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10.4: A Call to Poetry’s Defenders

  • Page ID
    94579
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    See 606e-608b. “Hymns to the gods and eulogies of good people,” Socrates says, “are the only poetry we can admit into our city.” And presumably he means not just any hymns and eulogies, but only those informed by a genuine understanding of what it is to be good. “The imitative poetry that aims at pleasure” must be rejected, unless an argument can be brought forward that shows that such poetry “gives not only pleasure but also benefit both to constitutions and to human life.” It is clear that Socrates would welcome such a defense of poetry, but in the absence of one, he recommends behaving like people who, having fallen passionately in love, judge their passion to be harmful, and so, make a point of avoiding the source of the temptation.

    • The poetry that aims at pleasure and imitation stands accused. Can you defend it? (In thinking this through, you might look at attempted defenses by the English poets Sir Philip Sidney and Percy Shelley.)
    • What would Socrates think of a work of literary art such as Plato’s Republic?


    This page titled 10.4: A Call to Poetry’s Defenders is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Douglas Drabkin.

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