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This page collects the texts of Plato's myths from the English translations by W.R.M. Lamb (Plato in Twelve Volumes, published by Harvard University Press and William Heinemann Ltd).


320cThere was once a time when there were gods, but no mortal creatures. dAnd when to these also came their destined time to be created, the gods moulded their forms within the earth, of a mixture made of earth and fire and all substances that are compounded with fire and earth. When they were about to bring these creatures to light, they charged Prometheus and Epimetheus to deal to each the equipment of his proper faculty. Epimetheus besought Prometheus that he might do the dealing himself;

"And when I have dealt," he said, "you shall examine."

eHaving thus persuaded him he dealt; and in dealing he attached strength without speed; to some, while the weaker he equipped with speed; and some he armed, while devising for others, along with an unarmed condition, some different faculty for preservation. To those which he invested with smallness he dealt a winged escape or an underground habitation; those which he increased in largeness he preserved 321aby this very means; and he dealt all the other properties on this plan of compensation.

In contriving all this he was taking precaution that no kind should be extinguished; and when he had equipped them with avoidances of mutual destruction, he devised a provision against the seasons ordained by Heaven, in clothing them about with thick-set hair and solid hides, sufficient to ward off winter yet able to shield them also from the heats, and so that on going to their lairs they might find in these same things a bedding of their own that was native to each; and some he shod with hoofs, bothers with claws and solid, bloodless hides. Then he proceeded to furnish each of them with its proper food, some with pasture of the earth, others with fruits of trees, and others again with roots; and to a certain number for food he gave other creatures to devour: to some he attached a paucity in breeding, and to others, which were being consumed by these, a plenteous brood, and so procured survival of their kind.

Now Epimetheus, being not so wise as he might be, cheedlessly squandered his stock of properties on the brutes; he still had left unequipped the race of men, and was at a loss what to do with it. As he was casting about, Prometheus arrived to examine his distribution, and saw that whereas the other creatures were fully and suitably provided, man was naked, unshod, unbedded, unarmed; and already the destined day was come, whereon man like the rest should emerge from earth to light.

Then Prometheus, in his perplexity as to what preservation he could devise for man, stole from Hephaestus and Athena wisdom in the arts dtogether with fire - since by no means without fire could it be acquired or helpfully used by any - and he handed it there and then as a gift to man. Now although man acquired in this way the wisdom of daily life, civic wisdom he had not, since this was in the possession of Zeus; Prometheus could not make so free as to enter the citadel which is the dwelling-place of Zeus, and moreover the guards of Zeus were terrible: but he entered unobserved the building shared by Athena and Hephaestus efor the pursuit of their arts, and stealing Hephaestus's fiery art and all Athena's also he gave them to man, and hence it is 322athat man gets facility for his livelihood, but Prometheus, through Epimetheus' fault, later on (the story goes) stood his trial for theft.

And now that man was partaker of a divine portion, he, in the first place, by his nearness of kin to deity, was the only creature that worshipped gods, and set himself to establish altars and holy images; and secondly, he soon was enabled by his skill to articulate speech and words, and to invent dwellings, clothes, sandals, beds, and the foods that are of the earth. Thus far provided, men dwelt separately in the beginning, and cities there were none; bso that they were being destroyed by the wild beasts, since these were in all ways stronger than they; and although their skill in handiwork was a sufficient aid in respect of food, in their warfare with the beasts it was defective; for as yet they had no civic art, which includes the art of war. So they sought to band themselves together and secure their lives by founding cities. Now as often as they were banded together they did wrong to one another through the lack of civic art, cand thus they began to be scattered again and to perish. So Zeus, fearing that our race was in danger of utter destruction, sent Hermes to bring respect and right among men, to the end that there should be regulation of cities and friendly ties to draw them together. Then Hermes asked Zeus in what manner then was he to give men right and respect:

"Am I to deal them out as the arts have been dealt? That dealing was done in such wise that one man possessing medical art is able to treat many ordinary men, and so with the other craftsmen. Am I to place among men right and respect in this way also, or deal them out to all?"

d"To all," replied Zeus; "let all have their share: for cities cannot be formed if only a few have a share of these as of other arts. And make thereto a law of my ordaining, that he who cannot partake of respect and right shall die the death as a public pest."

Hence it comes about, Socrates, that people in cities, and especially in Athens, consider it the concern of a few to advise on cases of artistic excellence or good craftsmanship, eand if anyone outside the few gives advice they disallow it, as you say, and not without reason, as I think: but when they meet for a consultation on civic art, 323awhere they should be guided throughout by justice and good sense, they naturally allow advice from everybody, since it is held that everyone should partake of this excellence, or else that states cannot be.


524aGive ear then, as they say, to a right fine story, which you will regard as a fable, I fancy, but I as an actual account; for what I am about to tell you I mean to offer as the truth.

By Homer's account, Zeus, Poseidon, and Pluto divided the sovereignty amongst them when they took it over from their father. Now in the time of Cronos there was a law concerning mankind, and it holds to this very day amongst the gods, that every man who has passed a just and holy life departs after his decease bto the Isles of the Blest, and dwells in all happiness apart from ill; but whoever has lived unjustly and impiously goes to the dungeon of requital and penance which, you know, they call Tartarus. Of these men there were judges in Cronos' time, and still of late in the reign of Zeus—living men to judge the living upon the day when each was to breathe his last; and thus the cases were being decided amiss. So Pluto and the overseers from the Isles of the Blest came before Zeus with the report that they found men passing over to either abode undeserving.

cThen spake Zeus: "Nay," said he, "I will put a stop to these proceedings. The cases are now indeed judged ill and it is because they who are on trial are tried in their clothing, for they are tried alive. Now many," said he, "who have wicked souls are clad in fair bodies and ancestry and wealth, and at their judgement appear many witnesses to testify that their lives have been just.

