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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


to be quite like a poem. When I reflected upon all these words of
ours. I naturally felt pleasure, for of all the discourses which I
have ever learnt or heard, either in poetry or prose, this seemed to
me to be the justest, and most suitable for young men to hear; I
cannot imagine any better pattern than this which the guardian of
the law who is also the director of education can have. He cannot do
better than advise the teachers to teach the young these words and any
which are of a like nature, if he should happen to find them, either
in poetry or prose, or if he come across unwritten discourses akin
to ours, he should certainly preserve them, and commit them to
writing. And, first of all, he shall constrain the teachers themselves
to learn and approve them, and any of them who will not, shall not
be employed by him, but those whom he finds agreeing in his
judgment, he shall make use of and shall commit to them the
instruction and education of youth. And here and on this wise let my
fanciful tale about letters and teachers of letters come to an end.
Cle. I do not think, Stranger, that we have wandered out of the
proposed limits of the argument; but whether we are right or not in
our whole conception, I cannot be very certain.
Ath. The truth, Cleinias, may be expected to become clearer when, as
we have often said, we arrive at the end of the whole discussion about
laws.
Cle. Yes.
Ath. And now that we have done with the teacher of letters, the
teacher of the lyre has to receive orders from us.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. I think that we have only to recollect our previous
discussions, and we shall be able to give suitable regulations
touching all this part of instruction and education to the teachers of
the lyre.
Cle. To what do you refer?
Ath. We were saying, if I remember rightly, that the
sixty-year-old choristers of Dionysus were to be specially quick in
their perceptions of rhythm and musical composition, that they might
be able to distinguish good and bad imitation, that is to say, the
imitation of the good or bad soul when under the influence of passion,
rejecting the one and displaying the other in hymns and songs,
charming the souls of youth, and inviting them to follow and attain
virtue by the way of imitation.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. And with this view, the teacher and the learner ought to use
the sounds of the lyre, because its notes are pure, the player who
teaches and his pupil rendering note for note in unison; but
complexity, and variation of notes, when the strings give one sound
and the poet or composer of the melody gives another-also when they
make concords and harmonies in which lesser and greater intervals,
slow and quick, or high and low notes, are combined-or, again, when
they make complex variations of rhythms, which they adapt to the notes
of the lyre-all that sort of thing is not suited to those who have
to acquire a speedy and useful knowledge of music in three years;
for opposite principles are confusing, and create a difficulty in
learning, and our young men should learn quickly, and their mere
necessary acquirements are not few or trifling, as will be shown in
due course. Let the director of education attend to the principles
concerning music which we are laying down. As to the songs and words
themselves which the masters of choruses are to teach and the
character of them, they have been already described by us, and are the
same which, when consecrated and adapted to the different festivals,
we said were to benefit cities by affording them an innocent
amusement.
Cle. That, again, is true.
Ath. Then let him who has been elected a director of music receive
these rules from us as containing the very truth; and may he prosper
in his office! Let us now proceed to lay down other rules in

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