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

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.

Str. And among the causal arts we may properly include washing and mending and all the care of clothing in such ways; and, since the art of adornment is a wide one, we may classify them as a part of it under the name of fulling.

Y. Soc. Good.

Str. And, again, carding and spinning and all the processes concerned with the actual fabrication of the clothing under consideration, form collectively one art familiar to every one—the art of wool-working.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. And wool-working comprises two divisions, and each of these is a part of two arts at once.

Y. Soc. How is that?

Str. Carding, and one half of the use of the weaver’s rod, [*](The weaver’s rod (for the Greeks appear to have used a rod, not a comb) was used to drive the threads of the woof close together, and also to keep the threads of the warp and woof distinct (cf. Plat. Crat. 388a). All the processes here described, familiar as they were to the ancients, have been done away with, or, at least, greatly modified, in Europe and America by the modern methods of industry.) and the other crafts which separate things that are joined—all this collectively is a part of the art of wool-working; and in all things we found two great arts, that of composition and that of division.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Now carding and all the other processes just mentioned are parts of the art of division; for the art of division in wool and threads, exercised in one way with the rod and in another with the hands, has all the names just mentioned.

Y. Soc. Yes, certainly.

Str. Then let us again take up something which is at once a part of the arts of composition and of wool-working. Let us put aside all that belongs to division, making two parts of wool-working, by applying the principles of division and of composition.

Y. Soc. Let us make that distinction.

Str. The part which belongs at once to composition and to wool-working, Socrates, you must allow us to divide again, if we are to get a satisfactory concept of the aforesaid art of weaving.

Y. Soc. Then we must divide it.

Str. Yes, we must; and let us call one part of it the art of twisting threads, and the other the art of intertwining them.

Y. Soc. I am not sure I understand. By the art of twisting I think you mean the making of the warp.

Str. Not that only, but also the making of the woof. We shall not find that the woof is made without twisting, shall we?

Y. Soc. No, of course not.

Str. Well, just define warp and woof; perhaps the definition would serve you well at this junction.

Y. Soc. How shall I do it?

Str. In this way: A piece of carded wool, which is lengthened out and is wide, is said to be a lap of wool, is it not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And if any such lap of wool is twisted with a spindle and made into a hard thread, we call the thread warp, and the art which governs this process is the art of spinning the warp.

Y. Soc. Right.

Str. And the threads, in turn, which are more loosely twisted and have in respect to the force used in the carding a softness adapted to the interweaving with the warp we will call the woof, and the art devoted to these we will call the art of preparing the woof. [*](i.e. the pull (ὁλκή)of the carder’s comb was less strong in the preparation of the threads of the woof than in that of the threads of the warp.)

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. So now the part of the art of weaving which we chose for our discussion is clear to pretty much every understanding; for when that part of the art of composition which is included in the art of weaving forms a web by the right intertwining of woof and warp, we call the entire web a woollen garment, and the art which directs this process we call weaving.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. Very good. Then why in the world did we not say at once that weaving is the intertwining of woof and warp? Why did we beat about the bush and make a host of futile distinctions?

Y. Soc. For my part, I thought nothing that was said was futile, Stranger.

Str. And no wonder; but perhaps you might change your mind. Now to avoid any such malady, in case it should, as is not unlikely, attack you frequently hereafter, I will propose a principle of procedure which is applicable to all cases of this sort.

Y. Soc. Do so.

Str. First, then, let us scrutinize the general nature of excess and deficiency, for the sake of obtaining a rational basis for any praise or blame we may bestow upon excessive length or brevity in discussions of this kind.

Y. Soc. Yes, that is a good thing to do.

Str. Then the proper subjects for our consideration would, I fancy, be these.

Y. Soc. What?

Str. Length and shortness and excess and deficiency in general; for all of them may be regarded as the subjects of the art of measurement.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. Let us, then, divide that art into two parts; that is essential for our present purpose.

Y. Soc. Please tell how to make the division.

Str. In this way: one part is concerned with relative greatness or smallness, the other with the something without which production would not be possible.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. Do you not think that, by the nature of the case, we must say that the greater is greater than the less and than nothing else, and that the less is less than the greater and than nothing else?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. But must we not also assert the real existence of excess beyond the standard of the mean, and of inferiority to the mean, whether in words or deeds, and is not the chief difference between good men and bad found in such excess or deficiency?