"Now, the judges are confounded not only by their evidence dbut at the same time by being clothed themselves while they sit in judgement, having their own soul muffled in the veil of eyes and ears and the whole body. Thus all these are a hindrance to them, their own habiliments no less than those of the judged.

"Well, first of all," he said, "we must put a stop to their foreknowledge of their death; for this they at present foreknow. However, Prometheus has already been given the word eto stop this in them. Next they must be stripped bare of all those things before they are tried; for they must stand their trial dead. Their judge also must be naked, dead, beholding with very soul the very soul of each immediately upon his death, bereft of all his kin and having left behind on earth all that fine array, to the end that the judgement may be just.

"Now I, knowing all this before you, have appointed sons of my own to be judges; two from Asia, Minos and Rhadamanthus, 524aand one from Europe, Aeacus. These, when their life is ended, shall give judgement in the meadow at the dividing of the road, whence are the two ways leading, one to the Isles of the Blest, and the other to Tartarus. And those who come from Asia shall Rhadamanthus try, and those from Europe, Aeacus; and to Minos I will give the privilege of the final decision, if the other two be in any doubt; that the judgement upon this journey of mankind may be supremely just."

This, Callicles, is what I have heard and believe to be true; band from these stories, on my reckoning, we must draw some such moral as this: death, as it seems to me, is actually nothing but the disconnection of two things, the soul and the body, from each other. And so when they are disconnected from one another, each of them keeps its own condition very much as it was when the man was alive, the body having its own nature, with its treatments and experiences all manifest upon it.

For instance, cif anyone's body was large by nature or by feeding or by both when he was alive, his corpse will be large also when he is dead; and if he was fat, it will be fat too after his death, and so on for the rest; or again, if he used to follow the fashion of long hair, long-haired also will be his corpse. Again, if anyone had been a sturdy rogue, and bore traces of his stripes in scars on his body, either from the whip or from other wounds, while yet alive, then after death too his body has these marks visible upon it; or if anyone's limbs were broken or distorted in life, these same effects are manifest in death. dIn a word, whatever sort of bodily appearance a man had acquired in life, that is manifest also after his death either wholly or in the main for some time.

And so it seems to me that the same is the case with the soul too, Callicles: when a man's soul is stripped bare of the body, all its natural gifts, and the experiences added to that soul as the result of his various pursuits, are manifest in it. So when they have arrived ein presence of their judge, they of Asia before Rhadamanthus, these Rhadamanthus sets before him and surveys the soul of each, not knowing whose it is; nay, often when he has laid hold of the Great King or some other prince or potentate, he perceives the utter unhealthiness of his soul, striped all over with the scourge, and a mass of wounds, the work of perjuries and injustice; 525awhere every act has left its smirch upon his soul, where all is awry through falsehood and imposture, and nothing straight because of a nurture that knew not truth: or, as the result of an unbridled course of fastidiousness, insolence, and incontinence, he finds the soul full fraught with disproportion and ugliness. Beholding this he sends it away in dishonor straight to the place of custody, where on its arrival it is to endure the sufferings that are fitting.

bAnd it is fitting that every one under punishment rightly inflicted on him by another should either be made better and profit thereby, or serve as an example to the rest, that others seeing the sufferings he endures may in fear amend themselves. Those who are benefited by the punishment they get from gods and men are they who have committed remediable offences; but still it is through bitter throes of pain that they receive their benefit both here and in the nether world; cfor in no other way can there be riddance of iniquity. But of those who have done extreme wrong and, as a result of such crimes, have become incurable, of those are the examples made; no longer are they profited at all themselves, since they are incurable, but others are profited who behold them undergoing for their transgressions the greatest, sharpest, and most fearful sufferings evermore, actually hung up as examples there in the infernal dungeon, a spectacle and a lesson to such of the wrongdoers das arrive from time to time.

Among them I say Archelaus also will be found, if what Polus tells us is true, and every other despot of his sort. And I think, moreover, that most of these examples have come from despots and kings and potentates and public administrators; for these, since they have a free hand, commit the greatest and most impious offences. Homer also testifies to this; for he has represented kings and potentates eas those who are punished everlastingly in the nether world - Tantalus and Sisyphus and Tityus; but Thersites, or any other private person who was wicked, has been portrayed by none as incurable and therefore subjected to heavy punishment; no doubt because he had not a free hand, and therefore was in fact happier than those who had. For in fact, Callicles, it is among the powerful 526athat we find the specially wicked men.

Still there is nothing to prevent good men being found even among these, and it deserves our special admiration when they are; for it is hard, Callicles, and deserving of no slight praise, when a man with a perfectly free hand for injustice lives always a just life. The men of this sort are but few; for indeed there have been, and I expect there yet will be, both here and elsewhere, men of honor and excellence bin this virtue of administering justly what is committed to their charge.

