How does one explain the remarkable resilience of the notion of mimesis in the face of frequently severe criticism, starting with Plato’s “Politeia”? How could a term, whose theoretical career begins with its dismissal, survive for more than two millennia? This article starts off from Hegel’s radical rejection of imitation as a basic principle of art. However, despite such fundamental disapproval, even in literary theory of the 20th century, mimesis continues to play an important role. It looks as if both phenomena – the at times profound criticism of mimesis as well as its remarkable resistance to this criticism – can be explained by going back to the origin of the concept in Ancient Greek philosophy and by reconstructing its transformation in modern times.