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republic (books 6 - 10)   



BOOK VIII
FOUR FORMS OF GOVERNMENT


(SOCRATES, GLAUCON.)

AND so, Glaucon, we have arrived at the conclusion that
in the perfect State wives and children are to be in com-
mon; and that all education and the pursuits of war
and peace are also to be common, and the best philosophers and
the bravest warriors are to be their kings?

That, replied Glaucon, has been acknowledged.

Yes, I said; and we have further acknowledged that the
governors, when appointed themselves, will take their soldiers
and place them in houses such as we were describing, which
are common to all, and contain nothing private, or individual;
and about their property, you remember what we agreed?

Yes, I remember that no one was to have any of the ordinary
possessions of mankind; they were to be warrior athletes and
guardians, receiving from the other citizens, in lieu of annual
payment, only their maintenance, and they were to take care of
themselves and of the whole State.

True, I said; and now that this division of our task is con-
cluded, let us find the point at which we digressed, that we may
return into the old path.

There is no difficulty in returning; you implied, then as now,
that you had finished the description of the State: you said that
such a State was good, and that the man was good who an-
swered to it, although, as now appears, you had more excellent
things to relate both of State and man. And you said further,
that if this was the true form, then the others were false; and
of the false forms, you said, as I remember, that there were
four principal ones, and that their defects, and the defects of
the individuals corresponding to them, were worth examining.
When we had seen all the individuals, and finally agreed as to
who was the best and who was the worst of them, we were to
consider whether the best was not also the happiest, and the
worst the most miserable. I asked you what were the four
forms of government of which you spoke, and then Polemar-
chus and Adeimantus put in their word; and you began again,
and have found your way to the point at which we have now
arrived.

Your recollection, I said, is most exact.

Then, like a wrestler, he replied, you must put yourself again
in the same position; and let me ask the same questions, and do
you give me the same answer which you were about to give me
then.

Yes, if I can, I will, I said.

I shall particularly wish to hear what were the four consti-
tutions of which you were speaking.

That question, I said, is easily answered: the four govern-
ments of which I spoke, so far as they have distinct names, are
first, those of Crete and Sparta, which are generally applauded;
what is termed oligarchy comes next; this is not equally ap-

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