translated by Benjamin Jowett
Book III - The Arts in Education
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS
SUCH then, I said, are our principles of theology --some tales
are to be told, and others are not to be told to our disciples
from their youth upwards, if we mean them to honour the gods and
their parents, and to value friendship with one another.
Yes; and I think that our principles are right, he said.
But if they are to be courageous, must they not learn other
lessons besides these, and lessons of such a kind as will take
away the fear of death? Can any man be courageous who has the
fear of death in him?
Certainly not, he said.
And can he be fearless of death, or will he choose death in
battle rather than defeat and slavery, who believes the world
below to be real and terrible?
Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class
of tales as well as over the others, and beg them not simply to
but rather to commend the world below, intimating to them that
their descriptions are untrue, and will do harm to our future
That will be our duty, he said.
Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious
passages, beginning with the verses, I would rather he a serf on
the land of a poor and portionless man than rule over all the
dead who have come to nought. We must also expunge the verse,
which tells us how Pluto feared, Lest the mansions grim and
squalid which the gods abhor should he seen both of mortals and
immortals. And again: O heavens! verily in the house of Hades
there is soul and ghostly form but no mind at all! Again of
Tiresias: -- [To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,]
that he alone should be wise; but the other souls are flitting
shades. Again: -- The soul flying from the limbs had gone to
Hades, lamentng her fate, leaving manhood and youth. Again: --
And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath the
earth. And, -- As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any
of the has dropped out of the string and falls from the rock, fly
shrilling and cling to one another, so did they with shrilling
cry hold together as they moved. And we must beg Homer and the
other poets not to be angry if we strike out these and similar
passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive to the
popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm of them,
the less are they meet for the ears of boys and men who are meant
to be free, and who should fear slavery more than death.
Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling
names describe the world below --Cocytus and Styx, ghosts under
the earth, and sapless shades, and any similar words of which the
very mention causes a shudder to pass through the inmost soul of
him who hears them. I do not say that these horrible stories may
not have a use of some kind; but there is a danger that the
nerves of our guardians may be rendered too excitable and
effeminate by them.
There is a real danger, he said.
Then we must have no more of them.
Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.
And shall we proceed to get rid of the weepings and wailings
of famous men?
They will go with the rest.
But shall we be right in getting rid of them? Reflect: our
principle is that the good man will not consider death terrible
to any other good man who is his comrade.
Yes; that is our principle.
And therefore he will not sorrow for his departed friend as
though he had suffered anything terrible?
He will not.
Such an one, as we further maintain, is sufficient for himself
and his own happiness, and therefore is least in need of other
True, he said.
And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the
deprivation of fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.
And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear
with the greatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which
may befall him.
Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.
Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of
famous men, and making them over to women (and not even to women
who are good for anything), or to men of a baser sort, that those
who are being educated by us to be the defenders of their country
may scorn to do the like.
That will be very right.
Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not
to depict Achilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on
his side, then on his back, and then on his face; then starting
up and sailing in a frenzy along the shores of the barren sea;
now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands and pouring them
over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various modes which
Homer has delineated. Nor should he describe Priam the kinsman of
the gods as praying and beseeching, Rolling in the dirt, calling
each man loudly by his name. Still more earnestly will we beg of
him at all events not to introduce the gods lamenting and saying,
Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the harvest to my sorrow. But
if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so
completely to misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make
him say -- O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend
of mine chased round and round the city, and my heart is
sorrowful. Or again: -- Woe is me that I am fated to have
Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, subdued at the hands of Patroclus
the son of Menoetius. For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth
seriously listen to such unworthy representations of the gods,
instead of laughing at them as they ought, hardly will any of
them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be dishonoured by
similar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination which may
arise in his mind to say and do the like. And instead of having
any shame or self-control, he will be always whining and
lamenting on slight occasions.
Yes, he said, that is most true.
Yes, I replied; but that surely is what ought not to be, as
the argument has just proved to us; and by that proof we must
abide until it is disproved by a better.
It ought not to be.
Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For a fit
of laughter which has been indulged to excess almost always
produces a violent reaction.
So I believe.
Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not be
represented as overcome by laughter, and still less must such a
representation of the gods be allowed.
Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.
Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about
the gods as that of Homer when he describes how Inextinguishable
laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they saw Hephaestus
bustling about the mansion. On your views, we must not admit them.
On my views, if you like to father them on me; that we must
not admit them is certain.
Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a
lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men,
then the use of such medicines should be restricted to
physicians; private individuals have no business with them.
Clearly not, he said.
Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the
rulers of the State should be the persons; and they, in their
dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be
allowed to lie for the public good. But nobody else should meddle
with anything of the kind; and although the rulers have this
privilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to be
deemed a more heinous fault than for the patient or the pupil of
a gymnasium not to speak the truth about his own bodily illnesses
to the physician or to the trainer, or for a sailor not to tell
the captain what is happening about the ship and the rest of the
crew, and how things are going with himself or his fellow sailors.
Most true, he said.
If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in
the State, Any of the craftsmen, whether he priest or physician
or carpenter. he will punish him for introducing a practice which
is equally subversive and destructive of ship or State.
Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever
In the next place our youth must be temperate?
Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally,
obedience to commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?
Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in
Homer, Friend, sit still and obey my word, and the verses which
follow, The Greeks marched breathing prowess, ...in silent awe of
their leaders, and other sentiments of the same kind.
What of this line, O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a
dog and the heart of a stag, and of the words which follow? Would
you say that these, or any similar impertinences which private
individuals are supposed to address to their rulers, whether in
verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?
