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in the downfall of Ilium as the subject of one tragedy,
and not, like Euripides, a single phase to a play, or the
entire legend of Niobe, instead of a portion, like Aes-
chylus ; for they have all either utterly failed, or at best
made a poor showing on the stage. Even Agathon [who
has been praised (p. 5 2) for his delineation of Achilles]
failed simply on this account. [An objection may be
lodged against Antony and Cleopatra on the ground
that Shakespeare has, here compressed materials suffi-
cient for an epic into a tragedy. Of course the scale of
plays like this and King Lear is larger than that of
Attic tragedy.]

Contemporary poets, however, show marvellous skill Further criti-

_ , ,1 . , , . . cism of the

m constructing Reversals, and also unmvolved situations, later Greek

Tr3.£rcclv

with a view to producing the effects they desire, their
aim being to arouse the tragic emotions and a general
human sympathy. This sympathy is aroused when a
hero combining intelligence with villainy, like Sisyphus,
is outwitted, or when one is brought low who is brave
and unjust. [Such cases, reminding us of Shakespeare's
Richard the Third, are not typical, however — that is,
in the Aristotelian sense, not ' probable '.] The outcome



64 ARISTOTLE

is probable only in Agathon's sense : it is likely, he
says, that many unlikely things will occur.

The poet The Chorus should be regarded as one of the actors ;

the Chorus it should be an integral part of the whole, and take its

actors " share in the action. The model is the practice of Soph-
ocles, and not Euripides. In subsequent poets the choral
songs in a tragedy have no more connection with the
plot than with that of any other play. Accordingly, at
the present day, the Chorus sing mere interludes, a
practice that goes back to Agathon. And yet, what real
difference is there between introducing a song that is
foreign to the action and attempting to fit a speech, or
a whole episode, from one drama into another ?

Chapter 19 The Other formative elements of Tragedy (pp. 21-23)
have now been discussed [especially Plot and Ethos],
and it remains to speak of Diction and Intellect.

onDianoia, As for the Intellectual element, we may assume what

consult Aris- . . , ^ . . , ^, . ....

totie'swork IS Said ot it m the treatise on Rhetoric, to which in-

on Rhetoric • j . ■ i i i ^t i

quiry the topic more properly belongs. [In that treatise,
Aristotle says : ' Rhetoric rfiay be defined as a faculty
of discovering all the possible means of persuasion in
any subject.'] The Intellectual element includes every-
thing that is to be effected by the language of the agents
— in their efforts to prove and to refute ; to arouse one
another's emotions, such as pity, or fear, or anger, or
the like ; and to exaggerate or to discount the impor-
tance of things. [One may illustrate thus : Shakespeare
makes Claudius attempt to prove to Hamlet that his
grief for his father is obstinate ; .he makes lago work
upon the jealousy of Othello ; Sophocles makes Jocasta
minimize the importance of calling the Herdsman.



THE ART OF POETRY 65

Beneath what Claudius, lago, and Jocasta say Ues the
Intellectual element. The poet must employ and repre-
sent it in the right way.] It is evident, too, that the same
underlying forms of thought must be in operation when-
ever the poet makes the agents try by their acts to arouse
pity or alarm in one another, or to give these acts an
air of importance or naturalness. [If Shakespeare makes
Hamlet wish his actions to seem strange, then beneath
what Hamlet does, as well as beneath what he says, lies
the Intellectual element.] The only difference is that The poet's
the act must produce its effect on the other personages manoia in
without verbal explanation ; whereas if a speech be em- I^ent says
ployed, the author must see to it that the effect is pro- "'' ^""^
duced by the agent's speaking, and that it comes from
the particular language the agent uses ; for what point
would there be in having A make a speech if B already
saw things in the desired light, quite apart from any-
thing that might be said 1

Among the subjects of inquiry bearing on Diction, one Diction
is the Modes of Spoken Utterance, including such mat-
ters as the difference between a command and a prayer, a
simple statement and a threat, a question and an answer,
and so forth. A knowledge of such distinctions, how- Remote con-

....... . ^ , . e siSerations

ever, falls withm the provmce of the interpreter, not 01
the poet, and is the concern of the general theorist on
some art like Elocution. Whether the poet knows these
things, or is ignorant of them, they do not directly touch
his art, nor do they offer any ground for objections that
are worth considering. For example, why should any
one find fault with the opening of the Iliad: ' Sing,
Goddess, of the wrath ', etc. .? — to which Protagoras



66



ARISTOTLE



Chapter 20



Diction
proper, as
related to
the Art of
Poetry



The Parts of
Diction



1. The Ulti-
mate Ele-
ment, or
Letter



Vowels,
Semivowels,
and Mutes



objected on the ground that, whereas Homer thinks he
is uttering a prayer, actually he is giving a command ;
since to bid one do or not do a thing, says Protagoras,
is an order. We may pass over this inquiry, therefore,
as pertaining to another art, and not to the art of Poetry.

