Plato: The Republic
BOOK 7:

THE PARABLE
of the CAVE


Tr. Benjamin Jowett (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1901). TLG 59.030 Respublica cit Stephanus ser. Platonis opera, vol. 4, ed. J. Burnet (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1902, rpr. 1968) cit. Stephanus 514a-541b.

Socrates - Glaucon 

 

AND now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. 

Μετὰ ταῦτα δή, εἶπον, ἀπείκασον τοιούτῳ πάθει τὴν ἡμετέραν φύσιν παιδείας τε πέρι καὶ ἀπαιδευσίας. ἰδὲ γὰρ ἀνθρώπους οἷον ἐν καταγείῳ οἰκήσει σπηλαιώδει, ἀναπεπταμένην πρὸς τὸ φῶς τὴν εἴσοδον ἐχούσῃ μακρὰν παρὰ πᾶν τὸ σπήλαιον, ἐν ταύτῃ ἐκ παίδων ὄντας ἐν δεσμοῖς καὶ τὰ σκέλη καὶ τοὺς αὐχένας, ὥστε μένειν τε αὐτοὺς εἴς τε τὸ πρόσθεν μόνον ὁρᾶν, κύκλῳ δὲ τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑπὸ τοῦ δεσμοῦ ἀδυνάτους περιάγειν,

 

 

 

 

   ABOVE and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. 

φῶς δὲ αὐτοῖς πυρὸς ἄνωθεν καὶ πόρρωθεν καόμενον ὄπισθεν αὐτῶν, μεταξὺ δὲ τοῦ πυρὸς καὶ τῶν δεσμωτῶν ἐπάνω ὁδόν, παρ' ἣν ἰδὲ τειχίον παρῳκοδομημένον, ὥσπερ τοῖς θαυματοποιοῖς πρὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρόκειται τὰ παραφράγματα, ὑπὲρ ὧν τὰ θαύματα δεικνύασιν.

I see. 

(Ορῶ, ἔφη.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent. 

(/Ορα τοίνυν παρὰ τοῦτο τὸ τειχίον φέροντας ἀνθρώπους σκεύη τε παντοδαπὰ ὑπερέχοντα τοῦ τειχίου καὶ ἀνδριάντας καὶ ἄλλα ζῷα λίθινά τε καὶ ξύλινα καὶ παντοῖα εἰργασμένα, οἷον εἰκὸς τοὺς μὲν φθεγγομένους, τοὺς δὲ σιγῶντας τῶν παραφερόντων.

You have shown me a strange image,

    and they are strange prisoners. 

)/Ατοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα

καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.

LIKE OURSELVES, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave? 

(Ομοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δ' ἐγώ· τοὺς γὰρ τοιούτους πρῶτον μὲν ἑαυτῶν τε καὶ ἀλλήλων οἴει ἄν τι ἑωρακέναι ἄλλο πλὴν τὰς σκιὰς τὰς ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς εἰς τὸ καταντικρὺ αὐτῶν τοῦ σπηλαίου προσπιπτούσας;̈

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

    Πῶς γάρ, ἔφη, εἰ ἀκινήτους γε τὰς κεφαλὰς ἔχειν ἠναγκασμένοι εἶεν διὰ βίου;

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

Τί δὲ τῶν παραφερομένων; οὐ ταὐτὸν τοῦτο;

Yes, he said.

Τί μήν;

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Εἰ οὖν διαλέγεσθαι οἷοί τ' εἶεν πρὸς ἀλλήλους, οὐ ταῦτα ἡγῇ ἂν τὰ ὄντα αὐτοὺς νομίζειν ἅπερ ὁρῷεν;

Very true.

)Ανάγκη.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow? 

Τί δ' εἰ καὶ ἠχὼ τὸ δεσμωτήριον ἐκ τοῦ καταντικρὺ ἔχοι; ὁπότε τις τῶν παριόντων φθέγξαιτο, οἴει ἂν ἄλλο τι αὐτοὺς ἡγεῖσθαι τὸ φθεγγόμενον ἢ τὴν παριοῦσαν σκιάν;

No question, he replied. 

Μὰ  Δί' οὐκ ἔγωγ', ἔφη.

To them, I said, the TRUTH would be literally NOTHING but the SHADOWS of the images. 

