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Full text of "Ancient Classic Texts before 400 B.C."

360 BC 
STATESMAN 
by Plato 
translated by Benjamin Jowett 
STATESMAN 

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: THEODORUS; SOCRATES; THE ELEATIC STRANGER; 
THE YOUNGER SOCRATES 

Socrates. I owe you many thanks, indeed, Theodorus, for the 
acquaintance both of Theaetetus and of the Stranger. 

Theodorus. And in a little while, Socrates, you will owe me three 
times as many, when they have completed for you the delineation of the 
Statesman and of the Philosopher, as well as of the Sophist. 

Soc. Sophist, statesman, philosopher! my dear Theodorus, do my 
ears truly witness that this is the estimate formed of them by the 
great calculator and geometrician? 

Theod. What do you mean, Socrates? 

Soc. I mean that you rate them all at the same value, whereas they 
are really separated by an interval, which no geometrical ratio can 
express . 

Theod. By Ammon, the god of Cyrene, Socrates, that is a very fair 
hit; and shows that you have not forgotten your geometry. I will 
retaliate on you at some other time, but I must now ask the 
Stranger, who will not, I hope, tire of his goodness to us, to proceed 
either with the Statesman or with the Philosopher, whichever he 
prefers . 

Stranger. That is my duty, Theodorus; having begun I must go on, and 
not leave the work unfinished. But what shall be done with Theaetetus? 

Theod. In what respect? 

Str. Shall we relieve him, and take his companion, the Young 
Socrates, instead of him? What do you advise? 

Theod. Yes, give the other a turn, as you propose. The young 
always do better when they have intervals of rest. 

Soc. I think, Stranger, that both of them may be said to be in 
some way related to me; for the one, as you affirm, has the cut of 
my ugly face, the other is called by my name. And we should always 
be on the look-out to recognize a kinsman by the style of his 
conversation. I myself was discoursing with Theaetetus yesterday, 
and I have just been listening to his answers; my namesake I have 
not yet examined, but I must. Another time will, do for me; to-day let 
him answer you. 

Str. Very good. Young Socrates, do you hear what the elder 
Socrates is proposing? 

Young Socrates. I do. 

Str. And do you agree to his proposal? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. As you do not object, still less can I. After the Sophist, 
then, I think that the Statesman naturally follows next in the order 
of enquiry. And please to say, whether he, too, should be ranked among 
those who have science. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. Then the sciences must be divided as before? 

Y. Soc. I dare say. 

Str. But yet the division will not be the same? 

Y. Soc. How then? 

Str. They will be divided at some other point. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. Where shall we discover the path of the Statesman? We must find 
and separate off, and set our seal upon this, and we will set the mark 
of another class upon all diverging paths. Thus the soul will conceive 
of ail kinds of knowledge under two classes. 

Y. Soc. To find the path is your business, Stranger, and not mine. 



Str. Yes, Socrates, but the discovery, when once made, must be yours 
as well as mine. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Well, and are not arithmetic and certain other kindred arts, 
merely abstract knowledge, wholly separated from action? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But in the art of carpentering and all other handicrafts, the 
knowledge of the workman is merged in his work; he not only knows, but 
he also makes things which previously did not exist. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Then let us divide sciences in general into those which are 
practical and those which are-purely intellectual. 

Y. Soc. Let us assume these two divisions of science, which is one 
whole . 

Str. And are "statesman," "king," "master," or "householder," one 
and the same; or is there a science or art answering to each of 
these names? Or rather, allow me to put the matter in another way. 

Y. Soc. Let me hear. 

Str. If any one who is in a private station has the skill to 
advise one of the public physicians, must not he also be called a 
physician? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And if any one who is in a private station is able to advise 
the ruler of a country, may not he be said to have the knowledge which 
the ruler himself ought to have? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But, surely the science of a true king is royal science? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And will not he who possesses this knowledge, whether he 
happens to be a ruler or a private man, when regarded only in 
reference to his art, be truly called "royal"? 

Y. Soc. He certainly ought to be. 

Str. And the householder and master are the same? 

Y. Soc. Of course. 

Str. Again, a large household may be compared to a small state: -will 
they differ at all, as far as government is concerned? 

Y. Soc. They will not. 

Str. Then, returning to the point which we were just now discussing, 
do we not clearly see that there is one science of all of them; and 
this science may be called either royal or political or economical; we 
will not quarrel with any one about the name. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. This too, is evident, that the king cannot do much with his 
hands, or with his whole body, towards the maintenance of his 
empire, compared with what he does by the intelligence and strength of 
his mind. 

Y. Soc. Clearly not. 

Str. Then, shall we say that the king has a greater affinity to 
knowledge than to manual arts and to practical life in general? 

Y. Soc. Certainly he has. 

Str. Then we may put all together as one and the 
same-statesmanship and the statesman-the kingly science and the king. 

Y. Soc. Clearly. 

Str. And now we shall only be proceeding in due order if we go on to 
divide the sphere of knowledge? 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Think whether you can find any joint or parting in knowledge. 

Y. Soc. Tell me of what sort. 

Str. Such as this: You may remember that we made an art of 
calculation? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. Which was, unmistakably, one of the arts of knowledge? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And to this art of calculation which discerns the differences 



of numbers shall we assign any other function except to pass 
judgment on their differences? 

Y. Soc. How could we? 

Str. You know that the master-builder does not work himself, but 
is the ruler of workmen? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. He contributes knowledge, not manual labour? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And may therefore be justly said to share in theoretical 
science? 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. But he ought not, like the calculator, to regard his 
functions as at and when he has formed a judgment; -he must assign to 
the individual workmen their appropriate task until they have 
completed the work. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Are not all such sciences, no less than arithmetic and the 
like, subjects of pure knowledge; and is not the difference between 
the two classes, that the one sort has the power of judging only, 
and the other of ruling as well? 

Y. Soc. That is evident. 

Str. May we not very properly say, that of all knowledge, there 
are there are two divisions-one which rules, and the other which 
judges? 

Y. Soc. I should think so. 

Str. And when men have anything to do in common, that they should be 
of one mind is surely a desirable thing? 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Then while we are at unity among ourselves, we need not mind 
about the fancies of others? 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. And now, in which of these divisions shall we place the 
king?-Is he a judge and a kind of spectator? Or shall we assign to him 
the art of command-for he is a ruler? 

Y. Soc. The latter, clearly. 

Str. Then we must see whether there is any mark of division in the 
art of command too. I am inclined to think that there is a distinction 
similar to that of manufacturer and retail dealer, which parts off the 
king from the herald. 

Y. Soc. How is this? 

Str. Why, does not the retailer receive and sell over again the 
productions of others, which have been sold before? 

Y. Soc. Certainly he does. 

Str. And is not the herald under command, and does he not receive 
orders, and in his turn give them to others? 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Then shall we mingle the kingly art in the same class with 
the art of the herald, the interpreter, the boatswain, the prophet, 
and the numerous kindred arts which exercise command; or, as in the 
preceding comparison we spoke of manufacturers, or sellers for 
themselves, and of retailers, -seeing, too, that the class of supreme 
rulers, or rulers for themselves, is almost nameless-shall we make a 
word following the same analogy, and refer kings to a supreme or 
ruling-f or-self science, leaving the rest to receive a name from 
some one else? For we are seeking the ruler; and our enquiry is not 
concerned with him who is not a ruler. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Thus a very fair distinction has been attained between the 
man who gives his own commands, and him who gives another's. And now 
let us see if the supreme power allows of any further division. 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. I think that it does; and please to assist me in making the 
division . 

Y. Soc. At what point? 



Str. May not all rulers be supposed to command for the sake of 
producing something? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Nor is there any difficulty in dividing the things produced 
into two classes. 

Y. Soc. How would you divide them? 

Str. Of the whole class some have life and some are without life. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And by the help of this distinction we may make, if we 
please, a subdivision of the section of knowledge which commands. 

Y. Soc. At what point? 

Str. One part may be set over the production of lifeless, the 
other of living objects; and in this way the whole will be divided. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. That division, then, is complete; and now we may leave one 
half, and take up the other; which may also be divided into two. 

Y. Soc. Which of the two halves do you men? 

Str. Of course that which exercises command about animals. For, 
surely, the royal science is not like that of a master-workman, a 
science presiding over lifeless objects;-the king has a nobler 
function, which is the management and control of living beings. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And the breeding and tending of living beings may be observed 
to be sometimes a tending of the individual; in other cases, a 
common care of creatures in flocks? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But the statesman is not a tender of individuals-not like the 
driver or groom of a single ox or horse; he is rather to be compared 
with the keeper of a drove of horses or oxen. 

Y. Soc. Yes, I see, thanks to you. 

Str. Shall we call this art of tending many animals together, the 
art of managing a herd, or the art of collective management? 

Y. Soc. No matter ; -Whichever suggests itself to us in the course 
of conversation. 

Str. Very good, Socrates; and, if you continue to be not too 
particular about names, you will be all the richer in wisdom when 
you are an old man. And now, as you say, leaving the discussion of the 
name, -can you see a way in which a person, by showing the art of 
herding to be of two kinds, may cause that which is now sought amongst 
twice the number of things, to be then sought amongst half that 
number? 

Y. Soc. I will try; -there appears to me to be one management of 
men and another of beasts. 

Str. You have certainly divided them in a most straightforward and 
manly style; but you have fallen into an error which hereafter I think 
that we had better avoid. 

Y. Soc. What is the error? 

Str. I think that we had better not cut off a single small portion 
which is not a species, from many larger portions; the part should 
be a species. To separate off at once the subject of investigation, is 
a most excellent plan, if only the separation be rightly made; and you 
were under the impression that you were right, because you saw that 
you would come to man; and this led you to hasten the steps. But you 
should not chip off too small a piece, my friend; the safer way is 
to cut through the middle; which is also the more likely way of 
finding classes. Attention to this principle makes all the 
difference in a process of enquiry. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean, Stranger? 

Str. I will endeavour to speak more plainly out of love to your good 
parts, Socrates; and, although I cannot at present entirely explain 
myself, I will try, as we proceed, to make my meaning a little 
clearer . 

Y. Soc. What was the error of which, as you say, we were guilty in 
our recent division? 



Str. The error was just as if some one who wanted to divide the 
human race, were to divide them after the fashion which prevails in 
this part of the world; here they cut off the Hellenes as one species, 
and all the other species of mankind, which are innumerable, and 
have no ties or common language, they include under the single name of 
"barbarians," and because they have one name they are supposed to be 
of one species also. Or suppose that in dividing numbers you were to 
cut off ten thousand from all the rest, and make of it one species, 
comprehending the first under another separate name, you might say 
that here too was a single class, because you had given it a single 
name. Whereas you would make a much better and more equal and 
logical classification of numbers, if you divided them into odd and 
even; or of the human species, if you divided them into male and 
female; and only separated off Lydians or Phrygians, or any other 
tribe, and arrayed them against the rest of the world, when you 
could no longer make a division into parts which were also classes. 

Y. Soc. Very true; but I wish that this distinction between a part 
and a class could still be made somewhat plainer. 

Str. Socrates, best of men, you are imposing upon me a very 
difficult task. We have already digressed further from our original 
intention than we ought, and you would have us wander still further 
away. But we must now return to our subject; and hereafter, when there 
is a leisure hour, we will follow up the other track; at the same time 
I wish you to guard against imagining that you ever heard me declare- 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. That a class and a part are distinct. 

Y. Soc. What did I hear, then? 

Str. That a class is necessarily a part, but there is no similar 
necessity that a part should be a dass; that is the view which I 
should always wish you to attribute to me, Socrates. 

Y. Soc. So be it. 

Str. There is another thing which I should like to know. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. The point at which we digressed; for, if I am not mistaken, the 
exact place was at the question, Where you would divide the management 
of herds. To this you appeared rather too ready to answer that them 
were two species of animals; man being one, and all brutes making up 
the other. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. I thought that in taking away a part you imagined that the 
remainder formed a class, because you were able to call them by the 
common name of brutes. 

Y. Soc. That again is true. 

Str. Suppose now, most courageous of dialecticians, that some wise 
and understanding creature, such as a crane is reputed to be, were, in 
imitation of you, to make a similar division, and set up cranes 
against all other animals to their own special glorification, at the 
same time jumbling together all the others, including man, under the 
appellation of brutes, -here would be the sort of error which we must 
try to avoid. 

Y. Soc. How can we be safe? 

Str. If we do not divide the whole class of animals, we shall be 
less likely to fall into that error. 

Y. Soc. We had better not take the whole? 

Str. Yes, there lay the source of error in our former division. 

Y. Soc. How? 

Str. You remember how that part of the art of knowledge which was 
concerned with command, had to do with the rearing of living 
creatures, -I mean, with animals in herds? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. In that case, there was already implied a division of all 
animals into tame and wild; those whose nature can be tamed are called 
tame, and those which cannot be tamed are called wild. 

Y. Soc. True. 



Str. And the political science of which we are in search, is and 
ever was concerned with tame animals, and is also confined to 
gregarious animals. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. But then ought not to divide, as we did, taking the whole class 
at once. Neither let us be in too great haste to arrive quickly at the 
political science; for this mistake has already brought upon us the 
misfortune of which the proverb speaks. 

Y. Soc. What misfortune? 

Str. The misfortune of too much haste, which is too little speed. 

Y. Soc. And all the better, Stranger ; -we got what we deserved. 

Str. Very well: Let us then begin again, and endeavour to divide the 
collective rearing of animals; for probably the completion of the 
argument will best show what you are so anxious to know. Tell me, 
then- 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. Have you ever heard, as you very likely may-for I do not 
suppose that you ever actually visited them-of the preserves of fishes 
in the Nile, and in the ponds of the Great King; or you may have 
seen similar preserves in wells at home? 

Y. Soc. Yes, to be sure, I have seen them, and I have often heard 
the others described. 

Str. And you may have heard also, and may have been-assured by 
report, although you have not travelled in those regions, of nurseries 
of geese and cranes in the plains of Thessaly? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. I asked you, because here is a new division of the management 
of herds, into the management of land and of water herds. 

Y . Soc . There is . 

Str. And do you agree that we ought to divide the collective rearing 
of herds into two corresponding parts, the one the rearing of water, 
and the other the rearing of land herds? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. There is surely no need to ask which of these two contains 
the royal art, for it is evident to everybody. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Any one can divide the herds which feed on dry land? 

Y. Soc. How would you divide them? 

Str. I should distinguish between those which fly and those which 
walk. 

Y. Soc. Most true. 

Str. And where shall we look for the political animal? Might not 
an idiot, so to speak, know that he is a pedestrian? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. The art of managing the walking animal has to be further 
divided, just as you might have an even number. 

Y. Soc. Clearly. 

Str. Let me note that here appear in view two ways to that part or 
class which the argument aims at reaching-the one is speedier way, 
which cuts off a small portion and leaves a large; the other agrees 
better with the principle which we were laying down, that as far as we 
can we should divide in the middle; but it is longer. We can take 
either of them, whichever we please. 

Y. Soc. Cannot we have both ways? 

Str. Together? What a thing to ask! but, if you take them in turn, 
you clearly may. 

Y. Soc. Then I should like to have them in turn. 

Str. There will be no difficulty, as we are near the end; if we 
had been at the beginning, or in the middle, I should have demurred to 
your request; but now, in accordance with your desire, let us begin 
with the longer way; while we are fresh, we shall get on better. And 
now attend to the division. 

Y. Soc. Let me hear. 

Str. The tame walking herding animals are distributed by nature into 



two classes. 

Y. Soc. Upon what principle? 

Str. The one grows horns; and the other is without horns. 

Y. Soc. Clearly. 

Str. Suppose that you divide the science which manages pedestrian 
animals into two corresponding parts, and define them; for if you 
try to invent names for them, you will find the intricacy too great. 

Y. Soc. How must I speak of them, then? 

Str. In this way: let the science of managing pedestrian animals 
be divided into two parts and one part assigned to the horned herd and 
the other to the herd that has no horns . 

Y. Soc. All that you say has been abundantly proved, and may 
therefore, be assumed. 

Str. The king is clearly the shepherd a polled herd, who have no 
horns . 

Y. Soc. That is evident. 

Str. Shall we break up this hornless herd into sections, and 
endeavour to assign to him what is his? 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. Shall we distinguish them by their having or not having 
cloven feet, or by their mixing or not mixing the breed? You know what 
I mean . 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. I mean that horses and asses naturally breed from one another. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. But the remainder of the hornless herd of tame animals will not 
mix the breed. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And of which has the Statesman charge, -of the mixed or of the 
unmixed race? 

Y. Soc. Clearly of the unmixed. 

Str. I suppose that we must divide this again as before. 

Y. Soc. We must. 

Str. Every tame and herding animal has now been split up, with the 
exception of two species; for I hardly think that dogs should be 
reckoned among gregarious animals. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not; but how shall we divide the two remaining 
species? 

Str. There is a measure of difference which may be appropriately 
employed by you and Theaetetus, who are students of geometry. 

Y. Soc. What is that? 

Str. The diameter; and, again, the diameter of a diameter. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. How does man walk, but as a diameter whose power is two feet? 

Y. Soc. Just so. 

Str. And the power of the remaining kind, being the power of twice 
two feet, may be said to be the diameter of our diameter. 

Y. Soc. Certainly; and now I think that I pretty nearly understand 
you . 

Str. In these divisions, Socrates, I descry what would make 
another famous jest. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. Human beings have come out in the same class with the freest 
and airiest of creation, and have been running a race with them. 

Y. Soc. I remark that very singular coincidence. 

Str. And would you not expect the slowest to arrive last? 

Y. Soc. Indeed I should. 

Str. And there is a still more ridiculous consequence, that the king 
is found running about with the herd and in close competition with the 
bird-catcher, who of all mankind is most of an adept at the airy life. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Then here, Socrates, is still clearer evidence of the truth 
of what was said in the enquiry about the Sophist? 

Y. Soc. What? 



Str. That the dialectical method is no respecter of persons, and 
does not set the great above the small, but always arrives in her 
own way at the truest result. 

Y. Soc. Clearly. 

Str. And now, I will not wait for you to ask the, but will of my own 
accord take you by the shorter road to the definition of a king. 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. I say that we should have begun at first by dividing land 
animals into biped and quadruped; and since the winged herd, and 
that alone, comes out in the same class with man, should divide bipeds 
into those which have feathers and those which have not, and when they 
have been divided, and the art of the management of mankind is brought 
to light, the time will have come to produce our Statesman and 
ruler, and set him like a charioteer in his place, and hand over to 
him the reins of state, for that too is a vocation which belongs to 
him . 

Y. Soc. Very good; you have paid me the debt-I mean, that you have 
completed the argument, and I suppose that you added the digression by 
way of interest. 

Str. Then now, let us go back to the beginning, and join the 
links, which together make the definition of the name of the 
Statesman's art. 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. The science of pure knowledge had, as we said originally, a 
part which was the science of rule or command, and from this was 
derived another part, which was called command-f or-self , on the 
analogy of selling-f or-self ; an important section of this was the 
management of living animals, and this again was further limited to 
the manage merit of them in herds; and again in herds of pedestrian 
animals. The chief division of the latter was the art of managing 
pedestrian animals which are without horns; this again has a part 
which can only be comprehended under one term by joining together 
three names-shepherding pure-bred animals. The only further 
subdivision is the art of man herding-this has to do with bipeds, 
and is what we were seeking after, and have now found, being at once 
the royal and political. 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. And do you think, Socrates, that we really have done as you 
say? 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. Do you think, I mean, that we have really fulfilled our 
intention?-There has been a sort of discussion, and yet the 
investigation seems to me not to be perfectly worked out: this is 
where the enquiry fails. 

Y. Soc. I do not understand. 

Str. I will try to make the thought, which is at this moment present 
in my mind, clearer to us both. 

Y. Soc. Let me hear. 

Str. There were many arts of shepherding, and one of them was the 
political, which had the charge of one particular herd? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And this the argument defined to be the art of rearing, not 
horses or other brutes, but the art of rearing man collectively? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Note, however, a difference which distinguishes the king from 
all other shepherds. 

Y. Soc. To what do you refer? 

Str. I want to ask, whether any one of the other herdsmen has a 
rival who professes and claims to share with him in the management 
of the herd? 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I mean to say that merchants husbandmen, providers of food, and 
also training-masters and physicians, will all contend with the 
herdsmen of humanity, whom we call Statesmen, declaring that they 



themselves have the care of rearing of managing mankind, and that they 
rear not only the common herd, but also the rulers themselves. 

Y. Soc. Are they not right in saying so? 

Str. Very likely they may be, and we will consider their claim. 
But we are certain of this, -that no one will raise a similar claim 
as against the herdsman, who is allowed on all hands to be the sole 
and only feeder and physician of his herd; he is also their matchmaker 
and accoucheur; no one else knows that department of science. And he 
is their merry-maker and musician, as far as their nature is 
susceptible of such influences, and no one can console and soothe 
his own herd better than he can, either with the natural tones of 
his voice or with instruments. And the same may be said of tenders 
of animals in general. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. But if this is as you say, can our argument about the king be 
true and unimpeachable? Were we right in selecting him out of ten 
thousand other claimants to be the shepherd and rearer of the human 
flock? 

Y. Soc. Surely not. 

Str. Had we not reason just to now apprehend, that although we may 
have described a sort of royal form, we have not as yet accurately 
worked out the true image of the Statesman? and that we cannot 
reveal him as he truly is in his own nature, until we have 
disengaged and separated him from those who bang about him and claim 
to share in his prerogatives? 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And that, Socrates, is what we must do, if we do not mean to 
bring disgrace upon the argument at its close. 

Y. Soc. We must certainly avoid that. 

Str. Then let us make a new beginning, and travel by a different 
road. 

Y. Soc. What road? 

Str. I think that we may have a little amusement; there is a 
famous tale, of which a good portion may with advantage be interwoven, 
and then we may resume our series of divisions, and proceed in the old 
path until we arrive at the desired summit. Shall we do as I say? 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. Listen, then, to a tale which a child would love to hear; and 
you are not too old for childish amusement. 

Y. Soc. Let me hear. 

Str. There did really happen, and will again happen, like many other 
events of which ancient tradition has preserved the record, the 
portent which is traditionally said to have occurred in the quarrel of 
Atreus and Thyestes . You have heard no doubt, and remember what they 
say happened at that time? 

Y. Soc. I suppose you to mean the token of the birth of the golden 
lamb . 

Str. No, not that; but another part of the story, which tells how 
the sun and the stars once rose in the west, and set in the east, 
and that the god reversed their motion, and gave them that which 
they now have as a testimony to the right of Atreus. 

Y. Soc. Yes; there is that legend also. 

Str. Again, we have been often told of the reign of Cronos. 

Y. Soc. Yes, very often. 

Str. Did you ever hear that the men of former times were 
earthborn, and not begotten of one another? 

Y. Soc. Yes, that is another old tradition. 

Str. All these stories, and ten thousand others which are still more 
wonderful, have a common origin; many of them have been lost in the 
lapse of ages, or are repeated only in a disconnected form; but the 
origin of them is what no one has told, and may as well be told now; 
for the tale is suited to throw light on the nature of the king. 

Y. Soc. Very good; and I hope that you will give the whole story, 
and leave out nothing. 



Str. Listen, then. There is a time when God himself guides and helps 
to roll the world in its course; and there is a time, on the 
completion of a certain cycle, when he lets go, and the world being 
a living creature, and having originally received intelligence from 
its author and creator turns about and by an inherent necessity 
revolves in the opposite direction. 

Y. Soc. Why is that? 

Str. Why, because only the most divine things of all remain ever 
unchanged and the same, and body is not included in this class. Heaven 
and the universe, as we have termed them, although they have been 
endowed by the Creator with many glories, partake of a bodily 
nature, and therefore cannot be entirely free from perturbation. But 
their motion is, as far as possible, single and in the same place, and 
of the same kind; and is therefore only subject to a reversal, which 
is the least alteration possible. For the lord of all moving things is 
alone able to move of himself; and to think that he moves them at 
one time in one direction and at another time in another is blasphemy. 
Hence we must not say that the world is either self-moved always, or 
all made to go round by God in two opposite courses; or that two Gods, 
having opposite purposes, make it move round. But as I have already 
said (and this is the only remaining alternative) the world is 
guided at one time by an external power which is divine and receives 
fresh life and immortality from the renewing hand of the Creator, 
and again, when let go, moves spontaneously, being set free at such 
a time as to have, during infinite cycles of years, a reverse 
movement: this is due to its perfect balance, to its vast size, and to 
the fact that it turns on the smallest pivot. 

Y. Soc. Your account of the world seems to be very reasonable 
indeed . 

Str. Let us now reflect and try to gather from what has been said 
the nature of the phenomenon which we affirmed to be the cause of 
all these wonders. It is this. 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. The reversal which takes place from time to time of the 
motion of the universe. 

Y. Soc. How is that the cause? 

Str. Of all changes of the heavenly motions, we may consider this to 
be the greatest and most complete. 

Y. Soc. I should imagine so. 

Str. And it may be supposed to result in the greatest changes to the 
human beings who are the inhabitants of the world at the time. 

Y. Soc. Such changes would naturally occur. 

Str. And animals, as we know, survive with difficulty great and 
serious changes of many different kinds when they come upon them at 
once . 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Hence there necessarily occurs a great destruction of them, 
which extends also to-the life of man; few survivors of the race are 
left, and those who remain become the subjects of several novel and 
remarkable phenomena, and of one in particular, which takes place at 
the time when the transition is made to the cycle opposite to that 
in which we are now living. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. The life of all animals first came to a standstill, and the 
mortal nature ceased to be or look older, and was then reversed and 
grew young and delicate; the white locks of the aged darkened again, 
and the cheeks the bearded man became smooth, and recovered their 
former bloom; the bodies of youths in their prime grew softer and 
smaller, continually by day and night returning and becoming 
assimilated to the nature of a newly-born child in mind as well as 
body; in the succeeding stage they wasted away and wholly disappeared. 
And the bodies of those who died by violence at that time quickly 
passed through the like changes, and in a few days were no more seen. 

Y. Soc. Then how, Stranger, were the animals created in those 



days; and in what way were they begotten of one another? 

Str. It is evident, Socrates, that there was no such thing in the 
then order of nature as the procreation of animals from one another; 
the earth-born race, of which we hear in story, was the one which 
existed in those days-they rose again from the ground; and of this 
tradition, which is now-a-days often unduly discredited, our 
ancestors, who were nearest in point of time to the end of the last 
period and came into being at the beginning of this, are to us the 
heralds. And mark how consistent the sequel of the tale is; after 
the return of age to youth, follows the return of the dead, who are 
lying in the earth, to life; simultaneously with the reversal of the 
world the wheel of their generation has been turned back, and they are 
put together and rise and live in the opposite order, unless God has 
carried any of them away to some other lot. According to this 
tradition they of necessity sprang from the earth and have the name of 
earth-born, and so the above legend clings to them. 

Y. Soc. Certainly that is quite consistent with what has preceded; 
but tell me, was the life which you said existed in the reign of 
Cronos in that cycle of the world, or in this? For the change in the 
course of the stars and the sun must have occurred in both. 

Str. I see that you enter into my meaning; -no, that blessed and 
spontaneous life does not belong to the present cycle of the world, 
but to the previous one, in which God superintended the whole 
revolution of the universe; and the several parts the universe were 
distributed under the rule, certain inferior deities, as is the way in 
some places still There were demigods, who were the shepherds of the 
various species and herds of animals, and each one was in all respects 
sufficient for those of whom he was the shepherd; neither was there 
any violence, or devouring of one another or war or quarrel among 
them; and I might tell of ten thousand other blessings, which belonged 
to that dispensation. The reason why the life of man was, as tradition 
says, spontaneous, is as follows: In those days God himself was 
their shepherd, and ruled over them, just as man, over them, who is by 
comparison a divine being, still rules over the lower animals. Under 
him there were no forms of government or separate possession of 
women and children; for all men rose again from the earth, having no 
memory, of the past. And although they had nothing of this sort, the 
earth gave them fruits in abundance, which grew on trees and shrubs 
unbidden, and were not planted by the hand of man. And they dwelt 
naked, and mostly in the open air, for the temperature of their 
seasons, was mild; and they had no beds, but lay on Soft couches of 
grass, which grew plentifully out of: the earth. Such was the life 
of man in the days of Cronos, Socrates; the character of our present 
life which is said to be under Zeus, you know from your own 
experience. Can you, and will you, determine which of them you deem 
the happier? 

Y. Soc. Impossible. 

Str. Then shall I determine for you as well as I can? 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. Suppose that the nurslings of Cronos, having this boundless 
leisure, and the power of holding intercourse, not only with men, 
but with the brute creation, had used all these advantages with a view 
to philosophy, conversing with the brutes as well as with one another, 
and learning of every nature which was gifted with any special 
power, and was able to contribute some special experience to the store 
of wisdom there would be no difficulty in deciding that they would 
be a thousand times happier than the men of our own day. Or, again, if 
they had merely eaten and drunk until they were full, and told stories 
to one another and to the animals-such stories as are now attributed 
to them-in this case also, as I should imagine, the answer would be 
easy. But until some satisfactory witness can be found of the love 
of that age for knowledge and: discussion, we had better let the 
matter drop, and give the reason why we have unearthed this tale, 
and then we shall be able to get on. 



In the fulness of time, when the change was to take place, and the 
earth-born race had all perished, and every soul had completed its 
proper cycle of births and been sown in the earth her appointed number 
of times, the pilot of the universe let the helm go, and retired to 
his place of view; and then Fate and innate desire reversed the motion 
of the world. Then also all the inferior deities who share the rule of 
the supreme power, being informed of what was happening, let go the 
parts of the world which were under their control. And the world 
turning round with a sudden shock, being impelled in an opposite 
direction from beginning to end, was shaken by a mighty earthquake, 
which wrought a new destruction of all manner of animals. 
Afterwards, when sufficient time had elapsed, the tumult and confusion 
and earthquake ceased, and the universal creature, once more at 
peace attained to a calm, and settle down into his own orderly and 
accustomed course, having the charge and rule of himself and of all 
the creatures which are contained in him, and executing, as far as 
he remembered them, the instructions of his Father and Creator, more 
precisely at first, but afterwords with less exactness. The reason 
of the falling off was the admixture of matter in him; this was 
inherent in the primal nature, which was full of disorder, until 
attaining to the present order. From God, the constructor; the world 
received all that is good in him, but from a previous state came 
elements of evil and unrighteousness, which, thence derived, first 
of all passed into the world, and were then transmitted to the 
animals. While the world was aided by the pilot in nurturing the 
animals, the evil was small, and great the good which he produced, but 
after the separation, when the world was let go, at first all 
proceeded well enough; but, as time went there was more and more 
forgetting, and the old discord again held sway and burst forth in 
full glory; and at last small was the good, and great was the 
admixture of evil, and there was a danger of universal ruin to the 
world, and the things contained in him. Wherefore God, the orderer 
of all, in his tender care, seeing that the world was in great 
straits, and fearing that all might be dissolved in the storm and 
disappear in infinite chaos, again seated himself at the helm; and 
bringing back the elements which had fallen into dissolution and 
disorder to the motion which had prevailed under his dispensation, 
he set them in order and restored them, and made the world 
imperishable and immortal. 

And this is the whole tale, of which the first part will suffice 
to illustrate the nature of the king. For when the world turned 
towards the present cycle of generation, the age of man again stood 
still, and a change opposite to the previous one was the result. The 
small creatures which had almost disappeared grew in and stature, 
and the newly-born children of the earth became grey and died and sank 
into the earth again. All things changed, imitating and following 
the condition of the universe, and of necessity agreeing with that 
in their mode of conception and generation and nurture; for no animal; 
was any longer allowed to come into being in the earth through the 
agency of other creative beings, but as the world was ordained to be 
the lord of his own progress, in like manner the parts were ordained 
to grow and generate and give nourishment, as far as they could, of 
themselves, impelled by a similar movement. And so we have arrived 
at the real end of this discourse; for although there might be much to 
tell of the lower animals, and of the condition out of which they 
changed and of the causes of the change, about men there is not 
much, and that little is more to the purpose. Deprived of the care 
of God, who had possessed and tended them, they were left helpless and 
defenceless, and were torn in pieces by the beasts, who were 
naturally fierce and had now grown wild. And in the first ages they 
were still without skill or resource; the food which once grew 
spontaneously had failed, and as yet they knew not how to procure 
it, because they-had never felt the pressure of necessity. For all 
these reasons they were in a great strait; wherefore also the gifts 



spoken of in the old tradition were imparted to man by the gods, 
together with so much teaching and education as was indispensable; 
fire was given to them by Prometheus, the arts by Hephaestus and his 
fellow-worker, Athene, seeds and plants by others. From these is 
derived all that has helped to frame human life; since the care of the 
Gods, as I was saying, had now failed men, and they had to order their 
course of life for themselves, and were their own masters, just like 
the universal creature whom they imitate and follow, ever changing, as 
he changes, and ever living and growing, at one time in one manner, 
and at another time in another. Enough of the story, which may be of 
use in showing us how greatly we erred in the delineation of the 
king and the statesman in our previous discourse. 

Y. Soc. What was this great error of which you speak? 

Str. There were two; the first a lesser one, the other was an 
error on a much larger and grander scale. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I mean to say that when we were asked about a king and 
statesman of the present; and generation, we told of a shepherd of a 
human flock who belonged to the other cycle, and of one who was a 
god when he ought to have been a man; and this a great error. Again, 
we declared him to be, the ruler of the entire State, without, 
explaining how: this was not the whole truth, nor very intelligible; 
but still it was true, and therefore the second error was not so, 
great as the first. 

Y Soc. Very good. 

Str. Before we can expect to have a perfect description of the 
statesman we must define the nature of his office. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And the myth was introduced in order to show, not only that all 
others are rivals of true shepherd who is the object of our search, 
but in order that we might have a clearer view of him who is alone 
worthy to receive this appellation, because, he alone of shepherds and 
herdsmen, according to the image which we have employed, has the 
care of human beings. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And I cannot help thinking, Socrates, that the form of the 
divine shepherd is even higher than that of a king; whereas the 
statesmen who are now on earth seem to be much more like their 
subjects in character, and which more nearly to partake of their 
breeding and education. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Still they must be investigated all the same, to see whether, 
like the divine shepherd, they are above their subjects or on a 
level with them. 

Y. Soc. Of course. 

Str. To resume: -Do you remember that we spoke of a 
command-f or-self exercised over animals, not singly but 
collectively, which we called the art of rearing a herd? 

Y. Soc. Yes, I remember. 

Str. There, somewhere, lay our error; for we never included or 
mentioned the Statesman; and we did not observe that he had no place 
in our nomenclature. 

Y. Soc. How was that? 

Str. All other herdsmen "rear" their herds, but this is not a 
suitable term to apply to the Statesman; we should use a name which is 
common to them all. 

Y. Soc. True, if there be such a name. 

Str. Why, is not "care" of herds applicable to all? For this implies 
no feeding, or any special duty; if we say either "tending" the herds, 
or "managing" the herds, or "having the care" of them, the same word 
will include all, and then we may wrap up the Statesman with the rest, 
as the argument seems to require. 

Y. Soc. Quite right; but how shall we take the-next step in the 
division? 



Str. As before we divided the art of "rearing" herds accordingly 
as they were land or water herds, winged and wingless, mixing or not 
mixing the breed, horned and hornless, so we may divide by these 
same differences the "teading" of herds, comprehending in our 
definition the kingship of to-day and the rule of Cronos. 

Y. Soc. That is clear; but I still ask, what is to follow. 

Str. If the word had been "managing" herds, instead of feeding or 
rearing them, no one would have argued that there was no care of men 
in the case of the politician, although it was justly contended, 
that there was no human art of feeding them which was worthy of the 
name, or at least, if there were, many a man had a prior and greater 
right to share in such an art than any king. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But no other art or science will have a prior or better right 
than the royal science to care for human society and to rule over 
men in general . 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. In the next place, Socrates, we must surely notice that a great 
error was committed at the end of our analysis. 

Y. Soc. What was it? 

Str. Why, supposing we were ever so sure that there is such an art 
as the art of rearing or feeding bipeds, there was no reason why we 
should call this the royal or political art, as though there were no 
more to be said. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. Our first duty, as we were saying, was to remodel the name, 
so as to have the notion of care rather than of feeding, and then to 
divide, for there may be still considerable divisions. 

Y. Soc. How can they be made? 

Str. First, by separating the divine shepherd from the human 
guardian or manager. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And the art of management which is assigned to man would 
again have to be subdivided. 

Y. Soc. On what principle? 

Str. On the principle of voluntary and compulsory. 

Y. Soc. Why? 

Str. Because, if I am not mistaken, there has been an error here; 
for our simplicity led us to rank king and tyrant together, whereas 
they are utterly distinct, like their modes of government. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Then, now, as I said, let us make the correction and divide 
human care into two parts, on the principle of voluntary and 
compulsory . 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And if we call the management of violent rulers tyranny, and 
the voluntary management of herds of voluntary bipeds politics, may we 
not further assert that he who has this latter art of management is 
the true king and statesman? 

Y. Soc. I think, Stranger, that we have now completed the account of 
the Statesman. 

Str. Would that we had Socrates, but I have to satisfy myself as 
well as you; and in my judgment the figure of the king is not yet 
perfected; like statuaries who, in their too great haste, having 
overdone the several parts of their work, lose time in cutting them 
down, so too we, partly out of haste, partly out of haste, partly 
out of a magnanimous desire to expose our former error, and also 
because we imagined that a king required grand illustrations, have 
taken up a marvellous lump of fable, and have been obliged to use more 
than was necessary. This made us discourse at large, and, 
nevertheless, the story never came to an end. And our discussion might 
be compared to a picture of some living being which had been fairly 
drawn in outline, but had not yet attained the life and clearness 
which is given by the blending of colours. Now to intelligent 



persons a living being had better be delineated by language and 
discourse than by any painting or work of art: to the duller sort by 
works of art. 

Y. Soc. Very true; but what is the imperfection which still remains? 
I wish that you would tell me. 

Str. The higher ideas, my dear friend, can hardly be set forth 
except through the medium of examples; every man seems to know all 
things in a dreamy sort of way, and then again to wake up and to 
know nothing. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I fear that I have been unfortunate in raising a question about 
our experience of knowledge. 

Y. Soc. Why so? 

Str. Why, because my "example" requires the assistance of another 
example . 

Y. Soc. Proceed; you need not fear that I shall tire. 

Str. I will proceed, finding, as I do, such a ready listener in you: 
when children are beginning to know their letters- 

Y. Soc. What are you going to say? 

Str. That they distinguish the several letters well enough in very 
short and easy syllables, and are able to tell them correctly. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Whereas in other syllables they do not recognize them, and 
think and speak falsely of them. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Will not the best and easiest way of bringing them to a 
knowledge of what they do not as yet know be- 

Y. Soc. Be what? 

Str. To refer them first of all to cases in which they judge 
correctly about the letters in question, and then to compare these 
with the cases in which they do not as yet know, and to show them that 
the letters are the same, and have the same character in both 
combination, until all cases in which they are right have been 
Placed side by side with all cases in which they are wrong. In this 
way they have examples, and are made to learn that each letter in 
every combination is always the same and not another, and is always 
called by the same name. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Are not examples formed in this manner? We take a thing and 
compare it with another distinct instance of the same thing, of 
which we have a right conception, and out of the comparison there 
arises one true notion, which includes both of them. 

Y. Soc. Exactly. 

Str. Can we wonder, then, that the soul has the same uncertainty 
about the alphabet of things, and sometimes and in some cases is 
firmly fixed by the truth in each particular, and then, again, in 
other cases is altogether at sea; having somehow or other a correction 
of combinations; but when the elements are transferred into the long 
and difficult language (syllables) of facts, is again ignorant of 
them? 

Y. Soc. There is nothing wonderful in that. 

Str. Could any one, my friend, who began with false opinion ever 
expect to arrive even at a small portion of truth and to attain 
wisdom? 

Y. Soc. Hardly. 

Str. Then you and I will not be far wrong in trying to see the 
nature of example in general in a small and particular instance; 
afterwards from lesser things we intend to pass to the royal class, 
which is the highest form of the same nature, and endeavour to 
discover by rules of art what the management of cities is; and then 
the dream will become a reality to us. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Then, once more, let us resume the previous argument, and as 
there were innumerable rivals of the royal race who claim to have 



the care of states, let us part them all off, and leave him alone; 
and, as I was saying, a model or example of this process has first 
to be framed. 

Y. Soc. Exactly. 

Str. What model is there which is small, and yet has any analogy 
with the political occupation? Suppose, Socrates, that if we have no 
other example at hand, we choose weaving, or, more precisely, 
weaving of wool-this will be quite enough, without taking the whole of 
weaving, to illustrate our meaning? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Why should we not apply to weaving the same processes of 
division and subdivision which we have already applied to other 
classes; going once more as rapidly as we can through all the steps 
until we come to that which is needed for our purpose? 

Y. Soc. How do you mean? 

Str. I shall reply by actually performing the process. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. All things which we make or acquire are either creative or 
preventive; of the preventive class are antidotes, divine and human, 
and also defences; and defences are either military weapons or 
protections; and protections are veils, and also shields against 
heat and cold, and shields against heat and cold are shelters and 
coverings; and coverings are blankets and garments; and garments are 
some of them in one piece, and others of them are made in several 
parts; and of these latter some are stitched, others are fastened 
and not stitched; and of the not stitched, some are made of the sinews 
of plants, and some of hair; and of these, again, some are cemented 
with water and earth, and others are fastened together by 
themselves. And these last defences and coverings which are fastened 
together by themselves are called clothes, and the art which 
superintends them we may call, from the nature of the operation, the 
art of clothing, just as before the art of the Statesman was derived 
from the State; and may we not say that the art of weaving, at least 
that largest portion of it which was concerned with the making of 
clothes, differs only in name from this art of clothing, in the same 
way that, in the previous case, the royal science differed from the 
political? 

Y. Soc. Most true. 

Str. In the next place, let us make the reflection, that the art 
of weaving clothes, which an incompetent person might fancy to have 
been sufficiently described, has been separated off from several 
others which are of the same family, but not from the co-operative 
arts . 

Y. Soc. And which are the kindred arts? 

Str. I see that I have not taken you with me. So I think that we had 
better go backwards, starting from the end. We just now parted off 
from the weaving of clothes, the making of blankets, which differ from 
each other in that one is put under and the other is put around! and 
these are what I termed kindred arts . 

Y. Soc. I understand. 

Str. And we have subtracted the manufacture of all articles made 
of flax and cords, and all that we just now metaphorically termed 
the sinews of plants, and we have also separated off the process of 
felting and the putting together of materials by stitching and sewing, 
of which the most important part is the cobbler's art. 

Y. Soc. Precisely. 

Str. Then we separated off the currier's art, which prepared 
coverings in entire pieces, and the art of sheltering, and 
subtracted the various arts of making water-tight which are employed 
in building, and in general in carpentering, and in other crafts, 
and all such arts as furnish impediments to thieving and acts of 
violence, and are concerned with making the lids of boxes and the 
fixing of doors, being divisions of the art of joining; and we also 
cut off the manufacture of arms, which is a section of the great and 



manifold art of making defences; and we originally began by parting 
off the whole of the magic art which is concerned with antidoter, 
and have left, as would appear, the very art of which we were in 
search, the art of protection against winter cold, which fabricates 
woollen defences, and has the name of weaving. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Yes, my boy, but that is not all; for the first process to 
which the material is subjected is the opposite of weaving. 

Y. Soc. How so? 

Str. Weaving is a sort of uniting? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. But the first process is a separation of the clotted and matted 
fibres? 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I mean the work of the carder's art; for we cannot say that 
carding is weaving, or that the carder is a weaver. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. Again, if a person were to say that the art of making the 
warp and the woof was the art of weaving, he would say what was 
paradoxical and false. 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. Shall we say that the whole art of the fuller or of the 
mender has nothing to do with the care and treatment clotes, or are we 
to regard all these as arts of weaving? 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. And yet surely all these arts will maintain that they are 
concerned with the treatment and production of clothes; they will 
dispute the exclusive prerogative of weaving, and though assigning a 
larger sphere to that, will still reserve a considerable field for 
themselves . 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Besides these, there are the arts which make tools and 
instruments of weaving, and which will claim at least to be 
cooperative causes in every work of the weaver. 

Y. Soc. Most true. 

Str. Well, then, suppose that we define weaving, or rather that part 
of it which has been selected by us, to be the greatest and noblest of 
arts which are concerned with woollen garments-shall we be right? Is 
not the definition, although true, wanting in clearness and 
completeness; for do not all those other arts require to be first 
cleared away? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Then the next thing will be to separate them, in order that the 
argument may proceed in a regular manner? 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. Let us consider, in the first place, that there are two kinds 
of arts entering into everything which we do. 

Y. Soc. What are they? 

Str. The one kind is the conditional or cooperative, the other the 
principal cause. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. The arts which do not manufacture the actual thing, but which 
furnish the necessary tools for the manufacture, without which the 
several arts could not fulfil their appointed work, are 
co-operative; but those which make the things themselves are causal. 

Y. Soc. A very reasonable distinction. 

Str. Thus the arts which make spindles, combs, and other instruments 
of the production of clothes may be called co-operative, and those 
which treat and fabricate the things themselves, causal. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. The arts of washing and mending, and the other preparatory arts 
which belong to the causal class, and form a division of the great art 
of adornment, may be all comprehended under what we call the 
fuller ' s art . 



Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Carding and spinning threads and all the parts of the process 
which are concerned with the actual manufacture of a woollen garment 
form a single art, which is one of thow universally acknowledged-the 
art of working in wool. 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. Of working in wool again, there are two divisions, and both 
these are parts of two arts at once. 

Y. Soc. How is that? 

Str. Carding and one half of the use of the comb, and the other 
processes of wool-working which separate the composite, may be classed 
together as belonging both to the art of woolworking, and also to 
one of the two great arts which are of universal application-the art 
of composition and the art of division. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. To the latter belong carding and the other processes of which I 
was just now speaking the art of discernment or division in wool and 
yarn, which is effected in one manner with the comb and in another 
with the hands, is variously described under all the names which I 
just now mentioned. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Again, let us take some process of woolworking which is also 
a portion of the art of composition, and, dismissing the elements of 
division which we found there, make two halves, one on the principle 
of composition, and the other on the principle of division. 

Y. Soc. Let that be done. 

Str. And once more, Socrates, we must divide the part which 
belongs at once both to woolworking and composition, if we are ever to 
discover satisfactorily the aforesaid art of weaving. 

Y. Soc. We must. 

Str. Yes, certainly, and let us call one part of the art the art 
of twisting threads, the other the art of combining them. 

Y. Soc. Do I understand you, in speaking of twisting, to be 
referring to manufacture of the warp? 

Str. Yes, and of the woof too; how, if not by twisting, is the 
woof made? 

Y. Soc. There is no other way. 

Str. Then suppose that you define the warp and the woof, for I think 
that the definition will be of use to you. 

Y. Soc. How shall I define them? 

Str. As thus: A piece of carded wool which is drawn out lengthwise 
and breadth-wise is said to be pulled out. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And the wool thus prepared when twisted by the spindle, and 
made into a firm thread, is called the warp, And the art which 
regulates these operations the art of spinning the warp. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And the threads which are more loosely spun, having a 
softness proportioned to the intertexture of the warp and to the 
degree of force used in dressing the cloth-the threads which are 
thus spun are called the woof, and the art which is set over them 
may be called the art of spinning the woof. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And, now, there can be no mistake about the nature of the 
part of weaving which we have undertaken to define. For when that part 
of the art of composition which is employed in the working of wool 
forms a web by the regular intertexture of warp and woof, the entire 
woven substance is called by us a woollen garment, and the art which 
presides over this is the art of weaving. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. But why did we not say at once that weaving is the art of 
entwining warp and woof, instead of making a long and useless circuit? 

Y. Soc. I thought, Stranger, that there was nothing useless in 
what was said. 



Str. Very likely, but you may not always think so, my sweet 
friend; and in case any feeling of dissatisfaction should hereafter 
arise in your mind, as it very well may, let me lay down a principle 
which will apply to arguments in general. 

Y. Soc. Proceed. 

Str. Let us begin by considering the whole nature of excess and 
defect, and then we shall have a rational ground on which we may 
praise or blame too much length or too much shortness in discussions 
of this kind. 

Y. Soc. Let us do so. 

Str. The points on which I think that we ought to dwell are the 
following : - 

Y. Soc. What? 
Str. Length and shortness, excess and defect; with all of these the 
art of measurement is conversant. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And the art of measurement has to be divided into two parts, 
with a view to our present purpose. 

Y. Soc. Where would you make the division? 

Str. As thus: I would make two parts, one having regard to the 
relativity of greatness and smallness to each other; and there is 
another, without which the existence of production would be 
impossible . 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. Do you not think that it is only natural for the greater to 
be called greater with reference to the less alone, and the less 
reference to the greater alone? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. Well, but is there not also something exceeding and exceeded by 
the principle of the mean, both in speech and action, and is not 
this a reality, and the chief mark of difference between good and 
bad men? 

Y. Soc. Plainly. 

Str. Then we must suppose that the great and small exist and are 
discerned in both these ways, and not, as we were saying before, 
only relatively to one another, but there must also be another 
comparison of them with the mean or ideal standard; would you like 
to hear the reason why? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. If we assume the greater to exist only in relation to the less, 
there will never be any comparison of either with the mean. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And would not this doctrine be the ruin of all the arts and 
their creations; would not the art of the Statesman and the 
aforesaid art of weaving disappear? For all these arts are on the 
watch against excess and defect, not as unrealities, but as real 
evils, which occasion a difficulty in action; and the excellence of 
beauty of every work of art is due to this observance of measure. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. But if the science of the Statesman disappears, the search 
for the royal science will be impossible. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Well, then, as in the case of the Sophist we extorted the 
inference that not-being had an existence, because here was the 
point at which the argument eluded our grasp, so in this we must 
endeavour to show that the greater and, less are not only to be 
measured with one another, but also have to do with the production 
of the mean; for if this is not admitted, neither a statesman nor 
any other man of action can be an undisputed master of his science. 

Y. Soc. Yes, we must certainly do again what we did then. 

Str. But this, Socrates, is a greater work than the other, of 
which we only too well remember the length. I think, however, that 
we may fairly assume something of this sort- 

Y. Soc. What? 



Str. That we shall some day require this notion of a mean with a 
view to the demonstration of absolute truth; meanwhile, the argument 
that the very existence of the arts must be held to depend on the 
possibility of measuring more or less, not only with one another, 
but also with a view to the attainment of the mean, seems to afford 
a grand support and satisfactory proof of the doctrine which we are 
maintaining; for if there are arts, there is a standard of measure, 
and if there is a standard of measure, there are arts; but if either 
is wanting, there is neither. 

Y. Soc. True; and what is the next step? 

Str. The next step clearly is to divide the art of measurement 
into two parts, all we have said already, and to place in the one part 
all the arts which measure number, length, depth, breadth, swiftness 
with their opposites; and to have another part in which they are 
measured with the mean, and the fit, and the opportune, and the due, 
and with all those words, in short, which denote a mean or standard 
removed from the extremes. 

Y. Soc. Here are two vast divisions, embracing two very different 
spheres . 

Str. There are many accomplished men, Socrates, who say, believing 
themselves to speak wisely, that the art of measurement is 
universal, and has to do with all things. And this means what we are 
now saying; for all things which come within the province of art do 
certainly in some sense partake of measure. But these persons, because 
they are not accustomed to distinguish classes according to real 
forms, jumble together two widely different things, relation to one 
another, and to a standard, under the idea that they are the same, and 
also fall into the converse error of dividing other things not 
according to their real parts. Whereas the right way is, if a man 
has first seen the unity of things, to go on with the enquiry and 
not desist until he has found all the differences contained in it 
which form distinct classes; nor again should he be able to rest 
contented with the manifold diversities which are seen in a 
multitude of things until he has comprehended all of them that have 
any affinity within the bounds of one similarity and embraced them 
within the reality of a single kind. But we have said enough on this 
head, and also of excess and defect; we have only to bear in mind that 
two divisions of the art of measurement have been discovered which are 
concerned with them, and not forget what they are. 

Y. Soc. We will not forget. 

Str. And now that this discussion is completed, let us go on to 
consider another question, which concerns not this argument only but 
the conduct of such arguments in general. 

Y. Soc. What is this new question? 

Str. Take the case of a child who is engaged in learning his 
letters: when he is asked what letters make up a word, should we say 
that the question is intended to improve his grammatical knowledge 
of that particular word, or of all words? 

Y. Soc. Clearly, in order that he may have a better knowledge of all 
words . 

Str. And is our enquiry about the Statesman intended only to improve 
our knowledge of politics, or our power of reasoning generally? 

Y. Soc. Clearly, as in the former example, the purpose is general. 

Str. Still less would any rational man seek to analyse the notion of 
weaving for its own sake. But people seem to forget that some things 
have sensible images, which are readily known, and can be easily 
pointed out when any one desires to answer an enquirer without any 
trouble or argument; whereas the greatest and highest truths have no 
outward image of themselves visible to man, which he who wishes to 
satisfy the soul of the enquirer can adapt to the eye of sense, and 
therefore we ought to train ourselves to give and accept a rational 
account of them; for immaterial things, which are the noblest and 
greatest, are shown only in thought and idea, and in no other way, and 
all that we are now saying is said for the sake of them. Moreover, 



there is always less difficulty in fixing the mind on small matters 
than on great . 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Let us call to mind the bearing of all this. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. I wanted to get rid of any impression of tediousness which we 
may have experienced in the discussion about weaving, and the reversal 
of the universe, and in the discussion concerning the Sophist and 
the being of not-being. I know that they were felt to be too long, and 
I reproached myself with this, fearing that they might be not only 
tedious but irrelevant; and all that I have now said is only 
designed to prevent the recurrence of any such disagreeables for the 
future . 

Y. Soc. Very good. Will you proceed? 

Str. Then I would like to observe that you and I, remembering what 
has been said, should praise or blame the length or shortness of 
discussions, not by comparing them with one another, but with what 
is fitting, having regard to the part of measurement, which, as we 
said, was to be borne in mind. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And yet, not everything is to be judged even with a view to 
what is fitting; for we should only want such a length as is suited to 
give pleasure, if at all, as a secondary matter; and reason tells 
us, that we should be contented to make the ease or rapidity of an 
enquiry, not our first, but our second object; the first and highest 
of all being to assert the great method of division according to 
species-whether the discourse be shorter or longer is not to the 
point. No offence should be taken at length, but the longer and 
shorter are to be employed indifferently, according as either of 
them is better calculated to sharpen the wits of the auditors. 
Reason would also say to him who censures the length of discourses 
on such occasions and cannot away with their circumlocution, that he 
should not be in such a hurry to have done with them, when he can only 
complain that they are tedious, but he should prove that if they had 
been shorter they would have made those who took part in them better 
dialecticians, and more capable of expressing the truth of things; 
about any other praise and blame, he need not trouble himself-he 
should pretend not to hear them. But we have had enough of this, as 
you will probably agree with me in thinking. Let us return to our 
Statesman, and apply to his case the aforesaid example of weaving. 

Y. Soc. Very good;-let us do as you say. 

Str. The art of the king has been separated from the similar arts of 
shepherds, and, indeed, from all those which have to do with herds 
at all. There still remain, however, of the causal and co-operative 
arts those which are immediately concerned with States, and which must 
first be distinguished from one another. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. You know that these arts cannot easily be divided into two 
halves; the reason will be very: evident as we proceed. 

Y. Soc. Then we had better do so. 

Str. We must carve them like a victim into members or limbs, since 
we cannot bisect them. For we certainly should divide everything 
into as few parts as possible. 

Y. Soc. What is to be done in this case? 

Str. What we did in the example of weaving-all those arts which 
furnish the tools were regarded by us as co-operative. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. So now, and with still more reason, all arts which make any 
implement in a State, whether great or small, may be regarded by us as 
co-operative, for without them neither State nor Statesmanship would 
be possible; and yet we are not inclined to say that any of them is 
a product of the kingly art. 

Y. Soc. No, indeed. 

Str. The task of separating this class from others is not an easy 



one; for there is plausibility in saying that anything in the world is 
the instrument of doing something. But there is another dass of 
possessions in, a city, of which I have a word to say. 

Y. Soc. What class do you mean? 

Str. A class which may be described as not having this power; that 
is to say, not like an instrument, framed for production, but designed 
for the preservation of that which is produced. 

Y. Soc. To what do you refer? 

Str. To the class of vessels, as they are comprehensively termed, 
which are constructed for the preservation of things moist and dry, of 
things prepared in the fire or out of the fire; this is a very large 
class, and has, if I am not mistaken, literally nothing to do with the 
royal art of which we are in search. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. There is also a third class of possessions to be noted, 
different from these and very extensive, moving or resting on land 
or water, honourable and also dishonourable. The whole of this class 
has one name, because it is intended to be sat upon, being always a 
seat for something. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. A vehicle, which is certainly not the work of the Statesman, 
but of the carpenter, potter, and coppersmith. 

Y. Soc. I understand. 

Str. And is there not a fourth class which is again different, and 
in which most of the things formerly mentioned are contained-every 
kind of dress, most sorts of arms, walls and enclosures, whether of 
earth or stone, and ten thousand other thing? all of which being 
made for the sake of defence, may be truly called defences, and are 
for the most part to be regarded as the work of the builder or of 
the weaver, rather than of the Statesman. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Shall we add a fifth class, of ornamentation and drawing, and 
of the imitations produced, by drawing and music, which are designed 
for amusement only, and may be fairly comprehended under one name? 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. Plaything is the name. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. That one name may be fitly predicated of all of them, for 
none of these things have a serious purpose-amusement is their sole 
aim . 

Y. Soc. That again I understand. 

Str. Then there is a class which provides materials for all these, 
out of which and in which the arts already mentioned fabricate their 
works; -this manifold class, I say, which is the creation and offspring 
of many other arts, may I not rank sixth? 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I am referring to gold, silver, and other metals, and all 
that wood-cutting and shearing of every sort provides for the art of 
carpentry and plaiting; and there is the process of barking and 
stripping the cuticle of plants, and the currier's art, which strips 
off the skins of animals, and other similar arts which manufacture 
corks and papyri and cords, and provide for the manufacture of 
composite species out of simple kinds-the whole class may be termed 
the primitive and simple possession of man, and with this the kingly 
science has no concern at all. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. The provision of food and of all other things which mingle 
their particles with the particles of the human body; and minister 
to the body, will form a seventh class, which may be called by the 
general term of nourishment, unless you have any better name to offer. 
This, however, appertains rather to the husbandman, huntsman, trainer, 
doctor, cook, and is not to be assigned to the Statesman's art. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. These seven classes include nearly every description of 



property, with the exception of tame animals. Consider ; -there was 
the original material, which ought to have been placed first; next 
come instruments, vessels, vehicles, defences, playthings, 
nourishment; small things, which may be-included under one of these-as 
for example, coins, seals and stamps, are omitted, for they have not 
in them the character of any larger kind which includes them; but some 
of them may, with a little forcing, be placed among ornaments, and 
others may be made to harmonize with the class of implements. The 
art of herding, which has been already divided into parts, will 
include all property in tame animals except slaves. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. The class of slaves and ministers only remains, and I suspect 
that in this the real aspirants for the throne, who are the rivals 
of the king in the formation of the political web, will be discovered; 
just as spinners, carders, and the rest of them, were the rivals of 
the weaver. All the others, who were termed co-operators, have been 
got rid of among the occupations already mentioned, and separated from 
the royal and political science. 

Y. Soc. I agree. 

Str. Let us go a little nearer, in order that we may be more certain 
of the complexion of this remaining class. 

Y. Soc. Let us do so. 

Str. We shall find from our present point of view that the 
greatest servants are in a case and condition which is the reverse 
of what we anticipated. 

Y. Soc. Who are they? 

Str. Those who have been purchased, and have so become 
possessions; these are unmistakably slaves, and certainly do not claim 
royal science. 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. Again, freemen who of their own accord become the servants of 
the other classes in a State, and who exchange and equalise the 
products of husbandry and the other arts, some sitting in the 
market-place, others going from city to city by land or sea, and 
giving money in exchange for money or for other productions-the 
money-changer, the merchant, the ship-owner, the retailer, will not 
put in any claim to statecraft or politics? 

Y. Soc. No; unless, indeed, to the politics of commerce. 

Str. But surely men whom we see acting as hirelings and serfs, and 
too happy to turn their hand to anything, will not profess to share in 
royal science? 

Y. Soc. Certainly not. 

Str. But what would you say of some other serviceable officials? 

Y. Soc. Who are they, and what services do they perform? 

Str. There are heralds, and scribes perfected by practice, and 
divers others who have great skill in various sorts of business 
connected with the government of states-what shall we call them? 

Y. Soc. They are the officials, and servants of the rulers, as you 
just now called them, but not themselves rulers. 

Str. There may be something strange in any servant pretending to 
be a ruler, and yet I do not think that I could have been dreaming 
when I imagined that the principal claimants to political science 
would be found somewhere in this neighbourhood. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Well, let us draw nearer, and try the claims of some who have 
not yet been tested; in the first place, there are diviners, who 
have a portion of servile or ministerial science, and are thought to 
be the interpreters of the gods to men. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. There is also the priestly class, who, as the law declares, 
know how to give the gods gifts from men in the form of sacrifices 
which are acceptable to them, and to ask on our behalf blessings in 
return from them. Now both these are branches of the servile or 
ministerial art. 



Y. Soc. Yes, clearly. 

Str. And here I think that we seem to be getting on the right track; 
for the priest and the diviner are swollen with pride and prerogative, 
and they create an awful impression of themselves by the magnitude 
of their enterprises; in Egypt, the king himself is not allowed to 
reign, unless he have priestly powers, and if he should be of 
another class and has thrust himself in, he must get enrolled in the 
priesthood. In many parts of Hellas, the duty of offering the most 
solemn propitiatory sacrifices is assigned to the highest 
magistracies, and here, at Athens, the most solemn and national of the 
ancient sacrifices are supposed to be celebrated by him who has been 
chosen by lot to be the King Archon. 

Y. Soc. Precisely. 

Str. But who are these other kings and priests elected by lot who 
now come into view followed by their retainers and a vast throng, as 
the former class disappears and the scene changes? 

Y. Soc. Whom can you mean? 

Str. They are a strange crew. 

Y. Soc. Why strange? 

Str. A minute ago I thought that they were animals of every tribe; 
for many of them are like lions and centaurs, and many more like 
satyrs and such weak and shifty creatures ; -Protean shapes quickly 
changing into one another's forms and natures; and now, Socrates, I 
begin to see who they are. 

Y. Soc. Who are they? You seem to be gazing on some strange vision. 

Str. Yes; every one looks strange when you do not know him; and just 
now I myself fell into this mistake-at first sight, coming suddenly 
upon him, I did not recognize the politician and his troop. 

Y. Soc. Who is he? 

Str. The chief of Sophists and most accomplished of wizards, who 
must at any cost be separated from the true king or Statesman, if we 
are ever to see daylight in the present enquiry. 

Y. Soc. That is a hope not lightly to be renounced. 

Str. Never, if I can help it; and, first, let me ask you a question. 

