fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good,
and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their
children the authorised ones only. Let them fashion the mind with such
tales, even more fondly than they mould
Yes, he said; I see now what you meant.
I will ask you to remember also what I began by saying, that we had done
with the subject and might proceed to the style.
Yes, I remember.
In saying this, I intended to imply that we must come to an
(I am no poet, and therefore I drop the metre), "The priest came and
prayed the gods on behalf of the Greeks that they might capture Troy and
return safely home, but begged that they would give him back his
daughter, and take the ransom which he brought,
And a narrative it remains both in the speeches which the poet recites
from time to time and in the intermediate passages?
But when the poet speaks in the person of another, may we not say that
he assimilates his style to that of the pers
Then I must make you understand; and perhaps I may be more intelligible
if I put the matter in this way. You are aware, I suppose, that all
mythology and poetry is a narration of events, either past, present, or
Certainly, he replied.
But we are not in a condition to answer this question at present, my
Because, if I am not mistaken, we shall have to say that about men poets
and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when
they tell us that wicked m
than men - sentiments which, as we were saying, are neither pious nor
true, for we have already proved that evil cannot come from the gods.
And further they are likely to have a bad effect on those who hear them;
for everybody will begin to
Loving Homer as I do, I hardly like to say that in attributing these
feelings to Achilles, or in believing that they are truly to him, he is
guilty of downright impiety. As little can I believe the narrative of
his insolence to Apollo, where he says,
a chain around Ares and Aphrodite?
Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not to hear
that sort of thing.
But any deeds of endurance which are done or told by famous men, these
they ought to see and hear; as, for example, what is sa
Then the same person will hardly be able to play a serious part in life,
and at the same time to be an imitator and imitate many other parts as
well; for even when two species of imitation are nearly allied, the same
persons cannot succeed in b
Very true, he replied.
Neither may they imitate smiths or other artificers, or oarsmen, or
boatswains, or the like?
How can they, he said, when they are not allowed to apply their minds to
the callings of any of these?
Nor may they imitate the neighing of
There remain then only the lyre and the harp for use in the city, and
the shepherds may have a pipe in the country.
That is surely the conclusion to be drawn from the argument.
The preferring of Apollo and his instruments to Marsyas and his
and freedom of action, when there is no pressure of necessity, and he is
seeking to persuade God by prayer, or man by instruction and admonition,
or on the other hand, when he is expressing his willingness to yield to
persuasion or entreaty or admonition,
And which are the harmonies expressive of sorrow? You are musical, and
can tell me.
The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian, and the
full-toned or bass Lydian, and such like.
These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have
Next in order will follow melody and song.
That is obvious.
Every one can see already what we ought to say about them, if we are to
be consistent with ourselves.
I fear, said Glaucon, laughing, that the words "every one" hardly
includes me, for I cannot a
But I suppose you would argue that such a style is unsuitable to our
State, in which human nature is not twofold or manifold, for one man
plays one part only?
Yes; quite unsuitable.
And this is the reason why in our State, and in our State only, we shall
but slight changes; and if the harmony and rhythm are also chosen for
their simplicity, the result is that the speaker, if he speaks
correctly, is always pretty much the same in style, and he will keep
within the limits of a single harmony (for the change
part which he has never practised, nor will he like to fashion and frame
himself after the baser models; he feels the employment of such an art,
unless in jest, to be beneath him, and his mind revolts at it.
So I should expect, he replied.
Then he will ad
characters which are suitable to their profession - the courageous,
temperate, holy, free, and the like; but they should not depict or be
skilful at imitating any kind of illiberality or baseness, lest from
imitation they should come to be what they imita
rulers, whether in verse or prose, are well or ill spoken?
They are ill spoken.
They may very possibly afford some amusement, but they do not conduce to
temperance. And therefore they are likely to do harm to our young men -you would agree with me there?
Most certainly, he said, if our idea of the State is ever carried out.
In the next place our youth must be temperate?
Are not the chief elements of temperance, speaking generally, obedience
to commanders and self-control in sensual pleasures?
down cities in all sorts of forms,
and let no one slander Proteus and Thetis, neither let any one, either
in tragedy or in any other kind of poetry, introduce Here disguised in
the likeness of a priestess asking an alms
For the life-giving daughters of In
Of course they are.
Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many
But may he not change and transform himself?
Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.
And will he then change himself for the
Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many
assert, but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things
that occur to men. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the
evils, and the good is to be attributed
God plants guilt among men when he desires utterly to destroy a house.
And if a poet writes of the sufferings of Niobe - the subject of the
tragedy in which these iambic verses occur - or of the house of Pelops,
or of the Trojan war or on any similar them
I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.
Well, I said; but if we suppose a change in anything, that change must
be effected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing?
And things which are at their best are also least li
And no good thing is hurtful?
And that which is not hurtful hurts not?
And that which hurts not does no evil?
And can that which does no evil be a cause of evil?
And the good is advantageous?
unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any, quarrel
between citizens; this is what old men and old women should begin by
telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told
to compose for them in a similar spirit. But the
First of all, I said, there was that greatest of all lies, in high
places, which the poet told about Uranus, and which was a bad lie too,
- I mean what Hesiod says that Uranus did, and how Cronus retaliated on
him. The doings of Cronus, and the sufferings
highest part of himself, or about the truest and highest matters; there,
above all, he is most afraid of a lie having possession of him.
Still, he said, I do not comprehend you.
The reason is, I replied, that you attribute some profound meaning to my