The modern self as we understand it today was unknown to the ancient Greeks. For Plato, as with all his fellow Athenians, individuals were defined by the role they played in the wider community. In political terms, this meant that citizens of the Athenian polis were inextricably linked to the state; there was no real separation between the two. For free male citizens of Athens, there were numerous opportunities for involvement in this direct democracy. It was a citizen jury, for example, that presided over the trial and sentencing of Plato's mentor, Socrates.
In his own ideal state, Plato takes the identity of citizen and state a step further. In modern terms, Plato's utopia can seem disturbingly similar to a totalitarian system. However, such an assessment would be anachronistic. Plato is concerned with human freedom, but his conception of freedom is out of step with more modern notions.
As far as Plato is concerned, the state can only function properly if every group in society carries...
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 744 words.)