previous next
[816a] but when he is cowardly and untrained in temperance, he indulges in greater and more violent changes of motion; and in general, no one who is using his voice, whether in song or in speech, is able to keep his body wholly at rest. Hence, when the representation of things spoken by means of gestures arose, it produced the whole art of dancing. In all these instances, one man of us moves in tune with his theme, another out of tune. [816b] Many of the names bestowed in ancient times are deserving of notice and of praise for their excellence and descriptiveness: one such is the name given to the dances of men who are in a prosperous state and indulge in pleasures of a moderate kind: how true and how musical was the name so rationally bestowed on those dances by the man (whoever he was) who first called them all “Emmeleiai,”1 and established two species of fair dances—the warlike, termed “pyrrhiche,” [816c] and the pacific, termed “emmeleia”—bestowing on each its appropriate and harmonious name. These dances the lawgiver should describe in outline, and the Law-warden should search them out and, having investigated them, he should combine the dancing with the rest of the music, and assign what is proper of it to each of the sacrificial feasts, distributing it over all the feasts; and when he has thus consecrated all these things in due order, he should thenceforth make no change in all that appertains to either dancing or singing, but this [816d] one and the same city and body of citizens should continue in one and the same way, enjoying the same pleasures and living alike in all ways possible, and so pass their lives happily and well. What concerns the actions of fair and noble souls in the matter of that kind of choristry which we have approved as right has now been fully discussed. The actions of ugly bodies and ugly ideas and of the men engaged in ludicrous comic-acting, in regard to both speech and dance, and the representations given by all these comedians—all this subject we must necessarily consider and estimate. For it is impossible to learn the serious without the comic, [816e] or any one of a pair of contraries without the other, if one is to he a wise man; but to put both into practice is equally impossible, if one is to share in even a small measure of virtue; in fact, it is precisely for this reason that one should learn them,—in order to avoid ever doing or saying anything ludicrous, through ignorance, when one ought not; we will impose such mimicry on slaves and foreign hirelings, and no serious attention shall ever be paid to it, nor shall any free man or free woman be seen learning it, and there must always be some novel feature in their mimic shows.2 Let such, then, be the regulations for all those laughable amusements which we all call “comedy,”

1 A decorous, stately dance (“minuet”).

2 i.e. lest the public taste should be debased by the repeated exhibition of any one piece of vulgarity.

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 Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: