And surely the art of the painter and every other creative and constructive
art are full of them,--weaving, embroidery, architecture, and every kind of
manufacture; also nature, animal and vegetable,--in all of them there is
grace or the absence of grace. And ugliness and discord and inharmonious
motion are nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony
are the twin sisters of goodness and virtue and bear their likeness.
That is quite true, he said.
But shall our superintendence go no further, and are the poets only to be
required by us to express the image of the good in their works, on pain, if
they do anything else, of expulsion from our State? Or is the same control
to be extended to other artists, and are they also to be prohibited from
exhibiting the opposite forms of vice and intemperance and meanness and
indecency in sculpture and building and the other creative arts; and is he
who cannot conform to this rule of ours to be prevented from practising his
art in our State, lest the taste of our citizens be corrupted by him? We
would not have our guardians grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in
some noxious pasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb
and flower day by day, little by little, until they silently gather a
festering mass of corruption in their own soul. Let our artists rather be
those who are gifted to discern the true nature of the beautiful and
graceful; then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights
and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence
of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze
from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into
likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.
There can be no nobler training than that, he replied.
And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into
the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting
grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of
him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received
this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive
omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he
praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes
noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of
his youth, even before he is able to know the reason why; and when reason
comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whom his education has
made him long familiar.
Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that our youth should be
trained in music and on the grounds which you mention.
Just as in learning to read, I said, we were satisfied when we knew the
letters of the alphabet, which are very few, in all their recurring sizes
and combinations; not slighting them as unimportant whether they occupy a
space large or small, but everywhere eager to make them out; and not
thinking ourselves perfect in the art of reading until we recognise them
wherever they are found:
Or, as we recognise the reflection of letters in the water, or in a mirror,
only when we know the letters themselves; the same art and study giving us
the knowledge of both:
Even so, as I maintain, neither we nor our guardians, whom we have to
educate, can ever become musical until we and they know the essential forms
of temperance, courage, liberality, magnificence, and their kindred, as
well as the contrary forms, in all their combinations, and can recognise
them and their images wherever they are found, not slighting them either in
small things or great, but believing them all to be within the sphere of
one art and study.
And when a beautiful soul harmonizes with a beautiful form, and the two are
cast in one mould, that will be the fairest of sights to him who has an eye
to see it?
The fairest indeed.
And the fairest is also the loveliest?
That may be assumed.
And the man who has the spirit of harmony will be most in love with the
loveliest; but he will not love him who is of an inharmonious soul?
That is true, he replied, if the deficiency be in his soul; but if there be
any merely bodily defect in another he will be patient of it, and will love
all the same.
I perceive, I said, that you have or have had experiences of this sort, and
I agree. But let me ask you another question: Has excess of pleasure any
affinity to temperance?
How can that be? he replied; pleasure deprives a man of the use of his
faculties quite as much as pain.
Or any affinity to virtue in general?
Any affinity to wantonness and intemperance?
Yes, the greatest.
And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sensual love?
No, nor a madder.
Whereas true love is a love of beauty and order--temperate and harmonious?
Quite true, he said.
Then no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love?
Then mad or intemperate pleasure must never be allowed to come near the
lover and his beloved; neither of them can have any part in it if their
love is of the right sort?
No, indeed, Socrates, it must never come near them.
Then I suppose that in the city which we are founding you would make a law
to the effect that a friend should use no other familiarity to his love
than a father would use to his son, and then only for a noble purpose, and
he must first have the other's consent; and this rule is to limit him in
all his intercourse, and he is never to be seen going further, or, if he
exceeds, he is to be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.
I quite agree, he said.
Thus much of music, which makes a fair ending; for what should be the end
of music if not the love of beauty?
I agree, he said.
After music comes gymnastic, in which our youth are next to be trained.
Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in it
should be careful and should continue through life. Now my belief is,--and
this is a matter upon which I should like to have your opinion in
confirmation of my own, but my own belief is,--not that the good body by
any bodily excellence improves the soul, but, on the contrary, that the
good soul, by her own excellence, improves the body as far as this may be
possible. What do you say?
Yes, I agree.
Then, to the mind when adequately trained, we shall be right in handing
over the more particular care of the body; and in order to avoid prolixity
we will now only give the general outlines of the subject.
That they must abstain from intoxication has been already remarked by us;
for of all persons a guardian should be the last to get drunk and not know
where in the world he is.
Yes, he said; that a guardian should require another guardian to take care
of him is ridiculous indeed.
But next, what shall we say of their food; for the men are in training for
the great contest of all--are they not?
Yes, he said.
And will the habit of body of our ordinary athletes be suited to them?
I am afraid, I said, that a habit of body such as they have is but a sleepy
sort of thing, and rather perilous to health. Do you not observe that
these athletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to most dangerous
illnesses if they depart, in ever so slight a degree, from their customary
Yes, I do.
Then, I said, a finer sort of training will be required for our warrior
athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the
utmost keenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of summer
heat and winter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign,
they must not be liable to break down in health.
That is my view.
The really excellent gymnastic is twin sister of that simple music which we
were just now describing.
Why, I conceive that there is a gymnastic which, like our music, is simple
and good; and especially the military gymnastic.
What do you mean?
My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at
their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers' fare; they have no
fish, although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not
allowed boiled meats but only roast, which is the food most convenient for
soldiers, requiring only that they should light a fire, and not involving
the trouble of carrying about pots and pans.
And I can hardly be mistaken in saying that sweet sauces are nowhere
mentioned in Homer. In proscribing them, however, he is not singular; all
professional athletes are well aware that a man who is to be in good
condition should take nothing of the kind.
Yes, he said; and knowing this, they are quite right in not taking them.
Then you would not approve of Syracusan dinners, and the refinements of
I think not.
Nor, if a man is to be in condition, would you allow him to have a
Corinthian girl as his fair friend?
Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are thought, of
All such feeding and living may be rightly compared by us to melody and
song composed in the panharmonic style, and in all the rhythms.
There complexity engendered licence, and here disease; whereas simplicity
in music was the parent of temperance in the soul; and simplicity in
gymnastic of health in the body.
Most true, he said.
But when intemperance and diseases multiply in a State, halls of justice
and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the
lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not
only the slaves but the freemen of a city take about them.
And yet what greater proof can there be of a bad and disgraceful state of
education than this, that not only artisans and the meaner sort of people
need the skill of first-rate physicians and judges, but also those who
would profess to have had a liberal education? Is it not disgraceful, and
a great sign of want of good-breeding, that a man should have to go abroad
for his law and physic because he has none of his own at home, and must
therefore surrender himself into the hands of other men whom he makes lords
and judges over him?
Of all things, he said, the most disgraceful.
Would you say 'most,' I replied, when you consider that there is a further
stage of the evil in which a man is not only a life-long litigant, passing
all his days in the courts, either as plaintiff or defendant, but is
actually led by his bad taste to pride himself on his litigiousness; he
imagines that he is a master in dishonesty; able to take every crooked
turn, and wriggle into and out of every hole, bending like a withy and
getting out of the way of justice: and all for what?--in order to gain
small points not worth mentioning, he not knowing that so to order his life
as to be able to do without a napping judge is a far higher and nobler sort
of thing. Is not that still more disgraceful?
Yes, he said, that is still more disgraceful.
Well, I said, and to require the help of medicine, not when a wound has to
be cured, or on occasion of an epidemic, but just because, by indolence and
a habit of life such as we have been describing, men fill themselves with
waters and winds, as if their bodies were a marsh, compelling the ingenious
sons of Asclepius to find more names for diseases, such as flatulence and
catarrh; is not this, too, a disgrace?
Yes, he said, they do certainly give very strange and newfangled names to
Yes, I said, and I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the
days of Asclepius; and this I infer from the circumstance that the hero
Eurypylus, after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian
wine well besprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are
certainly inflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the
Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke
Patroclus, who is treating his case.
Well, he said, that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a
person in his condition.
Not so extraordinary, I replied, if you bear in mind that in former days,
as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius
did not practise our present system of medicine, which may be said to
educate diseases. But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly
constitution, by a combination of training and doctoring found out a way of
torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.
How was that? he said.
By the invention of lingering death; for he had a mortal disease which he
perpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he passed his
entire life as a valetudinarian; he could do nothing but attend upon
himself, and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything
from his usual regimen, and so dying hard, by the help of science he
struggled on to old age.
A rare reward of his skill!
Yes, I said; a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understood
that, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in valetudinarian arts,
the omission arose, not from ignorance or inexperience of such a branch of
medicine, but because he knew that in all well-ordered states every
individual has an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no
leisure to spend in continually being ill. This we remark in the case of
the artisan, but, ludicrously enough, do not apply the same rule to people
of the richer sort.
How do you mean? he said.
I mean this: When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and
ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife,--these are his
remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and
tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of
thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees
no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of
his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of
physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives
and does his business, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has no
Yes, he said, and a man in his condition of life ought to use the art of
medicine thus far only.
Has he not, I said, an occupation; and what profit would there be in his
life if he were deprived of his occupation?
Quite true, he said.
But with the rich man this is otherwise; of him we do not say that he has
any specially appointed work which he must perform, if he would live.
He is generally supposed to have nothing to do.
Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man has
a livelihood he should practise virtue?
Nay, he said, I think that he had better begin somewhat sooner.
Let us not have a dispute with him about this, I said; but rather ask
ourselves: Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he
live without it? And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a further
question, whether this dieting of disorders, which is an impediment to the
application of the mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not
equally stand in the way of the sentiment of Phocylides?
Of that, he replied, there can be no doubt; such excessive care of the
body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the
practice of virtue.
Yes, indeed, I replied, and equally incompatible with the management of a
house, an army, or an office of state; and, what is most important of all,
irreconcileable with any kind of study or thought or self-reflection--there
is a constant suspicion that headache and giddiness are to be ascribed to
philosophy, and hence all practising or making trial of virtue in the
higher sense is absolutely stopped; for a man is always fancying that he is
being made ill, and is in constant anxiety about the state of his body.
Yes, likely enough.
And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the
power of his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy
constitution and habits of life, had a definite ailment; such as these he
cured by purges and operations, and bade them live as usual, herein
consulting the interests of the State; but bodies which disease had
penetrated through and through he would not have attempted to cure by
gradual processes of evacuation and infusion: he did not want to lengthen
out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting weaker sons;
--if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had no business to
cure him; for such a cure would have been of no use either to himself, or
to the State.
Then, he said, you regard Asclepius as a statesman.
Clearly; and his character is further illustrated by his sons. Note that
they were heroes in the days of old and practised the medicines of which I
am speaking at the siege of Troy: You will remember how, when Pandarus
wounded Menelaus, they
'Sucked the blood out of the wound, and sprinkled soothing remedies,'
but they never prescribed what the patient was afterwards to eat or drink
in the case of Menelaus, any more than in the case of Eurypylus; the
remedies, as they conceived, were enough to heal any man who before he was
wounded was healthy and regular in his habits; and even though he did
happen to drink a posset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same.
But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects,
whose lives were of no use either to themselves or others; the art of
medicine was not designed for their good, and though they were as rich as
Midas, the sons of Asclepius would have declined to attend them.
They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.
Naturally so, I replied. Nevertheless, the tragedians and Pindar
disobeying our behests, although they acknowledge that Asclepius was the
son of Apollo, say also that he was bribed into healing a rich man who was
at the point of death, and for this reason he was struck by lightning. But
we, in accordance with the principle already affirmed by us, will not
believe them when they tell us both;--if he was the son of a god, we
maintain that he was not avaricious; or, if he was avaricious, he was not
the son of a god.
All that, Socrates, is excellent; but I should like to put a question to
you: Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are not the
best those who have treated the greatest number of constitutions good and
bad? and are not the best judges in like manner those who are acquainted
with all sorts of moral natures?
Yes, I said, I too would have good judges and good physicians. But do you
know whom I think good?
Will you tell me?
I will, if I can. Let me however note that in the same question you join
two things which are not the same.
How so? he asked.
Why, I said, you join physicians and judges. Now the most skilful
physicians are those who, from their youth upwards, have combined with the
knowledge of their art the greatest experience of disease; they had better
not be robust in health, and should have had all manner of diseases in
their own persons. For the body, as I conceive, is not the instrument with
which they cure the body; in that case we could not allow them ever to be
or to have been sickly; but they cure the body with the mind, and the mind
which has become and is sick can cure nothing.
That is very true, he said.
But with the judge it is otherwise; since he governs mind by mind; he ought
not therefore to have been trained among vicious minds, and to have
associated with them from youth upwards, and to have gone through the whole
calendar of crime, only in order that he may quickly infer the crimes of
others as he might their bodily diseases from his own self-consciousness;
the honourable mind which is to form a healthy judgment should have had no
experience or contamination of evil habits when young. And this is the
reason why in youth good men often appear to be simple, and are easily
practised upon by the dishonest, because they have no examples of what evil
is in their own souls.
Yes, he said, they are far too apt to be deceived.
Therefore, I said, the judge should not be young; he should have learned to
know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of the
nature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personal
Yes, he said, that is the ideal of a judge.
Yes, I replied, and he will be a good man (which is my answer to your
question); for he is good who has a good soul. But the cunning and
suspicious nature of which we spoke,--he who has committed many crimes, and
fancies himself to be a master in wickedness, when he is amongst his
fellows, is wonderful in the precautions which he takes, because he judges
of them by himself: but when he gets into the company of men of virtue,
who have the experience of age, he appears to be a fool again, owing to his
unseasonable suspicions; he cannot recognise an honest man, because he has
no pattern of honesty in himself; at the same time, as the bad are more
numerous than the good, and he meets with them oftener, he thinks himself,
and is by others thought to be, rather wise than foolish.
Most true, he said.
Then the good and wise judge whom we are seeking is not this man, but the
other; for vice cannot know virtue too, but a virtuous nature, educated by
time, will acquire a knowledge both of virtue and vice: the virtuous, and
not the vicious, man has wisdom--in my opinion.
And in mine also.
This is the sort of medicine, and this is the sort of law, which you will
sanction in your state. They will minister to better natures, giving
health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies
they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put
an end to themselves.
That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.
And thus our youth, having been educated only in that simple music which,
as we said, inspires temperance, will be reluctant to go to law.
And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise
the simple gymnastic, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some
That I quite believe.
The very exercises and tolls which he undergoes are intended to stimulate
the spirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength; he
will not, like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develope his
Very right, he said.
Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastic really designed, as is
often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the
training of the body.
What then is the real object of them?
I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the
improvement of the soul.
How can that be? he asked.
Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself of exclusive
devotion to gymnastic, or the opposite effect of an exclusive devotion to
In what way shown? he said.
The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of softness
and effeminacy, I replied.
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of a
savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is
good for him.
Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightly
educated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to
become hard and brutal.
That I quite think.
On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness. And
this also, when too much indulged, will turn to softness, but, if educated
rightly, will be gentle and moderate.
And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities?
And both should be in harmony?
And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous?
And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish?
And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul
through the funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs of
which we were just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in warbling
and the delights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or
spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of
brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing
process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted
away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble
If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedily
accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music weakening
the spirit renders him excitable;--on the least provocation he flames up at
once, and is speedily extinguished; instead of having spirit he grows
irritable and passionate and is quite impracticable.
And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great
feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at
first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and
he becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with the
Muses, does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no
taste of any sort of learning or enquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble
and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and
his senses not being purged of their mists?
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using the
weapon of persuasion,--he is like a wild beast, all violence and
fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all
ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.
That is quite true, he said.
And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the
other the philosophical, some God, as I should say, has given mankind two
arts answering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and body), in order
that these two principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be
relaxed or drawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.
That appears to be the intention.
And he who mingles music with gymnastic in the fairest proportions, and
best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician
and harmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.
You are quite right, Socrates.
And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if the
government is to last.
Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.
Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education: Where would be
the use of going into further details about the dances of our citizens, or
about their hunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian contests?
For these all follow the general principle, and having found that, we shall
have no difficulty in discovering them.
I dare say that there will be no difficulty.
Very good, I said; then what is the next question? Must we not ask who are
to be rulers and who subjects?
There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger.
And that the best of these must rule.
That is also clear.
Now, are not the best husbandmen those who are most devoted to husbandry?
And as we are to have the best of guardians for our city, must they not be
those who have most the character of guardians?
And to this end they ought to be wise and efficient, and to have a special
care of the State?
And a man will be most likely to care about that which he loves?
To be sure.
And he will be most likely to love that which he regards as having the same
interests with himself, and that of which the good or evil fortune is
supposed by him at any time most to affect his own?
Very true, he replied.
Then there must be a selection. Let us note among the guardians those who
in their whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for the good
of their country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is against her
Those are the right men.
And they will have to be watched at every age, in order that we may see
whether they preserve their resolution, and never, under the influence
either of force or enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to
How cast off? he said.
I will explain to you, I replied. A resolution may go out of a man's mind
either with his will or against his will; with his will when he gets rid of
a falsehood and learns better, against his will whenever he is deprived of
I understand, he said, the willing loss of a resolution; the meaning of the
unwilling I have yet to learn.
Why, I said, do you not see that men are unwillingly deprived of good, and
willingly of evil? Is not to have lost the truth an evil, and to possess
the truth a good? and you would agree that to conceive things as they are
is to possess the truth?
Yes, he replied; I agree with you in thinking that mankind are deprived of
truth against their will.
And is not this involuntary deprivation caused either by theft, or force,
Still, he replied, I do not understand you.
I fear that I must have been talking darkly, like the tragedians. I only
mean that some men are changed by persuasion and that others forget;
argument steals away the hearts of one class, and time of the other; and
this I call theft. Now you understand me?
Those again who are forced, are those whom the violence of some pain or
grief compels to change their opinion.
I understand, he said, and you are quite right.
And you would also acknowledge that the enchanted are those who change
their minds either under the softer influence of pleasure, or the sterner
influence of fear?
Yes, he said; everything that deceives may be said to enchant.
Therefore, as I was just now saying, we must enquire who are the best
guardians of their own conviction that what they think the interest of the
State is to be the rule of their lives. We must watch them from their
youth upwards, and make them perform actions in which they are most likely
to forget or to be deceived, and he who remembers and is not deceived is to
be selected, and he who fails in the trial is to be rejected. That will be
And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for them,
in which they will be made to give further proof of the same qualities.
Very right, he replied.
And then, I said, we must try them with enchantments--that is the third
sort of test--and see what will be their behaviour: like those who take
colts amid noise and tumult to see if they are of a timid nature, so must
we take our youth amid terrors of some kind, and again pass them into
pleasures, and prove them more thoroughly than gold is proved in the
furnace, that we may discover whether they are armed against all
enchantments, and of a noble bearing always, good guardians of themselves
and of the music which they have learned, and retaining under all
circumstances a rhythmical and harmonious nature, such as will be most
serviceable to the individual and to the State. And he who at every age,
as boy and youth and in mature life, has come out of the trial victorious
and pure, shall be appointed a ruler and guardian of the State; he shall be
honoured in life and death, and shall receive sepulture and other memorials
of honour, the greatest that we have to give. But him who fails, we must
reject. I am inclined to think that this is the sort of way in which our
rulers and guardians should be chosen and appointed. I speak generally,
and not with any pretension to exactness.
