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About the Author
Purpose In Writing “Poetics”
384 BC - 322 BC
Aristotle was a Greek
philosopher who made
important contributions by
systemizing deductive logic
and wrote on physical
subjects. His philosophy had a
long-lasting influence on the
development of all Western
The greatest universal genius of
the ancient world, who studied and
wrote on just about everything from
metaphysics to botany, was also the
founder of literary criticism. His
Poetics is the most important work
of literary which has survived the
ancient world and the most
influential of all his works.
1. To give advice on writing tragedy to
2. To answer the objections of dramatic
poetry expressed by his teacher Plato in
3. To explain why effective poetry has
stayed with audiences for so long.
POETICS is an attempt to explain the
basic problems of art. The Poetics stands
in opposition to the theory of art
propounded by Plato in his Republic. It is
the earliest-surviving work of dramatic
theory (primarily focused on drama). His
original work was divided into two
parts, each book was written in separate
papyrus. Only the 1st part which focuses on
tragedy survives. The lost 2nd part was
focused on comedy.
Mimesis – imitation or representation
Catharsis – clarification
Peripeteia – reversal
Anagnorisis – identification
Hamartia – miscalculation
Mythos – plot
Ethos – character
Dianoia – theme
Lexis – diction
Melos – melody
Opsis - spectacle
poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambi
c poetry, & instrumental music are
all modes of imitation but they
differ in medium, objects, & manner
In arts, imitation is produced by
rhythm, language, and/or harmony.
Men are depicted in imitation as
either better than, worse than, or
the same as they are in real life.
Comedy represents men as
worse, tragedy as better.
Poets may narrate in 1st or 3rd
person or present the characters as
living and moving before us
Dramas are poetry representing
Man’s 2 instincts that gave birth
to poetry: instinct of imitation and
instinct of harmony and rhythm.
Greater plots, stately diction and
iambic measure were adopted.
Comedy imitates the ludicrous-
some defect or ugliness which is not
painful or destructive.
Comedy does not have as well
known of a history as tragedy.
Tragedy imitates action that is
serious, complete & of certain
magnitude in artistically embellished
The 6 parts of tragedy are
plot, character, thought, diction, song
, and spectacle, in that order of
A plot must be whole and neither
begin nor end in haphazard.
A plot must be great enough in
magnitude to be beautiful but not so
long that it cannot be remembered in
The plot should imitate one action
with structural union of the parts.
Incidents whose presence or
absence makes no difference need
not be included.
Poetry relates not what has
happened but what may happen
according to the law of probability or
Poetry tends to express the
universal, history in particular.
Plots are either simple or
Complex plots have a change of
fortune with a reversal of the
Reversal of the situation is when
the action veers round to its
opposite. Recognition, a change
from ignorance to knowledge.
The plot includes a scene of
suffering, a destructive or painful
The parts of tragedy are:
Prologue, Episode, Exode, and
A perfect tragedy should be
complex, have a single issue and
excite pity of fear.
The change of fortune should be
from good to bad due to error or
Superior plots arouse fear and
pity by their inner structure rather
than by spectacle and extraneous
Tragic deeds can be done or not
done, wittingly or unwittingly.
Character should aim at
goodness, propriety, trueness to
life, and consistency.
The poet should follow the
necessary or the probable limits.
Recognition comes about by
signs, the will of the poet, memory
when the sight of some object
awakens a feeling by process of
The last way is superior.
The poet should try to place the
scene before his eyes as if he were a
spectator of the action.
The poet should first sketch the
general outline of the story then fill
in the episodes in details.
The 2 parts of a tragedy are the
Complication w/c extends from the
beginning to the turning point &
Denouement which extends from the
beginning of the change to the end.
The poet should not attempt to
make an epic structure with
Thought includes every effect
produced by speech such as proof ad
Thought also includes dramatic
incidents that need no verbal
The general parts of language
are: Letter, Syllable, Connecting
word, Noun, Verb, Sentence or
Simple words are composed of
non-significant elements and
compound words are composed of a
significant and non-significant or
multiple significant events.
Words are current, strange
(foreign), metaphorical, ornamental, n
ewly-coined, lengthened, contracted
Perfect style is clear without
being mean. Style consisting
wholly of metaphors is riddle;
style consisting wholly of strange
words is jargon.
Narrative poetic imitation is
single meter should have a plot
constructed on dramatic
principles with a single, whole
and complete action.
Epic poetry has the same
kinds and parts as tragedy, but
epic poetry is on a greater scale
and uses heroic meter.
The poet should speak as himself as
little as possible.
Poets imitate either things as
they were or are, things as they
are said or thought to be, or
things as they ought to be.
Language usage should be
Epic poetry is addressed to a
cultivated audience and tragedy to
an inferior public.
It includes music, spectacular
effects, vividness in reading as well as in
representation, pleasurable narrower
limits & unity
One of the most
powerful, perceptive and influential
works of criticism in Western literary
history, the Poetics has informed
serious thinking about drama ever
One of his least talked about or
popular works among his corpus.
It seemed to be full of “should’s”
and the latter came across as though
there is a single answer to every
possible question, even about what
makes poetry good.
Aristotle says that the exercise of
any capacity brings pleasure.
Even art cannot escape Aristotle’s
categorical dissection. Like an
entomologist pulling apart the wings
of a butterfly to see its beauty.
Aristotle approached poetry with
the same scientific method with
which he treats physics and biology.
Poetics is one of those books that
makes you admire the author while
you want to strangle him. This work is
Here is a rudimentary tablet of
knowledge by one of the greats. First
off, we are still eager to explore
poetics that are in this aged article so
The information in this novel will
not only force the readers to look at
the world differently, but it also
educates them in the ways of
Aristotle discusses the issues in
craft involved in poetics or what is I
like to think of a storytelling.
Although this is quite possibly a
useful book, it was dry and boring, I
don’t feel that I got much of
it, though I’m sure if I went to reread
it, I might find useful stuffs.
Poetics is to writers as what
bedrock is to architects.
I won’t say this is the best book on
literary theory I have read, but it may
be the most straightforward.