previous next
[906a] or to farmers fearfully awaiting seasons of wonted difficulty for the generation of plants, or else to masters of flocks. For seeing that we have agreed1 among ourselves that the heaven is full of many things that are good, and of the opposite kind also, and that those not good are the more numerous, such a battle, we affirm, is undying, and needs a wondrous watchfulness,—the gods and daemons being our allies, and we the possession2 of the gods and daemons; and what destroys us is iniquity and insolence combined with folly, [906b] what saves us, justice and temperance combined with wisdom, which dwell in the animate powers of the gods, and of which some small trace may be clearly seen here also residing in us. But there are certain souls that dwell on earth and have acquired unjust gain which, being plainly bestial, beseech the souls of the guardians—whether they be watch-dogs or herdsmen or the most exalted of masters—trying to convince them by fawning words [906c] and prayerful incantations that (as the tales of evil men relate) they can profiteer among men on earth without any severe penalty: but we assert that the sin now mentioned, of profiteering or “over-gaining,” is what is called in the case of fleshly bodies “disease,”3 in that of seasons and years “pestilence,” and in that of States and polities, by a verbal change, this same sin is called “injustice.”


Such must necessarily be the account of the matter given by the man who says that the gods are always merciful to unjust men [906d] and those who act unjustly, provided that one gives them a share of one's unjust gains; it is just as if wolves were to give small bits of their prey to watch-dogs, and they being mollified by the gifts were to allow them to go ravening among the flocks. Is not this the account given by the man who asserts that the gods are open to bribes?

It is.

To which of the guardians aforementioned might a man liken the gods without incurring ridicule? Is it to pilots, [906e] who, when warped themselves by wine's “flow and flavor,”4 overturn both ships and sailors?

By no means.

And surely not to drivers ranged up for a race and seduced by a gift to lose it in favor of other teams?

If that was the account you gave of them, it would indeed be a horrible comparison.

Nor, surely, to generals or physicians or farmers or herdsmen; nor yet to dogs charmed by wolves?

Hush! That is quite impossible.

1 Cp. Plat. Laws 904a ff., Plat. Laws 896c ff., Plat. Rep. 379c.

2 Cp.Plat. Phaedo 62b.

3 Cp.Plat. Rep. 609 ff, Plat. Sym. 188a ff., where the theory is stated that health depends upon the “harmony,” or equal balance, of the constituent elements of the body (“heat” and “cold,” “moisture” and “dryness,”); when any of these (opposite) elements is in excess (πλεονεκτεῖ), disease sets in. So, too, in the “body politic,” the excess of due measure by any element, or member, is injustice.

4 Hom. Il. 9.500 (quoted above, p. 371, n. 1).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: