... ἴσως γὰρ ἂν ἐν γραφικῇ εἴη τις ἀγαθὸς μιμητής, ὅμως δὲ οὐκ ἂν ἐπαινεθείη, ἂν μὴ τὸν σκοπὸν θῇ τὰ βέλτιστα μιμεῖσθαι.

A painter might be an excellent copyist; but he would receive no honour if he failed to make it his aim to portray the best models. (trans. Armstrong 1935).

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

De même, en peinture, le meilleur copiste n'emportera l'éloge s'il pose comme son but d'imiter ce qu'il y a de plus beau. (trans. Reinach 1921)

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

Commentary

  1. The authenticity of the Great Ethics (or Magna Moralia) is still in question: it could be one of Aristotle's unfinished works, or it could have been written at a later date by a pupil of the Aristotelian school (Armstrong 1935, pp. 426-445; on this debate, see Pellegrin, 1992, pp. 9-26).
  2. This passage is taken from a paragraph that discusses the "end of Virtue" (arêtê : Pellegrin 2007 s.v. "vertu/arêtê", pp. 191-193; on ends : Richardson Lear 2009, pp. 389-393), which is brought about by "moral beauty."
  3. The author returns to the idea of "idealization" that is discussed in Poetics II and XV, 1454b 8-11 (on idealization, see texts 34, 132, 238). Basically, just like painters, poets should try to represent (mimêomai) the highest ethical model as well as the most beautiful (kalliston) (see Halliwell 1986, pp. 159-163; 2002, pp.151-176; Woodruff 2015).
Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon

Bibliography

Aristote, Les Grands livres d'éthique (La Grande Morale) 1992, traduit du grec par C. Dalimier, présenté par P. Pellegrin, Arléa, Paris;

Aristotle. Metaphysics, Volume II: Books 10-14. Oeconomica. Magna Moralia 1935, Translated by Hugh Tredennick, G. Cyril Armstrong, Loeb Classical Library 287, Harvard University Press, Cambridge

Halliwell S. 1986, Aristotle's Poetics, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill;

Halliwell, S. 2002, The aesthetics of mimesis. Ancient texts and modern problems, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford;

Pellegrin, P. 2007, Dictionnaire Aristote, Ellipses, Paris;

Richardson Lear, G. 2009, " Happiness and the structure of ends" in Anagnostopoulos, G. (ed.) A companion to Aristotle, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, p. 387-403;

Woodruff, P. 2015, " Mimèsis" in Destrée P. & Murray P. (eds), A companion to ancient aesthetics, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, p. 327-340.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon