Moses on the Acropolis:

in Socrates and the Jews

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226472478
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226472492 | DOI:
Moses on the Acropolis:

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Ernest Renan wrote an essay entitled “Prayer on the Acropolis,” in which he reflects on the question of recollection. For him, the practice of history was a bar to the enjoyment of personal recollection but the power of Athens over his personal memory was inextricably linked to the quality of the civilization. Renan draws self-consciously on an established contrast between Hellenism and Hebraism. Some forty years later, Sigmund Freud wrote an account of his experience on the Acropolis in an essay entitled “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis.” Both Renan's “Prayer on the Acropolis” and Freud's “A Disturbance” were structured around a double experience of memory. On the surface, the two essays represent diametrically opposed reactions, yet both are profound meditations on the link between recollection and philology cut across by the Hellenism/Hebraism antithesis.

Keywords: Ernest Renan; Acropolis; Sigmund Freud; recollection; memory; Hellenism; Hebraism; philology; Athens

Chapter.  16893 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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