From Myth to Reason? Studies in the Development of Greek by Richard Buxton

By Richard Buxton

It is usually stated that Greek civilization underwent a transition from delusion to cause. yet what does this statement suggest? Is it real? have been the Greeks distinct in having advanced our kind of cause, or is mirage? during this booklet, the various world's major specialists on old Greek delusion, faith, philosophy, and heritage re-examine those basic concerns.

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Taking as an example the role of oracles in the Croesus episode, Hartog addresses the problem by analysing the stance of the narrator of stories. Like Griffiths, Hartog stresses the polyphony of Herodotean narrative, but his way into this polyphony is very different. The key word is semainein, 'to signify', which has to do both with oracular divination and with the craft of the knowledgeable historian. It is by attending to the kind of signifying which Herodotus practises, rather than by locating him somewhere between myth and < previous page page_17 next page > < previous page page_18 next page > Page 18 reason, that Hartog seeks to define the nature of the historian's craft.

Lenfant's discussion of how the Greeks actually treated monstrosity links her to those contributors who analyse myth/reason in practice; on the other hand, her discussion of Aristotle points to a connection with Johansen's paper (see below). Eventually, it seemed useful to juxtapose her account with those of Griffiths and Hartog, since Lenfant too sees Herodotus as a key figure through whom critically to reappraise the 'from ... ' theory. At all events, the placement of her paper is less important than its content, which is essentially double.

Though, at the end, Rowe is still willing to accept a distinction between story-telling and 'those sorts of discourse which arecomparatively at leastlacking in an imaginative dimension', he gives us a Plato in whom the rational can become myth by being narrated, while the mythical may properly form part of the philosopher's armoury, even to the extent of having a role in dialectic. So, as often in these pages, it is narrative strategy, rather than delineated territories of 'thought', on which the spotlight falls.

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