They are ill spoken.
They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not
conduce to temperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm
to our young men --you would agree with me there?
And then, again, to make the wisest of men say that nothing in
his opinion is more glorious than When the tables are full of
bread and meat, and the cup-bearer carries round wine which he
draws from the bowl and pours into the cups, is it fit or
conducive to temperance for a young man to hear such words? Or
the verse The saddest of fates is to die and meet destiny from
hunger? What would you say again to the tale of Zeus, who, while
other gods and men were asleep and he the only person awake, lay
devising plans, but forgot them all in a moment through his lust,
and was so completely overcome at the sight of Here that he would
not even go into the hut, but wanted to lie with her on the
ground, declaring that he had never been in such a state of
rapture before, even when they first met one another Without the
knowledge of their parents; or that other tale of how Hephaestus,
because of similar goings on, cast a chain around Ares and
Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not
to hear that sort of thing.
But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous
men, these they ought to see and hear; as, for example, what is
said in the verses, He smote his breast, and thus reproached his
heart, Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!
Certainly, he said.
In the next place, we must not let them be receivers of gifts
or lovers of money.
Neither must we sing to them of Gifts persuading gods, and
persuading reverend kings. Neither is Phoenix, the tutor of
Achilles, to be approved or deemed to have given his pupil good
counsel when he told him that he should take the gifts of the
Greeks and assist them; but that without a gift he should not lay
aside his anger. Neither will we believe or acknowledge Achilles
himself to have been such a lover of money that he took
Agamemnon's or that when he had received payment he restored the
dead body of Hector, but that without payment he was unwilling to
Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be
Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing
these feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly
to him, he is guilty of downright impiety. As little can I
believe the narrative of his insolence to Apollo, where he says,
Thou hast wronged me, O far-darter, most abominable of deities.
Verily I would he even with thee, if I had only the power, or his
insubordination to the river-god, on whose divinity he is ready
to lay hands; or his offering to the dead Patroclus of his own
hair, which had been previously dedicated to the other river-god
Spercheius, and that he actually performed this vow; or that he
dragged Hector round the tomb of Patroclus, and slaughtered the
captives at the pyre; of all this I cannot believe that he was
guilty, any more than I can allow our citizens to believe that
he, the wise Cheiron's pupil, the son of a goddess and of Peleus
who was the gentlest of men and third in descent from Zeus, was
so disordered in his wits as to be at one time the slave of two
seemingly inconsistent passions, meanness, not untainted by
avarice, combined with overweening contempt of gods and men.
You are quite right, he replied.
And let us equally refuse to believe, or allow to be repeated,
the tale of Theseus son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous son of
Zeus, going forth as they did to perpetrate a horrid rape; or of
any other hero or son of a god daring to do such impious and
dreadful things as they falsely ascribe to them in our day: and
let us further compel the poets to declare either that these acts
were not done by them, or that they were not the sons of gods; --both
in the same breath they shall not be permitted to affirm. We will
not have them trying to persuade our youth that the gods are the
authors of evil, and that heroes are no better than men-sentiments
which, as we were saying, are neither pious nor true, for we have
already proved that evil cannot come from the gods.
And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who
hear them; for everybody will begin to excuse his own vices when
he is convinced that similar wickednesses are always being
perpetrated by -- The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus,
whose ancestral altar, the attar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the
peak of Ida, and who have the blood of deities yet flowing in
their veins. And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest
they engender laxity of morals among the young.
By all means, he replied.
But now that we are determining what classes of subjects are
or are not to be spoken of, let us see whether any have been
omitted by us. The manner in which gods and demigods and heroes
and the world below should be treated has been already laid down.
And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the remaining
portion of our subject.
But we are not in a condition to answer this question at
present, my friend.
Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about
men poets and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest
misstatements when they tell us that wicked men are often happy,
and the good miserable; and that injustice is profitable when
undetected, but that justice is a man's own loss and another's
gain --these things we shall forbid them to utter, and command
them to sing and say the opposite.
To be sure we shall, he replied.
But if you admit that I am right in this, then I shall
maintain that you have implied the principle for which we have
been all along contending.
I grant the truth of your inference.
That such things are or are not to be said about men is a
question which we cannot determine until we have discovered what
justice is, and how naturally advantageous to the possessor,
whether he seems to be just or not.
Most true, he said.
Enough of the subjects of poetry: let us now speak of the
style; and when this has been considered, both matter and manner
will have been completely treated.
I do not understand what you mean, said Adeimantus.
Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more
intelligible if I put the matter in this way. You are aware, I
suppose, that all mythology and poetry is a narration of events,
either past, present, or to come?
Certainly, he replied.
And narration may be either simple narration, or imitation, or
a union of the two?
That again, he said, I do not quite understand.
I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so much
difficulty in making myself apprehended. Like a bad speaker,
therefore, I will not take the whole of the subject, but will
break a piece off in illustration of my meaning. You know the
first lines of the Iliad, in which the poet says that Chryses
prayed Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that Agamemnon flew
into a passion with him; whereupon Chryses, failing of his
object, invoked the anger of the God against the Achaeans. Now as
far as these lines, And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially
the two sons of Atreus, the chiefs of the people, the poet is
speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose that he
is any one else. But in what follows he takes the person of
Chryses, and then he does all that he can to make us believe that
the speaker is not Homer, but the aged priest himself. And in
this double form he has cast the entire narrative of the events
which occurred at Troy and in Ithaca and throughout the Odyssey.
And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet
recites from time to time and in the intermediate passages?
But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we not
say that he assimilates his style to that of the person who, as
he informs you, is going to speak?
And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use
of voice or gesture, is the imitation of the person whose
character he assumes?
Then in this case the narrative of the poet may be said to
proceed by way of imitation?
Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals himself,
then again the imitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes
simple narration. However, in order that I may make my meaning
quite clear, and that you may no more say, I don't understand,' I
will show how the change might be effected. If Homer had said,
'The priest came, having his daughter's ransom in his hands,
supplicating the Achaeans, and above all the kings;' and then if,
instead of speaking in the person of Chryses, he had continued in
his own person, the words would have been, not imitation, but
simple narration. The passage would have run as follows (I am no
poet, and therefore I drop the metre), 'The priest came and
prayed the gods on behalf of the Greeks that they might capture
Troy and return safely home, but begged that they would give him
back his daughter, and take the ransom which he brought, and
respect the God. Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks revered the
priest and assented. But Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him depart
and not come again, lest the staff and chaplets of the God should
be of no avail to him --the daughter of Chryses should not be
released, he said --she should grow old with him in Argos. And
then he told him to go away and not to provoke him, if he
intended to get home unscathed. And the old man went away in fear
and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he called upon
Apollo by his many names, reminding him of everything which he
had done pleasing to him, whether in building his temples, or in
offering sacrifice, and praying that his good deeds might be
returned to him, and that the Achaeans might expiate his tears by
the arrows of the god,' --and so on. In this way the whole
becomes simple narrative.
I understand, he said.
Or you may suppose the opposite case --that the intermediate
passages are omitted, and the dialogue only left.
That also, he said, I understand; you mean, for example, as in
You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not,
what you failed to apprehend before is now made clear to you,
that poetry and mythology are, in some cases, wholly imitative --instances
of this are supplied by tragedy and comedy; there is likewise the
opposite style, in which the my poet is the only speaker --of
this the dithyramb affords the best example; and the combination
of both is found in epic, and in several other styles of poetry.
Do I take you with me?
Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.
I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that
we had done with the subject and might proceed to the style.
Yes, I remember.
In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an
understanding about the mimetic art, --whether the poets, in
narrating their stories, are to be allowed by us to imitate, and
if so, whether in whole or in part, and if the latter, in what
parts; or should all imitation be prohibited?
You mean, I suspect, to ask whether tragedy and comedy shall
be admitted into our State?
Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I
really do not know as yet, but whither the argument may blow,
thither we go.
And go we will, he said.
Then, Adeimantus, let me ask you whether our guardians ought
to be imitators; or rather, has not this question been decided by
the rule already laid down that one man can only do one thing
well, and not many; and that if he attempt many, he will
altogether fall of gaining much reputation in any?
And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate
many things as well as he would imitate a single one?
Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious
part in life, and at the same time to be an imitator and imitate
many other parts as well; for even when two species of imitation
are nearly allied, the same persons cannot succeed in both, as,
for example, the writers of tragedy and comedy --did you not just
now call them imitations?
Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same
persons cannot succeed in both.
Any more than they can be rhapsodists and actors at once?
Neither are comic and tragic actors the same; yet all these
things are but imitations.
They are so.
And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined into
yet smaller pieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many
things well, as of performing well the actions of which the
imitations are copies.
Quite true, he replied.
If then we adhere to our original notion and bear in mind that
our guardians, setting aside every other business, are to
dedicate themselves wholly to the maintenance of freedom in the
State, making this their craft, and engaging in no work which
does not bear on this end, they ought not to practise or imitate
anything else; if they imitate at all, they should imitate from
youth upward only those characters which are suitable to their
profession --the courageous, temperate, holy, free, and the like;
but they should not depict or be skilful at imitating any kind of
illiberality or baseness, lest from imitation they should come to
be what they imitate. Did you never observe how imitations,
beginning in early youth and continuing far into life, at length
grow into habits and become a second nature, affecting body,
voice, and mind?
Yes, certainly, he said.
Then, I said, we will not allow those for whom we profess a
care and of whom we say that they ought to be good men, to
imitate a woman, whether young or old, quarrelling with her
husband, or striving and vaunting against the gods in conceit of
her happiness, or when she is in affliction, or sorrow, or
weeping; and certainly not one who is in sickness, love, or
Very right, he said.
Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing
the offices of slaves?
They must not.
And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do
the reverse of what we have just been prescribing, who scold or
mock or revile one another in drink or out of in drink or, or who
in any other manner sin against themselves and their neighbours
in word or deed, as the manner of such is. Neither should they be
trained to imitate the action or speech of men or women who are
mad or bad; for madness, like vice, is to be known but not to be
practised or imitated.
Very true, he replied.
Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or
oarsmen, or boatswains, or the like?
How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply
their minds to the callings of any of these?
Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing of
bulls, the murmur of rivers and roll of the ocean, thunder, and
all that sort of thing?
Nay, he said, if madness be forbidden, neither may they copy
the behaviour of madmen.
You mean, I said, if I understand you aright, that there is
one sort of narrative style which may be employed by a truly good
man when he has anything to say, and that another sort will be
used by a man of an opposite character and education.
And which are these two sorts? he asked.
Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course of
a narration comes on some saying or action of another good man,
--I should imagine that he will like to personate him, and will
not be ashamed of this sort of imitation: he will be most ready
to play the part of the good man when he is acting firmly and
wisely; in a less degree when he is overtaken by illness or love
or drink, or has met with any other disaster. But when he comes
to a character which is unworthy of him, he will not make a study
of that; he will disdain such a person, and will assume his
likeness, if at all, for a moment only when he is performing some
good action; at other times he will be ashamed to play a part
which he has never practised, nor will he like to fashion and
frame himself after the baser models; he feels the employment of
such an art, unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his mind
revolts at it.
