SOCRATES - GLAUCON
AND thus, Glaucon, after the
argument has gone a weary way,
the true and the false philosophers
have at length appeared in view.
I do not think, he said, that
the way could have been shortened.
I suppose not, I said; and yet
I believe that we might have
a better view of both of them
if the discussion could have
confined to this one subject
and if there were not many other
questions awaiting us, which
he who desires to see in what
the life of the just differs
from that of the unjust must
And what is the next question?
Surely, I said, the one which
follows next in order. Inasmuch
philosophers only are able to
grasp the eternal and unchangeable,
and those who wander in the region
of the many and variable
are not philosophers, I must
ask you which of the two classes
should be the rulers of our State?
And how can we rightly answer
Whichever of the two are best
able to guard the laws and institutions
of our State--let them be our
Neither, I said, can there be
any question that the guardian
who is to keep anything should
have eyes rather than no eyes?
There can be no question of
And are not those who are verily
and indeed wanting in the knowledge
of the true being of each thing,
and who have in their souls
no clear pattern, and are unable
as with a painter's eye
to look at the absolute truth
and to that original to repair,
and having perfect vision of
the other world to order the
about beauty, goodness, justice
in this, if not already ordered,
and to guard and preserve the
order of them--are not such persons,
I ask, simply blind?
Truly, he replied, they are
much in that condition.
And shall they be our guardians
when there are others who,
besides being their equals in
experience and falling short
in no particular of virtue, also
know the very truth of each thing?
There can be no reason, he said,
for rejecting those who have
greatest of all great qualities;
they must always have the first
place unless they fail in some
Suppose then, I said, that we
determine how far they can unite
and the other excellences.
By all means.
In the first place, as we began
by observing, the nature of the
philosopher has to be ascertained.
We must come to an understanding
about him, and, when we have
done so, then, if I am not mistaken,
we shall also acknowledge that
such an union of qualities is
and that those in whom they are
united, and those only, should
rulers in the State.
What do you mean?
Let us suppose that philosophical
minds always love knowledge
of a sort which shows them the
eternal nature not varying from
generation and corruption.
And further, I said, let us
agree that they are lovers of
all true being;
there is no part whether greater
or less, or more or less honourable,
which they are willing to renounce;
as we said before of the lover
and the man of ambition.
And if they are to be what we
were describing, is there not
quality which they should also
Truthfulness: they will never
intentionally receive into their
mind falsehood, which is their
detestation, and they will love
Yes, that may be safely affirmed
`May be,' my friend, I replied,
is not the word; say rather `must
be affirmed:' for he whose nature
is amorous of anything cannot
loving all that belongs or is
akin to the object of his affections.
Right, he said.
And is there anything more akin
to wisdom than truth?
How can there be?
Can the same nature be a lover
of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?
The true lover of learning then
must from his earliest youth,
as far as in him lies, desire
But then again, as we know by
experience, he whose desires
strong in one direction will
have them weaker in others; they
be like a stream which has been
drawn off into another channel.
He whose desires are drawn towards
knowledge in every form will
in the pleasures of the soul,
and will hardly feel bodily pleasure--
I mean, if he be a true philosopher
and not a sham one.
That is most certain.
Such an one is sure to be temperate
and the reverse of covetous;
for the motives which make another
man desirous of having and spending,
have no place in his character.
Another criterion of the philosophical
nature has also to be considered.
What is that?
There should be no secret corner
of illiberality; nothing can
more antagonistic than meanness
to a soul which is ever longing
after the whole of things both
divine and human.
Most true, he replied.
Then how can he who has magnificence
of mind and is the spectator
of all time and all existence,
think much of human life?
Or can such an one account death
Then the cowardly and mean nature
has no part in true philosophy?
Or again: can he who is harmoniously
constituted, who is not
covetous or mean, or a boaster,
or a coward-can he, I say,
ever be unjust or hard in his
Then you will soon observe whether
a man is just and gentle,
or rude and unsociable; these
are the signs which distinguish
in youth the philosophical nature
from the unphilosophical.
There is another point which
should be remarked.
Whether he has or has not a
pleasure in learning; for no
love that which gives him pain,
and in which after much toil
makes little progress.
And again, if he is forgetful
and retains nothing of what he
will he not be an empty vessel?
That is certain.
Labouring in vain, he must end
in hating himself and his
fruitless occupation? Yes.
Then a soul which forgets cannot
be ranked among genuine philosophic
we must insist that the philosopher
should have a good memory?
And once more, the inharmonious
and unseemly nature can only
And do you consider truth to
be akin to proportion or to disproportion?
Then, besides other qualities,
we must try to find a naturally
well-proportioned and gracious
mind, which will move spontaneously
towards the true being of everything.
Well, and do not all these qualities,
which we have been enumerating,
go together, and are they not,
in a manner, necessary to a soul,
which is to have a full and perfect
participation of being?
They are absolutely necessary,
And must not that be a blameless
study which he only can pursue
the gift of a good memory, and
is quick to learn,--noble, gracious,
the friend of truth, justice,
courage, temperance, who are
The god of jealousy himself,
he said, could find no fault
And to men like him, I said,
when perfected by years and education,
and to these only you will entrust
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS
Here Adeimantus interposed and
said: To these statements,
Socrates, no one can offer a
reply; but when you talk in this
a strange feeling passes over
the minds of your hearers: They
that they are led astray a little
at each step in the argument,
owing to their own want of skill
in asking and answering questions;
these littles accumulate, and
at the end of the discussion
are found to have sustained a
mighty overthrow and all their
notions appear to be turned upside
down. And as unskilful players
of draughts are at last shut
up by their more skilful adversaries
and have no piece to move, so
they too find themselves shut
up at last;
for they have nothing to say
in this new game of which words
are the counters; and yet all
the time they are in the right.
The observation is suggested
to me by what is now occurring.
For any one of us might say,
that although in words he is
able to meet you at each step
of the argument, he sees as a
that the votaries of philosophy,
when they carry on the study,
not only in youth as a part of
education, but as the pursuit
of their maturer years, most
of them become strange monsters,
not to say utter rogues, and
that those who may be considered
of them are made useless to the
world by the very study which
Well, and do you think that
those who say so are wrong?
I cannot tell, he replied; but
I should like to know what is
Hear my answer; I am of opinion
that they are quite right.
Then how can you be justified
in saying that cities will not
from evil until philosophers
rule in them, when philosophers
are acknowledged by us to be
of no use to them?
You ask a question, I said,
to which a reply can only be
in a parable.
Yes, Socrates; and that is a
way of speaking to which you
at all accustomed, I suppose.
I perceive, I said, that you
are vastly amused at having plunged
into such a hopeless discussion;
but now hear the parable, and
you will be still more amused
at the meagreness of my imagination:
for the manner in which the best
men are treated in their own
is so grievous that no single
thing on earth is comparable
and therefore, if I am to plead
their cause, I must have recourse
to fiction, and put together
a figure made up of many things,
like the fabulous unions of goats
and stags which are found
in pictures. Imagine then a fleet
or a ship in which there
is a captain who is taller and
stronger than any of the crew,
but he is a little deaf and has
a similar infirmity in sight,
and his knowledge of navigation
is not much better.
The sailors are quarrelling with
one another about the steering--
every one is of opinion that
he has a right to steer, though
never learned the art of navigation
and cannot tell who taught him
or when he learned, and will
further assert that it cannot
and they are ready to cut in
pieces any one who says the contrary.
They throng about the captain,
begging and praying him to commit
the helm to them; and if at any
time they do not prevail, but
are preferred to them, they kill
the others or throw them overboard,
and having first chained up the
noble captain's senses with drink
or some narcotic drug, they mutiny
and take possession of the ship
and make free with the stores;
thus, eating and drinking, they
on their voyage in such a manner
as might be expected of them.
Him who is their partisan and
cleverly aids them in their plot
for getting the ship out of the
captain's hands into their own
whether by force or persuasion,
they compliment with the name
of sailor, pilot, able seaman,
and abuse the other sort of man,
whom they call a good-for-nothing;
but that the true pilot must
pay attention to the year and
seasons and sky and stars and
and whatever else belongs to
his art, if he intends to be
qualified for the command of
a ship, and that he must and
be the steerer, whether other
people like or not-the possibility
of this union of authority with
the steerer's art has never seriously
entered into their thoughts or
been made part of their calling.
Now in vessels which are in a
state of mutiny and by sailors
who are mutineers, how will the
true pilot be regarded?
Will he not be called by them
a prater, a star-gazer, a
Of course, said Adeimantus.
Then you will hardly need, I
said, to hear the interpretation
of the figure,
which describes the true philosopher
in his relation to the State;
for you understand already.
Then suppose you now take this
parable to the gentleman who
surprised at finding that philosophers
have no honour in their cities;
explain it to him and try to
convince him that their having
would be far more extraordinary.
Say to him, that, in deeming
the best votaries of philosophy
useless to the rest of the world,
he is right; but also tell him
to attribute their uselessness
to the fault of those who will
use them, and not to themselves.
The pilot should not humbly beg
the sailors to be commanded by
him--that is not the order of
neither are `the wise to go to
the doors of the rich'--the ingenious
author of this saying told a
lie--but the truth is, that,
when a man
is ill, whether he be rich or
poor, to the physician he must
and he who wants to be governed,
to him who is able to govern.
The ruler who is good for anything
ought not to beg his subjects
to be ruled by him; although
the present governors of mankind
are of a
different stamp; they may be
justly compared to the mutinous
and the true helmsmen to those
who are called by them good-for-nothings
Precisely so, he said.
For these reasons, and among
men like these, philosophy, the
pursuit of all, is not likely
to be much esteemed by those
the opposite faction; not that
the greatest and most lasting
is done to her by her opponents,
but by her own professing followers,
the same of whom you suppose
the accuser to say, that the
number of them are arrant rogues,
and the best are useless;
in which opinion I agreed.
And the reason why the good
are useless has now been explained?
Then shall we proceed to show
that the corruption of the majority
is also unavoidable, and that
this is not to be laid to the
of philosophy any more than the
By all means.
And let us ask and answer in
turn, first going back to the
of the gentle and noble nature.
Truth, as you will remember,
was his leader, whom he followed
always and in all things;
failing in this, he was an impostor,
and had no part or lot
in true philosophy.
Yes, that was said.
Well, and is not this one quality,
to mention no others,
greatly at variance with present
notions of him?
Certainly, he said.
And have we not a right to say
in his defence, that the true
of knowledge is always striving
after being--that is his nature;
he will not rest in the multiplicity
of individuals which is an
appearance only, but will go
on--the keen edge will not be
nor the force of his desire abate
until he have attained the knowledge
of the true nature of every essence
by a sympathetic and kindred
power in the soul, and by that
power drawing near and mingling
becoming incorporate with very
being, having begotten mind and
he will have knowledge and will
live and grow truly, and then,
and not till then, will he cease
from his travail.
Nothing, he said, can be more
just than such a description
And will the love of a lie be
any part of a philosopher's nature?
Will he not utterly hate a lie?
And when truth is the captain,
we cannot suspect any evil of
which he leads?
Justice and health of mind will
be of the company, and temperance
will follow after?
True, he replied.
Neither is there any reason
why I should again set in array
the philosopher's virtues, as
you will doubtless remember
that courage, magnificence, apprehension,
memory, were his
natural gifts. And you objected
that, although no one could deny
what I then said, still, if you
leave words and look at facts,
the persons who are thus described
are some of them manifestly useless,
and the greater number utterly
depraved; we were then led to
into the grounds of these accusations,
and have now arrived at the point
of asking why are the majority
bad, which question of necessity
brought us back to the examination
and definition of the true philosopher.
And we have next to consider
the corruptions of the philosophic
why so many are spoiled and so
few escape spoiling--I am speaking
of those who were said to be
useless but not wicked--and,
have done with them, we will
speak of the imitators of philosophy,
what manner of men are they who
aspire after a profession
which is above them and of which
they are unworthy, and then,
by their manifold inconsistencies,
bring upon philosophy, and upon
all philosophers, that universal
reprobation of which we speak.
What are these corruptions?
I will see if I can explain
them to you. Every one will admit
a nature having in perfection
all the qualities which we required
in a philosopher, is a rare plant
which is seldom seen among men.
And what numberless and powerful
causes tend to destroy these
In the first place there are
their own virtues, their courage,
and the rest of them, every one
of which praise worthy qualities
(and this is a most singular
circumstance) destroys and distracts
from philosophy the soul which
is the possessor of them.
That is very singular, he replied.
Then there are all the ordinary
goods of life--beauty, wealth,
strength, rank, and great connections
in the State--you understand
the sort of things--these also
have a corrupting and distracting
I understand; but I should like
to know more precisely what you
mean about them.
Grasp the truth as a whole,
I said, and in the right way;
then have no difficulty in apprehending
the preceding remarks,
and they will no longer appear
strange to you.
And how am I to do so? he asked.
Why, I said, we know that all
germs or seeds, whether vegetable
or animal, when they fail to
meet with proper nutriment or
or soil, in proportion to their
vigour, are all the more sensitive
to the want of a suitable environment,
for evil is a greater enemy
to what is good than what is
There is reason in supposing
that the finest natures, when
alien conditions, receive more
injury than the inferior,
because the contrast is greater.
And may we not say, Adeimantus,
that the most gifted minds,
when they are ill-educated, become
pre-eminently bad? Do not
great crimes and the spirit of
pure evil spring out of a fulness
of nature ruined by education
rather than from any inferiority,
whereas weak natures are scarcely
capable of any very great good
or very great evil?
There I think that you are right.
And our philosopher follows
the same analogy-he is like a
having proper nurture, must necessarily
grow and mature
into all virtue, but, if sown
and planted in an alien soil,
becomes the most noxious of all
weeds, unless he be preserved
by some divine power. Do you
really think, as people so often
that our youth are corrupted
by Sophists, or that private
of the art corrupt them in any
degree worth speaking of?
Are not the public who say these
things the greatest of all Sophists?
And do they not educate to perfection
young and old, men and women
and fashion them after their
When is this accomplished? he
When they meet together, and
the world sits down at an assembly,
or in a court of law, or a theatre,
or a camp, or in any other
popular resort, and there is
a great uproar, and they praise
some things which are being said
or done, and blame other things,
equally exaggerating both, shouting
and clapping their hands,
and the echo of the rocks and
the place in which they are assembled
redoubles the sound of the praise
or blame--at such a time will
a young man's heart, as they
say, leap within him? Will any
training enable him to stand
firm against the overwhelming
of popular opinion? or will he
be carried away by the stream?
Will he not have the notions
of good and evil which the public
in general have--he will do as
they do, and as they are, such
Yes, Socrates; necessity will
And yet, I said, there is a
still greater necessity, which
not been mentioned.
What is that?
The gentle force of attainder
or confiscation or death which,
as you are aware, these new Sophists
and educators who are the public,
apply when their words are powerless.
Indeed they do; and in right
Now what opinion of any other
Sophist, or of any private person,
can be expected to overcome in
such an unequal contest?
None, he replied.
No, indeed, I said, even to
make the attempt is a great piece
of folly; there neither is, nor
has been, nor is ever likely
any different type of character
which has had no other training
in virtue but that which is supplied
by public opinion--I speak,
my friend, of human virtue only;
what is more than human,
as the proverb says, is not included:
for I would not have
you ignorant that, in the present
evil state of governments,
whatever is saved and comes to
good is saved by the power of
as we may truly say.
I quite assent, he replied.
Then let me crave your assent
also to a further observation.
What are you going to say?
Why, that all those mercenary
individuals, whom the many call
Sophists and whom they deem to
be their adversaries, do, in
teach nothing but the opinion
of the many, that is to say,
of their assemblies; and this
is their wisdom. I might compare
to a man who should study the
tempers and desires of a mighty
beast who is fed by him-he would
learn how to approach and handle
also at what times and from what
causes he is dangerous or the
and what is the meaning of his
several cries, and by what sounds,
when another utters them, he
is soothed or infuriated; and
may suppose further, that when,
by continually attending upon
he has become perfect in all
this, he calls his knowledge
and makes of it a system or art,
which he proceeds to teach,
although he has no real notion
of what he means by the principles
or passions of which he is speaking,
but calls this honourable
and that dishonourable, or good
or evil, or just or unjust,
all in accordance with the tastes
and tempers of the great brute.
Good he pronounces to be that
in which the beast delights and
evil to be
that which he dislikes; and he
can give no other account of
that the just and noble are the
necessary, having never himself
and having no power of explaining
to others the nature of either,
or the difference between them,
which is immense. By heaven,
would not such an one be a rare
Indeed, he would.
And in what way does he who
thinks that wisdom is the discernment
of the tempers and tastes of
the motley multitude, whether
or music, or, finally, in politics,
differ from him whom I have been
describing? For when a man consorts
with the many, and exhibits
to them his poem or other work
of art or the service which he
done the State, making them his
judges when he is not obliged,
the so-called necessity of Diomede
will oblige him to produce whatever
they praise. And yet the reasons
are utterly ludicrous which they
in confirmation of their own
notions about the honourable
Did you ever hear any of them
which were not?
No, nor am I likely to hear.
You recognise the truth of what
I have been saying? Then let
me ask you
to consider further whether the
world will ever be induced to
in the existence of absolute
beauty rather than of the many
or of the absolute in each kind
rather than of the many in each
Then the world cannot possibly
be a philosopher?
And therefore philosophers must
inevitably fall under the censure
of the world?
And of individuals who consort
with the mob and seek to please
That is evident.
Then, do you see any way in
which the philosopher can be
in his calling to the end? and
remember what we were saying
that he was to have quickness
and memory and courage and magnificence--
these were admitted by us to
be the true philosopher's gifts.
Will not such an one from his
early childhood be in all things
first among all, especially if
his bodily endowments are like
Certainly, he said.
And his friends and fellow-citizens
will want to use him as he gets
older for their own purposes?
Falling at his feet, they will
make requests to him and do him
and flatter him, because they
want to get into their hands
the power which he will one day
That often happens, he said.
And what will a man such as
he be likely to do under such
especially if he be a citizen
of a great city, rich and noble,
and a tall proper youth? Will
he not be full of boundless aspirations,
and fancy himself able to manage
the affairs of Hellenes and of
and having got such notions into
his head will he not dilate
and elevate himself in the fulness
of vain pomp and senseless pride?
To be sure he will.
Now, when he is in this state
of mind, if some one gently comes
to him and tells him that he
is a fool and must get understanding,
which can only be got by slaving
for it, do you think that,
under such adverse circumstances,
he will be easily induced
And even if there be some one
who through inherent goodness
or natural reasonableness has
had his eyes opened a little
humbled and taken captive by
philosophy, how will his friends
behave when they think that they
are likely to lose the advantage
which they were hoping to reap
from his companionship?
Will they not do and say anything
to prevent him from yielding
to his better nature and to render
his teacher powerless,
using to this end private intrigues
as well as public prosecutions?
There can be no doubt of it.
And how can one who is thus
circumstanced ever become a philosopher?
Then were we not right in saying
that even the very qualities
which make a man a philosopher
may, if he be ill-educated, divert
him from philosophy, no less
than riches and their accompaniments
and the other so-called goods
We were quite right.
Thus, my excellent friend, is
brought about all that ruin and
which I have been describing
of the natures best adapted to
of all pursuits; they are natures
which we maintain to be rare
at any time;
this being the class out of which
come the men who are the authors
of the greatest evil to States
and individuals; and also of
good when the tide carries them
in that direction; but a small
man never was the doer of any
great thing either to individuals
or to States.
That is most true, he said.
And so philosophy is left desolate,
with her marriage rite incomplete:
for her own have fallen away
and forsaken her, and while they
are leading a false and unbecoming
life, other unworthy persons,
seeing that she has no kinsmen
to be her protectors, enter in
and dishonour her; and fasten
upon her the reproaches which,
as you say, her reprovers utter,
who affirm of her votaries that
some are good for nothing, and
that the greater number deserve
the severest punishment.
That is certainly what people
Yes; and what else would you
expect, I said, when you think
of the puny
creatures who, seeing this land
open to them--a land well stocked
with fair names and showy titles--like
prisoners running out of prison
into a sanctuary, take a leap
out of their trades into philosophy;
those who do so being probably
the cleverest hands at their
miserable crafts? For, although
philosophy be in this evil case,
still there remains a dignity
about her which is not to be
in the arts. And many are thus
attracted by her whose natures
are imperfect and whose souls
are maimed and disfigured by
their meannesses, as their bodies
are by their trades and crafts.
Is not this unavoidable?
Are they not exactly like a
bald little tinker who has just
out of durance and come into
a fortune; he takes a bath and
on a new coat, and is decked
out as a bridegroom going to
his master's daughter, who is
left poor and desolate?
A most exact parallel.
What will be the issue of such
marriages? Will they not be vile
There can be no question of
And when persons who are unworthy
of education approach philosophy
and make an alliance with her
who is a rank above them what
of ideas and opinions are likely
to be generated? Will they not
sophisms captivating to the ear,
having nothing in them genuine,
or worthy of or akin to true
No doubt, he said.
Then, Adeimantus, I said, the
worthy disciples of philosophy
but a small remnant: perchance
some noble and well-educated
detained by exile in her service,
who in the absence of corrupting
influences remains devoted to
her; or some lofty soul born
in a mean city, the politics
of which he contemns and neglects;
and there may be a gifted few
who leave the arts, which they
justly despise, and come to her;--or
peradventure there are some
who are restrained by our friend
Theages' bridle; for everything
in the life of Theages conspired
to divert him from philosophy;
but ill-health kept him away
from politics. My own case of
the internal sign is hardly worth
mentioning, for rarely, if ever,
has such a monitor been given
to any other man. Those who belong
to this small class have tasted
how sweet and blessed a possession
philosophy is, and have also
seen enough of the madness of
and they know that no politician
is honest, nor is there any
champion of justice at whose
side they may fight and be saved.
Such an one may be compared to
a man who has fallen among wild
he will not join in the wickedness
of his fellows, but neither
is he able singly to resist all
their fierce natures, and therefore
seeing that he would be of no
use to the State or to his friends,
and reflecting that he would
have to throw away his life without
doing any good either to himself
or others, he holds his peace,
and goes his own way. He is like
one who, in the storm of dust
sleet which the driving wind
hurries along, retires under
of a wall; and seeing the rest
of mankind full of wickedness,
he is content, if only he can
live his own life and be pure
evil or unrighteousness, and
depart in peace and good-will,
Yes, he said, and he will have
done a great work before he departs.
A great work--yes; but not the
greatest, unless he find a State
suitable to him; for in a State
which is suitable to him,
he will have a larger growth
and be the saviour of his country,
as well as of himself.
The causes why philosophy is
in such an evil name have now
sufficiently explained: the injustice
of the charges against
her has been shown-is there anything
more which you wish to say?
Nothing more on that subject,
he replied; but I should like
which of the governments now
existing is in your opinion the
adapted to her.
Not any of them, I said; and
that is precisely the accusation
bring against them--not one of
them is worthy of the philosophic
and hence that nature is warped
and estranged;--as the exotic
seed which is sown in a foreign
land becomes denaturalized,
and is wont to be overpowered
and to lose itself in the new
even so this growth of philosophy,
instead of persisting,
degenerates and receives another
character. But if philosophy
finds in the State that perfection
which she herself is, then will
be seen that she is in truth
divine, and that all other things,
whether natures of men or institutions,
are but human;--and now,
I know that you are going to
ask, what that State is.
No, he said; there you are wrong,
for I was going to ask another
whether it is the State of which.
we are the founders and inventors,
or some other?
Yes, I replied, ours in most
respects; but you may remember
saying before, that some living
authority would always be required
in the State having the same
idea of the constitution which
you when as legislator you were
laying down the laws.
That was said, he replied.
Yes, but not in a satisfactory
manner; you frightened us by
interposing objections, which
certainly showed that the discussion
would be long and difficult;
and what still remains is the
reverse of easy.
What is there remaining?
The question how the study of
philosophy may be so ordered
as not to be
the ruin of the State: All great
attempts are attended with risk;
`hard is the good,' as men say.
Still, he said, let the point
be cleared up, and the enquiry
will then be complete.
