previous next
[402a] The ugly he would rightly disapprove of and hate while still young and yet unable to apprehend the reason, but when reason came1 the man thus nurtured would be the first to give her welcome, for by this affinity he would know her.” “I certainly think,” he said, “that such is the cause of education in music.” “It is, then,” said I, “as it was when we learned our letters and felt that we knew them sufficiently only when the separate letters did not elude us, appearing as few elements in all the combinations that convey them, and when we did not disregard them [402b] in small things or great2 and think it unnecessary to recognize them, but were eager to distinguish them everywhere, in the belief that we should never be literate and letter-perfect till we could do this.” “True.” “And is it not also true that if there are any likenesses3 of letters reflected in water or mirrors, we shall never know them until we know the originals, but such knowledge belongs to the same art and discipline4?” “By all means.” “Then, by heaven, am I not right in saying that by the same token we shall never be true musicians, either— [402c] neither we nor the guardians that we have undertaken to educate—until we are able to recognize the forms of soberness, courage, liberality,5 and high-mindedness and all their kindred and their opposites, too, in all the combinations that contain and convey them, and to apprehend them and their images wherever found, disregarding them neither in trifles nor in great things, but believing the knowledge of them to belong to the same art and discipline?” “The conclusion is inevitable,” he said. [402d] “Then,” said I, “when there is a coincidence6 of a beautiful disposition in the soul and corresponding and harmonious beauties of the same type in the bodily form—is not this the fairest spectacle for one who is capable of its contemplation7?” “Far the fairest.” “And surely the fairest is the most lovable.” “Of course.” “The true musician, then, would love by preference persons of this sort; but if there were disharmony he would not love this.” “No,” he said, “not if there was a defect in the soul; but if it were in the body he would bear with it and still be willing to bestow his love.” [402e] “I understand,” I said, “that you have or have had favorites of this sort and I grant your distinction. But tell me this—can there be any communion between soberness and extravagant pleasure8?” “How could there be,” he said, “since such pleasure puts a man beside himself

1 Cf. Laws 653 B-C, where Plato defines education by this principle. Aristotle virtually accepts it (Ethics ii. 3. 2). The Stoics somewhat pedantically laid it down that reason entered into the youth at the age of fourteen.

2 Plato often employs letters or elements (στοιχεῖα) to illustrate the acquisition of knowledge (Theaetetus 206 A), the relation of elements to compounds, the principles of classification (Philebus 18 C, Cratylus 393 D), and the theory of ideas (Politicus 278 A. Cf. Isocrates xiii. 13, Xenophon Memorabilia iv. 4. 7, Blass, Attische Beredsamkeit, ii. pp. 23 f., 348 f., Cicero De or. ii. 130).

3 It is of course possible to contrast images with the things themselves, and to speak of forms or species without explicit allusion to the metaphysical doctrine of ideas. But on the other hand there is not the slightest reason to assume that the doctrine and its terminology were not familiar to Plato at the time when this part of the Republic was written. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 31 ff., 35. Statistics of the use of εἶδος and ἰδέα(Peiper's Ontologica Platonica, Taylor, Varia Socratica, Wilamowitz, Platon, ii. pp. 249-253), whatever their philological interest, contribute nothing to the interpretation of Plato's thought. Cf. my De Platonis Idearum Doctrina, pp. 1, 30, and Class Phil. vol. vi. pp. 363-364. There is for common sense no contradiction or problem in the fact that Plato here says that we cannot be true “musicians” till we recognize both the forms and all copies of, or approximations to, them in art or nature, while in Book X (601) he argues that the poet and artist copy not the idea but its copy in the material world.

4 Plato, like all intellectuals, habitually assumes that knowledge of principles helps practice. Cf. Phaedrus 259 E, 262 B, and 484 D, 520 C, 540 A.

5 Liberality and high-mindedness, or rather, perhaps, magnificence, are among the virtues defined in Aristotle's list (Eth. Nic. 1107 b 17), but are not among the four cardinal virtues which the Republic will use in Book IV. in the comparison of the indivdual with the state.

6 Symposium 209 Bτὸ συναμφότερον, 210 C, Wilamowitz, vol. ii. p. 192.

7 Music and beauty lead to the philosophy of love, more fully set forth in the Phaedrus and Symposium, and here dismissed in a page. Plato's practical conclusion here may be summed up in the Virgilian line (Aeneid v. 344): “Gratior et pulchro veniens in corpore virtus.”

8 Extravagant pleasure is akin to madness. Cf. Philebus 47 A-C, Phaedo 83 C-D.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Taylor (Georgia, United States) (1)
Phil (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Aristotle (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1107 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: