13. “‘When you have impressed on a man,’ I resumed, ‘the necessity of careful attention to the duties you assign to him, will he then be competent to act as bailiff, or must he learn something besides, if he is to be efficient?’  “‘Of course,’ answered Ischomachus, ‘he has still to understand what he has to do, and when and how to do it. Otherwise how could a bailiff be of more use than a doctor who takes care to visit a patient early and late, but has no notion of the right way to treat his illness?’  “‘Well, but suppose he has learned how farm-work is to be done, will he want something more yet, or will your man now be a perfect bailiff?’“‘I think he must learn to rule the labourers.’  “‘And do you train your bailiffs to be competent to rule too?’“‘Yes, I try, anyhow.’“‘And pray tell me how you train them to be rulers of men.’“‘By a childishly easy method, Socrates. I daresay you'll laugh if I tell you.’  “‘Oh, but it is certainly not a laughing matter, Ischomachus. For anyone who can make men fit to rule others can also teach them to be masters of others; and if he can make them fit to be masters, he can make them fit to be kings. So anyone who can do that seems to me to deserve high praise rather than laughter.’  “‘Well now, Socrates, other creatures learn obedience in two ways—by being punished when they try to disobey, and by being rewarded when they are eager to serve you.  Colts, for example, learn to obey the horsebreaker by getting something they like when they are obedient, and suffering inconvenience when they are disobedient, until they carry out the horsebreaker's intentions.  Puppies, again, are much inferior to men in intelligence and power of expression; and yet they learn to run in circles and turn somersaults and do many other tricks in the same way; for when they obey they get something that they want, and when they are careless, they are punished.  And men can be made more obedient by word of mouth merely, by being shown that it is good for them to obey. But in dealing with slaves the training thought suitable for wild animals is also a very effective way of teaching obedience; for you will do much with them by filling their bellies with the food they hanker after. Those of an ambitious disposition are also spurred on by praise, some natures being hungry for praise as others for meat and drink.  Now these are precisely the things that I do myself with a view to making men more obedient; but they are not the only lessons I give to those whom I want to appoint my bailiffs. I have other ways of helping them on. For the clothes that I must provide for my work-people and the shoes are not all alike. Some are better than others, some worse, in order that I may reward the better servant with the superior articles, and give the inferior things to the less deserving.  For I think it is very disheartening to good servants, Socrates, when they see that they do all the work, and others who are not willing to work hard and run risks when need be, get the same as they.  For my part, then, I don't choose to put the deserving on a level with the worthless, and when I know that my bailiffs have distributed the best things to the most deserving, I commend them; and if I see that flattery or any other futile service wins special favour, I don't overlook it, but reprove the bailiff, and try to show him, Socrates, that such favouritism is not even in his own interest.’”
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.