SOCRATES - GLAUCON
AND so, Glaucon, we have arrived
at the conclusion that in the
perfect State wives and children
are to be in common; and that
education and the pursuits of
war and peace are also to be
and the best philosophers and
the bravest warriors are to be
That, replied Glaucon, has been
Yes, I said; and we have further
acknowledged that the governors,
when appointed themselves, will
take their soldiers and place
in houses such as we were describing,
which are common to all,
and contain nothing private,
or individual; and about their
you remember what we agreed?
Yes, I remember that no one
was to have any of the ordinary
of mankind; they were to be warrior
athletes and guardians,
receiving from the other citizens,
in lieu of annual payment,
only their maintenance, and they
were to take care of themselves
and of the whole State.
True, I said; and now that this
division of our task is concluded,
let us find the point at which
we digressed, that we may return
the old path.
There is no difficulty in returning;
you implied, then as now,
that you had finished the description
of the State: you said
that such a State was good, and
that the man was good who
answered to it, although, as
now appears, you had more excellent
things to relate both of State
and man. And you said further,
that if this was the true form,
then the others were false;
and of the false forms, you said,
as I remember, that there
were four principal ones, and
that their defects, and the defects
of the individuals corresponding
to them, were worth examining.
When we had seen all the individuals,
and finally agreed as to who
the best and who was the worst
of them, we were to consider
the best was not also the happiest,
and the worst the most miserable.
I asked you what were the four
forms of government of which
and then Polemarchus and Adeimantus
put in their word; and you
began again, and have found your
way to the point at which we
Your recollection, I said, is
Then, like a wrestler, he replied,
you must put yourself again
in the same position; and let
me ask the same questions, and
give me the same answer which
you were about to give me then.
Yes, if I can, I will, I said.
I shall particularly wish to
hear what were the four constitutions
of which you were speaking.
That question, I said, is easily
answered: the four governments
of which I spoke, so far as they
have distinct names, are, first,
those of Crete and Sparta, which
are generally applauded;
what is termed oligarchy comes
next; this is not equally approved,
and is a form of government which
teems with evils: thirdly, democracy,
which naturally follows oligarchy,
although very different:
and lastly comes tyranny, great
and famous, which differs from
and is the fourth and worst disorder
of a State. I do not know,
do you? of any other constitution
which can be said to have a
distinct character. There are
lordships and principalities
bought and sold, and some other
intermediate forms of government.
But these are nondescripts and
may be found equally among Hellenes
and among barbarians.
Yes, he replied, we certainly
hear of many curious forms of
which exist among them.
Do you know, I said, that governments
vary as the dispositions of men
and that there must be as many
of the one as there are of the
For we cannot suppose that States
are made of `oak and rock,'
and not out of the human natures
which are in them, and which
figure turn the scale and draw
other things after them?
Yes, he said, the States are
as the men are; they grow
out of human characters.
Then if the constitutions of
States are five, the dispositions
of individual minds will also
Him who answers to aristocracy,
and whom we rightly call just
we have already described.
Then let us now proceed to describe
the inferior sort of natures,
being the contentious and ambitious,
who answer to the Spartan polity;
also the oligarchical, democratical,
and tyrannical. Let us place
the most just by the side of
the most unjust, and when we
we shall be able to compare the
relative happiness or unhappiness
of him who leads a life of pure
justice or pure injustice.
The enquiry will then be completed.
And we shall know whether we
to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus
advises, or in accordance with
the conclusions of the argument
to prefer justice.
Certainly, he replied, we must
do as you say.
Shall we follow our old plan,
which we adopted with a view
of taking the State first and
then proceeding to the individual,
and begin with the government
of honour?--I know of no name
for such a government other than
timocracy, or perhaps timarchy.
We will compare with this the
like character in the individual;
and, after that, consider oligarchical
man; and then again we
will turn our attention to democracy
and the democratical man;
and lastly, we will go and view
the city of tyranny, and once
more take a look into the tyrant's
soul, and try to arrive at a
That way of viewing and judging
of the matter will be very suitable.
First, then, I said, let us
enquire how timocracy (the government
arises out of aristocracy (the
government of the best). Clearly,
all political changes originate
in divisions of the actual governing
a government which is united,
however small, cannot be moved.
Very true, he said.
In what way, then, will our
city be moved, and in what manner
the two classes of auxiliaries
and rulers disagree among themselves
or with one another? Shall we,
after the manner of Homer, pray
Muses to tell us `how discord
first arose'? Shall we imagine
in solemn mockery, to play and
jest with us as if we were children,
and to address us in a lofty
tragic vein, making believe to
be in earnest?
How would they address us?
After this manner:--A city which
is thus constituted can hardly
be shaken; but, seeing that everything
which has a beginning has
also an end, even a constitution
such as yours will not last for
but will in time be dissolved.
And this is the dissolution:--
In plants that grow in the earth,
as well as in animals that move
on the earth's surface, fertility
and sterility of soul and body
occur when the circumferences
of the circles of each are completed,
which in short-lived existences
pass over a short space,
and in long-lived ones over a
long space. But to the knowledge
of human fecundity and sterility
all the wisdom and education
of your rulers will not attain;
the laws which regulate them
not be discovered by an intelligence
which is alloyed with sense,
but will escape them, and they
will bring children into the
when they ought not. Now that
which is of divine birth has
which is contained in a perfect
number, but the period of human
is comprehended in a number in
which first increments by involution
and evolution (or squared and
cubed) obtaining three intervals
and four terms of like and unlike,
waxing and waning numbers,
make all the terms commensurable
and agreeable to one another.
The base of these (3) with a
third added (4) when combined
(20) and raised to the third
power furnishes two harmonies;
the first a square which is a
hundred times as great (400 =
100), and the other a figure
having one side equal to the
but oblong, consisting of a hundred
numbers squared upon rational
diameters of a square (i. e.
omitting fractions), the side
is five (7 X 7 = 49 X 100 = 4900),
each of them being less by one
(than the perfect square which
includes the fractions, sc. 50)
by two perfect squares of irrational
diameters (of a square the side
of which is five = 50 + 50 =
100); and a hundred cubes of
(27 X 100 = 2700 + 4900 + 400
= 8000). Now this number represents
a geometrical figure which has
control over the good and evil
For when your guardians are ignorant
of the law of births,
and unite bride and bridegroom
out of season, the children will
be goodly or fortunate. And though
only the best of them will be
appointed by their predecessors,
still they will be unworthy to
their fathers' places, and when
they come into power as guardians,
they will soon be found to fall
in taking care of us, the Muses,
first by under-valuing music;
which neglect will soon extend
and hence the young men of your
State will be less cultivated.
In the succeeding generation
rulers will be appointed who
the guardian power of testing
the metal of your different races,
which, like Hesiod's, are of
gold and silver and brass and
And so iron will be mingled with
silver, and brass with gold,
and hence there will arise dissimilarity
and inequality and irregularity,
which always and in all places
are causes of hatred and war.
This the Muses affirm to be the
stock from which discord has
wherever arising; and this is
their answer to us.
Yes, and we may assume that
they answer truly.
Why, yes, I said, of course
they answer truly; how can the
And what do the Muses say next?
When discord arose, then the
two races were drawn different
the iron and brass fell to acquiring
money and land and houses
and gold and silver; but the
gold and silver races, not wanting
but having the true riches in
their own nature, inclined towards
and the ancient order of things.
There was a battle between them,
and at last they agreed to distribute
their land and houses among
individual owners; and they enslaved
their friends and maintainers,
whom they had formerly protected
in the condition of freemen,
and made of them subjects and
servants; and they themselves
engaged in war and in keeping
a watch against them.
I believe that you have rightly
conceived the origin of the change.
And the new government which
thus arises will be of a form
intermediate between oligarchy
Such will be the change, and
after the change has been made,
how will they proceed? Clearly,
the new State, being in a mean
between oligarchy and the perfect
State, will partly follow one
and partly the other, and will
also have some peculiarities.
True, he said.
In the honour given to rulers,
in the abstinence of the warrior
class from agriculture, handicrafts,
and trade in general,
in the institution of common
meals, and in the attention paid
to gymnastics and military training--in
all these respects this
State will resemble the former.
But in the fear of admitting
philosophers to power, because
they are no
longer to be had simple and earnest,
but are made up of mixed elements;
and in turning from them to passionate
and less complex characters,
who are by nature fitted for
war rather than peace; and in
the value set
by them upon military stratagems
and contrivances, and in the
of everlasting wars--this State
will be for the most part peculiar.
Yes, I said; and men of this
stamp will be covetous of money,
like those who live in oligarchies;
they will have, a fierce secret
longing after gold and silver,
which they will hoard in dark
having magazines and treasuries
of their own for the deposit
concealment of them; also castles
which are just nests for their
and in which they will spend
large sums on their wives, or
others whom they please.
That is most true, he said.
And they are miserly because
they have no means of openly
the money which they prize; they
will spend that which is another
man's on the gratification of
their desires, stealing their
and running away like children
from the law, their father:
they have been schooled not by
gentle influences but by force,
for they have neglected her who
is the true Muse, the companion
reason and philosophy, and have
honoured gymnastic more than
Undoubtedly, he said, the form
of government which you describe
is a mixture of good and evil.
Why, there is a mixture, I said;
but one thing, and one thing
is predominantly seen,--the spirit
of contention and ambition;
and these are due to the prevalence
of the passionate or spirited
Assuredly, he said.
Such is the origin and such
the character of this State,
which has been described in outline
only; the more perfect
execution was not required, for
a sketch is enough to show
the type of the most perfectly
just and most perfectly unjust;
and to go through all the States
and all the characters of men,
omitting none of them, would
be an interminable labour.
Very true, he replied.
Now what man answers to this
form of government-how did he
into being, and what is he like?
SOCRATES - ADEIMANTUS
I think, said Adeimantus, that
in the spirit of contention
which characterises him, he is
not unlike our friend Glaucon.
Perhaps, I said, he may be like
him in that one point; but there
are other respects in which he
is very different.
In what respects?
He should have more of self-assertion
and be less cultivated,
and yet a friend of culture;
and he should be a good listener,
but no speaker. Such a person
is apt to be rough with slaves,
unlike the educated man, who
is too proud for that; and he
also be courteous to freemen,
and remarkably obedient to authority;
he is a lover of power and a
lover of honour; claiming to
be a ruler,
not because he is eloquent, or
on any ground of that sort,
but because he is a soldier and
has performed feats of arms;
he is also a lover of gymnastic
exercises and of the chase.
Yes, that is the type of character
which answers to timocracy.
Such an one will despise riches
only when he is young;
but as he gets older he will
be more and more attracted to
because he has a piece of the
avaricious nature in him, and
not singleminded towards virtue,
having lost his best guardian.
Who was that? said Adeimantus.
Philosophy, I said, tempered
with music, who comes and takes
in a man, and is the only saviour
of his virtue throughout life.
Good, he said.
I said, is the timocratical youth,
and he is like the timocratical
His origin is as follows:--He
is often the young son of a grave
who dwells in an ill-governed
city, of which he declines the
and offices, and will not go
to law, or exert himself in any
but is ready to waive his rights
in order that he may escape trouble.
And how does the son come into
The character of the son begins
to develop when he hears his
complaining that her husband
has no place in the government,
of which the consequence is that
she has no precedence among
other women. Further, when she
sees her husband not very eager
about money, and instead of battling
and railing in the law
courts or assembly, taking whatever
happens to him quietly;
and when she observes that his
thoughts always centre in himself,
while he treats her with very
considerable indifference, she
and says to her son that his
father is only half a man and
too easy-going: adding all the
other complaints about her own
ill-treatment which women are
so fond of rehearsing.
Yes, said Adeimantus, they give
us plenty of them, and their
complaints are so like themselves.
And you know, I said, that the
old servants also, who are supposed
attached to the family, from
time to time talk privately in
strain to the son; and if they
see any one who owes money to
or is wronging him in any way,
and he falls to prosecute them,
they tell the youth that when
he grows up he must retaliate
people of this sort, and be more
of a man than his father. He
only to walk abroad and he hears
and sees the same sort of thing:
those who do their own business
in the city are called simpletons,
and held in no esteem, while
the busy-bodies are honoured
The result is that the young
man, hearing and seeing all these
hearing too, the words of his
father, and having a nearer view
of his way
of life, and making comparisons
of him and others--is drawn opposite
while his father is watering
and nourishing the rational principle
in his soul, the others are encouraging
the passionate and appetitive;
and he being not originally of
a bad nature, but having kept
is at last brought by their joint
influence to a middle point,
and gives up the kingdom which
is within him to the middle
principle of contentiousness
and passion, and becomes arrogant
You seem to me to have described
his origin perfectly.
Then we have now, I said, the
second form of government and
type of character?
Next, let us look at another
man who, as Aeschylus says,
Is set over against another
or rather, as our plan requires,
begin with the State.
By all means.
I believe that oligarchy follows
next in order.
And what manner of government
do you term oligarchy?
A government resting on a valuation
of property, in which the rich
have power and the poor man is
deprived of it.
I understand, he replied.
Ought I not to begin by describing
how the change from timocracy
to oligarchy arises?
Well, I said, no eyes are required
in order to see how the one
passes into the other.
The accumulation of gold in
the treasury of private individuals
is ruin the of timocracy; they
invent illegal modes of expenditure;
for what do they or their wives
care about the law?
And then one, seeing another
grow rich, seeks to rival him,
and thus the great mass of the
citizens become lovers of money.
And so they grow richer and
richer, and the more they think
of making a fortune the less
they think of virtue; for when
and virtue are placed together
in the scales of the balance,
the one always rises as the other
And in proportion as riches
and rich men are honoured in
virtue and the virtuous are dishonoured.
And what is honoured is cultivated,
and that which has no honour
That is obvious.
And so at last, instead of loving
contention and glory, men become
lovers of trade and money; they
honour and look up to the rich
and make a ruler of him, and
dishonour the poor man.
They do so.
They next proceed to make a
law which fixes a sum of money
the qualification of citizenship;
the sum is higher in one place
and lower in another, as the
oligarchy is more or less exclusive;
and they allow no one whose property
falls below the amount fixed
to have any share in the government.
These changes in the constitution
they effect by force of arms,
if intimidation has not already
And this, speaking generally,
is the way in which oligarchy
Yes, he said; but what are the
characteristics of this form
of government, and what are the
defects of which we were speaking?
First of all, I said, consider
the nature of the qualification
just think what would happen
if pilots were to be chosen according
to their property, and a poor
man were refused permission to
even though he were a better
You mean that they would shipwreck?
Yes; and is not this true of
the government of anything?
I should imagine so.
Except a city?--or would you
include a city?
Nay, he said, the case of a
city is the strongest of all,
inasmuch as the rule of a city
is the greatest and most difficult
This, then, will be the first
great defect of oligarchy?
And here is another defect which
is quite as bad.
The inevitable division: such
a State is not one, but two States,
the one of poor, the other of
rich men; and they are living
the same spot and always conspiring
against one another.
That, surely, is at least as
Another discreditable feature
is, that, for a like reason,
they are incapable of carrying
on any war. Either they arm
the multitude, and then they
are more afraid of them than
the enemy; or, if they do not
call them out in the hour of
they are oligarchs indeed, few
to fight as they are few to rule.
And at the same time their fondness
for money makes them unwilling
to pay taxes.
And, as we said before, under
such a constitution the same
have too many callings--they
are husbandmen, tradesmen, warriors,
all in one. Does that look well?
Anything but well.
There is another evil which
is, perhaps, the greatest of
and to which this State first
begins to be liable.
A man may sell all that he has,
and another may acquire his property;
yet after the sale he may dwell
in the city of which he is no
a part, being neither trader,
nor artisan, nor horseman, nor
but only a poor, helpless creature.
Yes, that is an evil which also
first begins in this State.
The evil is certainly not prevented
there; for oligarchies have
both the extremes of great wealth
and utter poverty.
But think again: In his wealthy
days, while he was spending
his money, was a man of this
sort a whit more good to the
for the purposes of citizenship?
Or did he only seem to be a member
of the ruling body, although
in truth he was neither ruler
but just a spendthrift?
As you say, he seemed to be
a ruler, but was only a spendthrift.
May we not say that this is
the drone in the house who is
like the drone in the honeycomb,
and that the one is the plague
of the city as the other is of
Just so, Socrates.
And God has made the flying
drones, Adeimantus, all without
whereas of the walking drones
he has made some without stings
have dreadful stings; of the
stingless class are those who
old age end as paupers; of the
stingers come all the criminal
as they are termed.
Most true, he said.
Clearly then, whenever you see
paupers in a State, somewhere
that neighborhood there are hidden
away thieves, and cutpurses
and robbers of temples, and all
sorts of malefactors.
Well, I said, and in oligarchical
States do you not find paupers?
Yes, he said; nearly everybody
is a pauper who is not a ruler.
And may we be so bold as to
affirm that there are also many
criminals to be found in them,
rogues who have stings, and whom
the authorities are careful to
restrain by force?
Certainly, we may be so bold.
The existence of such persons
is to be attributed to want of
ill-training, and an evil constitution
of the State?
Such, then, is the form and
such are the evils of oligarchy;
and there may be many other evils.
Then oligarchy, or the form
of government in which the rulers
are elected for their wealth,
may now be dismissed. Let us
next proceed to consider the
nature and origin of the individual
who answers to this State.
By all means.
Does not the timocratical man
change into the oligarchical
on this wise?
A time arrives when the representative
of timocracy has a son:
at first he begins by emulating
his father and walking in his
but presently he sees him of
a sudden foundering against the
as upon a sunken reef, and he
and all that he has is lost;
he may have been a general or
some other high officer who is
to trial under a prejudice raised
by informers, and either put
or exiled, or deprived of the
privileges of a citizen, and
property taken from him.
Nothing more likely.
And the son has seen and known
all this--he is a ruined man,
and his fear has taught him to
knock ambition and passion head-foremost
from his bosom's throne; humbled
by poverty he takes to money-making
and by mean and miserly savings
and hard work gets a fortune
Is not such an one likely to
seat the concupiscent and covetous
element on the vacant throne
and to suffer it to play the
within him, girt with tiara and
chain and scimitar?
Most true, he replied.
And when he has made reason
and spirit sit down on the ground
on either side of their sovereign,
and taught them to know their
he compels the one to think only
of how lesser sums may be turned
into larger ones, and will not
allow the other to worship and
anything but riches and rich
men, or to be ambitious of anything
so much as the acquisition of
wealth and the means of acquiring
Of all changes, he said, there
is none so speedy or so sure
as the conversion of the ambitious
youth into the avaricious one.
And the avaricious, I said,
is the oligarchical youth?
Yes, he said; at any rate the
individual out of whom he came
is like the State out of which
Let us then consider whether
there is any likeness between
First, then, they resemble one
another in the value which they
Also in their penurious, laborious
character; the individual only
satisfies his necessary appetites,
and confines his expenditure
to them; his other desires he
subdues, under the idea that
He is a shabby fellow, who saves
something out of everything and
a purse for himself; and this
is the sort of man whom the vulgar
Is he not a true image of the
State which he represents?
He appears to me to be so; at
any rate money is highly valued
by him as well as by the State.
You see that he is not a man
of cultivation, I said.
I imagine not, he said; had
he been educated he would never
made a blind god director of
his chorus, or given him chief
Excellent! I said. Yet consider:
Must we not further admit
that owing to this want of cultivation
there will be found in him
dronelike desires as of pauper
and rogue, which are forcibly
down by his general habit of
Do you know where you will have
to look if you want to discover
Where must I look?
You should see him where he
has some great opportunity
of acting dishonestly, as in
the guardianship of an orphan.
It will be clear enough then
that in his ordinary dealings
give him a reputation for honesty
he coerces his bad passions
by an enforced virtue; not making
them see that they are wrong,
or taming them by reason, but
by necessity and fear constraining
and because he trembles for his
To be sure.
Yes, indeed, my dear friend,
but you will find that the natural
desires of the drone commonly
exist in him all the same whenever
he has to spend what is not his
Yes, and they will be strong
in him too.
The man, then, will be at war
with himself; he will be two
and not one; but, in general,
his better desires will be found
to prevail over his inferior
For these reasons such an one
will be more respectable than
yet the true virtue of a unanimous
and harmonious soul will flee
away and never come near him.
I should expect so.
And surely, the miser individually
will be an ignoble competitor
State for any prize of victory,
or other object of honourable
he will not spend his money in
the contest for glory; so afraid
is he of awakening his expensive
appetites and inviting them to
and join in the struggle; in
true oligarchical fashion he
with a small part only of his
resources, and the result commonly
is that he loses the prize and
saves his money.
Can we any longer doubt, then,
that the miser and money-maker
answers to the oligarchical State?
There can be no doubt.
Next comes democracy; of this
the origin and nature have still
to be considered by us; and then
we will enquire into the ways
of the democratic man, and bring
him up for judgement.
That, he said, is our method.
Well, I said, and how does the
change from oligarchy into democracy
Is it not on this wise?--The
good at which such a State alms
is to become as rich as possible,
a desire which is insatiable?
The rulers, being aware that
their power rests upon their
refuse to curtail by law the
extravagance of the spendthrift
because they gain by their ruin;
they take interest from them
up their estates and thus increase
their own wealth and importance?
To be sure.
There can be no doubt that the
love of wealth and the spirit
of moderation cannot exist together
in citizens of the same State
to any considerable extent; one
or the other will be disregarded.
That is tolerably clear.
And in oligarchical States,
from the general spread of carelessness
and extravagance, men of good
family have often been reduced
And still they remain in the
city; there they are, ready to
and fully armed, and some of
them owe money, some have forfeited
their citizenship; a third class
are in both predicaments;
and they hate and conspire against
those who have got their property,
and against everybody else, and
are eager for revolution.
That is true.
On the other hand, the men of
business, stooping as they walk,
and pretending not even to see
those whom they have already
insert their sting--that is,
their money--into some one else
not on his guard against them,
and recover the parent sum many
over multiplied into a family
of children: and so they make
and pauper to abound in the State.
Yes, he said, there are plenty
of them--that is certain.
The evil blazes up like a fire;
and they will not extinguish
either by restricting a man's
use of his own property, or by
One which is the next best,
and has the advantage of compelling
the citizens to look to their
characters:--Let there be a general
that every one shall enter into
voluntary contracts at his own
and there will be less of this
scandalous money-making, and
of which we were speaking will
be greatly lessened in the State.
Yes, they will be greatly lessened.
At present the governors, induced
by the motives which I have named,
treat their subjects badly; while
they and their adherents,
especially the young men of the
governing class, are habituated
to lead a life of luxury and
idleness both of body and mind;
they do nothing, and are incapable
of resisting either pleasure
They themselves care only for
making money, and are as indifferent
as the pauper to the cultivation
Yes, quite as indifferent.
Such is the state of affairs
which prevails among them.
