Political Revolution

Ancient Greeks: Plato on the Measure of a Man

JoAnnChateau.com - Quotes | Ancient Greeks
Written by JoAnn Chateau

The measure of a man is what he does with power.
~ Plato, The Republic

Plato, (born c. 428/427 bce—died c. 348/347 bce), ancient Greek philosopher, student of Socrates (c. 470–399 bce), teacher of Aristotle (384–322 bce), and founder of the Academy, best known as the author of philosophical works of unparalleled influence.

Building on the demonstration by Socrates that those regarded as experts in ethical matters did not have the understanding necessary for a good human life, Plato introduced the idea that their mistakes were due to their not engaging properly with a class of entities he called forms, chief examples of which were Justice, Beauty, and Equality.” ~ Encyclopaedia Britannica

READ MORE: Plato; Greek Philosopher | Encyclopaedia Britannica

Human nature has not changed over the millennia. The question is, do we learn from history?

When we have a degree of power, which protects us, do we use it to take advantage of others?

That’s one of my thoughts. Care to share what you are thinking?

Ancient Greek Wisdom

About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • I hear you, Robert. It’s almost laughable to compare the direct democracy of tiny city-states with the modern representative democracy in our huge nation-states. In Athens, the electorate consisted exclusively of native, free-born men – so their interests were served and no one else’s. Today, we have an electorate that includes both genders, native-born as well as immigrants – and all social classes. Defining the common good in our democracies today requires a good deal of creativity and elasticity. Yes, he believed in the “philosopher king” – who would rule benevolently – and I interpret that to mean according to the common good. I don’t think humanity has ever witnessed such a philosopher king. Therefore, we need to have checks and balances – that work!

  • I remember reading Plato’s Republic in high school. Its ideals are high, indeed; but, I came away from the book thinking that Plato had a very limited view of democracy and that he believed in a type of benevolent authoritarianism – which I see as an oxymoron.

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