Ancient Greek Influences: Plato's Allegory of the Cave


Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Plato wrote this allegory in his works, The Republic VII.514A - 521B. The analogy is set as a story told by his teacher/mentor, Socrates. Everything Plato writes is presented in this way because he has said that all he writes is everything Socrates has told, there isn't any evidence to prove this neither is there any evidence to say otherwise.



  • There's a cave, in the cave there are prisoners who have been there since birth, chained from their ankles to their neck. They are unable to look left or right or behind them, only forward.
  • In front of them is a wall which shows them the shadows, behind them is a large flame.
  • Between the prisoners and the flame is a walkway.
  • On the walkway the puppetters place objects such as vases and chairs, and make noises. The flame causes a shadow of these objects to be displayed on the wall in front of the prisoners.
  • The prisoners believe the noises are coming from the shadows - they believe the shadows are reality. They would play a game in which they had to guess what would be shown next.
  • One prisoner was granted freedom, however he was hesitant to leave.
  • The prison guards dragged him out the cave very painfully.
  • When the (now free) prisoner reached the outside, he opened his eyes however the light of the sun hurt his eyes and he closed them again. They were not adapted to the outside.
  • Slowly the prisoner opened his eyes


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