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[394a] And the old man on hearing this was frightened and departed in silence, and having gone apart from the camp he prayed at length to Apollo, invoking the appellations of the god, and reminding him of and asking requital for any of his gifts that had found favor whether in the building of temples or the sacrifice of victims. In return for these things he prayed that the Achaeans should suffer for his tears by the god's shafts. It is in this way, my dear fellow,” I said, “that [394b] without imitation simple narration results.” “I understand,” he said.

“Understand then,” said I, “that the opposite of this arises when one removes the words of the poet between and leaves the alternation of speeches.” “This too I understand,” he said, “—it is what happens in tragedy.” “You have conceived me most rightly,” I said, “and now I think I can make plain to you what I was unable to before, that there is one kind of poetry and tale-telling which works wholly through imitation, [394c] as you remarked, tragedy and comedy; and another which employs the recital of the poet himself, best exemplified, I presume, in the dithyramb1; and there is again that which employs both, in epic poetry and in many other places, if you apprehend me.” “I understand now,” he said, “what you then meant.” “Recall then also the preceding statement that we were done with the 'what' of speech and still had to consider the 'how.'” “I remember.” [394d] “What I meant then was just this, that we must reach a decision whether we are to suffer our poets to narrate as imitators or in part as imitators and in part not, and what sort of things in each case, or not allow them to imitate2 at all.” “I divine,” he said, “that you are considering whether we shall admit tragedy and comedy into our city or not.” “Perhaps,” said I, “and perhaps even more than that.3 For I certainly do not yet know myself, but whithersoever the wind, as it were, of the argument blows,4 there lies our course.” [394e] “Well said,” he replied. “This then, Adeimantus, is the point we must keep in view, do we wish our guardians to be good mimics or not? Or is this also a consequence of what we said before, that each one could practise well only one pursuit and not many, but if he attempted the latter, dabbling in many things, he would fail of distinction in all?” “Of course it is.” “And does not the same rule hold for imitation, that the same man is not able to imitate many things well as he can one?” “No, he is not.” “Still less, then, will he be able to combine

1 The dithyramb was technically a poem in honor of Bacchus. For its more or less conjectural history cf. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy. Here, however, it is used broadly to designate the type of elaborate Greek lyric which like the odes of Pindar and Bacchylides narrates a myth or legend with little if any dialogue.

2 Again in the special limited sense.

3 This seems to imply that Plato already had in mind the extension of the discussion in the tenth book to the whole question of the moral effect of poetry and art.

4 Cf. Theaetetus 172 D. But it is very naive to suppose that the sequence of Plato's argument is not carefully planned in his own mind. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 5.

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