Such then, I said, are our principles of theology--some tales are to be
told, and others are not to be told to our disciples from their youth
upwards, if we mean them to honour the gods and their parents, and to value
friendship with one another.
Yes; and I think that our principles are right, he said.
But if they are to be courageous, must they not learn other lessons besides
these, and lessons of such a kind as will take away the fear of death? Can
any man be courageous who has the fear of death in him?
Certainly not, he said.
And can he be fearless of death, or will he choose death in battle rather
than defeat and slavery, who believes the world below to be real and
Then we must assume a control over the narrators of this class of tales as
well as over the others, and beg them not simply to revile but rather to
commend the world below, intimating to them that their descriptions are
untrue, and will do harm to our future warriors.
That will be our duty, he said.
Then, I said, we shall have to obliterate many obnoxious passages,
beginning with the verses,
'I would rather be a serf on the land of a poor and portionless man than
rule over all the dead who have come to nought.'
We must also expunge the verse, which tells us how Pluto feared,
'Lest the mansions grim and squalid which the gods abhor should be seen
both of mortals and immortals.'
'O heavens! verily in the house of Hades there is soul and ghostly form but
no mind at all!'
Again of Tiresias:--
'(To him even after death did Persephone grant mind,) that he alone should
be wise; but the other souls are flitting shades.'
'The soul flying from the limbs had gone to Hades, lamenting her fate,
leaving manhood and youth.'
'And the soul, with shrilling cry, passed like smoke beneath the earth.'
'As bats in hollow of mystic cavern, whenever any of them has dropped out
of the string and falls from the rock, fly shrilling and cling to one
another, so did they with shrilling cry hold together as they moved.'
And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike out
these and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or
unattractive to the popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm
of them, the less are they meet for the ears of boys and men who are meant
to be free, and who should fear slavery more than death.
Also we shall have to reject all the terrible and appalling names which
describe the world below--Cocytus and Styx, ghosts under the earth, and
sapless shades, and any similar words of which the very mention causes a
shudder to pass through the inmost soul of him who hears them. I do not
say that these horrible stories may not have a use of some kind; but there
is a danger that the nerves of our guardians may be rendered too excitable
and effeminate by them.
There is a real danger, he said.
Then we must have no more of them.
Another and a nobler strain must be composed and sung by us.
And shall we proceed to get rid of the weepings and wailings of famous men?
They will go with the rest.
But shall we be right in getting rid of them? Reflect: our principle is
that the good man will not consider death terrible to any other good man
who is his comrade.
Yes; that is our principle.
And therefore he will not sorrow for his departed friend as though he had
suffered anything terrible?
He will not.
Such an one, as we further maintain, is sufficient for himself and his own
happiness, and therefore is least in need of other men.
True, he said.
And for this reason the loss of a son or brother, or the deprivation of
fortune, is to him of all men least terrible.
And therefore he will be least likely to lament, and will bear with the
greatest equanimity any misfortune of this sort which may befall him.
Yes, he will feel such a misfortune far less than another.
Then we shall be right in getting rid of the lamentations of famous men,
and making them over to women (and not even to women who are good for
anything), or to men of a baser sort, that those who are being educated by
us to be the defenders of their country may scorn to do the like.
That will be very right.
Then we will once more entreat Homer and the other poets not to depict
Achilles, who is the son of a goddess, first lying on his side, then on his
back, and then on his face; then starting up and sailing in a frenzy along
the shores of the barren sea; now taking the sooty ashes in both his hands
and pouring them over his head, or weeping and wailing in the various modes
which Homer has delineated. Nor should he describe Priam the kinsman of
the gods as praying and beseeching,
'Rolling in the dirt, calling each man loudly by his name.'
Still more earnestly will we beg of him at all events not to introduce the
gods lamenting and saying,
'Alas! my misery! Alas! that I bore the bravest to my sorrow.'
But if he must introduce the gods, at any rate let him not dare so
completely to misrepresent the greatest of the gods, as to make him say--
'O heavens! with my eyes verily I behold a dear friend of mine chased round
and round the city, and my heart is sorrowful.'
Woe is me that I am fated to have Sarpedon, dearest of men to me, subdued
at the hands of Patroclus the son of Menoetius.'
For if, my sweet Adeimantus, our youth seriously listen to such unworthy
representations of the gods, instead of laughing at them as they ought,
hardly will any of them deem that he himself, being but a man, can be
dishonoured by similar actions; neither will he rebuke any inclination
which may arise in his mind to say and do the like. And instead of having
any shame or self-control, he will be always whining and lamenting on
Yes, he said, that is most true.
Yes, I replied; but that surely is what ought not to be, as the argument
has just proved to us; and by that proof we must abide until it is
disproved by a better.
It ought not to be.
Neither ought our guardians to be given to laughter. For a fit of laughter
which has been indulged to excess almost always produces a violent
So I believe.
Then persons of worth, even if only mortal men, must not be represented as
overcome by laughter, and still less must such a representation of the gods
Still less of the gods, as you say, he replied.
Then we shall not suffer such an expression to be used about the gods as
that of Homer when he describes how
'Inextinguishable laughter arose among the blessed gods, when they saw
Hephaestus bustling about the mansion.'
On your views, we must not admit them.
On my views, if you like to father them on me; that we must not admit them
Again, truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is
useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of
such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have
no business with them.
Clearly not, he said.
Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the
State should be the persons; and they, in their dealings either with
enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public
good. But nobody else should meddle with anything of the kind; and
although the rulers have this privilege, for a private man to lie to them
in return is to be deemed a more heinous fault than for the patient or the
pupil of a gymnasium not to speak the truth about his own bodily illnesses
to the physician or to the trainer, or for a sailor not to tell the captain
what is happening about the ship and the rest of the crew, and how things
are going with himself or his fellow sailors.
Most true, he said.
If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in the State,
'Any of the craftsmen, whether he be priest or physician or carpenter,'
he will punish him for introducing a practice which is equally subversive
and destructive of ship or State.
Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever carried out.
In the next place our youth must be temperate?
Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience to
commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?
Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer,
'Friend, sit still and obey my word,'
and the verses which follow,
'The Greeks marched breathing prowess,
...in silent awe of their leaders,'
and other sentiments of the same kind.
What of this line,
'O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog and the heart of a stag,'
and of the words which follow? Would you say that these, or any similar
impertinences which private individuals are supposed to address to their
rulers, whether in verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?
They are ill spoken.
They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not conduce to
temperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm to our young men--you
would agree with me there?
And then, again, to make the wisest of men say that nothing in his opinion
is more glorious than
'When the tables are full of bread and meat, and the cup-bearer carries
round wine which he draws from the bowl and pours into the cups,'
is it fit or conducive to temperance for a young man to hear such
words? Or the verse
'The saddest of fates is to die and meet destiny from hunger?'
What would you say again to the tale of Zeus, who, while other gods and men
were asleep and he the only person awake, lay devising plans, but forgot
them all in a moment through his lust, and was so completely overcome at
the sight of Here that he would not even go into the hut, but wanted to lie
with her on the ground, declaring that he had never been in such a state of
rapture before, even when they first met one another
'Without the knowledge of their parents;'
or that other tale of how Hephaestus, because of similar goings on, cast a
chain around Ares and Aphrodite?
Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not to hear that
sort of thing.
But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous men, these they
ought to see and hear; as, for example, what is said in the verses,
'He smote his breast, and thus reproached his heart,
Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!'
Certainly, he said.
In the next place, we must not let them be receivers of gifts or lovers of
Neither must we sing to them of
'Gifts persuading gods, and persuading reverend kings.'
Neither is Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, to be approved or deemed to have
given his pupil good counsel when he told him that he should take the gifts
of the Greeks and assist them; but that without a gift he should not lay
aside his anger. Neither will we believe or acknowledge Achilles himself
to have been such a lover of money that he took Agamemnon's gifts, or that
when he had received payment he restored the dead body of Hector, but that
without payment he was unwilling to do so.
Undoubtedly, he said, these are not sentiments which can be approved.
Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing these
feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly attributed to
him, he is guilty of downright impiety. As little can I believe the
narrative of his insolence to Apollo, where he says,
'Thou hast wronged me, O far-darter, most abominable of deities. Verily I
would be even with thee, if I had only the power;'
or his insubordination to the river-god, on whose divinity he is ready to
lay hands; or his offering to the dead Patroclus of his own hair, which had
been previously dedicated to the other river-god Spercheius, and that he
actually performed this vow; or that he dragged Hector round the tomb of
Patroclus, and slaughtered the captives at the pyre; of all this I cannot
believe that he was guilty, any more than I can allow our citizens to
believe that he, the wise Cheiron's pupil, the son of a goddess and of
Peleus who was the gentlest of men and third in descent from Zeus, was so
disordered in his wits as to be at one time the slave of two seemingly
inconsistent passions, meanness, not untainted by avarice, combined with
overweening contempt of gods and men.
