republic (books 6 - 10)
In the first place there are their own virtues, their courage,
temperance, and the rest of them, every one of which praise-
worthy qualities (and this is a most singular circumstance)
destroys and distracts from philosophy the soul which is the
possessor of them.
That is very singular, he replied.
Then there are all the ordinary goods of life--beauty, wealth,
strength, rank, and great connections in the State--you under-
stand the sort of things--these also have a corrupting and dis-
I understand; but I should like to know more precisely what
you mean about them.
Grasp the truth as a whole, I said, and in the right way; you
will then have no difficulty in apprehending the preceding re-
marks, and they will no longer appear strange to you.
And how am I to do so? he asked.
Why, I said, we know that all germs or seeds, whether vege-
table or animal, when they fail to meet with proper nutriment,
or climate, or soil, in proportion to their vigor, are all the more
sensitive to the want of a suitable environment, for evil is a
greater enemy to what is good than to what is not.
There is reason in supposing that the finest natures, when
under alien conditions, receive more injury than the inferior,
because the contrast is greater.
And may we not say, Adeimantus, that the most gifted
minds, when they are ill-educated, become pre-eminently bad?
Do not great crimes and the spirit of pure evil spring out of
a fulness of nature ruined by education rather than from any
inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any
very great good or very great evil?
There I think that you are right.
And our philosopher follows the same analogy--he is like
a plant which, having proper nurture, must necessarily grow
and mature into all virtue, but, if sown and planted in an alien
soil, becomes the most noxious of all weeds, unless he be pre-
served by some divine power. Do you really think, as people
so often say, that our youth are corrupted by Sophists, or that
private teachers of the art corrupt them in any degree worth
speaking of? Are not the public who say these things the
greatest of all Sophists? And do they not educate to perfec-
tion young and old, men and women alike, and fashion them
after their own hearts?
When is this accomplished? he said.
When they meet together, and the world sits down at an
assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any
other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they
praise some things which are being said or done, and blame
other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clap-