The guardians are those special individuals who, in Plato's ideal republic, will be the ones in charge. Dominated by the rational part of the soul and steeped in an extensive knowledge of philosophy and mathematics, they will provide society with its political and moral leadership.
The guardians are not simply suited to their exalted positions by nature; they must be educated in the appropriate manner. And as one can imagine, this is a long, hard, and demanding process. First and foremost, education involves the shaping of the soul. In practical terms, this means that the soul of the guardian-to-be must only be allowed to consume that which conduces to its general health (i.e., that which is rational and moral). For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to teach stories about the gods but only if they present the gods in a positive light—not as the capricious, amoral tyrants that Homer portrays them to be.
To some extent, there is no appreciable difference between the prescribed...
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