This paper deals with Plato's use of poikilos and cognates to describe democracy. It does not argue that Plato's Republic contains empirical analyses of some contemporary event, but supposes that an historical reading of the book is possible and legitimate. Post Peloponnesian War Athenian society experienced profound socio-economic changes. Echoing the aristocratic élite's circumspect anxiety when faced with the nouveaux riches, Plato clearly regards obsessive greediness as one of the root causes of the corruption of any political system. Referring to democracy, the philosopher invents the himation poikilon or ‘embroidered coat of many colours' metaphor. By materializing the multifaceted concept of poikilia, this metaphor gives a single and palpable form to the principal topoi of anti-democratic rhetoric: the himation poikilon evokes the motley constitution of the Athenian regime, the tyrant's ostentatious opulence, aped by the demos turannos, the inconstancy of the demos, the deceitful character of democracy and, last but not least, its penchant for spectacles.