- GLAUCON - ADEIMANTUS
SUCH is the good and true City
or State, and the good and man
is of the same pattern; and if
this is right every other is
and the evil is one which affects
not only the ordering of the
but also the regulation of the
individual soul, and is exhibited
What are they? he said.
I was proceeding to tell the
order in which the four evil
to me to succeed one another,
when Pole marchus, who was sitting
a little way off, just beyond
Adeimantus, began to whisper
stretching forth his hand, he
took hold of the upper part of
coat by the shoulder, and drew
him towards him, leaning forward
himself so as to be quite close
and saying something in his ear,
of which I only caught the words,
`Shall we let him off, or what
Certainly not, said Adeimantus,
raising his voice.
Who is it, I said, whom you
are refusing to let off?
You, he said.
I repeated, Why am I especially
not to be let off?
Why, he said, we think that
you are lazy, and mean to cheat
out of a whole chapter which
is a very important part of the
and you fancy that we shall not
notice your airy way of proceeding;
as if it were self-evident to
everybody, that in the matter
and children `friends have all
things in common.'
And was I not right, Adeimantus?
Yes, he said; but what is right
in this particular case,
like everything else, requires
to be explained; for community
may be of
many kinds. Please, therefore,
to say what sort of community
We have been long expecting that
you would tell us something about
the family life of your citizens--how
they will bring children into
the world, and rear them when
they have arrived, and, in general,
what is the nature of this community
of women and children-for we
are of opinion that the right
or wrong management of such matters
will have a great and paramount
influence on the State for good
or for evil. And now, since the
question is still undetermined,
and you are taking in hand another
State, we have resolved,
as you heard, not to let you
go until you give an account
of all this.
To that resolution, said Glaucon,
you may regard me as saying Agreed.
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS - GLAUCON
And without more ado, said Thrasymachus,
you may consider us
all to be equally agreed.
I said, You know not what you
are doing in thus assailing me:
What an argument are you raising
about the State! Just as I
thought that I had finished,
and was only too glad that I
laid this question to sleep,
and was reflecting how fortunate
was in your acceptance of what
I then said, you ask me to begin
again at the very foundation,
ignorant of what a hornet's nest
of words you are stirring. Now
I foresaw this gathering trouble,
and avoided it.
For what purpose do you conceive
that we have come here,
said Thrasymachus,--to look for
gold, or to hear discourse?
Yes, but discourse should have
Yes, Socrates, said Glaucon,
and the whole of life is the
which wise men assign to the
hearing of such discourses. But
about us; take heart yourself
and answer the question in your
What sort of community of women
and children is this which is
to prevail among our guardians?
and how shall we manage the period
between birth and education,
which seems to require the greatest
Tell us how these things will
Yes, my simple friend, but the
answer is the reverse of easy;
many more doubts arise about
this than about our previous
For the practicability of what
is said may be doubted; and looked
in another point of view, whether
the scheme, if ever so practicable,
would be for the best, is also
doubtful. Hence I feel a reluctance
to approach the subject, lest
our aspiration, my dear friend,
should turn out to be a dream
Fear not, he replied, for your
audience will not be hard upon
they are not sceptical or hostile.
I said: My good friend, I suppose
that you mean to encourage me
by these words.
Yes, he said.
Then let me tell you that you
are doing just the reverse;
the encouragement which you offer
would have been all very well
had I myself believed that I
knew what I was talking about:
to declare the truth about matters
of high interest which a man
honours and loves among wise
men who love him need occasion
or faltering in his mind; but
to carry on an argument when
are yourself only a hesitating
enquirer, which is my condition,
is a dangerous and slippery thing;
and the danger is not that I
shall be laughed at (of which
the fear would be childish),
but that I shall miss the truth
where I have most need to be
of my footing, and drag my friends
after me in my fall. And I pray
Nemesis not to visit upon me
the words which I am going to
For I do indeed believe that
to be an involuntary homicide
is a less
crime than to be a deceiver about
beauty or goodness or justice
in the matter of laws. And that
is a risk which I would rather
run among enemies than among
friends, and therefore you do
Glaucon laughed and said: Well
then, Socrates, in case you
and your argument do us any serious
injury you shall be acquitted
beforehand of the and shall not
be held to be a deceiver;
take courage then and speak.
Well, I said, the law says that
when a man is acquitted he is
from guilt, and what holds at
law may hold in argument.
Then why should you mind?
Well, I replied, I suppose that
I must retrace my steps and say
what I perhaps ought to have
said before in the proper place.
The part of the men has been
played out, and now properly
comes the turn of the women.
Of them I will proceed to speak,
and the more readily since I
am invited by you.
For men born and educated like
our citizens, the only way, in
of arriving at a right conclusion
about the possession and use
and children is to follow the
path on which we originally started,
when we said that the men were
to be the guardians and watchdogs
of the herd.
Let us further suppose the birth
and education of our women to
subject to similar or nearly
similar regulations; then we
see whether the result accords
with our design.
What do you mean?
What I mean may be put into
the form of a question, I said:
Are dogs divided into hes and
shes, or do they both share equally
in hunting and in keeping watch
and in the other duties of dogs?
we entrust to the males the entire
and exclusive care of the flocks,
while we leave the females at
home, under the idea that the
and suckling their puppies is
labour enough for them?
No, he said, they share alike;
the only difference between them
is that the males are stronger
and the females weaker.
But can you use different animals
for the same purpose, unless
are bred and fed in the same
Then, if women are to have the
same duties as men, they must
have the same nurture and education?
The education which was assigned
to the men was music and gymnastic.
Then women must be taught music
and gymnastic and also the art
which they must practise like
That is the inference, I suppose.
I should rather expect, I said,
that several of our proposals,
if they are carried out, being
unusual, may appear ridiculous.
No doubt of it.
Yes, and the most ridiculous
thing of all will be the sight
naked in the palaestra, exercising
with the men, especially when
are no longer young; they certainly
will not be a vision of beauty,
any more than the enthusiastic
old men who in spite of wrinkles
and ugliness continue to frequent
Yes, indeed, he said: according
to present notions the proposal
would be thought ridiculous.
But then, I said, as we have
determined to speak our minds,
we must not fear the jests of
the wits which will be directed
against this sort of innovation;
how they will talk of women's
attainments both in music and
gymnastic, and above all about
their wearing armour and riding
Very true, he replied.
Yet having begun we must go
forward to the rough places of
at the same time begging of these
gentlemen for once in their life
to be serious. Not long ago,
as we shall remind them, the
of the opinion, which is still
generally received among the
that the sight of a naked man
was ridiculous and improper;
and when first the Cretans and
then the Lacedaemonians introduced
the custom, the wits of that
day might equally have ridiculed
But when experience showed that
to let all things be uncovered
better than to cover them up,
and the ludicrous effect to the
eye vanished before the better
principle which reason asserted,
then the man was perceived to
be a fool who directs the shafts
of his ridicule at any other
sight but that of folly and vice,
or seriously inclines to weigh
the beautiful by any other standard
but that of the good.
Very true, he replied.
