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[535a] or do you not think my statement true, Ion?

Ion
Yes, upon my word, I do: for you somehow touch my soul with your words, Socrates, and I believe it is by divine dispensation that good poets interpret to us these utterances of the gods.

Socrates
And you rhapsodes, for your part, interpret the utterances of the poets?

Ion
Again your words are true.

Socrates
And so you act as interpreters of interpreters?

Ion
Precisely. [535b]

Socrates
Stop now and tell me, Ion, without reserve what I may choose to ask you: when you give a good recitation and specially thrill your audience, either with the lay of Odysseus1 leaping forth on to the threshold, revealing himself to the suitors and pouring out the arrows before his feet, or of Achilles2 dashing at Hector, or some part of the sad story of Andromache3 or of Hecuba,4 or of Priam,5 are you then in your senses, or are you carried out of yourself, and does your soul in an ecstasy suppose [535c] herself to be among the scenes you are describing, whether they be in Ithaca, or in Troy, or as the poems may chance to place them?

Ion
How vivid to me, Socrates, is this part of your proof! For I will tell you without reserve: when I relate a tale of woe, my eyes are filled with tears; and when it is of fear or awe, my hair stands on end with terror, and my heart leaps. [535d]

Socrates
Well now, are we to say, Ion, that such a person is in his senses at that moment,—when in all the adornment of elegant attire and golden crowns he weeps at sacrifice or festival, having been despoiled of none of his finery; or shows fear as he stands before more than twenty thousand friendly people, none of whom is stripping or injuring him?

Ion
No, on my word, not at all, Socrates, to tell the strict truth.

Socrates
And are you aware that you rhapsodes produce these same effects on most of the spectators also? [535e] Ion. Yes, very fully aware: for I look down upon them from the platform and see them at such moments crying and turning awestruck eyes upon me and yielding to the amazement of my tale. For I have to pay the closest attention to them; since, if I set them crying, I shall laugh myself because of the money I take, but if they laugh, I myself shall cry because of the money I lose.

Socrates
And are you aware that your spectator is the last of the rings which I spoke of as receiving from each other the power transmitted from the Heraclean lodestone?


1 Od. 22.2ff.

2 Il. 22.312ff.

3 Il. 6.370-502; 22.437-515.

4 Il. 22.430-36; 24.747-59.

5 Il. 22.408-28; 24.144-717.

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