With these words I was thinking that I had made an end of the
discussion; but the end, in truth, proved to be only a beginning. For
Glaucon, who is always the most pugnacious of men, was dissatisfied at
Thrasymachus' retirement; he wanted to have the battle out. So he said to
me: Socrates, do you wish really to persuade us, or only to seem to have
persuaded us, that to be just is always better than to be unjust?
I should wish really to persuade you, I replied, if I could.
Then you certainly have not succeeded. Let me ask you now: — How
would you arrange goods — are there not some which we welcome for
their own sakes, and independently of their consequences, as, for example,
harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although
nothing follows from them?
I agree in thinking that there is such a class, I replied.
Is there not also a second class of goods, such as knowledge, sight,
health, which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their
Certainly, I said.
And would you not recognize a third class, such as gymnastic, and the
care of the sick, and the physician's art; also the various ways of
money-making — these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable;
and no one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of
some reward or result which flows from them?
There is, I said, this third class also. But why do you ask?
Because I want to know in which of the three classes you would place
In the highest class, I replied, — among those goods which he who
would be happy desires both for their own sake and for the sake of their
Then the many are of another mind; they think that justice is to be
reckoned in the troublesome class, among goods which are to be pursued for
the sake of rewards and of reputation, but in themselves are disagreeable
and rather to be avoided.
I know, I said, that this is their manner of thinking, and that this was
the thesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just now, when he censured
justice and praised injustice. But I am too stupid to be convinced by him.
I wish, he said, that you would hear me as well as him, and then I shall
see whether you and I agree. For Thrasymachus seems to me, like a snake,
to have been charmed by your voice sooner than he ought to have been; but
to my mind the nature of justice and injustice have not yet been made
clear. Setting aside their rewards and results, I want to know what they
are in themselves, and how they inwardly work in the soul. If you, please,
then, I will revive the argument of Thrasymachus. And first I will speak
of the nature and origin of justice according to the common view of them.
Secondly, I will show that all men who practise justice do so against
their will, of necessity, but not as a good. And thirdly, I will argue
that there is reason in this view, for the life of the unjust is after all
better far than the life of the just — if what they say is true,
Socrates, since I myself am not of their opinion. But still I acknowledge
that I am perplexed when I hear the voices of Thrasymachus and myriads of
others dinning in my ears; and, on the other hand, I have never yet heard
the superiority of justice to injustice maintained by any one in a
satisfactory way. I want to hear justice praised in respect of itself;
then I shall be satisfied, and you are the person from whom I think that I
am most likely to hear this; and therefore I will praise the unjust life
to the utmost of my power, and my manner of speaking will indicate the
manner in which I desire to hear you too praising justice and censuring
injustice. Will you say whether you approve of my proposal?
Indeed I do; nor can I imagine any theme about which a man of sense
would oftener wish to converse.
I am delighted, he replied, to hear you say so, and shall begin by
speaking, as I proposed, of the nature and origin of justice.
They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice,
evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have
both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not
being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had
better agree among themselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and
mutual covenants; and that which is ordained by law is termed by them
lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice;
— it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do
injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer
injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle
point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil,
and honoured by reason of the inability of men to do injustice. For no man
who is worthy to be called a man would ever submit to such an agreement if
he were able to resist; he would be mad if he did. Such is the received
account, Socrates, of the nature and origin of justice.
Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they
have not the power to be unjust will best appear if we imagine something
of this kind: having given both to the just and the unjust power to do
what they will, let us watch and see whither desire will lead them; then
we shall discover in the very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding
along the same road, following their interest, which all natures deem to
be their good, and are only diverted into the path of justice by the force
of law. The liberty which we are supposing may be most completely given to
them in the form of such a power as is said to have been possessed by
Gyges the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian. According to the tradition,
Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; there was a
great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place
where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descended into the
opening, where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse,
having doors, at which he stooping and looking in saw a dead body of
stature, as appeared to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a
gold ring; this he took from the finger of the dead and reascended. Now
the shepherds met together, according to custom, that they might send
their monthly report about the flocks to the king; into their assembly he
came having the ring on his finger, and as he was sitting among them he
chanced to turn the collet of the ring inside his hand, when instantly he
became invisible to the rest of the company and they began to speak of him
as if he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and again
touching the ring he turned the collet outwards and reappeared; he made
several trials of the ring, and always with the same result — when he
turned the collet inwards he became invisible, when outwards he
reappeared. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of the messengers who
were sent to the court; where as soon as he arrived he seduced the queen,
and with her help conspired against the king and slew him, and took the
kingdom. Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just
put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be
of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would
keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he
liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his
pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all
respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as
the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point.
And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not
willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him
individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can
safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts
that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and
he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If
you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and
never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought
by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise
him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with one another from
a fear that they too might suffer injustice. Enough of this.
Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and
unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the
isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust,
and the just man entirely just; nothing is to be taken away from either of
them, and both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their
respective lives. First, let the unjust be like other distinguished
masters of craft; like the skilful pilot or physician, who knows
intuitively his own powers and keeps within their limits, and who, if he
fails at any point, is able to recover himself. So let the unjust make his
unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means to be great
in his injustice (he who is found out is nobody): for the highest reach of
injustice is: to be deemed just when you are not. Therefore I say that in
the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there
is to be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust
acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have
taken a false step he must be able to recover himself; he must be one who
can speak with effect, if any of his deeds come to light, and who can
force his way where force is required his courage and strength, and
command of money and friends. And at his side let us place the just man in
his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to
seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seem to be just he will be
honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for
the sake of justice or for the sake of honours and rewards; therefore, let
him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be
imagined in a state of life the opposite of the former. Let him be the
best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put
to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of
infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of
death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the
uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let
judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.
Heavens! my dear Glaucon, I said, how energetically you polish them up
for the decision, first one and then the other, as if they were two
I do my best, he said. And now that we know what they are like there is
no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them.
This I will proceed to describe; but as you may think the description a
little too coarse, I ask you to suppose, Socrates, that the words which
follow are not mine. — Let me put them into the mouths of the
eulogists of injustice: They will tell you that the just man who is
thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound — will have his eyes
burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be
impaled: Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to
be, just; the words of Aeschylus may be more truly spoken of the unjust
than of the just. For the unjust is pursuing a reality; he does not live
with a view to appearances — he wants to be really unjust and not to
His mind has a soil deep and fertile,
Out of which spring his
In the first place, he is thought just, and therefore bears rule in the
city; he can marry whom he will, and give in marriage to whom he will;
also he can trade and deal where he likes, and always to his own
advantage, because he has no misgivings about injustice and at every
contest, whether in public or private, he gets the better of his
antagonists, and gains at their expense, and is rich, and out of his gains
he can benefit his friends, and harm his enemies; moreover, he can offer
sacrifices, and dedicate gifts to the gods abundantly and magnificently,
and can honour the gods or any man whom he wants to honour in a far better
style than the just, and therefore he is likely to be dearer than they are
to the gods. And thus, Socrates, gods and men are said to unite in making
the life of the unjust better than the life of the just.
I was going to say something in answer to Glaucon, when Adeimantus, his
brother, interposed: Socrates, he said, you do not suppose that there is
nothing more to be urged?
Why, what else is there? I answered.
The strongest point of all has not been even mentioned, he replied.
Well, then, according to the proverb, "Let brother help brother"
— if he fails in any part do you assist him; although I must confess
that Glaucon has already said quite enough to lay me in the dust, and take
from me the power of helping justice.
Nonsense, he replied. But let me add something more: There is another
side to Glaucon's argument about the praise and censure of justice and
injustice, which is equally required in order to bring out what I believe
to be his meaning. Parents and tutors are always telling their sons and
their wards that they are to be just; but why? not for the sake of
justice, but for the sake of character and reputation; in the hope of
obtaining for him who is reputed just some of those offices, marriages,
and the like which Glaucon has enumerated among the advantages accruing to
the unjust from the reputation of justice. More, however, is made of
appearances by this class of persons than by the others; for they throw in
the good opinion of the gods, and will tell you of a shower of benefits
which the heavens, as they say, rain upon the pious; and this accords with
the testimony of the noble Hesiod and Homer, the first of whom says, that
the gods make the oaks of the just —
To hear acorns at their summit, and bees in the middle;
the sheep the bowed down bowed the with the their fleeces,
and many other blessings of a like kind are provided for them. And Homer
has a very similar strain; for he speaks of one whose fame is —
As the fame of some blameless king who, like a god,
justice to whom the black earth brings forth
Wheat and barley,
whose trees are bowed with fruit,
And his sheep never fail to bear,
and the sea gives him fish.
Still grander are the gifts of heaven which Musaeus and his son1
vouchsafe to the just; they take them down into the world below, where
they have the saints lying on couches at a feast, everlastingly drunk,
crowned with garlands; their idea seems to be that an immortality of
drunkenness is the highest meed of virtue. Some extend their rewards yet
further; the posterity, as they say, of the faithful and just shall
survive to the third and fourth generation. This is the style in which
they praise justice. But about the wicked there is another strain; they
bury them in a slough in Hades, and make them carry water in a sieve; also
while they are yet living they bring them to infamy, and inflict upon them
the punishments which Glaucon described as the portion of the just who are
reputed to be unjust; nothing else does their invention supply. Such is
their manner of praising the one and censuring the other.
Once more, Socrates, I will ask you to consider another way of speaking
about justice and injustice, which is not confined to the poets, but is
found in prose writers. The universal voice of mankind is always declaring
that justice and virtue are honourable, but grievous and toilsome; and
that the pleasures of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are
only censured by law and opinion. They say also that honesty is for the
most part less profitable than dishonesty; and they are quite ready to
call wicked men happy, and to honour them both in public and private when
they are rich or in any other way influential, while they despise and
overlook those who may be weak and poor, even though acknowledging them to
be better than the others. But most extraordinary of all is their mode of
speaking about virtue and the gods: they say that the gods apportion
calamity and misery to many good men, and good and happiness to the
wicked. And mendicant prophets go to rich men's doors and persuade them
that they have a power committed to them by the gods of making an
atonement for a man's own or his ancestor's sins by sacrifices or charms,
with rejoicings and feasts; and they promise to harm an enemy, whether
just or unjust, at a small cost; with magic arts and incantations binding
heaven, as they say, to execute their will. And the poets are the
authorities to whom they appeal, now smoothing the path of vice with the
words of Hesiod:
Vice may be had in abundance without trouble; the way is smooth
and her dwelling-place is near. But before virtue the gods have set
and a tedious and uphill road: then citing Homer as a witness that the
gods may be influenced by men; for he also says: —
The gods, too, may he turned from their purpose; and men pray to
them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by
libations and the odour of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.
And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Orpheus, who
were children of the Moon and the Muses — that is what they say —
according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only
individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may
be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are
equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they
call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we
neglect them no one knows what awaits us.
He proceeded: And now when the young hear all this said about virtue and
vice, and the way in which gods and men regard them, how are their minds
likely to be affected, my dear Socrates, — those of them, I mean, who
are quickwitted, and, like bees on the wing, light on every flower, and
from all that they hear are prone to draw conclusions as to what manner of
persons they should be and in what way they should walk if they would make
the best of life? Probably the youth will say to himself in the words of
Can I by justice or by crooked ways of deceit ascend a loftier tower
which may he a fortress to me all my days?
For what men say is that, if I am really just and am not also thought
just profit there is none, but the pain and loss on the other hand are
unmistakable. But if, though unjust, I acquire the reputation of justice,
a heavenly life is promised to me. Since then, as philosophers prove,
appearance tyrannizes over truth and is lord of happiness, to appearance I
must devote myself. I will describe around me a picture and shadow of
virtue to be the vestibule and exterior of my house; behind I will trail
the subtle and crafty fox, as Archilochus, greatest of sages, recommends.
But I hear some one exclaiming that the concealment of wickedness is often
difficult; to which I answer, Nothing great is easy. Nevertheless, the
argument indicates this, if we would be happy, to be the path along which
we should proceed. With a view to concealment we will establish secret
brotherhoods and political clubs. And there are professors of rhetoric who
teach the art of persuading courts and assemblies; and so, partly by
persuasion and partly by force, I shall make unlawful gains and not be
punished. Still I hear a voice saying that the gods cannot be deceived,
neither can they be compelled. But what if there are no gods? or, suppose
them to have no care of human things — why in either case should we
mind about concealment? And even if there are gods, and they do care about
us, yet we know of them only from tradition and the genealogies of the
poets; and these are the very persons who say that they may be influenced
and turned by "sacrifices and soothing entreaties and by offerings."
Let us be consistent then, and believe both or neither. If the poets speak
truly, why then we had better be unjust, and offer of the fruits of
injustice; for if we are just, although we may escape the vengeance of
heaven, we shall lose the gains of injustice; but, if we are unjust, we
shall keep the gains, and by our sinning and praying, and praying and
sinning, the gods will be propitiated, and we shall not be punished. "But
there is a world below in which either we or our posterity will suffer for
our unjust deeds." Yes, my friend, will be the reflection, but there
are mysteries and atoning deities, and these have great power. That is
what mighty cities declare; and the children of the gods, who were their
poets and prophets, bear a like testimony.
On what principle, then, shall we any longer choose justice rather than
the worst injustice? when, if we only unite the latter with a deceitful
regard to appearances, we shall fare to our mind both with gods and men,
in life and after death, as the most numerous and the highest authorities
tell us. Knowing all this, Socrates, how can a man who has any superiority
of mind or person or rank or wealth, be willing to honour justice; or
indeed to refrain from laughing when he hears justice praised? And even if
there should be some one who is able to disprove the truth of my words,
and who is satisfied that justice is best, still he is not angry with the
unjust, but is very ready to forgive them, because he also knows that men
are not just of their own free will; unless, peradventure, there be some
one whom the divinity within him may have inspired with a hatred of
injustice, or who has attained knowledge of the truth — but no other
man. He only blames injustice who, owing to cowardice or age or some
weakness, has not the power of being unjust. And this is proved by the
fact that when he obtains the power, he immediately becomes unjust as far
as he can be.
The cause of all this, Socrates, was indicated by us at the beginning of
the argument, when my brother and I told you how astonished we were to
find that of all the professing panegyrists of justice — beginning
with the ancient heroes of whom any memorial has been preserved to us, and
ending with the men of our own time — no one has ever blamed
injustice or praised justice except with a view to the glories, honours,
and benefits which flow from them. No one has ever adequately described
either in verse or prose the true essential nature of either of them
abiding in the soul, and invisible to any human or divine eye; or shown
that of all the things of a man's soul which he has within him, justice is
the greatest good, and injustice the greatest evil. Had this been the
universal strain, had you sought to persuade us of this from our youth
upwards, we should not have been on the watch to keep one another from
doing wrong, but every one would have been his own watchman, because
afraid, if he did wrong, of harbouring in himself the greatest of evils. I
dare say that Thrasymachus and others would seriously hold the language
which I have been merely repeating, and words even stronger than these
about justice and injustice, grossly, as I conceive, perverting their true
nature. But I speak in this vehement manner, as I must frankly confess to
you, because I want to hear from you the opposite side; and I would ask
you to show not only the superiority which justice has over injustice, but
what effect they have on the possessor of them which makes the one to be a
good and the other an evil to him. And please, as Glaucon requested of
you, to exclude reputations; for unless you take away from each of them
his true reputation and add on the false, we shall say that you do not
praise justice, but the appearance of it; we shall think that you are only
exhorting us to keep injustice dark, and that you really agree with
Thrasymachus in thinking that justice is another's good and the interest
of the stronger, and that injustice is a man's own profit and interest,
though injurious to the weaker. Now as you have admitted that justice is
one of that highest class of goods which are desired indeed for their
results, but in a far greater degree for their own sakes — like sight
or hearing or knowledge or health, or any other real and natural and not
merely conventional good — I would ask you in your praise of justice
to regard one point only: I mean the essential good and evil which justice
and injustice work in the possessors of them. Let others praise justice
and censure injustice, magnifying the rewards and honours of the one and
abusing the other; that is a manner of arguing which, coming from them, I
am ready to tolerate, but from you who have spent your whole life in the
consideration of this question, unless I hear the contrary from your own
lips, I expect something better. And therefore, I say, not only prove to
us that justice is better than injustice, but show what they either of
them do to the possessor of them, which makes the one to be a good and the
other an evil, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.
I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus, but on
hearing these words I was quite delighted, and said: Sons of an
illustrious father, that was not a bad beginning of the Elegiac verses
which the admirer of Glaucon made in honour of you after you had
distinguished yourselves at the battle of Megara:
Sons of Ariston, divine offspring of an illustrious hero.
The epithet is very appropriate, for there is something truly divine in
being able to argue as you have done for the superiority of injustice, and
remaining unconvinced by your own arguments. And I do believe that you are
not convinced — this I infer from your general character, for had I
judged only from your speeches I should have mistrusted you. But now, the
greater my confidence in you, the greater is my difficulty in knowing what
to say. For I am in a strait between two; on the one hand I feel that I am
unequal to the task; and my inability is brought home to me by the fact
that you were not satisfied with the answer which I made to Thrasymachus,
proving, as I thought, the superiority which justice has over injustice.
And yet I cannot refuse to help, while breath and speech remain to me; I
am afraid that there would be an impiety in being present when justice is
evil spoken of and not lifting up a hand in her defence. And therefore I
had best give such help as I can.
Glaucon and the rest entreated me by all means not to let the question
drop, but to proceed in the investigation. They wanted to arrive at the
truth, first, about the nature of justice and injustice, and secondly,
about their relative advantages. I told them, what I — really
thought, that the enquiry would be of a serious nature, and would require
very good eyes. Seeing then, I said, that we are no great wits, I think
that we had better adopt a method which I may illustrate thus; suppose
that a short-sighted person had been asked by some one to read small
letters from a distance; and it occurred to some one else that they might
be found in another place which was larger and in which the letters were
larger — if they were the same and he could read the larger letters
first, and then proceed to the lesser — this would have been thought
a rare piece of good fortune.
Very true, said Adeimantus; but how does the illustration apply to our
I will tell you, I replied; justice, which is the subject of our
enquiry, is, as you know, sometimes spoken of as the virtue of an
individual, and sometimes as the virtue of a State.
True, he replied.
And is not a State larger than an individual?
Then in the larger the quantity of justice is likely to be larger and
more easily discernible. I propose therefore that we enquire into the
nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and
secondly in the individual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and
That, he said, is an excellent proposal.
And if we imagine the State in process of creation, we shall see the
justice and injustice of the State in process of creation also.
I dare say.
When the State is completed there may be a hope that the object of our
search will be more easily discovered.
Yes, far more easily.
But ought we to attempt to construct one? I said; for to do so, as I am
inclined to think, will be a very serious task. Reflect therefore.
I have reflected, said Adeimantus, and am anxious that you should
A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no
one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants. Can any other origin
of a State be imagined?
There can I be no other.
Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed to supply them,
one takes a helper for one purpose and another for another; and when these
partners and helpers are gathered together in one habitation the body of
inhabitants is termed a State.
True, he said.
And they exchange with one another, and one gives, and another receives,
under the idea that the exchange will be for their good.
Then, I said, let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet the true
creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.
Of course, he replied.
Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the
condition of life and existence.
The second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like. True.
And now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great
demand: We may suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder,
some one else a weaver — shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps
some other purveyor to our bodily wants?
The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.
And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labours
into a common stock? — the individual husbandman, for example,
producing for four, and labouring four times as long and as much as he
need in the provision of food with which he supplies others as well as
himself; or will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the
trouble of producing for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of
the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of
his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes,
having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his own
Adeimantus thought that he should aim at producing food only and not at
Probably, I replied, that would be the better way; and when I hear you
say this, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike; there are
diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different
And will you have a work better done when the workman has many
occupations, or when he has only one?
When he has only one.
Further, there can be no doubt that a work is spoilt when not done at
the right time?
For business is not disposed to wait until the doer of the business is
at leisure; but the doer must follow up what he is doing, and make the
business his first object.
And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully
and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is
natural to him and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.
Then more than four citizens will be required; for the husbandman will
not make his own plough or mattock, or other implements of agriculture, if
they are to be good for anything. Neither will the builder make his tools
— and he too needs many; and in like manner the weaver and shoemaker.
Then carpenters, and smiths, and many other artisans, will be sharers in
our little State, which is already beginning to grow?
Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herdsmen, in order
that our husbandmen may have oxen to plough with, and builders as well as
husbandmen may have draught cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and
hides, — still our State will not be very large.
That is true; yet neither will it be a very small State which contains
Then, again, there is the situation of the city — to find a place
where nothing need be imported is well-nigh impossible.
Then there must be another class of citizens who will bring the required
supply from another city?
But if the trader goes empty-handed, having nothing which they require
who would supply his need, he will come back empty-handed.
That is certain.
And therefore what they produce at home must be not only enough for
themselves, but such both in quantity and quality as to accommodate those
from whom their wants are supplied.
Then more husbandmen and more artisans will be required?
Not to mention the importers and exporters, who are called merchants?
Then we shall want merchants?
And if merchandise is to be carried over the sea, skilful sailors will
also be needed, and in considerable numbers?
Yes, in considerable numbers.
Then, again, within the city, how will they exchange their productions?
To secure such an exchange was, as you will remember, one of our principal
objects when we formed them into a society and constituted a State.
Clearly they will buy and sell.
Then they will need a market-place, and a money-token for purposes of
Suppose now that a husbandman, or an artisan, brings some production to
market, and he comes at a time when there is no one to exchange with him,
— is he to leave his calling and sit idle in the market-place?
Not at all; he will find people there who, seeing the want, undertake
the office of salesmen. In well-ordered States they are commonly those who
are the weakest in bodily strength, and therefore of little use for any
other purpose; their duty is to be in the market, and to give money in
exchange for goods to those who desire to sell and to take money from
those who desire to buy.
This want, then, creates a class of retail-traders in our State. Is not "retailer"
the term which is applied to those who sit in the market-place engaged in
buying and selling, while those who wander from one city to another are
Yes, he said.
And there is another class of servants, who are intellectually hardly on
the level of companionship; still they have plenty of bodily strength for
labour, which accordingly they sell, and are called, if I do not mistake,
hirelings, hire being the name which is given to the price of their
Then hirelings will help to make up our population?
And now, Adeimantus, is our State matured and perfected? I think so.
Where, then, is justice, and where is injustice, and in what part of the
State did they spring up?
Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another. cannot
imagine that they are more likely to be found anywhere else.
I dare say that you are right in your suggestion, I said; we had better
think the matter out, and not shrink from the enquiry.
Let us then consider, first of all, what will be their way of life, now
that we have thus established them. Will they not produce corn, and wine,
and clothes, and shoes, and build houses for themselves? And when they are
housed, they will work, in summer, commonly, stripped and barefoot, but in
winter substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal and
flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble cakes and loaves;
these they will serve up on a mat of reeds or on clean leaves, themselves
reclining the while upon beds strewn with yew or myrtle. And they and
their children will feast, drinking of the wine which they have made,
wearing garlands on their heads, and hymning the praises of the gods, in
happy converse with one another. And they will take care that their
families do not exceed their means; having an eye to poverty or war.
But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to
True, I replied, I had forgotten; of course they must have a
relish-salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs
such as country people prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and
peas, and beans; and they will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the
fire, drinking in moderation. And with such a diet they may be expected to
live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to
their children after them.
Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs,
how else would you feed the beasts?
But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.
Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life.
People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine
off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.
Yes, I said, now I understand: the question which you would have me
consider is, not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created;
and possibly there is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be
more likely to see how justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the
true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have
described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever heat, I have no
objection. For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler
way of way They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture;
also dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all
these not of one sort only, but in every variety; we must go beyond the
necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes,
and shoes: the arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set
in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.
