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

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?

Y. Soc. Well, Stranger, it looks as though our account of the statesman were complete now.

Str. That would be a fine thing for us, Socrates. But not you alone must think so; I must think so, too, in agreement with you. As a matter of fact, however, in my opinion our figure of the king is not yet perfect, but like statue-makers who sometimes in their misapplied enthusiasm make too numerous and too large additions and thus delay the completion of their several works, we too, at this time, wishing to make quick progress, and also to make clear in a grand style the error of our previous course, and, moreover, fancying that the use of great illustrations was proper in the case of a king, have taken up a marvellous mass of myth and have consequently been obliged to use a greater part of it than we should. So we have made our discourse too long and after all have never made an end of the tale, but our talk, just like a picture of a living creature, seems to have a good enough outline, but not yet to have received the clearness that comes from pigments and the blending of colors. And yet it is more fitting to portray any living being by speech and argument than by painting or any handicraft whatsoever to persons who are able to follow argument; but to others it is better to do it by means of works of craftsmanship.

Y. Soc. That is true; but explain wherein you think our exposition is still deficient.

Str. It is difficult, my dear fellow, to set forth any of the greater ideas, except by the use of examples; for it would seem that each of us knows everything that he knows as if in a dream and then again, when he is as it were awake, knows nothing of it all.

Y. Soc. What do you mean by that?

Str. I seem at present in absurd fashion to have touched upon our experience in regard to knowledge.

Y. Soc. In what respect?

Str. Why, my friend, the very example I employ requires another example. [*](i.e. the nature of example is to be explained below by means of an example. The example of the letters of the alphabet is employed also in the Plat. Theaet. 202 ff, but the Stranger cannot properly refer to that, as he was not present at the time. Or is this a dramatic slip on Plato’s part?)

Y. Soc. Indeed? What is it? Don’t hesitate to tell on my account.

Str. I will tell, since you on your part are prepared to listen. We know that children, when they are just getting some knowledge of letters—

Y. Soc. Well?

Str. Recognize the several letters well enough in the short and easy syllables, and can make correct statements about them.

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. And then again in other syllables they are in doubt about those same letters, and err in opinion and speech about them.

Y. Soc. Yes, certainly.

Str. Would not the easiest and best way to lead them to the letters which they do not yet know be this?

Y. Soc. What?

Str. To lead them first to those cases in which they had correct opinions about these same letters and then to lead them and set them beside the groups which they did not yet recognize and by comparing them to show that their nature is the same in both combinations alike, and to continue until the letters about which their opinions are correct have been shown in juxtaposition with all those of which they are ignorant. Being shown in this way they become examples [*](There is here a play on the words παρα-τιθέμενα δειχθῇ, δειχθέντα δέ, παρα-δείγματα Placed beside, they are shown and being shown, they become paradigms, i.e. objects of comparison, i.e. examples.) and bring it about that every letter is in all syllables always called by the same name, either by differentiation from the other letters, in case it is different, or because it is the same.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Is this, then, a satisfactory definition, that an example is formed when that which is the same in some second unconnected thing is rightly conceived and compared with the first, so that the two together form one true idea?

Y. Soc. Evidently.

Str. Can we wonder, then, that our soul, whose nature involves it in the same uncertainty about the letters or elements of all things, is sometimes in some cases firmly grounded in the truth about every detail, and again in other cases is all at sea about everything, and somehow or other has correct opinions about some combinations, and then again is ignorant of the same things when they are transferred to the long and difficult syllables of life?

Y. Soc. Surely we need not wonder at that.

Str. No; for could anyone, my friend, who begins with false opinion, ever attain to even a small part of truth and acquire wisdom?

Y. Soc. No; it is hardly possible.

Str. Then if this is the case, would it be a bad thing if you and I first tried to see in another small and partial example the nature of example in general, with the intention of transferring afterwards the same figurative method from lesser things to the most exalted eminence of the king, and trying by means of an example to become acquainted in a scientific way with the management of states, in order that this may be waking knowledge for us, not dream knowledge?

Y. Soc. That is a very good idea.

Str. Then we must take up our former argument again, and since there are countless others who contend that they, rather than the royal class, have the care of states, we must accordingly remove all these and isolate the king; and, as we said, to accomplish this we need an example.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. What example could we apply which is very small, but has the same kind of activity as statesmanship and would enable us satisfactorily to discover that which we seek? What do you say, Socrates, if we have nothing else at hand, to taking at random the art of weaving, and, if you please, not the whole of that? For I fancy the art of weaving wool will be enough; if we choose that part only it will probably furnish us with the illustration we desire.

Y. Soc. Agreed.

Str. Then just as we divided each subject before by cutting off parts from parts, why not now apply the same process to the art of weaving and, by going through all the steps as briefly as we possibly can, arrive quickly at that which serves our present purpose?

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. I will answer you by actually going through the process.

Y. Soc. Excellent

Str. Well, then, all things which we make or acquire are for the sake of doing something or else they are for defence against suffering; and of the defensive class some are spells and antidotes, both divine and human, and some are material defences; and of the material defences some are equipment for war and some are protections; and of protections some are screens and some are defences against heat and cold; and such defences are either shelters or coverings; and coverings are either rugs to spread under us or wrappings to wrap round us; and wrappings are either all of one piece or composed of several pieces; and of the composite garments some are stitched and others put together without stitching; and of the unstitched some are made of the fibres of plants and some are of hair; and of those made with hair some are stuck together with liquids and cement and others are fastened without any such extraneous matter. Now to these protective coverings made of materials fastened without extraneous matter we give the name of clothes; and just as we called the art statecraft which was concerned with the state, so we shall call the art concerned with clothes, from the nature of its activity, clothes-making, shall we not? And may we say further that weaving, in so far as the greatest part of it is, as we saw, concerned with the making of clothes, differs in name only from this art of clothes-making, just as in the other case the royal art differed from statecraft?

Y. Soc. That is perfectly correct.

Str. Let us next reflect that a person might think that this description of the art of weaving was satisfactory, because he cannot understand that it has not yet been distinguished from the closely co-operative arts, though it has been separated from many other kindred arts.

Y. Soc. What kindred arts?

Str. You do not seem to have followed what I have been saying; so I think I had better go back again and begin at the end. For if you understand what I mean by kinship, we distinguished from clothing something akin to it a moment ago when we separated rugs from it by the distinction between spreading under and wrapping round.

Y. Soc. I understand.

Str. And we removed the entire manufacture of cloth made from flax and broom-cords and all that we just now called vegetable fibres; and then, too, we separated off the process of felting and the kind of joining that employs piercing and sewing, most important of which is the shoemaker’s art.

Y. Soc. Yes, to be sure.

Str. And we separated off the art of making coverings of leather in single pieces and all the arts of making shelters, which we find in house-building and carpentering in general and in other methods of protection against water, and all the arts which furnish protection against theft and acts of violence, the arts, that is to say, of making lids and constructing doors, which are regarded as parts of the joiner’s art; and we cut off the armorer’s art, which is a section of the great and various function of making defences; and at the very beginning we cut off the whole art of magic which is concerned with antidotes and spells, and we have left, as it would seem, just the art we were seeking, which furnishes protection from the weather, manufactures a defence of wool, and is called the art of weaving.

Y. Soc. That seems to be the case.

Str. But, my boy, this is not yet completely stated; for the man who is engaged in the first part of the making of clothes appears to do something the opposite of weaving.

Y. Soc. How so?

Str. The process of weaving is, I take it, a kind of joining together.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. But the first part I refer to is a separation of what is combined and matted together.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. The work of the carder’s art. Or shall we have the face to say that carding is weaving and the carder is a weaver?

Y. Soc. No, certainly not.

Str. And surely if we say the art of making the warp or the woof is the art of weaving, we are employing an irrational and false designation.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Well then, shall we say that the whole arts of fulling and mending are no part of the care and treatment of clothes, or shall we declare that these also are entirely included in the art of weaving?

Y. Soc. By no means.

Str. But surely all these will contest the claim of the art of weaving in the matter of the treatment and the production of clothes; they will grant that the part of weaving is the most important, but will claim that their own parts are of some importance, too.

Y. Soc. Yes, certainly.

Str. Then we must believe that besides these the arts which produce the tools by means of which the works of weaving are accomplished will claim to be collaborators in every work of weaving.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. Will our definition of the art of weaving (I mean the part of it we selected) be satisfactory if we say that of all the activities connected with woollen clothing it is the noblest and the greatest? Or would that, although it contains some truth, yet lack clearness and completeness until we separate from weaving all these other arts?

Y. Soc. You are right.

Str. Then shall our next move be to do this, that our discussion may proceed in due order?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. First, then, let us observe that there are two arts involved in all production.

Y. Soc. What are they?

Str. The one is a contingent cause, the other is the actual cause.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. Those arts which do not produce the actual thing in question, but which supply to the arts which do produce it the tools without which no art could ever perform its prescribed work, may be called contingent causes, and those which produce the actual thing are causes.

Y. Soc. At any rate, that is reasonable.

Str. Next, then, shall we designate all the arts which produce spindles, shuttles, and the various other tools that partake in the production of clothing as contingent causes, and those which treat and manufacture the clothing itself as causes?

Y. Soc. Quite right.