From this link, I've found this

all these women shall be wives in common to all the men, and not one of them shall live privately with any man; the children too should be held in common so that no parent shall know which is his own offspring, and no child shall know his parent.” This belief is associated with a need for eugenics, as “the best men must cohabit with the best women in as many cases as possible and the worst with the worst in the fewest, and that the offspring of the one must be reared and that of the other not, if the flock is to be as perfect as possible.” More pernicious still is his prescription for infanticide: “The offspring of the inferior, and any of those of the other sort who are born defective, they will properly dispose of in secret, so that no one will know what has become of them. That is the condition of preserving the purity of the guardians’ breed.”

Does this block appear in The Republic? Did Plato criticize or reject institution of marriage?

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    There is a "philosophy" stack exchange, where this would be better placed.
    – James K
    Sep 23, 2018 at 19:13
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    @JamesK I think philosophy is more about metaphysics. While Plato is best known as a philosopher, his opinions did touch on politics and social order in general. Since the institution of marriage is currently part of the political discussion, this is on topic.
    – grovkin
    Sep 23, 2018 at 21:22
  • It's politics. Marriage laws are still politically controversial today, and there are still those who wish that people could be bred, (and culled!), just like dogs and horses.
    – agc
    Sep 24, 2018 at 13:46
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    See my answer at philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/55717/… ... Plato was not against "sacred" matrimony and he was firmly intolerant of "licentiousness". Sep 24, 2018 at 19:35
  • Normally I'd vote to reopen this, but since the exact same question was posted to philosophy SE....
    – Fizz
    Sep 25, 2018 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


Plato's rules for marriage and children:

In the "guardian" class, men and women are held in common.

In other classes unions of man (age 25 to 45) and woman (20 to 40) to be decided by the archeons (but under the pretence of unions decided by lottery)

No children to be born outside of these unions. Nor any kind of sex outside of these unions.

Unions to take place at special ceremonies.

Any children that are born outside of state wedlock or to unfit parents are to be killed.

So, for the higher members of his society, he holds that men and women should be held in common. For lower members of society he has a form of marriage, but with couples chosen by the state, not by the families or by the bride and groom.

  • Interesting link to 'The Marriage Laws in Plato's Republic G. M. A. Grube The Classical Quarterly Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1927), pp. 95-99', but 4/5ths of it is behind a jstor login/paywall frontend. A less restricted citation would be better.
    – agc
    Sep 24, 2018 at 13:39
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    Whoa, the author of that article was a very radical person, George M. A. Grube. I would definitely get a second opinion on what Plato is supposed to have claimed in the Republic. Sep 24, 2018 at 17:32
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    ...but he didn't seem to have it wrong, from my reading. Scary stuff--- they openly anticipated the false propaganda that would be required in order to get their utopian vision kicked-off! Sep 24, 2018 at 17:50
  • From further reading, "having wives in common" appears never to be construed as implying "licentiousness" or violating "sacred" matrimony. Guys, this was never written as anything other than State-arranged marriages. Sep 24, 2018 at 19:27

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