Aristotle. The Poetics of Aristotle.
Table of Contents:
- I 'Imitation' the common principle of the Arts of Poetry.
- II The Objects of Imitation.
- III The Manner of Imitation.
- IV The Origin and Development of Poetry.
- V Definition of the Ludicrous, and a brief sketch of the rise of Comedy.
- VI Definition of Tragedy.
- VII The Plot must be a Whole.
- VIII The Plot must be a Unity.
- IX (Plot continued.) Dramatic Unity.
- X (Plot continued.) Definitions of Simple and Complex Plots.
- XI (Plot continued.) Reversal of the Situation, Recognition, and Tragic or disastrous Incident defin
- XII The 'quantitative parts' of Tragedy defined.
- XIII (Plot continued.) What constitutes Tragic Action.
- XIV (Plot continued.) The tragic emotions of pity and fear should spring out of the Plot itself.
- XV The element of Character in Tragedy.
- XVI (Plot continued.) Recognition: its various kinds, with examples.
- XVII Practical rules for the Tragic Poet.
- XVIII Further rules for the Tragic Poet.
- XIX Thought, or the Intellectual element, and Diction in Tragedy.
- XX Diction, or Language in general.
- XXI Poetic Diction.
- XXII (Poetic Diction continued.) How Poetry combines elevation of language with perspicuity.
- XXIII Epic Poetry.
- XXIV (Epic Poetry continued.) Further points of agreement with Tragedy.
- XXV Critical Objections brought against Poetry, and the principles on which they are to be answered.
- XXVI A general estimate of the comparative worth of Epic Poetry and Tragedy.
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 the poet for good or bad fortune. The best form of recognition is coincident with a Reversal of the Situation, as in the Oedipus. There are indeed other forms. Even inanimate things of the most trivial kind may in a sense be objects of recognition. Again, we may recognise or discover whether a person has done a thing or not. But the recognition which is most intimately connected with the plot and action is, as we have said, the recognition of persons. This recognition, combined, with Reversal, will produce either pity or fear; and actions producing these effects are those which, by our definition, Tragedy represents. Moreover, it is upon such situations that the issues of good or bad fortune will depend. Recognition, then, being between persons, it may happen that one person only is recognised by the other-when the latter is already known—or it may be necessary that the recognition should be on both sides. Thus Iphigenia is revealed to Orestes by the sending of the letter; but another act of recognition is required to make Orestes known to Iphigenia.
Two parts, then, of the Plot—Reversal of the Situation and Recognition—turn upon surprises. A third part is the Scene of Suffering. The Scene of Suffering is a destructive or painful action, such as death on the stage, bodily agony, wounds and the like.