most difficult to acquire, be supposed to reside? That we must
discover, and then we shall see who are the false politicians who
pretend to be politicians but are not, although they persuade many,
and shall separate them from the wise king.
Y. Soc. That, as the argument has already intimated, will be our
Str. Do you think that the multitude in a State can attain
Y. Soc. Impossible.
Str. But, perhaps, in a city of a thousand men, there would be a
hundred, or say fifty, who could?
Y. Soc. In that case political science would certainly be the
easiest of all sciences; there could not be found in a city of that
number as many really first-rate draught-players, if judged by the
standard of the rest of Hellas, and there would certainly not be as
many kings. For kings we may truly call those who possess royal
science, whether they rule or not, as was shown in the previous
Str. Thank you for reminding me; and the consequence is that any
true form of government can only be supposed to be the government of
one, two, or, at any rate, of a few.
Y. Soc. Certainly.
Str. And these, whether they rule with the will, or
against the will
of their subjects, with written laws or. without written laws, and
whether they are poor or rich, and whatever be the nature of their
rule, must be supposed, according to our present view, to
rule on some
scientific principle; just as the physician, whether he cures us
against our will or with our will, and whatever be his mode of
treatment-incision, burning, or the infliction of some other
pain-whether he practises out of a book or not out of a book, and
whether he be rich or poor, whether he purges or reduces in
way, or even fattens his patients, is a physician all the same, so
long as he exercises authority over them according to rules
of art, if
he only does them good and heals and saves them. And this we lay
down to be the only proper test of the art of medicine, or of any
other art of command.
Y. Soc. Quite true.
Str. Then that can be the only true form of government in which
the governors are really found to possess science, and are not mere
pretenders, whether they rule according to law or without law,
over-willing or unwilling subjects, and are rich or poor
themselves-none of these things can with any propriety be included
in the notion of the ruler.
Y. Soc. True.
Str. And whether with a view to the public good they purge
by killing some, or exiling some; whether they reduce the size of
the body corporate by sending out from the hive swarms of citizens,
or, by introducing persons from without, increase it; while they act
according to the rules of wisdom and justice, and use their
a view to the general security and improvement, the city over which
they rule, and which has these characteristics, may be described as
the only true State. All other governments are not genuine or real;
but only imitations of this, and some of them are better and some of
them are worse; the better are said to be well governed, but they
are mere imitations like the others.
Y. Soc. I agree, Stranger, in the greater part of what you say;
but as to their ruling without laws-the expression has a harsh sound.