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[660a] and drinks that are pleasant, but unwholesome nutriment in the opposite, so that they may form the right habit of approving the one kind and detesting the other. Similarly in dealing with the poet, the good legislator will use noble and laudable phrases to persuade him—and, failing persuasion, he will compel him—to portray by his rhythms the gestures, and by his harmonies the tunes, of men who are temperate, courageous, and good in all respects, and thereby to compose poems aright. [660b]

In Heaven's name, Stranger, do you believe that that is the way poetry is composed nowadays in other States? So far as my own observation goes, I know of no practices such as you describe except in my own country and in Lacedaemon; but I do know that novelties are always being introduced in dancing and all other forms of music, which changes due not to the laws, but to disorderly tastes and these are so far from being constantly uniform and stable—like the Egyptian ones you describe—that they are never for a moment uniform. [660c]

Nobly spoken, O Clinias! If, however, I seemed to you to say that the practices you refer to are in use now, very likely our mistake arose from my own failure to express my meaning clearly; probably I stated my own desires with regard to music in such a way that you imagined me to be stating present facts. To denounce things that are beyond remedy and far gone in error is a task that is by no means pleasant; but at times it is unavoidable. And now that you hold the same opinion on this subject, come, tell me, do you assert that such practices are more general among the Cretans [660d] and the Lacedaemonians than among the other Greeks?


Suppose now that they were to become general among the rest also,—should we say that the method of procedure then would be better than it is now?

The improvement would be immense, if things were done as they are in my country and in that of our friends here, and as, moreover, you yourself said just now they ought to be done.

Come now, let us come to an understanding on this matter. In all [660e] education and music in your countries, is not this your teaching? You oblige the poets to teach that the good man, since he is temperate and just, is fortunate and happy, whether he be great or small, strong or weak, rich or poor; whereas, though he be richer even “than Cinyras or Midas,”1 if he be unjust, he is a wretched man and lives a miserable life. Your poet says—if he speaks the truth—“I would spend no word on the man, and hold him in no esteem,” who without justice performs or acquires all the things accounted good; and again he describes how the just man

1 Tyrtaeus xii. 6; see Bk. i. 629. Cinyras was a fabled king of Cyprus, son of Apollo and priest of Aphrodite. Midas, king of Phrygia, was noted for his wealth.

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