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But truly it is not safe to honor with hymns and praises those still living, before they have traversed the whole of life and reached a noble end. All such honors shall be equally shared by women as well as men who have been conspicuous for their excellence. As to the songs and the dances, this is the fashion in which they should be arranged. Among the compositions of the ancients there exist many fine old pieces of music, and likewise dances, from which we may select without scruple for the constitution we are founding such as are fitting and proper. [802b] To examine these and make the selection, we shall choose out men not under fifty years of age; and whichever of the ancient songs are approved we shall adopt, but whichever fail to reach our standard, or are altogether unsuitable, we shall either reject entirely or revise and remodel. For this purpose we shall call in the advice of poets and musicians, and make use of their poetical ability, without, however, trusting to their tastes or their wishes, [802c] except in rare instances; and by thus expounding the intentions of the lawgiver, we shall organize to his satisfaction dancing, singing, and the whole of choristry. In truth, every unregulated musical pursuit becomes, when brought under regulation, a thousand times better, even when no honeyed strains are served up: all alike provide pleasure.1 For if a man has been reared from childhood up to the age of steadiness and sense in the use of music that is sober and regulated, then he detests the opposite kind whenever he hears it, and [802d] calls it “vulgar”; whereas if he has been reared in the common honeyed kind of music, he declares the opposite of this to be cold and unpleasing. Hence, as we said just now, in respect of the pleasure or displeasure they cause neither kind excels the other; where the superiority lies is in the fact that the one kind always makes those who are reared in it better, the other worse.

Finely spoken!

Further, it will be right for the lawgiver to set apart suitable songs for males and females by making a rough division of them; and he must necessarily adapt them to harmonies and rhythms, [802e] for it would be a horrible thing for discord to exist between theme and tune, meter and rhythm, as a result of providing the songs with unsuitable accompaniments. So the lawgiver must of necessity ordain at least the outline of these. And while it is necessary for him to assign both words and music for both types of song as defined by the natural difference of the two sexes, he must also clearly declare wherein the feminine type consists. Now we may affirm that what is noble and of a manly tendency is masculine, while that which inclines rather to decorum and sedateness is to be regarded rather as feminine both in law and in discourse.

1 i.e. a “regulated” style of music pleases the educated just as much as the other sort pleases the uneducated. Cp. Plat. Laws 658e.

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