Y. Soc. What? 

Str. Is not monarchy a recognized form of government? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And, after monarchy, next in order comes the government of 
the few? 

Y. Soc. Of course. 

Str. Is not the third form of government the rule of the 
multitude, which is called by the name of democracy? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And do not these three expand in a manner into five, 
producing out of themselves two other names Y. Soc. What are they? 

Y. Soc. What are they? 

Str. There is a criterion of voluntary and involuntary, poverty 
and riches, law and the absence of law, which men now-a-days apply 
to them; the two first they subdivide accordingly, and ascribe to 
monarchy two forms and two corresponding names, royalty and tyranny. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And the government of the few they distinguish by the names 
of aristocracy and oligarchy. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Democracy alone, whether rigidly observing the laws or not, and 
whether the multitude rule over the men of property with their consent 
or against their consent, always in ordinary language has the same 
name . 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But do you suppose that any form of government which is defined 
by these characteristics of the one, the few, or the many, of 
poverty or wealth, of voluntary or compulsory submission, of written 
law or the absence of law, can be a right one? 

Y. Soc. Why not? 



Str. Reflect; and follow me. 

Y. Soc. In what direction? 

Str. Shall we abide by what we said at first, or shall we retract 
our words? 

Y. Soc. To what do you refer? 

Str. If I am not mistaken, we said that royal power was a science? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And a science of a peculiar kind, which was selected out of the 
rest as having a character which is at once judicial and 
authoritative? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And there was one kind of authority over lifeless things and 
another other living animals; and so we proceeded in the division step 
by step up to this point, not losing the idea of science, but unable 
as yet to determine the nature of the particular science? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Hence we are led to observe that the distinguishing principle 
of the State cannot be the few or many, the voluntary or 
involuntary, poverty or riches; but some notion of science must 
enter into it, if we are to be consistent with what has preceded. 

Y. Soc. And we must be consistent. 

Str. Well, then, in which of these various forms of States may the 
science of government, which is among the greatest of all sciences and 
most difficult to acquire, be supposed to reside? That we must 
discover, and then we shall see who are the false politicians who 
pretend to be politicians but are not, although they persuade many, 
and shall separate them from the wise king. 

Y. Soc. That, as the argument has already intimated, will be our 
duty . 

Str. Do you think that the multitude in a State can attain political 
science? 

Y. Soc. Impossible. 

Str. But, perhaps, in a city of a thousand men, there would be a 
hundred, or say fifty, who could? 

Y. Soc. In that case political science would certainly be the 
easiest of all sciences; there could not be found in a city of that 
number as many really first-rate draught-players, if judged by the 
standard of the rest of Hellas, and there would certainly not be as 
many kings. For kings we may truly call those who possess royal 
science, whether they rule or not, as was shown in the previous 
argument . 

Str. Thank you for reminding me; and the consequence is that any 
true form of government can only be supposed to be the government of 
one, two, or, at any rate, of a few. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And these, whether they rule with the will, or against the will 
of their subjects, with written laws or. without written laws, and 
whether they are poor or rich, and whatever be the nature of their 
rule, must be supposed, according to our present view, to rule on some 
scientific principle; just as the physician, whether he cures us 
against our will or with our will, and whatever be his mode of 
treatment-incision, burning, or the infliction of some other 
pain-whether he practises out of a book or not out of a book, and 
whether he be rich or poor, whether he purges or reduces in some other 
way, or even fattens his patients, is a physician all the same, so 
long as he exercises authority over them according to rules of art, if 
he only does them good and heals and saves them. And this we lay 
down to be the only proper test of the art of medicine, or of any 
other art of command. 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. Then that can be the only true form of government in which 
the governors are really found to possess science, and are not mere 
pretenders, whether they rule according to law or without law, 
over-willing or unwilling subjects, and are rich or poor 



themselves-none of these things can with any propriety be included 
in the notion of the ruler. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And whether with a view to the public good they purge the State 
by killing some, or exiling some; whether they reduce the size of 
the body corporate by sending out from the hive swarms of citizens, 
or, by introducing persons from without, increase it; while they act 
according to the rules of wisdom and justice, and use their power with 
a view to the general security and improvement, the city over which 
they rule, and which has these characteristics, may be described as 
the only true State. All other governments are not genuine or real; 
but only imitations of this, and some of them are better and some of 
them are worse; the better are said to be well governed, but they 
are mere imitations like the others. 

Y. Soc. I agree, Stranger, in the greater part of what you say; 
but as to their ruling without laws-the expression has a harsh sound. 

Str. You have been too quick for me, Socrates; I was just going to 
ask you whether you objected to any of my statements. And now I see 
that we shall have to consider this notion of there being good 
government without laws . 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. There can be no doubt that legislation is in a manner the 
business of a king, and yet the best thing of all is not that the 
law should rule, but that a man should rule, supposing him to have 
wisdom and royal power. Do you see why this is? 

Y. Soc. Why? 

Str. Because the law does not perfectly comprehend what is noblest 
and most just for all and therefore cannot enforce what is best. The 
differences of men and actions, and the endless irregular movements of 
human things, do not admit of -any universal and simple rule. And no 
art whatsoever can lay down a rule which will last for all time. 

Y. Soc. Of course not. 

Str. But the law is always striving to make one; -like an obstinate 
and ignorant tyrant, who will not allow anything to be done contrary 
to his appointment, or any question to be asked-not even in sudden 
changes of circumstances, when something happens to be better than 
what he commanded for some one. 

Y. Soc. Certainly; the law treats us all precisely in the manner 
which you describe. 

Str. A perfectly simple principle can never be applied to a state of 
things which is the reverse of simple. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Then if the law is not the perfection of right, why are we 
compelled to make laws at all? The reason of this has next to be 
investigated . 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Let me ask, whether you have not meetings for gymnastic 
contests in your city, such as there are in other cities, at which men 
compete in running, wrestling, and the like? 

Y. Soc. Yes; they are very common among us. 

Str. And what are the rules which are enforced on their pupils by 
professional trainers or by others having similar authority? Can you 
remember? 

Y. Soc. To what do you refer? 

Str. The training-masters do not issue minute rules for individuals, 
or give every individual what is exactly suited to his constitution; 
they think that they ought to go more roughly to work, and to 
prescribe generally the regimen, which will benefit the majority. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And therefore they assign equal amounts of exercise to them 
all; they send them forth together, and let them rest together from 
their running, wrestling, or whatever the form of bodily exercise 
may be . 

Y. So True. 



Str. And now observe that the legislator who has to preside over the 
herd, and to enforce justice in their dealings with one another, 
will not be able, in enacting for the general good, to provide exactly 
what is suitable for each particular case. 

Y. Soc. He cannot be expected to do so. 

Str. He will lay down laws in a general form for the majority, 
roughly meeting the cases of individuals; and some of them he will 
deliver in writing, and others will be unwritten; and these last 
will be traditional customs of the country. 

Y. Soc. He will be right. 

Str. Yes, quite right; for how can he sit at every man's side all 
through his life, prescribing for him the exact particulars of his 
duty? Who, Socrates, would be equal to such a task? No one who 
really had the royal science, if he had been able to do this, would 
have imposed upon himself the restriction of a written law. 

Y. Soc. So I should infer from what has now been said. 

Str. Or rather, my good friend, from what is going to be said. 

Y. Soc. And what is that? 

Str. Let us put to ourselves the case of a physician, or trainer, 
who is about to go into a far country, and is expecting to be a long 
time away from his patients-thinking that his instructions will not be 
remembered unless they are written down, he will leave notes of them 
for the use of his pupils or patients. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. But what would you say, if he came back sooner than he had 
intended, and, owing to an unexpected change of the winds or other 
celestial influences, something else happened to be better for 
them-would he not venture to suggest this new remedy, although not 
contemplated in his former prescription? Would he persist in observing 
the original law, neither himself giving any few commandments, nor the 
patient daring to do otherwise than was prescribed, under the idea 
that this course only was healthy and medicinal, all others noxious 
and heterodox? Viewed in the light of science and true art, would 
not all such enactments be utterly ridiculous? 

Y. Soc. Utterly. 

Str. And if he who gave laws, written or unwritten, determining what 
was good or bad, honourable or dishonourable, just or unjust, to the 
tribes of men who flock together in their several cities, and are 
governed accordance with them; if, I say, the wise legislator were 
suddenly to come again, or another like to him, is he to be prohibited 
from changing them?-would not this prohibition be in reality quite 
as ridiculous as the other? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Do you know a plausible saying of the common people which is in 
point? 

Y. Soc. I do not recall what you mean at the moment. 

Str. They say that if any one knows how the ancient laws may be 
improved, he must first persuade his own State of the improvement, and 
then he may legislate, but not otherwise. 

Y. Soc. And are they not right? 

Str. I dare say. But supposing that he does use some gentle violence 
for their good, what is this violence to be called? Or rather, 
before you answer, let me ask the same question in reference to our 
previous instances . 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. Suppose that a skilful physician has a patient, of whatever sex 
or age, whom he compels against his will to do something for his 
good which is contrary to the written rules; what is this compulsion 
to be called? Would you ever dream of calling it a violation of the 
art, or a breach of the laws of health? Nothing could be more unjust 
than for the patient to whom such violence is applied, to charge the 
physician who practises the violence with wanting skill or aggravating 
his disease. 

Y. Soc. Most true. 



Str. In the political art error is not called disease, but evil, 
or disgrace, or injustice. 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. And when the citizen, contrary to law and custom, is 
compelled to do what is juster and better and nobler than he did 
before, the last and most absurd thing which he could say about such 
violence is that he has incurred disgrace or evil or injustice at 
the hands of those who compelled him. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. And shall we say that the violence, if exercised by a rich man, 
is just, and if by a poor man, unjust? May not any man, rich or 
poor, with or without laws, with the will of the citizens or against 
the will of the citizens, do what is for their interest? Is not this 
the true principle of government, according to which the wise and good 
man will order the affairs of his subjects? As the pilot, by 
watching continually over the interests of the ship and of the 
crew-not by laying down rules, but by making his art a law-preserves 
the lives of his fellow-sailors, even and in the self-same way, may 
there not be a true form of polity created by those who are able to 
govern in a similar spirit, and who show a strength of art which is 
superior to the law? Nor can wise rulers ever err while they, 
observing the one great rule of distributing justice to the citizens 
with intelligence and skill, are able to preserve them, and, as far as 
may be, to make them better from being worse. 

Y. Soc. No one can deny what has been now said. 

Str. Neither, if you consider, can any one deny the other statement. 

Y. Soc. What was it? 

Str. We said that no great number of persons, whoever they may be, 
can attain political knowledge, or order a State wisely, but that 
the true government is to be found in a small body, or in an 
individual, and that other States are but imitations of this, as we 
said a little while ago, some for the better and some for the worse. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? I cannot have understood your previous 
remark about imitations . 

Str. And yet the mere suggestion which I hastily threw out is highly 
important, even if we leave the question where it is, and do not 
seek by the discussion of it to expose the error which prevails in 
this matter. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. The idea which has to be grasped by us is not easy or familiar; 
but we may attempt to express it thus : -Supposing the government of 
which I have been speaking to be the only true model, then the 
others must use the written laws of this-in no other can they be 
saved; they will have to do what is now generally approved, although 
not the best thing in the world. 

Y. Soc. What is this? 

Str. No citizen should do anything contrary to the laws, and any 
infringement of them should be punished with death and the most 
extreme penalties; and this is very right and good when regarded as 
the second best thing, if you set aside the first, of which I was just 
now speaking. Shall I explain the nature of what call the second best? 

Y. Soc. By all means. 

Str. I must again have recourse to my favourite images; through 
them, and them alone, can I describe kings and rulers. 

Y. Soc. What images? 

Str. The noble pilot and the wise physician, who "is worth many 
another man"-in the similitude of these let us endeavour to discover 
some image of the king. 

Y. Soc. What sort of image? 

Str. Well, such as this: -Every man will reflect that he suffers 
strange things at the hands of both of them; the physician; saves 
any whom he wishes to save, and any whom he wishes to maltreat he 
maltreats-cutting or burning them; and at the same time requiring them 
to bring him patients, which are a sort of tribute, of which little or 



nothing is spent upon the sick man, and the greater part is consumed 
by him and his domestics; and the finale is that he receives money 
from the relations of the sick man or from some enemy of his; and puts 
him out of the way. And the pilots of ships are guilty, of 
numberless evil deeds of the same kind; they intentionally play 
false and leave you ashore when the hour of sailing arrives; or they 
cause mishaps at sea and cast away their freight; and are guilty of 
other rogueries. Now suppose that we, bearing all this in mind, were 
to determine, after consideration, that neither of these arts shall 
any longer be allowed to exercise absolute control either over freemen 
or over slaves, but that we will summon an assembly either of all 
the people, or of the rich only, that anybody who likes, whatever 
may be his calling, or even if he have no calling, may offer an 
opinion either about seamanship or about diseases-whether as to the 
manner in which physic or surgical instruments are to be applied to 
the patient, or again about the vessels and the nautical implements 
which are required in navigation, and how to meet the dangers of winds 
and waves which are incidental to the voyage, how to behave when 
encountering pirates, and what is to be done with the old fashioned 
galleys, if they have to fight with others of a similar build-and 
that, whatever shall be decreed by the multitude on these points, upon 
the advice of persons skilled or unskilled, shall be written down on 
triangular tablets and columns, or enacted although unwritten to be 
national customs; and that in all future time vessels shall be 
navigated and remedies administered to the patient after this fashion. 

Y. Soc. What a strange notion! 

Str. Suppose further, that the pilots and physicians are appointed 
annually, either out of the rich, or out of the whole people, and that 
they are elected by lot; and that after their election they navigate 
vessels and heal the sick according to the written rules. 

Y. Soc. Worse and worse. 

Str. But hear what follows : -When the year of office has expired, the 
pilot or physician has to come before a court of review, in which 
the judges are either selected from the wealthy classes or chosen by 
lot out of the whole people; and anybody who pleases may be their 
accuser, and may lay to their charge, that during the past year they 
have not navigated their vessels or healed their patients according to 
the letter of the law and the ancient customs of their ancestors; 
and if either of them is condemned, some of the judges must fix what 
he is to suffer or pay. 

Y. Soc. He who is willing to take a command under such conditions, 
deserves to suffer any penalty. 

Str. Yet once more, we shall have to enact that if any one is 
detected enquiring into piloting and navigation, or into health and 
the true nature of medicine, or about the winds, or other conditions 
of the atmosphere, contrary to the written rules, and has any 
ingenious notions about such matters, he is not to be called a pilot 
or physician, but a cloudy prating sophist ; -further , on the ground 
that he is a corrupter of the young, who would persuade them, to 
follow the art of medicine or piloting in an unlawful manner, and to 
exercise an arbitrary rule over their patients or ships, any one who 
is qualified by law may inform against him, and indict him in some 
court, and then if he is found to be persuading any, whether young 
or old, to act contrary to the written law, he is to be punished 
with the utmost rigour; for no one should presume to be wiser than the 
laws; and as touching healing and health and piloting and 
navigation, the nature of them is known to all, for anybody may 
learn the written laws and the national customs. If such were the mode 
of procedure, Socrates, about these sciences and about generalship, 
and any branch of hunting, or about painting or imitation in 
general, or carpentry, or any sort of handicraft, or husbandry, or 
planting, or if we were to see an art of rearing horses, or tending 
herds, or divination, or any ministerial service, or 
draught-playing, or any science conversant with number, whether simple 



or square or cube, or comprising motion-I say, if all these things 
were done in this way according to written regulations, and not 
according to art, what would be the result? 

Y. Soc. All the arts would utterly perish, and could never be 
recovered, because enquiry would be unlawful. And human life, which is 
bad enough already, would then become utterly unendurable. 

Str. But what, if while compelling all these operations to be 
regulated by written law, we were to appoint as the guardian of the 
laws some one elected by a show of hands, or by lot, and he caring 
nothing about the laws, were to act contrary to them from motives of 
interest or favour, and without knowledge-would not this be a still 
worse evil than the former? 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. To go against the laws, which are based upon long experience, 
and the wisdom of counsellors who have graciously recommended them and 
persuaded the multitude to pass them, would be a far greater and 
more ruinous error than any adherence to written law? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. Therefore, as there is a danger of this, the next best thing in 
legislating is not to allow either the individual or the multitude 
to break the law in any respect whatever. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. The laws would be copies of the true particulars of action as 
far as they admit of being written down from the lips of those who 
have knowledge? 

Y. Soc. Certainly they would. 

Str. And, as we were saying, he who has knowledge and is a true 
Statesman, will do many things within his own sphere of action by 
his art without regard to the laws, when he is of opinion that 
something other than that which he has written down and enjoined to be 
observed during his absence would be better. 

Y. Soc. Yes, we said so. 

Str. And any individual or any number of men, having fixed laws, 
in acting contrary to them with a view to something better, would only 
be acting, as far as they are able, like the true Statesman? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. If they had no knowledge of what they were doing, they would 
imitate the truth, and they would always imitate ill; but if they 
had knowledge, the imitation would be the perfect truth, and an 
imitation no longer. 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. And the principle that no great number of men are able to 
acquire a knowledge of any art has been already admitted by us. 

Y. Soc. Yes, it has. 

Str. Then the royal or political art, if there be such an art, 
will never be attained either by the wealthy or by the other mob. 

Y. Soc. Impossible. 

Str. Then the nearest approach which these lower forms of government 
can ever make to the true government of the one scientific ruler, is 
to do nothing contrary to their own written laws and national customs. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. When the rich imitate the true form, such a government is 
called aristocracy; and when they are regardless of the laws, 
oligarchy . 

Y Soc. True. 

Str. Or again, when an individual rules according to law in 
imitation of him who knows, we call him a king; and if he rules 
according to law, we give him the same name, whether he rules with 
opinion or with knowledge. 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. And when an individual truly possessing knowledge rules, his 
name will surely be the same-he will be called a king; and thus the 
five names of governments, as they are now reckoned, become one. 

Y. Soc. That is true. 



Str. And when an individual ruler governs neither by law nor by 
custom, but following in the steps of the true man of science pretends 
that he can only act for the best by violating the laws, while in 
reality appetite and ignorance are the motives of the imitation, may 
not such an one be called a tyrant? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And this we believe to be the origin of the tyrant and the 
king, of oligarchies, and aristocracies, and democracies-because men 
are offended at the one monarch, and can never be made to believe that 
any one can be worthy of such authority, or is able and willing in the 
spirit of virtue and knowledge to act justly and holily to all; they 
fancy that he will be a despot who will wrong and harm and slay whom 
he pleases of us; for if there could be such a despot as we 
describe, they would acknowledge that we ought to be too glad to 
have him, and that he alone would be the happy ruler of a true and 
perfect State. 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. But then, as the State is not like a beehive, and has no 
natural head who is at once recognized to be the superior both in body 
and in mind, mankind are obliged to meet and make laws, and 
endeavour to approach as nearly as they can to the true form of 
government . 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And when the foundation of politics is in the letter only and 
in custom, and knowledge is divorced from action, can we wonder 
Socrates, at the miseries which there are, and always will be, in 
States? Any other art, built on such a foundation and thus 
conducted, would ruin all that it touched. Ought we not rather to 
wonder at the natural strength of the political bond? For States 
have endured all this, time out of mind, and yet some of them still 
remain and are not overthrown, though many of them, like ships at sea, 
founder from time to time, and perish, and have perished and will hire 
after perish, through the badness of their pilots and crews, who 
have the worst sort of ignorance of the highest truths-I mean to 
say, that they are wholly unaquainted with politics, of which, above 
all other sciences, they believe themselves to have acquired the 
most perfect knowledge. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Then the question arises : -which of these untrue forms of 
government is the least oppressive to their subjects, though they 
are all oppressive; and which is the worst of them? Here is a 
consideration which is beside our present purpose, and yet having 
regard to the whole it seems to influence all our actions: we must 
examine it. 

Y. Soc. Yes, we must. 

Str. You may say that of the three forms, the same is at once the 
hardest and the easiest. 

Y. Soc. What do you mean? 

Str. I am speaking of the three forms of government, which I 
mentioned at the beginning of this discussion-monarchy, the rule of 
the few, and the rule of the many. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. If we divide each of these we shall have six, from which the 
true one may be distinguished as a seventh. 

Y. Soc. How would you make the division? 

Str. Monarchy divides into royalty and tyranny; the rule of the 
few into aristocracy, which has an auspicious name, and oligarchy; and 
democracy or the rule of the many, which before was one, must now be 
divided. 

Y. Soc. On what principle of division? 

Str. On the same principle as before, although the name is now 
discovered to have a twofold meaning; -For the distinction of ruling 
with law or without applies to this as well as to the rest. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 



Str. The division made no difference when we were looking for the 
perfect State, as we showed before. But now that this has been 
separated off, and, as we said, the others alone are left for us, 
the principle of law and the absence of law will bisect them all. 

Y. Soc. That would seem follow, from what has been said. 

Str. Then monarchy, when bound by good prescriptions or laws, is the 
best of all the six, and when lawless is the most bitter and 
oppressive to the subject. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. The government of the few which is intermediate between that of 
the one and many; is also intermediate in good and evil; but the 
government of the many is in every respect weak and unable to do 
either any great good or any great evil, when compared with the 
others, because the offices are too minutely subdivided and too many 
hold them. And this therefore is the worst of all lawful 
governments, and the best of all lawless ones. If they are all without 
the restraints of law, democracy is the form in which to live is best; 
if they are well ordered then this is the last which you should 
choose, as royalty, the first form, is the best, with the exception of 
the seventh for that excels them all, and is among States what God 
is among men. 

Y. Soc. You are quite right, and we should choose that above all. 

Str. The members of all these States, with the exception of the 
one which has knowledge may be set aside as being not Statesmen but 
partisans-upholders of the most monstrous idols, and themselves idols; 
and, being the greatest imitators and magicians, they are also the 
greatest of Sophists. 

Y. Soc. The name of Sophist after many windings in the argument 
appears to have been most justly fixed upon the politicians, as they 
are termed. 

Str. And so our satyric drama has been played out; and the troop 
of Centaurs and Satyrs, however unwilling to leave the stage, have 
at last been separated from the political science. 

Y. Soc. So I perceive. 

Str. There remain, however, natures still more troublesome, 
because they are more nearly akin to the king, and more difficult to 
discern; the examination of them may be compared to the process of 
refining gold. 

Y. Soc. What is your meaning? 

Str. The workmen begin by sifting away the earth and stones and 
the like; there remain in a confused mass the valuable elements akin 
to gold, which can only be separated by fire-copper, silver, and other 
precious metals; these are at last refined away by the use of tests, 
until the gold is left quite pure. 

Y. Soc. Yes, that is the way in which these things are said to be 
done . 

Str. In like manner, all alien and uncongenial matter has been 
separated from political science, and what is precious and of a 
kindred nature has been left; there remain the nobler arts of the 
general and the judge, and the higher sort of oratory which is an ally 
of the royal art, and persuades men to do justice, and assists in 
guiding the helm of States: -How can we best clear away all these, 
leaving him whom we seek alone and unalloyed? 

Y. Soc. That is obviously what has in some way to be attempted. 

Str. If the attempt is all that is wanting, he shall certainly be 
brought to light; and I think that the illustration of music may 
assist in exhibiting him. Please to answer me a question. 

Y. Soc. What question? 

Str. There is such a thing as learning music or handicraft arts in 
general? 

Y . Soc . There is . 

Str. And is there any higher art or science, having power to 
decide which of these arts are and are not to be learned; -what do 
you say? 



Y. Soc. I should answer that there is. 

Str. And do we acknowledge this science to be different from the 
others? 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. And ought the other sciences to be superior to this, or no 
single science to any other? Or ought this science to be the 
overseer and governor of all the others? 

Y. Soc. The latter. 

Str. You mean to say that the science which judges whether we 
ought to learn or not, must be superior to the science which is 
learned or which teaches? 

Y. Soc. Far superior. 

Str. And the science which determines whether we ought to persuade 
or not, must be superior to the science which is able to persuade? 

Y. Soc. Of course. 

Str. Very good; and to what science do we assign the power of 
persuading a multitude by a pleasing tale and not by teaching? 

Y. Soc. That power, I think, must clearly be assigned to rhetoric. 

Str. And to what science do we give the power of determining whether 
we are to employ persuasion or force towards any one, or to refrain 
altogether? 

Y. Soc. To that science which governs the arts of speech and 
persuasion . 

Str. Which, if I am not mistaken, will be politics? 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Rhetoric seems to be quickly distinguished from politics, being 
a different species, yet ministering to it. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. But what would you think of another sort of power or science? 

Y. Soc. What science? 

Str. The science which has to do with military operations against 
our enemies-is that to be regarded as a science or not? 

Y. Soc. How can generalship and military tactics be regarded as 
other than a science? 

Str. And is the art which is able and knows how to advise when we 
are to go to war, or to make peace, the same as this or different? 

Y. Soc. If we are to be consistent, we must say different. 

Str. And we must also suppose that this rules the other, if we are 
not to give up our former notion? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And, considering how great and terrible the whole art of war 
is, can we imagine any which is superior to it but the truly royal? 

Y. Soc. No other. 

Str. The art of the general is only ministerial, and therefore not 
political? 

Y. Soc. Exactly. 

Str. Once more let us consider the nature of the righteous judge. 

Y. Soc. Very good. 

Str. Does he do anything but decide the dealings of men with one 
another to be just or unjust in accordance with the standard which 
he receives from the king and legislator-showing his own peculiar 
virtue only in this, that he is not perverted by gifts, or fears, or 
pity, or by any sort of favour or enmity, into deciding the suits of 
men with one another contrary to the appointment of the legislator? 

Y. Soc. No; his office is such as you describe. 

Str. Then the inference is that the power of the judge is not royal, 
but only the power of a guardian of the law which ministers to the 
royal power? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. The review of all these sciences shows that none of them is 
political or royal. For the truly royal ought not itself to act, but 
to rule over those who are able to act; the king ought to know what is 
and what is not a fitting opportunity for taking the initiative in 
matters of the greatest importance, whilst others, should execute 



his orders . 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And, therefore, the arts which we have described, as they 
have no authority over themselves or one another, but are each of them 
concerned with some special action of their own, have, as they ought 
to have, special names corresponding to their several actions. 

Y. Soc. I agree. 

Str. And the science which is over them all, and has charge of the 
laws, and of all matters affecting the State, and truly weaves them 
all into one, if we would describe under a name characteristic of 
their common nature, most truly we may call politics. 

Y. Soc. Exactly so. 

Str. Then, now that we have discovered the various classes in a 
State, shall I analyse politics after the pattern which weaving 
supplied? 

Y. Soc. I greatly wish that you would. 

Str. Then I must describe the nature of the royal web, and show 
how the various threads are woven into one piece. 

Y. Soc. Clearly. 

Str. A task has to be accomplished, which although difficult, 
appears to be necessary. 

Y. Soc. Certainly the attempt must be made. 

Str. To assume that one part of virtue differs in kind from another, 
is a position easily assailable by contentious disputants, who 
appeal to popular opinion. 

Y. Soc. I do not understand. 

Str. Let me put the matter in another way: I suppose that you 
would consider courage to be a part of virtue? 

Y. Soc. Certainly I should. 

Str. And you would think temperance to be different from courage; 
and likewise to be a part of virtue? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. I shall venture to put forward a strange theory about them. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. That they are two principles which thoroughly hate one 
another and are antagonistic throughout a great part of nature. 

Y. Soc. How singular! 

Str. Yes very-for all the parts of virtue are commonly said to be 
friendly to one another. 

Y. Soc. Yes. 

Str. Then let us carefully investigate whether this is universally 
true, or whether there are not parts of virtue which are at war with 
their kindred in some respect. 

Y. Soc. Tell me how we shall consider that question. 

Str. We must extend our enquiry to all those things which we 
consider beautiful and at the same time place in two opposite classes. 

Y. Soc. Explain; what are they? 

Str. Acuteness and quickness, whether in body or soul or in the 
movement of sound, and the imitations of them which painting and music 
supply, you must have praised yourself before now, or been present 
when others praised them. 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And do you remember the terms in which they are praised? 

Y. Soc. I do not. 

Str. I wonder whether I can explain to you in words the thought 
which is passing in my mind. 

Y. Soc. Why not? 

Str. You fancy that this is all so easy: Well, let us consider these 
notions with reference to the opposite classes of action under which 
they fall. When we praise quickness and energy and acuteness, 
whether of mind or body or sound, we express our praise of the quality 
which we admire by one word, and that one word is manliness or 
courage . 

Y. Soc. How? 



Str. We speak of an action as energetic and brave, quick and 
manly, and vigorous too; and when we apply the name of which I speak 
as the common attribute of all these natures, we certainly praise 
them. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. And do we not often praise the quiet strain of action also? 

Y. Soc. To be sure. 

Str. And do we not then say the opposite of what we said of the 
other? 

Y. Soc. How do you mean? 

Str. We exclaim How calm! How temperate! in admiration of the slow 
and quiet working of the intellect, and of steadiness and gentleness 
in action, of smoothness and depth of voice, and of all rhythmical 
movement and of music in general, when these have a proper 
solemnity. Of all such actions we predicate not courage, but a name 
indicative of order. 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. But when, on the other hand, either of these is out of place, 
the names of either are changed into terms of censure. 

Y. Soc. How so? 

Str. Too great sharpness or quickness or hardness is termed violence 
or madness; too great slowness or gentleness is called cowardice or 
sluggishness; and we may observe, that for the most part these 
qualities, and the temperance and manliness of the opposite 
characters, are arrayed as enemies on opposite sides, and do not 
mingle with one another in their respective actions; and if we 
pursue the enquiry, we shall find that men who have these different 
qualities of mind differ from one another. 

Y. Soc. In what respect? 

Str. In respect of all the qualities which I mentioned, and very 
likely of many others. According to their respective affinities to 
either class of actions they distribute praise and blame-praise to the 
actions which are akin to their own, blame to those of the opposite 
party-and out of this many quarrels and occasions of quarrel arise 
among them. 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. The difference between the two classes is often a trivial 
concern; but in a state, and when affecting really important 
matters, becomes of all disorders the most hateful. 

Y. Soc. To what do you refer? 

Str. To nothing short of the whole regulation of human life. For the 
orderly class are always ready to lead a peaceful life, quietly 
doing their own business; this is their manner of behaving with all 
men at home, and they are equally ready to find some way of keeping 
the peace with foreign States. And on account of this fondness of 
theirs for peace, which is often out of season where their influence 
prevails, they become by degrees unwarlike, and bring up their young 
men to be like themselves; they are at the mercy of their enemies; 
whence in a few years they and their children and the whole city often 
pass imperceptibly from the condition of freemen into that of slaves. 

Y. Soc. What a cruel fate! 

Str. And now think of what happens with the more courageous natures. 
Are they not always inciting their country to go to war, owing to 
their excessive love of the military life? they raise up enemies 
against themselves many and mighty, and either utterly ruin their 
native land or enslave and subject it to its foes? 

Y. Soc. That, again, is true. 

Str. Must we not admit, then, that where these two classes exist, 
they always feel the greatest antipathy and antagonism towards one 
another? 

Y. Soc. We cannot deny it. 

Str. And returning to the enquiry with which we began, have we not 
found that considerable portions of virtue are at variance with one 
another, and give rise to a similar opposition in the characters who 



are endowed with them? 

Y. Soc. True. 

Str. Let us consider a further point. 

Y. Soc. What is it? 

Str. I want to know, whether any constructive art will make any, 
even the most trivial thing, out of bad and good materials 
indifferently, if this can be helped? does not all art rather reject 
the bad as far as possible, and accept the good and fit materials, and 
from these elements, whether like or unlike, gathering them all into 
one, work out some nature or idea? 

Y. Soc. To, be sure. 

Str. Then the true and natural art of statesmanship will never allow 
any State to be formed by a combination of good and bad men, if this 
can be avoided; but will begin by testing human natures in play, and 
after testing them, will entrust them to proper teachers who are the 
ministers of her purposes-she will herself give orders, and maintain 
authority; just as the art of weaving continually gives orders and 
maintains authority over the carders and all the others who prepare 
the material for the work, commanding the subsidiary arts to execute 
the works which she deems necessary for making the web. 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. In like manner, the royal science appears to me to be the 
mistress of all lawful educators and instructors, and having this 
queenly power, will not permit them to train men in what will 
produce characters unsuited to the political constitution which she 
desires to create, but only in what will produce such as are suitable. 
Those which have no share of manliness and temperance, or any other 
virtuous inclination, and, from the necessity of an evil nature, are 
violently carried away to godlessness and insolence and injustice, she 
gets rid of by death and exile, and punishes them with the greatest of 
disgraces . 

Y. Soc. That is commonly said. 

Str. But those who are wallowing in ignorance and baseness she 
bows under the yoke of slavery. 

Y. Soc. Quite right. 

Str. The rest of the citizens, out of whom, if they have 
education, something noble may be made, and who are capable of being 
united by the Statesman, the kingly art blends and weaves together; 
taking on the one hand those whose natures tend rather to courage, 
which is the stronger element and may be regarded as the warp, and 
on the other hand those which incline to order and gentleness, and 
which are represented in the figure as spun thick and soft after the 
manner of the woof-these, which are naturally opposed, she seeks to 
bind and weave together in the following manner: 

Y. Soc. In what manner? 

Str. First of all, she takes the eternal element of the soul and 
binds it with a divine cord, to which it is akin, and then the 
animal nature, and binds that with human cords. 

Y. Soc. I do not understand what you mean. 

Str. The meaning is, that the opinion about the honourable and the 
just and good and their opposites, which is true and confirmed by 
reason, is a divine principle, and when implanted in the soul, is 
implanted, as I maintain, in a nature of heavenly birth. 

Y. Soc. Yes; what else should it be? 

Str. Only the Statesman and the good legislator, having the 
inspiration of the royal muse, can implant this opinion, and he, 
only in the rightly educated, whom we were just now describing. 

Y. Soc. Likely enough. 

Str. But him who cannot, we will not designate by any of the names 
which are the subject of the present which are the subject of the 
present enquiry. 

Y. Soc. Very right. 

Str. The courageous soul when attaining this truth becomes 
civilized, and rendered more capable of partaking of justice; but when 



not partaking, is inclined to brutality. Is not that true? 

Y. Soc. Certainly. 

Str. And again, the peaceful and orderly nature, if sharing in these 
opinions, becomes temperate and wise, as far as this may be in a 
State, but if not, deservedly obtains the ignominious name of 
silliness . 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. Can we say that such a connection as this will lastingly 
unite the evil with one another or with the good, or that any 
science would seriously think of using a bond of this kind to join 
such materials? 

Y. Soc. Impossible. 

Str. But in those who were originally of a noble nature, and who 
have been nurtured in noble ways, and in those only, may we not say 
that union is implanted by law, and that this is the medicine which 
art prescribes for them, and of all the bonds which unite the 
dissimilar and contrary parts of virtue is not this, as I was 
saying, the divinest? 

Y. Soc. Very true. 

Str. Where this divine bond exists there is no difficulty in 
imagining, or when you have imagined, in creating the other bonds, 
which are human only. 

Y. Soc. How is that, and what bonds do you mean? 

Str. Rights of intermarriage, and ties which are formed between 
States by giving and taking children in marriage, or between 
individuals by private betrothals and espousals. For most persons 
form; marriage connection without due regard to what is best for the 
procreation of children. 

Y. Soc. In what way? 

Str. They seek after wealth and power, which, in matrimony are 
objects not worthy-even of a serious censure. 

Y. Soc. There is no need to consider them at all. 

Str. More reason is-there to consider the practice of those who make 
family their chief aim, and to indicate their error. 

Y. Soc. Quite true. 

Str. They act on no true principle at all; they seek their ease 
and receive with open arms those are like themselves, and hate those 
who are unlike them, being too much influenced by feelings of dislike. 

Y. Soc. How so? 

Str. The quiet orderly class seek for natures like their own, and as 
far as they can they marry and give in marriage exclusively in this 
class, and the courageous do the same; they seek natures like their 
own, whereas they should both do precisely the opposite. 

Y. Soc. How and why is that? 

Str. Because courage, when untempered by the gentler nature during 
many generations, may at first bloom and strengthen, but at last 
bursts forth into downright madness. 

Y. Soc. Like enough. 

Str. And then, again, the soul which is over-full of modesty and has 
no element of courage in many successive generations, is apt to grow 
too indolent, and at last to become utterly paralyzed and useless. 

Y. Soc. That, again, is quite likely. 

Str. It was of these bonds I said that there would be no 
difficulty in creating them, if only both classes originally held 
the same opinion about the honourable and good; -indeed, in this single 
work, the whole process of royal weaving is comprised-never to allow 
temperate natures to be separated from the brave, but to weave them 
together, like the warp and the woof, by common sentiments and honours 
and reputation, and by the giving of pledges to one another; and out 
of them forming one smooth and even web, to entrust to them the 
offices of State. 

Y. Soc. How do you mean? 

Str. Where one officer only is needed, you must choose a ruler who 
has both these qualities-when many, you must mingle some of each, 



for the temperate ruler is very careful and just and safe, but is 
wanting in thoroughness and go. 

Y. Soc. Certainly, that is very true. 

Str. The character of the courageous, on the other hand, falls short 
of the former in justice and caution, but has the power of action in a 
remarkable degree, and where either of these two qualities is wanting, 
there cities, cannot altogether prosper either in their public or 
private life. 

Y. Soc. Certainly they cannot. 

Str. This then we declare to be the completion of the web of 
political Action, which is created by a direct intertexture of the 
brave and temperate natures, whenever the royal science has drawn 
the two minds into communion with one another by unanimity and 
friendship, and having perfected the noblest and best of all the 
webs which political life admits, and enfolding therein all other 
inhabitants of cities, whether slaves or freemen, binds them in one 
fabric and governs and presides over them, and, in so far as to be 
happy is vouchsafed to a city, in no particular fails to secure 
their happiness. 

Y. Soc. Your picture, Stranger, of the king and statesman, no less 
than of the Sophist, is quite perfect. 



-THE END-