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[459a] “By all means.” “How, then, would the greatest benefit result? Tell me this, Glaucon. I see that you have in your house hunting-dogs and a number of pedigree cocks.1 Have you ever considered something about their unions and procreations?” “What?”2 he said. “In the first place,” I said, “among these themselves, although they are a select breed, do not some prove better than the rest?” “They do.” “Do you then breed from all indiscriminately, or are you careful to breed from the best3?” [459b] “From the best.” “And, again, do you breed from the youngest or the oldest, or, so far as may be, from those in their prime?” “From those in their prime.” “And if they are not thus bred, you expect, do you not, that your birds and hounds will greatly degenerate?” “I do,” he said. “And what of horses and other animals?” I said; “is it otherwise with them?” “It would be strange if it were,” said he. “Gracious,” said I, “dear friend, how imperative, then, is our need of the highest skill in our rulers, if the principle holds also for mankind.” [459c] “Well, it does,” he said, “but what of it?” “This,” said I, “that they will have to employ many of those drugs4 of which we were speaking. We thought that an inferior physician sufficed for bodies that do not need drugs but yield to diet and regimen. But when it is necessary to prescribe drugs we know that a more enterprising and venturesome physician is required.” “True; but what is the pertinency?” “This,” said I: “it seems likely that our rulers will have to make considerable use of falsehood and deception [459d] for the benefit5 of their subjects. We said, I believe, that the use of that sort of thing was in the category of medicine.” “And that was right,” he said. “In our marriages, then, and the procreation of children, it seems there will be no slight need of this kind of ‘right.'” “How so?” “It follows from our former admissions,” I said, “that the best men must cohabit with the best women in as many cases as possible and the worst with the worst in the fewest, [459e] and that the offspring of the one must be reared and that of the other not, if the flock6 is to be as perfect as possible. And the way in which all this is brought to pass must be unknown to any but the rulers, if, again, the herd of guardians is to be as free as possible from dissension.” “Most true,” he said. “We shall, then, have to ordain certain festivals and sacrifices, in which we shall bring together the brides and the bridegrooms, and our poets must compose hymns

1 Cf. Laws 789 B-C.

2 The riddling question to which the response is “what?” is a mannerism derived from tragedy, which becomes very frequent in the later style of the Sophist, Politicus and Philebus.

3 This commonplace of stirpiculture or eugenics, as it is now called, begins with Theognis 184, and has thus far got no further.

4 A recurrence to the metaphor of 389 B, as we are reminded below in D.

5 Cf. 389 B, 414 C, and Laws 663 Dἐπ᾽ ἀγαθῷ ψεύδεσθαι

6 Cf. on 343 A-B and Politicus 267 B-C, 268 B.αὖ below merely marks the second consideration, harmony, the first being eugenics.

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