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[415b] it may sometimes happen that a golden father would beget a silver son and that a golden offspring would come from a silver sire and that the rest would in like manner be born of one another. So that the first and chief injunction that the god lays upon the rulers is that of nothing else1 are they to be such careful guardians and so intently observant as of the intermixture of these metals in the souls of their offspring, and if sons are born to them with an infusion of brass or iron

1 The phrasing of this injunction recalls Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, in fine: “I'll fear no other thing/ So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.” The securing of disinterested capacity in the rulers is the pons asinorum of political theory. Plato constructs his whole state for this end. Cf. Introduction p. xv. Aristotle, Politics 1262 b 27, raises the obvious objection that the transference from class to class will not be an easy matter. But Plato here and in 423 D-E is merely stating emphatically the postulates of an ideal state. He admits that even if established it will some time break down, and that the causes of its failure will lie beyond human ken, and can only be expressed in symbol. See on 546-547.

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