Y. Soc. That is clear.

Str. Then we must assume that there are these two kinds of great and small, and these two ways of distinguishing between them; we must not, as we did a little while ago, say that they are relative to one another only, but rather, as we have just said, that one kind is relative in that way, and the other is relative to the standard of the mean. Should we care to learn the reason for this?

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. If we assert that the greater has no relation to anything except the less, it will never have any relation to the standard of the mean, will it?

Y. Soc. No.

Str. Will not this doctrine destroy the arts and their works one and all, and do away also with statesmanship, which we are now trying to define, and with weaving, which we did define? For all these are doubtless careful about excess and deficiency in relation to the standard of the mean; they regard them not as non-existent, but as real difficulties in actual practice, and it is in this way, when they preserve the standard of the mean, that all their works are good and beautiful.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And if we do away with the art of statesmanship, our subsequent search for the kingly art will be hopeless, will it not?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Then just as in the case of the sophist [*](Plat. Soph. 235) we forced the conclusion that not-being exists, since that was the point at which we had lost our hold of the argument, so now we must force this second conclusion, that the greater and the less are to be measured in relation, not only to one another, but also to the establishment of the standard of the mean, must we not? For if this is not admitted, neither the statesman nor any other man who has knowledge of practical affairs can be said without any doubt to exist.

Y. Soc. Then we must by all means do now the same that we did then.

Str. This, Socrates, is a still greater task than that was; and yet we remember how long that took us; but it is perfectly fair to make about them some such assumption as this.

Y. Soc. As what?

Str. That sometime we shall need this principle of the mean for the demonstration of absolute precise truth. But our belief that the demonstration is for our present purpose good and sufficient is, in my opinion, magnificently supported by this argument—that we must believe that all the arts alike exist and that the greater and the less are measured in relation not only to one another but also to the establishment of the standard of the mean. For if this exists, they exist also, and if they exist, it exists also, but neither can ever exist if the other does not.

Y. Soc. That is quite right. But what comes next?

Str. We should evidently divide the science of measurement into two parts in accordance with what has been said. One part comprises all the arts which measure number, length, depth, breadth, and thickness in relation to their opposites; the other comprises those which measure them in relation to the moderate, the fitting, the opportune, the needful, and all the other standards that are situated in the mean between the extremes.

Y. Soc. Both of your divisions are extensive, and there is a great difference between them.

Str. Yes, for what many clever persons occasionally say, Socrates, fancying that it is a wise remark, namely, that the science of measurement has to do with everything, is precisely the same as what we have just said. For in a certain way all things which are in the province of art do partake of measurement; but because people are not in the habit of considering things by dividing them into classes, they hastily put these widely different relations [*](i.e. relations to each other and relations to the standard of the mean.) into the same category, thinking they are alike; and again they do the opposite of this when they fail to divide other things into parts. What they ought to do is this: when a person at first sees only the unity or common quality of many things, he must not give up until he sees all the differences in them, so far as they exist in classes; and conversely, when all sorts of dissimilarities are seen in a large number of objects he must find it impossible to be discouraged or to stop until has gathered into one circle of similarity all the things which are related to each other and has included them in some sort of class on the basis of their essential nature. No more need be said, then, about this or about deficiency and excess; let us only bear carefully in mind that two kinds of measurement which apply to them have been found, and let us remember what those kinds are.

Y. Soc. We will remember.

Str. Now that we have finished this discussion, let us take up another which concerns the actual objects of our inquiry and the conduct of such discussions in general.

Y. Soc. What is it?

Str. Suppose we were asked the following question about a group of pupils learning their letters: When a pupil is asked of what letters some word or other composed, is the question asked for the sake of the one particular word before him or rather to make him more learned about all words in the lesson?

Y. Soc. Clearly to make him more learned about them all.

Str. And how about our own investigation of the statesman? Has it been undertaken for the sake of his particular subject or rather to make us better thinkers about all subjects?

Y. Soc. Clearly this also is done with a view to them all.

Str. Of course no man of sense would wish to pursue the discussion of weaving for its own sake; but most people, it seems to me, fail to notice that some things have sensible resemblances which are easily perceived; and it is not at all difficult to show them when anyone wishes, in response to a request for an explanation of some one of them, to exhibit them easily without trouble and really without explanation. But, on the other hand, the greatest and noblest conceptions have no image wrought plainly for human vision, which he who wishes to satisfy the mind of the inquirer can apply to some one of his senses and by mere exhibition satisfy the mind.

Str. We must therefore endeavor by practice to acquire the power of giving and understanding a rational definition of each one of them; for immaterial things, which are the noblest and greatest, can be exhibited by reason only, and it is for their sake that all we are saying is said. But it is always easier to practise in small matters than in greater ones.

Y. Soc. Excellent.

Str. Let us, then, remember the reason for all that we have said about these matters.

Y. Soc. What is the reason?

Str. The reason is chiefly just that irritating impatience which we exhibited in relation to the long talk about weaving and the revolution of the universe and the sophist’s long talk about the existence of not-being. [*](See Plat. theaet. 283, Plat. Theaet. 277, Plat. Soph. 261) We felt that they were too long, and we reproached ourselves for all of them, fearing that our talk was not only long, but irrelevant. Consider, therefore, that the reason for what has just been said is my wish to avoid any such impatience in the future.

Y. Soc. Very well. Please go on with what you have to say.

Str. What I have to say, then, is that you and I, remembering what has just been said, must praise or blame the brevity or length of our several discussions, not by comparing their various lengths with one another, but with reference to that part of the science of measurement which we said before must be borne in mind; I mean the standard of fitness.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. But we must not always judge of length by fitness, either. For we shall not in the least want a length that is fitted to give pleasure, except, perhaps, as a secondary consideration; and again reason counsels us to accept fitness for the easiest and quickest completion of the inquiry in which we are engaged, not as the first, but as the second thing to be desired. By far our first and most important object should be to exalt the method itself of ability to divide by classes, and therefore, if a discourse, even though it be very long, makes the hearer better able to discover the truth, we should accept it eagerly and should not be offended by its length, or if it is short, we should judge it in the same way. And, moreover, anyone who finds fault with the length of discourses in our discussions, or objects to roundabout methods, must not merely find fault with the speeches for their length and then pass them quickly and hastily by, but he must also show that there is ground for the belief that if they had been briefer they would have made their hearers better dialecticians and quicker to discover through reason the truth of realities. About other people and the praise or blame they direct towards other qualities in discourse, we need not be concerned; we need not even appear to hear them. But enough of this, if you feel about it as I do; so let us go back to the statesman and apply to him the example of weaving that we spoke of a while ago.

Y. Soc. Very well; let us do so.

Str. The art of the king, then, has been separated from most of the kindred arts, or rather from all the arts that have to do with herds. There remain, however, the arts that have to do with the state itself. These are both causes and contingent causes, and our first duty is to separate them from one another.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. It is not easy to divide them into halves, you know. But I think the reason will nevertheless be clear as we go on.

Y. Soc. Then we had better divide in another way.

Str. Let us divide them, then, like an animal that is sacrificed, by joints, since we cannot bisect them; for we must always divide into a number of parts as near two as possible.

Y. Soc. How shall we do it in the present instance?

Str. Just as in the previous case, you know, we classed all the arts which furnished tools for weaving as contingent causes.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. So now we must do the same thing, but it is even more imperative. For all the arts which furnish any implement, great or small, for the state, must be classed as contingent causes; for without them neither state nor statesmanship could ever exist, and yet I do not suppose we shall reckon any of them as the work of the kingly art.

Y. Soc. No.

Str. We shall certainly be undertaking a hard task in separating this class from the rest; for it might be said that everything that exists is the instrument of something or other, and the statement seems plausible. But there are possessions of another kind in the state, about which I wish to say something.

Y. Soc. What do you wish to say?

Str. That they do not possess this instrumental function. For they are not, like tools or instruments, made for the purpose of being causes of production, but exist for the preservation of that which has been produced.

Y. Soc. What is this class of possessions?

Str. That very various class which is made with dry and wet materials and such as are wrought by fire and without fire; it is called collectively the class of receptacles; it is a very large class and has, so far as I can see, nothing at all to do with the art we are studying.

