Plato and Poetry


Plato in the Republic takes on Homer and the impact of his poetry on the education of its audiences. Homer to Greeks was not only a great poet, but Homeric teachings were the foundation of the Greek education. Evaluating Homer’s poetry was, therefore, an attempt from Plato to correct the foundations of Greek education. Homer, to Plato, talks about so many subjects that it is doubtful he had an expert knowledge on any. Homer discusses, to mention a few, causes of war and its strategies, history, mythology, wisdom, and human nature, not from knowledge but from a divine inspiration (Ion 534b7-d1). In fact, to Plato, Homer was a talented writer who used his divinely inspired intuitions to write beautifully about matters of which he had not robust knowledge. Homer, hence, was a transmitter of divine inspiration or madness by the way of using eloquence. But to Plato this does not qualify him as a source of wisdom.

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