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Pages of laws (books 7 - 12)



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laws (books 7 - 12)   


there can be few greater mistakes. Shall we then propose as one of our
laws and models relating to the Muses-
Cle. What?-will you explain the law more precisely?
Ath. Shall we make a law that the poet shall compose nothing
contrary to the ideas of the lawful, or just, or beautiful, or good,
which are allowed in the state? nor shall he be permitted to
communicate his compositions to any private individuals, until he
shall have shown them to the appointed judges and the guardians of the
law, and they are satisfied with them. As to the persons whom we
appoint to be our legislators about music and as to the director of
education, these have been already indicated. Once more then, as I
have asked more than once, shall this be our third law, and type,
and model-What do you say?
Cle. Let it be so, by all means.
Ath. Then it will be proper to have hymns and praises of the Gods,
intermingled with prayers; and after the Gods prayers and praises
should be offered in like manner to demigods and heroes, suitable to
their several characters.
Cle. Certainly.
Ath. In the next place there will be no objection to a law, that
citizens who are departed and have done good and energetic deeds,
either with their souls or with their bodies, and have been obedient
to the laws, should receive eulogies; this will be very fitting.
Cle. Quite true.
Ath. But to honour with hymns and panegyrics those who are still
alive is not safe; a man should run his course, and make a fair
ending, and then we will praise him; and let praise be given equally
to women as well as men who have been distinguished in virtue. The
order of songs and dances shall be as follows:-There are many
ancient musical compositions and dances which are excellent, and
from these the newly-founded city may freely select what is proper and
suitable; and they shall choose judges of not less than fifty years of
age, who shall make the selection, and any of the old poems which they
deem sufficient they shall include; any that are deficient or
altogether unsuitable, they shall either utterly throw aside, or
examine and amend, taking into their counsel poets and musicians,
and making use of their poetical genius; but explaining to them the
wishes of the legislator in order that they may regulate dancing,
music, and all choral strains, according to the mind of the judges;
and not allowing them to indulge, except in some few matters, their
individual pleasures and fancies. Now the irregular strain of music is
always made ten thousand times better by attaining to law and order,
and rejecting the honeyed Muse-not however that we mean wholly to
exclude pleasure, which is the characteristic of all music. And if a
man be brought up from childhood to the age of discretion and maturity
in the use of the orderly and severe music, when he hears the opposite
he detests it, and calls it illiberal; but if trained in the sweet and
vulgar music, he deems the severer kind cold and displeasing. So that,
as I was saying before, while he who hears them gains no more pleasure
from the one than from the other, the one has the advantage of
making those who are trained in it better men, whereas the other makes
them worse.
Cle. Very true.
Ath. Again, we must distinguish and determine on some general
principle what songs are suitable to women, and what to men, and
must assign to them their proper melodies and rhythms. It is
shocking for a whole harmony to be inharmonical, or for a rhythm to be
unrhythmical, and this will happen when the melody is inappropriate to
them. And therefore the legislator must assign to these also their
forms. Now both sexes have melodies and rhythms which of necessity
belong to them; and those of women are clearly enough indicated by
their natural difference. The grand, and that which tends to
courage, may be fairly called manly; but that which inclines to
moderation and temperance, may be declared both in law and in ordinary

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