translated by Benjamin Jowett
Book IX - On Wrong or Right Government and the Features of Each
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS
LAST of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we have once
more to ask, how is he formed out of the democratical? and how
does he live, in happiness or in misery?
Yes, he said, he is the only one remaining.
There is, however, I said, a previous question which remains
I do not think that we have adequately determined the nature
and number of the appetites, and until this is accomplished the
enquiry will always be confused.
Well, he said, it is not too late to supply the omission.
Very true, I said; and observe the point which I want to
understand: Certain of the unnecessary pleasures and appetites I
conceive to be unlawful; every one appears to have them, but in
some persons they are controlled by the laws and by reason, and
the better desires prevail over them-either they are wholly
banished or they become few and weak; while in the case of others
they are stronger, and there are more of them.
Which appetites do you mean?
I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and human and
ruling power is asleep; then the wild beast within us, gorged
with meat or drink, starts up and having shaken off sleep, goes
forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly
or crime --not excepting incest or any other unnatural union, or
parricide, or the eating of forbidden food --which at such a
time, when he has parted company with all shame and sense, a man
may not be ready to commit.
Most true, he said.
But 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 enquiries, collecting himself in
meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither too
much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep, and
prevent them and their enjoyments and pains from interfering with
the higher principle --which he leaves in the solitude of pure
abstraction, free to contemplate and aspire to the knowledge of
the unknown, whether in past, present, or future: when again he
has allayed the passionate element, if he has a quarrel against
any one --I say, when, after pacifying the two irrational
principles, he rouses up the third, which is reason, before he
takes his rest, then, as you know, he attains truth most nearly,
and is least likely to be the sport of fantastic and lawless
I quite agree.
In saying this I have been running into a digression; but the
point which I desire to note is that in all of us, even in good
men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in
sleep. Pray, consider whether I am right, and you agree with me.
Yes, I agree.
And now remember the character which we attributed to the
democratic man. He was supposed from his youth upwards to have
been trained under a miserly parent, who encouraged the saving
appetites in him, but discountenanced the unnecessary, which aim
only at amusement and ornament?
And then he got into the company of a more refined, licentious
sort of people, and taking to all their wanton ways rushed into
the opposite extreme from an abhorrence of his father's meanness.
At last, being a better man than his corruptors, he was drawn in
both directions until he halted midway and led a life, not of
vulgar and slavish passion, but of what he deemed moderate
indulgence in various pleasures. After this manner the democrat
was generated out of the oligarch?
Yes, he said; that was our view of him, and is so still.
And now, I said, years will have passed away, and you must
conceive this man, such as he is, to have a son, who is brought
up in his father's principles.
I can imagine him.
Then you must further imagine the same thing to happen to the
son which has already happened to the father: --he is drawn into
a perfectly lawless life, which by his seducers is termed perfect
liberty; and his father and friends take part with his moderate
desires, and the opposite party assist the opposite ones. As soon
as these dire magicians and tyrant-makers find that they are
losing their hold on him, they contrive to implant in him a
master passion, to be lord over his idle and spendthrift lusts --a
sort of monstrous winged drone --that is the only image which
will adequately describe him.
Yes, he said, that is the only adequate image of him.
And when his other lusts, amid clouds of incense and perfumes
and garlands and wines, and all the pleasures of a dissolute
life, now let loose, come buzzing around him, nourishing to the
utmost the sting of desire which they implant in his drone-like
nature, then at last this lord of the soul, having Madness for
the captain of his guard, breaks out into a frenzy: and if he
finds in himself any good opinions or appetites in process of
formation, and there is in him any sense of shame remaining, to
these better principles he puts an end, and casts them forth
until he has purged away temperance and brought in madness to the
Yes, he said, that is the way in which the tyrannical man is
And is not this the reason why of old love has been called a
I should not wonder.
Further, I said, has not a drunken man also the spirit of a
And you know that a man who is deranged and not right in his
mind, will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over men, but
also over the gods?
That he will.
And the tyrannical man in the true sense of the word comes
into being when, either under the influence of nature, or habit,
or both, he becomes drunken, lustful, passionate? O my friend, is
not that so?
Such is the man and such is his origin. And next, how does he
Suppose, as people facetiously say, you were to tell me.
I imagine, I said, at the next step in his progress, that
there will be feasts and carousals and revellings and courtezans,
and all that sort of thing; Love is the lord of the house within
him, and orders all the concerns of his soul.
