said; nearly everybody is a pauper who is not a ruler.

And may we be so bold as to affirm that there are also many criminals to befound in them, rogues who have stings, and whom the authorities are careful torestrain 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 bemany other evils.

Very likely.

Then oligarchy, or the form of government in which the rulers are elected fortheir wealth, may now be dismissed. Let us next proceed to consider the natureand origin of the individual 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 hebegins by emulating his father and walking in his footsteps, but presently hesees him of a sudden foundering against the State as upon a sunken reef, and heand all that he has is lost; he may have been a general or some other highofficer who is brought to trial under a prejudice raised by informers, andeither put to death, or exiled, or deprived of the privileges of a citizen, andall his property taken from him.

Nothing more likely.

And the son has seen and known all this—he is a ruined man, and his fearhas taught him to knock ambition and passion headforemost from hisbosom’s throne; humbled by poverty he takes to money-making and by meanand miserly savings and hard work gets a fortune together. Is not such an onelikely to seat the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne andto suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and chain andscimitar?

Most true, he replied.

And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the ground obediently oneither side of their sovereign, and taught them to know their place, he compelsthe one to think only of how lesser sums may be turned into larger ones, andwill not allow the other to worship and admire anything but riches and richmen, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the acquisition of wealth andthe means of acquiring it.

Of all changes, he said, there is none so speedy or so sure as the conversionof 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 Stateout of which oligarchy came.

Let us then consider whether there is any likeness between them.

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 hisnecessary appetites, and confines his expenditure to them; his other desires hesubdues, under the idea that they are unprofitable.


He is a shabby fellow, who saves something out of everything and makes a pursefor himself; and this is the sort of man whom the vulgar applaud. Is he not atrue 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 asby 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 blindgod director of his chorus, or given him chief honour.

Excellent! I said. Yet consider: Must we not further admit that owing to thiswant of cultivation there will be found in him dronelike desires as of pauperand 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 areputation for honesty he coerces his bad passions by an enforced virtue; notmaking them see that they are wrong, or taming them by reason, but by necessityand fear constraining them, and because he trembles for his possessions.

To be sure.

Yes, indeed, my dear friend, but you will find that the natural desires of thedrone commonly exist in him all the same whenever he has to spend what is nothis 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 inferiorones.


For these reasons such an one will be more respectable than most people; yetthe true virtue of a unanimous and harmonious soul will flee far away and nevercome near him.

I should expect so.

And surely, the miser individually will be an ignoble competitor in a State forany prize of victory, or other object of honourable ambition; he will not spendhis money in the contest for glory; so afraid is he of awakening his expensiveappetites and inviting them to help and join in the struggle; in trueoligarchical fashion he fights with a small part only of his resources, and theresult 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 theoligarchical State?

There can be no doubt.

Next comes democracy; of this the origin and nature have still to be consideredby us; and then we will enquire into the ways of the democratic man, and bringhim up for judgment.

That, he said, is our method.

Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise? Isit not on this wise?—The good at which such a State aims is to become asrich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?

What then?

The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse tocurtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain bytheir ruin; they take interest from them and buy up their estates and thusincrease their own wealth and importance?

To be sure.

There can be no doubt that the love of wealth and the spirit of moderationcannot exist together in citizens of the same state to any considerable extent;one or the other will be disregarded.

That is tolerably clear.

And in oligarchical States, from the general spread of carelessness andextravagance, 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 fullyarmed, and some of them owe money, some have forfeited their citizenship; athird class are in both predicaments; and they hate and conspire against thosewho have got their property, and against everybody else, and are eager forrevolution.

That is true.

On the other hand, the men of business, stooping as they walk, and pretendingnot even to see those whom they have already ruined, insert theirsting—that is, their money—into some one else who is not on hisguard against them, and recover the parent sum many times over multiplied intoa family of children: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in the State.

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 byrestricting 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 compelling the citizens tolook to their characters:—Let there be a general rule that every oneshall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there will be less ofthis scandalous money-making, and the evils of which we were speaking will begreatly lessened in the State.

Yes, they will be greatly lessened.

At present the governors, induced by the motives which I have named, treattheir subjects badly; while they and their adherents, especially the young menof the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and idlenessboth of body and mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting eitherpleasure or pain.

Very true.

They themselves care only for making money, and are as indifferent as thepauper to the cultivation of virtue.

Yes, quite as indifferent.

Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And often rulers andtheir subjects may come in one another’s way, whether on a journey or onsome other occasion of meeting, on a pilgrimage or a march, as fellow-soldiersor fellow-sailors; aye and they may observe the behaviour of each other in thevery moment of danger—for where danger is, there is no fear that the poorwill be despised by the rich—and very likely the wiry sunburnt poor manmay be placed in battle at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt hiscomplexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh—when he sees such an onepuffing and at his wits’-end, how can he avoid drawing the conclusionthat 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 warriors are not good for much’?

Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of talking.

And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch from without maybring on illness, and sometimes even when there is no external provocation acommotion may arise within—in the same way wherever there is weakness inthe State there is also likely to be illness, of which the occasion may be veryslight, the one party introducing from without their oligarchical, the othertheir democratical allies, and then the State falls sick, and is at war withherself; 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 theiropponents, slaughtering some and banishing some, while to the remainder theygive an equal share of freedom and power; and this is the form of government inwhich the magistrates are commonly elected by lot.

Yes, he said, that is the nature of democracy, whether the revolution has beeneffected 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 andfrankness—a man may say and do what he likes?

’Tis said so, he replied.

And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to order for himself hisown 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 embroideredrobe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as women andchildren think a variety of colours to be of all things most charming, so thereare many men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners andcharacters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of States.


Yes, my good Sir, and there will be no better in which to look for agovernment.


Because of the liberty which reigns there—they have a complete assortmentof constitutions; and he who has a mind to establish a State, as we have beendoing, must go to a democracy 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 mayfound 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 ifyou have the capacity, or to be governed, unless you like, or go to war whenthe rest go to war, or to be at peace when others are at peace, unless you areso disposed—there being no necessity also, because some law forbids youto 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 issupremely delightful?

For the moment, yes.

And is not their humanity to the condemned in some cases quite charming? Haveyou not observed how, in a democracy, many persons, although they have beensentenced to death or exile, just stay where they are and walk about theworld—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’tcare’ about trifles, and the disregard which she shows of all the fineprinciples which we solemnly laid down at the foundation of the city—aswhen we said that, except in the case of some rarely gifted nature, there neverwill be a good man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid thingsof beauty and make of them a joy and a study—how grandly does she trampleall these fine notions of ours under her feet, never giving a thought to thepursuits which make a statesman, and promoting to honour any one who professesto be the people’s friend.

Yes, she is of a noble spirit.

These and other kindred characteristics are proper to democracy, which is acharming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing asort 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 oligarchical fatherwho has trained him in his own habits?


And, like his father, he keeps under by force the pleasures which are of thespending and not of the getting sort, being those which are called unnecessary?


Would you like, for the sake of clearness, to distinguish which are thenecessary and which are the unnecessary pleasures?

I should.

Are not necessary pleasures those of which we cannot get rid, and of which thesatisfaction is a benefit to us? And they are rightly called so, because we areframed by nature to desire both what is beneficial and what is necessary, andcannot 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 youthupwards—of which the presence, moreover, does no good, and in some casesthe reverse of good—shall we not be right in saying that all these areunnecessary?

Yes, certainly.

Suppose we select an example of either kind, in order that we may have ageneral notion of them?

Very good.

Will not the desire of eating, that is, of simple food and condiments, in sofar 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 isessential 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 otherluxuries, which might generally be got rid of, if controlled and trained inyouth, and is hurtful to the body, and hurtful to the soul in the pursuit ofwisdom and virtue, may be rightly called unnecessary?

Very true.

May we not say that these desires spend, and that the others make money becausethey 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 surfeited in pleasures anddesires of this sort, and was the slave of the unnecessary desires, whereas hewho was subject to the necessary only was miserly and oligarchical?

Very true.

Again, let us see how the democratical man grows out of the oligarchical: thefollowing, as I suspect, is commonly the process.

What is the process?

When a young man who has been brought up as we were just now describing, in avulgar and miserly way, has tasted drones’ honey and has come toassociate with fierce and crafty natures who are able to provide for him allsorts of refinements and varieties of pleasure—then, as you may imagine,the change will begin of the oligarchical principle within him into thedemocratical?


And as in the city like was helping like, and the change was effected by analliance from without assisting one division of the citizens, so too the youngman is changed by a class of desires coming from without to assist the desireswithin him, that which is akin and alike again helping that which is akin andalike?


And if there be any ally which aids the oligarchical principle within him,whether the influence of a father or of kindred, advising or rebuking him, thenthere arises in his soul a faction and an opposite faction, and he goes to warwith himself.

It must be so.

And there are times when the democratical principle gives way to theoligarchical, and some of his desires die, and others are banished; a spirit ofreverence 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 springup, which are akin to them, and because he their father does not know how toeducate 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 intercourse with them,breed and multiply in him.

Very true.

At length they seize upon the citadel of the young man’s soul, which theyperceive 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 aretheir best guardians and sentinels.

None better.

False and boastful conceits and phrases mount upwards 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 uphis dwelling there in the face of all men; and if any help be sent by hisfriends to the oligarchical part of him, the aforesaid vain conceits shut thegate of the king’s fastness; and they will neither allow the embassyitself to enter, nor if private advisers offer the fatherly counsel of the agedwill they listen to them or receive them. There is a battle and they gain theday, and then modesty, which they call silliness, is ignominiously thrust intoexile by them, and temperance, which they nickname unmanliness, is trampled inthe mire and cast forth; they persuade men that moderation and orderlyexpenditure are vulgarity and meanness, and so, by the help of a rabble of evilappetites, they drive them beyond the border.

Yes, with a will.

And when they have emptied and swept clean the soul of him who is now in theirpower and who is being initiated by them in great mysteries, the next thing isto bring back to their house insolence and anarchy and waste and impudence inbright array having garlands on their heads, and a great company with them,hymning their praises and calling them by sweet names; insolence they termbreeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence, and impudence courage.And so the young man passes out of his original nature, which was trained inthe school of necessity, into the freedom and libertinism of useless andunnecessary pleasures.

Yes, he said, the change in him is visible enough.

After this he lives on, spending his money and labour and time on unnecessarypleasures quite as much as on necessary ones; but if he be fortunate, and isnot too much disordered in his wits, when years have elapsed, and the heyday ofpassion is over—supposing that he then re-admits into the city some partof the exiled virtues, and does not wholly give himself up to theirsuccessors—in that case he balances his pleasures and lives in a sort ofequilibrium, putting the government of himself into the hands of the one whichcomes first and wins the turn; and when he has had enough of that, then intothe 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 any one says to him that some pleasures are the satisfactions of good andnoble desires, and others of evil desires, and that he ought to use and honoursome and chastise and master the others—whenever this is repeated to himhe shakes his head and says that they are all alike, and that one is as good asanother.

Yes, he said; that is the way with him.

Yes, I said, he lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the hour; andsometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute; then he becomes awater-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 aphilosopher; often he is busy with politics, and starts to his feet and saysand does whatever comes into his head; and, if he is emulous of any one who isa warrior, off he is in that direction, or of men of business, once more inthat. His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence heterms 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 ofmany;—he answers to the State which we described as fair and spangled.And many a man and many a woman will take him for their pattern, and many aconstitution and many an example of manners is contained in him.

Just so.

Let him then be set over against democracy; he may truly be called thedemocratic man.

Let that be his place, he said.

Last of all comes the most beautiful of all, man and State alike, tyranny andthe tyrant; these we have now to consider.

Quite true, he said.

Say then, my friend, In what manner does tyranny arise?—that it has ademocratic origin is evident.


And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner as democracy fromoligarchy—I mean, after a sort?


The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means by which it wasmaintained was excess of wealth—am I not right?


And the insatiable desire of wealth and the neglect of all other things for thesake of money-getting was also the ruin of oligarchy?


And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her todissolution?

What good?

Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of theState—and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of naturedeign to dwell.

Yes; the saying is in every body’s mouth.

I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect ofother things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand fortyranny.

How so?

When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cup-bearers presidingover 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 callsthem to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs.

Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.

Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hugtheir 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 shepraises and honours both in private and public. Now, in such a State, canliberty have any limit?

Certainly not.

By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by gettingamong the animals and infecting them.

How do you mean?

I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons andto fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respector reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and the meticis equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger isquite 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 thescholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and theyoung man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in wordor deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry andgaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and thereforethey adopt the manners 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 Iforget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to eachother.

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 notknow would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who areunder the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: fortruly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses,and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights anddignities of freemen; and they will run at any body who comes in their way ifhe does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready toburst with liberty.

When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. Youand I have dreamed the same thing.

And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizensbecome; 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; theywill 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 whichsprings tyranny.

Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?

The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified andintensified by liberty overmasters democracy—the truth being that theexcessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the oppositedirection; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable andanimal life, but above all in forms of government.


The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to passinto excess of slavery.

Yes, the natural order.

And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated formof 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 toknow what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and democracy,and is the ruin of both?

Just so, he replied.

Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom themore courageous are the leaders and the more timid the followers, the same whomwe were comparing 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 lawgiverof the State ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance andprevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and if they have anyhow found a wayin, 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 imaginedemocracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the firstplace freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there were inthe oligarchical State.

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 theyare almost the entire 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 theother 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 therichest.

Naturally so.

They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey tothe 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 ownhands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This, whenassembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.

True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate unlessthey get a little honey.

And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of theirestates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking care toreserve 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 defendthemselves before the people as they best can?

What else can they do?

And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge themwith plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy?


And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, butthrough ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to dothem wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality; theydo not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and breedsrevolution in them.

That is exactly the truth.

Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one another.


The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse intogreatness.

Yes, that is their way.

This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he firstappears 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 doeswhat 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 mincedup with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf. Did younever hear it?

Oh, yes.

And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at hisdisposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by thefavourite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murdersthem, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lipstasting 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: andafter this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands ofhis 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 rich?

The same.

After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, atyrant full grown.

That is clear.

And if they are unable to expel him, or to get him condemned to death by apublic accusation, they conspire to assassinate him.

Yes, he said, that is their usual way.

Then comes the famous request for a body-guard, which is the device of allthose who have got thus far in their tyrannical career—‘Let not thepeople’s friend,’ as they say, ‘be lost to them.’


The people readily assent; all their fears are for him—they have none forthemselves.

Very true.

And when a man who is wealthy and is also accused of being an enemy of thepeople sees this, then, my friend, as the oracle said to Croesus,

‘By pebbly Hermus’ shore he flees and rests not, and is not ashamedto 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 theplain’ with his bulk, but himself the overthrower of many, standing up inthe chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, buttyrant absolute.

No doubt, he said.

And now let us consider the happiness of the man, and also of the State inwhich 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 salutesevery one whom he meets;—he to be called a tyrant, who is making promisesin public and also in private! liberating debtors, and distributing land to thepeople and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to every one!

Of course, he said.

But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there isnothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, inorder that the people may require a leader.

To be sure.

Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished bypayment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wantsand therefore less likely to conspire against him?


And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and ofresistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying them byplacing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrantmust 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, speaktheir minds to him and to one another, and the more courageous of them cast inhis 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 whilehe has a friend or an enemy who is good for anything.

He cannot.

And therefore he must look about him and see who is valiant, who ishigh-minded, who is wise, who is wealthy; happy man, he is the enemy of themall, and must seek occasion against them whether he will or no, until he hasmade a purgation 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 thereverse.

If he is to rule, I suppose that he cannot help himself.

What a blessed alternative, I said:—to be compelled to dwell only withthe 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 andthe greater devotion in them will he require?


And who are the devoted band, and where will he procure them?

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 enrolthem 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 theothers 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 tragedian.

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 hiscompanions.

Yes, he said, and he also praises tyranny as godlike; and many other things ofthe 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 anyothers who live after our manner if we do not receive them into our State,because they are the eulogists of tyranny.

Yes, he said, those who have the wit will doubtless forgive us.

But they will continue to go to other cities and attract mobs, and hire voicesfair and loud and persuasive, and draw the cities over to tyrannies anddemocracies.

Very true.

Moreover, they are paid for this and receive honour—the greatest honour,as might be expected, from tyrants, and the next greatest from democracies; butthe higher they ascend our constitution hill, the more their reputation fails,and seems unable from shortness of breath to proceed further.


But we are wandering from the subject: Let us therefore return and enquire howthe tyrant will maintain that fair and numerous and various and ever-changingarmy of his.

If, he said, there are sacred treasures in the city, he will confiscate andspend them; and in so far as the fortunes of attainted persons may suffice, hewill be able to diminish the taxes which he would otherwise have to impose uponthe people.

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 estate.

You mean to say that the people, from whom he has derived his being, willmaintain 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 oughtnot to be supported by his father, but that the father should be supported bythe son? The father did not bring him into being, or settle him in life, inorder that when his son became a man he should himself be the servant of hisown servants and should support him and his rabble of slaves and companions;but that his son should protect him, and that by his help he might beemancipated from the government of the rich and aristocratic, as they aretermed. And so he bids him and his companions depart, just as any other fathermight 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 beenfostering in his bosom; and, when he wants to drive him out, he will find thathe is weak and his son strong.

Why, you do not mean to say that the tyrant will use violence? What! beat hisfather 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 isreal 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, hasfallen into the fire which is the tyranny of slaves. Thus liberty, getting outof all order and reason, passes into the harshest and bitterest form ofslavery.

True, he said.

Very well; and may we not rightly say that we have sufficiently discussed thenature of tyranny, and the manner of the transition from democracy to tyranny?

Yes, quite enough, he said.

Last of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we have once more to ask, howis he formed out of the democratical? and how does he live, in happiness or inmisery?

Yes, he said, he is the only one remaining.

There is, however, I said, a previous question which remains unanswered.

What question?

I do not think that we have adequately determined the nature and number of theappetites, and until this is accomplished the enquiry 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 ofthe unnecessary pleasures and appetites I conceive to be unlawful; every oneappears to have them, but in some persons they are controlled by the laws andby reason, and the better desires prevail over them—either they arewholly banished or they become few and weak; while in the case of others theyare stronger, and there are more of them.

Which appetites do you mean?

I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and human and ruling power isasleep; then the wild beast within us, gorged with meat or drink, starts up andhaving shaken off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is noconceivable folly or crime—not excepting incest or any other unnaturalunion, or parricide, or the eating of forbidden food—which at such atime, when he has parted company with all shame and sense, a man may not beready to commit.

Most true, he said.

But when a man’s pulse is healthy and temperate, and when before going tosleep he has awakened his rational powers, and fed them on noble thoughts andenquiries, collecting himself in meditation; after having first indulged hisappetites neither too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them tosleep, and prevent them and their enjoyments and pains from interfering withthe higher principle—which he leaves in the solitude of pure abstraction,free to contemplate and aspire to the knowledge of the unknown, whether inpast, present, or future: when again he has allayed the passionate element, ifhe has a quarrel against any one—I say, when, after pacifying the twoirrational principles, he rouses up the third, which is reason, before he takeshis rest, then, as you know, he attains truth most nearly, and is least likelyto be the sport of fantastic and lawless visions.

I quite agree.

In saying this I have been running into a digression; but the point which Idesire to note is that in all of us, even in good men, there is a lawlesswild-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. Hewas supposed from his youth upwards to have been trained under a miserlyparent, who encouraged the saving appetites in him, but discountenanced theunnecessary, which aim only at amusement and ornament?


And then he got into the company of a more refined, licentious sort of people,and taking to all their wanton ways rushed into the opposite extreme from anabhorrence of his father’s meanness. At last, being a better man than hiscorruptors, he was drawn in both directions until he halted midway and led alife, not of vulgar and slavish passion, but of what he deemed moderateindulgence in various pleasures. After this manner the democrat was generatedout of the oligarch?

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’sprinciples.

I can imagine him.

Then you must further imagine the same thing to happen to the son which hasalready happened to the father:—he is drawn into a perfectly lawlesslife, which by his seducers is termed perfect liberty; and his father andfriends take part with his moderate desires, and the opposite party assist theopposite ones. As soon as these dire magicians and tyrant-makers find that theyare losing their hold on him, they contrive to implant in him a master passion,to be lord over his idle and spendthrift lusts—a sort of monstrous wingeddrone—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 perfumes and garlands andwines, and all the pleasures of a dissolute life, now let loose, come buzzingaround him, nourishing to the utmost the sting of desire which they implant inhis drone-like nature, then at last this lord of the soul, having Madness forthe captain of his guard, breaks out into a frenzy: and if he finds in himselfany good opinions or appetites in process of formation, and there is in him anysense of shame remaining, to these better principles he puts an end, and caststhem forth until he has purged away temperance and brought in madness to thefull.

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 fancythat 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 feastsand carousals and revellings and courtezans, and all that sort of thing; Loveis 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, andtheir demands are many.

They are indeed, he said.

His revenues, if he has any, are soon spent.


Then comes debt and the cutting down of his property.

Of course.

When he has nothing left, must not his desires, crowding in the nest like youngravens, be crying aloud for food; and he, goaded on by them, and especially bylove himself, who is in a manner the captain of them, is in a frenzy, and wouldfain discover whom he can defraud or despoil of his property, in order that hemay 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 thebetter of the old and took away their rights, so he being younger will claim tohave more than his father and his mother, and if he has spent his own share ofthe property, 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 cheatand 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? Willthe creature feel any compunction at tyrannizing over them?

Nay, he said, I should not feel at all comfortable about his parents.

But, O heavens! Adeimantus, on account of some new-fangled love of a harlot,who is anything but a necessary connection, can you believe that he wouldstrike the mother who is his ancient friend and necessary to his veryexistence, and would place her under the authority of the other, when she isbrought under the same roof with her; or that, under like circumstances, hewould do the same to his withered old father, first and most indispensable offriends, for the sake of some newly-found blooming youth who is the reverse ofindispensable?

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 beginningto swarm in the hive of his soul, then he breaks into a house, or steals thegarments of some nightly wayfarer; next he proceeds to clear a temple.Meanwhile the old opinions which he had when a child, and which gave judgmentabout good and evil, are overthrown by those others which have just beenemancipated, and are now the body-guard of love and share his empire. These inhis 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 thedominion of love, he becomes always and in waking reality what he was then veryrarely and in a dream only; he will commit the foulest murder, or eat forbiddenfood, or be guilty of any other horrid act. Love is his tyrant, and liveslordly in him and lawlessly, and being himself a king, leads him on, as atyrant leads a State, to the performance of any reckless deed by which he canmaintain himself and the rabble of his associates, whether those whom evilcommunications have brought in from without, or those whom he himself hasallowed to break loose within him by reason of a similar evil nature inhimself. Have we not here a picture 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 peopleare well disposed, they go away and become the body-guard or mercenary soldiersof some other tyrant who may probably want them for a war; and if there is nowar, they stay at home and do many little pieces of mischief in the city.

What sort of mischief?

For example, they are the thieves, burglars, cut-purses, foot-pads, robbers oftemples, man-stealers of the community; or if they are able to speak they turninformers, 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 athousand miles of the tyrant; when this noxious class and their followers grownumerous and become conscious of their strength, assisted by the infatuation ofthe people, they choose from among themselves the one who has most of thetyrant 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 bybeating 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, insubjection to his young retainers whom he has introduced to be their rulers andmasters. This is the end of his passions and desires.


When such men are only private individuals and before they get power, this istheir character; they associate entirely with their own flatterers or readytools; or if they want anything from anybody, they in their turn are equallyready 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 ofanybody; the tyrant never tastes of true freedom 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 notion 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 thewaking reality of what we dreamed.

Most true.

And this is he who being by nature most of a tyrant bears rule, and the longerhe 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 mostmiserable? and he who has tyrannized longest and most, most continually andtruly 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 thedemocratical 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 isunder a tyrant, how do they stand as to virtue?

They are the opposite extremes, he said, for one is the very best and the otheris the very worst.

There can be no mistake, I said, as to which is which, and therefore I will atonce enquire whether you would arrive at a similar decision about theirrelative happiness and misery. And here we must not allow ourselves to bepanic-stricken at the apparition of the tyrant, who is only a unit and mayperhaps have a few retainers about him; but let us go as we ought into everycorner of the city and look all about, and then we will give our opinion.

A fair invitation, he replied; and I see, as every one must, that a tyranny isthe 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 Ishould have a judge whose mind can enter into and see through human nature? hemust not be like a child who looks at the outside and is dazzled at the pompousaspect which the tyrannical nature assumes to the beholder, but let him be onewho has a clear insight. May I suppose that the judgment is given in thehearing of us all by one who is able to judge, and has dwelt in the same placewith him, and been present at his dally life and known him in his familyrelations, where he may be seen stripped of his tragedy attire, and again inthe hour of public danger—he shall tell us about the happiness and miseryof the tyrant when compared with other men?

That again, he said, is a very fair proposal.

Shall I assume that we ourselves are able and experienced judges and havebefore now met with such a person? We shall then have some one who will answerour enquiries.

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, willyou tell me their respective conditions?

What do you mean? he asked.

Beginning with the State, I replied, would you say that a city which isgoverned 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, speakinggenerally, and the best of them are miserably degraded and enslaved.

Then if the man is like the State, I said, must not the same rule prevail? hissoul is full of meanness and vulgarity—the best elements in him areenslaved; and there is a small ruling part, which is also the worst andmaddest.


And would you say that the soul of such an one is the soul of a freeman, or ofa slave?

He has the soul of a slave, in my opinion.

And the State which is enslaved under a tyrant is utterly incapable of actingvoluntarily?

Utterly incapable.

And also the soul which is under a tyrant (I am speaking of the soul taken as awhole) is least capable of doing what she desires; there is a gadfly whichgoads 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 lamentation and sorrow andgroaning and pain?

Certainly not.

And is there any man in whom you will find more of this sort of misery than inthe tyrannical man, who is in a fury of passions and desires?


Reflecting upon these and similar evils, you held the tyrannical State to bethe most miserable of States?

And I was right, he said.

Certainly, I said. And when you see the same evils in the tyrannical man, whatdo 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 extreme 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 hasbeen 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 andevil is the greatest.

Very true, he said.

Let me then offer you an illustration, which may, I think, throw a light uponthis subject.

What is your illustration?

The case of rich individuals in cities who possess many slaves: from them youmay form an idea of the tyrant’s condition, 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 apprehend from theirservants?

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 protectionof each individual.

Very true, I said. But imagine one of these owners, the master say of somefifty slaves, together with his family and property and slaves, carried off bya god into the wilderness, where there are no freemen to help him—will henot be in an agony of fear lest he and his wife and children should be put todeath 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 freedom and other things, much against hiswill—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 surround him with neighbourswho will not suffer one man to be the master of another, and who, if they couldcatch the offender, would take his life?

His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be everywhere surroundedand watched by enemies.

And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will be bound—hewho being by nature such as we have described, is full of all sorts of fearsand lusts? His soul is dainty and greedy, and yet alone, of all men in thecity, he is never allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which otherfreemen desire to see, but he lives in his hole like a woman hidden in thehouse, and is jealous of any other citizen who goes into foreign parts and seesanything of interest.

Very true, he said.

And amid evils such as these will not he who is ill-governed in his ownperson—the tyrannical man, I mean—whom you just now decided to bethe most miserable of all—will not he be yet more miserable when, insteadof 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 adiseased 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 worselife 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 isobliged to practise the greatest adulation and servility, and to be theflatterer of the vilest of mankind. He has desires which he is utterly unableto satisfy, and has more wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know howto inspect the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset with fear andis full of convulsions and distractions, even as the State which he resembles:and surely the resemblance holds?

Very true, he said.

Moreover, as we were saying before, he grows worse from having power: hebecomes and is of necessity more jealous, more faithless, more unjust, morefriendless, more impious, than he was at first; he is the purveyor andcherisher of every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremelymiserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself.

No man of any sense will dispute your words.

Come then, I said, and as the general umpire in theatrical contests proclaimsthe result, do you also decide who in your opinion is first in the scale ofhappiness, and who second, and in what order the others follow: there are fiveof them in all—they are the royal, timocratical, oligarchical,democratical, tyrannical.

The decision will be easily given, he replied; they shall be choruses coming onthe stage, and I must judge them in the order in which they enter, by thecriterion 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 hewho is the most royal man and king over himself; and that the worst and mostunjust man is also the most miserable, and that this is he who being thegreatest 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 men’?

Let the words be added.

Then this, I said, will be our first proof; and there is another, which mayalso have some weight.

What is that?

The second proof is derived from the nature of the soul: seeing that theindividual soul, like the State, has been divided 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; alsothree desires and governing powers.

How do you mean? he said.

There is one principle with which, as we were saying, a man learns, anotherwith which he is angry; the third, having many forms, has no special name, butis denoted by the general term appetitive, from the extraordinary strength andvehemence of the desires of eating and drinking and the other sensual appetiteswhich are the main elements of it; also money-loving, because such desires aregenerally 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 wereconcerned with gain, we should then be able to fall back on a single notion;and might truly and intelligibly describe this part of the soul as loving gainor money.

I agree with you.

Again, is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling and conquering andgetting fame?


Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious—would the term besuitable?

Extremely suitable.

On the other hand, every one sees that the principle of knowledge is whollydirected to the truth, and cares less than either of the others for gain orfame.

Far less.

‘Lover of wisdom,’ ‘lover of knowledge,’ are titleswhich we may fitly apply to that part of the soul?


One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men, another in others, asmay happen?


Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes of men—loversof wisdom, lovers of honour, lovers of gain?


And there are three kinds of pleasure, which are their several objects?

Very true.

Now, if you examine the three classes of men, and ask of them in turn which oftheir lives is pleasantest, each will be found praising his own anddepreciating that of others: the money-maker will contrast the vanity of honouror of learning if they bring no money with the solid advantages of gold andsilver?

True, he said.

And the lover of honour—what will be his opinion? Will he not think thatthe pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the pleasure of learning, if it bringsno distinction, is all smoke and nonsense to him?

Very true.

And are we to suppose, I said, that the philosopher sets any value on otherpleasures in comparison with the pleasure of knowing the truth, and in thatpursuit abiding, ever learning, not so far indeed from the heaven of pleasure?Does he not call the other pleasures necessary, under the idea that if therewere no necessity for them, he would rather not have them?

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 honourable, or better orworse, but which is the more pleasant or painless—how shall we know whospeaks truly?

I cannot myself tell, he said.

Well, but what ought to be the criterion? Is any better than experience andwisdom and reason?

There cannot be a better, he said.

Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has the greatestexperience of all the pleasures which we enumerated? Has the lover of gain, inlearning the nature of essential truth, greater experience of the pleasure ofknowledge than the philosopher has of the pleasure of gain?

The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage; for he has of necessityalways known the taste of the other pleasures from his childhood upwards: butthe lover of gain in all his experience has not of necessity tasted—or, Ishould rather say, even had he desired, could hardly have tasted—thesweetness of learning and knowing truth.

Then the lover of wisdom has a great advantage over the lover of gain, for hehas a double experience?

Yes, very great.

Again, has he greater experience of the pleasures of honour, or the lover ofhonour of the pleasures of wisdom?

Nay, he said, all three are honoured in proportion as they attain their object;for the rich man and the brave man and the wise man alike have their crowd ofadmirers, and as they all receive honour they all have experience of thepleasures of honour; but the delight which is to be found in the knowledge oftrue being is known to the philosopher only.

His experience, then, will enable him to judge better than any one?

Far better.

And he is the only one who has wisdom as well as experience?


Further, the very faculty which is the instrument of judgment is not possessedby 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 ofgain would surely be the most trustworthy?


Or if honour or victory or courage, in that case the judgment of the ambitiousor pugnacious would be the truest?


But since experience and wisdom and reason are the judges—

The only inference possible, he replied, is that pleasures which are approvedby the lover of wisdom and reason are the truest.

And so we arrive at the result, that the pleasure of the intelligent part ofthe soul is the pleasantest of the three, and that he of us in whom this is theruling principle has the pleasantest life.

Unquestionably, he said, the wise man speaks with authority when he approves ofhis own life.

And what does the judge affirm to be the life which is next, and the pleasurewhich is next?

Clearly that of the soldier and lover of honour; who is nearer to himself thanthe money-maker.

Last comes the lover of gain?

Very true, he said.

Twice in succession, then, has the just man overthrown the unjust in thisconflict; and now comes the third trial, which is dedicated to Olympian Zeusthe saviour: a sage whispers in my ear that no pleasure except that of the wiseis quite true and pure—all others are a shadow only; and surely this willprove 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 questions.


Say, then, is not pleasure opposed to pain?


And there is a neutral state which is neither pleasure nor pain?

There is.

A state which is intermediate, and a sort of repose of the soul abouteither—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 thisto 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 saythat 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 andcessation of pain, and not any positive enjoyment, is extolled by them as thegreatest 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 ina 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 ispleasure at the moment and in comparison of what is painful, and painful incomparison of what is pleasant; but all these representations, when tried bythe 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 antecedent pains and youwill no longer suppose, as you perhaps may at present, that pleasure is onlythe 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 arevery great and have no antecedent pains; they come in a moment, and when theydepart leave no pain behind them.

Most true, he said.

Let us not, then, be induced to believe that pure pleasure is the cessation ofpain, or pain of pleasure.


Still, the more numerous and violent pleasures which reach the soul through thebody 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 middleregion?

I should.

And if a person were to go from the lower to the middle region, would he notimagine that he is going up; and he who is standing in the middle and seeswhence he has come, would imagine that he is already in the upper region, if hehas 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 hewas descending?

No doubt.

All that would arise out of his ignorance of the true upper and middle andlower regions?


Then can you wonder that persons who are inexperienced in the truth, as theyhave wrong ideas about many other things, should also have wrong ideas aboutpleasure and pain and the intermediate state; so that when they are only beingdrawn towards the painful they feel pain and think the pain which theyexperience to be real, and in like manner, when drawn away from pain to theneutral or intermediate state, they firmly believe that they have reached thegoal of satiety and pleasure; they, not knowing pleasure, err in contrastingpain with the absence of pain, which is like contrasting black with greyinstead 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 ofthe 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 hasmore existence the truer?

Clearly, from that which has more.

What classes of things have a greater share of pure existence in yourjudgment—those of which food and drink and condiments and all kinds ofsustenance are examples, or the class which contains true opinion and knowledgeand mind and all the different kinds of virtue? Put the question in thisway:—Which has a more pure being—that which is concerned with theinvariable, the immortal, and the true, and is of such a nature, and is foundin such natures; or that which is concerned with and found in the variable andmortal, and is itself variable and mortal?

Far purer, he replied, is the being of that which is concerned with theinvariable.

And does the essence of the invariable partake of knowledge in the same degreeas 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 bodyhave 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 realexistence, is more really filled than that which is filled with less realexistence and is less real?

Of course.

And if there be a pleasure in being filled with that which is according tonature, that which is more really filled with more real being will more reallyand truly enjoy true pleasure; whereas that which participates in less realbeing will be less truly and surely satisfied, and will participate in anillusory and less real pleasure?


Those then who know not wisdom and virtue, and are always busy with gluttonyand sensuality, go down and up again as far as the mean; and in this regionthey move at random throughout life, but they never pass into the true upperworld; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find their way, neither arethey truly filled with true being, nor do they taste of pure and abidingpleasure. Like cattle, with their eyes always looking down and their headsstooping to the earth, that is, to the dining-table, they fatten and feed andbreed, and, in their excessive love of these delights, they kick and butt atone another with horns and hoofs which are made of iron; and they kill oneanother by reason of their insatiable lust. For they fill themselves with thatwhich is not substantial, and the part of themselves which they fill is alsounsubstantial and incontinent.

Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the many like anoracle.

Their pleasures are mixed with pains—how can they be otherwise? For theyare mere shadows and pictures of the true, and are coloured by contrast, whichexaggerates both light and shade, and so they implant in the minds of foolsinsane desires of themselves; and they are fought about as Stesichorus saysthat the Greeks fought about the shadow of Helen at Troy in ignorance of thetruth.

Something of that sort must inevitably happen.

And must not the like happen with the spirited or passionate element of thesoul? Will not the passionate man who carries his passion into action, be inthe like case, whether he is envious and ambitious, or violent and contentious,or angry and discontented, if he be seeking to attain honour and victory andthe satisfaction of his anger without reason or sense?

Yes, he said, the same will happen with the spirited element also.

Then may we not confidently assert that the lovers of money and honour, whenthey seek their pleasures under the guidance and in the company of reason andknowledge, and pursue after and win the pleasures which wisdom shows them, willalso have the truest pleasures in the highest degree which is attainable tothem, inasmuch as they follow truth; and they will have the pleasures which arenatural to them, if that which is best for each one is also most natural tohim?

Yes, certainly; the best is the most natural.

And when the whole soul follows the philosophical principle, and there is nodivision, 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 itsown pleasure, and compels the rest to pursue after a pleasure which is a shadowonly and which is not their own?


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 lawand order?


And the lustful and tyrannical desires are, as we saw, at the greatestdistance? Yes.

And the royal and orderly desires are nearest?


Then the tyrant will live at the greatest distance from true or naturalpleasure, and the king at the least?


But if so, the tyrant will live most unpleasantly, and the king mostpleasantly?


Would you know the measure of the interval which separates them?

Will you tell me?

There appear to be three pleasures, one genuine and two spurious: now thetransgression of the tyrant reaches a point beyond the spurious; he has runaway from the region of law and reason, and taken up his abode with certainslave pleasures which are his satellites, and the measure of his inferioritycan 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; thedemocrat was in the middle?


And if there is truth in what has preceded, he will be wedded to an image ofpleasure 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 andaristocratical?

Yes, he is third.

Then the tyrant is removed from true pleasure by the space of a number which isthree times three?


The shadow then of tyrannical pleasure determined by the number of length willbe a plane figure.


And if you raise the power and make the plane a solid, there is no difficultyin 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 whichthe king is parted from the tyrant in truth of pleasure, he will find him, whenthe multiplication is completed, living 729 times more pleasantly, and thetyrant more painfully by this same interval.

What a wonderful calculation! And how enormous is the distance which separatesthe 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. (729NEARLY equals the number of days and nights in the year.)

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 andunjust, his superiority will be infinitely greater in propriety of life and inbeauty and virtue?

Immeasurably greater.

Well, I said, and now having arrived at this stage of the argument, we mayrevert to the words which brought us hither: Was not some one saying thatinjustice 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, letus 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 presentedbefore 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 whichtwo or more different natures are said to grow into one.

There are said of have been such unions.

Then do you now model the form of a multitudinous, many-headed monster, havinga ring of heads of all manner of beasts, tame and wild, which he is able togenerate and metamorphose at will.

You suppose marvellous powers in the artist; but, as language is more pliablethan 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, thesecond 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 hewho is not able to look within, and sees only the outer hull, may believe thebeast to be a single human creature.

I have done so, he said.

And now, to him who maintains that it is profitable for the human creature tobe unjust, and unprofitable to be just, let us reply that, if he be right, itis profitable for this creature to feast the multitudinous monster andstrengthen the lion and the lion-like qualities, but to starve and weaken theman, who is consequently liable to be dragged about at the mercy of either ofthe other two; and he is not to attempt to familiarize or harmonize them withone another—he ought rather to suffer them to fight and bite and devourone another.

Certainly, he said; that is what the approver of injustice says.

To him the supporter of justice makes answer that he should ever so speak andact as to give the man within him in some way or other the most completemastery over the entire human creature. He should watch over the many-headedmonster like a good husbandman, fostering and cultivating the gentle qualities,and preventing the wild ones from growing; he should be making the lion-hearthis ally, and in common care of them all should be uniting the several partswith one another and with himself.

Yes, he said, that is quite what the maintainer of justice say.

And so from every point of view, whether of pleasure, honour, or advantage, theapprover of justice is right and speaks the truth, and the disapprover is wrongand false and ignorant?

Yes, from every point of view.

Come, now, and let us gently reason with the unjust, who is not intentionallyin error. ‘Sweet Sir,’ we will say to him, ‘what think you ofthings esteemed noble and ignoble? Is not the noble that which subjects thebeast to the man, or rather to the god in man; and the ignoble that whichsubjects the man to the beast?’ He can hardly avoid saying Yes—canhe now?

Not if he has any regard for my opinion.

But, if he agree so far, we may ask him to answer another question: ‘Thenhow would a man profit if he received gold and silver on the condition that hewas to enslave the noblest part of him to the worst? Who can imagine that a manwho sold his son or daughter into slavery for money, especially if he sold theminto the hands of fierce and evil men, would be the gainer, however large mightbe the sum which he received? And will any one say that he is not a miserablecaitiff who remorselessly sells his own divine being to that which is mostgodless and detestable? Eriphyle took the necklace as the price of herhusband’s life, but he is taking a bribe in order to compass a worseruin.’

Yes, said Glaucon, far worse—I will answer for him.

Has not the intemperate been censured of old, because in him the huge multiformmonster is allowed to be too much at large?


And men are blamed for pride and bad temper when the lion and serpent elementin them disproportionately grows and gains strength?


And luxury and softness are blamed, because they relax and weaken this samecreature, and make a coward of him?

Very true.

And is not a man reproached for flattery and meanness who subordinates thespirited animal to the unruly monster, and, for the sake of money, of which hecan never have enough, habituates him in the days of his youth to be trampledin the mire, and from being a lion to become a monkey?

True, he said.

And why are mean employments and manual arts a reproach? Only because theyimply a natural weakness of the higher principle; the individual is unable tocontrol the creatures within him, but has to court them, and his great study ishow to flatter them.

Such appears to be the reason.

And therefore, being desirous of placing him under a rule like that of thebest, we say that he ought to be the servant of the best, in whom the Divinerules; not, as Thrasymachus supposed, to the injury of the servant, but becauseevery one had better be ruled by divine wisdom dwelling within him; or, if thisbe impossible, then by an external authority, in order that we may be all, asfar 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 ofthe whole city; and is seen also in the authority which we exercise overchildren, and the refusal to let them be free until we have established in thema principle analogous to the constitution of a state, and by cultivation ofthis higher element have set up in their hearts a guardian and ruler like ourown, 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 isprofited by injustice or intemperance or other baseness, which will make him aworse 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 unpunished? He who isundetected only gets worse, whereas he who is detected and punished has thebrutal part of his nature silenced and humanized; the gentler element in him isliberated, and his whole soul is perfected and ennobled by the acquirement ofjustice and temperance and wisdom, more than the body ever is by receivinggifts of beauty, strength and health, in proportion as the soul is morehonourable than the body.

Certainly, he said.

To this nobler purpose the man of understanding will devote the energies of hislife. And in the first place, he will honour studies which impress thesequalities on his soul and will disregard others?

Clearly, he said.

In the next place, he will regulate his bodily habit and training, and so farwill he be from yielding to brutal and irrational pleasures, that he willregard even health as quite a secondary matter; his first object will be notthat he may be fair or strong or well, unless he is likely thereby to gaintemperance, but he will always desire so to attemper the body as to preservethe 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 harmonywhich he will also observe; he will not allow himself to be dazzled by thefoolish 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 disorderoccur in it, such as might arise either from superfluity or from want; and uponthis principle he will regulate his property and gain or spend according to hismeans.

Very true.

And, for the same reason, he will gladly accept and enjoy such honours as hedeems 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 thefounders, and which exists in idea only; for I do not believe that there issuch an one anywhere on earth?

In heaven, I replied, there is laid up a pattern of it, methinks, which he whodesires may behold, and beholding, may set his own house in order. But whethersuch an one exists, or ever will exist in fact, is no matter; for he will liveafter the manner of that city, having nothing to do with any other.

I think so, he said.

Of the many excellences which I perceive in the order of our State, there isnone 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 beendistinguished.

What do you mean?

Speaking in confidence, for I should not like to have my words repeated to thetragedians and the rest of the imitative tribe—but I do not mind sayingto you, that all poetical imitations are ruinous to the understanding of thehearers, and that the knowledge of their true nature is the only antidote tothem.

Explain the purport of your remark.

Well, I will tell you, although I have always from my earliest youth had an aweand love of Homer, which even now makes the words falter on my lips, for he isthe great captain and teacher of the whole of that charming tragic company; buta man is not to be reverenced more than the truth, and therefore I will speakout.

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, Icould not muster courage to utter it. Will you enquire yourself?

Well then, shall we begin the enquiry in our usual manner: Whenever a number ofindividuals have a common name, we assume them to have also a correspondingidea or form:—do you understand me?

I do.

Let us take any common instance; there are beds and tables in theworld—plenty of them, are there not?


But there are only two ideas or forms of them—one the idea of a bed, theother of a table.


And the maker of either of them makes a bed or he makes a table for our use, inaccordance with the idea—that is our way of speaking in this and similarinstances—but no artificer makes the ideas themselves: how could he?


And there is another artist,—I should like to know what you would say ofhim.

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 hewho 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 whichare 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 orcreator, or that in one sense there might be a maker of all these things but inanother not? Do you see that there is a way in which you could make them allyourself?

What way?

An easy way enough; or rather, there are many ways in which the feat might bequickly and easily accomplished, none quicker than that of turning a mirrorround and round—you would soon enough make the sun and the heavens, andthe earth and yourself, and other animals and plants, and all the other thingsof 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, asI 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 untrue. And yet thereis 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, notthe idea which, according to our view, is the essence of the bed, but only aparticular bed?

Yes, I did.

Then if he does not make that which exists he cannot make true existence, butonly some semblance of existence; and if any one were to say that the work ofthe maker of the bed, or of any other workman, has real existence, he couldhardly be supposed to be speaking the truth.

At any rate, he replied, philosophers would say that he was not speaking thetruth.

No wonder, then, that his work too is an indistinct expression of truth.

No wonder.

Suppose now that by the light of the examples just offered we enquire who thisimitator 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 superintendthem: 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 oneonly; two or more such ideal beds neither ever have been nor ever will be madeby God.

Why is that?

Because even if He had made but two, a third would still appear behind themwhich both of them would have for their idea, and that would be the ideal bedand not the two others.

Very true, he said.

God knew this, and He desired to be the real maker of a real bed, not aparticular maker of a particular bed, and therefore He created a bed which isessentially 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 creation He is theauthor of this and of all other things.

And what shall we say of the carpenter—is not he also the maker of thebed?


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 thatwhich the others make.

Good, I said; then you call him who is third in the descent from nature animitator?

Certainly, he said.

And the tragic poet is an imitator, and therefore, like all other imitators, heis 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?—Iwould like to know whether he may be thought to imitate that which originallyexists in nature, or only the creations of artists?

The latter.

As they are or as they appear? you have still to determine this.

What do you mean?

I mean, that you may look at a bed from different points of view, obliquely ordirectly 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 tobe—an imitation of things as they are, or as they appear—ofappearance or of reality?

Of appearance.

Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all thingsbecause he lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image. Forexample: A painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artist, thoughhe knows nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good artist, he may deceivechildren or simple persons, when he shows them his picture of a carpenter froma distance, and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter.


And whenever any one 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 higherdegree of accuracy than any other man—whoever tells us this, I think thatwe can only imagine him to be a simple creature who is likely to have beendeceived by some wizard or actor whom he met, and whom he thought all-knowing,because he himself was unable to analyse the nature of knowledge and ignoranceand imitation.

Most true.

And so, when we hear persons saying that the tragedians, and Homer, who is attheir head, know all the arts and all things human, virtue as well as vice, anddivine things too, for that the good poet cannot compose well unless he knowshis subject, and that he who has not this knowledge can never be a poet, weought to consider whether here also there may not be a similar illusion.Perhaps they may have come across imitators and been deceived by them; they maynot have remembered when they saw their works that these were but imitationsthrice removed from the truth, and could easily be made without any knowledgeof the truth, because they are appearances only and not realities? Or, afterall, they may be in the right, and poets do really know the things about whichthey 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 asthe image, he would seriously devote himself to the image-making branch? Wouldhe allow imitation to be the ruling principle of his life, as if he had nothinghigher in him?

I should say not.

The real artist, who knew what he was imitating, would be interested inrealities and not in imitations; and would desire to leave as memorials ofhimself works many and fair; and, instead of being the author of encomiums, hewould prefer to be the theme of them.

Yes, he said, that would be to him a source of much greater honour and profit.

Then, I said, we must put a question to Homer; not about medicine, or any ofthe arts to which his poems only incidentally refer: we are not going to askhim, or any other poet, whether he has cured patients like Asclepius, or leftbehind him a school of medicine such as the Asclepiads were, or whether he onlytalks about medicine and other arts at second-hand; but we have a right to knowrespecting military tactics, politics, education, which are the chiefest andnoblest subjects of his poems, and we may fairly ask him about them.‘Friend Homer,’ then we say to him, ‘if you are only in thesecond remove from truth in what you say of virtue, and not in thethird—not an image maker or imitator—and if you are able to discernwhat pursuits make men better or worse in private or public life, tell us whatState was ever better governed by your help? The good order of Lacedaemon isdue to Lycurgus, and many other cities great and small have been similarlybenefited by others; but who says that you have been a good legislator to themand have done them any good? Italy and Sicily boast of Charondas, and there isSolon who is renowned among us; but what city has anything to say aboutyou?’ Is there any city which he might name?

I think not, said Glaucon; not even the Homerids themselves pretend that he wasa legislator.

Well, but is there any war on record which was carried on successfully by him,or aided by his counsels, when he was alive?

There is not.

Or is there any invention of his, applicable to the arts or to human life, suchas Thales the Milesian or Anacharsis the Scythian, and other ingenious men haveconceived, 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 teacherof any? Had he in his lifetime friends who loved to associate with him, and whohanded down to posterity an Homeric way of life, such as was established byPythagoras who was so greatly beloved for his wisdom, and whose followers areto this day quite celebrated for the order which was named after him?

Nothing of the kind is recorded of him. For surely, Socrates, Creophylus, thecompanion 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 wasgreatly 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 ifHomer had really been able to educate and improve mankind—if he hadpossessed knowledge and not been a mere imitator—can you imagine, I say,that he would not have had many followers, and been honoured and loved by them?Protagoras of Abdera, and Prodicus of Ceos, and a host of others, have only towhisper to their contemporaries: ‘You will never be able to manage eitheryour own house or your own State until you appoint us to be your ministers ofeducation’—and this ingenious device of theirs has such an effectin making men love them that their companions all but carry them about on theirshoulders. And is it conceivable that the contemporaries of Homer, or again ofHesiod, would have allowed either of them to go about as rhapsodists, if theyhad really been able to make mankind virtuous? Would they not have been asunwilling to part with them as with gold, and have compelled them to stay athome with them? Or, if the master would not stay, then the disciples would havefollowed 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 withHomer, are only imitators; they copy images of virtue and the like, but thetruth they never reach? The poet is like a painter who, as we have alreadyobserved, will make a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing ofcobbling; and his picture is good enough for those who know no more than hedoes, and judge only by colours and figures.

Quite so.

In like manner the poet with his words and phrases may be said to lay on thecolours of the several arts, himself understanding their nature only enough toimitate them; and other people, who are as ignorant as he is, and judge onlyfrom his words, imagine that if he speaks of cobbling, or of military tactics,or of anything else, in metre and harmony and rhythm, he speaks verywell—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 appearancethe tales of poets make when stripped of the colours which music puts uponthem, and recited in simple prose.

Yes, he said.

They are like faces which were never really beautiful, but only blooming; andnow the bloom of youth has passed away from them?


Here is another point: The imitator or maker of the image knows nothing of trueexistence; he knows appearances only. Am I not right?


Then let us have a clear understanding, and not be satisfied with half anexplanation.


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 eventhe workers in brass and leather who make them; only the horseman who knows howto 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 them?


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 theartist has intended them.


Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of them, and he mustindicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which develop themselves inuse; for example, the flute-player will tell the flute-maker which of hisflutes is satisfactory to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to makethem, and the other will attend to his instructions?

Of course.

The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness andbadness of flutes, while the other, confiding in him, will do what he is toldby him?


The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or badness of it the makerwill 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 theuser will have knowledge?


But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use whether or no hisdrawing is correct or beautiful? or will he have right opinion from beingcompelled to associate with another who knows and gives him instructions aboutwhat he should draw?


Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have knowledge about thegoodness or badness of his imitations?

I suppose not.

The imitative artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence about his owncreations?

Nay, very much the reverse.

And still he will go on imitating without knowing what makes a thing good orbad, and may be expected therefore to imitate only that which appears to begood to the ignorant multitude?

Just so.

Thus far then we are pretty well agreed that the imitator has no knowledgeworth mentioning of what he imitates. Imitation is only a kind of play orsport, 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 beconcerned with that which is thrice removed from the truth?


And what is the faculty in man to which imitation is addressed?

What do you mean?

I will explain: The body which is large when seen near, appears small when seenat a distance?


And the same object appears straight when looked at out of the water, andcrooked when in the water; and the concave becomes convex, owing to theillusion about colours to which the sight is liable. Thus every sort ofconfusion is revealed within us; and this is that weakness of the human mind onwhich the art of conjuring and of deceiving by light and shadow and otheringenious devices imposes, having an effect upon us like magic.


And the arts of measuring and numbering and weighing come to the rescue of thehuman understanding—there is the beauty of them—and the apparentgreater or less, or more or heavier, no longer have the mastery over us, butgive way before calculation and measure and weight?

Most true.

And this, surely, must be the work of the calculating and rational principle inthe soul?

To be sure.

And when this principle measures and certifies that some things are equal, orthat some are greater or less than others, there occurs an apparentcontradiction?


But were we not saying that such a contradiction is impossible—the samefaculty 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 thesame with that which has an opinion in accordance with measure?


And the better part of the soul is likely to be that which trusts to measureand calculation?


And that which is opposed to them is one of the inferior principles of thesoul?

No doubt.

This was the conclusion at which I was seeking to arrive when I said thatpainting or drawing, and imitation in general, when doing their own properwork, are far removed from truth, and the companions and friends and associatesof a principle within us which is equally removed from reason, and that theyhave no true or healthy aim.


The imitative art is an inferior who marries an inferior, and has inferioroffspring.

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; butlet us examine further and see whether the faculty with which poeticalimitation is concerned is good or bad.

By all means.

We may state the question thus:—Imitation imitates the actions of men,whether voluntary or involuntary, on which, as they imagine, a good or badresult has ensued, and they rejoice or sorrow accordingly. Is there anythingmore?

No, there is nothing else.

But in all this variety of circumstances is the man at unity withhimself—or rather, as in the instance of sight there was confusion andopposition in his opinions about the same things, so here also is there notstrife and inconsistency in his life? Though I need hardly raise the questionagain, for I remember that all this has been already admitted; and the soul hasbeen acknowledged by us to be full of these and ten thousand similaroppositions occurring at the same moment?

And we were right, he said.

Yes, I said, thus far we were right; but there was an omission which must nowbe supplied.

What was the omission?

Were we not saying that a good man, who has the misfortune to lose his son oranything else which is most dear to him, will bear the loss with moreequanimity than another?


But will he have no sorrow, or shall we say that although he cannot helpsorrowing, 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 sorrowwhen he is seen by his equals, or when he is alone?

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 hewould be ashamed of any one hearing or seeing him do?


There is a principle of law and reason in him which bids him resist, as well asa 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 sameobject, 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 weshould not give way to impatience, as there is no knowing whether such thingsare good or evil; and nothing is gained by impatience; also, because no humanthing is of serious importance, and grief stands in the way of that which atthe moment is most required.

What is most required? he asked.

That we should take counsel about what has happened, and when the dice havebeen thrown order our affairs in the way which reason deems best; not, likechildren who have had a fall, keeping hold of the part struck and wasting timein setting up a howl, but always accustoming the soul forthwith to apply aremedy, raising up that which is sickly and fallen, banishing the cry of sorrowby the healing art.

Yes, he said, that is the true way of meeting the attacks of fortune.

Yes, I said; and the higher principle is ready to follow this suggestion ofreason?


And the other principle, which inclines us to recollection of our troubles andto 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 agreat variety of materials for imitation? Whereas the wise and calmtemperament, being always nearly equable, is not easy to imitate or toappreciate when imitated, especially at a public festival when a promiscuouscrowd is assembled in a theatre. For the feeling represented is one to whichthey are strangers.


Then the imitative poet who aims at being popular is not by nature made, nor ishis 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 heis like him in two ways: first, inasmuch as his creations have an inferiordegree of truth—in this, I say, he is like him; and he is also like himin being concerned with an inferior part of the soul; and therefore we shall beright in refusing to admit him into a well-ordered State, because he awakensand nourishes and strengthens the feelings and impairs the reason. As in a citywhen the evil are permitted to have authority and the good are put out of theway, so in the soul of man, as we maintain, the imitative poet implants an evilconstitution, for he indulges the irrational nature which has no discernment ofgreater and less, but thinks the same thing at one time great and at anothersmall—he is a manufacturer of images and is very far removed from thetruth.


But we have not yet brought forward the heaviest count in ouraccusation:—the power which poetry has of harming even the good (andthere 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 ofHomer, or one of the tragedians, in which he represents some pitiful hero whois drawling out his sorrows in a long oration, or weeping, and smiting hisbreast—the best of us, you know, delight in giving way to sympathy, andare in raptures at the excellence of the poet who stirs our feelings most.

Yes, of course I know.

But when any sorrow of our own happens to us, then you may observe that wepride ourselves on the opposite quality—we would fain be quiet andpatient; this is the manly part, and the other which delighted us in therecitation 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 whichany 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 anddesire to relieve our sorrow by weeping and lamentation, and that this feelingwhich is kept under control in our own calamities is satisfied and delighted bythe poets;—the better nature in each of us, not having been sufficientlytrained by reason or habit, allows the sympathetic element to break loosebecause the sorrow is another’s; and the spectator fancies that there canbe no disgrace to himself in praising and pitying any one who comes telling himwhat a good man he is, and making a fuss about his troubles; he thinks that thepleasure is a gain, and why should he be supercilious and lose this and thepoem too? Few persons ever reflect, as I should imagine, that from the evil ofother men something of evil is communicated to themselves. And so the feelingof sorrow which has gathered strength at the sight of the misfortunes of othersis with difficulty repressed in our own.

How very true!

And does not the same hold also of the ridiculous? There are jests which youwould be ashamed to make yourself, and yet on the comic stage, or indeed inprivate, when you hear them, you are greatly amused by them, and are not at alldisgusted at their unseemliness;—the case of pity isrepeated;—there is a principle in human nature which is disposed to raisea laugh, and this which you once restrained by reason, because you were afraidof being thought a buffoon, is now let out again; and having stimulated therisible faculty at the theatre, you are betrayed unconsciously to yourself intoplaying the comic poet at home.

Quite true, he said.

And the same may be said of lust and anger and all the other affections, ofdesire and pain and pleasure, which are held to be inseparable from everyaction—in all of them poetry feeds and waters the passions instead ofdrying them up; she lets them rule, although they ought to be controlled, ifmankind are ever to increase in happiness and virtue.

I cannot deny it.

Therefore, Glaucon, I said, whenever you meet with any of the eulogists ofHomer declaring that he has been the educator of Hellas, and that he isprofitable for education and for the ordering of human things, and that youshould take him up again and again and get to know him and regulate your wholelife according to him, we may love and honour those who say thesethings—they are excellent people, as far as their lights extend; and weare ready to acknowledge that Homer is the greatest of poets and first oftragedy writers; but we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to thegods and praises of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admittedinto 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 bycommon consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be therulers in our State.

That is most true, he said.

And now since we have reverted to the subject of poetry, let this our defenceserve to show the reasonableness of our former judgment in sending away out ofour State an art having the tendencies which we have described; for reasonconstrained us. But that she may not impute to us any harshness or want ofpoliteness, let us tell her that there is an ancient quarrel between philosophyand poetry; of which there are many proofs, such as the saying of ‘theyelping hound howling at her lord,’ or of one ‘mighty in the vaintalk of fools,’ and ‘the mob of sages circumventing Zeus,’and the ‘subtle thinkers who are beggars after all’; and there areinnumerable other signs of ancient enmity between them. Notwithstanding this,let us assure our sweet friend and the sister arts of imitation, that if shewill only prove her title to exist in a well-ordered State we shall bedelighted to receive her—we are very conscious of her charms; but we maynot on that account betray the truth. I dare say, Glaucon, that you are as muchcharmed 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 thiscondition only—that she make a defence of herself in lyrical or someother metre?


And we may further grant to those of her defenders who are lovers of poetry andyet not poets the permission to speak in prose on her behalf: let them show notonly that she is pleasant but also useful to States and to human life, and wewill listen in a kindly spirit; for if this can be proved we shall surely bethe gainers—I mean, if there is a use in poetry as well as a delight?

Certainly, he said, we shall be the gainers.

If her defence fails, then, my dear friend, like other persons who areenamoured of something, but put a restraint upon themselves when they thinktheir desires are opposed to their interests, so too must we after the mannerof lovers give her up, though not without a struggle. We too are inspired bythat love of poetry which the education of noble States has implanted in us,and therefore we would have her appear at her best and truest; but so long asshe is unable to make good her defence, this argument of ours shall be a charmto us, which we will repeat to ourselves while we listen to her strains; thatwe may not fall away into the childish love of her which captivates the many.At all events we are well aware that poetry being such as we have described isnot to be regarded seriously as attaining to the truth; and he who listens toher, fearing for the safety of the city which is within him, should be on hisguard 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 thanappears, whether a man is to be good or bad. And what will any one be profitedif under the influence of honour or money or power, aye, or under theexcitement of poetry, he neglect justice and virtue?

Yes, he said; I have been convinced by the argument, as I believe that any oneelse would have been.

And yet no mention has been made of the greatest prizes and rewards which awaitvirtue.

What, are there any greater still? If there are, they must be of aninconceivable 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 thanof 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 reallyprepared to maintain this?

Yes, I said, I ought to be, and you too—there is no difficulty in provingit.

I see a great difficulty; but I should like to hear you state this argument ofwhich 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 elementis the evil, and the saving and improving element the good?


And you admit that every thing has a good and also an evil; as ophthalmia isthe evil of the eyes and disease of the whole body; as mildew is of corn, androt of timber, or rust of copper and iron: in everything, or in almosteverything, there is an inherent evil and disease?

Yes, he said.

And anything which is infected by any of these evils is made evil, and at lastwholly dissolves and dies?


The vice and evil which is inherent in each is the destruction of each; and ifthis does not destroy them there is nothing else that will; for good certainlywill not destroy them, nor again, that which is neither good nor evil.

Certainly not.

If, then, we find any nature which having this inherent corruption cannot bedissolved or destroyed, we may be certain that of such a nature there is nodestruction?

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, ignorance.

But does any of these dissolve or destroy her?—and here do not let usfall into the error of supposing that the unjust and foolish man, when he isdetected, perishes through his own injustice, which is an evil of the soul.Take the analogy of the body: The evil of the body is a disease which wastesand reduces and annihilates the body; and all the things of which we were justnow speaking come to annihilation through their own corruption attaching tothem 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 existsin the soul waste and consume her? Do they by attaching to the soul andinhering 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 fromwithout through affection of external evil which could not be destroyed fromwithin 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, isnot supposed to destroy the body; although, if the badness of food communicatescorruption to the body, then we should say that the body has been destroyed bya corruption of itself, which is disease, brought on by this; but that thebody, being one thing, can be destroyed by the badness of food, which isanother, and which does not engender any natural infection—this we shallabsolutely deny?

Very true.

And, on the same principle, unless some bodily evil can produce an evil of thesoul, we must not suppose that the soul, which is one thing, can be dissolvedby 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 thethroat, or even the cutting up of the whole body into the minutest pieces, candestroy the soul, until she herself is proved to become more unholy orunrighteous in consequence of these things being done to the body; but that thesoul, or anything else if not destroyed by an internal evil, can be destroyedby an external one, is not to be affirmed by any man.

And surely, he replied, no one will ever prove that the souls of men becomemore unjust in consequence of death.

But if some one who would rather not admit the immortality of the soul boldlydenies this, and says that the dying do really become more evil andunrighteous, then, if the speaker is right, I suppose that injustice, likedisease, must be assumed to be fatal to the unjust, and that those who takethis 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 inwhich, at present, the wicked receive death at the hands of others as thepenalty of their deeds?

Nay, he said, in that case injustice, if fatal to the unjust, will not be sovery terrible to him, for he will be delivered from evil. But I rather suspectthe opposite to be the truth, and that injustice which, if it have the power,will murder others, keeps the murderer alive—aye, and well awake too; sofar 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 tokill or destroy her, hardly will that which is appointed to be the destructionof some other body, destroy a soul or anything else except that of which it wasappointed to be the destruction.

Yes, that can hardly be.

But the soul which cannot be destroyed by an evil, whether inherent orexternal, must exist for ever, and if existing for ever, must be immortal?


That is the conclusion, I said; and, if a true conclusion, then the souls mustalways 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 comefrom something mortal, and all things would thus end in immortality.

Very true.

But this we cannot believe—reason will not allow us—any more thanwe can believe the soul, in her truest nature, to be full of variety anddifference and dissimilarity.

What do you mean? he said.

The soul, I said, being, as is now proven, immortal, must be the fairest ofcompositions and cannot be compounded of many elements?

Certainly not.

Her immortality is demonstrated by the previous argument, and there are manyother proofs; but to see her as she really is, not as we now behold her, marredby communion with the body and other miseries, you must contemplate her withthe eye of reason, in her original purity; and then her beauty will berevealed, and justice and injustice and all the things which we have describedwill be manifested more clearly. Thus far, we have spoken the truth concerningher as she appears at present, but we must remember also that we have seen heronly in a condition which may be compared to that of the sea-god Glaucus, whoseoriginal image can hardly be discerned because his natural members are brokenoff and crushed and damaged by the waves in all sorts of ways, andincrustations have grown over them of seaweed and shells and stones, so that heis more like some monster than he is to his own natural form. And the soulwhich we behold is in a similar condition, disfigured by ten thousand ills. Butnot there, Glaucon, not there must we look.

Where then?

At her love of wisdom. Let us see whom she affects, and what society andconverse she seeks in virtue of her near kindred with the immortal and eternaland divine; also how different she would become if wholly following thissuperior principle, and borne by a divine impulse out of the ocean in which shenow is, and disengaged from the stones and shells and things of earth and rockwhich in wild variety spring up around her because she feeds upon earth, and isovergrown by the good things of this life as they are termed: then you wouldsee her as she is, and know whether she have one shape only or many, or whather nature is. Of her affections and of the forms which she takes in thispresent life I think that we have now said enough.

True, he replied.

And thus, I said, we have fulfilled the conditions of the argument; we have notintroduced the rewards and glories of justice, which, as you were saying, areto be found in Homer and Hesiod; but justice in her own nature has been shownto be best for the soul in her own nature. Let a man do what is just, whetherhe have the ring of Gyges or not, and even if in addition to the ring of Gygeshe put on the helmet of Hades.

Very true.

And now, Glaucon, there will be no harm in further enumerating how many and howgreat are the rewards which justice and the other virtues procure to the soulfrom gods and men, both in life and after death.

Certainly not, he said.

Will you repay me, then, what you borrowed in the argument?

What did I borrow?

The assumption that the just man should appear unjust and the unjust just: foryou were of opinion that even if the true state of the case could not possiblyescape the eyes of gods and men, still this admission ought to be made for thesake of the argument, in order that pure justice might be weighed against pureinjustice. 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 theestimation in which she is held by gods and men and which we acknowledge to beher due should now be restored to her by us; since she has been shown to conferreality, and not to deceive those who truly possess her, let what has beentaken from her be given back, that so she may win that palm of appearance whichis 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 willhave to give back—the nature both of the just and unjust is truly knownto the gods.


And if they are both known to them, one must be the friend and the other theenemy of the gods, as we admitted from the beginning?


And the friend of the gods may be supposed to receive from them all things attheir best, excepting only such evil as is the necessary consequence of formersins?


Then this must be our notion of the just man, that even when he is in povertyor sickness, or any other seeming misfortune, all things will in the end worktogether for good to him in life and death: for the gods have a care of any onewhose desire is to become just and to be like God, as far as man can attain thedivine 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 just?

That is my conviction.

And what do they receive of men? Look at things as they really are, and youwill see that the clever unjust are in the case of runners, who run well fromthe starting-place to the goal but not back again from the goal: they go off ata great pace, but in the end only look foolish, slinking away with their earsdraggling on their shoulders, and without a crown; but the true runner comes tothe finish and receives the prize and is crowned. And this is the way with thejust; he who endures to the end of every action and occasion of his entire lifehas 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 blessings which you wereattributing to the fortunate unjust. I shall say of them, what you were sayingof the others, that as they grow older, they become rulers in their own city ifthey care to be; they marry whom they like and give in marriage to whom theywill; all that you said of the others I now say of these. And, on the otherhand, of the unjust I say that the greater number, even though they escape intheir 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 andcitizen; they are beaten and then come those things unfit for ears polite, asyou truly term them; they will be racked and have their eyes burned out, as youwere saying. And you may suppose that I have repeated the remainder of yourtale of horrors. But will you let me assume, without reciting them, that thesethings are true?

Certainly, he said, what you say is true.

These, then, are the prizes and rewards and gifts which are bestowed upon thejust by gods and men in this present life, in addition to the other good thingswhich justice of herself provides.

Yes, he said; and they are fair and lasting.

And yet, I said, all these are as nothing either in number or greatness incomparison with those other recompenses which await both just and unjust afterdeath. And you ought to hear them, and then both just and unjust will havereceived 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 tellsto 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 afterwards, whenthe bodies of the dead were taken up already in a state of corruption, his bodywas found unaffected by decay, and carried away home to be buried. And on thetwelfth day, as he was lying on the funeral pile, he returned to life and toldthem what he had seen in the other world. He said that when his soul left thebody he went on a journey with a great company, and that they came to amysterious place at which there were two openings in the earth; they were neartogether, and over against them were two other openings in the heaven above. Inthe intermediate space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, afterthey had given judgment on them and had bound their sentences in front of them,to ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjustwere bidden by them to descend by the lower way on the left hand; these alsobore the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs. He drew near, andthey told him that he was to be the messenger who would carry the report of theother world to men, and they bade him hear and see all that was to be heard andseen in that place. Then he beheld and saw on one side the souls departing ateither opening of heaven and earth when sentence had been given on them; and atthe two other openings other souls, some ascending out of the earth dusty andworn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright. And arrivingever and anon they seemed to have come from a long journey, and they went forthwith gladness into the meadow, where they encamped as at a festival; and thosewho knew one another embraced and conversed, the souls which came from earthcuriously enquiring about the things above, and the souls which came fromheaven about the things beneath. And they told one another of what had happenedby the way, those from below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of thethings which they had endured and seen in their journey beneath the earth (nowthe journey lasted a thousand years), while those from above were describingheavenly delights and visions of inconceivable beauty. The story, Glaucon,would take too long to tell; but the sum was this:—He said that for everywrong which they had done to any one they suffered tenfold; or once in ahundred years—such being reckoned to be the length of man’s life,and the penalty being thus paid ten times in a thousand years. If, for example,there were any who had been the cause of many deaths, or had betrayed orenslaved cities or armies, or been guilty of any other evil behaviour, for eachand all of their offences they received punishment ten times over, and therewards of beneficence and justice and holiness were in the same proportion. Ineed hardly repeat what he said concerning young children dying almost as soonas 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 mentionedthat he was present when one of the spirits asked another, ‘Where isArdiaeus the Great?’ (Now this Ardiaeus lived a thousand years before thetime of Er: he had been the tyrant of some city of Pamphylia, and had murderedhis aged father and his elder brother, and was said to have committed manyother abominable crimes.) The answer of the other spirit was: ‘He comesnot hither and will never come. And this,’ said he, ‘was one of thedreadful sights which we ourselves witnessed. We were at the mouth of thecavern, and, having completed all our experiences, were about to reascend, whenof a sudden Ardiaeus appeared and several others, most of whom were tyrants;and there were also besides the tyrants private individuals who had been greatcriminals: they were just, as they fancied, about to return into the upperworld, but the mouth, instead of admitting them, gave a roar, whenever any ofthese incurable sinners or some one who had not been sufficiently punishedtried to ascend; and then wild men of fiery aspect, who were standing by andheard the sound, seized and carried them off; and Ardiaeus and others theybound head and foot and hand, and threw them down and flayed them withscourges, and dragged them along the road at the side, carding them on thornslike wool, and declaring to the passers-by what were their crimes, and thatthey were being taken away to be cast into hell.’ And of all the manyterrors which they had endured, he said that there was none like the terrorwhich each of them felt at that moment, lest they should hear the voice; andwhen there was silence, one by one they ascended with exceeding joy. These,said Er, were the penalties and retributions, and there were blessings asgreat.