So I should expect, he replied.
Then he will adopt a mode of narration such as we have
illustrated out of Homer, that is to say, his style will be both
imitative and narrative; but there will be very little of the
former, and a great deal of the latter. Do you agree?
Certainly, he said; that is the model which such a speaker
must necessarily take.
But there is another sort of character who will narrate
anything, and, the worse lie is, the more unscrupulous he will
be; nothing will be too bad for him: and he will be ready to
imitate anything, not as a joke, but in right good earnest, and
before a large company. As I was just now saying, he will attempt
to represent the roll of thunder, the noise of wind and hall, or
the creaking of wheels, and pulleys, and the various sounds of
flutes; pipes, trumpets, and all sorts of instruments: he will
bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crow like a cock; his
entire art will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, and
there will be very little narration.
That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.
These, then, are the two kinds of style?
And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is
simple and has but slight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm
are also chosen for their simplicity, the result is that the
speaker, if hc speaks correctly, is always pretty much the same
in style, and he will keep within the limits of a single harmony
(for the changes are not great), and in like manner he will make
use of nearly the same rhythm?
That is quite true, he said.
Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all
sorts of rhythms, if the music and the style are to correspond,
because the style has all sorts of changes.
That is also perfectly true, he replied.
And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two,
comprehend all poetry, and every form of expression in words? No
one can say anything except in one or other of them or in both
They include all, he said.
And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or
one only of the two unmixed styles? or would you include the
I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.
Yes, I said, Adeimantus, but the mixed style is also very
charming: and indeed the pantomimic, which is the opposite of the
one chosen by you, is the most popular style with children and
their attendants, and with the world in general.
I do not deny it.
But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable
to our State, in which human nature is not twofold or manifold,
for one man plays one part only?
Yes; quite unsuitable.
And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State
only, we shall find a shoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot
also, and a husbandman to be a husbandman and not a dicast also,
and a soldier a soldier and not a trader also, and the same
True, he said.
And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who
are so clever that they can imitate anything, comes to us, and
makes a proposal to exhibit himself and his poetry, we will fall
down and worship him as a sweet and holy and wonderful being; but
we must also inform him that in our State such as he are not
permitted to exist; the law will not allow them. And so when we
have anointed him with myrrh, and set a garland of wool upon his
head, we shall send him away to another city. For we mean to
employ for our souls' health the rougher and severer poet or
story-teller, who will imitate the style of the virtuous only,
and will follow those models which we prescribed at first when we
began the education of our soldiers.
We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.
Then now, my friend, I said, that part of music or literary
education which relates to the story or myth may be considered to
be finished; for the matter and manner have both been discussed.
I think so too, he said.
Next in order will follow melody and song.
That is obvious.
Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if
we are to be consistent with ourselves.
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the words 'every one'
hardly includes me, for I cannot at the moment say what they
should be; though I may guess.
At any rate you can tell that a song or ode has three parts --the
words, the melody, and the rhythm; that degree of knowledge I may
Yes, he said; so much as that you may.
And as for the words, there surely be no difference words
between words which are and which are not set to music; both will
conform to the same laws, and these have been already determined
And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?
We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we
had no need of lamentations and strains of sorrow?
And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You are
musical, and can tell me.
The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian,
and the full-toned or bass Lydian, and such like.
These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a
character to maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.
In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are
utterly unbecoming the character of our guardians.
And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?
The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed
Well, and are these of any military use?
Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the
Phrygian are the only ones which you have left.
I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to
have one warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man
utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause
is failing, and he is going to wounds or death or is overtaken by
some other evil, and at every such crisis meets the blows of
fortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and another
to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action, when
there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to persuade
God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or on the
other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to
persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him
when by prudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away
by his success, but acting moderately and wisely under the
circumstances, and acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies
I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and the strain of
freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the
fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance;
these, I say, leave.
And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies
of which I was just now speaking.
Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our
songs and melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a
I suppose not.
Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three
corners and complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed
But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would
you admit them into our State when you reflect that in this
composite use of harmony the flute is worse than all the stringed
instruments put together; even the panharmonic music is only an
imitation of the flute?
There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the
city, and the shepherds may have a pipe in the country.
That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.
The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and
his instruments is not at all strange, I said.
Not at all, he replied.
And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously
purging the State, which not long ago we termed luxurious.
And we have done wisely, he replied.
Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to
harmonies, rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be
subject to the same rules, for we ought not to seek out complex
systems of metre, or metres of every kind, but rather to discover
what rhythms are the expressions of a courageous and harmonious
life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt the foot and
the melody to words having a like spirit, not the words to the
foot and melody. To say what these rhythms are will be your duty
--you must teach me them, as you have already taught me the
But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that
there are some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical
systems are framed, just as in sounds there are four notes out of
which all the harmonies are composed; that is an observation
which I have made. But of what sort of lives they are severally
the imitations I am unable to say.
Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he
will tell us what rhythms are expressive of meanness, or
insolence, or fury, or other unworthiness, and what are to be
reserved for the expression of opposite feelings. And I think
that I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioning a
complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he arranged
them in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the
rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short
alternating; and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as
well as of a trochaic rhythm, and assigned to them short and long
quantities. Also in some cases he appeared to praise or censure
the movement of the foot quite as much as the rhythm; or perhaps
a combination of the two; for I am not certain what he meant.
