Plato’s Republic probably one of the titular titles anyone thinks of when they contemplate ancient philosophy—and for good reason. Unlike contemporaries such as Zeno and Aristotle, Plato’s theories of forms and intense commitment to a political meritocracy still have meaning and application, even over two thousand years after they were written. And unlike even more “modern” philosophers like Kant or Mill, Plato’s political and ethical theories are startlingly modern and mostly devoid of unsavory biases like apologetics for colonialism or musings on the inherent inferiority of the female sex. Plato’s Republic is a masterwork of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. Any inspiring philosopher really ought to have this title under his or her belt—not only for posterity, but also because it truly is good enough to stand the test of the millennia solely on its own merits.— Jennie
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. It is Plato's best-known work, and has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically. In the book's dialogue, Socrates discusses with various Athenians and foreigners about the meaning of justice and whether the just man is happier than the unjust man. They consider the natures of existing regimes and then propose a series of different, hypothetical cities in comparison, culminating in Kallipolis, a hypothetical city-state ruled by a philosopher king. They also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the role of the philosopher and of poetry in society.