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The dialogue Ion suggests that Homer's Iliad functioned in the ancient Greek world as the Bible does today in the modern Christian world: as divinely inspired literary art that can provide moral guidance, if only it can be properly interpreted.

During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science".

Works of art can tell stories or simply express an aesthetic truth or feeling.

Often, if the skill is being used in a common or practical way, people will consider it a craft instead of art.

Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way, it may be considered commercial art instead of fine art.

In modern usage after the 17th century, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, the fine arts are separated and distinguished from acquired skills in general, such as the decorative or applied arts.

Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), narrative (storytelling), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities.

Art has been defined as a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas, a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for their own sake, and as mimesis or representation.

Art as mimesis has deep roots in the philosophy of Aristotle.

He speaks approvingly of this, and other forms of divine madness (drunkenness, eroticism, and dreaming) in the Phaedrus (265a–c), and yet in the Republic wants to outlaw Homer's great poetic art, and laughter as well.

In Ion, Socrates gives no hint of the disapproval of Homer that he expresses in the Republic.

Works of art can be explicitly made for this purpose or interpreted on the basis of images or objects.