The Dialogues of Plato — Translation by David Horan

Plato’s Statesman

Persons in the dialogue: Stranger from Elea, Socrates, Young Socrates, Theodorus

 257A Socrates: Well, Theodorus, I owe you a great debt of gratitude for the acquaintance of Theaetetus and of the stranger too.

Theodorus: And yet, Socrates, you will soon be three times more grateful, once they have completed the statesman for you and the philosopher too.

Soc: What’s this, Theodorus, are we to say that we have heard our supreme reckoner and geometrician expressing the matter in this way?

Theo: 257B In what way, Socrates?

Soc: By assigning equal worth to each of the men when they stand so far apart in value; too far to be expressed by proportion, the measure that your skill employs.

Theo: By our god, Ammon, Socrates, you have rebuked me nicely, and with justification, for the error in the calculations, and you demonstrated your excellent memory in the process. I’ll get back to you on these issues some other time. As for you, stranger, you should never tire of gratifying us and, whether you first prefer to take the 257C man who is a statesman or the one who is a philosopher, make your selection and go through it in detail.

Stranger from Elea: That’s what we should do, Theodorus, since, once we have taken them on, we should not give up until we have brought them to a conclusion. However, what should I do about Theaetetus here?

Theo: In what sense?

Str: Should we rest him for a while and substitute his training companion, this (young) Socrates? What would you advise?

Theo: Make the change you just suggested, for they are both young and will bear all the exertion more readily if they are rested.

Soc: 257D And indeed, stranger, they would both seem to have a certain kinship with me. In one case, you claim that he looks similar to me based on the nature of his face, while in the other case the fact that he is addressed by the same name 258A provides some relationship. Of course we should always be eager to get to know our kindred through discourse. So I myself had dealings with Theaetetus, in discussion, yesterday, and I have now heard him answering questions too[1] however, in the case of Socrates I have done neither. This fellow should be tested too, so let him respond to you now and to me on some other occasion.

Str: So be it. Well, Socrates, are you listening to Socrates?

Young Socrates: Yes.

Str: And do you agree with what he is proposing?

Y Soc: Very much so.

Str: 258B It appears there is no impediment on your side and there should probably be even less on my side. Anyway, after the sophist it is necessary, in my view, that the two of us seek out the man who is a statesman; so tell me whether we should place him in the rank of those who are knowledgeable, or not?

Y Soc: As you suggest.

Str: In that case should we divide knowledge just as we did when we investigated the previous personage?[2]

Y Soc: Perhaps so.

Str: So be it. Well, Socrates, I think I see a division, although it is not on the same basis.

Y Soc: What then?

Str: 258C It is on a different basis.

Y Soc: Quite likely.

Str: So where may one discover the statesman-like path? For it is necessary to discover it and, having set it apart from the others, to impose one character upon it, and by assigning one distinctive form to the other branches, make this soul of ours regard all knowledge as being of two kinds.

Y Soc: This is now turning out to be a task for you, stranger, rather than for me.

Str: 258D And yet, it should be yours too, Socrates, once it has become plain to us.

Y Soc: Well expressed.

Str: Now, aren’t arithmetic, and certain other skills akin to it, devoid of activity, as they simply provide knowing?

Y Soc: This is the case.

Str: However, those concerned with carpentry and all sorts of manual labour have acquired their knowledge 258E as though naturally inherent in the actions, and they use it to bring to completion the objects they generate, objects that did not previously exist.

Y Soc: What of it?

Str: Well, all knowledge may be subdivided in this way, by designating one part as involving action and the other as only cognitive.

Y Soc: I grant that these two kinds belong to a single whole; knowledge.

Str: Now shall we designate the statesman, the king, the master, and even the estate manager, as one, when we are referring to them all, or should we declare that the skills are just as many as the names that are spoken; but it is better for you to follow my lead here.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: 259A As follows: if someone is competent to advise one of our public physicians, he himself being a private citizen, wouldn’t it be necessary to refer to him by the name of the same skill as the person he is advising?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: What about this? Shouldn’t we say that a person who is a skilled adviser to a man who is exercising kingship over a country, being himself a private citizen, possesses the knowledge that the ruler himself should have acquired?

Y Soc: We should say so.

Str: 259B But, of course, the skill of a true king is kingship.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And won’t someone who has acquired this skill, whether he happens to be a ruler or a private citizen, be correctly referred to as kingly, in any case, on the basis of the skill itself?

Y Soc: And it is right to do so.

Str: And indeed, estate manager and a master are the same.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: What about this? Surely there isn’t any difference between an impressively large household and a substantial but a small city, when it comes to rulership.

Y Soc: None.

Str: 259C And so, on the matter we were considering, it is evident that one knowledge applies to them all; and whether someone designates it as kingship or statesmanship or estate management, we should not argue with him.

Y Soc: No, why would we?

Str: But this much is obvious, anyway, that in order to hold power, any king is able to do very little by means of his hands or his body, as a whole, in comparison with the intelligence and force of his soul.

Y Soc: Obviously.

Str: Well, do you want us to assert that a king has more affinity with purely cognitive knowledge, rather than with knowledge that involves manual skill, and is, on the whole, 259D active?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: In that case, shall we place all these together into the same category, as one; statesmanship and the statesman, kingship and the kingly person?

Y Soc: Obviously.

Str: Wouldn’t we be proceeding in an orderly manner if we were to make a division in the purely cognitive knowledge next?

Y Soc: Very much so.

Str: Then apply your mind in case we can discern some natural division in it.

Y Soc: What sort is it? Tell me.

Str: 259E As follows: we agree, I presume, that there is a skill of calculation?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: In my view, it belongs entirely among the purely cognitive skills.

Y Soc: How could it not do?

Str: Now, once calculation has cognised the difference between the numbers, surely we would not assign it any other function over and above judging what it has cognised?

Y Soc: No, why would we?

Str: And indeed, any architect supervises workers but does not, himself, behave as a worker.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Providing purely cognitive knowledge, I presume, but not manual labour.

Y Soc: Quite so.

Str: 260A Then he may rightly be said to partake of the cognitive knowledge.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Yes, but in my view it belongs to this man, once he has made a judgement, neither to conclude the matter, nor take his leave, in the way that the calculator took his leave, but to assign what’s appropriate to each of the workers until such time as they have completed the assigned task.

Y Soc: And rightly so.

Str: Therefore, all such branches of knowledge are purely cognitive, and so are any that accompany calculation, yet these two categories differ from one another when it comes to judging and 260B directing.

Y Soc: Apparently.

Str: Now, if we were to divide purely cognitive knowledge referring to one part as directive and the other as judgemental, would we say it had been divided appropriately?

Y Soc: Yes, in my view, anyway.

Str: Now those who are engaged in a common task should be content if they themselves are like-minded.

Y Soc: They should.

Str: Then as long as we are sharing a task, we should bid farewell to the viewpoints of anyone else.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 260C Come on then, among which of these two skills should we include the kingly person? Is it among the judgemental, just like a spectator, or does he belong more to the directive skill, insofar as he is exercising mastery? Shall we place him there?

Y Soc: More in the second, of course.

Str: Then we should see once more whether the directive skill divides in any way. Indeed, it seems to me that it does so as follows: just as the skill of retailers is distinguished from the skill of those who sell their own produce, so too is the kingly 260D class, seemingly, set apart from the class of public messengers.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: The retailers first receive products that are not their own, and then sell, once more, what had previously been sold to them.

Y Soc: They certainly do.

Str: So too the messenger folk other people’s ideas, as directions, and then direct others, once more, with the directions imparted to them.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: What now? Shall we confound kingship with interpretation, 260E instructing rowers, prophecy, imparting messages and numerous other skills related to these, as if they were the same, because they all involve giving directions? Or since we devised a likeness just now, would you like to devise a name, in an analogous manner, since the class of those who are “own-directing” is effectively devoid of a name? We could then distinguish these activities in this way, placing the class of the kings with the “own-directing” skill, paying no regard to all the rest, and allowing someone else to assign them a name, since our method is concerned with the ruler and not for his opposite.

Y Soc: 261A Entirely so.

Str: Therefore, since this has been set apart from the rest in due measure, defined by the contrast between otherness and kingship, it is necessary to go on and divide this once more, if we find that it still yields us a cut.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: And indeed, we appear to have one; just follow along and make the cut with me.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: In the case of all those we may recognise as ruling by issuing direction, 261B we shall find, won’t we, that they are issuing commands for the sake of the generation of something?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And indeed, it is not enormously difficult to divide all that is generated into two.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: Considering them all together, some, I presume, are soulless, while others are ensouled.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And it is just on the basis of these that we shall make a cut in the directing part of purely cognitive knowledge, if we do actually wish to cut it.

Y Soc: Based on what?

Str: By aligning 261C one part of it with the generation that relates to the soulless, and the other with the generation that relates to the ensouled; and in this way the entire can, at that stage, be separated into two.

Y Soc: Absolutely.

Str: Then, let us leave one of these parts aside, and take up the other one; but having taken it up, we should make a twofold division of all of it.

Y Soc: Which of the two parts are you saying should be taken up?

Str: Presumably the one that issues directions relating to living creatures. Since the kingly knowledge is, of course, never the supervisor of the soulless, like architectural knowledge; no, it is nobler and always has its power over living creatures 261D and is concerned just with these.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: However, in the case of living creatures, their coming into being and their nurture may be seen in some cases to be nurture of one animal, while in other cases it is the care, in common, of beasts in herds.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: But we shall not find the statesman engaging in individual nurture like an ox driver or a groom, rather he bears more resemblance to a horse rancher or a cattle farmer.

Y Soc: So it appears, anyway, when you put it like that.

Str: 261E Now in the case of the nurture of living creatures, should we call common nurture of many of them together either a herd nurture or a nurture in common?

Y Soc: Whichever occurs to us in the course of the argument.

Str: Well said, Socrates! And if you preserve this lack of seriousness towards names, you will prove to be wealthier in wisdom as you approach old age: and we should do exactly as you have directed us. But with regard to herd-nurture, can you think of some way that we could show that it is twofold, 262A so that what we are now searching for among the pair may be sought thereafter in one of the halves?

Y Soc: I am eager to do so, and it seems to me that there is a particular sort of nurture concerned with human beings, and a different one concerned with beasts.

Str: You made that distinction with enormous eagerness and the utmost courage: however, as best we can, let’s not allow this at least to happen to us again.

Y Soc: What are you referring to?

Str: Let’s not separate off 262B one small part relative to many large ones, or proceed without forms; rather, let the part simultaneously possess form. Indeed, it is all very well to separate immediately what is being sought from the rest, provided it is done properly, just as you thought that you had the division a moment ago, when you rushed the argument once you saw that it was moving in the direction of human beings. However, my friend, it is not safe to work with fine divisions, rather, it is safer to proceed by cutting through the mid-points, and then you would encounter forms more. This makes all the difference to our enquiries.

Y Soc: 262C What do you mean by this, stranger?

Str: We should attempt to express this even more clearly, Socrates, out of respect for your nature. Now under the present circumstances it is impossible to present comprehensively, yet I should endeavour to advance the issue a little further for the sake of clarity.

Y Soc: Well then, what are you saying we did incorrectly just now, when we were making our divisions?

Str: It is as if someone attempting to divide 262D the human race in two were to make the division, just as most people in our part of the world make the distribution, separating the Greek race, as one, separate from them the rest, while referring to all the other races together by one name, barbarian, even though they are unlimited in number, do not mix, and do not share a common language. And on account of this one name, they also presume it to be one race. Or it’s as if someone were to believe he was dividing number on the basis of two forms, by cutting off 262E the number ten thousand from all the others, separating it off as one form, and assigning one name to all the remainder, and then, because of the name, went on to presume that this class, a different one from the other one, had come into being. But presumably he would make better divisions, more on the basis of forms and into two, if he were to cut number into odd and even; and the human race, in turn, into male and female. He would only split off Lydians or Phrygians or any others from everything else, in situations where he was at a loss to discover a part that is, at the same time, also a class, for each of the two parts that had been split off. 263A

Y Soc: Absolutely correct. But just explain this, stranger; how may one recognise more plainly a category and a part, not as the same but as different from one another?

Str: Oh, most excellent of men! The task you are assigning me is no ordinary one, Socrates. And although we have now wandered further than necessary from the argument before us, you are asking us to stray even further. Well, we should now do what is reasonable and resume the argument once more, 263B and come back to these other issues at our leisure just as trackers do. However, you must be completely on your guard against ever presuming that you have heard me make this distinction plainly.

Y Soc: What distinction?

Str: That form and part are different from one another.

Y Soc: What should I presume instead?

Str: That whenever there is a form of something, then this is also, of necessity, a part of the subject of which it is said to be a form, but there is no necessity whatsoever that a part be a form. You should always say that I formulate it like this rather than the other way.

Y Soc: That’s what I’ll do.

Str: 263C Well, tell me what comes next.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: The point of departure of the digression that has led us here. Indeed, I have in mind, in particular, the point where you were asked how “herd-nurture” should be divided and you replied very eagerly that there are two classes of living creatures, one human and another one consisting of all the rest of the beasts put together.

Y Soc: True.

Str: Well you seemed to me, anyway, to believe that having taken away a part; you had left behind a remainder which, in turn, was one class governing all of them, because you were able to assign the same name to them all 263D and call them beasts.

Y Soc: That is indeed what happened.

Str: And yet, my utterly courageous friend, if there were some other animal that is intelligent as the crane, for instance, or some other such creature seems to be, perhaps they would also assign names on the very same basis as you did, with cranes as a single class set against all other animals, making itself important, and having gathered all the others, along with human beings, into a single class, they would refer to them as nothing in particular except, perhaps, beasts. So we should endeavour to be careful of all processes of this 263E sort.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: By not dividing the entire class of living beings, so that this may happen to us less.

Y Soc: Indeed, it shouldn’t happen at all.

Str: And, in fact, this is also the way in which we went wrong then.

Y Soc: How exactly?

Str: Belonging to purely cognitive knowledge that was directive, there was, I believe, a part of the animal rearing class, of animals in herds that is; is this so?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: 264A Well, at that stage all living creatures together had already been divided into domesticated and wild, for those whose nature is amenable to domestication are referred to as tame, while those that resist it are called wild.

Y Soc: Good.

Str: And yet, the knowledge we are seeking was, and still is, applicable to the tame ones, and it should indeed be sought among herded beasts.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: However, let us not make the division just as we did before, when we looked to all of them, nor should we hurry so that we may get quickly 264B to statesmanship. Yes, that’s what put us in the predicament described by the proverb.

