Today I thought I’d give myself a break and share someone else’s work–Plato’s, that is. The following quote comes from the character Glaucon in Plato’s Republic. It reminds me of some people you might know: Jesus Christ, Sydney Carton (the guy from A Tale of Two Cities), Bruce Wayne (especially in The Dark Knight), and one of my Hogwarts professors, Severus Snape. It also–shameless plug–reminds me of Jack Donnelly, the protagonist of the novel I wrote.
“Beside our picture of the unjust man let us set one of the just man, the man of true simplicity of character who, as Aeschylus says, wants ‘to be and not to seem good.’ We must, indeed, not allow him to seem good, for if he does he will have all the rewards and honours paid to the man who has a reputation for justice, and we shall not be able to tell whether his motive is love of justice or love of the rewards and honours. No, we must strip him of everything except his justice, and our picture of him must be drawn in a way diametrically opposite to that of the unjust man. Our just man must have the worst of reputations for wrongdoing even though he has done no wrong, so that we can test his justice and see if it weakens in the face of unpopularity and all that goes with it; we shall give him an undeserved and life-long reputation for wickedness, and make him stick to his chosen course until death. In this way, when we have pushed the life of justice and of injustice each to its extreme, we shall be able to judge which of the two is happier . . .
“They will say that the just man, as we have pictured him, will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned, his eyes will be put out, and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified, and learn at last that one should want not to be, but to seem just.”
Of course, Socrates sets Glaucon straight. Read The Republic to find out how.