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By Cedric H. Whitman

In general one is chary of claiming this sort of factor a couple of severe paintings, even if wonderful the writer; the extra one appears down the lengthy standpoint of literary experiences, the extra one feels how a lot of what we're prone to think about because the shattering discovery of our personal iteration is admittedly the typical perception of the a while, another way phrased to slot the style. yet Professor Whitman bargains anything unattempted, as far as i do know, from antiquity to the current day, and that's a whole and systematic learn of Aristophanes, no longer as a resource for overdue fifth-century historical past and antiquities, nor as a record within the heritage of drama, nor as a natural spring of Attic vocabulary and syntax, yet as a poet; a comic book poet.

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For us, the importance lies in the insouciance with which Archilochus reveals the disgraceful deed. It seems rather to confirm his self-respect than to damage it, though one has the feeling that the case would have been different if someone else had lost his shield. In his supreme self-confidence Archilochus can be two opposite things at once. Does he contradict himself? Very well, he contains multitudes. Aristophanes himself makes use of the shield poem at the end of the Peace in a way which well illustrates the comic dissociation about moral values.

Even in the meager fragments which remain there exists a variety little short of marvelous, a kaleidoscope of images betokening a mind peculiarly responsive to the immediacy of things. Such breadth of poetic awareness in itself suggests Aristophanes, but there is a more important factor, namely the kind of individualism which Archilochus represents. " 36 T h e lordly air with which he introduces himself sets the tone for his whole self-oriented world. Despite his heavy dependence on the language of Homer, Archilochus is the most personal of poets, for he represents himself in direct relation with everything around him.

This is what he says, and he would probably consider it one of his finest triumphs if he could know that Robert Browning took him seriously, or that sedulous professors were rooting about in his works, trying to pin down the essence of those prayerful and uplifting benefits to which he lays such bare-faced claim. If we could catch the poet, we ought, if we wish to learn something about him, to ask him a different question, as Plato did in the Symfosium. Plato asked him to define love, and for answer he received a myth, mingled of Empedocles, impertinence, and hiccups, yet embodying a wistfully hilarious image of human desire.

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