chapter  2
14 Pages



Whether or not we classify any of Aristotle’s writings as aesthetics proper, he certainly produced the first extended philosophical studies of an art form. But most of his works on poetry have long disappeared, leaving the Poetics as our only souvenir of his theory of art. So that work has enjoyed an unmatched cultural influence, as writers followed Aristotle’s rules for composing poetry, and critics followed his rules for evaluating those writers. Even when both sides distorted the Poetics, they learned from its principles and passed them along, and our idea of art owes that little book a great debt.