Republic (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (45 page)

BOOK: Republic (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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Yes, I said; and men of this stamp will be covetous of money, like those who live in oligarchies; they will have a fierce secret longing after gold and silver, which they will hoard in dark places, having magazines and treasuries of their own for the deposit and concealment of them; also castles which are just nests for their eggs, and in which they will spend large sums on their wives, or on any others whom they please.
That is most true, he said.
And they are miserly because they have no means of openly acquiring the money which they prize; they will spend that which is another man’s on the gratification of their desires, stealing their pleasures and running away like children from the law, their father: they have been schooled not by gentle influences but by force, for they have neglected her who is the true muse, the companion of reason and philosophy, and have honored gymnastics more than music.
Undoubtedly, he said, the form of government which you describe is a mixture of good and evil.
Why, there is a mixture, I said; but one thing, and one thing only, is predominantly seen—the spirit of contention and ambition; and these are due to the prevalence of the passionate or spirited element.
Assuredly, he said.
Such is the origin and such the character of this State, which has been described in outline only; the more perfect execution was not required, for a sketch is enough to show the type of the most perfectly just and most perfectly unjust; and to go through all the States and all the characters of men, omitting none of them, would be an interminable labor.
Very true, he replied.
Now what man answers to this form of government—how did he come into being, and what is he like?
I think, said Adeimantus, that in the spirit of contention which characterizes him, he is not unlike our friend Glaucon.
Perhaps, I said, he may be like him in that one point; but there are other respects in which he is very different.
In what respects?
He should have more of self -assertion and be less cultivated and yet a friend of culture; and he should be a good listener but no speaker. Such a person is apt to be rough with slaves, unlike the educated man, who is too proud for that; and he will also be courteous to freemen, and remarkably obedient to authority; he is a lover of power and a lover of honor; claiming to be a ruler, not because he is eloquent, or on any ground of that sort, but because he is a soldier and has performed feats of arms; he is also a lover of gymnastic exercises and of the chase.
Yes, that is the type of character that answers to timocracy.
Such a one will despise riches only when he is young; but as he gets older he will be more and more attracted to them, because he has a piece of the avaricious nature in him, and is not single-minded toward virtue, having lost his best guardian.
Who was that? said Adeimantus.
Philosophy, I said, tempered with music, who comes and takes up her abode in a man, and is the only saviour of his virtue throughout life.
Good, he said.
Such, I said, is the timocratical youth, and he is like the timocratical State.
His origin is as follows:
He is often the young son of a brave father, who dwells in an ill-governed city, of which he declines the honors and offices, and will not go to law, or exert himself in any way, but is ready to waive his rights in order that he may escape trouble.
And how does the son come into being?
The character of the son begins to develop when he hears his mother complaining that her husband has no place in the government, of which the consequence is that she has no precedence among other women. Further, when she sees her husband not very eager about money, and instead of battling and railing in the law courts or assembly, taking whatever happens to him quietly; and when she observes that his thoughts always centre in himself, while he treats her with very considerable indifference, she is annoyed, and says to her son that his father is only half a man and far too easy-going: adding all the other complaints about her own ill-treatment which women are so fond of rehearsing.
Yes, said Adeimantus, they give us plenty of them, and their complaints are so like themselves.
And you know, I said, that the old servants also, who are supposed to be attached to the family, from time to time talk privately in the same strain to the son; and if they see anyone who owes money to his father, or is wronging him in any way, and he fails to prosecute them, they tell the youth that when he grows up he must retaliate upon people of this sort, and be more of a man than his father. He has only to walk abroad and he hears and sees the same sort of thing: those who do their own business in the city are called simpletons, and held in no esteem, while the busy-bodies are honored and applauded. The result is that the young man, hearing and seeing all these things—hearing, too, the words of his father, and having a nearer view of his way of life, and making comparisons of him and others—is drawn opposite ways: while his father is watering and nourishing the rational principle in his soul, the others are encouraging the passionate and appetitive; and he being not originally of a bad nature, but having kept bad company, is at last brought by their joint influence to a middle point, and gives up the kingdom which is within him to the middle principle of con tentiousness and passion, and becomes arrogant and ambitious.
You seem to me to have described his origin perfectly.
Then we have now, I said, the second form of government and the second type of character?
We have.
Next, let us look at another man who, as Æschylus says, or rather, as our plan requires, begin with the State.
“Is set over against another State;”
By all means.
I believe that oligarchy follows next in order.
And what manner of government do you term oligarchy?
A government resting on a valuation of property, in which the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it.
1 understand, he replied.
Ought I not to begin by describing how the change from timocracy to oligarchy arises?
Well, I said, no eyes are required in order to see how the one passes into the other.
The accumulation of gold in the treasury of private individuals is the ruin of timocracy; they invent illegal modes of expenditure; for what do they or their wives care about the law?
Yes, indeed.
And then one, seeing another grow rich, seeks to rival him, and thus the great mass of the citizens become lovers of money.
Likely enough.
And so they grow richer and richer, and the more they think of making a fortune the less they think of virtue; for when riches and virtue are placed together in the scales of the balance the one always rises as the other falls.
And in proportion as riches and rich men are honored in the State, virtue and the virtuous are dishonored.
And what is honored is cultivated, and that which has no honor is neglected.
That is obvious.
And so at last, instead of loving contention and glory, men become lovers of trade and money; they honor and look up to the rich man, and make a ruler of him, and dishonor the poor man.
They do so.
They next proceed to make a law which fixes a sum of money as the qualification of citizenship;
the sum is higher in one place and lower in another, as the oligarchy is more or less exclusive; and they allow no one whose property falls below the amount fixed to have any share in the government. These changes in the constitution they effect by force of arms, if intimidation has not already done their work.
Very true.
And this, speaking generally, is the way in which oligarchy is established.
Yes, he said; but what are the characteristics of this form of government, and what are the defects of which we were speaking?
First of all, I said, consider the nature of the qualification. Just think what would happen if pilots were to be chosen according to their property, and a poor man were refused permission to steer, even though he were a better pilot?
You mean that they would shipwreck?
Yes; and is not this true of the government of anything?
I should imagine so.
Except a city?—or would you include a city?
Nay, he said, the case of a city is the strongest of all, inasmuch as the rule of a city is the greatest and most difficult of all.
This, then, will be the first great defect of oligarchy?
And here is another defect which is quite as bad.
What defect?
The inevitable division: such a State is not one, but two States, the one of poor, the other of rich men; and they are living on the same spot and always conspiring against one another.
That, surely, is at least as bad.
Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they are incapable of carrying on any war. Either they arm the multitude, and then they are more afraid of them than of the enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hour of battle, they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule. And at the same time their fondness for money makes them unwilling to pay taxes.
How discreditable!
And, as we said before, under such a constitution the same persons have too many callings—they are husbandmen, tradesmen, warriors, all in one. Does that look well?
Anything but well.
There is another evil which is, perhaps, the greatest of all, and to which this State first begins to be liable.
What evil?
A man may sell all that he has, and another may acquire his property; yet after the sale he may dwell in the city of which he is no longer a part, being neither trader, nor artisan, nor horseman, nor hoplite,
but only a poor, helpless creature.
Yes, that is an evil which also first begins in this State.
The evil is certainly not prevented there; for oligarchies have both the extremes of great wealth and utter poverty.
But think again: In his wealthy days, while he was spending his money, was a man of this sort a whit more good to the State for the purposes of citizenship? Or did he only seem to be a member of the ruling body, although in truth he was neither ruler nor subject, but just a spendthrift?
As you say, he seemed to be a ruler, but was only a spendthrift.
May we not say that this is the drone in the house who is like the drone in the honeycomb, and that the one is the plague of the city as the other is of the hive?
Just so, Socrates.
And God has made the flying drones, Adeimantus, all without stings, whereas of the walking drones he has made some without stings, but others have dreadful stings; of the stingless class are those who in their old age end as paupers; of the stingers come all the criminal class, as they are termed.
Most true, he said.
Clearly then, whenever you see paupers in a State, somewhere in that neighborhood there are hidden away thieves and cut purses and robbers of temples, and all sorts of malefactors.
Well, I said, and in oligarchical States do you not find paupers?
Yes, he said; nearly everybody is a pauper who is not a ruler.
And may we be so bold as to affirm that there are also many criminals to be found in them, rogues who have stings, and whom the authorities are careful to restrain by force?
Certainly, we may be so bold.
The existence of such persons is to be attributed to want of education, ill-training, and an evil constitution of the State?
Such, then, is the form and such are the evils of oligarchy; and there may be many other evils.
Very likely.
Then oligarchy, or the form of government in which the rulers are elected for their wealth, may now be dismissed. Let us next proceed to consider the nature and origin of the individual who answers to this State.
By all means.
Does not the timocratical man change into the oligarchical on this wise?
A time arrives when the representative of timocracy has a son: at first he begins by emulating his father and walking in his foot-steps, but presently he sees him of a sudden foundering against the State as upon a sunken reef, and he and all that he has are lost; he may have been a general or some other high officer who is brought to trial under a prejudice raised by informers, and either put to death or exiled or deprived of the privileges of a citizen, and all his property taken from him.
Nothing more likely.
And the son has seen and known all this—he is a ruined man, and his fear has taught him to knock ambition and passion head-foremost from his bosom’s throne; humbled by poverty he takes to money-making, and by mean and miserly savings and hard work gets a fortune together. Is not such a one likely to seat the concupiscent and covetous element on the vacant throne and to suffer it to play the great king within him, girt with tiara and chain and scimitar?
BOOK: Republic (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
12.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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