Quotes from The Republic, by Plato

- [The opening paragraph mentions a slave.] (3)
- ‘There is nothing which fr my part I like better, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travelers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire whether the way is smooth and easy or rugged and difficult.’ (5)
- ‘The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’s characters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.’ (6)
- ‘You are indifferent about money, which is a characteristic rather of those who have inherited their fortunes than of those who have acquired them.’ (7)
- ‘Hope cherishes the soul of him who lives in justice and holiness, and is the nurse of his age and the companion of his journey – hope which is mightiest to sway the restless soul of man.’ unknown poet (7)
- ‘Surely, he said, a man may be expected to love those whom he thinks good, and to hate those whom he thinks evil.
Yes, but do not persons often err about good and evil: many who are not good seem to be so, and conversely?
That is true.’ (12)
- ‘But ought the just to injure anyone at all?
Undoubtedly he ought to injure those who are both wicked and his enemies.
When horses are injured, are they improved or deteriorated?
The latter.
Deteriorated, that is to say, in the good qualities of horses, not of dogs?
Yes, of horses.
And dogs are deteriorated in the good qualities of dogs, and not of horses?
Of course.
And will not men who are injured be deteriorated in that which is the proper virtue of man?
And that human virtue is justice?
To be sure.
Then men who are injured are of necessity made unjust?
That is the result.
But can the musician by his art make men unmusical?
Certainly not.
Or the horsemen by his art make them bad horsemen?
And can the just by justice make men unjust, or speaking generally, can the good by virtue make them bad?
Assuredly not.
Any more than heat can produce cold?
It cannot.
Or drought moisture?
Clearly not.
Nor can the good harm anyone?
And the just is the good?
Then to injure a friend or anyone else is not the act of a just man, but of the opposite, who is unjust?
I think that what you say is quite true, Socrates.’ (13-14)
- ‘I was panic-stricken at his words, and could not look at him without trembling. Indeed I believe that if I had not fixed my eye upon him, I should have been struck dumb: but when I saw his fury rising, I looked at him first, and was therefore able to reply to him.’ (15)
- ‘Is the physician, taken in the strict sense of which you are speaking, a healer of the sick or a maker of money? And remember that I am not speaking of the true physician.
A healer of the sick, he replied.’ (21)
- ‘Then, I said, Thrasymachus, there is no one in any rule who, in so far as he is a ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his own interest, but always what is for the interest of his subject of suitable to his art; to that he looks, and that alone he considers in everything which he says and does.’ (22-23)
- ‘You further imagine that the rulers of States, if they are true rulers, never think of their subjects as sheep, and that they are not studying their own advantage day and night.’ (23)
- ‘Consider, most foolish Socrates, that the just is always a loser in comparison with the unjust.’ (23)
- ‘And we have admitted that justice is the excellence of the soul, and injustice the defect of the soul?
That has been admitted.
Then the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man will live ill?
That is what your argument proves.
And he who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the reverse of happy?
Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable?
So be it.
But happiness, and not misery, is profitable?
Of course.
Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice can never be more profitable than justice.’ (37)
- ‘With the words I was thinking I had made an end of the discussion; but the end, in truth, proved to be only a beginning.’ (39)
- ‘They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that evil is greater than the good… This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice; it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation.’ (40)
- ‘Wherever anyone thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice… For the highest reach of injustice is, to be deemed just when you are not.’ (42-43)
- ‘Only he blames injustice, who owing to cowardice or age or some weakness, has not the power of being unjust. And this is proved by the fact that when he obtains the power, he immediately becomes unjust as far as he can be.’ (49)
- ‘We are not all alike; there are diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different occupations.
Very true.
And will you have work better done when the work man has many occupations, or when he has only one?
When he has only one.’ (54)
- ‘All things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.’ (54)
- ‘Then, again, there is the situation of the city – to find a place where nothing need be imported is well-nigh impossible.’ (55)
- ‘Neither if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another.’ (65)
- ‘If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel between citizens; that is what old men and old women should begin by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose them in a similar spirit.’ (65)
- ‘For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.’ (65)
- ‘The good is not the cause of all things, but of the good only?
Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert, but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur to men.’ (66)
- ‘… though he may say that the wicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving punishment from God; but that God being good is the author of evil to anyone is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard in verse or prose by anyone whether old or young in any well-ordered commonwealth.’ (68)
- ‘No one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest and highest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there, above all, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.
