The end of Sophistical Refutations and beginning of Physics on page 184 of Bekker's 1831 edition.

The works of Aristotle, sometimes referred to by modern scholars with the Latin phrase Corpus Aristotelicum, is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity.

According to a distinction that originates with Aristotle himself,[citation needed] his writings are divisible into two groups: the "exoteric" and the "esoteric".[1] Most scholars have understood this as a distinction between works Aristotle intended for the public (exoteric), and the more technical works intended for use within the Lyceum course / school (esoteric).[2] Modern scholars commonly assume these latter to be Aristotle's own (unpolished) lecture notes (or in some cases possible notes by his students).[3] However, one classic scholar offers an alternative interpretation. The 5th century neoplatonist Ammonius Hermiae writes that Aristotle's writing style is deliberately obscurantist so that "good people may for that reason stretch their mind even more, whereas empty minds that are lost through carelessness will be put to flight by the obscurity when they encounter sentences like these."[4]

Not all of these works are considered genuine, but differ with respect to their connection to Aristotle, his associates and his views. Some are regarded by most scholars as products of Aristotle's "school" and compiled under his direction or supervision. Other works, such as On Colors, may have been products of Aristotle's successors at the Lyceum, e.g., Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus. Still others acquired Aristotle's name through similarities in doctrine or content, such as the De Plantis, possibly by Nicolaus of Damascus. A final category, omitted here, includes medieval palmistries, astrological and magical texts whose connection to Aristotle is purely fanciful and self-promotional.

In several of the treatises, there are references to other works in the corpus. Based on such references, some scholars have suggested a possible chronological order for a number of Aristotle's writings. W. D. Ross, for instance, suggested the following broad chronology (which of course leaves out much): Categories, Topics, Sophistici Elenchi, Analytics, Metaphysics Δ, the physical works, the Ethics, and the rest of the Metaphysics.[5] Many modern scholars however, based simply on lack of evidence, are skeptical of such attempts to determine the chronological order of Aristotle's writings.[6]

History of the works

According to Strabo and Plutarch, after Aristotle's death, his library of writings went to Theophrastus (Aristotle's successor as head of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school).[7] After the death of Theophrastus, the peripatetic library went to Neleus of Scepsis.[8]: 5 

Some time later, the Kingdom of Pergamon began conscripting books for a royal library, and the heirs of Neleus hid their collection in a cellar to prevent it from being seized for that purpose. The library was stored there for about a century and a half, in conditions that were not ideal for document preservation. On the death of Attalus III, which also ended the royal library ambitions, the existence of Aristotelian library was disclosed, and it was purchased by Apellicon and returned to Athens in about 100 BCE.[8]: 5–6 

Apellicon sought to recover the texts, many of which were seriously degraded at this point due to the conditions in which they were stored. He had them copied out into new manuscripts, and used his best guesswork to fill in the gaps where the originals were unreadable.[8]: 5–6 

When Sulla seized Athens in 86 BCE, he seized the library and transferred it to Rome. There, Andronicus of Rhodes organized the texts into the first complete edition of Aristotle's works (and works attributed to him).[9] The Aristotelian texts we have today are based on these.[8]: 6–8 

Diogenes Laërtius lists, in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (c. 230 CE), works of Aristotle comprising 156 titles divided into approximately 400 books, which he reports as totaling 445,270 lines of writing;[10] however, many of these are lost or only survive in fragments, and some may have been incorrectly attributed.[8]: 9–11 

Aristotle's works by Bekker numbers

See also: Bekker numbering

Bekker numbers, the standard form of reference to works in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are based on the page numbers used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle (Aristotelis Opera edidit Academia Regia Borussica, Berlin, 1831–1870). They take their name from the editor of that edition, the classical philologist August Immanuel Bekker (1785–1871).

*Authenticity disputed.
[ ]Generally 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


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.[11]

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. A new translation exists of the fragments of Aristotle's Protrepticus, by Hutchinson and Johnson (2015).[12]

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.

Printed editions

Aristotle's works have been published in many printed editions, either as complete editions of all surviving writings or as partial collections. English complete editions include:


  1. ^ Barnes 1995, p. 12; Aristotle himself: Nicomachean Ethics 1102a26–27. Aristotle himself never uses the term "esoteric" or "acroamatic". For other passages where Aristotle speaks of exōterikoi logoi, see W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (1953), vol. 2, pp. 408–410. Ross defends an interpretation according to which the phrase, at least in Aristotle's own works, usually refers generally to "discussions not peculiar to the Peripatetic school", rather than to specific works of Aristotle's own.
  2. ^ House, Humphry (1956). Aristotles Poetics. p. 35.
  3. ^ Barnes 1995, p. 12.
  4. ^ Ammonius (1991). On Aristotle's Categories. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-2688-X. p. 15
  5. ^ W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (1953), vol. 1, p. lxxxii. By the "physical works", Ross means the Physics, On the Heavens, On Generation and Corruption, and the Meteorology; see Ross, Aristotle's Physics (1936), p. 3.
  6. ^ E.g., Barnes 1995, pp. 18–22.
  7. ^ Strabo. Historical Sketches. Vol. XIII.
  8. ^ a b c d e Aristotle (1885). "On the Nicomachean Ethics, in relation to the other Ethical Writings included among the Works of Aristotle". In Grant, Alexander (ed.). The Ethics of Aristotle, Illustrated with Essays and Notes. Vol. 1 (4th ed.). Longmans, Green & Co.
  9. ^ Porphyry. The Life of Plotinus. 24.
  10. ^ Laërtius, Diogenes. "V. Aristotle". The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ D. S. Hutchinson & Monte Ransome Johnson (25 January 2015). "New Reconstruction, includes Greek text".


Works cited
  • Barnes, Jonathan (1995). "Life and Work". The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle.
  • Lynch, John Patrick (1972). Aristotle's School: a Study of a Greek Educational Institution. University of California Press.
  • Novak, Joseph A. (2001). "Abduction and Aristotle's Library" (PDF). Scholarship at Uwindsor.
  • Watson, Walter (2012). The Lost Second Book of Aristotle's Poetics. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226875101.

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