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.

(The entire section is 709 words.)