Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Poetics

Previous | Next


rhythm, 'harmony' and song enter. By 'the several kinds in separate

parts,' I mean, that some parts are rendered through the medium of

verse alone, others again with the aid of song.

Now as tragic imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily

follows in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a

part of Tragedy. Next, Song and Diction, for these are the media of

imitation. By 'Diction' I mean the mere metrical arrangement of the

words: as for 'Song,' it is a term whose sense every one understands.

Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action

implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive

qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we

qualify actions themselves, and these- thought and character- are

the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again

all success or failure depends. Hence, the Plot is the imitation of

the action- for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the

incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe

certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever a

statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated.

Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine

its quality- namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle,

Song. Two of the parts constitute the medium of imitation, one the

manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the

fist. These elements have been employed, we may say, by the poets to a

man; in fact, every play contains Spectacular elements as well as

Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought.

But most important of all is the structure of the incidents. For

Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and

life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a

quality. Now character determines men's qualities, but it is by

their actions that they are happy or the reverse. Dramatic action,

therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character:

character comes in as subsidiary to the actions. Hence the incidents

Previous | Next
Site Search