"The object of this book," writes the author in his Preface, "is to investigate how poetry and the figure of the poet are represented, discussed, contested within the poetry of ancient Greece." Dr. Goldhill seeks to discover how ancient authors broached the questions: From what position does a poet speak? With what authority? With what debts to the past? With what involvement in the present? Through a series of interrelated essays on Homer, lyric poetry, Aristophanes, Theocritus and Apollonius of Rhodes, key aspects in the history of poetics are discussed: tale telling and the representation of man as the user of language; memorial and praise; parody, comedy and carnival; irony, masks and desire; the legacy of the past and the idea of influence. Detailed readings of major works of Greek literature show how richly rewarding and revealing this approach can be. The author makes liberal use of critical writings from areas of study other than Classics and focuses on problems central to contemporary critical debate. His book is uniquely placed to bring together modern and ancient poetics in a way that is enlightening for both.
The work is written as much for the serious scholar of literary criticism as for the Classicist.