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Epilogue: The Legacy of Presocratic Poetics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2021

Tom Mackenzie
Affiliation:
University College London
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Summary

This section substantiates the claim that Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles played an instrumental role in the emergence of what may be termed the Classical conception of literature – that is, the view that a work of literature is a mortally crafted artefact that reflects a true state of affairs only symbolically or mimetically – by drawing attention to evidence for their influence on certain important developments in fifth- and fourth-century BCE poetics. These include (a) fifth-century practices of allegorical interpretation; (b) Gorgias’ statements that poetry is deceptive and is a kind of charm or drug; (c) Democritus’ physical explanations for poetic inspiration and composition; (d) Democritus and the sophists’ analytical approaches to language; and (e) the conceptions of mimesis presented by Plato.

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Poetry and Poetics in the Presocratic Philosophers
Reading Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles as Literature
, pp. 183 - 206
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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