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In Book VIII, Socrates mapped out the digression of the city from the best regime into the worst, and he also showed how the citizens in those regimes reflected a similar digression. “Therefore, if there are five arrangements of cities, there would also be five for the soul of private men”, and it could be said that their digressions must originate from the same place (544e). Keeping in mind that earlier in The Republic Socrates uses the city as an analogy to the soul, we know that whatever happens in the city might also reflect on the happenings of the soul. Socrates claimed that regimes arise “from the dispositions of the men in the cities, which tipping the scale as it were, draw the rest along with them” (544e). Therefore, if the dispositions of these men are corrupted, then the city will be as well. Socrates explained how the men in the city went from lovers of wisdom and virtue to that of honor, wealth, freedom, and then love. In turn, we saw how their degradation corresponded with the city becoming an aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, or tyranny. If Socrates first considered “the various dispositions in the regimes before considering them in the private men”, then we must consider the soul of each of those men in order to track down where the descent of these regimes truly begins (545b).

From what had been established already, the city and the soul are reflections of one another, the city reflecting on the outside what is happening inside the man. In Book IX of The Republic, we can begin to see the correlations between the city, the man, and the soul. If the city is simply the magnified version of the soul, then that means “a city is divided into three forms, so the soul of every single man also is divided in three” (580d). Back in Book V, we remember that the city was separated into three divisions: the guardians, auxiliaries, and craftsmen. The guardians are the smallest class, ruling as philosopher-kings, and represent reason within the city. Then the auxiliaries are the soldiers and physical guardians of the city and represent spirit. The craftsmen are the largest division of the city, consist of farmers, shoemakers, and bakers, and represent human appetites. Within the soul, there is the part with which “a human being learns, and another that with which he comes spirited; as for the third, because of its many forms, we had no peculiar name to call it by… for we called it the desiring part” (580d-e). According to Socrates, these three parts rule in varying degrees in different men. The three types of men he finds are wisdom-loving, victory-loving, and gain-loving. Reason, spirit, and appetite are embodied within the city as the guardians, auxiliaries, and craftsmen, but now in an individual, these three levels take on different appearances.

Reflecting the original three levels of city, the souls begins to look like a human, a lion, and a many-headed beast. To the man who glorifies injustice,  “he’s affirming nothing other than that is is profitable for him to feast and make strong the manifold beast and the lion and what’s connected with the lion, while starving the human being and making him weak” (588e-589a). An unjust soul is ruled by his appetites, his gain-loving part, and entices the spirited and victory-loving part to fulfill these desires. When either the beast or the lion “gets control, the result is that it can’t discover its own pleasures and compels the others to pursue and alien and untrue pleasure” (587a).The unjust man begins to look like a tyrant. He is weak, slave to his earthly desires, and having made the human part of his soul weak, he will never experience true pleasures and lead a miserable life. However, the “most just man is happiest, and he is that man who is kingliest and is king of himself” (580b-c). When the human and wisdom-loving part of the soul is in control, the man will be master over his bestial parts. The king will be like “a farmer, nourishing and cultivating the tame heads, while hindering the growth of the savage ones–making the lion’s nature an ally” (589b). From this, It appears that the type of man and the type of city both depend on which part of the soul is in control.

The degeneration of each city reflects the worsening of its citizens. In Book VIII, we saw how these men at any time acted ideologically similar to the type of regime they lived in. Whether their souls were ruled by the human, lion, or bestial part determined how these men in turn ruled their city. Socrates claimed “the same disease as that which arose in the oligarchy and destroyed it, arises also in this regime”, but why would this ‘disease’ that destroyed a regime not also be present in the soul if Socrates made the city analogous to the soul (563e)? The city itself went from an aristocracy all the way to a tyranny, starting as a city of wisdom-lovers to a city filled with eros and desire. The natural decay of these cities appears to start from the turmoil within the soul. We can imagine that if the human and calculating part of the soul mingled too far with the lion and spirited part, then there would be a shift from wisdom to honor, much like the shift from an aristocracy to a timocracy. This disease seems to occur when the soul stops to “mind its own business and be just and, in particular, enjoy its own pleasures” and begins to intermingle with the other levels of the soul (586e). The excess of these pleasures marks the downfall of the soul, then the man, and finally the city, and “really, anything that is done to excess is likely to provoke a correspondingly great change in the opposite direction–in season, in plants, in bodies, and in particular, not least in regimes (563e).

If we were to align the types of cities to the types of men within those cities, we might be able to track down when the human, the lion, or the beast level of the soul oversteps its boundaries. Starting with an aristocracy to a timocracy, we can see where the corruption of the soul starts when the honor-loving and lion part of the soul wanted more recognition for the man’s good deeds and a boost to the man’s ego. The timocratic man slowly became an oligarchic man who “is in his turn third from the kingly man, if we count the aristocratic and the kingly man as the same” (587d). The love of money seeps into the timocratic man when the gain-loving and many-headed beast part of the soul wants gold and other reciprocation for the man’s efforts. The oligarchic man within a generation becomes a democratic man because the both the lion and beast overrule the human part of the soul to demand that every level of the city be equal. It was at this point when the other parts of the soul get out of control, that the democratic man learned to live only to appease his bestial appetites and became a tyrannt.

Taking the city to soul analogy seriously, it appears that the corruption of the city had to begin with the corruption of men’s souls. Just as the city had been divided into three levels, the soul consisted of the human, the lion, and the many-headed beast. Whichever level of the soul was in control determined the kind of man one became, whether he was a king or a tyrant. In order to find why the cities had to digress from an aristocracy to a timocracy and so on, we had to investigate the soul the basis of the man and the basis of The Republic.

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