The Ancients Respond

Larry F. Norman

in The Shock of the Ancient

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780226591483
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226591506 | DOI:
The Ancients Respond

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In order to justify the most shocking features of antiquity, its defenders frequently adopted a form of relativism, or of cultural pluralism. This chapter explores the broader implications of the historical sensibility they embraced. Ancient apologists argued that the only true way to appreciate ancient literature is to appreciate cultural difference. To topple the tyranny of decorum, the Ancients did not hesitate to question the solidity of the modern norms and ideals that underpin it. In 1687 Longepierre, addressing how readers might overcome their distaste for the ancient world, adumbrates the argument that the Ancients will follow. Longepierre goes beyond a simple plea to accept literary representations of other ages; he demands a certain respect for those ages in and of themselves.

Keywords: antiquity; relativism; cultural pluralism; ancient literature; modern norms; Longepierre

Chapter.  8000 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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