Plato's RepublicPlato's RepublicTHE REPUBLICby Plato(360 B.C.)translated by Benjamin JowettTHE INTRODUCTIONTHE Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exceptionof the Laws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearerapproaches to modern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist;the Politicus or Statesman is more ideal; the form and institutionsof the State are more clearly drawn out in the Laws; as works of art,the Symposium and the Protagoras are of higher excellence. But noother Dialogue of Plato has the same largeness of view and the sameperfection of style; no other shows an equal knowledge of the world,or contains more of those thoughts which are new as well as old,page 1 / 687

and not of one age only but of all. Nowhere in Plato is there a deeperirony or a greater wealth of humor or imagery, or more dramatic power.Nor in any other of his writings is the attempt made to interweavelife and speculation, or to connect politics with philosophy.The Republic is the centre around which the other Dialogues maybe grouped; here philosophy reaches the highest point to which ancientthinkers ever attained. Plato among the Greeks, like Bacon amongthe moderns, was the first who conceived a method of knowledge,although neither of them always distinguished the bare outlineor form from the substance of truth; and both of them had to becontent with an abstraction of science which was not yet realized.He was the greatest metaphysical genius whom the world has seen;and in him, more than in any other ancient thinker, the germs of futureknowledge are contained. The sciences of logic and psychology,which have supplied so many instruments of thought to after-ages, are basedupon the analyses of Socrates and Plato. The principles of definition,the law of contradiction, the fallacy of arguing in a circle,the distinction between the essence and accidents of a thing or notion,between means and ends, between causes and conditions; also the divisionof the mind into the rational, concupiscent, and irascible elements,or of pleasures and desires into necessary and unnecessary-these and other great forms of thought are all of them to be foundin the Republic, and were probably first invented by Plato.The greatest of all logical truths, and the one of which writerson philosophy are most apt to lose sight, the difference betweenwords and things, has been most strenuously insisted on by him,although he has not always avoided the confusion of them in hisown writings. But he does not bind up truth in logical formulae,--page 2 / 687

logic is still veiled in metaphysics; and the science which heimagines to "contemplate all truth and all existence" is very unlikethe doctrine of the syllogism which Aristotle claims to havediscovered.Neither must we forget that the Republic is but the third partof a still larger design which was to have included an idealhistory of Athens, as well as a political and physical philosophy.The fragment of the Critias has given birth to a world-famous fiction,second only in importance to the tale of Troy and the legend of Arthur;and is said as a fact to have inspired some of the early navigatorsof the sixteenth century. This mythical tale, of which the subjectwas a history of the wars of the Athenians against the Islandof Atlantis, is supposed to be founded upon an unfinished poemof Solon, to which it would have stood in the same relationas the writings of the logographers to the poems of Homer.It would have told of a struggle for Liberty, intended to representthe conflict of Persia and Hellas. We may judge from the noblecommencement of the Timaeus, from the fragment of the Critias itself,and from the third book of the Laws, in what manner Plato wouldhave treated this high argument. We can only guess why the greatdesign was abandoned; perhaps because Plato became sensible of someincongruity in a fictitious history, or because he had lost hisinterest in it, or because advancing years forbade the completionof it; and we may please ourselves with the fancy that had thisimaginary narrative ever been finished, we should have found Platohimself sympathizing with the struggle for Hellenic independence,page 3 / 687

singing a hymn of triumph over Marathon and Salamis, perhaps makingthe reflection of Herodotus where he contemplates the growthof the Athenian empire--"How brave a thing is freedom of speech,which has made the Athenians so far exceed every other stateof Hellas in greatness!" or, more probably, attributing the victoryto the ancient good order of Athens and to the favor of Apolloand Athene.Again, Plato may be regarded as the "captain" ('arhchegoz') or leaderof a goodly band of followers; for in the Republic is to be foundthe original of Cicero's De Republica, of St. Augustine's Cityof God, of the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, and of the numerousother imaginary States which are framed upon the same model.The extent to which Aristotle or the Aristotelian school were indebtedto him in the Politics has been little recognized, and the recognitionis the more necessary because it is not made by Aristotle himself.The two philosophers had more in common than they were conscious of;and probably some elements of Plato remain still undetected in Aristotle.In English philosophy too, many affinities may be traced, not onlyin the works of the Cambridge Platonists, but in great originalwriters like Berkeley or Coleridge, to Plato and his ideas.That there is a truth higher than experience, of which the mind bearswitness to herself, is a conviction which in our own generation hasbeen enthusiastically asserted, and is perhaps gaining ground.Of the Greek authors who at the Renaissance brought a newlife into the world Plato has had the greatest influence.The Republic of Plato is also the first treatise upon education,page 4 / 687

of which the writings of Milton and Locke, Rousseau, Jean Paul,and Goethe are the legitimate descendants. Like Dante or Bunyan,he has a revelation of another life; like Bacon, he is profoundlyimpressed with the unity of knowledge; in the early Churchhe exercised a real influence on theology, and at the Revivalof Literature on politics. Even the fragments of his words when"repeated at second-hand" have in all ages ravished the heartsof men, who have seen reflected in them their own higher nature.He is the father of idealism in philosophy, in politics,in literature. And many of the latest conceptions of modern thinkersand statesmen, such as the unity of knowledge, the reign of law,and the equality of the sexes, have been anticipated in a dreamby him.ARGUMENTThe argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the natureof which is first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blameless old man-then discussed on the basis of proverbial morality by Socratesand Polemarchus--then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partiallyexplained by Socrates--reduced to an abstraction by Glauconand Adeimantus, and having become invisible in the individual reappearsat length in the ideal State which is constructed by Socrates.The first care of the rulers is to be education, of which an outlineis drawn after the old Hellenic model, providing only for an improvedreligion and morality, and more simplicity in music and gymnastic,a manlier strain of poetry, and greater harmony of the individualpage 5 / 687

and the State. We are thus led on to the conception of a higher State,in which "no man calls anything his own," and in which there is neither"marrying nor giving in marriage," and "kings are philosophers"and "philosophers are kings;" and there is another and higher education,intellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as well as of art,and not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State ishardly to be realized in this world and would quickly degenerate.To the perfect ideal succeeds the government of the soldierand the lover of honor, this again declining into democracy,and democracy into tyranny, in an imaginary but regular order havingnot much resemblance to the actual facts. When "the wheel has comefull circle" we do not begin again with a new period of human life;but we have passed from the best to the worst, and there we end.The subject is then changed and the old quarrel of poetry andphilosophy which had been more lightly treated in the earlier booksof the Republic is now resumed and fought out to a conclusion.Poetry is discovered to be an imitation thrice removed from the truth,and Homer, as well as the dramatic poets, having been condemnedas an imitator, is sent into banishment along with them.And the idea of the State is supplemented by the revelation of afuture life.The division into books, like all similar divisions, is probably laterthan the age of Plato. The natural divisions are five in number;--( 1)Book I and the first half of Book II down to the paragraph beginning,"I had always admired the genius of Glaucon and Adeimantus,"which is introductory; the first book containing a refutationpage 6 / 687

of the popular and sophistical notions of justice, and concluding,like some of the earlier Dialogues, without arriving at anydefinite result. To this is appended a restatement of the natureof justice according to common opinion, and an answer is demandedto the question--What is justice, stripped of appearances?The second division (2) includes the remainder of the second andthe whole of the third and fourth books, which are mainly occupiedwith the construction of the first State and the first education.The third division (3) consists of the fifth, sixth, and seventh books,in which philosophy rather than justice is the subject of inquiry,and the second State is constructed on principles of communismand ruled by philosophers, and the contemplation of the ideaof good takes the place of the social and political virtues.In the eighth and ninth books (4) the perversions of States and ofthe individuals who correspond to them are reviewed in succession;and the nature of pleasure and the principle of tyranny arefurther analyzed in the individual man. The tenth book (5) isthe conclusion of the whole, in which the relations of philosophyto poetry are finally determined, and the happiness of the citizensin this life, which has now been assured, is crowned by the visionof another.Or a more general division into two parts may be adopted; the first(Books I - IV) containing the description of a State framed generallyin accordance with Hellenic notions of religion and morality,while in the second (Books V - X) the Hellenic State is transformedinto an ideal kingdom of philosophy, of which all other governmentspage 7 / 687

are the perversions. These two points of view are really opposed,and the opposition is only veiled by the genius of Plato.The Republic, like the Phaedrus, is an imperfect whole; the higher lightof philosophy breaks through the regularity of the Hellenic temple,which at last fades away into the heavens. Whether this imperfectionof structure arises from an enlargement of the plan; or from theimperfect reconcilement in the writer's own mind of the strugglingelements of thought which are now first brought together by him;or, perhaps, from the composition of the work at different times-are questions, like the similar question about the Iliad and the Odyssey,which are worth asking, but which cannot have a distinct answer.In the age of Plato there was no regular mode of publication,and an author would have the less scruple in altering or addingto a work which was known only to a few of his friends.There is no absurdity in supposing that he may have laid hislabors aside for a time, or turned from one work to another;and such interruptions would be more likely to occur in the caseof a long than of a short writing. In all attempts to determinethe chronological he order of the Platonic writings on internal evidence,this uncertainty about any single Dialogue being composed at one timeis a disturbing element, which must be admitted to affect longer works,such as the Republic and the Laws, more than shorter ones.But, on the other hand, the seeming discrepancies of the Republicmay only arise out of the discordant elements which the philosopherhas attempted to unite in a single whole, perhaps without beinghimself able to recognize the inconsistency which is obvious to us.For there is a judgment of after ages which few great writers haveever been able to anticipate for themselves. They do not perceivepage 8 / 687

the want of connection in their own writings, or the gaps in theirsystems which are visible enough to those who come after them.In the beginnings of literature and philosophy, amid the firstefforts of thought and language, more inconsistencies occur than now,when the paths of speculation are well worn and the meaning of wordsprecisely defined. For consistency, too, is the growth of time;and some of the greatest creations of the human mind have been wantingin unity. Tried by this test, several of the Platonic Dialogues,according to our modern ideas, appear to be defective, but thedeficiency is no proof that they were composed at different timesor by different hands. And the supposition that the Republic waswritten uninterruptedly and by a continuous effort is in some degreeconfirmed by the numerous references from one part of the workto another.The second title, "Concerning Justice," is not the one bywhich the Republic is quoted, either by Aristotle or generallyin antiquity, and, like the other second titles of the PlatonicDialogues, may therefore be assumed to be of later date.Morgenstern and others have asked whether the definition of justice,which is the professed aim, or the construction of the Stateis the principal argument of the work. The answer is,that the two blend in one, and are two faces of the same truth;for justice is the order of the State, and the State is the visibleembodiment of justice under the conditions of human society.The one is the soul and the other is