was born in Stagira in the year 384 B.C. The most trustworthy
biographical account of his life is by Dionysus of Halicarnassus,
in his Epistle on Demosthenes and Aristotle: "Aristotle
was the son of Nichomachus, who traced back his descent and his
art to Machaon, son of Esculapius; his mother being Phæstis,
a descendant of one of those who carried the colony from Chalcis
to Stagira. He was born in the 99th Olympiad in the archonship
at Athens of Diotrephes (384-383), three years before Demosthenes.
In the archonship of Polyzelus (367-366), after the death of
his father, in his eighteenth year, he came to Athens, and having
joined Plato, spent twenty years with him. On the death of Plato
(May 347), in the archonship of Theophilus (348-347) he departed
to Hermias, tyrant of Atarneus and, after three years' stay,
during the archonship of Eubulus (345-344) he moved to Mitylene,
whence he went to Philip of Macedon in the archonship of Pythodotus
(343-342), and spent eight years with him as tutor of Alexander.
After the death of Philip (336), in the archonship of Euænetus
(335-334), he returned to Athens and kept a school in the Lyceum
for twelve years. In the thirteenth, after the death of Alexander
(June 323), in the archonship of Cephisodorus (323-322) having
departed to Chalcis, he died of disease (322), after a life of
(or, The Poetic, according to the translation) of Aristotle
is the earliest critical treatise dealing with dramatic practice
and theory. Besides being a summing-up of the first great age
of dramatic activity, it has exercised incalculable influence
over the dramatists of all European and many other nations. There
are few if any important contributions to dramatic theory and
criticism which fail to take account of the work, but owing to
its obviously incomplete form, the many corrupt portions of the
text, its compact and elliptical style, it has been constantly
misinterpreted, misquoted, and misunderstood. The famous Unities,
the terms "Imitation" and "Purgation," have
in particular proved troublesome to the Italian critics of the
Renaissance and to their followers in France. Of late years,
however, a number of valuable annotated editions, with copious
notes and explanatory matter, have gone far to clear up the misunderstanding.
While Aristotle based his treatise upon
the Greek poets with whose work he was acquainted, his general
premises and his conclusions are in the main applicable to drama
in general. Although there was an abridged version of the Poetics
extant in the late Middle Ages, it cannot properly be maintained
to have made its appearance until 1498, when Georgio Valla published
at Venice a Latin translation of it. This was followed by the
Greek text, in the Aldine Rhetores Grci (1508).
From that time forward, the text was translated into the vernacular,
commented upon, and criticized; its influence was soon to become
of the greatest importance, not only in Italy, but in France,
Germany, and England.
This article was originally
published in European Theories of the Drama. Barrett H.
Clark. Cincinnati: Stewart & Kidd Company, 1918..