Study Help Full Glossary for The Republic


Achaeans in the Iliad, the followers of Achilles or the entire Greek army; another name for the Greeks. (Historically, the Achaeans were one of the first Hellenic tribes to invade Greece, probably during the third millennium B.C.)

Achilles counseled to help the Greeks if they gave him gifts Iliad IX, 515.

Achilles' dragging of Hector's body round the tomb of Patroclus Iliad XXII, 394.

Achilles' insubordination to the river god Iliad XXI, 130, 223 and following lines.

Achilles' offering to the dead Patroclus of his own hair Iliad XXIII, 151.

Achilles' slaughter of the captives Iliad XXIII, 175.

Achilles the son of the human Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis, and a Greek warrior and leader in the Trojan War; he is the great hero of Homer's Iliad. Achilles was angry at Agamemnon as the Trojan War began and required gifts to stop pouting and come out into battle; later he became maddened at the death in battle of his dear friend Patroclus and behaved wildly and dishonorably. These are the actions that Socrates wants the young Guardians to be prevented from reading or hearing.

Achilles unwilling to restore Hector's dead body Iliad XXIV, 175.

Aeschylus (525?-456 b.c.) Greek writer of tragedies.

Agamemnon in myth, a son of Atreus and brother of Menelaus; he was king of Mycenae and the leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War.

agora the marketplace (literally and, as here, figuratively — meaning commerce in general).

Ajax one of the bravest of Greek warriors in the Iliad; see Iliad VII, 321, for the incident Socrates refers to here.

Alas my misery! . . . Iliad, XVIII, 54; Thetis is lamenting the death of her son Achilles. (This and the quotations and references that follow, up to Cheiron, are illustrative of the kinds of incidents that Socrates believes the young Guardians ought not to be exposed to, because they show the mythical figures and legendary heroes in various kinds of bad light. Many translators, to save space, do not include this section of Book III in their translations. We have taken the list of sources in this series, all but one from the Iliad orOdyssey, from Scott Buchanan, ed., The Portable Plato [Viking], whose edition uses the Benjamin Jowett translation.)

anarchy the complete absence of government; a state without rule of any kind; a chaotic state.

Any of the craftsmen, whether he be priest or physician or carpenter . . . . Odyssey XVII, 383.

Apollo an Olympian god, son of Zeus, brother of Artemis; he was a god of light, prophecy, healing, music, and archery, and a protector of herds. The shrine at Delphi was sacred to Apollo, and the oracle there was his.

Apollo and his instruments . . . Marsyas and his instruments In Greek mythology, Marsyas was a satyr (a minor forest god, part man and part goat) who played the flute so well that he entered a contest with Apollo and lost; Apollo, as his prize, was allowed to do whatever he liked to Marsyas so he flayed the satyr alive. (In the following section of the dialogue, Socrates refers to various contemporary theories of music which held that certain kinds of harmony, rhythm, etc., are conducive to certain states of mind, emotions, etc. Socrates wants the future Guardians exposed only to those kinds of music that will prepare them to be courageous in battle; however, he here affects not to know much about the technical details of these musical theories.)

Archilochus seventh-century B.C. Greek poet, regarded as the inventor of iambics (a poetic meter).

Ares and Aphrodite . . . . Odyssey VIII, 266.

Argos ancient city-state in the northeastern Peloponnesus: It dominated the Peloponnesus from the seventh century B.C. until the rise of Sparta.

Arion's dolphin Arion was a Greek lyric poet, probably of the seventh century B.C., of legendary fame. Supposedly he was thrown from a ship by a sailor who wished to rob him, but he was permitted to sing one song before he died. He sang so beautifully that a dolphin who heard him was moved to rescue him.

aristocracies plural of aristocracy, a government by the best, or by a small, privileged class.

Asclepius in Greek mythology, the god of healing and medicine.

Atalanta a mythological huntress, who (in one story) refused to marry any suitor who could not win a footrace against her.

becomes a water-drinker . . . . i.e., stops using alcohol.

Better to be the poor servant . . . . Odyssey IX, 489.

By the dog of Egypt a mild oath; the "dog of Egypt" is Anubis, an Egyptian god pictured as having the head of a dog who leads the dead to judgment. Socrates probably "swears" by this barbarian god to express emphasis without being sacrilegious, as he would be were he to invoke the name of a god of the Hellenes.

caitiff a mean, evil, or cowardly person; a wretch.

Cerberus a mythical three-headed dog that guards the gate of Hades.

Cheiron Achilles' teacher.

Chimera a mythical monster, usually depicted as having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.

Chryses in the Iliad, a priest of Apollo and the father of Chryseis, a young woman taken captive by the Greeks; he comes to ransom her, but Agamemnon refuses to give her up, so Apollo sends a pestilence upon the Greek army.

Cocytus the river of wailing, a tributary of the Acheron in Hades.

collet a small metal band used in ring settings.

concupiscent having strong desire or appetite, especially sexual desire.

confectioners persons whose work or business is making or selling confectionery (sweet edibles, such as candies and cakes).

contemn to scorn, to despise, to treat or think of with contempt.

the country of the lotus-eaters . . . . one of the mythical lands Odysseus visited on his voyage home from Troy, the country of the lotus-eaters was populated with people who were drugged and lethargic, lacking in ambition; here, Socrates uses the phrase figuratively to describe the state of being of the democratic man who is a slave to physical appetites and useless, degrading pleasures.

Cretans Hellenic people from the island of Crete.

Croesus (d. 546 b.c.) last king of Lydia (560-546), noted for his great wealth. He is often used as an exemplar of great wealth (as in the simile "rich as Croesus").

cubit an ancient unit of linear measure, about 18-22 inches; originally, the length of the forearm from middle fingertip to elbow. (A man who believed he was four cubits high, in other words, would believe he was about six-foot-six, unusually tall for an ancient Greek.)

Daedalus a legendary Athenian inventor, architect, and artist, who according to legend, built the Labyrinth.

democracies plural of democracy, a government in which the people hold the ruling power; democracies in Plato's experience were governments in which the citizens exercised power directly rather than through elected representatives.

dicast in ancient Athens, any of a large group of citizens chosen annually to serve as a court hearing cases; here, an Athenian who performs the function of both judge and juryman at a trial.

Diomede (also Diomedes) one of the great Greek heroes in the Trojan War.

Dionysiac festivals here, specifically, festivals including dramatic performances. (Dionysus was, among other things, the ancient god of wine and fertility, and his worship often involved orgiastic rites. The evolution of tragedy is linked to Dionysiac worship, and the performance of tragedies was part of yearly festivals in honor of the god.)

dithyramb in ancient Greece, an impassioned choric hymn in honor of Dionysus; here it refers to a short poem or chant, usually irregular in meter, with a wild, inspired rhythm.

draughts a board game like checkers.

Elegaic of or relating to a specific verse form, or type of poetry, written in praise of the dead (or, as here, something resembling that type of poetry).

end i.e., purpose, the object for the sake of which a thing exists or is made.

epicure a person who is especially fond of luxury and sensual pleasure; especially (and here), one with sensitive and discriminating tastes in food or wine. (The English word epicure is derived from the name of third-century B.C. Greek philosopher Epicurus; thus its use in translations of Plato is anachronistic.)

eristic of or provoking controversy or given to sophistical argument and specious reasoning; a person who engages in such argument (a Sophist).

exordium the opening part of a formal oration; here, Glaucon refers to Socrates' long explanation about what he is going to say.

the Fates in Greek mythology, the Fates (or Moirai) are the daughters either of Night (in some versions) or of Zeus and Themis (in others). They are the spirits who preside over a person's birth, allotting his or her destiny; they are often personified as three women: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who spin out the thread of life, measure it, and finally cut it off.

foot-pad a highwayman who traveled on foot, robbing travelers; a mugger might be the modern equivalent.

Friend, sit still and obey my word . . . . Iliad IV, 412.

Gifts persuading gods . . . . attributed to Hesiod.

Glaucus a minor god of the sea, who sometimes appeared to sailors to predict disasters; Socrates is apparently speaking of a sculpted image of this god which has been damaged by the elements.

the god of jealousy Momus, a son of Night; he is also a personification of censure and criticism.

the goddess i.e., Bendis, the Thracian Artemis (the goddess of the moon, wild animals, and hunting, in classical Greek mythology; identified with the Roman goddess Diana).

The Greeks marched breathing prowess, . . . . in silent awe of their leaders . . . . Odyssey III, 8; IV, 431.

gymnastic physical exercise or education.

Hades in Greek mythology, the home of the dead, or the Underworld; the traditional belief was that the souls of all who died went to Hades, where they existed as shades, with consciousness but mindless and without strength.

He smote his breast . . . . Odyssey XX, 17.

Hellas in ancient times, Greece, including the islands and colonies; the lands populated and ruled by Hellenes.

Hellespont another name for the Dardanelles, a strait in northwest Turkey connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea. The ancient Phrygian city of Troy (site of the Trojan War) was located in Asia Minor near the Aegean end of the strait.

Hephaestus in Greek mythology, the god of fire and metalworking, the lame blacksmith god, son of Hera (alone, according to Hesiod; other versions call him the son of Zeus and Hera).

Hera the queen of heaven and the gods, the sister and wife of Zeus, and goddess of women and marriage.

Hesiod eighth-century B.C. Greek poet, generally accepted to be the author of the epic Works and Days; Hesiod (with Homer) is one of the earliest sources of the Greek myths in written form.

Homer semilegendary Greek epic poet of the eighth century B.C.: the Iliad and the Odyssey are both attributed to him.

husbandman farmer.

hydra the nine-headed serpent slain by Hercules as one of his twelve labors: When any one of its heads is cut off, it is replaced by two others.

hymeneal songs wedding songs (after Hymen, the god of marriage).

I would rather be a serf . . . Odyssey, IX, 489.

inanition lack of strength or spirit; emptiness; weakness.

Inextinguishable laughter . . . . Iliad I, 599.

The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus . . . . Aeschylus, from The Niobe.

Lacedaemonians i.e., Spartans.

the long chines spines or backbones, or (as here) cuts of meat containing the backbone; what are now called "tenderloins."

lots objects used in deciding a matter by chance.

Lycurgus a real or legendary Spartan lawgiver of about the ninth century B.C.

Lydia ancient kingdom in western Asia Minor: it flourished in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C.; conquered by Persians and absorbed into Persian Empire (6th century B.C.).

Lydian, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian ancient Greek musical scales; according to W. J. Baltzell's A Complete History of Music, these were all diatonic scales, all like the "natural minor" scales in modern Western music.

lyre a small stringed instrument of the harp family, used by the ancient Greeks to accompany singers and reciters.

made a blind god director of his chorus . . . . i.e., avarice; the chorus is a group in Greek drama that speaks for the ordinary citizens of the society, and the Choragos was its "director" or spokesman. Socrates' figure seems to mean that the oligarchic man, having no cultivation, will have allowed this "blind god" — greed or the love of money and possessions — to direct his life and speak for him.

magazines places of storage, as a warehouse, storehouse, or military supply depot.

Megara chief town of ancient Megaris, a district located between the Saronic Gulf and the Gulf of Corinth, site of a battle of the Peloponnesian War.

mendicant prophets prophets or holy men who live by begging; Socrates' implication here is that they are assumed by educated persons to be charlatans.

Menelaus king of Sparta, Agamemnon's brother, and husband of Helen of Troy, whose abduction by the Trojan Paris (son of King Priam) was the legendary cause of the Trojan War.

Musaeus a legendary Greek poet thought to have lived before Homer, believed to be the author of Orphic poems and oracles.

the Muse of philosophy The nine Muses were mythical daughters of Memory, goddesses of the arts, who were said to watch over or inspire the practitioners of nine specific arts: Calliope, epic poetry; Clio, history; Euterpe, the flute; Melpomene, tragedy; Terpsichore, dance; Erato, the lyre (and lyric poetry); Polyhymnia, sacred song; Urania, astronomy; and Thalia, comedy. There was no Muse assigned to philosophy; Socrates is using this phrase figuratively and fancifully, and perhaps implying that philosophy is more deserving of a Muse than some of these other arts.

mystery in ancient Greece, a religious ceremony or doctrine revealed only to the initiated.

neatherd cowherd.

neither drug nor cautery nor spell nor amulet . . . . Socrates refers here to various contemporary means of treatment employed by physicians as well as pseudo-physicians: Drugs and cauterization were accepted medical treatment; magical spells and amulets (protective objects, charms) were also commonly used.

Nemesis in Greek mythology, the personification of the gods' wrath at man's hubris; the goddess of retributive justice, or vengeance.

The newest song which the singers have . . . . Odyssey I, 352.

nostrum a medicine prepared by the person selling it; a patent medicine, often sold with exaggerated claims.

O heavens! With my eyes . . . . Iliad XXII168.

O heavy with wine . . . heart of a stag . . . . Odyssey I, 225.

Odysseus the hero of the Odyssey, a king of Ithaca and one of the Greek leaders in the Trojan War: Latin name Ulysses.

ophthalmia a severe inflammation of the eyeball.

Orpheus a legendary musician from Thrace; according to myth, he played the lyre with such artistry that his music moved rocks and trees and calmed wild animals. Orpheus figures in numerous myths and, like Musaeus, is associated with religious rites.

the palaestra in ancient Greece, a public place for exercise in wrestling and athletics. (Athletes trained and performed naked; a little later in the dialogue Socrates will refer to this, comparing the Greeks to other peoples who did not follow the custom [barbarians — i.e., non-Hellenes], saying it may have seemed strange when first introduced but was now natural and accepted.)

Palamedes a hero of post-Homeric stories of the Trojan War.

pancratiast a participant in the pancratium, an ancient Greek athletic contest combining boxing and wrestling.

Pandarus a character in Homer's Iliad: a leader of the Lycians in the Trojan War.

Pandarus a leader of the Lycians in the Trojan War; a Trojan hero in the Iliad.

panegyrists plural of panegyrist, an orator who presented eulogies (praiseful speeches); here, Socrates means writers and speakers who praise, or have praised, justice.

Patroclus son of Menoetius and the dear friend of Achilles, he is a Greek hero in the Iliad.

Peleus a king of the Myrmidons, father of Achilles.

Persephone the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, abducted by Hades (Pluto) to be his wife in the Underworld; she spends half of each year in Hades, half above ground; out of respect for Tiresias' wisdom, she granted that he should retain his mind after death, while the rest of the souls in Hades are merely "flitting shades."

Phoebus originally a sun-god, Phoebus became another name (as here) for Apollo.

Phoenicians people from Phoenicia, an ancient region of city-states at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, in the region of present-day Syria and Lebanon.

Pindar (522?-438? b.c.) Greek lyric poet.

the Piraeus Athens' port on the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea; now a city, Piraeus (or Peiraeus).

plectrum a thin piece of metal, bone, plastic, etc., used for plucking the strings of a lyre; a pick.

plough or mattock the plough (or, usually in American English, plow) and mattock are basic farm implements for tilling and digging in soil.

Pluto god of the Underworld, king of Hades.

Polydamus the name of a contemporary athlete, a pancratiast (see next entry).

Priam the last king of Troy, who reigned during the Trojan War; he was the father of Paris, Hector, Troilus, and Cassandra, among the rest of his hundred children by several wives — according to Greek myth.

Prodicus another Sophist.

Protagoras (481?-411? b.c.a Greek philosopher of the fifth century B.C., the best known of the Sophists.

Proteus a minor sea-god in Greek mythology: he can change his form or appearance at will. In theOdyssey, he appears as a seer who changes shape to avoid answering questions.

Pythagoreans followers of Pythagoras, a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician of the sixth century B.C.

the Pythian oracle an older name for the Delphic oracle. (Pythia was the title of the high priestess of Apollo's oracle at Delphi; the word is from the same root as Python, an enormous mythical serpent slain by Apollo.)

rack [the strings] on the pegs of the instrument . . . . Socrates is referring to music theorists who, in trying to determine precise intervals of pitch, tighten and loosen the strings of a lyre to change the pitch ever so slightly; figuratively, he says they are torturing the strings the way a prisoner might be tortured on a rack, stretching them little by little to make them give up information.

rhapsodist in ancient Greece, a person who recited rhapsodies, esp. one who recited epic poems as a profession.

rhetoric the art of using words effectively in speaking or writing; the "professors of rhetoric" to whom Socrates refers here are Sophists, noted for their adroit, subtle, and often specious reasoning.

