Typification in the ancient Greek philosophers’ biography: the construction of a preconceived image


Sergi Grau Guijarro


Espíritu: ISSN 0014-0716, Year 59, Issue 140 (jul-dec), 2010, pages 435-492




Ancient Greek biographers worked within a mental framework, close to myth, with a tendency to typify every single character in order to make sense universally for their communities. We can also discover this main feature of the ancient biographers in ancient biographies of Greek philosophers, especially in the Lives and tenets of the most illustrious philosophers by Diogenes Laertius. In this paper, I want to expose the theoretical assumptions of some mechanisms in the generation and the recurrence of these typified narrations that I have called biographemes. For biographeme I mean the real typified form that enables the past to become stereotype, to set and organize the past into memorable narrative patterns, in order to confer universal, collective sense to an individual life. Every biographeme is then a little independent cell with recursive anecdotal material, within which set patterns of historical reality is essentially adapted.

Key words:

Ancient Greek biography of philosophers, Diogenes Laertius, typified narrative, biographical patterns



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