The Republic

by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Book II — The Individual and the State

Contents List:

Psychological Evaluation of Goods
Anonymity Abets Injustice
Dissimulation versus Honesty
Political Conspiracy
Neglect of the Soul
A Daunting Task
Justice in State
A Model Economic State
Social Justice
Comfort and Luxury
Expansion and War
A Difficult Balance
Philosophical Discrimination

Return to:

Title Page
Ardue Library
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See also:

In Search of Justice - 2
The Economy of Human Life
The Individual and the World
Small Business — Good Business
Business Focus for the Owner-Director
World Currency
"Just" War


Glaucon professes himself dissatisfied with Socrates' answer to Thrasymachus (in Chapter I) and suggests that personal reputation and material rewards do not by themselves constitute sufficient criteria for the evaluation of anything, let alone of such metaphysical qualities as are attributed to a "just" person. Glaucon suggests that the skilful practitioner of duplicity secures the fruits of injustice whilst contriving to retain a reputation for justice. Adeimantus adds that parents and tutors tend to rear their charges so as to make them masters of the art of dissembling — even to the extent of portraying the gods as being tolerant of injustice and encouraging the formation of secret societies and political parties to further unjust interests and circumvent inconvenient laws. Adeimantus asks upon what grounds justice may be preserved if the gods either don't care about humans or if gods themselves exist only as figments of human imagination. After suggesting that such ungodliness arises from non-recognition of the soul as the principal determinant of good and justice, Adeimantus requests Socrates to make the case for justice in the face of all the arguments which have been advanced in favour of injustice. Socrates begins by suggesting that as injustice is observed more easily on the larger scale of the state than on that of the individual, the company should construct a theoretical model state whereby the relative effects of justice and injustice may be compared. There ensues a seminar on political economy in which it is revealed that competition for essential goods, supplemented by psychological desire for luxuries, can lead to war with neighbours and make it necessary for the state to employ professional "guardians" to advance and protect the interests of the realm. A discussion ensues about the rare combination of qualities the ideal guardian should possess, leading in the next instalment to consideration of the philosophical principles upon which the nurture and training of guardians should be conducted.

Psychological Evaluation of Goods

With these words I [Socrates — Ed.] was thinking that I had made an end of the discussion; but the end, in truth, proved to be only a beginning. For Glaucon, who is always the most pugnacious of men, was dissatisfied at Thrasymachus' retirement; he wanted to have the battle out. So he said to me: Socrates, do you wish really to persuade us, or only to seem to have persuaded us, that to be just is always better than to be unjust?

I should wish really to persuade you, I replied, if I could.

Then you certainly have not succeeded. Let me ask you now: How would you arrange goods? Are there not some which we welcome for their own sakes, and independently of their consequences — as, for example, harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time although nothing follows from them?

I agree in thinking that there is such a class, I replied.

Is there not also a second class of goods, such as knowledge, sight, health, which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results?

Certainly, I said.

And would you not recognize a third class, such as gymnastic, and the care of the sick, and the physician's art; also the various ways of money-making — these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable; and no one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or result which flows from them?

There is, I said, this third class also. But why do you ask?

Because I want to know in which of the three classes you would place justice?

In the highest class, I replied — among those goods which he who would be happy desires both for their own sake and for the sake of their results.

Then the many are of another mind. They think that justice is to be reckoned in the troublesome class among goods which are to be pursued for the sake of rewards and of reputation, but which in themselves are disagreeable and rather to be avoided.

I know, I said, that this is their manner of thinking, and that this was the thesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just now, when he censured justice and praised injustice. But I am too stupid to be convinced by him.

I wish, he said, that you would hear me as well as him, and then I shall see whether you and I agree. For Thrasymachus seems to me, like a snake, to have been charmed by your voice sooner than he ought to have been. To my mind, the nature of justice and injustice has not yet been made clear. Setting aside their rewards and results, I want to know what they are in themselves, and how they inwardly work in the soul.

If you please, then, I will revive the argument of Thrasymachus. And first I will speak of the nature and origin of justice according to the common view of them. Secondly, I will show that all men who practise justice do so against their will, that is, of necessity but not as a good. And thirdly, I will argue that there is reason in this view, for the life of the unjust is after all far better than the life of the just — that is, Socrates, if what they say is true — although I myself am not of their opinion.

Nevertheless I still acknowledge that I am perplexed when I hear the voices of Thrasymachus and myriads of others dinning in my ears and, on the other hand, I have never yet heard the superiority of justice to injustice maintained by anyone in a satisfactory way, and so I want to hear justice praised in respect of itself. Then I shall be satisfied, and you are the person from whom I think that I am most likely to hear this. Therefore I will praise the unjust life to the utmost of my power, and my manner of speaking will indicate the manner in which I desire to hear you praising justice and censuring injustice. Will you say whether you approve of my proposal?

Indeed I do, Glaucon; nor can I imagine any theme about which a man of sense would oftener wish to converse.

I am delighted, he replied, to hear you say so. I shall begin by speaking, as I proposed, of the nature and origin of justice.

They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good and to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among themselves to have neither. Hence there arise laws and mutual covenants, and that which is ordained by law is termed by them lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice. It is a mean or compromise between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation. Justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated — not as a good, but as the lesser evil. It is honoured by reason of the inability of men to do injustice: for no man who is worthy to be called a man would ever submit to such an agreement if he were able to resist; he would be mad if he did. Such is the received account, Socrates, of the nature and origin of justice.

Anonymity Abets Injustice

That those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they have not the power to be unjust can best be appreciated if we imagine something of this kind: having given both to the just and the unjust power to do what they will, let us watch and see whither desire will lead them. Then we shall discover in the very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding along the same road. They follow their interest — which all natures deem to be their good — and are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of law. The liberty which we are supposing may be most completely given to them in the form of such a power as is said to have been possessed by Gyges, the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian.

According to the tradition, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the King of Lydia. There was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place where he was feeding his flock. Amazed at the sight, he descended into the opening, where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse fitted with doors. Looking in, he saw a human corpse of more than usual size wearing nothing but a gold ring. He took the ring from the finger of the corpse, and reascended.

Now the shepherds met together, according to custom, that they might send their monthly report about the flocks to the King. Into their assembly came the thief wearing the ring on his finger. As he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the collet of the ring inside his hand, and instantly became invisible to the rest of the company who began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. Astonished at this, he turned the collet outward and immediately reappeared. He made several trials of the ring, always with the same result — when he turned the collet inward he became invisible, when outward he reappeared. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the court. As soon as he arrived he seduced the Queen, and with her help conspired against the King and slew him and took the kingdom.

Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other. No man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with anyone at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point.

This we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity: for wherever anyone thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing will say that they are right. If you could imagine anyone obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another's faces and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.

Dissimulation versus Honesty

Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way. Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just. Nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives.

First, let the unjust be like other distinguished masters of craft — like the skilful pilot or physician, who intuitively knows his own powers and keeps within their limits, and who, if he fails at any point, is able to recover himself. Let the unjust make his unjust attempts in the right way, and remain anonymous if he means to be great in his injustice, for the greatest injustice is to be deemed just when you are not. Therefore I say that in the perfectly unjust man, we must assume the most perfect injustice. We must allow him, while he does the most unjust acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself and speak with effect if any of his deeds come to light. By his courage and strength he must be able to force his way where force is required and command money and friends.

At his side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be, and not to seem, good. There must be no seeming: for if he seem to be just, he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honour and rewards. Therefore let him be clothed in justice only and have no other covering. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst. Then he will have been put to the proof and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. Let him continue thus to the hour of death, being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.

Heavens! my dear Glaucon, I said, how energetically you polish them up for the decision, first one and then the other, as if they were two statues.

I do my best, he said. And now that we know what they are like, there is no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them. This I will proceed to describe. But as you may think the description a little too coarse, I ask you to suppose, Socrates, that the words which follow are not mine. Let me put them into the mouths of the eulogists of injustice. They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound, and have his eyes burnt out. At last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled. Then he will understand that he ought only to seem, and not to be, just.

The words of Aeschylus may be more truly spoken of the unjust than of the just. For the unjust is pursuing a reality: he does not live with a view to appearances but wants to be really unjust and not to seem only: "His mind has a soil deep and fertile, out of which spring his prudent counsels".

In the first place, he is thought just, and therefore bears rule in the city. He can marry whom he will, and give in marriage to whom he will. He can trade and deal where he likes, and always to his own advantage because he has no misgivings about injustice. At every contest, whether in public or private, he gets the better of his antagonists, gains at their expense, and is rich. Out of his gains he can benefit his friends and harm his enemies. Moreover, he can offer sacrifices, and dedicate gifts to the gods abundantly and magnificently. He can honour the gods or any man whom he wants to honour in a far better style than the just, and therefore he is likely to be dearer than they are to the gods. And thus, Socrates, gods and men are said to unite in making the life of the unjust better than the life of the just.

I was going to say something in answer to Glaucon, when Adeimantus, his brother, interposed: Socrates, he said, you do not suppose that there is nothing more to be urged?

Why, what else is there? I asked.

The strongest point of all has not even been mentioned, he replied.

Well, then, according to the proverb, "Let brother help brother". If he fails in any part, do you assist him — although I must confess that Glaucon has already said quite enough to lay me in the dust, and take from me the power of helping justice.


Nonsense, he replied. But let me add something more. There is another side to Glaucon's argument about the praise and censure of justice and injustice which is equally required in order to bring out what I believe to be his meaning. Parents and tutors are always telling their sons and their wards that they are to be just. But why? Not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of character and reputation, hoping to obtain for them some of those offices, marriages, and the like which Glaucon has enumerated among the advantages accruing to the unjust from the reputation of justice.

More, however, is made of appearances by this class of persons than by the others. They throw in the good opinion of the gods, and will tell you of a shower of benefits which the heavens rain upon the pious. This accords with the testimony of the noble Hesiod and Homer, the first of whom says that the gods make the oaks of the just "To bear acorns at their summit, and bees in the middle; and the sheep are bowed down with the weight of their fleeces", and many other blessings of a like kind are provided for them.

And Homer has a very similar strain; for he speaks of one whose fame is "as the fame of some blameless king who, like a god, maintains justice; to whom the black earth brings forth wheat and barley, whose trees are bowed with fruit, and his sheep never fail to bear, and the sea gives him fish".

Still grander are the gifts of heaven which Musaeus and his son vouchsafe to the just. They take them down into the world below where they have the saints lying on couches at a feast, everlastingly drunk and crowned with garlands. Their idea seems to be that an immortality of drunkenness is the highest mead of virtue. Some extend their rewards yet further by alleging that the posterity of the faithful and just shall survive to the third and fourth generation. This is the style in which they praise justice.

But about the wicked there is another strain: they bury them in a slough in Hades, and make them carry water in a sieve. While they are yet living they bring them to infamy, and inflict upon them the punishments which Glaucon described as the portion of the just who are reputed to be unjust. Such is their manner of praising the one and censuring the other.


Once more, Socrates, I will ask you to consider another way of speaking about justice and injustice which is not confined to the poets, but is found in prose writers. The universal voice of mankind is always declaring that justice and virtue are honourable, but grievous and toilsome; and that the pleasures of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are censured only by law and opinion. They say also that honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. They are quite ready to call wicked men happy, and to honour them both in public and private when they are rich or in any other way influential, while they despise and overlook those who may be weak and poor, even though acknowledging them to be better than the others.

Most extraordinary of all is their mode of speaking about virtue and the gods. They say that the gods apportion calamity and misery to many good men, and good and happiness to the wicked. Mendicant prophets go to rich men's doors and persuade them that they have a power committed to them by the gods of making an atonement for a man's own or his ancestor's sins by sacrifices or charms, with rejoicings and feasts. They promise to harm an enemy, whether just or unjust, at a small cost. With magic arts and incantations, they claim to bind heaven to execute their will. The poets are the authorities to whom they appeal, smoothing the path of vice with the words of Hesiod: "Vice may be had in abundance without trouble; the way is smooth and her dwelling-place is near. But before virtue the gods have set toil, and a tedious and uphill road".

They cite Homer as a witness that the gods may be influenced by men; for he also says: "The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odour of fat, when they have sinned and trangressed".

They produce a host of books supposedly written by Musaeus and Orpheus, alleged children of the Moon and the muses. Hence they derive rituals and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead. The latter sort they call mysteries which redeem us from the pains of hell but, if we neglect them, no one knows what awaits us.

Adeimantus went on: And now when the young hear all this said about virtue and vice, and the way in which gods and men regard them, how are their minds likely to be affected, my dear Socrates? What effect will such ideas have on those who are quick-witted and, like bees on the wing, light on every flower, and from all that they hear are prone to draw conclusions as to what manner of persons they should be and in what way they should walk if they would make the best of life? Probably the youth will say to himself in the words of Pindar: "Can I by justice or by crooked ways of deceit ascend a loftier tower which may be a fortress to me all my days"?

