The Composition of Aristotle's Politics

Classical Quarterly 21 (3-4):177- (1927)
In considering the question as to the order of composition of different portions of Aristotle's works it is necessary to start with some idea as to his method of composition. On looking at the surviving works one sees at a glance that at some date and by some hand they have been carefully arranged as a continuous series. Internal references forward and backward are frequent. The author refrains as carefully as Euclid does from anticipating ‘earlier’ discussion the answer to a question which will arise ‘later.’ The forward references are merely promises that a question will be discussed. These multitudinous cross-references are so interwoven with the thought and the argument that there is little doubt that in the main they are due to Aristotle himself. On the other hand, the short transitional statements with which the ‘books’ as we have them close must always be accepted with some reservations. The book is a device of the ancient bookseller, not the unit of composition. Of course, where they could, the editors have made the ends of books correspond with important breaks in the argument; but wholly artificial book-endings do occur. There is, e.g., the end of N.E. θ, which corresponds to no important stage in the thought; and here the editor or bookseller has merely emphasized the artificiality of the division by inserting the wholly inappropriate clause, περ μν ον τοτων π τοσοῨτον ερσθω
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800001282
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