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Gnomai as a source of cosmological reflection

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reviews some of the modern scholarship on gnomai and the proverb, as well as a few ancient discussions, in order to establish whether it would be legitimate to reconstruct a cosmology from Pindar's use of gnomai. Technical and formal analyses are considered only insofar as they touch on issues connected to this aim. The chapter also analyses some pointers in Pindar's poetry. It seems reasonable to assume that Pindar's use of gnomai as a didactic or rhetorical tool did not differ substantially from that described by later educators and rhetoricians. The overview of the cosmological outlook reflected in the gnomai in Pindar's work imposes a modicum of order on the recurring references in his oeuvre to fundamental questions of human existence, in the hope that this will enhance the reading of individual poems. The gnomai can be considered as adequate evidence for the cosmological assumptions underlying Pindar's poetry.

Keywords: cosmological reflection; gnomai; human existence; Pindar's poetry; rhetoricians



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