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Chapter 1 - Xenophanes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2021

Tom Mackenzie
Affiliation:
University College London
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Summary

This chapter takes a holistic approach to Xenophanes’ fragments, investigating the responses and interpretations they invite by drawing upon their literary and performative contexts as well as the wider context of Xenophanes’ philosophy. The hexameter and elegiac fragments are analysed against their respective genres and, in particular, the different ways in which the two genres typically construct the authority of the narrator. Against the view that verse was inessential to Xenophanes’ message, it is argued that his metres and other formal features participate in particular generic traditions through which they convey a message in at least three respects. First, they imply certain claims, such as that the single god is worthy of hymnic veneration. Second, they contribute to emotive effects, for instance, in D61=B2, by conjuring a sense of injustice that athletic prowess is valued over wisdom. Third, they invite certain distinctive types of interpretation. Additionally, this chapter discusses the well-known criticisms of Homer and Hesiod, arguing that they are targeted primarily against the pernicious societal influence of the canonical poems rather than their factual inaccuracy.

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Poetry and Poetics in the Presocratic Philosophers
Reading Xenophanes, Parmenides and Empedocles as Literature
, pp. 24 - 64
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Xenophanes
  • Tom Mackenzie, University College London
  • Book: Poetry and Poetics in the Presocratic Philosophers
  • Online publication: 05 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108921084.002
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  • Xenophanes
  • Tom Mackenzie, University College London
  • Book: Poetry and Poetics in the Presocratic Philosophers
  • Online publication: 05 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108921084.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Xenophanes
  • Tom Mackenzie, University College London
  • Book: Poetry and Poetics in the Presocratic Philosophers
  • Online publication: 05 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108921084.002
Available formats
×