In Praise of Indecorous Acts of Discourse: An Essay by Way of Introduction

in Socrates & the Fat Rabbis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226069166
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226069180 | DOI:
In Praise of Indecorous Acts of Discourse: An Essay by Way of Introduction

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This book focuses on the strange dialogues of Plato and the Babylonian Talmud. The interpretative traditions, both premodern and modern, have done everything in their power to reduce the embarrassment of such strangeness. The literary term, decorum, used slightly differently than in common parlance, will be a very helpful one for the analysis throughout. Horace's definition of the opposite of decorum is very helpful here too: “The poetic body must avoid the monstrous conjugation of foreign parts.” Human obesity is frequently figured in antiquity as a sign of the opposite of decorum and the non-serious. One of the very emblems of the concatenation of the serious and the comic in Plato's work is the incident of Aristophanes' hiccups in the Symposium. Already in antiquity there seemed to be a deep understanding of the connections between Plato's dialogues and the genres of satire, such as the Iambic. The represented dialogue in both Plato and the Talmud is anything but dialogical, incorporating rather all voices into one single consciousness, that of the “author.”

Keywords: Talmud; Plato; dialogues; decorum; Horace; Symposium; satire

Chapter.  12860 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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