previous next


“There remains for consideration,” said I, “the tyrannical man himself—the manner of his development out of the democratic type and his character and the quality of his life, whether wretched or happy.” “Why, yes, he still remains,” he said. “Do you know, then, what it is that I still miss?” “What?” “In the matter of our desires I do not think we sufficiently distinguished their nature and number. And so long as this is lacking [571b] our inquiry will lack clearness.” “Well,” said he, “will our consideration of them not still be opportune1?” “By all means. And observe what it is about them that I wish to consider. It is this. Of our unnecessary pleasures2 and appetites there are some lawless ones, I think, which probably are to be found in us all, but which, when controlled3 by the laws and the better desires in alliance with reason, can in some men be altogether got rid of, or so nearly so that only a few weak ones remain, [571c] while in others the remnant is stronger and more numerous.” “What desires do you mean?” he said. “Those,” said I, “that are awakened in sleep4 when the rest of the soul, the rational, gentle and dominant part, slumbers, but the beastly and savage part, replete with food and wine, gambols and, repelling sleep, endeavors to sally forth and satisfy its own instincts.5 You are aware that in such case there is nothing it will not venture to undertake as being released from all sense of shame and all reason. It does not shrink from attempting to lie with a mother [571d] in fancy or with anyone else, man, god or brute. It is ready for any foul deed of blood; it abstains from no food, and, in a word, falls short of no extreme of folly6 and shamelessness.” “Most true,” he said. “But when, I suppose, a man's condition is healthy and sober, and he goes to sleep after arousing his rational part and entertaining it with fair words and thoughts, and attaining to clear self-consciousness, while he has neither starved [571e] nor indulged to repletion his appetitive part, so that it may be lulled to sleep7

1 For ἐν καλῷ cf. Soph. El. 348, Eurip.Heracleid. 971, Aristoph.Eccl. 321, Thesm. 292.

2 Cf. on 558 D.

3 For κολαζόμεναι cf. on 559 B, p. 293, note c.

4 Cf. Aristot.Eth. Nic. 102 b 5 ff. δ᾽ ἀγαθὸς καὶ κακὸς ἥκιστα διάδηλοι καθ᾽ ὕπνον, etc.; also his Problem. 957 a 21 ff. Cic.De divin. i. 29 translates this passage. Cf. further Herod. vi. 107, Soph.O.T. 981-982. Hazlitt writes “We are not hypocrites in our sleep,” a modern novelist, “In sleep all barriers are down.” The Freudians have at last discovered Plato's anticipation of their main thesis. Cf. Trotter, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War. p. 74: “It has been perhaps Freud's most remarkable thesis that dreams are manifestations of this emergence of desires and memories from the unconscious into the conscious field.” “The barriers of the Freudian unconscious are less tightly closed during sleep” sententiously observes an eminent modern psychologist. Cf. Valentine, The New Psychology of the Unconscious, p. xiii. and ibid. p. 93: “Freud refers to Plato's view that the virtuous man does in actual life, but I believe he nowhere shows a knowledge of the following passage in the Republic. . . . ” Cf. ibid. p. 95: “The germ of several aspects of the Freudian view of dreams, including the characteristic doctrine of the censor, was to be found in Plato. The Freudian view becomes at once distinctly more respectable.” Many of the ancients, like some superstitious moderns, exalted the unconscious which reveals itself in dreams, and made it the source of prophecy. Cf. commentators on Aesch.Eumen. 104, Pindar, fr. 131 (96) Loeb, p. 589:εὕδει δὲ πρασσόντων μελέων, ἀτὰρ εὑδόντεσσιν ἐν πολλοῖς ὀνείροις|δείκνυσι τέρπνων ἐφέρποισαν χαλεπῶν τε κρίσιν, “but it sleepeth while the limbs are active; yet to them that sleep, in many a dream it giveth presage of a decision of things delightful or doleful. (Sandys, Loeb tr.) Cf. Pausan. ix. 23, Cic.De div. i. 30, Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, pp. 105-107 (ed. J. A. Symonds). Plato did not share these superstitions. Cf. the irony of Tim. 71 D-E, and my review of Stewart's “Myths of Plato,”Journal of Philos. Psychol. and Scientific Methods, vol. iii., 1906, pp. 495-498.

5 The Greeks had no good word for instinct, but there are passages in Plato where this translation is justified by the context for ἦθος, φύσις and such words.

6 For the idiom οὐδὲν ἐλλείπει cf. Soph.Trach. 90, Demosth. liv. 34. Cf. also 602 D and on 593 A, p. 200, note b.

7 Cf. Browning, Bishop Blougram's Apology, “And body gets its sop and holds its noise.” Plato was no ascetic, as some have inferred from passages in the Republic, Laws, Gorgias, and Phaedo. Cf. Herbert L. Stewart, “Was Plato an Ascetic?”Philos. Re., 1915, pp. 603-613; Dean Inge, Christian Ethics, p. 90: “The asceticism of the true Platonist has always been sane moderate; the hallmark of Platonism is a combination of self-restraint and simplicity with humanism.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1915 AD (1)
1906 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: