The Republic

Criticisms of Poetry in Plato's Republic

After much deliberation and many intense arguments, Socrates finally reaches a definition for justice and claims that leading a just life is worthwhile both for its consequences and for its own sake. Although these conclusions summarize the main dispute of the Republic, Socrates ventures on to clarify his reasoning for prohibiting poets in the ideal city. Socrates' resolution to forbid poetry may be viewed as extremely harsh at first, especially considering the current concerns people have with censorship. With a close analysis and better understanding of the dialogues, Socrates' rationale for his judgment becomes much clearer and assists in demonstrating the negative effects poetry would have on the ideal city. In Plato's Republic, Socrates' ability to maintain control of the ideal city is upheld by the banishment of poetry and is essential to the protection and survival of the city.

One of the key motives for Socrates' outlawing of poetry can be observed in his notion that the soul is depraved and distorted by poets. Socrates reveals that the best element of the soul is "the one that puts its trust in measurement and calculation" (Republic 603a). This statement refers to the discussion between...

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