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Now for the exercise of any faculty or art a previous
training and habituation are required; clearly therefore for
the practice of virtue. And since the whole city has one end,
it is manifest that education should be one and the same
for all, and that it should be public, and not private, not
as at present, when every one looks after his own children
separately, and gives them separate instruction of the sort
which he thinks best ; the training in things which are of
common interest should be the same for all. Neither must
we suppose that any one of the citizens belongs to himself,
for they all belong to the state, and are each of them a part



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 45

of the state, and the care of each part is inseparable from the
care of the whole. In this particular the Lacedaemonians
are to be praised, for they take the greatest pains about
their children, and make education the business of the state.

2. That education should be regulated by law and
should be an affair of state is not to be denied, but what
should be the character of this public education, and how
young persons should be educated, are questions which re-
main to be considered. For mankind are by no means
agreed about the things to be taught, whether we look to
virtue or the best life.

Neither is it clear whether education is more concerned
with intellectual or with moral virtue. The existing prac-
tice is perplexing; no one knows on what principle we
should proceed should the useful in life, or should virtue,
or should the higher knowledge, be the aim of our training;
all three opinions have been entertained. Again, about the
means there is no agreement ; for different persons, starting
with different ideas about the nature of virtue, naturally dis-
agree about the practice of it.

There can be no doubt that children should be taught those
useful things which are really necessary, but not all things ;
for occupations are divided into liberal and illiberal; and
to young children should be imparted only such kinds of
knowledge as will be useful to them without vulgarizing
them. And any occupation, art, or science, which makes the
body or soul or mind of the freeman less fit for the practice
or exercise of virtue, is vulgar ; wherefore we call those
arts vulgar which tend to deform the body, and likewise
all paid employments, for they absorb and degrade the
mind.

There are also some liberal arts quite proper for a free-
man to acquire, but only in a certain degee, and if he at-
tend to them too closely, in order to attain perfection in



46 ARISTOTLE

them, the same evil effects will follow. The object also
which a man sets before him makes a great difference ; if he
does or learns anything for his own sake or for the sake of
his friends, or with a view to excellence, the action will not
appear illiberal ; but if done for the sake of others, the very
same action will be thought menial and servile. The re-
ceived subjects of instruction, as I have already remarked,
are partly of a liberal and partly of an illiberal character.

3. The customary branches of education are in number
four; they are (i) reading and writing, (2) gymnastic
exercises, (3) music, to which is sometimes added (4)
drawing. Of these, reading and writing and drawing are
regarded as useful for the purposes of life in a variety of
ways, and gymnastic exercises are thought to infuse cour-
age. Concerning music a doubt may be raised in our own
day most men cultivate it for the sake of pleasure, but
originally it was included in education, because nature her-
self, as has often been said, requires that we should be
able, not only to work well, but to use leisure well ; for, as
I must repeat once and again, the first principle of all action
is leisure. Both are required, but leisure is better than oc-
cupation ; and therefore the question must be asked in good
earnest, what ought we to do when at leisure? Clearly
we ought not to be amusing ourselves, for then amusement
would be the end of life. But if this is inconceivable, and
yet amid serious occupations amusement is needed more
than at other times (for he who is hard at work has need
of relaxation, and amusement gives relaxation, whereas
occupation is always accompanied with exertion and ef-
fort), at suitable times we should introduce amusements,
and they should be our medicines, for the emotion which
they create in the soul is a relaxation, and from the pleasure
we obtain rest. Leisure of itself gives pleasure and happi-
ness and enjoyment of life, which are experienced, not by



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 47

the busy man, but by those who have leisure. For he who
is occupied has in view some end which he has not attained ;
but happiness is an end which all men deem to be accom-
panied with pleasure and not with pain. This pleasure,
however, is regarded differently by different persons, and
varies according to the habit of individuals ; the pleasure of
the best man is the best, and springs from the noblest
sources.

It is clear then that there are branches of learning and
education which we must study with a view to the enjoy-
ment of leisure, and these are to be valued for their own
sake; whereas those kinds of knowledge which are useful
in business are to be deemed necessary, and exist for the
sake of other things. And therefore our fathers admitted
music into education, not on the ground either of its neces-
sity or utility, for it is not necessary, nor indeed useful in the
same manner as reading and writing, which are useful in
money-making, in the management of a household, in the
acquisition of knowledge and in political life, nor like draw-
ing, useful for a more correct judgment of the works of
artists, nor again like gymnastic, which gives health and
strength ; for neither of these is to be gained from music.
There remains, then, the use of music for intellectual enjoy-
ment in leisure; which appears to have been the reason of
its introduction, this being one of the ways in which it is
thought that a freeman should pass his leisure ; as Homer
says

" How good it is to invite men to the pleasant feast,"

and afterwards he speaks of others whom he describes as
inviting

" The bard who would delight them all." *

1 Odyssey, XVII. 385.



48 ARISTOTLE

And in another place Odysseus says there is no better way
of passing life than when

" Men's hearts are merry and the banqueters in the hall, sitting in
order, hear the voice of the minstrel." 1

It is evident, then, that there is a sort of education in
which parents should train their sons, not as being useful
or necessary, but because it is liberal or noble. Whether
this is of one kind only, or of more than one, and if so,
what they are, and how they are to be imparted, must here-
after be determined. Thus much we are now in a position
to say that the ancients witness to us; for their opinion
may be gathered from the fact that music is one of the re-
ceived and traditional branches of education. Further, it
is clear that children should be instructed in some useful
things, for example, in reading and writing, not only
for their usefulness, but also because many other sorts of
knowledge are acquired through them. With a like view
they may be taught drawing, not to prevent their making
mistakes in their own purchases, or in order that they may,
not be imposed upon in the buying or selling of articles, but
rather because it makes them judges of the beauty of the
human form. To be seeking always after the useful does
not become free and exalted souls. Now it is clear that in
education habit must go before reason, and the body before
the mind; and therefore boys should be handed over to
the trainer, who creates in them the proper habit of body,
and to the wrestling-master, who teaches them their exer-
cises.

4. Of these states which in our own day seem to take
the greatest care of children, some aim at producing in
them an athletic habit, but they only injure their forms and

1 Odyssey, IX. 7.



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 49

stunt their growth. Although the Lacedaemonians have
not fallen into this mistake, yet they brutalize their children
by laborious exercises which they think will make them
courageous. But in truth, as we have often repeated, edu-
cation should not be exclusively directed to this or to any
other single end. And even if we suppose the Lacedae-
monians to be right in their end, they do not attain it.
For among barbarians and among animals courage is found
associated, not with the greatest ferocity, but with a gentle
and lionlike temper. There are many races who are ready
enough to kill and eat men, such as the Achseans and
Heniochi, who both live about the Black Sea; and there
are other inland tribes, as bad or worse, who all live by
plunder, but have no courage. It is notorious that the
Lacedaemonians, while they were themselves assiduous in
their laborious drill, were superior to others, but now they
are beaten both in war and gymnastic exercises. For their
ancient superiority did not depend on their mode of train-
ing their youth, but only on the circumstance that they
trained them at a time when others did not. Hence we may
infer that what is noble, not what is brutal, should have
the first place; no wolf or other wild animal will face a
really noble danger; such dangers are for the brave man.
And parents who devote their children to gymnastics while
they neglect their necessary education, in reality vulgarize
them ; for they make them useful to the state in one quality
only, and even in this the argument proves them to be in-
ferior to others. We should judge the Lacedaemonians not
from what they have been but from what they are; for
now they have rivals who compete with their education ;
formerly they had none.

It is an admitted principle, that gymnastic exercises
should be employed in education, and that for children

PAINTER PED. Ess. 4



SO ARISTOTLE

they should be of a lighter kind, avoiding severe regimen
or painful toil, lest the growth of the body be impaired.
The evil of excessive training in early years is strikingly
proved by the example of the Olympic victors; for not
more than two or three of them have gained a prize both
as boys and as men ; their early training and severe gym-
nastic exercises exhausted their constitutions. When boy-
hood is over, three years should be spent in other studies;
the period of life which follows may then be devoted to
hard exercise and strict regimen. Men ought not to labor
at the same time with their minds and with their bodies;
for the two kinds of labor are opposed to one another,
the labor of the body impedes the mind, and the labor of
the mind the body.

5. Concerning music there are some questions which we
have already raised; these we may now resume and carry
further; and our remarks will serve as a prelude to this or
any other discussion of the subject. It is not easy to
determine the nature of music, or why any one should have
a knowledge of it. Shall we say, for the sake of amuse-
ment and relaxation, like sleep or drinking, which are not
good in themselves, but are pleasant, and at the same time
" make care to cease," as Euripides 1 says ? And therefore
men rank them with music, and make use of all three,
sleep, drinking, music, to which some add dancing. Or
shall we argue that music conduces to virtue, on the
ground that it can form our minds and habituate us to true
pleasures as our bodies are made by gymnastic to be of a
certain character? Or shall we say that it contributes to
the enjoyment of leisure and mental cultivation, which is a
third alternative? Now obviously youth are not to be in-
structed with a view to their amusement, for learning is no
pleasure, but is accompanied with pain. Neither is intel-

1 Bacchae, 380.



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 51

icctual enjoyment suitable to boys of that age, for it is the
end, and that which is imperfect cannot attain the perfect
or end. But perhaps it may be said that boys learn music
for the sake of the amusement which they will have when
they are grown up. If so, why should they learn them-
selves, and not, like the Persian and Median kings, enjoy
the pleasure and instruction which is derived from hearing
others? (for surely skilled persons who have made music
the business and profession of their lives will be better per-
formers than those who practice only to learn). If they
must learn music, on the same principle they should learn
cookery, which is absurd. And even granting that music
may form the character, the objection still holds: why
should we learn ourselves? Why cannot we attain true
pleasure and form a correct judgment from hearing others,
like the Lacedaemonians? For they, without learning
music, nevertheless can correctly judge, as they say, of
good and bad melodies. Or again, if music should be used
to promote cheerfulness and refined intellectual enjoyment,
the objection still remains why should we learn our-
selves instead of enjoying the performance of others? We
may illustrate what we are saying by our conception of the
Gods ; for in the poets Zeus does not himself sing or play
on the lyre. Nay, we call professional performers vulgar;
no freeman would play or sing unless he were intoxicated
or in jest. But these matters may be left for the present.

The first question is whether music is or is not to be a
part of education. Of the three things mentioned in our
discussion, which is it? Education or amusement or intel-
lectual enjoyment, for it may be reckoned under all three,
and seems to share in the nature of all of them. Amuse-
ment is for the sake of relaxation, and relaxation is of
necessity sweet, for it is the remedy of pain caused by
toil, and intellectual enjoyment is universally acknowledged



52 ARISTOTLE

to contain an element not only of the noble but of the
pleasant, for happiness is made up of both. All men
agree that music is one of the pleasantest things, whether
with or without song; as Musaeus says,

" Song is to mortals of all things the sweetest."

Hence and with good reason it is introduced into social
gatherings and entertainments, because it makes the hearts
of men glad : so that on this ground alone we may assume
that the young ought to be trained in it. For innocent
pleasures are not only in harmony with the perfect end of
life, but they also provide relaxation. And whereas men
rarely attain the end, but often rest by the way and amuse
themselves, not only with a view to some good, but also
for the pleasure's sake, it may be well for them at times
to find a refreshment in music. It sometimes happens
that men make amusement the end, for the end probably
contains some element of pleasure, though not any ordi-
nary or lower pleasure; but they mistake the lower for
the higher, and in seeking for the one find the other, since
every pleasure has a likeness to the end of action. For
the end is not eligible, nor do the pleasures which we
have described exist, for the sake of any future good but
of the past, that is to say, they are the alleviation of past
toils and pains. And we may infer this to be the reason
why men seek happiness from common pleasures. But
music is pursued, not only as an alleviation of past toil, but
also as providing recreation. And who can say whether,
having this use, it may not also have a nobler one? In
addition to this common pleasure, felt and. shared in by
all (for the pleasure given by music is natural, and there-
fore adapted to all ages and characters), may it not have
also some influence over the character and the soul? It
must have such an influence if characters are affected



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 53

by it. And that they are so affected is proved by the
power which the songs of Olympus and of many others
exercise; for beyond question they inspire enthusiasm, and
enthusiasm is an emotion of the ethical part of the soul.
Besides, when men hear imitations, even unaccompanied
by melody or rhythm, their feelings move in sympathy.
Since then music is a pleasure, and virtue consists in
rejoicing and loving and hating aright, there is clearly
nothing which we are so much concerned to acquire and
to cultivate as the power of forming right judgments, and of
taking delight in good dispositions and noble actions.
Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and gentle-
ness, and also of courage and temperance and of virtues
and vices in general, which hardly fall short of the actual
affections, as we know from our own experience, for in
listening to such strains our souls undergo a change. The
habit of feeling pleasure or pain at mere representations
is not far removed from the same feeling about realities ;
for example, if any one delights in the sight of a statue
for its beauty only, it necessarily follows that the sight
of the original will be pleasant to him. No other sense,
such as taste or touch, has any resemblance to moral quali-
ties; in sight only there is a little, for figures are to some
extent of a moral character, and (so far) all participate
in the feeling about them. Again, figures and colors are
not imitations, but signs of moral habits, indications which
the body gives of states of feeling. The connection of
them with morals is slight, but in so far as there is any,
young men should be taught to look, not at the works of
Pauson, but at those of Polygnotus, or any other painter
or statuary who expresses moral ideas. On the other hand,
even in mere melodies there is an imitation of character,
for the musical modes differ essentially from one another,
and those who hear them are differently affected by each.



54 ARISTOTLE

Some of them make men sad and grave, like the so-called
Mixolydian, others enfeeble the mind, like the relaxed
harmonies, others, again, produce a moderate and settled
temper, which appears to be the peculiar effect of the
Dorian; the Phrygian inspires enthusiasm. The whole
subject has been well treated by philosophical writers on
this branch of education, and they .confirm their arguments
by facts. The same principles apply to rhythms: some
have a character of rest, others of motion, and of these
latter again, some have a more vulgar, others a nobler
movement. Enough has been said to show that music has
a power of forming the character, and should therefore be
introduced into the education of the young. The study
is suited to the stage of youth, for young persons will not,
if they can help, endure anything which is not sweetened
by pleasure, and music has a natural sweetness. There
seems to be in us a sort of affinity to harmonies and
rhythms, which makes some philosophers say that the soul is
a harmony, others, that she possesses harmony.

6. And now we have to determine the question which
has been already raised, whether children should be them-
selves taught to sing and play or not. Clearly there is a
considerable difference made in the character by the actual
practice of the art. It is difficult, if not impossible, for
those who do not perform to be good judges of the per-
formance of others. Besides, children should have some-
thing to do, and the rattle of Archytas, which people give
to their children in order to amuse them and prevent
them from breaking anything in the house, was a capital
invention, for a young thing cannot be quiet. The rattle
is a toy suited to the infant mind and (musical) education
is a rattle or toy for children of a larger growth. We
conclude then that they should be taught music in such a
way as to become not only critics but performers.



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 55

The question what is or is not suitable for different ages
may be easily answered ; nor is there any difficulty in
meeting the objection of those who say that the study of
music is vulgar. We reply (i) in the first place, that they
who are to be judges must also be performers, and that they
should begin to practice early, although when they are
older they may be spared the execution; they must have
learned to appreciate what is good and to delight in it,
thanks to the knowledge which they acquired in their
youth. As to (2) the vulgarizing effect which music is
supposed to exercise, this is a question (of degree), which
we shall have no difficulty in determining, when we have
considered to what extent freemen who are being trained
to political virtue should pursue the art, what melodies and
what rhythms they should be allowed to use, and what
instruments should be employed in teaching them to play,
for even the instrument makes a difference. The answer
to the objection turns upon these distinctions; for it is
quite possible that certain methods of teaching and learn-
ing music do really have a degrading effect. It is evident
then that the learning of music ought not to impede the
business of riper years, or to degrade the body or render
it unfit for civil or military duties, whether for the early
practice or for the later study of them.

The right measure will be attained if students of music
stop short of the arts which are practiced in professional
contests, and do not seek to acquire those fantastic marvels
of execution which are now the fashion in such contests, and
from these have passed into education. Let the young pur-
sue their studies until they are able to feel delight in noble
melodies and rhythms, and not merely in that common
part of music in which every slave or child and even some
animals find pleasure.

From these principles we may also infer what instru-



56 ARISTOTLE

ments should be used. The flute, or any other instrument
which requires great skill, as for example the harp, ought
not to be admitted into education, but only such as will
make intelligent students of music or of the other parts of
education. Besides, the flute is not an instrument which
has a good moral effect; it is too exciting. The proper
time for using it is when the performance aims not at
instruction, but at the relief of the passions. And there is
a further objection; the impediment which the flute pre-
sents to the use of the voice detracts from its educational
value. The ancients therefore were right in forbidding
the flute to youths and freemen, although they had once
allowed it. For when their wealth gave them greater
leisure, and they had loftier notions of excellence, being
also elated with their success, both before and after the
Persian War, with more zeal than discernment they pur-
sued every kind of knowledge, and so they introduced the
flute into education. At Lacedsemon there was a Choragus
who led the chorus with a flute, and at Athens the instru-
ment became so popular that most freemen could play
upon it. The popularity is shown by the tablet which
Thrasippus dedicated when he furnished the chorus to
Ecphantides. Later experience enabled men to judge what
was or was not really conducive to virtue, and they rejected
both the flute and several other old-fashioned instruments,
such as the Lydian harp, the many-stringed lyre, the
" heptagon," " triangle," " sambuca," and the like which
are intended only to give pleasure to the hearer, and require
extraordinary skill of hand. 1 There is a meaning also in the
myth of the ancients, which tells how Athene invented the
flute and then threw it away. It was not a bad idea of
theirs, that the Goddess disliked the instrument because it
made the face ugly; but with still more reason may we

Cf. Plato, Republic, III. 399.



SELECTION FROM THE "POLITICS" 57

say that she rejected it because the acquirement of flute-
playing contributes nothing to the mind, since to Athene
we ascribe both knowledge and art.

Thus then we reject the professional instruments and
also the professional mode of education in music and by
professional we mean that which is adopted in contests,
for in this the performer practices the art, not for the
sake of his own improvement, but in order to give pleasure,
and that of a vulgar sort, to his hearers. For this reason
the execution of such music is not the part of a freeman
but of a paid performer, and the result is that the per-
formers are vulgarized, for the end at which they aim is
bad. The vulgarity of the spectator tends to lower the
character of the music and therefore of the performers;
they look to him he makes them what they are, and
fashions even their bodies by the movements which he
expects them to exhibit.

7. We have also to consider rhythms and harmonies.
Shall we use them all in education or make a distinction?
And shall the distinction be that which is made by those who
are engaged in education, or shall it be some other? For



Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterGreat pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer → online text (page 4 of 33)