Plato: The Miserable Tyrant is the Worst of Souls

Topics: Oligarchy, Soul, Ancient Greece Pages: 4 (1587 words) Published: December 14, 2005
The Miserable Tyrant is the Worst of Souls
Plato's The Republic centers on a simple question: is it better to be just than unjust? In answering this overlying question, Socrates outlines the ideal city and how justice is a virtue of that city. From there, he characterizes justice as a virtue of the soul. It is while he is discussing the soul that Socrates begins to define the different types of souls. Rather than comparing and contrasting each soul, Plato quickly jumps into contrasting the tyrannical soul with the aristocratic soul – the most unjust with the most just. In Book IX of Plato's The Republic, Socrates describes a man in an awful state asserting that the worst of souls is the tyrant. This accurate assertion can be seen through the consideration of not only the tyrant's personal characteristics but also the negative ______ he contributes to the city. In Book VIII of Plato's Republic, the five types of people are presented in parallel to the fives types of regimes. The most inferior of the five regimes is tyranny. Correspondingly, the tyrannical soul is then the most inferior person. Socrates examines the steady decline from one regime to the next, starting with the fall from aristocracy to timocracy when factions arise between auxiliaries and guardians. This decline comes because of injustice and the spirit of the auxiliaries not abiding by the edicts of reason. Further decline due to an excess of desire and the degradation of spirit ultimately leads to tyranny. This is the most wretched of all the regimes as the tyrant is the most wretched of souls. Book IX of The Republic begins with a story of two young men whose lives take opposite paths. The first is raised in a home more Spartan than Athenian, born to a parsimonious father who honors the "money-making desires while despising the ones that aren't necessary but exist for the sake of play and showing off" (572c). The son rebels against his austere upbringing, and revels in the...
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