If Politicians Ever Agreed, They Might Actually Do Some Harm (Plutarch, Moralia)

Plutarch, Quomodo adulescens poetas audire debeat 20 C

“Philosophers, at least, when they want to correct behavior and teach, use examples from real events. But poets do the same thing by making up facts and telling myths! Melanthios, thus, either joking or in earnest, used to say that the city of Athens was saved by the strife and disruption of its politicians, since they would not all gather on one side of the ship. In this way, thanks to the disagreement of the politicians, there was always a counterweight to actual harm. Similarly, the contradictions of the poets do not allow a forceful tipping into harm by bringing restoring our credulity to balance.”

οἱ γοῦν φιλόσοφοι παραδείγμασι χρῶνται, νουθετοῦντες καὶ παιδεύοντες ἐξ ὑποκειμένων· οἱ δὲ ποιηταὶ ταὐτὰ ποιοῦσι πλάττοντες αὐτοὶ πράγματα καὶ μυθολογοῦντες. ὁ μὲν οὖν Μελάνθιος εἴτε παίζων εἴτε σπουδάζων ἔλεγε διασῴζεσθαι τὴν ᾿Αθηναίων πόλιν ὑπὸ τῆς τῶν ῥητόρων διχοστασίας καὶ ταραχῆς· οὐ γὰρ ἀποκλίνειν ἅπαντας εἰς τὸν αὐτὸν τοῖχον, ἀλλὰ γίγνεσθαί τινα τοῦ  βλάπτοντος ἀνθολκὴν ἐν τῇ διαφορᾷ τῶν πολιτευομένων. αἱ δὲ τῶν ποιητῶν ὑπεναντιώσεις πρὸς αὑτοὺς ἀνταναφέρουσαι τὴν πίστιν οὐκ ἐῶσιν ἰσχυρὰν ῥοπὴν γενέσθαι πρὸς τὸ βλάπτον.

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