republic (books 6 - 10)
proved, and is a form of government which teems with evils:
thirdly, democracy, which naturally follows oligarchy, although
very different: and lastly comes tyranny, great and famous,
which differs from them all, and is the fourth and worst dis-
order of a State. I do not know, do you? of any other consti-
tution which can be said to have a distinct character. There
are lordships and principalities which are bought and sold, and
some other intermediate forms of government. But these are
nondescripts and may be found equally among Hellenes and
Yes, he replied, we certainly hear of many curious forms of
government which exist among them.
Do you know, I said, that governments vary as the disposi-
tions of men vary, and that there must be as many of the one
as there are of the other? For we cannot suppose that States
are made of "oak and rock," and not out of the human natures
which are in them, and which in a figure turn the scale and
draw other things after them?
Yes, he said, the States are as the men are; they grow out of
Then if the constitutions of States are five, the dispositions
of individual minds will also be five?
Him who answers to aristocracy, and whom we rightly call
just and good, we have already described.
Then let us now proceed to describe the inferior sort of nat-
ures, being the contentious and ambitious, who answer to the
Spartan polity; also the oligarchical, democratical, and tyran-
nical. Let us place the most just by the side of the most un-
just, and when we see them we shall be able to compare the
relative happiness or unhappiness of him who leads a life of
pure justice or pure injustice. The inquiry will then be com-
pleted. And we shall know whether we ought to pursue injus-
tice, as Thrasymachus advises, or in accordance with the con-
clusions of the argument to prefer justice.
Certainly, he replied, we must do as you say.
Shall we follow our old plan, which we adopted with a view
to clearness, of taking the State first and then proceeding to
the individual, and begin with the government of honor?--I
know of no name for such a government other than timocracy
or perhaps timarchy. We will compare with this the like
character in the individual; and, after that, consider oligarchy
and the oligarchical man; and then again we will turn our
attention to democracy and the democratical man; and lastly,
we will go and view the city of tyranny, and once more take a
look into the tyrant's soul, and try to arrive at a satisfactory
That way of viewing and judging of the matter will be very
First, then, I said, let us inquire how timocracy (the govern-
ment of honor) arises out of aristocracy (the government of