Ancient Philosophical Poetics (Key Themes in Ancient by Malcolm Heath

By Malcolm Heath

What's poetry? Why do people produce and devour it? What results does it have on them? Can it supply them perception into fact, or is it dangerously deceptive? This publication is a wide-ranging learn of the very assorted solutions which old philosophers gave to such questions. a longer dialogue of Plato's Republic exhibits how the 2 discussions of poetry are built-in with one another and with the dialogue's vital issues. Aristotle's Poetics is learn within the context of his figuring out of poetry as a typical human behaviour and an intrinsically helpful element of a very good human existence. chapters hint the advance of the later Platonist culture from Plutarch to Plotinus, Longinus and Porphyry, exploring its highbrow money owed to Epicurean, allegorical and Stoic techniques to poetry. it will likely be crucial analyzing for classicists in addition to old philosophers and glossy philosophers of paintings and aesthetics.

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If the report is interspersed with passages of direct speech, in which the poet impersonates a character in the sense that he makes his own words resemble the character’s words, the poet is using both simple narrative and narrative through imitation (mimēsis). The opening of the Iliad illustrates the point. Homer uses simple narrative to report Chryses’ arrival at the Greek camp, but switches to narrative through imitation when he gives us Chryses’ speech. By changing direct to indirect speech Socrates recasts the passage as simple narrative.

But that is consistent with their imitating people who are like themselves, or (if they are young) like what they should become. This answer to Question 2 yields a partial answer to Question 1: poets may be allowed to imitate, within the limits set by the ban on indiscriminate ‘imitativeness’. The next step is to define these limits. Socrates now introduces a distinction between two kinds of narrative (396b–c). The first is the way a good man will tell a story (396c–e). A good man will See especially Belfiore 1984.

They are concerned with reality. They are ‘sightseers of the truth’ (475e). The distinction Socrates has made between the many things that happen to be (more or less) beautiful and beauty itself is an expression of what is conventionally known as Plato’s ‘Theory of Forms’. The Form of Beauty is what beauty really is, beauty itself. The idea is eloquently expressed in the Symposium (210e–211b): First of all, it is for ever. It neither comes into being nor passes away, neither waxes nor wanes. Then it is not beautiful in one way and ugly in another; nor beautiful at one time and ugly at another; nor beautiful in relation to one thing and ugly in relation to another; nor beautiful here and ugly there, as being beautiful to some people and ugly to others.

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