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Philosophy in Verse: Competition and Early Greek Philosophical Thought

BENZI, NICOLO (2016) Philosophy in Verse: Competition and Early Greek Philosophical Thought. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is a study of Archaic and Early Classical philosophical poetry within the competitive context which characterized the poetic production of that period. In particular, I evaluate the ideas and arguments of Xenophanes, Parmenides, Epicharmus and Empedocles in the context of the social and cultural aspects of Archaic poetic performance in order to evaluate their response to traditional agonism. As I argue, these figures entered the poetic contest not only to defeat their poetic adversaries, but also to transform and redefine the terms of the competition itself.
Chapter 1 is devoted to the analysis of three institutionalized forms of poetic agonism: sympotic games, rhapsodic contests, and dramatic performances. In chapter 2, I evaluate the socio-political import of Xenophanes' poetry and argue that his conception of the greatest god serves to substantiate his moral prescriptions aimed at eliminating civic conflict. In chapter 3, I examine Parmenides' original notion of alētheia as logical deduction, whereby he provides a solution to the problem of the truth-status of poetry stemming from the Muses' ability to inspire both genuine and false accounts, as narrated in Hesiod's Theogony. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of Empedocles' polemic allusions to his poetic and philosophical predecessors. I argue that Empedocles' confidence in his poetic authority is ultimately grounded on his self-declared divine status, which grants him a unique and comprehensive poetic knowledge. In chapter 5, I evaluate Epicharmus' philosophical fragments against the background of early rhetoric and argue that, through the use of philosophically inspired arguments, Epicharmus aimed to make manifest philosophy's agonistic potential and to show how it could be exploited to one's own advantage.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Early Greek Philosophy-Philosophical poems-Xenophanes-Parmenides-Empedocles-Epicharmus-Competition-Archaic Greek Poetry
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 May 2016 16:07

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