The Invention of Prose
Professor of Greek Literature and Culture and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics Simon Goldhill, Simon Goldhill
Cambridge University Press, May 16, 2002 - History - 130 pages
This is the first general study of the earliest writers of Greek prose for students and teachers alike. Looking at history, medicine, science, philosophy and rhetoric, it asks why and how these new genres of writing came about in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE It is thus a study of the cultural and political revolution known as the Greek enlightenment, which has proved so influential and important for modern Western thought and society. Questions discussed include how and why rhetoric played such a role in democracy, how history written in prose changes a view of the past, and how science and philosophy construct new models of understanding what authority is. An exploration is offered of how literary history and social and political history interact. Written in a lively and clear style, the book makes a perfect introduction to the classical world of Athens.
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Based solely on a reading of the introduction, this seems to me a fine work of interest to anyone interested in language, literacy, rhetoric and ancient history.. My own interest in the history of rhetoric, both as a practice and a subject of contention, and my interest in classical philosophy, would seem to be well served by Goldhill's work which I am anxious to reading its entirety. I am also struck by the accessibility of Goldhill's prose, a gift to those who, like me, are eager to find examples of academic prose that is untortured by the influence of so-called "theory," especially in the humanities. I suggest that Havelock"s "Preface to Plato" may be a good read beside this because it also addresses the conflict between philosophy and poetry, mythos and logos, initiated by Plato.
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