The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

Document Type


Publication Date



According to Aristotle, art (technë) imitates nature. This celebrated doctrine is not limited to what we call the 'fine arts', or to works of 'art' in any narrow modern sense; and it does not mean that such art-works copy things in the natural order. It means, more generally, that craftsmen adopt means to produce ends; and that in doing so, they follow a pattern found throughout organic nature. The crafts, in their respective domains, do what nature does everywhere. This parallel often provides Aristotle with analogies from the crafts to illuminate the workings of nature. ,The Poetics is uniquely interesting in that it shows his mind moving, as it were, in the opposite direction. To illuminate a particular craft, that of the poet, he sometimes uses analogies from organic nature. In this paper I explore these analogies for the light they throw upon his conception of the poet's work, and especially upon his defence of epic and drama against the assaults of Plato.


David Gallop presented “Organic Models in Aristotle’s Poetics” to the meeting of the Society with the American Philological Association in Baltimore, 1989. It was revised with the title “Animals in the Poetics” and after further revision published in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 8 (1990) 145-171. It was reprinted in Rorty ed. 1992. Essays in Aristotle’s Poetics. Princeton University Press.

David Gallop is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Trent University.