To send 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 sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
This paper examines three different receptions of Plato’s Charmides – Oscar Wilde’s Charmides, Cavafy’s In a Town of Osroene, and Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades. It focuses on their responses to the erotic and philosophical element in the Charmides. Wilde provides an example of minimal textual engagement: the name Charmides is invoked solely for its connotations of young, male beauty. In Cavafy explicit allusion to ‘the Platonic Charmides’ recasts the poem an expression of homoerotic desire, and endows its group of young men with the prestige of a Platonic gathering and Platonic love. In contrast, Plutarch’s engagement with the Charmides is implicit, and depends entirely on the reader’s ability to recognise a series of detailed verbal echoes. Plutarch denies that Socrates’ motivation was sexual, and integrates allusion to the Charmides into a broader network of allusions to other passages in which Plato describes Socrates’ encounters with beautiful young men, or the ideal relationship of a mature man with a younger beloved, in which the sexual element is entirely absent. In so doing, Plutarch “corrects” Plato with Plato, and removes what had become an embarrassment in his period.
From Kant's "aesthetic ideas" to Ruskin's seven "lamps" of architecture, the Vitruvian conception of aesthetic appeal was expanded to include a range of intellectual and emotional content. Gottfried Semper shifted the discussion to the fundamental components of architecture – hearth, mound, roof, and walls – but what is done with these elements remains subject to the general goals of good construction, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.
What should our buildings look like? Or is their usability more important than their appearance? Paul Guyer argues that the fundamental goals of architecture first identified by the Roman architect Marcus Pollio Vitruvius - good construction, functionality, and aesthetic appeal - have remained valid despite constant changes in human activities, building materials and technologies, as well as in artistic styles and cultures. Guyer discusses philosophers and architects throughout history, including Alberti, Kant, Ruskin, Wright, and Loos, and surveys the ways in which their ideas are brought to life in buildings across the world. He also considers the works and words of contemporary architects including Annabelle Selldorf, Herzog and de Meuron, and Steven Holl, and shows that - despite changing times and fashions - good architecture continues to be something worth striving for. This new series offers short and personal perspectives by expert thinkers on topics that we all encounter in our everyday lives.
The study of poetry is a study of technique – metaphor, simile, sound, syntax, and so on. Chapter 11 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho illuminates the technical features of Sappho’s poetry, to help us understand why she was so famous an example of lyric expression in the ancient world.
A significant strand of the ethical psychology, aesthetics and politics of Plato's Republic revolves around the concept of poikilia, ‘fascinating variety’. Plato uses the concept to caution against harmful appetitive pleasures purveyed by democracy and such artistic or cultural practices as mimetic poetry. His aim, this article shows, is to contest a prominent conceptual connection between poikilia and beauty (kallos, to kalon). Exploiting tensions in the archaic and classical Greek concept, Plato associates poikilia with dangerous pleasures to redirect admiration toward a distinctly philosophical pursuit of the nature of beauty. This is to displace a prominent and problematic cultural sensibility—the aesthetics of poikilia—not to deny that fascinating variety, even in mimetic poetry, may be beautiful. Rather, Plato's cultural critique lays bare an epistemological problem in the ethical psychology of beauty: since they cannot be distinguished from what seems beautiful, how should one respond to fascinating yet dangerous attractions?
In this volume, Rebekah Compton offers the first survey of Venus in the art, culture, and governance of Florence from 1300 to 1600. Organized chronologically, each of the six chapters investigates one of the goddess's alluring attributes – her golden splendor, rosy-hued complexion, enchanting fashions, green gardens, erotic anatomy, and gifts from the sea. By examining these attributes in the context of the visual arts, Compton uncovers an array of materials and techniques employed by artists, patrons, rulers, and lovers to manifest Venusian virtues. Her book explores technical art history in the context of love's protean iconography, showing how different discourses and disciplines can interact in the creation and reception of art. Venus and the Arts of Love in Renaissance Florence offers new insights on sight, seduction, and desire, as well as concepts of gender, sexuality, and viewership from both male and female perspectives in the early modern era.
In the early treatise Ennead V.9, Plotinus discusses whether the arts are there in the intelligible realm, and concludes that they are at least partly. The chapter’s first part discusses a number of questions that arise. What is exactly the principle of division for which arts or which parts of an art are in the intelligible realm? What is the status of the arts in the intelligible world? Are there Platonic Forms of the arts? In a later treatise, V.8., Plotinus argues that rather than imitating sensible objects, some artists concerned with producing beautiful sensible objects imitate the intelligible paradigm of beauty. Emilsson discusses this claim, which seems a clear deviation from the account of mimetic art in Plato’s Republic. In the latter half of the chapter, Emilsson addresses Plotinus’ demythologisation of Plato’s Timaeus. Plotinus replaces the Demiurge of the Timaeus with the universal intellect and the World-Soul, which do not deliberate. However, Plotinus does not reject entirely any craftsman model, for he appeals to performance arts, which do not involve deliberation, in explaining how natural processes flow from higher principles. Emilsson then discusses what sort of conception of the arts lies behind this view.
Is beauty simply subjective, or does it have an “objective” foundation and referent? Is art simply self-referential, or can it be a mediation of ontological values? Modern art and aesthetics offer contradictory replies to these questions; but the Platonic tradition of metaphysical realism offers an integration of the arts with intelligibility and value that would otherwise be lacking.
Chapter 5 of De mundo is markedly different from the preceding chapters examining technical details of astronomy, geography and meteorology. Chapter 5 takes an overall survey, presenting a view of the whole cosmos as a unified, well-ordered, magnificent and eternal whole – a true kosmos. Chapter 5 can be divided into three parts: the first introduces the Heraclitean principle of the harmony of opposites (396a33–b22), the second shows how this principle applies to the cosmos (396b23–397a5), and the third argues that the cosmos, built on this principle, is majestic and indestructible (397a5–b8). The detailed analysis of each part is accompanied with an attempt to position this text against the views of other Hellenistic philosophical schools, of the Epicureans and the Stoics as well as the Platonists. Having set forth the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity of the cosmos, it was important for the author of De mundo to show that this does not undermine the beauty and teleological order of the world nor does it remove the need for God, thus setting the stage for Chapter 6.
British Decadence was, in large part, inspired by the poetry and prose of France. The cross-Channel traffic in advanced literature saw extremes of Francophobia and Francophilia in the British press, with writers such as Émile Zola having translations of their work censored and attacked in the House of Commons while receiving rapturous receptions when lecturing in London. A central figure in this traffic of Decadent literature was the poet Paul Verlaine, whose dissolute life scandalized the British public. As this chapter demonstrates, British writers took from their French counterparts both formal innovation and an antagonistic approach to moral orthodoxies. Verlaine’s queer sexuality and relentlessly self-scrutinizing approach to poetry came to symbolize for a generation of young English writers an intoxicating possibility of a poetic revolution against cultural hegemony. Verlaine’s lecture tour of England in late 1893 represents the highpoint of the British obsession with French décadence before the Wilde trials saw progressive literature retreat into the margins.
Roman elegy makes frequent use of themes of ugliness and disfigurement, juxtaposing them with images of ideal beauty and sentiment. In order to overcome the obstacles to his erotic relationship, the poet–lover repeatedly represents his rivals and opponents in such a way as to ridicule their appearance and to degrade their social standing. My purpose in this study is to explore the theme of corporeal, intellectual, and social degradation from a perspective attentive to the aesthetic significance of the grotesque imagery with which such degradation is accomplished. I undertake to show that the grotesque plays a significant role in the self-definition of the genre in which it is least expected. Grotesque and idealizing imagery constitute the polarities of a dialectic that lies at the core of elegy. Classical scholars have long been interested in the use of grotesque imagery in such genres as comedy, invective, and satire. There is a sophisticated discussion of the grotesque in these areas of classical literature, which are concerned in part with themes of transgression and excess. Grotesque imagery occurs frequently also in elegy, a genre that foregrounds love and beauty.
