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[473c] “By all means,” he said. “There is one change, then,” said I, “which I think that we can show would bring about the desired transformation. It is not a slight or an easy thing but it is possible.” “What is that?” said he. “I am on the very verge,” said I, “of what we likened to the greatest wave of paradox. But say it1 I will, even if, to keep the figure, it is likely to wash2 us away on billows of laughter and scorn. Listen.” “I am all attention,” he said. “Unless,” said I, “either philosophers become kings3

1 εἰρήσεται: so used by the orators to introduce a bold statement. Cf. Aeschines ii. 22, Demosthenes xix. 224, xi. 17, xiv. 24, xxi. 198, etc.

2 More literally “deluge or overwhelm with ridicule.”

3 This is perhaps the most famous sentence in Plato. Cf. for the idea 499 B, 540 D, Laws 711 D, 712 A, 713 E ff. It is paraphrased by the author of the seventh Epistle(324 B, 326 A-B, 328 A-B) who perhaps quotes Plato too frequently to be Plato himself.Epistle ii. 310 E, though sometimes quoted in this connection, is not quite the same thought. It is implied in the Phaedrus 252 Eφιλόσοφος καὶ ἡγεμονικός, and Politicus 293 C, and only seems to be contradicted in Euthydemus 306 B. Aristotle is said to have contradicted it in a lost work (fr. 79, 1489 b 8 ff.). It is paraphrased or parodied by a score of writers from Polybius xii. 28 to Bacon, Hobbes, More, Erasmus, and Bernard Shaw. Boethius transmitted it to the Middle Ages (Cons. Phil. i. 4. 11). It was always on the lips of Marcus Aurelius. Cf. Capitol, Aurelius i. 1 and iv. 27. It was a standardized topic of compliment to princes in Themistius, Julian, the Panegyrici Latini, and many modern imitators. Among the rulers who have been thus compared with Plato's philosophic king are Marcus Aurelius, Constantine, Arcadius, James I., Frederick the Great, and Napoleon. There is a partial history of the commonplace in T. Sinko's Program, Sententiae Platonicae de philophis regnantibus fata quae fuerint, Krakow, 1904, in the supplementary article of Karl Praechter, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, xiv. (1905) pp. 4579-491, and in the dissertation of Emil Wolff, Francis Bacons Verhaltnis zu Platon, Berlin, 1908, pp. 60 ff.

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