republic (books 6 - 10)
the goodness and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding
in him, will do what he is told by him?
The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or bad-
ness of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this
he will gain from him who knows, by talking to him and being
compelled to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will
But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use
whether or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? or will he
have right opinion from being compelled to associate with an-
other who knows and gives him instructions about what he
Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have
knowledge about the goodness or badness of his imitations?
I suppose not.
The imitative artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence
about his own creations?
Nay, very much the reverse.
And still he will go on imitating without knowing what
makes a thing good or bad, and may be expected therefore to
imitate only that which appears to be good to the ignorant
Thus far, then, we are pretty well agreed that the imitator
has no knowledge worth mentioning of what he imitates. Im-
itation is only a kind of play or sport, and the tragic poets,
whether they write in iambic or in heroic verse, are imitators
in the highest degree?
And now tell me, I conjure you, has not imitation been shown
by us to be concerned with that which is thrice removed from
And what is the faculty in man to which imitation is ad-
What do you mean?
I will explain: The body which is large when seen near, ap-
pears small when seen at a distance?
And the same objects appear straight when looked at out
of the water, and crooked when in the water; and the concave