Parallels Between Tyrant and Philosopher in Plato’s Republic

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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  • 1 Birkbeck College, London, UK

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Abstract

The Republic presents the characters of the philosopher and the tyrant as similar. Strongly focused by indiscriminate erotic motivation, both defy convention and lack familiar emotional responses, which make them appear to be mad. This essay argues that Plato put forward these parallels partly in order to defend Socrates from the charge of corrupting the young, partly to present a possible way to overthrow the current regime and partly to show the ineffectiveness of democracy. The very best leaders may look like tyrants; it is only through proper philosophical education that their true natures can be discerned.