The Republic of Plato
The Republic of Plato translated with introduction and notes by Francis MacDonald Cornford (published by Oxford University Press, London) is in actuality a book about political thought. The author in the preface explains the intention to as accurately as possible in modern English give this book's readers the Republic written by Plato plus notes for a better understanding.
For those unfamiliar with Plato, like Socrates, he was a well known philosopher. He was born in Athens, Greece in 427 or 428 b.c. Plato was an Athenian his entire life and saw many changes including the taking over of Sparta thereby ending the Democracy the city of Athens had as a political system. Plato had the honor of studying under Socrates as one of his students and learned much from Socrates. He lived at the end of "The Golden Age" in Athens. Plato had family, friends and in his own right was popular. The people of Athens took him seriously, respected him in his field of Philosophy and what is regarded today as Political Thought.
The Republic is Plato's ideal of a political system that enhances a society, bettering mankind in the process. Plato's theoretical model for a republic, a representative form of government, was the first. This particular piece written by Plato was known by the Romans who implemented a version of Plato's ideal republic into a working representative type of government. The republic Plato describes is dissimilar in comparison to the republic system we have in the United States. Plato's work was new and innovative for his time.
The Republic of Plato notes from the author were extremely helpful with understanding the classical Grecian mentality, and "the where" Plato was actually leading his audience. He was definitely a man of his time period. Compared to us today, one would call his Republic idea conservative, but like Socrates and Aristotle, Plato for his time was in actuality a liberal. His work portrays a new political thought and government model, something that had not been thought of before, and in Plato's day could be viewed as a utopia.
The Republic of Plato is written on the college level. As is the case with most Political Thought books, it is written in a dry, non-fiction, slow paced, academic style. Plato was long winded. This was common and expected in his time frame. Back then, it was believed that a great philosopher could and should captivate his audience for hours.
While reading this book I had to remind myself that the ancient world of Plato preferred exactly what he delivered. They did not have the advantage of our fast paced televised media. Their world ran at a much slower pace. His audience wanted the time consuming Philosophy and Political Thought oration. They wanted Plato to extensively share what he wrote.
For those interested in the Classical Grecian Period, who desire to know how men from this period in time thought, I highly recommend this book. It teaches exactly that. For those who desire to know the ancestor of what Political Scientists refer to as "modern Political Thought", this book is a must read. Francis MacDonald Cornford did an exemplary piece with The Republic of Plato.
Other works by Plato include Euthyphro, Apology and Crito.