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[445a] and practice honorable pursuits and be just, whether1 one is known to be such or not, or whether injustice profits, and to be unjust, if only a man escape punishment and is not bettered by chastisement.2” “Nay, Socrates,” he said, “I think that from this point on our inquiry becomes an absurdity3—if, while life is admittedly intolerable with a ruined constitution of body even though accompanied by all the food and drink and wealth and power in the world, we are yet to be asked to suppose that, when the very nature and constitution of that whereby we live4 is disordered [445b] and corrupted, life is going to be worth living, if a man can only do as he pleases,5 and pleases to do anything save that which will rid him of evil and injustice and make him possessed of justice and virtue—now that the two have been shown to be as we have described them.” “Yes, it is absurd,” said I; “but nevertheless, now that we have won to this height, we must not grow weary in endeavoring to discover6 with the utmost possible clearness that these things are so.” “That is the last thing in the world we must do,” he said. [445c] “Come up here7 then,” said I, “that you may see how many are the kinds of evil, I mean those that it is worth while to observe and distinguish.8” “I am with you,” he said; “only do you say on.” “And truly,” said I, “now that we have come to this height9 of argument I seem to see as from a point of outlook that there is one form10 of excellence, and that the forms of evil are infinite, yet that there are some four among them that it is worth while to take note of.” “What do you mean?” he said. “As many as are the varieties of political constitutions that constitute specific types, so many, it seems likely, [445d] are the characters of soul.” “How many, pray?” “There are five kinds of constitutions,” said I, “and five kinds of soul.” “Tell me what they are,” he said. “I tell you,” said I, “that one way of government would be the constitution that we have just expounded, but the names that might be applied to it are two.11 If one man of surpassing merit rose among the rulers, it would be denominated royalty; if more than one, aristocracy.” “True,” he said. “Well, then,” I said, “this is one of the forms I have in mind. [445e] For neither would a number of such men, nor one if he arose among them, alter to any extent worth mentioning the laws of our city—if he preserved the breeding and the education that we have described.” “It is not likely,” he said.


1 ἐάν τε . . . ἐάν τε: Cf. 337 C, 367 E, 427 D, 429 E.

2 Cf. Gorgias 512 A-B, and on 380 B.

3 Cf. on 456 D. On the following argumentum ex contrario Cf. on 336 E.

4 Cf. on 353 D and Aristotle De anima 414 a 12 ff. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 41.

5 Cf. 577 D, Gorgias 466 E. If all men desire the good, he who does evil does not do what he really wishes.

6 ὅσον . . . κατιδεῖν is generally taken as epexegetic of ἐνταῦθα. It is rather well felt with οὐ χρὴ ἀποκάμνειν.

7 Cf. Apology 25 C.

8 γε δὴ καὶ ἄξια θέας: for καί Cf. Sophist 223 A, 229 D, Timaeus 83 C, Politicus 285 B, and 544 A, C-D. By the strict theory of ideas any distinction may mark a class, and so constitute an idea. (Cf. De Platonis Idearum Doctrina, pp. 22-25.) But Plato's logical practice recognizes that only typical or relevant “Ideas” are worth naming or considering. The Republic does not raise the metaphysical question how a true idea is to be distinguished from a part or from a partial or casual concept. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 52-53, n. 381, Politicus 263 A-B.

9 Cf. 588 B, Emerson, Nominalist and Realist, ii. p. 256: “We like to come to a height of land and see the landscape, just as we value a general remark in a conversation.” Cf. Lowell, Democracy, Prose Works, vi. 8: “He who has mounted the tower of Plato to look abroad from it will never hope to climb another with so lofty a vantage of speculation.” From this and 517 A-B, the ἀνάβασις became a technical or cant term in Neoplatonism.

10 ἓν μέν, etc.: perhaps a faint remembrance of the line ἐσθλοὶ μὲν γὰρ ἁπλῶς, παντοδαπῶς δὲ κακοί, quoted by Aristotle Eth. Nic. 1106 b 35. It suggests Plato's principle of the unity of virtue, as ἄπειρα below suggests the logical doctrine of the Philebus 16 and Parmenides 145 A, 158 B-C that the other of the definite idea is the indefinite and infinite.

11 The true state is that in which knowledge governs. It may be named indifferently monarchy, or aristocracy, according as such knowledge happens to be found in one or more than one. It can never be the possession of many. Cf. 494 A. The inconsistencies which some critics have found between this statement and other parts of the Republic, are imaginary. Hitherto the Republic has contemplated a plurality of rulers, and such is its scheme to the end. But we are explicitly warned in 540 D and 587 D that this is a matter of indefference. It is idle then to argue with Immisch, Krohn, and others that the passage marks a sudden, violent alteration of the original design.

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