By Dr Alexander Beecroft

During this booklet, Alexander Beecroft explores how the earliest poetry in Greece (Homeric epic and lyric) and China (the Canon of Songs) developed from being neighborhood, oral, and nameless to being textualized, interpreted, and circulated over more and more wider parts. Beecroft re-examines representations of authorship as present in poetic biographies equivalent to Lives of Homer and the Zuozhuan, and within the works of alternative philosophical and historic authors like Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Confucius, and Sima Qian. a lot of those anecdotes and narratives have lengthy been rejected as spurious or influenced through naïve biographical feedback. Beecroft argues that those texts successfully negotiated the tensions among neighborhood and pan-cultural audiences. The determine of the writer hence served as a catalyst to a feeling of shared cultural identification in either the Greek and chinese language worlds. It additionally facilitated the emergence of either cultures because the bases for cosmopolitan global orders.

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Where Plato seems to think largely in terms of the threat that poetry poses to the state, the Mao Preface is more interested in poetry’s 11 12 oÉc Þv oÉ poihtik‡ kaª ¡d”a to±v pollo±v ˆkoÅein, ˆll' Âs poihtikÛtera, tosoÅt ¨tton ˆkoust”on paisª kaª ˆndr†sin oÍv de± –leuq”rouv e²nai, doule©an qan†tou m llon pejobhm”nouv. I return to the concept of muthos (myth) in Plato in Chapter 4. Explicit Poetics in Greece and China 35 capacity to be constitutive of the state. The indexical dimension of the Mao understanding of poetry actually allows a broader role for all kinds of poetry, “good” and “bad,” in that the “bad” at least alerts the state to its failings.

When the sound attains form we call it music. The music of ordered times is peaceful and happy and governance is harmonious. In disordered times the music is angry and resentful and governance is perverse. The music of a failed state is mournful and pensive and its people are in difficulty. Accordingly, when ordering profit and loss, moving heaven and earth, enticing ghosts and spirits, nothing approaches poetry. By this means former kings regulated husband and wife, attained filiality and respect, made human relations benevolent, beautified educational transformation, and altered customs.

Clearly, then, Aristotle does think that music has a political dimension and a role in regulating public well-being; his interest in class distinctions (and his indifference to the possibility of improving the lower classes through education) suggests limits to the role that music can play for him. Aristotle is here in part responding to Plato’s notorious views on the role of music in society. Like Aristotle, Plato sees the social role of poetry as iconic rather than indexical, mirroring in its form and content the beliefs and attitudes that citizens should themselves possess.

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