previous next
[358a] “In my opinion,” I said, “it belongs in the fairest class, that which a man who is to be happy must love both for its own sake and for the results.” “Yet the multitude,” he said, “do not think so, but that it belongs to the toilsome class of things that must be practised for the sake of rewards and repute due to opinion but that in itself is to be shunned as an affliction.”

“I am aware,” said I, “that that is the general opinion and Thrasymachus has for some time been disparaging it as such and praising injustice. But I, it seems, am somewhat slow to learn.” “Come now,” [358b] he said, “hear what I too have to say and see if you agree with me. For Thrasymachus seems to me to have given up to you too soon, as if he were a serpent1 that you had charmed, but I am not yet satisfied with the proof that has been offered about justice and injustice. For what I desire is to hear what each of them is and what potency and effect it has in and of itself dwelling in the soul,2 but to dismiss their rewards and consequences. This, then, is what I propose to do, with your concurrence. I will renew [358c] the argument of Thrasymachus and will first state what men say is the nature and origin of justice; secondly, that all who practise it do so reluctantly, regarding it as something necessary3 and not as a good; and thirdly, that they have plausible grounds for thus acting, since forsooth the life of the unjust man is far better than that of the just man—as they say; though I, Socrates, don't believe it. Yet I am disconcerted when my ears are dinned by the arguments of Thrasymachus and innumerable others.4 But the case for justice, [358d] to prove that it is better than injustice, I have never yet heard stated by any as I desire to hear it. What I desire is to hear an encomium on justice in and by itself. And I think I am most likely to get that from you. For which reason I will lay myself out in praise of the life of injustice, and in so speaking will give you an example of the manner in which I desire to hear from you in turn the dispraise of injustice and the praise of justice. Consider whether my proposal pleases you.” “Nothing could please me more,” said I; [358e] “for on what subject would a man of sense rather delight to hold and hear discourse again and again?” “That is excellent,” he said; “and now listen to what I said would be the first topic—the nature and origin of justice. By nature,5 they say, to commit injustice is a good and to suffer it is an evil, but that the excess of evil in being wronged is greater than the excess of good in doing wrong. So that when men do wrong and are wronged by one another and taste of both, those who lack the power

1 For Plato's fondness for the idea of κηλεῖν Cf. The Unity of Plato's Thought, note 500.

2 Cf. 366 E.

3 Cf. 347 C-D.

4 Cf. Philebus 66 E. Plato affirms that the immoralism of Thrasymachus and Callicles was widespread in Greece. Cf. Introduction x-xi, and Gorgias 511 B, Protagoras 333 C, Euthydemus 279 B, and my paper on the interpretation of the Timaeus, A.J.P. vol. ix. pp. 403-404.

5 Glaucon employs the antithesis between nature and law and the theory of an original social contract to expound the doctrine of Thrasymachus and Callicles in the Gorgias. His statement is more systematic than theirs, but the principle is the same; for, though Callicles does not explicitly speak of a social contract, he implies that conventional justice is an agreement of the weak devised to hold the strong in awe. (Gorgias 492 C), and Glaucon here affirms that no relally strong man would enter into any such agreement. The social contract without the immoral application is also suggested in Protagoras 322 B. Cf. also Crito 50 C, f.

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 Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Greece (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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