republic (books 6 - 10)
rulers are elected for their wealth, may now be dismissed. Let
us next proceed to consider the nature and origin of the indi-
vidual who answers to this State.
By all means.
Does not the timocratical man change into the oligarchical on
A time arrives when the representative of timocracy has a
son: at first he begins by emulating his father and walking in
his footsteps, but presently he sees him of a sudden foundering
against the State as upon a sunken reef, and he and all that he
has are lost; he may have been a general or some other high
officer who is brought to trial under a prejudice raised by in-
formers, and either put to death or exiled or deprived of the
privileges of a citizen, and all his property taken from him.
Nothing more likely.
And the son has seen and known all this--he is a ruined man,
and his fear has taught him to knock ambition and passion head-
foremost from his bosom's throne; humbled by poverty he takes
to money-making, and by mean and miserly savings and hard
work gets a fortune together. Is not such a one likely to seat
the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne and
to suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and
chain and scimitar?
Most true, he replied.
And when he has made reason and spirit sit down on the
ground obediently on either side of their sovereign, and taught
them to know their place, he compels the one to think only of
how lesser sums may be turned into larger ones, and will not
allow the other to worship and admire anything but riches and
rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the acquisi-
tion of wealth and the means of acquiring it.
Of all changes, he said, there is none so speedy or so sure as
the conversion of the ambitious youth into the avaricious one.
And the avaricious, I said, is the oligarchical youth?
Yes, he said; at any rate the individual out of whom he came
is like the State out of which oligarchy came.
Let us then consider whether there is any likeness between
First, then, they resemble one another in the value which they
set upon wealth?
Also in their penurious, laborious character; the individual
only satisfies his necessary appetites, and confines his expendi-
ture to them; his other desires he subdues, under the idea that
they are unprofitable.