laws (books 7 - 12)
there is more difficulty in explaining why we call these two and the
rest of them by the single name of virtue.
Cle. How do you mean?
Ath. I have no difficulty in explaining what I mean. Let us
distribute the subject questions and answers.
Cle. Once more, what do you mean?
Ath. Ask me what is that one thing which call virtue, and then again
speak of as two, one part being courage and the other wisdom. I will
tell you how that occurs:-One of them has to do with fear; in this the
beasts also participate, and quite young children-I mean courage;
for a courageous temper is a gift of nature and not of reason. But
without reason there never has been, or is, or will be a wise and
understanding soul; it is of a different nature.
Cle. That is true.
Ath. I have now told you in what way the two are different, and do
you in return tell me in what way they are one and the same. Suppose
that I ask you in what way the four are one, and when you have
answered me, you will have a right to ask of me in return in what
way they are four; and then let us proceed to enquire whether in the
case of things which have a name and also a definition to them, true
knowledge consists in knowing the name only and not the definition.
Can he who is good for anything be ignorant of all this without
discredit where great and glorious truths are concerned?
Cle. I suppose not.
Ath. And is there anything greater to the legislator and the
guardian of the law, and to him who thinks that he excels all other
men in virtue, and has won the palm of excellence, that these very
qualities of which we are now speaking-courage, temperance, wisdom,
Cle. How can there be anything greater?
Ath. And ought not the interpreters, the teachers the lawgivers, the
guardians of the other citizens, to excel the rest of mankind, and
perfectly to show him who desires to learn and know or whose evil
actions require to be punished and reproved, what is the nature of
virtue and vice? Or shall some poet who has found his way into the
city, or some chance person who pretends to be an instructor of youth,
show himself to be better than him who has won the prize for every
virtue? And can we wonder that when the guardians are not adequate
in speech or action, and have no adequate knowledge of virtue, the
city being unguarded should experience the common fate of cities in
Cle. Wonder! no.
Ath. Well, then, must we do as we said? Or can we give our guardians
a more precise knowledge of virtue in speech and action than the
many have? or is there any way in which our city can be made to
resemble the head and senses of rational beings because possessing
such a guardian power?
Cle. What, Stranger, is the drift of your comparison?
Ath. Do we not see that the city is the trunk, and are not the
younger guardians, who are chosen for their natural gifts, placed in
the head of the state, having their souls all full of eyes, with which
they look about the whole city? They keep watch and hand over their
perceptions to the memory, and inform the elders of all that happens
in the city; and those whom we compared to the mind, because they have
many wise thoughts-that is to say, the old men-take counsel and making
use of the younger men as their ministers, and advising with them-in
this way both together truly preserve the whole state:-Shall this or
some other be the order of our state? Are all our citizens to be equal
in acquirements, or shall there be special persons among them who have
received a more careful training and education?
Cle. That they should be equal, my; good, sir, is impossible.
Ath. Then we ought to proceed to some more exact training than any
which has preceded.