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How democracy descends into tyranny – a classic reading from Plato’s Republic

Lennox Johnson reading

In this passage from Book VIII of The Republic, Plato describes how democracy can arise from oligarchy and descend into tyranny. Starting with the oligarchical state, in which the rulers aim to become as wealthy as possible, Plato explains how oligarchy reduces many ordinary citizens to poverty. Eventually, the class of citizens who have been reduced to poverty become resentful of the rich and seize political power, distributing property and freedom equally among all citizens. However, just as an excessive desire for wealth leads to the downfall of oligarchy, an …

The Misery of Tyrants – a short reading from Plato’s Republic

Lennox Johnson reading

“He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind.” In this passage from book nine of Plato’s Republic, Socrates finally responds to the challenge set by Glaucon in book two; speaking as devil’s advocate, Glaucon claimed that people want nothing to restrict their desire for more and more of everything. If anyone could profit from acting unjustly and guarantee that they could get away with …