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Rhetoric of “The Myth of the Charioteer” by Plato

The myth of the Charioteer by Plato is the part of his dialogue Phaedrus. Being presented as the Chariot Allegory, Plato aims to describe the nature of human soul using rhetoric. The main idea of this myth is to show how three issues in human soul are related. Therefore, human soul comprises of three main characters, the charioteer and two horses. The charioteer is a person who guides these two horses. The first horse is noble while another one is its opposition.

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The main idea of this myth is to show the way human soul reaches to enlightenment. Going around a circle, the charioteer directs horses. If he is unable to cope with the horse, he is unable to see the world of the forms in all its beauty. If the charioteer is able to make sure that a noble horse dominates and a chariot drives a correct way, human soul is able to see the whole beauty of the world brought by enlightenment. Thus, Plato says that depending on the charioteer ability to drive the chariot, a person may be returned to the earth in one of the following postures.

Those who managed to reach the highest level of enlightenment return to the earth as philosophers, lovers of beauty and culture, or people dedicated to love. The inability of the charioteer to rein the black horse in the whole extend results in soul expression in civic leaders.

The lower level of enlightenment makes a possibility to become a politician, an estate-manager, or a businessman. Then, bodily health specialists come. They are followed by prophets or mystery cult participants. Further, poets or imitative artists come. Craftsmen or farmers are the next in the raw. The prelist stage of enlightenment is occupied by sophists or demagogues. Finally, if a charioteer is unable to guide a noble horse and an opposite one leads, a human soul may become a tyrant. This classification has nothing in common with the theory of reincarnation. Plato just wanted to show the level of degradation in case a charioteer is unable to cope with his task.

Considering the three characters of human soul in detail, it is possible to stress the following issues. Each of these characters performs particular roles. The first character is the charioteer. He is responsible for necessary balance between two horses and the choice of the necessary direction. He is also called as the lover of wisdom. The second character which plays a significant role in human souls is the first horse. This horse is noble one, and it is considered as the lover of honor.

The second horse is the lover of lust, the direct opposition of the first horse. Therefore, the ability of these three characters to cooperate in one soul creates a personality who either reaches enlightenment or does not do it. Starting a detailed analysis of the charioteer, it should be stated that he is responsible for directs two horses, he tries to reason the black one to follow the white one. Being the reason, the wisdom of the soul, the charioteer is responsible for the way a chariot drives.

The first horse is the one which always does correct actions. The behavior of the first hors as a leading one is a guarantee of enlightenment. If this horse goes ahead, all the actions done by a person are directed at common good. The situation changes dramatically if the leading positions are occupied by the second horse. Having negative nature, this horse drives a person in a wrong way, making incorrect actions and causing many problems to individuality.

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Each of these characters plays an important role in life of a person. A charioteer has to understand which horse of a noble one and which one is opposite in breed. This is a very complicated decision as depending on it person’s future decisions are going to be made. This is the role of the charioteer. He has to understand which horse is noble to oppress all the decisions and actions made by another horse. This world is full of both good people and their oppositions. It happens in two reasons. First, the charioteer is unable to direct the noble horse to the actions and the opposite one managed to occupy the leading positions.

Second, the charioteer was unable to understand from the very beginning which horse was the noble one. Human soul is born free from understanding of the world. The environment affects horses and the charioteer who is to decide which way to choose. Each horse is born with particular features and each of them understands their actions as the only correct. Trying to become the leaders each of them wants to make the things as good as possible.

Reading this myth and trying to understand its meaning, the idea of horses’ necessity is questioned. Why was it necessary to create the source which was brought up opposite to noble one? Was it really necessary to make a person live in constant struggle? The answer to this question is not easy as it may seem. These two horses are the balance, the balance between the good and the bad. A person cannot exist in the world where common good is the only possible state of soul. In this case people would be unable to distinguish that good, they would have no other option for comparison. In other words, people would never know that good is good and they would stop doing it.

As a result, they would never reach enlightenment. In the opposite possible world the situation is different as the negative emotions are going to dominate which contradicts the very nature of enlightenment. Therefore, human soul should have these two horses for balance and the wisdom represented by the charioteer is to be presented as well. It is essential to keep in mind that only the correct actions and strong will of the charioteer are able to make sure that a person may reach enlightenment.

The importance of enlightenment cannot be overestimated as this is the only way to get the highest satisfaction from life. Those people who have managed to reach enlightenment are able to see the world in its full length while those whose opposite horses dominate can see just the part of it. Therefore, human soul has the correct number of characters and only strengthening the wisdom and working on its power one is able to reach the main reason of leaving. Plato shows that the whole life of a human soul is based waling in a circle. And only the soul which has managed to reach enlightenment is able to see its whole beauty.

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"Rhetoric of "The Myth of the Charioteer" by Plato." StudyCorgi, 24 Dec. 2020,

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Rhetoric of "The Myth of the Charioteer" by Plato." December 24, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Rhetoric of "The Myth of the Charioteer" by Plato'. 24 December.

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