Aristotle's Poetics


The Arabic version of Aristotle's Poetics that influenced the Middle Ages was translated from a Greek manuscript dated to some time prior to the year 700. This manuscript, translated from Greek to Syriac, is independent of the currently-accepted 11th-century source designated Paris 1741. The Syriac-language source used for the Arabic translations departed widely in vocabulary from the original Poetics and it initiated a misinterpretation of Aristotelian thought that continued through the Middle Ages.[23] Paris 1741 appears online at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France).[24]

Arabic scholars who published significant commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics included Avicenna, Al-Farabi and Averroes.[25] Many of these interpretations sought to use Aristotelian theory to impose morality on the Arabic poetic tradition.[26] In particular, Averroes added a moral dimension to the Poetics by interpreting tragedy as the art of praise and comedy as the art of blame.[27] Averroes' interpretation of the Poetics was accepted by the West, where it reflected the "prevailing notions of poetry" into the 16th century.[28]

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