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Clearly the musician is wise, and he who is not a musician is
And he is good in as far as he is wise, and bad in as far as he is
And you would say the same sort of thing of the physician?
And do you think, my excellent friend, that a musician when he
adjusts the lyre would desire or claim to exceed or go beyond a
musician in the tightening and loosening the strings?
I do not think that he would.
But he would claim to exceed the non-musician?
And what would you say of the physician? In prescribing meats and
drinks would he wish to go beyond another physician or beyond the
practice of medicine?
He would not.
But he would wish to go beyond the non-physician?
And about knowledge and ignorance in general; see whether you
think that any man who has knowledge ever would wish to have the
choice of saying or doing more than another man who has knowledge.
Would he not rather say or do the same as his like in the same case?
That, I suppose, can hardly be denied.
And what of the ignorant? would he not desire to have more than
either the knowing or the ignorant?
I dare say.
And the knowing is wise?
And the wise is good?
Then the wise and good will not desire to gain more than his like,
but more than his unlike and opposite?
I suppose so.
Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than both?
But did we not say, Thrasymachus, that the unjust goes beyond both
his like and unlike? Were not these your words? They were.
And you also said that the lust will not go beyond his like but
Then the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the
evil and ignorant?
That is the inference.
And each of them is such as his like is?
That was admitted.
Then the just has turned out to be wise and good and the unjust evil
Thrasymachus made all these admissions, not fluently, as I repeat
them, but with extreme reluctance; it was a hot summer's day, and
the perspiration poured from him in torrents; and then I saw what I
had never seen before, Thrasymachus blushing. As we were now agreed
that justice was virtue and wisdom, and injustice vice and
ignorance, I proceeded to another point:
Well, I said, Thrasymachus, that matter is now settled; but were
we not also saying that injustice had strength; do you remember?
Yes, I remember, he said, but do not suppose that I approve of
what you are saying or have no answer; if however I were to answer,
you would be quite certain to accuse me of haranguing; therefore
either permit me to have my say out, or if you would rather ask, do
so, and I will answer 'Very good,' as they say to story-telling old
women, and will nod 'Yes' and 'No.'
Certainly not, I said, if contrary to your real opinion.
Yes, he said, I will, to please you, since you will not let me
speak. What else would you have?
Nothing in the world, I said; and if you are so disposed I will
ask and you shall answer.
Then I will repeat the question which I asked before, in order
that our examination of the relative nature of justice and injustice
may be carried on regularly. A statement was made that injustice is
stronger and more powerful than justice, but now justice, having
been identified with wisdom and virtue, is easily shown to be stronger
than injustice, if injustice is ignorance; this can no longer be
questioned by any one. But I want to view the matter, Thrasymachus, in
a different way: You would not deny that a state may be unjust and may
be unjustly attempting to enslave other states, or may have already
enslaved them, and may be holding many of them in subjection?
True, he replied; and I will add the best and perfectly unjust state
will be most likely to do so.
I know, I said, that such was your position; but what I would
further consider is, whether this power which is possessed by the
superior state can exist or be exercised without justice.
If you are right in you view, and justice is wisdom, then only
with justice; but if I am right, then without justice.
I am delighted, Thrasymachus, to see you not only nodding assent and
dissent, but making answers which are quite excellent.
That is out of civility to you, he replied.
You are very kind, I said; and would you have the goodness also to
inform me, whether you think that a state, or an army, or a band of
robbers and thieves, or any other gang of evil-doers could act at
all if they injured one another?
No indeed, he said, they could not.
But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act
And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and
fighting, and justice imparts harmony and friendship; is not that
I agree, he said, because I do not wish to quarrel with you.
How good of you, I said; but I should like to know also whether
injustice, having this tendency to arouse hatred, wherever existing,
among slaves or among freemen, will not make them hate one another and
set them at variance and render them incapable of common action?
And even if injustice be found in two only, will they not quarrel
and fight, and become enemies to one another and to the just
And suppose injustice abiding in a single person, would your
wisdom say that she loses or that she retains her natural power?
Let us assume that she retains her power.
Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a nature that
wherever she takes up her abode, whether in a city, in an army, in a
family, or in any other body, that body is, to begin with, rendered
incapable of united action by reason of sedition and distraction;
and does it not become its own enemy and at variance with all that
opposes it, and with the just? Is not this the case?
And is not injustice equally fatal when existing in a single person;
in the first place rendering him incapable of action because he is not
at unity with himself, and in the second place making him an enemy
to himself and the just? Is not that true, Thrasymachus?
And O my friend, I said, surely the gods are just?
Granted that they are.
But if so, the unjust will be the enemy of the gods, and the just
will be their friend?
Feast away in triumph, and take your fill of the argument; I will
not oppose you, lest I should displease the company.
Well then, proceed with your answers, and let me have the
remainder of my repast. For we have already shown that the just are
clearly wiser and better and abler than the unjust, and that the
unjust are incapable of common action; nay ing at more, that to
speak as we did of men who are evil acting at any time vigorously
together, is not strictly true, for if they had been perfectly evil,
they would have laid hands upon one another; but it is evident that
there must have been some remnant of justice in them, which enabled
them to combine; if there had not been they would have injured one
another as well as their victims; they were but half --villains in
their enterprises; for had they been whole villains, and utterly
unjust, they would have been utterly incapable of action. That, as I
believe, is the truth of the matter, and not what you said at first.
But whether the just have a better and happier life than the unjust is
a further question which we also proposed to consider. I think that
they have, and for the reasons which to have given; but still I should
like to examine further, for no light matter is at stake, nothing less
than the rule of human life.
I will proceed by asking a question: Would you not say that a
horse has some end?
And the end or use of a horse or of anything would be that which
could not be accomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other
I do not understand, he said.
Let me explain: Can you see, except with the eye?
Or hear, except with the ear?
These then may be truly said to be the ends of these organs?
But you can cut off a vine-branch with a dagger or with a chisel,
and in many other ways?
And yet not so well as with a pruning-hook made for the purpose?
May we not say that this is the end of a pruning-hook?
Then now I think you will have no difficulty in understanding my
meaning when I asked the question whether the end of anything would be
that which could not be accomplished, or not so well accomplished,
by any other thing?
I understand your meaning, he said, and assent.
And that to which an end is appointed has also an excellence? Need I
ask again whether the eye has an end?
And has not the eye an excellence?
And the ear has an end and an excellence also?
And the same is true of all other things; they have each of them
an end and a special excellence?
That is so.
Well, and can the eyes fulfil their end if they are wanting in their
own proper excellence and have a defect instead?
How can they, he said, if they are blind and cannot see?
You mean to say, if they have lost their proper excellence, which is
sight; but I have not arrived at that point yet. I would rather ask
the question more generally, and only enquire whether the things which
fulfil their ends fulfil them by their own proper excellence, and fall
of fulfilling them by their own defect?
Certainly, he replied.
I might say the same of the ears; when deprived of their own
proper excellence they cannot fulfil their end?
And the same observation will apply to all other things?
Well; and has not the soul an end which nothing else can fulfil? for
example, to superintend and command and deliberate and the like. Are