Theagenes of Rhegium

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Theagenes of Rhegium[1] (Θεαγένης ὁ Ῥηγῖνος) born in Rhegium circ. 529 BC - 522 BC, was a Greek literary critic of the 6th century BC. He is noted for having defended the mythology of Homer, from more rationalist attacks. In so doing he became an early proponent of the allegorical method of reading texts.[2][3][4]

All that he wrote is lost to contemporary history. Information about his life has been available in the existing documents written by his contemporaries,and of those of future generations,these having felt his influence. [5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rhegium is present-day Reggio Calabria, in southern Italy.
  2. ^ Allegorical interpretation may have begun with Theagenes of Rhegium in the sixth century as a response to the criticisms of the representation of the gods in the Homeric poems by Xenophanes and others[...]. The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism I, p.85.
  3. ^ It has also been argued that Pherecydes of Syros anticipated Theagenes: See this PDF.
  4. ^ Jean-Pierre Vernant (1981) Mythe et société en Grèce ancienne p.212, quotation:

    Au vie siècle, Théagène de Rhegium a déjà engagé, sur les mythes d'Homère, ce travail d'exégèse allégorique qui, substituant aux données mêmes du récit des équivalents symboliques, en effectue la transposition dans le vocabulaire de la cosmologie, de la physique, de la morale ou de la métaphysique. Ainsi le mythe se trouve purifié des absurdités, des invraisemblances ou des immoralités qui faisaient le scandale de la raison, mais c'est au prix d'un renoncement à ce qu'il est en lui-même, en refusant de le prendre à la lettre et en lui faisant dire bien autre chose que ce qu'il entend tout bonnement raconter. Ce type d'herméneutique trouvera dans le stoïcisme et le néoplatonisme son expression la plus spectaculaire

  5. ^ Thomas Cole, The Origins of Rhetoric in Ancient Greece (1991), p.60: Nothing comparable survives from writers earlier than Protagoras and Parmenides. The earliest clear samples of allegorical narrative used rhetorically are thus later, by at least a generation, than allegorical interpretation itself (Theagenes) or rationalized and "corrected" mythological narrative (Stesichorus).

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