These matters, however, as I was saying, had better be referred
to Damon himself, for the analysis of the subject would be
difficult, you know.
Rather so, I should say.
But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence
of grace is an effect of good or bad rhythm.
None at all.
And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a
good and bad style; and that harmony and discord in like manner
follow style; for our principle is that rhythm and harmony are
regulated by the words, and not the words by them.
Just so, he said, they should follow the words.
And will not the words and the character of the style depend
on the temper of the soul?
And everything else on the style?
Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm
depend on simplicity, --I mean the true simplicity of a rightly
and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity
which is only an euphemism for folly?
Very true, he replied.
And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not
make these graces and harmonies their perpetual aim?
And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and
constructive art are full of them, --weaving, embroidery,
architecture, and every kind of manufacture; also nature, animal
and vegetable, --in all of them there is grace or the absence of
grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious motion are
nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony
are the twin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their
That is quite true, he said.
But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets
only to be required by us to express the image of the good in
their works, on pain, if they do anything else, of expulsion from
our State? Or is the same control to be extended to other
artists, and are they also to be prohibited from exhibiting the
opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness and
indecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts;
and is he who cannot conform to this rule of ours to be prevented
from practising his art in our State, lest the taste of our
citizens be corrupted by him? We would not have our guardians
grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in some noxious
pasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb and
flower day by day, little by little, until they silently gather a
festering mass of corruption in their own soul. Let our artists
rather be those who are gifted to discern the true nature of the
beautiful and graceful; then will our youth dwell in a land of
health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in
everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow
into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer
region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into
likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.
There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.
And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more
potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find
their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they
mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who
is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated
ungraceful; and also because he who has received this true
education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive
omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste,
while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the
good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate
the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to
know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognise and
salute the friend with whom his education has made him long
Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our
youth should be trained in music and on the grounds which you
Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we
knew the letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all
their recurring sizes and combinations; not slighting them as
unimportant whether they occupy a space large or small, but
everywhere eager to make them out; and not thinking ourselves
perfect in the art of reading until we recognise them wherever
they are found:
Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or
in a mirror, only when we know the letters themselves; the same
art and study giving us the knowledge of both:
Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we
have to educate, can ever become musical until we and they know
the essential forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise
them and their images wherever they are found, not slighting them
either in small things or great, but believing them all to be
within the sphere of one art and study.
And when a beautiful soul harmonises with a beautiful form,
and the two are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of
sights to him who has an eye to see it?
The fairest indeed.
And the fairest is also the loveliest?
That may be assumed.
And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love
with the loveliest; but he will not love him who is of an
That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul;
but if there be any merely bodily defect in another he will be
patient of it, and will love all the same.
I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of
this sort, and I agree. But let me ask you another question: Has
excess of pleasure any affinity to temperance?
How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the
use of his faculties quite as much as pain.
Or any affinity to virtue in general?
Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?
Yes, the greatest.
And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of
No, nor a madder.
Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order --temperate
Quite true, he said.
Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach
Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come
near the lover and his beloved; neither of them can have any part
in it if their love is of the right sort?
No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.
Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you
would make a law to the effect that a friend should use no other
familiarity to his love than a father would use to his son, and
then only for a noble purpose, and he must first have the other's
consent; and this rule is to limit him in all his intercourse,
and he is never to be seen going further, or, if he exceeds, he
is to be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.
I quite agree, he said.
Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should
be the end of music if not the love of beauty?
I agree, he said.
After music comes gymnastic, in which our youth are next to be
Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the
training in it should be careful and should continue through life.
Now my belief is, --and this is a matter upon which I should like
to have your opinion in confirmation of my own, but my own belief
is, --not that the good body by any bodily excellence improves
the soul, but, on the contrary, that the good soul, by her own
excellence, improves the body as far as this may be possible.
What do you say?
Yes, I agree.
Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right
in handing over the more particular care of the body; and in
order to avoid prolixity we will now only give the general
outlines of the subject.
That they must abstain from intoxication has been already
remarked by us; for of all persons a guardian should be the last
to get drunk and not know where in the world he is.
Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian
to take care of him is ridiculous indeed.
But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in
training for the great contest of all --are they not?
Yes, he said.
And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited
I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is
but a sleepy sort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you
not observe that these athletes sleep away their lives, and are
liable to most dangerous illnesses if they depart, in ever so
slight a degree, from their customary regimen?
Yes, I do.
Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for
our warrior athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see
and hear with the utmost keenness; amid the many changes of water
and also of food, of summer heat and winter cold, which they will
have to endure when on a campaign, they must not be liable to
break down in health.
That is my view.
The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple
music which we were just now describing.
Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our
music, is simple and good; and especially the military gymnastic.
What do you mean?
My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his
heroes at their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers'
fare; they have no fish, although they are on the shores of the
Hellespont, and they are not allowed boiled meats but only roast,
which is the food most convenient for soldiers, requiring only
that they should light a fire, and not involving the trouble of
carrying about pots and pans.
And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are
nowhere mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is
not singular; all professional athletes are well aware that a man
who is to be in good condition should take nothing of the kind.
Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not
Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the
refinements of Sicilian cookery?
I think not.
Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to
have a Corinthian girl as his fair friend?
Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are
thought, of Athenian confectionery?
All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us to
melody and song composed in the panharmonic style, and in all the
There complexity engendered license, and here disease; whereas
simplicity in music was the parent of temperance in the soul; and
simplicity in gymnastic of health in the body.
Most true, he said.
