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Latin Poetry and the Judgement of TasteAn Essay in Aesthetics$
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Charles Martindale

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199240401

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199240401.001.0001

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Distinguishing the Aesthetic: Politics and Art

Distinguishing the Aesthetic: Politics and Art

(p.108) 3 Distinguishing the Aesthetic: Politics and Art
Latin Poetry and the Judgement of Taste

Charles Martindale (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter counters another commonly made objection to aesthetic judgements about artworks (including works of literature): that they are really occluded judgements of other kinds. It considers politics and aesthetics as rival discourses, and the kind of interpretations that each generates by analyzing Horace Odes 2.7 and Virgil’s Eclogues. It argues for the legitimacy of aesthetic readings as well as political ones, and shows how the notion that the aesthetic is essentially a ‘reactionary’ category is quite at odds with the history of aesthetics. The specially privileged importance assigned to the aesthetic by Schiller (as a propaedeutic to good citizenship) and Pater (as a superior form of knowledge to any other), and the problems of their accounts are analysed. It is argued that a crucial feature of the aesthetic is the absence of hierarchy. The language and concepts of ideology critique are used to demonstrate the shortcomings of the chapter’s attack on the aesthetic.

Keywords:   aestheticism, Schiller, Pater, Oscar Wilde, William Morris, Horace, Virgil

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