By Malcolm Heath
What's poetry? Why do humans produce and devour it? What results does it have on them? Can it supply them perception into fact, or is it dangerously deceptive? This booklet is a wide-ranging learn of the very different solutions which old philosophers gave to such questions. a longer dialogue of Plato's Republic indicates how the 2 discussions of poetry are built-in with one another and with the dialogue's primary subject matters. Aristotle's Poetics is learn within the context of his figuring out of poetry as a ordinary human behaviour and an intrinsically important part of an exceptional human lifestyles. 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 ways to poetry. it is going to be crucial interpreting for classicists in addition to historical philosophers and smooth philosophers of artwork and aesthetics.
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Extra info for Ancient Philosophical Poetics (Key Themes in Ancient Philosophy)
The craftsman who makes a bridle must take account of the bridle’s function, which the horse-rider, who uses bridles, understands. Riders tell bridle-makers what they require; bridle-makers must then 19 In Plato’s day many claimed to have learned from Homer, but the question is whether they were right to think so. Socrates’ argument is that the priorities manifested in Homer’s life make it doubtful whether he was the kind of person who could be relied upon as an educator. Contrast Solon, whose achievements as a legislator are recognised at 599d–e (cf.
But that is precisely Socrates’ point. His worry is that the good man’s narrative will seem dull, because it lacks variety (397d–e). So there is a strong temptation to enliven it by mixing in a moderate amount of indiscriminate 24 Ancient Philosophical Poetics imitation. Socrates has good reason to check whether Adeimantus is willing to abide by the conclusions they have reached, or whether he will be tempted by the compromise. Adeimantus resists temptation, and Socrates brings this discussion of poetry to a close by saying farewell to the indiscriminate imitator (398a–b): So it seems that if a man who was clever enough to turn himself into every kind of person, and could imitate everything, should arrive in our city and want to give a display of his poems, we would treat him with reverence, as someone holy, wonderful and pleasing – but we would say that there is no one like that in our city, and it is not lawful for such a person to come among us; and we would send him off to another city, pouring myrrh on his head and crowning him with a garland of wool; but we ourselves would employ the more austere and less pleasing poet and story-teller, for our benefit – someone who would imitate the way a good man speaks, and keep what he says within the guidelines which we laid down originally, when we were trying to educate the soldiers.
It is customary to speak of Plato’s attack on poetry, but this convenient shorthand is misleading. 25 In the ancient world it was conventional to celebrate a god by giving an account of the god’s great deeds; so hymns often included narrative. It was also possible to celebrate a great man by narrating his deeds. When Socrates, contending that Homer and other poets did not understand the things they wrote about, says that it is better to be praised than to sing other people’s praises, the word he uses is ‘encomium’ (599b): it is better to be the subject than the singer of encomia.
Ancient Philosophical Poetics (Key Themes in Ancient Philosophy) by Malcolm Heath