The Republic

Socrates Character Analysis

The main speaker, a philosopher who leads his audience and dialogue partners to conclusions by carefully structured questions. Sometimes Socrates' verbal agility makes it difficult to see that he is avoiding answering the question he is asked and is instead addressing something else entirely in his responses. Socrates strongly influenced Plato. In the Republic Socrates is usually acting as Plato's stand-in.

Socrates Quotes in The Republic

The The Republic quotes below are all either spoken by Socrates or refer to Socrates. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Republic published in 2000.
Book 2 Quotes
Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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If we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of the giants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends and relatives. If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel between citizens.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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God is not the author of all things, but of good only.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him, and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Related Symbols: The City
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 3 Quotes
Can any man be courageous who has the fear of death in him?
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike out these and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive to the popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm in them, the less are they meet for the ears of boys and men who are meant to be free, and who should fear slavery more than death.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have no business with them.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity – I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only a euphemism for folly.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 4 Quotes
Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

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The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 5 Quotes
And he who, having a sense of beautiful things has no sense of absolute beauty, or who, if another lead him to a knowledge of that beauty is unable to follow—of such an one I ask, Is he awake or in a dream only? Reflect: is not the dreamer, sleeping or waking, one who likens dissimilar things, who puts the copy in the place of the real object?
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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Until philosophers are kings, or the kings 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.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 6 Quotes
But that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else be longs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not—the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? W ill he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 153-154
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 7 Quotes
But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Sun
Page Number: 179-180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 9 Quotes
But now that he is under the dominion of Love, he becomes always and in waking reality what he was then very rarely and in a dream only.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 10 Quotes
Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them, and that part an image.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

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Socrates Character Timeline in The Republic

The timeline below shows where the character Socrates appears in The Republic. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Justice Theme Icon
Socrates walks to the Athens harbor, the Piraeus, with Glaucon, Plato's brother. Socrates and Glaucon are... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Socrates asks if one can always say that doing right is just speaking truth and paying... (full context)
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Polemarchus disagrees with Socrates and cites the poet Simonides who said that it is just to give to each... (full context)
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Socrates points out that when humans are harmed they become worse in terms of human virtues,... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
...unwillingly quiet, interrupts, loudly. He says instead of asking foolish questions and refuting each answer, Socrates should tell them what he thinks justice is. Thrasymachus offers to define justice if they... (full context)
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Specialization Theme Icon
Socrates says the crafts rule over and are stronger than the things which they are crafts... (full context)
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Specialization Theme Icon
Socrates points out that the "ruler," in various professions, like a doctor and his patients, does... (full context)
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Specialization Theme Icon
...says that injustice is not only more profitable, but that injustice is virtuous and wise. Socrates says that it is the ignorant man who thinks he knows better than the doctor,... (full context)
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Thrasymachus asserts that an unjust city would enslave other cities. Socrates responds that in an unjust city, everyone is unjust. Soldiers in an unjust army are... (full context)
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Socrates considers whether the just have a happier life than the unjust. Since the gods are... (full context)
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Socrates adds that a person with a bad soul will rule poorly, while one with a... (full context)
Book 2
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Glaucon asks Socrates whether justice belongs 1) in the class of good things we choose to have for... (full context)
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Glaucon asks Socrates to describe what justice and injustice each do in themselves, how justice benefits those who... (full context)
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Socrates proposes first to examine the justice of the city, because it is easier to determine... (full context)
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Socrates examines the requirements of soldiers or "guardians." A guardian needs to be gentle to his... (full context)
Book 3
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Socrates describes stories for educating the city's guardians. They should include heroic stories, omitting any passages... (full context)
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To avoid questions about those chosen to rule from the others in the city, Socrates invents a myth that says all people were born from the earth. Thus there are... (full context)
Book 4
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...the guardians' simple lifestyle won't make them happy, given the luxuries enjoyed by rulers elsewhere. Socrates says despite Thrasymachus's view, the goal of the city is not to make one group... (full context)
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Having established the city, Socrates turns to the question of virtue. Since it is the best city possible, it contains... (full context)
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Socrates turns from justice on a large scale in the city, to justice in the individual.... (full context)
Book 5
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Polemarchus asks Socrates to explain what he meant when he said that wives and children, like the possessions... (full context)
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Glaucon asks if this ideal city is even possible? Socrates' answer is yes, but only if "either philosophers become kings in our states or those... (full context)
Book 6
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Socrates attempts to prove that the philosopher is best suited to rule. The philosopher as a... (full context)
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Socrates criticizes the Sophists, the paid tutors whom he says teach conventional wisdom without considering whether... (full context)
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Socrates introduces the metaphor of the Line. Think of a straight line divided into four sections... (full context)
Book 7
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Imagine, Socrates says, humans living in a cave, whose entrance is above them and open to the... (full context)
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Socrates compares the visible realm of the world, the world of Belief, to the cave. The... (full context)
Book 8
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Socrates summarizes the decisions they have made about the city. Wives, children and their education must... (full context)
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Socrates describes the four types of government— Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny. All are failures. He... (full context)
Book 9
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Socrates says the tyrant indulges in pleasures in his youth. The tyrant can't control his desires... (full context)
Book 10
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Socrates returns to the subject of poetry and imitative art. Imitation is three steps from the... (full context)
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Socrates says a just life's chief reward comes in the after life. Glaucon asks if Socrates... (full context)
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Socrates turns to the rewards of a just life. Since the gods know everything, they won't... (full context)