translated by Benjamin Jowett
Book IV - Wealth, Poverty, and Virtue
ADEIMANTUS - SOCRATES
HERE Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer,
Socrates, said he, if a person were to say that you are making
these people miserable, and that they are the cause of their own
unhappiness; the city in fact belongs to them, but they are none
the better for it; whereas other men acquire lands, and build
large and handsome houses, and have everything handsome about
them, offering sacrifices to the gods on their own account, and
practising hospitality; moreover, as you were saying just now,
they have gold and silver, and all that is usual among the
favourites of fortune; but our poor citizens are no better than
mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting
Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not
paid in addition to their food, like other men; and therefore
they cannot, if they would, take a journey of pleasure; they have
no money to spend on a mistress or any other luxurious fancy,
which, as the world goes, is thought to be happiness; and many
other accusations of the same nature might be added.
But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the
You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?
If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that
we shall find the answer. And our answer will be that, even as
they are, our guardians may very likely be the happiest of men;
but that our aim in founding the State was not the
disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest
happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which is
ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most
likely to find Justice, and in the ill-ordered State injustice:
and, having found them, we might then decide which of the two is
the happier. At present, I take it, we are fashioning the happy
State, not piecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy
citizens, but as a whole; and by-and-by we will proceed to view
the opposite kind of State. Suppose that we were painting a
statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not put
the most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the
body --the eyes ought to be purple, but you have made them black
--to him we might fairly answer, Sir, you would not surely have
us beautify the eyes to such a degree that they are no longer
eyes; consider rather whether, by giving this and the other
features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful. And
so I say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a
sort of happiness which will make them anything but guardians;
for we too can clothe our husbandmen in royal apparel, and set
crowns of gold on their heads, and bid them till the ground as
much as they like, and no more. Our potters also might be allowed
to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside, passing round
the winecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and
working at pottery only as much as they like; in this way we
might make every class happy-and then, as you imagine, the whole
State would be happy. But do not put this idea into our heads;
for, if we listen to you, the husbandman will be no longer a
husbandman, the potter will cease to be a potter, and no one will
have the character of any distinct class in the State. Now this
is not of much consequence where the corruption of society, and
pretension to be what you are not, is confined to cobblers; but
when the guardians of the laws and of the government are only
seemingly and not real guardians, then see how they turn the
State upside down; and on the other hand they alone have the
power of giving order and happiness to the State. We mean our
guardians to be true saviours and not the destroyers of the
State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasants at a
festival, who are enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who
are doing their duty to the State. But, if so, we mean different
things, and he is speaking of something which is not a State. And
therefore we must consider whether in appointing our guardians we
would look to their greatest happiness individually, or whether
this principle of happiness does not rather reside in the State
as a whole. But the latter be the truth, then the guardians and
auxillaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled
or induced to do their own work in the best way. And thus the
whole State will grow up in a noble order, and the several
classes will receive the proportion of happiness which nature
assigns to them.
I think that you are quite right.
I wonder whether you will agree with another remark which
occurs to me.
What may that be?
There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.
What are they?
Wealth, I said, and poverty.
How do they act?
The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will
he, think you, any longer take the same pains with his art?
He will grow more and more indolent and careless?
And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?
Yes; he greatly deteriorates.
But, on the other hand, if he has no money, and cannot provide
himself tools or instruments, he will not work equally well
himself, nor will he teach his sons or apprentices to work
Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth,
workmen and their work are equally liable to degenerate?
That is evident.
Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which
the guardians will have to watch, or they will creep into the
Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury
and indolence, and the other of meanness and viciousness, and
both of discontent.
That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to
know, Socrates, how our city will be able to go to war,
especially against an enemy who is rich and powerful, if deprived
of the sinews of war.
There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to
war with one such enemy; but there is no difficulty where there
are two of them.
How so? he asked.
In the first place, I said, if we have to fight, our side will
be trained warriors fighting against an army of rich men.
That is true, he said.
And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who
was perfect in his art would easily be a match for two stout and
well-to-do gentlemen who were not boxers?
Hardly, if they came upon him at once.
What, not, I said, if he were able to run away and then turn
and strike at the one who first came up? And supposing he were to
do this several times under the heat of a scorching sun, might he
not, being an expert, overturn more than one stout personage?
Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in that.
And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in the
science and practice of boxing than they have in military
Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight
with two or three times their own number?
I agree with you, for I think you right.
And 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, of and take
the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these words, would
choose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather th than, with the
dogs on their side, against fat and tender sheep?
That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the
poor State if the wealth of many States were to be gathered into
But how simple of you to use the term State at all of any but
You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not
one of them is a city, but many cities, as they say in the game.
For indeed any city, however small, is in fact divided into two,
one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war
with one another; and in either there are many smaller divisions,
and you would be altogether beside the mark if you treated them
all as a single State. But if you deal with them as many, and
give the wealth or power or persons of the one to the others, you
will always have a great many friends and not many enemies. And
your State, while the wise order which has now been prescribed
continues to prevail in her, will be the greatest of States, I do
not mean to say in reputation or appearance, but in deed and
truth, though she number not more than a thousand defenders. A
single State which is her equal you will hardly find, either
among Hellenes or barbarians, though many that appear to be as
great and many times greater.
That is most true, he said.
And what, I said, will be the best limit for our rulers to fix
when they are considering the size of the State and the amount of
territory which they are to include, and beyond which they will
What limit would you propose?
I would allow the State to increase so far as is consistent
with unity; that, I think, is the proper limit.
Very good, he said.
Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be
conveyed to our guardians: Let our city be accounted neither
large nor small, but one and self-sufficing.
And surely, said he, this is not a very severe order which we
impose upon them.
And the other, said I, of which we were speaking before is
lighter still, -I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of the
guardians when inferior, and of elevating into the rank of
guardians the offspring of the lower classes, when naturally
superior. The intention was, that, in the case of the citizens
generally, each individual should be put to the use for which
nature which nature intended him, one to one work, and then every
man would do his own business, and be one and not many; and so
the whole city would be one and not many.
Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.
The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adeimantus,
are not, as might be supposed, a number of great principles, but
trifles all, if care be taken, as the saying is, of the one great
thing, --a thing, however, which I would rather call, not great,
but sufficient for our purpose.
What may that be? he asked.
Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well
educated, and grow into sensible men, they will easily see their
way through all these, as well as other matters which I omit;
such, for example, as marriage, the possession of women and the
procreation of children, which will all follow the general
principle that friends have all things in common, as the proverb
That will be the best way of settling them.
Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with
accumulating force like a wheel. For good nurture and education
implant good constitutions, and these good constitutions taking
root in a good education improve more and more, and this
improvement affects the breed in man as in other animals.
Very possibly, he said.
Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the
attention of our rulers should be directed, --that music and
gymnastic be preserved in their original form, and no innovation
made. They must do their utmost to maintain them intact. And when
any one says that mankind most regard The newest song which the
singers have, they will be afraid that he may be praising, not
new songs, but a new kind of song; and this ought not to be
praised, or conceived to be the meaning of the poet; for any
musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and
ought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite
believe him;-he says that when modes of music change, of the
State always change with them.
Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon's
and your own.
Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their
fortress in music?
Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily
Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight
it appears harmless.
Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that
little by little this spirit of licence, finding a home,
imperceptibly penetrates into manners and customs; whence,
issuing with greater force, it invades contracts between man and
man, and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in
utter recklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an overthrow of
all rights, private as well as public.
Is that true? I said.
That is my belief, he replied.
Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained from the
first in a stricter system, for if amusements become lawless, and
the youths themselves become lawless, they can never grow up into
well-conducted and virtuous citizens.
Very true, he said.
And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the
help of music have gained the habit of good order, then this
habit of order, in a manner how unlike the lawless play of the
others! will accompany them in all their actions and be a
principle of growth to them, and if there be any fallen places a
principle in the State will raise them up again.
Very true, he said.
Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser
rules which their predecessors have altogether neglected.
What do you mean?
I mean such things as these: --when the young are to be silent
before their elders; how they are to show respect to them by
standing and making them sit; what honour is due to parents; what
garments or shoes are to be worn; the mode of dressing the hair;
deportment and manners in general. You would agree with me?
But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such
matters, --I doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise
written enactments about them likely to be lasting.
It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which
education starts a man, will determine his future life. Does not
like always attract like?
To be sure.
Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be
good, and may be the reverse of good?
That is not to be denied.
And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate
further about them.
Naturally enough, he replied.
Well, and about the business of the agora, dealings and the
ordinary dealings between man and man, or again about agreements
with the commencement with artisans; about insult and injury, of
the commencement of actions, and the appointment of juries, what
would you say? there may also arise questions about any
impositions and extractions of market and harbour dues which may
be required, and in general about the regulations of markets,
police, harbours, and the like. But, oh heavens! shall we
condescend to legislate on any of these particulars?
I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about
them on good men; what regulations are necessary they will find
out soon enough for themselves.
Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the
laws which we have given them.
And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for
ever making and mending their laws and their lives in the hope of
You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having
no self-restraint, will not leave off their habits of
Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are
always doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders,
and always fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum which
anybody advises them to try.
Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this
Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him
their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that,
unless they give up eating and drinking and wenching and idling,
neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amulet nor any other
remedy will avail.
Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a
passion with a man who tells you what is right.
These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good graces.
Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like
the men whom I was just now describing. For are there not ill-ordered
States in which the citizens are forbidden under pain of death to
alter the constitution; and yet he who most sweetly courts those
who live under this regime and indulges them and fawns upon them
and is skilful in anticipating and gratifying their humours is
held to be a great and good statesman --do not these States
resemble the persons whom I was describing?
Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am very
far from praising them.
But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity of
these ready ministers of political corruption?
Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are some
whom the applause of the multitude has deluded into the belief
that they are really statesmen, and these are not much to be
What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for
them. When a man cannot measure, and a great many others who
cannot measure declare that he is four cubits high, can he help
believing what they say?
Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.
Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as
good as a play, trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was
describing; they are always fancying that by legislation they
will make an end of frauds in contracts, and the other
rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that they are in
reality cutting off the heads of a hydra?
Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.
I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble
himself with this class of enactments whether concerning laws or
the constitution either in an ill-ordered or in a well-ordered
State; for in the former they are quite useless, and in the
latter there will be no difficulty in devising them; and many of
them will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.
What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of
Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the God of Delphi,
there remains the ordering of the greatest and noblest and
chiefest things of all.
Which are they? he said.
The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire
service of gods, demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the
repositories of the dead, and the rites which have to be observed
by him who would propitiate the inhabitants of the world below.
These are matters of which we are ignorant ourselves, and as
founders of a city we should be unwise in trusting them to any
interpreter but our ancestral deity. He is the god who sits in
the center, on the navel of the earth, and he is the interpreter
of religion to all mankind.
You are right, and we will do as you propose.
But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me
where. Now that our city has been made habitable, light a candle
and search, and get your brother and Polemarchus and the rest of
our friends to help, and let us see where in it we can discover
justice and where injustice, and in what they differ from one
another, and which of them the man who would be happy should have
for his portion, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search
yourself, saying that for you not to help justice in her need
would be an impiety?
I do not deny that I said so, and as you remind me, I will be
as good as my word; but you must join.
We will, he replied.
Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I mean
to begin with the assumption that our State, if rightly ordered,
That is most certain.
And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate
That is likewise clear.
And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one
which is not found will be the residue?
If there were four things, and we were searching for one of
them, wherever it might be, the one sought for might be known to
us from the first, and there would be no further trouble; or we
might know the other three first, and then the fourth would
clearly be the one left.
Very true, he said.
And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues,
which are also four in number?
First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes into
view, and in this I detect a certain peculiarity.
What is that?
The State which we have been describing is said to be wise as
being good in counsel?
And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not by
ignorance, but by knowledge, do men counsel well?
And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?
There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the sort
of knowledge which gives a city the title of wise and good in
Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation of
skill in carpentering.
Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a
knowledge which counsels for the best about wooden implements?
Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots,
I said, nor as possessing any other similar knowledge?
Not by reason of any of them, he said.
Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth;
that would give the city the name of agricultural?
Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently
founded State among any of the citizens which advises, not about
any particular thing in the State, but about the whole, and
considers how a State can best deal with itself and with other
There certainly is.
And what is knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.
It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and found
among those whom we were just now describing as perfect guardians.
And what is the name which the city derives from the
possession of this sort of knowledge?
The name of good in counsel and truly wise.
And will there be in our city more of these true guardians or
The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.
Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who
receive a name from the profession of some kind of knowledge?
Much the smallest.
And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the
knowledge which resides in this presiding and ruling part of
itself, the whole State, being thus constituted according to
nature, will be wise; and this, which has the only knowledge
worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to be of
all classes the least.
Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one
of the four virtues has somehow or other been discovered.
And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered, he
Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of
courage; and in what part that quality resides which gives the
name of courageous to the State.
How do you mean?
Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or
cowardly, will be thinking of the part which fights and goes out
to war on the State's behalf.
No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.
The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly
but their courage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the
effect of making the city either the one or the other.
The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself
which preserves under all circumstances that opinion about the
nature of things to be feared and not to be feared in which our
legislator educated them; and this is what you term courage.
I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do
not think that I perfectly understand you.
I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.
Salvation of what?
Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are
and of what nature, which the law implants through education; and
I mean by the words 'under all circumstances' to intimate that in
pleasure or in pain, or under the influence of desire or fear, a
man preserves, and does not lose this opinion. Shall I give you
If you please.
