overplatoed his hand

Plato, courageous almost beyond belief, secure in his own literary powers, nevertheless appears to discard his own defensive irony when he rejects Homer in the Republic. Scholars of philosophy are not very wary in regard to Plato’s blunder, because (at their best) philosophy is for them a way of life. But Plato sought to replace Homer as the culture of Greece, which was as likely as demoting Shakespeare for the English-speaking world, Goethe for the Germans, Tolstoy for the Russians, Montaigne and Descartes for the French. I would add Walt Whitman for the New World, except that we have not yet learned how to read him, except for a handful: Thoreau, Hart Crane, Borges, Pessoa, Neruda.

—Harold Bloom, “The Greeks: Plato’s Contest with Homer,” Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? (Riverhead Books, 2004)

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