I shall not be hindered, I said,
by any want of will, but, if
by a want of power: my zeal you
may see for yourselves; and please
to remark in what I am about
to say how boldly and unhesitatingly
declare that States should pursue
philosophy, not as they do now,
but in a different spirit.
In what manner?
At present, I said, the students
of philosophy are quite young;
beginning when they are hardly
past childhood, they devote only
saved from moneymaking and housekeeping
to such pursuits; and even
those of them who are reputed
to have most of the philosophic
when they come within sight of
the great difficulty of the subject,
I mean dialectic, take themselves
off. In after life when invited
by some one else, they may, perhaps,
go and hear a lecture,
and about this they make much
ado, for philosophy is not considered
by them to be their proper business:
at last, when they grow old,
in most cases they are extinguished
more truly than Heracleitus'
sun, inasmuch as they never light
But what ought to be their course?
Just the opposite. In childhood
and youth their study, and what
philosophy they learn, should
be suited to their tender years:
during this period while they
are growing up towards manhood,
the chief and special care should
be given to their bodies
that they may have them to use
in the service of philosophy;
as life advances and the intellect
begins to mature, let them increase
the gymnastics of the soul; but
when the strength of our citizens
fails and is past civil and military
duties, then let them range
at will and engage in no serious
labour, as we intend them to
happily here, and to crown this
life with a similar happiness
How truly in earnest you are,
Socrates! he said; I am sure
and yet most of your hearers,
if I am not mistaken, are likely
to be still
more earnest in their opposition
to you, and will never be convinced;
Thrasymachus least of all.
Do not make a quarrel, I said,
between Thrasymachus and me,
recently become friends, although,
indeed, we were never enemies;
for I shall go on striving to
the utmost until I either convert
and other men, or do something
which may profit them against
when they live again, and hold
the like discourse in another
You are speaking of a time which
is not very near.
Rather, I replied, of a time
which is as nothing in comparison
with eternity. Nevertheless,
I do not wonder that the many
to believe; for they have never
seen that of which we are now
speaking realised; they have
seen only a conventional imitation
of philosophy, consisting of
words artificially brought together,
not like these of ours having
a natural unity. But a human
who in word and work is perfectly
moulded, as far as he can be,
into the proportion and likeness
of virtue--such a man ruling
in a city which bears the same
image, they have never yet seen,
neither one nor many of them--do
you think that they ever did?
No, my friend, and they have
seldom, if ever, heard free and
such as men utter when they are
earnestly and by every means
power seeking after truth for
the sake of knowledge, while
coldly on the subtleties of controversy,
of which the end is opinion
and strife, whether they meet
with them in the courts of law
or in society.
They are strangers, he said,
to the words of which you speak.
And this was what we foresaw,
and this was the reason why truth
forced us to admit, not without
fear and hesitation, that neither
cities nor States nor individuals
will ever attain perfection until
the small class of philosophers
whom we termed useless but not
corrupt are providentially compelled,
whether they will or not,
to take care of the State, and
until a like necessity be laid
on the State to obey them; or
until kings, or if not kings,
the sons of kings or princes,
are divinely inspired with a
love of true philosophy. That
either or both of these alternatives
are impossible, I see no reason
to affirm: if they were so,
we might indeed be justly ridiculed
as dreamers and visionaries.
Am I not right?
If then, in the countless ages
of the past, or at the present
hour in some foreign clime which
is far away and beyond our ken,
the perfected philosopher is
or has been or hereafter shall
compelled by a superior power
to have the charge of the State,
we are ready to assert to the
death, that this our constitution
and is--yea, and will be whenever
the Muse of Philosophy is queen.
There is no impossibility in
all this; that there is a difficulty,
we acknowledge ourselves.
My opinion agrees with yours,
But do you mean to say that
this is not the opinion of the
I should imagine not, he replied.
O my friend, I said, do not
attack the multitude: they will
their minds, if, not in an aggressive
spirit, but gently and with
the view of soothing them and
removing their dislike of over-education,
you show them your philosophers
as they really are and describe
as you were just now doing their
character and profession,
and then mankind will see that
he of whom you are speaking is
such as they supposed--if they
view him in this new light, they
surely change their notion of
him, and answer in another strain.
Who can be at enmity with one
who loves them, who that is himself
gentle and free from envy will
be jealous of one in whom there
is no jealousy? Nay, let me answer
for you, that in a few this
harsh temper may be found but
not in the majority of mankind.
I quite agree with you, he said.
And do you not also think, as
I do, that the harsh feeling
the many entertain towards philosophy
originates in the pretenders,
who rush in uninvited, and are
always abusing them, and finding
with them, who make persons instead
of things the theme of their
conversation? and nothing can
be more unbecoming in philosophers
It is most unbecoming.
For he, Adeimantus, whose mind
is fixed upon true being,
has surely no time to look down
upon the affairs of earth,
or to be filled with malice and
envy, contending against men;
his eye is ever directed towards
things fixed and immutable,
which he sees neither injuring
nor injured by one another,
but all in order moving according
to reason; these he imitates,
and to these he will, as far
as he can, conform himself. Can
help imitating that with which
he holds reverential converse?
And the philosopher holding
converse with the divine order,
becomes orderly and divine, as
far as the nature of man allows;
but like every one else, he will
suffer from detraction.
And if a necessity be laid upon
him of fashioning, not only himself,
but human nature generally, whether
in States or individuals,
into that which he beholds elsewhere,
will he, think you, be an
unskilful artificer of justice,
temperance, and every civil virtue?
Anything but unskilful.
And if the world perceives that
what we are saying about him
is the truth,
will they be angry with philosophy?
Will they disbelieve us,
when we tell them that no State
can be happy which is not designed
by artists who imitate the heavenly
They will not be angry if they
understand, he said. But how
they draw out the plan of which
you are speaking?
They will begin by taking the
State and the manners of men,
from which, as from a tablet,
they will rub out the picture,
a clean surface. This is no easy
task. But whether easy or not,
herein will lie the difference
between them and every other
they will have nothing to do
either with individual or State,
inscribe no laws, until they
have either found, or themselves
a clean surface.
They will be very right, he
Having effected this, they will
proceed to trace an outline
of the constitution?
And when they are filling in
the work, as I conceive, they
often turn their eyes upwards
and downwards: I mean that they
will first look at absolute justice
and beauty and temperance,
and again at the human copy;
and will mingle and temper the
elements of life into the image
of a man; and thus they will
according to that other image,
which, when existing among men,
Homer calls the form and likeness
Very true, he said.
And one feature they will erase,
and another they will put in,
they have made the ways of men,
as far as possible, agreeable
the ways of God?
Indeed, he said, in no way could
they make a fairer picture.
And now, I said, are we beginning
to persuade those whom you
described as rushing at us with
might and main, that the painter
of constitutions is such an one
as we are praising; at whom they
were so very indignant because
to his hands we committed the
and are they growing a little
calmer at what they have just
Much calmer, if there is any
sense in them.
Why, where can they still find
any ground for objection?
Will they doubt that the philosopher
is a lover of truth and being?
They would not be so unreasonable.
Or that his nature, being such
as we have delineated, is akin
to the highest good?
Neither can they doubt this.
But again, will they tell us
that such a nature, placed under
favourable circumstances, will
not be perfectly good and wise
if any ever was? Or will they
prefer those whom we have rejected?
Then will they still be angry
at our saying, that, until philosophers
bear rule, States and individuals
will have no rest from evil,
nor will this our imaginary State
ever be realised?
I think that they will be less
Shall we assume that they are
not only less angry but quite
and that they have been converted
and for very shame, if for no
other reason, cannot refuse to
come to terms?
By all means, he said.
Then let us suppose that the
reconciliation has been effected.
Will any one deny the other point,
that there may be sons of kings
or princes who are by nature
Surely no man, he said.
And when they have come into
being will any one say that they
of necessity be destroyed; that
they can hardly be saved is not
denied even by us; but that in
the whole course of ages no single
one of them can escape--who will
venture to affirm this?
But, said I, one is enough;
let there be one man who has
obedient to his will, and he
might bring into existence the
polity about which the world
is so incredulous.
Yes, one is enough.
The ruler may impose the laws
and institutions which we have
been describing, and the citizens
may possibly be willing to obey
And that others should approve
of what we approve, is no miracle
I think not.
But we have sufficiently shown,
in what has preceded, that all
if only possible, is assuredly
for the best.
And now we say not only that
our laws, if they could be enacted,
would be for the best, but also
that the enactment of them,
though difficult, is not impossible.
And so with pain and toil we
have reached the end of one subject,
but more remains to be discussed;--how
and by what studies and pursuits
will the saviours of the constitution
be created, and at what ages
are they to apply themselves
to their several studies?
I omitted the troublesome business
of the possession of women,
and the procreation of children,
and the appointment of the rulers,
because I knew that the perfect
State would be eyed with jealousy
and was difficult of attainment;
but that piece of cleverness
not of much service to me, for
I had to discuss them all the
The women and children are now
disposed of, but the other question
of the rulers must be investigated
from the very beginning.
We were saying, as you will remember,
that they were to be lovers
of their country, tried by the
test of pleasures and pains,
and neither in hardships, nor
in dangers, nor at any other
moment were to lose their patriotism--he
was to be rejected
who failed, but he who always
came forth pure, like gold tried
in the refiner's fire, was to
be made a ruler, and to receive
honours and rewards in life and
after death. This was the sort
of thing which was being said,
and then the argument turned
and veiled her face; not liking
to stir the question which has
I perfectly remember, he said.
Yes, my friend, I said, and
I then shrank from hazarding
the bold word;
but now let me dare to say--that
the perfect guardian must be
Yes, he said, let that be affirmed.
And do not suppose that there
will be many of them; for the
which were deemed by us to be
essential rarely grow together;
they are mostly found in shreds
What do you mean? he said.
You are aware, I replied, that
quick intelligence, memory, sagacity,
cleverness, and similar qualities,
do not often grow together,
and that persons who possess
them and are at the same time
high-spirited and magnanimous
are not so constituted by nature
as to live orderly and in a peaceful
and settled manner; they are
driven any way by their impulses,
and all solid principle goes
out of them.
Very true, he said.
On the other hand, those steadfast
natures which can better be
depended upon, which in a battle
are impregnable to fear and immovable,
are equally immovable when there
is anything to be learned;
they are always in a torpid state,
and are apt to yawn and go
to sleep over any intellectual
And yet we were saying that
both qualities were necessary
in those to whom the higher education
is to be imparted,
and who are to share in any office
Certainly, he said.
And will they be a class which
is rarely found?
Then the aspirant must not only
be tested in those labours
and dangers and pleasures which
we mentioned before, but there
is another kind of probation
which we did not mention--he
exercised also in many kinds
of knowledge, to see whether
will be able to endure the highest
of all, will faint under them,
as in any other studies and exercises.
Yes, he said, you are quite
right in testing him. But what
mean by the highest of all knowledge?
You may remember, I said, that
we divided the soul into three
and distinguished the several
natures of justice, temperance,
Indeed, he said, if I had forgotten,
I should not deserve to hear
And do you remember the word
of caution which preceded the
To what do you refer?
We were saying, if I am not
mistaken, that he who wanted
to see them
in their perfect beauty must
take a longer and more circuitous
at the end of which they would
appear; but that we could add
on a popular
exposition of them on a level
with the discussion which had
And you replied that such an
exposition would be enough for
and so the enquiry was continued
in what to me seemed to be a
inaccurate manner; whether you
were satisfied or not, it is
Yes, he said, I thought and
the others thought that you gave
a fair measure of truth.
But, my friend, I said, a measure
of such things Which in any degree
falls short of the whole truth
is not fair measure; for nothing
imperfect is the measure of anything,
although persons are too apt
to be contented and think that
they need search no further.
Not an uncommon case when people
Yes, I said; and there cannot
be any worse fault in a guardian
of the State and of the laws.
The guardian then, I said, must
be required to take the longer
and toll at learning as well
as at gymnastics, or he will
the highest knowledge of all
which, as we were just now saying,
is his proper calling.