You are quite right, he replied.
And let us equally refuse to believe, or allow to be repeated, the tale of
Theseus son of Poseidon, or of Peirithous son of Zeus, going forth as they
did to perpetrate a horrid rape; or of any other hero or son of a god
daring to do such impious and dreadful things as they falsely ascribe to
them in our day: and let us further compel the poets to declare either
that these acts were not done by them, or that they were not the sons of
gods;--both in the same breath they shall not be permitted to affirm. We
will not have them trying to persuade our youth that the gods are the
authors of evil, and that heroes are no better than men--sentiments which,
as we were saying, are neither pious nor true, for we have already proved
that evil cannot come from the gods.
And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who hear them;
for everybody will begin to excuse his own vices when he is convinced that
similar wickednesses are always being perpetrated by--
'The kindred of the gods, the relatives of Zeus, whose ancestral altar, the
altar of Zeus, is aloft in air on the peak of Ida,'
and who have
'the blood of deities yet flowing in their veins.'
And therefore let us put an end to such tales, lest they engender laxity of
morals among the young.
By all means, he replied.
But now that we are determining what classes of subjects are or are not to
be spoken of, let us see whether any have been omitted by us. The manner
in which gods and demigods and heroes and the world below should be treated
has been already laid down.
And what shall we say about men? That is clearly the remaining portion of
But we are not in a condition to answer this question at present, my
Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about men poets
and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when they
tell us that wicked men are often happy, and the good miserable; and that
injustice is profitable when undetected, but that justice is a man's own
loss and another's gain--these things we shall forbid them to utter, and
command them to sing and say the opposite.
To be sure we shall, he replied.
But if you admit that I am right in this, then I shall maintain that you
have implied the principle for which we have been all along contending.
I grant the truth of your inference.
That such things are or are not to be said about men is a question which we
cannot determine until we have discovered what justice is, and how
naturally advantageous to the possessor, whether he seem to be just or not.
Most true, he said.
Enough of the subjects of poetry: let us now speak of the style; and when
this has been considered, both matter and manner will have been completely
I do not understand what you mean, said Adeimantus.
Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more intelligible if
I put the matter in this way. You are aware, I suppose, that all mythology
and poetry is a narration of events, either past, present, or to come?
Certainly, he replied.
And narration may be either simple narration, or imitation, or a union of
That again, he said, I do not quite understand.
I fear that I must be a ridiculous teacher when I have so much difficulty
in making myself apprehended. Like a bad speaker, therefore, I will not
take the whole of the subject, but will break a piece off in illustration
of my meaning. You know the first lines of the Iliad, in which the poet
says that Chryses prayed Agamemnon to release his daughter, and that
Agamemnon flew into a passion with him; whereupon Chryses, failing of his
object, invoked the anger of the God against the Achaeans. Now as far as
'And he prayed all the Greeks, but especially the two sons of Atreus, the
chiefs of the people,'
the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose that
he is any one else. But in what follows he takes the person of Chryses,
and then he does all that he can to make us believe that the speaker is not
Homer, but the aged priest himself. And in this double form he has cast
the entire narrative of the events which occurred at Troy and in Ithaca and
throughout the Odyssey.
And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet recites from
time to time and in the intermediate passages?
But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we not say that he
assimilates his style to that of the person who, as he informs you, is
going to speak?
And this assimilation of himself to another, either by the use of voice or
gesture, is the imitation of the person whose character he assumes?
Then in this case the narrative of the poet may be said to proceed by way
Or, if the poet everywhere appears and never conceals himself, then again
the imitation is dropped, and his poetry becomes simple narration.
