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Poetry As Flawed Reproduction: Possession And Mimesis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter offers a new attempt to overcome what may be merely a superficial discrepancy in Plato's treatment of poetry by examining the conception of poetry firstly as a transmission of divine speeches, and secondly, as flawed reproduction, and lastly, as a mimetic activity that rests upon possession. Conceived as a divine gift, poetry is viewed as divine by nature by the poets. They introduce various ideas on poetry that may lead to the Platonic theory of divine possession; among them, first and foremost the strong linkage between the poet and the Muses. In defining inspiration as possession and poetic imitation as a deceiving illusion, Plato meets with the following objection: poetry is considered to be both the gods' words and also misleading discourses. The chapter shows that the flawed hermêneia, the distorted transmission of the Muses' words turns out to be a flawed report of the past.

Keywords: flawed reproduction; mimesis; poetry; possession



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