Part 8 out of 9
and enquire how the tyrant will maintain that fair and numerous
and various and ever-changing army of his.
If, he said, there are sacred treasures in the city, he will
confiscate and spend them; and in so far as the fortunes
of attainted persons may suffice, he will be able to diminish
the taxes which he would otherwise have to impose upon the people.
And when these fail?
Why, clearly, he said, then he and his boon companions, whether male
or female, will be maintained out of his father's estate.
You mean to say that the people, from whom he has derived his being,
will maintain him and his companions?
Yes, he said; they cannot help themselves.
But what if the people fly into a passion, and aver that a grown-up
son ought not to be supported by his father, but that the father
should be supported by the son? The father did not bring him
into being, or settle him in life, in order that when his son
became a man he should himself be the servant of his own servants
and should support him and his rabble of slaves and companions;
but that his son should protect him, and that by his help he might
be emancipated from the government of the rich and aristocratic,
as they are termed. And so he bids him and his companions depart,
just as any other father might drive out of the house a riotous son
and his undesirable associates.
By heaven, he said, then the parent will discover what a monster he
has been fostering in his bosom; and, when he wants to drive him out,
he will find that he is weak and his son strong.
Why, you do not mean to say that the tyrant will use violence?
What! beat his father if he opposes him?
Yes, he will, having first disarmed him.
Then he is a parricide, and a cruel guardian of an aged parent;
and this is real tyranny, about which there can be no longer a mistake:
as the saying is, the people who would escape the smoke which is
the slavery of freemen, has fallen into the fire which is the tyranny
of slaves. Thus liberty, getting out of all order and reason,
passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.
True, he said.
Very well; and may we not rightly say that we have sufficiently
discussed the nature of tyranny, and the manner of the transition
from democracy to tyranny?
Yes, quite enough, he said.
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 unanswered.
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
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 visions.
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 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
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 full.
Yes, he said, that is the way in which the tyrannical man is generated.
And is not this the reason why of old love has been called a tyrant?
I should not wonder.
Further, I said, has not a drunken man also the spirit of a tyrant?
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
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 live?
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 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 over them?
Nay, he said, I should not feel at all comfortable about his parents.
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
Yes, indeed, he said; I believe that he would.
Truly, then, I said, a tyrannical son is a blessing to his father
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
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 friendship.
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 opinion.
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 conditions?
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
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 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 fear?
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 of misery.
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
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 slaves?
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 life?
His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be everywhere
surrounded and watched by enemies.
And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will be bound--
he who being by nature such as we have described, is full of all sorts
of fears and 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
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 the worst?
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, tyrannical.
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 new demonstration.
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
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 objects?
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 one?
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 the philosopher?
Reason, with whom, as we were saying, the decision ought to rest.
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 truest.
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 pleasantest life.
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 pain?
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 were ill.
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
Again, when pleasure ceases, that sort of rest or cessation will
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 not?
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 pleasure.
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
That is true.
And the anticipations of future pleasures and pains are of a like nature?
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
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,
No, indeed; I should be much more disposed to wonder at the opposite.
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 either?
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 mortal?
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
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 soul?
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
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 also.
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 own?
And the greater the interval which separates them from philosophy
and reason, the more strange and illusive will be the pleasure?
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
Would you know the measure of the interval which separates them?
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
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
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 say.
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,
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 says.
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 worse ruin.'
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 strength?
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 and equals.
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
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 others?
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
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 is 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.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
OF THE many excellences which I perceive in the order of our State,
there is none which upon reflection pleases me better than the rule
To what do you refer?
To the rejection of imitative poetry, which certainly ought
not to be received; as I see far more clearly now that the parts
of the soul have been distinguished.
What do you mean?
Speaking in confidence, for I should not like to have my words
repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative tribe--
but I do not mind saying to you, that all poetical imitations are
ruinous to the understanding of the hearers, and that the knowledge
of their true nature is the only antidote to them.
Explain the purport of your remark.
Well, I will tell you, although I have always from my earliest youth
had an awe and love of Homer, which even now makes the words falter
on my lips, for he is the great captain and teacher of the whole
of that charming tragic company; but a man is not to be reverenced
more than the truth, and therefore I will speak out.
Very good, he said.
Listen to me then, or rather, answer me.
Put your question.
Can you tell me what imitation is? for I really do not know.
A likely thing, then, that I should know.
Why not? for the duller eye may often see a thing sooner than
Very true, he said; but in your presence, even if I had any faint notion,
I could not muster courage to utter it. Will you enquire yourself?
Well then, shall we begin the enquiry in our usual manner:
Whenever a number of individuals have a common name, we assume them
to have also a corresponding idea or form. Do you understand me?
Let us take any common instance; there are beds and tables in the world--
plenty of them, are there not?
But there are only two ideas or forms of them--one the idea of a bed,
the other of a table.
And the maker of either of them makes a bed or he makes a table for our use,
in accordance with the idea--that is our way of speaking in this
and similar instances--but no artificer makes the ideas themselves:
how could he?
And there is another artist,--I should like to know what you would
say of him.
Who is he?
One who is the maker of all the works of all other workmen.
What an extraordinary man!
Wait a little, and there will be more reason for your saying so.
For this is he who is able to make not only vessels of every kind,
but plants and animals, himself and all other things--the earth
and heaven, and the things which are in heaven or under the earth;
he makes the gods also.
He must be a wizard and no mistake.
Oh! you are incredulous, are you? Do you mean that there is no
such maker or creator, or that in one sense there might be a maker
of all these things but in another not? Do you see that there
is a way in which you could make them all yourself?
An easy way enough; or rather, there are many ways in which the feat
might be quickly and easily accomplished, none quicker than that of
turning a mirror round and round--you would soon enough make the sun
and the heavens, and the earth and yourself, and other animals and plants,
and all the, other things of which we were just now speaking, in the mirror.
Yes, he said; but they would be appearances only.
Very good, I said, you are coming to the point now. And the painter
too is, as I conceive, just such another--a creator of appearances,
is he not?
But then I suppose you will say that what he creates is untrue.
And yet there is a sense in which the painter also creates a bed?
Yes, he said, but not a real bed.
And what of the maker of the bed? Were you not saying that he too makes,
not the idea which, according to our view, is the essence of the bed,
but only a particular bed?
Yes, I did.
Then if he does not make that which exists he cannot make true existence,
but only some semblance of existence; and if any one were to say
that the work of the maker of the bed, or of any other workman,
has real existence, he could hardly be supposed to be speaking
At any rate, he replied, philosophers would say that he was not
speaking the truth.
No wonder, then, that his work too is an indistinct expression
Suppose now that by the light of the examples just offered we
enquire who this imitator is?
If you please.
Well then, here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made
by God, as I think that we may say--for no one else can be the maker?
There is another which is the work of the carpenter?
And the work of the painter is a third?
Beds, then, are of three kinds, and there are three artists
who superintend them: God, the maker of the bed, and the painter?
Yes, there are three of them.
God, whether from choice or from necessity, made one bed in nature
and one only; two or more such ideal beds neither ever have been
nor ever will be made by God.
Why is that?
Because even if He had made but two, a third would still appear
behind them which both of them would have for their idea,
and that would be the ideal bed and the two others.
Very true, he said.
God knew this, and He desired to be the real maker of a real bed,
not a particular maker of a particular bed, and therefore He created
a bed which is essentially and by nature one only.
So we believe.
Shall we, then, speak of Him as the natural author or maker of the bed?
Yes, he replied; inasmuch as by the natural process of creation He
is the author of this and of all other things.
And what shall we say of the carpenter--is not he also the maker
of the bed?
But would you call the painter a creator and maker?
Yet if he is not the maker, what is he in relation to the bed?
I think, he said, that we may fairly designate him as the imitator
of that which the others make.
Good, I said; then you call him who is third in the descent from
nature an imitator?
Certainly, he said.
And the tragic poet is an imitator, and therefore, like all
other imitators, he is thrice removed from the king and from the truth?
That appears to be so.
Then about the imitator we are agreed. And what about the painter?--
I would like to know whether he may be thought to imitate that which
originally exists in nature, or only the creations of artists?
As they are or as they appear? You have still to determine this.
What do you mean?
I mean, that you may look at a bed from different points of view,
obliquely or directly or from any other point of view, and the bed
will appear different, but there is no difference in reality.
And the same of all things.
Yes, he said, the difference is only apparent.
Now let me ask you another question: Which is the art of painting
designed to be--an imitation of things as they are, or as they appear--
of appearance or of reality?
Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can
do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them,
and that part an image. For example: A painter will paint a cobbler,
carpenter, or any other artist, though he knows nothing of their arts;
and, if he is a good artist, he may deceive children or simple persons,
when he shows them his picture of a carpenter from a distance,
and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter.
And whenever any one informs us that he has found a man knows
all the arts, and all things else that anybody knows, and every
single thing with a higher degree of accuracy than any other man--
whoever tells us this, I think that we can only imagine to be a
simple creature who is likely to have been deceived by some wizard
or actor whom he met, and whom he thought all-knowing, because he
himself was unable to analyse the nature of knowledge and ignorance
And so, when we hear persons saying that the tragedians, and Homer,
who is at their head, know all the arts and all things human,
virtue as well as vice, and divine things too, for that the good
poet cannot compose well unless he knows his subject, and that he
who has not this knowledge can never be a poet, we ought to
consider whether here also there may not be a similar illusion.
Perhaps they may have come across imitators and been deceived by them;
they may not have remembered when they saw their works that these were
but imitations thrice removed from the truth, and could easily be made
without any knowledge of the truth, because they are appearances
only and not realities? Or, after all, they may be in the right,
and poets do really know the things about which they seem to the many
to speak so well?
The question, he said, should by all means be considered.
Now do you suppose that if a person were able to make the original
as well as the image, he would seriously devote himself to the
image-making branch? Would he allow imitation to be the ruling
principle of his life, as if he had nothing higher in him?
I should say not.
The real artist, who knew what he was imitating, would be interested
in realities and not in imitations; and would desire to leave
as memorials of himself works many and fair; and, instead of being
the author of encomiums, he would prefer to be the theme of them.
Yes, he said, that would be to him a source of much greater honour
Then, I said, we must put a question to Homer; not about medicine,
or any of the arts to which his poems only incidentally refer:
we are not going to ask him, or any other poet, whether he has cured
patients like Asclepius, or left behind him a school of medicine
such as the Asclepiads were, or whether he only talks about medicine
and other arts at second hand; but we have a right to know respecting
military tactics, politics, education, which are the chiefest and
noblest subjects of his poems, and we may fairly ask him about them.
`Friend Homer,' then we say to him, `if you are only in the second
remove from truth in what you say of virtue, and not in the third--
not an image maker or imitator--and if you are able to discern
what pursuits make men better or worse in private or public life,
tell us what State was ever better governed by your help?
The good order of Lacedaemon is due to Lycurgus, and many other
cities great and small have been similarly benefited by others;
but who says that you have been a good legislator to them and
have done them any good? Italy and Sicily boast of Charondas,
and there is Solon who is renowned among us; but what city
has anything to say about you?' Is there any city which he
I think not, said Glaucon; not even the Homerids themselves pretend
that he was a legislator.
Well, but is there any war on record which was carried on successfully
by him, or aided by his counsels, when he was alive?
There is not.
Or is there any invention of his, applicable to the arts or to
human life, such as Thales the Milesian or Anacharsis the Scythian,
and other ingenious men have conceived, which is attributed to him?
There is absolutely nothing of the kind.
But, if Homer never did any public service, was he privately
a guide or teacher of any? Had he in his lifetime friends
who loved to associate with him, and who handed down to posterity
an Homeric way of life, such as was established by Pythagoras
who was so greatly beloved for his wisdom, and whose followers
are to this day quite celebrated for the order which was named after him?
Nothing of the kind is recorded of him. For surely, Socrates, Creophylus,
the companion of Homer, that child of flesh, whose name always makes us laugh,
might be more justly ridiculed for his stupidity, if, as is said, Homer
was greatly neglected by him and others in his own day when he was alive?
Yes, I replied, that is the tradition. But can you imagine, Glaucon,
that if Homer had really been able to educate and improve mankind--
if he had possessed knowledge and not been a mere imitator--can you imagine,
I say, that he would not have had many followers, and been honoured
and loved by them? Protagoras of Abdera, and Prodicus of Ceos,
and a host of others, have only to whisper to their contemporaries:
`You will never be able to manage either your own house or your own
State until you appoint us to be your ministers of education'--
and this ingenious device of theirs has such an effect in making
them love them that their companions all but carry them about on
their shoulders. And is it conceivable that the contemporaries
of Homer, or again of Hesiod, would have allowed either of them
to go about as rhapsodists, if they had really been able to make
mankind virtuous? Would they not have been as unwilling to part
with them as with gold, and have compelled them to stay at home
with them? Or, if the master would not stay, then the disciples
would have followed him about everywhere, until they had got
Yes, Socrates, that, I think, is quite true.
Then must we not infer that all these poetical individuals,
beginning with Homer, are only imitators; they copy images
of virtue and the like, but the truth they never reach? The poet
is like a painter who, as we have already observed, will make
a likeness of a cobbler though he understands nothing of cobbling;
and his picture is good enough for those who know no more than he does,
and judge only by colours and figures.
In like manner the poet with his words and phrases may be said
to lay on the colours of the several arts, himself understanding
their nature only enough to imitate them; and other people,
who are as ignorant as he is, and judge only from his words,
imagine that if he speaks of cobbling, or of military tactics,
or of anything else, in metre and harmony and rhythm, he speaks very well--
such is the sweet influence which melody and rhythm by nature have.
And I think that you must have observed again and again what a poor
appearance the tales of poets make when stripped of the colours which
music puts upon them, and recited in simple prose.
Yes, he said.
