Christian Analysis of "The Republic of Plato"

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Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968).

1. Book I

The Republic of Plato[1]

Book I [2]

 Three Visions of Justice

 A discussion between Philosopher Socrates, Aristocrat Glaucon, and Democratic Sophist Thrasymachus, with an audience of interested citizens, develops over the definition of justice, a subject vitally important to be understood if philosophers are able to exist in society. Leading this discussion are three proposed visions of justice.  The first, spoken by old man Cephalus, defines justice as telling the truth, and paying back what is owed, appealing to the noetic, most noble, part of the soul. The second, spoken by Cephalus’ son Polemarchus disagrees, and defines justice as to do good to friend, and to harm one’s enemies that give pleasure to the themotic, spirited, part of the soul. Pompous Sophist Thrasymachus disagrees with both and declares justice to be the advantage of the stronger making connection with the appetitive passions, the lowest part of the soul that is seldom satisfied. These three visions are debated by the men with Socrates leading them with questions that forces them to defend their position which leads to deficient expressions of all three ideas. The definition of justice is not determined in Book I, but the nature of the discussion leads the reader to learn many things about justice through the conversations. 

The conversation between Socrates and the men leads listeners to carefully weigh the important definition of justice. It begins when wealthy Cephalus confronts his approaching end, where money matters little, as he wrestles with the destination of the unjust to Hades upon death (330d). Yet, in his consideration of the benefits of money, he stands upon wealth as a prevention for forcing a man to steal and lie to pay that due to gods in sacrifice or men indebted (331a); thus, the wealthy man avoids becoming unjust and forced to pay the penalty after death. This argument leads to Socrates narrowing Cephalus’ definition of justice to “Justice is telling the truth and paying what you owe to your fellow man,” eliminating the part where gods are participants in justice.

Socrates challenges this definition, but the old man has sacrifices waiting, and leaves the defense of his definition of justice to his rightful heir, Polemarchus to defend (331d). Polemarchus does not handle his inheritance well. He quickly moves from his father’s definition, even though it is well-supported by respected Poet Simonides, when Socrates inserts the problems of inconsistency of paying that which is owed without consideration of circumstance (i.e. mental illness, obligation to friends, etc.) (332a) Thus, the most noble of definitions does not stand to the truth.

Polemarchus is guided by Socrates to consider the circumstances of situation when obligation to pay that which is owed. When considering the different payments due that of friends vs. that due to enemies, Polemarchus’ definition of justice becomes “Do good to friends and harm to enemies.” This becomes the definition of justice that Socrates addresses next (debating the art of medicine, cooking, piloting, farming, music, guardianship, etc. (332-334)), that causes Polemarchus’ to consider the difficulties of this position. Socrates links Polemarchus position to poets Homer and Simonides that seems to support the idea that justice is the art of stealing for the benefit of friends and the harm of enemies (334b). Not only does the definition collapse under careful questioning since it is always unjust to cause harm (335e), the fact that it is linked to the famed poets far removes it from the philosophers’ realm as useless fodder worthy of disregard. The themotic benefits to the soul of such a position cannot be realized.

Next foolish and pompous Sophist Thrasymachus, motivated to gain tuition-paying learners for his sophist school (338 a), attempts to outwit Socrates in a lawyerly debate of his definition that justice comes only to the advantage of the stronger. The seemingly brilliant oratory skills of Thrasymachus quickly lead him into a bind, as Socrates unravels his stance with questions that force him to defend his position that collapses under careful examination.

Socrates begins the questioning with the nature of food to prove that it is both advantageous to the strong and weak alike (338d); but, Thrasymachus felt this direction too lowly, and instead develops his argument that rulers of the three types of government (tyrannical, democratic, aristocratic) always rule to their advantage, thus proving his point in his mind (338e).  Socrates leads Thrasymachus’ theory to collapse, when it is agreed that rulers can sometimes make mistakes in their rule, and direct things that are disadvantageous to them (339c – 340c). Then Socrates brings attention to the motive of rulers that are based upon both greedy lusts and compassionate cares, using the examples of doctors, pilots, and shepherds (341c - 347a). Since each requires wages for their effort, then rulers are dependent upon the weaker; justice cannot rest upon the stronger if it is the weaker that the stronger serve (347b). Further, in Socrates opinion, no just man rules for profit or honor, but choose to do so because there is no one better to fill that position (full consideration of the needs of the weaker).

Socrates also implores spirited Glaucon’s opinion that it is the just man that receives most assets because of his idealistic need for justice to be good (347e) in contrast with Thrasymachus’ position that the unjust man always is more profitable, since he is unattached by moral requirements existing for the just (343b – 344c). Socrates turns Thrasymachus’ argument inside out by proving that injustice creates factions while justice causes unanimity and friendship. At the end of Book 1, Socrates declares, “Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice is never more profitable than justice” (354b). While the definition of justice is not resolved in Book 1, a great deal is learned that establishes the foundation for the chapters to follow.

Deeper Philosophical Thought

 The political community reflects the soul of man. The discussions between Glaucon (themotic part of soul that is spirited and courageous), Thrasymachus (appetitive part of the soul that is passionate) and Socrates (noetic part of the soul that is reasonable and noble) show the platonic soul in dialogue.  This becomes the under girding dynamic of Book I.

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968).

[2] Warren Gage, Plato and Augustine Cc502d‐Sp_1 Lecture Videos (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Knox Theological Seminary, 2013). Where do the lectures of brilliant teaching by Dr. Warren Gage end as he guides my understanding through his nuanced considerations of The Republic from a Christian perspective? Without his teachings, I would not have been able to see the depths of information that are reflected; however, his skillful handling forces my mind to reach greater heights; where his teaching ends and mine takes over cannot be fully separated. Thus, I give full credit to the deeper things recorded in these papers to Dr. Gage, and encourage others interested in seeking a Classic and Christian Master’s degree to be well worth your study time at Knox Seminary.

2. Book II


 Books II contemplates the true meaning of justice when Book I fails to define it perfectly. Socrates reasons through philosophical inquiry and develops arguments that are known as “logos” in Book II as the unsatisfied listeners in Book I press him for a different conclusion for the definition of justice which was reached in Thrasymachus’ disappointing discussion. Aristocrat Glaucon, companion to Socrates in the journey to the city, encourages Socrates to continue the arguments for the meaning of justice with disregard to Thrasymachus frustrating failure by offering his defenses, for argument’s sake, to the logos developed by Socrates.

Glaucon begins by challenging Socrates to prove that justice belongs to the highest good that is beneficial to its own sake and the product that derives from it. First, Glaucon divides the presence of good into three specific areas to set the boundaries for Socrates’ argument. The first is those things that are desired for the consequences such as medical treatment and gymnastic training; these bring favorable outcomes by the making of money (357b). The next category of good is based upon those things desired for their own sake, like joy and pleasure (357c). The highest good belongs to those that are both desired for their own sake and the outcomes that human beings receive from them, like “thinking and seeing and being healthy”[1] (357c).

Glaucon presents his challenge to Socrates by stringently defending the case that most men choose the unjust response rather than the just, and give Socrates ample opportunities to respond with blame to injustice and praise to justice (358d). The central point of contention contrasts the impact of “doing injustice without paying the penalty” or the worst case, “suffering injustice without being able to avenge oneself”[2] (359a). He invokes the “Ring of Gyges” legend that in his mind proves the point that the most just men will behave unjustly if they can muster invisibility with no fear of accusation, reprisal, or condemnation (359d). His point is that most men will choose unjustness because it is much more profitable than being just. Glaucon’s point that the tendency of most people is to view justice as a necessary evil that is applied out of fear of the evil that could derive from society; this idea is supported by the legend that shows unjustness the choice of the invisible.

A powerful logos concerning whether it is better to be secretly unjust, but falsely known to others as being just, or to be fully just, but falsely accused of unjustness by others is developed that leads the listeners to ponder the deeper problem of a just city or a just soul. This example probes listeners to reach the conclusion those appearances of justness or unjustness cannot define the reality and that justness must be examined with other criteria than appearances alone (361 b, c, d). But, listeners agree that the happiness of a person cannot be judged according to the just/unjust consideration, since unjust things seem to please humans greatly and bring them joy, while justice offers a hard life full of drudgery (364a).

Glaucon and his brother Adeimantus encourage Socrates to argue the point of justice being the greatest good with restrictions that required him to ignore the reputation of men to avoid the complicated confusion of appearances. Rather, Socrates is asked to speak of the advantages of justness for its own sake without regard to external benefits (367 d).

The Logos of the 1st City of Necessity

Socrates defines two different kinds of political justice as those in the city and the individual.  He decides that since a city is bigger than a man, it is easier to create logos upon its foundation, and then when justice is fully analyzed from that aspect, the individual should be examined to see if it translates in the same manner (369a). Thus, Socrates begins the arguments for the first two cities to discover justice in the bigger so the smaller individual justice can be fully understood.

Producers: The First Class of a Just City

Socrates introduces the 1st City of Necessity (369d) and defines the role of each human in that city as specializing in just one task each, “one man one art”[3] (370b). The principle of specialization purposes that human beings should do the work they are best at; thus, the greatest products and efforts come from those humans doing one task that they are particularly able to do. This principle advances the logos further, as the city of utmost necessity consists of craftsman, farmers, and doctors that each do their own tasks well and do not do what others can do. This class of people is distinguished as the “producing class” because they make products for use by others in the quantity that is needed in the first city of utmost necessity (371a).

As the logos of the 1st City of Necessity develops, it adds tradesmen, merchants, slaves, wage-earners creating a balance of different classes that cater to the needs of each citizen. It is the noetic city that is healthy (in the pattern of Sparta), and meets the three fundamental needs of food, housing and clothing (369d). It provides for all necessities and caters to the needs of the body.  The ideal city of this type has 5,040 souls (adult voting males).[4] This city is favored by Socrates for its healthiness; but, Glaucon does not like this city and cannot find justice through its logos.

The Logos of the 2nd City of Luxury

Socrates begins advancing the logos to the development of the 2nd City of Luxury. This appetitive (439d) city is feverish (372e) and swollen (in the pattern of Athens).  There are never enough goods in the city and greed demands more and more.  Because this city brings more people into citizenship, it must take land from the neighbors to provide to maintain the space and luxuries of the unjust city (373d). There is swine in this city and a need for government.  It requires a standing army to preserve that tyrannical government. 

Guardians: The Second Class of a Just City

The greatest importance for the distribution of goods becomes the army and its need for a massive amount of provisions.  Thus a purging of the 2nd City of Luxury must begin by establishing rules and education (gymnastics for the body, music for the soul) of the Guardians (376e). Soldiers must be trained to be noble dogs (376a) that love their master and hate everyone else, whether the master is evil or good (375a) and balances spiritedness with gentleness and cruelty as needed (374 b, c).  Focus upon the gods, whether demonic or divine would be subdued in the culture, and those attempts to say things about the gods will be met with harshness and without a chorus; they will not be spoken about in the educational process by law (383 a,b,c).

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 35.

[2] Ibid., 37.

[3] Ibid., 47.

[4] Warren Gage, Plato and Augustine Cc502d-Sp_1 Lecture Videos (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Knox Theological Seminary, 2013).

3. Book III

Book III

 The Purged 2nd City of Luxury

 Book III continues to seek the meaning of justice through the model of cities so that the individual justice can be understood; specifically, it opens with the continued examination of the development of soldier guardians for the purged 2nd City of Luxury. Socrates proposes that the fearsome characteristics of Hell must be muted to the warrior guardians of the purged 2nd City of Luxury to encourage their nature to choose death (and fear slavery) in protection of the city (386 a, b; 387 a, b, c, d, e). The noble lie, made only by the ruler of the city, must create heroes (with moderate emotions) to be emulated and ultimate reward to be shared after death so the 2nd City of Luxury guardians protect their charge with a willingness to die for their cause(388e). Socrates recommends setting the warriors apart from commoners in society, leading them to believe they are better than the other citizens (388a).

Liars in the city, other than the ruler, must be punished. All things must be done in moderation in pleasures derived from “drink, sex, and eating,” and the multitudes and their youth must be trained in this important nature (389e).

The logos of the 2nd City of Luxury requires the guardians to conform to the one craft, one man principle.  The guardians must also be limited in the imitation of their tragic and comic attributes, reflecting only that attribute that comes naturally to them, whether it is courage, moderate, holy, or free.  Those clever at imitating, or bearing the negative principles of cowardliness, shamefulness, drunkenness, or slavery must be excluded from the guardian class (395 c; 396 a; 400 a, b).

Music Education

 The stories and poetry in the purged 2nd City of Luxury must be controlled to emulate only those characteristics that reflect the truth if a just city is to be developed.  The poets and prose writers in Socrates time made happy men unjust and wretched men just, defining the act of injustice as profitable if it can be done without consequence (392b). Thus it is determined for the purpose of logos that music education must be taught through stories and poetry that are taught by austere, less entertaining muses that focus upon the needs of the city, and the more gifted storytellers that spur imagination and imitation to be banned from the city (398a). Further the music of the city must be of certain beat that stirs warlike deeds and violent work for the warriors and another beat for those unviolent persuaders, eliminating the need for musical instruments, many-toned, panharmonic tunes and rhythms that stir insolence, illiberality, and insolence. (399 b, c). It is only good music that should be given to the guardians that caused them to recognize moderation, courage, liberality, magnificence, and related attributes through the soul-teaching rhythms (402c).

Gymnastics Education

Socrates begins the discourse of gymnastics education by first purging it of inappropriate eroticism between teacher and boy.  Gymnastic training must reflect a love that is pure, if the vital education for training the warriors is to be successful.  It is training for war that a gymnastics education should be focused upon, with a healthy mixture of soul-growing music to balance the soldier’s growth (404b). The guardians must be trained by gymnastics to be sleepless like hounds, see and hears as sharply as possible, be strong enough to experience changes in available water and food, the sun’s heat, winds, and health concerns (404b).

Just cities and just souls pursue righteous desires. Physical pleasure in sexual acts must not be acceptable behaviors for a man that is striving to become just, good, and beautiful. The highest form of erotic love is without sexual satisfaction, to lead the beloved to knowledge of truth, and must be stressed in all gymnastics education.

Medical Care

The logos of the purged 2nd Luxurious City moves to the purpose of doctors; it is agreed that medicine should treat the healthy that suffer from a single, curable illness in a just city.  Chronically ill people should be left alone to die naturally. Those with mental illness should be put to death.  Only those producers who are able to rise above their illness to continue to produce their goods should live; those unable to work should die, if the 2nd City is to stay luxurious and vital (407-408).

Rulers: The Third Class of a Just City

 The third and final class of a just society must contain rulers.  Rulers are created when the guardian class is divided with those of superiority to their peers are selected to rule (412c).  The guardians then are renamed to “auxiliaries” that enforce the rulers’ works according to their orders. Their souls must be harmonized with moderation and courage (410e). The proper degree of harmonization of tension and relaxation comes from the education of music and gymnastics for the spirited soul with philosophy an incidental instruction from the other two. Those that have the best harmonization become the rulers (412a). They should be selected from the watched guardians as they are educated, and the one believed to choose to do the most advantageous things for the city and unwilling to do what is not part of the criteria (412e).

The judge rules souls with his good soul, and must be old and a late-learner of injustice, not through personal experience, but years of observation (409a). The art of medicine and the art of law in the city must be regulated by laws to eliminate those that have bodies that cannot heal or souls of bad natures and incurable.  Thus, the city eliminates their burden, while at the same time stand as warning to the young who might wander from moderation without it (410a).

The test to choose the rulers from the guardian class must start in their youth.  They must be watched by the Philosopher and give them tasks in which most men would forget and be deceived through conviction (413c).  The man that has a memory and is hard to deceive, “hard to bewitch, graceful in everything, a good guardian of himself and the music he was learning, proving himself to possess rhythm and harmony on all these occasions” would be the best ruler of a city (414a).[1]

The Myth of Metals

Socrates prepares the necessity for a noble lie to convince the rulers, the soldiers, and then the rest of the city of their connection to each other in brotherhood and the need to defend and protect the city and its residents. This noble lie takes the form of the “myth of the metals” that recalls citizen’s birth from the earth with a metal mixture in his soul (415a, b, c).  Those of gold are fit to rule, those of auxiliary guardianship mixed with silver, and producers either bronze or iron. If a ruler does not have the prerequisite metal of gold, ruin to the city will result. This noble lie seeks to create the duty of patriotism amongst citizens so the just city can survive attack, by linking the different classes to each other in brotherhood, each destined to carry out his individual part for the better of the community.

Book III ends with a discussion of the housing for the guardians that will be communal living provided to them by the city.  They cannot receive wages, wealth, or property because they would then become part of the producing class.  They are made to feel extra special and separated from the general population by giving them the knowledge that the earthly gold and silver is different from the divine gold and silver in their souls, of which they should avoid earthly contact with the same. So, allowance is made for the taxes of the city to support its guardians and rulers (417a, b) and the soldiers manipulated with the noble lie to separate themselves from the general population.

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 93.

4. Book IV


Adeimantus interrupts Socrates and points out that his plan would not make rulers happy by restricting ownership, refusing to pay wages other than food alone, and hindering their movement through a lack of funding, unable to give gifts to lady companions, or have a life of happiness that the other city dwellers enjoy  (420a, b). Socrates establishes that happiness cannot be based upon any one class of people, but what is best for the city as a whole (420b).

Purple-eyed statue

Socrates uses the example of not painting the fairest eyes of a sculptured statue purple, the most beautiful color in existence. Though both the eyes and the color purple the fairest parts, together they create an image that is untrue.  But, if the eyes are subdued by black paint, but all the other parts colored to their appropriate tint, the end result will work together in unity to form that is fully beautiful (420c).

He likens this example to the necessary obligation to deal with each class of the city appropriately in order to make the city as good as possible for the whole. When money is part of an individual’s and city’s market, then acquisition of wealth or the fall into poverty creates producers that cease making their products well (421d). Wealth produces luxury, idleness, and innovation and poverty produces illiberality, wrongdoing, and innovation (422b). Thus, the guardians must guard against this possibility if a just city is to be founded by preventing the city from making and distributing money.

A just city without currency would receive support of a neighboring city promised the spoils of war with the protection of the best warriors against invasion. But, the city without money must ensure that the boundaries of the city remain manageable for the rulers.  The guardians must be tasked with keeping it from being too little or too big (423b).

The education of the guardians that has been developed in the logos with a harmonization of gymnastics, music, and philosophy should place them in a position to settle any disagreements amongst the citizens of the city.  Therefore, there is no need for laws to govern the people.  The judgment of disagreements can be accomplished by rulers that have been properly educated.

 The Founding of the Just City

Socrates announces that the Just City is founded fully in the logos, and encourages participation in the discussion to see “…where the justice might be and where the injustice, in what they differ from one another, and which the man who’s going to be happy must possess…”[1] (427d). He suggests and examination of the four Greek virtues of wisdom (428b), courage (429a), moderation (430d), and justice (432b), to see if the just city is good.

Wisdom is discovered in the just city in the smallest group of citizens, the true guardians.  It is this small group of ruling guardians that express enough knowledge in their judgment that brings wisdom to bear (429a).

Courage is found among the auxiliary guardians that have come to them through their perfect education of gymnastics and music.  Those that have received this harmonization of education are able to preserve that given to them to protect, just as the color purple is preserved on a carefully dyed cloth (429d; 430a, b).

Moderation is discovered, once again, in the ruling guardians, whose nature is well-trained and better than the weaker community it guards.  “But the simple and moderate desires, pleasures, and pains, those led by calculation accompanied by intelligence and right opinion, and those ones born with the best natures and best educated,”[2] are determined by Socrates to exhibit the trait of moderation (431c). But, unlike wisdom and courage which is limited to a small group, moderation is spread throughout the citizens, but made difficult to master in the oppressed minorities, such as children, women, domestics, and slaves (432a; 431c). For those of weak moderation, the desires of the common are mastered by the desires and prudence of the more decent few (431d). A unanimous desire for moderation must rule in the city and among dwellers with the stronger helping the weaker, causing the citizen’s to chant in unity (432a). Moderation is connected with the decision of who should rule, and the concept that those best suited for each job are doing actively participating in that work.

The Definition of Justice

Socrates and his listeners finally arrive at their goal, the definition of justice.  It is this definition they sought after since the logos was first developed beginning with Book I. Socrates says that justice is probably “the practice of minding one’s own business – when it comes into being in a certain way”[3] (433b).

Socrates explains that the definition of justice was found “after having considered moderation, courage, and prudence, this is what’s left over in the city; it provided the power by which all these others came into being; and once having come into being, it provides them with preservation as long as it’s in the city.  Money-making, auxiliary, and guardian classes doing what’s appropriate, each of them minding its own business in a city, is justice and what would make the city just (434d).

Greatest Harm to the City is Injustice

 “Meddling among the classes, of which there are three, and exchange with one another is the greatest harm for the city and would most correctly be called extreme evil-doing”[4] (434c).

 Definition of Justice Tested With Man Association

Socrates reminds them that their whole purpose to discover the justness was to identify it in a person.  Since the city was bigger, it would be much easier to dissect its nature to arrive at a conclusion.  Now, Socrates suggests that they apply their finding of the definition of justice to a single man, and if the two agree, then everything is fine.  But if something turns up different in their examination of justice in a man, then they must go back to the city and test it to confirm or readjust their definition.

Three Forms of Virtue within a Man

Socrates claims there are three forms within a soul that can be known by examining human desires.  The rational part of the soul seeks truth, the spirited part wants honor, and the appetitive part lusts for drink, food, sex, and especially money.  These three parts of the soul correspond to the three classes in the just city.  The producing class has most prominent the appetitive aspect of the soul, the auxiliaries shows the spirited side, and the guardians exhibit reason through their love of knowledge (437a-443e).

As with the just city, each of the parts of the soul minds their own business (443b). The rational part, however, rules the spirited which rules the appetitive (calculating).  When a soul is ruled by spirit, it seeks honor (spirited); ruled by appetite seeks wealth, goods, drink, food, and sex (desiring).  The just soul seeks knowledge to bring reason to the forefront (441a).

Each part of the soul can potentially rebel in an effort to take control.  When all three parts are harmonized perfectly, as in the just city, and the nature of the man is ruled by the proper one accordingly, the body is healthy. But, sickness occurs when one is ruled by a form that is contrary to his nature (444c, d).

Justice in the Man

Justice in a man then is not exactly minding a man’s external business; rather, justice is found in the soul when each part of the soul stays out of each other and other people’s business (443d).  In Socrates’ words:

“He doesn’t let each part in him mind other people’s business or the three classes in the soul meddle with each other, but really sets his own house in good order and rules himself; he arranges himself, becomes his own friend, and harmonizes the three parts, exactly like three notes in a harmonic scale, lowest, highest, and middle.  And if there are some other parts in between, he binds them together and becomes entirely one from many, moderate and harmonized. Then, and only then, he acts, if he does act in some way – either concerning the acquisition of money, or the care of the body, or something political, or concerning private contracts.  In all these actions he believes and names a just and fine action one that preserves and helps to produce this condition, and wisdom the knowledge that supervises this action; while he believes and names an unjust action one that undoes this condition, and lack of learning, in its turn, the opinion that supervises this action.”[5] (443d)

These three parts, working together establish the virtue of justice.  But, there are as many types of the ruler of a soul, as there are regimes that rule a city:

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 105.

[2] Ibid., 109.

[3] Ibid., 111.

[4] Ibid., 113.

[5] Ibid., 123.

5. Book V


Socrates has just finished defining the one of five regimes that rules the just city and just soul as a kingship/aristocracy.  Polemarchus stops him in the middle of his listing, to challenge him about the problems stirred by Socrates when he spoke about the spouses and children shared by the guardians in a communal relationship. Socrates then answers this challenge with further discourse that speaks about the three waves that must be navigated before virtues can be expressed.

Three Waves

1. The first wave educates women with a Greek education of gymnastics and music with equal status as the nude male students (451e – 457c). Socrates evaluates women and men to be equal with regards to the ruling of the three divisions of the soul; thus, the just city will use the women for their skills as the men are used.

2. The second wave eliminates monogamous marriage, and makes the women and children the possession of the community of guardians, rather than singular family units (457d – 462a). This promotes the pure herd reproduction of the best in the guardian class, and the common giving birth to the common (promoted by the Ruler with established festivals and sacrifices to encourage commoner’s lovemaking) (459e). All children born from the mating festival are gathered up and raised together, without regard to the parentage. To avoid incestual relationships of unknown children, all children able to have been sired (calculated based upon festival dates of active sexual relationships), the adults must consider all of the children as descending from them, and avoid sexual contact (463a-c).

3. The third wave requires a Philosopher-King to be placed in rule (472a-473d).

Socrates deals with different aspects of the development of the guardian’s lifestyles and the development of war.  Of particular oddity is the position to allow young children that seem destined to become guardians to participate in war as observers for the purpose of apprentice training (467b, c, d). Also, Socrates establishes rules of war, to include identifying the differences of vanquishment, enslavery, and destruction of land upon victory from barbarians, but, an avoidance of this if the fight includes Greeks (469c, d, e).

The discussion also moves to the difference between knowledge and opinion (476a – 480a) so that Socrates can argue for the third wave. Knowledge is naturally dependent on what is, to know what is that it is and how it is (476b). It is established that opinion is not ignorance, but lies between ignorance and knowledge. With the rule of the Philosopher-King, he is able to pronounce knowledge without offence to the opinionated, because philosophers are known for searching for the truth in every matter (480a).

Christian Application




Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968)

6. Book VI


Socrates continues his discussion about the philosopher’s nature that qualifies him to be ruler over the just city. The nature of a philosopher is defined as “those who are able to grasp what is always the same in all respects (484a).” Philosophers are moved toward learning from their youth with knowledge gained adding to their wisdom (485d). The seeking of truth demands moderate behavior; Philosophers forsake pleasure to reach this truth (485e).

Adeimantus brings up the point that Philosophers are not trusted.  When people try to talk about truth, little questions steer them a bit askew; but, these little questions add up until eventually the Philosopher has changed their truth (487b).  Socrates offers an image of mutiny to explain that exercise (487e, 488a-e). He speaks on untrained men seizing the ship steering from the captain because he looks at the stars for direction.  Untrained men have no understanding of why the captain would do this, and feel more qualified than he to steer. “Don’t you think that the true captain will be called a real stargazer, a babbler, and a good-for-nothing by those who sail in ships governed in that way?”[1] (488e)

And that is just part of the job for a Philosopher; Socrates makes the point “Don’t you also share my supposition that the blame for the many’s being harshly disposed toward philosophy is on those men from outside who don’t belong and have burst in like drunken revelers, abusing one another and indulging a taste for quarreling, and who always make their arguments about persons, doing what is least seemly in philosophy?”[2] (500b)

Socrates next tries to convince Adeimantus that there are good Philosophers and bad (vicious) Philosophers, dependent upon the sources of ruin that come to them.  Specifically, part of the soul of a Philosopher can be destroyed by courage, moderation, beauty, wealth, strength of body, and even relatives that are powerful in the city (491, b, c). Good Philosophers, if the few can be found, must escape corruption, but those that are able to escape are the most virtuous of men, ruled by their rational soul and always seeking the truth rather than the opinion.

The Philosopher/Kings chosen to rule must come from the best of the best of the guardian class.  They must be “lovers of the city, tested in pleasures and pains, and they must show that they don’t cast out this conviction in labors or fears or any other reverse”[3] (503a). He must be known to be “pure, like gold tested in fire,” and then set up as ruler.  Gifts and prizes must be given him in life and death.[4] But, by these strict requirements for rulership, comes few candidates; those with the philosopher nature are easily stirred to corruption by their quick minds (503c).

Form of the Good

The most important thing, greater than even justice, for the Philosopher/Kings to know is the understanding of the idea of good (504d, 505a). Socrates analogizes the Form of the Good with three metaphors that relate together and provide more definition than simple words can provide. These three metaphors, in Book VI and Book VII are the sun, the line, and the cave and these lead the listeners to understanding the identity of the philosopher.

1. The Sun – The visible is illuminated by the sun (507d). Because we know this, we can infer about the intelligible world with its “idea of the good.” Thus, reality extends far beyond what can be seen and known by practical man.  The soul has the same characterization when it fixes its attention upon that which is illuminated by truth and “that which is, it intellects, knows, and appears to possess intelligence.”[5] The sun is the source of light; but, as a source gives human beings sight to see more than is within sight, which brings knowledge, and makes things exist in the visible realm. It provides the truth when knowledge is received, giving power to the one that knows with an idea of the good (508-509). The Form of Good is the final goal of knowledge. It contains knowledge, truth, and a mind that understands, and exists in the intelligible realm (508e). The sun example reveals the two realms of the visible and intelligible and now Socrates expands the idea with the discussion of the line (509d).

2. The Line – In this example, Socrates imagines a line cut in two unequal segments, one that represents the visible and one the intelligible realm (509e). On the visible segment, images are placed on these segments moving from relative obscurity to relative clarity. The images began with shadows, the appearances within water, then smooth bright things, and then moves up the likenesses of life and artifacts known to humans. This illustrates the ability of man to both hold opinion and knowledge; the opinion is a likeness while knowledge IS the likeness (510a).

Next, Socrates divides the intelligible segment, and cuts it into two parts; in one part of it is to be place a soul, using as images that things that were previously imitated that has compelled investigation to how it will end (basis of hypothesis).  “When a soul investigates it is compelled to use hypotheses, and does not go to a beginning because it is unable to step out above the hypotheses”[6] (511a). The images they are given make the hypothesis possibilities clear.

On the other segment that is intelligible without images, is placed the form themselves to determine how it began (free from hypothesis) (509b). This analysis uses steppingstones and springboards to reach the idea that is “free from hypothesis at the beginning of the whole”[7] (511a).

With these two intelligible segments, the argument uses the forms revealed in this process to find make the beginning to the ending truthfully revealed without hypothesis. Going from forms to forms reveals forms in the end (511b).

Four Affectations Arising in the Soul

When these segments are examined in relationship, we find the four affectations arising in the soul (511d):


1. Intellection

2. Thought

3. Trust

4. Imagination

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 168.

[2] Ibid., 179.

[3] Ibid., 182.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 189.

[6] Ibid., 191.

[7] Ibid.

7. Book VII

Book VII

The Cave - Introduction

 Socrates creates a visualization of education and its effects on the soul; the difference between reality and its reflections in the “Allegory of the Cave” records and measures the nature and want of education (514a). This comes after the teaching of the nature of illumination in Book VI (507d-509c) through the sun as a metaphor. This metaphor becomes the brilliance that sends rays of light into the cave and creates the shadows, as Socrates leads the discussion of education into the deeper realms of philosophic thought, and then into the light of reality that allows examination of the public education system even in modern day.

This metaphor begins with a group of captive students that have lived in a deep cave all of their lives.  It is dark; the students have never seen sunlight.  They are bound and prevented from moving their heads in either direction; they can only stare straight ahead.  There is a fire behind them, and a shelf wall with statues that are manipulated by others hidden from the student.  The students watch as the shadows move across the wall they look upon.  They think of these shadows as reality, since it is all they have ever seen.

When the imprisoned student is freed from the bonds and able to look about, his eyes are blinded temporarily by the firelight, and he feels the pain of light briefly. When his eyes are able to focus, he see the shadows are merely a reflection of an image that is much clearer behind the bound students.  He thinks that the fire and statues are real things in the world, far superior to the shadows that he first watched.

The freed student is unaware of the world beyond the cave until he is dragged from his cave into the brilliant light of the sun.  His eyes once again feel the pain of illumination, and it takes a bit, but he eventually recognizes the real objects separate their shadows and reflections.

After a while the student becomes aware that the sun shines and illuminates reality.  At some point the enlightened student recognizes that there is still something he cannot see that is behind the brilliant sun, the place of First Cause.


Plato assumes that the world revealed by human senses is merely a shadow, a copy, of reality.  The reality is only able to be found through the intellectual pursuit of the student.  However, knowledge cannot be inserted into the students’ souls or make their blind eyes see from teachers with the common forms of instruction in public schools today (518c). Rather, students must recognize that their souls hold the power to turn toward the light, leave the darkened cave, and receive knowledge of illuminated reality (518c).

The metaphor for education, true education, is walking into the light.  Ideally, teachers must direct students’ attention to reality by acclimating their entire bodies and souls together, to turn toward the brightest parts of the cave, help them release the bonds that hold their attention to the wrong things, and guide them toward their individual journeys of enlightenment (518c). Thus, the turning around of the student should be the priority of the public educators rather than the force feeding of shadowed ideas; sadly, it is not (518d).

Bonds hold the students snuggly, preventing them from turning around and seeing the entrance of the cave, and past that, the enlightened world illuminated by the sun, and past that, the Good.   Ample rewards keep the heads unturned and the classrooms of kids easily manipulated to succeed on shadow analysis quizzes with the correct answers force-fed them routinely.


The puppet-handlers entertain the captive students with shadow pictures. Puppet-handlers choose their puppets according to these goals; scientific inquiry advances the ability for puppet-handlers to present the shadows in ways that are beneficial to control the captive prisoners. Of course, teachers in the public education system have received their training from the puppet masters and present a united front in the regurgitation of shadow training according to government order and principles.


These shadows do not contain music, classic studies, gymnastics, or the things about God, subjects of old that sought the Good and the True. Instead, they are bits and bytes of information are far-removed from the intellectual pursuits of enlightened minds, always based upon the shadow rather than the real.


The light shines outside the cave; it reveals the true nature of things that create the shadows observed by the shackled in the darkened cave.  The light from the sun shines upon reality. It gives the few escapees from the cave a true knowledge that opens the potential for learning greater things as the students’ eyes adjust and students’ minds absorb reality that moves from merely “being” to fully “understanding” the nature of things.

The wise must be compelled to rule.  Herein lays the dilemma as those that are once delivered from darkness seldom desire to return to the mockery of the ignorant.  Students of the light learn the real truth of life and liberty. Should their potential reach past the illumination of the sun, they come to the First Cause, The Good, the fullness of Truth, and into the realm of the Creator of all reality that sets people free to learn more about Him and ultimately exist in harmony together in the City of God (519d, e, 520a).

The Philosopher/King knows the Form of Good through the focused, specific education, and has understanding and wisdom from that knowledge.

Goal of Education

The Philosopher/King must be educated in the Form of the Good with the instruction that emulates the cave example.  He must be able to look past the shadows, turn around freely, see the puppeteers, recognize the dimmer light of the fire, leave the cave and bask in the sunlight with enlightenment that is possible, while being aware that there is a greater something behind the sun and that is the First Cause.

Socrates has just concluded the logos forming the just city.  When asked if this just city were possible, and how it would be formed in reality, Socrates suggests banishing everyone from the town over ten-years-old and start educating the children according to their conclusion of the allegory of the cave. (541a)

Christian Application




Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968)

8. Book VIII


Socrates returns to the discussion of the five regimes that is worthy to discover which are best and worst, and which man can find the most happiness or wretchedness.  The first regime for the just city and just soul involves the Philosopher/King rule spoken in several chapters back.  Now, he begins discussion on the unjust governments (544a). 

Five Regimes (545c)

1. Kingship (one man)/Aristocracy (more than one) – Exceptional man rises among rulers (445d) (Just City and Just Soul)

2. Timocracy – Seeks honor, rather than wisdom and justice.  The timocratic man uses his spirited part of his soul to find power. He will be more stubborn, love music less, a lover of hearing, and unskilled at oration.  He would be a brutal slave order, but obedient to rulers.  He love everything connected with war, gymnastics and the hunt (549a). His soul is between the soul’s reason and spirit.

3. Oligarchy comes from Timocracy with a focus upon wealth rather than honor that is founded upon property assessment (550c)  Men will sell all they own, and others will buy it, splitting the city into two, the wealthy and the poor without trade skills or means (552a). Socrates asserts that men arrive at this place through a “want of education, bad rearing, and a bad arrangement of the regime”[1] (552e). The transfer from Timocracy to Oligarchy takes place in situations when the son witnesses his father lose his wealth and forces the family to be impoverished, stirring the son to give up honor in search of wealth with greedy money-making attempts (553c). The appetitive part of his soul is activated in seeking wealth, and lies between the spirited and appetitive parts (553d).

4. Democracy evolves when poor win the battle with the wealthy money-makers, kill and cast out some of them, and share the regime and the ruling offices on an equal basis by lot (557a). The regime appears to be the fairest of all regimes, though its rulers will be ill-equipped for the job and probably untrained. It is the regime that contains the greatest number of dispositions from many-colored men that are free(561d).The democratic man organizes his life as it pleases him and enjoys unnecessary desires of the body allowing the appetitive part of his soul to rule without shame or self-discipline (558d-559d).

5. Tyranny comes from democracy when the need for freedom exceeds natural laws (such as parent honor) when the freedom is limited by democracy (562b-c). Anything done to extreme provokes the opposite response; therefore, extreme freedom seeking produces savage slavery of the citizens (564a). The most courageous men lead, the less courageous follow. (364b). The three classes, the drones, those naturally organized and wealthy, and those craftsman with no interest in politics, fight against each other at the drones direction through deceit(564d-569b). The poor revolt, and the tyrant takes rule when the poor people triumph and kills all the good people in the city. Then the rest are enslaved to support his need for an extravagant life.

Three Simple Regimes[2]

1. Rule of the One (Monarchy) (Claim = Wisdom) (Corrupt = Tyranny) (Soul – Rational) (Church – Catholic, Episcopal) – We can choose a king-like person, and invest one of us with all power. Good form is one person Monarch who would rule for the benefit of everybody, with the common wealth in view. 

2. Rule of the Few (Aristocracy) (Claim = Virtue) (Corrupt = Oligarchy) (Soul – Spirited) (Church - Presbyterianism) – We can decide to share power with a few that would direct government upon us. The Greek word Aristos means “the best” and “cracy” means “rule;” Aristocracy is the rule of the best, chosen out from the group that seem the most prudent, capable, skillful, etc. based upon those titles to rule that we talked about earlier. 

3. Rule of Many (Polity) (Claim = Liberty) (Corrupt = Democracy) (Soul – Appetitive) (Church – Baptists, Congregationalists) – All of us would share in the decision-making of the body.  We’re a small group and we would have positive expectations that votes can decide issues.  If we all decided to maintain our personal sovereignty and surrender that to the community is called Polity (many).  That is the good form of the rule of the many. It is the rule of all of us for all.

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 230.

[2] Warren Gage, Plato and Augustine Cc502d-Sp_1 Lecture Videos (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Knox Theological Seminary, 2013), 1.7.

9. Book IX


 Socrates begins this book with the discussion of the tyrannical man that has transformed out of the democratic man (571a). The democratic man with lusts in his occasional dreams becomes tyrannical when those dreams are transformed permanently in his waking state (572). He is ruled by his desires that are lawless, formed through his hatred of his father’s democratic stinginess and other men exercising excessive freedom toward erotic love. The erotic love makes the man a drone, removing shame, and becoming his focus.  He lives for celebrations, girlfriends, and feasts.  When his money runs out, to calm his erotic lusts, he steals, and finally commits murder. He desperately seeks to pleasure his lusts, driving him mad, and into anarchy and lawlessness. In the end, the tyrant ends up fearing everyone that he has enslaved, robbed and hurt.

The tyrant, the most unjust man, is the most unhappy man.  The Aristocrat, the most just man, is the happiest.  This means that justness is important for happiness (583a).

Socrates ends by acknowledging that the just city does not exist anywhere on earth. “But in heaven,” I said, “perhaps, a pattern is laid up for the man who wants to see and found a city within himself on the basis of what he sees. “[1]

Christian Application


[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 275.

10. Book X


Socrates begins discussing the problem with poets that lead many souls astray because they create an imitation of the truth (595b; 597c-598c). He states that if they did have knowledge they would be different people than they are.  Since the poet has no knowledge, he is unable to teach virtue (599c-601a).

Poets corrupt decent men and cause the formation of a bad regime in the soul by gratifying the soul’s foolish part, which is unable to distinguish big ideas from littler ones (605b). Though it makes Socrates a little bit sad for its loss, imitative poetry prevents the immortal soul from growing to it greatest potential and receive it greatest reward (608c-d)

Socrates then declares the immortal soul’s existence with the argument that pronounced its evils as ignorance and injustice that are unable to destroy it (609b).

In conclusion, Socrates has proven that the just man seems to be unjust, and the unjust seems to be just. Amazingly, Socrates admits that this does not escape the notice of the gods (612e). He also points out that everything that comes to the man that is dear to the gods is the best possible, “except for any necessary evil that was due to him for former mistakes?”[1] (613a). There are rewards for the just man, and punishments for the unjust.

Socrates speaks of his confidence in justice by telling the story of Er, son of Armenius that died in war but remained undecayed.  On the twelth day as they prepared to burn his body, he came back to life on the pyre and accounted what he saw.  The myth speaks of the rewards and punishments in the afterlife for 1000 years, then brought together to choose either an animal or human life to live in the next cycle. He presents a rational cosmic order to each individual’s fate that corresponds to their just virtues or their unjust sins.[2]  But, if philosophy has not been included with the justness, the journey is without benefit; only those that are philosophical while alive will choose correctly.  All others will bounce from happiness to sadness with every cycle of life and death that comes. Socrates concludes that man can obtain self-sufficient happiness through the practice of moderation and harmonization of the different segments of the soul, and thus, live eternally, as permitted by the gods.

Christian Application

[1] Plato, The Republic of Plato - Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay by Allan Bloom, trans., Allan Bloom, Second ed. (Basic Books, 1968), 296.

[2] Ibid., 436.