Plato uses the metaphor of a sea-faring vessel in which no leadership exists.
While many good navigators exist, they are unable to steer the ship because
other, more power-hungry individuals, assume control, despite their ignorance.
Here, the philosophers are the skilled navigators who never get an opportunity
to lead, due to their distaste for politics. This, of course, is how Plato sees
the city of Athens at this time.
Briefly, this metaphor takes place in a dark cave where everyone is forced to
look at one wall. This wall possesses shadows created by puppets in front on the
sun, which is the backdrop to the scene and illuminates everyone in its grasp.
The sun helps those who feel it to remember the knowledge they have forgotten.
The philosopher is the person who escapes the cave and learns to see objects,
not as shadows, but as they really are. Thus these gifted philosophers
understand true goodness through education and knowledge of the Forms. In this
way, Plato answers the ridicule many philosophers receive for seeming
disconnected from reality. Indeed they are disconnected from the reality of the
shadows- they know a deeper reality-that of the sun.
The monster represents the soul's appetite, which tries to satisfy base desires
(food, sex, money, etc.)
The lion symbolizes the soul's spirit, which seeks honor.
Man is a metaphor for the soul's reasoning capacities, best exemplified by the