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Poetry also has won favour and esteem because it utters words which match the deeds, as Homer1 says,
Many the lies that he spoke, but he made them all to seem truthful.
[p. 507] The story is also told that one of Menander's2 intimate friends said to him, ‘The Dionysian Festival is almost here, Menander; haven't you composed your comedy?’ Menander answered, ‘By heaven, I have really composed the comedy : the plot's all in order. But I still have to fit the lines to it.’ For even poets consider the subject matter more necessary and vital than the words.

When Pindar was still young, and prided himself on his felicitous use of words. Corinna warned him that his writing lacked refinement, since he did not introduce myths, which are the proper business of poetry, but used as a foundation for his work unusual and obsolete words, extensions of meaning, paraphrases, lyrics and rhythms, which are mere embellishments of the subject matter.3 So Pindar,4 giving all heed to her words, composed the famous lyric :

Ismenus, or Melia of the golden distaff,
Or Cadmus, or the holy race of men that were sown,
Or the mighty strength of Heracles,
Or the gladsome worship of Dionysus.
He showed it to Corinna, but she laughed and said that one should sow with the hand, not with the whole sack. For in truth Pindar had confused and jumbled together a seed-mixture, as it were, of myths, and poured them into his poem.5 That poetry concerns itself with the composition of mythological matters Plato6 also has stated. A myth aims at being a false [p. 509] tale, resembling a true one ; wherefore it is far removed from actual events, if a tale is but a picture and an image of actuality, and a myth is but a picture and image of a tale. And thus those who write of imaginative exploits lag as far behind historians as persons who tell of deeds come short of those that do them.

1 Homer, Od. xix. 203; cf. Moralia 16 a.

2 Cf. the Scholia Cruquiana on Horace, Ars Poetica, 311.

3 Cf. Moralia, 769 c.

4 Pindar, Frag. 29, ed. Christ; ed. Sandys (L.C.L.) p. 512; cf. Lucian, Demosthenis Encomium, 19.

5 Edmonds's version (Lyra Graeca, iii. p. 7) of this famous passage is incomprehensible to me.

6 Phaedo, 61 b; cf. Moralia, 16 c.

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