Such is the good and true City or State, and the good and true man is of
the same pattern; and if this is right every other is wrong; and the evil
is one which affects not only the ordering of the State, but also the
regulation of the individual soul, and is exhibited in four forms.
What are they? he said.
I was proceeding to tell the order in which the four evil forms appeared to
me to succeed one another, when Polemarchus, who was sitting a little way
off, just beyond Adeimantus, began to whisper to him: stretching forth his
hand, he took hold of the upper part of his coat by the shoulder, and drew
him towards him, leaning forward himself so as to be quite close and saying
something in his ear, of which I only caught the words, 'Shall we let him
off, or what shall we do?'
Certainly not, said Adeimantus, raising his voice.
Who is it, I said, whom you are refusing to let off?
You, he said.
I repeated, Why am I especially not to be let off?
Why, he said, we think that you are lazy, and mean to cheat us out of a
whole chapter which is a very important part of the story; and you fancy
that we shall not notice your airy way of proceeding; as if it were
self-evident to everybody, that in the matter of women and children
'friends have all things in common.'
And was I not right, Adeimantus?
Yes, he said; but what is right in this particular case, like everything
else, requires to be explained; for community may be of many kinds.
Please, therefore, to say what sort of community you mean. We have been
long expecting that you would tell us something about the family life of
your citizens--how they will bring children into the world, and rear them
when they have arrived, and, in general, what is the nature of this
community of women and children--for we are of opinion that the right or
wrong management of such matters will have a great and paramount influence
on the State for good or for evil. And now, since the question is still
undetermined, and you are taking in hand another State, we have resolved,
as you heard, not to let you go until you give an account of all this.
To that resolution, said Glaucon, you may regard me as saying Agreed.
And without more ado, said Thrasymachus, you may consider us all to be
I said, You know not what you are doing in thus assailing me: What an
argument are you raising about the State! Just as I thought that I had
finished, and was only too glad that I had laid this question to sleep, and
was reflecting how fortunate I was in your acceptance of what I then said,
you ask me to begin again at the very foundation, ignorant of what a
hornet's nest of words you are stirring. Now I foresaw this gathering
trouble, and avoided it.
For what purpose do you conceive that we have come here, said Thrasymachus,
--to look for gold, or to hear discourse?
Yes, but discourse should have a limit.
Yes, Socrates, said Glaucon, and the whole of life is the only limit which
wise men assign to the hearing of such discourses. But never mind about
us; take heart yourself and answer the question in your own way: What sort
of community of women and children is this which is to prevail among our
guardians? and how shall we manage the period between birth and education,
which seems to require the greatest care? Tell us how these things will
Yes, my simple friend, but the answer is the reverse of easy; many more
doubts arise about this than about our previous conclusions. For the
practicability of what is said may be doubted; and looked at in another
point of view, whether the scheme, if ever so practicable, would be for the
best, is also doubtful. Hence I feel a reluctance to approach the subject,
lest our aspiration, my dear friend, should turn out to be a dream only.
Fear not, he replied, for your audience will not be hard upon you; they are
not sceptical or hostile.
I said: My good friend, I suppose that you mean to encourage me by these
Yes, he said.
Then let me tell you that you are doing just the reverse; the encouragement
which you offer would have been all very well had I myself believed that I
knew what I was talking about: to declare the truth about matters of high
interest which a man honours and loves among wise men who love him need
occasion no fear or faltering in his mind; but to carry on an argument when
you are yourself only a hesitating enquirer, which is my condition, is a
dangerous and slippery thing; and the danger is not that I shall be laughed
at (of which the fear would be childish), but that I shall miss the truth
where I have most need to be sure of my footing, and drag my friends after
me in my fall. And I pray Nemesis not to visit upon me the words which I
am going to utter. For I do indeed believe that to be an involuntary
homicide is a less crime than to be a deceiver about beauty or goodness or
justice in the matter of laws. And that is a risk which I would rather run
among enemies than among friends, and therefore you do well to encourage
Glaucon laughed and said: Well then, Socrates, in case you and your
argument do us any serious injury you shall be acquitted beforehand of the
homicide, and shall not be held to be a deceiver; take courage then and
Well, I said, the law says that when a man is acquitted he is free from
guilt, and what holds at law may hold in argument.
Then why should you mind?
Well, I replied, I suppose that I must retrace my steps and say what I
perhaps ought to have said before in the proper place. The part of the men
has been played out, and now properly enough comes the turn of the women.
Of them I will proceed to speak, and the more readily since I am invited by
For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way, in my opinion,
of arriving at a right conclusion about the possession and use of women and
children is to follow the path on which we originally started, when we said
that the men were to be the guardians and watchdogs of the herd.
Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women to be subject
to similar or nearly similar regulations; then we shall see whether the
result accords with our design.
What do you mean?
What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said: Are dogs
divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in
keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the
males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the
females at home, under the idea that the bearing and suckling their puppies
is labour enough for them?
No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between them is that the
males are stronger and the females weaker.
But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are
bred and fed in the same way?
Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the same
nurture and education?
The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic.
Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war,
which they must practise like the men?
That is the inference, I suppose.
I should rather expect, I said, that several of our proposals, if they are
carried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.
No doubt of it.
Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked
in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no
longer young; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than
the enthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles and ugliness continue to
frequent the gymnasia.
Yes, indeed, he said: according to present notions the proposal would be
But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not
fear the jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of
innovation; how they will talk of women's attainments both in music and
gymnastic, and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon
Very true, he replied.
Yet having begun we must go forward to the rough places of the law; at the
same time begging of these gentlemen for once in their life to be serious.
Not long ago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion,
which is still generally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a
naked man was ridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans and then
the Lacedaemonians introduced the custom, the wits of that day might
equally have ridiculed the innovation.
But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far
better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye
vanished before the better principle which reason asserted, then the man
was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any
other sight but that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the
beautiful by any other standard but that of the good.
Very true, he replied.
First, then, whether the question is to be put in jest or in earnest, let
us come to an understanding about the nature of woman: Is she capable of
sharing either wholly or partially in the actions of men, or not at all?
And is the art of war one of those arts in which she can or can not share?
That will be the best way of commencing the enquiry, and will probably lead
to the fairest conclusion.
That will be much the best way.
Shall we take the other side first and begin by arguing against ourselves;
in this manner the adversary's position will not be undefended.
Why not? he said.
Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. They will say:
'Socrates and Glaucon, no adversary need convict you, for you yourselves,
at the first foundation of the State, admitted the principle that everybody
was to do the one work suited to his own nature.' And certainly, if I am
not mistaken, such an admission was made by us. 'And do not the natures of
men and women differ very much indeed?' And we shall reply: Of course
they do. Then we shall be asked, 'Whether the tasks assigned to men and to
women should not be different, and such as are agreeable to their different
natures?' Certainly they should. 'But if so, have you not fallen into a
serious inconsistency in saying that men and women, whose natures are so
entirely different, ought to perform the same actions?'--What defence will
you make for us, my good Sir, against any one who offers these objections?
That is not an easy question to answer when asked suddenly; and I shall and
I do beg of you to draw out the case on our side.
These are the objections, Glaucon, and there are many others of a like
kind, which I foresaw long ago; they made me afraid and reluctant to take
in hand any law about the possession and nurture of women and children.
By Zeus, he said, the problem to be solved is anything but easy.
Why yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of his depth,
whether he has fallen into a little swimming bath or into mid ocean, he has
to swim all the same.
And must not we swim and try to reach the shore: we will hope that Arion's
dolphin or some other miraculous help may save us?
I suppose so, he said.
Well then, let us see if any way of escape can be found. We acknowledged--
did we not? that different natures ought to have different pursuits, and
that men's and women's natures are different. And now what are we saying?
--that different natures ought to have the same pursuits,--this is the
inconsistency which is charged upon us.
Verily, Glaucon, I said, glorious is the power of the art of contradiction!
Why do you say so?
Because I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will.
When he thinks that he is reasoning he is really disputing, just because he
cannot define and divide, and so know that of which he is speaking; and he
will pursue a merely verbal opposition in the spirit of contention and not
of fair discussion.
