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DHC Lecture with Richard Hunter (University of Cambridge)

The Idea of the ‘Classical’ in Classical Antiquity

This paper moved from the modern sense of what is classical, and particularly Classical and Athenian, to ask how the ancients developed the sense of their own past. I began with one modern reflection on images of the classical past, the opening of E.R. Dodds’ famous The Greeks and the Irrational, behind which lurk both Platonic ‘ideas’ and Nietzsche’s ‘Apolline culture’, and then moved backwards in time to ask how critical theorists such as ‘Longinus’ and Dionysius of Halicarnassus erected images of a perfect classicism. Further back still in time the story involved (again) Plato’s forms, Athenian sculpture and tragedy and ultimately the Homeric poems themselves.

Lecture in cooperation with the institute for Greek and Latin Languages and Literatures.