From nature to the ideal : a cross-disciplinary study of ancient Greek kairos, circa 3000-146 BCE

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Cardassilaris, Nicole Ruth
Rainieri, Paul W.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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This cross-disciplinary study investigates the ancient Greek concept of kairos in the sociocultural history of the ancient Greeks from 3000-146 BCE. Within this historical context, the dissertation attempts to isolate the story of kairos as it moves from being a concept learned through the Greeks’ direct experiences with their natural environment to becoming a technical term in the vocabulary related to rhetoric and civic discourse. As a cross-disciplinary study of kairos, the contents of this dissertation address how kairos has been accounted for in Classical studies, studies in the history of rhetoric, and the studies in the visual arts, which also demonstrates the broad spectrum of human agencies to which kairos has been connected in the history of the Greeks. The contents of each chapter asks “How kairos ought to be considered?” within the time span of 3000-146 BCE. Using visual and textual evidence from 3000-146 BCE as interpretive tools, the question of “How kairos ought to be considered?” is answered in this body of this work, and the answers reveal the early broad and natural organic state of kairos as “a moment in time” to a narrowed state of “opportune timing” in the disciplinary period of rhetoric. The contents of each chapter attempt to identify some key cultural concepts and constructs related to kairos upon which the thinkers, poets, and artists were establishing their ideological and educational aims.