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The Republic by Plato, translated by B. Jowett

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This etext was prepared by Sue Asscher


Translated by Benjamin Jowett


The Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of the
Laws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearer approaches
to modern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist; the Politicus or
Statesman is more ideal; the form and institutions of the State are more
clearly drawn out in the Laws; as works of art, the Symposium and the
Protagoras are of higher excellence. But no other Dialogue of Plato has
the same largeness of view and the same perfection of style; no other shows
an equal knowledge of the world, or contains more of those thoughts which
are new as well as old, and not of one age only but of all. Nowhere in
Plato is there a deeper irony or a greater wealth of humour or imagery, or
more dramatic power. Nor in any other of his writings is the attempt made
to interweave life and speculation, or to connect politics with philosophy.
The Republic is the centre around which the other Dialogues may be grouped;
here philosophy reaches the highest point (cp, especially in Books V, VI,
VII) to which ancient thinkers ever attained. Plato among the Greeks, like
Bacon among the moderns, was the first who conceived a method of knowledge,
although neither of them always distinguished the bare outline or form from
the substance of truth; and both of them had to be content with an
abstraction of science which was not yet realized. He was the greatest
metaphysical genius whom the world has seen; and in him, more than in any
other ancient thinker, the germs of future knowledge are contained. The
sciences of logic and psychology, which have supplied so many instruments
of thought to after-ages, are based upon the analyses of Socrates and
Plato. The principles of definition, the law of contradiction, the fallacy
of arguing in a circle, the distinction between the essence and accidents
of a thing or notion, between means and ends, between causes and
conditions; also the division of the mind into the rational, concupiscent,
and irascible elements, or of pleasures and desires into necessary and
unnecessary--these and other great forms of thought are all of them to be
found in the Republic, and were probably first invented by Plato. The
greatest of all logical truths, and the one of which writers on philosophy
are most apt to lose sight, the difference between words and things, has
been most strenuously insisted on by him (cp. Rep.; Polit.; Cratyl),
although he has not always avoided the confusion of them in his own
writings (e.g. Rep.). But he does not bind up truth in logical formulae,--
logic is still veiled in metaphysics; and the science which he imagines to
'contemplate all truth and all existence' is very unlike the doctrine of
the syllogism which Aristotle claims to have discovered (Soph. Elenchi).

Neither must we forget that the Republic is but the third part of a still
larger design which was to have included an ideal history of Athens, as
well as a political and physical philosophy. The fragment of the Critias
has given birth to a world-famous fiction, second only in importance to the
tale of Troy and the legend of Arthur; and is said as a fact to have
inspired some of the early navigators of the sixteenth century. This
mythical tale, of which the subject was a history of the wars of the
Athenians against the Island of Atlantis, is supposed to be founded upon an
unfinished poem of Solon, to which it would have stood in the same relation
as the writings of the logographers to the poems of Homer. It would have
told of a struggle for Liberty (cp. Tim.), intended to represent the
conflict of Persia and Hellas. We may judge from the noble commencement of
the Timaeus, from the fragment of the Critias itself, and from the third
book of the Laws, in what manner Plato would have treated this high
argument. We can only guess why the great design was abandoned; perhaps
because Plato became sensible of some incongruity in a fictitious history,
or because he had lost his interest in it, or because advancing years
forbade the completion of it; and we may please ourselves with the fancy
that had this imaginary narrative ever been finished, we should have found
Plato himself sympathising with the struggle for Hellenic independence (cp.
Laws), singing a hymn of triumph over Marathon and Salamis, perhaps making
the reflection of Herodotus where he contemplates the growth of the
Athenian empire--'How brave a thing is freedom of speech, which has made
the Athenians so far exceed every other state of Hellas in greatness!' or,
more probably, attributing the victory to the ancient good order of Athens
and to the favor of Apollo and Athene (cp. Introd. to Critias).

Again, Plato may be regarded as the 'captain' ('arhchegoz') or leader of a
goodly band of followers; for in the Republic is to be found the original
of Cicero's De Republica, of St. Augustine's City of God, of the Utopia of
Sir Thomas More, and of the numerous other imaginary States which are
framed upon the same model. The extent to which Aristotle or the
Aristotelian school were indebted to him in the Politics has been little
recognised, and the recognition is the more necessary because it is not
made by Aristotle himself. The two philosophers had more in common than
they were conscious of; and probably some elements of Plato remain still
undetected in Aristotle. In English philosophy too, many affinities may be
traced, not only in the works of the Cambridge Platonists, but in great
original writers like Berkeley or Coleridge, to Plato and his ideas. That
there is a truth higher than experience, of which the mind bears witness to
herself, is a conviction which in our own generation has been
enthusiastically asserted, and is perhaps gaining ground. Of the Greek
authors who at the Renaissance brought a new life into the world Plato has
had the greatest influence. The Republic of Plato is also the first
treatise upon education, of which the writings of Milton and Locke,
Rousseau, Jean Paul, and Goethe are the legitimate descendants. Like Dante
or Bunyan, he has a revelation of another life; like Bacon, he is
profoundly impressed with the unity of knowledge; in the early Church he
exercised a real influence on theology, and at the Revival of Literature on
politics. Even the fragments of his words when 'repeated at second-hand'
(Symp.) have in all ages ravished the hearts of men, who have seen
reflected in them their own higher nature. He is the father of idealism in
philosophy, in politics, in literature. And many of the latest conceptions
of modern thinkers and statesmen, such as the unity of knowledge, the reign
of law, and the equality of the sexes, have been anticipated in a dream by

The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of
which is first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blameless old man--then
discussed on the basis of proverbial morality by Socrates and Polemarchus--
then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially explained by Socrates--
reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus, and having become
invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State which is
constructed by Socrates. The first care of the rulers is to be education,
of which an outline is drawn after the old Hellenic model, providing only
for an improved religion and morality, and more simplicity in music and
gymnastic, a manlier strain of poetry, and greater harmony of the
individual and the State. We are thus led on to the conception of a higher
State, in which 'no man calls anything his own,' and in which there is
neither 'marrying nor giving in marriage,' and 'kings are philosophers' and
'philosophers are kings;' and there is another and higher education,
intellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as well as of art,
and not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State is hardly to
be realized in this world and quickly degenerates. To the perfect ideal
succeeds the government of the soldier and the lover of honour, this again
declining into democracy, and democracy into tyranny, in an imaginary but
regular order having not much resemblance to the actual facts. When 'the
wheel has come full circle' we do not begin again with a new period of
human life; but we have passed from the best to the worst, and there we
end. The subject is then changed and the old quarrel of poetry and
philosophy which had been more lightly treated in the earlier books of the
Republic is now resumed and fought out to a conclusion. Poetry is
discovered to be an imitation thrice removed from the truth, and Homer, as
well as the dramatic poets, having been condemned as an imitator, is sent
into banishment along with them. And the idea of the State is supplemented
by the revelation of a future life.

The division into books, like all similar divisions (Cp. Sir G.C. Lewis in
the Classical Museum.), is probably later than the age of Plato. The
natural divisions are five in number;--(1) Book I and the first half of
Book II down to the paragraph beginning, 'I had always admired the genius
of Glaucon and Adeimantus,' which is introductory; the first book
containing a refutation of the popular and sophistical notions of justice,
and concluding, like some of the earlier Dialogues, without arriving at any
definite result. To this is appended a restatement of the nature of
justice according to common opinion, and an answer is demanded to the
question--What is justice, stripped of appearances? The second division
(2) includes the remainder of the second and the whole of the third and
fourth books, which are mainly occupied with the construction of the first
State and the first education. The third division (3) consists of the
fifth, sixth, and seventh books, in which philosophy rather than justice is
the subject of enquiry, and the second State is constructed on principles
of communism and ruled by philosophers, and the contemplation of the idea
of good takes the place of the social and political virtues. In the eighth
and ninth books (4) the perversions of States and of the individuals who
correspond to them are reviewed in succession; and the nature of pleasure
and the principle of tyranny are further analysed in the individual man.
The tenth book (5) is the conclusion of the whole, in which the relations
of philosophy to poetry are finally determined, and the happiness of the
citizens in this life, which has now been assured, is crowned by the vision
of another.

Or a more general division into two parts may be adopted; the first (Books
I - IV) containing the description of a State framed generally in
accordance with Hellenic notions of religion and morality, while in the
second (Books V - X) the Hellenic State is transformed into an ideal
kingdom of philosophy, of which all other governments are the perversions.
These two points of view are really opposed, and the opposition is only
veiled by the genius of Plato. The Republic, like the Phaedrus (see
Introduction to Phaedrus), is an imperfect whole; the higher light of
philosophy breaks through the regularity of the Hellenic temple, which at
last fades away into the heavens. Whether this imperfection of structure
arises from an enlargement of the plan; or from the imperfect reconcilement
in the writer's own mind of the struggling elements of thought which are
now first brought together by him; or, perhaps, from the composition of the
work at different times--are questions, like the similar question about the
Iliad and the Odyssey, which are worth asking, but which cannot have a
distinct answer. In the age of Plato there was no regular mode of
publication, and an author would have the less scruple in altering or
adding to a work which was known only to a few of his friends. There is no
absurdity in supposing that he may have laid his labours aside for a time,
or turned from one work to another; and such interruptions would be more
likely to occur in the case of a long than of a short writing. In all
attempts to determine the chronological order of the Platonic writings on
internal evidence, this uncertainty about any single Dialogue being
composed at one time is a disturbing element, which must be admitted to
affect longer works, such as the Republic and the Laws, more than shorter
ones. But, on the other hand, the seeming discrepancies of the Republic
may only arise out of the discordant elements which the philosopher has
attempted to unite in a single whole, perhaps without being himself able to
recognise the inconsistency which is obvious to us. For there is a
judgment of after ages which few great writers have ever been able to
anticipate for themselves. They do not perceive the want of connexion in
their own writings, or the gaps in their systems which are visible enough
to those who come after them. In the beginnings of literature and
philosophy, amid the first efforts of thought and language, more
inconsistencies occur than now, when the paths of speculation are well worn
and the meaning of words precisely defined. For consistency, too, is the
growth of time; and some of the greatest creations of the human mind have
been wanting in unity. Tried by this test, several of the Platonic
Dialogues, according to our modern ideas, appear to be defective, but the
deficiency is no proof that they were composed at different times or by
different hands. And the supposition that the Republic was written
uninterruptedly and by a continuous effort is in some degree confirmed by
the numerous references from one part of the work to another.

The second title, 'Concerning Justice,' is not the one by which the
Republic is quoted, either by Aristotle or generally in antiquity, and,
like the other second titles of the Platonic Dialogues, may therefore be
assumed to be of later date. Morgenstern and others have asked whether the
definition of justice, which is the professed aim, or the construction of
the State is the principal argument of the work. The answer is, that the
two blend in one, and are two faces of the same truth; for justice is the
order of the State, and the State is the visible embodiment of justice
under the conditions of human society. The one is the soul and the other
is the body, and the Greek ideal of the State, as of the individual, is a
fair mind in a fair body. In Hegelian phraseology the state is the reality
of which justice is the idea. Or, described in Christian language, the
kingdom of God is within, and yet developes into a Church or external
kingdom; 'the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,' is
reduced to the proportions of an earthly building. Or, to use a Platonic
image, justice and the State are the warp and the woof which run through
the whole texture. And when the constitution of the State is completed,
the conception of justice is not dismissed, but reappears under the same or
different names throughout the work, both as the inner law of the
individual soul, and finally as the principle of rewards and punishments in
another life. The virtues are based on justice, of which common honesty in
buying and selling is the shadow, and justice is based on the idea of good,
which is the harmony of the world, and is reflected both in the
institutions of states and in motions of the heavenly bodies (cp. Tim.).
The Timaeus, which takes up the political rather than the ethical side of
the Republic, and is chiefly occupied with hypotheses concerning the
outward world, yet contains many indications that the same law is supposed
to reign over the State, over nature, and over man.

Too much, however, has been made of this question both in ancient and
modern times. There is a stage of criticism in which all works, whether of
nature or of art, are referred to design. Now in ancient writings, and
indeed in literature generally, there remains often a large element which
was not comprehended in the original design. For the plan grows under the
author's hand; new thoughts occur to him in the act of writing; he has not
worked out the argument to the end before he begins. The reader who seeks
to find some one idea under which the whole may be conceived, must
necessarily seize on the vaguest and most general. Thus Stallbaum, who is
dissatisfied with the ordinary explanations of the argument of the
Republic, imagines himself to have found the true argument 'in the
representation of human life in a State perfected by justice, and governed
according to the idea of good.' There may be some use in such general
descriptions, but they can hardly be said to express the design of the
writer. The truth is, that we may as well speak of many designs as of one;
nor need anything be excluded from the plan of a great work to which the
mind is naturally led by the association of ideas, and which does not
interfere with the general purpose. What kind or degree of unity is to be
sought after in a building, in the plastic arts, in poetry, in prose, is a
problem which has to be determined relatively to the subject-matter. To
Plato himself, the enquiry 'what was the intention of the writer,' or 'what
was the principal argument of the Republic' would have been hardly
intelligible, and therefore had better be at once dismissed (cp. the
Introduction to the Phaedrus).

