#445]Still our old
question of the comparative advantage of justice and
injustice has not been answered: Which is the more profitable, to be just
and act justly and practise virtue, whether seen or unseen of gods and men,
or to be unjust and act unjustly, if only unpunished and unreformed?
In my judgment, Socrates, the question has now become ridiculous. We
know that, when the bodily constitution is gone, life is no longer
endurable, though pampered with all kinds of meats and drinks, and having
all wealth and all power; and shall we be told that when the very essence
of the vital principle is undermined and corrupted, life is still worth
having to a man, if only he be allowed to do whatever he likes with the
single exception that he is not to acquire justice and virtue, or to escape
from injustice and vice; assuming them both to be such as we have
Yes, I said, the question is, as you say, ridiculous. Still, as we are
near the spot at which we may see the truth in the clearest manner with our
own eyes, let us not faint by the way.
Certainly not, he replied.
Come up hither, I said, and behold the various forms of vice, those of
them, I mean, which are worth looking at.
I am following you, he replied: proceed.
I said: The argument seems to have reached a height from which, as from
some tower of speculation, a man may look down and see that virtue is one,
but that the forms of vice are innumerable; there being four special ones
which are deserving of note.
What do you mean? he said.
I mean, I replied, that there appear to be as many forms of the soul as
there are distinct forms of the State.
There are five of the State, and five of the soul, I said.
What are they?
The first, I said, is that which we have been describing, and which may
be said to have two names, monarchy and aristocracy, according as rule is
exercised by one distinguished man or by many.
True, he replied.
But I regard the two names as describing one form only; for whether the
government is in the hands of one or many, if the governors have been
trained in the manner which we have supposed, the fundamental laws of the
State will be maintained.
That is true, he replied.
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