A Commentary on Plato's Republic
by Kenneth Quandt
WELCOME to OnPlatosRepublic.com, an interactive website that presents a translation and commentary on the Republic of Plato, for the use of scholars and students hoping to understand this very beautiful work better and better, word by word.
In the far left column you see a scrollable Outline of the Republic including my Appendices, which enables you to jump to a section of the dialogue. Next is a scrollable column of blue Stephanus page numbers that enable you to jump to a page of the text. The main column in the middle, which you are now reading, presents a brief Preface, my Translation and Summary of the Republic, and a few exegetical Appendices. The column to the right presents my many exegetical footnotes.
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Among the Platonic dialogues the Republic is unique for its length, for its personnel, for the breadth and number of topics it reaches out to and passes through, and for the “radius” of the dramatic curve with which it succeeds to bring all this together.
The Laws is longer but Socrates is absent, so that it can only be discursive: there is no interlocutor who does what Socrates always does and will never not do, for which he was loved and hated, ever true to his double commitment of achieving for himself and his interlocutor a rational embrace of virtue, and refusing to allow anything in the conversation to deflect, defer, or demean the pursuit of that goal, in any way at any moment. The Republic is the most sustained exhibit of this commitment and conduct of his in Plato's corpus or anywhere else, and the richest display of the techniques and tactics he employed to those ends, itself being four and five times longer than other great displays such as the Gorgias, the Phaedrus, and the Theaetetus.
As to the personnel, Socrates's principal interlocutors turn out to be Glaucon and Adeimantus, but only after he has gone through distinct and complete conversations with three others, the old man Cephalus at whose home the entire conversation takes place, Cephalus's son Polemarchus who inherits the argument his father leaves him, and Thrasymachus, a teacher of oratory who is visiting from out of town. These latter three are “public” figures – persons we have heard of from outside the dialogue – but the former two, who are the persons Socrates ends up talking with far longer than with the other three, and indeed than with anybody else in the entire Platonic corpus, are persons about whom we know next to nothing. It is not unique for Plato to combine known and unknown interlocutors in one dialogue; nor is it in itself surprising that Socrates would take the time to talk with unknown persons nor likely that a conversation he would have with such persons would be any the less significant or substantial, since it is his relentless management of the “what” and the “how,” rather than the “with whom” he is talking, that makes the conversations so great -- as we learn for instance from his conversations with the unknown Euthyphro and the barely known Meno.1 What is unique about the personnel of this dialogue is that the lesser known interlocutors, who end up playing the principal roles, are persons that are very well known after all, known best, indeed, to one person, the author of the dialogue, for they are Plato’s elder brothers. In telling us about his brothers, this author, who has otherwise done so much to remain “anonymous,” has in the case of this one dialogue laid the suggestion that he is somehow telling us something about himself!
As to the breadth and number of topics the dialogue visits or treats in greater or lesser detail and trenchancy, I have to say what might at first seem farfetched: it reminds me more than anything else of Hegel's Phenomenology. Not only do both books deal with subjects of the highest generality – Plato's Republic raises “the question of how to live one's whole life,”2 and Hegel's book is about everything or the all – but also both authors have a genius for analogy that enables them to reach for a topic that might seem remote, to exploit it as a vehicle for what they want to say, and then to drop it just as fast as they raised it.3
Finally, at the same time that the conversations between Socrates and Glaucon and between Socrates and Adeimantus visit every subject under the sun (including the sun itself!), the entire conversation as a whole accumulates from all these sources a multidimensional and unified solution to the original question – does being just make a man happy? – and a triumphant agreement about the solution, between Socrates and Glaucon at least, its success being set into dramatic relief by the dark foil of a failure between Socrates and Adeimantus. Not only is the main question answered, but even why it was asked and how it was asked comes to be understood, and a provision is made to compensate the world of truth and beauty for the erroneous prejudices against justice that had underlain the formulation of the original question (Moses, too, was commanded to take his sandals off the moment he decided to stop and look harder at the burning bush). The beauty and power of the result that Socrates and Glaucon reach spills over into a coda that demonstrates that their conclusion is so important that it not only trumps the literary means by which Plato or anyone else might reveal such a thing to us, but that it also consigns the problem of death, the ultimate reward of the just and unjust life with which the entire conversation began, to the shadows.
One should next be wondering why or how these four unique characteristics all appear in this one work. Why is it here that Socrates's ministrations are needed for so long? Why or how can so many topics be brought in to help accumulate a conclusion? How can the disparate plurality of these topics be redeemed in a unifying conception? Why is the dialogical work of this most important, this longest and most complex but most unified conversation in Plato's entire corpus of conversations, given over to the author's brothers?
To answer these questions I direct the reader to a fifth unique characteristic of this dialogue, which I left out above: the lengthy speeches of Plato's brothers at the beginning of Book Two (357A-367E), in which they confess – Glaucon more candidly and even ashamed, and Adeimantus from behind a proud mask of resentment – that they desire to love justice more than they love it in fact, and that they fear the consequences of failing to. In many of Plato's so-called aporetic dialogues Socrates spends the whole day working to establish just as much as these brothers already know: that one should recognize he is ignorant and worry about how this will affect his life.4 These two speeches at the beginning of Book Two pick up where the aporetic dialogues leave off.5 There is no other place in the dialogues where Socrates's interlocutor is given so much space to describe a problem and ask for Socrates's help, and no other place where the request is so frank, or is depicted with such dramatic power and psychological authenticity. Add to this that both the brothers speak: when Glaucon is finished Socrates is ready to try to reply but Adeimantus interrupts to tell him he will not let him off so easily (362DE), and adds his own challenge to Socrates -- a criticism of wisdom literature, to which the ensuing conversation itself will have been one of the greatest contributions.
These two speeches are unique in the corpus for the fullness in which they present a theory to be tested at the same time that they present a psychological profile of the speaker, which shows that the theory is not their only problem. The “affect” of the two speeches, if I may use this term in a general way, is far more important and far more recognizable, compelling, and true than the theories and criticisms the young men present. In truth the invisibility Gyges gets from his magic ring is useless, but we do not notice this if we are affected by Glaucon's rhetoric. Adeimantus on the other hand, in complaining about the inadequacies of wisdom literature, is at the same time criticizing his parents for failing to tell him something he thinks he does know after all, but will not own up to knowing. It is exactly because the affect and indirection of their speeches shows the problems are operating deep within the young men that Socrates immediately deflects the conversation away from the questions as the young men framed them and proposes instead to project the question of justice onto the canvas of an imaginary city, in which the problems and anxieties within the individual man are externalized and depersonalized and the question of justice becomes amenable to objective theoretical scrutiny.
In a nutshell, what gives the Republic its heft and its length is the large discrepancy between the brothers' theories that justice might not pay and that education has failed, and the affect with which they present them, a disconnect that both justifies and requires the length of the discussion, under Socrates's tutelage, that follows. The plurality of topics raised, though as in Hegel reached with easy segues and surprising unobtrusiveness, will in the aftermath be seen to have provided balm for the very anxieties expressed in those affects, and to have calmed the souls of the young men so that they can see further than they had, though in the end Adeimantus refuses to see and Glaucon runs out of steam. The general insight gained, about the objective structure of reality and truth in the Sun image and about the subjective structure of the soul that enables man to resonate with it, will marshal all these divagations into a single unifying and climactic image of the inner man within the outer man at the end of Book Nine, a climax that both motivates and gives cover for a coda that looks back on the literary vehicle by which it was reached so as to surpass it, as well as forward to the afterlife, a worry that know pales in comparison.
*
These are some of the more important conclusions of my rather long-evolving study of the work, which included reading it over and over through my life as many have, but then culminated in more concentrated work over the last six years that gradually became all-consuming, as it finally dawned on me that I had no choice but to write a commentary, given my lifelong devotion to Plato, my knowledge of Greek, but also the more lately developed belief that this text is far more important to us than all the other works written by this already very important author. The exciting cause, however, in both logical and emotional senses of the term, was a challenge to test my confidence in the overall truth and validity of Plato's project, in light of meeting René Girard several years ago and being served up his theory of desire, a theory that appeared to call everything into question and opened a new hermeneutic horizon for me. In the course of our meetings on Friday afternoons, René confessed a prejudice against Plato, which he led me to believe he regretted with his usual consummate grace, so that I set about trying to disabuse him of it. Immediately I discovered that Glaucon's fastidiousness about the simple polis in Book Two (372), which fatefully would require the entire re-construction of the city, evinced Plato's awareness of René's own theory of desire.6 René accepted my analysis and encouraged me to continue my study. A few months later, continuing like a Tiro to apply his uncanny insight about mimetic desire and its peculiar hermeneutic as ever I could, I discovered and brought to him the insight that the true significance of the story of Gyges in Herodotus was that Candaules made Gyges hide behind the door of his bedroom so that he himself could look across and see the desire in Gyges' eyes when his wife disrobed, and then send him away. René remarked that an abuse so exquisitely designed is just the sort of thing that leads to murder, a comment that sent me back to the version of the story we find in the Republic. The connection between Herodotus's and Glaucon's Gyges is famously riddled since Glaucon tells a different story, but with Girard's hermeneutic I seemed to discover a “mimetic” interpretation of Glaucon's speech, too: that the emotional outburst in which he suddenly imagines a sequence of tortures to subject the just man to is an expression of envy – a completely new interpretation as far as I know, that however came to be corroborated in spades by the dramatic sequelae of the argument and the ultimate closure of the discussion in Books Nine and Ten. It was envy also in Girard's sense, I seemed to see, that motivated Adeimantus's interruptions in Book Four and Six, and envy that spurred the contagion by which Polemarchus's objection in Book Five became unanimous, a unanimity of mob thinking that itself adumbrates the state of mind Socrates's jurors will choose to adopt at his trial in 399. An invisible and inward virtue of the sort Socrates and Glaucon had envisioned just before Polemarchus's interruption leaves a man severely alone with himself, after all, and deprives him of anything to imitate.
During the time of these meetings with Girard, I set up and carried out a “slow read” of the Republic in English one evening a week, with several adult students, which took a year. Soon after I conducted a one-week intensive read-through in English, meeting six hours a day at the University of Kent at Canterbury, hosted by Professor Stefan Rossbach. After these exercises I devoted a good deal of time to a concerted and meticulous reading of the Greek text with my student, Jason Karabatsos, that consisted of one or two three-hour meetings per week covering about one page per session, which occupied us for more than four years. Like Hans Sachs I came away from those sessions with a new song -- this commentary -- and Mr Karabatsos, like Sixtus Beckmesser, came away with a new pair of shoes -- his solid knowledge of Greek.
*
It will already be evident to those at all familiar with the secondary literature that the interpretation I am presenting does not fall within the usual range. Scholars still argue pro and con about the unity of the whole book; they conclude it was written at different times and with different purposes; they have strong but discrepant opinions as to whether the book is about the soul or politics; and they criticize the arguments and their methods as if they belong to a Plato they imagine behind the text they are sitting in front of. Above all it is an object of wonder to me that the most influential anglophone treatment of the book in recent decades can have found it wanting in almost every way. At the same time the literature barely recognizes the significance of the dramatic curve of the dialogue – the way Glaucon not only reverses his original outlook but apologizes for it in Book Ten, and the way Adeimantus's personal pride and skepticism bar him, in Book Six, from ascending to the Good, while for Glaucon it is only his stamina that falls short. Nobody to my knowledge has written on the huge discrepancy between theory and affect in the brothers' two speeches, just as nobody seems to reach the conclusion that Thrasymachus has no theory at all but only affect, trying to bowl over his audience with rhetoric and envy.
My interpretation, different as it may be, has come about as the cumulative result of a close reading of the Greek text whose twists and turns I delineate herewith in five thousand footnotes – though my “results” are of course affected by my own prejudices and marred I am sure by my own blind-spots. Relying as I feel I have done on the text, and having found the text amenable to something that still feels to me like a natural interpretation of a great work of literature written by a great prose artist, I have forgone to mention or engage the opinions of other persons who have written on the Republic, except for those who have written not essays but commentaries on all or part of the Greek text; and I have mentioned such commentators only to thank them for their guidance in individual passages or to defend my interpretation against theirs when we are significantly at odds. In fact I welcome, and will attribute, any corrections a generous reader might send me in the future.
In lieu of discussions about a development or shift within “Plato's thought” lurking behind what Socrates says to Adeimantus and Glaucon, the reader will find me concentrating instead on shifts in the styles Plato has given to Socrates and his interlocutors for enunciating what they have to say and managing the common endeavor of conversing with each other, including for instance the very special “ecphrastic” style Socrates uses during the decline of the city.7 Rather than comparing the propositional content of what is said in the Republic against a background of theses propounded elsewhere in the corpus I have tracked Plato's use of background lists, the traditional or received or conventional sets of categories Socrates shares with his interlocutors, which provide a conceptual platform, a linguistic context, and a structure of anticipation for a conversation on any topic that might arise out of the dramatic occasion of the dialogue – such as for instance the division of goods into psychic, bodily and external; or the categories of value as being the good, the beautiful and the just. In lieu of applying the formulas of propositional logic and inference to the sentences we encounter I have described the actual transitions from thought to thought which do not need to be logically valid in order to be fully understandable and vivid, the movement of thought as embodied not so much in the words as propositional termini as in the configuration and sequence of such words and the connectives and particles that link them and couch them and set the pace at which thought moves through them. It is not so important to me to wonder whether Plato remembers what he said in an early dialogue as to notice that Glaucon remembers what he himself said two hundred pages earlier, and thereby to recognize a development within the drama of the dialogue that he himself has recognized, rather than speculate about an external development in Plato's thought.8 In lieu of seeking to improve what Plato has said, my reader will find me saving and restoring a good number of manuscript readings that most or all editors have improved out of the text.9 In general I have paid attention to the persons Plato has put before us rather than engaging in the shadow play of determining what another person, Plato, might or must have been thinking behind the scenes so as to have them say what they say. The result is that we are vouchsafed a story with great power and truth, rather than being left to ignore or to try to believe the implication of the usual hermeneutic, that the Republic is a dramatically unverisimilar patchwork consisting of dubious and self-contradictory arguments of an ilk our author shows far too much control and intelligence to have been satisfied putting his name to.10
My sense is that I am presenting a reading fresh and new that can stand on its own: in fact, Plato's book is a very great ride. I hope that my many notes will help Plato's reader stay on the horse, register every bump, and savor every leap; and I hope also they will help him experience the conversation as the tennis match it is and watch the ball go back and forth, rather than find himself outside the give-and-take of the conversation and left with the impression so many have formed that he is hearing a series of blasts by Socrates that are unthinkingly cheered, one after the other, by his interlocutor. At the same time I recognize that my interpretation is nothing more than one alongside many, like another book set on the shelf in alphabetical order between the others squinting out to its potential reader through its narrow spine. My efforts will be rewarded if only I can imagine my readers finding some unexpected light in it, as I have sometimes found light in books I came across in a library or bookstore but never heard of, books that for all I knew had been sitting there unopened for years or decades. As to the general reader's inability to know whether my interpretation of the Greek is correct, I suggest to him that in the end it is the most edifying and trenchant and challenging interpretation – whether of Plato or any other author -- that will be of most use to him regardless of whether the interpretation is true, and I encourage him to measure my results on that ground alone. In saying this I am only agreeing with Plato, who himself takes great pains to make a similar point near the end of the Republic, when he tries to disabuse his readers of their reverence and reliance on Homer, and encourages them instead to make the best judgments they can about how to live their lives, following with courage and moderation the quiet light of their own reason.
The time and effort I have put into this study would not have been available to me except for the loyal and graceful and canny support of my wife, to whom I dedicate the work,
Laura Myers
conjunx dilectissima sine qua non
* * * * *
SOCRATES tells us he was walking back up to Athens, accompanied by his young friend Glaucon. Someone has sent his slave to run up from behind and detain them until his master catches up, to invite them to stay down in the Piraeus and come to his home. The master is Polemarchus, accompanied by Adeimantus, who is Glaucon's brother. The audience for whom this story was written will immediately be struck by the fact that the two tag-alongs, the one accompanying Socrates and the one accompanying the man who has accosted him, are the brothers of this story's author.
Within the house's main room the four of them find Polemarchus's elderly father, Cephalus. He has just come in from conducting a private sacrifice in his courtyard. A few others have already gathered there, including Thrasymachus the teacher of rhetoric visiting Piraeus from Calcedon, who might have come to teach his sons. The old man claims he wants to talk with Socrates, but perhaps only so that he can complain that he does not come down to visit often enough, now that he himself can no longer make his way up to Athens so easily. Socrates turns gracefully away from recrimination about future and past conversations in order to make something of the present one. As an older man, might Cephalus be able to tell the younger men present what lies before them? Cephalus replies, and again his statements describe himself by contrasting himself from others. Yes, he is old – but not as old as those cronies of his make old age out to be by their complaints; yes, he is rich – but riches alone do not make the man any more than Athens made Pericles; yes, he inherited money – but less than his father did whereas he increased the sum he inherited by a moderate amount rather than squandering most of his inheritance as his own father had. Out of all these clever comparisons Socrates’s attention is drawn to what seems to be Cephalus’s moderate attitude about money (in fact, Cephalus was the largest industrialist we know of in the Fifth Century, with a huge weapons factory that employed hundreds). Although most rich persons talk only of money, perhaps Cephalus has some other values he would like pass along? Money, says Cephalus, does has its value, alright, for it enables a man to ensure that he has righted things with men and gods before he dies, so that he can go on to face his death with equanimity. And the moment arrives that always arrives in a conversation with Socrates: the abruptly pertinent but unexpected question the speaker thought he would not be asked nor could be presumed to be able to answer: “What does it really mean to 'right' things?' Surely not, for instance, to return a weapon you had borrowed to its 'rightful' owner, if he had gone mad since the time you borrowed it?”
With this, the easy breeze of words emanating from this seasoned windbag suddenly abates – one has the sense he had recited all these clever witticisms before – in the face of Socrates's disarming question, and just as suddenly our loquacious host decides to leave. He bequeathes to his son, Polemarchus, the debt to explain his position, who will after all, he jokes, be inheriting everything else he has to leave. For his own part he will return to his sacrifices – to set things right with the gods, we suddenly realize in a flash.
His son has no immediate desire to know what “righting things” might mean but does accept the debt his father has saddled him with – as heirs do, as often as not to their detriment. He seeks to corroborate his father's paternal authority by adducing the maxim of the old wisdom poet Simonides, who said somewhere that righting things is doing what one owes or ought to do. Socrates's questions now begin, and require him to modify his thesis over and over again, each modification bringing on its own unforeseen consequences, until in the end his original position turns into its own opposite. The conversation is tedious and unimportant all along, largely because Polemarchus has no personal stake in it. They are arguing in mere abstractions that are only complicated and never clarified by individual instances or examples, and we are served an exercise or a lesson in dialectical exchange, something not entirely worthless in itself. In the end Polemarchus is utterly confused, but the one outcome that is significant is that he has accrued a sense that of joint endeavor with Socrates. Someday they will search for a better answer that avoids the implications of his original position. In short Polemarchus has found something better than the fealty toward his father that had led him to defend his position for better or worse.
Suddenly another person butts in, with a loud and angry taunt: “How long will you two be carrying on this stupid game, Socrates?” It is Thrasymachus, the rhetorician from abroad, chafing to display his artistry to the group. Though he addresses both of them he blames only Socrates, adding the taunt that Socrates's usual ploy is to make a show of asking questions in order to avoid having to give answers of his own. The accusation is meant not to force Socrates to give an answer so much as to capture the attention of the others. The truth is that Thrasymachus wishes to deliver a message of his own to that audience, an “answer,” indeed, that is not truly a thesis to be upheld but an assertion that will scandalize them and move him into the center of attention. The overall message he wants to convey is that it is foolish to worry about appearing a just and upright man, when a person can become the master of all those around him merely by the force of oratory. He interrupted with the demand that Socrates give an answer, but since he must be the center of attention it soon enough devolves upon him to give an answer of his own, the “excellent answer” as he calls it, the answer that “Justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger.”
All he means by this is that for a person to “act justly” – i.e., to limit his own concupiscence – does nothing but provide the strong man, who suffers not such self-imposed limit, an opportunity to increase the sway of his own. But Socrates as usual takes his interlocutor at his word and quickly shows it to be nonsense. What if this strong man who accedes to power unlimited by scruples orders the weaker whom he rules to do something contrary to his own interests? Thrasymachus immediately raises the stakes, at the risk of losing the argument, to thrill the audience even more, by saying the strong man he is talking about cannot err! Socrates subsequently reduces his position to contradiction in a way that reveals to Plato's reader the depth of Thrasymachus's own blindness, forcing Thrasymachus finally to move on to his original plan, the plan he came in with – to deliver a set speech he carries around with him, designed to will bowl the audience over and end all discussion: “Leave off your pussy-footing over these small matters of law,” he asserts, “these procedural niceties and fair play. The real game is to shoot for the moon, and when the people around you see you doing this they will admire you so greatly that they will even enslave themselves to you just for the sake of giving themselves an opportunity to witness the spectacle of a tyrant who never has to look back!” It is by far the longest speech of the night so far.
Completely of a piece with his own description of the strong man, Thrasymachus now stands up to leave, as if he has no more time for the group, but Socrates calls him back. Beyond the issue of defining justice, what he has just now said could have a lifelong effect on a person who heeded it, and so it must not go unanswered. He submits Thrasymachus’s “thesis” to a series of attacks but it is not truly a “thesis” that is being advanced as if on its merits, and the arrows he sets against it hit the mark but do not quench the effect it has had, now that the bell has been rung. Thrasymachus recedes into silence, gloating. We have now undergone a third lesson on the vicissitudes of dialogue, to set alongside the conversations Socrates has had with Polemarchus and with Cephalus.
As we soon learn , Thrasymachus has gotten under Glaucon's skin – again, he ruefully adds. He now engages Socrates in a conversation with an offer he cannot refuse, for his refutation of Thrasymachus was only a seeming refutation not a refutation in truth (Socrates’s favorite distinction): to prove what justice isn’t is not to prove what it is, so he now asks the man he came in with to immunize him for once and for all against such speeches, speeches he hears all too often but somehow can't get out of his head: the argument that justice is nothing but an agreement among the weak and the fearful not to molest one another, though by their nature they would surely do exactly this; the ineluctable sense that if one had a magic ring that made him invisible one would feel no bar against doing all sorts of bad things; and the corrosive sense that if one really wished to believe it is good to be just and bad to be unjust, he will have to prefer the pitiable existence of a martyr – just imagine him, impaled on display – instead of the life of a secretly unjust man universally acclaimed to be great.
Of course, there are blind-spots in Glaucon's confession, as there are in all true confessions. A person voluntarily confesses only when he believes it might lead to a remedy. The argumentative exercises of dodge and parry we underwent during the conversations with Cephalus and Thrasymachus might have prepared us to notice such blind spots as these. How for instance can justice have no “natural” reality of its own, whereas injustice was always there by nature? Apparently “injustice” means violent behavior, not the absence or contradictory of justice. As to the idea that if one had a ring that made him invisible he would not be able to resist committing all sorts of unjust acts, the acts Glaucon imagines in his parable could not have been committed by an invisible man. What he in fact imagines, though it remains subconscious, is that the ring would make him invisible to himself – that is, that he could escape his own conscience. Third, what is it that drives Glaucon to submit the perfectly just man to a series of tortures culminating in impalement, and to put his disfigured body on display before the world? He claims that it will enable the just man to infer that he should have chosen injustice, but it is only the viewer of the impaled corpse that could infer this: the just man he imagines will by now have been reduced to a blinded corpse that will neither see nor learn anything.
Socrates is moved by Glaucon's speech and is ready to reply but Adeimantus interrupts, insisting brusquely that he has something even more important to say than Glaucon. Though the interruption as such is unwelcome Socrates rolls with the punch, and even goes to the trouble of providing Adeimantus a justification: “Let brother help brother.” We are given an occasion to remember perhaps the third brother who wrote the book we are reading, but regardless, what follows is a speech just as long as Glaucon's in which Adeimantus criticizes the way parents rely on wisdom-poetry in the upbringing of their children. The poetry encourages just behavior merely by promising monetary rewards and an afterlife of pleasure, as if there were no subtler goods to desire nor evils to avoid. Worse, although the poetic tradition condescends to acknowledge that to be good is difficult, it praises at the same time such astute behavior as avoids the cost of practicing virtue in this life. And there is more. Certain particularly clever poets suggest the gods can be cajoled or bribed to reverse the punishments meted out in the afterlife, and even to do so after the sinner has passed away. What can we expect an astute and subtle young man who has heard all this to think as he embarks on the path to eminence and success? We therefore need you, Socrates, to prove to us that virtue is its own reward, you who have spent so much of your life on this question, or else we will blame you along with the wisdom poets for failing to teach us to avoid allowing vice into our lives!
The tone of Adeimantus's speech hardly comports with his request. Though he claims so sorely to desire a better poetry and upbringing, his speech is so much driven by a recrimination against his parents that in the end he threatens to extend his criticism even to Socrates, in case he fails to respond adequately (“for you have spent your whole life on these things” – as he will say again in Book Six) regardless whether he is willing to respond, let alone able to, or might not think the questions deserve a response as Adeimantus has framed them. To the extent that Adeimantus is by now old enough to take responsibility for himself, he can no longer hold Socrates or anyone else responsible to answer for him. When in the last part of his speech he depicts the young man's good mind debating with his bad mind and losing, he shows us, unbeknownst to himself, that he has lost the debate in his own mind, so that it is no longer clear whether he truly wants help to do the right or wants instead an excuse for having failed and continuing to fail to do so. We may contrast his importunate manner of requiring Socrates to answer, with the more manly gesture of Glaucon, who knows how to engage his friend Socrates and make him “an offer he can't refuse.” Suddenly the comparison reminds us that Glaucon came in with Socrates but Adeimantus, his brother, came in with Cephalus’s son, Polemarchus.
The brothers' challenges are very different, though they could both be overcome with one response – a proof that a just life is in itself choiceworthy. And yet we already know that more than proof will be needed to satisfy the brothers: Glaucon has shown himself to be seduced by his imagination and Adeimantus has shown an obdurate or recalcitrant despondency that stems from disappointment over the model his father had provided him. Such emotions will thwart them both from acquiescing to mere “proof.” The force of Thrasymachus’s seductive speech had itself somehow survived the rational “refutation” Socrates had amply provided against it. So Socrates must do more. He must bring it about that the brothers come to admire and to love justice, and to desire to be just.
He begins his response to them by doing two things. First, he expresses faith in the brothers – their lineage as sons of Ariston suggests they are of a higher nature than these very cynical speeches would indicate; and second he promises to do all he can on behalf of justice, which has come under attack, and then proposes an indirect method for defending her. Let us in our imaginations populate a City and see where justice resides there, on a larger canvas where it would be easier to see, and only then, using this as a guide, turn back to look for such justice within ourselves. This proposal is fraught with methodological fallacies, but the brothers voice no qualms, and all that matters is whether in the end it will work.We might liken the exercise to a game with toy soldiers, a therapeutic technique indeed not unknown in the psychiatrist’s counselling room.The distancing it provides might give the brothers enough psychic breathing room that each on his own terms might describe at ease what people seen at a theoretical distance ought to do, before they are compelled by the argument to embrace doing such things in their own lives!
Still in conversation with the second brother to speak, Socrates and Adeimantus now populate a City with the figures of artisans that would be required for fulfilling the basic human needs – a cobbler, a weaver, a house builder and a farmer, and a small set of other functionaries for which their trades eventuate a need, such as a smith to make a plow. Once this is complete Socrates asks him, “Where is justice in this picture?” and Adeimantus is not sure but wonders if it might be in the use or need these specialists have for each other. Socrates ignores his answer and decides to fill out the picture of the simple and honest home life of these working persons, even though it has nothing to do with their interrelations at all, a picture replete with the calm tranquillity of the evening meal of mash and vegetables served on broad leaves and eaten on the ground, as they sip a little wine and pray to the gods and sustain their family. The passage is strikingly eloquent – I hear in it the model for the later literary form of the idyll – and perhaps it is the surprising juxtaposition of eloquence and simplicity in what it depicts that arouses Glaucon to interrupt: Socrates has praised their lives as festive tranquillity, but the fare he feeds them lacks any dash. Socrates again takes his interlocutor at his word and adds a host of condiments, like olives and chickpeas, as if it were actually the fare that Glaucon had found objectionable, and Glaucon now objects to his multiplication of delicacies, as if Socrates were throwing fodder into a sty!
What bothers him, as we will see by reading the passage itself, is the vision of men “merely” living their lives and then dying, but Glaucon will not admit this. So Socrates asks, “If the one diet is not enough and the other is too much, what, dear Glaucon, would be just right?” Bashfully he requests “merely the conventional things – tables and chairs if they are not to live in permanent discomfort, and the rather better fare that we have become accustomed to, as well, including – yes – dessert!” Socrates again “goes with the pitch” and adds not just chairs but all sorts of luxuries, over and over again, Glaucon this time accepting them without demur or hesitation. But for the city to provide these will require an expansion and an amassing of wealth that will lead to war – both to defend our own riches but also to provide for our increased “needs” – and so an army is needed, and now Glaucon begins to rue the unforeseen consequences of his desire for the expanding provision of what he had portrayed as merely “basic comforts.” Abashed, he hopes the citizens themselves can do the fighting, and in response Socrates scolds him for failing to recognize the original policy he had reached with Adeimantus, that shoemaking and the other crafts should be specialized, and imagining instead that fighting does not require specialists, as if merely to suit up in armor could make a man a soldier.
The thought experiment of the City has now yielded its first dividend: it has smoked out Glaucon’s concupiscence. But also, because he realizes his hope for an automatic army was foolish, he now accepts responsibility to solve the problem his own proposal brought upon them: What will keep the guards from turning into wolves that consume the flock? It is the Thrasymachean problem of course, viewed from the other side. It seems against nature to imagine a person fierce enough to fight for the city but loyal enough not to molest it. But wait! Within the natural world we witness the dog, which by its nature combines these very elements! We need guards who will likewise blend those same elements of fierceness toward the foreign and loyalty toward the familiar.
In addition to nature there is its old standby, nurture; and the fundamental nurturing of the young itself traditionally falls into the studies of gymnastics and music. Our conversants are managing their research with the aid of conventional divisions or lists that lie in the background of all conversation. As to the children’s study of Music itself (they being yet too young to do gymnastics) music itself breaks down into by convention into the stories of the poems and their “music proper.” On the subtopic of “stories” Socrates coyly asks Glaucon how much time they should devote to it, and this elicits an interruption from Adeimantus who insists they spend all the time they may need to. He is a stakeholder in the question, after all, for he had complained that the poetry on which he was brought up lacked what might have convinced him to choose a just life over an unjust one. A second great dividend has been yielded by the thought-experiment of the City, for now Adeimantus has decided that even if he cannot reform his parents, at least he will try, in theory, to reform the education!
The organization of the stories that Socrates and Adeimantus will now evaluate, is determined by another background list – gods-heroes-men – a triad that constitutes a comprehensive division of who or what the stories might be about. Distinguishing the tales told from what they are told about makes it possible to measure the stories for their truth – not their factual truth for they are of course fictional, but their truth in a more catholic sense. For instance, as for the gods, if we view them as they are in themselves rather than as they have been described in stories, they must be good; and from this we can infer and insist that they are unchanging (changing could only make them worse) and that they have no need to change or to lie or dissimulate. Surely then they would not, for instance, accept bribes. As for the class of heroes, these must also behave well or else they would not be the offspring of gods, but the important fact about heroes is that we can emulate them, since they provide standards for behavior that men can strive to achieve but may understandably fall short of so that men can emulate the heroes without entering into rivalry with each other. For these reasons they are particularly serviceable models.
But as for stories about men, we would beg the original question of our whole Experiment to ask what sorts of human actions are proper, since after all it is the nature of just and proper behavior we are trying to discover, and so we have gone as far as we can on the subject matter of stories. And yet there is another aspect of poetic learning besides story (i.e. logos), namely the aspect of memorization and recitation (i.e. lexis). Adeimantus does not recognize this distinction, and in fact it is not borrowed from the common background like the other divisions we have seen so far, but is perfectly new. It may well become topical for ancient readers of this book, but Socrates has invented it on the spot for the sake of the conversation, in order to provide them the opportunity to investigate how the recitation of poetry might affect an impressionable young man, such a young man indeed as Adeimantus had in his speech depicted arguing with himself. If such a young man must recite the words of unjust, intemperate, or cowardly men in a representative way (as we had heard Adeimantus’s young man trying to do!) he will need to take in these characteristics, into his soul. And so, indirectly, that third element of the background list of story-subjects, the behavior of men, comes back into play through the back door. The two of them conclude that they must control the scope of imitation in the recitation of poetry, lest the young man becomes so convincing an actor as that he convinces himself! The background division of gods, heroes, and men provided the treatment of stories with a beginning, middle, and end, but the net effect is that the very sorts of poems Adeimantus complained about will not be taught to the impressionable youth whom he had envisioned being corrupted, in his speech.
The larger division of which this division was a part, the division between the story aspect and the musical aspect of music, effortlessly bequeathes Socrates his next topic, but it is the identity of his next interlocutor that is the more important news. Just as Adeimantus had intervened to ensure that the treatment of story would be adequate, Glaucon now steps in to insist that the treatment of music receive the attention that he, in turn, wants it to. It is no surprise that this more emotional and sincere young man should feel and confess a weakness for music. And as it turns out, the “characterology” that had emerged in the treatment of stories supplies all the criteria they need for choosing which musical modes and rhythms will be appropriate, for modes and rhythms of course have ethical meanings of their own that correspond to the ethics of the behavior depicted in the stories. Naturally then the modes and rhythms we will be admitting into the education will be those that are heroic and even-tempered, rather than confused and emotional. We might have noticed a general absence of reason in their youthful education so far (though one does feel a suggestion that reason might be the counterpoint to the emotional loss of control that has been avoided throughout), just now reason in a purer sense makes a more explicit appearance in the argument, and it does so in a very new and unexpected way. If the orderliness of the personality can be seen to “translate” into an orderliness of rhythm and tonal scale, there would seem to be an all-embracing orderliness per se, independent of but overarching all its various embodiments. The orderliness embodied in all these media (like all other such “-ness” ’s, if I may put it this way) is a thing to be recognized in and of itself, by reason. We flirt for a moment with the Theory of Forms, and contemplate for a moment an airy vision of our impressionable youths browsing in the ambience of a beauty affecting all the senses, mediated by reason.
Music now complete, the larger division in the background – the division between music in general (which includes both story and what we mean by music these days) and gymnastics – now provides Glaucon and Socrates their next transition, and once again a conventional topic that will organize the treatment, the proper care of the body. We might stop just long enough to reflect that the discourse has been structured at one moment by the subdivision of its own contents but then at another by the interruptions of Socrates’s two interlocutors, and to all appearances this has gone on freely and naturally. The second aspect of nurture, gymnastics, now dovetails neatly with the identity of Socrates’s interlocutor at the moment, since it was Glaucon after all who asked for “garnish” or “dash” and then became enervated with all the delicacies Socrates offered, though immediately thereupon he had quietly acquiesced in the heaping-on of luxuries which in turn caused all the problems that have now devolved upon them to solve. Another dividend has been yielded in the very implementation of the Experiment. Socrates, talking with this same Glaucon, finds himself now in a position to satirize the excessive diets of a luxurious regime and the nursing of disease it leads to; and once he has completed that step he can discover, through recognizing that litigiousness is a sign of corruption and through an interesting distinction between the work of judge and that of the doctor, according to which they should not both be experienced in the problems it is their job to solve, that in all cases it is soul after all that is in charge of body. Though the doctor may learn something about treating disease by himself becoming sick, the judge would do better to avoid any damage the soul with which he must do his judging! The immediate corollary is that the very background notion they had been depending upon, that music is for the soul and gymnastics is for the body, was never quite right, since the purpose of both disciplines is in truth to establish the proper balance and tension within the soul. We may stop just long enough to observe once again that just as a traditional list can give the argument its structure, the argument it leads to can achieve, on its own, the authority to turn back upon and emend that list, just had Socrates had discovered and deployed an unforeseen division between logos and lexis, above.
The education is now complete, and we may now optimize our choice of guards by deciding, with tests of daring and fortitude, which of our young graduates are particularly strong of soul and immune to the sort of enervation that Glaucon himself had suddenly displayed at the sight of the simple life, back in Book Two. Socrates now finishes the story with the myth of metals by which the gradations of natural ability they have discovered through testing their students can be buried from their own consciousness and memory by convincing them that their education was a dream and that it is now on the basis of their inborn “metals” that we have assigned them higher and lower roles in our City. He then caps this preposterous conceit by envisioning the group of them all going forth and finding a proper site for their City, and ushers the guards off to their separate and sequestered camp and their simple beds. In Socrates’s description of their humble regime, the very language that had enervated Glaucon in Book Two returns, and he does fret a little, but Socrates takes a deep breath and brings him over by warning him how easily a person's passions can be aroused by luxury (as indeed Glaucon’s had been, back in Book Two). Glaucon then roundly acquiesces in the severely moderate regime of the guards.In the person of Glaucon, the feverish city has been purged, and the healthy city has been founded!
But there is another brother to convince who now gives voice to his own kind of enervation, admonishing Socrates that he would be liable to ridicule for conceiving of guards that would allow themselves to be deprived of riches, in this way. He avoids confessing these are his own feelings and even feigns they are not, though it becomes plain that they are from the increasingly concupiscent tone with which he lists the items he blames Socrates for keeping from them. Socrates immediately agrees – as usual! – but reminds him that it is not for the guards that they are making the City (though the young men's identification with the guards in the fictional experiment is after all the mechanism by which they are learning and accepting self-improvement, as we have just seen in the case of Glaucon). Wealth does indeed divide a city, and we need unity to make our experiment successful and complete. The quality of the education is the lynchpin of the entire enterprise, as Adeimantus himself had insisted in his big speech and had agreed during the discussion about poetry – but now we see Adeimantus agreeing a little too adamantly. He has little tolerance for persons that become enervated easily and shows a puritanical streak of his own, which Socrates notices and tries to humor into toleration, with little success. It is as much Adeimantus's mood that is being dealt with as it is the finishing touches of the City – or it is both at once.
But now the City is complete – the final details, for instance concerning family organization, can be left to others – and it is time for the young men to find justice in it. Socrates acts as if he will leave this part up to Glaucon and Adeimantus, but Glaucon calls him back and thereby becomes the interlocutor once again. “But Socrates, you promised to do all you could!” – and so he must continue. The movement forward is provided by another background list, the four cardinal virtues: wisdom, bravery, temperance, and justice. Socrates proposes a strangely front-loaded method. If we can find where the city's wisdom is, and where its bravery and where its moderation, and then pick those parts out, the just part we are seeking will be the remainder. The logic of this method is just as questionable as was that of the original method of the large letters, but beggars can't be choosers, and the brothers again express no qualms. First of all, we can surely say that wisdom resides in the rulers who have the education to provide good counsel, and bravery in the guards at large. But moderation is different from those, for it permeates the entire City (vitiating the method of course, since if modesty is everywhere it can’t be pulled out – but nobody notices). And now where is justice? After some beating around the bush it occurs to them that it consists of the parts of the city keeping to their own roles just as they had required the craftsmen to do so early on in the construction of the simple City!
Socrates is not worried about the validity of this argument but only its potential, once it is hypothesized, to explain the soul, which had been the goal of the construction all along, once the young men could be calmed down and attuned enough to appreciate it. To this he will now turn, but immediately there is a problem. If justice in the City is a matter of its several “parts” or groups agreeing to recognize each other's integrity, the soul must itself have parts in order that the justice within it could be that sort of agreement within! This peculiar focus on “parts of soul” requires Socrates (more accurately, it provides him an occasion) to investigate with Glaucon whether the soul does have parts, but of course it will be with, or within, or through all or through part of their own souls that they will be conducting this investigation! Socrates immediately wakens the reason in Glaucon (and in us), both with an extremely abstract argument from the Law of Non-contradiction, and with a prophylactic exercise against captious sophistry, so that he can go on to present a purely rational articulation of the structure of desire. Once these two aspects of soul have been divided from each other it becomes easy to distinguish a willful and spirited third aspect, distinct from each, and so now we have three parts, which we must next try to square up with the three parts of the City that we constructed. Once the rulers are likened to the rational part and the soldiers to the willful one, we have only to realize that the rest of the soul, that is moved through its days by its desires, corresponds to the workers that continually provide the quotidien goods and services upon which life depends.
This hurdle passed, the great question is now prepared: What would justice be, in the soul? If as in the City it is the parts minding their own proper business, then justice would consist of the rational part of the soul, which by nature rules as we have just undergone seeing in the previous argument, managing the rest of soul with the aid of the spirited soldierly part. Reason and spirit will be harmonized to each other by the musical and gymnastic education – a still finer application for that traditional scheme of education than we had seen before, though we had there learned at least that both gymnastics and music are for the soul – and together these two parts will hold the passions at bay and even enslave them, if necessary, lest freed these should foolishly overturn the entire order of the soul.
The conclusion they have come upon has not been shown to be necessary. The argument and its methodology are a house of cards held in place partly by luck. But it is a stunningly convincing conclusion because of the way our souls (the soul of Glaucon and ours as well) have been prepared for it by the highly rational exercise in dividing the soul, the moral of which is tantamount to the same thing: that reason is truly the criterion of and for the soul. Justice, we can aver from the now envigorated center of ourselves, is an entirely personal and inward matter, the triumph of reason over the blind parts of the self. But in case some part of us feels a little vertigo and cavils over our conclusion, some vulgar proofs can be added in corroboration (and Socrates adds them), but the glorious truth is that we have found the order within our selves, unaffected by the behavior of others. As for our treatment of those others, Glaucon now makes the clinching argument, using indeed the very argument-form Socrates had used to shame him for his bashful hope that untrained citizens could step in as soldiers when they could not become shoemakers: the argument from contraries. How could we, who worry that life would be unlivable if our bodies were vitiated, allow our treatment of others to ruin “the part of ourselves that is harmed by vice and benefitted by virtue?”
A height with a vista has been reached, but the rest of the group, suddenly spurred on by Polemarchus and seconded by Adeimantus, will bring the two of them back down, on the pretext that Socrates had not adequately explained the community of wives and children, a point that he had passed by in praeteritio, an hour earlier, to which nobody there objected. We must remember that living the life of the soul, like conversing with Socrates, though always attractive and edifying, can and will be tolerated only in limited doses. Indeed, it is to the credit of the Athenians that they tolerated the admonitions of Socrates for all of seventy years! Always and continually men prefer to return to the “normal” world for relief. But now this “normal” world into which we would escape from the pressure of inward awareness reveals itself, in a height of paradox, to be exactly the public world, the only world into which we can escape from ourselves! It is an unexpected corollary of the insight about the soul we just reached with Glaucon and Socrates, that politics and its range of virtues and vices, which provide a more comfortable range of human hope and despair since the heights are not so high nor likewise the lows so low, has now come into view as the realm not of reality and sunlight but of oblivion and an escape into a conspiracy of blindness.
There is no surprise then that the motion put forth by Polemarchus and Adeimantus, that they go back to the details about the imaginary City, becomes unanimous in the blink of an eye. The event that has the greatest dramatic importance is that even Glaucon joins in, so that Socrates must return to the City-construct even though it is patent to anybody who has understood the previous discussion that the City in now a “ladder thrown away.” The detour that the group suddenly requires him to make is not fatally erroneous – it is not a return into the cave or a turning back into Sheol. In fact, the theoretical medium of the ideal City is plastic and forgiving, especially in Socrates's hands. As usual he feigns to agree with the objection, and now takes up the task of justifying the ideal picture against the scandals that the conventional outlook has complacently put in his path, the threat to which outlook was the main motive for Polemarchus's interruption, a motive strengthened by the seductive distraction of a prurient curiosity regarding sexual matters. Glaucon, by luck (that is, by Plato’s design), will be Socrates’s interlocutor, and the movement and course of the coming phase of the discussion between them will aim to stem the tide of the mob’s stupid laughter, and to re-establish the commitment to reason the two of them had reached before, within Socrates and Glaucon at least, and to allow that commitment to take them wherever it might lead.
Glaucon enjoys the idealistic play at policy-making and moves right through the paradoxes of shared spouses and sexual roles at Socrates's side (and so will we, if Plato is to succeed); but the enjoyment of this dreamy stroll, as well as an occasional flash of theoretical vertigo, remind him of the pragmatic problem, the problem of whether such a scheme can actually be realized. Socrates goes on undaunted and requires Glaucon come along, but finally Glaucon puts his foot down: “If I let you go on you will never get to the question whether all this is feasible!” But even as he says this he himself indulges in more ideal imaginings, at first in praeteritio (and even then bursting the lengths of a praeteritio), but then resolutely stops even himself so as to require Socrates finally to face the question. For once Socrates fights back: “The pressure is not really upon me: let me remind you this whole construction was designed to discover the nature of justice so that whatever result we might reach about the City, that result would redound as an incumbency upon you as an individual to act upon! As such we do not need to know if our City is realizable but whether our construction is correct enough to have yielded a vision of justice. Besides, words will always be truer than deeds, regardless of what people say!”
This is the final dividend of the thought-experiment the brothers acquiesced to join, back in Book Two. If Socrates would provide them a safe medium in which to project an inquiry concerning their personal problems, the results of that inquiry must be allowed to redound back upon them as participants in the experiment. The chickens have come home to roost. Wonderfully, and once again, Glaucon does rise to the occasion and takes the next step upward, as he had at the mention of the humble beds of the guards at the end of Book Three, a step up and back to a radical reliance on reason and the world it knows, in the face of such cavils as Polemarchus and any crowd will fabricate on the barest of pretexts.
But Socrates does not leave it there. Once Glaucon has taken this step he serves him up an even greater paradox than the ones Polemarchus and Adeimantus had served upon him about the sexes and the spouses, a paradox that has nothing to do with those scandals of theirs but rather turns them on their head. Either the Polemarchuses (and Adeimantuses) of this world, if they yearn for politics, must become philosophers, or philosophers – persons, that is, who have made the choice Glaucon has just made – must become the Polemarchuses (and Adeiantuses) of this world. Glaucon's choice to drop his dodge of pragmatism has now saddled him with an incumbency to bear witness to his own rationality in the face of the world, a world that will ridicule him at first and will kill him if necessary – a thing that Glaucon knows, just as he knows it places him into the same small boat as Socrates, and decides to take it on nevertheless: “They will come at you with brickbats but I will fight at your side!” he says to Socrates.
Plato has the others remain silent at the moment this great paradox is introduced, just as he allows Glaucon and Socrates to ignore those others. For the two of them have work to do, namely to decide what this philosopher is – how he is different from the persons that surround him and how this difference requires that he be their leader. The wisdom-lover they have in mind is not to be confused with those types that gad about chasing down spectacles but, if spectacle it must be, those who pursue the spectacle of truth. Their desire for the real truth enables them to recognize that it resides not in the many versions and entertainments that fleetingly embody it, but in the common original these versions fleetingly embody, while the other persons around them are satisfied to repeat their passing brushes with real truth as long as these take place in different venues, and not only cannot follow the discussion about an original beyond them but also resist the mention of any such thing. They are not ignorant, for they keep coming back; and yet they lack real knowledge since they refuse the communion with the invisible truth, or the still small voice, from the beyond. We must identify this middling state of consciousness as opinion and call them not lovers of wisdom, philosophers, but philodoxers, lovers of doxa or opinion – a new term that only our identification of the philosophical orientation as a love that is higher has enabled us to coin. A person who has reached this vista and holds such a large view, assuming he is not deficient in practical knowledge, would surely have the insight and the greatness of soul and clarity about what is truly valuable needed to rule over others, to the point that even Momus, the mumbling god of censure, could find no fault in him!
Glaucon and Socrates have reached another theoretical climax, as they had at the end of Book Four and at the end of Book Three – and again they are brought down by an interruption, once again by Adeimantus. To say the philosopher is beyond Momus only tempted Momus after all, and Adeimantus, who had worried in his long speech how one might make his way to the heights of eminence, now plays Momus himself, employing his usual method of indirection by imagining “somebody” disagreeing, not only with what Socrates has said but also with what he has been doing. “Your way of conversing could lead a person absolutely anywhere; but if you just will stop talking and open your eyes and look around you, you will see that philosophers are weirdoes if not utter scoundrels, and that even the best of men who become philosophical become useless in politics.”
Of course Socrates agrees with his interlocutor, this time in order to buy an opportunity to introduce an image. The philosopher is like a ship's captain as he is seen by the sailors in the boat. Although seafaring is one of the most dangerous of cooperative human endeavors, the sailors are foolish enough to think there is no science of navigation but only aspire to seize the helm and “take charge” though they are unqualified to do so. In their ignorance, all they see at the helm is a man deaf to their scuttlebutt, looking off to the stars and to all appearances blind to the immediate world around him,. This unattractive image of the imprudent mob separates the disdainful Adeimantus from the imaginary objector he was just now hiding behind and requires him to engage once more in the kind of conversation with Socrates that his own imaginary interlocutor had just mischaracterized as misleading. At the same time, the style of Socrates’s subsequent questions becomes more elevated, in a way that might just flatter that penchant for elevated talk that Adeimantus had shown in Book Four. Yes, the philosopher is useless but this is because the mob has no use for him; yes, the would-be philosophical types are crude logic-choppers but this is because they are tinkering interlopers seeking to appropriate her high reputations to themselves, not truly philosophical but only trying to appear so; and yes, many of the better types who have philosophical ability become corrupted, but it is not by the sophistical teachers their parents both hire and blame, but by the seduction of the mob whose moods and desires even these sophists play servant to. It is the seduction of celebrity that is the true problem, a seduction that compels even the parents of the young and gifted to turn them away from contemplation and curry favor among the mob and the world of action and power! Short of divine intervention, only the hobbled and lame can hope to persist in a life of philosophy!
In the midst of all this pother of high indignation we should not fail to notice that the true motive of a parent's mendacious acquiescence in the use of wisdom poetry has in passing been finally been revealed, and it is the same motive as his own motive for corruption. It is a motive he shares with his parents in their use of wisdom poetry in his upbringing. In truth he has no brief with the blamelessly virtuous philosopher that Glaucon and Socrates had described but has only envy that such a person has succeeded to evade the seduction of attempting to “climbing the heights to eminence,” and in the subsequent conversation it is envy that Socrates identifies as the reason people are skeptical about the possibility of philosophical rule, a kind of envy that Adeimantus must himself now overcome.
The introduction of the philosophical orientation required in the ruler was brought on by Socrates’s challenge to Glaucon in Book Five that he drop all reliance on a world of deeds and join Socrates in the truer world of thinking. It was then carried through in the discussion with Adeimantus, where his own sense of shame for choosing the world of deeds over words was exposed as the reason for his objection to the philosophers as well as his complaint against his father and the wisdom poetry. Tactfully, Socrates now turns the glaring light away from Adeimantus and focusses it back onto the “neutral” theoretical medium of the ideal City. Now that they have come to inherit from the ensuing argument philosophical rulers for the ideal City that he and Adeimantus had rounded out back in Book Four, they must find the education that will make their rulers so. We had so far managed to choose the proper natures and give them the proper nurture in music and gymnastics, but beyond nature and nurture there is science, another of the great background lists in the Greek thought-vocabulary. This most powerful and important study, which philosophy will enable them to pursue and which will ensure they have values true and secure enough that they can rule the city correctly, is of course the study of The Good, but what is the good?
Adeimantus acts as if he has no inkling what this Good might be and admonishes Socrates that the group will not let him leave without solving the problem. Socrates’s reply is uncharacteristically abrasive: we saw him adopt such a tone once before, with Glaucon, in the last Book. Surely Adeimantus knows the problem well and needs not rely so heavily upon Socrates. The good cannot be pleasure since some pleasures are bad, and it cannot be knowledge since the value of knowledge would have to be in its knowledge of the good. All other putative goods are good only if and when they share in its goodness. Moreover though men might be satisfied to be apparently just, or satisfied to possess apparent beauty, they are not satisfied to have what is only apparently good but demand no less than the real and true good. After all this problematizing of his, Adeimantus once again presses him for his own personal answer and now Socrates loses his patience. “What am I to do with this fellow?” he asks nobody in particular. Adeimantus ups the ante still further and insists Socrates divulge the answer – since after all he has spent his whole life studying this question (echoing his taunt from Book Two). It does not occur to Adeimantus that the very fact that Socrates has done just this might have something to do with his reluctance to hand him some answer as if it were a matter of information. Socrates could call him back to listen to himself, as Jesus had in his answer to Pilate, “You said it;” but instead he turns on him and demurs to lead him any further: “Why do you press me for some paltry and ignorant answer when you could get a finer answer from somebody else?”
Glaucon does not wait for some retort from Adeimantus but intervenes. He feels Socrates is threatening to quit the conversation! “Proceed as ever you wish, Socrates, and we will follow.” The standoff with Adeimantus has brought Glaucon back on board, and we shall not be hearing from Adeimantus again for quite a while. Socrates now offers to speak about the Good, if he may risk doing so with an image, for now he has an interlocutor who is enthusiastic enough to risk making a mistake rather than being too skeptical for his own good. Before beginning he states his hope not only that he can articulate it but also that Glaucon and the others can take it in and not be misled, for it is an image only. It is like the prayer we hear at the beginning of a sermon, or the prayer we ourselves are told to make when we take up the Bible!
This ultimate object of knowledge, the Good, he now suggests, stands to all other knowledge as the Sun stands to the world around us, as both the sustainer of that world, the reason that it is as it is, and as the cause of our being able to see it. To take the point further and to the very edge of language, with Glaucon (and ourselves) just keeping up, we may say this: Just as the world around us consists of real objects and also their shadows or mere images, so in the realm of knowledge and truth there are the true objects we must come to grasp as ever we can, and also another sort of mental entities that are somehow mere images of them. We must not tarry with these latter, lodged though they are in our minds, or seek to make a system of them, but break through them, back and up to the originals that inspired them, of which they are mere images, just as the philosopher in Book Five desired to pass beyond the series of spectacles to a vision of the truths they all transiently embodied, one after the other.
The world we actually live in can be seen as a whole to exhibit this structure, with the political or socially constructed world within which Polemarchus at that moment at least had wanted to confine us being like a cave darkly lit, in which men live and stare and utter names, unable to turn around and see where things have come from but consigned instead to trying to make a system of these derivative and secondary images showing as shadows on a wall. If you could force one of these prisoners to turn around and lead him back and up and out, how will he react? He will resist at first, but slowly as he is brought out of the cave his eyes will adjust to the light of day and he will behold for once the original world of which those mere derivatives had barely resembled at all, so far cut off from their source that the only kind of sense the prisoners can try to make of them had to consist of predicting the patterns of their relationships with each other rather than their derivation from the original identities they dimly reflect. Next, have this man return to the cave. How laughable he will be, at first, as his eyes again must now adjust to the dark and he can not yet even make out the shadows that all the others count as the real. When once they do adjust, how paltry and pitiable he will see their world to be! He will try out of fellow feeling to tell them about the other world above, of which their cherished world is in truth but a shadow. He knows they will not understand at first – neither did he, as his eyes were adjusting to the light – and so he will persevere any way he can to bring them along. But as he persists their ridicule will escalate until it crosses the line and become violent. In the end they will contrive to kill him, according to the benighted procedures of ther den.
This message had already been broached, in the ascent of Book Four to the vision of inward virtue. The message had indeed met with resistance, first from Polemarchus and then the rest of the company. As for this higher truth, Glaucon already saw a version of it in the distinction Socrates drew, later in Book Five, between philosophy and the “philodoxy” that cannot and will not see beyond the familiar version to the original whose cognition is sustained by thought alone. What has now been brought into focus by Socrates’s argument about the Good and the Sun is that that world of originals is the cause of the world of appearances around us, that as its cause it guarantees that this other world we live in makes whatever sense it does, and that by some upward, backward path of thought we may be able to ascend to it, while to refuse to turn around and do this is to adopt the pattern to which men and society are at present and perennially enslaved, a pattern of life where men would prefer to vie with each other in ignorance and for stakes whose value is in the end illusory, and where nevertheless if these facts should be brought to “public” attention the mass will sooner kill the messenger than seek to escape the prison of illusions they enable each other to share.
The alternative is the upward path, which Socrates and Glaucon already began to take, after Adeimantus fell out of the conversation, and now continue to take together, by a process they have already called discussion, dialogue, dialectic. In truth even that beginning – the image of the Sun as the Good – was a resumption of their conversation at the end of Book Five, which itself was a resumption of the conversation with which they ended Book Four. All these conversations have moved upward because every time their inquiry encountered the dictates of mind, they followed the dictate rather than shirking it or backing off.
It is time now to try that path still further and show what reason can do by doing it. Once again a background list structures the argument, the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and harmonics, which became canonical in future centuries but was probably rather new in Plato’s time. In the present inquiry however these separate studies will be made to stand in as media for the mental activity of dialectic, which, we have heard, starts not with assumptions and subject matters but with thoughts, and moves through thoughts to thoughts. Through discussion Socrates and Glaucon find a new use for these subjects, that they can be practiced for purposes beyond their ken. Arithmetic, for instance, is the study of numbers and their relations, but what is a number after all? Merely to get things going Socrates recommends the study of arithmetic for the guards since it will be useful in war, but when they move on to geometry and Glaucon offers the same argument Socrates disallows it, for they learned in the case of arithmetic that the true value of it was in the logic of distinguishing one number from the other rather than in some application. And no sooner does Glaucon recognize the sequence of studies Socrates is recommending as being the quadrivium, than Socrates requires him to revise that course of studies by inserting stereometry in between the second and the third studies since it makes no sense to study the heavenly bodies in motion before you have mastered the study of three-dimensional body per se – this even though the very field of solid geometry does not as yet exist! We meet again but now with more explicit awareness the loose and tentative role played by background lists in Books Two and Three: the argument they enable may well sublate them! As for the next study, the celestial study of astronomy, what makes it divine is not the “elevation” of the objects studied but a “higher” understanding of them that would recognize the supra-material patterns which they only embody.
As they move on to acoustics, the last of the hypothesized four, Glaucon has become exhausted and wishes to be spared the effort of going through another sublation, and being jerked vertiginously upward and backward all over again. Now he wants Socrates simply to tell him the nature of the science of discussion itself to which this review had been presented as a preliminary; but dialectic is the very thing they have been employing. It is tantamount to a request that they stop engaging in dialectic in order to describe it, a virtual contradiction in terms! His request is like the impatient demand Adeimantus had made an hour earlier, but it is out of fatigue rather than importunity and impatience that he makes it.
Socrates now redirects the glare of the discussion away from Glaucon, his partner in the high flight of dialectic, the same way he had redirected it away from Adeimantus near the end of Book Six, by reverting once again to the neutral theme of the ideal City, and suggests they complete their discussion of the rulers' higher education. There is now little reason nor even a motive to complete the picture of the City – just as Polemarchus in Book One had little reason or motive to define justice – but with the guidance of Socrates the discussion can still proceed with grace. The main provision to which they now agree is that they postpone the dialectical occupation Glaucon has just found so difficult to a person's full maturity rather than expose the science or method to abuse among the young, as it currently is abused, not in this case for the sake of its reputation (that topic was covered with Adeimantus in Book Six) but for the sake of the young man himself, who is so vulnerable to "misology" during his younger years, if once in captious argument he finds himself orphaned by the reason he had only learned to imitate and is moved to turn against reason itself.
Indeed we have engaged the higher education of the quadrivium only to leave each branch of that new curriculum behind, just as our original argument had left behind its initial original goal of modeling a City when we found justice to reside not within it but beyond it, within the individual. That discovery had met with resistance (at the beginning of Book Five) because in order to gain virtue we had now to abandon the old sense of our identity which in the Cave image have now seen being held and maintained in existence only by the conspiracy of those who resist being selves, vying instead to rival the identity of others by besting them in a game of shadow-boxing (as Cephalus had in his ripe old age become so adept at doing!), and ready to work in harmony only to annihilate a man who tries to lead them out. Given all we have left behind we have also been left with something, namely the guardians speculation upon whose education provided us a model and a medium for discovering the inner landscape of the soul, and what the soul will do with its de-politicized life. Their participation in the state has become irrelevant even to themselves. It is their participation in truth and reality that is their true purpose and fulfillment in life, and that they should succeed to get onto this path in their maturity is what the policy of postponing the dialectical work is meant to ensure. As to the Experiment, we now witness a “withering away” of the theoretical importance of the City betokened in the policy of allowing those few who have proven able to pursue dialectic viably, to serve in its governance only from time to time, for they have discovered things much finer with which to occupy themselves.
Yet, as we next learn , we have not quite exhausted the uses of the Experiment, and soon enough we will be reminded why. The Just City can now for the second time be declared complete, with its corollary about the just soul having been drawn, and we can return to the continuation of the Experiment that Socrates had proposed at the end of Book Four when Polemarchus interrupted, which perhaps we had forgotten altogether, since the proposal disappeared from view right after it was made. The converse search for the nature of injustice in men might likewise be pursued through contemplating the Ideal one topple and cascade downward through a series of inferior constitutional forms. It is not, like before, a search for justice or a project in imaginary policy-making. Rather the narrative will take on the form of an historical fiction, and so to begin this tale Socrates naturally will invoke the Muses – for who else could tell us “How first the glorious aristocracy began to wobble”?
For the occasion the prose rises to an elevated style. It is the Muses who are speaking, and what they say must be true, since they are Muses after all. This high style continues until the narration of the vicious constitutions is complete. The style is “ecphrastic,” emphasizing description instead of action, and is characterized by the agglutination of circumstantial participles; by diction that is allusive, imagistic and astigmatic (as we shall see); and is driven by an new and improvised methodology not unlike that of the original search for justice in the State. We are meant to watch a cascading process by which one constitution loses its staying power and begins to change until it reaches a stopping point where it assumes a new stable state, and then to look back to find these two things in the individual man, how his personality gives way to change and what he turns into. There is no proof that change is or must be stepwise rather than continuous, for state or for man. It is the Muses who are speaking, telling a story of their own, and we are meant to listen rather than ask questions. There can be no stronger indication from an author who wishes to remain anonymous that something new is “going on,” and by now we should be wary enough to watch for what it might be.
The decline of constitutions begins with an indecipherable but authoritative numerical derivation of the so-called nuptial number, consigning to irretrievable obscurity the mechanism by which the Ideal will inevitably fail, one day. Once the decline can begin, the presentation takes on a specific order and form: first the decline of the constitution and then the corresponding decline in the individual soul. In the event, as we shall see, the institutional “history” is foil for the crucial and new theme, the decline of the personality. A series of constitutions typified by distinct governmental “arrangements” guides the narration of a series of corresponding family generations each typified by a distinct personal lifestyle. The pattern of the personal states are foreshadowed by the patterns of the succeeding constitutions, but the “internal” mechanism that drives the decline in the case of the men is driven by the dynamics of the relation between father and son. As in real life, the son reacts against failures he perceives in his father and shifts course to compensate for them, but ever-more remote for the true order as the sons come to be, they adopt a course even worse than the fathers’. It is exactly the problem Adeimantus in Book Two had begged Socrates to extricate him from. Appropriately enough, as soon as Socrates starts to narrate to Glaucon the first step in the decline of the personality, Adeimantus interrupts with typical rudeness (a disparaging remark about his brother and as usual he is the pot calling the kettle black). Thus he becomes interlocutor once again, and justly it is he who will play witness to the slaughter.
The lesson of the decline, in a nutshell, is that the son is still too young to step up and own his father’s way of life but not old enough to find remedies for what seem to him to be its limitations. In truth we needn’t tarry upon the series of political transformations that severally introduce, foreshadow, and break gently, to Adeimantus and to us, the incremental mutilation of the personality. I will present it unvarnished. In the first case, after we hear how the aristocratic regime slips down from loving virtue to loving the reputation of virtue and becomes a timocracy, we are brought to focus on the men: the “aristocratic” father, who is a philosopher living in a mediocre state, who no longer has anything to do with politics but has achieved the life of sustainable dialectical study (none other than the dialectician we had trained in Books Seven) and how his son will devolve into a mere “timocrat”. Adeimantus, who has taken over as interlocutor after interrupting a moment ago, eagerly interrupts again: “How? How?” The catalyst, according to Socrates, is this son hearing his mother criticize her a-political husband, his father, for being unmanly. It is hard to imagine an experience of higher psychological potency for an adolescent. Abetted by other counsels he decides to eclipse his father by becoming a respectable pillar of the community. But now his treasured self-esteem can become subject to the vagaries of chance and politics. He grows up, and one day he is ruined by shipwreck, meteorological or political, and his son, in turn, who so far had emulated him, is crushed by his father’s failure and devotes himself, resolute and resentful, to amassing enough wealth to become immune from such ruin, adopting for himself the showy style of a Persian monarch, out of cynicism and self-recrimination for abandoning his father's higher outlook. As he matures, in turn, this materialist shuns graceful society as too costly and denies own son a finer upbringing as needlessly expensive; but now having nothing better to want, costly desires begin to simmer secretly within him. The son senses the imperfection of his father's affections – both of his love and his prudishness – and now is prey to certain paramours of desire, which he can succeed at least to moderate, by adopting a regime that gives all aspects of life an equal hearing in a “democratical” way. But then in his own son the lower desires only grow stronger and indeed they contrive with a more devilish plan for him. His naïve commitment to the studiously openminded approach that of his father had vouchsafed him enables them one day to capture him with a fearsome erotic addiction that utterly supplants his personality and set up their own regime within his soul. He has become the instrument of the profligate desires that tyrannize him, and now he even lays hands on his own father so that he can pay the piper!
The sequence, presented as I have without the intervening political transformations, which function both as relief from the appalling stages of the self’s decline and as prelude or foreshadowing of the next step is continually nothing less than mortifying. I daresay all sons and all fathers will find something ruefully familiar at each and every stage. The overarching theme is that fathers are imperfect but that their sons are even more so and it would do well for sons somehow to find ways to adopt what their fathers teach them without resentment for its imperfections and find a way to make more of it rather than less – the very goal that Cephalus had announced for himself (as a financial plan, at least) back in Book One. In addition to the primary lesson that only the true and orderly hierarchy of the soul can in the long run maintain the human personality intact and immunize it from deformation, we have now been regaled with a cautionary warning as to what lies in the future for a person like Adeimantus who still blames his father for his imperfections and hangs around with the likes of Polemarchus, rather than with the likes of Socrates as his brother Glaucon does.
Quietly, at the cold and destitute culmination of this decline, Glaucon resumes the role of interlocutor. For the first time the switch occurs without immanent dramatic motivation or justification, but perhaps we will have recognized that Adeimantus has now learned as much as he can, or will, or deserves to learn, at this stage. Glaucon and Socrates, on the other hand, now have the rest of their work to do, to compare, that is, the just man's life with that of the unjust man and make a judgment as to which is happier, as Glaucon had required Socrates to do back in Book Two, seconded there by Adeimantus. But now the criteria of “judgment” itself must be stipulated. In the course of two or three pages the vocabulary of κρίσις is used twice as many times as it is in the rest of the Platonic corpus! Glaucon's story of Gyges in Book Two, and his slaughter of the just man there, were there formulated as visual images so as to make the judgment easy, but Socrates now advises him that it is only by viewing what is going on inside the man – a viewing which after all has been the greatest burden of the intervening discussion first to introduce and then to articulate and fill out in the most vivid detail possible – that the true judgment can be made. Three arguments ensue that prove in three ways that the tyrannized soul is least happy and the philosophical the happiest, and the proofs, as we might expect, engage more and more intensely the one part of ourselves that alone commands the true criterion of making a true judgment, the λογιστικόν. Finally, and again, as in Book Four, even the realm of pleasure or desire is made to yield to the analysis of reason, which within the argument is shown alone to be capable to declare that pleasure after all is in large part illusory. By a powerful and climactic image of the life submerged in the delusion of animal pleasure we are suddenly brought back to that pigsty of the luxurious city Glaucon had unwittingly brought upon himself, though now it is a phantasmagoria in which beasts, not humans are sitting at the tables he had asked for, eating as if at a trough and raping each other and butting each other, armed with the metal weapons they acquired when an army became necessary. The corollary of their inability to gauge the true value of things is that men vie with and envy each other over distinctions that make not real but merely seeming difference, as we saw them do in the Cave. Reason, conversely, has now won such a total victory that even the degree to which the good man is happier than the tyrannical one can be expressed by a number. By a partly specious proportionalization of appearance and reality concatenated with the number of phases in the decline, the philosophic soul is argued to be 36, or 729, times happier than the tyrannized one. The lofty calculation is then empirically corroborated by a most telling existential observation, that two persons feel the difference in their happiness not only during the day but during the night also, not just every day of the year but every day and night (729 ≈ 365 x 2). The tyrant's life is a waking nightmare!
With this arithmetical conceit, ringing the conceit of the nuptial number with which the Muses’ narrative of the Decline began, the determination of the question is complete. Socrates now invites Glaucon to look back at “that fellow” who had suggested at the beginning that injustice is better than justice if only you can get away with it. They have come so far he can refer to him in the third person though it is Glaucon himself he is talking about! Let us give him an image to contemplate, and see what he would say, an image of the tripartite soul encased in a covering that outwardly looks like a man. The three parts are envisioned in the image as a many-headed hydra representing the desires, a lion representing the spirited part – but for the rational part he imagines another man, a little man within, an invisible man covered along with the other parts by the outer bodily form of a man. It is an image by which the reason is identified with the conscience: the conscience is “who we are” whether anybody sees us or not. The image inverts, therefore, Glaucon's original image of Gyges and his invisibility! And now Glaucon takes to scolding the man that thought injustice could be good, on the grounds that he is betraying that inner man and saying in effect that it is better for him to be enslaved by the hydra than to be its master and find a way to calm it down. The image is corroborated by conventional attitudes about virtue, as was the radically “internal” definition of justice at the end of Book Four. We can even say, if we were to put the ultimate point onto it, as we did at that point also, that it would be better to be enslaved to the principle of reason, or to a rational man for that matter, than to become the rabid tyrant that Thrasymachus had sought to dangle before our eyes! Rather he will prefer the true “politics” of the soul that takes place within, and subordinate all other pursuits to maintenance of that order, just as the man in the simple city allowed his family neither to become too large nor too small. Glaucon grants this sort of man will have rejected the political life (the life Polemarchus sought to defend with his bullying objection at Book Five), but now Socrates will not even allow him to call that the political life: the true politics is the politics within the soul!
For a second or third or fourth or fifth time Glaucon and Socrates have reached a high vantage point, as Socrates had called it at the end of Book Four, and their excess of insight now enables them to elaborate and rectify their outlook on two other matters they had discussed in the earlier conversation: the dangers of poetry, which now can receive a fuller treatment since they have refined their understanding of the parts and internal dynamics of the soul, and a straightforward treatment of the question of rewards and penalties for unjust and just living, which for the sake of Glaucon's theoretical experiment had been hypothetically inverted.
The tradition has been scandalized by “Plato's” criticism of poetry, but it is not Plato's. It is Socrates-and-Glaucon's, and what justifies it is the conclusion to which they have just agreed, for the second time in fact, that the health of the soul is the one condition upon which all other happiness in life depends. Once this is seen, the very picture of listening to a poet talking about the lives of others pales before the prospect of finding and living the order of the soul within one’s own. The warning against poetry culminates in a sickening passage in which Socrates illustrates, with a virtual quotation, that reminds me of Adeimantus’s young man arguing against himself in Book Two, of an argument the λογιστικόν might bring itself to make, under the seductive power of the poet’s work, in order to persuade its own inferior, the proud and willful part of the soul, to allow it to enjoy watching the poetic depiction of viciousness, on the grounds that the vice is the character’s not mine and I do myself no harm to enjoy watching it. It is not the truth or falsity of the argument but the part of us that finds itself making it that matters.
As to the second topic, Glaucon now agrees to pay back the loan that Socrates had made to him when he “lent” him the perverse conceptions that justice might be punished and injustice rewarded. Now in turn Glaucon will give Socrates an opportunity to place our conduct during this life into the largest perspective of truth and reality, the perspective of the sempiternal existence of souls returning to this life to live a life they choose in Hades, a choice they make according to the condition of their souls. Socrates interrupts the astounding report of Er to admonish Glaucon one last time that the only worthwhile study in life is the study that keeps the soul in order, an admonition from which all readers of Plato or any other author and even those who read nothing, can truly stand to profit.
* * * * *
This summary of the plot is completely new, though it is plainly a weave of the oldest of human themes with almost nothing novel in it. It is a story that stands on its own as great, and justifies the reputation the work has accrued to itself. I have tried not to allow the prevailing opinions and confusions about the plot affect or warp my recounting, and have resisted to justify the steps of the account with footnotes citing the passages and interpretations of individual words upon which alone it depends as a whole. That, after all, is the work of the commentary appended hereunder.
Still I should indicate at least the scale of my departure from both the traditional and the scholarly interpretations one will encounter elsewhere. I have found the critique of poetry in Book Ten entirely justified if only one grant the premise that the order of his soul is the only value truly necessary and truly feasible for man to protect. I have found the constitutions in Books Eight and Nine to be mere foil for the painful narration of how the personal soul declines, but Aristotle already had taken them as a serious enough version of Plato’s actual beliefs about political history to criticize them for failing in accuracy. I have taken the run-through of the new quadrivium of studies in Book Seven to be an exercise by which Socrates teaches Glaucon to see what dialectic is, the continual sublation of all assumptions, as he had just presented it to him in theory at the end of Book Six, but many think it presents Plato’s curriculum at “The Academy,” and even that the guardians are figured as future students to be taught by him there. As to the utopian scheme of Book Five with its community of women and radical eugenics, the entire tradition has taken it to show just how far gone an idealist Plato could be, but I have found that it is Socrates’s ad hoc attempt to recall Glaucon to the level of self-awareness – idealistic if you will since the self is invisible – that he had reached at the end of Book Four just before Polemarchus and Adeimantus tried to bring the discussion back down to practical politics. I have taken the long treatment of poetry in Books Three and Two to be Socrates’s technique of showing Adeimantus he is able to take responsibility for what poetry should be like, if it is to be for the sake of bringing up children, rather than merely criticizing his parents; but almost all others have heard Plato giving free hand to an obsessive and quirky puritan attitude of his own about poetry in general. Most extreme of all perhaps, I have seen Glaucon’s objection to the simple life of the “trace of a City” in Book Two as the expression of a deep moral error on his part (an error for which he will in fact apologize in Book Three, as we shall see) rather than to be a completely justified plea for the rudiments of sophisticated living that any decent person would make, as every scholar known to me has taken it to be. The whole thing really got started by my sense that the speeches of Glaucon and Adeimantus at the beginning of Book Two are sincere confessions of troubled young men with very specific personal traits that are flawed but representative. As to the much-discussed methodology of Socrates’s proposals to build a City in Thought, and of his approach to the soul having parts, and on the relation of the parts to the parts of the state, I skirt the issue entirely. It is the result that matters, in each case, and Socrates’s problem is to keep the headstrong and confused brothers in the game, not to pass muster with eavesdropping logicists of future centuries who have no stake in the argument – continually to divert the discussion into a safe harbor within they might feel comfortable to present their best ideas before having to live up to them. It is only in Book Five that Socrates finally requires them to take responsibility for themselves, to allow their construction to reflect back upon themselves and dictate their behavior, and even then it is only one of them, Glaucon, that he asks. When later he tries it with Adeimantus he fails – or rather, Adeimantus does.
For Plato’s dialogical endeavor to succeed, his Reader must come to feel enough of a stake in what is being discussed and the way it is being discussed, and must identify with the interlocutors and their mission intimately enough and with enough urgency, that he feels no urgency to grasp for a private and critical though entirely imaginary relationship with the anonymous and invisible author of the conversation. When the primary fictional scenario fails – and it is an index of Plato’s high and severe calling that it fails far more often than it does in our reading of Shakespeare – the Reader finds himself wondering what Plato is doing, and he will find in the world of Plato scholarship a haven of fellow wonderers among whom he can now choose his favorite. What keeps their discussion alive is that their different theories cannot all be true, so that they can distinguish themselves from each other, while at the same time there so little evidence for or against any of them that they will never be refutable. In such a context, a Karl Popper might say that it counts for something that a complete account can be given without any reference to their work – my work here being the witness.
It is a pity that the precipitate of this secondary conversation finds its way into the expert Introductions that are placed before the Translations, diverting the non-professional Reader from his own fresh access to Plato’s text, spoiling him for instance with notion that he can get behind the scenes and be inoculated against being led down the garden path by Socrates, as Adeimantus says in Book Six, while in truth such guidance places the Reader unbeknownst into something like a cave, puzzling over shadows of what he should instead be enabled, let alone allowed, by the ensuing Translation to see straight on.
(327) Socrates speaks directly to us,11 telling us that yesterday he went down12 to Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston13 to pay homage to the goddess,14 but at the same time15 planning to take in the spectacle16 of the festival since it was being done for the first time. The contribution of the Athenians was beautiful, but the Thracian contribution was no less appropriate.17 Having done their homage and their viewing18 they made off for the city,19 when they were seen from behind by Polemarchus the son of Cephalus who told his slave to run up to them and tell20 them to wait for him. The slave ran up and grabbed Socrates by the coat to tell them that Polemarchus told them to wait for him. Socrates turned around to see where his master21 was, and some clever repartee ensues:
“Look!”22 says the slave, “Here he comes. Just23 stay put.”
“Stay put24 we shall,” says Glaucon, and soon enough Polemarchus arrives with Adeimantus, the brother of Glaucon,25 and some others, coming from the parade, and he says, “I would reckon you’re setting off for the city,26 as if you were leaving the Piraeus?”
And27 you’d reckon right, Socrates replies.
“You do see how many of us there are?”
How couldn’t I?
“So if you do,28 you’ve got to prove stronger than these,29 or else stay where you are.”
So there isn’t a third alternative: that we might persuade you that we ought to be going?
“Could you really persuade people who won’t listen?”
“No way,” says Glaucon.
“So take it that we won’t be listening and act accordingly.”30
(328) “What?31 You don’t know there’s going to be a horseback torch race for the goddess?” Adeimantus asks, interrupting Polemarchus’s tough treatment and turning to persuasion instead, not Socrates persuading them that he ought to leave but they, first Adeimantus and then Polemarchus, persuading him that he might want to stay. The torch race will be a novelty32 and besides33 Polemarchus chimes in, a vigil worth taking in,34 and a dinner before it, where there will be a lot of young people and dialogue.
“So stay and don’t do otherwise,” Polemarchus concludes.35
“Stay it seems we must,” says Glaucon.36
But if that's what seems best, that's what we ought to do, Socrates tells us he said, ending the repartee by acquiescing in the persuasion.
The banter is urbane on the surface but even so it begs the question, Why play at threats? The request for Socrates’s presence is always attended by such anxiety and nervousness, whether his old friend Crito is wakening him at the beginning of the Crito or his young friend Hippocrates at the beginning of the Protagoras. Agathon likewise frets while he waits for Socrates to arrive at his Symposium but tries to hide it. In the most general terms the reason is that Socrates is going to be serious and they want to be also, but they are uncertain they can be and are afraid what it might do to them. A person is eager that his better self be acknowledged and engaged, but would rather have it taken for granted than have to reveal it for what it is. Younger people have an easier time being candid and forthright,37 a large theme in the proem to the Theaetetus, where we see that an older person like Theodorus has more face to lose than a younger one, even though at the same time he, like Cephalus whom we are about to meet, can afford to postpone things the least!
They proceed to Polemarchus’s home, where they find his brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian,38 Charmantides of Paiania, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. Cephalus too was home but by himself, “within.”39 Socrates was struck how very old he seemed, but after all he had not in fact laid eyes on him for some time.40 There he was, sitting on a padded couch, just finished conducting a sacrifice and still wearing his chaplet. The couch was flanked by chairs set in semicircles, and so the company sat down with him.41
As soon as Cephalus sees Socrates he both greets him with a hug and scolds him. “Can’t you ever make it down here, sometimes?42 You really ought to.” Again Socrates starts in the red. “If it were still convenient43 for me to come to you I would, but old age has its ravages and so you should make your way down44 to the Piraeus instead.” Although his bodily desires wane, his desire for talk only waxes. “Besides, I have45 these young men around here.46 So, in all,47 don’t be such a stranger. Visit us as you would visit your friends and even your very family.”48
Socrates politely objects49 that he does take delight from conversation with the very old as well. He would like to hear his elders report50 back what he himself may face in his own old age, and know whether the way of life becomes steep and harsh or easy and broad.51 Cephalus obliges him with an elaborate response that occupies thirty lines and begins with a preamble.
(329)His own outlook on the matter is as follows.52 “Just as birds of a feather flock together, I often gather with my contemporaries. The most of us—they, really—turn it into a griping session,53 with yearning reminiscences54 of the youthful pleasures of sex and drink and feasting.55 They chafe at having been deprived of ‘Oh! such very great goods! Before they had a good life; now they have no life at all.’56 Some of them are even57 so pained58 when their kinsmen59 ridicule them for being such old farts that they’ll launch into a litany of the many evils that old age brought on. If you ask me, I think they’re not blaming what’s really to blame. If old age were the cause I myself would have undergone the same troubles, just by dint of my old age, and so would everybody who has reached this age. The truth is otherwise. Besides my own case, I’ve found others who don’t act like them: Sophocles the poet no less.60 I was standing beside when somebody confronted him with the question, 'Hey, Sophocles, how’s your sex life? Can you still make it61 with a woman?' And he replied, 'Mind your tongue! You can be sure that I’ve escaped enslavement to that mad and violent master.'62 I thought then that the great man had a point and I think so no less now.63 It’s utterly true that age brings on great tranquillity and a freedom64 from these65 kinds of things for sure. Whenever the desires cease to have a grip on us and slacken it’s utterly true that the thing Sophocles refers to happens: one can have66 respite and release from masters many and mad.67 What determines whether this will happen and determines moreover how to respond to the ridicule of one’s kinsmen, is not the age of a man but his character. If a man is balanced and easygoing his old age is only moderately burdensome. If not, both his old age and his youth treat him harshly.”68
As opposed to Cephalus’s friends who lose their composure when confronted by their mudslinging kinsmen, a person with the character of Sophocles keeps his wits about him and slings the mud back, saying, “You’re the one who’s still the slave to pleasure, young man.” The victory consists in the fact that he maintains his composure in his reply.69 Cephalus infers from Sophocles’s example that one's character is responsible for how things go, both with respect to the ravages of aging and the way one handles his troublesome juniors for that matter.70 The character in question he describes with the approbatory but rather vague terms κόσμιος and εὔκολος. Of these the latter seems to have been a byword for describing Sophocles,71 but the salient fact about the two terms is that they describe a manner and disposition exactly opposite to the behavior he has just been criticizing in his contemporaries.72 Cephalus’s message is that they should act like Sophocles rather than acting as they do. He wants us to infer that although one’s character will not retard the advance of old age it makes old age less unpalatable, but his most important point is to turn the tables on his kinsmen, and this is what he means by saying that character helps against mudslinging. In short, the “character” in question is an imperturbable smoothness which might, and probably will, be mistaken for moral competence.
Socrates is amused by Cephalus’s speech and decides to egg him on (329D7-E5). Most people would not accept his claim of moral superiority but would attribute the ease he shows at being old to his wealth. The rich, after all, have “many consolations.”
“Right you are,” Cephalus retorts, “—that they won’t accept it, that is.73 What’s more there’s some truth in what they say, but not as much as they imagine. Just74 think of that great reply Themistocles made to the Seriphian75 who said he was famous only because he was an Athenian: ‘As a Seriphian I’d be unknown; as an Athenian you’d be.’ (330) Just so,76 the same argument can well be used in response to77 those who have no wealth and bear their old age ill, that a good78 man who is poor (like them) might not indeed have an easy time when he gets old; but if a man is a bad man he will never achieve equanimity, whether he is rich or poor.”79
The nature of Cephalus’s argument here is the same as the previous in all relevant details. In structure, a derisive or challenging remark is met not by refuting the charge, but by a counterchallenge that appears to turn the tables on the accuser, using his own terms in a retort against him. Sophocles had responded to a derisive remark about his physical prowess by impugning the moral health of his accuser without warrant. He did not seek to refute the charge. Themistocles had responded to an attempt to deflate his reputation for virtue by asserting without evidence that his opponent had no virtue to inflate, again leaving the charge unanswered. Finally, Cephalus responds to the allegation that it is wealth not virtue that makes him happy, by the flat assertion that regardless which thing makes him happy his envious opponent possesses neither. In each case the underlying charge is left intact and the counter charge is made without warrant. Truth is the one thing that doesn’t matter on either side. Had it been Aeschylus that made the remark to Sophocles, had Pericles said this to Themistocles, had Socrates said this to Cephalus (which in fact he did, though indirectly), the technique could not have been deployed. It relies on being accosted by a presumptive inferior, and in each deployment of the tactic the presumptive superior simply retains his presumptive superiority and the presumptive inferior fails to get a foothold.
This is the world of mudslinging, of the pot that calls the kettle black and the presumptive superior who has putatively forgotten more than the presumptive inferior will ever learn. It is the world of getting the last word. Ultimately, it is the world of self-satisfaction perpetuated, and this is what is appropriate about putting this way of speaking into the mouth of the old man, who will be given the last word by his juniors, and will be taken away once he has uttered it anyway.
Rhetorically, such arguments as these are designed for the onlookers. A presumptive superior has been impugned in their eyes, and it is in their eyes that his superiority must be restored. He restores it by making his opponent look worse than he himself has been made to look. Sophocles makes his opponent look worse by calling into question his morals rather than his bodily strength; Themistocles may have less virtue than he is presumed to have, but his opponent has none. When we pass to Cephalus, however, we might recognize he is no Themistocles! There is no presumptive superiority in him except for his wealth and his superior age. He is neither statesman nor poet. He is not even an Athenian. That he should arrogate to himself even the style of the Sophoclean and Themistoclean defense is something of a reach. The only superiority he can defend himself for enjoying is his wealth. Wealth is after all a good, a member of the third of three traditional categories of good: the goods of the soul (e.g., wisdom), the goods of the body (e.g., strength) and the external goods (e.g., wealth).80 We’ve had all three in this passage, with Sophocles trumping a criticism of his own bodily state with a criticism of his opponent’s moral state, and Themistocles trumping the claim that his external fame overdraws his internal virtue by asserting that his opponent has neither fame nor any basis of for it. Now we have Cephalus, who fends off the claim that wealth is the only basis for his happiness by stipulating wealth can contribute to happiness, but insisting that wealth can’t make a bad person happy. He acquits himself in argument by returning attack with counterattack.
So much is tangled together in Cephalus’s skillful presentation!
Although Socrates allows Cephalus to dispose of the objector in this clever way without a comeback of his own, he does stay on the topic of his wealth and asks whether he inherited most of it or made most of it. Cephalus affects surprise81 at the very concept of being thought a noteworthy businessman and responds by placing himself in the middle as it were82 between Cephalus, his grandfather and namesake, and his father, Lysanias. The former inherited about what Cephalus now has and multiplied it many times; the latter turned all that into something less than Cephalus’s present fortune.83 Cephalus would be satisfied84 to play a role somewhere in between these: to leave to his sons about as much as he inherited – no less than he got, and perhaps a little more.
Socrates explains why he asked his question. Although rich, Cephalus seems not so concerned about money, like those rich persons85 who didn’t earn their money themselves. Those who did always enjoy it twice as much as the others do. First,86 they’re serious87 about money the way a poet cares about his poems88 or a father cares about his sons, seeing it as product of their own efforts—in addition to the enjoyment that everybody takes from using89 it to buy things. It’s bothersome even to bump into90 these sorts since all they want to talk about is money.
Cephalus agrees and Socrates re-agrees,91 so that the conversation comes to a rest for a moment. But money comes up again: Socrates asks him to tell him a little more92 on this topic. “When all is said and done93 what would you say is the greatest good of having a lot of money?”
This question unleashes as long an answer as his first question did.94 Again Cephalus begins by contrasting his own outlook with that of others, but this time the tone is rueful rather than proud. “Let me tell you, Socrates, when a man gets nearer to thinking95 he’s going to die he’s visited by a fear and concern about things that never bothered him before. At first96 there were those well known stories about what awaits us in Hades, how we pay the penalty there for our injustices here. The stories had always seemed so ridiculous, but now they torture97 his soul: Are they true after all? The result is that a person, whether from the weakness of old age or because now that he’s nearer death he has caught a glimpse of what’s to come—be that as it may--98 the person finds himself99 beset with uncertainty and fear,100 and from that moment on he is always going over his accounts and figuring out whether he has indeed done anybody an injustice. A man who thereupon discovers lurking in himself many such acts that he has done101 bolts up from his sleep, as children do, sweating in fear, and passes his conscious102 life with hope forlorn as his constant companion.103 But a man who has (331) a clear conscience has the company of a hope that is pleasant and good, a “nurse for the aged,” as104 Pindar says when speaking of a man who has lived his life justly and piously:105
“Sweet to him she invigorates his heart, the elder’s nurse and companion, Hope, whom mortals rely on most to steer them through the twists and turns of second thoughts.”
Cephalus finds these words very powerful indeed; and we can see he understands them since they repeat what he said before he quoted them, and what he said there was so clearly sincere and heartfelt. Accordingly,106 he would say that money has its greatest worth in connection with this Hope, not for any and every man but for the good one.107 To avoid having defrauded108 a person, even under duress,109 and to avoid110 going off to Hades in fear because you still111 owe a sacrifice to a god or some money to a man,112 in this connection money can be a very important player.113 It has many other good uses, but this one is the most useful of all, at least for a man who has his wits about him.”114
Socrates is pleased overall115 with Cephalus’s account but wants to ask him a question about one thing,116 his reference to justice:117 Can we say so flatly that justice is truthfulness and returning whatever one might have gotten from another, or are these two acts taken in themselves118 sometimes just but sometimes unjust?119 Here’s what I120 mean. Anybody would agree that if one took custody of a weapon from a friend,121 the friend being of sound mind, but then the friend asserted his claim122 to get it back in a crazed mood,123 one really oughtn’t give the thing back under these circumstances, and whoever did would not be a just man, nor124 would he be just for telling the whole truth125 to his friend in such a mood.
Since Cephalus agrees, Socrates can conclude that telling the truth and giving things back can’t be the criterion126 of justice. “No but it IS,” Polemarchus interrupts, “if one is to believe Simonides.” Of course one should believe him, since Simonides is one of the wise poets, and so Polemarchus’s interruption draws our attention away from Cephalus, while Cephalus for his part exploits the opportunity to leave! He announces his departure by bequeathing127 the argument to Socrates and Polemarchus.128 The time has come129 for him to attend to his sacred dealings.130
“But isn’t it to me you bequeath it, being as I am the heir of all else131 that is yours?” Polemarchus interjects wittily.
“Quite!” says Cephalus, laughing, but still he does not tarry.132
Despite the departure of the host the conversation does not end, but continues with a replacement player.133 Socrates turns to the inheritor of the logos and asks him just what he thought was right about what Simonides said about justice.
“It was that giving to each person what is owed him is just.”134
Well, says Socrates, it’s hard to distrust a saying of Simonides, wise and inspired man that he is, and yet it’s even harder135 for me to make out what he means by this, though perhaps you can. Surely he does not mean this thing we just said, that when somebody has placed something into your custody, you should somehow or other136 honor his (332) claim to give it back to him if137 he makes his claim in a crazed state of mind. Yet I presume you’d agree the thing is owed138 to him, the thing he placed into your custody.
“So much is true.”
And yet one was not at all supposed to return it, at the moment when its owner asked for it back in a frenzy?139
“That’s true, one was not.”
So it’s something else that Simonides appears to have meant by saying that it is just to give back ‘what’s owed.’140
“Quite else indeed, since what he thinks friends ‘owe’ to friends is to do them a good turn, surely not141 a bad one!”
Socrates next specifies what142 Polemarchus has now asserted to be Simonides’s meaning. It is not “what is owing” that one gives back if one gives back gold143 to the person who has placed it in his custody, under the special144 circumstances that the giving back or receiving is harmful and that the giver and the receiver are friends. This raises whether we must “give back” to enemies something that is “owing” to them. Socrates retains the terminology even though on the face of it it doesn’t apply, and Polemarchus responds to the strain by repeating the language of owing145 only in order to change it to the language of appropriateness (τὸ προσῆκον). What is owed after all to an enemy from an enemy is, presumably, what is also appropriate: something bad.
As poets often do, the wise Simonides has told us a riddle about justice, Socrates feigns suddenly to realize.146 What he was meaning147 now appears to be that rendering the appropriate thing to each person148 is just, though he used the word “owing” for this.
“What do you think?” Polemarchus churlishly rejoins.149
With the introduction of Simonides several things have happened: Cephalus gets an opportunity to hand over the role of answerer and return to his dealings with the gods;150 the authority of an elder interlocutor which had made Socrates’s acquiescence in a πυνθάνεσθαι (informational) conversation appropriate is now passed on to the authority of the wisdom poet Simonides but since Simonides is not present his position must be represented by Polemarchus, with whom Socrates can talk as an equal. As such it is really Polemarchus who becomes the answerer, so that saying what Simonides the wise meant becomes tantamount to saying why he himself was moved to quote him in the first place. Polemarchus prefers to continue this fiction even when what he had represented as Simonides’s position needs to be saved with “clarifications” (332B4). Socrates takes his statement on face value and accuses Simonides of riddling, so that Polemarchus is forced into the position of saying to Socrates, essentially, “Why isn’t it clear to you that he is speaking unclearly?” (332C4). In response to this playful challenge Socrates goes onto the attack, retaining the conceit that it is Simonides who must answer for the implications of the position Polemarchus has lately adopted.
Here begins an exercise of persistent questioning that will continue until 335D13, with a breathing pause at 334A11-B7. The questions and their answers stand in sharp contrast with the conversation we have just witnessed between Socrates and Cephalus, which also consisted of questions by Socrates and answers by his interlocutor. There, the answers were long and complicated and went far beyond the questions, which Cephalus had treated as taking-off points. After all, Socrates had invited Cephalus to “report” to him.151 That kind of conversation reveals much about the answerer but helps the two of them learn little together. Here by contrast the questions are pointed and the answers are brief and pertinent. The give and the take fit each other tightly, and the logical movement of the thought is gradual and explicit, down to the smallest details in the Greek expression. I wish to bring out the details of this movement and show the contours of the thought by a careful consideration of its expression, since I feel that in this case the method is at least as important as its results.
The question with which Socrates initiates this new question-and-answer procedure—the question he would put to Simonides through Polemarchus—is striking: “By virtue of rendering what due and proper thing to whom is a certain craft called medicine?”152 It is a double question and the interrogative pronouns are located in severely subordinate syntactical positions. The formulation of a question—especially in the uninflected languages—usually starts with the interrogative pronoun or adjective, and what is being asked is asked prominently, i.e., early and within the main construction. Here we have a double interrogative pronoun (doubling indicated by their proximity to each other) that is not the subject but the complement of a verb and the verb is not the main verb but a participle. The participle moreover is sandwiched between article and noun in the attributive position. Indeed the interrogative particles hold the most subordinate rank available in the sentence. It is noteworthy that Polemarchus nevertheless has no difficulty understanding Socrates’s question.153
The interrogative pronouns are placed in subordinate positions in order to give something else the ordinate or controlling role, something we might call at a first pass the “form” of the question. The form introduced by Socrates is like a matrix or a chart with three columns: the art, the thing it provides, and the thing to which it provides that thing, according to the proprieties154 of the art. Socrates does not talk about such a chart, nor does he articulate its headings and distinguish columns from rows as it were, but he asks a question whose syntax requires his interlocutor’s mind to create a chart within itself. The question can be answered without Socrates articulating the headings in general terms, exactly because it is a specific question, a question about a specific thing. The case, that is, instantiates the general idea. This use of a case as a springboard to a general idea has given to the exercise of persistent questioning that Socrates has here initiated the name, “induction” (ἐπαγωγή). Polemarchus answers, “The one that renders drugs and a diet to bodies.”
In his second question, once Polemarchus has answered the first, Socrates uses exactly the same syntactical structure and word order. “By virtue of rendering what due and proper thing to what is a certain craft called cooking?” Having then given two questions whose parallelism obviates any need for articulating such headings, and Polemarchus having answered the second (“The one that gives flavoring to food”),155 Socrates can ask a third question, which is the target question,156 the filling-in of the question-form that is relevant to the topic of conversation, namely the proprieties of an “art” of justice. That is, he does not have to generalize with a statement like, “Apparently each art (Item A) renders an appropriate something (Item B) to something (Item C).” The result of the first two questions is that Polemarchus has no trouble knowing where to look for the answer to the target question,157 even though he may not have such an easy time finding the thing.
With the target question we have completed something since we have reached a result, namely an answer to the question that underlay the sequence and that was the purpose of the whole sequence to answer. We may again use our word “induction” (ἐπαγωγή) for this process.
A second induction now begins, again without warning. The only indication it has begun is that Socrates has asked a question. This time the question places the thing asked in a position that is prominent syntactically as well as in the word order (“Who is most able to help sick friends and harm enemies with respect to their disease and health?”). The new “form” adopts elements from the definiens of justice, namely, helping friends and harming enemies (τὸ τοὺς φίλους εὖ ποιεῖν καὶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς κακῶς [332D7]) and adds new variables: the state that the friend or enemy is in (here κάμνοντας) and the state or goal that the help or harm will bring about (done with πρός – πρὸς νόσον καὶ ὑγιείαν). We may imagine that Socrates has omitted, and that we are to supply, ὑγιαίνοντας with ἑχθρούς, as the state opposite to the state of the opposite parties, the friends. It is noteworthy that he forgoes the vividness he could have gotten by making explicit that the doctor will make sick friends healthy and healthy enemies sick.
Re-use of the example158 of the doctor makes it especially easy for Polemarchus to answer the question, and he reveals this ease by answering with just the one word, “doctor.” This first question answered, Socrates can ask the second, which we may already anticipate will match the first in its form or matrix: “Who is most able to help people going by boat with respect to the dangers of the sea?” The very fact of our anticipation however allows Socrates some freedom159 to compress the espression: τίς δὲ πλέοντας πρὸς τὸν τῆς θαλάττης κίνδυνον (332E1). The only elements in the question are the interrogative pronoun itself and the “variables:” πλέοντας replaces κάμνοντας and (πρὸς) τὸν τῆς θαλάττης κίνδυνον replaces (πρὸς) νόσον καὶ ὑγιείαν. Moreover just as the previous question was abbreviated by leaving out ὑγιαίνοντας, here the pair of outcomes (disease and health) are abbreviated by the term κίνδυνον, representing both ruin and safety on the seas by means of itself designating the whole range of vicissitude.
Again Polemarchus is able to answer with a single word, “pilot,” so that Socrates can ask his third question, which opens with an interrogative, but a neuter interrogative pronoun rather than a masculine nominative: τί δὲ ὁ δίκαιος; What about the just man? (E3). What had been the “unknown” – namely the identity of the person who moves friends and enemies from one state to the other -- is now the “given,” and the unknown is, What is the result that the person with this identity brings about? The move to the target includes a sort of commutation consisting of holding a different variable fixed and deriving the other from it. In asking the question for the result that corresponds to the just man Socrates has occasion to articulate the heading of the variable, namely, ἐν τίνι πράξει καὶ πρὸς τί ἔργον, and to spell out the fixed contents of the form that he had left out in the two example-questions, namely, φίλους ὠφελεῖν καὶ ἐχθροὺς βλάπτειν. The two parts of the heading ἐν τίνι πράξει καὶ πρὸς τί ἔργον correspond respectively with κάμνοντας (and understood ὑγιαίνοντας) / πλέοντας, on the one hand, and πρὸς νόσον καὶ ὑγιείαν / πρὸς τὸν τῆς θαλάττης κίνδυνον, on the other.
Polemarchus has no difficulty understanding the question but answers it with a hint of diffidence.160 His answer reverses the order of the question by telling what activity the just man is most capable of bringing about against the enemy (i.e., προσπολεμεῖν) before telling what activity he is most capable of bringing about for the benefit of the friend (i.e., συμμάχειν).161
Socrates marks a transition with εἶεν, and asks a follow-up version of the two example questions, with a third induction. If the friend and enemy aren’t sick (κάμνουσι from κάμνοντας above) is the doctor of no use? If the friend and enemy aren’t sailing have we no use for the pilot? And so162 if people aren’t at war163 does the just man become useless?164
Polemarchus cannot still165 say Yes. Since the function of the just man had been articulated in the contrast between his treatment of friends and enemies he will naturally be thought of as participating in the tension between friends and enemies as a helper to the former and an enemy of the latter. Hence, Polemarchus overdrew the activity of the just man as being helpful in war, but this leaves the just man “useless” in peace, which is doubly repugnant. Not only do vital questions of justice and injustice arise in peacetime; it is also repugnant to think of the just man as being “worthless” rather than “worthy” at any time.166
Socrates next infers167 from Polemarchus’s response that he is willing to grant him the opposite, that the just (333) man is a useful and worthwhile person in peacetime. But168 there are other peacetime activities, such as farming; and this activity, like medicine and like piloting a ship, has its own outcome, its own goal that it brings about, in this case the acquisition of food.169 Shoemaking too is useful in peacetime, for the goal of acquiring shoes. What then about justice, our target170 case? To acquire what, or to fulfill what need (χρεία, from ἄχρηστος, E7), is justice useful during peacetime?
Polemarchus thinks of business deals where parties with adverse interests come to an agreement (πρὸς τὰ συμβόλαια, A12).171 Socrates responds with a new kind of question, presuming to suggest172 a clarification about what Polemarchus has said: the just man will be useful (in dealing with friends and enemies) not in the role of the person one makes a deal with but as a person helping one to make the deal with someone else.173 Polemarchus accepts the corrective clarification as fully justified,174 enabling Socrates to begin a new sequence of questions.
The new question-form is recognizably a modification of the one we had above,175 but Socrates’s choice of playing draughts as his initial example of the general principle is striking both in its content and in its diction: ἆρ’ οὖν ὁ δίκαιος ἀγαθὸς καὶ χρήσιμος κοινωνὸς εἰς πεττῶν θέσιν. To ask about turning to a “good and just” friend176 for help playing draughts would in itself be almost a ridiculous question except that within the question Socrates suggests the answer is No, since the draughts-master would obviously177 be the proper κοινωνός. Just as obviously the expected answer is, for the first time in this dialectical exercise, “No,” though in a sense No here means Yes. The exemplary content, draughts, is inappropriate and unexpected, exactly in order to make the answer immediately clear.178 What is moreover striking in the diction of the question is the periphrastic formulation of playing draughts, namely, πεττῶν θέσις (“draught placement”). We speak of playing chess rather than of placing the chessmen. So that in addition to our having to make an adjustment to answer No instead of Yes, we have to field a curiously playful expression of the “goal” to be achieved with the help of the κοινωνός. Since the answer to the entire question is nevertheless obvious, we can make an answer, and we do: Polemarchus says, unhesitatingly, ὁ πεττευτικός (B3).
In the next example-question179 we again have a combination of repetition and variation: “Is the just man a more useful and better helper for the placement of bricks and stones (!) than the house builder?”180 The repetition of “placement” (θέσις) suggests a stability in the question-form and also its use with placing bricks is less strange than its use with draughts, but as soon as we feel re-assured that the question-form has calmed down we realize that θέσις, the term that has conferred stability onto the question-form, has been used equivocally. In the first question we had to countenance a strangeness of expression (πεττῶν θέσις) and here we are served up a little joke because of the equivocation.181 In both cases it is semantic freedom that is at work, a freedom made possible by the presence of ideas shared between the interlocutors, behind and despite the words they are using for them.
The next question, as we might expect from its being third, is the target question: ἀλλ’ εἰς τίνα δὴ κοινωνίαν ὁ δίκαιος ἀμείνων κοινωνὸς τοῦ οἰκοδόμικοῦ τε καὶ κιθαριστικοῦ, ὥσπερ ὁ κιθαριστικὸς τοῦ δικαίου εἰς κρουμάτων. Again because the question before it expected a negative, it is introduced by ἀλλά. That it is the target question is confirmed by δή. But instead of repeating the notion of help “toward” (εἰς) the θέσις of something, he begins the statement with the question εἰς τίνα κοινωνίαν. If the just man is not the helpmate for draughts, then for what joint effort is he the helpmate? And as the question unfurls it reveals, as if hidden in its folds, another case that comes into play at the last minute: the cithera player and his θέσις (understood with εἰς κρουμάτων) of musical notes.182
The principle that governs this flow of variations, repetitions and surprises is pedagogical pacing. All teachers go slowly to make sure the student catches on, but once he has caught on the teacher shifts into a higher gear and goes somewhere more quickly. Inserting a last illustrative example even after the target case has been articulated can be the teacher’s way of showing the student that the teacher knows that the student already understands and that he knows it too, or a way of calling back into question the student’s belief that he has come to a resting point. Done too early this move will leave the student in the dust; well timed it will bring him right alongside but still alert.183
Polemarchus is indeed keeping up, as the brevity of his answer reveals: εἰς ἀργυρίου. With εἰς, the accusative we have to supply is not the κοινωνίαν that went with εἰς at the beginning of the question, but θέσιν, which we just supplied with the more proximate εἰς κρουμάτων. Among experts who are good helpmates in the “placement” of the various objects with which they severally deal, the just man will be the best helpmate here, in the “placement of silver.” In the previous questions θέσις had indeed been used obtrusively and even equivocally, and so it is used this time. Polemarchus is not talking about which square to place the silver on, nor where to place each piece of silver so as to make a house, nor even the placement of a silver re between a silver do and a silver mi. He is talking about depositing the silver—i.e., placing it simpliciter.184
A result has been reached and an epagoge completed, but Socrates immediately starts another one based on this result, and immediately reveals185 that he means to challenge the conclusion: “Except perhaps not for using silver,186 when one needs help187 to buy or to sell188 a horse. Then it’s the horse expert (sc. who would be a better κοινωνός).”189
Polemarchus’s answer is lukewarm: “So it seems.” Perhaps he is tiring of the attempt to make sense of Simonides’s position. When Socrates continues with “And again190 whenever you need a boat, is it the shipbuilder or the pilot?”191 he answers similarly: “Looks like it.” Unconcerned, Socrates moves on to the target question,192 “When one needs help to use silver or gold to do what, is the just man more useful than the others?” In his formulation of the target question Socrates is careful to replace the comparative “better” with the comparative “more useful,” not only to highlight the connection between the usefulness of the κοινωνός and that of the money, but also because this is the original and exactly pertinent version of the question-form.193 The last minute addition of gold194 to Polemarchus’s silver might just be a suggestion to him that, yes, he must concede that we are back where we began. In any event Polemarchus does concede just this, by answering, “Whenever one needs help depositing it and keeping it safe,” using in his answer the very term with which the whole dilemma began ([παρα]καταθέσθαι).195
The logos, we may now begin to feel, will proceed deliberately to its completion. The time in which we take a stab at saying something in conversation is a different kind of time from the time in which the logos comes to be understood fully or “critically”—as I hope my extensive exegesis of the present page shows.
Inexorably Socrates does continue the questions. To deposit the thing and keep it safe means it’s unneeded. Thus, it is only when196 silver is unneeded (i.e., useless!) that justice becomes useful. Polemarchus accepts the former more readily than the latter197 since the latter comes nearer the absurdity he has been trying to avoid, that justice is useless. Socrates continues with a question that presents itself as parallel.198 When it’s necessary to guard a scythe, then justice is useful, whether one is guarding it for oneself or for another;199 but when it’s necessary to use it, then gardening is the art that is useful. Polemarchus agrees with less enthusiasm200 and Socrates asks whether he will agree201 that when similarly one needs to guard the shield and the lyre202 rather than put them to use,203 then use there will be for justice, but when he needs to use them it will be the hoplite’s art and the musician’s art that will be useful. Polemarchus agrees,204 and Socrates is able to generalize with a paradox: Justice is useless when something is useful and useful when something is useless.
As such justice would seem not to be a very serious thing,205 but Socrates proposes a new tack of questions.206 The man most able to attack in battle, whether it in a boxing match or whatever,207 is also most able to (334) defend; and a man able to defend against and elude208 disease is most able to bring it on. When it comes to an army the man that is good at guarding it is the same as the one that is good at stealing the enemy’s plans and other maneuvers.209 Thus in general whatever someone is good at guarding he is good at stealing, and our just man, who is by definition a guard of silver, has turned out210 to be a silver thief!211 The apparent absurdity of the conclusion is then continued in the inference Socrates draws from it,212 that Polemarchus learned this position not from Simonides like the last one but from Homer himself, who praised Odysseus’s maternal grandfather, Autolycus, for excelling all men 'in stealth and trust.'213 “To sum it all up you and Homer and Simonides all see justice as a kind of stealthiness, as long as it works for the benefit of friends and the harm of enemies. Is this not what you were arguing?” Socrates asks him.
Polemarchus cries uncle in response to all this playful banter. “I no longer know what I was trying to say! But this last part of it that you just said214 I do still believe, that justice helps friends and harms enemies.” For what it is worth, he has dropped his dependency on Simonides and now will present and defend what is his own belief.
Socrates asks, Would you argue215 that friends are those a given person feels to be worthy or those that really are worthy despite what the person feels, and enemies likewise? Instead of making an argument Polemarchus makes an observation: “It would seem that a person likes people that he believes216 to be worthwhile and despises those he believes to be wicked.”217 Recognizing the empiricism Socrates asks whether men in fact err in their judgment of peoples’ worth, in which case they might often feel somebody is worthwhile who isn’t and vice-versa. Polemarchus agreeing then makes it possible for Socrates to infer that for people so disposed, good men would be counted enemies and bad ones friends: would it be just for these people then to help the wicked218 ones and harm the good? From their point of view, yes;219 but in truth, the good ones by virtue of being good220 are also just and as such221 not the kind of people who do injustice. Polemarchus agrees to this as being independently true,222 so that Socrates can draw the conclusion that according to the position Polemarchus has taken,223 to treat people badly who do no224 injustice, is just.225
Polemarchus vehemently226 denies this on the grounds that it is a “wicked” conclusion,227 but instead of stopping to remark on his joke Socrates exploits his vehemence to secure his hasty228 agreement to the converse proposition, that it is the unjust229 whom it is just to harm and the just it is just to help. To this Polemarchus agrees, again on the basis of his reaction to the idea than on the merits of the argument per se,230 which allows Socrates hastily231 to draw an alternate inference that for all those people we mentioned above that misestimate people, it will turn out to be just for them to harm their friends, who in themselves232 are wicked, and to help their enemies on the belief they are good—the very opposite of the position Simonides inspired us to adopt at the beginning.233
Polemarchus fully agrees that this follows and so he suggests that they alter their position,234 and in particular the position that seeming worthwhile or wicked was sufficient to qualify a person to be posited235 a friend or an enemy—a position that he had chosen exactly because he thought it was not a position but an observation. This time, in order to avoid contradiction, he crafts his position more conscientiously: A person IS a friend if he both seems and is worthwhile; (335) he IS an enemy if he both seems not to be and is not worthwhile. Somebody who seems worthwhile but isn’t is only a seeming friend and somebody who seems not worthwhile but is, is a seeming enemy.236 A friend comes to be a person that I ought to like whether I do or not, and ceases to be a person I do like unless I know he is worthwhile, which is unlikely. Socrates recognizes that the purpose of this emendation is to ensure that the good man will be a friend and the wicked man an enemy (forefending against the eventuality of 334D12-E3), and Polemarchus agrees. The suggestion therefore entails that the original thesis must be supplemented.237 Justice is not just doing good238 to my friend and evil to my enemy, but doing good to my friend because239 he is a good person, and harming240 my enemy because he is bad.