That is certain.
Yes; and every day and every night desires grow up many and
formidable, and their demands are many.
They are indeed, he said.
His revenues, if he has any, are soon spent.
Then comes debt and the cutting down of his property.
When he has nothing left, must not his desires, crowding in
the nest like young ravens, be crying aloud for food; and he,
goaded on by them, and especially by love himself, who is in a
manner the captain of them, is in a frenzy, and would fain
discover whom he can defraud or despoil of his property, in order
that he may gratify them?
Yes, that is sure to be the case.
He must have money, no matter how, if he is to escape horrid
pains and pangs.
And as in himself there was a succession of pleasures, and the
new got the better of the old and took away their rights, so he
being younger will claim to have more than his father and his
mother, and if he has spent his own share of the property, he
will take a slice of theirs.
No doubt he will.
And if his parents will not give way, then he will try first
of all to cheat and deceive them.
And if he fails, then he will use force and plunder them.
And if the old man and woman fight for their own, what then,
my friend? Will the creature feel any compunction at tyrannizing
Nay, he said, I should not feel at all comfortable about his
But, O heavens! Adeimantus, on account of some newfangled love
of a harlot, who is anything but a necessary connection, can you
believe that he would strike the mother who is his ancient friend
and necessary to his very existence, and would place her under
the authority of the other, when she is brought under the same
roof with her; or that, under like circumstances, he would do the
same to his withered old father, first and most indispensable of
friends, for the sake of some newly found blooming youth who is
the reverse of indispensable?
Yes, indeed, he said; I believe that he would.
Truly, then, I said, a tyrannical son is a blessing to his
father and mother.
He is indeed, he replied.
He first takes their property, and when that falls, and
pleasures are beginning to swarm in the hive of his soul, then he
breaks into a house, or steals the garments of some nightly
wayfarer; next he proceeds to clear a temple. Meanwhile the old
opinions which he had when a child, and which gave judgment about
good and evil, are overthrown by those others which have just
been emancipated, and are now the bodyguard of love and share his
empire. These in his democratic days, when he was still subject
to the laws and to his father, were only let loose in the dreams
of sleep. But now that he is under the dominion of love, he
becomes always and in waking reality what he was then very rarely
and in a dream only; he will commit the foulest murder, or eat
forbidden food, or be guilty of any other horrid act. Love is his
tyrant, and lives lordly in him and lawlessly, and being himself
a king, leads him on, as a tyrant leads a State, to the
performance of any reckless deed by which he can maintain himself
and the rabble of his associates, whether those whom evil
communications have brought in from without, or those whom he
himself has allowed to break loose within him by reason of a
similar evil nature in himself. Have we not here a picture of his
way of life?
Yes, indeed, he said.
And if there are only a few of them in the State, the rest of
the people are well disposed, they go away and become the
bodyguard or mercenary soldiers of some other tyrant who may
probably want them for a war; and if there is no war, they stay
at home and do many little pieces of mischief in the city.
What sort of mischief?
For example, they are the thieves, burglars, cutpurses,
footpads, robbers of temples, man-stealers of the community; or
if they are able to speak they turn informers, and bear false
witness, and take bribes.
A small catalogue of evils, even if the perpetrators of them
are few in number.
Yes, I said; but small and great are comparative terms, and
all these things, in the misery and evil which they inflict upon
a State, do not come within a thousand miles of the tyrant; when
this noxious class and their followers grow numerous and become
conscious of their strength, assisted by the infatuation of the
people, they choose from among themselves the one who has most of
the tyrant in his own soul, and him they create their tyrant.
Yes, he said, and he will be the most fit to be a tyrant.
If the people yield, well and good; but if they resist him, as
he began by beating his own father and mother, so now, if he has
the power, he beats them, and will keep his dear old fatherland
or motherland, as the Cretans say, in subjection to his young
retainers whom he has introduced to be their rulers and masters.
This is the end of his passions and desires.
When such men 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.
They are always either the masters or servants and never the
friends of anybody; the tyrant never tastes of true freedom or
And may we not rightly call such men treacherous?
Also they are utterly unjust, if we were right in our notion
Yes, he said, and we were perfectly right.
Let us then sum up in a word, I said, the character of the
worst man: he is the waking reality of what we dreamed.
And this is he who being by nature most of a tyrant bears
rule, and the longer he lives the more of a tyrant he becomes.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
That is certain, said Glaucon, taking his turn to answer.
