ἐπεὶ δὲ τὸ λέγειν τι τῶν τοιούτων ἐξορίζομεν, φανερὸν ὅτι καὶ τὸ θεωρεῖν ἢ γραφὰς ἢ λόγους ἀσχήμονας. ἐπιμελὲς μὲν οὖν ἔστω τοῖς ἄρχουσι μηθέν, μήτε ἄγαλμα μήτε γραφήν, εἶναι τοιούτων πράξεων μίμησιν, εἰ μὴ παρά τισι θεοῖς τοιούτοις οἷς καὶ τὸν τωθασμὸν ἀποδίδωσιν ὁ νόμος

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis

Puisque nous interdisons de parler d’une telle façon, il est clair que nous devons interdire de laisser voir aux jeunes gens des représentations ou des peintures indécentes. Les magistrats auront soin de ce qu'on n'expose ni sculpture, ni peinture représentant des choses indécentes, sauf si auprès des divinités auxquelles la loi permet un culte qui admet la bouffonnerie. (trad. Reinach, revue S. Loumakis)

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis

Commentary

  1. The Politics (Politika) is a "composite" work which contains eight books, probably written all along Aristotle's adult life (more in Barker 1931; Aubonnet 1960; Keyt &Millet 1991, p. 2-7; Rowe 1991; Pellegrin 2012).
  2. The main subject of Book 7 (inseparable of book 8- see text 131) is the notion of the "supreme good" and virtuous life (similar ideas are exposed in Nichomachean Ethics- see Kenny 1978; Bodéüs 1982, pp. 51-60; Aubonnet 1986, pp. 1-10; Rowe 1991, pp. 70-73; Adkins 1991, pp. 75-93 = Adkin 1984; Lawrence 2009). According to Aristotle point of view : the most desirable life is the happiest life (happiness/eudaimonia; see Pellegrin 2007 s.v. eudaimonia) which takes virtue -aretê- (given by good laws and a good constitution) for guide (Aubonnet 1960, CIV-CV; Develin 1973; Depew 1991; Pellegrin 2007 s.v aretê; 2012, esp. pp. 569-576; Roberts 2009; Kraut 2012).
  3. Following a detailed presentation about the best constitution, Aristotle takes interest into citizens education. In this specific context of recommendations concerning the best educational options in order to form virtuous citizens, Aristotle advises that young shouldn't see or hear unseemly (askêmon) works of art (paintings, sculpture) or talks (aischrologia, see Pol.VII. 1336b4; Nicomachaen Ethic 1128a9-32; Rhetoric 1405b8-16; Aubonnet 1986, pp. 325-326 n. 14-17; Reeves 1998, pp. 224-225). Since humans, especially children and young, are naturally inclined to imitation (see Poetics, IV, 1448b5; Plato, Rep. V, 466D-467A; Aubonnet 1986, pp. 318-320 n. 12; Depew 1991, pp. 367-370 and comments on Poetics : texts 34, 132, 133) the reference model (people, works of art, talks, actions...), given with education, must be good (Lord 1990; Bodéüs 1982, pp. 108-118; Kraut 1991; 2012, esp. pp. 536-540; Lawrence 2009, esp. pp. 419-422). Thereby, paintings (and generally works of art) must represent people and characters (êthê) as good as they can, even better (see 131, 132 and 133).
  4. According to Aristotle's recommendations, obscene or disgraceful pictures (and/or actions) are reserved to adult male and female within the cult practices (tothasmos -"scoffing, jeering"-see 1336b18-20; Depew 1991, pp. 367-368). Buffooneries, obscenities or obscene pictures in temple (or during festivals) are usual during Dionysiac festivities (Anthesteria, Agrionia, Dionysia, Phallophoria), Thesmophoria (festivities in honor to Demeter), in Dythirambic and Iambic poetry, during the Sthenia (athenian festival in which women and men are insulting each other), etc. (see Heinrichs 1990, pp. 257-270; Burkert 2011, pp. 151-152, p. 228 n. 442, pp. 319-329 -with further bibliography-).
  5. In connection, Aelian mentions a law in Thebes which punishes painters and sculptors who haven't made flattering pictures (Aelien, Historical Miscellany, IV, 4.).
Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis

Bibliography

Note : since the bibliography concerning Aristotle's Politics is extensive, below are given only the major works which deal with the subject analyzed. A more detailed bibliography can be found in Keyt & Miller 1991, pp. 381-389; Anagnostopoulos 2009, pp. 439-441 and p. 565; Kraut 2012, pp. 556-557; Pellegrin 2012, pp. 584-585 (see below).

Adkin, A.W.H., 1984, "The Connection between Aristotle's Ethics and Politics" in Political Theory 12 n.1, pp. 29-49 (= 1991, in Keyt, D. and Miller, F.D., Jr. (eds.), A Companion to Aristotle's Politics, Blackwell, Oxford-Cambridge, pp. 75-93);

Aelian. Historical Miscellany. 1997, Translated by Nigel G. Wilson, Loeb Classical Library 486, Harvard University Press, Cambridge;

Aristote, Oeuvres complètes, 2014, sous la dir. de Pierre Pellegrin,Flammarion, Paris.

Aristote, Politique, texte établi et traduit par Jean Aubonnet 1960, tome I, Les Belles Lettres Paris; 1986, Tome III, part. 1, Les Belles Lettres, Paris; 1989, Tome III, part. 2, Les Belles Lettres, Paris;

Barker, E. 1931, " The Life of Aristotle and the Composition and Structure of the Politics" in Classical Review, 45 n. 5, pp. 162-172;

Bodéüs, R. 1982, Le philosophe et la cité. Recherche sur les rapports entre morale et politique dans la pensée d'Aristote, Les Belles Lettres, Paris;

Burket, W. 2011, La religion grecque à l'époque archaïque et classique, trans. and bibliographic update P. Bonnechère, Picard, Paris;

Depew, D.J. 1991, " Politics, Musics, and Contemplation in Aristotle's Ideal State" in Keyt, D. and Miller, F.D., Jr. (eds.), A Companion to Aristotle's Politics, Blackwell, Oxford-Cambridge, pp. 346-380;

Develin, R., " The Good Man and the Good Citizen in Aristotle's "Politics"" in Phronesis 18, pp. 71-79;

Élien, Histoire Variée. 1991, traduit et commenté par A. Lukinowich et A.-F. Morand, La roue à livres, Les Belles Lettres, Paris;

Kenny, A. 1978, "Aristotle on Happiness" in Barnes J., Schofield M. and Sorabji R. (eds), Articles on Aristotle v.2. Ethics and Politics, St-Martin's Press, New-York, pp. 25-32;

Kraut, R. 1991, Aristotle on the Human Good, Princeton University Press, Princeton;

Kraut, R. 2012, " Aristotle on Becoming Good : Habituation, Reflection and Perception" in Shields, C. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 529-557;

Lawrence, G. 2009, " Human Excellence in Character and Intellect" in Anagnostopoulos, G. (ed.) A Companion to Aristotle, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 419-441;

Lord, C. 1990, "Politics and Education in Aristotle's Politics" in Patzig, G. (ed.), Aristoteles "Politik" : Akten des XI. Symposium Aristotelicum, Friedrichshafen/Bodensee, 25.8. - 3.9. 1987, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, pp. 202-213;

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

Pellegrin, P. 2012, "Aristole's Politics" in Shields, C. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 558-585;

Roberts, J. 2009, " Excellence of the Citizen and of the Individual" in Anagnostopoulos, G. (ed.) A Companion to Aristotle, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 555-565.

Rowe, C. 1991, "Aims and Methods in Aristotle's Politics" in Keyt, D. and Miller, F.D., Jr. (eds.), A companion to Aristotle's Politics, Blackwell, Oxford-Cambridge, pp. 57-74.

Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
  • Spyridon Loumakis