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Play and Aesthetics in Ancient Greece

  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108492072


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About the Authors
  • What is art's relationship to play? Those interested in this question tend to look to modern philosophy for answers, but, as this book shows, the question was already debated in antiquity by luminaries like Plato and Aristotle. Over the course of eight chapters, this book contextualizes those debates, and demonstrates their significance for theoretical problems today. Topics include the ancient child psychology at the root of the ancient Greek word for 'play' (paidia), the numerous toys that have survived from antiquity, and the meaning of play's conceptual opposite, the 'serious' (spoudaios). What emerges is a concept of play markedly different from the one we have inherited from modernity. Play is not a certain set of activities which unleashes a certain feeling of pleasure; it is rather a certain feeling of pleasure that unleashes the activities we think of as 'play'. As such, it offers a new set of theoretical challenges.

    • Offers a new theory of play from antiquity
    • Collects all the evidence that connects play to art in ancient thought
    • Systematically thinks through the ancient connections of play and art to offer a play-based theory of art
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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108492072
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of abbreviations
    1. The Pais of Paizō: children, intoxication, and play in ancient psycho-physiology
    2. Why Plato needs play
    3. Plato's play and the tragic paradox
    4. What do pleasure-objects do? An inquiry into toys
    5. Aristotle's demotion of play
    6. Play vs. mimesis in Aristotle's aesthetics
    7. Serious play as goal-oriented play
    8. The value of serious things before and after death
    Conclusions: toward a pleasure-model of play

  • Author

    Stephen E. Kidd, Brown University, Rhode Island
    Stephen E. Kidd is Robert Gale Noyes Assistant Professor of Classics at Brown University, Rhode Island, where his work focuses on ancient Greek literature and culture, especially that of the classical period. He is the author of Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy (Cambridge, 2014) as well as articles on the meanings of Greek words, ancient games, science, and what Herodotus has to say about virtual worlds.

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