Translated (1892) by BENJAMIN JOWETT (1817-1893), Annotation of text copyright 2009 David Trumbull, Agathon Associates. All Rights Reserved.

This work is called in Greek POLITEIA which indicates the topic is the governance of the polis or city-state. The Romans called it Res Publica, the public business, from which we get our term Republic to describe a state in which the people rule. Alternatively the work is known as The Dialogue on Justice. Plato (428/427348/347 B.C.) is thought to have written the dialogue around the 370s. The dialogue is set in the home of Cephalus and his son Polemarchus who was killed by the Thirty Tyrants who came to power in Athens in 404 B.C. at the end of the Pelopponesian War, placing the setting of the dialogue around the end of the War and the defeat of Athens, or 30 some years before its composition.

The division of the works into ten books is ancient, though not dating back to the time of Plato. Scholars customarily refer to passages in the work using "Stephanus" numbers, a system of reference and organization used in modern editions and translations of Plato (and of Plutarch) -- based on the pagination of a 1579 edition of Plato by Henricus Stephanus (Henri Estienne). For this online version we have omitted the Stephanus numbers as unnecessarily cumbersome for the non-specialist reader. Our summary which follows divides each book into a few logical sections, numbered for the reader's convenience.


Prologue. Socrates and friends agree to sup at the house of Polemarchus. While there Socrates asks the older, presumably wise, and wealthy Cephalus whether old age is the burden some say it is.

1. Cephalus Holds That Justice Is Paying One's Debts. Cephalus replies that life is what one makes of it, but for a just man old age is no burden, whether he be poor, or, as is Cephalus, rich. Cephalus having raised the issue of money, Socrates asks him about the benefits of having wealth, to which Cephalus replies that wealth makes for peace of mind for the wealthy man -- who need not die in debt to men or having failed to offer sacrifices to the gods -- can approach death knowing he has done justice in life. Socrates quickly demonstrates that justice must mean more than simply paying one's debts by setting forth the example of a man who left a weapon with you when in his right might and who now, in a state of derangement and thoughts of self-destructions asks for return of what is his.

2. Polemarchus Holds That Justice is Giving To Each His Due, Good to Friends and Evil to Foes. The aged man Cephalus departs and his son Polemarchus attempts a refinement of his father's argument, holding that justice is giving to each his due, good to friends and evil to enemies. Socrates points out in example after example that good is done a friend and evil done a foe when some specific skill -- medical healing, culinary arts, navagation at sea, etc. -- is applied or not applied to a need at hand and he asks Polemarchus what is the need to which justice is the answer. Polemarchus asserts that justice is needed in contracts involving money, to which Socrates responds on the contrary, what is needed in financial matters is knowledge of the subject of the contract, whether it be a transaction involving real estate, horses, ships, and so forth, to which Polemarchus must assent. This forces Polemarchus to conclude that justice is needed in money matters when the money or the article bought with the money is to lie idle and the only concern is the return of the money or article upon demand. From these concessions Socrates forces Polemarchus to the conclusion that his definition of justice as "giving to each his due" restricts justice to a very small realm, that of matters concerning useless, that is not employed money or articles. Further, Socrates points out that if justice is nothing more than the ability to exercise careful guardianship of things unwanted until they be wanted, and, as everyone knows theives, are experts on the methods by which things are guarded, Polemarchus' assertions regarding justice lead to the conclusion that a thief is the man most expert in the exercise of justice, a conclusion that Polemarchus is unable to refute, leaving him speechless.

Although Socrates has shown Polemarchus that his definition of justice -- giving to each his due -- leads to such contradictory conclusions, Polemarchus is unwilling to abandon this argument, so Socrates attacks it on a different front, asking Polemarchus whether the just man should do good to those who seem his friends or to those who truly are his friends? Likewise, with regard to enemies, Socrates asks, does Polemarchus mean enemies in perception or enemies in fact? Polemarchus responds that a man's friends are those he regards as good and enemies those he regards as evil. To Socrates reminder that one's judgment regarding men may be faulty Polemarchus concedes that his early statement that justice consists of doing good to friends and evil to enemies must be amended and that he now considers justice to be doing good to friends when they are good and evil to enemies when they are evil. To this Socrates responds with the question, Why should the just inflict evil or injury at all? Polemarchus in turn digs in and insists on his parallelism, if justice is doing good to friends who are good, then it follows that justice calls for inflicting injury on wicked enemies. But, says Socrates, if you injure a horse, the animal is deteriorated in the qualities that make for a good horse; likewise injuring a dog deteriorates the qualities that make for a good dog; therefore injuring a man deteriorates him in the quality that is proper to humans, that is, justice, but each art or science works to promote its one proper quality, so it is impossible that the operation of justice results in making men less, not more, just. Beaten Polemarchus abandons his thesis that justice consists of giving to each his due: to a good friend good, and to an evil enemey evil.

3. Thrasymachus Argues that Justice is the Interest of the Stronger. Thraysmachus begins by overthrowing the entire foundation on which the dialogue has, until this point, rested, the Socratic method of seeking knowledge through probing questions. As a sophist (the sophists, who taught philosophy for money, are often, in the Platonic dialogues, the antagonists to Socrates, who accepted no payment from his pupils) he will put forth in an authoritative manner, an answer to the question, "What is justice?", and he will, also in sophistic manner, defend that answer through the use of rhetoric.

Thrasymachus asserts that justice is whatever is in the interest of the stronger; by stronger, he explains, he means the governing power in any state. Subjects then are just insofar as they obey the rulers' laws. But, responds Socrates, if we grant, as we must, that the rulers are not infallible, the rulers may frame laws that are unintentionally contrary to their own interests, so that subjects who obey the rulers' laws, which Thrasymachus argued is the just thing to do, do so contrary to the interest of the stronger. To this Thrasymachus responds that the stronger decrees that only which is in his interest and if he err in some particular law as regard what is his interest, then for that moment he was not the stronger and that justice is done when the subject obeys the laws that are made by the ruler and are in the interest of the ruler.

Leaving unasked, as well as unanswered, the question of how to tell when the stronger is the stronger in the strict sense of acting in his own interest, and when he has lapsed and in error about his interest, Socrates pursues another question, What is the interest of the stronger? by naming some arts where the art is directed not to its own interest or that of the practitioner -- although the practitioner may also gain money from the art -- but to the interest of what the art pertains to -- for example, horsemanship is directed toward the improving of horses; medicine to the improving of an ailing body. Seeing that Socrates is building to the conclusion that the interest of the ruler is the good of the subjects, Thrasymachus says that the ruler is more like the shepherd who tends the flock not out of the interest of the flock but for the interst of his master and for the advantages to be had from the sheep when they are fattened. Thrasymachus also declares that Socrates is utterly mistaken in supposing that justice is a good to be sought. Rather, he says, the ruler, being stronger, is unjust, and uses his power to plunder the subjects and to enjoy the fruits of his injustice, and what we call justice is merely the weaker giving way to the interest of the stronger. Furthermore, Thrasymachus says he has the majority of human opinion with him in this, for people censor injustice not because they shrink from commiting it but because they fear being victims of it.

Socrates protests that Thrasymachus has been inconsistent. Just as horsemen and physicians get paid for the practice of their art but the interests of their arts are directed toward the good of horses or ailing bodies, so the art of shepherding has its interest in the care of sheep, notwithstanding that the shepherd may partake in the procedes of the slaughter. Similarly, the art of ruling, strictly speaking, has as its interest the good of the subjects, not the intersts of the ruler, as can be verified by the observation that, at least in the case of lower offices, men shun them and prefer not to take them on voluntarily. In every art, maintains Socrates, the interest of the art is particular to that art, and sometimes it is attended by an additional general art, the art of getting pay. To this Thrasymachus consents. Socrates then asserts that the art of governing then must have its particular interest apart from getting pay, and with that he returns to the point he made that men will sometimes take on the job of governing unwillingly.

Socrates asserts that no one desires to take on the responsibility of governing others without pay, and the pay can take three forms: money, honor, or penalty for refusing. Good men do not wish to appear to be greedy hirelings demanding payment. Equally, the good man eschews ambition, the unseemly striving after public honors. The good man takes on leadership because he fears the penalty for refusal, which is to be ruled by lesser men. Socrates further asserts that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would as much the object of men's intentions that obtaining office is at present, and that such a city wholly made up of good men would confirm Socrates' contention that the justice is the interest of the subjects, not, as says Thrasymachus, the interest of the stronger. However, it is another of Thrasymachus' assertions that Socrates is more intersted in contesting.

Thrasymachus has said that the life of the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just. Socrates holds the opposite opinion as does Glaucon. Socrates says, Well we can go on like this with Thrasymachus asserting one position and me another, but we have no way to judge which is correct, or, he continues, we can abandon the sophistic method of asserting authoritatively and defending with rhetoric and go back to the method of mutual questioning, and making admission to one another until an agreed truth emerges. Glaucon endorses this "Socratic" method and the rest of the dialogue will process along those lines.

Socrates starts from the conventional position that justice is virtuous and injustice vicious and asks Thrasymachus if he agrees. Thrasymachus rejects the categories of virtue and vice preferring to call justice "sublime simplicity" and injustice, "discretion." He calls the unjust wise and good insofar as he can subdue others to his interests. For that reason Thrasymachus ranks injustice as a virtue. Socrates suggests that perhaps Thrasymachus is merely practicing one of the rhetorical tricks of the sophists (we might say, being the Devil's advocate), but agrees to enter into contest with Thrasymachus over this inversion of customary classification. Socrates asks, Does the just man try to gain advantage over another just man, to which Thrasymachus replies, No. Then, asks Socrates, Would the just man try to gain advantage over an unjust man, to which Thrasymachus replies that he would try but would not be able. To Socrates' question about what would the unjust man do Thrasymachus replies that the unjust would try to gain advantage over all, just and unjust alike. So that, by Thrasymachus' reckoning, the just does not desire more than this like, but more than his unlike, whereas the unjust desires more than both his like and his unlike. Now Thrasymachus has earlier asserted that the unjust is wise and good, but Socrates points out that in other arts he who is wise and good at the art seeks to exceed one who is unlike, not one who is like, as for example a good piano tuner does not seek, by tuning higher or lower, to exceed how another good tuner would tune the string, but he does seek to exceed how someone who is tone-deaf would tune the string. Likewise, Socrates gets Thrasymachus to concede that the unskillful, not the skillful seeks to exceed both his like and unlike. From these admissions Socrates forces Thrasymachus to abandon his assertion the injustice is wise and good and justice foolish and worthless.