What, he said, is there a knowledge
still higher than this--
higher than justice and the other
Yes, I said, there is. And of
the virtues too we must behold
the outline merely, as at present--nothing
short of the most finished
picture should satisfy us. When
little things are elaborated
with an infinity of pains, in
order that they may appear in
full beauty and utmost clearness,
how ridiculous that we should
not think the highest truths
worthy of attaining the highest
A right noble thought; but do
you suppose that we shall refrain
from asking you what is this
Nay, I said, ask if you will;
but I am certain that you have
the answer many times, and now
you either do not understand
as I rather think, you are disposed
to be troublesome; for you
have of been told that the idea
of good is the highest knowledge,
and that all other things become
useful and advantageous only
by their use of this. You can
hardly be ignorant that of this
I was about to speak, concerning
which, as you have often heard
me say, we know so little; and,
without which, any other knowledge
or possession of any kind will
profit us nothing. Do you think
that the possession of all other
things is of any value if we
not possess the good? or the
knowledge of all other things
have no knowledge of beauty and
You are further aware that most
people affirm pleasure to be
but the finer sort of wits say
it is knowledge
And you are aware too that the
latter cannot explain what they
by knowledge, but are obliged
after all to say knowledge of
Yes, I said, that they should
begin by reproaching us with
ignorance of the good, and then
presume our knowledge of it--
for the good they define to be
knowledge of the good, just as
understood them when they use
the term `good'--this is of course
Most true, he said.
And those who make pleasure
their good are in equal perplexity;
for they are compelled to admit
that there are bad pleasures
And therefore to acknowledge
that bad and good are the same?
There can be no doubt about
the numerous difficulties in
question is involved.
There can be none.
Further, do we not see that
many are willing to do or to
or to seem to be what is just
and honourable without the reality;
but no one is satisfied with
the appearance of good--the reality
is what they seek; in the case
of the good, appearance is despised
by every one.
Very true, he said.
Of this then, which every soul
of man pursues and makes the
of all his actions, having a
presentiment that there is such
and yet hesitating because neither
knowing the nature nor having
the same assurance of this as
of other things, and therefore
losing whatever good there is
in other things,--of a principle
such and so great as this ought
the best men in our State, to
everything is entrusted, to be
in the darkness of ignorance?
Certainly not, he said.
I am sure, I said, that he who
does not know now the beautiful
and the just are likewise good
will be but a sorry guardian
and I suspect that no one who
is ignorant of the good will
have a true
knowledge of them.
That, he said, is a shrewd suspicion
And if we only have a guardian
who has this knowledge our State
will be perfectly ordered?
Of course, he replied; but I
wish that you would tell me whether
you conceive this supreme principle
of the good to be knowledge
or pleasure, or different from
Aye, I said, I knew all along
that a fastidious gentleman like
would not be contented with the
thoughts of other people about
True, Socrates; but I must say
that one who like you has passed
a lifetime in the study of philosophy
should not be always repeating
the opinions of others, and never
telling his own.
Well, but has any one a right
to say positively what he does
Not, he said, with the assurance
of positive certainty;
he has no right to do that: but
he may say what he thinks,
as a matter of opinion.
And do you not know, I said,
that all mere opinions are bad,
and the best of them blind? You
would not deny that those who
have any true notion without
intelligence are only like blind
men who feel their way along
And do you wish to behold what
is blind and crooked and base,
when others will tell you of
brightness and beauty?
GLAUCON - SOCRATES
Still, I must implore you, Socrates,
said Glaucon, not to turn
away just as you are reaching
the goal; if you will only give
an explanation of the good as
you have already given of justice
and temperance and the other
virtues, we shall be satisfied.
Yes, my friend, and I shall
be at least equally satisfied,
but I cannot help fearing that
I shall fall, and that my indiscreet
zeal will bring ridicule upon
me. No, sweet sirs, let us not
present ask what is the actual
nature of the good, for to reach
what is now in my thoughts would
be an effort too great for me.
But of the child of the good
who is likest him, I would fain
if I could be sure that you wished
to hear--otherwise, not.
By all means, he said, tell
us about the child, and you shall
remain in our debt for the account
of the parent.
I do indeed wish, I replied,
that I could pay, and you receive,
the account of the parent, and
not, as now, of the offspring
take, however, this latter by
way of interest, and at the same
have a care that i do not render
a false account, although I have
no intention of deceiving you.
Yes, we will take all the care
that we can: proceed.
Yes, I said, but I must first
come to an understanding with
and remind you of what I have
mentioned in the course of this
and at many other times.
The old story, that there is
a many beautiful and a many good,
and so of other things which
we describe and define; to all
`many' is applied.
True, he said.
And there is an absolute beauty
and an absolute good, and of
things to which the term `many'
is applied there is an absolute;
for they may be brought under
a single idea, which is called
the essence of each.
The many, as we say, are seen
but not known, and the ideas
but not seen.
And what is the organ with which
we see the visible things?
The sight, he said.
And with the hearing, I said,
we hear, and with the other senses
perceive the other objects of
But have you remarked that sight
is by far the most costly and
piece of workmanship which the
artificer of the senses ever
No, I never have, he said.
Then reflect; has the ear or
voice need of any third or additional
nature in order that the one
may be able to hear and the other
to be heard?
Nothing of the sort.
No, indeed, I replied; and the
same is true of most, if not
the other senses--you would not
say that any of them requires
But you see that without the
addition of some other nature
is no seeing or being seen?
How do you mean?
Sight being, as I conceive,
in the eyes, and he who has eyes
wanting to see; colour being
also present in them, still unless
there be a third nature specially
adapted to the purpose, the owner
of the eyes will see nothing
and the colours will be invisible.
Of what nature are you speaking?
Of that which you term light,
True, he said.
Noble, then, is the bond which
links together sight and visibility,
and great beyond other bonds
by no small difference of nature;
for light is their bond, and
light is no ignoble thing?
Nay, he said, the reverse of
And which, I said, of the gods
in heaven would you say was the
of this element? Whose is that
light which makes the eye to
perfectly and the visible to
You mean the sun, as you and
all mankind say.
May not the relation of sight
to this deity be described as
Neither sight nor the eye in
which sight resides is the sun?
Yet of all the organs of sense
the eye is the most like the
By far the most like.
And the power which the eye
possesses is a sort of effluence
which is dispensed from the sun?
Then the sun is not sight, but
the author of sight who is recognised
True, he said.
And this is he whom I call the
child of the good, whom the good
begat in his own likeness, to
be in the visible world, in relation
to sight and the things of sight,
what the good is in the intellectual
world in relation to mind and
the things of mind.
Will you be a little more explicit?
Why, you know, I said, that
the eyes, when a person directs
towards objects on which the
light of day is no longer shining,
but the moon and stars only,
see dimly, and are nearly blind;
they seem to have no clearness
of vision in them?
But when they are directed towards
objects on which the sun shines,
they see clearly and there is
sight in them?
And the soul is like the eye:
when resting upon that on which
and being shine, the soul perceives
and understands and is radiant
with intelligence; but when turned
towards the twilight of becoming
and perishing, then she has opinion
only, and goes blinking about,
and is first of one opinion and
then of another, and seems to
Now, that which imparts truth
to the known and the power of
to the knower is what I would
have you term the idea of good,
and this you will deem to be
the cause of science, and of
in so far as the latter becomes
the subject of knowledge;
beautiful too, as are both truth
and knowledge, you will be right
in esteeming this other nature
as more beautiful than either;
and, as in the previous instance,
light and sight may be truly
to be like the sun, and yet not
to be the sun, so in this other
science and truth may be deemed
to be like the good, but not
the good has a place of honour
What a wonder of beauty that
must be, he said, which is the
of science and truth, and yet
surpasses them in beauty; for
surely cannot mean to say that
pleasure is the good?
God forbid, I replied; but may
I ask you to consider the image
in another point of view?
In what point of view?
You would say, would you not,
that the sun is only the author
visibility in all visible things,
but of generation and nourishment
and growth, though he himself
is not generation?
In like manner the good may
be said to be not only the author
of knowledge to all things known,
but of their being and essence,
and yet the good is not essence,
but far exceeds essence in dignity
Glaucon said, with a ludicrous
earnestness: By the light of
Yes, I said, and the exaggeration
may be set down to you;
for you made me utter my fancies.
And pray continue to utter them;
at any rate let us hear if there
is anything more to be said about
the similitude of the sun.
Yes, I said, there is a great
Then omit nothing, however slight.
I will do my best, I said; but
I should think that a great deal
will have to be omitted.
You have to imagine, then, that
there are two ruling powers,
and that one
of them is set over the intellectual
world, the other over the visible.
I do not say heaven, lest you
should fancy that I am playing
the name ('ourhanoz, orhatoz').
May I suppose that you have this
distinction of the visible and
intelligible fixed in your mind?
Now take a line which has been
cut into two unequal parts, and
each of them again in the same
proportion, and suppose the two
divisions to answer, one to the
visible and the other to the
and then compare the subdivisions
in respect of their clearness
and want of clearness, and you
will find that the first section
the sphere of the visible consists
of images. And by images I mean,
in the first place, shadows,
and in the second place, reflections
and in solid, smooth and polished
bodies and the like: Do you understand?
Yes, I understand.
Imagine, now, the other section,
of which this is only the resemblance,
to include the animals which
we see, and everything that grows
or is made.
Would you not admit that both
the sections of this division
different degrees of truth, and
that the copy is to the original
as the sphere of opinion is to
the sphere of knowledge?
Next proceed to consider the
manner in which the sphere
of the intellectual is to be
In what manner?
Thus:--There are two subdivisions,
in the lower or which the soul
uses the figures given by the
former division as images;
the enquiry can only be hypothetical,
and instead of going upwards
to a principle descends to the
other end; in the higher of the
the soul passes out of hypotheses,
and goes up to a principle which
is above hypotheses, making no
use of images as in the former
but proceeding only in and through
the ideas themselves.
I do not quite understand your
meaning, he said.
Then I will try again; you will
understand me better when I
have made some preliminary remarks.
You are aware that students
of geometry, arithmetic, and
the kindred sciences assume the
and the even and the figures
and three kinds of angles and
in their several branches of
science; these are their hypotheses,
which they and everybody are
supposed to know, and therefore
not deign to give any account
of them either to themselves
but they begin with them, and
go on until they arrive at last,
and in a consistent manner, at
Yes, he said, I know.
And do you not know also that
although they make use of the
forms and reason about them,
they are thinking not of these,
the ideals which they resemble;
not of the figures which they
but of the absolute square and
the absolute diameter, and so
the forms which they draw or
make, and which have shadows
reflections in water of their
own, are converted by them into
but they are really seeking to
behold the things themselves,
which can only be seen with the
eye of the mind?
That is true.
And of this kind I spoke as
the intelligible, although in
after it the soul is compelled
to use hypotheses; not ascending
to a first principle, because
she is unable to rise above the
of hypothesis, but employing
the objects of which the shadows
are resemblances in their turn
as images, they having in relation
to the shadows and reflections
of them a greater distinctness,
and therefore a higher value.
I understand, he said, that
you are speaking of the province
of geometry and the sister arts.
And when I speak of the other
division of the intelligible,
you will understand me to speak
of that other sort of knowledge
which reason herself attains
by the power of dialectic,
using the hypotheses not as first
principles, but only as hypotheses--
that is to say, as steps and
points of departure into a world
which is above hypotheses, in
order that she may soar beyond
to the first principle of the
whole; and clinging to this and
to that which depends on this,
by successive steps she descends
without the aid of any sensible
object, from ideas, through ideas,
and in ideas she ends.
I understand you, he replied;
not perfectly, for you seem to
to be describing a task which
is really tremendous; but, at
I understand you to say that
knowledge and being, which the
of dialectic contemplates, are
clearer than the notions of the
as they are termed, which proceed
from hypotheses only:
these are also contemplated by
the understanding, and not by
the senses: yet, because they
start from hypotheses and do
ascend to a principle, those
who contemplate them appear to
not to exercise the higher reason
upon them, although when a first
principle is added to them they
are cognizable by the higher
And the habit which is concerned
with geometry and the cognate
sciences I suppose that you would
term understanding and not reason,
as being intermediate between
opinion and reason.
You have quite conceived my
meaning, I said; and now, corresponding
these four divisions, let there
be four faculties in the soul-reason
answering to the highest, understanding
to the second, faith (or conviction)
to the third, and perception
of shadows to the last-and let
be a scale of them, and let us
suppose that the several faculties
have clearness in the same degree
that their objects have truth.
I understand, he replied, and
give my assent, and accept your