laws (books 1 - 6)
Ath. Thus, too, I should say that learning has a certain
accompanying charm which is the pleasure; but that the right and the
profitable, the good and the noble, are qualities which the truth
gives to it.
Ath. And so in the imitative arts-if they succeed in making
likenesses, and are accompanied by pleasure, may not their works be
said to have a charm?
Ath. But equal proportions, whether of quality or quantity, and
not pleasure, speaking generally, would give them truth or rightness.
Ath. Then that only can be rightly judged by the standard of
pleasure, which makes or furnishes no utility or truth or likeness,
nor on the other hand is productive of any hurtful quality, but exists
solely for the sake of the accompanying charm; and the term "pleasure"
is most appropriately applied to it when these other qualities are
Cle. You are speaking of harmless pleasure, are you not?
Ath. Yes; and this I term amusement, when doing neither harm nor
good in any degree worth speaking of.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. Then, if such be our principles, we must assert that
imitation is not to be judged of by pleasure and false opinion; and
this is true of all equality, for the equal is not equal or the
symmetrical symmetrical, because somebody thinks or likes something,
but they are to be judged of by the standard of truth, and by no other
Cle. Quite true.
Ath. Do we not regard all music as representative and imitative?
Ath. Then, when any one says that music is to be judged of by
pleasure, his doctrine cannot be admitted; and if there be any music
of which pleasure is the criterion, such music is not to be sought out
or deemed to have any real excellence, but only that other kind of
music which is an imitation of the good.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. And those who seek for the best kind of song and music ought
not to seek for that which is pleasant, but for that which is true;
and the truth of imitation consists, as we were saying, in rendering
the thing imitated according to quantity and quality.
Ath. And every one will admit that musical compositions are all
imitative and representative. Will not poets and spectators and actors
all agree in this?
Cle. They will.
Ath. Surely then he who would judge correctly must know what each
composition is; for if he does not know what is the character and
meaning of the piece, and what it represents, he will never discern
whether the intention is true or false.
Cle. Certainly not.
Ath. And will he who does not know what is true be able to
distinguish what is good and bad? My statement is not very clear;
but perhaps you will understand me better if I put the matter in
Ath. There are ten thousand likenesses of objects of sight?
Ath. And can he who does not know what the exact object is which
is imitated, ever know whether the resemblance is truthfully executed?
I mean, for example, whether a statue has the proportions of a body,
and the true situation of the parts; what those proportions are, and
how the parts fit into one another in due order; also their colours
and conformations, or whether this is all confused in the execution: