Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Aristotle: Citing Aristotle

A Gumberg Library research guide

Citing Aristotle Using Bekker Numbers

In citing works by Aristotle scholars traditionally use a number system developed especially for this known as Bekker Numbers. Below are some articles that describe Bekker Numbers and how to use them.

"How to Cite Aristotle"

This is probably the best quick explanation

Note: While the page and column parts of the Bekker number are easy to arrive at (in fact, they are probably given in the left margin of the edition you are reading), determining line numbers from an English translation are not. Determining line numbers is tricky unless you have the Bekker edition (see below), know Greek, and want to refer directly to the Greek.

Greek and English differ enough that an intelligible translation won’t necessarily put the parts of a sentence in the same order they had in the Greek, nor will the phrases always be of comparable length.  Add in the fact that editions and translations use various page dimensions and type sizes, and the result is that there’s usually some approximation when you say that a passage begins and ends on particular lines in your translation.

Thanks to Dr. Therese Bonin, Philosophy Dept., Duquesne University, for this explanation


Bekker Edition of Aristotle's Works

Just in case you are a curious overachiever, directly below are links to each of the five volumes of the Bekker edition of Aristotle's Works. Of course, it is in Greek. If you can read it, you are probably already a scholar dealing with ancient texts and do not need this guide!

Volume 1     Volume 2     Volume 3     Volume 4     Volume 5

More on Citation

There are numerous formats that can be used to cite sources. Three of the most commonly used formats at Duquesne are:

  • APA - Created by the American Psychological Association, it is mainly used in Psychology and some of the other Social Sciences, as well as Nursing. The current version is the 6th edition.
  • Chicago Manual of Style - Used in many disciplines. The current version is the 17th edition.
  • MLA - Created by the Modern Language Association, it is mainly used in English and may be used in some of the other Humanities. The current version is the 8th edition.

When we speak of citing, two things are meant. The first is citing within the text of a paper, either by using parenthetical references, or footnotes. The second is providing complete bibliographic information for your sources in a bibliography (also known as a Works Cited page or Reference List).

The Duquesne University Writing Center has created very helpful guides to assist you with citing in-text and in bibliographies in MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style and MLA. PDFs of these documents are available below.

 APA (6th edition)In-text and Reference List

Chicago, notes and bibliography (17th edition)In-text and Bibliography

Chicago, author-date (17th edition)In-text and Bibliography

MLA (8th): In-text and Works Cited and Formatting

Paraphrasing and Summarizing

In writing papers, you will often want to use exact quotes, especially when you cannot improve upon an author's original way of stating an idea. In those instances, of course, you should use the exact quotation, correctly citing it as the work of someone else.

But a paper cannot be written by simply stringing together exact quotations from a number of authors. More often than not, in writing you will do more stating the ideas of others in your own words, that is you will paraphase or summarize those ideas of other people.

Paraphrases and summaries of other people's ideas must also be cited, or you will be charged with plarigaism. Plagiarism is not just the using of other people's exact words without giving them credit, but also using their uniques ideas without citing them as the source. Because correct paraphrasing and summarizing can often be confusing to students, the Duquesne University Writing Center has created a handout on these topics. To see a PDF of it, click on the link below.

Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Quoting

Common Knowledge: The Things That Don't Have to be Cited

Surprisingly, not everything has to be cited. For example, a statement like "George Washington is known as the 'Father of His Country'" would not need to be cited because this is a general idea in the culture that most people are aware of. These sorts of information are called "common knowledge."

Another way to express this is, if three to five reference works all say the same thing about a topic, then that idea is common knowledge. It is not the intellectual property of any one individual, and, therefore, does not need to be cited. If you ever have questions on whether a statement is common knowledge, Ask a Librarian, talk to your professor, or contact the Duquesne University Writing Center.

Bust of Aristotle. Photo by Eric Gaba. Wikimedia Commons

Style Databases

To use these databases off-campus, you will need to enter your Multipass username and password when you click on the link.

Style Research Guides

Visit the Purdue Owl