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[338a] Nay, it is more reasonable that you should be the speaker. For you do affirm that you know and are able to tell. Don't be obstinate, but do me the favor to reply and don't be chary1 of your wisdom, and instruct Glaucon here and the rest of us.”

When I had spoken thus Glaucon and the others urged him not to be obstinate. It was quite plain that Thrasymachus was eager to speak in order that he might do himself credit, since he believed that he had a most excellent answer to our question. But he demurred and pretended to make a point of my being the respondent. Finally he gave way and then said, [338b] “Here you have the wisdom of Socrates, to refuse himself to teach, but go about and learn from others and not even pay thanks2 therefor.” “That I learn from others,” I said, “you said truly, Thrasymachus. But in saying that I do not pay thanks you are mistaken. I pay as much as I am able. And I am able only to bestow praise. For money I lack.3 But that I praise right willingly those who appear to speak well you will well know forthwith as soon as you have given your answer. [338c] For I think that you will speak well.” “Hearken and hear then,” said he. “I affirm that the just is nothing else than4 the advantage of the stronger.5 WeIl, why don't you applaud? Nay, you'll do anything but that.” “Provided only I first understand your meaning,” said I; “for I don't yet apprehend it. The advantage of the stronger is what you affirm the just to be. But what in the world do you mean by this? I presume you don't intend to affirm this, that if Polydamas the pancratiast is stronger than we are and the flesh of beeves6 is advantageous for him, [338d] for his body, this viand is also for us who are weaker than he both advantageous and just.” “You're a buffoon,7 Socrates, and take my statement8 in the most detrimental sense.” “Not at all, my dear fellow” said I; “I only want you to make your meaning plainer.”9“Don't you know then,” said he, “that some cities are governed by tyrants, in others democracy rules, in others aristocracy?”10“Assuredly.” “And is not this the thing that is strong and has the mastery11 in each—the ruling party?” “Certainly.” [338e] “And each form of government enacts the laws with a view to its own advantage, a democracy democratic laws and tyranny autocratic and the others likewise, and by so legislating they proclaim that the just for their subjects is that which is for their—the rulers'—advantage and the man who deviates12 from this law they chastise as a law-breaker and a wrongdoer. This, then, my good sir, is what I understand as the identical principle of justice that obtains in all states

1 “Grudging.” Cf. Laches 200 B.

2 Cf. Cratylus 391 B.

3 Socrates' poverty (Apology 38 A-B) was denied by some later writers who disliked to have him classed with the Cynics.

4 For this dogmatic formulation of a definition Cf. Theaetetus 151 E.

5 To idealists law is the perfection of reason, or νοῦ διανομή, Laws 714 A; “her seat is in the bosom of God” (Hooker). To the political positivist there is no justice outside of positive law, and “law is the command of a political superior to a political inferior.” “Whatsoever any state decrees and establishes is just for the state while it is in force,”Theaetetus 177 D. The formula “justice is the advantage of the superior” means, as explained in Laws 714, that the ruling class legislates in its own interest, that is, to keep itself in power. This interpretation is here drawn out of Thrasymachus by Socrates' affected misapprehensions (cf. further Pascal, Pensees iv. 4, “la commodite du souverain.” Leibniz approves Thrasymachus's definition: “justum potentiori utile . . . nam Deus ceteris potentior!”).

6 The unwholesomeness of this diet for the ordinary man proves nothing for Plato's alleged vegetarianism. The Athenians ate but little meat.

7 The Greek is stronger—a beastly cad. A common term of abuse in the orators. Cf. Aristophanes Frogs 465, Theophrast.Char. xvii. (Jebb).

8 Cf. 392 C, 394 B, 424 C, Meno 78 C, Euthydemus 295 C, Gorgias 451 Aδικαίως ὑπολαμβάνεις, “you take my meaning fairly.” For complaints of unfair argument cf. 340 D, Charmides 166 C, Meno 80 A, Theaetetus 167 E, Gorgias 461 B-C, 482 E.

9 This is the point. Thrasymachus is represented as challenging assent before explaining his meaning, and Socrates forces him to be more explicit by jocosely putting a perverse interpretation on his words. Similarly in Gorgias 451 E, 453 B, 489 D, 490 C, Laws 714 C. To the misunderstanding of such dramatic passages is due the impression of hasty readers that Plato is a sophist.

10 These three forms of government are mentioned by Pindar, Pyth. ii. 86, Aeschines In Ctes. 6. See 445 D, Whibley, Greek Oligarchies, and Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 62.

11 κρατεῖ with emphasis to suggest κρείττων. Cf. Menexenus 238 D, Xenophon Memorabilia 1. 2. 43. Platonic dialectic proceeds by minute steps and linked synonyms. Cf. 333 A, 339 A, 342 C, 346 A, 353 E, 354 A-B, 369 C, 370 A-B, 379 B, 380-381, 394 B, 400 C, 402 D, 412 D, 433-434, 486, 585 C, Meno 77 B, Lysis 215 B, where L. and S. miss the point.

12 On this view justice is simply τὸ νόμιμον(Xenophon Memorabilia iv. 4. 12; Cf. Gorgias 504 D). This is the doctrine of the “Old Oligarch,” [Xenophon]Rep. Ath. 2. Against this conception of class domination as political justice, Plato (Laws 713 ff.) and Aristotle Politics iii. 7) protest. Cf. Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, chap. ii.: “We only conceive of the State as something equivalent to the class in occupation of the executive government” etc.

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