Plato's Republic

by Plato

Start Free Trial

What similarities exist between Plato's class system in Republic and the Indian caste system?

Quick answer:

Similarities between the class system in Plato's Republic and the Indian caste system include a social hierarchy in which people are organized into groups of descending power. In both systems, a ruling class is followed by a military caste and then by farmers, artisans, merchants, and workers.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Plato's class system into the Republic is split into three groups: the guardians, the auxiliaries, and the workers, which includes farmers and craftsmen. The three groups are arranged in a strict hierarchy. The guardians, or rulers, have the most power, followed by the auxiliaries or soldiers, and then by the great mass of people, the workers. Even though the three classes are distinct and the workers are on the lowest rung, all the classes are honorable.

The Indian caste is similar in that all people in the society are divided into distinct classes or castes. These classes are, as in Plato's Republic, strictly hierarchical. At the top is the Brahmin caste. As with the guardians, members of this caste are supposed to be particularly wise and mature in order to run society. The next caste, as in the Republic, is the military class, called the Kshatriyas. The third caste down is the Vaishyas, or farming and merchant class, similar to the worker class in the Republic. Below that, the people were organized into three more castes. Even the lowest class, the Dalits, were supposed to be treated with dignity.

While the rigid class system experiment in the Republic was never enacted, real-world examples of such strict hierarchies do not normally produce the justice that Plato hoped his utopia might achieve.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial