|The Dialogues of Plato|
(Excerpt) translated by Benjamin Jowett
Then now let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to realize our idea of them. In the first place, none of them should have any property of his own beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should they have a private house or store closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; they should agree to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year and no more; and they will go to mess and live together like soldiers in a camp. Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from God, the diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of the dross which is current among them, and ought not to pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture; for that commoner metal has been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled. And they alone of all the citizen may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be
under the same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them And this will be their salvation, and they
will be the saviors of the State. But should they ever acquire homes or lands or money of their own, they will become housekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the
other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against, they will pass their whole life in
much greater terror of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin. both to themselves and to the rest
of the State, will be at hand. For all which reasons may we not say that thus shall our State be ordered, and that
these shall be the regulations appointed by us for our guardians concerning their houses and all other matters?
Yes, said Glaucon. . . .
* * *
I said: Until philosophers are kings, or the king and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either
to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, --no,
nor the human race, as I believe, --and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the
light of day.
From Plato. The Dialogues of Plato, Benjamin Jowett trans.
RESOURCE: World Civilizations
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