However, in order that I may make my meaning quite clear, and that you may
no more say, 'I don't understand,' I will show how the change might be
effected. If Homer had said, 'The priest came, having his daughter's
ransom in his hands, supplicating the Achaeans, and above all the kings;'
and then if, instead of speaking in the person of Chryses, he had continued
in his own person, the words would have been, not imitation, but simple
narration. The passage would have run as follows (I am no poet, and
therefore I drop the metre), 'The priest came and prayed the gods on behalf
of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and return safely home, but
begged that they would give him back his daughter, and take the ransom
which he brought, and respect the God. Thus he spoke, and the other Greeks
revered the priest and assented. But Agamemnon was wroth, and bade him
depart and not come again, lest the staff and chaplets of the God should be
of no avail to him--the daughter of Chryses should not be released, he
said--she should grow old with him in Argos. And then he told him to go
away and not to provoke him, if he intended to get home unscathed. And the
old man went away in fear and silence, and, when he had left the camp, he
called upon Apollo by his many names, reminding him of everything which he
had done pleasing to him, whether in building his temples, or in offering
sacrifice, and praying that his good deeds might be returned to him, and
that the Achaeans might expiate his tears by the arrows of the god,'--and
so on. In this way the whole becomes simple narrative.
I understand, he said.
Or you may suppose the opposite case--that the intermediate passages are
omitted, and the dialogue only left.
That also, he said, I understand; you mean, for example, as in tragedy.
You have conceived my meaning perfectly; and if I mistake not, what you
failed to apprehend before is now made clear to you, that poetry and
mythology are, in some cases, wholly imitative--instances of this are
supplied by tragedy and comedy; there is likewise the opposite style, in
which the poet is the only speaker--of this the dithyramb affords the best
example; and the combination of both is found in epic, and in several other
styles of poetry. Do I take you with me?
Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.
I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that we had done
with the subject and might proceed to the style.
Yes, I remember.
In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an understanding
about the mimetic art,--whether the poets, in narrating their stories, are
to be allowed by us to imitate, and if so, whether in whole or in part, and
if the latter, in what parts; or should all imitation be prohibited?
You mean, I suspect, to ask whether tragedy and comedy shall be admitted
into our State?
Yes, I said; but there may be more than this in question: I really do not
know as yet, but whither the argument may blow, thither we go.
And go we will, he said.
Then, Adeimantus, let me ask you whether our guardians ought to be
imitators; or rather, has not this question been decided by the rule
already laid down that one man can only do one thing well, and not many;
and that if he attempt many, he will altogether fail of gaining much
reputation in any?
And this is equally true of imitation; no one man can imitate many things
as well as he would imitate a single one?
Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life,
and at the same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as
well; for even when two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same
persons cannot succeed in both, as, for example, the writers of tragedy and
comedy--did you not just now call them imitations?
Yes, I did; and you are right in thinking that the same persons cannot
succeed in both.
Any more than they can be rhapsodists and actors at once?
Neither are comic and tragic actors the same; yet all these things are but
They are so.
And human nature, Adeimantus, appears to have been coined into yet smaller
pieces, and to be as incapable of imitating many things well, as of
performing well the actions of which the imitations are copies.
Quite true, he replied.
If then we adhere to our original notion and bear in mind that our
guardians, setting aside every other business, are to dedicate themselves
wholly to the maintenance of freedom in the State, making this their craft,
and engaging in no work which does not bear on this end, they ought not to
practise or imitate anything else; if they imitate at all, they should
imitate from youth upward only those characters which are suitable to their
profession--the courageous, temperate, holy, free, and the like; but they
should not depict or be skilful at imitating any kind of illiberality or
baseness, lest from imitation they should come to be what they imitate.
Did you never observe how imitations, beginning in early youth and
continuing far into life, at length grow into habits and become a second
nature, affecting body, voice, and mind?
Yes, certainly, he said.
Then, I said, we will not allow those for whom we profess a care and of
whom we say that they ought to be good men, to imitate a woman, whether
young or old, quarrelling with her husband, or striving and vaunting
against the gods in conceit of her happiness, or when she is in affliction,
or sorrow, or weeping; and certainly not one who is in sickness, love, or
Very right, he said.
Neither must they represent slaves, male or female, performing the offices
They must not.
And surely not bad men, whether cowards or any others, who do the reverse
of what we have just been prescribing, who scold or mock or revile one
another in drink or out of drink, or who in any other manner sin against
themselves and their neighbours in word or deed, as the manner of such is.
Neither should they be trained to imitate the action or speech of men or
women who are mad or bad; for madness, like vice, is to be known but not to
be practised or imitated.
Very true, he replied.
Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or oarsmen, or
boatswains, or the like?
How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply their minds to
the callings of any of these?
