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This reading list is a simple introduction to various epic, tragic, and philosophic works in ancient Greek culture that not only help build an understanding, but also construct the thoughts behind the basis for human values and cultural ideals in Greek antiquity.
In reading these selections below, it is therefore encouraged to help initiate a discussion as to what are the basis for the ideas behind Greek culture, and how these ideals affected the political and social structures of the time, as well as our current humanistic ideals of today.
Homer, The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart., (London: Bohn, 1839-45). 11 vols. Vol. 10. Chapter: LIB. XVIII.
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The grief of Achilles, and new armour made for him by Vulcan.
Aeschylus’ The Persians is the only one of Aeschylus’ dramatic works where we can view tragedy on a small scale as Aeschylus often produced tragedies in trilogies.
The Persians explores the concept of “destiny upon the soul,” through an historic event.
Aeschylus, The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus, translated into English Verse by John Stuart Blackie (London: J.M. Dent, 1906). Chapter: THE PERSIANS A HISTORICAL CANTATA
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Chorus of Persian Elders.
Atossa, Mother of Xerxes.
Shade of Darius, Father of Xerxes.
Xerxes, King of Persia.
Scene—Before the Palace at Susa. Tomb of Darius in the background.
Of the battle of Salamis and the expedition of Xerxes, as an historical event, it must be unnecessary for me to say a single word here, entitled, as I am, to presume that no reader of the plays of Æschylus can be ignorant of the main facts, and the tremendous moral significance of that event. I shall only mention, for the sake of those whose memory is not well exercised in chronology, that it took place in the autumn of the year 480 before Christ, ten years after the battle of Marathon, thirty years after the expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome, and eighty years after the foundation of the great Persian empire by Cyrus the great. Those who wish to read the descriptions of the poet with complete interest and satisfaction should peruse the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st chapters (Vol. V.), of Mr. Grote’s great work, and, if possible, also, the 7th and 8th books of Herodotus.†
On the poetical merit of the Persians, as a work of art, a great authority, Schlegel, has pronounced that it is “undoubtedly the most imperfect of all the extant tragedies of this poet;” but, unless the historical theme be the stumbling-block, I really cannot see on what ground this judgment proceeds. As for the descriptive parts, the battle of Salamis, and the retreat of the routed monarch, are pictured with a vividness and a power to which nothing in this massive and manly author is superior; the interest to the reader being increased tenfold by the fact, that he is here dealing with a real event of the most important character, and recited by one of the best qualified of eye-witnesses. The moral of the piece, as already stated, is, in every respect, what in a great drama or epos could be desired; and, with respect to the lyrics, the Anapæstic march, and the choral chaunt in Ionic measure, with which it opens, has about it a breadth, a magnificence, and a solemnity surpassed only in the choral hymns of the Agamemnon. Not less effective, to an ancient audience, I am sure, must have been the grand antiphonal chaunt with which (as in The Seven against Thebes) the variously repeated wail of this tragedy is brought to a climax; and if the Bishop of London, and some other scholars, have thought this sad exhibition of national lamentation ridiculous, we ought to believe that these critics have forgot the difference between a modern reader and an ancient spectator, rather than that so great a master as Æschylus did not know how to distinguish between a tragedy and a farce
In common with other historical poems, the Persians of Æschylus is not altogether free from the fault of bringing our imaginative faculty into collision with our understanding, by a partial suppression or exaggeration of historical truth. In the way of suppression, the most noticable thing is, that the slave of Themistocles, who is described as having, by a false report to Xerxes, brought on the battle of Salamis, appears, according to the poet, to have cheated the Persians only; whereas, according to the real story, he cheated his countrymen also, and forced them to fight in that place against the will of the non-Athenian members of the confederation. In the way of exaggeration, again, Grote, in an able note,* has shown what appear to me valid reasons for disbelieving the fact of the freezing of the Strymon, and its sudden thaw, described so piteously by our poet; while the very nature of the case plainly shows that the whole circumstances of the retreat, coming to us through Greek reporters, were very liable to exaggeration. This, however, in a poetical description, is a small matter What appears to me much worse, and, indeed, the weakest point in the structure of the whole drama, is that the contrast between the character and conduct of Darius and that of his son is drawn in colours much too strong; the fact being that the son, in following the advice of Mardonius to attack Athens, was only carrying into execution the design of the father, and making use of his preparations.† All that I have to say in defence of this misrepresentation is, that the poet wrote with a glowing patriotic heat what we now contemplate with a cold historical criticism. The greatest works of the greatest masters can, as human nature is constituted, seldom be altogether free from inconsistencies of this kind
I have only further to add, that I have carefully read what Welcker and Gruppe* have written on the supposed ideal connection between the four pieces of the tetralogy, among which the Persians stands second, in the extant Greek argument;† but that, while I admire exceedingly the learning and ingenuity of these writers, I doubt much the utility of attempting to restore the palaces of ancient art out of those few loose bricks which Time has spared us from the once compact mass Poetry may be benefited by such speculations; Philology, I rather fear, has been injured.
Chorus,entering the Orchestra in procession. March time.
EnterAtossa,drawn with royal pomp in a chariot.
Far in the west: beside the setting of the lord of light the sun.
This same Athens, my son Xerxes longed with much desire to take.
Wisely: for all Greece submissive, when this city falls, will fall.
Are they many? do they number men enough to meet my son?
What they number was sufficient once to work the Medes much harm.
Other strength than numbers have they? wealth enough within themselves?
They can boast a fount of silver, native treasure to the land.†
Are they bowmen good? sure-feathered do their pointed arrows fly?
Not so. Stable spears they carry, massy armature of shields.
Who is shepherd of this people? lord of the Athenian host?
Slaves are they to no man living, subject to no earthly name.11
How can such repel the onset of a strong united host?
How Darius knew in Hellas, when he lost vast armies there.
Things of deep concern thou speakest to all mothers in this land.
Xerxes yet lives, and looks on the light.
The city? is it safe? does Athens stand?
It stands without the fence of walls. Men wall it
The Shade ofDariusrises from the Tomb.
How? Did pestilence smite the city, or did foul sedition rise?
Neither. Near far Athens routed was the Persian host.
But so vast an army how?
With rare bonds of wood and iron, Helle’s streaming frith they crossed.
Wood and iron! Could these fetter billowy Bosphorus in his flow?
So it was. Some god had lent him wit to plan his own perdition.
Alas! a mighty god full surely robbed him of his sober mind.
And the fruit of his great folly we behold in matchless woes
I have heard your wailings: tell me more exact the dismal chance
First the whole sea host being ruined brought like ruin on the foot
By the hostile spear of Hellas they have perished one and all?
Ay. The citadel of Susa, emptied of her children, moans.
Alas! the faithful army!
All the flower of Bactria’s youth are slain.
Woe, my hapless son! What myriads of our faithful friends he ruined!
Xerxes, stripped of all his glory, with a straggling few they say—
What of him? Speak! Speak! I pray thee; is there safety, is there hope?
Fainly comes, with life scarce rescued, to the bridge that links the lands.
And has crossed to Asia?
Even so, most surely, ran the news.
How mean’st thou this? how fights the land for them?
But with a moderate host?
[The Shade ofDariusdescends.
[Exit into the palace.
Here commences, with mournful Oriental music, and with violent gesticulations, a great National Wail over the misfortunes of the Persian people.
They are gone, the generals, gone for ever!
Lost, and to be heard of never!
Woe worth the day!
We are stricken, beyond redemption stricken!
Stricken of Heaven! with vengeance stricken!
And sore dismay!
With such an army, struck so dire a blow!
So great a power, the Persian power, laid low!
These rags, the rest of all my state, behold!
Ay! we behold.
This arrow-case thou see’st, this quiver alone—
What say’st thou? this alone?
This arrow-case my all.
From store how great, remnant how small!
With no friends near, abandoned sheer.
The Ionian people shrinks not from the spear.
They face it well. I saw the deadly fight.
The sea-encounter saw’st thou, and the flight?
Ay! and beholding it I tore my stole.
O dole! O dole!
More dolorous than dole! and worse than worst!
O doubly, trebly curst!
To us annoy, to Athens joy!
Our sinews lamed, our vigour maimed!
Unministered and unattended!
Alas! thy friends on Salamis were stranded!
Ring the peal both loud and shrill!
An ill addition is ill to ill.
Heavy came the blow, and stunning.
From my eyes the tears are running.
Ring the peal both loud and shrill!
Grief to grief, and ill to ill.
Mingle, mingle sigh with sigh!
Wail for wail, and cry for cry.
Even as a dirge; a Mysian dirge.
We tear, we tear, the snowy hair.
Lift again the thrilling strain!
Again, again, ascends the strain.
The purfled linen, lo! I tear.
I pluck my locks, and weep the dead
Weep, weep! till thine eyes be dim!
With streaming woe, they swim, they swim.
Ring the peal both loud and shrill!
Grief to grief, and ill to ill!
Go to the palace: go in sadness!
I tread the ground sure not with gladness
Let sorrow echo through the city!
From street to street the wailing ditty.
Gently we tread the grief-sown soil.
Go. Thy convoy be a tear.
[† ]By the praiseworthy exertions of Mr. Bohn, the English reader is now supplied with translations of this, and other Classical writers, at a very cheap rate.
[* ]Vol V p 191. Thirlwall had defended the statement of Æschylus.
[† ]Herodotus VII. 1-4.
[* ]Trilogie, p 470, Ariadne, p. 81
[† ]These plays were Phineus, the Persians, Glaucus, and Prometheus The last was a satiric piece, having no connection with the Prometheus Bound, or the trilogy to which it belonged.
[* ]See Linwood—voce βαυζω.
[† ]“The people of Susa are also called Cissians”—Strabo, p. 728.
[* ]See p 172, Note
[† ]“They who dwell in the marshes are the most warlike of the Egyptians.”—Thucyd. I. 110 Abresch
[‡ ]“Tmolus, a hill overhanging Sardes, from which the famous golden flooded Pactolus flows”—Strabo, p 625. “Called sacred from Bacchus worshipped there.”—Eurip. Bacch. 65 Pal
[* ]The Hellespont; so called from Helle, the daughter of Athamas, a character famous in the Argonautic legend
[‡ ]“They who are called by the Greeks Syrians, are called Assyrians by the Bar barians”—Herodot. VII. 63.
[* ]The bridge of boats built by Xerxes. The original ἀμϕίζευκτον αλιον πρωˆνα ἀμϕοτέρας κοινὸν ἄιας seems intelligible no other way So Blom, Pal., and Buck., and Linw.—Compare Note 34 to the Eumenides.
[* ]See Note 63 to the Choephoræ.
[* ]θυμόμαντις.—See Note 67 to Agamemnon.
[† ]The mines of Laurium, near the Sunian promontory. On their importance to the Athenians during this great struggle with Persia, see Grote, V. p 71.
[* ]ὲπι σκηπτουχίᾳ ταχθεὶς. So the σκηπτουχοι βασιλεɩ̂ς of Homer.
[* ]Part of the shore of Salamis, called τροπάια ἄκρα.—Schol.
[† ]σκληρα̂ς μέτοικος γη̂ς: inest amara ironia.—Blom.
[† ]The captain of this ship was Ameinias, brother of Æschylus.—See Grote, V. 178.
[‡ ]A bold expression, but used also by Euripides.—νυκτὸς ὄμμα λυγάιας—(Iphig. Taur., 110) To Polytheists such terms were the most natural things in language.
[* ]“As soon as the Persian fleet was put to flight, Aristides arrived with some Grecian hoplites at the island of Psyttaleia, overpowered the enemy, and put them to death to a man”—Grote
[† ]“Having caused the land force to be drawn up along the shore opposite to Salamis, Xerxes had erected for himself a lofty seat or throne upon one of the projecting declivities of Mount Aegaleos, near the Heracleion, immediately overhanging the sea.”—Grote
[* ]θεὸς indefinitely; a common way of talking in Homer.
[* ]Facilis descensus Averni, etc.—Virgil, Æneid VI.
[* ][Editor: illegible character]βρις—See Note 61 to Agamemnon, and Note 41 Eumenides.
[* ]Salamis in Cyprus, from which the Grecian Salamis was a colony.
[* ]See p 172, and compare p 271
[† ]See Note 63 to the Choephoræ.
[* ]See Ezra ix. 3.
The bow was as characteristic of Persian as the spear of Hellenic warfare; and, accordingly, they are contrasted below, p. 305 The Persian Darics bore the figure of an archer. Dict. AntiqvociDaric. “The army of Xerxes, generally,” says Grote, “was armed with missile weapons, and light shields, or no shield at all; not properly equipped either for fighting in regular order, or for resisting the line of spears and shields which the Grecian heavy-armed infantry brought to bear upon them.”—Vol V. p. 43. This was seen with striking evidence when an engagement took place on confined ground as at Thermopylæ, Do. p. 117.
So Creon, in the Antigone of Sophocles, in wrathful suspicion that Tiresias is in conspiracy to prophesy against him for filthy lucre, is made to exclaim (v. 1037)—
So also, “golden Babylon,” below; which will recall to the Christian reader the famous words, “Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and sav How hath the oppressor ceased, the golden city ceased!”—Isaiah xiv. 4. In the same way Xerxes is called “the god-like son of a golden race,” in the choral hymn which immediately follows the present introductory chaunt. Southey, the most learned of our poets, has not forgotten this orientalism when he says—
where see the note.
The Mysians had on their heads a peculiar sort of helmet belonging to the country, small shields, and javelins burnt at the point.—Herodot. VII. 74.—Stan.
The μάχαιρα here is the acinaces, or short scimitar, of which the fashion may be seen in the Dict. Antiq. under that word.
A phraseology inherited from the times when “Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel 100,000 lambs, and 100,000 rams, with the wool.”—2 Kings iii. 4. So Agamemnon, in Homer (Od. III. 156), is called ποιμήν λάων—the shepherd of the people. See above, p. 413, Note 48.
The sudden change of tone here from unlimited confidence in the strength of their own armament, to a pious doubt arising from the consideration that the gods often disappoint “the best laid schemes of men and mice,” and that “the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”; this is at once extremely characteristic of ancient Hellenic piety (see the Note on ὕβρις, p. 348), and serves here the dramatic purpose of making the over-weening pride of Xerxes, by contrast, appear more sinful With regard to the style of religious conception here, and the general doctrine that the gods deceive mortal men, especially at moments of extraordinary prosperity and on the point of some sudden reversal, the student will read Grote’s Greece, Vol. V. p. 13.
This very humble way of expressing respect was quite oriental, and altogether abhorrent to the feelings of the erect Greek, boasting of his liberty. The reader of history may call to mind how this was one of the points of oriental court state, the mooting of which in his later years caused a breach between Alexander the Great and his captains. For references, see Stan.
This purification, as Stan. has noted, was customary among the ancients, after an ill-omened dream. He quotes Aristophanes, Ran. 1338.
and other passages.
The sight in reality, or in vision, of one bird plucking another under various modifications, was familiar to the ancient divination, as the natural expression of conquest and subjugation. So in the Odyssey shortly before the opening of the catastrophe—
In such matters, the ancients did not strain after originality, as a modern would do, but held closely by the most natural, obvious, and most significant types.
Here commences a series of questions with regard to Attic geography, topography, and statistics, which to the most inexperienced reader will appear to come in here not in the most natural way. That the mother of Xerxes should have actually been so ignorant of the state of Athens, as she is here dramatically represented, seems scarcely supposable. But that she and the mighty persons of the East generally were grossly ignorant of, and greatly underrated the resources of the small state that was rising in the West, is plain, both from the general habit of the oriental mind, and from what Herodotus (V. 105, quoted by Pal) narrates of Darius, that, when he heard of the burning of Sardes by the Athenians and the Ionians, he asked “who the Athenians were.” On this foundation, a dramatic poet, willing “to pay a pleasant compliment to Athenian vanity” (Buck.), might well erect such a series of interrogatories as we have in the text, though it may be doubted whether he has done it with that tact which a more perfect master of the dramatic art—Shakespere, for instance—would have displayed. There are not a few other passages in the Greek drama where this formal style of questioning ab ovo assumes somewhat of a ludicrous aspect.
As in the quickness of their spirits, the sharpness of their wits, and their love of glory, so particularly in the forward boast of freedom, the ancient Hellenes were very like the modern French. ’Twere a curious parallel to carry out; and that other one also, which would prove even more fertile in curious results, between the ancient Romans and the modern English.
I do not think there can be any doubt as to the meaning of the original here, πλαγκτοɩ̂ς ε̂ν διπλάκεσσιν—among the wandering planks—δίπλαξ can mean nothing but a double or very strong plank, plate, or (if applied to a dress, as in Homer) fold. There is no need of supposing any “clinging to the planks,” as Lin., following Butler, does. Nevertheless, I have given, likewise, in my translation, the full force of Blom.’s idea that δίπλαξ means the ebb and flow of the sea. This, indeed, lies already in ϕέρεσθαι. Conz. agrees with my version. “Wie treiben sturmend umher sie die Planken!”
Pal. asserts confidently that the three following verses are corrupt. One of them sins against Porson’s canon of the Cretic ending, and (what is of much more consequence) connects the name of Ariomardus with Sardes, which we found above (p. 302), connected with Thebes. For the sake of consistency, I have taken Porson’s hint, and introduced Metragathus here, from v. 43.
The apportionment of the last clause of this, and the whole of the following lines, I give according to Well. and Pal., which Buck. also approves in his note. The translation, in such a case, is its own best vindication.
The sending of this person was a device of Themistocles, to hasten on a battle, and keep the Greeks from quarrelling amongst themselves. The person sent was Sicinnus his slave, “seemingly an Asiatic Greek, who understood Persian, and had perhaps been sold during the late Ionic revolt, but whose superior qualities are marked by the fact, that he had the care and teaching of the children of his master.”—Grote.
The word τέμενος, says Passow, in the post-Homeric writers of the classical age was used almost exclusively in reference to sacred, or, as we should say, consecrated property. I do not think, therefore, that Lin. does full justice to this word when he translates it merely “the region of the air”, as little can I be content with Conz.’s “Hallen.” Droysen preserves the religious association to well-instructed readers, by using the word Hain, but surely tempte is better in the present connection and to a modern ear. Lucretius (Lib. I. near the end) has “Coeli tonitralia templa.”
Pan, “the simple shepherd’s awe-inspiring god” (Wordsworth, Exc IV.), was in the mind of the Athenians intimately associated with the glory of the Persian wars, and regarded as one of their chief patrons at Marathon (Herod. VI. 105). This god was the natural patron of all wild and solitary places, such as are seldom disturbed by any human foot save that of the Arcadian shepherds, whose imagination first produced this half-solemn half-freakish creation; and in this view no place could be more appropriate to him than “the barren and rocky Psyttaleia” (Strabo, 395). That he was actually worshipped there, we have, besides the present passage of our poet, the express testimony of Pausanias (I. 36)—“What are called Panic terrors were ascribed to Pan; for loud noises whose cause could not be easily traced were not unfrequently heard in mountainous regions; and the gloom and loneliness of forests and mountains fill the mind with a secret horror, and dispose it to superstitious apprehensions.”—Keightlev.
The verse in the original—
—is remarkable for being divided into two equal halves, in violation of the common cæsuras, the laws of which Porson has pointed out so curiously. Whether there was a special cause for this in the present case—the wish, namely, on the part of the poet to make a harsh line suit a harsh subject, I shall not assert, as the line does not fall particularly harsh on my ear; I have at least done something, by the help of rough consonants and monosyllables, to make my English line come up to the great metrician’s idea of the Greek.
It needs hardly be mentioned here that the restless state of the dead body in death by drowning, implied, according to the sensuous metaphysics of the vulgar Greeks, an equally restless condition of the soul in Hades. Hence the point of Achilles’ wrath against Lycaon, in Iliad XXI. 122—
And, in the same book, of another victim of the same inexorable wrath it is said—
I think it right so to translate, because such is actually the colour of the olive, but I must state, at the same time, that the word in the original is ξανθη̂ς, which has been imitated by Virgil, Æn. V. 309. How the same word should mean both yellow and green, I cannot understand. No doubt the light green of many trees, when the leafage first comes out in spring, has a yellowish appearance; but the ever-green olive is always γλαυκός, as Sophocles has it (O. C. 701). What we call olive-coloured is a mixture of green and yellow; does this come from the colour of the fruit or the oil?
The word δαίμονα here used is that by which both Homer and Æschylus designate the highest celestial beings, from which practice we see what an easy transition there was in the minds of the early Christians to the deification of the martyrs, and the canonization of the saints. Compare Æn. V. v. 47. There is nothing in Popery which is not seated in the deepest roots of human nature.
i.e. Pluto. The reader must not be surprised to see Æschylus putting the names of Greek gods and Greek feelings and ideas generally into the mouths of Persian characters. His excuse lies partly in the fact, that these divine powers and human feelings, though in a Greek form, belonged to the universal heart of man, and partly in the extreme nationality of the old Hellenic culture, which was not apt to go abroad with curiously inquiring eyes into the regions of the barbarian. A national poet, moreover, addressing the masses, must beware of being too learned. Shakespere, in his foreign dramas, though less erudite, is much more effective than Southey in his Epics.
The word in the original here is βαλὴν, a Phœnician word, the same as Baal and Belus, meaning lord—See Gesenius, voce Baal. This root appears significantly in some Carthaginian names, as Hannibal, Hasdrubal, etc.
This word belongs as characteristically to the ancient kings of the East, in respect of their head-gear, as the triregno or triple crown, in modern language, belongs to the Pope, and the iron crown to the sovereigns of Lombardy. Accordingly we find Virgil giving it to Priam—
See further, Dr. Smith’s Dict. Antiq. in voce tiara, and also ϕάλαρον, which I translate disc. As for the sandals, the reader will observe that saffron is a colour, like purple, peculiarly regal and luxurious—στολίδα κροκόεσσαν ἀνεɩ̂σα τρυϕα̂ς.—Eurip. Phæniss. 1491.—Matth.
Here I may say with Buck., “I have given the best sense I can to the text, but nothing is here certain but the uncertainty of the reading” For a translator, δι ἄνοιαν, proposed by Blom., is convenient enough.
ναες ἄναες [Editor: illegible character]ναες—A phraseology of which we have found many instances, and of which the Greeks are very fond. So in Homer, before the fight between Ulysses and Irus, one of the spectators foreseeing the discomfiture of the latter, says—
This is sound morality and orthodox theology, even at the present hour. Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat. Observe here how high Æschylus rises in moral tone above Herodotus, who, in the style that offends us so much in Homer, represents Xerxes, after yielding to the sensible advice of his father’s counsellor Artabanus, as urged on to his ruin by a god-sent vision thrice repeated (VII. 12-18). The whole expedition, according to the historian, is as much a matter of divine planning as the death of Hector by Athena’s cruel deceit in Iliad XXII. 299. Even Artabanus is carried along by the stream of evil counsel, confessing that δαιμονίη τις γίνεται ὁρμὴ, there is an impulse from the gods in the matter which a man may not resist.—See Grote.
The original word for eager here is the same as that translated above impetuous—θούριος, and had a peculiar significancy to a Greek ear, as being that epithet by which Mars is constantly designated in the Iliad; and this god, as the readers of that poem well know, signifies only the wild, unreasoning hurricane power of battle, as distinguished from the calmly-calculated, surely-guided hostility of the wise Athena. With regard to the matter of fact asserted in this line, it is literally true that the son of Darius was not of himself originally much inclined to the Greek expedition (ὲπὶ μεν τὴν Ἑλλάδα ὀυο̂αμωˆς πρόθυμος [Editor: illegible character]ν κατ ἀρχὰς στρατέυεσθαι.—Herod. VII. 5), but, like all weaklings in high places, was wrought upon by others; in this case, specially, by his cousin Mardonius, according to the account of Herodotus.—See Grote, Vol. V. p. 4.
Two peculiarities in this enumeration of the early Persian kings will strike the reader. First, Two of the Median kings—Astyages and Cyaxares, according to the common account, are named before Cyrus the Great, who, as being the first native Persian sovereign, is commonly regarded as the founder of the later Persian empire. Second, Between Mardus (commonly called Smerdis), and Darius, the father of Xerxes, two intermediate names—contrary to common account—are introduced. I do not believe our historical materials are such as entitle us curiously to scrutinize these matters.
The Maryandini were a Bithynian people, near the Greek city of Heraclea, Xenoph. Anab. vi. 2; Strabo xii. p. 542. The peasants in that quarter were famous for singing a rustic wail, which is alluded to in the text. See Pollux, Lib. iv. περὶ [Editor: illegible character]σμάτων ἐθνικωˆν. The Mysians mentioned, p. 331, below, were their next door neighbours; and the Phrygians generally, who in a large sense include the Mysians and Bithynians, were famous for their violent and passionate music, displayed principally in the worship of Cybele. So the Phrygian in Euripides (Orest. 1384) is introduced wailing ἁρμάτειον μέλος βαρβαρῳ βοᾳ. The critics who have considered this last scene of the cantata ridiculous, have not attended either to human nature or to the customs of the Persians, as Stan. quotes them from Herod. ix. 24, and Curtius iii. 12.
[Note 31 (p. 328)]
Leader of the Chorus. I have here adopted Lin.’s view, that the Leader of the Chorus here addresses the whole body; and, for the sake of symmetry, have repeated the couplet in the Antistrophe. No violence is thus done to the meaning of ἐκπεύθου. Another way is, with Pal., to put the line into the mouth of Xerxes—“Cry out and ask me!”
I have carefully retained the original phraseology here, as being characteristic of the Greek tragedians, perhaps of the maritime propensities of the Athenians. See in Seven against Thebes, p. 286 above, and Chœophoræ, p. 112, Strophe VII. Euripides, in Iphig. Aul. 131, applies the same verb to the lower extremities, making Agamemnon say to his old servant ερέσσον σὸν πόδα—as if one of our jolly tars should say in his pleasant slang, “Come along, my boy, put the oars to your old hull, and move off!”
I should be most happy for the sake of Æschylus, and my translation, to think there was nothing in the ἁβροβάται of this passage but the natural expression of grief so simply given in the scriptural narrative, 1 Kings xxi. 27; and in that stanza of one of Mr. Tennyson’s most beautiful poems—
But there is more in ἁβρός than mere gentleness, and to the Greek ear it would no doubt speak of the general luxuriance and effeminacy of the Persian manners. To put such an allusion into the mouth of Xerxes on the present occasion is no doubt in the worst possible taste; but the Greeks were too intensely national in their feelings to take a curious account of such matters.
Sophocles, The Tradegies of Sophocles, translated into English prose by Sir Richard C. Jebb (Cambridge University Press, 1904). Chapter: ANTIGONE.
Accessed from oll.libertyfund.org/title/1155/94542 on 2007-12-06
The text is in the public domain.
Antigone} daughters of Oedipus.
Creon,King of Thebes.
Teiresias,the blind prophet.
Guard,set to watch the corpse of Polyneices.
Second Messenger,from the house.
Chorus of Theban Elders.
Scene: Before the Royal Palace at Thebes.
Polyneices, supported by an Argive army, had marched against Thebes, in order to wrest the sovereignty from his brother Eteocles. The day before that on which the drama opens had been disastrous for the invaders. At six of the city’s seven gates, a Theban champion slew his Argive opponent: at the seventh, Eteocles met Polyneices, and each fell by the other’s hand. The Argive army fled in the night. Creon, now King of Thebes, has just issued an edict, proclaiming that Eteocles shall be interred with public honours, but that the corpse of Polyneices shall be left unburied.
Ismene, sister, mine own dear sister, knowest thou what ill there is, of all bequeathed by Oedipus, that Zeus fulfils not for us twain while we live? Nothing painful is there, nothing fraught with ruin, no shame, no dishonour, that I have not seen in thy woes and mine.
And now what new edict is this of which they tell, that our Captain hath just published to all Thebes? Knowest thou aught? Hast thou heard? Or is it hidden from thee that our friends are threatened with the doom of our foes?10
No word of friends, Antigone, gladsome or painful, hath come to me, since we two sisters were bereft of brothers twain, killed in one day by a twofold blow; and since in this last night the Argive host hath fled, I know no more, whether my fortune be brighter, or more grievous.
An. I knew it well, and therefore sought to bring thee beyond the gates of the court, that thou mightest hear alone.
Is. What is it? ’Tis plain that thou art brooding20 on some dark tidings.
An. What, hath not Creon destined our brothers, the one to honoured burial, the other to unburied shame? Eteocles, they say, with due observance of right and custom, he hath laid in the earth, for his honour among the dead below. But the hapless corpse of Polyneices—as rumour saith, it hath been published to the town that none shall entomb him or mourn, but leave unwept, unsepulchred,30 a welcome store for the birds, as they espy him, to feast on at will.
Such, ’tis said, is the edict that the good Creon hath set forth for thee and for me,—yes, for me,—and is coming hither to proclaim it clearly to those who know it not; nor counts the matter light, but, whoso disobeys in aught, his doom is death by stoning before all the folk. Thou knowest it now; and thou wilt soon show whether thou art nobly bred, or the base daughter of a noble line.
Is. Poor sister,—and if things stand thus, what40 could I help to do or undo?
An. Consider if thou wilt share the toil and the deed.
Is. In what venture? What can be thy meaning?
An. Wilt thou aid this hand to lift the dead?
Is. Thou wouldst bury him,—when ’tis forbidden to Thebes?
An. I will do my part,—and thine, if thou wilt not,—to a brother. False to him will I never be found.
Is. Ah, over-bold! when Creon hath forbidden?
An. Nay, he hath no right to keep me from mine own.
Is.50 Ah me! think, sister, how our father perished, amid hate and scorn, when sins bared by his own search had moved him to strike both eyes with self-blinding hand; then the mother wife, two names in one, with twisted noose did despite unto her life; and last, our two brothers in one day,—each shedding, hapless one, a kinsman’s blood,—wrought out with mutual hands their common doom. And now we in turn—we two left all alone—think how we shall perish, more miserably than all the rest, if, in defiance of the law, we brave60 a king’s decree or his powers. Nay, we must remember, first, that we were born women, as who should not strive with men; next, that we are ruled of the stronger, so that we must obey in these things, and in things yet sorer. I, therefore, asking the Spirits Infernal to pardon, seeing that force is put on me herein, will hearken to our rulers; for ’tis witless to be over busy.
An. I will not urge thee,—no, nor, if thou yet shouldst have the mind, wouldst thou be welcome as70 a worker with me. Nay, be what thou wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have stablished in honour.
Is. I do them no dishonour; but to defy the State,—I have no strength for that.
An. Such be thy plea:—I, then, will go to heap the80 earth above the brother whom I love.
Is. Alas, unhappy one! How I fear for thee!
An. Fear not for me: guide thine own fate aright.
Is. At least, then, disclose this plan to none, but hide it closely,—and so, too, will I.
An. Oh, denounce it! Thou wilt be far more hateful for thy silence, if thou proclaim not these things to all.
Is. Thou hast a hot heart for chilling deeds.
An. I know that I please where I am most bound to please.
Is.90 Aye, if thou canst; but thou wouldst what thou canst not.
An. Why, then, when my strength fails, I shall have done.
Is. A hopeless quest should not be made at all.
An. If thus thou speakest, thou wilt have hatred from me, and will justly be subject to the lasting hatred of the dead. But leave me, and the folly that is mine alone, to suffer this dread thing; for I shall not suffer aught so dreadful as an ignoble death.
Is. Go, then, if thou must; and of this be sure,—that, though thine errand is foolish, to thy dear ones thou art truly dear.
[ExitAntigoneon the spectators’ left.Ismeneretires into the palace by one of the two side-doors.
str. 1.Beam of the sun, fairest light that ever dawned on100 Thebè of the seven gates, thou hast shone forth at last, eye of golden day, arisen above Dircè’s streams! The warrior of the white shield, who came from Argos in his panoply, hath been stirred by thee to headlong flight, in swifter career;
syst. 1.who set forth against our land by reason of the vexed claims of Polyneices; and, like shrill-screaming110 eagle, he flew over into our land, in snow-white pinion sheathed, with an armèd throng, and with plumage of helms.
ant. 1.He paused above our dwellings; he ravened around our sevenfold portals with spears athirst for blood; but120 he went hence, or ever his jaws were glutted with our gore, or the Fire-god’s pine-fed flame had seized our crown of towers. So fierce was the noise of battle raised behind him, a thing too hard for him to conquer, as he wrestled with his dragon foe.
syst. 2.For Zeus utterly abhors the boasts of a proud tongue; and when he beheld them coming on in a great stream, in the haughty pride of clanging gold,130 he smote with brandished fire one who was now hasting to shout victory at his goal upon our ramparts.
str. 2.Swung down, he fell on the earth with a crash, torch in hand, he who so lately, in the frenzy of the mad onset, was raging against us with the blasts of his tempestuous hate. But those threats fared not as he hoped; and to other foes the mighty War-god dispensed their several dooms, dealing havoc around, a mighty helper at our need.140
syst. 3.For seven captains at seven gates, matched against seven, left the tribute of their panoplies to Zeus who turns the battle; save those two of cruel fate, who, born of one sire and one mother, set against each other their twain conquering spears, and are sharers in a common death.
ant. 2.But since Victory of glorious name hath come to us, with joy responsive to the joy of Thebè whose150 chariots are many, let us enjoy forgetfulness after the late wars, and visit all the temples of the gods with night-long dance and song; and may Bacchus be our leader, whose dancing shakes the land of Thebè.
syst. 4.But lo, the king of the land comes yonder, Creon, son of Menoeceus, our new ruler by the new fortunes that the gods have given; what counsel is he pondering,160 that he hath proposed this special conference of elders, summoned by his general mandate?
EnterCreon,from the central doors of the palace, in the garb of king; with two attendants.
Cr. Sirs, the vessel of our State, after being tossed on wild waves, hath once more been safely steadied by the gods: and ye, out of all the folk, have been called apart by my summons, because I knew, first of all, how true and constant was your reverence for the royal power of Laïus; how, again, when Oedipus was ruler of our land, and when he had perished, your steadfast170 loyalty still upheld their children. Since, then, his sons have fallen in one day by a twofold doom,—each smitten by the other, each stained with a brother’s blood,—I now possess the throne and all its powers, by nearness of kinship to the dead.
No man can be fully known, in soul and spirit and mind, until he hath been seen versed in rule and lawgiving. For if any, being supreme guide of the State, cleaves not to the best counsels, but, through some fear,180 keeps his lips locked, I hold, and have ever held, him most base; and if any makes a friend of more account than his fatherland, that man hath no place in my regard. For I—be Zeus my witness, who sees all things always—would not be silent if I saw ruin, instead of safety, coming to the citizens; nor would I ever deem the country’s foe a friend to myself; remembering this, that our country is the ship that bears us safe, and that only while she prospers in our voyage can we make true190 friends.
Such are the rules by which I guard this city’s greatness. And in accord with them is the edict which I have now published to the folk touching the sons of Oedipus;—that Eteocles, who hath fallen fighting for our city, in all renown of arms, shall be entombed, and crowned with every rite that follows the noblest dead to their rest. But for his brother, Polyneices,—who came back from exile, and sought to consume utterly200 with fire the city of his fathers and the shrines of his fathers’ gods,—sought to taste of kindred blood, and to lead the remnant into slavery;—touching this man, it hath been proclaimed to our people that none shall grace him with sepulture or lament, but leave him unburied, a corpse for birds and dogs to eat, a ghastly sight of shame.
Such the spirit of my dealing; and never, by deed of mine, shall the wicked stand in honour before the just; but whoso hath good will to Thebes, he shall be210 honoured of me, in his life and in his death.
Ch. Such is thy pleasure, Creon, son of Menoeceus, touching this city’s foe, and its friend; and thou hast power, I ween, to take what order thou wilt, both for the dead, and for all us who live.
Cr. See, then, that ye be guardians of the mandate.
Ch. Lay the burden of this task on some younger man.
Cr. Nay, watchers of the corpse have been found.
Ch. What, then, is this further charge that thou wouldst give?
Cr. That ye side not with the breakers of these commands.
Ch.220 No man is so foolish that he is enamoured of death.
Cr. In sooth, that is the meed; yet lucre hath oft ruined men through their hopes.
Gu. My liege, I will not say that I come breathless from speed, or that I have plied a nimble foot; for often did my thoughts make me pause, and wheel round in my path, to return. My mind was holding large discourse with me; ‘Fool, why goest thou to thy certain doom?’ ‘Wretch, tarrying again? And if Creon hears this from230 another, must not thou smart for it?’ So debating, I went on my way with lagging steps, and thus a short road was made long. At last, however, it carried the day that I should come hither—to thee; and, though my tale be nought, yet will I tell it; for I come with a good grip on one hope,—that I can suffer nothing but what is my fate.
Cr. And what is it that disquiets thee thus?
Gu. I wish to tell thee first about myself—I did not do the deed—I did not see the doer—it were not right that I should come to any harm.240
Cr. Thou hast a shrewd eye for thy mark; well dost thou fence thyself round against the blame:—clearly thou hast some strange thing to tell.
Gu. Aye, truly; dread news makes one pause long.
Cr. Then tell it, wilt thou, and so get thee gone?
Gu. Well, this is it.—The corpse—some one hath just given it burial, and gone away,—after sprinkling thirsty dust on the flesh, with such other rites as piety enjoins.
Cr. What sayest thou? What living man hath dared this deed?
Gu. I know not; no stroke of pickaxe was seen there, no earth thrown up by mattock; the ground was250 hard and dry, unbroken, without track of wheels; the doer was one who had left no trace. And when the first day-watchman showed it to us, sore wonder fell on all. The dead man was veiled from us; not shut within a tomb, but lightly strewn with dust, as by the hand of one who shunned a curse. And no sign met the eye as though any beast of prey or any dog had come nigh to him, or torn him.
Then evil words flew fast and loud among us, guard accusing guard; and it would e’en have come to blows260 at last, nor was there any to hinder. Every man was the culprit, and no one was convicted, but all disclaimed knowledge of the deed. And we were ready to take red-hot iron in our hands;—to walk through fire;—to make oath by the gods that we had not done the deed,—that we were not privy to the planning or the doing.
At last, when all our searching was fruitless, one spake, who made us all bend our faces on the earth in270 fear; for we saw not how we could gainsay him, or escape mischance if we obeyed. His counsel was that this deed must be reported to thee, and not hidden. And this seemed best; and the lot doomed my hapless self to win this prize. So here I stand,—as unwelcome as unwilling, well I wot; for no man delights in the bearer of bad news.
Ch. O king, my thoughts have long been whispering, can this deed, perchance, be e’en the work of gods?
Cr.280 Cease, ere thy words fill me utterly with wrath, lest thou be found at once an old man and foolish. For thou sayest what is not to be borne, in saying that the gods have care for this corpse. Was it for high reward of trusty service that they sought to hide his nakedness, who came to burn their pillared shrines and sacred treasures, to burn their land, and scatter its laws to the winds? Or dost thou behold the gods honouring the wicked? It cannot be. No! From the first there were290 certain in the town that muttered against me, chafing at this edict, wagging their heads in secret; and kept not their necks duly under the yoke, like men contented with my sway.
’Tis by them, well I know, that these have been beguiled and bribed to do this deed. Nothing so evil as money ever grew to be current among men. This lays cities low, this drives men from their homes, this trains and warps honest souls till they set themselves to works of shame; this still teaches folk to practise villanies,300 and to know every godless deed.
But all the men who wrought this thing for hire have made it sure that, soon or late, they shall pay the price. Now, as Zeus still hath my reverence, know this—I tell it thee on my oath:—If ye find not the very author of this burial, and produce him before mine eyes, death alone shall not be enough for you, till first, hung up alive, ye have revealed this outrage,—that henceforth ye may thieve with better knowledge whence lucre310 should be won, and learn that it is not well to love gain from every source. For thou wilt find that ill-gotten pelf brings more men to ruin than to weal.
Gu. May I speak? Or shall I just turn and go?
Cr. Knowest thou not that even now thy voice offends?
Gu. Is thy smart in the ears, or in the soul?
Cr. And why wouldst thou define the seat of my pain?
Gu. The doer vexes thy mind, but I, thine ears.
Cr. Ah, thou art a born babbler, ’tis well seen.320
Gu. May be, but never the doer of this deed.
Cr. Yea, and more,—the seller of thy life for silver.
Gu. Alas! ’Tis sad, truly, that he who judges should misjudge.
Cr. Let thy fancy play with ‘judgment’ as it will;—but, if ye show me not the doers of these things, ye shall avow that dastardly gains work sorrows. [Exit.
Gu. Well, may he be found! so ’twere best. But, be he caught or be he not—fortune must settle that—truly thou wilt not see me here again. Saved, even330 now, beyond hope and thought, I owe the gods great thanks. [Exit.
str. 1.Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him; and Earth, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, doth he wear, turning340 the soil with the offspring of horses, as the ploughs go to and fro from year to year.
ant. 1.And the light-hearted race of birds, and the tribes of savage beasts, and the sea-brood of the deep, he snares in the meshes of his woven toils, he leads captive, man excellent in wit. And he masters by his arts the beast whose lair is in the wilds, who roams the hills;350 he tames the horse of shaggy mane, he puts the yoke upon its neck, he tames the tireless mountain bull.
str. 2.And speech, and wind-swift thought, and all the moods that mould a state, hath he taught himself; and how to flee the arrows of the frost, when ’tis hard lodging under the clear sky, and the arrows of the rushing rain;360 yea, he hath resource for all; without resource he meets nothing that must come: only against Death shall he call for aid in vain; but from baffling maladies he hath devised escapes.
ant. 2.Cunning beyond fancy’s dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honours the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells370 with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!
Enter the Guard on the spectators’ left, leading inAntigone.
What portent from the gods is this?—my soul is amazed. I know her—how can I deny that yon maiden is Antigone?
O hapless, and child of hapless sire,—of Oedipus!380 What means this? Thou brought a prisoner?—thou, disloyal to the king’s laws, and taken in folly?
Here she is, the doer of the deed:—we caught this girl burying him:—but where is Creon?
Ch. Lo, he comes forth again from the house, at our need.
Cr. What is it? What hath chanced, that makes my coming timely?
Gu. O king, against nothing should men pledge their word; for the after-thought belies the first intent. I could have vowed that I should not soon be here390 again,—scared by thy threats, with which I had just been lashed: but,—since the joy that surprises and transcends our hopes is like in fulness to no other pleasure,—I have come, though ’tis in breach of my sworn oath, bringing this maid; who was taken showing grace to the dead. This time there was no casting of lots; no, this luck hath fallen to me, and to none else. And now, sire, take her thyself, question her, examine her, as thou wilt; but I have a right to free and final400 quittance of this trouble.
Cr. And thy prisoner here—how and whence hast thou taken her?
Gu. She was burying the man; thou knowest all.
Cr. Dost thou mean what thou sayest? Dost thou speak aright?
Gu. I saw her burying the corpse that thou hadst forbidden to bury. Is that plain and clear?
Cr. And how was she seen? how taken in the act?
Gu. It befell on this wise. When we had come to the place,—with those dread menaces of thine upon410 us,—we swept away all the dust that covered the corpse, and bared the dank body well; and then sat us down on the brow of the hill, to windward, heedful that the smell from him should not strike us; every man was wide awake, and kept his neighbour alert with torrents of threats, if any one should be careless of this task.
So went it, until the sun’s bright orb stood in mid heaven, and the heat began to burn: and then suddenly a whirlwind lifted from the earth a storm of dust, a trouble in the sky, and filled the plain, marring all the420 leafage of its woods; and the wide air was choked therewith: we closed our eyes, and bore the plague from the gods.
And when, after a long while, this storm had passed, the maid was seen; and she cried aloud with the sharp cry of a bird in its bitterness,—even as when, within the empty nest, it sees the bed stripped of its nestlings. So she also, when she saw the corpse bare, lifted up a voice of wailing, and called down curses on the doers of that deed. And straightway she brought thirsty dust in her hands; and from a shapely ewer of bronze,430 held high, with thrice-poured drink-offering she crowned the dead.
We rushed forward when we saw it, and at once closed upon our quarry, who was in no wise dismayed. Then we taxed her with her past and present doings; and she stood not on denial of aught,—at once to my joy and to my pain. To have escaped from ills one’s self is a great joy; but ’tis painful to brng friends to ill. Howbeit, all such things are of less account to me440 than mine own safety.
Cr. Thou—thou whose face is bent to earth—dost thou avow, or disavow, this deed?
An. I avow it; I make no denial.
Cr. (To Guard.) Thou canst betake thee whither thou wilt, free and clear of a grave charge. [Exit Guard.
(ToAntigone.) Now, tell me thou—not in many words, but briefly—knewest thou that an edict had forbidden this?
An. I knew it: could I help it? It was public.
Cr. And thou didst indeed dare to transgress that law?
An. Yes; for it was not Zeus that had published450 me that edict; not such are the laws set among men by the Justice who dwells with the gods below; nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven. For their life is not of to-day or yesterday, but from all time, and no man knows when they were first put forth.
Not through dread of any human pride could I460 answer to the gods for breaking these. Die I must,—I knew that well (how should I not?)—even without thy edicts. But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain: for when any one lives, as I do, compassed about with evils, can such an one find aught but gain in death?
So for me to meet this doom is trifling grief; but if I had suffered my mother’s son to lie in death an unburied corpse, that would have grieved me; for this, I am not grieved. And if my present deeds are foolish470 in thy sight, it may be that a foolish judge arraigns my folly.
Ch. The maid shows herself passionate child of passionate sire, and knows not how to bend before troubles.
Cr. Yet I would have thee know that o’er-stubborn spirits are most often humbled; ’tis the stiffest iron, baked to hardness in the fire, that thou shalt oftenest see snapped and shivered; and I have known horses that show temper brought to order by a little curb; there is no room for pride, when thou art thy neighbour’s480 slave.—This girl was already versed in insolence when she transgressed the laws that had been set forth; and, that done, lo, a second insult,—to vaunt of this, and exult in her deed.
Now verily I am no man, she is the man, if this victory shall rest with her, and bring no penalty. No! be she sister’s child, or nearer to me in blood than any that worships Zeus at the altar of our house,—she and her kinsfolk shall not avoid a doom most dire; for indeed I charge that other with a like share in the490 plotting of this burial.
And summon her—for I saw her e’en now within,—raving, and not mistress of her wits. So oft, before the deed, the mind stands self-convicted in its treason, when folks are plotting mischief in the dark. But verily this, too, is hateful,—when one who hath been caught in wickedness then seeks to make the crime a glory.
An. Wouldst thou do more than take and slay me?
Cr. No more, indeed; having that, I have all.
An. Why then dost thou delay? In thy discourse there is nought that pleases me,—never may there be!—and500 so my words must needs be unpleasing to thee. And yet, for glory—whence could I have won a nobler, than by giving burial to mine own brother? All here would own that they thought it well, were not their lips sealed by fear. But royalty, blest in so much besides, hath the power to do and say what it will.
Cr. Thou differest from all these Thebans in that view.
An. These also share it; but they curb their tongues for thee.
Cr. And art thou not ashamed to act apart from510 them?
An. No; there is nothing shameful in piety to a brother.
Cr. Was it not a brother, too, that died in the opposite cause?
An. Brother by the same mother and the same sire.
Cr. Why, then, dost thou render a grace that is impious in his sight?
An. The dead man will not say that he so deems it.
Cr. Yea, if thou makest him but equal in honour with the wicked.
An. It was his brother, not his slave, that perished.
Cr. Wasting this land; while he fell as its champion.
An. Nevertheless, Hades desires these rites.
Cr.520 But the good desires not a like portion with the evil.
An. Who knows but this seems blameless in the world below?
Cr. A foe is never a friend—not even in death.
An. ’Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving.
Cr. Pass, then, to the world of the dead, and, if thou must needs love, love them. While I live, no woman shall rule me.
EnterIsmenefrom the house, led in by two attendants.
Ch. Lo, yonder Ismene comes forth, shedding such tears as fond sisters weep; a cloud upon her brow casts530 its shadow over her darkly-flushing face, and breaks in rain on her fair cheek.
Cr. And thou, who, lurking like a viper in my house, wast secretly draining my life-blood, while I knew not that I was nurturing two pests, to rise against my throne—come, tell me now, wilt thou also confess thy part in this burial, or wilt thou forswear all knowledge of it?
Is. I have done the deed,—if she allows my claim,—and share the burden of the charge.
An. Nay, justice will not suffer thee to do that: thou didst not consent to the deed, nor did I give thee part in it.
Is. But, now that ills beset thee, I am not ashamed540 to sail the sea of trouble at thy side.
An. Whose was the deed, Hades and the dead are witnesses: a friend in words is not the friend that I love.
Is. Nay, sister, reject me not, but let me die with thee, and duly honour the dead.
An. Share not thou my death, nor claim deeds to which thou hast not put thy hand: my death will suffice.
Is. And what life is dear to me, bereft of thee?
An. Ask Creon; all thy care is for him.
Is. Why vex me thus, when it avails thee nought?550
An. Indeed, if I mock, ’tis with pain that I mock thee.
Is. Tell me,—how can I serve thee, even now?
An. Save thyself: I grudge not thy escape.
Is. Ah, woe is me! And shall I have no share in thy fate?
An. Thy choice was to live; mine, to die.
Is. At least thy choice was not made without my protest.
An. One world approved thy wisdom; another, mine.
Is. Howbeit, the offence is the same for both of us.
An. Be of good cheer; thou livest; but my life560 hath long been given to death, that so I might serve the dead.
Cr. Lo, one of these maidens hath newly shown herself foolish, as the other hath been since her life began.
Is. Yea, O king, such reason as nature may have given abides not with the unfortunate, but goes astray.
Cr. Thine did, when thou chosest vile deeds with the vile.
Is. What life could I endure, without her presence?
Cr. Nay, speak not of her ‘presence’; she lives no more.
Is. But wilt thou slay the betrothed of thine own son?
Cr. Nay, there are other fields for him to plough
Is.570 But there can never be such love as bound him to her.
Cr. I like not an evil wife for my son.
An. Haemon, beloved! How thy father wrongs thee!
Cr. Enough, enough of thee and of thy marriage!
Ch. Wilt thou indeed rob thy son of this maiden?
Cr. ’Tis Death that shall stay these bridals for me.
Ch. ’Tis determined, it seems, that she shall die.
Cr. Determined, yes, for thee and for me.—(To the two attendants.) No more delay—servants, take them within! Henceforth they must be women, and not range at large; for verily even the bold seek to fly, when they580 see Death now closing on their life.
[Exeunt attendants, guardingAntigoneandIsmene.—Creonremains.
Ch. Blest are they whose days have not tasted of evil. For when a house hath once been shaken from heaven, there the curse fails nevermore, passing from life to life of the race; even as, when the surge is driven over the darkness of the deep by the fierce breath of Thracian sea-winds, it rolls up the black sand from the590 depths, and there is a sullen roar from wind-vexed headlands that front the blows of the storm.
I see that from olden time the sorrows in the house of the Labdacidae are heaped upon the sorrows of the dead; and generation is not freed by generation, but some god strikes them down, and the race hath no deliverance.
For now that hope of which the light had been spread above the last root of the house of Oedipus—that600 hope, in turn, is brought low—by the blood-stained dust due to the gods infernal, and by folly in speech, and frenzy at the heart.
Thy power, O Zeus, what human trespass can limit? That power which neither Sleep, the all-ensnaring, nor the untiring months of the gods can master; but thou, a ruler to whom time brings not old age, dwellest in the dazzling splendour of Olympus.610
And through the future, near and far, as through the past, shall this law hold good: Nothing that is vast enters into the life of mortals without a curse.
For that hope whose wanderings are so wide is to many men a comfort, but to many a false lure of giddy620 desires; and the disappointment comes on one who knoweth nought till he burn his foot against the hot fire.
For with wisdom hath some one given forth the famous saying, that evil seems good, soon or late, to him whose mind the god draws to mischief; and but for the briefest space doth he fare free of woe.
But lo, Haemon, the last of thy sons;—comes he grieving for the doom of his promised bride, Antigone,630 and bitter for the baffled hope of his marriage?
Cr. We shall know soon, better than seers could tell us.—My son, hearing the fixed doom of thy betrothed, art thou come in rage against thy father? Or have I thy good will, act how I may?
Hae. Father, I am thine; and thou, in thy wisdom, tracest for me rules which I shall follow. No marriage shall be deemed by me a greater gain than thy good guidance.
Cr. Yea, this, my son, should be thy heart’s fixed640 law,—in all things to obey thy father’s will. ’Tis for this that men pray to see dutiful children grow up around them in their homes,—that such may requite their father’s foe with evil, and honour, as their father doth, his friend. But he who begets unprofitable children—what shall we say that he hath sown, but troubles for himself, and much triumph for his foes? Then do not thou, my son, at pleasure’s beck, dethrone thy reason for a woman’s sake; knowing that this is a joy that soon grows cold in clasping arms,—an evil650 woman to share thy bed and thy home. For what wound could strike deeper than a false friend? Nay, with loathing, and as if she were thine enemy, let this girl go to find a husband in the house of Hades. For since I have taken her, alone of all the city, in open disobedience, I will not make myself a liar to my people—I will slay her.
So let her appeal as she will to the majesty of kindred blood. If I am to nurture mine own kindred in naughtiness, needs must I bear with it in aliens. He660 who does his duty in his own household will be found righteous in the State also. But if any one transgresses, and does violence to the laws, or thinks to dictate to his rulers, such an one can win no praise from me. No, whomsoever the city may appoint, that man must be obeyed, in little things and great, in just things and unjust; and I should feel sure that one who thus obeys would be a good ruler no less than a good subject, and in the storm of spears would stand his ground where he670 was set, loyal and dauntless at his comrade’s side.
But disobedience is the worst of evils. This it is that ruins cities; this makes homes desolate; by this, the ranks of allies are broken into headlong rout; but, of the lives whose course is fair, the greater part owes safety to obedience. Therefore we must support the cause of order, and in no wise suffer a woman to worst us. Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man’s680 hand; then we should not be called weaker than a woman.
Ch. To us, unless our years have stolen our wit, thou seemest to say wisely what thou sayest.
Hae. Father, the gods implant reason in men, the highest of all things that we call our own. Not mine the skill—far from me be the quest!—to say wherein thou speakest not aright; and yet another man, too, might have some useful thought. At least, it is my natural office to watch, on thy behalf, all that men say,690 or do, or find to blame. For the dread of thy frown forbids the citizen to speak such words as would offend thine ear; but I can hear these murmurs in the dark, these moanings of the city for this maiden; ‘no woman,’ they say, ‘ever merited her doom less,—none ever was to die so shamefully for deeds so glorious as hers; who, when her own brother had fallen in bloody strife, would not leave him unburied, to be devoured by carrion dogs, or by any bird:—deserves not she the meed of golden honour?’
700 Such is the darkling rumour that spreads in secret. For me, my father, no treasure is so precious as thy welfare. What, indeed, is a nobler ornament for children than a prospering sire’s fair fame, or for sire than son’s? Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise,—that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer,—such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty.
No, though a man be wise, ’tis no shame for him to710 learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent’s course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch? And even thus he who keeps the sheet of his sail taut, and never slackens it, upsets his boat, and finishes his voyage with keel uppermost.
Nay, forego thy wrath; permit thyself to change. For if I, a younger man, may offer my thought, it were far best, I ween, that men should be all-wise by nature;720 but, otherwise—and oft the scale inclines not so—’tis good also to learn from those who speak aright.
Ch. Sire, ’tis meet that thou shouldest profit by his words, if he speaks aught in season, and thou, Haemon, by thy father’s; for on both parts there hath been wise speech.
Cr. Men of my age—are we indeed to be schooled, then, by men of his?
Hae. In nothing that is not right; but if I am young, thou shouldest look to my merits, not to my years.
Cr. Is it a merit to honour the unruly?730
Hae. I could wish no one to show respect for evildoers.
Cr. Then is not she tainted with that malady?
Hae. Our Theban folk, with one voice, denies it.
Cr. Shall Thebes prescribe to me how I must rule?
Hae. See, there thou hast spoken like a youth indeed.
Cr. Am I to rule this land by other judgment than mine own?
Hae. That is no city, which belongs to one man.
Cr. Is not the city held to be the ruler’s?
Hae. Thou wouldst make a good monarch of a desert.
Cr.740 This boy, it seems, is the woman’s champion.
Hae. If thou art a woman; indeed, my care is for thee.
Cr. Shameless, at open feud with thy father!
Hae. Nay, I see thee offending against justice.
Cr. Do I offend, when I respect mine own prerogatives?
Hae. Thou dost not respect them, when thou tramplest on the gods’ honours.
Cr. O dastard nature, yielding place to woman!
Hae. Thou wilt never find me yield to baseness.
Cr. All thy words, at least, plead for that girl.
Hae. And for thee, and for me, and for the gods below.
Cr.750 Thou canst never marry her, on this side the grave.
Hae. Then she must die, and in death destroy another.
Cr. How! doth thy boldness run to open threats?
Hae. What threat is it, to combat vain resolves?
Cr. Thou shalt rue thy witless teaching of wisdom.
Hae. Wert thou not my father, I would have called thee unwise.
Cr. Thou woman’s slave, use not wheedling speech with me.
Hae. Thou wouldest speak, and then hear no reply?
Cr. Sayest thou so? Now, by the heaven above us—be sure of it—thou shalt smart for taunting me in this opprobrious strain. Bring forth that hated thing,760 that she may die forthwith in his presence—before his eyes—at her bridegroom’s side!
Hae. No, not at my side—never think it—shall she perish; nor shalt thou ever set eyes more upon my face:—rave, then, with such friends as can endure thee.
Ch. The man is gone, O king, in angry haste; a youthful mind, when stung, is fierce.
Cr. Let him do, or dream, more than man—good speed to him!—But he shall not save these two girls from their doom.
Ch. Dost thou indeed purpose to slay both?770
Cr. Not her whose hands are pure: thou sayest well.
Ch. And by what doom mean’st thou to slay the other?
Cr. I will take her where the path is loneliest, and hide her, living, in a rocky vault, with so much food set forth as piety prescribes, that the city may avoid a public stain. And there, praying to Hades, the only god whom she worships, perchance she will obtain release from death; or else will learn, at last, though late, that it is lost labour to revere the dead.780[ExitCreon.
str.Ch. Love, unconquered in the fight, Love, who makest havoc of wealth, who keepest thy vigil on the soft cheek of a maiden; thou roamest over the sea, and among the homes of dwellers in the wilds; no immortal 790 can escape thee, nor any among men whose life is for a day; and he to whom thou hast come is mad.
ant.The just themselves have their minds warped by thee to wrong, for their ruin: ’tis thou that hast stirred up this present strife of kinsmen; victorious is the love-kindling light from the eyes of the fair bride; it is a power enthroned in sway beside the eternal laws; for800 there the goddess Aphrodite is working her unconquerable will.
But now I also am carried beyond the bounds of loyalty, and can no more keep back the streaming tears, when I see Antigone thus passing to the bridal chamber where all are laid to rest.
str. 1.An. See me, citizens of my fatherland, setting forth on my last way, looking my last on the sunlight that is810 for me no more; no, Hades who gives sleep to all leads me living to Acheron’s shore; who have had no portion in the chant that brings the bride, nor hath any song been mine for the crowning of bridals; whom the lord of the Dark Lake shall wed.
syst. 1.Ch. Glorious, therefore, and with praise, thou departest to that deep place of the dead: wasting sickness820 hath not smitten thee; thou hast not found the wages of the sword; no, mistress of thine own fate, and still alive, thou shalt pass to Hades, as no other of mortal kind hath passed.
ant. 1.An. I have heard in other days how dread a doom befell our Phrygian guest, the daughter of Tantalus, on the Sipylian heights; how, like clinging ivy, the growth of stone subdued her; and the rains fail not, as men tell, from her wasting form, nor fails the snow, while beneath her weeping lids the tears bedew her bosom;830 and most like to hers is the fate that brings me to my rest.
syst. 2.Ch. Yet she was a goddess, thou knowest, and born of gods; we are mortals, and of mortal race. But ’tis great renown for a woman who hath perished that she should have shared the doom of the godlike, in her life, and afterward in death.
str. 2.An. Ah, I am mocked! In the name of our fathers’ gods, can ye not wait till I am gone,—must840 ye taunt me to my face, O my city, and ye, her wealthy sons? Ah, fount of Dircè, and thou holy ground of Thebè whose chariots are many; ye, at least, will bear me witness, in what sort, unwept of friends, and by what laws I pass to the rock-closed prison of my strange tomb, ah me unhappy! who have no home on850 the earth or in the shades, no home with the living or with the dead.
str. 3.Ch. Thou hast rushed forward to the utmost verge of daring; and against that throne where Justice sits on high thou hast fallen, my daughter, with a grievous fall. But in this ordeal thou art paying, haply, for thy father’s sin.
ant. 2.An. Thou hast touched on my bitterest thought,—awaking860 the ever-new lament for my sire and for all the doom given to us, the famed house of Labdacus. Alas for the horrors of the mother’s bed! alas for the wretched mother’s slumber at the side of her own son,—and my sire! From what manner of parents did I take my miserable being! And to them I go thus, accursed,870 unwed, to share their home. Alas, my brother, illstarred in thy marriage, in thy death thou hast undone my life!
ant. 3.Ch. Reverent action claims a certain praise for reverence; but an offence against power cannot be brooked by him who hath power in his keeping. Thy self-willed temper hath wrought thy ruin.
ep.An. Unwept, unfriended, without marriage-song, I am led forth in my sorrow on this journey that can880 be delayed no more. No longer, hapless one, may I behold yon day-star’s sacred eye; but for my fate no tear is shed, no friend makes moan.
Cr. Know ye not that songs and wailings before death would never cease, if it profited to utter them? Away with her—away! And when ye have enclosed her, according to my word, in her vaulted grave, leave her alone, forlorn—whether she wishes to die, or to live a buried life in such a home. Our hands are clean as890 touching this maiden. But this is certain—she shall be deprived of her sojourn in the light.
An. Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither I go to find mine own, those many who have perished, and whom Persephone hath received among the dead! Last of all shall I pass thither, and far most miserably of all, before the term of my life is spent. But I cherish good hope that my coming will be welcome to my father, and pleasant to thee, my mother, and welcome, brother, to thee; for,900 when ye died, with mine own hands I washed and dressed you, and poured drink-offerings at your graves; and now, Polyneices, ’tis for tending thy corpse that I win such recompense as this.
[And yet I honoured thee, as the wise will deem, rightly. Never, had I been a mother of children, or if a husband had been mouldering in death, would I have taken this task upon me in the city’s despite. What law, ye ask, is my warrant for that word? The husband lost, another might have been found, and child from another, to replace the first-born; but, father and910 mother hidden with Hades, no brother’s life could ever bloom for me again. Such was the law whereby I held thee first in honour; but Creon deemed me guilty of error therein, and of outrage, ah brother mine! And now he leads me thus, a captive in his hands; no bridal bed, no bridal song hath been mine, no joy of marriage, no portion in the nurture of children; but thus, forlorn of friends, unhappy one, I go living to the vaults of death.]920
And what law of heaven have I transgressed? Why, hapless one, should I look to the gods any more,—what ally should I invoke,—when by piety I have earned the name of impious? Nay, then, if these things are pleasing to the gods, when I have suffered my doom, I shall come to know my sin; but if the sin is with my judges, I could wish them no fuller measure of evil than they, on their part, mete wrongfully to me.
Ch. Still the same tempest of the soul vexes this930 maiden with the same fierce gusts.
Cr. Then for this shall her guards have cause to rue their slowness.
An. Ah me! that word hath come very near to death.
Cr. I can cheer thee with no hope that this doom is not thus to be fulfilled.
An. O city of my fathers in the land of Thebè! O ye gods, eldest of our race!—they lead me hence—now,940 now—they tarry not! Behold me, princes of Thebes, the last daughter of the house of your kings,—see what I suffer, and from whom, because I feared to cast away the fear of Heaven!
[Antigoneis led away by the guards.
str. 1.Ch. Even thus endured Danaë in her beauty to change the light of day for brass-bound walls; and in that chamber, secret as the grave, she was held close prisoner; yet was she of a proud lineage, O my950 daughter, and charged with the keeping of the seed of Zeus, that fell in the golden rain.
But dreadful is the mysterious power of fate; there is no deliverance from it by wealth or by war, by fenced city, or dark, sea-beaten ships.
ant. 1.And bonds tamed the son of Dryas, swift to wrath, that king of the Edonians; so paid he for his frenzied taunts, when, by the will of Dionysus, he was pent in a rocky prison. There the fierce exuberance of his madness slowly passed away. That man learned to960 know the god, whom in his frenzy he had provoked with mockeries; for he had sought to quell the godpossessed women, and the Bacchanalian fire; and he angered the Muses that love the flute.
str. 2.And by the waters of the Dark Rocks, the waters of the twofold sea, are the shores of Bosporus, and Thracian Salmydessus; where Ares, neighbour to the970 city, saw the accurst, blinding wound dealt to the two sons of Phineus by his fierce wife,—the wound that brought darkness to those vengeance-craving orbs, smitten with her bloody hands, smitten with her shuttle for a dagger.
ant. 2.Pining in their misery, they bewailed their cruel doom, those sons of a mother hapless in her marriage;980 but she traced her descent from the ancient line of the Erechtheidae; and in far-distant caves she was nursed amid her father’s storms, that child of Boreas, swift as a steed over the steep hills, a daughter of gods; yet upon her also the gray Fates bore hard, my daughter.
EnterTeiresias,led by a Boy, on the spectators’ right.
Te. Princes of Thebes, we have come with linked steps, both served by the eyes of one; for thus, by a990 guide’s help, the blind must walk.
Cr. And what, aged Teiresias, are thy tidings?
Te. I will tell thee; and do thou hearken to the seer.
Cr. Indeed, it has not been my wont to slight thy counsel.
Te. Therefore didst thou steer our city’s course aright.
Cr. I have felt, and can attest, thy benefits.
Te. Mark that now, once more, thou standest on fate’s fine edge.
Cr. What means this? How I shudder at thy message!
Te. Thou wilt learn, when thou hearest the warnings of mine art. As I took my place on mine old seat1000 of augury, where all birds have been wont to gather within my ken, I heard a strange voice among them; they were screaming with dire, feverish rage, that drowned their language in a jargon; and I knew that they were rending each other with their talons, murderously; the whirr of wings told no doubtful tale.
Forthwith, in fear, I essayed burnt-sacrifice on a duly kindled altar: but from my offerings the Fire-god showed no flame; a dank moisture, oozing from the thigh-flesh, trickled forth upon the embers, and smoked,1010 and sputtered; the gall was scattered to the air; and the streaming thighs lay bared of the fat that had been wrapped round them.
Such was the failure of the rites by which I vainly asked a sign, as from this boy I learned; for he is my guide, as I am guide to others. And ’tis thy counsel that hath brought this sickness on our State. For the altars of our city and of our hearths have been tainted, one and all, by birds and dogs, with carrion from the hapless corpse, the son of Oedipus: and therefore the gods no more accept prayer and sacrifice at our hands,1020 or the flame of meat-offering; nor doth any bird give a clear sign by its shrill cry, for they have tasted the fatness of a slain man’s blood.
Think, then, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err; but when an error hath been made, that man is no longer witless or unblest who heals the ill into which he hath fallen, and remains not stubborn.
Self-will, we know, incurs the charge of folly. Nay, allow the claim of the dead; stab not the fallen; what prowess is it to slay the slain anew? I have sought1030 thy good, and for thy good I speak: and never is it sweeter to learn from a good counsellor than when he counsels for thine own gain.
Cr. Old man, ye all shoot your shafts at me, as archers at the butts;—ye must needs practise on me with seer-craft also;—aye, the seer-tribe hath long trafficked in me, and made me their merchandise. Gain your gains, drive your trade, if ye list, in the silver-gold of Sardis and the gold of India; but ye shall not hide that man in the grave,—no, though the eagles of Zeus1040 should bear the carrion morsels to their Master’s throne—no, not for dread of that defilement will I suffer his burial:—for well I know that no mortal can defile the gods.—But, aged Teiresias, the wisest fall with a shameful fall, when they clothe shameful thoughts in fair words, for lucre’s sake.
Te. Alas! Doth any man know, doth any consider...
Cr. Whereof? What general truth dost thou announce?
Te.1050 How precious, above all wealth, is good counsel.
Cr. As folly, I think, is the worst mischief.
Te. Yet thou art tainted with that distemper.
Cr. I would not answer the seer with a taunt.
Te. But thou dost, in saying that I prophesy falsely.
Cr. Well, the prophet-tribe was ever fond of money.
Te. And the race bred of tyrants loves base gain.
Cr. Knowest thou that thy speech is spoken of thy king?
Te. I know it; for through me thou hast saved Thebes.
Cr. Thou art a wise seer; but thou lovest evil deeds.
Te.1060 Thou wilt rouse me to utter the dread secret in my soul.
Cr. Out with it!—Only speak it not for gain.
Te. Indeed, methinks, I shall not,—as touching thee.
Cr. Know that thou shalt not trade on my resolve.
Te. Then know thou—aye, know it well—that thou shalt not live through many more courses of the sun’s swift chariot, ere one begotten of thine own loins shall have been given by thee, a corpse for corpses; because thou hast thrust children of the sunlight to the shades,1070 and ruthlessly lodged a living soul in the grave; but keepest in this world one who belongs to the gods infernal, a corpse unburied, unhonoured, all unhallowed. In such thou hast no part, nor have the gods above, but this is a violence done to them by thee. Therefore the avenging destroyers lie in wait for thee, the Furies of Hades and of the gods, that thou mayest be taken in these same ills.
And mark well if I speak these things as a hireling. A time not long to be delayed shall awaken the wailing of men and of women in thy house. And a tumult of hatred against thee stirs all the cities whose mangled1080 sons had the burial-rite from dogs, or from wild beasts, or from some winged bird that bore a polluting breath to each city that contains the hearths of the dead.
Such arrows for thy heart—since thou provokest me—have I launched at thee, archer-like, in my anger,—sure arrows, of which thou shalt not escape the smart.—Boy, lead me home, that he may spend his rage on younger men, and learn to keep a tongue more temperate, and to bear within his breast a better mind than1090 now he bears. [ExitTeiresias.
Ch. The man hath gone, O king, with dread prophecies. And, since the hair on this head, once dark, hath been white, I know that he hath never been a false prophet to our city.
Cr. I, too, know it well, and am troubled in soul. ’Tis dire to yield; but, by resistance, to smite my pride with ruin—this, too, is a dire choice.
Ch. Son of Menoeceus, it behoves thee to take wise counsel.
Cr. What should I do, then? Speak, and I will obey.
Ch. Go thou, and free the maiden from her rocky1100 chamber, and make a tomb for the unburied dead.
Cr. And this is thy counsel? Thou wouldst have me yield?
Ch. Yea, King, and with all speed; for swift harms from the gods cut short the folly of men.
Cr. Ah me, ’tis hard, but I resign my cherished resolve,—I obey. We must not wage a vain war with destiny.
Ch. Go, thou, and do these things; leave them not to others.
Cr. Even as I am I’ll go:—on, on, my servants, each and all of you,—take axes in your hands, and1110 hasten to the ground that ye see yonder! Since our judgment hath taken this turn, I will be present to unloose her, as I myself bound her. My heart misgives me, ’tis best to keep the established laws, even to life’s end.
str. 1.Ch. O thou of many names, glory of the Cadmeian bride, offspring of loud-thundering Zeus! thou who watchest over famed Italia, and reignest, where all guests1120 are welcomed, in the sheltered plain of Eleusinian Deô! O Bacchus, dweller in Thebè, mother-city of Bacchants, by the softly-gliding stream of Ismenus, on the soil where the fierce dragon’s teeth were sown!
ant. 1.Thou hast been seen where torch-flames glare through smoke, above the crests of the twin peaks, where move1130 the Corycian nymphs, thy votaries, hard by Castalia’s stream.
Thou cornest from the ivy-mantled slopes of Nysa’s hills, and from the shore green with many-clustered vines, while thy name is lifted up on strains of more than mortal power, as thou visitest the ways of Thebè:
str. 2.Thebè, of all cities, thou holdest first in honour, thou, and thy mother whom the lightning smote; and now, when all our people is captive to a violent plague,1140 come thou with healing feet over the Parnassian height, or over the moaning strait!
ant. 2.O thou with whom the stars rejoice as they move, the stars whose breath is fire; O master of the voices of the night; son begotten of Zeus; appear, O king, with thine attendant Thyiads, who in night-long frenzy1150 dance before thee, the giver of good gifts, Iacchus!
EnterMessenger,on the spectators’ left hand.
Me. Dwellers by the house of Cadmus and of Amphion, there is no estate of mortal life that I would ever praise or blame as settled. Fortune raises and Fortune humbles the lucky or unlucky from day to day, and no one can prophesy to men concerning those things1160 which are established. For Creon was blest once, as I count bliss; he had saved this land of Cadmus from its foes; he was clothed with sole dominion in the land; he reigned, the glorious sire of princely children. And now all hath been lost. For when a man hath forfeited his pleasures, I count him not as living,—I hold him but a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in thy house, if thou wilt; live in kingly state; yet, if there be no gladness therewith, I would not give the shadow of a1170 vapour for all the rest, compared with joy.
Ch. And what is this new grief that thou hast to tell for our princes?
Me. Death; and the living are guilty for the dead.
Ch. And who is the slayer? Who the stricken? Speak.
Me. Haemon hath perished; his blood hath been shed by no stranger.
Ch. By his father’s hand, or by his own?
Me. By his own, in wrath with his sire for the murder.
Ch. O prophet, how true, then, hast thou proved thy word!
Me. These things stand thus; ye must consider of the rest.
Ch.1180 Lo, I see the hapless Eurydicè, Creon’s wife, approaching; she comes from the house by chance, haply,—or because she knows the tidings of her son.
Eu. People of Thebes, I heard your words as I was going forth, to salute the goddess Pallas with my prayers. Even as I was loosing the fastenings of the gate, to open it, the message of a household woe smote on mine ear: I sank back, terror-stricken, into1190 the arms of my handmaids, and my senses fled. But say again what the tidings were; I shall hear them as one who is no stranger to sorrow.
Me. Dear lady, I will witness of what I saw, and will leave no word of the truth untold. Why, indeed, should I soothe thee with words in which I must presently be found false? Truth is ever best.—I attended thy lord as his guide to the furthest part of the plain, where the body of Polyneices, torn by dogs, still lay unpitied. We prayed the goddess of the roads, and Pluto, in mercy to restrain their wrath; we washed the1200 dead with holy washing; and with freshly-plucked boughs we solemnly burned such relics as there were. We raised a high mound of his native earth; and then we turned away to enter the maiden’s nuptial chamber with rocky couch, the caverned mansion of the bride of Death. And, from afar off, one of us heard a voice of loud wailing at that bride’s unhallowed bower; and came to tell our master Creon.
And as the king drew nearer, doubtful sounds of1210 a bitter cry floated around him; he groaned, and said in accents of anguish, ‘Wretched that I am, can my foreboding be true? Am I going on the wofullest way that ever I went? My son’s voice greets me.—Go, my servants,—haste ye nearer, and when ye have reached the tomb, pass through the gap, where the stones have been wrenched away, to the cell’s very mouth,—and look, and see if ’tis Haemon’s voice that I know, or if mine ear is cheated by the gods.’
This search, at our despairing master’s word, we went to make; and in the furthest part of the tomb1220 we descried her hanging by the neck, slung by a thread-wrought halter of fine linen; while he was embracing her with arms thrown around her waist,—bewailing the loss of his bride who is with the dead, and his father’s deeds, and his own ill-starred love.
But his father, when he saw him, cried aloud with a dread cry, and went in, and called to him with a voice of wailing:—‘Unhappy, what a deed hast thou done! What thought hath come to thee? What manner of1230 mischance hath marred thy reason? Come forth, my child! I pray thee—I implore!’ But the boy glared at him with fierce eyes, spat in his face, and, without a word of answer, drew his cross-hilted sword:—as his father rushed forth in flight, he missed his aim;—then, hapless one, wroth with himself, he straightway leaned with all his weight against his sword, and drove it, half its length, into his side; and, while sense lingered, he clasped the maiden to his faint embrace, and, as he gasped, sent forth on her pale cheek the swift stream of the oozing blood.
1240 Corpse enfolding corpse he lies; he hath won his nuptial rites, poor youth, not here, yet in the halls of Death; and he hath witnessed to mankind that, of all curses which cleave to man, ill counsel is the sovereign curse. [Eurydicèretires into the house.
Ch. What wouldst thou augur from this? The lady hath turned back, and is gone, without a word, good or evil.
Me. I, too, am startled; yet I nourish the hope that, at these sore tidings of her son, she cannot deign to give her sorrow public vent, but in the privacy of the house will set her handmaids to mourn the household1250 grief. For she is not untaught of discretion, that she should err.
Ch. I know not; but to me, at least, a strained silence seems to portend peril, no less than vain abundance of lament.
Me. Well, I will enter the house, and learn whether indeed she is not hiding some repressed purpose in the depths of a passionate heart. Yea, thou sayest well: excess of silence, too, may have a perilous meaning.
EnterCreon,on the spectators’ left, with attendants, carrying the shrouded body ofHaemonon a bier.
Ch. Lo, yonder the king himself draws near, bearing that which tells too clear a tale,—the work of no stranger’s madness,—if we may say it,—but of his own1260 misdeeds.
str. 1.Cr. Woe for the sins of a darkened soul, stubborn sins, fraught with death! Ah, ye behold us, the sire who hath slain, the son who hath perished! Woe is me, for the wretched blindness of my counsels! Alas, my son, thou hast died in thy youth, by a timeless doom, woe is me!—thy spirit hath fled,—not by thy folly, but by mine own!
str. 2.Ch. Ah me, how all too late thou seemest to see the right!1270
Cr. Ah me, I have learned the bitter lesson! But then, methinks, oh then, some god smote me from above with crushing weight, and hurled me into ways of cruelty, woe is me,—overthrowing and trampling on my joy! Woe, woe, for the troublous toils of men!
EnterMessengerfrom the house.
Me. Sire, thou hast come, methinks, as one whose hands are not empty, but who hath store laid up besides; thou bearest yonder burden with thee; and thou1280 art soon to look upon the woes within thy house.
Cr. And what worse ill is yet to follow upon ills?
Me. Thy queen hath died, true mother of yon corpse—ah, hapless lady!—by blows newly dealt.
ant. 1.Cr. Oh Hades, all-receiving, whom no sacrifice can appease! Hast thou, then, no mercy for me? O thou herald of evil, bitter tidings, what word dost thou utter? Alas, I was already as dead, and thou hast smitten me anew! What sayest thou, my son? What is this new1290 message that thou bringest—woe, woe is me!—of a wife’s doom,—of slaughter heaped on slaughter?
Ch. Thou canst behold: ’tis no longer hidden within.
[The doors of the palace are opened, and the corpse ofEurydicèis disclosed.
ant. 2.Cr. Ah me,—yonder I behold a new, a second woe! What destiny, ah what, can yet await me? I have but now raised my son in my arms,—and there, again, I see1300 a corpse before me! Alas, alas, unhappy mother! Alas, my child!
Me. There, at the altar, self-stabbed with a keen knife, she suffered her darkening eyes to close, when she had wailed for the noble fate of Megareus who died before, and then for his fate who lies there,—and when, with her last breath, she had invoked evil fortunes upon thee, the slayer of thy sons.
str. 3.Cr. Woe, woe! I thrill with dread. Is there none to strike me to the heart with two-edged sword?—O miserable that I am, and steeped in miserable anguish!1310
Me. Yea, both this son’s doom, and that other’s, were laid to thy charge by her whose corpse thou seest.
Cr. And what was the manner of the violent deed by which she passed away?
Me. Her own hand struck her to the heart, when she had learned her son’s sorely lamented fate.
str. 4.Cr. Ah me, this guilt can never be fixed on any other of mortal kind, for my acquittal! I, even I, was thy slayer, wretched that I am—I own the truth. Lead1320 me away, O my servants, lead me hence with all speed, whose life is but as death!
Ch. Thy counsels are good, if there can be good with ills; briefest is best, when trouble is in our path.
ant. 3.Cr. Oh, let it come, let it appear, that fairest of fates for me, that brings my last day,—aye, best fate1330 of all! Oh, let it come, that I may never look upon to-morrow’s light.
Ch. These things are in the future; present tasks claim our care: the ordering of the future rests where it should rest.
Cr. All my desires, at least, were summed in that prayer.
Ch. Pray thou no more; for mortals have no escape from destined woe.
ant. 4.Cr. Lead me away, I pray you; a rash, foolish1340 man; who have slain thee, ah my son, unwittingly, and thee, too, my wife—unhappy that I am! I know not which way I should bend my gaze, or where I should seek support; for all is amiss with that which is in my hands,—and yonder, again, a crushing fate hath leapt upon my head.
[AsCreonis being conducted into the house, the Coryphaeus speaks the closing verses.
Ch. Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great1350 words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
In Book IV of Plato’s Republic, he discusses the idea of justice in the highest sense and the concept of justice in the soul, as well as what makes man just.
Plato, The Dialogues of Plato translated into English with Analyses and Introductions by B. Jowett, M.A. in Five Volumes. 3rd edition revised and corrected (Oxford University Press, 1892). Chapter: BOOK IV.
Accessed from oll.libertyfund.org/title/767/93810 on 2007-12-06
The text is in the public domain.
Republic IV.Adeimantus, Socrates.An objection that Socrates has made his citizens poor and miserable:
419Here Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer, Socrates, said he, if a person were to say that you are making1 these people miserable, and that they are the cause of their own unhappiness; the city in fact belongs to them, but they are none the better for it; whereas other men acquire lands, and build large and handsome houses, and have everything handsome about them, offering sacrifices to the gods on their own account, and practising hospitality; moreover, as you were saying just now, they have gold and silver, and all that is usual among the favourites of fortune; but our poor citizens are no better than mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting guard?
and worst of all, adds Socrates, they have no money.
420Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not paid in addition to their food, like other men; and therefore they cannot, if they would, take a journey of pleasure; they have no money to spend on a mistress or any other luxurious fancy, which, as the world goes, is thought to be happiness; and many other accusations of the same nature might be added.
But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the charge.
You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?
Yet very likely they may be the happiest of mankind.The State, like a statue, must be judged of as a whole.The guardians must be guardians, not boon companions.
If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that we shall find the answer. And our answer will be that, even as they are, our guardians may very likely be the happiest of men; but that our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which is ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to find justice, and in the ill-ordered State injustice: and, having found them, we might then decide which of the two is the happier. At present, I take it, we are fashioning the happy State, not piecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole; and by-and-by we will proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that we were painting a statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not put the most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the body—the eyes ought to be purple, but you have made them black—to him we might fairly answer, Sir, you would not surely have us beautify the eyes to such a degree that they are no longer eyes; consider rather whether, by giving this and the other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful. And so I say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort of happiness which will make them anything but guardians; for we too can clothe our husbandmen in royal apparel, and set crowns of gold on their heads, and bid them till the ground as much as they like, and no more. Our potters also might be allowed to repose on couches, and feast by the fireside, passing round the winecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and working at pottery only as much as they like; in this way we might make every class happy—and then, as you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do not put this idea into our heads; for, 421if we listen to you, the husbandman will be no longer a husbandman, the potter will cease to be a potter, and no one will have the character of any distinct class in the State. Now this is not of much consequence where the corruption of society, and pretension to be what you are not, is confined to cobblers; but when the guardians of the laws and of the government are only seeming and not real guardians, then see how they turn the State upside down; and on the other hand they alone have the power of giving order and happiness to the State. We mean our guardians to be true saviours and not the destroyers of the State, whereas our opponent is thinking of peasants at a festival, who are enjoying a life of revelry, not of citizens who are doing their duty to the State. But, if so, we mean different things, and he is speaking of something which is not a State. And therefore we must consider whether in appointing our guardians we would look to their greatest happiness individually, or whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside in the State as a whole. But if the latter be the truth, then the guardians and auxiliaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled or induced to do their own work in the best way. And thus the whole State will grow up in a noble order, and the several classes will receive the proportion of happiness which nature assigns to them.
I think that you are quite right.
I wonder whether you will agree with another remark which occurs to me.
What may that be?
There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.
What are they?
Wealth, I said, and poverty.
How do they act?
When an artisan grows rich, he becomes careless: if he is very poor, he has no money to buy tools with. The city should be neither poor nor rich.
The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will he, think you, any longer take the same pains with his art?
He will grow more and more indolent and careless?
And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?
Yes; he greatly deteriorates.
But, on the other hand, if he has no money, and cannot provide himself with tools or instruments, he will not work equally well himself, nor will he teach his sons or apprentices to work equally well.
Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth, workmen and their work are equally liable to degenerate?
That is evident.
Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which the guardians will have to watch, or they will creep into the city unobserved.
422Wealth, I said, and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence, and the other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.
Socrates, Adeimantus.But how, being poor, can she contend against a wealthy enemy?
That is very true, he replied; but still I should like to know, Socrates, how our city will be able to go to war, especially against an enemy who is rich and powerful, if deprived of the sinews of war.
There would certainly be a difficulty, I replied, in going to war with one such enemy; but there is no difficulty where there are two of them.
How so? he asked.
Our wiry soldiers will be more than a match for their fat neighbours.
In the first place, I said, if we have to fight, our side will be trained warriors fighting against an army of rich men.
That is true, he said.
And do you not suppose, Adeimantus, that a single boxer who was perfect in his art would easily be a match for two stout and well-to-do gentlemen who were not boxers?
Hardly, if they came upon him at once.
What, not, I said, if he were able to run away and then turn and strike at the one who first came up? And supposing he were to do this several times under the heat of a scorching sun, might he not, being an expert, overturn more than one stout personage?
Certainly, he said, there would be nothing wonderful in that.
And yet rich men probably have a greater superiority in the science and practise of boxing than they have in military qualities.
Then we may assume that our athletes will be able to fight with two or three times their own number?
I agree with you, for I think you right.
And they will have allies who will readily join on condition of receiving the spoil.
And suppose that, before engaging, our citizens send an embassy to one of the two cities, telling them what is the truth: Silver and gold we neither have nor are permitted to have, but you may; do you therefore come and help us in war, and take the spoils of the other city: Who, on hearing these words, would choose to fight against lean wiry dogs, rather than, with the dogs on their side, against fat and tender sheep?
That is not likely; and yet there might be a danger to the poor State if the wealth of many States were to be gathered into one.
But how simple of you to use the term State at all of any but our own!
But many cities will conspire? No: they are divided in themselves.Many states are contained in one
You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not one of them is a city, but many cities, as they say in the game. For indeed any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these 423are at war with one another; and in either there are many smaller divisions, and you would be altogether beside the mark if you treated them all as a single State. But if you deal with them as many, and give the wealth or power or persons of the one to the others, you will always have a great many friends and not many enemies. And your State, while the wise order which has now been prescribed continues to prevail in her, will be the greatest of States, I do not mean to say in reputation or appearance, but in deed and truth, though she number not more than a thousand defenders. A single State which is her equal you will hardly find, either among Hellenes or barbarians, though many that appear to be as great and many times greater.
That is most true, he said.
The limit to the size of the State the possibility of unity.
And what, I said, will be the best limit for our rulers to fix when they are considering the size of the State and the amount of territory which they are to include, and beyond which they will not go?
What limit would you propose?
I would allow the State to increase so far as is consistent with unity; that, I think, is the proper limit.
Very good, he said.
Here then, I said, is another order which will have to be conveyed to our guardians: Let our city be accounted neither large nor small, but one and self-sufficing.
And surely, said he, this is not a very severe order which we impose upon them.
The duty of adjusting the citizens to the rank forwhich nature intended them.
And the other, said I, of which we were speaking before is lighter still,—I mean the duty of degrading the offspring of the guardians when inferior, and of elevating into the rank of guardians the offspring of the lower classes, when naturally superior. The intention was, that, in the case of the citizens generally, each individual should be put to the use for which nature intended him, one to one work, and then every man would do his own business, and be one and not many; and so the whole city would be one and not many.
Yes, he said; that is not so difficult.
The regulations which we are prescribing, my good Adeimantus, are not, as might be supposed, a number of great principles, but trifles all, if care be taken, as the saying is, of the one great thing,—a thing, however, which I would rather call, not, great, but sufficient for our purpose.
What may that be? he asked.
Education, I said, and nurture: If our citizens are well educated, and grow into sensible men, they will easily see their way through all these, as well as other matters which I omit; such, for example, as marriage, the possession of 424women and the procreation of children, which will all follow the general principle that friends have all things in common, as the proverb says.
That will be the best way of settling them.
Good education has a cumulative force and affects the breed.
Also, I said, the State, if once started well, moves with accumulating force like a wheel. For good nurture and education implant good constitutions, and these good constitutions taking root in a good education improve more and more, and this improvement affects the breed in man as in other animals.
Very possibly, he said.
No innovations to be made either in music or gymnastic.
Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the attention of our rulers should be directed,—that music and gymnastic be preserved in their original form, and no innovation made. They must do their utmost to maintain them intact. And when any one says that mankind most regard
‘The newest song which the singers have1 ,’
they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs, but a new kind of song; and this ought not to be praised, or conceived to be the meaning of the poet; for any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite believe him;—he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.
Yes, said Adelmantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon’s and your own.
Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their fortress in music?
Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.
Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it appears harmless.
The spirit of lawlessness, beginning in music, gradually pervades the whole of life.
Why, yes, he said, and there is no harm; were it not that little by little this spirit of licence, finding a home, imperceptibly penetrates into manners and customs; whence, issuing with greater force, it invades contracts between man and man, and from contracts goes on to laws and constitutions, in utter recklessness, ending at last, Socrates, by an overthrow of all rights, private as well as public.
Is that true? I said.
That is my belief, he replied.
Then, as I was saying, our youth should be trained from the first in a stricter system, for if amusements become lawless, 425and the youths themselves become lawless, they can never grow up into well-conducted and virtuous citizens.
Very true, he said.
The habit of order the basis of education.
And when they have made a good beginning in play, and by the help of music have gained the habit of good order, then this habit of order, in a manner how unlike the lawless play of the others! will accompany them in all their actions and be a principle of growth to them, and if there be any fallen places in the State will raise them up again.
Very true, he said.
If the citizens have the root of the matter in them, they will supply the details for themselves.
Thus educated, they will invent for themselves any lesser rules which their predecessors have altogether neglected.
What do you mean?
I mean such things as these:—when the young are to be silent before their elders; how they are to show respect to them by standing and making them sit; what honour is due to parents; what garments or shoes are to be worn; the mode of dressing the hair; deportment and manners in general. You would agree with me?
But there is, I think, small wisdom in legislating about such matters,—I doubt if it is ever done; nor are any precise written enactments about them likely to be lasting.
It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?
To be sure.
Until some one rare and grand result is reached which may be good, and may be the reverse of good?
That is not to be denied.
And for this reason, I said, I shall not attempt to legislate further about them.
Naturally enough, he replied.
The mere routine of administration may be omitted by us.
Well, and about the business of the agora, and the ordinary dealings between man and man, or again about agreements with artisans; about insult and injury, or the commencement of actions, and the appointment of juries, what would you say? there may also arise questions about any impositions and exactions of market and harbour dues which may be required, and in general about the regulations of markets, police, harbours, and the like. But, oh heavens! shall we condescend to legislate on any of these particulars?
I think, he said, that there is no need to impose laws about them on good men; what regulations are necessary they will find out soon enough for themselves.
Yes, I said, my friend, if God will only preserve to them the laws which we have given them.
And without divine help, said Adeimantus, they will go on for ever making and mending their laws and their lives in the hope of attaining perfection.
Illustration of reformers of the law taken from invalids who are always doctoring themselves, but will
You would compare them, I said, to those invalids who, having no self-restraint, will not leave off their habits of intemperance?
426Yes, I said; and what a delightful life they lead! they are always doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders, and always fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum which anybody advises them to try.
Such cases are very common, he said, with invalids of this sort.
never listen to the truth.
Yes, I replied; and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that, unless they give up eating and drinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amulet nor any other remedy will avail.
Charming! he replied. I see nothing charming in going into a passion with a man who tells you what is right.
These gentlemen, I said, do not seem to be in your good graces.
Nor would you praise the behaviour of States which act like the men whom I was just now describing. For are there not ill-ordered States in which the citizens are forbidden under pain of death to alter the constitution; and yet he who most sweetly courts those who live under this régime and indulges them and fawns upon them and is skilful in anticipating and gratifying their humours is held to be a great and good statesman—do not these States resemble the persons whom I was describing?
Yes, he said; the States are as bad as the men; and I am very far from praising them.
But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity of these ready ministers of political corruption?
Demagogues trying their hands at legislation may be excused for their ignorance of the world.
Yes, he said, I do; but not of all of them, for there are some whom the applause of the multitude has deluded into the belief that they are really statesmen, and these are not much to be admired.
What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them. When a man cannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure declare that he is four cubits high, can he help believing what they say?
Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.
Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as a play, trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing; they are always fancying that by legislation they will make an end of frauds in contracts, and the other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that they are in reality cutting off the heads of a hydra?
427Yes, he said; that is just what they are doing.
Socrates, Adeimantus, Glaucon.
I conceive, I said, that the true legislator will not trouble himself with this class of enactments whether concerning laws or the constitution either in an ill-ordered or in a well-ordered State; for in the former they are quite useless, and in the latter there will be no difficulty in devising them; and many of them will naturally flow out of our previous regulations.
What, then, he said, is still remaining to us of the work of legislation?
Nothing to us, I replied; but to Apollo, the god of Delphi, there remains the ordering of the greatest and noblest and chiefest things of all.
Which are they? he said.
Religion to be left to the God of Delphi.
The institution of temples and sacrifices, and the entire service of gods, demigods, and heroes; also the ordering of the repositories of the dead, and the rites which have to be observed by him who would propitiate the inhabitants of the world below. These are matters of which we are ignorant ourselves, and as founders of a city we should be unwise in trusting them to any interpreter but our ancestral deity. He is the god who sits in the centre, on the navel of the earth, and he is the interpreter of religion to all mankind.
You are right, and we will do as you propose.
But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where. Now that our city has been made habitable, light a candle and search, and get your brother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help, and let us see where in it we can discover justice and where injustice, and in what they differ from one another, and which of them the man who would be happy should have for his portion, whether seen or unseen by gods and men.
Nonsense, said Glaucon: did you not promise to search yourself, saying that for you not to help justice in her need would be an impiety?
I do not deny that I said so; and as you remind me, I will be as good as my word; but you must join.
We will, he replied.
Well, then, I hope to make the discovery in this way: I mean to begin with the assumption that our State, if rightly ordered, is perfect.
That is most certain.
And being perfect, is therefore wise and valiant and temperate and just.
That is likewise clear.
And whichever of these qualities we find in the State, the one which is not found will be the residue?
If there were four things, and we were searching for one of them, wherever it might be, the one sought for might be known to us from the first, and there would be no further trouble; or we might know the other three first, and then the fourth would clearly be the one left.
Very true, he said.
And is not a similar method to be pursued about the virtues, which are also four in number?
The place of the virtues in the State: (1) The wisdom of the statesman advises, not about particular arts or pursuits,
First among the virtues found in the State, wisdom comes into view, and in this I detect a certain peculiarity.
What is that?
The State which we have been describing is said to be wise as being good in counsel?
And good counsel is clearly a kind of knowledge, for not by ignorance, but by knowledge, do men counsel well?
And the kinds of knowledge in a State are many and diverse?
There is the knowledge of the carpenter; but is that the sort of knowledge which gives a city the title of wise and good in counsel?
Certainly not; that would only give a city the reputation of skill in carpentering.
Then a city is not to be called wise because possessing a knowledge which counsels for the best about wooden implements?
Nor by reason of a knowledge which advises about brazen pots, he said, nor as possessing any other similar knowledge?
Not by reason of any of them, he said.
Nor yet by reason of a knowledge which cultivates the earth; that would give the city the name of agricultural?
but about the whole State.
Well, I said, and is there any knowledge in our recently-founded State among any of the citizens which advises, not about any particular thing in the State, but about the whole, and considers how a State can best deal with itself and with other States?
There certainly is.
And what is this knowledge, and among whom is it found? I asked.
It is the knowledge of the guardians, he replied, and is found among those whom we were just now describing as perfect guardians.
And what is the name which the city derives from the possession of this sort of knowledge?
The name of good in counsel and truly wise.
The statesmen or guardians are the smallest of all classes in the State.
And will there be in our city more of these true guardians or more smiths?
The smiths, he replied, will be far more numerous.
Will not the guardians be the smallest of all the classes who receive a name from the profession of some kind of knowledge?
Much the smallest.
And so by reason of the smallest part or class, and of the knowledge which resides in this presiding and ruling part of itself, the whole State, being thus constituted according 429to nature, will be wise; and this, which has the only knowledge worthy to be called wisdom, has been ordained by nature to be of all classes the least.
Thus, then, I said, the nature and place in the State of one of the four virtues has somehow or other been discovered.
And, in my humble opinion, very satisfactorily discovered, he replied.
Again, I said, there is no difficulty in seeing the nature of courage, and in what part that quality resides which gives the name of courageous to the State.
How do you mean?
(2) The courage which makes the city courageous is found chiefly in the soldier.
Why, I said, every one who calls any State courageous or cowardly, will be thinking of the part which fights and goes out to war on the State’s behalf.
No one, he replied, would ever think of any other.
The rest of the citizens may be courageous or may be cowardly, but their courage or cowardice will not, as I conceive, have the effect of making the city either the one or the other.
It is the quality which preserves right opinion about things to be feared and not to be feared.
The city will be courageous in virtue of a portion of herself which preserves under all circumstances that opinion about the nature of things to be feared and not to be feared in which our legislator educated them; and this is what you term courage.
I should like to hear what you are saying once more, for I do not think that I perfectly understand you.
I mean that courage is a kind of salvation.
Salvation of what?
Of the opinion respecting things to be feared, what they are and of what nature, which the law implants through education; and I mean by the words ‘under all circumstances’ to intimate that in pleasure or in pain, or under the influence of desire or fear, a man preserves, and does not lose this opinion. Shall I give you an illustration?
If you please.
Illustration from the art of dyeing.
You know, I said, that dyers, when they want to dye wool for making the true sea-purple, begin by selecting their white colour first; this they prepare and dress with much care and pains, in order that the white ground may take the purple hue in full perfection. The dyeing then proceeds; and whatever is dyed in this manner becomes a fast colour, and no washing either with lyes or without them can take away the bloom. But, when the ground has not been duly prepared, you will have noticed how poor is the look either of purple or of any other colour.
Yes, he said; I know that they have a washed-out and ridiculous appearance.
Our soldiers must take the dye of the laws.
Then now, I said, you will understand what our object was 430in selecting our soldiers, and educating them in music and gymnastic; we were contriving influences which would prepare them to take the dye of the laws in perfection, and the colour of their opinion about dangers and of every other opinion was to be indelibly fixed by their nurture and training, not to be washed away by such potent lyes as pleasure—mightier agent far in washing the soul than any soda or lye; or by sorrow, fear, and desire, the mightiest of all other solvents. And this sort of universal saving power of true opinion in conformity with law about real and false dangers I call and maintain to be courage, unless you disagree.
But I agree, he replied; for I suppose that you mean to exclude mere uninstructed courage, such as that of a wild beast or of a slave—this, in your opinion, is not the courage which the law ordains, and ought to have another name.
Then I may infer courage to be such as you describe?
Why, yes, said I, you may, and if you add the words ‘of a citizen,’ you will not be far wrong;—hereafter, if you like, we will carry the examination further, but at present we are seeking not for courage but justice; and for the purpose of our enquiry we have said enough.
You are right, he replied.
Two other virtues, temperance and justice, which must be considered in their proper order.
Two virtues remain to be discovered in the State—first, temperance, and then justice which is the end of our search.
Now, can we find justice without troubling ourselves about temperance?
I do not know how that can be accomplished, he said, nor do I desire that justice should be brought to light and temperance lost sight of; and therefore I wish that you would do me the favour of considering temperance first.
Certainly, I replied, I should not be justified in refusing your request.
Then consider, he said.
Yes, I replied; I will; and as far as I can at present see, the virtue of temperance has more of the nature of harmony and symphony than the preceding.
How so? he asked.
Temperance, I replied, is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures and desires; this is curiously enough implied in the saying of ‘a man being his own master;’ and other traces of the same notion may be found in language.
No doubt, he said.
The temperate is master of himself, but the same person, when intemperate, is also the slave of himself.
There is something ridiculous in the expression ‘master of 431himself;’ for the master is also the servant and the servant the master; and in all these modes of speaking the same person is denoted.
The meaning is, I believe, that in the human soul there is a better and also a worse principle; and when the better has the worse under control, then a man is said to be master of himself; and this is a term of praise: but when, owing to evil education or association, the better principle, which is also the smaller, is overwhelmed by the greater mass of the worse—in this case he is blamed and is called the slave of self and unprincipled.
Yes, there is reason in that.
And now, I said, look at our newly-created State, and there you will find one of these two conditions realized; for the State, as you will acknowledge, may be justly called master of itself, if the words ‘temperance’ and ‘self-mastery’ truly express the rule of the better part over the worse.
Yes, he said, I see that what you say is true.
Let me further note that the manifold and complex pleasures and desires and pains are generally found in children and women and servants, and in the freemen so called who are of the lowest and more numerous class.
Certainly, he said.
Whereas the simple and moderate desires which follow reason, and are under the guidance of mind and true opinion, are to be found only in a few, and those the best born and best educated.
The State which has the passions and desires of the many controlled
These two, as you may perceive, have a place in our State; and the meaner desires of the many are held down by the virtuous desires and wisdom of the few.
That I perceive, he said.
Then if there be any city which may be described as master of its own pleasures and desires, and master of itself, ours may claim such a designation?
Certainly, he replied.
It may also be called temperate, and for the same reasons?
by the few may be rightly called temperate.
And if there be any State in which rulers and subjects will be agreed as to the question who are to rule, that again will be our State?
And the citizens being thus agreed among themselves, in which class will temperance be found—in the rulers or in the subjects?
In both, as I should imagine, he replied.
Do you observe that we were not far wrong in our guess that temperance was a sort of harmony?
Temperance resides in the whole State.
Why, because temperance is unlike courage and wisdom, each of which resides in a part only, the one making the 432State wise and the other valiant; not so temperance, which extends to the whole, and runs through all the notes of the scale, and produces a harmony of the weaker and the stronger and the middle class, whether you suppose them to be stronger or weaker in wisdom or power or numbers or wealth, or anything else. Most truly then may we deem temperance to be the agreement of the naturally superior and inferior, as to the right to rule of either, both in states and individuals.
I entirely agree with you.
And so, I said, we may consider three out of the four virtues to have been discovered in our State. The last of those qualities which make a state virtuous must be justice, if we only knew what that was.
The inference is obvious.
Justice is not far off.
The time then has arrived, Glaucon, when, like huntsmen, we should surround the cover, and look sharp that justice does not steal away, and pass out of sight and escape us; for beyond a doubt she is somewhere in this country: watch therefore and strive to catch a sight of her, and if you see her first, let me know.
Would that I could! but you should regard me rather as a follower who has just eyes enough to see what you show him—that is about as much as I am good for.
Offer up a prayer with me and follow.
I will, but you must show me the way.
Here is no path, I said, and the wood is dark and perplexing; still we must push on.
Let us push on.
Here I saw something: Halloo! I said, I begin to perceive a track, and I believe that the quarry will not escape.
Good news, he said.
Truly, I said, we are stupid fellows.
Why, my good sir, at the beginning of our enquiry, ages ago, there was justice tumbling out at our feet, and we never saw her; nothing could be more ridiculous. Like people who go about looking for what they have in their hands—that was the way with us—we looked not at what we were seeking, but at what was far off in the distance; and therefore, I suppose, we missed her.
What do you mean?
I mean to say that in reality for a long time past we have been talking of justice, and have failed to recognise her.
I grow impatient at the length of your exordium.
We had already found her when we spoke of one man doing one thing only.
433Well then, tell me, I said, whether I am right or not: You remember the original principle which we were always laying down at the foundation of the State, that one man should practise one thing only, the thing to which his nature was best adapted;—now justice is this principle or a part of it.
Yes, we often said that one man should do one thing only.
Further, we affirmed that justice was doing one’s own business, and not being a busybody; we said so again and again, and many others have said the same to us.
Yes, we said so.
Then to do one’s own business in a certain way may be assumed to be justice. Can you tell me whence I derive this inference?
I cannot, but I should like to be told.
From another point of view Justice
Because I think that this is the only virtue which remains in the State when the other virtues of temperance and courage and wisdom are abstracted; and, that this is the ultimate cause and condition of the existence of all of them, and while remaining in them is also their preservative; and we were saying that if the three were discovered by us, justice would be the fourth or remaining one.
is the residue of the three others.
That follows of necessity.
If we are asked to determine which of these four qualities by its presence contributes most to the excellence of the State, whether the agreement of rulers and subjects, or the preservation in the soldiers of the opinion which the law ordains about the true nature of dangers, or wisdom and watchfulness in the rulers, or whether this other which I am mentioning, and which is found in children and women, slave and freeman, artisan, ruler, subject,—the quality, I mean, of every one doing his own work, and not being a busybody, would claim the palm—the question is not so easily answered.
Certainly, he replied, there would be a difficulty in saying which.
Then the power of each individual in the State to do his own work appears to compete with the other political virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage.
Yes, he said.
And the virtue which enters into this competition is justice?
Our idea is confirmed by the administration of justice in lawsuits. No man is to have what is not his own.
Let us look at the question from another point of view: Are not the rulers in a State those to whom you would entrust the office of determining suits at law?
And are suits decided on any other ground but that a man may neither take what is another’s, nor be deprived of what is his own?
Yes; that is their principle.
Which is a just principle?
Then on this view also justice will be admitted to be the having and doing what is a man’s own, and belongs to him?
Think, now, and say whether you agree with me or not. Suppose a carpenter to be doing the business of a cobbler, or a cobbler of a carpenter; and suppose them to exchange their implements or their duties, or the same person to be doing the work of both, or whatever be the change; do you think that any great harm would result to the State?
like individuals, should not meddle with one another’s occupations.
But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of his followers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange and this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State.
Seeing then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most justly termed evil-doing?
And the greatest degree of evil-doing to one’s own city would be termed by you injustice?
This then is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader, the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business, that is justice, and will make the city just.
I agree with you.
From the larger example of the State we will now return to the individual.
We will not, I said, be over-positive as yet; but if, on trial, this conception of justice be verified in the individual as well as in the State, there will be no longer any room for doubt; if it be not verified, we must have a fresh enquiry. First let us complete the old investigation, which we began, as you remember, under the impression that, if we could previously examine justice on the larger scale, there would be less difficulty in discerning her in the individual. That larger example appeared to be the State, and accordingly we constructed as good a one as we could, knowing well that in the good State justice would be found. Let the discovery which we made be now applied to the individual—if they agree, we shall be satisfied; or, if there be a difference in the individual, we will come back to the State and have another 435trial of the theory. The friction of the two when rubbed together may possibly strike a light in which justice will shine forth, and the vision which is then revealed we will fix in our souls.
That will be in regular course; let us do as you say.
I proceeded to ask: When two things, a greater and less, are called by the same name, are they like or unlike in so far as they are called the same?
Like, he replied.
The just man then, if we regard the idea of justice only, will be like the just State?
And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the State severally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of these same classes?
True, he said.
And so of the individual; we may assume that he has the same three principles in his own soul which are found in the State; and he may be rightly described in the same terms, because he is affected in the same manner?
Certainly, he said.
How can we decide whether or no the soul has three distinct principles?
Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easy question—whether the soul has these three principles or not?
An easy question! Nay, rather, Socrates, the proverb holds that hard is the good.
Our method is inadequate, and for a better and longer one we have not at present time.
Very true, I said; and I do not think that the method which we are employing is at all adequate to the accurate solution of this question; the true method is another and a longer one. Still we may arrive at a solution not below the level of the previous enquiry.
May we not be satisfied with that? he said;—under the circumstances, I am quite content.
I too, I replied, shall be extremely well satisfied.
Then faint not in pursuing the speculation, he said.
Must we not acknowledge, I said, that in each of us there are the same principles and habits which there are in the State; and that from the individual they pass into the State?—how else can they come there? Take the quality of passion or spirit;—it would be ridiculous to imagine that this quality, when found in States, is not derived from the individuals who are supposed to possess it, e. g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general the northern nations; and the same may be said of the love of knowledge, which is the special characteristic of our part of the world, or of the 436love of money, which may, with equal truth, be attributed to the Phoenicians and Egyptians.
Exactly so, he said.
There is no difficulty in understanding this.
A digression in which an attempt is made to attain logical clearness.
But the question is not quite so easy when we proceed to ask whether these principles are three or one; whether, that is to say, we learn with one part of our nature, are angry with another, and with a third part desire the satisfaction of our natural appetites; or whether the whole soul comes into play in each sort of action—to determine that is the difficulty.
Yes, he said; there lies the difficulty.
Then let us now try and determine whether they are the same or different.
How can we? he asked.
The criterion of truth: Nothing can be and not be at the same time in the same relation.
I replied as follows: The same thing clearly cannot act or be acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways; and therefore whenever this contradiction occurs in things apparently the same, we know that they are really not the same, but different.
For example, I said, can the same thing be at rest and in motion at the same time in the same part?
Still, I said, let us have a more precise statement of terms, lest we should hereafter fall out by the way. Imagine the case of a man who is standing and also moving his hands and his head, and suppose a person to say that one and the same person is in motion and at rest at the same moment —to such a mode of speech we should object, and should rather say that one part of him is in motion while another is at rest.
Anticipation of objections to this ‘law of thought.’
And suppose the objector to refine still further, and to draw the nice distinction that not only parts of tops, but whole tops, when they spin round with their pegs fixed on the spot, are at rest and in motion at the same time (and he may say the same of anything which revolves in the same spot), his objection would not be admitted by us, because in such cases things are not at rest and in motion in the same parts of themselves; we should rather say that they have both an axis and a circumference; and that the axis stands still, for there is no deviation from the perpendicular; and that the circumference goes round. But if, while revolving, the axis inclines either to the right or left, forwards or backwards, then in no point of view can they be at rest.
That is the correct mode of describing them, he replied.
Then none of these objections will confuse us, or incline us to believe that the same thing at the same time, in the 437same part or in relation to the same thing, can act or be acted upon in contrary ways.
Certainly not, according to my way of thinking.
Yet, I said, that we may not be compelled to examine all such objections, and prove at length that they are untrue, let us assume their absurdity, and go forward on the understanding that hereafter, if this assumption turn out to be untrue, all the consequences which follow shall be withdrawn.
Yes, he said, that will be the best way.
Likes and dislikes exist in many forms.
Well, I said, would you not allow that assent and dissent, desire and aversion, attraction and repulsion, are all of them opposites, whether they are regarded as active or passive (for that makes no difference in the fact of their opposition)?
Yes, he said, they are opposites.
Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in general, and again willing and wishing,—all these you would refer to the classes already mentioned. You would say—would you not?—that the soul of him who desires is seeking after the object of his desire; or that he is drawing to himself the thing which he wishes to possess: or again, when a person wants anything to be given him, his mind, longing for the realization of his desire, intimates his wish to have it by a nod of assent, as if he had been asked a question?
And what would you say of unwillingness and dislike and the absence of desire; should not these be referred to the opposite class of repulsion and rejection?
Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose a particular class of desires, and out of these we will select hunger and thirst, as they are termed, which are the most obvious of them?
Let us take that class, he said.
The object of one is food, and of the other drink?
There may be simple thirst or qualified thirst, having respectively a simple or a qualified object.
And here comes the point: is not thirst the desire which the soul has of drink, and of drink only; not of drink qualified by anything else; for example, warm or cold, or much or little, or, in a word, drink of any particular sort: but if the thirst be accompanied by heat, then the desire is of cold drink; or, if accompanied by cold, then of warm drink; or, if the thirst be excessive, then the drink which is desired will be excessive; or, if not great, the quantity of drink will also be small: but thirst pure and simple will desire drink pure and simple, which is the natural satisfaction of thirst, as food is of hunger?
Yes, he said; the simple desire is, as you say, in every case of the simple object, and the qualified desire of the qualified object.
Exception: The term good expresses, not a particular, but an universal relation.
438But here a confusion may arise; and I should wish to guard against an opponent starting up and saying that no man desires drink only, but good drink, or food only, but good food; for good is the universal object of desire, and thirst being a desire, will necessarily be thirst after good drink; and the same is true of every other desire.
Yes, he replied, the opponent might have something to say.
Nevertheless I should still maintain, that of relatives some have a quality attached to either term of the relation; others are simple and have their correlatives simple.
I do not know what you mean.
Illustration of the argument from the use of language about correlative terms.
Well, you know of course that the greater is relative to the less?
And the much greater to the much less?
And the sometime greater to the sometime less, and the greater that is to be to the less that is to be?
Certainly, he said.
And so of more and less, and of other correlative terms, such as the double and the half, or again, the heavier and the lighter, the swifter and the slower; and of hot and cold, and of any other relatives; — is not this true of all of them?
And does not the same principle hold in the sciences? The object of science is knowledge (assuming that to be the true definition), but the object of a particular science is a particular kind of knowledge; I mean, for example, that the science of house-building is a kind of knowledge which is defined and distinguished from other kinds and is therefore termed architecture.
Because it has a particular quality which no other has?
And it has this particular quality because it has an object of a particular kind; and this is true of the other arts and sciences?
Recapitulation.Anticipation of a possible confusion.
Now, then, if I have made myself clear, you will understand my original meaning in what I said about relatives. My meaning was, that if one term of a relation is taken alone, the other is taken alone; if one term is qualified, the other is also qualified. I do not mean to say that relatives may not be disparate, or that the science of health is healthy, or of disease necessarily diseased, or that the sciences of good and evil are therefore good and evil; but only that, when the term science is no longer used absolutely, but has a qualified object which in this case is the nature of health and disease, it becomes defined, and is hence called not merely science, but the science of medicine.
I quite understand, and I think as you do.
439Would you not say that thirst is one of these essentially relative terms, having clearly a relation—
Yes, thirst is relative to drink.
And a certain kind of thirst is relative to a certain kind of drink; but thirst taken alone is neither of much nor little, nor of good nor bad, nor of any particular kind of drink, but of drink only?
Then the soul of the thirsty one, in so far as he is thirsty, desires only drink; for this he yearns and tries to obtain it?
That is plain.
The law of contradiction.
And if you suppose something which pulls a thirsty soul away from drink, that must be different from the thirsty principle which draws him like a beast to drink; for, as we were saying, the same thing cannot at the same time with the same part of itself act in contrary ways about the same.
No more than you can say that the hands of the archer push and pull the bow at the same time, but what you say is that one hand pushes and the other pulls.
Exactly so, he replied.
And might a man be thirsty, and yet unwilling to drink?
Yes, he said, it constantly happens.
And in such a case what is one to say? Would you not say that there was something in the soul bidding a man to drink, and something else forbidding him, which is other and stronger than the principle which bids him?
I should say so.
The opposition of desire and reason.
And the forbidding principle is derived from reason, and that which bids and attracts proceeds from passion and disease?
Then we may fairly assume that they are two, and that they differ from one another; the one with which a man reasons, we may call the rational principle of the soul, the other, with which he loves and hungers and thirsts and feels the flutterings of any other desire, may be termed the irrational or appetitive, the ally of sundry pleasures and satisfactions?
Yes, he said, we may fairly assume them to be different.
Then let us finally determine that there are two principles existing in the soul. And what of passion, or spirit? Is it a third, or akin to one of the preceding?
I should be inclined to say—akin to desire.
The third principle of spirit or passion illustrated by an example.
Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in which I put faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one day from the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside, observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; 440for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your fill of the fair sight.
I have heard the story myself, he said.
The moral of the tale is, that anger at times goes to war with desire, as though they were two distinct things.
Yes; that is the meaning, he said.
Passion never takes part with desire against reason.
And are there not many other cases in which we observe that when a man’s desires violently prevail over his reason, he reviles himself, and is angry at the violence within him, and that in this struggle, which is like the struggle of factions in a State, his spirit is on the side of his reason;—but for the passionate or spirited element to take part with the desires when reason decides that she should not be opposed1 , is a sort of thing which I believe that you never observed occurring in yourself, nor, as I should imagine, in any one else?
Righteous indignation never felt by a person of noble character when he deservedly suffers.
Suppose that a man thinks he has done a wrong to another, the nobler he is the less able is he to feel indignant at any suffering, such as hunger, or cold, or any other pain which the injured person may inflict upon him—these he deems to be just, and, as I say, his anger refuses to be excited by them.
True, he said.
But when he thinks that he is the sufferer of the wrong, then he boils and chafes, and is on the side of what he believes to be justice; and because he suffers hunger or cold or other pain he is only the more determined to persevere and conquer. His noble spirit will not be quelled until he either slays or is slain; or until he hears the voice of the shepherd, that is, reason, bidding his dog bark no more.
The illustration is perfect, he replied; and in our State, as we were saying, the auxiliaries were to be dogs, and to hear the voice of the rulers, who are their shepherds.
I perceive, I said, that you quite understand me; there is, however, a further point which I wish you to consider.
You remember that passion or spirit appeared at first sight to be a kind of desire, but now we should say quite the contrary; for in the conflict of the soul spirit is arrayed on the side of the rational principle.
Not two, but three principles in the soul, as in the State.
But a further question arises: Is passion different from reason also, or only a kind of reason; in which latter case, instead of three principles in the soul, there will only be two, 441the rational and the concupiscent; or rather, as the State was composed of three classes, traders, auxiliaries, counsellors, so may there not be in the individual soul a third element which is passion or spirit, and when not corrupted by bad education is the natural auxiliary of reason?
Yes, he said, there must be a third.
Yes, I replied, if passion, which has already been shown to be different from desire, turn out also to be different from reason.
But that is easily proved:—We may observe even in young children that they are full of spirit almost as soon as they are born, whereas some of them never seem to attain to the use of reason, and most of them late enough.
Appeal to Homer.
Excellent, I said, and you may see passion equally in brute animals, which is a further proof of the truth of what you are saying. And we may once more appeal to the words of Homer, which have been already quoted by us,
‘He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul1 ;’
for in this verse Homer has clearly supposed the power which reasons about the better and worse to be different from the unreasoning anger which is rebuked by it.
Very true, he said.
The conclusion that the same three principles exist both in the State and in the individual applied to each of them.
And so, after much tossing, we have reached land, and are fairly agreed that the same principles which exist in the State exist also in the individual, and that they are three in number.
Must we not then infer that the individual is wise in the same way, and in virtue of the same quality which makes the State wise?
Also that the same quality which constitutes courage in the State constitutes courage in the individual, and that both the State and the individual bear the same relation to all the other virtues?
And the individual will be acknowledged by us to be just in the same way in which the State is just?
That follows of course.
We cannot but remember that the justice of the State consisted in each of the three classes doing the work of its own class?
We are not very likely to have forgotten, he said.
We must recollect that the individual in whom the several qualities of his nature do their own work will be just, and will do his own work?
Yes, he said, we must remember that too.
And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subject and ally?
Music and gymnastic will harmonize passion and reason. These two combined will control desire,
And, as we were saying, the united influence of music and gymnastic will bring them into accord, nerving and sustaining the reason with noble words and lessons, and moderating 442and soothing and civilizing the wildness of passion by harmony and rhythm?
Quite true, he said.
And these two, thus nurtured and educated, and having learned truly to know their own functions, will rule1 over the concupiscent, which in each of us is the largest part of the soul and by nature most insatiable of gain; over this they will keep guard, lest, waxing great and strong with the fulness of bodily pleasures, as they are termed, the concupiscent soul, no longer confined to her own sphere, should attempt to enslave and rule those who are not her natural-born subjects, and overturn the whole life of man?
Very true, he said.
and will be the best defenders both of body and soul.
Both together will they not be the best defenders of the whole soul and the whole body against attacks from without; the one counselling, and the other fighting under his leader, and courageously executing his commands and counsels?
And he is to be deemed courageous whose spirit retains in pleasure and in pain the commands of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear?
Right, he replied.
And him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules, and which proclaims these commands; that part too being supposed to have a knowledge of what is for the interest of each of the three parts and of the whole?
And would you not say that he is temperate who has these same elements in friendly harmony, in whom the one ruling principle of reason, and the two subject ones of spirit and desire are equally agreed that reason ought to rule, and do not rebel?
Certainly, he said, that is the true account of temperance whether in the State or individual.
And surely, I said, we have explained again and again how and by virtue of what quality a man will be just.
That is very certain.
And is justice dimmer in the individual, and is her form different, or is she the same which we found her to be in the State?
There is no difference in my opinion, he said.
Because, if any doubt is still lingering in our minds, a few commonplace instances will satisfy us of the truth of what I am saying.
The nature of justice illustrated by commonplace instances.
What sort of instances do you mean?
If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just 443State, or the man who is trained in the principles of such a State, will be less likely than the unjust to make away with a deposit of gold or silver? Would any one deny this?
No one, he replied.
Will the just man or citizen ever be guilty of sacrilege or theft, or treachery either to his friends or to his country?
Neither will he ever break faith where there have been oaths or agreements?
No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonour his father and mother, or to fail in his religious duties?
And the reason is that each part of him is doing its own business, whether in ruling or being ruled?
Are you satisfied then that the quality which makes such men and such states is justice or do you hope to discover some other?
Not I, indeed.
We have realized the hope entertained in the first construction of the State.
Then our dream has been realized; and the suspicion which we entertained at the beginning of our work of construction, that some divine power must have conducted us to a primary form of justice, has now been verified?
And the division of labour which required the carpenter and the shoemaker and the rest of the citizens to be doing each his own business, and not another’s, was a shadow of justice, and for that reason it was of use?
The three principles harmonize in one.The harmony of human life.
But in reality justice was such as we were describing, being concerned however, not with the outward man, but with the inward, which is the true self and concernment of man: for the just man does not permit the several elements within him to interfere with one another, or any of them to do the work of others,—he sets in order his own inner life, and is his own master and his own law, and at peace with himself; and when he has bound together the three principles within him, which may be compared to the higher, lower, and middle notes of the scale, and the intermediate intervals—when he has bound all these together, and is no longer many, but has become one entirely temperate and perfectly adjusted nature, then he proceeds to act, if he has to act, whether in a matter of property, or in the treatment of the body, or in some affair of politics or private business; always thinking and calling that which preserves and co-operates with this harmonious condition, just and good action, and the knowledge which presides over it, wisdom, and that which at any 444time impairs this condition, he will call unjust action, and the opinion which presides over it ignorance.
You have said the exact truth, Socrates.
Very good; and if we were to affirm that we had discovered the just man and the just State, and the nature of justice in each of them, we should not be telling a falsehood?
Most certainly not.
May we say so, then?
Let us say so.
And now, I said, injustice has to be considered.
Injustice the opposite of justice.
Must not injustice be a strife which arises among the three principles—a meddlesomeness, and interference, and rising up of a part of the soul against the whole, an assertion of unlawful authority, which is made by a rebellious subject against a true prince, of whom he is the natural vassal,—what is all this confusion and delusion but injustice, and intemperance and cowardice and ignorance, and every form of vice?
And if the nature of justice and injustice be known, then the meaning of acting unjustly and being unjust, or, again, of acting justly, will also be perfectly clear?
What do you mean? he said.
Why, I said, they are like disease and health; being in the soul just what disease and health are in the body.
How so? he said.
Why, I said, that which is healthy causes health, and that which is unhealthy causes disease.
Analogy of body and soul.
And just actions cause justice, and unjust actions cause injustice?
Health: disease: : justice: injustice.
That is certain.
And the creation of health is the institution of a natural order and government of one by another in the parts of the body; and the creation of disease is the production of a state of things at variance with this natural order?
And is not the creation of justice the institution of a natural order and government of one by another in the parts of the soul, and the creation of injustice the production of a state of things at variance with the natural order?
Exactly so, he said.
Then virtue is the health and beauty and well-being of the soul, and vice the disease and weakness and deformity of the same?
And do not good practices lead to virtue, and evil practices to vice?
The old question, whether the just or the unjust is the happier, has become ridiculous.
445Still our old question of the comparative advantage of justice and injustice has not been answered: Which is the more profitable, to be just and act justly and practise virtue, whether seen or unseen of gods and men, or to be unjust and act unjustly, if only unpunished and unreformed?
In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become ridiculous. We know that, when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer endurable, though pampered with all kinds of meats and drinks, and having all wealth and all power; and shall we be told that when the very essence of the vital principle is undermined and corrupted, life is still worth having to a man, if only he be allowed to do whatever he likes with the single exception that he is not to acquire justice and virtue, or to escape from injustice and vice; assuming them both to be such as we have described?
Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still, as we are near the spot at which we may see the truth in the clearest manner with our own eyes, let us not faint by the way.
Certainly not, he replied.
Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice, those of them, I mean, which are worth looking at.
I am following you, he replied: proceed.
I said, The argument seems to have reached a height from which, as from some tower of speculation, a man may look down and see that virtue is one, but that the forms of vice are innumerable; there being four special ones which are deserving of note.
What do you mean? he said.
As many forms of the soul as of the State.
I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of the soul as there are distinct forms of the State.
There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.
What are they?
The first, I said, is that which we have been describing, and which may be said to have two names, monarchy and aristocracy, accordingly as rule is exercised by one distinguished man or by many.
True, he replied.
But I regard the two names as describing one form only; for whether the government is in the hands of one or many, if the governors have been trained in the manner which we have supposed, the fundamental laws of the State will be maintained.
That is true, he replied.
[1 ]Or, ‘that for their own good you are making these people miserable.’
[1 ]Od. i. 352.
[1 ]Reading μὴ δεɩ̂ν ἀντιπράττειν, without a comma after δεɩ̂ν.
[1 ]Od. xx. 17, quoted supra, III. 390 D.
[1 ]Reading προστατήσετον with Bekker; or, if the reading προστήσετον, which is found in the MSS., be adopted, then the nominative must be supplied from the previous sentence: ‘Music and gymnastic will place in authority over . . .’ This is very awkward, and the awkwardness is increased by the necessity of changing the subject at τηρήσετον.
In Book VII of Plato’s Republic, he gives the parable of The Cave, which has become an idealistic monument to the view of humanity through transformation and enlightenment of the soul.
PP. 214-221 in the facsimile pdf, and #514-522.
Plato, The Dialogues of Plato translated into English with Analyses and Introductions by B. Jowett, M.A. in Five Volumes. 3rd edition revised and corrected (Oxford University Press, 1892). Chapter: BOOK VII.
Accessed from oll.libertyfund.org/title/767/93813 on 2007-12-06
The text is in the public domain.
The den, the prisoners; the light at a distance;
514And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
the low wall, and the moving figures of which the shadows are seen on the opposite wall of the den.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals 515made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them1 ?
The prisoners would mistake the shadows for realities.
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And when released, they would still persist in maintaining the superior truth of the shadows.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,—what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them,—will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he said.
When dragged upwards, they would be dazzled by excess of light.
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be 516pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
At length they will see the sun and understand his nature.
Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
They would then pity their old companions of the den.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
‘Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,’
and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
To be sure, he said.
But when they returned to the den they would see much worse than those who had never left it.
And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never 517moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
No question, he said.
The prison is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun.
This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed—whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.
Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
Yes, very natural.
Nothing extraordinary in the philosopher being unable to see in the dark.
And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?
Anything but surprising, he replied.
The eyes may be blinded in two ways, by excess or by defect of light.
518Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.
That, he said, is a very just distinction.
The conversion of the soul is the turning round the eye from darkness to light.
But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.
They undoubtedly say this, he replied.
Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.
And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?
Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.
The virtue of wisdom has a divine power which may be turned either towards good or towards evil.
And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other 519hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue—how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eye-sight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?
Very true, he said.
But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below—if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.
Neither the uneducated nor the overeducated will be good servants of the State.
Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.
Very true, he replied.
Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all—they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.
What do you mean?
Men should ascend to the upper world, but they should also return to the lower.
I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.
But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?
You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, 520and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.
True, he said, I had forgotten.
The duties of philosophers.Their obligations to their country will induce them to take part in her government.
Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State, which is also yours, will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.
Quite true, he replied.
And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light?
They will be willing but not anxious to rule.
Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.
The statesman must be provided with a better life than that of a ruler; and then he will not covet office.
Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You 521must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.
Most true, he replied.
And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?
Indeed, I do not, he said.
And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.
Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will be the men who are wisest about affairs of State, and by whom the State is best administered, and who at the same time have other honours and another and a better life than that of politics?
They are the men, and I will choose them, he replied.
And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and how they are to be brought from darkness to light,—as some are said to have ascended from the world below to the gods?
By all means, he replied.
The training of the guardians.
The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell1 , but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below2 , which we affirm to be true philosophy?
What knowledge will draw the soul upwards?
And should we not enquire what sort of knowledge has the power of effecting such a change?
What sort of knowledge is there which would draw the soul from becoming to being? And another consideration has just occurred to me: You will remember that our young men are to be warrior athletes?
Yes, that was said.
Then this new kind of knowledge must have an additional quality?
Usefulness in war.
Yes, if possible.
There were two parts in our former scheme of education, were there not?
The first education had two parts, music and gymnastic.
There was gymnastic which presided over the growth and decay of the body, and may therefore be regarded as having to do with generation and corruption?
522Then that is not the knowledge which we are seeking to discover?
But what do you say of music, what also entered to a certain extent into our former scheme?
Music, he said, as you will remember, was the counterpart of gymnastic, and trained the guardians by the influences of habit, by harmony making them harmonious, by rhythm rhythmical, but not giving them science; and the words, whether fabulous or possibly true, had kindred elements of rhythm and harmony in them. But in music there was nothing which tended to that good which you are now seeking.
You are most accurate, I said, in your recollection; in music there certainly was nothing of the kind. But what branch of knowledge is there, my dear Glaucon, which is of the desired nature; since all the useful arts were reckoned mean by us?
Undoubtedly; and yet if music and gymnastic are excluded, and the arts are also excluded, what remains?
Well, I said, there may be nothing left of our special subjects; and then we shall have to take something which is not special, but of universal application.
What may that be?
There remains for the second education, arithmetic;
A something which all arts and sciences and intelligences use in common, and which every one first has to learn among the elements of education.
What is that?
The little matter of distinguishing one, two, and three—in a word, number and calculation:—do not all arts and sciences necessarily partake of them?
Then the art of war partakes of them?
To be sure.
Then Palamedes, whenever he appears in tragedy, proves Agamemnon ridiculously unfit to be a general. Did you never remark how he declares that he had invented number, and had numbered the ships and set in array the ranks of the army at Troy; which implies that they had never been numbered before, and Agamemnon must be supposed literally to have been incapable of counting his own feet—how could he if he was ignorant of number? And if that is true, what sort of general must he have been?
I should say a very strange one, if this was as you say.
Can we deny that a warrior should have a knowledge of arithmetic?
Certainly he should, if he is to have the smallest understanding of military tactics, or indeed, I should rather say, if he is to be a man at all.
I should like to know whether you have the same notion which I have of this study?
What is your notion?
that being a study which leads naturally to reflection, for
It appears to me to be a study of the kind which we are 523seeking, and which leads naturally to reflection, but never to have been rightly used; for the true use of it is simply to draw the soul towards being.
Will you explain your meaning? he said.
I will try, I said; and I wish you would share the enquiry with me, and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I attempt to distinguish in my own mind what branches of knowledge have this attracting power, in order that we may have clearer proof that arithmetic is, as I suspect, one of them.
Explain, he said.
reflection is aroused by contradictory impressions of sense.
I mean to say that objects of sense are of two kinds; some of them do not invite thought because the sense is an adequate judge of them; while in the case of other objects sense is so untrustworthy that further enquiry is imperatively demanded.
You are clearly referring, he said, to the manner in which the senses are imposed upon by distance, and by painting in light and shade.
No, I said, that is not at all my meaning.
Then what is your meaning?
When speaking of uninviting objects, I mean those which do not pass from one sensation to the opposite; inviting objects are those which do; in this latter case the sense coming upon the object, whether at a distance or near, gives no more vivid idea of anything in particular than of its opposite. An illustration will make my meaning clearer:—here are three fingers—a little finger, a second finger, and a middle finger.
You may suppose that they are seen quite close: And here comes the point.
What is it?
No difficulty in simple perception.
Each of them equally appears a finger, whether seen in the middle or at the extremity, whether white or black, or thick or thin—it makes no difference; a finger is a finger all the same. In these cases a man is not compelled to ask of thought the question what is a finger? for the sight never intimates to the mind that a finger is other than a finger.
And therefore, I said, as we might expect, there is nothing here which invites or excites intelligence.
There is not, he said.
But the same senses at the same time give different impressions which are at first indistinct and have to be distinguished by the mind.
But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the fingers? Can sight adequately perceive them? and is no difference made by the circumstance that one of the fingers is in the middle and another at the extremity? And in like manner does the touch adequately perceive the qualities of thickness or thinness, of softness or hardness? And so of the other senses; do they give perfect intimations of such 524matters? Is not their mode of operation on this wise—the sense which is concerned with the quality of hardness is necessarily concerned also with the quality of softness, and only intimates to the soul that the same thing is felt to be both hard and soft?
You are quite right, he said.
And must not the soul be perplexed at this intimation which the sense gives of a hard which is also soft? What, again, is the meaning of light and heavy, if that which is light is also heavy, and that which is heavy, light?
Yes, he said, these intimations which the soul receives are very curious and require to be explained.
The aid of numbers is invoked in order to remove the confusion.
Yes, I said, and in these perplexities the soul naturally summons to her aid calculation and intelligence, that she may see whether the several objects announced to her are one or two.
And if they turn out to be two, is not each of them one and different?
And if each is one, and both are two, she will conceive the two as in a state of division, for if they were undivided they could only be conceived of as one?
The eye certainly did see both small and great, but only in a confused manner; they were not distinguished.
The chaos then begins to be defined.
Whereas the thinking mind, intending to light up the chaos, was compelled to reverse the process, and look at small and great as separate and not confused.
Was not this the beginning of the enquiry ‘What is great?’ and ‘What is small?’
The parting of the visible and intelligible.
And thus arose the distinction of the visible and the intelligible.
This was what I meant when I spoke of impressions which invited the intellect, or the reverse—those which are simultaneous with opposite impressions, invite thought; those which are not simultaneous do not.
I understand, he said, and agree with you.
And to which class do unity and number belong?
I do not know, he replied.
Thought is aroused by the contradiction of the one and many.
Think a little and you will see that what has preceded will supply the answer; for if simple unity could be adequately perceived by the sight or by any other sense, then, as we were saying in the case of the finger, there would be nothing to attract towards being; but when there is some contradiction always present, and one is the reverse of one and involves the conception of plurality, then thought begins to be aroused within us, and the soul perplexed and wanting to arrive at a decision asks ‘What is absolute unity?’ This is 525the way in which the study of the one has a power of drawing and converting the mind to the contemplation of true being.
And surely, he said, this occurs notably in the case of one; for we see the same thing to be both one and infinite in multitude?
Yes, I said; and this being true of one must be equally true of all number?
And all arithmetic and calculation have to do with number?
And they appear to lead the mind towards truth?
Yes, in a very remarkable manner.
Arithmetic has a practical and also a philosophical use, the latter the higher.
Then this is knowledge of the kind for which we are seeking, having a double use, military and philosophical; for the man of war must learn the art of number or he will not know how to array his troops, and the philosopher also, because he has to rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being, and therefore he must be an arithmetician.
That is true.
And our guardian is both warrior and philosopher?
Then this is a kind of knowledge which legislation may fitly prescribe; and we must endeavour to persuade those who are to be the principal men of our State to go and learn arithmetic, not as amateurs, but they must carry on the study until they see the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, like merchants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but for the sake of their military use, and of the soul herself; and because this will be the easiest way for her to pass from becoming to truth and being.
That is excellent, he said.
Yes, I said, and now having spoken of it, I must add how charming the science is! and in how many ways it conduces to our desired end, if pursued in the spirit of a philosopher, and not of a shopkeeper!
How do you mean?
The higher arithmetic is concerned, not with visible or tangible objects, but with abstract numbers.
I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect, compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against the introduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument. You know how steadily the masters of the art repel and ridicule any one who attempts to divide absolute unity when he is calculating, and if you divide, they multiply1 , taking care that one shall continue one and not become lost in fractions.
That is very true.
526Now, suppose a person were to say to them: O my friends, what are these wonderful numbers about which you are reasoning, in which, as you say, there is a unity such as you demand, and each unit is equal, invariable, indivisible,—what would they answer?
They would answer, as I should conceive, that they were speaking of those numbers which can only be realized in thought.
Then you see that this knowledge may be truly called necessary, necessitating as it clearly does the use of the pure intelligence in the attainment of pure truth?
Yes; that is a marked characteristic of it.
The arithmetician is naturally quick, and the study of arithmetic gives him still greater quickness.
And have you further observed, that those who have a natural talent for calculation are generally quick at every other kind of knowledge; and even the dull, if they have had an arithmetical training, although they may derive no other advantage from it, always become much quicker than they would otherwise have been.
Very true, he said.
And indeed, you will not easily find a more difficult study, and not many as difficult.
You will not.
And, for all these reasons, arithmetic is a kind of knowledge in which the best natures should be trained, and which must not be given up.
Let this then be made one of our subjects of education. And next, shall we enquire whether the kindred science also concerns us?
You mean geometry?
Geometry has practical applications;
Clearly, he said, we are concerned with that part of geometry which relates to war; for in pitching a camp, or taking up a position, or closing or extending the lines of an army, or any other military manœuvre, whether in actual battle or on a march, it will make all the difference whether a general is or is not a geometrician.
these however are trifling in comparison with that greater part of the science which tends towards the good,
Yes, I said, but for that purpose a very little of either geometry or calculation will be enough; the question relates rather to the greater and more advanced part of geometry—whether that tends in any degree to make more easy the vision of the idea of good; and thither, as I was saying, all things tend which compel the soul to turn her gaze towards that place, where is the full perfection of being, which she ought, by all means, to behold.
True, he said.
Then if geometry compels us to view being, it concerns us; if becoming only, it does not concern us?
527Yes, that is what we assert.
Yet anybody who has the least acquaintance with geometry will not deny that such a conception of the science is in flat contradiction to the ordinary language of geometricians.
They have in view practice only, and are always speaking, in a narrow and ridiculous manner, of squaring and extending and applying and the like—they confuse the necessities of geometry with those of daily life; whereas knowledge is the real object of the whole science.
Certainly, he said.
Then must not a further admission be made?
and is concerned with the eternal.
That the knowledge at which geometry aims is knowledge of the eternal, and not of aught perishing and transient.
That, he replied, may be readily allowed, and is true.
Then, my noble friend, geometry will draw the soul towards truth, and create the spirit of philosophy, and raise up that which is now unhappily allowed to fall down.
Nothing will be more likely to have such an effect.
Then nothing should be more sternly laid down than that the inhabitants of your fair city should by all means learn geometry. Moreover the science has indirect effects, which are not small.
Of what kind? he said.
There are the military advantages of which you spoke, I said; and in all departments of knowledge, as experience proves, any one who has studied geometry is infinitely quicker of apprehension than one who has not.
Yes indeed, he said, there is an infinite difference between them.
Then shall we propose this as a second branch of knowledge which our youth will study?
Let us do so, he replied.
And suppose we make astronomy the third—what do you say?
Astronomy, like the previous sciences, is at first praised by Glaucon for its practical uses.
I am strongly inclined to it, he said; the observation of the seasons and of months and years is as essential to the general as it is to the farmer or sailor.
I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes you guard against the appearance of insisting upon useless studies; and I quite admit the difficulty of believing that in every man there is an eye of the soul which, when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined; and is more precious far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone is truth seen. Now there are two classes of persons: one class of those who will agree with you and will take your words as a revelation; another class 528to whom they will be utterly unmeaning, and who will naturally deem them to be idle tales, for they see no sort of profit which is to be obtained from them. And therefore you had better decide at once with which of the two you are proposing to argue. You will very likely say with neither, and that your chief aim in carrying on the argument is your own improvement; at the same time you do not grudge to others any benefit which they may receive.
I think that I should prefer to carry on the argument mainly on my own behalf.
Correction of the order.
Then take a step backward, for we have gone wrong in the order of the sciences.
What was the mistake? he said.
After plane geometry, I said, we proceeded at once to solids in revolution, instead of taking solids in themselves; whereas after the second dimension the third, which is concerned with cubes and dimensions of depth, ought to have followed.
That is true, Socrates; but so little seems to be known as yet about these subjects.
The pitiable condition of solid geometry.
Why, yes, I said, and for two reasons:—in the first place, no government patronises them; this leads to a want of energy in the pursuit of them, and they are difficult; in the second place, students cannot learn them unless they have a director. But then a director can hardly be found, and even if he could, as matters now stand, the students, who are very conceited, would not attend to him. That, however, would be otherwise if the whole State became the director of these studies and gave honour to them; then disciples would want to come, and there would be continuous and earnest search, and discoveries would be made; since even now, disregarded as they are by the world, and maimed of their fair proportions, and although none of their votaries can tell the use of them, still these studies force their way by their natural charm, and very likely, if they had the help of the State, they would some day emerge into light.
Yes, he said, there is a remarkable charm in them. But I do not clearly understand the change in the order. First you began with a geometry of plane surfaces?
Yes, I said.
And you placed astronomy next, and then you made a step backward?
The motion of solids.
Yes, and I have delayed you by my hurry; the ludicrous state of solid geometry, which, in natural order, should have followed, made me pass over this branch and go on to astronomy, or motion of solids.
True, he said.
Then assuming that the science now omitted would come into existence if encouraged by the State, let us go on to astronomy, which will be fourth.
Glaucon grows sentimental about astronomy.
The right order, he replied. And now, Socrates, as you rebuked the vulgar manner in which I praised astronomy 529before, my praise shall be given in your own spirit. For every one, as I think, must see that astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.
Every one but myself, I said; to every one else this may be clear, but not to me.
And what then would you say?
I should rather say that those who elevate astronomy into philosophy appear to me to make us look downwards and not upwards.
What do you mean? he asked.
He is rebuked by Socrates,
You, I replied, have in your mind a truly sublime conception of our knowledge of the things above. And I dare say that if a person were to throw his head back and study the fretted ceiling, you would still think that his mind was the percipient, and not his eyes. And you are very likely right, and I may be a simpleton: but, in my opinion, that knowledge only which is of being and of the unseen can make the soul look upwards, and whether a man gapes at the heavens or blinks on the ground, seeking to learn some particular of sense, I would deny that he can learn, for nothing of that sort is matter of science; his soul is looking downwards, not upwards, whether his way to knowledge is by water or by land, whether he floats, or only lies on his back.
who explains that the higher astronomy is an abstract science.
I acknowledge, he said, the justice of your rebuke. Still, I should like to ascertain how astronomy can be learned in any manner more conducive to that knowledge of which we are speaking?
I will tell you, I said: The starry heaven which we behold is wrought upon a visible ground, and therefore, although the fairest and most perfect of visible things, must necessarily be deemed inferior far to the true motions of absolute swiftness and absolute slowness, which are relative to each other, and carry with them that which is contained in them, in the true number and in every true figure. Now, these are to be apprehended by reason and intelligence, but not by sight.
True, he replied.
The spangled heavens should be used as a pattern and with a view to that higher knowledge; their beauty is like the beauty of figures or pictures excellently wrought by the hand of Daedalus, or some other great artist, which we may chance to behold; any geometrician who saw them would appreciate the exquisiteness of their workmanship, but he would never dream of thinking that in them he could find the true equal or the true double, or the truth of any 530other proportion.
No, he replied, such an idea would be ridiculous.
And will not a true astronomer have the same feeling when he looks at the movements of the stars? Will he not think that heaven and the things in heaven are framed by the Creator of them in the most perfect manner? But he will never imagine that the proportions of night and day, or of both to the month, or of the month to the year, or of the stars to these and to one another, and any other things that are material and visible can also be eternal and subject to no deviation—that would be absurd; and it is equally absurd to take so much pains in investigating their exact truth.
I quite agree, though I never thought of this before.
The real knowledge of astronomy or geometry is to be attained by the use of abstractions.
Then, I said, in astronomy, as in geometry, we should employ problems, and let the heavens alone if we would approach the subject in the right way and so make the natural gift of reason to be of any real use.
That, he said, is a work infinitely beyond our present astronomers.
Yes, I said; and there are many other things which must also have a similar extension given to them, if our legislation is to be of any value. But can you tell me of any other suitable study?
No, he said, not without thinking.
Motion, I said, has many forms, and not one only; two of them are obvious enough even to wits no better than ours; and there are others, as I imagine, which may be left to wiser persons.
But where are the two?
There is a second, I said, which is the counterpart of the one already named.
And what may that be?
What astronomy is to the eye, harmonics are to the ear.
The second, I said, would seem relatively to the ears to be what the first is to the eyes; for I conceive that as the eyes are designed to look up at the stars, so are the ears to hear harmonious motions; and these are sister sciences—as the Pythagoreans say, and we, Glaucon, agree with them?
Yes, he replied.
But this, I said, is a laborious study, and therefore we had better go and learn of them; and they will tell us whether there are any other applications of these sciences. At the same time, we must not lose sight of our own higher object.
What is that?
They must be studied with a view to the good and not after the fashion of the empirics or even of the Pythagoreans.
There is a perfection which all knowledge ought to reach, and which our pupils ought also to attain, and not to fall short of, as I was saying that they did in astronomy. For 531in the science of harmony, as you probably know, the same thing happens. The teachers of harmony compare the sounds and consonances which are heard only, and their labour, like that of the astronomers, is in vain.
Yes, by heaven! he said; and ’tis as good as a play to hear them talking about their condensed notes, as they call them; they put their ears close alongside of the strings like persons catching a sound from their neighbour’s wall1 —one set of them declaring that they distinguish an intermediate note and have found the least interval which should be the unit of measurement; the others insisting that the two sounds have passed into the same—either party setting their ears before their understanding.
You mean, I said, those gentlemen who tease and torture the strings and rack them on the pegs of the instrument: I might carry on the metaphor and speak after their manner of the blows which the plectrum gives, and make accusations against the strings, both of backwardness and forwardness to sound; but this would be tedious, and therefore I will only say that these are not the men, and that I am referring to the Pythagoreans, of whom I was just now proposing to enquire about harmony. For they too are in error, like the astronomers; they investigate the numbers of the harmonies which are heard, but they never attain to problems—that is to say, they never reach the natural harmonies of number, or reflect why some numbers are harmonious and others not.
That, he said, is a thing of more than mortal knowledge.
A thing, I replied, which I would rather call useful; that is, if sought after with a view to the beautiful and good; but if pursued in any other spirit, useless.
Very true, he said.
All these studies must be correlated with one another.
Now, when all these studies reach the point of intercommunion and connection with one another, and come to be considered in their mutual affinities, then, I think, but not till then, will the pursuit of them have a value for our objects; otherwise there is no profit in them.
I suspect so; but you are speaking, Socrates, of a vast work.
What do you mean? I said; the prelude or what? Do you not know that all this is but the prelude to the actual strain which we have to learn? For you surely would not regard the skilled mathematician as a dialectician?
Want of reasoning power in mathematicians.
Assuredly not, he said; I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.
But do you imagine that men who are unable to give 532and take a reason will have the knowledge which we require of them?
Neither can this be supposed.
Dialectic proceeds by reason only, without any help of sense.
And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic. This is that strain which is of the intellect only, but which the faculty of sight will nevertheless be found to imitate; for sight, as you may remember, was imagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last of all the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible.
Exactly, he said.
Then this is the progress which you call dialectic?
The gradual acquirement of dialectic by the pursuit of the arts anticipated in the allegory of the den.
But the release of the prisoners from chains, and their translation from the shadows to the images and to the light, and the ascent from the underground den to the sun, while in his presence they are vainly trying to look on animals and plants and the light of the sun, but are able to perceive even with their weak eyes the images1 in the water [which are divine], and are the shadows of true existence (not shadows of images cast by a light of fire, which compared with the sun is only an image)—this power of elevating the highest principle in the soul to the contemplation of that which is best in existence, with which we may compare the raising of that faculty which is the very light of the body to the sight of that which is brightest in the material and visible world—this power is given, as I was saying, by all that study and pursuit of the arts which has been described.
I agree in what you are saying, he replied, which may be hard to believe, yet, from another point of view, is harder still to deny. This however is not a theme to be treated of in passing only, but will have to be discussed again and again. And so, whether our conclusion be true or false, let us assume all this, and proceed at once from the prelude or preamble to the chief strain1 , and describe that in like manner. Say, then, what is the nature and what are the divisions of dialectic, and what are the paths which lead thither; for these paths will also lead to our final rest.
The nature of dialectic can only be revealed to those who have been students of the preliminary sciences,
533Dear Glaucon, I said, you will not be able to follow me here, though I would do my best, and you should behold not an image only but the absolute truth, according to my notion. Whether what I told you would or would not have been a reality I cannot venture to say; but you would have seen something like reality; of that I am confident.
Doubtless, he replied.
But I must also remind you, that the power of dialectic alone can reveal this, and only to one who is a disciple of the previous sciences.
Of that assertion you may be as confident as of the last.
And assuredly no one will argue that there is any other method of comprehending by any regular process all true existence or of ascertaining what each thing is in its own nature; for the arts in general are concerned with the desires or opinions of men, or are cultivated with a view to production and construction, or for the preservation of such productions and constructions; and as to the mathematical sciences which, as we were saying, have some apprehension of true being—geometry and the like—they only dream about being, but never can they behold the waking reality so long as they leave the hypotheses which they use unexamined, and are unable to give an account of them. For when a man knows not his own first principle, and when the conclusion and intermediate steps are also constructed out of he knows not what, how can he imagine that such a fabric of convention can ever become science?
Impossible, he said.
which are her handmaids.
Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is by her gentle aid lifted upwards; and she uses as handmaids and helpers in the work of conversion, the sciences which we have been discussing. Custom terms them sciences, but they ought to have some other name, implying greater clearness than opinion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous sketch, was called understanding. But why should we dispute about names when we have realities of such importance to consider?
Why indeed, he said, when any name will do which expresses the thought of the mind with clearness?
Two divisions of the mind, intellect and opinion, each having two subdivisions.
At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions; two for intellect and two for opinion, and to call the first division science, the second understanding, the third belief, and the fourth perception of shadows, opinion 534being concerned with becoming, and intellect with being; and so to make a proportion:—
As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion.
And as intellect is to opinion, so is science to belief, and understanding to the perception of shadows.
But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the subjects of opinion and of intellect, for it will be a long enquiry, many times longer than this has been.
As far as I understand, he said, I agree.
And do you also agree, I said, in describing the dialectician as one who attains a conception of the essence of each thing? And he who does not possess and is therefore unable to impart this conception, in whatever degree he fails, may in that degree also be said to fail in intelligence? Will you admit so much?
Yes, he said; how can I deny it?
No truth which does not rest on the idea of good
And you would say the same of the conception of the good? Until the person is able to abstract and define rationally the idea of good, and unless he can run the gauntlet of all objections, and is ready to disprove them, not by appeals to opinion, but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step of the argument—unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows neither the idea of good nor any other good; he apprehends only a shadow, if anything at all, which is given by opinion and not by science;—dreaming and slumbering in this life, before he is well awake here, he arrives at the world below, and has his final quietus.
In all that I should most certainly agree with you.
And surely you would not have the children of your ideal State, whom you are nurturing and educating—if the ideal ever becomes a reality—you would not allow the future rulers to be like posts1 , having no reason in them, and yet to be set in authority over the highest matters?
Then you will make a law that they shall have such an education as will enable them to attain the greatest skill in asking and answering questions?
Yes, he said, you and I together will make it.
ought to have a high place.
Dialectic, then, as you will agree, is the coping-stone of the sciences, and is set over them; no other science can be placed higher—the nature of knowledge can no further go?
I agree, he said.
535But to whom we are to assign these studies, and in what way they are to be assigned, are questions which remain to be considered.
You remember, I said, how the rulers were chosen before?
Certainly, he said.
The natural gifts which are required in the dialectician: a towardly understanding; a good memory;
The same natures must still be chosen, and the preference again given to the surest and the bravest, and, if possible, to the fairest; and, having noble and generous tempers, they should also have the natural gifts which will facilitate their education.
And what are these?
Such gifts as keenness and ready powers of acquisition; for the mind more often faints from the severity of study than from the severity of gymnastics: the toil is more entirely the mind’s own, and is not shared with the body.
Very true, he replied.
strength of character;
Further, he of whom we are in search should have a good memory, and be an unwearied solid man who is a lover of labour in any line; or he will never be able to endure the great amount of bodily exercise and to go through all the intellectual discipline and study which we require of him.
Certainly, he said; he must have natural gifts.
The mistake at present is, that those who study philosophy have no vocation, and this, as I was before saying, is the reason why she has fallen into disrepute: her true sons should take her by the hand and not bastards.
What do you mean?
In the first place, her votary should not have a lame or halting industry—I mean, that he should not be half industrious and half idle: as, for example, when a man is a lover of gymnastic and hunting, and all other bodily exercises, but a hater rather than a lover of the labour of learning or listening or enquiring. Or the occupation to which he devotes himself may be of an opposite kind, and he may have the other sort of lameness.
Certainly, he said.
love of truth;
And as to truth, I said, is not a soul equally to be deemed halt and lame which hates voluntary falsehood and is extremely indignant at herself and others when they tell lies, but is patient of involuntary falsehood, and does not mind wallowing like a swinish beast in the mire of ignorance, and has no shame at being detected?
To be sure.
the moral virtues.
536And, again, in respect of temperance, courage, magnificence, and every other virtue, should we not carefully distinguish between the true son and the bastard? for where there is no discernment of such qualities states and individuals unconsciously err; and the state makes a ruler, and the individual a friend, of one who, being defective in some part of virtue, is in a figure lame or a bastard.
That is very true, he said.
All these things, then, will have to be carefully considered by us; and if only those whom we introduce to this vast system of education and training are sound in body and mind, justice herself will have nothing to say against us, and we shall be the saviours of the constitution and of the State; but, if our pupils are men of another stamp, the reverse will happen, and we shall pour a still greater flood of ridicule on philosophy than she has to endure at present.
That would not be creditable.
Socrates plays a little with himself and his subject.
Certainly not, I said; and yet perhaps, in thus turning jest into earnest I am equally ridiculous.
In what respect?
I had forgotten, I said, that we were not serious, and spoke with too much excitement. For when I saw philosophy so undeservedly trampled under foot of men I could not help feeling a sort of indignation at the authors of her disgrace: and my anger made me too vehement.
For the study of dialectic the young must be selected.
Indeed! I was listening, and did not think so.
But I, who am the speaker, felt that I was. And now let me remind you that, although in our former selection we chose old men, we must not do so in this. Solon was under a delusion when he said that a man when he grows old may learn many things—for he can no more learn much than he can run much; youth is the time for any extraordinary toil.
The preliminary studies should be commenced in childhood, but never forced.
And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic, should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however, under any notion of forcing our system of education.
Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Then, my good friend, I said, do not use compulsion, but 537let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to find out the natural bent.
That is a very rational notion, he said.
Do you remember that the children, too, were to be taken to see the battle on horseback; and that if there were no danger they were to be brought close up and, like young hounds, have a taste of blood given them?
Yes, I remember.
The same practice may be followed, I said, in all these things—labours, lessons, dangers—and he who is most at home in all of them ought to be enrolled in a select number.
At what age?
The necessary gymnastics must be completed first.
At the age when the necessary gymnastics are over: the period whether of two or three years which passes in this sort of training is useless for any other purpose; for sleep and exercise are unpropitious to learning; and the trial of who is first in gymnastic exercises is one of the most important tests to which our youth are subjected.
Certainly, he replied.
At twenty years of age the disciples will begin to be taught the correlation of the sciences.
After that time those who are selected from the class of twenty years old will be promoted to higher honour, and the sciences which they learned without any order in their early education will now be brought together, and they will be able to see the natural relationship of them to one another and to true being.
Yes, he said, that is the only kind of knowledge which takes lasting root.
Yes, I said; and the capacity for such knowledge is the great criterion of dialectical talent: the comprehensive mind is always the dialectical.
I agree with you, he said.
At thirty the most promising will be placed in a select class.
These, I said, are the points which you must consider; and those who have most of this comprehension, and who are most steadfast in their learning, and in their military and other appointed duties, when they have arrived at the age of thirty will have to be chosen by you out of the select class, and elevated to higher honour; and you will have to prove them by the help of dialectic, in order to learn which of them is able to give up the use of sight and the other senses, and in company with truth to attain absolute being: And here, my friend, great caution is required.
The growth of scepticism
Why great caution?
Do you not remark, I said, how great is the evil which dialectic has introduced?
What evil? he said.
The students of the art are filled with lawlessness.
Quite true, he said.
Do you think that there is anything so very unnatural or inexcusable in their case? or will you make allowance for them?
In what way make allowance?
in the minds of the young illustrated by the case of a supposititious son,
I want you, I said, by way of parallel, to imagine a supposititious son who is brought up in great wealth; he 538is one of a great and numerous family, and has many flatterers. When he grows up to manhood, he learns that his alleged are not his real parents; but who the real are he is unable to discover. Can you guess how he will be likely to behave towards his flatterers and his supposed parents, first of all during the period when he is ignorant of the false relation, and then again when he knows? Or shall I guess for you?
If you please.
who ceases to honour his father when he discovers that he is not his father.
Then I should say, that while he is ignorant of the truth he will be likely to honour his father and his mother and his supposed relations more than the flatterers; he will be less inclined to neglect them when in need, or to do or say anything against them; and he will be less willing to disobey them in any important matter.
But when he has made the discovery, I should imagine that he would diminish his honour and regard for them, and would become more devoted to the flatterers; their influence over him would greatly increase; he would now live after their ways, and openly associate with them, and, unless he were of an unusually good disposition, he would trouble himself no more about his supposed parents or other relations.
Well, all that is very probable. But how is the image applicable to the disciples of philosophy?
In this way: you know that there are certain principles about justice and honour, which were taught us in childhood, and under their parental authority we have been brought up, obeying and honouring them.
That is true.
There are also opposite maxims and habits of pleasure which flatter and attract the soul, but do not influence those of us who have any sense of right, and they continue to obey and honour the maxims of their fathers.
So men who begin to analyse the first principles of morality cease to respect them.
Now, when a man is in this state, and the questioning spirit asks what is fair or honourable, and he answers as the legislator has taught him, and then arguments many and diverse refute his words, until he is driven into believing that nothing is honourable any more than dishonourable, or just and good any more than the reverse, and so of all the notions which he most valued, do you think that he will still honour and obey them as before?
And when he ceases to think them honourable and natural 539as heretofore, and he fails to discover the true, can he be expected to pursue any life other than that which flatters his desires?
And from being a keeper of the law he is converted into a breaker of it?
Now all this is very natural in students of philosophy such as I have described, and also, as I was just now saying, most excusable.
Yes, he said; and, I may add, pitiable.
Therefore, that your feelings may not be moved to pity about our citizens who are now thirty years of age, every care must be taken in introducing them to dialectic.
Young men are fond of pulling truth to pieces and thus bring disgrace upon themselves and upon philosophy.
There is a danger lest they should taste the dear delight too early; for youngsters, as you may have observed, when they first get the taste in their mouths, argue for amusement, and are always contradicting and refuting others in imitation of those who refute them; like puppy-dogs, they rejoice in pulling and tearing at all who come near them.
Yes, he said, there is nothing which they like better.
And when they have made many conquests and received defeats at the hands of many, they violently and speedily get into a way of not believing anything which they believed before, and hence, not only they, but philosophy and all that relates to it is apt to have a bad name with the rest of the world.
Too true, he said.
The dialectician and the eristic.
But when a man begins to get older, he will no longer be guilty of such insanity; he will imitate the dialectician who is seeking for truth, and not the eristic, who is contradicting for the sake of amusement; and the greater moderation of his character will increase instead of diminishing the honour of the pursuit.
Very true, he said.
And did we not make special provision for this, when we said that the disciples of philosophy were to be orderly and steadfast, not, as now, any chance aspirant or intruder?
Suppose, I said, the study of philosophy to take the place of gymnastics and to be continued diligently and earnestly and exclusively for twice the number of years which were passed in bodily exercise—will that be enough?
The study of philosophy to continue for five years; 30-35.
Would you say six or four years? he asked.
Say five years, I replied; at the end of the time they must be sent down again into the den and compelled to hold any military or other office which young men are qualified to hold: in this way they will get their experience of life, and there will be an opportunity of trying whether, when they are drawn all manner of ways by temptation, they will stand firm or flinch.
540And how long is this stage of their lives to last?
During fifteen years, 35-50, they are to hold office.At the end of that time they are to live chiefly in the contemplation of the good, but occasionally to return to politics.
Fifteen years, I answered; and when they have reached fifty years of age, then let those who still survive and have distinguished themselves in every action of their lives and in every branch of knowledge come at last to their consummation: the time has now arrived at which they must raise the eye of the soul to the universal light which lightens all things, and behold the absolute good; for that is the pattern according to which they are to order the State and the lives of individuals, and the remainder of their own lives also; making philosophy their chief pursuit, but, when their turn comes, toiling also at politics and ruling for the public good, not as though they were performing some heroic action, but simply as a matter of duty; and when they have brought up in each generation others like themselves and left them in their place to be governors of the State, then they will depart to the Islands of the Blest and dwell there; and the city will give them public memorials and sacrifices and honour them, if the Pythian oracle consent, as demigods, but if not, as in any case blessed and divine.
You are a sculptor, Socrates, and have made statues of our governors faultless in beauty.
Yes, I said, Glaucon, and of our governesses too; for you must not suppose that what I have been saying applies to men only and not to women as far as their natures can go.
There you are right, he said, since we have made them to share in all things like the men.
Well, I said, and you would agree (would you not?) that what has been said about the State and the government is not a mere dream, and although difficult not impossible, but only possible in the way which has been supposed; that is to say, when the true philosopher kings are born in a State, one or more of them, despising the honours of this present world which they deem mean and worthless, esteeming above all things right and the honour that springs from right, and regarding justice as the greatest and most necessary of all things, whose ministers they are, and whose principles will be exalted by them when they set in order their own city?
How will they proceed?
Practical measures for the speedy foundation of the State.
They will begin by sending out into the country all the inhabitants of the city who are more than ten years old, and will take possession of their children, who will be unaffected by the habits of their parents; these they will train in their own habits and laws, I mean in the laws which we have given them: and in this way the State and constitution of which we were speaking will soonest and most easily attain happiness, and the nation which has such a constitution will gain most.
Yes, that will be the best way. And I think, Socrates, that you have very well described how, if ever, such a constitution might come into being.
Enough then of the perfect State, and of the man who bears its image—there is no difficulty in seeing how we shall describe him.
There is no difficulty, he replied; and I agree with you in thinking that nothing more need be said.
[1 ]Reading παρόντα.
[1 ]In allusion to a game in which two parties fled or pursued according as an oyster-shell which was thrown into the air fell with the dark or light side uppermost.
[2 ]Reading οὐ̑σαν ἐπάνοδον.
[1 ]Meaning either (1) that they integrate the number because they deny the possibility of fractions; or (2) that division is regarded by them as a process of multiplication, for the fractions of one continue to be units.
[1 ]Or, ‘close alongside of their neighbour’s instruments, as if to catch a sound from them.’
[1 ]Omitting ἐνταν̂θα δὲ πρὸς ϕαντάσματα. The word θεɩ̂α is bracketed by Stallbaum.
[1 ]A play upon the word νόμος, which means both ‘law’ and ‘strain.’
[1 ]γραμμάς, literally ‘lines,’ probably the starting-point of a race-course.