And will not he who has been shown to be the wickedest, be
also the most miserable? and he who has tyrannized longest and
most, most continually and truly miserable; although this may not
be the opinion of men in general?
Yes, he said, inevitably.
And must not the tyrannical man be like the tyrannical, State,
and the democratical man like the democratical State; and the
same of the others?
And as State is to State in virtue and happiness, so is man in
relation to man?
To be sure.
Then comparing our original city, which was under a king, and
the city which is under a tyrant, how do they stand as to virtue?
They are the opposite extremes, he said, for one is the very
best and the other is the very worst.
There can be no mistake, I said, as to which is which, and
therefore I will at once enquire whether you would arrive at a
similar decision about their relative happiness and misery. And
here we must not allow ourselves to be panic-stricken at the
apparition of the tyrant, who is only a unit and may perhaps have
a few retainers about him; but let us go as we ought into every
corner of the city and look all about, and then we will give our
A fair invitation, he replied; and I see, as every one must,
that a tyranny is the wretchedest form of government, and the
rule of a king the happiest.
And in estimating the men too, may I not fairly make a like
request, that I should have a judge whose mind can enter into and
see through human nature? He must not be like a child who looks
at the outside and is dazzled at the pompous aspect which the
tyrannical nature assumes to the beholder, but let him be one who
has a clear insight. May I suppose that the judgment is given in
the hearing of us all by one who is able to judge, and has dwelt
in the same place with him, and been present at his dally life
and known him in his family relations, where he may be seen
stripped of his tragedy attire, and again in the hour of public
danger --he shall tell us about the happiness and misery of the
tyrant when compared with other men?
That again, he said, is a very fair proposal.
Shall I assume that we ourselves are able and experienced
judges and have before now met with such a person? We shall then
have some one who will answer our enquiries.
By all means.
Let me ask you not to forget the parallel of the individual
and the State; bearing this in mind, and glancing in turn from
one to the other of them, will you tell me their respective
What do you mean? he asked.
Beginning with the State, I replied, would you say that a city
which is governed by a tyrant is free or enslaved?
No city, he said, can be more completely enslaved.
And yet, as you see, there are freemen as well as masters in
such a State?
Yes, he said, I see that there are --a few; but the people,
speaking generally, and the best of them, are miserably degraded
Then if the man is like the State, I said, must not the same
rule prevail? his soul is full of meanness and vulgarity --the
best elements in him are enslaved; and there is a small ruling
part, which is also the worst and maddest.
And would you say that the soul of such an one is the soul of
a freeman, or of a slave?
He has the soul of a slave, in my opinion.
And the State which is enslaved under a tyrant is utterly
incapable of acting voluntarily?
And also the soul which is under a tyrant (I am speaking of
the soul taken as a whole) is least capable of doing what she
desires; there is a gadfly which goads her, and she is full of
trouble and remorse?
And is the city which is under a tyrant rich or poor?
And the tyrannical soul must be always poor and insatiable?
And must not such a State and such a man be always full of
Is there any State in which you will find more of lamentation
and sorrow and groaning and pain?
And is there any man in whom you will find more of this sort
of misery than in the tyrannical man, who is in a fury of
passions and desires?
Reflecting upon these and similar evils, you held the
tyrannical State to be the most miserable of States?
And I was right, he said.
Certainly, I said. And when you see the same evils in the
tyrannical man, what do you say of him?
I say that he is by far the most miserable of all men.
There, I said, I think that you are beginning to go wrong.
What do you mean?
I do not think that he has as yet reached the utmost extreme
Then who is more miserable?
One of whom I am about to speak.
Who is that?
He who is of a tyrannical nature, and instead of leading a
private life has been cursed with the further misfortune of being
a public tyrant.
From what has been said, I gather that you are right.
Yes, I replied, but in this high argument you should be a
little more certain, and should not conjecture only; for of all
questions, this respecting good and evil is the greatest.
Very true, he said.
Let me then offer you an illustration, which may, I think,
throw a light upon this subject.
What is your illustration?
The case of rich individuals in cities who possess many slaves:
from them you may form an idea of the tyrant's condition, for
they both have slaves; the only difference is that he has more
Yes, that is the difference.
You know that they live securely and have nothing to apprehend
from their servants?
What should they fear?
Nothing. But do you observe the reason of this?
Yes; the reason is, that the whole city is leagued together
for the protection of each individual.
