Socrates and Rhapsode

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Socrates and Rhapsode Socrates thought is that a rhapsode speaks not from knowledge but from inspiration, his thoughts being ‘breathed into’ him without the use of his own understanding at all. Using the analogy of a magnet, with the power to draw one rhapsode ring to itself, and through that another, and another, Socrates says that Homer himself had no knowledge of his own writing his poetry, but was divinely possessed. Every rhapsodes are also divinely possessed both when they recite poetry and when they speak. Their work, is the product of the gods working throught them, not of any human intelligence and skill. Socrates demonstrates to Ion that rhapsodes have no knowledge. Socrates tells Ion that if his ability came by mastery, he would be able to speak about all the other poets as well. The whole of any other subject won’t have same discipline throughout and this goes for every subject that can be mastered. It’s a divine power that moves Ion, as a “Magnetic” stone moves iron rings. This stone not only pulls those rings, if they’re iron, it also puts power in the rings, so that they in turn can do just what the stone does, pull other rings, so that there’s sometimes a very long chain of iron pieces and rings hanging from one another. And the power in all of them depends on this stone. None of the epic poets, if they’re good, are masters of their subject; they are inspired, possessed, and that is how thy utter all those beautiful poems. Socrates has several examples and argument to prove his point of view. Like he said for a poet is an airy thing, winged and holy, and he is not able to make poetry until he becomes inspired and goes out of his mind and his intellect is no longer in him. As long as a human being has his intellect in his possession he will always lack the power to make poetry or sing prophecy. So it’s not by mastery, it’s by a divine gift. The spectator is the last ring, the middle ring is Ion, the rhapsode or actor, and the first one is the poet himself. The god pulls people’s souls throught all these wherever he want, looping the power down from one to another. So if Ion tell a sad story, his eyes are full of tears and when he tell a story that’s frightening, or awful, his hair stands on end with fear and his heart jumps and same effects on most of his spectators too.

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