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(c) 2013 Bart A. Mazzetti §
Introduction In my preceding paper,1 I have argued that the last discrete section of Chapter 9 should come right after the treatment of the right size for the plot; then gave a reason why the preceding part, on the task of the poet, would come next; then, in a final note, qualified that judgment by pointing out that an additional passage concerning what produces an effect of wonder found in our Chapter 24 may be fitted between the two, a subject to which I now turn. In what follows, I shall begin with what the last section of my reordered text, followed by the passage from Chapter 24 (itself requiring a single reordering of its parts), before appending certain notes explaining their interrelations. §
‘Perfect and Whole:’ Aristotle on the Structure of the Plot (Papers In Poetics 1).
but what is irrational [alogos]. Poetics ch. Il. the stories should not be constructed from irrational parts. since even in things brought about by luck. For then they will have more of the wonderful [thaumaston] than if <they were brought about> by chance and luck. a remark making it clear that the unlikely and the incredible are. unbelievable [apithanon]. falling upon him while he was looking at it. <it is evident that they ought to be made to happen in this way>.Th. in some sense at least. as. Note also that the examples he gives here illustrate something irrational in the composition of the incidents precisely because they involve something impossible.. 2 Cf. 60: “…Aeschylus and Sophocles both wrote a play entitled Mysians. for such things seem not to have happened at random. if they were not. by W. but to the greatest extent possible they should have nothing irrational. would appear laughable—these men standing around and not pursuing. Nevertheless. Presumably the anachronism shocked Aristotle. as in the Electra. thereby rendering them errors against the poetic art as such. Malcolm Heath’s note (cf. 1 (252a 10-23) where Aristotle explains that. But that which is unnatural by having no order has no logos or ratio—that is. 5 or in the Mysians.). those things that are impossible but likely are preferable to those that are possible but incredible. what is ‘without reason’. Poetics ch.2 through which the wonderful itself chiefly comes about. at least they should be outside the plot as represented [ exo tou muthematos]. interchangable. Cf. 6 Cf. inasmuch as the comparison of one thing with another is the proper and connatural act of reason (cf. Ia-IIae. 24 (1460a 13-18. since nature is a principle of order in things. 9 (1452a 2-11): But since tragedy is not only the imitation of a perfect action. 205. Aristotle. because of the blood-guilt incurred by the killing of his uncle…. 5 Cf.6 1 By way of anticipating our argument below. they are quite unlikely. Vol. the games had not yet been established. or ‘illogical’. 32. as I explain in my separate treatment of Chapter 15. whatever does not admit of such comparison will be deemed irrational. it is alogos or ‘irrational’. Aristotle’s remark below on the assigning of names in tragedy. that is. but <Achilles> gesturing <to restrain them>—but they escape notice in verses.1 2.” That is to say. S. Phys. or ‘inexplicable’. Hence. Aristotle in 23 Volumes. 8. for instance. they would not have happened. Cambridge and London. If not. he could speak to no one in the course of his lengthy journey. 1932): “In Sophocles' Electra the plot hinges on a false story of Orestes' death by an accident at the Pythian games. 3 Cf. the one giving an account of the Pythian games. concerned with Telephus. Fyfe (cf. but not within  the drama itself. 1460a 27-1460b 1): It is necessary therefore in tragedies to produce the wonderful.. or ‘unaccountable’.22.3 if they were accomplished on the stage. 23. <intervening text moved below> Now on the one hand. Aristotle: Poetics [London.4 but on the other. these seem most wonderful whenever they appear to have been accomplished as though  by design [hôsper epitêdes phainetai gegonenai].” 3 . contrary to expectation. p. but also of things evoking fear and pity.REORDERED TEXT FROM CHAPTERS 9 & 24 1. that such things are possible is clear since. c. but they become such to the greatest extent when. VIII. Fyfe. the man who came to Mysia from Tegea without making a sound. H. and therefore difficult to believe. they are accomplished through each other [para ten doxan di allela]. translated by W. 4 That is. the statue of Mitys of Argo killed the man responsible for Mitys’ death. seeing that  the circumstances concerning the pursuit of Hector [ Hektoros dioxis]. 1996. Penguin Classics]). And so such plots of necessity are more beautiful. the note ad loc. art. H. nothing disordered is natural. q. is more permissible in epic because one does not behold the person doing something. such as Oedipus’ not knowing how Laius died. as opposed to the practice of comic poets.
for which see my discussion below. O Socrates.e. “It is surprising.'s dress and his companions (Hom.” He makes his deductions so convincing that we falsely infer the truth of his hypothesis. p. as will be explained below. allal polu qaumasstoteron ei mh toiotoj en. 4 Cf. the first also is or comes to be. “What a surprising dream. Its sign is that all men recount a deed by adding to it in order to gratify [their hearers]. For the connections the following passage has the preceding.” 3 But what men add is to muthodes. The reason is that. but this is false. but it would be much more wonderful.B. 1).: “Hom. the rationale producing this species of the wonderful consists in what is not only impossible but also unlikely.” (atopa ge w Swxrathj).” (wj atopon enupion Swxrathj). Therefore chessmen can come to life. Note that Fyfe’s example from Through the Looking-Glass belongs rather to the preceding case inasmuch as the antecedent is impossible to nature as such. An example of this is the Washing  [i. rather than just to human nature. it will also be absurd [ atopon]. Cf. still. if it were not a thing of this kind. Poetics ch. e. Cf. whereas one paralogizes when the antecedent is possible but the consequent does not follow (being what logicians call the fallacy of the consequent. as in the Crito. or that which is paradoxical. as one grants the existence of the Land of Oz or the Wonderland of the Alice books.164-260). Translated by Thomas Taylor.116ff. Therefore his story is true. commits the fallacy of inferring the truth of the antecedent from the truth of the consequent: “If his story were true. But he does know them. the poet conceals the absurdity by rendering it pleasing through other excellences.) 2 I. And this is  paralogism [ false reasoning]. see further below. And note here that. But he is a most awful duffer (look at him!). he would know these details. Socrates.4 N. pleases. and it appear that it could have been worked out more in accord with reason. as Fyfe notes). as in the Theaetetus. as with mythical creatures like the centaur or chimera. Fyfe’s note ad loc. or the wonderful. As evidence. Od. 67: But the word “surprising” (atopon) manifests that which happens contrary to expectation. paralogize] that the first is also true. 24 (1460a 18-26): The wonderful. Odysseus tells Penelope that he is a Cretan from Gnossus. 3. even if the first is false. Commentaries of Proclus on the Timaeus of Plato (1829 Vol. when the thing that comes after exists. our souls falsely reason [sc. however. the next note. 1 Cp. For when we know this is true.And so to say that the plot would be ruined [if the irrational things were removed] is laughable: for such things ought not to be composed in the first place.1 since the irrational things in the Odyssey—about the manner of <Odysseus’> exposure 2—would clearly be intolerable if a bad poet will have produced them.” (kai ouden ge atopon.: Odyssey 19. being impossible to nature as such . Proclus Diadochus.g.e. It seemed to the critics inexplicable that Odysseus should not awake when his ship ran aground at the harbour of Phorcys in Ithaca and the Phaeacian sailors carried him ashore. but the consequent is made to appear to follow.: “If chessmen could come to life the white knight would be a duffer. P. the Bath-Scene in the Odyssey]. [1460b] As it is. this existing or being done when that is or is done. if what comes after is. or mythologems like the divine descent of Achilles or Herakles. 4 . “And it is not surprising. 13.” The artist in fiction uses the same fallacy. fabulous or incredible marvels. he describes O. as in the Gorgias. Od. But if <an irrationality>  be laid down. Fyfe’s note ad loc.3 But Homer chiefly taught others how one must tell a lie. since he had been set down asleep on the shore of Ithaca. For men suppose that. on his voyage to Troy. it is supposed <that the first> must exist or be done. 19. and so differs from the preceding case. who once entertained O.
1456a 24-25). Things that have not happened. the others are made up. See our final section below.M. but ‘particular’ [ to de kath' hekaston] is what Alcibiades did or suffered. one must not seek to adhere entirely to the traditional stories.A. On the other hand. For in a like manner in this [work] the things done as well as the names are made up. for poetry relates rather the universal [ poiêsis mallon ta katholou]. even unlikely things have a certain likelihood of happening. Poetics ch. for if it were impossible it would not have happened. tôi poiôi ta poia atta sumbainei legein ê prattein kata to eikos ê to anankaion]. The reason is that the possible is believable. is the sort of thing a certain sort of man happens to say or do according to what is likely or necessary [ estin de katholou men. for which reason no contradiction arises. the unity of which is not impaired by the intervening treatment of three additional cases of what produces an effect of wonder but merely momentarily delayed. but in the wrong order). I turn now to my notes explaining the foregoing rationales. But in comedy this has already become clear. Therefore. but in certain [works] none of them [are known. but they differ in this. although in tragedies one  or two names are more known [or ‘famous’]. having constructed plots from things that are likely [dia ton eikoton]. Aristotle argues that such occurrences are not the concern of the poet as such. For this reason. So it is clear from these things that a poet [or ‘maker’] ought to be the ‘poet’ [or ‘maker’] of plots rather than of verses.] as in the Antheus of Agathon. poetry is more philosophical and more serious than history. for nothing prevents certain things that have happened from being the sort of things that are likely to happen. for which reason it is at least possible that they were originally found together. But here in the present passage. as noted above. that the one relates what has happened . yet they give pleasure to everyone. not what has happened. Hence we observe the intimate connection between these passages (both transmitted as parts of Chapter 9. they thus suppose any chance names and do not. namely. the anecdote concerning it. B. and according to this he is their poet. the example of the statue of Mitys in the first excerpted passage of our reordered text. 1 Cf. like the composers of iambos. For. But ‘universal’. make them about a particular  man. in fact.  he is no less a poet. Now. so that even seldom-occurring events such as the death of Mitys’ murderer may come under the rationale of the poetic. 9 (1451a 36—1451b 33) (tr. which tragedies  are about. [1451b] (for Herodotus put in verse would be no less a historian in verse than not in verse). being an example of something that has happened but which is highly unlikely. whereas history. but it is obvious that what has already happened is possible. § N. ton de hoia an genoito]. in fact. For the historian and the poet differ not by [the one] speaking in verse [and the other] not. the particular [hê d' historia ta kath' hekaston legei ]. But in tragedy they hold to names that have already occurred. For it is ridiculous to seek this out since such known names are known to few. and what he imitates are actions.1 but the sort of thing that might happen [hoia an genoito]—that is.): But it is also apparent from what has been said that the task of the poet is to relate. and nevertheless they give pleasure. but the other the sort of thing that might happen [ tôi ton men ta genomena legein.B. For this reason. and  poetry aims at this sort of thing when it assigns names. since he is a poet according to imitation.CONTINUATION 4. 5 . but rather the sort of thing that might happen in accordance with what is either necessary or likely. although one fashion things that have occurred. what is possible in accordance with likelihood or necessity [kai ta dunata kata to eikos ê to anankaion]. we are not apt to believe possible. as the Philosopher also points out in Chapter 18 (cf.
Hett. then. Things which happen contrary to nature. B. In this regard. cf. but whose causes remain hidden: (1) What is possible but unlikely. rev. we are at a loss. a device.The four rationales producing the wonderful according to Aristotle 1. Things which happen according to nature. and stand in need of skill.M. For in many cases nature produces effects against  our advantage. cf. and hence incredible. and things possessing little moment move great weights. this is true: “We by skill gain mastery over things in which we are conquered by nature. W.  For as the poet Antiphon wrote. but our advantage changes in many ways. the para tes doxan di allela): ch.A. Inasmuch as every primary division is into two or three. but the consequent follows as if it were true: the composing of the impossible): ch. Therefore we call that part of skill which assists such difficulties. For the justification of my formulation. and others occur contrary to nature. but are the result of skill (caused by man): (2) What is impossible but likely. and all similar devices which we name mechanical problems. 9 (1452a 211) (b) Things which happen contrary to nature. but given belief inasmuch as the effect of wonder it produces is pleasing: what the poet adds in order to gratify his hearers1 (irrational insofar as the antecedent is impossible and the consequent is granted simply because it makes a good story): ch. S. there must be a more basic division presupposed to them. thaumazetai] happen in accordance with nature. Aristotle. the excerpt from Donald Lemen Clark below. 24 (1460a 11) 1 As with tall tales about witches and centaurs and chimerae and the like. we have to produce an effect contrary to nature. and hence incredible (rational.” Of this kind are those in which the lesser master the greater. and hence credible (irrational insofar as the antecedent is impossible. Division of remarkable things (= things to be wondered at): a. 1460a 27-1460b 1) (3) What is both impossible and unlikely. When. 24 (1460a 13-18. but are the result of skill (caused by man for his own benefit) 2. the cause of which is unknown. for nature is always disposed in the same way and simply. Mechanical Problems (847a 11-24) (tr. which are produced by skill for the benefit of mankind. because of the difficulty. but the number of rationales at which we have arrived above is four.B. 6 . The four things producing an effect of wonder according to the foregoing principles: (a) Things which happen according to nature.): Remarkable things [or ‘things to be wondered at’. but whose causes remain hidden b. but appearing irrational insofar as one cannot ‘account’ for what happens: such things happening unexpectedly but on account of each other. The division of what produces an effect of wonder: N.