But when intemperance and disease multiply in a State, halls
of justice and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of
the doctor and the lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen
is the interest which not only the slaves but the freemen of a
city take about them.
And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and
disgraceful state of education than this, that not only artisans
and the meaner sort of people need the skill of first-rate
physicians and judges, but also those who would profess to have
had a liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and a great sign
of want of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad for
his law and physic because he has none of his own at home, and
must therefore surrender himself into the hands of other men whom
he makes lords and judges over him?
Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.
Would you say 'most,' I replied, when you consider that there
is a further stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long
litigant, passing all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff
or defendant, but is actually led by his bad taste to pride
himself on his litigiousness; he imagines that he is a master in
dishonesty; able to take every crooked turn, and wriggle into and
out of every hole, bending like a withy and getting out of the
way of justice: and all for what? --in order to gain small points
not worth mentioning, he not knowing that so to order his life as
to be able to do without a napping judge is a far higher and
nobler sort of thing. Is not that still more disgraceful?
Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.
Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a
wound has to be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just
because, by indolence and a habit of life such as we have been
describing, men fill themselves with waters and winds, as if
their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious sons of
Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and
catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?
Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and
newfangled names to diseases.
Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such
diseases in the days of Asclepius; and this I infer from the
circumstance that the hero Eurypylus, after he has been wounded
in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine well besprinkled with
barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainly inflammatory,
and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the Trojan war do not
blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke Patroclus,
who is treating his case.
Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be
given to a person in his condition.
Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in
former days, as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus,
the guild of Asclepius did not practise our present system of
medicine, which may be said to educate diseases. But Herodicus,
being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by a
combination of training and doctoring found out a way of
torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the
How was that? he said.
By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal
disease which he perpetually tended, and as recovery was out of
the question, he passed his entire life as a valetudinarian; he
could do nothing but attend upon himself, and he was in constant
torment whenever he departed in anything from his usual regimen,
and so dying hard, by the help of science he struggled on to old
A rare reward of his skill!
Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who
never understood that, if Asclepius did not instruct his
descendants in valetudinarian arts, the omission arose, not from
ignorance or inexperience of such a branch of medicine, but
because he knew that in all well-ordered states every individual
has an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no
leisure to spend in continually being ill. This we remark in the
case of the artisan, but, ludicrously enough, do not apply the
same rule to people of the richer sort.
How do you mean? he said.
I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for
a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the
knife, --these are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for
him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and
swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once
that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life
which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his
customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort
of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets
well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution
falls, he dies and has no more trouble.
Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use
the art of medicine thus far only.
Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there
be in his life if he were deprived of his occupation?
Quite true, he said.
But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say
that he has any specially appointed work which he must perform,
if he would live.
He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.
Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon
as a man has a livelihood he should practise virtue?
Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.
Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but
rather ask ourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the
rich man, or can he live without it? And if obligatory on him,
then let us raise a further question, whether this dieting of
disorders which is an impediment to the application of the mind t
in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not equally stand
in the way of the sentiment of Phocylides?
Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive
care of the body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is
most inimical to the practice of virtue.
Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the
management of a house, an army, or an office of state; and, what
is most important of all, irreconcilable with any kind of study
or thought or self-reflection --there is a constant suspicion
that headache and giddiness are to be ascribed to philosophy, and
hence all practising or making trial of virtue in the higher
sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancying that he
is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of
Yes, likely enough.
And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have
exhibited the power of his art only to persons who, being
generally of healthy constitution and habits of life, had a
definite ailment; such as these he cured by purges and
operations, and bade them live as usual, herein consulting the
interests of the State; but bodies which disease had penetrated
through and through he would not have attempted to cure by
gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to
lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers
begetting weaker sons; --if a man was not able to live in the
ordinary way he had no business to cure him; for such a cure
would have been of no use either to himself, or to the State.
Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.
Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons.
Note that they were heroes in the days of old and practised the
medicines of which I am speaking at the siege of Troy: You will
remember how, when Pandarus wounded Menelaus, they Sucked the
blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies, but they
never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink
in the case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus;
the remedies, as they conceived, were enough to heal any man who
before he was wounded was healthy and regular in habits; and even
though he did happen to drink a posset of Pramnian wine, he might
get well all the same. But they would have nothing to do with
unhealthy and intemperate subjects, whose lives were of no use
either to themselves or others; the art of medicine was not
designed for their good, and though they were as rich as Midas,
the sons of Asclepius would have declined to attend them.
They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.
Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and
Pindar disobeying our behests, although they acknowledge that
Asclepius was the son of Apollo, say also that he was bribed into
healing a rich man who was at the point of death, and for this
reason he was struck by lightning. But we, in accordance with the
principle already affirmed by us, will not believe them when they
tell us both; --if he was the son of a god, we maintain that hd
was not avaricious; or, if he was avaricious he was not the son
of a god.
All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a
question to you: Ought there not to be good physicians in a
State, and are not the best those who have treated the greatest
number of constitutions good and bad? and are not the best judges
in like manner those who are acquainted with all sorts of moral
Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians.
But do you know whom I think good?
Will you tell me?
I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same
question you join two things which are not the same.
How so? he asked.
Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most
skilful physicians are those who, from their youth upwards, have
combined with the knowledge of their art the greatest experience
of disease; they had better not be robust in health, and should
have had all manner of diseases in their own persons. For the
body, as I conceive, is not the instrument with which they cure
the body; in that case we could not allow them ever to be or to
have been sickly; but they cure the body with the mind, and the
mind which has become and is sick can cure nothing.
That is very true, he said.