Is not the Republic the vehicle of three or four great truths which, to
Plato's own mind, are most naturally represented in the form of the State?
Just as in the Jewish prophets the reign of Messiah, or 'the day of the
Lord,' or the suffering Servant or people of God, or the 'Sun of
righteousness with healing in his wings' only convey, to us at least, their
great spiritual ideals, so through the Greek State Plato reveals to us his
own thoughts about divine perfection, which is the idea of good--like the
sun in the visible world;--about human perfection, which is justice--about
education beginning in youth and continuing in later years--about poets and
sophists and tyrants who are the false teachers and evil rulers of mankind
--about 'the world' which is the embodiment of them--about a kingdom which
exists nowhere upon earth but is laid up in heaven to be the pattern and
rule of human life. No such inspired creation is at unity with itself, any
more than the clouds of heaven when the sun pierces through them. Every
shade of light and dark, of truth, and of fiction which is the veil of
truth, is allowable in a work of philosophical imagination. It is not all
on the same plane; it easily passes from ideas to myths and fancies, from
facts to figures of speech. It is not prose but poetry, at least a great
part of it, and ought not to be judged by the rules of logic or the
probabilities of history. The writer is not fashioning his ideas into an
artistic whole; they take possession of him and are too much for him. We
have no need therefore to discuss whether a State such as Plato has
conceived is practicable or not, or whether the outward form or the inward
life came first into the mind of the writer. For the practicability of his
ideas has nothing to do with their truth; and the highest thoughts to which
he attains may be truly said to bear the greatest 'marks of design'--
justice more than the external frame-work of the State, the idea of good
more than justice. The great science of dialectic or the organisation of
ideas has no real content; but is only a type of the method or spirit in
which the higher knowledge is to be pursued by the spectator of all time
and all existence. It is in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books that Plato
reaches the 'summit of speculation,' and these, although they fail to
satisfy the requirements of a modern thinker, may therefore be regarded as
the most important, as they are also the most original, portions of the

It is not necessary to discuss at length a minor question which has been
raised by Boeckh, respecting the imaginary date at which the conversation
was held (the year 411 B.C. which is proposed by him will do as well as any
other); for a writer of fiction, and especially a writer who, like Plato,
is notoriously careless of chronology (cp. Rep., Symp., etc.), only aims at
general probability. Whether all the persons mentioned in the Republic
could ever have met at any one time is not a difficulty which would have
occurred to an Athenian reading the work forty years later, or to Plato
himself at the time of writing (any more than to Shakespeare respecting one
of his own dramas); and need not greatly trouble us now. Yet this may be a
question having no answer 'which is still worth asking,' because the
investigation shows that we cannot argue historically from the dates in
Plato; it would be useless therefore to waste time in inventing far-fetched
reconcilements of them in order to avoid chronological difficulties, such,
for example, as the conjecture of C.F. Hermann, that Glaucon and Adeimantus
are not the brothers but the uncles of Plato (cp. Apol.), or the fancy of
Stallbaum that Plato intentionally left anachronisms indicating the dates
at which some of his Dialogues were written.

The principal characters in the Republic are Cephalus, Polemarchus,
Thrasymachus, Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Cephalus appears in the
introduction only, Polemarchus drops at the end of the first argument, and
Thrasymachus is reduced to silence at the close of the first book. The
main discussion is carried on by Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Among
the company are Lysias (the orator) and Euthydemus, the sons of Cephalus
and brothers of Polemarchus, an unknown Charmantides--these are mute
auditors; also there is Cleitophon, who once interrupts, where, as in the
Dialogue which bears his name, he appears as the friend and ally of

Cephalus, the patriarch of the house, has been appropriately engaged in
offering a sacrifice. He is the pattern of an old man who has almost done
with life, and is at peace with himself and with all mankind. He feels
that he is drawing nearer to the world below, and seems to linger around
the memory of the past. He is eager that Socrates should come to visit
him, fond of the poetry of the last generation, happy in the consciousness
of a well-spent life, glad at having escaped from the tyranny of youthful
lusts. His love of conversation, his affection, his indifference to
riches, even his garrulity, are interesting traits of character. He is not
one of those who have nothing to say, because their whole mind has been
absorbed in making money. Yet he acknowledges that riches have the
advantage of placing men above the temptation to dishonesty or falsehood.
The respectful attention shown to him by Socrates, whose love of
conversation, no less than the mission imposed upon him by the Oracle,
leads him to ask questions of all men, young and old alike, should also be
noted. Who better suited to raise the question of justice than Cephalus,
whose life might seem to be the expression of it? The moderation with
which old age is pictured by Cephalus as a very tolerable portion of
existence is characteristic, not only of him, but of Greek feeling
generally, and contrasts with the exaggeration of Cicero in the De
Senectute. The evening of life is described by Plato in the most
expressive manner, yet with the fewest possible touches. As Cicero remarks
(Ep. ad Attic.), the aged Cephalus would have been out of place in the
discussion which follows, and which he could neither have understood nor
taken part in without a violation of dramatic propriety (cp. Lysimachus in
the Laches).

His 'son and heir' Polemarchus has the frankness and impetuousness of
youth; he is for detaining Socrates by force in the opening scene, and will
not 'let him off' on the subject of women and children. Like Cephalus, he
is limited in his point of view, and represents the proverbial stage of
morality which has rules of life rather than principles; and he quotes
Simonides (cp. Aristoph. Clouds) as his father had quoted Pindar. But
after this he has no more to say; the answers which he makes are only
elicited from him by the dialectic of Socrates. He has not yet experienced
the influence of the Sophists like Glaucon and Adeimantus, nor is he
sensible of the necessity of refuting them; he belongs to the pre-Socratic
or pre-dialectical age. He is incapable of arguing, and is bewildered by
Socrates to such a degree that he does not know what he is saying. He is
made to admit that justice is a thief, and that the virtues follow the
analogy of the arts. From his brother Lysias (contra Eratosth.) we learn
that he fell a victim to the Thirty Tyrants, but no allusion is here made
to his fate, nor to the circumstance that Cephalus and his family were of
Syracusan origin, and had migrated from Thurii to Athens.

The 'Chalcedonian giant,' Thrasymachus, of whom we have already heard in
the Phaedrus, is the personification of the Sophists, according to Plato's
conception of them, in some of their worst characteristics. He is vain and
blustering, refusing to discourse unless he is paid, fond of making an
oration, and hoping thereby to escape the inevitable Socrates; but a mere
child in argument, and unable to foresee that the next 'move' (to use a
Platonic expression) will 'shut him up.' He has reached the stage of
framing general notions, and in this respect is in advance of Cephalus and
Polemarchus. But he is incapable of defending them in a discussion, and
vainly tries to cover his confusion with banter and insolence. Whether
such doctrines as are attributed to him by Plato were really held either by
him or by any other Sophist is uncertain; in the infancy of philosophy
serious errors about morality might easily grow up--they are certainly put
into the mouths of speakers in Thucydides; but we are concerned at present
with Plato's description of him, and not with the historical reality. The
inequality of the contest adds greatly to the humour of the scene. The
pompous and empty Sophist is utterly helpless in the hands of the great
master of dialectic, who knows how to touch all the springs of vanity and
weakness in him. He is greatly irritated by the irony of Socrates, but his
noisy and imbecile rage only lays him more and more open to the thrusts of
his assailant. His determination to cram down their throats, or put
'bodily into their souls' his own words, elicits a cry of horror from
Socrates. The state of his temper is quite as worthy of remark as the
process of the argument. Nothing is more amusing than his complete
submission when he has been once thoroughly beaten. At first he seems to
continue the discussion with reluctance, but soon with apparent good-will,
and he even testifies his interest at a later stage by one or two
occasional remarks. When attacked by Glaucon he is humorously protected by
Socrates 'as one who has never been his enemy and is now his friend.' From
Cicero and Quintilian and from Aristotle's Rhetoric we learn that the
Sophist whom Plato has made so ridiculous was a man of note whose writings
were preserved in later ages. The play on his name which was made by his
contemporary Herodicus (Aris. Rhet.), 'thou wast ever bold in battle,'
seems to show that the description of him is not devoid of verisimilitude.

When Thrasymachus has been silenced, the two principal respondents, Glaucon
and Adeimantus, appear on the scene: here, as in Greek tragedy (cp.
Introd. to Phaedo), three actors are introduced. At first sight the two
sons of Ariston may seem to wear a family likeness, like the two friends
Simmias and Cebes in the Phaedo. But on a nearer examination of them the
similarity vanishes, and they are seen to be distinct characters. Glaucon
is the impetuous youth who can 'just never have enough of fechting' (cp.
the character of him in Xen. Mem. iii. 6); the man of pleasure who is
acquainted with the mysteries of love; the 'juvenis qui gaudet canibus,'
and who improves the breed of animals; the lover of art and music who has
all the experiences of youthful life. He is full of quickness and
penetration, piercing easily below the clumsy platitudes of Thrasymachus to
the real difficulty; he turns out to the light the seamy side of human
life, and yet does not lose faith in the just and true. It is Glaucon who
seizes what may be termed the ludicrous relation of the philosopher to the
world, to whom a state of simplicity is 'a city of pigs,' who is always
prepared with a jest when the argument offers him an opportunity, and who
is ever ready to second the humour of Socrates and to appreciate the
ridiculous, whether in the connoisseurs of music, or in the lovers of
theatricals, or in the fantastic behaviour of the citizens of democracy.
His weaknesses are several times alluded to by Socrates, who, however, will
not allow him to be attacked by his brother Adeimantus. He is a soldier,
and, like Adeimantus, has been distinguished at the battle of Megara (anno
456?)...The character of Adeimantus is deeper and graver, and the
profounder objections are commonly put into his mouth. Glaucon is more
demonstrative, and generally opens the game. Adeimantus pursues the
argument further. Glaucon has more of the liveliness and quick sympathy of
youth; Adeimantus has the maturer judgment of a grown-up man of the world.
In the second book, when Glaucon insists that justice and injustice shall
be considered without regard to their consequences, Adeimantus remarks that
they are regarded by mankind in general only for the sake of their
consequences; and in a similar vein of reflection he urges at the beginning
of the fourth book that Socrates fails in making his citizens happy, and is
answered that happiness is not the first but the second thing, not the
direct aim but the indirect consequence of the good government of a State.
In the discussion about religion and mythology, Adeimantus is the
respondent, but Glaucon breaks in with a slight jest, and carries on the
conversation in a lighter tone about music and gymnastic to the end of the
book. It is Adeimantus again who volunteers the criticism of common sense
on the Socratic method of argument, and who refuses to let Socrates pass
lightly over the question of women and children. It is Adeimantus who is
the respondent in the more argumentative, as Glaucon in the lighter and
more imaginative portions of the Dialogue. For example, throughout the
greater part of the sixth book, the causes of the corruption of philosophy
and the conception of the idea of good are discussed with Adeimantus.
Glaucon resumes his place of principal respondent; but he has a difficulty
in apprehending the higher education of Socrates, and makes some false hits
in the course of the discussion. Once more Adeimantus returns with the
allusion to his brother Glaucon whom he compares to the contentious State;
in the next book he is again superseded, and Glaucon continues to the end.

Thus in a succession of characters Plato represents the successive stages
of morality, beginning with the Athenian gentleman of the olden time, who
is followed by the practical man of that day regulating his life by
proverbs and saws; to him succeeds the wild generalization of the Sophists,
and lastly come the young disciples of the great teacher, who know the
sophistical arguments but will not be convinced by them, and desire to go
deeper into the nature of things. These too, like Cephalus, Polemarchus,
Thrasymachus, are clearly distinguished from one another. Neither in the
Republic, nor in any other Dialogue of Plato, is a single character

The delineation of Socrates in the Republic is not wholly consistent. In
the first book we have more of the real Socrates, such as he is depicted in
the Memorabilia of Xenophon, in the earliest Dialogues of Plato, and in the
Apology. He is ironical, provoking, questioning, the old enemy of the
Sophists, ready to put on the mask of Silenus as well as to argue
seriously. But in the sixth book his enmity towards the Sophists abates;
he acknowledges that they are the representatives rather than the
corrupters of the world. He also becomes more dogmatic and constructive,
passing beyond the range either of the political or the speculative ideas
of the real Socrates. In one passage Plato himself seems to intimate that
the time had now come for Socrates, who had passed his whole life in
philosophy, to give his own opinion and not to be always repeating the
notions of other men. There is no evidence that either the idea of good or
the conception of a perfect state were comprehended in the Socratic
teaching, though he certainly dwelt on the nature of the universal and of
final causes (cp. Xen. Mem.; Phaedo); and a deep thinker like him, in his
thirty or forty years of public teaching, could hardly have failed to touch
on the nature of family relations, for which there is also some positive
evidence in the Memorabilia (Mem.) The Socratic method is nominally
retained; and every inference is either put into the mouth of the
respondent or represented as the common discovery of him and Socrates. But
any one can see that this is a mere form, of which the affectation grows
wearisome as the work advances. The method of enquiry has passed into a
method of teaching in which by the help of interlocutors the same thesis is
looked at from various points of view. The nature of the process is truly
characterized by Glaucon, when he describes himself as a companion who is
not good for much in an investigation, but can see what he is shown, and
may, perhaps, give the answer to a question more fluently than another.

