Can I ask which translation you are reading? As someone that has become familiar with a couple different translations, I highly recommend the one by Tom Griffith which is edited by G.R.F. Ferrari, and published by Cambridge University Press. They took the Greek text, and translated it into English with a conversational tone in mind. Rather than wallowing in obscurities like many translators of Plato, they focused on adapting it to English as best as they possibly can. I think I payed the minimal price with shipping that you can on Amazon for the text, and from what I have read of it (considering I study the ancient Greek language), it is the best translation out there. Literal Greek translations always run into meaning problems. These guys seemed to have figured it out.
Just so you know, this reading is not my original thought on Plato. I had read it in my Intro to Philo class, and pretty much agreed with the status quo on what it meant and stood for. Then my favorite philosophy professor, happened to enlighten me on what Plato is attempting to do in the Republic
. Its been a while since I have read it so I cannot remember the exact point where they go back to the original argument, but if I remember correctly it is in book VI. Hopefully, by the time you get that far, I will have figured out the exact point, and we can discuss this further.
As far as I can tell, though, Plato never endorsed the Guardian state, but rather used it as a model to try to figure out where injustice enters into a society. I think when he starts talking about the philosopher king, and why they are best suited to rule, is about the time that they revisit what they had started in Book II. The Republic
also then makes even more sense after reading the Theaetetus, the Sophist, and the Statesman
when seen in this light. Otherwise, it almost seems like Plato was rather senile and had no clue as to what he was trying to get at. Whether or not anyone agrees with me, but I think he may have been a little senile by the time he wrote the Laws
. But by that time, democracy had been overthrown in Greece, and Plato was probably rather bitter about the loss of his mentor, and the direction of Athens.