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'Aristoteles imperator noster ...'? J. C. Scaliger and Aristotle on Poetic Theory

Luc Deitz
International Journal of the Classical Tradition
Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer, 1995), pp. 54-67
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30222799
Page Count: 14
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'Aristoteles imperator noster ...'? J. C. Scaliger and Aristotle on Poetic Theory
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Abstract

Aristotle's Poetics was virtually unknown in the West before the publication of the editio princeps of the Greek text in 1508. After this date its fame grew steadily. In the decades that followed it was repeatedly translated and commented upon; it also began to be used in theoretical treatises on the art of poetry in general. This article focuses on the most comprehensive of these treatises to appear in the sixteenth century, Julius Caesar Scaliger's Poetices libri septem (1561). It analyzes the claim, repeated countless times throughout the centuries, that the Poetices libri septem are an 'Aristotelian' treatise and tries to show that this claim is borne out neither by such references to the Aristotelian corpus as can be identified in Scaliger's work, nor by its internal structure and economy, nor indeed by its most important doctrinal tenets, such as the definition and purpose of poetry, the relationship of poetry to rhetoric and historiography, or the concept of mimesis. Despite Scaliger's paying lip-service to Aristotle his Poetices libri septem cannot thus be adequately interpreted and understood with exclusive reference to an Aristotelian framework.

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