previous next

ἐπικούρους. Plato henceforward uses this expression when he wishes specifically to allude to the second class of his citizens. φύλακες remains the general term including both ἄρχοντες and ἐπίκουροι. See on II 374 D.

414B - 415D In order to establish all these regulations in the city, we must have recourse to a heroic falsehood. We shall tell the citizens that they were only dreaming when they believed themselves to be trained by us. In reality, they were being moulded and fashioned in the womb of Earth, they and all their equipments; so that it is their duty to defend their country like a mother, and regard their fellow-citizens as brothers born of Earth. We shall add that in creating some to be rulers, God mingled in their substance gold; silver he put in the auxiliaries; iron and copper in the farmers and artisans. The citizens will for the most part produce children like themselves; but silver offspring will sometimes come from gold, or gold from silver and the like. It is the first and foremost duty of the Rulers to lift and degrade children into their proper classes, alleging an oracle that the city shall perish when iron or copper becomes its guardian. It may be impossible to convince the first generation of our citizens that the lie is true; but their posterity may credit it.

ff. After discrediting the current mythological and religious views, Plato now proceeds to replace them by something more in harmony with his own principles. Throughout this episode he is making legend in accordance with II 382 D διὰ τὸ μὴ εἰδέναι ὅπῃ τἀληθὲς ἔχει περὶ τῶν παλαιῶν, ἀφομοιοῦντες τῷ ἀληθεῖ τὸ ψεῦδος τι μάλιστα οὕτω χρήσιμον ποιοῦμεν. His particular object is to give a religious and quasi-historical sanction to the sentiment of patriotism and the institution of caste. With this aim in view he frames a μῦθος in which the belief of many Greek communities (especially the Athenians: cf. Isocr. Paneg. 24 f., Eur. Fr. 362) in an autochthonous ancestry is skilfully combined with the popular association of different metals with different degrees of merit, as in the Hesiodic ages of man. Cf. Hirzel Der Dialog pp. 263 f. The episode should not be understood as ironical: without it, the present sketch of a State would be incomplete. We require some guarantee for the permanence of the city and its institutions; and nothing could be more in keeping with the prevailingly moral and religious spirit of Plato's ‘musical’ education than that he should find that guarantee in faith rather than in reason. The case is different when the Platonic city attains its full maturity, and it is equally appropriate that Reason, embodied in the Rulers, should then become the final guarantee.

ὧν νῦν δή. See cr. n. Although νῦν occasionally refers to the immediate past (e.g. I 341 C, IX 592 A, X 611 B: see also Jebb on Soph. Ant. 151), neither here nor in οὓς νῦν δή just before can δὴ νῦν be retained: for δή “neque per se intelligi neque ad ὧν referri potest” (Schneider). The reference is to II 382 D, III 389 B.

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.

hide References (1 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (1):
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 151
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: