This assignment is a pro OR con essay. You will be writing either a pro or con 5 page essay. I have explained everything in the word document attached (The Pro and Con essay guide). It is a full detailed step by step on what you need to do. After checking the essay guide, you can find the book attached as well so you can read chapter III.Please follow the guide instructions carefully, as this essay will be graded regarding the steps mentioned in the guide.If you have any questions ask me.Thank you!I will explain what you will need to do so everything will be clear:
In this document I will include the pro and con essay format and the chapter 3 or Book III
First check the essay format:
The “Pro” and “Con” Essay Format
CHOOSE ONE (EITHER PRO OR CON)
– Pro Essay (5 pages)
Pro Introduction: The author (fill in) argues for the following controversial conclusion: (give
conclusion). He supports this conclusion with the following premises: (a) (give first premise) and
(b) (give second premise). This essay will examine each premise in the light of objectors and
then defend the author from these objections.
The possible objection to the first premise (give the objection(s)).
Reply to the first objection (give pointed reply).
The possible objection to the second premise (give the objection(s)).
Reply to the second objection (give pointed reply).
Theoretical observation (this is a broad theoretical groundwork upon which the whole argument
Significance (this is a concrete example from the world in which these issues play out today).
– Con Essay (5 pages)
Con Introduction: The author (fill in) argues for the following controversial conclusion (give
conclusion).He bases his argument on two objectionable premises: (a) (give first premise) and
(b) (give second premise).It will be the contention of this essay that these premises are mistaken
thus rendering the conclusion unproven.
Objection to the first premise (give objection).
Counter-refutation by the author (imagine how the author would respond to your objection)
Counter-refutation against the author (show how the author’s response is inadequate)
Objection to the second premise (give objection).
Counter-refutation by the author (imagine how the author would respond to your objection)
Counter-refutation against the author (show how the author’s response is inadequate)
Theoretical observation (this is a broad theoretical groundwork upon which the whole argument
Significance (this is a concrete example from the world in which these issues play out today).
Now that you know the essay format, I will give you the outline for chapter 3 that you will
be writing about: check next page for Book III outline.
Looking at chapter 3 outline you will notice that there are 19 points; from point 1 to 18: choose 3
points as (premises), and the conclusion/argument will be point 19,
after choosing 3 points read about the points you chose (from the book attached at the question)
and begin writing the essay as explained in the pro and con essay format.
Plato, Republic Book III outline
1.No one in the state should be permitted to lie–especially those who practice a techne—A
2.[Many in the city are unable to understand that the lies that are found in art and poetry are not
to be believed nor acted out in their own lives]–A
3.Some poets like Homer lie and their lies excite unruly behavior on the part of the young men-1,2 (389e)
4.Some poets such as Homer and Aeschylus portray impious sentiments and situations in which
justice does not prevail—F (391d-392 c)
5.[Many in the city will become unjust and impious as the result of viewing such art] 2,4
6.Dramatic dialogue is false because the author really delivers all the lines—A (393b)
7.When the author delivers all the lines art is not “imitative” (as it pretends to be) but “narrative”
through the voice of the author—A (393d)
8.Many think that Kings and great people are speaking the thoughts that are really Homer’s and
be inclined to believe those thoughts thinking they were from kings—A (393d)
9.[Poetry/Drama/Art has the potential to corrupt the citizens of the Republic]–3, 5, 6-8
10.The rulers (and by extention everyone else) in the Republic need to only imitate good
11.[Imitation per se is not a good–only the imitation of the good should be encouraged]–A
12.Didactic art instructs people on the virtues of being a good person—F (399)
13.[Many will imitate the characters and their actions]–A (cf. premise #2)
14.Didactic art should be the choice in the Republic when it positively portrays the virtues of
being a good person–10-13 (401b)
15.The devices of poetry and drama are: good rhythm, good diction, harmony, etc.—F (400-401)
16.The devices of poetry and drama can accompany good messages or bad messages—F (400401)
17.[The devices of poetry and drama can powerfully convey a message–any message]–F
18.[The devices of poetry can work powerfully to corrupt the population] 15-17, 9
19.In order not to corrupt the population, art in the Republic should first be didactic with the
purpose of inculcating the virtues of being a good person–14, 18 (401 c-d)
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 humor 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 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, although
he has not always avoided the confusion of them in his own writings. 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.
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, 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
sympathizing with the struggle for Hellenic independence, 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.
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 recognized, 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 un
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” 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 him.
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 would quickly degenerate. To the perfect
ideal succeeds the government of the soldier and the lover of honor, 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, 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 inquiry, 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 analyzed 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, 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 labors 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 he 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 recognize 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 connection 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 ideal. Or,
described in Christian language, the kingdom of God is within, and yet develops
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. 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
Too much, however, has been made of this question both in ancient and in 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 inquiry “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.
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 organization 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 work.
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, 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 can
not argue historically from the dates in Plato; it would be useless therefore to waste
time in inventing far-fetched reconcilements of them in order 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, 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 Thrasymachus.
Cephalus, the patriarch of 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. iv. 16), 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.
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 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 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 in 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 humor 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, “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, 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” (cf. 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 humor of Socrates and to appreciate the ridiculous,
whether in the connoisseurs of music, or in the lovers of theatricals, or in the
fantastic behavior 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.
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 falls 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. Then 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. i. 4; Phaedo 97); and a deep thinker like him in his
thirty or forty years of public teaching, could hardly have falled to touch on the
nature of family relations, for which there is also some positive evidence in the
Memorabilia (Mem. i. 2, 51 foll.) 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 inquiry 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
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; 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 (‘taphorhtika auto prhospherhontez’): “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 in the second, third, and fourth books, or the marriage of the
portionless maiden in the sixth book, or the drones and wasps in the eighth and
ninth books, also form links of connection in long passages, or are used to recall
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 can not 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
judgment 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 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 analyze 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 read.
Socrates – GLAUCON
I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon the son of Ariston, that I might
offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what
manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted
with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thracians was equally, if not
more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we
turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarchus the son of
Cephalus chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our
way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took
hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: Polemarchus desires you to wait.
