Plato

Introduction

The significance of Plato’s literature legacy can hardly be underestimated. Although his marvelous stories and fables had been written many years Jesus Christ was born, their relevance to contemporary life difficulties and their resolution is no less important than the relevance of the Ten Commandments.  Plato in his works and in the works of his students managed to convey several vitally important messages through centuries and the decision of the leading educational establishments to insert his literature works into the educational curriculum was a very apt one.

In contrast to his modern colleague, Plat advocates a considerably specific philosophical approach which is typical for him and his students exclusively. His manners to expostulate his thoughts and ideas have probably been taken from his mentor Socrates, whom he further often criticized, as a student who managed to excel his own master.

This essay is focused on the exploration of the two most prominent works of Plato. The first one is well-known “Apology” , which is literally the way Plato interpreted the speech delivered by Socrates to defend himself against the charges brought against him by the judges and the general public of Athens.  The second targeted literature piece is the “Allegory of the Cave”. The story has been shaped as a dialogue between the Plato himself, his brother and the already discussed tutor and mentor of Plato, the old Socrates.  The aim of that literature and philosophical masterpiece was to demonstrate the state of educational affairs in the erstwhile ancient Greek society and to highlight the fact that the community was in a desperate need for being educationally reformed or otherwise the repercussions can be the gravest ones.

Historical Context of the Poems

The allegory of the cave was written at the early years of Plato philosophical career. The form of presentation chosen was untypical for Platoon, since the narration is made from the point of Socrates. The society is modeled as a group of people living in the cave, whose extremities, heads and other parts of the body are fixedly confined to the stones of the cave and whose movements are completely prevented.  The sun is rising on their back, and the shadows and echoes of the objects acting on their background are projected onto the visible side of the cave. Naturally the prisoners start to think that the shadows are real things and echoes are real, genuine sounds.  The philosopher on the other hand is presented like a prisoner who managed to achieve deliverance from the chains and understand the difference between the real things and their shadowy reflection.  Once the one is reflected from the fetters of ignorance, illiteracy and other horrors of non-knowledge, the world and its things are automatically seen another way, then it was initially comprehended.  However, the art of philosophy, oratory and other relevant sciences are to be mastered and polished on permanent basis, or the one who frees himself risks to get chained again.

The main message of this poem is to ridicule the state of educational affairs in the Ancient Greek society, the one in Athens in particular. The dominant portion of the attention was given to the processing of military affairs of the community, while the educational and elucidative activities of the community were almost completely abandoned. Unless serious actions are taken, according to Plato’s opinion are taken, the entire society can be captivated, and there will be no one available to free, since the man himself cannot reasonably break the chains and become a free, reasonably judging and prudent philosopher. The ultimate goal of the process is to create a community of philosophers and  thinkers, in where everyone is free from the fetters and chains of ignorance and illiteracy.

The Apology is of considerably more pivotal practical significance and is linked to the real historical events.  The story in its nature is an interpretation of the defense speech delivered by Platoon against the charges on corruption and child perversion brought against him by the judges of Athens.  The mostly highlighted sentence of the entire speech is naturally the first sentence, where Socrates speculates that hardly can it be possible that the good people of Athens have been persuaded by his accusers, who are Anytus, representing the political and mercantile circles of the society, Meletus representing the poets and Lycon, who spoke on the behalf of rhetoricians.  Socrates skillfully and masterfully responds to the claims raised by the judges against him, but makes a fatal mistake pointing out to the sins and imperfections of the judges in particular and the society in general. To pardon him, the judges reasonably expected that he would assume the guilt, while he was trying to plead innocent.   Although probably Socrates did manage to convince all of them of his innocence, the majority of the presiding judges voted for the death penalty to be applied in that case. 

Part two and three of the story exposes the matters connected with the sentencing and verdict delivered. Socrates forgave all those who convicted him and said he bore no grudge against them.  The message of the story was to demonstrate the imperfections and flaws of the outwardly exemplary Ancient Greek society, where in reality the interests of the ruling community occurred to be above the newest philosophical advancements and ideas.

The Two Poems in Conjunction

 Although it is evident that the poems do have different messages, different targeted audience and are linked to drastically different periods of a Ancient Greece history, they have several common elements.

First of all, purely from literature technics parlance they have been written similarly, in the form of a dialogue.  According to Plato this form is the most pertinent to be perceived by the targeted reader or listener.  Secondly, the aim of the both is to criticize and to ridicule the ruling elite of Ancient Greece. Uncontestably, the overwhelming majority of the Ancient world civilizations regarded Ancient Greece and Athens in particular as an exemplary state that shall be imitated.  Plato tried successfully to dispel that myth and to demonstrate that the community was bogged down in vices and sins, and unless immediate reformation procedures are launched, it can eventually turn into one of the barbaric states with the elements of civilization.

Both poems are designed to reveal the flaws of the community. However, while the Allegory of the Cave is of general character and relatively more pessimistic in its nature, the  Apology has several optimistic elements, especially in the chapters when the judges voted for innocence of Socrates and reasoned their position. That step was taken by Plato to manifest that not the entire society is corrupted and perverted and still the situation can be remedied.

The Contemporary Significance

These literature masterpieces are both of immense practical significance for the entire Western civilization in general and for the communities of modern Greece in particular. First and foremost, contemporary international affairs have become so intricate, entangled and complicated that irrespective of the accumulated knowledge and experience, the community is still confined to the chains and fetters of ignorance, although it is more specific than the one in the Ancient Greek society. Out community does not comprehend that nature-killing processes are fatal for us, that devastating wars and the proliferation of the nuclear weaponry is to be ceased as soon as possible, that the rapacious exploitation of the natural resources inevitably leads to the breach of the natural universal equilibrium and that someday it will definitely backfire on us. These events are the reflections, nor the gist of the true, pacific and non-turbulent life that has been dictated by the natural laws of human evolution. 

On other hand the sophistication of our civilization has caused the fact that the majority of our compatriots do not understand the processes happening, like the financial turnover for instance. Unless its nature is duly explicated to them, the protests and non-understanding will grow and become rather more intensified.

The relevance of the Allegory is undisputed as well, since in the modern world false and ungrounded accusations have become normal and well-accepted, if the needs of the majority or of the ruling elite really necessitate them.  A main can be imprisoned nowadays if he is suspected to constitute a threat for the community although in reality he does not, and that perfectly reflects the situation that happened to Socrates himself. The incarceration is merely a parallel of all the unlicensed and the unsolicited by the society actions that are being perpetrated by the political, business and other elites of the community.

Summary

Having summarized the major points of this essay, it has become inferentially concluded that nowadays the ideas of Plato committed to his Allegory and the Apology are really applicable and relevant. The only changes that have been made to the civilization are of technical and scientific natures, and no drastic alterations of the human character natures are seen to have taken place. Until the characters and the mindsets of the people remain the same, the message of Plato will remain hotshot.

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