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344D - 347E The reply of Socrates falls into two parts. In the first (344 D— 347 E), after emphatically expressing his dissent from Thrasymachus' views, and protesting against the Sophist's retractation (in the example of the shepherd and his sheep) of the doctrine that every ruler seeks the good of his subjects, Socrates reverts to the stricter form of reasoning to which Thrasymachus had formerly challenged him, and points out that no rulers, properly so called, rule willingly: they require wages. When any kind of rule, e.g. an art, is attended with advantage to the ruler, the advantage comes from the concomitant operation of the ‘art of wage-earning,’ and not from the rule itself. Medicine produces health; the art of wages, wages; the doctor takes his fee, not qua doctor, but qua wage-earner. Thus it is not the ruler, qua ruler, but the subjects, as was already said, who reap the advantage. The wages which induce a man to rule, may be money, or honour, or the prospect of a penalty if he should refuse. The most efficacious penalty, in the case of the best natures, is the prospect of being ruled by worse men than themselves. In a city of good men, freedom from office would be as eagerly sought for as office itself is now. Herewith ends for the present the refutation of the theory that Justice is the interest of the stronger. Socrates promises to resume the subject on another occasion.

ff. The ensuing discussion is not a new argument (see 345 C ἔτι γὰρ τὰ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπισκεψώμεθα) in support of Socrates' view, but a restatement of his theory, with an addition necessitated by Thrasymachus' example of the shepherd. The shepherd (says Socrates) is no shepherd, when he fattens his sheep for his own gain, nor the ruler a ruler, when he enriches himself at the expense of his subjects. On such occasions both shepherd and ruler are in reality μισθωτικοί—professors of μισθωτική, an art which is distinct from that of ruling, though usually associated with it. This analysis is new and valuable in itself; it also enables Socrates (in 347 D) to make the first explicit allusion in the Republic to an ideal state, and to formulate what afterwards becomes a leading principle of the Platonic commonwealth—the reluctance of the ruling class to accept office.

καταντλήσας. For the metaphor cf. infra VII 536 B, Lys. 204 D, Lucian Dem. Enc. 16 (imitated from this passage) and other examples in Blaydes on Ar. Wasps 483.

ἐμβαλών: cf. Theaet. 165 D, Prot. 342 E. The whole expression recalls the Latin proverb scrupulum abeunti (Cic. de Fin. IV 80).

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 483
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 165d
    • Plato, Lysis, 204d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 342e
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