Socrates returns to Thrasymachus' assertion that injustice is stronger than justice saying that justice having been identified with wisdom and virtue is easily shown to be stronger than injustice. He asks Thrasymachus whether a state may be unjust and seek to enslave others. To this Thrasymachus replies Yes, and that the perfectly unjust state would be the most likely to so do, reasserting one of his earlier positions. Socrates questions whether a stronger state can exercise its power without justice or only with justice, pointing out that no state, or other group could act at all if they were perfectly injust for the individuals in the combination would fight among themselves. Thrasymachus has to agree that injustice creates divisions and justice imparts harmony, and concedes that this is so whether there be a large number of persons in the group or even merely two. Socrates suggests that injustice is of such a nature as to always result in disharmony, and being of its nature, injustice will result in disharmony even if in the case of an individual person. Therefore the perfectly injust person will be incapable of concerted action as he is not at unity with himself, and it follows that an unjust persons can cooperate to inflict evil only insofar as they retain some remnant of justice. However, this still leaves unaswered whether the just have a better and happier life.

Socrates puts forth that everything has its proper end or use, which could not be accomplished at all, or at least not so well, by any other thing, and that each thing fulfills its end by means of its proper excellence or virtue. In the case of the soul, its end is superintending, commanding, deliberating, and the like. Therefore an evil soul will be an evil ruler and a good soul a good ruler. From Thrasymachus' early concession that justice is the soul's virtue or excellence, we conclude that the just soul, being a good ruler of the man, enables the just man to live well, as the unjust man will live ill.

Socrates concludes Book I by summarizing. He has demonstrated that justice is virtue and wisdom, as opposed to evil and folly. He has also demonstrated that justice conveys some advantage to a man, compared to injustice. But we have not what justice is, nor whether we can say the just man is happier than the unjust.


1. Glaucon Holds That Justice Is Merely A Social Contract.

Glaucon argues that there three classes of good: (1) goods that are welcomed for their own sake independent of their consequences, as for example harmless enjoyments, (2) goods, such as knowledge or health, that are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results, and (3) goods that of themselves we regard as disagreealbe, such as physical exercise or hard work, that are good due to some reward which flows from them. Socrates ranks justice with the highest goods: those that good of themselves and on account of their results. Glaucon, on the other hand, argues that justice belongs in the third class, those things that are burdensome and would not be willingly taken on but for the promise of reward. Glaucon takes up the abandoned argument of Thrasymachus, that injustice is preferable to justice, and and offers to refrom and rehabitate it. Against the commonwealth stated, but not proven, argument that justice is good, Glaucon says that to do injustice is, by nature, good, but to suffer injustice is evil, and that the evil outweighs the good. The result is than men agree by convention and law to eschew doing evil in order to avoid suffering evil. So that justice is merely a compromise between the best case (being able to inflict injustice) and the worst case (being the victim of injustice), and is, therefore, not a good, but a lesser evil, which no man would choose if he believed he could get away with injustice with impugnity.

Glaucon related the Fable of the Ring of Gyges which conferred on the wearer the power to, at will, become invisible. Gyges used that power to seduce the Queen, conspire against the King, and win the Kingdom of Lydia. Glaucon argues that if such a ring existed the just and unjust man alike would, with the aid of the ring, commit injustice, for no one would be just if he could gain unfair advantage at no risk of detection or punishment. Next Glaucon illustrates his position by having us imagine two men, one perfectly just but with an undeserved reputation for injustice; the other totally injust and yet reputed to be thoroughly just. The just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound - will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled. Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to be, just. While the unjust man is thought just, and therefore bears rule in the city and has every material and social advantage. Out of his unjust gains he can benefit his friends, and harm his enemies; moreover, he can offer sacrifices, and dedicate gifts to the gods and therefore he is likely to be dearer than other men are to the gods. And thus, says Glaucon, gods and men are said to unite in making the life of the unjust better than the life of the just.

2. Adeimantus Argues The Utility Of Undected Injustice. Adeimantus endorses the assertion of his brother Glaucon than men are just because they fear detection and punishment for injustice, not because they prefer justice. He points out that parents and teachers charge children to do justice in order to cultivate a good reputation and all the material and social benefits that come with good reputation. If then reputation is all that matters with men, then there are professors of rhetoric who teach the art of persuading courts and assemblies so tht unlawful gains shall not be punished. And as for the gods and eternal rewards and punishments, we do not know if there truly be such, and if there are gods and a heaven and a hell all we know of them is from the ancient fables and poets, and they attest that the gods may be swayed by magnificent sacrifices, which can be paid for with our unjust gains.

3. Socrates Proposes To Discover Justice In A City-State. With Glaucon and Adeimantus re-asserting the arguments of Thrasymachus that Socrates had seemed to have defeated in Book I, Socrates proposes a different line of inquiry. If the question of justice in the individual is vexing, then perhaps studying justice in a larger organism, the state, will more readily yield satisfactory answers. Socrates says Let us create an imaginary state and see how justice comes to exist in the state. In the first place, the state exists because one is self-sufficient and therefore men band together. In the state men do not attempt to each provide everything he needs, rather there is a division and specialization of labor so that each contributes his own particular art but all are dependent on all. Justice, and injustice, arises in the dealings of the citizens one with another, says Socrates.

4. Of the Guardians Of The City-State Grows.

Socrates has already alluded to the need to be prepared for defensive war, now as we contemplate a larger more complex and more luxurious state we see the need for a body dedicated to waging war in order to acquire the land and riches needed to maintain the manner of life the citizens demand. The principle of division and specialization of labor obtains in this matter, too, and the guardians against external threat will be those skilled in the arts of war and not drawn from the general population. Internally, too, the state requires guardians possessing the skills and trained in the art of guardianship. The guardians, says Socrates will have some traits of dogs: quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, they have to fight with him. He says they are also like dogs because the dog distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing. Now to determine likes and dislikes solely by the test of knowledge and ignorance shows that dogs, and guardians, are lovers of wisdom, which is to say, they are philosophers.

5. What The Guardians Shall Be Taught About The Gods.

Socrates turns to the education of the guardians, following the traditional division of gymnastics and music, music here broadly meaning all the arts inspired by the muses. First comes literature for the very young, made up stories such as fables and nursery rhymes, which he would have heavily censored. Much of Homer, Hesiod, and the other poets he would ban because they present that gods and heroes in unfavorable ways. Socrates holds what appears on first to be a pius opinion, that the gods are good and so can be the source of only good, not evil, and they are perfect and unchangeable and so do not appear to men in guises or in deceptive dreams or visions. The result, though, of following Socrates' opinion of the gods is the conclusion that the gods are not the authors of all things, but of the few good, and not most things that happen to a man. And if the gods who in their normal state are unseen, cannot change into other forms that do appear to men, then the gods cannot reveal themselves to men. In other words, the gods, insofar as they are treated in the education for the guardians, are so remote from man as to render that education, effectively, atheistic.

BOOK III: THE ARTS IN EDUCATION (Socrates, Adeimantus.)

1. How The Guardians Shall Be Taught Neither To Fear Death Nor Joy In Life. Socrates says that to instill in the guardians fortitude to be brave and unafraid of death we must abolish belief in Hell and punishments after this life. Likewise the stories of the gods and heros must be cleansed of weeping and wailing on the part of those who should be the role models for the guardians. Likewise he would raise up self-sufficient guardians with no need for friends or brother and who, therefore do not mourn the loss of friend of brother at death. And as laughter, as much as can grief, can overcome a man, the guardians must neither laugh nor weep and the gods, as models to men, must never be represented as saddened or jovial.

2. That The Guardians May Tell Noble Lies. In Book II, 5 Socrates asserted that a lie is useless to the gods, but may be prudent and useful to men in some limited situations, saying:

Whereas the lie in words is in certain cases useful and not hateful; in dealing with enemies - that would be an instance; or again, when those whom we call our friends in a fit of madness or illusion are going to do some harm, then it is useful and is 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.
Here in Book III Socrates picks up the topic of the useful lie and allows it, for the guardians alone, when it is for the public good -- all other citizens must be truth-tellers.

3. That The Guardians Must Be Temperate. Having banished fear of death, along with attachment to and dread of the loss of the pleasures life, Socrates has, it seems, provided for the guardians to have fortitude to see their work through to the end. By providing for their education in truth, while also giving them permission to tell noble lies to the citizens when needed for their own good, he appears also to equipped the guardians with wisdom and prudence. Now he takes up the cardinal virtue of temperance which he summarizes as obedience to commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures. He condemns those who speak ill of their rulers (pride). He condemns inordinate fondness for food or drink (gluttony). Likewise lust. Likewise love of money (avarice). He would not have the guardians hear the lines of Homer in which Achilles expresses his envy of Apollo's power. Of the commonly recieved seven deadly sins, Socrates omits two, anger and sloth, from his catalogue of failings that can be overcome by temperance. Returning briefly to justice he obtains from Adeimantus the concession that those writers err who tell us that wicked men are happy and the good miserable; that injustice is profitable when undected; that justice is one's loss for another's gain -- the very things that Adeimantus had asserted in Book II, 2.

4. The Guardians' Literatry Education. Socrates takes up literature and its influence on the guardians but distinguishing narration of a story (what we would call third-person) from imitation, where the author speaks through his characters and questions whether the imitative mode of story-telling should be permitted. To answer he turns back to the guardians, for it is for the sake of determining the sort of education they should receive that he brought up the question of what sort of literature shall be allowed. Earler in Book II, 3 he laid down that one man can only do one thing well; therefore, no one man can imitate many things as well as he would one thing. From this it follows that a person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life while being an imitator of many other things. Therefore the guardians must dedicate themselves wholly to the maintenance of the state and ought not to practice or imitate anything else. To this end they should imitate only those with character fitting to their profession as guardians. For the literature used in the education of the guardians we shuld admit only the pure imitation of virtue. And if someone present with talent and skill for manifold imitation we may praise his sweet and wonderful art, but ban his from our city as contrary to our law. In our city we shall employ, for our souls' health, the rougher and severer poet or story-teller who imitates virtue only.