First, then, whether the question
is to be put in jest or in earnest,
let us come to an understanding
about the nature of woman: Is
capable of sharing either wholly
or partially in the actions of
or not at all? And is the art
of war one of those arts in which
or can not share? That will be
the best way of commencing the
and will probably lead to the
That will be much the best way.
Shall we take the other side
first and begin by arguing against
in this manner the adversary's
position will not be undefended.
Why not? he said.
Then let us put a speech into
the mouths of our opponents.
They will say:
`Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary
need convict you, for you yourselves,
at the first foundation of the
State, admitted the principle
that everybody was to do the
one work suited to his own nature.'
And certainly, if I am not mistaken,
such an admission was made by
`And do not the natures of men
and women differ very much indeed?'
And we shall reply: Of course
they do. Then we shall be asked,
`Whether the tasks assigned to
men and to women should not
be different, and such as are
agreeable to their different
Certainly they should. `But if
so, have you not fallen into
serious inconsistency in saying
that men and women, whose natures
are so entirely different, ought
to perform the same actions?'--
What defence will you make for
us, my good Sir, against any
one who offers
That is not an easy question
to answer when asked suddenly;
and I shall and I do beg of you
to draw out the case on our side.
These are the objections, Glaucon,
and there are many others of
a like kind,
which I foresaw long ago; they
made me afraid and reluctant
in hand any law about the possession
and nurture of women and children.
By Zeus, he said, the problem
to be solved is anything but
Why yes, I said, but the fact
is that when a man is out of
whether he has fallen into a
little swimming bath or into
he has to swim all the same.
And must not we swim and try
to reach the shore: we will hope
that Arion's dolphin or some
other miraculous help may save
I suppose so, he said.
Well then, let us see if any
way of escape can be found.
We acknowledged--did we not?
that different natures ought
different pursuits, and that
men's and women's natures are
And now what are we saying?--that
different natures ought to have
the same pursuits,--this is the
inconsistency which is charged
Verily, Glaucon, I said, glorious
is the power of the art of contradiction!
Why do you say so?
Because I think that many a
man falls into the practice against
When he thinks that he is reasoning
he is really disputing,
just because he cannot define
and divide, and so know that
he is speaking; and he will pursue
a merely verbal opposition
in the spirit of contention and
not of fair discussion.
Yes, he replied, such is very
often the case; but what has
that to do with us and our argument?
A great deal; for there is certainly
a danger of our getting
unintentionally into a verbal
In what way?
Why, we valiantly and pugnaciously
insist upon the verbal truth,
that different natures ought
to have different pursuits, but
never considered at all what
was the meaning of sameness or
of nature, or why we distinguished
them when we assigned different
pursuits to different natures
and the same to the same natures.
Why, no, he said, that was never
considered by us.
I said: Suppose that by way
of illustration we were to ask
the question whether there is
not an opposition in nature between
bald men and hairy men; and if
this is admitted by us, then,
men are cobblers, we should forbid
the hairy men to be cobblers,
That would be a jest, he said.
Yes, I said, a jest; and why?
because we never meant when we
constructed the State, that the
opposition of natures should
to every difference, but only
to those differences which affected
the pursuit in which the individual
is engaged; we should have argued,
for example, that a physician
and one who is in mind a physician
may be said to have the same
Whereas the physician and the
carpenter have different natures?
And if, I said, the male and
female sex appear to differ in
their fitness for any art or
pursuit, we should say that such
pursuit or art ought to be assigned
to one or the other of them;
but if the difference consists
only in women bearing and men
begetting children, this does
not amount to a proof that a
from a man in respect of the
sort of education she should
and we shall therefore continue
to maintain that our guardians
and their wives ought to have
the same pursuits.
Very true, he said.
Next, we shall ask our opponent
how, in reference to any of the
or arts of civic life, the nature
of a woman differs from that
of a man?
That will be quite fair.
And perhaps he, like yourself,
will reply that to give a sufficient
answer on the instant is not
easy; but after a little reflection
there is no difficulty.
Suppose then that we invite
him to accompany us in the argument,
and then we may hope to show
him that there is nothing peculiar
the constitution of women which
would affect them in the administration
of the State.
By all means.
Let us say to him: Come now,
and we will ask you a question:--
when you spoke of a nature gifted
or not gifted in any respect,
did you mean to say that one
man will acquire a thing easily,
another with difficulty; a little
learning will lead the one to
a great deal; whereas the other,
after much study and application,
no sooner learns than he forgets;
or again, did you mean,
that the one has a body which
is a good servant to his mind,
while the body of the other is
a hindrance to him?-would not
the sort of differences which
distinguish the man gifted by
from the one who is ungifted?
No one will deny that.
And can you mention any pursuit
of mankind in which the male
has not all these gifts and qualities
in a higher degree than
the female? Need I waste time
in speaking of the art of weaving,
and the management of pancakes
and preserves, in which womankind
does really appear to be great,
and in which for her to be beaten
by a man is of all things the
You are quite right, he replied,
in maintaining the general
inferiority of the female sex:
although many women are in many
things superior to many men,
yet on the whole what you say
And if so, my friend, I said,
there is no special faculty of
administration in a state which
a woman has because she is a
or which a man has by virtue
of his sex, but the gifts of
are alike diffused in both; all
the pursuits of men are the pursuits
of women also, but in all of
them a woman is inferior to a
Then are we to impose all our
enactments on men and none of
That will never do.
One woman has a gift of healing,
another not; one is a musician,
and another has no music in her
And one woman has a turn for
gymnastic and military exercises,
and another is unwarlike and
And one woman is a philosopher,
and another is an enemy of philosophy;
one has spirit, and another is
That is also true.
Then one woman will have the
temper of a guardian, and another
Was not the selection of the
male guardians determined by
of this sort?
Men and women alike possess
the qualities which make a guardian;
they differ only in their comparative
strength or weakness.
And those women who have such
qualities are to be selected
the companions and colleagues
of men who have similar qualities
and whom they resemble in capacity
and in character?
And ought not the same natures
to have the same pursuits?
Then, as we were saying before,
there is nothing unnatural
in assigning music and gymnastic
to the wives of the guardians--
to that point we come round again.
The law which we then enacted
was agreeable to nature, and
not an impossibility or mere
aspiration; and the contrary
which prevails at present, is
in reality a violation of nature.
That appears to be true.
We had to consider, first, whether
our proposals were possible,
and secondly whether they were
the most beneficial?
And the possibility has been
The very great benefit has next
to be established?
You will admit that the same
education which makes a man a
guardian will make a woman a
good guardian; for their original
nature is the same?
I should like to ask you a question.
What is it?
Would you say that all men are
equal in excellence, or is one
better than another?
And in the commonwealth which
we were founding do you conceive
the guardians who have been brought
up on our model system to be
more perfect men, or the cobblers
whose education has been cobbling?
What a ridiculous question!
You have answered me, I replied:
Well, and may we not further
that our guardians are the best
of our citizens?
By far the best.
And will not their wives be
the best women?
Yes, by far the best.
And can there be anything better
for the interests of the State
than that the men and women of
a State should be as good as
There can be nothing better.
And this is what the arts of
music and gymnastic, when present
in such manner as we have described,
Then we have made an enactment
not only possible but in the
degree beneficial to the State?
Then let the wives of our guardians
strip, for their virtue will
their robe, and let them share
in the toils of war and the defence
of their country; only in the
distribution of labours the lighter
are to be assigned to the women,
who are the weaker natures,
but in other respects their duties
are to be the same.
And as for the man who laughs
at naked women exercising their
from the best of motives, in
his laughter he is plucking
A fruit of unripe wisdom,
and he himself is ignorant of
what he is laughing at, or what
is about;--for that is, and ever
will be, the best of sayings,
That the useful is the noble
and the hurtful is the base.
Here, then, is one difficulty
in our law about women, which
may say that we have now escaped;
the wave has not swallowed us
alive for enacting that the guardians
of either sex should have all
their pursuits in common; to
the utility and also to the possibility
of this arrangement the consistency
of the argument with itself
Yes, that was a mighty wave
which you have escaped.
Yes, I said, but a greater is
coming; you will of this when
see the next.
Go on; let me see.
The law, I said, which is the
sequel of this and of all that
has preceded, is to the following
effect,--'that the wives of our
guardians are to be common, and
their children are to be common,
and no parent is to know his
own child, nor any child his
Yes, he said, that is a much
greater wave than the other;
and the possibility as well as
the utility of such a law are
I do not think, I said, that
there can be any dispute about
the very great utility of having
wives and children in common;
the possibility is quite another
matter, and will be very much
I think that a good many doubts
may be raised about both.
You imply that the two questions
must be combined, I replied.
Now I meant that you should admit
the utility; and in this way,
as I thought; I should escape
from one of them, and then there
remain only the possibility.
But that little attempt is detected,
and therefore you will please
to give a defence of both.
Well, I said, I submit to my
fate. Yet grant me a little favour:
let me feast my mind with the
dream as day dreamers are in
the habit of feasting themselves
when they are walking alone;
for before they have discovered
any means of effecting their
that is a matter which never
troubles them--they would rather
not tire themselves by thinking
about possibilities; but assuming
that what they desire is already
granted to them, they proceed
with their plan, and delight
in detailing what they mean to
when their wish has come true--that
is a way which they have of
not doing much good to a capacity
which was never good for much.
Now I myself am beginning to
lose heart, and I should like,
with your permission, to pass
over the question of possibility
at present. Assuming therefore
the possibility of the proposal,
I shall now proceed to enquire
how the rulers will carry out
these arrangements, and I shall
demonstrate that our plan, if
will be of the greatest benefit
to the State and to the guardians.
First of all, then, if you have
no objection, I will endeavour
your help to consider the advantages
of the measure; and hereafter
the question of possibility.
I have no objection; proceed.
First, I think that if our rulers
and their auxiliaries are to
worthy of the name which they
bear, there must be willingness
to obey in the one and the power
of command in the other;
the guardians must themselves
obey the laws, and they must
the spirit of them in any details
which are entrusted to their
That is right, he said.
You, I said, who are their legislator,
having selected the men,
will now select the women and
give them to them;--they must
as far as possible of like natures
with them; and they must live
in common houses and meet at
common meals, None of them will
anything specially his or her
own; they will be together, and
be brought up together, and will
associate at gymnastic exercises.
And so they will be drawn by
a necessity of their natures
intercourse with each other--necessity
is not too strong a word,
Yes, he said;--necessity, not
geometrical, but another sort
of necessity which lovers know,
and which is far more convincing
and constraining to the mass
True, I said; and this, Glaucon,
like all the rest, must proceed
after an orderly fashion; in
a city of the blessed, licentiousness
an unholy thing which the rulers
Yes, he said, and it ought not
to be permitted.
Then clearly the next thing
will be to make matrimony sacred
the highest degree, and what
is most beneficial will be deemed
And how can marriages be made
most beneficial?--that is a question
which I put to you, because I
see in your house dogs for hunting,
and of the nobler sort of birds
not a few. Now, I beseech you,
do tell me, have you ever attended
to their pairing and breeding?
In what particulars?
Why, in the first place, although
they are all of a good sort,
are not some better than others?
And do you breed from them all
indifferently, or do you take
to breed from the best only?
From the best.
And do you take the oldest or
the youngest, or only those of
I choose only those of ripe
And if care was not taken in
the breeding, your dogs and birds
would greatly deteriorate?
And the same of horses and animals
Good heavens! my dear friend,
I said, what consummate skill
our rulers need if the same principle
holds of the human species!
Certainly, the same principle
holds; but why does this involve
any particular skill?
Because, I said, our rulers
will often have to practise upon
the body corporate with medicines.
Now you know that when patients
do not require medicines, but
have only to be put under a regimen,
the inferior sort of practitioner
is deemed to be good enough;
but when medicine has to be given,
then the doctor should be more
That is quite true, he said;
but to what are you alluding?
I mean, I replied, that our
rulers will find a considerable
of falsehood and deceit necessary
for the good of their subjects:
we were saying that the use of
all these things regarded as
might be of advantage.
And we were very right.
And this lawful use of them
seems likely to be often needed
in the regulations of marriages
Why, I said, the principle has
been already laid down that the
of either sex should be united
with the best as often, and the
with the inferior, as seldom
as possible; and that they should
the offspring of the one sort
of union, but not of the other,
if the flock is to be maintained
in first-rate condition.
Now these goings on must be a
secret which the rulers only
or there will be a further danger
of our herd, as the guardians
be termed, breaking out into
Had we not better appoint certain
festivals at which we will bring
together the brides and bridegrooms,
and sacrifices will be offered
and suitable hymeneal songs composed
by our poets: the number
of weddings is a matter which
must be left to the discretion
the rulers, whose aim will be
to preserve the average of population?
There are many other things which
they will have to consider,
such as the effects of wars and
diseases and any similar agencies,
in order as far as this is possible
to prevent the State from becoming
either too large or too small.
Certainly, he replied.
We shall have to invent some
ingenious kind of lots which
worthy may draw on each occasion
of our bringing them together,
and then they will accuse their
own ill-luck and not the rulers.
To be sure, he said.
And I think that our braver
and better youth, besides their
honours and rewards, might have
greater facilities of intercourse
with women given them; their
bravery will be a reason, and
fathers ought to have as many
sons as possible.
And the proper officers, whether
male or female or both, for offices
are to be held by women as well
as by men--
The proper officers will take
the offspring of the good parents
the pen or fold, and there they
will deposit them with certain
who dwell in a separate quarter;
but the offspring of the inferior,
or of the better when they chance
to be deformed, will be put away
in some mysterious, unknown place,
as they should be.
Yes, he said, that must be done
if the breed of the guardians
is to be kept pure.
They will provide for their
nurture, and will bring the mothers
to the fold when they are full
of milk, taking the greatest
care that no mother recognizes
her own child; and other wet-nurses
may be engaged if more are required.
Care will also be taken
that the process of suckling
shall not be protracted too long;
and the mothers will have no
getting up at night or other
but will hand over all this sort
of thing to the nurses and attendants.
You suppose the wives of our
guardians to have a fine easy
of it when they are having children.
Why, said I, and so they ought.
Let us, however, proceed with
We were saying that the parents
should be in the prime of life?
