I just wanted to dash off a quick note here as I work my way through Book II of the Republic. The question presented is whether it is better to be just or unjust. Socrates argues that it is better to be just and various people argue in opposition. The second main challenger is arguing the two limiting cases of the perfectly unjust man and the perfectly just man. Through a device that is not quite perfect, he assigns humility to the just man. Thus: the perfectly unjust man would take advantage of people in his business dealing, would sleep with other men’s wives, and would be universally loved as a just man; the perfectly just would do worse in business, presumably sleep only with his wife-although I don’t think that was spelled out-and would be universally loathed by society because they would keep his just deed secret.
But then, the speakers brother pipes up asking Socrates why he isn’t going to ask about the most important difference: the way they will each be treated by the Gods. The brother goes so far as to discuss how the just will go to the underworld and lie on couches at a feast while the unjust will be tormented in Hades. I’ll have to make that a cliff hanger because that’s as far as I got today. So, I don’t know how Socrates deals with this.
That said, I cannot remember anything in the Old Testament that even comes close to this level of do good, get good in the after life. I’ve heard it said that Old Testament Hebrews did not believe in after life at all, which would obviously explain it. Now, most notably Matthew 25 makes this explicit argument; but, Matthew 25 was written about 500 years after The Republic and in by Christians who were at least emersed in Helenistic culture. Curious, yes?