Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 Next page
death have an honourable burial.
Yes, he said, and glorious rewards they are.
Do you remember, I said, how in the course of the previous
discussion some one who shall be nameless accused us of making our
guardians unhappy --they had nothing and might have possessed all
things-to whom we replied that, if an occasion offered, we might
perhaps hereafter consider this question, but that, as at present
advised, we would make our guardians truly guardians, and that we were
fashioning the State with a view to the greatest happiness, not of any
particular class, but of the whole?
Yes, I remember.
And what do you say, now that the life of our protectors is made out
to be far better and nobler than that of Olympic victors --is the life
of shoemakers, or any other artisans, or of husbandmen, to be compared
At the same time I ought here to repeat what I have said
elsewhere, that if any of our guardians shall try to be happy in
such a manner that he will cease to be a guardian, and is not
content with this safe and harmonious life, which, in our judgment, is
of all lives the best, but infatuated by some youthful conceit of
happiness which gets up into his head shall seek to appropriate the
whole State to himself, then he will have to learn how wisely Hesiod
spoke, when he said, 'half is more than the whole.'
If he were to consult me, I should say to him: Stay where you are,
when you have the offer of such a life.
You agree then, I said, that men and women are to have a common
way of life such as we have described --common education, common
children; and they are to watch over the citizens in common whether
abiding in the city or going out to war; they are to keep watch
together, and to hunt together like dogs; and always and in all
things, as far as they are able, women are to share with the men?
And in so doing they will do what is best, and will not violate, but
preserve the natural relation of the sexes.
I agree with you, he replied.
The enquiry, I said, has yet to be made, whether such a community be
found possible --as among other animals, so also among men --and if
possible, in what way possible?
You have anticipated the question which I was about to suggest.
There is no difficulty, I said, in seeing how war will be carried on
Why, of course they will go on expeditions together; and will take
with them any of their children who are strong enough, that, after the
manner of the artisan's child, they may look on at the work which they
will have to do when they are grown up; and besides looking on they
will have to help and be of use in war, and to wait upon their fathers
and mothers. Did you never observe in the arts how the potters' boys
look on and help, long before they touch the wheel?
Yes, I have.
And shall potters be more careful in educating their children and in
giving them the opportunity of seeing and practising their duties than
our guardians will be?
The idea is ridiculous, he said.
There is also the effect on the parents, with whom, as with other
animals, the presence of their young ones will be the greatest
incentive to valour.
That is quite true, Socrates; and yet if they are defeated, which
may often happen in war, how great the danger is! the children will be
lost as well as their parents, and the State will never recover.
True, I said; but would you never allow them to run any risk?
I am far from saying that.
Well, but if they are ever to run a risk should they not do so on
some occasion when, if they escape disaster, they will be the better
Whether the future soldiers do or do not see war in the days of
their youth is a very important matter, for the sake of which some
risk may fairly be incurred.
Yes, very important.
This then must be our first step, --to make our children
spectators of war; but we must also contrive that they shall be
secured against danger; then all will be well.
Their parents may be supposed not to be blind to the risks of war,
but to know, as far as human foresight can, what expeditions are
safe and what dangerous?
That may be assumed.
And they will take them on the safe expeditions and be cautious
about the dangerous ones?
And they will place them under the command of experienced veterans
who will be their leaders and teachers?
Still, the dangers of war cannot be always foreseen; there is a good
deal of chance about them?
Then against such chances the children must be at once furnished
with wings, in order that in the hour of need they may fly away and
What do you mean? he said.
I mean that we must mount them on horses in their earliest youth,
and when they have learnt to ride, take them on horseback to see
war: the horses must be spirited and warlike, but the most tractable
and yet the swiftest that can be had. In this way they will get an
excellent view of what is hereafter to be their own business; and if
there is danger they have only to follow their elder leaders and
I believe that you are right, he said.
Next, as to war; what are to be the relations of your soldiers to
one another and to their enemies? I should be inclined to propose that
the soldier who leaves his rank or throws away his arms, or is
guilty of any other act of cowardice, should be degraded into the rank
of a husbandman or artisan. What do you think?
By all means, I should say.
And he who allows himself to be taken prisoner may as well be made a
present of to his enemies; he is their lawful prey, and let them do
what they like with him.
But the hero who has distinguished himself, what shall be done to
him? In the first place, he shall receive honour in the army from
his youthful comrades; every one of them in succession shall crown
him. What do you say?
And what do you say to his receiving the right hand of fellowship?
To that too, I agree.
But you will hardly agree to my next proposal.
What is your proposal?
That he should kiss and be kissed by them.
Most certainly, and I should be disposed to go further, and say: Let
no one whom he has a mind to kiss refuse to be kissed by him while the
expedition lasts. So that if there be a lover in the army, whether his
love be youth or maiden, he may be more eager to win the prize of
Capital, I said. That the brave man is to have more wives than
others has been already determined: and he is to have first choices in
such matters more than others, in order that he may have as many
children as possible?
Again, there is another manner in which, according to Homer, brave
youths should be honoured; for he tells how Ajax, after he had
distinguished himself in battle, was rewarded with long chines,
which seems to be a compliment appropriate to a hero in the flower
of his age, being not only a tribute of honour but also a very
Most true, he said.
Then in this, I said, Homer shall be our teacher; and we too, at
sacrifices and on the like occasions, will honour the brave
according to the measure of their valour, whether men or women, with
hymns and those other distinctions which we were mentioning; also with
seats of precedence, and meats and full cups;
and in honouring them, we shall be at the same time training them.
That, he replied, is excellent.
Yes, I said; and when a man dies gloriously in war shall we not say,
in the first place, that he is of the golden race?
To be sure.
Nay, have we not the authority of Hesiod for affirming that when
they are dead
They are holy angels upon the earth, authors of good, averters of
evil, the guardians of speech-gifted men?
Yes; and we accept his authority.
We must learn of the god how we are to order the sepulture of divine
and heroic personages, and what is to be their special distinction and
we must do as he bids?
By all means.
And in ages to come we will reverence them and knee. before their
sepulchres as at the graves of heroes. And not only they but any who
are deemed pre-eminently good, whether they die from age, or in any
other way, shall be admitted to the same honours.
That is very right, he said.
Next, how shall our soldiers treat their enemies? What about this?
In what respect do you mean?
First of all, in regard to slavery? Do you think it right that
Hellenes should enslave Hellenic States, or allow others to enslave
them, if they can help? Should not their custom be to spare them,
considering the danger which there is that the whole race may one
day fall under the yoke of the barbarians?
To spare them is infinitely better.
Then no Hellene should be owned by them as a slave; that is a rule
which they will observe and advise the other Hellenes to observe.
Certainly, he said; they will in this way be united against the
barbarians and will keep their hands off one another.
Next as to the slain; ought the conquerors, I said, to take anything
but their armour? Does not the practice of despoiling an enemy
afford an excuse for not facing the battle? Cowards skulk about the
dead, pretending that they are fulfilling a duty, and many an army
before now has been lost from this love of plunder.
And is there not illiberality and avarice in robbing a corpse, and
also a degree of meanness and womanishness in making an enemy of the
dead body when the real enemy has flown away and left only his
fighting gear behind him, --is not this rather like a dog who cannot
get at his assailant, quarrelling with the stones which strike him
Very like a dog, he said.
Then we must abstain from spoiling the dead or hindering their
Yes, he replied, we most certainly must.
Neither shall we offer up arms at the temples of the gods, least
of all the arms of Hellenes, if we care to maintain good feeling
with other Hellenes; and, indeed, we have reason to fear that the
offering of spoils taken from kinsmen may be a pollution unless
commanded by the god himself?
Again, as to the devastation of Hellenic territory or the burning of
houses, what is to be the practice?