Socrates then asks,241 “So there is a time then when it is the mark of a just person to harm anybody, after all?”242 The question imputes the completely new idea that perhaps the just man never harms anyone, and Polemarchus responds with a little impatience243 that “Yes of course there is: he must harm those who are wicked and therefore244 enemies.” Having secured his asseveration Socrates begins to ask him about harm. When it’s horses that undergo harm, do they become better or worse? And better or worse in terms of the virtue of dogs or of horses?245 Likewise when dogs undergo harm they become worse in terms of the virtue of dogs rather than that of horses—so much is true by definition.246 And so when it comes to men we must agree that if harmed they become worse in the human virtue. But the virtue that pertains to man is not the ability to run or hunt, but is being just, so that any man that is harmed becomes more unjust. “So it seems,” Polemarchus allows.
Next, musicians are unable to make people unmusical with their art; nor can horsemen by means of theirs make people unhorsemanlike; and yet247 are we to believe that the just can use justice to make men unjust—or for that matter that virtue as a whole248 can be used by the good to make men bad? No more than we are to believe that the work of heat is to make things cold rather than that that is the work of its opposite, nor of the dry to make things wet rather than of its opposite,249 nor finally250 that the work of the good man is to do harm rather than being that of his opposite. So that if the just man is good251 it is not his work to harm anyone, neither his friend252 nor anyone else, but rather this is the work of his opposite, the unjust man.
Socrates completes the argument by going back to the beginning. If someone tells us that rendering to each his due is just,253 but means254 by this that to enemies what is due is harm from a just man and help is due to friends,255 we now know this man was256 not wise for saying this, since in fact it is not true.257 We have now seen that it is never just to harm anybody. And you and I, Polemarchus, will join hands as partners in battle258 in case someone alleges that Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any of the wise and inspired259 greats, ever said so. Polemarchus notices and returns Socrates’s offer of partnership,260 so that Socrates has now enough fellow feeling to confide his own opinion: he would (336) expect such a saying from the mouth261 of Periander or Perdiccus or Xerxes or Ismenius the Theban, or for that matter a rich man who fancies he has a lot of power.262
Polemarchus having given his complete263 agreement, Socrates marks a pause in the conversation, and asks what else someone might say justice is.264 The emphasis is on what else, not who else, but it is finally at this point that a certain somebody else gets to put his word in. Thrasymachus has been trying to get control of the conversation several times265 but those sitting beside him had continually restrained him because they wanted hear the discussion through.266 We are given to infer that the very form of the conversation was invalid to him, or was not as important as what he had to say, or both; but these attitudes do not explain his urgency. We are given a direct sense of that in his outburst.267
He crouched like an beast and sprang out at us; Polemarchus and I shook268 to the bones with fear. He blurted out, to nobody in particular,269 “How can two people be so full of it, and full of it for so long?270 What’s with this naive game of pussyfoot you are playing with each other? If you really want to know what justice is, don’t just ask questions and then fix it so that you can make yourself look good by refuting the answers, knowing all along it’s easier to play questioner than answerer. Instead, step up to the plate and say what you think it is.271 And spare me272 from the answer that it is ‘the binding,’ or that it is ‘the helpful,’ or that it is ‘the profitable,’ or that it is ‘the lucrative,’ or that it is ‘the advantageous.’273 Instead be clear and careful in your formulation. You won’t be able to pass off smoke like that on me.”274
Socrates reverts to narration: I was bowled over by what he said and I watched him in fear. In fact I think if I hadn’t been looking at him first275 I would have been struck mute.276 As it happened I already had my eyes on him when he was beginning to get stirred up277 by our conversation, and so I was able to answer him, though my voice trembled some: Don’t be too harsh on us. If this fellow278 and I have erred in the way we have been talking please know it was unintentional. Surely, if it were gold we were searching for we wouldn’t “pussyfoot” with each other and thwart ourselves from finding it—at least not willingly. Since it’s justice we’ve set out to find, a thing more honorable279 than a lot of gold, how can you think we would be going about it280 by giving in to each other in this empty-headed way that you describe281 rather than using all zeal to make it appear?282 Our problem is, we aren’t able, and so we would much more properly receive mercy from a clever person like you than scorn.
Socrates’s response is almost exactly the same length as Thrasymachus’s assault, and surely as dense and well (337) contrived.283 It elicits a guffaw and a sardonic284 smile from Thrasymachus: “There you have it, that famous irony of Socrates!”285 He had warned the group before they sat down that Socrates would try this ploy: unwilling to answer, he would act dumb and do anything to avoid it if anybody asked him a question.286
Socrates offers a riposte: You knew because you are wise.287 You knew very well that if you asked somebody how much twelve was, but forbade288 him and said, “Don’t say that it’s twice six and don’t say that it’s thrice four and don’t say that it’s six two’s and don’t say that it’s four three’s, since I won’t accept such nonsense from you” 289—I’m sure it was clear to you (when you asked it) that nobody answers290 a person asking for information in this way. Instead, if he had said to you “Am I not to answer with these answers, even if they are in fact true? Are you commanding me to lie?” then what would you have said to him?
“This of course being the same as that,” Thrasymachus scoffs.291
It might just be, but even if it isn't, if it appears to be to the man that has been asked, isn’t this the answer he gives292 -- how it appears to him293 -- whether we forbid him to or not?
“So you’ll be doing this, giving as your answer one of the things that I have forbidden?” 294
I wouldn’t be surprised, if my thinking should lead me to do so.
“But what if I exhibit295 as an alternative296 an answer about justice better than all these? What penalty should you undergo?”297
I should undergo what is befitting. What befits a person who is ignorant is to learn from a man who knows. Just so, that’s the “penalty” I propose.298
Thrasymachus won’t quite let go of it. “Isn’t that sweet?299 In addition to learning, you must pay a fine in silver.”
Once I get some, you mean.
“Count it that you have it now,” Glaucon interposes, his first remark since the opening page of the dialogue, and then tells Thrasymachus if money is needed the entire group is ready to ante up for Socrates.300
“Of course—so that Socrates can pull off301 his usual stunt. When it’s his own turn he doesn’t answer, but once the next person does he joins the conversation as cross-examiner.”
The complaining won’t cease so Socrates addresses it directly. It is inconceivable that a person would answer if—let alone the fact that he is ignorant and makes no claim to knowing, but assume he fancies that he knows—if302 all the things he would feel comfortable about303 saying had been barred, and barred by a man of no mean stature.304 Given all this it would be more appropriate for you, Thrasymachus, to do the speaking. You in fact claim to know, and to be (338) able to articulate your knowledge in speech.305 So don’t do anything else:306 rather, do please me by playing answerer at the same time that you avoid begrudging to teach Glaucon here307 as well as the others.
This does the trick, as we immediately intuit when Socrates reverts to his narrative persona, the one that speaks directly to us. All the others, he tells us, urged Thrasymachus to “Do nothing else,” and it was plain to see that he was very desirous of telling, in order to come off well, since he was sure he had a killer answer.308 Nevertheless he made a show of wanting to vie309 over whether he or I should play answerer. In the end he gave in but not without having the last word:310 “There you have it, the wisdom311 of Socrates! When it’s his turn he’s unwilling to engage in teaching,312 and instead he roams about313 learning from others and not even giving them thanks314 in return.”
It is seldom that Socrates allows a flat lie to go unanswered, nor does he do so here. That he learns from people is very true; but that he does not “repay them with thanks”315 is a lie. He pays what he can, and what he can pay is praise. This he pays unstintingly, however, when in his judgment a man speaks well, as Thrasymachus will see once he gives his answer, for surely he’ll speak well.316
So much leaves Thrasymachus little to do but give his answer. “The just is nothing else than317 the advantage of the stronger.318 Where’s the praise, then? See? I told you319 you would be unwilling.”
It’s too soon to say, until I learn what you are saying. What does the formula mean? Certainly I’d be wrong to put the interpretation onto it that320 justice would be for us,321 the weaker, to eat the food that the helps a wrestler who is stronger than us to be strong.
“You are stupid322 to think this Socrates, and are just contriving to construe my statement in a way you might most easily damage it.”323
No, that’s not at all my intention—rather it is to get you to say more clearly324 what you mean. Socrates’s intentional misinterpretation forces Thrasymachus to explain and give a more discursive answer—though of course his one word answer is not vague or essentialist, as he found Socrates's to be, but sensationalist, as we shall see.
“I guess you are not aware, then,325 that cities adopt different political forms—some have tyranny imposed on them, some democracy and some aristocracy. In each case it is the ruling element or class326 that runs the place. But327 although they differ from one another these ruling elements all set down laws with a view to their own advantage, since a democracy makes democratic laws, a tyranny tyrannical, and an aristocracy aristocratic.328 In setting down such laws they have in essence declared to the people they rule that the just is what is advantageous to their own regime; and they punish those who step out of line as being lawbreakers and329 unjust. This is what I am pointing to, a common (339) element which can be found in any city you wish to name, namely the ongoing advantage of the established regime. Here you have what actually holds the power, so that any astute330 person will see the writing on the wall wherever he is, that justice is whatever the stronger command in their own interest.”
Now Socrates knows what he means; whether it is true he does not yet know. The position is that the just is “the advantageous”—one of the very answers he was barred from giving – though he must acknowledge there is something more, the supplement “of the stronger.”
“A small supplement perhaps?” 331
Socrates sees the double meaning and he answers it. It is not the size of the addend but whether it is true. That justice is in some sense advantageous Socrates for his part332 already agrees. It is Thrasymachus’s addition that he is not sure about and wants to investigate.333
“Investigate away!”
So I will: Tell me, would you also334 agree that obeying the rulers is just?
“Yes.”
Is the ruling group in all of its many types infallible, or are they able to make mistakes as well?
“It is entirely possible that they should make some mistakes,” Thrasymachus says, his vehemence giving Socrates cover to insert a reason this is true: In their attempt to set down laws, some they set down properly and some they don’t, where properly means they succeed in formulating335 laws that give them an advantage, and improperly if the formulation results in their disadvantage. And then, once they formulate their laws,336 the ruled are to follow them in their actions, their compliance constituting just behavior.
“Yes, of course.”
Well then it’s not only just according to your argument for them to act in the rulers’ advantage, but also the opposite, to their disadvantage.
Now337 what are you are trying to say?”
Just what you338 are saying, it seems to me. But let’s try to analyze it. We have on the table339 the agreement that the ruling group, in commanding340 the ruled to act in a certain way, err from time to time in the formulation of what is best341 for themselves; but that once they make their command, being the rulers,342 justice consists in the ruled acting accordingly. Isn’t this what we have on the table?
“I do think so,” Thrasymachus says, almost without affect.
Well then think343 this, too, that you have granted that their doing what is disadvantageous to the rulers or your ‘strongers’344 is also just, whenever the one group, the rulers, unintentionally command them to do things bad for themselves, while for the other group you assert345 it is just to do what the former commanded. Does the situation not then necessarily come about, my most wise Thrasymachus, that it is just for them to do the opposite of what you have said to be just? For at that moment what is being commanded is that the weaker ones act to the disadvantage of the strong.
Unlike the argument about the wrestler’s diet this argument has a beginning, middle and end, and Thrasymachus has been participating in it step by step. The very moment the refutation is complete, Polemarchus cuts off our access to (340) Thrasymachus’s response by stepping in to agree with Socrates, just as he had blocked Cephalus from responding to Socrates just when Socrates had made trouble for Cephalus’s argument about paying back.346 In the former case, as soon as Polemarchus had risen in support of Cephalus’s position Cephalus took the opportunity to leave. The dramatic parallel leads us to reflect, and thereby to realize without anybody saying it, that there is no way Thrasymachus will make an exit before he proves to be stronger than everybody. To the extent that we are aware of this, we recognize that the conversation that now intervenes takes place in the ominous shadow of Thrasymachus’s mounting anger in response to what he himself believes in having been revealed for what it is, with all its self-contradictions.
Cleitophon chimes in to counter Polemarchus’s support of Socrates. He is speaking on behalf of Thrasymachus as we can tell not by his defense of the position but by his attempt to imitate Thrasymachus’s derisive and contrarian manner, saying, “As long as you are his witness,” (340A3) by which he identifies himself, by implication, as a witness on behalf of Thrasymachus and invites Polemarchus into a sub-squabble. Then Polemarchus takes up the derogatory language and uses it against Cleitophon, as Socrates had just done with Thrasymachus:347 “Who needs a witness when your man himself confesses that the ruling group on the one hand sometimes commands things bad for themselves, but that for the ruled on the other hand it is just to carry out such commands?”
The two are imitating the interlocutors they admire, in order to advance the logos.348 We get the sense that we can ignore Thrasymachus for a moment and enjoy a little by-play, but we still know he is not going to disappear.
“What you need to know,349 Polemarchus,” says Cleitophon, “is that justice according to Thrasymachus’s formulation350 consisted in responding to the rulers’ bidding with obedience.”351
“That justice was the advantage of the stronger was also352 part of his formulation. The problem is, having saddled himself with both these formulations353 he went on to agree that sometimes the rulers bid354 the weaker persons whom they rule355 to do things disadvantageous to themselves.356 The result of all these concessions would be that justice, as obedience to the stronger, is no more to the advantage than to the disadvantage of the stronger.” 357
“But ‘the advantage of the stronger’ he made to be what the stronger man was quite assured358 was in his interest. His point was359 that it was incumbent upon the weaker to carry this out, and that to do so was justice.”
“But this was not the way the argument actually went,” Polemarchus objects, with complete justification.360
Both interlocutors imitate and both fall short of their models, with Cleitophon hewing so closely to Thrasymachus’s meaning that he forgets to win the spat by packaging it derisively, and Polemarchus doing such a good job of remembering how the argument went that he ends up having no idea where it should go next. Socrates therefore intervenes with the simple proposal to Polemarchus that the disagreement about what he decreed (ἔλεγεν) and what was said (ἐλέγετο) comes to nothing since we can simply ask Thrasymachus what he now says and move on from there.361 With this he turns to Thrasymachus and the digression ends: How about it? Were you making out justice to be what seemed to the stronger to be advantageous, whether in truth it was advantageous or not?
“Hardly! Do you really think I would call a man making an error stronger than the others at the moment he is making the error?”362
I did in fact think this is what you meant when you were granting that the rulers were not infallible but do in fact make some mistakes.363
“Well, Socrates, that’s because you play the sycophant in conversations.364 Just ask yourself:365 Do you call366 a person who is making an error in treating the sick a doctor in respect to the very error he is making? Or an accountant a person who makes an error in calculation just at the moment he makes the error, and in respect to367 the error he has made? I feel we368 do talk this way when we say, ‘The doctor erred’ and ‘The accountant erred’ and ‘The grammarian.’369 But I feel370 that in reality371 each of these individual types,372 to the extent that they really are373 what we designate374 them to be, never errs. And so in terms of accurate thinking—something you of course will never tire to require of us—none of the various worthies we rely on375 errs. It is when his knowledge leaves him in the lurch that an erring expert errs, at which moment he is not really an expert. And so the worthy, whether acting in the role of expert or of ruler, never376 errs while he really is377 ruler;378 although anybody might say, ‘The doctor erred’ or ‘The ruler erred.’ It is in this latter way that you may take the meaning of my answer to you just a moment ago, whereas it is the perfectly accurate379 former answer that is truly the case, that the man who rules, to the extent that he really is (341) ruling,380 doesn’t err;381 and that unerring, he formulates as law what is best382 for himself; and that this law the ruled must carry out. And so, as I defined justice at the outset, so do I define it now: doing what is advantageous to the strong man.”383
Thrasymachus has captured the floor and held it for two minutes. Socrates’s reply sounds Thrasymachean for the way it responds to a long and substantial argument by raising ad hominem matters: “So you think I am playing the sycophant, do you?”
“Certainly.”
You think I was asking384 the questions I was asking as a plot to attack you in conversation?
“I don’t think, I know: and you’ll have no advantage from it. You could neither ambush me nor overcome me with main force in an open attack.”385
I wouldn’t even try, my dazzling friend! But to keep this kind of thing386 from arising between us again, make a clear distinction whether you mean by the ruler and stronger the one of common parlance or the one of the accurate conception as you have just now articulated it, whose advantage, given the fact that they are the stronger, it shall be just for the weaker to carry out.
“The one who, by the very most accurate387 conception, really is388 ruler. Now attack at will and play the sycophant389—I give you full license. Of course you’ll have no success.”
You think me so mad as to try bearding the lion and to play the sycophant against Thrasymachus?
“The fact is you made an attempt just now,390 feckless as you are.”
That’s enough of that, Socrates remarks. Thrasymachus has clearly chosen the strict interpretation, and has vowed unstintingly to defend his position. To achieve this level of resolution is the only value this kind of banter can have for Socrates. Now his testing elenchus can begin: Is your physician in the strict sense a businessman or is he a caregiver to the sick? Mind you,391 talk about the man who really is a doctor in truth.392
“Caregiver to the sick.”
What about a pilot?393 Is the pilot in the proper sense394 the ruler of the sailors or a sailor himself?
“Ruler of sailors.”395
I suppose we shouldn’t be troubled by the thought that he does sail in the ship nor think that therefore396 he is to be called a sailor, since it is not looking to397 his sailing that we call him pilot but looking to his skill and rule398 over the sailors.
“True.”
Now doesn’t each of these399 practitioners have an interest or an advantage?
“Quite.”
And is it not this, namely the interest of each, that skill by its very nature is meant to seek out and provide? 400
“This.”401
So let me ask you, when it comes to the various skills do they have any interest or advantage other than to be as complete and perfect as possible?
“How do you mean this question?”
I mean it this way:402 if you were to ask me whether the body is able to maintain itself as a body on its own, or whether it needs something else besides itself, I would say, “You bet it needs something else: that’s why we have a science of medicine, because the body is burdensome403 and cannot sustain itself. To provide for this and secure its interest is what medicine has been set up to do.” Would my answer seem to you correct if I answered this way?
“Correct.”
(342)But then, to move on to the question I am asking you,404 is the skill of medicine considered in itself burdensome, in turn? Is there any skill for that matter that needs some ability or virtue besides itself the way the eyes need the ability to see and the ears need the ability to hear, and therefore, because they have needs, there is in their case a need for a distinct skill that will seek out and then provide what will avail them to achieve these abilities?405 I ask you, is there likewise in the skill itself some insufficiency, so that406 for each of the special skills there will be a need for another skill that will seek out its advantage, and for this seeking skill another skill in turn, and so on into infinity? Or else407 is it that each plays this role for itself, and tends to its own advantage? Or is it not rather that skill needs neither herself nor another skill to look out for her408 interest to compensate for a burdensome deficiency within herself, since there is neither deficiency nor error of any kind within any skill, nor does it befit skill409 to search out the advantage for any other410 than for the one we have noted above, whose411 skill it is, while in herself she is immune from harm and free of alloy, correct and upright as she is and will be as long as she has her own accuracy as the complete whole that she truly is.412 Is this the way it is or is it otherwise?
His long question, during which he suggests and even advocates an answer, nearly matches the presentation of Thrasymachus’s thesis in length but easily surpasses it in ardency. Socrates, too, it seems, admires what we have come to call the empire of skill, its autarky, its purity, its wholeness and perfection. Thrasymachus cannot but agree: “It is evident that this is the way it is.”
The other shoe is about to drop. Socrates makes the direct inference413 that medicine does not seek the advantage of medicine but of the body; Thrasymachus says “ναί,” the shortest yes-answer available in Greek. Nor does horsemanship that of horsemanship but of horses; nor does any skill whatsoever that of itself—after all it needs nothing besides itself—but of that whose skill it is.”414 Thrasymachus, as if he were not sure whether he was coming or going, re-uses his last answer with the words reversed: “It seems that is how it is.” With λλὰ μήν ... γε, Socrates now asks the question that supplies the minor premise that lets the other shoe drop: “But to be sure it is a ruling415 role that the skills enjoy, and a role of power over that whose skills they are.”416
Socrates at this point does not convey Thrasymachus’s very words to us but reverts to narration and tells us that Thrasymachus with great reluctance said yes; but then he quotes himself as drawing the fatal conclusion: “Therefore417 it is not true that knowledge,418 any knowledge in the world, makes the interest of the stronger its concern, to find and bring it about under its direction,419 but that of the weaker that is ruled by it.”
Socrates again reverts to narration: although Thrasymachus finally agreed to this as well it was not without trying to make a battle out of it;420 but once he agreed, Socrates could continue. It’s no different with the doctor: no doctor, to the extent he is a doctor, seeks and directs the achieving of the doctor’s interest but that of the man who is sick. After all we have agreed that the “accurate” doctor421 is the ruler of bodies, not a businessman,422 just as the “accurate” pilot was a ruler of sailors rather than a sailor himself. So therefore it is not the case that423 a pilot and ruler of this kind at least424 seeks and gives commands425 to achieve the pilot’s interest, but that of the sailor whom he rules. So, isn’t it the case, Thrasymachus, that nobody who holds a position of rule, to the extent that he really is a ruler, either looks out for his own interest or426 makes orders toward that end, but rather that of the ruled and427 whatever person relies on him for his expertise.428 Yes, it is by looking off429 toward that goal and toward what is advantageous to and appropriate for that person that he says what he says and does what he does,430 in each case and in every case.431
(343) It was now clear to them all, Socrates tells us, that they had come to a point where the account of justice had been totally reversed. Thrasymachus now stops playing the role of answerer, and asks a question instead, “Where’s your nanny, Socrates?”
Huh? Oughtn’t you come up with a better answer rather than reverting to questions like that?
“Because432 there you are with snot all over your nose and Nursie’s neglected to take care of her ward433 and wipe you off. You can’t even tell her434 which are the sheep and which is the shepherd!”
Because what? Socrates replies. As before, Thrasymachus has stopped the conversation and arrested Socrates’s attention with name-calling, more derogatory and more inscrutable this time, so that this time can buy a moment finally to launch into his speech, a full statement of the παγκάλη ἀπόκρισις, which he has been chafing to give all along. It is a highly rhetorical speech (343B1-4C8), delivered ex tempore and without any warning as to its length. Finally we get an opportunity to see the professional orator at work.
“Because435 you think shepherds and cowherds look out for the good of the sheep and the cattle and fatten them and take care of them, with some other goal in their sights than the good of their masters and their own good, and likewise436 rulers in the city—the rulers for real437 that is—you sit there with the notion438 that they have something else in mind for their subjects than what a person would be ready to do to his sheep, and that they are on a vigil night and day439 for some other purpose than to benefit themselves. Yes, you are so far from what justice and injustice are and what they mean440 that while “justice” is, as they say,441 “doing right by the other guy,” you are blind to the fact that the other guy in question is the man in charge who rules you, while for yourself there is only harm442 in obeying and serving him; and that injustice443 to the contrary -- the injustice of the strong man -- lords over those of goodly temper who are the just,444 while his subjects for their part work for the benefit of him since he is the stronger, and work only for the happiness of him445 in their role as his servants, and never at all for their own. Take the trouble to investigate, Socrates, my fine446 fool, how the just man everywhere447 has less than the unjust—you really ought to. First of all in private business, whenever the one type embarks on a joint venture448 with the other, you will never find the just man coming away with more than the unjust when they split their profits, but always less. In dealings with the city, when it’s time to pay into the public coffers the just man pays in more, out of the same income, and the other man less, but when it’s time to draw down449 something for oneself, the one gets nothing while the other makes a big haul.450 Just look at451 what’s in store for each of them when it comes to political appointments. For the just man, no fines for misconduct I’ll grant you, but his personal affairs suffer from neglect while from the public weal he profits not at all since he behaves justly, not to mention how he angers his relatives and his friends when they come to him for favors and he turns them away because of his scruples. In store for the unjust man is just the opposite—I mean (344) the sort of man I was just talking about,452 the one who has the power to pull off something big. Use this one as your model if you want to assess just how much more advantageous it is for one’s private fortune to act unjustly than justly. In fact the easiest way to get the picture is to reach453 the man who has gone so far in injustice as to live its perfect version, which454 raises the man who acts unjustly to the highest heights and consigns the man acted upon and unwilling to act that way himself to the depths of destitution. Who is she you ask? Tyranny! She who will not stay at the gains to be got here and there by stealth and force, from the sacred or from the profane, now from the public and now the private, but takes from all these everywhere and all the time—things that is with which if you would deal in a small way, and once get caught, would bring fines and penalties upon you and heavy opprobrium. Just think after all how the petty criminals get named after455 their crimes: temple robber or kidnapper or burglar or swindler or thief! Such distasteful terms! But now look to the man who does not stop at seizing his fellow citizens’ possessions but kidnaps them bodily and makes them his slaves: his name will be none of these; all will call him happy – nay, blessed456-- a man who made it big, not only the very citizens whose lives he took over but also anybody who only hears the story of a man that achieved this total injustice in each and every department of life. People who scorn injustice do so because they are afraid of suffering it, not doing it.
“There you have it, Socrates: Injustice. A thing more strong, a thing more free, a thing more dominant than justice,457 once it comes into its prime.458 As I said at the beginning,459 and it is true in very fact, being just only helps the strong man while being unjust brings profit and advantage460 to oneself.”
We may start with the paraphrasable content of this speech. The ruler’s concern for the ruled is the same as that of the shepherd for his sheep. It is to use them up for his own profit. Justice (insofar as it consists of obeying the ruler’s laws which after all are only orders he has concocted for them to act in ways to benefit himself), boils down to being a choice of the ruled to allow him to do this. He always comes out ahead, because the “just” men, in being duped, allow themselves to fall behind him. How far he can get ahead you can see in the case of the completely unjust man, the tyrant, who has gotten so far as to reduce the men who obey him to slavery, and is thanked and admired for it to boot, not only by those in his thrall but by all that hear of him. People disapprove of injustice because they fear suffering it, not because they are averse to461 committing it.
Beyond what he has said, what he has tried to do? He projects onto Socrates’s pursuit of truth the construction that it is nothing but a ruse to get the upper hand in conversation,462 because he knows nothing but to try to get the upper hand himself.463 Continually he has failed. From the intervening refutation we learn that what will assure his hegemony is clearly not his mastery of the useful arts of a demiurge, arts which Socrates admires for their resemblance to the most useful art of all (knowledge). That he has been refuted by the deployment of such an art only forces him finally to place his cards on the table and make his big move, which is this speech. Though Socrates may be slavishly enamored of art and of its hegemony, autarky,464 and purity, Thrasymachus makes the case for an hegemony, purity, and autarky465 of the self just as it is, elevated and inflated by the self-subjugation of others to the transfiguration of itself into the tyrant, if only it will dare.466 Why it should dare is that otherwise it will be acted upon. Injustice is a game that must therefore be played for keeps, and Thrasymachus will be talking (and talking only) about “playing for keeps” as long as he can breathe. His speech has been an attempt to arouse the two deep seated passions of fear and self-love in his audience and forge an alliance between them that will lead the audience to take the first step in the direction of the unjust life, namely, to agree with Thrasymachus, lest they consign themselves to identify and be identified with the losers.
We know the name of these passions when they are allied (it is envy); and we know the effect of a demagogue inciting them in a mob (it is violence). Prudence then dictates, third, that we stop for a moment and analyze the rhetoric by which Thrasymachus’s speech seeks to arouse such passions. His warrant for making his opening assertions, that the ruler leads the ruled to slaughter (343B1-C1) and that justice is for suckers (C1-D1), is not that they are true but that Socrates is too naive to know that they are. So under the guise of condescending to teach him (D1-2), he launches into his “proof by exhaustion” that the unjust man beats the just, everywhere. Through invidious comparison and vivid depiction he shows how the unjust man wins out, first in private life (D3-6), and then in public (D6ff). His treatment of public life begins by dividing it into what we do for the common weal (i.e., pay assessments: D6-8) and what we can get back (the rather more vague but exciting notion of λήψεις467), and then moves on laterally to the opportunities provided by political office. The lateral movement468 disregards the logic of the division but affords him an opportunity469 to describe in vivid detail the figure cut by the just man, focussing invidiously on how he disappoints his own cronies. When he moves on, as if pari passu, to the unjust man and how he handles public office (ἀρχή) he has finally reached the heart of his speech. He has spent twelve lines (D3-E6) getting to his laudandus and now will tarry with him for twenty four (E6-344C8). When he is done with this part, his speech will be over. The structure therefore reveals that the speech, though it begins as a remedial lesson for the benighted Socrates, is in truth and was always meant to be a praise of the unjust man.
He ushers in this final section and warms up to his ultimate topic with a sort of priamel. He will focus our attention thereby not on any unjust man but the “really unjust one” he has been talking about all along, the one he now can call μεγάλα δυνάμενον πλεονεκτεῖν, and so unveil the frank and unvarnished terms by which power describes itself. He admonishes us that if we really want470 to discern (κρίνειν471) the measure of injustice’s superiority we have to look at this man. But then he stops to replace this man with an even better subject of scrutiny472 (i.e., of praise) the superlatively unjust man upon whom Injustice herself473 has conferred the greatest happiness while those who spurn her she condemns to perdition.474 Who is this Injustice? She is Tyranny!475 She who … – and the sequel has the form of a hymn.
Fourth and finally we must pause to deny the prevalent view that Thrasymachus has a theory in the first place.476 He does not believe that might makes right. If anything he believes that “right” makes might, since some people’s belief in right, in the sense of their believing it is right that they obey laws per se, enables the promulgators of laws to lead them into doing whatever will help themselves and thereby into aggrandizing their own power. He is not a legal positivist: surely he does not himself believe that the legal enactment of laws creates a duty upon the ruled that they obey them. His allusion to governments is merely illustrative and not substantive; the only “government” he cares about is the one in which all institutions have become subordinate to his one unjust man, the tyrant. His entire pitch (παράγγελμα) is a strategy for acquiring power and yet does not have a definition of power beyond a vague image of the “freedom of the tyrant”477 which consists for him of nothing but the willingness of his subjects to obey him. Power, like pleonexy,478 is a merely comparative attribute. Without his cowering subjects and his reputation among persons who have not met him, his power is nothing, for there is nothing it enables him to do that they will not let him do.479 The evidence of its nothingness has been revealed in the movement of the argument to this point, by which Thrasymachus was nearly forced into naked candor when his usual methods of seduction and cajolery failed to stand up in straightforward conversation.
Socrates has assumed the responsibility for keeping the conversation straightforward, both by refusing to take the bait of Thrasymachus's continual insults and by protecting the process of search from the rights and wrongs of captious squabbling, like the squabbling of Polemarchus who is clearly right and Cleitophon who is clearly wrong. The representation of Thrasymachus’s attitude by Glaucon and Adeimantus that we will find at the beginning of Book Two will indeed elevate this attitude to a “position” or a “belief” articulate enough to be tested,480 but they were able to do so not because there lurked a theoretical content in Thrasymachus’s argument but because as Hegel has taught us the very articulation of their own deeply held belief that justice is real and good brings into being the conceivability of the opposite position, that justice is nothing or, if something, something bad.
Such a speech, so long and so emotional, would give its audience pause. Indeed in the aftermath we realize that we are part of its audience. The moment we do, Socrates confirms it for us by reverting to the narrative mode and addressing us directly (344D1ff). Having drenched our ears481 with this speech, he tells us, Thrasymachus got up to leave like a bathman who has poured a tubful of rinse-water over his bathers.482 There was no way the company would allow him to leave. They made him stick around483 and explain his position.484 In particular I myself485 pushed him hard, saying: You redoubtable fellow do you really think you can drop a bomb like that on us and just get up and leave, before you have finished telling us how it’s so or for that matter hearing how after all it isn’t?486 Unless you think trying to get clear on this topic isn’t worth the trouble or has nothing to do with the choices that each of us must make about how to manage our conduct so as to enjoy the best life possible.487
“As though I fancy this thing I have told you is not as I say it is!”488
It seems you do, or else it seems we mean nothing to you489 so that you won’t pay attention to whether our lives will turn out better or worse if we remain ignorant of what you claim to know. But come and take the effort490 to make it clear to (345) us. It won’t go badly at all for you, my friend, considering how many of us there are,491 if you do us this favor. Just between you and me I am not persuaded by what you said: I am not persuaded that injustice is more lucrative492 than justice, and I wouldn’t believe it even if one turned her loose and didn’t try to block her every attempt to have her way. Let her be unjust, my friend; give her the power to injure others, whether by stealth or by open aggression. Still,493 she does not persuade me that she is more lucrative than justice. Now it may just be that I am not alone in coming away with this feeling,494 so take the trouble to persuade us to our satisfaction495 that we are wrong to think it important to pursue justice rather than injustice in the choices we make about our lives.
“And496 how am I to persuade you, if the speech I’ve delivered has left you cold? Shall I grind it up into a pabulum and spoon it into your brains?”
That’s not the kind of help I want from you, by Zeus! You could start by sticking with your position, or giving a warning when you alter it so as not to send us off onto the wrong path. In fact, you’ve just done this, if I may revert to your previous argument for a moment.497 You started by defining the doctor strictly, but then when you moved on to the shepherd you thought you didn’t need to keep to the strict method but had him fattening his sheep as if it were his job not to tend to their interest but to act like a banqueter tending to a feast, or else alternatively as a wholesaler aiming at selling them, as if his job were to make money rather than be a shepherd. The shepherd’s art is preoccupied with nothing but the job its nature has assigned it,498 to promote and provide for this as best it can, while its own concerns have already been taken care of, consisting as they do of nothing but being what it is to be the art that it is. Given all that, I thought we had no choice but to agree that any kind of being-in-charge, to the extent that it truly was a being-in-charge, by its nature and to that extent499 looked out for the interest of nothing but that thing,500 the thing placed under its charge and its care, whether the charge be political or professional. Look at it for yourself: Do you fancy that the rulers you see in cities501—the real rulers I mean—do you fancy they serve willingly?
“By Zeus I not only fancy it but know it for a fact!”502
And yet wouldn’t you agree that people accept other kinds of charge only for pay, as if they saw no good coming to themselves from being in charge, but only for those they took charge of? Will you at least give me this much,503 that (346) we always distinguish one art from another on the basis that what it is able to do is distinct from what the other is able to do? Please don’t answer contrary to your belief,504 my blessed man505—that would keep us from moving forward in our discussion.
“No, that is why: by the ability being different.”
And likewise a benefit is provided by each, a benefit unique to the art itself and not a benefit the others also provide, the way that medicine provides health and piloting provides safety at sea, and so forth with the others?
“Quite.”
And does the art of wage-earning likewise provide the benefit of a wage, this being the ability that wage-earning has. Or would Thrasymachus506 call both medicine and piloting one and the same art? Nay, to the contrary, once you decide as you did before that it’s best to define things accurately and strictly, then if a man working as pilot happens to become healthy by dint of some benefit he derives from sailing in the ocean, you would not begin calling piloting medicine, would you?
“By no means.”
Nor for that matter would you call moneymaking medicine507 in the event that a person making a wage happens to heal somebody.
“By no means.”
But would you call medicine wage-earning,508 if somebody in the course of healing should happen to make a wage?
He denied it.509
But when it comes to the benefit conferred by each art didn’t we agree that it was unique to each art?
“Let that answer stand.”
Therefore in the case of any benefit all artisans enjoy in common, it must by virtue of their practicing, in common, something in addition to their several arts, and it must be from that additional practice that they derive the enjoyment of this common benefit.
“So it seems.”
And in particular we are averring that the event of the artisans being made better off by the wages they earn,510 is an event that derives from their practicing, in addition, the wage-earning art.
To this he agreed, reluctantly.
Therefore it is not from their own several arts that this benefit comes to them, namely getting511 paid. Instead, if we are to pursue the question strictly, medicine produces health and wage-earning produces the wage, and building produces a house whereas wage earning following upon building produces the wage, and all the other arts likewise tend each to its own task and each benefit whatever they are placed in charge of. Conversely in case a wage does not accrue to it following upon its own deployment, is there any sense in which an artisan derives benefit from his art?
“It seems there is not.”
Would you likewise512 say that he confers no benefit in the case when he carries out his task without being paid?
“No, I think he does confer benefit.”
So, Thrasymachus, now it is clear that no art and no charge or rule works at providing a benefit to itself, but as we were saying before513 it works at achieving what is beneficial to the ruled and issues its commands toward that end, ever keeping its eye on the advantage of that other party, since it is weaker, and not on the advantage of the stronger. And that’s why I said just now,514 my friend Thrasymachus, that it’s out of the question515 that a person would be willing to rule if he had the choice, or to become involved in straightening out the messes that other people get themselves (347) into,516 but instead that he demands a wage, since if you are dealing with a person who is going to be effecting his art with skill, he never effects what is best for himself nor issues his commands toward this end if he is commanding what his art requires, but instead toward what is best for the person in his charge. That’s why there needs to be a wage in store for a person if you expect him to be willing to rule, whether the wage be silver, or honor—or a penalty if he won’t.
Socrates thus ends this sustained wave of argument (345E2-347A5) with a quod erat demonstrandum, the solution to the question that began it—the paradox of being unwilling to rule (345E2-3). Moreover, just as that paradox was introduced at the very end of his sustained statement to Thrasymachus about how to behave in conversation (345B7-E2), he here introduces a new paradox at the very close of that solution (the “penalty,” A5-6) which will lead to a third wave of argument. Such suggestive last minute questions enable him to keep control of the conversation.
We are surprised and perhaps relieved that Glaucon now intervenes to react to the paradox. He can understand the two kinds of “wage,” but he can’t see how a penalty can play the part of a wage. Socrates replies that Glaucon must be ignorant of the “wage of the noblest,”517 that causes the most decent persons to rule when they do willingly rule. After all, zeal for high honors or for money lead to a bad reputation, and deserve to, so it’s easy to see518 that good men will not be willing to rule for pay or for honor. If they draw pay in the open they’ll be called hirelings; and they'll be called thieves if they extract financial gains in secret.519 Honor won’t persuade them to rule, since they aren’t interested in being famous. In their case some further compulsion must be brought into play if we are to expect them to rule willingly, or a penalty. Why else have we come to think that it is shameful to seek office and then hang around as an incumbent520 beyond the time the office requires?521 As for a penalty, the greatest they face is being ruled by a worse man522 in case they won’t accept office themselves. It’s out of a fear of this that good men rule, on the occasions they do, and even here they seek office not as one seeks something good with the prospect of benefitting from it but as one facing a necessity since he has no one else to rely on that is better or equal to himself. Think of it:523 if a city of good men ever came to be, the greatest prize would be not ruling, just as ruling is in the existing ones! And there you’d have your proof that in reality the basic nature of the true ruler524 is to seek not his own advantage but the advantage of the ruled. Thus, anybody who knows the difference525 would prefer to be in the position of receiving help from others rather than giving it and having to face all the difficulties attendant upon doing so.526 So, as for this assertion that justice is the advantage of the stronger there is no way for me to agree with Thrasymachus. We can put it aside and deal with it later;527 much more important to me is this declaration he has now made, that the life of the unjust man is stronger528 than that of the just man. How about you, Glaucon? How do you choose between them? Which is more truly said to be the stronger?
“That the life of the just man is more profitable529 seems true to me.”
(348)Didn’t530 you hear how many wonderful things Thrasymachus had to say about the life of the unjust man a few moments ago?
“Sure I heard it. I just don’t believe it.”
Do you think it would be a good idea for us to try to persuade him, if we can find some way, that his argument is false?
“How could I not think it a good idea?”
Come then,531 if our argument should consist of setting off point against point, we listing the wonderful things that a just man has in store, and then he listing more against those, and we another list against that, we’d have to count up all the pros and cons on both sides and weigh how much each of us had put in his own pan. And at that point we’d need some kind of judges who could decide532 which was greater. But if instead we proceed as we did before, securing agreement from each other by question and answer at each step,533 then we would be our own advocates and judges534 all at the same time.
Glaucon chooses the latter method and Socrates turns to Thrasymachus with a question. Come, Thrasymachus, and answer a fresh line of questions.535 Would you say that the perfect injustice you have spoken of is more profitable than justice even if the justice is perfect?536
“Quite so, and for the reasons I articulated above.”537
Come, then,538 how would you answer something like this: of the pair539 you would call one virtue and the other vice, wouldn’t you?
“Of course.”540
Justice on the one hand being541 virtue, and injustice on the other being vice?
“You’re naive542 enough to think I’d think that, when I’ve also argued that injustice on the one hand543 profits, and justice on the other does not?”
But then what would you say?
“The opposite of what you just said.”
Are you calling justice vice?
“I’m calling it a goodliness oh so very fine!544
And therefore545 you’d call injustice badliness?”546
“Just good planning.”547
And for you are they intelligent and worthy,548 the unjust?
“Those, at least, who are able to carry out injustice in its finished form, able to reduce whole cities and tribes of men to subjection under themselves. Poor you,549 you think I’m talking about purse-stealing, which does turn a profit as long as one isn’t caught550 but a profit hardly worth mentioning compared to what I am really talking about.”
No, I do know what you have in mind. What I 551wonder at is how you have injustice playing the role of virtue and wisdom552 and justice the role of their opposites.553
“Yes but that’s exactly where I put them!”
This takes us554 to a level555 where progress556 will be more difficult, and where one no longer has the usual things one can say. If you held the thesis557 that injustice is profitable but then were willing to agree that it is an evil or an ugly thing558 as some others would,559 we would be able to make an argument based on conventionally held beliefs. Instead it’s now clear that you will assert that it is a thing beautiful560 and strong, and will endow it with all the other traits we (349) have traditionally561 associated with justice, given the fact that you have the cheek to place it into the category of virtue and wisdom.562
“Clairvoyant you are!” he said.
Still one must not shrink from the challenge, but press forward in the inquiry for the sake of the argument, as long as I can assume that you are really saying what you think. Between you and me, Thrasymachus, I do believe you aren’t joking but you’re really saying what you judge to be the truth of the matter.563
“What difference does it make to you whether it’s my opinion or not? Isn’t your business just to test the argument?”
No difference.564 Just try to answer me this question, in addition to all these things you have already said:565 When it comes to two just men does one want to have more than the other?
“No way! Such behavior would be impossible for them: they’re too civil—and566 dumb.”
Does he want to have more than what a just way of life will reward him?
“Not this, either.”
But comparing himself to an unjust man, would he feel he deserves more and consider it just to have more than him? Or not?
“Consider as he may and feel as he may, he’d lack the ability.”
That’s not the question but whether, even though he would not believe he deserves more than the just man and not think it a good idea that he get more than him, whether he would believe and think the opposite about the unjust man.
“Yes he would.”
But now consider the unjust man. Does he think he deserves more than the just man and should get more than the just way of life affords?
“That goes without saying since he’s out to have more than anybody567 else.”
So you’re saying568 he’ll have more than the unjust man, too,569 and the unjust life, and will vie to take570 for himself the most of all men.
“Now you’ve got it.”
Well let’s formulate the result this way, then. The just man tries to outstrip not his like but his unlike, whereas the unjust tries to outstrip both indifferently.571
“A formulation572 most excellent!”
But as we agreed573 the unjust man is astute and therefore competent,574 whereas the just man is neither?
“This, too, you put well.”
And you’d say that the unjust man resembles the astute and competent man, while the just man does not?
“How could you expect it to be otherwise than that a person who is of such and such a sort would also resemble such and such a sort, whereas the one who isn’t doesn’t?”
Nicely put.575 We can conclude that each of the pair is like the persons they resemble.
“As I said, how could it be otherwise?”
Socrates’s next steps can be presented consecutively: Alright then, Thrasymachus. Consider a person who’s musical in comparison with576 another who is unmusical. The musical person is astute and the unmusical one not, and by virtue of being astute, competent, or by virtue of not being, incompetent. So also with the doctor. When a musician tunes his lyre he is not trying to outdo a musician in the tightening and loosening of the strings, though he would gladly outdo (350) a non-musician. And a doctor in his prescriptions will not exceed the prescriptions of a doctor or the prescriptions of medical practice, though he would gladly see himself doing better than the suggestions of a man ignorant577 of medicine. Indeed, survey578 the whole field of knowledge and the lack of it and ask yourself whether there is any kind of knower who would arrogate to himself to do more than another knower would, whether in acting on his knowledge or discoursing on it, rather than just the same amount as his fellow would say or do about the same topic.
Thrasymachus with some hesitation agrees with the conclusion on the force of its logic,579 and Socrates can turn to the counterpart of the knower, namely, the uninformed man. Will he not seek to overreach or do more than both the knower and his uniformed fellow? Thrasymachus agrees, with a faintly echoing reluctance,580 but this is all Socrates needs in order to move on to the minor premise he had adduced above: the knowing man is astute and wise581 and therefore he is competent and worthy.582 So the good and wise man will not be willing to overreach his like but rather his unlike and opposite, while the bad and ignorant man will overreach both indifferently.583 But our unjust man overreached like and unlike alike584 whereas the just will never overreach his like but only his unlike,585 so that the just man resembles the wise and good whereas the unjust resembles the bad and ignorant. But we agreed in principle a moment ago586 that whichever sort the one resembles that sort he also is, so that we can now see that in truth587 the just man is good and wise and the unjust is ignorant and bad.588
Thrasymachus’s position has come out backwards. Socrates breaks immediately into the narrative mode to speak directly to us just as he did the last time this happened,589 but this time he lets us see something very new: Thrasymachus did indeed concede590 all this, though not so easily as I have now presented it.591 Reluctant, he had to be dragged along to each step, and the labor made him sweat profusely (it was summer after all); and it was then that I witnessed something I’d never seen before: Thrasymachus blushing!592 Once we had gotten as far as to agree593 that justice is virtue and wisdom, and injustice vice and ignorance, I continued the investigation: So let’s treat this much594 as agreed. We also had asserted that injustice was strong, didn’t we? Or have you forgotten,595 Thrasymachus?
“I remember what I said. Moreover the argument you are now making596 suits me not at all. I have an argument in response, but if I should present it you would surely accuse me of speechifying. Choose then whether you think it best to allow me to say as much as597 I would, or, if you think it best to question me, then question away and I for my part will respond to you as one does to old women when they spin their tales, with ‘Is that so?’ and ‘Yes Mum’ and ‘No Mum.’”598
As long as you respond in no way contrary to your own judgment and belief.599
“I’ll do it, so as to suit you, since you aren’t allowing me to speak.600 But please, is there something more you wish of me?”
Nothing else, by Zeus. If you will do this then do it, and I for my part will do the asking.
“Ask away.”
(351) Ask I will, along the same line of inquiry as before, about what sort of thing justice really is in comparison with injustice. It had been stated that injustice was a more powerful and stronger601 thing than justice; but now,602 if in fact justice is virtue and competence, we shall easily realize that it is also a thing stronger than injustice, especially if injustice is ignorance—a fact no one can fail to know603 any longer. But this simple and straight path604 is not what I have in mind, Thrasymachus. Instead follow me on a different path: Would you say that it is unjust605 for a city to attempt to reduce other cities to slavery, by means of injustice, and so to enslave them, and hold many cities in her thrall?
“How could I not say this? No less that this will the best city do exactly606 by virtue of being most completely unjust.”607
I get it:608 That was indeed the purport of your speech, but here is what I have in mind to ask:609 Will this waxing city achieve this kind of power without justice or does she need justice to pull it off?
“If things were as you have been arguing, and justice were astuteness, then she’d need justice to pull it off; but if as I was arguing she’d need injustice.”
I admire your going beyond “No Mum” and “Yes Mum” and giving a real answer in finished form.610
“It’s because I’m trying to please you.”
And how good that is of you.611 But please me by answering the following: Would you say that a city or an army or pirates or thieves612 or any other tribe that bands together to mount such an unjust attack will have the power to pull anything off if they are treating themselves injuriously?
“By no means.”
But if they are not doing injury to each other won’t they be the more able to pull it off?
“Quite.”
This is because factions come from injustice, as do feelings of hatred and battles among themselves, whereas justice brings about likemindedness and friendship. Wouldn’t you say so?
“Anything to avoid a falling out with you!”613
Again, how good of you, my excellent614 fellow! But take the next step with me. If in fact this is the effect of injustice, to instill hatred into everything it invades, wouldn’t it make men hate each other regardless whether they are free or slave615 if once it finds its way among them, and make them break up into factions so as to make them unable to pull off any joint endeavor?
“Quite.”
But what if it springs up in a pair of men? Will they not begin to differ616 with each other and then hate and become inimical to each other at the same time that they are inimical to the just against whom they are planning their assault?617
“So they shall.”
So finally618 what if injustice invades a single man? Will it suddenly lose its inherent power and effect, or will it still possess it no less than ever?
“Let it possess it no less than ever.”
Since619 as we see620 it has this kind of power I mentioned, that whatever it invades, whether city or family or army (352) or whatever,621 its first effect is to make that thing unable to work with itself because dissension and difference arise within it, and then renders it inimical as much to itself as to any other opponent622 including the just. So that if it invades an individual man it will likewise have this same effect that it is its nature to have, first to make him unable to act due to internal strife and a lack of consensus in himself, and then inimical both to himself and to just persons.623 But let’s note624 that the gods are to be included625 among the just. This would imply that our unjust man will be the enemy of the gods as well, while the just man would be loved by the gods.
“Feast in our argument at will,626 Socrates. I won’t oppose you or else I’ll incur the enmity of these auditors I see about us.”627
Present me my dessert628 then, by continuing to play answerer as you have just now. We’ve finished everything else:629 We’ve seen the just are wiser and more competent and more able to act whereas the unjust are unable even630 to deal with themselves. In fact our rash assertion631 that unjust persons ever yet have acted in concert to pull something off was not entirely correct, for if they were unjust pure and simple632 they would not be keeping633 their hands off each other. The very concept implies634 there was some justice in them after all that enabled them not to be messing with635 each other at the same time they were mounting their attack636 on the others, through which they accomplished whatever they accomplished. It’s clear they set forth on their path of unjust conquest unjustly yes, but only by being semi-evil,637 since people vicious through and through and perfectly unjust638 are likewise perfectly unable to act. So much then, if you allow this revision, have I learned to be the case, contrary to the way you had set it out at first; but whether in addition they live a better life, the just than the unjust, and are more happy, this point we must now approach as we had originally set out to do.639 To all appearances they do, as things now stand in the argument, but we must make a more complete examination of it. After all our subject is not just any old thing, but the question how one must live one’s life.640
“Examine away.”
Examine I shall. Let’s start here. Does a horse have a function? I mean something that it alone can do or does best? For instance there is nothing with which you can see other than with the eyes, or hear with other than with the ears,641 so that seeing and hearing would properly be called the function of the eyes and the ears. Or again you (353) could use a dagger to cut back your vines or a knife or a lot of other tools, but there’s nothing that does so fine642 a job of it as the scythe that was made for this purpose. That’s what I mean by asking whether things have their own special function which they alone do or they do best.643 Now given the function of a thing there is a virtue corresponding to it. To use the same examples, the eyes have a function but also a virtue that enables them to do it, as do the ears. Now can the eyes perform their function if instead of having the corresponding virtue they have the vice instead?
“How could they—for I assume you mean they would have blindness instead of vision.”
Whatever the virtue may be—I’m not asking you to identify it as yet.644 Just answer whether having the virtue they would do their job well in the course of their exertions,645 and having the vice instead they would do it poorly.
“So far what you say is true.”
And so with the ears, deprived of their virtue they would execute their job poorly, and so on with the other cases. But now take the point I am trying to reach.646 The soul has a function that you can achieve by no other thing than soul, and I’d describe the function this way: looking after things and governing and deliberating and all this sort of thing.647 Is there anything else we could properly accord these functions to than to the soul? Can we say they are hers alone to perform?
“Nothing else's.”
But then again648 what about living? Isn’t this a function of soul?
“Most of all, I’d say.”
But we are also saying that soul has its own proper virtue?
“So we are.”
And so could soul execute its function well if she were deprived of her peculiar virtue, or is this impossible?
“Impossible”
Logic then requires649 that with a bad soul one rules badly and takes care poorly, but with a good soul one does well in all these respects.650
“So it does.”
Did we not reach the agreement651 that justice is what constitutes competence and virtue of soul, whereas injustice makes it weak and vicious?
“So we did.”
The just soul will therefore do a good job of living and the just man will live well,652 whereas the unjust man will live poorly.
“So much appears to be true according to your argument.”
(354) Yet653 he who lives well is blessed and happy,654 while he who lives not well is the opposite.
“Must be.”
Thus the just man is happy and the unjust miserable.655
“Let it be so.”
Yet656 being miserable does not profit a man, while being happy does, so that injustice is never,657 my blessed658 Thrasymachus, the more profitable659 life than the life of justice.
“Let so much constitute your feast on the day of Bendis.”660
Don’t fail to take credit for being my host, Thrasymachus, since now you have become tame and have stopped your chafing. Still, the feast was unsatisfying—by my own fault, not by yours. Like a glutton I grasped at whatever dish was brought around before giving the dish that came before the time it deserved. We had set out to discover what justice is, but before discovering the answer I let it go and jumped at the question whether it is a vice and ignorance or a kind of knowledge or virtue.661 Then another argument came upon us, that injustice is a thing more profitable than justice, and I was not able to resist going at that instead of the former. The result is, I haven’t really learned anything from the conversation. As long as I don’t know what justice is I don’t know the first thing662 about whether it should be classed as a virtue or not, and whether the man who has it is not a happy man or a happy one.
END OF BOOK ONE
(357) Socrates as we might expect reverts to the narrative mode. He thought he was done with having to663 converse,664 but what came before turned out to be only a prelude.665 It was Glaucon who pressed him to continue, the Glaucon he had been on his way home with, his friend and “student,” whom he warmly characterizes as being even less daunted, or more daunting, than Thrasymachus,666 and who in fact takes issue with him for giving in667 too easily. “Will you be satisfied only to seem to have persuaded him, and not to have persuaded him in reality?” Glaucon asks, reminding his teacher of the sort of distinction of his that later helped get him poisoned.668 Of course Socrates would choose to persuade him in reality, assuming he had the ability. “But then,” Glaucon rejoins in mild reprimand,669 “you are not doing what you would.”670 Again the student turns back upon his teacher the sort of paradoxical challenge by means of which Socrates would draw a person into dialogue. This time he follows it up with the same sort of explanatory apology that Socrates always next gives, namely, an explanation by a series of questions.671
Glaucon’s questions introduce a distinction among good things based on our different reasons for valuing them.672 First are the things we want to have not because we are aiming at what might result from having them but welcoming them in themselves and because of themselves,673 such as joy and the pleasures, as long as674 they are harmless in the sense that nothing results from them other than enjoying having them.675 Second there are the goods that we like676 both in and because of themselves677 and because of their results,678 such as being aware, and seeing, and being healthy. Things like these, presumably, we welcome for both reasons.679 And there is a third type of good,680 among which we would class exercising and undergoing medical treatment when sick, and giving medical treatment for that matter, and all other activities by which one makes money.681 Things like these are toilsome but beneficial. Although in and for themselves we would not accept having them682 we do accept them for the sake of the wages they produce or for the other things that result from them.683
Glaucon presents his division step by step, question by question, with a balance between variation and attention to detail like we saw in Socrates’s questions to Polemarchus. Indeed his imitation of Socrates is quite polished, and Socrates now accommodates him by playing the role of the typical Socratic interlocutor: ‘Yes, I grant that third type too—but what’s all this leading to?’684 Of course it is leading to the question, ‘Into which category would Socrates (358) place justice?’ For his own part685 he would place it into the finest686 category, with the things that a person would want both because of what they are in themselves and because of their future results, assuming the person is really thinking about living a happy life.687
Socrates has taken the bait and now Glaucon can reveal his purpose. “You might think688 it belongs in that category, but most people don’t! Instead they put it into the toilsome category that a person pays regard to689 for the sake of the payoffs and favors that reputation brings,690 while they would avoid it for what it is in itself and what it does, thinking it in truth a bothersome and unpleasant thing.”691 Socrates recognizes this is the opinion of most people as well as being the burden of what Thrasymachus has said in the previous discussion, but confesses that he is somehow slow to learn what is so plain to everyone else. His irony indicates that he is ready to defend his ignorance.
When else has Socrates answered questions rather than asking them?692 Glaucon has brought him to this point, and indeed he has earned a free pass to ask him all the questions he wants: “Listen then to me and see if you might693 agree.” Though he will deliver a series of assertions, they will be subordinate to the enclosing construction, “Is it true, after all, that... .” Clearly he expects a negative answer.
Thrasymachus became calm but not because his position had been adequately refuted. It was as if he had been stunned.694 The questions about justice and injustice still remain,695 and Glaucon desires696 to hear697 answers to them, to wit: What is each and what power698 does each possess in itself and on its own terms by virtue of being present in the soul?699 Leave aside the payoff and the aftereffects!700 Here is how I shall proceed if you please: I will present the Thrasymachean position anew, in three steps. First, I’ll tell what they say701 justice is in the sense of702 where it came from; second, how anybody that practices and observes justice does so not because he wants to, thinking it a good,703 but because he thinks it necessary to do so; and third, that to act this way is plausible704 since the life of the unjust man is better after all705 than that of the just man, as they argue. Myself, I think they’re wrong, and yet I am quite at a loss:·my very ears echo706 with the argument made by Thrasymachus and by a thousand others, but a speech in defense of justice, that she is better than injustice, I have never yet heard the way I want to: I want to hear it praised in itself and for itself, and it's just from you I think I might hear this message.707 So708 now I’ll make a concerted effort to praise the unjust life in order to indicate the sort of speech I want to hear from you, censuring injustice and praising justice instead709—if, that is, you’re willing.710
Socrates’s answer is just right, the answer everybody wants to hear when asking for something. “I wouldn’t have it any other way! What would anybody with a mind711 more readily welcome and enjoy than this topic, whether he’s to do the speaking or the listening?”712 Glaucon is relieved,713 and straight-away he begins.
“First, their account of the what and whence714 justice came to be.
“In nature,715 they say, doing injustice is good whereas getting it done to you is bad, but the goodness of doing it falls short of the badness of getting it done to you. What happens therefore is that once people have done injuries to and received injuries from each other and have had their taste of both, those of them who cannot pull off avoiding the (359) one and getting the other judge it716 to their advantage to agree among themselves to do neither. And that, these people say,717 is how men began formulating laws and718 compacts among themselves, and calling the behavior that these laws enjoin “lawful” or719 “just.” This is the origin and this alone720 is the essence of justice, a thing that lies between the best, which is doing injustice without paying the penalty, and the worst, which is suffering injustice without being able to exact recompense. Being a thing in between the best and worst, we embrace721 it not as good but as a thing to which we accord value because of our less than superhuman strength to commit injustice.722 After all the man who is able to pull the thing off—the real man—would never make a pact with anybody to desist from both: that, they say, would be madness!
“So much for the nature of justice, what it is or how it came to be, according to this argument. Next, the assertion that the people who practice and observe it do so out of inability of do injustice and therefore723 unwillingly. The best way to see that this is true would be to perform an experiment in thought. Let’s give each of them, the just man and the unjust, the prerogative and opportunity to do whatever they wish, and follow them on their way to see where their desires lead them. We would724 catch the just man in flagrante arriving at the same place725 as the unjust, led there by pleonexy, the desire for more, the thing that all of nature pursues as good, although she is forced off her course by law726 toward an honorification of equality and fairness.727
Here’s the way I might best formulate the opportunity. Give them both the power that once upon a time came to Gyges. He was serving as a shepherd for the King of Lydia when one day a great storm arose and the earth opened up where he was tending his flock. He looked down into it bewildered and then he went down inside. There he saw a bronze horse, among other things according to the story. It was hollow and had little doors that he looked through and saw what seemed to be a corpse, larger than human size, and our man directly728 snatched a ring its finger and climbed out.729 At the next regular meeting of the shepherds where they assemble to amass their monthly report to the king on the state of his flocks, he arrived wearing the ring. As he sat among the shepherds he happened to turn the collet inward toward the inside of his palm (360) and became invisible to them – since they talked about him as if he had left.730 Quite surprised he groped731 for the ring and rotated the collet back outward, and became visible again. He stored this little event away in his mind and later tested to see if it was for real. He would become invisible if he turned the collet inward and visible if he turned it back out.732 He recognized what this meant,733 and soon managed to get himself selected to be one of those who bore the report back to the king.734 Having gained access to the palace he seduced the king’s wife and with her help ambushed the king and killed him and became king himself.735
“Imagine there were two such rings and imagine the just man had one and the unjust man the other. It would seem736 that nobody is made of such adamantine stuff that he would abide in justice and steel himself against laying hands on what belongs to others, once he was granted the opportunity in the market to take jwithout fear whatever he wants; to enter anybody’s house and sleep with his wife, whichever wife he wants; to execute or to free from prison whomever he wants; and in general737 to act like to a god among men. In behaving so his behavior would differ not at all from that of the other man. The two of them would pursue the very same thing.
“One could infer that this experiment in thought gives powerful proof for the notion that nobody acts justly because he wants to but only because he has to and thinks it is no good for him in private,738 since any time a person thinks he will be able to act unjustly that is how he does act.739 As for profit in his private life any man believes he’ll profit more from injustice than from justice, and he believes right—so says the person arguing for this position,740 seeing that if a man comes upon an opportunity like this and once proves reluctant to do wrong and unwilling to lay his hands on what belongs to others, he comes off being the most hapless741 of men in the eyes of those who understand what is going on and a perfect fool, though to each others’ faces they will praise him in order to deceive each other out of their fear of being treated unjustly themselves.
“So much for the second point; now comes the problem of weighing the men’s lives objectively,742 which had been the plausible basis for believing that nobody is voluntarily just.743 We must lay out the two lives beside each other in full detail—otherwise the choice will not be possible.744 And let us extract nothing from the injustice of the unjust man nor from the justice of the just man, but posit them as perfect and complete exponents of their respective practices.745 Let the unjust man act like a redoubtable746 expert—like the top pilot or doctor who can (361) distinguish which jobs he can pull off and which he can’t, who takes on the one but declines to take on the other, as well as having the ability to recoup just in case747 he suffers a slip along the way. Make your unjust man act like that, selecting his acts of injustice astutely so as to avoid being caught, if he is to be forcefully748 unjust. The view must be adopted that the ones who get caught are insignificant persons.749 After all, the most extreme750 version of injustice is to seem just while not being so. So the perfectly unjust man must be endowed with the very perfection751 of injustice, and he must not be deprived but allowed, in his performance of the greatest acts of injustice, to manage at the same time to achieve an equally great reputation for justice. Grant him also that if he does suffer a slip752 he is able to recoup the situation, able as he is753 to speak when persuasion is needed in case one of his crimes is disclosed, as well as to use forceful methods754 wherever that is indicated, relying on his bravery and his puissance, and by calling upon his supply of friends and money.755
“Having posited this one to be of this sort let us set up in words alongside him a statue756 of his counterpart, the just man, a man simple and good757 who wants, as Aeschylus put it, “not to seem but to be” good.758 Now strip him of the seeming, for if we let him appear to be just, honors and rewards will accrue to him by virtue of people thinking him just759 and it will become unclear whether it is for the sake of justice or for the prospect of the rewards and honors that he was760 that way.761 We must strip him naked, rather, of everything but his justice,762 and portray him in circumstances wholly the opposite of the first one’s. Just so, although he has done not a whit of wrong, give him the biggest reputation for injustice so that the justness might be put to ordeal and test763 as to its strength to resist moderation764 by a bad reputation and what it can do.765 Instead let him stay the course, his character unchanging to end, and live his entire life unjust by reputation and seeming but just in reality and truth. Let the two of them reach their respective extremes,766 the one of justice and the other of injustice, so that they might be judged side by side as to which is the more happy.”767
Socrates intervenes (361D4-6) to express consternation at the tenacious vigor768 with which Glaucon polishes off the statues of the two, standing complete before us for us to choose between. He acknowledges that he is trying as hard as he can769 and continues: “What sort of lives await the two of them is not hard to infer,770 and so I will. At the very likely risk that the account will seem somewhat crass771 I want to remind you, Socrates, that it is not I who say all this but those who praise injustice over justice. Here is what they will say, that the just man cutting such a figure as (362) this will be whipped and will be scourged; he’ll be tied up and have his eyes burned out of their sockets and for a coup de grace 772he will be impaled,773 and he will be smartened up so as to aim at appearing rather than being just.774 In very truth, they will say, that line from Aeschylus is more775 appropriate for the unjust man, who in pursuing a kind of action that latches onto the truth and reality of things rather than giving his life over to appearances, does prefer the reality to the appearance—of injustice that is,
“Plowing a deeper furrow with his witsWhence his goodly plots burgeon forth to fruition—”
first, his plot that ruling the city will go to the man who is believed to be just, as well as marriage into any family he wishes,776 and to enter contracts and enter partnerships with whomever he wants, and on all these fronts to be benefitted by exploiting his ability to commit injustice without hesitation. In any contest you can be sure he will come out on top, in private cases and in public ones,777 and will get the better of his enemies, from which will come wealth and the ability to grant favors to his friends and to do harm to his enemies, as well as sacrifices and votive offerings to the gods, ample and showy, that he will subvene for sacrifices and donate to temples.778 In the end he will be tending to the gods better than the just man does, as well as to the fellow men that he chooses to, so that to be god-beloved would more plausibly be his lot than the just man’s. And so, as they claim, Socrates, in the view of the gods and in the view of men life is better779 turned out for the unjust man than the just.”
Socrates reverts to narrative. When Glaucon was done he was ready to make a reply,780 but no: his brother Adeimantus intervened, “I don’t presume you somehow think the case for their position has been completed: what needs most to be said has still been left out.”
'Let brother help brother,' as they say.781 Still, what your brother has said has already pinned me to the mat and rendered me useless for rescuing justice.
“Baloney.782 Add the following to what you have to wrestle with. We have to include also783 the arguments that oppose these that Glaucon has made, which praise justice and censure injustice, in order to make it clearer just what Glaucon wants from you. Fathers, you surely know, encourage their sons, and all caretakers encourage their respective wards, (363) that they ought to be just, and do so not by praising justice considered in and of itself but rather the rewards of reputation784 that come from justice.785 Their purpose is that their sons by seeming to be just should accrue, from the very seeming, such awards as Glaucon just went through – offices and marriage and the rest – since they belong to the just man because of the good reputation he enjoys.786 Indeed they widen the ambit787 of the case for reputation by including honorific awards bestowed on men by the gods, a bounty of goods that the gods bestow on the pious,788 as our worthy poets Hesiod and Homer, the one how the gods make a just man’s “oak tree full of acorns at the top and bees in the middle, and make their sheep heavy laden with wool” and lots of other such goods,789 and Homer likewise:790
“Yea, as of a king that is blameless who in reverenceKeeps to the rule of good justice, the black earth bears himBarley and wheat, his trees become heavy with fruit,His sheep bear lambs and the sea provides him with fish.”
Musaeus and his son have added a novel line of goods coming from the gods to men. They lead791 the virtuous down to Hades, provide them couches and outfit a whole party for the pious, with crowns all around and drinking ‘til the end of time. Leave it to them to think it obvious792 that the best payoff for being just is eternal inebriation! Other poets press this theme of rewards from the gods still further, how there will be children and children’s children to survive the man who is pious and keeps his oaths. These are the sorts of terms in which they make their praise of justice. When it comes to the impious and the unjust they stick them into that mud in Hades or they make them carry water in a sieve there, and while they are still living793 they lead their characters into lives of ill repute. They include in their tales of the unjust those very same punishments that Glaucon went through in connection with the truly just but seeming unjust, having nothing else to add.794 So much for the praise and blame of the one and the other.”
Clearly Adeimantus finds praise of justice and the dispraise of injustice that fathers offer their sons to be insipid and inadequate, showing indeed no more inspiration than those who argue the opposite; but he has more to burden (364) Socrates with, “another type of arguments795 one finds in plain speech and from the poets, too.796 Everyone797 avers as if with one voice798 that self-control and justice799 are without question800 fine (though mind you harsh and toilsome),801 whereas802 their opposites are pleasant and ready to hand, with opinion only and convention calling them vile.803 More profitable, too, is unjust behavior than just, in most cases, as they go on to say.804 Knaves that become rich and acquire power805 they count happy and are willing to honor them without scruple, both among themselves and in public venues,806 while the others807 they dishonor and ignore, finding a way to view them as808 basically weak and poor though of course they would grant that they are better people than their counterparts. The most amazing part of these arguments809 is what is said810 about the gods and virtue,811 that the very gods812 in many cases813 have sent misfortunes and a bad life814 down upon the good and the opposite to their opposites.815 There816 are mendicant priests and seers that gain the ear of the rich and persuade them that they can channel powers from the gods, and can use sacrifices and incantations, in case there’s been some kind of misdeed,817 whether his own or his children’s, so as to make it good with a ceremony of pleasing feasts;818 not to mention that in case he wants to bring a little819 trouble down on his enemy’s head (just or unjust, no questions asked), for a small fee he could do some real harm by means of the special820 inducing incantations and constraining spells they have for persuading the gods to serve their wishes.821
“They are able to cite the poets as witnesses822 for all these points, some citing them on the topic of baseness, in order to facilitate823 being bad,
Saying,824 “Evil a man can find in plenty, easy for the taking.The path to it is smooth and near, while on virtue’s pathThe gods have placed sweat at the very start,”825
a path good and long and rough and steep, if you will.826 Others827 call on them as witnesses that gods can be diverted828 from their ways by men, they cite Homer himself, how he said,
“... to prayers even the gods hearken,And by sacrifices and soothing vowsWith incense and libation they are turned by humanPrayers, when one has gone beyond the bounds and sinned.”829
And830 they can produce book after book by Musaeus and Orpheus, children of the Moon and the Muses as they claim. They use them as manuals for their rituals and they get not just individuals but whole cities to believe that there are ways to release them and cleanse them of their wrongdoings through sacrifices and pleasing games for (365) clients that are still alive, and that there are ways that work even for the defunct also (which they call functions831) that absolve those in the world beyond from the evils832 they face there, whereas if they don’t perform the sacrifices those worrisome evils still lie in wait.833
“Given this sample, friend Socrates, of things that are said about virtue and vice and the kind of respect men have for them and the gods have, too, consider what sense the souls834 of the young men who have strong natural gifts and are able to connect the dots835 might make of it all as they ponder what one836 should be like and how one should make his way through life. He would argue, in all probability,837 quoting that line from Pindar: 'Shall it be by justice that I ascend the heights or by the devious ways of deception,' and to live out my life protected from all comers?838 From everything I have heard, to be truly just, unless in addition I seem to be,839 is nothing to the good but only toil and likely onus; to be unjust but careful to achieve a reputation as just, their story gives me a life like a god’s.840 So then, as the wise assure me that appearance and show can defeat even truth841 and that these hold the key to happiness, onto this path must I turn with all my strength.842 Let me build a proud front and wrap myself around with a show of justice before me, but keep in tow behind me that crafty crooked fox of Archilochus the wise.843 Someone844 might object, 'It’s hard to fool all the people all the time.' Yes, I’d say, ease never garnered the greater goods.845 We846 must buck up if we are to achieve happiness, and cling to reason.847 Reason bids us848 to mount an assault against being caught by building up cabals and associations;849 next850 there are the teachers of persuasion we can hire to provide us with skills oratorical and forensic. From these sources we’ll be equipped to persuade our way through some troubles and force our way through others,851 and come off far ahead in the end852 and scot-free. 'But853 the gods you can’t persuade nor can you force them.' But can’t I say in response854 that first of all, if they don’t exist or don’t care855 about human affairs, why should we for our part care856 about eluding them? Alternatively, if they do exist and do care about us, let me remind you857 that our only evidence858 that they do is from the arguments we are reviewing859 and from our poets who sing the genealogies,860 but these very sources tell us also that by means of sacrifices, and by those 'soothing vows' of Homer,861 and by setting up offerings862 to them, they are amenable to being reoriented863 in their outlook and persuaded to think otherwise.864 You must believe those sources in both or believe them in neither.865 Take it866 that we are to believe: then we must commit injustice and make a sacrifice paid for out of the proceeds. After all, if we are to be just we will only have not being punished by the gods867 to look forward to, at the expense (366) of forgoing the proceeds of injustice; but if we are unjust we’ll not only secure the lucre but also, by making our prayers as persons who have ‘o’erstepped the bounds and sinned,’ 868and softening their resolve, we will get off without having to pay a sou.869 'But you’ve forgotten870 how we pay the penalty in Hades for the evils we do here above, whether ourselves or our871 children’s children.' 'But my friend,' he shall reply872 from his enlightened economical point of view,873 'for that in turn I can adduce874 the power and efficacy of the telestic rituals and the releasing gods that the greatest cities extol as do those children of the gods that have become their poets and prophets,875 who876 have laid this information for us.’ What argument could still be made, then,877 by which we would choose justice over a life of great injustice,878 the which879 if only we garner it while maintaining a false gracefulness we shall be pulling off something quite intelligent,880 both in respect to gods and to men, in this life and in the life beyond, in accordance with the argument that is being made by everybody who’s anybody?881
Given all that has been said, what device is left, Socrates,882 for a person to be willing to honor883 justice, assuming he has any power884 at all, whether of soul or of wealth or body or family,885 rather than laughing in ridicule886 when he hears it praised? In fact if someone is able to show what we have said887 is false and conversely possesses solid knowledge that justice is the best thing, he presumably has888 great sympathy for those who are unjust and feels little anger toward them, knowing instead that unless a person is held back from injustice by some aversion in his nature given him by a god, or else by having learned what he knows,889 that otherwise nobody acts justly because he wants to but rather that he condemns injustice out of cowardice or old age or some other weakness that makes him unable to do the deed himself. The proof is simple: as soon as one of these types acquires some ability he abuses890 it to whatever extent he can. And all that I have said stems from the basic claim that incited my brother here and me to put this argument before you, Socrates, namely: ‘My wonderful man, all of you as many as claim to be advocates of the just life,891 going back to the heroes of lore and reaching down to the men of our time, not a one has ever yet condemned injustice nor praised justice other than892 to praise and blame the reputation and honor and the wealth they may or may not confer.893 As for what each of them is in itself and in contrast with the other is able, given its own nature894 to do, by virtue of being present in the soul of the person who possesses it regardless895 whether gods or men notice, nobody yet in verse or in plain speech896 has adequately mounted an account proving that the one is the greatest of the evils by which a soul that has them can be afflicted, whereas justice897 is the greatest good. After all if this case were being made all (367) along from the start by all of you and you were persuading us of it from youth on,898 we would not be guarding against each other doing injustice, but each of us would already be the best guard against himself accepting the greatest of evils into his very home899 by living unjustly.’
“This much and more a Thrasymachus could say or another man like him,900 Socrates, on the merits of justice and injustice,901 perverting their true characters into their opposites,902 a thing most slovenly as it seems to me. For my own part, I have impersonated their position (I have no need903 to hide it from you) and have gone full out904 in doing it because I desire to hear905 the opposite position from you. So don’t just make out for us how justice is more effective906 than injustice but tell us what direct effect they have by their very nature907 on the man that has them inside him, on the basis of which the one is therefore good and the other bad. Leave altogether out of account the reputations for being just or unjust and their effects, as Glaucon insisted. If you don’t leave out the reputations that are deserved and true and908 add the reputations that are false and undeserved we will assert that you are not praising being just but only seeming just, and not censuring being unjust but only seeming to be unjust, and that in doing so you are encouraging909 us to find a way to be unjust without getting caught, and that you agree with Thrasymachus910 that justice is merely somebody else’s good and the advantage of the stronger, and that injustice is beneficial to oneself and unprofitable and disadvantageous only to the weaker. Since after all you granted that justice falls into the category of the greatest goods,911 the ones worth acquiring for the effects they bring about but even more912 for what they bring about in and of themselves913 such as seeing, hearing, being aware and being healthy, too,914 and any other goods that generate good effects915 by their inner nature rather than by the power of reputation,916 so now917 you must praise this aspect of justice, namely, how918 justice in and through its own nature profits a man, and how injustice does him harm. As for the payoffs919 and the opinions, leave them for others to praise.920 I would allow921 others to praise justice and censure injustice in these terms, namely, praise and censure of their reputations and rewards, but I would not stand for it from you—unless of course you should tell me I must922—you who all your life have done nothing but try to understand exactly this.923 Therefore do not show only that justice is more powerful than injustice, but also what each one does to the man that has them in him, the direct effect they have by their own natures whether the man deceives or doesn’t deceive the men around him and the gods, and how the effect of the one is good and the other bad.924
Thrasymachus had enacted an outlook, if you will, until the Socratic elenchus had deprived his role-playing of all credibility. Now Glaucon and Adeimantus attempt to spell out the “mindset” his behavior seems to have embodied, or aroused in them. Their speeches have both personal psychological significance and public political significance.
On the personal level, Glaucon is not satisfied with Thrasymachus’s acquiescence, because he still feels the power of the ideas to which Thrasymachus had been giving voice. He knows their power because he is somehow unable to resist them. His strength and directness at confronting the truth of this power rather than repeating it and passing it on to his neighbor with forceful blustering, as Thrasymachus did, constitutes the bravery for which Socrates praises him. He also believes that the “Socratic treatment” will heal him, and he invokes the Socratic treatment through his imitation of Socratic exhortation. In truth it is not an exhortation but a plea that he addresses to his teacher, a plea to give him the reply he feels, or fears, he cannot himself make.
His presentation of the position of which he wishes to be disabused is therefore tantamount to a confession. The sinner while he sins is under the power of the sin, and his behavior, like the behavior of Thrasymachus in Book One, is the spokesman for the sin. When he confesses his sin he becomes the spokesman for himself. His confession describes the sin. By revealing the sin for what it is he begins to deprive it of its power by disengaging it from the medium through which it operates, namely, his self. Both the brothers confess, or at least reveal, parts of the sinning outlook. How far the confession has taken them is shown by the facts that at the end of Glaucon’s speech he imagines taunting and murdering the good man, and that at the end of his speech Adeimantus performs the vicious attitude with special sophistication in his proposopopeia of the young man defeating himself in argument.
The words Plato places into Adeimantus’s mouth brilliantly characterize the confusion between the confessional and the self-aware elements operating in his mind. Without saying he will, Adeimantus presents his material in three parts equal in length and similar in theme (from men’s arguments about men to the poets’ arguments about gods), the first part a report of the inadequate arguments inculcated in him by those who are supposed to take care of him (362E1-3E4); the second a clever inversion of these arguments that he attributes to strange and nameless persons (363E5-5A3); and the third a conversation within himself in which the clever arguments he imitated win out over the inadequate ones he had been inculcated with (365A4-6B2).
Not all sinners are ready to confess, and not all interlocutors acknowledge being reduced to aporia. Thrasymachus could truculently fall silent instead. It remained for Glaucon and Adeimantus to confess their aporia, and whereas Glaucon gives vent to his feelings, Adeimantus with a complex ambivalence calls upon Socrates for help at the same time that he threatens to hold him responsible for his own confusion. It is this deepening of the issue that Socrates had referred to at the opening of the Book Two when he said that the previous discussion was mere prelude.
The public and political significance of the speeches centers on the point made by Adeimantus that the climate of opinion he and his brother have described affects not only them but also all young men, including young men who do not or will not have Socrates to turn to.925 Unformed young men always have and always will live among less than perfect older men who take it upon themselves, whether as fathers or uncles, out of love and duty and vanity and regret, to guide them into what they see adulthood to be according to their own best lights. Here as elsewhere men’s frailties play a more prominent role than their virtues. The younger see more wrong in their elders than they can see right, and imagine out of inexperience that improvements would not only be readily possible but also have needlessly been forgone. The elders who had once been young had also felt this way, but have since discovered their fathers’ limitations lurking in themselves, and often have reverted, perhaps a little too easily, to their fathers’ ways. They even find themselves willing to lower their sights on behalf of their sons. The discipline required in the young man to accommodate himself to his father’s order (as indeed to any order) hardly suits the moods and energetic rhythms of youth, and his untested desire to improve upon his father’s order might strike an unholy alliance with a less healthy desire to avoid anything that suits himself ill.926 As he begins to mature and begins to realize how very much he owes to the very order he is bent on ameliorating, he may well become impatient with himself and find it more convenient to emulate certain of his father’s peers to whom he owes nothing, though this is only because they have given him nothing, and this in turn only because they do not love him.927 Exactly these dynamics and stages in the transmission of order from the old to the young and from father to son928 is what Adeimantus’s speech describes.929 Public moral culture affects the young, and its agents are parents, cities,930 poets,931 and even the mass of men when they speak in one voice.932 The brothers’ speeches therefore reveal a political problem that is perennial.
Once we recognize the political mechanism of transmission from old to young, we can read the mechanism back into Glaucon’s “Thrasymachean” speech to see how it can work in an individual soul. The world around Gyges to which he can become invisible is the public world in which he is already a partner. He did not discover the power of the ring until the regular monthly meeting of the shepherds, which we may now take to be the analogue to the Athenian citizen’s occasional public duty of serving in the assembly. What made Gyges visible in the first place is his being seen by them; by himself he is neither visible nor invisible. This paradox broaches the sense in which man is by nature a man among men, a political animal.
The thought experiment, therefore, as well as the “theory” of law that precedes it, are only excuses that the inner self makes to itself to escape or to repudiate the reality of the community that the outer self finds itself in.933 Therefore, when Thrasymachus makes this speech in public he is making a public display of repudiating the public world. He is telling the inner conscience of his auditors that society does not exist. He is telling them their true beliefs are invisible. He is fomenting their vanity. To hear this they will of course be required to pay him, and pay him in the coin of the realm. The more of them he can convince the more of them he has ripped off, until perhaps he addicts them all to his seductive doctrine and slavishly they assemble at his feet and call him great and happy.934
There is finally the matter of the philosophical acuity of the speeches. Glaucon’s indignation and conspiracy with the Thrasymachean position has somehow led him to draw, and Adeimantus to continue, a distinction among goods, drawn on behalf of justice, that in itself is profound and unusual. In the end their speeches have articulated the substance underlying Socrates’s inchoate remark at the end of Book One that he has failed to ask what justice is but only asked what sort of thing it is. Their desire to defend justice expresses itself in a critique of doxa. Their ability to imitate both Socrates and the young man connecting the dots shows how things could go either way for them.
The implicit comparison between the brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus and the imaginary youth they wish not to be, and the fact that they are seeking to avoid what they are saying the youth can only be expected to do, given his surroundings, suggests that they have received slightly superior guidance from their elders, and particularly their father, Ariston. On the other hand the fact that the two brothers have resorted to one and the same teacher935 suggests a shared lack of guidance from their father,936 and a shared sense of how to supplement it that in all likelihood they owe to the shared influence of that same father. We are entitled to speculate on the matter because the author of the dialogue is the ever-absent third brother, who moreover has decided to spend his life commemorating the sorts of results he and his brothers might have received from this father’s helper.
It is with their father that Socrates begins his reply to the brothers’ request (367E6ff). As he listened, his admiration for them leaped to a new high937 and he was moved to sing praises to that famous father of theirs938 in the (368) same terms Glaucon’s friend the elegist had done in the opening of his paean to the valiance the two brothers had shown in a battle at Megara:
“Children of Ariston, the godly progeny of a famous man ...”
for only by a divine intervention might they not have been taken in939 by the argument that injustice is better than justice, given how eloquently they spoke in its defense. I do judge you haven’t been taken in, and my evidence is my general940 knowledge of what sort you are.941 Judging only by the arguments you made I’d be unsure. My certainty only puts me more in a jam942 as to what I should do, for I both have no idea how I can come to justice’s aid, since I thought that what I had said to Thrasymachus was enough to prove that justice was better than injustice, but you did not accept that account; while on the other had there’s no way I’ll give up rescuing943 her either. I shudder944 to think how impious it would be for a man945 to show up946 at justice’s side while she is being impugned, but to beg off defending947 her and fail to come to her aid, if still he can draw breath and make his voice heard.948 The best thing949 to do, then, is to come to her aid any way I can, regardless.
Glaucon and the others urged me to help any way I could and not to let the argument go its own way,950 but to track down through careful examination both what the two things are and what the truth is about their respective benefits. I improvised a beginning:
What we are trying to ascertain951 is not easy952 but calls for a person with sharp vision. Since we are hardly clever953 it seems to me (as I put it to them)954 that we ought to proceed as if somebody had assigned the task of reading small letters from a great distance to people who were not particularly sharp sighted, and then somebody remembered955 that the same letters had been written larger somewhere else on a larger surface.956 What a lucky turn of events this would be! You’d be able to discharge the assignment by first reading the larger letters and only then957 reading the smaller letters to check whether they were in fact the same.958
Adeimantus now steps in to accept the proposal but wants to know what larger thing Socrates has in mind, so Socrates continues. There is a justice that characterizes an individual man, and a justice that characterizes a whole polis. A polis is larger than a man. Assuming the analogy holds,959 the justice that characterizes a city would be greater in quantity, given the larger canvas of the polis, and as such would be easier to apprehend.960 So if you are willing, Socrates says, let us first ask the question what sort of thing justice is as it appears in cities,961 and only then make a (369) close inspection962 to find it in the individual man, seeing if we can see in the smaller object of scrutiny the likeness of what we saw in the larger.
This exegesis of his plan completely satisfies Adeimantus,963 which enables Socrates to add a refinement. If we were to imagine in our mind’s eye964 a city developing from scratch, we might just witness its justice and injustice965 developing right along within it; then once having seen that occur966 we would have reason to hope we could more directly967 apprehend our primary investigandum, the justice that occurs in the individual man.
Adeimantus agrees it would be much easier, enabling Socrates to call the question. Shall we do it then? Actually968 to carry out what we have described might turn out to be a rather large undertaking, so think it over. Adeimantus replies, “The thinking’s been thought,969 Socrates. Get on with it!” 970
With this the mental “construction” of the city begins, which will occupy us for about as long as we have been occupied so far.971 By this point in the discussion the ice has been broken in the social sense. The parties have confessed (or at least revealed) their inner feelings, and the pressure of deciding how to begin is off. Moreover, an agenda has been set out, to which the parties have subscribed with substantial unanimity972 and with eagerness, and a burden has been placed on Socrates to perform (in this sense the pressure is on). With a few swift strokes he has shifted the mood. First, he has agreed to lead, not because he agrees he is able to as Glaucon and Adeimantus believe he surely is,973 but because for him, as for anyone else in his position,974 it would be impious to demur.975 Second, rather than step forth to deliver a set oration according to the manner and the specifications of the brothers, he has suggested a rather rickety and ungainly path of inquiry tailored to require no special competence976 in the group, within which he includes himself. The combined effect of these measures is to magnify the importance of truth and to minimize the importance of the persons searching for it, and a fortiori to minimize the differences among them. The pressure is “off” because we are as dust, but it is “on” since we are dust sub specie aeternitatis. Having thus cleared the air977 Socrates can begin.
The978 city comes into existence, I would guess, because of the fact979 that we are not self-sufficient as individuals but need many things.980 This is the initial impetus for settling981 a city. One person will call upon another out of his need for something and the other on another for something else, since they need many others,982 and thus they will gather a plurality of partners and helpers983 into one habitation, for which community we use984 the name polis. The one agrees to exchange what he has with another or to share it,985 thinking it to his advantage to do so.
Recognizing it is our need that brings it into existence let us make up what it looks like. Now the first and greatest need is the need for nutrition, which is a prerequisite to the bare fact of staying alive.986 Second is the need for shelter and third the need for clothing. Our city will suffice to meet these needs with one man a farmer, a builder another, and one a weaver I’d say,987 unless of course988 we add a cobbler or some other provider of bodily needs. Already then we have the absolute minimum of a city, consisting of four or five men. Next, let's ask: Must989 each of them place his own products on deposit for the whole group—the one farmer for instance producing food for four and spending four times the time and labor on the provision of food so as to share it with the others—or should he ignore them990 and produce only (370) one fourth the amount so as to provide for himself only, spending one fourth his time on it and spending the other three fourths occupied with providing himself shelter and a cloak and shoes, so as thereby to avoid991 the complications of communal dealings with others and be rather an island unto himself,992 minding his own business?
“And yet,993 Socrates, one would have to say the way we had it is easy994 in comparison with his way of looking at things.”
His intervention gives Socrates time to notice something else,995 that different people by their very natures are suited to different kinds of action,996 so that the several different tasks are less likely to be done admirably997 if done by one man than if they had been assigned to several men according to their several natures. Moreover, the “right time” for things does not wait for the man: once it passes it is gone forever. The task998 tends not to wait for the leisure of the person tasked with it; instead the person tasked must conform himself to the task and not see his product as a mere by-product999 of his activity. From these arguments,1000 production of the distinct items will be more copious, and of higher quality, and easier to manage – if one person does one thing in accordance with his natural gifts and kisses off1001 the rest.
Given this new principle we will need more than the four, since the farmer will not be making his plow if the plow is to be a proper1002 plow, nor the mattock nor the other tools used in farming. Likewise the builder, and he needs lot of tools, and so with the other two also, the weaver and the cobbler. Woodworkers and brazeners and other such craftsmen will come on as partners and our little city1003 will become a rather crowded1004 place.
“Quite so,” replies Adeimantus.
And it still won’t be so very large1005 if we add cowherds and shepherds and the other herdsmen to provide the farmers with draught animals and the builders also for hauling their materials around, as well as to provide the weavers and the cobblers with leather and hides.1006
“But it won’t be particularly small, either, if it is to have all that.”
And yet no matter where we situate our city we will almost certainly need to import some things, so that they will need others to convey to their city items it needs from another city; and the man who conveys1007 these goods to us will come back empty handed unless we provide goods for him to take with him to trade for what he would bring (371) back, items the other city needs; so that the city will need products enough not only for its own needs but also products that will suit those others, both what they need and the right amounts. Hence we will need more farmers and producers of other products within our city,1008 as well as more of those other functionaries in addition1009 to convey goods back and forth—traders that is. And in case the trading requires sea travel we’ll need a whole lot1010 of other experts having to do with boats and sailing.
As to how they will manage the exchange of goods within the city1011—the problem we mentioned above1012 as the reason we formed a community that ended up constituting a city—this they will achieve by selling and buying, so we’ll need a marketplace as well as a currency. Unless all the people who need food show up at the same moment at which the farmer, for instance, is free to bring his goods to the market, the farmer will have to sit there and allow his duties on the farm to languish.
Adeimantus volunteers a solution with an uncharacteristically long speech.1013 No problem! There are certain people who see the need for shopkeepers and take the initiative to fill it. In the better organized cities it is the people who are physically weak and otherwise unskilled.1014 Their job is just to sit there in the marketplace and exchange silver for goods with those who need to divest themselves of something and exchange goods for silver with those who need to buy something.
Socrates rejoins, “So this is the need that brings retailers, so called, into being in the city,” and thus he resumes the lead in the conversation. We distinguish between the buyers and sellers who do the job of1015 staying put in the market place and the itinerant retailers who go from city to city, whom we call traders.1016 And there are still other workers who have little of mental virtue for us to enjoy as their partners, but who make a worthy1017 contribution by their bodily strength. It’s because they sell their needful strength for “hire,” as they call it in their case,1018 that they have come to be called “hirelings,” I guess.1019 To make it complete then our City even has hirelings.1020
The City has grown to completion so now we can ask ourselves, Where is its justice and injustice? With which constituent we encountered in our investigation did it arrive?1021 Adeimantus for his part1022 is not sure, unless it (372) consists in the need the constituent members as such1023 have for one another.1024 Socrates hears more despair in his answer than conviction and encourages him. “You might be right but let’s press our inquiry further. We have equipped them; now let us follow their daily regimen.”1025
They’ll pass their days making their food and wine and their cloaks and shoes,1026 and in the building of their houses we’ll find them working shirtless and unshod on the whole during the heat of summer, but well suited1027 with clothes and shoes during the cold of winter.1028 Their nourishment they will take by making meal of their barley and flour of their wheat, and by baking the one and kneading the other they will produce glorious1029 puddings and loaves1030 and lay them out on a mat of reeds or washed leaves, and get down and stretch themselves out1031 for their meal on ground covered with1032 a spread of bryony and myrtle. Such is the feast they will enjoy1033 with their children at their side, sipping a little wine, rustically wreathed and singing their hymns of thanks to the gods. Sweetly they will lie together and make children but only within their means, to avoid penury and war.”1034
The description of the daily life is idyllic in both the literal and what will become the literary sense. Their regimen is inherently rustic and simple, but Socrates goes out of his way to give it an idyllic description, too.1035 His vignette does not describe their dealings with other men, even though it is in these relations that Adeimantus had suspected justice and injustice were to be found. In fact Socrates mentions only that first round of citizens whose job was to fulfill the primary needs, not the διάκονοι nor the μισθωτοί. He places them at their basic tasks of farming and making clothes and shoes, providing thereby for the first and third basic needs, and then he makes his way to their fulfilling the second by imagining how they are clothed when they build their houses.1036 The protection they need from clothes and shoes while working all day in the winter, and the exhausting heat of the summer that makes clothes and shoes more trouble than they are worth, then gives him a segue to following them as they return home for dinner and the evening’s rest at the end of the day. They have “run into” nobody. At home the preparation and presentation of their food is described with striking detail by a continuation of the series of doublets: barley and wheat, meal and flour, baking and kneading, puddings and loaves, serving the food on reed mats or on washed leaves, the spreads strewn with bryony and myrtle, themselves and their children, they are crowned and signing, they avoid poverty and war.1037 The presence of so many pairs is remarkably unobtrusive but their cumulative effect is strong. The pairs describe a life of variety without excess, choice without the embarrassment of riches, and regularity without tedium. If the people’s1038 whole life lacks bulk it is not because any of its parts is jejune.
Glaucon interrupts:1039 “You1040 depict the men1041 ‘feasting’ but there’s nothing on their bread!”1042 Socrates accepts the criticism as a correctible oversight, or feigns to: “You’re right, I forgot. They will have something for their bread, too—salt, obviously, and olives and cheese, and leeks and cabbages too, the sorts of things people boil in the country1043 they will boil.1044 Also we will be serving1045 them side dishes of figs and chickpeas and beans, and they’ll be roasting1046 myrtle berries and acorns by the fire and washing it all down with a little wine. So will they live the days of their lives, in peace and good health with any luck,1047 and die at a ripe old age passing on a similar life to their sons.”
Glaucon steps up his tone from satiric to sarcastic: “If it were for pigs you were outfitting a city, Socrates, what else than this would you put in the trough1048 for them?” This rips it. Socrates cannot continue in the same vein but says, “Just what would you have, Glaucon?”1049
Glaucon’s answer is abrupt at the same time that it is evasive: “Just the customary.”1050 Then he tacks on1051 a list: “To ‘get down’ as you put it on couches if they are to have any rest at all,1052 and to dine off tables, and just1053 the garnishes that current people have, as well as the side dishes.”
“Aha! Now I get it,” Socrates says.1054 It’s not a city whose evolution we are trying to construct, but a finicky1055 city.” Maybe that’s better. Looking for a city of this kind1056 might enable us to witness how justice and injustice are sown into a city.1057 The city we’ve already constructed seems the true city to me, the healthy city if I may use the metaphor.1058 But if you all1059 want to, we will start again and investigate the fevered type1060 of city. It seems the present provisions will (373) not satisfy some of you, particularly the daily regimen. Couches will be needed in addition, and tables, and the other furniture, and those condiments you asked for,1061 and body oils and perfumes and courtesans and all the most exotic types1062 of these things, and we can no longer posit that the items we just listed constitute the basic necessities, namely houses and cloaks and shoes, but we’ll have to initiate the manufacture of portraits and decorations and we’ll have to acquire gold and ivory and all that.1063
Glaucon quietly agrees, and Socrates continues with the new task. We will have to make the city still larger; the healthy one is no longer adequate.1064 Now we’ll need to fill it to the brim both in bulk and numbers with things that before were less than necessary. For instance, all the different kinds of hunters and the imitators, too, a good number of those who deal in the visual arts1065 and a good number of those who deal in the province of the muses1066—poets and their underlings: rhapsodes, actors, chorus leaders, jobbers, craftsmen for the manufacture of all sorts of gear,1067 down to cosmetics for the women.1068 And besides1069 we’ll need more of those unskilled types, wouldn’t you say, like tutors, wet nurses, feeders, hairdressers, barbers, and also condiment makers and butchers and you know what else? Swineherds! We didn’t have this1070 in our first city since we had no need for them, but in this one we’ll have a new need1071 for this, too, and we’ll need every other kind of fatted animals that people will be eating.1072
Glaucon takes all this in stride1073 and Socrates continues. “Won’t we have a greater need for doctors than before if we live by this regimen instead of that?1074 And the region we inhabit: it was adequate to support the people before but now it will go from being adequate to being small.1075 We’ll need to annex some land from our neighbors if we’re to have enough for farming and grazing; but so will they, in turn, if they for their part1076 give themselves over to the unbounded acquisition of wealth and overstep1077 the limits of necessity. This can lead only to war. Before we decide whether war does or doesn’t achieve anything worthwhile let’s note that we have now found where it comes from after all,1078 namely from the thing that more than anything else brings the evils that come to cities, afflicting both private and public (374) life, whenever it rears its ugly head.1079 A still larger city will be needed, larger not by a small amount but by a whole army, which will venture forth on behalf of all we have and are, and what we have lately added,1080 and defending against invaders for the sake of the possessions we have now added at home.1081
As Socrates becomes more and more animated Glaucon has more and more complacently accepted the additions to the city that Socrates blames him for causing. Finally he hazards a mild1082 objection: “What? Won’t the citizens be adequate to this task just as they are?”1083
Socrates responds to Glaucon’s shift by adding a recriminatory edge:1084 “No way, if you along with the rest of us were right in the agreement we reached in the course of molding our city. We did agree after all,1085 if you remember, that it is impossible for one man to perform many arts well.
“True, we did.”
So, do you think the contests of war do not require the competence1086 of an art?
“Quite so.”
Does the art of competent shoemaking deserve more concern than the art of competent war?
“No way!”
So how1087 on the one hand could we1088 forbid the shoemaker from trying to be a farmer at the same time and from being a weaver or a builder but allow him only to be a shoemaker, with the purpose of ensuring that the work of the art competent at shoes1089 comes out well, and similarly with the others, in general assign one job to one distinct man, the job that his inborn nature best suited him for1090 and in connection with which we meant him to dismiss the other pursuits and every day of his life work just at it1091 and avoid missing the needs of the moment, and therefore to achieve a fine product and outcome,1092 whereas when it comes to matters of war is there any question whether it is of the utmost importance that such be achieved well? Or is war such an easy matter that a person who farms will be competent at military things also1093 as will a person who makes shoes, and anybody else who works at any other art, although at the same time the world has never known1094 a person competent at checkers or competent at dice,1095 who hasn’t been at it since he was a child but treats it only as a hobby. No, the moment he grabs1096 a shield or some other weapon or tool of the military art,1097 right then and there he’ll be a “sufficient” combatant to use your term,1098 whether for a battle requiring the competence of the hoplite or any other kind, while at the same time there is no other tool that can turn a man into an able craftsman or an athlete by being picked up,1099 nor is even useful to him if1100 he hasn’t acquired the science of the particular field and hasn’t devoted the requisite time to practicing it.
Socrates disencumbers himself of three consecutive a fortiori arguments1101 to the effect that specialization is at least as important in war as in the crafts, that practice is required to achieve competence in this art at least as much as in the game of dice, and that the tools of this art are just as useless to a man who lacks knowledge how to use them as anywhere else. The biting tone of these essentially sarcastic arguments adds to the vehemence with which he had above characterized the uncontrollable growth of the city. Both had been brought on by Glaucon's concupiscence.
Glaucon indicates that he agrees with the whole mass of the argument by stating his agreement with the last part.1102 His agreement is more than mere acquiescence. With his brevity he shows a measure of contrition, recognizing that his guess they would be sufficient required something like magic to come true: “Such tools would be worth quite a lot!” They have achieved a truce, and Socrates shifts from criticism and satire to constructive proposal.1103
To the extent it is true that the job of the guards1104 is the greatest job, to that extent it needs the fullest release from all from the other jobs and instead1105 the greatest amount of art and practice of its own,1106 as well as an inborn nature that is able to develop such an ability.1107 In that case our1108 job would be to select the natures whose qualities1109 are suited to guarding the city, if we are able.
“Ours indeed,” Glaucon replies. They have gotten themselves back onto the same page, and Socrates adds his (375) characteristic reminder that the task might be beyond them, but still they must not shrink from it.1110
The trouble introduced by Glaucon’s impatience with the plain city will be resolved by the search for guards, in two senses. The very reversion to joint search immediately relieves the tension between Socrates and Glaucon and turns their conversation back into a joint search, and if the object of the search is found then the order of the “feverish” city will come into focus and the search for justice and injustice within it can take place. At a similar juncture Socrates had offered the novel suggestion of looking for justice on a larger canvas. This time he begins with a riddle: “Do you think there’s much difference in nature between the noble hound and the son of a noble?”1111 Glaucon has no idea what he means,1112 so Socrates has bought himself an opportunity to explain.
Both the well bred youth and the worthy dog need to have sharp senses, and as they sight their prey to be quick at pursuing it, and then once they have caught it to be strong at battling it into submission.1113 The battling moreover will require bravery, and to be brave belongs to a nature that is spirited, whether we are speaking of a horse or a dog or any other animal whatsoever. The will is an unconquerable and invincible thing, and when it is present in a soul the soul is fearless and imperturbable.1114 These then are the basic requirements in body (senses, quickness and strength) and soul (willfulness) that are needed in our guards.
Given such natures they are likely to be violent to each other and to the citizens, besides.1115 We need them instead to be gentle and tame1116 to their fellows1117 and to treat their enemies harshly. Otherwise they won’t be around long enough to worry about others defeating them but will have done the deed to themselves. We need to find the character1118 that combines the gentle and the high spirited, whereas the gentle nature would seem to be the very opposite of the high spirited nature. On the other hand our guards cannot be deprived of either and still be good guards. It looks like we’re asking for the impossible, and that good guards will never exist.
Socrates reverts to narrative for the first time in quite a while, to tell us that he sat there puzzled, going over what had been said up to this point, and then remarked, “But of course we’re puzzled, my friend! After all, we were left in the lurch by our original image.” Glaucon of course does not know what he is talking about. “We failed to keep in mind that there do exist natures that we thought impossible, that do combine these opposite attributes.”
“And where are they to be found,1119 pray tell?”
“Well you could see it in various1120 animals, but not the least in the very one we brought up in our analogy about the guard. You must know this about the better dogs,1121 that they have just this character in their nature.1122 Toward the people they are used to and familiar with1123 they are just as gentle as you could wish, but toward those they do not know quite the opposite.”
The instance refutes the impossibility and shows that their conception of the guard is not contrary to nature1124 after all. But now Socrates begs Glaucon to grant him a little more.1125 In addition to being high spirited the person we will have as our guard needs to have a philosophical nature as well.1126 Glaucon hardly understands what this can mean so Socrates (376) illustrates his meaning with an elaboration of the analogy with the dog: Believe it or not this too is found in the dog, beast that he is. At the sight of an unknown man he becomes irritated even though he has not been abused by him, but when he sees somebody he knows he feels joy even before he has been given a treat.1127 Glaucon had never focussed1128 on these facts but now that he thinks of it he agrees, and Socrates adds a refinement. The feeling or emotion with which their nature equips them has a subtle aspect that particularly deserves to be called “philosophical” in a literal sense.1129 They feel a distinction between friend and foe at first sight, solely because they recognize the one and don’t recognize the other. To find oneself distinguishing what is one’s own from what is alien on the basis that one understands the former and fails to understand the latter is the very essence of being a lover of what one knows, a lover of learning, and yet1130 this is identical to being a lover of wisdom or a “philosopher.” Let’s take heart1131 then and posit that in the human animal also, if he is to be gentle to his own kind and to those known to him1132 he must have a nature that is philosophical or1133 love what he knows.
Our conclusion is that if the man is to be a competent and worthy guard for the city he will be philosophical and spirited, and quick and strong.1134 Glaucon agrees and Socrates can move on.1135 Let this then be the nature he starts out with.1136 How is he to be raised and educated for us?1137 Do you think our investigating the matter on its own merits1138 will help us reach the narrow goal of our entire inquiry—discovering justice and injustice and how they1139 arise in the city—for the pursuit of which goal we should neither pass over anything needful nor include an unnecessary mass of detail.1140
Glaucon’s brother1141 now answered. “I for my part surely expect that this investigation will advance us toward that goal.” Narrowly his response means he would prefer to err on the side of prolixity, but the broader import of his remark is that he wants to join in. Socrates responds, “By Zeus, then, we mustn’t let the question go,1142 even if it might prove1143 to be quite a lengthy one to answer.”
“You can be sure we mustn’t.”1144
Instead let’s go at it in the leisurely manner of the storyteller and tell the story of our men’s education.1145
“So much would only be suitable.”
What would their education be like? Socrates begins. In truth it would be1146 hard for us to improve on the time honored division between gymnastic for the body and music for the soul. Of these two the education in music will of course1147 begin earlier.
“Of course.”
Under the heading of music fall discourses, and under the heading of discourse there are two types, true and false.1148
“Yes.”
(377)And we are to raise them on both kinds, but on the false kind first ...
“I don’t understand how you mean that.”1149
You mean you don’t understand that at the beginning we tell our little children myths?1150 This kind of story is false as a whole, though there are elements in it that are true. In educating our little children we start by telling them tales earlier than we assign them gymnastic exercises,1151 and this is what I meant when I just said that music comes earlier.1152
“And you are right.”
What we do at the very beginning has the strongest influence in any undertaking, especially as concerns anything1153 that is young and therefore tender. It is then that it is most malleable, and then that whatever stamp one wishes to impose on it can sink in,1154 no matter what was there before.1155 Therefore we will not casually allow our children to hear any story made-up1156 by anybody,1157 and take beliefs1158 into their souls mostly1159 opposite to the beliefs we will be wanting them to have once they reach maturity.
“No way should we allow this.”
From the start we’ll have to monitor1160 the storytellers1161 and enlist any fine story they compose but exclude any that is not. Then we will persuade the nurses and the mothers1162 to tell their children those we have enlisted and thereby to mould their souls with stories even more profoundly than they mould their bodies with their hands.1163 Most of the stories the caregivers tell these days will have to be thrown out.1164
“Just what sorts do you mean?”1165
In greater tales we will find also which of the smaller tales need to be expelled. It is the traits of the story that matter, since stories with similar traits, whether large or small, will have similar effects.1166
“I agree with that but really want to know what ‘greater’ tales you mean!”
What Hesiod and Homer1167 used to tell us and the other poets as well, for it is these who have composed false stories for mankind and compose them still.1168
“Which ones? and for what fault you find in them?”1169
The fault that must be condemned first and foremost, especially if one lies poorly.1170
“What is this fault you mention?” 1171
Socrates explains by comparing the poet to a painter: he creates a likeness in words of the gods or the heroes and what they are like, and he might botch the likeness the way an artist does when his drawing resembles not at all1172 the original he wanted to draw.
“Obviously it is correct to find fault in this,1173 but how are we saying the stories have this fault and which stories are we saying have it?”1174
First of all, there is the biggest lie about the most important subjects1175 and the story that told it1176 told it poorly: that Ouranos committed the act1177 alleged in Hesiod and that Kronos his son took revenge on him in turn; 378 and worse,1178 the things Kronos is said to have done to his son and suffered from him,1179 even if they were true, would hardly be things to be recited carelessly1180 to the mindless young.1181 The general1182 policy would that they be suppressed altogether; but even if there were1183 some need to tell them, that as few of our citizens as possible hear them, and hear them in secret and only after they’ve sacrificed not just a pig but something large and hard to come by, so that the experience of hearing them might happen1184 only to the fewest few.
“I certainly agree these stories grate.”1185
And they are not to be told, either,1186 in the city we are building.1187 Nor will we let our young man hear the idea1188 that if he1189 were to commit the most extreme acts of injustice he would be doing nothing out of the ordinary, nor if he punished his father1190 for unjust acts in a most exacting way, but to the contrary that he would just be doing what the greatest and foremost gods do.1191
“He certainly should not by Zeus!” Adeimantus replies, “Even to me they seem unsuitable!”1192
Nor, to be sure,1193 shall we tell them in general that the gods fight wars and foment plots and pitch battles1194 against each other. Besides being false like the rest1195 we surely1196 need those who are to be guarding the city to hold the belief that it is most shameful to fall easily into discord with each other. We hardly need to depict such tales in our embroidery1197 for them to see, about a Battle of the Giants and other such dissension among the gods and heroes1198 and their very relatives and families. If we are to persuade them that citizen never yet fought against citizen and that to do so would be impious, it is this sort of thing, instead, that the children must hear from their grandfathers and grandmothers; and as they grow older they must compel the poets to write stories nearer to such themes as these. As for the bindings of Hera by her son and the hurlings of Hephaestos by his father when he was about to defend his mother, and all the theomachies1199 we find in Homer, these we will not carry over1200 into our city, neither their themes1201 nor the stories themselves. A young person doesn’t distinguish fiction from facts, and everything that he takes into his stable of beliefs as a young person has a way of becoming indelible and unalterable later on.1202 Given all this, in fact, we should probably do everything we can to see to it that the first things they do hear are the best things to hear for becoming virtuous.1203
“That makes good sense,” Adeimantus rejoins, “but what do we say if someone challenges us to say which things have this effect and which are the stories that tell them, which ones could we point to?”
Socrates steps back to remind us he is telling us the story of yesterday’s conversation:1204 “And I said in reply, (379) ‘Adeimantus, you and I aren’t poets. In our present occupation1205 we are founders of a city, and as founders we only need to know the general traits1206 that are to govern the poets’ stories, and if they make stories that go against these guidelines not to abide it. We have no duty to compose stories ourselves.’”1207
“Well then what are the guidelines or traits for stories about the gods1208 that we shall point to?”
I’d say they are about as follows.1209 The god1210 must always be depicted as he truly is, whether in epic or lyric or tragedy. Being god he is good, and so he must be spoken of as such. Now among good things you will find nothing that is harmful, and if not harmful it wreaks no harm and therefore does nothing bad. If it does nothing at all bad then it could not be the cause of anything bad either. And conversely since a good thing is helpful it will be the cause of faring well.1211 Thus the good is not the cause of everything. Only the good outcomes1212 can be attributed to it, whereas it cannot be blamed1213 for the bad. Therefore god, being good, would not be the cause of everything as everybody says, but is the cause of rather little that affects men1214 and is blameless for most. After all, good things are far fewer than the bad for us, and of the good only god is the cause whereas for the bad we must seek out other causes and not god.
Hence we may not condone this1215 error about the gods, whether from Homer or from any other poet, nor such foolish remarks as
“Two are the pots that stand full of fates at the doorstep of Zeus,The one full of good ones and the other of horrid ...”
and that a man for whom Zeus mixes an allotment from both pots
“Such a man meets evil at one moment and good at another,”
whereas the man for whom he prepares a dose of the one pot1216 unmixed,
“Him does an evil hunger drive through his life on the bright earth.”
Nor that, as if he were our steward, Zeus
“... dispenses both good and evil.”
As for breaking one’s oath or violating a treaty as Pandarus endeavored to do,1217 if someone says it was through the agency of Athena or Zeus that it happened we shall not approve it any sooner than approving the story of a strife (380) and division among the gods instigated by Themis and Zeus.1218 Nor shall we let our young hear the story Aeschylus tells, that
“God plants the cause among mortalsWhenever he wishes to bring their house to utter ruin.”
If somebody composes poems in which we find verses that depict the sufferings of Niobe or of the Pelopids or the Trojans or other such disasters we must either forbid them treating these events as being the work of the gods, or if such events are to be the gods’ doing we must have them invent an account that closes on1219 our current theme instead, and tell the story that what the gods were wreaking1220 was just and good, and that the men benefitted from their punishment. The story that people who pay the penalty are pitiful losers1221 and that it was god after all who actually perpetrated the evil deed—these we will not allow the poet to tell. If on the other hand they tell that bad men deserved correction because they were losers, and that in paying the penalty they were benefitted by the gods, that we would allow. As for the idea that god is to blame for an evil that befalls a man even though he is good, this idea we must fight against at every turn, against a person telling it in his own city if his city is to be law loving1222 and against anybody hearing such a story whether he be young or old, whether the story is told in rhyme or prose, since telling such a story is an impious act, and a story that is disadvantageous to us, as well as being at odds with itself.1223
“I vote with you in support of this law,” Adeimantus answers, from the point of view of the citizen Socrates had just referred to:1224 “It is quite satisfactory to me.”
The playful alliteration in his assent gives Socrates his cue formally to adopt this first custom and trait1225 about the gods—that they are responsible not for all that happens but only for the good—and move on to presenting the second trait he1226 has in mind: Shall we imagine that god is a sort of sorcerer and characteristically contrives to make appearances in different forms at different times, sometimes himself actually undergoing change so as to1227 switch out one shape or form for another, while other times deceiving us by creating the appearance that he has done something like this? Or shall we imagine him to be both1228 straightforward1229 and the least likely of all things to (381) depart from his own true form?
Adeimantus finds himself unable to answer and so Socrates asks a question that might help him do so.1230
If something1231 should depart from its own true form, mustn’t it1232 make the transition from the one to the other form either under its own power or else under the power of something else? As for being changed by something else, things that are in optimal condition are least subject to being changed or moved,1233 as we see from the cases of the body being affected by food and drink and exercise, or any plant being affected by hot spells or winds or the other things they undergo: the healthiest and strongest individuals are the least altered. And in the case of the soul the bravest and most mindful1234 one is least subject to outside forces making it anxious and confused1235 and so1236 to alter it. Even1237 in the case of all manufactured equipment and buildings and woven garments,1238 those that were well1239 made in the first place and in this way are in a good condition1240 are least subject to being altered by the passage of time and the other wear and tear they undergo.1241 Thus in general anything1242 that is in a fine state,1243 whether in its nature or due to the craft that made it or both,1244 admits the least degree of change by forces from the outside. God, however,1245 and everything about god, is already in optimal condition;1246 and so in this first1247 way god could not take on1248 many forms.1249
But1250 could he alter1251 himself and change thereby? Does he change himself to a better and finer1252 condition or to a condition worse and uglier than his present one? Given the fact that he lacks nothing in virtue and beauty1253 he could not make himself better, so it must be1254 to the worse.1255 And yet, given this,1256 what god or man would willingly make himself worse in any way whatsoever?1257 Therefore in the case of god as well,1258 he cannot willingly alter himself. Instead, since each god is optimally beautiful and good1259 each in his way,1260 he remains always and honestly1261 in his own proper form.
Let none of our poets therefore tell us that
“... gods change their looks to that of strangers’ garb,And take on all sorts of forms when they visit the cities of men.”
Let nobody tell those lies against Proteus and Thetis, and whether in tragedy or in other poems let nobody bring on Hera completely changed into a priestess gathering alms
“For the life-giving sons of Inachus, the Argive stream,”
nor let us allow anybody to tell all the other lies of this sort.1262
Furthermore we mustn’t let mothers, distracted1263 by such lies as these, try to scare their children with badly made stories about gods that lurk around at night, withal, making themselves resemble all sorts of strangers.1264 This blasphemes the gods at the same time that it makes our children fearful.
By talking about mothers rather than poets Socrates has gone a little past his immediate target. Going too far is often the signal that it is time to get back to the main point, and this he next does by asking about the second limb of the second trait. Granting that the gods do not change themselves, might they make us think that they do by taking on a kaleidoscope of appearances so as to deceive and bewitch us?1265 Adeimantus only sees that this possibility has not been eliminated1266 and Socrates starts an argument to do so, with a question Adeimantus cannot answer:
(382)Would god be willing to deceive either in word or deed,1267 by holding in front of him a false picture to us?
“I do not know.”
You mean you don’t know1268 that when it comes to true falsehood,1269 if you will allow me to use such an expression, this is a thing abhorred1270 by gods and men alike.
The oxymoronic phrase of course leaves Adeimantus in the dark: “How do you mean?” and Socrates has another opportunity to expatiate:1271 I mean it thus, that by the most important of one’s own things to deceive, and about the most important things, is something nobody1272 would knowingly1273 choose. It is fearsome above all to have that stored up there.1274
Adeimantus is still more confused,1275 and so are we. How does deceiving become storing something somewhere? What is this “most important”1276 by which or for which we deceive,1277 and what are the “most importants” that somehow correspond by their paramount importance to it, about which we might deceive? For the moment it is impossible to know what these two “importants” can mean let alone “storing up” and “that” and “there.”
Now Socrates clarifies, after a fashion. You don’t understand because you think I am saying something deep.1278 All I have in mind is that with the soul to lie about what is real and true,1279 and thereby to become deceived1280 so as to be in a state of virtual ignorance, and to have, and be left possessing,1281 nothing but falsehood there, is the last thing anybody would abide, and that they abhor such a thing1282 happening in that part of themselves given its nature.1283 Moreover,1284 this phrase “true falsehood” is just the right term for the ignorance lodged in the soul of the person stuck in deception, seeing that the falsity that occurs in statements1285 is an attempt to imitate something that is happening in the soul, which attempt only later congeals into a fixed image,1286 and as such, though false, is not a falsehood through and through.1287
Now as we said, the real and true1288 falsity is something abhorred not only by gods but by men, too. What about the kind of falseness that occurs in speech and thought? When and for whom1289 is it useful enough not to be abhorred? Presumably in both our dealings against enemies during war and in connection with1290 our so-called1291 friends, as when1292 they are raving or otherwise beside themselves and attempt some horrid act: falsehood may then prove useful in the way a drug may for the sake of averting them. Also in connection with the storytelling we have been talking about: Since we1293 don’t have historical knowledge of the aforetimes, by conforming our fiction to the truth as best as we can, so1294 we can derive some use from what is actually false.
“Very much so,” says Adeimantus, his strong agreement enabling Socrates to ask the next question: Of these ways that the false may be useful,1295 which is useful for the god?1296 Are we to say he needs it to substitute for an account of the past that he lacks out of ignorance?1297
“That would be ridiculous!”
So there is no false poet in god.1298 But could it be out of fearing those whom he hates that he would lie?1299
“Far from it.”
But because of their familiars’ foolishness or raving?1300
“But1301 nobody in the group of fools and madmen is a friend to god.”
Therefore there is no purpose for which god would lie, and we can conclude that in every way1302 the spiritual and divine realm1303 is utterly free1304 of falsehood.
From this it is easy to conclude1305 that god is essentially1306 uniform and true both in action and in speech, and neither changes in himself nor deceives others, not by producing appearances nor in what he says,1307 nor in the messages he sends us1308 whether we are waking or sleeping.1309
(383)Adeimantus asserts he has come to see what Socrates says is true, during the very time of Socrates’s argument,1310 and as before1311 his agreement enables Socrates to announce their adoption of a second τύπος as to how the poets must speak of the gods and depict them in their poems: The gods do not mislead us in word or deed, as if they were sorcerers, by changing themselves at their end or by creating false ideas in us at our end.1312 Despite the fact that we praise and approve much in Homer we will not be praising the story of the dream sent by Zeus to Agamemnon,1313 nor the passage from Aeschylus where Thetis asserts that when Apollo was singing at her wedding he
“... foretold the happy fortunes of my children,Their lives full long unknowing sickness:Throughout the paean he talked good omensOf my divine protected luck, and gave me heart.And I was sure that Phoebus’ divine mouthWas free of lie, teeming with art of prophecy.But he, himself who sang, himself who shared the feast,Himself who made these words, himself in deedIs murderer of my son.”1314
When somebody speaks this way about the gods we’ll treat him harshly and won’t provide him a chorus,1315 nor will we let the teachers use his verses in the education of the young, if we want our guards to come out god-fearing and god-like1316 as much as a man is able to be.
Adeimantus accepts these1317 traits and would adopt them as the laws of his city.1318
END OF BOOK TWO
(386) Socrates continues, confirming the suspicion we gathered from Adeimantus’s last remark, that he was about to move on to a new topic: As for the gods, these are the sorts of things, as it appears from our conversation, that are to be heard and not heard, straight from childhood by persons who are to turn out1319 honoring gods and ancestors as well as1320 not dishonoring their friendship with each other. But what if they are to be brave?1321 Won’t these things too need to be said, namely, what sort of things will make them fear death as little as possible? or do you think somebody can become brave as long has he holds such dread within himself?
“By God I surely do not,” Adeimantus says.
So do you think a person who believes there is a Hades and that what goes on there is fearsome1322 will be free from a fear of death, and in the thick of battle will choose death rather than defeat and enslavement?1323
“No way.”
Then we must oversee those who set about writing these stories too,1324 and prevail upon them not to take the standard line that what goes on in Hades is all bad, but rather to praise it, since in speaking this way they would be1325 saying things neither true nor useful for preparing persons to be eager warriors. Thus we shall erase all such expressions starting with the following passage which I take1326 from epic:
“I’d rather be a serf in the employ of anotherWho rents his field, a man whose life barely yields a living,Than to rule over all these evanescent shades.” 1327
or the fear that
“The homes of the dead should be laid open to men and to gods,Horrible and dank, that even the gods abhor ...” 1328
or
“Woe! Now I see that there is still life to be lived in Hades’s house,And the likeness of us, too, but nothing by way of wits!”1329
or
“He alone has wits among the fluttering phantoms.”1330
and
“Forth from his limbs flew his soul and made its way to HadesWailing over its fate and the vigor and youth it left behind.”1331
(387) or
“But his soul went below ground and was off and goneLike gibbering smoke.” 1332
or
“As bats in some haunted grotto flit about and gibberWhen one of them falls loose from the clusterBy which they hold themselves fast to the rock, So did these souls gibber and fly.” 1333
As for these passages and all the others like them, we will request Homer and the rest of the poets not to gripe and chafe when we cross them out.1334 It’s not because they lack poetry or fail to please the mass of mankind,1335 but that exactly to the extent they are and they do, they mustn’t be heard by the children and men1336 whom we need to be free in the sense of having learned to fear slavery more than death.
Socrates’s selection of passages moves, without intervening commentary, from statements of what Hades is like made by people who are already there, to observations of the dehumanizing enervation even manly men suffer (more exactly, their souls) as they depart to the place that has such a reputation. The enervation is described onomatopoetically in all three of the last examples,1337 which provides the motivation now to move on to the diction used in scary stories. We’ll throw out that entire vocabulary1338 that expresses fear and foments it too1339—the “Cocytuses” and the “Styxes”1340 and the “lurkers below” and the “withered ones”—all these expressions cause nothing but1341 shivers. There may be a use for them somewhere else,1342 but let’s devote our fears to the good of our guards lest the shivering make them overheated and softer in temper than we need them to be.1343 It is the opposite sort of stories we need to tell them and must cause to be produced.1344
Likewise we will strip away the groans and the wails,1345 of men who are notable. Why? Because a decent1346 man will not be shaken at the death of another like himself, while as for himself we will count him especially self-sufficient and therefore far more able to live a good life on his own than others can, so that he will be least affected by the bereavement of a son or a brother or of his possessions or other such things.1347 He will1348 groan and wail the least and maintain instead the greatest calm when such an event overtakes him, and so we are justified in excising1349 (388) the laments of notable men, reserving them instead for women (though even here not serious women1350) and for any man who is base,1351 so that our young men whom we claim after all1352 to be grooming to rule the land will take umbrage at acting the way such men do.
So we have a new set of requests for Homer and the rest of the poets: not to depict Achilles, who is after all the son of a goddess,1353
“Flopping about now on his sides and now his backAnd finally prone,”
and then getting himself upright and
“Plowing the waves of the barren sea, aimless,”
nor grasping “handfuls of powdery dust and pouring them over his head”1354 nor crying out in general and wailing, the way and the amount Homer has him do. Likewise let’s not have Priam,1355 who is also close to the gods in lineage, calling out prayers as he rolls around in a bed of dung,
“Invoking the names of each man, one by one.”
All the more sternly will we demand they not depict the very gods bellyaching and making remarks like
“Woe is me and broken who bore the best to my sorrow!”
—if truly they are gods, at least—nor dare to depict the greatest of the gods in a way so unlike the way he must be as to make him say,
“Ach! Beloved is the man I behold dragged about the town,How wails my heart to see it!”
or
“Oh me! Oh my! My Sarpedon, the man I love the most,Has met his fate at the hand of Patroclus the son of Menoitius!”
Just imagine after all if the young we are raising heard such remarks as these and did not laugh them to scorn as things unworthy for the gods to say!1356 You’d be wasting your time thinking he would deem such behavior beneath himself, a mere man, if once the occasion arose for him to do so. To the contrary he would stick at nothing but let loose a chorus1357 of lamentation at the least discomfort to himself, and every manner of wailing. And yet this is just the way they must not act, as our argument has indicated to us, and we must stick with that argument until a better looking one1358 comes along. Conversely we will not have them laugh at the least provocation, either. A person who gives in easily to laughter is asking for a sudden switch.1359 No, we don’t want to see men being overcome1360 with laughter, much (389) less the very gods, and so we won’t accept Homer’s line,
“Unquenchable was the laughter among the blessed godsAs they beheld Hephaestus bustling1361 down the hall.”
This we will not accept if we keep to your argument, Socrates says, suddenly pointing to Adeimantus.
“Go ahead and make mine it if you will, and let’s say we won’t accept it,” Adeimantus replies, and with this dramatic wrinkle1362 the treatment of bravery1363 comes to a close.
And yet on truth1364 we must spend no less effort, if we were right to say a moment ago that whereas the gods in fact have no use for falsehood men find it useful the way drugs can be useful. After all we allow only doctors to prescribe drugs, not just anybody. So likewise it will be the rulers of the city if anyone that we will rightly allow1365 to lie for the good of the city, whether their purpose involves enemies or citizens, but everybody else will be barred from it. In fact we will count a citizen who lies to our rulers to have committed an error tantamount to and worse than1366 that of a sick person not telling the truth1367 to his doctor or a person in training to his trainer on matters having to do with what’s happening in their bodies, or to the pilot concerning his ship and his sailors not to answer the truth about how one's own work1368 is going or that of one's fellow sailors.1369
Therefore, whenever the ruler catches somebody lying,
“who numbers among the city's helpers,A seer, a healer of ills, or a man who carves timber,”1370
he will chastise1371 him for bringing a disruptive and baleful element into the city just as if he were bringing it on board a ship.
“Baleful it would be, if the false information becomes the basis for action,” says Adeimantus,1372 again marking a transition to a new topic.
What then of temperance? Shall we not need to provide this for our young men? By my lights its chief elements on the whole1373 are that while they of course defer to the real rulers they themselves play the role of rulers over their own pleasures of drink and sex as well as of eating.1374 And so by my lights we will deem well said the sentiment Diomedes says for Homer:
“Friend,1375 pipe down and listen to what I have to say.”
and what comes next,1376
“the Achaeans moved forward with steady resolveAnd silent,1377 fearing their commanders in silence”
and any other passage like these.
“Well indeed.”
And yet what about this:
“Groggy with wine, with eyes like a dog and the heart of a deer”1378
(390) and what follows—would you say they are well written, as well as any other lines where somebody records wise-cracks made by individual citizens against their rulers, whether in prose or verse?
“Not well.”
Yes, such will surely not help toward inculcating temperance in the young. If besides being inappropriate1379 they are pleasing to hear for some reason this is no surprise. Or how do you see this?
“I see it as you do.”
What about depicting the wisest of mankind1380 saying that in his judgment the finest and most beautiful thing of all is when
“at the ready stand tablesfull of bread and meat, and the steward ladles wine from the mixing bowland pours it into the beakers.”
Do you think hearing this helps the young man’s self-control? Or hearing
“To die of hunger is the most piteous and the worst of fates.”
or hearing that one night while all the gods and mankind slept Zeus was wakeful, and how all his plans slipped out of his mind because of his sexual desire, how he was so distracted by it that when he laid eyes on Hera he would not even wait to take her home but just had to have her right there, on the ground even,1381 and how he said he was subdued by desire as he had never been, not even as when they made their first rendezvous, “deceiving our very parents;” or hearing about the binding of Ares and Aphrodite by Hephaestus in punishment for passions of the same ilk.1382
On the other hand stories and plays about the fortitude of worthy men should be both seen1383 and heard, as when he1384
“Beat his breast and vouchsafed a word to his heart:‘Bear up my Heart, betimes you have borne worse than this...’”
We must not allow the men1385 to be the sort that take bribes1386 out of a love of material goods, nor should we hear the poet sing that
“Gifts persuade the gods, gifts the reverend kings;”
and let’s not be praising the advice that Achilles’s tutor Phoenix gave him when he counseled him to fight for the Achaeans only if they gave him gifts, but if they didn’t to persist in his rage. We should not even expect, nor acquiesce in the statement if someone proposes it,1387 that Achilles himself was so fond of possessions as to accept gifts from Agamemnon nor later on to return the corpse only after receiving an honorific gift but was unwilling otherwise.
(391) Adeimantus notes that to praise such behavior would be unjust, and Socrates tops him by venturing to say1388 that Homer’s derogatory depiction of Achilles is an impiety to boot, as the very being persuaded by such a depiction if it he had heard it from others would be,1389 as likewise it would be to believe that Achilles had said to Apollo,
“You harmed me, Far-darter, you most destructive of all the gods.How I would exact my revenge on you if I had the power!”1390
and that he stubbornly opposed the river even though it was a god1391 and was ready to do battle with it. Or take1392 the story about that other river, Spercheius, and the hair that he had pledged to it, and the claim that he said,
“To Patroclus the hero I would give this hair to be his company”
to his corpse that is—and that he carried out this deed:1393 none of this should we believe. Also the draggings of Hector’s corpse around Patroclus’s tomb and the slaughterings1394 of live prisoners over his pyre: all these things we will deny as being false nor allow our men to be persuaded that Achilles, son of a goddess and of Peleus, that man so sound of mind and grandson of Zeus, who was then brought up in the hands of Chiron who was so wise, became nevertheless so fully discombobulated as to exhibit two afflictions simultaneously, and contradictory ones to boot: a slavish greed on the one hand and overweening arrogance toward both gods and men on the other.
Nor while we’re at it shall we believe this, or let them say it, that Theseus the son of Poseidon and Perithous the son of Zeus went on a shocking spree of pillaging, nor that any other son of a god and a hero1395 would bring himself to commit acts so freakish and irreverent as they are now being falsely accused of committing.1396 Instead let’s impose the requirement on the poets either to speak of the deeds as not theirs, considering what these deeds are in themselves,1397 or that these men are not the sons of gods, but not let them have it both ways, and not allow them to try to persuade our youths that the gods bring evil into being1398 and that the heroes are no more noble than men.1399 We have said all along such statements are not pious and we proved they are not true when we showed that for evil to arise from the gods is impossible. But above and beyond this such statements are harmful to their auditors. Anybody will tend to forgive himself even though he is vicious, under the force of being persuaded that, “By gosh this sort of behavior is there to be found and always has been, even among
the offspring of the gods,Close kin to Zeus, for whom on the heights of IdaStands a flaming altar of their great Ancestor—Nor is the blood of the daimons far from them.”1400
(392) That is why such stories must cease,1401 since they will engender in our youth nothing but ease1402 in acting badly.
Is there any other kind of story we need to deal with in determining what may be told and what not? We have dealt with how to talk about the gods1403 as well as about the daemons and heroes and the spirits in Hades. The supplement to all this would be stories about men, but we are not yet equipped to dispose of this issue. In all likelihood we will conclude1404 that the poets and storytellers say the worst things imaginable about men—that unjust men often come out happy1405 and the just ones are losers, that justice is “somebody’s else’s interest” 1406and nothing but a penalty for oneself—and we will be banning such stories as these and requiring them to tell the opposite sort of tale in verse and prose. And yet if you agree that this is what we would say, then I will accuse you of having reached already the answer to the question we set about researching before we began our construction,1407 namely, what justice is in itself and what inner value1408 it has for a man apart from reputation and show. Accordingly, our treatment of the stories to be told is finished.
Socrates now continues with an obscure statement: We must next turn to the manner of the telling,1409 so that what is to be told and how to tell it shall both1410 have been thoroughly covered. Adeimantus picks up on the etymological figure (using “tell” twice) and replies, “Fine, but you’ll have to ‘tell’ me what you mean.”
Socrates immediately finds a way to make his meaning plain. Everything told by storytellers and poets is in fact a narration of events, whether past, present or future. To this Adeimantus agrees since it is exhaustive,1411 and Socrates can continue: The telling uses either pure narration or narration by imitation1412 or both. Even though this second question is also formally exhaustive Adeimantus cannot agree to it without clarification as to its content.
Now that he has bought room to say what he wants to, Socrates dismisses the fitful by-play by commenting on it: As a teacher I’m a comic figure and unclear to boot—so I’ll tell you what I mean as a person less than clever at speaking would, by giving an example1413 rather than trying to articulate it in general. You know1414 the beginning of the Iliad, where the poet has Chryses beg Agamemnon to release his daughter, how Agamemnon treats him harshly, and how he goes away empty handed and prays to Apollo to avenge him against the Achaeans. In the midst of this section (393) the poet himself says
“and he prayed that all the AchaeansAnd especially Agamemnon, the lead shepherd of the people ...”
and says it without trying to divert our attention away from himself as though someone other than he were saying it. But in what follows he speaks as if he himself were Chryses and tries with all his skill to make us think that it is not Homer who is speaking but the priest,1415 with his old man’s way of talking. All the rest of his narrative is composed this same way, about what happened in Ilium and what happened in Ithaca and the entirety of the Odyssey.1416
Given this example, won’t you agree narration is taking place both when one tells speeches and when one tells what comes between speeches, but when one tells the speeches as if he were another person,1417 at that point1418 we will remark that the teller is likening his own manner of speaking1419 as much as he can to the individual whom he has just announced as about to speak.
With this Adeimantus has no problem.1420 “Well,” Socrates goes on, “to liken oneself to another whether in voice or posture1421 is to imitate the person he likens himself to, no?” And Adeimantus agrees with a little impatience: “So what?”1422 It’s in this kind of thing, we can now say,1423 that Homer and the other poets1424 compose their narration “through mimicry.”1425 And Adeimantus agrees roundly and without reservation.
The basic point about mimicry having been made Socrates can now elaborate it so as to reveal its importance to the problem of education.1426 If the poet never hid1427 his true identity he’d come off with a work whose telling1428 was entirely without mimicry. So that you don’t start saying1429 you don’t know what I mean again, let me show you how this could be done. If Homer, after starting out by telling us that Chryses arrived with a ransom for this daughter as a suppliant to the Achaeans and especially to their kings,1430 had not next spoken as if he had become Chryses but had continued as Homer, then the sequel1431 would not have been mimicry but straight narration. It would have gone about as follows—though my illustration will not use meter: I’m not skilled enough at composition for that.
“The priest arrived1432 and prayed, first on behalf of the Greeks that the gods should grant them to sack Troy and be saved, and second that his daughter be released to him in return for the ransom he brought and also out of a respect for the god of whom he was the priest. He said this and although the others were stirred by reverence to concede his request, Agamemnon acted savagely and warned him to leave and never to return, lest the scepter that he had and the god’s chaplet he wore would not suffice him; his daughter would not be released, he said, before she had grown old in his entourage at Argos; and he bid him leave and without making a fuss so that he might (394) make it home safe. When the old man heard this he was stunned and left quietly, but once he got clear of the army he made a great prayer to Apollo, invoking the god’s eponymns and reminding him of his own previous good deeds and asking for a favor back,1433 if ever once he had brought the god joy whether in the building of temples for him or in the rituals of sacrifice: in return for such1434 he begged the god to make the Achaeans pay for what gave him tears, by means of the great one’s shafts.”
That’s what I mean, my friend, by straight narrative free of mimicry!
This is quite a performance, and Adeimantus gets the point,1435so that Socrates can continue. Get this then:1436 you have the exact opposite of this if you strip away the portions between the speeches and are left with nothing but the exchanges.1437 Adeimantus recognizes Socrates is talking about the type of thing you get in tragedies, so that Socrates can announce they have now completely disposed of Adeimantus’s uncertainty what he meant above when he had said there were three kinds of poetry or storytelling,1438 a kind that is done entirely with mimicry, like tragedy and comedy which he has just adduced;1439 a kind that consists entirely of reports from the poet himself,1440 especially to be found in dithyrambs; and the kind we have just mentioned that uses both, which is to be found in the epic but also1441 in many other genres. With this it has become clear what Socrates had meant by his distinction between what is said and how it is said, and now we may move on to asking whether1442 we need to regulate the poet’s use of mimicry and how.1443
Adeimantus now guesses that Socrates is harboring an unstated intention to exclude drama altogether from their city.1444 At the same time that he acknowledges that they might well be on the verge of an outcome no less radical,1445 Socrates disowns any responsibility or unstated intentions of his own by restating the basic principle that has been governing their conversation ever since the construction of the city began (367E-9C), that they must follow the λόγος wherever it may lead just as a sailor resets his sails to follow the changes of the wind.1446 As long as the movement of the logos follows the wind there is no justification for asking the captain where he is steering it nor even to ask him or anybody else where it is going. Following the wind seems to be the eminent way under the force of an intuition that reason is somehow suited to find truth.
Adeimantus’s agreeing with this principle enables Socrates to take the next step.1447 Shall our guards be good at mimicry or not? Or is this just another case of our old principle that a person might be able to practice one skill1448 well, but that if he tries for many he runs the risk of failing to achieve1449 standing in any of them? The principle applies just as well to mimicry, that one and the same man would never be able to mimic many things as well as he could mimic just one.1450
(395) Therefore it goes without saying that1451 if it is something worthwhile1452 that he is practicing he will not have time to create a lot of mimicries and become an accomplished mimic, given how patent1453 it is that one and the same person can’t even compose the two sorts of mimicry that to all appearances are not that different from one another—comedy and tragedy.1454 You were just calling these products of mimicry weren’t you?1455 And likewise that the same person can’t be a good rhapsode and a good actor at the same time, nor even can one and the same actor play comic and tragic roles.1456 All of these are mere mimicry, and yet it seems to me that the natural ability we have as men is of so narrow a compass1457 that we can’t even master more than one of these sub-types of mimicry, let alone1458 mastering the originals1459 that these mimicries are modeled after.
Thus if we are to preserve our initial argument, that our guards will need to surrender pursuing all the other practices1460 and become polished practitioners of freedom1461 for the city and work at nothing that does not contribute to this end, then they mustn’t be doing anything else let alone imitating it. If they must imitate something let it be what is befitting to these1462 right from their very youth on: men brave and temperate, pious, and liberal and the rest of such behavior.1463 Anything lowly and mean let them avoid doing, nor become clever at mimicking that and anything else to be ashamed of, since copying it might make them so themselves.1464 Haven’t you noticed how the mimicry, if they start it young and continue it long, gains a foothold in their character and in their developed selves, in the way they carry themselves and speak, and in their very attitudes?1465 No, we will not allow those we claim to be caring for,1466 the ones we say must become good men, to play the role of females though they are male, neither a young one nor an older, nor a woman griping at her husband or squabbling at the top of her lungs against the gods, strutting how well off she is or engulfed in her crises, her grief, and her lamentations.1467 Nor female slaves shall they play nor male ones either, behaving1468 as slaves do. Nor play1469 base men I dare say, nor feckless ones, acting opposite to the way we have just described, abusing and parodying and berating1470 one another whether under the influence or (396) not, and doing all the other wrongs that this sort of people do in word and deed both to themselves and to others. And I’d guess we won’t be having them habituate themselves at taking off madmen in action or speech,1471 either. To be able to discern a madman is important, or an evil man or woman too, but one mustn’t do what they do nor imitate them.1472 And what about hammering bronze and other jobs, and rowing triremes or calling out the pulls, and all the rest of these sorts of acts—shall they imitate these?
Adeimantus replies: “Nonsense! these activities don’t even require the application of intelligence!” But Socrates continues, giving himself over to the whole experience: How about neighing horses and lowing bulls, the rushing of rivers, the crashing of the sea, and the rumbling thunder—shall we have them imitate these perhaps?1473 And Adeimantus objects: “We’ve already barred them from doing what a madman does as well taking off the type.”
With these easy questions and extenuated satire Socrates has gotten the buy-in he needs from Adeimantus to attribute the whole position to him, so that he can ask him the next question, which happens to be indecipherable: “If I understand you right let me ask you whether there exists a proper style for a gentleman1474 to use when he has to tell something, and conversely another style opposite to this that a person would rely upon and use who was born and bred1475 in a manner opposite to his?”
Adeimantus of course does not know what Socrates is talking about1476 so Socrates has to explain. “Well, I’d say that the moderate1477 man, when he comes to a place in the story that tells what a good man said or did, will be willing to report that man’s words by impersonating him and would not be ashamed of this kind of mimicry especially when he’s to imitate him doing things sound and mindful, though when he’s been struck by a disease or by passions or even inebriation or some bad turn of events1478 besides,1479 he’ll pass over it with less detail and a lighter touch.1480 On the other hand when the story reaches a section1481 that deals with a man1482 who is unworthy of him I’d say he will not be willing to liken himself to someone he recognizes as his1483 inferior with any commitment, unless perhaps briefly1484 and for some ulterior purpose, but will feel ashamed to do so both because he has no practice at emulating1485 men like these and because he will feel annoyance at forcing himself into the mould1486 of baser1487 types. Maybe he could play the part for fun1488 but if he thinks about it at all the game would soon be spoiled1489 for him. Instead he’ll1490 revert to the other kind of narration we described above in reference to Homer; he’ll have the style that partakes of both at his disposal, both mimicry and narrative of the general1491 sort, and the mimicry can play only a small part in the long narrative. Or am I just talking on?
Adeimantus reassures Socrates he’s not just talking on—in fact it’s inevitable that the good man acquit himself of speaking in just this way. Securing such complete agreement allows Socrates then to move to the alternative way (397) of talking that he had asked about in the question Adeimantus had not understood before. The man who is not of this nature and nurture,1492 to the degree that he is a man of lesser stature, will go the opposite direction and choose to narrate everything without discrimination,1493 and think nothing beneath himself, so that he’ll make a concerted run at imitating anything that’s there for the entertainment of as large an audience as he can, including the extremes we happened1494 to mention above, the rumbling thunder and sound the wind makes and the hail and axles make and the block and tackle,1495 and trumpets, flutes, and piccolos—the voices of all the instruments1496—and won’t stop until he’s done also the cries of dogs and sheep and birds.1497 This fellow’s style will be the converse of the other’s: the whole thing will be done with mimicry, in gesture as well as voice,1498 with straight narration kept to a minimum.
These were the two types of style Socrates had mentioned above. What he next makes of the distinction is that the one involves “variations”1499 that are small, so that if someone were to supply it with a harmony and rhythm that suited it, the delivery would tend not to vary the key if a man speaks in the upright manner1500 but keep to a single key,1501 since the variations are small, not to mention keeping to a rhythm that likewise follows suit.1502 The alternate type will need an opposite sort of accompaniment, with all keys and all rhythms, if it is going to be delivered in a manner that follows suit, since the type will have all manner of variations. Now all poets and whoever tells a story will either fix on one these two types of delivery or else they’ll fix on some mixture of the two. Should we admit them all into our city, or should we admit only one of the two or only the mixture?
Adeimantus would vote for admitting only the narrator who imitates the decent man without admixture, so that Socrates can afford to voice the protest that the narrator who comes up with a nice mixture is pleasant, after all, and the narrator that imitates the exact opposite type of the one he chose is most pleasant, not only to the children and to their tutors1503 but also to the greatest proportion of the crowd. Adeimantus grants the objection, unmoved.1504 Socrates proffers him the excuse in case they need it that such a man won’t fit in to our city, and Adeimantus grants it.1505 Among us, Socrates continues, on Adeimantus’s behalf, men aren’t duplex nor multiplex, since each of our men practices one thing. Only in a city like ours will we find the cobbler a cobbler and not a captain in addition, and the farmer a farmer and not a juror in addition, and the soldier a soldier and not a businessman in (398) addition, and so forth. If a man should show up on the scene clever1506 enough to fashion himself into many occupations and able to mimic many things and should bring along his poems to display them to us, we would pay him our respects as an inspired and wondrous man and entertaining,1507 but we’d tell him we don’t have this kind of man in our city and it’s against our ways that one should be let in among us,1508 and we’d1509 send him off to the next city after bedecking him with myrrh and a crown of wool, whereas for ourselves we would provide a place for the more austere and less entertaining poet or storyteller1510 who looks instead to utility,1511 one who would mimic the narrative of a decent man and tell stories that fall within the guidelines we set out from the start when we began working on educating our soldiers.1512
With this reference back to the beginning of the treatment of myths and storytelling Socrates suggests the treatment is complete. The treatment started with the content of the stories (λόγος) and ended with the manner of telling them (λέξις), but this does not represent a theory of literature. Neither Socrates in the present context nor Plato from outside the dialogue has much use for an analysis of poetry into its “essential parts” such as Aristotle will provide in the Poetics. The distinction, as distinctions often do in Plato, provides him and his Socrates with the vehicle by which he can arrive at a new vista. There is not only the distinction between λόγος and λέξις, but also within the treatment of λόγος the distinction between tales of gods and tales of heroes. Of course the gods come first, but Socrates deepens their priority by articulating the theme of a divine truth that is primitive and underived. The method of the passage (379A-383C) is severely logical and abstract, as it must be in establishing such a theme. Such a supra-empirical method assumes that the world man lives in is not of his own making and the result reached by this method is that the world he lives in is governed by good.1513 The next phase of the treatment announces itself as promoting virtue in the young (386A), but happens also to treat heroes, who come next after the gods and whom men should emulate. It is a division among the virtues more than anything else that provides the material and range of this account,1514 but as the judgments to include and exclude stories proceed the tone becomes more certain and shows greater indignation at the misrepresentation of those we increasingly expect to be better than ourselves, and the account arrogates to itself more and more authority to promote worthwhile stories.1515 When the division of virtues that lies behind the review of hero stories is exhausted, Socrates exploits the other list that lies behind and governs the treatment so far, the list that begins with gods and then heroes—the list, that is, that would next include men.1516
To ask which stories depict men acting in ways that our young should imitate seems at first to beg the question of the entire construction (392A10-C4) and so it appears that the evaluation of stories is complete. But then under the guise of treating λέξις rather than λόγος,1517 a topic that is putatively related though Adeimantus does not understand why,1518 the question of which men our young men shall imitate is made to return after all. By the vehicle of analyzing poetic delivery Socrates achieves a transition from the subject of emulation to the adjacent subject of imitation, in order to give place for the young man to imagine himself acting like the people he must not act like as well as those he should act like. The previous lessons on emulation have now instilled in him enough sense of self that he is able to make his choice with conviction. That is, though he does not ask it in so many words, Socrates’s question to Adeimantus about the two men who choose one kind of narration or the other (396B10-C3) is a question that asks him which man he would prefer to imitate, himself. Though the question portrays itself as a question about others, it is directed to Adeimantus, and Adeimantus realizes in the end that it is up to him and adopts the metaphor of casting his vote (397D4-5).1519
The overall purpose of the treatment is to awaken and enliven a conviction in Adeimantus to own the good and refuse the bad. The theoretical distance he is afforded, from which he is determining what will affect another than himself, marginally distances him from his own predilections. The material is then ordered so as to transport him toward this greater goal: one background list is dropped and the other adopted in order to lead to it, and an unprecedented distinction in literary analysis between content and delivery is invented merely to advance it to the final step where Adeimantus is asked to imagine himself acting one way and then the other. Meanwhile, his acceptance of the argument is solicited all along, his agreements are acknowledged at each step, and the points reached are accepted by him as his own.1520 Socrates persuades Adeimantus in the incremental way that poetry persuades, but this “poem” comes in the form of a live conversation.
The argument Plato here places in the mouth of Socrates would naturally scandalize any reader who believes it represents Plato’s own attitude toward literature. The belief, however, is without justification. The content and the purpose of the argument are Socrates’s not Plato’s. It is part of his answer to Adeimantus’s and his brother’s request to help them resist the fashionable immoralism they confessed at the beginning of Book Two they could not refute, including the abuse of literary authority on which this immorality fashionably rests, which was the principal theme of his current interlocutor. Socrates’s argument pertains not to literature but to the teaching of it,1521 and focusses not on the merits of style or fiction but the influence they wield, for better and worse, on persons young enough still to be indelibly affected by them and still too young to know why. Likewise, an amount of attention that seems inordinate in a less oral “reading” age such as our own, is given to the internal and habituative effects of memorizing by heart not only what is said but who says it and how it is said. A fuller critique of literature per se will be added in Book Ten, which will be seen to depend for its meaning upon the development of the argument in the intervening Books.1522
Resumption of the Text (398C1): Music: Song
Although the background list governing this section in the dialogue craves next that the “musical” part of music be treated, namely melody and rhythm, a major subject has been completed and completed with success. The fact is marked not by an interruption of the sequence—we will indeed move on to music—but by Glaucon interrupting and taking over for Adeimantus. Socrates suggests that nobody would fail to see what needs next to be said on these topics,1523 and Glaucon, who had been silent for some time, chimes in with a laugh, “I guess I’m a nobody1524 since I can’t say just what we’d say—though I could make a guess.” Socrates welcomes his intervention warmly1525 and suggests he would agree that we’d say1526 the following, that song is composed of three elements: words, melody and rhythm. With the element of words, at least,1527 we have sufficiently dealt just now: whether the lyrics be sung or spoken they must conform to the guidelines and the manner1528 we have already set out. As for melody and rhythm, it is their nature1529 to follow the words. Now among the λόγοι we have seen no reason to include wailing and complaint. Which are the melodies,1530 then, of threnody?1531 After all, you are the musician.1532
Glaucon is indeed ready with an answer: “The mixo-lydian and mini-lydian and such modes as these.”
Whatever their names they must be removed, Socrates continues, since they are useless even for women who are meant to be decent,1533 not to mention men. And likewise drinking binges are surely most inappropriate to guards and languorousness and lying about:1534 what are the languid and symposiastic modes?1535
“The Ionian and the certain Lydian ones that are dubbed relaxed.”
(399) Do we have any use for these in connection with men who are to go to war?
“No way. And by the way the only modes you1536 seem to have left are the Dorian and the Phrygian,” Glaucon replies.
Socrates accepts and dismisses Glaucon's expertise at the same stroke: I don’t know the modes by name. Just try to leave1537 me one that works for military action by a person who is truly brave or for any other activity one is forced to engage in, a mode that can imitate the utterances and the cadences in which such a person would speak when he fails at his mission or meets injury or death or when some other calamity befalls him,1538 but he keeps at his station through it all and bears up valiantly against failing1539 luck. And leave me another for peacetime activity, for a man not forced to act but acting freely, whether trying to persuade somebody of something or making requests, whether it be a god he approach with prayer or a fellow man with instruction or admonition, or conversely engaged in receiving a request from another, or instruction, or being put upon to change his mind, how he stays cool and pays attention1540 and subsequently acts in accordance with his own best understanding, not overbold but sound of mind and moderate in all his engagements, acquiescing in the way things turn out no matter how they do. These two modes, for the forced and the free, depicting men in the vicissitudes of failure and success, men moderate and men brave1541—the modes that best match the utterances made by such as these, leave only these for me!1542
“These are the only ones left to you anyway,” Glaucon replies, perhaps enjoying his role as keeper of the modes a little too much to be affected by the elevation of Socrates’s sudden eloquence.
Socrates continues: Then we certainly won’t need the polychordic or panharmonic element in our songs and melodies.1543 Likewise we won’t be needing to develop craftsmen to manufacture of polychordic or panharmonic triangulars1544 and plectrums. And will you admit flute-makers and flautists into the city? Or isn’t flute music the most polychordic of all?1545 Isn’t the panharmonic aspect of music what is in fact the special job of the flute to mimic?1546 So all you are left with by way of instruments the city will need is the lyre and the cithara, and perhaps a makeshift pipe for the shepherds to use out in the country?1547 So much would not be too bare and radical a choice—to choose Apollo, that is, and his instruments over Marsyas and his. In fact, by dog,1548 unbeknownst to ourselves we’re fully engaged in purifying1549 our city, the city that just a short while ago was enervated with luxury!
“Rack it up to our temperate ways,” Glaucon now agrees, with a little dig.1550
“So let’s complete the purification.1551 What follows the modes and keys for us is the rhythms, and preventing the pursuit of a needless variety and of all manner of dance steps to go along with them,1552 but choosing which are the rhythms of life moderate or life brave.1553 These once found we’ll require the steps to follow the story of the (400) respective sort of life rather than making up a story of a life that follows the dance and the melody. Once again, as with the modes, I turn to you to specify which rhythms these are.
Glaucon finds himself a little over his head: “By Zeus, I’ve got nothing to say on that topic.1554 I can tell you about the three distinct types of rhythm that weave together to form the various dance steps, just like the four tonic intervals out of which all the modes are composed—so much I’ve witnessed in performance.1555 But as to how one and the next of them have a quality that imitates one or another kind of living and behavior I can’t even begin to say.”1556
Well we can just as well1557 consult Damon on this, both about which steps comport with a slavish manner and which with rashness or madness and with other viciousness,1558 as well as about which rhythms are to be retained for their opposites. For myself I think I have heard him use the terms “enhoplios composite” and “dactyl” and “heroic” too,1559 and classifying them so that the up is equal to the down by means of their becoming short and long,1560 though I couldn’t say how, and again as I seem to remember he was calling one of them iambic and the other trochaic and would attach lengthenings and shortenings. And in some of these types as I remember1561 he would approve and disapprove the dance movements associated with them no less than the rhythms themselves, and sometimes the combination somehow. I can’t really say—but as I was saying we can just as well let this go1562 until we find Damon, since it would be quite a chore for us to set out all these distinctions.
Glaucon certainly thinks such a task beyond himself at least, and Socrates introduces an alternative of his own:1563 Let me suggest instead1564 a distinction that we are capable of making, that well managed dance postures as opposed to the ones that aren’t, correspond to well managed rhythms and rhythms that aren’t,1565 while meanwhile1566 well managed rhythm goes with fine expression (λέξις) and the lack of it with the opposite,1567 as likewise does well managed harmony, if indeed rhythm and harmony go with the story as we have said above rather than the converse.1568
As for the type of λόγος and λέξις, they follow the character of the soul1569 being portrayed, whereas all these other things follow the λέξις.1570 Therefore story well done1571 and harmony well done and dance postures well done and rhythm well done follow εὐήθεια, “character well done” if you will: real “goodness of character,” not the meaning this term is given when it is it used superciliously to describe mindlessness1572 but rather a carefulness of mind1573 that is literally1574 well and beautifully turned out with respect to its character.1575
Glaucon is right with him1576 and Socrates continues in this triumphant vein. It is these qualities of aptness and propriety in their embodiments that our young must pursue everywhere, if they are to be willing to perform their proper task.1577 Glaucon has less trouble than we might in understanding what Socrates is saying, and he immediately (401) agrees.1578 The embodiments are ubiquitous. Painting is full of such elements as are all the other related arts. Full also1579 are weaving and embroidery and housebuilding and all the manufacture of useful things,1580 and also the physical attributes found naturally in bodies and in plants besides.1581 After all good form and the lack of it are present in all these, and while the formless and the graceless and the inharmonious are things1582 akin to a bad story and a bad character,1583 their opposites are akin to the opposite character, the temperate and good, of which they in turn are imitations.
Glaucon assents to all this, recognizing the scrupulous thoroughness of Socrates’s expression,1584 and Socrates goes on. If the good qualities can appear in any product it’s not just poets we must force to instill the likeness of good character1585 into their works and banish them for failing to, but the other craftsmen, too. This element of bad character, licentiousness, slavishness and gracelessness1586 we must manage and check at every turn lest they allow it into their portraiture,1587 their architecture,1588 or into any other manufactured thing. If a man cannot keep them out we won’t let him practice his trade among us. We will not allow our young guards to find themselves in a pasture of bad images, day in day out to browse1589 on them and bit by bit to ingest them from every quarter so as to assemble into one place and set up within their souls1590 a huge and evil thing without even noticing it. Instead, we must search and find that other1591 kind of men who have the noble natural talent1592 to track the essence of beauty and grace,1593 and with the help of such as these produce a healthy ambience within which our young man1594 might dwell and draw benefit from all that is around him, from whatever quarter something might impinge upon his senses for him to see and to hear,1595 an ambience that bathes him with healthy influences imported from noble climes beyond, so that what he fails to notice, and fails from a boy, is how it gently readies him to experience kinship and friendliness and harmony with stories and with thoughts that also are fine.1596
Glaucon praises this latter way of nourishment as by far the finest, so that Socrates can now capture the meaning in a doctrine. We have to conclude that music is the most influential aspect of the young man’s nurture, and so for the following reasons. The thing most able to seep most deeply into his soul is rhythm and harmony, where it achieves a powerful purchase and imports its gracefulness, so as thereby to make the soul a graceful soul, if the nurture is managed properly, and the opposite if not. Moreover when it comes to the things we are leaving behind for being poorly made or poorly spawned,1597 the person with the finest eye will be the one who was raised properly in that finer pasture and with a proper sense of disdain, besides1598 praising whatever is beautiful and greeting it with joy and taking possession of it for his soul so as to feed on such things and thereby himself become a man fine and (402) good, he will meet the ugly with proper calumny and hate it even as a young man, before he’s been able to make reason his own,1599 though once reason arrives he will welcome it as something familiar, as long as his upbringing is on this wise.1600 Aren’t these the reasons music is so powerful?
Let us then consider an analogy.1601 We’ve always thought we have learned to read once the individual letters1602 no longer elude us even though they are small and even though they appear hither and yon1603 in all sorts of words, and once we treat them equally whether they are written large or small (as if things written small didn’t matter!) but instead eagerly approach all instances of writing as needing our careful discrimination of them on the grounds that if we can’t do this we still haven’t learned to read. As to the likenesses of letters,1604 moreover, if they should appear in water or in mirrors1605 we will not be able to distinguish them from one another until we have become able to distinguish the letters themselves of which these are likenesses. Distinguishing the likenesses depends on the same art and practice as distinguishing the letters themselves.1606 Just so, with the help of the gods,1607 we can hardly become competent at music, ourselves or those guards we must educate in music, before the characters of temperance and bravery and liberality and greatness and what is akin to these as well as their opposites1608 become distinguishable to us, as they are found here and there and borne about in many things, and until we are able to perceive them as being present wherever they are, both the characters themselves and the images of them, and think nothing less of their instances because they are small instead of large,1609 but know instead that distinguishing all these cases belongs to one and the same art and practice.
Glaucon accepts the analogy and finds that what it implies for music is logically necessarily, so Socrates can continue: Wherever instances of fine and beautiful characters occur in a person’s soul or in his looks1610 having the same essence as those originals and being harmonious with them by virtue of sharing their distinguishing mark, there you will have a thing most beautiful to behold, if you have the eyes to see it. Since what is most beautiful also1611 incites the greatest love and desire, a man competent in music will love and desire the persons who are most that way, while if a person lacks this harmony of bodily and moral beauty, he will not desire him.1612
“No he would not,” Glaucon answers, “if the person has a deficiency in his soul. A deficiency in body, however, he will tolerate enough to greet him with an embrace and a kiss.”1613 Socrates catches on.1614 Glaucon is alluding to boyfriends of his past or present and reveals a certain fastidiousness about physical contact. Socrates grants him the point so as to move on to a new question.1615
Can sound mindedness have anything in common with extreme pleasure?
“How could it, given the fact that1616 extreme pleasure drives a man out of his mind no less than pain does?”
Can virtue in general have?
(403) “No way.”
But what about with rashness and licentiousness?
“With these extreme pleasure has more in common than with anything.”
Can you name a pleasure more strong or more intense than sex?
“No, nor more maddening.”1617
But is the correct kind of desire and love, the love incited by the well-mannered1618 and fine person, a love that desires harmoniously and musically?
“Quite so.”
Therefore no ingredient of madness should be added1619 to the correct kind of desire, nor anything akin to licentiousness.’1620
“It must not.”
Nor therefore should this kind of pleasure be added. The lover and his beloved should not partake of it if they are to love correctly and be loved correctly.
“Truly by Zeus it must not be added, Socrates.”
Socrates has been careful to secure Glaucon’s agreement at every step, so that he can now hold him responsible for the result, which he presents as a personal challenge to Glaucon: “Will you then set down as a law for the city we are founding that the lover may kiss and be with and touch1621 his beloved as a person would his son,1622 for the sake of beauty and its pursuit and if he has his permission, but for the rest must treat him as a person with whom he has serious business and avoid even the appearance of spending more time with him than such as those would with each other, else he will bear1623 the calumny of being unmusical and lacking culture?”
Glaucon agrees to do so, and this personal coda to the treatment of music comes to a close. Socrates, for one, feels they have finished where they should have, since musical matters ought to culminate in the erotics of beauty;1624 and Glaucon agrees for his part, so they can turn then to the other branch of nurture and education,1625 gymnastics.
Here too we must care for them closely, from their childhood up. I have a sense what needs to be done; investigate it for yourself along with me. It seems to me1626 that a worthy body cannot by means of its bodily virtue1627 make a soul good, whereas conversely a good soul by means of its psychic virtue is able provide a man the best body he can have. If then we have adequately conditioned our young men’s minds we could hand over to them the task of formulating a detailed plan for running the body.1628 All we need to do is give guidance in the outlines. We can avoid tedious length.1629
First of all inebriation1630 will be something they must avoid. We have no room for a guard so drunk1631 he doesn’t know where in the world he is. “It would be laughable that the guard himself should need a guard,” Glaucon replies.
As for food,1632 our men are like athletes taking part in the greatest of contests. Would it then be (404) appropriate that they achieve the condition of the professional athletes we see around us?1633 Probably not, since the athlete is somnolent and has a fragile hold on health. Haven’t you noticed that they sleep their life away, and that when they depart even a mite from their set regimen they get sick in a very big way? We’ll need a more subtle1634 kind of training for our athletes of war, whose very job requires them to be vigilant like dogs and to have particularly sharp vision and hearing as well as being ready to adjust to conditions various and varying when they are on expeditions. We can’t have their health teeter-tottering with the different kinds of water they’ll be drinking and everything else they ingest, or with the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Perhaps the better model for our gymnastic would be something akin to the simple style of music we described a few minutes ago, a gymnastic simple and reasonable, modeled in fact after the activity of war. One can take some tips from Homer.1635 You know from the poems that under bivouac he has his heroes feasting not on fish (despite the fact that they are near the Hellespont) nor boiled meat stews but on meat roasted only, which is the most convenient for soldiers since a fire can be started anywhere and there’s no need to pack and haul cooking pots. You know that Homer never mentions garnishes and sweets—so much you could learn from other men in training, that a person whose body is going to be in good shape has to keep away from these altogether. A Syracusan table and the Sicilian style of assorted garnish you will not be recommending, if you agree with all this; and the Corinthian maid you will talk down as something not so friendly after all, for men who are thinking of1636 being fit in body;1637 as well as those Attic sweetmeats that are thought to be so pleasant.1638 That whole way of eating and living1639 would rightly be compared with musical compositions based on the panharmonic and polyrhythmic elements.1640 In the sphere of music that kind of variety spawned licentiousness while here in the sphere of the bodily regimen it spawns disease; and simple music engendered temperance in their souls, (405) while gymnastic simplicity engenders health. As licentiousness and diseases fill1641 the city, courtrooms and doctors’ offices start opening up everywhere;1642 and the arts of wrangling in court and doctoring come to be taken seriously once the freer sort of citizens1643 get on the bandwagon and pursue them with vigor.
Truly, there is no more telling sign that a city’s culture is on the decline than a rising demand for doctors and sharp1644 lawyers, not only among the common craftsmen but even among persons who wish to be viewed as properly educated.1645 Don’t you think it ugly to have to conform to some sort of justice cooked up by others who sit over you as your masters and judges and require you to make it yours and fit your life to it as if1646 you had no inner sense of justice yourself? The only thing more shameful than this is a person who spends his whole life in the courtroom, today a plaintiff and tomorrow a defendant,1647 and worse, thinks nothing of it out of his utter gracelessness, telling himself1648 how astute he is in the area of injustice,1649 how adequate to make every twist and ready to avail himself of every escape, a constant display of legal acrobatics, ever having himself exempted from paying the penalty, regardless how small.1650 No idea has he how much finer and better it would be to get himself a life and a livelihood that has no need for a nodding juror!
And what shall we say about the demand for doctors to do more than treat wounds and cases of seasonal disease, but in addition to administer to the ravages of inactivity or the regimen we have mentioned? These fluids and the vapors they are full of, as full as swamps, with similar secretions and flatulence,1651 each and all of them to be given their proper denominations from our clever troupe of Asclepiads! How disgusting!
Glaucon too has noticed these novel and strange names, and Socrates goes on to make the point that things were different in Asclepius’s time. His actual sons1652 served at Troy, and when they saw a servant maid giving the (406) wounded Eurypylus a preparation of Pamnean wine with lots of barley and cheese mixed in with it, a thing that today would surely be deemed phlegmatic, they made nary a fuss nor a comment to Patroclus who was in charge of the case.
“But really the drink was quite out of place1653 for a person in his condition,” Glaucon rejoins.
Not really, if you realize that the entire institution of medical training we now have was unknown before the guild of Asclepiads. Then one day Herodicus showed up. He was a gymnastic trainer that became sickly and contrived to combine gymnastics with iatrics. He tried it out on himself first; only later did it catch on with everybody around him. The result was, he made his death last a long time.1654 He became the constant companion of his disease, a mortal sickness he could not heal. He spent his whole life treating it and was too busy to do anything else. He’d have a flare-up whenever he departed from his usual regimen but got progressively harder and harder to kill1655 and even made it to old age.1656
“So fine a medal he bore off with his mettle!”1657
Just what you would expect from a person who was unaware that it was not out of ignorance or inexperience that Asclepius held back from this kind of iatrics and from teaching it to his heirs.1658 He saw that the situation of all well governed men was to have a single duty assigned to them in their city that they have to work at all the time, and none of them had time to spend their life laboring with illness1659 and treatments, a thing that laughably enough1660 we recognize to be valid for our craftsmen, while we fail to see its application to the rich and well-off.
