1447aΠερὶ ποιητικῆς αὐτῆς τε καὶ τῶν εἰδῶν αὐτῆς, ἥν Iτινα δύναμιν ἕκαστον ἔχει, καὶ πῶς δεῖ συνίστασθαι τοὺς μύθους εἰ μέλλει καλῶς ἕξειν ἡ ποίησις, ἔτι δὲ ἐκ 10πόσων καὶ ποίων ἐστὶ μορίων, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὅσα τῆς αὐτῆς ἐστι μεθόδου, λέγωμεν ἀρξάμενοι κατὰ φύσιν πρῶτον ἀπὸ τῶν πρώτων.
ἐποποιία δὴ καὶ ἡ τῆς τραγῳδίας ποίησις ἔτι δὲ κωμῳδία καὶ ἡ διθυραμβοποιητικὴ καὶ τῆς αὐλητικῆς 15ἡ πλείστη καὶ κιθαριστικῆς πᾶσαι τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι μιμήσεις τὸ σύνολον· διαφέρουσι δὲ ἀλλήλων τρισίν, ἢ γὰρ τῷ ἐν1 ἑτέροις μιμεῖσθαι ἢ τῷ ἕτερα ἢ τῷ ἑτέρως καὶ μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον. ὥσπερ γὰρ καὶ χρώμασι καὶ σχήμασι πολλὰ μιμοῦνταί τινες ἀπεικάζοντες (οἱ μὲν διὰ τέχνης οἱ δὲ διὰ συνηθείας), 20ἕτεροι δὲ διὰ τῆς φωνῆς, οὕτω κἀν ταῖς εἰρημέναις τέχναις ἅπασαι μὲν ποιοῦνται τὴν μίμησιν ἐν ῥυθμῷ καὶ λόγῳ καὶ ἁρμονίᾳ, τούτοις δ᾿ ἢ χωρὶς ἢ μεμιγμένοις·
We are to discuss both poetry in general and the capacity of each of its genres; the canons of plot construction needed for poetic excellence; also the number and character of poetry’s components, together with the other topics which belong to the same enquiry—beginning, as is natural, from first principles.
Now, epic and tragic poetry, as well as comedy, dithyramb,1 and most music for aulos2 and lyre, are all, taken as a whole, kinds of mimesis.3 But they differ from one another in three respects: namely, by producing mimesis in different media, of different objects, or in different modes. Just as people (some by formal skill, others by a knack) use colours and shapes to render mimetic images of many things, while others again use the voice,4 so too all the poetic arts mentioned produce mimesis in rhythm, language, and melody, whether separately or in combinations.
- 1A major genre of choral lyric, performed in honour of Dionysus; cf. 49a10–11 for its relation to tragedy.
- 2A reed pipe (akin to an oboe) used to accompany parts of drama and some other forms of poetry, but also for purely instrumental music; cf. 48a9, 61a18, b31.
- 3The foundational aesthetic concept of the Poetics; my translation generally retains the Greek noun, but sometimes, to avoid awkwardness, I use the verb “represent.” See the Introduction.
- 4For vocal mimicry, including that of actors; cf. Rh. 1404a21–3.