Neither can we be absolutely certain that Socrates himself taught the
immortality of the soul, which is unknown to his disciple Glaucon in the
Republic (cp. Apol.); nor is there any reason to suppose that he used myths
or revelations of another world as a vehicle of instruction, or that he
would have banished poetry or have denounced the Greek mythology. His
favorite oath is retained, and a slight mention is made of the daemonium,
or internal sign, which is alluded to by Socrates as a phenomenon peculiar
to himself. A real element of Socratic teaching, which is more prominent
in the Republic than in any of the other Dialogues of Plato, is the use of
example and illustration (Greek): 'Let us apply the test of common
instances.' 'You,' says Adeimantus, ironically, in the sixth book, 'are so
unaccustomed to speak in images.' And this use of examples or images,
though truly Socratic in origin, is enlarged by the genius of Plato into
the form of an allegory or parable, which embodies in the concrete what has
been already described, or is about to be described, in the abstract. Thus
the figure of the cave in Book VII is a recapitulation of the divisions of
knowledge in Book VI. The composite animal in Book IX is an allegory of
the parts of the soul. The noble captain and the ship and the true pilot
in Book VI are a figure of the relation of the people to the philosophers
in the State which has been described. Other figures, such as the dog, or
the marriage of the portionless maiden, or the drones and wasps in the
eighth and ninth books, also form links of connexion in long passages, or
are used to recall previous discussions.

Plato is most true to the character of his master when he describes him as
'not of this world.' And with this representation of him the ideal state
and the other paradoxes of the Republic are quite in accordance, though
they cannot be shown to have been speculations of Socrates. To him, as to
other great teachers both philosophical and religious, when they looked
upward, the world seemed to be the embodiment of error and evil. The
common sense of mankind has revolted against this view, or has only
partially admitted it. And even in Socrates himself the sterner judgement
of the multitude at times passes into a sort of ironical pity or love. Men
in general are incapable of philosophy, and are therefore at enmity with
the philosopher; but their misunderstanding of him is unavoidable: for
they have never seen him as he truly is in his own image; they are only
acquainted with artificial systems possessing no native force of truth--
words which admit of many applications. Their leaders have nothing to
measure with, and are therefore ignorant of their own stature. But they
are to be pitied or laughed at, not to be quarrelled with; they mean well
with their nostrums, if they could only learn that they are cutting off a
Hydra's head. This moderation towards those who are in error is one of the
most characteristic features of Socrates in the Republic. In all the
different representations of Socrates, whether of Xenophon or Plato, and
amid the differences of the earlier or later Dialogues, he always retains
the character of the unwearied and disinterested seeker after truth,
without which he would have ceased to be Socrates.

Leaving the characters we may now analyse the contents of the Republic, and
then proceed to consider (1) The general aspects of this Hellenic ideal of
the State, (2) The modern lights in which the thoughts of Plato may be

BOOK I. The Republic opens with a truly Greek scene--a festival in honour
of the goddess Bendis which is held in the Piraeus; to this is added the
promise of an equestrian torch-race in the evening. The whole work is
supposed to be recited by Socrates on the day after the festival to a small
party, consisting of Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates, and another; this we
learn from the first words of the Timaeus.

When the rhetorical advantage of reciting the Dialogue has been gained, the
attention is not distracted by any reference to the audience; nor is the
reader further reminded of the extraordinary length of the narrative. Of
the numerous company, three only take any serious part in the discussion;
nor are we informed whether in the evening they went to the torch-race, or
talked, as in the Symposium, through the night. The manner in which the
conversation has arisen is described as follows:--Socrates and his
companion Glaucon are about to leave the festival when they are detained by
a message from Polemarchus, who speedily appears accompanied by Adeimantus,
the brother of Glaucon, and with playful violence compels them to remain,
promising them not only the torch-race, but the pleasure of conversation
with the young, which to Socrates is a far greater attraction. They return
to the house of Cephalus, Polemarchus' father, now in extreme old age, who
is found sitting upon a cushioned seat crowned for a sacrifice. 'You
should come to me oftener, Socrates, for I am too old to go to you; and at
my time of life, having lost other pleasures, I care the more for
conversation.' Socrates asks him what he thinks of age, to which the old
man replies, that the sorrows and discontents of age are to be attributed
to the tempers of men, and that age is a time of peace in which the tyranny
of the passions is no longer felt. Yes, replies Socrates, but the world
will say, Cephalus, that you are happy in old age because you are rich.
'And there is something in what they say, Socrates, but not so much as they
imagine--as Themistocles replied to the Seriphian, "Neither you, if you had
been an Athenian, nor I, if I had been a Seriphian, would ever have been
famous," I might in like manner reply to you, Neither a good poor man can
be happy in age, nor yet a bad rich man.' Socrates remarks that Cephalus
appears not to care about riches, a quality which he ascribes to his having
inherited, not acquired them, and would like to know what he considers to
be the chief advantage of them. Cephalus answers that when you are old the
belief in the world below grows upon you, and then to have done justice and
never to have been compelled to do injustice through poverty, and never to
have deceived anyone, are felt to be unspeakable blessings. Socrates, who
is evidently preparing for an argument, next asks, What is the meaning of
the word justice? To tell the truth and pay your debts? No more than
this? Or must we admit exceptions? Ought I, for example, to put back into
the hands of my friend, who has gone mad, the sword which I borrowed of him
when he was in his right mind? 'There must be exceptions.' 'And yet,'
says Polemarchus, 'the definition which has been given has the authority of
Simonides.' Here Cephalus retires to look after the sacrifices, and
bequeaths, as Socrates facetiously remarks, the possession of the argument
to his heir, Polemarchus...

The description of old age is finished, and Plato, as his manner is, has
touched the key-note of the whole work in asking for the definition of
justice, first suggesting the question which Glaucon afterwards pursues
respecting external goods, and preparing for the concluding mythus of the
world below in the slight allusion of Cephalus. The portrait of the just
man is a natural frontispiece or introduction to the long discourse which
follows, and may perhaps imply that in all our perplexity about the nature
of justice, there is no difficulty in discerning 'who is a just man.' The
first explanation has been supported by a saying of Simonides; and now
Socrates has a mind to show that the resolution of justice into two
unconnected precepts, which have no common principle, fails to satisfy the
demands of dialectic.

...He proceeds: What did Simonides mean by this saying of his? Did he
mean that I was to give back arms to a madman? 'No, not in that case, not
if the parties are friends, and evil would result. He meant that you were
to do what was proper, good to friends and harm to enemies.' Every act
does something to somebody; and following this analogy, Socrates asks, What
is this due and proper thing which justice does, and to whom? He is
answered that justice does good to friends and harm to enemies. But in
what way good or harm? 'In making alliances with the one, and going to war
with the other.' Then in time of peace what is the good of justice? The
answer is that justice is of use in contracts, and contracts are money
partnerships. Yes; but how in such partnerships is the just man of more
use than any other man? 'When you want to have money safely kept and not
used.' Then justice will be useful when money is useless. And there is
another difficulty: justice, like the art of war or any other art, must be
of opposites, good at attack as well as at defence, at stealing as well as
at guarding. But then justice is a thief, though a hero notwithstanding,
like Autolycus, the Homeric hero, who was 'excellent above all men in theft
and perjury'--to such a pass have you and Homer and Simonides brought us;
though I do not forget that the thieving must be for the good of friends
and the harm of enemies. And still there arises another question: Are
friends to be interpreted as real or seeming; enemies as real or seeming?
And are our friends to be only the good, and our enemies to be the evil?
The answer is, that we must do good to our seeming and real good friends,
and evil to our seeming and real evil enemies--good to the good, evil to
the evil. But ought we to render evil for evil at all, when to do so will
only make men more evil? Can justice produce injustice any more than the
art of horsemanship can make bad horsemen, or heat produce cold? The final
conclusion is, that no sage or poet ever said that the just return evil for
evil; this was a maxim of some rich and mighty man, Periander, Perdiccas,
or Ismenias the Theban (about B.C. 398-381)...

Thus the first stage of aphoristic or unconscious morality is shown to be
inadequate to the wants of the age; the authority of the poets is set
aside, and through the winding mazes of dialectic we make an approach to
the Christian precept of forgiveness of injuries. Similar words are
applied by the Persian mystic poet to the Divine being when the questioning
spirit is stirred within him:--'If because I do evil, Thou punishest me by
evil, what is the difference between Thee and me?' In this both Plato and
Kheyam rise above the level of many Christian (?) theologians. The first
definition of justice easily passes into the second; for the simple words
'to speak the truth and pay your debts' is substituted the more abstract
'to do good to your friends and harm to your enemies.' Either of these
explanations gives a sufficient rule of life for plain men, but they both
fall short of the precision of philosophy. We may note in passing the
antiquity of casuistry, which not only arises out of the conflict of
established principles in particular cases, but also out of the effort to
attain them, and is prior as well as posterior to our fundamental notions
of morality. The 'interrogation' of moral ideas; the appeal to the
authority of Homer; the conclusion that the maxim, 'Do good to your friends
and harm to your enemies,' being erroneous, could not have been the word of
any great man, are all of them very characteristic of the Platonic

...Here Thrasymachus, who has made several attempts to interrupt, but has
hitherto been kept in order by the company, takes advantage of a pause and
rushes into the arena, beginning, like a savage animal, with a roar.
'Socrates,' he says, 'what folly is this?--Why do you agree to be
vanquished by one another in a pretended argument?' He then prohibits all
the ordinary definitions of justice; to which Socrates replies that he
cannot tell how many twelve is, if he is forbidden to say 2 x 6, or 3 x 4,
or 6 x 2, or 4 x 3. At first Thrasymachus is reluctant to argue; but at
length, with a promise of payment on the part of the company and of praise
from Socrates, he is induced to open the game. 'Listen,' he says, 'my
answer is that might is right, justice the interest of the stronger: now
praise me.' Let me understand you first. Do you mean that because
Polydamas the wrestler, who is stronger than we are, finds the eating of
beef for his interest, the eating of beef is also for our interest, who are
not so strong? Thrasymachus is indignant at the illustration, and in
pompous words, apparently intended to restore dignity to the argument, he
explains his meaning to be that the rulers make laws for their own
interests. But suppose, says Socrates, that the ruler or stronger makes a
mistake--then the interest of the stronger is not his interest.
Thrasymachus is saved from this speedy downfall by his disciple Cleitophon,
who introduces the word 'thinks;'--not the actual interest of the ruler,
but what he thinks or what seems to be his interest, is justice. The
contradiction is escaped by the unmeaning evasion: for though his real and
apparent interests may differ, what the ruler thinks to be his interest
will always remain what he thinks to be his interest.

Of course this was not the original assertion, nor is the new
interpretation accepted by Thrasymachus himself. But Socrates is not
disposed to quarrel about words, if, as he significantly insinuates, his
adversary has changed his mind. In what follows Thrasymachus does in fact
withdraw his admission that the ruler may make a mistake, for he affirms
that the ruler as a ruler is infallible. Socrates is quite ready to accept
the new position, which he equally turns against Thrasymachus by the help
of the analogy of the arts. Every art or science has an interest, but this
interest is to be distinguished from the accidental interest of the artist,
and is only concerned with the good of the things or persons which come
under the art. And justice has an interest which is the interest not of
the ruler or judge, but of those who come under his sway.

Thrasymachus is on the brink of the inevitable conclusion, when he makes a
bold diversion. 'Tell me, Socrates,' he says, 'have you a nurse?' What a
question! Why do you ask? 'Because, if you have, she neglects you and
lets you go about drivelling, and has not even taught you to know the
shepherd from the sheep. For you fancy that shepherds and rulers never
think of their own interest, but only of their sheep or subjects, whereas
the truth is that they fatten them for their use, sheep and subjects alike.
And experience proves that in every relation of life the just man is the
loser and the unjust the gainer, especially where injustice is on the grand
scale, which is quite another thing from the petty rogueries of swindlers
and burglars and robbers of temples. The language of men proves this--our
'gracious' and 'blessed' tyrant and the like--all which tends to show (1)
that justice is the interest of the stronger; and (2) that injustice is
more profitable and also stronger than justice.'

Thrasymachus, who is better at a speech than at a close argument, having
deluged the company with words, has a mind to escape. But the others will
not let him go, and Socrates adds a humble but earnest request that he will
not desert them at such a crisis of their fate. 'And what can I do more
for you?' he says; 'would you have me put the words bodily into your
souls?' God forbid! replies Socrates; but we want you to be consistent in
the use of terms, and not to employ 'physician' in an exact sense, and then
again 'shepherd' or 'ruler' in an inexact,--if the words are strictly
taken, the ruler and the shepherd look only to the good of their people or
flocks and not to their own: whereas you insist that rulers are solely
actuated by love of office. 'No doubt about it,' replies Thrasymachus.
Then why are they paid? Is not the reason, that their interest is not
comprehended in their art, and is therefore the concern of another art, the
art of pay, which is common to the arts in general, and therefore not
identical with any one of them? Nor would any man be a ruler unless he
were induced by the hope of reward or the fear of punishment;--the reward
is money or honour, the punishment is the necessity of being ruled by a man
worse than himself. And if a State (or Church) were composed entirely of
good men, they would be affected by the last motive only; and there would
be as much 'nolo episcopari' as there is at present of the opposite...

The satire on existing governments is heightened by the simple and
apparently incidental manner in which the last remark is introduced. There
is a similar irony in the argument that the governors of mankind do not
like being in office, and that therefore they demand pay.

...Enough of this: the other assertion of Thrasymachus is far more
important--that the unjust life is more gainful than the just. Now, as you
and I, Glaucon, are not convinced by him, we must reply to him; but if we
try to compare their respective gains we shall want a judge to decide for
us; we had better therefore proceed by making mutual admissions of the
truth to one another.

Thrasymachus had asserted that perfect injustice was more gainful than
perfect justice, and after a little hesitation he is induced by Socrates to
admit the still greater paradox that injustice is virtue and justice vice.
Socrates praises his frankness, and assumes the attitude of one whose only
wish is to understand the meaning of his opponents. At the same time he is
weaving a net in which Thrasymachus is finally enclosed. The admission is
elicited from him that the just man seeks to gain an advantage over the
unjust only, but not over the just, while the unjust would gain an
advantage over either. Socrates, in order to test this statement, employs
once more the favourite analogy of the arts. The musician, doctor, skilled
artist of any sort, does not seek to gain more than the skilled, but only
more than the unskilled (that is to say, he works up to a rule, standard,
law, and does not exceed it), whereas the unskilled makes random efforts at
excess. Thus the skilled falls on the side of the good, and the unskilled
on the side of the evil, and the just is the skilled, and the unjust is the

There was great difficulty in bringing Thrasymachus to the point; the day
was hot and he was streaming with perspiration, and for the first time in
his life he was seen to blush. But his other thesis that injustice was
stronger than justice has not yet been refuted, and Socrates now proceeds
to the consideration of this, which, with the assistance of Thrasymachus,
he hopes to clear up; the latter is at first churlish, but in the judicious
hands of Socrates is soon restored to good-humour: Is there not honour
among thieves? Is not the strength of injustice only a remnant of justice?
Is not absolute injustice absolute weakness also? A house that is divided
against itself cannot stand; two men who quarrel detract from one another's
strength, and he who is at war with himself is the enemy of himself and the
gods. Not wickedness therefore, but semi-wickedness flourishes in states,
--a remnant of good is needed in order to make union in action possible,--
there is no kingdom of evil in this world.

Another question has not been answered: Is the just or the unjust the
happier? To this we reply, that every art has an end and an excellence or
virtue by which the end is accomplished. And is not the end of the soul
happiness, and justice the excellence of the soul by which happiness is
attained? Justice and happiness being thus shown to be inseparable, the
question whether the just or the unjust is the happier has disappeared.

Thrasymachus replies: 'Let this be your entertainment, Socrates, at the
festival of Bendis.' Yes; and a very good entertainment with which your
kindness has supplied me, now that you have left off scolding. And yet not
a good entertainment--but that was my own fault, for I tasted of too many
things. First of all the nature of justice was the subject of our enquiry,
and then whether justice is virtue and wisdom, or evil and folly; and then
the comparative advantages of just and unjust: and the sum of all is that
I know not what justice is; how then shall I know whether the just is happy
or not?...

Thus the sophistical fabric has been demolished, chiefly by appealing to
the analogy of the arts. 'Justice is like the arts (1) in having no
external interest, and (2) in not aiming at excess, and (3) justice is to
happiness what the implement of the workman is to his work.' At this the
modern reader is apt to stumble, because he forgets that Plato is writing
in an age when the arts and the virtues, like the moral and intellectual
faculties, were still undistinguished. Among early enquirers into the
nature of human action the arts helped to fill up the void of speculation;
and at first the comparison of the arts and the virtues was not perceived
by them to be fallacious. They only saw the points of agreement in them
and not the points of difference. Virtue, like art, must take means to an
end; good manners are both an art and a virtue; character is naturally
described under the image of a statue; and there are many other figures of
speech which are readily transferred from art to morals. The next
generation cleared up these perplexities; or at least supplied after ages
with a further analysis of them. The contemporaries of Plato were in a
state of transition, and had not yet fully realized the common-sense
distinction of Aristotle, that 'virtue is concerned with action, art with
production' (Nic. Eth.), or that 'virtue implies intention and constancy of
purpose,' whereas 'art requires knowledge only'. And yet in the
absurdities which follow from some uses of the analogy, there seems to be
an intimation conveyed that virtue is more than art. This is implied in
the reductio ad absurdum that 'justice is a thief,' and in the
dissatisfaction which Socrates expresses at the final result.

The expression 'an art of pay' which is described as 'common to all the
arts' is not in accordance with the ordinary use of language. Nor is it
employed elsewhere either by Plato or by any other Greek writer. It is
suggested by the argument, and seems to extend the conception of art to
doing as well as making. Another flaw or inaccuracy of language may be
noted in the words 'men who are injured are made more unjust.' For those
who are injured are not necessarily made worse, but only harmed or ill-

The second of the three arguments, 'that the just does not aim at excess,'
has a real meaning, though wrapped up in an enigmatical form. That the
good is of the nature of the finite is a peculiarly Hellenic sentiment,
which may be compared with the language of those modern writers who speak
of virtue as fitness, and of freedom as obedience to law. The mathematical
or logical notion of limit easily passes into an ethical one, and even
finds a mythological expression in the conception of envy (Greek). Ideas
of measure, equality, order, unity, proportion, still linger in the
writings of moralists; and the true spirit of the fine arts is better
conveyed by such terms than by superlatives.

'When workmen strive to do better than well,
They do confound their skill in covetousness.' (King John.)

The harmony of the soul and body, and of the parts of the soul with one
another, a harmony 'fairer than that of musical notes,' is the true
Hellenic mode of conceiving the perfection of human nature.

In what may be called the epilogue of the discussion with Thrasymachus,
Plato argues that evil is not a principle of strength, but of discord and
dissolution, just touching the question which has been often treated in
modern times by theologians and philosophers, of the negative nature of
evil. In the last argument we trace the germ of the Aristotelian doctrine
of an end and a virtue directed towards the end, which again is suggested
by the arts. The final reconcilement of justice and happiness and the
identity of the individual and the State are also intimated. Socrates
reassumes the character of a 'know-nothing;' at the same time he appears to
be not wholly satisfied with the manner in which the argument has been
conducted. Nothing is concluded; but the tendency of the dialectical
process, here as always, is to enlarge our conception of ideas, and to
widen their application to human life.

BOOK II. Thrasymachus is pacified, but the intrepid Glaucon insists on
continuing the argument. He is not satisfied with the indirect manner in
which, at the end of the last book, Socrates had disposed of the question
'Whether the just or the unjust is the happier.' He begins by dividing
goods into three classes:--first, goods desirable in themselves; secondly,
goods desirable in themselves and for their results; thirdly, goods
desirable for their results only. He then asks Socrates in which of the
three classes he would place justice. In the second class, replies
Socrates, among goods desirable for themselves and also for their results.
'Then the world in general are of another mind, for they say that justice
belongs to the troublesome class of goods which are desirable for their
results only. Socrates answers that this is the doctrine of Thrasymachus
which he rejects. Glaucon thinks that Thrasymachus was too ready to listen
to the voice of the charmer, and proposes to consider the nature of justice
and injustice in themselves and apart from the results and rewards of them
which the world is always dinning in his ears. He will first of all speak
of the nature and origin of justice; secondly, of the manner in which men
view justice as a necessity and not a good; and thirdly, he will prove the
reasonableness of this view.

'To do injustice is said to be a good; to suffer injustice an evil. As the
evil is discovered by experience to be greater than the good, the
sufferers, who cannot also be doers, make a compact that they will have
neither, and this compact or mean is called justice, but is really the
impossibility of doing injustice. No one would observe such a compact if
he were not obliged. Let us suppose that the just and unjust have two
rings, like that of Gyges in the well-known story, which make them
invisible, and then no difference will appear in them, for every one will
do evil if he can. And he who abstains will be regarded by the world as a
fool for his pains. Men may praise him in public out of fear for
themselves, but they will laugh at him in their hearts (Cp. Gorgias.)

'And now let us frame an ideal of the just and unjust. Imagine the unjust
man to be master of his craft, seldom making mistakes and easily correcting
them; having gifts of money, speech, strength--the greatest villain bearing
the highest character: and at his side let us place the just in his
nobleness and simplicity--being, not seeming--without name or reward--
clothed in his justice only--the best of men who is thought to be the
worst, and let him die as he has lived. I might add (but I would rather
put the rest into the mouth of the panegyrists of injustice--they will tell
you) that the just man will be scourged, racked, bound, will have his eyes
put out, and will at last be crucified (literally impaled)--and all this
because he ought to have preferred seeming to being. How different is the
case of the unjust who clings to appearance as the true reality! His high
character makes him a ruler; he can marry where he likes, trade where he
likes, help his friends and hurt his enemies; having got rich by dishonesty
he can worship the gods better, and will therefore be more loved by them
than the just.'

I was thinking what to answer, when Adeimantus joined in the already
unequal fray. He considered that the most important point of all had been
omitted:--'Men are taught to be just for the sake of rewards; parents and
guardians make reputation the incentive to virtue. And other advantages
are promised by them of a more solid kind, such as wealthy marriages and
high offices. There are the pictures in Homer and Hesiod of fat sheep and
heavy fleeces, rich corn-fields and trees toppling with fruit, which the
gods provide in this life for the just. And the Orphic poets add a similar
picture of another. The heroes of Musaeus and Eumolpus lie on couches at a
festival, with garlands on their heads, enjoying as the meed of virtue a
paradise of immortal drunkenness. Some go further, and speak of a fair
posterity in the third and fourth generation. But the wicked they bury in
a slough and make them carry water in a sieve: and in this life they
attribute to them the infamy which Glaucon was assuming to be the lot of
the just who are supposed to be unjust.

'Take another kind of argument which is found both in poetry and prose:--
"Virtue," as Hesiod says, "is honourable but difficult, vice is easy and
profitable." You may often see the wicked in great prosperity and the
righteous afflicted by the will of heaven. And mendicant prophets knock at
rich men's doors, promising to atone for the sins of themselves or their
fathers in an easy fashion with sacrifices and festive games, or with
charms and invocations to get rid of an enemy good or bad by divine help
and at a small charge;--they appeal to books professing to be written by
Musaeus and Orpheus, and carry away the minds of whole cities, and promise
to "get souls out of purgatory;" and if we refuse to listen to them, no one
knows what will happen to us.

'When a lively-minded ingenuous youth hears all this, what will be his
conclusion? "Will he," in the language of Pindar, "make justice his high
tower, or fortify himself with crooked deceit?" Justice, he reflects,
without the appearance of justice, is misery and ruin; injustice has the
promise of a glorious life. Appearance is master of truth and lord of
happiness. To appearance then I will turn,--I will put on the show of
virtue and trail behind me the fox of Archilochus. I hear some one saying
that "wickedness is not easily concealed," to which I reply that "nothing
great is easy." Union and force and rhetoric will do much; and if men say
that they cannot prevail over the gods, still how do we know that there are
gods? Only from the poets, who acknowledge that they may be appeased by
sacrifices. Then why not sin and pay for indulgences out of your sin? For
if the righteous are only unpunished, still they have no further reward,
while the wicked may be unpunished and have the pleasure of sinning too.
But what of the world below? Nay, says the argument, there are atoning
powers who will set that matter right, as the poets, who are the sons of
the gods, tell us; and this is confirmed by the authority of the State.

'How can we resist such arguments in favour of injustice? Add good
manners, and, as the wise tell us, we shall make the best of both worlds.
Who that is not a miserable caitiff will refrain from smiling at the
praises of justice? Even if a man knows the better part he will not be
angry with others; for he knows also that more than human virtue is needed
to save a man, and that he only praises justice who is incapable of

'The origin of the evil is that all men from the beginning, heroes, poets,
instructors of youth, have always asserted "the temporal dispensation," the
honours and profits of justice. Had we been taught in early youth the
power of justice and injustice inherent in the soul, and unseen by any
human or divine eye, we should not have needed others to be our guardians,
but every one would have been the guardian of himself. This is what I want
you to show, Socrates;--other men use arguments which rather tend to
strengthen the position of Thrasymachus that "might is right;" but from you
I expect better things. And please, as Glaucon said, to exclude
reputation; let the just be thought unjust and the unjust just, and do you
still prove to us the superiority of justice'...

The thesis, which for the sake of argument has been maintained by Glaucon,
is the converse of that of Thrasymachus--not right is the interest of the
stronger, but right is the necessity of the weaker. Starting from the same
premises he carries the analysis of society a step further back;--might is
still right, but the might is the weakness of the many combined against the
strength of the few.

There have been theories in modern as well as in ancient times which have a
family likeness to the speculations of Glaucon; e.g. that power is the
foundation of right; or that a monarch has a divine right to govern well or
ill; or that virtue is self-love or the love of power; or that war is the
natural state of man; or that private vices are public benefits. All such
theories have a kind of plausibility from their partial agreement with
experience. For human nature oscillates between good and evil, and the
motives of actions and the origin of institutions may be explained to a
certain extent on either hypothesis according to the character or point of
view of a particular thinker. The obligation of maintaining authority
under all circumstances and sometimes by rather questionable means is felt
strongly and has become a sort of instinct among civilized men. The divine
right of kings, or more generally of governments, is one of the forms under
which this natural feeling is expressed. Nor again is there any evil which
has not some accompaniment of good or pleasure; nor any good which is free
from some alloy of evil; nor any noble or generous thought which may not be
attended by a shadow or the ghost of a shadow of self-interest or of self-
love. We know that all human actions are imperfect; but we do not
therefore attribute them to the worse rather than to the better motive or
principle. Such a philosophy is both foolish and false, like that opinion
of the clever rogue who assumes all other men to be like himself. And
theories of this sort do not represent the real nature of the State, which
is based on a vague sense of right gradually corrected and enlarged by
custom and law (although capable also of perversion), any more than they
describe the origin of society, which is to be sought in the family and in
the social and religious feelings of man. Nor do they represent the
average character of individuals, which cannot be explained simply on a
theory of evil, but has always a counteracting element of good. And as men
become better such theories appear more and more untruthful to them,
because they are more conscious of their own disinterestedness. A little
experience may make a man a cynic; a great deal will bring him back to a
truer and kindlier view of the mixed nature of himself and his fellow men.

The two brothers ask Socrates to prove to them that the just is happy when
they have taken from him all that in which happiness is ordinarily supposed
to consist. Not that there is (1) any absurdity in the attempt to frame a
notion of justice apart from circumstances. For the ideal must always be a
paradox when compared with the ordinary conditions of human life. Neither
the Stoical ideal nor the Christian ideal is true as a fact, but they may
serve as a basis of education, and may exercise an ennobling influence. An
ideal is none the worse because 'some one has made the discovery' that no
such ideal was ever realized. And in a few exceptional individuals who are
raised above the ordinary level of humanity, the ideal of happiness may be
realized in death and misery. This may be the state which the reason
deliberately approves, and which the utilitarian as well as every other
moralist may be bound in certain cases to prefer.

Nor again, (2) must we forget that Plato, though he agrees generally with
the view implied in the argument of the two brothers, is not expressing his
own final conclusion, but rather seeking to dramatize one of the aspects of
ethical truth. He is developing his idea gradually in a series of
positions or situations. He is exhibiting Socrates for the first time
undergoing the Socratic interrogation. Lastly, (3) the word 'happiness'
involves some degree of confusion because associated in the language of
modern philosophy with conscious pleasure or satisfaction, which was not
equally present to his mind.

Glaucon has been drawing a picture of the misery of the just and the
happiness of the unjust, to which the misery of the tyrant in Book IX is
the answer and parallel. And still the unjust must appear just; that is
'the homage which vice pays to virtue.' But now Adeimantus, taking up the
hint which had been already given by Glaucon, proceeds to show that in the
opinion of mankind justice is regarded only for the sake of rewards and
reputation, and points out the advantage which is given to such arguments
as those of Thrasymachus and Glaucon by the conventional morality of
mankind. He seems to feel the difficulty of 'justifying the ways of God to
man.' Both the brothers touch upon the question, whether the morality of
actions is determined by their consequences; and both of them go beyond the
position of Socrates, that justice belongs to the class of goods not
desirable for themselves only, but desirable for themselves and for their
results, to which he recalls them. In their attempt to view justice as an
internal principle, and in their condemnation of the poets, they anticipate
him. The common life of Greece is not enough for them; they must penetrate
deeper into the nature of things.

It has been objected that justice is honesty in the sense of Glaucon and
Adeimantus, but is taken by Socrates to mean all virtue. May we not more
truly say that the old-fashioned notion of justice is enlarged by Socrates,
and becomes equivalent to universal order or well-being, first in the
State, and secondly in the individual? He has found a new answer to his
old question (Protag.), 'whether the virtues are one or many,' viz. that
one is the ordering principle of the three others. In seeking to establish
the purely internal nature of justice, he is met by the fact that man is a
social being, and he tries to harmonise the two opposite theses as well as
he can. There is no more inconsistency in this than was inevitable in his
age and country; there is no use in turning upon him the cross lights of
modern philosophy, which, from some other point of view, would appear
equally inconsistent. Plato does not give the final solution of
philosophical questions for us; nor can he be judged of by our standard.

The remainder of the Republic is developed out of the question of the sons
of Ariston. Three points are deserving of remark in what immediately
follows:--First, that the answer of Socrates is altogether indirect. He
does not say that happiness consists in the contemplation of the idea of
justice, and still less will he be tempted to affirm the Stoical paradox
that the just man can be happy on the rack. But first he dwells on the
difficulty of the problem and insists on restoring man to his natural
condition, before he will answer the question at all. He too will frame an
ideal, but his ideal comprehends not only abstract justice, but the whole
relations of man. Under the fanciful illustration of the large letters he
implies that he will only look for justice in society, and that from the
State he will proceed to the individual. His answer in substance amounts
to this,--that under favourable conditions, i.e. in the perfect State,
justice and happiness will coincide, and that when justice has been once
found, happiness may be left to take care of itself. That he falls into
some degree of inconsistency, when in the tenth book he claims to have got
rid of the rewards and honours of justice, may be admitted; for he has left
those which exist in the perfect State. And the philosopher 'who retires
under the shelter of a wall' can hardly have been esteemed happy by him, at
least not in this world. Still he maintains the true attitude of moral
action. Let a man do his duty first, without asking whether he will be
happy or not, and happiness will be the inseparable accident which attends
him. 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all
these things shall be added unto you.'

Secondly, it may be remarked that Plato preserves the genuine character of
Greek thought in beginning with the State and in going on to the
individual. First ethics, then politics--this is the order of ideas to us;
the reverse is the order of history. Only after many struggles of thought
does the individual assert his right as a moral being. In early ages he is
not ONE, but one of many, the citizen of a State which is prior to him; and
he has no notion of good or evil apart from the law of his country or the
creed of his church. And to this type he is constantly tending to revert,
whenever the influence of custom, or of party spirit, or the recollection
of the past becomes too strong for him.

Thirdly, we may observe the confusion or identification of the individual
and the State, of ethics and politics, which pervades early Greek
speculation, and even in modern times retains a certain degree of
influence. The subtle difference between the collective and individual
action of mankind seems to have escaped early thinkers, and we too are
sometimes in danger of forgetting the conditions of united human action,
whenever we either elevate politics into ethics, or lower ethics to the
standard of politics. The good man and the good citizen only coincide in
the perfect State; and this perfection cannot be attained by legislation
acting upon them from without, but, if at all, by education fashioning them
from within.

...Socrates praises the sons of Ariston, 'inspired offspring of the
renowned hero,' as the elegiac poet terms them; but he does not understand
how they can argue so eloquently on behalf of injustice while their
character shows that they are uninfluenced by their own arguments. He
knows not how to answer them, although he is afraid of deserting justice in
the hour of need. He therefore makes a condition, that having weak eyes he
shall be allowed to read the large letters first and then go on to the
smaller, that is, he must look for justice in the State first, and will
then proceed to the individual. Accordingly he begins to construct the

Society arises out of the wants of man. His first want is food; his second
a house; his third a coat. The sense of these needs and the possibility of
satisfying them by exchange, draw individuals together on the same spot;
and this is the beginning of a State, which we take the liberty to invent,
although necessity is the real inventor. There must be first a husbandman,
secondly a builder, thirdly a weaver, to which may be added a cobbler.
Four or five citizens at least are required to make a city. Now men have
different natures, and one man will do one thing better than many; and
business waits for no man. Hence there must be a division of labour into
different employments; into wholesale and retail trade; into workers, and
makers of workmen's tools; into shepherds and husbandmen. A city which
includes all this will have far exceeded the limit of four or five, and yet
not be very large. But then again imports will be required, and imports
necessitate exports, and this implies variety of produce in order to
attract the taste of purchasers; also merchants and ships. In the city too
we must have a market and money and retail trades; otherwise buyers and
sellers will never meet, and the valuable time of the producers will be
wasted in vain efforts at exchange. If we add hired servants the State
will be complete. And we may guess that somewhere in the intercourse of
the citizens with one another justice and injustice will appear.

Here follows a rustic picture of their way of life. They spend their days
in houses which they have built for themselves; they make their own clothes
and produce their own corn and wine. Their principal food is meal and
flour, and they drink in moderation. They live on the best of terms with
each other, and take care not to have too many children. 'But,' said
Glaucon, interposing, 'are they not to have a relish?' Certainly; they
will have salt and olives and cheese, vegetables and fruits, and chestnuts
to roast at the fire. ''Tis a city of pigs, Socrates.' Why, I replied,
what do you want more? 'Only the comforts of life,--sofas and tables, also
sauces and sweets.' I see; you want not only a State, but a luxurious
State; and possibly in the more complex frame we may sooner find justice
and injustice. Then the fine arts must go to work--every conceivable
instrument and ornament of luxury will be wanted. There will be dancers,
painters, sculptors, musicians, cooks, barbers, tire-women, nurses,
artists; swineherds and neatherds too for the animals, and physicians to
cure the disorders of which luxury is the source. To feed all these
superfluous mouths we shall need a part of our neighbour's land, and they
will want a part of ours. And this is the origin of war, which may be
traced to the same causes as other political evils. Our city will now
require the slight addition of a camp, and the citizen will be converted
into a soldier. But then again our old doctrine of the division of labour
must not be forgotten. The art of war cannot be learned in a day, and
there must be a natural aptitude for military duties. There will be some
warlike natures who have this aptitude--dogs keen of scent, swift of foot
to pursue, and strong of limb to fight. And as spirit is the foundation of
courage, such natures, whether of men or animals, will be full of spirit.
But these spirited natures are apt to bite and devour one another; the
union of gentleness to friends and fierceness against enemies appears to be
an impossibility, and the guardian of a State requires both qualities. Who
then can be a guardian? The image of the dog suggests an answer. For dogs
are gentle to friends and fierce to strangers. Your dog is a philosopher
who judges by the rule of knowing or not knowing; and philosophy, whether
in man or beast, is the parent of gentleness. The human watchdogs must be
philosophers or lovers of learning which will make them gentle. And how
are they to be learned without education?

But what shall their education be? Is any better than the old-fashioned
sort which is comprehended under the name of music and gymnastic? Music
includes literature, and literature is of two kinds, true and false. 'What
do you mean?' he said. I mean that children hear stories before they learn
gymnastics, and that the stories are either untrue, or have at most one or
two grains of truth in a bushel of falsehood. Now early life is very
impressible, and children ought not to learn what they will have to unlearn
when they grow up; we must therefore have a censorship of nursery tales,
banishing some and keeping others. Some of them are very improper, as we
may see in the great instances of Homer and Hesiod, who not only tell lies
but bad lies; stories about Uranus and Saturn, which are immoral as well as
false, and which should never be spoken of to young persons, or indeed at
all; or, if at all, then in a mystery, after the sacrifice, not of an
Eleusinian pig, but of some unprocurable animal. Shall our youth be
encouraged to beat their fathers by the example of Zeus, or our citizens be
incited to quarrel by hearing or seeing representations of strife among the
gods? Shall they listen to the narrative of Hephaestus binding his mother,
and of Zeus sending him flying for helping her when she was beaten? Such
tales may possibly have a mystical interpretation, but the young are
incapable of understanding allegory. If any one asks what tales are to be
allowed, we will answer that we are legislators and not book-makers; we
only lay down the principles according to which books are to be written; to
write them is the duty of others.

And our first principle is, that God must be represented as he is; not as
the author of all things, but of good only. We will not suffer the poets
to say that he is the steward of good and evil, or that he has two casks
full of destinies;--or that Athene and Zeus incited Pandarus to break the
treaty; or that God caused the sufferings of Niobe, or of Pelops, or the
Trojan war; or that he makes men sin when he wishes to destroy them.
Either these were not the actions of the gods, or God was just, and men
were the better for being punished. But that the deed was evil, and God
the author, is a wicked, suicidal fiction which we will allow no one, old
or young, to utter. This is our first and great principle--God is the
author of good only.

And the second principle is like unto it:--With God is no variableness or
change of form. Reason teaches us this; for if we suppose a change in God,
he must be changed either by another or by himself. By another?--but the
best works of nature and art and the noblest qualities of mind are least
liable to be changed by any external force. By himself?--but he cannot
change for the better; he will hardly change for the worse. He remains for
ever fairest and best in his own image. Therefore we refuse to listen to
the poets who tell us of Here begging in the likeness of a priestess or of
other deities who prowl about at night in strange disguises; all that
blasphemous nonsense with which mothers fool the manhood out of their
children must be suppressed. But some one will say that God, who is
himself unchangeable, may take a form in relation to us. Why should he?
For gods as well as men hate the lie in the soul, or principle of
falsehood; and as for any other form of lying which is used for a purpose
and is regarded as innocent in certain exceptional cases--what need have
the gods of this? For they are not ignorant of antiquity like the poets,
nor are they afraid of their enemies, nor is any madman a friend of theirs.
God then is true, he is absolutely true; he changes not, he deceives not,
by day or night, by word or sign. This is our second great principle--God
is true. Away with the lying dream of Agamemnon in Homer, and the
accusation of Thetis against Apollo in Aeschylus...

