Corpus Aristotelicum

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The end of Sophistical Refutations and beginning of Physics on page 184 of Bekker's 1831 edition.

The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through Medieval manuscript transmission. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's lost works, are technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school. Reference to them is made according to the organization of Immanuel Bekker's nineteenth-century edition, which in turn is based on ancient classifications of these works.

Overview of the extant works[edit]

The extant works of Aristotle are broken down according to the five categories in the Corpus Aristotelicum. Not all of these works are considered genuine, but differ with respect to their connection to Aristotle, his associates and his views. Some are regarded by most scholars as products of Aristotle's "school" and compiled under his direction or supervision. (The Constitution of Athens, the only major modern addition to the Corpus Aristotelicum, has also been so regarded.) Other works, such as On Colors may have been products of Aristotle's successors at the Lyceum, e.g., Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus. Still others acquired Aristotle's name through similarities in doctrine or content, such as the De Plantis, possibly by Nicolaus of Damascus. A final category, omitted here, includes medieval palmistries, astrological and magical texts whose connection to Aristotle is purely fanciful and self-promotional.

In several of the treatises, there are references to other works in the corpus. Based on such references, some scholars have suggested a possible chronological order for a number of Aristotle's writings. W.D. Ross, for instance, suggested the following broad chronology (which of course leaves out much): Categories, Topics, Sophistici Elenchi, Analytics, Metaphysics Δ, the physical works, the Ethics, and the rest of the Metaphysics.[1] Many modern scholars, however, based simply on lack of evidence, are skeptical of such attempts to determine the chronological order of Aristotle's writings.[2]

Bekker numbers[edit]

Bekker numbers, the standard form of reference to works in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are based on the page numbers used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle (Aristotelis Opera edidit Academia Regia Borussica, Berlin, 1831–1870). They take their name from the editor of that edition, the classical philologist August Immanuel Bekker (1785–1871).

Bekker numbers take the format of up to four digits, a letter for column 'a' or 'b', then the line number. For example, the beginning of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is 1094a1, which corresponds to page 1094 of Bekker's edition of the Greek text of Aristotle's works, first column, line 1.

All modern editions or translations of Aristotle intended for scholarly readers use Bekker numbers, in addition to or instead of page numbers. Contemporary scholars writing on Aristotle use the Bekker number so that the author's citations can be checked by readers without having to use the same edition or translation that the author used.

While Bekker numbers are the dominant method used to refer to the works of Aristotle, Catholic or Thomist scholars often use the medieval method of reference by book, chapter, and sentence, albeit generally in addition to Bekker numbers.

Stephanus pagination is the comparable system for referring to the works of Plato.

Aristotle's works by Bekker numbers[edit]

The following list is complete. The titles are given in accordance with the standard set by the Revised Oxford Translation.[3] Latin titles, still often used by scholars, are also given.

Key
Bekker
number
Work Latin name
Logic
Organon
1a Categories Categoriae
16a On Interpretation De Interpretatione
24a Prior Analytics Analytica Priora
71a Posterior Analytics Analytica Posteriora
100a Topics Topica
164a Sophistical Refutations De Sophisticis Elenchis
Physics (natural philosophy)
184a Physics Physica
268a On the Heavens De Caelo
314a On Generation and Corruption De Generatione et Corruptione
338a Meteorology Meteorologica
391a On the Universe De Mundo
402a On the Soul De Anima
 
Parva Naturalia  ("Little Physical Treatises")
436a Sense and Sensibilia De Sensu et Sensibilibus
449b On Memory De Memoria et Reminiscentia
453b On Sleep De Somno et Vigilia
458a On Dreams De Insomniis
462b On Divination in Sleep De Divinatione per Somnum
464b On Length and Shortness
of Life
De Longitudine et Brevitate Vitae
467b On Youth, Old Age, Life
and Death, and Respiration
De Juventute et Senectute, De
Vita et Morte, De Respiratione
 
481a On Breath De Spiritu
 
486a History of Animals Historia Animalium
639a Parts of Animals De Partibus Animalium
698a Movement of Animals De Motu Animalium
704a Progression of Animals De Incessu Animalium
715a Generation of Animals De Generatione Animalium
 
791a On Colors De Coloribus
800a On Things Heard De audibilibus
805a Physiognomonics Physiognomonica
815a On Plants De Plantis
830a On Marvellous Things Heard De mirabilibus auscultationibus
847a Mechanics Mechanica
859a [?] Problems [?] Problemata
968a On Indivisible Lines De Lineis Insecabilibus
973a The Situations and Names
of Winds
Ventorum Situs
974a On Melissus, Xenophanes,
and Gorgias
Metaphysics
980a Metaphysics Metaphysica
Ethics and politics
1094a Nicomachean Ethics Ethica Nicomachea
1181a [?] Great Ethics [?] Magna Moralia
1214a Eudemian Ethics Ethica Eudemia
1249a On Virtues and Vices De Virtutibus et Vitiis Libellus
1252a Politics Politica
1343a [?] Economics [?] Oeconomica
Rhetoric and poetics
1354a Rhetoric Ars Rhetorica
1420a Rhetoric to Alexander Rhetorica ad Alexandrum
1447a Poetics Ars Poetica

Aristotelian works lacking Bekker numbers[edit]

Constitution of the Athenians[edit]

The Constitution of the Athenians (or Athenaiōn Politeia) was not included in Bekker's edition, because it was first edited in 1891 from papyrus rolls acquired in 1890 by the British Museum. The standard reference to it is by section (and subsection) numbers.

Fragments[edit]

Surviving fragments of the many lost works of Aristotle were included in the fifth volume of Bekker's edition, edited by Valentin Rose. These are not cited by Bekker numbers, however, but according to fragment numbers. Rose's first edition of the fragments of Aristotle was Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus (1863). As the title suggests, Rose considered these all to be spurious. The numeration of the fragments in a revised edition by Rose, published in the Teubner series, Aristotelis qui ferebantur librorum fragmenta, Leipzig, 1886, is still commonly used (indicated by R3), although there is a more current edition with a different numeration by Olof Gigon (published in 1987 as a new vol. 3 in Walter de Gruyter's reprint of the Bekker edition), and a new de Gruyter edition by Eckart Schütrumpf is in preparation.[4]

For a selection of the fragments in English translation, see W.D. Ross, Select Fragments (Oxford 1952), and Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, vol. 2, Princeton 1984, pp. 2384–2465.

The works surviving only in fragments include the dialogues On Philosophy (or On the Good), Eudemus (or On the Soul), Protrepticus, On Justice, and On Good Birth. The possibly spurious work, On Ideas survives in quotations by Alexander of Aphrodisias in his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. For the dialogues, see also the editions of Richard Rudolf Walzer, Aristotelis Dialogorum fragmenta, in usum scholarum (Florence 1934), and Renato Laurenti, Aristotele: I frammenti dei dialoghi (2 vols.), Naples: Luigi Loffredo, 1987.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (1953), vol. 1, p. lxxxii. By the "physical works", Ross means the Physics, On the Heavens, On Generation and Corruption, and the Meteorology; see Ross, Aristotle's Physics (1936), p. 3.
  2. ^ E.g., Jonathan Barnes, "Life and Work" in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (1995), pp. 18-22.
  3. ^ The Complete Works of Aristotle, edited by Jonathan Barnes, 2 vols., Princeton University Press, 1984.
  4. ^ "CU-Boulder Expert Wins $75,000 Award For Research On Aristotle," University of Colorado Office of News Services, December 14, 2005.

External links[edit]