Persons of the Dialogue
Socrates, who is the narrator.
Adeimantus [Glaucon's brother]
Polemarchus [son of Cephalus]
Thrasymachus [the Chalcedonian]
Cleitophon [son of Aristonymus]
And others who are mute auditors.
The scene is laid in the house of Cephalus at the Piraeus; and
the whole dialogue is narrated by Socrates the day after it actually
took place to Timaeus Hermocrates, Critias, and a nameless person,
who are introduced in the Timaeus.
I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon, the son of Ariston, that
I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to
see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new
thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of
the Thracians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our
prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city;
and at that instant Polemarchus, the son of Cephalus, chanced to catch
sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told
his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by
the cloak behind, and said, Polemarchus desires you to wait.
I turned round, and asked him where his master was.
There he is, said the youth, coming after you, if you will only wait.
Certainly we will, said Glaucon; and in a few minutes Polemarchus
appeared, and with him Adeimantus, Glaucon's brother, Niceratus, the son of
Nicias, and several others who had been at the procession.
Polemarchus said to me, I perceive, Socrates, that you and your
companion are already on your way to the city.
You are not far wrong, I said.
But do you see, he rejoined, how many we are?
And are you stronger than all these? for if not, you will have to remain
where you are.
May there not be the alternative, I said, that we may persuade you to
let us go?
But can you persuade us, if we refuse to listen to you? he said.
Certainly not, replied Glaucon.
Then we are not going to listen; of that you may be assured.
Adeimantus added: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in
honour of the goddess which will take place in the evening?
With horses! I replied. That is a novelty. Will horsemen carry torches
and pass them one to another during the race?
Yes, said Polemarchus; and not only so, but a festival will be
celebrated at night, which you certainly ought to see. Let us rise soon
after supper and see this festival; there will be a gathering of young men,
and we will have a good talk. Stay then, and do not be perverse.
Glaucon said, I suppose, since you insist, that we must.
Very good, I replied.
Accordingly we went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found
his brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and with them Thrasymachus the
Chalcedonian, Charmantides the Paeanian, and Cleitophon, the son of
Aristonymus. There too was Cephalus, the father of Polemarchus, whom I had
not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated
on a cushioned chair, and had a garland on his head, for he had been
sacrificing in the court; and there were some other chairs in the room
arranged in a semicircle, upon which we sat down by him. He saluted me
eagerly, and then he said:
You don't come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought: If I were
still able to go and see you I would not ask you to come to me. But at my
age I can hardly get to the city, and therefore you should come oftener to
the Piraeus. For, let me tell you that the more the pleasures of the body
fade away, the greater to me are the pleasure and charm of conversation. Do
not, then, deny my request, but make our house your resort and keep company
with these young men; we are old friends, and you will be quite at home
I replied: There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus,
than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have
gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire
whether the way is smooth and easy or rugged and difficult. And this is a
question which I should like to ask of you, who have arrived at that time
which the poets call the "threshold of old age": Is life harder toward the
end, or what report do you give of it?
I will tell you, Socrates, he said, what my own feeling is. Men of my
age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says; and
at our meetings the tale of my acquaintance commonly is: I cannot eat, I
cannot drink; the pleasures of youth and love are fled away; there was a
good time once, but now that is gone, and life is no longer life. Some
complain of the slights which are put upon them by relations, and they will
tell you sadly of how many evils their old age is the cause. But to me,
Socrates, these complainers seem to blame that which is not really in
fault. For if old age were the cause, I too, being old, and every other old
man would have felt as they do. But this is not my own experience, nor that
of others whom I have known. How well I remember the aged poet Sophocles,
when in answer to the question, How does love suit with age, Sophocles -
you still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly have I escaped
the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and
furious master. His words have often occurred to my mind since, and they
seem as good to me now as at the time when he uttered them. For certainly
old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the passions relax
their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the grasp not of one
mad master only, but of many. The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets,
and also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same
cause, which is not old age, but men's characters and tempers; for he who
is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to
him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.
I listened in admiration, and wanting to draw him out, that he might go
on - Yes, Cephalus, I said; but I rather suspect that people in general are
not convinced by you when you speak thus; they think that old age sits
lightly upon you, not because of your happy disposition, but because you
are rich, and wealth is well known to be a great comforter.
You are right, he replied; they are not convinced: and there is
something in what they say; not, however, so much as they imagine. I might
answer them as Themistocles answered the Seriphian who was abusing him and
saying that he was famous, not for his own merits but because he was an
"If you had been a native of my country or I of yours, neither of
us would have been famous."
And to those who are not rich and are impatient
of old age, the same reply may be made; for to the good poor man old age
cannot be a light burden, nor can a bad rich man ever have peace with
May I ask, Cephalus, whether your fortune was for the most part
inherited or acquired by you?
Acquired! Socrates; do you want to know how much I acquired? In the art
of making money I have been midway between my father and grandfather: for
my grandfather,whose name I bear, doubled and trebled the value of his
patrimony, that which he inherited being much what I possess now; but my
father, Lysanias, reduced the property below what it is at present; and I
shall be satisfied if I leave to these my sons not less, but a little more,
than I received.
That was why I asked you the question, I replied, because I see that you
are indifferent about money, which is a characteristic rather of those who
have inherited their fortunes than of those who have acquired them; the
makers of fortunes have a second love of money as a creation of their own,
resembling the affection of authors for their own poems, or of parents for
their children, besides that natural love of it for the sake of use and
profit which is common to them and all men. And hence they are very bad
company, for they can talk about nothing but the praises of wealth.
That is true, he said.
Yes, that is very true, but may I ask another question? - What do you
consider to be the greatest blessing which you have reaped from your
One, he said, of which I could not expect easily to convince others. For
let me tell you, Socrates, that when a man thinks himself to be near death,
fears and cares enter into his mind which he never had before; the tales of
a world below and the punishment which is exacted there of deeds done here
were once a laughing matter to him, but now he is tormented with the
thought that they may be true: either from the weakness of age, or because
he is now drawing nearer to that other place, he has a clearer view of
these things; suspicions and alarms crowd thickly upon him, and he begins
to reflect and consider what wrongs he has done to others. And when he
finds that the sum of his transgressions is great he will many a time like
a child start up in his sleep for fear, and he is filled with dark
forebodings. But to him who is conscious of no sin, sweet hope, as Pindar
charmingly says, is the kind nurse of his age:
"Hope," he says, "cherishes the soul of him who lives in justice and
holiness, and is the nurse of his age and the companion of his journey -
which is mightiest to sway the restless soul of man."
How admirable are his words! And the great blessing of riches, I do not
say to every man, but to a good man, is, that he has had no occasion to
deceive or to defraud others, either intentionally or unintentionally; and
when he departs to the world below he is not in any apprehension about
offerings due to the gods or debts which he owes to men. Now to this peace
of mind the possession of wealth greatly contributes; and therefore I say,
that, setting one thing against another, of the many advantages which
wealth has to give, to a man of sense this is in my opinion the greatest.
Well said, Cephalus, I replied; but as concerning justice, what is
it? - to speak the truth and to pay your debts - no more than this? And
this are there not exceptions? Suppose that a friend when in his right mind
has deposited arms with me and he asks for them when he is not in his right
mind, ought I to give them back to him? No one would say that I ought or
that I should be right in doing so, any more than they would say that I
ought always to speak the truth to one who is in his condition.
You are quite right, he replied.
But then, I said, speaking the truth and paying your debts is not a
correct definition of justice.
Quite correct, Socrates, if Simonides is to be believed, said
I fear, said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look after the
sacrifices, and I hand over the argument to Polemarchus and the company.
Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.
To be sure, he answered, and went away laughing to the sacrifices.
Tell me then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simonides say, and
according to you, truly say, about justice?
He said that the repayment of a debt is just, and in saying so he
appears to me to be right.
I shall be sorry to doubt the word of such a wise and inspired man, but
his meaning, though probably clear to you, is the reverse of clear to me.
For he certainly does not mean, as we were just now saying, that I ought to
return a deposit of arms or of anything else to one who asks for it when he
is not in his right senses; and yet a deposit cannot be denied to be a
Then when the person who asks me is not in his right mind I am by no
means to make the return?
When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not
mean to include that case?
Certainly not; for he thinks that a friend ought always to do good to a
friend, and never evil.
You mean that the return of a deposit of gold which is to the injury of
the receiver, if the two parties are friends, is not the repayment of a
debt - that is what you would imagine him to say?
And are enemies also to receive what we owe to them?
To be sure, he said, they are to receive what we owe them; and an enemy,
as I take it, owes to an enemy that which is due or proper to him - that is
to say, evil.
Simonides, then, after the manner of poets, would seem to have spoken
darkly of the nature of justice; for he really meant to say that justice is
the giving to each man what is proper to him, and this he termed a debt.
That must have been his meaning, he said.
By heaven! I replied; and if we asked him what due or proper thing is
given by medicine, and to whom, what answer do you think that he would make
He would surely reply that medicine gives drugs and meat and drink to
And what due or proper thing is given by cookery, and to what?
Seasoning to food.
And what is that which justice gives, and to whom?
If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the preceding
instances, then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to
That is his meaning, then?
I think so.
And who is best able to do good to his friends and evil to his enemies
in time of sickness?
Or when they are on a voyage, amid the perils of the sea?
And in what sort of actions or with a view to what result is the just
man most able to do harm to his enemy and good to his friend?
In going to war against the one and in making alliances with the other.
But when a man is well, my dear Polemarchus, there is no need of a
And he who is not on a voyage has no need of a pilot?
Then in time of peace justice will be of no use?
I am very far from thinking so.
You think that justice may be of use in peace as well as in war?
Like husbandry for the acquisition of corn?
Or like shoemaking for the acquisition of shoes - that is what you mean?
And what similar use or power of acquisition has justice in time of
In contracts, Socrates, justice is of use.
And by contracts you mean partnerships?
But is the just man or the skilful player a more useful and better
partner at a game of draughts?
The skilful player.
And in the laying of bricks and stones is the just man a more useful or
better partner than the builder?
Quite the reverse.
Then in what sort of partnership is the just man a better partner than
the harp-player, as in playing the harp the harp player is certainly a
better partner than the just man?
In a money partnership.
Yes, Polemarchus, but surely not in the use of money; for you do not
want a just man to be your counsellor in the purchase or sale of a horse; a
man who is knowing about horses would be better for that, would he not?
And when you want to buy a ship, the shipwright or the pilot would be
Then what is that joint use of silver or gold in which the just man is
to be preferred?
When you want a deposit to be kept safely.
You mean when money is not wanted, but allowed to lie?
That is to say, justice is useful when money is useless?
That is the inference.
And when you want to keep a pruning-hook safe, then justice is useful to
the individual and to the State; but when you want to use it, then the art
of the vine-dresser?
And when you want to keep a shield or a lyre, and not to use them, you
would say that justice is useful; but when you want to use them, then the
art of the soldier or of the musician?
And so of all other things - justice is useful when they are useless,
useless when they are useful?
That is the inference.
Then justice is not good for much. But let us consider this further
point: Is not he who can best strike a blow in a boxing match or in any
kind of fighting best able to ward off a blow?
And he who is most skilful in preventing or escaping from a disease is
best able to create one?
And he is the best guard of a camp who is best able to steal a march
upon the enemy?
Then he who is a good keeper of anything is also a good thief?
That, I suppose, is to be inferred.
Then if the just man is good at keeping money, he is good at stealing
That is implied in the argument.
Then after all, the just man has turned out to be a thief. And this is a
lesson which I suspect you must have learnt out of Homer; for he, speaking
of Autolycus, the maternal grandfather of Odysseus, who is a favourite of
his, affirms that
"He was excellent above all men in theft and perjury."
And so, you and Homer and Simonides are agreed that justice is an art of
theft; to be practised, however, "for the good of friends and for the harm
of enemies" - that was what you were saying?
No, certainly not that, though I do not now know what I did say; but I
still stand by the latter words.
Well, there is another question: By friends and enemies do we mean those
who are so really, or only in seeming?
Surely, he said, a man may be expected to love those whom he thinks
good, and to hate those whom he thinks evil.
