The Pros of Plato

Throughout Time: the Republic by Plato, part 2
How obtained: free kindle version (Amazon, Project Gutenberg)

As well as the little quips between characters in between the arguments, there were a few quotes and concepts that I really liked.

“excessive care of the body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the practice of virtue”

Have you ever had that conversation with a friend about how much muscle is good, and how much is too much? Some people like the look, others think gym bros are vain… I always thought that someone was attractive when muscly when the extent of their muscles were in keeping with what was required of them from their job or regular sports. This quote is like an ancient call out of gym junkies!

“Not long ago, as we shall remind them, the Hellenes were of the opinion, which is still generally received among the barbarians, that the sight of a naked man was ridiculous and improper; and when first the Cretans and then the Lacedaemonians introduced the custom, the wits of that day might equally have ridiculed the innovation. But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye vanished before the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight, but that of folly and vice.”

There is always going to be a shifting in public opinion on what is right and proper, and what is immoral, wrong or just not appropriate. I like this little glimpse into the social change in platos day. I also find it amusing that the tide of opinion has since shifted the whole way back again, and then vacillated at the edge of ‘some skin allowed’- which has varied decade by decade. I have friends who support Canada’s ruling from a year or so ago that women should be allowed to be topless just as much as men, and friend who are shocked and can’t imagine ever going topless in public! Which way will things go in the future?

I love the insight of the following quote, in which the evils against which to watch are named as:

“Wealth… and poverty; the one is the parent of luxury and indolence, and the other of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.”


The other think I liked was that I learnt a lot of new words!

  • Dithyramb– a passionate or inflated speech. More commonly a wild choral hymn of ancient Greece, especially one dedicated to Dionysus.
  • Valetudinarian-a person who is unduly anxious about their health- a hypochondriac
  • Appurtenances-an accessory or other item associated with a particular activity or style of living.
  • Agora– gathering place or assembly
  • Nostrum-a medicine prepared by an unqualified person, especially one that is not considered effective.
  • Exordium– the beginning or introductory part, especially of a discourse or treatise.
  • Hymneal– of or concerning marriage.
  • Repudiating– refuse to accept; reject.
  • Votaries– a devoted follower or a person who has made vows of dedication to religious service
  • Durance– incarceration or imprisonment
  • Peradventure-perhaps
  • Fain– pleased or willing. Compelled or obliged.
  • Dialectic– the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions.
  • Eristic–  characterized by debate or argument.
  • Timocracy– a form of government in which possession of property is required in order to hold office OR a form of government in which rulers are motivated by ambition or love of honour.
  • Oligarchy– a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
  • Adamantine– utterly unyielding or firm in attitude or opinion, too hard to cut, break or pierce, like a diamond in lustre.

I think it is amazing how many words there are for hypochondriacs, and was expecting a rather different definition of ‘hymneal’ (although there is a connection there!) Peradventure and fain are words that I did know, but haven’t seen since some obscure old children’s book I read when a kid- they remind me of ‘the olden days’ and I would love to bring them back into common usage. I find it interesting how timocracy can refer to two different types of government, and in plato he used two different terms for them.

And finally, I have decided that rather than aspiring to be titanium, like in the song by David Guetta/Sia, that I will be Adamantine!


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