The color-coded boxes under "Analysis & Themes" below (which look like this: ) make it easy to track the themes throughout the work. Each color corresponds to one of the themes explained in the Themes section of this LitChart.
Analysis & Themes
Polemarchus asks Socrates to explain what he meant when he said that wives and children, like the possessions of friends, should be held in common. Glaucon and Thrasymachus support Polemarchus. Socrates concludes that both sexes possess the qualities required to rule. There will be female guardians as well as male, with the same education and duties, including the defense of the city.
Traditional marriages and families encourage emotional ties between individuals. For guardians, the traditional family will be abolished. Guardians of both sexes will live and train together. To avoid immorality men and women will be secretly matched at marriage festivals, by means of a rigged lottery. The matches are designed to produce the best children. The "best" men and women have more opportunities to mate than those who are inferior.
The goal is to maintain the population, so that it neither increases nor decreases. Guardian marriages will be purely for procreation, and children will not know who their parents are. Guardian children will call all other children brothers and sisters, and all adults father and mother. At birth, children are given to nurses, and inferior children exposed to the elements to die. The guardians determine who may have children, and who they may have them with, and when, based on age rules to avoid incest.
When all of the city is "family," and goods are owned equally, there is no discord. When the city's guardians war against outsiders, both men and women fight. Older children will watch from a safe place. Wars will be conducted as civilly as possible against fellow Greeks.
Glaucon asks if this ideal city is even possible? Socrates' answer is yes, but only if "either philosophers become kings in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously" (437c-d). Glaucon asks Socrates to explain what he means by a philosopher. Socrates says a philosopher loves truth, not just the appearance of truth, or the appearance of beauty.
All of existence is divided into three classes. What is completely, what is in no way, and what both is and is not. What is completely, can be completely known. What both is and is not is opinion or conjecture; everything else is ignorance. True philosophers seek the real, unchanging knowledge of truth in the Forms, the ideal abstracts ideas of Truth, Beauty and Justice, and other concepts, which we experience only in pale copies of the ideal Form. The philosopher alone has knowledge of the Idea of Absolute Beauty, or the Idea of Absolute Truth, that is, the Forms.
Forms are a key concept in Plato. The idea is that beyond the individual instances of beauty or the individual instances of sweet, is an ideal abstract form of the perfect beauty, the Idea of Beauty, and the perfectly sweet, the Idea of Sweet. Only philosophers understand the Forms. Others either exist in ignorance, or are dealing with physical subjective data, leading to opinion and conjecture, not knowledge.
More help on this section...
• See quotes from Book 5