Translated by Benjamin Jowett
Having described the characteristics desirable in guardians wholly dedicated to the maintenance of freedom in the State, the discussion turns to policies for their nurture and education to ensure as far as possible that justice shall be preserved. The traditional curriculum of "music" for the soul and gymnastics for the body is considered. It is clearly intended that "music" shall range from bedtime stories to the works of classical poets, many of which must be excluded from study if the minds of young persons being trained for guardianship are not to be corrupted. The principal criteria for inclusion are that God (and/or the gods) must always be portrayed as eternally good and perfect and with a hatred of falsehood. Guardians must be brought up to have no fear of death and to be stoical in the face of adversity. They must be obedient to their commanders, self-controlled in sensual pleasures, exhibit no hint of avarice, and be pious with respect to the gods. Socrates pays much attention to literary style, preferring straighforward narration to impersonation. Certain types of music and rhythm are preferred for expression of a courageous and harmonious life; those which are conducive to dissolute or luxurious living must be avoided. Gymnastics and a simple diet are required to ensure that the healthy mind is balanced by a healthy vigorous body. The symptoms attendant on failure to pay sufficient attention to personal discipline are described, and there is trenchant criticism of what Socrates calls a "lingering death". The pragmatic medical philosophy of Asclepius and his sons is favoured. Neither valetudinarians nor litigious persons would receive much sympathy in Socrates' State. The aim of education is improvement of the soul and the harmonious integration of soul and body, combining thoughtful reflection with purposeful activity.
Then we have found the desired natures [for guardians of the state. Ed.]. Now that we have found them, how are they to be reared and educated? Is not this an inquiry which may be expected to throw light on the greater inquiry which is our final end How do justice and injustice grow up in States? We do not want either to omit what is to the point or to draw out the argument to an inconvenient length.
Adeimantus thought that the inquiry would be of great service to us.
Then, I said, my dear friend, the task must not be given up, even if somewhat long.
Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in story-telling. Our story shall be the education of our heroes.
By all means.
And what shall be their education? Can we find a better than the traditional sort? This has two divisions: gymnastics for the body, and music [Plato uses the word "music" in a general sense as referring the the "Muses" and therefore including poetry, painting, sculpture, etc., as well as musical sound. Ed.] for the soul.
Shall we begin education with music, and go on to gymnastics afterward?
By all means.
And when you speak of music, do you include literature or not?
And literature may be either true or false?
And the young should be trained in both kinds, and we begin with the false?
I do not understand your meaning, he said.
You know, I said, that we begin by telling children stories which, though not wholly destitute of truth, are in the main fictitious; and such stories are told them when they are not of an age to learn gymnastics.
That was my meaning when I said that we must teach music before gymnastics.
Quite right, he said.
You know also that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing, for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken.
And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas which for the most part are the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?
Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad. We will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such tales even more fondly than they mould the body with their hands, but most of those which are now in use must be discarded.
Of what tales are you speaking? he said.
You may find a model of the lesser in the greater, I said, for they are necessarily of the same type and there is the same spirit in both of them.
Very likely, he replied; but I do not as yet know what you would term the greater.
Those, I said, which are narrated by Homer and Hesiod and the rest of the poets, who have ever been the great story-tellers of mankind.
But which stories do you mean, he said, and what fault do you find with them?
A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and, what is more, a bad lie.
But when is this fault committed?
Whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods and heroes as when a painter paints a portrait not having the shadow of a likeness to the original.
Yes, he said, that sort of thing is certainly very blamable. But what stories do you mean?
First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies in high places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too. I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on him. [The reader is advised to consult an Encyclopaedia or the Internet to get the gist of this and other classical stories. In esoteric matters, Wikipedia is often more helpful (because less "constrained") than "academic" encyclopediae Ed.] The doings of Cronus, and the sufferings which in turn his son inflicted upon him, even if they were true, ought certainly not to be lightly told to young and thoughtless persons; if possible, they had better be buried in silence. But if there is an absolute necessity for their mention, a chosen few might hear them in exchange for a sacrifice large enough to ensure that the number of the hearers will be very few indeed.
Why, yes, said he, those stories are extremely objectionable.
Yes, Adeimantus; they are stories not to be repeated in our State. The young man should not be told that in committing the worst of crimes he is far from doing anything outrageous and is only following the example of the first and greatest among the gods.
I entirely agree with you, he said; in my opinion those stories are quite unfit to be repeated.
Neither, if we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for they are not true. We shall never mention the battles of the giants, nor let them be embroidered on garments. We shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends and relatives.
If they would only believe us, we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel between citizens. This is what old men and old women should begin by telling children, and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose them in a similar spirit. But the narrative of Hephaestus binding Hera his mother, or how on another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was being beaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer these tales must not be admitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an allegorical meaning or not. For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal. Anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable, and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.
There you are right, he replied; but if anyone asks where such models are to be found and of what tales you are speaking, how shall we answer him?
I said to him: You and I, Adeimantus, at this moment are not poets, but founders of a State. Now the founders of a State ought to know the general forms in which poets should cast their tales, and the limits which must be observed by them; but to make the tales is not their business.
Very true, he said; but what forms of theology do you mean?
Something of this kind, I replied. God is always to be represented as he truly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric, or tragic, in which the representation is given. [Plato uses "God" and "the gods" interchangeably. It seems likely that Plato himself was a monotheist whilst popular culture accepted a pantheon of gods. In reading Plato, the reader must distinguish between an absolute undefinable God and the many varieties of human ideas represented by "the gods". Ed.]
And is he not truly good and must he not be represented as such?
And no good thing is hurtful?
And that which is not hurtful hurts not?
And that which hurts not does no evil?
And can that which does no evil be a cause of evil?
And the good is advantageous?
And therefore the cause of well-being?
It follows, therefore, that the good is not the cause of all things, but of the good only?
Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert; but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur to men. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the good is to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be sought elsewhere, and not in him.
That appears to me to be most true, he said.
Then we must not listen to Homer or to any other poet who is guilty of the folly of saying that two casks "lie at the threshold of Zeus, full of lots, one of good, the other of evil lots," and that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two "sometimes meets with evil fortune, at other times with good"; but that to whomever is given the cup of unmingled ill, "him wild hunger drives o'er the beauteous earth"; and again: "Zeus, who is the dispenser of good and evil to us".
If anyone asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which was really the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athene and Zeus, or that the strife and contention of the gods were instigated by Themis and Zeus, he shall not have our approval. Neither will we allow our young men to hear the words of Aeschylus, that "God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy a house".
If a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe the subject of the tragedy in which these iambic verses occur or of the house of Pelops, or of the Trojan War, or on any similar theme, either we must not permit him to say that these are the works of God or, if they are of God, he must devise some explanation of them such as we are seeking. He must say that God did what was just and right, and they were the better for being punished.
But the poet is not to be permitted to say that those who are punished are miserable, and that God is the author of their misery. Rather, he may say that the wicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving punishment from God. That God, being good, is the author of evil to anyone is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard in verse or prose by anyone whether old or young in any well-ordered commonwealth. Such a fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.
I agree with you, he replied, and am ready to give my assent to the law.
Let this then be one of our rules and principles concerning the gods, to which our poets and reciters will be expected to conform: that God is not the author of all things, but of good only.
That will do, he said.
And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask you whether God is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now in another; or is he one and the same immutably fixed in his own proper image?
I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.
Well, I said. But if we suppose a change in anything, that change must be effected either by the thing itself or by some other thing?
And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered or discomposed. For example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame is least liable to be affected by meats and drinks; and the plant which is in the fullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or any similar causes.
And will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused or deranged by any external influence?
And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all composite things furniture, houses, garments: when good and well made, they are least altered by time and circumstances.
Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature or both, is least liable to suffer change from without?
But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?
Of course they are.
Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?
But may he not change and transform himself?
Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.
And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse and more unsightly?
If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.
Very true, Adeimantus. But then, would anyone, whether God or man, desire to make himself worse?
Then it is impossible that God should ever be willing to change. Being, as is supposed, the fairest and best that is conceivable, every god remains absolutely and forever in his own form.
That necessarily follows, he said, in my judgment.
Then, I said, my dear friend, let none of the poets tell us that "The gods, taking the disguise of strangers from other lands, walk up and down cities in all sorts of forms"; and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis. Neither let anyone, whether in tragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Hera disguised in the likeness of a priestess asking an alms "for the life-giving daughters of Inachus the river of Argos".
Let us have no more lies of that sort. Neither must we have mothers under the influence of the poets scaring their children with a bad version of these myths telling how certain gods, as they say, "go about by night in the likeness of so many strangers and in divers forms"; but let them take heed lest they make cowards of their children, and at the same time speak blasphemy against the gods.
Heaven forbid, he said.
But although the gods are themselves unchangeable, still by witchcraft and deception they may make us think that they appear in various forms?
Perhaps, he replied.
Well, but can you imagine that God will be willing to lie, whether in word or deed, or to put forth a phantom of himself?
I cannot say, he replied.
Do you not know, I said, that the true lie, if such an expression may be allowed, is hated of gods and men?
What do you mean? he said.
I mean that no one is willingly deceived in that which is the truest and highest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there, above all, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.
Still, he said, I do not comprehend you.
The reason is, I replied, that you attribute some profound meaning to my words. But I am only saying that deceiving or being deceived about the highest realities in the the soul, which is the highest part of themselves, and in that part of them to have and to hold the lie, is what mankind least like. That, I say, is what they utterly detest.
There is nothing more hateful to them.
And this ignorance in the soul of him who is deceived may be called the true lie. The lie in words is only a kind of imitation and shadowy image of a previous affection of the soul, not pure unadulterated falsehood. Am I not right?
The true lie is hated not only by the gods, but also by men?
Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful. An instance would be in dealing with enemies. Again, when those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then a lie is useful as a sort of medicine or preventive. Also, in the tales of mythology of which we were just now speaking, because we do not know the truth about ancient times, we make falsehood as much like truth as we can, and so turn it to account.
Very true, he said.
But can any of these reasons apply to God? Can we suppose that he is ignorant of antiquity, and therefore has recourse to invention?
That would be ridiculous, he said.
Then the lying poet has no place in our idea of God?
I should say not.
Or perhaps he may tell a lie because he is afraid of enemies?
That is inconceivable.
But he may have friends who are senseless or mad?
But no mad or senseless person can be a friend of God.
Then no motive can be imagined why God should lie?
Then the superhuman, and divine, is absolutely incapable of falsehood?
Then God is perfectly simple and true both in word and deed; he changes not; he deceives not, either by sign or word, by dream or waking vision.
Your thoughts, he said, are the reflection of my own.
You agree with me then, I said, that this is the second type or form in which we should write and speak about divine things. The gods are not magicians who transform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any way.
I grant that.
Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire the lying dream which Zeus sends to Agamemnon. Neither will we praise the verses of Aeschylus in which Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials "was celebrating in song her fair progeny whose days were to be long, and to know no sickness. And when he had spoken of my lot as in all things blessed of heaven, he raised a note of triumph and cheered my soul. And I thought that the word of Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy, would not fail. And now he himself who uttered the strain, he who was present at the banquet, and who said this he it is who has slain my son".
These are the kind of sentiments about the gods which will arouse our anger, and he who utters them shall be refused a chorus. Neither shall we allow teachers to make use of them in the instruction of the young intending, as we do, that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers of the gods and be like them.
I entirely agree, he said, in these principles, and promise to make them my laws.
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 upward 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 beside 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 revile, but rather to commend the world below, intimating to them that their descriptions are untrue, and will do harm to our future warriors.
That will be our duty, he said.
Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious passages, beginning with the verse: "I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor and portionless man than rule over all the dead who have come to naught". We must also expunge the verse which tells us how Pluto feared "lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should be 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, lamenting 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 them 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 which 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 men.
True, he said.
And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation of fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.
And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with the greatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.
Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.
Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men, and making them over to women (and not even to women who are good for anything), or to men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated by us to be the defenders of their country may scorn to do the like.
That will be very right.
Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depict Achilles, 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 bravest 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 anyone 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. 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 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 be 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 carried out.
In the next place our youth must be temperate?
Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience to commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?
Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer, "Friend sit still and obey my word", 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 Hera 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 what about that other tale of how Hephaestus, because of similar goings on, cast a chain around Ares and Aphrodite?
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:
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 gifts, or that when he had received payment he restored the dead body of Hector, but that without payment he was unwilling to do so.
Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be approved.
Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing these feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly attributed 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 be 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 offerings 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. Let us further compel the poets to declare either that these acts were done by them, or that they were not the sons of God; 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 altar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the peak of Ida", and who have "the blood of deities yet flowing in their veins". 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.
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 seem 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 are 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 anyone 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 tragedy.
You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not, what you failed to apprehend before is now made clear to you: that poetry and mythology are, in some cases, wholly imitative. Instances of this are supplied by tragedy and comedy. There is likewise the opposite style, in which the poet is the only speaker; of this the dithyramb affords the best example. 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 fail 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 labour.
Very right, he said.
Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing the offices of slaves?
They must not.
And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do the reverse of what we have just been prescribing, who scold or mock or revile one another in drink or out of drink; 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 behavior 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 he is, the more unscrupulous he will be. Nothing will be too bad for him: 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 hail, or the creaking of wheels, and pulleys, and the various sounds of flutes, pipes, trumpets, and all sorts of instruments: he will bark like a dog, bleat like a sheep, or crow like a cock; his entire art will consist in imitation of voice and gesture, and there will be very little narration.
That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.
These, then, are the two kinds of style?
And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is simple and has but slight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for their simplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks correctly, is always pretty much the same in style, and he will keep within the limits of a single harmony (for the changes are not great), and in like manner he will make use of nearly the same rhythm?
That is quite true, he said.
Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all sorts of rhythms if the music and the style are to correspond, because the style has all sorts of changes.
That is also perfectly true, he replied.
And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, comprehend all poetry, and every form of expression in words? No one can say anything except in one or other of them or in both together.
They include all, he said.
And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or one only of the two unmixed styles? or would you include the mixed?
I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.
Yes, I said, Adeimantus; but the mixed style is also very charming: and indeed the pantomimic, which is the opposite of the one chosen by you, is the most popular style with children and their attendants, and with the world in general.
I do not deny it.
But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our State, in which human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man plays one part only?
Yes; quite unsuitable.
And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall find a shoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot also, and a husbandman to be a husbandman and not a dicast also, and a soldier a soldier and not a trader also, and the same throughout?
True, he said.
And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who are so clever that they can imitate anything, comes to us, and makes a proposal to exhibit himself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as a sweet and holy and wonderful being. But we must also inform him that in our State such as he are not permitted to exist; the law will not allow them. And so when we have anointed him with myrrh, and set a garland of wool upon his head, we shall send him away to another city. For we mean to employ for our souls' health the rougher and severer poet or story-teller who will imitate the style of the virtuous only, and will follow those models which we prescribed at first when we began the education of our soldiers.
We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.
Then, 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.
Everyone can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to be consistent with ourselves.
I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the word "everyone" 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 presuppose?
Yes, he said; so much as that you may.
And as for the words, there will surely be no difference between words which are and which are not set to music; both will conform to the same laws, and these have been already determined by us?
And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?
We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we had no need of lamentation 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; they are of no use, even to women who have a character to maintain, 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 "relaxed."
Well, and are these of any military use?
Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so, the Dorian and the Phrygian are the only ones which you have left.
I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or death or is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to endure; and another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to persuasion or entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when by prudent conduct he has attained his end, not carried away by his success, but acting moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I say, leave.
And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I was just now speaking.
Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?
I suppose not.
Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners and complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed, curiously harmonized instruments?
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 harmonies.
But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are framed, just as in sounds there are four notes 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 [a Greek musicologist of the fifth century BCE. Ed.] 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 likeness.
That is quite true, he said.
But shall our superintendence go no further, and are only the poets 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. 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. He who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature and while with a true taste 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 even in the days of his youth before he is able to know the reason why. When reason comes, he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.
Yes, he said. I quite agree with you in thinking that our youth should be trained in music and on the grounds which you mention.
Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring sizes and combinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they occupy a space large or small, but everywhere eager to make them out. We did not think ourselves perfect in the art of reading until we recognized them wherever they were found.
Or, as we recognized the reflection of letters in the water, or in a mirror, only when we knew the letters themselves: the same art and study gave 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 of temperance, courage, liberality, magnificence, and their kindred, as well as the contrary forms in all their combinations, and can recognize 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 harmonizes with a beautiful form, and the two are cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye to see it?
