Thursday, July 16, 2009

Plato's Warlike Contradiction

X Factoring the Exception

There seems to be certain groups of people that are exempt from censorship, and this stirring battle clip montage from the movie 300 set against violent music from Dethklok of the show Metalopcalypse would be something to hide from the common people, and perhaps only show the generals. Plato believed that the common people would be told lies as, “[but falsehood is] useful to human beings as a kind of medicine,...So it’s appropriate for the rulers of the state, if anyone, to tell lies involving enemies or fellow citizens for the benefit of the state” (28). One of many problems with this thinking is that it applies to citizens of the Republic and outsiders are seen as enemies. This exception punches a big hole in the peaceful front Plato gives. Although the Republic would rely on honorable servicemen to serve it, they still would be fed doctrine by the philosopher kings. Setting aside the point that Plato would dislike any imitation or replication of a war, especially by a director who is not in real life a successful general, we can assume that if forced there are certain aspects of the video he would appreciate.

Plato believed in the necessity of courage and honor of a citizen, especially one that is also a soldier. He would perhaps applaud the chivalry and victories of the group of Spartans. Men were to be men and bravery went along with respect. In Republic 3 he explains his reasoning for removing any emotional displays of males reported by the poets, “So we would be right to remove the lamentations of famous men and give them to women- but no the serious ones- and to the inferior men, so that those we claim to be educating as guardians of the country will be ashamed to act like this.”(26). Again this is further proof that this emotional display of strength in the video would only be shown to men being bred for positions of power.

Plato was big on levels in society and would believe in the didactic merit of the clip. All personal relations with Sparta set aside, the philosopher would enjoy the way the Persian forces are depicted as soulless evildoers. The enemy would be associated with witchcraft and such atrocities as making a tree from the dead corpses of innocent villagers. The small band of soldiers overcoming a massive enemy would inspire hope, but must end before the hero dies. Plato would perhaps end the clip in the last few seconds, a sin of omission. Plato would know that the main hero dies, but would hide this from even perhaps men right underneath him in rank.

All men are to be trained in efficient ways when it comes to dealing with enemies of the state. The beginning of the clip shows a young Spartan boy killing a wolf in a daring show of strength. There is little struggle, which would supply courage for other aspiring Spartans. In modern times the boy’s success gives the optimism that anyone with proper training can succeed in military situations. Plato would claim he was descended from the gods, or downplay the achievements of the boy as very human, and not ever let on, “that heroes are no better than ordinary human beings” (31). Soldiers were perhaps the only men allowed to sin in this way, but as long as it was controlled by the powers that be, it was justified. It seems that if the thirst for blood was noble in intent and appropriately directed, war is an appropriate activity for rulers of a state to create.

Works Cited
300. “Madness? This is Dethklok”. You Tube, 8 March 2008. Web. 13 July 2009

Plato. “Republic 3.” Classical Literary Criticism. Trans. Penelope Murray and T.S. Dorsch. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. 24-40.

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