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Works by Aristotle
Pages of Poetics

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when they have an air of design. We may instance the statue of Mitys

at Argos, which fell upon his murderer while he was a spectator at a

festival, and killed him. Such events seem not to be due to mere

chance. Plots, therefore, constructed on these principles are

necessarily the best.



Plots are either Simple or Complex, for the actions in real life, of

which the plots are an imitation, obviously show a similar

distinction. An action which is one and continuous in the sense

above defined, I call Simple, when the change of fortune takes place

without Reversal of the Situation and without Recognition

A Complex action is one in which the change is accompanied by such

Reversal, or by Recognition, or by both. These last should arise

from the internal structure of the plot, so that what follows should

be the necessary or probable result of the preceding action. It

makes all the difference whether any given event is a case of

propter hoc or post hoc.



Reversal of the Situation is a change by which the action veers

round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or

necessity. Thus in the Oedipus, the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus

and free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he

is, he produces the opposite effect. Again in the Lynceus, Lynceus

is being led away to his death, and Danaus goes with him, meaning to

slay him; but the outcome of the preceding incidents is that Danaus is

killed and Lynceus saved.

Recognition, as the name indicates, is a change from ignorance to

knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by

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