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Assigned: from On the Defense of the Comedy of Dante (301-23).

From On the Defense of the Comedy of Dante

1. On 303-05, how does Mazzoni define the term "idol"? What are "icastic" and "phantastic" imitation, respectively? Which is Mazzoni more interested in, and why?

2. On 307-12 (310-12 especially), what use does Mazzoni make of Aristotle's regard for "probability" in Poetics? Consider what Mazzoni says about the "credible impossible" in this regard. In addition, how does he characterize poetic representations in relation to sophistic rhetoric?

3. On 315-17, Mazzoni discusses the "efficient cause" (the Latin term is causa efficiens, which has to do with the maker of a given thing) of poetry. How do his remarks about the Civil Faculty help him determine this cause? In what sense, according to Mazzoni, is Aristotle's Poetics "the ninth book of the Politics" (316)?

4. On 317-23, Mazzoni explains the "final cause" or purpose of poetry. How does he define this most important of causes, and to what extent does he enlist Plato in the service of his argument? Do you find his references to Plato here (and elsewhere) convincing, or do you think he distorts Plato's perspective on art, at least insofar as we are familiar with it from our Republic selections? Explain your reasoning.

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97429-4.