- ‘Neither ought our guardians be given to laughter. For a fit of laughter which has been indulged to excess almost always produces a violent reaction.’ (77)
- ‘Truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of such medicine should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have no business with them.
Clearly not, he said.
Then if anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in the dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good.’ (78)
- ‘Did you never observe how imitations, beginning in early youth and continuing far into life, at length grow into habits and become a second nature, affecting body, voice, and mind?’ (88)
- ‘Grace and harmony are the twin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their likeness.’ (95)
- ‘Bodies which disease had penetrated through and through he would not have attempted to cure by gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting weaker sons.’ (103)
- ‘The most skillful physicians are those who, from their youth upward, have combined with the knowledge of their art the greatest experience of disease; they had better not be robust in health, and should have had all manner of diseases in their own persons… But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he ought not therefore t have been trained among vicious minds, and to have associated with them from youth upward, and to have gone through the whole calendar of crime… this is the reason why in youth good men often appear to be simple, and are easily practiced upon by the dishonest, because they have no examples of what evil is in their own souls.’ (104-105)
- ‘Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of the nature of evil in others.’ (105)
- ‘He cannot recognize an honest man, because he has no pattern of honesty in himself.’ (105)
- ‘This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you will sanction in your State. They will minister to better natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.’ (106)
- ‘… the mere athlete becomes too much of a savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is good for him.’ (107)
- ‘And he who mingles music with gymnastics in the fairest proportions, and best tempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician and harmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.
You are quite right, Socrates.
And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if the government is to last.’ (108)
- ‘And he who at every age, as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out of the trial victorious and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of the State.’ (111)
- ‘Suppose that, before engaging, our citizens send an embassy to one of the two cities, telling them what is the truth: Silver and gold we neither have nor are permitted to have, but you may; do you therefore come and help us in war, and take the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these words, would choose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with the dogs on their side, against fat and tender sheep?’ (119)
- ‘And musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited.’ (121)
- ‘There is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters – I doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments about them likely to be lasting.’ (122)
- ‘The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the just State?
He will.
And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the State severally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of these same classes?
True, he said.’ (135)
- ‘Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they differ from one another; the one with which a man reasons, we may call the rational principle of the soul; the other, with which he loves, and hungers, and thirsts, and feels the fluttering of any other desire, may be termed irrational or appetitive, the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions?’ (140)
- ‘Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the nobler he is, the less able is he to feel indignant at any suffering, such as hunger, or cold, or any other pain which the injured person may inflict upon him – these he dreams to be just, and, as I say, his anger refuses to be excited by them.
True, he said.
But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then he boils and chafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be justice; and because he suffers hunger or cold or other pain he is only the more determined to persevere and conquer.’ (141)
- ‘And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subject and ally?
Certainly.’ (143)
- ‘But is reality justice was such as we were describing, being concerned, however, not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elements within him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work of others – he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own law, and at peace with himself.’ (145)
- ‘I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will. When he thinks that he is reasoning he is really disputing, just because he cannot define and divide, and so know that of which he is speaking; and he will pursue a merely verbal opposition in the spirit of contention and not of fair discussion.’ (155)
- ‘And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness for any art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be assigned to one of the other of them; but if the difference consists only in women bearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a proof that a woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our guardians and their wives ought to have the same pursuits.’ (156)
- ‘Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe, and let them share in the toils of war and the defense of their country; only in the distribution of labors the lighter are to be assigned to the women, who are the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same.’ (159)
- ‘Day-dreamers are in the habit of feasting themselves when they are walking alone; for before they have discovered any means of effecting their wishes – that is a matter which never troubles them – they would rather not tire themselves by thinking about possibilities, but assuming that what they desire is already granted to them, they proceed with their plan, and delight in detailing what they mean to do when their wish has come true – that is a way which they have of not doing much good to a capacity which was never good for much.’ (160)
- ‘You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now select the women and give them to them; they must be as far as possible of like natures with them; and they must live in common houses and meet at common meals. None of them will have anything specially his or her own; they will be together, and will be brought up together, and will associate at gymnastic exercises. And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to have intercourse with each other – necessity is not too strong a word, I think?’ (161)
- ‘And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would greatly deteriorate?
Certainly.’ (162)
- ‘The principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior as seldom, as possible; and they that should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition. Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger or our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.’ (162)
- ‘The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.
Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of guardians is to be kept pure.’ (163)
- ‘And what do the rulers call the people?
Their maintainers, and foster fathers.
And what do they call them in other States?
Slaves.’ (167)
- ‘Neither will trials for assault or insult ever be likely to occur among them. For that equals should defend themselves against equals we shall maintain to be honorable and right; we shall compel them to care for their bodies.’ (169)
- ‘You agree the, I said, that men and women are to have a common way of life such as we have described – common education, common children; and they are to watch over the citizens in common whether abiding in the city or going out to war; they are to keep watch together, and to hunt together like dogs; and always and in all things, as far as they are able, women are to share with the men? And in so doing they will do what is best, and will not violate, but preserve, the natural relation of the sexes?’ (171)
- ‘Why, of course they will go on expeditions together; and will take with them any of their children who are strong enough, that, after the manger of the artisan’s child, they may look on at the work which they will have to do when they are grown up; and besides looking on they will have to help and be of use if war, and to wait upon their fathers and mothers.’ (171)
- ‘When a man dies gloriously in war shall we not say, in the first place, that he is of the golden race?
To be sure.’ (174)
- ‘First of all, in regard to slavery? Do you thin it right that Hellenes should enslave Hellenic States, or allow others to enslave them, if they can help? Should not their custom be to spare them, considering the danger which there is that the whole race may one day fall under the yoke of the barbarians?
To spare them is infinitely better.’ (175)
- ‘Nor will they burn houses, nor ever suppose that the whole population of a city – men, women, and children – are equally their enemies, for they know that the guilt of war is always confined to a few persons and that the many are their friends.’ (177)
- ‘Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other one are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils – no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.’ (180)
- ‘In a word, there is no excuse which you will not make, and nothing which you will not say, in order not to lose a single flower that blooms in the spring-time of youth.’ (181)
- ‘He who dislikes learning, especially in youth, when he has no power of judging what is good and what is not, such a one we maintain not to be a philosopher or a lover of knowledge, just as he who refuses his food is not hungry, and may be said to have a bad appetite and not a good one?’ (182)
- ‘who then are the true philosophers?
Those, I said, who are lovers of the vision of truth.’ (183)
- ‘But take the case of the other, who recognizes the existence of absolute beauty and is able to distinguish the idea from the objects which participate in the idea, neither, putting the objects in the place of the idea nor the idea in the place of the objects – is he a dreamer, or is he awake?
He is wide awake.’ (183)
- ‘And are we assured, after looking at the matter from many points of view, that absolute being is or may be absolutely known, but that utterly non-existent is utterly unknown?’ (184)
- ‘Then opinion is not concerned either with being or with not-being?
Not with either.
And can therefore neither be ignorance nor knowledge?
That seems to be true.
But is opinion to be sought without and beyond either of them, in a greater clearness than knowledge, or in a greater darkness than ignorance?
In neither.
Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be darker than knowledge, but lighter than ignorance?
Both; and in no small degree.
And also to be within and between them?
Then you would infer that opinion is intermediate?
No question.’ (186-187)
- ‘I would ask the gentleman who is of opinion that there is no absolute or unchangeable idea of beauty – in whose opinion the beautiful is the manifold – he, I say, your lover of beautiful sights, who cannot bear to be told that the beautiful is one, and the just is one, or that anything is one – to him I would appeal, saying, Will you be so very kind, sir, as to tell us whether, of all these beautiful things, there is one which will not be found ugly; or of the just, which will not be found unjust; or of the holy, which will not also be unholy?
       No, he replied; the beautiful will in some point be found ugly; and the same is true of the rest.’ (187)
- ‘Thus then we seem to have discovered that the many ideas which the multitude entertain about the beautiful and about all other things are tossing about in some region which is halfway between pure being and pure not-being?
We have.’ (188)
- ‘The manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it.’ (195)
- ‘The true lover of knowledge is always striving after being – that is his nature; he will not rest in the multiplicity of individuals which is an appearance only, but will go on – the keen edge will not be blunted, nor the force of his desire abate until he [will] have attained the knowledge of the true nature of every essence by a sympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power drawing near and mingling and becoming incorporate with very being, having begotten mind and truth, he will have knowledge and will live and grow truly, and then, and not till then, will he cease from his travail.’ (197)
- ‘… the most gifted minds, when they are ill-educated, become pre-eminently bad? Do not great crimes and the spirit of pure evil spring out of a fullness of nature ruined by education rather than from any inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any very great good or very great evil?
