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theories and
methodologies

La imagen que un solo hombre puede formar es la que no toca a ninguno. . . .
El tiempo, que despoja los alcázares, enriquece los versos.
—Jorge Luis Borges, “La busca de Averroes” (586)
he image that a single man can form touches no one. . . . Time, which de­
spoils fortresses, enriches poetry.

Beyond Mimesis:
Aristotle’s Poetics
in the Medieval
Mediterranean
karla mallette

HOW SHOULD LITERARY HISTORIANS AIMING TO DESCRIBE LITERARY
TRADITIONS THAT PREDATED THE MODERN NATION USE THE METHODOlogical tool kit developed contemporaneously with the European
nationalisms? Can philology be separated from the logic of the nation and from the teleological vanishing point—the languages and
literatures of (for instance) modern France, Spain, or Italy—that has
traditionally provided a rationale for readings of medieval literature
(and jobs for philologists)? Medieval literary historians have known
for some time that we must get out of the habit of thinking in terms
of the national literatures that would emerge centuries ater the texts
we study were written. And we have absorbed the lesson that the
nineteenth-century philologists on whose shoulders we stand worked
(frequently, if not systematically) under the inluence of the nationalizing movements emerging as they wrote, so that their pronouncements on medieval texts must be read with appropriate caution. We
have not, however, yet produced new geographic and historical formulations to replace the narrative that traces the origin of the modern European nations to a medieval Latin Christian crucible.
In this essay I attempt nothing so ambitious. I presume a
geochronological terrain that stretches from Abbasid Baghdad to
fourteenth-century Florence, but this is a narrative convenience suggested by the material I am treating, not a template. I aim to sketch
a series of textual transactions, to point out what happened when a
given text was translated between the three transregional languages
of literature and science in the medieval Mediterranean—Greek, Arabic, and Latin—and then brought within the orbit of composition in
the vernacular. I do, however, begin with a hypothesis that implies at

[ © 2009 by the moder n language association of america ]

KARLA MALLETTE, associate professor in
the departments of Romance Languages
and Literatures and of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, is author of The Kingdom of Sicily,
1100–1250: A Literary History (U of Pennsylvania P, 2005) and European Modernity
and the Arab Mediterranean (U of Pennsylvania P, forthcoming). Her new research
focuses on lingua francas in the medieval
and early modern Mediterranean.

583

h (‫)ﻣﺪﺢ‬. the meanings of words may shit over time. Aristotle’s treatise on the poetic arts barely survived antiquity. “and every poetic oration is either praise or vituperation”—thus did medieval readers understand the technical terms used by Aristotle. and throughout his commentary Averroës uses the term madī. and one to the fourteenth. or medium-length. known to the West as Avicenna. “Every poem. Only two premodern manuscripts preserving the Greek text are known to scholars.584 Beyond Mimesis: Aristotle’s Poetics in the Medieval Mediterranean theories and methodologies least a contingent geochronological rationale: to avoid reading the Romance vernacular poetic movements as prequels to modern national literatures. How should the philologist approach a text not faithfully preserved but thoroughly transformed by those who transmitted it. thus producing a Latin version of an Arabic version of a Syriac version of a Greek text.2 Yet this is neither the most penetrating nor the most significant of the changes wrought by the medieval translations and commentaries. It was this middle. In its linguistic complexity. he task of the philologist is to restore texts made opaque by age so that works diligently (if imperfectly) preserved through the generations can speak again. And it is a testament to the mercurial dynamism of philological method and the erudition of its past practitioners that historians today turn to philology to devise a strategy that might explicate the diversity of regional and chronological responses to this encounter of grammatica systems. and whole languages die or are so transformed that ancient texts are as occult to latter-day speakers of the language as a foreign tongue. Averroës and Hermannus followed an established tradition by reading the Poetics as part of the organon and hence . creating it anew for historically and linguistically distinct communities of readers? he most striking of the medieval innovations catches the reader without warning on the opening page of a modern edition of the text and has excited the most comment among modern historians.” Aristotle says (according to Averroës and Hermannus). commentary that Hermannus translated into Latin. tragedy and comedy. wrote a summary of the work. sculptures crumble.” when he speaks of comedy. so that words can mean again what their authors intended them to mean. and the Syriac version was translated into Arabic during the late phase of the Abbasid translation movement (before 930).” when Aristotle speaks of tragedy. But Aristotle’s Po­ etics—passed in cabotage between the intellectual centers of the Mediterranean and the Near East—poses a daunting challenge to the notion of philology as the guardian of textual integrity. Hermannus’s De arte poetica is a primer for the philologist working in the medieval Mediterranean. or “vituperation. in the sea changes it underwent as it passed from language to language and culture to culture. was translated into Syriac before the turn of the tenth century. And the great Aristotelian commentator Ibn Rushd (1126–98)—Averroës—wrote both a short commentary and a middle commentary on the Poetics.1 Ibn Sīnā (980–1037). We should understand them in the context of the collision between the three learned languages and the cultural systems that generated them and that they in turn supported in the medieval Mediterranean. frescoes corrode. earthquakes. I can think of no better place to begin a consideration of the literary complexities of the medieval Mediterranean than Hermannus Alemannus’s translation of Averroës’s commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics. one dating to the tenth century. But words may be copied and recopied without loss. he Greek text. We are used to thinking of literature as the most enduring of the arts. and hijāʾ (‫)ﻫﺠﺎء‬. [ PM L A the work both demands and thwarts philological precision. True. letters may be misconstrued. or “praise. and pollution wear away even the durable stones of monuments. however. winds. Music is as ephemeral as a breeze. we need to see them against the backdrop of the great cultural and historical drama that informed them.

Aristotle’s universe was bounded by Hellenism. the notion of a literary tradition grounded in mimicry or dramatic imitation—in the narrative representation of an individual human life—is unique to ancient Greece. gamely translating into Latin even citations from the Koran and from the Arab poets—sixty-eight of them. from the pre-Islamic poets to the moderns. rat. as Earl Miner has pointed out. thus the injunction upon the poet—iterated in both the Arabic and Latin versions of Averroës’s commentary—to use encomium and vituperation to praise the good and blame the base. Linguistic diference intrudes on his discussion of Greek eloquence only once: in his analysis of barbarismos (βαρβαρισμόϚ) and ainigma (αἴνιγμα. representation. Unadorned style is prosaic. Aristotle classiies poetry that fails through overuse or clumsy use of metaphors and such rhetorical devices as ainigma. and comparison not even notionally linked to one another. ‫ )ﺮﺮي‬of the Greek barbaros (βάρβαροϚ). and it moved forward from Aristotle to account for the Arab poets using the universal structure of Aristotelian thought. Poetic language should strive for both clarity and the pleasing efects derived from the use of metaphors and other rhetorical ornaments. took a theories and methodologies 124. his is scarcely remarkable. 36. And Hermannus followed Averroës step-by-step. made by the great Abbasid-era translator and philosopher Abū Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnus. and his argument is all but impenetrable to one who does not know the ancient Greek language and the poetic traditions to which he refers. infused with an awareness of linguistic and historical depth of which Aristotle himself was entirely innocent. p. Aristotle is here pointing out a flaw in poetic language that depends excessively on Greek dialectal forms or archaisms. Averroës used a variety of words to discuss forms of poetic statements.4 Avicenna. esp. he writes.āna aʿjamiyya (‫)رﻃﺎﻧﺔ أﻋﺠﻣﯿﺔ‬. in a word. Hermannus’s and Averroës’s translations of the Poetics are. and themselves pro- Karla Mallette 585 duce. an Arabic cognate (barbarī.] as a work of logic. however. 1458a 21–31). And because they understood it as a manual for those who intended to use words to efect change in the world. Abū Bishr Mattā used a variety of words: gharīb (‫)ﻏﺮﺐ‬. ch. he extant old Arabic translation. Both versions are generated by. which denotes clumsy use of the Arabic language by a foreigner.3 By the late Middle Ages. which can mean “foreign. Aristotle’s discussion of mimēsis had lost its structural integrity. but an exaggerated or crude use of poetic language will only obfuscate. or gibberish using non-Arabic words (122–24). he perceived no intellectual life beyond the circle of light cast by the Greek language. had long fallen by the wayside. the backbone of his Poetics. rendered Aristotle’s ainigma as lughz (‫)ﻟﻐﺰ‬.” or simply “strange” or “outlandish”. “enigma” or “riddle”. “riddle” or “enigma.2 . Averroës was the irst of the commentators on the Poetics to cite poetry to illustrate his argument. Even Aristotle included very few poetic examples in his treatise—a curious omission for the champion of a posteriori argument. it worked through Aristotle’s words to try to reconstruct the vanished Greek poetry behind them. they viewed it in a continuum with ethics. radically comparatist treatises. Averroës’s commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics embraced the tradition of translation and interpretation—the Arabic versions of Aristotle’s works—that preceded it. Finally. 22. A poet may frustrate his audience in one of two ways. Aristotle’s interrogation of mimēsis (μίμησιϚ).” And to translate Aristotle’s barbarismos. as short as a single line and as long as six. poetry that fails through overdependence on glōtta (γλω ττα)—non-Attic Greek—he characterizes as barbarismos. Nowhere is their distance from Aristotle more evident than in Averroës’s and Hermannus’s handling of Aristotle’s treatment of linguistic diference. an awareness that the literary tradition in which they participate is bounded by other traditions that lie beyond their own and that are only partially perceptible to them.

his dynamic—a staged encounter between . transposition. discussed the diference between successful and clumsy metaphoric language and the damage that nonstandard Greek can do to poetic eloquence.586 Beyond Mimesis: Aristotle’s Poetics in the Medieval Mediterranean theories and methodologies dramatically diferent approach to the passage.5 Rather. When Averroës gives a line from al-Mutanabbi. elevates poetic language. hus where Aristotle. In his brief comments on chapter 22. knew no Greek. Although he clearly knew and followed parts of Abū Bishr Mattā’s discussion of chapter 22.]ﻟﻄﻴﻒ ﻛ‬67. Middle Com­ mentary 124. Averroës chose to disregard Abū Bishr Mattā’s discussion of barbarismos—the use of nonstandard language colored by linguistic difference. he notion that the alienation of language from linguistic norms might become a source of obfuscation has vanished. And Hermannus follows Averroës as far as he can. he described linguistic complexity not as a potential threat to coherence but solely as a source of pleasure. ainigma (‫ ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬116. in his treatise on poetics. the Greek original. According to Avicenna. “riddle. And so he inherited a complex textual tradition. Hermannus translates it. Middle Commentary 125–28). Hermannus 68). Commentary 115). But in Hermannus’s Poetria. a textual puzzle that (in Avicenna’s words) “leads not to understanding. the act of translation that brought the text into Latin. Hermannus weaves his way through Averroës’s Arabic citations and examples. Averroës gathers a dazzling bouquet of citations—the work of poets ranging from the pre-Islamic era to the eleventh century—to illustrate the point that he is making. replacing what he can’t. which is no longer that diiculty is created when the clarity of Attic Greek is muddied by the intrusion of non-Attic dia- [ PM L A lects but rather that an exhilarating brilliance of linguistic play is made possible by the Arabic language (‫ ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬117–21.6 Averroës uses this as an invitation to survey the linguistic showboating so prized in the Arabic poetic tradition. He excised Aristotle’s and Abū Bishr Mattā’s discussions of barbarismos from his summary of the Poetics. one that allowed him two distinct paths in interpreting Aristotle’s meaning in chapter 22. by a fortuitous accident of translation. Rather. the use of rare or unusual linguistic forms. Averroës. but to wonder” (‫ اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬68. and eliding in silence those multiple references that seem dictated not by necessity—surely Averroës has demonstrated his point by now—but rather by Averroës’s irrepressible urge to recite the Arab poets. Com­ mentary 115). and Hermannus replaces this with a bit of doggerel that he has apparently invented and a line from Seneca. Hermannus skips a discussion of words that have similar forms but diferent meanings in Arabic and rejoins Averroës to translate selections from al-Kumait. Hermannus translates this line.īf karīm [‫ ﱘ‬٫‫ اﻟﺸﻌﺮ . of course. He could not read backward from Avicenna’s and Abū Bishr Mattā’s treatments of the Poetics to compare their statements to Aristotle’s words: Avicenna’s and Abū Bishr Mattā’s versions were the Poetics he knew. like the use of similes or metaphors. and al-Mutanabbī (Hermannus 69. Averroës cites four poets in rapid succession. transliteration. he (like Avicenna) focuses his comments here on the use of ainigma. ‫ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ 118–21. Averroës. Imru al-Qays. Averroës cites an example of a semantic root that may generate two distinct words meaning the same thing. it provokes a literary genesis that takes a variety of forms: translation.” as enigma—restoring. making it “reined and digniied” (lat. barbarismos does not threaten clarity or eloquence. explaining and translating what he can. but his translation includes a word not understood by the copyists of the Latin text and has not been reliably transmitted. He translates Averroës’s lughz. The discussion of linguistic difference suppressed by the transmission of Aristotle’s Poetics through Syriac and Arabic into Latin has been restored through the mediation between languages. Middle Commentary 126–230).

in the medieval work of literary criticism that made most ambitious use of Hermannus’s Poetria. Benvenuto looks out over a checkerboard landscape in which Greek and Roman antiquity and Christian and Muslim poets and philosophers are neighbors. Oedipus—into Naïades. Benvenuto da Imola makes reference to the treatise a number of times. And he tells us that Averroës reports that such devices are frequently found in the poetry of the Arabs. In his commentary on the Divine Comedy (1375–80). water nymphs have ridden their sea monsters across the desert to untangle the Sphinx’s riddle.” Averroës explains the purpose of his commentary in the opening paragraph: theories and methodologies 124. as reconigured by scribal error. cum plurimum eius . answers Dante’s purposes admirably. the Greeks’) and their customs therein or are not found in the speech of the Arabs but are found in other languages. making poetic diction (in Avicenna’s words) “reined and digniied. events to come will (like the naiads) provide the key to interpret an enigma whose meaning now appears irretrievable.] languages that becomes an occasion for the production of meaning (and the occasional lapsus)—would recur.. human yet impersonal. Benvenuto turns to Hermannus’s discussion of enigma to gloss a passage in Purgatorio 33. And barbarismos does not interrupt the constitution of meaning but is a source of pleasure. even citing one of Hermannus’s translations of Arabic encomium in praise of Dante in his introduction to the Inferno. in which Dante’s Beatrice uses the Italian cognate of the Latin word. Hermannus’s words): it is a passage diicult or impossible to puzzle out. he moment demands the sense of anonymous multiplicity. (Middle Commentary 59) And Hermannus translates it thus: Intentio nostra est in hac editione determinare quod in libro Poetrie Aristotilis de canonibus universalibus communibus omnibus nationibus aut pluribus. and Benvenuto’s citation of Hermannus’s Poetria gives us the tools to do so.2 ‫اﻟﻐرض ﻓﻲ ﻫذا اﻟﻗﻮل ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺺ ﻣﺎ ﻓﻲ ﻛﺘﺎب أرﺳﻄوﻃﺎﻟﯿﺲ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺸﻌر ﻣن‬ <‫اﻟﻗ ﻮاﻧن اﻟﻛﳌﺔ اﻟﻣﺸﺗرﻛﺔ ﻟﺠﻣﻳﻊ اﻷﻣم أو ﻟﻸﻛﺛر إذ ﻛﺛر ﻣﻣﺎ ﻗﻪ ﻫﻲ >إﻣﺎ‬ ‫أن ﺗﻛون ﻗ ﻮاﻧن ﺧﺎﺻﺔ ﺑﺄﺷﻌﺎرﻫم وﻋﻟدﺗﻬم ﻓﻳﻬﺎ وإﻣﺎ أن ﺗﻛﻮن ﻟﺳت ﻣﻮﺟﻮدة‬ . again through fortuitous mishap.‫ﻓﻲ ﻛﻼم اﻟﻌرب ﻮﻣﻮﺟﻮدة ﻓﻲ ﻏﻳﺮه ﻣن اﻷﻟﺴﻨﺔ‬ (53 ‫)ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ he purpose of this discussion is to comment upon those universal rules in Aristotle’s Po­ etics that are common to all or most nations. of course. does not thwart meaning but generates it. evoked by a community of maidens who interpret an encoded message through collective intelligence—not by Oedipus standing alone before the ruinous feminine power of the Sphinx. Beatrice compares the occult prophecies she speaks to Dante to the veiled words of the Sphinx. in Dante’s version. and which becomes an occasion for the genesis of meaning. for much of its contents are either rules particularly characteristic of their poems (i. If Aristotle’s barbarismos disappears from chapter 22 of the Poetics. Beatrice’s reference to the resolution of the Sphinx’s riddle is meant to suggest that time will dissolve the knot of the occult prophecies she speaks to Dante. He quotes “Aristotle’s” deinition of enigma (citing. when Benvenuto cites one text scrambled in transmission to gloss another— linguistic difference functions precisely as enigma: a difficulty that may be resolved by puzzling over it. it is everywhere present in the treatise as Hermannus transmits it. he myth. however.e. At moments like these—when Hermannus translates the Arab poets in illustration of a treatise on Greek poetics. Dante here relies on a garbled version of the ancient legend. From a promontory that we may view as either the end of the Middle Ages or the beginning of the Renaissance.8 Such a confusion of tongues. But. by a delicious irony. According to Beatrice.7 In the passage that Benvenuto glosses. Dante’s text requires us to rewrite literary his- Karla Mallette 587 tory. The medieval transmission of Ovid’s Metamorphoses turned the Grecism Laïades— the son of Laius.

