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  • Elizabeth C. Shaw, Staff* and Mor Segev
ARISTOTLE. Parva Naturalia with On the Motion of Animals. Translated by David Bolotin. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2021. xii + 248 pp. $45.00

This volume offers a translation of Aristotle's Parva Naturalia (PN) alongside De motu animalium (MA). Bolotin mainly uses Biehl's Teubner edition of Sens. and Mem., Muginer's Budé edition of the rest of the PN, and Louis's Budé edition of MA, but he pays attention to, and occasionally adopts, readings based on other editions. Deviations from the editions primarily used are often motivated by faithfulness to the manuscripts. Perhaps the greatest merit of Bolotin's numerous footnotes is that they routinely alert the reader to manuscript variants and editorial emendations, and to the differences in translation that might result from these. The footnotes also provide cross-references and explanations of Greek words, as well as Bolotin's interpretive stance on various issues. The translation itself aims at literalness, bracketing supplementations to the Greek and frequently adding parentheses transliterating key terms and difficult phrases. In places, Bolotin uses the same translation for different Greek words or translates occurrences of the same Greek word differently (thus, he uses "thought" for dianoia, doxa, and nous, and at times renders dianoia and nous also as "intellect"). These decisions are often (though not always) supplemented with transliterations in parentheses and/or explanatory footnotes. But even where a clarification is provided, it still would have been preferable for the choice of words in the translation to correspond more closely to the Greek.

To better evaluate Bolotin's translation, let us compare Mem. 453a14–18 as it appears both there and in David Bloch's translation (Leiden, 2007):


"A sign that the pathos is bodily and that recollection is a search for an appearance in something of that sort [that is, in something bodily,] is that it causes some people much annoyance when they are unable to recollect, even after directing their thought very much [toward doing so], and when they are no longer attempting [to], they recollect none the less."


"Now, that the affection is something corporeal, and that recollection is a search for an image in something of a corporeal type, [End Page 587] is proved by the fact that some people are bothered when they cannot recollect, even though they focus their thought extremely hard, and are still bothered even when they are no longer trying to recollect."

Bolotin's "the pathos is bodily" reflects Biehl's text (esti sōmatikon to pathos), without indicating alternatives (Bloch's edition has sōmatikon ti to pathos). The square brackets in Bolotin's translation helpfully indicate what is inexplicit in Aristotle's text. The renditions of sēmeion as "[a] sign" and of parenochlein as "causes … much annoyance" are both in keeping with Bolotin's general aim at literalness and seem preferable to Bloch's respective choices. Bolotin merely transliterates pathos (Bloch: "affection"), here and elsewhere, arguing that it has "no adequate English equivalent." But since controversy rages over the proper translation of phantasma (Bolotin: "appearance"; Bloch: "image"), it would have been reasonable to leave it untranslated as well, or at least to allude to the controversy in a footnote (elsewhere in his translation, Bolotin does often transliterate phantasma and its cognate phantasia in parentheses). Finally, whereas Bolotin's reading of ouden hētton at 453a18 as indicating continued recollection has the merit of corresponding directly to the subsequent point about involuntary recollection (453a20–3), Bloch's understanding of it as indicating the persisting irritation after a failure to recollect plausibly produces an argument for the bodily involvement in recollection based not on the occurrence of involuntary recollection (without further explanation) but, rather, on a distinctly psychophysiological occurrence associated with recollection (see the comment on this part of the text in G. R. T. Ross's commentary [Cambridge, 1906]). Both readings are possible and have had their proponents. But, given the main goals of Bolotin's translation and the scope of his footnotes, it would have been useful for him to present the alternative reading here, and indeed to do so more frequently elsewhere. This could have...