Very true, I said. But imagine one of these 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 freemen 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
Yes, he said, he will be in the utmost fear.
The time has arrived when he will be compelled to flatter
divers 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 neighbours who will not suffer one man to be the master
of another, and who, if they could catch the offender, would take
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 lusts? 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,
and is jealous of any other citizen who goes into foreign parts
and sees anything of interest.
Very true, he said.
And amid evils such as these will not he who is ill-governed
in his own person --the tyrannical man, I mean --whom you just
now decided to be the most miserable of all --will not he be yet
more miserable when, instead of leading a private life, he is
constrained by fortune to be a public tyrant? He has to be master
of others when he is not master of himself: he is like a diseased
or paralytic man who is compelled to pass his life, not in
retirement, but fighting and combating with other men.
Yes, he said, the similitude is most exact.
Is not his case utterly miserable? and does not the actual
tyrant lead a worse life than he whose life you determined to be
He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real
slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation and
servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind. He
has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has more
wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know how to inspect
the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset with fear
and is full of convulsions, and distractions, even as the State
which he resembles: and surely the resemblance holds?
Very true, he said.
Moreover, as we were saying before, he grows worse from having
power: he becomes and is of necessity more jealous, more
faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious, than he
was at first; he is the purveyor and cherisher of every sort of
vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely miserable, and
that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself.
No man of any sense will dispute your words.
Come then, I said, and as the general umpire in theatrical
contests proclaims the result, do you also decide who in your
opinion is first in the scale of happiness, and who second, and
in what order the others follow: there are five of them in all --they
are the royal, timocratical, oligarchical, democratical,
The decision will be easily given, he replied; they shall be
choruses coming on the stage, and I must judge them in the order
in which they enter, by the criterion of virtue and vice,
happiness and misery.
Need we hire a herald, or shall I announce, that the son of
Ariston (the best) has decided that the best and justest is also
the happiest, and that this is he who is the most royal man and
king over himself; and that the worst and most unjust man is also
the most miserable, and that this is he who being the greatest
tyrant of himself is also the greatest tyrant of his State?
Make the proclamation yourself, he said.
And shall I add, 'whether seen or unseen by gods and men'?
Let the words be added.
Then this, I said, will be our first proof; and there is
another, which may also have some weight.
What is that?
The second proof is derived from the nature of the soul:
seeing that the individual soul, like the State, has been divided
by us into three principles, the division may, I think, furnish a
Of what nature?
It seems to me that to these three principles three pleasures
correspond; also three desires and governing powers.
How do you mean? he said.
There is one principle with which, as we were saying, a man
learns, another with which he is angry; the third, having many
forms, has no special name, but is denoted by the general term
appetitive, from the extraordinary strength and vehemence of the
desires of eating and drinking and the other sensual appetites
which are the main elements of it; also money-loving, because
such desires are generally satisfied by the help of money.
That is true, he said.
If we were to say that the loves and pleasures of this third
part were concerned with gain, we should then be able to fall
back on a single notion; and might truly and intelligibly
describe this part of the soul as loving gain or money.
I agree with you.
Again, is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling and
conquering and getting fame?
Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious --would the
term be suitable?
On the other hand, every one sees that the principle of
knowledge is wholly directed to the truth, and cares less than
either of the others for gain or fame.
'Lover of wisdom,' 'lover of knowledge,' are titles which we
may fitly apply to that part of the soul?
One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men,
another in others, as may happen?
Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes of
men --lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour, lovers of gain?
And there are three kinds of pleasure, which are their several
Now, if you examine the three classes of men, and ask of them
in turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each will be found
praising his own and depreciating that of others: the money-maker
will contrast the vanity of honour or of learning if they bring
no money with the solid advantages of gold and silver?
True, he said.
And the lover of honour --what will be his opinion? Will he
not think that the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the
pleasure of learning, if it brings no distinction, is all smoke
and nonsense to him?
And are we to suppose, I said, that the philosopher sets any
value on other pleasures in comparison with the pleasure of
knowing the truth, and in that pursuit abiding, ever learning,
not so far indeed from the heaven of pleasure? Does he not call
the other pleasures necessary, under the idea that if there were
no necessity for them, he would rather not have them?
There can be no doubt of that, he replied.
Since, then, the pleasures of each class and the life of each
are in dispute, and the question is not which life is more or
less honourable, or better or worse, but which is the more
pleasant or painless --how shall we know who speaks truly?
I cannot myself tell, he said.
