Birth of the Symbol : Ancient Readers at the Limits of Their Texts

Pub. Date: 2008-09-02
Publisher(s): Princeton Univ Pr
  • Free Shipping Icon

    Free Shipping on all Orders Over $35!*

    *excludes Marketplace items.

List Price: $55.00

Buy New

Usually Ships in 5-7 Business Days

Rent Textbook

Select for Price
There was a problem. Please try again later.

Used Textbook

We're Sorry
Sold Out


We're Sorry
Not Available


Nearly all of us have studied poetry and been taught to look for the symbolic as well as literal meaning of the text. Is this the way the ancients saw poetry? InBirth of the Symbol, Peter Struck explores the ancient Greek literary critics and theorists who invented the idea of the poetic "symbol." The book notes that Aristotle and his followers did not discuss the use of poetic symbolism. Rather, a different group of Greek thinkers--the allegorists--were the first to develop the notion. Struck extensively revisits the work of the great allegorists, which has been underappreciated. He links their interest in symbolism to the importance of divination and magic in ancient times, and he demonstrates how important symbolism became when they thought about religion and philosophy. "They see the whole of great poetic language as deeply figurative," he writes, "with the potential always, even in the most mundane details, to be freighted with hidden messages." Birth of the Symboloffers a new understanding of the role of poetry in the life of ideas in ancient Greece. Moreover, it demonstrates a connection between the way we understand poetry and the way it was understood by important thinkers in ancient times.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
The Genealogy of the Symbolicp. 1
Symbols and Riddles: Allegorical Reading and the Boundaries of the Textp. 21
Beginnings to 300 b.c.e.: Meaning from the Void of Chance and the Silence of the Secretp. 77
From the Head of Zeus: The Birth of the Literary Symbolp. 111
Swallowed Children and Bound Gods: The Diffusion of the Literary Symbolp. 142
300 b.c.e.-200 c.e.: The Symbol as Ontological Signifierp. 162
Iamblichus and the Defense of Ritual: Talismanic Symbolsp. 204
Moonstones and Men That Glow: Proclus and the Talismanic Signifierp. 227
Symbol Traces: Post-Proclean Theoriesp. 254
Chrysippus's Reading and Authorial Intention: The Case of the Mural at Samosp. 279
Bibliography of Ancient Authorsp. 283
Bibliography of Modern Authorsp. 285
Index Locorump. 297
General Indexp. 311
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

An electronic version of this book is available through VitalSource.

This book is viewable on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and most smartphones.

By purchasing, you will be able to view this book online, as well as download it, for the chosen number of days.

A downloadable version of this book is available through the eCampus Reader or compatible Adobe readers.

Applications are available on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Windows Mobile platforms.

Please view the compatibility matrix prior to purchase.