Exiling the Poets: The Production of Censorship in Plato's Republic

The queston of why Plato censored poetry in his Republic has bedeviled scholars for centuries. In Exiling the Poets Ramona A. Naddaff offers a strikingly original approach to this problem, reading Plato's censorship as a creative and transformative act intended to produce literature, philosophy and a reciprocal relationship between them. Naddaff's approach identifies two distinct censorships in the Republic . With his first censorship, in books 2 and 3, Plato constitutes poetry as literature that matters and the poet as a legitimate (though ultimately vanquished) rival of the philosopher. In book 10's second censorship, Plato exiles the poets as a mode of self-subversion, thereby rethinking and revising his theories of mimesis, the soul and, most important, his first censorship of poetry. Finally, with the poetic myth of Er, Plato censors his own censorships of poetry, thus producing the unexpected result of a poetically animated and open-ended dialectical philosophy. Exiling the Poets should interest not just classicists, philosophers and historians of rhetoric but anyone concerned with the historical contexts of censorship.