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THE Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of the Laws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearer approaches to modern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist. The Politicus or Statesman is more ideal; the form and institutions of the State are more clearly drawn out in the Laws; as works of art, the Symposium and the Protagoras are of higher excellence. But no other Dialogue of Plato has the same largeness of view and the same perfection of style; no other shows an equal knowledge of the world, or contains more of those thoughts which are new as well as old, and not of one age only but of all. Nowhere in Plato is there a deeper irony or a greater wealth of humour or imagery, or more dramatic power. Nor in any other of his writings is the attempt made to interweave life and speculation, or to connect the State with philosophy. Neither must we forget that the Republic is but the third part of a still larger work which was to have included an ideal history of Athens, as well as a political and physical philosophy. Again, Plato may be regarded as the 'captain' (ȧpxnyòs) or leader of a goodly band of followers; for in the Republic is to be found the original of Cicero's De Republica, of St. Augustine's City of God, of the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, and of the numerous other imaginary States which are framed upon the same model. The Republic of Plato is also the first treatise upon education, of which the writings of Milton and Locke, Rousseau, Jean Paul, and Goethe are the legitimate descendants. Like Dante or Bunyan, he has a revelation of another world; in the early Church he exercised a real influence on theology, and at the Revival of Literature on politics. Even the fragments of his words when 'repeated at second hand' (Sym. 215 D), have in all ages ravished the hearts of men, who have seen reflected in them their own higher nature. sophy, in politics, in literature. modern thinkers and statesmen,
He is the father of idealism in philoAnd many of the latest conceptions of such as the unity of knowledge, the
reign of law, and the equality of the sexes, have been dream by him.
The argument of the Republic is the search after J of which is first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blan then discussed on the basis of proverbial morality by So marchus-then caricatured by Thrasymachus and parti Socrates-reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and having become invisible in the individual reappears at le State which is constructed by Socrates. The State intro of education, of which the first outline is drawn after model, providing only for an improved religion and mo simplicity in music and gymnastic, and greater harmony and the State. But this leads to the conception of a which 'no man calls anything his own,' and in which 'marrying nor giving in marriage,' and 'kings are ph 'philosophers are kings;' and there is another and highe tellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as we not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State degenerate, and is hardly to be realized in this world. T of poetry and philosophy which has been more lightly earlier books of the Republic is then fought out to the discovered to be an imitation thrice removed from the tru as well as the dramatic poets, having been condemned is sent into banishment along with them. And the idea supplemented by the revelation of a future life.
The division into books, like all similar divisions1, is than the age of Plato. The natural divisions are five in Book I and the first half of Book II down to p. 368, v ductory; the first book containing a refutation of the sophistical notions of justice, and concluding, like some Dialogues, without arriving at a definite conclusion. To th a restatement of the nature of justice according to com and an answer is demanded to the question-What is ju of appearances? The second division (2) includes the rem second and the whole of the third and fourth books, whic occupied with the construction of the first State and the fir
The third division (3) consists of the fifth, sixth, and seventh books, in which philosophy rather than justice is the subject of enquiry, and the second State is constructed on principles of communism and ruled by philosophers, and the contemplation of the idea of good takes the place of the social and political virtues. In the eighth and ninth books (4) the perversions of States and the individuals which correspond to them are reviewed in succession; and the nature of pleasure and the principle of tyranny are further analysed in the individual character. The tenth book (5) is the conclusion of the whole, in which the relations of philosophy to poetry are finally determined, and the happiness of the citizens in this life, which has now been assured, is crowned by the vision of another.
Or a more general division into two parts may be adopted; the first (Books I-IV) containing the description of a State framed generally in accordance with Hellenic notions of religion and morality, while in the second (Books V-X) the Hellenic State is transformed into an ideal kingdom of philosophy, of which all other governments are the perversions. These two points of view are really opposed, and the opposition is only veiled by the genius of Plato. The Republic, like the Phaedrus (see vol. i. p. 85 foll.), is an imperfect whole; the higher light of philosophy breaks through the regularity of the Hellenic temple, which at last fades away into the heavens (592 B). Whether this imperfection of structure arises from an enlargement of the plan; or from the imperfect reconcilement in the writer's own mind of the struggling elements of thought which are now first brought together by him; or, perhaps, from the composition of the work at different times-are questions, like the similar question about the Iliad and the Odyssee, which are worth asking, but which cannot have a distinct answer. In the age of Plato there was no regular mode of publication, and an author would have the less scruple in altering or adding to a work which was known only to a few of his friends. There is no absurdity in supposing that he may have laid his labours aside for a time, or turned from one work to another; and such interruptions would be more likely to occur in the case of a long than of a short writing. In all attempts to determine the chronological order of the Platonic writings on internal evidence, this uncertainty about any single Dialogue being composed at one time is a disturbing element, which must be admitted to affect longer works, such as the Republic and the Laws, more than shorter ones. But, on the other hand,