laws (books 1 - 6)
has no delight in good or hatred of evil; or he who is incorrect in
gesture and voice, but is right in his sense of pleasure and pain, and
welcomes what is good, and is offended at what is evil?
Cle. There is a great difference, Stranger, in the two kinds of
Ath. If we three know what is good in song and dance, then we
truly know also who is educated and who is uneducated; but if not,
then we certainly shall not know wherein lies the safeguard of
education, and whether there is any or not.
Ath. Let us follow the scent like hounds, and go in pursuit of
beauty of figure, and melody, and song, and dance; if these escape us,
there will be no use in talking about true education, whether Hellenic
Ath. And what is beauty of figure, or beautiful melody? When a manly
soul is in trouble, and when a cowardly soul is in similar case, are
they likely to use the same figures and gestures, or to give utterance
to the same sounds?
Cle. How can they, when the very colours of their faces differ?
Ath. Good, my friend; I may observe, however, in passing, that in
music there certainly are figures and there are melodies: and music is
concerned with harmony and rhythm, so that you may speak of a melody
or figure having good rhythm or good harmony-the term is correct
enough; but to speak metaphorically of a melody or figure having a
"good colour," as the masters of choruses do, is not allowable,
although you can speak of the melodies or figures of the brave and the
coward, praising the one and censuring the other. And not to be
tedious, let us say that the figures and melodies which are expressive
of virtue of soul or body, or of images of virtue, are without
exception good, and those which are expressive of vice are the reverse
Cle. Your suggestion is excellent; and let us answer that these
things are so.
Ath. Once more, are all of us equally delighted with every sort of
Cle. Far otherwise.
Ath. What, then, leads us astray? Are beautiful things not the
same to us all, or are they the same in themselves, but not in our
opinion of them? For no one will admit that forms of vice in the dance
are more beautiful than forms of virtue, or that he himself delights
in the forms of vice, and others in a muse of another character. And
yet most persons say, that the excellence of music is to give pleasure
to our souls. But this is intolerable and blasphemous; there is,
however, a much more plausible account of the delusion.
Ath. The adaptation of art to the characters of men. Choric
movements are imitations of manners occurring in various actions,
fortunes, dispositions-each particular is imitated, and those to
whom the words, or songs, or dances are suited, either by nature or
habit or both, cannot help feeling pleasure in them and applauding
them, and calling them beautiful. But those whose natures, or ways, or
habits are unsuited to them, cannot delight in them or applaud them,
and they call them base. There are others, again, whose natures are
right and their habits wrong, or whose habits are right and their
natures wrong, and they praise one thing, but are pleased at
another. For they say that all these imitations are pleasant, but
not good. And in the presence of those whom they think wise, they
are ashamed of dancing and singing in the baser manner, or of
deliberately lending any countenance to such proceedings; and yet,
they have a secret pleasure in them.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. And is any harm done to the lover of vicious dances or songs,
or any good done to the approver of the opposite sort of pleasure?