In the Republic by Plato, he makes a harsh case against the poets of his time. Aristotle on the other hand in his written work called the poetics, makes a case for the poets and why they are a benefit to society. In Plato’s eyes poetry corrupts individuals of a society. In the Republic he states, “There is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (607b). It makes them believe things that aren’t necessarily true. Although he concluded that Homer helped to shape Greece and its society, he believes Homer is a harm to the people as well. He states, “Praisers of Homer who say that this poet educated Greece, and that in the management and education of human affairs it is worthwhile to take him up for study and for living, by arranging one's whole life according to this poet” (606e).
Plato’s Republic Book II focuses on Socrates’ Principle of Specialization. Glaucon and Ademinatus to define justice in society put Socrates to a challenge. The critique of poetry arises from Socrates trying to decide how the children of his ideal society should be educated. Socrates deemed that poets like Homer for example wrote about behaviors that were meant to be ideal for individuals in a society, but Socrates did not believed these were always the best way to behave or act. Since young people are naïve and do not have a lot of wisdom yet, they do not know what is true and false or what the difference between right and wrong is so, they must be taught these values at a young age. Therefore, they can only hear stories that promote good behaviors because it is hard to change an individual’s idea of something once it has been engrained in their minds at a young age to be true.
Socrates though that God needs to be portrayed in a light that shows how good he really is. This is a reason that Socrates targets theology. Plato states, “Altogether simple and true in deed and speech…[God] doesn't himself change or deceive others by illusions, speeches, or the sending of signs either in waking or dreaming” (382e). He also states, “There is no lying poet in a god” (382d9). God is the form of the good. He is all knowing and incapable of doing anything wrong. Socrates believed that poets weren’t always portraying God in such a great light.
In Book III, Socrates brings up the critique that poetry can negatively affect the virtues of the young. Socrates did not like the tragic worldview and instead wanted men to be viewed as more virtuous and not suffering from such inner conflict. Socrates states, Poets and prose writers get the greatest things concerning human beings wrong. They say many unjust people are happy and many just ones wretched that doing injustice is profitable if it escapes detection, and that just ice is another’s good but one’s own loss (392a-392b).
Socrates wants them to say the exact opposite of this. He basically says what poets can and cannot say in his society in order to make sure individuals believe the right things in his mind. ...