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Viewed diachronically, classic refers to the literature, sculpture, and architecture of Athens of the 5th and 3rd centuries BC, and of Rome of the late republic and early Empire. Viewed synchronically, classic implies values of form, restraint, and order. It is aware of intertextuality. One may dispute the Vergilian view, in which the classic work glorifies values unaffected by time or place, and consider a Barthian view, in which the classic appeals to us in terms of its elasticity - an art of the signifier and not of the signified.

It is characterized by qualities of Heiterkeit (serenity) and Allgemeinheit (universality) -Winkelmann