Well, but what ought to be the criterion? Is any better than
experience and wisdom and reason?
There cannot be a better, he said.
Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has the
greatest experience of all the pleasures which we enumerated? Has
the lover of gain, in learning the nature of essential truth,
greater experience of the pleasure of knowledge than the
philosopher has of the pleasure of gain?
The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage; for he
has of necessity always known the taste of the other pleasures
from his childhood upwards: but the lover of gain in all his
experience has not of necessity tasted --or, I should rather say,
even had he desired, could hardly have tasted --the sweetness of
learning and knowing truth.
Then the lover of wisdom has a great advantage over the lover
of gain, for he has a double experience?
Yes, very great.
Again, has he greater experience of the pleasures of honour,
or the lover of honour of the pleasures of wisdom?
Nay, he said, all three are honoured in proportion as they
attain their object; for the rich man and the brave man and the
wise man alike have their crowd of admirers, and as they all
receive honour they all have experience of the pleasures of
honour; but the delight which is to be found in the knowledge of
true being is known to the philosopher only.
His experience, then, will enable him to judge better than any
And he is the only one who has wisdom as well as experience?
Further, the very faculty which is the instrument of judgment
is not possessed by the covetous or ambitious man, but only by
Reason, with whom, as we were saying, the decision ought to
And reasoning is peculiarly his instrument?
If wealth and gain were the criterion, then the praise or
blame of the lover of gain would surely be the most trustworthy?
Or if honour or victory or courage, in that case the judgement
of the ambitious or pugnacious would be the truest?
But since experience and wisdom and reason are the judges--
The only inference possible, he replied, is that pleasures
which are approved by the lover of wisdom and reason are the
And so we arrive at the result, that the pleasure of the
intelligent part of the soul is the pleasantest of the three, and
that he of us in whom this is the ruling principle has the
Unquestionably, he said, the wise man speaks with authority
when he approves of his own life.
And what does the judge affirm to be the life which is next,
and the pleasure which is next?
Clearly that of the soldier and lover of honour; who is nearer
to himself than the money-maker.
Last comes the lover of gain?
Very true, he said.
Twice in succession, then, has the just man overthrown the
unjust in this conflict; and now comes the third trial, which is
dedicated to Olympian Zeus the saviour: a sage whispers in my ear
that no pleasure except that of the wise is quite true and pure
--all others are a shadow only; and surely this will prove the
greatest and most decisive of falls?
Yes, the greatest; but will you explain yourself?
I will work out the subject and you shall answer my questions.
Say, then, is not pleasure opposed to pain?
And there is a neutral state which is neither pleasure nor
A state which is intermediate, and a sort of repose of the
soul about either --that is what you mean?
You remember what people say when they are sick?
What do they say?
That after all nothing is pleasanter than health. But then
they never knew this to be the greatest of pleasures until they
Yes, I know, he said.
And when persons are suffering from acute pain, you must. have
heard them say that there is nothing pleasanter than to get rid
of their pain?
And there are many other cases of suffering in which the mere
rest and cessation of pain, and not any positive enjoyment, is
extolled by them as the greatest pleasure?
Yes, he said; at the time they are pleased and well content to
be at rest.
Again, when pleasure ceases, that sort of rest or cessation
will be painful?
Doubtless, he said.
Then the intermediate state of rest will be pleasure and will
also be pain?
So it would seem.
But can that which is neither become both?
I should say not.
And both pleasure and pain are motions of the soul, are they
But that which is neither was just now shown to be rest and
not motion, and in a mean between them?
How, then, can we be right in supposing that the absence of
pain is pleasure, or that the absence of pleasure is pain?
This then is an appearance only and not a reality; that is tc
say, the rest is pleasure at the moment and in comparison of what
is painful, and painful in comparison of what is pleasant; but
all these representations, when tried by the test of true
pleasure, are not real but a sort of imposition?
That is the inference.
Look at the other class of pleasures which have no antecedent
pains and you will no longer suppose, as you perhaps may at
present, that pleasure is only the cessation of pain, or pain of
What are they, he said, and where shall I find them?
There are many of them: take as an example the pleasures, of
smell, which are very great and have no antecedent pains; they
come in a moment, and when they depart leave no pain behind them.
Most true, he said.
Let us not, then, be induced to believe that pure pleasure is
the cessation of pain, or pain of pleasure.
Still, the more numerous and violent pleasures which reach the
soul through the body are generally of this sort --they are
reliefs of pain.
