Imitation may be understood as either appropriating the imitated qualities or representing them. This distinction, which seems obvious, was far from it in antiquity. Plato almost systematically discards imitation: representing characters leads directly to assuming their behavior. Aristotle is the first to clearly separate these two meanings, regarding humans as developing from appropriative imitation to enjoyment of artistic representation. In post-Aristotelian writing that distinction is blurred again: artistic imitation is conceived as appropriation of classical literary models, which are deemed ideal representations of nature. It will be a long time before Aristotle's clear distinction comes to life again in modernity.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Literature and Literary Theory