Nor may they imitate the neighing of horses, the bellowing of bulls, the
murmur of rivers and roll of the ocean, thunder, and all that sort of
Nay, he said, if madness be forbidden, neither may they copy the behaviour
You mean, I said, if I understand you aright, that there is one sort of
narrative style which may be employed by a truly good man when he has
anything to say, and that another sort will be used by a man of an opposite
character and education.
And which are these two sorts? he asked.
Suppose, I answered, that a just and good man in the course of a narration
comes on some saying or action of another good man,--I should imagine that
he will like to personate him, and will not be ashamed of this sort of
imitation: he will be most ready to play the part of the good man when he
is acting firmly and wisely; in a less degree when he is overtaken by
illness or love or drink, or has met with any other disaster. But when he
comes to a character which is unworthy of him, he will not make a study of
that; he will disdain such a person, and will assume his likeness, if at
all, for a moment only when he is performing some good action; at other
times he will be ashamed to play a part which he has never practised, nor
will he like to fashion and frame himself after the baser models; he feels
the employment of such an art, unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his
mind revolts at it.
So I should expect, he replied.
Then he will adopt a mode of narration such as we have illustrated out of
Homer, that is to say, his style will be both imitative and narrative; but
there will be very little of the former, and a great deal of the latter.
Do you agree?
Certainly, he said; that is the model which such a speaker must necessarily
But there is another sort of character who will narrate anything, and, the
worse he is, the more unscrupulous he will be; nothing will be too bad for
him: and he will be ready to imitate anything, not as a joke, but in right
good earnest, and before a large company. As I was just now saying, he
will attempt to represent the roll of thunder, the noise of wind and hail,
or the creaking of wheels, and pulleys, and the various sounds of flutes,
pipes, trumpets, and all sorts of instruments: he will bark like a dog,
bleat like a sheep, or crow like a cock; his entire art will consist in
imitation of voice and gesture, and there will be very little narration.
That, he said, will be his mode of speaking.
These, then, are the two kinds of style?
And you would agree with me in saying that one of them is simple and has
but slight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for their
simplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks correctly, is
always pretty much the same in style, and he will keep within the limits of
a single harmony (for the changes are not great), and in like manner he
will make use of nearly the same rhythm?
That is quite true, he said.
Whereas the other requires all sorts of harmonies and all sorts of rhythms,
if the music and the style are to correspond, because the style has all
sorts of changes.
That is also perfectly true, he replied.
And do not the two styles, or the mixture of the two, comprehend all
poetry, and every form of expression in words? No one can say anything
except in one or other of them or in both together.
They include all, he said.
And shall we receive into our State all the three styles, or one only of
the two unmixed styles? or would you include the mixed?
I should prefer only to admit the pure imitator of virtue.
Yes, I said, Adeimantus, but the mixed style is also very charming: and
indeed the pantomimic, which is the opposite of the one chosen by you, is
the most popular style with children and their attendants, and with the
world in general.
I do not deny it.
But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our State,
in which human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man plays one
Yes; quite unsuitable.
And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall
find a shoemaker to be a shoemaker and not a pilot also, and a husbandman
to be a husbandman and not a dicast also, and a soldier a soldier and not a
trader also, and the same throughout?
True, he said.
And therefore when any one of these pantomimic gentlemen, who are so clever
that they can imitate anything, comes to us, and makes a proposal to
exhibit himself and his poetry, we will fall down and worship him as a
sweet and holy and wonderful being; but we must also inform him that in our
State such as he are not permitted to exist; the law will not allow them.
And so when we have anointed him with myrrh, and set a garland of wool upon
his head, we shall send him away to another city. For we mean to employ
for our souls' health the rougher and severer poet or story-teller, who
will imitate the style of the virtuous only, and will follow those models
which we prescribed at first when we began the education of our soldiers.
We certainly will, he said, if we have the power.
Then now, my friend, I said, that part of music or literary education which
relates to the story or myth may be considered to be finished; for the
matter and manner have both been discussed.
I think so too, he said.
Next in order will follow melody and song.
That is obvious.
Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to be
consistent with ourselves.
I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the word 'every one' hardly includes
me, for I cannot at the moment say what they should be; though I may guess.
At any rate you can tell that a song or ode has three parts--the words, the
melody, and the rhythm; that degree of knowledge I may presuppose?
Yes, he said; so much as that you may.
And as for the words, there will surely be no difference between words
which are and which are not set to music; both will conform to the same
laws, and these have been already determined by us?
And the melody and rhythm will depend upon the words?
