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Pages of Poetics

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subsequent events, which lie beyond the range of human knowledge,

and which require to be reported or foretold; for to the gods we

ascribe the power of seeing all things. Within the action there must

be nothing irrational. If the irrational cannot be excluded, it should

be outside the scope of the tragedy. Such is the irrational element

the Oedipus of Sophocles.

Again, since Tragedy is an imitation of persons who are above the

common level, the example of good portrait painters should be

followed. They, while reproducing the distinctive form of the

original, make a likeness which is true to life and yet more

beautiful. So too the poet, in representing men who are irascible or

indolent, or have other defects of character, should preserve the type

and yet ennoble it. In this way Achilles is portrayed by Agathon and


These then are rules the poet should observe. Nor should he

neglect those appeals to the senses, which, though not among the

essentials, are the concomitants of poetry; for here too there is much

room for error. But of this enough has been said in our published




What Recognition is has been already explained. We will now

enumerate its kinds.

First, the least artistic form, which, from poverty of wit, is

most commonly employed- recognition by signs. Of these some are

congenital- such as 'the spear which the earth-born race bear on their

bodies,' or the stars introduced by Carcinus in his Thyestes. Others

are acquired after birth; and of these some are bodily marks, as

scars; some external tokens, as necklaces, or the little ark in the

Tyro by which the discovery is effected. Even these admit of more or

less skilful treatment. Thus in the recognition of Odysseus by his

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