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Pages of Poetics

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turn developed. Having passed through many changes, it found its

natural form, and there it stopped.

Aeschylus first introduced a second actor; he diminished the

importance of the Chorus, and assigned the leading part to the

dialogue. Sophocles raised the number of actors to three, and added

scene-painting. Moreover, it was not till late that the short plot was

discarded for one of greater compass, and the grotesque diction of the

earlier satyric form for the stately manner of Tragedy. The iambic

measure then replaced the trochaic tetrameter, which was originally

employed when the poetry was of the satyric order, and had greater

with dancing. Once dialogue had come in, Nature herself discovered the

appropriate measure. For the iambic is, of all measures, the most

colloquial we see it in the fact that conversational speech runs

into iambic lines more frequently than into any other kind of verse;

rarely into hexameters, and only when we drop the colloquial

intonation. The additions to the number of 'episodes' or acts, and the

other accessories of which tradition tells, must be taken as already

described; for to discuss them in detail would, doubtless, be a

large undertaking.



Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower

type- not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous

being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect

or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious

example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply


The successive changes through which Tragedy passed, and the authors

of these changes, are well known, whereas Comedy has had no history,

because it was not at first treated seriously. It was late before

the Archon granted a comic chorus to a poet; the performers were

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