republic (books 6 - 10)
ling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others;
we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their
class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is
reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the
government would rather not have them. Being self-taught,
they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture
which they have never received. But we have brought you
into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and
of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more
perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able
to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his
turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode,
and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have ac-
quired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the
inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several
images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the
beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State,
which is also yours, will be a reality, and not a dream only, and
will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in
which men fight with one another about shadows only and are
distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a
great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the
rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most
quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager,
Quite true, he replied.
And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their
turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the
greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly
Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the com-
mands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no
doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity,
and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.
Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must
contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than
that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State;
for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are
truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom,
which are the true blessings of life. Whereas, if they go to the
administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their
own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch
the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fight-
ing about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus
arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole
Most true, he replied.
And the only life which looks down upon the life of political
ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any
Indeed, I do not, he said.
And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task?
For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.
Who, then, are those whom we shall compel to be guardians?