What Is Wrong With The Rhapsode? 
The Role Of Inspiration In Plato’s The Ion

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In Plato’s Ion we find Socrates engaged in a conversation with the rhapsode Ion. During the course of the dialogue, Socrates gives a critical account of the nature of the rhapsode’s profession. But what exactly is it that Socrates criticises? And is his account entirely critical or does he, in the end, attach some positive value to the rhapsode’s profession in virtue of its being a ‘divinely inspired’ activity?1 In this essay I shall argue that Socrates does in fact give an entirely critical account of the rhapsode’s profession. Thus I agree with Nickolas Pappas, who says that “the claim of poetic madness is as derogatory as any other imputation of insanity.”
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