The Diction proper, taken as a whole, is made up of
the following parts. [The list begins with the smallest
elements and proceeds synthetically to the largest com-
posite factors of discourse — from the indivisible sound
and the syllable, to the entire poem considered as a uni-
fied utterance.] (i) The Ultimate Element (or Letter) ;
(2) the Primary Combination of ultimate elements (not
quite a ' Syllable ') ; (3) the Connective Particle ; (4) the
Separative Particle ; (5) the Noun ; (6) the Verb ; (7) the
Inflection ; (8) the Speech [or unified Utterance, from
a phrase to a poem].

The Ultimate Element (or Letter) is an indivisible
sound — not every such sound, but a sound of such a
nature that it may unite with others of its kind to form
an intelligible word. The lower animals also utter indi-
visible sounds, but none that are elementary in the present
sense. These elementary sounds are divided into (a)
Vowels, (b) Semivowels, and (c) Mutes, (a) A Vowel
is an element having an audible sound without the ad-
dition of another element, (b) A Semivowel is an ele-
ment — as S or R — having an audible sound when
another element is added to it. (c) A Mute is an ele-
ment — as G or D — having no sound in and for itself,
but becoming audible by an addition ^ — of elements, that
is, that have some sound of their own. The elementary
sounds differ in several ways : (a) they are produced by



THE ART OF POETRY 6j

different positions of the mouth, or in different parts of other ait-
it ; (b) they are aspirated, or not aspirated, or inter-
mediate ; (c) they are long, or short, or intermediate ;
and, furthermore, (d) they have an acute, or grave, or
intermediate stress. A consideration of the details be-
longs to the theorists on Metre.

A Syllable is a non-significant sound composed of a 2. ThePri-
Mute and a letter having a sound (a Vowel or Semi- wnation
vowel) ; for the combination GR, without the A, is just
as truly a syllable as when A is added, in GRA. But
a consideration of the various forms of the Syllable like-
wise belongs to the theory of Metre.

[Aristotle now passes from the indivisible elements
of spoken sounds, and the primary combinations of these
in syllables, to higher combinations, the elements of the
phrase or sentence. These are either particles which
have no meaning when taken by themselves, or elements,
such as nouns and verbs, which have a significance of
their own.]

A Connective Particle is (a) a non-significant sound 3. Thecon-

, ,- . 7 1-1 ■ 1 1 ■ 1 nective Par-

— such as men, de, tot, de — which neither hinders nor tide
causes the formation of one significant sound (expres-
sion) out of two or more others [e.g., a single clause, or
the like, out of a noun and a verb], and which, if the
expression stand by itself, must not be inserted as the
first word. [When we form the expression Gnothi seau-
ton — " Know thyself ' — the process is neither helped
nor hindered by the insertion of de ; but if the particle
be inserted, it must not stand first.] Or it is a non-
significant sound — like amphi, peri, etc. — with (b) the
function of combining two or more significant sounds



68



ARISTOTLE



4. The Sepa-
rative Par-
ticle



3. The Noun
or Name-
word



into one expression [as a preposition serves to unite its
noun with a verb].

A Separative Particle (i.e., sentence-connective and
disjunctive particle) is a non-significant sound which
marks the beginning, end, or division of an expression,
and whose natural place is at either end of the expres-
sion or in the middle. [We turn now to those elements
which have a significance in themselves.]

A Noun [or name- word, including nouns, adjectives,
etc.] is a composite significant sound, with no reference
to time, no part of which is significant by itself ; for
even when a noun is made up of two others, we do not
attach separate meanings to the parts. For example,
when we use the name " Theodore ' (" god-given '), we
do not associate the notion of " gift ' with the down.
6. The verb A Verb is a composite significant sound, no part of
which is significant by itself any more than the parts of
a Noun, but which involves the notion of time. Whereas
a name (' Noun ') like ' man ' or " white ' does not indi-
cate the notion of when, a Verb like ' walks ' or ' has
walked ' indicates not only the idea of walking, but, in
addition, that of time present or past.