And often rulers and their subjects
may come in one another's way,
whether on a pilgrimage or a
march, as fellow-soldiers
or fellow-sailors; aye, and they
may observe the behaviour
of each other in the very moment
of danger--for where danger is,
there is no fear that the poor
will be despised by the rich--
and very likely the wiry sunburnt
poor man may be placed in battle
at the side of a wealthy one
who has never spoilt his complexion
and has plenty of superfluous
flesh--when he sees such an one
and at his wit's end, how can
he avoid drawing the conclusion
that men like him are only rich
because no one has the courage
to despoil them? And when they
meet in private will not people
be saying to one another `Our
warriors are not good for much'?
Yes, he said, I am quite aware
that this is their way of talking.
And, as in a body which is diseased
the addition of a touch from
may bring on illness, and sometimes
even when there is no external
provocation a commotion may arise
within-in the same way wherever
there is weakness in the State
there is also likely to be illness,
of which the occasions may be
very slight, the one party introducing
from without their oligarchical,
the other their democratical
and then the State falls sick,
and is at war with herself;
and may be at times distracted,
even when there is no external
And then democracy comes into
being after the poor have conquered
their opponents, slaughtering
some and banishing some, while
the remainder they give an equal
share of freedom and power;
and this is the form of government
in which the magistrates are
commonly elected by lot.
Yes, he said, that is the nature
of democracy, whether the revolution
has been effected by arms, or
whether fear has caused the opposite
party to withdraw.
And now what is their manner
of life, and what sort of a government
have they? for as the government
is, such will be the man.
Clearly, he said.
In the first place, are they
not free; and is not the city
of freedom and frankness--a man
may say and do what he likes?
`Tis said so, he replied.
And where freedom is, the individual
is clearly able to order
for himself his own life as he
Then in this kind of State there
will be the greatest variety
of human natures?
This, then, seems likely to
be the fairest of States, being
embroidered robe which is spangled
with every sort of flower.
And just as women and children
think a variety of colours to
all things most charming, so
there are many men to whom this
which is spangled with the manners
and characters of mankind,
will appear to be the fairest
Yes, my good Sir, and there
will be no better in which to
for a government.
Because of the liberty which
reigns there--they have a complete
assortment of constitutions;
and he who has a mind to establish
a State, as we have been doing,
must go to a democracy as he
to a bazaar at which they sell
them, and pick out the one that
suits him; then, when he has
made his choice, he may found
He will be sure to have patterns
And there being no necessity,
I said, for you to govern in
even if you have the capacity,
or to be governed, unless you
or go to war when the rest go
to war, or to be at peace when
are at peace, unless you are
so disposed--there being no necessity
because some law forbids you
to hold office or be a dicast,
that you should not hold office
or be a dicast, if you have a
is not this a way of life which
for the moment is supremely
For the moment, yes.
And is not their humanity to
the condemned in some cases quite
Have you not observed how, in
a democracy, many persons, although
have been sentenced to death
or exile, just stay where they
are and walk about the world--the
gentleman parades like a hero,
and nobody sees or cares?
Yes, he replied, many and many
See too, I said, the forgiving
spirit of democracy, and the
about trifles, and the disregard
which she shows of all the fine
principles which we solemnly
laid down at the foundation of
as when we said that, except
in the case of some rarely gifted
there never will be a good man
who has not from his childhood
used to play amid things of beauty
and make of them a joy and a
how grandly does she trample
all these fine notions of ours
under her feet, never giving
a thought to the pursuits which
a statesman, and promoting to
honour any one who professes
the people's friend.
Yes, she is of a noble spirit.
These and other kindred characteristics
are proper to democracy,
which is a charming form of government,
full of variety and disorder,
and dispensing a sort of equality
to equals and unequals alike.
We know her well.
Consider now, I said, what manner
of man the individual is,
or rather consider, as in the
case of the State, how he comes
Very good, he said.
Is not this the way--he is the
son of the miserly and oligarchical
father who has trained him in
his own habits?
And, like his father, he keeps
under by force the pleasures
which are of the spending and
not of the getting sort,
being those which are called
Would you like, for the sake
of clearness, to distinguish
which are the necessary and which
are the unnecessary pleasures?
Are not necessary pleasures
those of which we cannot get
rid, and of
which the satisfaction is a benefit
to us? And they are rightly so,
because we are framed by nature
to desire both what is beneficial
and what is necessary, and cannot
We are not wrong therefore in
calling them necessary?
We are not.
And the desires of which a man
may get rid, if he takes pains
his youth upwards--of which the
presence, moreover, does no good,
and in some cases the reverse
of good--shall we not be right
that all these are unnecessary?
Suppose we select an example
of either kind, in order that
may have a general notion of
Will not the desire of eating,
that is, of simple food and condiments,
in so far as they are required
for health and strength,
be of the necessary class?
That is what I should suppose.
The pleasure of eating is necessary
in two ways; it does us good
and it is essential to the continuance
But the condiments are only
necessary in so far as they are
And the desire which goes beyond
this, or more delicate food,
or other luxuries, which might
generally be got rid of,
if controlled and trained in
youth, and is hurtful to the
and hurtful to the soul in the
pursuit of wisdom and virtue,
may be rightly called unnecessary?
May we not say that these desires
spend, and that the others make
money because they conduce to
And of the pleasures of love,
and all other pleasures, the
And the drone of whom we spoke
was he who was surfeited in pleasures
and desires of this sort, and
was the slave of the unnecessary
whereas he who was subject o
the necessary only was miserly
Again, let us see how the democratical
man grows out of the oligarchical:
the following, as I suspect,
is commonly the process.
What is the process?
When a young man who has been
brought up as we were just
now describing, in a vulgar and
miserly way, has tasted drones'
honey and has come to associate
with fierce and crafty natures
who are able to provide for him
all sorts of refinements
and varieties of pleasure--then,
as you may imagine, the change
will begin of the oligarchical
principle within him into the
And as in the city like was
helping like, and the change
by an alliance from without assisting
one division of the citizens,
so too the young man is changed
by a class of desires coming
without to assist the desires
within him, that which is and
again helping that which is akin
And if there be any ally which
aids the oligarchical principle
within him, whether the influence
of a father or of kindred,
advising or rebuking him, then
there arises in his soul a faction
and an opposite faction, and
he goes to war with himself.
