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Plato's "Republic"

Explore Plato’s "Republic" more than 2,000 years after its appearance, and discover why it remains astonishingly relevant in its own right.
Plato's Republic is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 58.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Biased and inaccurate at times I was cross checking the original (I know ancient Greek) against dr. Roochnik's lectures. He is off at some of his paragraph references as well as the interpretation of certain keywords, such as αγωγἠ , which means education and not ruling. He is also avoiding the challenging parts, such as what Socrates really meant about egalitarianism, about modern democracy actually being an Oligarchy, or modern medical ethics where access is dependent on income, as it is in Law, or education. What Socrates and Plato really meant was that democracy is the rule of the uneducated and unqualified mob. Which hasn't changed in 2500 years... Kudos however for the effort to organize and present in a coherent manner the mess of what the Republic is, it takes a huge effort to read the original text, the Athenians loved to use as many words as possible, contrary to the Spartans.
Date published: 2023-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Plato revealed This was the first The Great Courses course I purchased back in 2006 and I'm writing this review in 2023. It remains one of my favorite courses. I had tried reading some dialogs of Plato on my own before taking this course and achieved no real understanding. This course brought to life the almost overwhelming richness of The Republic and provided important insights into understanding Plato's style. I subsequently read the Bloom translation as recommended by Professor Roochnik and have returned to the lectures and the translation several times over the years. I wish The Great Courses had more courses on the dialogs.
Date published: 2023-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding professor and timely course This has been my favorite Great Courses class. An engaging, clear and relevant course on Plato's Republic, a work that seems as relevant to today as it was in 400 BCE. A tre pleasure to listen and learn from a wonderful Professor.
Date published: 2021-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses I've had Of course, you have to like philosophy and thinking about abstract ideas to enjoy this course. But if you do, this is one of the best courses that I've gotten from The Great Courses. The professor lectures in an incredibly clear and easy-to-understand way. And yet, the course is rigorous. I have enjoyed many of the courses from The Great Courses, but often they seem to be a little more "lightweight" than a real university course. Prof. Roochnik gives you a real university level course. I feel like I have learned so much about Plato's Republic, a book that I read in college (over thirty years ago), but never felt that I really understood. Prof. Roochnik helps you understand this seminal work of philosophy. I highly recommend the course if you like philosophy or the history of ideas.
Date published: 2021-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing This course introduced me really to philosophy and I listened to it several times.
Date published: 2020-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative and well worth the money! I very much enjoyed this course! I’ve always wanted to read Plato’s Republic, but I wanted to get as much understanding as I could and this course provided that. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this writing as much without the help of The Great Courses. Thank you!
Date published: 2020-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lectures on Plato's Republic I bought this last month and listened to one lecture every day on my commute to work. I can't say enough good about this set. I was aware but not at all knowledgeable about Plato, his work or most of the early Greeks but now I am a bit more informed as a result. The delivery and discussions were wonderful and Prof. Roochnik does a great job. Enjoyed this thoroughly and learned - what more can you want!
Date published: 2020-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good presentation I'm about a third of the way through the streamed audio version; so I like the Professor Roochnik's clear speaking voice and his organization seems right on; prior to this course all I knew of Plato was the analogy of the cave and I have never read The Republic in it's entirety although I will make time to do so, soon. I do miss the availability of the audio disc because I prefer the physical guide book to the digital format, it would be nice if the digital guide book would open to the next chapter rather then me having to scroll the horizontal bar to begin the appropriate chapter. Overall, not a crucial blemish but it's why the course gets 4 stars instead of 5 from me.
Date published: 2019-10-06
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Explore Plato’s "Republic" more than 2


David Roochnik

What if you were hurled into a time warp and came face to face with the Ancient Greeks? The Greeks invented trigonometry. They did autopsies and dissections. What could you tell an Ancient Greek that he couldn't say, 'Big deal.'?


Boston University

Dr. David Roochnik is Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, where he teaches in both the Department of Philosophy and the Core Curriculum, an undergraduate program in the humanities. He completed his undergraduate work at Trinity College, where he majored in philosophy, and earned his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Roochnik was awarded Boston University's Gitner Award in 1997 for excellence in teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences and the 1999 Metcalf Prize for campus-wide teaching excellence. He is the author of two books on Plato, The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos and Of Art and Wisdom: Plato's Understanding of TECHNE. He has also published over 30 articles on a wide range of subjects in classical Greek philosophy and literature.

Plato’s Life and Times

01: Plato’s Life and Times

Lecture 1 moves from a brief overview of the course to a discussion of Plato's life and times, and the influences his world would have upon his work.

33 min
Book I—The Title and the Setting

02: Book I—The Title and the Setting

In addition to introducing the characters of Plato's dialogue, this first book also introduces Plato's basic questions about justice and the person and method of Socrates.

30 min
Book I—Socrates versus Thrasymachus

03: Book I—Socrates versus Thrasymachus

The central debate of Book I takes place between Socrates and the Sophist, Thrasymachus. Though much of the latter's relativism is refuted, the questions at the heart of their dispute remain unanswered.

31 min
Book II—The City-Soul Analogy

04: Book II—The City-Soul Analogy

Socrates introduces the city-soul analogy, the individual soul "written large," and we look at the first of the cities that will be constructed as a means of defining justice.

31 min
Books II and III—Censorship

05: Books II and III—Censorship

Socrates argues that since the cultural world plays the central role in forming citizen character, music and literature of all kinds must be censored in a just city.

31 min
Book III—The Noble Lie

06: Book III—The Noble Lie

Socrates's censorship program culminates in the "noble lie," in which the city itself - where the predetermined social classes of birth should not mingle - is the parent.

31 min
Book III—Socrates's Medical Ethics

07: Book III—Socrates's Medical Ethics

Socrates presents a radical view of the practice of medicine and the allocation of medical resources in his just city, and the student is challenged to articulate a response.

31 min
Book IV—Justice in the City and Soul

08: Book IV—Justice in the City and Soul

We see Socrates complete his city-soul analogy - including the "four cardinal virtues " - and then discuss Plato's psychology, especially his notion of the harmony of the soul.

30 min
Book V—Feminism

09: Book V—Feminism

Do Socrates's conditions for justice make him a feminist? We examine his proposals in a contemporary light before moving to another condition: that a just city requires rule by philosophers.

30 min
Book V—Who Is the Philosopher?

10: Book V—Who Is the Philosopher?

A long intellectual detour moves us on our first step towards what is typically called "Plato's theory of Ideas," the cornerstone of his philosophical worldview.

30 min
Book VI—The Ship of State

11: Book VI—The Ship of State

A famous parable reveals one of the most pessimistic interpretations of "real world" politics ever conceived, along with a great irony about the role of philosophers in the real world.

31 min
Book VI—The Idea of the Good

12: Book VI—The Idea of the Good

Socrates finally reveals the answer to the question he has been evading all along: What does the philosopher-ruler actually know?

31 min
Book VI—The Divided Line

13: Book VI—The Divided Line

A single short passage turns out to be the most concise summary of Plato's conception of reality. Although it never becomes crystal clear, discussion does make it accessible.

31 min
Book VII—The Parable of the Cave

14: Book VII—The Parable of the Cave

Perhaps because he realizes the difficulty of understanding both the Idea of the Good and the Divided Line, Socrates tells another parable: that of the cave.

31 min
Book VII—The Education of the Guardians

15: Book VII—The Education of the Guardians

In answering why mathematics is so important to the education of the guardians, we complete our overview of Plato's "theory of Ideas" and his conception of education.

30 min
Book VIII—The Perfectly Just City Fails

16: Book VIII—The Perfectly Just City Fails

As we begin our return to the discussion of actual politics, we learn a surprising irony about Socrates's conception of the perfectly just city: it is doomed to fail.

31 min
Books VIII and IX—The Mistaken Regimes

17: Books VIII and IX—The Mistaken Regimes

The fourth and final part of Plato's Republic, unlike earlier sections, is neither philosophical argument nor historical analysis; it is an explanation of how regimes change.

30 min
Book VIII—Socrates's Critique of Democracy

18: Book VIII—Socrates's Critique of Democracy

This lecture addresses what is perhaps the most politically charged issue found in this course, and addressing Socrates's challenges it should sharpen students' understanding of the regime that they likely think best.

30 min
Books VIII and IX—The Critique of Tyranny

19: Books VIII and IX—The Critique of Tyranny

Socrates offers a lengthy condemnation of tyranny, the worst of all possible regimes. We test his analysis by looking at the most notorious tyrant of our generation: Saddam Hussein.

30 min
Book IX—The Superiority of Justice

20: Book IX—The Superiority of Justice

Socrates argues that the life of the just philosopher is happier and more pleasant than that of the unjust tyrant, returning to a key question posed in Book I.

31 min
Book X—Philosophy versus Poetry

21: Book X—Philosophy versus Poetry

Socrates returns to a subject first raised in Books II and III - this time with a critique even more severe.

31 min
Book X—The Myth of Er

22: Book X—The Myth of Er

Socrates tells a poem of his own, going directly to the issue of how human beings should live their lives and returning the Republic, full circle, to its opening theme.

30 min
Summary and Overview

23: Summary and Overview

In this lecture, we will review the journey we have taken through the ten books of Plato's Republic, trying to summarize the great achievements of this extraordinary book.

30 min
The Legacy of Plato's

24: The Legacy of Plato's "Republic"

Whitehead characterized all of the European philosophical tradition as a "series of footnotes to Plato." We examine this wild exaggeration to see if, indeed, it holds any truth.

31 min