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How Philosophers Saved MythsAllegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology$
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Luc Brisson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226075358

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226075389.001.0001

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Muthos and Philosophia

Muthos and Philosophia

(p.5) One Muthos and Philosophia
How Philosophers Saved Myths
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the emergence and expansion of what is at present called “philosophy” in ancient Greece. The emergence of philosophy can be linked with the introduction, a few centuries earlier, of a new system of writing. In the context of ancient Greek civilization, where there was no priestly class invested with the dual role of maintaining tradition and insuring the conformity of social behavior to this tradition, a play of mirrors could be maintained only if myth kept on adapting to public expectations. The myths portrayed actions and attitudes that were anachronistic and even shocking to a Greek of the classical period or one of the end of the archaic age. The use of allegory by some philosophers will be inclined toward a reappropriation of the collective memory; yet to accomplish this goal they will have to start giving more value than Plato did to the opinion of the majority.

Keywords:   philosophy, Greece, writing, Greek civilization, tradition, social behavior, myth, allegory

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