they pass adverse judgement and then proceed to reason on it; and,
assuming that the poet has said whatever they happen to think, find
fault if a thing is inconsistent with their own fancy.
The question about Icarius has been treated in this fashion. The
critics imagine he was a Lacedaemonian. They think it strange,
therefore, that Telemachus should not have met him when he went to
Lacedaemon. But the Cephallenian story may perhaps be the true one.
They allege that Odysseus took a wife from among themselves, and
that her father was Icadius, not Icarius. It is merely a mistake,
then, that gives plausibility to the objection.
In general, the impossible must be justified by reference to
artistic requirements, or to the higher reality, or to received
opinion. With respect to the requirements of art, a probable
impossibility is to be preferred to a thing improbable and yet
possible. Again, it may be impossible that there should be men such as
Zeuxis painted. 'Yes,' we say, 'but the impossible is the higher
thing; for the ideal type must surpass the realty.' To justify the
irrational, we appeal to what is commonly said to be. In addition to
which, we urge that the irrational sometimes does not violate
reason; just as 'it is probable that a thing may happen contrary to
Things that sound contradictory should be examined by the same rules
as in dialectical refutation- whether the same thing is meant, in
the same relation, and in the same sense. We should therefore solve
the question by reference to what the poet says himself, or to what is
tacitly assumed by a person of intelligence.
The element of the irrational, and, similarly, depravity of
character, are justly censured when there is no inner necessity for
introducing them. Such is the irrational element in the introduction
of Aegeus by Euripides and the badness of Menelaus in the Orestes.
Thus, there are five sources from which critical objections are
drawn. Things are censured either as impossible, or irrational, or