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[506a] in a matter of this quality and moment, can we, I ask you, allow a like blindness and obscurity in those best citizens1 to whose hands we are to entrust all things?” “Least of all,” he said. “I fancy, at any rate,” said I, “that the just and the honorable, if their relation and reference to the good is not known,2 will not have secured a guardian3 of much worth in the man thus ignorant, and my surmise is that no one will understand them adequately before he knows this.” “You surmise well,” he said. “Then our constitution [506b] will have its perfect and definitive organization4 only when such a guardian, who knows these things, oversees it.”

“Necessarily,” he said. “But you yourself, Socrates, do you think that knowledge is the good or pleasure or something else and different?” “What a man it is,” said I; “you made it very plain5 long ago that you would not be satisfied with what others think about it.” “Why, it does not seem right to me either, Socrates,” he said, “to be ready to state the opinions of others but not one's own when one has occupied himself with the matter so long.6” [506c] “But then,” said I, “do you think it right to speak as having knowledge about things one does not know?” “By no means,” he said, “as having knowledge, but one ought to be willing to tell as his opinion what he opines.” “Nay,” said I, “have you not observed that opinions divorced from knowledge7 are ugly things? The best of them are blind.8 Or do you think that those who hold some true opinion without intelligence differ appreciably from blind men who go the right way?” “They do not differ at all,” he said. “Is it, then, ugly things that you prefer [506d] to contemplate, things blind and crooked, when you might hear from others what is luminous9 and fair?” “Nay, in heaven's name, Socrates,” said Glaucon, “do not draw back, as it were, at the very goal.10 For it will content us if you explain the good even as you set forth the nature of justice, sobriety, and the other virtues.” “It will right well11 content me, my dear fellow,” I said, “but I fear that my powers may fail and that in my eagerness I may cut a sorry figure and become a laughing-stock.12 Nay, my beloved, [506e] let us dismiss for the time being the nature of the good in itself;13 for to attain to my present surmise of that seems a pitch above the impulse that wings my flight today.14 But of what seems to be the offspring of the good and most nearly made in its likeness15 I am willing to speak if you too wish it, and otherwise to let the matter drop.” “Well, speak on,” he said, “for you will duly pay me the tale of the parent another time.” “I could wish,”

1 As in the “longer way” Plato is careful not to commit himself to a definition of the ideal or the sanction, but postulates it for his guardians.

2 The personal or ab urbe condita construction. Cf. Theaet. 169 E.

3 the guardians must be able to give a reason, which they can do only by reference to the sanction. For the idea that the statesman must know better than other men. Cf. Laws 968 A, 964 C, 858 C-E, 817 C, Xen Mem. iii. 6. 8.

4 For the effect of the future perfect cf. 457 Bλελέξεται465 Aπροστετάξεται, Eurip.Heracleidae 980πεπράξεται.

5 For the personal construction 348 E, Isoc.To Nic.I. καταφανής is a variation in this idiom for δῆλος. Cf. also Theaet. 189 C, Symp. 221 B, Charm. 162 C, etc.

6 Cf. 367 D-E.

7 This is not a contradiction of Meno 97 B, Theaet. 201 B-C and Phileb. 62 A-B, but simply a different context and emphasis. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 47, nn. 338 and 339.

8 Cf. on 484 C, Phaedr. 270 E.

9 Probably an allusion to the revelation of the mysteries. Cf. Phaedr. 250 C, Phileb. 16 C, rep. 518 C, 478 C, 479 D, 518 A. It is fantastic to see in it a reference to what Cicero calls the lumina orationis of Isocratean style. The rhetoric and synonyms of this passage are not to be pressed.

10 Cf. Phileb. 64 Cἐπὶ μὲν τοῖς τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἤδη προθύροις, “we are now in the vestibule of the good.”

11 καὶ μάλα, “jolly well,” humorous emphasis on the point that it is much easier to “define” the conventional virtues than to explain the “sanction.” Cf. Symp. 189 A, Euthydem. 298 D-E, Herod. viii. 66. It is frequent in the Republic. Ritter gives forty-seven cases. I have fifty-four! But the point that matters is the humorous tone. Cf. e.g. 610 E.

12 Excess of Zeal,προθυμία, seemed laughable to the Greeks. Cf. my interpretation of Iliad i. in fine, Class. Phil. xxii. (1927) pp. 222-223.

13 Cf. More, Principia Ethica, p. 17 “Good, then, is indefinable; and yet, so far as I know, there is only one ethical writer, Professor Henry Sidgwick, who has clearly recognized and stated this fact.”

14 This is not superstitious mysticism but a deliberate refusal to confine in a formula what requires either a volume or a symbol. See Introd. p. xxvii, and my Idea of Good in Plato's Republic, p. 212. τὰ νῦν repeats τὸ νῦν εἶναι(Cf. Tim. 48 C), as the evasive phrase εἰσαῦθις below sometimes lays the topic on the table, never to be taken up again. Cf. 347 E and 430 C.

15 Cf. Laws 897 D-E, Phaedr. 246 A.

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