Aristotle's Poetics

Influence

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.[20] Paris 1741 appears online at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France).[21]

Arabic scholars who published significant commentaries on Aristotle's Poetics included Avicenna, Al-Farabi and Averroes.[22] Many of these interpretations sought to use Aristotelian theory to impose morality on the Arabic poetic tradition.[23] 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.[24] Averroes' interpretation of the Poetics was accepted by the West, where it reflected the "prevailing notions of poetry" into the 16th century.[25]

Recent scholarship has challenged whether Aristotle focuses on literary theory per se (given that not one poem exists in the treatise) or whether he focuses instead on dramatic musical theory that only has language as one of the elements.[26]


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