This essay explores a nexus of related concepts—authorship, authenticity, and authority—as they impinge upon one another and on the experience of reading, particularly in the case of “canonical” authors such as Aristotle. Aristotle’s own Rhetoric and Poetics are considered together in light of these concepts, as well as in terms of seven constraints that operated upon Aristotle as a thinker and writer. Twentieth-century theories of reading are adduced in an examination of the rhetorical dimensions of Aristotle’s own notion of authorship. The essay also examines the rhetorical forces entailed in the editing and publication of authors known only from ancient manuscripts, and in the reading of legal and sacred texts.

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