And the musician, who, keeping to the same track, is content to practise the simple gymnastics, will have nothing to do with medicine unless in some extreme case.
That I quite believe.
The very exercises and toils which he undergoes are intended to stimulate the spirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength ; he will not, like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develop his muscles.
Very right, he said.
Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastics really designed, as is often supposed, the one for the training of the soul, the other for the training of the body.
What then is the real object of them ?
I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the improvement of the soul.
How can that be ? he asked.
Did you never observe, I said, the effect on the mind itself of exclusive devotion to gymnastics, or the opposite effect of an exclusive devotion to music ?
In what way shown ? he said.
The one producing a temper of hardness and ferocity, the other of softness and effeminacy, I replied.
Yes, he said, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of a savage, and that the mere musician IS melted and softened beyond what is good for him.
Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightly educated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to become hard and brutal.
That I quite think.
On the other hand the philosopher will have the quality of gentleness. And this also, when too much indulged, will turn to softness, but, if educated rightly, will be gentle and moderate.
And in our opinion the guardians ought to have both these qualities ?
And both should be in harmony ?
Beyond question. And the harmonious soul is both temperate and courageous ?
And the inharmonious is cowardly and boorish ?
And, when a man allows music to play upon him and to pour into his soul through the funnel of his ears those sweet and soft and melancholy airs of which we were just now speaking, and his whole life is passed in warbling and the delights of song ; in the first stage of the process the passion or spirit which is in him is tempered like iron, and made useful, instead of brittle and useless. But, if he carries on the softening and soothing process, in the next stage he begins to melt and waste, until he has wasted away his spirit and cut out the sinews of his soul ; and he becomes a feeble warrior.
If the element of spirit is naturally weak in him the change is speedily accomplished, but if he have a good deal, then the power of music weakening the spirit renders him excitable ; on the least provocation he flames up at once, and is speedily extinguished ; instead of having spirit he grows irritable and passionate and is quite impractical.
And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens ? if he do nothing else, and holds no converse with the muses, does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no taste of any sort of learning or inquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his senses not being purged of their mists ?
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using the weapon of persuasion — he is like a wild beast, all violence and fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing ; and he lives in all ignorance and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.
That is quite true, he said.
And as there are two principles of human nature, one the spirited and the other the philosophical, some god, as I should say, has given mankind two arts answering to them (and only indirectly to the soul and body), in order that these two principles (like the strings of an instrument) may be relaxed or drawn tighter until they are duly harmonized.
That appears to be the intention.
And he who mingles music with gymnastics in the fairest proportions, and best attempers them to the soul, may be rightly called the true musician and harmonist in a far higher sense than the tuner of the strings.
You are quite right, Socrates.
And such a presiding genius will be always required in our State if the government is to last.
Yes, he will be absolutely necessary.
Such, then, are our principles of nurture and education : Where would be the use of going into further details about the dances of our citizens, or about their hunting and coursing, their gymnastic and equestrian contests ? For these all follow the general principle, and having found that, we shall have no difficulty in discovering them.
I dare say that there will be no difficulty.