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[596e] You will speedily produce the sun and all the things in the sky, and speedily the earth and yourself and the other animals and implements and plants and all the objects of which we just now spoke.” “Yes,” he said, “the appearance of them, but not the reality and the truth.” “Excellent,” said I, “and you come to the aid of the argument opportunely. For I take it that the painter too belongs to this class of producers, does he not?” “Of course.” “But you will say, I suppose, that his creations are not real and true. And yet, after a fashion, the painter1 too makes a couch, does he not?” “Yes,” he said, “the appearance of one, he too.”

1 Art is deception. Diels ii.3 p. 339, Dialex. 3 (10)ἐν γὰρ τραγωιδοποιίᾳ καὶ ζωγραφίᾳ ὅστις <κε> πλεῖστα ἐξαπατῇ ὅμοια τοῖς ἀληθινοῖς ποιέων, οὗτος ἄριστος, Xen.Mem. iii. 10. 1γραφική ἐστιν εἰκασία τῶν ὁρωμένων. Cf. Plut.Quomodo adolescens 17 F-18 A on painting and poetry. There are many specious resemblances between Plato's ideas on art and morality and those of the “lunatic fringe” of Platonism. Cf. Jane Harrison, Ancient Art and Ritual, pp. 21-22, Charles F. Andrews, Mahatma Gandhi's Ideas, p. 332. William Temple, Plato and Christianity, p. 89: “In the tenth book of the Republic he says that, whereas the artificer in making any material object imitates the eternal idea, an artist only imitates the imitation (595 A-598 D); but in Book V he said that we do not blame an artist who depicts a face more beautiful than any actual human face either is or ever could be (472 D).” But this does not affect Plato's main point here, that the artist imitates the “real” world, not the world of ideas. The artist's imitation may fall short of or better its model. But the model is not the (Platonic) idea.

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