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PLATO VERSUS THE ARTISTS REPUBLIC 10 IN CONTEXT. OUTLINE Platos aesthetics in Rep. 10 as extension of critiques in Rep. 2 & 3 –Mimesis first mooted: returns.

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Presentation on theme: "PLATO VERSUS THE ARTISTS REPUBLIC 10 IN CONTEXT. OUTLINE Platos aesthetics in Rep. 10 as extension of critiques in Rep. 2 & 3 –Mimesis first mooted: returns."— Presentation transcript:


2 OUTLINE Platos aesthetics in Rep. 10 as extension of critiques in Rep. 2 & 3 –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 Some specific targets? Scenes from Homer Overall political & cultural critique

3 PLATONIC AESTHETICS 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

4 PLATONIC AESTHETICS II Plato expresses different views on art & poetry elsewhere Phaedrus: Plato admires mania of poet Ion: poetry beautiful and true –But poets/rhapsodes irrational and lack knowledge –Have no rational control –Operate under inspiration = ENTHOUSIASMOS Republic 10: poet = imitator only –No inspiration –Plato on poetry: Curb Your Enthousiasmos Apology: Socrates invokes Homeric Achilles as his model!

5 SOCRATIC ACHILLES? Socrates?Achilles?

6 SOCRATIC ACHILLES? Achilles?Socrates?

7 PLATOS FORERUNNERS Anticipated and contradicted by other Greek thinkers Xenophanes c BC Heraclitus, active, c. 500 BC Protagoras, c BC Antilogica said to contain everything in Platos Republic! But Protagoras sees poetry at the heart of education Gorgias, c BC Democritus, c BC Dissoi Logoi - sophistic treatise c. 400 BC Ethics Epistemology Aesthetics

8 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, politics –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

9 Athens vs Persia Spearheads triumph over Persia Marathon 490 Major invasion 10 years later Salamis 480, Plataea 479 Sets up Delian league

10 Athens, post 480 BC Spearheads triumph over Persia Sets up Delian league –Source of tribute and wealth to protect states from Persia –Becomes treasury for Athenian empire

11 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 Intellectuals Sophists/philosophers Poets Playwrights Cultural festivals: Panathenaia, City Dionysia, etc. Pericles rules BC

12 Athens as Cultural leader Theatre of Dionysos Acropolis, Athens Cf. Pericles: Look on her power and become a lover of the city. (Thucydides)

13 Athens: Home of Tragedy Aeschylus: BC Euripides, c Sophocles, c

14 Some Greek writers on art Polyclitus –Sculptor active c BC –Author of Canon –A technical treatise –Philosophical overtones? Parrhasius Empedocles Hippias Gorgias Democritus Apelles Euphranor, et al. –Sources in Pliny –Vitruvius Polyclitus, Doryphorus c. 445 BC

15 Athens: The School of Hellas Socrates denounces mainstays of Attic civic and cultural life Rhetoric Tragedy Homeric epic Democracy Legal procedures Political leaders like Pericles, et al. Socrates; seen by many many as dangerously pro-Spartan Oligarchic/anti-democratic Socrates not a fan

16 Aftermath of Peloponnesian War 404/3 BC Athens defeated by Sparta & Allies Loses empire & Long Walls razed 30 tyrants imposed by Sparta –Critias, Charmides, et al. –Students of Socrates Democracy restored 403 –Amnesty granted; no political charges allowed –Socrates brought to trial on non-political charges –Extreme democrats want him punished

17 Socrates: A problem to his city Death of Socrates, Jacques-Louis David

18 Related to oligarchs Critias & Charmides Plato writes dialogues 380s-350s after Athens loses war Dialogues: scope for character, narrative, wit, irony Plato: a great philosopher in own right supreme literary artist also said to be a champion wrestler when young … PLATO BC

19 His misspent youth?

20 REPUBLIC 2 & 3: Plato on Homer and Hesiod Homer: Iliad and Odyssey Hesiod: Theogony & Works and Days

21 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

22 Xenophanes of Colophon, c General skepticism: B34 –But still dogmatic himself Critique of conventional religion in art and epic poetry Critic of social conventions Anthropomorphic religion –Homer & Hesiod Mythic subject matter (B1) –Titanomachies, –Centauromachies, etc. Postulates ethically sound sympotic poetry François vase, c. 570

23 Xenophanes: frr. 11,14, 15, 16 B 11: Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods everything that is a shame and reproach among men: stealing, adultery and deceiving each other. B14: But mortals consider that the gods are born, and that they have clothes and speech and bodies like their own. B15: But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and produce (telein) the works that men do, horses would draw the forms of gods like horses, and cattle like cattle and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves. B16: The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.

24 Xenophanes theology B 23: One god, greatest among gods and men, in no way similar to mortals either in body or shape. B24: All of him sees, all of him thinks, all of him hears. B 25/26: Always he remains in the same place, moving not at all; nor is it fitting for him to go to different places at different times, but without toil he shakes all things by the thought of his mind. Cf. Homer Iliad Zeus nods his head and shakes great Olympos

25 Heraclitus as critic of popular religion Heraclitus not opposed to religion per se –Certain conventional aspects of it –People fail to understand nature of divine –Dionysos/Hades are one B15 Role of thunderbolt/Zeus in cosmos B64 –Homer calls Zeus Terpikeraunos B 32: The one thing which alone is wise wants to be and does not want to be called the name of Zeus. –goes beyond Xenophanes –But still invokes Zeus Heraclitus by Raphael

26 Heraclitus as critic of Homer, et al. Trenchant criticisms; competitive intellectual environment –B 104: For what is their intelligence or sense? They obey singers and use the mob as teachers, not knowing that many are bad, but few are good. –B 42: Homer should be thrown out of the contests and beaten; likewise Archilochos. –B 40: Learning many things does not teach intelligence; for it would have taught Hesiod, Pythagoras, and again Xenophanes and Hecataeus. –B 56: Homer wiser than all the Greeks defeated by riddle of the lice. Heraclitus by Raphael

27 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)

28 Saturn (=Kronos) Devouring his Children RubensGoya

29 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 Nestors attempt at reconciliation No aesthetic differentiation Cf. Democritus and Gorgias focus on emotive pleasure of poetry: anticipate Aristotles Poetics

30 REPUBLIC 2 & 3: Critiques of Archaic poets Mimesis: 395b & ff Poet/rhapsodes 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

31 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 Platos –Ontology: theory of being –Epistemology: theory of knowledge –Psychology –Ethics & Justice: political implications

32 REPUBLIC 10 ( ): On Painting & Poetry : Ontology –Painting = mimesis phantasmatos –Imitation of an appearance; on 3rd remove from reality –Couch example and invocation of Forms : 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

33 REPUBLIC 10 ( ): 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 political structure of the Republic –What makes this better than poets lies?


35 REPUBLIC 10 (605c-607b): 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)

36 Specific Platonic Targets? Hector and Andromache, Cf. Iliad 6 Priam and Achilles Iliad 24

37 Specific Platonic Targets? Priam and Achilles Iliad 24

38 Specific Platonic Targets? Sophocles Ajax; cf. amphora by Exekias, c. 530 BC

39 NEXT TIME: 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 ) provide opposite evidence to Plato Democritus - other peoples suffering can make us count our blessings and help

40 SOME RESPONSES Aristotle: Platos greatest student and greatest critic: Poetics defends art and poetry

41 SOME RESPONSES Aristotle: Platos greatest student and greatest critic: Poetics defends art and poetry Aristotle Contemplating Homer (Rembrandt, c. 1650)

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