Together with the development of a new cultural geography, the late fifth and the fourth century BCE saw innovative literary experiments in Greece: to mention but few, Dithyramb, New Music and some New-style tragedy and comedy. In most cases, their authors are mere names to us. My project aims at understanding if the deeply fragmentary form in which we can read this poetry today is the consequence of a philosophers’ philology (in the sense of literary criticism), resulting in an ideological elaboration of a Greek canon.
My project will point out the innovations (both in terms of style and content) that can be individuated in the Greek lyric experience between the late fifth and the fourth century BCE and anchor them in the framework of their contemporary reception, with particular attention to the philosophers’ one. Through the textual analysis of fragments and testimonies, it will be possible to understand the ‘familiar’ influences on the so-called ‘new’ style and to determine why these authors wanted to self-consciously differentiate themselves from the tradition.
Despite being extremely popular among contemporaries, fourth century poets have often played a marginal role in the history of Greek literature. The reason may lay in the fact that ancient literary criticism became, from Plato onwards, a matter of conflicting paideutic models: a socratic and a sophistic one. It can be seen how fourth century poetry could fit within the second type more: therefore, it was repeatedly marked by the Platonic ban. Since some of these ideological dynamics have yet not been highlighted, it can be argued that modern criticism is still largely dependent on Platonism; and that fourth century BCE poets have to undergo a deep historiographical revaluation.