republic (books 6 - 10)
like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she
praises and honors both in private and public. Now, in such
a State, can liberty have any limit?
By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and
ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.
How do you mean?
I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to
the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level
with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either
of his parents; and this is his freedom; and the metic is equal
with the citizen, and the citizen with the metic, and the
stranger is quite as good as either.
Yes, he said, that is the way.
And these are not the only evils, I said--there are several
lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and
flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters
and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man
is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him
in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and
are full of pleasantry and gayety; they are loth to be thought
morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the man-
ners of the young.
Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought
with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his
or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and
equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.
Why not, as AEschylus says, utter the word which rises to
That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that
no one who does not know would believe how much greater
is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion
of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for,
truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their
she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of march-
ing along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and
they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does
not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just
ready to burst with liberty.
When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience
what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing.
And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sen-
sitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least
touch of authority, and at length, as you know, they cease
to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will
have no one over them.
Yes, he said, I know it too well.
Such, my friend, I said, is the fair and glorious beginning
out of which springs tyranny.