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This book stems from the Mary Flexner Lectures in the Humanities at Bryn Mawr College, which I delivered in the autumn of 1982. I am grateful to Bryn Mawr College for the invitation and for the allocation of a generous subsidy that has helped make this book more affordable. I offer my thanks to Mary Patterson McPherson, President of Bryn Mawr, to Judith Shapiro, the Provost, and to Mary M. Dunn, Academic Deputy. Also to Ellen F. Reisner, Assistant to the President, and to Dr. Deborah A. Goldstein. Special thanks go to my esteemed colleagues at Bryn Mawr, most notably to Professors Mabel Lang, Richard Hamilton, and Gregory W. Dickerson. I have fond memories of lively exchanges with them and other colleagues, especially in the Pindar seminar that I was invited to conduct during my stay at Bryn Mawr. Among those who attended the seminar sessions was the late Richmond Lattimore, whose kind interest I recall with nostalgia.
I wish to record my deep gratitude to all those who gave me advice at various stages in the evolution of this book. They include Margaret Alexiou, Nancy Andrews, Danielle Arnold, Mary Moffitt Aycock, Ann Batchelder, Victor Bers, Deborah Boedeker, Martha Cowan, Gregory Crane, Olga Davidson, Marian Demos, Carol Dougherty-Glenn, Robert O. Doyle, Thomas J. Figueira, John M. Foley, Douglas Frame, John Hamilton, Albert Henrichs, Thomas Hubbard, Leslie Kurke, Vassilis Lambropoulos, Nicole Loraux, Albert B. Lord, Richard P. Martin, Kenneth Morrell, Leonard Muellner, Michael Nagler, Blaise Nagy, Joseph Nagy, Sarah Nolan, Hayden Pelliccia, Dan Petegorsky, William Race, Ian Rutherford, James Shirky, Dale Sinos, Laura Slatkin, Nancy Sultan, Holly Thomas, Emily Vermeule, Brent Vine, Calvert Watkins, Michael Witzel.
A compressed version of many of the ideas formulated in this book appeared in a chapter entitled “Ancient Greek Views on Poets and Poetry,” part of volume 1 of the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, edited by George Kennedy.
The final printed version of this book was achieved by Gary Bisbee, master compositor and scholar.
Finally, I dedicate this book to my genial son, László, whose radiant company has been for me a priceless treasure.