I turned round, and asked him where his master was.
There he is, said the youth, coming after you, if you will only wait.
Certainly we will, said Glaucon; and in a few minutes Polemarchus appeared, and
with him Adeimantus, Glaucon’s brother, Niceratus the son of Nicias, and several
others who had been at the procession.
Socrates – POLEMARCHUS – GLAUCON – ADEIMANTUS
Polemarchus said to me: I perceive, Socrates, that you and our companion are
already on your way to the city.
You are not far wrong, I said.
But do you see, he rejoined, how many we are?
And are you stronger than all these? for if not, you will have to remain where you
May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may persuade you to let us go?
But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.
Certainly not, replied Glaucon.
Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured.
Adeimantus added: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in honour of
the goddess which will take place in the evening?
With horses! I replied: That is a novelty. Will horsemen carry torches and pass them
one to another during the race?
Yes, said Polemarchus, and not only so, but a festival will he celebrated at night,
which you certainly ought to see. Let us rise soon after supper and see this festival;
there will be a gathering of young men, and we will have a good talk. Stay then, and
do not be perverse.
Glaucon said: I suppose, since you insist, that we must.
Very good, I replied.
Glaucon – CEPHALUS – SOCRATES
Accordingly we went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found his
brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and with them Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian,
Charmantides the Paeanian, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. There too was
Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I
thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a
garland on his head, for he had been sacrificing in the court; and there were some
other chairs in the room arranged in a semicircle, upon which we sat down by him.
He saluted me eagerly, and then he said:
You don’t come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought: If I were still able to go
and see you I would not ask you to come to me. But at my age I can hardly get to
the city, and therefore you should come oftener to the Piraeus. For let me tell you,
that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure
and charm of conversation. Do not then deny my request, but make our house your
resort and keep company with these young men; we are old friends, and you will be
quite at home with us.
I replied: There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus, than
conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey
which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to enquire, whether the way is
smooth and easy, or rugged and difficult. And this is a question which I should like
to ask of you who have arrived at that time which the poets call the ‘threshold of old
age’ –Is life harder towards the end, or what report do you give of it?
I will tell you, Socrates, he said, what my own feeling is. Men of my age flock
together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says; and at our meetings the
tale of my acquaintance commonly is –I cannot eat, I cannot drink; the pleasures of
youth and love are fled away: there was a good time once, but now that is gone, and
life is no longer life. Some complain of the slights which are put upon them by
relations, and they will tell you sadly of how many evils their old age is the cause.
But to me, Socrates, these complainers seem to blame that which is not really in
fault. For if old age were the cause, I too being old, and every other old man, would
have felt as they do. But this is not my own experience, nor that of others whom I
have known. How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles, when in answer to the
question, How does love suit with age, Sophocles, –are you still the man you were?
Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as
if I had escaped from a mad and furious master. His words have often occurred to
my mind since, and they seem as good to me now as at the time when he uttered
them. For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the
passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the grasp not
of one mad master only, but of many. The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and
also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause, which is
not old age, but men’s characters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy
nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite
disposition youth and age are equally a burden.
I listened in admiration, and wanting to draw him out, that he might go on –Yes,
Cephalus, I said: but I rather suspect that people in general are not convinced by
you when you speak thus; they think that old age sits lightly upon you, not because
of your happy disposition, but because you are rich, and wealth is well known to be
a great comforter.
You are right, he replied; they are not convinced: and there is something in what
they say; not, however, so much as they imagine. I might answer them as
Themistocles answered the Seriphian who was abusing him and saying that he was
famous, not for his own merits but because he was an Athenian: ‘If you had been a
native of my country or I of yours, neither of us would have been famous.’ And to
those who are not rich and are impatient of old age, the same reply may be made;
for to the good poor man old age cannot be a light burden, nor can a bad rich man
ever have peace with himself.
May I ask, Cephalus, whether your fortune was for the most part inherited or
acquired by you?
Acquired! Socrates; do you want to know how much I acquired? In the art of
making money I have been midway between my father and grandfather: for my
grandfather, whose name I bear, doubled and trebled the value of his patrimony,
that which he inherited being much what I possess now; but my father Lysanias
reduced the property below what it is at present: and I shall be satisfied if I leave to
these my sons not less but a little more than I received.
That was why I asked you the question, I replied, because I see that you are
indifferent about money, which is a characteristic rather of those who have inherited
their fortunes than of those who have acquired them; the makers of fortunes have a
second love of money as a creation of their own, resembling the affection of authors
for their own poems, or of parents for their children, besides that natural love of it
for the sake of use and profit which is common to them and all men. And hence
they are very bad company, for they can talk about nothing but the praises of
wealth. That is true, he said.
Yes, that is very true, but may I ask another question? What do you consider to be
the greatest blessing which you have reaped from your wealth?
One, he said, of which I could not expect easily to convince others. For let me tell
you, Socrates, that when a man thinks himself to be near death, fears and cares enter
into his mind which he never had before; the tales of a world below and the
punishment which is exacted there of deeds done here were once a laughing matter
to him, but now he is tormented with the thought that they may be true: either from
the weakness of age, or because he is now drawing nearer to that other place, he has
a clearer view of these things; suspicions and alarms crowd thickly upon him, and
he begins to reflect and consider what wrongs he has done to others. And when he
finds that the sum of his transgressions is great he will many a time like a child start
up in his sleep for fear, and he is filled with dark forebodings. But to him who is
conscious of no sin, sweet hope, as Pindar charmingly says, is the kind nurse of his
Hope, he says, cherishes the soul of him who lives in justice and holiness and is the
nurse of his age and the companion of his journey; –hope which is mightiest to
sway the restless soul of man.
