laws (books 1 - 6)
and have been trained under a singing master, he is pinched and
hungry, he will certainly have a feeling of shame and discomfort which
will make him very unwilling to exhibit.
Cle. No doubt.
Ath. How, then, shall we reassure him, and get him to sing? Shall we
begin by enacting that boys shall not taste wine at all until they are
eighteen years of age; we will tell them that fire must not be
poured upon fire, whether in the body or in the soul, until they begin
to go to work-this is a precaution which has to be taken against the
excitableness of youth;-afterwards they may taste wine in moderation
up to the age of thirty, but while a man is young he should abstain
altogether from intoxication and from excess of wine; when, at length,
he has reached forty years, after dinner at a public mess, he may
invite not only the other Gods, but Dionysus above all, to the mystery
and festivity of the elder men, making use of the wine which he has
given men to lighten the sourness of old age; that in age we may renew
our youth, and forget our sorrows; and also in order that the nature
of the soul, like iron melted in the fire, may become softer and so
more impressible. In the first place, will not any one who is thus
mellowed be more ready and less ashamed to sing-I do not say before
a large audience, but before a moderate company; nor yet among
strangers, but among his familiars, and, as we have often said, to
chant, and to enchant?
Cle. He will be far more ready.
Ath. There will be no impropriety in our using such a method of
persuading them to join with us in song.
Cle. None at all.
Ath. And what strain will they sing, and what muse will they hymn?
The strain should clearly be one suitable to them.
Ath. And what strain is suitable for heroes? Shall they sing a
Cle. Truly, Stranger, we of Crete and Lacedaemon know no strain
other than that which we have learnt and been accustomed to sing in
Ath. I dare say; for you have never acquired the knowledge of the
most beautiful kind of song, in your military way of life, which is
modelled after the camp, and is not like that of dwellers in cities;
and you have your young men herding and feeding together like young
colts. No one takes his own individual colt and drags him away from
his fellows against his will, raging and foaming, and gives him a
groom to attend to him alone, and trains and rubs him down
privately, and gives him the qualities in education which will make
him not only a good soldier, but also a governor of a state and of
cities. Such an one, as we said at first, would be a greater warrior
than he of whom Tyrtaeus sings; and he would honour courage
everywhere, but always as the fourth, and not as the first part of
virtue, either in individuals or states.
Cle. Once more, Stranger, I must complain that you depreciate our
Ath. Not intentionally, if at all, my good friend; but whither the
argument leads, thither let us follow; for if there be indeed some
strain of song more beautiful than that of the choruses or the
public theatres, I should like to impart it to those who, as we say,
are ashamed of these, and want to have the best.
Ath. When things have an accompanying charm, either the best thing
in them is this very charm, or there is some rightness or utility
possessed by them;-for example, I should say that eating and drinking,
and the use of food in general, have an accompanying charm which we
call pleasure; but that this rightness and utility is just the
healthfulness of the things served up to us, which is their true
Cle. Just so.