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Pages of Poetics

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Magnes, belonged to that country. Tragedy too is claimed by certain

Dorians of the Peloponnese. In each case they appeal to the evidence

of language. The outlying villages, they say, are by them called

komai, by the Athenians demoi: and they assume that comedians were

so named not from komazein, 'to revel,' but because they wandered from

village to village (kata komas), being excluded contemptuously from

the city. They add also that the Dorian word for 'doing' is dran,

and the Athenian, prattein.

This may suffice as to the number and nature of the various modes of




Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them

lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is

implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and

other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures,

and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less

universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of

this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view

with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute

fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead

bodies. The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the

liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general;

whose capacity, however, of learning is more limited. Thus the

reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is, that in contemplating it

they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, 'Ah,

that is he.' For if you happen not to have seen the original, the

pleasure will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the

execution, the coloring, or some such other cause.

Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next, there is the

instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of

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