The Allegory Of The Cave, From Book Vii Of Plato's Republic

958 words - 4 pages

The cave, symbolic of the mother's womb, is the source of life and death. In “The Allegory of the Cave”, from Book VII of Plato’s Republic, the theme of the cycle of life and the transition from the unborn to the deceased is representative of the cycle of entry and exit from the cave. If based upon this idea, one can conclude that the chains are symbolic of the umbilical cord. This concept reflects the Greek values of reproduction, humanism, and the anti-hero, because the anti-hero is symbolized by returning to the mother. The value of reproduction is seen in early Spartan civilizations, for both Spartan men and women were held to a very high standard and were expected to give birth to strong sons that would become fierce warriors so as to sustain the strong military tradition of the early Spartan society. The value of humanism is exemplified through Greek philosophy and epics such as the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer. The idea of the anti-hero is also depicted in works such as the Odyssey, for an anti-hero is one who returns to the mother, in this case, the cave.
Although the actual date of composition has not been officially confirmed, The Republic was written by Plato around 411 B.C. (Cook). The Republic is a work largely associated with the values of education, ethics, politics, religion, and sociology (Cook). Many people believe that Plato, who was an ancient Greek philosopher and a student of Socrates, is the greatest philosopher of the ancient world. Throughout the history of ancient Greece, Sparta is a profusely militaristic city-state, emphasizing the birth of strong children fit to become warriors. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" may have influenced the early Spartan society, accounting for Sparta's heavy emphasis on raising strong children to continue the military tradition.
The cycle of life is an important concept in literature as well as in daily life. For that reason, reproduction remains an important concept. Plato demonstrates this concept through the character of Socrates. For instance, Socrates explains to Glaucon, "Behold! human beings living in a underground cave…[they] have their legs and necks chained…At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains"(The Republic, The Allegory of the Cave). This quote explains the process of reproduction, which is the beginning of the cycle of life. In this scenario, the pain is relative to the usual crying of a newly born baby immediately following birth. Plato also depicts the idea of the anti-hero. This is observed when Socrates converses with Glaucon. For instance, Socrates says, "I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the...

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