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[392d] you mean by this.” “Well,” said I, “we must have you understand. Perhaps you will be more likely to apprehend it thus. Is not everything that is said by fabulists or poets a narration of past, present, or future things?” “What else could it be?” he said. “Do not they proceed1 either by pure narration or by a narrative that is effected through imitation,2 or by both?” “This too,” he said, “I still need to have made plainer.” “I seem to be a ridiculous and obscure teacher,3” I said; “so like men who are unable to express themselves

1 Cf. Aristotle Poetics 1449 b 27.

2 All art is essentially imitation for Plato and Aristotle. But imitation means for them not only the portrayal or description of visible and tangible things, but more especially the expression of a mood or feeling, hence the (to a modern) paradox that music is the most imitative of the arts. But Plato here complicates the matter further by sometimes using imitation in the narrower sense of dramatic dialogue as opposed to narration. An attentive reader will easily observe these distinctions. Aristotle's Poetics makes much use of the ideas and the terminology of the following pages.

3 Socratic urbanity professes that the speaker, not the hearer, is at fault. Cf. Protagoras 340 E, Philebus 23 D.

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