"All this time Thrasymachus had been trying more than once to break in upon our conversation.
Polemarchus and I were frightened out of our wits, when he burst out to the whole company: What is the
matter with you two Socrates?
Why do you go on in this imbecile way, politely deferring to each other's
Thrasymachus can contain himself no longer.
Too much sweetness and light. “Socrates,” Thrasymachus says,
“should stop playing games and tell us what he thinks justice is.
Everyone knows it is easier to ask questions than to
And if he refuses, then he should listen to me.”
justice is, and was eager to instruct.
Introduction to Book I ‘part two’ (336ff)
The first book of the
was initially a free-standing dialogue.
If it had come down to us in that form, then if
not known to us by the name of its subject, justice, it would be known to us by the name of Socrates's principal
protagonist in this book, Thrasymachus.
As said in Section 3.5 of the previous chapter: “Before [the
revised into its current shape, there was a freestanding version of the first book,
2002, p. 324), as well as “a proto-
of two scrolls” (
.) that “comprised most of [what is for
2-5" (p. 325). After Socrates he is the dominant presence.
The book runs to twenty seven Stephanus-
pages (327-354c): five are occupied with stage-setting and preliminary conversation with Cephalus in which the
difficulty of giving examples of right and wrong kinds of action is registered; five are taken up by Socrates and
Polemarchus in cooperative inquiry, and, in the end, agreement on the point that it is always wrong to harm anyone,
friend or foe.
The remaining seventeen pages are occupied with Socrates's
of Thrasymachus’s view
concerning the nature. and the value, of justice. There is no cooperation here, no meeting of minds.
It is a
confrontation in which Thrasymachus is seriously shamed and embarrassed, and in the end silenced, though not
persuaded that he was quite wrong in what he wanted to say about justice and its value, or of the truth of alternative
views of justice and its value to those expressed by Socrates.
Nor is Socrates satisfied with the terms of Thrasymachus's defeat. He confesses that his arguments against
Thrasymachus's views regarding the nature of justice, and his own positive arguments for the nature of justice, and
for the value to an individual of a just character, are at many points at best incomplete.
He was right.