Plato's Political Theory of Music

Ref: The Republic

Gymnastic is for the body, and music is for the soul.

Gymnastic as well as music should begin in early years; the training in it should be careful and should continue through life.

Music includes literature and literature can be true or false. Therefore, censorship is necessary.

When modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.

The music style must be more narrative than imitative; the artist, willing to imitate only the good and virtuous.

A song or ode has three parts--the words, the melody, and the rhythm. The melody and rhythm must depend upon the words

The State must not allow mixed styles that create confusion.

The State must banish melodies that express lament and sorrow, and also banish instruments such as flute for promoting such melodies. Thus, only the lyre and harp are allowed.

When a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul through the funnel of his ears sweet and soft and melancholy airs, and his whole life is passed in warbling and the delights of song; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul; and he becomes a feeble warrior.

And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he was.

The end of music is the love of beauty.

Simplicity in music is the parent of temperance in the soul; simplicity in gymnastic, of health in the body.

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