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[664a] of how one can, if he tries, persuade the souls of the young of anything, so that the only question he has to consider in his inventing is what would do most good to the State, if it were believed; and then he must devise all possible means to ensure that the whole of the community constantly, so long as they live, use exactly the same language, so far as possible, about these matters, alike in their songs, their tales, and their discourses. If you, however, think otherwise, I have no objection to your arguing in the opposite sense. [664b]

Neither of us, I think, could possibly argue against your view.

Our next subject I must handle myself. I maintain that all the three choirs1 must enchant the souls of the children, while still young and tender, by rehearsing all the noble things which we have already recounted, or shall recount hereafter; and let this be the sum of them: in asserting that one and the same life is declared by the gods to be both most pleasant and most just, we shall not only be saying what is most true, [664c] but we shall also convince those who need convincing more forcibly than we could by any other assertion.

We must assent to what you say.

First, then, the right order of procedure will be for the Muses' choir of children to come forward first to sing these things with the utmost vigor and before the whole city; second will come the choir of those under thirty, invoking Apollo Paian2 as witness of the truth of what is said, and praying him of grace to persuade the youth. [664d] The next singers will be the third choir, of those over thirty and under sixty; and lastly, there were left those who, being no longer able to uplift the song, shall handle the same moral themes in stories and by oracular speech.

Whom do you mean, Stranger, by these third choristers. For we do not grasp very clearly what you intend to convey about them.

Yet they are in fact the very people to whom most of our previous discourse was intended to lead up. [664e]

We are still in the dark: try to explain yourself more clearly still.

At the commencement of our discourse we said, if we recollect, that since all young creatures are by nature fiery, they are unable to keep still either body or voice, but are always crying and leaping in disorderly fashion; we said also that none of the other creatures attains a sense of order, bodily and vocal, and that this is possessed by man alone; and that the order

1 At Spartan festivals it was customary to have three choirs—of boys, young men, and older men.

2 i.e. “the Healer.” Cp. the medicinal sense of ἐπᾴδειν, “enchant,” in B4 above. Music is to be a medicine of the soul.

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