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[360a] to those who sat by him and they spoke of him as absent and that he was amazed, and again fumbling with the ring turned the collet outwards and so became visible. On noting this he experimented with the ring to see if it possessed this virtue, and he found the result to be that when he turned the collet inwards he became invisible, and when outwards visible; and becoming aware of this, he immediately managed things so that he became one of the messengers [360b] who went up to the king, and on coming there he seduced the king's wife and with her aid set upon the king and slew him and possessed his kingdom. If now there should be two such rings, and the just man should put on one and the unjust the other, no one could be found, it would seem, of such adamantine1 temper as to persevere in justice and endure to refrain his hands from the possessions of others and not touch them, though he might with impunity take what he wished even from the marketplace, [360c] and enter into houses and lie with whom he pleased, and slay and loose from bonds whomsoever he would, and in all other things conduct himself among mankind as the equal of a god.2 And in so acting he would do no differently from the other man, but both would pursue the same course. And yet this is a great proof, one might argue, that no one is just of his own will but only from constraint, in the belief that justice is not his personal good, inasmuch as every man, when he supposes himself to have the power to do wrong, does wrong. [360d] For that there is far more profit for him personally in injustice than in justice is what every man believes, and believes truly, as the proponent of this theory will maintain. For if anyone who had got such a licence within his grasp should refuse to do any wrong or lay his hands on others' possessions, he would be regarded as most pitiable3 and a great fool by all who took note of it,4 though they would praise him5 before one another's faces, deceiving one another because of their fear of suffering injustice. So much for this point. [360e]

“But to come now to the decision6 between our two kinds of life, if we separate the most completely just and the most completely unjust man, we shall be able to decide rightly, but if not, not. How, then, is this separation to be made? Thus: we must subtract nothing of his injustice from the unjust man or of his justice from the just, but assume the perfection of each in his own mode of conduct. In the first place, the unjust man must act as clever craftsmen do: a first-rate pilot or physician, for example, feels the difference between impossibilities7 and possibilities in his art

1 The word is used of the firmness of moral faith in Gorgias 509 A and Republic 618 E.

2 ἰσόθεος. The word is a leit-motif anticipating Plato's rebuke of the tragedians for their praises of the tyraant. Cf. 568 A-B. It does not, as Adam suggests, foreshadow Plato's attack on the popular theology.

3 Cf. 344 A, Gorgias 492 B.

4 αἰσθανομένοις suggests men of discernment who are not taken in by phrases, “the knowing ones.” Cf. Protagoras 317 A, and Aristophanes Clouds 1241τοῖς εἰδόσιν.

5 Cf. Gorgias 483 B, 492 A, Protagoras 327 B, Aristotle Rhet. ii. 23.

6 Cf. 580 B-C, Philebus 27 C.

7 Cf. Quint. iv. 5. 17 “recte enim Graeci praecipiunt non tentanda quae effici omnino non possint.”

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