Aristotle's Art of Poetry: A Greek View of Poetry and Drama

Aristotle's Art of Poetry: A Greek View of Poetry and Drama

Aristotle's Art of Poetry: A Greek View of Poetry and Drama

Aristotle's Art of Poetry: A Greek View of Poetry and Drama

Excerpt

The Poetics of Aristotle has a long and famous life, which began about 330 B.C. In later Greek and in Latin literature, although there are traces of its influence, we do not hear much of it. In the Middle Ages it was known and amply misunderstood by Syrian and Arabic scholars. Its modern life begins in Italy at the end of the fifteenth century. Since then it has been translated and edited and annotated in every century and in many languages, attaining at times the authority of a holy writ, the doctrines of which were received with more reverence than understanding. It is still alive, because it is a study of a great art by a peculiarly acute, learned, and methodical critic. It is the first work of literary criticism and it is written by the world's first scientist.

Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. at Stagira (Stavros) in Chalcidice at the north end of the Aegean Sea and about forty miles east of Salonika. His father was court physician to King Amyntas of Macedon, a fact to which Aristotle owed his association with Alexander the Great and his habit of viewing all subjects from the angle of biology. Indeed he had medical traditions through his mother also; dissection was in his blood. At the age of seventeen he began what we should call his University education and studied for twenty years at Plato's 'Academy'. Then after five years of travel and teaching among the Aegean islands and in Asia Minor he was chosen by King Philip of Macedon as tutor to his son, Alexander, aged thirteen. He held this post for seven years . . .

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