Παντάπασι δή, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, οἱ τοιοῦτοι οὐκ ἂν ἄλλο τι νομίζοιεν τὸ ἀληθὲς ἢ τὰς τῶν σκευαστῶν σκιάς.̈

That is certain. 

Πολλὴ ἀνάγκη, ἔφη.

Release from the Cave

 
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and Σκόπει δή, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, αὐτῶν λύσιν τε καὶ ἴασιν τῶν τε δεσμῶν καὶ τῆς ἀφροσύνης, οἵα τις ἂν εἴη, εἰ φύσει τοιάδε συμβαίνοι αὐτοῖς· ὁπότε τις λυθείη καὶ ἀναγκάζοιτο ἐξαίφνης ἀνίστασθαί τε καὶ περιάγειν τὸν αὐχένα καὶ βαδίζειν καὶ

look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply?

πρὸς τὸ φῶς ἀναβλέπειν, πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ποιῶν ἀλγοῖ τε καὶ διὰ τὰς μαρμαρυγὰς ἀδυνατοῖ καθορᾶν ἐκεῖνα ὧν τότε τὰς σκιὰς ἑώρα, τί ἂν οἴει αὐτὸν εἰπεῖν, εἴ τις αὐτῷ λέγοι ὅτι τότε μὲν ἑώρα φλυαρίας, νῦν δὲ μᾶλλόν τι ἐγγυτέρω τοῦ ὄντος καὶ πρὸς μᾶλλον ὄντα τετραμμένος ὀρθότερον βλέποι,

And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed?  καὶ δὴ καὶ ἕκαστον τῶν παριόντων δεικνὺς αὐτῷ ἀναγκάζοι ἐρωτῶν ἀποκρίνεσθαι ὅτι ἔστιν;
Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him οὐκ οἴει αὐτὸν ἀπορεῖν τε ἂν καὶ ἡγεῖσθαι τὰ τότε ὁρώμενα ἀληθέστερα ἢ τὰ νῦν δεικνύμενα;

Far truer. 

Πολύ γ', ἔφη.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? 

Οὐκοῦν κἂν εἰ πρὸς αὐτὸ τὸ φῶς ἀναγκάζοι αὐτὸν βλέπειν, ἀλγεῖν τε ἂν τὰ ὄμματα καὶ φεύγειν ἀποστρεφόμενον πρὸς ἐκεῖνα ἃ δύναται καθορᾶν, καὶ νομίζειν ταῦτα τῷ ὄντι σαφέστερα τῶν δεικνυμένων;

True, he said. 

Οὕτως, ἔφη.

 

 

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities. 

Εἰ δέ, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, ἐντεῦθεν ἕλκοι τις αὐτὸν βίᾳ διὰ τραχείας τῆς ἀναβάσεως καὶ ἀνάντους, καὶ μὴ ἀνείη πρὶν ἐξελκύσειεν εἰς τὸ τοῦ ἡλίου φῶς, ἆρα οὐχὶ ὀδυνᾶσθαί τε ἂν καὶ ἀγανακτεῖν ἑλκόμενον, καὶ ἐπειδὴ πρὸς τὸ φῶς ἔλθοι, αὐγῆς ἂν ἔχοντα τὰ ὄμματα μεστὰ ὁρᾶν οὐδ' ἂν ἓν δύνασθαι τῶν νῦν λεγομένων ἀληθῶν;

Not all in a moment, he said. 

Οὐ γὰρ ἄν, ἔφη, ἐξαίφνης γε.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day? 

Συνηθείας δὴ οἶμαι δέοιτ' ἄν, εἰ μέλλοι τὰ ἄνω ὄψεσθαι. καὶ πρῶτον μὲν τὰς σκιὰς ἂν ῥᾷστα καθορῷ, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο ἐν τοῖς ὕδασι τά τε τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ τὰ τῶν ἄλλων εἴδωλα, ὕστερον δὲ αὐτά· ἐκ δὲ τούτων τὰ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν οὐρανὸν νύκτωρ ἂν ῥᾷον θεάσαιτο, προσβλέπων τὸ τῶν ἄστρων τε καὶ σελήνης φῶς, ἢ μεθ' ἡμέραν τὸν ἥλιόν τε καὶ τὸ τοῦ ἡλίου.

Certainly. 

Πῶς δ' οὔ;

Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

Τελευταῖον δὴ οἶμαι τὸν ἥλιον, οὐκ ἐν ὕδασιν οὐδ' ἐν ἀλλοτρίᾳ ἕδρᾳ φαντάσματα αὐτοῦ, ἀλλ' αὐτὸν καθ' αὑτὸν ἐν τῇ αὑτοῦ χώρᾳ δύναιτ' ἂν κατιδεῖν καὶ θεάσασθαι οἷός ἐστιν.

Certainly.

)Αναγκαῖον, ἔφη.

He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτ' ἂν ἤδη συλλογίζοιτο περὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὗτος ὁ τάς τε ὥρας παρέχων καὶ ἐνιαυτοὺς καὶ πάντα ἐπιτροπεύων τὰ ἐν τῷ ὁρωμένῳ τόπῳ, καὶ ἐκείνων ὧν σφεῖς ἑώρων τρόπον τινὰ πάντων αἴτιος.

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

Δῆλον, ἔφη, ὅτι ἐπὶ ταῦτα ἂν μετ' ἐκεῖνα ἔλθοι.

Compassion for the Cave-Dwellers:
Enmity from former-friends

 

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Τί οὖν; ἀναμιμνῃσκόμενον αὐτὸν τῆς πρώτης οἰκήσεως καὶ τῆς ἐκεῖ σοφίας καὶ τῶν τότε συνδεσμωτῶν οὐκ ἂν οἴει αὑτὸν μὲν εὐδαιμονίζειν τῆς μεταβολῆς, τοὺς δὲ ἐλεεῖν;

Certainly, he would.

Καὶ μάλα

And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,

Τιμαὶ δὲ καὶ ἔπαινοι εἴ τινες αὐτοῖς ἦσαν τότε παρ' ἀλλήλων καὶ γέρα τῷ ὀξύτατα καθορῶντι τὰ παριόντα, καὶ μνημονεύοντι μάλιστα ὅσα τε πρότερα αὐτῶν καὶ ὕστερα εἰώθει καὶ ἅμα πορεύεσθαι, καὶ ἐκ τούτων δὴ δυνατώτατα ἀπομαντευομένῳ τὸ μέλλον ἥξειν, δοκεῖς ἂν αὐτὸν ἐπιθυμητικῶς αὐτῶν ἔχειν καὶ ζηλοῦν τοὺς παρ' ἐκείνοις τιμωμένους τε καὶ ἐνδυναστεύοντας, ἢ τὸ τοῦ Ὁμήρου ἂν πεπονθέναι καὶ σφόδρα βούλεσθαι

“Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,” and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

"ἐπάρουρον ἐόντα θητευέμεν ἄλλῳ ἀνδρὶ παρ' ἀκλήρῳ" καὶ ὁτιοῦν ἂν πεπονθέναι μᾶλλον ἢ 'κεῖνά τε δοξάζειν καὶ ἐκείνως ζῆν;

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

Οὕτως, ἔφη, ἔγωγε οἶμαι, πᾶν μᾶλλον πεπονθέναι ἂν δέξασθαι ἢ ζῆν ἐκείνως.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

Καὶ τόδε δὴ ἐννόησον, ἦν δ' ἐγώ. εἰ πάλιν ὁ τοιοῦτος καταβὰς εἰς τὸν αὐτὸν θᾶκον καθίζοιτο, ἆρ' οὐ σκότους <ἂν> ἀνάπλεως σχοίη τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, ἐξαίφνης ἥκων ἐκ τοῦ ἡλίου;

To be sure, he said.

Καὶ μάλα γ', ἔφη.

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous?

Τὰς δὲ δὴ σκιὰς ἐκείνας πάλιν εἰ δέοι αὐτὸν γνωματεύοντα διαμιλλᾶσθαι τοῖς ἀεὶ δεσμώταις ἐκείνοις, ἐν ᾧ ἀμβλυώττει, πρὶν καταστῆναι τὰ ὄμματα, οὗτος δ' ὁ χρόνος μὴ πάνυ ὀλίγος εἴη τῆς συνηθείας, ἆρ' οὐ γέλωτ' ἂν παράσχοι,

Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

καὶ λέγοιτο ἂν περὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀναβὰς ἄνω διεφθαρμένος ἥκει τὰ ὄμματα, καὶ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξιον οὐδὲ πειρᾶσθαι ἄνω ἰέναι; καὶ τὸν ἐπιχειροῦντα λύειν τε καὶ ἀνάγειν, εἴ πως ἐν ταῖς χερσὶ δύναιντο λαβεῖν καὶ ἀποκτείνειν, ἀποκτεινύναι ἄν;

No question, he said.

