Aristotle, Poetics

LCL 199: 30-31

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οἷον ἁρμονίᾳ μὲν καὶ ῥυθμῷ χρώμεναι μόνον ἥ τε αὐλητικὴ καὶ ἡ κιθαριστικὴ κἂν εἴ τινες ἕτεραι τυγχάνωσιν οὖσαι τοιαῦται2 τὴν δύναμιν, οἷον ἡ τῶν 25συρίγγων, αὐτῷ δὲ τῷ ῥυθμῷ3 χωρὶς ἁρμονίας ἡ4 τῶν ὀρχηστῶν (καὶ γὰρ οὗτοι διὰ τῶν σχηματιζομένων ῥυθμῶν μιμοῦνται καὶ ἤθη καὶ πάθη καὶ πράξεις)· ἡ δὲ5 μόνον τοῖς λόγοις ψιλοῖς ἢ τοῖς μέτροις καὶ τούτοις 1447bεἴτε μιγνῦσα μετ᾿ ἀλλήλων εἴθ᾿ ἑνί τινι γένει χρωμένη τῶν μέτρων ἀνώνυμος6 τυγχάνει οὖσα7 μέχρι τοῦ νῦν· οὐδὲν γὰρ ἂν ἔχοιμεν ὀνομάσαι κοινὸν 10τοὺς Σώφρονος καὶ Ξενάρχου μίμους καὶ τοὺς Σωκρατικοὺς λόγους, οὐδὲ εἴ τις διὰ τριμέτρων ἢ ἐλεγείων ἢ τῶν ἄλλων τινῶν τῶν τοιούτων ποιοῖτο τὴν μίμησιν. πλὴν οἱ ἄνθρωποί γε συνάπτοντες τῷ μέτρῳ τὸ ποιεῖν ἐλεγειοποιοὺς τοὺς δὲ ἐποποιοὺς ὀνομάζουσιν, οὐχ ὡς κατὰ τὴν μίμησιν ποιητὰς ἀλλὰ κοινῇ 15κατὰ τὸ μέτρον προσαγορεύοντες· καὶ γὰρ ἂν ἰατρικὸν ἢ φυσικόν8 τι διὰ τῶν μέτρων ἐκφέρωσιν, οὕτω καλεῖν εἰώθασιν· οὐδὲν δὲ κοινόν ἐστιν Ὁμήρῳ καὶ Ἐμπεδοκλεῖ πλὴν τὸ μέτρον, διὸ τὸν μὲν ποιητὴν



That is, melody and rhythm alone are used by music for aulos and lyre, and by any other types with this capacity, for example music for panpipes; rhythm on its own, without melody, is used by the art of dancers (since they too, through rhythms translated into movements, create mimesis of character, emotions,5 and actions); while the art which uses either plain language or metrical forms (whether combinations of these, or some one class of metres) remains so far unnamed.6 For we have no common name to give to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus7 and to Socratic dialogues; nor even to any mimesis that might be produced in iambic trimesters8 or elegiac couplets9 or any other such metres. Of course, people attach the verbal idea of “poetry” [poiein] to the name of the metre, and call some “elegiac poets,” others “epic poets.” But this is not to classify them as poets because of mimesis, but because of the metre they share: hence, if writers express something medical or scientific in metre, people still usually apply these terms. But Homer and Empedocles10 have nothing in common except their

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-poetics.1995