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“And truly,” I said, “many other considerations assure me that we were entirely right in our organization of the state, and especially, I think, in the matter of poetry.1” “What about it?” he said. “In refusing to admit2 at all so much of it as is imitative3; for that it is certainly not to be received is, I think, [595b] still more plainly apparent now that we have distinguished the several parts4 of the soul.” “What do you mean?” “Why, between ourselves5—for you will not betray me to the tragic poets and all other imitators—that kind of art seems to be a corruption6 of the mind of all listeners who do not possess, as an antidote7 a knowledge of its real nature.” “What is your idea in saying this?” he said. “I must speak out,” I said, “though a certain love and reverence for Homer8 that has possessed me from a boy would stay me from speaking. [595c] For he appears to have been the first teacher and beginner of all these beauties of tragedy. Yet all the same we must not honor a man above truth,9 but, as I say, speak our minds.” “By all means,” he said. “Listen, then, or rather, answer my question.” “Ask it,” he said. “Could you tell me in general what imitation is? For neither do I myself quite apprehend what it would be at.” “It is likely, then,10” he said, “that I should apprehend!” “It would be nothing strange,” said I, “since it often happens
1 In Book III. On the whole question see Introd. Max. Tyr. Diss. 23Εἰ καλῶς Πλάτων Ὅμηρον τῆς Πολιτείας παρῃτήσατο, and 32ἔστι καθ᾽ Ὅμηρον αἵρεσις. Strabo i. 2 3. Athenaeus v. 12. 187 says that Plato himself in the Symposium wrote worse things than the poets whom he banishes. Friedländer, Platon, i. p. 138, thinks that the return to the poets in Book X. is intended to justify the poetry of Plato's dialogues. On the banishment of the poets and Homer cf. also Minucius Felix (Halm), pp. 32-33, Tertullian (Oehler), lib. ii. c. 7, Olympiodorus, Hermann vi. p. 367, Augustine, De civ. Dei, ii. xiv.
2 Supra 394 D, 568 B, and on 398 A-B, 607 A.
3 In the narrower sense. Cf. Vol. I. p. 224, note c, on 392 D, and What Plato Said, p. 561.
4 Lit. “species.” Cf. 435 B ff., 445 C, 580 D, 588 B ff., Phaedr. 271 D, Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 42.
5 Cf. Gorg. 462 B, Protag. 309 A, 339 E.
6 Cf. 605 C, Meno 91 C, Laws 890 B.
8 Isoc. ii. 48-49 is perhaps imitating this. For Homer as a source of tragedy cf. also 598 D, 605 C-D, 607 A, 602 B, Theaet. 152 E, schol. Trendelenburg, pp. 75 ff.; Dryden, Discourse on Epic Poetry: “The origin of the stage was from the epic poem . . . those episodes of Homer which were proper for the state the poets amplifies each into an action,” etc. Cf. Aristot.Poet. 1448 b 35 f., Diog. Laert. iv. 40, and 393 A ff.
9 Cf. What Plato Said, p. 532, on Phaedo 91 C, Aristot.Eth. Nic. 1096 a 16ἄμφοιν γὰρ ὄντοιν φίλοιν ὅσιον προτιμᾶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, Henri-Pierre Cazac, Polémique d’Aristote contre la théorie platonicienne des Idées, p. 11, n.: “Platon lui-même, critiquant Homère, . . . fait une semblabe réflexion, ‘On doit plus d’égards à la vérité qu'à un homme.’ Cousin croit, après Camérarius, que c'est là l'origine du mot célèbre d’Aristote.” Cf. St. Augustine, De civ. Dei. x. 30 “homini praeposuit veritatem.”
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