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[392a] in our youth great laxity1 in turpitude.” “Most assuredly.” “What type of discourse remains for our definition of our prescriptions and proscriptions?” “We have declared the right way of speaking about gods and daemons and heroes and that other world.” “We have.” “Speech, then, about men would be the remainder.” “Obviously.” “It is impossible for us, my friend, to place this here.2” “Why?” “Because I presume we are going to say that so it is that both poets [392b] and writers of prose speak wrongly about men in matters of greatest moment, saying that there are many examples of men who, though unjust, are happy, and of just men who are wretched, and that there is profit in injustice if it be concealed, and that justice is the other man's good and your own loss; and I presume that we shall forbid them to say this sort of thing and command them to sing and fable the opposite. Don't you think so?” “Nay, I well know it,” he said. “Then, if you admit that I am right, I will say that you have conceded the original point of our inquiry?” [392c] “Rightly apprehended,” he said. “Then, as regards men that speech must be of this kind, that is a point that we will agree upon when we have discovered the nature of justice and the proof that it is profitable to its possessor whether he does or does not appear to be just.” “Most true,” he replied.

“So this concludes the topic of tales.3 That of diction, I take it, is to be considered next. So we shall have completely examined both the matter and the manner of speech.” And Adeimantus said, “I don't understand what [392d] you mean by this.” “Well,” said I, “we must have you understand. Perhaps you will be more likely to apprehend it thus. Is not everything that is said by fabulists or poets a narration of past, present, or future things?” “What else could it be?” he said. “Do not they proceed4 either by pure narration or by a narrative that is effected through imitation,5 or by both?” “This too,” he said, “I still need to have made plainer.” “I seem to be a ridiculous and obscure teacher,6” I said; “so like men who are unable to express themselves [392e] I won't try to speak in wholes7 and universals but will separate off a particular part and by the example of that try to show you my meaning. Tell me. Do you know the first lines if the Iliad in which the poet says that Chryses implored Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that the king was angry and that Chryses,

1 Cf. my note in Class. Phil. vol. xii. (1910) p. 308.

2 Or possibly “determine this at present.” The prohibition which it would beg the question to place here is made explicit in Laws 660 E. Cf. Laws 899 D, and 364 B.

3 λόγων here practically means the matter, and λέξεως, which became a technical term for diction, the manner, as Socrates explains when Adeimantus fails to understand.

4 Cf. Aristotle Poetics 1449 b 27.

5 All art is essentially imitation for Plato and Aristotle. But imitation means for them not only the portrayal or description of visible and tangible things, but more especially the expression of a mood or feeling, hence the (to a modern) paradox that music is the most imitative of the arts. But Plato here complicates the matter further by sometimes using imitation in the narrower sense of dramatic dialogue as opposed to narration. An attentive reader will easily observe these distinctions. Aristotle's Poetics makes much use of the ideas and the terminology of the following pages.

6 Socratic urbanity professes that the speaker, not the hearer, is at fault. Cf. Protagoras 340 E, Philebus 23 D.

7 Plato and Aristotle often contrast the universal and the particular as whole and part. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 52. Though a good style is concrete, it is a mark of linguistic helplessness not to be able to state an idea in general terms. Cf. Locke, Human Understanding, ii. 10. 27: “This man is hindered in his discourse for want of words to communicate his complex ideas, which he is therefore forced to make known by an enumeration of the simple ones that compose them.”

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