Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plato
Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)



Previous | Next
                  

laws (books 1 - 6)   


judgment to the body of spectators, who determined the victor by
show of hands. But this custom has been the destruction of the
poets; for they are now in the habit of composing with a view to
please the bad taste of their judges, and the result is that the
spectators instruct themselves;-and also it has been the ruin of the
theatre; they ought to be having characters put before them better
than their own, and so receiving a higher pleasure, but now by their
own act the opposite result follows. What inference is to be drawn
from all this? Shall I tell you?
Cle. What?
Ath. The inference at which we arrive for the third or fourth time
is, that education is the constraining and directing of youth
towards that right reason, which the law affirms, and which the
experience of the eldest and best has agreed to be truly right. In
order, then, that the soul of the child may not be habituated to
feel joy and sorrow in a manner at variance with the law, and those
who obey the law, but may rather follow the law and rejoice and sorrow
at the same things as the aged-in order, I say, to produce this
effect, chants appear to have been invented, which really enchant, and
are designed to implant that harmony of which we speak. And, because
the mind of the child is incapable of enduring serious training,
they are called plays and songs, and are performed in play; just as
when men are sick and ailing in their bodies, their attendants give
them wholesome diet in pleasant meats and drinks, but unwholesome diet
in disagreeable things, in order that they may learn, as they ought,
to like the one, and to dislike the other. And similarly the true
legislator will persuade, and, if he cannot persuade, will compel
the poet to express, as he ought, by fair and noble words, in his
rhythms, the figures, and in his melodies, the music of temperate
and brave and in every way good men.
Cle. But do you really imagine, Stranger, that this is the way in
which poets generally compose in States at the present day? As far
as I can observe, except among us and among the Lacedaemonians,
there are no regulations like those of which you speak; in other
places novelties are always being introduced in dancing and in
music, generally not under the authority of any law, but at the
instigation of lawless pleasures; and these pleasures are so far
from being the same, as you describe the Egyptian to be, or having the
same principles, that they are never the same.
Ath. Most true, Cleinias; and I daresay that I may have expressed
myself obscurely, and so led you to imagine that I was speaking of
some really existing state of things, whereas I was only saying what
regulations I would like to have about music; and hence there occurred
a misapprehension on your part. For when evils are far gone and
irremediable, the task of censuring them is never pleasant, although
at times necessary. But as we do not really differ, will you let me
ask you whether you consider such institutions to be more prevalent
among the Cretans and Lacedaemonians than among the other Hellenes?
Cle. Certainly they are.
Ath. And if they were extended to the other Hellenes, would it be an
improvement on the present state of things?
Cle. A very great improvement, if the customs which prevail among
them were such as prevail among us and the Lacedaemonians, and such as
you were just now saying ought to prevail.
Ath. Let us see whether we understand one another:-Are not the
principles of education and music which prevail among you as
follows: you compel your poets to say that the good man, if he be
temperate and just, is fortunate and happy; and this whether he be
great and strong or small and weak, and whether he be rich or poor;
and, on the other hand, if he have a wealth passing that of Cinyras or
Midas, and be unjust, he is wretched and lives in misery? As the
poet says, and with truth: I sing not, I care not about him who
accomplishes all noble things, not having justice; let him who
"draws near and stretches out his hand against his enemies be a just

Previous | Next
Site Search