Part 7 out of 12
maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.
In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterly
unbecoming the character of our guardians.
And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?
The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed 'relaxed.'
Well, and are these of any military use?
Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the Phrygian are
the only ones which you have left.
I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one
warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour
of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going
to wounds or death or is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such
crisis meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to
endure; and another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of
action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to
persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or on the
other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to persuasion or
entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when by prudent conduct he
has attained his end, not carried away by his success, but acting
moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in the
event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and
the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the
fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I
And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I was
just now speaking.
Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and
melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?
I suppose not.
Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners and
complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed curiously-
But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would you admit
them into our State when you reflect that in this composite use of harmony
the flute is worse than all the stringed instruments put together; even the
panharmonic music is only an imitation of the flute?
There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and the
shepherds may have a pipe in the country.
That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.
The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments
is not at all strange, I said.
Not at all, he replied.
And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the State,
which not long ago we termed luxurious.
And we have done wisely, he replied.
Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to harmonies,
rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be subject to the same
rules, for we ought not to seek out complex systems of metre, or metres of
every kind, but rather to discover what rhythms are the expressions of a
courageous and harmonious life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt
the foot and the melody to words having a like spirit, not the words to the
foot and melody. To say what these rhythms are will be your duty--you must
teach me them, as you have already taught me the harmonies.
But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are
some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are framed,
just as in sounds there are four notes (i.e. the four notes of the
tetrachord.) out of which all the harmonies are composed; that is an
observation which I have made. But of what sort of lives they are
severally the imitations I am unable to say.
Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he will tell us
what rhythms are expressive of meanness, or insolence, or fury, or other
unworthiness, and what are to be reserved for the expression of opposite
feelings. And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his
mentioning a complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he
arranged them in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the
rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short alternating;
and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as of a trochaic
rhythm, and assigned to them short and long quantities. Also in some cases
he appeared to praise or censure the movement of the foot quite as much as
the rhythm; or perhaps a combination of the two; for I am not certain what
he meant. These matters, however, as I was saying, had better be referred
to Damon himself, for the analysis of the subject would be difficult, you
know? (Socrates expresses himself carelessly in accordance with his
assumed ignorance of the details of the subject. In the first part of the
sentence he appears to be speaking of paeonic rhythms which are in the
ratio of 3/2; in the second part, of dactylic and anapaestic rhythms, which
are in the ratio of 1/1; in the last clause, of iambic and trochaic
rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/2 or 2/1.)
Rather so, I should say.
But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence of grace is
an effect of good or bad rhythm.
None at all.
And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a good and bad
style; and that harmony and discord in like manner follow style; for our
principle is that rhythm and harmony are regulated by the words, and not
the words by them.
Just so, he said, they should follow the words.
And will not the words and the character of the style depend on the temper
of the soul?
And everything else on the style?
Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on
simplicity,--I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind
and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism for
Very true, he replied.
And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not make these
graces and harmonies their perpetual aim?
And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and constructive
art are full of them,--weaving, embroidery, architecture, and every kind of
manufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable,--in all of them there is
grace or the absence of grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious
motion are nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony
are the twin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their likeness.
That is quite true, he said.
But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets only to be
required by us to express the image of the good in their works, on pain, if
they do anything else, of expulsion from our State? Or is the same control
to be extended to other artists, and are they also to be prohibited from
exhibiting the opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness and
indecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts; and is he
who cannot conform to this rule of ours to be prevented from practising his
art in our State, lest the taste of our citizens be corrupted by him? We
would not have our guardians grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in
some noxious pasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb
and flower day by day, little by little, until they silently gather a
festering mass of corruption in their own soul. Let our artists rather be
those who are gifted to discern the true nature of the beautiful and
graceful; then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights
and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence
of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze
from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into
likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.
There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.
And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into
the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting
grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of
him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received
this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive
omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he
praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes
noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of
his youth, even before he is able to know the reason why; and when reason
comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whom his education has
made him long familiar.
Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our youth should be
trained in music and on the grounds which you mention.
Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the
letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring sizes
and combinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they occupy a
space large or small, but everywhere eager to make them out; and not
thinking ourselves perfect in the art of reading until we recognise them
wherever they are found:
Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or in a mirror,
only when we know the letters themselves; the same art and study giving us
the knowledge of both:
Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we have to
educate, can ever become musical until we and they know the essential forms
of temperance, courage, liberality, magnificence, and their kindred, as
well as the contrary forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise
them and their images wherever they are found, not slighting them either in
small things or great, but believing them all to be within the sphere of
one art and study.
And when a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form, and the two are
cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye
to see it?
The fairest indeed.
And the fairest is also the loveliest?
That may be assumed.
And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with the
loveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?
That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there be
any merely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and will love
all the same.
I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of this sort, and
I agree. But let me ask you another question: Has excess of pleasure any
affinity to temperance?
How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the use of his
faculties quite as much as pain.
Or any affinity to virtue in general?
Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?
Yes, the greatest.
And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sensual love?
No, nor a madder.
Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order--temperate and harmonious?
Quite true, he said.
Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?
Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come near the
lover and his beloved; neither of them can have any part in it if their
love is of the right sort?
No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.
Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you would make a law
to the effect that a friend should use no other familiarity to his love
than a father would use to his son, and then only for a noble purpose, and
he must first have the other's consent; and this rule is to limit him in
all his intercourse, and he is never to be seen going further, or, if he
exceeds, he is to be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.
I quite agree, he said.
Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end
of music if not the love of beauty?
I agree, he said.
After music comes gymnastic, in which our youth are next to be trained.
Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in it
should be careful and should continue through life. Now my belief is,--and
this is a matter upon which I should like to have your opinion in
confirmation of my own, but my own belief is,--not that the good body by
any bodily excellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that the
good soul, by her own excellence, improves the body as far as this may be
possible. What do you say?
Yes, I agree.
Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right in handing
over the more particular care of the body; and in order to avoid prolixity
we will now only give the general outlines of the subject.
That they must abstain from intoxication has been already remarked by us;
for of all persons a guardian should be the last to get drunk and not know
where in the world he is.
Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian to take care
of him is ridiculous indeed.
But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in training for
the great contest of all--are they not?
Yes, he said.
And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?
I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is but a sleepy
sort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you not observe that
these athletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to most dangerous
illnesses if they depart, in ever so slight a degree, from their customary
Yes, I do.
Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for our warrior
athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the
utmost keenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of summer
heat and winter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign,
they must not be liable to break down in health.
That is my view.
The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple music which we
were just now describing.
Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our music, is simple
and good; and especially the military gymnastic.
What do you mean?
My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at
their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers' fare; they have no
fish, although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not
allowed boiled meats but only roast, which is the food most convenient for
soldiers, requiring only that they should light a fire, and not involving
the trouble of carrying about pots and pans.
And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere
mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular; all
professional athletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good
condition should take nothing of the kind.
Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.
Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements of
I think not.
Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to have a
Corinthian girl as his fair friend?
Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are thought, of
All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us to melody and
song composed in the panharmonic style, and in all the rhythms.
There complexity engendered licence, and here disease; whereas simplicity
in music was the parent of temperance in the soul; and simplicity in
gymnastic of health in the body.
Most true, he said.
But when intemperance and diseases multiply in a State, halls of justice
and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the
lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not
only the slaves but the freemen of a city take about them.
And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and disgraceful state of
education than this, that not only artisans and the meaner sort of people
need the skill of first-rate physicians and judges, but also those who
would profess to have had a liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and
a great sign of want of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad
for his law and physic because he has none of his own at home, and must
therefore surrender himself into the hands of other men whom he makes lords
and judges over him?
Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.
Would you say 'most,' I replied, when you consider that there is a further
stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long litigant, passing
all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff or defendant, but is
actually led by his bad taste to pride himself on his litigiousness; he
imagines that he is a master in dishonesty; able to take every crooked
turn, and wriggle into and out of every hole, bending like a withy and
getting out of the way of justice: and all for what?--in order to gain
small points not worth mentioning, he not knowing that so to order his life
as to be able to do without a napping judge is a far higher and nobler sort
of thing. Is not that still more disgraceful?
Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.
Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has to
be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by indolence and
a habit of life such as we have been describing, men fill themselves with
waters and winds, as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious
sons of Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and
catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?
Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and newfangled names to
Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the
days of Asclepius; and this I infer from the circumstance that the hero
Eurypylus, after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian
wine well besprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are
certainly inflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the
Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke
Patroclus, who is treating his case.
Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a
person in his condition.
Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former days,
as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius
did not practise our present system of medicine, which may be said to
educate diseases. But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly
constitution, by a combination of training and doctoring found out a way of
torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.
How was that? he said.
By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which he
perpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he passed his
entire life as a valetudinarian; he could do nothing but attend upon
himself, and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything
from his usual regimen, and so dying hard, by the help of science he
struggled on to old age.
A rare reward of his skill!
Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understood
that, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in valetudinarian arts,
the omission arose, not from ignorance or inexperience of such a branch of
medicine, but because he knew that in all well-ordered states every
individual has an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no
leisure to spend in continually being ill. This we remark in the case of
the artisan, but, ludicrously enough, do not apply the same rule to people
of the richer sort.
How do you mean? he said.
I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and
ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife,--these are his
remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and
tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of
thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees
no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of
his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of
physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives
and does his business, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has no
Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use the art of
medicine thus far only.
Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there be in his
life if he were deprived of his occupation?
Quite true, he said.
But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say that he has
any specially appointed work which he must perform, if he would live.
He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.
Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man has
a livelihood he should practise virtue?
Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.
Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but rather ask
ourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he
live without it? And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a further
question, whether this dieting of disorders, which is an impediment to the
application of the mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not
equally stand in the way of the sentiment of Phocylides?
Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive care of the
body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the
practice of virtue.
Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the management of a
house, an army, or an office of state; and, what is most important of all,
irreconcileable with any kind of study or thought or self-reflection--there
is a constant suspicion that headache and giddiness are to be ascribed to
philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial of virtue in the
higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancying that he is
being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of his body.
Yes, likely enough.
And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the
power of his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy
constitution and habits of life, had a definite ailment; such as these he
cured by purges and operations, and bade them live as usual, herein
consulting the interests of the State; but bodies which disease had
penetrated through and through he would not have attempted to cure by
gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to lengthen
out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting weaker sons;
--if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had no business to
cure him; for such a cure would have been of no use either to himself, or
to the State.
Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.
Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons. Note that
they were heroes in the days of old and practised the medicines of which I
am speaking at the siege of Troy: You will remember how, when Pandarus
wounded Menelaus, they
'Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies,'
but they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink
in the case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus; the
remedies, as they conceived, were enough to heal any man who before he was
wounded was healthy and regular in his habits; and even though he did
happen to drink a posset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same.
But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects,
whose lives were of no use either to themselves or others; the art of
medicine was not designed for their good, and though they were as rich as
Midas, the sons of Asclepius would have declined to attend them.
They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.
Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar
disobeying our behests, although they acknowledge that Asclepius was the
son of Apollo, say also that he was bribed into healing a rich man who was
at the point of death, and for this reason he was struck by lightning. But
we, in accordance with the principle already affirmed by us, will not
believe them when they tell us both;--if he was the son of a god, we
maintain that he was not avaricious; or, if he was avaricious, he was not
the son of a god.
All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a question to
you: Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are not the
best those who have treated the greatest number of constitutions good and
bad? and are not the best judges in like manner those who are acquainted
with all sorts of moral natures?
Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do you
know whom I think good?
Will you tell me?
I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same question you join
two things which are not the same.
How so? he asked.
Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skilful
physicians are those who, from their youth upwards, have combined with the
knowledge of their art the greatest experience of disease; they had better
not be robust in health, and should have had all manner of diseases in
their own persons. For the body, as I conceive, is not the instrument with
which they cure the body; in that case we could not allow them ever to be
or to have been sickly; but they cure the body with the mind, and the mind
which has become and is sick can cure nothing.
That is very true, he said.
But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he ought
not therefore to have been trained among vicious minds, and to have
associated with them from youth upwards, and to have gone through the whole
calendar of crime, only in order that he may quickly infer the crimes of
others as he might their bodily diseases from his own self-consciousness;
the honourable mind which is to form a healthy judgment should have had no
experience or contamination of evil habits when young. And this is the
reason why in youth good men often appear to be simple, and are easily
practised upon by the dishonest, because they have no examples of what evil
is in their own souls.
Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.
Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned to
know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of the
nature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personal
Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.
Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer to your
question); for he is good who has a good soul. But the cunning and
suspicious nature of which we spoke,--he who has committed many crimes, and
fancies himself to be a master in wickedness, when he is amongst his
fellows, is wonderful in the precautions which he takes, because he judges
of them by himself: but when he gets into the company of men of virtue,
who have the experience of age, he appears to be a fool again, owing to his
unseasonable suspicions; he cannot recognise an honest man, because he has
no pattern of honesty in himself; at the same time, as the bad are more
numerous than the good, and he meets with them oftener, he thinks himself,
and is by others thought to be, rather wise than foolish.
Most true, he said.
Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this man, but the
other; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a virtuous nature, educated by
time, will acquire a knowledge both of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and
not the vicious, man has wisdom--in my opinion.
And in mine also.
This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you will
sanction in your state. They will minister to better natures, giving
health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies
they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put
an end to themselves.
That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.
And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music which,
as we said, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.
And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise
the simple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some
That I quite believe.
The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended to stimulate
the spirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength; he
will not, like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develope his
Very right, he said.
Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really designed, as is
often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the
training of the body.
What then is the real object of them?
I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the
improvement of the soul.
How can that be? he asked.
Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself of exclusive
devotion to gymnastic, or the opposite effect of an exclusive devotion to
In what way shown? he said.
The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of softness
and effeminacy, I replied.
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of a
savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is
good for him.
Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightly
educated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to
become hard and brutal.
That I quite think.
On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness. And
this also, when too much indulged, will turn to softness, but, if educated
rightly, will be gentle and moderate.
And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?
And both should be in harmony?
And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?
And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?
And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul
through the funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs of
which we were just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in warbling
and the delights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or
spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of
brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing
process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted
away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble
If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedily
accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music weakening
the spirit renders him excitable;--on the least provocation he flames up at
once, and is speedily extinguished; instead of having spirit he grows
irritable and passionate and is quite impracticable.
And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great
feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at
first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and
he becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with the
Muses, does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no
taste of any sort of learning or enquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble
and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and
his senses not being purged of their mists?
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using the
weapon of persuasion,--he is like a wild beast, all violence and
fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all
ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.
That is quite true, he said.
And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the
other the philosophical, some God, as I should say, has given mankind two
arts answering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and body), in order
that these two principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be
relaxed or drawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.
That appears to be the intention.
And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest proportions, and
best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician
and harmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.
You are quite right, Socrates.
And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if the
government is to last.
Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.
Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where would be
the use of going into further details about the dances of our citizens, or
about their hunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian contests?
For these all follow the general principle, and having found that, we shall
have no difficulty in discovering them.
I dare say that there will be no difficulty.
Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not ask who are
to be rulers and who subjects?
There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.
And that the best of these must rule.
That is also clear.
Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to husbandry?
And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must they not be
those who have most the character of guardians?
And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to have a special
care of the State?
And a man will be most likely to care about that which he loves?
To be sure.
And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as having the same
interests with himself, and that of which the good or evil fortune is
supposed by him at any time most to affect his own?
Very true, he replied.
Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the guardians those who
in their whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for the good
of their country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is against her
Those are the right men.
And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that we may see
whether they preserve their resolution, and never, under the influence
either of force or enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to
How cast off? he said.
I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a man's mind
either with his will or against his will; with his will when he gets rid of
a falsehood and learns better, against his will whenever he is deprived of
I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the meaning of the
unwilling I have yet to learn.
Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly deprived of good, and
willingly of evil? Is not to have lost the truth an evil, and to possess
the truth a good? and you would agree that to conceive things as they are
is to possess the truth?
Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind are deprived of
truth against their will.
And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by theft, or force,
Still, he replied, I do not understand you.
I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the tragedians. I only
mean that some men are changed by persuasion and that others forget;
argument steals away the hearts of one class, and time of the other; and
this I call theft. Now you understand me?
Those again who are forced, are those whom the violence of some pain or
grief compels to change their opinion.
I understand, he said, and you are quite right.
And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those who change
their minds either under the softer influence of pleasure, or the sterner
influence of fear?
Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.
Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are the best
guardians of their own conviction that what they think the interest of the
State is to be the rule of their lives. We must watch them from their
youth upwards, and make them perform actions in which they are most likely
to forget or to be deceived, and he who remembers and is not deceived is to
be selected, and he who fails in the trial is to be rejected. That will be
And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for them,
in which they will be made to give further proof of the same qualities.
Very right, he replied.
And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments--that is the third
sort of test--and see what will be their behaviour: like those who take
colts amid noise and tumult to see if they are of a timid nature, so must
we take our youth amid terrors of some kind, and again pass them into
pleasures, and prove them more thoroughly than gold is proved in the
furnace, that we may discover whether they are armed against all
enchantments, and of a noble bearing always, good guardians of themselves
and of the music which they have learned, and retaining under all
circumstances a rhythmical and harmonious nature, such as will be most
serviceable to the individual and to the State. And he who at every age,
as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out of the trial victorious
and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of the State; he shall be
honoured in life and death, and shall receive sepulture and other memorials
of honour, the greatest that we have to give. But him who fails, we must
reject. I am inclined to think that this is the sort of way in which our
rulers and guardians should be chosen and appointed. I speak generally,
and not with any pretension to exactness.
And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.
And perhaps the word 'guardian' in the fullest sense ought to be applied to
this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies and maintain
peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the will, or
the others the power, to harm us. The young men whom we before called
guardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of the
principles of the rulers.
I agree with you, he said.
How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately
spoke--just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that be
possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?
What sort of lie? he said.
Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale (Laws) of what has
often occurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have made
the world believe,) though not in our time, and I do not know whether such
an event could ever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it
How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!
You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have heard.
Speak, he said, and fear not.
Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in the
face, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I propose to
communicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and
lastly to the people. They are to be told that their youth was a dream,
and the education and training which they received from us, an appearance
only; in reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in the
womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and appurtenances
were manufactured; when they were completed, the earth, their mother, sent
them up; and so, their country being their mother and also their nurse,
they are bound to advise for her good, and to defend her against attacks,
and her citizens they are to regard as children of the earth and their own
You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which you were going
True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told you half.
Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has
framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the
composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the
greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others
again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and
iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as
all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a
silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. And God proclaims as a first
principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which
they should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such good
guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should observe what elements
mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden or silver parent has
an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition of
ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards the child
because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan,
just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of gold or
silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries.
For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it
will be destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making
our citizens believe in it?
Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing
this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons'
sons, and posterity after them.
I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will
make them care more for the city and for one another. Enough, however, of
the fiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while we
arm our earth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of their
rulers. Let them look round and select a spot whence they can best
suppress insurrection, if any prove refractory within, and also defend
themselves against enemies, who like wolves may come down on the fold from
without; there let them encamp, and when they have encamped, let them
sacrifice to the proper Gods and prepare their dwellings.
Just so, he said.
And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against the cold of
winter and the heat of summer.
I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.
Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not of shop-
What is the difference? he said.
That I will endeavour to explain, I replied. To keep watch-dogs, who, from
want of discipline or hunger, or some evil habit or other, would turn upon
the sheep and worry them, and behave not like dogs but wolves, would be a
foul and monstrous thing in a shepherd?
Truly monstrous, he said.
And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries, being stronger
than our citizens, may not grow to be too much for them and become savage
tyrants instead of friends and allies?
Yes, great care should be taken.
And would not a really good education furnish the best safeguard?
But they are well-educated already, he replied.
I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much more certain
that they ought to be, and that true education, whatever that may be, will
have the greatest tendency to civilize and humanize them in their relations
to one another, and to those who are under their protection.
Very true, he replied.
And not only their education, but their habitations, and all that belongs
to them, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as guardians,
nor tempt them to prey upon the other citizens. Any man of sense must
Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to
realize our idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have any
property of his own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should
they have a private house or store closed against any one who has a mind to
enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by trained
warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; they should agree to
receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses
of the year and no more; and they will go to mess and live together like
soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from
God; the diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of
the dross which is current among men, and ought not to pollute the divine
by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner metal has been the source
of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled. And they alone of all
the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same
roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will be their
salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State. But should they
ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will become
housekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants
instead of allies of the other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting
and being plotted against, they will pass their whole life in much greater
terror of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to
themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at hand. For all which
reasons may we not say that thus shall our State be ordered, and that these
shall be the regulations appointed by us for guardians concerning their
houses and all other matters?
Yes, said Glaucon.
Here Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer, Socrates,
said he, if a person were to say that you are making these people
miserable, and that they are the cause of their own unhappiness; the city
in fact belongs to them, but they are none the better for it; whereas other
men acquire lands, and build large and handsome houses, and have everything
handsome about them, offering sacrifices to the gods on their own account,
and practising hospitality; moreover, as you were saying just now, they
have gold and silver, and all that is usual among the favourites of
fortune; but our poor citizens are no better than mercenaries who are
quartered in the city and are always mounting guard?
Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not paid in
addition to their food, like other men; and therefore they cannot, if they
would, take a journey of pleasure; they have no money to spend on a
mistress or any other luxurious fancy, which, as the world goes, is thought
to be happiness; and many other accusations of the same nature might be
But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the charge.
You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?
If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that we shall find
the answer. And our answer will be that, even as they are, our guardians
may very likely be the happiest of men; but that our aim in founding the
State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the
greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which is
ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to
find justice, and in the ill-ordered State injustice: and, having found
them, we might then decide which of the two is the happier. At present, I
take it, we are fashioning the happy State, not piecemeal, or with a view
of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole; and by-and-by we will
proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that we were painting
a statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not put the most
beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the body--the eyes ought
to be purple, but you have made them black--to him we might fairly answer,
Sir, you would not surely have us beautify the eyes to such a degree that
they are no longer eyes; consider rather whether, by giving this and the
other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful. And so I
say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort of happiness
which will make them anything but guardians; for we too can clothe our
husbandmen in royal apparel, and set crowns of gold on their heads, and bid
them till the ground as much as they like, and no more. Our potters also
might be allowed to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside, passing
round the winecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and working
at pottery only as much as they like; in this way we might make every class
happy--and then, as you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do
not put this idea into our heads; for, if we listen to you, the husbandman
will be no longer a husbandman, the potter will cease to be a potter, and
no one will have the character of any distinct class in the State. Now
this is not of much consequence where the corruption of society, and
pretension to be what you are not, is confined to cobblers; but when the
guardians of the laws and of the government are only seeming and not real
guardians, then see how they turn the State upside down; and on the other
hand they alone have the power of giving order and happiness to the State.
We mean our guardians to be true saviours and not the destroyers of the
State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasants at a festival, who are
enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who are doing their duty to the
State. But, if so, we mean different things, and he is speaking of
something which is not a State. And therefore we must consider whether in
appointing our guardians we would look to their greatest happiness
individually, or whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside
in the State as a whole. But if the latter be the truth, then the
guardians and auxiliaries, and all others equally with them, must be
compelled or induced to do their own work in the best way. And thus the
whole State will grow up in a noble order, and the several classes will
receive the proportion of happiness which nature assigns to them.
I think that you are quite right.
I wonder whether you will agree with another remark which occurs to me.
What may that be?
There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.
What are they?
Wealth, I said, and poverty.
How do they act?
The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will he, think you,
any longer take the same pains with his art?
He will grow more and more indolent and careless?
And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?
Yes; he greatly deteriorates.
But, on the other hand, if he has no money, and cannot provide himself with
tools or instruments, he will not work equally well himself, nor will he
teach his sons or apprentices to work equally well.
Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth, workmen and their
work are equally liable to degenerate?
That is evident.
Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which the
guardians will have to watch, or they will creep into the city unobserved.
Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence,
and the other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.
That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to know, Socrates,
how our city will be able to go to war, especially against an enemy who is
rich and powerful, if deprived of the sinews of war.
There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to war with one
such enemy; but there is no difficulty where there are two of them.
How so? he asked.
In the first place, I said, if we have to fight, our side will be trained
warriors fighting against an army of rich men.
That is true, he said.
And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who was perfect in
his art would easily be a match for two stout and well-to-do gentlemen who
were not boxers?
Hardly, if they came upon him at once.
What, now, I said, if he were able to run away and then turn and strike at
the one who first came up? And supposing he were to do this several times
under the heat of a scorching sun, might he not, being an expert, overturn
more than one stout personage?
Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in that.
And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in the science and
practise of boxing than they have in military qualities.
Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight with two or
three times their own number?
I agree with you, for I think you right.
And suppose that, before engaging, our citizens send an embassy to one of
the two cities, telling them what is the truth: Silver and gold we neither
have nor are permitted to have, but you may; do you therefore come and help
us in war, and take the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these
words, would choose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with the
dogs on their side, against fat and tender sheep?
That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the poor State if
the wealth of many States were to be gathered into one.
But how simple of you to use the term State at all of any but our own!
You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not one of them is
a city, but many cities, as they say in the game. For indeed any city,
however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the
other of the rich; these are at war with one another; and in either there
are many smaller divisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark if
you treated them all as a single State. But if you deal with them as many,
and give the wealth or power or persons of the one to the others, you will
always have a great many friends and not many enemies. And your State,
while the wise order which has now been prescribed continues to prevail in
her, will be the greatest of States, I do not mean to say in reputation or
appearance, but in deed and truth, though she number not more than a
thousand defenders. A single State which is her equal you will hardly
find, either among Hellenes or barbarians, though many that appear to be as
great and many times greater.
That is most true, he said.
And what, I said, will be the best limit for our rulers to fix when they
are considering the size of the State and the amount of territory which
they are to include, and beyond which they will not go?
What limit would you propose?
I would allow the State to increase so far as is consistent with unity;
that, I think, is the proper limit.
Very good, he said.
Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be conveyed to our
guardians: Let our city be accounted neither large nor small, but one and
And surely, said he, this is not a very severe order which we impose upon
And the other, said I, of which we were speaking before is lighter still,--
I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of the guardians when inferior,
and of elevating into the rank of guardians the offspring of the lower
classes, when naturally superior. The intention was, that, in the case of
the citizens generally, each individual should be put to the use for which
nature intended him, one to one work, and then every man would do his own
business, and be one and not many; and so the whole city would be one and
Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.
The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adeimantus, are not, as
might be supposed, a number of great principles, but trifles all, if care
be taken, as the saying is, of the one great thing,--a thing, however,
which I would rather call, not great, but sufficient for our purpose.
What may that be? he asked.
Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well educated, and
grow into sensible men, they will easily see their way through all these,
as well as other matters which I omit; such, for example, as marriage, the
possession of women and the procreation of children, which will all follow
the general principle that friends have all things in common, as the
That will be the best way of settling them.
Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with accumulating
force like a wheel. For good nurture and education implant good
constitutions, and these good constitutions taking root in a good education
improve more and more, and this improvement affects the breed in man as in
Very possibly, he said.
Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the attention of
our rulers should be directed,--that music and gymnastic be preserved in
their original form, and no innovation made. They must do their utmost to
maintain them intact. And when any one says that mankind most regard
'The newest song which the singers have,'
they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs, but a new kind
of song; and this ought not to be praised, or conceived to be the meaning
of the poet; for any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole
State, and ought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite
believe him;--he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws
of the State always change with them.
Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon's and your own.
Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their fortress in
Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.
Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it appears
Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that little by little
this spirit of licence, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates into
manners and customs; whence, issuing with greater force, it invades
contracts between man and man, and from contracts goes on to laws and
constitutions, in utter recklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an
overthrow of all rights, private as well as public.
Is that true? I said.
That is my belief, he replied.
Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained from the first in a
stricter system, for if amusements become lawless, and the youths
themselves become lawless, they can never grow up into well-conducted and
Very true, he said.
And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the help of music
have gained the habit of good order, then this habit of order, in a manner
how unlike the lawless play of the others! will accompany them in all their
actions and be a principle of growth to them, and if there be any fallen
places in the State will raise them up again.
Very true, he said.
Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser rules which their
predecessors have altogether neglected.
What do you mean?
I mean such things as these:--when the young are to be silent before their
elders; how they are to show respect to them by standing and making them
sit; what honour is due to parents; what garments or shoes are to be worn;
the mode of dressing the hair; deportment and manners in general. You
would agree with me?
But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters,--I
doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments about them
likely to be lasting.
It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a
man, will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?
To be sure.
Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be good, and may
be the reverse of good?
That is not to be denied.
And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate further about
Naturally enough, he replied.
Well, and about the business of the agora, and the ordinary dealings
between man and man, or again about agreements with artisans; about insult
and injury, or the commencement of actions, and the appointment of juries,
what would you say? there may also arise questions about any impositions
and exactions of market and harbour dues which may be required, and in
general about the regulations of markets, police, harbours, and the like.
But, oh heavens! shall we condescend to legislate on any of these
I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them on good
men; what regulations are necessary they will find out soon enough for
Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws which we
have given them.
And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for ever making
and mending their laws and their lives in the hope of attaining perfection.
You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having no self-
restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?
Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are always
doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders, and always
fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum which anybody advises them
Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this sort.
Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst
enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that, unless they give up
eating and drinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery nor
spell nor amulet nor any other remedy will avail.
Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a passion with
a man who tells you what is right.
These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good graces.
Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like the men whom I
was just now describing. For are there not ill-ordered States in which the
citizens are forbidden under pain of death to alter the constitution; and
yet he who most sweetly courts those who live under this regime and
indulges them and fawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating and
gratifying their humours is held to be a great and good statesman--do not
these States resemble the persons whom I was describing?
Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am very far from
But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity of these ready
ministers of political corruption?
Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are some whom the
applause of the multitude has deluded into the belief that they are really
statesmen, and these are not much to be admired.
What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them. When a
man cannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure declare that
he is four cubits high, can he help believing what they say?
Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.
Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as a play,
trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing; they are
always fancying that by legislation they will make an end of frauds in
contracts, and the other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing
that they are in reality cutting off the heads of a hydra?
Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.
I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble himself with
this class of enactments whether concerning laws or the constitution either
in an ill-ordered or in a well-ordered State; for in the former they are
quite useless, and in the latter there will be no difficulty in devising
them; and many of them will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.
What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of legislation?
Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the God of Delphi, there remains
the ordering of the greatest and noblest and chiefest things of all.
Which are they? he said.
The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire service of gods,
demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the repositories of the dead,
and the rites which have to be observed by him who would propitiate the
inhabitants of the world below. These are matters of which we are ignorant
ourselves, and as founders of a city we should be unwise in trusting them
to any interpreter but our ancestral deity. He is the god who sits in the
centre, on the navel of the earth, and he is the interpreter of religion to
You are right, and we will do as you propose.
But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where. Now
that our city has been made habitable, light a candle and search, and get
your brother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help, and let
us see where in it we can discover justice and where injustice, and in what
they differ from one another, and which of them the man who would be happy
should have for his portion, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.
Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search yourself, saying
that for you not to help justice in her need would be an impiety?
I do not deny that I said so, and as you remind me, I will be as good as my
word; but you must join.
We will, he replied.
Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I mean to begin with
the assumption that our State, if rightly ordered, is perfect.
That is most certain.
And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate and just.
That is likewise clear.
And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one which is not
found will be the residue?
If there were four things, and we were searching for one of them, wherever
it might be, the one sought for might be known to us from the first, and
there would be no further trouble; or we might know the other three first,
and then the fourth would clearly be the one left.
Very true, he said.
And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues, which are also
four in number?
First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes into view, and in
this I detect a certain peculiarity.
What is that?
The State which we have been describing is said to be wise as being good in
And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not by ignorance, but
by knowledge, do men counsel well?
And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?
There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the sort of knowledge
which gives a city the title of wise and good in counsel?
Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation of skill in
Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a knowledge which
counsels for the best about wooden implements?
Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots, I said, nor
as possessing any other similar knowledge?
Not by reason of any of them, he said.
Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth; that would
give the city the name of agricultural?
Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently-founded State
among any of the citizens which advises, not about any particular thing in
the State, but about the whole, and considers how a State can best deal
with itself and with other States?
There certainly is.
And what is this knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.
It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and is found among those
whom we were just now describing as perfect guardians.
And what is the name which the city derives from the possession of this
sort of knowledge?
The name of good in counsel and truly wise.
And will there be in our city more of these true guardians or more smiths?
The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.
Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who receive a
name from the profession of some kind of knowledge?
Much the smallest.
And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the knowledge which
resides in this presiding and ruling part of itself, the whole State, being
thus constituted according to nature, will be wise; and this, which has the
only knowledge worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to
be of all classes the least.
Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one of the four
virtues has somehow or other been discovered.
And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered, he replied.
Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of courage, and
in what part that quality resides which gives the name of courageous to the
How do you mean?
Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or cowardly, will be
thinking of the part which fights and goes out to war on the State's
No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.
The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly, but their
courage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the effect of making the
city either the one or the other.
The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself which
preserves under all circumstances that opinion about the nature of things
to be feared and not to be feared in which our legislator educated them;
and this is what you term courage.
I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do not think
that I perfectly understand you.
I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.
Salvation of what?
Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are and of what
nature, which the law implants through education; and I mean by the words
'under all circumstances' to intimate that in pleasure or in pain, or under
the influence of desire or fear, a man preserves, and does not lose this
opinion. Shall I give you an illustration?
If you please.
You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for making the
true sea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour first; this they
prepare and dress with much care and pains, in order that the white ground
may take the purple hue in full perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and
whatever is dyed in this manner becomes a fast colour, and no washing
either with lyes or without them can take away the bloom. But, when the
ground has not been duly prepared, you will have noticed how poor is the
look either of purple or of any other colour.
Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and ridiculous appearance.
Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was in selecting our
soldiers, and educating them in music and gymnastic; we were contriving
influences which would prepare them to take the dye of the laws in
perfection, and the colour of their opinion about dangers and of every
other opinion was to be indelibly fixed by their nurture and training, not
to be washed away by such potent lyes as pleasure--mightier agent far in
washing the soul than any soda or lye; or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the
mightiest of all other solvents. And this sort of universal saving power
of true opinion in conformity with law about real and false dangers I call
and maintain to be courage, unless you disagree.
But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to exclude mere
uninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast or of a slave--this, in
your opinion, is not the courage which the law ordains, and ought to have
Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?
Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words 'of a citizen,' you
will not be far wrong;--hereafter, if you like, we will carry the
examination further, but at present we are seeking not for courage but
justice; and for the purpose of our enquiry we have said enough.
You are right, he replied.
Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State--first, temperance, and
then justice which is the end of our search.
Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about temperance?
I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I desire that
justice should be brought to light and temperance lost sight of; and
therefore I wish that you would do me the favour of considering temperance
Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing your request.
Then consider, he said.
Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see, the virtue of
temperance has more of the nature of harmony and symphony than the
How so? he asked.
Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures
and desires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of 'a man being
his own master;' and other traces of the same notion may be found in
No doubt, he said.
There is something ridiculous in the expression 'master of himself;' for
the master is also the servant and the servant the master; and in all these
modes of speaking the same person is denoted.
The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a better and
also a worse principle; and when the better has the worse under control,
then a man is said to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise:
but when, owing to evil education or association, the better principle,
which is also the smaller, is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse
--in this case he is blamed and is called the slave of self and
Yes, there is reason in that.
And now, I said, look at our newly-created State, and there you will find
one of these two conditions realized; for the State, as you will
acknowledge, may be justly called master of itself, if the words
'temperance' and 'self-mastery' truly express the rule of the better part
over the worse.
Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.
Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures and desires and
pains are generally found in children and women and servants, and in the
freemen so called who are of the lowest and more numerous class.
Certainly, he said.
Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason, and are under
the guidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found only in a few, and
those the best born and best educated.
These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our State; and the meaner
desires of the many are held down by the virtuous desires and wisdom of the
That I perceive, he said.
Then if there be any city which may be described as master of its own
pleasures and desires, and master of itself, ours may claim such a
Certainly, he replied.
It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?
And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be agreed as to
the question who are to rule, that again will be our State?
And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which class will
temperance be found--in the rulers or in the subjects?
In both, as I should imagine, he replied.
Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess that temperance was
a sort of harmony?
Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of which resides
in a part only, the one making the State wise and the other valiant; not so
temperance, which extends to the whole, and runs through all the notes of
the scale, and produces a harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the
middle class, whether you suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom
or power or numbers or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may we
deem temperance to be the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior,
as to the right to rule of either, both in states and individuals.
I entirely agree with you.
And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues to have been
discovered in our State. The last of those qualities which make a state
virtuous must be justice, if we only knew what that was.
The inference is obvious.
The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we should surround
the cover, and look sharp that justice does not steal away, and pass out of
sight and escape us; for beyond a doubt she is somewhere in this country:
watch therefore and strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see her
first, let me know.
Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a follower who has
just eyes enough to see what you show him--that is about as much as I am
Offer up a prayer with me and follow.
I will, but you must show me the way.
Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing; still we must
Let us push on.
Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a track, and I
believe that the quarry will not escape.
Good news, he said.
Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.
Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago, there was
justice tumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her; nothing could be
more ridiculous. Like people who go about looking for what they have in
their hands--that was the way with us--we looked not at what we were
seeking, but at what was far off in the distance; and therefore, I suppose,
we missed her.
What do you mean?
I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have been talking of
justice, and have failed to recognise her.
I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.
Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You remember the
original principle which we were always laying down at the foundation of
the State, that one man should practise one thing only, the thing to which
his nature was best adapted;--now justice is this principle or a part of
Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.
Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one's own business, and not
being a busybody; we said so again and again, and many others have said the
same to us.
Yes, we said so.
Then to do one's own business in a certain way may be assumed to be
justice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?
I cannot, but I should like to be told.
Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains in the State
when the other virtues of temperance and courage and wisdom are abstracted;
and, that this is the ultimate cause and condition of the existence of all
of them, and while remaining in them is also their preservative; and we
were saying that if the three were discovered by us, justice would be the
fourth or remaining one.
That follows of necessity.
If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities by its presence
contributes most to the excellence of the State, whether the agreement of
rulers and subjects, or the preservation in the soldiers of the opinion
which the law ordains about the true nature of dangers, or wisdom and
watchfulness in the rulers, or whether this other which I am mentioning,
and which is found in children and women, slave and freeman, artisan,
ruler, subject,--the quality, I mean, of every one doing his own work, and
not being a busybody, would claim the palm--the question is not so easily
Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying which.
Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own work appears
to compete with the other political virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage.
Yes, he said.
And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?
Let us look at the question from another point of view: Are not the rulers
in a State those to whom you would entrust the office of determining suits
And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may neither take
what is another's, nor be deprived of what is his own?
Yes; that is their principle.
Which is a just principle?
Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the having and doing
what is a man's own, and belongs to him?
Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose a carpenter
to be doing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler of a carpenter; and
suppose them to exchange their implements or their duties, or the same
person to be doing the work of both, or whatever be the change; do you
think that any great harm would result to the State?
But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader,
having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of his
followers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class
of warriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which
he is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the
other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then
I think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange and this
meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State.
Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of
one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm
to the State, and may be most justly termed evil-doing?
And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one's own city would be termed by
This then is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader, the
auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business, that is justice,
and will make the city just.
I agree with you.
We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial, this
conception of justice be verified in the individual as well as in the
State, there will be no longer any room for doubt; if it be not verified,
we must have a fresh enquiry. First let us complete the old investigation,
which we began, as you remember, under the impression that, if we could
previously examine justice on the larger scale, there would be less
difficulty in discerning her in the individual. That larger example
appeared to be the State, and accordingly we constructed as good a one as
we could, knowing well that in the good State justice would be found. Let
the discovery which we made be now applied to the individual--if they
agree, we shall be satisfied; or, if there be a difference in the
individual, we will come back to the State and have another trial of the
theory. The friction of the two when rubbed together may possibly strike a
light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is then
revealed we will fix in our souls.
That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.
I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less, are called by the
same name, are they like or unlike in so far as they are called the same?
Like, he replied.
The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the
And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the
State severally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate
and valiant and wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of
these same classes?
True, he said.
And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same three
principles in his own soul which are found in the State; and he may be
rightly described in the same terms, because he is affected in the same
Certainly, he said.
Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easy question--
whether the soul has these three principles or not?
An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds that hard is
Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which we are
employing is at all adequate to the accurate solution of this question; the
true method is another and a longer one. Still we may arrive at a solution
not below the level of the previous enquiry.
May we not be satisfied with that? he said;--under the circumstances, I am
I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.
Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.
Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are the same
principles and habits which there are in the State; and that from the
individual they pass into the State?--how else can they come there? Take
the quality of passion or spirit;--it would be ridiculous to imagine that
this quality, when found in States, is not derived from the individuals who
are supposed to possess it, e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general
the northern nations; and the same may be said of the love of knowledge,
which is the special characteristic of our part of the world, or of the
love of money, which may, with equal truth, be attributed to the
Phoenicians and Egyptians.
Exactly so, he said.
There is no difficulty in understanding this.