In the late 1710s and early 1720s, Swift produced three fairly neglected but potent short poems that break open the typical depiction of romance in verse. ‘Phillis, or, The Progress of Love’ tells the tale of an artful prude who elopes with an unpromising hero. ‘The Progress of Beauty’ presents Celia as a syphilitic nymph rotting to pieces before the narrator can finish her story. ‘The Progress of Marriage’ revels in the misfortunes of a foolish old cleric and his vain wife. If anyone could lay claim to the dubious honour of being Swift’s own muse it was Esther Johnson (“Stella”). Swift wrote her an annual poem for nearly a decade until she died. What sort of love poetry could Swift write? Pretty panegyrics for a younger woman he admired? Profound verse essays on life and love and ageing? Metapoems for a trainee poet? Some important friendships made for difficult poetry. The most noteworthy case in point is doubtless Esther Vanhomrigh, another former tutee, whom Swift immortalized in his longest ever poem. 'Cadenus and Vanessa', like the Stella series, is a remarkable non-love poem that conveys a deeper attachment to the subject than a straightforward parody would imply.
In this chapter the author considers Aesthetic Theodicy, according to which selected forms of cosmic beauty are valuable enough to justify natural evils suffered by animals. He begins by defending the use of aesthetic values in theodicy on the ground that aesthetic goods often have moral value. He then examines the classical versions of Aesthetic Theodicy, in which one appeals to cosmic harmony, balance, and overall fittingness of all parts into a beautiful and morally valuable whole. This approach fails to account well enough for the extreme disharmony, imbalance, and dysteleology in the Darwinian World, as unveiled by science. Next, he examines post-classical versions, in which one appeals to “major beauty” (so Whitehead) created by cosmic conflict and disintegrative elements of nature. He examines the specific appeal to the tragic moral beauty of evolution, particularly in predation. He argues that these approaches identify morally valuable forms of beauty, but they do not contain scenarios in which God defeats tragic evils for the victims. Nor can the appeal to tragedy account for the existence of Darwinian horrors. He concludes that perhaps sacred canonical sources can help.
Some of the most outward signs of ageing are mediated through the skin. This chapter concentrates on how skin care products chimed with understandings of what could be achieved by way of rejuvenation. Using a diverse range of sources, including advertising material which appeared in household magazines and newspapers, the company records of Boots, market research surveys, and ephemera relating to the products themselves, this chapter triangulates the myriad claims about what skin care products could achieve against prevailing social concerns with ageing, knowledge about the skin and conceptions of beauty. The principal argument is that through the twentieth century youthful skin became deeply entwined with a particular form of beauty: the two became inseparable and skincare preparations appealed to those who sought to increase both their attractiveness and youthfulness.
In this major new study, James F. Stark provides the first historical account of the most dominant ideas, practices, and material cultures associated with anti-ageing and rejuvenation in modern Britain. With a focus on the interwar period, his study uncovers the role of the commercial world in influencing attitudes towards ageing and youth. Stark argues that the technologies of anti-ageing, their commercialisation and their consumption made rejuvenation a possible and desirable aim in a period of socio-political instability, mechanised conflict and extending lifespans. Ultimately, Stark offers an innovative historical account, which draws together bodies, gender, science, medicine, advertising, and ageing, and shows how the quest for youth was transformed by social anxieties about an ageing population and economic crisis.
