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How To Perform The Polis? Tragedy As The Locus Of Deception

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Chapter Summary

Why were knowledge, representation, and deception so closely related? Concerning this question, the fragment of Simonides leaves us guessing. Directly after Simonides, the equally bold Gorgias of Leontini (487?380 BC) is cited. This famous sophist linked apatè to a specific genre of poetry, namely tragedy. This chapter focuses on writings by Gorgias, on Plato?s Gorgias and Republic, and on Aristotle?s Rhetoric and Poetics to discuss how tragedy, in the dramatic text, but also on the often overlooked level of performance, was conceptualized as locus to describe the artistic representation that actualizes its subject in a shared here and now with the audience. The tragedy achieves a reconfirmation of important views in the polis by means of emotions, ratio, and pleasure. All three thinkers acknowledge the existence of this performative mode, but they differ in their estimation of it as either strictly necessary or totally reprehensible.

Keywords: Aristotle; deception; Gorgias of Leontini; Plato; polis; tragedy

10.1163/ej.9789004166257.i-334.15
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