COLLOQUIUM: Marc Mastrangelo, Dickinson, "Plato's view of Poetry and the Early Christian Poets"

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

This paper describes the far reaching effects of the Platonist understanding of poetry, a historical condition under which Early Christian Latin poets such as Prudentius, Dracontius, and Boethius worked: The Platonist critique of poetry denied that poets have access to truth and knowledge. Patristic fathers like Lactantius, Augustine, and Jerome, translated the Platonist view into an irreparable rift between the "poeta," who spins lies with no access to divine or universal truth and the "theologus," whose interpretations of doctrinal and scriptural truth constituted the supreme cultural authority in Late Antiquity. The paper concludes with a sketch of how Christian poets responded to this aesthetic state of affairs.