By Malcolm Heath

ISBN-10: 0521168686

ISBN-13: 9780521168687

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 examine of the very different solutions which historical 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 relevant issues. Aristotle's Poetics is learn within the context of his figuring out of poetry as a ordinary human behaviour and an intrinsically useful component to a superb human lifestyles. chapters hint the advance of the later Platonist culture from Plutarch to Plotinus, Longinus and Porphyry, exploring its highbrow accounts to Epicurean, allegorical and Stoic methods to poetry. it will likely be crucial analyzing for classicists in addition to historical philosophers and glossy philosophers of artwork and aesthetics.

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Extra resources for Ancient Philosophical Poetics (Key Themes in Ancient Philosophy)

Example text

But they would be dazzled if they turned to face the fire; the light of the Sun would be even more dazzling. A long process of gradual adjustment to the light will be needed before they are able to see reality as well as they could see the shadows on the wall of the Cave. The Sun is, again, the Form of Good (cf. 532a–d; 533c–4a). The real things outside the Cave are the Forms: just as the Sun makes things outside the Cave visible (once the cave-dweller’s eyes have adjusted), so the Form of Good makes the other Forms intelligible (once we have undergone the long philosophical training needed to understand what goodness itself really is).

That is why education is crucial, and why it is necessary to regulate young people’s exposure to poetry. Poetry will shape their imaginations and form their opinions about what is right and wrong. Exposure to Homer would give them the impression that it is right to be insubordinate, to lack self-control, to mourn dead comrades extravagantly, to play many different roles that are unsuited to their function in society. Exposure to the purified poetry that Socrates recommended in books 2–3 will produce better results.

Socrates hinted earlier that something greater than tragedy and comedy might be at stake (394d). Now we know what he meant. Though Homer is not openly named in this passage (the truth will only be brought fully into the open when Socrates returns to the question of poetry in book 10), there is no doubt that he is the versatile man who is excluded from the city. This conclusion was not unprecedented. Heraclitus said bluntly: ‘Homer deserves to be thrown out of the contests and given a beating’ (B42).

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Ancient Philosophical Poetics (Key Themes in Ancient Philosophy) by Malcolm Heath

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