De arte poetica 41) Our intention in this work is to comment upon those of the general rules in Aristotle’s Poetics that are common to all nations or to many. William—a formidable translator who rendered Latin versions of the Poli­ tics. It is.9 Because he worked from the Greek. in the matter of Greek literature. or is not found in the writings of the Arabs. it appeared in a modern edition before Hermannus’s. But it did not speak to the Middle Ages.11 Despite its excesses and its difficulties. William’s translation has won a modest following among modern scholars. where reference is made to a medieval Latin translation of the Poetics. In a much-cited passage Ernest Renan mocked Averroës’s translation of the Poetics: his “blunders. under the impression that tragedy was nothing more than the art of praise and comedy the art of censure. Averroës’s commentary on the Poetics is extant in only two manuscript versions. or is found in other languages (and not in Arabic). and many others directly from the Greek—translated the Poet­ ics in 1278. compared with [ PM L A Hermannus’s strenuous romp through Arabic and Greek letters.and twentiethcentury historians as little more than a curiosity (and Averroës’s commentary before him as an unfortunate misire). the Arabs and the Latins) from them (the ancient Greeks). Where Aristotle wrote glōtta (a word meaning “tongue. William produced a version of the text much less eccentric than the Averroës-Hermannus extravaganza. Where Aristotle wrote mimēsis. For example. a brisk and eicient exercise. Roger Bacon. (my trans. Of course.” or—in this context—“foreign language”). One poem in particular—a fragment that Hermannus massaged in the translation. in its melancholy portrait of a medieval Arab who—despite his compendious knowledge of Aristotle’s thought—cannot imagine the theatrical arts and hence cannot puzzle his way through Aristotle’s discussion of Greek tragedy. scholars generally prefer William of Moerbeke’s. tricking it out with . Borges’s Averroës is himself a tragic igure. And he sneeringly called Hermannus’s translation “tout à fait inintelligible” (79). Averroës and Hermannus use them to signal their awareness that the practices they describe are historically and linguistically contingent and to remind the reader of the distance that separates us (the moderns.12 It seems. that Hermannus’s citations of the Arab poets were part of the appeal for medieval readers. Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “La busca de Averroes” exempliies an attitude toward Averroës’s Poetics not uncommon among modern scholars. just two decades later than Hermannus.10 he Arabic original that Hermannus translated barely survived the Middle Ages. Hermannus’s translation found a wider readership than any other medieval version of Aristotle’s treatise. De caelo. since much of what is in that book either consists of rules common to (the Greeks’) own poems and poetic customs. he thought that he found tragedies and comedies in the panegyrics and satires of the Arabs. are risible. Hermannus’s translation has been looked on by nineteenth. and Coluccio Salutati cited it. homas Aquinas.) The words translated as “nations” here are umam and nationes. aut sunt reperta in aliis idiomatibus. in both the Arabic and the Latin versions. (Hermannus.” “language. he word natio does not occur in William’s Latin Poetics. and even in the Qur’an!” (55–56). and they are found throughout the treatises. Only two manuscript copies of it are known to scholars.theories and methodologies 588 Beyond Mimesis: Aristotle’s Poetics in the Medieval Mediterranean quod est in hoc libro aut sunt canones proprii poematibus ipsorum et consuetudini ipsorum in ipsis. William translated imitatio. to judge from the excerpts that appear in the florilegia. William translated lingua (“tongue” or “language”). hounded through no fault of his own by an irremediable cognitive law. Metaphysics. it exists in twenty-four manuscript copies and was excerpted in numerous lorilegia that themselves circulated throughout the centers of European learning. aut non sunt reperta in sermone Arabum.

