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449A - 451C Socrates is about to describe the different kinds of depraved polities, when Adimantus, prompted by Polemarchus, and supported by Glauco and Thrasymachus, demands from him a fuller explanation of the community of wives and children, and of the arrangements for begetting and rearing offspring. Socrates professes reluctance, both because it will be doubted whether his scheme is either practicable or expedient, and because he is himself uncertain of his ground and unwilling to involve his friends in possible discomfiture. At last, after propitiating Nemesis, and being exonerated by his friends, he proceeds to comply with their request.

ff. Considered in its merely formal aspect, the portion of the Republic contained in Books V—VII may be described as a digression (ἀναμνησθῶμεν πόθεν δεῦρο ἐξετραπόμεθα VIII 543 C). In reality, these books fulfil the hopes held out in sundry parts of III and IV (see III 414 A, 416 B, IV 423 E, 435 D, 439 E, 442 C notes), and complete the picture of the perfect city and the perfect man by giving us Plato's third or crowning effort —the philosophic City and the Philosopher-King. See on II 372 D. As we often find in Plato (see e.g. Phaed. 84 C ff.), the new departure is occasioned by an objection, or rather a request for further information, on the part of one of the interlocutors. Adimantus invites Socrates to explain the remark made by him in IV 423 E f. and fully expound the principle of κοινὰ τὰ φίλων as it affects women and children. The challenge is accepted, and Socrates deals with the question under three main heads, which he figures as waves through which the argument must swim in safety. The first wave concerns Community of Education between the male and female Guardians (451 C— 457 B); the second, Community in wives and children (457 B—466 D); the third and greatest, whose advent is long delayed, deals with the question whether Communism and therewithal the perfect city itself can be realised in the world (471 C ff.). The last of these three waves is not finally surmounted until the description of the Philosopher and his City reaches its conclusion at the end of VII: so that Books V—VII closely cohere together. In the first two divisions (V 451 C—466 D), the dominating principle is still φύσις or Nature (see on 451 C): but from 474 D onwards the psychological standpoint is gradually superseded by the metaphysical, until in Book VII the Idea of Good becomes the supreme inspiring force—at once the formal, the efficient, and the final cause—of Plato's City. See on VI 506 E, 509 B ff. On the alleged connexion between the earlier part of Book V (451 C—466 D) and the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes see App. I.

ἰδιωτῶν -- κατασκευήν: ‘the organization of the character of the individual soul.’ ψυχῆς was doubted by Ast; but cf. IV 445 C τοσοῦτοι κινδυνεύουσι καὶ ψυχῆς τρόποι εἶναι, and for the collocation of genitives VII 525 C αὐτῆς τῆς ψυχῆς ῥᾳστώνης μεταστροφῆς, VIII 544 D, 559 E, 560 B, Tim. 24 B and other cases in Kühner Gr. Gr. II p. 289. ψυχῆς τρόπου is practically a single word like ‘soul-character’ (“Seelenbeschaffenheit” Schneider).

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plato, Phaedo, 84c
    • Plato, Timaeus, 24b
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