Glaucon of course does not understand so Socrates explains. A builder who is ill will expect to get a drug from his doctor1661 that will make him vomit the sickness up or pass it downwards or have it burned off or cut out of him and be done with it. Let the doctor assign1662 him a lengthy regimen with compresses to be applied to the head1663 and all that stuff and he’ll soon be hearing from his patient1664 that he hasn’t time to be sick, and that living that way he would produce nothing, and that paying attention to the disease would make him neglect his work. Soon enough he’ll bid adieu to that kind of doctor and step right back into his usual regimen,1665 and then he’ll either get better and go on with his life or else if his body can’t carry on he’ll be done with the bothers of being alive.1666
“Yes, for a man of his station1667 this would be the right attitude toward doctors,” Glaucon allows, and Socrates (407) makes sure the reason he agrees is that what made the man’s life useless was his inability to work. On the other hand we don’t speak of the rich man as having any work cut out for himself, work that would make his life unsustainable1668 if he neglected it—at least Glaucon hasn’t heard tell of such. But then, Socrates wonders, perhaps Glaucon has not heard the teaching of Phocylides, that ‘once a man has secured his livelihood, he must practice virtue.’1669
“I’d say he should before he’s secured it, too,” Glaucon retorts.1670
Let’s not fight with Phocylides on that point but teach ourselves a lesson. Which shall we choose? Shall we say that the rich man must concern himself with this1671 and that his life would be unsustainable if he did not? Or shall we say that, while a life nursing disease1672 pre-empts a builder or other craftsman from paying attention to his true occupation, it doesn’t pre-empt a person from fulfilling the maxim of Phocylides?1673
Glaucon is almost beside himself: “It most certainly does pre-empt him, more indeed than anything else does, this supragymnastical and kooky meticulousness about the body!1674 What stomach could it have1675 for managing the household or for armies not to mention the executive meetings one has to sit through in the city?” And Socrates goes him one better:1676 But most of all for studies, any kind you could name, and for thinking and inward meditation1677 this attitude makes for hard going. It’s always sensing a hint of a headache or dizziness coming on and blaming it on philosophy, so that anytime and anyplace a person practices this kind of virtue1678 something shows up to block his way. It makes a person think he is sick all the time and puts him in the body’s throes unceasing. Asclepius knew it well. It was for people who were essentially sound and following healthy regimens but who caught some distinct disease, that he founded the ministrations of medicine. He found ways to cast out disease with drugs or cutting1679 but in order not to disturb the political order he assigned his patients to continue with their usual round of activities. For bodies1680 that were utterly riddled with disease through and through he did not try to prescribe regimens to drain off one humor or infuse another by which he would only make the folks’1681 life a long evil1682 and enable them to procreate offspring of a similar ilk.1683 Instead he deemed that a person who was no longer able to live according to the established pace and order should not be treated at all since there was nothing to gain by it either for himself or for the city.1684
“You make this Asclepius out to be politically adept,” Glaucon rejoins.
Clearly his sons were, too, exactly because he was. Haven’t you realized how nobly they behaved in wartime at Troy and that (408) the way they practiced medicine was the way I am describing? Do you remember how they treated Menelaus when he was wounded by Pandarus:
“They sucked out the blood and sprinkled on some drugs”1685
—but as to what he was to drink or eat after the treatment they had as little to say as they did for Eurypylus, since they know that drugs were enough to heal a man1686 if his regime before he was wounded was salubrious and moderate—even if he might quaff a mull on a given occasion—whereas a life1687 sickly by nature and licentious by habit they counted worthless both to those who live it and to everybody else, and they held that their craft was not designed to serve such as these nor should they in fact receive treatment, not even if they were richer than Midas.
“You make Asclepius’s children out to be quite clever,” Glaucon rejoins.
As one should. Others don’t believe this is the story about them. The tragedians and Pindar1688 make the father out to be a son of Apollo, but say he was bribed to treat a rich man who was quite near death, and that this is why he was struck by lightning.1689 We cannot, according to our own principles, believe both these claims. If he was the son of a god then we’ll conclude he was not a money grubber; and if he was a money grubber he was not the son of a god.1690
Glaucon agrees with all that, partly in order to raise a worry that has now come into his mind.1691 Will Socrates take this radical attitude so far as to deny that the city needs to obtain good doctors? Off-hand it seems to himself that the best qualified would be those who had treated the greatest number of people whether healthy or sick, just as the most qualified jurors are those who have been around the block1692 with the entire range of human types.1693
Socrates replies, carefully, “I am arguing that we must have very good ones indeed—but perhaps you don’t know which people I’d think are good.”
“I’ll know if you’ll tell me.”1694
And I will do so, but mind you1695 your question applies the same formula to things that are dissimilar. As for our doctors,1696 they’ll turn out most clever if right from their childhood, in addition to their formal studies, they get to know1697 as many bodies as possible and the worst possible, and if they themselves catch all the diseases and have an inborn tendency not to be healthy. After all, it’s not with a body they’ll be treating a body; if it were, there would be no room for their bodies to be bad or become so either. Rather it is with the soul they’ll treat (409) the body, a soul that has no room to be, or come to be, in a bad state if they are to give good treatment. The juror on the other hand uses soul to rule soul, and soul has no room to take on the effect of constant exposure to and familiarity with1698 bad1699 souls or to pursue a full career of unjust acts as if she would come out the other side with a sharp sense for diagnosing the injustices of others like diagnosing the diseases of the body. Instead she must evolve1700 during youth unexposed to corrupt characters and unsullied by them, if she wants to make her judgment1701 about right and wrong in a healthy1702 way by means of herself being fine and good. This is why decent people appear to be rather simple1703 while they are still young and liable to be taken in by unjust people, lacking as they do any homoeopathic identification1704 with base men that they could use as a standard to measure them with.
Glaucon quite agrees that the young have this weakness, and Socrates makes the supplemental point that the best jurors are in addition older men, who have gotten to know about injustice only lately1705 and have done so not by a clear and unmediated perception of it residing in their own souls but by a studied attempt to make the thing out as an alien thing found in alien souls, so that over time they come to see it for the evil thing that it is.1706 They get there by knowledge and not by personal experience.
“No one could say this is not the noblest sort of all to be a judge.”1707
Yes, and a “good” judge, too, to answer the question you asked.1708 In short, what makes him good is having a good soul. His counterpart is a crafty and untrusting man with a large personal record of unjust acts, who would stop at nothing1709 and thinks himself clever.1710 When he associates with men like himself he does seem crafty in his circumspection and the dogged hold he has on the models of evil he holds within;1711 but when he finds himself among men who are good, assuming they are of the requisite age,1712 he seems stupid, suspicious at the wrong moments and unable to recognize a healthy character since he has no model of such a thing at his command.1713 We certainly must not look for a man who is good and smart the way this one is to be our juror, but the former type. Whereas baseness of character could never recognize both virtue and itself, the virtue that comes to belong to an inner nature properly educated will get command at one and the same time of itself as well as of baseness.1714 And so it is this man that turns out to be1715 the wise one and not the bad man.
As for medicine, will you legislate it to follow suit1716 with our juridical art, and fashion the two of them so that (410) they support the citizens that are sound in body and in soul, but as to those that are not fit in body they shall allow them to die and those that have grown incurably evil in their souls their practitioners1717 shall take it upon themselves to put them to death?
“It has become plain,” Glaucon courageously agrees,1718 “that no less than this is the best treatment both for themselves and for the city.”
With this agreement from Glaucon, Socrates can move back to the point where this entire digression on doctors and lawyers began:1719 Our young clearly will take care to avoid needing the courts if they do practice the kind of simple music we have said instills temperance; and a man schooled in such music as this will follow a similar inspiration in his choice of gymnastics, so that when it comes time to choose he will select a regime that will keep him out of a doctor’s office except when it becomes absolutely necessary. He will perform his gymnastic exercises1720 for the sake of the spirited aspect of his nature and in order to invigorate it rather than for the sake of physical strength, and will not be manipulating1721 his diet and exercise as the athletes do to achieve peak energy.1722 Can we also say, Glaucon, that what the people who first established the curriculum of music and gymnastics had in mind was not, as some people believe,1723 that the one would minister to the body and the other to the soul?
The question takes Glaucon by surprise,1724 and Socrates continues: It may just be that it was soul they held in the forefront of their minds in their design of both. Just focus1725 for a moment on the sort of mental disposition you find in people who have a continuous association1726 with gymnastics but never even a taste of music, and consider in turn those who have developed the opposite disposition.1727 I am referring to the dispositions of savage hardness on the one hand and soft tameness on the other.1728
Glaucon can finish the idea: “Yes, I see that people who practice gymnastics undiluted1729 come out more violent than they should be, and those that do music only become softer than is becoming1730 for them.”
Yet, Socrates continues, this same violent element is something the young man’s innate spiritedness can provide, which if nourished properly could become brave, whereas if overfed it would in all likelihood become boorish and harsh. As for the aspect of calmness, surely his innate love of wisdom would be the basis1731 for that; but if the innate potential is given too free a rein1732 it would become a softer thing than it should, while if it is nourished nicely it could become calm and decorous.1733 Moreover, as we have seen1734 we needed our guards to have both these aspects inborn. Therefore we must find a way to bring them into harmony with one another. A man so harmonized will have (411) a soul that has become both temperate and brave, while the unharmonized will have a soul fearful and coarse.1735
Now when somebody surrenders his soul1736 to music and lets it waft its strains over him and flow down into his soul through his ears as if they were its funnels and bathe his soul with the harmonies we have identified as the sweet and soft and threnodic ones,1737 and if he spends his life exuding dolorous hums or beaming with joys1738 inspired by the music, what happens at first is that he softens whatever1739 element of spirit he had1740 in him as one does to temper iron, and makes it a serviceable thing that had been unserviceable because too inflexible;1741 but if he perseveres in his surrender and doesn’t give it a rest1742 but becomes enchanted, the next thing is that he has gone and melted it and turned it to liquid, to the point that he has let his spirit flow out of him and has cut loose the sinews of his soul, and has made himself a “soft soldier.”1743 If his inborn gift of spirit is deficient1744 he reaches this result quite quickly. On the other hand if he has a high-spirited soul1745 from birth, by weakening it he makes it reactive, prone now to burst into a rage over small things and quenched then into quiescence. The outcome is that instead of being high-spirited he ends up choleric and quick to anger, full of crankiness.
The converse is the man that practices gymnastics a good deal and lavishes time on feasting1746 but never hears a note of music. When at first he gets his body into shape he becomes fully attentive and vigorous1747 and becomes braver than himself.1748 But what if he practices nothing else and refuses all company with the Muse? Even if he has a strain of the love of learning in his soul, the fact that it never has a taste of study or the investigative hunt1749 and never takes a round1750 with reasoning and the rest of music, it becomes weak and mute and blind,1751 since it is never aroused and never fed with study, and the perceptions he has are never brought to book and purged.1752 In the end1753 he becomes a misologist1754 and a man of no music,1755 who has given up persuasion and talking things over and makes his way with force and fierceness as a beast does, and lives a life ignorant and awkward, halting and graceless.
Glaucon agrees with all aspects of this account, and Socrates can express the position they have reached. It would seem that I could say some god bequeathed to mankind this pair of arts in service to just this pair of elements1756 in them, music and gymnastics in service to the willful and the philosophic, and not to soul and body,1757 at least not primarily, so that these two elements might be (412) harmonized to one another by tightening and loosening the strings until true tonality is reached. Therefore the man who does the finest job of mixing gymnastic with music and applies their influences to the soul in the most tempered way would most correctly be called the most musical and most harmonized in the fullest sense of the term,1758 much more than the man who can tune1759 strings to each other.
In our city likewise there will be a need for a man of this type constantly to serve as supervisor if our government and society1760 is to be preserved, Socrates suggests, and Glaucon fervently agrees. But we have a sense that something has changed. Socrates alludes to the old idea—that the young men we are training are being trained to be phulax or guard—with the notion of “preserving” the city: we had been supervising1761 how to make the guard suitable for just this purpose. What is new is the way his goodness, by which he will supervise the city, suddenly replaces the concern we had to create circumstances that would make him good. That is, we discover the role we had arrogated to ourselves is in reality his role, and with this we realize that in a sense we had, all along, become him, but now in the same sense he has become us! The surprise ends up being the way that Socrates announces that the basic education has been completed, but the very fact that it is complete means we find ourselves near the next step, installing him as guard over the polis. Transitional moments sneak up on us just like this in real life, too!
Socrates next announces what we have just realized. We have arrived at the essential outlines1762 for the education and nurture that we needed to provide. There is no need to treat separately the dances these types will be dancing, nor their chases and hunts and contests in gymnastics and horsemanship.1763 Obviously these activities will be modeled after the ones we have dealt with, and to discover them has been made easy, given what we have done so far. But what must we do next? Presumably it is to decide which among1764 this group of guards will be the rulers and which the ruled.
Criteria have indeed emerged in the course of the discourse that can provide answers to this question, and Socrates adduces them without mentioning where he got them. Of course1765 the older among them should be the rulers and the younger the ruled, but the best of them, too.1766 Glaucon agrees, but Socrates now chooses not to rely on the goodness of the man that they had discovered in the case of the juror, but the goodness of the phulax or guard as such. He proceeds by a quick induction.
When it comes to farmers, are the best farmers the most farmerly ones?
“Yes.”
But now it is a matter of guards. Would the best of these be the most guardly1767 of a city?
“Yes.”
To be guardly the basic attributes one would need are being sound-minded and able, and also being solicitously concerned1768 about the city. Solicitous concern one feels most of all for that which one in fact loves, but what he would most love would be that whose interests he thought were the same as his own, such that when that thing was well off it would turn out that he was, too, and when not, not. Therefore from out of the whole group of guards we need to select such individuals1769 as will seem to us upon examination most of all and throughout their lives to be occupied with ascertaining what will benefit their city and then doing that with all their energy, and conversely what does not benefit her to be utterly1770 unwilling to do.
“You describe in his very essence the men with the proper orientation,” Glaucon replies.
It seems to me the way we must conduct the examination will be to watch them throughout the stages of their lives, and see if they act in a guardly manner toward this belief, and neither by bewitchment nor by force lapse into expelling their decision and resolution1771 to do whatever is best for the city.
“What is this ‘expelling’ you refer to?”
Say I will. A resolution can be lost from one's outlook either willingly or unwillingly. It is willingly when a false decision departs from a person whose outlook has changed under the force of learning, but the departure of a true (413) opinion is always unwilling.
“I understand the case of the willing expulsion, but I still need to learn what you mean by the unwilling one.”
I had to say to him, Socrates tells us,1772 “Don’t you believe, as I do, that men are deprived of good things against their will, and of bad things willingly? Or do you doubt perhaps that being deluded from the truth1773 is a bad and being in possession of it is good? Do you not agree that believing what is a fact is possessing the truth?”1774
“You’ve made it clear enough1775 that what you say is correct. I consent that it is unwillingly that men become deprived of a true judgment.”
And do they undergo the deprivation either by being robbed or by being bewitched or by being forced into it?1776
“Here, too,1777 I need some guidance.”
Maybe you find my expression too highfalutin.1778 By “robbed” I refer to people whose minds have been swayed by persuasion and to those who have forgotten. From some it is time and from others it is argument that strips away their belief without their noticing. Is that the guidance you needed?
“Quite.”
And by those forced I mean anybody that suffering or pain causes to change their opinion.
“This I did understand; you are correct.”
But1779 the bewitched, you could say without guidance, are those who are led to change their opinion either spelled by pleasure or shuddering in fear.
“Yes, since anything that bewilders can be said to bewitch.”1780
So now you can understand what I was saying a moment ago, that we must search out which are the best guards of the decision1781 they hold in themselves always to do whatever they judge to be the noblest thing for the city. Indeed we must observe straight from their childhoods how they respond to tasks we put before them that are just the sort that make a person forget or become confused in this kind of resolve, and then select the one who holds to it in his mind and proves hard to delude, and reject the one who doesn’t. Besides tasks there will be labors we set before them1782 and pains to undergo and contests their response to which we will observe with the same questions in mind. And we must also conduct a test for the third kind, of bewitchment. Just as when one leads a colt into a clattering racket or an echoing din to test whether he is skittish, so must we convey them while they are still young into frightful situations, and then in turn expose them to pleasures, subjecting them to an assay more stern than subjecting gold to fire, to see which of them is impervious to bewitchment and maintains his poise1783 in all situations, a good guard over himself and over the culture he has learned,1784 approaching all these situations with the rhythm and harmony1785 that is appropriate, so as to prove to be the sort of man that is of greatest value to the city. The one who has been assayed in (414) childhood and youth and then in maturity1786 and emerges unscathed1787 must be installed in the office of ruler and guard1788 of the city, must be given honors during this life and for his memory be allotted1789 the largest of graves and memorials, while the one who is not of this kind must be dropped. This is how I see the selection and constitution1790 of the rulers and guards of the city, in broad outline and without going into detail.
Along with the selection comes a nomenclature. The ones we have selected will most rightly be called “guards,” fully prepared1791 to watch both our enemies outside the city and our friends within, guarding against the one group conceiving a plan and the other actually becoming able to harm the city. As for the younger ones we had been calling guards before, the ones who have not achieved this title in its new meaning, we will now call “helpers”1792 and aids for the policies of the ruling guards.
Is there some way we could bring off one of those lies we were saying, a while ago, are needed on occasion,1793 this time a real whopper1794 of a lie to persuade them of, though only one -- to persuade the rulers themselves if possible but at least everybody else in the city—a lie not at all1795 original with us but borrowed from the Phoenicians?1796 Indeed in the past it has shown up in many places as the poets say and people believe them, but in our part of the world it has not and I don’t know if it could. I do know that selling it would be a hard sell.
“You seem to be ashamed to say what it is!”
Yes, and you’ll see I have good reason once I say it.
“Go ahead; don’t be afraid.”
So I will—but still I don’t know how I’ll summon the cheek to say it or just how to put it into words.1797 I’ll try first to persuade the rulers themselves and their soldiers,1798 and then the rest of the city, to the effect that what we have put them through by way of raising them and educating them did not really happen after all. What seemed to be happening to them and going on around them was all a dream. What was really happening was they were underground. They were being shaped down there into what they now are, both themselves and their armor and weapons1799 and the rest of their equipment. Once they were fully formed and turned out, their Mother Earth yielded them forth from herself. And on behalf of this land they find themselves living in it is they that must now take counsel, and defend it1800 as if it were the mother that nursed them in case someone attacks her, and must take care of their fellow citizens as if they were their Brothers of the Earth.1801
“You were right1802 to be ashamed about telling a lie1803 a minute ago.1804
(415) Yes, with quite good reason.1805 Still, hear the rest of it. 'You are brothers, all of you in the city,’ we’ll say to them in the fable,1806 ‘but the god who fashioned and formed you, for those of you who are adequate to being rulers, mixed some gold into their1807 makeup, which accounts for their being the most valuable and honored members of the city.1808 Into those who could be their assistants he mixed silver, and mixed iron and bronze in the farmers and the rest of the craftsmen.1809 Now since you are separate species you most of the time will breed true, but there could be cases of silver offspring from gold parents and gold from silver, and similarly among the others.' So, first and foremost to the rulers among them the god gives an admonition.1810 Above all else they must become good guards of their offspring, and expend the maximum effort watching out for any admixture of the metals in their souls. In case one of their own1811 offspring shows a trace of bronze or iron they shall have no pity at all for it but assign it to its proper station and send it off whether to the craftsmen or the farmers; and if conversely within these latter groups an offspring is born with a tincture of gold or silver, our rulers shall elevate him to the group of guards or to that of their helpers, explaining their conduct on the grounds there is an oracle1812 that the day a guard of bronze or a guard of iron guards the city, that day the city will perish. Can you see a way we can to get them to believe this fable?
“None at all for this first set of them, but to persuade their sons and the subsequent generations and then the rest of mankind, well ... .”
And it’s all the better for fostering their care for each other and for the city, if I get your drift. We can leave the whole thing to rumor and fad1813 and ourselves take on to the next step, to send forth our earthborn sons in full armor under the leadership of their rulers. Let us imagine them searching out the best place in the city to locate their own encampment,1814 a place from which they could best control a faction of the citizenry unwilling to obey the laws and from which they could best defend the whole city against invaders from the outside,1815 if an enemy should raid them like a wolf who comes among sheep. Now once they have laid out their encampment and have made the appropriate sacrifices to the gods, let them go to bed1816—right?1817
“Just so,” says Glaucon.
And they have beds adequate to protect them in the winter as well as1818 summertime?
“Of course—I presume you are referring to their shelters.” 1819
If this term can be used of what soldiers have1820 and not businessmen, Socrates rejoins.
(416) “And just what does this add to that?”1821
Let me try to tell you. The most shocking and shameful thing a shepherd could do would be to raise his sheepdogs—his assistants, that is—in such a way that because of a licentiousness in them or a famine or some other characteristic in their makeup the dogs on their own initiative1822 try to harm the sheep and come to act like wolves instead of dogs.
“Shocking, of course.”
Must we not then do whatever we can to guard against our assistants1823 doing this sort of thing to the citizens, given the fact that they are stronger,1824 and against their becoming like fierce despots instead of gentle allies?
“Yes, we must guard.”1825
And would they not be equipped with the greatest measure of a safeguard conceivable if they have been1826 educated completely and well?
“Yes, and you can be damn sure that they have been, in fact!”
Socrates again reminds us that he is talking to Glaucon at that moment, and tells us he said,1827 “We have no warrant to make so strong a claim, my dear Glaucon. What we can be sure of, as we said a minute ago, is that they need to get a proper education—whatever a proper education is—if they are to have the greatest support1828 for becoming tame and peaceful both among themselves and toward the people that are being guarded by them.1829
“And right we were to say so.”
You will agree then that in addition to1830 this education, any thoughtful person would say that their shelters and all other possessions or property to be provided them must meet the criteria that they not impede their progress toward becoming the best guards they can, and not arouse1831 them to mistreat the other citizens.
“And true will it be for him to say so.”
Having extracted (or secured) Glaucon’s agreement to these criteria Socrates can now present untrammeled a vivid and forthright description of the life and regimen of the rulers and their assistants (416D3-7B4). Apart from the “big lie” he has just taken us through it is the longest continuous statement he will have made all evening,1832 and with it Book Three will come to an end. Everything conspires to make us aware that we have returned full circle to that fateful moment when Socrates last described the people for our viewing,1833 and once we sense the return we recognize in a flash that it is again Glaucon who is witnessing Socrates's description, and we are full of apprehension what his reaction will be, since last time his reaction set us off on a long detour, requiring in fact everything that has intervened.
“Observe then my picture1834 of what home life they must have in order to turn out this way. First as for possessions no private wealth will any of them have unless it is absolutely necessary. Second, as for their home and stores no part or corner of them will be off limits: anyone who wishes may enter at will. They will be outfitted as much as is necessary for men who are athletes of war, sober and brave,1835 maintaining their stations as guards1836 and receiving from the other citizens a wage for doing so in an amount that will leave them no excess at year’s end nor a shortfall. Imagine them1837 making their way to the mess: they will live life in common with each other as men do that are ensconced in an army. As for gold and silver we will tell them they have a divine kind of it stored away forever in their souls, which they got from the gods. Of the human kind they have no further need, nor would piety allow them to them to mix the divine with the mortal and pollute it, since the currency of the many becomes associated with (417) many impious acts, but the one that they1838 possess is unscathed.1839 Rather, they alone in the city will be barred by Themis from dealing with and even1840 from touching gold and silver, from entering under a roof where they are present,1841 from wearing it,1842 and from drinking out of a silver or golden vessel. We will tell them that if they follow these rules they may themselves be preserved and may preserve the city, but as soon as they acquire land of their own and homes and coin they will be householders and farmers1843 rather than guards and moreover will become harsh despots rather than allies of the other citizens.1844 Hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against will be the rule and content of their lives, a life lived in greater fear, and fearing indeed those within the city rather than those without, themselves ever skirting the edge of the abyss and ruin, bringing their city right along with them.
It is for all these reasons, we shall say, I said, that the guards’ provision must be thus, with respect to their shelters1845 and the rest, and this is the law that we will lay down for them.
“Quite so.”
Glaucon has agreed.
Book Three may be said to end with Glaucon’s acquiescence, but Book Four begins with Adeimantus resisting this very conclusion and so perhaps it would be better to say that Book Three ends before Adeimantus disagrees. In the pause between we would do well to summarize how we got as far as we did.
The first time Glaucon saw the citizens at home with each other (372AB) he blurted out that their diet was too austere. Socrates’s ready addition of condiments only worsened his mood, a mood that Socrates quickly diagnosed as a feeling of enervated dissatisfaction that reaches for more and only creates havoc in doing so. Perhaps the search for justice in the large canvas of the state would be helped rather than harmed by adding this appetitive aspect to its regimen,1846 but the addition soon leads to a state that finds itself at war, whether to annex the wealth it needs to meet its rising expectations or to defend itself from the rising expectations of others.1847 The army will consist of experts like all the other jobs the citizens do, but how can the person with the natural gifts requisite to do this work be kept from becoming an enemy within the city? It seems contrary to nature for violence and loyalty to be present at one and the same time. And yet there it is, in the dog. Perhaps the combination can be found among men after all: an instinctual loyalty to friends alongside an instinctual hostility toward the unknown. If there are humans with such an inborn nature we will educate them to bring their potentials to full strength following the original wisdom of those who first divided paideia into music and gymnastic. We’ll refine the curriculum of poetry to instill deep into them the values we’ll need them to have when they come of age and become our guards, and the curriculum of music to foster the requisite temperaments of courage and moderation. Their physical regimen will be simple such as suits the bodily needs and fits into the life of soldiers, avoiding thereby the diseases of luxury and the need for functionaries who cater to them. We will reintroduce a long-forgotten refinement: Music and gymnastics were set up not for soul and body respectively but both for the development of soul, to balance sensitivity with vigilance and resoluteness with flexibility. Among those we have educated we will select those who are particularly impervious to the forces that would seduce a person from retaining his grip on what he knows to be good and true, and make them our guards, with the others acting as their helpers. Before we set them loose into their brave new world we need to make them forget we educated them. We’ll tell them it was all a dream, and the best of them will get the point and go along with us. These we will persuade to live under the most austere and simplest of regimes and to mess together, in a location suited to protecting the city against invaders from without as well as to keeping a eye on the behavior of those within. We will forbid them becoming involved in the sorts of activities that get people started wanting more. They will not be allowed even to touch gold and silver but be reminded they have something within them that is better far and mustn’t be polluted by the envy of the world. If we are lucky they will remain exempt and unsullied, or else they will lose their integrity and they as well as the state will teeter at the abyss.
This new life certainly lacks garnish (ἄνευ ὄψου was Glaucon’s complaint before). Where before the inhabitants could alternate from one dish to the other and while away the evening singing to the gods and producing children, not too few and not too many, these will own nothing and store nothing away, have no private space, have no tools but what they need for their job, receive a set stipend from which they can save nothing, and eat together. These provisions in fact spell out in the starkest terms a pattern of life the very hint of which was enough to elicit from Glaucon his sputtering objection in Book Two, yet this time he accepts them. What has happened?
Apparently our summary has left out what has happened. Let’s try again.
The luxuries were projected into the theoretical city in response to Glaucon’s anxious reaction against a life-too-simple, which he had difficulty articulating. The remarks he did make were taken literally by Socrates. When as a result an army became needful he was ashamed and expressed the hope it could be supplied from the normal rank and file. Socrates scolded him for his carelessness and required him to stick by their agreement to assign one task to each citizen. But a professional standing army leads to the problem who will guard the guards, so that the very existence of the conceptual state is brought into conceptual jeopardy. Glaucon had by then taken enough responsibility for the outcome that he was relieved when Socrates chanced on the idea of the σκύλαξ, which provided a ray of hope that such a thing is not unnatural, and therefore impossible, after all.
Socrates next suggests that the concern for inborn nature leads to a concern for proper nurture, and Glaucon’s brother Adeimantus jumps into the conversation, quite willing to expend whatever amount of effort is needed on the subject of education (376C7-E1). Socrates then offers another perfectly natural suggestion, that instead of reinventing the wheel they adopt a scheme of education based on the age-old division into music and gymnastics. When the review of the music curriculum becomes a radical review of the poetic tradition, Adeimantus finds himself engaged in the very critique he had begged Socrates to carry out in his large speech. As it has turned out, by helping to formulate the criteria for what poetry the young guards should be subjected to and what not, he is participating in the critique rather than being lectured to by Socrates. After all, Adeimantus cannot be re-educated: at his age he can improve his education only by improving education itself. Somehow his search for a personal solution has become bound up in a solution fit for those younger than he is.1848 Somehow his recognition of the inadequacy of the society around him has been converted into a sense of responsibility to “do something about it.”
The review of poetry re-establishes the authority of truth over opinion as Adeimantus had craved,1849 under the excuse that whatever else humans might get from poetry they will not be allowed to have it at the expense of the gods. Next, on the pretense that he is moving through the ranks, Socrates will treat stories about the heroes. These are the personages that men must emulate. The criterion by which to measure poetry about them is that they be depicted as worthy of emulation.
After heroes come men, the treatment of whom in poetry now is made to submit to a different criterion. Socrates invents a distinction from scratch between logos and lexis, or plot and delivery, in order to move to the next phase of the education of Adeimantus. The fact that the study of poetry includes recitation implies that the student will be required to impersonate the humans depicted, and do so with whatever resources he has as a human himself. If he is asked to do this young, he will have to stretch his youthful sources in their direction. If they are low types he will stretch himself in the wrong direction, to his own detriment. The topic of emulating heroes and imitating one’s inferiors goes to the heart of Adeimantus’s experience and predicament. The false attitude he finds accepted among his peers and justified from traditional poetry has made its way into his own soul to the extent that although he believes it is wrong he does not know how to resist it.1850 By putting him in the position of censor Socrates has given him an opportunity to find a way to resist it, with his help and guidance.
The initial expression of his attitude about the opportunity he is given is his statement about Socrates, whom he idolizes for the way, on this occasion and we can imagine many times before, he has brought him to the edge of his best intuition. That is, he guesses that Socrates is about to banish all imitative poetry (394D5-6). Socrates’s response to this act of transference or projection or imitation, is to turn the focus of the conversation away from themselves and back onto the men they are imagining into existence for the sake of their city, the guards who like all the other citizens must be one thing only and do one thing only. How then can they imitate many (394E)? By focussing on the student-guards he invites Adeimantus to imagine himself a student and recast what his teacher would or should make him recite. By the end of this treatment of lexis or delivery Socrates has Adeimantus fully on board.
This completes the treatment of the stories, the logoi that constitute part of music, as opposed to gymnastic. We must recognize, or else misinterpret the whole treatment, that the great stress placed on the stories is due to an agenda that underlies the discussion of education. What is happening before our eyes is not the promulgation of a theory of education by the great thinker Plato in which an idiosyncratically great amount of stress is placed on plot, but a remediation of Adeimantus’s education conducted by Socrates on Adeimantus in that special manner of his that forces Adeimantus to participate rather than merely receive an edifying story. We have to believe that Adeimantus asked Socrates for help at the beginning of Book Two not only because Socrates had given him answers before but because Socrates had recognized his desire before, and had midwifed it before toward progress in understanding. We have to believe that that is all that Adeimantus expects here, and moreover that that is all that is happening here.1851
The transitions within this putative “treatment of education” are driven by the opportunities Socrates sees for educating his interlocutors, but since his method is indirect he hides this in ready-made categories like the division between gods, heroes and men or between music and gymnastic. After story and its delivery comes musical accompaniment, and while we may be tempted to mine this section for information on the musical ideas of the time, about which we know precious little, Socrates is almost completely unconcerned with the matter, as his punning remark that music must “harmonize” with storytelling reveals at the outset.1852 What will turn out to be important about the transition to music is that Glaucon interrupts and takes over for Adeimantus, since he has a personal interest in the topic. He knows something about it and cares enough that he knows that he does not know enough (398C7-10). His attitude enables Socrates to call upon him as the expert for identifying the modal forms, but clearly it is more substantial matters that Socrates has in mind than these technicalities, as we see when he says, “Leave me at least the modes that go with heroic martial and temperate political behavior,” and then goes on (399AB) to describe the balanced temperament he wishes to see achieved by the musical education of the young guards, with an eloquence and leisureliness that comes close to his description of the city’s inhabitants at the idyllic stage (372AB). Glaucon then has the role of giving his nihil obstat as to which modes will suit these behaviors and does not need to comment directly upon them.
When Socrates closes his review of the modes with some remarks on the musical instruments that will be needed he suddenly realizes what they have been doing is tantamount to a purgation of the city that he had accused of being spoiled. Glaucon shows that he knows it was his own intemperance that spoiled it, with his reply that nothing less than purgation should be expected since they themselves have been acting temperately.1853
They are not quite finished purging the music, however. There is still the matter of rhythm. Of course rhythms will be selected to follow the harmonies just as the harmonies were selected to fit the morals of the stories. Glaucon has the expertise to distinguish the rhythms from one another but confesses he has no knowledge at all about which rhythms go with which life (400A4-7); but Socrates has already enunciated the principle and he defers the details to Damon so that he can move on.1854 The moral states of temperance and bravery must be fostered and their opposites must be suppressed: this much Glaucon can certainly distinguish, Socrates insists. Moreover, he can distinguish these qualities in rhythm and harmony as well as in story. He can see them everywhere, in architecture and weaving and even in the world of plants. While music among all the elements in the environment wields an especially strong influence on the soul, it is rather the overarching and pervasive characters of beauty in all things that we must promote in the climate of our young men. The knowledge that truly makes a man a great musician is the knowledge of these characters in all their embodiments.
Glaucon unhesitatingly agrees with Socrates at each step, even though what is now being said implies that the very kind of musical knowledge he has just boasted of having is of little intrinsic worth. Glaucon has been borne along by the sweep of the argument and the importance of the matters it treats and leaves the details behind.1855 He is moved by inspiration.
Socrates has now used the treatment of music as an occasion to move to a much higher and more final level of study than any traditional curriculum has, would, or even could envision. At the very end of the study comes the recognition that beauty is the province within which eros comes to life, and Socrates adds a coda, both humorous and realistic, on the petty derailment to which the erotics between teacher and student are prone (402D10-3C3). It is of course the harmonious beauty of the soul in the student that attracts the teacher, he remarks, and Glaucon by way of agreeing notes that yes the psychic beauties enable one to look past physical defects. Glaucon shows a trace of fastidiousness here and Socrates comes down upon it like a load of bricks. There is no place for the bodily eros in the psychic and musical eros shared by souls for each other, he argues (402E-3B). You may sit with your boy and hug him but no more than a father would his son. Once Glaucon accepts this corrective Socrates is ready to move on from music to gymnastics.
Given what has just been said we should expect the treatment of gymnastics to receive even shorter shrift; but something else happens that sets the tone. The principle is enunciated that body hasn’t the ability to heal the soul but the soul does the body. Therefore if our guards are intelligent they can prepare the gymnastic rules themselves, with a little guidance from us in the form of a few bold strokes (403D).
The insouciance of this remark is comic, and so is the first guideline. The guards will not be allowed to become drunk: indeed the very figure of the drunken guard is risible. What then follows is not a program of exercise but guidelines for the dietary regimen, and the moral is: Don’t get lost in subtleties. Our guards will eat what the Greeks ate on bivouac in Troy. Under the guise of a treatment of gymnastics Socrates is making a frontal assault on Glaucon’s ὄψα. All that needs to be said is that the diet should resemble in its simplicity the musical harmonies we have retained, and that fancy dishes only lead to excess, license, and disease. The sequence of excesses Socrates here lists off is just a restatement of what he loaded the polis down with back in Book Two, but in the present context he has gotten the upper hand and has placed the whole issue of the diet into the category of the ridiculous. The ensuing treatment satirizes the valetudinarians and reduces their lifestyle to an oxymoronic self contradiction that only the rich can afford.
Besides the rehash there is something new, an extension of the symptoms of excess to include an increased demand for juries (405A6-B1), which moves us distinctly beyond the scope of gymnastics and medicine. The extension is justified by an analogy. That someone should look for justice in the decisions of others because he has no sense of it in himself, is shameful;1856 but how much more shameful that he should specialize in manipulating a false sense of it in the minds of jurors for his own personal gain? Likewise it’s shameful to rely on doctors not for the dressing of wounds and the treatment of seasonal diseases, but for managing an intemperate regimen that makes one exude the odors of a swamp.
The want of inner sense or conscience that is expressed in an undue reliance on the courts and then transmogrified into a high art by the professional haggler, is made the pattern and basis for criticizing a person’s lack of good sense about his own bodily regime and the transmogrification of this bad sense is made into a science of maintaining the body in sickness. The comparison is designed to ridicule a person for having to rely on the flattery of a doctor who dignifies his flatulence with the name of a medical condition;1857 but it has exposed two very telling errors in Glaucon’s speech from Book Two, which assumes one has no inner sense of justice, or presumes one can ignore what inner sense he has, and therefore falls back on defining it in terms of injustice,1858 as well as his portrayal of the haggler as astute rather than destitute of conscience and unable even to help himself.1859 The incontinent eater who only brings trouble onto himself also serves as a counterweight to Glaucon’s image of Gyges, by making Gyges’s self-ignorance inwardly visible, within Glaucon’s conscience, as a counterweight to the invisibility of his sins to others.
Once begun, Socrates’s method of satire and ridicule-by-comparison continues ad libitum, to the point that the working man who is too busy to be sick comes off more noble than the rich man who has nothing better to do with his time than be sick, now that he has made his pile. Glaucon interrupts the satire to ask whether in all seriousness he would go so far as to deny the city needs doctors who are good,1860 given the fact that the doctors Socrates seems to prefer would dismiss most of their patients and let them die. In passing he suggests that the best doctors might be those that had the widest possible familiarity with disease, the same way the best men to have on the jury are those who have spent a lot of time among all kinds of people from slumming with the low-lifers to hobnobbing with the rich. Socrates replies that he does of course want good doctors, but he attacks Glaucon’s extension, in passing, of the “experiential” epistemology to jurors, and with this he reverts to mining the analogy between the juror and the doctor.
What he goes on to say has more to do with jurors than doctors: its relevance to the ostensible topic of gymnastics is minimal, but at the same time it continues the direct education of Glaucon in a manner closely tailored to the ways he is making himself available and amenable to education, namely through his candid remarks and his participation in the dialogue.
Since, as Socrates had said at the beginning, the ruling principle governing the “gymnastics” curriculum is that the mind or soul has the power to improve the body, our physicians may profit as such from empirical familiarity with being sick and being exposed to sickness. The juror’s job, which is knowing the just from the unjust, likewise requires mental acuity rather than physical, but empirical familiarity with injustice through indiscriminate exposure might weaken or contaminate this acuity. What it takes to be the “good” juror that Glaucon alluded to in passing, is therefore that the juror have a good soul and be a good man, in the sense at least of being untainted. The conclusion that a juror cannot afford to be “sick” with a case of injustice is irrelevant to gymnastic but goes to the heart of Glaucon's most compelling argument at the beginning of Book Two, the story about Gyges, which he presented as a case that anyone will judge the same way, along with his subsequent description of the just and unjust men as if they were statues, the very sight of whom, he claimed, made the judgment between them easy. In both cases, as we saw, his presentation is vitiated by his own blind spots.1861
With comparisons from the more palpable world of the body and sickness and diet, Socrates is able to illustrate the less palpable facts of conscience, which are as such more “ignorable” in just the way we are to envy Gyges for being able to ignore his own sins merely because they are invisible to others. Glaucon himself is left with the sole alternative of ignoring Socrates’s argument, but even that alternative is now ruled out since it has been revealed that doing so threatens to disable the part of himself that enables him to participate in the conversation, which, as itself a search for justice, is akin to the work of a juror.
Humor is just the right elixir to get him onto the other side since it operates on the will. On the other hand it can only take him as far as will can take him: to resolution. Understanding will require more work. The prospect of purity and freedom from admixture is just such an appeal to the will, and it is with an appeal on this level to which Glaucon accedes, so as to end Book Three.
END OF BOOK THREE
No sooner has Glaucon accepted the conclusion than Adeimantus interrupts to object:
(419) “What will you say in defense of yourself if someone accuses you of making scant provision for the happiness of these men of yours,1862 especially when they themselves could have had it otherwise? The city virtually belongs1863 to them and yet they enjoy none of its benefits,1864 while1865 others1866 are acquiring the fields and building the great big homes,1867 amassing1868 possessions to fill such homes, making private sacrifices1869 to the gods and entertaining foreign guests,1870 and of course as you just mentioned acquiring gold and silver and all the things one customarily expects1871 to find in the lives of those who have really arrived.1872 One could very well say1873 that the name you gave (420) them is all they really are: ‘assistants’ like hired help, who to all appearances are just sitting there on their watches.”1874
The outburst rivals Glaucon’s from Book Two in vehemence but it has its own specific flavor. Just as Glaucon had there “identified” with the citizens in their simple home closely enough to find it calm, Adeimantus here imagines himself being a guard or assistant to the guards vividly enough to feel envy for others than the guard, who aren’t limited by his simple and calm regime, and to fear ridicule by others for forgoing to take advantage of his own opportunities. He articulates his envy in the list, which is a list of external goods that is unique among such lists for the way it stresses private wealth over public accolades.1875 The usual list of external goods includes family, money, and honors,1876 but Adeimantus’s goes on to include the ability to honor the gods privately and to receive foreigners into one’s home. Of all things it recalls Cephalus in his home, his continual use of the private altar he has built, and his request that Socrates come down to visit him from Athens more often. The peculiar isolation of those who “have arrived” is something to be envied from the outside only. Adeimantus’s list therefore expresses envy with an accuracy that evinces some familiarity.
Socrates’s response is not short. Don’t forget to add1877 they’ll be working for their dinner1878 and won’t be receiving a wage in addition to their victuals as the others1879 will, so that even if they wanted to take a sojourn out of town1880 on private business they would not have the wherewithal to do so, nor to pay money for girls1881 or waste it on anything else they might get a hankering for, the way people who are thought to be happy can.1882 There’s this and a whole lot more you have left out of the charges against me.1883 Don’t hesitate to include these also in the list.
“Consider them included,” Adeimantus replies, his vehemence unabated.1884
So you are asking what we1885 shall say in our defense? I think we’ll find our defense by sticking with the same path of inquiry1886 we already set out on. We’ll say that while we would not be surprised if these men did indeed come out quite happy as a group,1887 it’s quite irrelevant since our goal in founding the city never was that any single group within it might be particularly1888 well-off and happy but rather that the city as a whole might be happy as much as possible,1889 so that in a city so disposed we might most likely find justice, as likewise in a city organized worst we might find injustice, and that once we caught sight of justice1890 we would be able to decide the previous1891 question. Our present notion is that we are fashioning and modelling a well-off and happy city, not by selecting a few of the citizens and setting them up to have this quality, but as a whole.
If we were painting a statue and someone came up to us and criticized us for failing to decorate the most beautiful part of the body with the most beautiful colors, since we were using black paint for the eyes instead of the oyster’s purple dye,1892 it would be perfectly reasonable for us to say in our defense, “My strange fellow, don’t adopt the attitude that we must paint the eyes so prettily that they don’t even look like eyes, nor any of the other parts. Focus instead on how well we accord to each part its proper place so as to create a beautiful whole.” Just so in the present application don’t1893 try to make us adorn1894 our guards with a sort of “happiness” that will turn them into something other than the guards we need them to be.1895 We need no lectures1896 on how to swathe our farmers in fancy cloaks and bedeck1897 them with gold, and then to suggest to them that they till the land only if they feel like it, or how to have our potters recline in a pretty array beside the fire to drink and to feast, keeping their wheel within easy reach in case they have a hankering to throw a pot or two, and so on likewise how to make the others into people that have really made it big1898 so that in the end the whole city might enjoy happiness. Advice like that we hardly need! If we follow it our farmer will soon be no farmer, and our potter no potter, nor would the others (421) maintain the postures1899 that came into view as our city developed. Indeed, for the majority1900 of those roles the stakes of maintaining them are rather low. If the leather-stitchers1901 become incompetent or lose their art and pretend to be good when they are not, the city suffers no fearsome consequence; but guards of laws and of the city who aren’t but seem to be can bring the whole city down in a fell swoop, while at the same time they alone hold the keys to her good order and true happiness. So, if we are trying to turn out guards deserving the name by virtue of being the least prone to do harm to the city, whereas a person1902 who speaks the way that man spoke a moment ago intends to turn farmers into happy revellers somehow, as if at a carnival and not in a city,1903 then he must be speaking about something other than a city.1904 What we have to ask is whether it is with this goal1905 in mind that we should institute our guards, that the greatest happiness might accrue to them, or whether as to such happiness as this1906 we must watch1907 how that develops in the city as a whole1908 while as to the “helpers” as you style them1909—our guards that is—we must compel and persuade them to pursue the goal we mentioned before,1910 that they become the best exponents possible of their own special job just like the others. Given the flourishing that would follow for the city as a whole and the goodness of its organization1911 we may leave it up to nature to endow each group with whatever happiness is in store for them to share.1912
To this Adeimantus now calmly agrees and we take a deep breath.1913 The exchange between them so far constitutes something of a proem to Book Four—but Socrates is immediately ready to ask him to grant the brother argument.1914 Of course Adeimantus has no idea what Socrates means,1915 so Socrates asks him to look over to the rest of the city’s workers1916 and consider whether these same things will corrupt them, too, so that they would likewise become evil. “What same things?” Adeimantus asks, though he is the one that brought the offending thing up. “Wealth and poverty” is the way Socrates puts it, the “it” that underlay Adeimantus’s attack a moment ago.1917
“And just how could this happen?” Adeimantus asks with some incredulity.
Here’s how: Once he is rich do you think a potter will still be willing to ply his trade? Won’t he become more lazy and careless than he was before? As such he’ll change into a worse potter. And yet at the same time1918 imagine him being so poor he does not have the tools for his work, or whatever else his trade needs him to have: then too the products he makes will diminish in quality and so will his ability to teach1919 his trade to his sons or whomever else he would pass it on to. Thus wealth and poverty both have the effect of making the products of the trades worse as well as the tradesmen themselves, and we have come upon a second set of things the guards must keep from (422) insinuating their way into the city, wealth and poverty. The one makes for finickiness and laziness and an enervated desire for novelty1920 while the other makes for boorishness and incompetence as well as novelty.
Adeimantus accepts the argument so as to move on to a further point of his own.1921 “If the city has not amassed wealth, how will it be able to go to war, especially against a city that is large and wealthy?”1922
Socrates’s answer to this pressing question is paradoxical and unclear: It would be quite hard against one but against two it would be quite easy. Just think about it step by step. If our city is compelled to fight, the fight will pit our athletes of war against rich men. Compare it to a boxer who has become fully competent fighting against a pair of men who aren’t boxers, but are rich and fat.1923 Don’t you think the fight would be easy even though they are two, since he could dodge the first1924 one that comes at him and with the same move turn to the other and punch him, and then back to the other, over and over again in the heat and exertion of the ring. He’d be able to worst several men, I think, an athlete so well prepared. And yet the wealthy have more boxing in their upbringing than fighting war, so the argument is even stronger when we consider our athletes of war. They could beat double and triple their numbers.
Second, consider what would happen if our city sent ambassadors to one of them but not the other and laid it out plain and simple: “We don’t use gold and silver, and we are not about to take it up either. You for your part do use them. So, make war with us as your allies and take what’s theirs.” Do you think on hearing this they would opt to make war against tough and lean dogs rather than join the dogs in a fight against sheep fat and soft?1925
Adeimantus agrees for his own part1926 that they would not, but still expresses the worry1927 that if one city should indeed accumulate the wealth of the others1928 by confiscating it, the city would by virtue of its sheer size constitute a standing threat against the city that according to our supposition had accumulated nothing.
I envy you your naiveté, Socrates now interposes, if you think you can call anything else a city than the kind of organization we have set up.
Adeimantus needs to have that explained, so Socrates can continue. We have to use a larger and vaguer term1929 for the others. Each one of them is a great many cities and does not make a city itself, as we say in the game.1930 There’s a pair of them at least, no matter where you look, each at war with the other, a city of the poor and a city of the rich. (423) And within each of these cities in turn there is a great number of cities. If you try to treat them all as one you’re lost, but if you recognize they are many cities and distinct, and allocate the one group’s wealth and power and even their sovereignty over themselves1931 to the other group, you will always have most of them as your allies and only a few as enemies. Likewise, as long as your city1932 keeps temperately1933 to the order we have lately designed for it, it will be the largest of cities, not largest in repute and show but largest in truth, even if its army numbers only one thousand men. A city made so large by its unity1934 you will not find among the Greeks or the barbarians, though you will find a large number that seem, but only seem, to be many times larger1935 than this one.
Adeimantus accepts this climactically radical argument with both emphasis and surprise,1936 and Socrates continues in an enthusiastic vein to apply the principle. This then would be just the right criterion1937 for our rulers to use for determining how large the city should be1938 and how much territory it needs so it can forgo acquiring any more. I would say1939 the city may grow only as long as she still is willing to be a unity; beyond this she may not grow.
“Yes: what you say is nicely put.”
So let us add another1940 order to our guards’ list of orders, that they guard by all means possible against all semblance of the city being small or large for that matter,1941 but keep her just the right size and truly unified.1942
“Yes:1943 it’s a trifle1944 of an order we put upon them.”
Yes:1945 but more trifling still I’ll add something we mentioned before, that if one of their own should be born a trifling1946 fellow he’ll have to be sent off to the others,1947 just as if a significant fellow is born among the others he must be sent to the guards. The purpose of this policy was to make it clear that the other citizens also must tend to their own proper jobs in accordance with their own natural gifts, steady in the purpose that by practicing his single job each man should become a single man instead of many, and thus the city in its entirety should grow into a single whole and not many.
“A mere detail,1948 indeed.”
But my dear Adeimantus these things we are enjoining them to do are not many and large, as opinion might have it, but truly trifling1949 every one, if only they keep their eye on “the one big thing”—indeed I’d rather just say the one sufficient thing:1950 education and upbringing.1951 If they are well educated and grow up to be temperate men they will easily be able to discern what is needed in all these areas as well as others we can pass over here,1952 such as the acquisition of wives and marrying them and reproduction.1953 All we need is the general maxim that as much as (424) possible “friends have what they have in common.”1954
Adeimantus agrees with the principle and lofty spirit of this remark,1955 and Socrates can continue, upward. Once it is well begun a city and society1956 progresses as a spiral1957 growing outward. If the worthy nurture and education are preserved they continue to instill good natures in the young, and such worthy types in turn, relying on such an education to spawn still better offspring than their forbears, better even in their inborn nature, as it is with the rest of the animal kingdom.
To put it in simplest terms,1958 those who are to take care of the city must keep a firm grasp on this and not allow it to perish out of neglect. They must guard first and foremost against any innovation in the gymnastic and musical education that runs counter to the order we have established. They must be wary when somebody lets fall the word that
...the song to which men most hearkenIs the one that haunts most lately the lips of the rhapsode,1959
in case he is taken to refer not just to new songs but to new genres of song, and receives praise for such an attitude. In truth one must neither praise such a thing nor try it out, either. One must recognize that change and novelty in the genres puts everything at risk,1960 and that wherever the modes of music change greatly, the modes of political culture1961 undergo a fundamental change along with them, as Damon says, and I agree with him.
Adeimantus completely agrees with Damon, too.1962
Socrates continues with stern resolution: Here then must we build a guardhouse for our guards to inhabit.
Adeimantus is equally stern: “It’s certainly true that relaxation of this type of law can easily insinuate itself unnoticed.”1963
What makes it easy, Socrates adds with fellow feeling, is that the innovation is viewed as if it were merely a playful diversion that has no lasting effect on things.
“Ah yes, no effect at all.1964 Bit by bit it gets established, and then quietly and calmly it invades the mores and the ways people do things. Having gotten this far it begins to show up in the dealings men have with one another, and from the dealings1965 it makes its way into the laws and forms of government, uncontrollably wanton,1966 if I may put it this way, Socrates, until in the end it has subverted every aspect of life both private and public.”1967
Is that how it is? Socrates asks.1968
“Seems so to me.”
So when it comes to our children, as we said at the beginning, we’ll have to make sure they start off with a more orderly sort of play,1969 on the grounds that once the play becomes disorderly the children do, too, and then it (425) becomes1970 impossible for them to grow up to be orderly and serious adults?
“How could it be otherwise?”
So if the early play of the children is properly handled and they admit orderliness into themselves through their musical education it will accompany them and foster their growth in a way that is quite the converse, to the point of restoring aspects of civil order that had gone to seed before?
“Quite true.”
And this is way these people are in fact able to rediscover what might seem minor aspects of law and orderliness that their predecessors had lost touch with.
“What sorts of things do you mean?”
I mean things like young people observing silence in the presence of their elders when appropriate, and observing the proprieties of sitting down or standing up and of serving their parents, as well as minding their grooming and the manner of their clothing and shoes and the whole demeanor of their bodies, and all the other things like this.1971 To legislate these behaviors as such1972 seems silly to me. This isn’t the way such things work,1973 nor would the rules be any more likely to stick simply because they had been formulated in the written law.1974 Whatever the initial thrust of the education1975 the rest follows suit with it, just as like always looks for aid from what is like itself.1976 The process culminates in a finished product spanking new, fully good or fully the opposite. For my part at least I would not legislate such details any further.
Adeimantus thinks he is probably right, so Socrates can go on to expand his point into the area of business regulation:1977 Should we be legislating on the deals that traders make in the agora, and that craftsmen make in their contracts for that matter?1978 Or on slanders and assaults, on the filing of suits and the filling of jury panels,1979 on the question which payments are to be exacted or which are to be deposited,1980 whether into the budget of the market or that of the harbor,1981 and legislate across the board, regarding departments mercantile, municipal, maritime and all the rest? Have we the stomach to do any of this?
“Really there is no excuse for instructing men1982 of the better sort. Most of what we’d want to require by law they will easily discover1983 on their own.”
Yes, as long as, god willing, those basic modes and laws1984 remain alive and well for them.
“And if they don’t the citizens will waste1985 their lives legislating and rectifying1986 things, forever thinking they are on the verge of achieving the ideal.”
You are describing the lifestyle and the outlook of people who labor with an illness but refuse to abandon their (426) deleterious regimen out of intemperance. It’s rich1987 the way they pass their time, always under a doctor’s care but making no progress—unless the elaboration and amplification of the diseases that ails them is progress—forever hopeful someone will prescribe them a drug that will make them healthy. Don’t you think it rich that the one man they have resolved to hate is the man who confronts them with the truth, telling them that until a person cuts down on the drinking and the overeating, on too much sex and too little exercise, no drugs or cauteries or surgeries, nor incantations nor wrappings nor all the rest will do him a bit of good.
“I’d hardly call a man ‘rich’ when he can’t accept good advice,”1988 Adeimantus replies.1989
I can see you don’t count yourself among the admirers of this sort of men.
“You can be quite sure of that.”
And if a city as a whole acts this way you won’t admire it, either. After all isn’t it the same sort of thing when a city forbids her citizens from trying to alter the basic regime1990 on pain of death, whereas anyone who enables themselves1991 to continue in their ways, who caters to their pleasures and foresees their every whim and also can fulfill them, this man will turn out to be good and wise in all the things that matter and will be honored by them.
“Yes it’s the same kind of thing; and yes, I don’t admire them, either, not one bit.”
But focus instead1992 on the people who are willing to abet such cities and encourage them. Don’t you admire their cheek and their ingenuity?
“I do except for those among them that are deceived by these cities into thinking approval of the majority makes them true civic leaders.”1993
Listen to you! Have you no fellow feeling for men1994 like this? If a man had no ability to measure things, if he were faced with1995 a large number of others similarly unable but telling him nevertheless that he is five feet seven, can you imagine he could somehow resist adopting this belief himself?
“From that point of view,1996 no.”
So don’t be so harsh with such people. In their way they live a most charming1997 life, constantly legislating on the sort of things we just mentioned and straightening them out,1998 imagining themselves ever on the verge of putting an end to misdeeds in business while they are blissfully unaware that what they are really trying to do is cut off the Hydra's head.
(427)“And that’s just what they are doing.”
Accordingly my own sense of it was that this kind of lawmaking and this kind of political activity1999 never was the business of a true lawgiver, whether he is working in a well-governed city or a badly governed one. In the latter the effort will not help and will make no difference; in the former everything a lawmaker would introduce could be invented by anybody at all, or else would arise on its own out of habits and usages already in place.2000
“What then would be left do by way of legislation?”
I said to him, Socrates tells us, taking a step back:2001 Our own job is done. It devolves on Apollo in Delphi to legislate what are the largest and finest and indeed most fundamental matters,2002 the building of temples and the conduct of sacrifices, and of all the other ministrations2003 to gods and daemons and heroes; and2004 for the departed in turn, their burial and all the rest that will ensure they remain well disposed toward us. On these matters we have no sure knowledge, nor will we rely on anybody else if we keep our wits about us,2005 and will not hire a special exegete other than the one our ancestors used. It is this god that is the ancestral exegete for all mankind, on such matters as these, delivering instructions from his seat at the omphalos in Delphi.
Accordingly your2006 founding of the City can be declared complete, my son of Ariston. What is next is for you is to look within it, with the aid of some helping light—call on your brother for help and on Polemarchus and these others—with the hope2007 we2008 might catch sight where justice is to be found within it and where injustice, and how they differ from one another, and which of the two a man needs to acquire if he is planning on being happy in life, without considering whether or not he is found out by any of the gods or by his fellow men.2009
“Baloney,” Glaucon interjects.2010 “You already promised you would conduct the search, saying it would be impious for you not to try to come to the aid of justice any way you could.”2011
You remind me truly, and so I must; but you all must collaborate.
“It goes without saying that we will.”
Alright then, I’ll confess I have a hunch2012 how we might find what we are looking for. If our city has been organized properly then it is completely good. As such it is wise and brave and temperate and just—all four.2013 (428) Whichever of these we find in it, the one that is still unfound is2014 the remainder. That is, say we were looking for one of any four things in something. If we found it then we would be done; but if we had recognized the other three things first then, too, we would already have found what we were looking for since it would be whatever was left over. This is the method we must use in the case of our four things.
Right away we can see wisdom in it, and wisdom in a peculiar way. The city we have described does in fact seem wise to me, since it is well-counselled. Yet this very thing—good counsel—is obviously a kind of knowledge, since it is with knowledge not ignorance that people give good counsel. On the other hand there are knowledges of all sorts present in the city, but the city is not counted wise or well-counselled because of the knowledge of her carpenters.
“No,” Glaucon agrees, “such would be called a city good at carpentry.”
And so it is not because of the city’s knowledge about wooden implements, and her deliberation about how they best should be manufactured, that the city is to be called a wise city, nor because of her knowledge about bronze nor any other of these kinds of knowledge. Nor because of her knowledge of farming: that makes her a city good at farming.2015 Is there then some certain knowledge in the city we just constructed, available to some of her citizens2016 by which she counsels not about some one thing within herself but about herself as a whole, about how she should deal with herself and how with the other cities around her.
“There certainly is,” Glaucon collaborates to say.
Which is it and in whom2017 does it reside?
“It is this guarding knowledge you have articulated, and it resides in these rulers we have just now called perfect guards.”
“And because of the presence of this knowledge what can you call the city?”
“Well-counselled and therefore truly wise.”2018
Now which of the two groups is going to be larger in our city, the bronze-smiths or these true guards?
“The bronze-smiths, by a large measure.”
And likewise of all the other groups that been named after their knowledge, the group of guards will be the smallest of all.
“By a large measure.”
Therefore it will be by dint of her smallest constituent group2019 and the knowledge that resides in them—in the leading2020 or ruling group—that the entire city whose evolution we have witnessed comes to be called wise; and (429) at the same time it is in the nature of things that only the fewest are suited to take part in this knowledge, which alone among all the kinds of knowledge deserves to be called wisdom. Somehow then, I know not how, we have discovered one of the four at least,2021 as well as where it resides in our city.
Glaucon gives him full credit: “Seems to me we have found it in a manner altogether satisfactory.”
Socrates forges on. The attribute of bravery and where it resides so as to confer its name onto the whole city is easy to see. To declare whether the city is fearful or brave anybody would look to that part of her that fights or stands ready to fight on her behalf. The bravery or fearfulness of others than these within her population would not lead to her being called the one or the other.2022 So a city is brave by dint of one part of herself and of her having in this part an ability that through all eventualities will preserve a sense2023 that the things and the sorts of things2024 that are worrisome and dangerous are just the ones the lawgiver has conveyed them to be in the education.2025 Such an ability is just what bravery is.
Glaucon does not quite get it and wants Socrates to say it again.
“I am saying that bravery is a kind of preservation.”2026
“What kind of preservation?”
A preservation of the sense or belief, acquired through her education under our law, as to what things and what sorts of things are dangerous. By its preservation ‘throughout all eventualities’ I meant a man’s keeping it safe and unaltered2027 in times of pain or pleasure and desire or aversion and not losing his grip on it. I can give you an image of what I mean if you’d like.
“I’d like.”
You have seen what dyers do when they want the dye in their wool to be colorfast. First they select and gather from all the many sorts of wool available to them the kind that is naturally white. Then they prepare it—and spare no pains in the preparation, mind you—by treating the wool so that it will take in the colorant as deeply as possible. Only then do they dye it, and the wool that is dyed by this method comes out colorfast, so that laundering is unable to remove the color no matter how much soap is used. If the wool is of another color or is not prepared in this way, it behaves quite differently from this, as you have seen.
“Yes I have: the color washes out ridiculously easily.”2028
Alright then take it that this is the kind of thing we were trying to accomplish2029 when we selected and (430) gathered our soldiers2030 and then set about educating them in music and gymnastic.2031 We were contriving nothing else than that they would be persuaded of the laws and let the laws sink in like dye, so that they would develop2032 a fast hold on the sense of what is to be feared and of other things because they possess the nature and the nurture they need, and so that the dye of their character should not be stripped away2033 by these catalysts that are so terribly good at washing things out:2034 pleasure, more terrible than the lye of Chalastra or the strongest soap, and pain and fear, and desire, which is stronger than any catalyst. This sort of power, this ability to preserve under all circumstances the correct and lawful sense about what is to be feared and what is not, is what I assert bravery to be, and set it down as agreed unless you have some objection.
“Objections have I none. It seems you are taking a stand against the kind of right opinion about the same dangers that can settle in a person without grace of education and relies instead on a fierce and slavish disposition, as lacking lawfulness and not worthy of the name of bravery.”2035
Exactly right.
“I do accept bravery to be what you say it is.”
Yes, accept it as the political kind of bravery and you will be accepting it rightly. We can put a finer point on it at another time if you want: what we have set out to find in the present inquiry is justice. For that purpose2036 our treatment of bravery has gone far enough. There are two more qualities that remain for us to catch sight of within our city, temperance and the goal of it all, justice. How do you think we might be able to find justice so as to avoid the bother2037 of dealing with temperance?
“Well for my own part I neither know how nor would I wish it would come into sight before temperance does,2038 if that would entail that we’d be omitting to take a close look at temperance. So if you want to do me a favor investigate this before you investigate that.”
Surely I do want to, unless it would be quite wrong!2039
“Investigate, then.”
Investigate I will. From my own vantage point2040 temperance appears to have a stronger resemblance to harmoniousness and being in tune than the previous ones did. It is a sort of orderly beauty, a sort2041 of “mastery” over pleasures and desires, as people put it who speak, in the same vein, of one's being “stronger than oneself,”2042 whatever that means. Other things along the same lines are said about it that give us a trace at least2043 of what it is. But there’s something laughable about saying a person is stronger than himself. A person stronger than himself would also be weaker than himself and likewise a person weaker than himself would also be stronger, since all these expressions are referring to the same (431) person. I think what they are trying to say is that in the single man,2044 talking about his soul, there is a nobler something and an inferior something, and that when the part that is nobler by nature holds the ignoble in check, it is this that the expression “stronger than himself” refers to—the expression is used after all by way of praise. But when under the influence of a bad upbringing or association of some kind2045 the nobler part is overpowered by the massive force of the inferior, since it is itself the smallest part, their theory provides them a formula for censure by calling the man in this state “weaker than himself” and unbridled.
Apply this to our youthful city. Definitely you will find the one condition there since you could rightly say she would be “stronger than herself” given the fact that the superior part of her rules over the inferior part, and that therefore she deserves to be called temperate or “master of herself.”2046 Furthermore, the fact is2047 that all the desires and pleasures and pains,2048 multitudinous and variegated as they are, are easy to find in children and in women and in house-servants, not to mention the majority of those reputed to be above such slavish behavior but who are in fact quite trivial persons,2049 whereas in few persons will you meet the plain and moderate2050 emotions which are guided by measured thought aided by intelligence and a right sense of things,2051 namely in the people best born and best raised.2052 This same distribution is there for you to see in our city, too. There, too, the desires of the many and trivial people are kept under control by the desires and mindfulness2053 that reside in the smaller and more decent group. If ever a city deserves to be designated a master over pleasures and desires and master over herself, this one does. As such she also deserves to be called temperate according to this whole argument.
Moreover if there is any city where the rulers and the ruled have the same opinion as to who should be ruling, it will be so in this one, too.2054 If we ask which party exhibits the temperance in holding this opinion, we would answer that both do, so that our intuition a moment ago was right: temperance is by nature like being in tune.2055 After all it was by dint of residing in part of the city that bravery and wisdom rendered the whole city wise and (432) brave,2056 but this virtue does not operate this way. It spans2057 the city as a whole through each individual person and brings them all in concert as if they were singing the same song, the weakest, the strongest, and those in the middle,2058 reconciling all the ingredients, whether the wisdom of the one group or the strength contributed by the other, or the superiority in numbers or wealth or any other aspect of that sort that is contributed by the others.2059 This kind of likemindedness we are quite justified in identifying with temperance, namely, an harmonious resolution between the naturally superior and the naturally inferior elements as to which of the two should in fact2060 be in charge, whether in the city or in the individual man.
So now we have made out three in our city as best we can.2061 As for the remaining one by which a city can share still more in virtue, what shall our account be? I refer of course to justice.
“Of course.”
What we need to do is gather close together and encircle our city as if we were hunters, and pay close attention that justice does not slip past us, nowhere to be seen and therefore no-how understood. She must be here somewhere. Look closely and try to catch sight of her, in case2062 you see her before I do, so that you can point her out to me.
“I wish I could; but I’ll be more help if I follow right behind you, ready to look in the direction you indicate.”
Follow then, and pray2063 for help along with me.
“So I will. Lead the way.”
Oof! The going is tough here and the path dark with shadows. That is,2064 the problem is obscure and hard to think through. Still, we must press on.
“Yes, keep going.”
“I saw something,” Socrates tells us, and then he turns back to Glaucon to say, “Look! Look! maybe we have found a clue and she won’t be eluding us after all!”
“Great news!”
What utter boobs we’ve been!
“Huh?”
It seems she has been bandied2065 about by us from the very beginning and we didn’t see her because we are so ridiculous, as when you find yourself searching for something you already have in your hand. We weren’t seeing her right in front of us because we were looking off somewhere. That’s why we missed it.
“What are you saying?”
This: I think although we have said it and heard it2066 before, we are failing to recognize that in a way we have been discussing justice ourselves.
“Somebody wants to know what you are talking about, and he’s finding your prelude a bit tedious.”
(433) Alright then, listen and see if it makes any sense if I say2067 that the behavior we set down at the beginning as being necessary, when we were founding our city, this behavior is what justice is, or at least a certain type of it is. At the start we said—and we reiterated it several times as you will remember—that each individual must practice just one of the city’s tasks, the task to which his nature best suits him.
“So we did.”
And at the same time the idea that minding one’s own business in the sense of not being a busybody should be justice, is a commonplace we have heard many times before not to mention how often we've said it, ourselves.2068
“So we have.”
Well there you have it. It might be coming into focus that this is what justice is, this minding your business. Do you know how I get there?
“No. Do tell.”
The complement of the three things that we have found in the city, of temperance and bravery and mindfulness, is this I think, a thing whose function or role it is to enable the other three to take root in the city and if once they take root to preserve them, as long as it is present.2069 But we also said that justice would be the one left over after the three had been picked out.2070
“Yes and that was necessarily true.”2071
But if we had to decide which of the three engendered virtues does the most to make the city virtuous, the decision would not be easy. Shall it be the likemindedness2072 shared by the rulers and the ruled alike? Shall it be the sense of what is to be feared and what is not, and its preservation by a lawful attitude we have engendered in the soldiers? Shall it be the mindfulness and vigilance that inheres in the rulers? Or is it rather this that makes the city virtuous by its presence, its presence in the child and in the woman, the slave and the freeman and the worker and the ruler and the ruled:2073 that each was keeping to his own business as the single person he is and was not trying to do many things at once and invade the province of others?
“To decide between them would be difficult, indeed!”
So, we may conceive this ability of each person to mind their own business as on a par with the others for the contribution it makes to the city’s virtue–on a par with her wisdom, temperance and bravery; but at the same time justice as the fourth in the list of the four virtues2074 also has equal footing with these other three. Moreover, try the following argument for this point. Would you assign the job of rendering decisions at the bar of justice2075 to our rulers?
“Of course.”
And will the leading goal and purpose in all their decisions be that the individual parties neither possess what does not belong to them nor be deprived of what does?
“No other than this.”
Since this is the just outcome?
“Yes.”
And so by this2076 argument, too, it would be consistent2077 to argue that the possession of one’s own (434) things and the pursuit of one’s own job is what justice is.2078 See if you think as I do. Think of a carpenter trying to do what a cobbler does or a cobbler trying to do what a carpenter does and of them exchanging their tools or arrogating each other’s privileges2079 to themselves. Or think of one practicing both by taking on all of the other’s things: do you think this would greatly harm the city?”
“Not much.”
But say he is a craftsman by nature or some other kind of money-maker,2080 and that in the midst of his life, enticed2081 by money or influence or the prospect of power or something else of this sort,2082 he tries to make his way into the ranks of the soldier class;2083 or say he is already a member of that class but wishes to make his way into the subclass of those who make and preserve the law even though he is unworthy of the station. Say these two go as far as to take on the other men’s tools and arrogate their privileges to themselves or that they try as one man to take on all the jobs at once. I’d bet you would agree with me that this kind of shifting and meddling would spell the destruction of the city.
“I would completely agree.”
So the three types of meddling and shifting into one another inflict the very greatest harm on our city and would quite correctly be called the most intense2084 kind of evil-doing.
“Obviously.”
And yet the greatest sort of evil-doing would rightly be called injustice, so meddlesomeness is injustice. Let’s go back and argue the other side of it. For the business class, the helper class, and the guardian class all to be “homebodies”2085 if you will, each doing what is his own job in the city, this would as the opposite of that, and would be justice, and would render the city just.
“To me this seems to be exactly the way it is.”
2.B.7: Application of the Civic Justice to the Individual
Let’s not write it in stone as of yet, but if this characteristic should also be agreed to be justice when it enters2086 the individual man then at least we will have reached a consensus:2087 what else would be left for us to say? Otherwise2088 we will try another investigation. But as it is let us complete the line of investigation we conceived of originally, that if we first try to contemplate justice off2089 in some larger thing that has it, then it might be easier to get a sense of what it is like in a single man.2090 We decided this larger thing would be a city and so we founded the best city we could on the conviction that justice would certainly be present if it was a virtuous one. So let us now transfer2091 what came into view2092 off in the city onto the individual man. If the analogy receives our approval, we shall have finished a very fine study. Otherwise, if justice should look different in the individual, we will have to go back and review our construction of the city and find where we went wrong. In fact we might cast some light on the (435) problem by rubbing both the two lines of inquiry together the way we make fire by rubbing two sticks together: maybe this would give us a flash of insight as to what justice is. And then, once the answer has become clear, we can seek to confirm it among ourselves.2093
“You are proceeding in a methodical2094 manner: please do what you have proposed.”
Now if someone refers to a thing that is the same as another as being in a given case larger or smaller than the other,2095 is it in that case unlike the other in the way that it was the same as it, or alike in that way?
“Alike.”
Thus if you compare a just man to a just city he will not differ from it at all in respect to the characteristic of justice they both share, but will be alike?
“Alike.”
Now the city appeared to become just when each of the three natural classes2096 in it were doing their own jobs and minding their own business, and temperate and brave and wise by dint of other kinds of feelings or dispositions in these same three classes. Just so, in the case of the individual shall we expect that if he has these same three natural types or aspects2097 present in his soul,2098 by dint of their having the same feelings and dispositions2099 as the city’s constituents, he correctly deserves the same designations as appeared in the city?
“Logic requires it.”
Once again2100 we find ourselves in a pretty pass,2101 Glaucon, if we now have to decide whether the soul has or does not have three corresponding parts.
“Don’t despair, Socrates. As they say, ‘Fine things are difficult.’”2102
That has become quite obvious! I just want to voice the opinion that by the methods we are now using2103 it is unlikely we will achieve a really fine treatment of this question. It’s another path that leads to that answer, both slower and longer. Still, to continue by this method will at least be on a par with the sorts of answers and questions we have reached up to this point.
“So much would be welcome. Indeed I for one would be quite satisfied for our present purposes.”2104
I too will be quite as satisfied for my own purposes.
“Well then don’t lose your head of steam: get on with it!”
Don’t we pretty much have to stipulate that the same characteristics or character-types2105 inhere in the individual as in the city? I don’t know where else the city might have gotten them from.2106 It would be ridiculous to think that high-spiritedness shows up in a city without coming from its individual citizens: in fact we identify this attribute with people in the region of Thrace or Scythia or almost anywhere north, just as love of learning is something people (436) most easily attribute to the environment2107 here in Athens, or the way we associate the love of money with people who live in Phoenicia or Egypt.2108 This is just the way things are and it is not difficult to see that it is so. What I find difficult2109 is the question whether we perform these three different2110 kinds of things with this selfsame aspect of ourselves, or whether there are three aspects and we use the one for the one and the other for the other. Do we learn with the one2111 and become riled up with the other of the resources within us, and do our desiring with a third one, desiring the pleasures of nutrition and sex and all the things akin to them?2112 Or is it with the soul as a whole that we do each of them one after another whenever we act?2113 This will be difficult to decide in a way that passes muster with reason.2114
Glaucon agrees this is the problem and so Socrates proposes to him2115 a way to start deciding2116 whether the same actions belong to each of the psychic elements respectively, or whether they alternate, one belonging to one and another to another.2117 It is to establish a preliminary point, that for the same thing to do or undergo opposites in the same respect and in the same relation and at the same time, is impossible. Thus if we find this kind of thing occurring in the aspects of the soul we will know that the aspects of the soul that do or undergo them are not one and the same thing but a plurality of different things.
“Hmm!” Glaucon says.2118
Watch what I am arguing.
“Well, go ahead and make the argument.”
What I meant was, can one and the same thing stand still and be in motion at the same time and in the same respect?
“No way.”
But let’s refine the point now so that we do not have a falling out as we advance further in the argument.2119 Someone could say, of a man who is standing still but moving his arms and his head, that one and the same man was immobile and moving at the same time, but I fancy we’d say that isn’t the correct way to describe the situation but rather to say that one aspect2120 of him was at rest and one aspect was in motion. The man who made that argument could then add an entertaining subtlety to his case2121 and bring up children’s tops that as a whole2122 are at rest and at motion, held as they are by a pin in one and the same place but spin around it—and likewise anything else that moves in a circle but does not change its location. We will not accept this account either, in this case on the grounds that it is not in the same respects2123 within themselves that they are, at that moment, both at rest and in motion, but rather that they have within themselves a straight (vertical) aspect and a circular (horizontal) aspect2124 and that with respect to the straight they are at rest while in the circular aspect they are moving rotationally, whereas if at some other moment the thing should begin to lean with respect to the straight2125 in any direction—forward, backward, to the right, or to the left—at the same time that it is rotating, that then it is at rest in no way. None of these clever challenges will perplex us therefore, nor ever persuade us that something, if it is one and (437) the same thing, at the same time and in the same respect and the same relation could undergo or be or do opposites.2126
“They certainly won’t bother me, at least,” says Glaucon.2127
To avoid getting forced into a tedious and lengthy scrutiny of each and all of these quibbling controversies2128 merely to prove them false, let us make our start2129 the belief that this is true so as to move to the next point, with the agreement that if ever the matter should appear otherwise2130 then we’ll have to let everything go that we were able to2131 infer from it.
Glaucon agrees and Socrates moves on to apply the principle. Nodding yes and shaking the head no,2132 pursuing something to acquire it and avoiding it, drawing something near and repelling it from oneself2133—these all belong in the group of opposites2134 (whether they be actions or passions does not affect their being opposites). Moreover, thirst and hunger and in short all desires, as well as consenting or choosing deliberately—these all we would place in the former group. That is, in concrete cases we will say that the soul of a desiring man either “pursues” that which it desires or that it “draws to itself” the thing it chooses to have, or in turn that to whatever extent it consents that the thing should be made available to it is “giving the nod” or saying yes about that thing to itself as though someone had put a question to it, revealing thereby its desire2135 to get it.2136 Conversely choosing not and denying consent and feeling no desire2137 we would place in the category of her “repelling” and driving something off from herself and all the other contraries of those.2138
Given all this, let us say there is a common aspect among desires as a group, and that among them considered separately2139 the ones most easy to grasp and talk about are the ones we call thirst and hunger. The one is a desire for drink and the other for food. The question is whether thirst, as such, is a desire in the soul for anything more than for what we have just said? Is thirst a thirst for a warm drink as opposed to a cold one, or for a large drink or a small one, or in general for a drink of any specific kind? Or shall we say instead that if heat is added to the thirst, it would bring on2140 a desire for coolness in addition to the desire for drink, and if coldness a desire for warmth?2141 And that if by the compresence of a large quantity the thirst became a large thirst, it would be for a large one, and if it became small, one for a small one?2142 The fact of being thirsty2143 in and of itself could never ever2144 turn into a desire other than what it is its nature to be, a desire for drink per se, and so also the fact of being hungry a desire for food per se.2145
“That’s how I take it,” Glaucon responds. “In itself each desire is a desire only for the object its nature is for; for this kind or that is the added elements.”2146
(438) So now don’t go letting somebody harass you2147 into thinking we are being less than perspicuous, by claiming that nobody desires drink but always a worthwhile drink, nor food but food worth eating. Everybody of course2148 desires the thing that works, so that if thirst is a desire it is a desire for a drink that will do the job, a good version of what is thirst's inherent nature to desire, as is the case with all the other desires also.
“Yes2149 that fellow’s argument could appear to have some substance.”
But his argument is defeated by a more general and pre-emptive argument that whatever is such as to be “of” something, the qualified version of that thing is such as to be “of” a something similarly qualified, whereas if unqualified the thing is simply “of” the unqualified something.
Glaucon does not get it.2150
Well you get that the larger is such as to be larger “than”2151 something, don’t you? Larger than the smaller, no? But also the much larger is larger than the much smaller, and the larger at such and such time will be larger than the thing that is smaller at that same time. And so it is with the more “in relation to” the less, twice as much in relation to half as much, and heavier in relation to lighter and faster in relation to slower, as well as the hot in relation to the cold and all the things like these.
“That much I get.”
What about types of knowledge? Isn’t it the same here? Knowledge per se is knowledge of learning per se, or however we should style the thing that knowledge is “of.” But knowledge of a certain kind of thing or quality2152 is of that certain quality or certain kind of thing. For instance when the knowledge of making a house came into existence it differed from other kinds of knowledge in such a way that led to it being called “housebuilding.” This name arose from nothing but the specific quality of the knowledge that set it apart from all the others. So it was the “of what type of thing” it was knowledge that made it into the type of knowledge it is in itself. And the case is similar for the other arts and sciences.
“Yes it is.”
Alright then you can say this is what I was trying to say a moment ago, now that you get my meaning, that anything that is such as to be “of” something is, if taken alone and by itself, “of” that thing taken by itself and alone, but if taken as qualified, is “of” that thing as qualified.2153 And I am not trying to say2154 that the qualification of the thing they are “of” maps back onto the thing, which would give the odd result that a knowledge “of” the healthy and the sick would be a knowledge in itself healthy and sick, and that of the bad and good would itself be bad and good.2155 I am only saying that if the object is qualified (in this case the healthy and the sick), the knowledge of it becomes qualified also. The qualification results in the knowledge no longer being called simply “knowledge” but, by virtue of this qualification being added, “medical knowledge.”2156
“I get your meaning and agree.”
(439) So to return to the case of thirst, wouldn’t you place it into the category of things that are “for” a certain something determined by their nature?2157 Thirst, that is, is—
“For drink,” Glaucon volunteers.
And if it is for a qualified kind of drink it becomes a thirst qualified in some way, whereas thirst taken by itself is neither for a lot nor for a little, nor for a good or bad drink,2158 nor for a drink qualified in any way. Rather the thirst for drink as such is thirst alone and thirst as such and is so by its nature as thirst. From this it follows that the soul of a man who thirsts, insofar as he thirsts, is looking to do nothing else than to drink, and desires only this and has an impulse only for this. And so, when2159 something pulls her in the opposite direction while she is thirsting, it would be a second something in her, different from the thing that for its part2160 was doing the thirsting, animalistically2161 driving her toward drinking. For we deny that the same part could act2162 contrary to the same part in the same respect. Likewise it would be better to say of the archer not that his arms push away and draw back the bow,2163 but that the arm that is doing the pushing away is one arm and the one that is doing the pulling back is an other and different2164 one.
Now there certainly are times when people thirst but refuse to drink.2165 We should account for this by saying that there is within the soul of such people an element that says yea to drink and another that says nay,2166 a second element that masters the bidding one.2167 And isn’t it the case that when a preventing element arises in the soul it arises out of calculation and reason, whereas the forces of pushing and drawing approach it through passions and diseases?2168
“So it seems.”
Thus it is not without reason2169 that we will expect these elements to be distinct from and other than each other, and call the one by which the soul reasons the “rational” element and the one by which she feels eros and hungers and thirsts and finds herself stunned by the other appetites2170 “irrational and appetitive,”2171 the companion of satiations and pleasures.
“Not without reason but with good cause would we adopt this way of looking at it.”
Accordingly, then, we have distinguished two types of thing as elements within the soul. As to the element of will and spirit -- the thing that is by which we feel anger -- is this a third or would you consider it similar in kind to one of these two?
“Perhaps it is like the second, the appetitive.”2172
I once heard a story that makes me think otherwise, about a certain Leontius the son of Aglaïon, how he was walking up from the Peiraeus one day along the path outside the eastern wall, and noticed there were some corpses laid out by the executioner, and how he was feeling a desire to look at them but then also became peeved at himself (440) and tried to dissuade himself from doing so.2173 For a good while the battle raged within him, as he shielded his vision; but in the end, overcome by desire, opening his eyes wide, running up to the corpses,2174 “Take yourselves2175 a good look, you wretches!” he said. “Drink in your fill2176 of this splendid2177 sight!”
“I’ve heard that story, too.”
This story shows how anger can on occasion be at war with the pleasures, as if it were one thing at war with another. And we see the same thing elsewhere too, whenever the pleasures try to force a person against his reason. We see the man berating himself and enraged by the element within that is trying to force him, as though the spirited element had allied itself with the reason in a faction against the desires. Whereas to witness it ever making common cause with the desires to work against the reason and its decision that one must not behave so, that I think you would deny you ever see taking place within yourself nor in anybody else either.
“By Zeus I would deny it.”
What about the case when somebody thinks he is committing an unjust act? The more noble the man the less he is able to become angry, despite the pains of hunger and cold and all the rest that he might be subjected to by a man he believes is acting justly in making him feel this way2178—or, as I might put it, his spirit is not wont to be aroused against that man. Whereas what if he believes he has been treated unjustly? Doesn’t the spirit within him fume and grate and take up arms for the cause he judges to be just? Holding steadfast through hunger and cold2179 and all other such suffering he achieves victory, and veers from the path of noble behavior not once until either he succeeds or he succumbs or else, called off by his companion, reason, the way a dog is called off by his shepherd, he can return to calm and rest.
“The spirit is quite alike to this; but let me remind you2180 that it was to dogs we had likened our helpers when we set it down they should hearken to the rulers as to shepherds of the city.”
My meaning exactly! But would you add what I would, that things have turned out the very opposite of what we guessed a moment ago about the spirited element? Then we thought it might be part of the appetitive aspect, but now we are saying that is far from true and that in the factions within the soul the spirit marshals its arms on the side of the rational aspect. Now we must ask if it is other than this, in turn, or is it part of the rational, so that again the soul has not three aspects within it but two, the rational and appetitive? Or rather, just as the city had three species2181 within it—the (441) moneymakers, the assistants, and the counsellors2182—so likewise in the soul this spirited element is a third aspect, by its nature an assistant to the rational element as long as its upbringing does not destroy it.
“Necessarily it is a third aspect.”2183
So it would be, if it should become plain that the spirited element is a different thing from the rational as it became plain it was a different thing from the appetitive.2184
“But for that to become plain is an easy matter,” Glaucon offers. “The fact2185 is, one can see in children that when they are first born they are well equipped with spirit, whereas some of them barely ever attain a share of reason, though most get it after a while.”
Yes—a nice argument.2186 One can observe the same thing in beasts.2187 And then there is that line from Homer we mentioned before,
He beat himself in the chest and thus addressed his heart …
There it is clear as day that Homer depicts the element that does the beating as distinct from the element being beaten,2188 as something that reasons and takes stock of the better and worse distinct from something that is subject to irrational moods.
“So true.”
And so step by step we have kept our head all the way through,2189 and reached an agreement founded on likelihood, that the same kinds2190 are found in the city and the same in the soul of each individual, kinds equal also in number. As such it follows that the way a city was wise and by what part of itself it was wise, so also and by the same part must the individual be wise; and that the way an individual is brave and in the part of himself he is brave, in this part and in this way the city also must be brave; and so on, with the other virtues in both cases.2191
Thus in respect to justice, I think we will be agreeing that a man will be just in the same way we found a city to be.
“This too follows, with inexorable logic.”
But let’s be sure2192 we haven’t forgotten how the city was just, how when we considered her a moment ago we saw that2193 it was by virtue of the parts inside her keeping to their own tasks—all three of them—that she was just.
“I’d say we haven’t forgotten this.”
So then it is incumbent upon us to recognize that when it comes to each of us2194 as individuals, whenever the distinct parts within us keep to their own tasks, the individual will be a just person in the sense that he too will be doing what is his business to do.
“Incumbent it is upon us to be mindful of this.”
Now what it befits the rational element in us to do is to rule, by virtue of its being wise and prudent with regard to the needs of the soul as a whole, whereas what befits the spirited element is to be at its beck and call and fight on its behalf. As we said the combination and mixture of music and gymnastics will harmonize these two2195 with (442) each other by inspiring attention in the one and nourishing it with beautiful thoughts and studies,2196 at the same time that it relaxes the other with encouraging words, and tames it with harmony and rhythm.2197 Nourished and educated and taught in this way truly2198 to excel at their own special tasks, this twain of elements will preside2199 over the appetitive aspect, which constitutes the mass portion2200 of the soul in each man and the one least easily satiated by material things,2201 facts the two of them will monitor most closely lest it fill itself up with the so-called pleasures of the body and expand and become strong and then might no longer keep to its own respective work but seek to enslave and rule over2202 elements it is not suited by its own nature to rule, and thereby might ruin the whole fabric of life for all.2203 And against external enemies, also, aren’t these two ideally suited to protect the entire soul and body, the one formulating a plan and the other carrying it out on the battlefield and achieving it with its bravery.
Likewise then in the case of bravery,2204 we will call the individual man brave because of this part – that is, whenever the spirited part in him runs the gauntlet of pains and pleasures preserving and defending the instructions it has received from his reasonings regarding what is critical and what is not; and wise because of that very small part that we just described as ruling2205 within him and passing down the instructions, that for its own part2206 has within itself the knowledge of the true interest of each part and of the common fate they share;2207 and temperate by the friendship and harmony they enjoy with each other when the ruling principle among them and the two of them that it rules share the opinion that it is the rational element that must rule and are free from faction with it.
“Temperance is nothing other than this whether you wish to speak of a city or an individual.”2208
So, as to our main topic, the way or the sense in which2209 the individual will be just accords with our much-stated principle. I would hazard to say that the portrait of justice we now have reached retains every feature2210 we saw2211 it having in its civic version, so that we have no cause think there is a justice other than this.2212 I could always2213 add some more vulgar support for our conclusion, support we can administer in case some aspect in the soul is still at odds.2214 For instance if we were asked about our city and about the individual who by his nature and education is its analogue, whether it, and he, would be likely to embezzle a deposit of silver or gold entrusted to his (443) safekeeping,2215 couldn’t we answer that nobody and no state is more likely to do so than those that are unlike ours? And as for pillaging temples and theft and treachery, whether in the private life of the individual among his friends or the public life of the city,2216 wouldn’t our just city and just individual be exempt from such behavior? Nor could they prove untrustworthy in any way whatsoever,2217 whether in treaties or in personal agreements.2218 Adultery withal, or disregard for their parents, or neglecting their gods2219—these you would expect from anybody else before them. And the reason in every instance is that each aspect of himself that is a part within him is doing what belongs to it to do in connection with ruling and being ruled. Would you then still look for justice to be something else than2220 this power that produces such men and cities as behave in this way?
Glaucon would not, so that Socrates can conclude:
Our dream then has all come true, the idea we said we had had an inkling of, how perhaps, with the guidance of some deity, at the very beginning of our construction of the state had hit upon the very principle and character of justice.2221 And yet2222 what we saw then was merely a likeness of justice—helpful nonetheless2223—the notion that it was proper for a shoemaker to make shoes and do nothing else, and a builder to build, and so forth. The truth of the matter was always this, as it appears, that justice does indeed resemble this,2224 but it concerns not the external conduct of one’s business, but the internal action of what is truly one’s own2225 self and truly his business, that the individual2226 disallows the distinct parts of himself to practice alien jobs nor allows the separate groups or types2227 within himself to interfere with each other’s work, but places his inner house2228 in order, to rule with one part of himself and be ruled with the other, to achieve grace and friendship within himself, to fit the three parts of himself neatly into one and harmonize them like a major triad along with all the other notes of the scale.2229 All this he will bind together and integrate into his single selfhood, temperate and tempered, and when it comes to action withal,2230 whether it have to do with the acquisition of wealth or taking care of his body, or for that matter some civic duty or private business,2231 he will adopt the view that any act is just and beautiful2232 that preserves this inner state and abets it, and will count as (444) wisdom whatever knowledge determines such action, but will count as unjust whatever act tends2233 to weaken it and as ignorance whatever opinion dictates a man to act that way.
“What you have said is completely true,2234 Socrates!”
Alright then, as to the just man and city and as to justice2235 and what it truly is within each of them, if we say we have discovered it I fancy we will not appear to be deceived. So we can move on to injustice.2236 It would need to be in turn a kind of faction among the three parts, a meddlesomeness, a sticking one’s nose into the other’s business and a revolt by one part against the entire soul so as to take over the seat of rule2237 for which it is not suited, its actual nature making it suitable for the role of slave2238 to the part that rules by its very nature.2239 This is the sort of thing we can expect to say, and that the mindless confusion of these parts and their unmoored wanderings2240 are injustice and licentiousness, cowardice and stupidity, indeed baseness in all its forms.2241
As for unjust acts and doing injury,2242 and conversely doing good, what all these really are is already clear in detail,2243 if we can rely on having secured the truth about injustice and justice. They are no different for soul than healthy and unhealthy acts are for the body. Healthy acts after all engender health and unhealthy engender disease; so likewise just behavior engenders2244 justice in the soul and unjust behavior injustice. Engendering2245 health is a matter of ordering the bodily elements to control and be controlled by each other in accordance with nature, whereas engendering disease is to mix up the order of ruler and ruled2246 against nature. Likewise, engendering justice is a matter of ordering the psychic elements to control and be controlled by each other in accordance with nature, whereas engendering injustice is to mix up the order of ruler and ruled against nature.2247 Virtue2248 would therefore be a kind of health and beauty and wellness2249 of the soul, whereas vice is disease, ugliness, and weakness; and good practices2250 lead to the acquisition of virtue whereas ugly ones lead to vice.
Now that we have come this far all that remains is the question whether it pays more2251 to act justly and (445) practice fine things and be a just person, excluding any consideration of whether people notice you really are this way; or to be unjust and act unjustly on the stipulation that one is not caught and forgoes the benefit of being punished.2252
“Well it seems that question2253 has by now become laughable,” Glaucon now volunteers, “once you realize that when body’s inner state decays, life becomes unlivable no matter how much you have of food and drinks, or riches, or rule.2254 Shall we imagine2255 that when the inner condition of the very thing with which a man does his living becomes disordered and feeble, life would still be worth living2256 as long as the person gets to do what he wants except for that one thing that will release him from vice and injustice and enable him to acquire justice and virtue2257—given that that is the nature of their cases as we have now seen?”
Laughable indeed,2258 Socrates replies. And yet since we have come all this way we should not quit before we come to see as clearly as possible just how true2259 this conclusion really is. Come along further and see now the full spectrum of vice in all2260 its kinds, a thing by my lights full2261 worthy to behold. In truth I seem to see, from this high vantage point our reasoning has brought us to,2262 a single kind of virtue but a countless array of vices of which four deserve particular mention. As many kinds there are of constitutions so many kinds of souls there may well be, namely five. The first constitution is the one we have lately described and it goes by either of two names: if there arises in it a single man more excellent than the other rulers it is a kingdom; if there are several it is an aristocracy. But still the two are one type, since the number does not require us to change anything of substance in2263 the laws as long as the ruler follows the manner of education we prescribed.
END OF BOOK FOUR
Socrates continues speaking without a dramatic break, directly following up his previous remark.2264 We may wonder why the break in books occurs here, but soon enough we will learn.
(449) Now this kind of city and constitution2265 I would call good, and this kind correct2266 as well as the man of this kind, whereas I would say the others are bad and fall short2267 if we are to measure them against it, both on the civic plane, in terms of the city’s organization, and on the level of the individual man and the makeup of the type2268 of his soul, there being four varieties.
Glaucon asks him to describe the four types and Socrates tells us he got underway doing so and telling how, as he thought, they evolve from one another,2269 when Polemarchus, who was seated behind Adeimantus, reached out and grabbed Adeimantus by the shirt at his shoulder, pulled him toward him, and leaned in so he could whisper something into his ear. All Socrates heard was, “So shall we let go2270 or what shall we do?”
“Hardly!” Adeimantus answered Polemarchus, in full voice; so Socrates had to ask, Just what won’t you let go?
“You!” he said.
And2271 just what do you mean by that?
“You’re slacking, it seems to us. A whole topic, and by no means a minor one, you are pushing under the rug to avoid it treating it in detail; and you imagine that you will get by with passing it over with a mere mention, clumsily I would say,2272 as if everyone knew that the maxim ‘Friends share the things of friends’ could apply also to their wives and children!”
Wasn’t I correct in saying so, Adeimantus?
“Sure—but this ‘correct’ of yours needs just as much explanation in this connection as it does in any other.2273 Tell us the type or character of the sharing. There could be many of these after all. You won’t slip past telling us what you2274 have in mind, I assure you: we have been sitting here patiently2275 waiting for you to give us a description of how the breeding2276 of children is to be managed, and then once they are born how they are to be raised, and your entire picture2277 of this communism of wives and children you speak of. We think that whether this is dealt with correctly2278 or incorrectly will play a large and telling2279 role in the constitution and the city. Since you were about to move on to a new kind of constitution before you had finished with this one, we reached the decision that you (450) overheard us reach, not to let you go on until you have given as full a treatment of this part of your theory as you have of the others.”
“I join in voting the resolution also,” Glaucon chimed in.
“Give up, Socrates,” Thrasymachus added. “It’s a landslide.”2280
The company has succeeded to interrupt the proceedings and Socrates acquiesces and at great length (450A-451B) warns them of the gravity of their interruption, which among other things suggests the digression from the program might be lengthy:
Do you know what have you done in stopping me? Can you realize how big a discussion you are stirring up about our constitution, a discussion that will take us all the way back to the beginning? For my part I was overjoyed to think I was done with the description of it,2281 and satisfied if people would let it lie the way it had been laid down. But now you’ve done you know not what! In calling me to task you are stirring up a beehive of trouble you can’t imagine, something I had hoped I could leave out2282 and avoid a scandal. 2283
“And you thought my friends came here to pan for gold rather than to hear arguments,” 2284said Thrasymachus.
Arguments, yes, but not too long.
“Life itself is not long enough for arguments as important as these,” Glaucon retorts.2285 “So don’t worry about us: press on and treat the questions we’ve put to you any way you see fit. What is the nature of the communism our2286 guards will practice with regard to children and spouses and to child care of the young, during the time between their birth and their education proper when the demands on the parents’ time is maximal. Try and tell us how this will be managed.”
To go through it is a tall task, my happy friend,2287 involving much that is even harder to believe than what we have gone through already. Whether our arrangement is possible would first be doubted, and even if possible, whether it would be the best arrangement. Hence one hesitates even to bring these matters up since to company less friendly2288 we’d look like we are talking about mere dreams.2289
“No need to shrink from it. Your audience is not unsympathetic, nor unduly skeptical, nor ill-disposed toward you.” 2290
Clearly you want to encourage me but you’re doing the opposite of what you want to do.2291 If I believed I was a person who knew what he2292 was talking about your encouragement would be welcome. To speak with knowledge among men serious and friendly about matters most important and dear to the heart2293 is a thing both comfortable and stimulating, whereas to speak without (451) certainty, searching and talking at the same time as I am, is disheartening and scary,2294 not because I might be laughed at (that’s a childish concern2295), but because if the truth eludes me not only will I err but I’ll lead my friends astray along with me, in an area where one can least afford to be deluded. I’ll pay my homage to Adrastus,2296 Glaucon, in connection with what I am about to say. I have a deep sense2297 that manslaughter is a lesser sin than being a deceiver about beauty and goodness and justice as they are preserved in our traditions.2298 It would be better to run such a risk among enemies than friends.2299 Thanks a lot for encouraging me.2300
This last piece of rueful irony gets a laugh out of Glaucon: “If what you say does discomfit2301 us, still we’ll acquit you of it as from a charge of murder and leave you uncontaminated and clear of any charge that you are a ‘deceiver.’2302 Buck up and speak.”
If the charge of manslaughter is dropped against a man he’s left untainted according to our law, and perhaps the same would apply here as well.2303 We have to go back to issues we perhaps should have treated in the previous context. We could make it all good for now by imagining that since we have finished the manly drama it’s now time to move on to the feminine one,2304 especially given your challenge that we do so.
For men2305 with the inborn nature and education we have specified there is no other proper2306 way to manage having wives and children2307 than to keep2308 to the path we set them on at the beginning. We had conceived of ourselves setting them up as guards of a flock:2309 let’s give them a way to manage childbirth and nursing that follows suit with such guards as those, and see whether it seems appropriate.
Now as to guard-dogs that are female, do we suppose they should join in guarding whatever the male dogs were assigned to guard, and join them in the hunting and take part in all other activities, or do we suppose that the females are to hang around the house and are unable to join in because of their birthing and nursing of the young pups, and leave it to the male dogs to do all the work and caretaking involved with the flocks?
“They are to join in with them in everything,” Glaucon replies without hesitation, “with the proviso that they are weaker while the males are stronger.”
Well, if in general you cannot employ the same animal for the same task without giving it the same upbringing and education,2310 then if we are going to assign the same tasks to the women and (452) the men2311 their education will have to be the same. But2312 the education we gave the men consisted of music and gymnastics. Therefore we have to give these same two arts to the women, including the military training,2313 and they must practice2314 them the same.
“Seems so, from the argument you are making.”
Socrates notices Glaucon’s milder assent2315 and suggests that a lot of things might look laughable in connection with the policies we are now discovering in argument, if they are become the standard practice.2316 To this Glaucon strongly agrees so Socrates follows up by asking which of the spectacles he envisions2317 as the most ridiculous? Or need I ask? Isn’t it the spectacle of naked women working out in the wrestling room right alongside the men, not just the younger women but the older ones as well,2318 like those old men you see in the gymnasium at their workouts, frisky and wrinkled, and unconcerned how horrible they look?
“Yes by Zeus that would look ridiculous, by current standards at least.”
And yet now that we have embarked on talking the thing through2319 we mustn’t fear a whole range of wisecracks the comedians might make in prospect of this alteration of the norm becoming a reality, cracks about the gymnasiums and the musical training and of course the way they handle weapons and mount horses.2320 We based our argument on principles and now we have to continue its course through the rough part of our law, and plead with them to forgo doing their job this time and to act serious instead, reminding them that it was not so long ago, after all, that the Greeks shamed and ridiculed something most foreigners still ridicule to this day, a man being seen naked. When first the Cretans took up gymnastics and then the Lacedaimonians, the clever among us could still turn it into comedy,2321 but once people began to practice the kinds of things that are involved in gymnastics it soon became obvious to them that shedding one’s clothes is better than trying to stay covered up. What had seemed ridiculous in sight was simply wiped away by what was revealed to be best in thought.2322 The moral is, the man is a fool who believes anything is ridiculous besides the bad, and so is the man who sets about ridiculing any spectacle as laughable other than the spectacle of a mindless and vicious person, or zealously keeps in his sights any goal2323 as being fine other than the goal of being good.
To this complex redistribution of priorities Glaucon agrees in every detail,2324 so that Socrates can continue:
We must first reach an agreement2325 whether our project is possible and make place for a debate if others wish to argue against us, whether in jest or seriously,2326 on the question whether in (453) the case of the human species the female and the male sexes are able to share each and all of their activities or can’t share any, or they can share some and not others, and whether the present subject, warfare, falls into the one or the other category. If we proceed from this starting point we would most likely reach the surest conclusion.
We ourselves will have to make the argument for the others if we don’t want the contrary position to be eliminated by default,2327 as follows: “Socrates and Glaucon, you hardly need anyone else to argue with.2328 You yourselves accepted as a principle in your civic designs that in the city you were founding each person must do only what his nature suits him for.”
We did grant it.
”‘Well, is there any way the female is not utterly2329 different in nature from the male?’”
They do differ of course.
”‘Different, then, should be the task they are commanded to do, according to their respective natures.’”
Of course.
”‘So how is it you aren’t making a mistake now and contradicting yourselves when on the other hand you assert that the men and the women must do the same things, given the fact that their natures could not be more different2330 than they are?”
Socrates now turns to Glaucon and asks him, Will you2331 be able to defend us against this argument, my marvelous2332 friend?
“Not right offhand. What I’ll do instead is request2333 that you spell out the argument on our behalf2334 as2335 you did theirs.”
This is just the sort of thing I foresaw coming up, before, when I shrank in fear from touching on the topic of getting and raising wives and babies.2336
Glaucon thinks Socrates feared the difficulty of this argument and arguments like it:2337 “No by God, now I see why! It really doesn’t seem easy to meet.”2338
It really doesn’t.2339 Think about it this way. Whether a person falls into a pool or the wide ocean, he’s going to start swimming either way. So let’s start swimming and hope to survive the wave of the argument, in hopes some dolphin might slip under us and carry us to safety or some other miraculous salvation might come upon us.2340 Can you see any way out of it? We have granted that one and another nature requires one and another occupation, and that a woman’s nature is other than a man’s; on the other hand we are now saying these natures despite all their otherness need to practice the same occupation.2341 Isn’t this the charge2342 we are facing?
“Quite so.”
(454)Let me tell you: This antilogical2343 art is a real humdinger!2344
“Why do you say this?”
Because people fall into practicing it unbeknownst to themselves, thinking they aren’t contesting but conversing. It comes from being unable to analyze what is being said into its constituent meanings and investigating them closely but instead sticking with the mere names of things and attempting to prove the opposite of a statement made,2345 the whole thing done in the spirit of contention rather than communication.2346
“That is indeed something that happens to a lot of people. But you’re not saying it’s made its way into our present conversation are you?”2347
Absolutely. We might be involved in it right now without meaning to be. We are all riled up and eager to fight about the proposition that the same nature must not be attached to the same occupations,2348 as though the mere words of the proposition were all we needed to argue about, but we haven’t done a whit of investigation about what aspect of the natures we had in mind as making one nature different or the same as the other, nor in what relation, when we allocated one or another occupation to one or another nature, and the same occupation to the same nature.
“You’re right, we didn’t think about this.”
Well let me remind you that we could very easily2349 press the question upon ourselves2350 whether the nature of the bald man is the same as the nature of the hairy man. Isn’t it the opposite?2351 And if we accept that it is opposite, then if bald men are doing our cobbling we mustn’t allow hairy men to cobble, or if the hairy ones do then the bald ones mustn’t.
“That would be ridiculous!”2352
Ridiculous for no other reason than that our allocation was not based on any and every sameness and difference in nature. We only sought to watch out for one aspect of differentiation and assimilation among natures, the one pertinent to the occupations considered in their distinct natures. We had in mind for instance that a medical woman and a medical man have the same nature with respect to their soul, while the medical man and building man have a different nature.2353 Thus in the case of the type of people that are women and the type of people that are men, if the types appear to stand out from one another in respect to some craft or other occupation,2354 then we would have to assign one and another occupation to the one and the other. But if their relative competency seems to distinguish them only in that one area, that the female type bears the child and the male type impregnates the female, we have not moved a bit closer to having shown that the woman is different from the man for our current purposes, and so we would continue to believe that both the guards and their wives should be assigned the same jobs.2355
Our next move is to suggest to the man who is upholding the opposite position2356 that he (455) enlighten2357 us on the very point he has assumed: In relation to which craft or art or profession, among those that have a role in our civic setup, is the nature of the woman and the man different rather than the same?
“The question is only fair.”2358
Yes, and now another person might say what you just did, that to give an adequate answer offhand is not difficult, though if a person had a chance to think about it, it would be easy.2359 In that case, let’s ask the man who had been contradicting us to let us take the lead in the hope that2360 we might show him that there is no occupation that is the peculiar work of the woman in the managing of our city. “Tell us,” we will say to him: “Weren’t you thinking that the person who is naturally suited, as opposed to naturally unsuited2361 to a given task, is the one that learns it easily rather than with difficulty? And who after learning even a little soon shows himself able to find the rest on his own, as opposed to a person who even after a good deal of instruction and practice is barely able to retain what he has learned? And whose physical abilities can come to the aid of his mental direction rather than thwart it? Or is it in some other way that you would distinguish the naturally suited from the naturally unsuited in a given field?”
“Nobody would have other ways to argue for,” answers Glaucon on behalf of the opponent.
So, are you aware of any human endeavor in which the race of men is not superior in all these ways to the race of women? Need we spell out a long list2362 of fields like weaving and baking cakes and boiling stews,2363 where the female group might seem to have the edge only to suffer the greatest ridicule2364 when it is worsted?
“You are right to assert the one beats out2365 the other in virtually every field of endeavor, if you view them as groups, though in any given field many a woman is better than many a man. Still, on the whole, the position you have taken is correct.”
So we can conclude there is no particular occupation among those that play a role in settling our city that belongs to women simply because they are women, or to men because they are men. The fact2366 is, the personal characteristics requisite to the occupations are distributed over both the species, so that all occupations can be taken up by a woman and all by a man. Granted, in any endeavor the women are weaker2367 than the men but this fact by itself does not warrant that only men should be assigned the tasks. A given woman, after all, will have a doctorly nature and another will lack it, and one (456) will be musical and another unmusical. But gymnastical, are we not to say, one will be2368 and soldierly, while another is unwarlike and not philogymnastic?
“I at least will agree to this.”
What about a wisdom-loving nature and a wisdom-hating one,2369 or a spirited and a listless?2370
“These too.”
So there will also be a guardly2371 woman and another that is not—the very sort of inner nature we were looking for when we selected out the guardly ones among the men.2372 And so a woman has the same inner nature as a man for guarding the city, except that the woman’s is weaker and the man’s is stronger. And so women of this nature2373 must be selected out alongside men of this nature, to live alongside them and guard alongside them,2374 since in very fact they are meet to the task and naturally related to them.
“Quite so.”
As to occupations, we must assign the same ones to the same natures; and so we have come full circle, back to the original question, and we now agree and share the position2375 that it is not contrary to nature to assign musical and gymnastic exercises to the women among our guards.2376 Our lawmaking was far from impossible after all, nor a mere pipe dream,2377 if in very fact we were laying down laws in accordance with nature.2378 Rather, to the extent that the current way goes against what we have legislated, it goes against nature.
Glaucon agrees and Socrates can continue. Given2379 that we had set out to investigate whether our conceptions were possible and best,2380 now that we have come to agree that they are possible our next task is to reach an agreement whether they are the best. Focus on the question how a woman will become guardly. Will we have one kind of education make the men guardly and another kind make the women so, keeping in mind that the students will have the same inner nature?
“No, one kind will educate both.”
Alright then do you come with an opinion about this?
“About what?”
About a prejudice2381 you might harbor within yourself that one man is superior and the other is inferior. Or do you hold to the idea that all men are equally good?
“Not at all!”2382
So in the city we were founding, which set of men do you imagine we can look to as being the better ones, the guards who were finished2383 with the education we designed or the shoemakers who were trained2384 in the art of making shoes?
“What a ridiculous question!”2385
And you need not answer it.2386 These men are likewise the best of all the other citizens, just as the women that are guards will be the best of the women. There is no better boon to a city than that the women and men born in it be the best possible, and this will be the outcome under the influence (457) of the education in music and gymnastic that we designed. Therefore we legislated not only the possible but the best way a city can be.2387
The proof complete, Socrates can now place a bit of a picture before our eyes.2388 Those among the guards who are women must strip down, since in truth it is virtue that shall be their dress rather than clothing, and they must share the tasks of war and the city's other guardly duties, and these must be their only jobs. From among these duties the lighter ones must be given to the women rather than the men in accordance with the fact that their species is weaker. The man that laughs at the sight of naked women, though they are exercising naked for the most important of reasons, “harvests a crop of wisdom premature”2389 through his laughter, quite ignorant of what he is laughing at and what he is doing.2390 After all the finest of truths is the saying that the useful is what is truly fine, and that the harmful is what is truly ugly—a saying that will never become obsolete.2391
“I agree completely.”
Accordingly let us declare that we have eluded the first wave, as it were, that came crashing down on our legislation concerning women, by means of argument and reason.2392 We have not been utterly drowned for making the law that our guards must carry out all their duties in concert with the guardettes,2393 but rather our reason has enabled us to agree that what reason dictated is a plan both possible and beneficial.
“No small wave it was that you have eluded!”
But you’ll hardly call it large once you see the next one!
“Tell and I’ll see.”
What comes after that law and the others we have set down is the following. These women are to be shared by these men, all of them sharing all.2394 No woman is to live privately with any man. And their children, too, are to be shared: no parent may know which child is his own nor any child his parent.
“This is a much greater challenge to our belief than that was, both as to its feasibility and its very worth as a policy.”
I don’t think the worth of the policy would be disputed—that it would not be a tremendous good that wives2395 should be held in common and children too—if only it were feasible. But I do think the question of its feasibility will incite the greatest dispute.
“Both would incite stiff controversy.”
You’re arguing that the propositions are a pair.2396 I thought I would escape the one if only you thought the measure worthwhile, and all that would be left to deal with would be the other, the feasibility.
“But you didn’t get away with it. So, give an account for2397 both of them.
Uphold my case I must! But humor me just this much: let me take something of a holiday, the (458) way a lazy person is wont to let his mind wander when he’s off walking along enjoying his own company.2398 You know how they think about how much they will enjoy having something they desire, skipping over the hard thinking as to whether it would even be possible to procure it in the first place. Instead, just assuming it is there on hand they decide how to manage all the details, enjoying to think about all they will do with it once it arrives and making their already lazy souls still lazier. I too have by now been getting a little soft and would just as soon shelve that big question, how the provision could come to be, and for now would just say it were possible—if you’ll let me—and lay out a pretty picture how our rulers would manage the thing assuming the arrangement were in place, and how most excellently beneficial the practice would be, once put into practice, for our guards and for our city. This is what I’d like to investigate with you first, if you will allow it, and turn to the other question later.
Glaucon allows it, and Socrates continues the investigation. If our rulers are deserving of the name and their helpers likewise,2399 I’d think that the one group will be willing to do what they are ordered to do and the others to do the ordering, by following our explicit2400 laws in some areas and imitating our lawgiving in areas we left up to them.2401 So in the present case you, who as lawgiver have selected who will be the male guards, will now select who will be the female ones to be their mates2402 similar as far as possible in their natures. Thereupon, given their common habitation and common mess and since none of them has any private prerogative in these regards but instead all are mixed together both in their exercising and in the rest of their training, they will be driven by necessity of a natural sort, I imagine, toward intercourse.
“Necessity indeed, not the geometrical but the erotic kind,2403 which proves more keen in persuading and leading the mass of mankind about.”2404
Quite so, but whether it is mating with each other or any other behavior, to act in a disorderly way is not pious in a city of happy people nor something our guards will suffer them to do.
