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Glaucon's Speech

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In book II of The Republic of Plato Glaucon says that he will "restore Thrasymachus' argument" (line 358c) that proves injustice is better than justice. He first talks about how justice came about. Then makes a second point that people practice justice without their own will and he ends with his third point that the unjust man's life is better then the just man's life. Glaucon backs up all of his points with examples of injustices and being just.

In the beginning of his speech, Glaucon states that he wants everyone to know about justice and how it came about: "Now listen to what I said I was going to tell first-what justice is and where it came from" (line 358e). He then goes on saying that performing injustices was good and enduring these injustices was bad, and the pain felt was worse then the joy in performing the injustices: "They say that doing injustice is naturally good, and suffering injustice bad, but that the bad in suffering injustice far exceeds the good in doing it" (line 358e). Next, when two people would perform injustices upon one another and see what both sides felt like they sat down and started to form laws against injustice: "When they would do injustice to one another and suffer it and taste of both its seems profitable to set down a compact among themselves neither to do injustice nor to suffer it" (lines 358e-359a). Then, Glaucon states that this is the start of justice which is something bounded by what is most desirable, performing injustice and getting away with no consequences, and what is least desirable, enduring it and having no ability to get revenge: "And this, then, is the genesis and being of justice; it is a mean between what is best-doing injustice without paying the penalty-and what is the worst-suffering injustice

without being able to avenge oneself" (line 359a). Finally, he says that justice comes from the examples he is about to give: "It naturally grows out of these sorts of things" (line 359b). So, Glaucon is basically stating that justice came about out of fear of having injustices done upon oneself.

To start off his argument, Glaucon states that the people who exercise justice don't do it out of their own will: "That even those who practice it do so unwillingly" (line 359b). He then goes on saying that we should let the just man and the unjust man have the power to do what they wish, as we sit back and look on: "Give each the just man and the unjust, license to do whatever he wants, while we follow and watch where his desire will lead each" (line 359c). Next, Glaucon states that the just man would be caught doing the same actions as the unjust man because they both want what's best and this is what's seen as good: "We would catch the just man red-handed going the same way as the unjust man out of a desire to get the better: this is what any nature naturally pursues as good" (line 359c). Finally, he says that the power that he's talking about can be easily told in a different way, in the story about the ancestor of Gyges, the Lydian: "The license of which I speak would best be realized if they should come into possession of the sort of power that it is said the ancestor of Gyges, the Lydian, once got" (line 359c-d). So, Glaucon is saying that a just man would be unjust if he had the power to.

Glaucon then goes more in depth of the story about the ancestor of Gyges, the Lydian. First, he tells of how this man stumbled upon the ring in a storm that opened up the ground near him and he went down: "There came to pass a great

thunderstorm and an earthquake; the earth cracked and a chasm opened at the place where he was pasturing. He saw it, and wondered at it and went down" (line 359d). Next, this man found many things that he liked, but a bronze horse caught his eye and in it laid a huge dead man with a ring on his finger, so he took it and ran off: "He saw, along with other quite wonderful things about which they tell tales, a hollow bronze horse. It had windows; peeping in, he saw there was a corpse inside that looked larger than human size. It had nothing on except a gold ring on its hand; he slipped it off and went out" (line 359d-e). Then, Glaucon tells of how the man was with the other shepherds making a report to the king and the man twisted the top of the ring to the inside of his hand and he gained the power of invisibility: "Now, while he was sitting with the others, he chanced to turn the collet of the ring to himself, toward the inside of his hand; when he did this, he became invisible to those sitting by him, and they discussed him as though he were away" (line 359e-360a). Finally, after noticing this power he starts to pass messages to the kingdom and eventually has sex with the queen and kills the king to take the thrown for himself: "Aware of this, he immediately contrived to be one of the messengers to the king. When he arrived, he committed adultery with the king's wife and, along with her, set upon the king and killed him. And so he took over the rule" (line 360a-b). So, Glaucon shows that if the just man gained the power to do injustices with no one knowing that it's him he will pursue in doing so.

Glaucon continues this by saying we should give one of these



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