The Dialogues of Plato — Translation by David Horan


Plato’s Republic

Book 1

Persons in the dialogue: Socrates, Glaucon, Adeimantus, Polemarchus, Cephalus, Thrasymachus, Cleitophon, and others

327A I went down yesterday to the Peiraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston to offer my prayers to the goddess, and also because I wanted to see how they would conduct the festival, since they were celebrating it for the first time. Now although I thought the procession of the local people was beautiful indeed, the one that the Thracians 327B put on seemed to suit the occasion just as well. Having offered our prayers and seen what we had come to see, we departed for the city. Then, as we were heading homewards, Polemarchus the son of Cephalus, ordered his slave to run after us and order us to wait, and once the slave had caught hold of my cloak, from behind, he said; Polemarchus is ordering you to wait. So I turned around and asked where the man himself was.

He’s coming up behind me, he replied; just wait.

Wait we will, said Glaucon.

327C And a little later, Polemarchus arrived with Glaucon’s brother, Adeimantus, Niceratus the son of Nicias, and some others, apparently coming from the procession.

Then Polemarchus said; Socrates, I assume you two are heading back to the city, and leaving us.

Not a bad assumption, said I.

Well, said he, do you see how many of us there are?

Of course I do.

Then, said he, you should either grow stronger than all of these men, or stay here.

Isn’t there another option? said I. Couldn’t we persuade you that you should let us leave?

And would you be able to persuade us, said he, if we were not listening to you?

Not at all, replied Glaucon.

Then you should presume that we won’t listen.

328A And Adeimantus said; well, don’t you know that towards evening, there will be a torch race, on horseback, in honour of the goddess.

On horseback, said I, that’s novel. Will they carry torches, and pass them to one another whilst racing their horses? Is this what you mean?

That’s it, said Polemarchus. And what’s more, they will be performing an all-night festival that will be worth seeing. Yes, we are going to go out after supper and watch the night-festival, and there will be lots of young people with us, there, and lots of conversation too. So stay; 328B you really must.

And Glaucon said; it seems we should stay.

Well if that’s how it seems, said I; that is what we must do.

So we went to Polemarchus’ house, and there we met Polemarchus’ brothers, Lysias and Euthydemus, and indeed Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, Charmantides the Paenian, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. Polemarchus’ father Cephalus was also in there, and he seemed very old to me, as it was, indeed, some time since I had seen him. He was seated upon a sort of cushion-seat, with his head in garlands because he had just performed a sacrifice in the courtyard. So we sat down beside him, since some seats were arranged there, in a circle.

Now as soon as Cephalus saw me he greeted me and said; Socrates, you don’t often come down to the Peiraeus to see us; but you should. Yes, if I were still able to make my way, 328D easily to the city, there would be no need for you to come here, since we could go to you; but nowadays you should come here more frequently. Since I must say that for me at least, as the other pleasures, the bodily ones, lose their intensity, the desires and pleasures associated with discussions increase all the more. So, you must do this; be a companion to these young men and visit us, here, frequently, as though we were your friends and closest kin.

Very well, Cephalus, said I, indeed I enjoy conversing with people who are very 328E old. I think we need to learn from them, as though they had traversed a road on which we too will surely have to proceed; what is it like? Is it rough and difficult, or is it easy and smooth? What’s more, I would love to find out, from you, how you see this, since you are already at the time of life that the poets call “old age’s threshold”; is life difficult, or how do you describe it?

329A I’ll tell you, by Zeus, Socrates, said he, how it looks to me. Yes, men of our age, we often gather together maintaining the old proverb; like to like. Now when we gather, most of us moan, as we long for the lost pleasures of youth, and reminisce about love-making, drinking parties and feasts, and whatever goes along with this sort of thing, and we get distressed as though we had been deprived of something important; that we lived well then, but are not even alive 329B now. Some bewail the contemptuous treatment of old age by their own kinfolk, and so they go on about the amount of trouble old age causes them. But I think, Socrates, that these people are blaming the wrong cause. For, if this were the cause, I would also have been affected in the very same way, as far as old age is concerned, and so would everyone else who had reached this stage of life. But I have already met others who are not in this predicament, and indeed when someone asked the poet, Sophocles, in my presence: how are you getting on, Sophocles 329C when it comes to making love? Are you still able to have intercourse with a woman? And he replied: “mind what you say, my man, I am glad beyond measure, to have escaped this; it’s like escaping from a raving and savage slave master”. I thought at the time, that he expressed this quite well and I still think so now. For all in all, with old age comes a lot of peace, and a freedom from this sort of thing. When the desires cease their strain, and relax, 329D what Sophocles described really does come to pass; it is a release from a whole host of maniacal slave masters. But in these situations, and in the case of problems with family members, there is only one explanation, and it is not old age, Socrates, but the manner of the people. If they are orderly and contented, then old age is wearisome, but in measure; if not, then for someone of this sort, old age, Socrates, and youth too, turn out to be difficult.

Well I was delighted with him for saying all this and, because I wanted him to say 329E more, I drew him out by asking: Cephalus, I think that when you say this, most people don’t accept your answer; they think, rather, that you bear your old age with ease, not because of your manner, but because you have acquired a lot of wealth, for they say that wealthy people have consolation in abundance.

What you say is true, said he, and they do have a point, but not as much as they imagine. Yet the response of Themistocles puts this nicely. He was being reviled by a man from Seriphos who said that Themistocles was not well regarded because of himself, 330A but because of his city. He replied that he himself would not have become famous had he been from Seriphos, nor would that other man, had he been from Athens. And the same argument applies to those who are not wealthy and bear old age with difficulty: a reasonable man would not bear old age, accompanied by poverty, with much ease, nor would an unreasonable man who had become wealthy ever become content with himself.

Cephalus, said I, did you inherit most of what you have, or did you acquire it yourself?

330B Are you asking what I have acquired, Socrates? As a money-maker, I’m sort of midway between my grandfather and my father. For my grandfather, whose name I bear, having inherited about as much wealth as I have now acquired, made many times as much as this again. Then my own father, Lysanias, reduced the wealth below its present value, while I would be pleased if I could leave just as much as I inherited, to these lads here, and a little more besides.

The reason I ask, said I, is because you do not seem to be extremely fond 330C of money, and this is, in general, the case with those who have not acquired the money themselves, while those who have acquired it are twice as attached to it as anyone else. Indeed just as poets are fond of their own poems, and fathers of their sons, those who make money are serious about money in the same way; seeing it as a production of their own, and also, like everyone else, because of its usefulness. So they are difficult people to be with, since they are not prepared to speak positively of anything, except wealth.

That’s true, he said.

330D It certainly is, said I. But tell me something else; what do you think is the greatest good you have enjoyed from the acquisition of so much wealth?

What I say, he replied, would probably not persuade many people. For, mark my words, Socrates, said he, once someone begins to think he is about to die, fears and concerns occur to him about issues that had not occurred to him previously. For the stories told about people in Hades, that someone who has acted unjustly whilst here, must pay a penalty when he arrives there, stories that were laughable 330E before then, torment his soul at that stage, for fear they might be true. And he himself, either on account of weakness born of old age, or because of being, in a sense, already closer to whatever is there, has a better view of this, and so he becomes full of foreboding and fear, and he then starts thinking about this, and considering whether he has done any injustice to anyone. Someone who discovers that he himself has done a lot of injustice during his life, often awakens from sleep, terrified, like a child, and he lives his life in 331A anticipation of evil. While, to someone who is aware, in himself, of nothing unjust, a pleasant, good anticipation is ever present; a nurse in his old age, as Pindar says. Yes, Socrates, the poet expressed this in a delightful manner, explaining that for someone who has spent his life in justice and holiness:

Sweet anticipation accompanies him

Fostering his heart, a nurse in his old age

Chief ruler of mortal thought

With its many twists and turns.

He puts it so well; truly wonderful. So, in this respect, I propose that the acquisition of money is most worthwhile, not for everybody, 331B but for the reasonable man. Indeed the possession of wealth has a major role to play in ensuring that one does not cheat or deceive someone, intentionally, or again, depart to that other world in fear, because some sacrifices are still owed to a god, or some money to another person. Now it also has many other uses, and yet, setting one against the other, I would propose, Socrates, that this is not the least significant purpose for which wealth is most useful, to a man of intelligence.

331C That is most beautifully expressed, Cephalus, said I, but this thing itself, justice, shall we say, without qualification, that it is truthfulness, and giving back what has been taken from someone else? Or can these very actions sometimes be performed justly and sometimes unjustly? For instance, if someone took weapons from a friend when the man was of sound mind, and he then went mad and asked for them back, everyone would, presumably, agree that one should not give them back, and that the person returning them would not be just, nor again, would the person who was prepared to speak the entire truth to someone in such a condition, be just either.

331D That’s right, said he.

So this is not a definition of justice; to speak the truth and give back what one has taken.

It certainly is, said Polemarchus, interrupting; at least if we are to believe Simonides.

Yes, indeed, said Cephalus, I’m now handing the argument over to you, since it is time for me to look after the rituals.

Am I not the inheritor of whatever is yours, in any case? said Polemarchus.

You certainly are, he said, with a laugh, and with that he left for the rituals.

331E Then tell me, said I, you inheritor of the argument, what, according to you, does Simonides say about justice, and rightly so?

That it is just, said he, to give back what is owed, to each person. In saying this he is, in my view, expressing it nicely.

Well, said I, it certainly isn’t easy to disbelieve Simonides, for he is a wise and divine man. But although you probably appreciate what precisely this is saying, I do not understand it. For this is obviously not speaking of what we were describing earlier; giving back 332A something that has been deposited, to anyone at all who is not of sound mind when he asks for it. Although what has been deposited is presumably owed; is this so?


Yet it should not be given back, under any circumstances, when someone of unsound mind asks for it.

True, said he.

Then when Simonides says that giving back what is owed is just, he is not referring to this sort of thing, but to something else.

Something else indeed, by Zeus, said he, for he thinks that what friends owe to friends is to do them some good, and nothing bad.

I understand, said I; whoever gives 332B gold back to someone who deposited it, is not giving back what is owed, if the giving back or the taking, turns out to be harmful, and the one who hands it over, and the one who gives it back are friends. Is this what Simonides means, according to you?

Yes, certainly.

What about enemies? Should we give back whatever happens to be owed to them?

Entirely so, he replied; whatever is owed to them. And what’s owed from one enemy to another one, and what’s appropriate too, is some bad.

In that case, said I, it seems Simonides was speaking in riddles, as poets do, 332C when he spoke of what is just. For, apparently, he had in mind that what’s just is this, “giving back what is appropriate, to each”, but he gave the name “what is owed” to this.

What else do you think? said he.

By Zeus, said I, if someone had asked him: “Simonides, the skill called medicine is one that gives back: but what is owed and appropriate, and to what does it give this?” What answer do you think he would have given us?

Obviously, said he, it is the skill that gives medicine, food and drink to bodies.

What about the skill called cookery? What is owed and appropriate, and to what does it give this?

332D It is the one that gives seasoning to dishes.

Very well, and the skill that could be called justice gives what to what?

Socrates, said he, if we are to adhere, at all, to what we said earlier, it is the skill that gives benefit back to friends and harm back to enemies.

So is he saying that justice is doing good to friends and bad to enemies?

I think so.

When it comes to disease and health, who is most capable of doing good to friends and harm to enemies, who are sick?

The physician.

332E And who is most capable of doing so to those who are sailing, and facing the danger of the sea?

A ship’s pilot.

And what about the just man? In what activity, or in relation to what task, is he most capable of benefitting friends and harming enemies?

In waging war and in forming alliances, in my opinion, at least.

Very well. Now to those who are not sick, dear Polemarchus, a physician is of no use.


And a ship’s pilot is of no use to those who are not sailing.


So a just man too is of no use to those who are not waging war.

That’s not really how it seems to me.

333A Then justice is also useful in time of peace?

Yes, it’s useful.

And so is farming, isn’t it?


For providing us with the fruits of the earth?


And so too is shoe-making.


For providing us with shoes: I presume that’s what you would say?

Entirely so.

And what about justice? What would you say it is useful for in time of peace? For the use of, or the acquisition of, what?

For contractual arrangements, Socrates.

And by contractual arrangements, do you mean partnerships, or something else?

Yes, partnerships, indeed.

333B Well is the just man also a good and useful partner when it comes to placing draughts on a board, or is it the draughts-player?

It’s the draughts-player.

But when it comes to the placement of bricks and stones, is the just man a more useful and better partner than the house-builder?

Not at all.

Well in what sort of partnership is the just man a better partner than the harpist, in the same way that the harpist is a better partner than the just man, when it comes to striking the strings?

Well, in my opinion, it’s when it comes to money.

Except perhaps when 333C it comes to spending the money, Polemarchus; when it is necessary, in partnership, to buy or sell a horse, then I presume, a horse-trainer is better. Is this so?


And when it’s a ship, a shipwright or ship’s pilot is better.

So it seems.

So when is the just man more useful than others? When the silver or gold is to be used in partnership for what purpose?

When it is to be placed on deposit and kept safe, Socrates.

Do you mean when no use is to be made of it, and it is to lie idle?

Entirely so.

So when money is not used, that’s when justice 333D is useful to it?

Quite likely.

And when a pruning hook is to be guarded, justice is useful both in partnership and privately, but when it is to be used, the skill of the vine-dresser is useful.


Will you also say that when a shield or a lyre are to be guarded, and not used, justice is useful, but when they are to be used, military or musical skill is useful.

It must be so.

And indeed, in all other cases, is justice of no use when it comes to using each of them, and is it useful when not using them?

Quite likely.

333E Well my friend, justice would not really be of any great consequence, if it turned out to be useful only for things that are not being used. But we should also consider the following: consider the person who is most skilled at landing a blow in a fight, whether in a boxing match or in any other situation, isn’t he also the one who is most skilled at guarding against a blow?

Entirely so.

And is someone who is skilled in guarding against disease, also the one who is most skilled at engendering it without being noticed?

Well, I think so.

334A Then again, if someone is a good guardian of an army, is the same person also good at stealing the enemy’s plans and manoeuvres?

Entirely so.

Then someone who is a skilled guardian of something, is also a skilled thief of that.

So it seems.

So if the just man is clever at guarding money, he will be clever at stealing it too.

That’s what this argument indicates, at any rate, said he.

Then it seems the just man has turned out to be a kind of thief, and it is quite likely that you learned this from Homer. In fact he admires Odysseus’ 334B maternal grandfather, Autolycus, and says he surpassed all of humanity in theft and in perjury. So it seems that justice, according to yourself, Homer, and Simonides, is a kind of theft, although it is for the benefit of friends and to the detriment of enemies. Isn’t this what you meant?

No, by Zeus, he said, in fact I no longer know what I meant. And yet, I am still of the opinion that justice benefits friends, and harms enemies.

334C And by someone’s friends, do you mean those who seem, to that person, to be worthy people, or those who actually are so, even though they don’t seem so? And does the same apply to enemies?

Well someone is likely to be friendly towards people he believes to be worthy, and to hate those he believes to be bad.

Now don’t people make mistakes about this, so that lots of people seem to them to be worthy, when they are not, and vice versa?

Yes, they make mistakes.

So, to those who make mistakes, are the good people their enemies, while the bad people are their friends?

Entirely so.

But in that case, is it just, nevertheless, for them to benefit the bad people, and to harm the good people?

Apparently so.

334D And yet, those who are good are just, and are not the sort of people to act unjustly.


Then according to your argument, it is just to act badly towards those who do no injustice.

Not at all, Socrates, said he, indeed the argument seems to be a bad one.

In that case, said I, is it just to harm those who are unjust and to benefit those who are just?

This sounds better than that other conclusion.

So, Polemarchus, in the many cases where people make mistakes 334E about their fellow men, it will turn out that it is just to harm their friends, for they have bad friends, and on the other hand, to benefit their enemies, for their enemies are good. And so we shall be saying the exact opposite of what we said Simonides is saying.

Very much so, said he, that’s how it turns out. But let’s make a change, since it’s quite likely that we have not defined friend and enemy correctly.

In what way, Polemarchus?

In saying that someone who seems worthy is a friend.

And how should we change this now? I asked.

Someone who seems to be, and actually is worthy, is a friend. But someone who seems to be 335A worthy but is not so, seems to be a friend but is not a friend. And we should make the same proposal in relation to an enemy.

Then, by this argument, it seems, the good person will be a friend, and the bad person an enemy.


Are you asking us to make an addition to our account of what is just? At first we said it was just, to do good to a friend and bad to an enemy, but you are now asking us to add to this, and say that it is just, to do good to a friend who is good, and harm to an enemy who is bad?

335B Yes, certainly, he said, I think that would be a very nice way to express it.

Now, said I, is it the part of a just man to harm any person at all?

Yes, certainly, said he, he should harm those who are bad and who are enemies too.

But when horses are harmed, do they become better or worse?


And is this in relation to the excellence that belongs to dogs, or to horses?

In relation to the excellence that belongs to horses.

And when dogs too are harmed, don’t they become worse, in the excellence that belongs to dogs, and not in the excellence that belongs to horses?


335C And accordingly, my friend, shouldn’t we say that when human beings are harmed, they become worse in terms of human excellence?

Yes, certainly.

And isn’t justice, human excellence?

This too is necessarily so.

And in that case, human beings who are harmed, necessarily become more unjust.

So it seems.

Now are musicians able to make people unmusical, by their musicianship?


Is it possible for horsemen to turn people into non-horsemen, by their horsemanship?

It is not.

Well then, can the just men make people unjust, by means of their justice? 335D Or, in short, can the good people make people bad, by means of their excellence?

No, that’s impossible.

Indeed it is not the function of heat, but of its opposite, to cool things down.


Nor is it the function of dryness, but of its opposite, to moisten things.

Entirely so.

Nor is it the function of good, but of its opposite, to do harm.


And the just man is good.

Entirely so.

So it is not the function of the just person to harm either a friend, or anyone else, Polemarchus; no, that is the function of his opposite, the unjust person.

335E I think you’re speaking the truth, Socrates, said he; entirely so.

So if someone maintains that it is just to give back what is owed, to each, and by this he means that harm is owed to enemies by the just man, and benefit is owed to friends, the person saying this was not wise, for he did not speak the truth, since it has become evident to us that there are no circumstances where it is just to harm anyone.

I concur, said he.

Then you and I shall do battle, said I, in partnership, if anyone maintains that Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any other wise and blessed man, has said so.

Well I am ready, said he, to be your partner in the battle.

336A But, do you know whose maxim this is, in my opinion; the one that maintains that it is just to benefit ones friends and harm ones enemies?

Whose? He asked.

I think it‘s a maxim of Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban, or some other rich man who thinks he has great power.

What you say is very true, said he.

Very well, said I. But since it has become evident that this is not justice, or what is just, what else might someone say that it is?

336B Now even while we were conversing, Thrasymachus made several efforts to get involved in the discussion, but he was prevented from doing so by the people sitting beside him, who wanted to hear the discussion. But as we had paused, and I had asked this question, he held his peace no longer. Gathering himself up like a wild beast, he came at us as though he would tear us to pieces. Polemarchus and I were panic-stricken with fear, as he roared out, in our midst; what’s this nonsense, said he, 336C that has taken hold of you for so long, Socrates? And why are you both fooling around and giving way to one another? Yes, if you really want to know what it is that’s just, don’t just ask questions, or try your best to refute someone when they give you an answer, knowing full well that it is easier to ask questions than to answer them. Answer the question yourself, and say what it is that is just, according to you. And don’t tell me 336D that it’s “what is needed”, or “what is beneficial”, or “profitable”, or “expedient”, or “advantageous”. Just tell me, clearly and precisely, what you mean, as I won’t accept your answer if you propose this sort of nonsense.

Now when I heard him I was shocked, and looking at him in terror, I thought that if I had not seen him before he saw me, I would have been struck dumb. But, as it happened, once the argument had begun to make him mad, I looked at him first, and so I was able to answer him, 336E and I said, with a slight tremble in my voice; Thrasymachus, don’t be so harsh with us, for if we are making mistakes in considering the argument, myself and this man here, rest assured that our mistakes are unintentional. If we were searching for gold, we would never give way to one another, deliberately, in the search, and ruin our chances of finding it. So you certainly shouldn’t presume that in searching for justice, something more precious than a lot of gold, we would, then, give way to one another in this mindless manner, and not be serious about bringing it fully to light. Don’t make that presumption, my friend. No, in my opinion we lack the ability, 337A so it is surely far more reasonable that you clever people have mercy on us, rather than being harsh.

And when he heard this he broke into scornful laughter, and said; by Heracles, said he, there it is, the familiar irony of Socrates. Indeed, I predicted this already; yes, I told these people that you would not be willing to answer questions, and would speak ironically, and do anything rather than answer the question someone asked you.

You are indeed wise, Thrasymachus, said I. So you knew full well that if you were to ask someone 337B how much twelve is, and if you were to introduce your question by saying to him: “Don’t tell me, my man, that twelve is twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or that it’s four times three, because I won’t accept your answer, if you talk such nonsense as this.” I am sure it is obvious to you that no one could answer your question if you were to put it like that. But what if he responded; “Thrasymachus, what are you saying? Can’t I give a single one of the answers you mentioned? That’s amazing! Even if one of them happens to be the answer, should I say something different, something that is not true? 337C Or what do you mean?” What would you say to him in reply?

Well, well, said he, so this is like that question of mine!

There’s no reason why not, said I, but even if it isn’t like that but it seems like that to the person you are questioning, don’t you think he is likely, nonetheless, to answer based on how it appears to him, whether we are prohibiting these responses or whether we are not?

Is that what you are going to do now? he said. Will you give one of those answers that I prohibited?

I wouldn’t be surprised, said I, if that’s how it seemed to me, once I had considered the matter.

337D And what if I should present a different answer about justice, besides these, and better than all of them? What fate would you deserve?

The fate that is appropriate to someone who does not know, said I, there’s no alternative. And presumably it is appropriate that he learn from someone who knows; so this is the fate I deserve to suffer.

How sweet you are, said he. But as well as learning, you should also pay a fee.

Yes, when I have the money, said I.

You have it, said Glaucon. If money is an issue, speak on Thrasymachus, since we’ll all pay for Socrates.

337E Yes, I’m quite sure you will, said he, so that Socrates may arrange things, as usual; he doesn’t answer questions himself, and when someone else answers, he takes hold of an argument and refutes them.

Best of men, said I, how could someone give answers when, in the first place, he does not know, nor does he claim to know, and secondly, even if he does have some thoughts on the matter, he is prohibited from saying what he believes by a man of no mean status? No, it is more reasonable 308A that you speak, since you actually claim to know, and to be able to express what you know. So you really must do this; gratify me by answering the question; don’t hold back, and instruct Glaucon here, and the others too.

Once I had said all this, Glaucon and the others implored him to do what I had asked him to do, and Thrasymachus was obviously eager to speak, in order to impress people, since he thought he had a really good answer, but he pretended to be keen that I be the one to answer the question. 338B He finally gave his assent and then, he said: there is the wisdom of Socrates; although he himself does not want to teach, he goes about, learning from others and he doesn’t even thank them.

What you are saying is true, Thrasymachus, said I; I do learn from others. But when you say I don’t give thanks; that’s not true, for I give as much as I am able to give. But, since I do not have money, I am only able to give praise, and once you give your answer 338C you will know full well, there and then, just how eagerly I praise someone who seems to me to speak well, since I believe you will speak well.

Then listen, said he. Indeed I maintain that what is just is nothing else but the “advantage of the stronger”. Well, why don’t you praise me? You just don’t want to.

I should understand what you are saying, first, said I. At the moment I still do not know what you mean. You maintain that the advantage of the stronger is just. But what exactly do you mean by this, Thrasymachus? For presumably you are not maintaining that if Polydamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are, and it is to his advantage to eat beef, for his body, then, this food is 338D also advantageous for us weaker folk, and just too.

You are loathsome, indeed, Socrates, said he, and you are interpreting the argument in a sense that does it the most damage.

Not at all, best of men, said I, just explain what you mean with greater clarity.

Don’t you know, said he, that some cities are governed as tyrannies, some as democracies, others as aristocracies?

Of course.

And whatever rules in each city exercises power?

Entirely so.

338E And each ruling group institutes the laws, to its own advantage; democratic laws in the case of a democracy, tyrannical laws in the case of a tyranny, and so on. Having instituted them, they then proclaim that this, what’s advantageous to themselves, is just for those over whom they rule, and so they punish those who go against this, as law-breakers, who are acting unjustly. So this, best of men, is what I say is just; it’s the same in all cities; 339A the advantage of the established ruling group. This, presumably, holds power and it follows, if one reasons correctly, that what’s just is the same everywhere; the advantage of the stronger.

I now understand what you are saying, said I, and I shall attempt to understand whether it is true or not. So, Thrasymachus, you too have answered that what’s advantageous is what’s just, even though you prohibited me from giving this answer, 339B and yet, the words “for the stronger” were added on to it.

Yes, a minor addition, perhaps, said he.

It is not yet clear whether it is significant or minor, but it is clear that we should consider whether or not you are speaking the truth. Now since I too accept that what’s just is something advantageous, but you make an addition, and say it is the advantage of the stronger, while I don’t know, consider it we must.

Consider it then, said he.

That is what I shall do, said I. Tell me then; don’t you maintain that it is just to obey those who rule?

Yes, I do.

339C And are the rulers of each city unerring, or are they also capable of making some mistakes?

Absolutely, said he, they are also quite capable of making some mistakes.

So as they set about instituting the laws, won’t they institute some laws correctly, others incorrectly?

Yes, I think so.

And what is instituted correctly is to their own advantage, and what is instituted incorrectly is to their disadvantage, is this what you are saying?

Just so.

But whatever they institute must be enacted by those over whom they rule, and this is what is just?

Of course.

339D Then, according to your argument, it is just not only to enact what is advantageous for the stronger, but what is disadvantageous too.

What are you saying? he replied.

What you are saying, I think, but let’s take a better look. Hasn’t it been agreed that when the rulers are directing their subjects to enact something, they sometimes make mistakes about what’s best for themselves, yet, it is just for the subjects to enact whatever the rulers order? Hasn’t this been agreed?

Yes, I think so, said he.

339E Then you must suppose that you also accept that it is just to do what is disadvantageous to those who rule and are stronger, whenever the rulers unintentionally direct what is bad for themselves, since you maintain that it is just for the others to enact what the rulers have directed. So in that case, wisest Thrasymachus, doesn’t it necessarily follow that it is just to do the very opposite of what you are saying? For the weaker have surely been directed to enact what is disadvantageous to the stronger.

340A Yes, by Zeus, Socrates, said Polemarchus, nothing could be clearer.

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

Why is there need of a witness? said he. Indeed Thrasymachus himself accepts that although the rulers sometimes direct what is bad for themselves, it is still just for the others to enact this.

Because, Polemarchus, Thrasymachus posited that to enact the orders of the rulers is just.

Yes, Cleitophon, and he also posited that the advantage of the stronger is just. 340B And having put both these propositions forward he went on to admit that the stronger sometimes order the weaker folk, their subjects, to enact what’s disadvantageous to themselves. But based upon these admissions, what’s advantageous to the stronger would be no more just than what’s not advantageous.

But, said Cleitophon, by “what’s advantageous to the stronger” he meant what the stronger person believes to be advantageous to himself; this is what is to be enacted by the weaker, and he posited that this is what is just.

But that is not what he said, said Polemarchus.

340C That makes no difference, Polemarchus, said I. Rather, if Thrasymachus now means it in this way, let’s accept it from him in this way. So tell me, Thrasymachus, is this what you wanted to say is just; what seems to the stronger, to be to the advantage of the stronger, whether it is advantageous or not? May we say that you mean it in this sense?

No, not in the least, said he; do you think that I call someone who is making mistakes, stronger, at the time he is making the mistakes?

Yes, said I, I did think you meant this when you accepted 340D that those who rule are not unerring, but also make some mistakes.

That’s because, said he, you are conducting your arguments unfairly, Socrates. Take an immediate example; do you call someone who is making mistakes in treating the sick, a physician, based on the actual mistake he is making, or someone who makes mistakes in calculating, a calculator, at the time he is making mistakes, based on this mistake? No, I think this is just our manner of speaking; we say the physician makes mistakes, the calculator makes mistakes, and so does the writing teacher. But in fact, I think, each of these, insofar as they are what we call 340E them, never make mistakes. And so, according to this precise account, since you do speak so precisely, none of these practitioners make mistakes. Someone who makes mistakes does so in the absence of knowledge, when he is not a practitioner, and so no practitioner, wise person, or ruler, makes mistakes at that time, when he is a ruler, even though everyone could say that the physician made mistakes, and so did the ruler. So it is in this sense that you should understand the answer I gave you a moment ago. But the other account is the most precise; the one who rules, 341A insofar as he is a ruler, does not make mistakes, and he unerringly institutes what is best for himself, and this must be enacted by the one who is ruled. And so, as I have been saying from the outset, I say that what’s just is, enacting what is to the advantage of the stronger.

Very well, Thrasymachus, said I, do you think I am arguing unfairly?

Yes, certainly, he replied.

Because you think I asked my questions in the way I asked them, as part of a plan to do damage to you in the arguments.

I actually know this quite well, he said, yes, and you won’t get any further, for 341B you couldn’t do this damage without my noticing it, nor will you be capable of overpowering me in the argument, now that you have been found out.

Blessed man, said I, I wouldn’t even make the attempt! But to avoid something of this sort happening to us all over again, please clarify in which sense you mean “the ruler”, and “the stronger”. Is it the ruler and stronger in the common sense of the words, or in the precise sense that you explained just now, who is stronger, and whose advantage it will be just for the weaker person to enact?

The one who is a ruler in the most precise sense of the word, said he. So do damage to that and be unfair, if you can; I am asking you for no concessions, 341C but you won’t be able to.

Do you think, said I, that I would be so insane as to attempt to shave the lion, by being unfair with Thrasymachus?

Well you made the attempt just now, said he, and you came to naught in that case too.

Enough of this sort of thing, said I. But tell me; the physician, in the precise sense you explained earlier, is he a money-maker or someone who treats the sick? And you should speak of someone who really is a physician.

He is someone who treats the sick, he replied.

What about a steersman? Is someone who is a steersman in the correct sense, a sailor or someone who is in charge of sailors?

341D Someone who is in charge of sailors.

We need not, I believe, take account of the fact that he sails in a ship, nor is he to be called a sailor for that reason. For he is not called a steersman based on his sailing, but based on his skill, and the fact that he is in charge of the sailors.

True, he said.

Isn’t there some advantage that belongs to each of these?


And isn’t the skill naturally directed to this, I asked, to seeking out and furnishing what is advantageous to each?

It is directed to this, said he.

Now in each of the skills too, is there any other advantage apart from being as perfect as possible?

341E In what sense are you asking this question?

It’s as if you were to ask me, said I, whether it is sufficient that our body, be a body, or is it in need of something else besides. I would reply that it does need something else, entirely so, and that’s why the skill of medicine has now been invented, because our body is deficient, and it is not sufficient that it be like this. So this skill has been provided in order to furnish what is advantageous to this body. Do you think, said I, that I would have answered correctly or incorrectly, had I said this?

342A Correctly, he replied.

What about this? Is medicine itself deficient, or is there any other skill that needs some additional excellence, in the way that eyes need sight and ears need hearing and, is there for this reason, a need for some skill, set over them, that considers what’s advantageous in this respect, and provides it? So too, is there any deficiency in the skill itself, and does each skill need another skill that will consider what’s advantageous to it, and does the one that’s considering this, need another skill of this sort, in turn, and is this an unending process? Or will the skill consider what’s advantageous 342B to itself? Or does it need neither itself nor another skill to consider what’s advantageous in relation to its own deficiency, because there is no deficiency or error present in any skill, nor is it the function of a skill to seek what’s advantageous to anything apart from the object of that skill? And is it unblemished and pure, because it is right, as long as each skill is precisely and wholly what it is? And considering that “precise” formulation; is this how matters stand or not?

So it appears, he said.

342C So, said I, medicine does not consider what’s advantageous to medicine, but to the body.

Yes, said he.

Nor does horsemanship consider what’s advantageous to horsemanship but to horses, nor does any other skill consider what’s advantageous to itself, since it has no additional need; it considers what’s advantageous to the object of that skill.

It appears so, he replied.

But of course, Thrasymachus, the skills rule over and dominate the objects of those skills.

He agreed to this, but with great reluctance.

So no knowledge at all considers 342D or commands what is to the advantage of the stronger, but what is to the advantage of the weaker, and of whatever is ruled by the knowledge itself.

In the end he accepted this too, although he did attempt to resist it. Once he had agreed, I said; so, isn’t it the case that no physician, insofar as he is a physician, considers or commands what’s advantageous to the physician, rather than to the sick person? For, it has been agreed that the physician, in the precise sense, is someone who rules over bodies, but is not a money-maker. Wasn’t that agreed?

He concurred.

Isn’t the steersman too, in the precise sense, also someone who rules over sailors, but is not a sailor?

342E He agreed.

So a steersman and ruler of this sort won’t consider and command what’s advantageous to the steersman, but to the sailor, the person whom he rules over.

He concurred, reluctantly.

In that case, Thrasymachus, said I, no one at all, exercising any rulership, insofar as he is a ruler, considers or commands what’s advantageous to himself, but to the one he rules over, for whom he himself exercises his skill. With his gaze fixed upon that and whatever is advantageous and appropriate to that he says all that he says, and he does all that he does.

343A Now once we had reached this stage in the discussion, and it was apparent to everyone that his argument about what’s just had undergone a complete reversal, Thrasymachus, instead of responding said; tell me, Socrates, do you have a nurse?

Why is this? said I. Shouldn’t you respond rather than asking a question like this?

Because, said he, she overlooks your snivelling and doesn’t wipe your nose when you need it; in any case, with her, you don’t even distinguish between shepherds and sheep.

Why exactly are you saying this? I asked.

343B Because you think the shepherds and the neatherds consider the good of the sheep and the oxen, and fatten them and care for them with a view to something else besides the good of their masters and themselves. What’s more, you imagine that those who rule our cities, those who truly rule, have some other attitude towards those they rule over, than the disposition someone might have towards sheep, and that they consider something else, night and day, besides 343C how they will benefit themselves. And when it comes to what’s just and justice, what’s unjust and injustice, you are so remote, that you are unaware that justice, and what’s just, are in fact someone else’s good, being the advantage of the stronger, of those who rule, and the personal detriment of whoever obeys, and is subordinate. Injustice is the exact opposite and it rules over the truly simple minded folk, who are just, and who, because they are ruled, do what’s to the advantage of that stronger man, and make that person happy by serving him, 343D without making themselves happy at all.

But, my utterly simple-minded Socrates, you should consider the fact that everywhere, the just man has less than the unjust man. Firstly, in contractual arrangements with one another, wherever people like this are in partnership with one another, you would never find that the just man has more than the unjust man when the partnership is ended, no, he has less. Again, in their dealings with the city, when there are taxes to be paid, the just man pays more and the unjust man pays less, although they are equally liable, and when there is money to be had 343E one gains nothing while the other gains a lot. And indeed, whenever either of them holds a position of authority, the just man, even if he suffers no other loss, suffers the deterioration of his personal affairs through neglect, and because he is just, he takes no personal advantage of public property, and besides all this, he is hated by his family and acquaintances when he is not prepared to afford them any service, beyond what is just. But what happens to the unjust man is the complete opposite of all this. Indeed I am referring 344A to the person I was speaking of just now; someone who is capable of getting more, on a large scale. That’s the person you should consider if you really want to judge how much more advantageous it is to him, personally, to be unjust rather than just.

But the easiest way of all for you to understand this is by taking the most extreme injustice, that makes the one who has committed the injustice as happy as he can possibly be, and those who have suffered the injustice, and are not prepared to act unjustly, utterly wretched. This is tyranny, which takes what does not belong to it, what’s sacred and holy, private and public, 344B not little by little but all at once, by stealth and by force. If someone acts unjustly by enacting a particular part of this extreme injustice, and he is found out, he is penalised and attracts enormous reproach; and indeed, temple robbers, kidnappers, house-breakers, swindlers and thieves, is what they call people who are unjust, in part only, through crimes of this sort. But when in addition to stealing the wealth of the citizens, someone actually kidnaps and enslaves the citizens themselves, instead of these shameful names, he is called happy and blessed, 344C not only by those citizens, but by anyone who hears that he has acted in this completely unjust manner. For those who reproach injustice, do not reproach it because they are afraid of doing unjust deeds, no, they are afraid of suffering them.

And so, Socrates, injustice, on a sufficiently large scale, is stronger, freer and more dominant than justice and, as I said at the outset, what’s just is indeed the advantage of the stronger, and what’s unjust is profitable and advantageous to oneself.

344D Having said all this Thrasymachus intended to leave, having poured his speech about our ears in a massive flood, like an attendant at the baths. However, the company wouldn’t allow him to do so, rather, they compelled him to stay and provide an argument in support of what he had said. I myself was particularly insistent and I said: heavens, Thrasymachus, after firing off a speech like that do you intend to take your leave, before you provide adequate instruction, or before you have learned whether or not this is how matters stand? Or do you think we are trying to determine some minor 344E issue, rather than a course of life which would enable anyone who pursues it to live the most profitable of lives?

Indeed, said Thrasymachus, do I think this is not the case?

You seem to think so, said I, or else you don’t care about us, nor have you any concern about whether we live worse or better lives, we who are in ignorance about what you claim to know. So, good man, take heart and explain it to us, since you won’t 345A fare at all badly if you do a good deed for so many of us. In fact I must say that I, for my part, am not persuaded, nor do I believe that injustice is more profitable than justice, not even if someone allows it free rein and doesn’t prevent it from doing whatever it wishes. No, my good man, let him be unjust and able to act unjustly, either by avoiding detection, or by open force, nevertheless, he does not persuade me that injustice is more profitable than justice. 345B Now there is probably someone else among us, and not just myself, who is convinced of this, so do enough to persuade us, blessed man, that we are being ill-advised when we set justice above injustice.

But how am I going to persuade you? He asked. Indeed if you are not persuaded by what I said just now, what more can I do for you, besides taking the argument and shoving it into your soul?

By Zeus, said I, don’t do that; no, firstly, you should stand by whatever you said or, if you do change your position, do so openly and don’t try to deceive us. 345C But at the moment, Thrasymachus, since we are still considering the previous examples, you see that although you began by defining the physician, in the true sense, you no longer thought it necessary, later on, to be careful and precise about the shepherd, in the true sense. Instead you presume that he fattens the sheep with a view, not to what’s best for the sheep, but with a view to a banquet, as if he were a dinner guest about to have a feast, or again with a view to selling them, 345D like a businessman rather than a shepherd. But the skill of shepherding surely does not care for anything else apart from what it has been put in charge of, and how to provide what’s best to this, since, as long as it does not fall short of being shepherding, whatever belongs to itself has, of course, already been provided to a sufficient extent, so that it can be best. Accordingly, I think we need to accept at this stage that all rule, insofar as it is rule, does not consider what’s best for anything else, except what it rules over and tends upon, 345E whether the rule is exercised in civic or in private matters. But do you think that those who exercise rule in our cities, those who rule in the true sense, do so of their own free will?

By Zeus, said he, I don’t think it, I know it quite well.

But why, Thrasymachus? said I. Aren’t you aware that in the case of rulers in general, no one is prepared, of his own free will, to exercise rule? Rather they ask for payment because any benefit accruing from the exercise of rule will accrue, not to themselves, but to those who are ruled. 346A Now tell me this much; don’t we consistently say that each of the skills is different in virtue of having a different power? And, blessed man, don’t give an answer that’s contrary to your own opinion, so that we may make some progress.

Yes, said he, they are different in virtue of this.

Doesn’t each of them provide some benefit of its own to us, a benefit that is not common to them all; medicine providing health, steersmanship providing safety at sea, and so on for the other skills?

Entirely so.

346B And doesn’t wage-earning provide a reward, since that is its power? Or do you call medicine and steersmanship the same skill? Or if you really want to make a precise distinction, as you proposed, would you be any more inclined to refer to a steersman’s skill as medicine, if someone, acting as a steersman, were to become healthy because of the advantages of a sea voyage?

Of course not, he said.

Nor, I believe, would you say this about wage-earning if someone earning wages were to become healthy.

Of course not.

What about this; would you call medicine, wage-earning, if someone were to earn a wage whilst healing people?

346C I would not, he said.

Well didn’t we agree that the benefit of each skill is particular to that skill?

Granted, said he.

Then whatever benefit all the practitioners obtain in common, they obviously obtain by their common recourse to something else that is the same.

So it seems, said he.

And yet, we maintain that the benefit, whereby the practitioners gain a reward, comes to them from their recourse to the wage earning skill.

He agreed reluctantly.

346D So it is not from his own skill that each practitioner has this benefit, whereby he obtains a reward; rather, if we are to consider this precisely, medicine produces health, while wage earning produces a reward, and although house building produces a house, wage earning follows it and produces a reward. And the same goes for all the other skills, each performs its own function and benefits whatever it is set over, but if a reward were not to accompany the skill, is there any benefit to the practitioner?

Apparently not, said he.

346E In that case, when he works for nothing, does he not confer any benefit then?

No, I think he does.

Therefore, Thrasymachus, this much is obvious by now; no skill or rule furnishes what is beneficial to itself but, as we have been saying for some time, it furnishes and commands what is beneficial to whatever it rules over, by considering what is to the advantage of that of the weaker, but not of the stronger. And that’s why, dear Thrasymachus, I was saying just now, that no one is prepared to exercise rule and get involved in correcting the evil ways of others, of his own free will, instead he asks for a reward, 347A because whoever is to enact anything properly, by means of a skill, never enacts what’s best for himself, nor commands it either, when his commands are based upon the skill; rather he enacts what’s best for whoever is ruled. These are the reasons, it seems, why there needs to be a reward for those who are going to consent to exercise rule; either money, honour, or a penalty if they won’t exercise rule.

What do you mean by this, Socrates? said Glaucon; the first two rewards I recognise, but I don’t understand what penalty you are referring to, or how you include it among the rewards.

347B Then, said I, you do not understand the reward of the best people, because of which the most suitable people exercise rule, whenever they are willing to do so. Or do you not know that having a thirst for honour or for money is said to be, and is indeed, a reproach?

I do, said he.

Well, said I, that’s why the good people are not willing to rule, either for the sake of money or honour. For they do not wish to be called hirelings, for openly securing a reward from exercising authority, nor to be called thieves, for profiting from their position of authority, by stealth. Then again, they won’t do it for the sake of honour either, for they are not thirsty for honour. So in their case, there also needs to be some necessity 347C or a penalty, if they are going to want to exercise rule. And that’s surely why it is regarded as a disgrace to seek to exercise rule, of one’s own free will, and not wait for necessity. But if one is not willing to exercise rule, oneself, the greatest penalty is to be ruled over by someone of lesser rate; and for fear of this penalty, it appears to me, the suitable people exercise rule, whenever they do so. And then they set about exercising their authority, not as though they are embarking upon something good, nor as though they are going to do well out of it, but as a necessity, 347D because they are not able to entrust it to anyone better than, or similar to, themselves.

It is quite likely then, that if there were a city constituted entirely of good men, there would be as much contention over not ruling, as there is over exercising rule nowadays. And in that case, it would become quite evident that in fact the true ruler does not, by nature, consider his own advantage, but the advantage of whoever is ruled. Accordingly, everyone who realises this would choose to be benefitted by someone else, rather than have the trouble of benefitting someone else.

So I don’t agree with Thrasymachus, 347E at all, that what’s just is the advantage of the stronger. Now we shall consider this again on another occasion, but what Thrasymachus is now saying seems much more significant to me, when he maintains that the life of the unjust person is superior to the life of the just. Well, Glaucon, said I, which do you choose, and which formulation seems truer to you?

Well, I say the life of the just person is more profitable.

348A And did you hear how much good Thrasymachus ascribed a moment ago to the life of the unjust?

I heard, said he, but I am not convinced.

So do you want us to persuade him that he is not speaking the truth, if we can, somehow, find a way to do so?

How could I not want that? said he.

Well if we argue against him, setting one speech against another, as to how much good there is, in turn, in being just, and he makes a reply, and we make another speech, it will be necessary to count up the good points 348B and measure how many of them each of us made, and at that stage we shall need some judges to decide on the issue. But if we consider the matter, as we did just now, by coming to agreement with one another, we ourselves shall be both judges and pleaders, at the same time.

Yes, certainly, said he.

So which approach do you like best? I asked.

That one, he replied.

Come on then, Thrasymachus, said I, answer us, from the beginning. Do you maintain that complete injustice is more profitable than justice, when it too is complete?

348C I do certainly maintain this, said he, and I have explained the reasons why.

Well then, tell me what you say about them in this respect; I presume you refer to one of them as an excellence and the other as a vice?

Of course.

Justice being an excellence and injustice a vice?

Well that’s likely, my sweet friend, since I also say that injustice is profitable while justice is not.

What are you saying, then?

The opposite, said he.

That justice is a vice?

No, it’s a very noble simple mindedness.

348D In that case, is injustice an evil disposition?

No, it is sound judgement, he said.

And do the unjust people also seem to you to be intelligent and good?

Yes, those who are able to be completely unjust, at any rate, said he, and have the ability to bring cities and entire races of humans under their power. But perhaps you think I am speaking of pick-pockets, said he, although this sort of thing is profitable too, as long as it goes undetected, yet it is not worth mentioning, compared to what I have just been speaking of.

348E I am not unaware, said I, of the point you wish to make, but what surprised me was this; you placed injustice alongside excellence and wisdom, although you placed justice with their opposites.

That is where I place them, very much so.

This is now a tougher proposition, and it is no longer easy to come up with a response. For if you had proposed that injustice is profitable, and yet accepted that it is an evil and a disgrace, as some others do, we would have something to say by discussing it in conventional terms. But you are obviously going to say that it is noble and strong 349A and you will attribute to it all the other qualities that we used to attribute to justice, since you have even dared to place it alongside excellence and wisdom.

Your prophecy could not be truer, said he.

And yet, said I, I should not hold back from developing the argument, as long as I understand you to be saying what you are actually thinking. Indeed, Thrasymachus, I don’t think you are joking at the moment; no, you are expressing your opinions as to what’s true.

What difference does it make to you, said he, whether this is my opinion or not? Why don’t you just refute the argument?

349B No reason, said I. But, apart from all this, please try to answer one further question; do you think the just person would want to have more than another just person, in any respect?

Not at all, said he, otherwise he would not be the charming, simple-minded fellow, he actually is.

And what about the just action, would he want to have more than that?

No, not that either, he said.

And would he think he deserves to have more than the unjust person, and would he believe that this is just, or would he not believe so?

He’d believe it, said he, and he’d think he deserved it, but he would be unable to achieve it.

349C But I am not asking you that, said I, but whether the just man wants, and thinks he deserves, to have more than the unjust man, but not more than the just man.

Yes, that’s it, said he.

And what about the unjust man? Does he think he deserves to have more than the just man, and more than the just action?

How could he do otherwise, he said, when he thinks he deserves to have more than everyone?

Won’t the unjust also have more than the unjust person, and the unjust action, and won’t he strive, in all things, to have more for himself?

That’s it.

Should we put it like this? I asked; the just man does not have more than 349D someone like himself, only someone unlike, while the unjust get’s more than his like, and his unlike.

An excellent formulation, he said.

And yet, the unjust person is intelligent and good, said I, while the just person is neither?

That’s good too, said he.

In that case, said I, doesn’t the unjust man resemble the intelligent and the good, while the just man does not?

Yes, indeed, said he; how could this sort of person fail to resemble people like this, and how could the other fellow resemble them?

Well said. So each of them is this sort of person; they are like the people they resemble?

What else could they be? he said.

349E Very well, Thrasymachus; and do you say that one person is musical and another is unmusical?

I do.

Which of them is intelligent and which is unintelligent?

The musical person is presumably intelligent, and the unmusical person, unintelligent.

Isn’t he good in matters wherein he is intelligent and bad in matters wherein he is unintelligent?


What about the medical man? Isn’t the situation the same?

It is.

So, best of men, would it seem to you that any musical man, when tuning his lyre, would want to have more than another musical man, in tightening and loosening the strings, or would you think he deserves to have more?

No I don’t think so.

Would he want to have more than the unmusical man?

Necessarily, he replied.

350A And what about the medical man? In prescribing food and drink, do you think he would want to have more than the medical man, or the medical procedure?

Of course not.

But more than someone who is not a medical man?


Well then, in the case of all knowledge or absence of knowledge, consider this: would anyone at all who is knowledgeable want to choose to do, or say, more than another knowledgeable person, rather than choosing the same as someone who is like himself, in the case of the same activity?

Yes, said he, perhaps that’s how matters stand, in this case.

What about someone who is not knowledgeable? Wouldn’t he have more 350B than, both the knowledgeable person, and the person who is not knowledgeable, in like manner?


And whoever is knowledgeable is wise?

I agree.

So whoever is good and wise does not want to have more than his like, although he does want to have more than his unlike, and his opposite.

So it seems, said he.

But whoever is bad and ignorant wants to have more than his like, and more than his opposite too.


In that case, Thrasymachus, doesn’t our unjust man have more than his like, and his unlike? Weren’t you saying this?

I was, said he.

350C And yet, whoever is just will not have more than his like, but he will have more than his unlike?


So the just person, said I, resembles the wise and the good, while the unjust resembles the bad and the ignorant.

Quite likely.

However we agreed that whoever someone is like, that’s the sort of person he actually is.

We agreed indeed.

So the just person has turned out, for us, to be good and wise, and the unjust person ignorant and bad.

Now, Thrasymachus did agree with all this, but not as easily as I 350D am now describing. Rather he was dragged reluctantly, perspiring prodigiously, as you’d expect on a summer’s day. Then I saw what I had never seen before; Thrasymachus blushing. And since we had finally agreed that justice is excellence and wisdom, while injustice is badness and ignorance, I said; there it is, let that be our position on this, and yet, we also maintained that injustice is strong, or don’t you remember, Thrasymachus?

I remember, said he, but what you are now saying is unsatisfactory to me, and I have something to say about this. Yet if I were to say it, I know quite well that you’d accuse 350E me of making public speeches. So, either allow me to speak as much as I want to or, if you want to ask questions, ask, and I shall respond with, “there it is” as we do to old women telling stories, and nod my head, and shake my head.

No, no, said I, not if it is contrary to your own opinion.

Yes, to satisfy you, he said. Since you won’t allow me to speak, what else do you want me to do?

Nothing, by Zeus, said I, but if you really are going to do this, do it, and I shall ask my questions.

Ask them.

Then I ask this question, the one I asked earlier, so that we may consider the argument thoroughly, 351A in due order; what sort of thing is justice in relation to injustice? For it was said, somehow, that injustice is more powerful and stronger than justice, and yet, now, if justice is indeed wisdom and excellence, said I, I think it will easily be shown to be stronger than injustice since, in fact, injustice is ignorance; no one could still fail to recognise that. But I have no desire, Thrasymachus, to consider this in such a facile manner, but somewhat as follows: would you maintain that a city 351B is unjust, when it attempts to enslave other cities, and reduce them to slavery, and indeed hold many more in subjection, having enslaved them already?

Yes, of course, and the best city, being utterly unjust, will do this to the greatest extent.

I understand, said I, that this was your argument, but I am considering the following question; whether a city that becomes stronger than another city will have this power, in the absence of justice, or is it necessary, for her, that justice be present?

351CWell, if it’s as you were just saying and justice is wisdom, then this will happen when justice is present; but if it’s as I was saying, then this will happen when injustice is present.

Thrasymachus, I am really delighted, said I, that you are not only nodding and shaking your head, but also responding so beautifully.

Yes, said he, I am being obliging towards you.

It’s nice of you to do so, but please oblige me a little more and tell me this; do you think a city or an army, robbers or thieves, or any other group that jointly undertakes something, in an unjust manner, would be able to accomplish anything if they were unjust towards one another?

Of course not, said he.

351D But what if they were not unjust to one another? Wouldn’t they be more likely to accomplish something?

Very much so.

Because injustice, Thrasymachus, presumably causes factions, hatred, and conflict among them, while justice brings like-mindedness and friendship. Is this so?

Let it be so, said he, so that I don’t have to differ with you.

Again, that’s good of you, best of men. But tell me this; if this function of injustice, wherever it is present, is to produce hatred, won’t it also, whether it arises among free men or slaves, make them hate one another and develop factions, and be unable to act with one another, 351E jointly?

Entirely so.

And what if it arises among two people? Won’t they differ, develop hatred, and become enemies of each other and of the just people?

They will, said he.

And if injustice arises in a single person, my surprising friend, will it lose its own power, or will it still retain it, nonetheless?

Let’s say it retains it, nonetheless?

Isn’t it apparent that the sort of power it has is as follows: wherever it arises, be it in a city, a family, an army, or anything else at 352A all, injustice first renders it incapable of acting in collaboration with itself because of faction and difference and, what’s more, it makes it an enemy of itself and of everything that is opposite to it, and of the just? Isn’t this the case?

Entirely so.

And if it is present, even in a single person, it will, I presume, produce those same outcomes, the outcomes it naturally produces: firstly injustice will render him incapable of action, because he has inner factions and is not like-minded with himself, and also make him an enemy of himself and of the just. Is this so?


And surely, my friend, the gods too are just?

352B So be it, said he.

And in that case the unjust man will be an enemy of the gods, Thrasymachus, and the just man, a friend.

Feast away on your argument, said he. Have no fear. I shall not oppose you in case I incur the displeasure of these people here.

Come on then, said I, and complete what’s left of the banquet for me, by answering questions as you have just been doing. For the just are apparently wiser, better and more capable of action, while the unjust are not able 352C to do anything, together, and in fact when we say that people, despite being unjust, have, on occasion, accomplished something by working together, jointly, with strength, we are not speaking the entire truth. For had they been perfectly unjust they could not have restrained their injustice towards one another, so it is obvious that some justice was present in them which prevented them from being unjust, both to one another and the people they were set against, at the same time. Because of this justice they accomplished what they accomplished, and they embarked upon their unjust exploits only half-corrupted by injustice, since total degenerates, who are completely unjust, are also completely 352D incapable of accomplishing anything.

Now as I understand it, this is how matters stand, and not as you proposed at first. However, we should also consider the issue we put forward for consideration, after that; whether the just people live better lives than the unjust and are happier. Well, based on what we have said, in my opinion, it now appears that they are happier; nevertheless we should consider this more thoroughly. For this argument is not concerned with any random issue; it concerns the manner in which our lives should be lived.

Consider it then, said he.

Very well, said I. So tell me, do you think a horse has some function?

352E I do.

And would you propose that this function of a horse, or of anything else, would be what can only be carried out with that or is best carried out with that?

I don’t understand, said he.

Well what about this? Can you see with anything else except your eyes?

Of course not.

And again, can you hear with anything except your ears?

Not at all.

Wouldn’t we be right to say that these are the functions of those organs?

Entirely so.

353A What about this? Could you take a cutting from a vine with a dagger, a chisel or with many other tools?

Of course.

But you couldn’t do it, I think, with anything else, as well as you could do it with a pruning hook, manufactured for this purpose.


In that case, shouldn’t we propose that this is its function?

We should indeed.

Well I think you should now have a better understanding of my line of questioning, just now, when I was asking if the function of something is what it alone can accomplish, or what it can accomplish better than anything else.

353B Yes, said he, I now understand and it seems to me that this is the function of anything.

Very well, said I. Now do you also think there is an excellence belonging to anything to which some function has been assigned? But let’s go back again to the same examples; is there some function of eyes, according to us?

There is.

And in that case, is there also an excellence of eyes?

An excellence too.

What about ears? Do they have a function?


Haven’t they an excellence too?

An excellence too.

And in all other cases, doesn’t the same apply?

It does.

In that case could the eyes ever perform 353C their own function properly, without possessing their own particular excellence, but possessing a defect instead of the excellence?

Well, how could they, he replied, since, presumably you mean that they possess blindness instead of sight?

I am not yet asking what their excellence might be, but whether anything that exercises a function carries out its own function well, by means of its own excellence, and badly, by means of its defect.

Well what you are saying is true, in this case, said he.

Won’t the ears carry out their own function badly when deprived of their own excellence?

Entirely so.

353D So, do we apply the same argument to all the other instances?

Well, I think so.

Come on then, let’s proceed to consider the following; is there some function of the soul that you could not perform by means of anything else there is? For instance, caring, ruling and deliberating, and everything of that sort; is there anything else besides soul to which we might properly attribute these? Could we maintain that they are not particular to soul?

They are particular to nothing else.

And again, what about living? Shall we say that it is a function of soul?

More than anything, said he.

Don’t we also say that there is some excellence of a soul?

We say so.

353E In that case, will a soul ever carry out its own functions well, Thrasymachus, when deprived of its own particular excellence, or is that impossible?

It’s impossible.

So, of necessity, a bad soul exercises rule and care, badly, and a good soul does all this well.

Of necessity.

Didn’t we agree that excellence of soul is justice, and badness is injustice?

Yes, we agreed.

Then the just soul, and the just man, will live well, while the unjust man will live badly.

So it appears, said he, according to your argument.

354A But someone who lives well is blessed and happy, while someone who does not, is the opposite.

Of course.

In that case, the just person is happy, while the unjust is wretched.

Let it be so, said he.

But there is no profit in being wretched, but in being happy there is.

Of course.

Then, blessed Thrasymachus, injustice is never more profitable than justice.

Well, Socrates, let this be your feast for the festival of Bendis.

A feast provided by you, Thrasymachus, said I, once you became gentle with me, and stopped being difficult. However, I have not feasted properly, but that’s my own 354B fault, not yours. Rather I think I am behaving like gluttons, who snatch at whatever is spread before them, to get a taste, before they have enjoyed the previous dish in due measure. Before considering the first thing we were looking for, the just, and what precisely it is, I let that go and set about considering something about justice; whether it is badness and ignorance, or wisdom and excellence. And again, later on, when another argument came my way, that injustice is more profitable than justice, I could not restrain myself from going after that and abandoning the other one. So the outcome of the dialogue, for me, at the moment, is that I know 354C nothing. Since I do not know what precisely the just is, I shall hardly know whether it happens to be an excellence or not, or whether someone who possesses it is unhappy or happy.

End Book 1


Book 2

Now, having said all this, I thought I was quit of the argument but, it turned out, in the end, to be a mere prelude. For Glaucon who is always extremely forthright on every issue, on this occasion in particular, could not accept the withdrawal of Thrasymachus, so he said; Socrates, do you wish to seem to have persuaded us, or do you wish to persuade us, truly, 357B that it is better, in every way, to be just rather than unjust?

To persuade you, truly, said I; that’s what I would choose if it were up to me.

Well then, said he, you are not doing what you wish to do. Yes, tell me this; do you think there is a kind of good that we would choose to have, not with a view to getting something out of it, but because we welcome it for its own sake, like enjoyment, and pleasures that are harmless and produce no future consequences apart from enjoying their possession?

357C Well, said I, I think there is a good of this kind.

What about the kind we prize, both for its own sake and for what it gives rise to? Thinking for instance, or seeing, and being healthy, since we welcome these, presumably, for both reasons.

Yes, said I.

And do you see a third form of good which includes physical exercise, being healed when you are ill, healing others, and money-making in general? These, we would say, are troublesome, and although they benefit us, we would not choose to have them for their own sake, but for their rewards 357D and for whatever else they give rise to.

Yes, indeed, said I, there is also this third form, but what about it?

In which of these three do you place justice? He asked.

358A I think, said I, that it belongs in the noblest of the three, the one that should be prized, for itself, and for what it gives rise to, by anyone who is to be blessed.

Well most people don’t think so, said he. They think it belongs in the troublesome form that should be practised for the sake of its rewards, and for reputation based on appearance, but, just by itself, it should be avoided because it is difficult.

I know that that’s how they think, said I, and Thrasymachus has been criticising justice for some time for being like this, and he has been praising injustice. But it seems I’m a slow learner.

358B Come on then, said he, and see if you still hold the same view after you listen to me. For Thrasymachus seems to me like a snake who has submitted to your charms, more meekly than he should since, to my mind, no proof on either side has yet been given. For I am eager to hear what each is, and what power each possesses, just by itself, when present in the soul, and to set to one side their rewards, and whatever arises from them.

So I shall proceed in this way, if it is acceptable to you; I shall reinstate Thrasymachus’ 358C argument, and I shall first say the sort of thing they maintain justice is, and where it has come from; secondly, that everyone who practises it does so against their own free will, as a necessity, and not as something good, and thirdly, that they are acting reasonably in doing so, because the life of the unjust is actually far better than the life of the just, according to them.

Although this is not how it seems to me at all, Socrates, I am perplexed, nevertheless, from hearing Thrasymachus, and countless others, assailing my ears, while the argument on behalf of justice, whereby it is better than injustice, 358D I have heard, so far, from no one, in the way I wish to hear it. I wish to hear justice itself being praised, for itself, and I think I am most likely to get this from you.

That’s why I shall speak, forcibly, in praise of the unjust life, and in speaking like this, I shall demonstrate to you the manner in which I want to hear you, in turn, censuring injustice and praising justice. So let’s see if what I am proposing is to your liking.

More than anything, said I. Yes, what could be more delightful to a person of intelligence than hearing about this issue, and discussing it 358E again and again?

You put that perfectly, said he, now listen to the first thing I said I was going to say on this matter; the sort of thing justice is, and where it has come from. Indeed, according to them, doing injustice is good, by nature, while suffering injustice is bad, and the badness in suffering injustice far exceeds the good in doing it. And so, when people are being unjust to one another, and suffering injustice too, and getting a taste of both the doing and the suffering, those who are unable to avoid 359A the one, and opt for the other, think it profitable to enter a contract with one another, whereby they neither do injustice, nor suffer it. From there, they began to set down laws, mutual contracts, and to call whatever the law commands, lawful and just. This they say is the origin and the very essence of justice, it is a middle ground between what’s best, not paying a penalty when you act unjustly; and what’s worst, being unable to get revenge when you suffer injustice. And what’s just, 359B being midway between both of these extremes, is prized, not as something good, but as something that’s respected, out of weakness in doing injustice, since a true man, who can actually do this, would never enter into a contract with anyone whereby they neither do injustice, nor suffer injustice; that would be madness. So, Socrates, according to their argument, such is the nature of justice, this is what it is like, and such are its natural origins.

Now we would be most likely to see that those who practise justice do so against their will, because they lack the power to act unjustly, if we were to picture, in mind, 359C a situation somewhat as follows: let’s grant each of these two, the just and the unjust person, licence to do whatever they want, then we shall accompany them and watch where their desire may lead them in each case. We would then catch the just person, in the very act, doing the same thing as the unjust person; getting more, which is what every nature naturally pursues as something good, despite being forcibly perverted by law, to show respect for equality.

The sort of licence I am referring to would be most apparent if they were to possess 359D the power that they say, once belonged to the ancestor of Gyges of Lydia. Well he was a shepherd working for the then ruler of Lydia, when there was a huge storm and an earthquake, the ground broke apart and a chasm appeared in the very place he was tending the flocks. When he saw it, he was amazed, went down into it and, the story goes, he beheld other amazing sights, including a hollow bronze horse which had little doors, and when he bent down and peeped in, he saw that there was a corpse inside that appeared to be of larger than human size. This was wearing nothing else apart 359E from a gold ring on its finger; he removed this and went out again.

When the usual meeting of shepherds was held to report, on a monthly basis, to the king, on the state of his flocks, he arrived wearing the ring, As he sat down with the others, he happened to turn the collet of the ring around, towards himself, to the inside of his hand. With that he became invisible to the people he was sitting with, and they spoke 360A about him as if he wasn’t there. He was amazed, and as he fiddled with the ring again he turned the collet outwards and he immediately became visible, once more. Once he had noticed this, he tested the ring out to see if it really had this power, and he found that this was so; on turning the collet inwards, he became invisible, on turning it outwards, he became visible.

Having become aware of this, he immediately contrived to become one of the messengers that go to the king360B. When he got there, he seduced the king’s wife and, with her assistance, he set upon the king, killed him and took over the kingship.

Now if there were two rings like this, and one was worn by our just person, the other by our unjust person, there is no one, it would seem, with such adamantine resolve as to abide by justice, and dare to refrain from touching other people’s possessions, when it is possible for him, with no fear, to take whatever he wants from the market, go into private houses 360C and lie with whoever he wants, to kill anyone or free anyone he wants from prison, and to behave generally, among his fellow men, as though he were the equal of a god. But behaving in this manner, he would not be doing anything different from the other fellow; they would both be going down the same path.

So someone might say that this is strong evidence that no one, of his own free will, is just, but only when he is compelled to be so; because being just is not something that is good for him personally since, whenever a person believes he will be able to act unjustly, he will do so. For every man believes that injustice is far more profitable, 360D personally, than justice, and what they believe is true, as anyone who puts forward an argument of this sort will maintain; because if someone who has obtained such licence as this, never had any desire to act unjustly, nor to lay hands on other people’s possessions, he would be regarded as wretched, and devoid of intelligence, by those who noticed, although they would still praise him when fact to face with one another, deceiving one another completely, because of their fear of suffering injustice.

Well then, so much for that. As for this decision concerning the 360E life of the people we are speaking of, we shall be able to decide the issue correctly, once we contrast the most just person with the most unjust, but not otherwise. So what contrast do I mean? It is as follows: let’s take nothing away from the injustice of the unjust man, nor from the justice of the just man; no, let’s propose that each of them is perfect in terms of his own conduct. So, in the first place, let the unjust man act like the formidable craftsmen, like the foremost steersman, or physician who is fully aware of the impossibilities and the possibilities 361A associated with his skill, and who attempts what’s possible and sets aside what’s impossible, and even if he slips up somewhere, he is up to the task of setting it right. So we should also allow the unjust man, attempting his unjust acts in the correct manner, to go undetected if he is going to be utterly unjust, and we should regard the fellow who gets caught as inept, for the pinnacle of injustice is to seem just, even though you are not.

So let’s grant complete injustice to the completely unjust person and there should be no omissions, but we should allow him, whilst perpetrating the greatest injustices, to have provided himself with the greatest 361B reputation for justice, and even if he does slip up somewhere, let’s grant him the ability to set it right; to speak persuasively enough if any of his unjust actions are ever exposed, and to use force to whatever extent force is needed, because he has the courage and strength to do so, and because he is well supplied with friends and property. And having put an unjust person of this sort in place, we should set the just person alongside him, in our account; a simple, noble man who, as Aeschylus says, wishes to be good, and not just to seem so.

361C So we must take away this “seeming”, for if he is going to seem just, he will have honours and privileges because he seems to be this sort of person. Accordingly it won’t be clear whether he is the sort of person he is, for the sake of justice, or for the sake of the privileges and honours. So we should strip away everything else apart from justice, and make his situation the exact opposite of the previous fellow. For although he is doing nothing unjust, let him have an enormous reputation for injustice, so that he may be well tested in terms of justice, by resisting any softening in the face of a bad reputation, and whatever results from that. But let him persist unto death, 361D undeflected in his course, reputed to be unjust even though he is just, so that both men, having attained the pinnacle of justice in one case, and of injustice in the other, may be judged, to decide which of the two is happier.

My, my, dear Glaucon, said I, how thoroughly you clean up both men for judgement, as though they were two statues.

I am doing my best, said he, and since they are both like this, it will no longer be hard, in my view, to complete our account of the sort of life that’s in store 361E for each of them. So this should be described, Socrates, and in this case, if it is described in very crude terms, do not presume that I am the one who is saying this; no, it is the people who praise injustice above justice.

They will say that the just man, in this situation will be whipped, stretched on the rack, put in chains, have his eyes burned out, and finally, 362A having suffered all possible evils, he will be impaled, and will come to realise that one should not wish to be just, but to seem so. And the saying of Aeschylus, turns out to be much more applicable to the unjust man, for they maintain that in fact, the unjust man, since he is engaging in something that adheres to truth, and does not live his life according to mere seeming, he does not wish to seem unjust but to be so;

Enjoying the fruits of the deep furrow of thought

362B From which sagacious counsel is sprung.[1]

Firstly he rules in the city because he seems to be just, then he marries a wife from any family he wants, and gives his children in marriage to whomsoever he wants, does business with anyone he wishes, and as well as being benefitted by all of this, he also gains by having no scruples about doing injustice. So, in competitive situations in private or in public, they say he wins out and gets more than his enemies and is wealthy because he gets more, and so he does good to his 362C friends and harm to his enemies. And he makes sufficient sacrifices and offerings to the gods, magnificently, and serves the gods and any people he wants to, far better than the just man. As a result, they say, it is more appropriate, in all probability, that he be more beloved of the gods than the just man. On this basis, Socrates, they say that from the gods, and from his fellow man too, the life provided to the unjust person is better than what’s provided to the just.

362D When Glaucon had said all this, I had in mind to say something in response, but his brother, Adeimantus, said; you surely don’t imagine, Socrates, that enough has now been said about this argument?

But why not? said I.

The point, said he, that most needed to be made, has not been made.

In that case, said I, as the saying goes, “Let a brother be there for a brother”, and so you should come to his aid, if this man has left anything out. And yet, for my part, what he has said already is enough to floor me, and render me 362E incapable of coming to the assistance of justice.

You’re talking nonsense, said he. And yet, you should also listen to this: yes, it is necessary that we also go through the opposite arguments to the ones he recounted; arguments that praise justice, and censure injustice, so that the point I think Glaucon wishes to make, may be clarified.

Fathers, when speaking to their sons and offering them advice, and indeed, anyone 363A who cares for anyone, speak to them, presumably, about the need to be just, by praising, not justice itself, but the good reputation derived from it; saying that by seeming to be just, from the reputation alone, they may obtain high office, and the marriages and whatever else Glaucon listed just now, all from having a reputation for being just.

Yet these people have more to say on the subject of reputation. For when they throw in good reputation in the eyes of the gods, they describe a whole host of goods that they declare, are given by the gods to holy people; just as noble Hesiod, and 363B Homer too declare, in one case, that for the just people, the gods make oak trees;

Bear acorns in their topmost branches with swarms of bees below.

And he says;

Their woolly sheep are weighed down with fleeces.

And there are many other good things connected to these. In the other case, Homer says something similar;

as of some king who, as a blameless man and god-fearing,

and ruling as lord over many powerful people,

363C upholds the way of good government, and the black earth yields him

barley and wheat, his trees are heavy with fruit, his sheep flocks

continue to bear young, the sea gives him fish,[2]

But the goods that Musaeus and his son bestow upon the just people, from the gods, are more novel than these. In their account they lead them into Hades, and having set them reclining at a symposium of holy people, which they have prepared, 363D they crown them with garlands and make them spend their time thereafter in a drunken state, in the belief that the supreme reward for excellence is eternal drunkenness. Others extend the rewards from the gods even further than this, for they maintain that holy people who are faithful to their oaths, leave behind them a whole race; children and children’s children.

So in these respects and in others like these, they sing the praises of justice, while they sink the unholy and unjust people into some mire in Hades, and compel them to carry water in a sieve. And while they are still alive, 363E they bring them into evil repute, and they ascribe to these unjust people all the punishments that Glaucon listed for those who are just, but have a reputation for being unjust; but they have nothing else to say.

Such then is the praise and the censure associated with each; with the just and the unjust. But as well as these, Socrates, consider also the kind of arguments about justice and injustice, spoken by ordinary folk and by the poets. 364A For they all, with one voice, keep saying that justice and sound-mindedness are something glorious, but difficult, and hard work to attain, while lack of restraint and injustice are pleasant, and easy to attain, and only by opinion and convention are they a disgrace.

They say that unjust actions are, for the most part, more profitable than just ones, and they regard bad people who are wealthy, and generally powerful, as happy, and they have no scruples about honouring them in public and in private, while disrespecting 364B and looking down on those who are in some way weak or poor, even whilst agreeing that these are better people than the others.

But the most surprising of all these, are the arguments they present about the gods, and excellence, whereby the gods themselves allot misfortunes and a bad life to many good people, and an opposite fate to people of the opposite sort. And begging priests and soothsayers, going to the doors of the wealthy man, convince him that they have a power, provided by the gods through sacrifices and incantations, to make good any injustice committed 364C by himself or his ancestors, with pleasant festivities. And if he wants to bring ruin upon some enemy, with minimal expenditure on his part he may do harm to just and unjust alike, with certain incantations and spells, whereby they claim to persuade the gods to serve them. And they bring forth poets as supporting witnesses to all these arguments, some making the case that badness is easy because:

Badness is abundant and easy 364D to lay hold of.

The road is smooth and it dwells very close at hand.

But the gods have placed sweat in front of the path of excellence.

And a road that is long and rough and steep.[3]

Others bring in Homer as their witness that the gods are turned by humans, because he too said:

Even the gods themselves are moved by prayer.

By sacrifices and soothing vows,

364E Libations and burnt offerings,

Humanity turns the will of the gods;

Praying whenever someone has transgressed or gone astray.[4]

And they produce a confused array of books by Musaeus and Orpheus, the offspring of the Moon and of the Muses, they say, on the basis of which they perform their sacrificial rites, convincing not only private citizens but whole cities, that there are remissions and purifications of their unjust deeds available, through sacrifices and playful pleasantries, 365A to those who are still alive, and also to those who have died. These they call initiations, which deliver us from the evils of the other world, where horrors await those who have not performed the sacrifices.

Dear Socrates, said he, when all this is being said about excellence and badness, and the esteem in which they are held by gods and by humans, and when it is said so often, in these various ways, what do we think this will do to the souls of the young when they hear it; young people who are gifted, and up to the task of, as it were, flitting between all the various formulations, and working out from them the sort of person one 365B should be, and how one should behave in order to lead the very best life possible? Indeed he would be most likely to ask himself, after the manner of Pindar;

Shall I, by justice or by crooked deceit

Ascend the high wall and, thus fortified,

live out the rest of my life?

For according to what is being said, there is no advantage to me in being just, if I actually seem unjust; only trouble, and losses that are plain to be seen. But if I am unjust, and have secured a reputation for justice, a divinely sweet life is promised. 365C Therefore, since the wise explain to me, that seeming overpowers the truth and is lord of happiness, to this indeed should I turn, fully: I must sketch about myself a shadowy picture of excellence, as an exterior façade, whilst trailing the cunning, subtle fox of the all wise Archilochus behind me.

But surely, someone will declare, it’s not easy to be bad and go undetected, always. Indeed, we shall say; nothing else that’s worthwhile is an easy matter either. Nevertheless, 365D if we are going to enjoy happiness this is the path we must follow, since that’s the way the footprints of these arguments are leading us. So we shall form companies and associations in order to avoid being detected, and there are teachers of persuasion who, for a fee, impart the wisdom needed for public speaking and for winning lawsuits. Based on these, we shall use persuasion in some cases, and force in other cases, so that we may continue to get more, with impunity.

But, of course, someone might say, you do not go undetected by the gods, nor can you use force against them. But what if there are no gods, or human affairs don’t concern them at all, why should we, for our part, care about not being detected? If on the other hand, there are gods and they do care about us, 365E we know about them and have heard of them from no other sources than the laws and the genealogies of the poets: the very sources who are saying they are amenable to being turned and persuaded by sacrifices, soothing vows, and offerings. We must either believe both, or neither. Now if they are to be believed, then we should act unjustly and offer sacrifice 366A from the fruits of our unjust acts. For by being just, we shall merely go unpunished by the gods, but we shall forego the advantages born of injustice. However, by being unjust, we shall have the advantages and, by praying when we transgress or fall into error, we shall win them over and escape, unpunished.

But surely, someone may say, we shall pay a just penalty in Hades for whatever injustices we may have done here; either ourselves or our children’s children? But, my friend, he will reply, on reflection, the initiations, for their part, are extremely powerful, and so are the gods of deliverance, so 366B say the greatest cities, and the children of the gods who have become the gods’ poets and prophets, and who reveal that this is indeed the case.

Now, by what argument might we still choose justice, in preference to gross injustice, which we may attain along with a fraudulent seemliness, and act as we are minded to act, with gods and with humans, in life and after death, as the argument of most people and of the special folk too, proclaims? Indeed, from all that has been said, is there any way, 366C Socrates, that anyone, possessed of any intellectual, physical, financial or family power would be willing to revere justice, and not laugh when he hears it being praised? And so, if someone is able to demonstrate that what we have said is false, and has recognised, well enough, that justice is best, he has a lot of sympathy with those who are unjust, and is not angry with them. He knows, rather, that apart from someone who cannot bear to act unjustly because of a divine nature, or who refrains from it because of the knowledge he has acquired, 366D no one else is just, of their own free will. Rather they censure unjust action out of cowardice, old age or some other weakness, because they are powerless to enact it. This must be obvious, because the first such person, who attains the power to do so, is the first person to act unjustly, as much as he possibly can.

And there is no other cause of all this except the origin of this entire argument, directed by Glaucon and myself towards you, Socrates, to make the case that; “come on my wonderful man, of all of you who claim to be champions 366E of justice, beginning with the earliest heroes whose utterances are still with us, right down to human beings, today, no one, so far, has censured injustice, or praised justice on any other basis than reputation, esteem, and the advantages that derive from them. And no one, so far, either in poetry or in ordinary language, has described in a sufficiently detailed argument, what each does, itself, by its own power, when present in the soul of its possessors, unknown to gods and to men; an argument whereby injustice is the worst of all the evils that any soul can have within herself, 367A while justice is the greatest good. For if you had all described it in these terms, and convinced us of this from our earliest years, we would not have been acting as one another’s guardians, for fear we might behave unjustly, but each of us would, himself, be his own guardian, for fear that by acting unjustly, he would have to live with the worst evil of all.”

This, Socrates, and perhaps even more than this, is what Thrasymachus and anyone else too, I suppose, might say about justice and injustice, by crudely misrepresenting the power they possess, 367B in my opinion at any rate. But I, and I need to hide nothing from you, am speaking as forcefully as I possibly can, because I am eager to hear you expressing the opposite views. Don’t just show us, by your argument, that justice is stronger than injustice, but show what each of them, just by itself, is doing to their possessor, whereby one is bad, and the other good. And take away the reputations that go with them, as Glaucon directed you, for unless you take away the true reputations from each, and substitute the false ones, we shall say that you are not praising what’s just, but being reputed to be just, nor are you censuring what’s unjust, but being reputed to be so, and you are encouraging 367C us to be unjust without being noticed, and you are agreeing with Thrasymachus, that what’s just is someone else’s good, as it is the advantage of the stronger, while what’s unjust is to one’s own advantage, and it is profitable, but it is disadvantageous to the weaker.

Now since you have agreed that justice is among the greatest goods, those that are worth acquiring for the sake of all that comes from them, but much more so for themselves; goods like sight, hearing, intelligence and indeed, health, and whatever other goods are fruitful, by their own 367D nature, and not merely by opinion; you should therefore praise this particular aspect of justice which, in its own right, benefits its possessor, while injustice does him harm. Leave the rewards and the reputations for others to praise because, although I might put up with other people when they are praising justice, and censuring injustice, in this way, by extolling, or bewailing their associated reputations, and rewards, I won’t accept it from you, unless you order me to do so, because you have spent 367E your whole life considering this issue, and nothing else.

So don’t just show us, by our argument alone, that justice is stronger than injustice, but show what each of them, just by itself, is doing to their possessor, whether gods or humans notice this or not, whereby one is good and the other bad.

Now, although I had always admired the natural qualities of Glaucon and Adeimantus, nevertheless, when I heard them on this occasion I was utterly delighted, and I said: 368A you are worthy sons of your own father, and that admirer of Glaucon’s began his eulogy of you quite nicely, after you had distinguished yourselves at the battle of Megara, when he said;

Sons of Ariston, a godlike race is born of an illustrious man.

And I think this captures the point quite well, for you have been much influenced by the divine, if you are able to speak of injustice in these terms, without being convinced that it is better than justice. And it does seem to me that you are, in truth, unconvinced; 368B and my evidence for this is your character, in general, since, on the basis of your speeches themselves, I would have doubted you both. But the more I trust you, then the more I am at a loss as to how I should proceed, for I am not able to render any assistance. Indeed I seem to be incapable of doing so, as indicated by the fact that you have not accepted what I said to Thrasymachus, which, I thought, showed that justice is better than injustice. Nor again, am I capable of not rendering assistance, for I am afraid that it might be an unholy act 368C were I to be present when justice is being ill-spoken of, and fail her by not coming to her aid, while I still had life, and power of utterance. So, under the circumstances, it is best that I help her to the best of my ability.

Now Glaucon and the others too, begged me, in all sorts of ways, to render assistance, and not give up on the argument, but to examine, in detail, what each is, and where the truth really lies about the benefit of each. So I said what I was thinking; the inquiry we are undertaking is no ordinary one, said I, no, it calls for keen vision; that’s how it seems to me. 368D Now, since we are not clever people, I think we should conduct an investigation thereof, somewhat as follows: it’s as if someone had ordered us to read very small letters, from afar, when we are not very keen sighted, and someone then realised that the same letters are situated somewhere else, but larger, and on something larger. I think it would look like a godsend, to read the smaller letters after we have first read the larger ones, if they happened to be the same.

Yes, indeed, said Adeimantus, but how do you see anything of this sort in our inquiry into justice, 368E Socrates?

I’ll tell you, said I, we maintain that there is justice of an individual man, and also, presumably, of an entire city?

Certainly, said he.

Isn’t a city larger than an individual man?

Larger, said he.

Then, surely there would be more justice in the larger, and it would be easier 369A to apprehend. So, if you wish, let’s enquire into the sort of thing justice is, in the cities. Then, on this basis, we may consider it in one individual, thus considering the likeness of the larger in the character of the smaller.

Yes, I think that’s a good suggestion, said he.

In that case, said I, if we were to watch a city coming into being, in words, wouldn’t we also see the justice of the city coming into being, and its injustice too?

Quite likely, said he.

369BAnd once this had come into being, couldn’t we hope to see what we are seeking more easily?

Very much so.

So do you think we should attempt to proceed with this? For I think this is no small task; so give it some consideration.

It has been considered, said Adeimantus, and it simply must be done.

Well, said I, a city comes into being, as I see it, because none of us are actually self-sufficient, indeed we all fall short of this in many respects: or do you think there is some other principle for the foundation of a city?

Not at all, he replied.

369C And so it is that one person associates with another person, for one purpose, and with someone else for a different purpose, and since we all have many needs, we assemble people together into a single dwelling place, as associates and helpers, and to this shared abode we give the name “city”. Is this so?

Entirely so.

Does one person, then, give a share to another, if he does so, or does he get a share, on the assumption that this is better for himself?

Very much so.

Come on then, said I, let’s make a city, from the beginning, in words. And it seems that our own needs will be making it.

Of course.

369D And indeed the first and greatest of needs is for the provision of food, so that we may exist and live.

Entirely so.

The second is for housing and the third is for clothing and such like.

That’s it.

Come on, said I, what size city will be sufficient to provide for as many needs as this? Won’t there be one farmer, a house builder too, and someone else who is a weaver? Or should we also add a shoemaker to it, or someone else who looks after bodily needs?

Entirely so.

In any case, as a necessary minimum, a city would consist of four or five men.

369E So it appears.

What then? Should each one of them place his own work at the joint disposal of everyone else? Should the farmer, for instance, one man, provide food for the other four, and spend four times the time and the effort in providing food which he shares with the others? Or should he pay them no attention, and produce a quarter of the food 370A for himself in a quarter of the time, spending the remaining three quarters in providing a house, clothing and some shoes, without having to bother about sharing with others, and attend to his own concerns, just by himself?

And Adeimantus replied, the first way, Socrates, is probably easier than that.

That’s nothing strange, said I. Indeed, now that you say so, 370Bit also occurs to me that in the first place, each of us is not naturally similar to each, rather we differ in nature; so one person is suited to one task, another to another task. Don’t you think so?

I do.

What about this? Would someone, one person, fare better by practising a lot of skills, or is it better when one person practises one skill?

When one practises one, said he.

Then again, I believe it is also obvious that if we neglect the right moment for some task, it comes to naught.

Yes, that is obvious.

Indeed, in my view, that’s because what’s to be done is not prepared to wait about until the person who is to do it has the time, 370C no, the person needs to attend closely to what’s to be done; not partially, as a secondary task.

Yes, he needs to.

On this basis, then, more is accomplished, better, and more easily, when one person does one thing that accords with his nature, at the right moment, free of involvement in anything else.

Entirely so.

Then, Adeimantus, more than four citizens are needed to provide all the services we were speaking of. For the farmer, it seems, will not make his own plough, himself, if it’s to be a good one, nor his mattock 370D either, nor any of the other tools required for farming. This applies to the house builder too, who also needs a lot of tools, as does the weaver and shoe-maker.


So carpenters, blacksmiths, and many craftsmen of this sort are becoming partners of our little city, and they will make it quite populous.

Yes, certainly.

And it still wouldn’t be very large if we were to add oxherds and shepherds to their number, and other herdsmen, so that the farmers 370E would have oxen for ploughing, and the house builders, and farmers too, would have beasts of burden to use for carrying loads, and the weavers and shoemakers would have leather and wool.

Indeed, said he, it wouldn’t be a small city if it contained all these either.

And what’s more, said I, it will be well nigh impossible to found the city itself, in a place where there will be no need of imported goods.

Impossible, indeed.

So there will be a further need for even more people, who will import whatever is needed from other cities.

There will.

And indeed, if our agent goes empty handed, bringing nothing which the other cities need, 371A goods they would import, goods they themselves need, he will return empty handed. Is this so?

I think so.

Then they need to produce, at home, not just enough for themselves but also enough of the sort of goods that are needed by the cities they depend upon.

Yes, they need to.

So our city needs more farmers and other artificers.

Yes, more.

Then I presume we shall also need additional agents, who will import and export the goods in each case. These people are traders, aren’t they?


Then we shall also need traders.

Very much so.

371B And if the trading is to take place by sea, then there will be a further need for a lot more people who are knowledgeable about sea faring.

A lot more, indeed.

And what happens in the city itself? How will each category share the products of their labour with one another? This was after all the very reason we founded our city, and established a community.

Obviously, said he, through buying and selling.

Then a market-place will arise from this, and a system of currency to facilitate the exchange.

Yes, certainly.

371C Now if the farmer, or one of the other artificers, brings something he has produced along to the market-place, and does not arrive at the same time as those who want to exchange what he has with him, will he sit about in the market place, idle, not occupied with his own work?

Not at all, said he. There are people who see this situation and take on this function, themselves; in cities that are properly managed they are, in general, the least able bodied folk, unsuited to involvement in any other work. For they need to wait about in the market-place, 371D and exchange money for goods with people who wish to sell something and, again, goods for money with those who wish to buy something.

So this particular need, said I, is what gives rise to retailers in our city. Or don’t we call those who set themselves up in the market-place to act as agents for buying and selling, retailers, while referring to those who travel from city to city as traders.

Yes, certainly.

And there are still others too, I believe; agents who, when it comes to intellectual 371E matters, are not really worthy of our community. And yet, they possess enough physical strength for manual labour. So they sell the use of their strength, referring to their reward as a wage, and that’s why they are called wage-earners, I suppose. Is this so?


Then wage-earners also fill out the population of our city.

I think so.

Well then, Adeimantus, at this stage, has our city grown to full size?


So where exactly would justice and injustice be in this city, and did it arise at the same time as one of the groups we have been considering?

372A I have no idea, Socrates, said he, unless perhaps it is in the need of the groups themselves, for one another.

And perhaps you have a good point, said I, and we really should investigate it and not hold back. So let’s first consider the manner of life of people who are provided for in this way. Won’t they make bread, wine, clothing and shoes? And having built their houses they will work, for the most part, naked and unshod in summer, and in winter they will be clothed and shod 372B well enough. They will be fed on meal and flour from the barley and wheat they are provided with; baking and kneading noble cakes and loaves which they serve up on some reeds or clean leaves, as they recline on rustic beds, strewn with yew and myrtle; feasting themselves and their children, then drinking their wine, with garlands on their heads as they sing the praises of the gods; delighting in one another’s 372C company and not begetting children beyond their resources to support them, being wary of poverty and war.

Then Glaucon interjected; it seems, said he, that you are making these men partake of a feast, devoid of relish.

What you say is true, said I. I had forgotten that they will also have relish; salt, of course, olives and cheese too, and they will boil up onions and greens, as people in the countryside do. And we shall also provide them with desserts, I suppose, of figs, pulses 372D and beans, and they will roast myrtle berries and acorns by the fire, sipping their wine in moderation. And so will they live out their lives, in peace and health, and when, as is likely, they die in old age, they will bequeath another such life to their descendants.

Well, Socrates, said he: if you were providing for a city of pigs, what else would you feed the beasts with?

But how should it be done, Glaucon? I asked.

In the conventional manner, said he: people who aren’t going to be in discomfort should, I believe, recline on couches, dine 372E at tables and have various relishes available to them, the very ones they have nowadays, and desserts too.

Very well, said I, I understand. It seems we are not just considering how a city comes into existence, but how a luxurious city does so. And perhaps that’s not a bad development either, for by considering something like this, we may perhaps discern how exactly justice and injustice develop in a city. Now, I think the true city is the one we have been describing, a healthy one, in a sense; but if you still want to, let’s look at a city in a feverish state, there’s no reason not to. In fact, 373A for some people, it seems, all this is not sufficient, nor is the lifestyle itself; they will add couches, tables and other furniture, relishes of course, perfumes, incense, courtesans, and cakes, each in endless variety. And what’s more, all that we first mentioned, housing, clothing and shoes, should no longer be designated as our necessities; no, we should also get painting underway, embroidery too, and we should acquire gold, ivory, and everything else like that. Is this so?

Yes, said he.

373B In that case, won’t our city need to be made bigger again? Indeed that healthy city is no longer sufficient; it already needs to be filled out in size, with lots of things that are no longer in cities for the sake of necessity; with hunters of all sorts, for instance, imitators too, many of them concerned with shapes and colours, many concerned with music; poets too and those who serve them as rhapsodes, actors, chorus members and contractors, and artificers of a whole variety of articles for general use, 373C and indeed, for female adornment. And so we shall also require more of these agents; people who look after children, wet nurses, nurses, beauticians, barbers, people to make the relishes, and cooks. And we shall still need to include swineherds, since there were none in our previous city because it didn’t need them, however, they will need to be included in this city. And it will also need a whole host of other beasts, if they are to be eaten.


373D Once we live in this way, won’t we also have a requirement for far more doctors than were needed in the previous city.

Far more.

And presumably our territory that was once sufficient to feed the population at the time,

will then become too small, and sufficient no longer. Is this the case?

Quite so, said he.

In that case, we shall have to cut off a slice of our neighbour’s territory if we are to have enough land to pasture and plough. They, in turn, will do the same to ours, if they too give themselves over to the unbridled acquisition 373E of wealth, exceeding the limit of the necessities.

That’s quite inevitable, Socrates, said he.

What follows then is that we shall wage war; is this what will happen?

Just so, said he.

And, said I, we really should not say anything yet as to whether war accomplishes anything good or anything bad either. Let’s just say this much; that we have also discovered the origin of war in the sources from which, for the most part, bad things occur in the cities, when they occur, at the level of the individual or the society.

Yes, certainly.

Then our city must be even larger, not a little larger, but larger by an entire 374A army that will go forth and fight against our adversaries, in defence of all that wealth, and whatever else we referred to just now.

Why is that? said he. Are the citizens themselves not up to the task?

Not if you and the rest of us were right to agree, when we were fashioning our city, that it is impossible for one person to practise a number of skills and do it well. I presume you remember.

What you say is true, said he.

374B Well now, said I, don’t you think that warfare and combat is a skilled activity?

Very much so, said he.

So does the skill of shoemaking deserve more care than that of warfare?

Not at all.

Well then, we prevented the shoemaker from attempting to be either a farmer, a weaver or a house builder, at the same time, rather than just being a shoemaker, so that we would then have the job of shoemaking done properly. And we assigned one task to each of the others, in like manner, the one for which each was naturally 374C suited, and which he was going to work at throughout his life, free from involvement in other tasks, and not missing the appropriate moment for carrying out the task well.

So then, in the case of warfare, isn’t it of the utmost importance that this be carried out well? Or is it so easy that whilst engaged in farming, someone may be skilled in warfare at the same time, and be practising any other skill at all, although there is no one who could be sufficiently skilled, even at playing draughts or dice, who did not pursue this alone, from childhood, rather than treating it as a pastime? And will someone who grabs a shield or some 374D other piece of military equipment or weaponry, be a competent combatant in warfare, as a hoplite, or in some other form of combat, there and then? Grabbing any of the other tools won’t make anyone a craftsman or an athlete, nor will they be of use to someone who has not got the knowledge in each case, and has not given it sufficient practise.

If that were the case, said he, the tools would be of enormous value.

374E Then, insofar as the work of the guardians[5] is the most important work, shouldn’t it, to that extent, be unencumbered by any other duties, and indeed require the utmost skill and attention?

Yes, I think so, said he.

In that case, won’t it also require a nature suited to the activity itself?

Of course.

Then it will be our job, it seems, if we are up to it, to pick whatever natures and whatever kinds of natures, are suited to the guardianship of our city.

Our job, indeed.

By Zeus, said I, we have not taken on some insignificant task: nevertheless, as long as our powers don’t fail us we mustn’t lose heart.

375A Indeed we must not, said he.

When it comes to guardianship, said I, do you think there is any difference, in nature, between a noble young hound and a well-born young man?

In what sense do you mean?

For instance, each of them, presumably, needs to be keen of sense, and nimble in pursuit as soon as they perceive something; strong too, if they need to fight it out with whatever they catch.

Yes, all of this is needed, said he.

And of course they’ll need courage too, if they are to fight well.

Of course.

Now would a horse, a dog,375B or any living creature at all, that is not spirited, be prepared to exhibit courage? Or have you not noticed that when irresistible and invincible spirit is present in any soul, she is fearless in the face of anything, and unconquerable too?

I have noticed.

Well it is obvious what the guardian should be like in bodily attributes.


And in the case of the soul, it should obviously be spirited.

That too.

So, Glaucon, said I, how will they avoid being aggressive towards one another and to the other citizens, when they are people of this sort, by nature?

Not easily, by Zeus, he replied.

375C And yet, they need to be gentle towards their own people, and harsh towards their enemies, or else they won’t have to wait about until other people destroy them; no, they’ll do it themselves first.

True, said he.

So, what shall we do? Where shall we find a character that is at once, gentle, and great in spirit? For the gentle nature is presumably opposite to the spirited.


And yet, if someone were deprived of either of these qualities he would never make a good guardian, and yet it seems impossible to have them both, and consequently it turns out that 375D it is impossible to be a good guardian.

That’s likely, said he.

I was perplexed and having reconsidered what had gone before, I said: it’s only right that we are in perplexity, since we have abandoned the image we were proposing.

What do you mean?

We did not notice that there are, after all, natures that possess these opposite qualities, natures we thought didn’t exist.


They may be seen in animals in general, and particularly in the one we were comparing to the guardian. Indeed you know, I presume, that in the case of noble dogs, 375E their natural disposition is to be as gentle as they possibly can towards familiar people and those whom they recognise, and the very opposite towards those they don’t recognise.

I know indeed.

So this is not impossible after all, and what we are looking for in a guardian is not contrary to nature.

It seems not.

Now in addition to being spirited, do you think our prospective guardian also needs to become a philosopher, in his nature?

376A In what way? He asked. I don’t understand.

This too, said I, is something you will discern in dogs, and it is worthy of admiration in the animals.

What is it?

That when he sees someone he doesn’t recognise, he is aggressive even before he has suffered any harm, but when he sees someone he recognises, he welcomes them, even if they haven’t yet done him any good. Have you never admired this before?

I haven’t really given it much attention ‘till now, said he, but it is somehow obvious that he does this.

376B And yet, this is evidently a delightful characteristic of his nature, and a truly philosophic one.

In what way?

In that he distinguishes, said I, on sight, between friend and foe, on the sole basis of having knowledge of the former, and being ignorant of the latter. Indeed how could he not be a lover of learning, when he makes a distinction between his own, and what’s alien, based upon knowledge and ignorance?

Of course, how could he not be?

And surely, said I, the lover of learning and the lover of wisdom are the same?

The same, indeed, said he.

Should we therefore propose, with confidence, in the case of a human being too, that someone who is going to be gentle to 376C his own, and to people he knows, needs to be a philosopher and a lover of learning.

Let’s propose this, said he.

Then someone who is to be a noble and good guardian of the city will, according to us, be a philosopher who is spirited, swift and strong by nature.

Entirely so, said he.

Since he would be a person of this sort, in what manner will such people be reared and educated by us? And is the consideration of this question of any use to us in bringing clarity to the question that lies behind all 376D our considerations; in what manner do justice and injustice arise in a city? We don’t want the argument to be inadequate, or to make it too protracted either.

And Glaucon’s brother said; yes, I expect that this particular consideration will help in this.

By Zeus, friend Adeimantus, said I, in that case we should not give up, even if it turns out to be a lengthy consideration.

We should not, indeed.

Come on then, let’s educate these men, in words, as though we were telling a story, and had ample leisure to do so.

We should.

376E So, what would their education consist of? Or is it hard to find anything better than what has been discovered with the passage of time? This, I presume, consists of physical training for the body, and music for the soul.

It does indeed.

Well then, shall we start educating them in music prior to the physical training?

Why not?

And as part of music, said I, do you include verbal accounts?

I do.

Are there two kinds of accounts; one true, the other false?


377A Should they be educated in both, beginning with the false ones?

I don’t understand what you are saying, said he.

Don’t you understand that we tell stories to children, at first? These, I presume, are, generally speaking false, although there is truth in them too. And we make use of these stories with children before the physical training.

This is so.

Well that’s what I meant when I said that music should be taken up, before physical training.

Rightly so, said he.

Don’t you know that the beginning of any work is most important, especially in the case of anything young 377B and tender, since that is when it is most malleable, and the imprint one may wish to impress upon it sinks in?

Yes, exactly.

So shall we allow the children to hear any random stories, composed by anyone at all, and take beliefs into their soul that are, for the most part, opposite to the ones we’ll think they should have, once they have come of age?

No, we shall not allow this at all.

377C Firstly, then, it seems we must watch over those who make up the stories, and we must accept whatever is well made, and reject whatever is not well made, and we shall persuade the nurses and the mothers to tell the accepted stories to the children and shape their souls with these, rather than shaping their bodies with their hands. But most of the stories that they tell nowadays should be rejected.

What kind of stories? He asked.

In looking at the greater stories, said I, we shall also be looking at the lesser ones. For the greater and the lesser should indeed have the same character and the same capacity; don’t you think so?

377D I do, said he, but I don’t understand what you mean by the greater ones.

The ones that both Hesiod and Homer told us, and the other poets too. Since these men presumably composed false stories which they recounted to mankind, and they still do.

What kind of stories, said he, and what aspect of them are you criticising?

The aspect, said I, which deserves most criticism, primarily, especially if someone tells the falsehoods in an ignoble manner.

What is this?

377E It occurs when someone presents an image, in words, describing what the gods and heroes are like, in an ignoble manner, like a painter who paints something that bears no resemblance to whatever he wishes to paint a likeness of.

Yes, indeed, said he, it’s only right to criticise this sort of thing. But how is this done, and what are the falsehoods like?

First and foremost is the greatest falsehood of all, concerning the greatest personages of all, a falsehood that its narrator recounts in an ignoble manner, whereby Uranus performed the deeds that Hesiod says he performed, and Cronos, in turn, took revenge 378A on him. But the deeds of Cronos, in particular, and what he suffered at the hands of his son, these, even if they were true, should not, I believe, be recounted freely and easily to unreflective young folk. No, they are best kept quiet, and if someone does need to relate them, they should be heard in secret, by as few people as possible, after sacrificing, not some common piglet but an enormous beast that is hard to procure, so that the least possible number of people get to hear them.

Yes, indeed, said he, these accounts really are hard to take.

378B Yes, and they shouldn’t be told, said I, in this city of ours, Adeimantus. Nor should it be said within earshot of the young, that there is nothing out of the ordinary in acting unjustly in the extreme, nor again, in punishing a father for his unjust actions, in all sorts of ways, since in so doing he would be doing what the foremost and most important gods have done.

No, by Zeus, said he, I myself don’t think they are suitable material either.

Nor, said I, should it be said that gods are at war with gods, and are scheming 378C and fighting since this is not true either. Indeed if we want those who are to guard our city to consider it a disgrace to hate one another, easily, then we should not tell or depict stories of the battles of gods and giants, far from it, or stories of a whole variety of other enmities of gods and heroes with their kindred and family members. But if we are somehow going to persuade them that no citizen, so far, has hated another citizen, and that it is unholy to do so, then this sort of thing must indeed be said to the young, by old men 378D and women, and as they get older, the poets should be compelled to compose speeches for them, making a similar point.

Stories of Hera being tied up by her son, and Hephaestus being flung out of heaven by his father for trying to defend his mother when she was being beaten, and any battles of the gods that Homer has made up, these should not be admitted into our city, whether they have a deeper meaning or not. For the young person is unable to distinguish what is a deeper meaning and what is not, and whatever he incorporates 378E into his beliefs at that age, tends to become difficult to eradicate or undo. Surely then, for all these reasons we should ensure, above all, that the very first stories they hear, are the noblest stories they could possibly hear for the development of excellence.

Yes, that makes sense, said he. But if someone were to press the point and ask us what we are referring to, and what the stories are, what stories would we mention?

And I said: at the moment, Adeimantus, you 379A and I are not poets but founders of a city. Now it is appropriate that the founders know the guidelines, within which the poets should compose stories, and from which they should not deviate when they are composing. But it is not appropriate that the founders themselves make up stories.

That’s right, said he, but the question is; what would be the guidelines in relation to descriptions of the gods?

Somewhat as follows, I presume, said I: the god should, of course, always be portrayed as he really is, whether a poet presents him in an epic, a lyric, or in a tragic work.

Yes, he should.

379BAnd since the god is actually good, shouldn’t he be spoken of as such?

Of course.

And indeed, nothing that is good is harmful, is it?

I don’t think so.

Now, can that which is not harmful do any harm?

Not at all.

And can that which is not harmful do anything bad?

No, it can’t do that either.

Yes, and whatever does nothing bad could not be the cause of anything bad either; could it?

No, how could it?

What about that which is good; is it beneficial?


In that case is it the cause of things going well?


So what’s good is not the cause of everything, no, it is the cause of all that is well, but it is not the cause of anything bad.

379C Entirely so, said he.

So since the god is good, he would not be the cause of everything, as most people say; no, to humanity, he is the cause of very little and there is a great deal he is not responsible for. Indeed, with us, what’s bad far exceeds what’s good, and we should declare that no one else is the cause of what’s good except the god, and we should seek elsewhere for the causes of what’s bad and not blame the god.

I think, said he, that what you are saying is entirely true.

In that case, said I, we should not accept, from Homer or any other poets, 379D this error about the gods, whereby he foolishly makes the mistake of saying that two pitchers:

Stand on the floor of Zeus’ abode

They are filled with fates;

One with good, the other with wretched.

And he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of both

Sometimes meets with bad; sometimes with good.

But he to whom Zeus gives, from the second jar, unmixed;

Foul misery drives him over the divine earth.

379E Nor that Zeus is our steward of “good and bad alike”.

As for Pandaros and the violation of oaths and truces, if anyone says that Athena and Zeus brought this about, they won’t receive our praise, 380A nor if they say that strife and contention of gods was caused by Themis and Zeus, nor indeed should we allow the young to hear, as Aeschylus maintains, that:

God implants the cause in mortal men,

When he wants to utterly destroy a house.

If someone includes these lines in a play about the sufferings of Niobe, or of the family of Pelops, or of the Trojan war, or anything else like that, he should not be allowed to say that these are brought about by a god, and if they are to say this, they must come up with an argument, similar to the one we are looking for, and declare380Bthat the god was doing what was just and good, and the sufferers derived benefit from being chastised. But the poet should not be allowed to say that those who paid this penalty were wretched, and the one who did all this was a god. But if he were to say that they were in need of chastisement because bad people are wretched and derive benefit from being made pay a penalty by the god; that should be allowed. But the statement that a god is the cause of bad to anyone who is good, must be opposed. We must do battle, by every possible means, against anyone saying this in his own city, if that city is to be 380C well governed, or against anyone, young or old, even hearing such stories told, in verse or in prose, because if they were spoken they would be unholy utterances, of no advantage to us, not even concordant with themselves.

On this law, said he, I am casting my vote with you, and I am pleased to do so.

Well, said I, this would be one of the laws and guidelines concerning gods, on the basis of which the speakers will have to speak, and the poets write their poems; the god is not the cause of everything but only of what’s good.

And that, said he, is surely enough.

380D Well what about a second one, as follows; do you think that the god is a beguiler who can contrive to appear in different forms at different times; sometimes actually changing his own form and passing into various shapes, at other times deceiving us and making us believe that this sort of thing is happening to him? Or is the god simple, and least likely of all to go away from his own form?

I am unable, said he, to give you a direct answer at the moment.

What about this? If anything is to depart from its own form 380E mustn’t it be changed either by itself or by something else?

It must.

Isn’t it the case that whatever is in the best condition is least subject to alteration and change by something else? For example, although a body is altered by food, drink and physical work, and any plant is altered by sunlight, the wind and other influences of this sort, the one that is healthiest and strongest is least 381A subject to alteration, isn’t it?

Of course.

And wouldn’t the bravest and most reflective soul be least troubled and subject to alteration by some external influence?


And presumably in the case of all manufactured items too, equipment, buildings or garments, by the same argument, those that are well made and in good condition are least liable to alteration by the passage of time, and any other influences.

Yes, this is so.

381B Then anything that is in good condition, by nature or by design or both, is most resistant to transformation by something else.

So it seems.

But surely the god and what belongs to the god is in the best possible condition, in every way?

Of course.

So in this respect, the god would be least inclined to adopt a lot of shapes.

Least, indeed.

In that case, would he himself transform and alter himself?

Of course, said he, if he is actually altered.

So does he change himself into something better and nobler, or into something worse and more base than himself?

If he actually changes, said he, it must be into something worse, for we surely shall not maintain that the god is deficient 381C either in nobility or excellence.

What you are saying is absolutely correct, said I, and this being the case, do you think, Adeimantus, that anyone, god or man, would willingly make himself worse, in any respect?

Impossible, said he.

So it seems impossible, said I, even for a god, to wish to change himself; rather, being as noble and excellent as it is possible to be, each of them always remains eternally in his own shape, purely and simply.

Well, that seems absolutely necessary to me.

So, best of men, said I, none of the poets 381D should tell us that:

Gods in the likeness of strangers

Assume all sorts of disguises, as they visit our cities.

Nor speak falsely of Proteus and Thetis, nor introduce Hera in a tragedy, or any other works, transforming herself into a priestess, gathering alms for:

            The life-giving sons of Inachos, the river of Argos.

381E And there are many other falsehoods of this sort that they should not tell us. Nor again, should mothers, misled by these fellows, terrify their children by telling them bad stories in which some gods actually go about at night looking like various strangers of all sorts; lest the mothers speak ill of the gods and, at the same time, make their children more cowardly.

No, they shouldn’t do that, said he.

But is it the case, said I, that although the gods themselves cannot undergo transformation, they make us think that they appear in lots of different guises, thus deceiving and beguiling us?

Perhaps, said he.

382A What about this? said I. Would a god be prepared to practise deception, either in word or in deed, by putting forth an appearance?

I don’t know, said he.

Don’t you know, said I, that the true falsehood, if I may use such an expression, is hated by all gods and all humans?

How do you mean? he asked.

As follows, said I; no one is prepared, willingly, to be deceived in what is presumably the most important part of themselves, about the most important matters; no, we are afraid, most of all, to have falsehood reside there.

I still don’t understand, said he.

382B That’s because you think I am saying something profound, said I. I am just saying that being deceived in the soul in relation to things that are, and to have been deceived, and be ignorant, and hold falsehood there, and have it reside there, is what everyone would find least acceptable, and it is in this case that they most detest falsehood.

Very much so, said he.

Then what I was saying just now was quite right; this ignorance in the soul of the person who is deceived may be called a true lie; for the falsehood in words is an imitation of the experience in the soul, 382C an image that has arisen subsequently, and so it is not unadulterated falsehood. Isn’t this so?

Entirely so.

Then the actual falsehood is hated not alone by the god but by humanity too.

I think so.

But what about the falsehood in words; when and for whom is this useful, so that it doesn’t merit our hatred? Isn’t it when it is used against enemies, or when people we call friends, through madness or ignorance, are attempting to do some bad deed, and falsehood then becomes useful, 382D as a sort of medicine, in order to prevent this? And in the stories we were speaking of just now, because we don’t know the truth concerning events of the distant past, don’t we make falsehood resemble the truth as best we can, and render it useful by so doing?

Yes, indeed, said he, that’s what happens.

So then, in which respect would the falsehood be useful to the god? Is it because he doesn’t know about past events, and therefore makes up falsehoods that resemble them?

That would be quite ridiculous, said he.

In that case, there is nothing of the deceiving poet in a god.

I don’t think so.

Would he make up falsehoods because he’s afraid of his enemies?

382E Far from it.

Would he do it because of ignorance or madness among those who are close to him?

No, said he, no one who is ignorant or mad is beloved of god.

So there is no reason for the god to make up falsehoods.

There is not.

So divinity and the divine are entirely devoid of falsehood.

Entirely so, said he.

So the god is absolutely simple and true, in word and in deed, and he neither changes himself nor deceives others, awake or in a dream, through appearances, words or signs.

383A Now that you say so, said he, that’s how it looks to me too.

In that case, do you agree that this is a second guideline by which we should speak and write poems about the gods? They are not enchanters who transform themselves, nor do they lead us astray with falsehoods through their words or their actions.

I agree.

So although we praise a great deal that is in Homer, we shall not praise the part where Zeus sends that dream to Agamemnon, nor shall we praise Aeschylus when he has Thetis say that Apollo sang at her 383B wedding “to celebrate her goodly race of children”;

Their days prolonged, from pain and sickness free,

And rounding out the tale of heaven’s blessings,

Raised the proud paean, making glad my heart.

And I believed that Phoebus’ mouth divine,

Filled with the breath of prophecy, could not lie.

But he himself, the singer, himself who sat

At meat with us, himself who promised all,

Is now himself the slayer of my son.[6]

383C Whenever someone says anything like this about the gods, we shall be angry with him and refuse to grant a chorus, nor shall we allow teachers to make use of this for the education of the young folk, if our guardians are going to become as god-revering and divine as it is possible for a human being to be.

I agree entirely with these guidelines, said he, and I would use them as laws.

End Book 2



386A Well, said I, these are the sort of things that should be heard about the gods, and the sort that should not, from their earliest childhood, by those who are to show respect for the gods and for their own parents, and not make light of their friendship with one another.

Yes, said he, and I think we are now looking at this in the right way.

But what if they are to be courageous? Mustn’t they be told these stories and also the kind of thing that will make them least afraid of death? Or do you think 386B anyone would become courageous whilst harbouring this fear within himself?

By Zeus, said he, I do not.

What about this? Do you think anyone who believes in Hades and its horrors will be fearless in the face of death and will choose death in battle in preference to defeat and slavery?

Not at all.

It seems then that we should also supervise those who turn their hand to telling these stories, and implore them not to speak ill of Hades’ realm, in such a simplistic manner but, rather, to praise it, since what they are now telling us is neither true, 386C nor beneficial to those who are to become fighting men.

We should indeed, said he.

So we shall erase everything of this sort, beginning with the following verses:

I would rather follow the plow as thrall to another man,

one with no land allotted him and not much to live on,

than be a king over all the perished dead.[7]

386D And

the houses of the dead lie open to men and immortals,

ghastly and moldering, so the very gods shudder before them;[8]


Oh, wonder! Even in the house of Hades there is left something,

a soul and an image, but there is no real heart of life in it.[9]

And this

To whom alone Persephone has granted intelligence

even after death, but the rest of them are flittering shadows.[10]


…and the soul fluttering free of his limbs went down into Death’s house

mourning her destiny, leaving youth and manhood behind her.[11]

387A And this

…but the spirit went underground, like vapour,[12]


And as when bats in the depth of an awful cave flitter

and gibber, when one of them has fallen out of his place in

the chain that the bats have formed by holding one on another;

so, gibbering, they went their way together,[13]

387B And we shall ask Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike out these verses and others like them, not because they are unpoetic, or unpleasant for most people to hear, but because the more poetic they are, the less they should be heard by the young, and by men who need to be free, and more afraid of slavery than of death.

Entirely so.

What’s more, shouldn’t all the terrible, frightening 387C names associated with these realms be abolished too; names like Cocytus and Styx, “the dead” and “those beneath the earth”, and other names of this type that make anyone who hears them tremble? Perhaps they are good for some other purpose, but we are afraid that as a result of such trembling, our guardians may become more excitable and softer than needs be.

And we would be right to be afraid, said he.

Should they be excluded?


Then words that have the opposite effect should be used, in common parlance and in poetry?

Of course.

387D Shall we also remove the lamentations and wailings of the famous men?

We must, said he, in the light of the previous exclusions.

Then, said I, let’s consider whether we are right to remove them. We maintain that a reasonable man won’t think that dying is a terrible thing to happen to another reasonable man, who is also his friend.

We maintain this, indeed.

So he would not lament, at least not for that man, as though something terrible had befallen him.

Certainly not.

In that case, we are also saying, that as regards living well, a person like this is most sufficient unto himself 387E and, in contrast to other people, he is least dependent on anyone else.

True, said he.

So, to him, it is least terrible to be deprived of a son, or a brother, or money, or anything else like that.

Least, indeed.

So whenever some such misfortune overtakes him, he laments least, and bears it with the utmost gentleness.

Very much so.

We would be right then, to take these dirges away from men of reputation, and we might give them to women, but not to women of substance, 388A and to bad men, so that those whom we say we are rearing as guardians of their own country will be disgusted at the prospect of behaving like such people.

We would be right, said he.

Once again, then, we shall ask Homer, and the other poets, not to have Achilles, the son of a Goddess:

Lying now on his side, then

again on his back, then face down,

then standing upright and

roaming, distraught along the

388B shore of the unharvested ocean.[14]

Nor say;

In both hands he caught up the grimy dust, and poured it over his head and face.[15]

Nor have him generally wailing and lamenting in the whole variety of ways that the poet makes him behave. Nor should he say Priam, a near relation of the gods, was making entreaties and:

…wallowed in the muck before them calling on each man and naming him by his name[16]

But it is even more important that we ask them, in particular, not to have gods lamenting and saying:

Ah me, my sorrow, the bitterness in this best of child-bearing,[17]

And even if he makes gods act like this, he certainly mustn’t dare to portray the greatest of the gods so inaccurately that he says:

“Ah me, this is a man beloved whom now my eyes watch

being chased around the wall; my heart is mourning for Hektor.[18]


388D “Ah me, that it is destined that the dearest of men, Sarpedon,

must go down under the hands of Menoitios’ son Patroklos.[19]

For, dear Adeimantus, if our young folk were to listen seriously to this sort of thing, and not deride these as unworthy utterances, they would hardly regard such behaviour as unworthy of mere mortals like themselves, if it also occurs to them to say or do something like this. Instead they would exhibit neither shame nor restraint in singing dirges and laments aplenty at the slightest mishap.

What you are saying is very true, said he.

388E Well we don’t want that, as the argument indicated to us just now; an argument in which we should place our trust until someone convinces us otherwise with a better one.

Indeed, we don’t want that.

Indeed not, nor should they be too fond of laughter either. For whenever someone yields to violent laughter, this sort of thing involves a violent change.

I think so, said he.

So if someone portrays any human being, worthy of note, as overcome by laughter, 389A that is unacceptable, and it is even more unacceptable in the case of gods.

More unacceptable indeed, said he.

In that case we shall not accept, anything like the following verses about the gods, even from Homer:

But among the blessed immortals uncontrollable laughter

went up as they saw Hephaistos bustling about the palace.[20]

According to our argument these should be rejected.

389B You may attribute that to me if you wish, said he. In any case it should not be accepted.

But of course we must attach great importance to truth. Indeed if we were right to say earlier, that although falsehood is really of no use to gods, it is still useful to humans as a kind of medicine, then it is obvious that something like this should be entrusted to physicians, and that private citizens should have no involvement with it.

Obviously, he said.

It is appropriate then, for those who rule our city, if anyone, to tell falsehoods, in dealing with the citizens or in dealing with enemies, for the benefit of the city, while it is not appropriate for anyone else to be involved in something of this sort. 389C But for a private citizen to be false towards the rulers, in particular, is, we shall maintain the same, indeed a greater error, than not speaking the truth to a physician when ill or to a trainer during a training programme, about the condition of his own body, or not informing a steersman about what’s actually going on regarding the ship and the sailors, or his own level of experience, or that of his fellow sailors.

Very true, said he.

389D So if the ruler catches anyone else in the city, lying, whether:

He is one who works for the people, either a prophet, or a healer of sickness, or a

skilled workman,[21]

he will punish them for introducing a practice that overturns and destroys the city, just like a ship.

Yes, said he, if word is matched by deeds.

What about sound-mindedness, then; won’t our young folk need this?

Of course.

And for most people don’t the most important aspects of sound-mindedness consist in being obedient to their rulers 389E and being rulers, themselves, over the pleasures of drink, sex and food.

Yes, I think so.

Then I think we shall declare that the sort of thing that Diomedes says in Homer, is well said:

Friend, stay quiet rather and do as I tell you;[22]

And the connected lines,

But the Achaian men went silently, breathing valour,

…, in fear of their commanders; [23]

And anything else of this sort.

Very well.

What about lines like these?

“You wine sack, with a dog’s eyes, with a deer’s heart…[24]

390A And the lines that follow; are these, and any other insolent remarks directed by private citizens against their rulers, either in verse or in prose, good?

They are not good.

Indeed I don‘t think they are appropriate for the young folk to hear, not with a view to sound-mindedness, at any rate. Yet if they provide some other pleasure, that’s no surprise: how does this look to you?

As you say, said he.

And what if he makes the most sound-minded of men say that he thinks the most beautiful moment of all is when:

…the tables are loaded with bread 390B and meats, and from the mixing bowl the wine steward draws the wine and carries it about and fills the cups. [25]

Do you think these lines are suitable for a young person to hear, for developing self-control? Or indeed:

All deaths are detestable for wretched mortals,

but hunger is the sorriest way to die.[26]

Or about Zeus, awake, alone, while the other gods, and humans too, are sleeping, quickly forgetting 390C all the plans he had made, because of sexual desire; being so overcome at the sight of Hera that he couldn’t even wait to get into their chamber but wanted to have intercourse with her, there and then, on the ground; saying that he was never in the grip of such desire, not even when they first consorted together:

“Unbeknownst to their dear parents.”

Nor about Ares and Aphrodite being tied up by Hephaestus for similar reasons.

No, by Zeus, said he, that doesn’t seem suitable to me.

390D But if some feats of endurance in the face of all sorts of trials, are spoken of, and enacted by famous men; these should be seen and heard by our young folk.

For example:

He struck himself on the chest and spoke to his heart and scolded it:

‘Bear up, my heart. You have had worse to endure before this’[27]

Entirely so, said he.

Nor indeed should we allow such men to be corruptible by bribes or 390E fond of money. So no one should sing the line that says:

Gifts move the gods and gifts persuade dread kings.[28]

Nor should we praise Achilles’ teacher, Phoenix, as setting the standard when he advised him to accept gifts in return for assisting the Achaeans, and not to abate his wrath if no gifts were forthcoming. We shall not deem Achilles himself worthy of this, nor shall we accept that he was so fond of money as to take bribes 391A from Agamemnon, or indeed, to release a dead body if he was paid, but not otherwise.

No, said he, it wouldn’t really be right to praise this sort of thing.

And I am reluctant, said I, for Homer’s sake, to declare that it is unholy to say all this about Achilles, or to believe it when others say so, or indeed that he said to Apollo:

“You have balked me, striker from afar, most malignant of all gods,

Else I would punish you, if only the strength were in me.”[29]

391B Or that he was disrespectful of the river, a god, and was prepared to do battle against him, or again, that although his own locks were already promised to the other river, Spercheius, he said:

“I would give my hair into the keeping of the hero Patroclus”[30]

even though Patroclus was a corpse. We should not believe that Achilles did this. And we shall deny that the dragging of Hector’s body around the tomb of Patroclus, and the slaughter of the prisoners of war over his funeral pyre is true. Nor shall we allow our charges 391C to be convinced that Achilles, the son of a goddess and of Peleus who was the most sound-minded of men, a grandson of Zeus, reared by the all-wise Cheiron, was so full of confusion as to harbour within himself two opposed diseases; a love of money that ill becomes a free man, and an arrogance towards gods and men alike.

You are right, said he.

Then we should not believe them, said I, nor should we believe, nor allow it to be said, 391D that Theseus, the son of Poseidon, and Perithous, son of Zeus, embarked upon such awful abductions, nor that any other child of a god and a hero would dare to enact awful, impious deeds; the sort that are falsely attributed to them nowadays. Rather, we shall compel the poets to declare, either that the deeds were not theirs, or that those who performed them were not the children of gods; but they must not make both statements. Nor should they attempt to persuade our young folk that the gods give rise to evil, or that heroes are no better than mortal men. For as we were saying 391E before, these claims are neither pious, nor are they true. Indeed we have shown, I presume, that it is impossible for evils to come from the gods.

Of course.

And what’s more, they are harmful to those who hear them since anyone will forgive himself for being bad once he is convinced that such deeds are performed and have been performed by:

The near-sown seed of gods,

Close kin to Zeus, for whom on Ida’s top

Ancestral altars flame to highest heaven,

Nor in their life-blood fails the fire divine.[31]

That’s why we should put a stop to stories of this sort, lest they engender a total indifference 392A to degenerate behaviour, in our young folk.

Yes, precisely, said he.

So, said I, now that we are defining the kind of accounts that should be delivered, and the kind that should not, is there anything we have left out? We have said how the gods, daimons and heroes should be spoken of, and those in Hades too.

Yes, indeed.

So, what’s left would be concerned with humans, wouldn’t it?


But, my friend, it is impossible for us to arrange this at the moment.

Why so?

Because I think we shall simply affirm that poets and prose writers do indeed speak ill 392B of human beings on matters of the utmost importance. They say that although they are unjust, many of them are happy, while the just people are wretched; that acting unjustly is profitable as long as it goes undetected, while justice is what’s good for someone else, but inimical to your own interests. And I think we shall forbid them to say this sort of thing, and direct them instead to sing and tell stories that say the exact opposite; don’t you think so?

I know full well, said he.

In that case, if you concede that what I am saying is correct, may I claim that you have made concessions on the issues we have been investigating all along?

392C Correct, said he, you have understood.

Now once we find out the sort of thing justice is, and how it is naturally beneficial to its possessor, regardless of whether he seems to be just or not, we shall then come to agreement on the sort of accounts that should be given about human beings, but not until then.

Very true, said he.

Well, let that be the end of our discussion of speeches and, in my opinion, we should consider speech itself next. Then our consideration of what should be said, and how it should be said will be a comprehensive one.

Then Adeimantus said; I don’t understand what you mean by this.

392D Well you do need to understand, said I. Perhaps you will get a better sense of it from the following: isn’t everything that storytellers or poets say, a narrative of events that have happened, are happening, or are going to happen?

Yes, what else could it be? said he.

Yes, and don’t they proceed either by simple narrative, by narrative that takes place through imitation, or through both?

I still need to understand this more clearly, he said.

I seem, said I, to be a ridiculous teacher, devoid of clarity. 392E So like those who are unable to express themselves, I shall attempt to show you what I mean, not in full, but by taking a particular part of it. Tell me then, do you know the initial verses of the Illiad where the poet says that Chryses begged Agamemnon to set his daughter free, but that Agamemnon was angry, and so Chryses, since he had been unsuccessful, called down curses 393A from the god, upon the Achaeans?

I do indeed.

Then you know that up to the lines:

… he supplicated all the Achaians,

But above all Atreus’ two sons, the marshals of the people:[32]

the poet himself is speaking, and he does not even attempt to give us the impression that anyone else is speaking except himself. But in the lines that follow these, he speaks as if he himself is Chryses, and he attempts, as best he can, to make us 393B think that the speaker is not Homer but the priest, an old man. And all of the rest of the narrative, about events at Troy and Ithica, and the entire Odyssey, has, for the most part, been composed in this way.

Yes, indeed, said he.

Now it is narrative, isn’t it, on the occasions when he is speaking the speeches, and also when there is an interval between speeches?

Of course.

But when he delivers a speech as though he were someone else, won’t we then say that, as best he can, he is making his own speech resemble 393C that of the person whom he tells us is about to speak?

We shall say so; what of it?

Doesn’t the process of making oneself resemble another person, either in speech or in outward appearance, mean imitating the person one is making oneself resemble?


So in a case like this, it seems that Homer and the other poets construct the narrative through imitation.

Entirely so.

But if the poet were not to hide himself, anywhere, the entire poetic narrative would have proceeded without imitation. 393D And in case you say, once more, that you don’t understand, I’ll tell you how this may happen. Indeed if Homer were to begin by saying that Chryses arrived as a supplicant of the Achaeans, and particularly of their king, bringing his daughter’s ransom, and he was to speak thereafter, still as Homer, and not as if he had become Chryses, you know that that would not be imitation but simple narrative. It would proceed somewhat as follows; I’ll deliver it in prose since I am no poet.

When the priest 393E arrived, he prayed that the gods would grant them safe passage home once they had captured Troy, and that they would accept the ransom, and free his daughter out of reverence to the god. Once he had said all this, everyone else was respectful and co-operative, but Agamemnon was annoyed, and he ordered him to depart, there and then, never to return, or else his sceptre, and the garlands of his god, would not be enough to protect him. And he said, that before he would release Chryses’ daughter she would grow old with him 394A in Argos, and he ordered him to go away and not provoke him if he wanted to return home safely. The old man was terrified when he heard this, and he departed in silence, but once he was out of the Archaean camp, he prayed profusely to Apollo, invoking the many names of the god, and issuing reminders, asking to be repaid if any gifts he had ever given had pleased the god, either through building temples or sacrificing animals. In return for these, he prayed that the Achaeans would pay the price of his tears with the arrows of the god.

394B That, my friend, said I, is how a simple narrative proceeds, in the absence of imitation.

I understand, said he.

Then you should understand, said I, that the exact opposite of this occurs when someone removes the intervening words of the poet himself, and leaves only the exchanges between the speakers.

I understand this too, said he; this is the sort of thing that occurs in tragedies.

You’re quite right, said I, you have understood, and I think I am now clarifying, for you, what I could not clarify previously; that some poetry and storytelling proceeds entirely through imitation, 394C including, as you say, tragedy and comedy; the kind that proceeds through reports by the poet himself, you would find, for the most part, in dithyrambic poems, while the kind that employs both, is found in epic poetry, and in numerous other places too, if you understand me.

Yes, said he, I now follow what you wanted to say then.

And do you also recollect what went before, when we maintained that, although we have already explained what should be said, we still need to consider how it should be said.

Yes, I remember.

394D Well this is the point I was making, that we need to come to an agreement on whether we shall allow the poets to compose narratives for us by using imitation, or allow them to imitate in some cases but not in others, and the sort of cases we envisage, or, indeed, not allow them to imitate at all.

I get the sense, said he, that you are considering whether we shall admit tragedy and comedy into our city or not.

Perhaps, said I, and perhaps even more than these. In fact, I don’t know yet, but we should go in whatever direction the wind of the argument carries us.

Yes, said he, you put that nicely.

394E Well, Adeimantus, reflect upon this; should our guardians be imitators or not? Or does this also follow from what we said before; that each particular person would be good at engaging in one particular pursuit, and not in many, and if he should attempt to turn his hand to lots of pursuits, he would fail to achieve distinction in any of them.

Of course it does.

Doesn’t the same argument apply also to imitation; it is not possible for the same person to imitate many things as well as he can imitate one thing?

Indeed not.

395A In that case, he will hardly engage in any pursuit worth mentioning and, simultaneously, be an imitator, imitating lots of things, when the same people cannot even do a good job of simultaneously producing two imitations that seem as closely related, as comedy and tragedy, for instance; you did refer to these two as imitations, didn’t you?

I did, and what you are saying is true: the same people cannot compose both.

Nor indeed can they be good rhapsodes, and good actors at the same time.


395B And the same people cannot be good actors in comedy and in tragedy too; and all these are imitations; aren’t they?


And it seems to me that human nature has been cut up into even smaller pieces than these, so that it is incapable of imitating many things properly, or of properly enacting the very things that those imitations resemble.

Very true, said he.

So, if we are going to save our initial argument whereby our guardians, set apart from all the other artificers, 395C should be artificers of the freedom of the city, in the strictest sense, and engage in no other pursuit that does not lead in this direction, then it is necessary that they neither enact nor imitate anything else. And if they are to imitate anything, they should, from their earliest childhood, imitate only what is appropriate to these artificers of freedom; men who are courageous, sound-minded, pious, free, and everything of this sort. But they will not enact, nor be clever at imitating, anything devoid of freedom, nor anything else that is shameful, in case they proceed from enjoying the imitation, to enjoying the reality. Or haven’t you noticed, that imitations 395D that are continued from our earliest years and beyond, become established as habits and as nature, at the level of body, speech, and indeed, of thought?

Very much so, said he.

Then those whom we claim to care for, men who should themselves become good men, these we shall not permit to imitate a woman, old or young, railing against her husband, in conflict with gods, being boastful about it, and believing herself to be a happy 395E woman; or when she is overtaken by misfortune, grief, or lamentation, and especially not when she is sick, in love, or in labour.

Absolutely, said he.

Nor should they imitate slaves, male or female, doing what slaves do.

No, they shouldn’t imitate this either.

Nor bad men either, it seems; nor cowards and those who do the very opposite of what we have said; reviling and ridiculing one another, using foul language, when drunk or even when sober, full of the errors that such people fall into, in what they say or do to themselves or others. And I think they should not develop the habit of behaving like mad people, in word or in deed; for although they should be able to recognise mad and degenerate men and women, they should not do anything these people do, nor should they imitate them.

Very true, said he.

Well, said I, should they imitate metal workers, or those who row triremes, or those who shout orders to the rowers, or anything else 396B about these?

Indeed, said he, how could they? They are not allowed to pay any heed to these matters at all.

What about horses neighing, bulls bellowing, rivers rippling, the sea roaring, thunder too, and indeed, everything of this sort; will they imitate these?

No, said he, they have been forbidden either to be mad or to imitate mad people.

In that case, said I, if I understand what you are saying, there is a particular form of speech 396C and narrative in which the truly noble and good person would tell the story whenever he had to say something, and there is also another form, unlike this one, that someone, opposite to this man in nature and upbringing, would hold to, and in which he would tell the story.

And what are these? he asked.

I think, said I, that the moderate man, when it comes to the point in his narrative where there is some speech or action of a good man, will be willing to present this as though he himself was that person, and he will not be ashamed of this sort of imitation, especially when imitating 396D a man acting resolutely and intelligently, and less so, and to a lesser extent, as he succumbs to disease, passion, drunkenness or some other affliction. But when it comes to someone unworthy of himself, he will not be prepared, seriously, to make himself like this inferior person, except perhaps briefly, whenever he does something useful. Rather he will be ashamed of being so unpractised at imitating people like this, and disgusted too at the prospect of moulding and adapting himself to the behaviour of people who are worse than himself; unless it is just for fun, he is 396E repulsed by the very thought.

Quite likely, said he.

So, won’t he make use of the kind of narrative we described earlier when speaking of Homeric epic, and although his own speech will involve both imitation and the other form of narrative, won’t imitation be a small part of the overall discourse? Or am I talking nonsense?

This makes a lot of sense; this must be the type for a speaker like this.

397A Someone, said I, who, by contrast, is not like this, the more debased he is, the more inclined he is to include everything in the narrative, and he will deem nothing unworthy of himself. So he will attempt, seriously, and before large audiences, to imitate everything, including what we mentioned just now; thunder, the noise of wind, hail, axels and pulleys, the notes of flutes, of pipes and all instruments, and even the sounds 397B of dogs, sheep, and birds. And in that case, will all of this person’s exposition be through imitation by voice, and by gesture, or will it include a small element of simple narrative?

It must include this too, said he.

Well, said I, these are the two forms of exposition I was speaking of.

They are indeed, said he.

Now doesn’t one of these forms involve only minor variations, and once someone imparts an appropriate harmony and rhythm to the exposition, since the variations are minor, doesn’t the person who delivers it correctly, deliver it, largely, according to the same harmony, a single harmony, and indeed in a rhythm that matches it, in like manner.

397C Yes, precisely, said he, that’s how matters stand.

And what about the other form? Doesn’t it require the very opposite; all the harmonies and all the rhythms, if it too is going to be delivered in its own way, because it has such a huge variety of forms?

Yes, this too is very much how matters stand.

In that case, do all the poets, or anyone who says anything, fall into one or the other of these two types of exposition, or make up some mixture of them both?

They must, said he.

397D So, what shall we do? said I. Shall we admit all of these into our city, or one of the unmixed ones, or the mixed one?

If I am to prevail, said he, it will be the unmixed imitator of the noble person.

And yet, said I, the mixed one is pleasing, and what’s most pleasing of all to children, and to people responsible for them, and to the broad mass of people, is the very opposite of what you are choosing.

Most pleasing, indeed.

But perhaps you would maintain, said I; that this would not fit in with our 397E constitution, because there is no twofold man among us or a manifold one either, since each engages in only one thing.

Indeed not, this would not fit in.

And isn’t that the reason why a city like this is the only one where we shall find the shoemaker being a shoemaker and not being a helmsman as well as making shoes, and the farmer being a farmer and not being a juror as well as farming his land, and the soldier being a soldier and not being a businessman as well as acting as a soldier, and so on for everything else.

True, said he.

398A Then it seems that if a man whose wisdom enables him to take on every possible shape, and to imitate anything at all, were to arrive in our city, anxious to put himself and his poems on show, we would fall down before him as though he were a sacred object, a wondrous and pleasing one at that. But we would say that there is no one else of this sort among the citizens of our city, nor is it permitted that there ever shall be. We would anoint his head with myrrh, and give him a garland of wool, but for our own benefit, we would, ourselves, employ the more severe and less pleasing poet 398B and story-teller, who would imitate the exposition of the noble man for us, and he would deliver the speeches in accord with those types we ordained by law when we first set about educating our soldiers.

