Aristotle as Poet: The Song for Hermias and Its Contexts

Aristotle as Poet: The Song for Hermias and Its Contexts

by Andrew L. Ford
     
 

Aristotle is known as a philosopher and as a theorist of poetry, but he was also a composer of songs and verse. This is the first comprehensive study of Aristotle's poetic activity, interpreting his remaining fragments in relation to the earlier poetic tradition and to the literary culture of his time. Its centerpiece is a study of the single complete ode to

Overview

Aristotle is known as a philosopher and as a theorist of poetry, but he was also a composer of songs and verse. This is the first comprehensive study of Aristotle's poetic activity, interpreting his remaining fragments in relation to the earlier poetic tradition and to the literary culture of his time. Its centerpiece is a study of the single complete ode to survive, a song commemorating Hermias of Atarneus, Aristotle's father-in-law and patron in the 340's BCE. This remarkable text is said to have embroiled the philosopher in charges of impiety and so is studied both from a literary perspective and in its political and religious contexts.

Aristotle's literary antecedents are studied with an unprecedented fullness that considers the entire range of Greek poetic forms, including poems by Sappho, Pindar, and Sophocles, and prose texts as well. Apart from its interest as a complex and subtle poem, the Song for Hermias is noteworthy as one of the first Greek lyrics for which we have substantial and early evidence for how and where it was composed, performed, and received. It thus affords an opportunity to reconstruct how Greek lyric texts functioned as performance pieces and how they circulated and were preserved. The book argues that Greek lyric poems profit from being read as scripts for performances that both shaped and were shaped by the social occasions in which they were performed. The result is a thorough and wide-ranging study of a complex and fascinating literary document that gives a fuller view of literature in the late classical age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Andrew Ford shows us...that Aristotle's two complete surviving poems...are well-worth knowing. Indeed, as Ford brilliantly demonstrates, they offer a unique window onto poetic production and reception in the classical era.... In Ford's able hands, these become paradigmatic texts, through which he provides us with an object lesson in how to read a Greek poem." —CJ-Online, a service of The Classical Journal

"Andrew Ford has the uncanny ability to be at once a highly original scholar-critic and also a continuator of a great philological tradition. Aristotle as Poet has changed my own thinking about that philosopher. But then Ford altered permanently my vision of Homer and my sense of ancient Greek literary theory and criticism." —Harold Bloom, Yale University

"The treatment is subtle, elegant, and cumulatively enriching to our understanding of the text. It furnishes an admirable methodological model." —Greece and Rome

"What a pleasure this book was!...I can't emphasize this enough: this book will provide Aristotelians with the information they will need to interpret and understand the poem." —Phronesis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199733293
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/25/2011
Series:
Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics Series
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Andrew L. Ford is Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature, Princeton University.

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