republic (books 6 - 10)
And is this confined to the sight only, or does it extend to
the hearing also, relating in fact to what we term poetry?
Probably the same would be true of poetry.
Do not rely, I said, on a probability derived from the analogy
of painting; but let us examine further and see whether the
faculty with which poetical imitation is concerned is good or
By all means.
We may state the question thus: Imitation imitates the ac-
tions of men, whether voluntary or involuntary, on which, as
they imagine, a good or bad result has ensued, and they rejoice
or sorrow accordingly. Is there anything more?
No, there is nothing else.
But in all this variety of circumstances is the man at unity
with himself--or, rather, as in the instance of sight there were
confusion and opposition in his opinions about the same things,
so here also are there not strife and inconsistency in his life?
though I need hardly raise the question again, for I remember
that all this has been already admitted; and the soul has been
acknowledged by us to be full of these and ten thousand similar
oppositions occurring at the same moment?
And we were right, he said.
Yes, I said, thus far we were right; but there was an omis-
sion which must now be supplied.
What was the omission?
Were we not saying that a good man, who has the misfortune
to lose his son or anything else which is most dear to him,
will bear the loss with more equanimity than another?
But will he have no sorrow, or shall we say that although
he cannot help sorrowing, he will moderate his sorrow?
The latter, he said, is the truer statement.
Tell me: will he be more likely to struggle and hold out
against his sorrow when he is seen by his equals, or when he is
It will make a great difference whether he is seen or not.
When he is by himself he will not mind saying or doing many
things which he would be ashamed of anyone hearing or seeing
There is a principle of law and reason in him which bids him
resist, as well as a feeling of his misfortune which is forcing
him to indulge his sorrow?