In Book III of Plato’s Republic, Socrates continues his discussion of poetry. He asserts that poetry ought to dispel the fear of death, not encourage it. For example, he criticizes Homer’s portrayal of Achilles in the underworld. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus meets Achilles in the underworld. Achilles tells Odysseus that he “would rather be a serf on the land of a poor man than rule over all the dead.” Socrates argues that this type of attitude will cultivate a fear of death in the minds of young men who read Homer’s Odyssey. This development of cowardice is contrary to Socrates’ goal of training men to “choose death in battle rather than defeat and slavery.” Continue reading →
The Clouds, written by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, is a work of Old Comedy. Old Comedy is a comedic genre that utilizes satire, caricature, and vulgar dialogue to ridicule public figures, politics, ideas, trends, and institutions. The drama is very amusing and entertaining, but it also expresses serious concern about the radical new ideas arising in Athens at the time of the play. Aristophanes chiefly focuses on the new ideas espoused by Socrates and by the Sophists, and emphasizes the threat these new ideas pose to traditional values and morals. Continue reading →
In the Republic, Plato divides the human soul into three parts: the Appetite, the Rational, and the Spirited. The Appetite part of the soul desires bodily pleasures such as food, drink, sex, etc; the Rational part desires to exercise reason and make rational decisions; and the Spirited part desires honor above all else.
Throughout his works, William Shakespeare presents numerous characters who are dominated by one aspect of their soul. For example, the Appetite part of the soul dominates Tarquin in The Rape of Lucrece, the Rational part of the soul dominates Hamlet, and the Spirited part of the soul dominates Coriolanus. Continue reading →
The body’s decomposition is an evident truth, accepted by scientists and theologians alike, “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” But if man is not merely composed of a physical body, but also a soul, then what is the fate of this spiritual essence after death? Some of humanity’ greatest thinkers have pondered over this question, and formed remarkably diverse answers. Religious zealotry, atheism, and utter indifference are just a few responses.