Y. Soc. Very true.
Str. But if this is as you say, can our argument about the king be
true and unimpeachable? Were we right in selecting him out of ten
thousand other claimants to be the shepherd and rearer of the human
Y. Soc. Surely not.
Str. Had we not reason just to now apprehend, that although we may
have described a sort of royal form, we have not as yet accurately
worked out the true image of the Statesman? and that we cannot
reveal him as he truly is in his own nature, until we have
disengaged and separated him from those who bang about him and claim
to share in his prerogatives?
Y. Soc. Very true.
Str. And that, Socrates, is what we must do, if we do not mean to
bring disgrace upon the argument at its close.
Y. Soc. We must certainly avoid that.
Str. Then let us make a new beginning, and travel by a different
Y. Soc. What road?
Str. I think that we may have a little amusement; there is a
famous tale, of which a good portion may with advantage be
and then we may resume our series of divisions, and proceed
in the old
path until we arrive at the desired summit. Shall we do as I say?
Y. Soc. By all means.
Str. Listen, then, to a tale which a child would love to hear; and
you are not too old for childish amusement.
Y. Soc. Let me hear.
Str. There did really happen, and will again happen, like
events of which ancient tradition has preserved the record, the
portent which is traditionally said to have occurred in the
Atreus and Thyestes. You have heard no doubt, and remember what they
say happened at that time?
Y. Soc. I suppose you to mean the token of the birth of the golden
Str. No, not that; but another part of the story, which tells how
the sun and the stars once rose in the west, and set in the east,
and that the god reversed their motion, and gave them that which
they now have as a testimony to the right of Atreus.
Y. Soc. Yes; there is that legend also.
Str. Again, we have been often told of the reign of Cronos.
Y. Soc. Yes, very often.
Str. Did you ever hear that the men of former times were
earthborn, and not begotten of one another?
Y. Soc. Yes, that is another old tradition.
Str. All these stories, and ten thousand others which are
wonderful, have a common origin; many of them have been lost in the
lapse of ages, or are repeated only in a disconnected form; but the
origin of them is what no one has told, and may as well be told now;
for the tale is suited to throw light on the nature of the king.
Y. Soc. Very good; and I hope that you will give the whole story,
and leave out nothing.
Str. Listen, then. There is a time when God himself guides
to roll the world in its course; and there is a time, on the
completion of a certain cycle, when he lets go, and the world being
a living creature, and having originally received intelligence from
its author and creator turns about and by an inherent necessity
revolves in the opposite direction.
Y. Soc. Why is that?