Simple Republic Book 3 (under construction)

Such are our principles of theology.

  • Some tales are to be told.
  • Other tales are not to be told to our disciples from their youth upwards, if we:
    • mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and
    • value friendship
  • But if they are courageous, they must learn other lessons, like those that will remove the fear of death.
    • A man cannot be courageous if he has fear of death in him.
    • He can be fearless of death if he does not believe that the world below is real and terrible.
  • So we must regulate the narrators of this class of tales.
    • We must beg them not simply to revile but rather to commend the world below
    • We must intimate to them that their descriptions:
      • are untrue, and
      • will do harm to our future warriors.
  • We shall have to obliterate many obnoxious passages, beginning with the verses:
    • 'I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor than rule over all the dead who have come to nought.'
  • We must also expunge the verse, which tells us how Pluto feared:
    • 'Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should be seen both of mortals and immortals.'
    • 'O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly form but no mind at all!'
  • Also the verse of Tiresias:
    • '(To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,) that he alone should be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades.'
    • 'The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamenting her fate, leaving manhood and youth.'
    • 'And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath the earth.'
    • 'As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of them has dropped out of the string and falls from the rock, fly shrilling and cling to one another, so did they with shrilling cry hold together as they moved.'
  • We must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we remove such passages, because the greater their poetical charm, the less are they meet for people who:
    • are meant to be free, and
    • should fear slavery more than death.
  • We shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling names which describe the world below:
    • Cocytus and Styx
    • ghosts under the earth
    • sapless shades
    • any similar words of which the very mention causes a shudder to pass through the inmost soul of him who hears them.
  • These horrible stories are not useless.
    • But there is a danger that the nerves of our guardians may be rendered too excitable and effeminate by them.
    • Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.
    • We shall get rid of the weepings and wailings of famous men.
    • They will go with the rest.
  • Our principle is that the good man will not consider death terrible to any other good man who is his comrade.
    • Therefore he will not be sad for his departed friend as though he had suffered anything terrible.
    • It is sufficient for himself and his own happiness, and therefore is least in need of other men.
    • This is why the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation of fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.
    • Therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with the greatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.
  • Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men, and making them over to women (and not even to women who are good for anything), or to men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated by us to be the defenders of their country may scorn to do the like.
  • Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depict Achilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then on his back, and then on his face.
  • then starting up and sailing in a frenzy along the shores of the barren sea
  • now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands and pouring them over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various modes which Homer has delineated.
  • Nor should he describe Priam the kinsman of the gods as praying and beseeching, 'Rolling in the dirt, calling each man loudly by his name.'
  • Still more earnestly will we beg of him at all events not to introduce the gods lamenting and saying: 'Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the bravest to my sorrow.'
  • But if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so completely to misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make him say—
  • 'O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine chased round and round the city, and my heart is sorrowful.'
  • Woe is me that I am fated to have Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, subdued at the hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius.'
  • For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to such unworthy representations of the gods, instead of laughing at them as they ought, hardly will any of them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be dishonoured by similar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination which may arise in his mind to say and do the like.
  • Instead of having any shame or self-control, he will be always whining and lamenting on slight occasions.
  • But that surely is what ought not to be, as the argument has just proved to us.
  • and by that proof we must abide until it is disproved by a better.
  • Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter.
  • For a fit of laughter which has been indulged to excess almost always produces a violent reaction.
  • Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not be represented as overcome by laughter, and still less must such a representation of the gods be allowed.
  • Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.
    • Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about the gods as that of Homer when he describes how
    • 'Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they saw Hephaestus bustling about the mansion.'

If you like to father them on me; that we must not admit them is certain.

Again, truth should be highly valued.