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[414a] and issues from it unspoiled we must establish as ruler over our city and its guardian, and bestow rewards upon him in life, and in death the allotment of the supreme honors of burial-rites and other memorials. But the man of the other type we must reject. Such,” said I, “appears to me, Glaucon, the general notion of our selection and appointment of rulers and guardians as sketched in outline, but not drawn out in detail.” “I too,” he said, “think much the same.” “Then would it not truly [414b] be most proper to designate these as guardians in the full sense of the word, watchers against foemen without and friends within, so that the latter shall not wish and the former shall not be able to work harm, but to name those youths whom we were calling guardians just now, helpers and aids for the decrees of the rulers?” “I think so,” he replied.

“How, then,” said I, “might we contrive1 one of those opportune falsehoods2 of which we were just now3 speaking, [414c] so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city?” “What kind of a fiction do you mean?” said he. “Nothing unprecedented,” said I, “but a sort of Phoenician tale,4 something that has happened ere now in many parts of the world, as the poets aver and have induced men to believe, but that has not happened and perhaps would not be likely to happen in our day5 and demanding no little persuasion to make it believable.” “You act like one who shrinks from telling his thought,” he said. “You will think that I have right good reason6 for shrinking when I have told,” I said. [414d] “Say on,” said he, “and don't be afraid.” “Very well, I will. And yet I hardly know how to find the audacity or the words to speak and undertake to persuade first the rulers themselves and the soldiers and then the rest of the city, that in good sooth7 all our training and educating of them were things that they imagined and that happened to them as it were in a dream; but that in reality at that time they were down within the earth being molded and fostered themselves while [414e] their weapons and the rest of their equipment were being fashioned. And when they were quite finished the earth as being their mother8 delivered them, and now as if their land were their mother and their nurse they ought to take thought for her and defend her against any attack and regard the other citizens as their brothers and children of the self-same earth.” “It is not for nothing,9” he said, “that you were so bashful about coming out with your lie.” “It was quite natural that I should be,”

1 The concept μηχανή or ingenious device employed by a superior intelligence to circumvent necessity or play providence with the vulgar holds a prominent place in Plato's physics, and is for Rousseau-minded readers one of the dangerous features of his political and educational philosophy. Cf. 415 C, Laws 664 A, 752 C, 769 E, 798 B, 640 B.

2 Cf. 389 B.

3 389 B f.

4 As was the Cadmus legend of the men who sprang from the dragon's teeth, which the Greks believed οὕτως ἀπίθανον ὄν, Laws 663 E. Pater, who translates the passage (Plato and Platonism, p. 223), fancifully suggests that it is a “miners' story.” Others read into it an allusion to Egyptian castes. The proverb ψεῦσμα Φοινικικόν(Strabo 259 B) probably goes back to the Phoenician tales of the Odyssey.

5 Plato never attempts a Voltairian polemic against the general faith in the supernatural, which he is willing to utilize for ethical ends, but he never himself affirms “le surnaturel particulier.”

6 καὶ μάλ᾽ here as often adds a touch of humorous colloquial emphasis, which our conception of the dignity of Plato does not allow a translator to reproduce.

7 Perhaps “that so it is that” would be better.ὡς ἄρα as often disclaims responsibility for the tale. Plato's fancy of men reared beneath the earth is the basis of Bulwer-Lytton's Utopia, The Coming Race, as his use of the ring of Gyges (359 D-360 B) is of H. G. Wells'Invisible Man.

8 The symbolism expresses the Athenian boast of autochthony and Plato's patriotic application of it, Menexenus 237 E-238 A. Cf. Burgess, “Epideictic Literature,”University of Chicago Studies in Classical Philology, vol. iii. pp. 153-154;Timaeus 24 C-D, Aeschylus Septem 17, Lucretius ii. 641 f., and Swineburne, “Erechtheus”: “All races but one are as aliens engrafted or sown,/ Strange children and changelings, but we, O our mother, thine own.”

9 οὐκ ἐτός is comic. Cf. 568 A, and Blaydes on Aristophanes Acharnians 411.

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