The pursuit of death and the love of death has characterized Western culture from Homeric times through centuries of Christianity, taking particular deadly shapes in Western postmodernity. This necrophilia shows itself in destruction and violence, in a focus on other worlds and degradation of this one, and in hatred of the body, sense and sexuality. In her major new book project Death and the Displacement of Beauty, Grace M. Jantzen seeks to disrupt this wish for death, opening a new acceptance of beauty and desire that makes it possible to choose life.
Foundations of Violence enters the ancient world of Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle to explore the genealogy of violence in Western thought through its emergence in Greece and Rome. It uncovers origins of ideas of death from the 'beautiful death' of Homeric heroes to the gendered misery of war, showing the tensions between those who tried to eliminate fear of death by denying its significance, and those like Plotinus who looked to another world, seeking life and beauty in another realm.
'This is one of those books that can change the way people think. It's good training in critical thinking and history of ideas for upper level undergraduates and above, and a fascinating story for the sophisticated general reader.' - Reviews in Religion and Theology
Section 1: Beauty, Gender and Death 1. Redeeming the Present: The Therapy of Philosophy 2. Symptoms of a Deathly Symbolic 3. Denaturalizing Death 4. Towards a Poetics of Natality Section 2: Out of the Cave Introduction 5. The Rage of Achilles 6. Odysseus on the Barren Sea 7. The Murderous Misery of War 8. Whose Tragedy? 9. Parmenides Meets the Goddess 10. How to Give Birth Like a Man 11. The Open Sea of Beauty 12. The Fault Lines of Flourishing Section 3: Eternal Rome? Introduction 13. Anxiety about Nothing(ness): Lucretius and the Fear of Death 14. 'If We Wish to be Men': Roman Constructions of Gender 15. Valour and Gender in the Pax Augusta 16. Dissent in Rome 17. Stoical Death: Seneca's Conscience 18. Spectacles of Death 19. Violence to Eternity: Plotinus and the Mystical Way Bibliography