That is true.
And the anticipations of future pleasures and pains are of a
Shall I give you an illustration of them?
Let me hear.
You would allow, I said, that there is in nature an upper and
lower and middle region?
And if a person were to go from the lower to the middle
region, would he not imagine that he is going up; and he who is
standing in the middle and sees whence he has come, would imagine
that he is already in the upper region, if he has never seen the
true upper world?
To be sure, he said; how can he think otherwise?
But if he were taken back again he would imagine, and truly
imagine, that he was descending?
All that would arise out of his ignorance of the true upper
and middle and lower regions?
Then can you wonder that persons who are inexperienced in the
truth, as they have wrong ideas about many other things, should
also have wrong ideas about pleasure and pain and the
intermediate state; so that when they are only being drawn
towards the painful they feel pain and think the pain which they
experience to be real, and in like manner, when drawn away from
pain to the neutral or intermediate state, they firmly believe
that they have reached the goal of satiety and pleasure; they,
not knowing pleasure, err in contrasting pain with the absence of
pain. which is like contrasting black with grey instead of white
--can you wonder, I say, at this?
No, indeed; I should be much more disposed to wonder at the
Look at the matter thus: --Hunger, thirst, and the like, are
inanitions of the bodily state?
And ignorance and folly are inanitions of the soul?
And food and wisdom are the corresponding satisfactions of
And is the satisfaction derived from that which has less or
from that which has more existence the truer?
Clearly, from that which has more.
What classes of things have a greater share of pure existence
in your judgment --those of which food and drink and condiments
and all kinds of sustenance are examples, or the class which
contains true opinion and knowledge and mind and all the
different kinds of virtue? Put the question in this way: --Which
has a more pure being --that which is concerned with the
invariable, the immortal, and the true, and is of such a nature,
and is found in such natures; or that which is concerned with and
found in the variable and mortal, and is itself variable and
Far purer, he replied, is the being of that which is concerned
with the invariable.
And does the essence of the invariable partake of knowledge in
the same degree as of essence?
Yes, of knowledge in the same degree.
And of truth in the same degree?
And, conversely, that which has less of truth will also have
less of essence?
Then, in general, those kinds of things which are in the
service of the body have less of truth and essence than those
which are in the service of the soul?
And has not the body itself less of truth and essence than the
What is filled with more real existence, and actually has a
more real existence, is more really filled than that which is
filled with less real existence and is less real?
And if there be a pleasure in being filled with that which is
according to nature, that which is more really filled with more
real being will more really and truly enjoy true pleasure;
whereas that which participates in less real being will be less
truly and surely satisfied, and will participate in an illusory
and less real pleasure?
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 upper world; 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.
Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the
many like an oracle.
Their pleasures are mixed with pains --how can they be
otherwise? For they are mere shadows and pictures of the true,
and are coloured by contrast, which exaggerates both light and
shade, and so they implant in the minds of fools insane desires
of themselves; and they are fought about as Stesichorus says that
the Greeks fought about the shadow of Helen at Troy in ignorance
of the truth.
Something of that sort must inevitably happen.
And must not the like happen with the spirited or passionate
element of the soul? Will not the passionate man who carries his
passion into action, be in the like case, whether he is envious
and ambitious, or violent and contentious, or angry and
discontented, if he be seeking to attain honour and victory and
the satisfaction of his anger without reason or sense?
Yes, he said, the same will happen with the spirited element
Then may we not confidently assert that the lovers of money
and honour, when they seek their pleasures under the guidance and
in the company of reason and knowledge, and pursue after and win
the pleasures which wisdom shows them, will also have the truest
pleasures in the highest degree which is attainable to them,
inasmuch as they follow truth; and they will have the pleasures
which are natural to them, if that which is best for each one is
also most natural to him?
Yes, certainly; the best is the most natural.
And when the whole soul follows the philosophical principle,
and there is no division, the several parts are just, and do each
of them their own business, and enjoy severally the best and
truest pleasures of which they are capable?
But when either of the two other principles prevails, it fails
in attaining its own pleasure, and compels the rest to pursue
after a pleasure which is a shadow only and which is not their
And the greater the interval which separates them from
philosophy and reason, the more strange and illusive will be the
And is not that farthest from reason which is at the greatest
distance from law and order?
And the lustful and tyrannical desires are, as we saw, at the
greatest distance? Yes.
And the royal and orderly desires are nearest?
Then the tyrant will live at the greatest distance from true
or natural pleasure, and the king at the least?
But if so, the tyrant will live most unpleasantly, and the
king most pleasantly?
Would you know the measure of the interval which separates
Will you tell me?
There appear to be three pleasures, one genuine and two
spurious: now the transgression of the tyrant reaches a point
beyond the spurious; he has run away from the region of law and
reason, and taken up his abode with certain slave pleasures which
are his satellites, and the measure of his inferiority can only
be expressed in a figure.
How do you mean?
I assume, I said, that the tyrant is in the third place from
the oligarch; the democrat was in the middle?
And if there is truth in what has preceded, he will be wedded
to an image of pleasure which is thrice removed as to truth from
the pleasure of the oligarch?
And the oligarch is third from the royal; since we count as
one royal and aristocratical?
Yes, he is third.
Then the tyrant is removed from true pleasure by the space of
a number which is three times three?
The shadow then of tyrannical pleasure determined by the
number of length will be a plane figure.
And if you raise the power and make the plane a solid, there
is no difficulty in seeing how vast is the interval by which the
tyrant is parted from the king.
Yes; the arithmetician will easily do the sum.
Or if some person begins at the other end and measures the
interval by which the king is parted from the tyrant in truth of
pleasure, he will find him, when the multiplication is complete,
living 729 times more pleasantly, and the tyrant more painfully
by this same interval.
What a wonderful calculation! And how enormous is the distance
which separates the just from the unjust in regard to pleasure
Yet a true calculation, I said, and a number which nearly
concerns human life, if human beings are concerned with days and
nights and months and years.
Yes, he said, human life is certainly concerned with them.
Then if the good and just man be thus superior in pleasure to
the evil and unjust, his superiority will be infinitely greater
in propriety of life and in beauty and virtue?
Well, I said, and now having arrived at this stage of the
argument, we may revert to the words which brought us hither: Was
not some one saying that injustice was a gain to the perfectly
unjust who was reputed to be just?
Yes, that was said.
Now then, having determined the power and quality of justice
and injustice, let us have a little conversation with him.
What shall we say to him?
Let us make an image of the soul, that he may have his own
words presented before his eyes.
Of what sort?
An ideal image of the soul, like the composite creations of
ancient mythology, such as the Chimera or Scylla or Cerberus, and
there are many others in which two or more different natures are
said to grow into one.
There are said of have been such unions.
Then do you now model the form of a multitudinous, many-headed
monster, having a ring of heads of all manner of beasts, tame and
wild, which he is able to generate and metamorphose at will.
You suppose marvellous powers in the artist; but, as language
is more pliable than wax or any similar substance, let there be
such a model as you propose.
Suppose now that you make a second form as of a lion, and a
third of a man, the second smaller than the first, and the third
smaller than the second.
That, he said, is an easier task; and I have made them as you
And now join them, and let the three grow into one.
That has been accomplished.
Next fashion the outside of them into a single image, as of a
man, so that he who is not able to look within, and sees only the
outer hull, may believe the beast to be a single human creature.
I have done so, he said.
And now, to him who maintains that it is profitable for the
human creature to be unjust, and unprofitable to be just, let us
reply that, if he be right, it is profitable for this creature to
feast the multitudinous monster and strengthen the lion and the
lion-like qualities, but to starve and weaken the man, who is
consequently liable to be dragged about at the mercy of either of
the other two; and he is not to attempt to familiarize or
harmonize them with one another --he ought rather to suffer them
to fight and bite and devour one another.
Certainly, he said; that is what the approver of injustice
To him the supporter of justice makes answer that he should
ever so speak and act as to give the man within him in some way
or other the most complete mastery over the entire human creature.
He should watch over the many-headed monster like a good
husbandman, fostering and cultivating the gentle qualities, and
preventing the wild ones from growing; he should be making the
lion-heart his ally, and in common care of them all should be
uniting the several parts with one another and with himself.
Yes, he said, that is quite what the maintainer of justice say.
And so from every point of view, whether of pleasure, honour,
or advantage, the approver of justice is right and speaks the
truth, and the disapprover is wrong and false and ignorant.
Yes, from every point of view.
Come, now, and let us gently reason with the unjust, who is
not intentionally in error. 'Sweet Sir,' we will say to him, what
think you of things esteemed noble and ignoble? Is not the noble
that which subjects the beast to the man, or rather to the god in
man; and the ignoble that which subjects the man to the beast?'
