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    Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of Their Texts (Hardback) By (author) Peter T. Struck

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    DescriptionNearly all of us have studied poetry and been taught to look for the symbolic as well as literal meaning of the text. Is this the way the ancients saw poetry? In "Birth of the Symbol", Peter Struck explores the ancient Greek literary critics and theorists who invented the idea of the poetic 'symbol'. This book notes that Aristotle and his followers did not discuss the use of poetic symbolism. Rather, a different group of Greek thinkers - the allegorists - were the first to develop the notion. Struck extensively revisits the work of the great allegorists, which has been underappreciated. He links their interest in symbolism to the importance of divination and magic in ancient times, and he demonstrates how important symbolism became when they thought about religion and philosophy. 'They see the whole of great poetic language as deeply figurative', he writes, 'with the potential always, even in the most mundane details, to be freighted with hidden messages'. "Birth of the Symbol" offers a new understanding of the role of poetry in the life of ideas in ancient Greece. Moreover, it demonstrates a connection between the way we understand poetry and the way it was understood by important thinkers in ancient times.

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    Birth of the Symbol
    Ancient Readers at the Limits of Their Texts
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Peter T. Struck
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 332
    Width: 155 mm
    Height: 231 mm
    Thickness: 28 mm
    Weight: 726 g
    ISBN 13: 9780691116976
    ISBN 10: 0691116970

    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T3.7
    BIC subject category V2: DSC
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: LIT
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    B&T Modifier: Geographic Designator: 05
    BIC subject category V2: DSBB
    BIC language qualifier (language as subject) V2: 2AHA
    Ingram Subject Code: LC
    Libri: I-LC
    Ingram Theme: CHRN/ANCIEN
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 02
    B&T General Subject: 495
    LC subject heading:
    BISAC V2.8: LIT014000
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    LC subject heading:
    BISAC V2.8: HIS002000, LIT004190
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 15770
    BISAC V2.8: POE008000
    LC subject heading: , , , , ,
    DC22: 881/.010915
    LC classification: PA3021 .S76 2004
    LC subject heading:
    DC22: 881.010915
    LC classification: 2003048609
    BISAC region code:
    Thema V1.0: DSBB, DSC, DCA
    Edition statement
    New ed.
    Illustrations note
    black & white illustrations
    Princeton University Press
    Imprint name
    Princeton University Press
    Publication date
    25 April 2004
    Publication City/Country
    New Jersey
    Author Information
    Peter T. Struck is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a fellow at the National Humanities Center.
    Review quote
    Winner of the 2007 Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit "A rich and fascinating account of how the ideas of symbolism and allegorical reading developed over the course of classical antiquity. It is a remarkable achievement."--David Konstan, Literary Imagination "This book offers a remarkably comprehensive study of ancient symbolic interpretation from the Pre-Socratics to the later Neoplatonists and beyond."--Derek Collins, Classical World
    Flap copy
    "This is a challenging yet rewarding journey through a millenium of texts, thoughts, and interpretations. As against the defensive stance taken by most studies of ancient 'allegory, ' Peter Struck gives a resolute appraisal of a persistent and accepted way of understanding literature, a method of interpretation which, in opposition to Aristotelian rhetoric, tries to get beyond the limits of the text in order to find a surplus of meaning, to achieve 'more' or 'deeper' insights. This takes him from the beginnings of Greek literature down to the Neoplatonists of Late Antiquity. For the first time, a non-mimetic approach to literary theory becomes possible: 'Divine' poetry is not secondary reproduction of material realities but is to disclose higher forms of being. Struck keeps close to the texts, presented in translation and often in the original language, too, while maintaining a high theoretical level as to language and interpretation in general. His book makes always clear and not seldom exciting reading."--Walter Burkert, author of "Creation of the Sacred and Greek Religion"
    Table of contents
    Acknowledgments xi Introduction The Genealogy of the Symbolic 1 1 Symbols and Riddles: Allegorical Reading and the Boundaries of the Text 21 2 Beginnings to 300 b.c.e.: Meaning from the Void of Chance and the Silence of the Secret 77 3 From the Head of Zeus: The Birth of the Literary Symbol 111 4 Swallowed Children and Bound Gods: The Diffusion of the Literary Symbol 142 5 300 b.c.e.-200 c.e.: The Symbol as Ontological Signifier 162 6 Iamblichus and the Defense of Ritual: Talismanic Symbols 204 7 Moonstones and Men That Glow: Proclus and the Talismanic Signifier 227 Epilogue Symbol Traces: Post-Proclean Theories 254 Appendix Chrysippus's Reading and Authorial Intention: The Case of the Mural at Samos 279 Bibliography of Ancient Authors 283 Bibliography of Modern Authors 285 Index Locorum 297 General Index 311