The Role Of Women And Marriage In Socrates' The Republic

1114 words - 4 pages

In his constant quest to find the true meaning of justice and the creation of the ideal city Socrates finds that while many of the element of the city have been properly set forth he forgot to take into account the place women will have in the city and the idea of child-rearing. After some careful discussion about the nature of women and how it would relate to their particular role in the city Socrates and Adeimantus come to the agreement that the women will be assigned their roles in the same manner as the men of the city. This agreement eventually will lead the men to the discussion of marriages and procreation in the city and how it is to be regulated in order to maintain the greater good in the city.
Socrates begins his explanation of marriages in the city by first establishing that all spouses and children in the city be held in common in order to avoid any factions among the people. Then he further goes on to explain that in order to avoid irregular unholy intercourse there will be festivals at set times in the year during which the marriage of couples for intercourse will occur. According to this decree the best women will be “given” to the best and most prestigious men of the city often times in multiples in order to secure there will be more offspring of this caliber. While the process of setting forth or arraigning these marriages will be left to the noblest guardians in order to disguise this fact the distribution of wives will be decided through a serious of games that will lead the ordinary man to believe his wife selection was based solely on chance.

Once the offspring are born according to Socrates they are to taken by the people who are giving the responsibility of child-rearing in the city. The offspring of the good will be sent to a separate section of the city under a close watch of nurses to ensure their health and safety, while the offspring of the worse are simply hidden in a place that is unspeakable in a form of exile. The nurses must also keep a close watch over the mothers nursing the children to be sure that they remain unaware of which children are their own. Socrates maintains that any children produced both by parents outside of their prime or by couples that were not united by the rulers will place any extra burden on the city and will be treated as such.
Socrates set forth that the procreation should only be allowed when the men and women are in there prime to ensure the most viable offspring. Accordingly Socrates says that women are allowed to reproduce between the ages of 20 and 40 while the age range for men is as easily defined they are no longer allowed to produce after the age of 55. After the guardians exit there prime they are no longer required to take part in the pairing rituals and are allowed to have intercourse with whomever they choose besides anyone they are related to. This in it itself is hard to maintain since the children are kept secret from their parents from birth which could lead...

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