5. The Guardians' Musical Education. Socrates now turns to the music to which the guardians shall be exposed. On established principles he exludes musical modes that are expressive of sorrow, such as the Lydian. Likewise excluded are soft or drinking modes, such as the Ionian. He permits the Dorian and Phrygian, the more martial modes. Nor does he approve of polyphony and the various instruments used to product complex music, favoring, rather, simple instruments for simple medodies appropriate to a state purged of the luxuries introduced in Book II, 4. While Socrates says that all the arts are to be censored with an eye to prohibiting exhibitions of vice or intemperance lest the taste of the citizens be corrupted, he is especially forceful on this point as regards music, as music, he says, enters into the inward places of the soul. According to Socrates the guardians cannot become musical until they have be trained in virtue. In this regime the beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form to produce the fairest specimen of man, and the end of music--recalling that everything has its proper end--is beauty.

6. The Guardians' Gymnastic Education. Socrates now turns to gymnastic, asserting that a body training does not improve the soul, but a good soul, by her own excellence, improves the body. He does have a few prescriptions for the gymnastic training of the guardians. They must abstain from intoxication. They must be wakeful as dogs, which harkens back to his statement in Book II, 4 that among animals the dogs is as a philosopher. He favors gymnastics whick, like the music he approves, is simple and good; especially the military gymnastics. He approves the diet described in Homer: no fish and only roasted, not boiled, meats. He proscribes sweet sauces and fine dining and desserts. Socrates prescribes a diet based on he belief that complexity engenders disease, which simplicity of diet imparting health of body as simplicity of music is good for the health of the soul. He argues that when intemperance and disease multiply so do halls of justice and physicians offices. Socrates would have each man be his own legal advocate and physician of his body. He finds debased a life spent in litigation or in treatment of medical ailments. Medical help, he concedes, is appropriate when one has been wounded or the victim of a plague, but to resort to professional healers due to unhealth brought about from bad diet and lifestyle is disgraceful. He argues that Asclepius, the god of medicine intended his remedies to used to put back to right those, who while in general good health, where stricken down by some specific wound or ailment. Socrates claims that the 5th Century physician Herodicus introduced the vicious practice of nursing along an incurable illnes so that the sufferer, who cannot get relief in the form of restoration to health is equally denied escape in death. This Socrates opposes for, in a well-order state, everyone should have some work to do and, hence, has no time to be continually ill. The true of this, he asserts, is seen in the case of a workman who when ill seeks a quick effective treatment that will allow him to return to work as quickly as possible. Such a man, when told the treatment needed is a lengthy course of diet or other treatment, will reject it and will either get better on his own and return to work or die and so be free of the problem. Now, says Socrates, if giving oneself over to a lengthy course of treatment himders a carpenter from his proper end of carpentry, so for the guardians, giving in to illness will hinder them from the practice of virtue.

Galucon agrees with all this that Socrates has said about keeping the guardians from exposure to anything but virtue, but asks, would not the best physician be one who has person experience of illness, and, therefore, the best judge one who has acquaintance with all sorts of mortal natures, included viciousness? Socrates agrees that the best physician will be one with person experience of bodily ailment, this is so because he heals not with his body but with his mind which has benefitted from the experiences of the body. But in the case of a judge, he governs by the mind and therefore should have no intimate knowledge of vicious minds. It is especially important that judge-to-be have no contamination by evil minds when he is young and impressionable. Therefore, the judge should not be young, for knowing nothing of evil in his own soul here will fail to recognize it in others. But the older judge, while clean of the contamination of evil in himself, will know evil from observing it in others. From this observation arises an important point, in Plato's teaching, the principle that vice cannot know virtue, but a virtuous nature, educated by time, will acquire a knowledge of both virtue and vice.

Returning to the topic of gymnastic, Socrates asserts that music and gymnastic are both directed toward the improvement of the soul and not, as is commonly thought, music for the soul and gymnastic for the body. The aims of education then, according to Socrates, is the harmonious soul made temperate by music and courageous by gymnastic, for there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the other philosophical, and two arts answering to them.

7. The Myth of the Metals. Having covered the education of the guardians, Socrates turns to the arrangement of society and the question of how the guardians shall be accepted as guardians and the rest of the citizens be the governed. First, says Socrates, the eldest and best of the guardians shall be recognized as guardians in a stricter sense, while others shall be termed auxiliaries. Then there remain the mass of the citizenry. A noble lie shall be taught, first to the guardians, then to the auxiliaries, and finally to the people. They shall be taught that they are all brothers formed in the womb of the earth, so that their country being their mother they will love the city and seek only its good. Secondly they shall be told that, although brothers, their constitutions differ for while formed in the earth some were mixed with gold, some with silver, and some with bronze. These metal admixtures, from precious to base correspond to their proper positions in the city -- guardian, auxiliary, or common citizen. Those of golden stock generally produce golden children; silver, silver; and bronze, bronze. However, somethings parents produce a child baser or more noble than themselves. The gold are the most honored of the people, next the silver, and finally the common bronze, yet none will seek to a station above his birth-metal for the myth also states that the city will suffer if bronze tries to govern. Obviousy the myth of the metals will not readily be accepted at first, but repeated over generations and it will be believed. The only question that remains is how to make the guardians work for the benefit of all rather than exploit their position for private benefit. This Socrates proposes to do by denying the guardians, who enjoy the fullest measure of honor to enjoy the most straited measure of the material goods of the city. The Guardians will be denied private property beyond the minimum needed to maintain their families, they shall received a fixed rate of pay like the salary of a professional soldier, even living and eating together as soldiers at camp, and they are absolutely prohibitted from owning gold or silver. Should they ever scheme to acquire lands, engage in profitable business, and acquire gold and silver the guardians will find themselves hated and plotted against so that they shall be worse off than they are under Socrates' regime where they enjoy rule and honor but without personal wealth, and the whole state will suffer. For all these reasons, concludes Socrates, the best state is the one he has ordered in this book.


1. Socrates Defends His Attack on Private Property. Adeimantus objects to the state erected by Socrates in Book III because the guardians, while having all the care of the city seem to enjoy few of its material benefits. Socrates responds that the goal is not to make this class of citizens as happy as possible but the greated happiness of the whole, with the idea that by establishing the state with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-ordered state injustice, and having found them decide which of the two is happier. Socrates then turns to the issue of wealth, and lack of wealth, proposing that all arts are deteriorated by abundance which leads to indolence and careless or by poverty which leads to lacks of the proper tools and supplies and opportunities for education. And both -- plenty and dearth -- lead to discontent.

To question of how the guardians, having no wealth, would defend the city against another city in a war, Socrates replies that the guardians, because they are trained to be guardians to the exclusion of other money-making occupations will be better warriors than any opponent. Furthermore, the prohition on gold and silver in our city means it will be not only not an attractive target for conquest but will also mean that other cities that will be interested in interested in joining a conflict on our side as they would stand to profit from any defeated enemy of our city while we are prohibited from taking gold and silver even from our vanquished foe. Our city will also be stronger than others due to the way we have organized it with differing classes of citizens each with his own peculiar duties but creating a harmonious unity, while other cities are divided within between rich and poor and are, therefore, disharmonious. For this reason it shall be a rule that the city shall not be enlarged beyond a size consistent with the principle of unity.

2. Socrates Claims that with the Correct Early Education Law is not Necessary. Socrates maintains that if our citizens are well educated they will grow into sensible men and see that our city in which all things, even women and children, are held in common is the best arrangement. Socrates is especially concerned that the regime for musical education laid out in Book III. 5 and gymnastic laid out in Book III, 6 be preserved in their original form, and no innovation made. Socrates says that any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited. For this he quotes Damon who tells us that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them. Socrates holds that if the early training in music and gymnastic is done with an eye to forming good men, there will be no need for us to frame a multitude of detailed laws to govern all aspects of human interaction. Socrates goes further and compares states that busy themselves in ever creating new laws to deal with all manner of things to persons who run from physician to physician and are ever trying some new remedy when what is really wanted is to stop disappating one's self with debilitating indulgences. Equally vicious is the state that is inflexible in not allowing for any changes to the laws but where the citizens are always looking for a ruler who will flatter and induldge them.

Having, by means of a strictly prescribed early education, done away with the need for laws and law-makers in most of what are customarily thought of as weighty public matters. To the law-makers -- at best useless; at worst harmful to the state -- Socrates reserves one work of legislation, that regarding the regulation of public worship. This slightly of the importance of the divine in the ordering of the city another instance of the atheistic character of Socrates' Republic which first appeared in Book II, 5 where the gods are presented as the authors of few, not all or even most, events that happen to men, and as not revealing themselves to men.

3. The Prudence of the State is Found in the Guardians. Having erected a state with perfect harmony among the constituent parts and provided, by means of early education and formation of its citizens, for the permanancy of the state, Socrates returns to task set out on in Book II, 3, to discover where justice is found in the city. On his oft-repeated principle that each thing has one, and only one, proper end, he proposes to find justice by first discover each of the other three cardinal virtues in the city -- justice will be in whatever remains after discovering wisdom, fortitute, and temperance. Wisdom, which here stands where stands prudence in the customary list of virtues, says Socrates, must be knowledge not about any particular thing in the state, but about the whole, and considers how a state can best deal with itself and with other states, and that knowledge is particular to the guardians.

4. The Fortitude of the State is Found in the Auxiliaries. While the rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly as individuals, The city as a whole will have fortitude and courage in proportion as its soldiers -- whom we earlier termed auxiliaries possess this virtue -- as they are the ones who are uniquely educated and formed for the defense of the city.

5. The Temperance of the City is Found the Whole State. Temperance is that virtue, the practice of which, enables a man to be master of himself. In other words termperance is exercised in the similtaneous act of ruling while submitting to being ruled. In the city it is in the totality of the population, from guardians ruling wisely to common citizens obeying, with all acting in harmony.

6. The Justice of the City is Found in Each Doing His Own Proper Work.

Returning to the quest for justice in the city, Socrates reminds Glaucon of the original principle laid down at the foundation of the State in Book II, 3, that one man should practise one thing only, the thing to which his nature was best adapted; now justice is this principle or a part of it. Then to do one's own business in a certain way may be assumed to be justice.

Justice is the only virtue (of the four cardinal virtues) which remains in the State when the other virtues of temperance and courage/fortitude and wisdom/prudence are accounted for; and, it is ultimately, according the Socrates, the cause and condition of the existence of all of them. When we examine the four qualities which by their presence contribute to the excellence of the State, we see the agreement of rulers and subjects (temperance), the preservation in the soldiers of the opinion which the law ordains about the true nature of dangers (fortitute), the wisdom and watchfulness in the rulers, and this other -- justice -- which is found in all - namely that of everyone doing his own work, and not being a busybody.

Socrates gets to this conclusion that justice is each doing his proper work by examining what is the ground for determining the outcome of a trial in the courts of justices -- is it not the ground that a man may neither take what is another's, nor be deprived of what is his own? Then, on this view also, justice will be admitted to be the having and doing what is a man's own, and belongs to him? In the city the greatest injustice is when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader, attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one. This interchange and this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the state, seeing that there are three distinct classes. This, then, is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader, the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business, that is justice, and will make the city just.

7. Socrates Argues that, Like the City, the Soul is Tripartite.

Socrates suggests we complete the old investigation, which we began, as you remember, under the impression that, if we could first examine justice on the larger scale, there would be less difficulty in discerning her in the individual. That larger example appeared to be the state, and accordingly we constructed as good a one as we could. He proceeds to put forth that the just man, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the just state. And a state was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the state severally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of these same classes. And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same three principles in his own soul which are found in the state. For, must we not acknowledge, that in each of us there are the same principles and habits which there are in the state; and that from the individual they pass into the state. How else can they come there? It would be ridiculous to imagine that a quality is found in a state but is not derived from the individuals who are supposed to possess it.

So the tripartite division of the city must correspond to three principles in a man's make-up. In the case of the city the three parts are learned wisdom as used by the guardians in ruling the city, the spirited bravery of the auxiliaries who go to war for the city; and the temperate ordering of the desires of all, both ruler and ruled. In a man the three are his reasonable soul with which he learms, his spirit that is aroused when he is angry, and his bodily appetities.

But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask whether these principles are three or one; whether, that is to say, we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with another, and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes into play in each sort of action. To probe this question Socrates replies as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways; and therefore whenever this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same, we know that they are really not the same, but different. Take hunger and thirst, and the desires in general, the soul of him who desires is seeking after the object of his desire. The object of one is food, and of the other drink. And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the soul has of drink, and of drink only; not of drink qualified by anything else; for example, warm or cold, or much or little, or, in a word, drink of any particular sort: but if the thirst be accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink; or, if accompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be excessive, then the drink which is desired will be excessive; or, if not great, the quantity of drink will also be small: but thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure and simple, which is the natural satisfaction of thirst, as food is of hunger. But here a confusion may arise; and we should wish to guard against an opponent starting up and saying that no man desires drink only, but good drink, or food only, but good food; for good is the universal object of desire, and thirst being a desire, will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the same is true of every other desire.

And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The object of science is knowledge, but the object of a particular science is a particular kind of knowledge. Thus when the term science is no longer used absolutely, but has a qualified object, such as in case where the object of the sciense is the nature of health and disease, it becomes defined, and is hence called not merely science, but the science of medicine.

Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty, desires only drink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it? And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink, that must be different from the thirsty principle; for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of itself act in contrary ways about the same. Now we know that a man might be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink? And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that there was something in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something else forbidding him, which is other and stronger than the principle which bids him? And this forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that which bids and attracts proceeds from passion and disease?

Then we may fairly assume a man has what we may call the rational principle of the soul as well as a part with which he loves, and hungers, and thirsts, and feels the flutterings of any other desire, and part may be termed the irrational or appetitive, the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions. And so we finally determine that there are two principles existing in the soul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a third, or akin to one of the preceding? To answer this Socrates draws on the the story of Leontius, the son of Aglaion, who coming up one day from the Piraeus, observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your fill of the fair sight. The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with desire, as though they were two distinct things. And so we see that passion or spirit, which appeared at first sight to be a kind of desire, we should say quite the contrary is in the conflict and arrayed on the side of the rational principle.

Yet Socrates will take this reasoning a step further and ask whether passion different from reason also, or only a kind of reason; in which latter case, instead of three principles in the soul, there will only be two, the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as the state was composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so may there not be in the individual soul a third element which is passion or spirit, and when not corrupted by bad education is the natural auxiliary of reason? This final point is easily proved: We may observe even in young children that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born, whereas some of them never seem to attain to the use of reason, and most of them late enough. Indeed, you may see passion equally in brute animals, which is a further proof that passion or spirit is not part of reason, but a separate, third faculty of the soul.

8. Socrates Says Justice is a Man is the Setting in Order His Own Inner Life.

Socrates asks, Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the same way, and in virtue of the same quality which makes the State wise? Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the State constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the State and the individual bear the same relation to all the other virtues? And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in the same way in which the State is just? To which Glaucon assents.

Must we not then, Socrates continues, infer that the individual is wise in the same way, and in virtue of the same quality which makes the State wise? Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the State constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the State and the individual bear the same relation to all the other virtues? And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in the same way in which the State is just?

And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subject and ally? And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned truly to know their own functions, will rule over the concupiscent, which in each of us is the largest part of the soul. Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole soul and the whole body against attacks from without; the one counselling, and the other fighting under his leader, and courageously executing his commands and counsels?

And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in pleasure and in pain the commands of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear? And him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules, and which proclaims these commands? And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same elements in friendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of reason, and the two subject ones of spirit and desire, are equally agreed that reason ought to rule, and do not rebel -- and is not that justice in the man, as it is in the city?

Socrates sums up justice as being concerned, however, not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elements within him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work of others -- he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own law, and at peace with himself.

From the reasoning above, Socrates asks, Is not the creation of justice the institution of a natural order and government of one by another in the parts of the soul, and the creation of injustice the production of a state of things at variance with the natural order? And, therefore, virtue is the health, and beauty, and well-being of the soul, and vice the disease, and weakness, and deformity, of the same?

Now to our old question of the comparative advantage of justice and injustice Glaucon now affirms that the question has become ridiculous, for when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer endurable, though pampered with all kinds of meats and drinks and other goods.

BOOK V: ON MATRIMONY AND PHILOSOPHY (Socrates, Glaucon, Adeimantus.)

1. The Education of Women. Socrates returns to his earlier favorable comparison (Book II, 4 and Book III, 6) of the guardians to watch-dogs and notes that dogs, male and female alike, share in hunting and keeping watch, likewise he would have the women, as well as the men, be keepers of the city. To that end men and women must be alike educated in music and gymnastic. To those who object to women stripping to pratice athletics as did the ancient Greek men who conducted their athletic contest naked (GUMNOS), Socrates that formerly Greeks thought -- as barbarians to this day think -- it ridiculous or improper for men to go naked, but that such social conventions can be changed. Sure, Socrates agrees, men and women are different -- men are stronger and women bear children -- but as regards their fitness for occupations in the city they are not different, anymore than bald men and hairy men are different as regard to the trades they might follow. Socrates does agree there is "general inferiority of the female sex; although many women are in many things superior to many men." He finds "no special faculty of administration in a state which a woman has because she is a woman, or which a man has by virtue of his sex."

2. Of Marriage and Childrearing. Becoming ever more outrageous, Socrates next says that in this best of cities the wives of the guardians are to be common, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child this parent." This follows from the earlier (Book III, 7) law that the guardians must live in common houses and meet at common meals with none having anything specially his or her own. He prescribes a form of marriage that is to be considered sacred in the highest degree, but which also lasts for one night. The best of either sex should be united with the best to produce the best children, as a flock is bred. At certain festivals brides and bridegrooms shall be brought together for the night. Any children that result are to be put in a common home, if strong and healthy; if inferior, done away with. The mothers will be brought to the fold to nurse the children with care taken that no mother recognize her own child. Every man will regard every youth or maid of the appropriate age as his son or daughter, and such children will regard all age-mates as brothers or sisters. In this way the greatest number of persons will have familial ties with the greatest number of the populace, which will promote unity and peace in the city.

3. How the City Will Conduct War. To assure that the children of the guardians are reared to be warlike, they shall be taken out to observe, from a safe distance and on horse-back so they can flee if necessary for safety, to view battles, which shall be chosen as those least likely to put the children in harm's way. In warfare with fellow Greeks there shall be no enslaving of the defeated, no despoiling of the slain, and no desvastation of Hellenic territory or burning of houses, for the Hellenic race should be all united together by ties of blood and friendship. The word "war" shall itself be employed only for conflicts with barbarians, not for when Greek fights Greek when Greece in is a state of disorder and discord. The code is in sharp contrast to the recent experiences of the Greeks, for, remember, the dialogue is set at the end of the Pelopponesian War in which Sparta and her allies among the Greeks fought against and defeated Athens and her Grecian allies.

4. The Philosopher King. Glaucon objects that the city Socrates has described may be perfect as an ideal, but not likely to come about in reality. Socrates responds that it is not necessary that the actual state in every respect coincide with the ideal, all that they need do is discover how a city may be governed nearly as proposed. Proposes to show what is that fault in states which is the cause of maladministration and what is the change that will enable a state to pass into the truer form. The change Socrates prescribes is in the character of the rulers -- the city, he says, will be disordered unless philospohers are kings or kings are taught to philosophize. By philosophers Socrates means lovers of the vision of truth, not merely the truth about some thing but the absolute truth, which the truth of each particular thing participates in.