previous next
[361a] and attempts the one and lets the others go; and then, too, if he does happen to trip, he is equal to correcting his error. Similarly, the unjust man who attempts injustice rightly must be supposed to escape detection if he is to be altogether unjust, and we must regard the man who is caught as a bungler.1 For the height of injustice2 is to seem just without being so. To the perfectly unjust man, then, we must assign perfect injustice and withhold nothing of it, but we must allow him, while committing the greatest wrongs, to have secured for himself the greatest reputation for justice; [361b] and if he does happen to trip,3 we must concede to him the power to correct his mistakes by his ability to speak persuasively if any of his misdeeds come to light, and when force is needed, to employ force by reason of his manly spirit and vigor and his provision of friends and money; and when we have set up an unjust man of this character, our theory must set the just man at his side—a simple and noble man, who, in the phrase of Aeschylus, does not wish to seem but be good. Then we must deprive him of the seeming.4 For if he is going to be thought just [361c] he will have honors and gifts because of that esteem. We cannot be sure in that case whether he is just for justice' sake or for the sake of the gifts and the honors. So we must strip him bare of everything but justice and make his state the opposite of his imagined counterpart.5 Though doing no wrong he must have the repute of the greatest injustice, so that he may be put to the test as regards justice through not softening because of ill repute and the consequences thereof. But let him hold on his course unchangeable even unto death, [361d] seeming all his life to be unjust though being just, that so, both men attaining to the limit, the one of injustice, the other of justice, we may pass judgement which of the two is the happier.”

“Bless me, my dear Glaucon,” said I, “how strenuously you polish off each of your two men for the competition for the prize as if it were a statue.6” “To the best of my ability,” he replied, “and if such is the nature of the two, it becomes an easy matter, I fancy, to unfold the tale of the sort of life that awaits each. [361e] We must tell it, then; and even if my language is somewhat rude and brutal,7 you must not suppose, Socrates, that it is I who speak thus, but those who commend injustice above justice. What they will say is this: that such being his disposition the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains,

1 Cf. Emerson, Eloquence: “Yet any swindlers we have known are novices and bunglers. . . . A greater power of face would accomplish anything and with the rest of the takings take away the bad name.”

2 Cf, Cicero De offic. i. 13.

3 Cf. Thucydides vii. 24 on the miscalculation of the shrewd Chians.

4 As Aristotle sententiously says,ὅρος δὲ τοῦ πρὸς δόξαν λανθάνειν μέλλων οὐκ ἂν ἕλοιτοRhet. 1365 b 1, Topics iii. 3. 14).

5 For the thought cf. Euripides Helen 270-271.

6 Cf. 540 C.

7 Cf. 613 E, Gorgias 486 C, 509 A, Apology 32 D. The Greeks were sensitive to rude or boastful speech.

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1365 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: