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

Classical Quarterly 42 (02):395- (1992)
Abstract
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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