One in fact there has been whose fame stands high among us and throughout the rest of Greece, Aristeides, son of Lysimachus; but most of those in power, my excellent friend, prove to be bad. So, as I was saying, whenever the judge Rhadamanthus has to deal with such a one, he knows nothing else of him at all, neither who he is nor of what descent, but only that he is a wicked person and on perceiving this he sends him away to Tartarus, first setting a mark on him to show whether he deems it a curable or an incurable case; cand when the man arrives there he suffers what is fitting.

Sometimes, when he discerns another soul that has lived a holy life in company with truth, a private man's or any others - especially, as I claim, Callicles, a philosopher's who has minded his own business and not been a busybody in his lifetime - he is struck with admiration and sends it off to the Isles of the Blest. And exactly the same is the procedure of Aeacus: each of these two holds a rod in his hand as he gives judgement; but Minor sits as supervisor, distinguished by the golden scepter that he holds, das Odysseus in Homer tells how he saw him: -

Holding a golden scepter,
speaking dooms to the dead.
- Odyssey, 11.569.

Now for my part, Callicles, I am convinced by these accounts, and I consider how I may be able to show my judge that my soul is in the best of health. So giving the go - by to the honors that most men seek I shall try, by inquiry into the truth, to be really good in as high a degree as I am able, both in my life and, when I come to die, in my death.

eAnd I invite all other men likewise, to the best of my power, and you particularly I invite in return, to this life and this contest, which I say is worth all other contests on this earth; and I make it a reproach to you, that you will not be able to deliver yourself when your trial comes and the judgement of which I told you just now; but when you go before your judge, the son of Aegina, 527aand he grips you and drags you up, you will gape and feel dizzy there no less than I do here, and some one perhaps will give you, yes, a degrading box on the ear, and will treat you with every kind of contumely.

Possibly, however, you regard this as an old wife's tale, and despise it; and there would be no wonder in our despising it if with all our searching we could somewhere find anything better and truer than this: but as it is, you observe that you three, who are the wisest of the Greeks in our day - you and Polus and Gorgias - bare unable to prove that we ought to live any other life than this, which is evidently advantageous also in the other world.

But among the many statements we have made, while all the rest are refuted this one alone is unshaken - that doing wrong is to be more carefully shunned than suffering it; that above all things a man should study not to seem but to be good both in private and in public; that if one becomes bad in any respect one must be corrected; that this is good in the second place, - cnext to being just, to become so and to be corrected by paying the penalty; and that every kind of flattery, with regard either to oneself or to others, to few or to many, must be avoided; and that rhetoric is to be used for this one purpose always, of pointing to what is just, and so in every other activity.

Take my advice, therefore, and follow me where, if you once arrive, you will be happy both in life and after life's end, as this account declares.


81aThey were certain priests and priestesses who have studied so as to be able to give a reasoned account of their ministry; and Pindar also band many another poet of heavenly gifts. As to their words, they are these: mark now, if you judge them to be true. They say that the soul of man is immortal, and at one time comes to an end, which is called dying, and at another is born again, but never perishes. Consequently one ought to live all one's life in the utmost holiness.

cFor from whomsoever Persephone shall accept requital for ancient wrong, the souls of these she restores in the ninth year to the upper sun again; from them arise glorious kings and men of splendid might and surpassing wisdom, and for all remaining time are they called holy heroes amongst mankind.
- Pind. Fr. 133 Bergk.

Seeing then that the soul is immortal and has been born many times, and has beheld all things both in this world and in the nether realms, she has acquired knowledge of all and everything; so that it is no wonder that she should be able to recollect all that she knew before about virtue and other things.

For as dall nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things, there is no reason why we should not, by remembering but one single thing - an act which men call learning - discover everything else, if we have courage and faint not in the search; since, it would seem, research and learning are wholly recollection. So we must not hearken to that captious argument: it would make us idle, and is pleasing only to the indolent ear, whereas the other makes us energetic eand inquiring.


107b"But my friends," he said, "we ought to bear in mind, cthat, if the soul is immortal, we must care for it, not only in respect to this time, which we call life, but in respect to all time, and if we neglect it, the danger now appears to be terrible. For if death were an escape from everything, it would be a boon to the wicked, for when they die they would be freed from the body and from their wickedness together with their souls. But now, since the soul is seen to be immortal, it cannot escape dfrom evil or be saved in any other way than by becoming as good and wise as possible. For the soul takes with it to the other world nothing but its education and nurture, and these are said to benefit or injure the departed greatly from the very beginning of his journey thither.

"And so it is said that after death, the tutelary genius of each person, to whom he had been allotted in life, leads him to a place where the dead are gathered together; then they are judged and depart to the other world ewith the guide whose task it is to conduct thither those who come from this world; and when they have there received their due and remained through the time appointed, another guide brings them back after many long periods of time.

"And the journey is not as Telephus says in the play of Aeschylus; 108afor he says a simple path leads to the lower world, but I think the path is neither simple nor single, for if it were, there would be no need of guides, since no one could miss the way to any place if there were only one road. But really there seem to be many forks of the road and many windings; this I infer from the rites and ceremonies practiced here on earth.

"Now the orderly and wise soul follows its guide and understands its circumstances; but the soul that is desirous of the body, as I said before, flits about it, and in the visible world for a long time, band after much resistance and many sufferings is led away with violence and with difficulty by its appointed genius. And when it arrives at the place where the other souls are, the soul which is impure and has done wrong, by committing wicked murders or other deeds akin to those and the works of kindred souls, is avoided and shunned by all, and no one is willing to be its companion or its guide, cbut it wanders about alone in utter bewilderment, during certain fixed times, after which it is carried by necessity to its fitting habitation.

