Social Formation and Intergroup Competition in archaic Greece and ancient China

Matthew Fox

(Talk delivered 3/5/2006, at conference Ancient Song in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Ritual, Performance, and History, Emory University, Atlanta, GA)

We are having conferences like this one in the early 21st century, I think, because of epistemological and disciplinary boundaries first drawn in the Renaissance, when new models of the unity of the sciences altered radically the medieval system of knowledge that had its roots in the ancient world, and in large measure deriving—through Roman cultural practice—ultimately from Plato. To the learned medieval mind the proposition that music was a crucial pursuit would have seemed commonplace. Harmonics was a lofty science within the curricular quadrivium, and all across Europe cathedral choirs strained to hear and to harmonize with God’s celestial music (itself a transfigured holdover from Pythagorean mysticism about cosmic music). But Renaissance thinkers challenged inherited verities, and while Copernicus and Galileo crashed the crystalline spheres of Ptolemy, Francis Bacon disassembled the medieval curriculum and replaced it with his taxonomic schema of natural and historical sciences. Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries music went from the implicit informing principle of the divine unity of knowledge to a few side branches of “fine art” on a new logical tree of human sciences.

Meanwhile, a parallel development concerning music was taking place, one exemplified in its early stages by Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poetry. Writing as a poet, and thus a partisan, Sidney defends the idea that the poet’s work is of a higher creative order than that of either historian or philosopher. More importantly, because he hits upon a great historical insight, he sees poets, and specifically if only vaguely oral poets or musicians, presiding at the origins of all literate historical traditions. Not only does he cite Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, Musaeus, as well as Solon, Tyrtaeus, Empedocles, King David, Livius Andronicus and Ennius, among the ancients for evidence of poetry at the origins of civilization. More intriguingly, Sidney cites parallels from the cultural margins of his world, thereby making among the first appeals to ethnomusicology for a question of great anthropological import. In Turkey, he says, “besides their law-giving divines, they have no other writers but poets.” In Ireland, “poets are held in a devout reverence.” In Wales, too, their poets have survived, despite centuries of foreign conquests. “Even among the most barbarous and simple Indians,” he says, “where no writing is, yet they have poets who make and sing songs, which they call areytos, both of their ancestors’ deeds and praises of their gods.” Finally, he also mentions that he has seen in Hungary that at feasts and other meetings they sing “songs of their ancestors’ valor.”

In short, Sidney’s sympathetic insight into the importance of oral poetic traditions in the shaping of social and even national traditions, enunciates a parallel development in the study of poetry’s place in human society that has led in the 20th and 21st centuries to an increasingly sophisticated anthropological synthesis of oral poetics and embodied performance—through scholars and thinkers like the Lomaxes and the Seegers, Walter Ong, and Ruth Finnegan, no less than Milman Parry, Albert Lord, Greg Nagy, and others in Greek studies, and C.H. Wang, Lothar van Falkenhausen, Martin Kern, David Schaberg and others on the Chinese side.

But the cultural battle, in Sidney’s terms, between poetry, philosophy, and history today still tends to leave music in a marginal position. As musicologist Gary Tomlinson has argued, music developed as a cultural category in the 18th and 19th centuries linked closely to metaphysical theories of the aesthetic and “together they informed a new conception of emotion expressed in terms such as sentiment [and] sensibility.” The close tie between music and the philosophical idealisms of the 19th century are a further hindrance to our grounding of musicality in the social body and the body in society. For the elevation of music in idealism required its forcible extraction from the worldly spheres of political economy and power. And in the bourgeois parliamentary state, the hyper-specialization of society led to a musical culture of distraction that divided along class lines—a glorious superfluity of art music for the rich, a frivolous opiate of song and dance for the masses.

At mid-20th-century Theodor Adorno’s critical sociology of music enshrined this bifurcated metaphysic of Euro-American music. Despite Adorno’s great appreciation and love for music, he views it mainly as a distraction and a deceit, an agent of ideology that contributes, quote, “to the creation of the cultural veil, the concern with spirit degraded to the level of “education,” which prevents countless listeners from obtaining any perception of more essential realities.” Speaking primarily in reaction to the somewhat bleak social horizons of mid-20th century America, Adorno listened to the pop music of the day and heard a “clear tool of domination,” “a manifestation of false consciousness, a way of trivializing conflict and producing spurious reconciliations.”

As we will see, the ancient Greek and Chinese texts that discuss music are in fact susceptible to this Marxist social critique. Texts from both spheres also seem to regard music as a “cohesive social force,” to quote Adorno again. The rest of this quote reads, “a cohesive social force, as something capable of creating the illusion of immediate community within a reified and alienated society.” There is here a steady intrusion of Marxist assumptions that I should like to resist using as a ready-made gloss on the texts we will look at. For while I value the power of Marx’s critique of history to help rescue our study of antiquity from the boredom engendered by late capitalist mentalities, nevertheless, if the value of historicism—like that of ethnography—lay in the promise of replenishing true difference to save us from an endless mirroring of ourselves, then it behooves us at least at first to resist the reduction of the Greek and Chinese texts to our ready-made categories of ideology, hegemony, domination, alienation, and the like.

As we will see, this question of whether music is socially frivolous or serious is prefigured in differing ways in both Greek and Chinese music theorists. For the rest of the talk I will concentrate on texts of musico-political theory from classical Greece and China, of which the handout provides extensive portions. On the Greek side I’ll focus on Plato’s Laws (handout pp 5-8). On the Chinese side we’ll look at a couple different Han period texts, the “Great Preface” to the Book of Songs (handout pp 3-4), and passages from the classic Liji or Record on Rites (pp 1-2) [texts dating from the 2nd c. BC to 2nd c. AD]. These texts from the two dominant ancient cultures East and West agree on certain major points, vary on others, while of course inflecting the ideas in different cultural patterns of thought and concrete instance.

In general, a two-pronged problematic arises from the texts that I think can be of value for our own day’s concerns. First, is music basically hedonistic, with no redeeming moral dimensions, or worse still, contrary to all moral training and restraint? Or instead, can or does musicality have an important role to play in training citizens in the necessities of a viable and productive social life?

Second, are history and political theory correct in their valuation of warfare and military strength as primary ends of political economic organization? In human affairs, are deeds of war the most worthy of historical account? Or does such bellicentric history and theory miss the mark, failing to organize for peace and leisurely prosperity, for which musicality is a vital instrument in the lawmaker’s arsenal?

Obviously these two questions are related. Bellicentric views will tend to dismiss music as frivolous, while those who hold out hopes that society can be organized to maintain peace and avoid war are perhaps liable to champion the ethical and disciplining power of singing and dancing. Now insofar as our historiography and political theories continue to valorize and even naturalize militarism and the strength of force, it will be of value to consider how these assumptions were challenged in ancient texts East and West.

In Polybius’ history, he says [handout #1, below] that the 4th-century historian Ephorus had written, in the very prologue of his history, that “music was introduced to humankind for purposes of deception (apate) and sorcery (goeteia).” Polybius himself strongly disagrees, saying that music was, for his native Arcadians at least, a real necessity. He then relates how their entire social constitution (politeia), military and civil, was organized around and through musical practices of song and dance [4.20.3-12]. In classical China, the counterparts to Ephorus were the Mohists, who held to a kind of populist social utilitarianism that rejected music, among other cultural things, on the grounds that it was a massive burden of tax and labor on the people and that the sumptuary musical performances of the ruling classes contributed nothing of benefit to society [handout #2]. The Mohists thought it was absurd to think that beating bronze bells and drums could have any salutary effect whatsoever on such social ills as hunger, poverty, banditry, state-sponsored violence, and other opportunistic predatory behaviors. To the author of this text, the disconnect between elite ritual music and popular social reality is just too palpable and obvious. Moreover, it is easy to see through the text to the arguments it attacks, which held that traditional courtly ritual and music (lĭ yuè in Chinese) were vital instruments for proper government and social order. These views of course were rooted deeply in time-honored religious ideas about communion with the gods and spirits through sacrifice and musical festivity. In this connection the Mohists were secularizing pragmatists and thought that the court music performances were so much hollow ritual that did not get to the heart of contemporary social concerns.

The Liji (Record of Rites), while written after the Mohist canon, articulates in a systematic form the arguments from the other side in defense of ritual music culture. Like the late Plato, whose ideas we will compare them with, the various scholars in the Han empire probably responsible for this text do not dispute the Mohist diagnosis of human needs and social ills. However, they develop a comprehensive theory of human psychology, pedagogical theory and practice, and political economy and law which, in their view, situates ritual music at the center of disciplined psychic integration and just and benevolent social organization.

Passage #3 on the handout shows the elite pedagogical context of rites and music. The three sage kings of antiquity educated—jiāo—the crown princes using rites and music. (By the way, all these texts mention the “three kings” or “kings of antiquity.” Suffice it here to say that this is shorthand in classical Chinese texts for normative theorizing. The ancient kings are models for everything; thus any text that wants to put forward its agenda as desirable policy always imputes it to the ancient kings.) So, according to this passage, music cultivated the interior, rites the exterior, they criss-cross and intersect in the middle, giving rise to outward form. The result is joy, respect, veneration, gentleness and elegance. The claim of the text is that in addition to providing pleasure or enjoyment, rites and music cultivate respect and genteel elegance, informing the inner and the outer. The next passage (#4) further details the ostensible purpose of rites and music as it evaluates an elaborate courtly spectacle it has just described. The sensual splendors of rites and music blend to produce harmony (). Rites give back to that from which they came (as with offerings to ancestral spirits, for instance) and music expresses the pleasure at the achievements it commemorates. The double meaning of the graph for “music” (yuè) used also for “pleasure” (), is active here, while again not allowing us to escape very far from a charge of mere hedonism. Nevertheless, the second part introduces two critical ideas: that of economy or tempering (jié), and a semiotic or referential purpose, of expressing the intentions or will (zhì). Thus follows the notion that the character of a king’s rites and music are a reliable index of order and disorder in his government. Few ideas recur more often that this one in the Chinese texts on musico-political theory.

Now, the chapter on music in the Liji—several numbered sections of which are provided under number 5 on the handout—along with the “Great Preface” which follows these on page 3-5, and which I’ve laid out in a parallel sentence-by-sentence format so you can more easily trace the argument, go into the greatest depth discussing the psychological and social origins of music, and the complex role imputed to ritual and music in facilitating psychic balance, moral order, political justice, and social cohesion and stability. Time restrictions make it impossible to go through these rich texts fully, but I would be happy to discuss them later with anyone interested. Instead, I want to bring in Plato’s Laws at this point and propose briefly some salient lines of comparison.

So turning first to pg. 5 of the handout, Plato frames the Laws as a polemic against the notion that warfare is a valid organizing principle for the state. The Cretan interlocutor claims that Zeus instituted Cretan laws with a view toward success in war, and that a universal war of each with each is the natural state of things. The Athenian dismantles this argument. Not war, but virtue (arête) and peace should be the ends aimed at by the lawgiver (nomothetes). Plato is, in effect, challenging this naturalization of warfare which underwrote Greek history, as in Thucydides, for instance, who opens his history with the claim that the war between Sparta and Athens was the matter “most worthy of account” (axiologotaton) that the Greeks had ever been engaged in. #7 on the handout presents a later reprise of this pacifistic polemic in the Laws.

So, if our own “history” has been and is similarly bellicentric, we might consider whether we are conceding to a naturalization of war that justifies this centering, thereby foreclosing pacifistic political theorizations as utopian and unrealistic; instead, mindful of the interpretive character of both history and theory, we might begin to put a more forceful emphasis on military history as a history of human social disease and disorder, and try to reframe our historiography through positive socio-cultural theory. To this end we may in fact find a musicentric history and theory as more germane both to positively valenced history of human achievements and a critical progressive sociopolitical theory. This is, in effect, what Plato in the Laws and the Chinese musical theorists are attempting, I would claim.

Both Plato and the Chinese texts do so by orienting education through psychology, and subordinating political power to the achievement of a prosperous society and a beautiful cultural order. The instrumental link in both of these tasks, of educating the soul and socializing the state, is a strictly regulated culture of music.

For Plato (looking at handout #8#9), the young are full of energy that needs taming and ordering. The gods have given humans a natural pleasure in rhythmos and harmonia. One can see this in the way that mothers resort to song and motion to lull restless infants to sleep. This pleasure in the movements of body and voice makes musical choruses the best mode of social organization and of education that socializes individuals in the nomoi, the “legal conventions” of the city. To be trained in a chorus is the very definition of education. (Looking now at #10), songs serve as charms for the young, who can’t take things seriously, meanwhile imparting lessons about what is normative—what is in accord with nomos—in terms of pleasure and pain. When musical compositions represent what is nomikos, then these songs (looking at #11#12 on the handout) are the continual substance of cultural performance for the city as a whole, which is organized into three age-ranked choruses. To satisfy a thirst for novelty, there should be constant ornamental variation of these songs without, however, innovating in the established normative content.

