One’s first reaction on seeing this book might be to wonder why it is labelled "Aristotle" at all. The de Mundo has long been regarded as spurious, the work of a later Peripatetic, or even of the vaguely Stoicizing eclecticism which was already, in the later Hellenistic period, beginning to see Aristotle and Plato as the proponents of the same philosophy. There has, however, been no general agreement about where precisely in that framework it should be placed, and Reale, who (...) has recently tried, not without success, to rehabilitate Melissus as a serious thinker, now tries to rehabilitate the de Mundo as a genuine work of Aristotle: he thinks the lack of agreement among the critics is itself an argument in its favor. Restoring the original attribution seems to be the main purpose of what is in fact the first full scale edition with commentary of the de Mundo. It contains a text, largely that established by Lorimer, with translation en face, a long introduction, copious notes and a full word index; the text and translation occupy less than a fifth of the whole. As far as a non-Italian can judge the translation is accurate—and free of effusive expansion. The notes are a real mine of information. So it should be said at the start that whether or not one accepts Reale’s thesis about genuineness does not affect the value of the edition as such. The question of authenticity is discussed with great thoroughness in the introduction, with considerable backing, some of it perhaps inevitably repetitious, in the form of detailed discussion in the notes. At the start Reale lists the charges levelled against the work at various times. These are that in general it contains non-Aristotelian elements, that the style is completely different from Aristotle’s, as is the method, being one of assertion rather than demonstration. Further, much of the material in the scientific section is post-Aristotelian, and the "Orphic hymn" of chapter 7 shows Stoic influence. Reale argues that the first three charges will stick only if the basis of discussion is the Aristotle of the treatises and claims that the objectionable material in the de Mundo can be paralleled from the exoteric works. Thus all the pre-Jaeger discussion is misconceived. (shrink)
Like the other volumes in this excellent series, so auspiciously inaugurated by Reale’s Metaphysics, this contains a long introduction, a translation, and copious notes. Unlike those in the Clarendon Aristotle series, these translations are designed to be readable rather than to provide an unbiased key to Aristotle’s meaning and admit an element of conscious interpretation.