And what is the prime of life?
May it not be defined as a period
of about twenty years in a woman's
life, and thirty in a man's?
Which years do you mean to include?
A woman, I said, at twenty years
of age may begin to bear
children to the State, and continue
to bear them until forty;
a man may begin at five-and-twenty,
when he has passed the point
at which the pulse of life beats
quickest, and continue to beget
children until he be fifty-five.
Certainly, he said, both in
men and women those years are
of physical as well as of intellectual
Any one above or below the prescribed
ages who takes part in the public
hymeneals shall be said to have
done an unholy and unrighteous
the child of which he is the
father, if it steals into life,
will have been conceived under
auspices very unlike the sacrifices
and prayers, which at each hymeneal
priestesses and priest and
the whole city will offer, that
the new generation may be better
and more useful than their good
and useful parents, whereas his
child will be the offspring of
darkness and strange lust.
Very true, he replied.
And the same law will apply
to any one of those within the
age who forms a connection with
any woman in the prime of life
without the sanction of the rulers;
for we shall say that he
is raising up a bastard to the
State, uncertified and unconsecrated.
Very true, he replied.
This applies, however, only
to those who are within the specified
after that we allow them to range
at will, except that a man
may not marry his daughter or
his daughter's daughter, or his
mother or his mother's mother;
and women, on the other hand,
are prohibited from marrying
their sons or fathers, or son's
or father's father, and so on
in either direction. And we grant
all this, accompanying the permission
with strict orders to prevent
any embryo which may come into
being from seeing the light;
and if any force a way to the
birth, the parents must understand
that the offspring of such an
union cannot be maintained,
and arrange accordingly.
That also, he said, is a reasonable
proposition. But how will they
know who are fathers and daughters,
and so on?
They will never know. The way
will be this:--dating from the
of the hymeneal, the bridegroom
who was then married will call
all the male children who are
born in the seventh and tenth
afterwards his sons, and the
female children his daughters,
will call him father, and he
will call their children his
and they will call the elder
generation grandfathers and grandmothers.
All who were begotten at the
time when their fathers and mothers
came together will be called
their brothers and sisters, and
as I was saying, will be forbidden
to inter-marry. This, however,
is not to be understood as an
absolute prohibition of the marriage
of brothers and sisters; if the
lot favours them, and they receive
the sanction of the Pythian oracle,
the law will allow them.
Quite right, he replied.
Such is the scheme, Glaucon,
according to which the guardians
of our State are to have their
wives and families in common.
And now you would have the argument
show that this community is consistent
with the rest of our polity,
and also that nothing can be
would you not?
Shall we try to find a common
basis by asking of ourselves
what ought to be the chief aim
of the legislator in making laws
and in the organization of a
State,--what is the greatest
and what is the greatest evil,
and then consider whether our
description has the stamp of
the good or of the evil?
By all means.
Can there be any greater evil
than discord and distraction
where unity ought to reign? or
any greater good than the bond
And there is unity where there
is community of pleasures and
where all the citizens are glad
or grieved on the same occasions
Yes; and where there is no common
but only private feeling a State
is disorganized--when you have
one half of the world triumphing
and the other plunged in grief
at the same events happening
to the city or the citizens?
Such differences commonly originate
in a disagreement about the use
of the terms `mine' and `not
mine,' `his' and `not his.'
And is not that the best-ordered
State in which the greatest number
of persons apply the terms `mine'
and `not mine' in the same way
to the same thing?
Or that again which most nearly
approaches to the condition
of the individual--as in the
body, when but a finger of one
is hurt, the whole frame, drawn
towards the soul as a center
forming one kingdom under the
ruling power therein, feels the
and sympathizes all together
with the part affected, and we
that the man has a pain in his
finger; and the same expression
is used about any other part
of the body, which has a sensation
of pain at suffering or of pleasure
at the alleviation of suffering.
Very true, he replied; and I
agree with you that in the best-ordered
State there is the nearest approach
to this common feeling
which you describe.
Then when any one of the citizens
experiences any good or evil,
the whole State will make his
case their own, and will either
or sorrow with him?
Yes, he said, that is what will
happen in a well-ordered State.
It will now be time, I said,
for us to return to our State
whether this or some other form
is most in accordance with these
Our State like every other has
rulers and subjects?
All of whom will call one another
But is there not another name
which people give to their rulers
in other States?
Generally they call them masters,
but in democratic States they
simply call them rulers.
And in our State what other
name besides that of citizens
do the people give the rulers?
They are called saviours and
helpers, he replied.
And what do the rulers call
Their maintainers and foster-fathers.
And what do they call them in
And what do the rulers call
one another in other States?
And what in ours?
Did you ever know an example
in any other State of a ruler
who would speak
of one of his colleagues as his
friend and of another as not
being his friend?
Yes, very often.
And the friend he regards and
describes as one in whom he has
an interest, and the other as
a stranger in whom he has no
But would any of your guardians
think or speak of any other guardian
as a stranger?
Certainly he would not; for
every one whom they meet will
regarded by them either as a
brother or sister, or father
or son or daughter, or as the
child or parent of those who
connected with him.
Capital, I said; but let me
ask you once more: Shall they
be a family
in name only; or shall they in
all their actions be true to
For example, in the use of the
word `father,' would the care
father be implied and the filial
reverence and duty and obedience
to him which the law commands;
and is the violator of these
to be regarded as an impious
and unrighteous person who is
likely to receive much good either
at the hands of God or of man?
Are these to be or not to be
the strains which the children
repeated in their ears by all
the citizens about those who
to them to be their parents and
the rest of their kinsfolk?
These, he said, and none other;
for what can be more ridiculous
than for them to utter the names
of family ties with the lips
only and not to act in the spirit
Then in our city the language
of harmony and concord will be
often beard than in any other.
As I was describing before, when
one is well or ill, the universal
word will be with me `it is well'
or `it is ill.'
And agreeably to this mode of
thinking and speaking, were we
saying that they will have their
pleasures and pains in common?
Yes, and so they will.
And they will have a common
interest in the same thing which
will alike call `my own,' and
having this common interest they
will have a common feeling of
pleasure and pain?
Yes, far more so than in other
And the reason of this, over
and above the general constitution
of the State, will be that the
guardians will have a community
of women and children?
That will be the chief reason.
And this unity of feeling we
admitted to be the greatest good,
as was implied in our own comparison
of a well-ordered State to
the relation of the body and
the members, when affected by
That we acknowledged, and very
Then the community of wives
and children among our citizens
is clearly the source of the
greatest good to the State?
And this agrees with the other
principle which we were affirming,--
that the guardians were not to
have houses or lands or any other
their pay was to be their food,
which they were to receive from
the other citizens, and they
were to have no private expenses;
for we intended them to preserve
their true character of guardians.
Right, he replied.
Both the community of property
and the community of families,
as I am saying, tend to make
them more truly guardians; they
tear the city in pieces by differing
about `mine' and `not mine;'
each man dragging any acquisition
which he has made into a separate
house of his own, where he has
a separate wife and children
pleasures and pains; but all
will be affected as far as may
by the same pleasures and pains
because they are all of one opinion
about what is near and dear to
them, and therefore they all
towards a common end.
Certainly, he replied.
And as they have nothing but
their persons which they can
their own, suits and complaints
will have no existence among
they will be delivered from all
those quarrels of which money
children or relations are the
Of course they will.
Neither will trials for assault
or insult ever be likely
to occur among them. For that
equals should defend themselves
against equals we shall maintain
to be honourable and right;
we shall make the protection
of the person a matter of necessity.
That is good, he said.
Yes; and there is a further
good in the law; viz. that if
a man has
a quarrel with another he will
satisfy his resentment then and
and not proceed to more dangerous
To the elder shall be assigned
the duty of ruling and chastising
Nor can there be a doubt that
the younger will not strike or
other violence to an elder, unless
the magistrates command him;
nor will he slight him in any
way. For there are two guardians,
shame and fear, mighty to prevent
him: shame, which makes men
refrain from laying hands on
those who are to them in the
of parents; fear, that the injured
one will be succoured by the
who are his brothers, sons, one
That is true, he replied.
Then in every way the laws will
help the citizens to keep the
with one another?
Yes, there will be no want of
And as the guardians will never
quarrel among themselves there
will be no danger of the rest
of the city being divided either
against them or against one another.
I hardly like even to mention
the little meannesses of which
will be rid, for they are beneath
notice: such, for example,
as the flattery of the rich by
the poor, and all the pains and
which men experience in bringing
up a family, and in finding money
to buy necessaries for their
household, borrowing and then
getting how they can, and giving
the money into the hands of women
and slaves to keep--the many
evils of so many kinds which
suffer in this way are mean enough
and obvious enough, and not worth
Yes, he said, a man has no need
of eyes in order to perceive
And from all these evils they
will be delivered, and their
will be blessed as the life of
Olympic victors and yet more
The Olympic victor, I said,
is deemed happy in receiving
only of the blessedness which
is secured to our citizens,
who have won a more glorious
victory and have a more complete
maintenance at the public cost.
For the victory which they have
is the salvation of the whole
State; and the crown with which
and their children are crowned
is the fulness of all that life
they receive rewards from the
hands of their country while
and after death have an honourable
Yes, he said, and glorious rewards
Do you remember, I said, how
in the course of the previous
some one who shall be nameless
accused us of making our guardians
they had nothing and might have
possessed all things-to whom
replied that, if an occasion
offered, we might perhaps hereafter
consider this question, but that,
as at present advised, we would
our guardians truly guardians,
and that we were fashioning the
with a view to the greatest happiness,
not of any particular class,
but of the whole?
Yes, I remember.
And what do you say, now that
the life of our protectors is
out to be far better and nobler
than that of Olympic victors--
is the life of shoemakers, or
any other artisans, or of husbandmen,
to be compared with it?
At the same time I ought here
to repeat what I have said elsewhere,
that if any of our guardians
shall try to be happy in such
that he will cease to be a guardian,
and is not content with this
and harmonious life, which, in
our judgment, is of all lives
but infatuated by some youthful
conceit of happiness which gets
into his head shall seek to appropriate
the whole State to himself,
then he will have to learn how
wisely Hesiod spoke, when he
`half is more than the whole.'
If he were to consult me, I
should say to him: Stay where
when you have the offer of such
You agree then, I said, that
men and women are to have a common
of life such as we have described--common
education, common children;
and they are to watch over the
citizens in common whether abiding
in the city or going out to war;
they are to keep watch together,
and to hunt together like dogs;
and always and in all things,
as far as they are able, women
are to share with the men?
And in so doing they will do
what is best, and will not violate,
but preserve the natural relation
of the sexes.
I agree with you, he replied.
The enquiry, I said, has yet
to be made, whether such a community
be found possible--as among other
animals, so also among men--
and if possible, in what way
You have anticipated the question
which I was about to suggest.
There is no difficulty, I said,
in seeing how war will be carried
on by them.
Why, of course they will go
on expeditions together; and
with them any of their children
who are strong enough, that,
manner of the artisan's child,
they may look on at the work
will have to do when they are
grown up; and besides looking
will have to help and be of use
in war, and to wait upon their
and mothers. Did you never observe
in the arts how the potters'
boys look on and help, long before
they touch the wheel?
Yes, I have.
And shall potters be more careful
in educating their children
and in giving them the opportunity
of seeing and practising
their duties than our guardians
The idea is ridiculous, he said.
There is also the effect on
the parents, with whom, as with
the presence of their young ones
will be the greatest incentive
That is quite true, Socrates;
and yet if they are defeated,
which may often happen in war,
how great the danger is! the
will be lost as well as their
parents, and the State will never
True, I said; but would you
never allow them to run any risk?
I am far from saying that.
Well, but if they are ever to
run a risk should they not do
some occasion when, if they escape
disaster, they will be the better
Whether the future soldiers
do or do not see war in the days
of their youth is a very important
matter, for the sake
of which some risk may fairly
Yes, very important.
This then must be our first
step,--to make our children spectators
but we must also contrive that
they shall be secured against
then all will be well.
Their parents may be supposed
not to be blind to the risks
but to know, as far as human
foresight can, what expeditions
and what dangerous?
That may be assumed.
And they will take them on the
safe expeditions and be cautious
about the dangerous ones?
And they will place them under
the command of experienced veterans
who will be their leaders and
Still, the dangers of war cannot
be always foreseen; there is
a good deal of chance about them?
Then against such chances the
children must be at once furnished
with wings, in order that in
the hour of need they may fly
What do you mean? he said.
I mean that we must mount them
on horses in their earliest youth,
and when they have learnt to
ride, take them on horseback
to see war:
the horses must be spirited and
warlike, but the most tractable
and yet the swiftest that can
be had. In this way they will
an excellent view of what is
hereafter to be their own business;
and if there is danger they have
only to follow their elder leaders
I believe that you are right,
Next, as to war; what are to
be the relations of your soldiers
to one another and to their enemies?
I should be inclined to propose
that the soldier who leaves his
rank or throws away his arms,
or is guilty of any other act
of cowardice, should be degraded
into the rank of a husbandman
or artisan. What do you think?
By all means, I should say.
And he who allows himself to
be taken prisoner may as well
a present of to his enemies;
he is their lawful prey, and
do what they like with him.
But the hero who has distinguished
himself, what shall be done to
In the first place, he shall
receive honour in the army from
youthful comrades; every one
of them in succession shall crown
What do you say?
And what do you say to his receiving
the right hand of fellowship?
To that too, I agree.
But you will hardly agree to
my next proposal.
What is your proposal?
That he should kiss and be kissed
Most certainly, and I should
be disposed to go further, and
Let no one whom he has a mind
to kiss refuse to be kissed by
while the expedition lasts. So
that if there be a lover in the
whether his love be youth or
maiden, he may be more eager
the prize of valour.
Capital, I said. That the brave
man is to have more wives than
been already determined: and
he is to have first choices in
more than others, in order that
he may have as many children
Again, there is another manner
in which, according to Homer,
brave youths should be honoured;
for he tells how Ajax, after
had distinguished himself in
battle, was rewarded with long
which seems to be a compliment
appropriate to a hero in the
of his age, being not only a
tribute of honour but also a
Most true, he said.
Then in this, I said, Homer
shall be our teacher; and we
at sacrifices and on the like
occasions, will honour the brave
according to the measure of their
valour, whether men or women,
with hymns and those other distinctions
which we were mentioning;
seats of precedence, and meats
and full cups;
and in honouring them, we shall
be at the same time training
That, he replied, is excellent.
Yes, I said; and when a man
dies gloriously in war shall
we not say,
in the first place, that he is
of the golden race?
To be sure.
Nay, have we not the authority
of Hesiod for affirming that
they are dead
They are holy angels upon the
earth, authors of good,
averters of evil, the guardians of speech-gifted men?
Yes; and we accept his authority.
We must learn of the god how
we are to order the sepulture
and heroic personages, and what
is to be their special distinction
and we must do as he bids?
By all means.
And in ages to come we will
reverence them and knee. before
sepulchres as at the graves of
heroes. And not only they but
who are deemed pre-eminently
good, whether they die from age,
or in any other way, shall be
admitted to the same honours.
That is very right, he said.
Next, how shall our soldiers
treat their enemies? What about
In what respect do you mean?
First of all, in regard to slavery?
Do you think it right that Hellenes
should enslave Hellenic States,
or allow others to enslave them,
if they can help? Should not
their custom be to spare them,
considering the danger which
there is that the whole race
day fall under the yoke of the
To spare them is infinitely
Then no Hellene should be owned
by them as a slave; that is a
which they will observe and advise
the other Hellenes to observe.
Certainly, he said; they will
in this way be united against
the barbarians and will keep
their hands off one another.
Next as to the slain; ought
the conquerors, I said, to take
but their armour? Does not the
practice of despoiling an enemy
an excuse for not facing the
battle? Cowards skulk about the
pretending that they are fulfilling
a duty, and many an army
before now has been lost from
this love of plunder.
And is there not illiberality
and avarice in robbing a corpse,
and also a degree of meanness
and womanishness in making an
of the dead body when the real
enemy has flown away and left
only his fighting gear behind
him,--is not this rather like
who cannot get at his assailant,
quarrelling with the stones
which strike him instead?
Very like a dog, he said.
Then we must abstain from spoiling
the dead or hindering their burial?
Yes, he replied, we most certainly
Neither shall we offer up arms
at the temples of the gods,
least of all the arms of Hellenes,
if we care to maintain good
feeling with other Hellenes;
and, indeed, we have reason to
that the offering of spoils taken
from kinsmen may be a pollution
unless commanded by the god himself?
Again, as to the devastation
of Hellenic territory or the
of houses, what is to be the
May I have the pleasure, he
said, of hearing your opinion?
Both should be forbidden, in
my judgment; I would take the
produce and no more. Shall I
tell you why?
Why, you see, there is a difference
in the names `discord' and `war,'
and I imagine that there is also
a difference in their natures;
the one is expressive of what
is internal and domestic, the
of what is external and foreign;
and the first of the two is
termed discord, and only the
That is a very proper distinction,
And may I not observe with equal
propriety that the Hellenic race
is all united together by ties
of blood and friendship, and
and strange to the barbarians?
Very good, he said.
And therefore when Hellenes
fight with barbarians and barbarians
with Hellenes, they will be described
by us as being at war when
they fight, and by nature enemies,
and this kind of antagonism
should be called war; but when
Hellenes fight with one another
shall say that Hellas is then
in a state of disorder and discord,
they being by nature friends
and such enmity is to be called
Consider then, I said, when
that which we have acknowledged
discord occurs, and a city is
divided, if both parties destroy
and burn the houses of one another,
how wicked does the strife appear!
No true lover of his country
would bring himself to tear in
his own nurse and mother: There
might be reason in the conqueror
depriving the conquered of their
harvest, but still they would
have the idea of peace in their
hearts and would not mean to
on fighting for ever.
Yes, he said, that is a better
temper than the other.
And will not the city, which
you are founding, be an Hellenic
It ought to be, he replied.
Then will not the citizens be
good and civilized?
Yes, very civilized.
And will they not be lovers
of Hellas, and think of Hellas
own land, and share in the common
And any difference which arises
among them will be regarded by
as discord only--a quarrel among
friends, which is not to be called
they will quarrel as those who
intend some day to be reconciled?
They will use friendly correction,
but will not enslave or destroy
their opponents; they will be
correctors, not enemies?
And as they are Hellenes themselves
they will not devastate Hellas,
nor will they burn houses, not
even suppose that the whole population
of a city--men, women, and children--are
equally their enemies,
for they know that the guilt
of war is always confined to
a few persons
and that the many are their friends.
And for all these reasons
they will be unwilling to waste
their lands and raze their houses;
their enmity to them will only
last until the many innocent
have compelled the guilty few
to give satisfaction?
I agree, he said, that our citizens
should thus deal with their
Hellenic enemies; and with barbarians
as the Hellenes now deal
with one another.
Then let us enact this law also
for our guardians:-that they
neither to devastate the lands
of Hellenes nor to burn their
Agreed; and we may agree also
in thinking that these, all our
previous enactments, are very
But still I must say, Socrates,
that if you are allowed to go
on in this way you will entirely
forget the other question
which at the commencement of
this discussion you thrust aside:--
Is such an order of things possible,
and how, if at all?
For I am quite ready to acknowledge
that the plan which you propose,
if only feasible, would do all
sorts of good to the State.
I will add, what you have omitted,
that your citizens will be
the bravest of warriors, and
will never leave their ranks,
will all know one another, and
each will call the other father,
brother, son; and if you suppose
the women to join their armies,
whether in the same rank or in
the rear, either as a terror
to the enemy,
or as auxiliaries in case of
need, I know that they will then
absolutely invincible; and there
are many domestic tic advantages
which might also be mentioned
and which I also fully acknowledge:
but, as I admit all these advantages
and as many more as you please,
if only this State of yours were
to come into existence, we need
say no more about them; assuming
then the existence of the State,
let us now turn to the question
of possibility and ways and means--
the rest may be left.
If I loiter for a moment, you
instantly make a raid upon me,
and have no mercy; I have hardly
escaped the first and second
and you seem not to be aware
that you are now bringing upon
the third, which is the greatest
and heaviest. When you have seen
and heard the third wave, I think
you be more considerate and will
acknowledge that some fear and
hesitation was natural respecting
a proposal so extraordinary as
that which I have now to state
The more appeals of this sort
which you make, he said, the
determined are we that you shall
tell us how such a State is possible:
speak out and at once.
Let me begin by reminding you
that we found our way hither
in the search after justice and
True, he replied; but what of
I was only going to ask whether,
if we have discovered them,
we are to require that the just
man should in nothing fail of
absolute justice; or may we be
satisfied with an approximation,
and the attainment in him of
a higher degree of justice than
to be found in other men?
The approximation will be enough.
We are enquiring into the nature
of absolute justice and into
of the perfectly just, and into
injustice and the perfectly unjust,
that we might have an ideal.
We were to look at these in order
that we might judge of our own
happiness and unhappiness according
to the standard which they exhibited
and the degree in which we resembled
them, but not with any view of
showing that they could exist
True, he said.
