Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Tindale, Christopher


Aesthetics, Plato, Poetics




Traditional approaches taken in analyzing Plato's aesthetics tend to privilege either the critical dialogues (especially the critiques present throughout Republic), or the dialogues which present poetry in a more positive light. Placing emphasis on one of these approaches leads to the exclusion, in varying degrees, of the opposing position. However, if poetry is reevaluated and given a tripartite structure a reconciliation of these positions can be arrived at. Tripartition is not uncommon in Plato's corpus, and by investigating Plato’s sense of poetry as though it possessed three components— a material component, an intellectual component, and a truthful component— a better understanding of Plato's broader aesthetics becomes possible. Each part of poetry roughly corresponds to, and affects a capacity of the soul, with the appetitive and material, spirited and intellectual, and reason-able and truthful creating pairs. Examining the relationship between poetry and the soul reveals subtle nuances in poetry, and allows for poetry to ascend higher than the critiques suggest. Along with the tripartition, there needs to be a greater focus on, and understanding of the ‘divine inspirer’ in Plato’s philosophical works. By elucidating the figure of the ‘divine inspirer’ the truth component of both poetry and philosophy can be drawn into a closer relationship. The historiographical nature of poetry, when traced to a divine source, can be viewed as possessing truth, which validates poetry. So, by deconstructing poetry into three distinct components, and recognizing the role of the divine inspirer in Plato’s conception, a constructive understanding of poetry that legitimizes both the critical and positive discussions of poetry presented in across the dialogues can be constructed.