The Republic is where Plato lays down his ideas of an ideal state and its rulers. Plato’s Utopian state is one which is just and his ideal rulers are philosophers. Presented as a series of dialogue between Socrates and Plato’s brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon, in eleven parts Plato step by step forms his ideal state (Part I and II), its rulers (Part IV and Part VII), their education, women’s position (Part VI) and the position of art and poetry (Part X) in the new state. Although some of his views are far-fetched and absurd, many of them are thought-provoking. And if you examine carefully, you will see some truth in many of his viewpoints, especially those relating to imperfect societies (discussed in Part IX).
I truly enjoyed Plato’s arguments although I cannot say that I agree with them all. There are many insightful views though at the same time, given the long years between the time in which it was written and which it was read, some of the arguments are absurd according to modern standards. Plato’s Utopian state is one that cannot be realized in reality; even Plato had his doubts about it ever being in existence. But on close examination of various governments in the world, we see instances where views of Plato have been adopted. Taking all these into account, it is no wonder that The Republic is regarded as the cornerstone of western philosophy.
The translation I read was done by Sir Desmond Lee. I found it easy to read. There were many explanatory notes within that which helped me considerably if not fully to understand the text. Overall, I loved the read and am very happy to say that finally one of my long reading wishes is fulfilled.