Poetics ch. for. Butcher.beau.(4) What is possible. Aristotle.D. the antecedent is impossible. “what follows should be the necessary or probable result of the preceding action. but on the other hand. 24 (1460a 19-26) 3.M. the end could have been brought about as well or better according to the art concerning these things.A. Chapter II.org/gutenberg/1/0/1/4/10140/10140-h/10140-h. yet possible. pp. p. [presumably Chapter IX. Dover. 24 For instance. the irrational elements in the Odyssey “are presented to the imagination with such vividness and coherence that the impossible becomes plausible. then. Ph. Poetics ch. Ibid. but untrue (= what is credible. 1951). Cf. the right way for a poet to tell a lie. the pursuit of Hector [Hektoros dioxis]. 24 (1460a 26-1460b 5): Now on the one hand.M. controls the structure of a narrative or dramatic plot in that. (B. a credible impossibility is preferable to one that is incredible. Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry and Fine Art (London. Aristotle. not actuality. however.A. also S. Classical Poetic. even though we know in our hearts that it is not so.)] Cf.A. “Rhetoric and Poetry in the Renaissance: A Study of Rhetorical Terms in English Renaissance Literary Criticism. 9-10. 25 (1460b 22-30): First.)] 25. one must err  wholly not at all.htm [2/21/05]) 7 . [That is to say. if in this way <the part> itself or any other part be made more striking [ekplektikoteron].”23 even to the extent that the poet should prefer probable impossibilities to improbable possibilities. H.M. <then one has erred> incorrectly. Cf. X. not X is meant (B. 1911. On producing the wonderful by composing what is impossible but likely: Cf.)] 24. and hence deemed likely) (irrational insofar as the antecedent is possible. those things that are impossible but likely [ adunata eikota] are preferable to those that are possible but incredible [ dunata apithana]. 25 (1461b 10-11): For with respect to the making of poetry. but the consequent is made to appear to follow. the stories should not be constructed from irrational parts. cit. impossible things that have been composed according to the art itself are errors. We believe that which we see. for we have  stated the end. for by a logical fallacy even an irrational premise in an action may seem probable provided that the conclusion is logical and made to seem real.. for example. Aristotle:1 Aristotle goes so far as to say that probability. false reasoning. 23. 1922.” 25 Such a result occurs only when the characters and action are made real.” Donald Lemen Clark. the fiction looks like truth.. if possible. or paralogismos): ch. [see the next entry (B. 3. 172-173: 1 (http://library. 1. Cf. Assistant Professor of English in Columbia University. 392. If. Ibid. but to the greatest extent possible they should have nothing irrational. but those things <have been composed> correctly which attain the end of the art. rpt. Aristotle. XXIV. Butcher. Poetics ch. but the consequent does not follow. op.
we should have rejected: that is. for if the causes exist not. supposing such a thing to be. And thus. and. imposes on us.S. to be true—that is to say. syllogize.” 8 . 9. so necessarily. 65. such. in the consequences. Starting from these poetic data—the presuppositions of the imagination— he may go whither he will. in general. in Poetry. With respect to fact. it would certainly be followed by such effects. poetically true.1 He [172-173] feigns certain imaginary persons. if such characters and situations actually existed. things are made to happen exactly as they would have happened had the fundamental fiction been fact. and he consents to feel the truth of the conclusion. in On Stories and Other Essays on Literature. For the time being we do not pause to dispute the prw=ton yeu=doj or original falsehood on which the whole fabric is reared. N. but the comparison. speaking of instances of fantastic fiction. Whenever. or natural.d d Hobbes. if we see those effects. observes. in a manner. and infer the existence of the supposed cause. strange situations. all is equally yeu=doj. steals. for the moment. a postulate. But the consequent lies are so told. The Poet invents certain extraordinary characters. even the slight and willing illusion of the moment. would have so forced themselves upon our notice. as to impose on us. or situations. excerpt from Note 222. ed. sufficiently for the purposes of Poetry. as it seems. Everything follows so naturally. Walter Hooper (New York. are such as we know. Aristotle’s Treatise on Poetry (London. a)dunata. and situations. this is the logic of that temporary imposition on which depends our pleasure. by the natural sequence of incident and motive. as drawn out into detail by the Poet. their improbability. and. incredible adventures. Sect. and all fiction. he does not revolt from the imagination of such beings. It is not merely. must have acted and spoken exactly in this manner. and say to himself—“Such beings are here supposed. 486-488: The similitude of the logical and poetic sophism appears to me to be this. a)loga. or a novel. nature or truth. and. even. or disturb. and flings an air of truth over the whole. I will return to the poetic paralogism below. and imaginary personages. above all. Within that frame we inhabit the known world and are as realistic as anyone else. as I have said. the consequences of those events. and carry us with him. considered as cause and effect. from our view. as we are satisfied must necessarily. the truth makes the fiction pass. that the probability and truth of nature. yeudh—those marvellous and incredible fictions.At the outset the poet must be allowed to make certain primary assumptions and create his own environment. with hypothetic and voluntary faith. where there is a mixture of history and fiction. C. that we yield ourselves instinctively to the illusion. those. or would probably. even the impossibility of the cause. who. remarks. something to be granted before the story gets going. Cf. of representation. which. that. “On Science Fiction” (1955). p. I think. relates to the connection between the fictions of the Poet. as antecedent and consequent. 1 Cp. Thomas Twining. When the actions and the language of those characters. “In all these the impossibility is.” p. It induces us to believe. 13. The reader of a play. indeed. Lewis. or think. By vividness of narrative and minuteness of detail. therefore I believe they have existed:”—but he feels the truth of the premises. does not. The effects are so plausible. incidents. that “ probable fiction is similar to reasoning rightly from a false principle.B. follow. otherwise managed. as to destroy. but will treat the preceding case first. so life-like. the existence of those false events. of his works. indeed. 1966). had they existed. with his usual acuteness. or fundamental lie. neither can the effects. says the philosopher. we are disposed to infer the existence of the cause. so long as he does not dash us against the prosaic ground of fact. pp. the belief of the antecedent. or impossibility. this probability. 1815).
B. or Aeneas that of Aphrodite. and everything well imitated. 127: About twenty years after the Thessalian conquest. but the wonderful [ to thaumaston] is pleasing. cf. B. so also do they feel in regard to language. B. On what is added to a story in order to gratify one’s hearers: On the narration of things happening unexpectedly but because of each other. to the universally prevalent opinion that there was really a war in Ilium between Greeks and Trojans? And suppose. III. zenon]. is one of the most difficult undertakings that can be attempted. And so one should make his language strange [or ‘unfamiliar’.1 although there is no such marvellous event interwoven with it. Contra Celsum.): And since learning [manthanein] and wondering [thaumazein] are pleasing. was introduced into the narrative. as was asserted. because the sphinx. Aristotle.” 2 9 .. Cf. a recounting of the expedition of the sons of the seven against Thebes and the sack of Troy. for men wonder at things remote.e. Frederick Crombie). and had finally settled in a mountainous region on the south of Thessaly. Rhet. I know not how. and who had hitherto made several unsuccessful attempts to recover them. 1883). p. Poetics ch.M. and thus it happens that one learns something. 42 : Before we begin our reply.): For the way in which men <feel> in regard to strangers and fellow-citizens. 24 (1460a 17-18) (tr. or Sarpedon being the son of Zeus..A. drawing inferences] that this is that. by descendants of Hercules. I. Mosaics of Grecian History by Marcius Willson and Robert Pierpont Willson (New York. 2 (1404b 9-10) (tr. that someone disbelieved the story of Oedipus and Jocasta.2 or countless other historical events. For suppose that someone were to assert that there never had been any Trojan war. or Ascalaphus and Ialmenus the sons of Ares. about a certain Achilles being the son of a sea-goddess Thetis and of a man Peleus. how should we prove that such was the case.M. especially under the weight of the fiction attached. and of their two sons Eteocles and Polynices. the arts of painting and sculpture and the poetic art.4. with regard to almost any history. Cf. I. sudden turns of fortune] and hair’s-breadth escapes from danger [are pleasing]. Origen. and would wish to keep himself also from being imposed upon by them. their hearers]. 11. who had frequently changed their homes. 1886) (tr. and to produce an intelligent conception regarding it. and led. Cf. however true. the Dorians. for it is not such a thing that causes pleasure. Rhet. But he who deals candidly with histories. This important event in Grecian history is therefore called the “Return of the Heraclidæ. Aristotle. for all such things are to be wondered at [thaumasta].(1371a 31-33) (tr. and is in some instances an impossibility. that it actually occurred. for instance.M. Its sign is that all men recount a deed by adding to it [prostithentes] it in order to gratify [charizomenoi.A.): But the wonderful [to thaumaston] is pleasing. commenced a migration to the Peloponnesus. 4 (Buffalo. even if what is imitated itself is not pleasing. or with the return of the Heracleidae. but there is a syllogizing [sc. sc. such things as works of imitation must also be pleasing. who had been deprived of their dominions in the latter country. also. Cf. we have to remark that the endeavour to show. chiefly on account of the impossible narrative interwoven therewith. ANF Vol. how should we demonstrate the reality of such a thing? And in like manner also with the history of the Epigoni. And reversals [i. accompanied by portions of other tribes.A. a kind of half-virgin. will exercise his judgment as to what statements he will give his 1 That is.
cf. and legend. but has been written in order to gratify someone: i. And having said this. which they excite. In my view. and what he will accept figuratively. 5. and attaching them to such marvellous relations.. It is an absurd secret. fixing their attention. as having been written for the gratification of certain individuals. seeking to discover the meaning of the authors of such inventions. that the object with which each event has been recorded may be discovered.assent to. and which he will interpret allegorically. power of penetration into the meaning of the Scriptures in order that the intention with which each passage was written may be discovered. so to speak. comprising the fanciful embellishment char-acteristic of popular myth. pp. the third member being to muthodes. “thus runs the tale’. but wish to advise them that those who are going to read this story need to be generous in their approach and will require a great deal of insight and. what I have called ‘ enigmatic’ myth. etc.. fable. and will consider simply as things written to please someone [pros tinas charin anangegrammenois].9 (tr. and magnificence. and from what statements he will withhold his belief. and which he will refuse to believe. as with epic poems recounting the divine parentage of heroes like Achilles and Aeneas. Strabo. Horace Leonard Jones). mirth. the second member. and. in their narrations. and the Sphinx in the tale of Oedipus (= what is impossible. as well as unbelievable to some. cf. about the whole story of Jesus in the Gospels.e. 1460b 35-61a 1). sickness. On the practice of Homer as representative of the poet’s desire to gratify his hearers. 1 And we have said this by way of anticipation respecting the whole history related in the Gospels concerning Jesus. not as inviting men of acuteness to a simple and unreasoning faith. by the passions and emotions. Poet. 1. Origen. and of much investigation. that is. pain. sear-ching out the intentions of the authors of such fictions [ to boulemeuna ereunon ton anaplasamenon]. 10 . and cruelties. For an additional rendering. such things come under the rationale of what is impossible as well as incredible. Robert Lamberton): He who approaches the stories generously and wishes to avoid being misled in reading them will decide which parts he will believe. Geogr. David Hume. ‘enigmatic’ myth what is not to be believed. Contra Celsus I. such as about the gods”. ‘myth’ properly so called embraces the last two members of this division: the first member being history. but admitted by the hearer inasmuch as it makes a good story (as if one were to say. but nevertheless taken on faith by the many) As noted above. Of Tragedy (1757): We find that common liars always magnify. history what is to be interpreted allegorically or figuratively: i. as well as joy. 71-72: 1 Cp. the symbolic representation of the wonders of nature (= “an untrue story illustrating a truth”. 25. of insight into the meaning of the writers. comprising an impossible narrative. We do not urge the intelligent in the direction of simple and irrational faith. Note the division Origen makes: • • • what is to be believed: i. to muthodes (the fabulous or mythical). all kinds of danger. distress.2. “things men say. we have been speaking in anticipation. 42 (tr. which they have for pleasing their company. deaths. but wishing to show that there is need of candour in those who are to read. sc. murders.e.e. if I may call it that. beauty.
when he is discussing the wanderings of Odysseus. lit. the main statements about Sicily correspond to those of the other writers who treat of the local history of Italy and Sicily. and he did the same in the case of the wanderings of Odysseus. but using the false to win the favour of the populace and to out-general the masses. 22: Introduction: Composition and Plot of the Odyssey The Odyssey is generally supposed to be somewhat the later in date of the two most ancient Greek poems which are concerned with the events and consequences of the Trojan war. Collier. or ‘myth-making’].9 (In: Roos Meijering. Neither does he applaud the dictum of Eratosthenes that we may find out where Ulysses travelled when we find the cobbler who sewed the bag of the winds. ‘giving pleasure and ornamentation to what is said’]. he was wont to pay considerable attention to the truth. Homer added fable to real events. 1.” Accordingly.  The Harvard classics v. 1987). 8. embellishing and adorning his style. On the Odyssey in this regard: Cf. he does not allow us to treat Aeolus and the whole of the wanderings of Ulysses as mythical. but looking to the same end as the historian or the dealer in facts. just as Polybius says. 232] just so was Homer wont to add a mythical element [ prosetithai muthon] to actual occurrences [alethesi peripiteias. The truth he himself accepted. For an additional rendering. ‘Like a man that covers silver with gold’. Lang. H. Geogr. Geogr. 11 .. Now inasmuch as Homer referred his myths to the province of education.9. = ‘adorned it with story-telling’.” [Od. but to hang an empty story of marvels [kenon teratologian] on something wholly untrue is not Homer’s way of doing things.15. “And he mingled therein” [ Il. 14 ] a false element also. cf. he took the Trojan war. (apud Polybius. 1917): Having thus prepared his way. an historical fact [ gegonota]. but he has the same end in view as the historian or the person who narrates facts. and so also with Odysseus’ wanderings. Harvard.2.2. Round the memories of this contest would gather many older legends. [71-72] “And as when some skilful man overlays gold upon silver. left a strong impression on the popular fancy. p. doubtless. while also ‘placing therein’ some falsehoods. With Introduction and Notes. he took the foundations of his stories from history. LCL. This is what Homer himself means when he says of Odysseus: “So he told many lies in the likeness of truth. it may be said that nothing is known. Butcher and A. that a man will lie [ pseudoito] more plausibly [pithanoteron] if he will mix in some actual truth [alethinon]. 60: It was because Homer regarded his fables as educative that he thought so much of the truth. since otherwise they would not have been “in the likeness of truth. Translated by S. 1. thus giving flavour and adornment to his style [hedonon kai kosmon ten phasin . The Histories. Thus he added fabulous elements to the real event of the Trojan war. that while some mythical elements have been added. giving his sanction to the truth. As to the actual history of that war. who occupied the isles and the eastern and western shores of the Aegean. as in the case of the Trojan war. Strabo. So.. Strabo. and decked it out with his myths [ekosmese tais muthopoiias. = ‘really occurring reversals’ or ‘dramatic turns of events which have happened’]. the false he used to manage and command the multitude. Cf. Literary and Rhetorical Theories in Greek Scholia (Groningen. We may conjecture that some contest between peoples of more or less kindred stocks.” for Homer does not say “all” but “many” lies. myths. 6. Homer: The Odyssey. New York. For it occurs to us at once. but he says. for instance.
1893). and alone. In this outline the words. the suitors]. but he arrives storm-tossed. is himself saved. not peculiarly Greek or even ‘Aryan. Andrew Lang. 2 Note that it is this practice which Greek historians like Herodotus. p. and that the anonymous characters of fairy tales are converted into historical personages. xvi: “Our Odyssey is notoriously a tissue of märchen. and making himself known to some and attacking others [i. current among African as well as European peoples. 3 Cf. which connected the princely houses of France with the imaginary heroes of the epics. Cf. as with the story of the Argonautic Expedition. historically. are transmuted into false history. Pylians. or were connected with heroes whose fame was swallowed up by that of a newer generation. To take the best known example. as from the Chansons de Geste. and distorted. The extraordinary artistic skill with which legends and myths. to shape all these materials into a definite body of tradition. by Marian Roalfe Cox (London. but only a part (as Lang’s preceding comment accurately reflects). we are able to compare the real history of Charlemagne with the old epic poems on his life and exploits. the “Great Wanderings”—does not constitute the essence of the poem. is in the same way. The Iliad and the Odyssey assume this knowledge in the hearers of the poems. In these poems we find that facts are strangely exaggerated.2 The conclusion is that the poetical history of Charlemagne has only the faintest relations to the true history. people of Mycenae. 12 . contain merely potentially the “tissue of märchen” comprising the folktale elements. 3: “Odysseus entertains the court of Alcinous with the marvels of his adventures”. the memories which were cherished by Thebans. p. priests. quite as little of the real history of events can be extracted from the tale of Troy.and stories. Ephoros. it is certain that a poet had before him a wellarranged mass of legends and traditions from which he might select his materials. And we are justified in supposing that.—still current in many distant lands. a concern coincident with Aristotle’s and Origen’s examples of the divine descent of heroes: it being just such components of supposedly “fact-based” accounts (as with the Trojan War in the Iliad) that raised red flags among sophisticated readers. that purely fanciful additions 1 are made to the true records. has generally come about in this fashion. which we are able to trace. and take for granted some acquaintance with other legends. 1 “Purely fanciful additions” being equivalent to my understanding of to muthodes as what is added to an account in order to gratify its hearers. are woven into the plot of the Odyssey. but in the possessions of his household [standing] thus. that the more striking events of earlier history are crowded into the legend of Charles.3 These must have existed for an unknown length of time before they gravitated into the cycle of the tale of Troy. Introduction to Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants. The author of the Iliad has an extremely full and curiously consistent knowledge of the local traditions of Greece. that his goods are consumed by suitors and his son made to suffer plots. that mere fairy tales. and so on. By the time the Odyssey was composed. and poets. but destroys his enemies. Now that story itself is a tissue of popular tales. This is the rule of development—first scattered stories. then the union of these into a NATIONAL legend. We can also watch the process by which feigned genealogies were constructed. The Folktale. The history of the return of Odysseus as told in the Odyssey. It would be the work of minstrels.e. so that the marvels of savage and barbaric fancy become indispensable parts of an artistic whole. 17. The growth of later national legends.’ which previously floated unattached. a tissue of old märchen. ch. also Stith Thompson. as the national spirit grew conscious of itself. and Thucydides had foremost in their minds. 1455b 16-23): For the story of the Odyssey is not long: a certain man having wandered for many years. originally unconnected with each other. One must consider here Aristotle’s statement of the poem’s plot in universal form (Poet. and persecuted by a god. ‘a certain man having wandered for many years…’.” But it must be recognized that the series of episodes properly so called—namely. of Argos.—but all woven by the Greek genius into the history of Iason. is one of the chief proofs of the unity of authorship of that poem.
given human nature. Cf. for instance. ed. RFC 11 (1933). 13 . Genealogie und Mythographie. Lincei 8. 4 (tr. are customarily taken to represent one of the earliest instances of the Greek skeptical attitude toward their tradition (e. but whoever shall wish to have a clear view both of the events which have happened and of those which will some day. History of the Peloponnesian War. and the survey by Nicolai. For the stories the Greeks tell are many and in my opinion ridiculous’ (Jacoby [F. Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker . 22. although I am not in the least fond of myths [hekista philomuthontes]. The fragment is thus seen as a programmatic statement for Hecataeus’ historical method. but as a possession for all time. Derow in Hornblower (ed. Cf. PP 22 (1952).3. And. Other authors on the “mythical” (to muthikon) or “fabulous” (to muthodes) as something added to an account: On ‘enigmatic’ myth. as they appear to me. Jack Goody and Ian Watt. Berlin. Nenci. I. Literacy in Traditional Societies (Cambridge. 1994)). This method has come to be known as ‘rationalization’ (see De Sanctis. Jacoby. And theology as a whole must examine early opinions and myths [doxas kai muthous]. 1924):  I have been led on to discuss these people rather at length.6. in a passage where Hecataeus moves Geryon from Iberia (which seemed too far away for Heracles to drive cattle to Eurystheus in Mycenae) to “somewhere in the region of Ambracia and Amphilochia” (F 26). Horace Leonard Jones. cf.. since the ancients expressed enigmatically [ ainit-tomenon] the physical notions [ennoias phusikas] which they entertained concerning the facts and always added the mythical element to their accounts [ kai prostithenton aei tois logois ton muthon]. Geogr. 1923]). because the facts in their case border on the province of theology [theologikou].23 (= The Geography of Strabo. LCL. indeed.) Greek Historiography (Oxford. 45: Hecataeus. “The Consequences of Literacy”. “Hecataeus of Miletus and Palaephatus on the Past: Complicating the Ancient ‘Rationalization’ of Myth”: Hecataeus’ opening words. and offered his own rationalizations of the data on family traditions and lineages which he had collected. N.. and is illustrated. 10. happen again in the same or a similar way—for these to adjudge my history profitable will be enough for me. proclaimed at about the turn of the century. p. I. Lawrence Kim.B. Thucydides. ‘What I write is the account I believe to be true. rather than the fabulous or mythical added by the storyteller solely for the sake of the pleasure it affords. in Jack Goody. Fertonani. “I write the things that seem true to me. for example.. tr.6 (1951).g. to recover the truth by eliminating the fantastic elements from myths. cf. for the stories of the Greeks. Rend. For the case of history in regard to the mythical or fabulous. it has been composed. 1968). not as a prize-essay to be heard for the moment. are numerous and ridiculous” ( FGrH 1 F 1). QUCC 84 (1997)). Notice that what is added to an account here is the mythical component of enigmatic myth. Strabo. Charles Foster Smith): And it may well be that the absence of the fabulous [ to me muthodes] from my narrative will seem less pleasing to the ear.
Additionally. which is a kind of ‘activity’. namely. as when in the Catalogue of Ships the poet mentions the topographical peculiarities of each place. nor yet to seek history in them. 7. ‘the fabulous’ or ‘mythical element’.” of another that it is “on the uttermost border. “thence for nine whole days was I borne by baneful winds. or birth. nor look forward to 1 In the following excerpt this principle is named “rhetorical composition”. 1999]. (tr. will displease his hearers. being diathesis. it is translated “disposition”. 91-92: Furthermore. as though the phrase had been “fair winds continually blowing. saying of one city that it is “rocky. 4-5 (In: Tim Duff.” as applying to a restricted area (for baneful winds do not maintain a straight course).” 1. the aim of myth is to please and [91-92] to excite amazement [ hedonen kai ekplexin]. 14 . Rhet. Note that Strabo says that the aim of diathesis is enargeia—that is.B. or to poetic license – which is compounded of history.2 for everybody agrees that the poetry of Homer is a philosophic production—contrary to the opinion or Eratosthenes.” of another that it is the “haunt of doves. since it is when the sufferings of others are close to us that they excite our pity (we cannot remember what disasters happened a hundred years ago. the aim of rhetorical composition is vividness. lit. disposition. elsewhere. Strabo. 2 Notice the points of agreement both the passage from Origen as well as the passage from Strabo excerpted above. off the northern coast of Africa. the end of ‘disposition’ is ‘vividness’. “Life of Theseus. W. Thucydides remarks that his omission of to muthodes. 8 (1386a 24-1386b1) (tr. Compare the following: Cf. cf. But to invent a story outright [to de panta plattein. Here too we have to remember the general principle that what we fear for ourselves excites our pity when it happens to others. social standing. But if there be some discrepancy we must ascribe it to the changes wrought by time. Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring Virtue and Vice [Oxford. 18): May it therefore be possible for me to cleanse the mythic [ to muthodes] and make it obey reason and take on the appearance of history [ historias opsin]. Plutarch. implying that its presence would please them. Aristotle.” and of still another that it is “by the sea”. as when Homer introduces men fighting. II. and myth [sunesteken ex historias kai diatheseus kai muthon ]. Rhys Roberts): Also we pity those who are like us in age. as indicated. than to place the incident out on Oceanus. the underlying Greek.N. Further. for in all these cases it appears more likely that the same misfortune may befall us also. But the aim of history is truth. p. Lives.2. the facts about Meninx. or ‘being in act’. rhetorical composition. Geogr. character. Whereas the Philosopher states that those recounting a deed “add something in order to gratify”—that is. And Polybius says it is more plausible to interpret the poet’s words. who bids us not judge the poems with reference to their thought. On Homeric dramatic composition1 as entering into poetic license (and hence considered in relation to ‘history’ and ‘myth’) Cf. 1. Horace Leonard Jones). ‘to feign everything’] is neither plausible [ ou pithanon] nor like Homer. 1 agree with what Homer says about the Lotus-Eaters. “please”—their hearers.17.. or to ignorance.” 1 The island of Jerba. the first and the third members of this enumeration. pp.
The Poetics of Aristotle. because their innocence. bk. glossary and onomasticon (London. suppose also the first to be real or actual: which is a fallacy. in such times of trial. The correct interpretation is given by Victorius]. Rhys Roberts): Again. who are on the point of death.” So Aeschines described Cratylus as “hissing [1417b] with fury and shaking his fists. III. and Homer quoted. as well as the setting of their misfortunes before our eyes. It is there shown that the amateur can detect the charlatan by “the consequences”. people. and those that distinguish yourself and your opponent. When the existence or occurrence of one thing is regularly accompanied by the existence or occurrence of another. New York. Most piteous of all is it when. the first be a fiction. Translated from the Greek into English and from Arabic into Latin. tones. Plenty of such details may be found in Homer:  Thus did she say: but the old woman buried her face in her hands: 1 a true touch – people beginning to cry do put their hands over their eyes. which are such that a person may know them without knowing the science. if they find the second. and therefore feel little pity. falsely supposes that the first is real. Aristotle.what will happen a hundred centuries hereafter. and the old dame held her face with her hands. B. for such things): it follows that those who heighten the effect of their words with suitable gestures. xix. for instance. pp. because the rest of the passage occurs in the Rhetoric. 1 Odyssey. xix. Anything that has just happened. 1911). our pity is especially excited. are especially successful in exciting pity: thus they put disasters before our eyes.M. add that other thing. iii [1417b 5. The precept is to give plenty of detail. [1386b] or is going to happen soon. makes their misfortunes close to ourselves. but were it real. On the technique as proper to the art of rhetoric. for instance. cf. therefore. dress. is particularly piteous: so too therefore are the tokens and the actions of sufferers—the garments and the like of those actually suffering—of those. The same precept is given to the romancing orator. 8. how are we to know which line furnishes the example? The formula of the quotation implies that the example is known.” [Od. just coming or just past. commentary. where the process is still further explained. If. the victims  are persons of noble character: whenever they are so. 361] This example takes us to a passage of the Sophistici Elenchi [172a 23]. and shed hot tears” “for those who are about to weep take hold of their eyes. W. introduction. and make them seem close to us. 16 (1417a 361417b 6) (tr. Toronto. On the poetic paralogism or fallacy of the consequent: Cf. with a revised text.A. 24 (1460a 19-26) (tr. for the mind. knowing the law to be true. Relate the familiar manifestations of them. it would by law of nature be attended by the existence or occurrence of something else. because what people know is a sign to them of the truth of what they do not know: “numerous examples are to be got from Homer”. Aristotle. Example: That1 in the Bath-scene…. and the teacher will know it.) supra. if any. 24-25: In §24 Homer is said to have taught other poets how to romance: “the process is illusion. Poetics ch. you must make use of the emotions. Rhet. D. 15 .” The Bath-scene occupies more than 150 lines of Odyssey xix. and the example of the Bath-scene adduced—“Thus spake she.” These details carry conviction: the audience take the truth of what they know as so much evidence for the truth of what they do not. 361 Cf. Margoliouth. S. “he went away scowling at me. and dramatic action generally.
certain picturesque or important persons. 16 . we may say without fear of paradox that the more real they seem [31-32] the more fictional they are. Chapter xi: …[T]he real. purpose of fiction is to give pleasure by gratifying the love of the uncommon in human experience…1 1 Which is why “all men recount a deed by adding to it in order to gratify [their hearers]”. the appearance and behavior of the Mycenaean culture was hearsay. satisfies the amateur’s test. while the other is mainly dependent on the present. 1958). cf. For a more general application of this method. Rhys Carpenter. Herein lies a most vital distinction between saga and fiction. 1840-1891. On adhering to the truth of nature while making the uncommon believable: Cf. he has let something known to be true accompany his statement. The Greek historian Ephoros understood and formulated this principal very satisfactorily when he declared. We may well be skeptical of the extent or accuracy of anything such Saga had to tell. less accurate. The one is received from afar by relay from generation to generation and grows progressively vaguer. whence the mind falsely concludes the truth of the statement. particularly when we have once observed the use that oral literature generally makes of its saga material. Fiction. what we do know is the law of nature whereby those who are going to do the first do the second. and Saga in the Homeric Epics (Berkeley and Los Angeles. Notebook entry (July 1881). and if is altered. Certain great events.C. 1 The reading of B toutou to is evidently right. oral tradition three or four or five hundred years old— what I am calling Saga. To an Ionian poet living in the ninth or eighth century B. he would have to make its shadowy remoteness present and vivid by filling in its details and décor and illuminating its dark unsubstantiality with the sharply clear world of his own experience and time. the other is created directly out of immediate experience and visible environment. pp. but he cannot make sure of the expert. whereas in the case of events long ago we hold that those who thus go into detail are the least to be believed. Homer. He can detect the charlatan. 31-32: It is this direct borrowing from the poet’s own experience and from his own surrounding material world that I am terming Fiction. since we consider it highly improbable that the actions and words of men should be remembered at such length. nor that she put her fingers to her eyes. with here and there some poignant detail still adhering—these might properly have been the sum and substance of its information. may thereby become yet the more up-to-date and real. Folk Tale. from The Early Life of Thomas Hardy. 9. more confused. Similarly here what we know is neither that Euryclea shed tears. by introducing the detail. In the case of contemporary happenings we think those witnesses the most reliable who give the greatest detail. the leading drift and trend of the times. Thomas Hardy. Indeed.yet cannot know the science without knowing them. if unavowed. as Aristotle pointedly says. When a poet used such tradition for plot or setting of his verses. since it is fiction which imparts verisimilitude to his scenes. The one derives from the past. It is this which makes his re-creation of the heroic past seem so immediately present and so vivid. We may even make of this a theorem to assert that the more an oral poet seems to know about a distant event the less he really knows about it and the more certainly he is inventing.
“how to strike the balance between the uncommon and the ordinary so as on the one hand to give interest. 2 But. Poet. the reanimation of an already complete body promising to be the far easier task. but more detailed. while I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations. Chapter ii: The whole secret of fiction and the drama—in the constructional part—lies in the adjustment of things unusual to things eternal and universal. on the other hand to give reality.” On the assumption of the first idea. apply to prose 1 Cp. A strikingly similar. yet. N. possesses the key to the art. and endured with vital warmth. our paper on Plot Construction. Notebook entry (23 February 1893). 3 That is. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it develops. The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. The uncommonness must be in the events. and the most humble novelist. 15. brought together. Aristotle. without presumption. this end being attained by the solution to “the writer’s problem”. 17 . and how non-exceptional. 3 I shall not be supposed as according the remotest degree of serious faith to such an imagination. this “uncommonness” lies in making the impossible believable in the several ways outlined above. may. according to her “Introduction” of 1831: “Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated. I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature.B. how to strike the balance between the uncommon and the ordinary so as on the one hand to give interest. 1892-1928 (1930). not in the characters. which is introducing incredibility. human nature must never be made abnormal.The writer’s problem is. Or the Modern Prometheus (1817): Preface The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed.2 Cf. from The Later Years of Thomas Hardy. In working out the problem. as not of impossible occurrence. by Dr. the tragic poetry of Greece– Shakespeare in the Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream– and most especially Milton in Paradise Lost conform to this rule. The Iliad. The novelist who knows exactly how exceptional. a procedure involving a faithful representation of human nature combined with an inventive use of the extraordinary in the makeup of the incidents. Cf. namely. on the other hand to give reality”. account anticipating Hardy’s ‘solution’ will be found in the following: Cf. affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield. who seeks to confer or receive amusement from his labours. on the resolution of plots needing to arise from their construction rather than from the character. galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured. as we have seen. 1 and the writer’s art lies in shaping the uncommonness while disguising its unlikelihood. in assuming it as the basis of a work of fancy. his events should be made. ch. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly. and however impossible as a physical fact. I have not considered myself as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany. Thomas Hardy. Hardy explains why in the skillful composition of imaginative fiction what is impossible seems almost inevitable. if it be unlikely. one wonders where the need lies for the second. Preface to Frankenstein.
The season was cold and rainy. appeared to represent the practicability of combining both. September 1817 For a comparable account in regard to the composition of lyric poetry. During the first year that Mr. Marlow. and to the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection. I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader. suddenly became serene. Other motives were mingled with these as the work proceeded. 18 . The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation. the incidents and agents were to be. supernatural. has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. its causes and acrimony—Philosophic definitions of a poem and poetry with scholia. and partly as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind. and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. For the second class. nor is any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind. It was commenced partly as a source of amusement. and therefore comes under the third rationale of what produces an effect of wonder. 1817): Occasion of the Lyrical Ballads. These are the poetry of nature. and the excellence of universal virtue. and the objects originally proposed—Preface to the second edition—The ensuing controversy. cf. The opinions which naturally spring from the character and situation of the hero are by no means to be conceived as existing always in my own conviction. in part at least. the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature. our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry. where there is a 1 This is to make things impossible to nature believable. and in the evenings we crowded around a bluing wood fire and occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts which happened to fall into our hands. The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life. from whatever source of delusion. all memory of their ghostly visions. and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations. and my two friends left me on a journey among the Alps and lost. or rather a rule. In the one. Two other friends (a tale from the pen of one of whom would be far more acceptable to the public than anything I can ever hope to produce) and myself agreed to write each a story founded on some supernatural occurrence. from the adoption of which so many exquisite combinations of human feeling have resulted in the highest specimens of poetry. in the magnificent scenes which they present. The following tale is the only one which has been completed. however. It is a subject also of additional interest to the author that this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene is principally laid and in society which cannot cease to be regretted. the characters and incidents were to be such. The sudden charm. yet my chief concern in this respect has been limited to the avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day. supposing them real. These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation. which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape.fiction a license.1 And real in this sense they have been to every human being who. as will be found in every village and its vicinity. as discussed above. Biographia Literaria XIV (London. I passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva. which accidents of light and shade. The weather. Wordsworth and I were neighbours.
are really “full of matter”. Wordsworth added two or three poems written in his own character. But Mr. In this form the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ were published. which is characteristic of his genius. gentleness. Essays in Little (London. which a silly sort of people disparage as too wicked and ferocious for the modern nursery. in which it was agreed. Their lives and loves are crossed by human sorrows. which all follow two paths to the uninteresting. or at least romantic. and were presented by him as an *experiment*. N.’ and was preparing among other poems. whereas all ends well in a fairy tale. Wordsworth’s industry had proved so much more successful. to give the charm of novelty to things of every day.meditative and feeling mind to seek after them. courtesy. when they present themselves. which it is the peculiar business of poetry to impart. and hearts that neither feel nor understand. Cf. In this idea originated the plan of the ‘Lyrical Ballads’. though it wears a mythical face. In the old stories. lofty. They must display courage. an inexhaustible treasure.’ and the ‘Christabel. and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural. The hero and heroine are persecuted and separated by cruel step-mothers or enchanters. and he instantly forgot his old love. whether subjects.” Illustrated London News. that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural. 1892: The fashion in fairy tales changes. which from their nature rejected the usual ornaments and extra-colloquial style of poems in general. and gratitude. For a similar argument made with respect to fairytales and romance. ears that hear not. or to notice them. Wordsworth on the other hand was to propose to himself as his object. the ‘Dark Ladie. they have adventures to achieve and difficulties to overcome. and sustained diction. that my compositions. instead of forming a balance. than I had done in my first attempt. On this point. see also Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads. though there it ends tragically. and unobtrusively teach the true lessons of our wayfaring in a world of perplexities and obstructions. Mr.’ in which I should have more nearly realized my ideal. yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment. but for which in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes.B. In many the lover and his lady are separated by a magical oblivion: someone has kissed the prince. Andrew Lang. appeared rather an interpolation of heterogeneous matter. they have wanderings and sorrows to suffer. Mr. as well as his poem. December 3. Every Christmas sees a flock of new fairy books. though there are giants and lions in the way. which constitutes poetic faith. despite the impossibility of the incidents. loyalty. With this view I wrote the ‘Ancient Mariner. and address. Thus they are living in a real human world. and can only be recovered by her devotion. the interest is always real and human. yet see not. in the impassioned. “The World is Too Much With Us”. “Modern Fairy Tales. Andrew Lang. Their peculiarity is that they have no touch of human interest. might not be so managed in the language of ordinary life as to produce the pleasurable interest. The Sagas: 19 . by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom. cf. and the number of his poems so much greater. not for the better. 1891). The old fairy tales. and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us. The princes and princesses fall in love and marry—nothing can be more human than that. This is nearly the central situation of the “Volsunga Saga”.
What pertains to order (sections 1 through 5): 1. Geogr. xix. 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. 11. or circumstances that follow upon. he provides the sequelae. III.2. contains in principle his account of the rationale of the poetic as such: When the poet wishes to get the audience to accept something as true that is not true. falsely reasons to the truth or existence of the antecedent: So Homer (Od. “The hearts of women are the hearts of wolves. But the she-wolf’s heart broke. the man’s resigned and heroic acquiescence.B. But so doing is to create an effect that is vivid or striking. would. 1. The order of the text in sum: In my preceding paper. “the audience take the truth of what they know as so much evidence for the truth of what they do not” (ibid. I turn now to the whole which results from the integration of these passages into the text at this point. he provides “the consequences”— that is.17. Hence. say. in such and such a way. The situation. knowing the relation in question. Having adequately explained the four rationales in question. on poetic license. says Aristotle ( Rhet. but of all time. 1417b 4). Hence the hearer reasons to the “existence” of such persons and deeds. the revival of their passion too late. the hearer. explained above. 16. The magic and the supernatural wiles are accidental. with eyes perfectly clear. 1471b 5-6). Sigurd. as with the third. do. the fiercer passion of the woman. An elaboration of the foregoing technique as being proper to the poetic art as such: A careful consideration of Aristotle’s remarks in Chapter 24 to the effect that “Homer taught others how to lie”. is neither ancient merely nor modern merely. I offered the following outline of the course of the argument to that point: I. 2. Both man and woman face life. when she had caused Sigurd’s slaying. that persons about to cry put their hands over their eyes. and thus ‘continuous’: Section 2 20 . the human heart is essential and eternal. thereby being the sort of thing arousing wonder. as with the second rationale we have determined about. Being ‘perfect and whole. etc. who will neither bear her fate nor accept her bliss at the price of honour and her plighted word. whether to human nature.. N. having a certain size’. We know.These legends deal little with love. The same process occurs in the composition of poetry itself: When the poet wishes the hearer to believe that such and such a person. or suffer such and such a thing. 10. as Strabo. But in the “Volsunga Saga” the permanent interest is the true and deathless love of Sigurd and Brynhild: their separation by magic arts. having at last discovered the net in which he was trapped. 361) describes the nurse Euryclea as breaking out in tears when she is directed by Penelope to wash the feet of the stranger. some fact. he shows the antecedents and consequences of these sorts of thing. in which he lays out the form of the poetic paralogism. was content to make the best of marriage and of friendship. the antecedent sometimes being impossible. the nodus. like a woman’s. Brynhild was not. as they conceive it. or impossible to nature as such..” says the ancient Sanskrit commentary on the Rig Veda.
and consequently liable to the charge of being essential errors in the poetic art. What pertains to symmetry: Having ‘not just any chance size’ but a determinate one. from which it follows that. With respect to its quantity of virtue or ‘excellence’: when the plot has attained the limit of its power. ‘simply speaking. of plots and actions. it being evident that such things. the episodic are the worst’: Section 5 II. it is [e]ither necessary or likely that the other come about” (this being the plot’s defining characteristic). the limited or definiteness: Section 7 III. which is to have its parts so constructed that. the ‘connection of the episodes’ being ‘distorted’. 21 . which division is itself brought under the two principles taken from Aristotle’s Mechanics. connects with the following passage. “the one thing being done. and an end’ (a division of its composing parts into species) and so possessing the first ‘form of the beautiful’. as well as Section 7): 1. All Rights Reserved. 5). which treats of what might happen. namely. which has to do with the plot’s being ‘perfect’ in magnitude (the last part of Section 6. 1 Cf. (a) Being ‘continuous and one’. summarized on page 6. considered from a certain point of view. as has been explained above (cf. the plot then being divided: (i) with respect to quantity into what has ‘a beginning. being concerned with what has happened for the least part. a matter I discuss elsewhere. Their connection with the following text on the task of the poet is also evident: all four rationales having to do with the makeup of the incidents producing its characteristic effect in the most powerful way possible. being neither too small to be seen nor too big to be grasped as a whole. section n.1 § On the Four Things Producing an Effect of Wonder According to Aristotle (Papers In Poetics 2) © 2013 Bart A. With respect to its dimensive quantity: when the plot has attained the limit of its size: the last part of Section 6 2. Mazzetti. both attributes coming under the third of ‘the three greatest forms of the beautiful’. and thus composed of parts possessing symmetry. 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. however. in accordance with the necessity or likelihood. The additional passages will be seen to belong to this final member as a fourfold division of it. p. Considered in their own right. a middle. whereas the first member of the fourfold division. are also impossible. 4. the interpolated passage introduces a new consideration of its own. footnote. the construction of a plot out of irrational parts. 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’. 1 above. Problems and Solutions in the Poetic Art: Poetics Chapter 25 (Papers In Poetics 5).3. namely.
See also: ‘Perfect and Whole’: Aristotle’s Poetics on the Structure of the Plot (Papers In Poetics 1) On Plot Construction and the Portrayal of Character: Poetics Chapter 15 and Associ-ated Texts (Papers In Poetics 3) Excursus On Myth: A Series of Notes 22 .
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