Is society based on a lie? In Plato’s Republic, Socrates and a few of his friends act as an interlocutor as they discuss what makes a just city. Socrates wonders how to protect the city from corruption. In this short excerpt from Book III (414-415d), Socrates tells a story of humanity’s origins, the myth of metals, reminiscent of Hesiod’s account of the ages of man. In the Platonic retelling, humans are born from the earth, and into each is mixed either some gold, appropriate for guardians, silver appropriate for forces of law and order or people to act as auxiliaries to the guardians, or iron for craftsmen and laborers. If we can get people to believe this, a noble lie, a royal falsehood, Socrates says, they will more happily play their roles in a well-ordered and stable city.
This Resource Includes the Following Features for the entirety of Plato’s Apology:
- Access to Print and Digital Versions (Adobe Acrobat, Google Apps, & Easel)
- Three-Part Lesson & Pacing Calendar (with Teacher’s Notes)
- Pre-Reading, Reading, and Post-Reading
- Art & Literature Connection: “Three heads,” by Wenceslaus Hollar
- Includes a short text on the theme of the ages of man in literature and art.
- Informational Text: The Noble Lie in Plato’s Republic
- The Myth of Metals from Plato’s Republic (414-415d)
- Full-Text (in the public domain)
- Includes Vocabulary List
- Plus, Historical, Mythological, and Literary references.
- 28-Count Question Bank
- 15 Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts
- Exit Ticket
- Google Forms Assessment
- Note-Taking Template (with student sample)
- Teachers Guide & Answer Keys
- Further Reading: Additional Resources on Reading the Noble Lie in Plato
I recommend using these resources as part of a unit on Plato’s Republic, in a High school English Language Arts classroom or an undergraduate Philosophy course.