Plato, Republic (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Resp.].
<<Pl. Resp. 616b Pl. Resp. 618a (Greek) >>Pl. Resp. 620b

617dalternately with either hand lent a hand to each.

“Now when they arrived they were straight-way bidden to go before Lachesis, and then a certain prophet [Note] first marshalled them in orderly intervals, and thereupon took from the lap of Lachesis lots and patterns of lives and went up to a lofty platform and spoke, ‘This is the word of Lachesis, the maiden daughter of Necessity, “Souls that live for a day, [Note] now is the beginning of another cycle of mortal generation where birth is the beacon of death. 617eNo divinity [Note] shall cast lots for you, but you shall choose your own deity. Let him to whom falls the first lot first select a life to which he shall cleave of necessity. But virtue has no master over her, [Note] and each shall have more or less of her as he honors her or does her despite. The blame is his who chooses: God is blameless. [Note]“’ So saying, the prophet flung the lots out among them all, and each took up the lot that fell by his side, except himself; him they did not permit. [Note] And whoever took up a lot saw plainly what number he had drawn. 618aAnd after this again the prophet placed the patterns of lives before them on the ground, far more numerous than the assembly. They were of every variety, for there were lives of all kinds of animals and all sorts of human lives, for there were tyrannies among them, some uninterrupted till the end [Note] and others destroyed midway and issuing in penuries and exiles and beggaries; and there were lives of men of repute for their forms and beauty and bodily strength otherwise 618band prowess and the high birth and the virtues of their ancestors, and others of ill repute in the same things, and similarly of women. But there was no determination of the quality of soul, because the choice of a different life inevitably [Note] determined a different character. But all other things were commingled with one another and with wealth and poverty and sickness and health and the intermediate [Note] conditions. —And there, dear Glaucon, it appears, is the supreme hazard [Note] for a man. 618cAnd this is the chief reason why it should be our main concern that each of us, neglecting all other studies, should seek after and study this thing [Note]—if in any way he may be able to learn of and discover the man who will give him the ability and the knowledge to distinguish the life that is good from that which is bad, and always and everywhere to choose the best that the conditions allow, and, taking into account all the things of which we have spoken and estimating the effect on the goodness of his life of their conjunction or their severance, to know how beauty commingled with poverty or wealth and combined with 618dwhat habit of soul operates for good or for evil, and what are the effects of high and low birth and private station and office and strength and weakness and quickness of apprehension and dullness and all similar natural and acquired habits of the soul, when blended and combined with one another, [Note] so that with consideration of all these things he will be able to make a reasoned choice between the better and the worse life, 618ewith his eyes fixed on the nature of his soul, naming the worse life that which will tend to make it more unjust and the better that which will make it more just. But all other considerations he will dismiss, for we have seen that this is the best choice, 619aboth for life and death. And a man must take with him to the house of death an adamantine [Note] faith in this, that even there he may be undazzled [Note] by riches and similar trumpery, and may not precipitate himself into tyrannies and similar doings and so work many evils past cure and suffer still greater himself, but may know how always to choose in such things the life that is seated in the mean [Note] and shun the excess in either direction, both in this world so far as may be and in all the life to come; 619bfor this is the greatest happiness for man.

“And at that time also the messenger from that other world reported that the prophet spoke thus: ‘Even for him who comes forward last, if he make his choice wisely and live strenuously, there is reserved an acceptable life, no evil one. Let not the foremost in the choice be heedless nor the last be discouraged.’ When the prophet had thus spoken he said that the drawer of the first lot at once sprang to seize the greatest tyranny, [Note] and that in his folly and greed he chose it



Plato, Republic (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Pl. Resp.].
<<Pl. Resp. 616b Pl. Resp. 618a (Greek) >>Pl. Resp. 620b

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