Σφόδρα γ', ἔφη.


Plato's Interpretation of his parable:

This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual [noetic] world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. 

Ταύτην τοίνυν, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, τὴν εἰκόνα, ὦ φίλε  Γλαύκων, προσαπτέον ἅπασαν τοῖς ἔμπροσθεν λεγομένοις, τὴν μὲν δι' ὄψεως φαινομένην ἕδραν τῇ τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου οἰκήσει ἀφομοιοῦντα, τὸ δὲ τοῦ πυρὸς ἐν αὐτῇ φῶς τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου δυνάμει· τὴν δὲ ἄνω ἀνάβασιν καὶ θέαν τῶν ἄνω τὴν εἰς τὸν νοητὸν τόπον τῆς ψυχῆς ἄνοδον τιθεὶς οὐχ ἁμαρτήσῃ τῆς γ' ἐμῆς ἐλπίδος, ἐπειδὴ ταύτης ἐπιθυμεῖς ἀκούειν. θεὸς δέ που οἶδεν εἰ ἀληθὴς οὖσα τυγχάνει.̈

   But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.  τὰ δ' οὖν ἐμοὶ φαινόμενα οὕτω φαίνεται, ἐν τῷ γνωστῷ τελευταία ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα καὶ μόγις ὁρᾶσθαι, ὀφθεῖσα δὲ συλλογιστέα εἶναι ὡς ἄρα πᾶσι πάντων αὕτη ὀρθῶν τε καὶ καλῶν αἰτία, ἔν τε ὁρατῷ φῶς καὶ τὸν τούτου κύριον τεκοῦσα, ἔν τε νοητῷ αὐτὴ κυρία ἀλήθειαν καὶ νοῦν παρασχομένη, καὶ ὅτι δεῖ ταύτην ἰδεῖν τὸν μέλλοντα ἐμφρόνως πράξειν ἢ ἰδίᾳ ἢ δημοσίᾳ.̈

I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you. 

Συνοίομαι, ἔφη, καὶ ἐγώ, ὅν γε δὴ τρόπον δύναμαι.

Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

Ιθι τοίνυν, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, καὶ τόδε συνοιήθητι καὶ μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι οἱ ἐνταῦθα ἐλθόντες οὐκ ἐθέλουσιν τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων πράττειν, ἀλλ' ἄνω ἀεὶ ἐπείγονται αὐτῶν αἱ ψυχαὶ διατρίβειν· εἰκὸς γάρ που οὕτως, εἴπερ αὖ κατὰ τὴν προειρημένην εἰκόνα τοῦτ' ἔχει.

Yes, very natural.

  Εἰκὸς μέντοι, ἔφη.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?

Τί δέ; τόδε οἴει τι θαυμαστόν, εἰ ἀπὸ θείων, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, θεωριῶν ἐπὶ τὰ ἀνθρώπειά τις ἐλθὼν κακὰ ἀσχημονεῖ τε καὶ φαίνεται σφόδρα γελοῖος ἔτι ἀμβλυώττων καὶ πρὶν ἱκανῶς συνήθης γενέσθαι τῷ παρόντι σκότῳ ἀναγκαζόμενος ἐν δικαστηρίοις ἢ ἄλλοθί που ἀγωνίζεσθαι περὶ τῶν τοῦ δικαίου σκιῶν ἢ ἀγαλμάτων ὧν αἱ σκιαί, καὶ διαμιλλᾶσθαι περὶ τούτου, ὅπῃ ποτὲ ὑπολαμβάνεται ταῦτα ὑπὸ τῶν αὐτὴν δικαιοσύνην μὴ πώποτε ἰδόντων;

Anything but surprising, he replied.

Οὐδ' ὁπωστιοῦν θαυμαστόν, ἔφη.

Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.