Y. Soc. No, of course not.

Str. And there is a third very large class of possessions to be noticed, differing from these; it is found on land and on water, it wanders about and is stationary, it is honorable and without honor, but it has one name, because the whole class is always a seat for some one and exists to be sat upon.

Y. Soc. What is it?

Str. We call it a vehicle, and it certainly is not at all the work of statesmanship, but much rather that of the arts of carpentry, pottery and bronze-working.

Y. Soc. I understand.

Str. And is there a fourth class? Shall we say that there is one, differing from those three, one to which most of the things we have mentioned belong—all clothing, most arms, all circuit walls of earth or of stone, and countless other things? And since they are all made for defence, they may most rightly be called by the collective name of defence, and this may much more properly be considered for the most part the work of the art of building or of weaving than of statesmanship.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And should we care to make a fifth class, of ornamentation and painting and all the imitations created by the use of painting and music solely for our pleasure and properly included under one name?

Y. Soc. What is its name?

Str. It is called by some such name as plaything.

Y. Soc. To be sure.

Str. So this one name will properly be applied to all the members of this class; for none of them is practised for any serious purpose, but all of them merely for play.

Y. Soc. I understand that pretty well, too.

Str. And shall we not make a sixth class of that which furnishes to all these the materials of which and in which all the arts we have mentioned fashion their works, a very various class, the offspring of many other arts?

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. Gold and silver and all the products of the mines and all the materials which tree-felling and wood-cutting in general cut and provide for carpentry and basket-weaving; and then, too, the art of stripping the bark from plants and the leather-worker’s art which takes off the skins of animals, and all the other arts which have to do with such matters, and those that make corks and paper and cords and enable us to manufacture composite classes of things from kinds that are not composite. We call all this, as one class, the primary and simple possession of man, and it is in no way the work of the kingly science.

Y. Soc. Good.

Str. And property in food and all the things which, mingling parts of themselves with parts of the body, have any function of keeping it in health, we may say is the seventh class, and we will call it collectively our nourishment, unless we have some better name to give it. All this we can assign to the arts of husbandry, hunting, gymnastics, medicine, and cooking more properly than to that of statesmanship.

Y. Soc. Of course.

Str. Now I think I have in these seven classes mentioned nearly all kinds of property except tame animals. See: there was the primary possession, which ought in justice to have been placed first, and after this the instrument, receptacle, vehicle, defence, plaything, nourishment. Whatever we have omitted, unless some important thing has been overlooked, can find its place in one of those classes; for instance, the group of coins, seals, and stamps, for there is not among these any kinship such as to form a large class, but some of them can be made to fit into the class of ornaments, others into that of instruments, though the classification is somewhat forced. All property in tame animals, except slaves, is included in the art of herding, which has already been divided into parts.

Y. Soc. Yes quite true.

Str. There remains the class of slaves and servants in general, and here I prophesy that we shall find those who set up claims against the king for the very fabric of his art, just as the spinners and carders and the rest of whom we spoke advanced claims against the weavers a while ago. All the others, whom we called contingent causes, have been removed along with the works we just mentioned and have been separated from the activity of the king and the statesman.

Y. Soc. That seems to be the case, at least.

Str. Come then, let us step up and look from close at hand at those who are left, that so we may know them more surely.

Y. Soc. Yes, that is what we should do.

Str. We shall find, then, that the greatest servants, when seen from near at hand, are in conduct and condition the opposite of that which we suspected.

Y. Soc. Who are they?

Str. The bought servants, acquired by purchase, whom we can without question call slaves. They make no claim to any share in the kingly art.

Y. Soc. Certainly not.

Str. How about those free men who put themselves voluntarily in the position of servants of those whom we mentioned before? I mean the men who carry about and distribute among one another the productions of husbandry and the other arts, whether in the domestic marketplaces or by travelling from city to city by land or sea, exchanging money for wares or money for money, the men whom we call brokers, merchants, shipmasters, and peddlers; do they lay any claim to statesmanship?

Y. Soc. Possibly to commercial statesmanship

Str. But certainly we shall never find laborers, whom we see only too glad to serve anybody for hire, claiming a share in the kingly art.

Y. Soc. Certainly not.

Str. But there are people who perform services of another kind. How about them?

Y. Soc. What services and what men do you mean?

Str. The class of heralds and those who become by long practice skilled as clerks and other clever men who perform various services in connection with public offices. What shall we call them?

Y. Soc. What you called the others, servants; they are not themselves rulers in the states.

Str. But surely it was no dream that made me say we should find somewhere in this region those who more than others lay claim to the art of statesmanship; and yet it would be utterly absurd to look for them in any servile position.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. But let us draw a little closer still to those whom we have not yet examined. There are men who have to do with divination and possess a portion of a certain menial science; for they are supposed to be interpreters of the gods to men.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And then, too, the priests, according to law and custom, know how to give the gods, by means of sacrifices, the gifts that please them from us and by prayers to ask for us the gain of good things from them; now these are both part of a servant’s art.

Y. Soc. At least they seem to be so.

Str. At last, then, I think we are, as it were, on the track of our quarry. For the bearing of the priests and prophets is indeed full of pride, and they win high esteem because of the magnitude of their undertakings. In Egypt, for example, no king can rule without being a priest, and if he happens to have forced his way to the throne from some other class, he must enroll himself in the class of priests afterwards; and among the Greeks, too, you would find that in many states the performance of the greatest public sacrifices is a duty imposed upon the highest officials. Yes, among you Athenians this is very plain, for they say the holiest and most national of the ancient sacrifices are performed by the man whom the lot has chosen to be the King. [*](The second in order of the nine annual archons.)

Y. Soc. Yes, certainly.

Str. We must, then, examine these elected kings and priests and their assistants, and also another very large crowd of people which has just come in sight now that the others are out of the way.

Y. Soc. Who are these people?

Str. A very queer lot.

Y. Soc. How so?

Str. They are of very mixed race at least they seem so now, when I can just see them. For many of them are like lions and centaurs and other fierce creatures, and very many are like satyrs and the weak and cunning beasts; and they make quick exchanges of forms and qualities with one another. Ah, but now, Socrates, I think I have just made out who they are.

Y. Soc. Tell me; for you seem to have caught sight of something strange.

Str. Yes, for ignorance makes things seem strange to everybody. That was what happened to me just now; when I suddenly caught sight of them I did not recognize the troop of those who busy themselves with the affairs of the state.

Y. Soc. What troop?

Str. That which of all the sophists is the greatest charlatan and most practised in charlatanry. This, although it is a hard thing to do, must be separated from the band of really statesmanlike and kingly men, if we are to get a clear view of the object of our search.

Y. Soc. But we certainly cannot give that up.

Str. No, of course not. I agree to that. And now please answer a question.

Y. Soc. What is it?

Str. We agree that monarchy is one of the forms of government, do we not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And after monarchy one might, I should say, mention the rule of the few.

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. And a third form of government is the rule of the multitude, called democracy, is it not?

Y. Soc. Yes, certainly.

Str. Do not these three become after a fashion five, producing out of themselves two additional names?

Y. Soc. What names?

Str. People nowadays are likely to take into consideration enforced subjection and voluntary obedience, poverty and wealth, law and lawlessness as they occur in governments, and so they divide two of the forms we mentioned, giving to the two aspects of monarchy the two names tyranny and royalty.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And the state that is ruled by the few is called, as the case may be, aristocracy or oligarchy.

Y. Soc. To be sure.

Str. In the case of democracy, however, whether the multitude rule those who have property by violence or with their willing consent, and whether the laws are carefully observed or not, no one ever habitually changes the name.

Y. Soc. True.

Str. Now then, do we believe that any of these forms of government which are defined by the distinctions between the one, the few, and the many, or wealth and poverty, or violence and willingness, or written constitution and absence of laws, is a right one?

Y. Soc. I don’t see why not.

Str. Look a bit more closely along the line I am going to point out.

Y. Soc. What is it?

Str. Shall we abide by what we said in the beginning, or dissent from it?

Y. Soc. To what do you refer?

Str. We said, I believe, that royal power was one of the sciences.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And not only a science, but we selected it from the rest as a science of judgement and command.

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. And from the science of command we distinguished one part which rules inanimate works, and one which rules living beings; and so we have gone on dividing in this manner to the present moment, never forgetting that it is a science, but as yet unable to state with sufficient accuracy what science it is.

Y. Soc. You are right.

Str. Then is this our understanding, that the distinction between forms of government ought not to be found in the words few or many, or voluntary or unwilling, or wealth or poverty, but some science must be the distinguishing feature, if we are to be consistent with our previous statement?

Y. Soc. Yes, indeed; it cannot be otherwise.

Str. Necessarily, then, our present duty is to inquire in which, if any, of these forms of government is engendered the science of ruling men, which is about the greatest of sciences and the most difficult to acquire. We must discover that in order to see what men are to be distinguished from the wise king—men, I mean, who pretend to be, and make many believe that they are, statesmen, but are really not such at all.

Y. Soc. Yes, we must do this; that is implied in what was said before.

Str. Does it seem at all possible that a multitude in a state could acquire this science?

Y. Soc. By no means.

Str. But in a state of one thousand men could perhaps a hundred or as many as fifty acquire it adequately?

Y. Soc. No, in that case this would be the easiest of all the arts; for we know that a city of a thousand men could never produce that number of finished draught-players in comparison with those in other Greek cities, still less so many kings. For the man who possesses the kingly science, whether he rule or not, must be called kingly, as our previous argument showed.

Str. You did well to remind me. And in agreement with this, we must, I suppose, look for the right kind of rule in one or two or very few men, whenever such right rule occurs.

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. And these men, whether they rule over willing or unwilling subjects, with or without written laws, and whether they are rich or poor, must, according to our present opinion, be supposed to exercise their rule in accordance with some art or science. And physicians offer a particularly good example of this point of view. Whether they cure us against our will or with our will, by cutting us or burning us or causing us pain in any other way, and whether they do it by written rules or without them, and whether they are rich or poor, we call them physicians just the same, so long as they exercise authority by art or science, purging us or reducing us in some other way, or even adding to our weight, provided only that they who treat their patients treat them for the benefit of their health and preserve them by making them better than they were. In this way and no other, in my opinion, shall we determine this to be the only right definition of the rule of the physician or of any other rule whatsoever.

Y. Soc. Very true.

Str. It is, then, a necessary consequence that among forms of government that one is preeminently right and is the only real government, in which the rulers are found to be truly possessed of science, not merely to seem to possess it, whether they rule by law or without law, whether their subjects are willing or unwilling, and whether they themselves are rich or poor—none of these things can be at all taken into account on any right method.

Y. Soc. Excellent.

Str. And whether they purge the state for its good by killing or banishing some of the citizens, or make it smaller by sending out colonies somewhere, as bees swarm from the hive, or bring in citizens from elsewhere to make it larger, so long as they act in accordance with science and justice and preserve and benefit it by making it better than it was, so far as is possible, that must at that time and by such characteristics be declared to be the only right form of government. All other forms must be considered not as legitimate or really existent, but as imitating this; those states which are said to be well governed imitate it better, and the others worse.

Y. Soc. Everything else that you have said seems reasonable; but that government should be carried on without laws is a hard saying.

Str. You got ahead of me a little with your question, Socrates; for I was just going to ask whether you accepted all I have said, or were displeased with anything. But now it is clear that we shall have to discuss the question of the propriety of government without laws.

Y. Soc. Of course we shall.

Str. In a sense, however, it is clear that law-making belongs to the science of kingship; but the best thing is not that the laws be in power, but that the man who is wise and of kingly nature be ruler. Do you see why?

Y. Soc. Why is it?

Str. Because law could never, by determining exactly what is noblest and must just for one and all, enjoin upon them that which is best; for the differences of men and of actions and the fact that nothing, I may say, in human life is ever at rest, forbid any science whatsoever to promulgate any simple rule for everything and for all time. We agree to that, I suppose?

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. But we see that law aims at pretty nearly this very thing, like a stubborn and ignorant man who allows no one to do anything contrary to his command, or even to ask a question, not even if something new occurs to some one, which is better than the rule he has himself ordained.

Y. Soc. True; the law treats each and all of us exactly as you describe.

Str. So that which is persistently simple is inapplicable to things which are never simple?

Y. Soc. I suppose so.

Str. Why in the world, then, is it necessary to make laws, since law is not the most perfect right? We must ask the reason for this.

Y. Soc. Yes, of course.

Str. Well, there are here at Athens, as in other cities, classes for practice in athletics to prepare for contests in running or the like, are there not?

Y. Soc. Yes, a great many of them.

Str. Now let us recall to mind the orders given by the professional trainers when they are in charge of such classes.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. They think they cannot go into details in individual cases and order what is best for each person’s physique; they think they must employ a rougher method and give a general rule which will be good for the physique of the majority.

Y. Soc. Good.

Str. And therefore they nowadays assign equal exercise to whole classes; they make them begin at the same time and stop at the same time, whether they run or wrestle or practise any other kind of bodily exercise.

Y. Soc. That is true.

Str. And so we must believe that the law-maker who is to watch over the herds and maintain justice and the obligation of contracts, will never be able by making laws for all collectively, to provide exactly that which is proper for each individual.

Y. Soc. Probably not, at any rate.

Str. But he will, I fancy, legislate for the majority and in a general way only roughly for individuals, whether he issues written laws or his enactments follow the unwritten traditional customs.

Y. Soc. Quite right.

Str. Yes, quite right. For how could anyone, Socrates, sit beside each person all his life and tell him exactly what is proper for him to do? Certainly anyone who really possessed the kingly science, if he were able to do this, would hardly, I imagine, ever put obstacles in his own way by writing what we call laws.

Y. Soc. No, at least not according to what has just been said.

Str. Or rather, my friend, not according to what is going to be said.

Y. Soc. What is that?

Str. Something of this sort: Let us suppose that a physician or a gymnastic trainer is going away and expects to be a long time absent from his patients or pupils; if he thinks they will not remember his instructions, he would want to write them down, would he not?

Y. Soc. Yes.

Str. What if he should come back again after a briefer absence than he expected? Would he not venture to substitute other rules for those written instructions if others happened to be better for his patients, because the winds or something else had, by act of God, changed unexpectedly from their usual course? Would he persist in the opinion that no one must transgress the old laws, neither he himself by enacting new ones nor his patient by venturing to do anything contrary to the written rules, under the conviction that these laws were medicinal and healthful and anything else was unhealthful and unscientific? If anything of that sort occurred in the realm of science and true art, would not any such regulations on any subject assuredly arouse the greatest ridicule?

Y. Soc. Most assuredly.

Str. But he who has made written or unwritten laws about the just and unjust, the honorable and disgraceful, the good and the bad for the herds of men that are tended in their several cities in accordance with the laws of the law-makers, is not to be permitted to give other laws contrary to those, if the scientific law-maker, or another like him, should come! Would not such a prohibition appear in truth as ridiculous as the other?

Y. Soc. It certainly would.

Str. Do you know what people in general say about such a case?

Y. Soc. I don’t recall it just now off-hand.

Str. Yes, it is very plausible; for they say that if anyone has anything better than the old laws to offer, he must first persuade the state, and then he may make his laws, but not otherwise.

Y. Soc. And is that not right?

Str. Perhaps. But suppose a man does not use persuasion, but makes an improvement by force. What is this force to be called? Answer me—or, no, not yet; first answer in reference to what we were talking of before.

Y. Soc. What do you mean?

Str. Suppose a physician who has right knowledge of his profession does not persuade, but forces, his patient, whether man, woman, or child, to do the better thing, though it be contrary to the written precepts, what will such violence be called? The last name in the world to call it would be unscientific and baneful error, as the phrase is, would it not? And the patient so forced might rightly say anything else rather than that he had been treated in a baneful or unscientific way by the physicians who used force upon him.

Y. Soc. Very true.

Str. But what can we call the unscientific error in the field of statesmanship? Is it not baseness and evil and injustice?

Y. Soc. Certainly.

Str. Now if people are forced, contrary to the written laws and inherited traditions, to do what is juster and nobler and better than what they did before, tell me, will not anyone who blames such use of force, unless he is to be most utterly ridiculous, always say anything or everything rather than that those who have been so forced have suffered base and unjust and evil treatment at the hands of those who forced them?

Y. Soc. Very true.

Str. But would the violence be just if he who uses it is rich, and unjust if he is poor? Or if a man, whether rich or poor, by persuasion or by other means, in accordance with written laws or contrary to them, does what is for the good of the people, must not this be the truest criterion of right government, in accordance with which the wise and good man will govern the affairs of his subjects?