It must be so.
And there are times when the
democratical principle gives
the oligarchical, and some of
his desires die, and others are
a spirit of reverence enters
into the young man's soul and
Yes, he said, that sometimes
And then, again, after the old
desires have been driven out,
fresh ones spring up, which are
akin to them, and because he,
their father, does not know how
to educate them, wax fierce
Yes, he said, that is apt to
be the way.
They draw him to his old associates,
and holding secret intercourse
with them, breed and multiply
At length they seize upon the
citadel of the young man's soul,
which they perceive to be void
of all accomplishments and fair
pursuits and true words, which
make their abode in the minds
who are dear to the gods, and
are their best guardians and
False and boastful conceits
and phrases mount upwards and
They are certain to do so.
And so the young man returns
into the country of the lotus-eaters,
and takes up his dwelling there
in the face of all men; and if
any help be sent by his friends
to the oligarchical part of him,
the aforesaid vain conceits shut
the gate of the king's fastness;
and they will neither allow the
embassy itself to enter,
private if private advisers offer
the fatherly counsel of the aged
will they listen to them or receive
them. There is a battle
and they gain the day, and then
modesty, which they call silliness,
is ignominiously thrust into
exile by them, and temperance,
which they nickname unmanliness,
is trampled in the mire and cast
they persuade men that moderation
and orderly expenditure are vulgarity
and meanness, and so, by the
help of a rabble of evil appetites,
they drive them beyond the border.
Yes, with a will.
And when they have emptied and
swept clean the soul of him who
in their power and who is being
initiated by them in great mysteries,
the next thing is to bring back
to their house insolence and
anarchy and waste and impudence
in bright array having garlands
on their heads, and a great company
with them, hymning their praises
and calling them by sweet names;
insolence they term breeding,
and anarchy liberty, and waste
magnificence, and impudence courage.
And so the young man passes out
of his original nature, which
trained in the school of necessity,
into the freedom and libertinism
of useless and unnecessary pleasures.
Yes, he said, the change in
him is visible enough.
After this he lives on, spending
his money and labour and time
on unnecessary pleasures quite
as much as on necessary ones;
but if he be fortunate, and is
not too much disordered in his
when years have elapsed, and
the heyday of passion is over--
supposing that he then re-admits
into the city some part
of the exiled virtues, and does
not wholly give himself up to
their successors--in that case
he balances his pleasures and
in a sort of equilibrium, putting
the government of himself
into the hands of the one which
comes first and wins the turn;
and when he has had enough of
that, then into the hands of
he despises none of them but
encourages them all equally.
Very true, he said.
Neither does he receive or let
pass into the fortress any true
word of advice; if any one says
to him that some pleasures are
satisfactions of good and noble
desires, and others of evil desires,
and that he ought to use and
honour some and chastise and
the others--whenever this is
repeated to him he shakes his
and says that they are all alike,
and that one is as good as another.
Yes, he said; that is the way
Yes, I said, he lives from day
to day indulging the appetite
of the hour;
and sometimes he is lapped in
drink and strains of the flute;
then he becomes a water-drinker,
and tries to get thin; then he
a turn at gymnastics; sometimes
idling and neglecting everything,
then once more living the life
of a philosopher; often he-is
with politics, and starts to
his feet and says and does whatever
comes into his head; and, if
he is emulous of any one who
a warrior, off he is in that
direction, or of men of business,
once more in that. His life has
neither law nor order; and this
distracted existence he terms
joy and bliss and freedom; and
Yes, he replied, he is all liberty
Yes, I said; his life is motley
and manifold and an epitome of
of many;--he answers to the State
which we described as fair and
And many a man and many a woman
will take him for their pattern,
and many a constitution and many
an example of manners is contained
Let him then be set over against
democracy; he may truly be called
the democratic man.
Let that be his place, he said.
Last of all comes the most beautiful
of all, man and State alike,
tyranny and the tyrant; these
we have now to consider.
Quite true, he said.
Say then, my friend, in what
manner does tyranny arise?--that
has a democratic origin is evident.
And does not tyranny spring
from democracy in the same manner
as democracy from oligarchy--I
mean, after a sort?
The good which oligarchy proposed
to itself and the means
by which it was maintained was
excess of wealth--am I not right?
And the insatiable desire of
wealth and the neglect of all
things for the sake of money-getting
was also the ruin of oligarchy?
And democracy has her own good,
of which the insatiable desire
brings her to dissolution?
Freedom, I replied; which, as
they tell you in a democracy,
is the glory of the State--and
that therefore in a democracy
will the freeman of nature deign
Yes; the saying is in everybody's
I was going to observe, that
the insatiable desire of this
the neglect of other things introduces
the change in democracy,
which occasions a demand for
When a democracy which is thirsting
for freedom has evil cupbearers
presiding over the feast, and
has drunk too deeply of the strong
wine of freedom, then, unless
her rulers are very amenable
a plentiful draught, she calls
them to account and punishes
and says that they are cursed
Yes, he replied, a very common
Yes, I said; and loyal citizens
are insultingly termed by her
slaves who hug their chains and
men of naught; she would have
subjects who are like rulers,
and rulers who are like subjects:
these are men after her own heart,
whom she praises and honours
both in private and public. Now,
in such a State, can liberty
have any limit?
By degrees the anarchy finds
a way into private houses, and
by getting among the animals
and infecting them.
How do you mean?
I mean that the father grows
accustomed to descend to the
level of his
sons and to fear them, and the
son is on a level with his father,
he having no respect or reverence
for either of his parents;
and this is his freedom, and
metic is equal with the citizen
and the citizen with the metic,
and the stranger is quite as
Yes, he said, that is the way.
And these are not the only evils,
I said--there are several lesser
In such a state of society the
master fears and flatters his
and the scholars despise their
masters and tutors; young and
are all alike; and the young
man is on a level with the old,
and is ready to compete with
him in word or deed; and old
condescend to the young and are
full of pleasantry and gaiety;
they are loth to be thought morose
and authoritative, and therefore
adopt the manners of the young.
Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular
liberty is when the slave bought
whether male or female, is just
as free as his or her purchaser;
nor must I forget to tell of
the liberty and equality of the
in relation to each other.
Why not, as Aeschylus says,
utter the word which rises to
That is what I am doing, I replied;
and I must add that no one
who does not know would believe,
how much greater is the liberty
which the animals who are under
the dominion of man have in a
than in any other State: for
truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb
are as good as their she-mistresses,
and the horses and asses have
a way of marching along with
all the rights and dignities
and they will run at anybody
who comes in their way if he
not leave the road clear for
them: and all things are just
to burst with liberty.
When I take a country walk,
he said, I often experience what
You and I have dreamed the same
And above all, I said, and as
the result of all, see how sensitive
the citizens become; they chafe
impatiently at the least touch
of authority and at length, as
you know, they cease to care
for the laws, written or unwritten;
they will have no one over them.
Yes, he said, I know it too
Such, my friend, I said, is
the fair and glorious beginning
out of which springs tyranny.
Glorious indeed, he said. But
what is the next step?
The ruin of oligarchy is the
ruin of democracy; the same disease
magnified and intensified by
liberty overmasters democracy--
the truth being that the excessive
increase of anything often
causes a reaction in the opposite
direction; and this is the case
not only in the seasons and in
vegetable and animal life, but
all in forms of government.
The excess of liberty, whether
in States or individuals,
seems only to pass into excess
Yes, the natural order.
And so tyranny naturally arises
out of democracy, and the most
aggravated form of tyranny and
slavery out of the most extreme
form of liberty?
As we might expect.
That, however, was not, as I
believe, your question-you rather
desired to know what is that
disorder which is generated alike
in oligarchy and democracy, and
is the ruin of both?
Just so, he replied.
Well, I said, I meant to refer
to the class of idle spendthrifts,
of whom the more courageous are
the-leaders and the more timid
the followers, the same whom
we were comparing to drones,
and others having stings.
A very just comparison.
These two classes are the plagues
of every city in which they
are generated, being what phlegm
and bile are to the body.
And the good physician and lawgiver
of the State ought, like the
bee-master, to keep them at a
distance and prevent, if possible,
their ever coming in; and if
they have anyhow found a way
then he should have them and
their cells cut out as speedily
Yes, by all means, he said.
Then, in order that we may see
clearly what we are doing, let
imagine democracy to be divided,
as indeed it is, into three classes;
for in the first place freedom
creates rather more drones in
the democratic than there were
in the oligarchical State.
That is true.
And in the democracy they are
certainly more intensified.
Because in the oligarchical
State they are disqualified and
from office, and therefore they
cannot train or gather strength;
whereas in a democracy they are
almost the entire ruling power,
and while the keener sort speak
and act, the rest keep buzzing
about the bema and do not suffer
a word to be said on the other
hence in democracies almost everything
is managed by the drones.
Very true, he said.
Then there is another class
which is always being severed
What is that?
They are the orderly class,
which in a nation of traders
to be the richest.
They are the most squeezable
persons and yield the largest
of honey to the drones.
Why, he said, there is little
to be squeezed out of people
who have little.
And this is called the wealthy
class, and the drones feed upon
That is pretty much the case,
The people are a third class,
consisting of those who work
own hands; they are not politicians,
and have not much to live upon.
This, when assembled, is the
largest and most powerful class
in a democracy.
True, he said; but then the
multitude is seldom willing to
unless they get a little honey.
And do they not share? I said.
Do not their leaders deprive
the rich of their estates and
distribute them among the people;
at the same time taking care
to reserve the larger part for
Why, yes, he said, to that extent
the people do share.
And the persons whose property
is taken from them are compelled
to defend themselves before the
people as they best can?
What else can they do?
And then, although they may
have no desire of change, the
charge them with plotting against
the people and being friends
of oligarchy? True.
And the end is that when they
see the people, not of their
but through ignorance, and because
they are deceived by informers,
seeking to do them wrong, then
at last they are forced to become
oligarchs in reality; they do
not wish to be, but the sting
the drones torments them and
breeds revolution in them.
That is exactly the truth.
Then come impeachments and judgments
and trials of one another.
The people have always some
champion whom they set over them
and nurse into greatness.
Yes, that is their way.
This and no other is the root
from which a tyrant springs;
when he first appears above ground
he is a protector.
Yes, that is quite clear.
How then does a protector begin
to change into a tyrant?
Clearly when he does what the
man is said to do in the tale
of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean
The tale is that he who has
tasted the entrails of a single
victim minced up with the entrails
of other victims is destined
to become a wolf. Did you never
And the protector of the people
is like him; having a mob entirely
his disposal, he is not restrained
from shedding the blood of kinsmen;
by the favourite method of false
accusation he brings them into
court and murders them, making
the life of man to disappear,
and with unholy tongue and lips
tasting the blood of his fellow
some he kills and others he banishes,
at the same time hinting
at the abolition of debts and
partition of lands: and after
what will be his destiny? Must
he not either perish at the hands
of his enemies, or from being
a man become a wolf--that is,
This, I said, is he who begins
to make a party against the rich?
After a while he is driven out,
but comes back, in spite of his
a tyrant full grown.
That is clear.
And if they are unable to expel
him, or to get him condemned
to death by a public accusation,
they conspire to assassinate
Yes, he said, that is their
Then comes the famous request
for a bodyguard, which is the
of all those who have got thus
far in their tyrannical career--`Let
not the people's friend,' as
they say, `be lost to them.'
The people readily assent; all
their fears are for him--
they have none for themselves.
And when a man who is wealthy
and is also accused of being
of the people sees this, then,
my friend, as the oracle said
By pebbly Hermus' shore he
flees and rests not and is not
ashamed to be a coward.
And quite right too, said he,
for if he were, he would never
But if he is caught he dies.
And he, the protector of whom
we spoke, is to be seen, not
the plain' with his bulk, but
himself the overthrower of many,
standing up in the chariot of
State with the reins in his hand,
no longer protector, but tyrant
No doubt, he said.
And now let us consider the
happiness of the man, and also
of the State in which a creature
like him is generated.
Yes, he said, let us consider
At first, in the early days
of his power, he is full of smiles,
and he salutes every one whom
he meets;--he to be called a
who is making promises in public
and also in private! liberating
and distributing land to the
people and his followers, and
to be so kind and good to every
Of course, he said.
But when he has disposed of
foreign enemies by conquest or
and there is nothing to fear
from them, then he is always
some war or other, in order that
the people may require a leader.
To be sure.
Has he not also another object,
which is that they may be impoverished
by payment of taxes, and thus
compelled to devote themselves
daily wants and therefore less
likely to conspire against him?
And if any of them are suspected
by him of having notions of freedom,
and of resistance to his authority,
he will have a good pretext
for destroying them by placing
them at the mercy of the enemy;
and for all these reasons the
tyrant must be always getting
Now he begins to grow unpopular.
A necessary result.
Then some of those who joined
in setting him up, and who are
speak their minds to him and
to one another, and the more
of them cast in his teeth what
is being done.
Yes, that may be expected.
And the tyrant, if he means
to rule, must get rid of them;
stop while he has a friend or
an enemy who is good for anything.
And therefore he must look about
him and see who is valiant,
who is high-minded, who is wise,
who is wealthy; happy man,
he is the enemy of them all,
and must seek occasion against
whether he will or no, until
he has made a purgation of the
Yes, he said, and a rare purgation.
Yes, I said, not the sort of
purgation which the physicians
of the body; for they take away
the worse and leave the better
but he does the reverse.
If he is to rule, I suppose
that he cannot help himself.
What a blessed alternative,
I said:--to be compelled to dwell
with the many bad, and to be
by them hated, or not to live
Yes, that is the alternative.
And the more detestable his
actions are to the citizens the
satellites and the greater devotion
in them will he require?
And who are the devoted band,
and where will he procure them?
They will flock to him, he said,
of their own accord, if lie pays
By the dog! I said, here are
more drones, of every sort and
Yes, he said, there are.
But will he not desire to get
them on the spot?
How do you mean?
He will rob the citizens of
their slaves; he will then set
free and enrol them in his bodyguard.
To be sure, he said; and he
will be able to trust them best
What a blessed creature, I said,
must this tyrant be; he has put
to death the others and has these
for his trusted friends.
Yes, he said; they are quite
of his sort.
Yes, I said, and these are the
new citizens whom he has
called into existence, who admire
him and are his companions,
while the good hate and avoid
Verily, then, tragedy is a wise
thing and Euripides a great tragedian.
Why, because he is the author
of the pregnant saying,
Tyrants are wise by living
with the wise;
and he clearly meant to say
that they are the wise whom the
makes his companions.
Yes, he said, and he also praises
tyranny as godlike; and many
things of the same kind are said
by him and by the other poets.
And therefore, I said, the tragic
poets being wise men will forgive
us and any others who live after
our manner if we do not receive
them into our State, because
they are the eulogists of tyranny.
Yes, he said, those who have
the wit will doubtless forgive
But they will continue to go
to other cities and attract mobs,
and hire voices fair and loud
and persuasive, and draw the
over to tyrannies and democracies.
Moreover, they are paid for
this and receive honour--the
as might be expected, from tyrants,
and the next greatest
from democracies; but the higher
they ascend our constitution
the more their reputation fails,
and seems unable from shortness
of breath to proceed further.
But we are wandering from the
subject: Let us therefore return
and enquire how the tyrant will
maintain that fair and numerous
and various and ever-changing
army of his.
If, he said, there are sacred
treasures in the city, he will
confiscate and spend them; and
in so far as the fortunes
of attainted persons may suffice,
he will be able to diminish
the taxes which he would otherwise
have to impose upon the people.
And when these fail?
Why, clearly, he said, then
he and his boon companions, whether
or female, will be maintained
out of his father's estate.
You mean to say that the people,
from whom he has derived his
will maintain him and his companions?
Yes, he said; they cannot help
But what if the people fly into
a passion, and aver that a grown-up
son ought not to be supported
by his father, but that the father
should be supported by the son?
The father did not bring him
into being, or settle him in
life, in order that when his
became a man he should himself
be the servant of his own servants
and should support him and his
rabble of slaves and companions;
but that his son should protect
him, and that by his help he
be emancipated from the government
of the rich and aristocratic,
as they are termed. And so he
bids him and his companions depart,
just as any other father might
drive out of the house a riotous
and his undesirable associates.
By heaven, he said, then the
parent will discover what a monster
has been fostering in his bosom;
and, when he wants to drive him
he will find that he is weak
and his son strong.
Why, you do not mean to say
that the tyrant will use violence?
What! beat his father if he opposes
Yes, he will, having first disarmed
Then he is a parricide, and
a cruel guardian of an aged parent;
and this is real tyranny, about
which there can be no longer
as the saying is, the people
who would escape the smoke which
the slavery of freemen, has fallen
into the fire which is the tyranny
of slaves. Thus liberty, getting
out of all order and reason,
passes into the harshest and
bitterest form of slavery.
True, he said.
Very well; and may we not rightly
say that we have sufficiently
discussed the nature of tyranny,
and the manner of the transition
from democracy to tyranny?
Yes, quite enough, he said.