Republic - Plato's Greatest Dialogue, Philosophy - Book III.


By Plato

Circa 360 BCE

Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Republic by Plato - Book 3.


Socrates, who is the narrator; Glaucon; Adeimantus; Polemarchus; Cephalus; Thrasymachus; Cleitophon; And others who are mute auditors. The scene is laid in the house of Cephalus at the Piraeus; and the whole dialogue is narrated by Socrates the day after it actually took place to Timaeus, Hermocrates, Critias, and a nameless person, who are introduced in the Timaeus.

Republic - Plato's Greatest Dialogue, Philosophy - BOOK_3.


Such then, I said, are our principles of theology -- some tales are to
be told, and others are not to be told to our disciples from their youth
upwards, if we mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and to
value friendship with one another.

Yes; and I think that our principles are right, he said.

But if they are to be courageous, must they not learn other lessons
besides these, and lessons of such a kind as will take away the fear of
death? Can any man be courageous who has the fear of death in him?

Certainly not, he said.

And can he be fearless of death, or will he choose death in battle
rather than defeat and slavery, who believes the world below to be real
and terrible?


Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class of tales
as well as over the others, and beg them not simply to but rather to
commend the world below, intimating to them that their descriptions are
untrue, and will do harm to our future warriors.

That will be our duty, he said.

Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious passages,
beginning with the verses,

I would rather he a serf on the land of a poor and portionless man than
rule over all the dead who have come to nought.[1]

We must also expunge the verse, which tells us how Pluto feared,

Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should he seen
both of mortals and immortals.[2]

And again:

O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly form
but no mind at all![3]

Again of Tiresias:

[To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,] that he alone
should be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades.[4]


The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamentng her fate,
leaving manhood and youth.[5]


And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath the

And, --

As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of the has dropped out
of the string and falls from the rock, fly shrilling and cling to one
another, so did they with shrilling cry hold together as they moved.[7]

And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike
out these and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or
unattractive to the popular ear, but because the greater the poetical
charm of them, the less are they meet for the ears of boys and men who
are meant to be free, and who should fear slavery more than death.


Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling names
describe the world below -- Cocytus and Styx, ghosts under the earth,
and sapless shades, and any similar words of which the very mention
causes a shudder to pass through the inmost soul of him who hears them.
I do not say that these horrible stories may not have a use of some
kind; but there is a danger that the nerves of our guardians may be
rendered too excitable and effeminate by them.

There is a real danger, he said.

Then we must have no more of them.


Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.


And shall we proceed to get rid of the weepings and wailings of famous

They will go with the rest.

But shall we be right in getting rid of them? Reflect: our principle is
that the good man will not consider death terrible to any other good man
who is his comrade.

Yes; that is our principle.

And therefore he will not sorrow for his departed friend as though he
had suffered anything terrible?

He will not.

Such an one, as we further maintain, is sufficient for himself and his
own happiness, and therefore is least in need of other men.

True, he said.

And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation of
fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.


And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with the
greatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.

Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.

Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men,
and making them over to women (and not even to women who are good for
anything), or to men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated
by us to be the defenders of their country may scorn to do the like.

That will be very right.

Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depict
Achilles,[8] who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then
on his back, and then on his face; then starting up and sailing in a
frenzy along the shores of the barren sea; now taking the sooty ashes in
both his hands[9] and pouring them over his head, or weeping and wailing
in the various modes which Homer has delineated. Nor should he describe
Priam the kinsman of the gods as praying and beseeching,

Rolling in the dirt, calling each man loudly by his name.[10]

Still more earnestly will we beg of him at all events not to introduce
the gods lamenting and saying,

Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the harvest to my sorrow.[11]

But if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so
completely to misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make him say

O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine chased
round and round the city, and my heart is sorrowful.[12]

Or again:

Woe is me that I am fated to have Sarpedon, dearest of men to me,
subdued at the hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius.[13]

For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to such unworthy
representations of the gods, instead of laughing at them as they ought,
hardly will any of them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be
dishonoured by similar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination
which may arise in his mind to say and do the like. And instead of
having any shame or self-control, he will be always whining and
lamenting on slight occasions.

Yes, he said, that is most true.

Yes, I replied; but that surely is what ought not to be, as the argument
has just proved to us; and by that proof we must abide until it is
disproved by a better.

It ought not to be.

Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For a fit of
laughter which has been indulged to excess almost always produces a
violent reaction.

So I believe.

Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not be represented
as overcome by laughter, and still less must such a representation of
the gods be allowed.

Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.

Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about the gods as
that of Homer when he describes how

Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they saw
Hephaestus bustling about the mansion.[14]

On your views, we must not admit them.

On my views, if you like to father them on me; that we must not admit
them is certain.

Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is
useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use
of such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private
individuals have no business with them.

Clearly not, he said.

Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of
the State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with
enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public
good. But nobody else should meddle with anything of the kind; and
although the rulers have this privilege, for a private man to lie to
them in return is to be deemed a more heinous fault than for the patient
or the pupil of a gymnasium not to speak the truth about his own bodily
illnesses to the physician or to the trainer, or for a sailor not to
tell the captain what is happening about the ship and the rest of the
crew, and how things are going with himself or his fellow sailors.

Most true, he said.

If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in the State,

Any of the craftsmen, whether he priest or physician or carpenter.[15]

he will punish him for introducing a practice which is equally
subversive and destructive of ship or State.

Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever carried out.

In the next place our youth must be temperate?


Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience
to commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?


Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer,

Friend, sit still and obey my word,[16]

and the verses which follow,

    The Greeks marched breathing prowess,[17]
    ... in silent awe of their leaders,[18]

and other sentiments of the same kind.

We shall.

What of this line,

O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog and the heart of a

and of the words which follow? Would you say that these, or any similar
impertinences which private individuals are supposed to address to their
rulers, whether in verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?

They are ill spoken.

They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not conduce to
temperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm to our young men --
you would agree with me there?


And then, again, to make the wisest of men say that nothing in his
opinion is more glorious than

When the tables are full of bread and meat, and the cup-bearer carries
round wine which he draws from the bowl and pours into the cups,[20]

is it fit or conducive to temperance for a young man to hear such words?
Or the verse

The saddest of fates is to die and meet destiny from hunger?[21]

What would you say again to the tale of Zeus, who, while other gods and
men were asleep and he the only person awake, lay devising plans, but
forgot them all in a moment through his lust, and was so completely
overcome at the sight of Here that he would not even go into the hut,
but wanted to lie with her on the ground, declaring that he had never
been in such a state of rapture before, even when they first met one

Without the knowledge of their parents;[22]

or that other tale of how Hephaestus, because of similar goings on, cast
a chain around Ares and Aphrodite?[23]

Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not to hear
that sort of thing.

But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous men, these
they ought to see and hear; as, for example, what is said in the verses,

He smote his breast, and thus reproached his heart,
Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured![24]

Certainly, he said.

In the next place, we must not let them be receivers of gifts or lovers
of money.

Certainly not.

Neither must we sing to them of

Gifts persuading gods, and persuading reverend kings.

Neither is Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, to be approved or deemed to
have given his pupil good counsel when he told him that he should take
the gifts of the Greeks and assist them;[25] but that without a gift he
should not lay aside his anger. Neither will we believe or acknowledge
Achilles himself to have been such a lover of money that he took
Agamemnon's or that when he had received payment he restored the dead
body of Hector, but that without payment he was unwilling to do so.[26]

Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be approved.

Loving Homer as I do,[27] I hardly like to say that in attributing these
feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly to him, he is
guilty of downright impiety. As little can I believe the narrative of
his insolence to Apollo, where he says,

Thou hast wronged me, O far-darter, most abominable of deities. Verily I
would he even with thee, if I had only the power,[28]

or his insubordination to the river-god,[29] on whose divinity he is
ready to lay hands; or his offering to the dead Patroclus of his own
hair,[30] which had been previously dedicated to the other river-god
Spercheius, and that he actually performed this vow; or that he dragged
Hector round the tomb of Patroclus,[31] and slaughtered the captives at
the pyre;[32] of all this I cannot believe that he was guilty, any more
than I can allow our citizens to believe that he, the wise Cheiron's
pupil, the son of a goddess and of Peleus who was the gentlest of men
and third in descent from Zeus, was so disordered in his wits as to be
at one time the slave of two seemingly inconsistent passions, meanness,
not untainted by avarice, combined with overweening contempt of gods and

You are quite right, he replied.

And let us equally refuse to believe, or allow to be repeated, the tale
of Theseus son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous son of Zeus, going forth as
they did to perpetrate a horrid rape; or of any other hero or son of a
god daring to do such impious and dreadful things as they falsely
ascribe to them in our day: and let us further compel the poets to
declare either that these acts were not done by them, or that they were
not the sons of gods; -- both in the same breath they shall not be
permitted to affirm. We will not have them trying to persuade our youth
that the gods are the authors of evil, and that heroes are no better
than men -- sentiments which, as we were saying, are neither pious nor
true, for we have already proved that evil cannot come from the gods.

Assuredly not.

And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who hear them;
for everybody will begin to excuse his own vices when he is convinced
that similar wickednesses are always being perpetrated by --

The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus, whose ancestral altar,
the attar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the peak of Ida,

and who have

the blood of deities yet flowing in their veins.

And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest they engender laxity
of morals among the young.

By all means, he replied.

But now that we are determining what classes of subjects are or are not
to be spoken of, let us see whether any have been omitted by us. The
manner in which gods and demigods and heroes and the world below should
be treated has been already laid down.

Very true.

And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the remaining portion
of our subject.

Clearly so.

But we are not in a condition to answer this question at present, my

Why not?

Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about men poets
and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when
they tell us that wicked men are often happy, and the good miserable;
and that injustice is profitable when undetected, but that justice is a
man's own loss and another's gain -- these things we shall forbid them
to utter, and command them to sing and say the opposite.

To be sure we shall, he replied.

But if you admit that I am right in this, then I shall maintain that you
have implied the principle for which we have been all along contending.

I grant the truth of your inference.

That such things are or are not to be said about men is a question which
we cannot determine until we have discovered what justice is, and how
naturally advantageous to the possessor, whether he seems to be just or

Most true, he said.

Enough of the subjects of poetry: let us now speak of the style; and
when this has been considered, both matter and manner will have been
completely treated.

I do not understand what you mean, said Adeimantus.

Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more intelligible
if I put the matter in this way. You are aware, I suppose, that all
mythology and poetry is a narration of events, either past, present, or
to come?

Certainly, he replied.

And narration may be either simple narration, or imitation, or a union
of the two?

That again, he said, I do not quite understand.

I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so much
difficulty in making myself apprehended. Like a bad speaker, therefore,
I will not take the whole of the subject, but will break a piece off in
illustration of my meaning. You know the first lines of the Iliad, in
which the poet says that Chryses prayed Agamemnon to release his
daughter, and that Agamemnon flew into a passion with him; whereupon
Chryses, failing of his object, invoked the anger of the God against the
Achaeans. Now as far as these lines,

And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially the two sons of Atreus, the
chiefs of the people,

the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose
that he is any one else. But in what follows he takes the person of
Chryses, and then he does all that he can to make us believe that the
speaker is not Homer, but the aged priest himself. And in this double
form he has cast the entire narrative of the events which occurred at
Troy and in Ithaca and throughout the Odyssey.


And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet recites
from time to time and in the intermediate passages?

Quite true.

But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we not say that
he assimilates his style to that of the person who, as he informs you,
is going to speak?


And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use of voice
or gesture, is the imitation of the person whose character he assumes?

Of course.

Then in this case the narrative of the poet may be said to proceed by
way of imitation?

Very true.

Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals himself, then
again the imitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes simple narration.
However, in order that I may make my meaning quite clear, and that you
may no more say, I don't understand," I will show how the change might
be effected. If Homer had said, "The priest came, having his daughter's
ransom in his hands, supplicating the Achaeans, and above all the
kings;" and then if, instead of speaking in the person of Chryses, he
had continued in his own person, the words would have been, not
imitation, but simple narration. The passage would have run as follows
(I am no poet, and therefore I drop the metre), "The priest came and
prayed the gods on behalf of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and
return safely home, but begged that they would give him back his
daughter, and take the ransom which he brought, and respect the God.
Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks revered the priest and assented. But
Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him depart and not come again, lest the
staff and chaplets of the God should be of no avail to him -- the
daughter of Chryses should not be released, he said -- she should grow
old with him in Argos. And then he told him to go away and not to
provoke him, if he intended to get home unscathed. And the old man went
away in fear and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he called upon
Apollo by his many names, reminding him of everything which he had done
pleasing to him, whether in building his temples, or in offering
sacrifice, and praying that his good deeds might be returned to him, and
that the Achaeans might expiate his tears by the arrows of the god," --
and so on. In this way the whole becomes simple narrative.

I understand, he said.

Or you may suppose the opposite case -- that the intermediate passages
are omitted, and the dialogue only left.

That also, he said, I understand; you mean, for example, as in tragedy.

You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not, what you
failed to apprehend before is now made clear to you, that poetry and
mythology are, in some cases, wholly imitative -- instances of this are
supplied by tragedy and comedy; there is likewise the opposite style, in
which the my poet is the only speaker -- of this the dithyramb affords
the best example; and the combination of both is found in epic, and in
several other styles of poetry. Do I take you with me?

Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.

I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that we had done
with the subject and might proceed to the style.

Yes, I remember.

In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an
understanding about the mimetic art, -- whether the poets, in narrating
their stories, are to be allowed by us to imitate, and if so, whether in
whole or in part, and if the latter, in what parts; or should all
imitation be prohibited?

You mean, I suspect, to ask whether tragedy and comedy shall be admitted
into our State?

Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I really do
not know as yet, but whither the argument may blow, thither we go.

And go we will, he said.

Then, Adeimantus, let me ask you whether our guardians ought to be
imitators; or rather, has not this question been decided by the rule
already laid down that one man can only do one thing well, and not many;
and that if he attempt many, he will altogether fall of gaining much
reputation in any?


And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate many
things as well as he would imitate a single one?

He cannot.

Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life,
and at the same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as
well; for even when two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same
persons cannot succeed in both, as, for example, the writers of tragedy
and comedy -- did you not just now call them imitations?

Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same persons cannot
succeed in both.

Any more than they can be rhapsodists and actors at once?


Neither are comic and tragic actors the same; yet all these things are
but imitations.

They are so.

And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined into yet
smaller pieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many things well, as
of performing well the actions of which the imitations are copies.

Quite true, he replied.

If then we adhere to our original notion and bear in mind that our
guardians, setting aside every other business, are to dedicate
themselves wholly to the maintenance of freedom in the State, making
this their craft, and engaging in no work which does not bear on this
end, they ought not to practise or imitate anything else; if they
imitate at all, they should imitate from youth upward only those
characters which are suitable to their profession -- the courageous,
temperate, holy, free, and the like; but they should not depict or be
skilful at imitating any kind of illiberality or baseness, lest from
imitation they should come to be what they imitate. Did you never
observe how imitations, beginning in early youth and continuing far into
life, at length grow into habits and become a second nature, affecting
body, voice, and mind?

Yes, certainly, he said.

Then, I said, we will not allow those for whom we profess a care and of
whom we say that they ought to be good men, to imitate a woman, whether
young or old, quarrelling with her husband, or striving and vaunting
against the gods in conceit of her happiness, or when she is in
affliction, or sorrow, or weeping; and certainly not one who is in
sickness, love, or labour.

Very right, he said.

Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing the
offices of slaves?

They must not.

And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do the
reverse of what we have just been prescribing, who scold or mock or
revile one another in drink or out of in drink or, or who in any other
manner sin against themselves and their neighbours in word or deed, as
the manner of such is. Neither should they be trained to imitate the
action or speech of men or women who are mad or bad; for madness, like
vice, is to be known but not to be practised or imitated.

Very true, he replied.

Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or oarsmen, or
boatswains, or the like?

How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply their minds to
the callings of any of these?

Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing of bulls, the
murmur of rivers and roll of the ocean, thunder, and all that sort of

Nay, he said, if madness be forbidden, neither may they copy the
behaviour of madmen.

You mean, I said, if I understand you aright, that there is one sort of
narrative style which may be employed by a truly good man when he has
anything to say, and that another sort will be used by a man of an
opposite character and education.

And which are these two sorts? he asked.

Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course of a
narration comes on some saying or action of another good man, -- I
should imagine that he will like to personate him, and will not be
ashamed of this sort of imitation: he will be most ready to play the
part of the good man when he is acting firmly and wisely; in a less
degree when he is overtaken by illness or love or drink, or has met with
any other disaster. But when he comes to a character which is unworthy
of him, he will not make a study of that; he will disdain such a person,
and will assume his likeness, if at all, for a moment only when he is
performing some good action; at other times he will be ashamed to play a
part which he has never practised, nor will he like to fashion and frame
himself after the baser models; he feels the employment of such an art,
unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his mind revolts at it.

So I should expect, he replied.

Then he will adopt a mode of narration such as we have illustrated out
of Homer, that is to say, his style will be both imitative and
narrative; but there will be very little of the former, and a great deal
of the latter. Do you agree?

Certainly, he said; that is the model which such a speaker must
necessarily take.

But there is another sort of character who will narrate anything, and,
the worse lie is, the more unscrupulous he will be; nothing will be too
bad for him: and he will be ready to imitate anything, not as a joke,
but in right good earnest, and before a large company. As I was just now
saying, he will attempt to represent the roll of thunder, the noise of
wind and hall, or the creaking of wheels, and pulleys, and the various
sounds of flutes; pipes, trumpets, and all sorts of instruments: he will
bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crow like a cock; his entire art
will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, and there will be very
little narration.

That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.

These, then, are the two kinds of style?


And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is simple and has
but slight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for
their simplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks
correctly, is always pretty much the same in style, and he will keep
within the limits of a single harmony (for the changes are not great),
and in like manner he will make use of nearly the same rhythm?

That is quite true, he said.

Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all sorts of
rhythms, if the music and the style are to correspond, because the style
has all sorts of changes.

That is also perfectly true, he replied.

And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, comprehend all
poetry, and every form of expression in words? No one can say anything
except in one or other of them or in both together.

They include all, he said.

And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or one only of
the two unmixed styles? or would you include the mixed?

I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.

Yes, I said, Adeimantus, but the mixed style is also very charming: and
indeed the pantomimic, which is the opposite of the one chosen by you,
is the most popular style with children and their attendants, and with
the world in general.

I do not deny it.

But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our
State, in which human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man
plays one part only?

Yes; quite unsuitable.

And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall
find a shoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot also, and a
husbandman to be a husbandman and not a dicast also, and a soldier a
soldier and not a trader also, and the same throughout?

True, he said.

And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who are so
clever that they can imitate anything, comes to us, and makes a proposal
to exhibit himself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as
a sweet and holy and wonderful being; but we must also inform him that
in our State such as he are not permitted to exist; the law will not
allow them. And so when we have anointed him with myrrh, and set a
garland of wool upon his head, we shall send him away to another city.
For we mean to employ for our souls" health the rougher and severer poet
or story-teller, who will imitate the style of the virtuous only, and
will follow those models which we prescribed at first when we began the
education of our soldiers.

We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.

Then now, my friend, I said, that part of music or literary education
which relates to the story or myth may be considered to be finished; for
the matter and manner have both been discussed.

I think so too, he said.

Next in order will follow melody and song.

That is obvious.

Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to
be consistent with ourselves.

I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the words "every one" hardly
includes me, for I cannot at the moment say what they should be; though
I may guess.

At any rate you can tell that a song or ode has three parts -- the
words, the melody, and the rhythm; that degree of knowledge I may

Yes, he said; so much as that you may.

And as for the words, there surely be no difference words between words
which are and which are not set to music; both will conform to the same
laws, and these have been already determined by us?


And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?


We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we had no need
of lamentations and strains of sorrow?


And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You are musical, and
can tell me.

The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian, and the
full-toned or bass Lydian, and such like.

These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a character
to maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.


In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterly
unbecoming the character of our guardians. 

Utterly unbecoming.

And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?

The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed "relaxed."

Well, and are these of any military use?

Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the Phrygian are
the only ones which you have left.

I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one
warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the
hour of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he
is going to wounds or death or is overtaken by some other evil, and at
every such crisis meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a
determination to endure; and another to be used by him in times of peace
and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is
seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition,
or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to
persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when by
prudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away by his
success, but acting moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and
acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the
strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the
unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of courage, and
the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave.

And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I
was just now speaking.

Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and
melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic

I suppose not.

Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners
and complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed
curiously-harmonised instruments?

Certainly not.

But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would you admit
them into our State when you reflect that in this composite use of
harmony the flute is worse than all the stringed instruments put
together; even the panharmonic music is only an imitation of the flute?

Clearly not.

There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and
the shepherds may have a pipe in the country.

That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.

The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his
instruments is not at all strange, I said.

Not at all, he replied.

And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the
State, which not long ago we termed luxurious.

And we have done wisely, he replied.

Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to
harmonies, rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be subject to
the same rules, for we ought not to seek out complex systems of metre,
or metres of every kind, but rather to discover what rhythms are the
expressions of a courageous and harmonious life; and when we have found
them, we shall adapt the foot and the melody to words having a like
spirit, not the words to the foot and melody. To say what these rhythms
are will be your duty -- you must teach me them, as you have already
taught me the harmonies.

But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are
some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are
framed, just as in sounds there are four notes[33] out of which all the
harmonies are composed; that is an observation which I have made. But of
what sort of lives they are severally the imitations I am unable to say.

Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he will tell us
what rhythms are expressive of meanness, or insolence, or fury, or other
unworthiness, and what are to be reserved for the expression of opposite
feelings. And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his
mentioning a complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he
arranged them in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the
rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short
alternating; and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as
of a trochaic rhythm, and assigned to them short and long quantities.
Also in some cases he appeared to praise or censure the movement of the
foot quite as much as the rhythm; or perhaps a combination of the two;
for I am not certain what he meant. These matters, however, as I was
saying, had better be referred to Damon himself, for the analysis of the
subject would be difficult, you know?

Rather so, I should say.

But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence of grace
is an effect of good or bad rhythm.

None at all.

And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a good and bad
style; and that harmony and discord in like manner follow style; for our
principle is that rhythm and harmony are regulated by the words, and not
the words by them.

Just so, he said, they should follow the words.

And will not the words and the character of the style depend on the
temper of the soul?


And everything else on the style?


Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on
simplicity, -- I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered
mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism
for folly?

Very true, he replied.

And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not make these
graces and harmonies their perpetual aim?

They must.

And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and
constructive art are full of them, -- weaving, embroidery, architecture,
and every kind of manufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable, -- in
all of them there is grace or the absence of grace. And ugliness and
discord and inharmonious motion are nearly allied to ill words and ill
nature, as grace and harmony are the twin sisters of goodness and virtue
and bear their likeness.

That is quite true, he said.

But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets only to
be required by us to express the image of the good in their works, on
pain, if they do anything else, of expulsion from our State? Or is the
same control to be extended to other artists, and are they also to be
prohibited from exhibiting the opposite forms of vice and intemperance
and meanness and indecency in sculpture and building and the other
creative arts; and is he who cannot conform to this rule of ours to be
prevented from practising his art in our State, lest the taste of our
citizens be corrupted by him? We would not have our guardians grow up
amid images of moral deformity, as in some noxious pasture, and there
browse and feed upon many a baneful herb and flower day by day, little
by little, until they silently gather a festering mass of corruption in
their own soul. Let our artists rather be those who are gifted to
discern the true nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our
youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and
receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works,
shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a
purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into
likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.

There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.

And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way
into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten,
imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated
graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he
who has received this true education of the inner being will most
shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true
taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the
good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad,
now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason
why; and when reason comes he will recognise and salute the friend with
whom his education has made him long familiar.

Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our youth should
be trained in music and on the grounds which you mention.

Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the
letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring
sizes and combinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they
occupy a space large or small, but everywhere eager to make them out;
and not thinking ourselves perfect in the art of reading until we
recognise them wherever they are found:[34]

True --

Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or in a
mirror, only when we know the letters themselves; the same art and study
giving us the knowledge of both:

Exactly --

Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we have to
educate, can ever become musical until we and they know the essential
forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise them and their
images wherever they are found, not slighting them either in small
things or great, but believing them all to be within the sphere of one
art and study.

Most assuredly.

And when a beautiful soul harmonises with a beautiful form, and the two
are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has
an eye to see it?

The fairest indeed.

And the fairest is also the loveliest?

That may be assumed.

And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with the
loveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?

That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there
be any merely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and
will love all the same.

I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of this sort,
and I agree. But let me ask you another question: Has excess of pleasure
any affinity to temperance?

How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the use of his
faculties quite as much as pain.

Or any affinity to virtue in general?

None whatever.

Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?

Yes, the greatest.

And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sensual love?

No, nor a madder.

Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order -- temperate and

Quite true, he said.

Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?

Certainly not.

Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come near the
lover and his beloved; neither of them can have any part in it if their
love is of the right sort?

No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.

Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you would make a
law to the effect that a friend should use no other familiarity to his
love than a father would use to his son, and then only for a noble
purpose, and he must first have the other's consent; and this rule is to
limit him in all his intercourse, and he is never to be seen going
further, or, if he exceeds, he is to be deemed guilty of coarseness and
bad taste.

I quite agree, he said.

Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the
end of music if not the love of beauty?

I agree, he said.

After music comes gymnastic, in which our youth are next to be trained.


Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in
it should be careful and should continue through life. Now my belief is,
-- and this is a matter upon which I should like to have your opinion in
confirmation of my own, but my own belief is, -- not that the good body
by any bodily excellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that
the good soul, by her own excellence, improves the body as far as this
may be possible. What do you say?

Yes, I agree.

Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right in handing
over the more particular care of the body; and in order to avoid
prolixity we will now only give the general outlines of the subject.

Very good.

That they must abstain from intoxication has been already remarked by
us; for of all persons a guardian should be the last to get drunk and
not know where in the world he is.

Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian to take
care of him is ridiculous indeed.

But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in training
for the great contest of all -- are they not?

Yes, he said.

And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?

Why not?

I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is but a
sleepy sort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you not observe
that these athletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to most
dangerous illnesses if they depart, in ever so slight a degree, from
their customary regimen?

Yes, I do.

Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for our warrior
athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the
utmost keenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of
summer heat and winter cold, which they will have to endure when on a
campaign, they must not be liable to break down in health.

That is my view.

The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple music which
we were just now describing.

How so?

Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our music, is
simple and good; and especially the military gymnastic.

What do you mean?

My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at
their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers' fare; they have no
fish, although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are
not allowed boiled meats but only roast, which is the food most
convenient for soldiers, requiring only that they should light a fire,
and not involving the trouble of carrying about pots and pans.


And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere
mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular;
all professional athletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good
condition should take nothing of the kind.

Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.

Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements of
Sicilian cookery?

I think not.

Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to have a
Corinthian girl as his fair friend?

Certainly not.

Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are thought, of
Athenian confectionery?

Certainly not.

All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us to melody and
song composed in the panharmonic style, and in all the rhythms. Exactly.

There complexity engendered license, and here disease; whereas
simplicity in music was the parent of temperance in the soul; and
simplicity in gymnastic of health in the body.

Most true, he said.

But when intemperance and disease multiply in a State, halls of justice
and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the
lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not
only the slaves but the freemen of a city take about them.

Of course.

And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and disgraceful state
of education than this, that not only artisans and the meaner sort of
people need the skill of first-rate physicians and judges, but also
those who would profess to have had a liberal education? Is it not
disgraceful, and a great sign of want of good-breeding, that a man
should have to go abroad for his law and physic because he has none of
his own at home, and must therefore surrender himself into the hands of
other men whom he makes lords and judges over him?

Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.

Would you say "most," I replied, when you consider that there is a
further stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long
litigant, passing all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff or
defendant, but is actually led by his bad taste to pride himself on his
litigiousness; he imagines that he is a master in dishonesty; able to
take every crooked turn, and wriggle into and out of every hole, bending
like a withy and getting out of the way of justice: and all for what? --
in order to gain small points not worth mentioning, he not knowing that
so to order his life as to be able to do without a napping judge is a
far higher and nobler sort of thing. Is not that still more disgraceful?

Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.

Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has
to be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by
indolence and a habit of life such as we have been describing, men fill
themselves with waters and winds, as if their bodies were a marsh,
compelling the ingenious sons of Asclepius to find more names for
diseases, such as flatulence and catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?

Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and newfangled names
to diseases.

Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in
the days of Asclepius; and this I infer from the circumstance that the
hero Eurypylus, after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of
Pramnian wine well besprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which
are certainly inflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at
the Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or
rebuke Patroclus, who is treating his case.

Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a
person in his condition.

Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former
days, as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of
Asclepius did not practise our present system of medicine, which may be
said to educate diseases. But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of
a sickly constitution, by a combination of training and doctoring found
out a way of torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest
of the world.

How was that? he said.

By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which
he perpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he
passed his entire life as a valetudinarian; he could do nothing but
attend upon himself, and he was in constant torment whenever he departed
in anything from his usual regimen, and so dying hard, by the help of
science he struggled on to old age.

A rare reward of his skill!

Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never
understood that, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in
valetudinarian arts, the omission arose, not from ignorance or
inexperience of such a branch of medicine, but because he knew that in
all well-ordered states every individual has an occupation to which he
must attend, and has therefore no leisure to spend in continually being
ill. This we remark in the case of the artisan, but, ludicrously enough,
do not apply the same rule to people of the richer sort.

How do you mean? he said.

I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough
and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, -- these
are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of
dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and
all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be
ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his
disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore
bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary
habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his
constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble.

Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use the art of
medicine thus far only.

Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there be in his
life if he were deprived of his occupation?

Quite true, he said.

But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say that he
has any specially appointed work which he must perform, if he would

He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.

Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man
has a livelihood he should practise virtue?

Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.

Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but rather ask
ourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can
he live without it? And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a
further question, whether this dieting of disorders which is an
impediment to the application of the mind t in carpentering and the
mechanical arts, does not equally stand in the way of the sentiment of

Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive care of the
body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to
the practice of virtue.

Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the management of
a house, an army, or an office of state; and, what is most important of
all, irreconcilable with any kind of study or thought or self-reflection
-- there is a constant suspicion that headache and giddiness are to be
ascribed to philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial of
virtue in the higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always
fancying that he is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the
state of his body.

Yes, likely enough.

And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited
the power of his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy
constitution and habits of life, had a definite ailment; such as these
he cured by purges and operations, and bade them live as usual, herein
consulting the interests of the State; but bodies which disease had
penetrated through and through he would not have attempted to cure by
gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to
lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting
weaker sons; -- if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had
no business to cure him; for such a cure would have been of no use
either to himself, or to the State.

Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.

Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons. Note that
they were heroes in the days of old and practised the medicines of which
I am speaking at the siege of Troy: You will remember how, when Pandarus
wounded Menelaus, they

Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies,[35]

but they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or
drink in the case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus;
the remedies, as they conceived, were enough to heal any man who before
he was wounded was healthy and regular in habits; and even though he did
happen to drink a posset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the
same. But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate
subjects, whose lives were of no use either to themselves or others; the
art of medicine was not designed for their good, and though they were as
rich as Midas, the sons of Asclepius would have declined to attend them.

They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.

Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar
disobeying our behests, although they acknowledge that Asclepius was the
son of Apollo, say also that he was bribed into healing a rich man who
was at the point of death, and for this reason he was struck by
lightning. But we, in accordance with the principle already affirmed by
us, will not believe them when they tell us both; -- if he was the son
of a god, we maintain that hd was not avaricious; or, if he was
avaricious he was not the son of a god.

All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a question to
you: Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are not the
best those who have treated the greatest number of constitutions good
and bad? and are not the best judges in like manner those who are
acquainted with all sorts of moral natures?

Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do
you know whom I think good?

Will you tell me?

I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same question you join
two things which are not the same.

How so? he asked.

Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skillful
physicians are those who, from their youth upwards, have combined with
the knowledge of their art the greatest experience of disease; they had
better not be robust in health, and should have had all manner of
diseases in their own persons. For the body, as I conceive, is not the
instrument with which they cure the body; in that case we could not
allow them ever to be or to have been sickly; but they cure the body
with the mind, and the mind which has become and is sick can cure

That is very true, he said.