An Inflection of a Noun or Verb is that element by
which the word means "of or " to ' a thing, and the
like ; or by which it stands for one or many — as " man '
or ' men ' ; or by which it indicates the mode of utter-
ance, as in a question or a command. Thus " Did walk .? '
or " Walk ! ' is an inflection, of the last sort, of the Verb
' to walk '.

A Speech (or unified Utterance) is a composite sig-
nificant sound, of which at least some of the parts (as



7 . The In
flection



THE ART OF POETRY 69

nouns or verbs) are significant in themselves. Such a 8. The
composite utterance is not always made up of Nouns (or synthetic
names) and Verbs ; it may, for example, be without a ""^"^^""^
Verb, as in the definition of Man : " A biped land ani-
mal.' However, there will always be a part that stands
for some person or thing, as ' Cleon ', in the sentence,
' Cleon is walking.' A Speech (sentence or whole utter-
ance) may be a unit in either of two ways : (a) it may two ways oi
signify one thing; or (b) the unity may be brought unuy'"^
about through the linking together of more than one
utterance. Thus the Iliad is one utterance through the
binding together of a number ; and the definition of
Man is a unit because it signifies one thing.

Nouns (or name-words) are of two kinds, (a) Simple chapter 21
and (b) Compound. By Simple are meant those that
are formed of non-significant elements, as the word ge Nouns or
(' earth '). A Compound noun may be made up of a sig- Their tor-
nificant and a non-significant part — though the distinc- ^p°e-'
tion is lost when the parts are united ; or it may be Compound
made up of two parts, both of which, taken by them-
selves, are significant. A Compound noun may also be
triple or quadruple, or multiple, in form, like most of
the amplified Q bombastic) names Q. in comedy), such
as 'Hermo-caico-xanthus '. [Compare " Poly-machaero-
plagides ', in Plautus' adaptation from the New Comedy
of Greece.]

Whatever the formation, a Noun (or name) is either
(i) the Current Term for a thing ; or (2) a Strange (or
rare) Word ; or (3) a Metaphor ; or (4) an Ornamental
Word ; or (5) a Newly-coined Word ; or a word that is
(6) Lengthened, or (7) Curtailed, or (8) Altered.



70 ARISTOTLE

1. Current By a Current Term is meant the word that is used



Terms



for a thing by the people we know ; by a Strange (or
8. strange rare) Word, one that is used in another region. It is
obvious that the same word may be both Strange and
Current, though not with reference to the same region.
The word sigynon (" lance '), for example, is current in
Cyprus, but rare at Athens.
3. Metaphor: Metaphor consists in the application to one thing of
the name that belongs to another : (a) the name of the
genus may be applied to a subordinate species ; (b) the
name of the species may be applied to the inclusive ge-
nus ; (c) under the same genus, the name of one species
may be applied to another ; or (d) there may be a trans-
ference of names on grounds of analogy (or proportion).

(a) The transference of a name from the genus to a
species is illustrated in " Here stands my ship ' ; for to
be at anchor is one species of the genus standing.

(b) That from species to genus, in ' Of a truth, ten
thousand noble deeds hath Odysseus wrought ' ; where
ten thoicsand is a particular large number, used instead
of a large number in general.

(c) That from species to species, in ' With a knife
of bronze drawing away the life-blood ', and in " Cutting
with the unwearing bronze ' ; where the poet (? Emped-
ocles) uses drawing for cutting, and cutting for draw-
ing, when both terms are species of the genus removing.
[The notion may be this : a surgeon cuts with a knife,
and draws blood with a cupping-instrument, blood being
removed in either case. The medical poet is able to
substitute either of the two specific words for the other.]

(d) By Metaphor formed on the basis of analogy (or



THE ART OF POETRY 71

proportion) is meant the case when a second term, B, Proportional
is to a first, A, as a fourth, D, is to a third, C ; where- '""^p""
upon the fourth term, D, may be substituted for the
second, B, or the second, B, for the fourth, D. Some-
times, too, the poet will qualify the metaphorical word
by adding to it the term (-f-A or + C) to which the non-
figurative term is relative. To illustrate : the drinking-
bowl (B) is to Dionysus (A) as the shield (D) is to
Ares (C). Accordingly, the bowl (B) may be called tAe
shield (D) of Dionysus, and the shield (D) the bowl (B)
of Ares. Or another illustration : old age (B) is to life (A)
as evening (D) is to the day (C). Hence one will speak
of the evening (D) as the old age (B) of the day — or as
Empedocles does ; and of old age (B) as the evening (D)
of life — or as ' the sunset of life '. In certain cases, the
language may contain no actual word corresponding to
one of the terms in the proportion, but the figure never-
theless will be employed. For example, when a fruit
casts forth its seed the action is called " sowing ', but the
action of the sun in casting forth its flame has no special
name. Yet this nameless action (B) is to the sun (A) as
sowing (D) is to the fruit (C) ; and hence we have the
expression of the poet, ' sowing a god-created flame '.
There is still another way in which this kind of meta-
phor may be used. We may substitute one term, B, for
another, D, and then subtract some characteristic attri-
bute of B. For example, one might call the shield (D),
not the bowl (B) of Ares, but " the wineless bowl '.

