Poetics

by

Aristotle

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Object Term Analysis

An object is the thing that is imitated in a work of art. According to Aristotle, an object can be anything—including a person, an inanimate object, or an event—and it is often beautiful, although this isn’t always the case. Aristotle argues that an object is either admirable or inferior (it is either morally good or morally bad) and can be imitated in many ways (known as the mode). The means through which an object is imitated is known as the medium. An object must possess appropriate magnitude, Aristotle says, meaning it should be big enough (either literally or metaphorically) to produce astonishment, but not so big that unity is disrupted and the object can’t be taken in a single view. Aristotle claims that an object can be imitated in one of three ways: as it is, as it is said or thought to be, or as it should be. For example, portrait-painters often paint people as better-looking than they actually are.

Object Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics quotes below are all either spoken by Object or refer to Object. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poetics published in 1997.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Epic poetry and the composition of tragedy, as well as comedy and the arts of dithyrambic poetry and (for the most part) of music for pipe or lyre, are all (taken together) imitations. They can be differentiated from each other in three respects: in respect of their different media of imitation, or different objects, or a different mode (i.e. a different manner).

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Those who imitate, imitate objects; and these must be either admirable or inferior. (Character almost always corresponds to just these two categories, since everyone is differentiated in character by defect or excellence.). Alternatively they must be better people than we are, or worse, or of the same sort (compare painters: Polygnotus portrayed better people, Pauson worse people, Dionysius people similar to us).

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

So tragedy as a whole necessarily has six component parts, which determine the tragedy’s quality. The medium of imitation comprises two parts, the mode one, and object three; and there is nothing apart from these.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Any beautiful object, whether a living organism or any other entity composed of parts, must not only possess those parts in proper order, but its magnitude also should not be arbitrary; beauty consists in magnitude as well as order. For this reason no organism could be beautiful if it is excessively small (since observation becomes confused as it comes close to having no perceptible duration in time) or excessively large (since the observation is then not simultaneous, and the observers find that the sense of unity and wholeness is lost from the observation, e.g. if there were an animal a thousand miles long). So just as in the case of physical objects and living organisms, they should possess a certain magnitude, and this should be such as can readily be taken in at one view, so in the case of plots: they should have a certain length, and this should be such as can readily be held in memory.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
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Object Term Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the term Object appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2. Poetry as a Species of Imitation
Imitation  Theme Icon
...of imitation, Aristotle says, but they differ from each other in three ways: their medium, object, and/or mode of imitation. (full context)
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
2.2 Object. Aristotle claims that in order to create an imitation, one needs an object to imitate, and these objects are either admirable or inferior. Characters especially fall under one... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
The distinction between the imitation of admirable objects and inferior objects can be made through music and dance or through language and verse.... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
2.3 Mode. The last difference among imitations is the mode in which artists imitate an object. An object can be imitated through narration, or an object can be imitated by actors... (full context)
Chapter 5. Plot: Basic Concepts
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
5.2 Magnitude. An imitation of an object, be that object a human being or something else, must possess all the parts it... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
Objects possess a specific magnitude, and they should be readily taken in with just one view.... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
5.4 Determinate State. An imitation is considered to have unity if it imitates a single object. The same goes for plot, which should imitate a single and complete action. The structure... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...poet is “a maker of plots,” Aristotle clarifies, not a maker of verses, and the object of a poet’s imitation is action. If a poet does write about the sort of... (full context)
Chapter 10. Epic
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
...is more possible in an epic, since readers are not always looking directly at the object. For example, Hector’s pursuit would be irrational on stage, but this irrationality isn’t noticed in... (full context)
Chapter 11. Problems and Solutions
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...poet is an imitator just as a painter is, and the poet must imitate an object in one of three ways: they imitate an object as it is, as it is... (full context)
Imitation  Theme Icon
...antlers. Plus, if something isn’t true in a poem, it may just be that an object is imitated as it should be, rather than how it actually is. Aristotle urges the... (full context)