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[599a] they cannot perceive that these are three removes from reality, and easy to produce without knowledge of the truth. For it is phantoms,1 not realities, that they produce. Or is there something in their claim, and do good poets really know the things about which the multitude fancy they speak well?” “We certainly must examine the matter,” he said. “Do you suppose, then, that if a man were able to produce both the exemplar and the semblance, he would be eager to abandon himself to the fashioning of phantoms2 and set this in the forefront [599b] of his life as the best thing he had?” “I do not.” “But, I take it, if he had genuine knowledge of the things he imitates he would far rather devote himself to real things3 than to the imitation of them, and would endeavor to leave after him many noble deeds4 and works as memorials of himself, and would be more eager to be the theme of praise than the praiser.” “I think so,” he said; “for there is no parity in the honor and the gain.” “Let us not, then, demand a reckoning5 from Homer [599c] or any other of the poets on other matters by asking them, if any one of them was a physician and not merely an imitator of a physician's talk, what men any poet, old or new, is reported to have restored to health as Asclepius did, or what disciples of the medical art he left after him as Asclepius did his descendants; and let us dismiss the other arts and not question them about them; but concerning the greatest and finest things of which Homer undertakes to speak, wars and generalship6 [599d] and the administration of cities and the education of men, it surely is fair to question him and ask, ‘Friend Homer, if you are not at the third remove from truth and reality in human excellence, being merely that creator of phantoms whom we defined as the imitator, but if you are even in the second place and were capable of knowing what pursuits make men better or worse in private or public life, tell us what city was better governed owing to you,7 even as Lacedaemon was because of Lycurgus,8 and many other cities [599e] great and small because of other legislators. But what city credits you with having been a good legislator and having benefited them? Italy and Sicily say this of Charondas and we of Solon.9 But who says it of you?’ Will he be able to name any?” “I think not,” said Glaucon; “at any rate none is mentioned even by the Homerids themselves.” “Well, then,

1 Cf. on 598 B.

2 Cf. 598 B.

3 Cf. Petit de Julleville, Hist. lit. francaise vii. p. 233, on the poet Lamartine's desire to be a practical statesman, and ibid.: “Quand on m'apprendrait que le divin Homère a refusé les charges municipales de Smyrne ou de Colophon, je ne croirais jamais qu'il eût pu mieux mériter de la Grèce en administrant son bourg natal qu'en composant l’Iliade et l’Odyssée.

4 But Cf. Symp. 209 D.

5 For the challenge to the poet to specify his knowledge Cf. Ion 536 E f.

6 Cf. Ion 541 A f.

7 Cf. Gorg. 515 B, Laches 186 B.

8 Cf. Laws 630 D, 632 D, 858 E, Symp. 209 D, Phaedr. 258 B, Minos 318 C, Herod. i. 65-66, Xen.Rep. Lac. 1. 2 and passim,Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus.

9 Cf. Symp. 209 D, Phaedr. 258 B, 278 C, Charm. 155 A, 157 E, Prot. 343 A, Tim. 20 E ff., Herod. i. 29 ff. and 86, ii. 177, v. 113, Aristot.Ath. Pol. v. ff., Diog. Laert. i. 45 ff., Plutarch, Life of Solon,Freeman, The Work and Life of Solon.

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