Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2021
The Introduction sets out the aims and methods of the book. It outlines how the literary-critical approach adopted differs from the predominately philosophical interests of existing scholarship on these texts. A key distinction is the focus on the emotional experiences of audiences rather than narrowly defined argumentative content. The treatment of Archaic verse as literature is defended against the charge of anachronism: some have argued that early Greek verse differs essentially from later literature in that it was valued primarily for its purported truthfulness, but the ‘truth’ of Archaic Greek poetry seems to go far beyond mere factual accuracy, encompassing symbolic and emotional truths that are also hallmarks of later conceptions of the literary. Furthermore, the modern perspectival theory of literary truth espoused by many theorists articulates a concept that is already implicit in the emphasis on the visual quality of verse found in Homer and ancient criticism. It will be argued that Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles use verse in conformity with a poetics of truth in this expanded sense. Finally, this chapter explains how the book will use the surviving fragments of these authors as a source for ideas about the nature and function of poetry.