republic (books 6 - 10)
And how long is this stage of their lives to last?
Fifteen years, I answered; and when they have reached fifty
years of age, then let those who still survive and have distin-
guished themselves in every action of their lives, and in every
branch of knowledge, come at last to their consummation: the
time has now arrived at which they must raise the eye of the
soul to the universal light which lightens all things, and behold
the absolute good; for that is the pattern according to which
they are to order the State and the lives of individuals, and the
remainder of their own lives also; making philosophy their
chief pursuit, but, when their turn comes, toiling also at politics
and ruling for the public good, not as though they were per-
forming some heroic action, but simply as a matter of duty;
and when they have brought up in each generation others like
themselves and left them in their place to be governors of the
State, then they will depart to the Islands of the Blessed and
dwell there; and the city will give them public memorials and
sacrifices and honor them, if the Pythian oracle consent, as
demigods, but if not, as in any case blessed and divine.
You are a sculptor, Socrates, and have made statues of our
governors faultless in beauty.
Yes, I said, Glaucon, and of our governesses too; for you
must not suppose that what I have been saying applies to men
only and not to women as far as their natures can go.
There you are right, he said, since we have made them to
share in all things like the men.
Well, I said, and you would agree (would you not?) that
what has been said about the State and the government is not
a mere dream, and although difficult, not impossible, but only
possible in the way which has been supposed; that is to say,
when the true philosopher-kings are born in a State, one or
more of them, despising the honors of this present world which
they deem mean and worthless, esteeming above all things right
and the honor that springs from right, and regarding justice
as the greatest and most necessary of all things, whose minis-
ters they are, and whose principles will be exalted by them
when they set in order their own city?
How will they proceed?
They will begin by sending out into the country all the in-
habitants of the city who are more than ten years old, and will
take possession of their children, who will be unaffected by the
habits of their parents; these they will train in their own habits
and laws, I mean in the laws which we have given them: and in
this way the State and constitution of which we were speaking
will soonest and most easily attain happiness, and the nation
which has such a constitution will gain most.
Yes, that will be the best way. And I think, Socrates, that
you have very well described how, if ever, such a constitution
might come into being.
Enough, then, of the perfect State, and of the man who bears
its image--there is no difficulty in seeing how we shall describe
There is no difficulty, he replied; and I agree with you in
thinking that nothing more need be said.