Part 4 out of 9
The newest song which the singers have,
they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs,
but a new kind of song; and this ought not to be praised,
or conceived to be the meaning of the poet; for any musical innovation
is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited.
So Damon tells me, and I can quite believe him;-he says that when modes
of music change, of the State always change with them.
Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon's
and your own.
Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their
fortress in music?
Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.
Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it
Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that little by
little this spirit of licence, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates
into manners and customs; whence, issuing with greater force,
it invades contracts between man and man, and from contracts goes
on to laws and constitutions, in utter recklessness, ending at last,
Socrates, by an overthrow of all rights, private as well as public.
Is that true? I said.
That is my belief, he replied.
Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained
from the first in a stricter system, for if amusements
become lawless, and the youths themselves become lawless,
they can never grow up into well-conducted and virtuous citizens.
Very true, he said.
And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the help
of music have gained the habit of good order, then this habit of order,
in a manner how unlike the lawless play of the others! will accompany
them in all their actions and be a principle of growth to them,
and if there be any fallen places a principle in the State will raise
them up again.
Very true, he said.
Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser rules
which their predecessors have altogether neglected.
What do you mean?
I mean such things as these:--when the young are to be silent
before their elders; how they are to show respect to them
by standing and making them sit; what honour is due to parents;
what garments or shoes are to be worn; the mode of dressing the hair;
deportment and manners in general. You would agree with me?
But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters,--
I doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments
about them likely to be lasting.
It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education
starts a man, will determine his future life. Does not like always
To be sure.
Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be good,
and may be the reverse of good?
That is not to be denied.
And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate
further about them.
Naturally enough, he replied.
Well, and about the business of the agora, dealings and the ordinary
dealings between man and man, or again about agreements with the
commencement with artisans; about insult and injury, of the commencement
of actions, and the appointment of juries, what would you say? there
may also arise questions about any impositions and extractions
of market and harbour dues which may be required, and in general
about the regulations of markets, police, harbours, and the like.
But, oh heavens! shall we condescend to legislate on any of these particulars?
I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them
on good men; what regulations are necessary they will find out soon
enough for themselves.
Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws
which we have given them.
And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for
ever making and mending their laws and their lives in the hope
of attaining perfection.
You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having no
self-restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?
Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are always
doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders,
and always fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum
which anybody advises them to try.
Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this sort.
Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him
their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that,
unless they give up eating and drinking and wenching and idling,
neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amulet nor any other remedy
Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a passion
with a man who tells you what is right.
These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good graces.
Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like the men whom
I was just now describing. For are there not ill-ordered States in which
the citizens are forbidden under pain of death to alter the constitution;
and yet he who most sweetly courts those who live under this regime
and indulges them and fawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating
and gratifying their humours is held to be a great and good statesman--
do not these States resemble the persons whom I was describing?
Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am very far
from praising them.
But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity
of these ready ministers of political corruption?
Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are some whom
the applause of the multitude has deluded into the belief that they
are really statesmen, and these are not much to be admired.
What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them.
When a man cannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure
declare that he is four cubits high, can he help believing what
Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.
Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as
a play, trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing;
they are always fancying that by legislation they will make
an end of frauds in contracts, and the other rascalities which I
was mentioning, not knowing that they are in reality cutting off
the heads of a hydra?
Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.
I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble
himself with this class of enactments whether concerning laws or
the constitution either in an ill-ordered or in a well-ordered State;
for in the former they are quite useless, and in the latter
there will be no difficulty in devising them; and many of them
will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.
What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of legislation?
Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the God of Delphi,
there remains the ordering of the greatest and noblest and chiefest
things of all.
Which are they? he said.
The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire service
of gods, demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the repositories
of the dead, and the rites which have to be observed by him who would
propitiate the inhabitants of the world below. These are matters
of which we are ignorant ourselves, and as founders of a city we should
be unwise in trusting them to any interpreter but our ancestral deity.
He is the god who sits in the center, on the navel of the earth,
and he is the interpreter of religion to all mankind.
You are right, and we will do as you propose.
But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where.
Now that our city has been made habitable, light a candle and search,
and get your brother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help,
and let us see where in it we can discover justice and where injustice,
and in what they differ from one another, and which of them the man
who would be happy should have for his portion, whether seen or unseen
by gods and men.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search yourself,
saying that for you not to help justice in her need would be
I do not deny that I said so, and as you remind me, I will be
as good as my word; but you must join.
We will, he replied.
Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I mean
to begin with the assumption that our State, if rightly ordered,
That is most certain.
And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate
That is likewise clear.
And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one
which is not found will be the residue?
If there were four things, and we were searching for one of them,
wherever it might be, the one sought for might be known to us
from the first, and there would be no further trouble; or we
might know the other three first, and then the fourth would clearly
be the one left.
Very true, he said.
And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues,
which are also four in number?
First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes into view,
and in this I detect a certain peculiarity.
What is that?
The State which we have been describing is said to be wise as being
good in counsel?
And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not by ignorance,
but by knowledge, do men counsel well?
And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?
There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the sort
of knowledge which gives a city the title of wise and good in counsel?
Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation of skill
Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a knowledge
which counsels for the best about wooden implements?
Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots, I said,
nor as possessing any other similar knowledge?
Not by reason of any of them, he said.
Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth;
that would give the city the name of agricultural?
Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently founded
State among any of the citizens which advises, not about any
particular thing in the State, but about the whole, and considers
how a State can best deal with itself and with other States?
There certainly is.
And what is knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.
It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and found among
those whom we were just now describing as perfect guardians.
And what is the name which the city derives from the possession
of this sort of knowledge?
The name of good in counsel and truly wise.
And will there be in our city more of these true guardians
or more smiths?
The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.
Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who receive
a name from the profession of some kind of knowledge?
Much the smallest.
And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the knowledge
which resides in this presiding and ruling part of itself,
the whole State, being thus constituted according to nature, will be wise;
and this, which has the only knowledge worthy to be called wisdom,
has been ordained by nature to be of all classes the least.
Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one
of the four virtues has somehow or other been discovered.
And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered,
Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of courage;
and in what part that quality resides which gives the name of
courageous to the State.
How do you mean?
Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or cowardly,
will be thinking of the part which fights and goes out to war on
the State's behalf.
No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.
The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly but
their courage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the effect
of making the city either the one or the other.
The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself
which preserves under all circumstances that opinion about the nature
of things to be feared and not to be feared in which our legislator
educated them; and this is what you term courage.
I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do not
think that I perfectly understand you.
I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.
Salvation of what?
Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are
and of what nature, which the law implants through education;
and I mean by the words `under all circumstances' to intimate that
in pleasure or in pain, or under the influence of desire or fear,
a man preserves, and does not lose this opinion. Shall I give you
If you please.
You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for making
the true sea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour first;
this they prepare and dress with much care and pains, in order
that the white ground may take the purple hue in full perfection.
The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever is dyed in this manner becomes
a fast colour, and no washing either with lyes or without them can
take away the bloom. But, when the ground has not been duly prepared,
you will have noticed how poor is the look either of purple or of any
Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and ridiculous appearance.
Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was in
selecting our soldiers, and educating them in music and gymnastic;
we were contriving influences which would prepare them to take the dye
of the laws in perfection, and the colour of their opinion about dangers
and of every other opinion was to be indelibly fixed by their nurture
and training, not to be washed away by such potent lyes as pleasure--
mightier agent far in washing the soul than any soda or lye;
or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the mightiest of all other solvents.
And this sort of universal saving power of true opinion in conformity
with law about real and false dangers I call and maintain to be courage,
unless you disagree.
But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to exclude mere
uninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast or of a slave--
this, in your opinion, is not the courage which the law ordains,
and ought to have another name.
Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?
Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words `of a citizen,'
you will not be far wrong;--hereafter, if you like, we will carry
the examination further, but at present we are we w seeking not
for courage but justice; and for the purpose of our enquiry we have
You are right, he replied.
Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State-first temperance,
and then justice which is the end of our search.
Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about temperance?
I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I desire
that justice should be brought to light and temperance lost sight of;
and therefore I wish that you would do me the favour of considering
Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing
Then consider, he said.
Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see,
the virtue of temperance has more of the nature of harmony
and symphony than the preceding.
How so? he asked.
Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain
pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying
of `a man being his own master' and other traces of the same notion
may be found in language.
No doubt, he said.
There is something ridiculous in the expression `master of himself';
for the master is also the servant and the servant the master;
and in all these modes of speaking the same person is denoted.
The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a better
and also a worse principle; and when the better has the worse
under control, then a man is said to be master of himself;
and this is a term of praise: but when, owing to evil education
or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller,
is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse--in this case he is
blamed and is called the slave of self and unprincipled.
Yes, there is reason in that.
And now, I said, look at our newly created State, and there you
will find one of these two conditions realised; for the State,
as you will acknowledge, may be justly called master of itself,
if the words `temperance' and `self-mastery' truly express the rule
of the better part over the worse.
Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.
Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures
and desires and pains are generally found in children and women
and servants, and in the freemen so called who are of the lowest
and more numerous class.
Certainly, he said.
Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason,
and are under the guidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found
only in a few, and those the best born and best educated.
Very true. These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our State;
and the meaner desires of the are held down by the virtuous desires
and wisdom of the few.
That I perceive, he said.
Then if there be any city which may be described as master of its
own pleasures and desires, and master of itself, ours may claim
such a designation?
Certainly, he replied.
It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?
And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be agreed
as to the question who are to rule, that again will be our State?
And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which class
will temperance be found--in the rulers or in the subjects?
In both, as I should imagine, he replied.
Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess that temperance
was a sort of harmony?
Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of
which resides in a part only, the one making the State wise and
the other valiant; not so temperance, which extends to the whole,
and runs through all the notes of the scale, and produces a harmony
of the weaker and the stronger and the middle class, whether you
suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom or power or numbers
or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may we deem temperance
to be the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior,
as to the right to rule of either, both in states and individuals.
I entirely agree with you.
And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues
to have been discovered in our State. The last of those qualities
which make a state virtuous must be justice, if we only knew what that was.
The inference is obvious.
The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we should
surround the cover, and look sharp that justice does not steal away,
and pass out of sight and escape us; for beyond a doubt she is somewhere
in this country: watch therefore and strive to catch a sight of her,
and if you see her first, let me know.
Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a follower
who has just eyes enough to, see what you show him--that is about
as much as I am good for.
Offer up a prayer with me and follow.
I will, but you must show me the way.
Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing;
still we must push on.
Let us push on.
Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a track,
and I believe that the quarry will not escape.
Good news, he said.
Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.
Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago,
there was justice tumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her;
nothing could be more ridiculous. Like people who go about looking
for what they have in their hands--that was the way with us--we looked
not at what we were seeking, but at what was far off in the distance;
and therefore, I suppose, we missed her.
What do you mean?
I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have been
talking of justice, and have failed to recognise her.
I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.
Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not:
You remember the original principle which we were always laying
down at the foundation of the State, that one man should practise
one thing only, the thing to which his nature was best adapted;--
now justice is this principle or a part of it.
Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.
Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one's own business,
and not being a busybody; we said so again and again, and many others
have said the same to us.
Yes, we said so.
Then to do one's own business in a certain way may be assumed
to be justice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?
I cannot, but I should like to be told.
Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains
in the State when the other virtues of temperance and courage
and wisdom are abstracted; and, that this is the ultimate cause
and condition of the existence of all of them, and while remaining
in them is also their preservative; and we were saying that if
the three were discovered by us, justice would be the fourth or remaining one.
