republic (books 6 - 10)
The evil blazes up like a fire; and they will not extinguish it
either by restricting a man's use of his own property, or by
One which is the next best, and has the advantage of com-
pelling the citizens to look to their characters: Let there be a
general rule that everyone shall enter into voluntary contracts
at his own risk, and there will be less of this scandalous money-
making, and the evils of which we were speaking will be greatly
lessened in the State.
Yes, they will be greatly lessened.
At present the governors, induced by the motives which I
have named, treat their subjects badly; while they and their
adherents, especially the young men of the governing class, are
habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness both of body and
mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting either
pleasure or pain.
They themselves care only for making money, and are as
indifferent as the pauper to the cultivation of virtue.
Yes, quite as indifferent.
Such is the state of affairs which prevails among them. And
often rulers and their subjects may come in one another's way,
whether on a journey or on some other occasion of meeting,
on a pilgrimage or a march, as fellow-soldiers or fellow-
sailors; aye, and they may observe the behavior of each other
in the very moment of danger--for where danger is, there is
no fear that the poor will be despised by the rich--and very
likely the wiry, sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle
at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt his com-
plexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh--when he sees such
a one puffing and at his wits'-end, how can he avoid drawing
the conclusion that men like him are only rich because no one
has the courage to despoil them? And when they meet in
private will not people be saying to one another, "Our war-
riors are not good for much"?
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that this is their way of
And, as in a body which is diseased the addition of a touch
from without may bring on illness, and sometimes even when
there is no external provocation, a commotion may arise with-
in--in the same way wherever there is weakness in the State
there is also likely to be illness, of which the occasion may
be very slight, the one party introducing from without their
oligarchical, the other their democratical allies, and then the
State falls sick, and is at war with herself; and may be at
times distracted, even when there is no external cause.
And then democracy comes into being after the poor have
conquered their opponents, slaughtering some and banishing
some, while to the remainder they give an equal share of free-