Cover: Preface to Plato, from Harvard University PressCover: Preface to Plato in PAPERBACK

Preface to Plato

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$28.50 • £22.95 • €25.50

ISBN 9780674699069

Publication Date: 04/15/1982

Short

342 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Belknap Press

World

Plato’s frontal attack on poetry has always been a problem for sympathetic students, who have often minimized or avoided it. Beginning with the premise that the attack must be taken seriously, Eric Havelock shows that Plato’s hostility is explained by the continued domination of the poetic tradition in contemporary Greek thought.

The reason for the dominance of this tradition was technological. In a nonliterate culture, stored experience necessary to cultural stability had to be preserved as poetry in order to be memorized. Plato attacks poets, particularly Homer, as the sole source of Greek moral and technical instruction—Mr. Havelock shows how the Iliad acted as an oral encyclopedia. Under the label of mimesis, Plato condemns the poetic process of emotional identification and the necessity of presenting content as a series of specific images in a continued narrative.

The second part of the book discusses the Platonic Forms as an aspect of an increasingly rational culture. Literate Greece demanded, instead of poetic discourse, a vocabulary and a sentence structure both abstract and explicit in which experience could be described normatively and analytically: in short a language of ethics and science.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket: Our Universe: An Astronomer’s Guide, by Jo Dunkley, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with Jo Dunkley, author of Our Universe: An Astronomer’s Guide

Jo Dunkley combines her expertise as an astrophysicist with her talents as a teacher and writer in Our Universe: An Astronomer’s Guide, a lively and exceptionally clear introduction to the structure and history of the universe and its enduring mysteries. We spoke with her about the book and her seemingly limitless topic.

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.