We were saying, when we spoke of the subject-matter, that we had no need of
lamentation and strains of sorrow?
And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You are musical, and can
The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian, and the
full-toned or bass Lydian, and such like.
These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a character to
maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.
In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterly
unbecoming the character of our guardians.
And which are the soft or drinking harmonies?
The Ionian, he replied, and the Lydian; they are termed 'relaxed.'
Well, and are these of any military use?
Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the Phrygian are
the only ones which you have left.
I answered: Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one
warlike, to sound the note or accent which a brave man utters in the hour
of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going
to wounds or death or is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such
crisis meets the blows of fortune with firm step and a determination to
endure; and another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of
action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is seeking to
persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition, or on the
other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to persuasion or
entreaty or admonition, and which represents him when by prudent conduct he
has attained his end, not carried away by his success, but acting
moderately and wisely under the circumstances, and acquiescing in the
event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave; the strain of necessity and
the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of the
fortunate, the strain of courage, and the strain of temperance; these, I
And these, he replied, are the Dorian and Phrygian harmonies of which I was
just now speaking.
Then, I said, if these and these only are to be used in our songs and
melodies, we shall not want multiplicity of notes or a panharmonic scale?
I suppose not.
Then we shall not maintain the artificers of lyres with three corners and
complex scales, or the makers of any other many-stringed curiously-
But what do you say to flute-makers and flute-players? Would you admit
them into our State when you reflect that in this composite use of harmony
the flute is worse than all the stringed instruments put together; even the
panharmonic music is only an imitation of the flute?
There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and the
shepherds may have a pipe in the country.
That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.
The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his instruments
is not at all strange, I said.
Not at all, he replied.
And so, by the dog of Egypt, we have been unconsciously purging the State,
which not long ago we termed luxurious.
And we have done wisely, he replied.
Then let us now finish the purgation, I said. Next in order to harmonies,
rhythms will naturally follow, and they should be subject to the same
rules, for we ought not to seek out complex systems of metre, or metres of
every kind, but rather to discover what rhythms are the expressions of a
courageous and harmonious life; and when we have found them, we shall adapt
the foot and the melody to words having a like spirit, not the words to the
foot and melody. To say what these rhythms are will be your duty--you must
teach me them, as you have already taught me the harmonies.
But, indeed, he replied, I cannot tell you. I only know that there are
some three principles of rhythm out of which metrical systems are framed,
just as in sounds there are four notes (i.e. the four notes of the
tetrachord.) out of which all the harmonies are composed; that is an
observation which I have made. But of what sort of lives they are
severally the imitations I am unable to say.
Then, I said, we must take Damon into our counsels; and he will tell us
what rhythms are expressive of meanness, or insolence, or fury, or other
unworthiness, and what are to be reserved for the expression of opposite
feelings. And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his
mentioning a complex Cretic rhythm; also a dactylic or heroic, and he
arranged them in some manner which I do not quite understand, making the
rhythms equal in the rise and fall of the foot, long and short alternating;
and, unless I am mistaken, he spoke of an iambic as well as of a trochaic
rhythm, and assigned to them short and long quantities. Also in some cases
he appeared to praise or censure the movement of the foot quite as much as
the rhythm; or perhaps a combination of the two; for I am not certain what
he meant. These matters, however, as I was saying, had better be referred
to Damon himself, for the analysis of the subject would be difficult, you
know? (Socrates expresses himself carelessly in accordance with his
assumed ignorance of the details of the subject. In the first part of the
sentence he appears to be speaking of paeonic rhythms which are in the
ratio of 3/2; in the second part, of dactylic and anapaestic rhythms, which
are in the ratio of 1/1; in the last clause, of iambic and trochaic
rhythms, which are in the ratio of 1/2 or 2/1.)
Rather so, I should say.
But there is no difficulty in seeing that grace or the absence of grace is
an effect of good or bad rhythm.
None at all.
And also that good and bad rhythm naturally assimilate to a good and bad
style; and that harmony and discord in like manner follow style; for our
principle is that rhythm and harmony are regulated by the words, and not
the words by them.
Just so, he said, they should follow the words.
And will not the words and the character of the style depend on the temper
of the soul?
And everything else on the style?
Then beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on
simplicity,--I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind
and character, not that other simplicity which is only an euphemism for
Very true, he replied.
And if our youth are to do their work in life, must they not make these
graces and harmonies their perpetual aim?