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Works by Aristotle
Pages of Poetics

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subject of his poem, though that war had a beginning and an end. It

would have been too vast a theme, and not easily embraced in a

single view. If, again, he had kept it within moderate limits, it must

have been over-complicated by the variety of the incidents. As it

is, he detaches a single portion, and admits as episodes many events

from the general story of the war- such as the Catalogue of the

ships and others- thus diversifying the poem. All other poets take a

single hero, a single period, or an action single indeed, but with a

multiplicity of parts. Thus did the author of the Cypria and of the

Little Iliad. For this reason the Iliad and the Odyssey each furnish

the subject of one tragedy, or, at most, of two; while the Cypria

supplies materials for many, and the Little Iliad for eight- the Award

of the Arms, the Philoctetes, the Neoptolemus, the Eurypylus, the

Mendicant Odysseus, the Laconian Women, the Fall of Ilium, the

Departure of the Fleet.



Again, Epic poetry must have as many kinds as Tragedy: it must be

simple, or complex, or 'ethical,'or 'pathetic.' The parts also, with

the exception of song and spectacle, are the same; for it requires

Reversals of the Situation, Recognitions, and Scenes of Suffering.

Moreover, the thoughts and the diction must be artistic. In all

these respects Homer is our earliest and sufficient model. Indeed each

of his poems has a twofold character. The Iliad is at once simple

and 'pathetic,' and the Odyssey complex (for Recognition scenes run

through it), and at the same time 'ethical.' Moreover, in diction

and thought they are supreme.

Epic poetry differs from Tragedy in the scale on which it is

constructed, and in its meter. As regards scale or length, we have

already laid down an adequate limit: the beginning and the end must be

capable of being brought within a single view. This condition will

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