Even a glance at the Republic suffices to show how broadly Plato understands education and how entirely education pervades the new city. Rhetoric on the other hand barely appears, except maybe in the form of the noble lie: Socrates proposes that the city’s leaders repeatedly tell all citizens of their birth out of the ground, with metals in their souls that justify sorting them into different social classes.1 Maybe the rulers would tell this story at public meetings, maybe in schools. Anyway, and this must be no coincidence, the noble lie shares more than one defining detail with the myth of autochthony that Socrates tells in the funeral speech. It does not follow from resemblances between the noble lie and the auto-

chthony story that the speech in the Menexenus is a speech told within the Republic’s beautiful city. Some passages in the funeral speech tempt its reader to see the Athens being described as an Athens already transformed by philosophy, but this interpretation will not hold for the speech as a whole. But even without claiming the Republic to be the theory whose practice is told of in the Menexenus, a reading of the funeral speech would profit from seeing it as compatible with the Republic’s pedagogical politics. Both the ends and the means of education in the Menexenus overlap with the ends and means of education as the Republic conceives that process. The Republic obviously politicizes education. But it matters more (and

requires something beyond simplistic talk about propaganda and the total state) to understand how far the Republic also seeks to educate politics. This aspect of Plato’s reforms goes to the heart of his political enterprise. What human society has henceforth left to occur according to the promptings of instinct, an instinct that the same human society has corrupted, can be done much better with instruction and regular practice. Sometimes the instruction that the Republic recommends is closer to

habituation, meant to instil tendencies to good behaviour in the city’s guardians, than to formal tutoring in bodies of knowledge. As children the guardians ride out to watch battles so as to inure themselves to war’s sights

and sounds. They fight bravely, ignore money, mourn only moderately and in private. The education becomes intellectualized after Socrates identifies the city’s rulers with philosophers, and recommends courses of study in arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. And often enough the least theoretical virtuous behaviour – care for parents, reverence towards the gods’ temples – is said to follow from the good ordering of the soul, which would make training in the soul’s highest cognitive functions the real education from which all others follow.2