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[670a] for the use of either of these instruments by itself is the mark of the mountebank or the boor. Enough, then, of that matter: now as to ourselves. What we are considering is, not how those of us who are over thirty years old, or beyond fifty, ought not to make use of the Muses, but how they ought to do so. Our argument already indicates, I think, this result from our discussion,—that all men of over fifty that are fit to sing ought to have a training that is better than that of the choric Muse. [670b] For they must of necessity possess knowledge and a quick perception of rhythms and harmonies; else how shall a man know which tunes are correct?

Obviously he cannot know this at all.

It is absurd of the general crowd to imagine that they can fully understand what is harmonious and rhythmical, or the reverse, when they have been drilled to sing to the flute or step [670c] in time; and they fail to comprehend that, in doing each of these things, they do them in ignorance. But the fact is that every tune which has its appropriate elements is correct, but incorrect if the elements are inappropriate.


What then of the man who does not know in the least what the tune's elements are? Will he ever know about any tune, as we said, that it is correct?

There is no possible means of his doing so.

We are now once more, as it appears, discovering the fact that these singers of ours (whom we are now inviting [670d] and compelling, so to say, of their own free will to sing) must almost necessarily be trained up to such a point that every one of them may be able to follow both the steps1 of the rhythms and the chords of the tunes, so that, by observing the harmonies and rhythms, they may be able to select those of an appropriate kind, which it is seemly for men of their own age and character to sing, and may in this wise sing them, and in the singing may not only enjoy innocent pleasure themselves at the moment, but also may serve as leaders to the younger men in their seemly adoption of noble manners. [670e] If they were trained up to such a point, their training would be more thorough than that of the majority, or indeed of the poets themselves. For although it is almost necessary for a poet to have a knowledge of harmony and rhythm, it is not necessary for him to know the third point also—namely, whether the representation is noble or ignoble2; but for our older singers a knowledge of all these three points is necessary,

1 i.e. dance-steps and gestures: “chords” nearly equals “notes,” with which the “steps” should “keep time.”

2 i.e. the composer, as such, is not concerned with the moral (or psychological) effect of the piece.

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