Greek and Roman Aesthetics (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
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This anthology of philosophical texts by Greek and Roman authors brings together works from the late fifth century BC to the sixth century AD that comment on major aesthetic issues such as the perception of beauty and harmony in music and the visual arts, structure and style in literature, and aesthetic judgement. It includes important texts by Plato and Aristotle on the status and the role of the arts in society and in education, and Longinus' reflections on the sublime in literature, in addition to less well-known writings by Philodemus, Cicero, Seneca, Plotinus, Augustine and Proclus. Most of the texts have been newly translated for this volume, and some are available in English for the first time. A detailed introduction traces the development of classical aesthetics from its roots in Platonism and Aristotelianism to its ultimate form in late Antiquity.
about. Then we shall have completely covered both what should be told and how it should be told.’ ‘I don’t understand,’ said Adeimantus at this point. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘It’s important that you do understand, though,’ I said. ‘Here’s a way of looking at it which may give you a better idea. Aren’t all stories told by storytellers and poets really a narrative – of what has happened in the past, of what is happening now, or of what is going to happen in the future?’ ‘Well, obviously.’ ‘Don’t they
he said. ‘What about manner of speaking,’ I asked, ‘and what is actually said? Don’t they follow from the nature of the speaker’s soul?’ ‘Of course.’ ‘And the other things follow from manner of speaking?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘In that case, all these things – the right way of speaking, the right attunement, grace and rhythm – follow from a good nature. I don’t mean the good nature which is the polite name we give to stupidity28 but the Damon was a fifth-century musical theorist, associated by Plato with the
to laughter, doesn’t it? If there are jokes you wouldn’t dream of making yourself, but which you very much enjoy when you hear them in the comic theatre, or even in private company – if you don’t regard them as the wrong sort of jokes, or hate them, isn’t what you are doing the same as with the things you pity? That element in yourself which wanted to make jokes, but which you kept in check by means of reason because you were frightened of being thought a buffoon, you now release. You don’t
see it but abandoning themselves to pleasure and trying to behave like fourfooted beasts and beget children; in their insolence they feel neither fear nor shame at pursuing unnatural pleasure. But whenever the man who is newly initiated, and who saw many of the sights at that earlier time, sees a godlike face or a bodily shape that imitates Beauty closely, first of all he shudders and feels some of the fear of that earlier time; then he looks at it and reveres it as a god. If he were not afraid
critic of students of this subject will bear these points in mind, he will, I believe, come to realize that the examination of the question before us is by no means useless or superfluous … 6–10 6 At this stage, the question we must put to ourselves for discussion is how to avoid the faults which are so much tied up with sublimity. The answer, my friend, is: by first of all achieving a genuine understanding and appreciation of true sublimity. This is difficult; literary judgement comes only as