REPUBLIC OF PLATO 24/11/10 3:07 PM
SOCRATES: Socrates is remembered chiefly as a philosopher and the teacher of
Plato, but he was also a citizen of Athens, and served the military as a hoplite
during the Peloponnesian War. SENETENCED TO DEATH BY DRINKING POISON
GLAUCON: born circa 445 BC) son of Ariston, was the philosopher Plato's older
brother. introduced to the reader as a man who loves honor, sex, and luxury.
POLEMARCHUS: was the son of Cephalus of Syracuse. He had two brothers,
Lysias and Euthydemus, Plato's Republic is set at Polemarchus' house in the
Piraeus, which was located next to their shield manufacturing store that
employed 120 skilled slaves.
ADEIMANTUS: WAS A COMMANDER AND LATER APPOINTED A GENERAL
CEPHALUS: AN ORATOR; son of Lysanias from Syracuse (5th c.BC) , a wealthy metic
and elderly arms manufacturer living in Athens who engages in dialogue
with Socrates in Plato's
. He was the father of orator Lysias ,
philosopher Polemarchus and Euthydemus.
THRACYMACHUS: Thrasymachus was a citizen of Chalcedon, on the Bosphorus.
His career appears to have been spent as a sophist
CHArmANTIDES: ONE F THE SILENT OBSERVERS OF THE REPUBLIC CONVERSATION.
EUTHYDEMUS: SON OF CEPHALUS
LYSIAS: Greek orator. He was a metic (resident foreigner) in Athens, and as
such he was forbidden to speak as a Roman citizen; all his speeches were
delivered by others. He and his brother were seized by the ruling oligarchy. his
brother was killed but Lysias escaped. He ranks with Antiphon as a writer of
clear, simple prose of great effectiveness, and his style became one model for
Attic Greek prose.
NICERATUS: son of Nicias, commendable writer.
Greece cities were smaller and more political. It was thought that the art of
speaking/rhetoric was most important to be a success as a citizen and
STUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE LECTURE OF JANUARY 7 (
, I, 327a - 334b)
1. Look at a page of the
, any page. One character says one thing;
another character says another; the work proceeds by means of a series of clashes.
What familiar literary form does the Platonic dialogue resemble? How do we go
about interpreting such a work, whose author never speaks directly to us in his
own name, but instead pro v ides us with a cast of characters each of whom presents
his own take on the world?
Freedom, to be intolerant is to commit a great sin. Discovering the ineffectual truth. In
modernity we find itself above all alternatives. The focus is to explore theoretical alternatives
b/w modernity and others. Plato is not a character in these dialogues. The truth is dramatic or
dialectical. Dramatic and subtle. One of the characters socrates makes other characters very
angry. Pay attention to Sophocles. The presentation of the human world is crucial in this
drama. Understand these human interaction and the truth about it. Public things or
affairs=THE REPUBLIC. Ordinarily republic mean form of government. But also politics in the
sense of a way of life.cephalus is the father..what he says goes. Piety supports patriot. Those who
can do, those who cant they talk about it according to cephalus. Why does sophocles spend his life
talking. Cephalus is content with his life in old age in response to sophocles question. Wwould it be
good if eros played no role in manss life at all ? nostaligia for his lost youth by cephalus.
Classical thought aims higher than modern political thought and therefore aims for the
beautiful rather than erotic.
a good character and money is necessary for a good old age in response to Socrates old age rude
question. Cephalus is not the greatest money maker. He is a little ashamed o admit the fear of
punishment in the afterlife. He didn’t even concern himself with justice before. The money
consoles him against what lies beyond. This is the initial presentation of the problem of justice. It is
practice only under duress. In fear of the evils inflicted by the gods. it Is not that justice is good
for you but the divine punishment is bad. Socrates objection has no mention of the g
Gods, the principle behind Socrates’ reformation. Although all truth telling to other has become
dependent on justice. Polemarchus intervenes; in duty to stand by his father. Cephalus’ Heir, who
understands justice as selfless loyalty. Can justice be defined in terms of self interests.
Polemarchus seeks to defend cephalus’ position. 331 e-332 b. POLEMARCHES LEAVES THE GODS OUT OF THE
COVERSATION AS WELL. He tries to explain justice on the basis of friendship. THERE ARE LIMITS TO
EUALITY. Most of us believe in the equality of opportunity. Help those who helped us and harm
those who harm us…Christian context. In cephalus exchange there is a selfish concern. In
polemarchus THEREI IS MORE CONCERN WITH FRIENDSHIP HE IS A MORE NOBLE SOLE THAN HIS FATHER.
Cephalus uses money to atone for his sins. There is always a certain political dimension to justice.
They both define justice with respect to self interest. Polemarchus tries to solve the dichotomy of
jusice, with the friend and enemy distinctions. Socrates 332 c. autocraft a useful art rather
than fine arts. Justice is understood as giving what is fitting. Justice must be based on a form of
expertise. 332 e. not an adequate answer by polemarchus w.r.t warfare. And in peacetime, justice
is useful when money is useless. Justice is viewed as a glorified security guard hired at minimum
wage. Ultimately polemarchus answers wont stand Socrates scrutiny. 333 e. contradiction in
the robber comment. It takes a thief to catch a thief. Justice is an art therefore unidentifiable.
Crazy dialogues! Even Plato understands how crazy these dialogues are.
In book one there will be three definitions of justice. We usually call justice rather than an art,
it’s a virtue, a moral disposition. The just man maybe a simple righteous person, knowledge and
intention lie behind a righteous man. So it must and must not be an art.
2. The sett ings of Platonic dialo gues are important. The discuss ion reported in
takes place in the Piraeus, the seaport of Athens. You’ve all heard
what seaports are like. You may even have visited one, perhaps even as a drunken
sailor. Is this the appropriate setting for a discussion of the meaning of justice?
Don’t such discuss ions belong in universities?
3. There are some conversations in which we participate willingly, and others
that are forced upon us. Does Socrates submit to this one willingly or unwill ingly?
• Did not intend to spend the day in the conversation. 320b. stronger and unreasonable;
polemarchus. Philosopher kings was the major forms of regime rules. In the real
world philosophers wishes are easily brushed aside. Socrates seems powerless at the
beginning of the conversation. Power and wisdom. The greatest innovation of all;
philosophy was created over the great waters and ports. New goddess inauguration
in Venice festival.
4. To hear old Cephalus tell it, he a nd Socrates have a lot in common. In
particular, they both like to talk. Do they have as much in common as Cephalus
supposes? If Cephalus enjoys talking so much, why does he leave the discuss ion almost
before it gets started?
5. The discuss ion between Socrates and Cephalus is brief, but no too brief to teach
us something important about justice. Namely?
6. Polemarchus presents himself to the departing Cephalus as the heir of his
father's argument about justice. Is the position that he takes up the same one that
Cephalus has laid down?