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Works by Aristotle
Pages of Poetics

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recognition by this means- the expectation that A would recognize

the bow- is false inference.

But, of all recognitions, the best is that which arises from the

incidents themselves, where the startling discovery is made by natural

means. Such is that in the Oedipus of Sophocles, and in the Iphigenia;

for it was natural that Iphigenia should wish to dispatch a letter.

These recognitions alone dispense with the artificial aid of tokens or

amulets. Next come the recognitions by process of reasoning.



In constructing the plot and working it out with the proper diction,

the poet should place the scene, as far as possible, before his

eyes. In this way, seeing everything with the utmost vividness, as

if he were a spectator of the action, he will discover what is in

keeping with it, and be most unlikely to overlook inconsistencies. The

need of such a rule is shown by the fault found in Carcinus.

Amphiaraus was on his way from the temple. This fact escaped the

observation of one who did not see the situation. On the stage,

however, the Piece failed, the audience being offended at the


Again, the poet should work out his play, to the best of his

power, with appropriate gestures; for those who feel emotion are

most convincing through natural sympathy with the characters they

represent; and one who is agitated storms, one who is angry rages,

with the most lifelike reality. Hence poetry implies either a happy

gift of nature or a strain of madness. In the one case a man can

take the mould of any character; in the other, he is lifted out of his

proper self.

As for the story, whether the poet takes it ready made or constructs

it for himself, he should first sketch its general outline, and then

fill in the episodes and amplify in detail. The general plan may be

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