This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
‘And (metaphors should be taken) from things fair and noble (subaudi δεῖ λαβεῖν μεταφοράς): but the beauty of a word (especially a noun, which can represent some visible or audible object), as Licymnius says, resides either in the sound or the sense (the thing signified), and the ugliness in like manner’. When Aristotle wrote τὸ μὲν, he seems to have intended to introduce τὸ δέ to correspond as the second member of the division, which was afterwards carelessly changed into ἤ. It is surprising however that he never corrected such palpable blunders as these, for which he must have had frequent opportunities. Did he think that they were of no consequence in writing, of which the object was instruction only? He says at any rate, III 1. 6, that no one pays much attention to style in teaching geometry. ἀπὸ καλῶν] Cic. de Or. III 41. 163, seq. Et quoniam haec vel summa laus est in verbis transferendis ut sensum feriat id quod translatum sit, fugienda omnis turpitudo earum rerum ad quas eorum animos qui audient trahet similitudo. Nolo dici morte Africani castratam esse rempublicam; nolo stercus curiae dici Glauciam: quamvis sit simile, tamen est in utroque deformis cogitatio similitudinis. Quint., VIII 6. 14—17, quotes the line of Furius Bibaculus (Hor. Sat. II 5.41), Iuppiter hibernas cana nive conspuit Alpes. κάλλος δὲ ὀνόματος] Theophrastus, according to Demetrius περὶ ἑρμηνείας, §§ 173—5 (Rhet. Gr. III 300, ed. Spengel), recognised three sources of beauty in words, (1) the appeal to the sight, the direct suggestion of beautiful objects by the words which are associated with them; (2) to the ear, by the sound of the words themselves; and thirdly διάνοια, by the ‘meaning’ or ‘sense’, Licymnius' σημαινόμενον, and Aristotle's δυνάμει the vis, virtue, force, i. e. significance, its power of suggestion. These are illustrated by Demetrius, l. c., the first by ῥοδόχροον, ἀνθοφόρου χρόας: the second by Καλλίστρατος, Ἀννοῶν, (the λλ and νν seem to have pleased his ear): and the third by ἀρχαῖος as compared with παλαιός, the former being suggestive of higher and nobler associations: οἱ γὰρ ἀρχαῖοι ἄνδρες ἐντιμότεροι. It seems from this that the distinction between the first and third of these sources of beauty in a word is that the first is the direct suggestion, by word-painting, of a beautiful object of sight, as a rosy cheek or skin: the third is the remoter suggestion of beauty, by inference from association, as ἀρχαῖος suggests worth and respect; this form of suggestion has an intellectual character, and is therefore represented by Theophrastus as διάνοια. To the direct suggestions of sight in the first class, Aristotle afterwards adds all the other senses—as music to the ear, a well-remembered flavour to the palate, smell to the nose, soft and warm things to the touch. The second of the three, is the actual sound of the word, suggesting nothing else; Licymnius' ψόφοι, and Theophrastus' and Demetrius' πρὸς ἀκοήν. τοῖς ψόφοις] There are [as already remarked supra p. 12, on I § 9, διάλεκτος], three degrees of sound in an ascending scale. The first and lowest is ψόφος ‘noise’, such as even inanimate things are capable of when struck. The second is voice, φωνη or φθόγγος, (as distinguished from speech,) which is shared by all animals that have a throat. The third is distinctive of the human race, διάλεκτος (sometimes called λογός), discourse, articulate speech. ψόφος as distinguished from φωνή will include all sounds which, though human, do not proceed from the voice and organs of speech: such as sneezing, coughing, hissing, whistling (ποππυσμός) and so on. These particulars are taken from two passages, Ar. Hist. Anim. IV 9, 535 a 27—b 3, and Dion. de Comp. Verb. c. 14 (p. 72, Reiske). Of sound, ψόφος, in its most general sense, as the object of hearing, see de Anima II 8. De Sens. c. 3, init. Ib. c. 1, 437 a 10. Hist. An. I 1. 29, 488 a 31, seq., of the distinctions of animals, in respect of the sounds they make. What is known of Licymnius, I have collected in Camb. Fourn. of Cl. and Sacred Phil. No. IX Vol. III pp. 255—7. [Plato Phaedrus p. 267 C, τὰ δὲ Πώλου πῶς φράσωμεν μουσεῖα λόγων...ὀνομάτων τε Λικυμνίων, α<*> ἐκείνῳ ἐδωρήσατο πρὸς ποίησιν εὐεπείας. Blass, die Attische Beredsamkeit. I 75, 76.] ‘And again thirdly (a third observation upon metaphors), which solves (furnishes an answer to, serves to refute) the sophistical argument (theory or position); for it is not true, as Bryson said, that no one ever uses (that there is no such thing as) foul or indecent language, if (if—as the case really is, i. e. since or because) the same thing is signified by saying this or that (by using the broad word or disguising it by a veil of ὑποκορισμός), for this is false: for one term is more properly applied to an object than another (represents it more literally and directly), and is more assimilated to it, and more nearly akin to it, by setting the thing more directly before the eyes (and so making it more vivid, striking, and impressive）’. Of Bryson, I have collected what is known in Camb. Journ. of Cl. and Sacred Phil. No. v Vol. II pp. 143—6. In this dogma of the impossibility of indecent language he seems to have anticipated the Stoics—see Cicero's famous letter to Paetus on this Stoic libertas loquendi, u. s. p. 144 note. Suo quamque rem nomine appellare was their statement of this ‘liberty’, to call everything its right and proper name without shame or disguise, to call a spade a spade, to use the language of a Swift or Aristophanes. Aristotle answers Bryson by a simple denial of the fact. It is not true that there is no difference in the use of words in respect of their moral effect upon us; the broad and literal expression presents the abomination much more vividly and impressively to the mind, naked as it were, than the same notion when half hidden from the view by a decent veil which conceals a great deal of its deformity. On this subject of plain speaking, besides Cicero's letter to Paetus (ad Div. IX 22), already referred to, see Cic. de Off. I 35. 128 where the Stoics are again introduced. Cicero takes the moral and delicate side of the question. Eth. N. IV 14, 1128 a 23, ἴδοι δ᾽ ἄν τις καὶ ἐκ τῶν κωμωδιῶν τῶν παλαιῶν καὶ τῶν καινῶν: τοῖς μὲν ἦν γελοῖον ἡ αἰσχρολογία, τοῖς δὲ μᾶλλον ἡ ὑπόνοια (the covert insinuation: this is the difference between coarse and refined indelicacy). Ar.'s opinion upon the subject is given much more strongly and decidedly, Pol. IV (VII) 17, 1336 b 3, ὅλως μὲν οὖν αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως, εἴπερ ἄλλο τι, δεῖ τὸν νομοθέτην ἐξορίζειν: ἐκ τοῦ γὰρ εὐχερῶς λέγειν ὁτιοῦν τῶν αἰσχρῶν γίνεται καὶ τὸ ποιεῖν σύνεγγυς. Perhaps one of the wisest observations the author ever made. Comp. Quint. VI 3.29. ‘And besides, it is not under the same conditions and circumstances that it signifies this or that, so that on this ground again we must assume that one (mode of expression) is fairer or fouler than another: for though both of them do express (or signify) beauty and deformity, yet not qua beautiful and deformed (in so far as they are beautiful and the reverse, and in no other respect）: or, if the latter also, at all events in different degrees’. These two different effects of αἰσχρολογία seem to be thus distinguishable. We are first told that the use of the broad word is offensive because it suggests directly and immediately, paints on the mind a vivid picture of the ugly, foul or impure object: nothing is said of any further, indirect, associations connected with it, and the bad effect arises solely from the strength or vividness of the impure or ugly impression. But in the second case the effect of the plain speaking and its associations is contrasted with those that may be produced by softening the term, or employing one which signifies the same thing, but suggests an entirely different and innocent set of associations. As in the instances given by Cic. in de Off. I 35. 128 liberis dare operam. Here all the associations which would be at once suggested by the broad, obscene word, are diverted, and another set introduced, connected solely with children, as the result of the intercourse, and perfectly free from all impurity. In the one case it is the mere comparison of strength and intensity that makes the difference, in the other there is a difference of kind. ‘The fair term and the foul term it is true mean the same thing, point to the same object, but not in respect of beauty and deformity alone simply and solely (ᾗ), but besides that, there are associations suggested by which the one may be invested with a moral and the other with an immoral character, either altogether, or at all events in different degrees’: ἄμφω γάρ...μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον. An example of these words suggestive of unpleasant associations which are willingly avoided by the well-bred and refined under the name of αἰσχρολογία, is to be found in Plat. Gorg. 494 c, where Socrates is made to apologise to Callicles for shocking him by the use of terms such as ψωρᾶν, κνησιᾶν. ‘These are the sources from which metaphors may be taken; from things beautiful either by the voice (the sound of the word itself when uttered), or by the force or meaning’ (what it indirectly suggests: as δύνασθαι, to have the power, force, virtue, when applied to words, denotes their ‘value’, in the sense of meaning or signification, see note on I 9.36; so δύναμις the subst. may of course be similarly employed), ‘or by (i.e. conveyed by) the sight or any other sense’. These terms have been already explained. ὄψει ἢ ἄλλῃ τινὶ αἰσθήσει is illustrated by Victorius from Cic. de Or. III 40.161, Nam ut odor urbanitatis, et mollitudo humanitatis, et murmur maris, et dulcedo orationis, sunt ducta a ceteris sensibus; illa vero oculorum multo acriora, quae ponunt paene in conspectu animi quae cernere et videre non possumus. ‘But it is preferable (διαφέρει here, to surpass, excel) to say rose-fingered dawn, rather than purple-fingered, or, still worse, red-fingered.’ The latter suggests cooks' hands, or other vulgar associations. The rose on the contrary reminds one of what is agreeable to the sight, and the smell. Add to this from Campbell, Phil. of Rhet., Bk. III ch. I § 1, (Vol. II p. 142, 2nd ed.), that the last of the three epithets compared is the vaguest and most general, and therefore the worst: the second better, because more special; and the first best of all, because the most particular, the red (purple Campbell says) of the rose. He also mentions the gratification of the two senses.
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.