Part 11 out of 12
A time arrives when the representative of timocracy has a son: at first he
begins by emulating his father and walking in his footsteps, but presently
he sees him of a sudden foundering against the State as upon a sunken reef,
and he and all that he has is lost; he may have been a general or some
other high officer who is brought to trial under a prejudice raised by
informers, and either put to death, or exiled, or deprived of the
privileges of a citizen, and all his property taken from him.
Nothing more likely.
And the son has seen and known all this--he is a ruined man, and his fear
has taught him to knock ambition and passion headforemost from his bosom's
throne; humbled by poverty he takes to money-making and by mean and miserly
savings and hard work gets a fortune together. Is not such an one likely
to seat the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne and to
suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and chain and
Most true, he replied.
And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the ground obediently on
either side of their sovereign, and taught them to know their place, he
compels the one to think only of how lesser sums may be turned into larger
ones, and will not allow the other to worship and admire anything but
riches and rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the
acquisition of wealth and the means of acquiring it.
Of all changes, he said, there is none so speedy or so sure as the
conversion of the ambitious youth into the avaricious one.
And the avaricious, I said, is the oligarchical youth?
Yes, he said; at any rate the individual out of whom he came is like the
State out of which oligarchy came.
Let us then consider whether there is any likeness between them.
First, then, they resemble one another in the value which they set upon
Also in their penurious, laborious character; the individual only satisfies
his necessary appetites, and confines his expenditure to them; his other
desires he subdues, under the idea that they are unprofitable.
He is a shabby fellow, who saves something out of everything and makes a
purse for himself; and this is the sort of man whom the vulgar applaud. Is
he not a true image of the State which he represents?
He appears to me to be so; at any rate money is highly valued by him as
well as by the State.
You see that he is not a man of cultivation, I said.
I imagine not, he said; had he been educated he would never have made a
blind god director of his chorus, or given him chief honour.
Excellent! I said. Yet consider: Must we not further admit that owing to
this want of cultivation there will be found in him dronelike desires as of
pauper and rogue, which are forcibly kept down by his general habit of
Do you know where you will have to look if you want to discover his
Where must I look?
You should see him where he has some great opportunity of acting
dishonestly, as in the guardianship of an orphan.
It will be clear enough then that in his ordinary dealings which give him a
reputation for honesty he coerces his bad passions by an enforced virtue;
not making them see that they are wrong, or taming them by reason, but by
necessity and fear constraining them, and because he trembles for his
To be sure.
Yes, indeed, my dear friend, but you will find that the natural desires of
the drone commonly exist in him all the same whenever he has to spend what
is not his own.
Yes, and they will be strong in him too.
The man, then, will be at war with himself; he will be two men, and not
one; but, in general, his better desires will be found to prevail over his
For these reasons such an one will be more respectable than most people;
yet the true virtue of a unanimous and harmonious soul will flee far away
and never come near him.
I should expect so.
And surely, the miser individually will be an ignoble competitor in a State
for any prize of victory, or other object of honourable ambition; he will
not spend his money in the contest for glory; so afraid is he of awakening
his expensive appetites and inviting them to help and join in the struggle;
in true oligarchical fashion he fights with a small part only of his
resources, and the result commonly is that he loses the prize and saves his
Can we any longer doubt, then, that the miser and money-maker answers to
the oligarchical State?
There can be no doubt.
Next comes democracy; of this the origin and nature have still to be
considered by us; and then we will enquire into the ways of the democratic
man, and bring him up for judgment.
That, he said, is our method.
Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise?
Is it not on this wise?--The good at which such a State aims is to become
as rich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?
The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to
curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain
by their ruin; they take interest from them and buy up their estates and
thus increase their own wealth and importance?
To be sure.
There can be no doubt that the love of wealth and the spirit of moderation
cannot exist together in citizens of the same state to any considerable
extent; one or the other will be disregarded.
That is tolerably clear.
And in oligarchical States, from the general spread of carelessness and
extravagance, men of good family have often been reduced to beggary?
And still they remain in the city; there they are, ready to sting and fully
armed, and some of them owe money, some have forfeited their citizenship; a
third class are in both predicaments; and they hate and conspire against
those who have got their property, and against everybody else, and are
eager for revolution.
That is true.
On the other hand, the men of business, stooping as they walk, and
pretending not even to see those whom they have already ruined, insert
their sting--that is, their money--into some one else who is not on his
guard against them, and recover the parent sum many times over multiplied
into a family of children: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in
Yes, he said, there are plenty of them--that is certain.
The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it, either by
restricting a man's use of his own property, or by another remedy:
One which is the next best, and has the advantage of compelling the
citizens to look to their characters:--Let there be a general rule that
every one shall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there
will be less of this scandalous money-making, and the evils of which we
were speaking will be greatly lessened in the State.
Yes, they will be greatly lessened.
At present the governors, induced by the motives which I have named, treat
their subjects badly; while they and their adherents, especially the young
men of the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and
idleness both of body and mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of
resisting either pleasure or pain.
They themselves care only for making money, and are as indifferent as the
pauper to the cultivation of virtue.
Yes, quite as indifferent.
Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And often rulers
and their subjects may come in one another's way, whether on a journey or
on some other occasion of meeting, on a pilgrimage or a march, as
fellow-soldiers or fellow-sailors; aye and they may observe the behaviour
of each other in the very moment of danger--for where danger is, there is
no fear that the poor will be despised by the rich--and very likely the
wiry sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle at the side of a wealthy one
who has never spoilt his complexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh--
when he sees such an one puffing and at his wits'-end, how can he avoid
drawing the conclusion that men like him are only rich because no one has
the courage to despoil them? And when they meet in private will not people
be saying to one another 'Our warriors are not good for much'?
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of talking.
And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch from without
may bring on illness, and sometimes even when there is no external
provocation a commotion may arise within--in the same way wherever there is
weakness in the State there is also likely to be illness, of which the
occasion may be very slight, the one party introducing from without their
oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the State falls
sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at times distracted, even when
there is no external cause.
And then democracy comes into being after the poor have conquered their
opponents, slaughtering some and banishing some, while to the remainder
they give an equal share of freedom and power; and this is the form of
government in which the magistrates are commonly elected by lot.
Yes, he said, that is the nature of democracy, whether the revolution has
been effected by arms, or whether fear has caused the opposite party to
And now what is their manner of life, and what sort of a government have
they? for as the government is, such will be the man.
Clearly, he said.
In the first place, are they not free; and is not the city full of freedom
and frankness--a man may say and do what he likes?
'Tis said so, he replied.
And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to order for himself
his own life as he pleases?
Then in this kind of State there will be the greatest variety of human
This, then, seems likely to be the fairest of States, being like an
embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as
women and children think a variety of colours to be of all things most
charming, so there are many men to whom this State, which is spangled with
the manners and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of
Yes, my good Sir, and there will be no better in which to look for a
Because of the liberty which reigns there--they have a complete assortment
of constitutions; and he who has a mind to establish a State, as we have
been doing, must go to a democracy as he would to a bazaar at which they
sell them, and pick out the one that suits him; then, when he has made his
choice, he may found his State.
He will be sure to have patterns enough.
And there being no necessity, I said, for you to govern in this State, even
if you have the capacity, or to be governed, unless you like, or go to war
when the rest go to war, or to be at peace when others are at peace, unless
you are so disposed--there being no necessity also, because some law
forbids you to hold office or be a dicast, that you should not hold office
or be a dicast, if you have a fancy--is not this a way of life which for
the moment is supremely delightful?
For the moment, yes.
And is not their humanity to the condemned in some cases quite charming?
Have you not observed how, in a democracy, many persons, although they have
been sentenced to death or exile, just stay where they are and walk about
the world--the gentleman parades like a hero, and nobody sees or cares?
Yes, he replied, many and many a one.
See too, I said, the forgiving spirit of democracy, and the 'don't care'
about trifles, and the disregard which she shows of all the fine principles
which we solemnly laid down at the foundation of the city--as when we said
that, except in the case of some rarely gifted nature, there never will be
a good man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid things of
beauty and make of them a joy and a study--how grandly does she trample all
these fine notions of ours under her feet, never giving a thought to the
pursuits which make a statesman, and promoting to honour any one who
professes to be the people's friend.
Yes, she is of a noble spirit.
These and other kindred characteristics are proper to democracy, which is a
charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a
sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.
We know her well.
Consider now, I said, what manner of man the individual is, or rather
consider, as in the case of the State, how he comes into being.
Very good, he said.
Is not this the way--he is the son of the miserly and oligarchical father
who has trained him in his own habits?
And, like his father, he keeps under by force the pleasures which are of
the spending and not of the getting sort, being those which are called
Would you like, for the sake of clearness, to distinguish which are the
necessary and which are the unnecessary pleasures?
Are not necessary pleasures those of which we cannot get rid, and of which
the satisfaction is a benefit to us? And they are rightly called so,
because we are framed by nature to desire both what is beneficial and what
is necessary, and cannot help it.
We are not wrong therefore in calling them necessary?
We are not.
And the desires of which a man may get rid, if he takes pains from his
youth upwards--of which the presence, moreover, does no good, and in some
cases the reverse of good--shall we not be right in saying that all these
Suppose we select an example of either kind, in order that we may have a
general notion of them?
Will not the desire of eating, that is, of simple food and condiments, in
so far as they are required for health and strength, be of the necessary
That is what I should suppose.
The pleasure of eating is necessary in two ways; it does us good and it is
essential to the continuance of life?
But the condiments are only necessary in so far as they are good for
And the desire which goes beyond this, of more delicate food, or other
luxuries, which might generally be got rid of, if controlled and trained in
youth, and is hurtful to the body, and hurtful to the soul in the pursuit
of wisdom and virtue, may be rightly called unnecessary?
May we not say that these desires spend, and that the others make money
because they conduce to production?
And of the pleasures of love, and all other pleasures, the same holds good?
And the drone of whom we spoke was he who was surfeited in pleasures and
desires of this sort, and was the slave of the unnecessary desires, whereas
he who was subject to the necessary only was miserly and oligarchical?
Again, let us see how the democratical man grows out of the oligarchical:
the following, as I suspect, is commonly the process.
What is the process?
When a young man who has been brought up as we were just now describing, in
a vulgar and miserly way, has tasted drones' honey and has come to
associate with fierce and crafty natures who are able to provide for him
all sorts of refinements and varieties of pleasure--then, as you may
imagine, the change will begin of the oligarchical principle within him
into the democratical?
And as in the city like was helping like, and the change was effected by an
alliance from without assisting one division of the citizens, so too the
young man is changed by a class of desires coming from without to assist
the desires within him, that which is akin and alike again helping that
which is akin and alike?
And if there be any ally which aids the oligarchical principle within him,
whether the influence of a father or of kindred, advising or rebuking him,
then there arises in his soul a faction and an opposite faction, and he
goes to war with himself.
It must be so.
And there are times when the democratical principle gives way to the
oligarchical, and some of his desires die, and others are banished; a
spirit of reverence enters into the young man's soul and order is restored.
Yes, he said, that sometimes happens.
And then, again, after the old desires have been driven out, fresh ones
spring up, which are akin to them, and because he their father does not
know how to educate them, wax fierce and numerous.
Yes, he said, that is apt to be the way.
They draw him to his old associates, and holding secret intercourse with
them, breed and multiply in him.
At length they seize upon the citadel of the young man's soul, which they
perceive to be void of all accomplishments and fair pursuits and true
words, which make their abode in the minds of men who are dear to the gods,
and are their best guardians and sentinels.
False and boastful conceits and phrases mount upwards and take their place.
They are certain to do so.
And so the young man returns into the country of the lotus-eaters, and
takes up his dwelling there in the face of all men; and if any help be sent
by his friends to the oligarchical part of him, the aforesaid vain conceits
shut the gate of the king's fastness; and they will neither allow the
embassy itself to enter, nor if private advisers offer the fatherly counsel
of the aged will they listen to them or receive them. There is a battle
and they gain the day, and then modesty, which they call silliness, is
ignominiously thrust into exile by them, and temperance, which they
nickname unmanliness, is trampled in the mire and cast forth; they persuade
men that moderation and orderly expenditure are vulgarity and meanness, and
so, by the help of a rabble of evil appetites, they drive them beyond the
Yes, with a will.
And when they have emptied and swept clean the soul of him who is now in
their power and who is being initiated by them in great mysteries, the next
thing is to bring back to their house insolence and anarchy and waste and
impudence in bright array having garlands on their heads, and a great
company with them, hymning their praises and calling them by sweet names;
insolence they term breeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence,
and impudence courage. And so the young man passes out of his original
nature, which was trained in the school of necessity, into the freedom and
libertinism of useless and unnecessary pleasures.
Yes, he said, the change in him is visible enough.
After this he lives on, spending his money and labour and time on
unnecessary pleasures quite as much as on necessary ones; but if he be
fortunate, and is not too much disordered in his wits, when years have
elapsed, and the heyday of passion is over--supposing that he then
re-admits into the city some part of the exiled virtues, and does not
wholly give himself up to their successors--in that case he balances his
pleasures and lives in a sort of equilibrium, putting the government of
himself into the hands of the one which comes first and wins the turn; and
when he has had enough of that, then into the hands of another; he despises
none of them but encourages them all equally.
Very true, he said.
Neither does he receive or let pass into the fortress any true word of
advice; if any one says to him that some pleasures are the satisfactions of
good and noble desires, and others of evil desires, and that he ought to
use and honour some and chastise and master the others--whenever this is
repeated to him he shakes his head and says that they are all alike, and
that one is as good as another.
Yes, he said; that is the way with him.
Yes, I said, he lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the hour;
and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute; then he
becomes a water-drinker, and tries to get thin; then he takes a turn at
gymnastics; sometimes idling and neglecting everything, then once more
living the life of a philosopher; often he is busy with politics, and
starts to his feet and says and does whatever comes into his head; and, if
he is emulous of any one who is a warrior, off he is in that direction, or
of men of business, once more in that. His life has neither law nor order;
and this distracted existence he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he
Yes, he replied, he is all liberty and equality.
Yes, I said; his life is motley and manifold and an epitome of the lives of
many;--he answers to the State which we described as fair and spangled.
And many a man and many a woman will take him for their pattern, and many a
constitution and many an example of manners is contained in him.
Let him then be set over against democracy; he may truly be called the
Let that be his place, he said.
Last of all comes the most beautiful of all, man and State alike, tyranny
and the tyrant; these we have now to consider.
Quite true, he said.
Say then, my friend, In what manner does tyranny arise?--that it has a
democratic origin is evident.
And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner as democracy
from oligarchy--I mean, after a sort?
The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means by which it was
maintained was excess of wealth--am I not right?
And the insatiable desire of wealth and the neglect of all other things for
the sake of money-getting was also the ruin of oligarchy?
And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her
Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of
the State--and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of
nature deign to dwell.
Yes; the saying is in every body's mouth.
I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect
of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a
demand for tyranny.
When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cup-bearers
presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of
freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful
draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they
are cursed oligarchs.
Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.
Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who
hug their chains and men of naught; she would have subjects who are like
rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are men after her own
heart, whom she praises and honours both in private and public. Now, in
such a State, can liberty have any limit?
By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting
among the animals and infecting them.
How do you mean?
I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons
and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no
respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom,
and the metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and
the stranger is quite as good as either.
Yes, he said, that is the way.
And these are not the only evils, I said--there are several lesser ones:
In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and
the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike;
and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with
him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of
pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and
authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.
Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money,
whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I
forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to
Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?
That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not
know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who
are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State:
for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their
she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with
all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at any body who
comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all
things are just ready to burst with liberty.
When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe.
You and I have dreamed the same thing.
And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the
citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority,
and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written
or unwritten; they will have no one over them.
Yes, he said, I know it too well.
Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning out of which
Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?
The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified
and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy--the truth being that the
excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite
direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable
and animal life, but above all in forms of government.
The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass
into excess of slavery.
Yes, the natural order.
And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated
form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?
As we might expect.
That, however, was not, as I believe, your question--you rather desired to
know what is that disorder which is generated alike in oligarchy and
democracy, and is the ruin of both?
Just so, he replied.
Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spendthrifts, of whom
the more courageous are the leaders and the more timid the followers, the
same whom we were comparing to drones, some stingless, and others having
A very just comparison.
These two classes are the plagues of every city in which they are
generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the body. And the good
physician and lawgiver of the State ought, like the wise bee-master, to
keep them at a distance and prevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and
if they have anyhow found a way in, then he should have them and their
cells cut out as speedily as possible.
Yes, by all means, he said.
Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing, let us imagine
democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into three classes; for in the
first place freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there
were in the oligarchical State.
That is true.
And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.
Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and driven from
office, and therefore they cannot train or gather strength; whereas in a
democracy they are almost the entire ruling power, and while the keener
sort speak and act, the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer
a word to be said on the other side; hence in democracies almost everything
is managed by the drones.
Very true, he said.
Then there is another class which is always being severed from the mass.
What is that?
They are the orderly class, which in a nation of traders is sure to be the
They are the most squeezable persons and yield the largest amount of honey
to the drones.
Why, he said, there is little to be squeezed out of people who have little.
And this is called the wealthy class, and the drones feed upon them.
That is pretty much the case, he said.
The people are a third class, consisting of those who work with their own
hands; they are not politicians, and have not much to live upon. This,
when assembled, is the largest and most powerful class in a democracy.
True, he said; but then the multitude is seldom willing to congregate
unless they get a little honey.
And do they not share? I said. Do not their leaders deprive the rich of
their estates and distribute them among the people; at the same time taking
care to reserve the larger part for themselves?
Why, yes, he said, to that extent the people do share.
And the persons whose property is taken from them are compelled to defend
themselves before the people as they best can?
What else can they do?
And then, although they may have no desire of change, the others charge
them with plotting against the people and being friends of oligarchy?
And the end is that when they see the people, not of their own accord, but
through ignorance, and because they are deceived by informers, seeking to
do them wrong, then at last they are forced to become oligarchs in reality;
they do not wish to be, but the sting of the drones torments them and
breeds revolution in them.
That is exactly the truth.
Then come impeachments and judgments and trials of one another.
The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into
Yes, that is their way.
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first
appears above ground he is a protector.
Yes, that is quite clear.
How then does a protector begin to change into a tyrant? Clearly when he
does what the man is said to do in the tale of the Arcadian temple of
The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim
minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf.
Did you never hear it?
And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at his
disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by the
favourite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders
them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips
tasting the blood of his fellow citizens; some he kills and others he
banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition
of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either
perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf--that
is, a tyrant?
This, I said, is he who begins to make a party against the rich?
After a while he is driven out, but comes back, in spite of his enemies, a
tyrant full grown.
That is clear.
And if they are unable to expel him, or to get him condemned to death by a
public accusation, they conspire to assassinate him.
Yes, he said, that is their usual way.
Then comes the famous request for a body-guard, which is the device of all
those who have got thus far in their tyrannical career--'Let not the
people's friend,' as they say, 'be lost to them.'
The people readily assent; all their fears are for him--they have none for
And when a man who is wealthy and is also accused of being an enemy of the
people sees this, then, my friend, as the oracle said to Croesus,
'By pebbly Hermus' shore he flees and rests not, and is not ashamed to be a
And quite right too, said he, for if he were, he would never be ashamed
But if he is caught he dies.
