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[1340a] [1] yet the nature of music is more honorable than corresponds with the employment of it mentioned, and it is proper not only to participate in the common pleasure that springs from it, which is perceptible to everybody (for the pleasure contained in music is of a natural kind, owing to which the use of it is dear to those of all ages and characters), but to see if its influence reaches also in a manner to the character and to the soul. And this would clearly be the case if we are affected in our characters in a certain manner by it. But it is clear that we are affected in a certain manner, both by many other kinds of music and not least by the melodies of Olympus1; for these admittedly make our souls enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is an affection of the character of the soul. And moreover everybody when listening to imitations2 is thrown into a corresponding state of feeling, even apart from the rhythms and tunes themselves.3 And since it is the case that music is one of the things that give pleasure, and that virtue has to do with feeling delight and love and hatred rightly, there is obviously nothing that it is more needful to learn and become habituated to than to judge correctly and to delight in virtuous characters and noble actions; but rhythms and melodies contain representations of anger [20] and mildness, and also of courage and temperance and all their opposites and the other moral qualities, that most closely correspond to the true natures of these qualities (and this is clear from the facts of what occurs—when we listen to such representations we change in our soul); and habituation in feeling pain and delight at representations of reality is close to feeling them towards actual reality (for example, if a man delights in beholding the statue of somebody for no other reason than because of its actual form, the actual sight of the person whose statue he beholds must also of necessity give him pleasure); and it is the case that whereas the other objects of sensation contain no representation of character, for example the objects of touch and taste (though the objects of sight do so slightly, for there are forms that represent character, but only to a small extent, and not4 all men participate in visual perception of such qualities; also visual works of art are not representations of character but rather the forms and colors produced are mere indications of character, and these indications are only bodily sensations during the emotions; not but what in so far as there is a difference even in regard to the observation of these indications,5 the young must not look at the works of Pauson but those of Polygnotus,6 and of any other moral painter or sculptor), pieces of music on the contrary do actually contain in them selves imitations of character; and this is manifest, for even in the nature of the mere melodies there are differences, so that people when hearing them are affected differently and have not the same feelings in regard to each of them, but listen to some in a more mournful and restrained state,

1 A Phrygian composer of the seventh century B.C.

2 Music dramatically expressing various states of emotion.

3 A probable correction of the Greek gives ‘by the rhythms and tunes themselves, even apart from the words.’

4 ‘Not’ is a conjectural insertion.

5 i.e. these visual impressions do vary to some extent in moral effect.

6 Pauson is a painter otherwise little known. Polygnotus decorated the Stoa Poikile and other famous public buildings at Athens, in the middle of the 5th century B.C. ‘Polygnotus represented men as better than they really were, Pauson as worse’ (Aristot. Poet. 1448a 5).

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    • Aristotle, Poetics, 1448a
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