Truth is a core virtue of the city and of the philosopher-king. Literature that shows gods and men behaving untruthfully is forbidden. Deceit is forbidden, except for the guardians who may tell falsehoods for the good of the city. True knowledge, and true philosophy, says Socrates, require an understanding of the Forms, since everything else is simply a shadowy reflection of the Forms. For instance, the Form of Beauty is the abstract, ideal, perfect, changeless Idea of Beauty. Beauty in the physical world is affected by time and change. But the Form of Beauty, in the world of ideas, is unchanging, and perfect, and true. Only the Form of Beauty is truly beautiful, since individual examples of beauty are poor copies of the Form, lacking the perfection of the Form.
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The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Truth appears in each section of The Republic. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Below you will find the important quotes in The Republic related to the theme of Truth.
Book 2 Quotes
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.
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Book 3 Quotes
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.
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.