AN OVERVIEW OF CLASSICAL
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND OTHER
Classical Literary Criticism
• Classical Literary Criticism started from the ancient Greek society.
... Classical Literary Criticism simply define as the classical ideas
and imaginary by some classical thinkers, there is some of very
important writers like Aristotle, Plato.
• This anthology brings together core classical texts for understanding
literature. The selections from Plato illustrate the poetic
philosopher’s surprising exclusion of poets from his ideal republic.
In his response, Poetics, Aristotle draws on the works of the great
Greek playwrights to defend the value of the art. Horace’s The Art
of Poetry is a vivid practitioner’s guide that promotes a style of
poetic craftsmanship rooted in wisdom, ethical insight, and
decorum. Longinus’s On the Sublime explores the nature of
inspiration in poetry and prose. This volume is a work of great value
and interest to classicists, students, and writers.
Plato and Aristotle
• Plato (c. 428–c. 348 BCE) and Aristotle (384–322 BCE) are generally regarded as
the two greatest figures of Western philosophy. ... According to a conventional
view, Plato's philosophy is abstract and utopian, whereas Aristotle's is empirical,
practical, and commonsensical.
• Both Plato and Aristotle based their theories on four widely accepted beliefs:
• Knowledge must be of what is real
• The world experienced via the senses is what is real
• Knowledge must be of what is fixed and unchanging
• The world experienced via the senses is not fixed and unchanging
• These points led to a sceptic point of view which both philosophers wished to
target, as both agreed knowledge is possible. In order to overcome this prevalent
contradiction in the argument, it became necessary that each philosopher choose a
point to disregard and prove to be unnecessary. Plato chose to reject the claim that
the world experienced through the senses is what is real, while Aristotle rejected the
claim that knowledge must be of what is fixed and unchanging. This presented
problems to be overcome by each philosopher: Plato had to give an account of
where knowledge could be found while Aristotle had to account for how to have
knowledge of that which is undergoing change.
Ideas of Two Theories
• Plato claimed that Particulars (objects) are only crude representations of their Form. For example, a Beauty Particular such as
Helen of Troy is physical and accessible to the senses. Her beauty is also only temporary and relative to the observer, because
aging and individual opinions alter how her beauty is observed. Her beauty being combined with non-beautiful parts and non-
beautiful perspectives, such as organs, mean that she cannot contain the permanent Form of Beauty within herself. Rather,
Plato claimed that the Form of Beauty is not accessible to the senses and is not physical, existing outside of time and space,
and so can only be understood through reason. The Form of Beauty (being pure beauty) also differs from the Beauty
Particular as it is eternally and irrefutably beautiful no matter who experiences it and at what time.
• Aristotle refuted Plato’s definition, believing it to be unclear and illogical in claiming that a chair can be understood to be a
chair due to its relationship with a form existing outside of time and space. Instead, Aristotle’s method of defining an object's
form was through the object's purpose, which it has been given by the designer. So, a chair is a chair because it has been
designed to have the function of a chair. That of which the chair is made could have been given a different form if it had been
arranged differently. This way, the form of an object exists within the object and all similarly designed and purposed objects,
so it is unnecessary to disengage from this world in order to understand a form as it can be observed and understood on earth.
• This also enables one to have knowledge of an object whilst it undergoes change, as its change is contained within its
purpose. For example, an acorn has within its form the potential to become an oak tree if not interfered with. The change
which it is to undergo is contained within the knowledge of it’s form. This became the basis of Aristotle’s teleology (study
and explanation of functions). Aristotle proposed that "nature does nothing in vain," as everything has a purpose given to it,
perhaps by a God. With this, Aristotle looks not only at human artifacts, but also nature: eyes have different structures and
methods of operation between species, yet they all share the form of an eye, as they all exist for the purpose of seeing.
• Even though both philosophers use form to understand objects, only Plato believes it is required to gain knowledge. Plato
also thinks it essential to disengage from this world to discover an object's form, whereas Aristotle believes we need only
study the objects and discover its function (teleology).
• The differences between Plato and Aristotle’s theories outweigh the similarities. However, both philosophers do leave holes
and questions in their arguments. Plato is often criticised for being too elitist in his views, as he requires a great amount of
time devoted to asceticism in order to learn. He also sees the mass public as ignorant and incapable, or at least unwilling to
accept the truth of a reality beyond our own.
Rhetoric and Oratory
• Rhetoric is the art of using language, such as public speaking, for persuasive writing and speech.
... Oratory is the ability to convey a successful speech, and it is a means of performing rhetoric. The three
branches of rhetoric include deliberative, judicial, and epideictic
• Oratory, the rationale and practice of persuasive public speaking. It is immediate in its audience
relationships and reactions, but it may also have broad historical repercussions. The orator may become
the voice of political or social history.
