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[812a] Here and herewith let me end my homily concerning writing-masters and writings.

Judged by our original intention, Stranger, I certainly do not think that we have diverged from the line of argument we intended; but about the matter as a whole it is hard, no doubt, to be sure whether or not we are right.

That, Clinias, (as we have often said) will probably become clearer of itself1 when we arrive at the end of our whole exposition concerning laws. [812b]

Very true.

After the writing-master, must we not address the lyre-master next?


When assigning to the lyre-masters their proper duties in regard to the teaching and general training in these subjects, we must, as I think, bear in mind our previous declarations.2

Declarations about what?

We said, I fancy, that the sixty-year-old singers of hymns to Dionysus ought to be exceptionally keen of perception [812c] regarding rhythms and harmonic compositions, in order that when dealing with musical representations of a good kind or a bad, by which the soul is emotionally affected, they may be able to pick out the reproductions of the good kind and of the bad, and having rejected the latter, may produce the other in public, and charm the souls of the children by singing them, and so challenge them all to accompany them in acquiring virtue by means of these representations.

Very true. [812d]

So, to attain this object, both the lyre-master and his pupil must use the notes of the lyre, because of the distinctness of its strings, assigning to the notes of the song notes in tune with them;3 but as to divergence of sound and variety in the notes of the harp, when the strings sound the one tune and the composer of the melody another, or when there results a combination of low and high notes, of slow and quick time, of sharp and grave, [812e] and all sorts of rhythmical variations are adapted to the notes of the lyre,—no such complications should be employed in dealing with pupils who have to absorb quickly, within three years, the useful elements of music. For the jarring of opposites with one another impedes easy learning; and the young should above all things learn easily, since the necessary lessons imposed upon them are neither few nor small,—which lessons our discourse will indicate in time as it proceeds. So let our educator regulate these matters in the manner stated. As regards the character of the actual tunes and words which the choir-masters ought to teach,

1 Cp. Plat. Laws 799d.

2 Plat. Laws 664e., Plat. Laws 679a.

3 i.e. the notes of the instrument must be in accord with those of the singer's voice. “The tune, as composed by the poet, is supposed to have comparatively few notes, to be in slowish time, and low down in the register; whereas the complicated variation, which he is condemning, has many notes, is in quick time, and high up in the register.” (England.)

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