Sivut kuvina

weave them with an independent work of art, designed for philosophical exposition. I at all events, will still endeavour, by means of this view, to reserve this dialogue for Plato, until a somewhat more able criticism than has hitherto appeared completely disproves its claims to be considered so. Two reasons in particular incline me to this opinion, first, the language, against which Ast brings no important objection, and which quite as clearly as that in the “Apology” unites all the peculiarities of the first period of the Platonic writings. And, secondly, the very strictness with which the composer confines himself to the particular circumstance which is the subject of the dialogue, and here abstains from all admixture of investigation into the first principles, an act of abstinence which was certainly not possible to small philosophers like the other Socraticians, but only to so distinguished a man, —an act by which he does at the same time expressly remove this piece out of the list of the others. Hence also the strong emphasis with which the announcement is made, that to those who do not start from the same moral principles, all deliberation in common is impossible, an emphasis to be ascribed rather to Plato, in order to explain the style and method of the dialogue, than to Socrates, who would hardly have needed it toward his friend Crito, who could only differ from him in consequences, and not in first principles. Little value is to be put upon the story of Diogenes that AEschines was actually the interlocutor, and that Plato from dislike to him intruded Crito in that character. It is, however, very possible, that Plato allows himself in this particular to deviate from fact, and has chosen Crito because he was best secured by his age and condition against unpleasant consequences, probably, also, died soon after the death of Socrates. We see at all events an endeavour to avoid injuring any Athenian friend of Socrates in the fact, that Plato only mentions by name foreigners as having any share in the plot of abduction. So that the circumstance is probably founded in fact, and only the cause of it, by whom who can tell ? fictitiously superadded.

[ocr errors][merged small]

SocEATEs proves two things to the Athenian rhapsodist: First, that if his business of interpretation and criticism is a science or an art, it must not confine itself to one poet, but extend over all, because the objects are the same in all, and the whole art of poetry one and indivisible. Secondly, that it does not belong to the rhapsodist generally to judge of the poet, but that this can only be done in reference to every particular passage by one who is acquainted, as an artist and adept, with what is in every instance described in those passages." Now it will be at once manifest to every reader that it cannot have been Plato's ultimate object to put a rhapsodist to shame in such a manner. For even they who can never discover any purpose in Plato's writings except, in a far too limited sense, that which is directed towards common life and the improvement of it, cannot overlook the circumstance that those rhapsodists, a somewhat subordinate class of artists, who were for the most part concerned only with the lower ranks of the people, enjoyed no such influence upon the morals and


cultivation of the youth of a higher rank, that Plato should have made them an object of his notice and a butt of his irony. Nay, viewed even as a genuine Socratic dialogue, we must still look for some other and more remote purpose in it for which Socrates committed himself so far with such a man. It was therefore very natural, certainly, from the precise manner in which they refer continually from the rhapsodist to the poet, and from many very definite allusions to the Phaedrus, to fall into the supposition that the rhapsodist is only to be looked upon as the shell, and that what is here said of the art of poetry must be considered to be the real kernel of the dialogue. We find also here, and that most distinctly announced, the notion of inspiration in opposition to art. But not only is this proposition brought forward in so direct a form, that it could scarcely for that very reason be considered the main purpose of the dialogue to maintain it, but it returns upon us in almost the same words as we found in the Phaedrus, neither more deeply grounded, as it might be inferred from the same principles that poetry is but an artless craft, nor more definitely enunciated, so that it might in any degree be explained why, in that dialogue, art was cursorily attributed to the tragedians, and in this manner the two ideas, that of art and divine inspiration, be combined with one another. As then nothing of the kind is here to be found, how should a dialogue have been expressly written for the purpose of endowing a mere repetition of what had been already said with a few fresh examples. On the contrary, it is elear, upon more accurate consideration, that a contradiction exists in what those two main propositions about the art of poetry enunciate. For it is supposed, first, that the art is one and indivisible; then the principle is set up that every art is one by reason of its object, and it is lastly notified that poetry has many objects distinct from one another, according to which it certainly would not in that case be one. This is upon the whole so very much in the Platonic manner, to lead from one proposition over to its opposite, that whoever has remarked the gradual transition will certainly look at once for more accurate advices upon the nature of the art of poetry, by which alone this contradiction may be solved, as the real object and purpose of the dialogue. Now for him who searches carefully, there do indeed exist in it something like the following; that the proposed object is by no means an object of the poet in the sense in which it is his who deals with it for a certain end according to the rules of art, but that the principle of unity in the art of poetry must be looked for in something else; and that the work of the poet exercises a creative influence in the minds of the readers. But, first, there is a greater want of any kind of instruction for pursuing these notices further than can be well excused, and then both they, and the consequences which might be drawn from them, for the separation and subdivision of the arts generally, have been already quite as clearly enunciated in the Phaedrus, and certainly placed upon a better and more dialectic foundation ; so that the dialogue does nothing for them, further than investigate them in disconnection with the principles on which they rest; a process which can never be of any but the very slightest use. Hence the question naturally upon this presents itself, what the Ion is to do placed after the Phaedrus, and yet no one who compares the similar passages in the two, can conceive a wish to change the order.

For, compare as we will, the thing always assumes the appearance of the Ion having had the Phaedrus in view, and not the Phaedrus the Ion. Add to this, that what might lead the reader to consider the notices to which we just now alluded as the main object of the piece, is placed too much in the shade. For art is regarded almost entirely from the point of view alone that it supposes a knowledge, of its object, whereby it is distinguished from artless handicraft, but not from that which presents it as endeavouring to produce a work by means of that knowledge, whereby it disconnects itself from pure science. This latter point is touched upon in a cursory manner only, and never accompanied by a hint of the kind which in the Protagoras and its family, and even so early as in the Lysis, marked out the way with so much distinctness. And this can be neither attributed to the nature of the dress in which the dialogue is put, as it expressly ascribes the same work to the rhapsodist and the poet; nor does this confusion of the unities of the object and the work wear the appearance of purpose sufficiently to make it without going further, a competent guide. And since the conclusion comes round again, and considers the rhapsodist simply, without containing even a hint respecting the true view, we are almost compelled, from the obscurity and deficiency of the execution, to reject again the only tenable theory contained in the work. And the same difficulties present themselves, when we consider closely, and compare particular passages in reference to subject and arrangement, as well as execution and language; for many details are so much in the peculiar spirit of Plato and in his most genuine

« EdellinenJatka »