But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he
ought not therefore to have been trained among vicious minds, and to
have associated with them from youth upwards, and to have gone through
the whole calendar of crime, only in order that he may quickly infer the
crimes of others as he might their bodily diseases from his own
self-consciousness; the honourable mind which is to form a healthy
judgment should have had no experience or contamination of evil habits
when young. And this is the reason why in youth good men often appear to
be simple, and are easily practised upon by the dishonest, because they
have no examples of what evil is in their own souls.

Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.

Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned
to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation
of the nature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not
personal experience.

Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.

Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer to your
question); for he is good who has a good soul. But the cunning and
suspicious nature of which we spoke, -- he who has committed many
crimes, and fancies himself to be a master in wickedness, when he is
amongst his fellows, is wonderful in the precautions which he takes,
because he judges of them by himself: but when he gets into the company
of men of virtue, who have the experience of age, he appears to be a
fool again, owing to his unseasonable suspicions; he cannot recognise an
honest man, because he has no pattern of honesty in himself; at the same
time, as the bad are more numerous than the good, and he meets with them
oftener, he thinks himself, and is by others thought to be, rather wise
than foolish.

Most true, he said.

Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this man, but
the other; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a virtuous nature,
educated by time, will acquire a knowledge both of virtue and vice: the
virtuous, and not the vicious, man has wisdom -- in my opinion.

And in mine also.

This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you
sanction in your State. They will minister to better natures, giving
health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their
bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they
will put an end to themselves.

That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.

And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music
which, as we said, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.


And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise
the simple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in
some extreme case.

That I quite believe.

The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended to
stimulate the spirited element of his nature, and not to increase his
strength; he will not, like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to
develop his muscles.

Very right, he said.

Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really designed, as is
often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other fir the
training of the body.

What then is the real object of them?

I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the
improvement of the soul.

How can that be? he asked.

Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself of
exclusive devotion to gymnastic, or the opposite effect of an exclusive
devotion to music?

In what way shown? he said.

The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of
softness and effeminacy, I replied.

Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of
a savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what
is good for him.

Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if
rightly educated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is
liable to become hard and brutal.

That I quite think.

On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness.
And this also, when too much indulged, will turn to softness, but, if
educated rightly, will be gentle and moderate.


And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?


And both should be in harmony?

Beyond question.

And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?


And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?

Very true.

And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul
through the funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs
of which we were just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in
warbling and the delights of song; in the first stage of the process the
passion or spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made
useful, instead of brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the
softening and soothing process, in the next stage he begins to melt and
waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his
soul; and he becomes a feeble warrior.

Very true.

If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedily
accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music
weakening the spirit renders him excitable; -- on the least provocation
he flames up at once, and is speedily extinguished; instead of having
spirit he grows irritable and passionate and is quite impracticable.


And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great
feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at
first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit,
and lie becomes twice the man that he was.


And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with
the Muses, does not even that intelligence which there may be in him,
having no taste of any sort of learning or enquiry or thought or
culture, grow feeble and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or
receiving nourishment, and his senses not being purged of their mists?

True, he said.

And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using
the weapon of persuasion, -- he is like a wild beast, all violence and
fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all
ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.

That is quite true, he said.

And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and
the other the philosophical, some God, as I should say, has given
mankind two arts answering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and
body), in order that these two principles (like the strings of an
instrument) may be relaxed or drawn tighter until they are duly

That appears to be the intention.

And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest proportions, and
best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician
and harmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.

You are quite right, Socrates.

And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if the
government is to last.

Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.

Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where would be
the use of going into further details about the dances of our citizens,
or about their hunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian
contests? For these all follow the general principle, and having found
that, we shall have no difficulty in discovering them.

I dare say that there will be no difficulty.

Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not ask who
are to be rulers and who subjects?


There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.


And that the best of these must rule.

That is also clear.

Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to


And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must they not
be those who have most the character of guardians?


And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to have a
special care of the State?


And a man will be most likely to care about that which he loves?

To be sure.

And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as having the
same interests with himself, and that of which the good or evil fortune
is supposed by him at any time most to affect his own?

Very true, he replied.

Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the guardians those
who in their whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for
the good of their country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is
against her interests.

Those are the right men.

And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that we may see
whether they preserve their resolution, and never, under the influence
either of force or enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty
to the State.

How cast off? he said.

I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a man's
mind either with his will or against his will; with his will when he
gets rid of a falsehood and learns better, against his will whenever he
is deprived of a truth.

I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the meaning of
the unwilling I have yet to learn.

Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly deprived of good,
and willingly of evil? Is not to have lost the truth an evil, and to
possess the truth a good? and you would agree that to conceive things as
they are is to possess the truth?

Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind are deprived
of truth against their will.

And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by theft, or
force, or enchantment?

Still, he replied, I do not understand you.

I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the tragedians. I only
mean that some men are changed by persuasion and that others forget;
argument steals away the hearts of one class, and time of the other; and
this I call theft. Now you understand me?


Those again who are forced are those whom the violence of some pain or
grief compels to change their opinion.

I understand, he said, and you are quite right.

And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those who change
their minds either under the softer influence of pleasure, or the
sterner influence of fear?

Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.

Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are the best
guardians of their own conviction that what they think the interest of
the State is to be the rule of their lives. We must watch them from
their youth upwards, and make them perform actions in which they are
most likely to forget or to be deceived, and he who remembers and is not
deceived is to be selected, and he who falls in the trial is to be
rejected. That will be the way?


And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for
them, in which they will be made to give further proof of the same

Very right, he replied.

And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments that is the third
sort of test -- and see what will be their behaviour: like those who
take colts amid noise and tumult to see if they are of a timid nature,
so must we take our youth amid terrors of some kind, and again pass them
into pleasures, and prove them more thoroughly than gold is proved in
the furnace, that we may discover whether they are armed against all
enchantments, and of a noble bearing always, good guardians of
themselves and of the music which they have learned, and retaining under
all circumstances a rhythmical and harmonious nature, such as will be
most serviceable to the individual and to the State. And he who at every
age, as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out of the trial
victorious and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of the
State; he shall be honoured in life and death, and shall receive
sepulture and other memorials of honour, the greatest that we have to
give. But him who fails, we must reject. I am inclined to think that
this is the sort of way in which our rulers and guardians should be
chosen and appointed. I speak generally, and not with any pretension to

And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.

And perhaps the word "guardian" in the fullest sense ought to be applied
to this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies and
maintain peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the
will, or the others the power, to harm us. The young men whom we before
called guardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and
supporters of the principles of the rulers.

I agree with you, he said.

How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we
lately spoke -- just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that
be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?

What sort of lie? he said.

Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician[36] tale of what has
often occurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have
made the world believe,) though not in our time, and I do not know
whether such an event could ever happen again, or could now even be made
probable, if it did.

How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!

You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have heard.

Speak, he said, and fear not.

Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in
the face, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I
propose to communicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the
soldiers, and lastly to the people. They are to be told that their youth
was a dream, and the education and training which they received from us,
an appearance only; in reality during all that time they were being
formed and fed in the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their
arms and appurtenances were manufactured; when they were completed, the
earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their country being their
mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good, and
to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard as
children of the earth and their own brothers.

You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which you were
going to tell.

True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told you half.
Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God
has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and
in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they
have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be
auxillaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has
composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved
in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, a golden
parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden
son. And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all
else, that there is nothing which should so anxiously guard, or of which
they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They
should observe what elements mingle in their off spring; for if the son
of a golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then
nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must
not be pitiful towards the child because he has to descend in the scale
and become a husbandman or artisan, just as there may be sons of
artisans who having an admixture of gold or silver in them are raised to
honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries. For an oracle says that
when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be destroyed. Such
is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in

Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of
accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale,
and their sons' sons, and posterity after them.

I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will
make them care more for the city and for one another. Enough, however,
of the fiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while
we arm our earth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of
their rulers. Let them look round and select a spot whence they can best
suppress insurrection, if any prove refractory within, and also defend
themselves against enemies, who like wolves may come down on the fold
from without; there let them encamp, and when they have encamped, let
them sacrifice to the proper Gods and prepare their dwellings.

Just so, he said.

And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against the cold of
winter and the heat of summer.

I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.

Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not of

What is the difference? he said.

That I will endeavour to explain, I replied. To keep watchdogs, who,
from want of discipline or hunger, or some evil habit, or evil habit or
other, would turn upon the sheep and worry them, and behave not like
dogs but wolves, would be a foul and monstrous thing in a shepherd?

Truly monstrous, he said.

And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries, being
stronger than our citizens, may not grow to be too much for them and
become savage tyrants instead of friends and allies?

Yes, great care should be taken.

And would not a really good education furnish the best safeguard?

But they are well-educated already, he replied.

I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much certain
that they ought to be, and that true education, whatever that may be,
will have the greatest tendency to civilize and humanize them in their
relations to one another, and to those who are under their protection.

Very true, he replied.

And not only their education, but their habitations, and all that
belongs to them, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as
guardians, nor tempt them to prey upon the other citizens. Any man of
sense must acknowledge that.

He must.

Then let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to
realize our idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have
any property of his own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither
should they have a private house or store closed against any one who has
a mind to enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by
trained warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; they should
agree to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet
the expenses of the year and no more; and they will go and live together
like soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we will tell them that they
have from God; the diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore
no need of the dross which is current among men, and ought not to
pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner
metal has been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own is
undefiled. And they alone of all the citizens may not touch or handle
silver or gold, or be under the same roof with them, or wear them, or
drink from them. And this will be their salvation, and they will be the
saviours of the State. But should they ever acquire homes or lands or
moneys of their own, they will become housekeepers and husbandmen
instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other
citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against,
they will pass their whole life in much greater terror of internal than
of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to themselves and to the
rest of the State, will be at hand. For all which reasons may we not say
that thus shall our State be ordered, and that these shall be the
regulations appointed by us for guardians concerning their houses and
all other matters?

Yes, said Glaucon.


1. Odyssey, ix.

2. Iliad, xx.

3. Iliad, xxiii.

4. Odyssey, x.

5. Iliad, xvi.

6. Ibid., xxiii.

7. Odyssey, xxiv.

8. Iliad, xxiv.

9. Ibid., xviii.

10. Ibid., xxii.

11. Ibid., xviii.

12. Ibid., xxii.

13. Ibid., xvi.

14. Ibid., i.

15. Odyssey, xvii.

16. Iliad, iv.

17. Odyssey, iii.

18. Ibid., iv.

19. Ibid., i

20. Ibid., ix.

21. Ibid., xii.

22. Iliad, xiv.

23. Odyssey, viii.

24. Ibid., xx.

25. Iliad, ix.

26. Ibid., xxiv.

27. Cf. infra, x., para. 1.

28. Iliad, xxii.

29. Ibid., xxi.

30. Ibid., xxiii.

31. Ibid., xxii.

32. Ibid., xxiii.

33. The four notes of the tetrachord.

34. Cf. ii.

35. Iliad, iv.

36. Cf. Laws, ii.

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The Republic, a dialogue by Plato, Book 3.