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Spiritedness Incarnate and the Unity of the Soul in Plato’S Republic

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

Readers of Plato’s Republic are familiar with Glaucon and his role in prodding Socrates to strengthen his argument throughout the dialogue. It has been asserted on more than one occasion that Glaucon epitomizes the quality of spiritedness, and thus throughout the dialogue he is patiently guided by the taming hand of Socrates to a fuller awareness of justice and virtue. This paper will argue that Glaucon, as ‘Spiritedness Incarnate’ (Strauss), provides needed insight and important encouragement that strengthens Socrates’ (and thus Plato’s) positions in a way that doesmore than simply ask those questions that enable the philosopher’s efforts to share his own wisdom. Rather, Glaucon, as Socrates’ younger companion, serves a role vital to the Republic’s overall achievement in several ways. Above all, the relationship between Socrates, Glaucon and the other participants of the dialogue (even Thrasymachus) together reflect the unity of the soul as the many become one.


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