PLATO VERSUS
THE ARTISTS
REPUBLIC 10 IN CONTEXT
OUTLINE
• Plato’s aesthetics in Rep. 10 as extension of
critiques in Rep. 2 & 3
– Homer, Hesiod criticised on religious, educational
grounds
– Mimesis first mooted: returns in Rep. 10
• Rep. 10 critique of mimetic painting & poetry:
epic and tragedy
– Ontological & epistemological grounds
– Psychological and ethical reasons also
• Plato’s use of/reaction to earlier thinkers
– Presocratics, Sophists, et al.
PLATONIC AESTHETICS I
• Inseparable from
–
–
–
–
–
–
Education
Ontology: theories of ‘being’
Epistemology: theories of knowledge
Psychology
Ethics & Justice
Politics
• Issues addressed elsewhere in Republic
– Plato addresses legacy of poets: Homer, Hesiod, et al.
– His intellectual precursors
– Poets seen as teachers of religion, ethics, law
PLATONIC AESTHETICS II
• Plato expresses different views on art & poetry
elsewhere
– Phaedrus: Plato admires mania of poet
– Apology: invokes Achilles as his model!
– Plato is himself a supreme literary artist (and knows it!)
– Ion: poetry beautiful and true
• But poets/rhapsodes irrational
• Operate under inspiration = ENTHOUSIASMOS
– Republic 10: poet = imitator only
• No inspiration
• Plato on poetry: Curb Your Enthousiasmos
PLATONIC AESTHETICS III
• Anticipated and contradicted by other Greek thinkers
– Xenophanes c. 570-480 BC
– Heraclitus, active, c. 500 BC
– Protagoras, c. 490-20 BC
• Antilogica said to contain everything in Plato’s
Republic!
• But Protagoras sees poetry at the heart of education
– Gorgias, c. 480-375 BC
– Democritus, c. 465-380 BC
– Dissoi Logoi - sophistic treatise c. 400 BC
• Ethics
• Epistemology
• Aesthetics
Why does Plato banish epic &
tragic poetry in Republic 10?
• Cultural issues to be explored
• Centrality of poetry in Archaic & Classical Greece
– Vehicle for social values, mores,
– History, education, cultural identity
– But also a lot more…
• Greece in 400s till largely an oral & visual culture
– I.e. not ‘bookish’
– Literacy a public phenomenon = reading aloud
– Paintings, statues, buildings also shape & reflect public
sentiment & ideology
Homeric poetry in schools
• Recitation of Iliad &
Odyssey
• Seen as educative
– Religion, lore, ethics
– Herodotus, Plato,
Xenophon
– Cf. Aristophanes Frogs
• But criticised early
– Xenophanes & Heraclitus
• Iliad very complex in
ethics
REPUBLIC 2 & 3: Plato on
Homer and Hesiod
Homer: Iliad and Odyssey
Hesiod: Theogony & Works and Days
Art, Epic & Tragedy
in Classical Athens
Acropolis, Athens
Theatre of Dionysos
Cf. Pericles: ‘Look on her power and become a
lover of the city.’ (Thucydides)
Athens: ‘The School of Hellas’
• By 450 BC Athens is imperial
power
• ‘ Periclean Golden Age’
• Funeral Speech
• Thucydides’ History book 2
• Athens as cultural centre
•
•
•
•
•
Pericles rules 443-29 BC
Intellectuals
Sophists/philosophers
Poets
Playwrights:
Home of Tragedy and Comedy:
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides,
Aristophanes, et al.
• Cultural festivals:
• Panathenaia, City Dionysia, etc.
