republic (books 6 - 10)
Then this must be our notion of the just man, that even when
he is in poverty or sickness, or any other seeming misfortune,
all things will in the end work together for good to him in life
and death; for the gods have a care of anyone whose desire is
to become just and to be like God, as far as man can attain the
divine likeness, by the pursuit of virtue?
Yes, he said; if he is like God he will surely not be neglected
And of the unjust may not the opposite be supposed?
Such, then, are the palms of victory which the gods give the
That is my conviction.
And what do they receive of men? Look at things as they
really are, and you will see that the clever unjust are in the
case of runners, who run well from the starting-place to the
goal, but not back again from the goal: they go off at a great
pace, but in the end only look foolish, slinking away with their
ears draggling on their shoulders, and without a crown; but
the true runner comes to the finish and receives the prize and
is crowned. And this is the way with the just; he who endures
to the end of every action and occasion of his entire life has a
good report and carries off the prize which men have to bestow.
And now you must allow me to repeat of the just the bless-
ings which you were attributing to the fortunate unjust. I
shall say of them, what you were saying of the others, that as
they grow older, they become rulers in their own city if they
care to be; they marry whom they like and give in marriage to
whom they will; all that you said of the others I now say of
these. And, on the other hand, of the unjust I say that the
greater number, even though they escape in their youth, are
found out at last and look foolish at the end of their course,
and when they come to be old and miserable are flouted alike
by stranger and citizen; they are beaten, and then come those
things unfit for ears polite, as you truly term them; they will
be racked and have their eyes burned out, as you were saying.
And you may suppose that I have repeated the remainder of
your tale of horrors. But will you let me assume, without re-
citing them, that these things are true?
Certainly, he said, what you say is true.
These, then, are the prizes and rewards and gifts which are
bestowed upon the just by gods and men in this present life,
in addition to the other good things which justice of herself
Yes, he said; and they are fair and lasting.
And yet, I said, all these are as nothing either in number or
greatness in comparison with those other recompenses which
await both just and unjust after death. And you ought to hear