Between Ecstasy and Truth: Interpretations of Greek Poetics from Homer to Longinus

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OUP Oxford, 2011 - History - 419 pages
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As well as producing one of the finest of all poetic traditions, ancient Greek culture produced a major tradition of poetic theory and criticism. Halliwell's volume offers a series of detailed and challenging interpretations of some of the defining authors and texts in the history of ancient Greek poetics: the Homeric epics, Aristophanes' Frogs, Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Poetics, Gorgias's Helen, Isocrates' treatises, Philodemus' On Poems, and Longinus On the Sublime. The volume's fundamental concern is with how the Greeks conceptualized the experience of poetry and debated the values of that experience. The book's organizing theme is a recurrent Greek dialectic between ideas of poetry as, on the one hand, a powerfully enthralling experience in its own right (a kind of 'ecstasy') and, on the other, a medium for the expression of truths which can exercise lasting influence on its audiences' views of the world. Citing a wide range of modern scholarship, and making frequent connections with later periods of literary theory and aesthetics, Halliwell questions many orthodoxies and received opinions about the texts analysed. The resulting perspective casts new light on ways in which the Greeks attempted to make sense of the psychology of poetic experience - including the roles of emotion, ethics, imagination, and knowledge - in the life of their culture.

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Questions of Poetic Value in Greek Culture
2 Is there a Poetics in Homer?
3 Aristophanes Frogs and the Failure of Criticism
4 To Banish or Not to Banish? Platos Unanswered Question about Poetry
5 Aristotle and the Experience of Tragic Emotion
Gorgias Isocrates Philodemus
Longinus and the Psychology of the Sublime
Index Locorum
Index of Greek Terms
General Index

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About the author (2011)

Stephen Halliwell is Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He taught previously at the universities of Oxford, London, Cambridge, and Birmingham, and has held visiting professorships in Belgium, Canada, Italy, and the USA. He has published extensively on Greek literature, philosophy, and culture, as well as on the influence of Greek texts in the later history of ideas. His last two books both won international prizes: Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity was awarded the Criticos Prize for 2008; The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems (2002) won the Premio Europeo d'Estetica in 2008, and has been translated into Italian.

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