Plato: “Allegory of the Cave”

(ca. 380 BCE)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

The allegory is reported in Plato's Republic as a conversation between Plato's teacher, Socrates, and Plato's elder brother, Glaucon. The conversation, however, is fictionalized. Plato's dialogues are generally more like philosophical theme plays than courtroom transcripts of actual conversations. Yet the conversations are realistic in that they are by and large faithful to what a given character would have said in a given situation. Although scholars debate the extent to which the Socrates of Plato's dialogues corresponds to the historical...

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Bust of Socrates (Yale University Art Gallery)

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