but not appreciably enlightened regarding the poetic arts. And for Romance languages (as the name suggests). his curious linguistic crucible—in which languages collided. commenting on. And the task that faces philologists today is to parse this scandalous opulence. all roads led to Rome and thence to Greece. as a natural philosopher. Thus Hermannus’s Po­ etria both models and demands a peculiarly energetic reading practice: a thick philology attentive to the constitution of meaning at various points in the text’s history. and cytharistice (and I ind all these on the opening page alone [3]). though. and Giacomo Leopardi wrote in an ode celebrating his achievement that Mai had “awakened our fathers from their tombs” (15).] end rhyme and wordplay and making it into a haunting piece of occasional poetry—appears regularly in the lorilegia. Hermannus’s Poetria is a palimpsest in which antiquity and the Arabic and Latin Middle Ages are layered. Times change. the philologist may conclude that medieval poetic practice was not so much bounded by linguistic diference as generated by it. he stemmatic criticism used to analyze linguistic and textual history provided empirical demonstration of the Roman parentage of the Romance tongues. Syriac. he popularity of William’s translation of the Poetics—once it had been discovered by modern philologists—and the parallel exasperation with the Karla Mallette 589 medieval eccentricities of Hermannus’s owe much to the understanding of philology as a science able to articulate the links that bind modernity to classical antiquity. Latin. calquing. Contemplating the veneer of translation and interpretation—vernacular. Such an omission would (ironically) deracinate Aristotle’s Poetics by ignoring the path it traveled through a millennium of its eventful history. hough philologists may still view the Mediterranean as cradle of civilizations (perhaps mainly for sentimental reasons). theories and methodologies 124. like an army of naiads deciphering the enigmatic words of the Sphinx. William’s translation. he reader may feel invigorated at the end. a number of poetic citations and statements on the nature of Arabic poetics are excerpted. dithy­ rambopoetica. Reading it is a bit like scrubbing oneself with a lexical pumice stone. Arabic. no stratum quite successful in eradicating what preceded it. like languages. A notion of philological practice emerged during the nineteenth century that viewed the philologist as cousin to the botanist or the zoologist—in other words. we no longer exclude the Arabo-Islamic past from our narratives of origin.2 . were analyzed in terms of their relation to one another and their descent from a common ancestor.13 And in one lorilegium produced for use by lecturers at the University of Paris. its multiple geneses and transmissions through and between languages. and so does the past that the present sees as its origin. this version’s insistence that the poet must praise the worthy and blame the base and must do so in language that conveys beauty and mystery as well as clarity. and Greek—that Aristotle’s Poetics acquired through the centuries. Or again it may have been the ethical interpretation of the art of poetry that appealed to medieval readers of the Hermannus-Averroës version. fystulative. and transliterating one another—shaped the vernacular poetics that emerged from the late medieval Mediterranean in ways that are still poorly understood. in contrast. In his “translation” of his exemplar (like Averroës’s before it). In 1814 the philologist Angelo Mai discovered a method for blasting away the surface of medieval palimpsests to reveal the Roman text obscured beneath. bristles with transliterations of unfamiliar Greek words—tragōidia and komodia. that medieval poetics originated not in mimesis but in translation. he philologist saw genetic taxonomies everywhere: the manuscript exemplars of a text. translation goes beyond mimesis to generate a work grounded in another yet able to communicate with its own linguistic and historical audience.

Ed. it should be noted. It is one of the presuppositions of this essay that the late Latin and medieval Romance literary traditions. 8. 12. Hardison sees Benvenuto as “primarily a medieval igure” (34). and trans. ———. cognate in so little. Print. Avicenna uses the word al­taʿjīb (“wonder” [‫ اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬68. Hermannus did contrive to translate Averroës’s madīh. 1974. Dahiyat. Ed. ‫ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ 116. res nempe nulle stabiles. que cum luxu huius temporis lu xibiles fuerunt” (“Temporal things. the poem appears in its entirety. of course. Et dicit Averrois ibi quod istud frequenter invenitur apud poetas arabum” (Benvenuto. for nothing is lasting which has changed with the low of this temporal world” [Hermannus 61. although Averroës did not (as Abū Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnus had before him) give an Arabic transliteration of the Greek word tragōidia (τραγῳδία). Albertino Mussato. W. Introduction. In the University of Paris lorilegium.. 6. ibn Hu . see Boggess. and trans. a reading of the Comedy “in chiave umanistica” (84). only the deinition of tragedy from chapter 6 survives (1450a 3–8. 3. ‫اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬. Print. Dahiyat 9. c. a scholar who taught at the University of Padua during the early fourteenth century. 13. Such diference of opinion. “Aenigma quidem est oratio aut impossibilis. difer from the Greek poetic tradition in this fundamental way. comment on Purgatorio 33. 1986. Middle Com­ mentary 124]). it has been published in Latin translation in Tkatsch 1: 155–56). On citation of Hermannus’s De arte poetica during the Middle Ages. Averroës. ‫اﻟﺸﻔﺎء اﳌﻨﻄﻖ‬ Vol. agree on the way they designate linguistic incompetence: the word is barbaros in the Greek. Ismail M. Ed. ‫ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬. see MinioPaluello’s article on him in the Dictionary of Scientiic Biography (434–40). Middle Commentary 124) is evidently drawn from Abū Bishr Mattā’s translation (123). being temporal. On the manuscript transmission of Averroës’s Mid­ dle Commentary. ʿAbd al-Majīd Harīdī. 49). Princeton: Princeton UP. Print. 286. as Miner points out. Peters 28–30. ibn ʿAdī—both of them active in the Abbasid translation movement that saw the translation of all of Aristotle’s major works into Arabic—translated the Syriac version into Arabic. La Favia sees Benvenuto’s commentary as part of a new wave. Abū Bishr Mattā ibn Yūnus and his student. Leiden: Brill.” 9. 900. On William’s activities as a translator. like the Arabic. 11. Avicenna’s Commentary on the Poetics of Aristotle. For discussion of the manuscript transmission of William’s translation of the Poetics see the sources cited in note 1 above and Minio-Paluello’s introduction to the modern edition of the text (xiv–xvii). Greek literature originated in drama. Ed. e. 5. Benve- [ PM L A nuto refers to Hermannus 68. cited it (along with Hermannus’s. Badāwī. Averroës’s baling discussion of poetic statements that may be interpreted so long as they use unfamiliar words (‫ ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬116.g. see Kelly 187–93). WORKS CITED ʿAbd al-Rahmān . casts into sharp relief the imprecision of the optic we use to distinguish between the “medieval” and the “early modern. ʿAbd al-Rahmān . c. Dahiyat’s introduction to Avicenna’s Commentary 4–12. Middle Commentary 124. D. 293. ān Badāwī 19–20. “it cannot be emphasized strongly enough that concern with language”—and. Lucas.46–51).]). rīyah lil-Taʾlīf wa. See Boggess 285. Charles Butterworth. It should be noted that. And. does not suggest that the borrowed words and metaphoric language he discusses may create a feeling of wonder in the reader. 292. . Aristotle. ———. . does survive in a handful of Arabic manuscripts. Charles Butterworth and Ahmad . Avicenna’s summary. Miner deines drama as “the foundation genre of western poetics and no other” (216. Abū Bishr Mattā.alTarjamah. On the transmission history see Lucas’s introduction to Aristotle’s Poetics xxii–xxv. . and barbarī in the Arabic. Oxford: Clarendon. ut dicit Aristoteles in ine suae poetriae.Mis. Ed. change with time . translated by Ishāq . . ‫اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ 3–21. 2. 1968. More precisely. 1966. Poetics. Print. ‫ ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬54. see ʿAbd al-Rahm .590 Beyond Mimesis: Aristotle’s Poetics in the Medieval Mediterranean theories and methodologies NOTES 1. Hermannus astutely skips this passage. 47. as Hermannus and Averroës stress. he lorilegia are attracted in particular to the lines that exhibit the densest word play: “Temporales existentes tempora liter cum tempore transierunt . with the ethical dimension of literary invention—are “as symptomatic of lyric presumptions about literature as concern with representation is of dramatic presumptions” (26).rīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb. 10. It is a striking fact that the three great learned languages of the Middle Ages. barbarus in the Latin. emphasis added). in contrast. Cairo: al-Dār al. Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Mis. nain. Yahyā . occasionally with the Latin tragedia (see. so too Averroës says that the poet may use diicult language to create “al-taʿjīb waʾl-ildhādh” (“wonder and delight” [‫ ﺗﻠﺨﯿﺲ ﻛﺘﺎب اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬116. see Butterworth xiv. Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics. 48. Commentary 115]). 9. my trans. Of the Syriac version. Badāwī. . Print. 930. Bodenham 171–72. Only Abū Bishr Mattā’s translation survives. Avicenna. . . Hermannus 41. Avicenna. Averroës. but medieval Latin and Romance literatures shared with Arabic an origin in lyric poetry. William’s translation wasn’t entirely unknown during the Middle Ages. 289. 7. hese lines are cited in ive of the lorilegia collated by Boggess. Mid­ dle Commentary 59. 1986. . 4. Averroës. aut diici lis ad unum aliquem certum intellectum. and trans.

Cairo: Dār al-Kātib al-ʿArabī. Giacomo. Mattā ibn Yūnus. 1977.2 . Butterworth. Vol. Middle Com­ mentary ix–xvi. H. Barcelona: Emecé. A. Brussels: Desclée de Brouwer. Gen. Peters. 2 vols. Œuvres com­ plètes. Dartmouth Dante Project. Earl. Introduction. 18 vols. 9. 2009. Print. Vol. Abū Bishr. 582–88. Print. Ernest. Ismail M. Hardison. Vol. Hardison. 1968. 3. Lucas. “Petrarch and the Poetry of the Arabs. William F. Brussels: Desclée de Brouwer. Averroès et l’Averroisme. Louis Marcello. “Aristotle-Averroes-Alemannus on Tragedy: The Inf luence of the ‘Poetics’ on the Latin Middle Ages. 21–36. Kinney. Jaroslaus. 1949. F. 40–74. 1968. Giovanni Getto. trans. Coulston Gillispie. By Aristotle. Print. By William de Moerbeka. Die arabische Übersetzung der Poetik des Aristoteles und die Grundlage der Kritik des griechischen Textes. Preface. 1990. Leiden: Brill. Comentum super Dantis Aldigherij Comoediam. Introduction. Borges. Opere. “William of Moerbeke.” Viator 10 (1979): 161–209. Paris: CalmannLévy. Web. ed. ‫ﻛﺘﺎب ارﺳﻄوﻃﺎﻟﯿﺲ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬. Tkatsch. B. De arte po­ etica.” Obras comple­ tas. Ed. Print. Print. 1967. O. Minio-Paluello. 1975. Ed. 11–374. Aristoteles Latinus 33. Avicenna. Madrid: José Porrúa Turanzas. Dahiyat.” Dictionary of Scientiic Biography. H. Aristoteles Arabus. Print. Print.” Romanische Forschungen 94 (1982): 167–78. Boggess. 14 Jan. Print. theories and methodologies 124.” Poetics and Praxis: Understanding and Imagination: he Collected Essays of O. Comparative Poetics: An Intercultural Essay on heories of Literature. Introduction. Renan. “La busca de Averroes. Ed. De arte poetica. C. Print. Ed.. L. Milan: Mursia. Commentary 3–58. “Aristotle and Averroes. Print.. Aristotle ix–xxv.” Studies in Philology 67 (1970): 278–94. Benvenuto Rambaldi da Imola: Dantista. Print. Hermannus Alemannus. Print. Princeton: Princeton UP. Arthur F. Athens: U of Georgia P. Charles. Averroës. De arte poetica. Jorge Luis. B. 1996. Ed. Bodenham. ———. Print. 1968. D. Trustees of Dartmouth Coll. 2nd ed. 2nd ed. Leopardi. Henriette Psichari. Print. Karla Mallette 591 La Favia. 1. Aristoteles Latinus 33. E. Miner. Jr. 1970–80. Print. Vienna: Hölder-PichlerTempsky.] Benvenuto da Imola. Lorenzo. 1997. W. 1928. “Aristotle’s Poetics in the Fourteenth Century. New York: Scribner’s. William ix–xxviii. Lorenzo MinioPaluello. Jr. William of Moerbeke. Lorenzo Minio-Paluello. Kelly.