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Who is Er?

In The Republic, Plato tells the story of Er, a soldier slain in battle, found amid the decaying corpses of other soldiers. After being hoisted upon a funeral pyre, Er’s body comes back to life, and he begins to tell a great tale: his soul journeyed to the other world, where he saw two openings in the earth, and judges directing a great confluence of humanity. The just were sent onward to heaven and the unjust to the lower way. The judges tell Er he is to be a messenger, and return to earth to relay all that he heard and saw.