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369B - 372D The First Sketch of a City-state.

A city is called into being by the fact that the individual is not self-sufficient. We may regard it as the union of many men mutually helping one another in one place. The individual gives and takes because he thinks it better for himself to do so.

Now man's first need is food, his second housing, his third clothing and the like. The smallest possible State will therefore consist of a farmer, a builder, a weaver and a shoemaker etc.—four or five men in all. Each of these must work for all, because Nature has adapted different men for different kinds of work, and because every kind of work has its critical moment when it must be done and cannot be neglected. Our principle is — One man, one work. We shall accordingly require carpenters and smiths to make instruments for the farmer, weaver, and shoemaker, as well as various kinds of herdsmen, to furnish cattle for ploughing and carrying, together with hides and fleeces for the makers of clothing. Since it is almost impossible to make the city self-supporting, we shall require middlemen to introduce imports; and as imports necessarily imply exports, the number of farmers and manufacturers in our city will increase, and we shall need travelling merchants to dispose of their produce. Owners of transport-ships will also be necessary, if there is traffic by sea.

Moreover, to facilitate exchange within the city, there must be a market, and coined money, and retail traders to act as middlemen between the producer and the consumer. The retail traders should be those who are physically unfit to engage in any other pursuit. There will also be hired labourers in our city.

Where then in such a commonwealth are Justice and Injustice? Along with which of the component parts of the State do they make their appearance? Adimantus suggests that we should look for them in the reciprocal intercourse of the various classes in the city. Let us see, says Socrates. The citizens will live the simple easy-going life of vegetarians, satisfying only the modest demands of their natural appetites. On a hint from Glauco, a few additional vegetarian luxuries are conceded.

γίγνεται -- πόλις κτλ. The present episode is ostensibly an historical account of the genesis of society, and from this point of view should be compared with Laws III 676 A ff. Some of the features are derived from an analysis of the industrial basis of society as it exists in civilised times: others (see 372 B—D), are semi-mythical and idyllic, recalling pictures of the golden age such as we find in Pol. 269 C ff., and in the caricatures of the comedians (e.g. ap. Athen. VI 267 E ff.). But the prevailing atmosphere is not historical or legendary, but idealistic (note δεῖ in 369 E and elsewhere), and Plato's πρώτη πόλις (Arist. Pol. Δ 4. 1291^{a} 17) should primarily be regarded as—in its essential features—a preliminary and provisional description of the industrial foundation on which the higher parts of his own ideal city are to rest. Cf. also on 372 B, D, Rettig Proleg. in Plat. remp. p. 42 and Steinhart Einleitung p. 156.

τυγχάνει as a mere copula is very rare in Attic prose, and it would be easy here to insert ὤν after πολλῶν: see Porson on Eur. Hec. 782. In the Platonic dialogues this usage recurs in Phaedr. 263 C, Gorg. 502 B, Alc. I 129 A, 133 A, Hipp. Mai. 300 A, Laws 918 C, Tim. 61 C, nor is it possible in the last three examples to account for its omission by lipography. The idiom occurs in Sophocles and Euripides, once in Aristophanes (Eccl. 1141), and (though condemned by Phrynichus) must also be admitted (though rarely) in prose: see the instances cited by Blaydes on Ar. (l.c.) and cf. Rutherford's New Phrynichus p. 342.

πολλῶν ἐνδεής. In the account of the genesis of society given in the Laws (676 A—680 E), more stress is laid on the social instinct of man: in Prot. 322 B ff the operating cause is man's defencelessness against wild beasts. Grote (Plato III p. 139 note) censures Plato for not mentioning the “reciprocal liability of injury” among the generative causes of civic life; but this (as well as assistance against external aggression) is hinted at in βοηθούς.

ἄλλος -- χρείᾳ. The words are short for ἄλλος ἄλλον, τὸν μὲν ἐπ᾽ ἄλλου, τὸν δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἄλλου χρείᾳ (for the omission of τὸν μέν cf. Prot. 330 A, Theaet. 181 D al.): ‘one taking to himself one man, another another—the one man for one, the other for another purpose.’ Essentially the same meaning would no doubt be conveyed without τὸν δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἄλλου, which Herwerden following two inferior MSS would omit; but the fuller form of expression is chosen in order, I think, to prepare us for the principle of ‘One man, one work’ to be presently enunciated.

ταύτῃ τῇ ξυνοικίᾳ. Stallbaum rightly regards the sentence as an anaco luthon, the antecedent to ταύτῃ being the words from παραλαμβάνων to βοηθούς. If the subject to ἐθέμεθα (a gnomic aorist) were ἄλλοςδεόμενοιἀγείραντες, we should probably have had παραλαμβάνοντες for παραλαμβάνων: and besides, Plato is not yet describing the particular city which we are ποιεῖν λόγῳ (infra line 19), but laying down the law as to the γένεσις of cities in general. For the anacoluthon see Engelhardt Anac. Pl. Spec. III p. 40.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 782
    • Plato, Theaetetus, 181d
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 263c
    • Plato, Gorgias, 502b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 322b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 330a
    • Plato, Timaeus, 61c
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