money-changer, the merchant, the ship-owner, the retailer, will not
put in any claim to statecraft or politics?
Y. Soc. No; unless, indeed, to the politics of commerce.
Str. But surely men whom we see acting as hirelings and serfs, and
too happy to turn their hand to anything, will not profess
to share in
Y. Soc. Certainly not.
Str. But what would you say of some other serviceable officials?
Y. Soc. Who are they, and what services do they perform?
Str. There are heralds, and scribes perfected by practice, and
divers others who have great skill in various sorts of business
connected with the government of states-what shall we call them?
Y. Soc. They are the officials, and servants of the rulers, as you
just now called them, but not themselves rulers.
Str. There may be something strange in any servant pretending to
be a ruler, and yet I do not think that I could have been dreaming
when I imagined that the principal claimants to political science
would be found somewhere in this neighbourhood.
Y. Soc. Very true.
Str. Well, let us draw nearer, and try the claims of some who have
not yet been tested; in the first place, there are diviners, who
have a portion of servile or ministerial science, and are thought to
be the interpreters of the gods to men.
Y. Soc. True.
Str. There is also the priestly class, who, as the law declares,
know how to give the gods gifts from men in the form of sacrifices
which are acceptable to them, and to ask on our behalf blessings in
return from them. Now both these are branches of the servile or
Y. Soc. Yes, clearly.
Str. And here I think that we seem to be getting on the
for the priest and the diviner are swollen with pride and
and they create an awful impression of themselves by the magnitude
of their enterprises; in Egypt, the king himself is not allowed to
reign, unless he have priestly powers, and if he should be of
another class and has thrust himself in, he must get enrolled in the
priesthood. In many parts of Hellas, the duty of offering the most
solemn propitiatory sacrifices is assigned to the highest
magistracies, and here, at Athens, the most solemn and
national of the
ancient sacrifices are supposed to be celebrated by him who has been
chosen by lot to be the King Archon.
Y. Soc. Precisely.
Str. But who are these other kings and priests elected by lot who
now come into view followed by their retainers and a vast throng, as
the former class disappears and the scene changes?
Y. Soc. Whom can you mean?
Str. They are a strange crew.
Y. Soc. Why strange?
Str. A minute ago I thought that they were animals of every tribe;
for many of them are like lions and centaurs, and many more like
satyrs and such weak and shifty creatures;-Protean shapes quickly
changing into one another's forms and natures; and now, Socrates, I
begin to see who they are.
Y. Soc. Who are they? You seem to be gazing on some strange vision.
Str. Yes; every one looks strange when you do not know
him; and just
now I myself fell into this mistake-at first sight, coming suddenly
upon him, I did not recognize the politician and his troop.
Y. Soc. Who is he?
Str. The chief of Sophists and most accomplished of wizards, who