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[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.1 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.

1 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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