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[627a] and partly inferior, are we to affirm that the same condition of things exists in house and village and State, or are we to deny it?

Do you mean the condition of being partly self-superior and partly self-inferior?


That, too, is a proper question; for such a condition does most certainly exist, and in States above all. Every State in which the better class is victorious over the populace and the lower classes would rightly be termed “self-superior,” and would be praised most justly for a victory of this kind; and conversely, when the reverse is the case. [627b]

Well then, leaving aside the question as to whether the worse element is ever superior to the better (a question which would demand a more lengthy discussion), what you assert, as I now perceive, is this,—that sometimes citizens of one stock and of one State who are unjust and numerous may combine together and try to enslave by force those who are just but fewer in number, and wherever they prevail such a State would rightly be termed “self-inferior” and bad, but “self-superior” and good wherever they are worsted. [627c]

This statement is indeed most extraordinary, Stranger; none the less we cannot possibly reject it.

Stay a moment: here too is a case we must further consider. Suppose there were a number of brothers, all sons of the same parents, it would not be at all surprising if most of them were unjust and but few just.

It would not.

And, moreover, it would ill beseem you and me to go a-chasing after this form of expression, that if the bad ones conquered the whole of this family and house should be called “self-inferior,” [627d] but “self-superior” if they were defeated; for our present reference to the usage of ordinary speech is not concerned with the propriety or impropriety of verbal phrases but with the essential rightness or wrongness of laws.

Very true, Stranger.

And finely spoken, too, up to this point, as I agree.

Let us also look at this point: the brothers we have just described would have, I suppose, a judge?


Which of the two would be the better—a judge who destroyed [627e] all the wicked among them and charged the good to govern themselves, or one who made the good members govern and, while allowing the bad to live, made them submit willingly to be governed? And there is a third judge we must mention (third and best in point of merit),—if indeed such a judge can be found,—

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