That follows of necessity.
If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities
by its presence contributes most to the excellence of the State,
whether the agreement of rulers and subjects, or the preservation
in the soldiers of the opinion which the law ordains about the true
nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness in the rulers, or whether
this other which I am mentioning, and which is found in children
and women, slave and freeman, artisan, ruler, subject,--the quality,
I mean, of every one doing his own work, and not being a busybody,
would claim the palm--the question is not so easily answered.
Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying which.
Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own work appears
to compete with the other political virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage.
Yes, he said.
And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?
Let us look at the question from another point of view:
Are not the rulers in a State those to whom you would entrust
the office of determining suits at law?
And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may neither
take what is another's, nor be deprived of what is his own?
Yes; that is their principle.
Which is a just principle?
Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the having
and doing what is a man's own, and belongs to him?
Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose a carpenter
to be doing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler of a carpenter;
and suppose them to exchange their implements or their duties,
or the same person to be doing the work of both, or whatever be the change;
do you think that any great harm would result to the State?
But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed
to be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength
or the number of his followers, or any like advantage,
attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior
into that of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted,
and either to take the implements or the duties of the other;
or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one,
then I think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange
and this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State.
Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes,
any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another,
is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most justly termed
And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one's own city would
be termed by you injustice?
This then is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader,
the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business,
that is justice, and will make the city just.
I agree with you.
We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial,
this conception of justice be verified in the individual as well
as in the State, there will be no longer any room for doubt;
if it be not verified, we must have a fresh enquiry. First let us
complete the old investigation, which we began, as you remember,
under the impression that, if we could previously examine justice
on the larger scale, there would be less difficulty in discerning
her in the individual. That larger example appeared to be the State,
and accordingly we constructed as good a one as we could, knowing well
that in the good State justice would be found. Let the discovery
which we made be now applied to the individual--if they agree,
we shall be satisfied; or, if there be a difference in the individual,
we will come back to the State and have another trial of the theory.
The friction of the two when rubbed together may possibly strike
a light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is
then revealed we will fix in our souls.
That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.
I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less,
are called by the same name, are they like or unlike in so far
as they are called the same?
Like, he replied.
The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only,
will be like the just State?
And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes
in the State severally did their own business; and also thought
to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain other
affections and qualities of these same classes?
True, he said.
And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same
three principles in his own soul which are found in the State;
and he may be rightly described in the same terms, because he is
affected in the same manner?
Certainly, he said.
Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easy question--
whether the soul has these three principles or not?
An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds
that hard is the good.
Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which we are
employing is at all adequate to the accurate solution of this question;
the true method is another and a longer one. Still we may arrive
at a solution not below the level of the previous enquiry.
May we not be satisfied with that? he said;--under the circumstances,
I am quite content.
I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.
Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.
Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are
the same principles and habits which there are in the State;
and that from the individual they pass into the State?--how else can
they come there? Take the quality of passion or spirit;--it would
be ridiculous to imagine that this quality, when found in States,
is not derived from the individuals who are supposed to possess it,
e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general the northern nations;
and the same may be said of the love of knowledge, which is the special
characteristic of our part of the world, or of the love of money,
which may, with equal truth, be attributed to the Phoenicians
Exactly so, he said.
There is no difficulty in understanding this.
But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask
whether these principles are three or one; whether, that is to say,
we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with another,
and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our natural appetites;
or whether the whole soul comes into play in each sort of action--
to determine that is the difficulty.
Yes, he said; there lies the difficulty.
Then let us now try and determine whether they are the same or different.
How can we? he asked.
I replied as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be
acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing
at the same time, in contrary ways; and therefore whenever
this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same,
we know that they are really not the same, but different.
For example, I said, can the same thing be at rest and in motion
at the same time in the same part?
Still, I said, let us have a more precise statement of terms,
lest we should hereafter fall out by the way. Imagine the case
of a man who is standing and also moving his hands and his head,
and suppose a person to say that one and the same person is in motion
and at rest at the same moment-to such a mode of speech we should object,
and should rather say that one part of him is in motion while another
is at rest.
And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw
the nice distinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops,
when they spin round with their pegs fixed on the spot, are at
rest and in motion at the same time (and he may say the same
of anything which revolves in the same spot), his objection would
not be admitted by us, because in such cases things are not at rest
and in motion in the same parts of themselves; we should rather say
that they have both an axis and a circumference, and that the axis
stands still, for there is no deviation from the perpendicular;
and that the circumference goes round. But if, while revolving,
the axis inclines either to the right or left, forwards or backwards,
then in no point of view can they be at rest.
That is the correct mode of describing them, he replied.
Then none of these objections will confuse us, or incline us to believe
that the same thing at the same time, in the same part or in relation
to the same thing, can act or be acted upon in contrary ways.
Certainly not, according to my way of thinking.
Yet, I said, that we may not be compelled to examine all such objections,
and prove at length that they are untrue, let us assume their absurdity,
and go forward on the understanding that hereafter, if this assumption
turn out to be untrue, all the consequences which follow shall be withdrawn.
Yes, he said, that will be the best way.
Well, I said, would you not allow that assent and dissent,
desire and aversion, attraction and repulsion, are all of
them opposites, whether they are regarded as active or passive
(for that makes no difference in the fact of their opposition)?
Yes, he said, they are opposites.
Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in general,
and again willing and wishing,--all these you would refer to the classes
already mentioned. You would say--would you not?--that the soul
of him who desires is seeking after the object of his desires;
or that he is drawing to himself the thing which he wishes to possess:
or again, when a person wants anything to be given him, his mind,
longing for the realisation of his desires, intimates his wish to have it
by a nod of assent, as if he had been asked a question?
And what would you say of unwillingness and dislike and the absence
of desire; should not these be referred to the opposite class
of repulsion and rejection?
Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose
a particular class of desires, and out of these we will select hunger
and thirst, as they are termed, which are the most obvious of them?
Let us take that class, he said.
The object of one is food, and of the other drink?
And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the soul has
of drink, and of drink only; not of drink qualified by anything else;
for example, warm or cold, or much or little, or, in a word,
drink of any particular sort: but if the thirst be accompanied by heat,
then the desire is of cold drink; or, if accompanied by cold,
then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be excessive, then the drink
which is desired will be excessive; or, if not great, the quantity
of drink will also be small: but thirst pure and simple will desire
drink pure and simple, which is the natural satisfaction of thirst,
as food is of hunger?
Yes, he said; the simple desire is, as you say, in every case
of the simple object, and the qualified desire of the qualified object.
But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard against
an opponent starting up and saying that no man desires drink only,
but good drink, or food only, but good food; for good is the universal
object of desire, and thirst being a desire, will necessarily be
thirst after good drink; and the same is true of every other desire.
Yes, he replied, the opponent might have something to say.
Nevertheless I should still maintain, that of relatives
some have a quality attached to either term of the relation;
others are simple and have their correlatives simple.
I do not know what you mean.
Well, you know of course that the greater is relative to the less?
And the much greater to the much less?
And the sometime greater to the sometime less, and the greater
that is to be to the less that is to be?
Certainly, he said.
And so of more and less, and of other correlative terms, such as
the double and the half, or again, the heavier and the lighter,
the swifter and the slower; and of hot and cold, and of any
other relatives;--is not this true of all of them?
And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The object
of science is knowledge (assuming that to be the true definition),
but the object of a particular science is a particular kind of knowledge;
I mean, for example, that the science of house-building is a kind
of knowledge which is defined and distinguished from other kinds
and is therefore termed architecture.
Because it has a particular quality which no other has?
And it has this particular quality because it has an object
of a particular kind; and this is true of the other arts and sciences?
Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will understand my
original meaning in what I said about relatives. My meaning was,
that if one term of a relation is taken alone, the other is
taken alone; if one term is qualified, the other is also qualified.
I do not mean to say that relatives may not be disparate, or that
the science of health is healthy, or of disease necessarily diseased,
or that the sciences of good and evil are therefore good and evil;
but only that, when the term science is no longer used absolutely,
but has a qualified object which in this case is the nature of health
and disease, it becomes defined, and is hence called not merely science,
but the science of medicine.
I quite understand, and I think as you do.
Would you not say that thirst is one of these essentially relative terms,
having clearly a relation--
Yes, thirst is relative to drink.
And a certain kind of thirst is relative to a certain kind of drink;
but thirst taken alone is neither of much nor little, nor of good nor bad,
nor of any particular kind of drink, but of drink only?
Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty,
desires only drink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it?
That is plain.
And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away
from drink, that must be different from the thirsty principle
which draws him like a beast to drink; for, as we were saying,
the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of itself
act in contrary ways about the same.
No more than you can say that the hands of the archer push and pull
the bow at the same time, but what you say is that one hand pushes
and the other pulls.
Exactly so, he replied.
And might a man be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink?
Yes, he said, it constantly happens.
And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that there
was something in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something
else forbidding him, which is other and stronger than the principle
which bids him?
I should say so.
And the forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that
which bids and attracts proceeds from passion and disease?
Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they differ
from one another; the one with which man reasons, we may call
the rational principle of the soul, the other, with which he loves
and hungers and thirsts and feels the flutterings of any other desire,
may be termed the irrational or appetitive, the ally of sundry
pleasures and satisfactions?
Yes, he said, we may fairly assume them to be different.
Then let us finally determine that there are two principles existing
in the soul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a third,
or akin to one of the preceding?
I should be inclined to say--akin to desire.
Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in
which I put faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion,
coming up one day from the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside,
observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at the place of execution.
He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them;
for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length
the desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran
up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your fill
of the fair sight.
I have heard the story myself, he said.
The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with desire,
as though they were two distinct things.
Yes; that is the meaning, he said.
And are there not many other cases in which we observe that when a
man's desires violently prevail over his reason, he reviles himself,
and is angry at the violence within him, and that in this struggle,
which is like the struggle of factions in a State, his spirit
is on the side of his reason;--but for the passionate or spirited
element to take part with the desires when reason that she should not
be opposed, is a sort of thing which thing which I believe that you
never observed occurring in yourself, nor, as I should imagine,
in any one else?
Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the nobler
he is the less able is he to feel indignant at any suffering,
such as hunger, or cold, or any other pain which the injured person
may inflict upon him--these he deems to be just, and, as I say,
his anger refuses to be excited by them.
True, he said.
But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then he boils
and chafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be justice;
and because he suffers hunger or cold or other pain he is only
the more determined to persevere and conquer. His noble spirit
will not be quelled until he either slays or is slain; or until he
hears the voice of the shepherd, that is, reason, bidding his dog
bark no more.
The illustration is perfect, he replied; and in our State,
as we were saying, the auxiliaries were to be dogs, and to hear
the voice of the rulers, who are their shepherds.
I perceive, I said, that you quite understand me; there is,
however, a further point which I wish you to consider.
You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight
to be a kind of desire, but now we should say quite the contrary;
for in the conflict of the soul spirit is arrayed on the side
of the rational principle.
But a further question arises: Is passion different from
reason also, or only a kind of reason; in which latter case,
instead of three principles in the soul, there will only be two,
the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as the State was composed
of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so may there
not be in the individual soul a third element which is passion
or spirit, and when not corrupted by bad education is the natural
auxiliary of reason
Yes, he said, there must be a third.
Yes, I replied, if passion, which has already been shown to be
different from desire, turn out also to be different from reason.
But that is easily proved:--We may observe even in young children
that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born,
whereas some of them never seem to attain to the use of reason,
and most of them late enough.
Excellent, I said, and you may see passion equally in brute animals,
which is a further proof of the truth of what you are saying.
And we may once more appeal to the words of Homer, which have been
already quoted by us,
He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul,
for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed the power which reasons
about the better and worse to be different from the unreasoning
anger which is rebuked by it.
Very true, he said.
And so, after much tossing, we have reached land, and are fairly
agreed that the same principles which exist in the State exist
also in the individual, and that they are three in number.
Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the same way,
and in virtue of the same quality which makes the State wise?
Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the State
constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the State
and the individual bear the same relation to all the other virtues?
And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in the same
way in which the State is just?
That follows, of course.
We cannot but remember that the justice of the State consisted
in each of the three classes doing the work of its own class?
We are not very likely to have forgotten, he said.
We must recollect that the individual in whom the several qualities
of his nature do their own work will be just, and will do his own work?
Yes, he said, we must remember that too.
And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has
the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited
principle to be the subject and ally?
And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and gymnastic
will bring them into accord, nerving and sustaining the reason
with noble words and lessons, and moderating and soothing
and civilizing the wildness of passion by harmony and rhythm?
Quite true, he said.
And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned truly
to know their own functions, will rule over the concupiscent,
which in each of us is the largest part of the soul and by nature
most insatiable of gain; over this they will keep guard, lest,
waxing great and strong with the fulness of bodily pleasures,
as they are termed, the concupiscent soul, no longer confined
to her own sphere, should attempt to enslave and rule those who are
not her natural-born subjects, and overturn the whole life of man?
Very true, he said.
Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole soul
and the whole body against attacks from without; the one counselling,
and the other fighting under his leader, and courageously executing
his commands and counsels?
And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in pleasure
and in pain the commands of reason about what he ought or ought
not to fear?
Right, he replied.
And him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules,
and which proclaims these commands; that part too being supposed
to have a knowledge of what is for the interest of each of the three
parts and of the whole?
And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same elements
in friendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of reason,
and the two subject ones of spirit and desire are equally agreed
that reason ought to rule, and do not rebel?
Certainly, he said, that is the true account of temperance whether
in the State or individual.
And surely, I said, we have explained again and again how and
by virtue of what quality a man will be just.
That is very certain.
And is justice dimmer in the individual, and is her form different,
or is she the same which we found her to be in the State?
There is no difference in my opinion, he said.
Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few
commonplace instances will satisfy us of the truth of what I am saying.
What sort of instances do you mean?
If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just State,
or the man who is trained in the principles of such a State, will be less
likely than the unjust to make away with a deposit of gold or silver?
Would any one deny this?
No one, he replied.
Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or theft,
or treachery either to his friends or to his country?
Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths
No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonour
his father and mother, or to fall in his religious duties?
And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own business,
whether in ruling or being ruled?
Are you satisfied then that the quality which makes such men
and such states is justice, or do you hope to discover some other?
Not I, indeed.
Then our dream has been realised; and the suspicion which we
entertained at the beginning of our work of construction, that some
divine power must have conducted us to a primary form of justice,
has now been verified?
And the division of labour which required the carpenter and the shoemaker
and the rest of the citizens to be doing each his own business,
and not another's, was a shadow of justice, and for that reason
it was of use?
But in reality justice was such as we were describing,
being concerned however, not with the outward man, but with the inward,
which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man
does not permit the several elements within him to interfere
with one another, or any of them to do the work of others,--he sets
in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own law,
and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together the three
principles within him, which may be compared to the higher, lower,
and middle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals--
when he has bound all these together, and is no longer many, but has
become one entirely temperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he
proceeds to act, if he has to act, whether in a matter of property,
or in the treatment of the body, or in some affair of politics
or private business; always thinking and calling that which preserves
and co-operates with this harmonious condition, just and good action,
and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which
at any time impairs this condition, he will call unjust action,
and the opinion which presides over it ignorance.
You have said the exact truth, Socrates.
Very good; and if we were to affirm that we had discovered the just
man and the just State, and the nature of justice in each of them,
we should not be telling a falsehood?
Most certainly not.
May we say so, then?
Let us say so.
And now, I said, injustice has to be considered.
Must not injustice be a strife which arises among the three principles--
a meddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up of a part
of the soul against the whole, an assertion of unlawful authority,
which is made by a rebellious subject against a true prince,
of whom he is the natural vassal,--what is all this confusion and
delusion but injustice, and intemperance and cowardice and ignorance,
and every form of vice?
And if the nature of justice and injustice be known, then the meaning
of acting unjustly and being unjust, or, again, of acting justly,
will also be perfectly clear?
What do you mean? he said.
Why, I said, they are like disease and health; being in the soul
just what disease and health are in the body.
How so? he said.
Why, I said, that which is healthy causes health, and that which
is unhealthy causes disease.
And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause injustice?
That is certain.
And the creation of health is the institution of a natural order
and government of one by another in the parts of the body;
and the creation of disease is the production of a state of things
at variance with this natural order?
And is not the creation of justice the institution of a natural
order and government of one by another in the parts of the soul,
and the creation of injustice the production of a state of things
at variance with the natural order?
Exactly so, he said.
Then virtue is the health and beauty and well-being of the soul,
and vice the disease and weakness and deformity of the same?
And do not good practices lead to virtue, and evil practices to vice?
Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice
and injustice has not been answered: Which is the more profitable,
to be just and act justly and practise virtue, whether seen
or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjust and act unjustly,
if only unpunished and unreformed?
In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become ridiculous.
We know that, when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no
longer endurable, though pampered with all kinds of meats and drinks,
and having all wealth and all power; and shall we be told that when
the very essence of the vital principle is undermined and corrupted,
life is still worth having to a man, if only he be allowed to do
whatever he likes with the single exception that he is not to
acquire justice and virtue, or to escape from injustice and vice;
assuming them both to be such as we have described?
Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still, as we
are near the spot at which we may see the truth in the clearest
manner with our own eyes, let us not faint by the way.
Certainly not, he replied.
Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice,
those of them, I mean, which are worth looking at.
I am following you, he replied: proceed.
I said, The argument seems to have reached a height from which,
as from some tower of speculation, a man may look down and see
that virtue is one, but that the forms of vice are innumerable;
there being four special ones which are deserving of note.
What do you mean? he said.
I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of the soul
as there are distinct forms of the State.
There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.
What are they?
The first, I said, is that which we have been describing,
and which may be said to have two names, monarchy and aristocracy,
accordingly as rule is exercised by one distinguished man or by many.
True, he replied.
But I regard the two names as describing one form only;
for whether the government is in the hands of one or many,
if the governors have been trained in the manner which we have supposed,
the fundamental laws of the State will be maintained.
That is true, he replied.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON - ADEIMANTUS
SUCH is the good and true City or State, and the good and man
is of the same pattern; and if this is right every other is wrong;
and the evil is one which affects not only the ordering of the State,
but also the regulation of the individual soul, and is exhibited in
What are they? he said.
I was proceeding to tell the order in which the four evil forms appeared
to me to succeed one another, when Pole marchus, who was sitting
a little way off, just beyond Adeimantus, began to whisper to him:
stretching forth his hand, he took hold of the upper part of his
coat by the shoulder, and drew him towards him, leaning forward
himself so as to be quite close and saying something in his ear,
of which I only caught the words, `Shall we let him off, or what shall
Certainly not, said Adeimantus, raising his voice.
Who is it, I said, whom you are refusing to let off?
You, he said.
I repeated, Why am I especially not to be let off?
Why, he said, we think that you are lazy, and mean to cheat us
out of a whole chapter which is a very important part of the story;
and you fancy that we shall not notice your airy way of proceeding;
as if it were self-evident to everybody, that in the matter of women
and children `friends have all things in common.'
And was I not right, Adeimantus?
Yes, he said; but what is right in this particular case,
like everything else, requires to be explained; for community may be of
many kinds. Please, therefore, to say what sort of community you mean.
We have been long expecting that you would tell us something about
the family life of your citizens--how they will bring children into
the world, and rear them when they have arrived, and, in general,
what is the nature of this community of women and children-for we
are of opinion that the right or wrong management of such matters
will have a great and paramount influence on the State for good
or for evil. And now, since the question is still undetermined,
and you are taking in hand another State, we have resolved,
as you heard, not to let you go until you give an account of all this.
To that resolution, said Glaucon, you may regard me as saying Agreed.
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS - GLAUCON - THRASYMACHUS
And without more ado, said Thrasymachus, you may consider us
all to be equally agreed.
I said, You know not what you are doing in thus assailing me:
What an argument are you raising about the State! Just as I
thought that I had finished, and was only too glad that I had
laid this question to sleep, and was reflecting how fortunate I
was in your acceptance of what I then said, you ask me to begin
again at the very foundation, ignorant of what a hornet's nest
of words you are stirring. Now I foresaw this gathering trouble,
and avoided it.
For what purpose do you conceive that we have come here,
said Thrasymachus,--to look for gold, or to hear discourse?
Yes, but discourse should have a limit.
Yes, Socrates, said Glaucon, and the whole of life is the only limit
which wise men assign to the hearing of such discourses. But never mind
about us; take heart yourself and answer the question in your own way:
What sort of community of women and children is this which is
to prevail among our guardians? and how shall we manage the period
between birth and education, which seems to require the greatest care?
Tell us how these things will be.
Yes, my simple friend, but the answer is the reverse of easy;
many more doubts arise about this than about our previous conclusions.
For the practicability of what is said may be doubted; and looked at
in another point of view, whether the scheme, if ever so practicable,
would be for the best, is also doubtful. Hence I feel a reluctance
to approach the subject, lest our aspiration, my dear friend,
should turn out to be a dream only.
Fear not, he replied, for your audience will not be hard upon you;
they are not sceptical or hostile.
I said: My good friend, I suppose that you mean to encourage me
by these words.
Yes, he said.
Then let me tell you that you are doing just the reverse;
the encouragement which you offer would have been all very well
had I myself believed that I knew what I was talking about:
to declare the truth about matters of high interest which a man
honours and loves among wise men who love him need occasion no fear
or faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument when you
are yourself only a hesitating enquirer, which is my condition,
is a dangerous and slippery thing; and the danger is not that I
shall be laughed at (of which the fear would be childish),
but that I shall miss the truth where I have most need to be sure
of my footing, and drag my friends after me in my fall. And I pray
Nemesis not to visit upon me the words which I am going to utter.
For I do indeed believe that to be an involuntary homicide is a less
crime than to be a deceiver about beauty or goodness or justice
in the matter of laws. And that is a risk which I would rather
run among enemies than among friends, and therefore you do well to
Glaucon laughed and said: Well then, Socrates, in case you
and your argument do us any serious injury you shall be acquitted
beforehand of the and shall not be held to be a deceiver;
take courage then and speak.
Well, I said, the law says that when a man is acquitted he is free
from guilt, and what holds at law may hold in argument.
Then why should you mind?
Well, I replied, I suppose that I must retrace my steps and say
what I perhaps ought to have said before in the proper place.
The part of the men has been played out, and now properly enough
comes the turn of the women. Of them I will proceed to speak,
and the more readily since I am invited by you.
For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way, in my opinion,
of arriving at a right conclusion about the possession and use of women
and children is to follow the path on which we originally started,
when we said that the men were to be the guardians and watchdogs
of the herd.
Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women to be
subject to similar or nearly similar regulations; then we shall
see whether the result accords with our design.
What do you mean?
What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said:
Are dogs divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally
in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs? or do
we entrust to the males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks,
while we leave the females at home, under the idea that the bearing
and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?
No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between them
is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.
But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they
are bred and fed in the same way?
Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must
have the same nurture and education?
The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic. Yes.
Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war,
which they must practise like the men?
That is the inference, I suppose.
I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals,
if they are carried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.
No doubt of it.
Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women
naked in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they
are no longer young; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty,
any more than the enthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles
and ugliness continue to frequent the gymnasia.
Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal
would be thought ridiculous.
But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds,
we must not fear the jests of the wits which will be directed
against this sort of innovation; how they will talk of women's
attainments both in music and gymnastic, and above all about
their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!
Very true, he replied.
Yet having begun we must go forward to the rough places of the law;
at the same time begging of these gentlemen for once in their life
to be serious. Not long ago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were
of the opinion, which is still generally received among the barbarians,
that the sight of a naked man was ridiculous and improper;
and when first the Cretans and then the Lacedaemonians introduced
the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed
But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far
better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward
eye vanished before the better principle which reason asserted,
then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts
of his ridicule at any other sight but that of folly and vice,
or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any other standard
but that of the good.
Very true, he replied.
First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in earnest,
let us come to an understanding about the nature of woman: Is she
capable of sharing either wholly or partially in the actions of men,
or not at all? And is the art of war one of those arts in which she can
or can not share? That will be the best way of commencing the enquiry,
and will probably lead to the fairest conclusion.
That will be much the best way.
Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing against ourselves;
in this manner the adversary's position will not be undefended.
Why not? he said.
Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. They will say:
`Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary need convict you, for you yourselves,
at the first foundation of the State, admitted the principle
that everybody was to do the one work suited to his own nature.'
And certainly, if I am not mistaken, such an admission was made by us.
`And do not the natures of men and women differ very much indeed?'
And we shall reply: Of course they do. Then we shall be asked,
`Whether the tasks assigned to men and to women should not
be different, and such as are agreeable to their different natures?'
Certainly they should. `But if so, have you not fallen into a
serious inconsistency in saying that men and women, whose natures
are so entirely different, ought to perform the same actions?'--
What defence will you make for us, my good Sir, against any one who offers
That is not an easy question to answer when asked suddenly;
and I shall and I do beg of you to draw out the case on our side.
These are the objections, Glaucon, and there are many others of a like kind,
which I foresaw long ago; they made me afraid and reluctant to take
in hand any law about the possession and nurture of women and children.
By Zeus, he said, the problem to be solved is anything but easy.
Why yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of his depth,
whether he has fallen into a little swimming bath or into mid-ocean,
he has to swim all the same.
And must not we swim and try to reach the shore: we will hope
that Arion's dolphin or some other miraculous help may save us?
I suppose so, he said.
Well then, let us see if any way of escape can be found.
We acknowledged--did we not? that different natures ought to have
different pursuits, and that men's and women's natures are different.
And now what are we saying?--that different natures ought to have
the same pursuits,--this is the inconsistency which is charged
Verily, Glaucon, I said, glorious is the power of the art of contradiction!
Why do you say so?
Because I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will.
When he thinks that he is reasoning he is really disputing,
just because he cannot define and divide, and so know that of which
he is speaking; and he will pursue a merely verbal opposition
in the spirit of contention and not of fair discussion.
Yes, he replied, such is very often the case; but what has
that to do with us and our argument?
A great deal; for there is certainly a danger of our getting
unintentionally into a verbal opposition.
In what way?
Why, we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal truth,
that different natures ought to have different pursuits, but we
never considered at all what was the meaning of sameness or difference
of nature, or why we distinguished them when we assigned different
pursuits to different natures and the same to the same natures.
Why, no, he said, that was never considered by us.
I said: Suppose that by way of illustration we were to ask
the question whether there is not an opposition in nature between
bald men and hairy men; and if this is admitted by us, then, if bald
men are cobblers, we should forbid the hairy men to be cobblers,
That would be a jest, he said.
Yes, I said, a jest; and why? because we never meant when we
constructed the State, that the opposition of natures should extend
to every difference, but only to those differences which affected
the pursuit in which the individual is engaged; we should have argued,
for example, that a physician and one who is in mind a physician
may be said to have the same nature.
Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different natures?
And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in
their fitness for any art or pursuit, we should say that such
pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one or the other of them;
but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men
begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that a woman differs
from a man in respect of the sort of education she should receive;
and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians
and their wives ought to have the same pursuits.
Very true, he said.
Next, we shall ask our opponent how, in reference to any of the pursuits
or arts of civic life, the nature of a woman differs from that of a man?
That will be quite fair.
And perhaps he, like yourself, will reply that to give a sufficient
answer on the instant is not easy; but after a little reflection
there is no difficulty.
Suppose then that we invite him to accompany us in the argument,
and then we may hope to show him that there is nothing peculiar in
the constitution of women which would affect them in the administration
of the State.
By all means.
Let us say to him: Come now, and we will ask you a question:--
when you spoke of a nature gifted or not gifted in any respect,
did you mean to say that one man will acquire a thing easily,
another with difficulty; a little learning will lead the one to discover
a great deal; whereas the other, after much study and application,
no sooner learns than he forgets; or again, did you mean,
that the one has a body which is a good servant to his mind,
while the body of the other is a hindrance to him?-would not these be
the sort of differences which distinguish the man gifted by nature
from the one who is ungifted?
No one will deny that.
And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex
has not all these gifts and qualities in a higher degree than
the female? Need I waste time in speaking of the art of weaving,
and the management of pancakes and preserves, in which womankind
does really appear to be great, and in which for her to be beaten
by a man is of all things the most absurd?
