Book 3 Notes from The Republic

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The Republic Book 3

Having established the respect people will have from childhood for the gods and their parents, the source of bravery must next be established. In order to be brave, people must not be afraid of death. Thus, writings about the afterlife must also be supervised and censored, and strong people must not mourn the dead in poetry as this shows weakness. Also, violent laughter should be discouraged, and scenes that show worthy people overcome with laughter should be censored, as should any scenes showing people lying. Furthermore, any citizen caught lying in the city will be punished for introducing a deadly practice that can destroy the city. However, rulers may lie on account of enemies or citizens to benefit the state. Beyond this, the young must be temperate, and thus obedient to rulers, and rule themselves with respect to food, drink and sex. Therefore, poets like Homer, who depicts the gods as weak, with no restraint over their own bodies, sleeping with each others' wives, must be censored; so must any other poetry depicted gods incorrectly.

As for the method of storytelling, the philosophers come to the conclusion that no storyteller must ever imitate the people or objects about whom he is telling the story. This is because people will only imitate things that are better than they, and if somebody imitates something else, it means that he is worth less than that other thing, thus decreasing his self-worth. Furthermore, since everybody is only truly good at one thing, the storyteller cannot imitate the people the way they truly are, as they are experts in their field and he is not. For this reason, even though it is less entertaining, it is prohibited to imitate anything when storytelling. Storytellers must be austere and cheerless, yet they will be beneficial.

Now the men study the lyrics of poetry. Since lyrics consist of three things, words, melody and rhythm, each one is considered separately. The modes to be used are quickly established as two: that of a brave man and that of a man in peaceful voluntary activities. In this manner, only modes useful to warriors are used. Thus, only two instruments, the lyre and the zither, are needed. As for rhythm, only gracefulness is allowed, as it attends good rhythm. This means that awkwardness is bad, and therefore should not be allowed in any crafts in the city. Thus, all craftsmen should only produce beautiful, graceful pieces of work. Since all the guardians will learn poetry, and since all poetry will be beautiful and good, they will be able to recognize poorly-made works. However, the guardians will never be musical until they have harmony in their souls. Thus, since they have harmonious, beautiful souls, they will never love anybody who does not have a harmonious soul. However, since excessive pleasure is just as bad as excessive pain, and sex is the ultimate in pleasure, it must be forbidden that "no serious friendship should give even the appearance of going beyond that, to avoid reproaches of lack of education and taste." Book 3, pg. 73, line 403c

After poetry, the guardians must be trained physically. With the belief that the good soul makes the body as good as it can be in mind, the discussion presents that the guardians must not get drunk and must have a simple diet, consisting of roast meat, and no sweets. Thus, it is put that "variety in poetry breeds self-indulgence; in gymnastics, disease: simplicity there puts temperance in the soul; here it puts health in the body." Book 3, pg. 74, line 404e

As for judges, they must be healthy and old. The reasons for this are that if they are healthy, then they must have good souls. However, if they have good souls, they must be old to be wise. This is because having a good soul means that a person does little evil. Thus, in order to become acquainted with evil and injustice, they must have been exposed to it. Because of this, the older a person is, the more injustice he has been exposed to, and the wiser he is.

To choose the ruler of the city, men must choose among the best people in the city: the guardians. Next, it must be decided which guardians should rule and which should be ruled. The first step is to say that the older should rule the younger, as they are wiser, and that the rulers must be the best of the guardians. Also, people protect things they love better than those that they don't love; therefore, the guardian must love the city. In order for him to love the city, the needs of the city must coincide with his own needs. Therefore, the lives of the guardians must be examined, and those who have shown that they do what is advantageous for the city, and who refuse to do anything harmful, must be considered. Thus, throughout their lives, they must be set difficult tasks to measure their loyalty.

In order to make the citizens care about each other even more, Socrates proposes telling them an old Phoenician lie: that all their training and upbringing was a dream, and that when the gods formed them at birth, he mixed gold into the guardians, silver into the auxiliaries, and iron and bronze into the farmers and craftsmen. However, they are all brothers, and their offspring need not be of the same metal as them. When they do find out what metal is in the soul of their offspring, they must demote or promote him or her accordingly. In this manner, their concern for the city and each other will increase.

However, in order to prevent jealousy among the citizens, there will be no private property beyond the bare necessities. Nobody will have a house or treasure that isn't open to all. Citizens will have a common life and eat in a common place. They will be told that because of the divine metals in their souls, they have no human needs. It will be forbidden to touch or handle silver or gold. If they ever possess houses, money or land, they will become farmers and enemies to the rest of the citizens, and they will remain hated.

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