Yes indeed, said he, that’s what we would do if it were up to us.

Well, my friend, said I, at this stage, the aspect of music that concerns speeches and stories has probably been bought to a conclusion, fully, since we have described what should be said and also how it should be said.

Yes, I think so too, said he.

398C After this, said I, what remains is the aspect that concerns song and melody, and their manner.

Of course.

Well couldn’t anyone at all discover by now what we must say about them, and what they need to be like if we are going to be in harmony with what we said previously?

And Glaucon said, with a laugh; well Socrates, I’m afraid I’m not included in this “anyone at all.” At the moment, at any rate, I am not really up to the task of deciding the sort of things we should be saying; although I do have my suspicions.

Surely, said I, you are fully up to the task of saying, firstly, 398D that melody is composed of three things combined; speech, harmony and rhythm.

Yes, said he, this at least.

Well, insofar as it is speech, it does not differ at all from speech that is not sung; it needs to be delivered according to the same types we prescribed earlier, and in a similar manner, doesn’t it?

True, said he.

And indeed, the harmony and rhythm should follow the speech.

Of course.

But we did say that in the case of speeches, we do not need to include dirges and lamentations.

Of course not.

398E Well, since you are musical, tell me: what are the dirge-like harmonies?

The mixed Lydian harmony, said he, and the taut Lydian, and some others like these.

Shouldn’t these be taken away? said I, since they are not even useful to women who are to be reasonable, let alone to men.


And indeed, drunkenness, softness, and idleness in our guardians is most unseemly.

Of course.

So what harmonies are soft, and suited to drinking parties?

Ionic harmonies, said he, and also some Lydian harmonies that are called “loose.”

399A Well, my friend, could you make use of these for military men?

Not at all, said he, indeed it looks as if you only have the Doric and Phrygian harmonies left.

I don’t know these harmonies, said I, but please leave one harmony which would appropriately imitate the sound and tone of voice of a courageous man, engaged in military activities, or in any use of force; a man who, even in failure, or when wounded, or facing death, 399B or when some other misfortune befalls him, confronts the situation with steadfast endurance. And leave another one for this man when he is engaged in peaceful activity that is devoid of force, and voluntary; persuading or imploring someone, either by praying to a god, or instructing or admonishing his fellow man, or when the roles are reversed, and he himself submits to someone else who is asking him for something, or instructing him, or persuading him to change his mind; acting according to his own mind in all these, without being boastful; conducting himself 399C with sound-mindedness and measure, always prepared to accept the outcomes. So leave these two harmonies, one forceful, the other voluntary that will best imitate the utterances of sound-minded courageous men as they succeed and as they fail in their purpose.

Well, said he, you are simply asking me to leave the ones I just mentioned.

Therefore, said I, we shan’t need to include many-stringed instruments that play all of the harmonies, in our songs and melodies.

No, said he, not as I see it.

Then we shall not encourage artificers of triangles, harps and all the other many-stringed instruments 399D that play in lots of harmonies.

Apparently not.

What about flute makers and flute players, shall we also admit them into our city? Or isn’t the flute “many-stringed” in the extreme, and aren’t the very instruments that play all of the harmonies just imitations of the flute?

Of course, said he.

Then the lyre and the cithara are left for use in the city, and in the countryside there would be pipes of some sort for the shepherds.

Well, said he, that’s what our argument is indicating.

We are not really doing anything new, said I; just preferring Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and the instruments that belong to him.

By Zeus, said he, it seems we are not.

By the dog, said I, without noticing it, we have been thoroughly purifying the city again; the one we called luxurious a moment ago.

Well we are being sound-minded, said he.

Come on then, said I, let’s also purify whatever is left. Yes, indeed, after harmony we have the matter of rhythm, and we should not pursue complicated or variegated rhythmic units; we should, rather, look for 400A the rhythms of a life which is orderly and courageous. Once we have seen these, the metrical foot must be made to follow the speech of such a person, and so should the melody, but the speech must not follow the foot and the melody. But it’s your job to state what these rhythms are, just as you did with the harmonies.

Well, by Zeus, said he, I cannot say. And although I can say, from observation, that there are three forms from which all rhythms are woven, just as there are four sounds which are the source of all harmonies, I cannot say what sort of life each imitates.

400B Well, said I, we shall take advice from Damon on these, and on which rhythms are suited to absence of freedom, to aggression and to madness, and what rhythms are to be left for their opposites. I am not clear about this, but I think I have heard him referring to some military rhythm as a compound, and as a dactyl and as heroic. I do not know how he arranged it, but up and down were made equal, passing into short and long, and I think he called one “iambic”, and the other one 400C “trochaic”, and he assigned long and short to each. And in some of these he censured, or indeed praised, the tempo of the foot no less than the rhythms themselves, or else some combination of both. But as I said, we should refer all this to Damon. For a decision on this would involve a lengthy discussion, or do you think otherwise?

By Zeus, I do not.

But we can decide that grace, and lack of grace, follow good rhythm, and lack of rhythm.

Of course.

And indeed, good rhythm follows beautiful speech 400D and resembles it, while lack of rhythm follows the opposite. And the same goes for good harmony, and lack of harmony, if rhythm and harmony do indeed follow speech, as we said earlier, and speech does not follow them.

But of course, said he, these must follow the speech.

But what about the manner of speaking, said I, and the speech itself? Don’t these follow the disposition of the soul?

Of course.

And everything else follows the speech?


So good speech, harmony and grace, and good rhythm, 400E follow good disposition, not what is referred to as a good disposition as a euphemism for silliness, but a mind truly endowed with a good and noble disposition.

Yes, entirely so, said he.

Well, mustn’t these be pursued everywhere by our young people if they are to enact what is their own?

Yes, these must be pursued.

401A And surely painting and any craftsmanship of this sort is full of these, weaving is also full of them, house building too, and indeed, all production of any other items; even the nature of bodies and of anything else that grows: for good grace and absence of grace is inherent in all these. Indeed the lack of grace, rhythm and harmony are the close kindred of bad speech and bad disposition, and the opposites are the close kindred and imitations of its opposite; a sound-minded and good disposition.

Entirely so, said he.

401B Well then, should we only oversee the poets, and compel them to portray the image of the good disposition in their poems, or else compose nothing in our city? Or should we also oversee the other artificers, and prevent them from portraying this bad disposition, the unrestrained one, devoid of freedom and grace, either in images of living creatures, or on buildings, or in anything else they produce? And if they cannot comply, should we stop them from plying their trade in our city, in case our guardians, feeding on images of evil, in an evil pasture, grazing freely, day by day, gradually 401C picking up a great deal from many different sources, unwittingly accumulate a single great evil in their own soul? Should we search, rather, for those craftsmen who are naturally capable of seeking out the noble and graceful nature, so that our young folk, as though dwelling in a healthy region, may derive benefit from everything that impinges upon their sight or their hearing, from the noble works of the place, like a breeze that bears health from a wholesome region, and leads them, unwittingly, from their earliest childhood, to resemble 401D noble discourse, and enjoy friendship and concord therewith?

Yes, said he, that would be the best way to rear them; very much so.

Well then, Glaucon, said I, isn’t this why being reared in music is of supreme importance; because rhythm and harmony, more than anything else, sink into the innermost soul and fasten most powerfully upon her, bringing good grace and making her gracious, provided the person has been reared aright, 401E and having the opposite effect otherwise? And it is also of supreme importance because the person who has been reared in this, as he should be, would quickly discern any deficiencies in whatever has not been well made, or well wrought by nature, and being rightly dissatisfied, he would praise, and delight in whatever is good, receive this into his soul, and being nourished thereby, he would become 402A noble and good. And he would rightly criticise whatever is base, and he would hate it, even as a child, before he was capable of understanding speech, and when speech had finally come, someone reared in this way would welcome it, most of all, recognising it because of its familiarity.

Yes, said he, I think it’s for reasons of this sort that upbringing in music exists.

So it’s like when we had an adequate understanding of reading and writing, once we noticed that the individual letters, few in number, keep recurring in all of the words they occur in: we showed the same regard for them, whether they were observed in long 402B words or short words, for we were eager to recognise them, fully, everywhere, because we were never going to be knowledgeable until we were able to do this.


And we won’t recognise images of letters that appear somehow in water or in mirrors until we have first recognised the letters themselves, but both involve the same skill and practice

Entirely so.

Well then, said I, by the gods, can I say, that in like manner, we shall not become 402C musicians, neither ourselves nor these guardians we say we should educate, unless we can first recognise the forms of sound-mindedness, of courage, of freedom, of high-mindedness, and all that is akin to these, and indeed, all the opposites of these, everywhere, in all the various places they appear, and be aware of their presence wherever they are present, themselves and their images too, and show the same regard for minor instances, as for major instances, because we believe that the skill and the practice is the same in each case?

This must be so, said he, very much so.

402D Well then, said I, if beautiful qualities that are internal, in the soul, coincide in the external form, and are in agreement and concord with those others, and share the same type, wouldn’t that be the most beautiful sight of all for anyone with eyes to behold it?

Very much so.

And indeed what’s most beautiful is most loveable?

Of course.

Then the musical person would love people who are most like this, and would not love someone who lacked such concordance.

He would not, said he, not if the deficiency related to the soul. However, if the deficiency was something related to the body, he would accept this and be prepared to embrace him.

402E I understand, said I, that you have a favourite like this, or you once had one, and I accept your point. But tell me this; do sound-mindedness and excessive pleasure have anything in common?

How could they, said he, when excessive pleasure, no less than excessive pain, drives a person out of their mind?

Does it have anything in common with excellence in general?

403A Not at all.

What about violence and lack of restraint?

Least of all.

And can you name any pleasure greater or more intense than sexual pleasure?

I cannot, said he, or a more manic pleasure either.

But doesn’t right love, love the orderly and the beautiful, and love them sound-mindedly and musically?

Very much so, said he.

So should anything manic, or anything akin to a lack of restraint be involved in right love?

No, they should not be involved.

403B So this particular pleasure should not be involved, nor should a lover and beloved, who love and are loved in the right way, have any share in it.

No, by Zeus, Socrates, said he, it should not be involved.

And so, it seems, you will establish laws for the city we are founding, that a lover is to kiss, consort with, and touch his favourite, as a father would his son, for beauty’s sake, and only with his consent. And in general, that a lover is to associate with anyone he is interested in, in such a way that their relationship will never seem to go beyond 403C this; or else he will come in for criticism as an unmusical fellow with no sense of beauty.

Quite so, said he.

Well now, said I, does it look to you as though our account dealing with music is at an end? At any rate, it has ended where it should end; surely considerations of music should end in considerations of love of the beautiful.

I agree, said he.

After music then, the young folk should be brought up in gymnastics.


403D Then they should also be brought up, systematically in this, beginning in childhood and continuing through life. And it consists, I believe, in the following; see if you agree. Indeed I am not of the view that if a body is sound, it makes a soul good, by the body’s own excellence, but on the contrary, a good soul renders a body as good as it can possibly be, by her own excellence. Is that your view too?

That is how I see it, said he.

Well, would we be doing the right thing if we were to care for the mind properly, and then trust it to determine precisely what the body needs, while we provide instruction on the general guidelines, 403E so that we don’t have to give a lengthy account?

Entirely so.

Well, we said that guardians must avoid drunkenness; for a guardian is surely the last person we would allow to get drunk, and not know where on earth he is.

Yes, said he, it would be absurd that a guardian would need another guardian to look after him.

Well then, what about their food? Indeed these men are athletes in a contest of the utmost importance, aren’t they?


404A In that case would the condition of our modern athletes be suitable to these men?


But, said I, this is a somewhat drowsy condition, and it is perilous to their health. Or don’t you see that they sleep their lives away, and that the athletes themselves really become violently ill if they depart, even a little, from the prescribed way of life?

Yes, I see this.

Then there is a need for some more refined training for our warrior athletes, who need to be like sleepless hounds whose sight and hearing are as keen as they can possibly be, able to undergo lots of 404B changes on military campaigns, changes of water, of their general diet, of summer and of winter, without their health being in peril.

Apparently so.

Now would the best upbringing in gymnastics be closely related to the musical upbringing we described a little earlier?

What do you mean?

An appropriate gymnastic is also simple, I presume, especially in the case of warfare.

In what way?

You could, said I, even learn this sort of thing from Homer. For you know, that on campaign, at the feasts of the heroes, he does not feast them on 404C fish, even though they are by the sea, on the Hellespont, or on boiled meat, but only on roast meat which is easier for soldiers to provide, since, generally speaking, it is easier to arrange to use a simple fire than to carry cooking equipment around with you.

Very much so.

Nor indeed does Homer ever mention sauces. And doesn’t anyone who is in training know that if his body is to be in good condition, he should abstain from everything of this sort.

Yes, they know, said he, and they abstain, and rightly so.

404D And if you think these are right, my friend, it seems you won’t praise Syracusan cuisine or Sicilian cookery in all its variety.

I think not.

Then you won’t recommend a Corinthian maiden as a lady friend for men whose body is to be in good condition.

Absolutely not.

Nor the famed delights of Attic pastries?

I must agree.

Yes, and on the whole, I think, we could liken a diet and a lifestyle of this sort, to melody and song that employs all the modes and all the rhythms,404E and the comparison would be correct.

Of course.

Didn’t variety engender lack of restraint in that case, while in this case it engenders disease, and simplicity in music engenders sound-mindedness in souls, while simplicity in physical training engenders health in bodies.

Very true, said he.

405A And when lack of restraint, and diseases, multiply in a city, don’t law courts and medical centres open their doors in large numbers, while courtroom oratory and medical skill take on a great solemnity, as lots of people, even free men, get extremely serious about them?

What else are they to do?

But can we get any greater evidence of the bad and disgraceful system of education in a city, than the fact that first rate physicians, and legal practitioners, are needed, not only by the ordinary folk and the manual labourers, but also by those who pretend to have been brought up 405B in the guise of free men? Or don’t you think it is a disgrace, and strong evidence of a lack of education, to be compelled to use justice brought in from other people, who act as your masters and judges, because you don’t have any resources of your own?

It’s the most disgraceful thing of all, said he.

Or do you think, said he, that it’s even more disgraceful when someone, not alone spends most his time defending himself, or prosecuting others in court, but is even persuaded, because he has no sense of nobility, to pride himself on this very fact; on being clever when it comes to acting unjustly, 405C and well up to the task of exploring every twist and turn, and every possible escape route, to wriggle his way out, and avoid facing justice; doing all this for the sake of worthless trivia, ignorant of how much better and more noble it would be to provide himself with a life that did not depend upon the somnolence of a juror.

No, said he, this is even more disgraceful than the other example.

And don’t you think it’s a disgrace to need a physician, not because of injuries or some 405D seasonal diseases you have caught, but due to idleness and the sort of lifestyle we were describing; being filled with fluids and gases like some sort of swamp, compelling the refined Asclepiads to come up with names for diseases, such as flatulences and catarrhs.

Yes, indeed, said he, these really are novel and unusual names for diseases.

The sort of diseases, said I, that in my view did not exist in Asclepius’ time. My evidence for this is that at Troy, his own sons did not find fault with the women who gave Pramnian wine sprinkled lavishly with barley and grated cheese, to the wounded 405E Eurypylus, 406A even though these are believed to produce inflammation; nor did they criticise Patroclus who was responsible for the treatment.

Yes, said he; that certainly was a strange potion for someone in that predicament.

Not if you recognise, said I, that this fostering of diseases, that is fashionable in modern medicine, was not used by the Asclepiads of former times, not until Herodicus arrived on the scene. But Herodicus was a physical trainer, and when he himself fell ill, he mixed his physical training with medicine, 406B and tormented himself, first and foremost, and then did the same to lots of other people.

In what way? he asked.

He turned his own death, said I, into a lengthy process. For although he paid minute attention to the disease, which was a fatal one, he was, I believe, unable to cure himself, and he lived his entire life under medical treatment, with no time for anything else, tormented if he departed at all from his usual lifestyle; so struggling against death, aided by his wisdom, he managed to reach old age.

So, said he, he won a beautiful prize from his skill.

406C A fitting prize, said I, for someone who failed to recognise that Asclepius was not ignorant or lacking experience in this form of medicine when he didn’t teach it to his offspring. Rather, he knew that everyone living under good laws is each assigned a single task in the city, which he must work at, and no one has time to spend his life being ill and being treated for an illness. And it is laughable that we are aware of this in the case of the craftsmen, and do not notice it in the case of the wealthy people, who are regarded as fortunate.

How so? said he.

Well, said I, when a carpenter is ill, he expects the physician to give him medicine 406D to drink as an emetic for the disease, or apply a purgative, or to get rid of it by burning or cutting. But if someone prescribes a lengthy regimen for him, placing felt hats on his head, and so on, he quickly says that he has no time to be ill, nor is it worth his while to live in that way, preoccupied with a disease, and neglecting the function that is in front of him. With that 406E he bids farewell to physicians of this sort, resumes his usual lifestyle, and either gets healthy and lives on, doing his own work, or else, if his body can’t take the strain, he dies and is quit of his troubles.

Well, that seems to be the proper approach to medical treatment for someone like this.

407A So, said I,was that because he had a function to perform, and it was not worth his while being alive if he did not perform it?

Of course, said he.

But the wealthy man, so we say, has no function of this sort set before him; one that makes life unlivable if he is compelled to give it up.

Indeed not; that’s what people say, at any rate.

Yes, that’s because you don’t listen to Phocylides who says that once someone has a livelihood he should practise excellence.

Yes, said he, and I think they should do so even before then.

Let’s not fight with him about this, said I, instead let’s teach ourselves whether a wealthy person should practise this, and whether life is worth living 407B for someone who does not do so; or is the fostering of diseases an impediment to the application of the mind to carpentry and the other skills, while it does not prevent us from adhering to the injunction of Phocylides.

Yes, by Zeus, said he. Excessive attention to the body, beyond simple physical training, is almost the greatest impediment of them all; in fact, it is troublesome in running a household, in military campaigns, and in positions of authority in the city.

But then, what’s most significant is that it makes any kind 407C of learning, reflection, or attention to oneself, hard. It is constantly suspecting some tension or dizziness of the head, and blaming this on philosophy, and so it acts as a total impediment to practising and testing excellence in this way. For it constantly makes a person believe he is sick, and makes him agonise incessantly about his body.

Quite likely, said he.

Should we maintain that Asclepius recognised all this too: there are those whose bodies are naturally healthy and have a healthy lifestyle, but have contracted some specific 407D disease; and it was for these people, in this condition, that he devised medicine, for getting rid of diseases through drugs and surgery, prescribing their accustomed lifestyle so that he wouldn’t damage the public affairs of the city? While in the case of bodies that are diseased through and through, he did not attempt to contrive a long, bad life for the person, by gradually pouring things in, and draining things out, enabling him in all likelihood to produce 407E more sickly offspring of this sort. Rather he did not believe he should treat someone who was unable to live his life normally, following the established course, since this would not be worthwhile either for himself or the city.

You are saying, said he, that Asclepius was a statesman.

Of course, said I, and his children too, because of the sort of man he was. Or don’t you see 408A that, at Troy, they proved themselves to be good at warfare, and they practised medicine in the way I described it. Or don’t you also recall that in the case of Menelaus’ wound, the one Pandarus inflicted on him;

They sucked the blood and soothing simples sprinkled[33]

But they did not prescribe what he should drink or eat afterwards, any more than they did for Eurypylus, since the drugs were quite sufficient to cure a man who had a healthy and orderly 408B lifestyle before he was injured, even if he happened to take a barley, cheese and wine drink afterwards. However they thought that it was not worthwhile, either for himself or anyone else, that someone who is diseased by nature, and lacking in restraint, should live on. They decided that their skill should not be applied to people like this, and that they should not treat them, even if they were wealthier than Midas.

You are saying, said he, that the sons of Asclepius were men of great refinement.

Appropriately so, said I, and yet, the tragedians and Pindar too are unconvinced by us, and they maintain that although Asclepius was a son of Apollo, he was bribed with gold to cure 408C a wealthy man who was already at the point of death, and for this, they say, he was struck by a thunderbolt. Whereas we, adhering to what we said before, are unconvinced by either of their claims; rather, if he was the son of a god, we shall maintain that he was not corruptible, and if he was corruptible he was not the son of a god.

Well you are quite right about that, said he. But what point are you making here, Socrates? Should we not have good physicians in our city? And presumably the best qualified doctors would be the ones who had treated the greatest number of healthy people, and sick people too, and the same would go for jurors; 408D the best would have consorted with a whole range of people of all sorts and varieties.

I am referring to good ones, very much so, said I. But do you know who I regard as good?

I would if you told me, said he.

I will try, said I. But you were asking about two dissimilar cases in the same question.

How so? he asked.

Physicians, said I, become highly accomplished if, beginning in childhood, besides learning their skill, they also deal with as many bodies as possible, of the most degenerate 408E kind, and have, themselves, suffered from all these diseases, and are, by nature, utterly unhealthy. For I do not believe they treat a body using their own body. Indeed if that were the case, their bodies could never be allowed to be in a bad condition, or to become so. But they treat a body using their own soul, which cannot be allowed to become bad, or to be so, if it is to carry out the treatment well.

Correct, said he.

409A But a juror, my friend, rules over a soul using his own soul, which should not be allowed, from its earliest years, to be reared among degenerate souls, to consort with them, act unjustly itself, and systematically go through all the injustices so that it may, with a keen eye, detect the injustices of others, like bodily diseases. It must, rather, from its earliest years, have no experience of evil dispositions, and be uncontaminated by them, if it is to be noble and good, and deliver sound judgements as to what is just. That’s why the most suitable candidates appear simple-minded when they are young, and are easily deceived by unjust folk, since they do not have 409B patterns within themselves, that resemble the responses of the evil doers.

Yes, indeed, said he, that certainly is what happens to them.

That’s why, said I, a good juror should be old rather than young. Someone who has learned, late in life, what injustice is, by becoming aware of it, not as something that belongs in his own soul: rather over a considerable time, he practises being fully aware of it as something alien, present in alien souls as an innate badness, having recourse to knowledge rather than his own direct experience.

409C Well a juror like this, said he, seems to be the noblest kind of all.

And good too, which is what you were asking about. For anyone who has a good soul is good. But that clever fellow with a suspicious mind, who has done a lot of evil deeds himself, who is cunning, and thinks he is wise when in the company of people like himself, appears clever when he is being cautious, and looks to his own internal patterns. But when he is alongside good people, or his elders, at that stage, by contrast, he appears stupid, by being unnecessarily 409D suspicious, unable to recognise a healthy disposition because he does not possess patterns of this sort. But since he meets degenerate people more often than worthy people he seems to himself, and to others, to be more wise rather than more foolish.

Yes, said he, that’s true, entirely so.

Well then said I, we should not seek out a juror of this sort, if we want a good and wise one; we should seek the previous sort. For, degeneracy would never recognise both excellence and itself; but natural excellence may be educated, over time, to apprehend 409E both itself and degeneracy, simultaneously. So this person, as I see it, and not the bad person, turns out to be wise.

That, said he, is the way I see it too.

Won’t you prescribe laws for our city, instituting medicine, as we described it, alongside this sort of judicial practice? Will these treat those citizens of yours whose 410A bodies and souls are naturally good, and if this is not so, allow those who are naturally bad in body, to die off, while they themselves put to death those who are naturally bad in soul, and incurable.

This, said he, is, apparently, what’s best both for the people in this predicament and for the city.

And so your young folk, of course, will be careful not to need a judicial process like this, by making use of that simple music which, we say, engenders sound-mindedness.

Indeed, said he.

410B And won’t the musical person, by following the same trail in the case of physical training, if he wishes, understand how to avoid the need for medical treatment, except when it is absolutely necessary.

Yes, I think so.

Even the physical training itself, and the exercises, are something he will work at with the spirited aspect of his nature in view, rather than physical strength, unlike other athletes who make use of diet and exercise for the sake of strength.

Quite right said he.

In that case, Glaucon, said I, those who established education in music 410C and physical training, did not do so with the intention that some people assume; that one would treat the body while the other would treat the soul.

What was their intention then? he asked.

It’s most likely said I that they established both, mainly, for the sake of the soul.

How so?

Haven’t you noticed how the mind itself is affected in people who devote themselves, throughout their lives, to physical exercise, and have nothing to do with music; or those who do the exact opposite?

What are you referring to? he asked.

410D A fierceness and hardness in one case, and a softness and gentleness in the other, said I.

I have noticed, said he, that those who devote themselves exclusively to physical training turn out more fierce than they should be, while those who do so in the case of music become softer than is good for them.

And indeed, said I, the fierceness is derived from the spirited part of the nature, and given the proper nurture it would constitute courage, but if it becomes more intense than it should, it would likely become hard and harsh.

I think so, said he.

410E Yes, and wouldn’t the philosophic nature be associated with the gentleness, and if this is relaxed too much, won’t it be softer than it should be, and if it is properly nurtured, won’t it be gentle and orderly.

Quite so.

And we are saying that our guardians should possess both of these natures.

They should.

And shouldn’t the two be in harmony with one another?

Of course.

And where there is such harmony, the soul is sound-minded and courageous?

Entirely so.

And where there is disharmony, it is cowardly and harsh.

Very much so.

Now whenever someone surrenders to music, to be charmed by the flute sounds pouring into his soul through the ears, as if through a funnel, pouring in those sweet, soft, dirge-like harmonies, we spoke of just now, and lives his whole life humming delightedly in song, this man, if he possesses a spirited part, softens it at first, like iron, and renders it useful, instead of being useless 411B and brittle. But if he pours music in, unceasingly, and it works its charms, he then proceeds, already, to melt his spirit, turn it to liquid until he finally dissolves it away, as if he were severing the very sinews of his soul, and turning it into a “feeble warrior”.

Entirely so, said he.

Now if he were endowed, by nature, said I, from the very outset, with a soul devoid of spirit, this would happen very quickly. But if it were spirited, having weakened the spirit, he would render the soul unstable, quick to quarrel 411C over trivia, and just as quick to calm down. So he becomes bad tempered and irascible, rather than spirited, and he is filled with discontent.

Yes, exactly.

And what if someone, in contrast, works hard at physical training, feeds himself well, very well, but refrains from music and philosophy? At first, because his body is in such good shape, won’t he be filled with confidence and spirit, and become more courageous than he was before?

Very much so.

And what if he practised nothing else, and had no communion with a Muse 411D at all? Even if there was some love of learning in his soul, since it never gets a taste of learning or of inquiry, and is never involved in discourse, or music in general, won’t it become weak, deaf and blind, since it is never awakened or nourished, and its awareness is never purified?

Just so, said he.

Then a person like this becomes a hater of discourse, and is devoid of music; he no longer uses verbal persuasion, but he gets results, in everything, through force and violence, like 411E some wild animal, and he lives his life in ignorance and ineptitude, without any rhythm or grace.

That’s it, said he, entirely so.

Well since there are these two, the spirited and the philosophic, I would say that some god has given humanity two skills, music and physical training, aimed at the spirited and the philosophic, not at the soul and the body, except incidentally, but at these two, so that they may be harmonised with one another 412A by tightening and slackening them to the appropriate extent.

Yes, so it seems, said he.

So the person who blends physical training most beautifully with music, and applies them to the soul with the utmost measure, is the one we may rightly declare to be perfectly musical, and well harmonised in the highest degree, much more so than anyone who tunes the strings of an instrument.

Quite likely, Socrates, said he.

In that case, Glaucon, won’t we always need some overseer of this sort 412B in our city, if our constitution is to be preserved?

Yes, indeed, we shall need this most of all.

These then, would be the guidelines for their education and upbringing. Indeed why would anyone itemise the dances, hunts, chases, athletic contests, and horse races, that people like this would have? Surely it is quite obvious that these must adhere to those guidelines, and should no longer be hard to discover.

Probably not, said he.

So be it, said I. Well then, what should we decide next? 412C Won’t we need to decide which of these same people will rule, and which of them will be ruled? Is it obvious that the rulers should be older, and those who are ruled should be younger?

It is obvious.

And that the best of them should rule.

That’s obvious too.

But don’t the best of the farmers turn out to be the most accomplished at farming?


And now, since these must be the best of our guardians, won’t they be the most accomplished at guarding our city?


And mustn’t they be intelligent in this role, and capable, and still care for the city.

412D That’s it.

But someone would care most for that which he actually loves.


And indeed, he would love this most, once he believes that whatever benefits this also benefits himself, and thinks that when it does well, he himself does well too, and if it does not, he does not.

Quite so.

Then we should select men of this sort from among the other guardians: men who, as we watch them, throughout their entire life, 412E seem to us to be entirely eager to do whatever benefits the city, and unwilling, under any circumstances, to do anything that does not.

These are suitable for selection, said he.

Then I think they need to be watched, at all stages of their lives, to see that they guard this precept well, and are never charmed or forced to forget, and cast aside the opinion that they should do what is best for the city.

What do you mean, said he, by “cast aside”?

I shall tell you, I replied. It seems to me that opinion departs from the mind either voluntarily or involuntarily: voluntarily, when false opinion departs from someone who learns better, involuntarily, in the case of any true opinion.

I understand the case where it is voluntary, 413A but I need you to explain the case where it is involuntary.

What about this, said I? Don’t you believe, as I do, that people are deprived of what is good, involuntarily, and of what is bad, voluntarily? Or isn’t it bad to be deceived in relation to the truth, and good to have the truth? Or don’t you think that to have the truth is to think things that are?

Yes, said he, what you are saying is right, and I think they have been deprived, involuntarily, of true opinion.

413B Doesn’t this happen to them when they are robbed, harmed or forced?

Now I don’t understand this either, said he.

Perhaps, said I, I am speaking in a lofty tragic style. Indeed by “robbed” I mean those who are persuaded to change their minds, or who are made to forget, because time in the latter case, and discourse in the former case, takes something from them without their noticing. So, I presume you understand now.


And by “those who are forced” I mean those whom pain or distress would induce to change their minds.

Yes, I understand that too, and what you are saying is correct.

413C Those who are charmed, I think you would agree, are those who change their opinions when beguiled by pleasure, or intimidated by some fear.

Indeed, said he, everything that deceives people seems to charm them.

Well then, as I was saying just now, we should seek out some who are the best guardians of their own precept, whereby they should, on every occasion, do whatever seems best for the city. So they should be watched from their very earliest years; setting them tasks in which someone would be most inclined to forget such a precept, and be deceived; and we should select those whose memory holds, and who are difficult to deceive, 413D and reject anyone who is not like this. Is this so?


And we should also assign hard work, tribulations, and trials to them, in which we should watch for these same qualities.

Rightly so, he replied.

Now, said I, we should also devise a third kind of test in relation to being charmed, and we should watch what happens. Just as people expose young horses to noise and commotion to see if they are fearful, so too, whilst still young, our guardians should be brought into fearful circumstances and then transferred 413E into situations of pleasure, and thus be tested far better than gold is tested in the fire. And if someone is evidently resistant to charms, dignified in everything, a good guardian of himself and of the culture he has come to understand, adhering to good rhythm and harmony in himself under all these circumstances, he would then be of the greatest service, both to himself, and to the city. And someone who is tested continually, as a child, as a youth, and as a man, and emerges without taint 414A should be installed as a ruler and guardian of the city, and should be given honour in life, and after death, by assigning the most revered of our tombs and other memorials to him; while someone who is not like this should be rejected.

So, Glaucon, said I, I think this is the selection and appointment process for our rulers and guardians; it is just an outline, not a detailed description.

Well, said he, that’s how it appears to me too.

414B In that case, would it, in truth, be most correct to refer to these people as guardians in every respect, both in relation to enemies from outside, and friends within, so that the friends will not wish to do anything bad, and the enemies will be unable to do so; while the younger people, whom we were calling guardians just now, are referred to as auxiliaries, who support the precepts of the rulers?

Yes, I think so, said he.

Is there any way, said I, we might contrive one of those lies, we were referring to earlier, the ones that arise in response to a need; a single noble lie 414C to persuade the rulers themselves, for the most part, or failing that, persuade the city in general?

What sort of lie? said he.

It’s nothing new, said I, yes, it is something from Phoenicia, which has happened in many places already, as the poets maintain, and have convinced people. But it has not happened in our time, nor do I know if it could happen, and to convince people would require a lot of persuasion.

You seem to be speaking with some reluctance, said hie.

My reluctance, said I, will seem quite reasonable once I have said what I have to say.

Speak on, said he, and have no fear.

414D I’ll tell you then, even though I do not know where to find the audacity, or the words to use, and I shall attempt, firstly, to persuade the rulers themselves and the soldiers, and then the rest of the city, that, in fact, all the education and upbringing we gave them was just like a dream. They imagined they were experiencing all this, and that this was happening to them but, in truth, they were under the earth at the time, being moulded and nurtured within her, and both themselves, and their armour, and the rest of their equipment was being manufactured, and once they had come fully 414E to completion, the earth, their mother, sent them forth. And now they are to plan for, and defend the place they are in, as though it were their mother and their nurse, if anyone goes against her. And they are to think of all the other citizens as their brothers and sisters, sprung from the self same earth.

No wonder you were ashamed to recount this lie, said he.

415A Quite reasonably so, said I, but nevertheless, listen to the rest of the story. Yes, indeed, all who are in the city are brothers, that’s what we shall tell them in our story, but as the god fashioned you, he mixed in gold in the generation of those of you who are up to the task of being rulers, and because of this, such people are valued most. In the case of the auxiliaries, he mixed in silver, and he used iron and bronze in the case of farmers and other craftsmen. Now since you are all kindred, you would, for the most part, produce offspring like 415B yourselves; yet there are times when silver could be born from gold, and there could be golden offspring from silver, and all the others could spring from one another in the same way. So the god first, and most emphatically, proclaims to the rulers that they should be good guardians of nothing else, and should watch over nothing as intently, as they watch the offspring, in case there be any admixture of these other metals in their souls. And if their offspring is born with admixture of bronze or of iron, 415C they will not act out of pity in any way; rather, granting them the respect appropriate to their nature, they will banish them to the ranks of artisans or farmers. Then again, if someone with an admixture of gold or silver is born among these, they will respect them and transfer some to the rank of guardians, others to that of auxiliaries, because there is an oracle whereby the city will be destroyed whenever an iron guardian, or a bronze guardian, guards her. Now do you know any way that they might believe this story?

Not at all, said he, not in the case of the people themselves, but perhaps their 415D sons and the next generation, and humanity in general thereafter, might believe it.

But even this much, said I, would work nicely to ensure that they show more care for the city and for one another; for I think I understand what you are saying fairly well. Indeed this will unfold in whatever way human tradition may take it, while we lead out these earth born men, fully armed, led by their rulers. And when they arrive, have them look about for the best place in the city to set up their military camp; a location from which they could exercise most control over the city’s inhabitants, 415E in case anyone might be unwilling to obey the laws, a place from which they could also defend her against outsiders, in case enemies might come upon her, like a wolf upon a flock of sheep. And with their camp established, having offered sacrifices to the appropriate gods, they could make places to rest. Or how do you see it?

Just so, said he.

Won’t such places be adequate to withstand the heat of summer and the cold of winter?

Yes, they must be, said he, since I think you are referring to their dwellings.

Yes, said I, dwellings for soldiers rather than for money-makers.

416A Again, said he, what distinction are you making between these two?

I’ll try to explain this to you, said I. Indeed it is surely the most terrible thing of all, and an utter disgrace, for a shepherd to rear the sort of dogs that mind sheep, in such a way that through indiscipline, or hunger, or some general defect of character, the dogs attempt to harm the sheep, and behave like wolves rather than dogs.

Terrible, said he, of course.

416B So, mustn’t we be on our guard, in every way, in case these auxiliaries of ours do something like this to our citizens, because they are stronger than them, and become like harsh overlords rather than well-meaning allies.

Yes, said he, we must be on our guard.

Wouldn’t they have been provided with the greatest safeguard against this if they really had been properly educated?

But surely they have been properly educated, said he.

And I said; this is not worth insisting upon, Glaucon, my friend. However it is worth insisting upon what we said earlier; that they must have the right 416C education, whatever that may be, if they are to possess the most important factor required to make them gentle, both towards themselves and towards the citizens under their guardianship.

And rightly so, said he.

And in addition to this education, anyone with any intelligence would maintain that they should also be provided with dwellings, and property in general, that does not prevent them from being 416D guardians of the best possible kind, and does not induce them to behave badly towards the other citizens.

And he would be speaking the truth.

Then see, said I, if they should live and be housed somewhat as follows if they are to be guardians of this sort. In the first place, none should possess any private property that is not absolutely necessary. Secondly, none of them should have a dwelling or storehouse that is not open to anyone who wants to go in. The necessities of life, as much as men in training for war, who are both sound-minded and courageous, 416E require, these they will receive from the other citizens, as they stipulate, as a wage for guarding them; enough to last them no more than a year, without any lack. And like soldiers in a military camp they should live life in common, and dine together at common tables. We shall tell them that they have gold and silver of a divine sort, as a gift from the gods, always in their soul, and have no further need for the human sort: that it is an unholy act, to pollute 417A and contaminate that divine possession, through the acquisition of mortal gold, because so much unholiness has arisen from dealing with the currency of the multitude, whereas the currency of these people is without taint. And that they are the only people in the city who are prohibited from handling, or even coming into contact with gold or silver, or even from being under the same roof with them, from wearing them about their person, or drinking from a gold or silver vessel.

Accordingly, they would save themselves and save the city: but once they acquire land or houses or money of their own, they will then be householders or farmers rather than guardians, and will become slave-masters and enemies 417B of the rest of the citizens, rather than their allies; they will spend their entire life hating and being hated, conspiring and being conspired against, much more fearful of internal rather than external enemies, as they run a course, for themselves and the rest of the city, that is already almost doomed to shipwreck.

So, for all these reasons, said I, let’s declare that this is how the guardians should be provided with housing and with anything else, and let us establish these arrangements in law.

Entirely so, said Glaucon.

End Book 3


Book 4

419A Here Adeimantus interrupted and said; now, Socrates, what would be your defence if someone were to maintain that you are not making these men very happy, and it’s all their own fault since, although the city is, in truth, theirs, they don’t enjoy a single benefit from her, unlike their counterparts in other cities who own land, build beautiful grand houses, and acquire furniture to match; who offer private sacrifices to the gods, entertain guests, and indeed, as you were saying just now, have acquired gold and silver and everything else that’s supposed to belong to people who are going to be blessed? In fact, he might maintain, they look almost like paid 420A auxiliaries who sit about in the city with nothing to do except keep watch.

Yes, said I, and they do all this in return for their basic provisions, receiving no wages in addition to such provisions, as everyone else does. They won’t even be able to travel abroad, privately, if they wish to, or pay for female companions, or indulge in other kinds of expenditure, like those who are generally regarded as happy. You are leaving out these objections and a whole host of others like them.

In that case, said he, let those objections be included.

420B So are you asking how we shall conduct our defence?


We shall, in my opinion, find whatever needs to be said, by proceeding along the same track as before. Indeed we shall say that it would be no surprise if these people, living in this way, are also the happiest people, even though we are not founding our city with a view to this; so that one particular group among us will be especially happy, but so that the whole city will be as happy as it can possibly be. For we thought that in a city like this we would find justice, to the greatest extent, and by contrast, would find injustice to the greatest extent in the worst managed city, and by observing them carefully, 420C decide the issue we have been investigating for so long. At the moment then, we are, I believe, forming the happy city, not by considering a few of its people in isolation, and proposing that people like this are happy, but by considering the whole city. We shall look at its opposite presently.

Indeed it’s as if we were painting a statue, and someone came along and said we were not using the most beautiful pigments on the most beautiful parts of the figure, because we had painted the eyes, the most beautiful part, not with purple 420D but with black. We would seem to be offering a reasonable defence by saying: “Strange man, don’t presume that we should paint eyes so beautiful that they don’t even look like eyes, and the same goes for the other parts too; just look and see whether we make the whole thing beautiful by applying the appropriate pigments to each part.”

And indeed, in the present case, don’t compel us to attach happiness of this sort to our guardians, a happiness that will turn them into anything, other than guardians. 420E For we know we could dress our farmers in fine robes, and deck them out with gold, and bid them work the land whenever they felt like it. We could have our potters recline by the fire, left to right, drinking and feasting with the potter’s wheel beside them, to make as many pots as they felt like making. We could also make all the others happy in this way, so that the whole city would then be happy. But don’t encourage us in this direction, since, if we take your advice 421A our farmer will not be a farmer, nor will our potter be a potter, nor will any of the other functions from which our city is constituted retain their character.

Now in the case of the other functions, this is of less account, for shoe menders who are debased and corrupted and who pretend to be shoe makers when they are not, are no threat to the city. But when guardians of the city and its laws seem like guardians when they are not, then, you see, they utterly destroy the entire city and, what’s more, they alone hold the key to the city being well governed and happy. So if we are producing 421B true guardians of the city, who are least harmful to her, while our critic is referring to some farmers feasting at a festival, not in civic society, then he is describing something else besides a city.

So we should consider whether to appoint the guardians with a view to providing them with the utmost happiness, or with a view to ensuring such happiness for the city as a whole, compelling or persuading our guardians to cooperate in this, so that they will be the very best 421C practitioners of their own work. And the same will apply to all the others, and so, with the entire city flourishing and well managed, we should allow each of the types to have a share in happiness in the way that its nature allows.

Yes, said he, this sounds beautiful to me.

Well then, said I, I wonder if the following point, related to this one will sound reasonable.

What is it?

In the case of the other practitioners, are there factors that corrupt them, so that they become bad practitioners? Consider this.

421D What sort of factors?

Wealth and poverty, said I.

How so?

As follows; once he has become wealthy, do you think a potter will still be willing to attend to his craft?

Not at all, he replied.

Will he become lazy and less interested than he was before?

Very much so.

Won’t he become a worse potter?

That too, said he, very much so.

Yes indeed, and when due to poverty, he is unable to provide the tools or whatever else his craft requires, his workmanship will be poorer and 421E he will teach his son and anyone else he instructs, to be inferior craftsmen.


Then on account of both factors, poverty and wealth, what the crafts produce will be inferior and the practitioners themselves will be inferior.


Then these, it seems, are additional factors which our guardians must watch out for, by every possible means, in case they creep into the city unnoticed.

What sort of factors?

422A Wealth and poverty, said I, since one produces luxury, idleness and disturbance, while the other leads to lack of freedom and bad workmanship, in addition to the disturbance.

Entirely so, Socrates, said he, but, please consider this; how will our city be able to go to war when it has acquired no wealth, especially if she is compelled to go to war against a large and wealthy city?

It is obvious, said I, that, it would be more difficult to fight against a single city like this, but against two such cities, it would be easier.

422B What do you mean, said he?

Firstly, said I, if they need to do battle, won’t they be fighting against wealthy men when they themselves are trained warriors?

Well yes, said he, this is so.

Now, Adeimantus, I asked, don’t you think a single boxer, very well trained, could easily fight two rich fat fellows who were not boxers at all?

Probably not, said he, not at the same time, anyway.

Not even if he were allowed to retreat, and then turn around and strike the first man that ever came at him, 422C and he were to do this repeatedly under the baking sun? Wouldn’t a man like this get the better of quite a number of such fellows?

Indeed, said he that would be no surprise.

And don’t you think rich people have more knowledge and experience of boxing than of warfare?

I do, he replied.

So our trained warriors will easily do battle with two or even three times their own number.

422D I shall concede the point, said he, since, I think what you are saying is correct.

What if we sent an embassy to the other city, telling them the truth; although we have no use for gold or silver, you do, so fight alongside us and take the wealth that the others have: do you think anyone who heard this offer will choose to fight against tough, lean dogs, rather than fight alongside them against fat, soft sheep?

No, I don’t think so, said he, but if one city accumulates all the wealth of the others, watch out in case it constitutes a danger to the one that is not wealthy.

422E How fortunate you are, said I; that you think anything else deserves to be called a city except the sort we are equipping.

What then? he asked.

We should speak about the others, said I, as more than one city. For each of them is not a city, but a combination of many cities, as people say, in jest. Two at least: one of rich folk; the other of 423A poor; both at war with each other. And in each of these, there are very many more which you would be totally incorrect to regard as a single city. But if you regard them as many cities, by giving the wealth, the powers, and even the people themselves, of some, to the others, you will always have access to many allies and have few enemies. And as long as your city is managed sound-mindedly as was just arranged, it will be the greatest city, not in reputation; I do not mean that, but truly the greatest city, even if there are only a thousand defenders among her ranks. For you will not easily 423B find a single city that is great in this way, among Greeks or barbarians, although there are many that seem many times greater than ours. Or do you think otherwise?

By Zeus, I do not, said he.

Wouldn’t this, said I, be the perfect criterion for our rulers in determining what size to make the city and, accordingly, the extent of the territory they should mark off, setting the rest aside?

What criterion? he asked.

I think it is as follows, said I; let it keep growing as long as it remains one city; it may grow thus far and no further.

423C That is a good way to proceed, said he.

In that case, should we give this additional instruction to our guardians; to be on their guard, in every respect, to ensure that the city be not small, or seem great, rather than sufficient and one?

Quite an “ordinary” instruction, surely, said he.

And there is an even more “ordinary” instruction than this, which we mentioned previously, saying that it would be necessary, in situations where any ordinary offspring are born to the guardians, that these should be sent away to other ordinary folk. And if special offspring are born to ordinary folk, these should be sent away to the guardians. And this is intended to show that even in the case of the other citizens, whatever anyone is suited to by nature is the task each should attend to, one person to one particular task, so that each, by practising the one task that is his own, would become not many but one, and in this way then, the entire city would naturally come to be one, rather than many.

Yes, said he, a more “insignificant” instruction than that other one.

Good, Adeimantus, said I, we are not giving them a lot of 423E important instructions as someone might presume; no, they are all quite minor, provided they guard the so called “one important thing”; or, should I say sufficient, rather than important?

What is that? he asked.

Education and upbringing, said I; for if, by being educated, they become reasonable men, they will easily see all of this quite clearly, and anything else we are leaving out at present, including the acquisition of women, 424A marriages, and procreation of children; they will see that all these should be conducted, as much as possible, according to the maxim “friends share their possessions.”

Yes, said he; that would be most correct.

And indeed, said I, the state, once it is set in motion properly, proceeds like a developing circle. For a worthy upbringing and education that is kept safe, produces good natures, and worthy natures, in turn, by acquiring an education of this sort, become even better than their predecessors, in general, and especially in their breeding, as is the case with other creatures.

424B Quite likely, said he.

So, to put it briefly, those who are to care for the city must hold fast to education so that it does not get corrupted without them noticing. They should rather, guard this against everything, against any innovation in gymnastics or in music, contrary to our direction. They should be on their guard, as best they can, when anyone says that:

The song the singer latest sings

Men heed the more[34].

For fear someone might presume the poet is perhaps 424C speaking, not of new songs but of a new manner of singing, and is praising this. This sort of thing should not be praised, nor should the poet be understood in this way. Indeed one must be cautious about change to a new form of music, as it poses a threat to the whole, since the manners of music do not change without the most important civic laws changing too; so says Damon, and I believe him.

Well you can count me as someone who believes him too, said Adeimantus.

Then, said I, it is here, in music it seems, that the guardians must found 424D their citadel.

This, at any rate, said he, is where lawlessness easily creeps in unawares.

Yes, said I, since it is regarded as a sort of amusement that does not do any harm.

Nor indeed does it do so, said he, except by establishing itself little by little. It flows gently into habits and behaviour, and from these it emerges larger, 424E and enters the arrangements between the citizens, and then, from these private arrangements, it enters into the laws and constitution with unrestrained licentiousness, until finally, it overturns everything, private as well as public. Indeed, said I, is that what it does?

I think so, said he.

In that case, as we were saying initially, shouldn’t our own children be involved straightaway in play that adheres to law, since if play itself becomes lawless, and the children do likewise, it is impossible that they would develop into law abiding, earnest 425A men?

Yes, how could they, said he.

Well then, when the children, having made a good start at playing, adopt a lawful spirit through music, then, in contrast to those other cases, this accompanies them in everything, and develops them, setting right anything in the city that was previously cast down.

True indeed, said he.

Then these people discover for themselves, said I, the seemingly trivial regulations, all of which their predecessors subverted.

What sort of regulations?

425B Appropriate silence of the young in the presence of their elders, for instance; offering them seats, and standing up before them, care of parents; hairstyles too, clothes and shoes, and physical appearance in general, and anything else of that sort. Don’t you think so?

I do.

But to institute laws for these is, I think, silly, for having been instituted as laws verbal or written, they are surely not acted upon, nor do they last.

No, how could they?

It is likely, at any rate, Adeimantus, said I, that the direction 425C set by their education determines the sort of things that follow thereafter; or doesn’t like always call forth like?

Of course.

And finally, then, I believe, we would declare that it turns into something single, complete and active, that is either good or indeed the opposite thereof.

Inevitably, he said.

That’s why, said I, I for one would not go further, and attempt to institute laws for this sort of thing.

Well that’s reasonable, said he.

But by the gods, said I, what about commercial affairs and all the arrangements with one another that people enter into in the market and, if you like, 425D the contracts with manual labourers; actions for slander or assault, the bringing of lawsuits, the appointment of jurors, and, if necessary, I presume, the imposition and payment of commercial or maritime taxes, general regulations of the market, the city, and the harbours, and anything else like this: shall we bring ourselves to institute laws for any of these?

No, it’s not worth giving instructions to men who are noble and good, since in most of these cases 425E where laws need to instituted, they will, I presume, easily discover them.

Yes, my friend, said I, provided god grants them preservation of the laws we described before.

If not, said he, they will spend their lives continually instituting and amending a whole host of regulations of this sort, in the belief that they will arrive at the best arrangement.

You are saying, said I that people like this are living like sick people who are not prepared to depart from their degenerate lifestyle, because they lack the restraint required to do so.

Entirely so.

426A And indeed these people live their lives in a delightful manner; for in spite of any medical treatment they make no progress, although they do make the diseases more complicated, and more extensive, and they are always hoping, whenever anyone suggests a remedy, that this is the one that will make them healthy.

Yes, said he, that’s exactly the sort of thing that happens to people who are sick in this way.

What about this? I said. Isn’t it a delightful feature of these people that what they regard, above all, as their greatest enemy, is the person who speaks the truth; that until one gives up drunkenness, gluttony, womanising and laziness, neither 426B drugs, nor burning, nor cutting, nor indeed any charms or amulets, nor anything else of that sort, will be of any benefit at all?

It’s not really delightful, said he, since getting annoyed with someone who speaks well holds no delight.

It seems, said I, that you are not an admirer of men like this.

No indeed, by Zeus.

In that case, you won’t praise the city, as a whole, either, as we said before, if it acts in this way. Or does it not seem to you that those cities that are badly governed, and yet direct 426C their citizens not to change the existing state of affairs, as a whole, on pain of execution for doing so, are behaving just like those sick people? And whoever is pleased to serve them, even though they are governed in this way, who delights them with flattery, who anticipates their wishes, and is clever at fulfilling them, he will be their good man, wise too in important matters, and will win their respect.

Yes, said he, I think they are behaving in the same way, and I have no praise whatsoever for them either.

426D And what about those who are willing to serve cities like these, and are eager to do so; aren’t you delighted by their courage and humanity?

I am, said he, except in cases where they are deceived into believing that they are statesmen just because most people praise them.

What are you saying? Can’t you sympathise with the men? If a man who doesn’t know how to measure, is told by people like himself that he is six foot tall, do you think it is possible for him not to believe this, 426E about himself?

No, again I don’t think so, said he.

Then don’t be so harsh with them; for people like this are the most delightful of all; instituting laws of the sort we just described, amending them, always believing they will find some way of curtailing corrupt practices in business dealings, and in the other areas I spoke of just now, while being unaware that they really are, as it were, cutting off the head of the Hydra.

427A Yes indeed, said he, that’s all they are doing.

Well then, said I, I would not have thought the true legislator needs to trouble himself with this sort of thing in relation to laws or civic affairs, either in a badly governed city or a well governed one: in the former because it is of no benefit and achieves nothing, and in the latter because some of them could be discovered by anyone at all, while the others emerge automatically from the practices described earlier.

427B So, he asked, what would be left for our legislative process?

And I said; for us there is nothing, but for Apollo who is in Delphi, there remain the greatest, most beautiful, and primary subjects of legislation.

What are they? he asked.

The foundation of temples, sacrifices, and general attention to gods, daimons and heroes; then, for those who have died, burial rites and whatever services to the denizens of the other world are needed to keep them well disposed. For obviously we have no knowledge of such matters, nor as we are founding our city, 427C shall we believe anyone else if we have any sense, nor shall we have recourse to any interpreter except our ancestral one. For this god is surely the ancestral interpreter for all humanity in such matters, seated on the navel stone in the middle of the earth, giving his interpretations.

Yes, you are expressing that nicely, said he, and that’s how it should be done.

Well then, said I, although your city would be founded at this stage, dear son of Ariston, 427D you should now proceed to look within it, provided with sufficient light from somewhere. Do this yourself and call upon your brother and Polemarchus and the others, in case we may somehow see what precisely justice may be, and injustice too, I suppose, and what the difference between them is, and which of them a man who is to be happy should acquire, whether all gods and men are aware of this or not.

You’re talking nonsense, said Glaucon, since you promised that you yourself were going to search for this because 427E it would be an unholy act on your part not to come to the aid of justice, to the best of your ability, in every possible way.

True, said I, you have reminded me, and I should act accordingly, but you should all be involved too.

That’s what we shall do then, said he.

Well, said I, I hope we shall find it as follows: I think our city, if it has indeed been founded correctly, is perfectly good.

It must be, said he.

Then it is obvious that it is wise, courageous, sound-minded and just.


Isn’t it the case that if we can find some of these qualities in the city, the remainder will be what has not 428A been found?

Of course.

Well suppose there were four different things and we were looking for one of them in something or other, and we then recognised this one first, that would be enough for us. But if we had previously recognised the other three, by this fact alone the object of our search would be recognised too, since obviously it is just the remainder, and nothing else.

Correct, said he.

So in relation to these qualities, since there are four of them shouldn’t we conduct our search in the same way?


428B And indeed, it seems to me that wisdom is the first thing that is seen plainly in this, and something unusual becomes evident about it.

What, he asked?

The city we have described is actually wise since it is well advised, isn’t it?


And indeed, it is obvious that being well advised is, in itself, knowledge of some sort, for it is not by ignorance, but by knowledge, that people are well advised.


But there are many varieties of knowledge in the city.

Yes, there must be.

Now is it because of the knowledge of its carpenters that a city should be referred to as wise and well advised?

428C Not at all, said he; because of this knowledge it is referred to as knowledgeable in carpentry.

So it is not because of the knowledge dealing with wooden implements, and advising on how they might turn out best, that a city should be called wise.

No indeed.

What about the knowledge dealing with objects made from bronze, or any other knowledge of this sort?

It is not any of these either, said he.

Nor is it the knowledge dealing with producing crops from the earth; because of this it is knowledgeable in farming.

I think so.

What about this, said I? Is there, in the city we have just founded, 428D any knowledge that is particularly associated with some citizens, knowledge by which the city is advised, not about some particular aspect of its affairs, but about the city as a whole, and the manner in which it might best conduct itself towards itself, and towards the other cities?

There is indeed.

What is it, I asked, and in which citizens does it reside?

It is guardianship, said he, and it resides in those who rule, to whom we have just given the name perfect guardians.

So what do you call the city because of this knowledge?

Well advised, said he, and truly wise.

Now, in our city, do you think there will be more 428E bronze workers or more of these true guardians.

Far more bronze workers, said he.

Indeed, said I, among those who have some knowledge, and are named accordingly, wouldn’t these guardians be the fewest in number of them all?

Much fewer.

So a city founded on a natural basis would be wholly wise because of the smallest group or part of itself and the knowledge residing in this presiding, ruling part. And it seems that this class naturally turns out to be the fewest in number, 429A and is the class that deserves to be allocated this knowledge which alone, among all other kinds of knowledge, merits the name wisdom.

Very true, said he.

Well then, I don’t know how, but we have found this one, one of the four, and where it is situated in the city.

Well, said he, in my opinion at any rate, it has been discovered quite satisfactorily.

Then again, it is not difficult to discern courage itself and what it resides in, in our city, whereby the city is then called courageous.

How so?

429B Who, said I, could say that a city is cowardly or courageous unless he had looked to the particular part that fights for her, and goes to war on her behalf?

No one, said he, would look to anything else.

Indeed, said I, the fact that the other citizens in the city were cowardly or courageous would not, I believe, determine whether the city has the one quality or the other.

It would not.

And so a city is courageous by some part of itself, because it has a capacity of this sort in that part, a capacity which in any situation preserves the opinion about what things should be feared, 429C and these are the same things, and the same sorts of things, that the legislators proclaimed whilst educating them. Don’t you refer to this as courage?

I don’t fully understand what you are saying, said he; please say it once more.

I am saying, said I, that courage is a sort of preservation.

What sort of preservation is it?

The preservation of the opinion, produced by law, through education, as to what should be feared and what sorts of things they are. And when I said, “in any situation” I meant that the brave man preserves this opinion, faithfully, in the face of pleasure 429D or pain, desire or fear, and never rejects it. I can give you what I regard as an example to illustrate this if you wish.

Yes, I do.

Don’t you know, said I, that when dyers want to dye wool and render it purple, they first make a selection from all these colours and pick one kind, wools that are naturally white, and they prepare these in advance by treating them extensively, so that they will take on the colour as best they can, and they then proceed with the dyeing? 429E And whatever is dyed in this manner becomes colourfast, and no washing, either with detergents or without them, is able to remove the colour. Otherwise, well, you know the sort of things that happen when someone dyes wool of other colours, or even dyes these white wools without preparing them in advance.

I know, said he; that they become washed-out and they look ridiculous.

Then, said I, you should understand that we, to the best of our ability, were also engaged in a process of this sort when we were selecting our warriors and educating 430A them in music and gymnastics. Understand that there was only one objective; that once they had been persuaded, as beautifully as possible, by ourselves, they would accept the laws like a dye, so that their opinion in relation to what should be feared and in relation to anything else, would become colourfast, because they had acquired a nature and an education that was suitable. Then these detergents would not wash this dye out of them, despite their formidable dissolving power; pleasure 430B which is more to be feared for doing this than any soda or lye from Chalaestra, pain too, or fear, or desire, which are to be feared more than any detergents. Now a power of this sort, the preservation, in any situation, of right and lawful opinion as to what should be feared and what should not, this I call courage, and this is what I propose unless you have some other suggestion.

I have nothing else to suggest, said he, for I think you regard right opinion concerning these very issues, when it arises without education, as is the case with beasts or slaves, as not entirely stable, and you refer to this, not as courage but as something else.

430C Very true, said I.

Then I accept that this is what courage is.

And indeed, you should accept it, said I, as being civic courage, at any rate, and you will then be right to do so. But we shall, if you wish, give a better exposition of this on some other occasion; at the moment, we are not looking for courage but for justice, and for that enquiry, in my opinion, this is sufficient.

That’s fine, said he.

Then there are, said I, two remaining qualities that we need to discern in our city, sound-mindedness, 430D and the reason for our entire enquiry, justice.

Yes, certainly.

Now, how may we find justice, so that we don’t have to trouble ourselves about sound-mindedness anymore?

Well, said he, I don’t know, nor do I wish justice to be revealed first if we won’t be considering sound-mindedness anymore. But if you wish to gratify me, consider this before that.

Yes indeed, said I, it is only right that I should wish to do so.

Consider it then, said he.

430E Consider it I must, said I, and from our present vantage point, it looks more like a concord and harmony than the previous ones.

How so?

Presumably, said I, sound-mindedness is a kind of order, and a mastery over certain pleasures and desires, as people say when using the expression, “stronger than oneself”, the manner of which I do not understand. And other expressions of this sort express a sort of trace of this; don’t they?

Yes, absolutely, said he.

Isn’t the phrase “stronger than oneself” quite comical? For whoever is stronger than himself would of course also be weaker than himself, and the weaker be 431A stronger, since the same self is spoken of in all of these cases.

It must be.

But, said I, it appears to me that this expression wishes to convey that there is something better and something worse associated with the soul of the particular person, and whenever the part in it that is naturally better, is master of the worse, this is described as being stronger than oneself, as it is, at any rate, a term of praise. But whenever, through bad upbringing, or company of a certain kind, the better part which is smaller, is dominated by the sheer size of the worse part, this is censured as blameworthy, and is called being weaker than oneself, and 431B someone in this condition is said to be devoid of restraint.

Yes, quite likely, said he.

Well then, take a look at our new city, said I, and you will find one of these conditions therein, for you would be justified in saying that it is, itself, stronger than itself, if indeed we should refer to the city in which the better rules over the worse as sound-minded, and stronger than itself.

Yes, I am looking, said he, and what you are saying is true.

And indeed the numerous and variegated desires, pleasures, 431C and pains would be found mostly in children, women, and household slaves, and in the majority of so called “free men”, of the lowest order.

Entirely so.

But the simple and measured desires, which are led by reasoning, accompanied by intelligence and right opinion, are found in just a few people, those who are best by nature, and those who have received the best education.

True, said he.

And don’t you see that these are all present in your city and that the desires of the majority, the common folk, 431D are controlled, there, by the desires and the understanding of the more moderate minority?

I do, said he.

So if any city should be described as stronger than its pleasures and desires, and itself, this one should be so described.

Yes, entirely so, said he.

Shouldn’t it also be described as sound-minded on the basis of all these?

Very much so, said he.

And what’s more if the same opinion as to who should rule is present among the rulers 431E and subjects in any city, it would indeed be present in ours. Don’t you think so?

Very much so, said he, definitely.

So among which of the two groups of citizens would you say that sound-mindedness is present whenever they hold such an opinion; among the rulers or among the ruled?

Among both, I presume, said he.

Well, do you see, said I, that our prophecy was quite accurate just now; that sound-mindedness resembles a sort of harmony?

Why so?

Because unlike courage and wisdom, each of which are present in a particular part of the city, thus making it wise in one case, and courageous in the other, sound-mindedness operates differently. It really extends through the whole city, through everyone, the weakest and the strongest alike, and those in the middle too, be it in intelligence, strength, numbers or wealth, or in anything else like this, and it makes them sing the same song. And so, we would be quite right to declare this unanimity to be sound-mindedness; a natural concord of the worse and better, as to which should rule, either in a city 432B or in a single individual.

I agree entirely, said he.

There it is, said I; we have seen these three quite clearly in our city; that’s how it seems at any rate. But what about the remaining form? The city would still get a share of excellence through that, so what precisely would it be? For justice is, of course, this remainder.

Of course.

Now is the time, Glaucon, when we, like hunters, should surround the thicket, paying careful attention lest justice escape us, slip away and be lost from sight. Yes, apparently 432C it is around here somewhere, so look out and make an effort to catch sight of it, and if you see it before I do, then tell me.

If only I could, said he. But it is better if you use me as your follower, as someone who is able to see what is pointed out to him, quite clearly; then you will be treating me fairly.

Follow then, said I, praying along with me.

I shall do so, said he, just lead on.

And yet, said I, it looks as if the terrain is hard to traverse and shadowy; it is dark indeed, and hard to hunt in. But we must proceed nevertheless.

432D Yes, we must proceed, said he.

Then I spotted something and shouted; ho, ho, Glaucon, perhaps we have a trace of it, and so I don’t think it will escape us entirely.

That’s good news, said he.

In fact, said I, we are being stupid.

In what way?

All the while, blessed man, it appears to have been rolling about under our feet, from the very outset, and yet, we did not see it. We are highly comical figures, like people who sometimes look for something 432E they are already holding in their hands, and we, instead of looking directly at it, were peering off into the distance, and that’s probably why it escaped our notice.

What do you mean, he asked?

As follows, said I, I think that although we have been speaking of justice, and hearing about it all along, we have not understood ourselves, and appreciated, that in a way, we have been speaking about it.

For someone who is eager to hear you, said he, this prelude is a lengthy one.

433A But do listen, said I, in case I have a point. Indeed, in the beginning, when we were founding our city, the rule of action that we proposed throughout is, in my opinion, either justice or a form of justice. And we proposed, of course, and have said many times since, if you recall, that each individual should engage in one activity in the city, the one to which his own nature would naturally be best suited.

Yes, we have said this.

And indeed, we have heard from many others, and have often said ourselves, 433B that justice is doing what belongs to oneself and not being meddlesome.

Yes, we said so.

Then justice my friend, said I, is likely to be this: “doing what belongs to oneself”, when it occurs in a certain way. Do you know how I come to this conclusion?

No, said he, please tell me.

It seems to me, said I, that after considering sound-mindedness, courage and wisdom in the city, this is what’s left, and this is what provides the power for all these to come into existence, and once they have come into existence, it ensures their preservation, as long as it is present. Since 433C we did maintain that if we were to find the other three this would be the one left undiscovered.

Yes indeed, this must be so, said he.

Well now, said I, if we had to decide which of these four contributes most to making our city good, it would be difficult to decide whether it is the unanimity of opinion among the rulers and those who are ruled, or the preservation of the opinion, in accordance with law, as to what things should and should not be feared, or the wisdom and guardianship 433D inherent in the military class. Or is this what does most to make the city good; the fact that among children, among women, among slaves and free, among artisans, rulers and subjects, each individual was engaging in the one undertaking that is his own, and was not being meddlesome?

It would be hard to decide between them, said he, of course.

In that case, it seems, that in relation to the excellence of the city, the capacity of each person therein to engage in what belongs to himself is on an equal footing with its wisdom, its sound-mindedness and its courage.

Very much so, said he.

So would you propose that what’s on an equal footing with these three, in terms of the excellence of the city, is justice?

Entirely so.

433E Then you should also consider the following argument too; will you assign the task of judging legal disputes to those who rule in the city?

Of course.

And do they have any other intention in passing judgement besides ensuring that no one gets what belongs to someone else, or is deprived of what belongs to himself?

Nothing besides this.

Because this is what’s just?


So we could also accept, on this basis too, that having or doing 434A what is one’s own, and what belongs to oneself, is justice.

This is so.

Then let’s see if this seems to you as it does to me. Suppose a carpenter attempts to do the work of a shoemaker, or a shoemaker the work of a carpenter, or they exchange tools, or social status, with one another, or the same person tries to engage in both activities, and all the other roles are changed too, do you think this would greatly harm the city?

Not really, said he.

But whenever someone who is, by nature, a craftsman or some other commercial type, puffed up by wealth, numbers, strength or anything else 434B like this, tries to enter the military class, or a member of that class tries to enter the decision making, guardian class, undeservedly, and they interchange their instruments and social status with one another, or the same person tries to engage in all these activities at the same time, then I think you agree with me, that this exchange of roles and this meddling is the ruination of the city.

Yes, entirely so.

So this meddling among these classes, three in number, and changing one into the other, 434C is enormously harmful to the city and this, above all, may be referred to, most correctly, as evildoing.

Exactly so.

And wouldn’t you declare that the greatest evildoing towards one’s own city is injustice.

Of course.

So this is injustice. Then again, we may say that the opposite of this; the commercial, auxiliary and guardian classes, engaging in their own functions, each of them doing what belongs to itself in the city, would be justice, and would render the city just.

Yes, said he, that’s it, just so.

