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July 30 - October 9, 2018
Section II (a pink tab): ARISTOTLE_POETICS
"Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and
these men must be either of a higher or a lower type
(for moral character mainly answers to these divisions,
goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of
moral differences), it follows that we must represent
men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or
as they are. It is the same in painting. Polygnotus
depicted men as nobler than they are, Pauson as less
noble, Dionysius drew them true to life."
There's a "the market will go up unless it goes down"
quality to a lot of Aristotle's observations, but at
least he's not a "the market can go nowhere but up!"
type: he concedes it's valid for artwork to depict the
worst (in fact literally, he seems to be saying it's
okay to exaggerate the worst-- e.g. villains more
villanous than the real ones?).
In the translator's notes, Butcher is at pains to
make it clear that "men in action" covers more than Say what you will
you might think, including thinking fellers such as about the clumsiness
himself. of greek literary
Butcher also says some (mildly incoherent) things is tight, clear and
about the word "imitation", making the point that on point, compared
while someone like Plato might've meant it in a to Butcher's
derisive way (mere imitation), Aristotle's attitude commentary which is
towards it was more complimentary. around 5x the length
of the original.
According to Butcher, the Greeks name for what we
might call the "fine arts" (as opposed to *useful*
ones, eh?) was the "imitative arts"--
(Which makes me wonder what the word was he's
translating as "imitation"... mimesis? How can
it be that Butcher skipped spelling that out?
He loves to show off his Greek...)
From Section II (a green tab):
"The same distinction marks
off Tragedy from Comedy; for
Comedy aims at representing That's Greek tragedy, of course. In
men as worse, Tragedy as Shakespearian tragedy human beings
better than in actual life." are depicted as complete morons.
I mean, flawed individuals.
At the end of Section II:
"Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we
delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute
fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble The monster imitated
animals and of dead bodies." is the monster tamed.
We show our superiority
to it by relaxed
From Section IV:
"Imitation, then, is one instinct of our
nature. Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony'
and rhythm, metres being manifestly sections of
rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this Here we have Aristotle
natural gift developed by degrees their special introducing the fine art
aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave of projecting fantasies
birth to Poetry." on pre-history and
recording them as fact.
This portrait of poetry
evolving could be
correct... but on the
(Note that Homer
predated Aristotle by
over 800 years.)
From Section XXV:
"The poet being an imitator,
like a painter or any other
artist, must of necessity
imitate one of three
o "things as they were or are,"
o "things as they are said or thought to be, or"
o "things as they ought to be." More confirmation
that Doris Day
movies are not
History, Belief or Ideal poetry.
"... Sophocles said that he
drew men as they ought to be;
Euripides, as they are."
The third point, Ideal, is the one
I'm more interested in: the
question isn't is fiction modeled
on life, the question is, is it a
model for life.
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