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Pages of republic (books 6 - 10)



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republic (books 6 - 10)   


and on the upper surface of each circle is a siren, who goes
round with them, hymning a single tone or note. The eight
together form one harmony; and round about, at equal inter-
vals, there is another band, three in number, each sitting upon
her throne: these are the Fates, daughters of Necessity, who
are clothed in white robes and have chaplets upon their heads,
Lachesis and Clotho and Atropos, who accompany with their
voices the harmony of the sirens--Lachesis singing of the past,
Clotho of the present, Atropos of the future; Clotho from time
to time assisting with a touch of her right hand the revolution
of the outer circle of the whorl or spindle, and Atropos with
her left hand touching and guiding the inner ones, and Lachesis
laying hold of either in turn, first with one hand and then with
the other.

When Er and the spirits arrived, their duty was to go at once
to Lachesis; but first of all there came a prophet who arranged
them in order; then he took from the knees of Lachesis lots and
samples of lives, and having mounted a high pulpit, spoke as
follows: "Hear the word of Lachesis, the daughter of Neces-
sity. Mortal souls, behold a new cycle of life and mortality.
Your genius will not be allotted to you, but you will choose
your genius; and let him who draws the first lot have the first
choice, and the life which he chooses shall be his destiny. Vir-
tue is free, and as a man honors or dishonors her he will have
more or less of her; the responsibility is with the chooser--God
is justified." When the Interpreter had thus spoken he scat-
tered lots indifferently among them all, and each of them took
up the lot which fell near him, all but Er himself (he was not
allowed), and each as he took his lot perceived the number
which he had obtained. Then the Interpreter placed on the
ground before them the samples of lives; and there were many
more lives than the souls present, and they were of all sorts.
There were lives of every animal and of man in every condition.
And there were tyrannies among them, some lasting out the
tyrant's life, others which broke off in the middle and came to
an end in poverty and exile and beggary; and there were lives
of famous men, some who were famous for their form and
beauty as well as for their strength and success in games, or,
again, for their birth and the qualities of their ancestors; and
some who were the reverse of famous for the opposite qualities.
And of women likewise; there was not, however, any definite
character in them, because the soul, when choosing a new life,
must of necessity become different. But there was every other
quality, and they all mingled with one another, and also with
elements of wealth and poverty, and disease and health; and
there were mean states also. And here, my dear Glaucon, is
the supreme peril of our human state; and therefore the utmost
care should be taken. Let each one of us leave every other
kind of knowledge and seek and follow one thing only, if per-
adventure he may be able to learn and may find someone who
will make him able to learn and discern between good and evil,
and so to choose always and everywhere the better life as he
has opportunity. He should consider the bearing of all these
things which have been mentioned severally and collectively
upon virtue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when
combined with poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and what
are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth,
of private and public station, of strength and weakness, of
cleverness and dullness, and of all the natural and acquired gifts
of the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined; he will
then look at the nature of the soul, and from the consideration
of all these qualities he will be able to determine which is the
better and which is the worse; and so he will choose, giving

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