Art and Literature in Fourth Century Athens

Art and Literature in Fourth Century Athens

Art and Literature in Fourth Century Athens

Art and Literature in Fourth Century Athens

Excerpt

I have called this book Art and Literature in Fourth-century Athens for the sake of brevity, and I must here define each term in this title. Athenian seemed to me a better local description than Greek, because Athens was the intellectual capital of the Greek world and the three great philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, and Theophrastus, worked for most of their lives in Athens. I assume however (and shall try incidentally in the course of the narrative to justify the assumption) that communications in the Greek world were good and cross-influences many, and therefore I have not hesitated to quote works of art and literature produced in the rest of the Greek world where they have provided the best illustrations for my theme, but their connection with Athens is, I think, always clear.

Fourth-century is also not to be taken too literally. It would have been folly to exclude from my first chapter works of art or literature which formed a relevant part of the Athens in which Plato grew up, and in many cases dating is not so precise that we can say firmly that this must be between 410 and 400 and that between 400 and 390; but apart from the fact that no clear boundary divides the fourth century from the fifth, a knowledge of the late fifth-century background is so necessary for the understanding of early Plato that my procedure needs no apology. At the other end of the century I have been concerned above all to show New Comedy as a final flowering of Greek dramatic genius and I have not hesitated to include as many works of the third century . . .

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