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This article argues against readings that tend to overlook, dismiss or reduce the profound role of poetry and myth in Plato’s Republic. It discusses and rejects the distinction between myth and poetry that we find in such readings. Then it makes the case for the irreducibility of poetry. Crucially, poetry determines both the state and the frame of mind of the dialogue’s interlocutors, and we can expect it to do the same for the Kallipoleans. The attraction of the irrational part of the soul to imitative poetry entails that imitation is both beneficial and pleasant. In the last section of the article it is argued that myths, understood as false stories, play a significant role in early education. This education constitutes a critical juncture and sets up a path dependency in the lives it affects. Myths shape one’s motivational dispositions, preserve true opinions, and facilitate communicative understanding.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought