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The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought$
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Christopher Gill

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198152682

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198152682.001.0001

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Literary Reception: Structured and Unstructured Selves

Literary Reception: Structured and Unstructured Selves

(p.408) 7 Literary Reception: Structured and Unstructured Selves
The Structured Self in Hellenistic and Roman Thought

Christopher Gill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the potential relevance to the interpretation of later Greek and Roman literature of the competing Hellenistic-Roman patterns of thought about the development of character (and about the consequences of failure to develop properly) discussed in Chapters 3 and 4. The presentation of collapse of ethical character in Plutarch’s Lives is taken as illustrating the Platonic-Aristotelian (part-based) pattern of thinking. The depiction of psychological conflict and disintegration in Seneca’s Medea and Phaedra is seen as illustrating the contrasting Stoic (holistic) pattern. Tracing philosophical influence on Virgil’s Aeneid is acknowledged to be more difficult and complex. In the presentation of inner conflict and passions in Dido and Aeneas, there are grounds for seeing the influence of both Platonic-Aristotelian and Stoic-Epicurean patterns. But the latter pattern is presented as ultimately more important for making sense of the distinctive features of Virgil’s portrayal.

Keywords:   character-collapse, Epicureanism, Platonic-Aristotelian thought, Plutarch, passions, psychological conflict, Seneca, Stoicism, Virgil

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