Y Soc: What predicament?

Str: By not being quiet and not making sound divisions, we have reached our destination more slowly.

Y Soc: And our predicament is a good one, stranger.

Str: Be that as it may. Well let’s try to divide common-nurture once more from the beginning. For perhaps the detailed conduct of the argument itself will better reveal, to you, the very thing you are intent upon. Now tell me something.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: I want to know if you have often heard people referring to the fish cultivations on the Nile and in the Royal Ponds. Now I know you won’t have come across 264C them yourself, although you may, perhaps, be aware of them in fountain pools.

Y Soc: Yes, indeed, these I have seen, and the others I have heard about from many people.

Str: And even if you have not traversed the plains of Thessaly, you have surely learned of their goose farms and crane farms, and believe that these exist.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 264D The reason I am asking you all these questions is this: it’s because the nurture of herds is either water based or land based.

Y Soc: It is, indeed.

Str: So do you also agree that it is necessary to split the knowledge of common-nurture in this way, allocating each of the two parts of it to either of these divisions, and referring to one as water-based nurture and the other as land-based nurture?

Y Soc: I think so.

Str: And of course we shall not inquire which of the two 264E skills belongs to kingship, for that is obvious to everyone.

Y Soc: Of course?

Str: Now everyone would divide the land based nurture class of herd nurture.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: By distinguishing the winged and those that go by foot.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: What about this? Should the statesman not be sought among the sort that goes by foot? Or don’t you believe that even an utterly mindless person, so to speak, would accept this?

Y Soc: I do.

Str: And we should demonstrate the skill in managing those that go by foot being cut in two, as we did a moment ago with number.

Y Soc: Obviously.

Str: 265A And indeed, it appears that there are two clear approaches towards the part upon which our argument is intent; one is quicker as it separates a small part from the large, while the other is longer but adheres more to the principle we stated previously, whereby we should, for the most part, cut in the middle. So we can proceed by whichever path we wish.

Y Soc: Why? Is it impossible to take both?

Str: At the same time! How extraordinary! But it is possible of course to take each in turn.

Y Soc: 265B In that case I choose both in turn.

Str: That is easier, since there is little left for us to do. Yes, at the beginning or indeed, if we were midway through the process, this would be a difficult task for us. But now, since you want to do this, let’s go the longer way first as we shall pursue this more easily when we are fresher. Now take note of the division.

Y Soc: Tell me.

Str: Our tame creatures that go by foot and live in herds are, by nature, divided in two.

Y Soc: On what basis?

Str: On the basis that some are hornless, while the others are horn bearing.

Y Soc: 265C Apparently.

Str: Now divide the skill of managing creatures that go on foot, and assign it to each of these parts. But have recourse to a description; for if you ever decide to name them, the issue will get more complicated than necessary.

Y Soc: So how should it be described?

Str: As follows: once the knowledge of managing those that go on foot has been divided in two, one part is assigned to the horn bearing part of the herd and the other to the hornless part.

Y Soc: 265D Let them be described like this, since for the point has been made abundantly clear.

Str: And what’s more, it is quite apparent to us that the king is shepherd to some stunted herd of hornless creatures.

Y Soc: Yes, how could it not be obvious?

Str: Then we should break this up and try to grant him the part that belongs to him.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Now, do you wish to divide it into split-hoofed and the so-called single hoofed, or into mixed bred and pure bred? You understand, I presume?

Y Soc: Understand what?

Str: 265E That horses and donkeys, by nature, breed from one another.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And yet, the rest of the smooth[3] herd of tame creatures do not interbreed with one another.

Y Soc: Of course not.

Str: Well then, does the statesman appear to have the care of a mixed bred nature or of something pure bred?

Y Soc: He obviously has care of the unmixed nature.

Str: Then it seems we should break this in two, just as we did in the previous cases.

Y Soc: Yes, we should do that.

Str: 266A And indeed, the creatures that are tame, and live in herds, have been almost entirely divided up at this stage except for two classes. Indeed, the class of dogs does not deserve to be counted among animals living in herds.

Y Soc: Of course not, but by what are we to separate the two?

Str: The very thing by which yourself and Theaetetus may rightly make the division, since you have both taken to geometry.

Y Soc: By what?

Str: By the diagonal, of course, and once more by the diagonal of the diagonal.

Y Soc: What do you mean?

Str: 266B The nature which our class of human beings has acquired is surely adapted for motion, just like the diagonal which has the power of two feet?

Y Soc: Just so.

Str: Then again, the nature of the remaining class, on the basis of power, is, in turn, the diagonal of our power if, by nature, it is twice two feet.[4]

Y Soc: How could it not be? And indeed, I almost understand what you wish to demonstrate.

Str: What’s more, Socrates, do we see that something has happened to us in the course of these divisions which could be a theme for the greatest 266C comedy?

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: This human race of ours has shared the lot and run the course with the noblest and, at the same time, most easy-going class of creatures.[5]

Y Soc: I see, and it is unfolding in a most unusual manner.

Str: What about this; aren’t the slowest likely to arrive last?[6]

Y Soc: Yes, I’ll grant you that anyway.

Str: And don’t we observe that the king appears even more comical as he runs along with the herd, and proceeds down a shared course 266D as the man who, for his part, is better trained than anyone for an easy going life.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: And now, Socrates, the point that was made before during our investigation into the sophist is more obvious.

Y Soc: What point?

Str: That in such a method of argument as this, there is no more concern for what is serious than what is not, and the trivial is given no less respect than the important. Rather it always reaches the very truest, by itself.

Y Soc: So it seems.

Str: After this, shall I proceed down the shorter 266E path we mentioned before, the one that leads to the definition of the king, so that you don’t have to ask me?

Y Soc: Certainly.

Str: Well, in that case, I say that those that go by foot should be assigned immediately to the two footed, or the four footed class, and perceiving the human race still on its own, sharing the lot of those with feathers, we should cut the two footed herd once more into featherless and feathered, but once it has been cut, and the skill in managing humans has been made evident, we should take the statesman, the kingly man, like a charioteer, and establish him within it, bestowing upon him the reins of the city as his own since this knowledge is his.

Y Soc: 267A You have rendered this account beautifully and, as if I were in your debt, you have added on the digression by way of interest to fill it out.

Str: Come on then, let’s draw together this account of the name of the statesman’s skill, by going back over it from the beginning to the end.

Y Soc: Certainly.

Str: Well, at the beginning we had a directive part of cognitive knowledge, and part of this was said, by comparison, to be “own-directing”. Again animal nurture, not the smallest of the classes, was split off from “own-directing”; 267B then a herd nurture form from animal nurture, and then command of those that go by foot, from herd nurture and, in particular, from the management of those that go by foot the skill in nurturing the hornless nature was cut off. But if we wish to construct one name for the subsequent part, it is necessary to weave together no less than three, and refer to it as the knowledge of the shepherding of the unmixed breed. And the cut 267C from this, applied to the two footed flock, still left the part concerned with the management of humans on its own, and this is already the very thing we sought, the same thing referred to at once, as kingly, and as statesman-like.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Is this really how the matter stands, Socrates? Has our task been accomplished, as you have just said?

Y Soc: What task?

Str: The comprehensive description of the subject in an adequate manner: yes, our search does lack one feature in particular, that 267D it has somehow given us an account of the matter but this has not been accomplished perfectly and comprehensively.

Y Soc: What do you mean?

Str: I shall now try to make the very issue I am thinking of even more clear to both of us.

Y Soc: Please proceed.

Str: Of the numerous skills of shepherding that were presented to us just now, was one of the skills statesmanship, and was it the care of one particular kind of herd?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Yes, and the argument determined this, not as the nurture of horses or of other beasts either, but as the knowledge of the common nurture of human beings.

Y Soc: So it did.

Str: 267E Let’s look at the difference between all other herdsmen and kings.

Y Soc: What sort of difference?

Str: Let’s see if any of the others bearing the name of some other skill, claim to join with the king in the common nurture of the herd and pretends to do so.

Y Soc: In what sense do you mean this?

Str: Take, for instance, all traders, farmers and bakers, and, in addition to these, the gymnastic trainers and the class of physicians, do you realise that these fellows would all battle comprehensively in argument against those shepherds of all things human whom we call statesmen, 268A claiming that they are the ones who care for the nurture of humanity, and not only for herds of human beings but for those who rule over them too?

Y Soc: And wouldn’t they be right to say so?

Str: Perhaps. This we shall investigate, but we do know that no one will argue with an oxherd on any of these issues; no, the herdsman himself is the nurturer of the herd; he himself is the physician and he himself is a sort of matchmaker, and when it comes to childbirth and bringing children into the world, 268B he alone is knowledgeable about midwifery. Then again, insofar as the beasts are naturally able to participate in music and education, no one is more powerful than he at consoling them and charming them into quietude, best at performing the music belonging to his own flock, on instruments or with the unaided voice. And indeed, the other herdsmen have the same manner; is this so?

Y Soc: Quite right.

Str: Now, how can our argument in relation to the king prove correct and flawless 268C when we install him as the sole herdsman and nurturer of the human herd, while singling him out, from thousands of others who dispute this assertion?

Y Soc: We cannot do so at all.

Str: In that case, we were right to be afraid a moment ago, suspecting that although we might indeed turn out to be describing some kingly figure, we might not yet have given an accurate portrayal of statesman, until we had stripped away those who crowd about him and pretend to share his role; and once we had separated him from those fellows, we then revealed him pure and alone.

Y Soc: 268D You’re perfectly right.

Str: Then that’s what must be done, Socrates, unless we want our argument to end up in disgrace.

Y Soc: Well, that is something that must never happen at all.

Str: In that case, we need to proceed once more from another starting point based on some different approach.

Y Soc: What sort of approach?

Str: We should mix in some playfulness since we need to make use, in large part, of a great story and thereafter, 268E just as we did previously, arrive at the pinnacle, the object of our search, by continually separating part from part. Isn’t that what’s needed?

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: Anyway, apply your mind fully to the story just as children do, since you are not really too long out of your childhood years.

Y Soc: Please proceed.

Str: Well, many events recounted from ancient times have occurred and will occur again but especially the portent described in the dispute between Atreus and Thyestes. Indeed, I presume you have heard it and can recall what is said to have happened?

Y Soc: You are probably referring to the sign of the golden lamb.[7]

Str: 269A Not at all, but to the change in the rising and setting of the sun and the other stars. Yes, apparently the sun used to set then in the place where it now rises, and used to rise in the opposite place. However, once the god had borne witness in favour of Atreus, he actually changed this to the present arrangement.

Y Soc: Yes indeed, that’s what they say too.

Str: And what’s more, we have also heard from many sources about the kingship that Cronos exercised.

Y Soc: 269B Yes, from very many.

Str: And what about the story that the people of former times were earth-born and were not born from one another?

Y Soc: That is another one of the ancient accounts.

Str: Well, all these originated from the same circumstance, and so do countless others besides that are even more amazing; but due to the great passage of time some of them have been obliterated, while others have been recounted in piecemeal fashion, omitting any connection between them. But no one has explained 269C the circumstance responsible for them all, so that must now be recounted. Indeed, once it has been stated, it will prove relevant to our exposition of the king.

Y Soc: You have expressed that excellently, speak on and omit nothing.

Str: Please listen; for there is a time when god himself joins directly in guiding the movement of this universe and assists its circling motion, and another time when he lets it go once its revolutions have finally attained the appropriate measure of time, and it is, of itself, led around 269D once more in the opposite direction, because it is a living being allotted intelligence by the one who constructed it in the beginning. There’s a particular reason why this ability to retrace its path is necessarily inherent in its nature.

Y Soc: What reason?

Str: It belongs only to all the most divine things to hold always to the same characteristics and manner, and to be the same; but the nature of body does not partake of this arrangement. And what we refer to as heaven and the cosmos, has inherited numerous blessed qualities from its creator, and yet, it does also have communion with body. 269E As a consequence, it is impossible for it to be devoid of change in every respect, and yet, to the best of its ability, it moves as much as possible in the same place, with a single direction; therefore, it has been allotted the reverse revolution because that is the smallest possible deviation from its own motion. But it is quite impossible for anything, except that which, for its part, directs the movements of everything, to turn itself continually by itself; but it is not ordained that this causes motion first in one direction and then again in the opposite direction. So on the basis of all these considerations, we should not assert that the world itself continually turns itself, nor that it is turned entirely by god in a pair 270A of opposed revolutions, nor again, that a pair of gods whose thinking is opposed, turn it. Rather, the only remaining option is just what we stated earlier; it is guided along by an extraneous divine cause, acquires life once again and adopts a restored immortality once more from its craftsman, but then, when it is let go, it proceeds by means of itself, having been let go at such a time that it travels in the opposite direction for many thousands of revolutions because indeed it is in motion, being most enormous and well-balanced, resting on the smallest pivot.

Y Soc: 270B Well, it appears that everything you have recounted is very reasonable.

Str: Then having reflected upon what has been said, let’s come to an understanding of this circumstance, the one we declared to be the cause of all these wonders. In fact this is it.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: That the course of the universe revolves at one time in the direction it does now, and at another time in the opposite direction.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: We need to realise, that of all the turnings taking place about the heaven, 270C this alteration is the greatest and most comprehensive.

Y Soc: So it seems, anyway.

Str: In that case, we should also presume that at that time, enormous changes happen to us who dwell within it.

Y Soc: This also seems to be the case.

Str: And yet, we are also aware that the nature of living beings has difficulty in enduring lots of enormous changes of all sorts when they happen.

 Y Soc: Of course.

Str: So at that stage, enormous destructions are a necessary consequence for living beings in general, and in the case of the human race, 270D only a few survive. Now numerous other wondrous and novel circumstances befall these people, but there is a most significant one that follows upon the reversal of the motion of the universe, whenever the turn, opposite to what is now established, takes place.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: Firstly, the aging process of each of the creatures, stood still in all cases, and anything mortal stopped getting older in appearance, but changed once more to the opposite 270E condition, as if it was growing younger and more tender. And the white hair of the older people turned to black; and in the case of the bearded men, their cheeks became smooth once more and each reverted to a former time of life; and the bodies of the youths, becoming smoother and smaller every day and every night, returned once more to the nature of a new born child, like unto that both in body and in soul. And thereafter, fading away completely, they vanished altogether. What’s more, the dead body of anyone who came to a violent end during that era went through the same processes, 271A quickly disappeared in a few days, and was done away with.

Y Soc: But, stranger, what was the origin of living creatures then? In what manner were they generated from one another?

Str: Of course, Socrates, that generation from one another was not in the nature of things at that time, instead the earth-born race that is said to have once existed, the one that returns once more from the earth, was the race that existed in that age: this was remembered by our earliest ancestors, who were born at the beginning of this present age, bordering upon the very end of the previous 271B era. Indeed, these ancestors became our proclaimers of these accounts of those earth-born people, accounts that are met with unjustified disbelief by many people these days. Indeed, in my view, we need to consider what else happens. For it follows from the fact of the return of the old people to the nature of the child that from those who have died and are lying in the earth, people are reconstituted there and, coming back to life again, they follow the direction of the opposite cycle of generation, and based upon that direction they necessarily develop 271C as earth-born, and are named and described accordingly, the ones whom god does not preserve for some other destiny.

Y Soc: Yes, this all follows quite well from what went before. But what about the life that you say is under the power of Cronos: did that occur during those directions of the cycle, or during these? For it is evident that the change to the stars and the sun occurs during either of the two directions of the cycle.

Str: You have followed along with my account quite well. But in relation to your question about 271D the spontaneous generation of everything for humanity, this is least applicable to the present revolution; this also belongs to the previous one. For in that era, god ruled at first, caring for the revolution itself as a whole: what’s more, the same applied to the individual regions; the parts of the universe were entirely allocated under ruling gods. And indeed, the living creatures, based on their classes and herds, were adopted by particular daimons, like divine shepherds, each self-sufficient in every respect for each of the creatures he tended, so that none was wild, 271E nor did they eat one another; neither was there any war or discord whatsoever. But details of all the consequences of such an arrangement would be too numerous to recount.

Now, what was said about the effortless life of human beings was said for the following reason: a god presided over them and managed them himself, just as humans nowadays, a different and more divine creature now tends upon other kinds of creatures lowlier than itself. While he tended them, there were no constitutions or any possession of women or children; for they all came to life once more from the earth, 272A remembering nothing of the past. And although this sort of thing was absent, they did have an abundance of fruit from trees, and from lots of other vegetation sent forth spontaneously from the earth, not a product of agricultural activity. Living outdoors for the most part, they grazed naked and without bedding, for their seasons were a blend, devoid of any distress, and they had soft beds of abundant 272B grass sprung forth from the earth. Socrates, you are now hearing about the life of people under the dominion of Cronos, but the one that is said to be under Zeus, the present one, you are aware of because you are living in it. Now are you able, and indeed, willing to decide which of the two is more blessed?

Y Soc: Not at all.

Str: In that case, would you like me to make the judgement for you in some way?

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: Well, if the nurslings of Cronos, enjoying such extensive leisure, and the ability to converse 272C through words, not only with humans but also with beasts, were to make use of all these advantages for philosophy, associating with beasts and with one another, and finding out from every nature whether any possessed some particular ability to discern something over and above the others in relation to the accumulation understanding, it would be easy to decide that the people of that age vastly exceeded those of this age in blessedness. However, if they were to stuff themselves full of food and drink, and converse with one another and the beasts, recounting the sort of tales told about them nowadays, this too, in my view 272D of the matter anyway, would indeed be an easy decision. In any case, let‘s set this aside, until someone appears, who is up to the task of informing us in which of the two ways the people of that age directed their desires regarding knowledge, and the use of words.

But we should state the reason why we have revived this story, so that we may bring what follows to its conclusion. For when the time for all this had come to an end, and it was necessary for the change to occur, and indeed by then the entire earth-born 272E race had been exhausted, each soul having rendered all its births, each falling to the earth as seed for its allotted number of times, at that stage the helmsman of the universe, as if letting go the handle of the helm, withdrew into his own viewing place, and the allotted and innate desire turned the universe once more in the opposite direction. So all the gods who shared the rule of the regions with the greatest daimon, recognising what was already taking place, withdrew, in turn, from the parts of the world 273A under their own care. But the universe, in changing direction and being thrown together, the initial and final motions thrusting in opposite directions, produced a considerable convulsion within itself and thus brought about another destruction of various living beings.

Once sufficient time had elapsed thereafter, so that the tumult and confusion had ceased and calm was restored after the convulsions, it adopted the order of its own accustomed course, itself assuming care and control 273B of itself and whatever was in itself, remembering the teaching of its father and maker as best it could. Now in the beginning this was achieved more precisely, but in the end it was more vague; and the cause of this was the bodily aspect of the combination, the ancient companion of its nature, which had partaken of much disorder before it arrived in the present order. For it has acquired all that is good from its maker, whereas anything that is troublesome or unjust 273C in the universe it retains from that previous condition, and it engenders this in the living beings. When it nurtures the creatures within itself in company with the helmsman, the baseness it generates is minor, while the good is enormous; however, once it is separated from him, it always deals with everything excellently, during the time closest to the letting go, but with the advance of time, and the onset of forgetfulness in itself, the ancient condition 273D of disharmony also exerts more power over it, and comes to full bloom towards the end of that era. Then mixing a little good with a considerable blend of its opposites, it gets to the point where both itself and whatever is within itself, are in danger of destruction. Therefore, at that stage, the god who had once put it in order, discerning the difficulties it is in, concerned lest it be storm-tossed by tribulations, break apart and sink beneath the boundless 273E ocean of diversity, takes his seat once more by its helm, and having reversed the diseases and weaknesses from the former revolution when it was subject to itself, brings order, sets it right and renders it immortal and unageing.

Now although that concludes all there is to be said, it is sufficient for the aspect that concerns the presentation of the king, to take note of the earlier part of the account. For once the universe had turned its course once more to the present process of generation, the direction of aging stood still once more, and new processes opposite to the previous ones were imposed. Those creatures, who were just on the point of vanishing due to their smallness, grew larger, while the bodies that were new-born from the earth with grey hair, died once more and went back down into the earth. And everything else changed, imitating and following along with 274A the tendencies of the universe; and indeed, in the case of conception, birth and development, their imitation was, of necessity, in conformity with all else. For it was no longer possible in earth for living beings to be brought forth through the agency of artificers other than themselves, rather, just as the cosmos had been directed to be the independent ruler of its own course, so too, on the same basis, its parts were directed to come forth, be born and develop, as best they could, under 274B similar guidance.

The entire account was initiated for a purpose and we have now attained it. Now in the case of the other animals, it would be a complex and lengthy process to recount, in each case, what they changed from and what caused the change. However, in the case of human beings it would be shorter and more appropriate. For when we became bereft of the care of the daimon who had acquired and tended us, most of the animals whose natures are troublesome turned wild and preyed upon the humans who had themselves become 274C weak and unprotected, and in those early years, were still devoid of ingenuity or skill, seeing that their spontaneous food source had failed them, and they did not yet know how to provide for themselves, because they had no compelling need to do so previously. They were facing enormous difficulties on account of all these issues. Hence, those gifts from the gods described of old have been bestowed upon us, along with the necessity for teaching and instruction: fire from Prometheus, 274D skills from Hephaestus and his fellow artisan, seeds and plants, in turn, from other gods. And everything else that has helped the organisation of human life has arisen from these. When, as we said just now, the care of the gods had failed for humanity, they had to maintain guidance and care of themselves by means of themselves, just like the entire world, which we are imitating and following, through all time as we live and grow, now in this manner, then in that other manner. So let that be the 274E end of the story, but we shall now make use of it in order to discern the extent of our error in presenting an account of the king and the statesman in the earlier discussion.

Y Soc: But how do you say our error occurred and what was the extent of it?

Str: In one sense it was more trivial but in another sense it was extremely significant and much greater and more extensive than I thought at the time.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: When we were asked about the king and statesman belonging to the current revolution, and manner of coming into being, we described the shepherd of the human herd belonging to the opposite cycle, 275A and he was a god rather than a mortal, and in this way we went completely wrong. However, when we presented him as ruling the entire city, we did not state the manner of such rule, and in that sense, although we did speak the truth, it was not stated comprehensively or clearly and, therefore, we were in error, but to a lesser extent than that.

Y Soc: True.

Str: Then once we have defined the manner of such rule over the city, we should expect, accordingly, to describe our statesman comprehensively.

Y Soc: Very good.

Str: 275B And it was for these reasons we included the myth, in order to point out not only that when it comes to herd nurture, everyone nowadays disputes over that title with the person we are looking for, but also to discern more clearly, based upon the example of shepherds and neatherds, the one person whom it is appropriate, in view of his care for the nurture of humanity, to deem worthy of this title alone.

Y Soc: Rightly so.

Str: And yet, Socrates, I really think that this figure of the divine herdsman is even greater than that of a king, 275C while the statesmen of the present day have natures much more like those whom they rule over, and they share in an education and nurture, closer to their subjects.

Y Soc: Entirely so, I presume.

Str: Yet they should be sought out, anyway, neither more nor less, whether they have the former or the latter nature.

Y Soc: They must.

Str: Then let’s go back once more to this point: we said that the “own-directing” skill as applied to living creatures exercised its care not individually but 275D collectively, and then we referred to it immediately as “herd-nurture” – you do remember?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Well, somehow we went badly wrong on this topic. Indeed we failed to include the statesman or to name him; rather he escaped our naming process without our noticing.

Y Soc: How?

Str: All the other herdsmen share in the nurture of their several herds; but although the statesman has no share in this process, we still applied 275E that name, when we should have applied, to all of them, some name they had in common.

Y Soc: What you say is true, if there happens to be such a name.

Str: Why wouldn’t “ministering” be somehow common to them all, as it is not defined in terms of nurture or any other particular activity? But if we called it “herd-minding” or ministration or caring, which is applicable to them all, we would have been able to include the statesman and the others simultaneously, and the argument indicated that this should be so.

Y Soc: 276A Correct, but in what manner would the next division be made?

Str: Based on the same divisions as before, when we divided herd-nurture by foot-borne, un-winged, unmixed in breed and hornless, and dividing “herd-minding” on the same basis, we would, presumably, be encompassing kingship of today, and of the age of Cronos alike, in our account.

Y Soc: Apparently, but I am still asking what comes next.

Str: It is obvious that if the word 276B “herd-minding” had been used in this context, the contention that there is no care whatsoever would never have occurred to us, which is just what happened when it was rightly contended, that in the case of humans, there is no skill worthy of the title “nurturing”, and even if there were such a skill, many people have a prior and better claim to it than any of our kings.[8]

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: But when it comes to the common care of humanity in its entirety, no other skill would wish to assert a prior and better claim than kingly 276C rule which is the rule of all human beings.

Y Soc: What you say is correct.

Str: And yet, Socrates, after all this, do we recognise that a considerable further error was made at the very end?

Y Soc: Of what sort?

Str: As follows: if we really did think that there was a skill of nurturing herds of bipeds, we should not have referred to it immediately as kingship or statesmanship with such finality.

Y Soc: What, then?

Str: Firstly, as we are saying, we should have changed the manner of the name, orienting it towards 276D care rather than nurture, and then made a cut in this. Indeed it still has capacity for significant cuts.

Y Soc: Of what sort?

Str: A cut, I presume, whereby we could have separated the divine shepherd and the human carer apart.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: And yet, it was necessary to cut the caring which has been parted off, into two once more.

Y Soc: Into what?

Str: Into enforced and voluntary.

Y Soc: Why so?

Str: 276E Well, I think this is how we went wrong previously when, proceeding more simplistically than we should, we treated the king and the tyrant as the same, although they are quite dissimilar in themselves and in the manner of their particular rule.

Y Soc: True.

Str: But now, correcting ourselves once more, should we make a twofold division of the care of humanity into enforced and voluntary, just as I said?

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: And presumably the herd minding of subjects who are forced is tyrannical, while the voluntary herd minding of willing two legged creatures should be called statesmanship, and we should affirm that the one who, for his part, possesses this skill and care is really a king and statesman.

Y Soc: 277A Indeed, stranger, it is likely that our exposition of the statesman may have reached a conclusion.

Str: That would be excellent for us, Socrates. But it is necessary for me to share these views with you, in common, so that they are not just your views. Right now, in my view anyway, it seems we have not yet arrived at a figure of the king that is complete. Rather, just as sculptors sometimes cause delay by rushing inappropriately to make greater and more numerous additions than necessary to parts of their work, 277B so too have we, presumably with the aim of presenting a quick and high-sounding demonstration of the error in our previous process, considered it appropriate to apply elaborate examples to the king, and drawing upon a wondrous chunk of the myth, we were compelled to employ a greater part of it than was necessary. Therefore, we have made the exposition longer, and have failed to bring a conclusion to the story fully. Indeed our account, just like a sketch of a living creature, has a fairly adequate outline 277C but has not yet been given actuality, as it were, from pigments and the blending of colours. But for those who are able to follow, it is more fitting to reveal every living creature through speech and argument rather than through drawing and all sorts of craftsmanship. But for everyone else, we should resort to craftsmanship.

Y Soc: That is correct, but please reveal the way in which according to you, we have not yet described this adequately.

Str: 277D It is difficult, my divine friend, to present anything of significance in an adequate manner without recourse to examples. For it is likely that each of us knows all that we know as though in a dream, and then again, when we really are awake, are ignorant of everything.

Y Soc: What do you mean by that?

 Str: Yes, in a strange way I seem, at the moment, to have raised the issue of the operation of knowledge within us.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: Blessed man, my example itself stands, in turn, in need of an example.

Y Soc: 277E Why so? Speak and do not hesitate on my account.

Str: Speak I must, since you are ready to follow. We know, I presume, that children, whenever they are first developing their skill in writing…..

Y Soc: What do we know?

Str: That they adequately recognise each of the letters in the shortest and easiest syllables, and become capable of speaking the truth in relation to those.

Y Soc: 278A Of course.

Str: And yet, they are doubtful about the very same letters in other syllables, and their opinions and formulations are false.

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: Now wouldn’t the easiest and best way to lead them on to what they do not yet recognise be as follows?

Y Soc: How is it done?

Str: Firstly, to take them back to those instances in which their opinions on these same letters were correct, and having done so, then place these alongside the ones they do not yet recognise 278B and, by comparing them, point out that there is the same common feature and characteristic present in both intertwinings, until such time as all the cases where their opinions are true have been shown alongside all of those they don’t know about. Accordingly, these act as examples that make them, in the case of all letters in all the syllables, refer to each as different insofar as it is different from the others, and as the same insofar as it is always the same as itself 278C in the same respect.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: So have we fully appreciated that example has its origin when something that is the same, is appreciated correctly, in a different separate context, and the two contexts being brought together, a single true opinion about each instance and both instances together is attained?

Y Soc: Apparently so.

Str: Well, would we be surprised if our soul, by nature, 278D underwent this same process in relation to the letters of the universe; sometimes standing in a true relation to each one in a particular case, then again, all at sea about all of them under different circumstances, somehow or other recognising some of the combinations correctly, but once these are transposed to the lengthy and difficult syllables of human affairs, she is ignorant once more of these same letters.

Y Soc: That would be nothing particularly surprising.

Str: How could anyone, my friend, who begins from false opinion, 278E arrive at even a small portion of truth, and acquire understanding?

Y Soc: That is well nigh impossible.

Str: Well, if that’s how things naturally operate, you and I would not go much astray if, having first attempted to discern the nature of example as a whole, we were to discern it, in turn, in a further minor example, and transposing these processes thereafter to the very important matter of the king, we were to apply the same format and proceed from the lesser. Thereafter we should endeavour through an example, by means of a skill, to understand the ministration towards those who live in a city, so that it becomes a waking reality for us and no mere dream.

Y Soc: That is surely correct.

Str: 279A Then we should take up that earlier argument once more, that since thousands dispute with the kingly class over the care of the city, it is necessary to separate off all these competitors and leave that single personage, and we said that to this end we do indeed need an example.

Y Soc: Very much so.

Str: Then what example, an insignificant one, involving the same activity as the statesman, might someone set beside it and discover 279B what we are seeking well enough? By Zeus, Socrates, if we have nothing else to hand, we could, if you wish, at least choose weaving, and if you agree, not all of it. In fact, the weaving of items made of wool will probably suffice. Indeed if we select it, this part of it is likely to furnish the testimony we desire.

Y Soc: Yes, why not?

Str: Then, why not do just what we did before, when we divided each object by cutting parts into parts. Let’s do the same thing 279C now in relation to weaving and, as best we can, go over everything again as briefly as possible, and arrive at what is useful to us now.

Y Soc: What do you mean?

Str: I shall make the exposition itself my answer to you.

Y Soc: Excellent.

Str: Well, in the case of everything we produce or acquire, some are for the purpose of doing something, while others are a defence against suffering something. Now some of the defences are antidotes, whether divine 279D or human, while others are barriers, and some of the barriers are military armaments, while others are screens, and some of the screens are covers, while others are protections against heat and cold, and some of the protections are shelters, others are blankets, and some of the blankets are carpets, while a different sort are garments, and some of the garments are cut from one piece, while a different sort are put together, and some of the put-together garments are sewn, while others are put together without 279E sewing, and some of those that are unsewn are made from the fibres of plants from the earth, others from hair, and some of those made from hair are held together by water or earth, while others bind themselves together by themselves. Now we give the name clothes to those blankets and defences produced from materials bound together by themselves, while the skill that is particularly concerned with clothes, in the exact same way that we once said statesmanship 280A is concerned with the city, this we should now refer to as clothes-making, naming it after the activity itself. And should we also state that weaving, insofar as it is for the most part the production of clothes, differs in nothing but name from that skill in clothes-making, just as in the other consideration, kingship did not differ from statesmanship?

Y Soc: You are absolutely right about that anyway.

Str: Yet we should recognise, after this, that once the weaving of garments 280B has been described in this way, someone might presume that it has been adequately described, because he is unable to understand, that although it has been distinguished from numerous other kindred skills, it has not yet been separated from its closest collaborators.

Y Soc: What sort of kindred skills do you mean?

Str: It appears you did not follow what was said, so it seems we must go back once more and begin where we ended. Yes, if you understand me, we have already cut off its closest relations, by separating the assembly of blankets into those that are wrapped around and those that are placed beneath.

Y Soc: I understand.

Str: 280C And indeed, we set aside all manufacturing out of flax or rushes and out of everything we described summarily just now as plant fibres. And furthermore, we set aside felt-making and the putting together that employs stitching and sewing, the most significant of which is shoe-making.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: And what’s more, leather-working ministers to blankets of one piece, and all those activities concerned with shelters, and any that are involved in house building, in carpentry as a whole, and in other skills 280D that protect against the influx of water, all these we set aside: also any skills concerned with shelters and which provide preventive products against theft and violent actions, and involve the making of lids and the fitting of doors and are designated as parts of the skill of joinery. We also cut away the making of armaments, which was a significant and extensive division of the barrier-making power. And indeed, at the very outset we separated off the entire skill of magic 280E that is concerned with antidotes, and we are left with what we take to be a defence against cold weather, the very skill we were looking for, the one that manufactures a woollen barrier and has been given the name weaving.

Y Soc: Yes, that’s how it seems.

Str: But, my boy, having said all this, it is still not complete, for the process involved at the start of the manufacture of clothing appears to do the opposite 281A of weaving.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: The process of weaving is presumably a kind of intertwining.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And yet, there is an initial process of breaking apart materials that have been combined and forced together.

Y Soc: What sort of process do you mean?

Str: The process associated with the skill of the carder of wool: or shall we dare to refer to carding as weaving or to the carder as though he were a weaver?[9]

Y Soc: Not at all.

Str: And indeed, if anyone refers to the production of the warp and the woof[10] as weaving, he is assigning a name that is both bizarre and false. 281B

Y Soc: He is indeed.

Str: What about this? Should we propose the entire skill of the fuller[11] and that of clothes-mending are not, in any sense, either the care of clothes or attention to them, or shall we also refer to these as weaving skills?

Y Soc: Not at all.

Str: And yet, these will all dispute with the power of the weaving skill about the attention to, and the production of clothes, conceding the largest part to that power, while allocating important parts to themselves too.

Y Soc: 281C Entirely so.

Str: Then, in addition to these claimants, it seems necessary that the skills that produce the instruments whereby the processes of weaving are accomplished, will also pretend to be at least contributory causes of everything that is woven.

Y Soc: Absolutely correct.

Str: Now, will our account dealing with the part of weaving we have selected be definite enough, provided we position the skill as “the noblest 281D and greatest of all those that are concerned with the care of woollen clothes,” or would we be stating something true, but neither clear nor complete, until we have also taken away all those skills that surround it?

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: So shouldn’t we go on to do what we are saying, so that our account may proceed in due order?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: Then we should first look at two skills that are involved in all activities.

Y Soc: What are they?

Str: The contributory cause of the production, and also the cause itself.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: 281E Contributory causes are those which do not produce the product itself, but provide instruments to those who do produce it, without which the activity allotted to each of the skills would never take place. However, those that bring the product itself into existence are causes.

Y Soc: Well, that makes sense, anyway.

Str: So after this, should we refer to all that is concerned with spindles, shuttles and any other instruments that are involved in the production of garments as contributory causes, and those that minister to and produce the garments themselves as causes?

Y Soc: Quite right.

Str: 282A Now in the realm of causes, since the skill of adorning is so extensive, it is probably best to include clothes-cleaning, clothes-mending and any ministration associated therewith as part of this, and assign all of it the name “the skill of the fuller”.

Y Soc: Very well.

Str: And indeed, carding and spinning and everything which, for its part, concerns the manufacture of the clothing itself, the parts of which we are describing, is a single skill, one whose name is familiar to everyone; wool-working.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 282B Now there are two divisions of wool-working and each of these is, at the same time, part of two skills.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: Carding and one half of the activity associated with the shuttle, and any processes that separate compounded things from one another, all these can presumably be said to belong, as one, to wool-working itself, and we said that there are two particular major skills applicable to everything; combination and separation.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Well, carding and all the activities we mentioned 282C just now are parts of the skill of separating, for the separation into wool and warp, arising in one way by means of the shuttle, and in another way by means of the hand, has acquired as many names as we mentioned a moment ago.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Then again, we should once more take a part of the skill of combining, a part that is at the same time a part of wool-working. Let’s set aside the entire skill of dividing we find there, and cut wool-working into two parts; separative and combinative.

Y Soc: Let the division be made.

Str: Then, Socrates, you should go on to divide the part 282D that at once involves combination and wool-working if we are going to properly apprehend the aforementioned skill of weaving.

Y Soc: So that’s what’s needed.

Str: It is needed, so let’s say that one part of it is twisting, while the other is intertwining.

Y Soc: If I understand you, you seem to be referring to the process involved in the production of the warp as twisting.

Str: Not only of the warp, but of the woof too; or shall we expect to find some origin for the woof that avoids twisting?[12]

Y Soc: Not at all.

Str: 282E Then you should also distinguish each of these two; for perhaps the distinction may prove opportune for you.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: As follows: are the products of the carding process, once they have been lengthened and have also acquired breadth, referred to as drawn wool?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Well, any of this that has been twisted by the spindle and has become hard yarn, you call warp yarn, and the skill that directs this, warp-spinning.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: While any threads that for their part, undergo a loose twisting, and possess a measure of softness appropriate to being woven into the warp, in view of the force applied in the dressing of the cloth, these we call woof yarn, and the skill 283A that presides over them we call woof-spinning.

Y Soc: Quite right.

Str: And so, the part of weaving which we have been pursuing is presumably evident to everyone by now. For whenever the combinative part that is involved in wool-working produces a web by directly intertwining woof and warp, the entire web is referred to as a woollen garment, and the skill set over it as weaving.

Y Soc: Quite right.

Str: 283B So be it. Now why ever did we not reply straight away that weaving was the twining of woof and warp, instead of going around in a circle, pointlessly, making a whole range of distinctions?

Y Soc: Well, stranger, nothing that was said seemed pointless to me, anyway.

Str: That is no surprise[13] but perhaps in time it may seem so. Well, to counteract such a malady as this, in case it ever afflicts you in future, which would be no surprise, listen to an argument which it is appropriate to state concerning 283C everything like this.

Y Soc: Please state it.

Str: Well, in the first place, let’s look at all excess and deficiency, so that we attribute praise and blame on a reasonable basis, on occasions when the speeches involved in discussions of this sort are longer than necessary, or the opposite.

Y Soc: That’s what’s needed.

Str: Well, if our discussion was about these issues themselves, I think it would be proceeding correctly.

Y Soc: About what issues?

Str: About length and brevity and all excess 283D and deficiency, for I presume that the skill of measurement is concerned with all these?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Then we should distinguish two parts of this, since that’s what is necessary for our present objective.

Y Soc: Please tell us how to make the division.

Str: As follows: one corresponds to the shared inter-relationship of greatness and smallness, and the other corresponds to the being necessary for becoming.

Y Soc: What do you mean?

Str: Well, don’t you think it is natural that the greater should be referred to as greater than nothing else except the lesser, and the lesser, for its part, 283E as less than nothing other than the greater?

Y Soc: I do.

Str: What about this? Won’t we say also that exceeding the nature of the measure and being exceeded by it, be it in word or deed, does actually happen, and this is how those who are good and those who are bad among us are chiefly distinguished?

Y Soc: Apparently so.

Str: So we should propose, then, that things can be, and can be judged to be, great and small in these two ways, but we should not state, as we did a moment ago, that they only relate to one another. Rather, as we are now saying, we should declare that they relate to one another but also to the measure. Would you like to understand, why we should say so?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 284A If we allow the nature of the greater to relate to nothing except to the lesser, it will never relate to the measure; is this so?

Y Soc: Quite so.

Str: In that case, won’t we destroy both the skills themselves and their products in their entirety by this argument and, what’s more, obliterate the statesmanship we are now seeking and the weaving we have been describing? For all such skills are, somehow, vigilant about excess and deficiency of the measure, regarding it, not as something that is not, but as something that is a difficult aspect of their activities, 284B and indeed, by so doing, they preserve the measure and make everything good and beautiful.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And if we should obliterate statesmanship, our subsequent search for the knowledge of kingship will be blocked.

Y Soc: Very much so.

Str: Then, just as in considering the sophist we compelled what is not, to be, when the argument got away from us on this issue, so too we must now compel the more and the less, for their part, to come to be measured, not only in relation to one another but also in relation to 284C the source of the measure. Indeed unless this has been agreed, it is not actually possible that a statesman or anyone else with knowledge of practical matters, should come into being in an undisputed manner.

Y Soc: In that case, as best we can, we must do the same thing now.

Str: This topic, Socrates, is more extensive than that earlier one, and you do remember how long that was! However, it is most appropriate to put forward the following hypothesis about them.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: 284D That what has been said now will be needed some time for the demonstration of the utmost precision. But for our present purposes what is being demonstrated beautifully and adequately seems to be supported magnificently by this argument of ours, whereby we should think that all the skills exist in like manner, and at the same time, that greater and less are to be measured, not only in relation to one another, but also in relation to the source of the measure. For if this measure exists then those skills exist, and if they exist then this also exists, and if either of these doesn’t exist, neither will ever exist.

Y Soc: 284E That’s right, but what comes after this?

Str: Obviously we would divide the skill of measurement in the manner stated, cutting it into two, and designating one part of it as all those skills that measure number, length, depth, breadth, and speed in relation to their opposites, while the other one measures them in relation to the measure, to what is appropriate, timely, necessary and whatever else betakes itself away from the extremes, towards the mean.

Y Soc: Yes, each of the divisions you describe are significant and very different from one another.

Str: Yes, Socrates, many refined thinkers, believing themselves to be stating 285A something wise, declare that measurement is concerned with everything that comes into being, and this is just what we are saying. For in a sense, everything that involves a skill partakes of measurement, and yet, because people are unaccustomed to investigation by dividing on the basis of forms, they immediately combine these together as the same, despite their degree of difference, since they regard them as similar; and they also do the opposite of this, separating what is different but not on the basis of its parts. What is necessary is that when someone first perceives 285B what is common to many, he should not desist at that stage, until he beholds therein all the differences that repose within their forms. On the other hand, when he beholds the variety of dissimilarities in multiplicities, he must be incapable of getting disconcerted, and stopping, until having brought all the kindred into one particular class of likeness, he encompasses them by essence.

Now let these statements concerning these matters suffice, and also those concerning deficiencies and excesses. However, let’s just note carefully 285C that two classes of measurement concerning these have been discovered, and let us remember what we say they are.

Y Soc: We shall remember.

Str: Well, after this account, we should entertain another consideration concerning the very things we are seeking, and concerning all conduct of discussions of this sort.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: Suppose someone were to ask us about a class of students learning their letters; whenever one of them is asked what letters make up a particular word, would we say that the query is presented 285D to him on that occasion, more for the sake of the word, the one he is presented with, or for the sake of his becoming more skilled in all words he comes across?

Y Soc: Obviously it is for the sake of becoming skilled in them all.

Str: And what about our present enquiry concerning the statesman? Has it been posed more for the sake of the personage himself, or for the sake of becoming more skilled in dialectic concerning everything?

Y Soc: In this case too, it is obviously for the sake of becoming more skilled in relation to everything.

Str: Yes, I presume that no one in his right mind would wish to pursue this account of weaving for the sake of the subject itself. But I think most people overlook the fact that readily comprehensible 285E likenesses, that are perceptible, are naturally present for some of the things that are, and it is not at all difficult to present these when one wishes to give an easy demonstration to someone who asks for an account thereof which is uncomplicated and non-verbal. However, in the case of the most significant and revered 286A of things that are, there is no image at all, wrought in clear view before humanity, by pointing to which someone who wishes to satisfy the soul of an enquirer, may do so in a satisfactory manner by attaching some aspect of our sense perceptions. Therefore, it is necessary to practise being able to give and to receive an account of each. For the things that are devoid of body, being the most beautiful and the most significant, are shown clearly by the word alone, and by nothing else, and all that we are now saying is said for the sake of those. But it is easier to practise anything 286B on lesser matters, rather than greater ones.

Y Soc: You have expressed that perfectly.

Str: Then let us recall the reasons why we have had so much to say about all this.

Y Soc: What were they?

Str: Not least was the aversion we felt over the lengthy account which dealt with weaving, and over the reverse-motion of the universe, and in the case of the sophist, the being of non-being, when we realised how very lengthy it was. And we rebuked ourselves 286C over all of this, fearing that we might be stating something over-elaborate as well as lengthy. So we should declare that everything we have said so far, was on account of these concerns, so that nothing of this sort would happen to us again.

Y Soc: Be it so; just say what comes next.

Str: Well, I say that it is necessary for you and I, remembering what has just been said, to allocate censure and praise, on each occasion, for the brevity, and at the same time, the length, involved in the expositions we so often deliver, by judging their length, not in relation to one another, but on the basis of the part of the skill of measuring 286D that we said we should remember; the relation to what is appropriate.

Y Soc: Rightly so.

Str: Yes, but this is not applicable in all cases, for we shall not have need of length which is added on for the sake of pleasure, except as a secondary consideration. And again, in relation to the inquiry into the issue before us, the argument directs us to favour the easiest and quickest approach as something we should seek out as a second priority, not as a first. First and foremost we should respect the method itself, whereby we are able to make divisions 286E on the basis of forms. And indeed, should a discussion prove inordinately lengthy, and yet, place the hearer in a better position to make discoveries, we should take it seriously and be untroubled by its duration, and the same applies if it is very short. Furthermore, besides these considerations, someone who criticises gatherings of this sort, due to the length of the discussions, and finds the circular course of the arguments hard to accept, should not be allowed to turn and go on the spot, in all haste, having levelled his criticism solely on the basis of the length 287A of what was said; no, he should also prove that we should accept that the people present would have been rendered more skilled in dialectic, and better at discovering the exposition of things that are, by an account, had the process been made shorter. As for the other criticisms and praises based on other criteria, we should not think about them, or even seem to hear such arguments at all.

Anyway, that’s enough on these issues, provided you agree with me on this; and so, we should go back to the statesman, and apply to him the example of weaving as described before.

Y Soc: 287B That is well expressed, and we should do as you say.

Str: Now the king has at least been separated from the many skills that are kindred, or rather, from all of those that are concerned with herds. What remains, we say, are the contributory causes, and the causes applicable to the city itself; and these we should first separate from one another.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: Now, do you realise that it is difficult to cut these in two? And believe the reason 287C will become evident, anyway, as we proceed.

Y Soc: In that case, we should do as you say.

Str: Then let’s divide it at its limbs, like a sacrificial animal, and since we are unable to make a division into two, we should always cut it into a number that is as close to two as is possible.

Y Soc: But how should we do so in this case?

Str: Just as we did before, when we designated all the skills that provide tools related to weaving as contributory causes.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And now we should do 287D the same thing, but more extensively than before. Indeed, whatever skills produce any significant or insignificant tools for the city, should all be designated as contributory causes, for without these neither city nor statesmanship would ever come into existence, yet, on the other hand, I presume we shall not designate any of these as belonging to the work of the skill of kingship.

Y Soc: No indeed.

Str: And indeed, we are undertaking a difficult task in separating this class from the others. For it is possible for someone to maintain that anything whatsoever is an instrument of something or other, and seem to be making 287E a persuasive case. Nevertheless, we should mention a particular one of the city’s possessions that is different.

Y Soc: In what sense?

Str: Insofar as it does not possess this ability to act as an instrument; for it is not constructed to act as a cause of some production, as is the case with an instrument, but constructed in order to preserve what has been produced.

Y Soc: What sort of thing is this?

Str: Well, this is a variegated object, wrought for dry goods, for liquids, for use on the fire and for general use. We call it by a single name, “vessel”, and this very commonplace object does not, in my view, belong at all to the knowledge we are looking for, 288A anyway.

Y Soc: No, how could it?

Str: Well, we should also take note of a third extensive object, different from these possessions of the city. It goes by land and by water, it wanders a lot and does not wander, it is worthy of reverence and unworthy of reverence, and yet, it bears a single name, because all are intended for sitting upon, and always act as a seat for someone.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: I presume we call it a carriage, so it is not really the work of statesmanship but much more of carpentry, pottery-making and bronze-working.

Y Soc: I understand.

Str: 288B What about a fourth? Should we say that there is something different from those three, one that includes most of what we mentioned some time ago;[14] all sorts of clothing, most armaments, walls, and all enclosures whether of earth or of stone and myriads of others? Since all these are produced for defensive purposes, it would be most appropriate to refer to them, as a whole, as a barrier, and to regard this more correctly as belonging much more to the work of the builder’s skill, or to weaving, for the most part, rather than statesmanship.

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

 Str: 288C And as a fifth, would we like to suggest adornment and painting and whatever imitations are effected through their use, and through music, which, having been produced solely for our pleasure, are quite rightly captured by a single name?

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: We do use the term “plaything”, I presume.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: Well, it will be appropriate to assign this one name to them all, for none of them have any serious purpose; rather, they are all done for the sake of amusement.

Y Soc: 288D That too is something I understand fairly well.

Str: And that which provides all these with the materials from which, and in which, any of the skills mentioned just now do their work; a variegated sort that owes its origin to many different skills; shall we designate this as a sixth?

Y Soc: What sort of thing are you referring to?

Str: Gold and silver and anything whatsoever that is mined, and whatever all felling and lopping of trees provides to carpentry and basket-weaving, through the cutting process; and again, the stripping of bark 288E from trees, and leather-working which strips the skins from the bodies of ensouled creatures, and any skills related thereto, and the ability to produce cork and papyrus and ropes, all these enable the manufacture of compounded forms, from classes that are not compounded. Let’s refer to it all as one, the primeval acquisition of humanity, uncompounded too, and in no way the work of kingly knowledge.

Y Soc: Very well.

Str: Then the acquisition of nutriment, and whatever mixes into the body and, mixing parts of itself with parts of the body, has some power to promote its health, 289A should be called the seventh, and we should give the name nurture to the totality, if we don’t have anything better to suggest. And if we place it entirely under farming, hunting, gymnastic, medicine and cookery rather than statesmanship, we shall be allocating it more correctly.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: Well, I think anything pertaining to acquisition, except that of tame animals, has been quite well described under these seven classes. Let’s review them. Indeed it would be most appropriate to place the primeval 289B form at the beginning, after this “instrument”, “vessel”, “carriage”, “barrier”, “plaything” and “nourishment”. But if we have omitted anything, it can be included in one of these, provided it is something insignificant that has been overlooked, such as the class made up of currency, seals and stamps of all sorts. For these in themselves do not constitute a significant common class, but if some are dragged into the category of adornments, others into that of instruments they will, despite the force, be entirely concordant therewith. Then everything concerned with the acquisition of tame animals, with the exception of slaves, turns out to have been encompassed by the herd-nurturing 289C skill that we divided into parts earlier.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: What remains are all slaves and underlings among whom, I somehow anticipate, those who dispute with the king over the woven web itself will become evident, just as earlier, those concerned with spinning and carding and all the others we mentioned, disputed with the weavers. But all the others, the contributory causes as we called them, have been disposed 289D of along with the works we listed just now and they have been separated off from the activity of kingship and statesmanship.

Y Soc: So they seem, anyway.

Str: Come on, let’s consider those who remain, by getting closer to them so that we may recognise them with more certainty.

Y Soc: That’s what’s needed.

Str: Then, from this perspective, we shall find the greatest servants possessing the opposite habit and character to those we anticipated.

Y Soc: Who are they?

Str: Those who are bought, and constitute acquisitions in this sense, whom we may indisputably 289E refer to as slaves, and who have the least pretentions to the kingly skill.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: But what about those who are free, but willingly assign themselves in servitude to the people we just mentioned, by conveying the works of agriculture and the other skills to one another and distributing them out, some resorting to the market-place, others travelling from city to city by sea and by land, exchanging money for goods and money for money, to whom we have given the name of money-changers, 290A merchants, ship-owners and retailers; surely they will not lay any claim to statesmanship?

Y Soc: Except, perhaps, insofar as it relates to trading.

Str: But surely those whom we see so readily serving anyone at all as hired labourers, for payment, would never be found laying claim to kingship.

Y Soc: No, how could they?

Str: But what about those who so often provide services of a different sort?

Y Soc: What services do you mean and to whom are you referring?

Str: 290B The people involved in communications and those who become wise in written matters through their constant service, and some others who are well able to work out numerous other issues relating to public offices; what shall we call these people?

Y Soc: Servants, as you explained just now; but they are not the people who rule in our cities.

Str: But I don’t think, anyway, that I was in a dream when I said that those who assert the strongest claim to statesmanship would somehow make their appearance in this. And yet, it does seem most unusual to look for them 290C in some subdivision of servitude.

Y Soc: Quite so.

Str: Then let’s get into closer contact with those who have not yet been scrutinised. There are people who possess a portion of some serviceable knowledge of prophecy. Indeed they are somehow regarded as interpreting from the gods to humanity.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And there is also the class of priests which, according to tradition, 290D is knowledgeable in bestowing gifts from us upon the gods, through sacrifices that are acceptable to them, and also in requesting from them, the acquisition of good things, for ourselves, through prayers. But both of these are part of a servile skill.

Y Soc: So it appears, anyway.

Str: Well, at this stage we seem to me to have encountered a sort of footprint of the person we are pursuing. For the personage associated with priests and prophets is well stocked with exalted notions, and acquires a reputation for sanctity because of the importance of what he engages in, so that in Egypt the King is not permitted to rule without being a priest. 290E And if even he attains the role in the first place, by forcing his way in, from some other class, it is still necessary for him to be initiated later on into the priestly class. And even among the Greeks, one would find that the performance of the most important sacrifices of this kind, are assigned to the most important office holders. And indeed, what I am saying is no less evident among yourselves here, for it is said that the performance of the most solemn and most traditional of the ancient sacrifices is allocated to the king whom you choose by lot.[15]

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: 291A Then we should investigate these kings chosen by lot who are also priests, and their servants, and another extensive crowd of people who have become evident to us, now that the previous candidates have been set aside.

Y Soc: What people are you referring to?

Str: Some very unusual people, indeed.

Y Soc: Why so?

Str: They appear, as I now see it, to belong to an extremely varied class. For many of these men resemble lions, centaurs 291B and other such creatures, very many more are like satyrs, and those weak creatures that adopt many guises; and they rapidly assume each other’s characteristics and ability. And indeed, Socrates, I think I have just appreciated who these men are.

Y Soc: Please tell us, for you seem to have discerned something unusual.

Str: Yes, for in all cases, the unusual is a consequence of ignorance. Indeed, I also experienced this myself just now; I was suddenly thrown into doubt when I beheld 291C the chorus concerned with the affairs of our cities.

Y Soc: What did you see?

Str: The greatest beguiler among all the sophists and the person most experienced in this skill; someone who, despite the extreme difficulty of doing so, must be separated from those who really are statesmen and kings, if we are going to catch clear sight of what we are looking for.

Y Soc: Then we really must not relent in this.

Str: Certainly not, not in my view, anyway. So tell me this.

Y Soc: What?

Str: 291D Isn’t monarchy, for us, one mode of civic rule?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: I think someone might propose that the exercise of power by a few people comes after monarchy.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And isn’t the rule of the multitude the third form of constitution, referred to by the name “democracy”?

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: And being three, don’t they, in some sense, become five, engendering two other names from themselves in addition to their own?

Y Soc: What are they?

Str: 291E Nowadays people focus upon the degree of compulsion and willingness, poverty and wealth, law and lawlessness, arising in these and, dividing each of them into two, they refer to monarchy by two names, on the basis that it constitutes two forms, the tyrannical and the kingly.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And whenever the city is under the power of the few, it is called aristocratic or oligarchic.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: And yet, in the case of democracy, whether the multitude rules over the possessors of wealth by force or with their consent, 292A or whether they pay close attention to the laws or not, it is not the usual practice for anyone to change its name.

Y Soc: True.

Str: What now? Do we think that any of these constitutions is the right one when it is defined based on these distinctions between one, few and multitude, wealth and poverty, compulsion and willingness, and whether it happens to operate under written laws or without such laws?

Y Soc: Is there any particular reason why not?

Str: 292B Well, consider it more clearly by following this argument.

Y Soc: Which?

Str: Shall we stand by what we said at the outset, or shall we dispute it?

Y Soc: What are you referring to?

Str: We said, I believe, that kingly rule is one of the branches of knowledge.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And it did not belong to all of them, rather we preferred one that was judgemental and one that was directive, over the others.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And from the directive category we selected one that applied to inanimate products, and another that applied to living beings. 292C And so, making divisions in this manner, we have been continually approaching this point where, without losing sight of knowledge, we are as yet unable to adequately describe precisely what the knowledge is.

Y Soc: What you are saying is correct.

Str: So do we appreciate this particular point, that the definition of these constitutions involves neither few nor many, willingness nor unwillingness, neither poverty nor wealth, rather, if we are to be guided by our previous discussion, it involves some type of knowledge?

Y Soc: 292D But of course, it is impossible to conclude otherwise.

Str: Then it is now necessary to consider this issue in this way: in which of these constitutions, if any, does it turn out that knowledge of the rule of humanity arises; perhaps the most important knowledge and the most difficult to acquire? For we need to see this, so that we may behold certain people who must be separated from the sagacious king, people who pretend to be statesmen and who persuade many others of this, but are not statesmen at all.

Y Soc: Yes, that’s what must be done, since our argument has said so.

Str: 292E Now, do you think that a large number of people in the city are able to acquire this knowledge?

Y Soc: No, how could they?

Str: Well, in a city of a thousand men, could some hundred, or even fifty, acquire it in an adequate manner?

Y Soc: On that basis, anyway, it would be the easiest skill of them all. Indeed, we know that among a thousand men you wouldn’t even find that number of first-class draughts players, in relation to the other Greek cities, let alone kings. For based upon the previous argument, 293A it is surely necessary for someone who possesses knowledge of kingship to be referred to as kingly anyway, whether he exercises rule or not.

Str: You have remembered that very well: and following on from this, it is necessary, I believe, to look for right rule associated with one particular person, or two, or extremely few, whenever such rule arises.

Y Soc: Why, of course.

Str: Yes, but these people, whether they rule over consenting or un-consenting subjects, whether on the basis of written laws or without written laws, whether they themselves be wealthy or poor, must be regarded as exercising whatever rule they exercise on the basis of a skill according to our present view. 293B And we do not regard physicians as less than physicians whether they cure us with our consent or without it, whether by cutting, burning or applying some other painful cure, whether they work from written guidelines or without them, whether they are poor or wealthy, in all these cases we declare that they are physicians, nonetheless, as long as their directions are based upon a skill. This may involve purifying, or otherwise reducing or even adding bulk to the body, but once these are directed to some good of our bodies, making them better when they were worse, the individual 293C practitioners preserve the lives of the people they treat. On such a basis, I believe, and on no other, shall we propose that this alone is the correct definition of the rule of medicine and of any other rule whatsoever.

Y Soc: Exactly.

Str: And it must also be the case with constitutions, or so it seems; the one that is pre-eminently correct, and is alone a constitution, is the one in which we would find that the rulers are truly knowledgeable and do not merely seem so, whether they rule based upon laws or in the absence of laws, with their subjects’ consent or without it, and whether they themselves be poor or wealthy; 293D none of these should be taken into consideration as a correct criterion.

Y Soc: Very well.

Str: And whether they purify the city, for its benefit, by putting some people to death or casting them out, or even make it smaller by sending out colonies to somewhere, like swarms of bees, or make it bigger by bringing others in from outside and granting them citizenship, as long as they have recourse to knowledge and to justice, preserve it from decline and, to the best of their ability, make it better, 293E we should declare that this constitution, in that situation, and based upon such criteria, is the only correct one. Any others we mention should not be referred to as genuine, as they are not really constitutions; no, they are imitations of this one. Those that we call well-ordered have imitated it better, while the others have imitated it quite badly.

Y Soc: For the most part, stranger, that seems to have been a reasonable description. However, hearing it said that we should rule without laws presented a greater difficulty.

Str: You are a little ahead of me with your question, Socrates, for 294A I was about to question you as to whether you would accept all this, or had misgivings over some of what had been said. But it is now evident already that you will want us to discuss this issue of the rightness of exercising rule without laws.

Y Soc: It is inevitable.

Str: Now, in a sense, it is obvious that lawmaking belongs to kingship, yet the best course is not for the laws to prevail, but for a man who is kingly and possesses wisdom to prevail. Do you know why that is?

Y Soc: Please tell me why?

Str: Because a law would never be able to comprehend what is best and most just for 294B everyone at the same time in precise terms, and then institute what is best. For the dissimilarities between people and their activities, and the fact that nothing in human affairs ever really comes to rest, prevents any skill whatsoever, in any situation, from proclaiming anything simple that is applicable under all circumstances and for all time. Presumably we are agreed about that?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And yet, we see the law striving 294C to do just this, much like a stubborn, unlearned person, who allows no one to do anything at variance with his instruction, or to ask any question, even if something new and better occurs to someone, at variance with the pronouncement he has instituted.

Y Soc: This is true; indeed, the law actually behaves toward each and every one of us in the very manner you describe.

Str: Isn’t it impossible for something that is entirely simple to be adequately applied to situations that are never simple?

Y Soc: Quite likely.

Str: Then, why ever is it necessary to make laws, when 294D the law is never perfectly right? We must find out the reason for this.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: Don’t you also have here, as they do in other cities, courses of instruction for groups of people, relating to the running track or elsewhere, motivated by a desire to win?

Y Soc: Very much so; there are a lot of them.

Str: Come now, let’s once again recollect the instructions of the skilled trainers when they are in such positions of authority.

Y Soc: What sort of instructions?

Str: They don’t believe it is possible to go into detail about each individual case, and prescribe what is appropriate to each particular body; rather, they think it necessary to issue a rough 294E guideline that is beneficial to bodies in general, and applies in most cases.

Y Soc: Good.

Str: Accordingly, they usually assign equal physical exertion to entire crowds, urging them all on at the same time and stopping them all at the same time, whether they are running or wrestling or undertaking any other physical exertions.

Y Soc: That’s what they do.

Str: Then we should also presume that the lawmaker who directs this herd of ours in matters of justice and their dealings with one another, 295A when giving orders to entire crowds of people, will never really be capable of giving every single person precisely what is appropriate.

Y Soc: That sounds reasonable, anyway.

Str: Rather he will, I believe, set down a law for everyone, anyway, and it will somehow, for the most part, be roughly appropriate to each individual. These he will issue in writing, and in unwritten form, legislating by means of ancestral traditions.

Y Soc: Correct.

Str: Correct indeed, Socrates; for how could anyone ever 295B arrange to sit beside each person, constantly, throughout their life and instruct them precisely as to what is appropriate for them? In fact if he were capable of doing this, it is hardly likely, in my view, that anyone who had actually acquired the knowledge of kingship would ever create obstacles for himself by writing down these laws we have referred to.

Y Soc: Yes, stranger, on the basis of what we are now saying, anyway.

Str: And even more so, best of men, on the basis of what we are about to say.

Y Soc: On what basis is that?

Str: On some such basis as this: let’s 295C take the example of a physician, or even a gymnastic trainer, who intends to be abroad and away from those he is looking after for a considerable time, or so he believes. If he thought that the sick people, or those undergoing training, would not remember his instructions, would he write down some reminders for them, if wanted to? What would we say?

Soc: Just that.

Str: And what if he were to come back again, having been abroad for less time than expected? Would he lack the courage to propose alternatives to those written instructions, if others turned out to be better for the sick 295D people, because winds or something else from Zeus had somehow arisen unexpectedly in an unusual manner? Would he be stubborn and think that we should not step outside the ancient edicts once they have been set down, either by proposing alternatives himself or by the patient daring to act contrary to the written directions, as these are the principles of medicine and health, and whatever is done differently is unhealthy and is not based upon those skills? Or would everything of this sort, at least when it occurs in the case of knowledge and true 295E skill in all subjects, render such ordinances completely and utterly ridiculous?

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Consider the case of the person who has written laws, or framed unwritten laws, concerning just and unjust behaviour, noble and base practices, good and bad actions, intended for herds of human beings, who are herded in their particular cities based upon the laws of these writers. Is it really not 296A permissible for different instructions, at variance with these, to be issued by the person who has the relevant skill and has written them down, or someone else like him who arrives on the scene? Or would this prohibition, in truth, appear every bit as ridiculous as the previous one?

Y Soc: Of course it would.

Str: Now, do you know the argument that most people present in such a circumstance?

Y Soc: Nothing relevant comes to mind at the moment.

Str: Well, it sounds plausible enough, for they declare, that if someone realises that there are laws at variance with those of former generations but better, he may institute his laws once he has persuaded his own city in each case, but not otherwise.

Y Soc: What about that? Is it not the right way to proceed?

Str: 296B Perhaps, but what if someone were to enforce the better course, without using persuasion? Tell me what the name of that enforcement will be. But no, not yet; answer in relation to the previous example first.

Y Soc: What are you referring to?

Str: Suppose some physician, in proper possession of the relevant skill, but without persuading the patient, were to compel a man, or even a woman or child, to do what is better in contravention of the written precepts; what will be the name of this kind of force? Won’t it be far removed from the error we described as “contrary to the relevant skill” and unhealthy? And the person who suffered such force may justifiably 296C say anything at all about what happened, but may never say that he has suffered unskilled and unhealthy treatment at the hands of the physicians who forced them.

Y Soc: What you say is perfectly true.

Str: What then is the error that we refer to as being at variance with the skill of statesmanship? Isn’t it baseness, evil and injustice?

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Well, what about those who have been forced, contrary to written edicts and traditions, to perform other actions, more just, better and more noble than those prescribed of old? 296D What, for his part, could a critic of such behaviour say about such use of force, if he is to avoid becoming utterly laughable? He may say anything at all, as the occasion demands, provided he never says that those who were forced to act in that way, suffered baseness or evil or injustice at the hands of those who forced them.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: But are the enforcements just, if the person who exerts the force is wealthy, and are they unjust, if he is poor? Or if the person, rich or poor, achieves something beneficial, either through persuasion or without persuasion, in conformity with the written laws 296E or at variance with them, the truest definition of proper management of the city in this respect must surely be this: the one that a wise and good man will employ to manage the affairs of his subjects. Just as a helmsman, being constantly vigilant for the welfare 297A of the ship and its sailors, preserves his fellow sailors, not by setting down written edicts, but by presenting his skill as law: so too, based upon the same approach as this, a constitution may become a proper one on account of those who are able to rule in this way, since through their skill, they provide a force that is more powerful than the laws. And those who rule intelligently, no matter what they do, avoid error as long as they are vigilant of one major principle: that they always dispense perfect justice based upon reason and skill 297B to the people of the city, and are able as far as possible, to preserve them and make them better people than they were.

Y Soc: It is impossible to oppose what you have just said.

Str: Nor indeed, should anyone contradict those other statements of ours.

Y Soc: What are you referring to?

Str: That no large number of people of any sort would ever be able to acquire this kind of knowledge, and manage the city on the basis of reason. Rather, it is in relation to something small, few, even the one, that we must 297C seek for that single proper constitution, and we must designate the others as imitations thereof and, just as we stated a little earlier, some imitate it quite well, others quite badly.

Y Soc: How am I to understand what you have said? In fact I didn’t really understand your earlier statement about imitations either.

Str: And indeed, it would be no trivial matter if someone, having initiated this line of argument, were then to set it aside and not even develop it to demonstrate the error that is arising 297D about this issue at the moment.

Y Soc: What sort of error?

Str: We need to look for the kind of thing that is not particularly familiar or easy to see, and we should endeavour to lay hold of it nevertheless. Come on then, consider this constitution we have described, the only correct one: you know that the other constitutions must have recourse to the written laws of this one, and be preserved in this way by acting in a manner that is praised nowadays, even though it is not entirely correct to do so.

Y Soc: What is it that is not entirely correct?

Str: 297E The notion that no one in the city should dare to do anything at variance with the laws, and whoever dares to do so should be punished by death and all sorts of extreme penalties. And yet, this is entirely proper and appropriate as a second preference whenever there is a departure from the first, the one we have described just now. So let’s explain the manner in which this so-called second best system has come into being. Shall we?

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: Then let’s revert once more to the images, to which it has frequently been necessary to compare the kingly rulers.

Y Soc: What were they?

Str: The noble helmsman, and the physician who is worth as much as a thousand others; yes, let’s see if we can construct some outline based upon the people themselves.

Y Soc: Of what sort?

Str: 298A As follows: suppose we were all to form the notion that we are suffering outrageous treatment at the hands of these people; for they both, in like manner, preserve any of us whom they wish to preserve, and mistreat any whom they wish to mistreat. They do this by cutting us, burning us and imposing charges to be paid to them, like a tax, out of which they spend a little or even nothing upon the patient, while they and their members make use of 298B the rest. And what’s more, they finally take money from relations, or some enemies of the patient, as payment, and then kill him. The helmsmen, for their part, perform countless other outrages of the same sort. They form conspiracies and abandon us on sea voyages, cause shipwrecks on the oceans and cast us into the sea, and perpetrate other misdeeds. Now suppose, bearing these afflictions in mind, we were to decide upon a resolution in this regard, no longer to entrust 298C autocratic rule to either of these two professions, neither over slaves nor over free men: a resolution to convene an assembly of ourselves, either of the entire populace or of the wealthy people alone, and to permit private citizens and the various professions to contribute an opinion on sea-faring, and on disease, and on how we should employ drugs and medical instruments in relation to the treatment of the sick, and indeed, about the ships themselves, and the nautical 298D equipment we should use on those ships in the face of dangers affecting the voyage itself, from wind and sea or also from encounters with pirates, or even perhaps in a sea battle that has to be fought in longboats against other vessels of that kind: a resolution whereby the opinions of the majority on these matters, whether the advisers be physicians, helmsmen or private citizens, once written down on wooden or stone tablets, or established as unwritten 298E traditional practices, are to be the basis for navigating ships and for treating the sick, now and forever, for all time.

Y Soc: You have described some very odd notions.

Str: Yes, and rulers of the people are to be appointed annually, drawn either from the wealthy classes or from the general population; and the rulers, once appointed, should rule according to the written edicts in steering the ships and healing the sick.

Y Soc: This is even more difficult to accept.

Str: Then consider what happens after this. For in each case, once the annual term of the rulers has passed, it is necessary to set up a court consisting of men, either preselected 299A from the wealthy classes or chosen by lot from the general population. The outgoing rulers must be brought before these people for scrutiny of their conduct, and anyone who wishes may accuse them of not navigating the ships, during their year in office, in accord with the written edicts, or in accord with the ancient practices of our ancestors; and the same goes for those who were treating the sick. And the court must decide what penalty or fine should be imposed upon those who are voted down.

Y Soc: Surely anyone who desires to rule 299B and is willing to do so under such circumstances, would fully deserve to suffer any penalty at all, or be fined any amount whatsoever.

Str: And what’s more, it will be necessary to institute a law, applicable to everything of this sort, whereby anyone who is found to be investigating helmsmanship, navigation, health, and the truth of medical science in relation to the breaths or heat and cold, in a manner contrary to the written edicts, and is becoming in any way wise on such matters must, in the first place, be referred to neither as a physician nor as a helmsman, but as a star-gazer or a babbling sophist. Secondly, anyone who is permitted to do so may drag him into some courtroom, charged with corrupting younger people and persuading them to practise helmsmanship and medicine 299C without regard to law, and ruling over ships and sick people in an autocratic manner. And if he is presumed to have persuaded anyone, young or old, to act contrary to the laws that have been written, he must be punished with the most extreme penalties, for none should be wiser than the laws. Nor indeed, need anyone be ignorant of medicine and health, or helmsmanship and navigation, for anyone who wishes is permitted to learn the written enactments and the traditional 299D practices that are in place.

