Aug 28 • 5M

Plato on the nature of poetry

Practical Wisdom podcast, episode 9

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Appears in this episode

Massimo Pigliucci
Practical Wisdom is a short weekly podcast produced by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci of the City College of New York. The idea is to sample the philosophical writings of a wide range of Greco-Roman authors in search of insights that may be useful for modern life. Currently, we are examining five works: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics; Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations; Epictetus’s Discourses; Epicurus’s Being Happy (letters and aphorisms); and Plato’s early Socratic dialogues (Ion, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, and Euthydemus). Available also on Apple, Google, and Spotify.
Episode details

“SOCRATES: This fine speaking of yours about Homer, as I was saying a moment ago, is not a skill at all. What moves you is a divine power. …

For all good epic poets recite all that splendid poetry not by virtue of a skill, but in a state of inspiration and possession. The same is true of good lyric poets as well. … Or don’t you think I’ve got it right, Ion?

ION: By Zeus, I think you have. Somehow or other your words touch my soul, Socrates, and I do believe good poets interpret these messages from the gods for us by divine dispensation.

SOCRATES: So you rhapsodes in turn interpret the words of the poets, don’t you?

ION: You’re right in that, too.

SOCRATES: So your role is to be interpreters of interpreters?

ION: Surely.” (Plato, Ion, 533b-535a)

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