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543A - 545C Socrates now returns to the point at which the digression occupying Books V—VII began. There are, as we observed, four leading varieties of States and individuals, in addition to the perfect polity and perfect man. In order of merit they are (1) Timarchy, or the Cretan and Laconian State, (2) Oligarchy, (3) Democracy, (4) Tyranny. All other kinds of commonwealths, such as dynasties etc., lie somewhere between these primary and conspicuous varieties. Furthermore, inasmuch as the specific character of States is determined by that of individuals, there will be five leading types of individual character, embodied respectively in (1) the aristocratic, (2) the timarchical, (3) the oligarchical, (4) the democratical, (5) the tyrannical man. The first of these we have already described; but we must review the others also, in order that, by contrasting the best and worst, we may apprehend the relation between undiluted justice and undiluted injustice in respect of the happiness and misery of their possessors. As before, we will examine the commonwealths first, and afterwards the individuals.

ff. The description of the philosopher and the philosophic city is at last complete, and the argument returns to the point at which the ‘digression’ began, viz. V 449 A: see note ad loc. Plato has already said repeatedly, and reminds us yet again in 544 A, that the aim of our whole investigation was to decide εἰ ἄριστος εὐδαιμονέστατος καὶ κάκιστος ἀθλιώτατος, ἄλλως ἔχοι (cf. II 368 E, 369 A notes). With the character of the perfect man we are now familiar, but we have still to discover and describe τὸν κάκιστον, in order that we may institute our comparison and pronounce our verdict. This is the task to which Plato addresses himself in VIII and IX (down to 576 B). The method which he follows resembles that adopted in II 369 B ff.—IV. In the first place, he retains throughout the former analogy between the Soul and the City, and his account of the imperfect man is in every instance preceded by an account of the imperfect State. Secondly, instead of going straight to the mark and giving us a single ready-made sketch of total and complete depravity, Plato draws an elaborate and quasi-historical picture of the gradual descent of the perfect State and the perfect Man through successive phases of ever-growing degeneration down to the lowest depth of wickedness and crime. In the same way, as Nettleship observes (Lect. and Rem. II p. 295), “in describing a perfect state, or certain steps in the process of forming a perfect state,” he sometimes wrote “as if one step of that process succeeded another in a historical order.” See on II 369 B, 372 D, 373 D et al. The question has often been discussed whether the sequence of polities in VIII and IX was intended to be really historical or not: see for example Zeller^{4} II pp. 923—925, Henkel Studien zur Gesch. d. Gr. Lehre v. Staat p. 56 and Krohn Pl. St. pp. 204 ff. Aristotle seems to have understood Plato's account as an attempt to describe the actual facts of Greek history, and severely criticizes it from his usual standpoint in Pol. E 12. 1316^{a} 1—^{b} 27 ; but Plato himself must of course have known as well as Aristotle that the historical development of Greek constitutions did not by any means always correspond with his scheme. See Whibley Gk Olig. pp. 62—88 and Greenidge Gk Const. Hist. pp. 12—35. The fact is that Aristotle altogether ignores the real object of Plato, which is, as we have seen, to arrive at the worst State and the worst man, and treats him as if he had undertaken to exhibit a full and complete genealogical tree of all the changes good or bad which had ever taken place in Greek constitutional history. But Plato does not here profess to describe political advance, but only political decay; and even his theory of political decay is itself based upon a theory of psychological degeneration which justly and deliberately ignores, as irrelevant for our present purpose, the undoubted power of human character to improve as well as to deteriorate. The question, as Nettleship says, which Plato puts before himself is this: “The human soul being as we have described it, and having in it a certain capacity for evil as well as for good, what would it come to, and through what stages would it pass, if its capacity for evil were realized gradually but without any abatement? In actual human experience there is always some abatement; there are always counteracting circumstances which prevent any one tendency working itself out in isolation and unhindered; but the philosopher may, as Plato here does, work out the result of a single tendency logically. These books therefore put before us an ideal history of evil, as the previous books put before us an ideal history of good” (l. c. p. 295). The different stages in the decline of the individual soul are each reflected in the decline of the πολιτεία, which is still, as in II—VII, not ‘a lifeless instrument, or dead machine,’ but in the words of Isocrates, simply the soul of the State (ἔστι γὰρ ψυχὴ πόλεως οὐδὲν ἕτερον πολιτεία Areop. 14). But although Plato treats the whole question from a psychological rather than a historical standpoint, it is none the less true that the materials of his picture are taken from Greek political and social life. In Books VIII and IX of the Republic we have an extraordinarily vivid and life-like embodiment of the results of Plato's observation and experience of the Greek character, both private and public, in all its different phases, Lacedaemonian, oligarchical, democratical or Athenian, and tyrannical; and the student of Greek history, whether political, economical or social, will obtain a clearer idea of the inner life and animating spirit of Greek constitutions from Plato's description than from any other ancient source whatever. For the rest, it should be noted that Plato has given us in this part of the Republic the earliest attempt at a Philosophy of History, and founded the psychological interpretation of the State. Every political movement is, according to him, the expression of some particular psychological impulse or impulses, and the Constitution inevitably assumes different forms, according as one or another element or ‘part’ of soul obtains the mastery in the individual citizen. See on this subject Krohn Pl. St. pp. 199 ff., and Bluntschli Theory of the State pp. 76 f.

τῇ μελλούσῃ ἄκρως κτλ. Cf. Laws 739 C, D. The adverb ἄκρως is said by Herwerden (Mn. XIX p. 335) to be a ἅπαξ εἰρημένον in classical Greek. On the word βασιλέας Pfleiderer (Zur Lösung etc. p. 73) bases a chorizontic argument; but see on IV 445 D. Plato's rulers may well be called ‘Kings,’ for Plato holds that there is no difference of principle between Kingship and Aristocracy: cf. VII 520 B with V 473 C, IX 587 B, and Henkel Stud. zur Gesch. d. Gr. Lehre vom Staat p. 57.

αὐτῶν. The genitive is partitive: ‘and that those of their number are to be Kings who have shewn themselves best’ etc. Jowett wrongly translates ‘their kings.’

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