Simple Republic Book 2

God and the State

I thought I was ending the discussion.

Glaucon: Socrates, do you wish really to persuade us that to be just is always better than to be unjust?

Socrates: I really wanted to persuade you if I could.

Glaucon: Then you certainly have not succeeded.

  • How would you arrange goods?
    • There some goods which we welcome for their own sakes, and independently of their consequences.
      • For example, harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although nothing follows from them.
  • There is also a second class of goods, such as knowledge, sight, health, which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results.
  • There is a third class such as:
    • gymnastics, and the care of the sick, and the physician's art,
    • the various ways of money-making.
  • These do us good but we regard them as disagreeable.
  • No one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or result which flows from them?
  • Where is justice is in these three classes?

Socrates: In the highest class—among those goods which he who would be happy desires both for their own sake and for the sake of their results.

But others think that justice is in the troublesome class, among goods which are to be pursued for the sake of rewards and of reputation, but in themselves are disagreeable and rather to be avoided.

I know that this is their way of thinking.

  • This was the thesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just now, when he censured justice and praised injustice.
  • But I am too stupid to be convinced by him.

Thrasymachus seems to me, like a snake who had been charmed by your voice.

  • But I think that the nature of justice and injustice have not yet been made clear.
    • Setting aside their rewards and results, I want to know:
      • what they are in themselves, and
      • how they inwardly work in the soul.
  • I will revive Thrasymachus' argument.
    1. First, I will speak of the common view of the nature and origin of justice.
    2. Secondly, I will show that all men who practise justice do so out of necessity, against their will, and not as a good.
    3. Thirdly, I will argue that there is reason in this view for the killing of the unjust as better than the killing of the just, though I do not think so.
  • But still I am perplexed about the voices of Thrasymachus in my ears.
    • I have never heard of a satisfactory explanation of the superiority of justice to injustice.
  • I want to hear justice praised for itself.
    • Therefore, I will praise the unjust life to the utmost of my power.
    • I want you too to praise justice and censure injustice.

I agree, a man of sense would often wish to talk most about justice.

The Shallow Meaning of Justice

I shall start with the nature and origin of justice.

  • They say that:
    • to do injustice is, by nature, good,
    • to suffer injustice is evil, and
    • evil is greater than the good.
  • After men have both done injustice and suffered injustice, they are unable to avoid the one and obtain the other.
    • They think that it is better for them to agree among themselves to have neither.
  • Hence there arise laws and mutual covenants.
    • Whatever is ordained by law is called lawful and just by them.
    • They refer to this as the origin and nature of justice.
  • The best is to do injustice and not be punished.
    • The worst of all is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation.
  • Justice is a compromise or middle point between the best and the worst.
    • It is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil
    • It is honoured by the inability of men to do injustice because no one will ever submit to such an unjust agreement.
  • Those who practise justice do so involuntarily because they do not have the power to be unjust.
  • If we give both the just and unjust the power to do what they want, their actions will follow their interest.
    • Their nature will deem this to be their good.
    • They are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of law.
    • This freedom may be given to them as a power that was possessed by Gyges, the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian.
      • Gyges was a shepherd under the king of Lydia.
      • An earthquake opened up the earth where he was feeding his flock.
      • Amazed at the sight, he went inside the opening and saw a hollow brazen horse with doors.
      • He saw inside a dead body with only a golden ring.
      • He took this ring and went back up.
      • Shepherds meet regularly to send their monthly report on the flocks to the king.
      • He went to this meeting wearing the ring.
      • He happened to turn the ring and instantly he became invisible to the rest of the group.
      • They began to speak of him as if he were no longer present.
      • Astonished, he turned the ring outwards and reappeared.
      • He tried this several times becoming invisble and visible again.
      • He then contrived to be a court messenger.
      • As soon as he arrived, he seduced the queen.
      • With her help, he slew the king and took the kingdom.
    • Suppose that there were two such magic rings.
      • The just puts on one of the rings and the unjust the other.
      • No man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice.
      • No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men.
  • Therefore, the the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust.
    • This is a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually.
    • A man is just out of necessity, because whenever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, then he is unjust.
    • Everyone believes that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice.
  • If anyone gets this power of becoming invisible but does not do anything wrong or touch what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot.
    • Although they would praise him from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.

Glaucon's Thought Experiment

I shall start with the nature and origin of justice.

  • If we are to really judge the life of the just and unjust, then we must isolate them.
    • Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just.
    • Both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives.
  • First, let the unjust be like other masters of craft, like the skillful pilot or physician.
    • They know intuitively their own powers.
    • They keeps within their limits.
    • If they fail, they can recover themselves.
  • Let the unjust make his unjust attempts.
    • Let him lie hidden if he means to be great in his injustice because the highest reach of injustice is, to be deemed just when you are not.
    • Therefore, in the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice.
    • While doing the most unjust acts, he must have the greatest reputation for justice.
    • If he takes a false step then he must be able to recover himself.
    • If any of his bad deeds come to light, let him force his way where force is required by his courage and strength, and command of money and friends.
  • Let us place the unjust man beside the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing. as Aeschylus says, "to be good and not to seem good."
    • The just man must not pretend to be just.
    • If the just man seems to be just he will be honoured and rewarded.
    • Then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honours and rewards.
    • Let the just man be the best of men.
    • Let the unjust man be thought the worst.
    • We shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences.
    • Let them continue until the moment of death, being just and seeming to be unjust.
    • When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let us see who is the happier of the two.

Heavens, Glaucon!

  • How energetically you polish them up for the decision, first one and then the other, as if they were two statues.

I do my best.

  • Now that we know what they are like, it is easy to trace the life which awaits either of them.
  • The words which follow are from the eulogists of injustice.
    • They will tell you that the just man who is thought to be unjust will be scourged, racked, bound, have his eyes burnt out, and then impaled.
    • Then he will understand that he should pretend to be just but not be really just.
  • Aeschylus' words apply more to the unjust than to the just.
    • The unjust man really wants to be unjust.
    • "His mind has a deep and fertile soil.
    • His prudent counsels come from that soil."
    • In the beginning, he is just and is thought just and so he rules the city.
      • He can marry whom he wills.
      • He can also trade and deal where he likes to his own advantage, because he has no misgivings about injustice.
      • At every contest, whether in public or private, he gets the better of his antagonists and gains gains at their expense.
      • He is rich.
      • Out of his gains, he can benefit his friends and harm his enemies.
      • He can offer sacrifices.
      • He can dedicate gifts to the gods abundantly and honour the gods or any man in a far better style than the just.
      • Therefore, he is likely to be dearer than they are to the gods.
    • Thus, Socrates, gods and men unite in making the life of the unjust better than the life of the just.

Glaucon's brother, Adeimantus, interposed: Socrates, you do not suppose that there is nothing more to be urged?

  • The strongest point of all has not been even mentioned

There is a proverb: 'Let brother help brother'.

  • If he fails in any part do you assist him.
  • Although I must confess that Glaucon has already said quite enough to:
    • lay me in the dust, and
    • take from me the power of helping justice.


  • There is another side to Glaucon's argument about the praise and censure of justice and injustice.
    • That praise or censure is equally needed to bring out his meaning.
  • Parents and tutors are always telling their sons and their wards that they should be just.
    • It is not for the sake of justice.
    • It is for the sake of character and reputation in the hope of obtaining for him who is reputed just some of those offices, marriages, and the like.
    • Glaucon enumerated these among the advantages accruing to the unjust from the reputation of justice.
  • However, more is made of appearances by the unjust than by the others.
    • They throw in the good opinion of the gods.
    • They will tell you of a shower of benefits which the heavens rain on the pious.
    • This matches with the testimony of the noble Hesiod and Homer.
      • Hesiod says that the gods make the oaks of the just.
      • 'To bear acorns at their summit, and bees in the middle.
      • The sheep are bowed down with the weight of their fleeces,'
      • Many other blessings of a like kind are provided for them.
      • Homer has a very similar strain.
      • 'The fame of a god-like blameless king who maintains justice gives him wheat and barley from the earth, fruit from trees, meat from his sheep and fish from the sea.'
    • Still grander are the gifts of heaven which Musaeus and his son give to the just.
      • They take them down into the world below, where they have the saints drunk at a feast, crowned with garlands.
      • Their idea seems to be that an immortality of drunkenness is the highest reward of virtue.
      • Some extend their rewards yet further.
      • They say that the posterity of the faithful and just shall survive to the third and fourth generation.
      • This is how they praise justice.
      • But about the wicked there is another strain.
      • They bury the wicked in a slough in Hades, and make them carry water in a sieve.
      • Also while they are yet living, they bring the wicked to infamy.
      • They inflict on the wicked the punishments which Glaucon described as the punishment of the just who are reputed to be unjust.
  • Again Socrates, please consider another way of speaking about justice and injustice, which is not confined to the poets, but is found in prose writers.
    • The universal voice of mankind is always declaring that:
      • justice and virtue are honourable, but grievous and toilsome, and
      • the pleasures of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are only censured by law and opinion.
    • They also say that:
      • honesty is mostly less profitable than dishonesty,
      • wicked men are happy,
    • They honour wicked men both in public and private when they are rich or influential.
    • They despise and overlook those who may be weak and poor, even though acknowledging them to be better than the others.
    • But most extraordinary of all is their mode of speaking about virtue and the gods.
    • They say that the gods give calamity and misery to many good men, and good and happiness to the wicked.
    • Mendicant prophets go to rich men's doors and persuade them that they have a power committed to them by the gods of making an atonement for a man's own or his ancestor's sins by sacrifices or charms, with rejoicings and feasts.
      • They promise to harm an enemy, whether just or unjust, at a small cost with magic arts and incantations binding heaven to execute their will.
      • They appeal to the poets as the authorities.
      • They use the words of Hesiod to smooth the path of vice:
        • 'Vice may be had in abundance without trouble.
        • The way is smooth and her dwelling-place is near.
        • But before virtue, the gods have set toil.'
      • It is a tedious and uphill road.
      • Then they cite Homer as a witness that the gods may be influenced by men.
      • Hesiod also says:
        • 'The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose.
        • Men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odour of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.'
      • They produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Orpheus, who were children of the Moon and the Muses.
        • They perform their ritual according to those books.
        • They persuade individuals and whole cities:
          • that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices, and
          • that they are equally at the service of the living and the dead.
            • They call these as mysteries.
            • They redeem us from the pains of hell.
            • But if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.
    • The minds of the young are affected when the young hear:
      • all this said about virtue and vice, and
      • the way how gods and men regard them.
    • Some young are quick-witted and are like bees on the wing which go to every flower.
      • From what they hear, they draw conclusions as to:
        • what kind of persons they should be, and
        • how they should walk if they would make the best of life.
    • Probably the youth will say to himself in the words of Pindar—
      • 'Can I by justice or by deceit ascend a loftier tower which may be my fortress all my days?'
    • People say that: if I am really just then
      • there is no profit, and
      • the pain and loss on the other hand are unmistakeable.
    • But if I am unjust but acquire the reputation of being just, a heavenly life is promised to me.
      • This is because, as philosophers prove, appearance:
        • tyrannizes over truth, and
        • is lord of happiness.
      • Therefore, I must devote myself to appearance.
    • I will describe around me a picture and shadow of virtue to be the exterior of my house.
      • Behind I will trail the subtle and crafty fox, as recommended by Archilochus, the greatest of sages.
      • But I hear that the concealment of wickedness is often difficult.
      • I answer, Nothing great is easy.
  • Nevertheless, the argument is that this is the path if we want to be happy.
    • We will establish secret brotherhoods and political clubs, with a view to concealment.
    • There are professors of rhetoric who teach the art of persuading courts and assemblies.
    • Partly by persuasion and partly by force, I shall make unlawful gains and not be punished.
    • But the gods cannot be deceived, neither can they be compelled.
    • But what if there are no gods?
    • What if they didn't care about human things?
    • Why then should we mind about concealment?
    • We only know about the gods from the poets.
    • These poets say that the gods may be influenced and turned by 'sacrifices and soothing entreaties and by offerings.'
    • We must then both or neither.
    • If the poets speak truthfully, why is it better for us to be unjust and offer the fruits of injustice?
      • If we are just, we may escape the vengeance of heaven but lose the gains of injustice.
      • But, if we are unjust, we shall keep the gains.
        • By our sinning and praying, and praying and sinning, the gods will not punish us.
        • 'But there is a world below where we or our posterity will suffer for our unjust deeds.'
      • Yes, will be the reflection.
      • There are mysteries and atoning deities which have great power.
      • That is what mighty cities declare.
      • The children of the gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like testimony.
  • On what principle, then, shall we choose justice rather than the worst injustice?
    • If we only unite the injustice with deceitful appearances, we accept what the authorities tell us.
    • How can a man who has any superiority of mind, rank, or wealth, be willing to honour justice or refrain from laughing when he hears justice praised?
    • Many people are very ready to forgive the unjust because they know that men are not just of their own free will, unless people have divinity within them, or the knowledge of the trutu, to hate injustice.
    • Many people blame injustice due to cowardice, age, or some weakness.
      • But once they attain the power of being unjust, they immediately become as unjust as possible.
  • Socrates, we indicated the cause of all this at the start of the argument.
  • Glaucon and I were astonished that no one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except with a view to the glories, honours, and benefits which flow from them.
    • This is true from the ancient heroes and up to our own time.
  • No one has ever adequately described in verse or prose the true essential nature of justice or injustice that is abiding in the soul, invisible to any human or divine eye.
  • No one has ever shown that of all the things of a man's soul which he has within him, justice is the greatest good, and injustice the greatest evil.
  • Had this been the universal strain, had you sought to persuade us of this from our youth upwards, we should not have been on the watch to keep one another from doing wrong.
    • Every one would have been his own watchman, because every one would be afraid of harbouring in himself the greatest of evils if he did wrong.
  • Thrasymachus would seriously hold the language which I have said.
    • They would use stronger words on justice and injustice to pervert their true nature.
  • I speak vehemently because I want to hear from you the opposite side.
  • Please show the superiority of justice over injustice and what effect they have on the just man and the unjust man.
  • Please do not include mere appearances of justice and injustice.
    • If you use appearances, then we shall think that you:
      • are only exhorting us to keep injustice dark, and
      • really agree with Thrasymachus in thinking that justice is the interest of the stronger, and injustice is a man's own profit and interest, though injurious to the weaker.
  • You have admitted that justice is one of that highest class of goods which are desired for their results, but in a far greater degree for their own sakes.
  • You see justice like sight, hearing, knowledge or health, or as any other real and natural and not merely conventional good.
  • In your praise of justice, please regard one point only: the essential good and evil which justice and injustice work in the just and unjust man.
  • Let others praise justice and censure injustice, magnifying the rewards and honours of the one and abusing the other.
  • I can tolerate that way of arguing.
  • But you have spent your whole life in this question so I expect something better.
  • Please prove to us that justice is better than injustice.
  • Please show what justice does to the just man, and injustice to the unjust man.

I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus.

I am delighted with these words:

  • Sons of an illustrious father, that was not a bad beginning of the Elegiac verses which the admirer of Glaucon made in honour of you after you had distinguished yourselves at the battle of Megara:
  • 'Sons of Ariston divine offspring of an illustrious hero.'

The epithet is very appropriate.

  • There is something truly divine in being able to argue as you have done for the superiority of injustice, and remaining unconvinced by your own arguments.
  • But the greater my confidence in you, the greater is my difficulty in knowing what to say.
  • On the one hand I feel that I am unequal to the task.
    • You were not satisfied with my answer to Thrasymachus that proved the superiority of justice has over injustice.
  • Yet I cannot refuse to help.
    • It would be improper to hear that justice is evil without lifting a hand in her defence.

Glaucon and the rest wanted to arrive at the truth:

This question is serious and needs very good eyes.

  • We are no great wits.
  • But suppose that a short-sighted person had been asked to read small letters from a distance.
  • It occurred to some one else that they might be found in another place which was larger and in which the letters were larger—
  • If they were the same and he could read the larger letters first, and then proceed to the lesser—this would have been thought a rare piece of good fortune.

Adeimantus: True, but how does the illustration apply to our enquiry?

Justice is sometimes spoken of as the virtue of an individual, and sometimes as the virtue of a State.