Plato returns to the two-part education he had put forward in the Republic, that of music and gymnastic, but now theorizes them in a way that aligns gymnastic more and more with dance. (handout #13#14) Music and gymnastics are two dimensions of the same embodied social chorusing of the nomoi, which of course means “laws” but which also means “songs,” and the two meanings get intentionally and often explicitly elided throughout the dialogue. The reason why laws must become songs has much to do with the insufficiency of writing as an instrument for social authority. Written laws, politikoi nomoi as he calls them (looking now to #15#16 on the handout), need in addition to the bare injunction, which is legalistic and tyrannical, “preludes” (prooimia) which argue for the law and make it persuasive (peistikos). The overt thrust in this passage is on buttressing the legal code with rational argument; but the insistence on calling these arguments not logoi but prooimia for the nomoi serves to emphasize the musical dimensions of the polity. Thus, as in #16, the four instruments for the nomothetes—either the lawgiver or the song-maker—in directing the natural passions of people into normative channels are fear, nomos, logos, and the Muses along with the gods of contests.

We can turn back now to the Chinese texts and briefly consider the variations on similar themes. Where for Plato the chorus fused song and dance to train the soul and body, the Chinese texts focus on rituals and music (lĭ yuè) as cultural instruments along with laws and punishments (zhèng xíng) to enforce an acceptable and authoritative social order. Looking at #5-sect. 3 now, rites, music, laws and punishments are likened to the single ridgepole of a house. Through these four the hearts of people are assimilated or unified, and good government and dao—the right path or way—result. Music is rooted in the human passions [looking just above at section 1-2], which are aroused by perception of outward things, and song and dance express the inner desires, passions, and intentions. Since music is semiotic of the mind and heart, it is taken as a secure index of social conditions, both at popular and elite levels. The “Great Preface” (#6.3) expresses this most succinctly: an ode (shi) is what one’s will (zhi) moves toward. In the heart it is will (zhi), in words it is ode (shi). Then, vocal expressiveness and physical gesture are added to mere words to fully express the heart’s intent. The ancient kings learned to know the state of society by listening to the songs of the people. They also regulated rites and music to order human relations in symbolic culture (sentence #15 of the Great Preface; you can compare this also with section 13 of the “Record of Rites”). In sentence 20-21 of the Great Preface, we see that when society declines, the rulers (and the historians!) will be able to diagnose the ills in the changing songs of the day. Presumably, then, they will thereby get an idea of what social reforms to undertake.

As in Plato, the idea of tempering likes and dislikes also arises (11-14 of #5). Humans are born calm, like heaven. But external things give rise to desires; we come to know more and more; inside we have many likes and dislikes in a chaotic state. Since the objects of passion are unlimited, without some training (jiao) and tempering (jie) all the social evils that the Mohists identify arise—the strong oppress the weak, the sick are ignored, the elderly and orphans are not cared for, etc. It is to temper people’s unrestrained hearts, and harmonize their voices that rites and music, laws and punishments were instituted. Rites work to formalize social distinctions like class, age, and gender, while music induces similarity and cohesion. In this vein, the “Record of Rites” text (section 18-19) waxes its most utopian. With true music, resentment will cease; the formal courtesies of rites can effectively govern the world. War would come to an end. There would be no need for punitive measures. In short, music and rites will cause society to embody the very harmony and economy of heaven and earth, and all within the four seas will unite in respect and kind affection.

These texts strike utopian strains as noble and idealized as Plato’s with his nostalgic tribal city of three happy choruses intoning to one another pleasant variations on the same moral order for all time. But how much are we jaded to this sort of pacifist idealism by our endorsement—whether active or cynical—of naturalizations of contrary cultural codes like eternal competition, inveterate war of states, of nature red in tooth and claw?

Indeed, what Plato seems to be getting at in the Laws, as he explores the nature of the conventional (nomos) is that neither war nor peace can be naturalized; neither one can be called the state of nature; instead, both are radically cultural and conventional, and that both are the result of goal-oriented decision-making and behavior; either one or the other can be inculcated in the young and thereby perpetuated, and that war and peace are not natural inquiries of fact but ethical and normative endeavors.

The Chinese musico-political theorists make a similar claim that responds to the cultural criticisms of the Mohists and attempts to reform the state’s attempts at regulating society through laws and the endorsement of specific cultural patterns. Yes, they agree, society is in chaos, but ritual and music can provide acceptable common patterns of action to mitigate the fractious individualism of human passions. It is notable that the social critique and the recommended cure are aimed at elite and populace alike.

Finally, is music hedonistic, a mere frivolity? Both set of texts agree: music is most definitely connected intimately to pleasure. But this is exactly what makes it so socially serious. Community is precisely the linking of people—each of them always embodied individuals—through shared pleasures and pains, likes and dislikes. Here ancient Greek philosopher and Han imperial scholars agree: ritualized musical cultures can be an effective means to organize society for prosperity and virtue, of disciplining the desires without resort to brute force, thus working to avoid and guard against manifest evils not just of social disunity but also militarism and state-sponsored violence. Thank you.

1. Polybius Histories 4.20.4-7

μουσικν γρ, [4] τν γ’ ληθς μουσικν, πσι μν νθρποις φελος σκεν, ρκσι δ κα ναγκαον. ο γρ γητον μουσικν, [5] ς φορς φησιν ν τ προοιμίῳ τς λης πραγματεας, οδαμς ρμζοντα λγον ατ ῥίψας, π’ πτ κα γοητείᾳ παρεισχθαι τος νθρποις, [6] οδ τος παλαιος Κρητν κα Λακεδαιμονων αλν κα υθμν ες τν πλεμον ντ σλπιγγος εκ νομιστον εσαγαγεν, [7] οδ τος πρτους ρκδων ες τν λην πολιτεαν τν μουσικν παραλαβεν π τοσοτον στε μ μνον παισν οσιν, λλ κα νεανσκοις γενομνοις ως τρικοντ’ τν κατ’ νγκην σντροφον ποιεν ατν, τλλα τος βοις ντας αστηροττους.

To practice music, that is real music, for most people is advantageous, but to Arcadians it’s also necessary/ compulsory. For one should not hold, as Ephorus says in the proem to his history, dashing off an account that doesn’t harmonize with him, that humankind introduced music for purposes of deception (apate) and sorcery (goeteia). Neither should one think that the ancient Cretans and Lacedaimonians replaced the salpinx [the long pipe] with the aulos [double pipe] and rhythm for warfare without reason. Nor again was it without reason that the first Arcadians took up music into their entire constitution (politeia) to such a great extent that not only children but young men up to the age of thirty were required to make it their habitual companion, though in other matters of life they are the most austere.

2. Mozi (Bk 8: Chap. 22)


The people have three worries: the hungry cannot get food, the cold cannot get clothing, and the laborer can find no rest. These three are the greatest concerns that cause the people distress. So if they strike the great bells, beat the loud drums, play the qin and se zithers, blow the flutes and panpipes and brandish the shields and axes, how can this provide the resources to content the people with clothing and food? Right away I regard it as not necessarily so. Here’s what I mean: today, great states always attack small states, great families always descend upon small families, the powerful plunder the weak, the many violate the few, crafty liars cheat the ignorant, nobles are arrogant to the lowly, bandits cause mayhem and rob, thieves join together in common, there is nothing that can prevent and stop it. So if they strike the great bells, beat the loud drums, play the qin and se zithers, blow the flutes and panpipes and brandish the shields and axes, when the world is in chaos, can this somehow bring about peace and orderly government? Right away I regard it as not necessarily so.

3. Liji “Record of Rites” (Wen Wang shi zi)

凡三王教世子. 必以禮樂 樂所以脩內也. 禮所以脩外也. 禮樂交錯於中. 發形於外. 是故其成也懌. 恭敬而溫

All three sage kings educated (jiao) the crown princes, indeed, with rites & music (li yue). Music (yue) was for cultivating the interior; rites (li) for cultivating the exterior. Rites and music criss-cross and intersect in the middle, giving rise to outward form. The end result of this was joy (yi), a respectful veneration and gentle/warm cultivation.

4. Liji (Li qi)


[After describing an elaborate courtly spectacle in which representations of the heavenly bodies were hung in the rafters of the court, and the king and queen filled their ritual wine cups from opposing jars (in the east and west, corresponding to sun and moon) with music accompanying this ritual theater of state:]

“Rites exchange motions above, music exchanges responses below, arriving at harmony (he). Rites are such that they reflect back to their place of origin; music ( yue) is such that it expresses the pleasures ( le) that come from the achievements it celebrates. For this reason, the ancient kings established their rites in order to moderate/economize (jie) their affairs, and cultivated music to direct/announce their intentions (zhi). Thus by observing their rites and music one will be able to know the order or disorder [of their governments].

5. Liji (Yue ji) “Record of Rites, Record of Music chapter” Excerpts from sections 1-19

1.凡音之起.由人心生也.人心之動 物使之然也.感於物而動.故形於聲.聲相應.故生變. 變成方謂之音.比音而樂之.及干戚羽旄.謂之樂.2.樂者.音之所由生也.其本在人心之感於物.

是故其哀心感者.其聲焦以殺.其樂心感者.其聲嘽以緩.其喜心感者.其聲發以散.其怒心感.其聲粗以厲.其敬心感者.其聲直以廉.其愛心感者.其聲和以柔.六者非性也.感於物而 後動.



1. The beginning of every voice (yin) is its arising from the human heart. As for the movements of the human heart, it is things that make them so. We are affected by things and are moved; then this takes form in sounds/tones (sheng). Sounds respond in mutual accord, thus giving rise to modulations. These modulations further construct what is called voice (yin). Combining voices (yin) and delighting in it ( le), when the shields, axes, feathers and banners [are used], is called music ( yue). 2. Music is that which arises from the modulated-voice (yin). Its roots are in the affections in the human heart caused by external things. [Here follows an account of the six affections and their corresponding sounds]. These six do not originate in human nature: affected by things we are moved in response. Therefore, the early kings were cautious about those things by which we are affected. 3. Thus rites were used to direct (dao) their will/intentions (zhi), music was used to harmonize their sounds (sheng), laws to unify their behavior, punishments to defend against wickedness. Rites, music, laws, punishments, these form the single ridgepole of a house. Using these, the people’s hearts are assimilated and orderly government is caused to go forth/be announced (dao).…[here follows a few lines almost identical to 10-14 in “Great Preface”] The way of tones and voices goes together with and is connected to their politics.


8. For this reason we must examine the musical tones in order to know voices (yin), examine voices in order to know music, examine music in order to know laws/politics, then order and direction (dao) [in the state] will be ready at hand. Thus, one who does not know the musical tones cannot also speak about voices; one who does not know voices cannot speak about music. Knowing music, one is at the verge of already knowing the rites. Rites and music fully attained (de), this is called having virtue/(moral) power (de). One having virtue (de), this is attainment (de).


10. For this reason was the institution of rites and music by the ancient kings. It was not for the sating of the desires of the mouth, belly, ears and eyes. They intended to instruct (jiao) the people to level/restrain their likings and dislikes, and so to bring back the uprightness of the human path (dao).


11. A human being is born and is calm, such is its nature from heaven. We are affected by external things and move, this is the nature of desire. From things we come to know more and more, so that likes and dislikes form in us. When there is no tempering (jie) of likes and dislikes within, and we come to know external enticements, we cannot return to ourselves, the principle of heavenly order has been snuffed out.

12.夫物之感人無 窮.而人之好惡無節.則是物至而人化物也.人化物也者.滅天理而窮 人欲者也.


病不養.老幼孤 獨不得其所.此大亂之道也.

12. There is no limit to all the external things humans are affected by, and if there is nothing to temper our likes and dislikes, then when objects come near we change under the influence of the object. This transformation in relation to objects snuffs out the principle of heavenly order and makes one a person of extravagant prodigal appetites. Consequently there are hearts that rebel and oppose, that are dishonest and false. Affairs go to licentious excess and become chaotic. Then the strong oppress the weak, the many are violent to the few, the knowledgeable deceive the ignorant, the brave are harsh to the fearful, those sick with ailments are not cared for, the elderly, the young, orphans and widows do not get what they need. This is a path (dao) of great disorder.


13. For this reason the ancient kings regulated rites and music, in order to temper (jie) humanity. With the hempen mourning garments, crying and laments they tempered funerals and commemorations. With the bells, drums, shields and axes they harmonized times of peace and pleasure (le). Through marriage connections, cappings and hairpins, they distinguished man and woman. With archery contests, rural feasts and sacrifices, they ordered aright friendly communion.


14. Rites temper (jie) the people’s hearts, music harmonizes the people’s sounds/tones. Laws enforced their performance, and punishments secured them. Rites, music, punishments and laws, when these four were realized and not resisted, then the kingly path (dao) [of rule] was fully prepared.


15. Music makes for similarity, rites make for distinctions. With similarity comes mutual intimacy, with difference comes mutual respect. Where music is prevalent, there is fluid circulation; where rites are prevalent, there is separation and distance. To unite affects and adorn appearances is the concern of rites and music.




18. When music is at its best there will be no resentments. With rites at their best there will be no quarrelling. With the formal courtesies of bodily gesture and of word governing the whole world, this would be called rites-and-music (li yue). Violent injury of the people would not occur, all the subordinate nobles would submit as guests [at court], the weapons of war would not be put to the test, the five punishments would not be needed, the hundred clans would have no troubles to worry about, and the Son of Heaven would not become angry. In this way music/happiness (yue / le) would be perfectly achieved. If the Son of Heaven acts thus, to align the relations of father and son, to clarify the order of old and young, and using respect for all within the four seas, then will ritual (li) be carried out to completion.

19. 大樂與天地同和.大禮與天地同節.和.故百物不失.節.故祀天祭地.明則有禮樂.


19. Great music has the same harmony (he) as between heaven and earth. Great rites have the same tempering (jie) as between heaven and earth. Harmonized, things do not fall short; tempered, there are the sacrifices to heaven and offerings to earth. Among the living are rites and music; among the dead are ghosts and spirits. This being so, then all within the four seas unite in respect and come together in kind affection.

6. The Da Xu “Great Preface” to the Shijing (Classic of Odes)

(written perhaps middle of the Eastern Han Dynasty, ca. 100 AD (?))

[It begins from an explanation of the word feng “wind/manners” as a musical term in reference to the first section of the anthology, the guo feng “airs of the states”]

1. 風,風也,教也。

1. “Airs” (feng) means “manners” (feng, same graph), or “teaching”/”instruction” (jiao).

2. 風以動之,教以化之。

2. They are called feng (wind/manners) because they move one; teaching, because they transform one.

3. 詩者,志之所之也。

3. An “ode” (shi) is what one’s will/intentions/aspirations (zhi) move toward.

4. 在心為志。

4. In the heart it is aspiration (zhi),

5. 發言為詩。

5. Expressed in words it is an “ode” (shi).

6. 情動於中,而形於言。

6. Passions move within then form into words.

7. 言之不足,故嗟歎。

7. If words don’t go far enough, then one sighs and cries out.

8. 嗟歎之不足,故永歌之。

8. If sighing and crying out don’t go far enough, then one draws out a song.

9. 永歌之不足知,手之,舞之


9. If drawing out a song doesn’t make it fully known, then one claps it, dances it, steps it, stomps it.

10. 情發於聲,聲成文,謂之音。

10. Passions are expressed in musical tones (sheng), musical tones perfect culture (wen; alternatively “the text,” and thus in the sense that a melody completes/fills out a written text),

11. 治世之音安以樂,其政和。

11. The voice/fame (yin) that governs the world pacifies with joy/music (homographic pun: li / yue); its affairs harmonize.

12. 亂世之音怨以怒,其政乖。

12. The voice/fame that makes the world chaotic causes hatred/resentment with anger/rage, its affairs are rebellious/disobedient.

13. 亡國之音哀以思,其民困。

13. The voice/fame of a dying state is pitiful with longing, its people are oppressed.

14. 故正得失,動天地,


14. Thus, to regulate gains and losses, move heaven and earth, evoke responses from ghosts and spirits, nothing comes close to odes.

15. 先王以是經夫婦,成孝敬,


15. Ancient kings by them arranged husbands and wives, accomplished piety and reverence, made human relations substantial, to beautify instruction (jiao : from #1) and reforms, to influence manners (feng) and customs.

16. 故詩有六義晏:

16. Thus of odes there are six types that are upright and peaceful:

17. 一曰風,二曰賦,三曰比,


17. The first is called feng (“airs”), the second is called fu (“prose-poems”), the third is called bi (“comparison/metaphor”), the fourth is called xing (“merriments”), the fifth is called ya (“elegant” court songs), the sixth is called song (“praise hymns”).

18. 上以風化下,下以風刺上。

18. The high with “airs” reform the low; the low with “airs” prod the high.

19. 主文而譎諫,言之者無罪,


19. The chief minister, if he slyly admonishes, he who speaks it gives no offense, he who hears it is satisfied with counsel; thus it is called “manners” (feng).



20. When the kingly way declines, rites and proper conduct are abrogated, government and education (jiao) fail, the state has strange political affairs, families have new unusual habits, and changing (rebellious) feng and changing (insolent) ya (“court songs”) will have been composed.



21. The state scholars/historians clarify the effects of gain and loss, the breakdown of injured family relations, the harshness of grievous punishments and laws, they sing and cry their passions and dispositions using feng to their superiors.

22. 達於事變,而懷其舊俗者也。

22. They [the kings?] realize that affairs have changed, then they cherish how their former customs were.

23. 故變風發乎情,止乎禮義。

23. Thus changed “airs” (feng) arise from passions, and extend to rites and morals.

24. 發乎情,民之性也。

24. Arising from passions means it is in the nature of the people.

25. 止乎禮義,先王之澤也。

25. Extending to rites and morals means it is the benefit/enrichment of former kings.

26. 是以一國之事,繫一人之本,


26. Therefore, the concerns of one state that connect the roots of one people, these are called feng.

27. 言天下之事,形四方之風,


27. The concerns that address all under heaven (the world), the “airs” (feng) that inform the four quarters, these are called ya (elegant court songs).

28. 雅者,正也。

28. Ya means upright/correct/formal.

29. 言王政之所由廢興也。

29. They address the ways in which kingly affairs decline and prosper.



30. In politics there are small and large matters, thus there are “minor court songs” for this, and “major court songs” for this.

31. 頌者,美盛德之形容。

31. The “hymns” (song) beautify the form and appearance of abundant virtue [NB other renditions possible].

32. 以其成功,告於神明者也。

32. Using their accomplished exploits, they announce them to the bright spirits [of ancestors and nature deities].

33. 是謂四始,詩之至也。

33. These are called the four origins, the endpoints of odes (shi).

34. 然則《關雎》、


34. This being so, the influence of guan ju (Shijing 1) and lin zhi (Shijing 11) is the manners (feng) of the king.

35. 故繫之周公。

35. They are tied to the Duke of Zhou.

36. 《南》言,化自北而南也。

36. “South” refers to influence going from north to south.