̓Αλλ' εἰ νοῦν γε ἔχοι τις, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, μεμνῇτ' ἂν ὅτι διτταὶ καὶ ἀπὸ διττῶν γίγνονται ἐπιταράξεις ὄμμασιν, ἔκ τε φωτὸς εἰς σκότος μεθισταμένων καὶ ἐκ σκότους εἰς φῶς. ταὐτὰ δὲ ταῦτα νομίσας γίγνεσθαι καὶ περὶ ψυχήν, ὁπότε ἴδοι θορυβουμένην τινὰ καὶ ἀδυνατοῦσάν τι καθορᾶν, οὐκ ἂν ἀλογίστως γελῷ, ἀλλ' ἐπισκοποῖ ἂν πότερον ἐκ φανοτέρου βίου ἥκουσα ὑπὸ ἀηθείας ἐσκότωται, ἢ ἐξ ἀμαθίας πλείονος εἰς φανότερον ἰοῦσα ὑπὸ λαμπροτέρου μαρμαρυγῆς ἐμπέπλησται, καὶ οὕτω δὴ τὴν μὲν εὐδαιμονίσειεν ἂν τοῦ πάθους τε καὶ βίου, τὴν δὲ ἐλεήσειεν, καὶ εἰ γελᾶν ἐπ' αὐτῇ βούλοιτο, ἧττον ἂν καταγέλαστος ὁ γέλως αὐτῷ εἴη ἢ ὁ ἐπὶ τῇ ἄνωθεν ἐκ φωτὸς ἡκούσῃ.

That, he said, is a very just distinction.

Καὶ μάλα, ἔφη, μετρίως λέγεις.

But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.

Δεῖ δή, εἶπον, ἡμᾶς τοιόνδε νομίσαι περὶ αὐτῶν, εἰ ταῦτ' ἀληθῆ· τὴν παιδείαν οὐχ οἵαν τινὲς ἐπαγγελλόμενοί φασιν εἶναι τοιαύτην καὶ εἶναι. φασὶ δέ που οὐκ ἐνούσης ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ ἐπιστήμης σφεῖς ἐντιθέναι, οἷον τυφλοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ὄψιν ἐντιθέντες.

They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

Φασὶ γὰρ οὖν, ἔφη.

Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.

Ὁ δέ γε νῦν λόγος, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, σημαίνει ταύτην τὴν ἐνοῦσαν ἑκάστου δύναμιν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ καὶ τὸ ὄργανον ᾧ καταμανθάνει ἕκαστος, οἷον εἰ ὄμμα μὴ δυνατὸν ἦν ἄλλως ἢ σὺν ὅλῳ τῷ σώματι στρέφειν πρὸς τὸ φανὸν ἐκ τοῦ σκοτώδους, οὕτω σὺν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ ἐκ τοῦ γιγνομένου περιακτέον εἶναι, ἕως ἂν εἰς τὸ ὂν καὶ τοῦ ὄντος τὸ φανότατον δυνατὴ γένηται ἀνασχέσθαι θεωμένη· τοῦτο δ' εἶναί φαμεν τἀγαθόν. ἦ γάρ;

Very true.

Ναί.


Virtue: The Path to Noetic Vision
 

And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?

Τούτου τοίνυν, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, αὐτοῦ τέχνη ἂν εἴη, τῆς περιαγωγῆς, τίνα τρόπον ὡς ῥᾷστά τε καὶ ἀνυσιμώτατα μεταστραφήσεται, οὐ τοῦ ἐμποιῆσαι αὐτῷ τὸ ὁρᾶν, ἀλλ' ὡς ἔχοντι μὲν αὐτό, οὐκ ὀρθῶς δὲ τετραμμένῳ οὐδὲ βλέποντι οἷ ἔδει, τοῦτο διαμηχανήσασθαι.̈

Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed. 

)/Εοικεν γάρ, ἔφη.

And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness. 

Αἱ μὲν τοίνυν ἄλλαι ἀρεταὶ καλούμεναι ψυχῆς κινδυνεύουσιν ἐγγύς τι εἶναι τῶν τοῦ σώματος–τῷ ὄντι γὰρ οὐκ ἐνοῦσαι πρότερον ὕστερον ἐμποιεῖσθαι ἔθεσι καὶ ἀσκήσεσιν–ἡ δὲ τοῦ φρονῆσαι παντὸς μᾶλλον θειοτέρου τινὸς τυγχάνει, ὡς ἔοικεν, οὖσα, ὃ τὴν μὲν δύναμιν οὐδέποτε ἀπόλλυσιν, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς περιαγωγῆς χρήσιμόν τε καὶ ὠφέλιμον καὶ ἄχρηστον αὖ καὶ βλαβερὸν γίγνεται. ἢ οὔπω ἐννενόηκας, τῶν λεγομένων πονηρῶν μέν, σοφῶν δέ, ὡς δριμὺ μὲν βλέπει τὸ ψυχάριον καὶ ὀξέως διορᾷ ταῦτα ἐφ' ἃ τέτραπται, ὡς οὐ φαύλην ἔχον τὴν ὄψιν, κακίᾳ δ' ἠναγκασμένον ὑπηρετεῖν, ὥστε ὅσῳ ἂν ὀξύτερον βλέπῃ, τοσούτῳ πλείω κακὰ ἐργαζόμενον;

Very true, he said. 

