Deistpedia: The Deist EnCyclopedia

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Ion (dialogue)

Plato's Ion aims to give an account of poetry in dialogue form when Socrates and Ion discuss poetic inspiration, and whether or not poets create solely through skill or divine inspiration.

Plato presents the almost iconic image of the raving, mad and divine poet inspired by the muse. He does this in the conversation that occurs between Socrates and Ion, a rhapsode, which is a professional performer of poetry in ancient Greece. The work also is what would today be called "literary criticism," and a criticism of literary criticism itself. Since poetic inspiration is a kind of magnetism (PP Ion533d), anyone who comes within this field of inspiration can be said to be also magnetically charged with inspiration. The literary critic as an audience of poetry likewise becomes inspired in the writing of literary criticism. Therefore, literary criticism is not simply a piecing together of a text for the purposes of making a structured and solely rational interpretation of it. Plato would like to claim that there is something divine, non-objective, and non-reductive about poetry and the arts related to it (literary criticism) that he can only speak about in metaphor.

See also