Now when the spirits which were in the meadow had tarried seven days, on theeighth they were obliged to proceed on their journey, and, on the fourth dayafter, he said that they came to a place where they could see from above a lineof light, straight as a column, extending right through the whole heaven andthrough the earth, in colour resembling the rainbow, only brighter and purer;another day’s journey brought them to the place, and there, in the midstof 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 theuniverse, like the under-girders of a trireme. From these ends is extended thespindle of Necessity, on which all the revolutions turn. The shaft and hook ofthis spindle are made of steel, and the whorl is made partly of steel and alsopartly of other materials. Now the whorl is in form like the whorl used onearth; and the description of it implied that there is one large hollow whorlwhich is quite scooped out, and into this is fitted another lesser one, andanother, and another, and four others, making eight in all, like vessels whichfit into one another; the whorls show their edges on the upper side, and ontheir lower side all together form one continuous whorl. This is pierced by thespindle, which is driven home through the centre of the eighth. The first andoutermost 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, thefourth next to the sixth; then comes the eighth; the seventh is fifth, thefifth is sixth, the third is seventh, last and eighth comes the second. Thelargest (or fixed stars) is spangled, and the seventh (or sun) is brightest;the eighth (or moon) coloured by the reflected light of the seventh; the secondand fifth (Saturn and Mercury) are in colour like one another, and yellowerthan the preceding; the third (Venus) has the whitest light; the fourth (Mars)is reddish; the sixth (Jupiter) is in whiteness second. Now the whole spindlehas the same motion; but, as the whole revolves in one direction, the seveninner circles move slowly in the other, and of these the swiftest is theeighth; next in swiftness are the seventh, sixth, and fifth, which movetogether; third in swiftness appeared to move according to the law of thisreversed motion the fourth; the third appeared fourth and the second fifth. Thespindle turns on the knees of Necessity; and on the upper surface of eachcircle is a siren, who goes round with them, hymning a single tone or note. Theeight together form one harmony; and round about, at equal intervals, there isanother band, three in number, each sitting upon her throne: these are theFates, daughters of Necessity, who are clothed in white robes and have chapletsupon their heads, Lachesis and Clotho and Atropos, who accompany with theirvoices the harmony of the sirens—Lachesis singing of the past, Clotho ofthe present, Atropos of the future; Clotho from time to time assisting with atouch of her right hand the revolution of the outer circle of the whorl orspindle, 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 withthe other.

When Er and the spirits arrived, their duty was to go at once to Lachesis; butfirst of all there came a prophet who arranged them in order; then he took fromthe knees of Lachesis lots and samples of lives, and having mounted a highpulpit, spoke as follows: ‘Hear the word of Lachesis, the daughter ofNecessity. Mortal souls, behold a new cycle of life and mortality. Your geniuswill not be allotted to you, but you will choose your genius; and let him whodraws the first lot have the first choice, and the life which he chooses shallbe his destiny. Virtue is free, and as a man honours or dishonours her he willhave more or less of her; the responsibility is with the chooser—God isjustified.’ When the Interpreter had thus spoken he scattered lotsindifferently among them all, and each of them took up the lot which fell nearhim, all but Er himself (he was not allowed), and each as he took his lotperceived the number which he had obtained. Then the Interpreter placed on theground before them the samples of lives; and there were many more lives thanthe souls present, and they were of all sorts. There were lives of every animaland of man in every condition. And there were tyrannies among them, somelasting out the tyrant’s life, others which broke off in the middle andcame to an end in poverty and exile and beggary; and there were lives of famousmen, some who were famous for their form and beauty as well as for theirstrength and success in games, or, again, for their birth and the qualities oftheir ancestors; and some who were the reverse of famous for the oppositequalities. And of women likewise; there was not, however, any definitecharacter in them, because the soul, when choosing a new life, must ofnecessity become different. But there was every other quality, and the allmingled with one another, and also with elements of wealth and poverty, anddisease 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 shouldbe taken. Let each one of us leave every other kind of knowledge and seek andfollow one thing only, if peradventure he may be able to learn and may findsome one who will make him able to learn and discern between good and evil, andso to choose always and everywhere the better life as he has opportunity. Heshould consider the bearing of all these things which have been mentionedseverally and collectively upon virtue; he should know what the effect ofbeauty is when combined with poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and whatare the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth, of private andpublic station, of strength and weakness, of cleverness and dullness, and ofall the natural and acquired gifts of the soul, and the operation of them whenconjoined; he will then look at the nature of the soul, and from theconsideration of all these qualities he will be able to determine which is thebetter and which is the worse; and so he will choose, giving the name of evilto the life which will make his soul more unjust, and good to the life whichwill make his soul more just; all else he will disregard. For we have seen andknow that this is the best choice both in life and after death. A man must takewith him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth and right, thatthere too he may be undazzled by the desire of wealth or the other allurementsof evil, lest, coming upon tyrannies and similar villainies, he do irremediablewrongs to others and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choosethe mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible, not only inthis 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 whatthe prophet said at the time: ‘Even for the last comer, if he chooseswisely and will live diligently, there is appointed a happy and not undesirableexistence. Let not him who chooses first be careless, and let not the lastdespair.’ And when he had spoken, he who had the first choice cameforward and in a moment chose the greatest tyranny; his mind having beendarkened by folly and sensuality, he had not thought out the whole matterbefore he chose, and did not at first sight perceive that he was fated, amongother evils, to devour his own children. But when he had time to reflect, andsaw what was in the lot, he began to beat his breast and lament over hischoice, forgetting the proclamation of the prophet; for, instead of throwingthe blame of his misfortune on himself, he accused chance and the gods, andeverything 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 amatter of habit only, and he had no philosophy. And it was true of others whowere similarly overtaken, that the greater number of them came from heaven andtherefore they had never been schooled by trial, whereas the pilgrims who camefrom earth having themselves suffered and seen others suffer, were not in ahurry to choose. And owing to this inexperience of theirs, and also because thelot was a chance, many of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or anevil for a good. For if a man had always on his arrival in this world dedicatedhimself from the first to sound philosophy, and had been moderately fortunatein 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 roughand underground, would be smooth and heavenly. Most curious, he said, was thespectacle—sad and laughable and strange; for the choice of the souls wasin most cases based on their experience of a previous life. There he saw thesoul which had once been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of enmity tothe race of women, hating to be born of a woman because they had been hismurderers; he beheld also the soul of Thamyras choosing the life of anightingale; birds, on the other hand, like the swan and other musicians,wanting to be men. The soul which obtained the twentieth lot chose the life ofa lion, and this was the soul of Ajax the son of Telamon, who would not be aman, remembering the injustice which was done him in the judgment about thearms. The next was Agamemnon, who took the life of an eagle, because, likeAjax, he hated human nature by reason of his sufferings. About the middle camethe lot of Atalanta; she, seeing the great fame of an athlete, was unable toresist the temptation: and after her there followed the soul of Epeus the sonof Panopeus passing into the nature of a woman cunning in the arts; and faraway among the last who chose, the soul of the jester Thersites was putting onthe form of a monkey. There came also the soul of Odysseus having yet to make achoice, and his lot happened to be the last of them all. Now the recollectionof former toils had disenchanted him of ambition, and he went about for aconsiderable time in search of the life of a private man who had no cares; hehad some difficulty in finding this, which was lying about and had beenneglected by everybody else; and when he saw it, he said that he would havedone the same had his lot been first instead of last, and that he was delightedto have it. And not only did men pass into animals, but I must also mentionthat there were animals tame and wild who changed into one another and intocorresponding human natures—the good into the gentle and the evil intothe savage, in all sorts of combinations.

All the souls had now chosen their lives, and they went in the order of theirchoice to Lachesis, who sent with them the genius whom they had severallychosen, to be the guardian of their lives and the fulfiller of the choice: thisgenius led the souls first to Clotho, and drew them within the revolution ofthe 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 threadsand made them irreversible, whence without turning round they passed beneaththe throne of Necessity; and when they had all passed, they marched on in ascorching heat to the plain of Forgetfulness, which was a barren wastedestitute of trees and verdure; and then towards evening they encamped by theriver of Unmindfulness, whose water no vessel can hold; of this they were allobliged to drink a certain quantity, and those who were not saved by wisdomdrank more than was necessary; and each one as he drank forgot all things. Nowafter they had gone to rest, about the middle of the night there was athunderstorm and earthquake, and then in an instant they were driven upwards inall manner of ways to their birth, like stars shooting. He himself was hinderedfrom drinking the water. But in what manner or by what means he returned to thebody he could not say; only, in the morning, awaking suddenly, he found himselflying on the pyre.

And thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved and has not perished, and will saveus if we are obedient to the word spoken; and we shall pass safely over theriver of Forgetfulness and our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counselis, that we hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice andvirtue always, considering that the soul is immortal and able to endure everysort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall we live dear to one another andto the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the gameswho go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well withus both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years which we havebeen describing.