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The Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece$
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Maria Michela Sassi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180502

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180502.001.0001

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Voices of Authority

Voices of Authority

(p.139) Chapter Five Voices of Authority
The Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece

Maria Michela Sassi

, Michele Asuni
Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how Greek authors placed their activity within a recognized literary tradition, that of epic poetry, in order to give authority to their message. It first explains how a certain number of authors stress their detachment from the poetic tradition in combining the choice of new contents with new and more appropriate guarantees of truth, taking into account the views of the Homeric bard and other philosophers such as Hesiod and Xenophanes with respect to the Muses. It then considers Empedocles and Parmenides's adoption of the formal trappings of epic poetry as soundbox for their authorial voice, as well as the role played by reason in the evolution of Presocratic thought. It concludes with a discussion of how, during the second half of the fifth century BCE, prose became the medium of rational argumentation par excellence.

Keywords:   epic poetry, authority, truth, Muses, Empedocles, Parmenides, authorial voice, reason, prose, rational argumentation

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