Myth and Philosophy from the Presocratics to Plato

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This book explores the complex relationship between myth and philosophy in writings by Greek intellectuals between the late-sixth and mid-fourth centuries BC. Although philosophy may seem far removed from mythological stories, closer examination reveals that Plato and others realized that philosophic accounts too were "stories" about reality. Kathryn Morgan shows how these philosophers used myth to express philosophic problems. Her book traces a tradition of strictly rational and philosophical myth through two centuries.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an important book that takes on the ambitious project of offering a new way to think about the myths incorporated into Greek philosophical writings." Phoenix

"Morgan's work is valuable for the study of both myth and philosophy, a work of which anyone with an interest in these discourses should take note." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521033282
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Theoretical issues 15
Textualisation and the rise of philosophy 24
From mythos to logos? 30
Some theoretical implications 37
3 Some Presocratics 46
The exclusionary gesture: Xenophanes, Herakleitos, and Empedokles 47
Allegory and rationalisation 62
Parmenides 67
4 The sophists and their contemporaries 89
Philology and exegesis 94
Mythological displays 105
5 The Protagoras: Platonic myth in the making 132
Protagoras' 'Great Speech' 134
Why mythos? Structure and assumptions 138
Sokrates and Prometheus 147
Conclusion: Sophistic versus Platonic myth 153
6 The range of Platonic myth 155
Problems of vocabulary, problems of selection 156
Categories of Platonic myth 161
Exhortation, play, and childishness 164
Myth and the limits of language 179
7 Plato: myth and the soul 185
The Gorgias 187
The Phaedo 192
The Republic 201
The Phaedrus 210
8 Plato: myth and theory 242
The philosophical life and its mythological battles 244
Mythos and theory 249
Construction and reception in the Timaeus and Critias 261
Conclusion: was the myth saved? 281
9 Conclusion 290
Bibliography 292
Index of passages cited 302
General index 309
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