chapter  4
Plato
Mimesis
Pages 20

This chapter examines Plato's concept of mimesis and his arguments concerning it. The traditional translation of the term is 'imitation', and this seems to fit the way this and related words are normally used in Greek. Socrates says at 393c that 'making one likes another in form or speech is imitating them'; this general definition, which does not relate only to artistic contexts, is then applied in a specific way to poetry. Sometimes mimesis is translated 'representation', and this would indeed fit most of the cases of artistic mimesis which Plato discusses, a play can be said to represent events, a picture to represent a person, and so on. Socrates begins by asking what mimesis is, before going on to argue against mimetic poetry. The Athenian discusses painting here, but he is not really claiming that any painting which represents its model accurately is a worthwhile work of art; rather, he is using it as an analogy for music.