44 pages 1 hour read


The Republic

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | BCE

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Chapters 7-8Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 7 Summary: “Women, Children, and Warfare”

What is the role of women in the ideal community? Socrates argues that they should be able to occupy the same positions as men provided they have the necessary attributes. However, Glaucon objects that “men and women have different natures” and, as such, they would not be able to occupy the same roles (165). Socrates’ retorts that while men and women may have different superficial, physical, attributes they are potentially equal in qualities relevant for certain jobs. For instance, some women may be equally skilled to men in the arts of medicine or carpentry. This means that those women who are suited to the task, should live alongside the male guardians. They should have the same physical and cultural education and participate in warfare.

The discussion then turns to sexual relations. Socrates argues that there is to be “no such thing as private marriage between these women and these men: all the women are to be shared among all the men” (170). Equally all their children will be held in common, with no child being able to identify their biological parents. However, these rules do not licence a sexual free-for-all. The guardians will not simply be able to have sex with whomever they want whenever they want.