Πάνυ μὲν οὖν, ἔφη.

But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.

Τοῦτο μέντοι, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, τὸ τῆς τοιαύτης φύσεως εἰ ἐκ παιδὸς εὐθὺς κοπτόμενον περιεκόπη τὰς τῆς γενέσεως συγγενεῖς ὥσπερ μολυβδίδας, αἳ δὴ ἐδωδαῖς τε καὶ τοιούτων ἡδοναῖς τε καὶ λιχνείαις προσφυεῖς γιγνόμεναι [περὶ] κάτω στρέφουσι τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ὄψιν· ὧν εἰ ἀπαλλαγὲν περιεστρέφετο εἰς τὰ ἀληθῆ, καὶ ἐκεῖνα ἂν τὸ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τῶν αὐτῶν ἀνθρώπων ὀξύτατα ἑώρα, ὥσπερ καὶ ἐφ' ἃ νῦν τέτραπται.

Very likely.

Εἰκός γε, ἔφη.

Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely. or rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.

Τί δέ; τόδε οὐκ εἰκός, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, καὶ ἀνάγκη ἐκ τῶν προειρημένων, μήτε τοὺς ἀπαιδεύτους καὶ ἀληθείας ἀπείρους ἱκανῶς ἄν ποτε πόλιν ἐπιτροπεῦσαι, μήτε τοὺς ἐν παιδείᾳ ἐωμένους διατρίβειν διὰ τέλους, τοὺς μὲν ὅτι σκοπὸν ἐν τῷ βίῳ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἕνα, οὗ στοχαζομένους δεῖ ἅπαντα πράττειν ἃ ἂν πράττωσιν ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ, τοὺς δὲ ὅτι ἑκόντες εἶναι οὐ πράξουσιν, ἡγούμενοι ἐν μακάρων νήσοις ζῶντες ἔτι ἀπῳκίσθαι;

Very true, he replied.

)Αληθῆ, ἔφη.

Compel Contemplatives to Return, both to serve the State and to Enlighten their Brethren:

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

(Ημέτερον δὴ ἔργον, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, τῶν οἰκιστῶν τάς τε βελτίστας φύσεις ἀναγκάσαι ἀφικέσθαι πρὸς τὸ μάθημα ὃ ἐν τῷ πρόσθεν ἔφαμεν εἶναι μέγιστον, ἰδεῖν τε τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἀναβῆναι ἐκείνην τὴν ἀνάβασιν, καὶ ἐπειδὰν ἀναβάντες ἱκανῶς ἴδωσι, μὴ ἐπιτρέπειν αὐτοῖς ὃ νῦν ἐπιτρέπεται.

What do you mean?

Τὸ ποῖον δή;

I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labours and honours, whether they are worth having or not.

Τὸ αὐτοῦ, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, καταμένειν καὶ μὴ ἐθέλειν πάλιν καταβαίνειν παρ' ἐκείνους τοὺς δεσμώτας μηδὲ μετέχειν τῶν παρ' ἐκείνοις πόνων τε καὶ τιμῶν, εἴτε φαυλότεραι εἴτε σπουδαιότεραι.

But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?

)/Επειτ', ἔφη, ἀδικήσομεν αὐτούς, καὶ ποιήσομεν χεῖρον ζῆν, δυνατὸν αὐτοῖς ὂν ἄμεινον;

You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

[Resp 520.d.4]  ᾿ Επελάθου, ἦν δ' ἐγώ, πάλιν, ὦ φίλε, ὅτι νόμῳ οὐ τοῦτο μέλει, ὅπως ἕν τι γένος ἐν πόλει διαφερόντως εὖ πράξει, ἀλλ' ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ πόλει τοῦτο μηχανᾶται ἐγγενέσθαι, συναρμόττων τοὺς πολίτας πειθοῖ τε καὶ ἀνάγκῃ, ποιῶν μεταδιδόναι ἀλλήλοις τῆς ὠφελίας ἣν ἂν ἕκαστοι τὸ κοινὸν δυνατοὶ ὦσιν ὠφελεῖν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐμποιῶν τοιούτους ἄνδρας ἐν τῇ πόλει, οὐχ ἵνα ἀφιῇ τρέπεσθαι ὅπῃ ἕκαστος βούλεται, ἀλλ' ἵνα καταχρῆται αὐτὸς αὐτοῖς ἐπὶ τὸν σύνδεσμον τῆς πόλεως.

