Plutarch's essay 'How to Study Poetry' offers a set of reading practices intended to remove the potential damage that poetry can do to the moral health of young readers. It opens a window on to a world of ancient education and scholarship which can seem rather alien to those brought up in the highly sophisticated world of modern literary theory and criticism. The full Introduction and Commentary, by two of the world's leading scholars in the field, trace the origins and intellectual affiliations of Plutarch's method and fully illustrate the background to each of his examples. As such this book may serve as an introduction to the whole subject of ancient reading practices and literary criticism. The Commentary also pays particular attention to grammar, syntax and style, and sets this essay within the context of Plutarch's thought and writing more generally.
Richard Hunter is Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught since 1978, and a Fellow of Trinity College. His most recent books include The Shadow of Callimachus (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Critical Moments in Classical Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Many of his essays have been collected in On Coming After: Studies in Post-Classical Greek Literature and its Reception (2008). He holds an honorary degree from the University of Thessaloniki, and is a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens and an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Donald Russell taught ancient literature at St John's College, Oxford for many years, and is one of the world's best known scholars in the fields of ancient criticism and rhetoric. Among his many publications, of particular relevance to the current project are his editions of Longinus' 'On the Sublime' (published 1964) and Quintilian (published 2001), and the monographs Plutarch (2nd edition, 2001) and Criticism in Antiquity (2nd edition, 2001). He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1971.