Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Committee Chair

Donal Harris

Committee Member

Daniel Larkin

Committee Member

William Duffy


American Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are known primarily for their poetry and essays, and much has been published concerning the ideas contained in these works. One commonly identified source of intellectual inspiration for these writers is Plato. While much has been written on Emerson's interpretations and adaptations of Plato's metaphysics, as well as on the way in which Thoreau takes up these and other ideas from Emerson, little has been written about the various ways in which Thoreau and Emerson are interpreting and responding to Plato's theories of poetry and inspiration. Indeed, even within Platonic studies, it has frequently been argued that Plato does not take divine inspiration or poetry seriously as sources of philosophical understanding. Yet, when we look closely at several of Plato's dialogues, especially the Phaedrus and Symposium, we will find that not only does Plato take divinely inspired poetry seriously as a source of philosophical understanding, but also, Emerson and Thoreau's works exhibit considerable attention to these aspects of Plato's work.


Undergraduate Honor's Thesis

Library Comment

Honors thesis originally submitted to the Local University of Memphis Honor’s Thesis Repository.