‘PERFECT AND WHOLE’: ARISTOTLE’S POETICS ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE PLOT Bart A.

Mazzetti I IN his work, Aristotle’s Vision of Nature, the classical scholar Frederick J. E. Woodbridge, discussing the problems involved in a reading of Aristotle, considers two possibilities to account for their difficulty. In his view, these writings
may be the preserved notes from which he lectured, for he is supposed to have lectured in his school, called the Lyceum. They may be the treasured notes of those who heard him. Either hypothesis is good enough as an hypothesis. But neither is very helpful, for as notes of either speaker or hearer, they too frequently indicate a multiplicity of occasions when the lectures were delivered, or a multiplicity of hearers who attended them. The whole matter looks rather hopeless of solution.1

Having reached an impasse with regard to his framing of this problem, he goes on to say,
There may be no necessity of solving it, but the embarrassment involved is this, there is so much disorder, so many cross references, so many evident misplacements, so many parentheses and omissions, so many elliptical expressions, that the reader readily gets in the habit of yielding to mass impressions which are often difficult to support by specific expositions in the text. He must read one book in light of another. He must make supplementations of his own. He must correct what he reads in one place with one import, by what he reads in another place with a different import. If the writings only went straight ahead progressively and continuously, as they do now and then, they would be far more readable, and there would be far less danger of misinterpretation.2

While these remarks are made apropos the entire Corpus Aristotelicum, they are particularly apt when applied to Aristotle’s Poetics, especially with regard to the problems of “evident misplacements” and “omissions”. With respect to the latter, among the greatest losses the Corpus is known to have suffered is that of the entire second book of his peri\ poihtikh=j, or work About the Poetic Art, dealing with comedy. 3 Second only in importance is the loss of the discussion of katharsis. As for “misplacements”, several of the most important were recognized by the Renaissance commentator Daniel Heinsius in his work Ordo Aristotelis, appended to his De Tragoediae Constitutione (first published in 1611).4
1

Aristotle’s Vision of Nature, by Frederick J. E. Woodbridge, John Herman Randall, Charles H. Kahn, Harold A. Larrabee (orig. pub. Columbia Univ. Press, 1965; Greenwood Press Reprint 1983), p. 10. 2 ibid. An excellent overview of their difficulties, as well as a vindication of the works’ scientific character, is provided by Hippocrates G. Apostle in the Introduction to his collection Aristotle: Selected Works (Grinnell, Iowa: The Peripatetic Press, 2nd ed. 1986), Sec. III, pp. 5-12. 3 As with most subjects connected with the study of Aristotle, this evident truth has been controverted. See, for instance, A. P. McMahon, “On the Second Book of Aristotle’s Poetics and the Source of Theophrastus’ Definition of Tragedy,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 28 (1917), 9-19. 4 For an English translation, see Daniel Heinsius, On Plot in Tragedy. Translated by Paul R. Sellin and John J. McManmon, With Introduction and Notes by Paul R. Sellin (Northridge, California: San Fernando Valley State College Renaissance Editions, 1971). The Ordo will be found on pp. 155-164.

1

Taking his beginning from the definition of tragedy in Chapter 6, he summarizes the contents of the surviving book, noting, almost in passing, most, though not all, of the misplaced passages that are arguably present from that point on.5 How can one tell that such misplacements have occurred? As an acquaintance with the preeminent works of the commentary tradition makes clear, in the writings that have come down to us Aristotle not only treated logic, but also embodied logical procedure. Accordingly, understanding Aristotle to be a supremely logical thinker, the educated student6 expects his works to follow a strictly logical order.7 In the Poetics itself, for instance, in Chapter 1 he begins with a treatment of the poetic art itself, determining its genus, before ending with a treatment of the first difference, which is that in which an imitation is made, which is the means; Chapter 2 then treating the difference consisting in the object imitated, while Chapter 3 deals with the difference in manner; the argument thereby going from the most to the least evident of these differences.8 Now if the manuscripts which have reached us all were to begin with Chapter 2 followed by Chapter 1, or if a part of the argument concerning the manner of imitation belonging to Chapter 3 were to be found in Chapter 2, no one would doubt that their order had been disturbed and therefore needed to be corrected. An excellent example of Aristotle’s orderliness will be found in the proem to his work, a starting-point which may be fruitfully examined both as an exemplary instance of his method, as well as an initiation into the subjects to be treated in the investigation to follow:
5 6

A brief overview of these misplacements is the subject of Part II of this paper. By “educated”, I mean one in possession of what Aristotle calls paideia: Cf. Marie I. George, “Aristotle on Paideia of Principles.” Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy (1998) (Abstract): “Aristotle maintains that paideia enables one to judge the method used by a given speaker without judging the conclusions drawn as well (I.1 De Partibus Animalium). He contends that this ‘paideia of principles’ requires three things: seeing that principles are not derived from one another; seeing that there is nothing before them within reason; and, seeing that they are the source of much knowledge. In order to grasp these principles, one must respectively learn to recognize what distinguishes the subject matters studied in different disciplines, see first principles as coming from experience and acquire the habit of seeking them in one’s experience and, finally, see first principles as being the source of conclusions. While the second and third points might at first seem to pertain to ‘nous’ and science, respectively, rather than to paideia, the case can be made that paideia involves more of a firm grasp of principles than ‘nous’ and a less perfect way of relating conclusions to principles than science.” Thus, when one has attained science, he will be able to judge the conclusions as well. 7 Consequently, the exposition in question being a mature work of the Philosopher, one may reasonably suppose any deviation from the canons of method to be due to textual corruption. 8 As a help to understanding Aristotle’s method here, cf. the following: “It would seem, then, that according to the general doctrine of the distinction of speculative and practical knowledge, the resolutive or analytic process abstracts the universal formal principles of objects—whether operable or non-operable. It proceeds by defining its object according to genus and differentia, dividing its object and demonstrating its proper passions” (Bro. Edmund Dolan, “Resolution and Composition in Speculative and Practical Discourse”, Laval théologique et philosophique 6, 1950, p. 19). In line with this method, Aristotle in the Poetics first divides the genus “the poetic art” into certain principal species (sc. epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, and the melic arts); then defines the art by genus and differentiae; a work of the poetic art being an imitation (genus) using certain means (difference) to represent certain things (difference) in a certain manner (difference), the second of these being the species-making difference; then proceeds to demonstrate its proper passions, for example, that it belongs to tragedy to carry out a purgation of the passions of pity and fear. Not surprisingly, commentators unfamiliar with the several modes of proceeding often suppose the Poetics to be written like a ‘how-to’ manual for poets, which would be a practical rather than a speculative treatment of an operable object, and thus begin with the matter and proceed compositively, from “the ground up”, so to speak, instructing the would-be poet how he is to construct his poem, rather than proceeding analytically, as Aristotle does, in order to inform the student of poetry how a poem is to be constructed if it is to be good.

2

Then would have come the second book on comedy. 26). 23 and 24).A. that his mind worked with all the sureness of a machine. while the next major division of the text treats its “forms themselves”. ch. and further. Aristotle unfolds the definition of tragedy. character. disposition. xiii-xiv. 20-22). and no one. Aristotle on the Art of Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press.9 The “first things” from which Aristotle begins are. and likewise about whatever else belongs to the same method let us speak. before turning to language (chs. The continuity also of the expression is frequently broken by [xiii xiv] parentheses. the principal conclusions concerning which are reached in Chapters 4 and 5 respectively. and that a treatise of his must not only have been written throughout on the straightest lines. inherited from the Middle Ages. is even as a thinker much more human than we are apt to suppose. as thus stated. I imagine. his writing. and parts (in number and kind) follow in due course. from how many and of what sort of parts [each one] is. 3 . and the superiority of tragedy to epic (ch. pp. of the general character of the Aristotelian writings—that the ‘master of them that know’ could never for a moment forget his logic. ancient as well as modern. and the statement becomes in places little better than a series of notes. In the opening paragraphs of his Introduction to his edition of the Poetics. as we have seen. Beginning with Chapter 6.).M. with all his scientific formalism. Ingram Bywater. 1 (1447a 8-13) (tr. thereby staking out a position contrary to that of his teacher Plato in the Laws. is marked by great inequalities. But it is impossible to read much of the current criticism of the Poetics without seeing that its working hypothesis is in many instances what I have said. too. 1909). there are signs of failing attention to form. beginning according to nature first from first things. comedy and epic. but also have left his hands as free from oversights and inconsistencies as a modern published work is expected to be. the genus and differences defining the poetic art. sometimes on matters of very minor importance for the immediate argument.About the poetic art itself and its forms themselves. and thought. but as the work advances. its proper disposition will be discussed in Parts II and III of this paper. principally tragedy. problems and solutions in the poetic art (ch. B. then devoting single chapters to things consequent to his consideration as a whole. he lays out his position in the following terms: The text of the Poetics has been supposed to have suffered more seriously than most prose Greek texts in the process of transmission. however. then epic (chs. plot. 25). namely. what power each one has. In marked contrast to the approach taken here is that employed by the eminent classicist Ingram Bywater. One cannot help suspecting. while treatments of their power. while reaching a satisfying conclusion to the first part of his work.10 9 10 Poet. The untenableness of these assumptions. is obvious. and how plots [10] should be constructed if the making in which poetry consists is to be well disposed. The Poetics begin fairly well. investigating in the following chapters its principal qualitative parts. pass-ages of admirable lucidity and finish being often followed by a stretch of text in a style so curt and crabbed as to be the despair of his interpreters. Aristotle. As for the treatment of plot. that not a few of their doubts and suspicions start from a certain preconceived idea. and many scholars accordingly have allowed themselves a very free hand in dealing with its difficulties. would confess to them in so many words.

many of the criticisms leveled at the Philosopher fall to the ground. Pickard-Cambridge) 4 . Apostle).. that is. as well as his sneer that a principled reading of the Philosopher’s works is a relic of the Middle Ages. one must carefully consider the rule he lays down in Poetics ch. 11 12 ibid. Clearly. or that his attention flagged. a person who recognizes Aristotle’s employment of logical procedure being in no way committed to the view that he composed his works in simplistic fashion. it being another fault of Aristotle’s that he used the same words in more than one meaning. the Philosopher apparently being of the opinion that certain things are said in many ways. “Lapses of memory”. then. and thus one must see whether the author has contradicted himself with respect to what he himself says or what a sensible man would suppose—that is. Third.e. one ignorant of the principles appropriate to the subject-matter. Equally objectionable is the insinuation that the logical is opposed to the human. W. Fourth. A. 6. and in the same way. i. 17a 35. 11 Second.. taking the predicate in the same manner in its relation to the same subject. tr. it must be pointed out.” ( Soph. these last two certainly being possible. one who reads Aristotle as Bywater does will be out of sympathy with the method I employ in the investigation to follow. one must see whether the same thing is said. “Variations of terminology”. “For to refute is to contradict one and the same attribute—not merely the name. however. where he explains that when a charge of inconsistency is made such that what is said would give rise to a contradiction. which are defined afterwards”. and fifth. some of which are sound. necessarily. it must be considered in the same way as refutations in arguments are. One may also suppose that he prefers not to delay his investigation unnecessarily. “The anticipatory use of technical terms. it apparently being a fault of Aristotle’s not to use exactly the same form of words every time a subject is dealt with (evidently Bywater has forgotten his objection to the view that Aristotle’s mind “worked with the sureness of a machine”. xiv. nothing being so mechanical as the rigid adherence to an unchanging nomenclature).). De Int. 25 (1460b 31—1461a 4). are insults to the intelligence. tr. in the same respect and relation and manner and time in which it was asserted. without including in the reckoning the original point to be proved. Ref. what a man of reasonable intelligence would think the author actually to have said (especially. “the opposition of the same predicate with respect to the same subject” (ibid. that is. “without using the subject or predicate equivocally” (cf. but the reality—and a name that is not merely synonymous but the same name—and to confute it from the [25] propositions granted. 5. p. H. but others questionable: First. the knowledge of which is necessary if the pronouncements made upon a given work are to be just. In the paragraphs which follow. and with respect to the same thing. 12 As those who read Aristotle with care well understand. when this procedure is fol-lowed. Before accusing Aristotle of contradiction. G. a practice Bywater plausibly accounts for by supposing that “most of these and similar technical terms may have already been sufficiently recognized and established in the language of the period.Much of the foregoing is mere impertinence. that is. and that Aristotle only defines them for a special reason. when the text before him may be corrupt). Bywater then proceeds to enumerate five headings comprising what he calls “anomalies and informalities” in the text. as opposed to what a captious critic would suppose—that is. 167a 23-27. but needing to be judged on a case-by-case basis. “Inconsistencies in the use of terms”. whereas the claims that he was incapable of avoiding “oversights and inconsistencies” because he lacked the resources of modern publishing. “Inconsistencies of thought”. in the interest of scholastic precision or clearness”.

pp. Chapter 14..II Before turning to our discussion of Aristotle’s introductory treatment of the structure of the plot—a part of Aristotle’s investigation which I believe to have suffered both misplacements and omissions—it will be helpful to look briefly at several other.15 coming. rather. in which case a brief discussion of its quantitative parts. and suffering. XIII. Then would come Chapter 17 on what the poet should aim at. But if so. 158) that Chapter 16 on the species of recognition belongs with it. Heinsius. and then Chapter 16 on the species of recognition. followed by Chapter 13 on the construction of the finest tragedy19 (which would reasonably follow a discussion of pathos. 155-156. Heinsius. second is character. exceptions to this rule.[T]here must therefore be six parts to every tragedy according to which tragedy is of a certain sort: and these are plot. as well as the best way to achieve it. That language is given third in the initial listing is probably due to a copyist’s error. principal. language. first comes plot. before turning to a detailed treatment of the former. sec. the argument will then conform to a pattern recurrent in the Poetics whereby the last member of a series becomes the first elucidated in the discussion to follow. would not be out of place. being concerned with character. pp. XVI. characters. see below). and third is thought. We suppose. the most natural place for it to occur is immediately after Chapter 6 where Aristotle has determined the qualitative parts of tragedy. “What recognition is has been stated earlier. 159-169. as its first sentence clearly has the character of a return to a subject previously discussed.. dislocations I believe to exist in the text. in the received versions of the text.14 its natural place being immediately after the treatment of the plot has been completed. First of all. as Heinsius notes. 19 Minus its first and last sentences. 1449a 4ff. sec. 17 As for the discussion of reversal and recognition preceding it. at 1452b 9. Cf. being its continuation. [10] thought. I must disagree with Heinsius (cf. and right before the treatment of the requisites of “the finest tragedy”. as would an explanation of katharsis). 5 . let us discuss its species”. 162. that Chapter 11 and its continuation. VII.16 the claim here being that the body of this chapter investigates what suffering consists in. should come right after Chapter 9 (for which. 13 One would therefore naturally expect the discussion that follows to conform to this order. after giving two causes for the poetic art. that all men delight in imitation. Almost as easy to see is the mistaken placement of Chapter 12 on the quantitative parts of tragedy. and song.. There are. p. As Aristotle goes on to explain. of course. op. sec. two subjects with which it has no discernible connection. where Aristotle. 17 When the chapter is so placed.18 rather than being a continuation of it. 16 Cf. coming as it does while the handling of plot is ongoing. recognition. XIV. and Chapter 18 on lusis and desis (et alia). begins with the second. 1450a 37 ff. which I treat next. the proper order of treatment to be observed in the remainder of the Poetics through Chapter 18 is indicated by the conclusion concerning the qualitative parts of tragedy which Aristotle reaches in Chapter 6 (1450a 9-11): . namely. p. cit. Heinsius. 4. 18 Sc. and not somewhere in the middle. 15 Cf. appearance. an example being ch. immediately after a discussion of reversal. But. sec. one can easily see that Chapter 15. 13 14 Cf. is out of place. Next comes the observation that the treatment of pathos or suffering comprising Chapter 14 should come right after its definition in Chapter 11.

albeit one missed by Heinsius. for instance. as well as the last two discrete sections of Chapter 9. Now it is not like the Philosopher to proceed in this way. Aristotle’s Poetics.Much more difficult to see. some of them quite obvious. XXV in the Light of the Homeric Scholia (diss. and therefore most suitably placed before the treatment of character. 6 . has been sufficiently discussed. Aristotle’s introductory treatment of the structure of the plot23 can be shown to include not only the whole of the following chapter. sec. being the last part of Aristotle’s treatment of the plot. others less so. c. is Chapter 20 on the parts of lexis. is this: the final words of Chapter 1421 ought to be appended to the end of Chapter 18. 20 21 Cf. therefore. Among the remaining places where I believe displacements and lacunae are indicated. XVI. 1452b 28-30) But in constructing plots and in bringing them to a finished state with the language. Heinsius.20 is the need to move the opening sentence of Chapter 13 to the beginning of Chapter 17. one of the most important is the discussion of the history of poetry in Chapter 4. 195-229. III As we shall see from the considerations to follow. 1455a 23-26) Another dislocation. and whence the work of tragedy will be effected. 14. in the next place we must show what the poet should aim at and what he should avoid in constructing his plots. “Aristotle's History of Poetry” Transactions of the American Philological Association 104 (1974). but also the brief Chapter 10 on the division of plots into simple and complex. we now turn to the subject of this paper. the recognition of which anomaly leads one to suppose that something must have been lost from the text. 161-164. a good place to start is Carnes Lord. beginning with Chapter 7. 1895). going on to add that “there is a whole which does not have size” (1450b 24-25). Yet the course of the argument is marked by several omissions. so that the text reads as follows: As a consequent to what has been said. and another is Chapter 25 on problems and solutions in the poetic art. which therefore comes next. the composition of incidents most effective for evoking pity and fear. “The makeup of the incidents. pp. well-known instance of these defects. and an admirable indication of the perspicacity of the Renaissance commentator.22 Having adequately dealt with these preliminary matters. 13. and of what sort plots ought to be. however. A third. but see especially Mitchell Carroll. 1454a 14-15) 22 On the difficulties of Chapter 4. These chapters. he will discover what is appropriate and will least overlook any inconsistencies. 23 The treatment in detail of matters dealt with by way of introduction taking up subsequent parts of the work. as much as possible. observing with the utmost vividness as if he were present at the deeds themselves while they were being carried out. having a certain size”.” (= ch. Sc. 17. By the opening words of Chapter 7. set them before the eyes: for in this way. Yet the text which follows tells us nothing further on either point. are of such difficulty that even a cursory indication of the major problems would be out of place here. while the next passage occurring speaks of a whole without qualification. (= ch. the first of which treats the problem of when a plot is episodic. (= ch. Treatments of Chapter 25 abound. as though Aristotle had not just said that there are two different kinds. Aristotle informs us that he had earlier defined tragedy as “an imitation of an action perfect and whole. Baltimore. the second and last. one should.

I do not.” The discussion of what makes a plot episodic manifestly having nothing to do with the matters treated up to that point in Chapter 9 (which has to do with plot being composed of the sort of thing the might happen. should arise from the very way in which the plot is put together [or ‘from the structure of the plot itself’]. somewhat abruptly it seems to me. or as such—being made with reference to the necessary or likely connection of its incidents. whereby it is both continuous and one. The first reason for supposing so is their agreement in treating the structure of the plot as arising from a necessary or likely connection between successive incidents. a subject to which I return below. is the plot’s defining characteristic. 10. 7 . then surveys the argument as a whole in the light of its principles (which. an order of treatment hinging on these transitions will quite often come into view. 1451b 34-35: “I call ‘episodic’ a plot in which it is neither [35] likely nor necessary that the episodes follow one another.). we have an additional reason for supposing the text to have been wrongly placed. but others complex. Yet two passages concerning order are found afterwards:25 the brief Chapter 10 on the division of plots into simple and complex. to be discussed shortly. reveals to us that this attribute. 9. in contrast with its possession of order. of course. for the actions of which the plots are the imitations are also such to begin with. should not only [35] have these things arranged. 24 He also introduces. being an embodiment of it. 9. the comparison with a living thing and its identification with the beautiful. 28 Cf. 1451b 34) As the reader will observe. the next subject taken up is the plot’s possession of size: Further still. since that which is beautiful. but also not just any chance size—for the beautiful consists in size and order.24 Now for our present purposes there are two things we can take from his remarks: first. namely. (1450a 34-35) Here Aristotle not only indicates by way of summary the last subject discussed.27 Now when these passages are read in tandem. that whatever pertains to that treatment belongs to his argument. which connection pertains to order.” Cf. 1452 a 12-13) But simply speaking. ch. it becomes immediately apparent that they go together..g. being a per se division of the genus—that is to say.Returning to the body of Chapter 7. so that from what has already taken place [20] it happen that the things mentioned [e. ch. some are simple. one made of the plot insofar as it is a plot. etc. recognition and reversal] come about either of necessity or in accordance with likelihood. 10. but if one carefully consider the subject under discussion. whether it be a living thing or anything else which is composed of certain things.26 and the portion of Chapter 9 on the badness of episodic plots. but also gives us to understand that he has just completed his introductory treatment of it. such words and phrases both establish (in the manner of joints and ligaments). (ch. 1452 a 19-20: “These. 25 There also being a third. of plots and actions the episodic are the worst. however. as well as the course of its development. and so are a great help in discovering the proper ordering of its parts. that any such texts ought to occur before his treatment of size.. are always discoverable). however. the unity as well as the continuity of the argument. 27 Which badness arises when the defining characteristic of the plot is absent. and reveal (in the manner of signs). and second. (ch. maintain that such correspondences are by themselves sufficient for determining that order (there being many points in the argument where Aristotle returns to a subject previously discussed). at 1450b 34 we observe that. 28 The second reason is indicated by the transitions Aristotle has helpfully provided in the text: Of plots. 26 Which partition.. order. when inevident.

23. dramatically. etc. in fact. Thomas Aquinas. I believe the presence of the plural here to be due to textual corruption. like one whole living thing. namely. which may be laid out as follows: 29 That is. That the precise placement of the whole of the text of our Chapter 8 is after the opening statement of Chapter 729 will be clear from the commentary to follow. I shall then add explanatory notes in support of my supplements and re-orderings. a point in the argument which I have already indicated as suffering a loss of text.. That this is so may be seen by considering the Philosopher’s summary statement occasioned by his comparison of epic poetry to tragedy found in Chapter 23: As for the imitative art which is narrative and in verse. and an end is the explanation of just what that order is. is better suited to another part of the argument and should be moved accordingly. are either restatements of Aristotle’s own teachings. 32 In accordance with the principle of parsimony.30 demonstrating that this passage also belongs to his treatment. that “such plots of necessity are more beautiful”. 8 . its culmination.”.Having dealt with its possession of size. the opening statement of Chapter 7 tells us that the plot of tragedy must be ‘perfect’ as well as ‘whole’. and so should follow this part of the argument rather than precede it. But the text of Chapter 9 comprising 1452a 2-11 begins with a transition indicating that he has just completed his consideration of what is perfect. being. which texts. 31 With other commentators. fleshed out and illuminated by relevant texts of St. the received version of the text subsequently treats the question of what makes a plot one. I will also argue hereafter that its last sentence. IV As the reader will observe.. rather than after it. Now as we have observed above. But the passage defining a whole as something having a beginning. restored to their proper order. middles. following the words “for there is a whole which does not have size”. I hasten to add that my supplements are drawn in their entirety from Aristotle’s own works. A problem associated with the wording of this sentence will be noticed in my note to this text below. making it immediately evident that the final section of Chapter 9 is the concluding portion of Aristotle’s introductory treatment. a middle.. a conclusion indicating that this entire chapter ought to come before the treatment of size. whole and perfect. it is clear that its plots should be constructed the way they are in tragedies. 1459a 17-20) But the producing of its proper pleasure consists in the evoking of pity and fear. I will now give the pertinent texts in full. in every instance. or helpful elaborations of it. it may produce its proper pleasure. and supplemented with brief additions of my own indicating what I believe to have been lost from the text. which is to say that they must be arranged in a determinate order for it to have its species. the entire course of the argument as I conceive it is comprised in seven parts. 30 “But since imitation is not only of a perfect action. in the course of which argument Aristotle concludes that the parts of the plot must be so arranged that the transposition or removal of any of them changes the whole. (= ch.. and around one action. I have given these supplements (printed in italics and set off from Aristotle’s text | in upright braces | ) in as brief a form as possible. so that.. 33 Far from ‘speaking out of myself”.32 Having done so.33 before turning to a consideration of the argument as a whole. [20] having a beginning. Having briefly indicated the parts belonging to the argument.31 and an end.

A. for example. ch. Poetics ch. For in [25] making the Odyssey. for which reason it is one. in which the account of ‘position’ consists. lect. Poetics ch. 26 (1024a 1-5) (tr. for they [5] have both characteristics. n. 21. Aristotle. has a certain single form. as well as their explanations. but nothing else after this. | Accordingly. if it is about one man. conversely.> is not one. and his feigned madness at the gathering of the army. In V Meta. just as in the other imitative arts. D. being composed of certain things arranged in a certain order (cf. must be of one thing. every such continuous whole must have position in its parts. however. Ross): “Again (3) of quanta that have a beginning and a middle and an end. having a certain size: for there is a whole which does not have size. and such-like poems. appears to have grasped this point well. 7 (1450b 21-25) (the beginning): With these things having been determined. It has been laid down by us that tragedy is [25] an imitation of an action perfect and whole. B. since this is the first and most important part of tragedy. Metaph. and the parts of the thing must be so constituted that when some one part is transposed or removed it makes a difference in the sense that the whole is changed . a story about him is one thing. V. 8 (1451a 16-35) (complete): A plot <. he did not compose everything that ever happened to him. so also the plot. see the notes to their respective sections below. for what makes [35] no noticeable difference when it is present or not present is no part of the whole.” Cf. whether by art or by nature. So also there are many actions of one man out of which no one action results. 21 (tr. because there is a beginning. but whose form does not.. of the sort an action is. it being neither necessary nor likely that the other come about. let us next discuss the sort of makeup the things done should have. (For the sources of these additions.” 9 . is that which naturally is after something else. Those which admit of both descriptions are both wholes and totals.) 35 Cf. 7 (1450b 26-33) (continued): But a whole <of the sort we are concerned with here> is that which has a beginning. it is either necessary or likely that the other come about—then such a plot will be both continuous and one. the one thing being done.g. and this a whole. since it is the imitation of an action. a Theseid.1. either [30] of necessity or for the most part. they are called both wholes and totals. and likewise the [30] Iliad. 1450b 34-36). those to which the position does not make a difference are called totals. but something else naturally is or comes to be after it. wax or a coat. and those to which it does. For they think that since Heracles was one man. a middle. | But a whole having size. some one thing being done. just as he excels in other things. and an end. and an end there. but he constructed the Odyssey around one action. A middle is that which itself is after something else and another thing after it.34 | 2. | But when the incidents composing the plot are so constructed—that is to say. one imitation must be of one thing. These are the things whose nature remains the same after transposition. wholes.. also St.): “For when it is so that in a quantity there is an order of parts.M. his being wounded on Parnassus. A beginning is that which itself is not of necessity after anything else. a middle. For this reason all [20] the poets seem to have erred who have composed a Heracleid. e. Thomas Aquinas. W.35 34 While what is perfect and whole is that of which nothing is outside. But Homer. of the sort of which we are speaking. out of some of which no one thing arises. Poetics ch. An end. 7. for many—indeed an infinite number—of things happen to one man. as some think. 3.

but should use the species mentioned. 23. ex autes tes sustaseos tou muthou]. Prometheus Books. and Morris A. then the resulting translation becomes “Without qualification. cf. literally translated. Such are made by bad poets because of their own <badness [sc. based in part on Theodore Buckley)41 (continued): 36 Thus Odysseus’ slaying of the suitors must come after his return to Ithaca. simple as well as complex plots and actions are defined as “continuous and one”. 7. | [And so such plots of necessity are more beautiful. 39 Namely. 41 Cf. rpt. 9. Apostle. but to be episodic is by definition to be discontinuous and lacking unity.A well-constructed plot. like one whole living thing (cf. then. 10 (1452a 12-21) (complete): Of plots. Parslow trans. 1450b 34). 40 For the justification of this translation. the resulting translation. ch. [one] from which there is a change involving recognition. the note of H. 38 Namely. the term becomes a(plw=j (= “without qualification”). however. These. the many episodes intervening constituting its middle. By Theodore Buckley (London and New York: Bohn. Iowa: The Peripatetic Press. G. of the episodes]. and so must be preceded by his shipwreck on Calypso’s island. Elizabeth A. plots and actions which are episodic are the worst. some are simple. with a selection of notes. for the actions of which the plots are the imitations are also such to begin with. Poetics ch. or both. which is “Of simple plots and actions the episodic are the worst. there is an even stronger reason for making the emendation Apostle adopts. but ‘complex’.A. 1992). pp. as defined. But I call ‘simple’ an action in which [15] (being. composing works to be per-formed at contests. but others complex. they are often forced to distort the connection [sc.” which is another way of saying that plots and actions which are episodic are without exception the worst. continuous and one) a change without reversal or recognition results. B. Aristotle’s Poetics. (= ch. lack of skill]> but by the good because of the actors. 37 My reason for moving this sentence here will be found in my note on this section given below. however. it being Aristotle’s view that a plot which is continuous and one will consist of incidents which do not merely precede a recognition or reversal. note 8 to Chapter 9. should arise from the very way in which the plot is put together [or ‘from the structure of the plot itself’.36 | For then. If the last letter of the Greek term is changed to “s”. 1990. 1459a 21). Poetics ch. At 1452a 14-15. 10 . a simple plot or action that is episodic would be a contradiction in terms. so that from what has already taken place [20] it happen that the things mentioned come about either of necessity or in accordance with likelihood. recognition and reversal. 1906. Dobbs. For it makes a great difference whether these things38 come about because of these things39 [= propter hoc] or (merely) after them [= post hoc]. 6. an analysis. 7 (1450b 34—1451a 15 (tr. or reversal. Apostle in his edition: Perhaps there is a corruption of the Greek text. Our explanation is simple. and questions. 5.M. it will have its parts fittingly arranged (cf. consequently. The Poetic of Aristotle. 1452a 11)]37 4. Poetics ch.40 of plots and actions the episodic are the worst. and extending the plot beyond its capacity. ch.. for.” leaves out plots and actions which are not simple…. but which precipitate them. the poem’s beginning. 9 (1451b 34–1452a 1) (excerpt): But simply speaking. should not begin or end just anywhere. If the Greek term a(plw=n (= “of simple. the incidents which precede them in time. (Hippocrates G. I call ‘episodic’ a plot in which it is neither [35] likely nor necessary that the episodes follow one another. Grin-nell.” in the plural) is kept. 63-64) Actually.

but also of things evoking fear and pity. as. as in bodies and in animals there should be size. for such things seem not to have happened at random. as Aristotle explains (cf. nor yet a very large animal. such as if there should be an animal of ten thousand stadia [in length]. XI. as I point out in a note appended to this paper. since that which is beautiful. For if it were necessary to perform a hundred tragedies. 44 It should be noted here that the case of Mitys is presented as something that actually took place. since not every imitation evokes pity and fear. ‘in whatever extent. But the definition according to the nature of the thing is this. if at the same time it is perspicuous. being unusually lacunose. the words needed to complete the sense being easily inferred from the context. 1064b 36—1065a 2). since even in things brought about by luck. being things happening per accidens. also concerns that modality.42 | 7. but its being one and a whole escapes the view of the onlookers. whether it be a living thing or anything else which is composed of certain things. that the plot is [10] always more beautiful the greater it is. since it is effected in a nearly insensible time. 43 As the reader will observe. contrary to expectation. an additional passage may have stood between the two. but such as can be easily seen. for instance. 8. that is. should not only [35] have these things arranged [= their connection].43 For then they will have more of the wonderful than if <they were brought about> by chance and luck. Poetics ch. the foregoing statement furnishes in the briefest form compatible with clarity my understanding of what has been lost from the text. the text of this section. And so. one may say. in successive incidents in accordance with likelihood or necessity. but they become such to the greatest extent when. But in order to define it simply.B.. But the definition of the length with reference to contests and the senses does not fall under the consideration of art. [1451a] for it is not contemplated at once. these being the three ways in which things happen. is a [15] sufficient limit of the size’. <it is evident that they ought to be made to happen in this way>. a subject to which I have devoted a treatment of its own. 11 . as they are said to have been at one time. they are accomplished [5] through each other. these seem most wonderful whenever they appear to have been accomplished as though [10] by design. the statue of Mitys of Argo killed the man responsible for Mitys’ death. or for the least part. Inasmuch as the remainder of Chapter 9 has to do with the modality of the pragmata composing a plot. whereas the last thing mentioned in Section 7. concerning chance things which “seem not to have happened at random”. but this such as can be [5] easily remembered. Metaph. has required several additions.44 § N. the first words added being especially required to avoid a manifest falsehood. the performance would have to be regulated by a water-clock. | But a plot or an action that has attained the sufficient limit of its size will for that very reason be perfect. that block of text would reasonably follow upon this.Further still. 9 (1452a 2-11) (continued to the end): But since tragedy is not only the imitation of a perfect action. so also in plots. being concerned as it is with “the sort of thing that might happen in accordance with either necessity or likelihood” (1451a 36). there should be length. for the contemplation of it is confused. 42 As with the text I have appended to Section 1 above. falling upon him while he was looking at it. a change from bad fortune to good fortune or from good fortune to bad fortune takes place. neither can any very small animal be beautiful. On the other hand. with what happens always and necessarily or for the most part. but also not just any chance size—for the beautiful consists in size and order—hence.

like a whole man [10] or coffer.” (St. [35] those which are so by nature are wholes in a higher degree than those which are so by art. B... B. 198b 3). St. But as the particular [whole is]. D. 11. in the first species [of quality] there is considered both good and bad. as sticks by glue]. 47 Cf. 49. not. wholeness being in fact a sort of oneness” (ibid. W. Thomas goes on to explain..e. are called perfect”.Note to Section 1 Let us turn now to the first supplement I propose making to the text. 7. tr. R. to be sure. 46 “And the reason why he says this is because a whole is not found in simple things. W. understood as the first thing outside of which there is nothing to be found and the first thing inside of which everything belonging to it is” (Metaph. III. as is said in the second book of the Physics (ch.. tr. But as the Philosopher goes on to explain (cf. nevertheless. cf. 48 “For when a whole consists of parts. the universal whole. tr. tr.g.). Thomas Aquinas. e. D. lect. slightly rev. But by ‘a whole which does not have size’ Aristotle means the whole which is said of but not composed of its parts. Thomas Aquinas. Metaph. n. but the end is a limit”47 (Phys. XIII. lect. whatever be absent. tr. but “as making up the unity between them…. we do employ the name of ‘perfect’” (St. W.. 2). Glen Coughlin). [i.M. being “that from which is absent none of the parts of which it is said to be naturally a whole”. ‘figure’ being defined as “a quality around a quantity” (St. In VII Physic. 16. “Whole and perfect. of its parts. this second kind of whole. where the end is the form and figure of the whole. Of these things themselves. as the whole is that of which nothing is outside. 1023b 26. 1023b 32-37. B.A. however. n. which do not have parts.). 3). 6. 7. Ross). Ia. especially if they are present only potentially [as with a body continuous by nature. W..A. but. II. Cf. 6. so too is what is properly [a whole]. V. D. 198b 3. as is the soul with respect to the body. the universal whole]. is “that which so contains the things it contains that they form a unity…”. in which.M): “And because the very form and nature of a thing is the end and that for the sake of which something comes to be.. Thomas Aquinas. V. B.is perfect and whole. V.. 207a 12-14).. heel and upper make up a shoe but are not said of it. according as some nature is the end of a generation and a motion. q. that of which nothing is absent. 12 . Ia-IIae. 1022a 5-6.e. failing this.A. But ‘perfect’ means “that outside of which it is not possible to find any. tr. 26. D. 8.M. 207a 8-12.. 1021b 9-15. 26. B. 6. 17. art.). In V Meta. 45 “For’ perfect’ and ‘whole’ is that which lacks nothing.46 Nothing not having an end is perfect. is not all”. either are entirely the same45 or are close in nature.. tr. as the sole. whereas the whole which does have size is composed of but not said of its parts (i.. For thus do we define a whole. Summa Theol. B. as St. As Aristotle explains in the Physics (cf. V.. But “the end and that for the sake of which” is “‘the what it is’ and the form” (Phys. Thomas Aquinas. like the form of a house. q.. whereas the form of the whole which does give being to the parts is substantial.”. 8. the form of the whole which does not give being to the individual parts is a form which is composition and order. even one. Ross. the perfect [or ‘complete’] time of each thing is that outside which it is not possible to find any time which is [15] a part proper to it” (Metaph.M.. 76. That of which there is something absent outside. tr. Summa Theol. 5. art 2.. this being good. being its “termination” (ibid. tr. 16 (1021b 24-25) (tr. Ross). like water]. as the genus ‘animal’ is said of but not composed of its species ‘man’ and ‘ox’ (i. “[t]hat of which nothing is outside. also Metaph. a thing having such an end possessing that form of the beautiful called “the limited” or “definiteness” (cf. even if they are present actually [as with two or more bodies conjoined in some way. and also movable with ease or with difficulty. the integral whole] (ibid. and such a form is accidental” (St.48 as we said in the case of unity also. Metaph.M. 1078b 1). n. 3..” Also relevant here is the fourth species of quality..M. “as being each severally one single thing…” [i. c. the integral whole).e.). For “[a] ‘limit’ means the extremity of each thing. Ross): “Things which have attained their end. c.A.A. n.). In III Phys. ad 1 (tr. V. 1023b 28-33). III. Metaph. thus. “the continuous and limited is a whole when it is a unity consisting of several parts. In the latter case.e.. 1023b 27-28).. R. Glen Coughlin).. Thomas Aquinas. lect. 4.A.

