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[427a] “Indeed,” he said, “that is exactly what they are doing.” “I, then,” said I, “should not have supposed1 that the true lawgiver ought to work out matters of that kind2 in the laws and the constitution either of an ill-governed or a well-governed state—in the one because they are useless and accomplish nothing, in the other because some of them anybody could discover and others will result spontaneously from the pursuits already described.” [427b]

“What part of legislation, then,” he said, “is still left for us?” And I replied, “For us nothing, but for the Apollo of Delphi, the chief, the fairest and the first of enactments.” “What are they?” he said. “The founding of temples, and sacrifices, and other forms of worship of gods, daemons, and heroes; and likewise the burial of the dead and the services we must render to the dwellers in the world beyond3 to keep them gracious. For of such matters [427c] we neither know anything nor in the founding of our city if we are wise shall we entrust them to any other or make use of any other interpreter4 than the God of our fathers.5 For this God surely is in such matters for all mankind the interpreter of the religion of their fathers who from his seat in the middle and at the very navel6 of the earth delivers his interpretation.” “Excellently said,” he replied; “and that is what we must do.” [427d]

“At last, then, son of Ariston,” said I, “your city7 may be considered as established. The next thing is to procure a sufficient light somewhere and to look yourself,8 and call in the aid of your brother and of Polemarchus and the rest, if we may in any wise discover where justice and injustice9 should be in it, wherein they differ from one another and which of the two he must have who is to be happy, alike10 whether his condition is known or not known to all gods and men.” “Nonsense,” said Glaucon, “you11 promised that you would carry on the search yourself, [427e] admitting that it would be impious12 for you not to come to the aid of justice by every means in your power.” “A true reminder,” I said, “and I must do so, but you also must lend a hand.” “Well,” he said, “we will.” “I expect then,” said I, “that we shall find it in this way. I think our city, if it has been rightly founded is good in the full sense of the word.13” “Necessarily,” he said. “Clearly, then, it will be wise, brave, sober, and just.” “Clearly.” “Then if we find any of these qualities in it, the remainder14 will be that which we have not found?”

1 Ironically, “I should not have supposed, but for the practice of our politicians.”

2 εἶδος νόμων πέρι is here a mere periphrasis, though the true classification of laws was a topic of the day. Cf. Laws 630 E, Aristotle Politics 1267 b 37. Plato is not always careful to mark the distinction between the legislation which he rejects altogether and that which he leaves to the discretion of the citizens.

3 ἐκεῖ=in the other world. So often.

4 For the exegete as a special religious functionary at Athens. cf. L. and S. s.v. and Laws 759 C-D. Apollo in a higher sense is the interpreter of religion for all mankind. He is technically πατρῷος at Athens (Euthydemus 302 D) but he is πάτριος for all Greeks and all men. Plato does not, as Thümser says (p. 301), confuse the Dorian and the Ionian Apollo, but rises above the distinction.

5 Plato prudently or piously leaves the deatils of ceremonial and institutional religion to Delphi. Cf. 540 B-C, Laws 759 C, 738 B-C, 828 A, 856 E, 865 B, 914 A, 947 D.

6 This “navel” stone, supposed to mark the center of the earth, has now been found. Cf. Poulsen's Delphi , pp. 19, 29, 157, and Frazer on Pausanias x. 16.

7 Not the ἀναγκαιοτάτη πόλις of 369 E, nor the φλεγμαίνουσα πόλις of 372 E, but the purified city of 399 E has now been established and described. The search for justice that follows formulates for the first time the doctrine of the four cardinal virtues and defines each provisionally and sufficiently for the present purpose, and solves the problems dramatically presented in the minor dialogues, Charmides, Laches, etc. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 15-18, nn. 81-102, and the introduction to the second volume of this translation.

8 αὐτός τε καί: cf. 398 A.

9 See on 369 A. Matter-of-fact critics may object that there is no injustice in the perfectly good state. But we know the bad best by the canon of the good. Cf. on 409 A-B. The knowledge of opposites is the same. Injustice can be defined only in relation to its opposite (444 A-B), and in the final argument the most unjust man and state are set up as the extreme antitypes of the ideal (571-580). By the perfect state Plato does not mean a state in which no individual retains any human imperfections. It is idle then to speak of “difficulties” or “contradictions” or changes of plan in the composition of the Republic.

10 For ἐάν τε . . . ἐάν τε cf. 367 E.

11 Cf. 331 E. Emphatic as in 449 D-450 A, Phaedo 95 A, and Alc. I. 135 D.

12 Cf. 368 B-C.

13 Cf. 434 E, 449 A. This in a sense begs the original question in controversy with Thrasymachus, by the assumption that justice and the other moral virtues are goods. Cf. Gorgias 507 C. See The Idea of Good in Plato's Republic, p. 205. For the cardinal virtues cf. Schmidt, Ethik der Griechen, i. p. 304, Pearson, Fragments of Zeno and Cleanthes, pp. 173 f., and commentators on Pindar, Nem. iii. 74, which seems to refer to four periods of human life, and Xenophon Memorabilia iii. 9. 1-5, and iv. 6. 1-12. Plato recognizes other virtues even in the Republic(402 Cἐλευθεριότης and μεγαλοπρέπεια. Cf. 536 A), and would have been as ready to admit that the number four was a part of his literary machinery as Ruskin was to confess the arbitrariness of his Seven Lamps of Architecture.

14 It is pedantry to identify this with Mill's method of residues and then comment on the primitive naïveté of such an application of logic to ethics. One might as well speak of Andocides' employment of the method (De myst. 109) or of its use by Gorgias in the disjunctive dilemma of the Palamedes 11 and passim, or say that the dog of the anecdote employs it when he sniffs up one trail and immediately runs up the other. Plato obviously employs it merely as a literary device for the presentation of his material under the figure of a search. He, “in the infancy of philosophy,” is quite as well aware as his censors can be in the senility of criticism that he is not proving anything by this method, but merely setting forth what he has assumed for other reasons.

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