By Gerald Therrien
At the end of part 2 of ‘Shall We Allow Poets in the Republic’, we came upon the proposition that poets either must be ‘possessed and insane’ and derive their inspiration from some divine influence – like the oracles and prophecies of the priests and priestesses of the gods, or that poets received their inspiration by ‘enthusiasm’ from the Muse.
In order to try to find a way to understand this enthusiasm, we’ll dive into Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’ dialogue. [Note: translation by Thomas Taylor, 1804.]
Phaedrus met Socrates, who was to be his partner in ‘corybantic fury’ of discourse (i.e. unrestrained frenzy of emotion), and they began talking about Lysias, ‘the most skilful writer of the present age’, and of his oration on love – that ‘one who does not love ought to be gratified rather than a lover’.
At first, Socrates spoke about the truth contained in…
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