Thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary way, the true and the false philosophers have at length appeared in .
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 had a better view of both of them if the discussion could have been confined to this one subject and if there were not many other questions awaiting us, which he who desires to see in what respect the life of the just differs from that of the unjust must consider.
And what is the next question? he asked.
Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inasmuch as 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 that question?
Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of our State -- let them be our guardians.
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 that.
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 laws 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 of them 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 this greatest of all great qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail in some other respect. Suppose, then, I said, that we determine how far they can unite this 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 a union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are united, and those only, should be 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 honorable, 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 another quality which they should also possess?
Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their minds falsehood, which is their detestation, and they will love the truth.
Yes, that may be safely affirmed of them.
"May be." my friend, I replied, is not the word; say rather, "must be affirmed:" for he whose nature is amorous of anything cannot help 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 all truth?
But then again, as we know by experience, he whose desires are strong in one direction will have them weaker in others; they will be like a stream which has been drawn off into another channel.
He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form will be absorbed 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 a 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 be 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 a one account death fearful? No, indeed.
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 dealings?
Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle, or rude and unsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even 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 one will love that which gives him pain, and in which after much toil he makes little progress.
And again, if he is forgetful and retains nothing of what he learns, will he not be an empty vessel?
That is certain. Laboring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation? Yes.
Then a soul which forgets cannot be ranked among genuine philosophic natures; we must insist that the philosopher should have a good memory?
And once more, the inharmonious and unseemly nature can only tend to disproportion?
And do you consider truth to be akin to proportion or to disproportion?
Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturally wellproportioned and gracious mind, which will move spontaneously toward 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, he replied.
And must not that be a blameless study which he only can pursue who has the gift of a good memory, and is quick to learn -- noble, gracious, the friend of truth, justice, courage, temperance, who are his kindred?
The god of jealousy himself, he said, could find no fault with such a study.
And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and to these only you will intrust the State.
Here Adeimantus interposed and said: To these
statements, Socrates, no one can offer a reply; but when you talk in this
way, a strange feeling passes over the minds of your hearers: They fancy
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 they are found to have sustained
a mighty overthrow and all their former notions appear to be turned upside
down. And as unskilful players of draughts are at
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 your opinion.
Hear my answer; I am of opinion that they are quite right.
Then how can you be justified in saying that cities will not cease 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 given in a parable.
Yes, Socrates; and that is a way of speaking to which you are not at all accustomed, I suppose.
I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused
at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the
parable, and then 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 States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to
it; 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.
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 is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honor in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honor would be far more extraordinary.
Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be 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 not 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 nature; 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 go, 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 sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them goodfornothings and stargazers.
Precisely so, he said.
For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury 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 greater 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 charge of philosophy any more than the other?
By all means.
And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description 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 lover 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 blunted,
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 and becoming incorporate
with very being, having begotten mind and truth, he will have
Nothing, he said, can be more just than such a description of him.
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 the band 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 inquire 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 nature, 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, when we 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? he said.
I will see if I can explain them to you. Everyone will admit that 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 rare natures!
In the first place there are their own virtues, their courage, temperance, and the rest of them, every one of which praiseworthy 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 effect.
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; you will 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 climate, or soil, in proportion to their vigor, are all the more sensitive to the want of a suitable environment, for evil is a greater enemy to what is good than to what is not.
There is reason in supposing that the finest natures, when under 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 illeducated, become preeminently 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 plant which, 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 say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that private teachers 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 alike, and fashion them after their own hearts?
When is this accomplished? he said.
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 not a young man's heart, as
they say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him to
Yes, Socrates; necessity will compel him.
And yet, I said, there is a still greater necessity, which has 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 good earnest.
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 to be, 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 God, 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 fact, teach nothing but the opinion of the many, that is to say,
the opinions of their assemblies; and this is their wisdom. I might compare
them to a man who should study the tempers and desires of a mighty strong
beast who is fed by him -- he would learn how to approach and handle him,
also at what times and from what causes he is dangerous or the reverse,
and what is the meaning of his several cries, and by what
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
in painting or in 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 has done
the State, making them his judges when he is not obliged, the socalled
necessity of Diomede will oblige him to produce whatever they praise. And
yet the reasons are utterly ludicrous which they
No, nor am I likely to hear.
You recognize the truth of what I have been saying? Then let me ask you to consider further whether the world will ever be induced to believe in the existence of absolute beauty rather than of the many beautiful, or of the absolute in each kind rather than of the many in each kind?
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 them?
That is evident.
Then, do you see any way in which the philosopher can be preserved in his calling to the end? -- and remember what we were saying of him, 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 us all, especially if his bodily endowments are like his mental ones?
Certainly, he said.
And his friends and fellowcitizens 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 honor and flatter him, because they want to get into their hands now the power which he will one day possess.
That often happens, he said.
And what will a man such as he is be likely to do under such circumstances, 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 barbarians, 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 someone 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 to listen?
And even if there be someone who through inherent goodness or natural reasonableness has had his eyes opened a little and is 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 illeducated, divert him from philosophy, no less than riches and their accompaniments and the other socalled goods of life?
We were quite right.
Thus, my excellent friend, is brought about all that ruin and failure which I have been describing of the natures best adapted to the best 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 the greatest 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 dishonor 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 say.
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 own miserable crafts? For, although philosophy be in this evil case,
still there remains a dignity about her which is not to be found in the
arts. And many are thus attracted by her whose natures are
Are they not exactly like a bald little tinker who has just got out of durance and come into a fortune -- he takes a bath and puts on a new coat, and is decked out as a bridegroom going to marry 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 and bastard?
There can be no question of it.
And when persons who are unworthy of education approach philosophy and make an alliance with her who is in a rank above them, what sort of ideas and opinions are likely to be generated? Will they not be sophisms captivating to the ear, having nothing in them genuine, or worthy of or akin to true wisdom?
No doubt, he said.
Then, Adeimantus, I said, the worthy disciples
of philosophy will be but a small remnant: perchance some noble and welleducated
person, 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's
bridle; for everything in the life of Theages
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 been 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 to know which of the governments now existing is in your opinion the one adapted to her.
Not any of them, I said; and that is precisely
the accusation which I bring against them -- not one of them is worthy
of the philosophic nature, 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 soil, even
so this growth of philosophy, instead of persisting, degenerates and receives
another character. But if philosophy ever finds in the State that perfection
which she herself is, then will be seen that she is
No, he said; there you are wrong, for I was going to ask another question -- 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 my saying before, that some living authority would always be required in the State having the same idea of the constitution which guided 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 inquiry will then be complete.
I shall not be hindered, I said, by any want of will, but, if at all, 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 I 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 the time saved from moneymaking and housekeeping to such pursuits; and even those of them who are reputed to have most of the philosophic spirit, when they come within sight of the great difficulty of the subject, I mean dialectic, take themselves off. In after life, when invited by someone 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's sun, inasmuch as they never light up again.
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 toward 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 labor, as
How truly in earnest you are, Socrates! he said; I am sure of that; 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, who have recently become friends, although, indeed, we were never enemies; for I shall go on striving to the utmost until I either convert him and other men, or do something which may profit them against the day when they live again, and hold the like discourse in another state of existence.
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
refuse to believe; for they have never seen that of which we are now speaking
realized; 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 being 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
No, my friend, and they have seldom, if ever, heard free and noble sentiments; such as men utter when they are earnestly and by every means in their power seeking after truth for the sake of knowledge, while they look 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 true love of true philosophy. That either or both of
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 be compelled by a superior power to have the charge of the State, we are ready to assert to the death, that this our constitution has been, 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, he said.
But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the multitude?
I should imagine not, he replied.
O my friends, I said, do not attack the multitude:
they will change their minds, if, not in an aggressive spirit, but gently
and with the view of soothing them and removing their dislike of overeducation,
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 not such as they supposed -- if
they view him in this new light, they will surely change their notion of
him, and answer in another strain. Who can be at
I quite agree with you, he said.
And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling which the many entertain toward philosophy originates in the pretenders, who rush in uninvited, and are always abusing them, and finding fault with them, who make persons instead of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can be more unbecoming in philosophers than this.
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 toward 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 a man 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 everyone 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 be, 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 pattern?
They will not be angry if they understand, he said. But how will 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, and leave a clean surface. This is no easy task. But whether easy or not, herein will lie the difference between them and every other legislator -- they will have nothing to do either with individual or State, and will inscribe no laws, until they have either found, or themselves made, a clean surface.
They will be very right, he said.
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 will often turn their eyes upward and downward: 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 various elements of life into the image of a man; and this they will conceive according to that other image, which, when existing among men, Homer calls the form and likeness of God.
Very true, he said.
And one feature they will erase, and another they will put in, until they have made the ways of men, as far as possible, agreeable to 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 a one as we were praising; at whom they were so very indignant because to his hands we committed the State; and are they growing a little calmer at what they have just heard?
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 favorable 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 realized?
I think that they will be less angry.
Shall we assume that they are not only less angry but quite gentle, 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 anyone deny the other point, that there may be sons of kings or princes who are by nature philosophers?
Surely no man, he said.
And when they have come into being will anyone say that they must 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 a city obedient to his will, and he might bring into existence the ideal 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 them?
And that others should approve, of what we approve, is no miracle or impossibility?
I think not.
But we have sufficiently shown, in what has preceded, that all this, 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 was not of much service to me, for I had to discuss them all the same. 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 critical 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 honors and rewards in life and after death. This was the sort of thing which was being said, and then the argument turned aside and veiled her face; not liking to stir the question which has now arisen.
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 a philosopher.
Yes, he said, let that be affirmed.
And do not suppose that there will be many of them; for the gifts which were deemed by us to be essential rarely grow together; they are mostly found in shreds and patches.
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 highspirited 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 toil.
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 or command.
Certainly, he said.
And will they be a class which is rarely found?
Then the aspirant must not only be tested in those labors and dangers and pleasures which we mentioned before, but there is another kind of probation which we did not mention -- he must be exercised also in many kinds of knowledge, to see whether the soul will be able to endure the highest of all, or will faint under them, as in any other studies and exercises.
Yes, he said, you are quite right in testing them. But what do you mean by the highest of all knowledge?
You may remember, I said, that we divided the soul into three parts; and distinguished the several natures of justice, temperance, courage, and wisdom?
Indeed, he said, if I had forgotten, I should not deserve to hear more.
And do you remember the word of caution which preceded the discussion of them?
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 way, 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 preceded. And you replied that such an exposition would be enough for you, and so the inquiry was continued in what to me seemed to be a very inaccurate manner; whether you were satisfied or not, it is for you to say.
Yes, he said, I thought and the others thought that you gave us 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 are indolent.
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 circuit, and toil at learning as well as at gymnastics, or he will never reach 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 virtues?
Yes, I said, there is. And of the virtues too we must behold not 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 their full beauty and utmost clearness, how ridiculous that we should not think the highest truths worthy of attaining the highest accuracy!
A right noble thought; but do you suppose that we shall refrain from asking you what is this highest knowledge?
Nay, I said, ask if you will; but I am certain
that you have heard the answer many times, and now you either do not understand
me or, as I rather think, you are disposed to be troublesome; for you have
often 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