Would a painter be any the worse
because, after having delineated
with consummate art an ideal
of a perfectly beautiful man,
he was unable to show that any
such man could ever have existed?
He would be none the worse.
Well, and were we not creating
an ideal of a perfect State?
To be sure.
And is our theory a worse theory
because we are unable to prove
the possibility of a city being
ordered in the manner described?
Surely not, he replied.
That is the truth, I said. But
if, at your request, I am to
and show how and under what conditions
the possibility is highest,
I must ask you, having this in
view, to repeat your former admissions.
I want to know whether ideals
are ever fully realised in language?
Does not the word express more
than the fact, and must not the
whatever a man may think, always,
in the nature of things, fall
of the truth? What do you say?
Then you must not insist on
my proving that the actual State
in every respect coincide with
the ideal: if we are only able
to discover how a city may be
governed nearly as we proposed,
you will admit that we have discovered
the possibility which you demand;
and will be contented. I am sure
that I should be contented--
will not you?
Yes, I will.
Let me next endeavour to show
what is that fault in States
the cause of their present maladministration,
and what is the least
change which will enable a State
to pass into the truer form;
and let the change, if possible,
be of one thing only, or if not,
at any rate, let the changes
be as few and slight as possible.
Certainly, he replied.
I think, I said, that there
might be a reform of the State
one change were made, which is
not a slight or easy though still
a possible one.
What is it? he said.
Now then, I said, I go to meet
that which I liken to the greatest
of the waves; yet shall the word
be spoken, even though the wave
break and drown me in laughter
and dishonour; and do you mark
I said: Until philosophers are
kings, or the kings and princes
of this world have the spirit
and power of philosophy, and
greatness and wisdom meet in
one, and those commoner natures
who pursue either to the exclusion
of the other are compelled
to stand aside, cities will never
have rest from their evils,--
nor the human race, as I believe,--and
then only will this our
State have a possibility of life
and behold the light of day.
Such was the thought, my dear
Glaucon, which I would fain have
uttered if it had not seemed
too extravagant; for to be convinced
that in no other State can there
be happiness private or public
indeed a hard thing.
Socrates, what do you mean?
I would have you consider that
the word which you have uttered
is one at which numerous persons,
and very respectable persons
too, in a figure pulling off
coats all in a moment, and seizing
any weapon that comes to hand,
will run at you might and main,
before you know where you are,
intending to do heaven knows
what; and if you don't prepare
and put yourself in motion, you
will be prepared by their fine
and no mistake.
You got me into the scrape,
And I was quite right; however,
I will do all I can to get you
out of it;
but I can only give you good-will
and good advice, and, perhaps,
I may be able to fit answers
to your questions better than
that is all. And now, having
such an auxiliary, you must do
to show the unbelievers that
you are right.
I ought to try, I said, since
you offer me such invaluable
And I think that, if there is
to be a chance of our escaping,
we must explain to them whom
we mean when we say that philosophers
are to rule in the State; then
we shall be able to defend ourselves:
There will be discovered to be
some natures who ought to study
philosophy and to be leaders
in the State; and others who
born to be philosophers, and
are meant to be followers rather
Then now for a definition, he
Follow me, I said, and I hope
that I may in some way or other
be able to give you a satisfactory
I dare say that you remember,
and therefore I need not remind
that a lover, if lie is worthy
of the name, ought to show his
not to some one part of that
which he loves, but to the whole.
I really do not understand,
and therefore beg of you to assist
Another person, I said, might
fairly reply as you do; but a
of pleasure like yourself ought
to know that all who are in the
of youth do somehow or other
raise a pang or emotion in a
and are thought by him to be
worthy of his affectionate regards.
Is not this a way which you have
with the fair: one has a snub
and you praise his charming face;
the hook-nose of another has,
you say, a royal look; while
he who is neither snub nor hooked
has the grace of regularity:
the dark visage is manly, the
are children of the gods; and
as to the sweet `honey pale,'
as they are called, what is the
very name but the invention of
lover who talks in diminutives,
and is not adverse to paleness
if appearing on the cheek of
youth? In a word, there is no
which you will not make, and
nothing which you will not say,
in order not to lose a single
flower that blooms in the spring-time
If you make me an authority
in matters of love, for the sake
of the argument, I assent.
And what do you say of lovers
of wine? Do you not see them
the same? They are glad of any
pretext of drinking any wine.
And the same is true of ambitious
men; if they cannot command an
they are willing to command a
file; and if they cannot be honoured
by really great and important
persons, they are glad to be
by lesser and meaner people,
but honour of some kind they
Once more let me ask: Does he
who desires any class of goods,
desire the whole class or a part
And may we not say of the philosopher
that he is a lover,
not of a part of wisdom only,
but of the whole?
Yes, of the whole.
And he who dislikes learnings,
especially in youth, when he
no power of judging what is good
and what is not, such an one
we maintain not to be a philosopher
or a lover of knowledge,
just as he who refuses his food
is not hungry, and may be said
to have a bad appetite and not
a good one?
Very true, he said.
Whereas he who has a taste for
every sort of knowledge and who
to learn and is never satisfied,
may be justly termed a philosopher?
Am I not right?
Glaucon said: If curiosity makes
a philosopher, you will find
many a strange being will have
a title to the name. All the
of sights have a delight in learning,
and must therefore be included.
Musical amateurs, too, are a
folk strangely out of place among
philosophers, for they are the
last persons in the world who
come to anything like a philosophical
discussion, if they could help,
while they run about at the Dionysiac
festivals as if they had
let out their ears to hear every
chorus; whether the performance
is in town or country--that makes
no difference--they are there.
Now are we to maintain that all
these and any who have similar
as well as the professors of
quite minor arts, are philosophers?
Certainly not, I replied; they
are only an imitation.
He said: Who then are the true
Those, I said, who are lovers
of the vision of truth.
That is also good, he said;
but I should like to know what
To another, I replied, I might
have a difficulty in explaining;
but I am sure that you will admit
a proposition which I am about
What is the proposition?
That since beauty is the opposite
of ugliness, they are two?
And inasmuch as they are two,
each of them is one?
And of just and unjust, good
and evil, and of every other
the same remark holds: taken
singly, each of them one; but
the various combinations of them
with actions and things and with
one another, they are seen in
all sorts of lights and appear
And this is the distinction
which I draw between the sight-loving,
art-loving, practical class and
those of whom I am speaking,
and who are alone worthy of the
name of philosophers.
How do you distinguish them?
The lovers of sounds and sights,
I replied, are, as I conceive,
fond of fine tones and colours
and forms and all the artificial
products that are made out of
them, but their mind is incapable
of seeing or loving absolute
True, he replied.
Few are they who are able to
attain to the sight of this.
And he who, having a sense of
beautiful things has no sense
of absolute beauty, or who, if
another lead him to a knowledge
of that beauty is unable to follow--of
such an one I ask,
Is he awake or in a dream only?
Reflect: is not the dreamer,
sleeping or waking, one who likens
dissimilar things, who puts
the copy in the place of the
I should certainly say that
such an one was dreaming.