For what men say is that, if I am really just but am not also thought just, there is no profit; pain and loss, on the other hand, are inevitable. But if, though unjust, I acquire the reputation of justice, a heavenly life is promised to me. Since then, as philosophers prove, appearance tyrannizes over truth and is lord of happiness, I must devote myself to appearance. I will describe around me a picture and shadow of virtue to be the vestibule and exterior of my house; but behind the facade I will trail the subtle and crafty fox — as Archilochus, greatest of sages, recommends.

Political Conspiracy

But, continued Adeimantus, I hear someone exclaiming that the concealment of wickedness is often difficult. I answer that nothing great is easy. Nevertheless, the argument indicates that if we would be happy, this is the path along which we should proceed. With a view to concealment, we will establish secret brotherhoods and political clubs. There are professors of rhetoric who teach the art of persuading courts and assemblies and so, partly by persuasion and partly by force, we shall make unlawful gains and not be punished.

Still I hear a voice saying that the gods can be neither deceived nor compelled. But what if there are no gods or, if there are, suppose they have no care of human things? In either case, why should we care about concealment? Even if there are gods and they do care about us, we know of them only from tradition and the genealogies of the poets, the very persons who say that they may be influenced and turned by "sacrifices, soothing entreaties, and offerings."

Let us be consistent, then, and believe both or neither. If the poets speak truly, then we had better be unjust and offer the fruits of injustice. If we are just, although we may escape the vengeance of heaven, we shall lose the gains of injustice; but, if we are unjust, we shall keep the gains and, by our sinning and praying and praying and sinning, the gods will be propitiated and we shall not be punished.

The just may say that "there is a world below in which either we or our posterity will suffer for our unjust deeds." Yes, my friend, will be the reflection, but there are mysteries and atoning deities, and these have great power. That is what mighty cities declare; and the children of the gods, who were their poets and prophets, bear a like testimony.

On what principle, then, shall we any longer choose justice rather than the worst injustice? If we only unite the latter with a deceitful regard to appearances, the most numerous and the highest authorities tell us that we shall find favour with both gods and men, in life and after death.

Knowing all this, Socrates, how can a man who has any superiority of mind or rank or wealth be willing to honour justice — or, indeed, to refrain from laughing when he hears justice praised? Even if there should be someone who is able to disprove the truth of my words, and who is satisfied that justice is best, still he is not angry with the unjust. He is very ready to forgive them, because he also knows that men are not just of their own free will unless, perchance, there is someone whom the divinity within him may have inspired with a hatred of injustice, or who has attained knowledge of the truth. He only blames one who, owing to cowardice or age or some weakness, has not the power of being unjust. And this is proved by the fact that when he obtains the power, he immediately becomes unjust as far as he can be.

Neglect of the Soul

The cause of all this, Socrates, was indicated by us at the beginning of the argument, when my brother and I told you how astonished we were to find that of all the professing panegyrists of justice — beginning with the ancient heroes of whom any memorial has been preserved to us and ending with the men of our own time — no one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except with a view to the glories, honours, and benefits which flow from them. No one has ever adequately described either in verse or prose the true essential nature of either of them abiding in the soul, and invisible to any human or divine eye. No one has shown that of all the things of a man's soul which he has within him, justice is the greatest good and injustice the greatest evil. Had this been the universal strain, had you sought to persuade us of this from our youth upward, we should not have been on the watch to keep one another from doing wrong. Rather, everyone would have been his own watchman because afraid, if he did wrong, of harbouring in himself the greatest of evils.

I dare say that Thrasymachus and others would seriously use words even stronger than those I have been merely repeating with the intention of perverting the true nature of justice and injustice. But I speak in this vehement manner only because I want to hear from you the opposite side. I would ask you to show not only the superiority which justice has over injustice, but what effect they have on the possessor of them which makes the one to be a good and the other an evil to him. And please, as Glaucon requested of you, exclude reputations: for unless you take away from each of them his true reputation and add on the false, we shall say that you do not praise justice, but the appearance of it. We shall think that you are only exhorting us to keep injustice dark, and that you really agree with Thrasymachus in thinking that justice is another's good and the interest of the stronger, and that injustice is a man's own profit and interest, though injurious to the weaker.

Now as you have admitted that justice is one of that highest class of goods which are desired, indeed, for their results, but in a far greater degree for their own sakes — like sight or hearing or knowledge or health, or any other real and natural and not merely conventional good — I would ask you in your praise of justice to regard one point only: I mean the essential good and evil which justice and injustice work in the possessors of them. Let others praise justice and censure injustice, magnifying the rewards and honours of the one and abusing the other. That is a manner of arguing which, coming from them, I am ready to tolerate. But from you, who have spent your whole life in the consideration of this question, unless I hear the contrary from your own lips, I expect something better. And therefore, I say, prove to us not only that justice is better than injustice, but show what either of them does to its possessor which makes the one to be a good and the other an evil — whether seen or unseen by gods and men.

A Daunting Task

I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus, but on hearing these words I was quite delighted, and said: Sons of an illustrious father, that was not a bad beginning of the elegiac verses which the admirer of Glaucon made in honour of you after you had distinguished yourselves at the battle of Megara: "Sons of Ariston, divine offspring of an illustrious hero."

The epithet is very appropriate, for there is something truly divine in being able to argue as you have done for the superiority of injustice, and remaining unconvinced by your own arguments. And I do believe that you are not convinced. This I infer from your general character, for had I judged only from your speeches I should have mistrusted you. But now, the greater my confidence in you, the greater is my difficulty in knowing what to say. On the one hand I feel that I am unequal to the task. My inability is brought home to me by the fact that you were not satisfied with the answer which I made to Thrasymachus, proving, as I thought, the superiority which justice has over injustice.

And yet I cannot refuse to help while breath and speech remain to me. I am afraid that there would be an impiety in being present when justice is ill spoken of and not lifting up a hand in her defence, and therefore I had best give such help as I can.

Glaucon and the rest entreated me by all means not to let the question drop, but to proceed in the investigation. They wanted to arrive at the truth: first, about the nature of justice and injustice; and secondly, about their relative advantages.

Justice in State

I told them that the inquiry would be of a serious nature, and would require very good eyes. Seeing then, I said, that we are no great wits, I think that we had better adopt a method which I may illustrate thus. Suppose that a short-sighted person were asked by someone to read small letters from a distance, and it occurred to someone else that they might be found in another place in which the letters were larger. If they were the same and he could read the larger letters first before proceeding to the lesser, this would be a rare piece of good fortune.

Very true, said Adeimantus; but how does the illustration apply to our inquiry?

I will tell you, I replied. Justice, which is the subject of our inquiry, is, as you know, sometimes spoken of as the virtue of an individual, and sometimes as the virtue of a State.

True, he replied.

And is not a State larger than an individual?

It is.

Then in the larger, the quantity of justice is likely to be larger and more easily discernible. I propose therefore that we inquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State and secondly in the individual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them.

That, he said, is an excellent proposal.

And if we imagine the State in process of creation, we shall see the justice and injustice of the State in process of creation also.

I dare say.

When the State is completed there may be a hope that the object of our search will be more easily discovered.

Yes, far more easily.

But ought we to attempt to construct one? To do so, as I am inclined to think, will be a very serious task. Reflect therefore.

I have reflected, said Adeimantus, and am anxious that you should proceed.

A Model Economic State

A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind. No one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants. Can any other origin of a State be imagined?

There can be no other.

Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed to supply them, one takes a helper for one purpose and another for another; and when these partners and helpers are gathered together in one habitation, the body of inhabitants is termed a State.

True, he said.

And they exchange with one another: one gives, and another receives, under the idea that the exchange will be for their good.

Very true.

Then, I said, let us begin and create the idea of a State, remembering that the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Of course, he replied.

Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence; the second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like.


And now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great demand. We may suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder, someone else a weaver. Shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to our bodily wants?

Quite right.

The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.


And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labours into a common stock? Will the individual husbandman, for example, produce for four, and labour four times as long and as much as he need in the provision of food with which he supplies others as well as himself. Or will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes, having no partnership with others but himself supplying all his own wants?


Adeimantus thought that he should aim at producing food only and not at producing everything.

Probably, I replied, that would be the better way; and when I hear you say this, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike. There are diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different occupations.

Very true.

And will you have a work better done when the workman has many occupations, or when he has only one?

When he has only one.

Further, can there be any doubt that a work is spoilt when not done at the right time?

No doubt.

For business is not disposed to wait until the doer of the business is at leisure. The doer must follow up what he is doing, and make the business his first object.

He must.

And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him and does it at the right time, and leaves other things. Then more than four citizens will be required: for the husbandman will not make his own plough or mattock or other implements of agriculture if they are to be good for anything. Neither will the builder make his tools, and in like manner the weaver and shoemaker.


Then carpenters and smiths and many other artisans will be sharers in our little State, which is already beginning to grow?


Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herdsmen, in order that our husbandmen may have oxen to plough with, and builders as well as husbandmen may have draught cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and hides — still our State will not be very large.

That is true; yet neither will it be a very small State which contains all these.

Then, again, there is the situation of the city. To find a place where nothing need be imported is well-nigh impossible, so there must be another class of citizens who will bring the required supply from another city?

There must.

But if the trader goes empty-handed, having nothing to trade for what he needs, he will come back empty-handed.

That is certain.

Therefore what they produce at home must be not only enough for themselves, but such both in quantity and quality as to accommodate those from whom their wants are to be supplied.

Very true.

Then more husbandmen and more artisans will be required?

They will.

Not to mention the importers and exporters, who are called merchants?


Then we shall want merchants?

We shall.

And if merchandise is to be carried over the sea, skilful sailors will also be needed, and in considerable numbers?

Yes, in considerable numbers.

Then, again, within the city, how will they exchange their productions? To secure such an exchange was, as you will remember, one of our principal objects when we formed them into a society and constituted a State.

Clearly they will buy and sell.

Then they will need a market-place, and a money-token for purposes of exchange.


Suppose now that a husbandman or an artisan brings some production to market, and he comes at a time when there is no one to exchange with him. Is he to leave his calling and sit idle in the market-place?

Not at all; he will find people there who, seeing the want, undertake the office of salesmen. In well-ordered States they are commonly those who are the weakest in bodily strength, and therefore of little use for any other purpose. Their duty is to be in the market, and to give money in exchange for goods to those who desire to sell, and to take money from those who desire to buy.

This want, then, creates a class of retail-traders in our State. Is not "retailer" the term which is applied to those who sit in the market-place engaged in buying and selling, while those who wander from one city to another are called merchants?

Yes, he said.

And there is another class of servants who are intellectually hardly on the level of companionship but have plenty of bodily strength for labour which they can sell. If I do not mistake, these are called hirelings, "hire" being the name which is given to the price of their labour. Then hirelings will help to make up our population?


And now, Adeimantus, is our State matured and perfected?

I think so.

Social Justice

Where, then, is justice, and where is injustice, and in what part of the State did they spring up?

Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another. I cannot imagine that they are more likely to be found anywhere else.

I dare say that you are right in your suggestion, I said. But we had better think the matter out, and not shrink from the inquiry. So let us first consider what will be their way of life, now that we have thus established them. Will they not produce corn and wine and clothes and shoes, and build houses for themselves? And when they are housed, they will work, in summer, commonly stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal and flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble cakes and loaves which they will serve up on a mat of reeds or on clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds strewn with yew or myrtle. And they and their children will feast, drinking of the wine which they have made, wearing garlands on their heads, and hymning the praises of the gods, in happy converse with one another. And they will take care that their families do not exceed their means, having an eye to poverty or war.

But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to their meal.

True, I replied, I had forgotten. Of course they must have a relish — salt and olives and cheese — and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare. For a dessert we shall give them figs and peas and beans. They will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation. And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.

Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how else would you feed the beasts?

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.

Comfort and Luxury

Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life. People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.

Yes, I said, now I understand. The question which you would have me consider is not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created. Possibly there is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever-heat, I have no objection. For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of life. They will be for adding sofas and tables and other furniture; also dainties and perfumes and incense and courtesans and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety. We must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses and clothes and shoes. The arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.

True, he said.

Then we must enlarge our borders, for the original healthy State is no longer sufficient. Now the city will have to fill and swell with a multitude of callings which are not required by any natural want. We shall have a whole tribe of hunters and actors, of whom one large class have to do with forms and colours; another will be the votaries of music — poets and their attendant train of rhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors, makers of divers kinds of articles, including women's dresses. And we shall want more servants. Will not tutors be also in request, and nurses wet and dry, tirewomen and barbers, as well as confectioners and cooks? Swineherds, too, who were not needed and therefore had no place in the former edition of our State, will be needed now and must not be forgotten. Also there will be animals of many other kinds, if people eat them.