434D Let’s not, said I, say it with complete certainty just yet, but if this form, when applied to each person individually, is also accepted by us as justice in that case too, we shall concede the point at that stage; what else could we do? But if not, we shall then consider something else. But we should now complete the enquiry in which we presumed that, if we first attempted to observe justice in something large that possesses it, we would more easily discern the sort of thing it is, in a single person. 434E Now we thought this large entity was a city, and so we founded the best one we could, knowing full well that justice would be present in the good one.

So we should apply whatever has become evident in the city, to the individual, and if it corresponds, all will be well. But if something different becomes evident in the case of the individual, we should go back again 435A to the city and put this to the test. Then, perhaps, scrutinising them side by side, and rubbing them together, we might cause justice to blaze forth like fire from fire-sticks, and once it has made its appearance we could become certain of it for ourselves.

Yes, said he, that’s the method and we should do as you say.

Well now, said I, if something may be described as the same, be it larger or smaller, would it turn out to be unlike in that way, in the way it is described as the same, or would it be like, in that way?

Like, said he.

435B And in that case, said I, a just man will not differ from a just city with respect to the form itself, of justice; he will be like it in that respect.

Like, said he.

And indeed a city seemed to be just, because the three kinds of natures present in her, each engaged in what belonged to themselves. Furthermore it was sound-minded, courageous and wise through certain other characteristics and habits of these same classes.

True, said he.

And so we shall expect my friend, on this basis, that the individual, having these same forms 435C in his own soul, because of the same characteristics as those, rightly deserves the same names as the city.

That’s completely inevitable, said he.

Oh dear, said I, we have stumbled into a further “ordinary” issue concerning the soul: whether she has these three forms within herself or not.

It doesn’t seem at all “ordinary” to me, said he. In fact the saying may well be true, Socrates; what’s good is difficult.

Apparently so, Glaucon, said I. And mark my words, in my opinion, 435D we shall never understand this in a precise manner from the sort of methods we are now using in these arguments; for there is another path, longer and more extensive, leading to this. Yet it may perhaps be done in a manner worthy of what has been said previously, and the previous enquiries.

Wouldn’t that be satisfactory, said he. Indeed, that would be enough for me, for the moment at least.

Yes, said I, it will be quite sufficient for me too.

Then don’t flag, said he, just enquire.

In that case, said I, don’t we really have to accept that the same 435E forms and traits are present in each of us, as there are in the city? For, presumably they did not get there from anywhere else. Indeed it would be laughable if someone were to believe that the spiritedness in cities does not arise from its private citizens, the ones who actually have this reputation, as the Thracians and Scythians do, and almost anyone else from the northern region; or indeed, the love of learning that someone might 436A attribute mostly to our own region, or the love of money mainly associated with the Phoenicians and the people of Egypt, as some would say.

Very much, said he.

This is how matters stand then, said I, and it is not difficult to recognise.

No indeed.

The difficulty at this stage concerns whether we enact each of these with the same thing, or with three things; using a different one for each. Do we learn by one of the parts within us, become spirited by another, and then feel desire by some 436B third part, concerned with the pleasures of food and procreation, and anything related to these? Or do we, in each case, act with the whole soul, when we embark upon action? These are the issues that will be difficult to determine properly.

I think so too, said he.

Well there is a way to determine whether these are the same as one another or different.


It is obvious that whatever is the same, will not, at the same time, either do or suffer opposites, not in the same respect, and in relation to the same thing, at any rate. And so, if we should somehow find 436C this happening in the case of these three, we shall know that they are not the same, but a number of different things.

So be it.

Then please consider what I am saying.

Speak, said he.

So is it possible, said I, for the same thing to be stationary and moving at the same time, in the same respect?

Not at all.

But we should agree this even more precisely, in case we encounter some conflict as we proceed. For if someone describes a man who is stationary, but is moving his hands and his head, and says that the same person is stationary, and moving at the same time, I presume we would not think that was the right way to describe this. 436D We would say that a part of him is stationary, while another part is moving; isn’t this so?

Just so.

Now if the person saying all this were to enjoy himself, even more, by making the subtle point that spinning tops, as a whole, are stationary and in motion at the same time, when they are spinning around with their centre fixed in the same place, we would not accept this, because in cases like this, they are not at rest, and moving about, in respect of the same parts of themselves. We would say, rather, that they have straight 436E and circular in them, and in respect of the straight, they are stationary since they are not tilting in any way, while, in respect of the circular, they are moving in a circle. But when the straight inclines to the right or the left, to the front, or the back, and it is revolving at the same time, then it is not stationary at all.

And we would be right to say so, said he.

So no propositions of this sort will bother us, or persuade us, to any extent, that the same thing could ever experience, be, or perform two opposites at the same time, in the same respect, in relation 437A to the same thing.

Not me, at any rate, said he.

Nevertheless, said I, so that we are not compelled to drag this out by going through all possible objections of this sort, and confirm that they are not true, let’s assume that this is how matters stand, and proceed, having agreed that if it ever proves otherwise, all our conclusions derived from this will have been undone.

Yes, said he, that’s what we should do.

437B In that case would you propose that assenting and dissenting, striving to get something and rejecting it, embracing and pushing away, everything of this sort, are all opposites of one another, regardless of whether one does them or suffers them; that makes no difference?

Yes, said he, they are opposites.

What about hunger and thirst and the desires in general, wanting and wishing too; wouldn’t you, somehow, include these among the forms we described? For example, wouldn’t you say that the soul of someone who has a desire, 437C either strives for whatever it desires, or embraces whatever it wishes to obtain. Or again, insofar as it wants something to be provided, wouldn’t you say, it assents to this, assents to itself, as if someone else was asking, and the soul was reaching out to get it?

I would.

What about not wishing, not wanting and not desiring, wouldn’t we associate these with the soul’s pushing away or driving away from itself and, in general, the opposites of those previous examples?

Of course.

437D This being the case, shall we maintain that desires constitute a particular class, and the most obvious of these are what we call thirst and hunger?

We shall, said he.

Isn’t one a desire for drink, the other for food?


Well then, insofar as it is thirst, would it be a desire, in the soul, for anything more than this; anything more than what we are saying it is a desire for? Is thirst, for instance, a thirst for hot or cold drink, or a lot of, or little drink, or in short, for a certain kind of drink? Or if some heat is present in addition to the thirst, would it give rise to the desire 437E for cold, and if cold is present, to the desire for hot? And if, because of the presence of “much”, the thirst is much, it will bring about a desire for much, and if it is little, a desire for little. But thirst itself will never become a desire for anything else besides what it is naturally for, namely drink, while hunger, for its part, is desire for food.

That’s it, said he, each desire, itself, without qualification is only for the natural object of that desire, just that, while any additions are desires for something of this sort, or something of that sort.

438A And beware, said I, lest anyone trouble our unreflective minds, by saying that no one desires drink or food, but good drink and good food, since everyone, of course, desires what’s good: so if thirst is desire, it would be for good, be it good drink or anything else; and the same holds for the other desires.

Yes, said he, perhaps someone who said this might seem to have a point.

Well now, said I, in the case of the sort of things that are related to something else, 438B the things of a certain kind are related to something else of a certain kind, or so it seems to me, while the things, just by themselves, relate to themselves alone.

I do not understand, said he.

Don’t you understand, I said, that the greater is greater in relation to something?

Entirely so.

Isn’t it greater in relation to the lesser?


And what’s much greater is in relation to what’s much less. Is this so?


And what’s greater, on occasion, is in relation to what’s less, on occasion, and what will be greater, is in relation to what will be less.

Of course, said he.

And does the same apply to more, in relation to fewer, double in relation to half 438C and everything else of this sort and, of course, heavy in relation to light, and also hot in relation to cold, and everything like these?

Very much so.

And isn’t it the same with various kinds of knowledge? Knowledge is, itself, knowledge of learning, of learning itself, or of whatever we should propose that the object of knowledge actually is: whereas particular knowledge, of a certain kind, is of something particular, of a certain kind. What I mean is this; when knowledge of how to build a house 438D arose, wasn’t it different from the other kinds of knowledge so that it could be referred to as “house-building knowledge”?

Of course.

Wasn’t this by its being a certain kind of knowledge, a kind that is different from any of the others?


Wasn’t it because it was of something of a certain kind, that knowledge itself became knowledge of a certain kind, and doesn’t the same apply to the other skills and kinds of knowledge.

Just so.

Well then, said I, if you actually understand now, please accept that this is what I wanted to say earlier; that among things that are related to something else, these, just by themselves, 438E relate to these just by themselves, while those of a certain kind relate to things of a certain kind. And I do not mean that they actually are the sort of things they are related to, so that knowledge of what is healthy or diseased is healthy or diseased knowledge, and knowledge of what’s bad and good is bad or good knowledge. Rather, when knowledge became, not just knowledge of the object of knowledge, but of something of a certain kind, namely, health or disease, then the knowledge, as a consequence, became knowledge of a certain kind and was no longer simply called knowledge. Once the particular kind is added on, it is called medical knowledge.

I understand, said he, and I think this is how matters stand.

439A Well then, said I, in the case of thirst, wouldn’t you propose that it is one of those things that is what it is, in relation to something else? And what it is, is of course, thirst.

I would, said he, and it is in relation to drink.

And isn’t a particular kind of thirst, related to a particular kind of drink, while thirst itself is neither for much or little, nor for good or bad, nor in short for any particular kind of drink; thirst itself is, by nature, only for drink itself.

Entirely so.

So the soul of the thirsty person, insofar as it is thirsty, wants 439B to do nothing else except to drink; it yearns for this and strives for this.

Of course.

In that case, if anything ever draws it away from drink, when it is thirsty, wouldn’t that be something else within the soul, besides that which is just thirsty and is leading it on, like a wild animal, to drink? For according to us, the same thing does not, at the same time, do opposite things with the same part of itself, in relation to the same thing.

Indeed not.

So, for instance, in the case of an archer, I presume it is not appropriate to say that his hands push and pull the bow at the same time, but that one hand pushes while the other 439C pulls.

Entirely so, said he.

Now, would we maintain that there are, on occasion, people who refuse to drink although they are thirsty?

Very much so, said he; lots of them, on many occasions.

Well then, said I, what might one say about these? Whatever bids them drink is present in their soul, isn’t it? And whatever forbids them is there too, and this is something different, that overpowers whatever bids them.

I think so, said he.

Now doesn’t whatever forbids such actions as these, arise from reasoning, whenever it does arise, 439D while everything that attracts and drags the soul, comes about through external influences, or diseases?


So it will be quite reasonable for us to regard these as two things, separate from one another; referring to the one by which the soul reasons, as the rational part, and to the one by which it is passionate, hungry, thirsty or is aroused by the other desires, as the irrational, appetitive part associated with certain satisfactions and pleasures.

Indeed, said he, it would be reasonable for us to think so.

439E Then we should, said I, distinguish between these two forms, present in the soul; but what about spirit, by which we become spirited? Is this a third form, or would it be similar in nature to one or the other of these two?

To one of them, perhaps, said he, to the appetitive.

But I heard a story once, said I, and I believe it, that Leontius, son of Aglaion, was coming up from the Peiraeus, under the outside of the northern wall, when he noticed corpses lying beside the public executioner. He felt a desire to look at them and, at the same time, he was disgusted and turned himself away 440A and for a while he struggled and covered his face, but finally, overpowered by the desire, he opened his eyes wide, ran up to the corpses and said;

“Take a look you wretches, have your fill of this beautiful sight”.

I have heard this myself, said he.

Well, said I, this story indicates that wrath sometimes fights against desires; one thing fighting against another.

Yes, it indicates this, said he.

Aren’t there many other situations too where desires are forcing 440B someone to act contrary to reason, and he reviles himself and rouses his spirit against the part, within himself, that is forcing him? It’s as if there are two factions, and the spirit of a person like this becomes the ally of the reasoning part. But spirit making common cause with the desires, when reason concludes that something should not be done, I am sure you would say, you have never observed anything like this in yourself, nor, I presume, in anyone else.

No, by Zeus, said he.

But what if someone thinks he himself is acting unjustly? I asked. The more noble he is, 440C the less able he is to get angry because he suffers hunger or cold or anything else like that, at the hands of someone who believes he is inflicting these justly. Indeed, I am saying that his spirit will not be prepared to rise up against this fellow.

True, said he.

And what if someone believes he is being treated unjustly? In that case doesn’t he seethe with anger, and fight alongside whatever seems just? And despite suffering hunger, cold and everything of that sort, doesn’t he endure 440D and prevail, never forsaking all that is noble, until he has either succeeded, or perished, or is called back and calmed by the reason within him, as a dog is recalled by a shepherd?

Entirely so, said he, it’s just like that. And of course we installed the auxiliaries in our city, just like dogs, obedient to their rulers, the shepherds of the city.

You have appreciated what I wish to explain, quite well, said I. But did you notice something else besides this?


440E That the spirited element is appearing in a very different light than it did recently. Then we thought that it was something appetitive, but now, in total contrast, we are saying that it is much more inclined to deploy its weaponry in support of the rational element, when there is conflict in the soul.

Entirely so, said he.

Now does it do so as something different from the rational element, or as a form of the rational element, in which case there would not be three elements in the soul, but two; the rational and the appetitive? Or is the soul just like the city, which was constituted by three classes; 441A the commercial, the auxiliary and the deliberative? And is the spirited element, therefore, a third element in the soul, a natural auxiliary to the rational element, unless it gets corrupted by a bad upbringing?

It must be a third element, said he.

Yes, said I, provided it is shown to be different from the rational element, just as it was shown to be different from the appetitive element.

But that is not difficult to show, said he; indeed, even in children, you can see, that although they are full of spirit as soon as they are born, some of them, in my opinion, never partake 441B of reason, while most of them take a long time to do so.

Yes, by Zeus, said I, you put that nicely. And even in wild animals it can be seen that what you are saying is true. And as well as these instances, the extract form Homer that we quoted elsewhere will lend support:

He smote his breast and rebuked his heart with the words …..

Since, in this case, Homer has clearly made 441C the part that has reasoned about what is better and what is worse, rebuke the unreasoning spirit, as if they were two different things.

Exactly, said he, you’re right.

So, said I, we have, with some difficulty, come safely through all this, and we have agreed, that in all likelihood, the same kinds are present in the city and in the soul of each individual person, and the same number too.

This is so.

Well isn’t it necessarily the case, at this stage, that in whatever way the city is wise, so too is the private citizen wise, and the element whereby the city is wise is the element whereby the person is wise?

Of course.

And is the element whereby a private citizen is courageous 441D also the element whereby the city is courageous, and is the way in which one is so, the way in which the other is so, and in all other cases related to excellence, must the same manner of being so, apply to both?


Then Glaucon, I presume we shall maintain that a man is just, in the same way that a city was just.

This too is necessarily the case; entirely so.

But we surely have not forgotten that this city was just, by each of the three classes within her, each doing what belongs to itself.

I don’t think we have forgotten, said he.

Then we must remember that each of us, in whom each of the parts within us does what belongs to itself, will be just 441E and will be doing whatever belongs to himself.

We must remember this indeed, said he.

Isn’t it appropriate that the rational element rule, as it is wise and exercises forethought on behalf of the entire soul, while the spirited part should be subordinate, and fight by its side?

Entirely so.

In that case, as we were saying, doesn’t the combination of music and gymnastic make them both harmonious: intensifying and nurturing 442A the one, with noble words and learning, while relaxing and soothing the other; making it gentle through harmony and rhythm?

Exactly, said he.

And these two then, nurtured in this way, having learned, and been educated in, what truly belongs to themselves, will take command of the appetitive element, which is the most extensive part of the soul in each of us, and the part that is, by nature, the most greedy for wealth. They will watch over this in case it gets too big and strong, by filling itself with the so-called pleasures of the body, and rather than doing what belongs to itself, 442B attempts to enslave and rule over, what its kind should not rule over, and overturns the entire life of everyone.

Very much so, said he.

And aren’t these two also best equipped to guard against external enemies, on behalf of the soul and the body too, one giving advice, the other fighting on their behalf, following the advice of the ruling element, and carrying it out courageously.

Just so.

And we call each individual 442C courageous too, I presume, because of this part; whenever his spirited element, in the face of pain or pleasure, holds to what has been proclaimed, by the words, to be worthy of fear, or not.

And rightly so, said he.

And we call him wise because of that small part, the one that ruled in him and made these proclamations; a part that has, in turn, the knowledge within itself of what is beneficial to each part, and to the whole community, consisting of the three of them.

Very much so, said he.

What about being sound-minded? Isn’t this because of the friendship and harmony of these themselves, 442D when the ruling element, and the two that are ruled, share the belief that the rational element should rule, and do not take a stand against it?

That, said he, is exactly what sound-mindedness is, either in a city or a private citizen.

Then again, he will be just, because of the principle we have referred to on many occasions; he will be just because of this, and in this way.

Yes, he really must be.

Well then, said I, are we seeing justice any less distinctly? Does it seem to be something different from what it turned out to be in the case of the city?

Well, said he, it doesn’t seem different to me.

Indeed, said I, in case there is any doubt still lurking in our 442E souls, we could make completely certain of this by applying some commonplace considerations to it.

Of what sort?

Suppose we needed to come to an understanding concerning this city, and the man who resembles it in nature and upbringing, and whether such a person would withhold a deposit of gold or silver with which he had been entrusted; do you think anyone could believe that a man like this would do such a deed, 443A rather than someone who is not like this?

No one could, said he.

And wouldn’t sacrilege, theft, betrayal of friends in his private life, or betrayal of the city in his public life, be alien to this man?


Nor indeed would he be unfaithful to his oaths or any other agreements.

No, how could he?

Adultery too, neglect of parents, and disregard for the gods, may be associated with anyone else, but not with a person like this.

Anyone else indeed, said he.

443B And in all these cases, the explanation is that each of the elements within him does what belongs to itself, in relation to ruling and being ruled.

There is no other explanation; that’s it.

So, are you still looking for justice? Is it anything else besides this power, which produces men of this sort, and cities too?

By Zeus, said he, I am not.

So our dream has finally come to maturity; the suspicion we spoke of, that as soon as we set about founding our city, thanks to some god, 443C we had, in all probability, stumbled upon the origin and some outline, of justice.

Yes, entirely so.

And so, Glaucon, this was after all, a sort of image of justice, that is why it was useful; the principle that someone who is, by nature, a shoemaker, rightly practises shoemaking, and engages in nothing else, while the carpenter engages in carpentry; and the same goes for all the others.

Apparently so.

Now although justice was, in truth, it seems, something of this sort, it was not anything concerned with the external activity that belongs to a person, but 443D with the inner activity that truly concerns himself, and what belongs to himself, not permitting each element in himself to engage in activities that are alien to it, nor allowing the kinds that are in the soul to meddle in one another’s functions. Rather, putting what is his own, in place, well and truly, ruling over, and bringing order to himself, becoming a friend to himself, and harmonising the three elements, which are really like the three defining notes of the musical scale; the highest, lowest and middle, and any others that are 443E in between, having bound all these together, from many, he becomes entirely one; sound-minded and harmonious. Then and only then does he proceed to act, if any action is needed, either in the acquisition of wealth, the care of the body, or indeed in civic affairs or private contracts. In all these activities, whatever preserves, and helps to bring about this condition, he regards as a just and noble action, and he names it accordingly, and the knowledge 444A that presides over this action he calls wisdom. But whatever action consistently undoes this disposition, he calls unjust, and he calls the opinion that presides over it, ignorance.

What you are saying, Socrates, said he, is entirely true.

There it is, said I; if we were to claim that we had found the just man and the just city, and what justice in them happens to be, I don’t think we’d seem to be telling an out and out lie.

Indeed not, by Zeus, said he.

So should we make this claim?

We should.

Let it be so, then, said I; since we should go on to consider injustice next.


444B Mustn’t it, by contrast, consist in faction among these three elements; a meddlesomeness whereby they do what’s alien to themselves; one part rising up against the entire soul, to rule there when that is not its role; a part that is naturally suited to slavery enslaving the part that is naturally suited to rule. These, I believe, are the sort of things we will say, and that the confusion of these elements, and their going astray, is injustice, lack of restraint, cowardice and ignorance and, in short, all evil.

444C That’s exactly what they are, said he.

Well then, said I, as for performing unjust actions, and being unjust, and performing just actions too, isn’t it clear and obvious at this stage what all of these actually are, since it is clear what injustice and justice are?

How so?

Because there is no difference between these two, and health and disease; these are to the body, as justice and injustice are to the soul.

In what way, he asked?

What’s healthy presumably produces health, while what’s diseased produces disease.


And doesn’t doing what’s just produce justice, while doing what’s unjust 444D produces injustice?


And producing health consists in establishing the elements in the body, so that they control, and are controlled by one another, according to nature, while producing disease consists in establishing them so that they rule, and are ruled, one by another contrary to nature.

Yes, that’s it.

Well, said I, won’t producing justice, for its part, consist in establishing the elements in the soul, so that they control, and are controlled by one another, according to nature, while producing injustice will consist in establishing them so that they rule, and are ruled, one by another, contrary to nature?

Exactly, he replied.

So excellence, it seems, would be a sort of health, beauty and vigour 444E of the soul, while vice would be a disease, disgrace and weakness.

Just so.

Now isn’t it the case that noble activities lead to the acquisition of excellence, while disgraceful ones lead to vice?


Then what remains for us to consider at this stage, it seems, is whether it is indeed, profitable 445A to do what’s just, engage in noble actions, and be just, whether such behaviour goes unnoticed or not, or, on the other hand, to act unjustly and be unjust, provided one does not pay a penalty, or become a better person by being punished.

But Socrates, said he, that consideration, as I see it, is already becoming absurd if it implies that life is not worth living when the nature of the body is corrupted, even if the person is surrounded by food and drink of every sort, huge wealth, and enormous power, yet implies that life will indeed be worth living, when this very nature by which we live, is confounded and corrupted, 445B provided the person does as he wishes, and avoids anything whereby he will banish evils and injustices, and acquire justice and excellence, especially since these have turned out to be as we have described them.

Absurd indeed, said I; but nevertheless, since we have come far enough to see, quite clearly, that this is how matters stand, we should not flag at this stage.

No, by Zeus, said he, we should not flag at all; not in the least.

445C Come here then, said I, so that you may behold how many forms this evil has, in my opinion, those that are worthy of note at any rate.

I am following you, said he, just speak.

Well then, said I, it appears to me, from our present viewing point, so to speak, having ascended to this level of argument, that there is one form of excellence, and that the forms of evil are without limit, although there are four of them that are worth mentioning.

How do you mean?

There are probably as many types of soul, as there are types of government with a particular form.

445D How many?

Five types of government and five types of soul.

Tell me, what types.

I say, said I; that one type of government is the one we have been describing, although it is given two names; for when one exceptional individual arises among those who rule, it is referred to as “kingship”, and when there is more than one, as “aristocracy”.

True, said he.

Well I am saying, said I that this is one form; for whether one such person, or a number, arises, they would not alter any 445E laws of the city worth mentioning, provided they have recourse to the upbringing and education we have described.

Yes, that’s most unlikely, said he.

End Book 4


Book 5

449A Well a city like this, and such a form of government, and a man of this sort too, I call good and right. And if this is indeed right, I call the others bad, and wide of the mark in relation to the management of cities, and provision for the type of soul of their private citizens. There are four forms of degeneracy in cities.

What are they? he asked.

And as I was about to speak of these four, in turn, and how, in my view, they each 449B evolve from one another, Polemarchus, who was seated further from Adeimantus, reached out his hand, grabbed his garment from above, around the shoulder, drew the man toward him, stretched forward, leaned towards him and said a few things, none of which we could hear, except:

Well, shall we let this go, said he, or what shall we do?

Not in the least, said Adeimantus, speaking loudly at this stage.

And I said, what precisely are you “not letting go”?

You, said he.

449C Because of what, precisely, said I?

We think, said he, that you are taking the easy way, and cheating us out of a whole section of the argument, an important one at that, so that you don’t have to go through it in detail. And you think you will get away with saying, glibly, that, of course, in the case of women and children, it is obvious to everyone that “the possessions of friends should be shared.”

Is that not right, Adeimantus? said I.

Yes, said he, but “right”, like everything else, requires explanation; what is the manner of the sharing? Indeed it could be meant in many ways. 449D So don’t just pass on; tell us what sense you intend, as we have been waiting for some time, expecting you, somehow, to mention the procreation of children; how this will happen, and how they will be reared once they have been born, and explain this whole issue of the sharing of women and children that you are speaking of. For we believe, that arranging this correctly or incorrectly, is of enormous significance, on the whole, to a system of government. So now, since you are in the process of tackling another form of government before dealing properly with these issues, we are resolved, as you heard, 450A not to let you proceed until you have gone through all these details, just as you did with the others.

And you can include me in that vote too, said Glaucon.

Indeed, Socrates, said Thrasymachus, you may regard this as a resolution of us all.

What have you done, said I, tackling me like this? What an enormous argument you are setting in train; it’s like starting all over again, from the beginning, about the form of government, when I was pleased that this had been dealt with already, being satisfied if someone would allow all this, and accept 450B what was said at the time. Now when you call these matters into question, you don’t realise what a swarm of arguments you are stirring up. I saw this earlier, and I passed on for fear of raising too much difficulty.

What’s this, said Thrasymachus, do you think these people have come here on some gold-rush, and not to hear arguments?

Yes, said I, arguments in measure.

Yes, Socrates, but for reasonable folk, their whole life is the measure of hearing arguments like these. But don’t be concerned about us, and for your own part, don’t tire at all 450C of expanding upon your views; what will be the manner of this sharing of children, and of women, among our guardians, and the rearing of the young ones in the intervening years, after they are born and before their education, a troublesome period, it seems. So try to describe the manner in which this should happen.

Blessed man, said I, this is not easy to explain, since it involves a great deal that is difficult to accept, even more than what we dealt with previously. Indeed it may be hard to believe that what is said is possible, and even if it were, somehow or other, to become a reality, it may be hard to accept these would be the best arrangements. That’s why, dear friend, there is some reluctance 450D to touch them at all, in case the argument looks like a vain hope.

Let there be no hesitation, said he, for your hearers will be neither unsympathetic, nor incredulous, nor negative.

And I said, best if men, I presume you wish to encourage me by saying this?

I do, said he.

Well you are doing the exact opposite, said I. If I believed I knew what I was talking about, your encouragement would be well placed. For to speak the truth, when you know it, among reasonable folk 450E and friends, on matters of great importance that are dear to your heart, is safe and encouraging. But to construct arguments when you are still in doubt and still seeking, which is what I am doing, is a frightening 451A and perilous undertaking. Not for fear of being laughed at, that is a trivial concern, but that I shall stumble from the truth, and bring down, not just myself, but my friends too, on issues we should not stumble from at all. And I prostrate myself before Adrasteia, Glaucon, for what I am about to say. For I expect that it is a lesser error to become a murderer, by mistake, than to deceive noble and good people about what’s just and lawful. Now, it is better to run this risk among enemies rather than friends, so you do well to encourage me.

451B Glaucon laughed, and said: but, Socrates, if we experience any disquiet over your argument, we shall acquit you as if you had been charged with murder; to us, you are pure and not a deceiver; so take heart, and speak.

Well then, said I, according to the law, someone acquitted in court is pure, so that is likely to be so in this situation too.

Then speak, said he, now that this is resolved.

In that case, said I, we need to go back over this once more, and say now, in due order, whatever we probably should have said at the time. And perhaps this would be the correct way: after the male drama has been described thoroughly, let’s go on and conclude the female drama, especially since that’s what you are asking me to do. Indeed, in my opinion, for people whose nature and education is as we have described it, there isn’t another correct way of possessing, and dealing with children and women, besides proceeding in the direction in which we first sent them. In our account we attempted, I believe, to establish the men as guardians of a herd.


451D Well let’s follow this up by assigning them the relevant birth and upbringing and decide if that is appropriate for our purposes or not.

In what way? said he.

As follows: do we think female guard-dogs should guard whatever the males guard, along with them, and hunt, and share in the other duties too? Or should they be kept at home, indoors, unable to do all this because they bear the puppies and rear them, while the males go out to work, and have total responsibility for the flock?

They should share in everything, said he, except that we would employ the females as weaker and the males as stronger.

451E Now is it possible, said I, to employ any creature, in the same roles as any other creature, if they have not received the same upbringing and education?

That is not possible.

So if we are to employ women in the same roles as men, they also should be taught the same things.

452A Yes.

Music and gymnastics were given to the men.


In that case, these two skills should be given to the women too, along with anything related to warfare, and they should be employed in the same ways.

That’s likely, said he, from what you are saying.

Perhaps then, said I, compared to what we are used to, a lot of what we are now describing might appear comical, if practised in the way it is being described.

Very much so, said he.

What, said I, do you regard as the most comical aspect of all this? Or is it, of course, the prospect of the women exercising naked in the Palaestra alongside the men, 452B not just the young women, but the older ones too, just like the old men in the gymnasium when they are wrinkled and not a pleasant sight, who love their gymnastics nevertheless.

Yes, by Zeus, said he. That would look comical, by present day standards at least.

Well, said I, since our discussion is under way, we should not be afraid of whatever jokes, of whatever kind, the witty folk might make about such a transformation taking place in the realms of gymnastics or music, 452C especially in relation to women bearing arms or riding horses.

Quite right, said he.

And since we have begun to discuss this, we should proceed to the rough terrain of the law and implore these wits not to do what belongs to themselves, but to be serious, and we shall remind them that it is not long since the Greeks thought it disgraceful, and comical too, as do most other races today, for men to be seen naked, and when the practice of exercising naked first started among the Cretans, and then among the Spartans, 452D the polite folk of that era got away with making a mockery of all this; don’t you think so?

I do.

However, I think, once it became evident to those who adopted the practice, that it is better to undress for any activities of this sort, rather than covering up, then, what is comical to the eyes vanished, in the face of what reason proclaimed to be best. And this demonstrated that it is futile to regard anything as comical, except what is bad. And that someone who tries to raise a laugh by regarding any other spectacle, apart from stupidity and evil, as comical, will also, in all seriousness, be setting up another 452E standard of nobility, apart from what’s good.

Entirely so, said he.

Well now, shouldn’t we first come to agreement on whether all this is possible or not, and grant a right of reply, in case someone wishes to argue, in jest or seriously, over whether human nature, in the case of the female, is able 453A to share in all the tasks of the male, or in none of them, or in some but not in others, and over which of these two categories this military role belongs to? Wouldn’t this be the best way to start the process to ensure that we are likely to finish in the best way too?

Very much so, said he.

In that case, said I, would you like us to take up the dispute, ourselves, on their behalf, in case the arguments of the other side go undefended against our repeated attacks.

There is no reason not to, said he.

453B Then let’s say, on their behalf: “Socrates and Glaucon, there is no need for you to dispute with anyone else, since you yourselves, when you began founding this city of yours, agreed that each individual should engage in the one function that is his own, by nature.”

I believe we agreed this, why wouldn’t we?

“Mustn’t there be an enormous difference in nature between a woman and a man?”

Yes, they must be different.

“In that case, isn’t it appropriate to assign a different function to each: the one that is their own, by nature?”

Of course.

453C “So how can you avoid falling into error now, and saying the opposite of what you yourselves said before, by maintaining that although men and women are vastly different in nature, they should perform the same functions.” Well my wonderful friend, what defence will you be able to offer in response to this?

It is not very easy, said he, to respond so suddenly. But I shall ask you, and I am asking you, to elaborate the case on our behalf, whatever that is.

These, dear Glaucon, and many others like them, are the issues that I was afraid of, when I foresaw them a while ago, and so I was reluctant to deal with 453D the law concerning the possession and upbringing of women and children.

It doesn’t seem to be an easy subject to deal with, said he, not at all, by Zeus.

Indeed not, said I, but the fact of the matter is, that regardless of whether someone falls into a little bathing pool, or the middle of a vast sea, he swims nonetheless.

Very much so.

Shouldn’t we swim too, and attempt to save ourselves from the argument, hoping that some dolphin, or some other more unusual saviour would pick us up?

Quite likely, said he.

453E Come on then, said I, let’s find some way out of this. Although we agree, of course, that a different nature should engage in a different activity, and that women and men differ in nature, we are now maintaining that these different natures should engage in the same activities. Are these the accusations against us?

Yes, precisely.

454A Dear Glaucon, said I, how noble is the power of this skill of contradiction.


Because, said I, it seems to me that many people fall into this, unintentionally, and believe they are engaging in discussion, not arguing. This is because they are unable to consider what is being said, by making distinctions on the basis of forms, so they pursue their opposition to what is being said, based only upon the word, employing argumentation rather than dialectic towards one another.

Yes indeed, said he, that’s what happens to a lot of people, but surely this doesn’t apply to us, at the moment?

454B It certainly does, said I, since we are in danger of engaging, unintentionally, in contradiction.


On the basis only of the word, we are very manfully and argumentatively, pursuing the point that the same nature should not have the same pursuits, but we did not consider, in any way, what form of different nature we were distinguishing, when we assigned different pursuits to a different nature, and the same to the same.

No indeed, said he, we did not consider this.

454C In that case, said I, we may, it seems, ask ourselves if the nature of bald men and long haired men is the same or the opposite; and should we agree that it is opposite, and bald men engage in shoemaking, we would not allow hairy men to do so, and again, if hairy men did so, we would not let the others do so.

That would be ridiculous indeed, said he.

Yes, said I, but for what reason? Isn’t it because, at the time, we were not speaking of a nature that was the same or different in every respect? Rather we were paying attention 454D only to that form of difference or sameness that applies to the pursuits themselves. We meant, for instance, that a man and a woman with the soul of a physician have the same nature; do you think so?

I do.

But a physician and a builder have a different nature?

Completely different, I suppose.

Well, said I, if it turns out that the male sex, or the female sex, excel at some skill or in any pursuit, shouldn’t we then declare that this should be assigned to them? But if it merely turns out that they differ in that the female bears the offspring, while the male begets 454E them, and in this respect alone, then we shall maintain that nothing more has yet been presented that is relevant to what we are saying about how a woman differs from a man, and we shall go on thinking that our guardians, and their women, should engage in the same pursuits.

And rightly so, said he.

Now after this, shouldn’t we ask anyone who says the opposite to explain this precisely 455A to us: in relation to what skill or pursuit, relevant to the condition of our city, is the nature of a woman and a man not the same, but different?

Well that’s fair enough.

But perhaps someone else might also say what you said a little earlier, that although it is not easy to respond adequately, there and then, given time to consider the matter, it is not difficult.

Yes, they might say that.

So do you want us to ask the person who raises such objections as these to follow 455B us, in case we may somehow demonstrate to him, that there is no pursuit related to the administration of a city that is particular to a woman?

Entirely so.

Come on then, and answer us, we’ll say: in what way do you mean that one person has a natural gift for something, while another person does not? Is it, that one person learns it easily, while the other has difficulty? Would the one, with minimal instruction, discover a lot for himself about the subject he has been taught, while the other, despite a great deal of instruction and study, wouldn’t even retain what he has been taught? And are the bodily qualities 455C properly subservient to the mental activity in one case, and opposed to it in the other? Are these the criteria by which you distinguish the naturally gifted person from the one who is not, or are there others?

No one, said he, will maintain there are others.

Now do you know anything that is practised by humanity, in which the male sex does not excel over the female in all these respects? Or are we to go on at length about weaving and attending to pancakes and stews, in which the female sex does have a reputation, 455D and where it is utterly laughable for them to lose out to a man.

That’s true, said he, you could say that one sex is much surpassed by the other in everything, and although many women are better than many men in many respects, the situation is, on the whole, as you describe it.

So, my friend, in the case of those who manage a city, there is no pursuit that belongs to a woman because she is a woman, or to a man because he is a man. The natures are distributed in like manner among both creatures, and a woman, by nature, shares in all the pursuits, and so does a man, 455E although a woman is weaker than a man in every case.

Entirely so.

Well then, shall we allocate them all to the men and none to the women?

How could we?

On the contrary, we shall maintain, I presume, that one woman is, by nature, inclined to be a physician, while another is not, one is musical, while another is unmusical.

Of course.

456A Isn’t one woman inclined towards gymnastics and warfare, while another has an aversion to warfare and is no lover of gymnastics?

Yes, I think so.

And again, will one be lover of wisdom, while another hates it? Will one be spirited, while another is devoid of it?

This is the case too.

So one woman also has the qualities of a guardian, while another does not, since this was the sort of nature we selected in the case of our male guardians too, wasn’t it?

This sort, indeed.

So in the guardianship of a city, the nature of a man and of a woman is the same, except insofar as one is weaker and the other stronger.


In that case, women of this sort should be selected, 456B to live with, and exercise guardianship with men of this sort, if they are indeed up to the task, and akin to them in nature.

Entirely so.

And shouldn’t the same pursuits be allocated to the same natures?

The same.

So, after all that, we have come back to our previous considerations, and we accept that it is not contrary to nature to prescribe music and gymnastics to our women guardians.

Entirely so.

456C In that case we were not passing impossible laws, like vain hopes, since we proposed a law in accordance with nature. Rather our present day practices that run counter to this are, it seems, more opposed to nature.

So it seems.

Wasn’t our inquiry concerned with whether our proposals might be possible, and for the best?

It was indeed.

And have we agreed that they are actually possible?


Then do we need to agree, next, that they are for the best?

Of course.

Well when it comes to creating a woman guardian, we won’t need one education to produce the men, and a different one to produce the women, will we, especially 456D since it is taking charge of the same nature?

No, not a different one.

Now, what view do you hold on the following issue?

What issue?

Do you presume that some men are better, while others are worse? Or do you think they are all alike?

Not at all.

Now in the city we were founding, who do you think turned out to be our better men; the guardians who received the education we described, or the shoemakers who have been educated in shoemaking?

What a funny question to ask, said he.

I understand, said I, and what about the other citizens, aren’t these guardians the best of them?

Very much so.

456E And what about these guardian women? Won’t they be the best of the women?

This is also the case, said he, very much so.

And is there anything better for a city than the presence of the very best women and men.

There is not.

And will music and gymnastics, applied in the way we have 457A described them, bring this about?

Of course.

So not alone is the regulation we proposed possible, it is also best for the city.

Quite so.

Then the women guardians must undress, since they will be clothed in excellence rather than garments, and they must share the military role, and the other duties of a guardian of the city, and not engage in anything else, although in the exercise of these, the lighter duties should be assigned to the women, rather than the men, because of the weakness of their sex. But the man 457B who laughs at naked women, exercising with the best of intentions, “plucks the fruit of laughter, unmatured by wisdom”, and doesn’t know what he is laughing at, it seems, or even what he is doing. Indeed this is surely expressed most beautifully and always will be, by the saying “what’s beneficial is beautiful, and what’s harmful is ugly.”

Entirely so.

May we then claim that we are escaping this first wave, so to speak, by describing the law relating to women’s affairs without being swept away completely? We proposed that our male and 457C female guardians should share in all pursuits, but does the argument somehow or other agree with itself, since it describes what’s possible, and beneficial too?

Yes indeed, said he, it’s no small wave that we are escaping.

You won’t say that this one is big, said I, when you see the next one.

Keep talking, said he. Let’s see.

There is, in my opinion, said I, a law that follows from this, and from whatever else has been said before.

What is it?

These women are all shared 457D among all these men, and no woman is to live together, in private, with any man. And the children too are shared, and no parent is to know its own offspring or any child its parent.

This, said he, presents a much greater credibility issue than the previous one, in terms of its possibility, and also of its benefit.

I don’t think, said I, there would be dispute over the benefit, since there is great good, isn’t there, in women being shared, and children too, if it can be done. But I think a lot of dispute would arise over whether this is possible or not.

457E Both issues, said he, would be disputed, well and truly.

You mean, said I, that there is an alliance of arguments against me. I thought I had escaped the first one, provided you would accept that the arrangement would be beneficial, and I would then be left with the question of whether it is possible or not.

Well your escape did not go unnoticed, said he, so give an account of both.

Then I must pay the penalty, said I, but gratify me to this extent; 458A allow me a holiday, just as people who are mentally lazy are in the habit of indulging themselves when they proceed on their own. In fact, people like this, before discovering how something they desire will come into existence, somehow set that question aside so that they won’t tire themselves out by deliberating over whether it is possible or not. They assume that what they want exists already, and set about arranging everything else, and they delight in working out the sort of things they will do, now that this has come into existence, 458B thus making an already lazy soul even lazier.

Well I too am getting soft, at this stage, and I wish to postpone those issues and investigate how they are possible, later on. Just now, on the assumption that they are possible, I shall, if you let me, consider how the rulers will arrange all this in detail, once the system is in place, and whether their implementation would be more advantageous than anything else for the city and its guardians. These, if you let me, are the issues I shall first attempt to consider, in detail, with you. We shall consider those others later.

I am letting you, said he, go ahead, and consider this.

Well, I think, said I, that if our guardians are to be really worthy of this 458C name, and their auxiliaries likewise, the latter should be willing to follow orders, and the former to issue them; obeying the laws themselves in some cases, and imitating these in other cases where we transfer the responsibility to them.

Quite likely, said he.

Then, you, their lawgiver, said I, just as you selected the men, should also select the women, to bestow upon them, women who are as similar to them in nature as possible. And these people, since they have shared dwelling places and meal tables, and no one possesses anything of this sort privately, will be together. 458D And having mingled with one another in the gymnasium, and throughout their general upbringing, they will, necessarily, be drawn, by innate nature, to intercourse with one another. Or do you think this lacks the force of necessity?

Well not the necessities of geometry at any rate, but those of love, which are surely more potent at persuading and drawing most people.

Very much so, said I, but besides all this, Glaucon, to have intercourse, or do anything else at all in a random manner is unholy, 458E in a city of happy people, and the rulers will not allow it.

No said he, that would not be just.

Then it is obvious, said I, that we should, next, make marriages sacred to the best of our ability, and those that are most beneficial would be sacred.

Entirely so.

459A Well, in that case, how shall they be most beneficial? Tell me this, Glaucon, I notice that you have dogs for hunting, and quite a number of well-bred birds, at home; now, by Zeus, have you noticed anything about their unions and their production of offspring?

What sort of thing, he asked?

Firstly, although they are all well-bred, aren’t there some that are, or turn out to be, the very best?

There are.

Now do you breed from all of them, in like manner, or are you careful to do so, as much as possible, from the best of them?

From the best.

459B And, do you breed from the youngest or from the oldest or, as much as possible, from those in their prime?

From those in their prime.

And if they are not bred in this way do you believe your stock of birds and hounds will be much worse?

I do, said he.

And in the case of horses and other animals, I asked, is the situation any different?

It would be strange, said he, if it were different.

Well, well, my dear friend, said I, our rulers will need to be at their very best, if the situation is the same in the case of the 459C human race.

But the situation is the same, said he; what of it?

Because they will need to make use of many medicines: and presumably, in cases where bodies don’t need medicine, because they are responsive to a particular lifestyle, we regard even an ordinary physician as sufficient. But whenever it is necessary to make use of medicines, we know that a bolder physician is required.

That’s true; but what are you referring to?

To the following, said I. It is likely 459D that our rulers will have to resort to falsehood on a large scale, and deception too, for the benefit of their subjects. And we maintained, I believe, that everything of this sort is useful, as a form of medicine.

And rightly so, said he.

And the fact that it is right turns out to be most significant in the case of marriages and in the production of offspring.

How so?

Based upon what has already been agreed, the best should have intercourse with the best, as often as possible, and the worst with the worst as seldom as possible, and the offspring of the former should be reared, while those of the latter should not, 459E if the flock is to be at its pinnacle. And all this should take place without anyone knowing about it, except the rulers themselves, if our herd of guardians, for its part, is to be as free of faction as possible.

Quite right, said he.

In that case, shouldn’t there be some festivals, instituted by law, at which we shall bring together the brides and the bridegrooms, and there should be sacrifices too, and our poets 460A should compose hymns appropriate to the marriages that are taking place. We shall make the rulers responsible for the number of marriages so that they may, as best they can, maintain the population at the same level, taking war, disease and anything else like this into consideration and, as far as possible, neither allow our city to become too big or too small.

Right, said he.

Then I think certain ingenious lotteries should be devised so that the ordinary person will blame chance rather than the rulers for each union.

Yes, indeed, said he.

460B And to those young men who are somehow best in war or, I presume, in anything else, honours and prizes should be given and, in particular, more generous opportunity for intercourse with the women, so that as many children as possible may be begotten by men like these, while affording an excuse for this at the same time.


And any offspring that are born will be taken over by the officials responsible for these matters, who may be men or women or both, since official posts too are presumably shared between women and men.


460C Then, I think, having taken the offspring of the good, they will transfer them into the fold, to special nurses who dwell apart in some precinct of the city, while the offspring of the inferior, or of any of the others that are born with deformities, they will hide away in a secret undisclosed place, as appropriate.

Yes, said he, if the race of guardians is to be kept pure.

Wouldn’t these officials also take responsibilities for the nursing, bringing the mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, while ensuring, by every possible means, 460D that none recognises her own child, and providing other women who have milk, if ever the mothers don’t have enough? They will also be responsible for the mothers themselves, so that they don’t spend too much time in feeding, and will hand over the sleepless nights and the rest of the hardship to wet-nurses and carers.

By your account, said he, child bearing will be very easy for the women of the guardians.

As it should be, said I. But we should proceed to the next suggestion we made. For, we said that the offspring should be bred from parents in their prime.


460E Now are you also of the view that for a woman, her prime lasts about twenty years, and for a man, about thirty years?

Which years? he asked.

A woman, said I, is to bear children for the city beginning from her twentieth year, until her fortieth, while a man, once he has passed the age at which he can run most swiftly, begets children for the city until the age of fifty-five.

461A Well in both cases, this is the prime of body and of mind.

Now if those who take to begetting for the community are older or younger than this, we shall maintain that their error is unholy and unjust, as a child has been born to the city who, if this goes unnoticed, will have been born without the sacrifices and prayers offered at every marriage by priests and priestesses, and by all of the city; that better offspring, of greater benefit to the city, may always be born from the good people, and from the city’s benefactors. But this child will have been born of darkness, accompanied 461B by a shocking lack of restraint.

Quite right, said he.

And the same law applies, said I, if any man, still at the right age to beget children, has a relationship with any women of that age, independently of a ruler. For, we shall state that he is imposing an illegitimate, unauthorised and unsanctified child upon the city.

And rightly so, said he.

But presumably, once the women and the men have passed the age for reproduction, we shall set them free to form relationships with anyone they wish, except a daughter, a mother, the children of daughters, 461C or the mothers of a mother, in the case of men, or a son, a father, or their descendants or ancestors, in the case of women. And we shall allow all this, only after we have directed them to take particular care that no child sees the light of day if any is conceived, and if any child forces its way into the light, this should be dealt with on the basis that such offspring are not to be reared.

Yes, that all sounds quite reasonable, said he, but how will they recognise one another’s fathers and daughters, and the other relatives you mentioned?

461D They won’t, said I, not at all, but any offspring born in the tenth month, and indeed, the seventh month, after he became a bridegroom, all these he shall address as his son if they are male; and as his daughter if they are female. And they, in turn, shall address these men as their father and, similarly, he shall call their offspring his grandchildren, and these, for their part, shall call his age group, grandfathers and grandmothers. Those born during the time when their mothers and fathers were begetting children shall call each other brothers and sisters 461E so that, as we were saying just now, they won’t have intercourse with one another. But the law will grant that brothers and sisters may dwell together if the lot falls accordingly, and the Pythia adds a favourable response.

Absolutely correct, said he.

Well, Glaucon, this or something like this, is the sharing of women and children among the guardians of the city. But we should next confirm, from the argument, that this fits in with the rest of our system of government, and is by far the best arrangement; or how should we proceed?

462A In this way, by Zeus, said he.

Now isn’t our first step towards agreement, to ask ourselves, what precisely we can say is the greatest good for the fabric of our city, a good that the lawgiver should aim at when instituting the laws, and what is the greatest evil; and then investigate whether everything we described in detail just now, matches the footprint of the good, and not the footprint of the evil?

Most of all, said he.

Well do we know any greater evil for a city than that which tears it asunder, 462B and makes it many rather than one? And do we know any greater good than that which binds it together, and makes it one?

We do not.

Doesn’t the sharing of pleasure and pain bind it together; whenever, to the greatest extent possible, all the citizens are pleased and pained to the same extent by the same successes or failures.

Entirely so, said he.

And don’t personal responses on occasions like these, break the city apart; whenever some people are troubled, while others are delighted when the very same things are happening to the city, or its inhabitants?

462C Of course.

Now doesn’t something like this arise because expressions like “mine” and “not mine”, are not uttered in our city at the same time? And the same applies to the phrase “alien”?

Yes, precisely.

Then the city in which the most people say “mine” and “not mine” about the same things, in the same respect, is the best managed city.

Very much so.

Is it also the one that bears the closest resemblance to a single human being? For instance, imagine one of us injures his finger, the entire community, extending from the body to the soul, in a single arrangement under the ruling element, perceives this in itself, 462D and all of it experiences the pain together, simultaneously, as a whole, even though only a part suffered the injury, and so we say, accordingly, that the person has pain in his finger. And the same argument applies to any other part of the person at all, whether there is pain because the part suffers, or pleasure because it finds relief.

The same indeed, said he, and in answer to your question, the best administered city is closest to such an arrangement.

So, I imagine, when anything good or bad 462E happens to any one of its citizens at all, a city like this is most inclined to say that the victim is her own, and the entire city will share in the pleasure or the pain.

Necessarily, said he, if it is well governed, at any rate.

Now would be the time, said I, for us to revisit our own city, and observe therein the principles agreed in the argument, and see if this city embodies them more than any other.

Shouldn’t we do so then, said he?

463A Well what about this? In other cities there are, I presume, rulers, and the populace, and they are present in this city of ours too.

They are.

And do all of these people refer to one another as fellow citizens?

Of course.

But what else, besides fellow citizens, do the populace in other cities call the rulers?

In most cities they call them masters, but in those governed democratically, they call them just this, rulers.

What about the populace in our city? What do they call the rulers, besides fellow citizens?

Saviours and helpers, said he.

463B And what do our rulers call the populace?

Pay masters who give them sustenance.

And in the other cities, the rulers call the populace …?

Slaves, he said.

And what do their rulers call one another?

Fellow rulers, said he.

And ours … ?

Fellow guardians.

Now can you tell me whether any of the rulers in the other cities can refer to one fellow ruler as kindred, and to another as not kindred?

Very much so.

Doesn’t he regard the kindred as his own, and the non-kindred as not his own, and speak accordingly?

So he does.

463C And what about your guardians, would any of them be able to regard any of their fellow guardians as non-kindred, or speak of them as such?

Not at all, said he, since in the case of anyone he meets, he will think he is meeting a brother or sister, a father or mother, a son or daughter, or their offspring, or their forbears.

Excellent, said I, but tell me this too: will your laws merely ordain that they should use these names of kinship, or will you also 463D ordain that they should act in accordance with these names, in all their activities. In the case of fathers, should they do whatever the law relating to fathers ordains in terms of respect and care, and the obedience that is due to parents, without which they will not fare well with the gods, or their fellow men, because their actions would be neither holy nor just if they were to act in any other way? Shall these proclamations ring, from the very outset, in the ears of the children, sung by all of the citizens, about the fathers, 463E that anyone might point out to them; and about their other relatives too.

These are the ones, said he, for it would be laughable if the names were to be on their lips, without the deeds to back them up.

So in this city, most of all, whenever any one citizen fares well or fares badly, all the citizens together will pronounce the words we used just now, and say that “what’s mine fares well, or what’s mine fares badly.”

Very true, said he.

464A And didn’t we also say that with this belief and these words there came a sharing of pleasures and pains?

And we were right to say so.

Won’t our citizens, most of all, share in the same thing, which they will all call “mine”, and by sharing this, in this way, won’t they, most of all, have shared pleasure and pain?

Very much so.

Now isn’t the cause of all this, besides the general constitution of the city, the sharing of women and children among the guardians?

Yes, said he, much more than anything else.

464B And we did agree that this was the greatest good for the city, comparing a well managed city to a human body, in terms of its response to pleasure or pain in a part of itself.

And we were right to agree, said he.

So the sharing of children and of women among the auxiliaries has turned out to be the cause of the city’s greatest good.

Yes, indeed, said he.

In that case, we are also being consistent with what went before; for we said, I believe, that they should have no private households, or land, or any other possession. 464C They should rather, receive support from everyone else, as their guardians’ pay, and should all spend it together, if they really are to be guardians.

Yes, precisely, said he.

So isn’t it the case, as I say, that whatever was said before and is being said now, turns them into true guardians, to an even greater extent, and prevents them from tearing the city asunder by using the word “mine” to refer, not to the same thing, but to something different: one man dragging whatever he is able to acquire on his own, off to his own house, while another fellow drags things to a different house, also his own, 464D with a separate wife and children, thus introducing the private pleasures and pains of private persons? Rather, with a single belief concerning what’s private, all striving as best they can for the same objective, they have the same experience of pain and pleasure.

Precisely, said he.

What about this, won’t law suits and accusations against one another almost vanish from their midst because they have no private property, apart from their body, while everything else is shared? And thus they 464E will be free from any factions that people develop because of the acquisition of wealth, children, or family connections.

Yes, said he, they’ll be free of all that, they really must.

And indeed, there would be no justification for legal action for assault or violence among them, for we shall presumably maintain that self-defence against people of the same age is noble and just, and impose upon them the requirement to look after their bodies.

And rightly so, said he.

465A And this law, said I, is right in the following way too; if someone was provoked by someone else, he might satisfy his rage through a personal encounter of this sort, and be less inclined to keep going until there were more serious conflicts..

Yes, certainly.

What’s more, an older man will be given the task of ruling over and restraining all of the younger ones.

Of course.

And indeed a younger person won’t, unless the rulers command it, use force against someone older, nor is he likely to strike him, nor, I believe, will he show disrespect in any other way either. 465B For the twin guardians, fear and shame, prevent this; shame prevents him from laying hands upon a possible parent, and he fears the help others will give to the victim, either as his sons, brothers or fathers.

Yes, that follows, said he.

Under these laws then, the men will enjoy great peace towards one another, in every respect.

Great indeed.

And in the absence of any conflict among themselves there would be no danger of any faction between themselves and the rest of the city, or one another.

No, there would not.

465C I am reluctant to mention the most trivial difficulties which they will be quit of, because they are so unseemly: the flattery of the rich by the poor, the troubles and pains involved in rearing children, and making money to provide for the needs of the household members by borrowing from some people, failing to repay others, using every possible means to provide resources that they then hand over to the women, and household members, to manage; all that they suffer over these matters, and what it’s like, is self-evident, and it is 465D ignoble and unworthy of mention.

Yes, it is evident, said he, even to a blind man.

Quit of all this, our guardians will live a life more blessed than the life of Olympic victors.

In what way?

These victors are made happy by a small portion of what those guardians get. For, their victory is more beautiful, and their popular support is more comprehensive. Indeed the victory they win is the safety of the entire city, and they are crowned with support and everything else that human life requires, 465E themselves and their children too. They receive honours from their own city during their lives, and are granted a worthy burial when they die.

Yes, that is all very beautiful, said he.

Now, said I, do you remember that in our earlier discussions, an argument, 466A I don’t know whose, took us to task, by maintaining that we were not making our guardians happy, because even though it is possible for them to own everything belonging to their fellow citizens, they have nothing? And I think we said that we would look at this again if it turned out to be the case, but at the moment we are making our guardians into guardians, and making our city as happy as possible, without focussing upon one group within the city and working on its happiness.

I remember, said he.

Well then, since the life of our auxiliaries now turns out to be far better and more beautiful than the life of Olympic victors, is there any way it 466B compares to the life of shoemakers or other craftsmen, or to the life of farmers?

I don’t think so, said he.

In that case, what I said there, may rightly be repeated here; if a guardian attempts to attain happiness in a way that makes him a guardian no longer, and if such a measured and stable life, which according to us is the best life, is not enough for him, but some mindless, immature opinion about happiness takes over, it will impel him, because he has the power, to appropriate everything in the city, and he will realise 466C that Hesiod was indeed wise when he said that:

half is somehow more than the whole.

If he takes my advice, said he, he will abide by this life.

So do you accept this sharing of the women with the men in relation to education, children and their guardianship of the rest of the citizens, as we have elaborated it? Whether remaining in the city, or going to war, should they guard and hunt together like dogs and, to the best of their ability, share everything in every way? And by doing all this 466D do you accept that they will be doing what’s best, and not acting contrary to the nature of the female towards the male, and their natural tendency to share with one another.

I agree, said he.

Don’t we still have to decide if it is possible for this sharing to be engendered among human beings, just as it is among other creatures, and how this is possible?

You have anticipated the point I was just about to raise, said he.

466E Indeed when it comes to warfare, said I, I presume that the way in which they will do battle is obvious.

How, he asked?

They will march out together, and what’s more, they will bring their children, the stronger ones, with them to the battle so that, like the children of other craftsmen, they may see the work they will have to engage in 467A when they are grown up. And as well as looking on, they will assist and serve in everything related to the battle, and will care for their fathers and mothers. Or have you not noticed what goes on in the various crafts? Potters’ children, for instance, spend a long time looking on, as assistants, before they ever put their hands to the task itself.

Very much so.

Well should these people show more care than our guardians in educating their children through experience and observation of what’s appropriate to them?

That would be ridiculous, said he.

467B Then again, every creature fights especially well when their own offspring are present.

This is so, Socrates, but if they lose, as is prone to happen in war, there is no small danger that having lost their children as well as themselves, they will also make it impossible for the rest of the city to recover.

True, said I, but do you think that we should arrange, firstly, that there will be no danger?

Not at all.

Well then, if there is, somehow, to be danger, shouldn’t this be in a situation where they will be better if they are successful?

Yes, of course.

467C But, do you think it makes little difference whether or not those who are to be military men watch the proceedings of the battlefield when they are children? Is the risk not worth taking?

No, it does make a difference, for the purpose you mention.

So this must be arranged; the children must be made spectators of warfare, and once their safety is assured, all will be well. Is this so?


And won’t their fathers, said I, as far as humanly possible, be knowledgeable people, able to recognise which campaigns are dangerous and which are not?

Quite likely, said he.

467D So they will bring them on some campaigns and be wary of bringing them on others.

And rightly so.

And presumably, said I, they won’t appoint ordinary fellows as their leaders, but those who are competent by age and by experience to be guides and tutors.

Yes, that’s appropriate.

Yes, but as we shall declare, lots of unexpected things also happen to lots of people.

Very much so.

Well, in the light of such possibilities, my friend, they should be equipped with wings from earliest childhood, so that if the need arises they may take flight and be gone.

467E What do you mean? he asked.

They should go on horseback, said I, from the youngest possible age, and having learned to ride, they should be brought to view the battle mounted on horses, not spirited or warlike animals, but those that are most swift-footed and responsive to the rein. Since in this way, they will have the best view of their own future function and, should the need arise they could get away safely, following the lead of their older guides.

468A Yes, said he, this sounds right to me.

And what about the events of the battlefield, said I? How should your soldiers behave towards themselves and towards the enemy? I wonder if I am looking at this aright?

In what sense, he asked?

Among themselves, someone who deserts his post or throws away his weapons, or does anything else like that, through cowardice, shouldn’t he be reduced in status to a craftsman or farmer?

Yes, certainly.

And shouldn’t someone who is captured alive by the enemy be given to his captors as a gift, for them to use their captive as they wish?

468B Precisely.

But someone who excels and wins fame, don’t you think he should first be crowned, on campaign, by his comrades in arms, youths, and children in turn?

I do.

Shall they shake his hand?

That too.

But there is something I think you would never accept …


That he kisses and is kissed by each.

Most of all, he said, and I would make an addition to the law, that as long as they are involved 468C in this campaign, no one whom he wishes to kiss is allowed to refuse, so that if someone happened to be in love with someone else, male or female, he would also be more eager to carry off the prize for valour.

Very good, said I, and we have already said that a good person will have more opportunity for union than the others, and will be selected for such purposes more often than the others, so that as many children as possible may be born from a person like this.

Yes, we said that, said he.

And indeed, according to Homer it is right to honour young 468D folk who are good, through arrangements of this sort. For he says that when Ajax had won fame in battle, he was rewarded with the choicest cuts of meat, as this is the appropriate honour for someone in the prime of youth and courage, as it honours him and increases his strength at the same time.

Quite right, said he.

So we shall be persuaded by Homer on these matters at any rate. And indeed, during sacrifices and everything of this sort, we shall honour the good people, insofar as they prove themselves to be so, with hymns and whatever we have mentioned 468E just now, and to this we shall add seats of honour, meat, and goblets full to the brim, so that we may train these good men and women at the same time as we honour them.

Excellent, said he.

Very well, and in the case of those who die on campaign; shouldn’t we first say that someone who wins fame in death belongs to the golden race?

Most of all.

And shall we believe Hesiod, that when anyone who belongs to such a race dies, they become:

469A Hallowed spirits dwelling on earth, averters of evil,

Guardians watchful and good of articulate speaking mortals?[35]

We shall believe him indeed.

So having found out, from the god, how demi-gods and divine beings should be buried, and what the difference is, shall we bury these men according to the mode and manner he expounds?

How could we do otherwise?

And ever after shall we care for and revere their tombs as though they were the tombs of demi-gods? And should we observe the same customs, whenever someone who is judged to have been exceptionally good whilst alive, dies of old age, or in some other way.

It would be right to do so, said he.

Yes, and how should our soldiers behave towards the enemy soldiers?

In what sense?

Firstly, what about enslavement? Does it seem right that Greek cities should enslave fellow Greeks or should they, as best they can, not even allow another city to do so, and accustom them to sparing 469C their fellow Greeks for fear of enslavement by the barbarian races?

Sparing them, said he, is completely better in every way.

Then they are not to own a Greek slave themselves, and they are to advise their fellow Greeks to do likewise.

Yes, certainly, said he. And so, in this way they would turn their attention more towards the barbarians, and show restraint towards themselves.

And what about stripping and despoiling the dead after a victory, besides removing their weapons, is this the right thing to do? Or does it not give cowards an excuse for not engaging with another combatant, because they are doing something needful 469D when they are poking about among the dead? Hasn’t many an army already been lost because of this sort of plundering?

Very much so.

Doesn’t it seem like a slavish and mercenary act, to strip the armour from a corpse, and isn’t it the mark of an unmanly and petty mind to regard the body of the dead man as the enemy, when the real foe has fled, leaving only the instrument with which he fought? Or do you think those who do this are doing anything different from dogs 469E who get angry with the stones that struck them, and don’t touch the person throwing them?

Not in the least, said he.

So should we abandon the stripping of corpses, and hindering the enemy from removing their fallen comrades?

We should abandon this indeed, by Zeus, said he.

Nor indeed shall we carry weapons off to our temples as dedicatory offerings, especially those belonging to our fellow Greeks, if we have any interest 470A in fostering good relations towards them. Rather we shall be afraid that it might be a defilement, to bring this sort of thing, from our own kin, to a temple, unless of course the god says otherwise.

Quite right, said he.

And when it comes to ravaging Greek territory, or the burning of houses, how will your soldiers behave towards their enemies?

I’d like to hear you expressing your opinion on that, said he.

Well, said I, I don’t think they would do either of these; no, they 470B should just deprive them of their annual harvest; do you want me to tell you why?

Very much so.

As I see it, just as we make use of these two words, “war” and “faction”, so they are indeed two, being applied to two disputes between two different parties. I mean that the disputant is their own kindred, in one case, but alien and foreign in the other case, and the hostility of their own is called faction, while the hostility of the alien is called war.

Yes, said he, there is nothing strange in what you are saying.

470C Then decide whether this is strange or not: I maintain that the Greek race, to itself, is its own kindred, but is alien and foreign to the barbarian race.

Well said, he replied.

So when Greeks do battle against barbarians or barbarians against Greeks, we shall maintain that they are at war, and are enemies by nature, and we should refer to this hostility as “war”. But when Greeks do this sort of thing to Greeks, we shall maintain that, although they are friends by nature, the Greek state is sick 470D in this case, and has fallen into faction, and we should refer to such hostility as faction.

Yes, said he, we should consider it in this way, I agree.

Then, said I, take note that in faction, as it is understood nowadays, wherever something like this arises, and a city is divided, and one side devastates the land of the other and burns their homes, such faction is regarded as an abomination, and neither party is thought to have any love for their city, or they would not have dared to ravage their nurse and mother. But it does seem reasonable for the victors 470E to deprive the vanquished of their harvest, and to bear in mind that they are going to be reconciled and not be at war forever.

Yes, said he, this way of thinking is much gentler than the other.

What about this then? I asked. Won’t the city you are founding be a Greek city?

Well it should be, said he.

In that case, won’t they be good and gentle?


And won’t they love their fellow Greeks? Won’t they regard Greece as their own, and share the sacred places that the others share?

Yes, absolutely.

471A In that case will they regard a dispute with Greeks, their own people, as faction, and not refer to it as war?

No, indeed.

And so they will conduct the dispute with a view to reconciliation?

Very much so.

Then they will correct them out of goodwill, not punishing them as enemies to make slaves of them or to destroy them.

Quite so, said he.

And so, being Greeks, they will not ravage Greece, or burn down its homes, nor will they accept that all the people in a particular city are their enemies, men, women and children 471B alike. They will accept rather, that a few enemies are always responsible for the dispute, and for all these reasons, they will not be prepared to ravage their land, or pull down their houses since most of them are their friends. They will, rather, pursue the dispute to the point where those who are responsible are forced into a just response by their innocent fellow citizens who are suffering.

I agree, said he, that our citizens should behave like this towards their Greek opponents, while treating the barbarians as the Greeks, nowadays, treat their fellow Greeks.

471C Shall we set down this law for our guardians, that they neither lay waste the countryside, nor burn down houses?

Let’s set it down, said he, and accept that this is all good, and so is what was said previously. But, Socrates, it seems to me that if someone leaves it to you to speak on such issues, you will never remember the question you pushed aside in order to say all this, namely: is it ever possible for this civic arrangement to come about, and in what way is it possible at all? I agree that if it were to come about, it would be really good for that city. And I’ll add what you omitted 471D to say, that they would fight best against their enemies, since they would be least likely to desert one another, because they recognise themselves as brothers, fathers and sons, and use these very names. And if the female sex is to campaign with them either in the same rank or assigned to the rearguard to strike fear into the enemy, and to provide assistance, if needed, I know full well, that with all this, they would be invincible. And I see also all the domestic advantages they would have, which you omitted to mention. Now you may assume that I agree 471E that there would be all these advantages, and thousands more, if this civic arrangement were to arise, so don’t say any more about it. Let’s try rather, at this stage, to convince ourselves that this is possible, and how it is possible, and bid farewell to everything else.

472A Well, I said, you have made quite a sudden onslaught upon this proposition of mine, without any allowance for my hesitation. For perhaps you do not appreciate that you are bringing a third huge and troublesome wave upon me when I have barely escaped the first two. Once you see and hear this, you will have more sympathy and will understand that my reluctance was reasonable and so was my fear of recounting such an extraordinary proposition, and attempting to scrutinise it.

The more you go on like this, he said, the less likely we 472B are to release you from describing how this civic arrangement could arise, so speak and do not delay.

In that case, I said, we should first be reminded that we got to this point by inquiring into what justice and injustice are like.

We should, he said, but why do you say this?

No reason, but if we do find what justice is like, shall we also insist that the just man must not differ at all from justice, and that such a man is 472C like justice in every respect? Or shall we be satisfied if he gets as close as possible to it and partakes of it to a greater extent than most people?

