Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?: An Essay on the by Paul Veyne

By Paul Veyne

"[Veyne's] current booklet has a few kinship together with his sprightly theoretical paintings Comment on ecrit l'histoire; and he broadcasts that its target used to be to impress mirrored image at the method our belief of fact is equipped up and alterations over the centuries. . . . the fashion is marvelous and exhilarating."—Jasper Griffin, Times Literary Supplement

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In return , another task that is no less interesting emerges: to reveal the unpredictable contours of this polygon , which no longer has the conventional fonns or ample folds that make history into a noble tragedy , and to restore their original silhouette to events , which has been concealed under borrowed garments . The true fonns are so irregular that they literally go unseen . Presuppositions " go without saying" and pass unnoticed , and in their pl ace conventional general ities are seen. One notices neither the inquiry nor the 33 CHAPTER THREE controversy .

There is not necessarily any close relationship between the victor's personality and the matters on which the poet speaks to him. Pindar does not make a point of ensuring that the myth always contains a delicate allusion to the victor' s person. What is important is that he treats the victor as a peer by speaking familiarly to him of this mythical world . In our century the natural tendency is to explain the products of the mind in sociological terms . ' ' This is acting too quickly . We must not reduce the explanation of literature, or its hermeneutics , to a sociology of literature .

It is not surprising that this archaic work has been carrie d on in a form of know ledge that is no less archaic : commentary . What else can be done but comment when the key to the enigma has been found? Moreover, only a genius , an inspired man , almost a god , could find the key to such an enigma. Epicurus is a god-yes , a god­ proclaims his disciple , Lucretius . The man with the key is believed at his word and will not ask more of himself than his admirers do . His disciples do not continue his work ; they transmit it and add nothing .

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