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Works by Aristotle
Pages of Poetics

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speaker, and as a result of the speech. For what were the business

of a speaker, if the Thought were revealed quite apart from what he


Next, as regards Diction. One branch of the inquiry treats of the

Modes of Utterance. But this province of knowledge belongs to the

art of Delivery and to the masters of that science. It includes, for

instance- what is a command, a prayer, a statement, a threat, a

question, an answer, and so forth. To know or not to know these things

involves no serious censure upon the poet's art. For who can admit the

fault imputed to Homer by Protagoras- that in the words, 'Sing,

goddess, of the wrath, he gives a command under the idea that he

utters a prayer? For to tell some one to do a thing or not to do it

is, he says, a command. We may, therefore, pass this over as an

inquiry that belongs to another art, not to poetry.



Language in general includes the following parts: Letter,

Syllable, Connecting Word, Noun, Verb, Inflection or Case, Sentence or


A Letter is an indivisible sound, yet not every such sound, but only

one which can form part of a group of sounds. For even brutes utter

indivisible sounds, none of which I call a letter. The sound I mean

may be either a vowel, a semivowel, or a mute. A vowel is that which

without impact of tongue or lip has an audible sound. A semivowel that

which with such impact has an audible sound, as S and R. A mute,

that which with such impact has by itself no sound, but joined to a

vowel sound becomes audible, as G and D. These are distinguished

according to the form assumed by the mouth and the place where they

are produced; according as they are aspirated or smooth, long or

short; as they are acute, grave, or of an intermediate tone; which

inquiry belongs in detail to the writers on meter.

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