In order to give clearness to his conception of the State, Plato proceeds
to trace the first principles of mutual need and of division of labour in
an imaginary community of four or five citizens. Gradually this community
increases; the division of labour extends to countries; imports necessitate
exports; a medium of exchange is required, and retailers sit in the market-
place to save the time of the producers. These are the steps by which
Plato constructs the first or primitive State, introducing the elements of
political economy by the way. As he is going to frame a second or
civilized State, the simple naturally comes before the complex. He
indulges, like Rousseau, in a picture of primitive life--an idea which has
indeed often had a powerful influence on the imagination of mankind, but he
does not seriously mean to say that one is better than the other
(Politicus); nor can any inference be drawn from the description of the
first state taken apart from the second, such as Aristotle appears to draw
in the Politics. We should not interpret a Platonic dialogue any more than
a poem or a parable in too literal or matter-of-fact a style. On the other
hand, when we compare the lively fancy of Plato with the dried-up
abstractions of modern treatises on philosophy, we are compelled to say
with Protagoras, that the 'mythus is more interesting' (Protag.)

Several interesting remarks which in modern times would have a place in a
treatise on Political Economy are scattered up and down the writings of
Plato: especially Laws, Population; Free Trade; Adulteration; Wills and
Bequests; Begging; Eryxias, (though not Plato's), Value and Demand;
Republic, Division of Labour. The last subject, and also the origin of
Retail Trade, is treated with admirable lucidity in the second book of the
Republic. But Plato never combined his economic ideas into a system, and
never seems to have recognized that Trade is one of the great motive powers
of the State and of the world. He would make retail traders only of the
inferior sort of citizens (Rep., Laws), though he remarks, quaintly enough
(Laws), that 'if only the best men and the best women everywhere were
compelled to keep taverns for a time or to carry on retail trade, etc.,
then we should knew how pleasant and agreeable all these things are.'

The disappointment of Glaucon at the 'city of pigs,' the ludicrous
description of the ministers of luxury in the more refined State, and the
afterthought of the necessity of doctors, the illustration of the nature of
the guardian taken from the dog, the desirableness of offering some almost
unprocurable victim when impure mysteries are to be celebrated, the
behaviour of Zeus to his father and of Hephaestus to his mother, are
touches of humour which have also a serious meaning. In speaking of
education Plato rather startles us by affirming that a child must be
trained in falsehood first and in truth afterwards. Yet this is not very
different from saying that children must be taught through the medium of
imagination as well as reason; that their minds can only develope
gradually, and that there is much which they must learn without
understanding. This is also the substance of Plato's view, though he must
be acknowledged to have drawn the line somewhat differently from modern
ethical writers, respecting truth and falsehood. To us, economies or
accommodations would not be allowable unless they were required by the
human faculties or necessary for the communication of knowledge to the
simple and ignorant. We should insist that the word was inseparable from
the intention, and that we must not be 'falsely true,' i.e. speak or act
falsely in support of what was right or true. But Plato would limit the
use of fictions only by requiring that they should have a good moral
effect, and that such a dangerous weapon as falsehood should be employed by
the rulers alone and for great objects.

A Greek in the age of Plato attached no importance to the question whether
his religion was an historical fact. He was just beginning to be conscious
that the past had a history; but he could see nothing beyond Homer and
Hesiod. Whether their narratives were true or false did not seriously
affect the political or social life of Hellas. Men only began to suspect
that they were fictions when they recognised them to be immoral. And so in
all religions: the consideration of their morality comes first, afterwards
the truth of the documents in which they are recorded, or of the events
natural or supernatural which are told of them. But in modern times, and
in Protestant countries perhaps more than in Catholic, we have been too
much inclined to identify the historical with the moral; and some have
refused to believe in religion at all, unless a superhuman accuracy was
discernible in every part of the record. The facts of an ancient or
religious history are amongst the most important of all facts; but they are
frequently uncertain, and we only learn the true lesson which is to be
gathered from them when we place ourselves above them. These reflections
tend to show that the difference between Plato and ourselves, though not
unimportant, is not so great as might at first sight appear. For we should
agree with him in placing the moral before the historical truth of
religion; and, generally, in disregarding those errors or misstatements of
fact which necessarily occur in the early stages of all religions. We know
also that changes in the traditions of a country cannot be made in a day;
and are therefore tolerant of many things which science and criticism would

We note in passing that the allegorical interpretation of mythology, said
to have been first introduced as early as the sixth century before Christ
by Theagenes of Rhegium, was well established in the age of Plato, and
here, as in the Phaedrus, though for a different reason, was rejected by
him. That anachronisms whether of religion or law, when men have reached
another stage of civilization, should be got rid of by fictions is in
accordance with universal experience. Great is the art of interpretation;
and by a natural process, which when once discovered was always going on,
what could not be altered was explained away. And so without any palpable
inconsistency there existed side by side two forms of religion, the
tradition inherited or invented by the poets and the customary worship of
the temple; on the other hand, there was the religion of the philosopher,
who was dwelling in the heaven of ideas, but did not therefore refuse to
offer a cock to Aesculapius, or to be seen saying his prayers at the rising
of the sun. At length the antagonism between the popular and philosophical
religion, never so great among the Greeks as in our own age, disappeared,
and was only felt like the difference between the religion of the educated
and uneducated among ourselves. The Zeus of Homer and Hesiod easily passed
into the 'royal mind' of Plato (Philebus); the giant Heracles became the
knight-errant and benefactor of mankind. These and still more wonderful
transformations were readily effected by the ingenuity of Stoics and neo-
Platonists in the two or three centuries before and after Christ. The
Greek and Roman religions were gradually permeated by the spirit of
philosophy; having lost their ancient meaning, they were resolved into
poetry and morality; and probably were never purer than at the time of
their decay, when their influence over the world was waning.

A singular conception which occurs towards the end of the book is the lie
in the soul; this is connected with the Platonic and Socratic doctrine that
involuntary ignorance is worse than voluntary. The lie in the soul is a
true lie, the corruption of the highest truth, the deception of the highest
part of the soul, from which he who is deceived has no power of delivering
himself. For example, to represent God as false or immoral, or, according
to Plato, as deluding men with appearances or as the author of evil; or
again, to affirm with Protagoras that 'knowledge is sensation,' or that
'being is becoming,' or with Thrasymachus 'that might is right,' would have
been regarded by Plato as a lie of this hateful sort. The greatest
unconsciousness of the greatest untruth, e.g. if, in the language of the
Gospels (John), 'he who was blind' were to say 'I see,' is another aspect
of the state of mind which Plato is describing. The lie in the soul may be
further compared with the sin against the Holy Ghost (Luke), allowing for
the difference between Greek and Christian modes of speaking. To this is
opposed the lie in words, which is only such a deception as may occur in a
play or poem, or allegory or figure of speech, or in any sort of
accommodation,--which though useless to the gods may be useful to men in
certain cases. Socrates is here answering the question which he had
himself raised about the propriety of deceiving a madman; and he is also
contrasting the nature of God and man. For God is Truth, but mankind can
only be true by appearing sometimes to be partial, or false. Reserving for
another place the greater questions of religion or education, we may note
further, (1) the approval of the old traditional education of Greece; (2)
the preparation which Plato is making for the attack on Homer and the
poets; (3) the preparation which he is also making for the use of economies
in the State; (4) the contemptuous and at the same time euphemistic manner
in which here as below he alludes to the 'Chronique Scandaleuse' of the

BOOK III. There is another motive in purifying religion, which is to
banish fear; for no man can be courageous who is afraid of death, or who
believes the tales which are repeated by the poets concerning the world
below. They must be gently requested not to abuse hell; they may be
reminded that their stories are both untrue and discouraging. Nor must
they be angry if we expunge obnoxious passages, such as the depressing
words of Achilles--'I would rather be a serving-man than rule over all the
dead;' and the verses which tell of the squalid mansions, the senseless
shadows, the flitting soul mourning over lost strength and youth, the soul
with a gibber going beneath the earth like smoke, or the souls of the
suitors which flutter about like bats. The terrors and horrors of Cocytus
and Styx, ghosts and sapless shades, and the rest of their Tartarean
nomenclature, must vanish. Such tales may have their use; but they are not
the proper food for soldiers. As little can we admit the sorrows and
sympathies of the Homeric heroes:--Achilles, the son of Thetis, in tears,
throwing ashes on his head, or pacing up and down the sea-shore in
distraction; or Priam, the cousin of the gods, crying aloud, rolling in the
mire. A good man is not prostrated at the loss of children or fortune.
Neither is death terrible to him; and therefore lamentations over the dead
should not be practised by men of note; they should be the concern of
inferior persons only, whether women or men. Still worse is the
attribution of such weakness to the gods; as when the goddesses say, 'Alas!
my travail!' and worst of all, when the king of heaven himself laments his
inability to save Hector, or sorrows over the impending doom of his dear
Sarpedon. Such a character of God, if not ridiculed by our young men, is
likely to be imitated by them. Nor should our citizens be given to excess
of laughter--'Such violent delights' are followed by a violent re-action.
The description in the Iliad of the gods shaking their sides at the
clumsiness of Hephaestus will not be admitted by us. 'Certainly not.'

Truth should have a high place among the virtues, for falsehood, as we were
saying, is useless to the gods, and only useful to men as a medicine. But
this employment of falsehood must remain a privilege of state; the common
man must not in return tell a lie to the ruler; any more than the patient
would tell a lie to his physician, or the sailor to his captain.

In the next place our youth must be temperate, and temperance consists in
self-control and obedience to authority. That is a lesson which Homer
teaches in some places: 'The Achaeans marched on breathing prowess, in
silent awe of their leaders;'--but a very different one in other places:
'O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog, but the heart of a stag.'
Language of the latter kind will not impress self-control on the minds of
youth. The same may be said about his praises of eating and drinking and
his dread of starvation; also about the verses in which he tells of the
rapturous loves of Zeus and Here, or of how Hephaestus once detained Ares
and Aphrodite in a net on a similar occasion. There is a nobler strain
heard in the words:--'Endure, my soul, thou hast endured worse.' Nor must
we allow our citizens to receive bribes, or to say, 'Gifts persuade the
gods, gifts reverend kings;' or to applaud the ignoble advice of Phoenix to
Achilles that he should get money out of the Greeks before he assisted
them; or the meanness of Achilles himself in taking gifts from Agamemnon;
or his requiring a ransom for the body of Hector; or his cursing of Apollo;
or his insolence to the river-god Scamander; or his dedication to the dead
Patroclus of his own hair which had been already dedicated to the other
river-god Spercheius; or his cruelty in dragging the body of Hector round
the walls, and slaying the captives at the pyre: such a combination of
meanness and cruelty in Cheiron's pupil is inconceivable. The amatory
exploits of Peirithous and Theseus are equally unworthy. Either these so-
called sons of gods were not the sons of gods, or they were not such as the
poets imagine them, any more than the gods themselves are the authors of
evil. The youth who believes that such things are done by those who have
the blood of heaven flowing in their veins will be too ready to imitate
their example.

Enough of gods and heroes;--what shall we say about men? What the poets
and story-tellers say--that the wicked prosper and the righteous are
afflicted, or that justice is another's gain? Such misrepresentations
cannot be allowed by us. But in this we are anticipating the definition of
justice, and had therefore better defer the enquiry.

The subjects of poetry have been sufficiently treated; next follows style.
Now all poetry is a narrative of events past, present, or to come; and
narrative is of three kinds, the simple, the imitative, and a composition
of the two. An instance will make my meaning clear. The first scene in
Homer is of the last or mixed kind, being partly description and partly
dialogue. But if you throw the dialogue into the 'oratio obliqua,' the
passage will run thus: The priest came and prayed Apollo that the Achaeans
might take Troy and have a safe return if Agamemnon would only give him
back his daughter; and the other Greeks assented, but Agamemnon was wroth,
and so on--The whole then becomes descriptive, and the poet is the only
speaker left; or, if you omit the narrative, the whole becomes dialogue.
These are the three styles--which of them is to be admitted into our State?
'Do you ask whether tragedy and comedy are to be admitted?' Yes, but also
something more--Is it not doubtful whether our guardians are to be
imitators at all? Or rather, has not the question been already answered,
for we have decided that one man cannot in his life play many parts, any
more than he can act both tragedy and comedy, or be rhapsodist and actor at
once? Human nature is coined into very small pieces, and as our guardians
have their own business already, which is the care of freedom, they will
have enough to do without imitating. If they imitate they should imitate,
not any meanness or baseness, but the good only; for the mask which the
actor wears is apt to become his face. We cannot allow men to play the
parts of women, quarrelling, weeping, scolding, or boasting against the
gods,--least of all when making love or in labour. They must not represent
slaves, or bullies, or cowards, drunkards, or madmen, or blacksmiths, or
neighing horses, or bellowing bulls, or sounding rivers, or a raging sea.
A good or wise man will be willing to perform good and wise actions, but he
will be ashamed to play an inferior part which he has never practised; and
he will prefer to employ the descriptive style with as little imitation as
possible. The man who has no self-respect, on the contrary, will imitate
anybody and anything; sounds of nature and cries of animals alike; his
whole performance will be imitation of gesture and voice. Now in the
descriptive style there are few changes, but in the dramatic there are a
great many. Poets and musicians use either, or a compound of both, and
this compound is very attractive to youth and their teachers as well as to
the vulgar. But our State in which one man plays one part only is not
adapted for complexity. And when one of these polyphonous pantomimic
gentlemen offers to exhibit himself and his poetry we will show him every
observance of respect, but at the same time tell him that there is no room
for his kind in our State; we prefer the rough, honest poet, and will not
depart from our original models (Laws).

