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The freedom of expression via the arts and music is a fundamental aspect of the natural human being. Through poetry, songs, and tales humans have the beautiful ability to skillfully communicate and sing aloud of carnal passions, unruly desires, trickery, immorality and a multitude of many other evils as well as just and moral topics. As Socrates stated so long ago, and many believe today, that such sensual and unruly, however humanly natural ideas about the gods, heroes and the afterlife through rhythms and the like, ought to be forbidden within the sacred parameters of the most ideal city. Thus, having achieved the purge of “corrosive” ideas, eventually the creative work of future lyrical poets would force the aspiring ideal rulers and then citizens to transcend the other unnatural rulers and citizens of other actual unrighteous cities. Socrates ultimately aligns himself in direct and unpopular opposition of great classical Greek poets for the purpose of rising to the seemingly unnatural intelligible realm.
For Socrates there exists many aspects to the ultimate natural censorship of the unnatural music beginning with the innocent children of the city. As the future rulers of the ideal city, children ought to be raised and educated without hearing of the debauchery of Dionysius, the lustful sneaky actions of Zeus, and the burning rage of Hera. Rather, according to Socrates the children ought to be taught natural and just topics of moderation, honesty, non-exploitation, and character development through their music education. In addition to the banishment of poetry not for the ears of the young impressionable children, there exists content too heinous for rulers of any age that would be entirely banished from the city. By means of the repression on the instinctive freedom of expression, and through the seemingly unnatural censored type of speech and musical teaching, the future and current rulers would act and rule with a higher sense of their great virtue of wisdom. Although it would appear to be very unnatural to many actual citizens of non-idealistic cities, natural aspects of the human being like wisdom, reason and moderation would be flourishing.
With respect to the appropriate and natural content of poetry and the like, according to Socrates’ ideas certain elements that will blossom the wisdom of the rulers and just qualities must be the priority of the idealistic and natural city’s poetry. In the ideal city, the gods would be contrary to what we read nowadays in the epics of Homer, the afterlife feared, and heroes are disciplined, loyal, honest, self-sufficient, and unfearful of death. What is contained in these poems and songs are meant to exercise virtues for the rulers of ideal city. Furthermore, the suppression of the ancestral poetry does not end with the content nor age of its audience, but continues with the control over how such ideas contrary to the ideal are written. Anything that deviates from the guidelines set forth, would lead the ideal city back to its unnatural and popular mannerisms, or in other words back to the lower and darker realm of the cave.
Virtually all aspects of lyrical and musical language are controlled for the purpose of deterring the unnatural growth of unjust behavior, and in its place a city governed by rulers who value and laud wisdom above all through their music. Although in its entirety it is un-seemingly natural, the more ideal and thus more natural state of the human and polis can be reached, just as the upper realm of reality in Socrates’ allegory of the cave can be attained.
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