They are like faces which were never really beautiful, but only blooming;
and now the bloom of youth has passed away from them?
Here is another point: The imitator or maker of the image
knows nothing of true existence; he knows appearances only.
Am I not right?
Then let us have a clear understanding, and not be satisfied
with half an explanation.
Of the painter we say that he will paint reins, and he will paint
And the worker in leather and brass will make them?
But does the painter know the right form of the bit and reins?
Nay, hardly even the workers in brass and leather who make them;
only the horseman who knows how to use them--he knows their
And may we not say the same of all things?
That there are three arts which are concerned with all things:
one which uses, another which makes, a third which imitates them?
And the excellence or beauty or truth of every structure,
animate or inanimate, and of every action of man, is relative
to the use for which nature or the artist has intended them.
Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of them,
and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which
develop themselves in use; for example, the flute-player will tell
the flute-maker which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer;
he will tell him how he ought to make them, and the other will attend
to his instructions?
The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness
and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding in him,
will do what he is told by him?
The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or badness
of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this he
will gain from him who knows, by talking to him and being compelled
to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will have knowledge?
But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use whether
or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? Or will he have right
opinion from being compelled to associate with another who knows
and gives him instructions about what he should draw?
Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have knowledge
about the goodness or badness of his imitations?
I suppose not.
The imitative artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence
about his own creations?
Nay, very much the reverse.
And still he will go on imitating without knowing what makes
a thing good or bad, and may be expected therefore to imitate
only that which appears to be good to the ignorant multitude?
Thus far then we are pretty well agreed that the imitator has no
knowledge worth mentioning of what he imitates. Imitation is only
a kind of play or sport, and the tragic poets, whether they write
in iambic or in Heroic verse, are imitators in the highest degree?
And now tell me, I conjure you, has not imitation been shown by us
to be concerned with that which is thrice removed from the truth?
And what is the faculty in man to which imitation is addressed?
What do you mean?
I will explain: The body which is large when seen near,
appears small when seen at a distance?
And the same object appears straight when looked at out of the water,
and crooked when in the water; and the concave becomes convex,
owing to the illusion about colours to which the sight is liable.
Thus every sort of confusion is revealed within us; and this is
that weakness of the human mind on which the art of conjuring and of
deceiving by light and shadow and other ingenious devices imposes,
having an effect upon us like magic.
And the arts of measuring and numbering and weighing come to
the rescue of the human understanding-there is the beauty of them--
and the apparent greater or less, or more or heavier, no longer
have the mastery over us, but give way before calculation and measure
And this, surely, must be the work of the calculating and rational
principle in the soul
To be sure.
And when this principle measures and certifies that some things
are equal, or that some are greater or less than others, there occurs
an apparent contradiction?
But were we not saying that such a contradiction is the same faculty
cannot have contrary opinions at the same time about the same thing?
Then that part of the soul which has an opinion contrary to measure
is not the same with that which has an opinion in accordance
And the better part of the soul is likely to be that which trusts
to measure and calculation?
And that which is opposed to them is one of the inferior principles
of the soul?
This was the conclusion at which I was seeking to arrive when I
said that painting or drawing, and imitation in general, when doing
their own proper work, are far removed from truth, and the companions
and friends and associates of a principle within us which is equally
removed from reason, and that they have no true or healthy aim.
The imitative art is an inferior who marries an inferior, and has
And is this confined to the sight only, or does it extend
to the hearing also, relating in fact to what we term poetry?
Probably the same would be true of poetry.
Do not rely, I said, on a probability derived from the analogy
of painting; but let us examine further and see whether the faculty
with which poetical imitation is concerned is good or bad.
By all means.
We may state the question thus:--Imitation imitates the actions of men,
whether voluntary or involuntary, on which, as they imagine, a good
or bad result has ensued, and they rejoice or sorrow accordingly.
Is there anything more?
No, there is nothing else.
But in all this variety of circumstances is the man at unity
with himself--or rather, as in the instance of sight there was
confusion and opposition in his opinions about the same things,
so here also is there not strife and inconsistency in his life?
Though I need hardly raise the question again, for I remember that all
this has been already admitted; and the soul has been acknowledged
by us to be full of these and ten thousand similar oppositions
occurring at the same moment?
And we were right, he said.
Yes, I said, thus far we were right; but there was an omission
which must now be supplied.
What was the omission?
Were we not saying that a good man, who has the misfortune to lose
his son or anything else which is most dear to him, will bear
the loss with more equanimity than another?
But will he have no sorrow, or shall we say that although he cannot
help sorrowing, he will moderate his sorrow?
The latter, he said, is the truer statement.
Tell me: will he be more likely to struggle and hold out against
his sorrow when he is seen by his equals, or when he is alone?