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Poetics   


morally hurtful, or contradictory, or contrary to artistic

correctness. The answers should be sought under the twelve heads above

mentioned.

POETICS|26

XXVI




The question may be raised whether the Epic or Tragic mode of

imitation is the higher. If the more refined art is the higher, and

the more refined in every case is that which appeals to the better

sort of audience, the art which imitates anything and everything is

manifestly most unrefined. The audience is supposed to be too dull

to comprehend unless something of their own is thrown by the

performers, who therefore indulge in restless movements. Bad

flute-players twist and twirl, if they have to represent 'the

quoit-throw,' or hustle the coryphaeus when they perform the Scylla.

Tragedy, it is said, has this same defect. We may compare the

opinion that the older actors entertained of their successors.

Mynniscus used to call Callippides 'ape' on account of the

extravagance of his action, and the same view was held of Pindarus.

Tragic art, then, as a whole, stands to Epic in the same relation as

the younger to the elder actors. So we are told that Epic poetry is

addressed to a cultivated audience, who do not need gesture;

Tragedy, to an inferior public. Being then unrefined, it is

evidently the lower of the two.

Now, in the first place, this censure attaches not to the poetic but

to the histrionic art; for gesticulation may be equally overdone in

epic recitation, as by Sosistratus, or in lyrical competition, as by

Mnasitheus the Opuntian. Next, all action is not to be condemned-

any more than all dancing- but only that of bad performers. Such was

the fault found in Callippides, as also in others of our own day,

who are censured for representing degraded women. Again, Tragedy

like Epic poetry produces its effect even without action; it reveals

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