Yes, but do not persons often err about good and evil: many who are not
good seem to be so, and conversely?
That is true.
Then to them the good will be enemies and the evil will be their
And in that case they will be right in doing good to the evil and evil
to the good?
But the good are just and would not do an injustice?
Then according to your argument it is just to injure those who do no
Nay, Socrates; the doctrine is immoral.
Then I suppose that we ought to do good to the just and harm to the
I like that better.
But see the consequence: Many a man who is ignorant of human nature has
friends who are bad friends, and in that case he ought to do harm to them;
and he has good enemies whom he ought to benefit; but, if so, we shall be
saying the very opposite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of
Very true, he said; and I think that we had better correct an error into
which we seem to have fallen in the use of the words "friend" and "enemy."
What was the error, Polemarchus? I asked.
We assumed that he is a friend who seems to be or who is thought good.
And how is the error to be corrected?
We should rather say that he is a friend who is, as well as seems, good;
and that he who seems only and is not good, only seems to be and is not a
friend; and of an enemy the same may be said.
You would argue that the good are our friends and the bad our enemies?
And instead of saying simply as we did at first, that it is just to do
good to our friends and harm to our enemies, we should further say: It is
just to do good to our friends when they are good, and harm to our enemies
when they are evil?
Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.
But ought the just to injure anyone at all?
Undoubtedly he ought to injure those who are both wicked and his
When horses are injured, are they improved or deteriorated?
Deteriorated, that is to say, in the good qualities of horses, not of
Yes, of horses.
And dogs are deteriorated in the good qualities of dogs, and not of
And will not men who are injured be deteriorated in that which is the
proper virtue of man?
And that human virtue is justice?
To be sure.
Then men who are injured are of necessity made unjust?
That is the result.
But can the musician by his art make men unmusical?
Or the horseman by his art make them bad horsemen?
And can the just by justice make men unjust, or speaking generally, can
the good by virtue make them bad?
Any more than heat can produce cold?
Or drought moisture?
Nor can the good harm anyone?
And the just is the good?
Then to injure a friend or anyone else is not the act of a just man, but
of the opposite, who is the unjust?
I think that what you say is quite true, Socrates.
Then if a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and
that good is the debt which a just man owes to his friends, and evil the
debt which he owes to his enemies - to say this is not wise; for it is not
true, if, as has been clearly shown, the injuring of another can be in no
I agree with you, said Polemarchus.
Then you and I are prepared to take up arms against anyone who
attributes such a saying to Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any other
wise man or seer?
I am quite ready to do battle at your side, he said.
Shall I tell you whose I believe the saying to be?
I believe that Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban,
or some other rich and mighty man, who had a great opinion of his own
power, was the first to say that justice is "doing good to your friends and
harm to your enemies."
Most true, he said.
Yes, I said; but if this definition of justice also breaks down, what
other can be offered?
Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus had
made an attempt to get the argument into his own hands, and had been put
down by the rest of the company, who wanted to hear the end. But when
Polemarchus and I had done speaking and there was a pause, he could no
longer hold his peace; and, gathering himself up, he came at us like a wild
beast, seeking to devour us. We were quite panic-stricken at the sight of
He roared out to the whole company: What folly, Socrates, has taken
possession of you all? And why, silly-billies, do you knock under to one
another? I say that if you want really to know what justice is, you should
not only ask but answer, and you should not seek honour to yourself from
the refutation of an opponent, but have your own answer; for there is many
a one who can ask and cannot answer. And now I will not have you say that
justice is duty or advantage or profit or gain or interest, for this sort
of nonsense will not do for me; I must have clearness and accuracy.
[Socrates] I was panic-stricken at his words, and could not look at him
without trembling. Indeed I believe that if I had not fixed my eye upon
him, I should have been struck dumb: but when I saw his fury rising, I
looked at him first, and was therefore able to reply to him.
Thrasymachus, I said, with a quiver, don't be hard upon us. Polemarchus
and I may have been guilty of a little mistake in the argument, but I can
assure you that the error was not intentional. If we were seeking for a
piece of gold, you would not imagine that we were "knocking under to one
another," and so losing our chance of finding it. And why, when we are
seeking for justice, a thing more precious than many pieces of gold, do you
say that we are weakly yielding to one another and not doing our utmost to
get at the truth? Nay, my good friend, we are most willing and anxious to
do so, but the fact is that we cannot. And if so, you people who know all
things should pity us and not be angry with us.
[Thrasymachus] How characteristic of Socrates! he replied, with a bitter
laugh; that's your ironical style! Did I not foresee - have I not already
told you, that whatever he was asked he would refuse to answer, and try
irony or any other shuffle, in order that he might avoid answering?
[Socrates] You are a philosopher, Thrasymachus, I replied, and well know
that if you ask a person what numbers make up twelve, taking care to
prohibit him whom you ask from answering twice six, or three times four, or
six times two, or four times three, "for this sort of nonsense will not do
for me" - then obviously, if that is your way of putting the question, no
can answer you. But suppose that he were to retort: "Thrasymachus, what do
you mean? If one of these numbers which you interdict be the true answer to
the question, am I falsely to say some other number which is not the right
one? - is that your meaning?" - How would you answer him?
[Thrasymachus] Just as if the two cases were at all alike! he said.
[Socrates] Why should they not be? I replied; and even if they are not,
but only appear to be so to the person who is asked, ought he not to say
what he thinks, whether you and I forbid him or not?
[Thrasymachus] I presume then that you are going to make one of the
[Socrates] I dare say that I may, notwithstanding the danger, if upon
reflection I approve of any of them.
[Thrasymachus] But what if I give you an answer about justice other and
better, he said, than any of these? What do you deserve to have done to
[Socrates] Done to me! - as becomes the ignorant, I must learn from the
wise - that is what I deserve to have done to me.
[Thrasymachus] What, and no payment! A pleasant notion!
[Socrates] I will pay when I have the money, I replied.
