Saturday, January 23, 2010

How Plato's Ion is a Precursor to PB Shelley's Poetic Philosophy

A Reading of Homer's Iliad, Much Like A Performance from Ion of Ephesus

In Plato's Ion, Plato enters an intellectual discussion with Ion of Ephesus which clarifies the source of this rhapsode's incredible, specialized skill. Briefly, Plato (with occasional interjections from Ion) expounds upon his theory of inspiration. In Plato's philosophic mind, a rhapsode, such as Ion, cannot only be knowledgeable on one poet's writings; that is, unless, the rhapsode is divinely inspired. As Plato explains to the baffled Ion, it is only because of "...divine dipensation that makes you such a formidable praiser of Homer" (Plato 8). In addition, Plato compares this "divine dipensation" compares to a magnetic rock which attracts metal rings. The orginal poet (in this case Homer) as the magnetic source, and the rhapsode (Ion) is the second ring, the audience to this rhapsode the third (7). Over two millennia later, an influential poet by the name of Percy Byron Shelley would raise Plato's Ionic argument to a new level.

Image of Mont Blanc; The Representation of the PB Shelley's Supernatural Power/Imagination

Present in a numerous amount of his writings, the source for PB Shellian poetic inspiration comes from a higher source, much like Platonic supernatural muses. This firm belief/theory is clear through the entirety of "Hymn to an Intellectual Beauty". Unlike other Romantic poets, PB Shelley believed in the supernatural influence on humans, especially in the form of poetry. Though Plato's Ion of Ephesus did not compose his own poetry through some greater power, he received this same supernatural charge by reciting Homer's poetry. This power of inspiration is mirrored by PB Shelley's statement in "Mont Blanc" that poets occasionally will receive a "feeble brook" from the "everlasting universe of things" (much like Plato's supernatural gift).

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