  • A State is larger than an individual.
  • Then in the larger the quantity of justice is likely to be larger and more easily discernible.
  • We should enquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and secondly in the individual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them.
  • If we imagine the State in process of creation, we shall see the justice and injustice of the State in process of creation also.
  • When the State is completed there may be a hope that the object of our search will be more easily discovered.
  • But should we to attempt to construct one?
    • To do so, will be a very serious task.
  • A State arises out of the needs of mankind.
    • No one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants.
    • Many persons are needed to supply them.
    • One takes a helper for one purpose and another for another.
    • When these partners and helpers are gathered together in one habitation the body of inhabitants is termed a State.
    • They exchange with one another, and one gives, and another receives, under the idea that the exchange will be for their good.
  • Then let us create in idea a State.
    • The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.
    • Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence.
    • The second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like.
  • Now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great demand.
    • One man is a husbandman, another a builder, some one else a weaver—shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to our bodily wants?
    • The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.
    • How will they proceed?
    • Will each bring the result of his labours into a common stock?
    • The individual husbandman produces for four.
      • He labours four times as long and as much as he needs to provide food for others and himself.
  • Will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them.
  • But provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes, having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his own wants?

Adeimantus: He should aim at producing food only and not at producing everything.

Probably, that would be the better way.

  • When I hear you say this, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike.
  • There are diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different occupations.
  • A person works better when he has only one occupation instead of many.
  • A work is spoilt when not done at the right time
  • Business does not wait when the doer of the business is at leisure.
  • Instead, the doer must follow up what he is doing, and make the business his first object.
  • If so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.
  • Then more than four citizens will be needed.
  • The husbandman will not make his own plough or mattock, or other implements of agriculture, if they are to be good for anything.
  • Neither will the builder make his tools—and he too needs many.
  • Similarly, the weaver and shoemaker.
  • Then carpenters, and smiths, and many other artisans, will be sharers in our little State which is already beginning to grow.
  • Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herdsmen, in order that our husbandmen may have oxen to plough with, and builders as well as husbandmen may have draught cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and hides,—still our State will not be very large.

Yes, but it will not be a very small State either.

Then it is impossible to place a city where nothing needs to be imported.

  • Then there must be another class of citizens who will bring the required supply from another city.
  • A trader must have something to give or produce at home must be not only enough for themselves, but such both in quantity and quality as to accommodate those from whom their wants are supplied.
  • This would require more husbandmen and artisans, merchants who import and export.
  • If merchandise is to be carried over the sea, many skilful sailors will also be needed.
  • They will need a marketplace and money-token to exchange their productions.
    • If a husbandman or an artisan brings some product to market, and no one is available to exchange with him, he will not sit idle in the market-place.
    • He will find people there who, seeing the want, be salesmen.
    • In well-ordered states they are commonly those who are the weakest in bodily strength and are therefore of little use
    • Their duty is to be in the market to give money in exchange for goods to those who desire to sell and to take money from those who desire to buy.
  • This want, then, creates a class of retail-traders in our State.
    • 'Retailer' is the term for to those who sit in the market-place engaged in buying and selling.
    • 'Merchants' are those who wander from one city to another.
    • 'Hirelings' are another class of servants, who are intellectually hardly on the level of companionship.
      • They have plenty of bodily strength for labour which they sell.
      • 'Hire' is the name for the price of their labour.
      • These hirelings help to make up our population.
      • Our state is now matured and perfected.
    • Where, then, is justice, and where is injustice, and in what part of the State did they spring up?

Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another.

  • I cannot imagine that they are more likely to be found any where else.

Correct, let us then consider, first of all, what will be their way of life

  • Will they not produce corn, and wine, and clothes, and shoes, and build houses for themselves?
  • When they are housed, they will work, in summer, commonly, stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantially clothed and shod.
  • They will feed on barley-meal and flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble cakes and loaves.
  • These they will serve up on a mat of reeds or on clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds strewn with yew or myrtle.
  • They and their children will feast, drinking of the wine which they have made, wearing garlands on their heads, and hymning the praises of the gods, in happy converse with one another.
  • They will take care that their families do not exceed their means; having an eye to poverty or war.

Glaucon interposed: But you have not given them a relish to their meal.

Of course they must have a relish—salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare.

  • They shall have figs, and peas, and beans for dessert.
  • They will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation.
  • With such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.
  • You should give them the ordinary conveniences of life.
  • People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.
  • Yes, how is a luxurious State created?
  • Possibly there is no harm in this for in such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate.
  • I think that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of life.
  • They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety.
  • We must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes.
  • The arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.
  • Then we must enlarge our borders, because the original healthy State is not enough.
  • Now will the city have to fill and swell with a multitude of callings which are not required by any natural want.
  • Such as the whole tribe of hunters and actors, of whom one large class have to do with forms and colours.
  • Another will be the votaries of music—poets and their attendant train of rhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors; also makers of divers kinds of articles, including women's dresses.
  • We shall want more servants, tutors, nurses wet and dry, tirewomen and barbers, physicians, as well as confectioners and cooks; and swineherds.
  • They were not needed before in the former version of our State.
  • There will be animals of many other kinds for food.
  • The country is now too small.
  • A slice of our neighbours' land will be wanted by us for pasture and tillage.
  • They will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth.
  • Then we shall go to war with them.
  • Then without determining as yet whether war does good or harm, thus much we may affirm, that now we have discovered war to be derived from causes which are also the causes of almost all the evils in States, private as well as public.
  • Our State must once more enlarge.
  • This time, the enlargement will be nothing short of a whole army, which will have to go out and fight with the invaders for all that we have, as well as for the things and persons whom we were describing above.
  • Why? Can't they defend themselves?
  • No, not if we were right in the principle which was acknowledged by all of us when we were framing the State.
  • The principle, as you will remember, was that one man cannot practise many arts with success.
  • But war is an art, which needs as much attention as shoemaking.
  • The shoemaker was not allowed by us to be a husbandman, or a weaver, or a builder—in order that we might have our shoes well made.
  • But to him and to every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature fitted, and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no other.
  • He was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a good workman.
  • Now nothing can be more important than that the work of a soldier should be well done.
  • But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan.
  • Although no one in the world would be a good dice or draught player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else?
  • No tools will make a man a skilled workman, or master of defence, nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention upon them.
  • How then will he who takes up a shield or other implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy-armed or any other kind of troops?

Yes, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.

The higher the duties of the guardian, the more time, and skill, and art, and application will be needed by him

  • He also require natural aptitude for his calling.
  • Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted for the task of guarding the city.
  • The selection will be no easy matter, but we must be brave and do our best.
  • The noble youth is very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding and watching.
    • both of them should be quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, they have to fight with him.
    • The guardian must be brave if he is to fight well.
  • He is likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or any other animal?
    • Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?
    • Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are required in the guardian.

Yes, all these qualities, will certainly be required.

Of the mental ones; his soul is to be full of spirit.

  • But these spirited natures tend to be savage with one another, and with everybody else.
  • They should be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends.
  • If not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for their enemies to destroy them.
  • How shall we find a gentle nature which has also a great spirit, for the one is the contradiction of the other?
    • He will not be a good guardian who is wanting in either of these two qualities; and yet the combination of them appears to be impossible; and hence we must infer that to be a good guardian is impossible.
    • Here feeling perplexed I began to think over what had preceded.—My friend, I said, no wonder that we are in a perplexity; for we have lost sight of the image which we had before us.
    • There do exist natures gifted with those opposite qualities.
    • Many animals are examples.
      • Our friend the dog is a very good one.
      • Well-bred dogs are perfectly gentle to their familiars and acquaintances, and the reverse to strangers.
      • Then there is nothing impossible or out of the order of nature in our finding a guardian who has a similar combination of qualities.
  • A guardian, besides the spirited nature, needs to have the qualities of a philosopher.
    • a dog, whenever he sees a stranger, is angry
    • when an acquaintance, he welcomes him, although the one has never done him any harm, nor the other any good.
    • This instinct of the dog is very charming;—your dog is a true philosopher because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing.
    • An animal must be a lover of learning if it determines what he likes and dislikes by the test of knowledge and ignorance.
  • Philosophy is the love of learning and wisdom.
    • A man who is likely to be gentle to his friends and acquaintances, must by nature be a lover of wisdom and knowledge.
    • Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength

Then we have found the desired natures.

