Plato_Ion - Section from Ion by Plato in Goldblatt and...

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Section from Ion by Plato in Goldblatt and Brown 1. Ion has come from gaining first prize at a festival at Epidaurus [a city in Greece] and will now compete in Athens at the Panathenaea. Socrates [ironically] envies his profession, for he must always wear fine clothes and look beautiful, and especially because he must understand Homer who is the best and most divine poet. A rhapsode must be able to understand the meaning of the poet whose poems he recites for he must interpret the mind of the poet to his hearers. 2. Ion: Yes, interpretation is the most laborious part of my art. I can speak better about Homer than anyone. Soc: I will hear your embellishments of Homer some other time. But does your art extend to Hesiod and Archilochus, or to Homer only? Ion: Homer only. Ion admits there are many things in which Homer and Hesiod agree, and insists he can interpret them equally on such matters. On matters in which they disagree, however, say on divination [making prophecies], a good prophet would be a better interpreter. 3. Soc: Homer speaks of the same themes as the other poets: war, human society, intercourse of men, of the gods with each other and with men, about what happens in the heavens and below, and about the generations of gods and heroes. Ion: Other poets speak of these same things, but in a worse way. 4. Soc: Surely, in discussions about arithmetic the arithmetician judges better, and in wholesomeness of food, the physician will be able to distinguish the better speaker. If you know the good speaker then you know the inferior to be inferior. 5. Soc: So, Ion should be equally skilled in Homer and the other poets. Ion: But why do I lose attention and sleep when I listen to talk about other poets? I have no ideas about other poets.
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