previous next
[1447b] [1] either in one kind of metre or combining several, happens up to the present day to have no name. For we can find no common term to apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus1 and to the Socratic dialogues: nor again supposing a poet were to make his representation in iambics or elegiacs or any other such metre—except that people attach the word poet(maker)to the name of the metre and speak of elegiac poets and of others as epic poets. Thus they do not call them poets in virtue of their representation but apply the name indiscriminately in virtue of the metre. For if people publish medical or scientific treatises in metre the custom is to call them poets. But Homer and Empedocles2 have nothing in common except the metre, so that it would be proper to call the one a poet and the other not a poet but a scientist. [20] Similarly if a man makes his representation by combining all the metres, as Chaeremon did when he wrote his rhapsody The Centaur, a medley of all the metres, he too should be given the name of poet.3 On this point the distinctions thus made may suffice.

There are certain arts which employ all the means which I have mentioned, such as rhythm and tune and metre—dithyrambic and "nomic" poetry,4 for example, and tragedy too and comedy. The difference here is that some use all these at once, others use now one now another. These differences then in the various arts I call the means of representation.

1 Sophron and Xenarchus, said to he father and son, lived in Syracuse, the elder a contemporary of Euripides. They wrote "mimes," i.e., simple and usually farcical sketches of familiar incidents, similar to the mimes of Herondas and the fifteenth Idyll of Theocritus, but in prose. There was a tradition that their mimes suggested to Plato the use of dialogue.

2 Empedocles (floruit 445 B.C.) expressed his philosophical and religious teaching in hexameter verse, to which Aristotle elsewhere attributes genuine value as poetry, but it is here excluded from the ranks of poetry because the object is definitely.

3 Chaeremon was a tragedian and rhapsodist. The Centaur was apparently an experiment which might be classed as either drama or epic. Cf. Aristot. Poet. 24.11.

4 The traditional definition is that the Dithyramb was sung to a flute accompaniment by a chorus in honor of Dionysus; and that the Nome was a solo sung to a harp accompaniment in honor of Apollo, but it is not clear that Aristotle regarded the Dithyramb as restricted to the worship of Dionysus. Timotheus's dithyramb mentioned in Aristot. Poet. 15.8 cannot have been Dionysiac. But there is good evidence to show that the dithyramb was primarily associated with Dionysus.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1966)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Syracuse (Italy) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
445 BC (1)
hide References (19 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: