Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 8 translated by Harold North Fowler. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1925.

Soc. Really I am greatly indebted to you, Theodorus, for my acquaintance with Theaetetus and with the Stranger, too.

Theo. Presently, Socrates, you will be three times as much indebted, when they have worked out the statesman and the philosopher for you.

Soc. Indeed! My dear Theodorus, can I believe my ears? Were those really the words of the great calculator and geometrician?

Theo. Why, what do you mean, Socrates?

Soc. When you rated sophist, statesman, and philosopher at the same value, though they are farther apart in worth than your mathematical proportion can express.

Theo. By Ammon, our special divinity, [*](Theodorus was from Cyrene, not far from the oasis of Ammon.) that is a good hit, Socrates; evidently you haven’t forgotten your mathematics, and you are quite right in, finding fault with my bad arithmetic. I will get even with you at some other time; but now, Stranger, I turn to you. Do not grow tired of being kind to us, but go on and tell us about the statesman or the philosopher, whichever you prefer to take first.

Str. That is the thing to do, Theodorus, since we have once begun, and we must not stop until we have finished with them. But what shall I do about Theaetetus here?

Theo. In what respect?

Str. Shall we give him a rest and take his schoolmate here, the young Socrates, in his place? What is your advice?

Theo. Make the change as you suggest. They are young, and if they have a chance to rest by turns, they will bear any labor better.

Soc. And besides, Stranger, it seems to me that they are both related to me after a fashion;

Soc. one of them anyhow, as you say, looks like me in his cast of countenance, and the other has the same name and appellation, which implies some sort of kinship. Of course we ought always to be eager to get acquainted with our relatives by debating with them. Now I myself had an argument with Theaetetus yesterday and have been listening to his answers just now, but I do not know Socrates in either way and must examine him, too. But let him reply to you now; my turn will come by and by.

Str. Very well; Socrates, do you hear what Socrates says?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And do you agree?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. There seems to be no objection on your part, and I suppose there should be still less on mine. Well, then, after the sophist, I think it is our next duty to seek for the statesman; so please tell me: should we rank him also among those who have a science, or not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Must the sciences, then, be divided as when we were examining the sophist?

Y. Soc. Perhaps.

Str. In that case, Socrates, I think the division will not be along the same lines.

Y. Soc. How will it be?

Str. Along other lines.

Y. Soc. Very likely.

Str. Where, then, shall we find the statesman’s path? For we must find it, separate it from the rest, and imprint upon it the seal of a single class; then we must set the mark of another single class upon all the other paths that lead away from this, and make our soul conceive of all sciences as of two classes. [*](i.e. one class is to be separated and then all the rest are to be marked as one other class—the familiar division into two parts.)

Y. Soc. This, Stranger, is now your affair, I think, not mine.

Str. And yet, Socrates, it must be your affair, too, when we have found the path.

Y. Soc. Quite true.

Str. Are not arithmetic and certain other kindred arts pure sciences, without regard to practical application, which merely furnish knowledge?

Y. Soc. Yes, they are.

Str. But the science possessed by the arts relating to carpentering and to handicraft in general is inherent in their application, and with its aid they create objects which did not previously exist.

Y. Soc. To be sure.

Str. In this way, then, divide all science into two arts, calling the one practical, and the other purely intellectual.

Y. Soc. Let us assume that all science is one and that these are its two forms.

Str. Shall we then assume that the statesman, king, master, and householder too, for that matter, are all one, to be grouped under one title, or shall we say that there are as many arts as names? But let me rather help you to understand in this way.

Y. Soc. In what way?

Str. By this example: If anyone, though himself in private station, is able to advise one of the public physicians, must not his art be called by the same name as that of the man whom he advises?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Well, then, if a man who is himself in private station is wise enough to advise him who is king of a country, shall we not say that he has the science which the ruler himself ought to possess?

Y. Soc. We shall.

Str. But certainly the science of a true king is kingly science?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And will not he who possesses this science, whether he happen to be a ruler or a private citizen, rightly be called kingly, when considered purely with reference to his art?

Y. Soc. At least he has a right to be.

Str. And surely the householder and the master of a family are the same.

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. Well, so far as government is concerned, is there any difference between the grandeur of a large house and the majesty of a small state?

Y. Soc. No.

Str. Then as for the point we were just discussing, it is clear that all these are the objects of one science, and whether a man calls this the art of kingship or statesmanship or householding, let us not quarrel with him.

Y. Soc. By no means.

Str. But this is plain, that any king can do little with his hands or his whole body toward holding his position, compared with what he can do with the sagacity and strength of his soul.

Y. Soc. Yes, that is plain.

Str. Shall we say, then, that the king is more akin to the intellectual than to the manual or the practical in general?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Shall we, therefore, put all these together as one—the political art and the statesman, the royal art and the king?

Y. Soc. Obviously.

Str. Then we should be proceeding in due order if we should next divide intellectual science?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Now pay attention to see if we can perceive any natural line of cleavage in it.

Y. Soc. Tell us of what sort it is.

Str. Of this sort. We recognized a sort of art of calculation.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. It is, I suppose, most certainly one of the intellectual arts.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. And shall we grant to the art of calculation, when it has found out the difference between numbers, any further function than that of passing judgement on them when found out?

Y. Soc. No, certainly not.

Str. Every architect, too, is a ruler of workmen, not a workman himself.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. As supplying knowledge, not manual labor.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. So he may fairly be said to participate in intellectual science.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. But it is his business, I suppose, not to pass judgement and be done with it and go away, as the calculator did, but to give each of the workmen the proper orders, until they have finished their appointed task.

Y. Soc. You are right.

Str. Then all such sciences, and all those that are in the class with calculating, are alike intellectual sciences, but these two classes differ from one another in the matter of judging and commanding. Am I right?

Y. Soc. I think so.

Str. Then if we bisected intellectual science as a whole and called one part the commanding and the other the judging part, might we say we had made fitting division?

Y. Soc. Yes, in my opinion.

Str. And surely when men are doing anything in common it is pleasant for them to agree.

Y. Soc. Of course it is.

Str. On this point, then, so long as we ourselves are in agreement, we need not bother about the opinions of others.

Y. Soc. Of course not.

Str. Now to which of these two classes is the kingly man to be assigned? Shall we assign him to the art of judging, as a kind of spectator, or rather to the art of commanding, inasmuch as he is a ruler?

Y. Soc. Rather to the latter, of course.

Str. Then once more we must see whether the art of command falls into two divisions. It seems to me that it does, and I think there is much the same distinction between the kingly class and the class of heralds as between the art of men who sell what they themselves produce and that of retail dealers.

Y. Soc. How so?

Str. Retail dealers receive and sell over again the productions of others, which have generally been sold before.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And in like manner heralds receive the purposes of others in the form of orders, and then give the orders a second time to others.

Y. Soc. Very true.

Str. Shall we, then, join the art of the king in the same class with the art of the interpreter, the boatswain, the prophet, the herald, and many other kindred arts, all of which involve giving orders? Or, as we just now made a comparison of functions, shall we now by comparison make a name also—since the class of those who issue orders of their own is virtually nameless—and assign kings to the science of giving orders of one’s own, disregarding all the rest and leaving to someone else the task of naming them? For the object of our present quest is the ruler, not his opposite.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. Then since a reasonable distinction between this class and the rest has been made, by distinguishing the commands given as one’s own or another’s, shall we again divide this class, if there is in it any further line of section?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. I think there is one; please help me in making the section.

Y. Soc. On what line?

Str. Take the case of all those whom we conceive of as rulers who give commands: shall we not find that they all issue commands for the sake of producing something?

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Furthermore it is not at all difficult to divide all that is produced into two classes.

Y. Soc. How?

Str. Of the whole class, some have life and others have no life.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And on these same lines we may, if we like, make a division of the part of intellectual science which commands.

Y. Soc. In what way?

Str. By assigning one part of it to the production of lifeless, the other to that of living objects; and in this way the whole will be divided into two parts.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Let us then leave one half and take up the other, and then let us divide that entire half into two parts.

Y. Soc. Which half shall we take up?

Str. That which issues commands relating to living objects, assuredly. For certainly the science of the king is not, like that of the architect, one which supervises lifeless objects; it is a nobler science, since it exercises its power among living beings and in relation to them alone.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. Now you may notice that the breeding and nurture of living beings is sometimes the nurture of a single animal and sometimes the common care of creatures in droves.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. But we shall find that the statesman is not one who tends a single creature, like the driver of a single ox or the groom who tends a horse; he has more resemblance to a man who tends a herd of cattle or a drove of horses.

Y. Soc. That seems to be true, now that you mention it.

Str. Shall we call the art of caring for many living creatures the art of tending a herd or something like community management?

Y. Soc. Whichever we happen to say.

Str. Good, Socrates! If you preserve this attitude of indifference to mere names, you will turn out richer in wisdom when you are old. But now we will, as you suggest, not trouble ourselves about the name; but do you see a way in which a man may show that the art of herding is twofold, and may thereby cause that which is now sought among a double number of things to be sought among half as many?

Y. Soc. I am quite willing to try. I think one kind is the care of men, the other that of beasts.

Str. You made the division with perfect willingness and courage. However, let us do our best not to fall again into your error.

Y. Soc. What error?

Str. We must not take a single small part, and set it off against many large ones, nor disregard species in making our division. On the contrary, the part must be also a species. It is a very fine thing to separate the object of our search at once from everything else, if the separation can be made correctly, and so, just now, you thought you had the right division and you hurried our discussion along, because you saw that it was leading towards man. But, my friend, it is not safe to whittle off shavings; it is safer to proceed by cutting through the middle, and in that way one is more likely to find classes. This makes all the difference in the conduct of research.

Y. Soc. What do you mean by that, Stranger?

Str. I must try to speak still more clearly, Socrates, out of regard for your capacity. Just at present it is impossible to make the matter entirely plain, but I will try to lay it before you a little more fully for the sake of clearness.

Y. Soc. What is it, then, that you say we did wrongly in making our division just now?

Str. It was very much as if, in undertaking to divide the human race into two parts, one should make the division as most people in this country do; they separate the Hellenic race from all the rest as one, and to all the other races, which are countless in number and have no relation in blood or language to one another, they give the single name barbarian; then, because of this single name, they think it is a single species. Or it was as if a man should think he was dividing number into two classes by cutting off a myriad from all the other numbers, with the notion that he was making one separate class, and then should give one name to all the rest, and because of that name should think that this also formed one class distinct from the other. A better division, more truly classified and more equal, would be made by dividing number into odd and even, and the human race into male and female; as for the Lydians and Phrygians and various others they could be opposed to the rest and split off from them when it was impossible to find and separate two parts, each of which formed a class.

Y. Soc. Very true; but that’s just the trouble, Stranger: how can we get a clearer knowledge of class and part, and see that they are not the same thing, but different?

Str. Socrates, you most excellent young man, it is no small task you impose upon me. We have already strayed away from our subject more than we ought, and you wish us to wander still farther afield. So for the present let us return to our subject, as is proper; then we will go on the trail of this other matter by and by, when we have time. Only take very good care not to imagine that you ever heard me declare flatly—

Y. Soc. What?

Str. That class and part are separate from one another.

Y. Soc. But what did you say?

Str. That when there is a class of anything, it must necessarily be a part of the thing of which it is said to be a class; but there is no necessity that a part be also a class. Please always give this, rather than the other, as my doctrine.

Y. Soc. I will do so.

Str. Then please go on to the next point.

Y. Soc. What is it?

Str. That from which our present digression started. For I think it started when you were asked how the art of herding should be divided and said with great readiness that there were two kinds of living beings, the human race and a second one, a single class, comprising all the beasts.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. And it was clear to me at the time that you removed a part and then thought that the remainder was one class because you were able to call them all by the same name of beasts.

Y. Soc. That is true, too.

Str. But indeed, my most courageous young friend, perhaps, if there is any other animal capable of thought, such as the crane appears to be, or any other like creature, and it perchance gives names, just as you do, it might in its pride of self oppose cranes to all other animals, and group the rest, men included, under one head, calling them by one name, which might very well be that of beasts. Now let us try to be on our guard against all that sort of thing.

Y. Soc. How can we guard against it?

Str. By not dividing the whole class of living beings, that so we may avoid such errors.

Y. Soc. Well, there is no need of dividing the whole.

Str. No, certainly not, for it was in that way that we fell into our former error.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. That part of intellectual science which involves giving commands was a part of our animal-tending class, with especial reference to animals in herds, was it not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Well, even at that stage of our discussion all animals had already been divided into tame and wild. For if their nature admits of domestication they are called tame; if it does not, they are called wild.

Y. Soc. Excellent.

Str. But the science we are hunting for was, and is, to be sought among tame creatures, more specifically creatures in herds.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Let us, then, not make our division as we did before, with a view to all, nor in a hurry, with the idea that we may thus reach political science quickly, for that has already brought upon us the proverbial penalty.

Y. Soc. What penalty?

Str. The penalty of having made less speed, because we made too much haste and did not make our division right.

Y. Soc. And it was a good thing for us, Stranger

Str. I do not deny it. So let us begin again and try to divide the art of tending animals in common; for perhaps the information you desire so much will come to you in the ordinary course of our conversation better than by other means. Tell me—

Y. Soc. What?

Str. Whether, as I suppose, you have often heard people speak of this,— for I know you never actually saw the preserves of fish in the Nile and in the ponds of the Persian king. But perhaps you have noticed the like in fountain-pools.

Y. Soc. Yes, I have often seen the fish in fountain-pools and have heard many tales of those foreign preserves.

Str. And surely, even if you have not wandered over the plains of Thessaly, you have heard of goose-farms and crane-farms there and you believe that they exist.

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. The reason why I asked you all these questions is that the rearing of flocks is in part aquatic and in part an affair of the dry land.

Y. Soc. Yes, that is true.

Str. Then do you agree that we ought to divide the art of tending animals in common into corresponding parts, assigning one part of it to each of these two, and calling one the art of aquatic-herding and the other the art of land-herding?

Y. Soc. Yes, I agree.

Str. And surely we shall not have to ask to which of these two arts kingship belongs, for that is clear to everyone.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Anybody could doubtless make a division of the art of tending herds on land.

Y. Soc. What would the division be?

Str. Into the tending of flying and walking animals.

Y. Soc. Very true.

Str. And statesmanship is to be sought in connection with walking animals, is it not? Any fool, so to speak, would believe that, don’t you think?

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. And the art of tending animals that walk must, like an even number, be divided in half.

Y. Soc. Evidently.

Str. And now I think I see two paths leading in that direction in which our argument has started: the quicker way, by separating a relatively small part and a larger, and the other way, which is more in accord with what we said a while ago about the need of making the division as nearly in the middle as we can, but is longer. So we can proceed by whichever of the two we wish.

Y. Soc. Can we not go by both?

Str. Not by both at once, silly boy; but obviously we can take them in turn.

Y. Soc. Then I choose both in turn.

Str. That is easy enough, since we have but a short distance to go. At the beginning, certainly, or middle of our journey it would have been hard to comply with your demand. But now, since this is your wish, let us go first by the longer way, for we are fresher now and shall get along on it more easily. So attend to the division.

Y. Soc. Go on.

Str. The tame walking animals which live in herds are divided by nature into two classes.

Y. Soc. How by nature?

Str. Because one class is naturally without horns, and the other has horns.

Y. Soc. That is obvious.

Str. Now divide the art of tending herds of walking animals into two parts, assigning one to each class of animals; and define the parts, for if you try to give them names, the matter will become needlessly complicated.

Y. Soc. How shall I speak of them then?

Str. In this way: say that the science which tends herds of walking animals is divided into two parts, one of which is assigned to the horned portion of the herd, the other to the hornless portion.

Y. Soc. Assume that I have said that; for you have made it perfectly clear.

Str. And furthermore our king is very clearly the herdsman of a herd devoid of horns.

Y. Soc. Of course; that is evident.

Str. Let us then try to break up this herd and give the king the part that belongs to him.

Y. Soc. Very well.

Str. Shall we make our division on the basis of having or not having cloven hoofs, or on that of mixing or not mixing the breed? You know what I mean.

Y. Soc. No. What is it?

Str. Why, I mean that horses and asses can breed from each other.

Y. Soc. Oh yes.

Str. But the rest of the herd of hornless tame animals cannot cross the breed.

Y. Soc. That is true, of course.

Str. Well then, does the statesman appear to have charge of a kind that mixes or of one that does not mix the breed?

Y. Soc. Evidently of one that is unmixed.

Str. So I suppose we must proceed as we have done heretofore and divide this into two parts.

Y. Soc. Yes, we must.

Str. And yet tame gregarious animals have all, with the exception of about two species, been already divided; for dogs are not properly to be counted among gregarious creatures.

Y. Soc. No, they are not. But how shall we divide the two species?

Str. As you and Theaetetus ought by rights to divide them, since you are interested in geometry.

Y. Soc. How do you mean?

Str. By the diameter, of course, and again by the diameter of the square of the diameter. [*](The word diameter here denotes the diagonal of a square. The early Greek mathematicians worked out their arithmetical problems largely by geometrical methods (cf. Plat. Theaet. 147 D ff). The diagonal of the unit square (√2) was naturally of especial interest. It was called sometimes, as here simply ἡ διάμετρος, sometimes, as just below,ἡ διάμετρος ἡ δυνάμει δίπους, or, more briefly,ἡ διάμετρος δίπους. Given a square the side of which is the unit (i.e. one square foot), the length of the diagonal will be √2 and the square constructed with that diagonal as its side will contain two square feet. The length of the diagonal of this square will be √4=2 feet, and its area will be four square feet.)

Y. Soc. What do you mean by that?

Str. Is the nature which our human race possesses related to walking in any other way than as the diameter which is the square root of two feet? [*](There is here a play upon words. Man, being a two-footed (δίπους) animal, is compared to the diagonal of the unit square (√2,διάμετρος δίπους).)

Y. Soc. No.

Str. And the nature of the remaining species, again, considered from the point of view of the square root, is the diameter of the square of our root, if it is the nature of twice two feet. [*](i.e. the remaining species is four-footed. Our diameter is √2, and four is the area of the square constructed on the diagonal of the square which has √2 as its side. All this satirizes the tendency of contemporary thinkers to play with numbers.)

Y. Soc. Of course; and now I think I almost understand what you wish to make plain.

Str. Socrates, do we see that besides this something else has turned up in these divisions of ours which would be a famous joke?

Y. Soc. No. What is it?

Str. Our human race shares the same lot and runs in the same heat as the most excellent and at the same time most easy-going race of creatures. [*](The animal referred to is the pig. See P. Shorey, Classical Philology,1917, July, p. 308.)

Y. Soc. Yes, I see that; it is a very queer result.

Str. Indeed? But is it not reasonable that they arrive last, who are the slowest?

Y. Soc. Yes, that is true.

Str. And do we fail to notice this further point, that the king appears in a still more ridiculous light, running along with the herd and paired in the race with the man of all others who is most in training for a life of careless ease? [*](i.e. the swineherd, the pig belonging to γένει εὐχερεστάτῳ.)

Y. Soc. Certainly he does.

Str. For now, Socrates, we have shown more clearly the truth of that which we said yesterday in our search for the sophist. [*](See Plat. Soph. 227B.)

Y. Soc. What was it?

Str. That this method of argument pays no more heed to the noble than to the ignoble, and no less honor to the small than to the great, but always goes on its own way to the most perfect truth.

Y. Soc. So it seems.

Str. Then shall I now, without waiting for you to ask me, guide you of my own accord along that shorter way referred to a moment ago that leads to the definition of the king?

Y. Soc. By all means.

Str. I say, then, that we ought at that time to have divided walking animals immediately into biped and quadruped, then seeing that the human race falls into the same division with the feathered creatures and no others, we must again divide the biped class into featherless and feathered, and when that division is made and the art of herding human beings is made plain, we ought to take the statesmanlike and kingly man and place him as a sort of charioteer therein, handing over to him the reins of the state, because that is his own proper science.

Y. Soc. You have cleared up the argument finely, and as if it were a debt you were paying, you threw in the digression as interest and for good measure.

Str. Now let us go back to the beginning and join together the definition of the name of the statesman’s art link by link to the end.

Y. Soc. By all means.

Str. In the first place we said that intellectual science had a part that gives commands; and a portion of this was called by a comparison the part that gives its own commands; and again the art of rearing living beings was singled out, which is by no means the smallest part of the art which gives its own commands; and a class of rearing living beings was herd-tending, and a part of this again the herding of walking animals; and from the herding of walking animals the art of rearing those without horns was divided. And of this in turn one part will have to be treated as no less than threefold, if it is to be called by one comprehensive name, and it will be called (1) the science (2) of tending herds (3) which do not cross breeds. But the only possible further subdivision of this is the art of herding human beings, and this is at last what we are looking for, the single art called both kingly and statesmanlike.

Y. Soc. That is perfectly true.

Str. And yet, Socrates, have we truly accomplished this, exactly as you have said?

Y. Soc. Accomplished what?

Str. The perfectly satisfactory discussion of our subject. Or is our investigation incomplete in just this detail, that we have given a definition after a fashion, but have not perfectly completed it?

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. I will try to make still plainer to us both the thought which I now have in mind.

Y. Soc. Please do so.

Str. We found just now that there were many arts of herding, and one of them was the art of statesmanship, which was the care of one particular kind of herd, did we not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And our argument defined this, not as the tending of horses or other beasts, but as the science of tending men in common.

Y. Soc. Yes, it did.

Str. Let us, then, observe the point of difference between kings and all other herdsmen.

Y. Soc. What point of difference?

Str. Let us see whether anyone who is designated by the name of another art says and claims that he is fellow manager of the herd in common with any of the other kinds of herdsmen.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. For instance, merchants, husbandmen, and all who prepare grain for use, and also gymnastic trainers and physicians would certainly all dispute with the herdsmen of humanity, whom we have called statesmen, and would assert that they themselves take care of the tending of humanity, and not the tending of the common herd only, but even that of the rulers themselves, would they not?

Y. Soc. And would they be right?

Str. Perhaps. We will examine that matter; but this we know, that no one will ever raise such a contention against any neatherd, but the herdsman himself tends the herd, he is their physician, he is their matchmaker, and he alone knows the midwife’s science of aiding at the birth of their offspring. Moreover, so far as the nature of the creatures allows them to enjoy sport or music, no one can enliven or soothe them better than he; whether with instruments or merely with his voice he performs the music best suited to his own herd; and the same applies to the other herdsmen. Is not that the case?

Y. Soc. You are quite right.

Str. Then how can our discourse about the king be right and free from error, when we pick him out alone as herdsman and tender of the human herd, while countless others dispute his claim?

Y. Soc. It cannot possibly be right.

Str. We suspected a little while ago that although we might be outlining a sort of kingly shape we had not yet perfected an accurate portrait of the statesman, and could not do so until, by removing those who crowd about him and contend with him for a share in his herdsmanship, we separated him from them and made him stand forth alone and uncontaminated. Was our fear justified?

Y. Soc. It certainly was.

Str. Then we must attend to that, Socrates, if we are not to end our argument in disgrace.

Y. Soc. But we certainly must not do that.

Str. Then we must begin again from a new sarting-point and travel by a different road.

Y. Soc. By what road?

Str. By one which offers us some amusement; for there is a famous story a great part of which it is really our duty to insert into our discussion; and then after that we can proceed as before, by eliminating part after part, and in that way reach the ultimate object of our search. Shall we do that?

Y. Soc. By all means.

Str. Then please pay careful attention to my story, just as if you were a child; and anyway you are not much too old for children’s tales.

Y. Soc. Please tell the story.

Str. Of the portents recorded in ancient tales many did happen and will happen again. Such an one is the portent connected with the tale of the quarrel between Atreus and Thyestes. You have doubtless heard of it and remember what is said to have taken place.

Y. Soc. You refer, I suppose, to the token of the golden lamb. [*](Hermes revenged upon the Pelopidae the death of his son Myrtilus by causing a lamb with golden fleece to be born among the flocks of Atreus. When his claim to the succession was disputed, Atreus promised to show this prodigy to prove that the gods were on his side. Thyestes persuaded Aerope, the wife of Atreus, to give him the lamb, and Atreus was in danger of losing his kingdom, had not Zeus, who favored his claim, made the sun and the Pleiades return from their setting towards their rising. This is the form of the story given in a scholium on Eur. Orest. 988, and Plato seems to have this form in mind, though variants existed. The lamb was a token (σημεῖον) of the favor of the gods, and the changed course of the sun and stars was a testimony (μαρτυρήσας) to the right of Atreus.)

Str. Oh no; I mean the change in the rising and setting of the sun and the other heavenly bodies, how in those times they used to set in the quarter where they now rise, and used to rise where they now set, but the god at the time of the quarrel, you recall, changed all that to the present system as a testimony in favor of Atreus.

Y. Soc. Yes, I’ve heard that, too.

Str. And again we have often heard the tale of the reign of Cronus.

Y. Soc. Yes, very often.

Str. And how about the story that the ancient folk were earthborn and not begotten of one another?

Y. Soc. That is one of the old tales, too.

Str. Well, all these stories and others still more remarkable have their source in one and the same event, but in the lapse of ages some of them have been lost and others are told in fragmentary and disconnected fashion. But no one has told the event which is the cause of them all, and so I must tell it now; for that will help us to make clear the nature of the king.

Y. Soc. Very good; just tell your tale and omit nothing.

Str. Listen then. During a certain period God himself goes with the universe as guide in its revolving course, but at another epoch, when the cycles have at length reached the measure of his allotted time, he lets it go, and of its own accord it turns backward in the opposite direction, since it is a living creature and is endowed with intelligence by him who fashioned it in the beginning. Now this reversal of its motion is an inevitable part of its nature for the following reason.

Y. Soc. What reason?

Str. Absolute and perpetual immutability is a property of only the most divine things of all, and body does not belong to this class. Now that which we call heaven and the universe has received from its creator many blessed qualities, but then, too, it partakes also of a bodily nature; therefore it is impossible for it to be entirely free from change; it moves, however, so far as it is able to do so, with a single motion in the same place and the same manner, and therefore it has acquired the reverse motion in a circle, because that involves the least deviation from its own motion. But to turn itself for ever is hardly possible except for the power that guides all moving things; and that this should turn now in one direction and now in the opposite direction is contrary to divine law.

Str. As the result of all this, we must not say either that the universe turns itself always, or that it is always turned by God in two opposite courses, or again that two divinities opposed to one another turn it. The only remaining alternative is what I suggested a little while ago, that the universe is guided at one time by an extrinsic divine cause, acquiring the power of living again and receiving renewed immortality from the Creator, and at another time it is left to itself and then moves by its own motion, being left to itself at such a moment that it moves backwards through countless ages, because it is immensely large and most evenly balanced, and turns upon the smallest pivot.

Y. Soc. All that account of yours appears, at any rate, very reasonable.

Str. Then, in the light of what has been said, let us consider and gain understanding of the event which we said was the cause of all those wonderful portents; for it is really just this.

Y. Soc. Just what?

Str. The fact that at certain periods the universe has its present circular motion, and at other periods it revolves in the reverse direction.

Y. Soc. How was this the cause?

Str. We cannot help believing that of all the changes which take place in the heavens this reversal is the greatest and most complete.

Y. Soc. It certainly seems to be so.

Str. Therefore we must also believe that at the same time the greatest changes come upon us who dwell within the heavens.

Y. Soc. That is likely too.

Str. And animals cannot well endure many great and various changes at once. That is a familiar fact, is it not?

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Inevitably, then, there is at that time great destruction of animals in general, and only a small part of the human race survives; and the survivors have many experiences wonderful and strange, the greatest of which, a consequence of the reversal of everything at the time when the world begins to turn in the direction opposed to that of its present revolution, is this. [*](The tale of Atreus introduces the fanciful theory of the reversal of the revolution of the heavenly bodies, and this, especially in an age when the stars were believed to exercise a direct influence upon mankind and other creatures, naturally brings with it the reversal of all processes of growth. This leads to a new birth of mankind, and the Stranger then briefly describes the age of innocence, the fall of man and the barbarism that follows, and the partial restoration of man through divine interposition and the gift of the various arts of civilization. Plato does not offer this as a real explanation of the existing condition of the world, but it serves, like the myths introduced in other dialogues to present, in connection with accepted mythology, a theory which may account for some of the facts of life.)

Y. Soc. What is that experience?

Str. First the age of all animals, whatever it was at the moment, stood still, and every mortal creature stopped growing older in appearance and then reversed its growth and became, as it were, younger and more tender; the hoary locks of the old men grew dark, and bearded cheeks grew smooth again as their possessors reverted to their earlier ages, and the bodies of young men grew smoother and smaller day by day and night by night, until they became as new-born babes, to which they were likened in mind and body; and then at last they wasted away entirely and wholly disappeared. And the bodies of those who died by violence in those times quickly underwent the same changes, were destroyed, and disappeared in a few days.

Y. Soc. But then, Stranger, how did animals come into existence in those days? How were they begotten of one another?

Str. It is clear, Socrates, that being begotten of one another was no part of the natural order of that time, but the earth-born race which, according to tradition, once existed, was the race which returned at that time out of the earth; and the memory of it was preserved by our earliest ancestors, who were born in the beginning of our period and therefore were next neighbors to the end of the previous period of the world’s revolution, with no interval between. For they were to us the heralds of these stories which are nowadays unduly disbelieved by many people. For you must, I think, consider what would result. It is a natural consequence of the return of the old to childhood that those who are dead and lying in the earth take shape and come to life again, since the process of birth is reversed along with the reversal of the world’s revolution; for this reason they are inevitably earth-born, and hence arises their name and the tradition about them, except those of them whom God removed to some other fate. [*](This may refer to philosophers (cf. Plat. Phaedo 82c) or, more probably, to those who, like Menelaus, were transferred to the abode of the blessed, or, like Heracles, became gods. Such individuals would be exempt from the consequences of any subsequent reversal of the World’s revolution.)

Y. Soc. Certainly that follows from what preceded. But was the life in the reign of Cronus, which you mentioned, in that previous period of revolution or in ours? For evidently the change in the course of the stars and the sun takes place in both periods.

Str. You have followed my account very well. No, the life about which you ask, when all the fruits of the earth sprang up of their own accord for men, did not belong at all to the present period of revolution, but this also belonged to the previous one. For then, in the beginning, God ruled and supervised the whole revolution, and so again, in the same way, all the parts of the universe were divided by regions among gods who ruled them, and, moreover, the animals were distributed by species and flocks among inferior deities as divine shepherds, each of whom was in all respects the independent guardian of the creatures under his own care, so that no creature was wild, nor did they eat one another, and there was no war among them, nor any strife whatsoever. To tell all the other consequences of such an order of the world would be an endless task. But the reason for the story of the spontaneous life of mankind is as follows:

Str. God himself was their shepherd, watching over them, just as man, being an animal of different and more divine nature than the rest, now tends the lower species of animals. And under his care there were no states, nor did men possess wives or children; for they all came to life again out of the earth, with no recollection of their former lives. So there were no states or families, but they had fruits in plenty from the trees and other plants, which the earth furnished them of its own accord, without help from agriculture. And they lived for the most part in the open air, without clothing or bedding; for the climate was tempered for their comfort, and the abundant grass that grew up out of the earth furnished them soft couches. That, Socrates, was the life of men in the reign of Cronus; but the life of the present age, which is said to be the age of Zeus, you know by your own experience. Would you be able and willing to decide which of them is the more blessed?

Y. Soc. Certainly not.

Str. Shall I, then, make some sort of a judgement for you?

Y. Soc. Do so, by all means.

Str. Well, then, if the foster children of Cronus, having all this leisure and the ability to converse not only with human beings but also with beasts, made full use of all these opportunities with a view to philosophy, talking with the animals and with one another and learning from every creature that, through possession of some peculiar power he may have had in any respect beyond his fellows perceptions tending towards an increase of wisdom, it would be easy to decide that the people of those old times were immeasurably happier than those of our epoch. Or if they merely ate and drank till they were full and gossiped with each other and the animals, telling such stories as are even now told about them, in that case, too, it would, in my opinion, be very easy to reach a decision. However, let us pass those matters by, so long as there is no one capable of reporting to us what the desires of the people in those days were in regard to knowledge and the employment of speech. The reason why we revived this legend must be told, in order that we may get ahead afterwards. For when the time of all those conditions was accomplished and the change was to take place and all the earth-born race had at length been used up, since every soul had fulfilled all its births by falling into the earth as seed its prescribed number of times, then the helmsman of the universe dropped the tiller and withdrew to his place of outlook, and fate and innate desire made the earth turn backwards.

Str. So, too, all the gods who share, each in his own sphere, the rule of the Supreme Spirit, promptly perceiving what was taking place, let go the parts of the world which were under their care. And as the universe was turned back and there came the shock of collision, as the beginning and the end rushed in opposite directions, it produced a great earthquake within itself and caused a new destruction of all sorts of living creatures. But after that, when a sufficient time had elapsed, there was rest now from disturbance and confusion, calm followed the earthquakes, and the world went on its own accustomed course in orderly fashion, exercising care and rule over itself and all within itself, and remembering and practising the teachings of the Creator and Father to the extent of its power, at first more accurately and at last more carelessly; and the reason for this was the material element in its composition, because this element, which was inherent in the primeval nature, was infected with great disorder before the attainment of the existing orderly universe. For from its Composer the universe has received only good things; but from its previous condition it retains in itself and creates in the animals all the elements of harshness and injustice which have their origin in the heavens. Now as long as the world was nurturing the animals within itself under the guidance of the Pilot, it produced little evil and great good; but in becoming separated from him it always got on most excellently during the time immediately after it was let go, but as time went on and it grew forgetful, the ancient condition of disorder prevailed more and more and towards the end of the time reached its height, and the universe, mingling but little good with much of the opposite sort, was in danger of destruction for itself and those within it. Therefore at that moment God, who made the order of the universe, perceived that it was in dire trouble, and fearing that it might founder in the tempest of confusion and sink in the boundless sea of diversity, he took again his place as its helmsman, reversed whatever had become unsound and unsettled in the previous period when the world was left to itself, set the world in order, restored it and made it immortal and ageless. So now the whole tale is told; but for our purpose of exhibiting the nature of the king it will be enough to revert to the earlier part of the story. For when the universe was turned again into the present path of generation, the age of individuals came again to a stop, and that led to new processes, the reverse of those which had gone before. For the animals which had grown so small as almost to disappear grew larger, and those newly born from the earth with hoary hair died and passed below the earth again.

Str. And all other things changed, imitating the condition of the universe and conforming to it, and so too pregnancy and birth and nurture necessarily imitated and conformed to the rest; for no living creature could any longer come into being by the union of other elements, but just as the universe was ordered to be the ruler of its own course, so in the same way the parts were ordered, so far as they could, to grow and beget and give nourishment of themselves under the same guidance. And now we have come at last to the point for the sake of which this whole discourse was begun. For much might be said, and at great length, about the other animals, their previous forms and the causes of their several changes; but about mankind there is less to say and it is more to our purpose. For men, deprived of the care of the deity who had possessed and tended us, since most of the beasts who were by nature unfriendly had grown fierce, and they themselves were feeble and unprotected, were ravaged by the beasts and were in the first ages still without resources or skill; the food which had formerly offered itself freely had failed them, and they did not yet know how to provide for themselves, because no necessity had hitherto compelled them. On all these accounts they were in great straits; and that is the reason why the gifts of the gods that are told of in the old traditions were given us with the needful information and instruction,—fire by Prometheus, the arts by Hephaestus and the goddess who is his fellow-artisan, seeds and plants by other deities. [*](The fellow-artisan of Hephaestus is Athena; seeds and plants are the gifts of Demeter and Dionysus.) And from these has arisen all that constitutes human life, since, as I said a moment ago, the care of the gods had failed men and they had to direct their own lives and take care of themselves, like the whole universe, which we imitate and follow through all time, being born and living now in our present manner and in that other epoch in the other manner. So, then, let our tale be finished; but we will turn it to account for opening our eyes to the great error we made in the exposition of the king and the statesman in our earlier discussion.

Y. Soc. How, then, did we err, and what is the great error you say we have committed?

Str. In one way we made a comparatively slight error, in another a very important one, much greater and more far-reaching than the first.

Y. Soc. How did we do that?

Str. When we were asked about the king and the statesman of the present movement of the world and mode of generation, we told of the shepherd of the human flock in the time of the reverse movement, and he was a god, not a man, besides. That was a very great error. Then when we declared that he was ruler of the whole state, but did not fully tell in what manner he ruled, what we said was true, though it was not complete nor clear, and therefore our error was less in this case than in the other.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. Apparently, then, we must expect a complete description of the statesman only when we have defined the manner of his rule over the state.

Y. Soc. Very good.

Str. And this is why I introduced the myth, not only in order to show that all men compete for the care of the flock with him whom we are now seeking, but also that we may more clearly see him who alone ought to have the care of human beings as shepherds and neatherds care for their flocks and herds, and therefore alone deserves to be honored with that appellation.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. I think, Socrates, that the form of the divine shepherd is greater than that of the king, whereas the statesmen who now exist here are by nature much more like their subjects, with whom they share much more nearly the same breeding and education.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And yet they would have to be investigated with precisely the same care, whether their nature be like that of their subjects or like that of the divine shepherd.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Then let us go back to this point: the art which we said gave its own orders and had to do with living beings, but had charge of them not singly but in common, and which we at once called the art of the herdsman,—do you remember?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Well, it was in connection with that, somewhere, that we made our mistake; for we never included or named the statesman; unobserved by us he slipped out of our nomenclature.

Y. Soc. How so?

Str. All the other herdsmen have this in common that they feed their respective herds; but the statesman does not, yet we gave him the name of herdsman, when we ought to have given him one which is common to them all.

Y. Soc. True, if there were such a name.

Str. Is not caring for herds common to them all, with no especial mention of feeding or any other activity? If we called it an art of tending herds or caring for them or managing them, as all herdsmen do, we could wrap up the statesman with the rest, since the argument showed that we ought to do so.

Y. Soc. Quite right; but how would the next division be made?

Str. Just as we divided the art of feeding herds before by distinguishing between those that go on foot and the winged, and the unmixed breeds and the hornless, we might divide the art of tending herds by these same distinctions, embracing in the word both the kingship of the present time and that of the time of Cronus.

Y. Soc. Evidently; but again I wonder what the next step is.

Str. It Is clear that if we had used the word tending herds, we should never have met with the contention that there is no caring for them at all in statesmanship, though the earlier contention was justified that there is no art in the case of human beings that deserves the name of feeding, and if there be such an art, it belongs much more to many others than to the king.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. But no other art would advance a stronger claim than that of kingship to be the art of caring for the whole human community and ruling all mankind.

Y. Soc. You are right.

Str. And after all this, Socrates, do we see that another great error was committed at the very end?

Y. Soc. What was it?

Str. Why, it was this: No matter how strong our belief that there was an art of feeding the biped herd, we ought not to have called it kingship and statecraft on the spot, as if it were all quite settled.

Y. Soc. What ought we to have done, then?

Str. In the first place, as we said, we ought to have remodelled the name, making it denote care, rather than feeding, and then we ought to have divided the art, for it may still admit of not unimportant divisions.

Y. Soc. What are they?

Str. There is one by which we might have divided the divine shepherd from the human caretaker.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. And again it was essential that the art of caretaking thus isolated and assigned to man be divided into two parts.

Y. Soc. On what line of division?

Str. On that of compulsory and voluntary.

Y. Soc. Why is that?

Str. Because this was about the point at which we made our mistake before; we were more simple-minded than we should have been, and we put the king and the tyrant together, whereas they and their respective modes of ruling are quite unlike.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. But now shall we, as I said, correct ourselves and divide the care of humanity into two parts, by the criterion of the compulsory and the voluntary?

Y. Soc. By all means.

Str. And if we call the art of those who use compulsion tyrannical or something of the sort and the voluntary care of voluntary bipeds political, may we not declare that he who possesses this latter art of caretaking is really the true king and statesman?