Next as to the music. A song or ode has three parts,--the subject, the
harmony, and the rhythm; of which the two last are dependent upon the
first. As we banished strains of lamentation, so we may now banish the
mixed Lydian harmonies, which are the harmonies of lamentation; and as our
citizens are to be temperate, we may also banish convivial harmonies, such
as the Ionian and pure Lydian. Two remain--the Dorian and Phrygian, the
first for war, the second for peace; the one expressive of courage, the
other of obedience or instruction or religious feeling. And as we reject
varieties of harmony, we shall also reject the many-stringed, variously-
shaped instruments which give utterance to them, and in particular the
flute, which is more complex than any of them. The lyre and the harp may
be permitted in the town, and the Pan's-pipe in the fields. Thus we have
made a purgation of music, and will now make a purgation of metres. These
should be like the harmonies, simple and suitable to the occasion. There
are four notes of the tetrachord, and there are three ratios of metre, 3/2,
2/2, 2/1, which have all their characteristics, and the feet have different
characteristics as well as the rhythms. But about this you and I must ask
Damon, the great musician, who speaks, if I remember rightly, of a martial
measure as well as of dactylic, trochaic, and iambic rhythms, which he
arranges so as to equalize the syllables with one another, assigning to
each the proper quantity. We only venture to affirm the general principle
that the style is to conform to the subject and the metre to the style; and
that the simplicity and harmony of the soul should be reflected in them
all. This principle of simplicity has to be learnt by every one in the
days of his youth, and may be gathered anywhere, from the creative and
constructive arts, as well as from the forms of plants and animals.

Other artists as well as poets should be warned against meanness or
unseemliness. Sculpture and painting equally with music must conform to
the law of simplicity. He who violates it cannot be allowed to work in our
city, and to corrupt the taste of our citizens. For our guardians must
grow up, not amid images of deformity which will gradually poison and
corrupt their souls, but in a land of health and beauty where they will
drink in from every object sweet and harmonious influences. And of all
these influences the greatest is the education given by music, which finds
a way into the innermost soul and imparts to it the sense of beauty and of
deformity. At first the effect is unconscious; but when reason arrives,
then he who has been thus trained welcomes her as the friend whom he always
knew. As in learning to read, first we acquire the elements or letters
separately, and afterwards their combinations, and cannot recognize
reflections of them until we know the letters themselves;--in like manner
we must first attain the elements or essential forms of the virtues, and
then trace their combinations in life and experience. There is a music of
the soul which answers to the harmony of the world; and the fairest object
of a musical soul is the fair mind in the fair body. Some defect in the
latter may be excused, but not in the former. True love is the daughter of
temperance, and temperance is utterly opposed to the madness of bodily
pleasure. Enough has been said of music, which makes a fair ending with

Next we pass on to gymnastics; about which I would remark, that the soul is
related to the body as a cause to an effect, and therefore if we educate
the mind we may leave the education of the body in her charge, and need
only give a general outline of the course to be pursued. In the first
place the guardians must abstain from strong drink, for they should be the
last persons to lose their wits. Whether the habits of the palaestra are
suitable to them is more doubtful, for the ordinary gymnastic is a sleepy
sort of thing, and if left off suddenly is apt to endanger health. But our
warrior athletes must be wide-awake dogs, and must also be inured to all
changes of food and climate. Hence they will require a simpler kind of
gymnastic, akin to their simple music; and for their diet a rule may be
found in Homer, who feeds his heroes on roast meat only, and gives them no
fish although they are living at the sea-side, nor boiled meats which
involve an apparatus of pots and pans; and, if I am not mistaken, he
nowhere mentions sweet sauces. Sicilian cookery and Attic confections and
Corinthian courtezans, which are to gymnastic what Lydian and Ionian
melodies are to music, must be forbidden. Where gluttony and intemperance
prevail the town quickly fills with doctors and pleaders; and law and
medicine give themselves airs as soon as the freemen of a State take an
interest in them. But what can show a more disgraceful state of education
than to have to go abroad for justice because you have none of your own at
home? And yet there IS a worse stage of the same disease--when men have
learned to take a pleasure and pride in the twists and turns of the law;
not considering how much better it would be for them so to order their
lives as to have no need of a nodding justice. And there is a like
disgrace in employing a physician, not for the cure of wounds or epidemic
disorders, but because a man has by laziness and luxury contracted diseases
which were unknown in the days of Asclepius. How simple is the Homeric
practice of medicine. Eurypylus after he has been wounded drinks a posset
of Pramnian wine, which is of a heating nature; and yet the sons of
Asclepius blame neither the damsel who gives him the drink, nor Patroclus
who is attending on him. The truth is that this modern system of nursing
diseases was introduced by Herodicus the trainer; who, being of a sickly
constitution, by a compound of training and medicine tortured first himself
and then a good many other people, and lived a great deal longer than he
had any right. But Asclepius would not practise this art, because he knew
that the citizens of a well-ordered State have no leisure to be ill, and
therefore he adopted the 'kill or cure' method, which artisans and
labourers employ. 'They must be at their business,' they say, 'and have no
time for coddling: if they recover, well; if they don't, there is an end
of them.' Whereas the rich man is supposed to be a gentleman who can
afford to be ill. Do you know a maxim of Phocylides--that 'when a man
begins to be rich' (or, perhaps, a little sooner) 'he should practise
virtue'? But how can excessive care of health be inconsistent with an
ordinary occupation, and yet consistent with that practice of virtue which
Phocylides inculcates? When a student imagines that philosophy gives him a
headache, he never does anything; he is always unwell. This was the reason
why Asclepius and his sons practised no such art. They were acting in the
interest of the public, and did not wish to preserve useless lives, or
raise up a puny offspring to wretched sires. Honest diseases they honestly
cured; and if a man was wounded, they applied the proper remedies, and then
let him eat and drink what he liked. But they declined to treat
intemperate and worthless subjects, even though they might have made large
fortunes out of them. As to the story of Pindar, that Asclepius was slain
by a thunderbolt for restoring a rich man to life, that is a lie--following
our old rule we must say either that he did not take bribes, or that he was
not the son of a god.

Glaucon then asks Socrates whether the best physicians and the best judges
will not be those who have had severally the greatest experience of
diseases and of crimes. Socrates draws a distinction between the two
professions. The physician should have had experience of disease in his
own body, for he cures with his mind and not with his body. But the judge
controls mind by mind; and therefore his mind should not be corrupted by
crime. Where then is he to gain experience? How is he to be wise and also
innocent? When young a good man is apt to be deceived by evil-doers,
because he has no pattern of evil in himself; and therefore the judge
should be of a certain age; his youth should have been innocent, and he
should have acquired insight into evil not by the practice of it, but by
the observation of it in others. This is the ideal of a judge; the
criminal turned detective is wonderfully suspicious, but when in company
with good men who have experience, he is at fault, for he foolishly
imagines that every one is as bad as himself. Vice may be known of virtue,
but cannot know virtue. This is the sort of medicine and this the sort of
law which will prevail in our State; they will be healing arts to better
natures; but the evil body will be left to die by the one, and the evil
soul will be put to death by the other. And the need of either will be
greatly diminished by good music which will give harmony to the soul, and
good gymnastic which will give health to the body. Not that this division
of music and gymnastic really corresponds to soul and body; for they are
both equally concerned with the soul, which is tamed by the one and aroused
and sustained by the other. The two together supply our guardians with
their twofold nature. The passionate disposition when it has too much
gymnastic is hardened and brutalized, the gentle or philosophic temper
which has too much music becomes enervated. While a man is allowing music
to pour like water through the funnel of his ears, the edge of his soul
gradually wears away, and the passionate or spirited element is melted out
of him. Too little spirit is easily exhausted; too much quickly passes
into nervous irritability. So, again, the athlete by feeding and training
has his courage doubled, but he soon grows stupid; he is like a wild beast,
ready to do everything by blows and nothing by counsel or policy. There
are two principles in man, reason and passion, and to these, not to the
soul and body, the two arts of music and gymnastic correspond. He who
mingles them in harmonious concord is the true musician,--he shall be the
presiding genius of our State.

The next question is, Who are to be our rulers? First, the elder must rule
the younger; and the best of the elders will be the best guardians. Now
they will be the best who love their subjects most, and think that they
have a common interest with them in the welfare of the state. These we
must select; but they must be watched at every epoch of life to see whether
they have retained the same opinions and held out against force and
enchantment. For time and persuasion and the love of pleasure may enchant
a man into a change of purpose, and the force of grief and pain may compel
him. And therefore our guardians must be men who have been tried by many
tests, like gold in the refiner's fire, and have been passed first through
danger, then through pleasure, and at every age have come out of such
trials victorious and without stain, in full command of themselves and
their principles; having all their faculties in harmonious exercise for
their country's good. These shall receive the highest honours both in life
and death. (It would perhaps be better to confine the term 'guardians' to
this select class: the younger men may be called 'auxiliaries.')

And now for one magnificent lie, in the belief of which, Oh that we could
train our rulers!--at any rate let us make the attempt with the rest of the
world. What I am going to tell is only another version of the legend of
Cadmus; but our unbelieving generation will be slow to accept such a story.
The tale must be imparted, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers,
lastly to the people. We will inform them that their youth was a dream,
and that during the time when they seemed to be undergoing their education
they were really being fashioned in the earth, who sent them up when they
were ready; and that they must protect and cherish her whose children they
are, and regard each other as brothers and sisters. 'I do not wonder at
your being ashamed to propound such a fiction.' There is more behind.
These brothers and sisters have different natures, and some of them God
framed to rule, whom he fashioned of gold; others he made of silver, to be
auxiliaries; others again to be husbandmen and craftsmen, and these were
formed by him of brass and iron. But as they are all sprung from a common
stock, a golden parent may have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden
son, and then there must be a change of rank; the son of the rich must
descend, and the child of the artisan rise, in the social scale; for an
oracle says 'that the State will come to an end if governed by a man of
brass or iron.' Will our citizens ever believe all this? 'Not in the
present generation, but in the next, perhaps, Yes.'

Now let the earthborn men go forth under the command of their rulers, and
look about and pitch their camp in a high place, which will be safe against
enemies from without, and likewise against insurrections from within.
There let them sacrifice and set up their tents; for soldiers they are to
be and not shopkeepers, the watchdogs and guardians of the sheep; and
luxury and avarice will turn them into wolves and tyrants. Their habits
and their dwellings should correspond to their education. They should have
no property; their pay should only meet their expenses; and they should
have common meals. Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from
God, and this divine gift in their souls they must not alloy with that
earthly dross which passes under the name of gold. They only of the
citizens may not touch it, or be under the same roof with it, or drink from
it; it is the accursed thing. Should they ever acquire houses or lands or
money of their own, they will become householders and tradesmen instead of
guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of helpers, and the hour of ruin,
both to themselves and the rest of the State, will be at hand.

The religious and ethical aspect of Plato's education will hereafter be
considered under a separate head. Some lesser points may be more
conveniently noticed in this place.

1. The constant appeal to the authority of Homer, whom, with grave irony,
Plato, after the manner of his age, summons as a witness about ethics and
psychology, as well as about diet and medicine; attempting to distinguish
the better lesson from the worse, sometimes altering the text from design;
more than once quoting or alluding to Homer inaccurately, after the manner
of the early logographers turning the Iliad into prose, and delighting to
draw far-fetched inferences from his words, or to make ludicrous
applications of them. He does not, like Heracleitus, get into a rage with
Homer and Archilochus (Heracl.), but uses their words and expressions as
vehicles of a higher truth; not on a system like Theagenes of Rhegium or
Metrodorus, or in later times the Stoics, but as fancy may dictate. And
the conclusions drawn from them are sound, although the premises are
fictitious. These fanciful appeals to Homer add a charm to Plato's style,
and at the same time they have the effect of a satire on the follies of
Homeric interpretation. To us (and probably to himself), although they
take the form of arguments, they are really figures of speech. They may be
compared with modern citations from Scripture, which have often a great
rhetorical power even when the original meaning of the words is entirely
lost sight of. The real, like the Platonic Socrates, as we gather from the
Memorabilia of Xenophon, was fond of making similar adaptations. Great in
all ages and countries, in religion as well as in law and literature, has
been the art of interpretation.