• Rhetoric, classically the theoretical basis for the art of oratory, is the art of using words effectively. Oratory
is instrumental and practical, as distinguished from poetic or literary composition, which traditionally aims
at beauty and pleasure. Oratory is of the marketplace and as such not always concerned with the universal
and permanent. The orator in his purpose and technique is primarily persuasive rather than informational or
entertaining. An attempt is made to change human behaviour or to strengthen convictions and attitudes. The
orator would correct wrong positions of the audience and establish psychological patterns favourable to his
own wishes and platform. Argument and rhetorical devices are used, as are evidence, lines of reasoning,
and appeals that support the orator’s aims. Exposition is employed to clarify and enforce the orator’s
propositions, and anecdotes and illustrations are used to heighten response.
• The orator need not be a first-rate logician, though a capacity for good, clear thought helps to penetrate into
the causes and results of tentative premises and conclusions and to use analogy, generalizations,
assumptions, deductive–inductive reasoning, and other types of inference. Effective debaters, who depend
more heavily on logic, however, are not always impressive orators because superior eloquence also requires
strong appeals to the motives, sentiments, and habits of the audience. Oratorical greatness is invariably
identified with strong emotional phrasing and delivery. When the intellectual qualities dominate with
relative absence of the affective appeals, the oration fails just as it does when emotion sweeps aside reason.
• Poetic inspiration can arise anywhere, at anytime. It can even be aroused by imagery and sensations that
are not beautiful in the conventional sense of the word. For example, Philip Levine, the 18th
U.S. Poet Laureate, found much of his inspiration in the Detroit factories he grew up working in.
• As a moralist, Plato disapproves of poetry because it is immoral, as a philosopher he disapproves of it
because it is based in falsehood. He is of the view that philosophy is better than poetry because philosopher
deals with idea / truth, whereas poet deals with what appears to him / illusion.
• Poetic Devices
• Socrates views the influence of poetry as pernicious as it teaches people to value the wrong things and
encourages poor dispositions and character.
• Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin
myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans. Stories of everyday human
beings, although often of leaders of some type, are usually contained in legends, as opposed to myths.
• Myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses and are closely linked to religion or spirituality. Many societies
group their myths, legends, and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote
past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later
form. Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions, and taboos were established and sanctified. There
is a complex relationship between recital of myths and the enactment of rituals.
• The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular
subject. The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato,
and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of
myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, psychology,
and anthropology. Moreover, the academic comparisons of bodies of myth are known as comparative mythology.
• Since the term myth is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can
be highly political: many adherents of religions view their religion's stories as true and therefore object to the stories being
characterised as myths. Nevertheless, scholars now routinely speak of Jewish mythology, Christian mythology, Islamic
mythology, Hindu mythology, and so forth. Traditionally, Western scholarship, with its Judeo-Christian heritage, has viewed
narratives in the Abrahamic religions as being the province of theology rather than mythology. Meanwhile, identifying
religious stories of colonised cultures, such as stories in Hinduism, as myths enabled Western scholars to imply that they were
of lower truth-value than the stories of Christianity. Labelling all religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating
different traditions with parity
Types of Poetry
• Poetry was divided into three main types of poetry by the great philosopher Aristotle; theywere comedy, tragedy,
and epic. He claimed comedy was simply an imitation of what isinferior and possibly laughable. He claimed the
other two, tragedy and epic, were similar inthat they both portray suffering and produce effects and emotions in
their readers. The onlydifference between the two was epic was said to be a one verse poem while tragedy was
innarrativeform.Today, poetry and literature scholars believe that poetry does indeed contain three maingenres.
However, the three are known as lyric, narrative, and dramatic, not comedy,tragedy, and epic. Each of these
genres can then be saturated with sub-genres and thensub-sub-genres depending on the rhyme scheme, rhythm,
meters, style, and even emotion.Lyric poetry are poems focused on thought and emotion. The poems may be
songs--andsongs may be any other genre.
• Narrative, Lyric, and Drama are the three general literary forms into which writing, especially poetry, has
traditionally been grouped. A narrative tells a story or a tale; drama is presented on a stage, where actors embody
characters; lyric has been loosely defined as any short poem other than narrative and drama, where poets express
their state of mind.
• Narrative or story telling developed from ritualistic chanting of myths, and has traditionally been groupedinto two
poetic categories, epic and ballad. The stories were not memorized as is generally assumed butinstead bards
improvised oral chants, relying on heavy alliterative and assonantal techniques, which seemedto put both the
bard and the audience into a trance (Preminger 542).An
• is a long non-stanzaic "poem on a great and serious subject, told in an elevated style, and centeredon a heroic or
quasi-divine figure on whose actions depends the fate of a tribe, a nation, or the human race"(Abrams 51). Typical
figures include demi-gods, kings, and military heroes. Even a millennium beforeHomer, bards were recording an
already ancient oral tradition of epic poems in Sumer and Egypt
• Mimesis is a term used in philosophy and literary criticism. It describes the process
of imitation or mimicry through which artists portray and interpret the
world. Mimesis is not a literary device or technique, but rather a way of thinking
about a work of art.
