In Ion, Plato presents a dialogue between his influential teacher Socrates and a distinguished rhapsode, Ion. While Socrates considers himself “a common man who only speak the truth” (47), Ion is proud and boastful, regarding himself as a rhapsode who can “speak about Homer better than any man” (47).
The primary issues between these two contradictory characters’ are the difference between gift of speech and knowledge of speech, as well as the attending of oneself to moral by understanding an idea as a whole rather than superficially understanding.
Ion is a rhapsode, a professional narrator of Homer, who obtained the first prize in the festival of Asclepius. Despite his “talent” for dramatics, intonation, and voice of inflection, the seemingly necessary vocal tools of a reciter, his knowledge and understanding of Homer, specifically in terms of those various arts featured in Odyssey, fails to extend beyond his ability to memorize the epic poem. Socrates speaks candidly about such paradox Ion is experiencing; “Of whom, Ion, you are one, and are possessed by Homer and when any one repeats the words of another poet you go to sleep, and know not what to say; but when any one recites a strain of Homer you wake up in a moment, and your soul leaps within you, and you have plenty to say; for not by art or knowledge about Homer do you say what you say, but by divine inspiration and by possession.” (50) Socratic theory of inspiration is a divinity that is moving a person. Socrates speaks metaphorically, saying that such is like a magnet that attracts iron rings and magnetizes them along a chain. Muse inspires poets, and poets inspire rhapsodes or critics. Socrates also mentions, “And every poet has some Muse from whom he is suspended, and by whom he is said to be possessed, which is nearly the same thing for he is taken hold of.” (50) Socrates has caught arrogant Ion in a contradiction: if Ion is a good judge of Homer, whose content does not greatly vary from other poets, Ion should also be able to judge these other poets.
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Ion’s lack of understanding of literature becomes crucial when one considers the role of such Greek rhapsodes as interpreters of Homer, and in that capacity, as essentially rewriters of the text. The danger is apparent here, Socrates asserts, is in that the interpretation of Homer, conducted by a rhapsode, is a product entirely of ignorance. Socrates says, “Do you know that the spectator is the last of the rings which, as I am saying, receive the power of the original magnet from one another? The rhapsode like yourself and the actor are intermediate links, and the poet himself is the first of them.” (50)
He is emphasizing the role of a rhapsode to the Athenian citizens. There are further problems inherent in this situation emerging out of an audience’s inability to recognize distinctions between interpretations based on content and on dramatics in order to further create that dynamic where a choice is made. To recognize good, one must differentiate good from bad. Furthermore, if one chooses good based upon false information or ill presentations of that dynamic needed for choice, good may be bad, or good may be the only option available. The peril, of course, lies within that situation where the false analysis of a story is witnessed as fantastic by an audience, and recorded as such. Socrates fears this state of practice. He, as does Homer, works within the realm of the spoken word, and while dramatist and adornment may mark the popularity of the rhapsode, neither is any indication of a correct or even valid, interpretation of any art expressed in Homer’s poems, particularly that art of telling a story, where the telling becomes at once a theatrical presentation.
Another major topic during this conversation between Ion and Socrates are the differences of arts. When Socrates asks “when one art is of one kind of knowledge and another of another, they are different,” (51) Ion admits that such is true. Then Socrates says. “For if the subject of knowledge were the same, there would be no meaning in saying that the arts were different, – if they both gave the same knowledge.” (51) Again Ion yields himself and concurs with Socrates; however, in the later passage, Ion tells Socrates that an artist is most like a general, because a rhapsode knows what the generals has to say, meaning he considers the two position the same. As a rhapsode, Ion gained knowledge about many different kinds of people as well as different talents, but his familiarity of those various jobs were limited. On the other hand, since Homer’s epics concern mostly with wars, Ion inevitably gained significant knowledge on generals. Thus, Ion believes he could be a good general. Socrates taunts Ion for claiming that a rhapsode understands what being a general is about. When Ion defends himself by saying that Athenians do not choose foreigners to be their generals, Socrates cites a token example of one who, although an alien, has shown merit.
. Introduction [ ] Print section [ ] Modern Art, painting, sculpture, and other forms of 20 th-century art. Although scholars disagree as to precisely when the modern period began, they mostly use the term modern art to refer to art of the 20 th century in Europe and the Americas, as well as in other regions under Western influence. The modern period has been a particularly innovative one. Among ...
Generals were elected from among officers, who were chosen by lot by the citizens. Socrates is arguing that regardless how numerous wars and myriad tactics Ion indirectly experienced through Homer’s characters, he still cannot be ranked at the same level as the generals that has been to actual battlefields. One cannot draw like Picasso or Van Gogh just by looking at their paintings. Without actually trying to draw and paint, one can never capture the moments an artist faces and the ideas they contemplate on, in spite of all the museum tours one has been to. Similarly, Ion may have more knowledge on wars than most other people, but it is still doubtful that he would be a talented general in real life.
The theory that says he who is a good rhapsode is a good general is not valid for artists such as Michelangelo or Van Gogh. Although both artists had masters who taught them basic skills and allowed them continue studying arts, neither Michelangelo nor Van Gogh limited their arts to the teachings of their teachers. They continuously drew and painted to develop their unique styles of painting. The two artists did not become so talented by simply looking at other paintings or reading about famous works; their ardent and diligent attitudes built up on their bases of knowledge and innate abilities. According to Ion’s theory, Michelangelo and Van Gogh should have produced prominent works like the Sistine Chapel and The Starry Night just by watching their masters paint and read about the techniques of painting.
Introduction African Art in general, are works of art created by historical or contemporary African artists living south of the Sahara. The artists belong to a wide variety of cultures from Africa, and everyone is characterized by its own language, traditions, and artistic forms. Although the large Sahara is a natural border within the continent, evidence has shown that there are a lot of ...
Socrates’ point concerning the art of the critique, and the interpretations which emerge out of that critical analysis, is that the role of the philosopher, remains solely, unlike the inspired poet, in charge of his faculties and in control of his story, especially the moral meaning of the story. As such, the art expressed in the story is the conveyance of morality, and the artist, is the philosopher. Similarly, Socrates wants Ion to understand art in itself, rather than purely reciting what Homer says; moreover, Socrates challenges Ion to realize that knowledge is a whole, and is not selective.
Ion says that an artist is like a general because when an artist produces a work, he has to have various aspects. He has to construct the synthesis of human relationships, thus, being similar to a leader of a community. An artist knows all implications and visions, and from those views, he is producing works.
Ion insisted that the art of the rhapsode is most like the art of the general. Ion sees no difference in them. He believes that he would know what a general ought to say when exhorting his soldiers. Socrates doesn’t agree. He is trying to make the point that a person can only be an expect in his own art and not in any other art. “”you would agree that when one art is of one kind of knowledge and another of another, they are different?” Socrates asks. Ion agrees but he still does not admit that he is not an expert on homer. Ion is divinely inspired by homer. He is his favorite poet and was only an expert on homer, when expert will know everything about all poets and not just about homer.