i n P l a t o ' s R e p u b l i c
[327a] Socrates: I went
down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaucon, the son of Ariston, that I
might offer up my devotions to the Goddess (presumably Bendis, though
is hreos for an Athenian), and also because I wanted to see how
they would celebrate the festival, since this was its inauguration.
Plato Republic 378c (Loeb)
[378b] Adeimantus, they are stories
not to be repeated in our State; the young man should not be told that
in committing the worst of crimes he is far from doing anything outrageous;
and that even if he chastises his father when does wrong, in whatever manner,
he will only be following the example of the first and greatest of the
Plato Republic 379e (Loeb)
Then we must not listen [379d]
from Homer or any other poet the folly of such error as this about the
Gods when he says
Two urns stand on the floor of the palace of Zeus and are filled withand that he to whom Zeus gives a mixture of the two
Now upon evil he chances and now again good is his portion,but that he to whom is given the cup of unmingled ill,
Hunger devouring drives him, a wanderer over the wide world,[379e] nor will we tolerate the saying that
Zeus is dispenser alike of good and of evil to mortals.But if any one asserts that the violation of oaths and treaties, which was really the work of Pandarus, was brought about by Athena and Zeus, we will not approve, nor that the strife and contention of the Gods [380a] was instigated by Themis and Zeus; nor again must we permit our youth to hear what Aeschylus says
A God implants the guilty cause in menbut if any poets compose a 'Sorrows of Niobe,' the poem that contains these iambics verses, or a tale of the Pelopidae, or of the Trojan war, or anything else of the kind, we must either forbid them to say that these are the works of God, or if they are of God, he must devise some explanation of them such as we are seeking; he must say that God did what was just and right, and they were the better for being punished; but that those who are punished are miserable, and that God is the author of their misery -- the poet is not to be permitted to say; though he may say that the wicked are miserable because they require to be punished, and are benefited by receiving punishment from God; but that God being good is the author of evil to any one is to be strenuously denied, and not to be said or sung or heard in verse or prose by any one whether old or young in any well-ordered commonwealth.
Such a fiction is suicidal, ruinous, impious.
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Copyright ©1999 Roy George