for which see below]. D. the parts of the plot must be arranged in such a way that the plot is one species: For. which. V. “[w]hile in a sense we call anything one if it is a quantity and continuous. not indeed as a homogeneous subject is called ‘one species’ [like the silver of a drinking vessel.Consequently. Cf. 1078a 37). II. properly speaking.. e. Ia. so too the whole will be one. 1449b 37) when. namely. R. a whole possesses that form of the beautiful called “order” (cf. 6. i. either by a nail or by glue or by touch or by growing together. happens when it has some one species. Cf. slightly rev.” (Phys.M. But when it is so constituted.. from which the foregoing formulation has been adapted: “The ‘continuous’ {sunexe/j} is what is indeed something contiguous. [15] it is apparent that the continuous is among those things from which something one is naturally apt to come to be according to contact. Then would have come the text of our Chapter 8: “A plot <. Cf. as it were. one whose parts are so put together as to have “a certain single form”. just as in the other imitative arts. 13 . are held together {sune/xhtai}. St. except something be whole and perfect. in which case the course of the argument would be both continuous and clear. however.. c. we may suppose that Aristotle. and. and then the form corresponding to such a matter can be called a ‘species’”. 3. but I call a thing ‘continuous’ when. q. Aristotle shows the sort of form it most closely resembles. St. 227a 10-18.). it is “a certain totality requiring a determinate order of parts”. “Accordingly..g..A. just as it is clear that we do not call something ‘one’. n. Note how the treatment of a thing’s being ‘perfect’ and ‘whole’ reveals the way in which it is both ‘continuous’ and ‘one’. GA.”. lect. one imitation must be of one thing”. the discussion of ‘poetic’ continuity in my Note to Section 2 below.M. B. Thomas Aquinas puts it). inasmuch as it is not truly a quantity and continuous. In V Meta.): “And he says that sometimes some things are called ‘one’ solely by reason of continuity.A.. etc. Summa Theol. 1016b 11-17. 1. 3 (tr. Thomas Aquinas. As for the course of the argument. when we observe the parts of a shoe composed in any way whatsoever. as the name signifies.): “For it must be understood that sometimes one thing is of one matter simply. 51 When he goes on to compare the plot to an outline or sketch in black and white. but we do say all the parts of a shoe are one when they are so composed that there is a shoe and it have some one species. it is not the soul of anything. the limit of each comes to be one and the same.51 49 Something being continuous when. that an imitation of an action is understood as coming under the foregoing species of whole according to a likeness. in those which touch. 6 (743b 24-25). B. (Metaph. 3. Thomas Aquinas. 6. n. cf. in those which touch. like a work produced by art.. unless it has unity of form [or ‘species’]. W. which pertains to the second mode set forth earlier. art. we call something ‘one’ in this sense when its parts are so arranged that the kind of thing it was meant to be results (‘one’ here meaning “undivided being”. where the necessity of having a determinate order of parts is indicated by Aristotle’s statement that “the parts of the thing must be so constituted that when some one part is transposed or removed it makes a difference in the sense that the whole is changed”. This is not possible if the extremes are two.. but sometimes not.> is not one.A.) 50 That is. something being one in this sense when (as St. as some think. like the silver of a drinking vessel. etc. In V Meta.e. Ross. Thus Aristotle speaks of the plot as “the beginning and. Cf. lect.. 50 Cf. 3. 11. And in the way in which the continuous comes to be one at some time. but is merely similar to one. It must be emphasized. we do this only if they are put together so as to be a shoe and to have already a certain single form [or ‘species’]”. if we saw the parts of a shoe put together in just any way we should not call them one all the same (unless because of their continuity). tr. XIII. in fact. etc. could have gone on to speak of the whole having size as being the sort that is one by having a unity of form—that is. V. the limit of each comes to be one and the same. e.. 5 (tr. except perhaps according as ‘one’ is taken for the continuous.49 in a sense we do not unless it is a whole. concluding with the words. and are held together. Glen Coughlin).g. This being determined.. the soul of tragedy” (ch. but according as the species consists in a certain totality requiring a determinate order of parts.M. however. after having stated that “there is a whole which does not have size”. of a shoe”. B. Aristotle’s definition of the continuous. Metaph. 8.. tr.

but that being the case. but one expects to find such a statement somewhere. 26. somewhat abrupt. while the text as it stands is unproblematic in describing what Homer does. “the one thing being done. it nevertheless lacks a positive statement of what correct poetic practice consists in. it must be emphasized that. and thus connects this part of the argument with the parts comprising Sections 2 and 3. the mention of a living thing and its identification with the beautiful seeming. as is clear from his account of the continuous excerpted above. from which it follows that a plot will be properly constructed when. 52 “But I call ‘simple’ an action in which [15] (being. or rather does not do. . With respect to this supplement. in constructing the plot of the Odyssey. around one action”. the place where I have inserted the definition of poetic continuity in no way appears to require any addition. Note to Section 3 Three things are to be noted here: First. 14 . further specifies the need for the parts of the plot to be disposed in a determinate order. while the statement I have appended to the end of this section is by no means demanded by the state of the text. the difference between things happening post hoc versus propter hoc. unlike the state of the text at the end of Section 1 where an omission is clearly indicated. a middle. my ordering of the second and third sections gains support.. which is precisely what beauty consists in. some one thing being done.. it [is] neither necessary nor likely that the other come about”. which ends fittingly with the death of Mitys’ murderer. continuous and one). that a plot. as we shall hereafter see—while the subject under discussion in the final section of the text preceding its appearance is neither about plots nor beauty. Second. etc. and an end of the sort whose species is changed by the transposition of its parts. as defined. There are two reasons why I have added something: First.”. V. 1024a 1-5).. it will be either necessary or likely that the other come about. But if so. . nor does the removal of this sentence impair the conclusion of Aristotle’s argument. Note to Section 4 The final point Aristotle makes here. and I have found no better place to put it than here. his remark at 1452a 14-15 would seem to demand it. comes under the second member of Aristotle’s last division from the passage of the Metaphysics quoted above (sc. a plot could be continuous and one in no other way. since the beauty of plots is indicated by Aristotle’s reference to their being “well-constructed”—the “well” here pertaining to a good disposition of the parts. there being no previous mention of this attribute in these terms. since each includes a part of this description. as with the previous supplement. thereby revealing an otherwise unnoticed connection between them. Second. then the plot will be both continuous and one. inasmuch as it is a whole having a beginning.52 it being unlikely that the Philosopher would refer to a definition as given unless he had actually given it. concerning.Note to Section 2 In describing Homer’s procedure in the Odyssey. however. But the statement about “such plots” being “of necessity more beautiful” with which Chapter 9 ends clearly belongs here. as it does. Aristotle informs us that it would be bad poetic practice to so compose the plot that. it nevertheless establishes an otherwise absent continuity with the beginning of Section 6. having been “constructed . since. as I have said. Yet Aristotle’s statement could only refer to a definition such as I have supplied.

but the due proportion of mind and body is the fairest and loveliest of all sights to him who has the seeing eye.. or that a man capable of growing to six feet is as tall as he can be at five. For our present purposes. ch. when a little soul is encased in a large body. 54 To see how these contentions help us in ordering Aristotle’s text. 53 the resultant whole. as with an animal or any other living thing which has grown as large as it can grow. concerning the practice of bad dramatists in distorting the sequence of the episodes. Cf.. it will be helpful to arrive at the same conclusion starting from Aristotle’s statement in the Metaphysics that “. 15 .. XIII. 54 To deny this would be like claiming that a tank which holds fifty gallons of water is full when it is holding only forty-five. for it lacks the most important of all symmetries..A. 1459a 30-1459b 37). a consideration which presupposes the more elementary understanding of symmetry found in his later account. Alternatively. also ch. in the passage under discussion. In the foregoing passage. then the whole animal is not fair. its truth will already be clear to one who has understood the definitions of “whole”. that a part too big is unsymmetrical.. however. W. D. or conversely. Likewise. 1021b 15-17. Benjamin Jowett): [N]or do we reflect that when a weak or small frame is the vehicle of a great and mighty soul. As for the statement I have appended to the end of this section. 16. when in respect of the form of its proper virtue [or ‘excellence’]. it is impossible for a thing that has attained the utmost of its magnitude. thereby making the argument continuous in both directions. Plato. whereas Aristotle. it lacks no part of its natural magnitude” (Metaph. will necessarily possess that form of the beautiful called “symmetry” (cf.. Thus “one should not try to make a tragedy out of an epic structure” ( ibid. by virtue of the parts composing it being neither too big nor too small. connects with Aristotle’s criticism of incompetent epic poets in Section 2. op. Just as a body which has a leg too long. then it is perfect.. Aristotle’s Poetics. 37). as well as with the remarks on the parts of the plot being arranged found at the opening of Section 6. 23 (cf. V. 3. or which is unsymmetrical [e] in some other respect. Cf. namely.M. Thomas’ commentary on it: 53 Cf. 21): “In epic.. of whatever sort it may be. as well as St. p.each thing is perfect and every substance is perfect. as well as in Plato’s text. B. we must first consider the whole of the Philosopher’s second account of the perfect. but in drama. Plato speaks of symmetry in terms of what is most evident to us. the parts assume a suitable magnitude because of the epic’s length. and hence unsightly. Timaeus 87d-e (tr. considers the size of a thing as a whole. Note to Section 6 As will become clear from Aristotle’s treatment of the relative sizes of the parts of the plot in his consideration of the unity of epic in relation to that of tragedy. Apostle et al. a thing possessing the limit of its size with respect to its continuous quantity will necessarily be perfect. cit. 1456a 12). is an unpleasant sight. explaining how there is both an upper and a lower limit to that size.Note to Section 5 Notice how the last thing mentioned here.). 26 (1462b 4-11). “perfect”. [the use of episodes suitable for one epic] goes far beyond what is expected”. namely. Metaph. But when its utmost has been attained. tr. slightly rev. 1078a 37).. p. Ross. from which this statement comes. to be lacking any part of that magnitude. a point I return to below. that a plot or an action possessing the sufficient limit of its size will for that very reason be perfect. where he speaks of “such parts each with a considerable magnitude of its own” (idem. 18 (1456a 14-15) (tr. a subject previously touched on in ch. and “limit” given above.

it is readily apparent that the point made in the present section concerning the plot’s attaining the limit of its size (cf.e. e.. as St..A. The case of pleasure also may therefore be of this kind”.M. but it may be relaxed and yet persist up to a point. given a reason for believing the foregoing species of quantity to be at issue in Aristotle’s treatment. ch.A.): [T]hat something is called ‘perfect’ by comparison to its proper virtue comes about because virtue is a certain perfection of a thing. X. it also being the sort of thing admitting of more or less. one is naturally led to wonder what else he might have said concerning them at this point in the argument. then. Ross) But.55 With respect to this observation. Now just as any natural thing possesses a determinate measure of natural magnitude according to continuous quantity. like pleasure or health—and likewise beauty. when in respect of the form of its proper virtue [or ‘excellence’]. a correspondence no reader of philosophical temperament will. will therefore be true of the plot insofar as it attains this excellence. B. namely. “. it lacks no part of its natural magnitude. a good thief and a good scandal-monger. 16. 3. lect. Thomas explains. tr. 4. i. Thomas Aquinas points out (cf. St. when they lack nothing in respect of the form of their proper virtue [or ‘excellence’]. As for the help in ordering the text the foregoing passages afford. is lacking to it. (emphasis added) Thus. as St. may be adapted to expressing the first way. whereas the principal point made in the next and final section concerning its attaining the limit of its power (cf..g. V. we have a perfect doctor or a perfect flute-player. and it may differ in degree. lect 3. In V Meta.just as health admits of degrees without being indeterminate. I think. in accordance with the analogy between a thing’s dimensive quantity and its quantity of virtue or power. as I have done. 16 . W. are in order here. 1173a 24-25. and thus possesses the third species of the beautyful. for each thing is perfect and every substance is perfect. (Metaph. Thomas Aquinas explains (cf. tr. so also any thing possesses a determinate quantity of its natural virtue. 1021b 15-24. 18. tr. Some further observations helping us to understand the way in which a work of the poetic art is determined or determinate. “to the greatest extent”) regards its quantity of virtue or “excellence”. we speak of a perfect scandal-monger and a perfect thief.) that things admitting of more or less. W. 5. n.]. why should not pleasure? The same proportion is not found in all things.M. 415a 15ff. [20] indeed we even call them good. D. transferring the word to bad things. n. which is their “proper term”: 55 But what is true of health and pleasure. as is said in the second book of the De Anima [cf. Ross) Aristotle asks the pertinent question. with respect to virtue or ‘excellence’. B. also being true of beauty. “in whatever extent”) regards its “continuous” quantity. 8. And thus. For each thing is perfect when no part of the natural magnitude.. which belongs to it according to the species of its proper virtue. Having.[What is called ‘perfect’ also means] [t]hat which in respect of virtue [or ‘excellence’] and goodness cannot be excelled in its kind. which is taken with respect to a thing’s “determinate measure of natural magnitude according to continuous quantity” (which is the kind of quantity directly at issue in the passage currently under discussion). In the Nicomachean Ethics (cf. In X Ethic. D. although unmentioned here—“may be called ‘determined’ insofar as they somehow attain that to which they are ordained”. tr.. Aristotle’s account of the second way in which something is called ‘perfect’. nor a single proportion always in the same thing. And virtue [or ‘excellence’] is a perfection. be willing to ascribe to chance. which is “the limited” or “definiteness”.

= The Heavens. is second act. 412a 23. With respect to its continuous quantity. n. 4. if a man can walk 100 stades or can lift a great weight. tr. With respect to its quantity of virtue or power. n. For it is said in On the Soul II [412a 23] that form is first act. c. i. too.e. rev. a. Thus. II. B.A. like a tragedy or an epic poem. with respect to its continuous quantity (socalled according to a likeness). in another.. and also through a determinate power it has an inclination and order to certain things proportionate to it. translated by Fabian R. Aristotle uses this manner of speaking here. even though he is capable of all the partial distances included in that quantity. since it also has one determinate form through which it exists in one species. for example. q. n. but operation is the ultimate perfection of a thing (or at least the product of the operation is. as is clear from the foregoing texts. Iowa: The Peripatetic Press.] Thus. H. as is said in the second book of the Physics (ch. and perfection (the form in this case being the plot). and operation second act as the perfection and end of the thing acting. is like first act. whereas the exercise of knowledge. d. it will be determinate when its plot has the ability to evoke fear and pity in the most effective manner. tr. this happens in two ways: in one way. 49. 27. G.A.. 56 “But ‘act’ [energeia] is said in two ways. For the quantities of things follow upon their forms”. with respect to the ultimate. the size of a thing is determined by what is greatest – for example. 4. 1. But his power is not described by these parts – we do not determine his power as being able to carry 50 talents or walk 50 stades. 334): Now. He says that anything which possesses its own operation exists for its operation. since he can do what exceeds. we say that the power of this man is that he can lift a weight of 100 talents or can walk a distance of 100 stades. and by the magnitude at its determinate measure. we always determine or describe his power in terms of the most he can do. 7. (In IV Phys. lect. in the case of those things in which there is some product beyond the operation.. B. lect.. 1.) Thus a work of the poetic art. lect. But. For example. with respect to its quantity of virtue or power. 1981. the possession of knowledge. which is to attain the limit of its power. Consequently. For “…the form is the term [or ‘limit’] of each thing. in describing the size of something that is three cubits. cf. q. Ia-IIae. the power of each thing is described with respect to the end. 25. being an operation. Conway. Larcher and Pierre H.A.” (Aristotle..A. as the heavy [is inclined and ordered] to the center. art 2. as is said in Ethics I [1094a 3-7]). as in the case of knowledge and as in the case of the exercise of knowledge. Apostle) [= Aristotle. being a form. as is made clear in the final passage given above. and to the maximum of which it is capable. for everything seeks its perfection as its end. the reason being that by the form the matter of each thing is terminated at its proper being. Thomas Aquinas. and with respect to the strength of its excellence. B.M. tr. 198b 3)” (Summa Theol.M.. limit. 17 . On this last point. a work of the poetic art like a tragedy will be determinate when its plot has attained the sufficient limit of its size in the way in which Aristotle has explained. 249): To explain the first [180] he says that if a thing is capable of something great. De Anima (On the Soul) (Grinnell. p. 19). 5 (= The Heavens. n. 3. tr. 3. we do not say that it is two cubits. St.) And so “…in material things each perfection is terminated and finite. 4. n.M). De Anima.M. In II De Caelo.” (In III Sent. B.56 Also worth quoting here is the following text from the same work (In I De Caelo. but by the most he can do. will be determinate when it possesses its form and nature as its end.But “the very form and nature of a thing is the end and that for the sake of which something comes to be. c.

in the case of the serious. What pertains to the limited or definiteness: the second part of Section 6 as well as Section 7. concerning Aristotle’s treatment of the structure of the plot as a whole. et dans speciem re]. It will be observed that the principal divisions of the text as I have organized it above correspond to the three greatest forms of the beautiful as follows: What pertains to order: sections 1 through 5.) One final point before taking leave of this section: since the text as it currently stands makes the way in which the plot attains the limit of its power into something other than being perfect. namely. “the virtue is the limit of a power. having a beginning. he can also walk two. namely. first considering their order before turning to their size. Thomas explains that “the contained and the limited pertain to the notion of matter. What pertains to symmetry: the first part of Section 6. the virtue of a thing is gauged in terms of what is most excellent of all the things that can be done. our interprettation suggests a further revision of its opening sentence is needed. 18 . namely. i. yet it is to what is excelling that the virtue of a thing is attributed. but to be containing and limiting. etc.Similarly.. to the notion of form”. lect. especially the last part regarding the “proper pleasure” produced by a plot that is perfect and whole. and an end”. no inconsistency would arise. then ending with what is most formal in it.” because. it is itself a form of perfection. necessarily can do what is less. (With respect to the last sentence found in the received text of this passage. For example. 58 Cf. if a person can carry 100 talents. above. but also <. V Aristotle begins his treatment of the structure of the plot with what is most material in it. it is plain that one who can do what exceeds. when. 7. Note to Section 7 As noted above.>”. “But since imitation is not only of a perfect action <in the way stated. that these remarks complete Aristotle’s introductory treatment of the structure of the plot is clear from the corresponding summary statement found in Chapter 23 (1459a 17–30). Thus the entire course of the argument as I conceive it may be laid out as follows: 57 For example. not that he is sensible. the attainment of its limit. I have given my reasons for moving it in my Note to Section 3. In II De Caelo. he can also carry two. in an action which is in accordance with reason. with respect to length>. because what is the ultimate and greatest in a thing is what completes it and puts upon it the stamp of its species [lit. that is. where St.e. This is what is said in another translation. i.. And this applies also to the virtues of the soul: for a human virtue is that through which a man is capable of what is most excellent in human actions. the previous sections having adequately treated the construction of the plot “around one action. and if he can walk 100 stades.58 a perfection itself presupposing the plot’s possession of the right size and order.. as we have seen. n. 20.e. were the text to read. a consideration to be made with reference to the principles we are now in a position to recognize as underlying the argument. which pleasure consists in the evoking of pity and fear. Consequently. we assign as the notion of man that he is rational. the parts making it up as a whole. whole and perfect. “and giving its species to the thing”. the three greatest forms of the beautiful. the virtue of a thing is determined according to the ultimate it can do. middles.57 We now turn to the final part of our paper. namely.

and thus ‘continuous’: Section 2 (a) Being ‘continuous and one’. Ross. “the one thing being done.M. of plots and actions. it will be helpful here to take a brief look at Aristotle’s statement concerning the greatest forms of the beautiful in the Metaphysics:60 Now since the good and the beautiful are different (for the former always implies conduct as its subject. 60 Metaph. inasmuch as the first three come under the heading “possessing order”. ‘simply speaking. As a way of rounding off our investigation.A. the ‘connection of the episodes’ being ‘distorted’. What pertains to symmetry: Having ‘not just any chance size’ but a determinate one. 3 (b). which is to have its parts so constructed that. rev. What pertains to order (sections 1 through 5): 1. 3.). namely. Being ‘perfect and whole. manifesting the way in which the plot is ‘one’: Section 1 Being ‘one’: the way in which the plot is not ‘one’ manifesting when it is so. order: Section 3 (ii) with respect to quality into what is ‘either simple or complex’ (a division of the plot itself into species): Section 4 (b) Being neither ‘continuous’ nor ‘one’. which has to do with the plot’s being ‘perfect’ in magnitude (the last part of Section 6. XIII. 59 Note that the members of this division may also be ordered in another way. B. as I have indicated above in my Note to Section 6. and an end’ (a division of its composing parts into species) and so possessing the first ‘form of the beautiful’. being neither too small to be seen nor too big to be grasped as a whole. which attribute is the second of the ‘three greatest forms of the beautiful’: the first part of Section 6 What pertains to the limited or definiteness. but the last. the limited or definiteness: Section 7 III. With respect to its quantity of virtue or ‘excellence’: when the plot has attained the limit of its power.. from which it follows that. the plot then being divided: (i) with respect to quantity into what has ‘a beginning. Before taking leave of this division. while the beautiful is found also in motionless things). the role it plays in the course of his argument must be inferred from what he says about the size and structure of plots as these are suitable to epic or tragedy (a plot being too large or too small in virtue of the parts composing it). II. 3 (1078a 31—1078b 6) (tr. those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. and thus composed of parts possessing symmetry. 2.I. it must be emphasized that. With respect to its dimensive quantity: when the plot has attained the limit of its size: the last part of Section 6 2. both attributes coming under the third of ‘the three greatest forms of the beautiful’. as well as Section 7): 1. a middle. 19 . W. the episodic are the worst’: Section 559 4. as Aristotle nowhere uses the word symmetry in the extant Poetics. it is [e]ither necessary or likely that the other come about” (this being the plot’s defining characteristic). D. having a certain size’. under “not possessing order”.