Yes, he replied, such is very often the case; but what has that to do with
us and our argument?
A great deal; for there is certainly a danger of our getting
unintentionally into a verbal opposition.
In what way?
Why we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal truth, that
different natures ought to have different pursuits, but we never considered
at all what was the meaning of sameness or difference of nature, or why we
distinguished them when we assigned different pursuits to different natures
and the same to the same natures.
Why, no, he said, that was never considered by us.
I said: Suppose that by way of illustration we were to ask the question
whether there is not an opposition in nature between bald men and hairy
men; and if this is admitted by us, then, if bald men are cobblers, we
should forbid the hairy men to be cobblers, and conversely?
That would be a jest, he said.
Yes, I said, a jest; and why? because we never meant when we constructed
the State, that the opposition of natures should extend to every
difference, but only to those differences which affected the pursuit in
which the individual is engaged; we should have argued, for example, that a
physician and one who is in mind a physician may be said to have the same
Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different natures?
And if, I said, the male and female sex appear to differ in their fitness
for any art or pursuit, we should say that such pursuit or art ought to be
assigned to one or the other of them; but if the difference consists only
in women bearing and men begetting children, this does not amount to a
proof that a woman differs from a man in respect of the sort of education
she should receive; and we shall therefore continue to maintain that our
guardians and their wives ought to have the same pursuits.
Very true, he said.
Next, we shall ask our opponent how, in reference to any of the pursuits or
arts of civic life, the nature of a woman differs from that of a man?
That will be quite fair.
And perhaps he, like yourself, will reply that to give a sufficient answer
on the instant is not easy; but after a little reflection there is no
Suppose then that we invite him to accompany us in the argument, and then
we may hope to show him that there is nothing peculiar in the constitution
of women which would affect them in the administration of the State.
By all means.
Let us say to him: Come now, and we will ask you a question:--when you
spoke of a nature gifted or not gifted in any respect, did you mean to say
that one man will acquire a thing easily, another with difficulty; a little
learning will lead the one to discover a great deal; whereas the other,
after much study and application, no sooner learns than he forgets; or
again, did you mean, that the one has a body which is a good servant to his
mind, while the body of the other is a hindrance to him?--would not these
be the sort of differences which distinguish the man gifted by nature from
the one who is ungifted?
No one will deny that.
And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex has not
all these gifts and qualities in a higher degree than the female? Need I
waste time in speaking of the art of weaving, and the management of
pancakes and preserves, in which womankind does really appear to be great,
and in which for her to be beaten by a man is of all things the most
You are quite right, he replied, in maintaining the general inferiority of
the female sex: although many women are in many things superior to many
men, yet on the whole what you say is true.
And if so, my friend, I said, there is no special faculty of administration
in a state which a woman has because she is a woman, or which a man has by
virtue of his sex, but the gifts of nature are alike diffused in both; all
the pursuits of men are the pursuits of women also, but in all of them a
woman is inferior to a man.
Then are we to impose all our enactments on men and none of them on women?
That will never do.
One woman has a gift of healing, another not; one is a musician, and
another has no music in her nature?
And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises, and another
is unwarlike and hates gymnastics?
And one woman is a philosopher, and another is an enemy of philosophy; one
has spirit, and another is without spirit?
That is also true.
Then one woman will have the temper of a guardian, and another not. Was
not the selection of the male guardians determined by differences of this
Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they
differ only in their comparative strength or weakness.
And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the
companions and colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they
resemble in capacity and in character?
And ought not the same natures to have the same pursuits?
Then, as we were saying before, there is nothing unnatural in assigning
music and gymnastic to the wives of the guardians--to that point we come
The law which we then enacted was agreeable to nature, and therefore not an
impossibility or mere aspiration; and the contrary practice, which prevails
at present, is in reality a violation of nature.
That appears to be true.
We had to consider, first, whether our proposals were possible, and
secondly whether they were the most beneficial?
And the possibility has been acknowledged?
The very great benefit has next to be established?
You will admit that the same education which makes a man a good guardian
will make a woman a good guardian; for their original nature is the same?