Well, what if the requirements that we are describing were to apply in the case of these two branches of knowledge, Socrates, and also to generalship, to all forms of hunting whatsoever, and to painting or any part at all of the imitative arts, and to carpentry or to manufacturing as a whole, regardless of the kind, or even to agriculture and to the entire skill that is concerned with plants, or we might also imagine it applying to some kind of horse keeping that proceeds upon written edicts, to the entire business of herd-minding, to prophecy and every aspect encompassed by service, 299E to draught-playing, or to the entire science of number whether pure, or as applied to flat surfaces, solids or moving objects; what precisely would the outcome be, if all of these were conducted in such a manner as to operate on the basis of written edicts and not on the basis of the relevant skill?

Y Soc: It is obvious that all of the skills would completely cease to exist for us, and could never come back into existence again, because of this law prohibiting the conduct of investigation; so that life, which is difficult even now, would, at that stage, not be worth living at all.

Str: 300A What about this? If we were to insist that each of the activities we mentioned be conducted according to the written edicts, and that someone be elected or chosen by lot to oversee those edicts, and yet this person, disregarding the edicts either for the sake of profit or to do some private favour, were to undertake a different course of action contrary thereto, devoid of understanding; wouldn’t this evil be even greater than the previous evil?

Y Soc: That’s very true, anyway.

Str: 300B Indeed, in my view, the laws rest upon considerable experience, and in each case certain advisers have given their counsel in a pleasing manner and have persuaded the populace to adopt them, so anyone who dares to act contrary to these would be perpetrating an even more grievous error, and would be subverting all human action to an even greater extent than any adherence to written laws.

Y Soc: Yes, that is inevitable.

Str: 300C Accordingly, the second best course for those who enact laws and written edicts on any matter at all, is to allow no single person or any group ever to do anything whatsoever that is contrary to those laws.

Y Soc: Rightly so.

Str: Wouldn’t these be imitations of the truth, in each case, as received from those who know, and written down insofar as this can be done?

Y Soc: It must be so.

Str: And indeed, we said if you remember, that the one who knows, the person who is actually a statesman, will use his skill to perform a great variety of actions relevant to his own activity, disregarding the written edicts whenever an alternative 300D seems better to him, even if it is contrary to his own written directions to other people who are not present.

Y Soc: Indeed, we said so.

Str: Now, wouldn’t anyone at all, one person or any group of people, who is faced with established laws and undertakes some different course of action contrary to those laws, because such a course is better, be doing, to the best of their ability, the same thing that a true statesman does?

Y Soc: Yes, certainly.

Str: Now, if they were to do this sort of thing without being knowledgeable, they would endeavour to imitate the truth but 300E would imitate it extremely badly. Alternatively, if they possessed the relevant skill, this would no longer be an imitation but the original itself, the very truth.

Y Soc: Entirely so, I suppose.

Str: And indeed, from our earlier discussion anyway, there is an agreement between us that no large group of people is capable of acquiring any sort of skill whatsoever.

Y Soc: That agreement still stands.

Str: Therefore, if there is a kingly skill, wealthy people, in general, and the entire populace could not ever acquire this knowledge of statesmanship.

Y Soc: No, how could they?

Str: Then it seems that if such constitutions as these, intend, 301A as best they can, to be good imitations of that constitution ruled by a single person possessed of skill, they should never enact anything contrary to the written edicts and traditional practices, once their own laws are in place.

Y Soc: What you have said is excellent.

Str: So whenever the wealthy people imitate this, we then call a constitution of this sort an aristocracy; and when they pay no heed to the laws, we call it an oligarchy.

Y Soc: Quite likely.

Str: Yes, and whenever a single person on the basis of the laws, imitates 301B the one who knows, we call him a king, making no distinction, by name, between the one who exercises sole rule on the basis of the laws by means of knowledge, and the one who does so by means of opinion.

Y Soc: That’s what we are likely to do.

Str: Therefore if a single person who really is knowledgeable happens to rule, he will, unequivocally, be given the same name, king, and no other. Consequently, the five names of what are now called constitutions become just one.

Y Soc: So it seems, anyway.

Str: And what about a situation where a single person rules 301C in accord neither with the laws nor the traditions, and pretends to be a person who knows by arguing that it is really necessary to act contrary to the written edicts and do what is best, and some passion and ignorance dominate this particular imitation? Surely we must refer to any such person in that situation as a tyrant?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: So we are saying that a tyrant arises in this way, a king too, and an oligarchy, an aristocracy, and a democracy; from the disgust of humanity with that one sole ruler, and their disbelief that anyone worthy of such rule could ever arise; someone who would be willing and able to rule with knowledge and excellence, 301D dispensing just and sacred ordinances properly to everyone, rather than maltreating, murdering and inflicting evil upon whomsoever he wants, whenever he wants. But if a person such as we are describing were to arise, he would be loved, and would dwell there as the benevolent helmsman of what is, strictly speaking, the only proper constitution.

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: But nowadays, when as we say 301E a king does not arise in our cities in the way that a single queen-bee springs up in a hive of bees, immediately distinct both in body and in soul, we need to gather together and write down our ordinances, in pursuit, it seems, of the traces of the truest constitution.

Y Soc: Quite likely.

Str: So, Socrates, need we wonder at the extent of the evil that arises and will continue to arise in such constitutions, when they are based upon such a foundation as this: the performance 302A of actions in accord with written edicts and customs not accompanied by knowledge, when it is obvious to everyone that any other skill conducted in this way would ruin its very own productions? Or should we wonder instead at something else: at how naturally strong a city is? Of course our cities have now been suffering under such behaviour for countless ages, and yet, some in particular are stable and are not overthrown. However, on occasion, many of them flounder like ships and perish, or have perished, or shall yet perish, because of the depravity of the helmsmen and the sailors, who have attained a huge level of ignorance in relation to matters of the utmost importance, 302B who are not knowledgeable about matters of statesmanship in any respect, but think, that of all branches of knowledge, they have acquired this skill with the utmost clarity in every respect.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: Now then, which of these improper constitutions is the least difficult to live under, accepting that all of them are difficult, and which is the most oppressive? Is this something we should look at even though it is a secondary consideration compared to what is now before us? And yet, on the whole, it is likely that everything we do is motivated by such a consideration.

Y Soc: We should do as you say, of course.

Str: 302C Then we should declare that of those three constitutions, the same one is both exceptionally difficult and easy at the same time.

Y Soc: How do you mean?

Str: I am just saying that monarchy, rule of the few, and rule of the many were the three constitutions we mentioned at the beginning of the current influx of discussion.

Y Soc: They were, indeed.

Str: Then cutting each one of these in two we would produce six, keeping the correct one separate from these as a seventh.

Y Soc: How?

Str: 302D From monarchy we get the kingly and the tyrannical subdivisions, then, in turn, from rule not involving many we get aristocracy, which we said has a good reputation, and also oligarchy, and furthermore, in the case of the rule of many, we proposed at the time simply to call it democracy, but now we must also propose a twofold aspect for this.

Y Soc: In what way and dividing it on what basis?

Str: No differently from the others, even if its name is already single; 302E there is, nevertheless, rule according to law and rule contrary to law, both under this constitution and under the others.

Y Soc: There is, indeed.

Str: Now, when we were searching for the right constitution, this division was not useful, as we demonstrated in our previous discussion. However, once we have set that constitution aside, and have proposed that the others are necessary, then the criteria of ruling contrary to law or lawfully, divide each of these constitutions in two.

Y Soc: So it seems, now that you have presented this argument.

Str: Well then, monarchy, when yoked to good written ordinances which we call laws, is the best of the six. But when it is lawless, it is the most oppressive and difficult constitution to live under.

Y Soc: 303A Quite likely.

Str: Then again, just as few are intermediate between one and many, so the rule of the “not many” should be regarded accordingly as intermediate in both respects. The rule of the many, for its part, is weak in every respect and, in comparison with the others, is capable neither of great good nor of great evil, because public offices therein are distributed in minute subdivisions to many people. Therefore, when all of the constitutions are lawful, this proves to be the worst of them, and when they are all at variance with the law, it is the best, 303B and when all of them lack restraint, the life in a democracy wins out, but when they are orderly, this is the last one you should live in. But life in the first is by far the best, with the exception of the seventh, for we must separate that one from all of the other constitutions, as we would separate a god from human beings.

Y Soc: It appears that these conclusions follow and that’s how matters stand. So we should do exactly as you say.

Str: In that case, we should set aside those who have a common involvement in all these constitutions, 303C except the one based on knowledge, as not being statesmen but seditious influences presiding over vast images; indeed, they are such themselves and, being the greatest imitators and beguilers, they prove to be the greatest sophists of all the sophists.

Y Soc: It seems that this epithet is being turned quite rightly against the so-called statesmen.

Str: So be it; this has really been like a play for us. Some troop 303D of centaurs and satyrs was coming into view, as we said earlier, and had to be separated from the skill of statesmanship, and it has now been separated in this extremely difficult manner.

Y Soc: So it appears.

Str: But there is something remaining that presents an even greater difficulty than this, as it is more akin to the kingly class and also harder to understand. Indeed, we appear to me to be in a similar predicament to those who refine gold.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: Presumably those craftsmen firstly separate out the earth and stones and numerous other substances, and after this, valuable admixtures akin to gold remain; 303E copper and silver and, on occasion, adamant which are separable only by fire. Once these have been separated with difficulty, by repeated proving and smelting, we are allowed to behold what we call unadulterated gold alone, just by itself.

Y Soc: Yes indeed, that is how these processes are said to operate.

Str: Well, according to the same account, it seems we too have separated off the others who are alien to, and lacking affinity with, the knowledge of statesmanship, leaving behind the valuable and the kindred. These presumably include generalship, legal affairs, and any rhetoric that cooperates with kingship, 304A persuades people of what is just, and takes a share in steering the affairs of our cities. So in what way may someone easily separate these off, and display that object of our search, naked and alone just by itself?

Y Soc: This is obviously what we should, somehow, try to do.

Str: Then if it’s only a matter of trying, he will be made evident; and we should attempt to reveal him by recourse to music. Tell me something.

Y Soc: What is it?

Str: 304B There is presumably some process of learning music and a knowledge of manual skills in general?

Y Soc: There is.

Str: What about the further issue of whether it is necessary for us to learn any of these subjects or not? Shall we say that this, for its part, is also knowledge concerning the subjects themselves? What should we say?

Y Soc: Just that: we should say that it is.

Str: Won’t we agree that this form of knowledge is different from the previous ones?

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And should none of these rule any of the others; 304C or should the others rule this one; or should this one manage and rule all of the others?

Y Soc: This one should rule them.

Str: So are you of the view anyway that according to us, the knowledge that decides whether we should learn certain subjects or not, must rule over whatever knowledge is learned and taught?

Y Soc: Very much so.

Str: And should the knowledge of whether it is necessary to persuade or not, rule over the knowledge of the ability to persuade?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: So be it; now to what form of knowledge shall we assign the ability to persuade crowds 304D and groups by telling them stories, rather than by teaching them?

Y Soc: I think that this too is obvious: it should be assigned to rhetoric.

Str: And the issue of whether we should perform any action whatsoever towards anyone by means of persuasion, or by some use of force, or even leave them entirely undisturbed; with which form of knowledge shall we associate this?

Y Soc: With the knowledge that rules over the knowledge of persuasion and speech.

Str: And that in my view, would be nothing other than the power of the statesman.

Y Soc: Well said.

Str: Then it seems we have quickly separated this rhetoric 304E from statesmanship, as being a different form, subservient thereto.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: And what view should we hold, in turn, in relation to a power of the following kind?

Y Soc: What kind?

Str: The power over how we should wage war against those whom we have chosen to fight against: does this involve a skill or is it devoid of skill?

Y Soc: But how could we regard it as devoid of skill, when it is a power exercised by generalship and military science in its entirety?

Str: And the power that is able to deliberate knowledgeably on whether we should wage war or withdraw in friendship, should we understand this as different from that, or the same as that?

Y Soc: To anyone following the previous discussion, it must be different.

Str: 305A In that case, shall we declare that it rules over the other one, if in fact we are going to understand it in a manner similar to the previous examples?

Y Soc: I agree.

Str: Now what exactly shall we undertake to put forward, in like manner, as mistress of a great and fearsome skill, the art of war in its entirety, unless it really is the skill of kingship?

Y Soc: None other.

Str: So we shall not propose that the knowledge belonging to the generals is statesmanship, since it is subservient.

Y Soc: We are unlikely to do so.

Str: 305B Come on then, let’s look at the power possessed by those judges who make their judgements correctly.

Y Soc: Very well.

Str: Now is this power able to do anything more than take the lawfully established ordinances that it receives from the lawmaker-king, and make judgements on the basis of these, by considering which arrangements are just and which are unjust, bringing to bear its own particular excellence, whereby it would not be prepared to decide upon any issue between people in a manner contrary to the ordinances of the law maker, having been corrupted 305C by some bribes, by fear, or by lamentations, or any kind of enmity or friendship?

Y Soc: No, you have pretty well explained how far the function of this particular power extends.

Str: In which case we discover that the power possessed by the judges too is not kingship, rather it is the guardian of the laws and hand-maiden of kingship.

Y Soc: So it seems, anyway.

Str: So we should recognise, on reviewing all of the kinds of knowledge we have mentioned, that not one of them turns out to be 305D statesmanship. Indeed, kingship, as it really is, should not perform actions itself, but should rule over those who are able to perform actions, recognising the starting point and impetus of the most important matters in the city, with a view also to what is timely and what is not, while others carry out his instructions.

Y Soc: Rightly so.

Str: So, for these reasons, the skills we have just described rule neither over themselves nor one another, but each is concerned with some particular activity of its own, and has acquired a specific name that is appropriate to the particular nature of the activity.

Y Soc: 305E Yes, that’s what they seem to do.

Str: But the knowledge that rules over all of these, superintends the laws and all the affairs of the city and weaves everything together perfectly, has a power that is comprehended in the name belonging to the common factor and, it seems, may quite properly be referred to as statesmanship.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Well, wouldn’t we also like to take this further, based upon the example of weaving, now that all the classes relevant to the city have become evident to us?

Y Soc: Yes, very much so.

Str: 306A Then it seems we should state what kind of process the kingly intertwining is, the manner in which it does the intertwining, and the sort of fabric it presents us with.

Y Soc: Obviously.

Str: In that case it has, apparently, become necessary to give an exposition of a difficult matter.

Y Soc: There’s no other option anyway, it should be delivered.

Str: Indeed, the assertion that a part of excellence is, in a sense, contrary in form to excellence in general, is very easily assailed by those who are skilled in verbal disputation, by an appeal to the opinions of the majority.

Y Soc: I do not understand.

Str: Then I’ll restate it as follows: for I presume you regard courage, for us, to be one part 306B of excellence.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: Yes, and self-control is different from courage, but this too is one part of that which courage is part of.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Then we must dare to pronounce a wondrous doctrine in relation to these.

Y Soc: Of what sort?

Str: That these two, in a certain sense, are very much enemies of one another, and they hold opposing positions in many actual situations.

Y Soc: How do you mean?

Str: The doctrine is not at all familiar since, in fact, all the parts of virtue are usually said to be friendly towards one 306C another in some sense.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: Should we then apply our minds diligently and consider whether this is simply the way it is, or is it more the case that some of these are in opposition to their own kindred in some respect.

Y Soc: Yes, you should explain how we should consider this issue.

Str: It is necessary to investigate all of those circumstances where we refer to things as good, but nevertheless assign them to two forms opposite to one another.

Y Soc: Explain this more clearly.

Str: Take acuity and speed, whether of body or soul 306D or in the delivery of a speech. Have you yourself ever praised any of these qualities themselves, either directly or in whatever images of them are provided by musical or pictorial imitation, or have you ever been present to hear someone else praising them?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: And can you recall the manner in which they did so in each of these cases?

Y Soc: Not at all.

Str: Now I wonder if I’ll be capable of using words to present to you exactly what is in my mind.

Y Soc: But why not?

Str: 306E You seem to think that this sort of issue is easy: but we really should consider it in the cases where the skills[16] are opposed. For of course, on many occasions when we are pleased by the speed, intensity or acuity of numerous actions, be they mental or physical or even vocal, we speak in praise of this by using a single designation, the word “courage”.

Y Soc: How so?

Str: I am presuming, in the first place, that we say “acute and courageous”, and we also say “quick and courageous”, and the same goes for “intense”; and in applying the name that I am uttering, in common, to all of these natures, we are praising them.

Y Soc: Yes.

Str: 307A Yes, but haven’t we on many occasions also praised the form of gentleness that occurs in many activities?

Y Soc: Yes, very much so.

Str: Of course, what we say about this, is the opposite of what we say about those other qualities.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: In the sense that in these cases we say “calm” and “self-controlled”, when admiring activities in the mental realm, then again, “slow” and “gentle” when it relates to physical actions, and to “smooth” and “deep” in relation to the working of the voice and to all rhythmical motion and any music 307B that makes opportune use of slowness; to all these activities we do not apply the term courage but orderliness.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: And yet, on the other hand, whenever in our view they both occur inopportunely, we turn around and censure each of them, assigning them to their opposites by the names we use.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: By saying that, 307C those that occur with more acuity than is opportune, or appear too rapid or harsh, are violent and manic, while those that are heavier, slower and more gentle, are cowardly or sluggish. And we shall find generally, for the most part, that these qualities along with the self-controlled nature, and the courage associated with the opposite qualities, acting as if enmity was their fate, do not mix with one another in activities concerned with such issues. And if we pursue the inquiry further, we shall observe, that those who hold them within their souls, are at variance with one another too.

Y Soc: Where do you propose that we observe this?

Str: In all the cases we mentioned just now, and probably in many others 307D besides. For on the basis of their own kinship with one set of qualities or the other, I think that they praise one as their own kindred, and censure those belonging to their adversaries as alien, and they adopt highly inimical stances towards one another on numerous issues.

Y Soc: Very likely.

Str: Now at this stage, the adversity between these forms is mere childishness; however, when it relates to matters of the utmost importance, it turns out to be the most virulent disease of all those that afflict our cities.

Y Soc: What sort of important matters are you referring to?

Str: 307E This is likely to involve the entire planning for living. For of course, those who are especially orderly, are always ready to live the quiet life alone, just by themselves, occupying themselves with their own activities; what’s more, they interact in this manner with everyone in their home city, and likewise towards foreign cities, being ready to maintain some manner of peace by any means. And because this love of theirs is most inopportune, whenever they behave as they wish to behave, they overlook the fact that they themselves, by maintaining an unmilitary stance, also influence the young towards a similar disposition. Consequently, they are continually beset by adversaries, and it is not long before they themselves, their children and their entire 308A city become slaves rather than a free people, often without them being aware of it.

Y Soc: What you are describing is harsh, and a terrible predicament, indeed.

Str: But what about those who are more inclined towards courage? Aren’t they constantly drawing their own cities into some war or other, because of their excessively strong desire for such a life? And once they have made many powerful enemies, they either utterly destroy their own native land or reduce its people to slaves and underlings of their enemies.

Y Soc: 308B Yes, that happens too.

Str: So how could we deny that in such situations these types always maintain a great deal, indeed, a huge amount, of enmity and rivalry towards one another?

Y Soc: There is no way at all we can deny it.

Str: In that case, haven’t we found what we were looking for initially; that parts of excellence, of no minor significance, are naturally at variance with one another, and what’s more, they make those who possess them behave exactly as they do?

Y Soc: So it seems.

Str: Then there is another issue we should take up.

Y Soc: Of what kind?

Str: 308C Does any knowledge concerned with putting things together, willingly assemble even the most trivial of its own productions from inferior and serviceable materials combined, or is it that any knowledge in any situation discards the inferior as best it can, retains what is suitable and serviceable, and from these, be they similar or dissimilar, constructs a single power and form, by bringing them all together into a unity?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 308D Then neither will this statesmanship of ours, being natural and true, ever willingly assemble any city from serviceable people and bad people. Rather it is quite obvious that it will test them first in play, and after that test it will go on to entrust them to those who are capable of educating them and serving statesmanship in this respect, while for its own part, it provides direction and superintendence. Just as weaving pays close attention and directs and superintends the carders, and those who furnish her with whatever she needs for her web, by indicating to each of them the sort of tasks 308E she thinks it is appropriate for them to complete in relation to her own intertwining.

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: It appears to me that kingship does exactly the same thing: retaining for itself the power of superintendence, it will not permit the lawful educators and nurturers to engage in any practice that does not bring about some characteristic that is appropriate to the overall blend, and it exhorts them to educate on this basis alone; but those who are unable to share in courage and self-restraint and any other characteristics that are conducive to excellence, 309A but are thrust away by the force of an evil nature into godlessness, violence and injustice, these it casts out through execution, exile, or punishing them with significant loss of status.

Y Soc: Something of this sort is said to happen anyway.

Str: While those who wallow in ignorance and extreme baseness, it subjects to the yoke of slavery.

Y Soc: Quite right.

Str: As for the others, then, there are some whose natures are amenable to attaining nobility, 309B if they obtain education and will accept being mixed with one another on the basis of a skill. Of these, it regards the ones who are more inclined towards courage, as akin to warp threads due to their hard character; while those inclined to orderliness make use of a rich, soft and, according to this image, a woof-like thread. These two natures with their opposite inclinations, it attempts to bind and weave together, in some such manner as follows.

Y Soc: How is it done?

Str: 309C First, based upon kinship, it joins together the ever-begotten part of their soul by a divine bond, and then, after the divine, it joins the mortal part of them with human bonds.

Y Soc: Again, what do you mean by this?

Str: Whenever opinion that is really true, concerning whatever is noble, just and good, and their opposites, arises in souls, accompanied by steadfastness, I say this is divine and it arises in a class that is almost divine.

Y Soc: It is quite appropriate to say so.

Str: 309D Now, are we aware that it belongs to the statesman and the good law-giver alone by means of the kingly muse, to be able to engender this particular opinion in those who have acquired education in the right way, the people we described just now?

Y Soc: That sounds reasonable.

Str: Anyway, Socrates, we would never use the names we are now investigating to refer to anyone who was unable to perform this function.

Y Soc: No.

Str: Well now, won’t a courageous soul be made gentle, once it has grasped this sort of truth, 309E and consequently have more communion with all that is just, if it so wishes, but if it has no share in this, won’t it be more inclined towards a wild nature?

Y Soc: That is inevitable.

Str: But what about the orderly nature? If it shares in these opinions, doesn’t it become genuinely self-restrained and wise, by the standard of civic life, anyway? But if it does not share in the opinions we are describing, doesn’t it quite rightly acquire a reprehensible reputation for folly?

Y Soc: Entirely so.

Str: In that case, shouldn’t we declare that this intertwining and binding will never become stable in bad people bound to their own kind, nor in good people bound to bad people, nor would any knowledge ever seriously use it in such cases?

Y Soc: Of course.

Str: 310A And yet, in those characters born with innate nobility from the very outset whose upbringing accords with their nature, in these alone it is implanted by the laws, and this indeed, is a remedy skilfully applied to them. And just as we said, this bonding together is more divine, as it unites parts of virtue that are dissimilar by nature and tend in opposite directions.

Y Soc: Very true.

Str: The remaining bonds are, of course, human, and once this divine bond is in place, it is not particularly difficult either to devise the others or to implement them once devised.

Y Soc: 310B How would you do so, and what are they?

Str: I mean bonds forged between communities through intermarriage and the community of their children, and those associated with private property exchange and marriage. Indeed, with respect to the procreation of children, most people make such arrangements in an incorrect manner.

Y Soc: How is that?

Str: By the pursuit of wealth and power through such arrangements; but why would anyone seriously regard the censure of this as a worthy discussion topic?

Y Soc: There is no reason.

Str: No, it would be more correct to discuss those who pay attention 310C to the families[17]when making such arrangements, in case they do so in an inappropriate manner.

Y Soc: Yes, that’s reasonable, anyway.

Str: In fact they do not act based upon a single correct principle, for they pursue the easiest option available, embrace those who are much like themselves, and have no affection for those who are dissimilar. They assign the utmost significance to their feeling of displeasure.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: The orderly people seek out their own characteristic and, as best they can, they marry those types, and bestow their own offspring 310D upon such people again when giving them in marriage. And the courageous type do the very same, by pursuing their own nature, when both of these types should be really doing the exact opposite.

Y Soc: In what way, and why?

Str: Because it is natural that courage, propagated for many generations without being mixed with a self-controlled nature, flourishes powerfully at first, but in the end bursts forth in utter madness.

Y Soc: That is likely.

Str: In contrast, the soul that is too full of moderation, bred over many generations without admixture 310E of daring courage, grows unseasonably dull and ends up totally maimed.

Y Soc: Yes, that is the likely outcome.

Str: Now, I said that these bonds were not difficult to forge, once a single opinion about what is noble and good, held by both classes, was in place. For this is the sole function of the kingly weaving process as a whole; never to allow the sound-minded characters to stand apart from the courageous, but to weave them together through unanimity, by granting privileges or withdrawing them, through reputation and the mutual exchange of sureties. He should then assemble them into what we call a well woven fabric, 311A and always entrust the public offices in our cities in common to these two.

Y Soc: In what way?

Str: When a single official happens to be required, it chooses someone possessing both, to take charge, and when a greater number is needed, it combines together a portion from each of the two. For when the sound-minded characters rule, they are extremely cautious, just and safe, and yet, they lack a certain sharp, practical vigour.

Y Soc: Yes, that’s what seems to happen, anyway.

Str: 311B But the courageous types, by contrast, although inferior to the other types when it comes to justice and caution, still possess exceptional vigour in practical situations. However, it is impossible for all the affairs of our cities, public as well as private, to proceed well, without both these qualities being available to them.

Y Soc: No, how could they?

Str: And we may say that this disposition of the courageous and of the sound-minded people, once woven together in an even texture, constitutes the finished fabric of the activity of statesmanship, whereby the skill of kingship having brought these together through like-mindedness and friendship into a shared 311C existence, and having completed the most magnificent and excellent of all fabrics, embraces all the other people in our cities, slaves and free, by clothing them in this woven web, and rules and superintends thereafter, omitting nothing that renders the city as happy as it belongs to any city to be.

Soc: Now, stranger, you have also completed for us a most beautiful account of the kingly man, the statesman.


[1] The conversation between Socrates and Theaetetus took place the previous day in the eponymous dialogue. The conversation of Theaetetus with the stranger took place earlier on this same day in the dialogue called the Sophist.

[2] This refers to the sophist, the subject of the previous conversation today.

[3] “Smooth” here means smooth faced or lacking horns.

[4] The argument operates by constructing squares and measuring their diagonals. It is illustrated in Skemp on p. 139.

[5] The creature in question is the pig. The pig does not have a split hoof.

[6] This sentence establishes that the animal in question is indeed the pig, by a pun on the word for “last”.

[7] Hermes revenged upon the Pelopidae the death of his son Myrtilus by causing a lamb with golden fleece to be born among the flocks of Atreus. When his claim to the succession was disputed, Atreus promised to show this prodigy to prove that the gods were on his side. Thyestes persuaded Aërope, the wife of Atreus, to give him the lamb, and Atreus was in danger of losing his kingdom, had not Zeus, who favoured his claim, made the sun and the Pleiades return from their setting toward their rising.  Loeb, p. 48.

[8] If the care of herds or of bipeds is called “herd–nurture” and we accept that statesmen do not nurture their subjects, then we also accept that they do not care for them, since care has been said to imply nurture.

[9] Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and inter-mixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for subsequent processing. This is achieved by passing the fibres between differentially moving surfaces covered with card clothing. It breaks up locks and unorganised clumps of fibre and then aligns the individual fibres to be parallel with each other. These ordered fibres can then be passed on to other processes that are specific to the desired end use of the fibre. Carding can also be used to create blends of different fibres or different colours. When blending, the carding process combines the different fibres into a homogeneous mix.

[10] Warp refers to the threads that run lengthwise in fabric, crossed at right angles by the woof, the threads that run crosswise. In order to weave any kind of textile, the weaver needs to start with the warp threads which tend to be stronger and coarser, because they must be able to withstand tight stretching. They also provide a core of support for the finished piece, giving the textile body and form.

[11] The term “fuller” comes from the cloth making industry where round ended beaters are used on cloth to loosen thread fibres. This made the cloth softer and “fuller”.

[12] To make warp threads or woof threads involves twisting the raw wool to form threads. (This is the process of spinning).

[13] Not accepting Robinson’s deletion of this phrase.

[14] This refers back to 279d-280a.

[15] This is a reference to an Athenian official called the King Archon who presided over legal issues concerned with religious matters. He was also responsible for certain sacrifices and ceremonies.

[16] Not following Campbell’s emendation here.

[17] Rejecting Stallbaum’s emendation as does Rowe.