Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poetics 1447a

Concerning the poetic art -- both itself and its forms, what unique power each has, and how it's necessary to combine the stories if one intends to have poetry beautifully, and out of how many and of what sorts are (its) proper parts, and similarly concerning the others inasmuch as it is of (the same line of) inquiry -- let us speak from the first of the first things according to nature.

Epic poetry and the poetry of tragedy, and also comedy and the art of the dithyrambic poetry, most of the art of the aulos and the art of the cithara, all happen to be, altogether, imitations; but they (imitations) differ from one another in three ways, for (they differ) either by being imitations in (en) different things, of different things, or differently and not in the same manner. For just as some who make semblances imitate many things by colors and figures (some through art and some through convention) and others through the voice[1], so also in the arts spoken of[2] all make the imitation in rhythm and speech and harmony, but these either apart or mixed together, as, for example, both the art of the aulos and the art of the cithara and whatever power happens to be such as these[3], such as the pipes, use harmony and rhythm alone. But the art[4] of the dancers imitates[5] the rhythm itself apart from harmony, for they also imitate, by the arrangement of the rhythms, characters, experiences, and actions. But the art which by bare speeches alone and the one (using) measures, either mixing with the one another or using some one genus of measures, are until now without names. . . .

[1] Christ's text, which I'm using, has "tes phuseos" instead of "tes phones," which would require the translation "nature" instead of "the voice."
[2] Christ breaks the sentence differently than most. He ends 1447a21 after "technais," and begins the next sentence with "hapasai," which runs until 1447a28, where it ends (with a semicolon) after "praxeis." My translation doesn't follow Christ's text here.
[3] Bracketed by Christ.
[4] Supplied by the eta, which I think elides "techne."
[5] Bracketed by Christ (and others).
[6] Bracketed by Christ.

1 comment:

Thorgersen said...

A brief note: where you read "technais" with the feminine articles I read "mimeseis". I'm not sure if it is a truly significant distinction because the referrent is the same thing (by both "technais" and "mimeseis" he is referring to those "poeiseis" which are the subject of the word), but is somewhat important: in this context is Ar. thinking of these crafts primarily as "imitations" or "skills"?