The layout of this thesis begins with a chapter on the evaluation of Aristotle’s defense of poetry as a useful form of art that promotes philosophical contemplation and moral progression. In order for poetry to have such an effect, it must have certain form, arrangement and end. Further, it must imitate aspects of reality, it must represent the universal and the particular, arouse certain emotions like fear and pity, and must be cathartic. These necessary fundamentals of poetry are needed for an effective training of moral judgments and virtue. The second chapter concentrates on six Platonic pieces that regard the “ancient quarrel” between poetry and philosophy. This section offers a different account of poetry and its effectiveness as an art in society. In this light, poetry should be used with caution, reason, and philosophy. Plato’s theory suggests that poetry should imitate truth regarding the Forms and should refrain from representing or inspiring irrational behavior for fear of harming the soul and causing disorder in society. In the third chapter, Virgil’s Aeneid serves as a test case that might exemplify these major philosophical claims of poetry, rhetoric, knowledge, and virtues. The experiment will ultimately reveal whether or not the epic passes for a valid philosophical composition of poetry for moral improvement. There are select passages I translate into Latin and interpret while further examining the philosophical implications of the epic. This last chapter also includes my account of how Plato and Aristotle might receive and respond to the epic leading to the conclusion that the Aeneid does offer society a favorable experience of philosophical contemplation and understanding of human nature.


Shaya, Josephine

Second Advisor

Schiltz, Elizabeth


Classical Studies; Philosophy


Ancient Philosophy | Classical Literature and Philology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Danielle A. Aviles