Title: Republic

Author: Plato

Translator: Fouad Rouhani

Publisher: Scientific and Cultural

Subject: Political science, utopia

Age category: Adult

Cover: Paperback

Number of pages: 648 p

Language: Farsi



Republic is the great philosophical work of Plato, which is one of the most famous and influential classical texts of political philosophy in the West. The book contains 10 plays in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and others, and deals with issues such as justice, the type of government and truth.

Book Summary Republic

The debate takes place in a house near the Piraeus Gate in Athens. The landlord is a rich and aristocratic old man named Cephalus. In addition to Socrates, Polmararchus, son of Cephalus, Glaucus and Adimanthus, brothers of Plato, and Trasimachus, a sophist, are also present.

The Republic begins with the description of Cephalus from old age. He says that in old age man is freed from the excitement of youth and is like a slave freed from lust. The mental state of everyone in old age depends on how they have spent their lives.

Man reviews his life in old age. If he has lived a bad life and done cruel things, he will be disturbed; But he who does not find an oppressive act in his past, finds his peace and becomes his hope. Of course, if one is financially able in old age, one lives easier and better.

Socrates asks Cephalus, “What is the greatest joy and goodness that has come to you from wealth?”

Cephalus says that wealth is more than good because it makes him generous and honorable and just. Wealth prevents a person from doing something unjust or indebted to another, but “neither the wise man can easily bear the suffering of old age if he is poor, nor the foolish one who finds peace even if he is rich.” So only the just and righteous people will benefit from the wealth they have accumulated.

Socrates asks Cephalus what he means by justice, and thus the debate takes a philosophical direction. Cephalus defines justice as “honesty and the return of another’s property,” and Socrates says that if one takes money from someone in good health and returns it to him in a state of insanity; Has he acted fairly? Cephalus accepts the objection and withdraws from the argument, leaving it to his son Polmarchos to inherit the father in the argument, according to Socrates’s satire.

“Justice is to give a man the religion he owes to anyone,” Polmarchos first quotes the poet Simonides as saying. This definition is the same as the previous one. After several criticisms and adjustments, Polmarchos says, “Justice is to do good to friends and bad to enemies.” Socrates says, “It is not right to do harm to anyone, whether friend or foe; “This is the work of the oppressors.”

Finally Trasimachus impatiently: “He could not refrain, at once as a beast of prey attacked us, as if trying to tear us apart… and shouting… I am not ready to hear nonsense.”


Trasimachus continues: “Socrates, what madness has befallen you, and why, in this foolish way, do you bury other idiots one after another?” If you really claim to know the meaning of justice, do not be satisfied with just asking questions of others and do not be proud of violating and rejecting the answers you give; “Because there are many who can ask but are not able to answer themselves.”

Socrates, however, goes on to ask questions until he finally forces Thrasymachus to define justice: It is beneficial for the government of that country, and because power is in the hands of the government in all countries, so if you look closely, you will see that justice everywhere is just one thing: something that is beneficial to the strong. I say that right is in power and justice is a stronger interest.

What I mean by oppression or injustice is its broad meaning, and my meaning is quite clear in the consideration of an absolute ruler who takes all the property of the people by cunning and power. Now, if such a person, after taking the property of the people, makes them his slaves instead of calling him a cheater and a thief; They call him happy and prosperous. Because those who speak ill of oppression are afraid of enduring it; “Not that they are afraid to do it themselves.”
Tracimachus says that the ratio of subordinates to the ruler is like the ratio of a shepherd to a sheep. The shepherd serves the sheep because he wants to benefit from it in time. Socrates says that the shepherd, because he is a shepherd, considers nothing but the interests of the herd, and the ruler, since he is the real ruler, should consider nothing in the administration of the country except the interests of those under his rule.

No technique, in terms of the particular work of the same art, benefits the owner of the art, but we must combine that work with another work, that is, the acquisition of property, which is common to all techniques: Which of them is obtained and each of them is called a work, art or art because of that; “And the art of making money, in which all the arts and crafts are common, made a difference.” The result is the art of health physician, and the result of the art of building architecture, and the result of the art of governing, serving the people.


Therefore, the righteous person does not easily accept the government, because he is neither ambitious, nor a sewn-on bag, nor a mercenary. So he must be forced to rule; Otherwise, the convict will be worse than himself. The virtuous bear the burden of government only to escape this punishment. In a society made up of noble men, everyone runs away from rule.

The virtue of anything is what it ultimately does right. The virtue is to see the eye and the virtue is to cut the knife, and the virtue of the soul is to think, to be passionate and to rule. The knife does not win well if it is bad, and the soul cannot do its job well if it is bad. Justice is the virtue of the soul and oppression is the corruption of the soul. The just man lives well and is happy, and the oppressor lives badly and is miserable. In the end, Socrates says, “We talked about justice without knowing what justice is.”

The Second Book of the Republic
The second book begins with Glaucon’s words. He quotes the views of the common people on justice and oppression, and is responsible for defending oppression on their behalf. The first says: Everything that people want can be divided into three categories. Some things are of no use to man; But when a person reaches it, he becomes happy. Some things are both beneficial and joyful for human beings; Like health; And some other things are useful to man, but they cause suffering and hardship; Like exercise and medication. Glaucus asks Socrates which of these three categories justice belongs to. Socrates says he is superior to all three.

People say that oppression is good in itself and tolerating oppression in itself is bad; And the evil of enduring oppression is greater than the good of committing oppression. When the people both oppressed and suffered oppression, those who could not oppress and only had to suffer oppression; They passed a law that no one should oppress another and no one should tolerate oppression, and they considered this justice. So justice means moderation; Do not oppress and do not go under oppression. If we set free the oppressor or the just man, we will see that both seek wealth and power and only the law will prevent them from exceeding the limit. Justice is not good in itself and causes suffering and sorrow; So if someone like Goggs found a ring that hid him from the eyes of others, he would lose any incentive to act justly, because he could be assured that he could escape the punishment of any crime, deception or seduction.

On whether a just life is more verifiable, or a life of the oppressor; Glaucon imagines a situation in which everyone considers a just man unjust, tortures him, and beheads him: nothing seems to be said to confirm his life. He then compares this situation with the life of a deceitful and evil human being who, whenever he can escape the punishment of his deeds, arranges the situation in such a way that he is considered a just person, while he is an all-moral and unscrupulous human being. He lives happily ever after, and despite the fact that behind the mask he wears on his face, his true face is mixed with evil, he is considered a model of dignity. According to Glaucon, this suggests that justice is useless, or at least not always helpful.

Here Adimantus says that the poems of poets like Homer, who are considered by the people to be the spokesmen of the gods; It is full of things that encourage man to oppress and speak of the suffering and misery of a just man. What will really affect his soul when a primary school child reads such poems? He says that if they are not gods or are and have nothing to do with us, the life of an oppressor who ruled for a lifetime, and ended his life with joy and happiness, is the best life. But if they are gods
And we have to deal with them in another world; Again in this world the oppressor can do what the representatives of the gods on earth, the poets, have said; Act and save yourself. For example, by sacrificing, giving alms and performing rituals, he can obtain the pleasure of the gods. So anyone can do injustice and then save himself by doing deeds. Adimantus says that it is because of the nourishment of such a culture that the general public, as Glaucon puts it; They prefer oppression to justice.

But why do some people still call justice justice? According to Adimantus, they either have talents that the common people do not have or have reached such a position in the light of knowledge, which is not the work of the common people, or they have “no motive other than cowardice or inability or weakness of old age and condemn oppression because they can not oppress. . “The best reason for this is that as soon as one of them comes to power, they immediately start committing atrocities, and in this way, they do not hesitate to do what they can.”

Adimantus believes that one of the reasons for these misunderstandings is that Socrates and others like him do not pursue justice and oppression and always pay attention to the benefits, goodness and rewards that are achieved in the light of one and destroyed in the light of the other. It is not said what justice and oppression themselves do to the human soul. Therefore, addressing Socrates, he says: “Prove that justice itself is beneficial to the one who benefits from it; “And oppression in itself is harmful.”

How does Socrates, or indeed Plato, respond to this request? He does not face it at first; Rather, he argues that analyzing justice in society is easier than studying it in each individual; And society is the individual on a larger scale. He gives the example that in order to test a person’s vision, he is first forced to read more letters and words, and then his limits are reduced; Just as it is easier for the nearsighted to see the uppercase letters first and then to match them with the lower case letters.

Will Durant writes: “We should not be deceived by Plato; Because these are all introductions to the other two books, and Plato does not want to look only at individual issues; Rather, the government has the desired perfection in Austin. So extortion is forgiven and it is right; “Because the core and importance of the book is to them.”

Socrates, as he puts it, examines society and says that “society is formed because no one alone can provide all our necessities, but we all need each other.” Therefore, human beings live in one place, to meet their needs, and we call it society. Each person takes on and does something according to their own taste and talent. With practice they each acquire skills in their work and: “They always send greetings to God; they limit their offspring to their raw materials because they are afraid of poverty and war; they have salt, olives and cheese for their food, and onions and cabbage.” “They consume, thus living in true health and peace for many years, and inheriting such a life of perfection for their children after death.”


Socrates then discusses why this desired perfection has not been achieved or has not remained. He answers that the reason is the greed of the people and their luxury. Excessive greed causes people to not be content with basic needs and to soon be satisfied with what they have and want what they do not have; So the war breaks out and the need for the Revolutionary Guards becomes apparent. The country’s guards must be like guard dogs; In that the dog attacks a stranger he does not know, even if he loves him; And he does not attack his friend even if he does not love him; And this quality does not fit into one body unless he has a philosophical nature in addition to courage and strength.

Such people must be trained for society; And used the method that has emerged over the years. This is where the description of Plato’s educational program for the Pasdaran begins in the language of Socrates and continues until the third book. The program includes both sports for bodybuilding and spiritual training for soul training; And the training of the soul precedes the training of the body. The training of the soul begins in childhood and is usually accompanied by stories; Therefore, we must be careful not to tell every story to children, choose good stories and put aside bad stories. Bad stories mean the poems of poets like Homer and Hesiod. In Greek mythology, the gods commit many crimes …

Related books

1- Introducing the book  on YouTube

2- Introducing the book  in Aparat


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