But take the case of the other,
who recognises the existence
of absolute beauty and is able
to distinguish the idea from
objects which participate in
the idea, neither putting the
in the place of the idea nor
the idea in the place of the
is he a dreamer, or is he awake?
He is wide awake.
And may we not say that the
mind of the one who knows has
and that the mind of the other,
who opines only, has opinion
But suppose that the latter
should quarrel with us and dispute
our statement, can we administer
any soothing cordial or advice
without revealing to him that
there is sad disorder in his
We must certainly offer him
some good advice, he replied.
Come, then, and let us think
of something to say to him. Shall
by assuring him that he is welcome
to any knowledge which he may
and that we are rejoiced at his
having it? But we should like
him a question: Does he who has
knowledge know something or nothing?
(You must answer for him.)
I answer that he knows something.
Something that is or is not?
Something that is; for how can
that which is not ever be known?
And are we assured, after looking
at the matter from many points
of view, that absolute being
is or may be absolutely known,
but that the utterly non-existent
is utterly unknown?
Nothing can be more certain.
Good. But if there be anything
which is of such a nature as
and not to be, that will have
a place intermediate between
being and the absolute negation
Yes, between them.
And, as knowledge corresponded
to being and ignorance of necessity
to not-being, for that intermediate
between being and not-being
there has to be discovered a
corresponding intermediate between
ignorance and knowledge, if there
Do we admit the existence of
As being the same with knowledge,
or another faculty?
Then opinion and knowledge have
to do with different kinds of
corresponding to this difference
And knowledge is relative to
being and knows being. But before
proceed further I will make a
I will begin by placing faculties
in a class by themselves:
they are powers in us, and in
all other things, by which we
do as we do.
Sight and hearing, for example,
I should call faculties. Have
clearly explained the class which
Yes, I quite understand.
Then let me tell you my view
about them. I do not see them,
and therefore the distinctions
of fire, colour, and the like,
me to discern the differences
of some things, do not apply
In speaking of a faculty I think
only of its sphere and its result;
and that which has the same sphere
and the same result I call
the same faculty, but that which
has another sphere and another
result I call different. Would
that be your way of speaking?
And will you be so very good
as to answer one more question?
Would you say that knowledge
is a faculty, or in what class
Certainly knowledge is a faculty,
and the mightiest of all faculties.
And is opinion also a faculty?
Certainly, he said; for opinion
is that with which we are able
to form an opinion.
And yet you were acknowledging
a little while ago that knowledge
is not the same as opinion?
Why, yes, he said: how can any
reasonable being ever identify
that which is infallible with
that which errs?
An excellent answer, proving,
I said, that we are quite conscious
of a distinction between them.
Then knowledge and opinion having
distinct powers have also distinct
spheres or subject-matters?
That is certain.
Being is the sphere or subject-matter
of knowledge, and knowledge
is to know the nature of being?
And opinion is to have an opinion?
And do we know what we opine?
or is the subject-matter of opinion
the same as the subject-matter
Nay, he replied, that has been
already disproven; if difference
in faculty implies difference
in the sphere or subject matter,
as we were saying, opinion and
knowledge are distinct faculties,
then the sphere of knowledge
and of opinion cannot be the
Then if being is the subject-matter
of knowledge, something else
must be the subject-matter of
Yes, something else.
Well then, is not-being the
subject-matter of opinion? or,
how can there be an opinion at
all about not-being? Reflect:
when a man has an opinion, has
he not an opinion about something?
Can he have an opinion which
is an opinion about nothing?
He who has an opinion has an
opinion about some one thing?
And not-being is not one thing
but, properly speaking, nothing?
Of not-being, ignorance was
assumed to be the necessary correlative;
of being, knowledge?
True, he said.
Then opinion is not concerned
either with being or with not-being?
Not with either.
And can therefore neither be
ignorance nor knowledge?
That seems to be true.
But is opinion to be sought
without and beyond either of
in a greater clearness than knowledge,
or in a greater darkness
Then I suppose that opinion
appears to you to be darker than
but lighter than ignorance?
Both; and in no small degree.
And also to be within and between
Then you would infer that opinion
But were we not saying before,
that if anything appeared to
be of a sort
which is and is not at the same
time, that sort of thing would
also to lie in the interval between
pure being and absolute not-being;
and that the corresponding faculty
is neither knowledge nor ignorance,
but will be found in the interval
And in that interval there has
now been discovered something
which we call opinion?
Then what remains to be discovered
is the object which partakes
equally of the nature of being
and not-being, and cannot rightly
termed either, pure and simple;
this unknown term, when discovered,
we may truly call the subject
of opinion, and assign each to
proper faculty, -the extremes
to the faculties of the extremes
and the mean to the faculty of
This being premised, I would
ask the gentleman who is of opinion
that there is no absolute or
unchangeable idea of beauty--
in whose opinion the beautiful
is the manifold--he, I say,
your lover of beautiful sights,
who cannot bear to be told that
the beautiful is one, and the
just is one, or that anything
to him I would appeal, saying,
Will you be so very kind, sir,
as to tell
us whether, of all these beautiful
things, there is one which will
not be found ugly; or of the
just, which will not be found
or of the holy, which will not
also be unholy?
No, he replied; the beautiful
will in some point of view be
and the same is true of the rest.
And may not the many which are
doubles be also halves?--doubles,
of one thing, and halves of another?
And things great and small,
heavy and light, as they are
will not be denoted by these
any more than by the opposite
True; both these and the opposite
names will always attach to all
And can any one of those many
things which are called by particular
names be said to be this rather
than not to be this?
He replied: They are like the
punning riddles which are asked
at feasts or the children's puzzle
about the eunuch aiming
at the bat, with what he hit
him, as they say in the puzzle,
and upon what the bat was sitting.
The individual objects of
which I am speaking are also
a riddle, and have a double sense:
nor can you fix them in your
mind, either as being or not-being,
or both, or neither.
Then what will you do with them?
I said. Can they have a better
place than between being and
not-being? For they are clearly
not in greater darkness or negation
than not-being, or more full
of light and existence than being.
That is quite true, he said.
Thus then we seem to have discovered
that the many ideas which the
entertain about the beautiful
and about all other things are
about in some region which is
halfway between pure being and
Yes; and we had before agreed
that anything of this kind which
might find was to be described
as matter of opinion, and not
matter of knowledge; being the
intermediate flux which is caught
and detained by the intermediate
Then those who see the many
beautiful, and who yet neither
absolute beauty, nor can follow
any guide who points the way
who see the many just, and not
absolute justice, and the like,--
such persons may be said to have
opinion but not knowledge?
That is certain.
But those who see the absolute
and eternal and immutable may
to know, and not to have opinion
Neither can that be denied.
The one loves and embraces the
subjects of knowledge, the other
of opinion? The latter are the
same, as I dare say will remember,
who listened to sweet sounds
and gazed upon fair colours,
not tolerate the existence of
Yes, I remember.
Shall we then be guilty of any
impropriety in calling them lovers
of opinion rather than lovers
of wisdom, and will they be very
with us for thus describing them?
I shall tell them not to be
angry; no man should be angry
at what is true.
But those who love the truth
in each thing are to be called
of wisdom and not lovers of opinion.