I PROPOSE to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds,
noting the essential quality of each, to inquire into the structure of
the plot as requisite to a good poem; into the number and nature of
the parts of which a poem is composed; and similarly into whatever
else falls within the same inquiry. Following, then, the order of
nature, let us begin with the principles which come first.
Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic poetry, and the
music of the flute and of the lyre in most of their forms, are all
in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ,
however, from one another in three respects- the medium, the
objects, the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.
For as there are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit,
imitate and represent various objects through the medium of color
and form, or again by the voice; so in the arts above mentioned, taken
as a whole, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or
'harmony,' either singly or combined.
Thus in the music of the flute and of the lyre, 'harmony' and rhythm
alone are employed; also in other arts, such as that of the shepherd's
pipe, which are essentially similar to these. In dancing, rhythm alone
is used without 'harmony'; for even dancing imitates character,
emotion, and action, by rhythmical movement.
There is another art which imitates by means of language alone,
and that either in prose or verse- which verse, again, may either
combine different meters or consist of but one kind- but this has
hitherto been without a name. For there is no common term we could
apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus and the Socratic dialogues
on the one hand; and, on the other, to poetic imitations in iambic,
elegiac, or any similar meter. People do, indeed, add the word 'maker'