How admirable are his words! And the great blessing of riches, I do not say to every
man, but to a good man, is, that he has had no occasion to deceive or to defraud
others, either intentionally or unintentionally; and when he departs to the world
below he is not in any apprehension about offerings due to the gods or debts which
he owes to men. Now to this peace of mind the possession of wealth greatly
contributes; and therefore I say, that, setting one thing against another, of the many
advantages which wealth has to give, to a man of sense this is in my opinion the
Well said, Cephalus, I replied; but as concerning justice, what is it? – to speak the
truth and to pay your debts – no more than this? And even to this are there not
exceptions? Suppose that a friend when in his right mind has deposited arms with
me and he asks for them when he is not in his right mind, ought I to give them back
to him? No one would say that I ought or that I should be right in doing so, any
more than they would say that I ought always to speak the truth to one who is in his
You are quite right, he replied.
But then, I said, speaking the truth and paying your debts is not a correct definition
Cephalus – SOCRATES – POLEMARCHUS
Quite correct, Socrates, if Simonides is to be believed, said Polemarchus
I fear, said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look after the sacrifices, and
I hand over the argument to Polemarchus and the company.
Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.
To be sure, he answered, and went away laughing to the sacrifices.
Socrates – POLEMARCHUS
Tell me then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simonides say, and according
to you truly say, about justice?
He said that the repayment of a debt is just, and in saying so he appears to me to be
I should be sorry to doubt the word of such a wise and inspired man, but his
meaning, though probably clear to you, is the reverse of clear to me. For he
certainly does not mean, as we were now saying that I ought to return a return a
deposit of arms or of anything else to one who asks for it when he is not in his right
senses; and yet a deposit cannot be denied to be a debt.
Then when the person who asks me is not in his right mind I am by no means to
make the return?
When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not mean to
include that case?
Certainly not; for he thinks that a friend ought always to do good to a friend and
You mean that the return of a deposit of gold which is to the injury of the receiver,
if the two parties are friends, is not the repayment of a debt, –that is what you
would imagine him to say?
And are enemies also to receive what we owe to them?
To be sure, he said, they are to receive what we owe them, and an enemy, as I take
it, owes to an enemy that which is due or proper to him –that is to say, evil.
Simonides, then, after the manner of poets, would seem to have spoken darkly of
the nature of justice; for he really meant to say that justice is the giving to each man
what is proper to him, and this he termed a debt.
That must have been his meaning, he said.
By heaven! I replied; and if we asked him what due or proper thing is given by
medicine, and to whom, what answer do you think that he would make to us?
He would surely reply that medicine gives drugs and meat and drink to human
And what due or proper thing is given by cookery, and to what?
Seasoning to food.
And what is that which justice gives, and to whom?
If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the preceding instances,
then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.
That is his meaning then?
I think so.
And who is best able to do good to his friends and evil to his enemies in time of
Or when they are on a voyage, amid the perils of the sea?
And in what sort of actions or with a view to what result is the just man most able to
do harm to his enemy and good to his friends?
In going to war against the one and in making alliances with the other.
But when a man is well, my dear Polemarchus, there is no need of a physician?
And he who is not on a voyage has no need of a pilot?
Then in time of peace justice will be of no use?
I am very far from thinking so.
You think that justice may be of use in peace as well as in war?
Like husbandry for the acquisition of corn?
Or like shoemaking for the acquisition of shoes, –that is what you mean?
And what similar use or power of acquisition has justice in time of peace?
In contracts, Socrates, justice is of use.
And by contracts you mean partnerships?
But is the just man or the skilful player a more useful and better partner at a game
The skilful player.
And in the laying of bricks and stones is the just man a more useful or better partner
than the builder?
Quite the reverse.
Then in what sort of partnership is the just man a better partner than the harpplayer, as in playing the harp the harp-player is certainly a better partner than the
In a money partnership.
Yes, Polemarchus, but surely not in the use of money; for you do not want a just
man to be your counsellor the purchase or sale of a horse; a man who is knowing
about horses would be better for that, would he not?
And when you want to buy a ship, the shipwright or the pilot would be better?
Then what is that joint use of silver or gold in which the just man is to be preferred?
When you want a deposit to be kept safely.
You mean when money is not wanted, but allowed to lie?
That is to say, justice is useful when money is useless?
That is the inference.
And when you want to keep a pruning-hook safe, then justice is useful to the
individual and to the state; but when you want to use it, then the art of the vinedresser?
And when you want to keep a shield or a lyre, and not to use them, you would say
that justice is useful; but when you want to use them, then the art of the soldier or of
And so of all the other things; –justice is useful when they are useless, and useless
when they are useful?
That is the inference.
Then justice is not good for much. But let us consider this further point: Is not he
who can best strike a blow in a boxing match or in any kind of fighting best able to
ward off a blow?
And he who is most skilful in preventing or escaping from a disease is best able to
And he is the best guard of a camp who is best able to steal a march upon the
Then he who is a good keeper of anything is also a good thief?
That, I suppose, is to be inferred.
Then if the just man is good at keeping money, he is good at stealing it.
That is implied in the argument.
Then after all the just man has turned out to be a thief. And this is a lesson which I
suspect you must have learnt out of Homer; for he, speaking of Autolycus, the
maternal grandfather of Odysseus, who is a favourite of his, affirms that
He was excellent above all men in theft and perjury. And so, you and Homer and
Simonides are agreed that justice is an art of theft; to be practised however ‘for the
good of friends and for the harm of enemies,’ –that was what you were saying?
No, certainly not that, though I do not now know what I did say; but I still stand by
the latter words.
Well, there is another question: By friends and enemies do we mean those who are
so really, or only in seeming?
Surely, he said, a man may be expected to love those whom he thinks good, and to
hate those whom he thinks evil.
Yes, but do not persons often err about good and evil: many who are not good seem
to be so, and conversely?
That is true.
Then to them the good will be enemies and the evil will be their friends? True.
And in that case they will be right in doing good to the evil and evil to the good?
But the good are just and would not do an injustice?
Then according to your argument it is just to injure those who do no wrong?
Nay, Socrates; the doctrine is immoral.
Then I suppose that we ought to do good to the just and harm to the unjust?
I like that better.
But see the consequence: – Many a man who is ignorant of human nature has
friends who are bad friends, and in that case he ought to do harm to them; and he
has good enemies whom he ought to benefit; but, if so, we shall be saying the very
opposite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of Simonides.
Very true, he said: and I think that we had better correct an error into which we
seem to have fallen in the use of the words ‘friend’ and ‘enemy.’
What was the error, Polemarchus? I asked.
We assumed that he is a friend who seems to be or who is thought good.
And how is the error to be corrected?
We should rather say that he is a friend who is, as well as seems, good; and that he
who seems only, and is not good, only seems to be and is not a friend; and of an
enemy the same may be said.
You would argue that the good are our friends and the bad our enemies?
And instead of saying simply as we did at first, that it is just to do good to our
friends and harm to our enemies, we should further say: It is just to do good to our
friends when they are good and harm to our enemies when they are evil?
Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.
But ought the just to injure any one at all?
Undoubtedly he ought to injure those who are both wicked and his enemies.
When horses are injured, are they improved or deteriorated?
Deteriorated, that is to say, in the good qualities of horses, not of dogs?
Yes, of horses.
And dogs are deteriorated in the good qualities of dogs, and not of horses?
And will not men who are injured be deteriorated in that which is the proper virtue
And that human virtue is justice?
To be sure.
Then men who are injured are of necessity made unjust?
That is the result.
But can the musician by his art make men unmusical?
Or the horseman by his art make them bad horsemen?
And can the just by justice make men unjust, or speaking general can the good by
virtue make them bad?
Any more than heat can produce cold?
Or drought moisture?
Nor can the good harm any one?
And the just is the good?
Then to injure a friend or any one else is not the act of a just man, but of the
opposite, who is the unjust?
I think that what you say is quite true, Socrates.
Then if a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and that good is
the debt which a man owes to his friends, and evil the debt which he owes to his
enemies, –to say this is not wise; for it is not true, if, as has been clearly shown, the
injuring of another can be in no case just.
I agree with you, said Polemarchus.
Then you and I are prepared to take up arms against any one who attributes such a
saying to Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any other wise man or seer?
I am quite ready to do battle at your side, he said.
Shall I tell you whose I believe the saying to be?
I believe that Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban, or some
other rich and mighty man, who had a great opinion of his own power, was the first
to say that justice is ‘doing good to your friends and harm to your enemies.’
Most true, he said.
Yes, I said; but if this definition of justice also breaks down, what other can be
Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus had made an attempt to
get the argument into his own hands, and had been put down by the rest of the
company, who wanted to hear the end. But when Polemarchus and I had done
speaking and there was a pause, he could no longer hold his peace; and, gathering
himself up, he came at us like a wild beast, seeking to devour us. We were quite
panic-stricken at the sight of him.
Socrates – POLEMARCHUS – THRASYMACHUS
He roared out to the whole company: What folly. Socrates, has taken possession of
you all? And why, sillybillies, do you knock under to one another? I say that if you
want really to know what justice is, you should not only ask but answer, and you
should not seek honour to yourself from the refutation of an opponent, but have
your own answer; for there is many a one who can ask and cannot answer. And now
I will not have you say that justice is duty or advantage or profit or gain or interest,
for this sort of nonsense will not do for me; I must have clearness and accuracy.
I was panic-stricken at his words, and could not look at him without trembling.
Indeed I believe that if I had not fixed my eye upon him, I should have been struck
dumb: but when I saw his fury rising, I looked at him first, and was therefore able to
reply to him.
Thrasymachus, I said, with a quiver, don’t be hard upon us. Polemarchus and I may
have been guilty of a little mistake in the argument, but I can assure you that the
error was not intentional. If we were seeking for a piece of gold, you would not
imagine that we were ‘knocking under to one another,’ and so losing our chance of
finding it. And why, when we are seeking for justice, a thing more precious than
many pieces of gold, do you say that we are weakly yielding to one another and not
doing our utmost to get at the truth? Nay, my good friend, we are most willing and
anxious to do so, but the fact is that we cannot. And if so, you people who know all
things should pity us and not be angry with us.
How characteristic of Socrates! he replied, with a bitter laugh; –that’s your ironical
style! Did I not foresee –have I not already told you, that whatever he was asked he
would refuse to answer, and try irony or any other shuffle, in order that he might
You are a philosopher, Thrasymachus, I replied, and well know that if you ask a
person what numbers make up twelve, taking care to prohibit him whom you ask
from answering twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four times three,
‘for this sort of nonsense will not do for me,’ –then obviously, that is your way of
putting the question, no one can answer you. But suppose that he were to retort,
‘Thrasymachus, what do you mean? If one of these numbers which you interdict be
the true answer to the question, am I falsely to say some other number which is not
the right one? –is that your meaning?’ -How would you answer him?
Just as if the two cases were at all alike! he said.
Why should they not be? I replied; and even if they are not, but only appear to be so
to the person who is asked, ought he not to say what he thinks, whether you and I
forbid him or not?
I presume then that you are going to make one of the interdicted answers?
I dare say that I may, notwithstanding the danger, if upon reflection I approve of
any of them.
But what if I give you an answer about justice other and better, he said, than any of
these? What do you deserve to have done to you?
Done to me! – as becomes the ignorant, I must learn from the wise – that is what I
deserve to have done to me.
What, and no payment! a pleasant notion!
I will pay when I have the money, I replied.
Socrates – THRASYMACHUS – GLAUCON
But you have, Socrates, said Glaucon: and you, Thrasymachus, need be under no
anxiety about money, for we will all make a contribution for Socrates.
Yes, he replied, and then Socrates will do as he always does –refuse to answer
himself, but take and pull to pieces the answer of some one else.
Why, my good friend, I said, how can any one answer who knows, and says that he
knows, just nothing; and who, even if he has some faint notions of his own, is told
by a man of authority not to utter them? The natural thing is, that the speaker should
be some one like yourself who professes to know and can tell what he knows. Will
you then kindly answer, for the edification of the company and of myself ?
Glaucon and the rest of the company joined in my request and Thrasymachus, as
any one might see, was in reality eager to speak; for he thought that he had an
excellent answer, and would distinguish himself. But at first he to insist on my
answering; at length he consented to begin. Behold, he said, the wisdom of
Socrates; he refuses to teach himself, and goes about learning of others, to whom he
never even says thank you.
That I learn of others, I replied, is quite true; but that I am ungrateful I wholly deny.
Money I have none, and therefore I pay in praise, which is all I have: and how ready
I am to praise any one who appears to me to speak well you will very soon find out
when you answer; for I expect that you will answer well.
Listen, then, he said; I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the
stronger. And now why do you not me? But of course you won’t.
Let me first understand you, I replied. justice, as you say, is the interest of the
stronger. What, Thrasymachus, is the meaning of this? You cannot mean to say that
because Polydamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are, and finds the eating of
beef conducive to his bodily strength, that to eat beef is therefore equally for our
good who are weaker than he is, and right and just for us?
That’s abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in the sense which is most
damaging to the argument.
Not at all, my good sir, I said; I am trying to understand them; and I wish that you
would be a little clearer.
Well, he said, have you never heard that forms of government differ; there are
tyrannies, and there are democracies, and there are aristocracies?
Yes, I know.
And the government is the ruling power in each state?
And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical,
tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by
them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and
him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust. And that
is what I mean when I say that in all states there is the same principle of justice,
which is the interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to
have power, the only reasonable conclusion is, that everywhere there is one
principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger.
Now I understand you, I said; and whether you are right or not I will try to discover.
But let me remark, that in defining justice you have yourself used the word ‘interest’
which you forbade me to use. It is true, however, that in your definition the words
‘of the stronger’ are added.
A small addition, you must allow, he said.
Great or small, never mind about that: we must first enquire whether what you are
saying is the truth. Now we are both agreed that justice is interest of some sort, but
you go on to say ‘of the stronger’; about this addition I am not so sure, and must
therefore consider further.
I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for subjects to obey their rulers?
But are the rulers of states absolutely infallible, or are they sometimes liable to err?
To be sure, he replied, they are liable to err.
Then in making their laws they may sometimes make them rightly, and sometimes
When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest; when
they are mistaken, contrary to their interest; you admit that?
And the laws which they make must be obeyed by their subjects, –and that is what
you call justice?
Then justice, according to your argument, is not only obedience to the interest of
the stronger but the reverse?
What is that you are saying? he asked.
I am only repeating what you are saying, I believe. But let us consider: Have we not
admitted that the rulers may be mistaken about their own interest in what they
command, and also that to obey them is justice? Has not that been admitted?
Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest of the
stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done which are to
their own injury. For if, as you say, justice is the obedience which the subject
renders to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men, is there any escape from
the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to do, not what is for the interest,
but what is for the injury of the stronger?
Nothing can be clearer, Socrates, said Polemarchus.
Socrates – CLEITOPHON – POLEMARCHUS – THRASYMACHUS
Yes, said Cleitophon, interposing, if you are allowed to be his witness.
But there is no need of any witness, said Polemarchus, for Thrasymachus himself
acknowledges that rulers may sometimes command what is not for their own
interest, and that for subjects to obey them is justice.
Yes, Polemarchus, –Thrasymachus said that for subjects to do what was
commanded by their rulers is just.
Yes, Cleitophon, but he also said that justice is the interest of the stronger, and,
while admitting both these propositions, he further acknowledged that the stronger
may command the weaker who are his subjects to do what is not for his own
interest; whence follows that justice is the injury quite as much as the interest of the
But, said Cleitophon, he meant by the interest of the stronger what the stronger
thought to be his interest, – this was what the weaker had to do; and this was
affirmed by him to be justice.
Those were not his words, rejoined Polemarchus.
Socrates – THRASYMACHUS
Never mind, I replied, if he now says that they are, let us accept his statement. Tell
me, Thrasymachus, I said, did you mean by justice what the stronger thought to be
his interest, whether really so or not?
Certainly not, he said. Do you suppose that I call him who is mistaken the stronger
at the time when he is mistaken?
Yes, I said, my impression was that you did so, when you admitted that the ruler
was not infallible but might be sometimes mistaken.
You argue like an informer, Socrates. Do you mean, for example, that he who is
mistaken about the sick is a physician in that he is mistaken? or that he who errs in
arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian at the me when he is
making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True, we say that the physician or
arithmetician or grammarian has made a mistake, but this is only a way of speaking;
for the fact is that neither the grammarian nor any other person of skill ever makes a
mistake in so far as he is what his name implies; they none of them err unless their
skill fails them, and then they cease to be skilled artists. No artist or sage or ruler
errs at the time when he is what his name implies; though he is commonly said to
err, and I adopted the common mode of speaking. But to be perfectly accurate, since
you are such a lover of accuracy, we should say that the ruler, in so far as he is the
ruler, is unerring, and, being unerring, always commands that which is for his own
interest; and the subject is required to execute his commands; and therefore, as I
said at first and now repeat, justice is the interest of the stronger.
Indeed, Thrasymachus, and do I really appear to you to argue like an informer?
Certainly, he replied.
And you suppose that I ask these questions with any design of injuring you in the
Nay, he replied, ‘suppose’ is not the word – I know it; but you will be found out, and
by sheer force of argument you will never prevail.
I shall not make the attempt, my dear man; but to avoid any misunderstanding
occurring between us in future, let me ask, in what sense do you speak of a ruler or
stronger whose interest, as you were saying, he being the superior, it is just that the
inferior should execute – is he a ruler in the popular or in the strict sense of the
In the strictest of all senses, he said. And now cheat and play the informer if you
can; I ask no quarter at your hands. But you never will be able, never.
And do you imagine, I said, that I am such a madman as to try and cheat,
Thrasymachus? I might as well shave a lion.
Why, he said, you made the attempt a minute ago, and you failed.
Enough, I said, of these civilities. It will be better that I should ask you a question:
Is the physician, taken in that strict sense of which you are speaking, a healer of the
sick or a maker of money? And remember that I am now speaking of the true
A healer of the sick, he replied.
And the pilot – that is to say, the true pilot –is he a captain of sailors or a mere
A captain of sailors.
The circumstance that he sails in the ship is not to be taken into account; neither is
he to be called a sailor; the name pilot by which he is distinguished has nothing to
do with sailing, but is significant of his skill and of his authority over the sailors.
Very true, he said.
Now, I said, every art has an interest?
For which the art has to consider and provide?
Yes, that is the aim of art.
And the interest of any art is the perfection of it – this and nothing else?
What do you mean?
I mean what I may illustrate negatively by the example of the body. Suppose you
were to ask me whether the body is self-sufficing or has wants, I should reply:
Certainly the body has wants; for the body may be ill and require to be cured, and
has therefore interests to which the art of medicine ministers; and this is the origin
and intention of medicine, as you will acknowledge. Am I not right?
Quite right, he replied.
But is the art of medicine or any other art faulty or deficient in any quality in the
same way that the eye may be deficient in sight or the ear fail of hearing, and
therefore requires another art to provide for the interests of seeing and hearing – has
art in itself, I say, any similar liability to fault or defect, and does every art require
another supplementary art to provide for its interests, and that another and another
without end? Or have the arts to look only after their own interests? Or have they no
need either of themselves or of another? – having no faults or defects, they have no
need to correct them, either by the exercise of their own art or of any other; they
have only to consider the interest of their subject-matter. For every art remains pure
and faultless while remaining true – that is to say, while perfect and unimpaired.
Take the words in your precise sense, and tell me whether I am not right.”
Then medicine does not consider the interest of medicine, but the interest of the
True, he said.
Nor does the art of horsemanship consider the interests of the art of horsemanship,
but the interests of the horse; neither do any other arts care for themselves, for they
have no needs; they care only for that which is the subject of their art?
True, he said.
But surely, Thrasymachus, the arts are the superiors and rulers of their own
To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.
Then, I said, no science or art considers or enjoins the interest of the stronger or
superior, but only the interest of the subject and weaker?
He made an attempt to contest this proposition also, but finally acquiesced.
Then, I continued, no physician, in so far as he is a physician, considers his own
good in what he prescribes, but the good of his patient; for the true physician is also
a ruler having the human body as a subject, and is not a mere money-maker; that
has been admitted?
And the pilot likewise, in the strict sense of the term, is a ruler of sailors and not a
That has been admitted.
And such a pilot and ruler will provide and prescribe for the interest of the sailor
who is under him, and not for his own or the ruler’s interest?
He gave a reluctant ‘Yes.’
Then, I said, Thrasymachus, there is no one in any rule who, in so far as he is a
ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his own interest, but always what is for the
interest of his subject or suitable to his art; to that he looks, and that alone he
considers in everything which he says and does.
When we had got to this point in the argument, and every one saw that the
definition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead of replying
to me, said: Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?
Why do you ask such a question, I said, when you ought rather to be answering?
Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose: she has not even
taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.
What makes you say that? I replied.
Because you fancy that the shepherd or neatherd fattens of tends the sheep or oxen
with a view to their own good and not to the good of himself or his master; and you
further imagine that the rulers of states, if they are true rulers, never think of their
subjects as sheep, and that they are not studying their own advantage day and night.
Oh, no; and so entirely astray are you in your ideas about the just and unjust as not
even to know that justice and the just are in reality another’s good; that is to say, the
interest of the ruler and stronger, and the loss of the subject and servant; and
injustice the opposite; for the unjust is lord over the truly simple and just: he is the
stronger, and his subjects do what is for his interest, and minister to his happiness,
which is very far from being their own. Consider further, most foolish Socrates, that
the just is always a loser in comparison with the unjust. First of all, in private
contracts: wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you will find that, when the
partnership is dissolved, the unjust man has always more and the just less.
Secondly, in their dealings with the State: when there is an income tax, the just man
will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income; and when there is
anything to be received the one gains nothing and the other much. Observe also
what happens when they take an office; there is the just man neglecting his affairs
and perhaps suffering other losses, and getting nothing out of the public, because he
is just; moreover he is hated by his friends and acquaintance for refusing to serve
them in unlawful ways. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjust man. I am
speaking, as before, of injustice on a large scale in which the advantage of the
unjust is more apparent; and my meaning will be most clearly seen if we turn to that
highest form of injustice in which the criminal is the happiest of men, and the
sufferers or those who refuse to do injustice are the most miserable – that is to say
tyranny, which by fraud and force takes away the property of others, not little by
little but wholesale; comprehending in one, things sacred as well as profane, private
and public; for which acts of wrong, if he were detected perpetrating any one of
them singly, he would be punished and incur great disgrace – they who do such
wrong in particular cases are called robbers of temples, and man-stealers and
burglars and swindlers and thieves. But when a man besides taking away the money
of the citizens has made slaves of them, then, instead of these names of reproach, he
is termed happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by all who hear of his
having achieved the consummation of injustice. For mankind censure injustice,
fearing that they may be the victims of it and not because they shrink from
committing it. And thus, as I have shown, Socrates, injustice, when on a sufficient
scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice; and, as I said at first,
justice is the interest of the stronger, whereas injustice is a man’s own profit and
Thrasymachus, when he had thus spoken, having, like a bathman, deluged our ears
with his words, had a mind to go away. But the company would not let him; they
insisted that he should remain and defend his position; and I myself added my own
humble request that he would not leave us. Thrasymachus, I said to him, excellent
man, how suggestive are your remarks! And are you going to run away before you
have fairly taught or learned whether they are true or not? Is the attempt to
determine the way of man’s life so small a matter in your eyes – to determine how
life may be passed by each one of us to the greatest advantage?
And do I differ from you, he said, as to the importance of the enquiry?
You appear rather, I replied, to have no care or thought about us, Thrasymachus whether we live better or worse from not knowing what you say you know, is to
you a matter of indifference. Prithee, friend, do not keep your knowledge to
yourself; we are a large party; and any benefit which you confer upon us will be
amply rewarded. For my own part I openly declare that I am not convinced, and that
I do not believe injustice to be more gainful than justice, even if uncontrolled and
allowed to have free play. For, granting that there may be an unjust man who is able
to commit injustice either by fraud or force, still this does not convince me of the
superior advantage of injustice, and there may be others who are in the same
predicament with myself. Perhaps we may be wrong; if so, you in your wisdom
should convince us that we are mistaken in preferring justice to injustice.
