Me and Plato


I’m always struggling with food issues and a few years ago came up with this idea of two horses in a chariot pulling in different directions – please see my poem The Compromise Chariot.

Like there’s one horse that wants to go on the correct, sensible route, but the other is out of control and pulls off in a different direction.  I am the charioteer who has to control them both and achieve some sort of compromise between their needs.

Now I’ve been sorting out books and by chance the other day came across the following regarding the philosopher Plato (429 – 347 BC), in a book called ‘A Classical Education – The stuff you wish you’d been taught at school’ by Caroline Taggart.

 “Plato … considered humans as … beings in whom reason was always fighting to control desire and emotion (he uses the image of the charioteer – reason – struggling to control two horses, one of whom – emotion – will listen to reason while the other – desire – can be restrained only by force.)”

I was amazed by this.  I absolutely swear I wasn’t aware of it and hadn’t ever come across it before.  So I am now rather stunned and proud of myself – because I have independently come up with the same (or a similar) metaphor to a famous philosopher, writing two and a half thousand years ago!  Okay, perhaps it’s rather an obvious idea for a metaphor and I’m sure lots of other people have thought of it too.

But now I feel like there’s a connection between Plato and me!  (I’ll have to look him up – I’m afraid I didn’t get a classical education.)

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