Plato’s Republic – Book Three

In Book III Socrates goes on to talk about what the education and lifestyle the citizens in his kallipolis will have. In doing so, Socrates expels fear of death, lamentations of men in literary works, falsehoods including imitations, and vices out of his city. This is to support Socrates’s argument that if people are just, graceful and harmonious, then they must be brought up that way and not be exposed to examples of injustice, disgrace and disharmony. In order to make that happen, stories of injustice and other bad things, and especially stories of gods or sons of gods doing these bad things must be censored or retold differently (368a-392c). (At this point, I cannot help but be reminded of 1984 and Animal Farm, the part where in the book the past gets edited to be in favour of the government. Republic must be a source for many dystopian novels, political theories, etc…) Next, we see Socrates arguing that if the stories themselves are to be adjusted to fit what is just and virtuous, then the tone/style in which the stories are told must be fixed too. Socrates goes back to his original idea that if an individual does well in one occupation, then he/she must stick with this occupation and not dabble in others, or in other words, be a ‘mediocre jack of all trades’. From this, Socrates results that no one in his city should imitate another, and similarly in story-telling, the poet should not try to imitate voices other than his/her own.  Although Socrates does not say that it is unjust to be a poet who can imitate anything  (he even says that he will treat the pleasure-giving poet like a god (398b)), he certainly does not wish any of kallipolis’s citizens to have that talent. Furthermore, Socrates talks about music, and through this dialogue with Glaucon and Adeimantus, Socrates excludes all other styles of music except for two, to suit his argument. And these music harmonies are supposed to be pure. Lastly, they talk about health and love, following the same method as before, a dialectic form of expressing ideas and agreement (mostly) on the ideas, at the same time eliminating what Socrates believes to be impure from his idealized city. They come to an end where the guardians of kallipolis will live on the taxes collected from the citizens, and everything will be strict and systematic with housing, education, and lifestyle.

Everything sounds nice and idyllic, but there’s going to be flaws with this city. Without ever being exposed to injustice or pain, how will people be able to define happiness and justice?


Homer the Bard and Odysseus the Husband

The Odyssey is a beautiful epic written by Homer a long time ago, but it never stops being the subject of modern-day remaking and remixing. The epic details the journey of a man’s homecoming, starting out with Odysseus’ son Telemachus. The first four books of the epic focuse on Telemachus’ journey in search for his father. Who is Odysseus? What did he do? Where is he now? With the help of Athena the goddess in disguise, Telemachus visits King Nestor who directs Telemachus to Menelaus…

The Odyssey certainly resonates with Genesis quite a bit. The relationship humans have with God(s), all the sacrifices, and how much God(s) like to control human life, like Athena who’s put herself in Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ story just because she likes them. There’s also the thing with genealogy and how characters in the Odyssey also call others by “name, son/daughter of this person”.

As for themes in the Odyssey, like Dr. Marshall said, a big chunk of the Odyssey is about hospitality and receiving strangers as guests into one’s household. This was probably an important tradition in Ancient Greece, but it would be cool if people still did that this day and age.

When one of Menelaus’ men commented that they should send Telemachus and his team to someone else’s place, Menelaus was offended, scolding Eteoneus and saying that he’s “babbling like a child” (Homer 4.30-40). He meant to receive Telemachus as kindly as possible.

Once in the house, the host would provide the stranger with a lot of things, and budgets don’t seem to exist here. Hosts like Telemachus who could not be rivalled in riches (Homer 4.90) love to be generous with strangers. Their servants would usher the guests into the house, give them bathes and rub them with oil (oil was a big thing). After the visitors washed and changed, they would be invited to a great feast full of appetizers, platters of meat and golden cups (Homer 4.50-70). So yeah, lots of stuff.

As you can see, the theme of hospitality, or ‘xenos’ is certainly a big deal here, and honestly, it makes me happy…Every time, whether it’s Telemachus receiving Athena or Menelaus receiving Telemachus, people are just so kind to each other. It’s cool.

But then, obviously, there are people like the suitors in the poem, who take advantage of this tradition, and even try to marry the host’s wife while he is absent.  This is why Odysseus plots his revenge on them as shown in the brutal descriptions of book twenty-two.

The theme of recognition is all throughout the poem. Telemachus recognizes that the stranger is a Goddess in book one. Menelaus recognizes Telemachus and was discreet about it. In contrast, Menelaus’ wife Helen spoke out directly on Telemachus’ identity. There’s the dog who recognizes Odysseus, and Penelope whom we’re not sure about–hence the question: is Penelope smarter than a dog?

There’s also a lot of foreshadowing in the poem, a lot of similes and metaphors, and other literary devices. Foreshadowing happens, for example, in book four, when the king and queen of Sparta talk about Odysseus. Helen talks about how Odysseus infiltrated Troy by disguising himself as a beggar. We’ll see something similar to that happening in book 18 when Odysseus comes home disguised as a beggar. The personification of “the young Dawn with her rose-red fingers shone once more” seems to be a refrain in the story, strongly resonating with a much simplified “and then the next day…” And there’s the simile that Dr. Marshall talked about–the fatherlike hug between Telemachus and the loyal swineherd which was perhaps meant to intensify the reader’s emotions and emphasize the fact that Odysseus was right there with Telemachus at the moment.

Things that I’m wondering about are…why Menelaus’ red hair is emphasized so much. Perhaps red hair associates with temper? (I read that in Anne of Green Gables) Or maybe because red hair was a rare thing in ancient Greece?

The story of Agamemnon’s murder gets retold a several times. Athena said that his wife killed him. Nestor said Aegisthus. So both of them?

I’ve been enjoying the Odyssey a lot. The imagery can be breathtaking and the story is full of twists and turns, just like Odysseus. The Odyssey is really a beautiful story and book (of books). I feel really bad about breaking its spine.

“He’s back from abroad at last, from people so removed you might abandon hope of ever returning home, once the winds had driven you that far off course into a sea so vast not even cranes could wing their way in one year’s flight–so vast it is, so awesome…” (Homer 3.359-363)

The Odyssey is pretty awesome.

An Introduction

Hi everyone,

My name is Danielle, or “Dani” for short. I chose Arts One because I enjoy reading and writing. I’m looking forward to meeting people and making friends and improving my writing.

Honestly, writing this ‘intro post’ is a challenge (I’ve made several drafts now and none of them seems remotely satisfying). I was never really talented at telling people all about myself in one post, but I suppose I must get better at it from now on.

As for my interests…I’m really into artsy things, like music, film, visual arts, and theatre. I hope that I can express myself in any of these forms aside from the written word. I also hope that I can do something like Humans of New York in the future where I get to travel and interview people about their lives and portray them in photographs and in quotes.

Aside from that, I really like nature. I love going for hikes and long walks with friends. If you’re into the outdoors, just find me and maybe we can go hiking and introduce to each other new trails and stuff and yeah. 🙂



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