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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The poets in the classical world carried wide authority on questions about the gods, the nature of the world, and the human place in it, and this provoked ancient readers to detailed and subtle reflections on how such profound wisdom might be conveyed through the medium of poetry. This chapter presents an overview of literary criticism in the Greek and Roman world. It sets Plato and Aristotle at the centre, working through core questions of imitation, morality, and epistemology. It gives outlines of the histories of allegorical commentary, which is mostly focused on questions of interpretation, and rhetorical criticism, more focused on the craft by which such meanings might be communicated; with some further consideration of the origins of textual criticism, and the importance of philosophical and rhetorical schools in producing these traditions. The chapter concludes with the creative and deeply influential ideas of the Neoplatonists.

Keywords: allegory, Plato, Aristotle, rhetoric, Neoplatonism, Cicero, Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, textual criticism

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