Ἅπαντα δὲ ταῖς περιγραφαῖς διορίζεται πρότερον, ὕστερον δὲ λαμβάνει τὰ χρώματα καὶ τὰς μαλακότητας καὶ τὰς σκληρότητας, ἀτεχνῶς ὥσπερ ἂν ὑπὸ ζωγράφου τῆς φύσεως δημιουργούμενα· καὶ γὰρ οἱ γραφεῖς ὑπογράψαντες ταῖς γραμμαῖς οὕτως ἐναλείφουσι τοῖς χρώμασι τὸ ζῷον

(Le créateur) commence par dessiner tous les contours, puis il choisit les couleurs et les morbidesses et les duretés comme si le démiurge était un véritable peintre de la nature; c'est ainsi en effet, que les peintres, lorsqu'il ont fait l'esquisse au dessin, donnent ses couleurs à l'être qu'ils veulent représenter.

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In the early stages the parts are all traced out in outline; later on they get their various colours and softnesses and hardnesses, for all the world as if a painter were at work on them, the painter being Nature. Painters, as we know, first of all sketch in the figure of the animal in outline, and after that go on to apply the colours. (Translation by A.L. Peck, 1979)

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Created by Valérie Toillon
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  • Spyridon Loumakis

Commentary

  1. This passage is taken from a paragraph that deals with the formation of the skin and the development of the embryo. The same idea has already been expressed in Generation of Animals II, 4. 740a28 (Peck, 1942, p. 135 and pp. 224-225).
  2. Aristotle establishes a parallel between the demiurge (demiourgos) and the painter who traces the outline (perigraphô) and fills it with many colours (chrômata), giving softness (malakos) and hardness (sklêros) to the figures. The verb “ypographô” expresses the notion of a form “traced in outline” or “sketched out.” This idea is part of the Aristotelian conception of generation, conceived as “reproductive hylomorphism,” i.e. matter (hylê; colours; textures) and form (morphê; outline drawing), or soul and body, as inseparable (Henry, 2009, pp. 372-374).
  3. The idea of a demiurge who can arrange the forms of the universe and “paint them with different colours” (diazographeô) comes from Plato, especially from Timaeus 55c (Louis, 1961, p. 80 n. 2; Hankinson, 1995, p.160). The same idea can be found in texts 41 (applied to mimèsis) and 261 (concerning the pictural technique of Parrhasius).
  4. Here, Aristotle plays with the double meaning of "zôion," which can be translated as both animal and image or drawn figure (Louis 1961, p. 80; Aristotle, Categories, 1.1a1-6; Lefebvre 2014).
Annotation Authors and Editors
Created by Valérie Toillon
Contributors:
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Bibliography

Aristote, De la Génération des Animaux, 2002, Texte établit et traduit par P. Louis, , 2e tirage, Les Belles Lettres, Paris;

"Génération des animaux" (trans. D. Lefebvre) in Aristote, Oeuvres complètes, 2014, Pierre Pellegrin (dir.), Flammarion, Paris, pp. 1575-1730;

Generation of Animals (trans. A. L. Peck), vol. XIII in Aristotle in Twenty-Three Volumes, 1979, The Loeb Classical Library 366, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann;

Hankinson, R.J. 1995, "Science" in Barnes, J. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 140-167;

Henry, D. M. 2009, " Generation of Animals", in Anagnostopoulos, G. (ed.), A Companion to Aristotle, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 368-383;

Plato. Timaeus. Critias. Cleitophon. Menexenus. Epistles, 1929, Translated by R. G. Bury, The Loeb Classical Library 234, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

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