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Title: Poet
Original Title: Poëte
Volume and Page: Vol. 12 (1765), p. 841
Author: Unknown
Translator: Wesal Astephan [University of Michigan, astwes@umich.edu]
Subject terms:
Literature
Original Version (ARTFL): Link
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URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0002.865
Citation (MLA): "Poet." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Wesal Astephan. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2014. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0002.865>. Trans. of "Poëte," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 12. Paris, 1765.
Citation (Chicago): "Poet." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Wesal Astephan. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0002.865 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Poëte," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 12:841 (Paris, 1765).

Poet, writer who composes works in verse. The Greek word ποιητὴς, signifies maker , inventor , from ποιέω, to make and the Latin facio , fingo , to make, to form; this is why poets were once called fatistes , playwrights; our ancestors referred to them as troubadours or seekers , that is to say inventors , without a doubt because of the fictions that they imagined and for which Horace accords them the same privileges as to Painters :

Pictoribus atque Poetis Quidlibet audendi semper suit aqua pote stas . Art poétique.

The Romans called them vates , bards; that is to say prophets , inspired men ; also Cicero reported it as a word of Democritus and of Plato, that one could not be a poet sine afflatu furoris , without afflatus, fury, that is to say without a touch of madness. Horace attested that Democritus banished all wise people from Helicon.

Excludit sanos helicone Poetas Democritus. Art poétique.

Despite this prejudice, Poets have been esteemed and honored throughout ages; they were the first historians. In ancient times, they recited and sung their works either in theatres, or in gardens and public games, or in baths; they were, simultaneously, actors and musicians. Their names were considered synonymous with the neokoroi and of panegyrists of gods. See Neokoros. The first among them, such as Homer and Hesiod, are even considered pagan theologians. Almost all intended to conceal physical or moral truths beneath their fictions and their allegories; others only had amusement in view. At Delphi, there were poets appointed to office, whose job was to put into verse the oracles that priests gathered from the mouth of the Pythia; but these verses were not always worthy of Apollo, the god of Poetry.

M. Spanheim claims that Arab authors are more frequently poets than those of other peoples and that there is more verse written in their language alone than in that of all other nations.

Greece conferred statues and crowns on Poets ; they were no less esteemed in Rome; Horace and Virgil were of distinguished rank member of the court of Augustus; but whether Poets were either debased afterwards, or whether they were not regarded as useful people, the law of Philip the Emperor that excluded poets from immunities accorded to other professors of the Sciences was inserted into the Code of Justinian. Modern poets seem to have been compensated for this contempt, through introduction of crowning great poets in ceremony. Those whom this honor was accorded to were named poet-laureates ; such had been Petrarca, Aeneas Slyvius, Arias Montano, Obrecht, the knight Perfetti; and in Britain, John Kay, John Gower, Bernard André, John Skelton, Dryden, Cibber. One can refer to a dissertation by the abbot of Resnel in the Mémoires de l’académie de Belles Lettres , Volume X for more on the matter.

Poets are divided, first in relation to the time in which they lived: in two categories, the ancients and the moderns; second, relative to the conditions which produced them, and where they lived, or relative to the language in which they wrote: poets in Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, English, etc.; and third, relative to the subjects they treated: epic poets such as Homer and Virgil, Torquato Tasso, and Milton, etc.; tragic poets such as Sophocles, Euripedes, Shakespeare, Otway, Corneille, and Racine, etc.; comic poets Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Terence, Fletcher, Johnson, Molière, Renard, etc.; lyric poets such as Pindar, Horace, Anacreon, Cowley, Malherbe, Rosseau, etc.; satirical poets , Juvenal, Perse, Régnier, Boileau, Dryden, Oldham, etc.; and elegiac poets , etc.; see Epic, Comic, Lyric, etc.