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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


and is of two kinds: one of nobler figures, imitating the
honourable, the other of the more ignoble figures, imitating the mean;
and of both these there are two further subdivisions. Of the
serious, one kind is of those engaged in war and vehement action,
and is the exercise of a noble person and a manly heart; the other
exhibits a temperate soul in the enjoyment of prosperity and modest
pleasures, and may be truly called and is the dance of peace. The
warrior dance is different from the peaceful one, and may be rightly
termed Pyrrhic; this imitates the modes of avoiding blows and missiles
by dropping or giving way, or springing aside, or rising up or falling
down; also the opposite postures which are those of action, as, for
example, the imitation of archery and the hurling of javelins, and
of all sorts of blows. And when the imitation is of brave bodies and
souls, and the action is direct and muscular, giving for the most part
a straight movement to the limbs of the body-that, I say, is the
true sort; but the opposite is not right. In the dance of peace what
we have to consider is whether a man bears himself naturally and
gracefully, and after the manner of men who duly conform to the law.
But before proceeding I must distinguish the dancing about which there
is any doubt, from that about which there is no doubt. Which is the
doubtful kind, and how are the two to be distinguished? There are
dances of the Bacchic sort, both those in which, as they say, they
imitate drunken men, and which are named after the Nymphs, and Pan,
and Silenuses, and Satyrs; and also those in which purifications are
made or mysteries celebrated-all this sort of dancing cannot be
rightly defined as having either a peaceful or a warlike character, or
indeed as having any meaning whatever and may, I think, be most
truly described as distinct from the warlike dance, and distinct
from the peaceful, and not suited for a city at all. There let it lie;
and so leaving it to lie, we will proceed to the dances of war and
peace, for with these we are undoubtedly concerned. Now the
unwarlike muse, which honours in dance the Gods and the sons of the
Gods, is entirely associated with the consciousness of prosperity;
this class may be subdivided into two lesser classes, of which one
is expressive of an escape from some labour or danger into good, and
has greater pleasures, the other expressive of preservation and
increase of former good, in which the pleasure is less exciting;-in
all these cases, every man when the pleasure is greater, moves his
body more, and less when the pleasure is less; and, again, if he be
more orderly and has learned courage from discipline he waves less,
but if he be a coward, and has no training or self-control, he makes
greater and more violent movements, and in general when he is speaking
or singing he is not altogether able to keep his body still; and so
out of the imitation of words in gestures the whole art of dancing has
arisen. And in these various kinds of imitation one man moves in an
orderly, another in a disorderly manner; and as the ancients may be
observed to have given many names which are according to nature and
deserving of praise, so there is an excellent one which they have
given to the dances of men who in their times of prosperity are
moderate in their pleasures-the giver of names, whoever he was,
assigned to them a very true, and poetical, and rational name, when he
called them Emmeleiai, or dances of order, thus establishing two kinds
of dances of the nobler sort, the dance of war which he called the
Pyrrhic, and the dance of peace which he called Emmeleia, or the dance
of order; giving to each their appropriate and becoming name. These
things the legislator should indicate in general outline, and the
guardian of the law should enquire into them and search them out,
combining dancing with music, and assigning to the several sacrificial
feasts that which is suitable to them; and when he has consecrated all
of them in due order, he shall for the future change nothing,
whether of dance or song. Thenceforward the city and the citizens
shall continue to have the same pleasures, themselves being as far
as possible alike, and shall live well and happily.
I have described the dances which are appropriate to noble bodies

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