XI. but see De Partibus I. as well as the ‘ratio’ of its ‘elements’. whereas their relative sizes.. order and definiteness) are obviously causes of many things. as well as St. H. and those incommensurable which cannot have any common measure. by there being a before and an after of time. ed. excerpted below under n. D. [30] weight and lightness.. G. and also heat and cold and the other sensible contrarieties. But we shall speak more plainly elsewhere about these matters. 6 (5a 25-30) (tr. and the commensurabilities and incommensurabilities of others [tôn de tas summetrias kai assumetrias]. as the texts cited below from St. cit. 4 (416a 15-20) (tr.e.65 The third species of the beautiful. In V Meta. and leaves only the quantitative and continuous. logos means both the ‘form and nature’ of a thing. which is the nature of the whole they compose. evidently these sciences must treat this sort of causative principle also (i. 61 To this statement Ross appends the following note: “Apparently an unfulfilled promise”. 641b 16–642a 30. 18. if they do [35] not expressly mention them. where Aristotle discusses “order and definiteness” in just these terms.. in the next passage cited. as Aristotle explains. as others translate to hôrismenon. 64 will therefore enter into symmetry. from which it follows that the parts of a composed whole will be symmetrical when they are measured by something ‘common’ or one. [1061b] and the ratios of others. W. 20 .. insofar as they admit of a common measure. 62 (emphasis added) Now inasmuch as order consists in the before and after of things. 3 (1061a 29—1061b 3) (tr. 63 Cf. sometimes in one. lect. and does not consider them in any other respect. Cf. R. II. hardness and its contrary. definiteness (or. 25-26). sometimes in three dimensions.66 and to the formula{= logos} rather that to the matter of the thing. 67 De An. 5.e. And note how. though.. Apostle. cited above.. one could not see how the parts have a certain position with regard to each other or lie somewhere.g. But you would say rather that there is a certain order.. and examines the relative positions of some and the attributes of these.. Glen Coughlin): “In the case of number. X. it is not true to say that they tell us nothing about them. How this is so may be seen from the following passages from the De Anima and the De Partibus respectively: [B]ut a thing which is composed by nature of all [the elements] has a limit and a [certain] ratio [of elements] with respect to both size and growth. ch. pp.61 What Aristotle understands by these terms is helpfully unfolded by the following text: As the mathematician investigates abstractions (for before beginning his investtigation he strips off all the sensible qualities.g. Cat. limit and ratio] belong to the soul and not to fire. Loeb].” 64 Cf.For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them. op. and these [i. Nor those of time. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry [1078b] and definiteness. will therefore have to do with their ratios.. but prove attributes which are their results or their definitions. the beautiful) as in [5] some sense a cause. e. which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree. Euclid def. 66 Fire being a single element which grows indefinitely as long as there is fuel to feed it. Thomas make clear. and the attributes of these qua quantitative and [35] continuous. 65 In which case they will be commensurable rather than incommensurable. sometimes in two.1: Those magnitudes are said to be commensurable which are measured by the same measure. Thomas’ commentary on this passage. 73.67 For nature is more a principle than matter [a)rxh\ ga\r h( fu/sij ma=llon th=j u(\lhj. And since these (e. but yet we posit one and the same science of all these things—geometry)—the same is true with regard to being.. 1. the limited). n. 62 ibid.63 it is easy to see that “the relative positions” of quantitative and continuous things pertains to this species. Ross).

finds himself constrained to speak of the ratio (logos) as constituting the essence and real nature of things. as we have seen70—it follows that a thing will possess the perfection of definiteness when the elements composing it possess whatever ratio will allow it to attain the limit of its size (in living things there also being a limit to its growth). Cf. op.) 71 Cf.68 Thus. as well as the limit of its power. but states the ratio (logos) of their combination. And when things having motion. it will not appear to be something determinate and consequently not to belong to the genus of good things. where there is a proportion of many things ordered to one (the ‘one’ here being understood as the nature of the thing. And so the beauty of one thing is other than that of another thing... A brief but comprehensive overview of habitus. which means “hitting the mark” aimed at by nature. and order from their relative positions. B. Thomas Aquinas explains—but that magnitude is a function of the ratio of the elements composing it..” Cf.A. For he does not merely describe its material. and the like are said through a respect to something: since a certain co-tempering [or ‘balancing’. 1 (642a 16-24) (tr. 69 And this is true whatever the elementary composition of bodies is taken to be. also Plato. the same arguments will apply to works resulting from techne as much as those existing phusei. F. And so health is a proportion of humours in comparison to some nature.M. 44..There are indeed passages in which even Empedocles hits upon this.” Cf. tr. “each thing is perfect when no part of the natural magnitude. pleasure admits of more and less. whereas the others are inherent in the secondary [constituents].. William H. n. 2 (tr. will be found as an Appendix below. also Aristotle. as in the above-mentioned examples. Thomas. Animal. Ogle. E. such a form also according to its proper account admits of more and less. except for the first sentence. which belongs to it according to the species of its proper virtue. Since. As with a bone. and beauty to be in a certain symmetry of the limbs. 316. B. 228b-c (tr. Clearly of the want of symmetry. III. Ps.” Cf. which is death to a man. and say it is this one element. And from this it is clear that unity insofar as something is determinate is the reason why something does not admit of more and less. then. 1 (116b 20-23) (tr. the genus of symmetry. Soph. contemporatio] of humours makes health in a boy. in a word in all the primary constituents of the living creature.” Thus symmetry in the composition of the body will consist in the parts having an appropriate size relative to the whole.A. for this reason the very beauty or health considered in itself is said according to more and less. in order to represent the Greek more accurately). M Cornford): “Str.M. Benjamin Jowett). nature being determined to one). (N. is lacking to it”. so manifestly is it with the flesh and all other similar parts. Plato. Forster): “For health is inherent in moisture and dryness and in heat and in cold. 5 (tr. Such. as you will perceive. Top. inasmuch as art imitates nature as much as it is able.” (= 26e. In X Ethic. as St. since its being limited or definite presupposes its possession of a certain ratio of those elements.): “Now when there is some form which implies in its own account a certain proportion of many things ordered to one. continually miss their aim and glance aside. 3. Thomas Aquinas.): “I reply that it must be said that beauty. for instance. But it will also possess symmetry and order: symmetry from the relative sizes of its constituent parts.B.S. lect. and aiming at an appointed mark. I. or a compound of all the elements. as is the case with the subject discussed in this paper. Since. St. or of the want of symmetry? Theaet. Phaedrus 26a-e. then. shall we say that this is the effect of symmetry among them. comprising an article from the Summa of St. 21 . which I have translated after Apostle. 70 But this within a certain latitude. makes no difference. cit. Selected Works. which it does not do in an old man: for there is a certain health of a lion. or those two or three elements.. also In Psalm. especially the remark about the epitaph of Midas the Phrygian: “Now in this rhyme whether a line comes first or comes last. with respect to a thing composed by nature of all the elements. each of which imply a proportion agreeing with the nature of that which is called ‘beautiful’ or ‘healthy’. Consequently. Note also that.71 68 De Part.69 not only in the sciences of nature. for strength is generally considered to reside in sinews and bones. This is clear in health and in beauty. n. And likewise beauty consists in a proportion of the limbs and colors. p. but also in mathematics. the understanding of it will involve their consideration as well. the defect here being a sort of non sequitur. and following the [20] guidance of fact. as Aristotle says. there will be ‘symmetry’.. is the case when he explains what is a bone. health. And because a proportion of this kind can be more or less suitable. and the same is true with respect to its continuous quantity.

whereas the limited or definiteness has to do with its ‘elements’. with a body of its own. Ia-IIae. for natural powers without habits are principles of acts. B. then. Thomas Aquinas. For habits are that whereby something is well or badly disposed toward something. It would seem that it is not necessary for there to be habits. the genus of symmetry. Further.With respect to their sizes. and thus of beauty. then one has the perfection consisting in the ‘limited’ or ‘definiteness’. therefore. which is their proper term (cf. which is the cause of the determination of size and growth is the principal cause of growth”. for according to form something is good. there is no necessity for habits. symmetry. 72 Cf. 49. and it must have a middle and extremities that are fitting both to one another and to the whole work. not only taken with reference to each other. q. then.72 As we have noted above. and a determinate ratio of size and growth. obj.A. and limbs. 8)—the ‘somehow’ here indicating a certain latitude—and this pertains to symmetry. for just as in any species certain proper accidents are due. although there is some latitude by reason of a diversity of matter. things admitting of more or less may be called ‘determined’ insofar as they somehow attain that to which they are ordained. Phaedrus 264c (tr. In X Ethic. 4 (tr. but the limited or definiteness to that the ratio of whose ‘elements’ allows it to attain the limit of its size. 9 (tr. so does habit.): “Now it is obvious that in all things that are according to nature there is a certain term. powers existing. Fowler): “Every speech must be put together like a living creature. 73 whether taken with respect to its continuous quantity (being neither too big nor too small). too. From the foregoing considerations.. lect 3. Harold N. obj. as well as a being. Summa Theol.B. But there is nonetheless a certain quantity beyond which the human species cannot go. while with respect to their order there must be a beginning. whereas the existence of an upper and lower limit to both size and growth is due to the form. But when the utmost a thing can possess is attained. and an end will possess that species of the beautiful called order when its parts are so arranged that its form or species results. whereas symmetry will belong to a thing the commensuration of whose parts allows it to attain its appropriate size. Therefore. as has been said. habit implies an order to an act. And note how the admitting of a certain latitude is due to the matter. as with the limbs and colors of an animal. But power sufficiently implies the principle of an act. a whole having a beginning. That.” 73 Inasmuch as symmetry and the limited both involve the attaining of a term. and so pertains to the species. 2. St. deserves to be cited in full. and definiteness a reasonable procedure.. 3. Cf. obj. 8. n. Note. Therefore. that symmetry is taken with reference to the ‘secondary’ constituents of a thing. so that it will be neither too small to be perceived nor too large to be taken in at a glance. the cause here being the logos understood as the form or nature of the thing. art. it was superfluous for there to be habits. so also proper quantities. the following consideration of habitus.M. As we have seen. but also looking to the nature of the thing. it must be neither without head nor without legs. as when a thing has grown as large as it can grow. In II De Anima. or with respect to its quantity of virtue or power.) To the fourth one proceeds as follows. so neither do habits. B. as Plato recognizes when he compares a complete discourse to an animal having a head. it was not necessary for there to be habits. in which case it will have the ability to produce its proper effect—which is to say. it will be helpful here to distinguish between them. to carry out its proper operation in the most effective manner.] Appendix on Habitus: St. and so pertains to the individual. a trunk. we understand that the parts must be neither too big nor too small. a middle. making Aristotle’s introductory treatment of the structure of the plot in terms of order. Further. and an end there. Inasmuch as it reduces to unity many parts of the foregoing investigation.A. we observe how definiteness presupposes symmetry. just as a power relates to good and bad. lect. a middle.M. Therefore. and there is another quantity so small beyond which a man cannot be found. which in turn involves order. Thomas Aquinas. n. 1. and just as powers do not always act. [N. But something is well or badly disposed through its own form. 22 .

or. we do not speak of as dispositions or habits. therefore. that that which is disposed be other than that to which it is disposed. or according to species. habits are certain perfections. q. 12. Cf. a disposition or habit for form has no place there.M. is that it is the interrelation of parts toward one another and toward the whole. where St.. Ennead I. attracts you. And again. Consequently. or according to hot or cold.e. which is the end. that something stand in need of being disposed toward another. as was said above. But as several of our witnesses note. 1. I may say. in other words. 1: “What is it that impresses you when you look at something. indeed. that beauty in visible things as in everything else consists of symmetry and proportion. And so if a heavenly body is composed of matter and form. also Robert Grosseteste. 1022b 10) that a habit is a disposition.. n. c. and thus relate to it as potency to act. since that matter is not in potency to another form. Euclid def. and a disposition is an order of the thing having parts either according to place. cf. 3. according to health or sickness. and to its operation or end. if something is in potency to another such that it is not in potency except to it. captivates you. there disposition and habit have no place because such a subject from its own nature has its due relation to such an act. as is clear in God.it is due to a created thing that it should possess what is ordered to it. Werner Heisenberg. it was necessary for there to be habits.75 74 An excellent account of the role played by commensuration in beauty is provided by Plotinus. and other things of the sort which imply a certain commensuration of many things which can be made commensurate in many ways. On this matter. I reply that it must be said that. Comm. 2. except according to an order to the nature of the thing. this must be considered in the order to the nature. 20. but as simple qualities. 75 Beauty specifically being a disposition in the second way mentioned. since it has the notion of an end. that order may be taken not just with reference to the parts toward one another. The third thing required is that many things concur for the sake of disposing the subject to one of those things to which it is in potency. 20. “Across the Frontier” (Harper.. beauty. B. which is said “according as the order of parts is looked to according to power or virtue. Thus. in Metaphysics V (ch. But perfection is most necessary to a thing.. vi. of ratio. For something is said to be disposed in this way as. if there is something whose nature is not composed from potency and act. And so. q. cf. cf. as is said in Physics VII (ch. it must be said that ‘disposition’ implies a certain order. And so the simple qualities of the elements. “. and fills you with joy? The general opinion. according to figure [or ‘shape’]. and in this way ‘disposition’ is placed in the first species of quality. 246a 11). and thus that to which it is ordered. which can be made commensurate to it in diverse ways. 1974. But to the contrary. art. and exists on account of itself [i. in Div.A. for instance. p. 49. or according to power.). also Summa Theol. and whose substance is its operation. 74 On account of which the Philosopher says.” But a proportio is “the habitude [or ‘state of being related’] of one quantity to another. Ia-IIae. which constitutes beauty as perceived by the eye. “of any habitude of one thing to another” (ibid. In their eyes. q. And if ‘well’ or ‘badly’ be added. Ia. 1. but also with reference to the whole in relation to some end outside.A.): “To the first.. But we call dispositions or habits health. habit implies a certain disposition in an order to the nature of a thing. it is required that that which is in potency to another be determinable in many ways.sc. And 23 . from the fact that its parts have an order in an active or passive virtue” (St. art. with the added element of good color. ad 4). there habit or disposition has no place. lect. according as something is well or badly disposed for this. Therefore. as was said above. (quoted in Umberto Eco. Nom.. in the way in which the double. cf. and of that whole to all things”. according as it is suitable or not suitable. as has been said. tr. the ‘habitude’ or relationship of one part to another will be ‘due’ when it is in conformity with that end. Now inasmuch as symmetry is understood to consist in a “due proportion”. as has been said in the first part. For this. B. Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages. p. c. 3). which befit one determinate mode of the nature of the elements. so that it is thus disposed well or badly to a form or an operation. 48): “For beauty is a concordance and fittingness of a thing to itself and of all its individual parts to themselves and to each other and to the whole. Second. generally. also Summa Theol. V. 21. And so something is not said to be disposed by a quality except in an order to something. the triple. only a composite”. Ia. which belongs to the notion of habit. ad 1 (tr. Thus. and to diverse things. Thomas Aquinas.M. three things are required. 2. however. nor also [is that matter in potency] to an operation because the nature of a heavenly body is not in potency except to one determinate motion. the nature of a thing being its end. First. something is not said to be well or badly disposed. nothing simple and devoid of parts can be beautiful. for its own sake]. In V Meta. art. or toward the whole. Thomas explains that “[t]o each one is due what is his own”—that is. 183): “Beauty is the proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole”. and the equal are species of proportion” (that is.

and color.77 I endeavor to demonstrate the unity of these separated discussions. as well as the way in which the latter passage fits in with the course of the argument up to that point. 76 For a passage furnishing a succinct overview of the considerations of this paper. as with the plot of a tragedy or an epic poem. natural powers do not perform their own operations with some habits mediating. according as they are considered as suitable or not suitable to the nature of the thing. If. but where there is an “extent” that is “the greatest”. it must be said that a power sometimes relates to many things.76 ***** NOTE ON THE FURTHER COURSE OF THE TEXT The reader will recall that in a note at the end of my reconstruction. inasmuch as it is concerned with the two additional ways in which things occur. for figure [or ‘shape’]. pertain to health. ad 3. where there is “a beginning. To the second. as was said. cit. and hence symmetry. hotness and coldness are placed by the Philosopher in the first species of quality. indeed. so. n. (Papers in Poetics 2) 24 . as we have seen.. or the road to an end. While that argument is valid. however. therefore. and an end”. thereby making up a coherent whole: Section 7 addressing things happening for the least part. I suggested that following upon the last discrete section of my reordered text would come (the remainder of) the text of Chapter 9.” But the thing having beauty will possess a disposition in the third way mentioned. pertain to beauty. also Plato. whether [the statue] has the proportions of the body and the positions and arrangements of each of the parts. the form itself is ordered in the last place to an operation which is either an end. and hence order. the latter text determining that the task of the poet is to relate the sort of thing that might happen according to either necessity or likelihood. belong to habits or dispositions.M. because they are determined to one thing according to themselves. And on account of this. there is a before and after. The same power. 3). according as they suit the nature of the thing. To the first. cf. it have a form determined to just one determinate operation. rev. ad 2. it is not in need of a habit determining it. both figures [or ‘shapes’] themselves and passible qualities. In a Supplement to be given next. how many [parts] there are and how they fit next to one another in the appropriate order. hot and cold. or whether all the things have been put together in a confused way? Do you think someone can ever know these things if he is completely ignorant of what the living thing is that has been imitated?” 77 On the Four Things Producing an Effect of Wonder According to Aristotle. To the third it must be said that the same habit does not relate to good and bad. but it is necessary that in an order to its form the subject be disposed by some disposition. ad 1. which is the sort of whole the possession of whose species requires a determinate order of parts. it must be said that the nature of a thing is perfected through its form. But if there be some power which does not relate to many. and hence the limited or definiteness.): “Ath. if someone doesn’t know what each of the bodies of the things imitated is? Would he ever know what is correctly executed in them? What I mean is something like this: [would he ever know.Since. as will be clear below. Laws II (668d–669e) (tr. however. habits are necessary. there be such a form which can operate in diverse ways. but where there is “not just any chance size”. What then. it is therefore necessary for there to be habits.] for instance. there are many beings for whose natures and operations it is necessary that many things concur which can be made commensurate in diverse ways. B. And therefore that a power be determined to the good. And in this way. there is a perfect magnitude. being concerned as it is with what produces an effect of wonder. and also the colors and shapes. as is the soul.A. no other disposition is required for an operation beyond its form. And if.” (op. Accordingly. but a determinate one. relates to good and bad. Nevertheless. it is necessary that it be disposed to its own operations through some habits. therefore. a middle. as it befits the nature of a thing. however. which is said “according as the order of parts is looked to according to the species and figure of the whole…. and therefore it is necessary that something be determined to another. Thomas Pangle. for that very reason connects with the further discussion of this subject in our Chapter 24. I there refrained from pointing out that the aforementioned Section. there is a due proportion.

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