True, he said.
Then we must enlarge our borders; for the original healthy State is no
longer sufficient. Now will the city have to fill and swell with a
multitude of callings which are not required by any natural want; such as
the whole tribe of hunters and actors, of whom one large class have to do
with forms and colours; another will be the votaries of music — poets
and their attendant train of rhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors;
also makers of divers kinds of articles, including women's dresses. And we
shall want more servants. Will not tutors be also in request, and nurses
wet and dry, tirewomen and barbers, as well as confectioners and cooks;
and swineherds, too, who were not needed and therefore had no place in the
former edition of our State, but are needed now? They must not be
forgotten: and there will be animals of many other kinds, if people eat
And living in this way we shall have much greater need of physicians
And the country which was enough to support the original inhabitants
will be too small now, and not enough?
Then a slice of our neighbours' land will be wanted by us for pasture
and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they
exceed the limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited
accumulation of wealth?
That, Socrates, will be inevitable.
And so we shall go to war, Glaucon. Shall we not?
Most certainly, he replied.
Then without determining as yet whether war does good or harm, thus much
we may affirm, that now we have discovered war to be derived from causes
which are also the causes of almost all the evils in States, private as
well as public.
And our State must once more enlarge; and this time the will be nothing
short of a whole army, which will have to go out and fight with the
invaders for all that we have, as well as for the things and persons whom
we were describing above.
Why? he said; are they not capable of defending themselves?
No, I said; not if we were right in the principle which was acknowledged
by all of us when we were framing the State: the principle, as you will
remember, was that one man cannot practise many arts with success.
Very true, he said.
But is not war an art?
And an art requiring as much attention as shoemaking? Quite true.
And the shoemaker was not allowed by us to be husbandman, or a weaver, a
builder — in order that we might have our shoes well made; but to him
and to every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature
fitted, and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no
other; he was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a
good workman. Now nothing can be more important than that the work of a
soldier should be well done. But is war an art so easily acquired that a
man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other
artisan; although no one in the world would be a good dice or draught
player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his
earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else? No tools will
make a man a skilled workman, or master of defence, nor be of any use to
him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any
attention upon them. How then will he who takes up a shield or other
implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with
heavy-armed or any other kind of troops?
Yes, he said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be
And the higher the duties of the guardian, I said, the more time, and
skill, and art, and application will be needed by him?
No doubt, he replied.
Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?
Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted
for the task of guarding the city?
And the selection will be no easy matter, I said; but we must be brave
and do our best.
Is not the noble youth very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding
What do you mean?
I mean that both of them ought to be quick to see, and swift to overtake
the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him,
they have to fight with him.
All these qualities, he replied, will certainly be required by them.
Well, and your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well?
And is he likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or
any other animal? Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable
is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be
absolutely fearless and indomitable?
Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are
required in the guardian.
And also of the mental ones; his soul is to be full of spirit?
But are not these spirited natures apt to be savage with one another,
and with everybody else?
A difficulty by no means easy to overcome, he replied.
Whereas, I said, they ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle
to their friends; if not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for
their enemies to destroy them.
True, he said.
What is to be done then? I said; how shall we find a gentle nature which
has also a great spirit, for the one is the contradiction of the other?
He will not be a good guardian who is wanting in either of these two
qualities; and yet the combination of them appears to be impossible; and
hence we must infer that to be a good guardian is impossible.
I am afraid that what you say is true, he replied.
Here feeling perplexed I began to think over what had preceded. My
friend, I said, no wonder that we are in a perplexity; for we have lost
sight of the image which we had before us.
What do you mean? he said.
I mean to say that there do exist natures gifted with those opposite
And where do you find them?
Many animals, I replied, furnish examples of them; our friend the dog is
a very good one: you know that well-bred dogs are perfectly gentle to
their familiars and acquaintances, and the reverse to strangers.
Yes, I know.
Then there is nothing impossible or out of the order of nature in our
finding a guardian who has a similar combination of qualities?
Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spirited
nature, need to have the qualities of a philosopher?
I do not apprehend your meaning.
The trait of which I am speaking, I replied, may be also seen in the
dog, and is remarkable in the animal.
Why, a dog, whenever he sees a stranger, is angry; when an acquaintance,
he welcomes him, although the one has never done him any harm, nor the
other any good. Did this never strike you as curious?
The matter never struck me before; but I quite recognise the truth of
And surely this instinct of the dog is very charming; — your dog is
a true philosopher.
Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only
by the criterion of knowing and not knowing. And must not an animal be a
lover of learning who determines what he likes and dislikes by the test of
knowledge and ignorance?
And is not the love of learning the love of wisdom, which is philosophy?
They are the same, he replied.
And may we not say confidently of man also, that he who is likely to be
gentle to his friends and acquaintances, must by nature be a lover of
wisdom and knowledge?
That we may safely affirm.
Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will
require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and
Then we have found the desired natures; and now that we have found them,
how are they to be reared and educated? Is not this enquiry which may be
expected to throw light on the greater enquiry which is our final end —
How do justice and injustice grow up in States? for we do not want either
to omit what is to the point or to draw out the argument to an
Adeimantus thought that the enquiry would be of great service to us.
Then, I said, my dear friend, the task must not be given up, even if
Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in story-telling, and our
story shall be the education of our heroes.
By all means.
And what shall be their education? Can we find a better than the
traditional sort? — and this has two divisions, gymnastic for the
body, and music for the soul.
Shall we begin education with music, and go on to gymnastic afterwards?
By all means.
And when you speak of music, do you include literature or not?
And literature may be either true or false?
And the young should be trained in both kinds, and we begin with the
I do not understand your meaning, he said.
You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories which,
though not wholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and
these stories are told them when they are not of an age to learn
That was my meaning when I said that we must teach music before
Quite right, he said.
You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work,
especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time
at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more
And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales
which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds
ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish
them to have when they are grown up?
Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of
fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good,
and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their
children the authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such
tales, even more fondly than they mould the body with their hands; but
most of those which are now in use must be discarded.
Of what tales are you speaking? he said.
You may find a model of the lesser in the greater, I said; for they are
necessarily of the same type, and there is the same spirit in both of
Very likely, he replied; but I do not as yet know what you would term
Those, I said, which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod, and the rest of
the poets, who have ever been the great story-tellers of mankind.
But which stories do you mean, he said; and what fault do you find with
A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and,
what is more, a bad lie.
But when is this fault committed?
Whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods and
heroes, — as when a painter paints a portrait not having the shadow
of a likeness to the original.
Yes, he said, that sort of thing is certainly very blamable; but what
are the stories which you mean?
First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies, in high
places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too, —
I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him.
The doings of Cronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted
upon him, even if they were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told
to young and thoughtless persons; if possible, they had better be buried
in silence. But if there is an absolute necessity for their mention, a
chosen few might hear them in a mystery, and they should sacrifice not a
common [Eleusinian] pig, but some huge and unprocurable victim; and then
the number of the hearers will be very few indeed.
Why, yes, said he, those stories are extremely objectionable.
Yes, Adeimantus, they are stories not to be repeated in our State; the
young man should not be told that in committing the worst of crimes he is
far from doing anything outrageous; and that even if he chastises his
father when does wrong, in whatever manner, he will only be following the
example of the first and greatest among the gods.
I entirely agree with you, he said; in my opinion those stories are
quite unfit to be repeated.
Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of
quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word
be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of
the gods against one another, for they are not true. No, we shall never
mention the battles of the giants, or let them be embroidered on garments;
and we shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and
heroes with their friends and relatives. If they would only believe us we
would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time
has there been any, quarrel between citizens; this is what old men and old
women should begin by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets
also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit. But the
narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or how on another
occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was being
beaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer — these tales must
not be admitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an
allegorical meaning or not. For a young person cannot judge what is
allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind
at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore
it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be
models of virtuous thoughts.
There you are right, he replied; but if any one asks where are such
models to be found and of what tales are you speaking — how shall we
I said to him, You and I, Adeimantus, at this moment are not poets, but
founders of a State: now the founders of a State ought to know the general
forms in which poets should cast their tales, and the limits which must be
observed by them, but to make the tales is not their business.
Very true, he said; but what are these forms of theology which you mean?
Something of this kind, I replied: — God is always to be
represented as he truly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric or
tragic, in which the representation is given.
And is he not truly good? and must he not be represented as such?
And no good thing is hurtful?
And that which is not hurtful hurts not?
And that which hurts not does no evil?
And can that which does no evil be a cause of evil?
And the good is advantageous?
And therefore the cause of well-being?
It follows therefore that the good is not the cause of all things, but
of the good only?
Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many
assert, but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things
that occur to men. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the
evils, and the good is to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the
causes are to be sought elsewhere, and not in him.
That appears to me to be most true, he said.
Then we must not listen to Homer or to any other poet who is guilty of
the folly of saying that two casks
Lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other
of evil lots,
and that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two
Sometimes meets with evil fortune, at other times with good;
but that he to whom is given the cup of unmingled ill,
Him wild hunger drives o'er the beauteous earth.
And again —
Zeus, who is the dispenser of good and evil to us.
And if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which
was really the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athene and Zeus, or
that the strife and contention of the gods was instigated by Themis and
Zeus, he shall not have our approval; neither will we allow our young men
to hear the words of Aeschylus, that
God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy a
And if a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe — the subject of
the tragedy in which these iambic verses occur — or of the house of
Pelops, or of the Trojan war or on any similar theme, either we must not
permit him to say that these are the works of God, or if they are of God,
he must devise some explanation of them such as we are seeking; he must
say that God did what was just and right, and they were the better for
being punished; but that those who are punished are miserable, and that
God is the author of their misery — the poet is not to be permitted
to say; though he may say that the wicked are miserable because they
require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving punishment from
God; but that God being good is the author of evil to any one is to be
strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard in verse or prose
by any one whether old or young in any well-ordered commonwealth. Such a
fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.
I agree with you, he replied, and am ready to give my assent to the law.
Let this then be one of our rules and principles concerning the gods, to
which our poets and reciters will be expected to conform — that God
is not the author of all things, but of good only.
That will do, he said.
And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask you whether God
is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and
now in another — sometimes himself changing and passing into many
forms, sometimes deceiving us with the semblance of such transformations;
or is he one and the same immutably fixed in his own proper image?
I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.
Well, I said; but if we suppose a change in anything, that change must
be effected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing?
And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered
or discomposed; for example, when healthiest and strongest, the human
frame is least liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant
which is in the fullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat
of the sun or any similar causes.
And will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused or deranged
by any external influence?
And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all composite
things — furniture, houses, garments; when good and well made, they
are least altered by time and circumstances.
Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature, or both,
is least liable to suffer change from without?
But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?
Of course they are.
Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many
But may he not change and transform himself?
Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.
And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the
worse and more unsightly?
If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot
suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.
Very true, Adeimantus; but then, would any one, whether God or man,
desire to make himself worse?
Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change; being,
as is supposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every god
remains absolutely and for ever in his own form.
That necessarily follows, he said, in my judgment.
Then, I said, my dear friend, let none of the poets tell us that
The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk
up and down cities in all sorts of forms,
and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let any one, either
in tragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here disguised in the
likeness of a priestess asking an alms
For the life-giving daughters of Inachus the river of Argos;
— let us have no more lies of that sort. Neither must we have
mothers under the influence of the poets scaring their children with a bad
version of these myths — telling how certain gods, as they say, "Go
about by night in the likeness of so many strangers and in divers forms";
but let them take heed lest they make cowards of their children, and at
the same time speak blasphemy against the gods.
Heaven forbid, he said.
But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by witchcraft
and deception they may make us think that they appear in various forms?
Perhaps, he replied.
Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie, whether in
word or deed, or to put forth a phantom of himself?
I cannot say, he replied.
Do you not know, I said, that the true lie, if such an expression may be
allowed, is hated of gods and men?
What do you mean? he said.
I mean that no one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest and
highest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there,
above all, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.
Still, he said, I do not comprehend you.
The reason is, I replied, that you attribute some profound meaning to my
words; but I am only saying that deception, or being deceived or
uninformed about the highest realities in the highest part of themselves,
which is the soul, and in that part of them to have and to hold the lie,
is what mankind least like; — that, I say, is what they utterly
There is nothing more hateful to them.
And, as I was just now remarking, this ignorance in the soul of him who
is deceived may be called the true lie; for the lie in words is only a
kind of imitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul,
not pure unadulterated falsehood. Am I not right?
The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men?
Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful; in
dealing with enemies — that would be an instance; or again, when
those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going
to do some harm, then it is useful and is a sort of medicine or
preventive; also in the tales of mythology, of which we were just now
speaking — because we do not know the truth about ancient times, we
make falsehood as much like truth as we can, and so turn it to account.
Very true, he said.
But can any of these reasons apply to God? Can we suppose that he is
ignorant of antiquity, and therefore has recourse to invention?
That would be ridiculous, he said.
Then the lying poet has no place in our idea of God?
I should say not.
Or perhaps he may tell a lie because he is afraid of enemies? That is
But he may have friends who are senseless or mad?
But no mad or senseless person can be a friend of God.
Then no motive can be imagined why God should lie?
Then the superhuman and divine is absolutely incapable of falsehood?
Then is God perfectly simple and true both in word and deed; he changes
not; he deceives not, either by sign or word, by dream or waking vision.
Your thoughts, he said, are the reflection of my own.
You agree with me then, I said, that this is the second type or form in
which we should write and speak about divine things. The gods are not
magicians who transform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any
I grant that.
Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire the lying
dream which Zeus sends to Agamemnon; neither will we praise the verses of
Aeschylus in which Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials.
Was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to he
long, and to know no sickness. And when he had spoken of my lot as in
all things blessed of heaven he raised a note of triumph and cheered my
soul. And I thought that the word of Phoebus being divine and full of
prophecy, would not fail. And now he himself who uttered the strain, he
who was present at the banquet, and who said this — he it is who
has slain my son.
These are the kind of sentiments about the gods which will arouse our
anger; and he who utters them shall be refused a chorus; neither shall we
allow teachers to make use of them in the instruction of the young,
meaning, as we do, that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be
true worshippers of the gods and like them.
I entirely agree, be said, in these principles, and promise to make them
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