There I think that you are right.’ (199)
- ‘Why, that all those mercenary individuals, whom the many call Sophists and whom they deem to be their adversaries, do, in fact, teach nothing but the opinion of the many, that is to say, the opinions of their assemblies; and this is their wisdom. I might compare them to a man who should study the tempers and desires of a might strong beast who is fed by him – he would learn how to approach and handle him, also at what times and from what causes he is dangerous or the reverse, and what is the meaning of his several cries, and by what sounds, when another utters then, he is soothed or infuriated; and you may suppose further, that when, by continually attending upon him, he has become perfect in all this, he calls his knowledge wisdom, and makes it a system of art, which he proceeds to teach, although he has no real notion of what he means by the principles or passions of which he is speaking, but calls this honorable and that dishonorable, or good or evil, or just or unjust, all in accordance with the tastes and tempers of the great brute. Good he pronounces to be that in which the beast delights, and evil to be that which he dislikes.’ (200-201)
- ‘You recognize the truth of what I have been saying? Then let me ask you to consider further whether the world will ever be induced to believe in the existence of absolute beauty rather than of the many beautiful, or of the absolute in each kind rather than the many in each kind?
Certainly not.
Then the world can not possible be a philosopher?
Impossible.’ (201)
- ‘And what would you expect, I said, when you think of the puny creatures who, seeing this land open to them – a land well stocked with fair names and showy titles – like prisoners running out of prison into a sanctuary, take a leap out of their trades into philosophy.’ (203)
- ‘Seeing the rest of mankind full of wickedness, he is content, if only he can live his own life and be pure from evil or unrighteousness, and depart in peace and goodwill, with bright hopes.
Yes, he said, and he will have done a great work before he departs.
A great work – yes; but not the greatest, unless he find a State suitable to him; for in a State which is suitable to him, he will have a larger growth and be the savior of his country, as well as of himself.’ (205)
- ‘But when the strength of our citizens fails and is past civil military duties [as in senescence], then let them range at will and engage in no serious labor, as we intend them to live happily here, and to crown this life with a similar happiness in another.’ (207)
- ‘And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling which the many entertain toward philosophy originates in the pretenders, who rush in uninvited, and are always abusing them, and finding fault with them, who make persons instead of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can be more unbecoming in philosophers than this.
It is most unbecoming.
For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being, has surely no time to look down upon the affairs of earth, or to be filled with malice and envy, contending against men; his eye is ever diverted towards things fixed and immutable, which he sees neither injuring nor injured by one another, but all in order moving according to reason; these he imitates, and to these he will, as far as he can, conform himself.’ (208)
- ‘One is enough; let there be one man who has a city obedient to his will, and he might bring into existence the ideal polity about which the world is so incredulous.’ (211)
- ‘Many are willing to do or to have or to seem to be what is just and honorable without the reality; but no one is satisfied with the appearance of good – the reality is what they seek; in the case of the good, appearance is despised by everyone.’ (215)
- ‘The good may be said to be not only the author or knowledge to all things known, but of their being and essence, and yet the good is not essence, but far exceeds essence in dignity and power.’ (220)
- ‘When I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason itself attains by the power of the dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses – that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole.’ (222)
- ‘Let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened and unenlightened: Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open toward the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette-players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets… To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.’ (224-225)
- ‘Whether true or false, my opinion is that in a world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.’ (227)
- ‘Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes f are two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh.’ (228)
- ‘If simple unity could be adequately perceived by the sight or by any other sense, then, as we were saying in the case of the finger, there would be nothing to attract toward being; but when there is some contradiction always present, and one is the reverse of one and involves the conception of plurality, then thought begins to be aroused within us, and the soul perplexed and wanting to arrive at a decision asks, ‘What is absolute unity?’ This is the way in which the study of the one has a power of drawing and converting the mind to the contemplation of true being.
And surely, he said, this occurs notably in the case of one; for we see the same thing to be both one and infinite in multitude?
Yes, I said.’ (236-237)
- ‘And all arithmetic and calculation have to do with number?
And they appear to lead the mind towards truth?
Yes, in a very remarkable manner.
Then this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking, having a double use, military and philosophical; for the man of war must learn the art of number or he will not know how to array his troops, and the philosopher must also learn it, because he has to rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being, or else he will never become a true reckoner.’ (237)
- ‘Now having spoken of it, I must add how charming the science is! and in how many ways it conduces the desired end, if pursued in the spirit of a philosopher, and not of a shopkeeper!
How do you mean?
I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect, compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against the introduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument. You know how steadily the masters of the art repel and ridicule anyone who attempts to divide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you divide, they multiply, taking care that one shall continue one and not become lost in fractions.’ (237)
- ‘Then you see that this knowledge may be truly called necessary, necessitating as it clearly does the use of the pure intelligence in the attainment of pure truth?
Yes; that is a marked characteristic of it.
And have you further observed that those who have a natural talent for calculation are generally quick at every other kind of knowledge; and even the dull, if they have had an arithmetical training, although they may derive no other advantage from it, always become much quicker than they otherwise have been?
Very true, he said.’ (238)
- ‘When all these studies reach the point of intercommunication and connection with one another, and come to be considered in their mutual affinities, then, I think, but not till then, will the pursuit of them have a value for our objects; otherwise there is no profit in them.
I suspect so; but you are speaking, Socrates, of a vast work.’ (245)
- ‘We have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic. This is that strain which is of intellect only, but which the faculty of sight will nevertheless by found to imitate; for sight, as you may remember, was imagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last of all the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible.’ (245)
- ‘Dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is by her gentle and lifted upward.’ (247)
- ‘Until the person is able to abstract and define rationally the idea of good, and unless he can run the gauntlet of all objections, and is ready to disprove them, not by appeals to opinion, but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step in the argument – unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows neither the idea of good nor any other good.’ (248)
- ‘Dialectic, then, as you will agree, is the coping-stone of the sciences, and is set over them; no other science can be placed higher – the nature of knowledge can go no further?
            I agree, he said.’ (248)
- ‘And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic, should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however, under any notion of forcing our system of education.
Why not?
Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.’ (250-251)
- ‘Consider the nature of the qualification. Just think what would happen if pilots were chosen according to their property, and a poor man were refused permission to steer, even though he were a better pilot?’ (267)
- ‘The inevitable division: such a State is not one, but two States, the one of the poor, the other of rich men; and they are living on the same spot and always conspiring against one another.’ (268)
- ‘In oligarchical States do you not find paupers?
Yes, he said; nearly everybody is a pauper who is not a ruler.
And may we be so bold as to affirm that there are also many criminals to be found in them, rogues who have strings, and whom the authorities are careful to restrain by force?
            Certainly, we may be so bold.
The existence of such persons is to be attributed to want of education, ill training, and an evil constitution of the State?
True.’ (269)
- ‘And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the ground obediently on either side of their sovereign, and taught them to know their place, he compels the one to think only of how lesser sums may be turned into larger ones, and will not allow the other to worship and admire anything but riches and rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the acquisition of wealth and the means of acquiring it.’ (270)
- ‘Do you know where you will have to look if you want to discover his rogueries?
Where must I look?
You should see him where he has some great opportunity of acting dishonestly, as in the guardianship of an orphan.
It will be clear enough then that in his ordinary dealings which give him a reputation for honesty, he coerces his bad passions by an enforced virtue; not making them see that they are wrong, or taming them by reason, but by necessity, and fear constraining them, and because he trembles for his possessions.’ (271)
- ‘How does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise? Is it not on this wise: the good at which such a State aims is to become as rich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?
What then?
The rulers being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain by their ruin; they take interest from them and buy up their estates and thus increase their own wealth and importance?
To be sure.’ (272)
- ‘Let there be a general rule that everyone shall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there will be less of this scandalous money-making, and the evils of which we were speaking will be greatly lessened in the State.’ (273)
- ‘And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to order for himself his own life as he pleases?
Then in this kind of State there will be the greatest variety of human natures?
There will.
This, then , seems likely to be the fairest of States, being like an embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as women and children think a variety of colors to be of all things most charming, so there are many men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of States.
Yes, my good sir, and there will be no better in which to look for a government.
Because of the liberty which reigns there – they have a complete assortment of constitutions; and he who has a mind to establish a State, as we have been doing, must go to a democracy as he would to a bazaar at which they sell them, and pick out the one that suits him; then, when he has made his choice, he may found his State.’ (275)
- ‘After the old desires have been driven out, fresh ones spring up, which are akin to them, and because his father does not know how to educate him, wax fierce and numerous.
