PLATO: The Republic [Book X]

In Book X of Plato’s Republic, Socrates banishes all artists from his ideal State. He argues that the creations of art are farthest removed from truth; and therefore, art turns the mind of the spectator away from truth and toward the realm of becoming. For example, there are several instances of tables in the world, but only one idea of a table. A table-maker can make a table, but he cannot make the idea of a table. Even farther removed from the true idea of a table than the table of a table-maker is the painting of a table. “Tables, then, are of three kinds, and there are three artists who superintend them: God, the maker of the table, and the painter.” Continue reading

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PLATO: The Republic [Book III]

In Book III of Plato’s Republic, Socrates continues his discussion of poetry. He asserts that poetry ought to dispel the fear of death, not encourage it. For example, he criticizes Homer’s portrayal of Achilles in the underworld. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus meets Achilles in the underworld. Achilles tells Odysseus that he “would rather be a serf on the land of a poor man than rule over all the dead.” Socrates argues that this type of attitude will cultivate a fear of death in the minds of young men who read Homer’s Odyssey. This development of cowardice is contrary to Socrates’ goal of training men to “choose death in battle rather than defeat and slavery.” Continue reading