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We will not [says Socrates] then allow our charges, whom we expect to prove good men, being men, to play the parts of women and imitate a woman young or old wrangling with her husband, defying heaven, loudly boasting, fortunate in her own conceit, or involved in misfortune and possessed by grief and lamentation – still less a woman that is sick, in love, or in labor . . . Nor may they imitate slaves, female and male, doing the offices of slaves . . . Nor yet, as it seems, bad men who are cowards and who do the opposite of the things we just now spoke of [things done by men who are “brave, sober, pious, free”], reviling and lampooning one another, speaking foul words in their cups or when sober and in other ways sinning against themselves and others in word and deed after the fashion of such men. And I take it they must not form the habit of likening themselves to madmen either in words nor yet in deeds. For while knowledge they must have both of mad and bad men and women, they must do and imitate nothing of this kind . . . Are they to imitate smiths and other craftsmen or the rowers of triremes and those who call the time to them or other things connected therewith?

The phrase "call the time to..." is new for me and really I haven't got any idea about its meaning.

This passage is from a book named: on literature.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Nathan Tuggy, Davo, user3169, Hellion Jan 7 at 16:21

  • This question does not appear to be about learning the English language within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • The text should be parased as [smiths and other craftsmen] or [the rowers of triremes and those who call the time to them] or [other things connected therewith]; the meaning is only clear if you know what a trireme is and how rowing works, of course. – choster Jan 3 at 16:57
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because decoding stylised syntax, antiquated vocabulary, and obscure cultural references like this really has very little to do with "learning English". Particularly when the "source" is an old academic translation from ancient Greek. – FumbleFingers Jan 3 at 18:20
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This refers to a coxswain, who tells rowers when to row.


As a side note, passages that were not written in modern times can be difficult even for native speakers and are not generally a good way to learn English. Even the works of Shakespeare, which are written in Early Modern English, often come with translations to Modern English.

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