• society, and its use has changed and been reinterpreted many times since.[citation
• One of the best-known modern studies of mimesis—understood in literature as a
form of realism—is Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in
Western Literature, which opens with a famous comparison between the way the
world is represented in Homer's Odyssey and the way it appears in the
Bible. In art history, mimesis, realism, and naturalism are often interchangeably
used as terms for the accurate, even 'illusionistic', representation of the visual
appearance of things.
• In addition to Plato and Auerbach, mimesis has been theorised by thinkers as
diverse as Aristotle, Philip Sidney, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Adam Smith, Gabriel
Tarde, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Paul Ricœur, Luce
Irigaray, Jacques Derrida, René Girard, Nikolas Kompridis, Philippe Lacoue-
Labarthe, Michael Taussig, Merlin Donald, and Homi Bhabha.
• In Book II of The Republic, Plato describes Socrates' dialogue with his pupils. Socrates warns
we should not seriously regard poetry as being capable of attaining the truth and that we who
listen to poetry should be on our guard against its seductions, since the poet has no place in
our idea of God.[iv]:377
• Developing upon this in Book X, Plato told of Socrates' metaphor of the three beds: one bed
exists as an idea made by God (the Platonic ideal, or form); one is made by the carpenter, in
imitation of God's idea; and one is made by the artist in imitation of the carpenter's.[v]:596–9
• So the artist's bed is twice removed from the truth. Those who copy only touch on a small part
of things as they really are, where a bed may appear differently from various points of view,
looked at obliquely or directly, or differently again in a mirror. So painters or poets, though
they may paint or describe a carpenter, or any other maker of things, know nothing of the
carpenter's (the craftsman's) art,[v] and though the better painters or poets they are, the more
faithfully their works of art will resemble the reality of the carpenter making a bed,
nonetheless the imitators will still not attain the truth (of God's creation).[v]
• The poets, beginning with Homer, far from improving and educating humanity, do not possess
the knowledge of craftsmen and are mere imitators who copy again and again images of virtue
and rhapsodise about them, but never reach the truth in the way the superior philosophers do.
• Similar to Plato's writings about mimesis, Aristotle also defined mimesis as
the perfection, and imitation of nature. Art is not only imitation but also
the use of mathematical ideas and symmetry in the search for the perfect,
the timeless, and contrasting being with becoming. Nature is full of
change, decay, and cycles, but art can also search for what is everlasting
and the first causes of natural phenomena. Aristotle wrote about the idea
of four causes in nature. The first, the formal cause, is like a blueprint, or
an immortal idea. The second cause is the material cause, or what a thing
is made out of. The third cause is the efficient cause, that is, the process
and the agent by which the thing is made. The fourth, the final cause, is
the good, or the purpose and end of a thing, known as telos.
• Aristotle's Poetics is often referred to as the counterpart to this Platonic
conception of poetry. Poetics is his treatise on the subject of mimesis.
Aristotle was not against literature as such; he stated that human beings
are mimetic beings, feeling an urge to create texts (art) that reflect and
• Indian aesthetics is a unique philosophical and spiritual point of view on art, architecture and literature.
In Indian aesthetics, a rasa (Sanskrit: रस lit. The theory of rasa is attributed to Bharata, a sage-priest who
may have lived sometime between the 1st century bce and the 3rd century.
• 1. Art is the expression of a man's feelings and imagination on through a medium. When both are given a
form, it is called art.
• 2. Artist has total freedom to deny reality because they are supposed to be the creator of beauty.
• 3. The things which attract you to an artwork.Where you feel pleasure in an artwork.It is not important that
you capture reality. More important is what you thought. e.g. Van Gogh - Sunflower painting.
• 4. Aesthetics is a discipline in which authors and philosophers try to explain the concepts of beauty.
Different philosophers and aestheticians have a lot of contradictions between them. But the standard
of beauty is the same when it concerns.
• 5. Indian aesthetics is earlier than the western aesthetics. Before Italian philosopher Croce there was no
real aesthetics. In India, a lot of scholars were particularly interested in aesthetics. their main aim was to
understand and find out the meaning of beauty.
• 6. Bharata was the first to write on aesthetics in Bharata's Natya Shastra. mainly in terms of Literature,
Drama and Dance.
• 7. Theory of aesthetics is, in fact, the theory of “sense of beauty”. In India, there was a separate discipline
for the theory of beauty. Indians were not historically inclined, they did not record anything and always
dedicated their works to Gurus and Gods.
• 8. Bharata’s Natya Shastra (BNS)- the entire story is told in terms of music and dance and is not written
for the folk artists. Purely classical form. Bharat Muni mentioned Indra the lord of heaven who had a lot of
dancers. Natyashastra according to scholars were written during 2nd century B.C. or A.D. hence we can say
that drama existed for a long time before.
• 9. There is a missing link between Indus Valley Civilization and the Mauryan period, which means
that BNS must have been written during the Shunga Dynasty and that this form must be known in Harappa
but does not conclude due to lack of evidence. BNS was the first available theory of music, dance and
drama But these forms existed long before.