The Oligarchic Regime In Plato's The Republic

1096 Words 5 Pages
In the Republic, Plato spends much of the book discussing an aristocracy and its superiority as a political regime. Plato believes that the ruler of the city should be a philosopher who goes through a strict and demanding education system; applying his “myth of the metals,” the ideal king must have a gold as opposed to silver, bronze, or iron. Those possessing a silver soul are the guardians of the city, and those with souls of bronze or iron form the majority. Plato digresses from his portrayal of a virtuous ruler to examine the degenerate regimes stemming from aristocracy. As is everything else, Plato describes political regimes as capable of deteriorating. The perfect form of government can eventually decay into a much worse form. Plato …show more content…
The oligarchy transpires when the distasteful characteristics of a timocracy become more prevalent than the virtuous aspects. Because timocrats are also interested in material wealth along with virtue, the pleasure they gain from their material property will begin to overshadow the society’s virtues; laws will be adjusted to meet the material desire of the citizens. A timocracy officially becomes an oligarchy when the law is changed to limit political power to the rich. An oligarchy is naturally a society divided into the rich and the poor. Plato describes an oligarchy as being a much more problematic regime than a timocracy; the leaders will not be virtuous thinkers, but the inept rich: “when wealth and the wealthy are valued or honored in a city, virtue and good people are valued less” (550 e). Such as the timocratical man is the son of an aristocrat, the oligarch is the son of the timocrat. He begins as being ambitious and spirited, but after seeing the problems arising from his father’s timocratical spirit, his desire for honour disappears and he longs for money and power: “the son sees all this, suffers from it, loses his property, and, fearing for his life, immediately drives from the throne in his own soul the honour-loving and spirited part that ruled there” (553 …show more content…
The inferior lifestyle of the poor cause them to become angry; the threat of a rebelling against their conditions causes fragility and instability in the oligarchic regime. A democracy is established should a revolution occur in which the poor overthrow the rich; the latter would be forced out of the state and the political power would be shared between those remaining. For the oligarchic society, material wealth is the supreme good, but when the poor determines that freedom is the supreme good, the regime becomes democratic in nature. In a democratic society, the poor become superior and the lower class grows. Plato criticizes democracy because it lacks order and discipline. Citizens are free to do whatever they want and live however they wish; “and where people have this license, it’s clear that each of them will arrange his own life in whatever manner pleases him” (557 b). The oligarchic man is the father of a democrat. Unlike oligarch who seeks to attain his most urgent necessities which he needs to survive, the democrat longs to fulfill unnecessary

Related Documents

Related Topics