1 Glaucon, to whom Socrates was talking, was the son of Ariston. Ariston
means literally best.
a See Book IV., 435-442.
384 PLATO THE TEACHER
with which he is angry ; the third, having many forms, has no
single name, but is termed appetitive, from the extraordinary
strength and vehemence of the pleasures of eating and drinking
„ and the other sensual appetites ; also money loving, be-
cause this sort of desires can only be gratified by the
help of money.
That is true, he said.
If we were to say that the loves and pleasures of this third
part of the soul were concerned with gain, we should then be
able to fall back on a single class ; and might truly describe
this part of the soul as loving gain or money.
Yes, I should say that.
Again, is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling
and conquering and getting fame?
Suppose we call that contentious or ambitious — would the
term be suitable ?
On the other hand, every one sees that the principle of
knowledge is wholly directed to the truth, and cares less than
any of the others for gain or fame ?
" True lover of wisdom," " lover of knowledge," are titles
which are rightly applicable to that part of the soul ?
One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men, an-
other in others, just as may happen ?
Then we may assume that there are three classes of men —
lovers of wisdom, lovers of ambition, lovers of gain?
And there are three kinds of pleasures, which are their
several objects ?
Now, if you examine the three classes, and ask of them in
turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each of them will be
found praising his own and depreciating that of others : the
money-maker will contrast the vanity of honor or of learning
with the solid advantages of gold and silver?
True, he said.
And the lover of honor — what will be his opinion ? Will
THE REPUBLIC 385
he not think that the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the
pleasure of learning, which has no meed of honor, he regards
as all smoke and nonsense ?
True, he said.
But may we not suppose, I said, that philosophy estimates
other pleasures as nothing in comparison with the pleasure of
knowing the truth, and in that abiding, ever learning, in the
pursuit of truth, not far indeed from the heaven of pleasure ?
The other pleasures the philosopher disparages by calling them
necessary, meaning that if there were no necessity for them,
he would not have them.
There ought to be no doubt about that, he replied.
Since, then, the pleasures of each class and the life of each
are in dispute, and the question is not which life is more or
less honorable, or better or worse, but which is the more ~
pleasant or painless — how shall we know ?
I cannot tell, he said.
Well, but what ought to be the criterion ? Is any better
than experience and wisdom and reason ?
There cannot be a better, he said.
Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has
the greatest experience of all the pleasures which we enumer-
ated ? Has the lover of gain greater experience of the pleas-
ure of knowledge derived from learning the nature of the truth
than the philosopher has of the pleasure of gain ?
The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage ; for
he has always known the taste of the other pleasures from his
youth upwards : but the lover of gain in all his experience has
not of necessity tasted — or, I should rather say, could hardly
have tasted by any process of learning the nature of things —
the sweetness of intellectual pleasures.
Then the lover of wisdom has a great advantage over the
lover of gain, for he has a double experience ?
Very great indeed.
Again, has the philosopher greater experience of the pleas-
ures of honor, or the lover of honor of the pleasures of knowl-
Nay, he said, they are all honored in proportion as they
attain their object ; for the rich man and the brave man and
the wise man alike have their crowd of worshippers, and as
they all receive honor they all have experience of the pleas-
386 PLATO THE TEACHER
ures of honor, but the delight which is to be found in
the knowledge of true being is known to the philosopher
His experience, then, will enable him to judge better than
any one ?
And he is the only one who has wisdom as well as experi-
The very faculty which is the instrument of judgment is not
possessed by the covetous or avaricious man, but only by the
What faculty ?
Reason, which, as we were saying, ought to have the de-
And reasoning is peculiarly his instrument ?
If wealth and gain were the criterion, then what the lover
of gain praised and blamed would surely be truest ?
Or if honor or victory or courage, in that case the ambi-
tious or contentious would decide best ?
But since experience and wisdom and reason are the judges,
the inference of course is, that the truest pleasures are those
which are approved by the lover of wisdom and reason. And
„ so we arrive at the result, that the pleasure of the intel-
o ligent part of the soul is the pleasantest of the three, and
that he in whom this is the ruling principle has the
Unquestionably, he said, the wise man has the fullest right
to approve of his own life.
And what does the judge affirm to be the life which is next,
and the pleasure which is next ?
Clearly that of the soldier and lover of honor : that is
nearer to himself than that of the trader.
Last comes the lover of gain.
Very true, he said.
Twice, then, has the just man overthrown the unjust ; and
now comes the third trial, which is sacred to the Olympic
THE REPUBLIC 387
saviour Zeus 8 : a sage whispers in my ear that no pleasure
except that of the wise is quite true and pure — all others are a
shadow only ; and this will surely prove the greatest and most
decisive of falls ?
Yes, the greatest ; but will you explain how this is ?
[Socrates leads a discussion intended to prove that the pleas-
ures of the sensual and also of the spirited part of man's nature
are less real and less satisfying than those of the rational part.
He continues : ]
Those then who know not wisdom and virtue, and are
always busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up
again as far as the mean ; and in this space they move
at random throughout life, but they never pass into the
true upper world ; thither they neither look, nor do they ever
find their way, neither are they truly filled with true being,
nor do they taste of true and abiding pleasure. Like brute
animals, with their eyes down and bodies bent to the earth or
leaning on the dining-table, they fatten and feed and breed,
and, in their excessive love of these delights, they kick and
butt at one another with horns and hoofs which are made
of iron ; and they kill one another by reason of their insati-
able lust. For they fill themselves with that which is not sub-
stantial, and the part of themselves which they fill is also un-
substantial and incontinent.
Verily, Socrates, said Glaucon, you describe the life of the
many like an oracle.
Their pleasures are mixed with pains. How can they be
otherwise ? For they are mere images and shadows of the
true, and are colored only by contrast, and this way of look-
ing at them doubly exaggerates them, and implants in the
minds of fools insane desires of them j and they are fought
about as Stesichorus says that the Greeks fought about the
shadow of Helen at Troy 4 in ignorance of the truth.
Yes, inevitably, he said ; that is the way.
3 One of the titles of Zeus was saviour. The third cup of wine was dedicated
to him. To drink this cup came to be a symbol of good luck, and the third
time came to mean the lucky time. In allusion to this Socrates says the
third victory of the just man should be dedicated to the Olympian saviour.
4 See Phaedrus, note 37. According to Stesichorus, Paris did not carry
to Troy the real Helen, but only a phantom of her created by the goddess
Hera (he'ra), the Roman Juno.
388 PLATO THE TEACHER
And must not the like happen with the spirited or passion-
ate element of the soul ? Will not the passionate man be in
the like case, if he carries his passion into act, either because
he is envious and ambitious, or violent and contentious, or
angry and discontented, and is seeking to attain honor and
victory and the satisfaction of his anger without reason or
Yes, he said, the same will happen with the spirited element
Then may we not confidently assert that the lovers of money
and honor, when they seek their pleasures under the guidance
and in the company of reason, and pursue after and win the
pleasures which wisdom shows them, will also have the truest
pleasures in the highest degree which is attainable to them, in-
asmuch as they follow truth ; and they will also have those
which are natural to them, if that which is best to each one is
also most natural to him ?
Yes, certainly ; the best is the most natural.
Then, when the whole soul follows the philosophical princi-
ple, and there is no division, the several parts each of them
8 do their own business, and are just, and each of them
enjoy their own best and truest pleasures ?
But when either of the other principles prevails, it fails in
attaining its own pleasure, and compels the others to pursue
after a shadow of pleasure which is not theirs?
And the greater the interval which separates them from phi-
losophy and reason, the more strange and illusive will be the
And that is farthest from reason which is at the greatest dis-
tance from law and order.
And the lustful and tyrannical desires are at the greatest dis-
And the royal and orderly desires are nearest ?
Then the tyrant will live most unpleasantly, and the king
THE REPUBLIC 389
Would you know the measure of the interval between them ?
If you will tell me.
There appear to be three pleasures, one genuine and two
spurious ; now the transgression of the tyrant reaches a point
beyond the spurious ; he has run away from the region of law
and reason, and taken up his abode with certain slave pleasures
which are his satellites, and the measure of his inferiority can
only be expressed in a figure.
[Here follows a curious, perhaps humorous, calculation to
prove that the good king is 729 times happier than the tyrant.]
What a wonderful calculation ! And how enormous is the
interval which separates the just from the unjust in 88
regard to pleasure and pain !
Yet a true calculation, I said, and a number which nearly
concerns human life, if human life is concerned with days and
nights and months and years.
Yes, he said, human life is certainly concerned with them.
Then if the good and just man be thus superior in pleasure
to the evil and unjust, his superiority will be infinitely greater
in propriety of life and in beauty and virtue?
Immeasurably greater, indeed, he said.
Well, I said, and now we have arrived at this point I may
resume the beginning of the argument, which arose out of
some one saying that injustice was a gain to the perfectly un-
just who was reputed to be just. Was not that said ?
Yes, that was said.
Come then, I said, and now that we have determined the
power and quality of justice and injustice, let us have a word
What shall we say to him ?
Let us make an image of the soul, that he may have his own
words presented before his eyes.
What sort of an image ?
An ideal image of the soul, like the creations of ancient
mythology, such as the Chimera 5 or Scylla 6 or Cerberus, 7 or
8 See Phaedrus, note 16.
8 Scylla (syl'la) : a sea-monster, variously described, usually with six
heads, and lower limbs of barking dogs and serpents.
7 Cerberus (sSr'be-rus), a many-headed dog with serpents about his neck,
stationed at the entrance to Hades. Different poets describe him differently.
390 PLATO THE TEACHER
any other in which two or more different natures are said to
grow into one.
There are said to have been such unions.
Then do you now model the form of a multitudinous, poly-
cephalous 8 beast, having a ring of heads of all manner of
beasts, tame and wild, which he is able to generate and met-
amorphose at will.
That, he said, implies marvelous powers in the artist ; but,
as language is more pliable than wax or similar substances, I
have done as you say.
Suppose now that you make a second form as of a lion, and
a third of a man, the second smaller than the first, and the
third smaller than the second.
That, he said, is an easier task ; and I have made them as
Then now join them, and let the three grow into one.
That has been accomplished.
Now fashion the outside into a single image, as of a man,
so that he who is not able to look within, and sees only the
outer hull or vessel, may believe the beast to be a single
That is completed, he said.
And now let us say to him who maintains the profitable-
ness of justice and the unprofitableness of injustice, that his
RQ doctrine amounts to this : he is asserting that his inter-
est is to feast and strengthen the lion and the lion-like
qualities and to starve and weaken the man ; who in conse-
quence of this is at the mercy of either of the other two, and
he is not to attempt to familiarize or harmonize them with one
another : he ought rather to suffer them to fight and bite and
devour one another.
Certainly, he said ; that is what the approver of injustice says.
To him the supporter of justice makes answer that he
ought rather to aim in all he says and does at strengthening
the man within him, in order that he may be able to govern
the many-headed monster. Like a good husbandman he
should be watching and tending the gentle shoots, and pre-
venting the wild ones from growing ; making a treaty with
the lion-heart, and uniting the several parts with one another
and with themselves.
THE REPUBLIC 391
Yes,hesaid, that is quite what the maintainer of justice will say.
And in every point of view, whether of pleasure, honor, or
advantage, the approver of justice is right and speaks the truth,
and the disapprover is wrong, and false, and ignorant ?
Come, now, and let us reason with the unjust, who is not
intentionally in error. " Sweet Sir," we will say to him,
" what think you of the noble and ignoble? Is not the noble
that which subjects the beast to the man, or rather to the god
in man ; and the ignoble that which subjects the man to the
beast ? " He can hardly avoid admitting this, — can he now?
