Socrates is descending as the book begins. Significant? Keep this in mind as the plot unfolds… Also, “the goddess” he was honoring would have been Bendis, a Tracian divinity of moon and magic. While the Greeks associated her with Artemis, she was foreign. Artemis Bendis, molded terracotta figurine, (Tanagra?) ca. 350 BC, (Louvre)
Polemarchus said to me:
Polemarchus I perceive, Socrates, that you and your companion are already on your way to the city…. But do you see, he rejoined, how many we are? … And are you stronger than all these? for if not, you will have to remain where you are….
Socrates Accordingly we went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found … Cephalus, the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged…. He saluted me eagerly, and then he said:
Cephalus You don’t come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought…. For, let me tell you that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me are the pleasure and charm of conversation….
Socrates I replied: There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to inquire whether the way is smooth and easy or rugged and difficult. And this is a question which I should like to ask of you, who have arrived at that time which the poets call the “threshold of old age”: Is life harder toward the end, or what report do you give of it?
… [Y]ou, who have arrived at that time which the poets call the “threshold of old age”: Is life harder toward the end?
Cephalus I will tell you, Socrates, he said, what my own feeling is. Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says; and at our meetings the tale of my acquaintance commonly is: I cannot eat, I cannot drink; the pleasures of youth and love are fled away; there was a good time once, but now that is gone, and life is no longer life. Some complain of the slights which are put upon them by relations, and they will tell you sadly of how many evils their old age is the cause. But to me, Socrates, these complainers seem to blame that which is not really in fault. For if old age were the cause, I too, being old, and every other old man would have felt as they do…. The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’s characters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.
[T]hese regrets… are to be attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’s characters.
Socrates I listened in admiration, and wanting to draw him out, that he might go on – Yes, Cephalus, I said; but I rather suspect that people in general are not convinced by you when you speak thus; they think that old age sits lightly upon you, not because of your happy disposition, but because you are rich, and wealth is well known to be a great comforter.
330 Cephalus …. [L]et me tell you, Socrates, that when a man thinks himself to be near death, fears and cares enter into his mind which he never had before; the tales of a world below and the punishment which is exacted there of deeds done here were once a laughing matter to him, but now he is tormented with the thought that they may be true: either from the weakness of age, or because he is now drawing nearer to that other place, he has a clearer view of these things; suspicions and alarms crowd thickly upon him, and he begins to reflect and consider what wrongs he has done to others. And when he finds that the sum of his transgressions is great he will many a time like a child start up in his sleep for fear, and he is filled with dark forebodings. But to him who is conscious of no sin, sweet hope… is the kind nurse of his age…. [T]he great blessing of riches… to a good man, is, that he has had no occasion to deceive or to defraud others, either intentionally or unintentionally; and when he departs to the world below he is not in any apprehension about offerings due to the gods or debts which he owes to men. Now to this peace of mind the possession of wealth greatly contributes….
Socrates Tell me then, O thou heir of the argument, what did Simonides say, and according to you, truly say, about justice?
Polemarchus He said that the repayment of a debt is just, and in saying so he appears to me to be right.
Even in this apparently light example Socrates begins to drive the “Wedge of the Good” between power (as represented by a weapon) and ignorance (as represented by insanity). Later in Book III, he argues that wealth (economic power) would undermine the wisdom of the rulers, that economic power must not count as political power in a good community.
Socrates Then when the person who asks me is not in his right mind I am by no means to make the return?
Polemarchus Certainly not.
Socrates When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not mean to include that case?
Polemarchus Certainly not; for he thinks that a friend ought always to do good to a friend, and never evil…. Socrates, … justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies….
Socrates But see the consequence: Many a man who is ignorant of human nature has friends who are bad friends, and in that case he ought to do harm to them; and he has good enemies whom he ought to benefit; but, if so, we shall be saying the very opposite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of Simonides….
Polemarchus Very true, he said…. We should rather say that he is a friend who is, as well as seems, good; and that he who seems only and is not good, only seems to be and is not a friend; and of an enemy the same may be said….
Polemarchus Yes, that appears to me to be the truth.
Socrates But ought the just to injure anyone at all?…. [W]ill not men who are injured be deteriorated in that which is the proper virtue of man?…. And that human virtue is justice?… And can the just by justice make men unjust, or speaking generally, can the good by virtue make them bad?
Polemarchus Assuredly not….
Socrates Then if a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and that good is the debt which a just man owes to his friends, and evil the debt which he owes to his enemies – to say this is not wise; for it is not true, if, as has been clearly shown, the injuring of another can be in no case just…. [B]ut if this definition of justice also breaks down, what other can be offered? 336b Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus had made an attempt to get the argument into his own hands, and … when … there was a pause, he could no longer hold his peace….338c Thrasymachus Listen, … he said; I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger. And now why do you not praise me? But of course you won’t.
A ‘pancratiast‘ is a skilled boxer or wrestler.
Is Socrates being a jerk? Or is this way of testing words constructive?
Socrates Not at all, my good sir, I said; I am trying to understand them; and I wish that you would be a little clearer.
Thrasymachus Well, he said, have you never heard that forms of government differ – there are tyrannies, and there are democracies, and there are aristocracies?
Socrates Yes, I know.
Thrasymachus And the government is the ruling power in each State?
Thrasymachus And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust. And that is what I mean when I say that in all States there is the same principle of justice, which is the interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusion is that everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger.
Socrates Now I understand you, I said; and whether you are right or not I will try to discover…..
Socrates I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for subjects to obey their rulers?
Thrasymachus I do.
Socrates But are the rulers of States absolutely infallible, or are they sometimes liable to err?
Thrasymachus To be sure, he replied, they are liable to err.
Socrates Then in making their laws…. [w]hen they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest; when they are mistaken, contrary to their interest; you admit that?
Socrates …. Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest of the stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done which are to their own injury. For if, as you say, justice is the obedience which the subject renders to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men, is there any escape from the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to do, not what is for the interest, but what is for the injury of the stronger?
Polemarchus Nothing can be clearer, Socrates, said Polemarchus.
Cleitophon Yes, said Cleitophon, interposing, if you are allowed to be his witness.
Polemarchus But there is no need of any witness, said Polemarchus, for Thrasymachus himself acknowledges that [a] rulers may sometime command what is not for their own interest, and that for subjects to obey them is justice.
Thrasymachus Yes, Polemarchus – Thrasymachus said that [~a:] for subjects to do what was commanded by their rulers is just.
See the contradiction?
Cleitophon But, said Cleitophon, he meant by the interest of the stronger what the stronger thought to be his interest – this was what the weaker had to do; and this was affirmed by him to be justice.
Polemarchus Those were not his words, rejoined Polemarchus.
Socrates Never mind, I replied, if he now says that they are, let us accept his statement. Tell me, Thrasymachus, I said, did you mean by justice what the stronger thought to be his interest, whether really so or not?
Thrasymachus Certainly not, he said. Do you suppose that I call him who is mistaken the stronger at the time when he is mistaken?
343 Socrates When we had got to this point in the argument, and everyone saw that the definition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead of replying to me, said:
Thrasymachus Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?
Socrates Why do you ask such a question, I said, when you ought rather to be answering?
Thrasymachus Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose: she has not even taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.
Socrates What makes you say that? I replied.
Does this description of the success of large-scale injustice remind you of any specific politicians?
343b Thrasymachus Because you fancy that the shepherd or neatherd fattens or tends the sheep or oxen with a view to their own good and not to the good of himself or his master; and you further imagine that the rulers of States, if they are true rulers, never think of their subjects as sheep, and that they are not studying their own advantage day and night. Oh, no; and so entirely astray are you in your ideas about the just and unjust as not even to know… most foolish Socrates, that the just is always a loser in comparison with the unjust. First of all, in private contracts: wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you will find that, when the partnership is dissolved, the unjust man has always more and the just less. Secondly, in their dealings with the State: when there is an income-tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income; and when there is anything to be received the one gains nothing and the other much. Observe also what happens when they take an office; there is the just man neglecting his affairs and perhaps suffering other losses, and getting nothing out of the public, because he is just; moreover he is hated by his friends and acquaintances for refusing to serve them in unlawful ways. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjust man. I am speaking, as before, of injustice on a large scale in which the advantage of the unjust is most apparent; and my meaning will be most clearly seen if we turn to that highest form of injustice in which the criminal is the happiest of men, and the sufferers or those who refuse to do injustice are the most miserable – that is to say tyranny, which by fraud and force takes away the property of others, not little by little but wholesale; comprehending in one, things sacred as well as profane, private and public; for which acts of wrong, if he were detected perpetrating any one of them singly, he would be punished and incur great disgrace – they who do such wrong in particular cases are called robbers of temples, and man-stealers and burglars and swindlers and thieves. But when a man besides taking away the money of the citizens has made slaves of them, then, instead of these names of reproach, he is termed happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by all who hear of his having achieved the consummation of injustice. For mankind censure injustice, fearing that they may be the victims of it and not because they shrink from committing it. And thus, as I have shown, Socrates, injustice, when on a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice; and, as I said at first, justice is the interest of the stronger, whereas injustice is a man’s own profit and interest.
[Y]ou fancy that the shepherd… tends the sheep… with a view… not to the good of himself… and… that… true rulers, never think of their subjects as sheep.
[T]he criminal is the happiest of men…. [I]njustice, when on a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice.
344d Socrates Thrasymachus, when he had thus spoken, having, like a bathman, deluged our ears with his words, had a mind to go away. But the company would not let him; they insisted that he should remain and defend his position; and I myself added my own humble request that he would not leave us. Thrasymachus, I said to him, excellent man, how suggestive are your remarks! And are you going to run away before you have fairly taught or learned whether they are true or not? …. [F]riend, do not keep your knowledge to yourself; we are a large party; and any benefit which you confer upon us will be amply rewarded. For my own part I openly declare that I am not convinced, and that I do not believe injustice to be more gainful than justice, even if uncontrolled and allowed to have free play. For, granting that there may be an unjust man who is able to commit injustice either by fraud or force, still this does not convince me of the superior advantage of injustice, and there may be others who are in the same predicament with myself. Perhaps we may be wrong; if so, you in your wisdom should convince us that we are mistaken in preferring justice to injustice.
Thrasymachus And how am I to convince you, he said, if you are not already convinced by what I have just said; what more can I do for you? Would you have me put the proof bodily into your souls?
Socrates Heaven forbid! I said; I would only ask you to be consistent; or, if you change, change openly and let there be no deception.
Socrates So far am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that justice is the interest of the stronger. This latter question need not be further discussed at present; but when Thrasymachus says that the life of the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just, his new statement appears to me to be of a far more serious character. Which of us has spoken truly? And which sort of life, Glaucon, do you prefer?
Glaucon I for my part deem the life of the just to be the more advantageous, he answered.
Socrates Did you hear all the advantages of the unjust which Thrasymachus was rehearsing?
Glaucon Yes, I heard him, he replied, but he has not convinced me.
Socrates Then shall we try to find some way of convincing him, if we can, that he is saying what is not true?
Glaucon Most certainly, he replied….
Note the meaning of the word ‘justice’ for Thrasymachus. As he confirms for Socrates just below, he’s praising as “just” what has been called unjust…
Thrasymachus What a charming notion! … I affirm … [t]he opposite, he replied.
Socrates Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unanswerable ground; for if the injustice which you were maintaining to be profitable had been admitted by you as by others to be vice and deformity, an answer might have been given to you on received principles; but now I perceive that you will call injustice honourable and strong, and to the unjust you will attribute all the qualities which were attributed by us before to the just, seeing that you do not hesitate to rank injustice with wisdom and virtue.
Thrasymachus You have guessed most infallibly, he replied….
Socrates …. [T]he result of the whole discussion has been that I know nothing at all. For I know not what justice is, and therefore I am not likely to know whether it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is happy or unhappy.
“The Immoralist’s Challenge”
357 Socrates With these words I was thinking that I had made an end of the discussion; but the end, in truth, proved to be only a beginning. For Glaucon, who is always the most pugnacious of men, was dissatisfied at Thrasymachus’s retirement; he wanted to have the battle out. So he said to me:
Glaucon Socrates, do you wish really to persuade us, or only to seem to have persuaded us, that to be just is always better than to be unjust?
Socrates I should wish really to persuade you, I replied, if I could.
Glaucon Then you certainly have not succeeded. Let me ask you now: How would you arrange goods – are there not some which we welcome for their own sakes, and independently of their consequences, as, for example, harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although nothing follows from them?
Socrates I agree in thinking that there is such a class, I replied.
Glaucon Is there not also a second class of goods, such as knowledge, sight, health, which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results?
Socrates Certainly, I said.
Glaucon And would you not recognize a third class, such as gymnastic, and the care of the sick, and the physician’s art; also the various ways of money-making – these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable; and no one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or result which flows from them?
Socrates There is, I said, this third class also. But why do you ask?
Glaucon Because I want to know in which of the three classes you would place justice?
358 Socrates In the highest class, I replied – among those goods which he who would be happy desires both for their own sake and for the sake of their results.
Glaucon Then the many are of another mind; they think that justice is to be reckoned in the troublesome class, among goods which are to be pursued for the sake of rewards and of reputation, but in themselves are disagreeable and rather to be avoided.
Socrates I know, I said, that this is their manner of thinking, and that this was the thesis which Thrasymachus was maintaining just now, when he censured justice and praised injustice. But I am too stupid to be convinced by him.
Glaucon I wish, he said, that you would hear me as well as him, and then I shall see whether you and I agree. For Thrasymachus seems to me, like a snake, to have been charmed by your voice sooner than he ought to have been; but to my mind the nature of justice and injustice has not yet been made clear. Setting aside their rewards and results, I want to know what they are in themselves, and how they [justice and injustice] inwardly work in the soul. If you please, then, I will revive the argument of Thrasymachus. And first  I will speak of the nature and origin of justice according to the common view of them. Secondly,  I will show that all men who practise justice do so against their will, of necessity, but not as a good. And thirdly,  I will argue that there is reason in this view, for the life of the unjust is after all better far than the life of the just – if what they say is true, Socrates, since I myself am not of their opinion…. I want to hear justice praised in respect of itself; then I shall be satisfied, and you are the person from whom I think that I am most likely to hear this; and therefore I will praise the unjust life to the utmost of my power, and my manner of speaking will indicate the manner in which I desire to hear you too praising justice and censuring injustice. Will you say whether you approve of my proposal?
Socrates Indeed I do; nor can I imagine any theme about which a man of sense would oftener wish to converse.
Glaucon I am delighted, he replied, to hear you say so, and shall begin by speaking, as I proposed, of the nature and origin of justice.
Do you agree that justice is merely a fear-based truce?
instantly he became invisible to the rest of the company and they began to speak of him as if he were no longer present. He was astonished at this, and again touching the ring he turned the collet outward and reappeared; he made several trials of the ring, and always with the same result…. Whereupon he contrived to be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the court; where as soon as he arrived he seduced the Queen, and with her help conspired against the King and slew him and took the kingdom. 
[I]nstantly he became invisible…
Once the power of the ring removes fear of being caught, would even the “just person” have to give in and be unjust? If you say Yes, you probably believe “psychological egoism,” the view that people can’t help being self-serving. That’s a claim about what causes behavior. “Ethical egoism” is not about what does cause behavior, but about what should: it’s the view that the proper thing to do is … whatever the ring lets you get away with! Is one or the other form of egoism in play here? Or is it both?
all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine anyone obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice. Enough of this.
[A]ll men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice.
Glaucon Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: ….in the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there is to be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself…. And at his side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, “to be and not to seem good.” There must be no seeming, for
if he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honour and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the opposite of the former. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.… And now that we know what they are like there is no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them. This I will proceed to describe; but as you may think the description a little too coarse, I ask you to suppose, Socrates, that the words which follow are not mine. Let me put them into the mouths of the eulogists of injustice: They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound – will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled. Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to be, just….
[I]f he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honour and rewards.
sealing phase three
Socrates I was going to say something in answer to Glaucon, when Adeimantus, his brother, interposed….
Glaucon’s brother summarizes the challenge facing Socrates.
Socrates accepts the challenge.