I should like to ask you a question.
What is it?
Would you say that all men are equal in excellence, or is one man better
And in the commonwealth which we were founding do you conceive the
guardians who have been brought up on our model system to be more perfect
men, or the cobblers whose education has been cobbling?
What a ridiculous question!
You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not further say that our
guardians are the best of our citizens?
By far the best.
And will not their wives be the best women?
Yes, by far the best.
And can there be anything better for the interests of the State than that
the men and women of a State should be as good as possible?
There can be nothing better.
And this is what the arts of music and gymnastic, when present in such
manner as we have described, will accomplish?
Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest degree
beneficial to the State?
Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their
robe, and let them share in the toils of war and the defence of their
country; only in the distribution of labours the lighter are to be assigned
to the women, who are the weaker natures, but in other respects their
duties are to be the same. And as for the man who laughs at naked women
exercising their bodies from the best of motives, in his laughter he is
'A fruit of unripe wisdom,'
and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he is about;
--for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings, That the useful is
the noble and the hurtful is the base.
Here, then, is one difficulty in our law about women, which we may say that
we have now escaped; the wave has not swallowed us up alive for enacting
that the guardians of either sex should have all their pursuits in common;
to the utility and also to the possibility of this arrangement the
consistency of the argument with itself bears witness.
Yes, that was a mighty wave which you have escaped.
Yes, I said, but a greater is coming; you will not think much of this when
you see the next.
Go on; let me see.
The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that has preceded,
is to the following effect,--'that the wives of our guardians are to be
common, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his
own child, nor any child his parent.'
Yes, he said, that is a much greater wave than the other; and the
possibility as well as the utility of such a law are far more questionable.
I do not think, I said, that there can be any dispute about the very great
utility of having wives and children in common; the possibility is quite
another matter, and will be very much disputed.
I think that a good many doubts may be raised about both.
You imply that the two questions must be combined, I replied. Now I meant
that you should admit the utility; and in this way, as I thought, I should
escape from one of them, and then there would remain only the possibility.
But that little attempt is detected, and therefore you will please to give
a defence of both.
Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little favour: let me
feast my mind with the dream as day dreamers are in the habit of feasting
themselves when they are walking alone; for before they have discovered any
means of effecting their wishes--that is a matter which never troubles
them--they would rather not tire themselves by thinking about
possibilities; but assuming that what they desire is already granted to
them, they proceed with their plan, and delight in detailing what they mean
to do when their wish has come true--that is a way which they have of not
doing much good to a capacity which was never good for much. Now I myself
am beginning to lose heart, and I should like, with your permission, to
pass over the question of possibility at present. Assuming therefore the
possibility of the proposal, I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers
will carry out these arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan,
if executed, will be of the greatest benefit to the State and to the
guardians. First of all, then, if you have no objection, I will endeavour
with your help to consider the advantages of the measure; and hereafter the
question of possibility.
I have no objection; proceed.
First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to be worthy of
the name which they bear, there must be willingness to obey in the one and
the power of command in the other; the guardians must themselves obey the
laws, and they must also imitate the spirit of them in any details which
are entrusted to their care.
That is right, he said.
You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now
select the women and give them to them;--they must be as far as possible of
like natures with them; and they must live in common houses and meet at
common meals. None of them will have anything specially his or her own;
they will be together, and will be brought up together, and will associate
at gymnastic exercises. And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their
natures to have intercourse with each other--necessity is not too strong a
word, I think?
Yes, he said;--necessity, not geometrical, but another sort of necessity
which lovers know, and which is far more convincing and constraining to the
mass of mankind.
True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed after an
orderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is an unholy
thing which the rulers will forbid.
Yes, he said, and it ought not to be permitted.
Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in the highest
degree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred?
And how can marriages be made most beneficial?--that is a question which I
put to you, because I see in your house dogs for hunting, and of the nobler
sort of birds not a few. Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever
attended to their pairing and breeding?
In what particulars?
Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort, are not some
better than others?
And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed
from the best only?
From the best.
And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age?
I choose only those of ripe age.
And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would
And the same of horses and animals in general?
