POL 200 Lecture #1
(Tutorials begin week of 24 )
The Republic - Introduction
• Consider what he is reacting to, we must think about his time and what might’ve
motivated him to write the text as he did.
• The spirit of competition, the spirit of struggle had a major impact on greek politics (as in
• Polis – greek term for community
• Conception of good – values you possess
• Conception of the good relevant to individuals, can change throughout life
The Political history: democratic institutions of ancient Athens and the controversies surrounding
• Plato is developing an idea of an alternative regime, although critical of the democratic
practices of his time, it owes lot to democracy.
• It is a just commentary based on the proper basis for good citizenship and self rule.
• Does Plato think that the just city he is developing possible? Evidence?
• Democracy in ancient Greece was unstable (lasted 100 years, but suffered
from both inside and outside forces)
• City states – focused on one urban community with a rural periphery
• Athens (pop. Approx 45000) engaged in several wars, against Persia and
Sparta, all which lasted a fairly long time. These weakened the state.
• Democracy believed to begin in 462 BC and lasted until 322.
• We go to trained professionals because they can do it best, using this logic,
why not train someone in politics and let them make political decisions.
• Athens, first time power was given to the ‘popular’ classes.
• Athens was a direct democracy as compared to liberal or representative
democracy (Canada, U.S etc..) • Direct democracy – citizens have sovereignty and citizens rule
• Assembly met 40 times per year, voted by hand