And he, the protector of whom we spoke, is to be seen, not 'larding the
plain' with his bulk, but himself the overthrower of many, standing up in
the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but
No doubt, he said.
And now let us consider the happiness of the man, and also of the State in
which a creature like him is generated.
Yes, he said, let us consider that.
At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he
salutes every one whom he meets;--he to be called a tyrant, who is making
promises in public and also in private! liberating debtors, and
distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so
kind and good to every one!
Of course, he said.
But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and
there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war
or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
To be sure.
Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by
payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily
wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?
And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and
of resistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying
them by placing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons
the tyrant must be always getting up a war.
Now he begins to grow unpopular.
A necessary result.
Then some of those who joined in setting him up, and who are in power,
speak their minds to him and to one another, and the more courageous of
them cast in his teeth what is being done.
Yes, that may be expected.
And the tyrant, if he means to rule, must get rid of them; he cannot stop
while he has a friend or an enemy who is good for anything.
And therefore he must look about him and see who is valiant, who is
high-minded, who is wise, who is wealthy; happy man, he is the enemy of
them all, and must seek occasion against them whether he will or no, until
he has made a purgation of the State.
Yes, he said, and a rare purgation.
Yes, I said, not the sort of purgation which the physicians make of the
body; for they take away the worse and leave the better part, but he does
If he is to rule, I suppose that he cannot help himself.
What a blessed alternative, I said:--to be compelled to dwell only with the
many bad, and to be by them hated, or not to live at all!
Yes, that is the alternative.
And the more detestable his actions are to the citizens the more satellites
and the greater devotion in them will he require?
And who are the devoted band, and where will he procure them?
They will flock to him, he said, of their own accord, if he pays them.
By the dog! I said, here are more drones, of every sort and from every
Yes, he said, there are.
But will he not desire to get them on the spot?
How do you mean?
He will rob the citizens of their slaves; he will then set them free and
enrol them in his body-guard.
To be sure, he said; and he will be able to trust them best of all.
What a blessed creature, I said, must this tyrant be; he has put to death
the others and has these for his trusted friends.
Yes, he said; they are quite of his sort.
Yes, I said, and these are the new citizens whom he has called into
existence, who admire him and are his companions, while the good hate and
Verily, then, tragedy is a wise thing and Euripides a great tragedian.
Why, because he is the author of the pregnant saying,
'Tyrants are wise by living with the wise;'
and he clearly meant to say that they are the wise whom the tyrant makes
Yes, he said, and he also praises tyranny as godlike; and many other things
of the same kind are said by him and by the other poets.
And therefore, I said, the tragic poets being wise men will forgive us and
any others who live after our manner if we do not receive them into our
State, because they are the eulogists of tyranny.
Yes, he said, those who have the wit will doubtless forgive us.
But they will continue to go to other cities and attract mobs, and hire
voices fair and loud and persuasive, and draw the cities over to tyrannies
Moreover, they are paid for this and receive honour--the greatest honour,
as might be expected, from tyrants, and the next greatest from democracies;
but the higher they ascend our constitution hill, the more their reputation
fails, and seems unable from shortness of breath to proceed further.
But we are wandering from the subject: Let us therefore return 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
Yes, quite enough, he said.
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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 new-fangled 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
He is indeed, he replied.
He first takes their property, and when that fails, 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 body-guard 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, and the rest of the
people are well disposed, they go away and become the body-guard 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, cut-purses, foot-pads, 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
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
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
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 of justice?
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.
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
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 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 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 and enslaved.
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
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
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 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 more slaves.
Yes, that is the difference.
You know that they live securely and have nothing to apprehend from their
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 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 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
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
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 be
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
'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 judgment 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 at rest.
Again, when pleasure ceases, that sort of rest or cessation will be
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 to 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 of pain.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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 and incontinent.
Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the many like an
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
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?