[Glaucon] But you have, Socrates, said Glaucon: and you, Thrasymachus,
need be under no anxiety about money, for we will all make a contribution
[Thrasymachus] Yes, he replied, and then Socrates will do as he always
does - refuse to answer himself, but take and pull to pieces the answer of
[Socrates] Why, my good friend, I said, how can anyone answer who knows,
and says that he knows, just nothing; and who, even if he has some faint
notions of his own, is told by a man of authority not to utter them?
The natural thing is, that the speaker should be someone like yourself who
professes to know and can tell what he knows. Will you then kindly answer,
for the edification of the company and of myself?
Glaucon and the rest of the company joined in my request, and
Thrasymachus, as anyone might see, was in reality eager to speak; for he
thought that he had an excellent answer, and would distinguish himself. But
at first he affected to insist on my answering; at length he consented to
begin. Behold, he said, the wisdom of Socrates; he refuses to teach
himself, and goes about learning of others, to whom he never even says,
[Socrates] That I learn of others, I replied, is quite true; but that I
am ungrateful I wholly deny. Money I have none, and therefore I pay in
praise, which is all I have; and how ready I am to praise anyone who
appears to me to speak well you will very soon find out when you answer;
for I expect that you will answer well.
[Thrasymachus] Listen, then, he said; I proclaim that justice is
nothing else than the interest of the stronger. And now why do you not
praise me? But of course you won't.
[Socrates] Let me first understand you, I replied. Justice, as you say,
is the interest of the stronger. What, Thrasymachus, is the meaning of
this? You cannot mean to say that because Polydamas, the pancratiast, is
stronger than we are, and finds the eating of beef conducive to his bodily
strength, that to eat beef is therefore equally for our good who are weaker
than he is, and right and just for us?
That's abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in the sense
which is most damaging to the argument.
Not at all, my good sir, I said; I am trying to understand them; and I
wish that you would be a little clearer.
Well, he said, have you never heard that forms of government
differ - there are tyrannies, and there are democracies, and there are
Yes, I know.
And the government is the ruling power in each State?
And the different forms of government make laws democratical,
aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and
these laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice
which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they
punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust. And that is what I mean when I
say that in all States there is the same principle of justice, which is the
interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to have
power, the only reasonable conclusion is that everywhere there is one
principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger.
Now I understand you, I said; and whether you are right or not I will
try to discover. But let me remark that in defining justice you have
yourself used the word "interest," which you forbade me to use. It is true,
however, that in your definition the words "of the stronger" are added.
A small addition, you must allow, he said.
Great or small, never mind about that: we must first inquire whether
what you are saying is the truth. Now we are both agreed that justice is
interest of some sort, but you go on to say "of the stronger"; about this
addition I am not so sure, and must therefore consider further.
I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for subjects to
obey their rulers?
But are the rulers of States absolutely infallible, or are they
sometimes liable to err?
To be sure, he replied, they are liable to err?
Then in making their laws they may sometimes make them rightly, and
When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest;
when they are mistaken, contrary to their interest; you admit that?
And the laws which they make must be obeyed by their subjects - and that
is what you call justice?
Then justice, according to your argument, is not only obedience to the
interest of the stronger, but the reverse?
What is that you are saying? he asked.
I am only repeating what you are saying, I believe. But let us consider:
Have we not admitted that the rulers may be mistaken about their own
interest in what they command, and also that to obey them is justice? Has
not that been admitted?
Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest
of the stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done
which are to their own injury. For if, as you say, justice is the obedience
which the subject renders to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men,
is there any escape from the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to
do, not what is for the interest, but what is for the injury of the
Nothing can be clearer, Socrates, said Polemarchus.
Yes, said Cleitophon, interposing, if you are allowed to be his witness.
But there is no need of any witness, said Polemarchus, for Thrasymachus
himself acknowledges that rulers may sometime command what is not for their
own interest, and that for subjects to obey them is justice.
Yes, Polemarchus - Thrasymachus said that for subjects to do what was
commanded by their rulers is just.
Yes, Cleitophon, but he also said that justice is the interest of the
stronger, and, while admitting both these propositions, he further
acknowledged that the stronger may command the weaker who are his subjects
to do what is not for his own interest; whence follows that justice is the
injury quite as much as the interest of the stronger.
But, said Cleitophon, he meant by the interest of the stronger what the
stronger thought to be his interest - this was what the weaker had to do;
this was affirmed by him to be justice.
[Polemarchus] Those were not his words, rejoined Polemarchus.
Never mind, I replied, if he now says that they are, let us accept his
statement. Tell me, Thrasymachus, I said, did you mean by justice what the
stronger thought to be his interest, whether really so or not?
[Thrasymachus] Certainly not, he said. Do you suppose that I call him
who is mistaken
the stronger at the time when he is mistaken?
Yes, I said, my impression was that you did so, when you admitted that
the ruler was not infallible, but might be sometimes mistaken.
[Thrasymachus] You argue like an informer, Socrates. Do you mean, for
example, that he
who is mistaken about the sick is a physician in that he is mistaken? or
that he who errs in arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian
at the time when he is making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True,
we say that the physician or arithmetician or grammarian has made a
mistake, but this is only a way of speaking; for the fact is that neither
the grammarian nor any other person of skill ever makes a mistake in so far
as he is what his name implies; they none of them err unless their skill
fails them, and then they cease to be skilled artists. No artist or sage or
ruler errs at the time when he is what his name implies; though he is
commonly said to err, and I adopted the common mode of speaking. But to be
perfectly accurate, since you are such a lover of accuracy, we should say
that the ruler, in so far as he is a ruler, is unerring, and, being
unerring, always commands that which is for his own interest; and the
subject is required to execute his commands; and therefore, as I said at
first and now repeat, justice is the interest of the stronger.
Indeed, Thrasymachus, and do I really appear to you to argue like an
[Thrasymachus] Certainly, he replied.
And do you suppose that I ask these questions with any design of
injuring you in the argument?
Nay, he replied, "suppose" is not the word - I know it; but you will be
found out, and by sheer force of argument you will never prevail.
I shall not make the attempt, my dear man; but to avoid any
misunderstanding occurring between us in future, let me ask, in what sense
do you speak of a ruler or stronger whose interest, as you were saying, he
being the superior, it is just that the inferior should execute - is he a
ruler in the popular or in the strict sense of the term?
In the strictest of all senses, he said. And now cheat and play the
informer if you can; I ask no quarter at your hands. But you never will be
And do you imagine, I said, that I am such a madman as to try and cheat
Thrasymachus? I might as well shave a lion.
Why, he said, you made the attempt a minute ago, and you failed.
Enough, I said, of these civilities. It will be better that I should ask
you a question: Is the physician, taken in that strict sense of which you
are speaking, a healer of the sick or a maker of money? And remember that I
am now speaking of the true physician.
A healer of the sick, he replied.
And the pilot - that is to say, the true pilot - is he a captain of
or a mere sailor?
A captain of sailors.
The circumstance that he sails in the ship is not to be taken into
account; neither is he to be called a sailor; the name pilot by which he is
distinguished has nothing to do with sailing, but is significant of his
skill and of his authority over the sailors.
Very true, he said.
Now, I said, every art has an interest?
For which the art has to consider and provide?
Yes, that is the aim of art.
And the interest of any art is the perfection of it - this and nothing
What do you mean?
I mean what I may illustrate negatively by the example of the body.
Suppose you were to ask me whether the body is self-sufficing or has wants,
I should reply: Certainly the body has wants; for the body may be ill and
require to be cured, and has therefore interests to which the art of
medicine ministers; and this is the origin and intention of medicine, as
you will acknowledge. Am I not right?
Quite right, he replied.
But is the art of medicine or any other art faulty or deficient in any
quality in the same way that the eye may be deficient in sight or the ear
fail of hearing, and therefore requires another art to provide for the
interests of seeing and hearing - has art in itself, I say, any similar
liability to fault or defect, and does every art require another
supplementary art to provide for its interests, and that another and
another without end? Or have the arts to look only after their own
interests? Or have they no need either of themselves or of another? -
no faults or defects, they have no need to correct them, either by the
exercise of their own art or of any other; they have only to consider the
interest of their subject-matter. For every art remains pure and faultless
while remaining true - that is to say, while perfect and unimpaired. Take
words in your precise sense, and tell me whether I am not right.
Then medicine does not consider the interest of medicine, but the
interest of the body?
True, he said.
Nor does the art of horsemanship consider the interests of the art of
horsemanship, but the interests of the horse; neither do any other arts
care for themselves, for they have no needs; they care only for that which
is the subject of their art?
[Thrasymachus] True, he said.
[Socrates] But surely, Thrasymachus, the arts are the superiors and
rulers of their own subjects?
[Thrasymachus] To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.
[Socrates] Then, I said, no science or art considers or enjoins the
interest of the stronger or superior, but only the interest of the subject
He made an attempt to contest this proposition also, but finally
Then, I continued, no physician, in so far as he is a physician,
considers his own good in what he prescribes, but the good of his patient;
for the true physician is also a ruler having the human body as a subject,
and is not a mere money-maker; that has been admitted?
And the pilot likewise, in the strict sense of the term, is a ruler of
sailors, and not a mere sailor?
That has been admitted.
And such a pilot and ruler will provide and prescribe for the interest
of the sailor who is under him, and not for his own or the ruler's
He gave a reluctant "Yes."
[Socrates] Then, I said, Thrasymachus, there is no one in any rule who,
in so far as he is a ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his own
interest, but always what is for the interest of his subject or suitable to
his art; to that he looks, and that alone he considers in everything which
he says and does.
When we had got to this point in the argument, and everyone saw that the
definition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead of
replying to me, said, Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?
[Socrates] Why do you ask such a question, I said, when you ought rather
to be answering?
Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose: she has not
even taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.
[Socrates] What makes you say that? I replied.
[Thrasymachus] Because you fancy that the shepherd or neatherd fattens
or tends the
sheep or oxen with a view to their own good and not to the good of himself
or his master; and you further imagine that the rulers of States, if they
are true rulers, never think of their subjects as sheep, and that they are
not studying their own advantage day and night. Oh, no; and so entirely
astray are you in your ideas about the just and unjust as not even to know
that justice and the just are in reality another's good; that is to say,
the interest of the ruler and stronger, and the loss of the subject and
servant; and injustice the opposite; for the unjust is lord over the truly
simple and just: he is the stronger, and his subjects do what is for his
interest, and minister to his happiness, which is very far from being their
own. Consider further, most foolish Socrates, that the just is always a
loser in comparison with the unjust. First of all, in private contracts:
wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you will find that, when the
partnership is dissolved, the unjust man has always more and the just less.
Secondly, in their dealings with the State: when there is an income-tax,
the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of
income; and when there is anything to be received the one gains nothing and
the other much. Observe also what happens when they take an office; there
is the just man neglecting his affairs and perhaps suffering other losses,
and getting nothing out of the public, because he is just; moreover he is
hated by his friends and acquaintance for refusing to serve them in
unlawful ways. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjust man. I am
speaking, as before, of injustice on a large scale in which the advantage
of the unjust is most apparent; and my meaning will be most clearly seen if
we turn to that highest form of injustice in which the criminal is the
happiest of men, and the sufferers or those who refuse to do injustice are
the most miserable - that is to say tyranny, which by fraud and force takes
away the property of others, not little by little but wholesale;
comprehending in one, things sacred as well as profane, private and public;
for which acts of wrong, if he were detected perpetrating any one of them
singly, he would be punished and incur great disgrace - they who do such
wrong in particular cases are called robbers of temples, and man-stealers
and burglars and swindlers and thieves. But when a man besides taking away
the money of the citizens has made slaves of them, then, instead of these
names of reproach, he is termed happy and blessed, not only by the citizens
but by all who hear of his having achieved the consummation of injustice.
For mankind censure injustice, fearing that they may be the victims of it
and not because they shrink from committing it. And thus, as I have shown,
Socrates, injustice, when on a sufficient scale, has more strength and
freedom and mastery than justice; and, as I said at first, justice is the
interest of the stronger, whereas injustice is a man's own profit and
Thrasymachus, when he had thus spoken, having, like a bathman, deluged
our ears with his words, had a mind to go away. But the company would not
let him; they insisted that he should remain and defend his position; and I
myself added my own humble request that he would not leave us.
