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The Function of Criticism Ca. 432 BC: Texts and Interpretations in Plato's 'Protagoras'


Andrew Ford


affiliation not provided to SSRN

2005

Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 120501

Abstract:     
Plato's Protagoras is a unique text in the history of criticism, the only extended example of practical poetic criticism that we have from classical Greece. This long passage (338E-347C) shows a group of fifth-century intellectual luminaries debating the meaning of a dense lyric poem by Simonides: the text is quoted at length and its language examined closely and methodically - and wildly. My paper first attempts to pinpoint how this passage - often written off as a parody or a joke or misunderstood as a simplistic polemic against "sophistry" - fits into the work. I argue that Plato is more serious here than is usually supposed, and that the passage gives his best account of uses and limits of literary criticism. In a coda, I consider an analysis of the passage by Glenn Most, which suggests some reflections on recent developments in academic literary criticism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

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Date posted: July 1, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Ford, Andrew, The Function of Criticism Ca. 432 BC: Texts and Interpretations in Plato's 'Protagoras' (2005). Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 120501. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1426838 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1426838

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