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Aristotle: Poetics

January 8th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Poetics: Principles of the Tragic Plot

Again, repeating, tragedy is an imitation of an action which is complete and whole and has some magnitude. "Whole" is that which has beginning, middle, and end. 30

So, then, well-constructed plots should neither begin nor end at any chance point but follow the guidelines just laid down.

A poetic imitation, then, ought to be unified in the same way as a single imitation in any other mimetic field, by having a single object: since the plot is an imitation of an action, the latter ought to be both unified and complete. 32

On adding or removing scenes and their importance to the whole work: "for an element whose addition or subtraction makes no perceptible extra difference is not really a part of the whole." 32

"the poet’s job is not to report what has happened but what is likely to happen: the difference lies in the fact that the historian speaks of what has happened, the poet of the kind of thing that can happen:poetry speaks more of universals, history of particulars."

Our comic poets construct their plots on the basis of general probabilities and then assign names to the persons quite arbitrarily, instead of dealing with individuals as the old iambic poets did." 33

So from these considerations it is evident that the poet should be a maker of his plots more than of his verses, insofar as he is a poet by virtue of his imitations and what he imitates is actions." 34

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