Criticism of Homer's "The Iliad" by Socrates as depicted by Plato in "The Republic": Censorship

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Plato vs. HomerHomer's Iliad would have been severely criticized by Socrates, as depicted by Plato in The Republic. Plato is critical of Greek literature and mythology and even went so far as to propose a system of censorship in the ideal city. Plato believed myths to be lies and thus the propagation of these lies should be halted in society. In The Republic he wrote, "Whenever they tell a tale that plays false with the true nature of gods and heroes...they are like painters whose portraits bear no resemblance to their models." In this excerpt, Plato is saying that when literature "plays false with the true nature of gods and heroes"-which means depicts false information-it paints a false impression of reality. Therefore Plato proposed a system of censorship to prevent this false depiction of reality.

This censorship was primarily focused on protecting the impressionable youth. Plato felt that early exposure to fictional accounts would dull a person's ability to make accurate judgments regarding matters of fact and might encourage some people to emulate the worst behavior of the tragic heros.

As a result, Plato was severely critical of Greek literature and mythology. In viewing The Iliad, Plato would criticize it for several reasons. For one, throughout the epic the Gods use humans as pawns to do their own bidding-the argument can even be made that the entire Trojan war was started and developed as a result of Godly affairs. The reason the Trojans and Greeks fought was because of Helen, who was taken from the Achaeans and given to the Trojans by Aphrodite. Then when Thetis beseeches Zeus to make the Greeks to lose, they do. So the entire epic is largely a game between the Gods with the humans as their pawns. To the impressionable youth of Greece whom...