Plato's Republic by Plato

Start Your Free Trial

Download Plato's Republic Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the Republic as a whole and your ability to analyze important themes, concepts, and devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.

  • Topic #1
    Many modern democratic theorists consider Athens in its Golden Age to be a model of democratic practice. Plato, however, is highly critical of his society’s form of government. How does the Republic criticize Athenian democracy? Is Plato’s critique valid?

    I. Thesis Statement: Despite the modern praise of Athens for being a more democratic society than any today, Plato is highly critical of his government. Plato is right / wrong to criticize the democratic practice of ancient Athens.

    II. Description of Athenian Democracy
    A. All male citizens are eligible to participate.
    B. Any citizen can speak in the Assembly.
    C. Offices are filled by lot.

    III. Plato’s Critique
    A. Democracy panders to low desires.
    1. Description of the three elements of the soul
    2. Parallel to Athenian society
    3. Metaphor of the animal trainer
    B. Democracy fosters rule by the ignorant.
    1. Hierarchy of knowledge is established in the simile of the line.
    2. Allegory of the Cave
    C. Exclusion of the best rulers
    1. Society views the “star gazer” as useless.
    2. Society corrupts the young philosopher.

    IV. Plato is right / wrong because:
    A. Knowledge is / is not required for good rule.
    B. Democracy does / does not pander to low desires.
    C. Philosophers would / would not be the best rulers.

  • Topic #2
    Plato’s, and more specifically the Republic’s, role in literature has most often been as a source of allegories. Examine three of Plato’s allegories as recounted by Socrates in the Republic. What lesson is each supposed to teach?

    I. Thesis Statement: Plato’s memorable allegories serve to enable the reader to more clearly understand his philosophy.

    II. Ship of State
    A. Description of the captain, crew, and navigator
    B. Parallel to Athenian society
    C. Lesson: Only the “star gazer” (the philosopher) can properly lead the state. It is foolish to ignore him and assume oneself to be wiser than he.

    III. The Animal Trainer
    A. Description of the animal and its trainer
    B. Parallel to Athenian society
    C. Shortcomings: The trainer never encourages the animal to do what is right, only to follow its tastes.
    D. Lesson: Those who lead society must transcend their assumptions about human nature or risk failing as leaders: the leaders should do what is right, not what is popular.

    IV. The Cave
    A. Description of the Cave, the prisoners, and the escapee
    B. Parallel to Athenian society
    C. Lesson: Only the philosopher has the knowledge. While he may try to enlighten others as to their condition, his knowledge will often be discounted by those whose lives are based on illusion.

  • Topic #3

(The entire section is 709 words.)