Thrasymachus, I said to him, excellent man, how suggestive are your
remarks! And are you going to run away before you have fairly taught or
learned whether they are true or not? Is the attempt to determine the way
of man's life so small a matter in your eyes - to determine how life may be
passed by each one of us to the greatest advantage?
[Thrasymachus] And do I differ from you, he said, as to the importance
of the inquiry?
[Socrates] You appear rather, I replied, to have no care or thought
about us, Thrasymachus - whether we live better or worse from not knowing
what you say you know, is to you a matter of indifference. Prithee, friend,
do not keep your knowledge to yourself; we are a large party; and any
benefit which you confer upon us will be amply rewarded. For my own part I
openly declare that I am not convinced, and that I do not believe injustice
to be more gainful than justice, even if uncontrolled and allowed to have
free play. For, granting that there may be an unjust man who is able to
commit injustice either by fraud or force, still this does not convince me
of the superior advantage of injustice, and there may be others who are in
the same predicament with myself. Perhaps we may be wrong; if so, you in
your wisdom should convince us that we are mistaken in preferring justice
And how am I to convince you, he said, if you are not already convinced
by what I have just said; what more can I do for you? Would you have me put
the proof bodily into your souls?
[Socrates] Heaven forbid! I said; I would only ask you to be consistent;
or, if you change, change openly and let there be no deception. For I must
remark, Thrasymachus, if you will recall what was previously said, that
although you began by defining the true physician in an exact sense, you
did not observe a like exactness when speaking of the shepherd; you thought
that the shepherd as a shepherd tends the sheep not with a view to their
own good, but like a mere diner or banqueter with a view to the pleasures
of the table; or, again, as a trader for sale in the market, and not as a
shepherd. Yet surely the art of the shepherd is concerned only with the
good of his subjects; he has only to provide the best for them, since the
perfection of the art is already insured whenever all the requirements of
it are satisfied. And that was what I was saying just now about the ruler.
I conceived that the art of the ruler, considered as a ruler, whether in a
State or in private life, could only regard the good of his flock or
subjects; whereas you seem to think that the rulers in States, that is to
say, the true rulers, like being in authority.
Think! Nay, I am sure of it.
Then why in the case of lesser offices do men never take them willingly
without payment, unless under the idea that they govern for the advantage
not of themselves but of others? Let me ask you a question: Are not the
several arts different, by reason of their each having a separate function?
And, my dear illustrious friend, do say what you think, that we may make a
Yes, that is the difference, he replied.
And each art gives us a particular good and not merely a general
one - medicine, for example, gives us health; navigation, safety at sea,
Yes, he said.
And the art of payment has the special function of giving pay: but we do
not confuse this with other arts, any more than the art of the pilot is to
be confused with the art of medicine, because the health of the pilot may
be improved by a sea voyage. You would not be inclined to say, would you?
that navigation is the art of medicine, at least if we are to adopt your
exact use of language?
Or because a man is in good health when he receives pay you would not
say that the art of payment is medicine?
I should not.
Nor would you say that medicine is the art of receiving pay because a
man takes fees when he is engaged in healing?
And we have admitted, I said, that the good of each art is specially
confined to the art?
Then, if there be any good which all artists have in common, that is to
be attributed to something of which they all have the common use?
True, he replied.
And when the artist is benefited by receiving pay the advantage is
gained by an additional use of the art of pay, which is not the art
professed by him?
He gave a reluctant assent to this.
Then the pay is not derived by the several artists from their respective
arts. But the truth is, that while the art of medicine gives health, and
the art of the builder builds a house, another art attends them which is
the art of pay. The various arts may be doing their own business and
benefiting that over which they preside, but would the artist receive any
benefit from his art unless he were paid as well?
I suppose not.
But does he therefore confer no benefit when he works for nothing?
[Thrasymachus] Certainly, he confers a benefit.
[Socrates] Then now, Thrasymachus, there is no longer any doubt that
neither arts nor governments provide for their own interests; but, as we
were before saying, they rule and provide for the interests of their
subjects who are the weaker and not the stronger - to their good they
and not to the good of the superior.
And this is the reason, my dear Thrasymachus, why, as I was just now
saying, no one is willing to govern; because no one likes to take in hand
the reformation of evils which are not his concern, without remuneration.
For, in the execution of his work, and in giving his orders to another, the
true artist does not regard his own interest, but always that of his
subjects; and therefore in order that rulers may be willing to rule, they
must be paid in one of three modes of payment, money, or honour, or a
penalty for refusing.
[Glaucon] What do you mean, Socrates? said Glaucon. The first two modes
are intelligible enough, but what the penalty is I do not understand, or
how a penalty can be a payment.
You mean that you do not understand the nature of this payment which to
the best men is the great inducement to rule? Of course you know that
ambition and avarice are held to be, as indeed they are, a disgrace?
[Glaucon] Very true.
[Socrates] And for this reason, I said, money and honour have no
attraction for them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment
for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping
themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not
being ambitious they do not care about honour. Wherefore necessity must be
laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve from the fear of
punishment. And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to
take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed
dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses
to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And the
fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because
they would, but because they cannot help - not under the idea that they are
going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and
because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to anyone who is
better than themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think
that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office
would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present;
then we should have plain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature
to regard his own interest, but that of his subjects; and everyone who knew
this would choose rather to receive a benefit from another than to have the
trouble of conferring one. So far am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that
justice is the interest of the stronger. This latter question need not be
further discussed at present; but when Thrasymachus says that the life of
the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just, his new statement
appears to me to be of a far more serious character. Which of us has spoken
truly? And which sort of life, Glaucon, do you prefer?
[Glaucon] I for my part deem the life of the just to be the more
[Socrates] Did you hear all the advantages of the unjust which
Thrasymachus was rehearsing?
[Glaucon] Yes, I heard him, he replied, but he has not convinced me.
[Socrates] Then shall we try to find some way of convincing him, if we
can, that he is saying what is not true?
Most certainly, he replied.
[Socrates] If, I said, he makes a set speech and we make another
recounting all the advantages of being just, and he answers and we rejoin,
there must be a numbering and measuring of the goods which are claimed on
either side, and in the end we shall want judges to decide; but if we
proceed in our inquiry as we lately did, by making admissions to one
another, we shall unite the offices of judge and advocate in our own
Very good, he said.
[Socrates] And which method do I understand you to prefer? I said.
[Thrasymachus] That which you propose.
[Socrates] Well, then, Thrasymachus, I said, suppose you begin at the
beginning and answer me. You say that perfect injustice is more gainful
than perfect justice?
[Thrasymachus] Yes, that is what I say, and I have given you my reasons.
And what is your view about them? Would you call one of them virtue and
the other vice?
[Socrates] I suppose that you would call justice virtue and injustice
What a charming notion! So likely too, seeing that I affirm injustice to
be profitable and justice not.
What else then would you say?
The opposite, he replied.
And would you call justice vice?
No, I would rather say sublime simplicity.
Then would you call injustice malignity?
No; I would rather say discretion.
And do the unjust appear to you to be wise and good?
[Thrasymachus] Yes, he said; at any rate those of them who are able to
unjust, and who have the power of subduing States and nations; but perhaps
you imagine me to be talking of cutpurses.
Even this profession, if undetected, has advantages, though they are not
to be compared with those of which I was just now speaking.
I do not think that I misapprehend your meaning, Thrasymachus, I
replied; but still I cannot hear without amazement that you class injustice
with wisdom and virtue, and justice with the opposite.
[Thrasymachus] Certainly I do so class them.
Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unanswerable ground;
for if the injustice which you were maintaining to be profitable had been
admitted by you as by others to be vice and deformity, an answer might have
been given to you on received principles; but now I perceive that you will
call injustice honourable and strong, and to the unjust you will attribute
all the qualities which were attributed by us before to the just, seeing
that you do not hesitate to rank injustice with wisdom and virtue.
[Thrasymachus] You have guessed most infallibly, he replied.
[Socrates] Then I certainly ought not to shrink from going through with
the argument so long as I have reason to think that you, Thrasymachus, are
speaking your real mind; for I do believe that you are now in earnest and
are not amusing yourself at our expense.
[Thrasymachus] I may be in earnest or not, but what is that to you? - to
argument is your business.
[Socrates] Very true, I said; that is what I have to do: But will you be
so good as answer yet one more question? Does the just man try to gain any
advantage over the just?
Far otherwise; if he did he would not be the simple amusing creature
which he is.
And would he try to go beyond just action?
He would not.
And how would he regard the attempt to gain an advantage over the
unjust; would that be considered by him as just or unjust?
He would think it just, and would try to gain the advantage; but he
would not be able.
Whether he would or would not be able, I said, is not to the point. My
question is only whether the just man, while refusing to have more than
another just man, would wish and claim to have more than the unjust?
Yes, he would.
And what of the unjust - does he claim to have more than the just man
to do more than is just?
Of course, he said, for he claims to have more than all men.
And the unjust man will strive and struggle to obtain more than the just
man or action, in order that he may have more than all?
We may put the matter thus, I said - the just does not desire more than
his like, but more than his unlike, whereas the unjust desires more than
both his like and his unlike?
Nothing, he said, can be better than that statement.
And the unjust is good and wise, and the just is neither?
Good again, he said.
And is not the unjust like the wise and good, and the just unlike them?
Of course, he said, he who is of a certain nature, is like those who are
of a certain nature; he who is not, not.
Each of them, I said, is such as his like is?
[Thrasymachus] Certainly, he replied.
[Socrates] Very good, Thrasymachus, I said; and now to take the case of
the arts: you would admit that one man is a musician and another not a
And which is wise and which is foolish?
Clearly the musician is wise, and he who is not a musician is foolish.
And he is good in as far as he is wise, and bad in as far as he is
And you would say the same sort of thing of the physician?
And do you think, my excellent friend, that a musician when he adjusts
the lyre would desire or claim to exceed or go beyond a musician in the
tightening and loosening the strings?
I do not think that he would.
But he would claim to exceed the non-musician?
And what would you say of the physician? In prescribing meats and drinks
would he wish to go beyond another physician or beyond the practice of
He would not.
But he would wish to go beyond the non-physician?
And about knowledge and ignorance in general; see whether you think that
any man who has knowledge ever would wish to have the choice of saying or
doing more than another man who has knowledge. Would he not rather say or
do the same as his like in the same case?
That, I suppose, can hardly be denied.
And what of the ignorant? would he not desire to have more than either
the knowing or the ignorant?
I dare say.
And the knowing is wise?
And the wise is good?
Then the wise and good will not desire to gain more than his like, but
more than his unlike and opposite?
I suppose so.
Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than both?
[Socrates] But did we not say, Thrasymachus, that the unjust goes beyond
both his like and unlike? Were not these your words?
[Thrasymachus] They were.
And you also said that the just will not go beyond his like, but his
Then the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the evil
That is the inference.
And each of them is such as his like is?
That was admitted.
Then the just has turned out to be wise and good, and the unjust evil
[Socrates] Thrasymachus made all these admissions, not fluently, as I
repeat them, but with extreme reluctance; it was a hot summer's day, and
the perspiration poured from him in torrents; and then I saw what I had
never seen before, Thrasymachus blushing. As we were now agreed that
justice was virtue and wisdom, and injustice vice and ignorance, I
proceeded to another point:
Well, I said, Thrasymachus, that matter is now settled; but were we not
also saying that injustice had strength - do you remember?
[Thrasymachus] Yes, I remember, he said, but do not suppose that I
approve of what you
are saying or have no answer; if, however, I were to answer, you would be
quite certain to accuse me of haranguing; therefore either permit me to
have my say out, or if you would rather ask, do so, and I will answer "Very
good," as they say to story-telling old women, and will nod "Yes" and "No."
Certainly not, I said, if contrary to your real opinion.
Yes, he said, I will, to please you, since you will not let me speak.
What else would you have?
Nothing in the world, I said; and if you are so disposed I will ask and
you shall answer.
Then I will repeat the question which I asked before, in order that our
examination of the relative nature of justice and injustice may be carried
on regularly. A statement was made that injustice is stronger and more
powerful than justice, but now justice, having been identified with wisdom
and virtue, is easily shown to be stronger than injustice, if injustice is
ignorance; this can no longer be questioned by anyone. But I want to view
the matter, Thrasymachus, in a different way: You would not deny that a
State may be unjust and may be unjustly attempting to enslave other States,
or may have already enslaved them, and may be holding many of them in
[Thrasymachus] True, he replied; and I will add that the best and most
State will be most likely to do so.
I know, I said, that such was your position; but what I would further
consider is, whether this power which is possessed by the superior State
can exist or be exercised without justice or only with justice.
[Thrasymachus] If you are right in your view, and justice is wisdom,
then only with
justice; but if I am right, then without justice.
[Socrates] I am delighted, Thrasymachus, to see you not only nodding
assent and dissent, but making answers which are quite excellent.
[Thrasymachus] That is out of civility to you, he replied.
You are very kind, I said; and would you have the goodness also to
inform me, whether you think that a State, or an army, or a band of robbers
and thieves, or any other gang of evildoers could act at all if they
injured one another? No, indeed, he said, they could not.
But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act
And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and
fighting, and justice imparts harmony and friendship; is not that true,
[Thrasymachus] I agree, he said, because I do not wish to quarrel with
How good of you, I said; but I should like to know also whether
injustice, having this tendency to arouse hatred, wherever existing, among
slaves or among freemen, will not make them hate one another and set them
at variance and render them incapable of common action?
And even if injustice be found in two only, will they not quarrel and
fight, and become enemies to one another and to the just?
And suppose injustice abiding in a single person, would your wisdom say
that she loses or that she retains her natural power?
Let us assume that she retains her power.
Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a nature that
wherever she takes up her abode, whether in a city, in an army, in a
family, or in any other body, that body is, to begin with, rendered
incapable of united action by reason of sedition and distraction? and does
it not become its own enemy and at variance with all that opposes it, and
with the just? Is not this the case?
And is not injustice equally fatal when existing in a single person - in
the first place rendering him incapable of action because he is not at
unity with himself, and in the second place making him an enemy to himself
and the just? Is not that true, Thrasymachus?
[Thrasymachus] Yes. And, O my friend, I said, surely the gods are just?
Granted that they are. But, if so, the unjust will be the enemy of the
gods, and the just will be their friends?
Feast away in triumph, and take your fill of the argument; I will not
oppose you, lest I should displease the company. Well, then, proceed with
your answers, and let me have the remainder of my repast. For we have
already shown that the just are clearly wiser and better and abler than the
unjust, and that the unjust are incapable of common action; nay, more, that
to speak as we did of men who are evil acting at any time vigorously
together, is not strictly true, for, if they had been perfectly evil, they
would have laid hands upon one another; but it is evident that there must
have been some remnant of justice in them, which enabled them to combine;
if there had not been they would have injured one another as well as their
victims; they were but half-villains in their enterprises; for had they
been whole villains, and utterly unjust, they would have been utterly
incapable of action. That, as I believe, is the truth of the matter, and
not what you said at first. But whether the just have a better and happier
life than the unjust is a further question which we also proposed to
consider. I think that they have, and for the reasons which I have given;
but still I should like to examine further, for no light matter is at
stake, nothing less than the rule of human life.
I will proceed by asking a question: Would you not say that a horse has
And the end or use of a horse or of anything would be that which could
not be accomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other thing?
I do not understand, he said.
Let me explain: Can you see, except with the eye?
Or hear, except with the ear?
No. These, then, may be truly said to be the ends of these organs?
But you can cut off a vine-branch with a dagger or with a chisel, and in
many other ways?
And yet not so well as with a pruning-hook made for the purpose?
May we not say that this is the end of a pruning-hook?
Then now I think you will have no difficulty in understanding my meaning
when I asked the question whether the end of anything would be that which
could not be accomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other thing?
I understand your meaning, he said, and assent.
And that to which an end is appointed has also an excellence? Need I ask
again whether the eye has an end?
And has not the eye an excellence?
And the ear has an end and an excellence also?
And the same is true of all other things; they have each of them an end
and a special excellence?
That is so.
Well, and can the eyes fulfil their end if they are wanting in their own
proper excellence and have a defect instead?
How can they, he said, if they are blind and cannot see?
You mean to say, if they have lost their proper excellence, which is
sight; but I have not arrived at that point yet. I would rather ask the
question more generally, and only inquire whether the things which fulfil
their ends fulfil them by their own proper excellence, and fail of
fulfilling them by their own defect?
Certainly, he replied.
I might say the same of the ears; when deprived of their own proper
excellence they cannot fulfil their end?
#353d] And the same observation will apply to all other things?
Well; and has not the soul an end which nothing else can fulfil? for
example, to superintend and command and deliberate and the like. Are not
these functions proper to the soul, and can they rightly be assigned to any
To no other.
And is not life to be reckoned among the ends of the soul?
Assuredly, he said.
And has not the soul an excellence also?
And can she or can she not fulfil her own ends when deprived of
Then an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler and superintendent,
and the good soul a good ruler?
And we have admitted that justice is the excellence of the soul, and
injustice the defect of the soul?
That has been admitted.
Then the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man
will live ill?
That is what your argument proves.
And he who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the
reverse of happy?
Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable?
So be it.
But happiness, and not misery, is profitable?
[Socrates] Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice can never be more
profitable than justice.
[Thrasymachus] Let this, Socrates, he said, be your entertainment at the
[Socrates] For which I am indebted to you, I said, now that you have
grown gentle toward me and have left off scolding. Nevertheless, I have not
been well entertained; but that was my own fault and not yours. As an
epicure snatches a taste of every dish which is successively brought to
table, he not having allowed himself time to enjoy the one before, so have
I gone from one subject to another without having discovered what I sought
at first, the nature of justice. I left that inquiry and turned away to
consider whether justice is virtue and wisdom, or evil and folly; and when
there arose a further question about the comparative advantages of justice
and injustice, I could not refrain from passing on to that. And the result
of the whole discussion has been that I know nothing at all. For I know not
what justice is, and therefore I am not likely to know whether it is or is
not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is happy or unhappy.
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