The fairest indeed.
And the fairest is also the loveliest?
That may be assumed.
And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with the loveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?
That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there be any merely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and will love all the same.
I perceive, I said, that you have 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 sensual love?
No, nor a madder.
Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order temperate and harmonious?
Quite true, he said.
Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?
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 gymnastics, in which our youth are next to be trained.
Gymnastics 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 greatest contest of all are they not?
Yes, he said.
And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?
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 gymnastics is twin sister of that simple music which we were just now describing.
Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastics which, like our music, is simple and good; and especially the military gymnastics.
What do you mean?
My meaning may be learned from Homer. He, you know, feeds his heroes at their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers' fare; they have no fish, although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not allowed boiled meats, but only roast, which is the food most convenient for soldiers, requiring only that they should light a fire, and not involving the trouble of carrying about pots and pans.
And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular; all professional athletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good condition should take nothing of the kind.
Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.
Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements of Sicilian cookery?
I think not.
Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to have a Corinthian girl as his fair friend?
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 rhythms.
There, complexity engendered license and here, disease. Simplicity in music was the parent of temperance in the soul; simplicity in gymnastics of health in the body.
Most true, he said.
But when intemperance and diseases 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 the want of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad [i.e. to a specialist. Ed.] 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 new-fangled names to diseases.
Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the days of Asclepius. This I infer from the circumstance that the hero Eurypylus, after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine well besprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainly inflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke Patroclus, who is treating his case.
Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a person in his condition.
Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former days, as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius did not practise our present system of medicine, which may be said to educate diseases. But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by a combination of training and doctoring found out a way of torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.
How was that? he said.
By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which he perpetually tended. As recovery was out of the question, he passed his entire life as a valetudinarian. He could do nothing but attend upon himself, and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything from his usual regimen; and so dying hard, by the help of science he struggled on to old age.
A rare reward of his skill!
Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understood that 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 that 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 someone 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. Therefore, bidding goodbye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution fails, 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? 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 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 gymnastics, 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, irreconcileable with any kind of study or thought or self-reflection. There is a constant suspicion that headache and giddiness are to be ascribed to philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial of virtue in the higher sense is absolutely stopped, for a man is always fancying that he is being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of his body.
Yes, likely enough.
And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the power of his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy constitution and habits of life, had a definite ailment. Such as these he cured by purges and operations, and bade them live as usual, herein consulting the interests of the State. 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 the man 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 afterward 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 his habits; 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 he 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? Are not the best judges in like manner those who are acquainted with all sorts of moral natures?
Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do you know whom I think good?
Will you tell me?
I will, if I can. Let me, however, note that in the same question you join two things which are not the same.
How so? he asked.
Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skilful physicians are those who, from their youth upward, 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. He should not have associated with them from youth upward, and to have gone through the whole calendar of crime, merely 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. 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 among 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 unreasonable suspicions. He cannot recognize 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, wise rather 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 will sanction in your State. They will minister to better natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.
That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.
And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music which, as we said, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.
And the musician who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise the simple gymnastics, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some extreme case.
That I quite believe.
The very exercises and toils 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 gymnastics really designed, as is often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for 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 gymnastics, or the opposite effect of an exclusive devotion to music?
In what way shown? he said.
The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of softness and effeminacy, I replied.
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of a savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is good for him.
Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightly educated, would give courage but, if too much intensified, is liable to become hard and brutal.
That I quite think.
On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness. And this also, when too much indulged, will turn to softness; but, if educated rightly, will be gentle and moderate.
And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?
And both should be in harmony?
And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?
And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?
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, when 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 impractical.
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 he becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens? If he does nothing else, and holds no converse with the muses, even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no taste of any sort of learning or inquiry or thought or culture, grows feeble and dull and blind. Because his mind never wakes up or receives nourishment, his senses are never purged of their mists.
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy. Being uncivilized, he can never use the weapon of persuasion. He is like a wild beast, all violence and fierceness, because he knows no other way of dealing. He lives in all ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.
That is quite true, he said.
As there are two principles of human nature, the spirited and 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 harmonized.
That appears to be the intention.
And he who mingles music with gymnastics in the fairest proportions, and best attempers them to the soul, may rightly be 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 always be 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.