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The Republic

Here Adeimantus interposed a question: How would you answer, Socrates, said he, if a
person were to say that you are making these people miserable, and that they are the
cause of their own unhappiness; the city in fact belongs to them, but they are none the
better for it; whereas other men acquire lands, and build large and handsome houses, and
have everything handsome about them, offering sacrifices to the gods on their own
account, and practising hospitality; moreover, as you were saying just now, they have
gold and silver, and all that is usual among the favourites of fortune; but our poor citizens
are no better than mercenaries who are quartered in the city and are always mounting
Yes, I said; and you may add that they are only fed, and not paid in addition to their food,
like other men; and therefore they cannot, if they would, take a journey of pleasure; they
have no money to spend on a mistress or any other luxurious fancy, which, as the world
goes, is thought to be happiness; and many other accusations of the same nature might be
But, said he, let us suppose all this to be included in the charge.
You mean to ask, I said, what will be our answer?
If we proceed along the old path, my belief, I said, is that we shall find the answer. And
our answer will be that, even as they are, our guardians may very likely be the happiest of
men; but that our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any
one class, but the greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a State which is
ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to find justice, and
in the ill-ordered State injustice: and, having found them, we might then decide which of
the two is the happier. At present, I take it, we are fashioning the happy State, not
piecemeal, or with a view of making a few happy citizens, but as a whole; and by-and-by
we will proceed to view the opposite kind of State. Suppose that we were painting a
statue, and some one came up to us and said, Why do you not put the most beautiful
colours on the most beautiful parts of the body--the eyes ought to be purple, but you have
made them black--to him we might fairly answer, Sir, you would not surely have us
beautify the eyes to such a degree that they are no longer eyes; consider rather whether,
by giving this and the other features their due proportion, we make the whole beautiful.
And so I say to you, do not compel us to assign to the guardians a sort of happiness which
will make them anything but guardians; for we too can clothe our husbandmen in royal
apparel, and set crowns of gold on their heads, and bid them till the ground as much as
they like, and no more. Our potters also might be allowed to repose on couches, and feast
by the fireside, passing round the winecup, while their wheel is conveniently at hand, and
working at pottery only as much as they like; in this way we might make every class
happy--and then, as you imagine, the whole State would be happy. But do not put this
idea into our heads; for, if we listen to you, the husbandman will be no longer a