Reflections on the Roots of Plato's Republic And the Emergence of the Just State
In 399 B.C., Plato, at the age of 28, left Athens after the death of his mentor Socrates and traveled to Egypt. There is no historical data as to where he went in Egypt, who he met, or what he learned. This article traces Plato's footsteps in Egypt suggesting that he studied for an unknown period of time at the Greek Oracle of Siwa, North Africa, which served as a famous center of Egyptian mythology. The Oracle which still exists was continually frequented by famous Greek philosophers and was mentioned by Herodotus at least 28 times in volume II alone of the History of Herodotus. This article further presents a unique symmetry between the 3000 year old tribal form of government that still exists in the oasis and is supported by a series of urf(traditional) laws numerous of which were echoed in The Republic soon after Plato returned from Egypt. The unnoticed symmetry existed in at least seven normative and juristical areas: a tri-tier social stratification model; justice and communitarianism; the philosopher king ideal; disregard of democracy; the idea of the Polis; the treatment of women; and the ideal of the good.The reader should be reminded that this article does in no manner imply that Plato plagiarized what he had heard and seen in Siwa. Far from being the truth. This article suggests that Plato’s learning in Siwa strongly reinforced his original thoughts and convinced him that The Republic was not only workable but coincides with his ultimate theory of governance. The before mentioned information was discovered during a field study by the author in 2000 as a part of a Faculty Development Leave. The purpose of the previous study was to examine crime and justice in the remote locations in North Africa, one which Herodotus mentioned numerous times as documented in Rawlinson (1885) The Histories of Herodotus.