And so, Glaucon, we have arrived at the conclusion that in the perfect
State wives and children are to be in common; and that all education and
the pursuits of war and peace are also to be common, and the best
philosophers and the bravest warriors are to be their kings?
That, replied Glaucon, has been acknowledged.
Yes, I said; and we have further acknowledged that the governors, when
appointed themselves, will take their soldiers and place them in houses
such as we were describing, which are common to all, and contain nothing
private, or individual; and about their property, you remember what we
Yes, I remember that no one was to have any of the ordinary possessions 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 into 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 was the best and who was
the worst of them, we were to consider whether 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 you spoke, and then Polemarchus and Adeimantus
put in their word; and you began again, and have found your way to the
point at which we have now arrived.
Your recollection, I said, is most exact.
Then, like a wrestler, he replied, you must put yourself again in the same
position; and let me ask the same questions, and do you 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 them all, 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 which are
bought and sold, and some other intermediate forms of government. But
these are nondescripts and may be found equally among Hellenes and among
Yes, he replied, we certainly hear of many curious forms of government
which exist among them.
Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the dispositions of men vary,
and that there must be as many of the one as there are of the other? 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 in a 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
Then if the constitutions of States are five, the dispositions of
individual minds will also be five?
Him who answers to aristocracy, and whom we rightly call just and good, 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 see them 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 ought to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus
advises, or in accordance with the conclusions of the argument to prefer
Certainly, he replied, we must do as you say.
Shall we follow our old plan, which we adopted with a view to clearness, 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 oligarchy and
the 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 satisfactory decision.
That way of viewing and judging of the matter will be very suitable.
First, then, I said, let us enquire how timocracy (the government of
honour) arises out of aristocracy (the government of the best). Clearly,
all political changes originate in divisions of the actual governing power;
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 will the two
classes of auxiliaries and rulers disagree among themselves or with one
another? Shall we, after the manner of Homer, pray the Muses to tell us
'how discord first arose'? Shall we imagine them 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 ever, 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 will not be discovered by an
intelligence which is alloyed with sense, but will escape them, and they
will bring children into the world when they ought not. Now that which is
of divine birth has a period which is contained in a perfect number (i.e. a
cyclical number, such as 6, which is equal to the sum of its divisors 1, 2,
3, so that when the circle or time represented by 6 is completed, the
lesser times or rotations represented by 1, 2, 3 are also completed.), but
the period of human birth 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.
(Probably the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 of which the three first = the sides of
the Pythagorean triangle. The terms will then be 3 cubed, 4 cubed, 5
cubed, which together = 6 cubed = 216.) The base of these (3) with a third
added (4) when combined with five (20) and raised to the third power
furnishes two harmonies; the first a square which is a hundred times as
great (400 = 4 x 100) (Or the first a square which is 100 x 100 = 10,000.
The whole number will then be 17,500 = a square of 100, and an oblong of
100 by 75.), and the other a figure having one side equal to the former,
but oblong, consisting of a hundred numbers squared upon rational diameters
of a square (i.e. omitting fractions), the side of which 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) or less by (Or, 'consisting of two
numbers squared upon irrational diameters,' etc. = 100. For other
explanations of the passage see Introduction.) two perfect squares of
irrational diameters (of a square the side of which is five = 50 + 50 =
100); and a hundred cubes of three (27 x 100 = 2700 + 4900 + 400 = 8000).
Now this number represents a geometrical figure which has control over the
good and evil of births. For when your guardians are ignorant of the law
of births, and unite bride and bridegroom out of season, the children will
not be goodly or fortunate. And though only the best of them will be
appointed by their predecessors, still they will be unworthy to hold their
fathers' places, and when they come into power as guardians, they will soon
be found to fail in taking care of us, the Muses, first by under-valuing
music; which neglect will soon extend to gymnastic; and hence the young men
of your State will be less cultivated. In the succeeding generation rulers
will be appointed who have lost the guardian power of testing the metal of
your different races, which, like Hesiod's, are of gold and silver and
brass and iron. 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 sprung,
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 Muses speak
And what do the Muses say next?
When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron
and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver;
but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches
in their own nature, inclined towards virtue 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 were 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 and aristocracy?
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 waging 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 places, having magazines and
treasuries of their own for the deposit and concealment of them; also
castles which are just nests for their eggs, and in which they will spend
large sums on their wives, or on any others whom they please.
That is most true, he said.
And they are miserly because they have no means of openly acquiring the
money which they prize; they will spend that which is another man's on the
gratification of their desires, stealing their pleasures 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 of reason and philosophy, and have honoured gymnastic
more than music.
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 only, is
predominantly seen,--the spirit of contention and ambition; and these are
due to the prevalence of the passionate or spirited element.
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 come into being,
and what is he like?
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 will 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 them, because he has a piece of the
avaricious nature in him, and is not single-minded towards virtue, having
lost his best guardian.
Who was that? said Adeimantus.
Philosophy, I said, tempered with music, who comes and takes up her abode
in a man, and is the only saviour of his virtue throughout life.
Good, he said.
Such, 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 brave father, who
dwells in an ill-governed city, of which he declines the honours and
offices, and will not go to law, or exert himself in any way, but is ready
to waive his rights in order that he may escape trouble.
And how does the son come into being?
The character of the son begins to develope when he hears his mother
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 is annoyed,
and says to her son that his father is only half a man and far 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 to be
attached to the family, from time to time talk privately in the same strain
to the son; and if they see any one who owes money to his father, or is
wronging him in any way, and he fails to prosecute them, they tell the
youth that when he grows up he must retaliate upon people of this sort, and
be more of a man than his father. He has 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 and applauded. The result is that the young man, hearing and
seeing all these things--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 ways: 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 bad company, 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 and ambitious.
You seem to me to have described his origin perfectly.
Then we have now, I said, the second form of government and the second type
Next, let us look at another man who, as Aeschylus says,
'Is set over against another State;'
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
Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one passes into
The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individuals is the ruin
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 riches and virtue are
placed together in the scales of the balance, the one always rises as the
And in proportion as riches and rich men are honoured in the State, virtue
and the virtuous are dishonoured.
And what is honoured is cultivated, and that which has no honour is
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 man, 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 as 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 done their work.
And this, speaking generally, is the way in which oligarchy is established.
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 steer, even though he were a
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 of all.
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 on the same spot and
always conspiring against one another.
That, surely, is at least as bad.
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 of the enemy; or, if they do not call
them out in the hour of battle, 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 persons 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 all, 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 longer a part,
being neither trader, nor artisan, nor horseman, nor hoplite, 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 State 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 nor subject, 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 the hive?
Just so, Socrates.
And God has made the flying drones, Adeimantus, all without stings, whereas
of the walking drones he has made some without stings but others have
dreadful stings; of the stingless class are those who in their old age end
as paupers; of the stingers come all the criminal class, as they are
Most true, he said.
Clearly then, whenever you see paupers in a State, somewhere in that
neighborhood there are hidden away thieves, and cut-purses 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 education,
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 footsteps, but presently
he sees him of a sudden foundering against the State 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 brought to trial under a prejudice raised by
informers, and either put to death, or exiled, or deprived of the
privileges of a citizen, and all his 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 headforemost 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 together. Is not such an one likely
to seat the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne and to
suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and chain and
Most true, he replied.
And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the ground obediently on
either side of their sovereign, and taught them to know their place, 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 admire anything but
riches and rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the
acquisition of wealth and the means of acquiring it.
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 oligarchy came.
Let us then consider whether there is any likeness between them.
First, then, they resemble one another in the value which they set upon
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 they are unprofitable.
He is a shabby fellow, who saves something out of everything and makes a
purse for himself; and this is the sort of man whom the vulgar applaud. 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 have made a
blind god director of his chorus, or given him chief honour.
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 kept down by his general habit of
Do you know where you will have to look if you want to discover his
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 which 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 them, 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 own.
Yes, and they will be strong in him too.
The man, then, will be at war with himself; he will be two men, and not
one; but, in general, his better desires will be found to prevail over his
For these reasons such an one will be more respectable than most people;
yet the true virtue of a unanimous and harmonious soul will flee far away
and never come near him.
I should expect so.
And surely, the miser individually will be an ignoble competitor in a State
for any prize of victory, or other object of honourable ambition; he will
not spend his money in the contest for glory; so afraid is he of awakening
his expensive appetites and inviting them to help and join in the struggle;
in true oligarchical fashion he fights with a small part only of his
resources, and the result commonly is that he loses the prize and saves his
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 judgment.
That, he said, is our method.
Well, I said, and how does the change from oligarchy into democracy arise?
Is it not on this wise?--The good at which such a State aims is to become
as rich as possible, a desire which is insatiable?
The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to
curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain
by their ruin; they take interest from them and buy 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 to beggary?
And still they remain in the city; there they are, ready to sting 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 ruined, insert
their sting--that is, their money--into some one else who is not on his
guard against them, and recover the parent sum many times over multiplied
into a family of children: and so they make drone and pauper to abound in
Yes, he said, there are plenty of them--that is certain.
The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it, either by
restricting a man's use of his own property, or by another remedy:
One which is the next best, and has the advantage of compelling the
citizens to look to their characters:--Let there be a general rule that
every one shall enter into voluntary contracts at his own risk, and there
will be less of this scandalous money-making, and the evils 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 or pain.
They themselves care only for making money, and are as indifferent as the
pauper to the cultivation of virtue.
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 journey or
on some other occasion of meeting, 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 puffing and at his wits'-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 without
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
occasion may be very slight, the one party introducing from without their
oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the State falls
sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at times distracted, even when
there is no external cause.
And then democracy comes into being after the poor have conquered their
opponents, slaughtering some and banishing some, while to 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
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.