Good heavens! my dear friend, I said, what consummate skill will our rulers
need if the same principle holds of the human species!
Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this involve any
Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon the body
corporate with medicines. Now you know that when patients do not require
medicines, but have only to be put under a regimen, the inferior sort of
practitioner is deemed to be good enough; but when medicine has to be
given, then the doctor should be more of a man.
That is quite true, he said; but to what are you alluding?
I mean, I replied, that our rulers will find a considerable dose of
falsehood and deceit necessary for the good of their subjects: we were
saying that the use of all these things regarded as medicines might be of
And we were very right.
And this lawful use of them seems likely to be often needed in the
regulations of marriages and births.
Why, I said, the principle has been already laid down that the best of
either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with
the inferior, as seldom as possible; and that they should rear the
offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is
to be maintained in first-rate condition. Now these goings on must be a
secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our
herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.
Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together
the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable
hymeneal songs composed by our poets: the number of weddings is a matter
which must be left to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to
preserve the average of population? There are many other things which they
will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any
similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State
from becoming either too large or too small.
Certainly, he replied.
We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy
may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will
accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers.
To be sure, he said.
And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours
and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given
them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as
many sons as possible.
And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to
be held by women as well as by men--
The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen
or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in
a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better
when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious,
unknown place, as they should be.
Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept
They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the fold
when they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no
mother recognises her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if
more are required. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling
shall not be protracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up
at night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the
nurses and attendants.
You suppose the wives of our guardians to have a fine easy time of it when
they are having children.
Why, said I, and so they ought. Let us, however, proceed with our scheme.
We were saying that the parents should be in the prime of life?
And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of about
twenty years in a woman's life, and thirty in a man's?
Which years do you mean to include?
A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the
State, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin at five-and-
twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beats
quickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five.
Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are the prime of
physical as well as of intellectual vigour.
Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the public
hymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the
child of which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been
conceived under auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at
each hymeneal priestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that
the new generation may be better and more useful than their good and useful
parents, whereas his child will be the offspring of darkness and strange
Very true, he replied.
And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age
who forms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the
sanction of the rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to
the State, uncertified and unconsecrated.
Very true, he replied.
This applies, however, only to those who are within the specified age:
after that we allow them to range at will, except that a man may not marry
his daughter or his daughter's daughter, or his mother or his mother's
mother; and women, on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their
sons or fathers, or son's son or father's father, and so on in either
direction. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strict
orders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the
light; and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand
that the offspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange
That also, he said, is a reasonable proposition. But how will they know
who are fathers and daughters, and so on?
They will never know. The way will be this:--dating from the day of the
hymeneal, the bridegroom who was then married will call all the male
children who are born in the seventh and tenth month afterwards his sons,
and the female children his daughters, and they will call him father, and
he will call their children his grandchildren, and they will call the elder
generation grandfathers and grandmothers. All who were begotten at the
time when their fathers and mothers came together will be called their
brothers and sisters, and these, as I was saying, will be forbidden to
inter-marry. This, however, is not to be understood as an absolute
prohibition of the marriage of brothers and sisters; if the lot favours
them, and they receive the sanction of the Pythian oracle, the law will
Quite right, he replied.
Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guardians of our State
are to have their wives and families in common. And now you would have the
argument show that this community is consistent with the rest of our
polity, and also that nothing can be better--would you not?
Shall we try to find a common basis by asking of ourselves what ought to be
the chief aim of the legislator in making laws and in the organization of a
State,--what is the greatest good, and what is the greatest evil, and then
consider whether our previous description has the stamp of the good or of
By all means.
Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality
where unity ought to reign? or any greater good than the bond of unity?
And there is unity where there is community of pleasures and pains--where
all the citizens are glad or grieved on the same occasions of joy and
Yes; and where there is no common but only private feeling a State is
disorganized--when you have one half of the world triumphing and the other
plunged in grief at the same events happening to the city or the citizens?
Such differences commonly originate in a disagreement about the use of the
terms 'mine' and 'not mine,' 'his' and 'not his.'
And is not that the best-ordered State in which the greatest number of
persons apply the terms 'mine' and 'not mine' in the same way to the same
Or that again which most nearly approaches to the condition of the
individual--as in the body, when but a finger of one of us is hurt, the
whole frame, drawn towards the soul as a centre and forming one kingdom
under the ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together
with the part affected, and we say that the man has a pain in his finger;
and the same expression is used about any other part of the body, which has
a sensation of pain at suffering or of pleasure at the alleviation of
Very true, he replied; and I agree with you that in the best-ordered State
there is the nearest approach to this common feeling which you describe.
Then when any one of the citizens experiences any good or evil, the whole
State will make his case their own, and will either rejoice or sorrow with
Yes, he said, that is what will happen in a well-ordered State.
It will now be time, I said, for us to return to our State and see whether
this or some other form is most in accordance with these fundamental
Our State like every other has rulers and subjects?
All of whom will call one another citizens?
But is there not another name which people give to their rulers in other
Generally they call them masters, but in democratic States they simply call
And in our State what other name besides that of citizens do the people
give the rulers?
They are called saviours and helpers, he replied.
And what do the rulers call the people?
Their maintainers and foster-fathers.
And what do they call them in other States?
And what do the rulers call one another in other States?
And what in ours?
Did you ever know an example in any other State of a ruler who would speak
of one of his colleagues as his friend and of another as not being his
Yes, very often.
And the friend he regards and describes as one in whom he has an interest,
and the other as a stranger in whom he has no interest?
But would any of your guardians think or speak of any other guardian as a
Certainly he would not; for every one whom they meet will be regarded by
them either as a brother or sister, or father or mother, or son or
daughter, or as the child or parent of those who are thus connected with
Capital, I said; but let me ask you once more: Shall they be a family in
name only; or shall they in all their actions be true to the name? For
example, in the use of the word 'father,' would the care of a father be
implied and the filial reverence and duty and obedience to him which the
law commands; and is the violator of these duties to be regarded as an
impious and unrighteous person who is not likely to receive much good
either at the hands of God or of man? Are these to be or not to be the
strains which the children will hear repeated in their ears by all the
citizens about those who are intimated to them to be their parents and the
rest of their kinsfolk?
These, he said, and none other; for what can be more ridiculous than for
them to utter the names of family ties with the lips only and not to act in
the spirit of them?
Then in our city the language of harmony and concord will be more often
heard than in any other. As I was describing before, when any one is well
or ill, the universal word will be 'with me it is well' or 'it is ill.'
And agreeably to this mode of thinking and speaking, were we not saying
that they will have their pleasures and pains in common?
Yes, and so they will.
And they will have a common interest in the same thing which they will
alike call 'my own,' and having this common interest they will have a
common feeling of pleasure and pain?
Yes, far more so than in other States.
And the reason of this, over and above the general constitution of the
State, will be that the guardians will have a community of women and
That will be the chief reason.
And this unity of feeling we admitted to be the greatest good, as was
implied in our own comparison of a well-ordered State to the relation of
the body and the members, when affected by pleasure or pain?
That we acknowledged, and very rightly.
Then the community of wives and children among our citizens is clearly the
source of the greatest good to the State?
And this agrees with the other principle which we were affirming,--that the
guardians were not to have houses or lands or any other property; their pay
was to be their food, which they were to receive from the other citizens,
and they were to have no private expenses; for we intended them to preserve
their true character of guardians.
Right, he replied.
Both the community of property and the community of families, as I am
saying, tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not tear the city
in pieces by differing about 'mine' and 'not mine;' each man dragging any
acquisition which he has made into a separate house of his own, where he
has a separate wife and children and private pleasures and pains; but all
will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and pains because
they are all of one opinion about what is near and dear to them, and
therefore they all tend towards a common end.
Certainly, he replied.
And as they have nothing but their persons which they can call their own,
suits and complaints will have no existence among them; they will be
delivered from all those quarrels of which money or children or relations
are the occasion.
Of course they will.
Neither will trials for assault or insult ever be likely to occur among
them. For that equals should defend themselves against equals we shall
maintain to be honourable and right; we shall make the protection of the
person a matter of necessity.
That is good, he said.