Ideal Characteristics of Plato's Guardians

1386 words 6 pages
Ideal Characteristics of Plato’s Guardians The characterisitics of the ideal guardian is summarized in those words by Socrates in the second book of the Republic : “[H]e who is to be a really good and noble guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength. . .” Swiftness and strength is deemed necessary as the guardian is to be like a well-bred watchdog, who ought to be “quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him, and strong too, if when they have caught him, they have to fight with him.” The requirement of ‘spirit’ is then derived from this, because if he is to fight well he ought to be brave, and Socrates finds that he is not likely to be brave who has not …show more content…

To persons with such qualities, Socrates says, “to these only you will entrust the State.” These qualities he derives in the most part from the prior consideration that they should have a philosophic nature. Indeed in this part, he seems merely intent to determine what the qualities of true philosophers are, and not exactly those who are to be rulers, but of course we know that it is these philosophers whom Socrates finds suitable to be the rulers of their ideal state. Of those who have the quality of truthfulness Socrates says, “they will never intentionally receive into their mind falsehood, which is their detestation, and they will love the truth.” And then of the liberal he says, “there should be no secret corner of illiberality; nothing can be more antagonistic than meanness to a soul which is ever longing after the whole of things both divine and human.” Evidently, this he prescribes so that the guardians will not be hard in their dealings with the people. He adds the requirement of a good memory, so that the things that he has learned he would retain. One who is forgetful will end up merely an “empty vessel”, and as Socrates says, “labouring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation.” And the last quality of having a well-proportioned and gracious mind he requires so