Plato’s Republic

What does Plato have against poets?In what sense may all art
Plato’s belief was that art is fundamentally based on imitation.It
was this imitation which made art inferior, combined with the
unsuitable moral content of some art.Plato’s condemnation of art is
seen by some as too rationalist and “depriving it of all its charms” (Otto
Modern objections to Plato’s theory of art assert that he fails to
discover the specific nature of artist creation; that the process of
imitation is necessary: creating a new reality from an artist’s own
imagination.W.J. Verdenius, in examining the whole issue, asks two
questions which I shall deal with: “Firstly whether Plato really intended
imitation to mean a slavish copy, and secondly, whether modern
aestheticians are right in disregarding the imitative elements in art and
in considering phantasy and self-expression to be its fundamental
On poetic inspiration, Plato says in the “Ion”: “God takes away the
mind of these men and uses them as his ministers…in order that we
who hear them may know that it is not they who utter these words of
great price when they are out of their wits, but that it is God himself
who speaks and addresses us through them.”
Here we appear to have a strange paradox; for Plato writes of the
goodness of gods but tries to use this to condemn at least the content
of legends concerning mischievous gods.So if it is the Muse who
inspires and communicates through artists, and having established that
“There is no falsehood at all in the realm of the spiritual and divine”
(382e), how can what the poets say be condemned?This is a
contradiction which Plato only partly resolves: “We can only conclude
that the artist himself is to blame for confusing the inspiration of the
Muse” (Verdenius) thus the artist is not in a state of total possession by
the Muse and the artist’s own feelings and character influence the work…


I'm Sandulf

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