The saddest of fates . . . . Odyssey XII, 342.

Scylla another monster, this one the female personification of a rock, dangerous to ships, on the Italian side of the Straits of Messina, opposite the whirlpool Charybdis (which was personified as Scylla's companion monster).

Scythians warlike and nomadic Indo-Iranian people who lived in ancient Scythia, a region of southeastern Europe on the north coast of the Black Sea.

seats of precedent . . . . Iliad VIII, 162.

Simonides (556?-468? b.c.) Greek lyric poet.

slough a swamp, bog, or marsh, especially one that is part of an inlet or backwater.

smiths i.e., craftsmen, especially metalworkers.

Solon (640?-559? b.c.) Athenian statesman and lawgiver: framed the democratic laws of Athens.

Sons of Ariston i.e., Glaucon and Adeimantus; Ariston was also the father of Plato.

Sophocles (496?-406 b.c.) Greek writer of tragic dramas.

Styx the river encircling Hades over which Charon ferries the souls of the dead (the third river is Lethe).

Suppose that we were painting a statue . . . . although most of those that survive no longer appear to be painted, the statues of this period, of gods, heroes, etc., were actually painted in various natural colors by the artists.

Thales a Greek philosopher (c. 624-546 b.c.) who established the first philosophical school.

Thamyras (or Thamyris) a mythological poet and musician.

Theages' bridle Scholars identify Socrates' phrase here as referring to a proverb.

Theban a native of Thebes (ancient city in southern Egypt, on the Nile, on the site of modern Luxor and Karnak).

Theseus, son of Poseidon legendary Greek hero, sometimes said to be the son of the sea god Poseidon; he is supposed to have killed the Minotaur and conquered the Amazons, among other feats.

Thetis one of the Nereids (sea-goddesses or sea-nymphs) and the mother of Achilles (whose father was a human man, Peleus); Thetis dipped the infant Achilles in the River Styx in order to make him immortal like the gods, but the heel by which she held him was not affected and so became the site of his mortal wound.

They are holy angels . . . . probably from Hesiod's Works and Days, 121 and following lines.

Thou has wronged me, O far-darter . . . . Iliad XXII, 15 and following lines.

Thracians natives of the ancient country of Thrace (or Thracia) on the Balkan peninsula, which extended to the Danube.

Tiresias a legendary blind soothsayer of Thebes; much respected, he figures in many mythical stories.

tirewomen ladies' maids (from tire, an obsolete form of attire [clothing]).

tragedy here, a collective term for the plays of tragedians such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, etc.

tyrranies plural of tyranny, a form of government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler; this was a common form of government among Greek city-states and did not necessarily have the pejorative connotation it has today, although (as shall be seen) Plato regarded it as the worst kind of government.

Uranus, Cronus (Ouranos, Kronos) in Greek mythology (told in Hesiod's Theogony), Cronus was a Titan who, with his brothers and sisters, was imprisoned in Tartarus (the part of the Underworld where guilty souls are punished) by his father Uranus (the Heavens). Cronos escaped and castrated his father, with the help of his mother Ge (the Earth), to become the ruler of the Titans; this is the "retaliation" Socrates refers to.

When the tables are full . . . into the cups Odyssey IX, 8.

the wisest of men i.e., Odysseus.

Without the knowledge of their parents Iliad XIV, 281.

Woe is me . . . . Iliad, XVI, 433.

the world below . . . i.e., the Underworld, Hades.

Xerxes (519?-465 b.c.); king of Persia (486-465): son of Darius I. Here, Xerxes, Bias, and Perdiccas are named as exemplars of very wealthy men.

Zeus chief deity of the Olympian gods, son of Cronus, brother and husband of Hera.