He can hardly avoid saying yes --can he now?
Not if he has any regard for my opinion.
But, if he agree so far, we may ask him to answer another
question: 'Then how would a man profit if he received gold and
silver on the condition that he was to enslave the noblest part
of him to the worst? Who can imagine that a man who sold his son
or daughter into slavery for money, especially if he sold them
into the hands of fierce and evil men, would be the gainer,
however large might be the sum which he received? And will any
one say that he is not a miserable caitiff who remorselessly
sells his own divine being to that which is most godless and
detestable? Eriphyle took the necklace as the price of her
husband's life, but he is taking a bribe in order to compass a
Yes, said Glaucon, far worse --I will answer for him.
Has not the intemperate been censured of old, because in him
the huge multiform monster is allowed to be too much at large?
And men are blamed for pride and bad temper when the lion and
serpent element in them disproportionately grows and gains
And luxury and softness are blamed, because they relax and
weaken this same creature, and make a coward of him?
And is not a man reproached for flattery and meanness who
subordinates the spirited animal to the unruly monster, and, for
the sake of money, of which he can never have enough, habituates
him in the days of his youth to be trampled in the mire, and from
being a lion to become a monkey?
True, he said.
And why are mean employments and manual arts a reproach Only
because they imply a natural weakness of the higher principle;
the individual is unable to control the creatures within him, but
has to court them, and his great study is how to flatter them.
Such appears to be the reason.
And therefore, being desirous of placing him under a rule like
that of the best, we say that he ought to be the servant of the
best, in whom the Divine rules; not, as Thrasymachus supposed, to
the injury of the servant, but because every one had better be
ruled by divine wisdom dwelling within him; or, if this be
impossible, then by an external authority, in order that we may
be all, as far as possible, under the same government, friends
True, he said.
And this is clearly seen to be the intention of the law, which
is the ally of the whole city; and is seen also in the authority
which we exercise over children, and the refusal to let them be
free until we have established in them a principle analogous to
the constitution of a state, and by cultivation of this higher
element have set up in their hearts a guardian and ruler like our
own, and when this is done they may go their ways.
Yes, he said, the purpose of the law is manifest.
From what point of view, then, and on what ground can we say
that a man is profited by injustice or intemperance or other
baseness, which will make him a worse man, even though he acquire
money or power by his wickedness?
From no point of view at all.
What shall he profit, if his injustice be undetected and
unpunished? He who is undetected only gets worse, whereas he who
is detected and punished has the brutal part of his nature
silenced and humanized; the gentler element in him is liberated,
and his whole soul is perfected and ennobled by the acquirement
of justice and temperance and wisdom, more than the body ever is
by receiving gifts of beauty, strength and health, in proportion
as the soul is more honourable than the body.
Certainly, he said.
To this nobler purpose the man of understanding will devote
the energies of his life. And in the first place, he will honour
studies which impress these qualities on his soul and disregard
Clearly, he said.
In the next place, he will regulate his bodily habit and
training, and so far will he be from yielding to brutal and
irrational pleasures, that he will regard even health as quite a
secondary matter; his first object will be not that he may be
fair or strong or well, unless he is likely thereby to gain
temperance, but he will always desire so to attemper the body as
to preserve the harmony of the soul?
Certainly he will, if he has true music in him.
And in the acquisition of wealth there is a principle of order
and harmony which he will also observe; he will not allow himself
to be dazzled by the foolish applause of the world, and heap up
riches to his own infinite harm?
Certainly not, he said.
He will look at the city which is within him, and take heed
that no disorder occur in it, such as might arise either from
superfluity or from want; and upon this principle he will
regulate his property and gain or spend according to his means.
And, for the same reason, he will gladly accept and enjoy such
honours as he deems likely to make him a better man; but those,
whether private or public, which are likely to disorder his life,
he will avoid?
Then, if that is his motive, he will not be a statesman.
By the dog of Egypt, he will! in the city which 's his own he
certainly will, though in the land of his birth perhaps not,
unless he have a divine call.
I understand; you mean that he will be a ruler in the city of
which we are the founders, and which exists in idea only; for I
do not believe that there is such an one anywhere on earth?
In heaven, I replied, there is laid up a pattern of it,
methinks, which he who desires may behold, and beholding, may set
his own house in order. But whether such an one exists, or ever
will exist in fact, is no matter; for he will live after the
manner of that city, having nothing to do with any other.
I think so, he said.
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