Yes, he said, that is apt to be the way.
They draw him to his old associates, and holding secret intercourse with them, breed and multiply in him.’ (278)
- ‘Neither does he receive or let pass into the fortress any true word of advice; if anyone says to him that some pleasures are the satisfactions of good and noble desires, and others of evil desires, and that he ought to use and honor some, and chastise and master the others – whenever this is repeated to him he shakes his hand and says that one is as good as another.
Yes, he said; that is the way with him.
Yes, I said, he lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the hour; and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute; then he becomes a water-drinker, and tries to get thin; then he takes a turn at gymnastics; sometimes idling and neglecting everything, then once more living the life of a philosopher; often he is busy with politics, and starts to his feet and says and does whatever comes to his head; and, if he is emulous of anyone who is a warrior, off he is in that direction, or of men of business, once more in that. His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he goes on.
Yes, he replied, he is all liberty and equality…
Let him then by set over against democracy; he may truly be called the democratic man.’ (280)
- ‘The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy – the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government.’ (283)
- ‘The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.
Yes, that is their way.
This, and no other, is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he a protector.
Yes, that is quite clear.
How then, does a protector begin to change into a tyrant… having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by his favorite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow-citizens; some he kills and others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf – that is, a tyrant?
This, I said, is he who begins to make a party against the rich?
The same.
After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, a tyrant full grown… Then comes the famous request for a body-guard, which is the device of all those who have got thus far in their tyrannical career – ‘Let not the people’s friend,’ as they say, ‘be lost to them.’
The people readily assent; all their fears are for him – they have none for themselves.’ (285)
- ‘At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes everyone whom he meets; he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private! liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to everyone!
Of course, he said.
But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.’ (287)
- ‘When a man’s pulse is healthy and temperate, and when before going to sleep he has awakened his rational powers, and fed them on noble thoughts and inquiries, collecting himself in meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep… he attains truth most nearly, and is least likely to be the sport of fantastic and lawless visions.’ (291-292)
- ‘In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.’ (292)
- ‘When such men [tyrants] are only private individuals and before they get power, this is their character; they associate entirely with their own flatterers or ready tools; or if they want anything from anybody, they in their turn are equally ready to bow down before them: they profess every sort of affection for them; but when they have gained their point they know them no more.’ (296)
- ’Imagine one of the owners, the master say of some fifty slaves, together with his family and property and slaves, carried off by a god into the wilderness, where there are no freeman to help him – will he not be in an agony of fear lest he and his wife and children should be put to death by his slaves?
Yes, he said, he will be in the utmost fear.
The time has arrived when he will be compelled to flatter several of his slaves, and make many promises to them of freedom and other things, much against his will – he will have to cajole his own servants.
Yes, he said, that will be the only way of saving himself.
And suppose the same god, who carried him away, to surround him with neighbors who will not suffer one man to be the master of another, and who, if they could catch the offender, would take his life?
His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be everywhere surrounded and watched by enemies.
And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will be bound – he who being by nature such as we have described, is full of all sorts of fears and lists? His soul is dainty and greedy, and yet alone, of all men in the city, he is never allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which other freemen desire to see, but he lives in his hole like a woman hidden in the house.’ (300-301)
- ‘And has not the body itself less of truth and essence than the soul?
Yes.’ (310)
- ‘Those, then, who know not wisdom and virtue, and are always busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up again as far as the mean; and in this region they move at random throughout life, but they never pass into the true upperworld; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find their way, neither are they truly filled with true being nor do they taste of pure and abiding pleasure. Like cattle, with their eyes always looking down and their heads stooping to the earth, that is, to the dining table, they fatten and feed and breed, and, in their excessive love of these delights, they kick and butt at one another with horns and hoofs which are made of iron; and they kill one another by reason of their insatiable lust. For they fill themselves with that which is not substantial, and the part of themselves which they fill is also unsubstantial and incontinent.’ (310)
- ‘The best of us, as I conceive, when we listen to a passage of Homer or one of the tragedians, in which he represents some pitiful hero who is drawling out his sorrows in a long oration, or weeping, and smiting his breast – the best of us, you know, delight in giving way to sympathy, and are in raptures at the excellence of the poet who stirs our feelings most.
Yes, of course, I know.
But when any sorrow of our own happens to us, then you may observe that we pride ourselves on the opposite quality – we would fain be quiet and patient; this is the manly part, and the other which delighted us in the recitation is now deemed to be the part of a women.
Very true, he said.
Now can we be right in praising and admiring another who is doing that which any one of us would abominate and be ashamed of in his own person?
No, he said, that is certainly not reasonable.’ (333)
- ‘And the same may be said of lust and anger and all the other affections, of desire, and of pain, and pleasure, which are held to be inseparable from every action – in all of them poetry feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up; she lets them rule, although they ought to be controlled, if mankind are ever to increase in happiness and virtue.
I cannot deny it.
Therefore, Glaucon, I said, whenever you meet with any of the eulogists of Homer declaring that he has been the educator of Hellas and that he is profitable for education and for the ordering of human things, and that you should take him up again and again and get to know him and regulate your whole life according to him, we may love and honor those who say these things – they are excellent people, as far as their lights extend; and we are ready to acknowledge that Homer is the greatest of poets and first of tragedy writers; but we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praises of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our State. For if you go beyond this and allow the honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or lyric verse, pleasure and pain will be kings in your state, and not law and the rational principle that is always judged best for the common interest.’ (334)
- ‘Are you not aware, I said, that the soul of man is immortal and imperishable?
He looked at me in astonishment, and said: No, by heaven: And are you really prepared to maintain this?
Yes, I said, I ought to be, and you too – there is no difficulty in proving it.’ (336)
- ‘If, then, we find any nature which having this inherent corruption cannot be dissolved or destroyed, we may be certain that of such a nature there is no destruction?
That may be assumed.
Well, I said, and is there no evil which corrupts the soul?
Yes, he said, there are all the evils which we were just now passing in review: unrighteousness, intemperance, cowardice, ignorance.
But does any of them dissolve or destroy her?’ (337)
- ‘Either, then, let us refute this conclusion, or, while it remains unrefuted, let us never say that fever, or any other disease, or the knife put to the throat, or even the cutting up of the whole body into the minutest pieces, can destroy the soul, until she herself is proved to become more unholy or unrighteous in consequence if these things being done to the body; but that the soul, or anything else if not destroyed by an internal evil, can be destroyed by an external one, is not to be affirmed by any man.
And surely, he replied, no one will ever prove that the souls of men become more unjust in consequence of death.
But if someone who would rather not admit the immortality of the soul boldly denies this, and says that the dying do really become more evil and unrighteous, then, if the speaker is right, I suppose that injustice, like disease, must be assumed to be fatal to the unjust, and that those who take this disorder die by the natural inherent power of destruction which evil has, and which kills them sooner or later, but in quite another way from that in which, at present, the wicked receive death at the hands of others are the penalty of their deeds?’ (338-339)
- ‘And thus, I said, we have fulfilled the conditions of the argument; we have not introduced the rewards and glories of justice, which as you were saying, are to be found in Homer and Hesiod; but justice in her own nature has been shown to be the best for the soul in her own nature.’ (341)
- ‘Look at things as they really are, and you will see that the clever unjust are in the case of runners, who run well from the starting-place to the post, but not back again from the post: they go off at a great pace, but in the end only look foolish, slinking away with their ears draggling on their shoulders, and without a crown; but the true runner comes to the finish and receives the prize and is crowned. And this is the way with the just; he who endures to the end of every action and occasion of his entire life has a good report and carries off the prize which men have to bestow.’ (342)
- ‘Let each one of us leave every other kind of knowledge and seek and follow one thing only, if peradventure he may be able to learn and may find someone who will make him able to learn and discern between good and evil, and so to choose always and everywhere the better life as he has opportunity. He should consider the bearing of all these things which have been mentioned severally and collectively upon virtue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when combined with poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and what are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth, of private and public station, of strength and weakness, of cleverness and dullness, and of all the natural and acquired gifts of the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined; he will then look at the nature of the soul, and from the consideration of all these qualities he will be able to determine which is the better and which is the worse; and so he will choose, giving the name of evil to the life which will make his soul more unjust, and good to the life which will make his soul more just; all else he will disregard. For we have seen and know that this is the best choice both in life and after death. A man must take with him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth and right, then there too he may be undazzled by the desire of wealth of the other allurements of evil, lest, coming upon tyrannies and similar villainies, he do irremediable wrongs to others and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For this is the way of happiness.’ (348-349)
- ‘Wherefore my counsel is that we hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus we shall live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years [death] which we have been describing.’ (351-352)

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