Not if he has any regard for my opinion.
But, if he admit this, we may ask him another question :
How would a man profit if he received gold and silver on the
condition that he was to enslave the noblest part of him to
the worst ? Who can imagine that a man who sold his son
or daughter into slavery for money, especially if he sold them
into the hands of fierce and evil men, would be the gainer, how-
ever large might be the sum which he received ? And will
any one say that he is not a miserable caitiff who sells his _
own divine being to that which is most atheistical and
detestable, and has no pity ? Eriphyle 9 took the necklace as
the price of her husband's life, but he is taking a bribe in
order to compass a worse ruin.
Yes, said Glaucon, far worse, I will answer for him.
Is not intemperance censured, I said, because in this con-
dition that huge multiform monster is allowed to be too much
And pride and sullenness are blamed, as occasioning the
growth and increase of the lion and serpent element out of
And luxury and softness are blamed, because they relax and
weaken this same element, and make a man a coward ?
9 Eriphyle (eVi-fy'le) : according to legend, the sister of King Adrastus of
Argos, and wife of Amphiarus, a sooth-sayer. It was agreed that when
husband and brother differed in opinion, Eriphyle should decide between
them. Once when the question was whether Amphiarus should go to a war,
Eriphyle, for the bribe of a precious necklace, decided that he must go,
though she knew from her husband's prophecy that he could not return alive.
392 PLATO THE TEACHER
And is not a man reproached for flattery and meanness who
subordinates the spirited animal to the unruly monster, and,
for the sake of money, of which he can never have enough,
habituates him in the days of his youth to be trampled in the
mud, and from being a lion to become a monkey ?
True, he said.
And why are vulgarity and handicraft arts a reproach?
Only because they imply a natural weakness of the higher
principle, and the individual is unable to control the creatures
within him, but has to court them, and his only study is how
to flatter them ? 10
That appears to be true.
And, therefore, that he may be under the same rule as the
best, we say that he ought to be the servant of the best ; not,
as Thrasymachus supposed, to the injury of him who served,
but because every one had better be ruled by divine wisdom
dwelling within him ; or, if that be impossible, then by an
external authority, in order that we may be all, as far as possi-
ble, under the same government ?
True, he said.
And this is clearly seen to be the intention of the law,
which is the ally of the whole city ; and is seen also in the
authority which is exerted over children, and the refusal
to allow them to be free until the time when, as in a
State, we have given them a constitution, and by cultivation
of the higher element have established in their hearts a watch-
man and ruler like our own, and when this is done they may
go their ways.
Yes, he said, that is a further proof.
In what point of view, then, and on what ground shall a
man be profited by injustice or intemperance or other base-
ness, even though he acquire money or power ?
There is no ground on which this can be maintained ?
What shall he profit, if his injustice be undetected ? for he
who is undetected only gets worse, whereas he who is detected
and punished has the brutal part of his nature silenced and
humanized ; the gentler element in him is liberated, and his
whole soul is perfected and ennobled by the acquirement of
justice and temperance and wisdom, more than the body ever
is by receiving gifts of beauty, strength, and health, in pro-
portion as the soul is more honorable than the body.
»« See Book VI., 496.
THE REPUBLIC 393
Certainly, he said.
The man of understanding will concentrate himself on this
as the work of life. And in the first place, he will honor
studies which impress these qualities on his soul, and will dis-
regard others ?
Clearly, he said.
In the next place, he will keep under his body, and so far
will he be from yielding to brutal and irrational pleasures, that
he will regard even health as quite a secondary matter ; his
first object will be not that he may be fair or strong or well,
unless he is likely thereby to gain temperance, but he will be
always desirous of preserving the harmony of the body for the
sake of the concord of the soul ?
Certainly, he replied, that he will, if he has true music in him.
And there is a principle of order and harmony in the acqui-
sition of wealth ; this also he will observe, and will not allow
himself to be dazzled by the opinion of the world, and heap
up riches to his own infinite harm ?
