An Epicurean Survey of Poetic Theories (Philodemus On Poems 5, Cols. 26–36)

Classical Quarterly 42 (02):395- (1992)
If one wants to know what happened in Hellenistic poetic theory, Philodemus' survey of poetic theories in the fifth book of his On Poems is an excellent guide. Even though I the survey is well preserved, it has been neglected. Jensen, who published the first complete edition of On Poems 5 in 1923, did not discuss this part of the text; and it has been treated only briefly by others. This is a pity because, as Philodemus shows, the Hellenistic period was an era of great diversity and innovation in literary theory. Philodemus gives evidence of: a refined and highly systematic critical vocabulary; a new concern with verbal form; a new notion of mimesis; and in general, a great proliferation of theories that present alternatives to those of Plato and Aristotle. Hellenistic literary theorists studied Plato and Aristotle critically; some revised or elaborated their views, whereas others opposed them. Ancient poetic theory did not come to a standstill with Aristotle any more than philosophy did
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800016025
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