Athens: Home of Socrates
• The self-professed gadfly
of Athens
• Denounces
–
–
–
–
Pericles
Tragedy
Rhetoric
Democracy
• Championed by Plato
• Views presented in
Republic and elsewhere
Socrates: A problem to his city
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Death of Socrates,
Jacques-Louis David
REPUBLIC 2 & 3:
Critiques of Archaic poets
• Book 2: 377c-383
– Homer and Hesiod tell salacious stories about the
gods:
• Castration of Ouranos by Kronos
• Kronos’ cannibalism
– Questionable theology
– Poets wrong teachings re gods’ actions and natures
• Cf. Xenophanes on Homer and Hesiod
• Stories affect listeners & shape their soul
– Power of poetry one of its problems for Plato
– Recurs again in Republic 10
– Must be censored (even if true! Rep. 378b)
Saturn (=Kronos) Devouring his Children
Goya
Rubens
REPUBLIC 2 & 3:
Critiques of Archaic poets
• Book 3: ethical qualms raised
– Achilles vs Agamemnon: insubordinate, greedy
– Heroes fear death - bad example for Guardians
• Possible responses:
–
–
–
–
–
Allegories of Homeric poetry by Theagenes, et al.
Plato/Socrates assumes depiction=endorsement
Ignores Nestor’s attempt at reconciliation
No aesthetic differentiation
Cf. Democritus and Gorgias focus on emotive
pleasure of poetry: anticipate Aristotle’s Poetics
REPUBLIC 2 & 3:
Critiques of Archaic poets
• Mimesis: 395b & ff
– Poet/rhapsode’s performative art
– Violates one-person/one job rule of Republic
– Affects poet and listeners - emotional power again
•
•
•
•
Fall under its spell
People become assimilated to characters they see, hear
No aesthetic differentiation again
But concedes mimesis of good men acceptable: 398b
– Plato contrasts with diegesis (=prose narrative)
– No meter, harmonies, hyper-stylised language
– implications for Rep. 10
REPUBLIC 10: Critique of
Mimetic Painting & Poetry
• Mimesis now rejected
– Psychology, epistemology, education
– Theory of Forms
– Outlined in books 4-9 of Rep.
• Painting used as extensive analogy for mimetic
poetry
• Both media subject to Plato’s
–
–
–
–
Ontology
Epistemology
Psychology
Ethics & Justice
REPUBLIC 10 (595-603):
On Painting & Poetry
• 598-599: Ontology
– Painting = mimesis phantasmatos
– Imitation of an appearance
– Couch example and invocation of Forms
• 600-601: Epistemology
– Painters and poets = ignorant, so, too, their public
– Operate at 3 removes from truth & deceive public: 598c
– User/maker/imitator argument
• 602-3: Psychology
–
–
–
–
Painting plays havoc with our senses
Seductive, erotic, magical language used
Mimetic art as courtesan (hetaira) to our senses
Epithumetikon vs Logistikon
REPUBLIC 10 (603-607):
On Epic Poetry & Tragedy
• Psychology
– Meter, harmony, music beguiles us
– Seductive, erotic, magical language used (cf. painting)
– Grief: tragedy, etc. panders to ‘irrational’ and emotive elements in
us
• Epithumetkon implied
– This part is opposite to ‘what is best in us’
• Logistikon implied
• But NB the ‘noble lie’ behind the poltical structure of the
Republic
– What makes this better than poets’ ‘lies’?
REPUBLIC 10 (605c-607):
‘The Greatest Charge’
• It corrupts the best of us (cf. painting)
• NB its emotive power
• pleasure in sympathising with sufferings of others
• People assimilate Homeric tragic characters’
behaviour to own lives
• the more you indulge these emotions, the more
you encourage them
• no cleansing katharis here
Poets destabilise our psychological ‘order’
Justice = Psychological order
Mimetic poets to be banned (!)
 but encomia to good men allowed (607a)



Specific Platonic Targets?
Hector and Andromache,
Cf. Iliad 6
Priam and Achilles
Iliad 24
Specific Platonic Targets?
Sophocles’ Ajax;
cf. amphora by Exekias, c. 530 BC
SOME RESPONSES
• Plato ignores moments in Homer of heroic restraint
of emotion; Achilles and Priam again
• Gorgias on cleverness of audience (B23)
• recognition of artistic fiction
•Cf. Dissoi Logoi on painting and tragedy
• Aeschines and Isocrates (orators, active c. 410350) provide opposite evidence to Plato
• Democritus - other people’s suffering can make us
count our blessings and help
SOME RESPONSES
Aristotle: Plato’s greatest student and greatest critic:
Poetics defends art and poetry
Aristotle Contemplating Homer (Rembrandt, c.
Descargar

IMAGES AND EMOTIONS