Plato, The, And The Myth Of Er

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In 399 BCE, nineteen years before Plato transcribed Republic, classical Greek philosopher Socrates was formally put on trial and executed on the citation of two “impious” acts: having “failed to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges” and “introducing new deities.” These two recognized accusations, and the punishment that Socrates paid for them through a poisonous hemlock-based liquid, was witnessed by his student, Plato. Plato was inspired to later write Socratic works and dialogues dedicated to Socrates’ memory and teachings; including his Republic, in which ‘Socrates’ (through defining “justice”) develops a “perfect” city in speech. In this dialogue, the heavy presence of religion may almost be construed as ironic—as much of…show more content…
It’s important that Socrates was walking back from a religious festival at the start of the dialogue, because it helps modern readers better understand religion in contemporary Ancient Greek culture. For the purposes of this essay, the definition of “religion” will be that of the Oxford Dictionary’s, “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” (Oxford). At the time, while Plato was still alive in Ancient Greece (424-348 BCE), religion was used to account for acts of nature that were unexplained. Religion was used to relate to our human nature—it is our nature to ask questions, or to contemplate, and religion offered answers to many of those more difficult questions, questions dealing with our existence, the nature of reality, and the notion of the soul. But beyond these questions, religion (especially at the time) was used in attempts to influence fortune in both this world and beyond. This is why the Ancient Greeks built their temples and made their sacrificial offerings to their gods, and the reason why many who worship modern religions today pray and make effort to form connections with God. For many, religion offers a sense of “spiritual placement” and purpose (Theo), and it created a common bond between people in their poleis;
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