And how am I to convince you, he said, if you are not already convinced by what I
have just said; what more can I do for you? Would you have me put the proof
bodily into your souls?
Heaven forbid! I said; I would only ask you to be consistent; or, if you change,
change openly and let there be no deception. For I must remark, Thrasymachus, if
you will recall what was previously said, that although you began by defining the
true physician in an exact sense, you did not observe a like exactness when
speaking of the shepherd; you thought that the shepherd as a shepherd tends the
sheep not with a view to their own good, but like a mere diner or banqueter with a
view to the pleasures of the table; or, again, as a trader for sale in the market, and
not as a shepherd. Yet surely the art of the shepherd is concerned only with the
good of his subjects; he has only to provide the best for them, since the perfection
of the art is already ensured whenever all the requirements of it are satisfied. And
that was what I was saying just now about the ruler. I conceived that the art of the
ruler, considered as ruler, whether in a state or in private life, could only regard the
good of his flock or subjects; whereas you seem to think that the rulers in states,
that is to say, the true rulers, like being in authority.
Think! Nay, I am sure of it.
Then why in the case of lesser offices do men never take them willingly without
payment, unless under the idea that they govern for the advantage not of themselves
but of others? Let me ask you a question: Are not the several arts different, by
reason of their each having a separate function? And, my dear illustrious friend, do
say what you think, that we may make a little progress.
Yes, that is the difference, he replied.
And each art gives us a particular good and not merely a general one – medicine, for
example, gives us health; navigation, safety at sea, and so on?
Yes, he said.
And the art of payment has the special function of giving pay: but we do not
confuse this with other arts, any more than the art of the pilot is to be confused with
the art of medicine, because the health of the pilot may be improved by a sea
voyage. You would not be inclined to say, would you, that navigation is the art of
medicine, at least if we are to adopt your exact use of language?
Or because a man is in good health when he receives pay you would not say that the
art of payment is medicine?
I should say not.
Nor would you say that medicine is the art of receiving pay because a man takes
fees when he is engaged in healing?
And we have admitted, I said, that the good of each art is specially confined to the
Then, if there be any good which all artists have in common, that is to be attributed
to something of which they all have the common use?
True, he replied.
And when the artist is benefited by receiving pay the advantage is gained by an
additional use of the art of pay, which is not the art professed by him?
He gave a reluctant assent to this.
Then the pay is not derived by the several artists from their respective arts. But the
truth is, that while the art of medicine gives health, and the art of the builder builds
a house, another art attends them which is the art of pay. The various arts may be
doing their own business and benefiting that over which they preside, but would the
artist receive any benefit from his art unless he were paid as well?
I suppose not.
But does he therefore confer no benefit when he works for nothing?
Certainly, he confers a benefit.
Then now, Thrasymachus, there is no longer any doubt that neither arts nor
governments provide for their own interests; but, as we were before saying, they
rule and provide for the interests of their subjects who are the weaker and not the
stronger – to their good they attend and not to the good of the superior.
And this is the reason, my dear Thrasymachus, why, as I was just now saying, no
one is willing to govern; because no one likes to take in hand the reformation of
evils which are not his concern without remuneration. For, in the execution of his
work, and in giving his orders to another, the true artist does not regard his own
interest, but always that of his subjects; and therefore in order that rulers may be
willing to rule, they must be paid in one of three modes of payment: money, or
honour, or a penalty for refusing.
Socrates – GLAUCON
What do you mean, Socrates? said Glaucon. The first two modes of payment are
intelligible enough, but what the penalty is I do not understand, or how a penalty
can be a payment.
You mean that you do not understand the nature of this payment which to the best
men is the great inducement to rule? Of course you know that ambition and avarice
are held to be, as indeed they are, a disgrace?
And for this reason, I said, money and honour have no attraction for them; good
men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the
name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to
get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care about honour.
Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve
from the fear of punishment. And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the
forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed
dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule
is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And the fear of this, as I
conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they
cannot help – not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or
enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit
the task of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For
there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to
avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at
present; then we should have plain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to
regard his own interest, but that of his subjects; and every one who knew this would
choose rather to receive a benefit from another than to have the trouble of
conferring one. So far am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that justice is the
interest of the stronger. This latter question need not be further discussed at present;
but when Thrasymachus says that the life of the unjust is more advantageous than
that of the just, his new statement appears to me to be of a far more serious
character. Which of us has spoken truly? And which sort of life, Glaucon, do you
I for my part deem the life of the just to be the more advantageous, he answered.
Did you hear all the advantages of the unjust which Thrasymachus was rehearsing?
Yes, I heard him, he replied, but he has not convinced me.
Then shall we try to find some way of convincing him, if we can, that he is saying
what is not true?
Most certainly, he replied.
If, I said, he makes a set speech and we make another recounting all the advantages
of being just, and he answers and we rejoin, there must be a numbering and
measuring of the goods which are claimed on either side, and in the end we shall
want judges to decide; but if we proceed in our enquiry as we lately did, by making
admissions to one another, we shall unite the offices of judge and advocate in our
Very good, he said.
And which method do I understand you to prefer? I said.
That which you propose.
Well, then, Thrasymachus, I said, suppose you begin at the beginning and answer
me. You say that perfect injustice is more gainful than perfect justice?
Socrates – GLAUCON – THRASYMACHUS
Yes, that is what I say, and I have given you my reasons.
And what is your view about them? Would you call one of them virtue and the
I suppose that you would call justice virtue and injustice vice?
What a charming notion! So likely too, seeing that I affirm injustice to be profitable
and justice not.
What else then would you say?
The opposite, he replied.
And would you call justice vice?
No, I would rather say sublime simplicity.
Then would you call injustice malignity?
No; I would rather say discretion.
And do the unjust appear to you to be wise and good?
Yes, he said; at any rate those of them who are able to be perfectly unjust, and who
have the power of subduing states and nations; but perhaps you imagine me to be
talking of cutpurses.
Even this profession if undetected has advantages, though they are not to be
compared with those of which I was just now speaking.
I do not think that I misapprehend your meaning, Thrasymachus, I replied; but still I
cannot hear without amazement that you class injustice with wisdom and virtue, and
justice with the opposite.
Certainly I do so class them.
Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unanswerable ground; for if the
injustice which you were maintaining to be profitable had been admitted by you as
by others to be vice and deformity, an answer might have been given to you on
received principles; but now I perceive that you will call injustice honourable and
strong, and to the unjust you will attribute all the qualities which were attributed by
us before to the just, seeing that you do not hesitate to rank injustice with wisdom
You have guessed most infallibly, he replied.
Then I certainly ought not to shrink from going through with the argument so long
as I have reason to think that you, Thrasymachus, are speaking your real mind; for I
do believe that you are now in earnest and are not amusing yourself at our expense.
I may be in earnest or not, but what is that to you? – to refute the argument is your
Very true, I said; that is what I have to do: But will you be so good as answer yet
one more question? Does the just man try to gain any advantage over the just?
Far otherwise; if he did he would not be the simple, amusing creature which he is.
And would he try to go beyond just action?
He would not.
And how would he regard the attempt to gain an advantage over the unjust; would
that be considered by him as just or unjust?
He would think it just, and would try to gain the advantage; but he would not be
Whether he would or would not be able, I said, is not to the point. My question is
only whether the just man, while refusing to have more than another just man,
would wish and claim to have more than the unjust?
Yes, he would.
And what of the unjust – does he claim to have more than the just man and to do
more than is just
Of course, he said, for he claims to have more than all men.
And the unjust man will strive and struggle to obtain more than the unjust man or
action, in order that he may have more than all?
We may put the matter thus, I said – the just does not desire more than his like but
more than his unlike, whereas the unjust desires more than both his like and his
Nothing, he said, can be better than that statement.
And the unjust is good and wise, and the just is neither?
Good again, he said.
And is not the unjust like the wise and good and the just unlike them?
Of course, he said, he who is of a certain nature, is like those who are of a certain
nature; he who is not, not.
Each of them, I said, is such as his like is?
Certainly, he replied.
Very good, Thrasymachus, I said; and now to take the case of the arts: you would
admit that one man is a musician and another not a musician?
And which is wise and which is foolish?
Clearly the musician is wise, and he who is not a musician is foolish.
And he is good in as far as he is wise, and bad in as far as he is foolish?
And you would say the same sort of thing of the physician?
And do you think, my excellent friend, that a musician when he adjusts the lyre
would desire or claim to exceed or go beyond a musician in the tightening and
loosening the strings?
I do not think that he would.
But he would claim to exceed the non-musician?
And what would you say of the physician? In prescribing meats and drinks would
he wish to go beyond another physician or beyond the practice of medicine?
He would not.
But he would wish to go beyond the non-physician?
And about knowledge and ignorance in general; see whether you think that any man
who has knowledge ever would wish to have the choice of saying or doing more
than another man who has knowledge. Would he not rather say or do the same as
his like in the same case?
That, I suppose, can hardly be denied.
And what of the ignorant? would he not desire to have more than either the
knowing or the ignorant?
I dare say.
And the knowing is wise?
And the wise is good?
Then the wise and good will not desire to gain more than his like, but more than his
unlike and opposite?
I suppose so.
Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than both?
But did we not say, Thrasymachus, that the unjust goes beyond both his like and
unlike? Were not these your words? They were.
And you also said that the lust will not go beyond his like but his unlike?
Then the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the evil and ignorant?
That is the inference.
And each of them is such as his like is?
That was admitted.
Then the just has turned out to be wise and good and the unjust evil and ignorant.
Thrasymachus made all these admissions, not fluently, as I repeat them, but with
extreme reluctance; it was a hot summer’s day, and the perspiration poured from
him in torrents; and then I saw what I had never seen before, Thrasymachus
blushing. As we were now agreed that justice was virtue and wisdom, and injustice
vice and ignorance, I proceeded to another point:
Well, I said, Thrasymachus, that matter is now settled; but were we not also saying
that injustice had strength; do you remember?
Yes, I remember, he said, but do not suppose that I approve of what you are saying
or have no answer; if however I were to answer, you would be quite certain to
accuse me of haranguing; therefore either permit me to have my say out, or if you
would rather ask, do so, and I will answer ‘Very good,’ as they say to story-telling
old women, and will nod ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’
Certainly not, I said, if contrary to your real opinion.
Yes, he said, I will, to please you, since you will not let me speak. What else would
Nothing in the world, I said; and if you are so disposed I will ask and you shall
Then I will repeat the question which I asked before, in order that our examination
of the relative nature of justice and injustice may be carried on regularly. A
statement was made that injustice is stronger and more powerful than justice, but
now justice, having been identified with wisdom and virtue, is easily shown to be
stronger than injustice, if injustice is ignorance; this can no longer be questioned by
any one. But I want to view the matter, Thrasymachus, in a different way: You
would not deny that a state may be unjust and may be unjustly attempting to enslave
other states, or may have already enslaved them, and may be holding many of them
True, he replied; and I will add the best and perfectly unjust state will be most likely
to do so.
I know, I said, that such was your position; but what I would further consider is,
whether this power which is possessed by the superior state can exist or be
exercised without justice.
If you are right in you view, and justice is wisdom, then only with justice; but if I
am right, then without justice.
I am delighted, Thrasymachus, to see you not only nodding assent and dissent, but
making answers which are quite excellent.
That is out of civility to you, he replied.
You are very kind, I said; and would you have the goodness also to inform me,
whether you think that a state, or an army, or a band of robbers and thieves, or any
other gang of evil-doers could act at all if they injured one another?
No indeed, he said, they could not.
But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act together better?
And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and fighting, and justice
imparts harmony and friendship; is not tha…
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