But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by
mind; he ought not therefore to have been trained among vicious
minds, and to have associated with them from youth upwards, and
to have gone through the whole calendar of crime, only in order
that he may quickly infer the crimes of others as he might their
bodily diseases from his own self-consciousness; the honourable
mind which is to form a healthy judgment should have had no
experience or contamination of evil habits when young. And this
is the reason why in youth good men often appear to be simple,
and are easily practised upon by the dishonest, because they have
no examples of what evil is in their own souls.
Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.
Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should
have learned to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late
and long observation of the nature of evil in others: knowledge
should be his guide, not personal experience.
Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.
Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer
to your question); for he is good who has a good soul. But the
cunning and suspicious nature of which we spoke, --he who has
committed many crimes, and fancies himself to be a master in
wickedness, when he is amongst his fellows, is wonderful in the
precautions which he takes, because he judges of them by himself:
but when he gets into the company of men of virtue, who have the
experience of age, he appears to be a fool again, owing to his
unseasonable suspicions; he cannot recognise an honest man,
because he has no pattern of honesty in himself; at the same
time, as the bad are more numerous than the good, and he meets
with them oftener, he thinks himself, and is by others thought to
be, rather wise than foolish.
Most true, he said.
Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this
man, but the other; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a
virtuous nature, educated by time, will acquire a knowledge both
of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and not the vicious, man has
wisdom --in my opinion.
And in mine also.
This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law,
which you sanction in your State. They will minister to better
natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who
are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the
corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.
That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for
And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple
music which, as we said, inspires temperance, will be reluctant
to go to law.
And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content
to practise the simple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with
medicine unless in some extreme case.
That I quite believe.
The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended
to stimulate the spirited element of his nature, and not to
increase his strength; he will not, like common athletes, use
exercise and regimen to develop his muscles.
Very right, he said.
Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really
designed, as is often supposed, the one for the training of the
soul, the other fir the training of the body.
What then is the real object of them?
I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view
chiefly the improvement of the soul.
How can that be? he asked.
Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself
of exclusive devotion to gymnastic, or the opposite effect of an
exclusive devotion to music?
In what way shown? he said.
The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other
of softness and effeminacy, I replied.
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes
too much of a savage, and that the mere musician is melted and
softened beyond what is good for him.
Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit,
which, if rightly educated, would give courage, but, if too much
intensified, is liable to become hard and brutal.
That I quite think.
On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of
gentleness. And this also, when too much indulged, will turn to
softness, but, if educated rightly, will be gentle and moderate.
And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these
And both should be in harmony?
And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?
And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?
And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into
his soul through the funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and
melancholy airs of which we were just now speaking, and his whole
life is passed in warbling and the delights of song; in the first
stage of the process the passion or spirit which is in him is
tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle and
useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing
process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he
has wasted away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul;
and he becomes a feeble warrior.
If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change
is speedily accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the
power of music weakening the spirit renders him excitable; --on
the least provocation he flames up at once, and is speedily
extinguished; instead of having spirit he grows irritable and
passionate and is quite impracticable.
And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a
great feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and
philosophy, at first the high condition of his body fills him
with pride and spirit, and lie becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no con-a
verse with the Muses, does not even that intelligence which there
may be in him, having no taste of any sort of learning or enquiry
or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull and blind, his mind
never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his senses not
being purged of their mists?
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized,
never using the weapon of persuasion, --he is like a wild beast,
all violence and fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing;
and he lives in all ignorance and evil conditions, and has no
sense of propriety and grace.
That is quite true, he said.
And as there are two principles of human nature, one the
spirited and the other the philosophical, some God, as I should
say, has given mankind two arts answering to them (and only
indirectly to the soul and body), in order that these two
principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be relaxed or
drawn tighter until they are duly harmonised.
That appears to be the intention.
And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest
proportions, and best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly
called the true musician and harmonist in a far higher sense than
the tuner of the strings.
You are quite right, Socrates.
And such a presiding genius will be always required in our
State if the government is to last.
Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.
Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where
would be the use of going into further details about the dances
of our citizens, or about their hunting and coursing, their
gymnastic and equestrian contests? For these all follow the
general principle, and having found that, we shall have no
difficulty in discovering them.
I dare say that there will be no difficulty.
Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not
ask who are to be rulers and who subjects?
There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.
And that the best of these must rule.
That is also clear.
Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to
And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must
they not be those who have most the character of guardians?
And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to
have a special care of the State?
And a man will be most likely to care about that which he
To be sure.
And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as
having the same interests with himself, and that of which the
good or evil fortune is supposed by him at any time most to
affect his own?
Very true, he replied.
Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the
guardians those who in their whole life show the greatest
eagerness to do what is for the good of their country, and the
greatest repugnance to do what is against her interests.
Those are the right men.
And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that
we may see whether they preserve their resolution, and never,
under the influence either of force or enchantment, forget or
cast off their sense of duty to the State.
How cast off? he said.
I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a
man's mind either with his will or against his will; with his
will when he gets rid of a falsehood and learns better, against
his will whenever he is deprived of a truth.
I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the
meaning of the unwilling I have yet to learn.
Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly deprived
of good, and willingly of evil? Is not to have lost the truth an
evil, and to possess the truth a good? and you would agree that
to conceive things as they are is to possess the truth?
Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind are
deprived of truth against their will.
And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by
theft, or force, or enchantment?
Still, he replied, I do not understand you.
I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the
tragedians. I only mean that some men are changed by persuasion
and that others forget; argument steals away the hearts of one
class, and time of the other; and this I call theft. Now you
Those again who are forced are those whom the violence of some
pain or grief compels to change their opinion.
I understand, he said, and you are quite right.
And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those
who change their minds either under the softer influence of
pleasure, or the sterner influence of fear?
Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.
Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are
the best guardians of their own conviction that what they think
the interest of the State is to be the rule of their lives. We
must watch them from their youth upwards, and make them perform
actions in which they are most likely to forget or to be
deceived, and he who remembers and is not deceived is to be
selected, and he who falls in the trial is to be rejected. That
will be the way?
And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts
prescribed for them, in which they will be made to give further
proof of the same qualities.
Very right, he replied.
And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments that is
the third sort of test --and see what will be their behaviour:
like those who take colts amid noise and tumult to see if they
are of a timid nature, so must we take our youth amid terrors of
some kind, and again pass them into pleasures, and prove them
more thoroughly than gold is proved in the furnace, that we may
discover whether they are armed against all enchantments, and of
a noble bearing always, good guardians of themselves and of the
music which they have learned, and retaining under all
circumstances a rhythmical and harmonious nature, such as will be
most serviceable to the individual and to the State. And he who
at every age, as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out
of the trial victorious and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and
guardian of the State; he shall be honoured in life and death,
and shall receive sepulture and other memorials of honour, the
greatest that we have to give. But him who fails, we must reject.
I am inclined to think that this is the sort of way in which our
rulers and guardians should be chosen and appointed. I speak
generally, and not with any pretension to exactness.
And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.
And perhaps the word 'guardian' in the fullest sense ought to
be applied to this higher class only who preserve us against
foreign enemies and maintain peace among our citizens at home,
that the one may not have the will, or the others the power, to
harm us. The young men whom we before called guardians may be
more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of the
principles of the rulers.
I agree with you, he said.
How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of
which we lately spoke --just one royal lie which may deceive the
rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the
What sort of lie? he said.
Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale of what
has often occurred before now in other places, (as the poets say,
and have made the world believe,) though not in our time, and I
do not know whether such an event could ever happen again, or
could now even be made probable, if it did.
How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!
You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have
Speak, he said, and fear not.
Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to
look you in the face, or in what words to utter the audacious
fiction, which I propose to communicate gradually, first to the
rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly to the people. They are
to be told that their youth was a dream, and the education and
training which they received from us, an appearance only; in
reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in
the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and
appurtenances were manufactured; when they were completed, the
earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their country being
their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for
her good, and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens
they are to regard as children of the earth and their own
You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which
you were going to tell.
True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told
you half. Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are
brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have
the power of command, and in the composition of these he has
mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour;
others he has made of silver, to be auxillaries; others again who
are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and
iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children.
But as all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will
sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. And
God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all
else, that there is nothing which should so anxiously guard, or
of which they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of
the race. They should observe what elements mingle in their off
spring; for if the son of a golden or silver parent has an
admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition
of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards
the child because he has to descend in the scale and become a
husbandman or artisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who
having an admixture of gold or silver in them are raised to
honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries. For an oracle says
that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be
destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making
our citizens believe in it?
Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of
accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the
tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them.
I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a
belief will make them care more for the city and for one another.
Enough, however, of the fiction, which may now fly abroad upon
the wings of rumour, while we arm our earth-born heroes, and lead
them forth under the command of their rulers. Let them look round
and select a spot whence they can best suppress insurrection, if
any prove refractory within, and also defend themselves against
enemies, who like wolves may come down on the fold from without;
there let them encamp, and when they have encamped, let them
sacrifice to the proper Gods and prepare their dwellings.
Just so, he said.
And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against
the cold of winter and the heat of summer.
I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.
Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not
What is the difference? he said.
That I will endeavour to explain, I replied. To keep
watchdogs, who, from want of discipline or hunger, or some evil
habit, or evil habit or other, would turn upon the sheep and
worry them, and behave not like dogs but wolves, would be a foul
and monstrous thing in a shepherd?
Truly monstrous, he said.
And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries,
being stronger than our citizens, may not grow to be too much for
them and become savage tyrants instead of friends and allies?
Yes, great care should be taken.
And would not a really good education furnish the best
But they are well-educated already, he replied.
I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much
certain that they ought to be, and that true education, whatever
that may be, will have the greatest tendency to civilize and
humanize them in their relations to one another, and to those who
are under their protection.
Very true, he replied.
And not only their education, but their habitations, and all
that belongs to them, should be such as will neither impair their
virtue as guardians, nor tempt them to prey upon the other
citizens. Any man of sense must acknowledge that.
Then let us consider what will be their way of life, if they
are to realize our idea of them. In the first place, none of them
should have any property of his own beyond what is absolutely
necessary; neither should they have a private house or store
closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisions
should be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are
men of temperance and courage; they should agree to receive from
the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of
the year and no more; and they will go and live together like
soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we will tell them that they
have from God; the diviner metal is within them, and they have
therefore no need of the dross which is current among men, and
ought not to pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture;
for that commoner metal has been the source of many unholy deeds,
but their own is undefiled. And they alone of all the citizens
may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same roof
with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will be
their salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State. But
should they ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own,
they will become housekeepers and husbandmen instead of
guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other
citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted
against, they will pass their whole life in much greater terror
of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both
to themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at hand. For
all which reasons may we not say that thus shall our State be
ordered, and that these shall be the regulations appointed by us
for guardians concerning their houses and all other matters?
Yes, said Glaucon.
The Classical Library, This HTML edition copyright 2000.