Yes, he said, we shall be satisfied with that.

Then, said I, we have been seeking justice itself, the sort of thing it is, and the perfectly just man, if there be such a man, and the sort of person he would be if he ever did come into existence, as a standard. The same considerations also apply to injustice and the utterly unjust man. The intention was to look to these standards, and apply whatever became evident about their happiness or unhappiness, and be compelled to accept, that in our own situation, whoever is most like 472D one of those standards will have the like portion of happiness. However, it was never the intention that we would demonstrate that such persons could come into existence.

Yes what you say is true, he said.

Now would you maintain that a painter was not really a good painter if he painted an exquisitely beautiful person, as a standard, rendered it in consummate detail, but was unable to demonstrate that such a person could ever come into existence?

By Zeus, I would not, he replied.

Well then, haven’t we, so we say, being making a standard, in words, of a good city?

Very much so. 472E

Then do you maintain that our words lack merit on account of the fact that we may be unable to demonstrate that the city could be established in the manner in which we have described it?

I certainly do not, he said.

Then that is the truth of the matter, said I, but if, for your sake, we must endeavour to demonstrate how exactly, and upon what basis, this is at all possible, I must ask you again to concede the same points regarding such a demonstration.[36]

What points?

473A Is it possible for anything to be enacted as spoken, or must action, by nature, involve less truth than speech, in spite of what some people think? Well do you agree that this is the case or not?

I agree, he said.

In that case, do not force me to prove that the sort of thing we have recounted in words can also come into existence in its entirety, in deed. Rather, if we are able to discover how a city that is very close to what we have described might be constituted, you must say that we have found out how this city can 473B come into being, which was the task you set us. Would you be satisfied if that happened? I for one would be satisfied.

And so would I, he said.

Well then, after this it seems we should try to find, and demonstrate, what precisely is enacted badly in the various cities nowadays, so that they are not constituted like ours. Also, what change would bring a city to this manner of civic arrangement; the smallest change possible, ideally just one, otherwise two, or the fewest in number with the least impact.

I entirely agree, he said. 473C

Well, said I, there is one change that could effect this transformation, and I think we can show this; however, it is not minor or easy, though it is feasible.

What is it?

I am now, said I, on the verge of what we likened to the most enormous wave. But it must be spoken, even if some wave of hilarity is literally going to deluge me with laughter and ridicule. So pay attention to what I am about to say.

Speak on, he said.

Unless philosophers exercise kingly rule in the cities, 473D or our so-called kings and potentates engage in philosophy with dignity and competence, and political power and philosophy coincide in the same person, while the vast majority, whose nature inclines them to pursue one rather than the other, are necessarily excluded from both, the cities will have no rest from their evils, my dear Glaucon, and neither, in my view, will the human race. Nor until then will this civic arrangement which we have described in words, ever grow to its full potential or see the light of day. 473E

Well this is what made me reluctant to speak earlier, for I could see this will be directly opposed to popular opinion, as it is hard to appreciate that neither an individual nor a society can be happy by any other means.

Well Socrates, he said, you have blurted out an utterance and argument like this, and now that you have said it you should expect a large number of men, no common folk, 474A to rip off their garments, grab the first weapon that comes to their hand, and rush at you, naked, at full stretch, intending unspeakable deeds. If you do not ward them off in argumentation and make your escape, you will pay the penalty of being well and truly ridiculed.

Aren’t you the one who is responsible for all this, in my case? I said.

I am doing the right thing, he said. However, I shall not desert you, but will defend you by whatever means I can, and I can do this through good will and encouragement, and perhaps I may respond 474B to your questions more reasonably than someone else would. But now that you have such assistance, try to prove to the unbelievers that what you are saying is so.

Try I must, I said, since you are offering such a significant alliance. Now if we are going to escape from the men you describe, I think it will be necessary to define for them which philosophers we are speaking of when we dare to maintain that they should rule. Then once that has become evident, we can conduct our defence by demonstrating that it belongs to these men, 474C by nature, to engage in philosophy and to lead in the city, while it belongs to the others to have no dealing with philosophy and to follow their leadership.

Now would be the time to define this, he said.

Come on then, you will have to be guided by me here if we are to have any chance of explaining this properly.

Lead on, he said.

Now, I said, will it be necessary to remind you, or do you remember already, that anyone who is said to love something must, if the description is correct, show that his affection is total and he does not love one aspect of that, while not loving another?

It seems you will have to remind me, he said, for I do not really understand.

474D That response of yours, Glaucon, would be appropriate in another person, but it is hardly appropriate to remind a man of love that all those in their prime, afflict and stir the amorous lover of youth, and all are deemed worthy of his care and affection. Isn’t this how you behave towards the fair? If someone is snub-nosed you praise him by calling him charming, and if he is hook-nosed you say he is aristocratic, while if he is half-way between the two you say his features are perfectly balanced; 474E those who are dark have a manly aspect, those who are fair are children of gods, and as for the name “honey-pale”, who could invent it except a coaxing lover who willingly tolerates a poor complexion provided it belongs to a pretty youth? And in short, you invent any 475A excuse at all, and resort to any expression at all, to avoid rejecting those who are in the bloom of youth.

If you wish to allege that I behave as these lovers do, I shall go along with you for the sake of this discussion, he replied.

What about this, I said. Don’t you see the lovers of wine doing the very same thing, welcoming every sort of wine on any pretext at all?

Very much so.

And I am sure you observe that those who love honour, if they cannot command an army, will command a lesser cohort, and if they are not honoured by the important and distinguished people, they will be satisfied with the respect of lesser more ordinary 475B folk, so consummate is their desire for honour.

Yes exactly.

So do you agree or disagree? When anyone is said to desire something, should we say that he desires all of that entity or that he desires one part but not another?

All of it, he said.

Therefore, shall we say that the philosopher does not desire one part of wisdom rather than another, but desires it all?


Then we shall not say that a person who can’t stand study is a lover of learning or a lover of wisdom, especially if he is young 475C and still lacks the reasoning power to distinguish what is useful from what is not; just as someone who makes difficulties about food is said neither to be hungry nor to want food, and will not be called a food lover but a poor eater.

And we shall be right to say so.

475D However, anyone with a ready desire to taste all branches of learning, who enters into study gladly and with an insatiable appetite, may properly be called a lover of wisdom. Is this so?

Glaucon replied: then you will have lots of unusual examples of such people. For those who love seeing sights all seem to me, anyway, to be like this because they take a delight in learning. Those who love hearing things are the strangest folk to include among the philosophers, for although they would never willingly engage in serious discussion or devote their time to anything of that sort, they run around all the drama festivals in the city or the country, as if they had hired out their ears to listen to them all. Now shall we refer to all these people and others with knowledge of similar activities or even 475E the minor crafts, as philosophers?

Certainly not, I said, but they are similar to philosophers.

And he said, whom do you refer to as true philosophers?

Those who love beholding the truth, I said.

Yes that is all very well, he said, but what do you mean by this?

This would not be at all easy for someone else, but I do think that you will agree with me here.

About what?

476A That since beauty is the opposite of ugliness they are two.

How could I disagree?

Therefore, since they are two, each is one.

I also agree with this.

And the same argument applies to just and unjust, good and bad, and to all of the forms; each itself is one, but since they manifest everywhere in communion with activities, bodies, and with one another, each appears to be multiple.

What you are saying is correct, he said.

Well I said, this is how I make the distinction, separating the people you referred to as “those who love seeing things” or those who love skills and are practical, 476B from those we are now discussing, who are the only ones we may properly refer to as philosophers.

In what way? He said.

Presumably, I said, those who love hearing things and seeing things delight in beautiful sounds and colours and shapes and everything that is fashioned from these, but their mind is unable to behold the nature of beauty itself and to delight in that.

Yes, he said, that is certainly the case.

On the other hand, wouldn’t those who can have recourse to beauty itself and behold it just by itself be quite rare?

Very much so.

476C Now do you think that a person is awake or living in a dream if he recognises beautiful objects but does not recognise beauty itself, and cannot follow someone else if he leads him to the knowledge of this? Think about this. Isn’t dreaming an activity in which someone, either in sleep or whilst awake, thinks that a likeness is not a likeness but is itself the very object which the likeness resembles?

Yes I am inclined to say that a person like that is dreaming, he said.

Well then, what about someone who, by contrast, thinks that there is a beauty itself, and is able to behold it and whatever partakes of it, without thinking that what partakes 476D is beauty itself or beauty itself is what partakes, do you think this person is awake or living in a dream?

He is very much awake, he said.

Wouldn’t we be right to refer to the mental condition of this man as knowledge because he knows, and to the mental condition of the other as opinion because he is forming opinions.

Yes certainly.

Now what if this fellow whom we accuse of forming opinions and of not knowing, gets angry with us and argues that we are not speaking the truth? Shall we be able to console 476E him and engage in gentle persuasion whilst concealing the fact that he is not of sound mind?

You really should try anyway, he said.

Come on then let’s consider what we shall say to him. Or, if you prefer, we could put some questions to him, maintaining that if he does know something, nobody will begrudge him that, rather, we would be delighted to see that he knew something. So tell us this: does someone who knows know something or nothing? Now you should reply on behalf of this fellow.

I reply that they know something, he said.

Is it something that is or is not?

Something that is, for how could something that is not be known?

477A Well are we satisfied that no matter how we consider the matter, “what entirely is” is entirely knowable and “what in no way is” is entirely unknowable?

We are completely satisfied.

Very well but if, in fact, something is characterised in such a way that it both “is” and “is not”, wouldn’t it lie in between “what purely is” and “what in no way is”?

Yes in between.

Therefore, since knowledge is directed towards “what is” and ignorance is necessarily directed to “what is not”, we must find 477B something in between ignorance and knowledge which is directed to that which lies between “what is” and “what is not”, if there happens to be such a thing.

Yes certainly.

Now do we say that opinion is something?

What else could we say?

And is it a different power[37] from knowledge or the same power?


So opinion is directed to one, and knowledge to another, each on the basis of its own power.

Just so.

Isn’t knowledge naturally directed towards “what is”, to know “what is” as it is? But before we go on, I think we must make a further distinction.


477C Shall we say that powers are a class of things that are, by which we are able to do whatever we can do, and anything else is able to do whatever it can do. So I say, for example, that seeing and hearing, are powers, if you understand what I am trying to explain.

I do understand, he said.

Well listen and I shall tell you my view of them. Indeed I do not discern any colour of a power, or a shape, or anything of this sort, like what I see in many other things; features I can look at and distinguish for myself 477D between some objects and others. But in the case of a power, I only look at what it is directed to, and what it accomplishes, and on this basis, I call each of them a power, and whatever is directed to the same object and accomplishes the same thing, I call the same, while anything that is directed to a different object and accomplishes something different, I refer to as different. What about you? How do you do it?

Just as you do, he said.

At this stage, I said, I should ask you the question again, my excellent friend. Do you say that knowledge is a power or in what class do you place it?

477E In this one, he said, it is the strongest of all powers.

And what about opinion, shall we assign it to power or to another form?

Not at all, he said. In fact, opinion is nothing other than the power by which we are able to form opinions.

Yes, and you did agree a little earlier that knowledge and opinion are not the same.

How could any reasonable person, he replied, ever suggest that something which does not make mistakes is the same as something which makes mistakes?

478A Well expressed, I said, and it is obvious that we agree that opinion is different from knowledge.

Yes different.

So is each of them, by nature, a different power, directed to something different?

They must be.

Well is knowledge directed to what is, to know what is as it is?


And we say that opinion, forms opinions.


Doesn’t it form opinions about the same things that knowledge knows? And will the objects of knowledge and opinion be the same? Or is that impossible?

According to what we have agreed that is impossible, he said. If in fact, a different power is naturally directed to something different, and opinion and 478B knowledge are both powers, and each is different, which is what we are saying, then we cannot accept, from all this, that the object of knowledge and the object of opinion are the same.

Now if the object of knowledge is “what is”, wouldn’t the object of opinion be something other than “what is”?

Yes something other than that.

Well does it form opinions about “what is not” or is it impossible even to form an opinion on “what is not”? Reflect on this. Doesn’t someone who forms an opinion apply the opinion to something? Or again, is it possible to form an opinion which is an opinion about nothing?

That is impossible.

Rather the person forming an opinion forms it about some one thing.


However, it would not be at all correct to refer 478C to “what is not” as some one thing, instead, it should be called nothing.

Entirely so.

Well by necessity, we assigned ignorance to “what is not” and knowledge to “what is”.

And rightly so, he said.

So opinions are not formed either about “what is” or “what is not”.

They are not.

Then opinion is neither ignorance nor knowledge.

It seems not.

Well in that case, is it beyond them, exceeding either knowledge in clarity, or ignorance in obscurity?

It does neither.

Alternatively, I said, does opinion appear to you as darker than knowledge, and yet brighter than ignorance?

Very much so, he said.

Does it lie within these two extremes? 478D


So opinion would be in between knowledge and ignorance.

Yes exactly.

But did we not say earlier[38] that if anything were to prove capable of being, and of not being, at the same time, it would lie in between “what purely is” and “what entirely is not”, and that neither knowledge nor ignorance would be directed towards it, but something which, for its part, makes its appearance in between knowledge and ignorance would be directed towards it?


But now the power which we call opinion has made its appearance in between these two.

It has.

478E Then what remains for us to discover, apparently, is something partaking of both being and non-being, which may not properly be called either pure being or pure non-being. Should that be found, we would be right to call it the object of opinion thus assigning the powers at the extremes, to the objects at the extremes, and the powers which lie in between, to the objects which lie in between. Is this how we should proceed?

It is.

Now that we have established all this, let this good fellow speak to me and give me an 479A answer; this man who thinks there is no such thing as beauty itself, or a form of beauty itself which is always just the same as it is, even though he does think that there are many beautiful things. He is someone who loves seeing things, and cannot endure it if someone says that beauty is one, and so too is justice, and that the same goes for the others. I shall say to him: “Best of men, tell me this, are there any of these numerous beautiful things which will not appear to be ugly? Are there any of the many just actions which will not appear unjust? Any sacred things which will not appear profane”?

No, said Glaucon, they must somehow appear 479B to be both beautiful and ugly, and the same applies to your other instances.

And what about the many things which are doubles? Do they appear to be halves any less than doubles?[39]

No less.

And things we say are large or small, light or heavy, will they be called by these names, any more than the opposite name.

Yes, he said, any one thing may always have either name.

Then if anyone says that any of these multiplicities is this, it is no more this, than not this.

It is like party games involving the double meanings of words, he replied, and the children’s 479C riddle about the eunuch striking the bat, in which they also make obscure statements about what it was struck by, and what it was sitting upon.[40] In fact these too are ambiguous, and none of them are capable of being thought, definitely, to be, or not to be, either both or neither.

So do you know what to do with them, I said, or can you put them in any better place than in between being and non-being? Presumably they will not prove to be darker than “what is not”, involving more non-being, or brighter than “what is”, involving more being?

Very true, he said. 479D

Well it seems we have found that the numerous conceptions about beauty or anything else, which most people hold, are somehow rolling about between “what is not” and “what purely is”.

That is what we have found.

And we agreed previously that if something like this, were to turn up, it should be referred to as an object of opinion rather than an object of knowledge. The wandering object is apprehended by the intermediate power.

We agreed on this.

So those who see many beautiful things, without beholding 479E beauty itself, and who are unable to follow someone who is leading them towards it, who see many just actions but not justice itself, or anything like that; we shall say that these people form opinions on all these matters, but know nothing about the matters on which they are opining.

We must, he said.

And what about those, who, by contrast, behold things themselves? Things which are always just the same as they are? Don’t they have knowledge rather than opinions?

This must also be so.

And won’t we say 480A that these people embrace and love the objects of knowledge, while those others embrace and love the objects of opinion? Or don’t you remember, we said that the others love and contemplate beautiful sounds and colours and the like, but they cannot bear to hear that there is such a thing as beauty itself?

I remember.

In that case, would it be offensive to call them lovers of opinion or philodoxical[41] rather than lovers of wisdom or philosophical? Would they get very angry with us if we referred to them in this way?

Not if they are persuaded by me anyway, he said, for it is not appropriate to be angry at the truth.

Then should those who embrace “what just is” be called philosophers, or lovers of wisdom[42], but not lovers of opinion?

Yes entirely so.

End Book 5


Book 6

484A Well then Glaucon, I said, after conducting quite a lengthy enquiry, we have, with some difficulty, discovered those who are philosophers and those who are not.

Yes, he said, perhaps it would not have been easy to shorten it.

Apparently not, I replied. And yet I still think the discovery would have gone better if we only needed to talk about this topic, and we had no need to discuss a host of outstanding 484B issues if we are going to discern the difference between the just and the unjust life.

What do we need to discuss after this, he said?

The next issue in due sequence, I replied, what else? Since philosophers can apprehend that which is always the same as it is, while those who cannot do so are not philosophers, but wander instead amid multiplicity and variety, which of them should actually be rulers in the city?

How may we give an adequate response to this question, he said?

Whichever sort proves capable of guarding the laws and the proceedings of the city are the ones to appoint as guardians, I replied.

Quite right, he said. 484C

Well I said, is it obvious whether it is a blind man or a keen-sighted man who should keep watch over something?

Of course, it is obvious, he said.

Well then, do these people seem any better than blind men? I mean, are these people blind who are, in truth, deprived of the knowledge of what anything is, who have no evident pattern in their soul and are unable to look towards perfect truth, as a painter looks at a model, always referring to that realm and contemplating it with the utmost precision, and who cannot establish regulations 484D concerning beauty, justice and goodness in this realm, if they are needed, or act as guardian saviours of what is already in place?

No, by Zeus, he said, they are not much different from blind men.

So shall we install these men as guardians in preference to those who know what each thing is and are not lacking in practical experience compared to the others, or inferior to them in any other aspect of excellence?

It would be most strange to choose anyone else if the philosophers, in fact, lacked none of the other qualities, for the particular quality in which they excel is really the most important one of all. 485A

Well shouldn’t we explain how the same people will be able to possess these qualities and the other qualities?

Yes certainly.

We said at the beginning of this discussion that it is necessary to understand their nature first, and I believe that if we come to a satisfactory agreement on this we shall also agree that the same people can possess both sets of qualities, and these must be the rulers of the city and not anyone else.


Well let’s agree something about philosophic natures. Let’s agree that they always love any learning 485B which would reveal to them something of that being which always is and does not wander in subjection to generation and decay.

We should agree on that.

And what’s more, I said, they will love all of it and will not willingly dismiss any part, be it small or large, honourable or dishonourable. They are just like the lovers of honour and the flattering lovers we described earlier.

What you are saying is correct, he said.

Here is something else you should think about. Consider whether people who are going to conform to this description must have an additional characteristic in 485C their nature.

What sort of characteristic?

Freedom from falsehood; they will never willingly accept the false; they hate it and love the truth.

Quite likely, he said.

Oh, it is not merely likely, my friend, but absolutely necessary for someone who is, by nature, lovingly disposed to anything, to cherish all that is kindred and related to the beloved.

You are right, he said.

Now could you find anything more closely related to wisdom than truth?

No, how could you, he said.

And is it possible for the same nature to love both truth and falsehood? 485D

Not at all.

So the genuine lover of learning should strive to the utmost for all truth from his youth upwards.

Entirely so.

However, when desires are strongly inclined in a single direction, we surely understand that they are weakened in the other directions, just like a stream which is diverted to a particular place.

Of course.

Now those who are inclined towards learning and everything like that would, I believe, be concerned with the pleasure of soul, just by itself, and would forsake the pleasures of the body if the person is to be truly 485E a philosopher and not artificially so.

This must be so.

Indeed such a man is self-controlled and in no sense, a lover of money. In fact, it is not appropriate for him to be involved in the concerns of money and its objects and its enormous extravagance.

Quite so.

486A Yes and there is something else you must consider if you are going to distinguish the philosophic nature from the un-philosophic.

What is it?

Be on the lookout for any involvement in slavishness. For presumably petty-mindedness is utterly inimical to the soul which intends to strive always for the whole and entire of both the divine and the human.

Very true, he said.

Now do you think that a mind endowed with magnificence, and a vision of all time and all being could regard human life as something important?

Impossible, he said.

486B And a man like this will not think that death is something terrible, will he?

Not in the least.

Then it seems, a cowardly and slavish nature would have no involvement in true philosophy.

I don’t think so.

Then again, is there any way that someone who is well behaved, not a lover of money, or slavish, or boastful, or cowardly could be unjust or difficult to deal with?

There is not.

Well when you are considering whether a soul is philosophic or not you will inquire whether he was just and gentle from his youth upwards or unsociable and wild.

Yes indeed.

486C And I think there is one more consideration you should not omit.

Which is?

Whether he learns easily or with difficulty: or do you expect that someone would ever really love an activity when its performance caused him pain, and after much difficulty he accomplished little?

No, he would not.

And what if he could preserve nothing of what he learned, being full of forgetfulness? Could he avoid being empty of knowledge?

No, how could he?

Now as his labour accomplishes nothing, don’t you imagine he will be driven finally to hate both himself and this sort of activity?

That is inevitable.

486D So we should not ever admit a forgetful soul into the ranks of those competent for philosophy but we must search instead for a retentive soul.

Yes entirely so.

What’s more, we would say that a person of un-harmonious and deformed nature is drawn to nothing else but mismeasure.

Of course.

And do you think truth is akin to measure or to mismeasure?

To measure.

So we should look for a mind which naturally exhibits measure and good grace in addition to the other qualities; a mind whose own nature allows it to be led easily to the form of anything that is.

We should of course.

486E Well then, do you think that the qualities we have listed are in any way unnecessary or incompatible with one another for a soul which intends to apprehend ‘what is’ adequately and comprehensively?

487A They are absolutely necessary, he replied.

Now is there any way you could criticise a pursuit like this, which no one would be able to engage in properly, unless he were naturally retentive, a good learner, magnanimous, gracious and a friend and relation of truth, justice, courage and self-control?

Not even Momus[43] would criticise an activity of that sort, he said.

Then, I said, shouldn’t the city be entrusted to such people, once they have been perfected by education and the passage of years?

487B Then Adeimantus said, Socrates, no one would be able to contradict you on these matters. However, your hearers have a particular kind of experience every time they hear what you are saying now.[44] They think they are being led a little astray by the argument with every question, due to their inexperience in questioning and answering. But when the little steps are gathered together at the conclusion of the arguments, the defeat proves to be enormous and quite contrary to the initial assertions. And just like draughts players who are finally boxed in by clever opponents and do not know what move they should make, 487C your hearers are also finally boxed in and do not know what they should say in this quite different game of draughts, played not with counters but with words. However, they have no better knowledge of the truth on account of this process.

I am speaking in the context of the present discussion. For someone may now say that they cannot oppose you in argument based upon each individual question but that you should look at the facts. Any people who venture into philosophy, not taking it up in their youth for educational purposes and then being free from it, but engaging in it for a long period 487D of time, most of them become very strange or, we could even say, utterly debased. There are others who seem completely reasonable except that they are rendered useless to their cities through their encounters with the very subject which you commend.


Having listened to all this, I replied, do you think that the people who make these statements are lying?

I do not know, he said, but I would be glad to hear your opinion.

Then I’ll tell you, in my opinion, they appear to me anyway to be speaking the truth.

487E In that case, he said, how is it appropriate to say that the cities will have no relief from evils until the philosophers rule in them, when we agree that such people are useless to the cities?

The question you have asked, I replied, needs an answer expressed by means of an image.

And I suppose you are quite unaccustomed to speaking in terms of images, he said!

Very well I said, are you mocking me, now that you have landed me with a proposition which is so 488A hard to prove? Anyway listen to the image so that you may get a better appreciation of how sparingly I make use of images. Indeed the plight which the most reasonable ones experience at the hands of their cities is so grievous that there is not a single predicament like it. Rather it is necessary to draw numerous sources together to develop an image of their condition and conduct a defence on their behalf, like the painters who draw goat-stags and hybrid creatures of that sort.

So imagine something like this taking place on numerous ships or on a single ship: the captain, though he exceeds everyone 488B on board in size and strength, is, on the other hand, somewhat deaf, his eyesight is also poor and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. Now, the sailors are arguing with one another over the steering of the ship, each believing that he should steer, though he has not ever learned the skill, nor is he able to indicate who his own teacher was, nor when it was that he studied with him. What’s more, they assert that the subject is not even teachable and they do not hesitate to cut into pieces anyone who says that it can be taught. They throng about the 488C captain himself imploring him and doing anything so that he will turn the helm over to them. Sometimes, if they do not prevail but others are preferred, they kill these others or throw them out of the ship, and having entangled the noble captain with drugs or drink or something else, they assume command of the ship, make use of its contents and sail on, drinking and feasting in the manner you expect from such people. As well as this 488D they praise anyone who is clever at working out how they can gain power by either persuading or overpowering the captain, and they refer to such a person as navigator, helmsman or professor of nautical affairs and anyone who is not like this they dismiss as useless. But they do not want to hear about the true helmsman, that he must make a study of the year, the seasons, the sky, stars and winds and everything appropriate to this skill, if he really intends to govern a ship. And they do not believe it is possible to be skilled and practised in taking the helm regardless of the wishes of anyone else 488E and be a skilled helmsman at the same time.

Now since this is what is happening on board the ship, don’t you think the true helmsman will indeed be called a star-gazer, an idler 489A and a useless person by the mariners on ships which are organised in this way?

Very much so, said Adeimantus.

Now I said, I don’t think you will require detailed scrutiny of the image to appreciate that it resembles the disposition of the cities towards the true philosophers. I think you understand what I mean.

Very much so, he said.

Then the first thing is to teach this image to the person who is amazed because philosophers are not honoured in the cities and try 489B to persuade him that it would be much more amazing if they were honoured.

Yes I shall teach him, he said.

And therefore, what you are saying is true: that the most reasonable of those who engage in philosophy are useless to the multitude. However, tell him that the people who do not make use of the philosophers are responsible for their uselessness and not those reasonable men. For it is not natural for the helmsman to implore the sailors to be ruled by him, or for the wise to go to the doors of the wealthy. No, whoever invented that ingenious expression was lying. The truth of nature is that whether you are rich or poor you must go to the doors of the doctors 489C when you are ill and all who wish to be ruled must go to the doors of those who can rule. The ruler must not implore his subjects to submit to his rule if he is to be of any use at all. But you will not be wide of the mark in comparing the politicians who are ruling now to the sailors we described earlier and those whom they refer to as useless and as star-gazers to the true helmsmen.

You are perfectly right, he said.

Well under these circumstances, and in these situations, it is not easy for philosophy to be esteemed as the paramount 489D activity by people who are acting in opposition to her. But by far the greatest and most intense detraction of philosophy owes its origin to those who claim to be engaging in philosophic activity. Indeed you said that the critic of philosophy maintains that most of those who embark upon its study are utterly debased while the most reasonable are useless, and I admitted you were speaking the truth. Is this so?


Didn’t we explain the cause of the uselessness of those who are reasonable?

Very much so.

Do you want us to go on and 489E explain the inevitable debasement of the majority and if we are able, should we try to demonstrate that philosophy is not responsible for this either?

Yes certainly.

Then let us listen and let us speak once we have reminded ourselves of where we described the sort of nature with which someone who is to be 490A fair and good must be endowed.[45] First, if you recall, it was truth that guided him; he had to pursue it comprehensively by every means, or being a pretender, have no involvement whatsoever with true philosophy.

Yes that is what was said.

And isn’t this one quality in stark contrast to the opinions currently expressed about him?

Very much so, he said.

Now shall we not put up a reasonable defence by saying that someone who actually loves learning would naturally strive towards ‘what is’ and would not dwell 490B upon each of the many things which seem to be. Rather he would go on without blunting his love or relenting in it until he had grasped the nature of what each thing is in itself with that part of the soul best fitted to apprehend this, the part which is kindred to it. Once he had drawn close to what actually is and consorted with it through that part of the soul, having given birth to reason and truth, he would know, and live truly and be nourished, and in this way and in no other would his travail cease.

Nothing could be more reasonable, he said.

Well then, will he share any love of falsehood, or, on the contrary, will he hate it?

He will hate it, he said. 490C

So once truth is leading the way, I presume we would never say that a chorus of evils could follow her.

How could it?

But what will follow is a sound and just character accompanied by self-control.

Correct, he said.

And in fact, why should it be necessary to arrange the rest of the chorus belonging to the philosophical nature all over again from the beginning? For presumably you do recall that courage, magnanimity, ease of learning and memory turned out to belong to such a nature. And you objected that everyone would indeed be forced to agree with what we are saying and yet if they set the arguments aside and looked 490D at the people we are referring to, they would say that some of them are seen to be useless while the majority are bad in every way. In considering the cause of this criticism we have come to a question: why precisely are the majority bad? And now on account of this question, we have taken up the nature of the true philosophers once more and we are compelled to define it.

So it is, he said.

490E Then, I said, we need to look at the corruption of this nature and how it is destroyed in most cases with few exceptions, a few who are, of course, referred to not as debased but as useless. And after that we should look in turn at those who imitate 491A this nature and set themselves up as practitioners of it. When souls of this nature encounter an activity of which they are unworthy and which is greater than themselves, they constantly fall into error and bring upon philosophy the reputation you describe, in all sorts of ways and in front of everyone.

What is the corruption you refer to, he said?

I shall try to explain this to you if I am able, I said. There is one point on which I think everyone will agree with us: a nature like this possessing all the qualities we prescribed just now for a perfect philosopher 491B will be few in number and will develop infrequently in people. Do you agree?

Yes definitely.

Now consider the many significant causes of the destruction of these few.

What causes?

Well the most amazing thing of all to hear is that each of the qualities which we praised in that philosophic nature destroys the soul which possesses it and tears it away from philosophy. I am referring here to courage, self-control and all the qualities we described.

That is very strange to hear, he said.

491C Yes and in addition to these, all the so-called goods corrupt and tear one away from philosophy: beauty, wealth, strength of body, strong family relationships within the city and everything associated with these. Now do you understand the kind of thing I am referring to?

I understand, he said, and I would love to hear what you have to say in more detail.

Then, I said, comprehend it correctly, in its entirety, and it will appear quite clear to you and the previous statements about these goods will not seem strange.

What are you telling me to do, he said?

491D In the case of all seeds or any growth either in the earth or in animals, we know that whatever does not encounter appropriate nourishment or climate or location feels a lack, and the more vigorous it is the more it feels the lack of what is appropriate to it. For badness is more opposed to good than to what is not good.

Of course.

Now it stands to reason, I believe, that the best nature turns out worse than the ordinary nature under nurture which is alien to it.

It does.

And won’t we say 491E that the same applies to souls? Those with the best natural endowments will become especially bad on encountering bad instruction. Or do you think that enormous injustices and unadulterated baseness originate in an ordinary nature rather than in a high-spirited nature corrupted by its nurture? Will a weak nature ever be responsible for any great good or any great evil?

No, he said, the situation is as you describe it.

492A Then I presume the nature we designated as philosophic must develop and attain complete excellence, if it obtains the proper instruction. However, if it is not sown, planted and nurtured in the proper manner it attains the very opposite instead, unless one of the gods happens to come to its aid.

Or do you also believe, as many do, that some young people are corrupted by sophists and that certain sophists operating in private are a corrupting influence of any significance? 492B Rather is it not the very people who make these statements who are the greatest sophists, who educate young and old, men and women to the utmost, and fashion them according to their will?

When does this happen, he said?

Whenever, I said, many people sit down together in large numbers in the assembly, the law court, the theatre or a military camp, or some other crowded public forum, and with much commotion they censure some things that are said or enacted and praise others, both in excess. 492C They cry out and applaud and the rocks and the very place they are in echo with them and redouble the din of their censure and praise. Now in such a situation, how do you think the young man’s heart will fare? What private education will withstand this and not be swept away by this sort of censure and praise, and be gone, borne away by the flood to wherever it may lead? Will he declare that what is beautiful or ugly is the same as they say it is? Will he behave as they do and be just like them?

492D Yes Socrates, he said, he must.

And yet I said, we have still not mentioned the most powerful compulsion.

What is that, he said?

The compulsion which these educators and sophists employ through their actions when they fail to persuade with words: or do you not realise that they punish people who are not persuaded, by means of loss of status, fines and death?

Yes most definitely, he said.

So what other sophist or what sort of private principles do you think will prevail in a struggle against such people as these? 492E

I don’t think there is one, he said.

No, there is not, I said, and even the attempt would be utter folly. For there is not, nor has there been, nor indeed will there ever be a character distinguished in excellence which has been educated in the system which these people provide, not among humanity anyway, my friend. Of course, according to the proverb, we should make an exception in the case of the divine. For we need to appreciate that if anything is saved and 493A develops as it should, when cities are in such a predicament as this, it is the providence of god that saves it. If you say this you will be speaking no evil.

Well that is how it seems to me anyway, he said.

Then said I, there is another proposition you should also accept as well as these.

What is it?

Each of the private hirelings whom certain people call sophists and regard as their professional rivals do not teach anything other than the doctrines of the masses; the opinions which they form when they are gathered together. And the sophists call this wisdom. It is as if a huge powerful beast was being nurtured and someone made a careful study of its appetites and desires: 493B how it should be approached and how it should be touched; when it is at its most difficult or when it is most docile; how these moods arise, and indeed what sounds it usually utters in either circumstance; and what sounds uttered, in turn, by others make it gentle or wild. Suppose, having learned all this through years of experience of being with the creature, he called it wisdom, set it up as a skill and turned to teaching it. Without knowing if any of those doctrines or desires was beautiful or ugly, 493C good or bad, just or unjust, he would decide everything according to the opinions of the huge animal; whatever pleased it he would call good, whatever upset it he would call bad, and this is the only argument he would have on the matter. Whatever was necessary he would call just and beautiful, without having seen the nature of the necessary and the nature of the good, and the extent to which they really differ, or being able to demonstrate this to anyone else. Now by Zeus, don’t you think a person like this would be a strange educator?

I think so, he said.

Well is there any difference between this man and someone who believes that discerning the mood and pleasures of these numerous variegated 493D gatherings of people is wisdom, whether it concerns painting, music or even politics? For regardless of how someone deals with them, whether he presents poetry or some other product or service to the city, once he turns the multitude into his masters beyond the limit of necessity, the so-called ‘necessity of Diomede’[46] compels him to produce whatever they praise. But have you ever yet heard someone make the case that these productions are, in truth, good and beautiful, based on an argument which was not utterly laughable?

493E No, and I don’t think I ever shall, he said.

Well now that you have understood all this, let me remind you of something: is there any way that the masses will accept or believe that there is such a thing as beauty itself rather than many beautiful things, or anything ‘by itself’ rather than 494A many particular objects?

Not in the least, he said.

So it is impossible for the multitude to be a philosopher, I replied.


And so those who engage in philosophy must be censured by the multitude.

They must.

And of course, by those private educators who associate with the crowds and long to please them.


Now do you see any salvation for the philosophic nature emerging from all this, so that it will persist in its activity and reach its objective? Think in terms of what was said earlier. 494B We did agree that ease of learning, memory, courage, and magnanimity belong to this nature.


Won’t a person like this, from his very childhood, be the first among them all in everything, especially if his body also develops like his soul?

He must be, he said.

Then his associates and fellow-citizens will want to make use of him for their own purposes once he comes of age.

How could they do otherwise?

494C So they will fall at his feet and petition him and honour him, laying on their flattery as they anticipate his impending power.

That is what tends to happen anyway, he said.

Now what do you think a person like this will do under such circumstances, especially if he happens to belong to a great city in which he is wealthy and of noble birth, and he is tall and good-looking besides? Will he not be filled with unbounded confidence, believing himself competent to manage the affairs of the Greeks 494D and the Barbarians? Won’t he exalt himself on account of this and be loaded with pretention and empty thinking which is devoid of reason?

Yes very much so, he said.

Well if one were to approach a person in such a predicament gently and tell him the truth, that there is no reason in him but he does need reason and that anyone who does not have it must work like a slave to acquire it, do you think it would be easy for him to hear this in the midst of such corrupting influences?

Far from it, he said.

What if one such person somehow becomes aware of philosophy, turns to her and is drawn there on account of good rearing and an affinity with reasoned arguments? 494E How do we think the others will respond when they presume that they will lose his influence and companionship? Won’t they do anything or say anything, through private conspiracies and public confrontations, to prevent him from being persuaded, and to prevent the persuader from succeeding?

Yes they must, he said. 495A

Then is there any way that such a person will enter into philosophy?

Certainly not.

Do you see now that we were not far wrong when we said that the very qualities of the philosophic nature, once they encounter bad nurture, are, in a way, responsible for making a man give up the activity?[47] And the same goes for the so-called goods such as wealth or any acquisition of that sort.

Yes what was said was correct.

So wonderful friend, such is the extent 495B of the corruption and the sort of destruction which afflicts the very best nature with regard to this supreme activity, and we assert that this nature is a rare occurrence in any case. And indeed from the ranks of these men come the people who inflict the greatest evils on cities and individuals, and the greatest good too, should they happen to be inclined in that direction. But a weak nature never does anything significant either to a city or to an individual.

Very true, he said.

And now that these people who are most suited to philosophy have gone away like this, they leave her alone 495C and incomplete, while they themselves live an unseemly and untrue life. Philosophy, on the other hand, is like an orphan without relatives. Unworthy characters arrive on the scene and they impute shame and derision to her, levelling the sort of criticisms you describe: that some of her associates are worthless while most of them are responsible for countless evils.

Well yes that is what they say anyway.

And what they say is quite reasonable. For other puny specimens of humanity observe that this place is becoming empty, though it is full of fair titles 495D and reputations. Like men who flee from prison to take refuge in temples, those who happen to be cleverest in their own little subject are glad to jump from their professions into philosophy. Nevertheless, philosophy, in spite of her predicament, retains a most worthy reputation in comparison with the other occupations, so of course many people whose nature is undeveloped aspire to this, but their souls are stunted 495E and crushed by vulgarities just as their bodies are deformed by their professions and occupations. This is inevitable isn’t it?

Very much so, he said.

Now do you think they are any different to behold than a small, bald-headed bronze-worker who has acquired some money, has recently been freed from bondage, washed himself at a bath-house, is wearing a brand new garment and is decked out like a bridegroom, intending to marry his master’s daughter because she is poor and abandoned?

496A No, there is not much difference, he said.

And what offspring are such unions likely to bring forth? Won’t it be illegitimate and ordinary?

It really must be.

Well then, what sort of ideas and opinions would we say are produced when those who are unworthy of education draw near to philosophy and consort with her when they do not deserve to? Wouldn’t it be best, in truth, to call them sophisms possessing nothing genuine or worthy of true intelligence?

Entirely so, he said.

Well Adeimantus, I said, what is left is some tiny remnant of those who are worthy to 496B consort with philosophy: perhaps a noble and well-reared character who has suffered exile, has no access to corrupting influences and remains naturally by her side. Or sometimes a great soul may grow up in a small city, show no respect for the affairs of that city and may see beyond them, or perhaps some few with natural endowments may come to her from other professions for which they rightly show an appropriate disregard. The bridle of our friend Theages[48] may also be able to restrain someone. Yes indeed all other factors in Theages’ 496C life gave him cause to give up philosophy; however, his inclination to physical illness keeps him out of public affairs and acts as a restraint. But my own daimonic sign[49] is not worth mentioning for I believe it has happened to scarcely anyone else before.

Now those who belong to this small group have tasted the sweetness and blessedness of this possession and can also see the madness of the multitude quite well, realising that in a sense, no one does anything reasonable in the conduct of civic affairs nor is there an ally 496D with whom a man could go to the aid of justice and still survive. Instead, he is like a man who has fallen in with wild animals, has no desire to conspire in wrongdoing, but is not up to the task of resisting all their savagery: a man who will perish before he is of any benefit to the city or his friends and would be of no use to himself or anyone else. Having understood all this through reflection, he is at peace and attends to his own affairs, like a man in a storm of wind-driven dust and rain who crouches beneath a low wall, and seeing that all else is crammed full of lawlessness, he is content if somehow he can live this life here purified of injustice and unholy deeds, and take his departure with good hope, gracious and kindly as he goes.

497A But surely, he said, if he were to depart, having accomplished this, it would be no mean achievement.

Nor the greatest possible achievement either, I said, unless he encounters a form of government which is propitious. For he himself will develop fully in a propitious city and will save what is public and what is private.

And now the origin of the slanders against philosophy and the injustice of the charges have, in my opinion, been properly explained, unless you have anything else to say.

No, he said, I have nothing else to say on this topic, but which of the present forms of government is propitious to philosophy?

497B None whatsoever, I said, that is the very accusation I am making, not one city of those presently in existence is worthy of the philosophic nature, and therefore, it is contorted and altered, just as an alien seed planted in foreign ground tends to be overpowered and fades into the local countryside, this type, in like manner, no longer holds onto his own capacity, but degenerates into a character which is not his own. However, if he encounters the most excellent form of government, 497C as excellent as himself, then it will be evident that this type is truly divine, while the others are human both in their natures and in their activities. Obviously the next thing you will ask is what this form of government is.

No, you are wrong, he said, I was not about to ask you that but whether this is the very form of government we have been describing whilst establishing our city, or is it a different form?

In general terms, it is that form, I said. However, it was also stated earlier that there must always be one person in the city possessing the same understanding of the form 497D of government which you, the lawgiver, held when you were instituting the laws.

Yes that was said, he replied.

But this was not made obvious enough, I said, because we were afraid of your objections which show that the proof of this is long and difficult. Indeed what now remains is not at all easy to recount.

What does remain?

The manner in which a city practising philosophy may avoid destruction; for obviously all great undertakings are prone to failure and it is a true saying that ‘hard is the good’.

497E But we should bring the proof to a conclusion anyway by making this point clear.

It is not lack of will, I said, but lack of ability, if anything, which may prevent this. And since you are here you will see how eager I am. Behold the impetuosity and rashness with which I now declare that the city must take up this philosophic activity in the opposite manner to the present manner.


498A Nowadays, I said, those who take up the subject are youths just out of childhood before they turn to household affairs and moneymaking, who get close to the most difficult aspect of the activity and then give up. I am referring to those with the greatest philosophic pretentions and when I mention ‘the most difficult aspect’, I mean reasoned arguments. Subsequently, if they are invited by others who engage in philosophy, they prefer to participate as listeners and they think that this is significant for they regard it as a necessary pastime. But in their later years, save of course for a few, they are extinguished more comprehensively than Heraclitus’ sun, insofar as they are never again rekindled.

498B What should they do, he asked?

The complete opposite; when they are youths and children they should engage in a youthful form of education and philosophy, and at a time when their bodies are developing and reaching manhood these should be very well cared for in order to procure a servant for philosophy.

But once they reach the age at which the soul starts to become mature they should intensify the exercises of the soul. And later, when the strength abates and they become unfit for political or military 498C affairs, at that stage they should be left to indulge in philosophy without restraint and do nothing else unless as a pastime, if they are to live happily and crown the life they have lived here with a propitious destiny beyond, when they die.

Socrates, he said, it really does seem to me that you have, at best, spoken enthusiastically. However, I think that most of your listeners are resisting you with even greater enthusiasm and will not be persuaded at all, beginning with Thrasymachus.

498D Do not speak ill of me and Thrasymachus, I replied, we have only just become friends, not that we were enemies before that. For we shall not give up this effort until we either persuade him and the others or make some preparation for that life wherein they come into being once more and encounter arguments such as these.

You are referring to quite a short time period, he said.

Yes but it is really nothing in relation to all time, I replied. However, the fact that most people are not persuaded by what is being said is no wonder at all. For they have never beheld this present ‘verbalisation in realisation’, no, just a lot 498E more expressions of this sort which cohere with one another due to contrivance rather than the chance occurrence which happened just now.[50] But they have never yet seen a number of men or even one man who is perfectly balanced and coherent in virtue, as far as this is possible both in word and in deed, holding power in a city 499A which is just like himself. Or do you think they have?

Not at all.

Nor, blessed friend, have they listened properly to beautiful and free discourse of a kind which exerts itself in every way to seek truth for the sake of knowledge, showing only a distant regard for clever and argumentative words whose aim, both in law courts and in private gatherings, is nothing except reputation and contention?

No, they do not have this experience either, he said.

499B Well on account of these issues and anticipating them at the time we were afraid, but nevertheless under the compulsion of truth, we said that neither a city, nor a form of government, nor an individual person either, would attain perfection until some necessity, perchance, constrains those few philosophers who are not corrupted but who have just been referred to as useless, to take responsibility for the city whether they want to or not, and also constrains the city to heed them; or until a true love of true 499C philosophy, through some divine providence, inspires the sons of our present kings or potentates or even the men themselves.[51] And I am saying that there is no reason why either or both of these outcomes is impossible, for in that case we would rightly be laughed at for uttering nothing but empty pieties. Is this so?

It is so.

Then if some necessity had arisen for those at the very pinnacle of philosophy to take charge of a city in the boundless ages of the past in some foreign land which is somehow far beyond 499D our view, or there is such a need at present, or if this will ever happen in future, then I am prepared to uphold the argument that there has been a form of government such as we have described, and there is and will be such a form whenever the muse of philosophy has come to power in a city. For it is not impossible to bring this into being, neither are we describing impossibilities, but we do acknowledge that it is difficult.

And that is how it seems to me too, he said.

And would you agree that this is not how it seems to most people?

Perhaps, he replied.

Blessed friend, I said, do not level undue criticism 499E at the masses in this manner. They will hold a different opinion if you are encouraging rather than adversarial as you undo this slander against the love of learning. Show them the people you call philosophers, and define 500A their nature and the activity just as you did before, so that they won’t think you are referring to the people whom they themselves regard as philosophers. And once they see this, surely you agree that they will hold a different opinion and respond differently. Or do you think that anyone gets angry with someone who is not being angry or acts grudgingly towards someone who is ungrudging and is a generous, gentle person? Actually, I shall anticipate your answer and say that it may happen in a few cases but in most cases such an angry nature does not arise.

And I agree with you, of course, he said.

500B And won’t you also agree that the angry disposition of most people towards philosophy is caused by those outsiders who rush in wildly where they do not belong, abusing one another, possessed by a love of adversity, always framing their arguments in relation to other people, an activity which is utterly inappropriate to philosophy?

Very much so, he replied.

Yes and surely you would also agree, Adeimantus, that someone whose mind is truly directed towards things that are 500C has no time to look down upon the affairs of men and do battle with them, filled with envy and hostility? No, he looks towards things which are in their assigned place, which are always the same, and seeing that these neither act unjustly nor are treated unjustly by one another but are completely ordered and in accord with reason, he imitates them and becomes as like unto them as possible. Or do you think there is any way that a person who delights in something and consorts with it can avoid imitating it?

Impossible, he said.

500D Then the philosopher consorting with the divine and the orderly becomes as divine and orderly as is possible for a human being. But there is enormous prejudice from all quarters.

Yes entirely so.

Now should some need arise for him to practise instilling what he sees in that place into the private or public affairs of humanity, and not merely to work upon himself, do you think he would prove to be a poor artificer of self-control and justice and the sum total of public excellence?

Not in the least, he said.

But if the masses actually realise that we are speaking the truth about the philosophers, will they still be angry with them and disbelieve us when we say 500E that a city will not ever be happy at all unless it is drawn by draughtsmen who have recourse to the divine pattern?

They will not be angry once they realise this, he said, but what manner of drawing are you referring to? 501A

Having taken the city, as if it were a writing tablet, and the customs of humanity too, they would first make them clean and this is no easy task. But in any case, you know that they would immediately differ from others in this respect; they would not be prepared to take responsibility for a person or a city or write laws, unless these were either clean when they received them or they themselves made them clean.

And rightly so, he said.

And after that don’t you think they would sketch an outline of the form of government?

Of course. 501B

Then I presume they would turn their gaze in both directions as they filled in the details, looking towards what is naturally just and beautiful and self-controlled and everything of that sort, and towards their counterpart in the realm of humanity. Mixing together and blending various activities they would fashion the likeness of a man by referring to what Homer calls ‘the form and image of god arising in human beings.’


501C And I imagine they would erase one feature and then draw in another feature until they had made the character of humanity as beloved of god as it can possibly be.

The picture could scarcely be more beautiful, he said.

Now I said, are we somehow persuading the people who are ‘rushing at us in battle array’[52]that this is the sort of draughtsman of forms of government we commended to them earlier? They were angry because we were going to hand the city over to this man but are they any gentler now that they have heard this?

Very much so, he replied, if they are self-controlled, anyway.

501D Yes but how could they dispute this? Would they say, that the philosophers are not lovers of truth and ‘what is’?

That would indeed be strange, he said.

Or that their nature, as we have described it, is not akin to the very best nature?

They cannot say that either.

Well then, will they say that such a nature, encountering the appropriate practises, will not be perfectly good and philosophic, if any nature can? Or will they say that the people we have excluded have a better chance?

Certainly not.

501E So will they still be angry when we say that until the philosophic type assume power there will be no cessation of evils for cities or for citizens, nor will the city which we are describing in fabled words ever be perfectly realised in action.

Perhaps they will be less angry, he said.

May we say, not that they are less angry but they have become completely 502A gentle and have been persuaded, so that they are inclined to agree with us even if only from shame?

Yes certainly, he said.

Then let’s assume that they are persuaded of this. However, is there anyone who will argue that there is no chance of the offspring of kings and potentates turning out to be philosophers by nature?

Not a single person will argue that, he replied.

Can anyone maintain that such people absolutely must be destroyed once they do come into being? We do agree, of course, that they are difficult to save, but is there anyone who would contend that throughout all time not even 502B one of them has ever been saved?

How could anyone maintain that?

But surely, if one such person comes into being and the city is co-operative, that is sufficient to accomplish everything which is now cast into doubt?

Yes it is sufficient, he said.

For I presume, said I, that once the ruler has set down the laws and practises we have described, it is certainly not impossible for the citizens to be willing to enact them.

No, not at all.

Well then, would it be any surprise if others held the opinions which we hold, is this impossible?

502C Well I don’t think so anyway, he said.

And indeed, in my opinion, we have provided sufficient evidence already that these arrangements, if they are possible, are the very best.

Yes quite sufficient.

Well now it seems we are coming to the conclusion that when it comes to the enactment of laws, the arrangements we are describing are the best, if they can be enacted. However, they are difficult but not impossible to implement.

Yes that’s what we are concluding, he said.

Therefore, since this issue has, with some effort, reached a conclusion, we should of course go on and discuss whatever remains; the manner in which the saviours fit into our form of government, the subjects 502D and activities upon which this is based and the ages at which they will take them up.

We should indeed discuss this, he said.

And nothing came of my earlier cleverness in passing over the difficult question of the possession of women, the begetting of children and the appointment of rulers. I knew that the completely true 502E version would attract hostility and is also difficult to implement, but now it proves necessary to give an account of it in any case.

Well matters relating to women and children have been concluded, however, the question of the rulers must, in a sense, be dealt with from the beginning. We said, if you recall, 503A that they must prove themselves to be lovers of the city, tested both in pleasure and in pain, and must show that they never set aside this principle in the face of hardship or fear or any adversity whatsoever. Those who cannot do this must be rejected while anyone who turns out to be entirely pure, like gold tested in the fire, should be installed as a ruler and be accorded honours both in life and after death, yea, and prizes too. These were the sort of things we were saying while the argument turned aside and hid itself for fear of initiating this particular discussion.

503B What you are saying is very true, he replied. I do remember.

Yes I was reluctant to say what I have just dared to say, but now we should have the courage to declare that philosophers must be appointed as guardians, in the strict sense of the word.

Yes we should say so, he replied.

Now bear in mind that they will probably be few in number. For the various qualities of the nature we described must be applicable to them, and those qualities are seldom inclined to develop together in the same person, but are usually dispersed throughout the population.

What do you mean, he said?

503C You know that ease of learning, memory, sagacity, acuity and whatever is associated with these, along with high spirit and magnificence of mind tend not to develop along with a desire to live an orderly life in peace and constancy. Rather such people are borne by their own brilliance wherever chance may lead and all constancy goes out of them.

What you say is true.

On the other hand, don’t characters that are constant and not easily swayed, in which we place more trust, that are unmoved in the face of terrors 503D on the battlefield, also act in just the same way when faced with things to be learned. They are hard to move and hard to teach as if they had been paralysed, and are full of sleep and yawning if they have to apply themselves to such a task.

That is what happens, he said.

But we stated that a person must partake of both characters in proper and fair measure or else he should not be given a share of education in the truest sense, or of honour or of rule.

Correct, he said.

Don’t you think that this will be rare?

How could it not be?

Then they should be tested under the hardships, fears 503E and pleasures we described earlier. And there is also the point we just mentioned which we passed over before; that they should be put through exercises in many branches of learning to see if they will be able to endure the most important subjects or will prove to be cowards 504A just as people also prove to be cowards in the other situations.

Yes of course, he said, it is quite appropriate to consider the matter in this way, but what sort of important subjects are you actually referring to?

You remember, I presume, that once we had distinguished three forms of soul we came to conclusions about what justice is and about what self-control, courage and wisdom each is.[53]

Well he said, if I did not remember I would have no right to hear the rest of this discussion.

Do you also remember what was said before that?

What sort of thing?

504B I believe we said that in order to obtain the clearest possible view of these, another longer circuitous route[54] would be necessary and they would become apparent to someone who took that route. However, we said we could add proofs which follow from the previous discussion and you agreed that this was sufficient and on this basis what was said was said, though it seemed to me to lack precision. But whether it was satisfactory to you is for you to say.

Well to me it was satisfactory in some measure, and the others seemed to think so too.

504C But my friend, I said, in such matters a measure which leaves out any aspect of ‘what is’ does not act as a measure at all, for nothing incomplete is a measure of anything. However, it does sometimes seem to some people that enough has been achieved already and it is not necessary to search any further.

Yes lots of people feel like this due to laziness, he said.

But this feeling has no place whatsoever in a guardian of the city and the laws.

That’s reasonable, he said.

Then my friend, the more circuitous route must be taken by someone like this 504D and he should devote just as much labour to learning as to gymnastics. Otherwise, as we just said, he will never attain the objective of the greatest and most important subject.

So is there something greater than justice and whatever else we described? Are these not the greatest?

There are greater, and in those cases we must behold no mere outline as we did just now. No, we cannot avoid giving a complete and comprehensive account. Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to make all these efforts to achieve the utmost precision and clarity 504E in issues of little significance and in contrast, deem the greatest issues unworthy of the greatest precision?

Very much so, he said, but do you think that anyone will let you go without asking what the greatest subject is and what it deals with?

Not at all, I said, you should ask. You have heard the answer often enough, that’s for sure, but now either you can’t think of it or, alternatively, you intend to make work for me 505A by raising objections. And I suspect it is more the latter, since you have often heard that the form of the good is the greatest object of knowledge and that justice and the others become useful and beneficial through recourse to this. You know quite well that I am going to talk about this and will also say that our knowledge of it is inadequate. And if we do not know this but have comprehensive knowledge of other matters without knowing this, you know it is of no benefit to us nor is anything else we acquire without, however, acquiring 505B good. Or do you think there is any advantage in acquiring everything without acquiring the good? Or in understanding everything else except the good, but understanding nothing fair and good?

By Zeus, I do not, he said.

Well now you also know that to most people, pleasure seems to be the good but to the more refined people it seems to be understanding.

So it does, he said.

And you know that those who believe this are unable to indicate what this understanding is, rather they are finally compelled to say that it is understanding of ‘the good’.

Yes it is quite comical, he said.

505C Isn’t that inevitable, I said, if they criticise us because we do not know the good while talking to us as if we did know it? For they say that it is understanding of the good as if, for our part, we follow what they are saying whenever they utter the phrase ‘the good’.

Very true, he said.

And what about those who define pleasure as the good? Are they any less adrift than the others? Aren’t they also compelled to agree that there are bad pleasures?


In that case, it follows, I presume, that they are agreeing that the same things are both good and bad. Is this so?

505D Of course.

Isn’t it evident then that there are many intense disputes about it?


What about this? Is it not evident that many people would choose whatever seems to be just and fair when it comes to actions, possessions or reputations, even if these are not actually just and fair. But no one is ever satisfied with acquiring what seems to be good, no, they search for things that are good and in this case, they utterly despise seeming.

Very much so, he said.

505E So there is something that every soul pursues and for the sake of which she performs all actions, possessing an intuition that there is such a thing. But she is perplexed and cannot apprehend precisely what it is or resort to a stable belief, as she does in other pursuits, and on this account, she loses any benefit from the other pursuits. Now would we say 506A that our guardians, the very best people in the city to whom everything is entrusted, should be in such dark ignorance about something as important as this?

Least of all, he said.

Anyway I suspect that when there is ignorance as to how exactly the just and fair are also good, they will obtain a guardian who is not good for much, as he will be ignorant of this issue. And my intuition is that no one will have adequate knowledge of the just and the fair until this is known.

A sound intuition indeed, he said.

Won’t our form of government attain perfect order, 506B if a guardian such as this, someone with knowledge of these matters, watches over her?

It must, he replied, but Socrates, are you saying that the good is knowledge or pleasure or something else besides these?

What an excellent man you are, I said, indeed it has been evident for some time that you would not accept the opinions of others about this.

Yes Socrates, it does not seem right to me to be able to express other people’s opinions but not your own when you have been engaged in these issues for such a long time. 506C

Then what about this? Does it seem right to you for someone who does not know, to speak as if he knows?

He certainly should not speak as if he knows, he replied, but he should be prepared to state what he believes as if he believed it.

Yes but have you not observed that opinions devoid of knowledge are all disgraceful? That the very best of them are blind? Or do you think that those who form true opinions devoid of reason are any different from blind men travelling along the right road?

Not one bit, he replied.

So would you like to contemplate the disgraceful, the blind and the deformed when it is possible to hear what is bright and beautiful from other sources?

506D By Zeus, Socrates, said Glaucon, do not give up when you are almost at the end. Indeed we shall be satisfied even if you give an account of the good in the same way that you also gave an account of justice, self-control and the others.

And so shall I, my friend, I shall be quite satisfied, but I fear that I shall not be able, and in my enthusiasm I shall disgrace myself and incur ridicule. Instead, blessed friends, let’s set aside for now this question of ‘what precisely is the good?’, for it appears to me that to attain what I now have in mind is beyond this current 506E endeavour. However, I am prepared to describe something which appears to be the offspring of the good and to resemble it very closely, if that is acceptable to you, otherwise let’s leave it.

507A Just speak, he said, you will repay the story of the father some other time.

I wish that I could give you this, and that you could receive it and not the mere ‘interest’[55] I am giving you now. Anyway you should certainly accept this interest and offspring of the good itself. However, be careful in case I somehow deceive you unintentionally with a false account of the interest.

We’ll be as careful as we can, just speak.

I’ll begin once I have come to an agreement with you and reminded you of what was said previously and has often been said on other occasions too.

What are you referring to, he said?

507B We say that there are many beautiful things, many good things and so on and we define them in words.

Yes that’s what we say.

And we say there is beauty itself and good itself, and the same applies to everything else we then designated as many. Furthermore, based upon a single form belonging to each multiplicity, designating the form as being one, we refer to it as ‘what each is’.

This is so.

And we say that the many are seen but are not known by reason, while the forms are known by reason but are not seen.

Entirely so.

507C Now with which of our faculties do we see visible objects?

With sight.

And with hearing we hear whatever is heard and with the other senses we perceive all that is perceived, is this so?

Of course.

Now have you thought about the great extravagance with which the artificer of the senses fashioned the faculty of seeing and being seen?

Not much, he replied.

Well consider this: do hearing and sound require another factor so that the one can hear and the other be heard, a third element in the absence of which 507D hearing won’t hear and sound won’t be heard?

They require nothing, he replied.

Yes and I believe there is no such requirement in most other instances though I do not wish to say there are none at all. Or do you have any examples?

No, I do not, he said.

But do you realise that the faculty of sight and visibility does have this requirement?

How so?

Sight is presumably present in the eyes and their possessor attempts to make use of it. Colour is present too but in the absence of a third factor naturally adapted to the particular purpose, you know 507E that sight will see nothing and colours will be invisible.

What factor are you referring to, he asked?

It is what you call light, I replied.

What you are saying is true, he said.

Then the sense of sight and the capacity 508A to be seen are yoked together by a bond, more noble in no small measure than other combinations since light does not lack nobility.

On the contrary, he said, it is far from ignoble.

Now can you say which lord of the gods in heaven is responsible for this light by which our sight can see so clearly and the objects of vision be seen?

I can say what you or anyone else can say, for obviously you are asking about the sun.

Well is there a particular natural relation of sight to this god?

How is it related?

Neither sight itself nor the eye, in which we say sight arises, are the sun.

No they are not. 508B

And yet I believe the eye, of all the organs of sense, is most like the sun in form.

Very like.

And isn’t the power it possesses acquired as an influx dispensed from the sun?

Yes entirely so.

In which case the sun is not sight, however, being the cause of sight is it seen by sight itself?

Quite so, he replied.

Then you should realise that what I am describing is the offspring of the good which the good itself generated in a particular relation to itself: in so far as the good, in the realm of reason, relates to reason and whatever is known by reason, so does the sun, in the realm 508C of sight, relate to sight and whatever is known by sight.

In what way, he asked, tell me more?

You know that whenever the eyes are no longer turned to objects whose colours receive the light of day but to objects in the dim light of the night, their keenness is blunted and they almost seem blind as though there is no clear vision in them.

Very much so, he replied.

And yet I believe, when they turn to objects on which the sun shines they see clearly and it appears that there is vision 508D in those same eyes.

Of course.

Then you should also understand the condition of the soul in the same way. Whenever she rests on something upon which truth and ‘what is’ shine, she reasons and knows it and appears to possess reason. However, when directed to something compounded with darkness, which comes into being and is destroyed, she forms opinions, sees dimly, changes her opinions back and forth and in this situation, seems not to possess reason.

Yes that is how it seems.

Then you should declare that the form of the good bestows truth upon whatever is known 508E and confers the power of knowing on the knower. Being the cause of knowledge and truth you should think of it as knowable. However, although knowledge and truth are both beautiful, you would be right to regard this as different from them and even more beautiful than both of them. And just as in the previous case, it is right to regard light and sight as resembling the sun in form but it is not right to believe they are the sun, so also in this case it is right to regard knowledge and truth 509A as both resembling the good in form but it is not right to believe that either of them is the good. No, the character of the good should be accorded even greater honour.

You are speaking of an unparalleled beauty, he said, if it bestows knowledge and truth exceeds them in beauty; for you are surely not saying that it is pleasure.

Please show respect, I said, and consider a further aspect of its image.

In what way?

509B I assume you will agree that the sun bestows not only the ability to be seen upon visible objects but also their generation, development and nurture, though the sun itself is not generation.

How could I disagree?

Then not only does the knowability of whatever is known derive from the good but what it is and its being is conferred on it through that though the good is not being but is even beyond being, exceeding it in dignity and power.

509C Then Glaucon exclaimed quite hilariously: by Apollo, it is utterly supernatural!

Yes, I said, and you are responsible for making me express my opinions about it.

And you should not stop at all, he replied, at least give us more details about this simile of the sun if there is anything you are leaving out.

In fact, I said, I am leaving out quite a lot.

Well you shouldn’t omit even a little, he said.

I think I shall omit a lot, I said. Nevertheless, to the extent that it is possible at present, I shall not leave anything out deliberately.

Then don’t, he said.

509D Keep in mind what we have been saying: that there are two entities, one having lordship of the realm and category known by reason while the other is lord of the visible realm. Now I hope you don’t think I am just playing with words[56] but do you now appreciate that there are these two forms, one known by sight and the other by reason?

I appreciate that.

Then take a line which has been divided into two unequal sections, one corresponding to the category known by sight and the other to the category known by reason. Divide each section once more in the same ratio and you will have an expression of their relative clarity and obscurity in the realm of sight. There, one section consists of images and by images I mean shadows first 510A and then appearances produced in water and in anything dense, smooth and polished, and indeed everything else of that sort. Do you understand?

I do understand.

Then you should designate the other section as that which the first one resembles; the animals around us, everything that grows and the entire category of inanimate objects.

Very well, he said.

And would you also be prepared to say that this division makes a distinction involving truth and its absence, for as an object of opinion relates to an object of knowledge so also does a likeness relate to whatever it is like?

510B I would indeed, he replied.

Now you should go on to consider how the section known by reason is to be divided.

Yes in what way?

In this way: in one of the sections, the soul is compelled to search based on hypotheses using as images what had previously been imitated, and proceeding not to a first principle but to a conclusion. In the other section, however, she also goes on from an hypothesis to an un-hypothesised first principle, and based upon forms themselves, she conducts her approach through them, without the images used before.

I don’t really understand what you are saying, he said.

Then I’ll try again 510C for you will learn more easily from these preliminary examples. Indeed I am sure you appreciate that those involved with geometry or calculation and such subjects hypothesise odd and even, the various shapes, the three kinds of angles and other kindred hypotheses, depending on the particular approach. They assume that these are already known, turn them into hypotheses and see no value in giving an account of them either to themselves or to anyone else as they are obvious to everyone. 510D Beginning from these, they proceed with the remaining issues and arrive at consistent conclusions about the matter they set out to investigate.

Yes, he said, I certainly know this.

In that case, you also appreciate that they make use of the visible forms and construct their arguments in relation to them, although it is not the visible forms that they have in mind but the entities which they resemble. They construct their arguments with an eye to the square itself and the diameter itself and not the 510E one in the diagram. The same applies to the other instances; they take the objects which are fabricated or drawn, objects which have shadows and images in water, and use them in turn as images, seeking 511A to discern the entities themselves which may only be discerned through thought.

What you are saying is true, he said.

Well this is the form I described as ‘known by reason’, however, the soul is compelled to employ hypothesis in her investigation of it, not proceeding to a first principle as she is unable to transcend any higher than hypotheses. Instead, she employs as images the very objects which are imitated in the lower division, objects which are regarded as clear and worthy of honour when compared to their images.

I understand that you are referring to the province of geometry and subjects related 511B thereto, he said.

Then you should appreciate that I am referring to the other division of the realm known by reason as what reasoned argument itself attains through the power of dialectic. It does not turn the hypotheses into first principles but into actual underpinnings like steps or points of attack so that it may go as far as the un-hypothesised, to the first principle of all. Having attained that proceeding once more to follow whatever depends on that it descends in this way 511C to a conclusion having no recourse whatsoever to any sense object but to forms themselves, through forms, to forms and ending in forms.

I appreciate that, he said, but not very well for you seem to me to be describing a vast undertaking. Anyway you wish to establish that the realm contemplated by the knowledge of dialectic, the realm of ‘what is’ and what is known by intelligence, is clearer than what is contemplated by what we call skills. In skills, the hypotheses are the first principles and those who discern their objects, despite the fact that they must see them through understanding rather than through the senses, enquire on the basis of hypotheses. However, because they do not ascend to a first principle 511D you don’t think they employ intelligence in relation to these objects, even though they are objects of intelligence associated with a first principle. And you seem to me to be calling the faculty of geometers and the like not intelligence but understanding, as understanding is something in between opinion and intelligence.

You have given a very competent exposition, I said. And corresponding to the four sections, you should assume four qualities arising in the soul; intelligence corresponding to the highest and understanding to the second. 511E Assign belief to the third, imagination to the last, and arrange them in proportion accepting that these partake of clarity insofar as their objects partake of truth.

I understand, he said, and I agree and I am arranging them as you suggest.

End Book 6


Book 7

514A Now, I said, after this you should compare our nature in respect of education or lack of education to a condition such as this. Behold men in a sort of underground cave-like dwelling, with a long entrance facing towards the light along the side of the entire cave. They have been in this from childhood, with bonds both on their legs and on their necks 514B so that they remain looking only at what is in front of them, being unable to turn their heads around because of the bond on the neck.

Light comes to them from a fire burning above and at a distance behind them, and higher up, between the fire and the prisoners, there is a path and you can see a low wall built along the path, just like the screens which puppet makers place in front of themselves, over which they display their puppets.

I see, he said.

Besides this you should also see men carrying a variety of objects 514C past the wall including statues of men and other 515A animals, made of wood, stone and all sorts of materials. Some of the object carriers are likely to be speaking, while others are silent.

You are describing a strange image, he said, and strange prisoners.

They are just like us, I said. For in the first place, do you think such people would ever have seen anything of themselves or one another, apart from the shadows cast by the fire onto the cave wall in front of them?

How could they, he replied, if they were compelled 515B to keep their heads motionless throughout life?

And what about the objects being carried, isn’t the situation the same?

Of course.

Now if they could converse with one another, don’t you think they would call the very things they saw, things that are?

They must.

What if the prison had an echo coming from the opposite wall? Whenever one of the passers-by spoke, do you think the men would believe the speaker to be anything other than the passing shadow?

By Zeus, I do not, he said.

515C Then such people would believe, without reservation that truth is nothing but the shadows of the artificial objects.

They really must, he said.

Now, I said, consider what liberation from their bonds, and cure of their ignorance, would be like for them, if it happened naturally in the following way. Suppose one of them were released, and compelled suddenly to stand up, turn his neck, walk, and look up towards the light. Wouldn’t he be pained by all this and, on account of the brightness, 515D be unable to see the objects whose shadows he previously beheld. And if someone were to tell him that he beheld foolishness before, but now he sees more truly, as he is much closer to “what is”, and is turned towards things which partake of more being, what do you think he would say? Moreover, if they showed him each of the passing objects and forced him to answer the question “what is this?”, don’t you think he would be perplexed, and would believe that what he saw before was truer than what he is now being shown?

Very much so, he replied.

And if he were compelled to look towards the light itself, wouldn’t his eyes be pained? 515E Wouldn’t he turn about and flee to those things he really can see, and regard these as, in fact, clearer than what he is being shown?

Just so, he replied.

And if someone were to drag him forcibly, from there, along the rough upward path, and not let him go until he had been dragged out into the light of the sun, wouldn’t he be distressed and upset by the process? 516A And once he had come into the light, wouldn’t his eyes be flooded with its glare, and be unable to see even one of what are now called truths.

No, they would not, he said, not immediately anyway.

Yes, I think he would need to become accustomed to it, if he was ever to behold the objects of the upper realm. At first he would discern shadows very easily, after that, images of men and other objects in water, then the actual objects. From these he would proceed to view the heavenly bodies and the heaven itself by night, looking to the light of the stars 516B and the moon more easily than the sun and the light of the sun by day.

What else could he do?

Then I imagine he would finally be able to behold the sun, not its appearance in water or in an alien setting, but just by itself, in its own place, and he would see it as it is.

This must be so, he said.

And after this, he would then make deductions about it: that this is what provides the seasons and the years, presiding over everything in the visible realm 516C and, in a way, the cause of everything they have been seeing.

Obviously, he said, those are the steps he would take.

What then? Remembering his first dwelling place, and the wisdom there, and his former fellow prisoners, wouldn’t he believe that he himself was blessed by the transformation, but feel compassion for them?

Very much so.

And suppose they received certain honours and praises from one another, and there were privileges for whoever discerns the passing shadows most keenly, and is best at remembering which of them usually 516D comes first or last, which are simultaneous and, on that basis, is best able to predict what is going to happen next. Do you think he would have any desire for these prizes, or envy those who are honoured by the prisoners and hold power over them? Or would he much prefer the fate described by Homer and “work as a serf for a man with no land” and suffer anything at all, rather than hold their opinions, and live as they do?

516E I think it is just as you say; he would accept any fate rather than live as they do.

Yes, and think about this, I said, if such a person were to go back down and sit in the same seat, wouldn’t his eyes become filled with darkness after this sudden return from the sunlight?

Very much so, he said.

Now suppose that he had to compete once more with those perpetual prisoners, in recognising these shadows, while his eyesight was still poor, before 517A his eyes had settled down: since it would take some time to become accustomed to the dark, wouldn’t he become a figure of fun? Wouldn’t they say that he went up, but came back down with his eyes ruined, and that it is not worth even trying to go upwards? And if they could somehow catch and kill a person who was trying to free people and lead them upwards, wouldn’t they do just that?

Definitely, he said.

Then, dear Glaucon, I said, you should connect 517B this image, in its entirety, with what we were saying before. Compare the realm revealed by sight to the prison house, and the firelight within it to the power of our sun. And if you suggest that the upward journey, and seeing the objects of the upper world, is the ascent of the soul to the realm known by reason, you will not be misreading my intention since that is what you wanted to hear. God knows whether it happens to be true, but in any case, this is how it all seems to me: when it comes to knowledge, the form of the good is seen last and is seen only through effort. Once seen it is reckoned to be the actual cause of all 517C that is beautiful and right in everything, bringing to birth light, and the lord of light, in the visible realm, and providing truth and reason in the realm known by reason, where it is lord. Anyone who is to act intelligently either in private or in public must have had sight of this.

I also hold the same views that you hold, he said, after my own fashion, anyway.

Come on then, I said, and agree with me about something else; do not be surprised that those who have attained these heights have no desire for involvement in human affairs, their souls, 517D rather, are constantly hastening to commune with the upper realm. For I presume that’s what is likely to happen, if this really does accord with the image we described earlier.

Yes, quite likely, he said.

Yes, and do you think it would it be any surprise, I asked, if someone who has returned from divine contemplations, to human affairs, disgraces himself badly and appears utterly ridiculous, while his eyes are still dim and if, before he has become accustomed to the prevailing darkness, he is compelled to argue, in courtrooms or elsewhere, about the shadows of justice, or the artificial objects which cast those shadows, and dispute about these matters as understood by people who have never seen justice itself?

No, that would be no surprise at all, he replied.

518A But if someone were endowed with reason, I said, he would recall that the confounding of the eyes is of two kinds, and has two sources: a change from light to darkness, or from darkness to light. And having realised that the same thing happens to the soul, he will not laugh boorishly whenever he sees a soul confused and unable to see clearly, instead he will enquire whether she has come from a brighter life and is darkened because she isn’t used to the gloom, or she is coming from the utter darkness of ignorance into a brighter 518B realm, and is dazzled by the greater brilliance. So on this basis, he would regard the condition and the life of one soul as blessed, while he would feel compassion for the other, and if he wished to laugh at her, his laughter would be less scornful than it would for a soul descended from the light above[57].

Yes, he said, what you are saying is very reasonable.

Then, I said, if this is all true, there is something we need to recognise: education is not the sort of thing which some people profess it to be. They somehow claim that although knowledge 518C is not present in the soul, they can put it there as if they were putting sight into blind eyes.

Yes, that is what they say.

Yes, but the argument is now indicating that this capacity, present in the soul of each person, the organ by which each learns, is like an eye which cannot turn to the light from the darkness unless the whole body turns. So this organ must be turned, along with the entire soul, away from becoming, until it becomes capable of enduring the contemplation 518D of what is, and the very brightest of what is, which we call the good. Is this so?


Then, I said, there would be a particular skill dealing with this turning of the soul, some manner in which it might be turned around most easily and effectively: a skill which does not produce sight in the soul, but assumes that although sight is already present, it is not directed properly, or looking where it should, and sets about correcting this.

Yes, so it seems.

Now the other excellences which are said to belong to the soul are really somewhat closer to physical excellence, for they are not actually present at first, but are generated later through habit and practice. However, 518E that excellence wherein we employ reason surely belongs, most of all, to something more divine, it seems, something whose power is never destroyed, but becomes either useful and beneficial, or useless and harmful, 519A depending upon how the soul is turned. Or have you never noticed those men who are said to be evil and yet wise? Have you noticed the keen vision of their tiny soul and how sharply it discerns whatever it happens to turn to? For there is no problem with its sight, but it is forced into the service of evil, and consequently, the more keenly it sees, the more evil it accomplishes.

Yes, certainly, he said.

However, I said, if this part of someone with such a nature is worked upon from earliest childhood, the relationships 519B with becoming are cut away as if they were leaden weights. These grow upon the soul through gluttony and similar pleasures and the refinements thereof, and turn the vision of the soul downwards. But once she is quit of them she turns around to the realm of truth, and the same part of the same people beholds that realm, just as clearly as it beholds whatever is in front of it now.

Quite likely, he said.

What about this? Isn’t it also likely, I said, and mustn’t it follow from what we said before, that neither the uneducated, with no experience of truth, nor those who are allowed519Cto spend all their time in education, would ever be adequate custodians of the city? The one, because they don’t have a single purpose in life which they should aim at in all the actions they perform in public or in private; the other, because they will not willingly engage in action, as they believe that whilst still alive, they are already dwelling on the far off islands of the blessed.

True, he said.

Now it is our task as founders to compel the best natures to attain the learning which we said, previously, was the most important; to see the good, and ascend 519D that upward path. And once they have ascended, and seen enough, we must not allow them to do what is permitted at present.

What is that?

They are allowed to remain there, with no desire to descend once more among those prisoners, or to partake of their endeavours and their honours, whether these are mundane or more serious.

In that case, he said, shall we be doing them an injustice? Shall we make them live an inferior life when a better one is available to them?

519E My friend, you have just forgotten that the law is not concerned with how one particular class in the city may fare better than the others. Instead, it tries to bring this about in the city as a whole, creating harmony among the citizens by persuasion and compulsion, and making them share, with one another, 520A any benefit that each of them is able to contribute to the community. And the law itself produces men like these in the city, not so that each may go in any direction he pleases, but to use them to bind the city together.

True, he said, I had forgotten this.

Then, I said, you must see, dear Glaucon, that we are not doing an injustice to the philosophers in our midst, but we shall be making just demands when we compel them to care for and protect 520B the other citizens. We shall say that “when people like you arise in the other cities, it is reasonable that they don’t share in the labours of those cities, and this is justified there, because such people develop of their own accord, through no intention on the part of that civic arrangement, and it is only fair that whatever develops of its own accord, owes its nurture to no one, and should feel no urge to pay for that nurture.”

“But you have been bred by us like kings and rulers of the hive, both for your own sakes and for the rest of the city. Having been better and more perfectly educated than them, you are more capable of participating in both realms. 520C Therefore, you must each play your part, and go down to where the others dwell together, and become accustomed with them to the dark shadows. For once you are used to the darkness, you will see a thousand times better than the people there, and you will know what each of the images is, and what it is an image of, because you have seen the truth about things beautiful, just and good. Accordingly, the city will be governed by us and by you in a wakeful state, and not in a dream, as most cities are governed today, by men who fight one another over shadows, and battle 520D for public office as if that was the greatest good. But surely the truth is that, that city in which those who are going to rule have the least desire to do so must be the best governed city and the one most free from strife, and if it gets the opposite sort of rulers, it must be ruled in the opposite manner.”

Yes, certainly, he said.

Now will our charges be unmoved when they hear this, and will they be reluctant to join in the work of the city when it is their turn, and then live together, most of the time, in the pure realm?

520E Impossible, he replied. We are laying just injunctions upon just men. However, each of them will approach public office very much as a necessity, in contrast to those who now rule every city.

So, on this basis, my friend, if you can find a better 521A life than ruling, for these who are going to rule, a well governed city becomes a possibility for you. For only there will the truly wealthy be the rulers, wealthy not in gold but in the wealth which a blessed man needs; a good and reasonable life. However, if beggars, starved of goods of their own, enter public affairs thinking that therein they may seize the good, then it is an impossibility. For, public office then becomes something to fight over, and a domestic and internal battle like this destroys the disputants, and the rest of the city.

Very true, he said.

521B Now other than the life of true philosophy, can you think of any life that despises political office?

By Zeus, I cannot, he said.

Well in that case, those who are not lovers of public office must take it on; otherwise the competing lovers will fight over it.

How could it be otherwise?

Now are there any others whom you would compel to act as guardians of the city, others who would manage it better than those who are wisest about these matters who have other honours, and a better life than politics?

There are no others, he replied.

521C Then would you like to go on to consider the manner in which people like this will arise in our city, and how we shall lead them to the light, just as certain people are said to have ascended from Hades to the gods?

How could I refuse, he said?

Well this, it seems, would not be the mere flipping over of an oyster shell, but a process of turning the soul around from a day which is more like night, to the true day, the ascent to what is, an ascent which we may truly call philosophy.

Yes, certainly.

521D Then is it necessary to consider which branch of learning possesses a power like this?

We must.

Now Glaucon, what subject would draw the soul from becoming towards what is? And something else occurs to me as I say this: didn’t we state that these guardians must be practised in war, when they are young?

Yes, we said that.

So the subject we are looking for must also have this characteristic as well as the other.

What characteristic?

It must not be useless to military men.

It certainly must not, if that is actually possible.

In the earlier account they were educated by us in gymnastic and in music.

They were, he said.

521E Gymnastic is presumably concerned with what comes into being and passes away, for it presides over the development and the decline of the body.

So it appears.

Then this would not be the subject we are looking for.

It would not. 522A

So in that case, is it music in the sense we described it earlier?

But that was the counterpart of gymnastic, he said, and if you recall, it educated the guardians through habit, imparting gracefulness through its harmony, and orderliness through its rhythm, without imparting knowledge. And it also contained habits akin to these in its words, both in the mythical stories and in the truer versions. However music does not include a branch of learning that leads towards the sort of thing you are looking for now.

522B Your reminder is very precise, I said, music actually contains nothing of that sort. But what kind of subject would this be? Indeed all of the skills seemed somehow to be mechanical.

Yes, they must be. And yet what other subject is left apart from music, gymnastic and the various skills?

Come on, if we can’t come up with anything besides these, let’s select something applicable to them all.

Like what?

522C Like this, what they have in common, that which all skills, concepts, and knowledge refer to, and which is also the first thing everyone learns.

What is it, he asked?

The ordinary process, I said, of distinguishing one, two and three, in short, arithmetic and calculation. Isn’t it the case that all skill and knowledge must involve recourse to these?

Very much so, he replied.

Military skill too, I asked?

It certainly must, he replied.

522D In that case, Palamedes in the tragedies repeatedly shows up Agamemnon as an utterly ridiculous general. Or have you not noticed that he claims to have discovered number and arranged the ranks of the army at Troy and counted the ships and everything else, as though they hadn’t been counted before? And apparently Agamemnon didn’t know how many feet he had since he did not know how to count. So what sort of general do you think he was?

A strange one, he replied, if this is true.

522E So, should we propose that the ability to calculate and count is a necessary branch of learning for a military man?

It is the most necessary of all, if he is going to have any understanding whatsoever of arranging armies, and more importantly, if he is even to be human.

Now do you notice what I notice about this subject?

What’s that?

523A It is quite likely to be one of the subjects we are seeking which, by nature, leads us towards reason. However, no one uses it correctly as a subject which can draw one comprehensively towards being.

How so, he said?

Well, I shall try to set out my opinion, I said. Look at this with me and agree or disagree so that we may see more clearly if my suspicion is correct. For I am distinguishing for myself between what leads, and what does not lead, in the direction we spoke of.

Give an example, he said.

Take this example, I said, observe, if you can, that in the case of sense perceptions there are some which do not call upon 523B reason to investigate them, as they are adequately judged by the senses. Others, however, completely depend upon reason to investigate them, as the senses produce nothing trustworthy.

You are obviously referring to distant phenomena and shadow drawing, he said.

You haven’t really got my meaning, I said.

Then what do you mean, he said?

Those which do not call upon reason are those which do not extend into the opposite 523C sensation at the same time. However, in the case of those which do extend, I suggest that they call upon reason whenever the sense impression reveals something, no more than its opposite, regardless of whether it impinges upon us from near or far. My meaning will be clearer from this example: we would say that these are three fingers; the smallest, the second and the middle.

Certainly, he said.

Assume that I am describing them as seen from close up. Now there is a question you must consider in relation to them.

What is it?

Well each of them, in the same way, appears to be a finger and in this respect, there is no 523D difference whether it is seen in the middle or at either extreme, whether it is white or black, or whether it is fat or thin or anything of that sort. For in all these cases, the soul of most people is not compelled to put a question to reason as to what precisely a finger is. For at no stage does sight indicate to her that the finger is the opposite of a finger at the same time.

No, it does not, he said.

Therefore, I said, a case such as this would be unlikely to call upon or awaken reason.


523E What about this? Does sight see their largeness or smallness adequately, and does it make no difference to sight whether one of them lies in the middle or on either side? Does the same apply to thickness and thinness, and hardness and softness in the case of touch? And do the other senses reveal things like this without any deficiency? Or does each of them 524A behave in the following manner: the sense which extends to hard must also extend to soft, and it proclaims to the soul that the same thing is being perceived as both hard and soft?

Just so, he replied.

Mustn’t the soul, for its part, be perplexed in such circumstances as to what precisely the hard that the particular sense is indicating, actually is, since it also says that the same thing is soft. And if the sense of light and heavy indicates that heavy is light and light is heavy, mustn’t the soul be perplexed as to what is heavy and what is light?

524B Yes, indeed, he replied. These messages to the soul are strange and require further investigation.

So, I said, it is likely that in these situations the soul first calls upon calculation and reason and tries to investigate whether each of the proclamations is two or one.

Yes, what else could it do?

If it turns out that it is two, wouldn’t each of the two appear to be both different and one?


So if each is one and both are two, soul will recognise the two as separate, 524C for if they were not separate it would not have recognised two but only one.


And we say sight too has seen large and small, not separately, however, but in combination, is this so?


But for the sake of clarity in this, reason, in contrast to sight, is compelled to view large and small, not mixed together but separately.


Hence, the first thing that occurs to us is to ask what precisely “large” and “small” actually are, isn’t this so?

Entirely so.

And on this basis, of course, we said there was a realm known by reason and also a realm known by sight.

You are perfectly right.

524D Well this is what I was trying to explain earlier: that there are some things which call upon thought and others which do not. Now I define those which impinge upon the sense at the same time as their own opposites, as provoking reason, while those which don’t do this don’t awaken it.[58]

Very well I understand now, he said, and I think this is right.

Well then, to which realm do you think number and the one belong?

I can’t decide, he replied.

But you can work it out from what was said before. If the one were seen adequately just by itself, or apprehended by 524E some other sense, it would be like the finger we referred to and would not draw people towards being. However, if the one is always seen along with something which is opposite to it, so that what is presented is no more one than its opposite, discrimination would then be required, and in that situation the soul, activating the intelligence within herself, would have to be perplexed, and search, and ask 525A “what, precisely, is the one itself”? And accordingly, getting knowledge of the one would be among the branches of knowledge that lead the soul and turn her around towards the contemplation of what is.

And indeed, he said, this applies in no less measure, to seeing it, for we see the same thing both as one, and as an unlimited multiplicity at the same time.

Since this is what happens in the case of the one, said I, won’t the same thing happen with all number?

It must.

And indeed calculation and arithmetic are entirely concerned with number.

Very much so.

Yes, and these appear to lead towards truth.

Yes, to an enormous extent.

525B So apparently, these would be among the subjects we are seeking. For a military man must learn them in order to arrange an army in ranks, and a philosopher has to learn them too, because he must lay hold of being, and rise out of becoming, otherwise he will never be able to calculate.

This is the case, he replied.

Now our guardian happens to be both a military man and a philosopher.

Of course.

In that case, Glaucon, it would be appropriate to establish this subject by law, and persuade those who are going to participate 525C in the most important affairs of the city to have recourse to calculation and take it up, not as a personal matter, but until they attain the contemplation of the nature of the numbers by means of reason itself. They should not practise it for the sake of buying and selling like merchants or retailers, but for the sake of war, and the ready turning of the soul herself, away from becoming, towards truth and being.

That is beautifully expressed, he said.

And indeed in the light of what is being said about the subject of calculation, 525D I realise that it is nicely and entirely suited to our purpose, provided it is pursued for the sake of knowledge and not for shop-keeping.

In what way then, he asked?

In the way we already described. It leads the soul powerfully upwards to some place, and compels her to engage in dialectic in relation to the numbers themselves. It won’t accept it at all if someone presents the soul with numbers associated with visible or tangible objects and discusses them. For I presume you know that its skilled exponents are amused if anyone, in discussion, 525E attempts to divide the one itself, and they will not accept this. If you divide it, they will multiply, being careful lest the one ever proves to be not one, but a multiplicity of parts.[59]

What you are saying is very true, he said.

526A Glaucon, if someone were to ask them: “wonderful men, what sort of numbers are you talking about in which the one is as you are proposing; each, in every case, equal to each, not the slightest bit different, and having no parts within itself?”[60] What do you think their reply would be?

I think they would say that they are referring to those numbers which it is possible to grasp only by thought, and which are not capable of being dealt with in any other way at all.[61]

Now my friend, I said, do you see that in truth, this is likely 526B to be the subject we require, since it evidently compels the soul to resort to reason itself for the sake of truth itself.

Yes, indeed, he said, it certainly does that.

Well then have you ever considered the fact that those who take naturally to calculation are said to be bright in all subjects? While those who are dull, if they are educated and exercised in this subject, all improve and become brighter than they were before, even if they derive no other benefit.

That’s the way it is, he replied.

526C And indeed in my view, you would not easily find many subjects which involve greater toil in learning or in practising than this one.

Indeed not.

So for all these reasons, the subject must not be dismissed, and the best natures must be educated in it.

I agree, he said.

Then let’s leave it at that and consider whether the second subject, the one that follows it, is appropriate to our purpose.[62]

What sort of subject? He asked. Do you mean geometry?

The very one, I replied.

Insofar as it is applicable to military affairs, it will obviously be appropriate, 526D he said. Indeed, the man who knows geometry would be superior to one who does not, in setting up camp, capturing territory, drawing the army into close formation, or dispersing it, and in any other arrangements of the army in the battle itself, or on a march.

But of course, said I, even a little geometry and calculation would be sufficient for these purposes, but we need to consider whether most of it, 526E and the more advanced part thereof, is inclined to make the form of the good easier to discern; that is the objective. And according to us, any subject inclines to this provided it compels the soul to turn around to that place where the most blessed part of what is resides, a part that the soul must behold in every way.

Correct, said he.

And in that case, if it compels the soul to behold being, it is an appropriate subject, but if it compels her to behold becoming, it is not appropriate.

Yes, so we say.

527A Well, said I, no one with even the slightest experience of geometry will argue with us over this proposition; that this knowledge, itself, stands in total contrast to what’s said about it, in discussion, by those who practise it.

How so? said he.

Well they somehow speak quite comically, and they are actually compelled to do so. In fact, by using terms like “squaring” and “applying” and “extending” and so on, they speak as though they are engaging in activity, and as if they are constructing arguments for some practical purpose, even though, I presume, the entire subject is pursued for the sake of knowledge.

527B Yes, entirely so, he said.

Can we agree on a further point?

What is it?

They pursue it for the sake of knowledge of what always is, and not of what becomes something, sometime, and is then destroyed.

That’s easy to accept, said he; geometrical knowledge is knowledge of what always is.

So, my noble friend, it would be a subject that draws the soul towards truth, and produces a philosophic mind, directing upwards whatever we now, incorrectly, direct downwards.

Yes, as best it can, said he.

527C So, said I, you must arrange, as best you can, that the people in “Noble-City”[63] don’t refrain from geometry in any way, for even its incidental benefits are significant.

What are they? he asked.

Those you mentioned, said I; those concerned with warfare, and of course we know, I presume, that for any subject to be better assimilated, it generally makes all the difference whether the student has already taken to geometry or not.

All the difference indeed, by Zeus, said he.

So should we propose this as the second subject for our young folk?

We should.

527D Should we propose astronomy as a third subject? Do you think so?

I do indeed, said he. For being better able to discern the seasons, the months, and the years, is appropriate not only for agriculture and navigation, but also for generalship, no less.

You amuse me, said I; you seem to be afraid of what most people may think of you if you prescribe impractical subjects. It is no ordinary matter, in fact it is quite difficult to be convinced that some organ of the soul, an organ that everyone has, is purified and rekindled 527E by these studies, having been corrupted and blinded by our other pursuits, and that it is more important to preserve this organ than it is to preserve ten thousand eyes, for truth is seen only by this. Now those who hold these opinions already will think that what you are saying is really sound, while those with no awareness of this at all, are likely to think you are talking nonsense, for they will see no other benefit worth mentioning from these. So decide 528A here and now which group you are conversing with, if any. Or perhaps you are formulating the arguments mainly for your own sake, although you would not, of course, begrudge anyone else who might derive some benefit from them.

That’s my choice, said he; I am speaking, asking questions and answering them, mostly for my own sake.

Let’s fall back then, said I, since we didn’t pick the subject that comes next, after geometry, correctly just now.

How did we go wrong? He asked.

After flat surfaces, we took solids, already in rotation, before taking solids just by themselves. The correct sequence is to take the third dimension after 528B the second, and this is presumably the dimension associated with cubes and whatever has depth.

Quite so, Socrates, he said, but these don’t seem to have been found yet.

Yes, said I, for two reasons: firstly, no city has proper respect for them, and they are not thoroughly investigated because they are so difficult. Secondly, investigators in this area need a guide, without whom they won’t discover anything, but a guide is hard to find in the first place, and when found, as matters now stand, the arrogant fellows who would be able to investigate this would 528C pay no heed to him. But if an entire city were to co-operate with the guide by treating these matters with respect, these people would heed him, and under close and intensive investigation, the true state of affairs would become evident. Since, even now, although they are disrespected and criticised by most people, and by those who investigate them without being able to explain their usefulness, nevertheless, in the face of all this they develop by force, due to their inherent charm, and it would be no surprise if they were to come to light.

528D Yes indeed, said he, they do possess exceptional charm, but explain what you are saying more clearly. For I presume you designated the study of flat surfaces as geometry.

Yes, said I.

Then, said he, initially you put astronomy after that, but later on you changed your mind.

Yes, said I, in my haste to recount everything quickly I am making slower progress. For, although the study of the dimension of depth is next in sequence, I passed over this because of the comical state of the investigation, and after geometry I spoke of astronomy which is the motion of objects with depth.

Right, said he.

528E Then, provided the city pursues it, let’s propose astronomy as the fourth subject, on the assumption that the third, the one we are now passing over, exists.

Quite likely, said he, and I will now praise astronomy in the way you set about it, and avoid the commonplace manner of praise for which you rebuked me. Indeed it is obvious to everyone, that this study compels 529A the soul to look upwards and leads it away from what is here, to what is there, above.

This is probably obvious to everyone except me, said I, since that’s not how it seems to me.

How does it seem to you? He asked.

Handled as it is nowadays by those who are elevating us towards philosophy, it really makes the soul look downwards.

How do you mean? he asked.

I think you have a very liberal understanding of the subject concerned with the upper realm. Indeed if someone were to throw his head back and contemplate adornments on the ceiling 529B and arrive at some understanding, you would probably think he was contemplating them with his intellect rather than his eyes. Now perhaps your thinking is sound and I am being simpleminded, for I cannot think of anything that makes the soul look to the upper realm except the subject that is concerned with what is, and the unseen. Whether someone attempts to understand sense objects by gaping upwards or squinting downwards, I would never maintain that he has ever understood anything, for things of this sort529Cdo not admit of knowledge, and his soul is not gazing upwards but downwards even if he tries to understand while floating on his back, on land or in the sea.

I am getting my just deserts, said he, and you are right to rebuke me. But in what way are you saying astronomy should be studied, contrary to the way they study it nowadays, if its study is to confer the benefits we are speaking of?

As follows, said I; these adornments that are in the heavens adorn in the visible realm, and although they should be regarded as the most beautiful and perfect 529D of visible objects they do fall far short of the true adornments, the motions with which speed itself and slowness itself are moved with respect to one another, in the true number, and in all the true shapes, carrying whatever they contain; these can be apprehended by reason and by thought but not by sight. Or do you think otherwise?

Not at all, he replied.

Therefore, said I, we should use the heavenly adornments as patterns in order to understand what is unseen, just as if we had come across diagrams, exceptionally well drawn and executed by Daedalus or some other craftsman or draughtsman. 529E For anyone experienced in geometry, on seeing this sort of thing, would surely think that although the workmanship is very beautiful, it would be quite ridiculous to scrutinise them seriously with a view to finding 530A the truth about equals, or doubles, or any other proportion, in these.

Yes, it must be ridiculous, said he.

Don’t you think then, I asked, that the genuine astronomer will come to the same conclusion when he looks upon the motions of the stars? Won’t he be of the opinion that these and whatever they contain have been fashioned in the most beautiful manner possible for objects of this sort, by the craftsman of the heaven? But what about the proportion of night to day, of these to the month, of the month to the year and of the other stars to these, 530B and to one another? Well don’t you think the true astronomer will think it strange, if anyone regards these as unchanging and as undergoing no alteration whatsoever, even though they are physical objects and are visible, and if he seeks in various ways to grasp the truth about these,

Well I think so now, at any rate, said he, now that I hear you saying so.

So said I, we should engage in astronomy by making use of problems, just as we do in geometry, and bid farewell to the heavenly bodies, if we are actually going to 530C engage in astronomy so as to make the intelligence that is naturally present in the soul, useful rather than useless.

You are prescribing a task said he, that is very much larger than what astronomy deals with nowadays.

I think, said I, that our other prescriptions will be of the same sort if we are to be of any use as lawgivers. But anyway, do you have any other appropriate subject to suggest?

I don’t have any, said he, not immediately at any rate.

Well, said I, motion, in my opinion, 530D doesn’t consist of one form only, but of many. Now a wise man could perhaps list them all, but two are evident even to us.

What are they?

Besides this one, astronomy, there is the counterpart of this.

Which is?

It’s quite likely, said I, that just as the eyes have been framed for astronomy, so too were the ears framed for harmonic motion, and that these two branches of knowledge are kindred to one another, as the Pythagoreans maintain, and we are agreeing with them, Glaucon. Is that what we are doing?

Just so, he replied.

530E Therefore, said I, since this is a considerable task, we shall find out from them what they have to say on these matters and whether there is anything else besides these. But throughout the entire process, we shall guard our own concern.

Which is?

That our charges should never attempt to learn anything incomplete, anything that does not consistently reach the point which everything needs to reach; a failing we ascribed earlier to astronomy. Or don’t you know that in the case of harmony too, the practitioners do something similar? 531A Indeed they, for their part, measure the concords and sounds that are heard, against one another; engaging in useless labour, just like the astronomers.

Yes, by the gods, said he, and they call some intervals “dense”, bending their ears towards them, as if they were eavesdropping on their neighbours, some declaring that they still hear a note in between, and that this is the smallest interval we should measure by, while others dispute this and say it’s the same as the note already sounding; both parties granting their ears 531B priority over their intelligence.

You are referring, said I, to the good fellows who inflict trouble upon the strings, and torture them by tightening them upon the pegs. But in case this image gets out of hand, I’ll put a stop to it now before it refers to the strings being beaten with the plectrum, the various accusations against them, and their reluctance or readiness to answer. These are not the people I am referring to, but the others, those we said we would ask about harmony just now. Indeed these fellows do the same thing as those who are involved in astronomy, 531C since they are looking for numbers in the concords that they can hear, and they do not ascend to the level of problems, and investigate which numbers are concordant and which are not, and the reason why this is so.

The task you are describing, said he, is not of this world.

Well, said I, it is useful if it is done in search of the beautiful and the good, otherwise it is useless.

Quite likely, said he.

And I also think, said I, that if the method we have described for all these subjects, gets to 531D their kinship and what they have in common, and works out their mutual affinities, then their pursuit does contribute something to our desired ends, and is not unprofitable, otherwise it is pointless.

And I feel the same way, Socrates said he, but you are describing an enormous undertaking.

Are you speaking of the prelude said I, or what? Or don’t we know that these are all a prelude to the main theme, the one that we must learn? For you surely don’t think that those who are clever in these subjects are skilled in dialectic?

531E By Zeus, I do not, said he, apart from a few exceptions I have come across.

Well then, said I, do you think those who are unable to present an argument and respond to one, will ever know anything of what we say they must know?

In that case too, said he, the answer is no.

532A Glaucon, said I, isn’t this, at last, the main theme, the very one that dialectic performs? And although it is intellectual, it would imitate the power of sight that we described in our earlier image, which, at a certain stage, tries to look at the actual living creatures, then at the stars themselves, and finally at the sun itself. And whenever someone attempts, in this way, by dialectic, without any of the senses, to get to what each thing itself is, through reason, and does not give up until 532B he apprehends, what the good itself is, by intellect itself, he then arrives at the end of the intellectual realm, just as the other man, in our allegory, came to the end of the visible realm.

Entirely so, said he.

Yes, and don’t you refer to this process as dialectical?


And what about the release of the prisoner from his bonds, his turning from the shadows to the images that cast them, and to the light, the ascent from underground into the sunlight, and his inability, when he gets there, to look yet at the actual animals 532C and plants and the light of the sun, and his looking instead at divine appearances in water, or at shadows of things that are, rather than the shadows of images, cast by another such light which, when compared to the sun, is like another shadow? All this practice of the subjects we have described has this power, and leads what’s best in the soul upwards to the sight of what is most excellent among things that are, just as, in our allegory, what’s brightest in the body was led upwards towards the sight 532D of what is most resplendent in the realm of the physical and visible.

I accept, said he, that this is so, and yet, although I find it extremely difficult to accept, in another way it is difficult not to. Nevertheless this needs to be heard, not only today, but in future, often. So we should return to this, but let’s assume, for now, that what has been proposed is indeed so, and then proceed to the main theme itself and go through it in detail, just as we did with the prelude. So tell me, what is the manner of this power of dialectic, what sort of forms 532E is it divided into, and what paths does it follow? For, these would be the ones that lead, at last, to where there is, for whoever gets there, a sort of rest from the journey and an end to the process.

533A Dear Glaucon, said I, you will not be able to follow me any longer, even though there won’t be any lack of eagerness on my part, nor would you still be seeing an image of what we are speaking of, but the truth itself, as it appears to me, anyway. At the moment it is not right to insist that this is actually so, or that it isn’t, but we should insist that there is something of this sort to be seen. Is this so?

Of course.

And shouldn’t we also insist that the power of dialectic, alone, would reveal this to someone with experience in what we have been describing just now, and that this is not possible in any other way?

It’s only right, said he, that we insist upon this too.

Well, said I, no one will argue against us when we say that 533B some other method, apart from the five subjects, attempts to grasp systematically, in each and every case, what each itself is. But all the other skills are concerned with people’s opinions and desires, or with producing things or assembling them, or with looking after them once they have been produced or assembled. As for the rest, geometry and so on, 533C we maintained that these apprehended something of what is, but we see that although they dream about what is, they are unable to see it, wide awake, as long as they make use of hypotheses that are left unchallenged because they are unable to give an account of them. For when the first principle is something that is not known, and the conclusion, and everything in between is woven from what is not known, is there any way that a combination like this could ever constitute knowledge?

None at all, said he.

Doesn’t the dialectical method alone, said I, proceed in this way to the first principle itself, by doing away with hypotheses in order to be sure of its ground? 533D It draws the eye of the soul, which is actually buried in some outlandish mire, and leads her upwards, using the very subjects we have described as helpmates and assistants in the conversion. We have often referred to these subjects as branches of knowledge, out of habit, but they need another name to indicate greater clarity than opinion, and more vagueness than knowledge. I think we used “understanding” to make the distinction earlier but, in my opinion, there is no point in arguing over a name when an enquiry into such important matters lies before us.

533E No indeed, he replied.[64]

So said I, are you content to do what we did before and call the first part knowledge, the second understanding, the third 534A belief, and the fourth imagination; the last two, both together, constitute opinion; the first two, intelligence. Opinion is concerned with becoming, while intelligence is concerned with being, and as being is to becoming so is intelligence to opinion, and as intelligence is to opinion so is knowledge to belief, and understanding to imagination.

But the proportion between what these two are directed towards, and the twofold division of each of these, what’s grasped by opinion and what’s grasped by intelligence, this we should leave aside in case we get involved in many times more arguments than we have already been through.

534B Well, said he, insofar as I am able to follow, I agree with you about the others.

And do you describe someone who acquires an account of the being of each thing, as dialectical? And wouldn’t you say that someone who cannot do so, insofar as he is unable to give an account either to himself or to anyone else, lacks intelligence about the thing to that extent?

How could I say otherwise? he replied.

Doesn’t the same also apply to the good? If someone is not able to separate the form of the good, 534C by argument, setting it apart from everything else, going through all the refutations like a warrior, eager to practice refutation based upon being, rather than opinion, and coming through all this with his argument still standing, you’ll say, won’t you, that someone who can’t do this, does not know the good itself, nor any other good either, and if he does, somehow, get hold of some image of the good he does so by opinion and not by knowledge? He is dreaming and sleeping this life away and before he ever wakes up here, he 534D arrives finally in Hades and sleeps on forever; isn’t this what you would say?

Yes, by Zeus, said he, I’d say all that; very much so.

But of course in the case of your own children whom you are bringing up and educating in the discussion, verbally, if you were actually bringing them up, I presume you wouldn’t allow them to be irrational, like lines in geometry, when ruling the city and presiding over matters of the utmost importance?

Indeed not, said he.

Then will you pass a law whereby they receive an education that enables them, above all, to ask and answer questions in the most knowledgeable manner possible?

534E I shall indeed, said he, with your help.

In that case, said I, do you think we now have dialectic positioned above the other subjects, like a coping stone, that no other subject may rightly be placed higher, and that our 535A discussion of the various subjects is now complete?

I do indeed, said he.

Well, said I, your remaining task is their distribution, and deciding to whom we shall allocate these subjects and in what way.

Of course, said he.

Do you remember the kind of people we chose when we selected our rulers earlier?

How could I forget? said he.

Well, in general, said I, those very natures are the ones that must be selected; the most steadfast and the bravest should be chosen and, as far as possible, the most comely. 535B As well as this, we must look, not only for those who are noble and virile in character, but they should also have the natural qualities suited to this particular education.

What qualities?

They need to be keen, my friend, on the subjects they learn, and have no difficulty in understanding them. Indeed men’s souls are much more inclined to turn coward in the face of demanding studies, than in the gymnasium, since the exertion is more personal to themselves because it is private and not shared with the body.

True, said he.

535C Well we should look for good memory, robustness, and a total love of hard work, or how else do you think anyone would be prepared to undertake the physical labour, and also complete so much study and practice?

No one would, said he, not unless he was extraordinarily gifted by nature.

Our current problem, said I, and the associated disrespect for philosophy, has come about because, as I said before, those who take to philosophy are unworthy of her; what she needs are genuine adherents, not fakes.

In what way, he asked?

535D Firstly, said I, someone who takes to philosophy shouldn’t be handicapped in his love of hard work, so that he loves half the work and doesn’t bother with the other half. This happens when someone loves exercise and loves hunting and loves all physical labour, but is not a lover of learning, doesn’t like to listen, has no spirit of enquiry, and hates any work that involves any of these. And when the situation is reversed, the man’s love of labour is handicapped in the opposite way.

Very true, said he.

And won’t we suggest that a soul is maimed in relation to truth in the same way, if it hates the deliberate lie, finds it unbearable in itself, and gets extremely angry when lied to by others, and yet, calmly accepts the unintentional lie, is untroubled by the lack of understanding when caught out somehow, and has no qualms about being debased in ignorance like some swinish beast?

536A Yes, entirely so, said he.

And when it comes to sound-mindedness, courage, magnanimity and all the other parts of excellence, mustn’t we be on our guard, just as much, to distinguish between the genuine and the fake. For whenever a city or an individual does not know how to look at things like this, comprehensively, they unwittingly rely on fakes, or those whose work is handicapped, as their allies or rulers, as the case may be.

That’s what happens, said he, very much so.

536B Then we should be extremely careful about everything of this sort because, if we introduce sensible people, sound of body, to such extensive study and exercise, and educate them, justice herself will find no fault with us, and we shall save our city and its form of government. But if we introduce people of the wrong sort to these studies, we shall achieve the complete opposite and deluge philosophy with even more ridicule.

That, said he, indeed would be shameful.

It certainly would, said I, but at the moment, I too seem to be inviting ridicule?

How so? said he.

536C I forgot, said I, that we were just playing, and I spoke with too much intensity. For as I was speaking, I turned my gaze towards philosophy, and seeing her being trampled, undeservedly, in the mire, I think I went into a rage, and said what I said, too seriously, as though I was angry with those responsible.

By Zeus, no, said he, that’s not how it sounded to me, as I listened.

Well, said I, that is how it sounded to me as I said it. But we must not forget that in the previous selection process, we picked old men, but in this case that is not allowed. Indeed we should not believe Solon, that a person is able to learn a lot in old 536D age; he can no more learn than run a race! No, all great labours, and there are many, belong to the young.

They must, said he.

Now calculation, geometry, and all the preliminary instruction that should precede education in dialectic, needs to be set before them when they are still children, without presenting it in the form of compulsory instruction that they must learn.

Why not?

Because, said I, a free man should 536E never learn any subject under conditions of slavery. Indeed physical labours performed under compulsion don’t make the body any worse, but no instruction, forcibly imparted, is retained by the soul.

True, said he.

So, my friend, as you bring up the children in these various subjects 537A don’t do it forcibly but playfully, so that you will be better able to discern what each of them is naturally adapted to.

That sounds reasonable, said he.

Don’t you remember, said I, that assuming it was safe to do so, we also maintained that the children should be brought to the battlefield, on horseback, as spectators, and brought close to the fray, to get a taste of blood like young hunting dogs?

I remember, said he.

And in all these exertions, studies, and dangers, said I, whoever should prove, consistently, to be most adept, is to be admitted to a select number.

At what age? He asked.

537B At the time, said I, when their compulsory gymnastics comes to an end, for during that period of about two or three years, it is impossible to undertake anything else, since tiredness and sleep are inimical to study. And at the same time, their prowess in gymnastics is, in itself, one of their most important tests.

Yes, said he, it would have to be.

And when this period is over, said I, those twenty-year-olds who have been selected will have to bring the subjects that were presented unsystematically 537C during their childhood education, into a combined view of the interrelatedness of the subjects with one another, and with the nature of what is.

Yes, said he, only this sort of learning becomes steadfast in those who receive it.

And this is the greatest test for the dialectical nature; someone who can take a combined view is dialectical, while someone who cannot do so, is not.

I concur, said he.

Well, said I, you will need to consider all this. Those among our young folk who are most 537D like these people, and are also reliable in their studies, in war, and in their other appointed duties, these again, once they reach thirty, should be selected from among the previous selection and awarded even greater honour. You should then see, testing them by the power of dialectic, who is able to let go the eyes and the other senses, and proceed, in the company of truth, to what just is. And here, my friend, the task requires the utmost care.

Why exactly? Said he.

537E Aren’t you aware, said I, of how much harm is done by the practice of dialectic nowadays?

What sort of harm? He asked.

Its practitioners, said I, are filled with lawlessness.

Very much so, said he.

Now, said I, do you think it is any surprise that this happens to them, and don’t you sympathise with them?

In what way, exactly? He asked.

Suppose, said I, that a changeling child was brought up amidst great wealth, 538A in a large and extensive family, surrounded by lots of flatterers. What if he became aware, as a grown man, that he was not related to these so-called parents and was unable to find his real parents. Can you guess what his attitude would be towards those flatterers and the substitute parents, either during the time when he did not know about the switch, or later when he did know? Or would you like to hear my guess?

I’d like that, said he.

Well, said I, my guess is that during the time when he did not know the truth, he would honour his father 538B and mother, and his other supposed family members, more than those who flatter him. He would be less inclined to allow them to want for anything, or to do or say anything unlawful to them, and more inclined to be persuaded by them, rather than by the flatterers, on important matters.

Quite likely, said he.

But once he had become aware of the actual situation, my guess is that, in contrast, he would lose his honour and respect for them, intensify his respect for the flatterers, and be persuaded by them to a greater extent than before. He would then live 538C as they do, associate openly with them, and pay no heed to that pretended father and the rest of his pretended relatives, unless he was extremely reasonable, by nature.

Everything you are describing, said he, is the sort of thing that would actually happen, but what relevance does this image have for those who are encountering dialectic?

As follows: there are, I presume, certain doctrines about what’s just and beautiful, that we have from childhood, doctrines we have been brought up on, so that we grant them authority, and honour them like parents.

There are indeed.

538D And there are pursuits, opposed to these doctrines, pursuits that involve pleasure, which flatter this soul of ours and drag her in their direction. However these do not sway people who have some element of measure, who continue to honour the traditional doctrines and grant them authority.

That’s right.

Well now, said I, suppose there comes a time when someone in such a situation is faced with a question and asked, “what is the beautiful?”, and he gives the answer he heard from the conventional source, but the argument refutes this. Suppose it refutes him many times in lots of different ways and reduces him to the opinion 538E that this is no more beautiful than it is ugly, and the same thing happens with the just, the good and whatever is held in the highest esteem. How do you think he will behave, after this, towards those doctrines, in terms of honour and granting them authority?

Inevitably, said he, he will no longer honour them in the same way or be persuaded by them either.

Now, said I, when he regards these doctrines as no longer worthy of the honour he gave them before, and has no affinity with them, but cannot discover the true ones, is he likely to have recourse to any other life 539A besides the flatterer’s life?

He is not, said he.

In that case, I think, he will seem to have become lawless, having previously been law abiding.

He must.

Isn’t this, said I, the likely predicament of those who encounter dialectic in this way, and who, as I said earlier, deserve a lot of sympathy?

Yes, said he, and pity too.

Well, shouldn’t you be careful with every detail of their encounter with dialectic, so that there is no need to pity your thirty year old students?

Very much so, said he.

So there is one thing to be extremely careful about, isn’t there; that they do not get a taste of this when they are still young? 539B For I presume you have noticed that youngsters, when they first get a taste of dialectic, misuse it as if it was their plaything, by using it, always, to come up with counterarguments. They themselves imitate those who engage in refutation, by refuting other people, taking delight, like puppies, in verbally tugging at, and pulling apart anyone who ever comes near them.

Exceedingly so, said he.

And so, when they themselves have refuted many, and have been refuted 539C by many, they descend rapidly and inexorably to a state where they believe nothing they believed before, and as a consequence, they themselves, and philosophy in general, are held in low regard by everyone else.

Very true, he said.

But someone older, said I, wouldn’t want to be involved in such madness. He will imitate the one who is willing to engage in dialectic and consider the truth, rather than the one who plays with it for fun and just argues against people. And he himself will be more measured and 539D will bring honour to this activity rather than dishonour.

That’s right, said he.

Now, wasn’t everything that was said previous to this, said as a caution; that dialectic is to be imparted to the orderly and stable natures, and not, as is done nowadays, to anyone at all, even if they are unsuited.

Yes, certainly, said he.

Is it enough then to persist with the practice of dialectic, continuously and intensively, without any involvement in anything else, as a mental counterpart of the bodily exercises 539E they practised, for twice as many years as that?

Do you mean six years or four? He asked.

It doesn’t matter, said I, let’s suggest five. For after this, they will be brought down again into that cave for you, and compelled to rule over military matters, and take up other positions of authority suited to the young, so that they don’t lag behind the others in experience. And in these situations too they will still be tested 540A to see if they hold firm, or shift their ground, when they are being dragged in all directions.

How much time, he asked, are you proposing for this?

Fifteen years, said I. And when they have turned fifty, those who have come through safely, and have excelled in every way at everything, in action and in knowledge, should be led, at that stage, to the final destination. They should be compelled to lift the ray of the soul upwards to behold that which provides light to everything, and seeing the good itself, and using that as their pattern, bring order to the city, its citizens and themselves, 540B for the rest of their lives. Each in turn should spend most of their time in philosophy, but when their turn comes they should get involved in the drudgery of civic affairs, each exercising authority for the sake of the city, doing so, not as some fine activity but as a necessity. And having continually educated others in this way, others who are like themselves, and having left these behind as guardians of the city, they themselves depart to the Blessed Isles to dwell there. And the city should have memorials to them, and offer sacrifices, publicly, 540C as if to demigods, if the Pythia consents, and if not, as to blessed or divine personages.

You’re like a sculptor, Socrates, said he, fashioning rulers who are absolutely beautiful.

Female rulers too, said I. Do not presume that what I have said applies any more to men than it does to those women among their number who are naturally equipped for the role.

You’re right, said he, if they really are to share everything equally with the men, as we have explained.

540D Well then, said I, do you agree that what we have said about the city and its system of government has not been a mere aspiration, rather, although it is difficult, it is still possible, but only in the way we have described: whenever true philosophers, many or just one, come to power in the city, despise the honours of the age, which they regard as unworthy of free men, and attach most importance to what is right, and to the honours that come from that, and treat justice as supreme, and absolutely necessary, 540E then by serving this and strengthening this, they will set their own city in order.

How, said he.

They will send anyone in the city 541A who happens to be more than ten years old, out into the countryside. They will then isolate the children from their present habits, the habits of their parents, and bring them up in their own manners and regulations, the sort we just described. And once the city and form of government we were speaking of has been established, very quickly and easily in this way, don’t you agree that it will be a happy city, and that the people among whom it arises will benefit enormously?

Very much so, he said, and I think, 541B Socrates, that you have described nicely how it might come into existence, if it were ever to do so.

At this stage, said I, haven’t we had our fill of arguments about this city, and the sort of person who resembles it? For surely it is also obvious what sort of person we shall say he must be.

It is obvious, said he, and as for your question, I think that is the end of the matter.

End Book 7


Book 8

543A So there it is. This has now been agreed, Glaucon: for a city to be governed at its very best, women are to be shared, children are to be shared, and all education too. And in like manner, all activities are to be shared, both in war and in peace, and those among them who turn out best in philosophy and in warfare too, are to be their kings.

This was agreed, said he.

543B And indeed we also accepted that once the rulers are in place, they will take the soldiers in hand and settle them in living arrangements of the sort we have already described, which are common to all, with nothing private to anyone. And as well as such living arrangements we also agreed upon the sort of possessions they will have, as you may recall.

Yes, said he, I recall. We thought that none of them should acquire any of the possessions that everyone else has nowadays. Rather, like warrior athletes and guardians, they must care for themselves and for the rest of the city, 543C accepting their guardians pay for the year from the others, to sustain them in their work.

You’re right, said I, but come on, now that we have concluded this let’s remember where we digressed from, so that we may proceed along the same course once more.

That’s not difficult, said he. You presented your arguments about the city, then, much as you are doing now, as though the exposition was complete. You proposed a city, saying that a city, like the one you had described, was good, and so was the man who resembled it, 543D even though you were, it seems, able to speak of a still more beautiful city 544A and a more beautiful man too. But in any case you were saying that if this city is right, the others are in error, and you maintained, as I recall, that there are four other forms of government besides this one. You said these would be worth describing, to see their particular errors, and the kinds of people who resemble these forms, and having agreed upon who is most excellent and who is worst, we might then decide if the most excellent person is happiest, and the worst is most wretched, or whether the situation is otherwise. And when I was asking you, which four forms of government 544B you meant, Polemarchus and Adeimantus interrupted at that stage, and so it was that you took up the argument again and arrived here.

That’s right, said I, you have remembered this very well.

So then, like a wrestler, offer me the same hold once more, and in response to my same question, try to say what you were about to say at the time.

I shall if I am able to, said I.

And indeed, said he, I am also anxious to learn for myself what four forms of government you were referring to then.

544C That’s not difficult, said I. The forms I am referring to are those that have names. First is the one that most people praise, your Cretan or Spartan form. Second to arise and second too in terms of praise, is the one called oligarchy, a form of government full of evils aplenty; next comes the adversary of this form, democracy. And then there is noble tyranny, set apart from all the others, the fourth and last disease of the city. Or can you think of any other form of government of any type, that constitutes 544D another obvious form? Indeed dynasties, purchased kingships and other forms of government of this sort are presumably something intermediate between these four, and they are to be found no less among the Barbarians than among the Greeks.

Yes, said he, lots of unusual forms are spoken of.

Now, said I, do you know that there must be as many specific human characters as there are forms of government? Or do you think that forms of government come into existence from oak and from rock and not 544E from the manners of the people in the cities which, in a sense, exert their influence and pull everything else in their direction.

Yes, said he, that’s where they come from and not from anywhere else at all.

In that case, if there are five types of cities, there would also be five conditions of individual souls.


Well now, we have already described the person who resembles the aristocracy, whom we rightly declare to be good and just.

545A We have.

Now after this shouldn’t we describe the lesser men; first the ambitious fellow who loves honour and corresponds to the Spartan form of government, then the oligarchic man, the democratic, and finally the tyrannical? This would enable us to look at the most unjust man, alongside the most just man and complete our enquiry as to where exactly pure justice stands relative to pure injustice in relation to the happiness or wretchedness 545B of their possessor. Then we could either be persuaded by Thrasymachus and pursue injustice, or accept the argument that is now emerging, and pursue justice.

Yes, said he, that’s what we should do, entirely so.

Well now, we began this process by considering the manners of the various forms of government, where they are more obvious, prior to considering those of the individuals. So should we proceed in a similar way now, and consider this form of government, the one that loves honour? In our language I have no other name to call it except timocracy or timarchy, and in relation to this we shall consider the man who resembles it, then the oligarchy and the oligarchic man. 545C And after looking at the democracy, we shall behold the democratic man, and arriving at the fourth city, the tyrannical one, and looking at that, and at the tyrannical soul too, we shall try to become competent judges of the issues we have put forward.

Well, said he, if we proceed in this way, our perspective and our judgement would surely be reasonable.

Come on then, said I, let’s try to describe the manner in which timocracy would arise from aristocracy, or is it simply that 545D change in any form of government comes from the part of it that exercises authority, whenever faction arises in that particular part, whereas if that part is of one mind, even if it is very small, it is impossible to disturb.

Yes, indeed so.

So Glaucon, said I, how shall this city of ours be disturbed, and in what way shall our auxiliaries and our rulers develop factions against one another, and against themselves? Or would you prefer that we copy Homer and pray to the Muses to tell us how faction 545E first came about? And we could declare that they are playing with us, like children, speaking lightly, but in a tragic style, pretending to be serious by speaking in a lofty manner.


546A As follows: although it is difficult to disturb a city that has been constituted in this way, nevertheless, since destruction is the lot of anything that has come into being, even something constituted like this will not endure for all time. It too will be dissolved, and its dissolution will be as follows: not alone for the plants in the earth, but also among the animals on the earth, there is productiveness and sterility of their souls and bodies, as they run their circular course and complete their cycles, which are short for those who are short- lived, and longer for the long-lived. But for your 546B race, although the people whom you educated as leaders of the city are wise, they will be unable, by calculation combined with sense experience, to hit upon the best time for bringing children to birth and for not bearing children. This will evade them, and they will, on occasion, bring forth children when they should not.

Now the divine creature has a cycle that the perfect number encompasses, but for a human being the number is the first in which root and square increases, having comprehended three distances and four limits of whatever brings about likeness and unlikeness, waxing 546C and waning, render all things mutually agreeable and expressible towards one another. Of these four, three yoked together with five yields two harmonies when increased threefold. The first is equal, an equal number of times, one hundred times this amount, the other is equal in length on one side but it is oblong. On the one side, of one hundred squares of rational diameters of five diminished by one each, or if of irrational diameters, by two: on the other of one hundred cubes of three.

This entire geometrical number is lord of anything like this; of better and worse births. And whenever our guardians, in 546D ignorance of this, make brides cohabit with bridegrooms inappropriately, their children will be neither well developed nor fortunate. And although their predecessors will install the best of them in power, nevertheless, being unworthy, when their turn comes to rule and exercise the powers of their fathers they will begin, as guardians, firstly, to pay little heed to us Muses by regarding our realm of music as less important, and secondly, they will neglect the realm of gymnastics too, and so your own children will become less musical. From these, 546E rulers will be installed who cannot exercise much guardianship when it comes to testing 547A for the races of Hesiod, and of your people too; the gold, silver, bronze and iron. The indiscriminate mixing of iron with silver, and of bronze with gold, will produce dissimilarity, and an inappropriate inconsistency, which always beget war and enmity wherever they arise. So we should declare that “such is the lineage” of faction whenever and wherever it occurs.

And we shall declare, said he that they have answered correctly.

As they must, said I, since they are Muses.

547B Well then, said he, what shall the Muses say next?

Once faction had arisen, said I, both kinds began to exert their influence: the iron and brass drawing the city towards the acquisition of land and property, gold and silver, while the gold and silver, for their part, since these are not in poverty but are naturally wealthy of soul, led in the direction of excellence and the ancient order. As they struggled, violently, in opposite directions, they eventually agreed to compromise, distribute land and property, and make these private. 547C With this they enslaved those they had previously guarded as free men, friends and supporters, by treating them as serfs and underlings, while they themselves attended to warfare and guarding themselves against their former friends.

I think, said he, that this is the origin of the change.

Wouldn’t this form of government, said I, be something midway between aristocracy and oligarchy?

Very much so.

Well that’s how it will change, but once it has changed how will it be administered? Or is it obvious 547D that in some respects it will imitate the previous form of government, and in other respects, the oligarchy, since it is midway between them, and that it will also have something that is particular to itself?

Quite so, said he.

In the respect given to its rulers, the fact that its military class refrains from working the land, and from skilled labour and money making in general, in its provision of common meals, and the attention it pays to physical exercise and military competition; in everything of this sort won’t it imitate the previous form?


547E Won’t the features that, for the most part, are particular to itself, be its fear of admitting the wise to positions of authority, since it no longer has people of this sort who are straightforward and sincere, rather than complicated? Won’t it also prefer simpler, more spirited types, more fitted by nature for war, rather than peace, 548A who attach value to its tactics and strategies, and won’t it spend all of its time waging war?


And yet, said I, people like this will have a longing for money, just like those in the oligarchies, harbouring a concealed but fierce reverence for gold and silver because they have storehouses and private treasuries in which to keep it all hidden, and enclosures too, houses which are really private nests in which they spend their money, 548B lavishing it extravagantly on women, or on anyone else they please.

Very true, said he.

And they will also be miserly with money since they revere it and may not acquire it openly, yet because of desire, they love spending other people’s money, and enjoying their pleasures in secret, running away from the law like boys from their father, having been educated by force rather than persuasion, because they paid no heed to the true Muse who accompanies argument and philosophy, 548C and had more respect for gymnastic than for music.

You are, said he, most certainly describing a form of government that is a mixture of good and bad.

Yes it is mixed, said I, but what is most distinctive about it is one particular feature; due to the dominance of spiritedness in it, it is ambitious and loves honour.

Intensely so, said he.

Well, said I, this form of government would arise in this way, and this is what it would be like. This is just a verbal sketch providing an outline without the detail, 548D because a sketch will indeed be enough to reveal the most just person, and the most unjust. But to describe all forms of government and all their manners, omitting nothing, would be an inordinately lengthy undertaking.

That’s right, said he.

Now what about the man who corresponds to this form of government? How did he arise and what sort of person is he?

I think, said Adeimantus, that when it comes to ambition at any rate, he is quite like Glaucon here.

548E Well, in that respect, said I, perhaps you are right, but in other respects his nature is different.

In what respects?

He must be more stubborn, and less musical even though he loves music, and despite being a good listener he is not at all 549A eloquent. He would be aggressive towards slaves rather than merely looking down upon them, as an adequately educated person would do. Yet he would be gentle towards free men, and highly respectful towards those in authority. He himself loves authority, and honour, and he is worthy of authority, not because of what he says, or anything of that sort, but because of his achievements on the battlefield and in military affairs generally, being fond of physical exercise and of hunting.

Yes, said he, this is the character of that form of government.

Wouldn’t a person like this, said I, despise 549B money when young, but grow more and more fond of it the older he gets, because he has a share of this money-loving nature and is no longer directed towards excellence, purely and simply, because he has been deprived of its very best guardian?

What is that, asked Adeimantus?

Reason, said I, combined with music, which alone, once engendered, dwells as the lifelong preserver of excellence for whoever possesses it.

Very good, said he.

So that’s what the young timocrat is like, said I, he’s just like this sort of city.

Yes, indeed.

549C Now this person arises somewhat as follows. Sometimes he is the young son of a good father who is living in a city that is not well run. His father shuns the honours, positions of authority, the legal disputes and all business of that sort, and he is willing to accept loss of status to avoid trouble.

And how, he asked, does he become timocratical?

Whenever, said I, in the first place, he hears his mother being annoyed at the fact that her husband is not one of the rulers, and that she is losing status among the other women as a result. 549D She sees that he is not particularly serious about money, and doesn’t fight or engage in slander either in private or in the law-courts or public gatherings, but is indifferent to everything like this. She notices that he is constantly turned in on himself, doesn’t show her much respect, and doesn’t disrespect her either, and she gets annoyed at all this and tells her son that his father is unmanly, and extremely neglectful, and she repeats all the other expressions of this sort that women like to use when speaking of such men.

549E Yes, said he, there are lots of them, that’s what they are like.

And you know, said I, that the servants of such men, the ones that seem well intentioned, sometimes say this sort of thing secretly to the sons. And if they see someone owing money to his father, or someone doing him some other injustice, someone whom the father won’t pursue, they exhort him, to take revenge on all such people 550A when he is a man, and be more of a man than his father. And when he goes out, he hears and sees other instances of a similar sort; those who simply attend to their own affairs in the city are called simple-minded and are held in little regard, while those who don’t confine themselves to their own affairs are honoured and praised. Then the young man, seeing and hearing all this, and also hearing the words of his father, and seeing his father’s actions from close up, alongside those of everyone else, is dragged in both 550B directions; his father watering and developing the rational element in his soul, while the others foster the appetitive and spirited element. Because he is not, by nature, a bad man, but has fallen into bad company of others, he is pulled by both of these, ends up in the middle, hands over the authority within himself to the middle element of ambition and spiritedness, and becomes a high-spirited man who loves honour.

I think, said he, that you have described the origin of this fellow quite accurately.

550C In that case, said I, we have our second form of government and the corresponding man too.

We have, indeed, said he.

After this, should we, as Aeschylus says, speak of “another man set before another city”, or, according to our procedure, speak of the city first?

Yes, certainly, said he.

And the form of government that comes after this one would, I think, be oligarchy.

Well, said he, what kind of constitution do you call oligarchy?

The one that is based on a property qualification, said I, in which the rich rule, and the poor man has no share of authority.

550D I understand, said he.

Shouldn’t we say how the change from timocracy to oligarchy first begins?


And indeed, said I, even to the blind, it is obvious how this changes.


That treasury, said I, filled with gold, and private to each, is what destroys a form of government like this. For in the first place, they invent various extravagances for themselves and pervert the laws in this direction by disobeying them themselves, and their wives do likewise.

Quite likely, said he.

550E Next, I imagine, they start watching each another, and by entering into rivalry, they eventually make almost everyone else behave just like themselves.

That’s likely.

And thereafter, said I, as they proceed further with their moneymaking, the more honour they assign to wealth the less honour they assign to excellence. Or isn’t this how excellence contrasts with wealth, as if they were each being weighed on a balance that is constantly inclining in opposite directions?

Very much so, said he.

551A So, when wealth and the wealthy people are honoured in a city, excellence and the good people are shown less honour.


But whatever is honoured, constantly, is practised, and whatever is dishonoured is neglected.

Just so.

Then, instead of being ambitious men who love honour, they finally become men who love money and moneymaking. They praise the wealthy man, and they are in awe of him and put him in positions of authority, while they dishonour the poor man.


And at that stage, they pass a law that defines the oligarchical form of government. They prescribe 551B a particular sum of money which is more, when it is more of an oligarchy, less when it is less so, and they decree that anyone whose property falls short of the prescribed valuation may have no involvement in ruling the city. They bring this about either through force of arms, or else they will establish a form of government like this through fear. Isn’t this so?

Yes, this is so.

Well then, this is what we might call its establishment.

Yes, said he, but what is the manner of this form of government, and what defects do we say it possesses?

551C Well firstly, consider its own defining characteristic, and what it is like: what if helmsmen for ships were to be appointed, based upon a property qualification, and the poor man was never given the role, even if he was a better helmsman?

Their sea voyage, said he, would be most unsatisfactory.

Doesn’t the same also apply to the control of anything else at all?

Yes, I think so.

Except a city, said I, or does this also apply to a city?

Very much so, said he, more so, since the rule of a city is so difficult and significant.

551D Then oligarchy would possess this one significant defect.


Well then, is the following defect any less significant?

Which one?

The fact that such a city is, necessarily, not one but two; a city of poor folk and a city of wealthy people, living in the same place but always scheming against one another.

By Zeus, said he, that’s not a less significant defect!

And indeed, it’s not good that they are unable to wage a war, because that compels them either to arm the general population, and then be more afraid of them than of the enemy, or not to arm them and thus be true oligarchs, a few rulers alone on the battlefield. What’s more, they are reluctant to contribute to military expenditure because they love money so much.

Not good, indeed.

And what about the aspect we criticised a while ago; the fact that people have lots of different roles? Under such a form of government the same people, simultaneously, engage in agriculture, 522A make money and fight in wars. Do you think this all right?

No, not at all.

Then let’s see if this city is the first to tolerate the greatest of all these evils.

Which is?

Allowing someone to sell everything he has, and allowing someone else to take possession of this. Having sold everything, the man may live on in the city without any role, either as a businessman, a craftsman, a cavalryman, 552B or an infantry-man; they call him poor, a man without means.

It is the first to tolerate this, said he.

This sort of thing certainly won’t be prohibited in oligarchies, or else some people could not be excessively wealthy, while others are in total poverty.

That’s right.

Think about this too: when he was still wealthy, was this fellow of any more benefit to the city in the various roles we have described? Or did he seem to be one of the rulers of the city, while, in truth, being neither ruler nor underling, but a mere spender of anything that was available?

552C That’s it, said he. He seemed to be something else but he was nothing more than a spendthrift.

Would you like us to declare, said I, that, just as a drone is born in a cell of honeycomb, a pestilence to the hive, so too is a man like this born in a private dwelling house, a drone, and a pestilence to the city?

Yes, certainly, Socrates, said he.

Now, Adeimantus, although the god made all of the winged drones without any stings, he made some of the drones that go by foot, stingless, and others with terrible stings. Those who remain beggars to the very end belong to the stingless 522D sort, while all the so-called evildoers are from the drones which have stings.

Very true, said he.

So it is evident, said I, that in any city where you see beggars there are thieves and cutpurses somewhere in the vicinity, hidden away, temple robbers too, and artificers of all sorts of evil deeds.

That is evident, said he.

What about this? Don’t you see beggars in the oligarchical cities?

Yes, said he, almost everyone apart from those in authority, are beggars.

552E Shouldn’t we presume, then, said I, that there are also lots of evildoers in these cities, complete with stings, who the rulers deliberately restrain by force?

We should presume so, said he.

Well then, shall we declare that people like this arise there because of ill-education, bad upbringing, and the evil basis of this form of government?

We shall.

In that case then, the oligarchical city would be something of this sort, and would have as many evils as this, and perhaps even more.

That just about sums it up.