"But the soul that has passed through life in purity and righteousness, finds gods for companions and guides, and goes to dwell in its proper dwelling. Now there are many wonderful regions of the earth, and the earth itself is neither in size nor in other respects such as it is supposed to be by those who habitually discourse about it, as I believe on someone's authority." dAnd Simmias said, "What do you mean, Socrates? I have heard a good deal about the earth myself, but not what you believe; so I should like to hear it."

"Well Simmias, I do not think I need the art of Glaucus to tell what it is. But to prove that it is true would, I think, be too hard for the art of Glaucus, and perhaps I should not be able to do it; besides, even if I had the skill, I think my life, Simmias, will end before the discussion could be finished. However, there is nothing to prevent my telling ewhat I believe the form of the earth to be, and the regions in it."

"Well," said Simmias, "that will be enough."

"I am convinced, then," said he, "that in the first place, if the earth is round and in the middle of the heavens, it needs neither the air 109anor any other similar force to keep it from falling, but its own equipoise and the homogeneous nature of the heavens on all sides suffice to hold it in place; for a body which is in equipoise and is placed in the center of something which is homogeneous cannot change its inclination in any direction, but will remain always in the same position. This, then, is the first thing of which I am convinced."

"And rightly," said Simmias.

"Secondly," said he, "I believe that the earth is very large and that we who dwell between the pillars of Hercules band the river Phasis live in a small part of it about the sea, like ants or frogs about a pond, and that many other people live in many other such regions. For I believe there are in all directions on the earth many hollows of very various forms and sizes, into which the water and mist and air have run together; but the earth itself is pure and is situated in the pure heaven in which the stars are, the heaven which cthose who discourse about such matters call the ether; the water, mist and air are the sediment of this and flow together into the hollows of the earth. Now we do not perceive that we live in the hollows, but think we live on the upper surface of the earth, just as if someone who lives in the depth of the ocean should think he lived on the surface of the sea, and, seeing the sun and the stars through the water, should think the sea was the sky, and should, by reason of sluggishness or dfeebleness, never have reached the surface of the sea, and should never have seen, by rising and lifting his head out of the sea into our upper world, and should never have heard from anyone who had seen, how much purer and fairer it is than the world he lived in.

"I believe this is just the case with us; for we dwell in a hollow of the earth and think we dwell on its upper surface; and the air we call the heaven, and think that is the heaven in which the stars move. But the fact is the same, ethat by reason of feebleness and sluggishness, we are unable to attain to the upper surface of the air; for if anyone should come to the top of the air or should get wings and fly up, he could lift his head above it and see, as fishes lift their heads out of the water and see the things in our world, so he would see things in that upper world; and, if his nature were strong enough to bear the sight, he would recognize that that is the real heaven 110aand the real light and the real earth.

"For this earth of ours, and the stones and the whole region where we live, are injured and corroded, as in the sea things are injured by the brine, and nothing of any account grows in the sea, and there is, one might say, nothing perfect there, but caverns and sand and endless mud and mire, where there is earth also, and there is nothing at all worthy to be compared with the beautiful things of our world. But the things in that world above would be seen to be even more superior to those in this world of ours. bIf I may tell a story, Simmias, about the things on the earth that is below the heaven, and what they are like, it is well worth hearing."

"By all means, Socrates," said Simmias; "we should be glad to hear this story."

"Well then, my friend," said he, "to begin with, the earth when seen from above is said to look like those balls that are covered with twelve pieces of leather; it is divided into patches of various colors, of which the colors which we see here may be regarded as samples, such as painters use. cBut there the whole earth is of such colors, and they are much brighter and purer than ours; for one part is purple of wonderful beauty, and one is golden, and one is white, whiter than chalk or snow, and the earth is made up of the other colors likewise, and they are more in number and more beautiful than those which we see here. For those very hollows of the earth which are full of water and air, present an appearance dof color as they glisten amid the variety of the other colors, so that the whole produces one continuous effect of variety.

"And in this fair earth the things that grow, the trees, and flowers and fruits, are correspondingly beautiful; and so too the mountains and the stones are smoother, and more transparent and more lovely in color than ours. In fact, our highly prized stones, sards and ejaspers, and emeralds, and other gems, are fragments of those there, but there everything is like these or still more beautiful. And the reason of this is that there the stones are pure, and not corroded or defiled, as ours are, with filth and brine by the vapors and liquids which flow together here and which cause ugliness and disease in earth and stones and animals and plants.

"And the earth there is adorned with all the jewels and also with gold and 111asilver and everything of the sort. For there they are in plain sight, abundant and large and in many places, so that the earth is a sight to make those blessed who look upon it. And there are many animals upon it, and men also, some dwelling inland, others on the coasts of the air, as we dwell about the sea, and others on islands, which the air flows around, near the mainland; and in short, what water and the sea are bin our lives, air is in theirs, and what the air is to us, ether is to them. And the seasons are so tempered that people there have no diseases and live much longer than we, and in sight and hearing and wisdom and all such things are as much superior to us as air is purer than water or the ether than air.

"And they have sacred groves and temples of the gods, in which the gods really dwell, and they have intercourse with the gods by speech and prophecies and visions, cand they see the sun and moon and stars as they really are, and in all other ways their blessedness is in accord with this.

"Such then is the nature of the earth as a whole, and of the things around it. But round about the whole earth, in the hollows of it, are many regions, some deeper and wider than that in which we live, dsome deeper but with a narrower opening than ours, and some also less in depth and wider.

"Now all these are connected with one another by many subterranean channels, some larger and some smaller, which are bored in all of them, and there are passages through which much water flows from one to another as into mixing bowls; and there are everlasting rivers of huge size under the earth, flowing with hot and cold water; and there is much fire, and great rivers of fire, and many streams of mud, some thinner eand some thicker, like the rivers of mud that flow before the lava in Sicily, and the lava itself. These fill the various regions as they happen to flow to one or another at any time. Now a kind of oscillation within the earth moves all these up and down. And the nature of the oscillation is as follows: One of the chasms of the earth is greater than the rest, 112aand is bored right through the whole earth; this is the one which Homer means when he says: -

Far off, the lowest abyss beneath the earth;

"1and which elsewhere he and many other poets have called Tartarus. For all the rivers flow together into this chasm and flow out of it again, and they have each the nature of the earth through which they flow. And the reason why all the streams flow in and out here bis that this liquid matter has no bottom or foundation. So it oscillates and waves up and down, and the air and wind about it do the same; for they follow the liquid both when it moves toward the other side of the earth and when it moves toward this side, and just as the breath of those who breathe blows in and out, so the wind there oscillates with the liquid and causes terrible and irresistible blasts as it rushes in and out.

"cAnd when the water retires to the region which we call the lower, it flows into the rivers there and fills them up, as if it were pumped into them; and when it leaves that region and comes back to this side, it fills the rivers here; and when the streams are filled they flow through the passages and through the earth and come to the various places to which their different paths lead, where they make seas and marshes, and rivers and springs. Thence they go down again under the earth, dsome passing around many great regions and others around fewer and smaller places, and flow again into Tartarus, some much below the point where they were sucked out, and some only a little; but all flow in below their exit. Some flow in on the side from which they flowed out, others on the opposite side; and some pass completely around in a circle, coiling about the earth once or several times, like serpents, then descend to the lowest possible depth and fall again into the chasm. eNow it is possible to go down from each side to the center, but not beyond, for there the slope rises forward in front of the streams from either side of the earth.

"Now these streams are many and great and of all sorts, but among the many are four streams, the greatest and outermost of which is that called Oceanus, which flows round in a circle, and opposite this, flowing in the opposite direction, is Acheron, which flows through 113avarious desert places and, passing under the earth, comes to the Acherusian lake. To this lake the souls of most of the dead go and, after remaining there the appointed time, which is for some longer and for others shorter, are sent back to be born again into living beings.

"The third river flows out between these two, and near the place whence it issues it falls into a vast region burning with a great fire and makes a lake larger than our Mediterranean sea, boiling with water and mud. bThence it flows in a circle, turbid and muddy, and comes in its winding course, among other places, to the edge of the Acherusian lake, but does not mingle with its water. Then, after winding about many times underground, it flows into Tartarus at a lower level. This is the river which is called Pyriphlegethon, and the streams of lava which spout up at various places on earth are offshoots from it.

"Opposite this the fourth river issues, it is said, first into a wild and awful place, which is all of a dark blue color, like lapis lazuli. cThis is called the Stygian river, and the lake which it forms by flowing in is the Styx. And when the river has flowed in here and has received fearful powers into its waters, it passes under the earth and, circling round in the direction opposed to that of Pyriphlegethon, it meets it coming from the other way in the Acherusian lake. And the water of this river also mingles with no other water, but this also passes round in a circle and falls into Tartarus opposite Pyriphlegethon. And the name of this river, as the Poets say, is Cocytus.

"dSuch is the nature of these things. Now when the dead have come to the place where each is led by his genius, first they are judged and sentenced, as they have lived well and piously, or not. And those who are found to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the Acheron and, embarking upon vessels provided for them, arrive in them at the lake; there they dwell and are purified, and if they have done any wrong they are absolved by paying the penalty for their wrong doings, eand for their good deeds they receive rewards, each according to his merits.

"But those who appear to be incurable, on account of the greatness of their wrongdoings, because they have committed many great deeds of sacrilege, or wicked and abominable murders, or any other such crimes, are cast by their fitting destiny into Tartarus, whence they never emerge.

"Those, however, who are curable, but are found to have committed great sins - who have, for example, in a moment of passion done some act of violence against father or mother and 114ahave lived in repentance the rest of their lives, or who have slain some other person under similar conditions - these must needs be thrown into Tartarus, and when they have been there a year the wave casts them out, the homicides by way of Cocytus, those who have outraged their parents by way of Pyriphlegethon. And when they have been brought by the current to the Acherusian lake, they shout and cry out, calling to those whom they have slain or outraged, begging and beseeching them bto be gracious and to let them come out into the lake; and if they prevail they come out and cease from their ills, but if not, they are borne away again to Tartarus and thence back into the rivers, and this goes on until they prevail upon those whom they have wronged; for this is the penalty imposed upon them by the judges.

"But those who are found to have excelled in holy living are freed from these regions within the earth and are released as from prisons; cthey mount upward into their pure abode and dwell upon the earth. And of these, all who have duly purified themselves by philosophy live henceforth altogether without bodies, and pass to still more beautiful abodes which it is not easy to describe, nor have we now time enough.

"But, Simmias, because of all these things which we have recounted we ought to do our best to acquire virtue and wisdom in life. For the prize is fair and the hope great. d"Now it would not be fitting for a man of sense to maintain that all this is just as I have described it, but that this or something like it is true concerning our souls and their abodes, since the soul is shown to be immortal, I think he may properly and worthily venture to believe; for the venture is well worth while; and he ought to repeat such things to himself as if they were magic charms, which is the reason why I have been lengthening out the story so long.

"This then is why a man should be of good cheer about his soul, who in his life ehas rejected the pleasures and ornaments of the body, thinking they are alien to him and more likely to do him harm than good, and has sought eagerly for those of learning, and after adorning his soul with no alien ornaments, but with its own proper adornment of self-restraint and justice and 115acourage and freedom and truth, awaits his departure to the other world, ready to go when fate calls him.

"You, Simmias and Cebes and the rest," he said, "will go hereafter, each in his own time; but I am now already, as a tragedian would say, called by fate, and it is about time for me to go to the bath; for I think it is better to bathe before drinking the poison, that the women may not have the trouble of bathing the corpse."


268eStranger: Of the portents recorded in ancient tales many did happen and will happen again. Such an one is the portent connected with the tale of the quarrel between Atreus and Thyestes. You have doubtless heard of it and remember what is said to have taken place.

Younger Socrates: You refer, I suppose, to the token of the golden lamb.

269aStranger: Oh no; I mean the change in the rising and setting of the sun and the other heavenly bodies, how in those times they used to set in the quarter where they now rise, and used to rise where they now set, but the god at the time of the quarrel, you recall, changed all that to the present system as a testimony in favor of Atreus.

Younger Socrates: Yes, I've heard that, too.

Stranger: And again we have often heard the tale of the reign of Cronus.

bYounger Socrates: Yes, very often.

Stranger: And how about the story that the ancient folk were earthborn and not begotten of one another?

Younger Socrates: That is one of the old tales, too.

Stranger: Well, all these stories and others still more remarkable have their source in one and the same event, but in the lapse of ages some of them have been lost and others are told in fragmentary and disconnected fashion. But no one has told the event which is the cause of them all, cand so I must tell it now; for that will help us to make clear the nature of the king.

Younger Socrates: Very good; just tell your tale and omit nothing.

Stranger: Listen then. During a certain period God himself goes with the universe as guide in its revolving course, but at another epoch, when the cycles have at length reached the measure of his allotted time, he lets it go, dand of its own accord it turns backward in the opposite direction, since it is a living creature and is endowed with intelligence by him who fashioned it in the beginning. Now this reversal of its motion is an inevitable part of its nature for the following reason.

Younger Socrates: What reason?

Stranger: Absolute and perpetual immutability is a property of only the most divine things of all, and body does not belong to this class. Now that which we call heaven and the universe has received from its creator many blessed qualities, but then, too, it partakes also of a bodily nature; etherefore it is impossible for it to be entirely free from change; it moves, however, so far as it is able to do so, with a single motion in the same place and the same manner, and therefore it has acquired the reverse motion in a circle, because that involves the least deviation from its own motion. But to turn itself for ever is hardly possible except for the power that guides all moving things; and that this should turn now in one direction and now in the opposite direction is contrary to divine law.

As the result of all this, we must not say either that the universe turns itself always, or that it is always turned by God in two opposite courses, 270aor again that two divinities opposed to one another turn it. The only remaining alternative is what I suggested a little while ago, that the universe is guided at one time by an extrinsic divine cause, acquiring the power of living again and receiving renewed immortality from the Creator, and at another time it is left to itself and then moves by its own motion, being left to itself at such a moment that it moves backwards through countless ages, because it is immensely large and most evenly balanced, and turns upon the smallest pivot.

bYounger Socrates: All that account of yours appears, at any rate, very reasonable.

Stranger: Then, in the light of what has been said, let us consider and gain understanding of the event which we said was the cause of all those wonderful portents; for it is really just this.

Younger Socrates: Just what?

Stranger: The fact that at certain periods the universe has its present circular motion, and at other periods it revolves in the reverse direction.

Younger Socrates: How was this the cause?

Stranger: We cannot help believing that of all the changes which take place in the heavens this reversal is cthe greatest and most complete.

Younger Socrates: It certainly seems to be so.

Stranger: Therefore we must also believe that at the same time the greatest changes come upon us who dwell within the heavens.

Younger Socrates: That is likely too.

Stranger: And animals cannot well endure many great and various changes at once. That is a familiar fact, is it not?

Younger Socrates: Of course.

Stranger: Inevitably, then, there is at that time great destruction of animals in general, and only a small part of the human race survives; dand the survivors have many experiences wonderful and strange, the greatest of which, a consequence of the reversal of everything at the time when the world begins to turn in the direction opposed to that of its present revolution, is this.

Younger Socrates: What is that experience?

Stranger: First the age of all animals, whatever it was at the moment, stood still, and every mortal creature stopped growing older in appearance eand then reversed its growth and became, as it were, younger and more tender; the hoary locks of the old men grew dark, and bearded cheeks grew smooth again as their possessors reverted to their earlier ages, and the bodies of young men grew smoother and smaller day by day and night by night, until they became as new-born babes, to which they were likened in mind and body; and then at last they wasted away entirely and wholly disappeared. And the bodies of those who died by violence in those times quickly underwent the same changes, 271awere destroyed, and disappeared in a few days.