And, speaking generally, I agree with you, he said.
And perhaps the word 'guardian' in the fullest sense ought to be applied to
this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies and maintain
peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the will, or
the others the power, to harm us. The young men whom we before called
guardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of the
principles of the rulers.
I agree with you, he said.
How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately
spoke--just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that be
possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?
What sort of lie? he said.
Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale (Laws) of what has
often occurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have made
the world believe,) though not in our time, and I do not know whether such
an event could ever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it
How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!
You will not wonder, I replied, at my hesitation when you have heard.
Speak, he said, and fear not.
Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in the
face, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I propose to
communicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and
lastly to the people. They are to be told that their youth was a dream,
and the education and training which they received from us, an appearance
only; in reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in the
womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and appurtenances
were manufactured; when they were completed, the earth, their mother, sent
them up; and so, their country being their mother and also their nurse,
they are bound to advise for her good, and to defend her against attacks,
and her citizens they are to regard as children of the earth and their own
You had good reason, he said, to be ashamed of the lie which you were going
True, I replied, but there is more coming; I have only told you half.
Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has
framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the
composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the
greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others
again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and
iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as
all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a
silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. And God proclaims as a first
principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which
they should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such good
guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should observe what elements
mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden or silver parent has
an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition of
ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards the child
because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan,
just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of gold or
silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries.
For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it
will be destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making
our citizens believe in it?
Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing
this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons'
sons, and posterity after them.
I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will
make them care more for the city and for one another. Enough, however, of
the fiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while we
arm our earth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of their
rulers. Let them look round and select a spot whence they can best
suppress insurrection, if any prove refractory within, and also defend
themselves against enemies, who like wolves may come down on the fold from
without; there let them encamp, and when they have encamped, let them
sacrifice to the proper Gods and prepare their dwellings.
Just so, he said.
And their dwellings must be such as will shield them against the cold of
winter and the heat of summer.
I suppose that you mean houses, he replied.
Yes, I said; but they must be the houses of soldiers, and not of shop-
What is the difference? he said.
That I will endeavour to explain, I replied. To keep watch-dogs, who, from
want of discipline or hunger, or some evil habit or other, would turn upon
the sheep and worry them, and behave not like dogs but wolves, would be a
foul and monstrous thing in a shepherd?
Truly monstrous, he said.
And therefore every care must be taken that our auxiliaries, being stronger
than our citizens, may not grow to be too much for them and become savage
tyrants instead of friends and allies?
Yes, great care should be taken.
And would not a really good education furnish the best safeguard?
But they are well-educated already, he replied.
I cannot be so confident, my dear Glaucon, I said; I am much more certain
that they ought to be, and that true education, whatever that may be, will
have the greatest tendency to civilize and humanize them in their relations
to one another, and to those who are under their protection.
Very true, he replied.
And not only their education, but their habitations, and all that belongs
to them, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as guardians,
nor tempt them to prey upon the other citizens. Any man of sense must
Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to
realize our idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have any
property of his own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should
they have a private house or store closed against any one who has a mind to
enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by trained
warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; they should agree to
receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses
of the year and no more; and they will go to mess and live together like
soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from
God; the diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of
the dross which is current among men, and ought not to pollute the divine
by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner metal has been the source
of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled. And they alone of all
the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same
roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will be their
salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State. But should they
ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will become
housekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants
instead of allies of the other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting
and being plotted against, they will pass their whole life in much greater
terror of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to
themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at hand. For all which
reasons may we not say that thus shall our State be ordered, and that these
shall be the regulations appointed by us for guardians concerning their
houses and all other matters?
Yes, said Glaucon.
End Book III.