2. 'The style is to conform to the subject and the metre to the style.'
Notwithstanding the fascination which the word 'classical' exercises over
us, we can hardly maintain that this rule is observed in all the Greek
poetry which has come down to us. We cannot deny that the thought often
exceeds the power of lucid expression in Aeschylus and Pindar; or that
rhetoric gets the better of the thought in the Sophist-poet Euripides.
Only perhaps in Sophocles is there a perfect harmony of the two; in him
alone do we find a grace of language like the beauty of a Greek statue, in
which there is nothing to add or to take away; at least this is true of
single plays or of large portions of them. The connection in the Tragic
Choruses and in the Greek lyric poets is not unfrequently a tangled thread
which in an age before logic the poet was unable to draw out. Many
thoughts and feelings mingled in his mind, and he had no power of
disengaging or arranging them. For there is a subtle influence of logic
which requires to be transferred from prose to poetry, just as the music
and perfection of language are infused by poetry into prose. In all ages
the poet has been a bad judge of his own meaning (Apol.); for he does not
see that the word which is full of associations to his own mind is
difficult and unmeaning to that of another; or that the sequence which is
clear to himself is puzzling to others. There are many passages in some of
our greatest modern poets which are far too obscure; in which there is no
proportion between style and subject, in which any half-expressed figure,
any harsh construction, any distorted collocation of words, any remote
sequence of ideas is admitted; and there is no voice 'coming sweetly from
nature,' or music adding the expression of feeling to thought. As if there
could be poetry without beauty, or beauty without ease and clearness. The
obscurities of early Greek poets arose necessarily out of the state of
language and logic which existed in their age. They are not examples to be
followed by us; for the use of language ought in every generation to become
clearer and clearer. Like Shakespere, they were great in spite, not in
consequence, of their imperfections of expression. But there is no reason
for returning to the necessary obscurity which prevailed in the infancy of
literature. The English poets of the last century were certainly not
obscure; and we have no excuse for losing what they had gained, or for
going back to the earlier or transitional age which preceded them. The
thought of our own times has not out-stripped language; a want of Plato's
'art of measuring' is the rule cause of the disproportion between them.

3. In the third book of the Republic a nearer approach is made to a theory
of art than anywhere else in Plato. His views may be summed up as
follows:--True art is not fanciful and imitative, but simple and ideal,--
the expression of the highest moral energy, whether in action or repose.
To live among works of plastic art which are of this noble and simple
character, or to listen to such strains, is the best of influences,--the
true Greek atmosphere, in which youth should be brought up. That is the
way to create in them a natural good taste, which will have a feeling of
truth and beauty in all things. For though the poets are to be expelled,
still art is recognized as another aspect of reason--like love in the
Symposium, extending over the same sphere, but confined to the preliminary
education, and acting through the power of habit; and this conception of
art is not limited to strains of music or the forms of plastic art, but
pervades all nature and has a wide kindred in the world. The Republic of
Plato, like the Athens of Pericles, has an artistic as well as a political

There is hardly any mention in Plato of the creative arts; only in two or
three passages does he even allude to them (Rep.; Soph.). He is not lost
in rapture at the great works of Phidias, the Parthenon, the Propylea, the
statues of Zeus or Athene. He would probably have regarded any abstract
truth of number or figure as higher than the greatest of them. Yet it is
hard to suppose that some influence, such as he hopes to inspire in youth,
did not pass into his own mind from the works of art which he saw around
him. We are living upon the fragments of them, and find in a few broken
stones the standard of truth and beauty. But in Plato this feeling has no
expression; he nowhere says that beauty is the object of art; he seems to
deny that wisdom can take an external form (Phaedrus); he does not
distinguish the fine from the mechanical arts. Whether or no, like some
writers, he felt more than he expressed, it is at any rate remarkable that
the greatest perfection of the fine arts should coincide with an almost
entire silence about them. In one very striking passage he tells us that a
work of art, like the State, is a whole; and this conception of a whole and
the love of the newly-born mathematical sciences may be regarded, if not as
the inspiring, at any rate as the regulating principles of Greek art (Xen.
Mem.; and Sophist).

4. Plato makes the true and subtle remark that the physician had better
not be in robust health; and should have known what illness is in his own
person. But the judge ought to have had no similar experience of evil; he
is to be a good man who, having passed his youth in innocence, became
acquainted late in life with the vices of others. And therefore, according
to Plato, a judge should not be young, just as a young man according to
Aristotle is not fit to be a hearer of moral philosophy. The bad, on the
other hand, have a knowledge of vice, but no knowledge of virtue. It may
be doubted, however, whether this train of reflection is well founded. In
a remarkable passage of the Laws it is acknowledged that the evil may form
a correct estimate of the good. The union of gentleness and courage in
Book ii. at first seemed to be a paradox, yet was afterwards ascertained to
be a truth. And Plato might also have found that the intuition of evil may
be consistent with the abhorrence of it. There is a directness of aim in
virtue which gives an insight into vice. And the knowledge of character is
in some degree a natural sense independent of any special experience of
good or evil.

5. One of the most remarkable conceptions of Plato, because un-Greek and
also very different from anything which existed at all in his age of the
world, is the transposition of ranks. In the Spartan state there had been
enfranchisement of Helots and degradation of citizens under special
circumstances. And in the ancient Greek aristocracies, merit was certainly
recognized as one of the elements on which government was based. The
founders of states were supposed to be their benefactors, who were raised
by their great actions above the ordinary level of humanity; at a later
period, the services of warriors and legislators were held to entitle them
and their descendants to the privileges of citizenship and to the first
rank in the state. And although the existence of an ideal aristocracy is
slenderly proven from the remains of early Greek history, and we have a
difficulty in ascribing such a character, however the idea may be defined,
to any actual Hellenic state--or indeed to any state which has ever existed
in the world--still the rule of the best was certainly the aspiration of
philosophers, who probably accommodated a good deal their views of
primitive history to their own notions of good government. Plato further
insists on applying to the guardians of his state a series of tests by
which all those who fell short of a fixed standard were either removed from
the governing body, or not admitted to it; and this 'academic' discipline
did to a certain extent prevail in Greek states, especially in Sparta. He
also indicates that the system of caste, which existed in a great part of
the ancient, and is by no means extinct in the modern European world,
should be set aside from time to time in favour of merit. He is aware how
deeply the greater part of mankind resent any interference with the order
of society, and therefore he proposes his novel idea in the form of what he
himself calls a 'monstrous fiction.' (Compare the ceremony of preparation
for the two 'great waves' in Book v.) Two principles are indicated by him:
first, that there is a distinction of ranks dependent on circumstances
prior to the individual: second, that this distinction is and ought to be
broken through by personal qualities. He adapts mythology like the Homeric
poems to the wants of the state, making 'the Phoenician tale' the vehicle
of his ideas. Every Greek state had a myth respecting its own origin; the
Platonic republic may also have a tale of earthborn men. The gravity and
verisimilitude with which the tale is told, and the analogy of Greek
tradition, are a sufficient verification of the 'monstrous falsehood.'
Ancient poetry had spoken of a gold and silver and brass and iron age
succeeding one another, but Plato supposes these differences in the natures
of men to exist together in a single state. Mythology supplies a figure
under which the lesson may be taught (as Protagoras says, 'the myth is more
interesting'), and also enables Plato to touch lightly on new principles
without going into details. In this passage he shadows forth a general
truth, but he does not tell us by what steps the transposition of ranks is
to be effected. Indeed throughout the Republic he allows the lower ranks
to fade into the distance. We do not know whether they are to carry arms,
and whether in the fifth book they are or are not included in the
communistic regulations respecting property and marriage. Nor is there any
use in arguing strictly either from a few chance words, or from the silence
of Plato, or in drawing inferences which were beyond his vision.
Aristotle, in his criticism on the position of the lower classes, does not
perceive that the poetical creation is 'like the air, invulnerable,' and
cannot be penetrated by the shafts of his logic (Pol.).

6. Two paradoxes which strike the modern reader as in the highest degree
fanciful and ideal, and which suggest to him many reflections, are to be
found in the third book of the Republic: first, the great power of music,
so much beyond any influence which is experienced by us in modern times,
when the art or science has been far more developed, and has found the
secret of harmony, as well as of melody; secondly, the indefinite and
almost absolute control which the soul is supposed to exercise over the

In the first we suspect some degree of exaggeration, such as we may also
observe among certain masters of the art, not unknown to us, at the present
day. With this natural enthusiasm, which is felt by a few only, there
seems to mingle in Plato a sort of Pythagorean reverence for numbers and
numerical proportion to which Aristotle is a stranger. Intervals of sound
and number are to him sacred things which have a law of their own, not
dependent on the variations of sense. They rise above sense, and become a
connecting link with the world of ideas. But it is evident that Plato is
describing what to him appears to be also a fact. The power of a simple
and characteristic melody on the impressible mind of the Greek is more than
we can easily appreciate. The effect of national airs may bear some
comparison with it. And, besides all this, there is a confusion between
the harmony of musical notes and the harmony of soul and body, which is so
potently inspired by them.

The second paradox leads up to some curious and interesting questions--How
far can the mind control the body? Is the relation between them one of
mutual antagonism or of mutual harmony? Are they two or one, and is either
of them the cause of the other? May we not at times drop the opposition
between them, and the mode of describing them, which is so familiar to us,
and yet hardly conveys any precise meaning, and try to view this composite
creature, man, in a more simple manner? Must we not at any rate admit that
there is in human nature a higher and a lower principle, divided by no
distinct line, which at times break asunder and take up arms against one
another? Or again, they are reconciled and move together, either
unconsciously in the ordinary work of life, or consciously in the pursuit
of some noble aim, to be attained not without an effort, and for which
every thought and nerve are strained. And then the body becomes the good
friend or ally, or servant or instrument of the mind. And the mind has
often a wonderful and almost superhuman power of banishing disease and
weakness and calling out a hidden strength. Reason and the desires, the
intellect and the senses are brought into harmony and obedience so as to
form a single human being. They are ever parting, ever meeting; and the
identity or diversity of their tendencies or operations is for the most
part unnoticed by us. When the mind touches the body through the
appetites, we acknowledge the responsibility of the one to the other.
There is a tendency in us which says 'Drink.' There is another which says,
'Do not drink; it is not good for you.' And we all of us know which is the
rightful superior. We are also responsible for our health, although into
this sphere there enter some elements of necessity which may be beyond our
control. Still even in the management of health, care and thought,
continued over many years, may make us almost free agents, if we do not
exact too much of ourselves, and if we acknowledge that all human freedom
is limited by the laws of nature and of mind.

We are disappointed to find that Plato, in the general condemnation which
he passes on the practice of medicine prevailing in his own day,
depreciates the effects of diet. He would like to have diseases of a
definite character and capable of receiving a definite treatment. He is
afraid of invalidism interfering with the business of life. He does not
recognize that time is the great healer both of mental and bodily
disorders; and that remedies which are gradual and proceed little by little
are safer than those which produce a sudden catastrophe. Neither does he
see that there is no way in which the mind can more surely influence the
body than by the control of eating and drinking; or any other action or
occasion of human life on which the higher freedom of the will can be more
simple or truly asserted.

7. Lesser matters of style may be remarked.

(1) The affected ignorance of music, which is Plato's way of expressing
that he is passing lightly over the subject.

(2) The tentative manner in which here, as in the second book, he proceeds
with the construction of the State.

(3) The description of the State sometimes as a reality, and then again as
a work of imagination only; these are the arts by which he sustains the
reader's interest.

(4) Connecting links, or the preparation for the entire expulsion of the
poets in Book X.

(5) The companion pictures of the lover of litigation and the
valetudinarian, the satirical jest about the maxim of Phocylides, the
manner in which the image of the gold and silver citizens is taken up into
the subject, and the argument from the practice of Asclepius, should not
escape notice.

BOOK IV. Adeimantus said: 'Suppose a person to argue, Socrates, that you
make your citizens miserable, and this by their own free-will; they are the
lords of the city, and yet instead of having, like other men, lands and
houses and money of their own, they live as mercenaries and are always
mounting guard.' You may add, I replied, that they receive no pay but only
their food, and have no money to spend on a journey or a mistress. 'Well,
and what answer do you give?' My answer is, that our guardians may or may
not be the happiest of men,--I should not be surprised to find in the long-
run that they were,--but this is not the aim of our constitution, which was
designed for the good of the whole and not of any one part. If I went to a
sculptor and blamed him for having painted the eye, which is the noblest
feature of the face, not purple but black, he would reply: 'The eye must
be an eye, and you should look at the statue as a whole.' 'Now I can well
imagine a fool's paradise, in which everybody is eating and drinking,
clothed in purple and fine linen, and potters lie on sofas and have their
wheel at hand, that they may work a little when they please; and cobblers
and all the other classes of a State lose their distinctive character. And
a State may get on without cobblers; but when the guardians degenerate into
boon companions, then the ruin is complete. Remember that we are not
talking of peasants keeping holiday, but of a State in which every man is
expected to do his own work. The happiness resides not in this or that

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