37. 《鵲巢》、《騶虞》之德,


37. The virtue/power of que chao (Shijing 12) and zou you (Shijing 25) is that they are the customs (feng) of all the Marquis.

38. 先王之所以教,故繫之召公。

38. The ancient kings used them for instruction (jiao), thus they relate to the Duke of Shao.

39. 周南、召南,正始之道,


39. The chapters “South of Zhou” and “South of Shao” are the pathway (dao) of upright beginnings and the foundation of royal influence.


Plato Laws

7. Book 7 (803d-e): life should be peaceful, full of song and dance, not organized for war

νν μν που τς σπουδς οονται δεν νεκα τν παιδιν γγνεσθαι: τ γρ περ τν πλεμον γονται σπουδαα ντα τς ερνης νεκα δεν ε τθεσθαι. τ δ’ ν ν πολμ μν ρα οτ’ ον παιδι πεφυκυα οτ’ α παιδεα ποτ μν ξιλογος, οτε οσα οτ’ σομνη, δ φαμεν μν γε εναι σπουδαιτατον: δε δ τν κατ’ ερνην βον καστον πλεστν τε κα ριστον διεξελθεν. τς ον [803e] ρθτης; παζοντ στιν διαβιωτον τινς δ παιδις, θοντα κα δοντα κα ρχομενον, στε τος μν θεος λεως ατ παρασκευζειν δυνατν εναι, τος δ’ χθρος μνεσθαι κα νικν μαχμενον: ποα δ δων ν τις κα ρχομενος μφτερα τατα πρττοι, τ μν τν τπων ερηται κα καθπερ δο ττμηνται καθ’ ς τον …

Nowadays I suppose people think that serious pursuits must be done for the sake of pastimes (paidia); for they think that matters of war are serious and must be well managed for the sake of peace. But neither during war nor following it do there ever arise pastimes (paidia) nor again education (paideia) worthy of the name, which indeed we have said is the most serious matter of all. We each should therefore spend our life in peace, as being the greatest and best. What is the correct way? One should pass his life in playing at certain pastimes (paidia), sacrificing and singing and dancing, so that he can render the gods propitious to him and to fend off his enemies and to fight them and win. What sorts of things he should sing and dance to accomplish both these ends, the general types have been discussed and the paths along which he should go have been marked out…

8. Bk 2 (653d-54b): Ordering the natural energy of the young with rhythm and harmony

θηναος:ρν χρ πτερον ληθς μν κατ φσιν λγος μνεται τ νν, πς. φησν δ τ νον παν ς πος επεν τος τε σμασι κα τας φωνας συχαν γειν ο δνασθαι, [653e] κινεσθαι δ ε ζητεν κα φθγγεσθαι, τ μν λλμενα κα σκιρτντα, οον ρχομενα μεθ’ δονς κα προσπαζοντα, τ δ φθεγγμενα πσας φωνς. τ μν ον λλα ζα οκ χειν ασθησιν τν ν τας κινσεσιν τξεων οδ ταξιν, ος δ υθμς νομα κα ρμονα: μν δ ος [654a] επομεν τος θεος συγχορευτς δεδσθαι, τοτους εναι κα τος δεδωκτας τν νρυθμν τε κα ναρμνιον ασθησιν μεθ’ δονς, δ κινεν τε μς κα χορηγεν μν τοτους, δας τε κα ρχσεσιν λλλοις συνεροντας, χορος τε νομακναι παρ τ τς χαρς μφυτον νομα. πρτον δ τοτο ποδεξμεθα; θμεν παιδεαν εναι πρτην δι Μουσν τε κα πλλωνος, πς; Κλεινας: οτως. θηναος: οκον μν παδευτος χρευτος μν σται, τν [654b] δ πεπαιδευμνον κανς κεχορευκτα θετον; Κλεινας: τ μν; θηναος: χορεα γε μν ρχησς τε κα δ τ σνολν στιν. Κλεινας: ναγκαον.

θηναος: καλς ρα πεπαιδευμνος δειν τε κα ρχεσθαι δυνατς ν εη καλς. Κλεινας: οικεν.

Athenian: See whether there is any necessary truth according to nature in this account (logos) that is being hymned among us these days: it says that every young thing cannot keep quite in body and voice, but are always seeking to move and make noise, sometimes jumping and skipping, as though dancing with pleasure and playing together, other times uttering all voices. But while the other animals have no perception of order and disorder in their movements, what we call rhythmos and harmonia, those same gods that we said were given to us partners in the dance have given us a perception of rhythmos and harmonia with pleasure (hedone), by which they move us and act as chorus-leaders, stringing us together with odes (songs) and dances, and gave these the name chorus from this implanted chara (“delight”). First then shall we accept this? Shall we put it down that paideia (“education”) is first through the Muses and Apollo? Kleinias: It is so. Athenian: So then will the “uneducated” man be “unchorused,” and shall we set it down that the “educated” is one who has been sufficiently “enchorused”? Kleinias: Why not? Athenian: And a chorus is dancing and singing combined. Kleinias: Necessarily. Athenian: Then the finely educated will be able to sing and dance finely. Kleinias: It seems so.

9. Book 7 (790d-e): mothers use song and motion to lull restless infants

νκα γρ ν που βουληθσιν κατακοιμζειν τ δυσυπνοντα τν παιδων α μητρες, οχ συχαν ατος προσφρουσιν λλ τοναντον κνησιν, ν τας γκλαις [790e] ε σεουσαι, κα ο σιγν λλ τινα μελδαν, κα τεχνς οον καταυλοσι τν παιδων, καθπερ τν κφρνων βακχειν ἰάσεις, τατ τ τς κινσεως μα χορείᾳ κα μοσ χρμεναι.

For surely when mothers want to lull to sleep their restless children, they don’t keep them still but on the contrary keep them in motion, always rocking them in their arms and not in silence but with some melodia, it’s as though they are playing the pipes artlessly for the children, using cures like those of the frenzied Bacchants which consist of motion with dance and song.

10. Bk 2 (659d): “Charming” the soul of the young to have the correct pleasures and pains

…παιδεα μν σθ’ παδων λκ τε κα γωγ πρς τν π το νμου λγον ρθν ερημνον, κα τος πιεικεσττοις κα πρεσβυττοις δι’ μπειραν συνδεδογμνον ς ντως ρθς στιν: ν’ ον ψυχ το παιδς μ ναντα χαρειν κα λυπεσθαι θζηται τ νμ κα τος π το νμου πεπεισμνοις, λλ συνπηται χαρουσ τε κα λυπουμνη τος ατος τοτοις οσπερ [659e] γρων, τοτων νεκα, ς δς καλομεν, ντως μν πδα τας ψυχας αται νν γεγονναι, πρς τν τοιατην ν λγομεν συμφωναν σπουδασμναι, δι δ τ σπουδν μ δνασθαι φρειν τς τν νων ψυχς, παιδια τε κα δα καλεσθαι κα πρττεσθαι.

Education is an attraction and leading of children toward the correct logos that is spoken by the nomos and is considered really correct by the most eminent elders from experience; in order that the child’s soul not become accustomed to feeling pleasure and pain at things opposite both to the nomos and to those persuaded by the nomos, but follow the old, feeling pleasure and pain at the same things as them. For this purpose there are what we call odes, which have really now become epodes (“charms”) for souls and which work in earnest toward that certain symphonia (“harmony”) we spoke of, but since the souls of the young can’t take things seriously, we call and treat them like games and songs (odes).

11. Book 2 (664c-d): The city is divided into three choruses by age-class

πρτον μν τονυν Μουσν χορς παιδικς ρθτατ’ ν εσοι πρτος τ τοιατα ες τ μσον σμενος πσ σπουδ κα λ τ πλει, δετερος δ μχρι τρικοντα τν, τν τε Παινα πικαλομενος μρτυρα τν λεγομνων ληθεας πρι κα τος νοις λεων μετ πειθος [664d] γγνεσθαι πευχμενος. δε δ δ κα τι τρτους τος πρ τρικοντα τη μχρι τν ξκοντα γεγοντας δειν: τος δ μετ τατα–ο γρ τι δυνατο φρειν δς–μυθολγους περ τν ατν θν δι θεας φμης καταλελεφθαι.

First then, the children’s chorus of the Muses should most properly come forward first and sing these matters with all eagerness before the whole city; and second, the chorus composed of those up to the age of thirty, and which will call upon [Apollo] Paian as witness to the truth of their words and will pray that he will be gracious with persuasion for the young; and there must be yet a third group to sing, those between thirty and sixty years of age; and that leaves those older than these, no longer capable of carrying tunes, they will tell mythic stories about these characters (ethea) through divine prophecy.

12. Book 2 (665c): the city’s continual singing of the nomoi to itself, endless variations on the same

τ δεν πντ’ νδρα κα παδα, λεθερον κα δολον, θλν τε κα ρρενα, κα λ τ πλει λην τν πλιν ατν ατ πδουσαν μ παεσθα ποτε τατα διεληλθαμεν, μς γ πως ε μεταβαλλμενα κα πντως παρεχμενα ποικιλαν, στε πλησταν ενα τινα τν μνων τος δουσιν κα δονν.

It is necessary that every man and child, free and slave, female and male, and the whole city never stop chanting over the whole city itself these things that we have gone through, and in some way or other [the songs] must always be changing and in every way be furnished with varied adornment, so that there is a kind of endless desire for and pleasure in the hymnoi for the singers.

13. Book 2 (672e-673a): Music and gymnastic

θηναος: λη μν που χορεα λη παδευσις ν μν, τοτου δ’ α τ μν υθμο τε κα ρμοναι, τ κατ τν φωνν. Κλεινας: να. θηναος: τ δ γε κατ τν το σματος κνησιν υθμν μν κοινν τ τς φωνς εχε κινσει, σχμα δ διον. [673a] κε δ μλος τς φωνς κνησις. Κλεινας: ληθστατα. θηναος: τ μν τονυν τς φωνς μχρι τς ψυχς πρς ρετν παιδεας οκ οδ’ ντινα τρπον νομσαμεν μουσικν. Κλεινας: ρθς μν ον. θηναος: τ δ γε το σματος, παιζντων ρχησιν επομεν, ἐὰν μχρι τς το σματος ρετς τοιατη κνησις γγνηται, τν ντεχνον γωγν π τ τοιοτον ατο γυμναστικν προσεπωμεν. Κλεινας: ρθτατα.

Athenian: We decided that chorusing as a whole was the whole of education, and that part of it, the vocal part, concerned rhythms and harmonies. Kleinias: Yes. Athenian: The other concerning the movement of the body had rhythm in common with the voice, but formal gesture (schema) was its own, while the tune (melos) was the movement of the voice. Kleinias: Most true. Athenian: Now these [movements] of the voice that are some such form of education of the soul in virtue we named ‘music.’ Kleinias: Rightly so. Athenian: And these [movements] of the body, which we called the dance of playing, if such movements produce virtue of body, let us designate the skilled training toward this end ‘gymnastic.’ Kleinias: Most rightly.

14. Book 7 (795d-96d): More on ‘music’ and ‘gymnastic’ as the two parts of paideia

τ δ μαθματ που διττ, ς γ’ επεν, χρσασθαι συμβανοι ν, τ μν σα περ τ σμα γυμναστικς, τ δ’ εψυχας χριν μουσικς. τ δ γυμναστικς α δο, [795e] τ μν ρχησις, τ δ πλη. τς ρχσεως δ λλη μν Μοσης λξιν μιμουμνων, τ τε μεγαλοπρεπς φυλττοντας μα κα λεθερον, λλη δ, εεξας λαφρτητς τε νεκα κα κλλους, τν το σματος ατο μελν κα μερν τ προσκον καμπς τε κα κτσεως, κα ποδιδομνης κστοις ατος ατν ερθμου κινσεως, διασπειρομνης μα κα συνακολουθοσης ες πσαν τν ρχησιν κανς…. οδ’ σα ν τος χορος στιν α μιμματα προσκοντα μιμεσθαι παρετον, κατ μν τν τπον τνδε Κουρτων νπλια παγνια, κατ δ Λακεδαμονα Διοσκρων. δ α που παρ’ μν κρη κα δσποινα, εφρανθεσα τ τς χορεας παιδι, κενας χερσν οκ ᾠήθη δεν θρειν, [796c] πανοπλίᾳ δ παντελε κοσμηθεσα, οτω τν ρχησιν διαπερανειν: δ πντως μιμεσθαι πρπον ν εη κρους τε μα κα κρας, τν τς θεο χριν τιμντας, πολμου τ’ ν χρείᾳ κα ορτν νεκα. τος δ που παισν εθς τε κα σον ν χρνον μπω ες πλεμον ωσιν, πσι θεος προσδους τε κα πομπς ποιουμνους μεθ’ πλων τε κα ππων ε κοσμεσθαι δον ν εη, θττους τε κα βραδυτρας ν ρχσεσι κα ν πορείᾳ τς κετεας ποιουμνους πρς θεος [796d] τε κα θεν παδας.

It should follow that the lessons used should be of two sorts, gymnastics for the body, music for the sake of goodness of soul. Gymnastics are in turn double: dancing and wrestling. With dance either one is imitating the song script (Mouses lexis), taking care to be free and noble, or else for the sake of fitness, flexibility and beauty one bends and flexes as appropriate for the body’s limbs and joints, so that to each of them is rendered a rhythmic motion, which then spreads into and accompanies the whole of dance….Nor should we pass over the mimetic shows in choruses that are appropriate to reproduce, like your “armored games” of the Kouretes, and the Lacedaemonians’ for the Dioskouroi. And again as among us the Maiden Queen, who was pleased by the sport of chorusing and thought that one should not play with empty hands, adorned herself in full armor and thus conducted the dance. It is wholly fitting that boys and girls imitate this, honoring the favor/gift of the goddess, for its usefulness in war and for the sake of festivals. And for boys up to the age before they go to war it should be required that they are always fitted out with weapons and on horseback when they make processions to the all the gods and parades, more quickly or slowly dancing and marching as they make supplications to the gods and children of the gods.

15. Book 4 (722b-c): “Preludes” to “Political Nomoi

πρς τοτο δ οδες οικε διανοηθναι πποτε τν νομοθετν, ς ξν δυον χρσθαι πρς τς νομοθεσας, πειθο κα βίᾳ, καθ’ σον οἷόν τε π τν πειρον παιδεας χλον, τ τρ χρνται [722c] μνον: ο γρ πειθο κεραννντες τν ἀνάγκην νομοθετοσιν, λλ’ κρτ μνον τ βίᾳ. γ δ’, μακριοι, κα τρτον τι περ τος νμους ρ γγνεσθαι δον, οδαμ τ νν γιγνμενον…. οδν λλ’ περ νμων διαλεγμενοι, [722d] νμους δ ρτι μοι δοκομεν λγειν ρχεσθαι, τ δ’ μπροσθεν ν πντα μν προομια νμων. τ δ τατ’ ερηκα; τδε επεν βουληθες, τι λγων πντων κα σων φων κεκοιννηκεν προομι τ στιν κα σχεδν οἷόν τινες νακινσεις, χουσα τινα ντεχνον πιχερησιν χρσιμον πρς τ μλλον περανεσθαι. κα δ που κιθαρδικς δς λεγομνων νμων κα πσης μοσης προομια θαυμαστς [722e] σπουδασμνα πρκειται: τν δ ντως νμων ντων, ος δ πολιτικος ενα φαμεν, οδες πποτε οτ’ επ τι προομιον οτε συνθτης γενμενος ξνεγκεν ες τ φς, ς οκ ντος φσει…. ο τ γε δ διπλο δοξαν νυνδ μοι λεχθντες νμοι οκ εναι πλς οτω πως διπλο, λλ δο μν τινε, νμος τε κα προομιον το νμου: δ τυραννικν πταγμα πεικασθν ρρθη τος πιτγμασιν τος [723a] τν ατρν ος επομεν νελευθρους, τοτ’ εναι νμος κρατος, τ δ πρ τοτου ηθν, πειστικν λεχθν π τοδε, ντως μν εναι πειστικν, προοιμου μν το περ λγους δναμιν χειν. να γρ εμενς, κα δι τν εμνειαν εμαθστερον, τν πταξιν, δ στιν νμος, δξηται τν νμον νομοθτης λγει, τοτου χριν ερσθα μοι κατεφνη πς λγος οτος, ν πεθων επεν λγων: δι δ κατ [723b] γε τν μν λγον τοτ’ ατ, προομιον, λλ’ ο λγος ν ρθς προσαγορεοιτο εναι το νμου.

To this point, it seems that no lawgiver has ever realized that while able to use two means in their nomos-making, persuasion and force, in so far as possible in dealing with the masses lacking education, they only make use of one. For they do not mix compulsion with persuasion in making their nomoi, but use only force unmixed. But blessed men, I see yet a third thing that is needed in the nomoi, though now it never happens…..We have been discussing nothing but nomoi, but we seem to have just begun declaring nomoi, and all that has proceeded so far has been preludes to nomoi. Why do I say this? I mean that of all logoi and every utterance of any sort shares in common preludes (prooimia) and certain rousing preparations that show a kind of trial of skill that is useful for what is going to be undertaken. And indeed the preludeds of the kitharodic songs that are called nomoi and of every musical composition are marvelously elaborate. But of the real nomoi, those we say are politikoi, nobody has ever spoken a prelude or been a composer and brought one into the light, with the assumption that it is not in the nature of the thing….The nomoi that just now seemed double when I spoke them are not simply double, but of two parts, nomos and prelude to nomos. The tyrannical prescription which we said was like the prescription of illiberal doctors, this is unmixed nomos, but the part that is spoken before it, which he called persuasive (peistikon) and which really is persuasive, has the power of a prelude to speeches (logoi). For in order that the one to whom the lawgiver addresses the nomos, receive the injunction—which is the nomos—favorably and, being favorable he’ll learn it more readily, for this reason this entire logos appears to me to have been spoken, which the one speaking spoke to persuade. For this reason and on my account it should be called a prelude (prooimion) not an explanation (logos) of the nomos.

16. Book 6 (783a): fear, “law,” reason and the Muses as the four instruments for training the soul’s passions

δ δε τρα νοσματα, τρποντα ες τ βλτιστον παρ τ λεγμενον διστον, τρισ μν τος μεγστοις πειρσθαι κατχειν, φβ κα νμ κα τ ληθε λγ, προσχρωμνους μντοι Μοσαις τε κα γωνοισι θεος, [783b] σβεννντων τν αξην τε κα πιρρον.

These three ailments [natural desire for food, drink, and sex] need to be turned toward the best, beyond what is called the most pleasant, and we must try to restrain them by the three greatest things, by fear and nomos and true logos, making resort in addition to the Muses and to the gods of contests, to quench their growth and overflow.


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