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Well said! Try, however, to make your meaning still more clear to us.

I will. Under the old laws, my friends, our commons had no control over anything, but were, so to say, voluntary slaves to the laws.

What laws do you mean?

Those dealing with the music of that age, in the first place,—to describe from its commencement how the life of excessive liberty grew up. Among us, at that time, music was divided into various classes and styles: [700b] one class of song was that of prayers to the gods, which bore the name of “hymns”; contrasted with this was another class, best called “dirges”; “paeans” formed another; and yet another was the “dithyramb,” named, I fancy, after Dionysus. “Nomes” also were so called as being a distinct class of song; and these were further described as “citharoedic nomes.”1 So these and other kinds being classified and fixed, it was forbidden to set one kind of words to a different class of tune.2 [700c] The authority whose duty it was to know these regulations, and, when known, to apply them in its judgments and to penalize the disobedient, was not a pipe nor, as now, the mob's unmusical shoutings, nor yet the clappings which mark applause: in place of this, it was a rule made by those in control of education that they themselves should listen throughout in silence, while the children and their ushers and the general crowd were kept in order by the discipline of the rod. [700d] In the matter of music the populace willingly submitted to orderly control and abstained from outrageously judging by clamor; but later on, with the progress of time, there arose as leaders of unmusical illegality poets who, though by nature poetical, were ignorant of what was just and lawful in music; and they, being frenzied and unduly possessed by a spirit of pleasure, mixed dirges with hymns and paeans with dithyrambs, and imitated flute-tunes with harp-tunes, and blended every kind of music with every other; [700e] and thus, through their folly, they unwittingly bore false witness against music, as a thing without any standard of correctness, of which the best criterion is the pleasure of the auditor, be he a good man or a bad.3 By compositions of such a character, set to similar words, they bred in the populace a spirit of lawlessness in regard to music, and the effrontery of supposing themselves capable of passing judgment on it. Hence the theater-goers became noisy

1 i.e., solemn chants sung to the “cithara” or lyre. “Dithyrambs” were choral odes to Dionysus; “paeans” were mostly hymns of praise to Apollo.

2 Cp. Plat. Laws 657c ff., 699c ff.

3 Cp. Plat. Rep. 3.397a ff.

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