All Search Options [ view abbreviations ]. Hide browse bar Your current position in the text is marked in blue. Click anywhere in the line to jump to another position:. Socrates When I had said this I supposed that I was done with the subject, but it all turned out to be only a prelude.
For tell me: do you agree that there is a kind of good 2 which we would choose to possess, not from desire for its after effects, but welcoming it for its own sake? As, for example, joy and such pleasures are harmless 3 and nothing results from them afterwards save to have and to hold the enjoyment. For of them we would say that they are laborious and painful yet beneficial, and for their own sake [ d ] we would not accept them, but only for the rewards and other benefits that accrue from them.
But what of it?
But I, it seems, am somewhat slow to learn. For Thrasymachus seems to me to have given up to you too soon, as if he were a serpent 7 that you had charmed, but I am not yet satisfied with the proof that has been offered about justice and injustice.
For what I desire is to hear what each of them is and what potency and effect it has in and of itself dwelling in the soul, 8 but to dismiss their rewards and consequences. This, then, is what I propose to do, with your concurrence.
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I will renew [ c ] the argument of Thrasymachus and will first state what men say is the nature and origin of justice; secondly, that all who practise it do so reluctantly, regarding it as something necessary 9 and not as a good; and thirdly, that they have plausible grounds for thus acting, since forsooth the life of the unjust man is far better than that of the just man—as they say; though I, Socrates, don't believe it.
Yet I am disconcerted when my ears are dinned by the arguments of Thrasymachus and innumerable others. What I desire is to hear an encomium on justice in and by itself. And I think I am most likely to get that from you. For which reason I will lay myself out in praise of the life of injustice, and in so speaking will give you an example of the manner in which I desire to hear from you in turn the dispraise of injustice and the praise of justice. Consider whether my proposal pleases you.
By nature, 11 they say, to commit injustice is a good and to suffer it is an evil, but that the excess of evil in being wronged is greater than the excess of good in doing wrong. So that when men do wrong and are wronged by one another and taste of both, those who lack the power [ a ] to avoid the one and take the other determine that it is for their profit to make a compact with one another neither to commit nor to suffer injustice; and that this is the beginning of legislation and covenants between men, and that they name the commandment of the law the lawful and the just, and that this is the genesis and essential nature of justice—a compromise between the best, which is to do wrong with impunity, and the worst, which is to be wronged and be impotent to get one's revenge.
Justice, they tell us, being mid-way between the two, is accepted and approved, [ b ] not as a real good, but as a thing honored in the lack of vigor to do injustice, since anyone who had the power to do it and was in reality 'a man' would never make a compact with anybody either to wrong nor to be wronged; for he would be mad. The nature, then, of justice is this and such as this, Socrates, and such are the conditions in which it originates, according to the theory. We should then catch the just man in the very act of resorting to the same conduct as the unjust man because of the self-advantage which every creature by its nature pursues as a good, while by the convention of law 12 it is forcibly diverted to paying honor to 'equality.
And when the shepherds held their customary assembly to make their monthly report to the king about the flocks, he also attended wearing the ring. So as he sat there it chanced that he turned the collet of the ring towards himself, towards the inner part of his hand, and when this took place they say that he became invisible 15 [ a ] to those who sat by him and they spoke of him as absent and that he was amazed, and again fumbling with the ring turned the collet outwards and so became visible.
On noting this he experimented with the ring to see if it possessed this virtue, and he found the result to be that when he turned the collet inwards he became invisible, and when outwards visible; and becoming aware of this, he immediately managed things so that he became one of the messengers [ b ] who went up to the king, and on coming there he seduced the king's wife and with her aid set upon the king and slew him and possessed his kingdom.
If now there should be two such rings, and the just man should put on one and the unjust the other, no one could be found, it would seem, of such adamantine 16 temper as to persevere in justice and endure to refrain his hands from the possessions of others and not touch them, though he might with impunity take what he wished even from the marketplace, [ c ] and enter into houses and lie with whom he pleased, and slay and loose from bonds whomsoever he would, and in all other things conduct himself among mankind as the equal of a god.
And yet this is a great proof, one might argue, that no one is just of his own will but only from constraint, in the belief that justice is not his personal good, inasmuch as every man, when he supposes himself to have the power to do wrong, does wrong. For if anyone who had got such a licence within his grasp should refuse to do any wrong or lay his hands on others' possessions, he would be regarded as most pitiable 18 and a great fool by all who took note of it, 19 though they would praise him 20 before one another's faces, deceiving one another because of their fear of suffering injustice.
So much for this point.
How, then, is this separation to be made? Thus: we must subtract nothing of his injustice from the unjust man or of his justice from the just, but assume the perfection of each in his own mode of conduct. In the first place, the unjust man must act as clever craftsmen do: a first-rate pilot or physician, for example, feels the difference between impossibilities 22 and possibilities in his art [ a ] and attempts the one and lets the others go; and then, too, if he does happen to trip, he is equal to correcting his error.
Similarly, the unjust man who attempts injustice rightly must be supposed to escape detection if he is to be altogether unjust, and we must regard the man who is caught as a bungler. To the perfectly unjust man, then, we must assign perfect injustice and withhold nothing of it, but we must allow him, while committing the greatest wrongs, to have secured for himself the greatest reputation for justice; [ b ] and if he does happen to trip, 25 we must concede to him the power to correct his mistakes by his ability to speak persuasively if any of his misdeeds come to light, and when force is needed, to employ force by reason of his manly spirit and vigor and his provision of friends and money; and when we have set up an unjust man of this character, our theory must set the just man at his side—a simple and noble man, who, in the phrase of Aeschylus, does not wish to seem but be good.
Then we must deprive him of the seeming. We cannot be sure in that case whether he is just for justice' sake or for the sake of the gifts and the honors.
The republic book 2 and 3
So we must strip him bare of everything but justice and make his state the opposite of his imagined counterpart. But let him hold on his course unchangeable even unto death, [ d ] seeming all his life to be unjust though being just, that so, both men attaining to the limit, the one of injustice, the other of justice, we may pass judgement which of the two is the happier.
What they will say is this: that such being his disposition the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, [ a ] the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified, 30 and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire.
And the saying of Aeschylus 31 was, it seems, far more correctly applicable to the unjust man. Though for my part what he has already said is quite enough to overthrow me and [ e ] incapacitate me for coming to the rescue of justice.
We must set forth the reasoning and the language of the opposite party, of those who commend justice and dispraise injustice, if what I conceive to be Glaucon's meaning is to be made more clear. Fathers, when they address exhortations to their sons, and all those who have others in their charge, 38 [ a ] urge the necessity of being just, not by praising justice itself, but the good repute with mankind that accrues from it, the object that they hold before us being that by seeming to be just the man may get from the reputation office and alliances and all the good things that Glaucon just now enumerated as coming to the unjust man from his good name.
But those people draw out still further this topic of reputation.
The Ideal City - Republic Book 2 Summary (2 of 2)
WD ff. And Musaeus and his son 39 have 40 a more excellent song 41 than these of the blessings that the gods bestow on the righteous. For they conduct them to the house of Hades in their tale and arrange a symposium of the saints, 42 where, reclined on couches crowned with wreaths, [ d ] they entertain the time henceforth with wine, as if the fairest meed of virtue were an everlasting drunk.
And others extend still further the rewards of virtue from the gods.
For they say that the children's children 43 of the pious and oath-keeping man and his race thereafter never fail. Such and such-like are their praises of justice.
But the impious and the unjust they bury in mud 44 in the house of Hades and compel them to fetch water in a sieve, 45 and, while they still live, [ e ] they bring them into evil repute, and all the sufferings that Glaucon enumerated as befalling just men who are thought to be unjust, these they recite about the unjust, but they have nothing else to say.
All with one accord reiterate that soberness and righteousness are fair and honorable, to be sure, but unpleasant and laborious, while licentiousness and injustice are pleasant and easy to win and are only in opinion and by convention disgraceful.
They say that injustice pays better than justice, for the most part, and they do not scruple to felicitate bad men who are rich or have other kinds of power to do them honor in public and private, and to dishonor [ b ] and disregard those who are in any way weak or poor, even while admitting that they are better men than the others.
But the strangest of all these speeches are the things they say about the gods 47 and virtue, how so it is that the gods themselves assign to many good men misfortunes and an evil life but to their opposites a contrary lot; and begging priests 48 and soothsayers go to rich men's doors and make them believe that they by means of sacrifices and incantations have accumulated a treasure of power from the gods 49 that can expiate and cure with pleasurable festivals [ c ] any misdeed of a man or his ancestors, and that if a man wishes to harm an enemy, at slight cost he will be enabled to injure just and unjust alike, since they are masters of spells and enchantments 50 that constrain the gods to serve their end.
The consequences of my being just are, unless I likewise seem so, not assets, 54 they say, but liabilities, labor and total loss; but if I am unjust and have procured myself a reputation for justice a godlike life is promised. For a front and a show 55 I must draw about myself a shadow-line of virtue, but trail behind me the fox of most sage Archilochus, 56 shifty and bent on gain.
Nay, 'tis objected, it is not easy for a wrong-doer always to lie hid. But all the same if we expect to be happy, we must pursue the path to which the footprints of our arguments point.
For with a view to lying hid we will organize societies and political clubs, 58 and there are teachers of cajolery 59 who impart the arts of the popular assembly and the court-room. So that, partly by persuasion, partly by force, we shall contrive to overreach with impunity. But against the gods, it may be said, neither secrecy nor force can avail. Well, if there are no gods, or they do not concern themselves with the doings of men, [ e ] neither need we concern ourselves with eluding their observation.
