The Secret History

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What is the significance of the classical studies and Greek philosophy in the story? The Secret History
9 months ago | gizem

What is the significance of the classical studies and Greek philosophy in the story?

The significance of classical studies and Greek philosophy in "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt is multifaceted and central to the novel's themes, characters, and plot. Here are some key aspects of their significance:

  • Intellectual Elitism: Classical studies and Greek philosophy represent intellectual elitism in the novel. The characters believe that by immersing themselves in these fields, they set themselves apart from the average person, creating a sense of superiority. This intellectual elitism forms the basis for their self-justification of morally questionable actions.
  • Pursuit of Excellence: The characters in the story are deeply committed to achieving excellence in their studies, especially in the classics. This commitment reflects their desire to transcend mediocrity and achieve greatness, mirroring the ideals of ancient Greek philosophers and scholars.
  • Julian Morrow's Influence: Julian Morrow, the charismatic classics professor, serves as a catalyst for the characters' obsession with classical studies. His unconventional teaching methods and passionate reverence for the classics inspire and draw them into his world. His influence is central to the story, as he encourages them to push the boundaries of morality in their pursuit of intellectual and moral greatness.
  • Recreation of the Past: The characters' immersion in classical studies is an attempt to recreate the past, particularly the ancient Greek way of life. They seek to emulate the intellectual and hedonistic aspects of Greek culture, believing it to be a path to a more meaningful and extraordinary existence.
  • Parallel with Greek Tragedy: The novel's plot and themes bear similarities to Greek tragedy. The characters' hubris, moral transgressions, and inevitable downfall parallel the tragic elements found in classical Greek dramas. This connection underscores the novel's exploration of fate, morality, and the consequences of one's actions.
  • Themes of Beauty and Aesthetics: Greek philosophy often explored concepts of beauty and aesthetics, and these themes permeate the novel. The characters' appreciation for beauty and their pursuit of the ideal are reflected in their immersion in the classics and their desire to live an aesthetically pleasing life.
  • Philosophical Exploration: The characters engage in philosophical discussions throughout the novel, drawing on the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. These discussions touch on topics such as morality, the nature of truth, and the pursuit of happiness, enriching the intellectual texture of the story.
  • Irony and Paradox: The characters' deep involvement in classical studies leads to irony and paradox. They study the wisdom of ancient philosophers while simultaneously engaging in morally questionable acts, highlighting the tension between theory and practice.