Ancient Greek word for "genre" - γένος?

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Ancient Greek word for "genre" - γένος?

Post by bpk » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:39 pm

Does anyone know of any text from the Koine period or earlier in which literary categories are discussed and a clear term that would be roughly equivalent to the modern "genre" would be used?

I have heard that γένος would be the best approximation, but I am not sure how certain this is or if it goes back to a particular text.

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Re: Ancient Greek word for "genre" - γένος?

Post by jeidsath » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:56 pm

I think that I've seen εἶδος used that way. See the LSJ entry, section II.
II. form, kind, or nature, τῶν ἀλλέων παιγνιέων τὰ εἴδεα Hdt.1.94; τὸ εἶ. τῆς νόσου Th.2.50, etc.; ἐν ἁρμονίας εἴδει εἶναι, γενέσθαι, to be or become like . . , Pl.Phd.91d, cf. Cra.394d; ὡς ἐν φαρμάκου εἴδει by way of medicine, Id.R.389b; νόμων ἔχει εἶδος is in the province of law, Arist.Pol.1286a3; situation, state of things, σκέψασθε ἐν οἵῳ εἴδει . . τοῦτο ἔπραξαν Th.3.62; plan of action, policy, ἐπὶ εἶδος τρέπεσθαι Id.6.77, 8.56; ἐπ’ ἄλλ’ εἶδος τρέπεσθαι take up another line, Ar.Pl.317; specific notion, meaning, idea, ἂν παρέχῃ τὸ ἓν εἶ. δύο ὀνόματα . . , περὶ ἑνὸς εἴδεος δύο ὀνόματα οὐ τὰ αὐτά Aen.Tact.24.1; department, Hp.VM12 (but also, elementary nature or quality, ib.15); type, sort, πυρετῶν Id.Epid.3.12; αὐγῆς Id.Off.3, etc.: Rhet., style of writing, τὰ εἴδη τῶν λόγων Isoc.13.17, cf. Arist.Rh.Al. 1441b9 (pl.); later, definite literary form, Men.Rh.init., Procl.Chrest. p.243 W., EM295.52; also, example of a style, ὅλοις εἴδεσι Isoc.15.74; later, single poem, applied to Pindar's odes by Sch.; also, written statement, ἀναγνωσθέντος εἴδους PAmh.2.65.11 (ii A.D.), cf. PTeb.287.12 (ii A.D.).
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Re: Ancient Greek word for "genre" - γένος?

Post by C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:39 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:56 pm
I think that I've seen εἶδος used that way.
Aristotle, Poetics 1447α] [8]

περὶ ποιητικῆς αὐτῆς τε καὶ τῶν εἰδῶν αὐτῆς, ἥν τινα δύναμιν ἕκαστον ἔχει, καὶ πῶς δεῖ συνίστασθαι τοὺς μύθους [10] εἰ μέλλει καλῶς ἕξειν ἡ ποίησις, ἔτι δὲ ἐκ πόσων καὶ ποίων ἐστὶ μορίων, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὅσα τῆς αὐτῆς ἐστι μεθόδου, λέγωμεν ἀρξάμενοι κατὰ φύσιν πρῶτον ἀπὸ τῶν πρώτων.

[1447a] [8]
Let1 us here deal with Poetry, its essence and its several species, with the characteristic function of each species and the way in which plots must be constructed if the poem is to be a success; and also with the number and character of the constituent parts of a poem, and similarly with all other matters proper to this same inquiry; and let us, as nature directs, begin first with first principles.
Aristotle divided poetry into three main categories: epic, tragic, and comedic. These three genres can then be further separated into several sub-genres. In Poetics, Aristotle describes epic poetry as being a narrative form of poetry that contains a central plot. It consists of multiple characters whose voices the poet can take on to further the narrative. Epic poetry also uses a one-verse form. ... iew-376279

I had an english translation of Aristotle's Poetics as a text book for a class on aesthetics summer of 1970. I probably didn't understand much of Aristotle's Poetics but it didn't matter. It was my final quarter as an undergraduate. The class was actually very enjoyable. Projects like seeing Satyricon by Federico Fellini, Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni which was already cult film by 1970, a Rodin exhibit, a concert by the Contemporary Group, a string quartet at the Univ of Washington. Had numerous run-ins with the violist Dorothy Shapiro (principle violist Seattle Symphony) decades later.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

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Re: Ancient Greek word for "genre" - γένος?

Post by bpk » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:03 pm

Very helpful, thank you. Aristotle's example seems like a pretty strong case right there for ειδος.

Was what I heard about γένος unsubstantiated or can anyone provide a reference for γένος being an ancient word for genre as well?

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