You are quite right, he replied, in maintaining the general
inferiority of the female sex: although many women are in many
things superior to many men, yet on the whole what you say is true.
And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of
administration in a state which a woman has because she is a woman,
or which a man has by virtue of his sex, but the gifts of nature
are alike diffused in both; all the pursuits of men are the pursuits
of women also, but in all of them a woman is inferior to a man.
Then are we to impose all our enactments on men and none of them
That will never do.
One woman has a gift of healing, another not; one is a musician,
and another has no music in her nature?
And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises,
and another is unwarlike and hates gymnastics?
And one woman is a philosopher, and another is an enemy of philosophy;
one has spirit, and another is without spirit?
That is also true.
Then one woman will have the temper of a guardian, and another not.
Was not the selection of the male guardians determined by differences
of this sort?
Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian;
they differ only in their comparative strength or weakness.
And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as
the companions and colleagues of men who have similar qualities
and whom they resemble in capacity and in character?
And ought not the same natures to have the same pursuits?
Then, as we were saying before, there is nothing unnatural
in assigning music and gymnastic to the wives of the guardians--
to that point we come round again.
The law which we then enacted was agreeable to nature, and therefore
not an impossibility or mere aspiration; and the contrary practice,
which prevails at present, is in reality a violation of nature.
That appears to be true.
We had to consider, first, whether our proposals were possible,
and secondly whether they were the most beneficial?
And the possibility has been acknowledged?
The very great benefit has next to be established?
You will admit that the same education which makes a man a good
guardian will make a woman a good guardian; for their original
nature is the same?
I should like to ask you a question.
What is it?
Would you say that all men are equal in excellence, or is one man
better than another?
And in the commonwealth which we were founding do you conceive
the guardians who have been brought up on our model system to be
more perfect men, or the cobblers whose education has been cobbling?
What a ridiculous question!
You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not further say
that our guardians are the best of our citizens?
By far the best.
And will not their wives be the best women?
Yes, by far the best.
And can there be anything better for the interests of the State
than that the men and women of a State should be as good as possible?
There can be nothing better.
And this is what the arts of music and gymnastic, when present
in such manner as we have described, will accomplish?
Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest
degree beneficial to the State?
Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be
their robe, and let them share in the toils of war and the defence
of their country; only in the distribution of labours the lighter
are to be assigned to the women, who are the weaker natures,
but in other respects their duties are to be the same.
And as for the man who laughs at naked women exercising their bodies
from the best of motives, in his laughter he is plucking
A fruit of unripe wisdom,
and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he
is about;--for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings,
That the useful is the noble and the hurtful is the base.
Here, then, is one difficulty in our law about women, which we
may say that we have now escaped; the wave has not swallowed us up
alive for enacting that the guardians of either sex should have all
their pursuits in common; to the utility and also to the possibility
of this arrangement the consistency of the argument with itself
Yes, that was a mighty wave which you have escaped.
Yes, I said, but a greater is coming; you will of this when you
see the next.
Go on; let me see.
The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that
has preceded, is to the following effect,--'that the wives of our
guardians are to be common, and their children are to be common,
and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent.'
Yes, he said, that is a much greater wave than the other;
and the possibility as well as the utility of such a law are far
I do not think, I said, that there can be any dispute about
the very great utility of having wives and children in common;
the possibility is quite another matter, and will be very much disputed.
I think that a good many doubts may be raised about both.
You imply that the two questions must be combined, I replied.
Now I meant that you should admit the utility; and in this way,
as I thought; I should escape from one of them, and then there would
remain only the possibility.
But that little attempt is detected, and therefore you will please
to give a defence of both.
Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little favour:
let me feast my mind with the dream as day dreamers are in
the habit of feasting themselves when they are walking alone;
for before they have discovered any means of effecting their wishes--
that is a matter which never troubles them--they would rather
not tire themselves by thinking about possibilities; but assuming
that what they desire is already granted to them, they proceed
with their plan, and delight in detailing what they mean to do
when their wish has come true--that is a way which they have of
not doing much good to a capacity which was never good for much.
Now I myself am beginning to lose heart, and I should like,
with your permission, to pass over the question of possibility
at present. Assuming therefore the possibility of the proposal,
I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers will carry out
these arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan, if executed,
will be of the greatest benefit to the State and to the guardians.
First of all, then, if you have no objection, I will endeavour with
your help to consider the advantages of the measure; and hereafter
the question of possibility.
I have no objection; proceed.
First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to be
worthy of the name which they bear, there must be willingness
to obey in the one and the power of command in the other;
the guardians must themselves obey the laws, and they must also imitate
the spirit of them in any details which are entrusted to their care.
That is right, he said.
You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men,
will now select the women and give them to them;--they must be
as far as possible of like natures with them; and they must live
in common houses and meet at common meals, None of them will have
anything specially his or her own; they will be together, and will
be brought up together, and will associate at gymnastic exercises.
And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to have
intercourse with each other--necessity is not too strong a word,
Yes, he said;--necessity, not geometrical, but another sort
of necessity which lovers know, and which is far more convincing
and constraining to the mass of mankind.
True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed
after an orderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is
an unholy thing which the rulers will forbid.
Yes, he said, and it ought not to be permitted.
Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in
the highest degree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred?
And how can marriages be made most beneficial?--that is a question
which I put to you, because I see in your house dogs for hunting,
and of the nobler sort of birds not a few. Now, I beseech you,
do tell me, have you ever attended to their pairing and breeding?
In what particulars?
Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort,
are not some better than others?
And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care
to breed from the best only?
From the best.
And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age?
I choose only those of ripe age.
And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds
would greatly deteriorate?
And the same of horses and animals in general?
Good heavens! my dear friend, I said, what consummate skill will
our rulers need if the same principle holds of the human species!
Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this involve
any particular skill?
Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon
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