pointed out when any one desires to answer an enquirer without any
trouble or argument; whereas the greatest and highest truths have no
outward image of themselves visible to man, which he who wishes to
satisfy the soul of the enquirer can adapt to the eye of sense, and
therefore we ought to train ourselves to give and accept a rational
account of them; for immaterial things, which are the noblest and
greatest, are shown only in thought and idea, and in no
other way, and
all that we are now saying is said for the sake of them. Moreover,
there is always less difficulty in fixing the mind on small matters
than on great.
Y. Soc. Very good.
Str. Let us call to mind the bearing of all this.
Y. Soc. What is it?
Str. I wanted to get rid of any impression of tediousness which we
may have experienced in the discussion about weaving, and
of the universe, and in the discussion concerning the Sophist and
the being of not-being. I know that they were felt to be too
I reproached myself with this, fearing that they might be not only
tedious but irrelevant; and all that I have now said is only
designed to prevent the recurrence of any such disagreeables for the
Y. Soc. Very good. Will you proceed?
Str. Then I would like to observe that you and I, remembering what
has been said, should praise or blame the length or shortness of
discussions, not by comparing them with one another, but with what
is fitting, having regard to the part of measurement, which, as we
said, was to be borne in mind.
Y. Soc. Very true.
Str. And yet, not everything is to be judged even with a view to
what is fitting; for we should only want such a length as is
give pleasure, if at all, as a secondary matter; and reason tells
us, that we should be contented to make the ease or rapidity of an
enquiry, not our first, but our second object; the first and highest
of all being to assert the great method of division according to
species-whether the discourse be shorter or longer is not to the
point. No offence should be taken at length, but the longer and
shorter are to be employed indifferently, according as either of
them is better calculated to sharpen the wits of the auditors.
Reason would also say to him who censures the length of discourses
on such occasions and cannot away with their circumlocution, that he
should not be in such a hurry to have done with them, when
he can only
complain that they are tedious, but he should prove that if they had
been shorter they would have made those who took part in them better
dialecticians, and more capable of expressing the truth of things;
about any other praise and blame, he need not trouble himself-he
should pretend not to hear them. But we have had enough of this, as
you will probably agree with me in thinking. Let us return to our
Statesman, and apply to his case the aforesaid example of weaving.
Y. Soc. Very good;-let us do as you say.
Str. The art of the king has been separated from the
similar arts of
shepherds, and, indeed, from all those which have to do with herds
at all. There still remain, however, of the causal and co-operative
arts those which are immediately concerned with States, and
first be distinguished from one another.
Y. Soc. Very good.
Str. You know that these arts cannot easily be divided into two
halves; the reason will be very: evident as we proceed.