Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Inquiry -- Excerpt from Plato's Republic VIII 562a ff
On the Origins of Tyranny
1. According to the discussion between Socrates and Adeimantus, from what sort of regime does tyranny arise?
2. What sort of greed dissolves a democracy into a tyranny, according to their conversation?
3. What happens to the rulers in a place where the citizens have become drunk with freedom?
4. What happens to the relationship between parents and children when the extreme of freedom is ensconced in a society? What about the relationship between teacher and student?
5. What does Socrates mean by saying that the souls of people in democracies that are drunk on freedom become "tender"? What is the problem with having a "tender" soul?
6. Why do citizens in such a society cease to have regard for law or convention?
7. Looking inward, explain Socrates' comment that "too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery." (Paragraph form)
8. What sort of men spread the disease of tyranny within a democracy, according to their conversation?
9. In this conversation, what are the "three parts" of a democratic city/state? Describe how each differs from the other.
10. Why do the people (demos) participate in democratic assemblies? (i.e., How do they receive benefit for their political participation?)
11. What response does the wealthy have to these measures, and what happens to them?
12. From where do tyrants originate, according to their discussion?
13. What sort of actions does a mob leader take that mark his transformation into a tyrant? (Identify three)
14. Why does the tyrant incite faction against the wealthy in a city/state?
15. If the tyrant is exiled or escapes death and returns to the city/state, what is his "notorious" request? What is the response of the people?
16. What do the wealthy do when such a man comes to power? Why?
17. How does the tyrant initially appear to the people upon taking power? What sorts of actions will a tyrant take to gain acceptance from the people?
18. What do tyrants do when they have resolved their problems with all of their enemies? Why? (Supply 3 reasons)
19. Why does tyranny result in the abolition of the best, and in the propagation of weakness and mediocrity?
20. Consider and provide details from your own knowledge of a modern example of tyranny in either history or fiction. How well/poorly does the discussion of tyranny provided in this brief excerpt explain your own example? (2 paragraphs minimum)
21. Examine the rise and fall of Julius Caesar in the play, or in history. How well/poorly does the discussion of tyranny provided in this brief excerpt explain the example that Caesar poses? (3 paragraphs minimum)