Bekker numbering

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Bekker numbering or Bekker pagination is the standard form of citation to the works of Aristotle. It is based on the page numbers used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle and takes its name from the editor of that edition, the classical philologist August Immanuel Bekker (1785-1871); because the Academy was located in Berlin, the system is occasionally referred to by the alternative name Berlin numbering or Berlin pagination.[1]

Bekker numbers consist of up to three ordered coordinates, or pieces of information: a number, the letter a or b, and another number, which refer respectively to the page number of Bekker's edition of the Greek text of Aristotle's works, the page column (a standard page of Bekker's edition has exactly two columns), and the line number (total lines typically ranging from 20-40 on a given column or page in Bekker's edition). For example, the Bekker number denoting the beginning of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is 1094a1, which corresponds to page 1094 of Bekker's edition, first column (column a), line 1.[2]

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, and Diels-Kranz numbering is the comparable system for Pre-Socratic philosophy. Unlike Stephanus pagination, which is based upon a three-volume translation of Plato's works and which recycles low page numbers across the three volumes, introducing the possibility for ambiguity if the Platonic work or volume is not specified, Bekker page numbers cycle from 1 through the end of the Corpus Aristotelicum regardless of volume, without starting over for some other given volume. Bekker numbering therefore has the advantage that its notation is unambiguous as compact numerical information, although it relies upon the ordering of Aristotle's works as presented in Bekker's edition.

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.

[*]Authenticity disputed.
StrikethroughGenerally agreed to be spurious.
Work Latin name
1a Categories Categoriae
16a On Interpretation De Interpretatione
24a Prior Analytics Analytica Priora
71a Posterior Analytics Analytica Posteriora
100a Topics Topica
164a On 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
De Melisso, Xenophane, Gorgia
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.


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), 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.

Use in citations[edit]

To cite a work of the Corpus Aristotelicum or part thereof, Bekker numbers may be combined with book, chapter, and line numbers to give a precise reference. By academic convention, and regardless of the citation style otherwise generally followed throughout an academic work, the pagination in a citation to Aristotle would be in the general form of: Book number(s).Chapter number(s),Bekker number(s)Line number(s).[5]

For example, a citation of (Metaphysics, 1.9,991b9-20) would refer to lines 9-20 on page 991b of chapter 9 in Book I of the Metaphysics.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aristotelis Opera edidit Academia Regia Borussica, ex recognitione Immanuelis Bekkeri, 5 voll. Berlin, Georgium Reimerum, 1831-1870 (the last volume contains the Index Aristotelicus by Hermann Bonitz)
  2. ^ Jonathan Barnes, The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, Cambridge 1995 xxi
  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," Archived 2016-04-18 at the Wayback Machine University of Colorado Office of News Services, December 14, 2005.
  5. ^ "Citing Plato and Aristotle: Stephanus and Bekker Numbers". Proofed. 2019-11-23. Retrieved 2021-03-16.