True, he said, I had forgotten.

)Αληθῆ, ἔφη· ἐπελαθόμην γάρ.

Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst. 

Σκέψαι τοίνυν, εἶπον, ὦ  Γλαύκων, ὅτι οὐδ' ἀδικήσομεν τοὺς παρ' ἡμῖν φιλοσόφους γιγνομένους, ἀλλὰ δίκαια πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἐροῦμεν, προσαναγκάζοντες τῶν ἄλλων ἐπιμελεῖσθαί τε καὶ φυλάττειν. ἐροῦμεν γὰρ ὅτι οἱ μὲν ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις πόλεσι τοιοῦτοι γιγνόμενοι εἰκότως οὐ μετέχουσι τῶν ἐν αὐταῖς πόνων· αὐτόματοι γὰρ ἐμφύονται ἀκούσης τῆς ἐν ἑκάστῃ πολιτείας, δίκην δ' ἔχει τό γε αὐτοφυὲς μηδενὶ τροφὴν ὀφεῖλον μηδ' ἐκτίνειν τῳ προθυμεῖσθαι τὰ τροφεῖα· ὑμᾶς δ' ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν τε αὐτοῖς τῇ τε ἄλλῃ πόλει ὥσπερ ἐν σμήνεσιν ἡγεμόνας τε καὶ βασιλέας ἐγεννήσαμεν, ἄμεινόν τε καὶ τελεώτερον ἐκείνων πεπαιδευμένους καὶ μᾶλλον δυνατοὺς ἀμφοτέρων μετέχειν. καταβατέον οὖν ἐν μέρει ἑκάστῳ εἰς τὴν τῶν ἄλλων συνοίκησιν καὶ συνεθιστέον τὰ σκοτεινὰ θεάσασθαι· συνεθιζόμενοι γὰρ μυρίῳ βέλτιον ὄψεσθε τῶν ἐκεῖ καὶ γνώσεσθε ἕκαστα τὰ εἴδωλα ἅττα ἐστὶ καὶ ὧν, διὰ τὸ τἀληθῆ ἑωρακέναι καλῶν τε καὶ δικαίων καὶ ἀγαθῶν πέρι. καὶ οὕτω ὕπαρ ἡμῖν καὶ ὑμῖν ἡ πόλις οἰκήσεται ἀλλ' οὐκ ὄναρ, ὡς νῦν αἱ πολλαὶ ὑπὸ σκιαμαχούντων τε πρὸς ἀλλήλους καὶ στασιαζόντων περὶ τοῦ ἄρχειν οἰκοῦνται, ὡς μεγάλου τινὸς ἀγαθοῦ ὄντος. τὸ δέ που ἀληθὲς ὧδ' ἔχει· ἐν πόλει ᾗ ἥκιστα πρόθυμοι ἄρχειν οἱ μέλλοντες ἄρξειν, ταύτην ἄριστα καὶ ἀστασιαστότατα ἀνάγκη οἰκεῖσθαι, τὴν δ' ἐναντίους ἄρχοντας σχοῦσαν ἐναντίως.

Quite true, he replied. 

Πάνυ μὲν οὖν, ἔφη.

And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light? 

)Απειθήσουσιν οὖν ἡμῖν οἴει οἱ τρόφιμοι ταῦτ' ἀκούοντες, καὶ οὐκ ἐθελήσουσιν συμπονεῖν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἕκαστοι ἐν μέρει, τὸν δὲ πολὺν χρόνον μετ' ἀλλήλων οἰκεῖν ἐν τῷ καθαρῷ;

Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State. 

)Αδύνατον, ἔφη· δίκαια γὰρ δὴ δικαίοις ἐπιτάξομεν. παντὸς μὴν μᾶλλον ὡς ἐπ' ἀναγκαῖον αὐτῶν ἕκαστος εἶσι τὸ ἄρχειν, τοὐναντίον τῶν νῦν ἐν ἑκάστῃ πόλει ἀρχόντων.