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Pages of Poetics

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or 'poet' to the name of the meter, and speak of elegiac poets, or

epic (that is, hexameter) poets, as if it were not the imitation

that makes the poet, but the verse that entitles them all to the name.

Even when a treatise on medicine or natural science is brought out

in verse, the name of poet is by custom given to the author; and yet

Homer and Empedocles have nothing in common but the meter, so that

it would be right to call the one poet, the other physicist rather

than poet. On the same principle, even if a writer in his poetic

imitation were to combine all meters, as Chaeremon did in his Centaur,

which is a medley composed of meters of all kinds, we should bring him

too under the general term poet.

So much then for these distinctions.

There are, again, some arts which employ all the means above

mentioned- namely, rhythm, tune, and meter. Such are Dithyrambic and

Nomic poetry, and also Tragedy and Comedy; but between them originally

the difference is, that in the first two cases these means are all

employed in combination, in the latter, now one means is employed, now


Such, then, are the differences of the arts with respect to the

medium of imitation



Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must

be either of a higher or a lower type (for moral character mainly

answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the

distinguishing marks of moral differences), it follows that we must

represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as

they are. It is the same in painting. Polygnotus depicted men as

nobler than they are, Pauson as less noble, Dionysius drew them true

to life.

Now it is evident that each of the modes of imitation above

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