“To suffer it would not be just.” 2405
So it is clear the next thing we must do is to institute sacred sanctions for marriages, where we would make sacred the marriages that are the most beneficial to the city. (459) But which would these be? Answer me the following question, Glaucon. I have seen hunting dogs in your house as well as a good number of fine birds. In truth, haven’t you contrived a plan with regard to their marriages or mating? Though of course all of them are fine, some of them are better than the rest, or grow up to be. You do not breed them all alike but are particularly earnest about these best ones, and of these best ones you are most earnest not about the youngest of them nor the oldest but the ones that are closest to their prime. If they breed indiscriminately you know full well that they will become worse, whether it be your stock of birds or your dogs. The same would hold for horses or any other animal. Omigosh! This all goes to show how very sharp2406 we need our rulers to be assuming the same holds true for the human animal!
“You can assume the same holds true, but what are you worried about?”
It’s all the drugs they’ll need to use. When it comes to doctors, if their patients don’t need drugs prescribed but only need to comply with doctor’s orders as to the right regimen, we recognize that even an inconsequential doctor is sufficient. When they do need drugs we know we need a doctor who is more confident.2407 My point is, our rulers will be needing to use a lot of lies and deception, all for their subjects’ own good, things we spoke of before as being useful the way drugs can be useful.2408
‘‘And right we were to draw the analogy.”
Right as we may have been about it,2409 it plays a role in the areas of marriage and having children that is far from negligible. We have already agreed that the greatest number of matings possible must take place between the best men and the best women, and that the matings between the least consequential men and women must be kept at a minimum, and that we must nurture the offspring of the one set of pairings and not those of the other, if we are to optimize2410 the herd; and that all this has to take place without anyone knowing it except the rulers, if you also want the herd of guards to be as free from contention as possible.
“All that you say is right.”
Then holidays will be appointed by law, in which we will bring the brides together with the grooms, and sacrifices too; and songs (460) will be composed by our poets, fitting2411 to the marriages as they take place. The majority of pairings we will leave up to the rulers with the goals of preserving their numbers against the ravages of disease and war and such, and of keeping the city from becoming large or small. We’ll need a subtle system of lots so that the lesser man we mentioned above should blame his luck rather than the rulers for the way the specific yokings are assigned.2412 Conversely the better youths, for their good efforts in war and elsewhere,2413 must be given all manner of honors and trophies but also an especially generous access to the women and unions with them,2414 so that we might take full advantage of this excuse2415 to maximize the number of children such guards might rear.
“Rightly so.”2416
And when and where the children are born, the ruling constabulary will come and take them, whether it be made up of men or women or both—the ruling positions will be shared, after all, between women and men. The offspring of the good guards they will bear off to a pen and to certain feeders who live there2417 apart from the rest of the city. As to those born to the inferior and any born to the others that have a defect, the rulers will hide them away in a secret hidden place as appropriate.
“So much is in accordance with our conception2418 that the race of the guards is in fact to be kept pure.”
As for nurturing them, these same rulers will be in charge. They will bring the mothers to the pen as long as they are producing milk, using every device they can so that none can recognize which child is her own; and they will supply wet nurses too, if the mothers haven’t enough, but even here will take care that they suckle them for only a moderate time. As to watching them overnight and the rest of the more toilsome duties, these they will assign to nurses and feeders.
“The manner of childrearing you describe is a life of relative ease for the wives among the guards!”2419
So much is only appropriate. We need to move on to what we next set before ourselves,2420 that the offspring be bred when the parents are in their prime. Would you agree with me that the prime lasts about twenty years long for a woman and thirty for a man?
“Which years?”
For the woman, from the age of twenty and until she reaches forty she is prime to give birth for the city. For the man, from the time he has reached the height of his powers up to the age of fifty five he is in his prime to breed.2421
(461) “Well I would say that for both the men and the women these years are the peak years both of body and mind.”
Now if at an age older then this or younger than this a man should engage in breeding for the city, we shall declare such an error impious and unjust2422 and stigmatize him as spawning a child for2423 the city who if it goes unnoticed will be born without the guidance of the sacrifices and the prayers that are to be conducted over each and every marriage by priestesses and priests and by the city as a whole in order to ensure the hopes that from good parents even better children will be born and from useful ones even more useful.2424 We will say instead that the child was spawned in darkness out of a dangerous kind of impulsiveness.
“Rightly we shall.”
And the same law will apply if a man while still in the breeding phase of life should have sex with one of the breeding women without the ruler’s bringing them together. We shall declare that the man has brought a bastard into being for the city, unsanctioned by betrothal and unholy.2425
“Most rightly.”
On the other hand once the women and the men move beyond their prime we will release them to be with whomever they wish excepting, for the men, their daughter and their mother and the daughters and mothers of these, and excepting likewise for the women being with son or father or their sons and fathers; but even though granting them this to enjoin them earnestly to prevent any ensuing pregnancy from coming to full term, or if they are somehow forced to bear the child, to dispose of it with the understanding that such children are not to be raised.
“The provisions are moderate enough and right as far as they go, but how will they separate out which are their fathers and which their daughters?”2426
They will have no way to separate them out. Instead, measuring from the day a man first mates, all the children who are born in the tenth or even seventh month2427 later he will call sons and daughters and they will call him father; and he will call their offspring spaced by like intervals grandchildren, and those offspring conversely will call him grandfather and grandmother. And also the children that were born at the same time that those he calls father and mother bore children, these he will call his sisters and brothers, so as to prevent the eventuality of their being with each other. The law will provide for brothers to cohabit with sisters as long as the lots fall this way and also the Pythian oracle corroborates it.2428
“Perfectly proper.”
So there’s your policy regarding the communism of wives and children in our city. That it is consistent with the other provisions of our constitution and that this is by far the best way it can be, we need next to confirm, with the aid of argument and reason.2429
(462) “By Zeus we do!”
Let me suggest2430 that the best place for us to begin reaching an agreement on this point2431 is to ask ourselves what is the greatest thing we could hope to provide for our city through all our legislation and what is the greatest evil we’d want to avoid, and then to ask whether the legislation we have just formulated fits the outline of the good outcome and contravenes the outline of the bad.
“This seems the best way.”
What greater evil could we name than the one we mentioned before,2432 the city’s being torn asunder and made many cities instead of one? And what greater good than the thing2433 that binds it together and unifies it?
“None other.”
Well, the sharing of pleasures and pains unifies the city, whenever all the citizens feel similar amounts of joy at a good thing happening or pain at the same loss.2434 On the other hand isolation or privacy of feelings tends to break up the city, as when one group is devastated and the other is overjoyed by the same things happening to2435 the city and its constituent parts.2436 I’d say the question underlying these reactions is whether the citizens feel like applying the expressions “It’s mine” and “It’s not mine” to the same things at the same times, and likewise the terms “It’s alien” and “It’s not alien.” In whatever city the greatest number apply the expression “It’s mine” and “It’s not mine” to the same thing in the same way, that city has the best order. Ask yourself just which city operates most nearly the way a single man does, as when for instance one of our fingers is smacked by something.2437 The entire “community”—the body aligned2438 down along its every part with the soul so as to form a single system managed by the ruling principle within her—perceives the event and feels as being its own the pain of the part that is affected, and feels it at the same instant, so that as we put it, “The man hurts in his finger.” The same account applies to any other part of the man, whether it is the pain of a part that is suffering or the pleasure of a part that is feeling relief.2439 In the case of a city like our own, when an individual citizen suffers any good or bad thing, the city immediately recognizes the part2440 that undergoes it as something belonging to itself so as to feel pleasure as a whole or pain as a whole, as the case may be.2441
Glaucon agrees this would obtain in a city that is well ruled at least, and so Socrates can move toward summing up the paradoxical attributes they have agreed to,2442 concerning familial organization, in order to see whether the city2443 as we have constructed it has these attributes or whether another city would be have them to a greater degree. Let us ask first of all, whether there exists in the other cities a pairing2444 of the rulers and the mass, as there is in our city.
“Yes.”
(463) Now everyone refers to each other as citizens, but what is the further designation that the masses in other cities use in addressing their rulers?
“In most it is ‘masters’2445 whereas in the democratic cities they use the generic term you just used as a name:2446 ‘rulers.’”
What will it be in our city? In addition to calling their rulers citizens, what will our mass call their rulers?
“Preservers and public servants.”
And what will our rulers call the mass?
“Their paymasters and providers.”
Whereas in other cities the rulers call their masses what?
“Slaves.”
And what do the rulers call each other?
“Fellow rulers.”
Whereas ours call each other what?
“Fellow guards.”2447
Among the rulers in the other cities can you find any that address some of their “fellow rulers” as relatives but others as non-relatives?2448
“Quite a few address each other as non-relatives.”2449
And where he deems the one that is his relative to be “his own” and speaks of him this way, he deems and speaks of the non-related ones as “not his own.”
“Quite.”
But what about your2450 “guards”? Is there a single one of them who would be able to deem one of his fellow guards a non-relative, or address him that way?
“Not a one. Everybody he runs into he will address as brother or sister, father or mother, son or daughter, or as a forebear or descendant.”
Great answer! Let me ask you to take it further. Would you legislate that they must use the familial names for each other without also requiring that they behave in all the ways those names betoken, as for instance2451 in the case of the father, the way our law requires his offspring to revere him and take care of him and be heedful of him else they will be taken down a notch2452 in the eyes of gods and men as behaving in a way neither pious nor just if they behave otherwise? Will it be such admonitions as these or some others that you would have each and every citizen dun into their ears from a child,2453 not only about the persons they are admonished to recognize as fathers but about their other relatives as well?
“These are the ones they should hear. It would be laughable if the deed did not follow the utterance of familial names.”2454
We may conclude then that in comparison with all cities it will be especially in her that the citizens will sing together2455 this refrain we mentioned just now, when any individual behaves well or ill, and say that “mine own” does well, or “mine own” does ill; and (464) as we said2456 the associated pleasures and pains will follow upon the recognition and assertion of this belief. Likewise it will be especially true of our citizens that they will share and hold in common this thing they call “mine” and will especially share pleasure and pain. But the cause of these facts is this latest addition we have made in the organization of the city, the community of wives and children among the guards.
“Yes, especially.”2457
And yet we agreed that this is the most important good for a city, when we likened the well ordered city to a body and the way the part stands in relation to the whole vis-à-vis pain and pleasure,2458 so that it has become clear2459 that the most important2460 boon for our city is conferred onto it by nothing but our community of children and wives among the public servants.2461 Moreover, the provision is consistent2462 with our previous rule that these must not own private2463 houses or land or any possession, but rather must rely on others for their maintenance and must spend all that they earn for serving as guards and squirrel none of it away2464 if they are to remain real guards.2465
In sum, both what we said before and what we are arguing now makes true guards of them and keeps the city from falling asunder2466 because they call the same thing “mine own,” not one man this and another that, the one man dragging off to his house whatever he can manage to reduce to his possession and sequester from the others2467 and the other off to his, it being a different house,2468 his wife and his children also being different, which then fosters pleasures and pains that are private because they arise from private things. Instead, with one and the same attitude about what is near and dear, each and all of them strain2469 toward unanimity of experience in feelings of pleasure and pain2470 as far as that is possible. Conversely, we’ll hear nothing of lawsuits and complaints against each other, since the only thing they possess separately will be their bodies and all the rest is shared. Their situation will leave them free of all contention to the extent that contention among men arises out of the possession of money or children or family.2471 Nor2472 for that matter will they be the sort who end up in lawsuits2473 over physical assault and battery. We’ll have the policy that it is admirable and just that persons of like age2474 should defend themselves, which has the further effect of requiring them to keep their bodies in shape, (465) a policy that will also provide a way for a man who becomes angry to slake his passion rather than seek to perpetuate and extenuate it in a larger dispute. As to the older man, we have already accorded him the privilege of ruling all younger persons and chastising them,2475 and clearly a young man will not likely try any kind of violence, let alone assault,2476 against an elder, unless the rulers command it, nor I fancy treat an elder dishonorably in any other way. Against that we can rely on two guards to protect him, fear and reverence, the latter barring him from laying hands on what might be his own forebear and the former the fear that others will come to the aid of the man who suffers mistreatment, whether as his brothers or his sons or his fathers. In every way then2477 the laws will provide that the men2478 will live at peace with one another; and as long as these do not fight among themselves there is no danger that the rest of the city2479 will split into factions, either against them or amongst themselves.
These major types of conflict and disorder having been argued away Socrates dismisses the rest with an elaborate praeteritio. Propriety makes me shrink from narrating the most minor evils from which we can expect them to be exempted, the poor man’s2480 need to flatter the rich, the lean times and the weary times when people must bear holding down jobs during the years their children are infants making ends meet to feed their household, sometimes taking out a loan and other times dodging the bill-collector, and handing over whatever money you can make to the wife or to the accountant, trying to set a little something aside—all this and of this sort is too obvious and ignoble to deserve mention.2481
“They are obvious even to a blind man.”
Exempt they will be from all these things. Instead2482 they will live a life more blessed2483 than that most blessed life the Olympian victors enjoy.
“How so?”
The Olympian’s happiness2484 rests on but a small part of what these men have in store. Our2485 men’s victory is the finer one and the maintenance they receive from the public stores more complete.2486 Their victory is the salvation and preservation of the entire state; their maintenance is not dinner only2487 but everything they need in life, with which they are crowned and their children along with them, besides the honors they receive throughout their lives from their own city and the worthy burial that ripe old age will bring them upon their demise.2488
“Quite fine indeed.”
Can you recall that moment in our discussion when we were struck by the argument somebody2489 made that we hadn’t made our guards happy, (466) despite the fact they had the power2490 to take possession of everything that belonged to the citizens? We said I think that making an adjustment on their behalf was something we could postpone in case it came up later, and that our business at that time was to make the guards guards, and the city as a whole as happy as possible, rather than that out of regard for some one group to bend things in the direction of making it happy.
“I do recall it.”2491
Well how does it stand for us now about the life of the helpers?2492 If it has become visible that their life is finer and better2493 than that of the Olympian victors, I doubt that it appears to be on the level2494 of the shoemaker’s life or that of any other craftsman or the farmers.
“No, it doesn’t.”
Instead, what I said then2495 ought to be said now as well, that if our guard tries to be happy in a way that requires him to give up being a guard, and if a life so temperate and secure doesn’t satisfy him—a life we assert is best—and if instead a mindless and adolescent attitude about happiness afflicts him and impels him to use whatever strength he has to appropriate to himself anything and everything he sees around him in the city and bring it under his own roof,2496 then he will come to learn by his own experience2497 how wise Hesiod was to say that the half is more than the whole.
Glaucon’s reply is striking: “If he uses me as his counsellor he certainly will remain with the life role you have described.”
Socrates recognizes the asseverative tone: So you accept the community of wives for the men as we have described it, both as it touches the education2498 of their children and their guardianship over the other citizens, the way the women share in the duties not only by staying on guard with them in the city but also going out with them to war, like dogs alongside them at the hunt,2499 and share everything with them in every way to the extent it is possible, and that in doing this they will be doing the best thing and a thing not contrary to the nature of the female as compared to the male nor contrary to the way nature would have them relate.
“I do accept it.”
So we are left with that other matter,2500 whether after all this sort of communism is possible for the species man as it is for other animals, and if so, how.
“You took the words right out of my mouth.”2501
After all it’s surely clear2502 how they will share duties in war—that they will serve alongside the men in the army and also will muster their children into battle as many as are hardy enough, giving them the benefit that the children of parents in other occupations have, namely, being able to watch2503 what they will be called upon to do when they become fully grown. (467) In addition to watching they are to discharge minor tasks and serve as aids in any military matter, and to apprentice to their fathers and mothers. Perhaps you have noticed how long a potter’s child serves as an apprentice to his father before he is allowed to begin throwing pots himself. Are the potters to take more care with their children’s education than the guards with theirs, by way of their becoming familiar with how things are done through observation?
“So much would be quite ridiculous.”2504
Besides, humans like other animals fight the more fiercely when their own offspring are present.
“That’s true, but Socrates there is a distinct possibility that given the ways of war if they fall in battle their children would perish, too, leaving the rest of the city unable to recover.”
That’s true, but do you mean to take the position that danger is to be avoided first and foremost?
“Not at all.”
So, if we must take a risk shouldn’t it be where they will be made nobler by correction?
“Clearly.”
Perhaps then you think it makes only a little difference and is not worth running the risk, whether those who are to become our military men watch or don’t watch as children.
“No—it makes quite a difference in the way you have argued.”
This much then is settled, to make children spectators of war, so that next we would do well to contrive that they be safe. First of all their fathers, as far as humanly possible, will not be ignorant but cognizant as to which armies pose a danger and which don’t, and they will muster them against the one sort and be more cautious against the other. Second they will assign as their immediate superiors not the least noteworthy among themselves but those who by experience and age are able2505 to function as leaders and teachers. Still it can be objected that the unforeseen always happens, so from the very start we ought to give them wings so that in case it becomes necessary they can wing2506 their way to an escape.
This Glaucon does not understand.
I mean they must mount horses at the very youngest age so that having learned to ride they can be mustered to the spectacle on horseback, their mounts being neither headstrong nor warlike but the fastest of foot and the most compliant to the reins. By this policy they will have the finest vantage from which to view the task that will be theirs, but also the best chance of escaping safely in case the need arises, by following in the train of the elder leaders.2507
“Sounds right to me.”
(468) Well then what about the matter of war itself? What is to be the bearing of your soldiers both toward themselves and toward their enemies. Do you think I have the right idea about this?
“You’ll have to start over and tell me that, too.”2508
As for our soldiers themselves, take the man who abandons his post or leaves his shield or does any of these kinds of things in a base way:2509 mustn’t he be demoted2510 to the rank of craftsman or a farmer?2511
“Quite so.”
And take the man who is captured alive by the enemy: mustn’t we give him over to them as a gift, to make whatever use of their catch they wish?
“Obviously.”
But take the man who achieves valor and makes a good showing: don’t you imagine that first he ought to be crowned by his fellow soldiers and the lads and children also, each and all in their turn?
“Yes...”
And greeted by the hand?
“This too ...”
But would you go further?
“Whither?”
To kiss and be kissed by each and every one.
“Absolutely! And I’d add the law that as long as they are serving in the army nobody may deny them to kiss whomever they want, just in case one happens to be in love with one of them, whether male or female, and thereby will be made all the more earnest at performing deeds of valor.”
With this extended answer Glaucon has hopped onto the bandwagon and added a law of his own, and Socrates is pleased by his answer: Wonderful! After all, we already established2512 that coupling should be made easy and more frequent for the virtuous guards than for the others, and that the assignations of these should be frequent in comparison to others so as to maximize the numbers born out of their stock. And indeed from Homer we have authority for honoring the best of our youth in these ways. He says that after a good showing on the battlefield Ajax was rewarded with a huge rack of ribs, as being the genuine way to honor a man youthful and brave since in addition to being a token of honor he would become stronger by it, too. In this2513 we shall follow Homer. We ourselves in our sacrifices and all such festivals will always single out the better among us, in accordance to the goodness they have demonstrated, and honor them with songs and the things we just mentioned, and in addition with “places at the banquet table and great outlays of viands and drink,” so that in addition to honoring our good men and good women we will elevate their vigor.2514
“I love it!”2515
Alright, then, take the ones who die a valiant death on campaign: won’t2516 we start by saying they belong to the golden race?
“Absolutely!”
So in this we will follow Hesiod who said,2517 when persons of this race come to their end,
(469) Some of them become blessed spirits roaming the earth,Virtuous, warders off of evil, guards for the mortal lot of men.
“Follow we will.”
And won’t we take pains to inquire of the god2518 what are the proper distinctions to be given at the burial of men so divine and godly, and then carry out whatever his exegete directs? From that day forward we will treat them like local divinities, caring for them and paying homage at their monuments. And we’ll adopt this same convention to mark the death, by old age or whatever the cause, of anyone else2519 who has proved eminently good in his life.
“It would only be right.”
How then about their treatment of their enemies?2520
“But what do you mean?”
Start with the issue of reducing the defeated enemy to slavery: does it seem just for Greeks to enslave Greek cities, or should they not condone it in any other city and as much as possible make it their habit and use to spare the Greek race of this treatment, so as to devote their efforts against enslavement by the barbarians?
“The policy of Greeks sparing Greeks is crucial.”
Then they may not possess a Greek slave and should counsel other Greeks against the same?
“Quite so, since thus they would turn their attention more to the barbarians and would keep their hands off each other.”
What about the issue of stripping the dead of anything but their armor, when they have beaten them: how does this stand? Doesn’t it give an excuse to the cowardly not to close with the troops still fighting, as though they were doing something needful when they were in fact poking around the dead bodies, while at the same time this sort of plundering has proved fatal to many an army? It seems illiberal and materialistic to strip a corpse, and the sign of a womanly and petty mind to treat the body of the dead man as the inimical element after his enemy’s soul has departed and left behind only the tool with which it fought? Is their behavior any different from that of dogs that become angry at the stones with which they have been pelted but not at the man who threw them?
“Not a whit different.”
So we must drop the activity of stripping corpses and of denying them to be removed for burial.
“Quite so by Zeus.”
Nor will we be hauling their weapons off to our temples as offerings to the gods, especially not those of the Greeks, if we care at all (470) about the goodwill of our Greek neighbors. Rather we will be apprehensive that some pollution might attend bringing things to the temple that belong to our own kin, unless god directs us otherwise. And what about the matter of destroying Greek crops and burning their houses: how would you have our soldiers behave toward the people they war against?
“If you would tell I’d gladly listen.”
My opinion then is that they should do neither of these things, but only make off with the harvestable food. Do you want me to tell you why?
“Please.”
It seems to me that just as there are two words, war and faction, there are two realities different in their relation to two different things, that which is familiar and kindred, and that which is alien and foreign. Enmity toward the familiar is faction, while enmity against the alien is war.
“Nothing out of line in saying that.”
See whether this is in line, too. I assert the Greek race is familiar within itself and kindred to itself, while it is alien and ungenuine in respect to the barbarians. So when Greeks fight against barbarians or barbarians fight against Greeks we shall speak of them warring as natural war-enemies2521 and call this kind of hostility war. But when this sort of thing goes on between Greeks and Greeks we’ll say that although they are friends by nature Greece is currently afflicted with a disease of factional contention, and we’ll call this hostility faction.
“For my own part I acquiesce in that outlook.”
Now in the case of what we are calling faction, wherever this arises and the city is set against itself,2522 if either of the two parties destroys the crops and burns the houses, think how abominable a thing faction shows itself to be, and how both sides come across as unpatriotic—patriots would hardly dare to ravage their own nurse and mother—whereas to steal the crops is a moderate measure when one party has achieved the upper hand and the other has been quelled, just as it is moderate to conceive that the parties will be reconciled and not forever at war.
“Surely this conception is more civilized2523 than the other.”
But let’s come to it: the city you2524 are founding is a Greek one, no?
“She must be.”
And as such won’t the men be good men and civilized?
“Very much so.”
And won’t they be philhellenes? Won’t they think of all Greece as friendly? Won’t they all have the same temples?
“This too is very true.”
(471) And as such will they not conceive of a dispute against Greeks as being a factional one and not call it a war, but carry on their dispute with the conception that they will be reconciled?
“Quite.”
With good will then they will chastise them, instead of punishing them with slavery or with annihilation, chasteners being their true role rather than belligerents.2525 And therefore they will not ravage Greece,2526 themselves being Greeks, and will not burn houses, and will not go along with the idea2527 that in any given city everybody is their enemy—men, women, and children—but that the people they are angry at are few: the individuals responsible for the disagreement in the given case. For all these reasons they will be willing neither to ravage their land, the majority of the populace being their friends, nor to destroy their homes, but will allow their dispute to go only so far as the point at which the responsible parties are brought to justice by force, on behalf of those who have suffered innocently.
“I do agree2528 that this is the way we should treat opponents that are our fellow citizens, whereas we should treat the barbarians the way the Greeks currently treat each other.”
Shall we set about laying down this law then for our guards, not to destroy the crops or burn the houses?
“Set it down, and set it down also2529 that everything we have said now and before this is fine, too. Just let me say, Socrates, that I am getting the impression that if one just allows you to talk about things like this you will never get back to the topic you pushed aside2530 in order to say all that you have now said, the question whether it is possible2531 for a city with this kind of constitution2532 to come into existence, and if so just how. Since2533 it all would be hunky-dory for the city if only it came into being,—the details you have left out I myself can add, how they would fight more bravely against enemies since they would be least liable to abandon each other, knowing each other as they do and addressing each other by those names, “brother,” and “father,” and “son.” And moreover if the women fought alongside the men, whether2534 in the same formation or stationed further to the rear for the sake of striking fear into the enemy or to provide aid as necessary, I know full well2535 that this would make them unbeatable in every way. On the domestic front moreover2536 all the boons that were passed over,2537 how many they would enjoy, I also see.2538 But, assume that I agree with you on all this and the countless2539 other goods they would enjoy if a city of this kind came into existence and don’t say any more about her! Let us try to persuade ourselves2540 of the thing itself, that it could happen and how, and leave off the other.”
(472) Aren’t you sudden with a counterattack against my story! Have you no sympathy for a soldier?2541 Perhaps you don’t know that the very moment I have barely escaped the threat of two great waves, you are bringing on the largest and hardest one of the three2542 against me?2543 When you see it—or hear it I should say2544—you’ll have plenty of sympathy and see I had good reason after all to shrink from the task and to shudder at the prospect of making an argument so contrary to what people think and of trying to manage a careful investigation2545 of it.
“The more you talk like this the less you will be released2546 by us from telling how this kind of city can come into being. Just speak and quit delaying.”
Could I perhaps2547 remind you first that it was because we were seeking to know what kind of thing justice is and injustice2548 that we got to this pass?
“What of it?”2549
Nothing2550—just that once we do discover what kind of thing justice is, are we to insist that the man who is correspondingly just may not differ from it at all but must be like it in each and every respect? Or will we be satisfied if he is very very close2551 to it and has a greater share of it than the others?2552
“The latter, satisfied.”
Therefore it was as for models that we were searching for what kind of thing justice is in itself2553 and for the consummately just man,2554 assuming there was one, just what sort of person he would be,2555 and conversely for injustice and the man most unjust,2556 so that by contemplating them2557 and viewing whether they are the sort of people as to be happy or unhappy, we would be forced2558 to acknowledge in the case of our own lives that whichever type we were most like, we would be allotted a fate most like the fate of that type. This was our purpose in searching for justice and the just man, and not to prove that such could come into existence.
“All this you now say is true.”2559
Do you think that a man would be any less good a draftsman if in drawing a version of the most beautiful person he produced a completely adequate rendering but was not able to prove that the sort of person he drew could come into existence?
“I would not at all, by Zeus.”
So what about us? Don’t we claim we were fashioning2560 in conversation the model of a good city?
“Quite.”
Do you think we have done any worse a job in our conversing, if we turn out to be unable to prove that it is possible to found the city that was the result of our conversing?
“By no means!”2561
Alright then, that’s the truth of the matter. If in addition I must try in earnest to prove, for your gratification,2562 how and in what way the city might be as possible as possible,2563 then for the purposes of this proof you must grant me these same things.
“What things?”2564
(473) Is it possible for something to be put into action just as it is put into words, or is it in the nature of things that action is less able to attain to truth than speech is, regardless what people might think? Which side do you take on this question?2565
“I grant it.”
So on the one hand, this thing you are trying to compel2566 me to do—having to take what we have reached in our discourse and exhibit it being realized in every detail2567—drop it! Instead, if somehow we realize in ourselves an ability2568 to invent how the city could come closer than close to our ideas, let2569 me declare we have acquitted ourselves of the task of discovering2570 the possibility you are enjoining me to discover. Or will you not be satisfied if you get this much? I for my part would be satisfied.
“But so would I,” Glaucon says, and the discussion has been saved.
On the other hand, let’s next try to find and point out just what it is about existing cities that is so poorly managed in practice2571 that they do not have the order we envision in theory, or by what small adjustment a city might come to have the kind of constitution we have designed—at best a single thing or two, or if not as few as possible in number and as minor as possible in the question of their feasibility.2572
“By all means let’s.”
One change I think we are already able to point out2573 that could be made—not a small thing nor an easy one, but feasible.
“What?”
Well now I find myself face to face with that very thing we were speaking of before as the biggest wave. It will be said nevertheless, even if a veritable wave of ridicule and disgrace2574 is likely to engulf us. Consider what I am about to say.
“Go ahead and say it.”
Unless either the philosophers become kings in the cities or the kings or dynasts or whatever their office is called become genuine and competent philosophers,2575 so that the two things, political power and the love of wisdom, become combined in one, and unless all these types who in all their sundry2576 ways pursue one or the other of these two paths separately are compelled to leave, there will be no surcease of ills, Glaucon, afflicting life in the cities, let alone the entire human race. Nor2577 will the city we have envisioned take root or see the light of day before this condition is filled. Nothing other than this it was that I long since demurred to say, seeing as I did that the assertion would go flat against the way people see things.2578 Facing the fact that any other kind of city or constitution than this could not achieve happiness, whether for the individuals or as a whole, is a bothersome thing.2579
He said (Socrates tells us2580), “Socrates! What an utterance you’ve let out!2581 What an idea! Now that you’ve said it you can be sure you’ll be beset by a good many people, (474) not just us nobodies here.2582 They’ll strip off their cloaks and grab whatever comes to hand for a weapon. They’ll gird up their loins and run at you full speed, bent on doing I know not what! You’ll have to defend the argument against them and acquit yourself of their charge, or else you’ll be paying the penalty with the sting of their ridicule.”2583
I have you to blame for it.
“And it was good that I made you do it. But let me tell you I won’t betray you. No, I will ward them off from you any way I can2584 with my good will and encouragement, and I will play a more compliant answerer for you than someone else might.2585 So rely on me for this kind of help and try to prove to the disbelievers2586 that what you say is true.”
Try I must, since now you have proffered so strong an alliance.2587 What we must do if we are somehow to elude those people you mention is to confront them with a description of who we are referring to as philosophers when we make this daring remark that philosophers must rule. Once that becomes crystal clear, one will have a means to ward them off: by indicating that certain people by their nature are suitable for taking up philosophy and leading the city whereas the others given their nature should not take it up but should follow their leaders. 2588
“The time has come to describe them!”
Come along then and follow me on my path, in hopes we might do it adequately.2589
“Lead.”
Will you need to be reminded, or do you remember, that whenever we say that somebody loves something he must love all of it, if we are right to say so? That we mustn’t see him loving one aspect of it and not another, but see him yearning for the whole?
“Looks like I need reminding: I don’t get it.”
Somebody else ought to have made that remark than you,2590 Glaucon. An erotic should hardly fail to remember that any boy in the flower of youth gives the youth-loving erotic2591 a real bite as it were and moves him as seeming worthy of his solicitous care and affections. Aren’t you prone to act this way toward beautiful boys?2592 The one who is snub-nosed will be praised as “charming;” the hook-nose of the other will be dubbed regal; and the boy in between exhibits the happiest of happy mediums. Darker skin means they’re “manly;” lighter and they are “the children of the gods.” Do you think the term “honey-skinned” was made up by anybody other than a lover too jaded to feel a distaste for jaundice in a boy so long as he’s in the bloom? In sum there’s no excuse you won’t make, nothing you (475) would not say, to win a chance with a boy in his prime.2593
“Go ahead and use me for an example of how your erotic men act; I’ll accept it for the sake of the argument.”2594
Well don’t you see the wine-lovers doing the same thing, coming up with excuses for their affectionate attitude for it no matter which wine it is?
“Quite.”
And honor-lovers: you can see how if they are not able to be the general they take the rank of lieutenant, and that if they are not in a position to be held in esteem by the greater and more important people they will settle for the esteem of lesser and inconsequential ones, showing by their actions that it is honor in any and all its forms that they are desirous of.
“Obviously.”
So grant it or not: Whoever we say is desirous of something, shall we declare him to be desirous of the entire kind of the thing or desirous of one part but not of another?”
“Of the entire kind.”2595
Then when it comes to our wisdom-lover, our philosopher,2596 we shall say he is desirous of wisdom, not of this part as opposed to that but of wisdom as a whole.
“True.”
Therefore when it comes to the person who chafes at doing his studies, especially when he’s young and doesn’t yet know what really matters,2597 we will deny he is philomathic or2598 philosophic, just as we would say that a person who chafes at eating is not hungry and doesn’t desire food and thus is not a “food-lover” but a person who has a bad time with food.2599 While on the other hand the person who indiscriminately tries any kind of learning and welcomes the chance to move into learning activities and just can’t get enough of it,2600 this one we would rightly call a wisdom-lover or philosophic—wouldn’t we?
Glaucon had a reply to this, Socrates tells us.2601 “But you’re going to be including a lot of strange people in the group you just described. All the spectacle-lovers are going to be included since they enjoy really getting to know something,2602 and then there will be the sound-lovers2603 who would make the strangest of company among philosophers since they would never willingly come and listen to2604 a discussion or that sort of thing, whereas they will run to catch performances by any and every chorus at the Dionysian festivals, as if they were in the business of renting their ears out, missing not a single performance whether in a city or in the smallest village.2605 Do we want to say that all these are philosophers, and include among other studious types like these even the students of the various handicrafts?”2606
Not at all. We could call them similar2607 to philosophers ...
“But2608 if you do who will you say are the true ones?”
The ones who love the spectacle of truth.2609
“That’s good as far as it goes; but how do you mean it?”
I mean it in a way not at all easy for somebody else to understand, but you2610 will probably grant me the following point.
“Which?”
Since the beautiful is opposite to the ugly they are two things.
(476) “Of course.”
And if they are two each is one.
“That too.”
So also in the case of the just and unjust, the good and the bad, and any distinct types,2611 the argument is the same. Each in itself is one, but since they are shared by actions and by bodies and by each other2612 they make appearances everywhere2613 so that they appear to be many though each is an individual.”2614
“Rightly said.”
This then is how I make the distinction. On one side there are the ones you have just called the spectacle-lovers and the craft-lovers and practical types,2615 and on the other side there are the people I am talking about who are the only ones that one would rightly call wisdom-lovers or philosophers.
“Can you explain?”
The sound-lovers and spectacle-lovers appreciate pretty voices and colors and shapes2616 and the things that the craftsmen make that embody2617 these, but as for the character of beauty in itself, their thinking is unable to see2618 and appreciate its nature.
“Yes, this is the way it is.”
But the ones who are able to make their way2619 all the way to beauty in itself and see it on its own terms, wouldn’t you say these are far and few between?
“Quite so.”
Then take this person2620 who thinks about beautiful objects but has no thought of beauty in itself nor is able to follow when someone leads him right up to the cognition of it. Would you say this man is going through life in a dream, or waking? Think about it. Would you agree with me about dreaming, that whether asleep or awake the dreamer is believing that what is only similar to something else is actually the thing that it resembles?
“I would say such a person is dreaming.”
Then take the man oppositely disposed, who does believe there is a beauty that is just beauty and is able to contemplate both it and the things that share2621 it,2622 and doesn’t take the things that share to be it nor thinks it to be the things that share it. Do you think this man is going through life dreaming or waking?
“Waking indeed.”
And would we be right to characterize this man’s mentality2623 as the cognition of a knowing person2624 and that of the other as the opinion of a person who is opining?2625
“Quite so”
But what if this latter fellow takes offense at our saying that he is opining rather than knowing and contests2626 the truth of what we say? Will we be able to talk this matter over with him and persuade him calmly, avoiding to allude to the fact that he is mentally imbalanced? 2627
“We must find a way.”
Well then let’s think of what we will say to him. Why don’t we play the listener2628 showing the attitude that if he does have some knowledge we won't begrudge it but would welcome knowing he knows:2629 “Tell us this, does the man who knows know something or nothing?” You answer for him.
“I will answer that the person knows something.”
A thing that is or isn’t?2630
(477)“That is. If it somehow2631 weren’t, how could he know it?”
This much we can safely say,2632 though we could go into further detail, that what completely is, is knowable completely; and that what in no way is, is unknowable in any way.2633
“Quite safely indeed.”
But now consider something in a state as both to be and not to be:2634 wouldn’t it lie somewhere in between being purely and being no-how?
“In between.”
So applying to what is, we had knowledge; and we had ignorance applying to what isn’t.2635 Applying to this in-between thing we should likewise look for something in between lacking knowledge and having knowledge, assuming there are indeed cases like this.
“Quite so.”
We do argue that opining is a distinct something.
“Of course.”
And that it is the same ability as knowledge or another ability?
“Another.”
Therefore opining occupies the position of applying to one thing and knowledge the position of applying to another, in accordance with the different ability that each of the two have in themselves and are.2636
“Yes.”
Now by its nature2637 science applies to what is, and knows that what is, is. But it is necessary I think to draw a distinction before I go on. We say that abilities are the group of things by means of which we are in fact able to do whatever we are able to do and any thing is able to do whatever it is able to do. For instance seeing and hearing are members of the group of abilities, if you understand the idea in what I am saying.
“Oh but I do understand.”
Then let me tell you what I think about them. In an ability I do not see a color or a shape2638 or any of the indicators I use to distinguish one of the things around me2639 from others. In the case of an ability there is only one thing I “look”2640 for: what it applies to or brings about.2641 It is by this technique that I call each of the abilities what I call them, so that an ability that is assigned to the same thing or brings about the same thing I call the same ability, whereas one that is assigned to something else and brings about something else I call by a different name. How about you? What’s your practice?
“The same.”
Excellent!2642 Let’s go back then to science. Would you say science is an ability, considered in itself? Or what group do you put it in?
“Into this group, and I’d say it is the most powerful of all of them!”2643
What about opining? Do we put it into the group of abilities or shall we move it off to some other group?
“Not at all.2644 After all, the thing by which we are able to reach an opinion is nothing but opining.”
And yet a moment ago you agreed with me that (478) science and opinion were not the same thing.
“How after all could a person with any intelligence2645 posit what is infallible to be the same as what is not infallible?”
Fine, and now it is clear that we agree that science is a different thing from opinion. This implies that the two of them by their nature apply to two different things and have the ability to produce two different effects.2646
“That necessarily follows.”
Science presumably applies to what is, as the ability to know the state of what is,2647 opinion being the ability to opine. But does opinion opine the same thing that science knows, so that the known and the opined would become the same thing, or is that impossible?
“That cannot follow2648 from the things we have agreed to. If as we said different abilities apply to different things, and if both of these, opinion and science, are abilities and if the two of them are other than each other, then it is impossible that the object of knowledge and the object of opinion should be the same thing.”
But if what is is the object of knowledge, the object of opinion would be something other than what is.2649 Would you then say that opinion opines what is not? Think about it. Does the person who is opining direct his opining to something,2650 or is he opining but opining nothing?
“Impossible.”
So instead, the opining person opines some thing.2651 But if a non-being, it would most properly be referred to not as some thing but as non-thing or nothing.2652
“Quite.”
We assigned not knowing or ignorance to the non-being thing and knowledge to the being thing, necessarily, so that it is not the being thing nor the non-being thing that opinion opines. Therefore opining can neither be not-knowing or ignorance, nor can it be knowing.
“Seems not.”
So then is it2653 outside the spectrum defined by these,2654 either exceeding knowledge in its clarity or exceeding ignorance in its obscurity?
“Neither.”
To the contrary2655 in comparison with knowledge does opinion seem to you more obscure, whereas in comparison with ignorance more illuminated?
“Quite so.”
So it lies within the spectrum defined by these, and opining would lie between knowledge and ignorance. Yet earlier we said if that something came into view as both being and not being, this kind of thing would lie in between the purely existent and the completely non-existent,2656 and that neither knowledge nor ignorance would apply to it but an ability that would come into view as likewise2657 lying between those two.
“Yes.”
But what has now in fact come into view2658 is that what lies between these two is the ability we call opining.
“Yes it has.”
So what remains for us to discover is what it is that has a share in both being and non-being and therefore cannot properly be referred to as purely being nor purely non-being, so that once it does come into view we will be able rightly to designate it as the opinable, and shall have assigned the extremes to the extreme abilities and the object in between to the in-between one.
“Quite right.”
Alright then, now that we have laid all this down and agreed to it,2659 let the worthy2660 fellow (479) converse with me and answer my questions, that man who refuses2661 to consider beauty in itself or the vision2662 of beauty itself which itself is there, invariant in time, invariant in its relations, and invariant in itself,2663 but instead believes2664 that beautiful things are many, this spectacle-lover who cannot abide2665 anyone saying that the beautiful is one and the just is one and so on. Let him answer the following question: “So,2666 my fine fellow, of these many beautiful things of yours could there be one that will not on occasion look ugly? Of the just things one that will not appear unjust? Of the pious one not impious?”2667
“No,” Glaucon answered.2668 “To the contrary both beautiful and ugly they will necessarily seem, in themselves, and so on with the other attributes you asked about.”
And what about the many twice-as-much’s? Will they seem half-as-much any less than twice-as-much?2669
“No less.”
And the many larges and smalls and lights and heavies, I doubt they will be called by these names any more than by their opposites.
“No,” he answered. “They will forever go on having the one name and then the other.”
Will one of these things ever be, any more than not be, any of the many things people say it is?
“It’s like those double-entendres people bring up at banquets,” he answered, “like that children’s riddle about the eunuch striking the bat, in which they ask with what, on what, what struck what.2670 Things are ambiguous and it's impossible to nail down with the mind whether they are both or neither.”2671
So do you have some way to deal with them? Or a finer2672 place to put them than in between being and not being?2673 After all they are not more obscure than the non-existent so as to appear more than non-existent, nor more obvious than the existent so as to be classed as more than existent.
“Absolutely2674 true.”
We’ve found it then, it seems. Between the irreal and the purely real is where the many things the many believe in drift about—the conventional attitudes, that is, about beauty and the rest.2675
“Discovered we have.”
And we agreed in advance that once this thing-in-between came into view2676 we had to call it the opinable and not the knowable, floating about2677 in the in-between to be captured as it were by the in-between ability.
“We did so agree.”
Therefore about the spectators of the many beauties2678 who have no vision at all of the beautiful nor any ability to follow another person trying to lead them to it, and of the many justices but never of justice itself and likewise with all the rest,2679 we will say they opine everything but know not one of the things they opine.
“We are compelled2680 to say so.”
But what shall we say in turn about those who contemplate the distinct individuals in themselves, invariant in time in their relations and in themselves, and fully real?2681 Will we not say that they are knowing and not opining?
“We are compelled to say that, too.”
And also as to what they welcome and enjoy. For the latter persons it is the things (480) that knowing applies to, whereas for the former it is what opining applies to. Or have we forgotten that they loved and contemplated pretty sounds and pretty colors and the like, but as for beauty itself they could not even bear it somehow2682 to exist on its own.
“We remember.”
So we would not be striking the wrong note to call them lovers of opinion or philodoxers rather than philosophers and lovers of wisdom. Will they be greatly offended by us if we say they are?2683
“Not if they left it up to me,” Glaucon said. “After all, nobody is entitled2684 to be offended by the truth.”
Therefore those who greet the real as it is in itself and in its own individuality must be called philosophers and not philodoxers.
“Completely right.”
END OF BOOK FIVE
Book Five began by interrupting the argument of Book Four in midstream; the break between Five and Six is less intrusive since it comes at a stopping point in the argument. With its first words Book Six looks back to the result reached in Book Five from a perspective independent enough from the argument that has just been made that it can remark as if upon reflection that the result there reached, namely, the identification of who the philosophers are, was reached with considerable difficulty.2685 The personification with which Socrates here describes that process is striking: (484) “Those who are philosophers and those who are not2686 has come into view only with great effort, and only after traversing a long path of argument.” His words suggest that the interlocutors (if they are still with him) have passed a hurdle.
Such a remark is not only apt but long overdue, since the entirety of Book Five was a digression brought on by a love for something less than wisdom, a love we are now able to describe as a love of opinion. Before the distinction between these loves had been made clear, Socrates had no basis for saying that questioning or worrying about the community of wives was wrongheaded; or, we may say, if he had said it, it would have fallen on deaf ears.2687 Conversely, now that he has found what the philosopher is, he can go on to articulate what qualifies him to be king, namely the ability to keep the city's conventions close to truth.
Glaucon says a shorter path may not have been easier, a remark by which he thankfully acknowledges every bit of help Socrates has given him and every bit of correction we have seen him undergo and accept. It seems it would not have been easier, Socrates rejoins, “and more, I’d say that the point could have been made even clearer if this were the only question we needed to treat, and there weren’t a host of other topics we have to go through, assuming we stick to our project of comparing the just life to the unjust.”2688
“What comes after this, then?”
What else is there than what comes next?2689 If indeed the philosophers are the ones who are able to latch onto what is always the same in respect to itself and invariant, while those who are unable to do this but wander without an anchor2690 among the plurality of things2691 that take on all sorts of states2692 are not philosophers, the next question is, Which of the two types must be the leaders of the city?
“How would a prudent discussion of that question be framed?”
By asking which of the two groups seems able to guard and preserve the laws and practices of cities, and then to argue for appointing this group as the guards. But isn’t this much already obvious? Is it the blind man or the man with good vision who ought to serve as guard, no matter what he is to guard? And yet how different from blind men are people who are really destitute of any cognition of the reality of things, who have in their souls no clear idea which they can use as a standard, who are unable to look off as painters do to their object as it is and compare from moment to moment what they are painting with what they see and look off to, in its every detail, so as to formulate laws and conventions here among men about the most important matters—the beautiful and the just and the good2693—or else to guard and preserve such laws if they are already set down?
“By Zeus the analogy is very clear.”
Shall it be these then that we would sooner appoint2694 or else those who come fully equipped2695 with a cognition of what each thing is, as long as they give up nothing to the former group in experience nor fall behind them in any part2696 of virtue, besides?
“Strange it would be to select anyone other than these, provided as you say that they fall nowhere short in the other ways, since their excellence in the one matter makes the greatest individual contribution to their superiority.”2697
(485) Then let’s argue how the same people could have both. As we said at the beginning of our discussion of this matter2698 we must first ascertain what their inner nature is. Once we agree sufficiently about this I think we will go on to agree that this one group will be able to have both so that we won't need anybody else to be the city’s leaders.
Let us set it down as agreed that persons of the philosophical nature always desire learning any lesson that sheds light2699 on the kind of reality that always is, that is not consigned to wander2700 according to the ravages of coming to be and passing away;2701 and set down also that they are in love with all of it and would not willingly lose any part of it small or large, more or less honorable,2702 just as we had said before2703 about the lovers of honor and about the erotics.2704
“Right.”
We must next ask whether this, too, necessarily follows given their nature, a general freedom from falsehood and an unwillingness to countenance or commune with falsehood, or whether they hate falsehood and embrace truthfulness.2705
“Seems likely.”
Well it’s not just likely but necessary2706 that the man with an erotic bent greets with joy anything that is related to his darling2707 or is akin to him. Can you point to anything as akin to wisdom as truth would be?
“But how could I?”
So then could one and the same man be by nature a lover of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?
“No way.”
So the man who really is a lover of learning must by his nature yearn for any and all truth, even from childhood. And yet we know that a person whose desires tilt him toward some one thing tends to have desires far weaker for everything else, as though the channels had all been diverted away from them. So for a person whose desires have all been channeled into studies and everything involved with them, all his desires would have to do with the pleasures the soul enjoys by herself and on her own terms, and would desert the pleasures that come through the body, if he were not a makeshift2708 philosopher but a philosopher in truth.
“That is highly inevitable.”2709
Temperate, in truth, this sort of man would be, and completely uninterested in money.2710 The purposes for which money and large expenditure2711 are taken seriously are more fit for others than him to take seriously.
“Just so.”
(486) And here is another thing you must keep in mind if you are going to judge which is the philosophical type and which isn’t.2712 Be on the watch to detect any trace of illiberality. There is no place at all for a fixation on paltry details2713 in a soul that will end up dedicating itself to the pursuit of the larger wholes2714 of meaning attaching to the world that men share with the gods.
“Quite true.”
So the kind of mind that has magnanimity in its nature2715 of a sort that seeks to behold2716 all of time and all of reality, can such a one find human life to be of much consequence?
“Impossible.”
And will such a man find death to be something alarming?2717
“Least of all men.”
So it seems the timid and illiberal type could have no share in the true love of wisdom.
“I judge he could not.”
So what shall we say? A man graceful and indifferent to wealth, neither illiberal nor boastful2718 nor fearful—is there any way he could be hard to do business with or be unjust?2719
“There is not.”
But keep in mind all through2720 your investigation whether a given soul is philosophic or not, to examine whether from his very youth2721 his soul was just and calm rather than uncongenial and rash.
“Quite so.”
And further, I’d guess you won’t leave this out ...
“What?”
Whether it finds learning easy or burdensome.2722 Can you anticipate that a person could properly love something, if the doing of it gives him pain and if he achieves only a small success even with difficulty?
“That couldn't happen.”
And next imagine he can’t keep hold of what he has learned, full as he is of forgetfulness. Is there any way he would not be empty of knowledge?
“You’ll have to tell me how.”
But if his efforts are profitless don’t you think that in the end he will be forced into the position of hating both himself and this kind of activity? So that we can conclude that having a forgetful soul disqualifies a person from being included among those we count adequate for philosophy:2723 rather let us seek a soul that necessarily has2724 a good memory. And also wouldn’t we assert that the unmusical and graceless element can only drag a person toward immoderation? And yet truth or honesty is akin not to the immoderate but the moderate, so that in addition to the other things we will seek a mind both moderate and graceful in its nature, in the sense that its inner nature will be supple enough to approach the vision of reality and truth.
Wouldn’t you say that each and all these attributes we have now gone through are necessary and2725 work hand in hand for a soul to get an adequate and entire grasp2726 on reality and truth?
(487) “Quite necessary indeed.”
And so is there a way for you to bad-mouth a pursuit2727 for which a person would be unfit if he lacked any of these qualities deep in his makeup: good memory, quickness at learning, magnanimity, grace, and a friendly kinship with truth, with justice, with bravery, and with temperance?2728
“Even Momus would find it beyond cavil.”2729
Therefore once people with this inborn nature have finished their education and reached an appropriate age,2730 would it not be into their hands alone that you would put the management of the city?2731
Before Glaucon can answer Socrates’s question, Adeimantus interrupts.
It is Adeimantus’s fourth interruption. The first one came near the beginning of Book Two, when Socrates was about to respond to his brother's speech about injustice; the second at the beginning of Book Four just after Socrates and Glaucon had reached their hugely important consensus about the guards' regime; the third at the beginning of Book Five, at the behest of Polemarchus, just after Socrates and Glaucon had reached their hugely important agreement about the inwardness of justice. This fourth interruption comes just before Glaucon can agree with Socrates on the large decision that the philosophers are after all the people most fit to rule (484B8-487A8). This time his brother’s interruption pre-empts him from registering his agreement.
“I’ll answer for him, Socrates. Nobody could gainsay what you have said, the way you have said it at least.2732 Let me tell you the reason. The sort of argument you have now made2733 always has a certain effect on people.2734 They get the sense, due to their relative unfamiliarity with your method of question and answer and the way they are being led along bit by bit by each question, that once the small steps are all added together a great reversal takes place and a conclusion is reached quite opposite to what they believed in the beginning.2735 Just as those who aren’t clever at checkers end up being blocked from moving by those who are, so in the end people think they are blocked from making any move in this other sort of game you play, your game not of checkers but of arguments -- though all the while there is no more reason to take it your way than not.2736
“The present instance is a perfect example. Someone might very well say to you that although his reason cannot produce answers to contradict the sequence of questions you have put to him, nevertheless he can plainly see in fact2737 that of all the people who are attracted to philosophy2738—not those that quit after having done it in their youth for the sake of general culture but those who stay on and pursue it more deeply—the majority become weirdoes2739 if not, frankly, perfect scoundrels, whereas the few that seem quite decent, suffer a reversal by this study, which you recommend nevertheless,2740 and are rendered quite useless to their cities.”2741
Socrates tells us2742 he heard him out, and then replied, And do you think the people who say this2743 are deceived?
“How do I know? I'm eager to hear your opinion2744 on the matter.”
You’d hear2745 that by my lights they’re speaking the truth.
“Then how can it be right to say that the cities will no sooner cease from their troubles until the philosophers rule in them, when we have agreed they are useless2746 to them?”
The question you ask calls for2747 an answer in the form of a fable.
“And you just hate2748 to tell fables.”
So in addition to forcing an answer on me hard to prove, you also make a joke at my expense. (488) Be that as it may, hear now my fable. You can enjoy watching me struggle2749 with the genre. The experience of the “people quite decent” whom you adduce, and what is in store for them in their cities, is as harsh a thing as there ever was. To do it justice and explain their plight requires that I assemble many elements into one story, the way a painter paints a goat-stag or another such mixture into a single object.2750 Conceive the following sort of thing took place,2751 whether on many ships or just on one.2752 The shipmaster is a man taller and more robust than the others in the ship, a little hard of hearing and seeing likewise, and it’s about the same as to his knowledge of nautical matters.2753 Conceive of the crew breaking into factions among themselves about the office of pilot,2754 each man thinking it is he himself who should be pilot,2755 though none has learned the art nor could say who taught him nor when he learned it.2756 Indeed what they claim is that it isn’t the sort of thing one learns in the first place, and they’re ready to hang from the yardarm anybody who says it is, while what they see fit to do on their own lights is clamber around the person of the shipmaster,2757 begging him and stopping at nothing to get him to turn the tiller over to them instead. Conceive next, when one day they lose his ear to a competing group, how they turn upon those others and murder them or throw them overboard, and drug the worthy master with mandragora or wine so they can overpower him and they tie him up and find themselves in command2758 of the ship, and how they use up its stores in drinking and feasting and sail a voyage I hardly need to describe.2759
Conceive how all the while they praise with the names of true sailor and captain and expert at ships2760 whichever man among them stood out as a particularly astute collaborator for purposes of landing them in the office of command, whether by persuading or by forcing the shipmaster; and conceive how they castigate the man who did not bring this about as useless—even though they2761 have no clue as to what qualifies a man to be captain, how he has to keep his attention on the time of year and the seasons and the sky and the stars and the winds and all else that plays a role in his art2762 if he is going to govern a ship in truth.2763 Instead, as for executing the task of the captain2764 whether certain people want him to or not, for this task they believe2765 there is no art to be mastered, nor a need for practice nor indeed a need for the very science of captaincy they arrogate to themselves.2766
Now if this sequence of events came about in ships, don’t you imagine that the man who is a real and true captain would in fact2767 be dubbed a stargazer (489) and a fuddy-duddy and a man utterly useless to them,2768 by these men who ride2769 on board the ships that had come into this condition?
“They would indeed,” Adeimantus replies.
Then I'd guess you will not be asking to see the fable being tested,2770 as to whether it provides a likeness of the cities as to their attitude about the true philosophers.2771 Instead, you have learned what I mean.2772 So now you can go back to that man who was surprised2773 that philosophers are not honored2774 in the cities. Teach him this fable and try to persuade him that it would be all the more strange if they were!
“And of course I will teach him,” Adeimantus now replies.2775
And teach him also that you2776 speak the truth when you say that the most decent persons involved in philosophy are useless to the many; but suggest to him their uselessness is to be blamed on those who make no use of them,2777 not on their own being decent.2778 It is against the nature of things2779 for the captain to request the sailors that they be ruled by him, nor do men of skill make their way to the doors of the rich. The man that told that subtle tale2780 was deceived. The true nature of the matter is that a man who is sick, whether poor or rich, must make his way to the door of the doctor; that any man that needs to be ruled makes his way to the door of the man who has the ability to rule him; that a man who rules does not beg the ruled to accede to being ruled, if he has any real benefit to offer. To the contrary, if you likened the current politicians and the way that they rule to the sailors in the story you would not err, nor if you likened the men they call useless cloud-talkers2781 to the ones who truly deserve the name of captain.
“Quite right.”
And so take it2782 from these arguments and these cases that it's not at all easy for the very highest occupation to achieve high standing