republic (books 6 - 10)
He who is of a tyrannical nature, and instead of leading a
private life has been cursed with the further misfortune of
being a public tyrant.
From what has been said, I gather that you are right.
Yes, I replied, but in this high argument you should be a
little more certain, and should not conjecture only; for of all
questions, this respecting good and evil is the greatest.
Very true, he said.
Let me then offer you an illustration, which may, I think,
throw a light upon this subject.
What is your illustration?
The case of rich individuals in cities who possess many
slaves: from them you may form an idea of the tyrant's con-
dition, for they both have slaves; the only difference is that
he has more slaves.
Yes, that is the difference.
You know that they live securely and have nothing to ap-
prehend from their servants?
What should they fear?
Nothing. But do you observe the reason of this?
Yes; the reason is, that the whole city is leagued together
for the protection of each individual.
Very true, I said. But imagine one of these owners, the
master say of some fifty slaves, together with his family and
property and slaves, carried off by a god into the wilderness,
where there are no freemen to help him--will he not be in
an agony of fear lest he and his wife and children should be
put to death by his slaves?
Yes, he said, he will be in the utmost fear.
The time has arrived when he will be compelled to flatter
divers of his slaves, and make many promises to them of free-
dom and other things, much against his will--he will have
to cajole his own servants.
Yes, he said, that will be the only way of saving himself.
And suppose the same god, who carried him away, to sur-
round him with neighbors who will not suffer one man to
be the master of another, and who, if they could catch the
offender, would take his life?
His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be every-
where surrounded and watched by enemies.
And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will
be bound--he who being by nature such as we have described,
is full of all sorts of fears and lusts? His soul is dainty and
greedy, and yet alone, of all men in the city, he is never
allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which other