The Republic Summary and Analysis of Book III
We must believe them in both or neither. And if we are to believe them, the thing to do is to commit injustice and offer sacrifice [ a ] from fruits of our wrongdoing. Yes, it will be objected, but we shall be brought to judgement in the world below for our unjust deeds here, we or our children's children. If we combine this with a counterfeit decorum, we shall prosper to our heart's desire, with gods and men in life and death, as the words of the multitude and of men of the highest authority declare.
In consequence, then, of all that has been said, what possibility is there, Socrates, that any man [ c ] who has the power of any resources of mind, money, body, or family should consent to honor justice and not rather laugh 65 when he hears her praised? In sooth, if anyone is able to show the falsity of these arguments, and has come to know with sufficient assurance that justice is best, he feels much indulgence for the unjust, and is not angry with them, but is aware that except a man by inborn divinity of his nature disdains injustice, or, having won to knowledge, refrains from it, [ d ] no one else is willingly just, but that it is from lack of manly spirit or from old age or some other weakness 66 that men dispraise injustice, lacking the power to practise it.
The fact is patent.
For no sooner does such one come into the power than he works injustice to the extent of his ability. And the sole cause of all this is the fact that was the starting-point of this entire plea of my friend here and of myself to you, Socrates, pointing out how strange it is that of all you [ e ] self-styled advocates of justice, from the heroes of old whose discourses survive to the men of the present day, not one has ever censured injustice or commended justice otherwise than in respect of the repute, the honors, and the gifts that accrue from each.
But what each one of them is in itself, by its own inherent force, when it is within the soul of the possessor and escapes the eyes of both gods and men, no one has ever adequately set forth in poetry or prose—the proof that the one is the greatest of all evils that the soul contains within itself, while justice is the greatest good. But I— [ b ] for I have no reason to hide anything from you—am laying myself out to the utmost on the theory, because I wish to hear its refutation from you.
Do not merely show us by argument that justice is superior to injustice, but make clear to us what each in and of itself does to its possessor, whereby the one is evil and the other good. But do away with the repute of both, as Glaucon urged. For, unless you take away from either the true repute and attach to each the false, we shall say that it is not justice that you are praising but the semblance, [ c ] nor injustice that you censure, but the seeming, and that you really are exhorting us to be unjust but conceal it, and that you are at one with Thrasymachus in the opinion that justice is other man's good, 68 the advantage of the other, and that injustice is advantageous and profitible to oneself but disadvantageous to the inferior.
Since, then, you have admitted that justice belongs to the class of those highest goods which are desirable both for their consequences and still more for their own sake, as sight, hearing, intelligence, yes and health too, [ d ] and all other goods that are productive 69 by their very nature and not by opinion, this is what I would have you praise about justice—the benefit which it and the harm which injustice inherently works upon its possessor.
But the rewards and the honors that depend on opinion, leave to others to praise. For while I would listen to others who thus commended justice and disparaged injustice, bestowing their praise and their blame on the reputation and the rewards of either, I could not accept that sort of thing from you unless you say I must, because you have passed [ e ] your entire life 70 in the consideration of this very matter.
Do not then, I repeat, merely prove to us in argument the superiority of justice to injustice, but show us what it is that each inherently does to its possessor—whether he does or does not escape the eyes of gods and men—whereby the one is good and the other evil. For there must indeed be a touch of the god-like in your disposition if you are not convinced that injustice is preferable to justice though you can plead its case in such fashion. I infer this from your general character since from your words alone I should have distrusted you.
But the more I trust you the more I am at a loss what to make of the matter. I do not know how I can come to the rescue.
For I doubt my ability by reason that you have not accepted the arguments whereby I thought I proved against Thrasymachus that justice is better than injustice. Nor yet again do I know how I can refuse to come to the rescue. For I fear lest [ c ] it be actually impious to stand idly by when justice is reviled and be faint-hearted and not defend her so long as one has breath and can utter his voice.
The best thing, then, is to aid her as best I can.
So, since we are not clever persons, I think we should employ the method of search that we should use if we, with not very keen vision, were bidden to read small letters from a distance, and then someone had observed that these same letters exist elsewhere larger and on a larger surface.
We should have accounted it a godsend, I fancy, to be allowed to read those letters first, and examine the smaller, if they are the same. If it please you, then, [ a ] let us first look for its quality in states, and then only examine it also in the individual, looking for the likeness of the greater in the form of the less. I fancy it is no slight task.
The Republic Summary
Reflect, then. Do you think any other principle establishes the state? Its real creator, as it appears, will be our needs. Will there not be a farmer for one, and a builder, and then again a weaver? And shall we add thereto a cobbler and some other purveyor for the needs of body? Shall each of these contribute his work for the common use of all?