The essay argues that ancient authors provide fascinating material for the re-awakened interest in aesthetic experience. Their emphasis on the immersive power of art can stimulate an aesthetic theory that tries to recover from the diet prescribed by poststructuralism, Critical Theory and the mainstream of analytical philosophy. Exemplary readings of an archaic epic, the Odyssey, and a late antique novel, the Ethiopica, drive home that narrative is more than a means of representation (as opposed to presence); it also has the capacity to trigger experiences in its recipients. While highlighting the spell that narrative can cast on its recipients, Homer and Heliodorus remain aware of the “as-if” that distinguishes aesthetic experiences from real-life experiences. Of course, the meditations of ancient authors do not fully map onto our current debate. Yet, it is the very chasm that allows ancient texts to cast light on present concerns, as an attempt to mediate between the caveats of historical semantics and the transhistorical claims of phenomenology shows


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pp. 309-333
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