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THE REPUBLIC [translated by Desmond Lee, Penguin edition]

402d - 403c [Dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, the elder brother of Plato.]

"Is not the fairest sight of all," I [i.e. Socrates] asked, "for him who has eyes to see it, the combination in the same bodily form of beauty of character and looks to match and harmonize with it?"

"It is indeed."

"And what is very beautiful will also be very attractive, will it not?"


"It is, then, with people of this sort that the educated man will fall in love; where the harmony is imperfect, he will not be attracted."

"Not if the defect is one of character," he replied; "if it's a physical defect, he will not let it be a bar to his affection."

"I know," I said; "you've got, or once had, a boy friend like that. And I agree with you. But tell me: does excessive pleasure go with self-control and moderation?"

"Certainly not, excessive pleasure breaks down one's control just as much as excessive pain."

"Does it go with other kinds of goodness?"


"Then does it go with violence and indiscipline?"


"And is there any greater or keener pleasure than that of sex?"

"No: nor any more frenzied."

"But to love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way."

"I entirely agree."

"Then can true love have any contact with frenzy or excess of any kind?"

"It can have none."

"It can therefore have no contact with this sexual pleasure, and lovers whose mutual love is true must neither of them indulge in it."

"They certainly must not, Socrates," he replied emphatically.

"And so I suppose you will lay down laws in the state we are founding which will allow a lover to associate with his boy friend and kiss him and touch him, if he permits it, as a father does his son, if his motives are good; but require that his association with anyone he's fond of must never give rise to suspicion of anything beyond this, otherwise he will be thought a man of no taste or education."

"That is how I should legislate."