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That is beyond a doubt.

How then shall we encourage them to take readily to singing? Shall we not pass a law that, in the first place, no children under eighteen may touch wine at all, teaching that it is wrong to pour fire upon fire either in body or in soul, before they set about tackling their real work, and thus guarding against the excitable disposition of the young? And next, we shall rule that the young man under thirty may take wine in moderation, [666b] but that he must entirely abstain from intoxication and heavy drinking. But when a man has reached the age of forty, he may join in the convivial gatherings and invoke Dionysus, above all other gods, inviting his presence at the rite (which is also the recreation) of the elders, which he bestowed on mankind as a medicine potent against the crabbedness of old age, that thereby we men may renew our youth, and that, through forgetfulness of care, the temper of our souls [666c] may lose its hardness and become softer and more ductile, even as iron when it has been forged in the fire. Will not this softer disposition, in the first place, render each one of them more ready and less ashamed to sing chants and “incantations” (as we have often called them), in the presence, not of a large company of strangers, but of a small number of intimate friends?

Yes! much more ready.

So then, for the purpose of inducing them [666d] to take a share in our singing, this plan would not be altogether unseemly.

By no means.

What manner of song will the men raise? Will it not, evidently, be one that suits their own condition in every case?

Of course.

What song, then, would suit godlike men? Would a choric song1?

At any rate, Stranger, we and our friends here would be unable to sing any other song than that which we learnt by practice in choruses.

Naturally; for in truth you never attained to [666e] the noblest singing. For your civic organization is that of an army rather than that of city-dwellers, and you keep your young people massed together like a herd of colts at grass: none of you takes his own colt, dragging him away from his fellows, in spite of his fretting and fuming, and puts a special groom in charge of him, and trains him by rubbing him down and stroking him and using all the means proper to child-nursing, that so he may turn out not only a good soldier,

1 i.e. a song suited for singing by a chorus at a festival or other public occasion.

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