republic (books 6 - 10)
And is not their humanity to the condemned in some cases
quite charming? Have you not observed how, in a democracy,
many persons, although they have been sentenced to death or
exile, just stay where they are and walk about the world--
the gentleman parades like a hero, and nobody sees or cares?
Yes, he replied, many and many a one.
See, too, I said, the forgiving spirit of democracy, and the
"don't care" about trifles, and the disregard which she shows
of all the fine principles which we solemnly laid down at the
foundation of the city--as when we said that, except in the
case of some rarely gifted nature, there never will be a good
man who has not from his childhood been used to play amid
things of beauty and make of them a joy and a study--how
grandly does she trample all these fine notions of ours under
her feet, never giving a thought to the pursuits which make
a statesman, and promoting to honor anyone who professes
to be the people's friend.
Yes, she is of a noble spirit.
These and other kindred characteristics are proper to
democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of
variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals
and unequals alike.
We know her well.
Consider now, I said, what manner of man the individual
is, or rather consider, as in the case of the State, how he
comes into being.
Very good, he said.
Is not this the way--he is the son of the miserly and oli-
garchical father who has trained him in his own habits?
And, like his father, he keeps under by force the pleasures
which are of the spending and not of the getting sort, being
those which are called unnecessary?
Would you like, for the sake of clearness, to distinguish
which are the necessary and which are the unnecessary pleas-
Are not necessary pleasures those of which we cannot get
rid, and of which the satisfaction is a benefit to us? And
they are rightly called so, because we are framed by nature
to desire both what is beneficial and what is necessary, and
cannot help it.
We are not wrong therefore in calling them necessary?
We are not.
And the desires of which a man may get rid, if he takes