republic (books 6 - 10)
Do you remember that the children, too, were to be taken
to see the battle on horseback; and that if there were no danger
they were to be brought close up and, like young hounds, have
a taste of blood given them?
Yes, I remember.
The same practice may be followed, I said, in all these things
--labors, lessons, dangers--and he who is most at home in all
of them ought to be enrolled in a select number.
At what age?
At the age when the necessary gymnastics are over: the
period, whether of two or three years, which passes in this sort
of training is useless for any other purpose; for sleep and ex-
ercise are unpropitious to learning; and the trial of who is first
in gymnastic exercises is one of the most important tests to
which our youth are subjected.
Certainly, he replied.
After that time those who are selected from the class of
twenty years old will be promoted to higher honor, and the
sciences which they learned without any order in their early
education will now be brought together, and they will be able
to see the natural relationship of them to one another and to
Yes, he said, that is the only kind of knowledge which takes
Yes, I said; and the capacity for such knowledge is the great
criterion of dialectical talent: the comprehensive mind is always
I agree with you, he said.
These, I said, are the points which you must consider; and
those who have most of this comprehension, and who are most
steadfast in their learning, and in their military and other ap-
pointed duties, when they have arrived at the age of thirty will
have to be chosen by you out of the select class, and elevated
to higher honor; and you will have to prove them by the help
of dialectic, in order to learn which of them is able to give up
the use of sight and the other senses, and in company with truth
to attain absolute being: And here, my friend, great caution is
Why great caution?
Do you not remark, I said, how great is the evil which dia-
lectic has introduced?
What evil? he said.
The students of the art are filled with lawlessness.
Quite true, he said.
Do you think that there is anything so very unnatural or in-
excusable in their case? or will you make allowance for them?
In what way make allowance?