[The Ornamental Word is not discussed. It may [4. omamen-
mean the superior or more beautiful word, where there
is a choice among synonyms.]



72



ARISTOTLE



6. Newly-
coined Words



6. Length-
ened Words



7. Curtailed
Words



8. Altered
Words



Gender of
Nouns



A Newly-coined Word is one that is wholly unknown
to any region, and is applied to something by an in-
dividual poet ; for there seem to be certain words of
this origin — as emyges for ' horns ', and areter for
' priest '. [Thus Spenser is said to have coined the
word blatant i\

A Lengthened Word is one in which a customary
short vowel is made long, or in which an extra syllable
is inserted. Thus poleos is lengthened from poleos (the
short e becoming long) ; and Peleiadeo from Peleidou
(by change of vowel-length and insertion of syllables).

A Curtailed Word is one from which some part has
been removed ; for example : kri (for krithe), do (for
doma), and ops, in 'Mia ginetai amphoteron ops ' (for
opsis).

An Altered Word is one in which the poet, having
left some part unchanged, remodels the rest; for ex-
ample, dexiteron is altered from dexion in ' dexiteron
cata mason '.

The Nouns (or name-words), whether current, meta-
phorical, curtailed, or the hke, are either Masculine,
Feminine, or Neuter. All nouns ending in N, R, or
S, or in combinations of S, that is, Psi (PS) or Xi (KS),
are masculine. All ending in Eta (E) or Omega (O),
which are always long, or in A, among the vowels that
sometimes are long, are feminine. Accordingly, among
the letters of the alphabet there are just as many mas-
culine as feminine terminations (that is, three of each) ;
for Psi and Xi count as S. No noun ends in a mute
or in either of the short vowels Epsilon (E) and
Omicron (O). Only three nouns end in I, namely.



THE ART OF POETRY 73

■meli, kommi, zxiA peperi. Five end in Y. The neuters
end in the vowels that admit of lengthening, or in N,
R, or S.

In respect to Diction, the ideal for the poet is to be Chapter 22
clear without being mean. The clearest diction is that
which is wholly made up of current terms (the ordinary
words for things). But a style so composed is mean ; choice of
witness the poetry of Cleophon or Sthenelus. [Some Theideaus
of the poetry of Crabbe would furnish another illustra- DistiSctfon"*
tion. And compare Kipling in " The female of the
species ', etc.] But the language attains majesty and
distinction when the poet makes use of terms that are
less familiar : rare words, metaphors, lengthened forms
— everything that deviates from the ordinary usage.
Yet if one composes in a diction of such terms alone,
the result will be either a riddle or an unnatural jargon Not a riddle

or a jargon

— a riddle if the language be nothing but metaphors,
and a jargon if it be nothing but words that are strange
(dialect words and the like). Indeed, the very essence
of a riddle consists in describing an actual occurrence
by an impossible combination of words. Now this can-
not be done through any arrangement of words in their
primary meanings, but it can through their metaphorical
substitutes. For example : " A man I saw gluing bronze
on a man with fire ' [an enigmatical description of
blood-letting with a vacuum in a cup of bronze], and
the like. A similar combination of strange words only
would be a jargon.

The poet, then, should employ a certain admixture
of these expressions that deviate from the ordinary;
for distinction and elevation of style will result from



74



ARISTOTLE



How to se-
cure Clear-
ness; how
Distinction



the use of such means as the strange word, the meta-
phor, the ornamental word [? the nobler, when there are
synonyms], and the rest ; and clearness will arise from
such part of the language as is in common use. Very
important in helping to make the style clear without
loss of distinction are the lengthened, curtailed, and
altered forms of words. Their deviation from the cus-
tomary forms will lend the quality of distinction ; and
the element they have in common with the ordinary
usage will give clearness. Those critics are in the

Modifications wrong, therefore, who censure such a modification of

of Usage ae- , • i • , i r

fended from usage, and ridicule the poet for resortmg to it — as

when the elder Euclid said it was easy enough to make

poetry if they would let you lengthen out words as you

pleased. So he caricatured the practice in the sentences :



and



I saw Epichares a-walking Marathon-wards ;
Ouk an g' eramenos ton ekeinou elleboron;



Use and
Abuse are
different
tilings



— which he read as verses. [The text of the second
line is corrupt.] An obtrusive employment of the
device of lengthening words becomes, of course, ridicu-
lous ; but the same thing is true of any similar styHstic
procedure. The principle of moderation should govern
the use of every element of diction ; for with metaphors
also, and strange words, and the rest, a like effect will
ensue if they are used without propriety, and with the
aim of causing laughter.

The proper use of lengthened forms is a different
thing; as may be seen in Epic Poetry, if we take a
verse and substitute therein the common forms of the



THE ART OF POETRY 75

words. And a similar test should be made with the a test of the

strange word, and with metaphors and the rest. One ationsfrom'

has only to replace them by the terms of ordinary ^'""'''°*'7

usage, and the truth of our remarks will be obvious.

For example, the same iambic line occurs in Aeschylus

and Euripides, though in Aeschylus it is commonplace ;

but Euripides, by the substitution of just one word —

a strange word in place of the ordinary — has rendered

the line beautiful. Aeschylus in his Philoctetes makes

the hero say :

The cancer that is eating the flesh of my foot ;

Euripides replaces ' is eating ' by ' feasts on '. Or take
the line uttered by the Cyclops in the Odyssey :

Lo, now, a dwarf, a man of no worth, and a weakling ;

and fancy some one reciting it in the terms of ordinary
usage :

See, now, a small man, feeble, and unprepossessing.

Or take the line :

And placed ' for him (Odysseus) an unseemly settle and a
meagre table;

and suppose it to be read thus :

And brought him a sorry chair and a small table.

Or substitute for ' the sea-beach bellows ', in the Iliad,
" the beach is roaring '. Again, Ariphrades used to
ridicule the tragedians for locutions which no one as in the
would employ in ordinary conversation ; for example, Tragedy,"'
" from the house away ' — instead of " away from the frJae^ensiwe
house ' ; 'of thee ', instead of ' yours ' ; ego de nin,
instead of ego d' auten; 'Achilles about', instead of



76



ARISTOTLE



A Command
of Metaphor
is the mark
of genius



' about Achilles ' ; and so on. [Compare Wordsworth :
' That glides the dark hills under.'] It is just because
these expressions are not ordinary that they give
distinction to the language ; and that is the point
Ariphrades failed to catch.

It is, indeed, important to make the right use of
each of the elements mentioned — lengthened, cur-
tailed, and altered words — as well as of compounds
and strange words. But most important by far is it to
have a command of metaphor. This is the one thing
the poet cannot learn from others. It is the mark of
genius ; for to coin good metaphors involves an insight
into the resemblances between objects that are super-
ficially unlike.

Of the several kinds we have noted, compound

words are best adapted to the dithyramb, strange words

varieties of to heroic metre [that is, to epic poetry! , and metaphors to

Diction for ... L ' r r .; j> r

different lambic metre [that is, to the tragic dialogue]. In Heroic
poetry, it is true, all the special forms may be used. But
iambic verse, as far as may be, represents the spoken
language, and hence employs only the kinds of words
one would use in oratory ; that is, the current term,
the metaphor, and the ornamental (or ? superior) word.
Herewith we close the discussion of Tragedy, or the
art of imitation in the form of action.



Metres



Ill

EPIC POETRY. THE PRINCIPLES OF ITS
CONSTRUCTION

And now for the form of poetry which is purely nar- chapter 23
rative, or the art which imitates in metrical language as
its sole medium.
( In the Epic, as in Tragedy, the story should be con- what the
structed on dramatic principles : everything should turn cimunon^w^th
about a single action, one that is a whole, and is organ- ^"^^seay
ically perfect — having a beginning, and a middle, and
an end. In this way, just as a living animal, individual
and perfect, has its own beauty, so the poem will arouse
in us its own characteristic form of pleasure. So much
is obvious from what has gone before. Putting the
thing negatively, we may say that the plot of an Epic
must be unlike what we commonly find in histories, it is not a

, . , ^ . . 1 . , Chronicle

which of necessity represent, not a single action, but
some one period, with all that happened therein to
one or more persons, however unrelated the several
occurrences may have been. For example : the Battle
of Salamis took place at the same time as the defeat of


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