Are there any points of agreement among Plato, Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus about mimesis?

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Mimesis refers to the portray of real life in art or literature.

Although mimesis existed before Plato, he was the first to have a specific definition. He felt that it involved both composition and performance, however, he felt that imitating life in art or literature was disruptive.

Aristotle, on the...

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Mimesis refers to the portray of real life in art or literature.

Although mimesis existed before Plato, he was the first to have a specific definition. He felt that it involved both composition and performance, however, he felt that imitating life in art or literature was disruptive.

Aristotle, on the other hand, found mimesis to be much more organic, and didn't see the conflict that Plato did. He felt it was healing to represent real life in art, but he did see the difference between rituals and aesthetics.

Horace was very similar to Aristotle in seeing the unity of real life and art, and focused on this in both form and content. However, he differed from Aristotle in that he relied more on a looser form of inspiration.

Finally, Longinus retreated back to a more aesthetic, sacred, and structured scene.

As you can see there are many different interpretations of mimesis between these writers, they did all consider how their audience would interact with their work, and the division of art and reality.

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Ancient theories of mimesis start with Plato, primarily Republic and to a lesser extent Sophist. For Plato, the essential characteristic of both poetry and art is that they are mimetic. Unfortunately, they imitate not the ideal forms, but sensible particulars, which are themselves no more than pale imitations of the forms, and thus art becomes three removes from reality.

Although Aristotle accepts Plato's notion of mimesis as imitation, he is more concerned with its positive values -- that we can learn by imitating good models. While for Plato, the pure mimesis of drama was worse than the mixed mimesis and diegesis of epic, for Aristotle the reverse was true.

Horace follows a generally Aristotelian view of mimesis, but unlike Aristotle was more concerned with how to write literature than its philosophical implications.

Longinus was not as concerned with mimesis as the other three writers, taking a neoplatonic view of art that focussed on how sublime moments could affect the audience.

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