Plato's Republic

by Plato

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Poetry and unreality by Plato plato

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That's not a question, now is it?

There is certainly a chapter in Plato's Republic called "Poetry and Unreality." It is Chapter 13. Want to know more? The chapter, like the rest of the Republic is a dialogue. This dialogue is between two people, Socrates and Glaucon. The dialogue is about poetry and its relevance to the State. In general, the question being decided is whether or not poetry has a useful place in a good, well-run society. What do you think the conclusion is? Do you want to know?

Well, as it turns out, Plato (who wrote the Republic and all the dialogues contained therein), must have had something bad to eat the day he wrote this chapter, because he seems to have little use for poets, from Homer on down. According to his character, Socrates, and with the agreement of Glaucon, poets are not just mere imitators of imitators, the emotions they portray can be detrimental to people who read or see their works performed. In short, if poets want a place in a good society, they had better watch what they say.

Now, aren't you glad you didn't ask? :-)

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