Younger Socrates: But then, Stranger, how did animals come into existence in those days? How were they begotten of one another?

Stranger: It is clear, Socrates, that being begotten of one another was no part of the natural order of that time, but the earth-born race which, according to tradition, once existed, was the race which returned at that time out of the earth; and the memory of it was preserved by our earliest ancestors, who were born in the beginning of our period and therefore were next neighbors to the end of the previous period of the worldÕs revolution, bwith no interval between. For they were to us the heralds of these stories which are nowadays unduly disbelieved by many people.

For you must, I think, consider what would result. It is a natural consequence of the return of the old to childhood that those who are dead and lying in the earth take shape and come to life again, since the process of birth is reversed along with the reversal of the worldÕs revolution; for this reason they are inevitably earth-born, cand hence arises their name and the tradition about them, except those of them whom God removed to some other fate.

Younger Socrates: Certainly that follows from what preceded. But was the life in the reign of Cronus, which you mentioned, in that previous period of revolution or in ours? For evidently the change in the course of the stars and the sun takes place in both periods.

Stranger: You have followed my account very well. dNo, the life about which you ask, when all the fruits of the earth sprang up of their own accord for men, did not belong at all to the present period of revolution, but this also belonged to the previous one. For then, in the beginning, God ruled and supervised the whole revolution, and so again, in the same way, all the parts of the universe were divided by regions among gods who ruled them, and, moreover, the animals were distributed by species and flocks among inferior deities as divine shepherds, each of whom was in all respects the independent guardian of the creatures under his own care, eso that no creature was wild, nor did they eat one another, and there was no war among them, nor any strife whatsoever. To tell all the other consequences of such an order of the world would be an endless task.

But the reason for the story of the spontaneous life of mankind is as follows: God himself was their shepherd, watching over them, just as man, being an animal of different and more divine nature than the rest, now tends the lower species of animals. And under his care there were no states, 272anor did men possess wives or children; for they all came to life again out of the earth, with no recollection of their former lives.

So there were no states or families, but they had fruits in plenty from the trees and other plants, which the earth furnished them of its own accord, without help from agriculture. And they lived for the most part in the open air, without clothing or bedding; for the climate was tempered for their comfort, and the abundant grass that grew up out of the earth furnished them soft couches. bThat, Socrates, was the life of men in the reign of Cronus; but the life of the present age, which is said to be the age of Zeus, you know by your own experience. Would you be able and willing to decide which of them is the more blessed?

Younger Socrates: Certainly not.

Stranger: Shall I, then, make some sort of a judgement for you?

Younger Socrates: Do so, by all means.

Stranger: Well, then, if the foster children of Cronus, having all this leisure and the ability to converse not only with human beings but also with beasts, cmade full use of all these opportunities with a view to philosophy, talking with the animals and with one another and learning from every creature that, through possession of some peculiar power he may have had in any respect beyond his fellows perceptions tending towards an increase of wisdom, it would be easy to decide that the people of those old times were immeasurably happier than those of our epoch. Or if they merely ate and drank till they were full and gossiped with each other and the animals, telling such stories as are even now told about them, din that case, too, it would, in my opinion, be very easy to reach a decision. However, let us pass those matters by, so long as there is no one capable of reporting to us what the desires of the people in those days were in regard to knowledge and the employment of speech.

The reason why we revived this legend must be told, in order that we may get ahead afterwards. For when the time of all those conditions was accomplished and the change was to take place and all the earth-born race had at length been used up, esince every soul had fulfilled all its births by falling into the earth as seed its prescribed number of times, then the helmsman of the universe dropped the tiller and withdrew to his place of outlook, and fate and innate desire made the earth turn backwards.

So, too, all the gods who share, each in his own sphere, the rule of the Supreme Spirit, promptly perceiving what was taking place, let go the parts of the world which were under their care. 273aAnd as the universe was turned back and there came the shock of collision, as the beginning and the end rushed in opposite directions, it produced a great earthquake within itself and caused a new destruction of all sorts of living creatures.

But after that, when a sufficient time had elapsed, there was rest now from disturbance and confusion, calm followed the earthquakes, and the world went on its own accustomed course in orderly fashion, exercising care and rule bover itself and all within itself, and remembering and practising the teachings of the Creator and Father to the extent of its power, at first more accurately and at last more carelessly; and the reason for this was the material element in its composition, because this element, which was inherent in the primeval nature, was infected with great disorder before the attainment of the existing orderly universe.

For from its Composer the universe has received only good things; but from its previous condition it retains in itself and creates in the animals all the elements of harshness and injustice cwhich have their origin in the heavens.

Now as long as the world was nurturing the animals within itself under the guidance of the Pilot, it produced little evil and great good; but in becoming separated from him it always got on most excellently during the time immediately after it was let go, but as time went on and it grew forgetful, the ancient condition of disorder prevailed more and more dand towards the end of the time reached its height, and the universe, mingling but little good with much of the opposite sort, was in danger of destruction for itself and those within it.

Therefore at that moment God, who made the order of the universe, perceived that it was in dire trouble, and fearing that it might founder in the tempest of confusion and sink in the boundless sea of diversity, ehe took again his place as its helmsman, reversed whatever had become unsound and unsettled in the previous period when the world was left to itself, set the world in order, restored it and made it immortal and ageless. So now the whole tale is told; but for our purpose of exhibiting the nature of the king it will be enough to revert to the earlier part of the story. For when the universe was turned again into the present path of generation, the age of individuals came again to a stop, and that led to new processes, the reverse of those which had gone before.

For the animals which had grown so small as almost to disappear grew larger, and those newly born from the earth with hoary hair died and passed below the earth again. And all other things changed, 274aimitating the condition of the universe and conforming to it, and so too pregnancy and birth and nurture necessarily imitated and conformed to the rest; for no living creature could any longer come into being by the union of other elements, but just as the universe was ordered to be the ruler of its own course, so in the same way the parts were ordered, so far as they could, to grow and beget and give nourishment of themselves under the same guidance.

bAnd now we have come at last to the point for the sake of which this whole discourse was begun. For much might be said, and at great length, about the other animals, their previous forms and the causes of their several changes; but about mankind there is less to say and it is more to our purpose.

For men, deprived of the care of the deity who had possessed and tended us, since most of the beasts who were by nature unfriendly had grown fierce, and they themselves were feeble and unprotected, were ravaged by the beasts cand were in the first ages still without resources or skill; the food which had formerly offered itself freely had failed them, and they did not yet know how to provide for themselves, because no necessity had hitherto compelled them.

On all these accounts they were in great straits; and that is the reason why the gifts of the gods that are told of in the old traditions were given us with the needful information and instruction, - fire by Prometheus, the arts by Hephaestus and the goddess who is his fellow-artisan, seeds and plants by other deities.

dAnd from these has arisen all that constitutes human life, since, as I said a moment ago, the care of the gods had failed men and they had to direct their own lives and take care of themselves, like the whole universe, which we imitate and follow through all time, being born and living now in our present manner and in that other epoch in the other manner. eSo, then, let our tale be finished; but we will turn it to account for opening our eyes to the great error we made in the exposition of the king and the statesman in our earlier discussion.


2.663eAthenian: Be it so; yet it proved easy to persuade men of the Sidonian fairy-tale, incredible though it was, and of numberless others.

Clinias: What tales?

Athenian: The tale of the teeth that were sown, and how armed men sprang out of them. Here, indeed, the lawgiver has a notable example 664aof how one can, if he tries, persuade the souls of the young of anything, so that the only question he has to consider in his inventing is what would do most good to the State, if it were believed; and then he must devise all possible means to ensure that the whole of the community constantly, so long as they live, use exactly the same language, so far as possible, about these matters, alike in their songs, their tales, and their discourses. If you, however, think otherwise, I have no objection to your arguing in the opposite sense.

4.713aAthenian: We should. Long ages before even those cities existed bwhose formation we have described above, there existed in the time of Cronos, it is said, a most prosperous government and settlement, on which the best of the States now existing is modelled.

Clinias: Evidently it is most important to hear about it.

Athenian: I, for one, think so; and that is why I have introduced the mention of it.

Megillus: You were perfectly right to do so; and, since your story cis pertinent, you will be quite right in going on with it to the end.

Athenian: I must do as you say. Well, then, tradition tells us how blissful was the life of men in that age, furnished with everything in abundance, and of spontaneous growth. And the cause thereof is said to have been this: Cronos was aware of the fact that no human being (as we have explained) is capable of having irresponsible control of all human affairs without becoming filled with pride and injustice; so, pondering this fact, he then appointed as kings dand rulers for our cities, not men, but beings of a race that was nobler and more divine, namely, daemons. He acted just as we now do in the case of sheep and herds of tame animals: we do not set oxen as rulers over oxen, or goats over goats, but we, who are of a nobler race, ourselves rule over them.

In like manner the God, in his love for humanity, set over us at that time the nobler race of daemons who, with much comfort to themselves and much to us, took charge of us and furnished peace eand modesty and orderliness and justice without stint, and thus made the tribes of men free from feud and happy.

And even today this tale has a truth to tell, namely, that wherever a State has a mortal, and no god, for ruler, there the people have no rest from ills and toils; and it deems that we ought by every means to imitate the life of the age of Cronos, as tradition paints it, and order both 714aour homes and our States in obedience to the immortal element within us, giving to reason's ordering the name of "law." But if an individual man or an oligarchy or a democracy, possessed of a soul which strives after pleasures and lusts and seeks to surfeit itself therewith, having no continence and being the victim of a plague that is endless and insatiate of evil, - if such an one shall rule over a State or an individual by trampling on the laws, then there is (as I said just now) bno means of salvation. This, then, is the statement, Clinias, which we have to examine, to see whether we believe it, or what we are to do.

7.804dFor females, too, my law will lay down the same regulations as for men, and training of an identical kind. eI will unhesitatingly affirm that neither riding nor gymnastics, which are proper for men, are improper for women.

I believe the old tales I have heard, and I know now of my own observation, that there are practically countless myriads of women called Sauromatides, in the district of Pontus, upon whom equally with men is imposed the duty of handling bows and other weapons, 805aas well as horses, and who practice it equally.

In addition to this I allege the following argument. Since this state of things can exist, I affirm that the practice which at present prevails in our districts is a most irrational one - namely, that men and women should not all follow the same pursuits with one accord and with all their might. For thus from the same taxation and trouble there arises and exists half a State only instead of a whole one, in nearly every instance; yet surely this would be a surprising blunder bfor a lawgiver to commit.

Sir Graham