Article Title

Socrates' Satisfied Pigs

Document Type

Religion and Philosophy


At the start of Republic’s book II (358e-361d), Glaucon renews Thrasymachus’s challenge to Socrates with a robust account of the origin of justice, arguing that justice is only instrumentally desirable for the end of a good reputation, and that everyone would choose to be unjust were there no legal or social consequences. Socrates soon responds to this narrative account in kind (370c-372d), telling the story of an idyllic city whose people live simply, “in peace and good health,” and contribute to one another’s welfare by performing the task for which they are best suited. Socrates praises this city as “the true city” and “healthy,” remarking as well that it has “grown to completeness” and will span generations. Glaucon, however, dismisses it as a “city for pigs” (372d), and at his request Socrates, after defending the city against Glaucon, introduces luxury into the polis, which results in its degeneration and subsequent rebirth as Kallipolis. I will argue that Socrates’ words should be taken at face value, and that this City of Pigs is Socrates’ political ideal, superior even to Kallipolis.