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[657a] not loosely but literally 10,000) are no whit better or worse than the productions of today, but wrought with the same art.

A marvellous state of affairs!

Say rather, worthy in the highest degree of a statesman and a legislator. Still, you would find in Egypt other things that are bad. This, however, is a true and noteworthy fact, that as regards music it has proved possible for the tunes which possess a natural correctness to be enacted by law and permanently consecrated. To effect this would be the task of a god or a godlike man,—even as in Egypt they say that the tunes preserved throughout [657b] all this lapse of time are the compositions of Isis. Hence, as I said, if one could by any means succeed in grasping no principle of correctness in tune, one might then with confidence reduce them to legal form and prescription, since the tendency of pleasure and pain to indulge constantly in fresh music has, after all, no very great power to corrupt choric forms that are consecrated, by merely scoffing at them as antiquated. In Egypt, at any rate, it seems to have had no such power of corrupting,—in fact, quite the reverse. [657c]

Such would evidently be the case, judging from what you now say.

May we confidently describe the correct method in music and play, in connection with choristry, in some such terms as this: we rejoice whenever we think we are prospering, and, conversely, whenever we rejoice we think we are prospering? Is not that so?

Yes, that is so.

Moreover, when in this state of joy we are unable to keep still.

True. [657d]

Now while our young men are fitted for actually dancing themselves, we elders regard ourselves as suitably employed in looking on at them, and enjoying their sport and merrymaking, now that our former nimbleness is leaving us; and it is our yearning regret for this that causes us to propose such contests for those who can best arouse in us through recollection, the dormant emotions of youth.

Very true.

Thus we shall not dismiss as entirely groundless the opinion now [657e] commonly expressed about merrymakers,—namely, that he who best succeeds in giving us joy and pleasure should be counted the most skilful and be awarded the prize. For, seeing that we give ourselves up on such occasions of recreation, surely the highest honor and the prize of victory, as I said just now, should be awarded to the performer who affords the greatest enjoyment to the greatest number. Is not this the right view,

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