1st Edition

The Imagination of the Mind in Classical Athens Forms of Thought

Edited By Emily Clifford, Xavier Buxton Copyright 2024
    344 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the imaginative processes at work in the artefacts of Classical Athens. When ancient Athenians strove to grasp ‘justice’ or ‘war’ or ‘death’, when they dreamt or deliberated, how did they do it? Did they think about what they were doing? Did they imagine an imagining mind?

    European histories of the imagination have often begun with thinkers like Plato and Aristotle. By contrast, this volume is premised upon the idea that imaginative activity, and especially efforts to articulate it, can take place in the absence of technical terminology. In exploring an ancient culture of imagination mediated by art and literature, the book scopes out the roots of later, more explicit, theoretical enquiry. Chapters hone in on a range of visual and verbal artefacts from the Classical period. Approaching the topic from different angles – philosophical, historical, philological, literary, and art historical – they also investigate how these artefacts stimulate affective, sensory, meditative – in short, ‘imaginative’ – encounters between imagining bodies and their world.

    The Imagination of the Mind in Classical Athens offers a ground-breaking reassessment of ‘imagination’ in ancient Greek culture and thought: it will be essential reading for those interested in not only philosophies of mind, but also ancient Greek image, text, and culture more broadly.

    Introduction —Emily Clifford and Xavier Buxton; 1. How Far, How Close? Imagining the Battle of Cunaxa in Greek Historiography —Luuk Huitink; 2. The Realms of Fantasy: Aristotle on the Phenomenality of Mental Imagery —Pia Campeggiani; 3. Morbid Phantasies: the ‘After-Death’ and the Dead between Imagination and Perception —Karolina Sekita; 4. An Imagined and Imagining dēmos in Athenian Public Inscription —Leah Lazar; 5. Imagining Justice in the Athenian Lawcourt: Aeschines and Others —Guy Westwood; 6. Plato’s Creative Imagination —Zacharoula Petraki; 7. Imagining Death with Painted Pots —Emily Clifford; 8. Imagining Bodies with Gorgias —David Fearn; 9. Vigilance to the Point of Magic —Tom Phillips; 10. Performing the Mind: Aeschylus’ Suppliants and the Theatre of ‘Deep Thought’ —Xavier Buxton; Epilogue: The Ancient Imagination in Retrospect —Jaś Elsner and Michael Squire.


    Emily Clifford is Junior Research Fellow in Greek Mythology at Christ Church College in Oxford, UK. Her research examines visual and verbal media from the Greek and Roman worlds to build a cultural history of thinking and idea-formation, currently focusing on death. She is completing a monograph on culturally-mediated reflections on death in Classical Athens.

    Xavier Buxton is Teaching Fellow in Greek Language and Literature at the University of Warwick, UK. His research combines literary criticism and intellectual history to explore ways of thinking, especially thinking with emotions, in Classical Athens.