You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for
making the true sea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour
first; this they prepare and dress with much care and pains, in
order that the white ground may take the purple hue in full
perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever is dyed in
this manner becomes a fast colour, and no washing either with
lyes or without them can take away the bloom. But, when the
ground has not been duly prepared, you will have noticed how poor
is the look either of purple or of any other colour.
Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and
Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was in
selecting our soldiers, and educating them in music and
gymnastic; we were contriving influences which would prepare them
to take the dye of the laws in perfection, and the colour of
their opinion about dangers and of every other opinion was to be
indelibly fixed by their nurture and training, not to be washed
away by such potent lyes as pleasure --mightier agent far in
washing the soul than any soda or lye; or by sorrow, fear, and
desire, the mightiest of all other solvents. And this sort of
universal saving power of true opinion in conformity with law
about real and false dangers I call and maintain to be courage,
unless you disagree.
But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to
exclude mere uninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast
or of a slave --this, in your opinion, is not the courage which
the law ordains, and ought to have another name.
Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?
Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words 'of a
citizen,' you will not be far wrong; --hereafter, if you like, we
will carry the examination further, but at present we are we w
seeking not for courage but justice; and for the purpose of our
enquiry we have said enough.
You are right, he replied.
Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State-first
temperance, and then justice which is the end of our search.
Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about
I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I
desire that justice should be brought to light and temperance
lost sight of; and therefore I wish that you would do me the
favour of considering temperance first.
Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing
Then consider, he said.
Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see,
the virtue of temperance has more of the nature of harmony and
symphony than the preceding.
How so? he asked.
Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of
certain pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied
in the saying of 'a man being his own master' and other traces of
the same notion may be found in language.
No doubt, he said.
There is something ridiculous in the expression 'master of
himself'; for the master is also the servant and the servant the
master; and in all these modes of speaking the same person is
The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a
better and also a worse principle; and when the better has the
worse under control, then a man is said to be master of himself;
and this is a term of praise: but when, owing to evil education
or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller,
is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse --in this case he
is blamed and is called the slave of self and unprincipled.
Yes, there is reason in that.
And now, I said, look at our newly created State, and there
you will find one of these two conditions realised; for the
State, as you will acknowledge, may be justly called master of
itself, if the words 'temperance' and 'self-mastery' truly
express the rule of the better part over the worse.
Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.
Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures
and desires and pains are generally found in children and women
and servants, and in the freemen so called who are of the lowest
and more numerous class.
Certainly, he said.
Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason,
and are under the guidance of mind and true opinion, are to be
found only in a few, and those the best born and best educated.
Very true. These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our
State; and the meaner desires of the are held down by the
virtuous desires and wisdom of the few.
That I perceive, he said.
Then if there be any city which may be described as master of
its own pleasures and desires, and master of itself, ours may
claim such a designation?
Certainly, he replied.
It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?
And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be
agreed as to the question who are to rule, that again will be our
And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which
class will temperance be found --in the rulers or in the
In both, as I should imagine, he replied.
Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess that
temperance was a sort of harmony?
Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of
which resides in a part only, the one making the State wise and
the other valiant; not so temperance, which extends to the whole,
and runs through all the notes of the scale, and produces a
harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the middle class,
whether you suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom or
power or numbers or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may
we deem temperance to be the agreement of the naturally superior
and inferior, as to the right to rule of either, both in states
I entirely agree with you.
And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues
to have been discovered in our State. The last of those qualities
which make a state virtuous must be justice, if we only knew what
The inference is obvious.
The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we
should surround the cover, and look sharp that justice does not
steal away, and pass out of sight and escape us; for beyond a
doubt she is somewhere in this country: watch therefore and
strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see her first, let me
Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a
follower who has just eyes enough to, see what you show him --that
is about as much as I am good for.
Offer up a prayer with me and follow.
I will, but you must show me the way.
Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing;
still we must push on.
Let us push on.
Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a
track, and I believe that the quarry will not escape.
Good news, he said.
Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.
Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago,
there was justice tumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her;
nothing could be more ridiculous. Like people who go about
looking for what they have in their hands --that was the way with
us --we looked not at what we were seeking, but at what was far
off in the distance; and therefore, I suppose, we missed her.
What do you mean?
I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have
been talking of justice, and have failed to recognise her.
I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.
Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You
remember the original principle which we were always laying down
at the foundation of the State, that one man should practise one
thing only, the thing to which his nature was best adapted; --now
justice is this principle or a part of it.
Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.
Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one's own
business, and not being a busybody; we said so again and again,
and many others have said the same to us.
Yes, we said so.
Then to do one's own business in a certain way may be assumed
to be justice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?
I cannot, but I should like to be told.
Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains in
the State when the other virtues of temperance and courage and
wisdom are abstracted; and, that this is the ultimate cause and
condition of the existence of all of them, and while remaining in
them is also their preservative; and we were saying that if the
three were discovered by us, justice would be the fourth or
That follows of necessity.
If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities by
its presence contributes most to the excellence of the State,
whether the agreement of rulers and subjects, or the preservation
in the soldiers of the opinion which the law ordains about the
true nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness in the rulers,
or whether this other which I am mentioning, and which is found
in children and women, slave and freeman, artisan, ruler,
subject, --the quality, I mean, of every one doing his own work,
and not being a busybody, would claim the palm --the question is
not so easily answered.
Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying
Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own
work appears to compete with the other political virtues, wisdom,
Yes, he said.
And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?
Let us look at the question from another point of view: Are
not the rulers in a State those to whom you would entrust the
office of determining suits at law?
And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may
neither take what is another's, nor be deprived of what is his
Yes; that is their principle.
Which is a just principle?
Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the
having and doing what is a man's own, and belongs to him?
Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose
a carpenter to be doing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler
of a carpenter; and suppose them to exchange their implements or
their duties, or the same person to be doing the work of both, or
whatever be the change; do you think that any great harm would
result to the State?
But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to
be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or
the number of his followers, or any like advantage, attempts to
force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior into that
of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted, and
either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or when
one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I
think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange and
this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State.
Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes,
any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into
another, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most
justly termed evil-doing?
And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one's own city would
be termed by you injustice?
This then is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader,
the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business, that
is justice, and will make the city just.
I agree with you.
We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on
trial, this conception of justice be verified in the individual
as well as in the State, there will be no longer any room for
doubt; if it be not verified, we must have a fresh enquiry. First
let us complete the old investigation, which we began, as you
remember, under the impression that, if we could previously
examine justice on the larger scale, there would be less
difficulty in discerning her in the individual. That larger
example appeared to be the State, and accordingly we constructed
as good a one as we could, knowing well that in the good State
justice would be found. Let the discovery which we made be now
applied to the individual --if they agree, we shall be satisfied;
or, if there be a difference in the individual, we will come back
to the State and have another trial of the theory. The friction
of the two when rubbed together may possibly strike a light in
which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is then
revealed we will fix in our souls.
That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.
I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less, are
called by the same name, are they like or unlike in so far as
they are called the same?
Like, he replied.
The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will
be like the just State?
And a State was thought by us to be just when the three
classes in the State severally did their own business; and also
thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain
other affections and qualities of these same classes?
True, he said.
And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same
three principles in his own soul which are found in the State;
and he may be rightly described in the same terms, because he is
affected in the same manner?
Certainly, he said.
Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easy
question --whether the soul has these three principles or not?
An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds
that hard is the good.
Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which we
are employing is at all adequate to the accurate solution of this
question; the true method is another and a longer one. Still we
may arrive at a solution not below the level of the previous
May we not be satisfied with that? he said; --under the
circumstances, I am quite content.
I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.
Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.
Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are
the same principles and habits which there are in the State; and
that from the individual they pass into the State? --how else can
they come there? Take the quality of passion or spirit; --it
would be ridiculous to imagine that this quality, when found in
States, is not derived from the individuals who are supposed to
possess it, e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general the
northern nations; and the same may be said of the love of
knowledge, which is the special characteristic of our part of the
world, or of the love of money, which may, with equal truth, be
attributed to the Phoenicians and Egyptians.
Exactly so, he said.
There is no difficulty in understanding this.
But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask
whether these principles are three or one; whether, that is to
say, we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with
another, and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our
natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes into play in
each sort of action --to determine that is the difficulty.
Yes, he said; there lies the difficulty.
Then let us now try and determine whether they are the same or
How can we? he asked.
I replied as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be
acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing at
the same time, in contrary ways; and therefore whenever this
contradiction occurs in things apparently the same, we know that
they are really not the same, but different.
For example, I said, can the same thing be at rest and in
motion at the same time in the same part?
Still, I said, let us have a more precise statement of terms,
lest we should hereafter fall out by the way. Imagine the case of
a man who is standing and also moving his hands and his head, and
suppose a person to say that one and the same person is in motion
and at rest at the same moment-to such a mode of speech we should
object, and should rather say that one part of him is in motion
while another is at rest.
And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw
the nice distinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops,
when they spin round with their pegs fixed on the spot, are at
rest and in motion at the same time (and he may say the same of
anything which revolves in the same spot), his objection would
not be admitted by us, because in such cases things are not at
rest and in motion in the same parts of themselves; we should
rather say that they have both an axis and a circumference, and
that the axis stands still, for there is no deviation from the
perpendicular; and that the circumference goes round. But if,
while revolving, the axis inclines either to the right or left,
forwards or backwards, then in no point of view can they be at
That is the correct mode of describing them, he replied.
Then none of these objections will confuse us, or incline us
to believe that the same thing at the same time, in the same part
or in relation to the same thing, can act or be acted upon in
Certainly not, according to my way of thinking.
Yet, I said, that we may not be compelled to examine all such
objections, and prove at length that they are untrue, let us
assume their absurdity, and go forward on the understanding that
hereafter, if this assumption turn out to be untrue, all the
consequences which follow shall be withdrawn.
Yes, he said, that will be the best way.
Well, I said, would you not allow that assent and dissent,
desire and aversion, attraction and repulsion, are all of them
opposites, whether they are regarded as active or passive (for
that makes no difference in the fact of their opposition)?
Yes, he said, they are opposites.
Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in
general, and again willing and wishing, --all these you would
refer to the classes already mentioned. You would say --would you
not? --that the soul of him who desires is seeking after the
object of his desires; or that he is drawing to himself the thing
which he wishes to possess: or again, when a person wants
anything to be given him, his mind, longing for the realisation
of his desires, intimates his wish to have it by a nod of assent,
as if he had been asked a question?
And what would you say of unwillingness and dislike and the
absence of desire; should not these be referred to the opposite
class of repulsion and rejection?
Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose
a particular class of desires, and out of these we will select
hunger and thirst, as they are termed, which are the most obvious
Let us take that class, he said.
The object of one is food, and of the other drink?
And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the
soul has of drink, and of drink only; not of drink qualified by
anything else; for example, warm or cold, or much or little, or,
in a word, drink of any particular sort: but if the thirst be
accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink; or, if
accompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be
excessive, then the drink which is desired will be excessive; or,
if not great, the quantity of drink will also be small: but
thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure and simple, which
is the natural satisfaction of thirst, as food is of hunger?
Yes, he said; the simple desire is, as you say, in every case
of the simple object, and the qualified desire of the qualified
But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard
against an opponent starting up and saying that no man desires
drink only, but good drink, or food only, but good food; for good
is the universal object of desire, and thirst being a desire,
will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the same is true
of every other desire.
Yes, he replied, the opponent might have something to say.
Nevertheless I should still maintain, that of relatives some
have a quality attached to either term of the relation; others
are simple and have their correlatives simple.
I do not know what you mean.
Well, you know of course that the greater is relative to the
And the much greater to the much less?
And the sometime greater to the sometime less, and the greater
that is to be to the less that is to be?
Certainly, he said.
And so of more and less, and of other correlative terms, such
as the double and the half, or again, the heavier and the
lighter, the swifter and the slower; and of hot and cold, and of
any other relatives; --is not this true of all of them?
And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The
object of science is knowledge (assuming that to be the true
definition), but the object of a particular science is a
particular kind of knowledge; I mean, for example, that the
science of house-building is a kind of knowledge which is defined
and distinguished from other kinds and is therefore termed
Because it has a particular quality which no other has?
And it has this particular quality because it has an object of
a particular kind; and this is true of the other arts and
Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will understand my
original meaning in what I said about relatives. My meaning was,
that if one term of a relation is taken alone, the other is taken
alone; if one term is qualified, the other is also qualified. I
do not mean to say that relatives may not be disparate, or that
the science of health is healthy, or of disease necessarily
diseased, or that the sciences of good and evil are therefore
good and evil; but only that, when the term science is no longer
used absolutely, but has a qualified object which in this case is
the nature of health and disease, it becomes defined, and is
hence called not merely science, but the science of medicine.
I quite understand, and I think as you do.
Would you not say that thirst is one of these essentially
relative terms, having clearly a relation --
Yes, thirst is relative to drink.
And a certain kind of thirst is relative to a certain kind of
drink; but thirst taken alone is neither of much nor little, nor
of good nor bad, nor of any particular kind of drink, but of
Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty,
desires only drink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it?
That is plain.
And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away
from drink, that must be different from the thirsty principle
which draws him like a beast to drink; for, as we were saying,
the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of
itself act in contrary ways about the same.
No more than you can say that the hands of the archer push and
pull the bow at the same time, but what you say is that one hand
pushes and the other pulls.
Exactly so, he replied.
And might a man be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink?
Yes, he said, it constantly happens.
And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that
there was something in the soul bidding a man to drink, and
something else forbidding him, which is other and stronger than
the principle which bids him?
I should say so.
And the forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that
which bids and attracts proceeds from passion and disease?
Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they
differ from one another; the one with which man reasons, we may
call the rational principle of the soul, the other, with which he
loves and hungers and thirsts and feels the flutterings of any
other desire, may be termed the irrational or appetitive, the
ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions?
Yes, he said, we may fairly assume them to be different.
Then let us finally determine that there are two principles
existing in the soul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a
third, or akin to one of the preceding?
I should be inclined to say --akin to desire.
Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard,
and in which I put faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of
Aglaion, coming up one day from the Piraeus, under the north wall
on the outside, observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at
the place of execution. He felt a desire to see them, and also a
dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled and covered
his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and
forcing them open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye
wretches, take your fill of the fair sight.
I have heard the story myself, he said.
The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with
desire, as though they were two distinct things.
Yes; that is the meaning, he said.
And are there not many other cases in which we observe that
when a man's desires violently prevail over his reason, he
reviles himself, and is angry at the violence within him, and
that in this struggle, which is like the struggle of factions in
a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason; --but for the
passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires when
reason that she should not be opposed, is a sort of thing which
thing which I believe that you never observed occurring in
yourself, nor, as I should imagine, in any one else?
Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the
nobler he is the less able is he to feel indignant at any
suffering, such as hunger, or cold, or any other pain which the
injured person may inflict upon him --these he deems to be just,
and, as I say, his anger refuses to be excited by them.
True, he said.
But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then
he boils and chafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be
justice; and because he suffers hunger or cold or other pain he
is only the more determined to persevere and conquer. His noble
spirit will not be quelled until he either slays or is slain; or
until he hears the voice of the shepherd, that is, reason,
bidding his dog bark no more.
The illustration is perfect, he replied; and in our State, as
we were saying, the auxiliaries were to be dogs, and to hear the
voice of the rulers, who are their shepherds.
I perceive, I said, that you quite understand me; there is,
however, a further point which I wish you to consider.
You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight to
be a kind of desire, but now we should say quite the contrary;
for in the conflict of the soul spirit is arrayed on the side of
the rational principle.
But a further question arises: Is passion different from
reason also, or only a kind of reason; in which latter case,
instead of three principles in the soul, there will only be two,
the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as the State was
composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so
may there not be in the individual soul a third element which is
passion or spirit, and when not corrupted by bad education is the
natural auxiliary of reason
Yes, he said, there must be a third.
Yes, I replied, if passion, which has already been shown to be
different from desire, turn out also to be different from reason.
But that is easily proved: --We may observe even in young
children that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they are
born, whereas some of them never seem to attain to the use of
reason, and most of them late enough.
Excellent, I said, and you may see passion equally in brute
animals, which is a further proof of the truth of what you are
saying. And we may once more appeal to the words of Homer, which
have been already quoted by us, He smote his breast, and thus
rebuked his soul, for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed
the power which reasons about the better and worse to be
different from the unreasoning anger which is rebuked by it.
Very true, he said.
And so, after much tossing, we have reached land, and are
fairly agreed that the same principles which exist in the State
exist also in the individual, and that they are three in number.
Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the same
way, and in virtue of the same quality which makes the State
Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the
State constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the
State and the individual bear the same relation to all the other
And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in
the same way in which the State is just?
That follows, of course.
We cannot but remember that the justice of the State consisted
in each of the three classes doing the work of its own class?
We are not very likely to have forgotten, he said.
We must recollect that the individual in whom the several
qualities of his nature do their own work will be just, and will
do his own work?
Yes, he said, we must remember that too.
And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has
the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or
spirited principle to be the subject and ally?
And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and
gymnastic will bring them into accord, nerving and sustaining the
reason with noble words and lessons, and moderating and soothing
and civilizing the wildness of passion by harmony and rhythm?
Quite true, he said.
And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned
truly to know their own functions, will rule over the
concupiscent, which in each of us is the largest part of the soul
and by nature most insatiable of gain; over this they will keep
guard, lest, waxing great and strong with the fulness of bodily
pleasures, as they are termed, the concupiscent soul, no longer
confined to her own sphere, should attempt to enslave and rule
those who are not her natural-born subjects, and overturn the
whole life of man?
Very true, he said.
Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole
soul and the whole body against attacks from without; the one
counselling, and the other fighting under his leader, and
courageously executing his commands and counsels?
And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in
pleasure and in pain the commands of reason about what he ought
or ought not to fear?
Right, he replied.
And him we call wise who has in him that little part which
rules, and which proclaims these commands; that part too being
supposed to have a knowledge of what is for the interest of each
of the three parts and of the whole?
And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same
elements in friendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of
reason, and the two subject ones of spirit and desire are equally
agreed that reason ought to rule, and do not rebel?
Certainly, he said, that is the true account of temperance
whether in the State or individual.
And surely, I said, we have explained again and again how and
by virtue of what quality a man will be just.
That is very certain.
And is justice dimmer in the individual, and is her form
different, or is she the same which we found her to be in the
There is no difference in my opinion, he said.
Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few
commonplace instances will satisfy us of the truth of what I am
What sort of instances do you mean?
If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just
State, or the man who is trained in the principles of such a
State, will be less likely than the unjust to make away with a
deposit of gold or silver? Would any one deny this?
No one, he replied.
Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or
theft, or treachery either to his friends or to his country?
Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths
No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonour
his father and mother, or to fall in his religious duties?
And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own
business, whether in ruling or being ruled?
Are you satisfied then that the quality which makes such men
and such states is justice, or do you hope to discover some
Not I, indeed.
Then our dream has been realised; and the suspicion which we
entertained at the beginning of our work of construction, that
some divine power must have conducted us to a primary form of
justice, has now been verified?
And the division of labour which required the carpenter and
the shoemaker and the rest of the citizens to be doing each his
own business, and not another's, was a shadow of justice, and for
that reason it was of use?
But in reality justice was such as we were describing, being
concerned however, not with the outward man, but with the inward,
which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man
does not permit the several elements within him to interfere with
one another, or any of them to do the work of others, --he sets
in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own
law, and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together
the three principles within him, which may be compared to the
higher, lower, and middle notes of the scale, and the
intermediate intervals --when he has bound all these together,
and is no longer many, but has become one entirely temperate and
perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act, if he has to
act, whether in a matter of property, or in the treatment of the
body, or in some affair of politics or private business; always
thinking and calling that which preserves and co-operates with
this harmonious condition, just and good action, and the
knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which at any
time impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the
opinion which presides over it ignorance.
You have said the exact truth, Socrates.
Very good; and if we were to affirm that we had discovered the
just man and the just State, and the nature of justice in each of
them, we should not be telling a falsehood?
Most certainly not.
May we say so, then?
Let us say so.
And now, I said, injustice has to be considered.
Must not injustice be a strife which arises among the three
principles --a meddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up of
a part of the soul against the whole, an assertion of unlawful
authority, which is made by a rebellious subject against a true
prince, of whom he is the natural vassal, --what is all this
confusion and delusion but injustice, and intemperance and
cowardice and ignorance, and every form of vice?
And if the nature of justice and injustice be known, then the
meaning of acting unjustly and being unjust, or, again, of acting
justly, will also be perfectly clear?
What do you mean? he said.
Why, I said, they are like disease and health; being in the
soul just what disease and health are in the body.
How so? he said.
Why, I said, that which is healthy causes health, and that
which is unhealthy causes disease.
And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause
That is certain.
And the creation of health is the institution of a natural
order and government of one by another in the parts of the body;
and the creation of disease is the production of a state of
things at variance with this natural order?
And is not the creation of justice the institution of a
natural order and government of one by another in the parts of
the soul, and the creation of injustice the production of a state
of things at variance with the natural order?
Exactly so, he said.
Then virtue is the health and beauty and well-being of the
soul, and vice the disease and weakness and deformity of the
And do not good practices lead to virtue, and evil practices
Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice
and injustice has not been answered: Which is the more
profitable, to be just and act justly and practise virtue,
whether seen or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjust and act
unjustly, if only unpunished and unreformed?
In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become
ridiculous. We know that, when the bodily constitution is gone,
life is no longer endurable, though pampered with all kinds of
meats and drinks, and having all wealth and all power; and shall
we be told that when the very essence of the vital principle is
undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having to a man, if
only he be allowed to do whatever he likes with the single
exception that he is not to acquire justice and virtue, or to
escape from injustice and vice; assuming them both to be such as
we have described?
Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still,
as we are near the spot at which we may see the truth in the
clearest manner with our own eyes, let us not faint by the way.
Certainly not, he replied.
Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice,
those of them, I mean, which are worth looking at.
I am following you, he replied: proceed.
I said, The argument seems to have reached a height from
which, as from some tower of speculation, a man may look down and
see that virtue is one, but that the forms of vice are
innumerable; there being four special ones which are deserving of
What do you mean? he said.
I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of
the soul as there are distinct forms of the State.
There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.
What are they?
The first, I said, is that which we have been describing, and
which may be said to have two names, monarchy and aristocracy,
accordingly as rule is exercised by one distinguished man or by
True, he replied.
But I regard the two names as describing one form only; for
whether the government is in the hands of one or many, if the
governors have been trained in the manner which we have supposed,
the fundamental laws of the State will be maintained.
That is true, he replied.
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