553A Then, said I, we have dealt with this form of government too; the one they call oligarchy, the one that gets its rulers on the basis of a property qualification. Next we should consider the person who resembles this, how he arises, and what he is like once he has arisen.

Yes, certainly, said he.

Doesn’t the change from that timocratic type to the oligarchic type take place, for the most part as follows:


It happens when a son, born to a timocratic man, emulates his father at first and follows in that man’s footsteps. Then he sees him suddenly dashed 553B against the city, like a ship against a reef, his property and himself being lost overboard. Perhaps he was serving as a general or exercising some other important position of authority, and then ended up in court because of damaging allegations by false informers and was put to death, or exiled, or lost his civil rights and had all of his property confiscated.

Quite likely, said he.

And the son, my friend, seeing all this, suffering its consequences, and losing all his property, is presumably afraid and immediately thrusts any love of honour, and that spiritedness too, from the throne 553C in his own soul. Humbled by poverty, he turns to moneymaking and greedily, gradually, by being thrifty and working hard, he gets some money together. Now don’t you think someone like this is, at that stage, would instal the appetitive element with its love of money, on that throne, turn this into the great king within himself, and deck it out with tiaras, necklets and ceremonial swords?

I do, said he.

553D And I presume that he seats the rational and the spirited elements on the ground on either side, beneath that king, as his slaves. He would not allow the rational element to work out or consider anything except how to turn smaller sums of money into larger ones, and he would not allow the spirited element to hold anything in awe, or to have any respect for anything, apart from wealth, and wealthy people, or to take pride in anything at all except the acquisition of wealth and anything that brings this about.

There is, said he, no other transformation, of a young man 553E who loves honour, into one who loves money that is as swift and sure as this.

So is this fellow our oligarchical man, I asked?

Well, at any rate, the transformation of this fellow starts with a man who resembles the timocracy, the form that turns into oligarchy.

Let’s see then if he himself resembles the oligarchy.

554A Let’s see.

Wouldn’t he resemble it, firstly, by assigning the utmost importance to money?

Of course.

And indeed, by being miserly and diligent, satisfying only the most necessary of his desires without making provision for any other expenditure, and allowing no freedom to the other desires because they are unprofitable.

Yes certainly.

He is a squalid fellow, said I, a man who builds up a fortune by making a profit out of everything; the sort of man that most people praise. 554B Wouldn’t this person be the one who resembles a form of government like oligarchy?

Well, I think so, said he. At any rate, money is what this city honours most, and so does a man like this.

Yes, said I, presumably because a man like this has not paid attention to education.

It seems not, said he, or else he would not have installed blind wealth as the leader of his chorus, and honoured this most.

Nicely explained, said I, but consider this; shouldn’t we state that drone-like desires arise in him because of his ill-education; the desires of the beggar 554C in some cases, those of the evildoer in others, but these are restrained by his other concern?

Indeed, said he, very much so.

Now, said I, do you know where you will see the evil deeds of these people, if you look?

Where, he asked?

In their guardianship of orphans, and any other opportunity like this that arises, where they get unrestricted license to act unjustly.


So, isn’t it obvious from this, that in the other business dealings, those in which a man like this is well regarded and seems to be acting justly, he is forcibly restraining other bad internal desires, by some moderation of his own 554D devising? He doesn’t persuade them that it is better not to do this, nor does he tame them by reason, but by compulsion and fear, because he is afraid of losing the rest of his property.

Yes, entirely so, said he.

And, by Zeus, my friend, said I, once they have the opportunity to spend other people’s money, you will find that the drone-like desires are present in most of them.

Yes, said he, with great intensity.

So a man like this would not be free of internal factions, nor would he be one person, but 554E somehow double, although his better desires would, for the most part, prevail over his worse desires.

Quite so.

Because of this, I believe, such a person would be more respectable than many others; but the true excellence of the even-minded and harmonious soul would escape him by some distance.

I think so.

555A And indeed, this miserly fellow, as a private citizen, is a poor competitor when it comes to any civic ambition or love of noble achievements, as he is not prepared to spend money for the sake of good reputation, or on any rivalries of this sort. He is afraid to awaken the desires that make him spend money, and summon them to join the battle and fulfil his ambition. So he fights like a true oligarch with only a few of his own resources, loses most of the time, but remains wealthy.

Very much so, said he.

Now, said I, are we still in any doubt that the miserly money-maker corresponds to the oligarchical 555B city, and resembles it?

Not at all, said he.

Then we should, it seems, consider the democracy next; the manner in which it arises and what it is like once it has arisen. This will allow us to recognise the character of the man who is like this, and judge him alongside the others.

Well we would at least be proceeding much as we did earlier, said he.

Doesn’t the change from oligarchy to democracy come about, somehow, because of this insatiable desire for what is presented as good; this need to become as wealthy as possible?

How so?

555C Since the rulers hold office in that city because they have acquired so much wealth, they are, I think, unwilling to restrict, by law, any young people who are becoming unrestrained, and prevent them from spending and wasting all they possess. This enables them to buy up the property of such young folk, and lend money on security of the property, thus becoming even wealthier and more privileged than before.

They want that, more than anything.

Now isn’t it obvious already that in any city it is impossible to have reverence for wealth, and sufficient sound-mindedness among the citizens, at the same time. It is necessary 555D to neglect one or the other?

Yes, said he; that is fairly obvious.

In fact, when they neglect this in the oligarchies, and encourage unrestrained behaviours, good people are sometimes forced into poverty.

Very much so.

So these people, I imagine, sit there, in the city, complete with stings, in armed array, some of them in debt, some of them deprived of their rights, some in both predicaments. They hate and conspire against those who took their possessions, and against everyone else too, and they are passionate for revolution.

That’s right.

And yet, the money-makers, keeping their heads down and without even seeming to notice these people, insert their silver, wounding anyone else who doesn’t resist them. And they recover their original sum, many times over 556A in interest, and cause the drone and the beggar to multiply in the city.

Yes, said he, multiply they must.

Nor, said I, are they willing to extinguish an evil of this sort as it blazes up in the city, by restricting a person’s right to do what he likes with his own property, nor again, will they undo such arrangements by another law.

What law do you mean?

A law that is second best after that; one that compels the citizens to pay attention to excellence; for if it were decreed that a person enters into 556B most voluntary contracts at his own risk, there would be less shameless money-making in the city, and fewer evils, like those we have been describing, would spring up there.

Much fewer, said he.

But as matters stand, said I, for all sorts of reasons such as those we have given, the rulers of the city put their subjects in this predicament. As for themselves and their own kindred, don’t they make the young folk delicate, averse to hard work, be it physical or mental, too soft 556C to withstand pleasures or pains, and lazy too?


And don’t they turn themselves into money-makers who neglect everything else besides this, attaching no more importance to excellence than the poor people do?

Yes, no more than that.

Then, under such an arrangement, whenever the rulers and their subjects come in contact with one another, either on a journey or in some communal activity such as a festival, or on a military campaign as shipmates or fellow soldiers, and when they see one another facing actual dangers, 556D the poor are no longer held in contempt by the wealthy folk at all. Indeed, very often, the poor man, lean and sunburnt, stationed in battle beside a wealthy man who has been reared in the shade, with far more flesh than he needs, sees this rich fellow out of breath and in total confusion. So don’t you think he will then conclude that such people are wealthy due to some failing on the part of the poor, and when they get together in private, won’t they proclaim 556E to one another that “These men are good for nothing; they’re ours for the taking.”

I know quite well, said he, that, that’s what they’ll do.

Isn’t it like an unhealthy body that needs only the slightest external influence to tip it into disease, and is sometimes in conflict with itself, without any external influence? Won’t a city that is in the same condition as that unhealthy body, become diseased on the slightest pretext, and fight against itself? Perhaps one group might bring in allies from an oligarchic state, or the others might bring them in from a democratic state, and there may sometimes be conflict even without any external influence.

557A Yes, emphatically so.

Then democracy, I imagine, comes into existence when the poor, having won their victory, execute some of their opponents, exile others, and grant an equal involvement in civic affairs and in positions of authority to those who remain, and positions of authority in the city are, for the most part, assigned by lot.

This is indeed how the democracy is established, said he, whether it happens through force of arms, or the others withdraw out of fear.

Well then, said I, in what way do these people live their lives, and what will a form of government of this sort 557B be like? For it is obvious that a man like this will prove to be a democratic man.

That is obvious, said he.

Well, in the first place, aren’t they free, and doesn’t the city become full of freedom, and unrestricted speech, with license for anyone there to do what he likes?

So they say, anyway, said he.

And wherever there is license, it is obvious that each person would make individual arrangements for his own life there; an arrangement that pleases him.

That is obvious.

557C So, under this form of government, especially, I imagine, an enormous variety of people, of all sorts, would arise.


Perhaps, said I, it is the most beautiful form of government of them all. Just like a many coloured robe, embroidered with flowers of all sorts, this city, decked out with characters of all sorts, would prove to be the most beautiful one there is. Indeed it is quite likely, said I, that most people, just like children and women when they see decorated objects, would decide that this form of government is the most beautiful one.

Very much so, said he.

And indeed, my friend, it is somehow quite appropriate to search for a form of government in this one.

557D Why is that?

Because it contains forms of government of every kind, on account of the license that it allows. Indeed anyone who intends to arrange a city, as we have been doing just now, should really go to one that is governed democratically, and select whatever arrangement pleases him, as if he was entering a general market, selling forms of government of all sorts, to make his selection and found his city accordingly.

Well, said he, there would surely be no shortage of examples to choose from.

557E There is no compulsion to exercise authority in this city, even if you are qualified to do so, said I, or indeed to be subject to authority if you don’t feel like it, or to go to war in time of war, or to observe the peace when everyone else does so, if you don’t want peace. What’s more, if some law is preventing you from holding office or being on a jury, you may hold office or serve on the jury anyway, if it suits you to do so. Now isn’t this a 558A divinely pleasant and sweet way of carrying on, for a while?

For a while, perhaps, said he.

And what about the calmness of those who have ended up in court; isn’t that nice? Or have you never seen people who have been sentenced to death or exile under a form of government like this, remaining on in the city nevertheless, and going about in public, or how a convicted person stalks about the place unheeded and unseen by anyone, like a ghost.

This happens a lot, said he.

And note the tolerance of this form of government, and its lack of any attention to detail. It despises 558B anything we were so serious about when we were founding our city, and said that unless someone had an exceptional nature, he would never become a good man unless he were to play in the midst of beauty from his earliest childhood, and engage in pursuits of a similar sort thereafter. See how high-mindedly it tramples upon all this, pays no heed to the sort of pursuits someone engaged in before they got involved in public life, but honours him as long as he declares that he is well disposed towards the people.

How utterly noble, said he.

558C So democracy would, it seems, have these qualities and others akin to these. It is a pleasant form of government, anarchic and variegated, that bestows some equality on equals and un-equals alike.

Yes, said he, that’s all very recognisable.

Then, said I, think carefully about what the corresponding person will be like. Or should we first consider how he arises, just as we did with the system?

Yes, said he.

Well, wouldn’t it happen as follows: the miserly oligarchic man might have 558D a son, I imagine, who has been brought up in the habits of his father.


Then the son to would forcibly control any desires within him that are conducive to spending money rather than making it; the desires that are referred to as unnecessary.

Obviously, said he.

Now, said I, so that we don’t discuss this in an obscure manner, do you first want to distinguish between the desires that are necessary, and those that are not?

I do, said he.

Well, desires which we would be unable to divert, 558E and those whose fulfilment benefits us, may we justifiably refer to these as necessary? In fact it is necessary for us, by our very nature to pursue both of these; isn’t this so?

Very much so.

559A Then we may justifiably use the word “necessary” to refer to these.


What about those which someone may be rid of, through practice from his earliest years, which do not do him any good when they are present, and can indeed do the opposite? If we declare that all these are unnecessary, would we be right to say so?

Right indeed.

Then let’s pick an example of each, so that we may grasp what they are, in rough outline.

We should do that.

Wouldn’t the desire to eat, just to maintain health and wellbeing, the desire 559B just for bread and for relish, be necessary?

I believe so.

The desire for bread is presumably necessary for both reasons; it is beneficial and it can bring our lives to an end if we don’t satisfy it.


Whereas the desire for relish is necessary insofar as it confers some benefit in terms of wellbeing.

Yes, certainly.

What about desire that goes beyond these, desire for different things to eat besides this sort of food, desire that is capable of being eliminated from most people by restraint and education from their earlier years, and is harmful to the body and harmful to the soul’s intelligence and soundness of mind? May this correctly 559C be referred to as not necessary?

Most correctly.

Now shouldn’t we say that these desires are conducive to spending money, and the others to making money because they are useful in relation to work.


And shall we say the same about sexual desires and the others?

The same.

Now the fellow we called a drone just now, this man, according to us, is full of pleasures and desires of this sort, and is ruled by the unnecessary ones, while the miserly oligarchic type is ruled by the necessary ones.

Yes indeed.

559D Well, said I, let’s go back again and say how the democratic type arises from the oligarchic. It seems to me to happen, in general, as follows.


Whenever a young man, brought up in the manner we just described, ill educated and miserly, being a mere drone, gets a taste of honey and keeps company with wild, clever creatures who are able to ply him with a whole variety of pleasures of all sorts and types, this you may safely assume 559E is the source of the change from the oligarchic system within himself to the democratic one.

It must be, said he, very much so.

Well then, just as the city changed when an external alliance came to the aid of one of its parts, like supporting like, so too does the young man change when some form of external desire comes, in turn, to the aid of similar, corresponding, kindred desires within himself.

Entirely so.

And I presume that if some alliance provides assistance, in turn, to the oligarchic element within him, either from his father’s circle, or any other 560A relations who are censuring and criticising him, then faction and counter faction, and internal warfare against himself arises.


And sometimes, I imagine, the democratic element yields to the oligarchic, and some of the desires are destroyed while others are expelled, some shame arises in the soul of the young man, and its good order is restored once again.

Yes, this sometimes happens, said he.

At other times, I believe, other desires, akin to those that have been expelled, arise in their place, because the father lacks knowledge of proper nurture, and these can become numerous 560B and strong.

Yes, said he, that’s what’s inclined to happen.

Don’t they drag him back into the same bad company and, by getting together in secret, give birth to a rabble.


Then finally, I believe, they seize the citadel of the young man’s soul, having noticed that it is devoid of understanding, noble pursuits, and words of truth, which are of course the very best watchmen and guardians in the minds of men whom the gods love.

560C Much the best, said he.

False and arrogant words and opinions then rush up, and seize the self-same citadel of a man like this, usurping the place of the true ones.

With great energy, said he.

So, doesn’t he go back once more to those Lotus Eaters and live openly among them this time? And if any assistance from the relatives arrives to help the miserly aspect of his soul, those arrogant words close the gates in the walls of the kingly element within him, refuse to allow the alliance itself 560D to get through, or to accept the words of private persons who are older and wiser, as ambassadors. They themselves do battle and prevail; shame they rename as silliness, and they thrust it out as an exile, showing it no respect; sound-mindedness they rename as unmanliness and having trampled it in the mud, they cast this out too. They convince him that measure, and orderly expenditure, are crude restraints on freedom, and with the help of lots of useless desires, they drive these beyond the frontier.

They do indeed.

And once they have somehow emptied and purged the soul they have occupied 560E and are initiating with magnificent rites, they proceed at that stage to reinstate insolence, anarchy, wastefulness and shamelessness, in a blaze of light, accompanied by a vast procession, crowning them with garlands, singing their praises and calling them by sweet names. They refer to insolence as good education, anarchy as freedom, wastefulness as magnificence, 56IA and shamelessness as courage. Isn’t this somehow the way, said I, that he changes, as a young man, from being reared on the necessary desires, to the liberation and licence that goes with unnecessary and unprofitable pleasures.

Yes, said he, that’s very clear.

After all this, I imagine, a person like this lives on, spending money, effort and time on the necessary and unnecessary pleasures in equal measure. But if he is fortunate and his frenzy 561B does not go beyond all bounds, and he gets a bit older too, then, once the great inner tumult has passed, he may readmit some parts that he had expelled, and not give himself over entirely to the new arrivals. He proceeds to place the various pleasures on some sort of equal footing, handing authority over himself to any pleasure that comes along, in a sort of lottery, until it is satisfied, then he moves on to another, cherishing them all equally and showing no disrespect to any of them.

Yes, certainly.

And he does not accept true argument, said I, nor admit it into that citadel, when someone says that there are pleasures that belong to noble 561C and good desires, and others that belong to base desires, and that the former should be pursued and respected, while the others are to be restrained and kept in subjection. No, he shakes his head at all such arguments and declares that these pleasures are all much the same, and equally worthy of respect.

Yes, indeed, said he, that is his position, and that’s what he would do.

And that’s how he lives, said I, from day to day, gratifying whatever desire comes along; at one moment he is a drunkard, charmed by sweet music, 561D next he becomes a water-drinker and goes on a diet, then he starts exercising, but he soon gets lazy and completely careless, and after that he seems to be engaged in philosophy. He often turns to politics, jumping up and saying or doing whatever occurs to him, and if he ever develops an admiration for military folk, he takes himself off in that direction, or he might admire business people and go that way instead. There is no order in his life, nor any compulsion to do anything, and yet, he calls this life, pleasant, free and blessed and he holds to this, through and through.

561E You have, said he, given a comprehensive description of a “legal equality man”.

And I think, said I, that he is a man of great variety, full of character traits aplenty, and this fellow, just like that city, is the fair and many-coloured one. Most men and women would admire his life which contains so many models for systems of government and personal traits.

Yes, he said, that’s him.

562A Well now, should we have aligned a person like this with the democracy, as a man who may, correctly, be referred to as democratic?

We should, said he.

Then, said I, all that is left for us to describe, is the most beautiful form of government, and the most beautiful man; tyranny and the tyrant.

Certainly, said he.

Come on then my dear friend, what does the manner of tyranny prove to be? Indeed it is quite obvious that it develops out of a democracy.

It is.

Now, does tyranny arise from democracy in somewhat the same manner as democracy arose from oligarchy?


562B The good that they proposed, said I, which is the very basis of the oligarchy, was wealth; isn’t this so?


Well the insatiable desire for wealth and the disregard of everything else in favour of making money, destroyed the oligarchy.

True, said he.

And whatever democracy defines as good, and the insatiable desire for this, is what breaks the democracy apart, isn’t it?

What does it define as good?

Freedom, said I. For you would surely hear it said, in the democratically governed city, 562C that this is its most precious possession, and that’s why it is the only city worth living in for anyone who is free by nature.

Yes, indeed, said he, that’s what is said, and it’s said often.

Well then, said I, as I was just about to say, the insatiable desire for this sort of thing, to the neglect of everything else, changes this form of government too, and puts it in a position where it needs tyranny?

How so, he asked?

This happens, I believe, whenever a democratically governed city with a thirst for freedom gets leaders who behave like bad 562D wine pourers. The city gets intoxicated by drinking too much unadulterated freedom, and unless the rulers are very obliging and provide the city with a lot of freedom, it punishes them and accuses them of being despicable oligarchs,

Yes, said he, that’s what it does.

And said I, it hurls insults at those who are obedient to their rulers, for being willing slaves and mere nobodies. But in private, and publically too, it praises and honours any rulers who are like the subjects, and any subjects who are like rulers. Now isn’t it inevitable that freedom in a city like this would extend to everything?

562E How could it do otherwise?

And this, said I, must also seep down into private households, until, finally, the anarchy springs up even among the animals.

How are we saying this happens?

We’d say, for example, said I, that a father gets accustomed to behaving like a child and is afraid of his sons. A son behaves like a father, and feels neither shame nor fear 563A before his parents, so that he may, of course, be free. A foreigner residing in the city has equal status with a citizen, and a citizen has equal status with a foreigner, and the same applies to a visitor.

Indeed, said he, that is what happens.

It does, said I, and there are other trivial examples: a teacher, in such a situation, fears and flatters the pupils, while the pupils belittle their teachers and whoever else is put in charge of them. And the young become like their elders in all respects, competing with them in word and deed, while the elders come down to the level of 563B the young folk by being full of banter and wit, imitating the young, for fear of seeming disagreeable or oppressive.

Very much so, said he.

And yet, my friend, said I, freedom in such a city reaches its extreme when slaves, male and female, are just as free as those who buy them. And I almost forgot to mention how much equality and freedom there is among women in relation to men, and among men in relation to women.

563C Shouldn’t we follow Aeschylus, said he, and say, “whatever now comes to our lips”?

Certainly said I, and accordingly, I say, that unless he had experienced it first hand, no one would believe how much freer the domesticated animals are in this city, than in any other. Indeed it is literally the case that, as the proverb says, “the bitches become just like their mistresses”. And indeed, horses and donkeys get used to going about with total freedom and solemnity, bumping into anyone they happen to meet on the road who doesn’t get out of their way, and everything else becomes just as full of freedom.

563D You are describing my own dream, said he; I experience this myself when I am making my way out into the countryside.

And the outcome of all of these factors combined together is the observable softness it produces in the souls of the citizens. Consequently, if anyone tries to introduce any subjugation to any authority at all, they get angry and can’t stand it. Indeed I am sure you recognise, that in the end, they don’t even pay attention to the laws, written or unwritten, so that no one 563E may have any authority whatsoever over them.

Yes, said he, I know quite well.

Well, said I, my friend, this, in my view, is the beautiful and high spirited source from which a tyranny springs up.

High spirited indeed, said he, but what happens after this?

The same disease, said I, that developed in the oligarchy and destroyed it, also develops in the democracy, but it is more pervasive and more virulent on account of the license it is allowed, and it dominates the democracy completely. In fact, anything that is done to excess tends to reciprocate with an enormous corresponding change in the opposite direction, in seasons, in plants 564A and in human bodies, and especially in forms of government.

Quite likely, said he.

Indeed the excessive freedom seems to transform, simply, into excessive slavery, in the individual and in the city.

Yes, quite likely.

Then, said I, it is likely that tyranny arises from no other form of government besides democracy; from the very pinnacle of freedom comes the most extensive and savage slavery.

Yes, said he, that’s reasonable.

But I don’t think that’s what you were asking, said I. I think you asked what kind of disease develops identically in an oligarchy 564B and in a democracy too, and reduces it to slavery.

True, said he.

Well, said I, I was referring to that class of idle, spendthrift men, the most courageous of whom take the lead, while the less vigorous among them follow; the people we compare to drones, some having stings, some not.

And rightly so, said he.

Well, said I, these two cause trouble in any city when they arise there. 564C They are like phlegm and bile in the body which a good physician, and a lawgiver in the case of a city, must be careful about, from afar, just as careful as a wise beekeeper, so that, ideally, they don’t arise in the first place and then, if they do arise, they are cut out as quickly as possible along with the wax that surrounds them.

Yes, by Zeus, said he, entirely so.

Well, said I, to see what we want to see, with greater precision, let’s proceed as follows.

Let’s use the argument to divide the democratically governed city into three, which 564D is how matters actually stand. One part is presumably this drone-like class that develops there, no less than it does in an oligarchy, because there is so much licence.

So it does.

But this class is much fiercer in a democracy than in an oligarchy.

How so?

In the oligarchy it gets no exercise, and doesn’t get strong, because it is not respected, and it is excluded from positions of authority. But in the democracy, with few exceptions, this is presumably the dominant class, and the fiercest part of it is vocal and active, while the rest gather about the speaker’s platform, sit there, buzzing, and won’t stand for any opposition. 564E Consequently, with few exceptions, everything in a democracy is managed by this class.

Very much so, said he.

And another distinct part always emerges from the general population, as follows:

What is it?

Presumably if everyone is involved in making money, those who are, by nature, most orderly, generally become wealthier than everyone else.

Quite likely.

Well that’s where the drones find most honey, and it is easiest to extract from there.

Yes, said he, how could someone extract it from the others, who have so little?

Then, I imagine, wealthy people like this are called “the drones’ feeding-ground”.

Almost, said he.

565A The “People” would be the third class, consisting of easy going types, those who work on their own, and don’t own a lot. They constitute the most numerous and most powerful group in a democracy when they gather in an assembly.

That’s right, said he, but they are not inclined to do this very often unless they get a share of the honey.

Don’t they always get a share, said I, as much of a share as the people in charge are able to spare, as they confiscate property from those who have it, distribute some to the people, but hold on to most of it themselves.

565B Yes, said he, that is indeed how they get a share.

In that case, I imagine, those whose property is being confiscated are compelled to put up a defence by speaking in the assembly, and by taking whatever action they can.


Then an accusation against them is made by the other side, and even though they have no desire for revolution, they are accused of conspiring against the people and acting like oligarchs.


Finally, they see that the people are trying to do them an injustice, not intentionally but out of ignorance, because they have been deceived by various 565C slanderers. And at this stage, they really do become oligarchs, whether they wish to do so or not. They are acting against their will, but the drone is stinging them and that’s what produces this evil too.

Yes, exactly.

Then the two sides launch impeachments, law suits, and court cases, against one another.

Very much so.

And in such a situation aren’t the people always inclined to put forward one person in particular as their own protector, whom they nurture and turn into a great man.

That’s what they are inclined to do.

So this much is obvious, said I; whenever a tyrant 565D springs up, the root from which he springs is a protectorate, and nothing else.

Yes, that’s quite obvious.

So what is the origin of the change from protector to tyrant? Or is it obvious that this happens once the protector begins to do the same thing as the fellow in the story about the sanctuary of Lycean Zeus in Arcadia?

What story, he asked?

The story is that someone who tastes one piece of the innards of a human being, chopped up and mixed with the innards of other sacrificial animals, must necessarily turn into a wolf. Or have you not heard the account?

565E I have.

Now, doesn’t someone who has become a protector of the people, do the same thing? He takes control of a faithful mob and shows no restraint, even to shed the blood of his own people. Making unjust accusations, the mob’s usual favourites, he drags someone into court and commits murder, doing away with a man’s life, tasting the blood of his own kin with defiled lips and tongue. He banishes people, slays 566A them, and hints at the cancellation of debts and the redistribution of land. Now isn’t it inevitable that such a person, after all this, is destined either to be destroyed by his enemies or to become a tyrant, and transform from man to wolf?

Quite inevitable, said he.

Then this fellow, said I, turns out to be someone who is at odds with those who own the wealth.

He does.

Now if he is expelled and then returns in defiance of his enemies, won’t he return as a finished tyrant?


But if they are unable to expel him, or to have him killed by spreading slander 566B in the city, they conspire to have him slain in secret and die a violent death.

Yes, said he, that’s what tends to happen.

Then comes the request of the tyrant, all too familiar, the one that they call come up with at this stage; to ask the people for some bodyguards so that the saviour of the people may be kept safe for them.

Indeed so, said he.

And they grant his request, I believe, because they are afraid on his behalf, although they are confident about their own situation.

Yes, indeed.

566C Now, when the man with money sees and all this, a man, who besides having money, is accused of hating the common people, then my friend, as the oracle given to Croesus says:

He flees along the shore of may pebbled Hermus

He abides not, nor is he ashamed to be a coward.

Indeed, said he, won’t get a second chance to be ashamed.

And I imagine, said I, that he is done to death if he gets caught.


And yet that protector of the people doesn’t, of course, lie fallen, “a great man brought down in his greatness”. 566D No, he overthrows numerous adversaries, and stands in the controlling position of the city, a complete tyrant rather than a mere protector.

It must be so, said he.

Should we, said I, give an account of the happiness of this man, and of the city in which such a creature has arisen?

Yes, certainly, said he, let’s give the account.

Well, said I, initially, in the early days, doesn’t he have a smile for everyone, and a warm greeting for anyone he meets? He denies that he is a tyrant, and makes lots of promises in private and in public, frees people from their debts, and distributes land to the people and to his own circle, and he pretends to be kind and gentle to everyone.

He must, said he.

And yet, I believe, once he is reconciled with some of his enemies in exile, and has destroyed the others, and all is quiet in that regard, he sets about waging some war or other, constantly, so that the people will be in need of a leader.

Quite likely.

567A And so that they will also be impoverished by paying taxes, forced to focus upon their day to day needs, and less inclined to conspire against him.


And if he suspects that some people, with exalted notions of freedom, won’t accept his authority, he can come up with a pretext to destroy these people, by handing them over to the enemy. So, for all these reasons it is imperative that a tyrant stirs up war, continuously.


And because he behaves like this, mustn’t he expect to be increasingly hated by the citizens?

That’s inevitable.

567B And won’t some of those who helped him to power, and are in power themselves, speak frankly to him and to one another, criticising what is going on; those who are brave enough to do so, at any rate.

Quite likely.

So the tyrant needs to do away with these people, secretly, if he is to have authority, until finally, there is no one left, friend or foe, who is of any use to him.


So he must keep a sharp eye out to see who is courageous, who has a great mind, who is intelligent, 567C and who is wealthy. And such is his happiness, that whether he likes it or not, he must be an enemy to all these people, and conspire against them until such time as he cleanses the city.

A fine cleansing that is, said he.

Yes, said I, it’s the exact opposite of what physicians do to our bodies; they remove the worst and leave the best, but the tyrant does the opposite.

Yes, said he, it seems he needs to do this if he is to rule the city.

567D So he is bound, said I, by a blessed necessity which directs him either to live alongside people who are, for the most part, quite ordinary, or else not live at all.

He is, said he.

Now, isn’t it the case that the more he is hated by the citizens for doing all this, the greater his need for more bodyguards who are more trustworthy?

He has no alternative.

So who are these trustworthy people and where will he source them from?

Lots of them will fly in of their own accord, said he, once he comes up with the money.

By the dog, said I, I think you are referring 567E to some more drones, foreign ones this time, of all varieties.

Yes, said I, I think that’s true.

What about local ones? Would he be at all reluctant to take the slaves away from the citizens, set them free, and then make them part of his own circle of bodyguards?

He’ll be very keen to do so, he said, since men like this will be extremely loyal to him.

What a blessed thing this tyranny is, said I, if it relies upon such people as 568A trusted friends, having done away with their predecessors.

But of course he relies on people like this, said he.

And these companions of his admire him, of course, and the new citizens associate with him while the respectable citizens hate him and avoid him.

What else could they do?

It is no wonder, said I, that tragedy is generally thought to be wise, and Euripides to excel in this realm.

Why so?

Because, he uttered the following maxim, born of cogent thought; “tyrants are wise, 568B by associating with the wise”. And he meant of course that these people, with whom the tyrant is associating, are wise people.

And, said he, he praises the tyranny as the equal of the gods and he himself says much else besides, as do the other poets.

And that, said I, is why the tragic poets, being wise, forgive us, and those with form of government similar to ours, for not allowing them into our system because they are advocates of tyranny.

568C I think, said he, that the more civilised among them do forgive us.

And yet, I believe, they go around the other cities and, by gathering crowds, and paying for the services of good voices that are loud and persuasive, they influence those regimes in the direction of tyranny or democracy.

They do indeed.

And besides this, won’t they receive payment and be honoured too, mostly, as seems likely, by tyrannical regimes, and to a lesser extent, by democracies? But the higher they climb along the ascending scale of systems of government, the more their honour 568D starts to flag, as if it were unable to go any further because it was out of breath.

Yes, indeed.

But we have digressed here, said I, let’s go back to that noble, numerous, variegated and ever changing army of the tyrant and say how it is supported.

Obviously, said he, if there are sacred treasures in the city’s temples, he will spend these for as long as the proceeds from their sale is sufficient, 568E and make the people contribute less.

And what happens when this runs out?

Obviously, said he, he himself, his fellow drinkers and his companions, both male and female, will be supported from his father’s[65] estate.

I understand, said I; the people who brought forth this tyrant will support the man himself and his companions too.

They need to, said he, very much so.

What are you saying, I asked? What if the people get angry and say that it is unjust for a grown-up son to be supported by his father; it should be the other way around – the father by the son? That was not why they created him 569A and put him in place; so that, when he had grown up, the people would then be enslaved by their own slaves, and end up supporting him, along with the slaves and a rabble of others too. They wanted to be liberated from the wealthy classes, and the so-called “noble and good” people, in their own city, with him as their protector. What if they now order him to get out of the city, himself and his companions, like a father driving an errant son out of the house, along with a rabble of revellers?

569B By Zeus, said he, the people would realise, at that stage, what sort of beast they had brought forth, embraced, and encouraged to greatness; they are now the weaker party driving out someone stronger.

What do you mean, said I? Would the tyrant dare to do violence to his father, and aim a blow at him if he was disobedient?

Yes, said he, after he had disarmed him.

You are saying, said I, that the tyrant is a parricide, and a harsh nurturer of the aged, and it seems that this would indeed be undisguised tyranny, and, as the saying goes, in fleeing from the smoke of slavery 569C to free men, the people would have fallen into the fire of total subjugation to slaves. Instead of that vast and immoderate freedom, they have donned a new robe; the harshest and most bitter slavery; slavery to slaves.

Yes, that’s what happens, said he, very much so.

Well then, said I, would it be appropriate for us to claim that we have given a sufficiently detailed account of how tyranny follows after democracy, and what it is like then?

Sufficiently detailed indeed, said he.

End Book 8


Book 9

571A Then, said I, what remains to be considered is the tyrannical man himself, how he develops from the democratic man and what he is like then, and whether his manner of life is wretched or blessed.

Yes, said he, this fellow remains to be considered.

I feel that something is still missing, said I. Do you know what it is?


I don’t think we have adequately distinguished the kind, and number, of the various desires. Indeed if we don’t remedy this deficiency, the search we are engaged in will lack clarity.

571B Wouldn’t this still be a good time to do so, said I?

Yes, certainly. And consider what I wish to see in these desires; it is as follows: among the unnecessary pleasures and desires some, I believe, are lawless. Although these are probably innate in everyone, they can, nevertheless, when restrained by the laws, and by the better desires accompanied by reason, be eliminated completely in some cases, or a few weak ones may be left, but in other cases those that remain may be stronger 571C and more numerous.

Can you say, said he, what these desires are?

Those, said I, that are aroused whenever the rational, gentle part of the soul, the part that rules the other part, is in slumber, and the brutish and wild part, gorged on food or wine, springs to life, refusing to sleep, and sets out to indulge its bad habits. You know that in a situation like this, it dares to do anything at all, as if it had been released from, and was rid of all shame 571D and understanding. Indeed it does not shrink, or so it imagines, from intercourse with mother or with anything else at all, man or god or beast. It murders any one at all, and eats any meat at all, without restraint and, in short, there is no mindless or shameless deed that it leaves undone.

Very true, said he.

And yet, I think, when someone keeps himself healthy and in sound mind, and goes to sleep having aroused the rational part of himself, and feasted it on beautiful words and considerations, he attains concord 571E with himself. He ensures that his appetitive part is neither in want nor fully satisfied, so that it may be lulled to sleep, and not be a source of trouble to the best part 572A of him by being pleased or in pain, but will allow that part, just by itself, to reflect, on its own, and aspire to perceive what it does not know, of the past, the present or the future.

He calms the spirited part too, in the same way, and he will not go to sleep with a troubled heart after being angry with someone. Rather having quietened the other two parts and activated the third, the one in which understanding resides, he then takes his rest. You know that under such circumstances he is most likely to apprehend the truth, and the visions that appear in his dreams are then least likely to be lawless.

572B That’s it, said he, entirely so.

Well, all of this has led us to say more than we needed to, but what we want to recognise is this; that there is, in fact, some fearsome, savage and lawless form of desires present in each of us, even in some people who seem to be extremely moderate, and this becomes evident when we are asleep. So, think about this; am I making any sense and do you agree?

Yes, I agree.

Well, remember the man of the people, and what we said he was like. He presumably became 572C like this by being brought up from his earliest years by a miserly father who only had respect for those desires that make money, and had no respect for the unnecessary ones that exist for the sake of amusement and ostentation. Is this so?


But once he associates with cleverer people who are full of the desires we have just described, he rushes in the direction of total excess, adopts the behaviour of those new found friends, and hates the miserliness of his father. But because he is, by nature, better than his corruptors, 572D he is drawn in both directions and finally takes up a middle position, in between the two tendencies. Managing, so he believes anyway, to enjoy each of them in due measure, he lives a life that is neither devoid of freedom nor utterly lawless; he has been transformed from an oligarchical man, into a man of the people.

Yes, said he, this was, and remains our view of such a person.

Then assume once again, said I; that a man like this has already grown older, and has a young son who has, in turn, been brought up in the habits of his father.

I am assuming this.

Assume too, that the same things that happened to his father also happen to the son. He is drawn to utter lawlessness, 572E which is called total freedom by those who are leading him; his father and other relatives assist those middle desires, while his corruptors, in turn, help the other desires. And when these clever beguilers and tyrant-makers lose hope of controlling the young man by any other means, they contrive to engender a passion in him, as a protector of the idle desires that are keen to spend 573A so freely. And the passion in such people is a huge winged drone, or do you think it is something else?

No, I don’t think it is anything else, said he.

Now, when the other desires are buzzing about the drone, full of incense, perfume, garlands and wine, and all the pleasures that are usually let loose at such gatherings, they feed the drone and make it grow, and engender in it the sting of desire. Then this protector of the soul, with madness as its bodyguard, goes into a frenzy, 573B and if it detects any opinions or desires within itself that are accounted worthy, or still have any shame, it kills them off and pushes them out of itself[66], until it has been cleansed of sound-mindedness and is full of madness brought in from outside.

That, said he, is a comprehensive description of the origin of the tyrannical man.

Isn’t this why Eros has traditionally been called a tyrant, said I?

Quite likely, said he.

And, my friend, said I, doesn’t a man who is drunk have a certain tyrannical 573C frame of mind?

He has.

And indeed, someone who is mad or deranged, endeavours to exercise authority, not only over men but over gods too, and he imagines that he can do so.

Very much so, said he.

And this, dear fellow, is exactly how a man becomes tyrannical; it happens when, by nature, or by his behaviour, or both, he has become drunken, passionate and maniacal.

Entirely so.

That, it seems, is how the man originates and that’s what he is like. How then does he live?

573D You tell me! said he, as people say when they are having fun.

I shall, said I. Indeed, I believe, that after this, they indulge in feasting, carousing, revelry and womanising, and all sorts of things associated with people whose entire soul is governed by an indwelling tyrant passion.

Inevitably, said he.

Now don’t lots of fearsome desires spring up alongside this one, every day and every night, making lots of demands?

Lots of them, indeed.

So any sources of income are quickly spent.

Of course.

573E And after this comes borrowing and the erosion of his estate.


And when all this fails him, mustn’t there be an outcry from that crowd of intense desires that have made their nest there? Mustn’t the men themselves, be goaded on, so to speak, by the stings of the other desires, and especially by the master-passion itself which leads all the others as if they were its bodyguard? Won’t they look about in a frenzy and ask; who has something that can be taken away, by deception or by force?

574A Very much so, said he.

So he needs to plunder from every quarter, or else be gripped by enormous travails and pains.

He must.

Now just as the more recent pleasures in him got more than the old ones, and took away all they possessed, so too would the man himself, in spite of his youth, feel that he deserves to have more than his father and mother and, to take away and appropriate the family’s wealth, once he had spent his own portion.

Yes, indeed, said he.

574B And if they would not turn it over to him would he, initially, attempt to steal from his parents and deceive them?


And if he was unable to do this, would he then seize what he could by force?

I think so, said he.

And then, my friend, if that elderly man or woman resisted him, and put up a fight, would he be careful and spare them from any tyrannical behaviour?

No, said he, I am not at all confident about the fate of the parents of a man like this.

But, by Zeus, Adeimantus, do you think he would rain down blows upon his aged friend, the friend he needs, his own mother, 574C all because of a new found girl friend, a companion he doesn’t need? Would he strike his elderly father, a man in decline, a much needed and most ancient friend, all because of a new found boy friend in his prime, whom he doesn’t really need? And would he let his parents be slaves of these new friends, if he brought them all into the same household?

Yes, he would, by Zeus, said he.

How very blessed it seems to be, said I, to bring forth a tyrannical son.

Entirely so, said he.

574D But what happens to such a person when the resources of his father and mother fail him, while the swarm of pleasures within him is already growing in size? Won’t he, initially, turn his hand to house-breaking or steal the robe of someone who is out late at night, and then go on to plunder a temple? And in all these exploits, the opinions he held, of old, since childhood, about what’s noble and what’s shameful, opinions that are accounted just, will be subject to those opinions, newly released from slavery, that constitute the bodyguard of the ruling passion, and rule alongside it. These were released previously, only in dreams during sleep, 574E when he was still subject to the laws, and to his father, because he was under democratic rule, within. But now that he is under the tyranny of passion, the sort of person he occasionally became whilst dreaming, is the sort of person he has now become, constantly, whilst awake. He will not refrain from any vile murder; there is nothing he will not eat, no action he will not perform. Passion lives within him as a tyrant, 575A in total anarchy and lawlessness, since it is, itself, the sole ruler, and like a tyrant in a city, it will lead anyone in whom it resides, to utter recklessness. From this, it feeds itself and the rabble that surrounds it, part of which has come in from outside from bad company, part of which has come from within because the very same tendencies, his own tendencies in this case, have set it up and set it free. Isn’t this the life that a man like this leads?

That’s it indeed, said he.

575B And if, said I, people of this sort are few in number, while the rest of the population of the city is sound-minded, they leave, and act as bodyguards for some other tyrant, or serve as paid mercenaries, in time of war. But if they develop in time of peace, when things are quiet, they stay in the city and do a lot of bad deeds, on a small scale.

What sort of deeds?

Theft, for instance, house breaking, picking pockets, stealing people’s clothes, robbing from temples, and kidnapping. Sometimes, if they are accomplished speakers, they become informers, give false evidence and take bribes.

Yes, said I, small scale bad deeds indeed, provided such people are few in number.

575C Yes, said I, what’s small is small, relative to what’s large, and none of these evils “come nigh at all”, as they say, to a tyrant in terms of the corruption and degeneracy of a city. For when such people grow in numbers in the city, along with the others who follow their lead, and they realise how numerous they are, these are the ones who, with assistance from the unthinking general populace, bring forth that tyrant; the particular person who has the greatest and most extensive tyrant within his own soul.

575D Yes, quite likely, said he, since he would be the most tyrannical of them all.

That’s what happens if the people yield willingly, but if the city won’t submit to him, then he acts as a he did towards his own father and mother. He will punish his fatherland in the same way that he punished them, if he can, by bringing in his new found companions, and he will hold and maintain his beloved ancient fatherland, or motherland as the Cretans say, in slavery to them. And 575E this would be the culmination of such a man’s desire.

It would, said he, entirely so.

Well then, said I, how do these people behave, as private citizens, even before they have authority? In the first place, won’t they spend their time with people who flatter them when they are together, or who are prepared to do anything to serve them? Or if they want something from someone else, won’t they debase themselves, and try any device, as if they were friends, 576A but turn into strangers once their mission is accomplished?

Yes, very much so.

And so they live their entire lives without ever being friends to anyone; always either someone’s master or someone else’s slave. But the tyrannical nature never gets a taste of true freedom or true friendship.

Entirely so.

Well then, would we be right to refer to such people as unfaithful?

Of course.

And unjust too, to the greatest extent possible, if we were indeed correct in agreeing what we agreed previously 576B about the sort of thing justice is.

Well we were right about that at any rate, said he.

To sum up then, said I, let’s say that the most evil person would presumably, even when awake, be like the sort of person we described in dreams.

Yes, certainly.

And he comes into existence when someone who is, by nature, utterly tyrannical, has sole authority, and the longer he lives the life of a tyrant the more like this he becomes.

He must, said Glaucon, taking up the argument.

So is it the case, said I, that whoever proves to be most evil will also prove to be most wretched? 576C And that whoever is most a tyrant for the most time has, in truth, been most miserable, for the most time? But popular opinion on this is quite varied.

Well, the situation must be as you describe it, said he.

And doesn’t the tyrannical man correspond to the tyrannically governed city, in likeness, and the democratic man to the democratically governed city, and similarly for the others?

Of course.

Now, as city corresponds to city in excellence and blessedness, 576D does one man correspond to another man in this respect too?

Of course.

Now, in terms of excellence, how does the city governed by a tyrant correspond to the first one we described, the one governed by a king?

It is the complete opposite, said he, indeed one is the most excellent of all and the other is the worst.

I shan’t ask, said I, which you are referring to, since it is quite obvious. But would your decision be the same in relation to blessedness and wretchedness or would it be different? And let’s not be dazzled by looking at the tyrant, in person, or a few people in his inner circle; we need to look at the whole city by going into it, 576E delving into every corner and seeing what is there; then and only then may we express our opinion.

You are right to challenge me, said he. Indeed it is obvious to everyone that no city is more wretched than one that is governed by a tyrant, and none is more blessed than one that is governed by a king.

Well, said I, what if I were to issue the very same challenges 577A in relation to the individual men? Would I be right to suggest that the only person who has the right to decide these issues is someone who is able to use his mind to go deep into the character of a man, and see clearly, without being dazzled by the pretence of the tyrannical types, like a child who looks only from the outside; someone who is well able to see through the pretence that tyrants put on for the world at large. Now what if I were to presume that we should all listen to that person, the one who is able to make this decision, and who has lived alongside a tyrant and has witnessed his dealings with his household, and how he behaves towards the various members of his family, where he is best 577B seen, stripped of theatrical trappings, and who has also seen him amidst the perils of public life? Since this person has seen so much, should we call upon him to report where the tyrant stands, relative to the others, in terms of blessedness and wretchedness?

You would, said he, be absolutely right to suggest this.

Would you like us, said I, to pretend to be people who are able to make this decision, and who have already met up with tyrants, so that we may have someone to answer the questions we asked?


Come on then, said I, and consider this, as follows: remembering 577C the similarity of the city and the individual, consider them carefully, each in turn, and describe the characteristics of each.

What sort of characteristics, he asked?

Firstly, said I, to speak of the city, will you say that the one governed by a tyrant is free or enslaved?

Enslaved, said he, to the greatest extent possible.

And yet, you see masters and free men there.

Yes, said he, I see this, and it is a small detail but the whole population there, so to speak, and the very best part, is dishonourably and miserably enslaved.

577D Now if, said I, the individual is like the city, mustn’t the same state of affairs prevail within him, and mustn’t his soul be full of slavishness and deprivation of freedom, its very best parts being enslaved, while a small part, the worst and the maddest, is their master.

It must be so, said he.

In that case, will you maintain that a soul of this sort is enslaved or free?

Enslaved, I presume.

Furthermore, doesn’t the enslaved, tyrannically governed city, do what it wishes to do, to the least possible extent?

Yes, the very least.

So the tyrannically governed soul too will do what it wishes to do to 577E the least possible extent, speaking of the soul as a whole, and being continually impelled by the gadfly of desire it will be full of confusion and regret.


And must the tyrannically governed city be wealthy or poor?


578A So the tyrannical soul too must always be in need, and dissatisfied.

It must, said he.

And mustn’t a city like this and a person like this be full of fear?

That’s quite inevitable.

And do you think you will find more wailing, groaning, lamentation and suffering in any other city than you find in this one?

Not at all.

And do you think this sort of thing is more prevalent in any other individual than it is in this tyrant, mad with desires and passions?


578B Now I imagine you decided that this city, at any rate, is the most wretched of cities, in view of all these considerations and others like them.

Wasn’t I right to do so, he asked?

Very much so, said I. But what do you say, in turn, about the tyrannical individual in the light of these same considerations?

That he is, said he, the most wretched by far; more so than any of the others.

That, said I, is not quite correct.

How so, he asked?

This fellow, said I, is not yet the most wretched.

Then who is?

Someone who will surely seem to you to be more wretched than this fellow.


578C Someone, said I, with a tyrannical nature, who does not live out his life as a private citizen but, by an unfortunate accident, gets the opportunity to become an actual tyrant.

I reckon, said he, from what has already been said, that this is true.

Yes, said I, but we should not merely think about matters of this sort, we should consider them very carefully, using an argument like this, since our inquiry is concerned with the most important issue of all; living a good life or a bad one.

Quite right, said he.

578D Now does what I am saying make any sense? For I think this needs to be considered with the following examples in mind.

What examples?

The example of any of the private citizens in the city who are wealthy and own lots of slaves. For they have this in common with tyrants, they rule over many people; although the tyrant rules over a greater number.

Greater indeed.

And you know, don’t you that these people don’t live in fear, and they are not terrified of their own household slaves?

Yes, what would they be afraid of?

Nothing, said I, but do you recognise the reason why?

Yes, because the entire city is there to assist every single private citizen.

578E That’s right, said I. But what if some god were to take one man, who owned fifty slaves or even more, lift him out of the city, himself, his wife and his children and set him down in an isolated place, along with his other property, and his household slaves, where none of his fellow free men would be in a position to come to his aid? Can you imagine his fear, and how afraid he would be that himself, his children and his wife might be done away with by his own slaves?

I think he’d be in total fear, said he.

579A Wouldn’t he be compelled, at that stage, to ingratiate himself with some of those slaves, make lots of promises, and even set them free when there was no need to? And he himself would turn out to be the flatterer of his own servants.

He’d have to do that, said he, just to survive.

And what if the god, said I, were to settle other people around him; lots of neighbours who won’t put up with it if someone claims the right to enslave anyone else, and who inflict the most severe punishments on someone who acts like this, if they catch him.

I think, said I, that he would be in even more difficulty, in every respect, being watched from all sides by nothing but enemies.

579B So the tyrant is bound fast in a prison house like this, since his nature is as we have described it, filled with a huge variety of fears and passions. Although his soul is full of craving, he is the one person in the city who finds it impossible to travel abroad or to see anything that other free men love to see. Skulking inside his own house most of the time, he lives like a woman, 579C envying the other citizens, if any of them ever travel abroad or see anything good.

Yes, entirely so, said he.

So the man who is ill-governed within, the tyrannical man whom you deemed most wretched, reaps an even greater harvest of such evils once he forsakes his private life, and is compelled by some chance event, to become a tyrant, and attempts to rule others when he can’t even control himself. It’s as if someone with a sick body 579D that can’t control itself was compelled to live his life, not in quiet privacy, but in constant competition and physical combat.

Very true, Socrates, said he, it’s exactly like that.

Now, dear Glaucon, said I, isn’t this an entirely wretched predicament, and doesn’t the actual tyrant live an even harsher life than the person whose life, you decided, was harshest?

Definitely, said he.

So the truth of the matter, even if someone thinks otherwise, is that the actual tyrant is actually a slave to fawning and servitude on a huge scale, and a flatterer 579E of the most vile people of all. Since none of his desires are satisfied, he turns out to be most needy in most respects, and in truth, poor, once someone knows how to look at a soul, as a whole. He is full of fear too, throughout his entire life, beset with convulsions and pains, if he does indeed resemble the disposition of the city he rules over. And he does resemble this, doesn’t he?

Very much so, said he.

580A And in addition to all this, shouldn’t we also ascribe what we spoke of earlier, to this man? Mustn’t he be envious, unfaithful, unjust, friendless and impious; a host and nurturer of every evil. And mustn’t he become even more like this than he previously was, because he is a ruler, and, for all these reasons, be most unhappy in himself and make people around him unhappy too?

No one, said he, with any intelligence, will argue against you.

580B Come on now, said I, act like the overall judge in a competition, and announce who, in your opinion, comes first in terms of blessedness, who comes second, and so on for the other five, in turn; the kingly person, the timocratic, the oligarchic, the democratic or the tyrannical; decide.

The decision is an easy one, said he. I judge them as if I were judging theatrical choruses, and I rank them in terms of evil and blessedness, and the opposite, in the very order in which they made their entrance.

Shall we hire a herald then, I asked, or shall I myself proclaim that the son of Ariston 580C has decided that the best and most just person is also the most blessed, and this is the most kingly person, who exercises kingly rule over himself, and that the worst and most unjust person is also the most wretched, and he, for his part, turns out to be the most tyrannical person, who tyrannises to the greatest possible extent over himself and over the city too?

Consider it done, said he.

And should I declare, in addition, that this is the case whether their dispositions are noticed by men and gods, or not?

Add that declaration, said he.

So be it, said I, and this would be one of our proofs; take a look at a second one, do you think this amounts to anything?

580D What’s the demonstration?

Since the city, said I, is divided into three kinds, and the soul of each individual is threefold in like manner, this, I believe, will afford another proof.

In what way?

As follows: it seems to me that there are three kinds of pleasures corresponding to the three parts of the soul, one pleasure being particular to each particular part, and that the same goes for desires, and for ways of ruling the soul.

What do you mean, he asked?

There is, according to us, one part with which a person learns, and another with which he become spirited. We were unable to provide a particular name for the third, so we named it after its largest and strongest aspect, and called it the appetitive part due to the intensity of its appetite for food, drink and sex and everything associated with these. We called it money-loving too as such appetites are satisfied 581A mainly through money.

And we were right to do so, said he.

Well then, if we were to say that the pleasure and love belonging to this part, was for profit, would that best summarise the argument, so that we could be confident that we are referring to this part of the soul correctly when we refer to it as money-loving or profit-loving?

So it seems to me anyway, said he.

What about this? Don’t we maintain that the spirited part is wholly intent upon power, victory 581B and fame.

Very much so.

Now if we were to refer to it as ambitious and in love with honour, would that seem right?

Right indeed.

But of course it is obvious to everyone that the part by which we learn is always intent upon knowing the truth, as it is, and of the three parts, this one is least interested in money and reputation.

The least by far.

Would it be appropriate then for us to refer to it as having a love of learning and of wisdom?

Yes, of course.

581C Isn’t it the case, said I, that this part rules the soul of some people, while one of the other two rules the souls of others, as the case may be.

Quite so, said he.

For these reasons then, we say that the principal kinds of human being are also three in number; the kind that loves wisdom, the kind that loves winning and the kind that loves profit.


And there are three forms of pleasure, one underlying each of these.

Entirely so.

Now you do realise, don’t you, said I, that if you decided to ask three people of this sort, each in turn, which of these lives is most pleasant, each would praise his own way of life the most? The money maker 581D will maintain that unless he makes some money from them, the pleasures of attaining honour or learning are worthless, in comparison with the pleasure of making profit.

True, said he.

What about the kind that loves honour? said I. Won’t he regard the pleasure that comes from money as vulgar, and the pleasure that comes from learning, for its part, as insubstantial nonsense, unless the learning confers some honour.

That is his position, said he.

And how do we think the lover of wisdom will regard the other pleasures, in comparison with knowing the truth, as it is, and being continually involved in something like 581E this while he is learning? Won’t the other pleasures be far removed from this pleasure, and won’t he refer to them as necessary, in a literal sense, because he would have no need for any of them unless necessity was involved.

This needs to be well understood, said he.

Now, said I, when there is dispute over the pleasures of each kind of person, and over the life itself, not only over which life is more noble or more shameful, which is worse and which is better, but over which life is actually more pleasant and least painful, 582A how are we to know which of them is really speaking the truth?

I just can’t say, he replied.

Well consider this; what should things be judged by if they are going to be properly judged? Isn’t it by experience, intelligence and argument, or could anyone have a better criterion than these?

How could they? said he.

Then consider this; of the three men, who among them has most experience of all the pleasures we mentioned? Does the lover of profit, by understanding truth itself, and what it is like, seem to you to have more experience of the pleasure of knowledge, than the philosopher has of the pleasure that comes from 582B making a profit?

There’s a big difference, said he. Indeed the philosopher, of necessity, tastes the other pleasures from his earliest childhood. But there is no necessity that the lover of profit tastes the pleasure of learning the nature of things that are, and how sweet that pleasure is, or that he have any experience of this, and even if he is eager to do so, it is not easy.

There is a big difference then, said I, between the lover of wisdom and the lover of profit in their experience of both pleasures.

582C Big, indeed.

And how does he compare to the lover of honour? Does the philosopher have less experience of the pleasure of attaining honour than the profit lover has of the pleasure of the intellect?

No, said he, honour accrues to them all, once they achieve whatever they are each intent upon. Indeed the wealthy are honoured by lots of people and so too are the courageous and the wise. So they all have experience of the kind of pleasure that comes from attaining honour. But it is impossible for anyone except the lover of wisdom to have tasted the kind of pleasure that comes from beholding what is.

582D So, in terms of experience, said I, he is a better judge than any of the others.

Much better.

And indeed, he alone will have gained his experience in the company of intelligence.


Then again, the instrument that is needed in order to judge, is not the instrument of the profit lover, or of the lover of honour, but of the lover of wisdom.

What is it?

I think we said that it is necessary to judge by means of arguments. Is this so?


And arguments are the instrument of the philosopher, most of all.

They must be.

Now if whatever is to be judged 582E was best judged by wealth and profit, then the things that the profit lover praised and censured would necessarily be the truest of all, wouldn’t they?

Much the truest.

And if they were judged by victory and courage, wouldn’t whatever is praised by the ambitious lover of honour be truest?


But since they should be judged by experience, intelligence and argument, what follows?

It must be the case, said he, that whatever the lover of wisdom and argument praises is the truest.

583A So of the three pleasures, would the one that belongs to the part of the soul we learn with, be most pleasant, and would the life of the person in whom this part rules, be the most pleasant life of the three?

How could it be otherwise, said he? The man of intelligence is the one who has complete authority to praise his own life.

And what life comes second, said I, and what pleasure comes second, according to the judge?

It is obviously the pleasure of the military type, who loves honour, since this is closer to the philosopher than the pleasure of the profit lover.

Then it seems that the pleasure of the profit lover comes last.

Indeed, said he.

583B These would constitute two arguments, in succession, and two victories for the just over the unjust. Let the third, in Olympic fashion, be dedicated to the Saviour, Olympian Zeus. Consider this carefully; the pleasure of the others, apart from the pleasure of the man of intelligence, is not completely true, nor is it pure; it is a mere shadow-drawing, or so I heard, I believe, from one of the wise. And indeed, this next overthrow of the unjust would be the greatest and most decisive of all.

Very decisive, but what do you mean?

583C I’ll discover this, said I, if you answer questions while I carry out an enquiry.

Ask your questions then, said he.

Then tell me, said I, don’t we maintain that pain is the opposite of pleasure?

Very much so.

And don’t we also say that being neither pleased nor in pain is possible?

It is indeed.

Would you describe this as a middle state, between these two, a repose of the soul from both?

Quite so.

Now do you recall the utterances of sick people, and what they say when they are ill?

What sort of utterances?

That nothing is actually more pleasant than being healthy, but they were unaware, 583D prior to their illness, just how pleasant it is.

I remember, said he.

And don’t you hear people who are gripped by some huge pain saying that nothing is more pleasant than cessation of pain?

I hear that.

And, I believe, in lots of other situations like this, you notice that people in pain, rather than praising enjoyment, praise absence of pain, and repose from this sort of thing, as the greatest pleasure.

Yes, said he, this repose is probably pleasant and enjoyable then.

583E And, said I, when someone’s enjoyment comes to an end, repose from the pleasure will be a source of pain.

Probably, said he.

So repose, which we said just now is in between pleasure and pain, will, on occasion, be both.

So it seems.

Is it possible for something that is neither to become both?

I don’t think so.

And indeed, the pleasure that arises in the soul, and the pain too, are both movements of some sort, aren’t they?


584A And didn’t whatever is neither painful nor pleasant turn out just now to be a repose between these two?

So it did.

Now how could it be right to think that not being in pain is pleasure, and absence of enjoyment is pain?

It couldn’t be.

So this is not the case, said I, but it appears so. Repose, on occasion appears pleasant in comparison with pain, and painful in comparison with pleasure, but there is nothing sound in any of these appearances in relation to the truth about pleasure; they are a sort of enchantment.

Well, said he, that’s what the argument is indicating.

Then, said I, look at the pleasures that do not originate in pains so that 584B you don’t come to believe, in the present case, that this is the natural state of affairs, and that pleasure is indeed the cessation of pain, and pain the cessation of pleasure.

Where shall I look, said he, and what sort of pleasures do you mean?

Well, said I, although there are many other examples, I would like you to pay particular attention to the pleasures associated with smell. For these suddenly become extraordinarily intense, without any preceding pain and, when they cease, they leave no pain at all behind.

Very true, said he.

So, let’s not believe that being quit of pain is pure pleasure, or that being quit of pleasure is pain.

Let’s not.

And yet, said I, the greatest and most numerous of the so called pleasures that extend through the body as far as the soul, are of this form; they are mere releases from pain.

They are, indeed.

And doesn’t the same hold for the anticipatory pleasures and pains that arise from our expectations of these.

The same, indeed.

584D Now, said I, do you know what qualities they have, and what they most resemble?

What, he asked?

Do you think, said I, that there is up, down and middle in nature.

I do.

Now do you think that someone being carried from below towards the middle would think he is being carried upwards? Could he think otherwise? And once he is standing in the middle, looking back to where he had been carried from, wouldn’t he presume, without question that he is above, never having seen the truly above?

By Zeus, said he, I really don’t think a person in such a position could think otherwise.

And if he were carried back again, said I, would he think he was being carried down, and would 584E that be true?

How could it not be?

And wouldn’t all this happen because he has no experience of what is truly above, in the middle, and below?


And would you be at all surprised if people who, in like manner, have no experience of the truth about many other matters, hold unsound opinions? Might they hold a view of pleasure and pain, and the intermediate state whereby, when they move in the direction of pain 585A they think they really are in pain, which is the truth? But when they move from pain to the intermediate state, might they be convinced that they are approaching fulfilment and pleasure, and be deceived by comparing absence of pain, to pain, without any experience of pleasure, as if they were comparing black to grey with no experience of white?

By Zeus, said he, I would not be surprised, no; I’d be much more surprised if this didn’t happen.

Well think about this, said I; aren’t hunger and thirst and the like 585B a sort of deficiency in the state of the body?


And aren’t ignorance and stupidity, in turn, a deficiency in the state of the soul?

Very much so.

And wouldn’t anyone who gets nourishment or who acquires intelligence be filled up?

Of course.

And does the true filling up involve being filled with what is less real or more real?

With what is more real, of course.

And which of the kinds do you think partakes more of pure being? Is it the kind that includes food, drink, relish and every kind of nourishment, or the form that includes true opinion, 585C knowledge, intelligence and, in short, all excellence? You need to decide the following question; does that which holds to the unchanging, to the immortal and to truth, and is like this, itself, and originates in something like this, seem more real to you than what holds to the ever changing, and the mortal, and is like this, itself, and originates in this sort of thing?

Whatever holds to unchanging, said he, far exceeds the other.

Now does the being of the unchanging partake more of being than of knowledge?[i]

Not at all.

Or of truth?

Not of truth either.

And what partakes less of truth, also partakes less of being, does it not?


585D So, in general, don’t the kinds that are concerned with the care of the body partake less of truth and being, than those that are concerned with the care of the soul?

Much less.

And don’t you think the same holds for the body itself, in comparison with the soul?

I do.

So isn’t that which is filled with what is more real, and is itself more real, actually filled to a greater extent than something filled with what is less real, and is, itself, less real?

It must be.

In that case, if being filled with what naturally belongs to us is pleasure, then that which is filled more with things that really are, 585E would make us enjoy true pleasure, more really and more truly. But that which shares in things that are less real would be filled less truly, and less certainly, and would share in a pleasure that is less trustworthy and less true.

This must be so, said he.

586A So those with no experience of wisdom or excellence, who are constantly involved in feasting and the like, are, it seems, moving downwards, and then back to the middle again, and they spend their lives wandering like this. They have never transcended this, and turned their gaze to what is truly above, nor have they ever yet been borne there, nor have they really been filled with what is, or tasted pleasure that is certain and true.

Rather, like cattle, with a constant downward gaze, their heads bowed towards the ground, to their tables, they gorge themselves, feeding then mating, and, out of 586B sheer greed for all this they kick and butt one another with horns and hooves of iron. They slaughter one another with weapons of war because their desire is insatiable, since they are not filling the real part of themselves with things that are, nor are they even filling the part that can contain these.

Socrates, said Glaucon, you are describing most people’s lives, in an utterly prophetic manner.

Now isn’t it inevitable that they live among pleasures that are mixed with pains, mere images and shadow drawings of true pleasure, taking their tone from being placed alongside 586C one another? So they each appear quite intense, and engender raging passions of their own in senseless people, who fight over them just as the heroes at Troy, according to Stesichorus, fought over the image of Helen, in ignorance of the truth.

Yes, said he, something like this is quite inevitable.

What about this; mustn’t similar considerations apply to the spirited part whenever someone satisfies this, either through envy because he loves honour, or through violence because he loves winning, or through spirit because he is bad tempered? Isn’t he then pursuing the satisfaction 586D of honour, victory and spirit, in the absence of reason and intelligence.

This sort of thing, said he, is inevitable too, in that case.

Well then, said I, may we be so bold as to say, that in the case of the ambitious, profit loving part, there are a number of desires that adhere to knowledge and reason, which pursue their pleasures in the company of these, and only adopt the pleasures that intelligence approves of; these desires will adopt the truest pleasures they can attain to, because 586E they are following truth itself and pleasures that belong to themselves, if indeed what is best for each is what most belongs to each?

Most, indeed, said he.

So, when the entire soul follows the lead of the part that loves wisdom, without being rebellious, and each part, as a result, performs its own function in every respect, and is just, then above all does each part reap a rich harvest of pleasures that are its own, 587A the very best pleasures, and the very truest of which it is capable.

Yes, precisely.

But when any of the other parts is in control, it is unable, as a result, to discover its own pleasure, and it compels the others to pursue an untrue pleasure that is alien to them.

Quite so, said he.

And wouldn’t the parts that stand furthest from philosophy and reason be most inclined to bring this about?

Most by far.

And whatever stands furthest from reason is furthest from law and from order?

Of course.

587B And didn’t the passionate and tyrannical desires prove to be the ones that stood at the furthest remove?

Much the furthest.

And the kingly and orderly desires stood closest?


Then, I believe, the tyrant will live the least pleasant life while the king will live the most pleasant one.

This must be so.

Now, said I, do you know how much less pleasantly the tyrant lives in comparison with a king?

I would if you told me, said he.

There are, it seems, three pleasures; one that is genuine, two that are fake. The tyrant has gone beyond the fake pleasures into another realm. Fleeing 587C from law and from reason, he lives with a bodyguard of slavish pleasures, and it is not at all easy to say how much worse off he is, except perhaps as follows.

How, he asked?

The tyrant, I believe, was at a third remove from the oligarchic type, and the man of the people was in between them.


And if what we said previously is true, won’t he live with an image of pleasure that is at a third remove, in terms of truth, from the oligarch’s pleasure?

Quite so.

And yet, the oligarchic type is, again, at a third remove from the kingly type if we designate the aristocratic and kingly types as the same.

Third, indeed.

So, said I, the tyrant is removed from true pleasure by three times three; that is the number.

So it appears.

In that case, said I, the image of pleasure that the tyrant has, numerically, in terms of length, would, it seems, be a square.


And by squaring and cubing, it is obvious what the extent of the interval becomes.

Of course, said he, to a mathematician anyway.

And if someone does this the other way around and tries to say how far the king stands from the tyrant 587E in terms of the truth of their pleasure, he will find, on completing the calculation, that the king lives 729 times more pleasantly, while the tyrant lives more wretchedly by the very same interval.

You have, said he, poured forth a massive stream of calculation of the difference between these two men, 588A the just and the unjust, in relation to pleasure and pain.

Yes, and it is also a true number, appropriate to their lives, if days and nights, months and years are indeed appropriate to these.

But of course they are appropriate, said he.

Now if the good and just man wins out over the bad, unjust man to this extent in terms of pleasure, won’t he win out to an enormously greater extent in the refinement of his life and in terms of beauty and excellence?

Enormously indeed, by Zeus, said he.

588B So be it then, said I. Since we have come to this point in the argument, let’s go back to what was said initially, and the propositions that got us here. It was said, I believe, that acting unjustly is beneficial to the completely unjust man, provided he has a reputation for being just. Isn’t this what was said?

It was indeed.

Then, said I, let’s discuss this now, with its proponent, since we have come to agreement on the power that acting unjustly, and doing what’s just, each possesses.

How, said he?

By fashioning an image of the soul, in words, so that the person proposing this may see for himself what he is talking about.

What sort of image? He asked.

588C An image, said I, like one of those creatures that are referred to in myths of old; Chimaera, Scylla, Cerberus and lots of others that are described, where many forms have grown together and become one.

Yes, so they say, said he.

Then fashion a single form, said I; the form of a complex, many headed beast that has heads of wild and tame beasts, all in a circle, and is able to change all these and make them grow out of itself.

That’s a task for an ingenious craftsman, said he; nevertheless, since it is easier to fashion 588D speech than wax or the like, let it be fashioned like this.

Then fashion one other form, the form of a lion, and then the form of a man, and let the first be the largest by far, and the second, second largest.

These are easier to fashion, said he; it’s done.

Then join these three together, into one, so that still being three, they somehow grow together.

They have been joined, said he.

Now fashion an image of one of them round about them all, on the outside, an image of a human being, 588E so that to anyone who is unable to see what’s inside, and only sees the external shell, it looks like one creature; a human being.

The surrounding shell has been fashioned, said he.

Then let’s say to whoever maintains that acting unjustly is beneficial to this human being, and doing what is just is not advantageous, that he is really claiming that it is beneficial to the person to feed the complex beast well, and make it strong, and the lion too, and its entourage, while he starves his human part 589A and makes it so weak that it is dragged wherever either of the other two may lead it. And it leaves them to themselves to bite, fight with, and devour one another, rather than getting them accustomed to one another or turning them into friends.

Absolutely, said he, that’s just what someone who praises unjust action would be advocating.

Then again, wouldn’t someone who says that what’s just is beneficial, be maintaining that it is necessary to do and to say whatever puts the inner human 589B being most in control of the person; whatever ensures that the human part will attend to the many headed beast, like a husbandman, by nurturing and taming the gentle elements, while preventing the wild ones from growing, making an ally of the lion nature, and caring, in common, for them all, and making them friends to one another and to itself. That’s how it will nurture them.

Yes, that again is exactly what someone who praises justice asserts.

So, someone who praises justice would be speaking 589C the truth, in every respect, while someone who praises what’s unjust would be speaking falsehoods. Indeed from the perspective of pleasure, or reputation, or the benefit it confers, whoever praises justice is speaking the truth, while someone who criticises it is unsound in his criticism and doesn’t even know what he is criticising.

Not at all, in my view, said he.

Well since he is not falling into error deliberately, let’s persuade him gently by asking him: “good man, wouldn’t we say that whatever is regarded as noble or as disgraceful has come to be so for reasons such as these; whatever is noble makes the savage part of our nature subject to the human part, or perhaps to the divine part, and whatever is disgraceful makes the gentle part a slave to the wild part?” Will he, somehow, agree?

He will, if he listens to me, said he.

Now based on this argument, said I, is there anyone who benefits from acquiring gold unjustly if, as a result, he enslaves the very best part of himself to the most base part at the same time as he gets it? 589E If in the process of getting gold he enslaved his own son or daughter to wild and evil men, that would not benefit him no matter how much money he might get for this. But if he enslaves 590A the most divine part of himself to the most godless and corrupt part, and shows no mercy, isn’t he wretched as a result? He is accepting a gift of gold in return for much more terrible ruination than Eriphyle experienced when she took a necklace in return for the soul of her husband.

Much more terrible indeed, said Glaucon; yes, I will answer your question on his behalf.

Don’t you also think that that’s why unrestrained behaviour has long been criticised? Isn’t it because such behaviour lets loose that horror, that huge multiform beast, beyond the proper measure?

Of course, said he.

And wilfulness and discontent are censured, aren’t they, whenever they cause the lion-like, snake-like 590B part to increase and intensify beyond all proportion?

Very much so.

And luxury and softness are censured too, are they not, for loosening and relaxing this same aspect, when they induce cowardice in it?


Flattery and servitude are censured when someone puts this same lion-like aspect in subjection to the unruly beast, and degrades the lion, all for the sake of money to fulfil the beast’s insatiable desires, getting it accustomed, from its earliest years, to being more of an ape than a lion.

Indeed so, said he.

590C And why do you think lowly manual labour is subject to reproach? Or is it simply because it is associated with someone whose very best part is, by nature, weak, so that he is unable to rule the beasts within himself, fosters them instead, and is unable to understand anything else except how to flatter them?

So it seems, said he.

Now, so that such a person may be ruled by something similar to what rules the best person, are we to say that he should be a slave of that best person 590D who is ruled by the divine element, and we should not adopt Thrasymachus’ view, that a slave should be ruled to his own detriment? Don’t we think it best that everyone be subject to divine wisdom, preferably residing within himself, or else established externally, so that we may all be as much alike as possible, and friends too, because we are all governed by the same thing?

And rightly so, said he.

590E And the law, being the ally of everyone in the city, makes it clear that it also intends something of this sort. This is also the purpose of the authority we exercise over children, not allowing them to be free until we have established a system 591A within them, like the system of government in our city, and by caring for their best part, with the best part in us, we install guardians and rulers in them, similar to our own, and then proceed to set our children free.

Yes, that is clear, said he.

In which case, Glaucon, how, and based upon what argument, can we maintain that acting unjustly or without restraint, or doing something shameful, is of benefit to anyone, when he will actually be a worse person as a result, despite having a bit more money and power?

We cannot maintain this at all, said he.

And is acting unjustly, escaping detection and avoiding punishment, beneficial in any way? Or doesn’t 591B someone who escapes detection become even more degenerate, while in the case of someone who doesn’t escape, and is punished, his brutish part is made calm and gentle, and his gentle part is set free; his entire soul is restored to its very best state and attains a more honourable condition, because it has acquired sound-mindedness and justice, accompanied by understanding. Indeed to the extent that soul is more honourable than body, soul attains a more honourable condition than a body that has acquired strength and beauty along with health.

Entirely so, said he.

591C Now won’t any intelligent person live his life with all his resources directed to this end; respecting, first and foremost, the branches of learning that will make his soul like this, and showing no respect for any others?

Of course, said he.

Then, said I, he does not give over the condition of his body, or its nurture, to brutish, irrational pleasure and turn his life in that direction, nor does he look to its health or attach importance to being strong or healthy or noble, unless he is going to become sound-minded as a result. Rather he is always to be found attuning the harmony of his body 591D for the sake of the concord of his soul.

Yes, entirely so, said he, if he is going to be a musician in very truth.

And, said I, won’t he also bring this order and concord to his acquisition of wealth? He will not increase the sheer size of his fortune, beyond all bounds, and his troubles too, because he is in the thrall of popular views on happiness.

No, I don’t think he would, said he.

591E Rather, said I, he will add to or expend his wealth while looking to and guarding the city within himself to the best of his ability. He steers his course in this way in case anything might disturb the elements within him through excess or deficiency of wealth.

Yes, exactly, said he.

592A And when it comes to honours, looking to the same principle, he’ll willingly partake of and taste those that, in his view, will make him better, but he will flee from private or public honours, that undo the proper order.

In that case, said he, if this is his concern, he will not wish to engage in civic affairs.

By the dog, he will, said I, in the city within himself, very much so, but probably not in his own fatherland, unless some divine good fortune intervenes.

I understand, said he; you are referring to the city we have now described, and are founding; the one that is laid out in words, since I don’t think it exists anywhere on earth.

592B But perhaps a pattern is laid up in heaven, said I, for anyone who wishes to behold it, and to found himself based on what he sees. And it makes no difference whether it exists somewhere, or will ever exist, for he would engage in the affairs of that city alone, and of no other.

Quite likely, said he.

End Book 9


Book 10

595A And indeed, said I, although I have lots of reasons in mind as to why we have founded this city in completely the right way, I say this especially when I reflect upon poetry.

What aspect, he asked?

Our refusal to admit any poetry that employs imitation; indeed, now that the various forms of the soul have each been distinguished, it is even more evident, 595B in my opinion, that this should not be admitted.

What do you mean?

Well, between ourselves, since you won’t denounce me to the tragic poets and all the other imitators, everything of this sort seems to be a mutilation of the minds of those who hear it without possessing the antidote of knowing things as they really are.

What exactly do you have in mind when you say this, said he?

This must be spoken, I replied, even though the love and reverence that I have for Homer since my childhood 595C prevents me from speaking. Indeed he seems to have been the first teacher of all the beauties that tragedy possesses, and the leader too. But no man is to be honoured before the truth, so, as I say, this must be spoken.

Yes, certainly, said he.

Then listen, or more to the point, answer my questions.

Just ask.

Can you tell me, in general, what precisely imitation is? For I myself do not fully understand what it wants to be.

And I shall, somehow, understand this, said he.

That wouldn’t be anything strange, said I, since those with poorer eyesight often see things before those whose vision 596A is sharper.

That is so, said he, but in your presence, I wouldn’t be at all eager to say what it is like, even if something did occur to me; look for yourself.

Would you like us to begin then by considering this by our familiar method? For, we are presumably accustomed to proposing some one particular form, related to the various multiplicities to which we apply the same name. Do you understand?

I understand.

Then let’s propose this now for any multiplicity you want, beds and tables for example, if you like; there are, presumably, many of these.

Of course.

596B But there are, I presume, two forms related to these items, one being the form of bed, the other of table.


Aren’t we also accustomed to saying that the craftsman, producing either of the items, is looking towards the form, and in this way, he makes the beds and tables that we use, and the same applies to other items? Indeed none of the craftsmen, I presume, produces the form itself.

How could he?

Not at all; but let’s see what you call the craftsman in the following case.

596C What craftsman?

The one who makes everything that each particular craftsman makes.

You are speaking of a clever and most amazing man.

I’m not finished yet; you’ll soon say so all the more. For this same artificer is not only able to make all manufactured items, but he also makes everything that springs from the earth, and he fashions all the living creatures, and everything else too, and himself, and, in addition to these, earth, heaven, and gods, and he fashions everything that’s in heaven or in Hades, the underworld.

596D You are speaking, said he, of an absolutely amazing sophist.

Don’t you believe me, I asked? Well tell me, do you think that a craftsman like this doesn’t exist at all, or that there could, in a way, be a maker of all these things, although in another way there could not? Or are you not aware that even you, yourself, would be able to make all these, in a way?

And what, he asked, is this “way”?

It’s not difficult, said I, this crafting is done quickly, in many ways, but it is surely quickest if you are prepared to take a mirror and carry it around wherever you go. Then you will quickly make a sun and whatever is in the sky, you’ll quickly make earth, 596E quickly make yourself and the other creatures too, manufactured items, plants, and whatever else was mentioned just now.

Yes, said he, they are appearances, that do not, I take it, exist in truth.

Excellent, said I, that’s just what the argument needs. For a painter, I believe, is a craftsman of this sort; is this so?

Of course.

But you will maintain, I imagine, that what he makes is not true. And yet, the painter does, in a way, make a bed, does he not?

Yes, said he, he too makes an appearance of a bed, anyway.

597A What about the bed makers? Didn’t we say earlier that he does not make the form which, according to us, is what bed is; he makes a bed.

Yes, so we said.

Now if he does not make what it is, he would not be making what is, would he; although something of this sort is like what is, but is not what is? So if someone were to maintain that what the artificer of the bed, or any other artificer produces, “is”, in the most complete sense, he is unlikely to be speaking the truth.

Yes, said he, at least, that would be the opinion of those who spend their time on arguments of this sort.

Then we should not be surprised if the manufactured bed also proves to be somewhat obscure in comparison with truth.

Indeed not.

597B So, said I, would you like us to use these particular examples to find out what precisely this imitator is?

As you wish, said he.

It turns out then, that there are these three beds; first is the one that is in nature, which we would maintain, I believe, was produced by god, or who else?

No one else, in my view.

Then there is the one that the carpenter produced.

Yes, said he.

And the one the painter produced. Is this so?

So be it.

Then the painter, the bed-maker, and god, these three, are responsible for three forms of bed.

Yes, three.

597C Now god made only bed itself, what bed is, either because he did not want to make more, or because some necessity was laid upon him not to fashion more than one bed in nature. Two or more beds of this sort were not planted by god, nor will they ever grow naturally.

Why is that, he asked?

Because, said I, if he were to make only two, another one would make its appearance, whose form both those others would possess, and that third bed, and not the other two, would be “what bed is”.

Correct, said he.

So god, knowing all this, made it one by nature, because he wanted to be an actual maker of a bed 597D that actually is, and not a maker of a particular bed, or another mere bed-maker.

Quite likely.

Now do you want us to refer to him as its natural-craftsman or something of that sort?

That’s the right name, said he, especially since he has made this and everything else, through nature.

What about the carpenter? Won’t we call him the craftsman of a bed?


And shall we refer to the painter as a craftsman and maker of this sort of thing?

Not at all.

Then what shall we say he is, in relation to the bed?

597E I think, said he; that it is most reasonable to refer to him as an imitator of whatever those others are craftsmen of.

So be it, said I. Are you to call the person whose product is at a third remove from nature, an imitator?

Yes, certainly, said he.

So this will include the maker of tragedies if he is indeed an imitator. He is naturally at some third remove from the king and from the truth, as are all the other imitators.

Quite likely.

598A We have agreed then about the imitator. But tell me something about the painter; does he attempt to imitate the thing itself, the thing in nature, in each case, or does he imitate the products of the craftsmen?

The products of the craftsmen, said he.

As they are, or as they appear? You still have to make this distinction.

How do you mean, he asked?

As follows; if you look at a bed from the side or from the front, or in any other way, does it differ from what it, itself, is? Or does it not differ at all even though it appears different, and does the same hold for everything else too?

That’s it, said he, it appears different but doesn’t differ at all.

598B Then consider this very issue: what is painting directed towards, in each case? Is it directed towards imitating what is, as it is, or towards imitating what appears, as it appears? Is it an imitation of an appearance, or of truth?

Of an appearance, said he.

So imitation is surely at a far remove from the truth, and, it seems, it can fashion everything because it gets hold of some small part of each, and even this is an image. For instance our painter will paint a cobbler for us, or a carpenter, or any other craftsman, 598C without knowing anything about any of their skills. But nevertheless, if the painter were a good one, and he painted a carpenter and showed it, from afar, to children, or men devoid of intelligence, he would deceive them into thinking that it was, in truth, a carpenter.

Of course.

And in general, my friend, there is, in my view, something we should keep in mind in relation to everything of this sort: if someone ever tells us that he has met a person who is knowledgeable about craftsmanship of every sort 598D and who knows whatever anyone else knows, with greater precision than anyone else, we should reply to someone like this that he is a simple minded fellow who has, it seems, met up with a beguiler and an imitator, and has been deceived into thinking that the man is wise beyond all measure, because he himself is unable to test knowledge, lack of knowledge, and imitation.

Very true, said he.

After this, said I, mustn‘t we consider tragic poetry and its leader, Homer, since we hear 598E from some people that these poets know everything; all skills, all human affairs relating to excellence and vice, and indeed, matters divine? For they say that it is necessary for the good poet to compose whilst possessed of knowledge, if he is going to compose well on whatever he is writing about, or else be unable to compose at all. We need to decide then, whether these people have met 599A with imitators of this sort, and have been deceived. Are they looking at the products of imitators, without being aware that these are at a third remove from what is, and are easy to make without knowing the truth, because they are producing appearances, not things that are? Or do they actually have a point; do the good poets really have knowledge of these subjects when they impress so many people with their eloquence?

This certainly must be tested, said he.

Now do you think that if someone were able to make both the original and the image, he would devote himself, seriously, to crafting images and make this the primary concern of his own 599B life; his most prized possession?

I do not.

But I imagine, if he really were knowledgeable, in truth, about the objects he is imitating, he would much prefer to engage seriously with real work, rather than making imitations. He would endeavour to leave behind various beautiful works of his own, as memorials, and he would be more eager to receive praise than to give praise.

I think so, said he, since the honour and the advantage are not equal.

Well, we shan’t demand an account from Homer or any of the other poets, on other subjects by asking them if any of them 599C was ever a medical expert, rather than a mere imitator of medical terminology; whether any poet, ancient or modern, is said to have made someone healthy, just as Asclepius did, or what students of medicine they have left behind, in the way that Asclepius left successors. Nor indeed should we ask them about any other skill; no, we should leave all that. But when it comes to the most important and sublime matters that Homer attempts to speak of, such as warfare, military 599D strategy, the government of cities and the education of the person, it is only right, I believe, to question him and ask: “Dear Homer, if you are not actually at a third remove from the truth about excellence, a mere craftsman of an image, someone we define as an imitator; if you are indeed at a second remove, and would be able to recognise what sorts of activities make people better or worse, personally, and as citizens, then tell us, which cities have been better governed because of you, as Sparta was because of Lycourgos, and lots of other cities too, some large, 599E some small, were better governed because of numerous others? What city celebrates you for being its good lawgiver, and for being of service to them? Italy and Sicily celebrate Charondas, we celebrate Solon, but who celebrates you?” Will he have anything to say?

I don’t think so, said Glaucon, at any rate, even the Homeric band themselves have nothing to say on the matter.

600A And indeed, was any war, in Homer’s time, said to have been well conducted under the command or advice of the man himself? Does anyone remember one?


Well then, what about the achievements of a wise man, the insights and innovations into human skills and activities in general, the sort that Thales the Milesian, or Anacharsis the Scythian introduced; are there reports of this sort of thing?

Not at all, nothing of this sort.

In that case, if this did not happen in the civic realm, was Homer himself, during his lifetime, said to have taken on a role as leader of their education, for some people? Did they then love being with him, so much, that they passed on a certain Homeric 600B way of life to those who came after them? Was he, therefore, like Pythagoras who was loved for this very reason, and whose followers, even now refer to their manner of life as Pythagorean, and seem, somehow to stand out from everyone else?

No, said he, nothing like this is reported either. Indeed, Socrates, perhaps Homer’s disciple, Creophylos[67], would prove to be more ridiculous for his education than for his name, if all that is said about Homer 600C is true, since it is reported that Homer, even during his own lifetime, was largely ignored by this fellow.

Yes, said I, that’s what’s reported. But, Glaucon, if Homer really had been able to educate people and make them better, because he had the ability not just to imitate but to understand the matters in question, don’t you think he would have produced large numbers of disciples, and been honoured and loved by them? Protagoras of Abdera and Prodicus of Ceos, and very many others are able 600D to convince their contemporaries, in private conversations, that they will not be able to manage their own household or city, unless they entrust their education to them. And in return for this wisdom, their disciples love them so much that they are just about ready to carry them around, head high. Yet, are we to say, that although he really was able to help them towards excellence, the people of his own time allowed Homer, and Hesiod too, to travel about reciting poems, and did not hold them close, more closely than gold, and compel these poets to dwell with them 600E in their homes? And if they did not persuade them, wouldn’t they themselves have escorted them, wherever they went, until they had received an adequate education?

I think, Socrates, said he that what you are saying is absolutely true.

So, should we propose that all poetic types, beginning with Homer, are imitators of images of excellence, and of anything else they write poems about, but they have no contact with the truth? Rather, as we said just now, the painter, without knowing anything about cobbling himself, will produce what seems to be 601A a cobbler to those who also know nothing about this, and merely look at the colours and shapes.

Yes, certainly.

In this way, then, I imagine, we shall maintain that the poetic type too, applies certain colours to the various skills, with his words and phrases, even though he himself knows nothing except how to imitate. As a result, other people like himself, who only look at the words, think he is speaking extremely well, whether he is speaking, with metre, rhythm and harmony, about cobbling, or about military strategy, or about anything else at all, 601B so great is the natural enchantment that these three possess. But when these poetic productions are stripped of their musical colouration, and are spoken unadorned, I think you know the show they put on, since I presume you have seen this yourself.

I have, said he.

Are they not, said I, like the faces of youths who are in their prime, but not beautiful, when their bloom of youth is gone.

Absolutely, said he.

Come on then, consider this carefully: the maker of the image, the imitator, according to us, 601C knows nothing of what is, but does know what appears. Isn’t this so?


Well we shouldn’t leave this half said, we should look at it properly.

Speak on, said he.

Don’t we say that the painter paints the reins and the bit in the mouth, of a horse?


But the leatherworker and the blacksmith will make them.


Now does the painter know what qualities the reins or the bit should have, or is this unknown even to the smith or the leatherworker who makes them? Is it only the person who knows how to use these, the horseman, who knows what qualities they should have?

Very true.

Won’t we say that this applies in all cases?


601D In each case, are there these three skills; using, making and imitating?


Now isn’t the excellence, beauty or correctness of each manufactured item, living creature, or activity, related solely to the use for which each has been made, or naturally produced?

So it is.

So it is quite necessary that the user be most experienced with the particular item, and that he be the one who reports, to the maker, the good and bad qualities that it manifests when used by the user. The flautist, for example, presumably reports back 601E to the flute maker as to which flutes serve his purpose when he plays them, and he instructs him as to how they should be made. Then the flute-maker will serve his need.

Of course.

So doesn’t one person report back, knowledgeably, about the good and bad qualities of the flutes, while the other believes him and makes them?


So, in relation to the same item, the maker will have a correct belief about its excellence or deficiency by associating with someone who knows, and by being compelled 602A to hear what he has to say. But the user will have knowledge.


Now, will the imitator, from using them, have knowledge of whether or not the things he paints are good and right, or will he have right opinion because he is required to associate with the person who knows, and be instructed as to how he is to paint them?


So the imitator will neither know, nor have right opinion, concerning what’s beautiful or bad about whatever he is imitating.

It seems not.

The poetic imitator would have a charming relationship with the wisdom of whoever he writes about.

Not really.

602B But he will proceed to imitate nevertheless, without knowing how the object in question may be good or bad. It seems rather that he will imitate the sort of thing that seems beautiful to most people, people who don’t know anything about it.

What else can he do?

Well then, it looks as if all this has been reasonably well agreed between us; the imitator knows nothing worth mentioning about anything he imitates, the imitation is a mere plaything, devoid of seriousness, and those who are involved in tragic poetry, whether in iambic or epic metre, are all imitators, through and through.

Yes, certainly.

602C By Zeus, said I, this business of imitation is concerned with something at a third remove from the truth. Is this so?


And what aspect of the person does it have the power to influence?

What sort of aspect are you referring to?

As follows: the same magnitude, seen from near and then from afar, does not appear equal in size to us.

It does not.

And the same objects appear bent or straight when they are viewed in, or out of water, concave or convex objects look flat 602D to our eyes because of the play of colours, and all such confusion is obviously present, of itself, in the soul. And shadow-drawing, taking advantage of this tendency in our nature, is nothing short of sorcery, and so too are conjuring and various other clever contrivances.


Now weren’t measuring, counting and weighing invented as intelligent safeguards against all this, so that we might not be dominated by what appears greater, or less, or more or heavier, but by that which has calculated measured, or indeed, weighed.

Of course.

602E But this function would belong to the calculating part of the soul.

Yes, it belongs to this part.

But when this part has done its measuring, and has indicated that some objects are greater than, or less than, or equal to others, the contrary qualities often present themselves, at the same time, in relation to the very same objects.


Now didn’t we say that it is impossible for the same person to hold contrary views about the same thing at the same time?

And we were right to say so.

603A So the part of the soul that is forming opinions that contradict the measurements, would not be the same as the part that does so, based upon the measurements.

No, it would not.

But the part that believes in measurement and calculation would be the best part of the soul.


So the part that is opposed to this would be one of the base elements in our soul.


Well this is what I wanted us to agree upon when I was saying that painting, and imitation generally, fashions a product 603B that is far removed from the truth, and the part in us that it consorts with, is in turn, far removed from intelligence, and imitation is its companion and friend, for no sound or true purpose.

Entirely so, said he.

So imitation, which is something base, generates base offspring by associating with something base.

So it seems.

Does that, said I, apply only to the imitation we can see, or does it also apply to the one we can hear; the imitation we call poetry?

It is likely, said he, to apply to poetry too.

Well, said I, let’s not put our trust only in what’s likely by analogy with painting, 603C let’s take a look, rather, at the very part of the mind with which poetic imitation consorts, and see whether it is base or serious.

Yes, that’s what’s needed.

Then let’s propose the following: imitation, according to us, imitates human beings performing actions under compulsion or voluntarily, thinking that they have done well or done badly as a result of the activity, and experiencing pain, or being delighted in all these. Is there anything more to it than this?


Now is the person in a unified state of mind in all of these? Or is there faction, just as there was in the case of seeing, when he held opposite opinions within himself about the same objects at the same time. Is it the same in the case of these activities; is there faction, and does he fight with himself? But I recall that there is no longer any need for us to agree on this issue; indeed we agreed all of this quite adequately in the previous arguments; our souls are teeming with countless contradictions of this sort, arising at the same time.

Correct, said he.

603E Correct, indeed, said I, but I think we now need to recount, in detail, something we omitted at the time.

What is it, he asked?

We also said earlier, I believe, that when a reasonable man meets with a misfortune such as the loss of a son or something that is very important to him, he will bear this loss more easily than other people.

Entirely so.

But now, let’s consider whether he will experience no distress or, this being impossible, he will somehow keep measure in relation to the pain.

More the latter, said he, that’s the truth.

604A Now tell me this about him: do you think he will struggle more against the pain and resist it, when he can be seen by his fellows, or when he is alone, just by himself?

Presumably, said he, he will fight it much more when he is seen by others.

But when he is on his own, I imagine, he will dare to utter lots of things which he would be ashamed of, if anyone were to hear him. He will also do lots of things which he would not allow anyone to see him doing.

So he would, said he.

Don’t reason and law exhort him to resist, while the feeling itself draws him to the pain?


604BBut when a contrary tendency arises in a person about the same thing, at the same time, we maintain that the person must have two elements within him.

Of course.

Isn’t one of them ready to obey the law and follow its guidance?


The law declares, I presume, that the very best course of action is to be at peace in the face of misfortunes, and not be distressed, because the good or bad of such situations is not obvious; there is no future advantage in taking things badly; nothing in human affairs 604C deserves to be taken seriously, and being pained acts as an impediment to the very thing whose assistance we need, as quickly as possible, in these cases.

What, said he, are you referring to?

To deliberation, said I, about what has happened and to arranging one’s own affairs in the way that reason deems best, as if responding to the fall of the dice, without wasting time like children who have had a fall, crying and holding on to the hurt. We should continually accustom the soul to turn as quickly as possible to the process of healing, and to ensuring that whatever has fallen or become diseased 604D is put right, banishing lamentation by means of the healing art.

This is certainly the right way, said he, for someone to deal with life’s misfortunes.

So, according to us, our very best part is prepared to follow this reasoning?

Of course.

But the part, that leads us back towards our memories of what happened, and to our lamentations about it, and has an insatiable desire for these, is irrational and idle, and a friend of cowardice. Isn’t this what we shall say?

We shall, indeed.

604E Now one of these, the troubled one, is highly susceptible to imitation in all sorts of ways, while the intelligent peaceful disposition, because it is always much the same as itself, is neither easy to imitate nor, when it is imitated, is it easily understood, especially not by a large crowd of people of all sorts, gathered together in a theatre; for the imitation is of an experience that is somehow alien to them.

Entirely so.

Then it is obvious that the imitative poet has no natural affinity with the good part of the soul, and his wisdom is not designed to please this, if he is going to be well regarded among the general population. He has, rather, an affinity with the troubled and complex disposition because it is so easy to imitate.


Isn’t it only right that we set him aside at this stage, and put him with the painter, as his counterpart? In fact he resembles him by producing products that are inferior in terms of their truth, but he is similar to him 605B too, in appealing to that other part of the soul, rather than to the best part. Accordingly, we would already be justified in denying him admission into a city that is to be well regulated, because he rouses this part of the soul and nurtures it, and by making it strong, he destroys the rational part. It’s as if, in the case of a city, someone were to put degenerate people in charge, entrust the city to them, and destroy the better sort. Shall we say that the imitative poet does the same by establishing an evil regime, privately, in the soul of each individual, gratifying the irrational part that cannot even distinguish 605C what’s large from what’s small, and believes that the same things are now big, now little? Is he not a maker of images, images that are very far removed from the truth?

Entirely so.

But we have not yet brought our significant accusations against poetry. For its ability to do harm, even to people of the best sort, with very few exceptions, is surely terrible.

Inevitably, if it actually does this.

Listen and consider: indeed even the best of us, I presume, have had the experience of listening to Homer, or one of the other tragic poets, imitating one of the heroes, 605D grief stricken, delivering a speech that stretches out into lengthy lamentations, or even singing, and beating his breast. You know that we are delighted, we surrender ourselves, we follow along and feel what they feel, and, in all seriousness, we praise whoever is best able to give us such an experience, and call him a good poet.

I know, of course.

But when some personal misfortune befalls any of us, you realise, in this case, that we pride ourselves on the opposite response, on being able to remain at peace and to endure it, as this is the response of a man, while the other, the one we just praised, 605E is a woman’s response.

I realise this, said he.

Now is there anything good about this praise? When someone sees a man like this, a man he himself would be ashamed to be like, and would not accept, should he be delighted and praise him rather than being filled with loathing?

No, by Zeus, said he, that does not seem reasonable.

606A Yes, said I, especially if you consider it as follows.

In what way?

Well, if you think about it, the poets now satisfy and gratify the part that is restrained by force when dealing with private misfortunes, and which hungers for its proper fill of crying and lamenting, and has a natural desire for these. But the best part of us, by nature, has not been sufficiently educated by reason and habit, so it relaxes its guardianship of this mournful part, 606B since the man is looking at the suffering of other people, and he himself feels no shame, if someone else claims to be good but engages in inappropriate lamentation. So he praises and pities this person, thinking there is advantage in that; it is a pleasure he will not be deprived of, by despising the whole poem. Indeed, in my view, there are few who are capable of working out that whatever enjoyment we derive from the affairs of others, necessarily affects our own. For having been fed strong on other people’s sufferings, it is not easy to restrain pity in the face of our own.

Very true, said he.

606C Now doesn’t the same argument apply to laughter? If you are absolutely delighted when jokes you would be ashamed to make yourself, are acted out on the comic stage, or heard in private, and you don’t detest them for their baseness, aren’t you doing exactly what we described in the case of pity. For something within you wanted to make a joke and you restrained it then, for fear of seeming like a clown. But now you are letting it loose, and having allowed it free rein there, you will frequently give in to this, unwittingly, in private, and so become a comic poet yourself.

Very much so, said he.

606D And poetic imitation affects us in various ways in the case of sexual desires, anger, and all the appetites, pleasures and pains of the soul, which, we maintain, accompany every action of ours. It actually nurtures these and waters them when they should be left to wither, and sets them up as rulers when they should be under authority so that we may become better and happier rather than worse and more wretched.

I cannot disagree, said he.

606E In that case, Glaucon, said I, whenever you come across Homer’s eulogists declaring that this poet has educated Hellas, that he deserves to be adopted and studied both for the management and for the education of human affairs, and that everyone should live his own life under the arrangements suggested by this poet, 607A you should embrace them and love them for doing their very best, and concede that Homer is highly poetic, and our foremost tragic poet. But you must understand that the only poetry we can admit into our city, are hymns to the gods, or praises of good people. And if you admit the voluptuous Muse, in lyric or epic form, pleasure and pain will be kings of your city, instead of law and the reasoning that always seems best to the community.

607B Very true, said he.

Well, said I, now that we have revisited the question of poetry, let this be our defence: we were, after all, acting reasonably when we banished it from our city, since this is what it is like; the argument proved this to us. But in case poetry accuses us of a certain harshness and lack of refinement, let’s explain to her that a dispute between philosophy and poetry is of ancient date. Indeed there are signs of this long standing opposition in expressions such as: “the yelping hound that bays against her master”, and “paramount in the empty talk 607C of fools”, and “the mob that rules the over-wise”, and “the subtle thinkers who turn out to be poor”, and there are scores of others. Nevertheless, let’s declare that if someone is able to put forward an argument as to why there should be poetry and imitation, whose aim is pleasure, in a well regulated city, we would gladly receive these back again, because we realise that we are still charmed by them. But it is an unholy act to betray what you think to be true. Is this so, my friend? Aren’t you charmed by her 609D too, especially when you meet her through Homer?

Very much so.

Isn’t it only right that we allow her back under these circumstances, once she has defended herself in lyric or in some other metre?

Yes, entirely so.

And we would, presumably, also allow her supporters who are not poetical, but who do love poetry, to make a case on her behalf, devoid of poetic metre, arguing that she is not only a source of pleasure to civic society and to human life, but a source of benefit too. And we would listen 607E fairly, since we would surely gain an advantage if she proved to be beneficial rather than merely pleasant.

Yes, said he, the advantage would inevitably be ours.

But if not, my dear friend, we must act like those who have fallen in love with someone, but forcibly restrain themselves nevertheless, because they believe that the love is not beneficial. Because of the love of such poetry, engendered by our upbringing 608A under our good systems of government, we shall be well disposed to a proof that she is utterly good and true. But as long as she is unable to offer a defence, we shall listen to her while chanting this argument to ourselves, the one we are stating, this charm of ours, as a precaution against falling once more into the childish love that most people have for such poetry. But we are now aware that it must not be taken seriously, as something serious that lays hold of the truth. Rather, whoever hears poetry should be careful about it, 608B out of fear for the city within himself, and should heed whatever we have said about poetry.

I agree entirely said he.

Yes, dear Glaucon, said I, the struggle is a great one, greater than you think. What’s at stake is becoming good or bad, and so we should not neglect justice, and excellence in general, because we are excited by honour, money, or any power whatsoever, or indeed by poetry.

I agree with you, said he, on the basis of all we have recounted, and I think 608C anyone else would agree too.

And yet, said I, we have not recounted the greatest rewards of excellence, and the prizes that are on offer.

You are referring to something great beyond measure, said he, if it is greater than what we have spoken of.

Could anything great happen in a short period of time? Indeed the entire span of time, from childhood to old age, would presumably be short in comparison with all time.

Almost nothing, said he.

Well then, do you think something immortal should take a short time span like this seriously, but not be serious about all time?

608D I think it should be serious about all time, said he, but why are you saying this?

Are you not aware, said I, that our soul is immortal and is never destroyed?

And he looked at me, in amazement, and said: by Zeus I am not, but are you able to say this?

I can, said I, and I think you can too, it’s not difficult.

It is for me, said he, but as it’s so easy for you, I would like to hear about it from you.

Hear you shall, said I.

Speak on, said he.

Is there something you call good, I asked, and something you call bad.

608E There is.

Now do you think about them as I do?

In what way?

That which destroys and corrupts everything is what’s bad, while that which preserves and confers benefit is what’s good.

This is what I think, at any rate, said he.

What about this? Do you say that there is some particular good, or bad, that belongs to each individual thing, just as opthalmia 609A belongs to the eyes, disease to the entire body, mildew to grain, rot to wood, and rust to bronze and iron? I mean, in almost all cases, do you say that there is some badness or disease that belongs to each?

I do, said he.

Isn’t it the case that whenever any of these gets attached to something, it makes whatever it is attached to, bad, and in the end, breaks it down completely and destroys it?

It must be so.

So the bad and the degeneracy that naturally belong to each, destroys each, or if this does not destroy it, there is nothing else that could still corrupt it. 609B For the good will never destroy anything, nor indeed will that which is neither good nor bad.

No, how could it, said he?

So if we find anything at all which has a specific badness that makes it worse but is unable to dissolve and destroy it, won’t we know, already, that no destruction belongs to something of such a nature?

Quite likely, said he.

Well then, said I, does soul have something particular that makes it bad?

Very much so, said he, everything we were listing just now: injustice, lack of restraint, cowardice and ignorance.

609C Now do any of these dissolve and destroy the soul? And consider carefully in case we are misled into thinking that the unjust and stupid person, when caught in his unjust act, is destroyed by that very injustice, even though it is a vice of the soul. Think of it, rather, as follows: just as disease, the vice of the body, wastes it away, dissolves it, and brings it to a stage where it is no longer a body, so too, in all the cases we just mentioned, when their own particular 609D badness attaches itself to them or is present in them, they are corrupted by this and eventually cease to exist. Isn’t this so?


Come on then, and consider soul in the same manner. Do injustice, and vice in general, when present in the soul, corrupt and waste it away by being present in it, and by attaching to it, until they bring the soul to death, and separate it from the body.

No, said he, this does not happen at all.

But it is also unreasonable, said I, that something could be destroyed by the badness of another, but not by its own badness.


609E Yes, Glaucon, said I, think about it: we don’t think that a body could be destroyed by the badness that belongs to foods themselves, be it staleness, rottenness or anything else. But once the badness of the foods themselves produces badness of the body, in the body, we shall maintain, that because of the foods, it has been destroyed by its own badness, namely, disease. But since the foods are 610A one thing and the body is another, we should never expect the body to be corrupted by their alien badness, unless their badness produces its own badness in the body.

Quite right, said he.

Well by the same argument, said I, unless badness of the body produces badness of soul in soul, we would not expect soul to be destroyed by the alien badness of the body, a badness that belongs to something else, in the absence of soul’s own particular badness.

Indeed, said he, that’s reasonable.

Well we should either refute these assertions because we were wrong or, as long as they stand unrefuted, 610B we should not declare, that the soul is ever destroyed, in any sense, by fever, or any other disease, by slaughter, or even if someone chops the body up into tiny pieces, until someone proves that soul itself becomes more unjust, or more unholy because these things happen to the body. We should not allow 610C anyone to maintain that soul or anything else is destroyed when an alien badness arises in it, in the absence of its own particular badness.

But you may be sure, said he, that no one will ever prove that the souls of those who are dying become more unjust because of death

But, said I, suppose someone is bold enough to attack this argument, so that he will not be forced to accept that souls are immortal. If he says that the dying person does become more degenerate and more unjust, we shall, presumably, maintain that if this is true, then injustice is fatal to its possessor, just as fatal as disease. 610D So by its own nature it would kill those who catch it, killing those who have more of it quite quickly, and those who have less of it at a more leisurely pace. This would be unlike the present situation, where the unjust die because of their injustice, but at the hands of others who are imposing a penalty upon them.

By Zeus, said he, if injustice is going to be fatal to its possessor, it will turn out not to be so terrible after all, for it would be a release from evils. But I think it is more likely to turn out to be the exact opposite; it kills others, 610E if that is actually possible, while making its possessor more lively, and in addition to being more lively, more awake too. And so, in my view, it seems nowhere near to being fatal.

You’re right, said I. In fact when its own particular degeneracy, and its own particular badness, is not sufficient to kill or destroy soul, then badness assigned to the destruction of something else will hardly destroy soul, or anything else for that matter, except what it is assigned to destroy.

Hardly likely, indeed, said he.

In that case, since it is not destroyed by any badness, either its own or an alien one, 611A it obviously must be something that always is, and since it always is, mustn’t it be immortal?

It must, said he.

Well, said I, this is how matters stand, and since this is so, you may note that the souls must always be the same. For their number could not become less, I presume, since none are destroyed, nor could there be more of them, since you know that any increase in number among any immortal things would come from the mortal, and everything would, in the end, be immortal.


But, said I, let’s not think that this is so, for the argument will not allow611B it. Nor again, should we think that soul, by its truest nature, is the sort of thing that is full of variation, dissimilarity and divergence, itself, with respect to itself.

How do you mean, he asked?

It is not easy, said I, for something to be everlasting when it is composed of many things, and they have not been put together in the best possible way, which is how the soul appeared to us at the time.

No, that is not likely to be easy.

Well, although our earlier argument, and others, would compel us to accept that soul is immortal, we should still behold what it is like in truth, not mutilated by its association with the body and other bad influences, 611C which is how we behold it now. We should, rather, use reason to see it properly, as it is when it has been purified, and we shall find that it is much more beautiful, and we shall discern justice and injustice with greater clarity, and everything else we have just described. We have now spoken the truth about it, as it appears at the moment. But although we behold it in this condition, we are like people looking at the sea-god, Glaucus, who are still unable, easily, to see his ancient nature, 611D because the original parts of his body have been broken off, smashed and mutilated by the waves. But other things have attached themselves to him, such as shells and seaweed and rocks, so that he seems more like any wild creature at all, rather than what he is, by nature. That’s also how we behold the soul, in a condition that results from countless bad influences. But, dear Glaucon, we should look elsewhere.

Where, said he?

We should look to soul’s love of wisdom, and consider what it is in contract with, and the sort of thing it strives 611E to associate with, because it is akin to the divine, the immortal, and what always is. We should consider what it would become like by directing itself, entirely, to this sort of thing, when it has lifted itself, by this effort, out of the sea that it now resides in, and has knocked off the stones and shells that now encrust it, since it is feasting on earth, and is surrounded by a wild profusion of earth and stone, because of the feasting that is generally called happiness. Then one would see soul’s true nature, what it is like, and how it is so, and whether its form is multiple or just one. But we have now described what happens to it and the forms it takes in human life, in what I regard as a satisfactory manner.

Entirely so, said he.

In that case, said I, did we not do away with the other criticisms in the course of our argument, without praising the rewards and good reputation that are associated with justice, as you say Hesiod 612B and Homer do? Have we not found that justice itself is best for soul itself, and that soul should perform just actions whether it possesses the ring of Gyges or not, and the helmet of Hades too, in addition to that famous ring?

Very true, said he.

Well then, Glaucon, said I, at this stage there should, in addition, be no reluctance about restoring, to justice, and to excellence 612C in general, any rewards of any kind that they afford to the soul, either from humanity or from the gods, during a person’s life or after he dies.

Absolutely, said he.

In that case, will you restore to me what you borrowed in the argument?

What precisely?

I conceded to you that the just man might be reputed unjust, and the unjust man might be reputed just. You made this request, and even if these cannot go unnoticed by gods and mankind, the concession had to be made nevertheless, for the sake of the argument, 612D so that justice itself might be judged alongside injustice itself. Don’t you remember?

It would be an injustice on my part, said he, if I didn’t.

Well, said I, now that they have been judged, I demand, on behalf of justice, that you restore her good reputation among gods and men, and that we too should concur that she is held in such high repute, so that justice may carry off the victory prizes that come from being reputed to possess justice, prizes she bestows upon those who possess her in truth. Indeed justice has already proved that she bestows the goods that come from actually being just, and is not deceiving those who really do attain to her.

612E A just demand, said he.

Would you concede, firstly, said I, that the gods, certainly, are not unaware of what these two, justice and injustice, are like?

We shall concede that, said he.

But if there is awareness of both, then one would be loved by the gods, and the other hated by the gods, as we agreed at the outset.

Quite so.

And won’t we agree that for the person who is loved by the gods, whatever comes 613A from the gods, at any rate, is all for the best, unless some unavoidable badness accrues to him from a former transgression?


So in the case of the just man, we may presume that whether poverty or disease or some other so called evil befalls him, these will end in some good for this man during his lifetime or after his death. For the gods, certainly, will never neglect someone who has an eager desire to become just, and to become 613B as much like unto god as a human being possibly can, by pursuing excellence.

Yes, said he, a person like this is hardly likely to be neglected by his like.

And shouldn’t we presume that the exact opposite of all this applies to the unjust person?

Very much so.

These then would be the sorts of prizes the gods give to the just man.

Well that’s what I think anyway, said he.

But what prizes, said I, does he receive from mankind? If we are to describe the situation as it is, isn’t it somewhat as follows: don’t the clever but unjust people behave like runners who run well when going up the track, but not in the other direction? At first 613C they sprint away at a brisk pace, but in the end they become laughing stocks, as they run off the track without the victory wreath, with their ears drooping down to their shoulders. But the true runners keep going to the very end, collect their prizes, and are crowned as victors. Isn’t this also how things turn out, for the most part, in the case of just people? Towards the end of each undertaking, or association, or their entire life, are they not well regarded, and don’t they carry off the prizes that their fellow men bestow?

Yes, indeed.

So will you put up with it if I say the same things about these people as you said 613D about unjust people? For I shall say that when the just people get older, they take up positions of authority in their own city, if they wish, they marry from whatever families they wish, and marry their children into any families they please. In fact I am now saying, about these people, everything you then said about those people. And furthermore I shall say that the unjust, in most cases, even if they go undetected when young, are caught at the end of their course and become figures of fun. In old age they are trampled upon like wretches by strangers and by their own people; they are whipped and they suffer everything you rightly 613E described as brutal. I won’t repeat the details, so just assume that you have heard me list them, and tell me if you will put up with my saying this.

Yes indeed, said he, it’s only right that you say so.

These, then, said I, would be the sorts of prizes, rewards, and gifts that the just person receives from gods and his fellow men 614A during his own lifetime, in addition to those goods that justice herself bestows.

Noble and secure rewards indeed, said he.

Well they are nothing, said I, in number or extent, in comparison with those that await the just and the unjust after death. These should now be heard, so that each of them may hear, in full, what they deserve to hear, from the argument.

614B Speak on, said he, as there are not many things I’d be more pleased to listen to.

I shan’t, said I, tell you the long tale that Alcinous told, but a story of a brave man, Er, the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by race. Once upon a time, he met his death on the battlefield, and when the corpses were being gathered after ten days, already decomposing, his body was found in good condition. He was brought home, and on the twelfth day, as the funeral was about to begin, and he was lying on the pyre, he revived, and having come back to life, he described what he had seen there, in that other place.

He said that when his soul went forth, it proceeded along with many 614C others and they arrived at a mysterious region in which there were two openings in the earth, side by side, and two others in the heaven above, directly opposite them. Judges were seated between these, and once they had passed judgement, they ordered the just to proceed upwards, to the right, through the heaven, with signs attached in front of them indicating the judgements that had been passed, while they ordered the unjust to proceed downwards, to the left, also wearing signs, behind them, indicating all they had 614D done. But when he himself came forward, they told him that he must be a messenger to humanity to tell of what went on there, and they directed him to listen, and to observe everything in the place.

He said that he saw souls there, departing through one opening in the heaven, and one in the earth, after judgement had been passed upon them. Through the other two openings, souls came up out of the earth, in one case, full of squalor and filth, while from the other opening, other souls descended from the heaven, 614E purified. They arrived continually, looking as if they had completed a lengthy journey, and they made their way gladly to the meadow, and encamped there, as if at a religious festival. Those who recognised one another embraced one another, and those who had come out of the earth enquired from the others about what went on there in the other place, while those who had come from the heaven asked about what went on below. They swapped stories with one another, one group wailing and lamenting 615A as they recalled whatever they had suffered and seen, and what it was like on their journey beneath the earth, which was a journey of a thousand years. While those who had come from the heaven, for their part, described pleasant experiences, and scenes beautiful beyond measure.

To recount the many details would take a long time, but the summation, he said, was as follows: however many wrongs the person had done, to however many people, he paid a just penalty for them all, in turn, a tenfold penalty for each, that is, a period of one hundred years in each case, which is the span of a human life, so that the penalty paid would be ten times 615B the unjust act. For instance, if someone had been responsible for many deaths, by betraying entire cities or armies, and reducing them to slavery, or had been responsible for some other enormity besides, they would receive back the pain of all these multiplied tenfold for each. Then again, if someone had done good deeds and had become just and holy, they would receive their deserved reward on the same basis. And he also made comments, not worth recalling, about those who died as soon as they were born, or lived for but a short time. 615C And he described even greater penalties in cases of disrespect and respect for gods and for parents, and slaying with one’s own hand.

Now, he said that he was present when one person asked another “where is Ardiaeus the Great?” This Ardiaeus had been tyrant of some city in Pamphylia, a thousand years before then, and he had murdered his aged father and his elder 615D brother, and was said to have done many other unholy deeds too. Er said that the person who was questioned replied: “He has not come here”, said he, “nor will he ever come here. In fact this was one of the terrible scenes that we beheld. When we were close to the mouth of the chasm and about to come out, after all that we had been through, we suddenly caught sight of him, and others too, most of them, surely, tyrants, but there were also some private citizens who had committed great 615E crimes. Just when they thought they were going to go up, the mouth of the chasm did not let them, but it gave a roar whenever someone in such an incurable condition of degeneracy, or someone who had not paid the penalty in full, tried to come up. Then”, said he, “wild men of fiery aspect who had been standing by, recognised the sound, took hold of some of them, and led them away. But they bound Ardiaeus and others, hand, 616A foot and head, flung them down and flayed them, dragged them to the side of the road to strip their skin on thorns, indicating to those who kept passing by, why they were taking them away, and that they were about to throw them into Tartarus.” Then, although they had already met with many terrors of all sorts, the man said that this exceeded them all: the fear that this voice might emerge, in their case, when they went up. And each went through with great delight, as the voice was silent.

Such were the just penalties, and punishments that Er described, and the blessings 616B were the counterparts of these. But once seven days had elapsed for each group in the meadow, they had to get up on the eighth day and go on a journey, from there. In four days, they arrived at a place where they beheld a light extending straight, from above, through all heaven and earth, like a pillar, bearing a strong resemblance to a rainbow, but brighter and more pure. This they arrived at after a further day’s travel, and there, at the light’s centre, 616C they saw the extremities of its bonds extending from the heaven, for this light is what binds the heaven together, like the braces under a trireme, holding the entire revolution of the heaven together in this way. The spindle of Necessity, by which all the heavenly revolutions are turned, was extending from the extremities: its shaft and its hook were made of adamant and its whorl from a mixture of this and of other materials.

616D The nature of the whorl was as follows: although its shape was like what we have here, you should recognise what it was like, from what he said. It was as if one large whorl, hollow and scooped out thoroughly, had another one just like it, but smaller, fitting neatly inside it, like jars that fit inside one another, and a third and a fourth, and four others. In fact there were eight whorls altogether, lying 616E inside one another, and their rims looked like circles when viewed from above. From the back, these formed the uniform surface of a single whorl, centred on the shaft, which had been driven right through the centre of the eighth whorl.

The first and outermost whorl had the widest circular rim, the rim of the sixth was second, that of the fourth was third, that of the eighth was fourth, that of the seventh was fifth, that of the fifth was sixth, that of the third was seventh, while that of the second was eighth.[68] The rim of the largest whorl was spangled, that of the seventh was brightest, while the rim of the eighth derived its colour from the seventh which shone upon it. 617A The colours of the second and fifth were quite similar to one another and yellower than the previous two, the third had the whitest colour, the fourth was reddish while the sixth was the second whitest.

Although the whole spindle revolved, turning with the same motion, within the overall revolution, the seven inner circles[69] revolved gently in the opposite direction to the overall revolution. Of these inner circles, the eighth travelled, fastest, 617B second fastest, in pace with one another, were the seventh, sixth and fifth. The fourth moved third fastest and it seemed to them to be revolving backwards. The third was fourth fastest, and the second was fifth. The spindle turned in the lap of Necessity, and perched on top of each of the circles was a Siren, revolving along with the circle, sending forth a single sound on a single note, and from them all, all eight, came a single concordant harmony. There were three other ladies roundabout, at an equal distance from one another, each seated 617C upon a throne. These were the Fates, Lachesis, Clotho and Atropos, the daughters of Necessity, dressed in white with garlands upon their heads, singing in harmony with the Sirens. Lachesis sang of what had come to pass, Clotho of things that are, Atropos of what is to come. Clotho, with a touch of her right hand, was helping turn the outer revolution of the spindle, pausing from time to time, while Atropos, with her left hand, did the same for the inner revolutions, and Lachesis 617D gave a touch to each revolution, in turn, with either hand, in turn.

Now once they had arrived, they had to go immediately to Lachesis, where a prophet first divided them into ranks, then took tokens, and patterns of lives from the lap of Lachesis, ascended a lofty platform and proclaimed: “This is the word of Lachesis, maiden daughter of Necessity. Souls that live for a day, now begins another death-bearing 617E cycle for your mortal race. No daimon shall be assigned to you by lot, but you shall choose your daimon. Let the one who is allotted first place, be the first to choose a life, which he will, necessarily, abide by. Excellence has no master but each will have more of her or less of her, as he honours her or dishonours her. The responsibility lies with the one who chooses – god is not responsible.”

Having said all this, he threw down the lots among them all and each picked up the one that fell beside him, except for Er who was forbidden to do so, and the number that each had drawn was obvious to the person who had picked it. 618A After this he proceeded to place the patterns of lives on the ground in front of them, and there were many more of these than the number of people present. There were lives of every variety, for lives of all living creatures, and indeed all human lives, were included. There were tyrannies among them, some that endure to the end, others that are destroyed in the middle of their course, ending in poverty, exile or beggary. There were lives of famous men, some famous for their appearance and beauty and for their general 618B strength and prowess, some for their lineage and the excellence of their ancestors, while others were infamous for the same reasons. The same applied to women too. But because of the requirement that a soul become a different kind of soul, by choosing a different life, the ordering of soul was not present in them. But the other qualities were combined with one another, and with wealth, poverty, disease and health, and anything in between.

And this, dear Glaucon, it seems is the moment of extreme danger for a human being, and because of this, we must neglect all other studies save one; we must pay the utmost attention to how each of us 618C will be a seeker and student who learns and finds out, from anywhere he can, who it is who will make him capable, and knowledgeable enough to choose the best possible life, always and everywhere, by distinguishing between a good life and a bad one. Who will make him knowledgeable enough to know what bad 618D or good will be brought about by beauty, when it is combined with poverty or prosperity, along with what sort of disposition of soul, doing so by taking account of everything we have mentioned and how their combinations with one another, and separations from one another, contribute to the excellence of a life? Who will make him knowledgeable enough to know what is brought about by the various inter-combinations with one another of good or evil birth, private station or public office, strength or weakness, ease of learning or difficulty in learning, and everything else like this that belongs naturally to the soul, or is acquired? He will do all this so that he is able to make his choice, reasonably, between the worse 618E life and the better one, by looking to the nature of the soul, and calling the life that leads soul to become more unjust, the worse life, and the one that leads it to become more just, the better life. All other studies he will set aside, for we have seen, that in life and after death this is the supreme choice. 619A He must go, then, to Hades holding to this view with an unbreakable resolve, so that even there, he would not be dazzled by wealth and other bad influences of that sort, fall in with tyrannies and activities like that, inflict a whole host of incurable evils, and experience even greater evils himself. He would decide rather, that he should always choose the life that is midway between such extremes, and flee the excesses from either direction, as best he can, in this life, and in all that is to come, 619B for that is how a human being attains the utmost happiness. And indeed the messenger from there reported that the prophet then said: “Even for the person who comes up last, but chooses intelligently and lives in a disciplined way, an acceptable life, rather than a bad one, awaits. The first to choose must not be careless, and the last must not be despondent.”

He said that once the prophet had made this announcement, the person who had been allotted first place came up immediately, and chose the most extreme tyranny. Out of stupidity and greed, 619C he had made his choice without considering all the details properly, so he did not notice that it involved being destined to devour his own children, and other evils. Once he had time to look at it, he beat his breast and lamented his choice, without being true to the earlier pronouncements of the prophet. For he did not blame himself for the evils, but chance and the spirits and everything else except himself. He was one of the people who had come from the heaven and had lived his previous life under an orderly system of government, where any share 619D of excellence he had, came from habit, in the absence of philosophy. And, generally speaking, those who had come from the heaven were more likely to be caught out in this way, since they had no training in dealing with suffering, while those who had come out of the earth, for the most part, having had experience of suffering, themselves, and having seen others suffer, did not make their choices in a hurry. This, and the element of chance from the lot, is why most souls undergo an interchange of what’s good and what’s bad. Yet, if someone were to engage in philosophy, consistently, in a sound manner, whenever he comes back to live in this world, 619E unless he is among the last to choose, it is likely, not alone that he would be happy whilst here, but also that his journey from here to there, and back here again, would be a smooth journey through the heaven, rather than rough and underground. So say the pronouncements from the other realm.

Indeed, he said that the scene, as the souls 620A each chose their lives, was well worth beholding, for it was a pitiful, comical and amazing sight to see. In fact most of them made their choice based upon the habits of the previous life. And so he saw the soul that had once been Orpheus choosing the life of a swan out of hatred for womankind because, having met his death at their hands, the soul was unwilling to be conceived and born of woman. He saw that Thamyras’ soul had chosen the life of a nightingale, and he saw a swan changing its choice to the life of a human, and other musical animals acted in like manner. 620B The soul that had been allotted twentieth place, chose the life of a lion; this was the soul of Ajax, son of Telamon, and it was fleeing from embodiment as a human, because it remembered the unjust judgement over the armour of Achilles. Next came Agamemnon’s soul. This soul too was hostile to the human race because of its past experiences, and so it changed to the life of an eagle. The soul of Atalanta had been allotted a place in the middle and when it saw the huge honours that accompany the life of a male athlete, it could not pass this by, and so it grabbed that life. After this, Er saw 620C the soul of Epeius the son of Panopeus, adopting the nature of a highly skilled woman. In the distance among the last to choose, he saw the soul of Theristes, the joker, entering into a monkey. As it happened, the soul of Odysseus was allotted the last choice of all. When his turn came he remembered all his former troubles, gave up the love of honour he had held previously, and went about for a long time seeking the life of an ordinary man with a private station, and he found it, with difficulty, lying about somewhere, neglected by everyone else, and he said, 620D when he saw it, that he would have done the same thing even had he been given first choice, and he chose it gladly. And similarly the other beasts entered into human beings, or into one another: the unjust changed into wild creatures while the just changed into tame ones, and there were mixtures of all sorts.

Now, once all of the souls had chosen their lives, they went up to Lachesis in the allotted order, and she sent them on their way, with the daimon that each had chosen, as the guardian of the life, 620E who fulfils what has been chosen. The guardian first led the soul to Clotho to ratify the fate it had chosen, as allotted, beneath her hand, as she turned the revolving spindle. Once the fate had been confirmed, the guide led it on again to Atropos and her spinning, to make the web of destiny unalterable. From there it went, inexorably, beneath the throne of Necessity 621A and when it had gone through, since the others had also gone through, they all proceeded to the plain of forgetfullness, through terrible burning, stifling heat, for the place is devoid of trees or anything that springs from the earth. Evening was coming on, so they encamped beside the river of heedlessness whose water no vessel can contain. Now it was necessary for all of them to drink a measure of the water, but some, who were not protected by wisdom, drank more than the measure, and as he drank,621B each forgot everything.

When they had fallen asleep, at midnight, there was thunder and an earthquake, and each was suddenly borne upwards, this way and that, to their birth, like shooting stars. He himself had been prevented from drinking the water, yet he did not know by what manner or means he arrived back in the body, but he suddenly looked about and saw himself already lying on the funeral pyre at dawn.

And that, dear Glaucon, is how the story was saved and not lost, and it may save us too, 621C if we heed its advice, and we shall safely cross over the river of forgetfulness without defiling our soul. But if we are persuaded by myself, we shall regard the soul as immortal and capable of bearing everything bad, and everything good too, and we shall hold always to the upward path, practising justice accompanied by wisdom in every way possible, so that we may be friends to ourselves and to the gods, both during our stay here, and when we receive the rewards of 621D justice, carrying them off, like prize winners in the games, and both here, and in the journey of a thousand years that we have described, all may be well with us.

End Book 10


[1] Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 593-4.

[2]Homer, Odyssey, Book XIX, 109 ff, Lattimore translation.

[3] Hesiod, Works and Days, 287-289

[4] Homer, Iliad, 1X, 497 ff.

[5] First mention of guardians in the dialogues.

[6] Shorey translation, Loeb edition of The Republic.

[7]Odyssey, XI, 489-491, Lattimore translation.

[8]Iliad, XX, 64, Lattimore translation.

[9]Iliad, XXIII, 103, Lattimore.

[10] Odyssey, X, 495, Lattimore.

[11] Iliad, XVI, 856, Lattimore.

[12] Iliad, XXIII, 100, Lattimore.

[13] Odyssey, XXIV, 6-9, Lattimore.

[14] Iliad, XVIII, 23-24. Describing Achilles, on hearing of the death of his friend, Patroclus; Lattimore.

[15] Iliad, XVIII, 23-24, Lattimore translation.

[16] Iliad, XXII, 414-415, Lattimore.

[17] Iliad, XVII, 54, Lattimore.

[18] Iliad, XXII, 168-169, Lattimore.

[19] Iliad, XVI, 433-434, Lattimore.

[20]Iliad, I, 599-600, Lattimore.

[21]Odyssey, XVII, 383-384, Lattimore.

[22] Iliad, IV, 312, Lattimore.

[23] In our version of Homer this is; Iliad, III, 8, and then Iliad, IV, 431, Lattimore.

[24] Iliad, I, 225, Lattimore.

[25]Odyssey, IX, 8-10, Lattimore.

[26]Odyssey, XII, 342, Lattimore.

[27]Odyssey, XX, 17-18, Lattimore.

[28]Shorey translation – perhaps from Hesiod.

[29]Illiad, XX, 15 and 20, Lattimore.

[30] Illiad, XXIII, 151, Lattimore.

[31] From Aeschylus’ Niobe, Shorey translation.

[32] Iliad I, 15-16, Lattimore.

[33] Shorey translation, Loeb edition.

[34] Odyssey I, 351-2, Lattimore.

[35] Shorey translation, Loeb edition.

[36] A probable reference to 472C; where Glaucon accepts close proximity to the ideal rather than complete identity therewith.

[37] The Greek word which is here translated as ‘power’ is δύναμις. It is usually translated as ‘faculty’ (Shorey, Davies and Vaughan and Jowett). However, Adam comments that this word is ‘too concrete’. The word ‘capacity’ is another possible alternative.

[38] See 477a.

[39] Anything which is double consists of two halves.

[40] Davies’ and Vaughan’s note (p. 195) here reads: “The riddle is thus given by the Scholiast: ‘A tale is told that a man and not a man, seeing and not seeing a bird and not a bird, seated on wood and not on wood, hit it and did not hit it with a stone and not a stone’. It is partly explained in the text and we leave the further solution of it to the reader.” According to Shorey, the bird that is not a bird is a bat, the wood that is not wood is a reed, and the stone that is not a stone is a pumice.

[41] Plato coins this word using the Greek word for opinion (δόξα). It means ‘opinion loving’ and is a counterpart of the ‘wisdom loving’.

[42] Here again the elaboration of the word ‘philosophers’ as ‘lovers of wisdom’ is not in the Greek text but is supplied in order to contrast it with ‘lovers of opinion’.

[43] Bloom (p. 462) describes Momus as a god of ridicule or fault-finding.

[44] Ficino omits the word ‘now’: see note in Adam.

[45] See 486D.

[46] Both Shorey and Bloom have notes on this phrase. Bloom’s comment that ‘the precise meaning of this expression is not certainly known’ is perhaps the most apt.

[47] See 492a

[48] This reference to the ‘bridle of Theages’ later became proverbial for an undesired but perhaps fortunate restraint from doing something.

[49] Socrates’ daimonic sign stopped him from doing what he was about to do but never told him what to do. See also Apology, 32.

[50] Adam’s note states: “Plato is here alluding to epideictic harangues by sophistical rhetoricians of the school of Gorgias. τοιαῦτ᾽ ἄττα ῥήματα=‘expressions of this sort’ refers to the jingle in γενόμενον—λεγόμενον, which is an example of the rhetorical device called παρομοίωσις: see Arist. Rhet. III 9. 1410^{a} 24 ff. The strange phrase ‘verbalisation in realisation’ is used in the translation in some effort to reflect this.

[51] See 493a for another reference to divine providence.

[52] This image refers back to 474a where it is used by Glaucon to describe the popular response to the notion of philosopher kings.

[53] This issue is dealt with in Book IV at 434e and is resumed in detail at 436A.

[54] The previous reference to the longer route is in Book IV at 435d. Socrates refers to the approach there as inaccurate and he reminds us of that here.

[55] The Greek word for interest and offspring is the same. Socrates plays upon the dual sense of the word here. The pun extends to the end of the next paragraph where he plays upon the word ‘account’ as being either an interest calculation or a philosophic explanation.

[56] There is a play here in the Greek text upon the words for sky and visible which is hard to capture in English and is omitted from this translation.

[57] The man of reason has compassion for the ever darkened soul although he may find some amusement in her predicament. The descended soul is blessed but may still be a figure of fun.

[58] This provoking and awakening of reason is previously referred to at 523d.

[59] See next footnote.

[60] For other references to the one itself not having parts, see Parmenides 137d3 and 159c5 and Sophist 245a-b.

[61] See the abstraction step taken τῇ διανοίᾳ at Parmenides 143a7 for a similar reference to consideration of the one itself through thought alone.

[62] This section of Book VII concludes the description of arithmetic, the first of five subjects which precede the discussion of dialectic. Of the nine Stephanus pages devoted to these five subjects, four pages are occupied by arithmetic, i.e. almost half of the entire treatment of this important aspect of the guardians’ education is given over to arithmetic (about one page of the nine is simply connective or discursive).


[63] “Noble-City” is an attempt to render in English the Greek word καλλίπολις. Plato, here, gives that name to the city he is founding; there were cities if that name in the Greek world at that time.

[64] Following Shorey & Rowe in omitting what follows in the Greek text.

[65] The father of the tyrant is the people, the general populace who produced the tyrant in the first place. Socrartes’ response clarifies this.

[66] See Adam’s note on this passage.

[67] Meat lover

[68] Adam, p. 430, quotes Jowett and Campbell who say “The breadth of the rims is intended to signify the supposed distances of the orbits from each other”.

[69] “From second to eighth”, adds Rowe, page 368.


[i]Endnote to Book IX, 585c 8-9, following Burnet and the manuscripts.

  οὖν  ἀεὶ  ὁμοίου  οὐσία  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον    ἐπιστήμης  μετέχει   (mss, Burnet)

“does the being of what is always the same participate more in being than in knowledge” (Grube-Reeve)

  οὖν  ἀνομοίου  οὐσία  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον    ἐπιστήμης  μετέχει   (Hermann apud Shorey)

“does the essence of that which never abides the same partake of real essence any more than of knowledge” (Shorey)

  οὖν  ἀεὶ  <ἀν>ομοίου  οὐσία  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον    <>  ἐπιστήμης  μετέχει     (Adam)

does the οὐσία of that which is always different partake of  οὐσία  more than the  οὐσία  of knowledge

  οὖν  [ἀεὶ  ὁμοίου  οὐσία]  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον    ἐπιστήμης  μετέχει   (Ritter apud Shorey)

does anything have a greater share in  οὐσία  than in knowledge

  οὖν  ἀεὶ  ὁμοίου  σιτία  [οὐσίας  τι]  μᾶλλον    ἐπιστήμη[ς]  μετέχει   (Bury apud Slings)

do σιτία have a greater share in what is always  ὅμοιον  than knowledge has

  οὖν  ἀεὶ  ὁμοίου  [οὐσία]  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον    ἐπιστήμη[ς]  μετέχει     (Ferrari apud Rowe)

“does anything share more in being what is always alike than knowledge does?” (Rowe) ≈  ≈  “does anything have a greater share in the being of what is always the same than knowledge does” (Griffith)

  οὖν  ἀεὶ  ὁμοίου  [οὐσία]  οὐσίας  τι  μᾶλλον  []  ἐπιστήμης  μετέχει     (Ferrari apud Slings)