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Modes of Imitation and To the Art of Rhetoric, by William Walsh

Modes of Imitation

—Derived from Aristotle’s Poetics (350 BCE, translated by S. H. Butcher)


there are persons who imitate and represent
various objects, color and form, voice as whole

imitation is produced by rhythm, language
rhythm alone—dancing—rhythm alone

dancing imitates character, emotion, and action
which imitates by means of language

modes of imitation

poetic imitation in iambic
imitation makes the poet

poetic imitation
combine all meters
composed of meters of all kinds

objects of imitation are men in action

modes of imitation

a distinct kind in imitating objects
(objects may be imitated)

the poet may imitate by narration as Homer does—artistic imitation
Sophocles is an imitator of the same kind for both imitate higher types of character

imitate persons acting or doing

modes of imitation

instinct of imitation is implanted in man
he is the most imitative of living creatures
through imitation learns his earliest lessons
universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated
pleasure due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution?

imitation is one instinct of our nature
the graver spirits imitated noble actions
the more trivial sort imitated the actions of meaner persons,
combined dramatic form with excellence of imitation

Comedy: imitation of characters of a lower type
Tragedy: imitation in verse of characters of a higher type

the poetry which imitates

an imitation of action that is serious, complete
imitation implies persons acting

the media of imitation

imitation of an action, both of character and thought
plot is the imitation of action, arrangement of incidents

the medium of imitation, the objects of imitation
character, plot, diction, song, and thought

tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action
tragedy is the imitation of an action, and of the agents
tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete,
and whole, and of a certain magnitude

in the other imitative arts, the imitation is one when the
object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation
of an action, must imitate one action

he is a poet because he imitates,
and what he imitates are actions

tragedy is an imitation not only of a complete action,
but of events inspiring fear or pity

plots are an imitation

imitate actions which excite pity and fear

the distinctive mark of tragic imitation
the pleasure the poet should afford is that which comes
from pity and fear though imitation

the subject of the imitation
must be consistently inconsistent

tragedy is an imitation of persons who are above the common level
imitation by means of action

poetic imitation          cannot imitate several lines

the narrative form of imitation stands alone

the poet should speak as little as possible
for it is not this that makes him an imitator

imitate but little and rarely

a poet has chosen to imitate [but has imitated it incorrectly]

imitation is the higher
art which imitates
anything and everything

epic imitation has less unity

poems are as perfect as possible in
an imitation of a single action



To the Art of Rhetoric

—Derived from Aristotle’s Rhetoric  (350 BCE, translated by W. Rhys Roberts)


Book I: Toasts, Infinitives, Copulae 

To no definite science; to a certain extent; to discuss statements and to maintain them; to defend themselves and to attack others; to inquire the reason; to do; to say; to pervert the judge; to anger; to do; to show; to take his instructions; to find one man; to find a large number; to satisfy; to decide on definite cases; to be so much; to decide as few things as possible; to put; to tell; to gain skill; to write treatises; to plead; to talk about nonessentials; to prove anything; to conciliate the listener; to be; to form; to guard against; to have; to see how and from what; to make a good guess; to prevail; to be; to produce conviction; to handle a popular audience; to employ persuasion; to confute; to prove; to believe; to hold; to be ashamed; to defend himself with his limbs; to defend himself with his speech and reason; to succeed in persuading; to discover; to make; to put; to give; to discern the real and apparent; to discern the real and apparent; to give some account; to be used; to be invented; to make us think; to speak; to speak of the emotions; to be in command; to reason logically; to understand human character; to understand the emotions; to name them; to know their causes; to use; to define; to be prove; to cure Socrates; to cure any and all; to deal; to guide; to present; to form syllogisms; to follow; to win assent; to mention it; to show; to say; to the universal; to the particular; to the proposition it supports; to the proposition it supports; to the proposition it supports; to whole; to part; to whole; to part; to like; to make himself a despot; to carry out such a scheme; to the speaker; to be demonstrative; to rhetoric; to dialectic; to other arts and faculties; to those we already exercise or to those we have not yet acquired; to say; to questions of right conduct; to do; to base; to particular groups or classes of things; to setting up a science that is distinct; to be founded; to all classes alike; to discover the elements of which each is composed; to speeches; to make; to do or not to do something; to three different kinds of time; to be done hereafter; to things already done; to recall the past and make guesses about the future; to this main consideration; to this one; to this one; to establish anything; to take an inexpedient course or not to take an expedient one; to enslave its innocent neighbors; to do what was honourable; to die thus; to do; to live on; to have propositions; to be done; to be able; to have; to accept or reject proposals; to prove; to show; to say which is the great or lesser good; to master the propositions relevant; to offer counsel; to set going; to enumerate and classify accurately; to frame; to the art of rhetoric; to a more instructive art; to it; to make; to distinguish; to political science; to ways and means; to know; to advise; to peace and war; to make war or not; to have similar results; to national defense; to know all; to the food supply; to trade; to take; to be destroyed; to study the past; to understand; to have a knowledge; to learn; to legislation; to argue; to sum it up briefly; to things or not to do them; to do; to its opposite; to do; to be completely independent; to have; to make; to ascertain; to the family; to a community; to bodily excellences; to the excellences of the soul; to an individual; to dispose; to those who have already done good; to the man who can do good in the future; to the preservation of life and the means of life; to wealth; to some other of the good things which it is hard to get either always or at that particular place or time; to both; to have the use of our bodies; to abstain from everything or nearly everything; to endure; to look; to be strong; to be free; to others; to do this; to surpass ordinary people in height; to live a long and painless life; to do; to be good; to luck; to luck; to artificial contrivance; to nature; to be sure; to nature; to reasonable expectation; to go to a place you have gone to regularly; to virtue; to define; to discuss; to determine; to ends; to do; to assure; to be chosen; to produce good works and good actions; to aim; to be bestowed; to the community; to the advantage of our enemies; to the particular advantage of our enemies; to our countrymen; to them both; to be an end; to have tarried; to be equivalent to everybody; to be insulted; to do; to do; to do; to have either; to their birth; to have but lack; to be not only pleasant but better; to treat; to call; to what is desirable; to that at which all things aim; to what they would choose if they could; to that which tends to produce or preserve practical wisdom; to himself; to the superiority possessed by their largest specimens; to be more important than another from two opposite points of view; to do it; to carry it out; to get; to be; to desire it; to the importance of the instinct itself; to desire it; to form their judgments; to all other judgments; to be; to judgments of goodness; to be so; to better men; to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong; to bring about; to bring about; to represent; to share; to be good; to surpass; to battle; to thralldom; to shame; to be the cause and origin; to seasons, ages, places, times, or one’s natural powers; to the end; to know of his having it; to Tegea town; to extol; to come by; to extol himself by describing; to come by; to the end in view; to know; to show; to receive benefits is more desirable than to confer them; to know; to be; to seem; to seem just than to be just; to be of the highest value; to a third thing; to the same thing; to possess; to possess; to others; to understand all the forms of government and to discriminate their respective customs, institutions, and interest; to give authoritative decisions; to judge; to the national institutions; to be looked upon; to the realization of their ends; to realize the ideal of each constitution; to their ends; to convince; to provide; to aim when urging; to base; to the various forms of government; to the extent demanded by the present occasion; to consider virtue and vice; to make our hearers take the required view; to make them trust the goodness of other people; to make them trust our own; to argue; to the usual view; to others; to others in war; to do noble deeds; to its commands; to obey the law where physical pleasures are concerned; to spend money; to do good to others on a large scale; to come to wise decisions about the relation of the goods and evils that have been previously mentioned; to further aspects of the subject; to discern the facts; to do or have done to him; to us; to him; to those whose advantage is enjoyed during one’s lifetime; to be for one’s own sake; to one’s benefactors; to one’s own profit; to do shameful things; to thee; to speak baseness were thy tongue not burning; to fair fame; to other people; to their possessions; to avenge oneself on one’s enemies and not to come to terms with them; to surrender is a sign of courage; to the class of noble things; to be remembered; to perform any menial task when one’s hair is long; to practise any sordid task; to have been intended; to live at another’s beck and call; to assume; to praise a man or blame him; to his actual qualities; to extremes; to possess; to draw a misleading inference; to any one and every one; to his friends also; to be good to everybody; to say; to praise; to an Athenian audience; to represent; to the man who does; to the honour he already has; to get on with the higher; to prove that our hero’s noble acts are intentional; to what he has actually done; to make our story credible; to have good sons; to produce good character; to call anyone blest; to call him happy; to bestow praise; to praise a man; to urging a course of action; to change and reverse our form of words; to fortune; to himself; to a suggestion; to make it into praise; to fortune; to himself; to praise; to do; to urge the doing; to encourage; to be put up; to do; to his want; to surpass men who are themselves great; to speeches of praise; to reveal excellence; to all speeches; to invest; to deliberative speeches; to forensic speeches; to treat; to enumerate; to wrong-doing; to law; to be acknowledged everywhere; to law; to others; to the bad quality; to others; to his particular faults; to consider; to whom they do wrong; to get; to others; to do wrong to our neighbors; to that person himself; to himself; to chance; to a man himself; to necessity; to compulsion; to nature; to chance or to nature or to compulsion; to a man himself; to habit or to rational or irrational craving; to one or other of seven causes; to distinguish; to the doers’ ages; to wealth or poverty; to command needless pleasures; to wealth or poverty; to appetite; to act; to one of the causes mentioned; to good dispositions; to bad; to pleasant things; to discuss in exact detail; to nature; to ask whether; to the desire or reason of the doer; to reasoning; to an end; to passion; to satisfy his feelings; to discuss the emotions; to the class of pleasant things; to them; to sum up; to ourselves; to be either good or pleasant; to examine the pleasant; to produce this condition; to destroy it; to cause the soul to be brought into the opposite state; to move toward a natural state; to what happens; to them; to these; to the class of pleasant things; to each kind of nourishment; to have; to see or get; to believe them good; to remember; to remember pain; to one that remembers all; to be merely free from evil; to expect; to afford; to having more; to memory; to the eye of imagination; to get anything; to fail; to get their revenge; to bad losers; to every one; to them; to those; to be good judges; to yourself; to the class of pleasant things; to love; to be loved; to possess; to be loved means to be valued for one’s own personal qualities; to be admired; to do the same thing often is pleasant; to change is also pleasant; to nature; to us; to the class of pleasant things; to receive; to get what one desires; to confer a benefit; to attain; to put; to supply what they lack; to each other; to another man, horse, or young person; to like; to jackdaw; to oneself; to himself; to all of us; to complete what is defective; to be thought wise; to disparage our neighbors; to have power; to spend; to that he bends himself; to that each day; to the class of pleasant things; to others; to consider the states of mind; to whom they do it; to forensic; to all kinds of speaking; to others without being punished; to be found out; to be charged with violent assault; to do; to be watched; to be detected; to hide your crime; to lose; to be got by wrong-doing; to be gained; to the popular view; to you; to a fine, or banishment, or something of that sort; to wrong others; to give up the struggle; to weak-willed persons; to all the objects of desire; to you; to self-controlled and sensible people; to make it appear; to chance, or to necessity, or two natural causes, or to habit; to put it generally; to do right; to trust; to judge you equitably; to do will make it worse; to others; to whom he does wrong; to whom he does it; to elude; to have enough energy; to prosecute; to show fight; to attack in the future; to make up their minds to prosecute; to treat badly; to prosecute; to terms; to waste time; to leave off; to no wrong; to people; to behave; to do so; to whom we shall be gratifying; to whom we mould our lives; to Dion; to wrong them; to have sent; to Gelon; to slavery; to do many righteous acts; to do some unjust acts in order to be able to do many just ones; to others; to be forgiven; to the women in his household; to himself; to his sons; to prosecute any one; to whom they do them; to make a complete classification; to two kinds of law; to two classes of persons; to its own members; to some extent divines; to do or not to do; to some definite person; to the community; to you; to do; to be wronged; to distinguish what is theft; to be able; to make the justice of our case clear; to establish a man’s guilt; to establish his innocence; to outrage; to insult; to theft; to say; to help our friends; to define things exactly; to legislate as if; to be complete; to the endless possible cases presented; to inflict wounds; to make out; to strike; to the unwritten words; to be so; to forgivable actions; to moral badness; to moral badness; to moral badness; to the weakness of human nature; to think less; to consider; to ask not; to be patient; to settle a dispute by negotiation; to prefer arbitration; to motion; to be adequate; to defend; to get; to receive; to Euctemon, who had cut his own throat; to him; to commit; to thinking; to prevent and punish; to do them good; to be so; to be used in persuasion and dissuasion; to the universal; to honest opinion; to be distinguished; to the written; to make illegal; to meet which it was passed exists no longer; to prove; to combat; to give; to my honest opinion; to make the judges give a verdict; to the law; to save them; to use the laws; to have no laws; to try to be cleverer; to be cleverer; to witnesses; to all; to Homer; to make out; to strike; to future events; to soothsayers; to make a friend of an old man; to the proverb; to avenge; to Archibius; to admit that one is a scoundrel; to the fact that an action was or was not done; to the quality of an action; to its being just or unjust; to mislead; to ourselves; to our opponent; to questions of fact; to questions of personal character; to prove our own worth; to increase or diminish; to increase; to diminish; to be attached; to contracts; to exist; to discover; to fight; to observe; to pass; to suppose; to decide; to pervert justice; to a contract; to point out; to tell in our favour; to tell the truth; to be let off; to be able to quote cases; to the judges; to oaths; to offer oaths; to perjure; to accept an oath; to swear in order to succeed; to high principle; to fear of perjury; to challenge a weakling to strike; to accept an oath; to invert the remark; to offer the oath; to accept it; to offer an oath; to accept an oath; to commit the issue to the gods; to want other judges; to refuse to swear; to argue; to argue; to accept; to offer; to offer it but not to accept it; to accept and to offer it; to do neither; to the force; to magnify the importance of the oath.


Book II: Two

  1. We will begin, as we must begin, by observing that there are two kinds of enthymemes.
  2. Questions of Past Fact may be looked at in the following ways: first, that if the less likely of two things has occurred, the more likely must have occurred also.
  3. That if it is possible for one of a pair of contraries to be or happen, then it is possible for the other: e.g. if a man can be cured, he can also fall ill; for any two contraries are equally possible, in so far as they are contraries.
  4. It is not enough to know one or even two of these points; unless we know all three, we shall be unable to arouse anger in any one.
  5. For there are two reasons why human beings face danger calmly: they may have no experience of it, or they may have means to deal with it: thus when in danger at sea people may feel confident about what will happen either because they have no experience of bad weather, or because their experience gives them the means of dealing with it.
  6. Also those who have parents living, or children, or wives; for these are our own, and the evils mentioned above may easily befall them. And those who neither moved by any courageous emotion such as anger or confidence (these emotions take no account of the future), nor by a disposition to presumptuous insolence (insolent men, too, take no account of the possibility that something evil will happen to them), nor yet by great fear (panic-stricken people do not feel pity, because they are taken up with what is happening to themselves); only those feel pity who are between these two extremes.
  7. Very good: these two things are what Orestes has done.
  8. The two feelings have this in common, that they must be due not to some untoward thing being likely to befall ourselves, but only to what is happening to our neighbour.
  9. That if one of two things whose existence depends on each other is possible, so is the other; for instance, if ‘double’, then ‘half’’, and if ‘half’’, then ‘double’.
  10. These are of two main kinds, ‘Example’ and ‘Enthymeme’; for the ‘Maxim’ is part of an enthymeme.
  11. This form of argument has two varieties: one consisting in the mention of actual past facts, the other in the invention of facts by the speaker.
  12. Of the latter, again, there are two varieties, the illustrative parallel and the fable (e.g. the fables of Aesop, those from Libya).
  13. The difference between the two kinds is the same as that between syllogistic proof and disproof in dialectic.
  14. Why, there are two things to examine here.
  15. Hence you must ask yourself two distinct questions: (1) Is it right that A should be thus treated? (2) Is it right that B should thus treat him?
  16. Sometimes in such a case the two answers differ.
  17. Another line of argument is used when we have to urge or discourage a course of action that may be done in either of two opposite ways, and have to apply the method just mentioned to both.
  18. The difference between this one and the last is that, whereas in the last any two things are contrasted, here the things contrasted are opposites.
  19. It is just this situation, viz. when each of two opposites has both a good and a bad consequence opposite respectively to each other, that has been termed divarication.
  20. Another line is the argument that if two results are the same their antecedents are also the same.
  21. The Refutative Enthymeme has a greater reputation than the Demonstrative, because within a small space it works out two opposing arguments, and arguments put side by side are clearer to the audience.
  22. You have therefore to adopt whichever of these two lines better suits your purpose.
  23. There is also the argument that one who knows the letters knows the whole word, since the word is the same thing as the letters which compose it; or that, if a double portion of a certain thing is harmful to health, then a single portion must not be called wholesome, since it is absurd that two good things should make one bad thing.
  24. Still, perhaps the two things, once they are put together, do not form a right act.
  25. The fallacy might also be said to be due to omission, since the speaker fails to say by whose hand a husband-slayer should die.
  26. By ‘attacking your opponent’s own statement’ I mean, for instance, this: if his enthymeme should assert that love is always good, the objection can be brought in two ways, either by making the general statement that ‘all want is an evil’, or by making the particular one that there would be no talk of ‘Caunian love’ if there were not evil loves as well as good ones.
  27. It may do so in either of two ways: either in respect of frequency or in respect of exactness.
  28. That if of two similar things one is possible, so is the other.
  29. That if the harder of two things is possible, so is the easier.



Book III: Free

Poetical language is
certainly free from
meanness, but it
is not appropriate
to prose; freedom
from meanness; whom
does the freedman
choose as his
advocate? prose must
be free-running, with
its parts united
by nothing except
the connecting words;
free-running style is
the ancient one;
by ‘free-running’ style
I mean the
kind that has
no natural stopping-places;
such, then, is
the free-running
kind of style;
freedom and valour
are buried in
the same grave;
freedom presents
a kind of
antithesis; but you
must roam as
free as a
sacred victim; strings
of unconnected words,
and constant repetitions
of words and
phrases, are very
properly condemned in
written speeches: but
not in spoken
speeches—speakers use
them freely, for
they have a
dramatic effect.

  • William Walsh is the author of Forty-Four American Boys, Stephen King Stephen King, Unknown Arts, Ampersand, Mass., Pathologies, Questionstruck, and Without Wax. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Big Other, Quarterly West, New York Tyrant, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He is the editor of RE:Telling.

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