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Meaning of Myth in the Republic

In: Historical Events

Submitted By lutheriv
Words 601
Pages 3
Classics 101
May 3rd, 2013
Myth in The Republic

After railing against myths many of the books of The Republic, Plato ironically chooses to end his masterpiece on justice with a myth. The story concerns the hero Er and what he has seen in the underworld regarding how human souls choose their lot in life. Plato uses this myth as a way to illuminate three main concepts that all relate back to the dialogues. The first is that it is a means to a guiding principle, a story that might frame an individuals understanding. It also proves that not only is justice attainable it is worthy pursuit. Ultimately the myth culminates in a validation of philosophy as the most honorable earthly pursuit.
The myth is a guiding principle, an ever-constant reminder. After nine long books covering a plethora of topics, Plato breaks everything down to a simple story that is able to illuminate the conversation in a succinct way. In a myth, major life questions can be broken down into short, memorable stories. The reason it does this is because the story evokes emotion; the dialogues evoke thought. As a listener of this myth the reader is able to sympathize, pity and rejoice along with the characters of the story. As an reader of the dialogues, the reader is merely a contemplative observer. The emotions reinforce the ideas that are being brought out in the dialogues.
The powerful emotions are brought out in this myth by the very first anecdote. The common man in his rush to pick a favorable fate is overcome by greed and picks a lot that ultimately dooms him to eat his own children. As the man shouts in protest of what he has chosen, we have pity for his situation. He acted in a very human manner, overcome by the desire for power. But we also pity because he would not be much different than most hearing the myth. We begin to fear whether that at our time we might fall into the same...

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