Socrates advised, should be educated and
assigned by merit to three classes: rulers, auxiliaries, and crafts-
men. A stable society demands that these ranks be honored and
that citizens accept the status conferred upon them. But how can
this acquiescence be secured? Socrates, unable to devise a logical
argument, fabricates a myth. With some embarrassment, he tells
I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in the face, or in
what words to utter the audacious fiction.
. . .
They [the citizens] are to be
told that their youth was a dream, and the education and training which
they received from us, an appearance only; in reality during all that time
they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth.
Glaucon, overwhelmed, exclaims: "You had good reason to be
ashamed of the lie which you were going to tell." "True," replied
Socrates, "but there is more coming;
1 have only told you half."
Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has
framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in
the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have
the greatest honor; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others
again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass
and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children.
An oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be
destroyed. Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens
believe in it?
Glaucon replies: "Not in the present generation; there is no way of
accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the
tale, and their son's sons, and posterity after them."