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[606a] “O yes,1” said I, “if you would consider it in this way.” “In what way?” “If you would reflect that the part of the soul that in the former case, in our own misfortunes,2 was forcibly restrained, and that has hungered for tears and a good cry3 and satisfaction, because it is its nature to desire these things, is the element in us that the poets satisfy and delight, and that the best element in our nature, since it has never been properly educated by reason or even by habit, then relaxes its guard4 over the plaintive part, [606b] inasmuch as this is contemplating the woes of others and it is no shame to it to praise and pity another who, claiming to be a good man, abandons himself to excess in his grief; but it thinks this vicarious pleasure is so much clear gain,5 and would not consent to forfeit it by disdaining the poem altogether. That is, I think, because few are capable of reflecting that what we enjoy in others will inevitably react upon ourselves.6 For after feeding fat7 the emotion of pity there, it is not easy to restrain it in our own sufferings.” [606c] “Most true,” he said. “Does not the same principle apply to the laughable,8 namely,that if in comic representations,9 or for that matter in private talk,10 you take intense pleasure in buffooneries that you would blush to practise yourself, and do not detest them as base, you are doing the same thing as in the case of the pathetic? For here again what your reason, for fear of the reputation of buffoonery, restrained in yourself when it fain would play the clown, you release in turn, and so, fostering its youthful impudence, let yourself go so far that often ere you are aware you become yourself [606d] a comedian in private.” “Yes, indeed,” he said. “And so in regard to the emotions of sex and anger, and all the appetites and pains and pleasures of the soul which we say accompany all our actions,11 the effect of poetic imitation is the same. For it waters12 and fosters these feelings when what we ought to do is to dry them up, and it establishes them as our rulers when they ought to be ruled, to the end that we may be better and happier men instead of worse and more miserable.” “I cannot deny it,” said he. [606e] “Then, Glaucon,” said I, “when you meet encomiasts of Homer who tell us that this poet has been the educator of Hellas,13 and that for the conduct and refinement14 of human life he is worthy of our study and devotion, and that we should order our entire lives by the guidance of this poet,

1 Cf. Vol. I. p. 509, note b, on 473 E.

2 Cf. Isoc.Panegyr. 168 for a different application.

3 This contains a hint of one possible meaning of the Aristotelian doctrine of κάθαρσις, Poet. 1449 b 27-28. Cf.κουφίζεσθαι μεθ᾽ ἡδονῆςPol. 1342 a 14, and my review of Finsler, “Platon u. d. Aristot. Poetik,”Class. Phil. iii. p. 462. But the tone of the Platonic passage is more like that of Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies:“And the human nature of us imperatively requiring awe and sorrow of some kind, for the noble grief we should have borne with our fellows, and the pure tears we should have wept with them, we gloat over the pathos of the police court and gather the night dew of the grave.”

4 This anticipates the idea of the “censor” in modern psychology.

5 Cf.τῇ δ᾽ ἀσφαλείᾳ κερδανεῖςEurip.Herc. Fur. 604, which is frequently misinterpreted; Herod. viii. 60. 3.

6 For the psychology Cf. Laws 656 B and on 385 C-D.

7 Cf. 442 A.

8 Cf. Vol. I. p. 211, note f, La Bruyère, Des Ouvrages de l'esprit(Oeuvres, ed. M. G. Servois, i. p. 137): “D’où vient que l'on rit si librement au théâtre, et que l'on a honte d'y pleurer?”

9 In the Laws 816 D-E Plato says that the citizens must witness such performances since the serious cannot be learned without the laughable, nor anything without its opposite; but they may not take part in them. That is left to slaves and foreigners. Cf. also Vol. I. p. 239, note B, on 396 E.

10 I.e. as opposed to public performances. Cf. Euthydem. 305 Dἐν δὲ ἰδίοις λόγοις, Theaet. 177 B, Soph. 232 Cἔν γε ταῖς ἰδίαις συνουσίαις, and Soph. 222 Cπροσομιλητικήν with Quintil. iii. 4. 4. Wilamowitz, Antigonos von Karystos, p. 285, fantastically says that it means prose and refers to Sophron. He compares 366 E. But see Laws 935 B-C.

11 Cf. 603 C.

12 Cf. 550 B.

13 Isocrates, Panegyr. 159, says Homer was given a place in education because he celebrated those who fought against the barbarians. Cf. also Aristoph.Frogs 1034 ff.

14 The same conjunction is implied in Protagoras's teaching, Protag. 318 E and 317 B.

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