  • How are they to be reared and educated?
  • Is not this an enquiry which may be expected to throw light on the greater enquiry which is our final end—How do justice and injustice grow up in States?
  • For we do not want either to omit what is to the point or to draw out the argument to an inconvenient length.

Adeimantus: The enquiry would be of great service to us.

We shall do this by story-telling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.

  • What shall be their education?
    • Is there anything better than the traditional education, which is:
      • Gymnastics for the body, and
      • Music and literature, both true and false, for the soul.
  • The young should be trained first with the false literature.
  • We begin by telling children stories which, though not wholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and these stories are told them when they are not of an age to learn gymnastics.
  • That was my meaning when I said that we must teach music before gymnastics.
  • You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.
  • We cannot carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales devised by casual persons.
  • We cannot receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up.
  • Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction.
  • Let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad.
  • We will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorised ones only.
  • Let them fashion the mind with such tales, even more fondly than they mould the body with their hands.
  • But most of those which are now in use must be discarded.
  • You may find a model of the lesser in the greater, for they are necessarily of the same type, and there is the same spirit in both of them.

Very likely, but I do not as yet know what you would term the greater.

Those which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod, and the rest of the poets, who have ever been the great story-tellers of mankind.

Ad: But which stories do you mean and what fault do you find with them?

A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and, what is more, a bad lie.

  • The fault is committed whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods and heroes,—as when a painter paints a portrait not having the shadow of a likeness to the original.
  • First of all, there was that greatest of all lies in high places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too.
  • I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him.
  • The doings of Cronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even if they were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and thoughtless persons; if possible, they had better be buried in silence. But if there is an absolute necessity for their mention, a chosen few might hear them in a mystery, and they should sacrifice not a common (Eleusinian) pig, but some huge and unprocurable victim.
  • Then the number of the hearers will be very few indeed.
  • The young man should not be told that in committing the worst of crimes, he is far from doing anything outrageous.

    • Those stories are quite unfit to be repeated.
    • Our future guardians should not be told about the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for they are not true.
    • We shall never mention the battles of the giants, nor let them be embroidered on garments.
    • We shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends and relatives.
    • We would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel between citizens.
    • This is what old men and old women should begin by telling children.
    • When they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit.
    • The following tales must not be admitted into our State, whether have allegorical meaning or not:
      • the story of Hephaestus binding his mother Hera,
      • How Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was being beaten, and
      • All the battles of the gods in Homer.
    • A young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal.
      • Anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable.
      • Therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.
    • But where are such models to be found?
    • You and I, Adeimantus, now are not poets, but founders of a State.
    • Now the founders of a State should know:
      • the general forms in which poets should cast their tales, and
      • the limits which must be observed by them.
    • But to make the tales is not their business.

Ad: Very true, but what are these forms of theology which you mean?

The kind wherein God is always to be represented as he truly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric or tragic, in which the representation is given.

  • He is not truly good.
  • He must not be represented as such.
  • No good thing is hurtful
  • A thing that is not hurt can do no evil.
  • A thing that does no evil cannot be a cause of evil.
  • The good is advantageous and the cause of well-being.
  • It follows therefore that the good is not the cause of all things, but of the good only.
  • Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert.
    • But he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur to men.
  • For few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the good is to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be sought elsewhere, and not in him.
  • Then we must not listen to Homer or to any other poet who is guilty of the folly of saying that two casks:
    • 'Lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other of evil lots,'
    • that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two
    • 'Sometimes meets with evil fortune, at other times with good;'
    • but that he to whom is given the cup of unmingled ill,
    • 'Him wild hunger drives o'er the beauteous earth.'
    • 'Zeus, who is the dispenser of good and evil to us.'
  • If any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which was really the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athene and Zeus, or that the strife and contention of the gods was instigated by Themis and Zeus, he shall not have our approval; neither will we allow our young men to hear the words of Aeschylus, that:
    • 'God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy a house.'
    • If a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe—the subject of the tragedy in which these iambic verses occur—or of the house of Pelops, or of the Trojan war or on any similar theme, either we must not permit him to say that these are the works of God, or if they are of God, he must devise some explanation of them such as we are seeking.
    • He must say that God did what was just and right, and they were the better for being punished.
    • But that those who are punished are miserable
    • and that God is the author of their misery—the poet is not to be permitted to say
    • though he may say that the wicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving punishment from God.
    • but that God being good is the author of evil to any one is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard in verse or prose by any one whether old or young in any well-ordered commonwealth.
    • Such a fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.

I agree with you, and am ready to give my assent to the law.

Let this then be one of our rules and principles concerning the gods, to which our poets and reciters will be expected to conform,—that God is not the author of all things, but of good only.

  • What do you think of a second principle?
  • Is God is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now in another.
  • Sometimes he himself changing and passing into many forms, sometimes deceiving us with the semblance of such transformations.
  • Or is God one and the same immutably fixed in his own proper image?

I cannot answer you without more thought.

But if we suppose a change in anything, that change must be effected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing.

  • things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered or discomposed.
  • For example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame is least liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant which is in the fullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or any similar causes.
  • The bravest and wisest soul will not be least confused or deranged by any external influence.
  • The same principle applies to all composite things—furniture, houses, garments: when good and well made, they are least altered by time and circumstances.
  • Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature, or both, is least liable to suffer change from without.
  • But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect.
  • Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes.
  • He cannot change and transform himself
  • And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse and more unsightly?

If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.

Very true, but then no one, whether God or man, desire to make himself worse.

  • Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change.
  • Being, as is supposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every God remains absolutely and for ever in his own form.
  • Then, let none of the poets tell us that:
    • 'The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk up and down cities in all sorts of forms.'
    • Let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let any one, either in tragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here disguised in the likeness of a priestess asking an alms.
    • 'For the life-giving daughters of Inachus the river of Argos."
    • —let us have no more lies of that sort.
    • Neither must we have mothers under the influence of the poets scaring their children with a bad version of these myths—telling how certain gods, as they say, 'Go about by night in the likeness of so many strangers and in divers forms;'
    • But let them take heed lest they make cowards of their children, and at the same time speak blasphemy against the gods.
    • But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by witchcraft and deception they may make us think that they appear in various forms?
    • Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie, whether in word or deed, or to put forth a phantom of himself?
    • Do you not know that the true lie, if such an expression may be allowed, is hated of gods and men?
    • No one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest and highest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters.
    • Above all, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.
    • You cannot understand me because you attribute some profound meaning to my words.
    • But I am only saying that deception, or being deceived or uninformed about the highest realities in the highest part of themselves, which is the soul, and in that part of them to have and to hold the lie, is what mankind least like;—that, I say, is what they utterly detest.
    • This ignorance in the soul of him who is deceived may be called the true lie; for the lie in words is only a kind of imitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul, not pure unadulterated falsehood.
    • The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men.
    • Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful.
    • In dealing with enemies—that would be an instance; or again, when those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then it is useful and is a sort of medicine or preventive.
    • also in the tales of mythology, of which we were just now speaking—because we do not know the truth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much like truth as we can, and so turn it to account.
    • But can any of these reasons apply to God?
    • Can we suppose that he is ignorant of antiquity, and therefore has recourse to invention?
    • The lying poet [philosopher] has no place in our idea of God.
      • He does not lie because he is afraid of enemies.
      • He does not have friends who are senseless or mad because a mad or senseless person cannot be a friend of God.
    • Then no motive can be imagined why God should lie.
    • Therefore the superhuman and divine is absolutely incapable of falsehood
    • Then God is perfectly simple and true both in word and deed.
      • He does not change.
      • He does not deceive.
    • This is the second type or form in which we should write and speak about divine things.
      • The gods are not magicians who transform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any way.
    • Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire the lying dream which Zeus sends to Agamemnon.
    • Neither will we praise the verses of Aeschylus in which Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials.
      • 'Was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to be long, and to know no sickness.
      • When he had spoken of my lot as in all things blessed of heaven he raised a note of triumph and cheered my soul.
      • I thought that the word of Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy, would not fail.
      • Now he himself who uttered the strain, he who was present at the banquet, and who said this—he it is who has slain my son.'
    • These are the kind of feelings about the gods which will arouse our anger.
      • He who utters them shall be refused a chorus.
      • Neither shall we allow teachers to make use of them in the instruction of the young, meaning, as we do, that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers of the gods and like them.

I entirely agree, he said, in these principles, and promise to make them my laws.