And living in this way we shall have much greater need of physicians than before?

Much greater.

And the country which was enough to support the original inhabitants will be too small now, and not enough?

Quite true.

Then a slice of our neighbours' land will be wanted by us for pasture and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours — if, like ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth?

That, Socrates, will be inevitable.

Expansion and War

And so we shall go to war, Glaucon. Shall we not?

Most certainly, he replied.

Then, without determining as yet whether war does good or harm, we may affirm that war is derived from causes which are also the causes of almost all the evils in States, private as well as public.


Therefore our State must once more enlarge. This time the enlargement will be nothing short of a whole army, which will have to go out and fight with the invaders for all that we have, as well as for the things and persons whom we were describing above.

Why? he said. Are they not capable of defending themselves?

No, I said; not if we were right in the principle which was acknowledged by all of us when we were framing the State. The principle, as you will remember, was that one man cannot practise many arts with success.

Very true, he said.

But is not war an art?


And an art requiring as much attention as shoemaking?

Quite true.

And the shoemaker was not allowed by us to be a husbandman, or a weaver, or a builder — in order that we might have our shoes well made. To him and to every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature fitted, and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no other. He was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a good workman.

Now nothing can be more important than that the work of a soldier should be well done. But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan? No one in the world would be a good player at dice or draughts who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else. No tools will make a man a skilled workman or master of defence, nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention upon them. How, then, will he who takes up any implement of war become a good fighter in any kind of army all in a day?

Yes, he said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.

And the higher the duties of the guardian, I said, the more time and skill and art and application will be needed by him?

No doubt, he replied.

Will he not also require natural aptitude for his calling?


Then it will be our duty to select, if we can, natures which are fitted for the task of guarding the city? The selection will be no easy matter, but we must be brave and do our best.

We must.

Is not the noble youth very like a well-bred dog in respect of guarding and watching?

What do you mean?

I mean that both of them ought to be quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, they have to fight with him.

All these qualities, he replied, will certainly be required by them.

Your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well?


Is he likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or any other animal? Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?

I have.

So we now have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are required in the guardian, and his soul is to be full of spirit?


But are not these spirited natures apt to be savage with one another, and with everybody else?

A difficulty by no means easy to overcome, he replied.

A Difficult Balance

They ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends. If not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for their enemies to destroy them.

True, he said.

What is to be done, then? I said. How shall we find a gentle nature which has also a great spirit, for the one is the contradiction of the other? He will not be a good guardian who is wanting in either of these two qualities: and yet the combination of them appears to be impossible. Hence we must infer that to be a good guardian is impossible.

I am afraid that what you say is true, he replied.

Here, feeling perplexed, I began to think over what had preceded. My friend, I said, no wonder that we are in a perplexity. We have lost sight of the image which we had before us.

What do you mean? he said.

I mean to say that there do exist natures gifted with those opposite qualities.

And where do you find them?

Many animals, I replied, furnish examples of them. Our friend the dog is a very good one. You know that well-bred dogs are perfectly gentle to their familiars and acquaintances, and the reverse to strangers.

Yes, I know.

Then there is nothing impossible or out of the order of nature in our finding a guardian who has a similar combination of qualities?

Certainly not.

Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spirited nature, need to have the qualities of a philosopher?

I do not apprehend your meaning.

Philosophical Discrimination

The trait of which I am speaking, I replied, may be also seen in the dog, and is remarkable in the animal.

What trait?

Why, a dog, whenever he sees a stranger, is angry; when an acquaintance, he welcomes him — although the one has never done him any harm, nor the other any good. Did this never strike you as curious?

The matter never struck me before; but I quite recognize the truth of your remark.

And surely this instinct of the dog is very charming. Your dog is a true philosopher.


Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing.

Most assuredly.

And is not the love of learning the love of wisdom, which is philosophy?

They are the same, he replied.

And may we not say confidently of man also, that he who is likely to be gentle to his friends and acquaintances must by nature be a lover of wisdom and knowledge?

That we may safely affirm.

Then he who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength?