Greed In Plato's Republic

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In this section I set out to define the unvirtuous ruler and examine the relationship with this and a tyrant; I to describe the ancient philosophy about greed and the archetypal tyrant, finally I outline how the tyrant typically manipulates a population and I extrapolate this onto the Roman Empire.
i. The Political Spectrum
Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny, the five predominant regimes within the ancient world are described within Plato’s Republic (380 BCE) as he outline the political spectrum. In these, Plato etches his impression of what establishes the ethical and the immoral leader. Primarily, his elucidation of the Aristocratic regime highlights an accord within his ideals. Plato describes the “philosopher king”,
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In the allegory, Plato has Socrates to describe a cave, in which a gathering of people are kept, and indeed have been kept since birth. These people are chained to the cave wall, held – immobile – so that their necks and legs cannot move and that they are, therefore, compelled to look at the wall in front of them. Forms appear on this wall, as the shadows of objects are projected by things passing in front of a fire, behind the prisoners. Understandably, since the convicts have never been exposed to anything else but the shadows, they perceive these as a reality. Indeed, Plato asserts that the names the prisoners used for the flickering images “applied to the things they [the prisoners] see passing before them”. Of course the allegory can be interpreted in countless ways, the most pertinent here is that of human population control. With this in mind, the prisoners chained to the wall may represent the general population; the puppeteers, Plato’s ruling class and the flickering images, the propaganda that they project. Certainly, the ruling class have complete control over what the lower strata’s are exposed to. A. S. Ferguson (1922) suggests that the parable is indicative of how leaders “without a strong philosophical mind-set” manipulate the human population for their advantage. Thus, Plato bypasses Ferguson’s argument when he advocates the “philosopher-king” – the Aristocratic ruler. Surely, a “lawless” tyrant (Plato, 380 BCE) such as Gyges would be whiling to use propaganda in order to regulate the knowledge of a population. Famously, scientia potentia est -“knowledge is power” (Hobbes, 1651) – hence, by restricting the knowledge of a population one is eroding their power and protecting oneself (stated above). Rather ironically, in his description of “The Republic”, Plato describes the “old quarrel between philosophy and poetry”, leading to a total ban on the arts
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