Cormac McCarthy’s aesthetic choices make him as anachronistic and difficult to place as are many of his characters. While he shares some of the thematic preoccupations of modernism and postmodernism, he lacks most of the aesthetic markers of those movements. Given his varied style, it might be more promising to think of his work as hovering aesthetically between the naturalistic and the phantasmagoric in the manner of Hawthorne’s and Melville’s romance tradition. His aesthetic borrowings from the medium of film similarly seem to place his work in a grey area between objectivity and subjectivity. While McCarthy’s own consistent associations of aesthetic value with pain and loss contrast sharply with the disinterested conception of beauty propounded by Kant, his work seems much more attuned to Kant’s other source of aesthetic value, the sublime. But McCarthy’s version of the sublime is thoroughly naturalized and historicized, embracing human fragility and contingency. This aspect of McCarthy’s aesthetic, linked as it is to the cultural attitudes born of the nineteenth-century encounter between late Romanticism and naturalism, might help account for many readers’ sense that McCarthy’s work belongs to another time.
The book of Proverbs concludes with an alphabetic acrostic that describes and praises its feminine subject (Prov 31:10–31). The poem’s praise closes with a generalized critique of beauty, its deceptiveness and short-lived nature (v. 30). What function does this critique of beauty serve in light of the praise of the woman and her deeds? How do the poem and, specifically, this critique of beauty function in the broader organization of the book of Proverbs? This study argues that the poem rejects innate beauty in favor of acquired wisdom, a message that can be found elsewhere in Proverbs. The poem rejects beauty through an appeal to a rhetorical device—the “totalizing description”—which is used elsewhere to argue for a subject’s beauty or perfection. Through the structure of the alphabetic acrostic, the poem carefully embeds its message of willed action and acquired wisdom; using a description of the woman’s successive deeds, the poem shows how each deed leads to the enduring success of the woman’s family, her community, and the subsequent generation.
In this work of historical theology, Rachel Davies considers the relationship between aesthetics and anthropology in Bonaventure's thought, and shows how bodily diminishment can become a sign and source of the self's renewal. Drawing from texts like the Collations on the Six Days, and the Major Life of Francis, Davies reconfigures traditional accounts of the fallen body's rebellion against the soul and emphasizes instead the soul's original abandonment of the body. Her interpretation draws attention to the crucial but undervalued role that Bonaventure assigns to the body in the self's coming-to-be, and shows how contemplation involves the soul's tender recovery of the body it once rejected. Though contemplation makes body-soul integrity possible again, Davies argues that the body never fully recovers from its primordial alienation. Instead, Bonaventure suggests that individuals can experience brokenness and healing at the same time, and that suffering bodies can become paschal spaces, graced and open to beatific wholeness.
In Book 2 of Cicero’s On the nature of the gods, Balbus argues for a Stoic theology and view of religion, and in Book 3 Cotta, an Academic skeptic, argues against him. I argue that both characters are supporters of traditional Roman pagan religion. In contrast to the Epicurean Velleius in Book 1, Balbus argues that the gods do care for us, in fact that the cosmic god fates every detail of our lives. He describes a world whose beauty is a principle reason to think that this rational creator has planned it for us, and further argues that this creator is good. He offers a complex rereading of Roman religion and poetic myth, according to which Roman religious practices were begun in ways that Stoic theology can support, and that it can still support once later distortions of this theology have been cleared away. Cotta, a pontifex, says that his skepticism is consistent with his priestly office, on grounds reminiscent of modern fideism. But he argues that Balbus’ dogmatic Stoic theology would destabilize the beliefs of those practising Roman religion, because Balbus cannot rigorously relate the many Roman gods to the one Stoic cosmic god.
Being a radical Academic skeptic, Cicero as author does not endorse an answer to the questions of On the nature of the gods and On divination. But when he portrays himself as a character in the dialogues, he portrays himself as finding plausible on those occasions a consistent philosophical theology and view of religion. I suggest that this is meant to model the free reaction of a skeptical mind to debates on questions where the skeptic forms no beliefs. The view that Cicero portrays as plausible to "himself" is the Stoic theology that the natural world is divine and benevolent, except that he finds implausible the Stoic view that divination delivers information from the gods (although he says that divinatory practices at Rome should continue for other reasons). Taking this attitude would be one way to "moderate" Roman religion, that is, to avoid impiety and superstition in practising it, but the reader is left free to make up his or her own mind.