I think not, he said.
He will look at the city which is within him, and take care
to avoid any change of his own institutions, such as might
arise either from abundance or from want j and he will duly
regulate his acquisition and expense, in so far as he is able ?
And for the same reason, he will accept such honors
as he deems likely to make him a better man ; but those
which are likely to disorder his constitution, whether private
or public honors, he will avoid ?
Then, if this be his chief care, he will not be a politician.
By the dog of Egypt, he will ! in the city which is his own,
though in his native country perhaps not, unless some provi-
dential accident should occur.
I understand ; you speak of that city of which we are the
founders, and which exists in idea only; for I do not think
that there is such an one anywhere on earth ?
In heaven, I replied, there is laid up a pattern of such a
city, and he who desires may behold this, and beholding, gov-
ern himself accordingly. But whether there really is or ever
will be such an one is of no importance to him ; for he will
act according to the laws of that city and of no other ?
True, he said.
394 PLATO THE TEACHER
Of the many excellences which I perceive in the
607" or( ^ er °f our State, there is none which upon reflection
pleases me better than the rule about poetry.
What rule ?
The rule about rejecting imitative poetry, which certainly
ought not to be received ; as I see far more clearly now
that the parts of the soul have been distinguished.
What do you mean by that ?
Speaking in confidence, for I should not like to have my
words repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative
tribe — but I do not mind saying to you that all poetical imi-
tations are a sort of outrage on the understanding of the
hearers, and that the only cure of this is the knowledge of
their true nature.
Explain the purport of your remark.
Well, I will tell you : although I have always from my
earliest youth had an awe and love of Homer, which even
now makes the words falter on my lips, for he is the great
captain and teacher of all that goodly band of Xragic writers ;
but a man is not to be reverenced before the truth, and there-
fore I will speak out.
Very good, he said.
Listen to me then, or rather, answer me.
Put your question.
Can you tell me what imitation is ?
[Glaucon is afraid to reply and Socrates undertakes to ex-
plain as follows :
There are many beds in the world. They are all different,
but all conform to a common plan or idea of what a bed
should be. The makers of the beds have this idea in mind,
but they themselves do not create the idea. The idea or per-
fect type is created by God. The beds which the carpenter
makes are imperfect copies of the one perfect type. All car-
penters are therefore imitators.
Again, the painter makes a picture of the bed. In so do-
ing he imitates not the original bed or type made by God,
THE REPUBLIC 395
but the imperfect copy made by the carpenter. Moreover a
bed may be looked at from many points of view and appears
different from each. The painter represents it as it appears
from one point only. To take another instance, a painter
may~paint a cobbler or a carpenter, though he knows nothing
of their arts. Therefore we see the art of painting is an imi-
tation of appearances and the creations of the painter are far
removed from reality or truth. In this sense any one may
be a creator who catches in a mirror the reflection of the sun,
or earth or anything else.
The poets are likewise imitators. They write charmingly
about all the arts and virtues, but it is impossible from the
very nature of knowledge for one person to know all these
things. Moreover, any one who is able to make the original
surely would not devote himself to making copies. The
poet who had true knowledge of the arts and virtues, would
leave many fair works as memorials of himself, instead of
singing the praises of others who do accomplish these works.
H omer, in h is poems , deals with politics, education, military
tactics, and the lik e. If he had had a knowledge of his sub-
jects, if, for example, he had been a legislator or general, he
would have made laws for the better government of some State
or given his counsel in war. In reality, he did no public
service nor did he act as guide and teacher to his friends. If
Homer or Hesiod had been able to educate and improve man-
kind, they would have had many loving disciples who would
not have allowed them to go about begging, or else would
have followed them about in order to get an education. Now
since none of these good works or good counsels may be as-
cribed to the poets, we may infer that they all, beginning with
Homer, have been imitators. As a painter who understands
nothing of cobbling may make the likeness of a cobbler, so
the poets, in the color of language, present images of virtue
and many arts whose nature they understand only enough to