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341A - 342E Socrates now meets Thrasymachus on his own ground, and attacks his definition according to the ‘strictest form’ of argument. He shews by analogy that every ruler qua ruler seeks the good of those whom he rules, since every art aims at the good of its own peculiar charge or object, and not at its own, for qua art there is nothing lacking to it. ff. It is to be noted that the discussion is now transferred from the region of facts into an atmosphere of idealism. For this, Thrasymachus is primarily responsible. The theory that the ruler qua ruler makes no mistakes, is no doubt true ideally, but practically it is of little moment, since he will suffer qua ruler for the errors which he commits in moments of aberration. The strength of Thrasymachus' theory lay in its correspondence with the facts (real or apparent) of experience; it is the temptation to defend his theory against the criticism of Socrates which leads him to abandon facts for ideas; and as soon as he is refuted on the idealistic plane, he descends to facts again (343 A ff.). The vein of idealism struck by Thrasymachus is worked to some purpose by Socrates. To assert that rulers qua rulers always seek the good of their subjects is in reality to set before us a political ideal, and Plato's Ideal Commonwealth is intended to be its embodiment in a state. Plato was probably the first to develope and elaborate this principle of political science, but the legislations of Solon and other early lawgivers furnish examples of its application to practical politics (see especially Arist. Rep. Ath. ch. 12 and Solon's verses there cited), and it is formulated by the historical Socrates in Xen. Mem. III 2, with which compare Cyrop. VIII 2. 14. See also Henkel Studien zur Gesch. d. gr. Lehre vom Staat pp. 44, 145, and Whibley Greek Oligarchies p. 11 note 29. συκοφαντεῖν is explained in ἐξ ἐπιβουλῆς—κακουργοῦντά σε, where κακουργοῦντα (as Schneider observes) is not used as in 338 D of putting an evil or sophistical interpretation on a theory, but of damaging a man's personal reputation and credit: “scilicet existimationis et pecuniae detrimentum facturus sibi videbatur sophista ideoque Socratem se, quamquam frustra, impugnare in sequentibus quoque criminatur.”
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