Plato and Poetry (2343 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Penelope Anne Murray (University of Warwick)
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Plato is well known for having banished poets from his ideal state in the Republic, yet he is the most poetic of philosophers. His dialogues are steeped in the language of poetry and myth, and even at their most technical they are shaped by a dramatist’s hand. In his youth he was said to have written poetry himself, but abandoned his early passion to devote himself to philosophy when he met Socrates. This no doubt fictional story captures something of the ambivalence of Plato’s attitude to poets, who are revered and celebrated as godlike beings, but also dismissed as worthless imitators who understand nothing of what they say. This ambivalence has led to widely divergent interpretations, some emphasizing the positive …

Citation: Murray, Penelope Anne. "Plato and Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 February 2009 [, accessed 03 March 2021.]

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