be friends with masters, nor bad men with good, even when they occupy equal positions—for when equality is given to unequal things, the resultant will be unequal, unless due measure is applied; and it is because of these two conditions that political organizations are filled with feuds. There is an old and true saying that “equality produces amity,” which is right well and fitly spoken; but what the equality is which is capable of doing this is a very troublesome question, since it is very far from being clear.
For there are two kinds of equality1
which, though identical in name, are often almost opposites in their practical results. The one of these any State or lawgiver is competent to apply in the assignment of honors,—namely, the equality determined by measure, weight and number,—by simply employing the lot to give even results in the distributions; but the truest and best form of equality is not an easy thing for everyone to discern. It is the judgment of Zeus, and men it never assists save in small measure, but in so far as it does assist either States or individuals,
it produces all things good; for it dispenses more to the greater and less to the smaller, giving due measure to each according to nature; and with regard to honors also, by granting the greater to those that are greater in goodness, and the less to those of the opposite character in respect of goodness and education, it assigns in proportion what is fitting to each. Indeed, it is precisely this which constitutes for us “political justice,” which is the object we must strive for, Clinias; this equality is what we must aim at, now that we are settling the State
that is being planted. And whoever founds a State elsewhere at any time must make this same object the aim of his legislation,—not the advantage of a few tyrants, or of one, or of some form of democracy, but justice always; and this consists in what we have just stated, namely, the natural equality given on each occasion to things unequal. None the less, it is necessary for every State at times to employ even this equality in a modified degree, if it is to avoid involving itself in intestine discord, in one section or another,—for the reasonable and considerate,
wherever employed, is an infringement of the perfect and exact, as being contrary to strict justice; for the same reason it is necessary to make use also of the equality of the lot, on account of the discontent of the masses, and in doing so to pray, calling upon God and Good Luck to guide for them the lot aright towards the highest justice. Thus it is that necessity compels us to employ both forms of equality;