CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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Mimesis and the Banishment of the Artists in Plato's Republic

Session 1 Words and Concepts

Peking University


In this paper, we will focus on the theory of mimesis and the banishment of the artists from Plato’s just state. We will examine the views of the Athenian philosopher firstly in the context of books 2 and 3 and then of book 10 of the Republic. The relevant differences, and the reasons for these differences, will be highlighted. 

We will note, therefore, that, while in the first case the characters are presented in poetic works through representation, in the latter, mimesis in art painting is the imitation of the imaginary, and as such it addresses the illogical element of the soul.

Finally, we will explain that Plato's attack on poetry, and the subsequent censorship, both of which are defined by pedagogical terms in books 2 and 3, represent a severe criticism of the ancient Greece’s cultural model. Plato denounces the ancient myths for promoting bad behavior models and, knowing the influence that poetry has on the soul, he has no option but to banish it.  

The analysis in book 10 not only broadens but also becomes more complex. Mimesis, as an imitation of imitation (with reference to the painter’s work) is denounced for its low ontological and epistemological value. Therefore, the theoretical knowledge of the philosopher’s truth is the answer to the culture of polis, founded in doxa (opinion) and the phenomenal world.


Associate Professor at Peking University, Department of History and Center for Hellenic Studies, and in charge of the Examination Centre for Greek Language at PKU.

She studied Law and Philosophy at the University of Turin (Italy) and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and got her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece).

Her research areas include Greek and Chinese Philosophy, Greek History and Culture and Chinese Culture and Society.

She has participated in conferences and international congresses in Asia, Europe, America, and Australia, and has contributed several papers to various Greek and international journals and editions and has been editor- in-chief of the Greek cultural review ENEKEN.