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ARISTOTLE’S
POETICS
MANN RENTOY
Born in 384 BC
Died 322 BC.
Aristotle entered the
Academy but left when
Plato died
MENTOR of Alexander
the Great
School in Athens, the
Lyceaum, was founded
in 335 BC.
Responsible for the
first systematic work of
literary criticism.
Aristotle (c. 384-322 B.C.E. )
• Founder of literary criticism
• Dante called him “the master of those who
know”
• Plato r...
physics, biology, zoology,
metaphysics, logic,
ethics, aesthetics, poetry,
theater, music, rhetoric,
linguistics, politics...
Aristotle’s
‘The Poetics’
Introductory remarks on poetry
and its classification.
Tragedy.
Poetic diction.
Narrative poetry and Tragedy .
Epic i...
Twenty-six
chapters.
a kind of covert
reply to his great
master.
a systematic
exposition of the
theory and
practice of
poe...
Differences between Aristotle and
Plato
Plato considered
imitation merely
as mimicry or a
servile copy of
nature.
Plato ...
Differences between Aristotle and Plato
 Poetry presents a copy of
nature as it is. Poetry is
twice removed from reality
...
Overall Summary of “Poetics”
He defines poetry
as a means of mimesis, or imitation
by means of language, rhythm, and
harmony
TRAGEDY
Dionysus, Thousands, Thirty-Three
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides
Tragedy serves to arouse the
emotions of pity and fear and to
effect a katharsis
(catharsis) of these emotions
six different parts of TRAGEDY:
(1) mythos, or plot,
(2) character,
(3) thought,
(4) diction,
(5) melody, and
(6) spectacl...
first essential to creating a good
tragedy is that it should
maintain unity of plot
The plot can also be enhanced by
an intelligent use of
peripeteia, or reversal, and
anagnorisis, or recognition
The misery should be the result
of some hamartia, or
error, on the part of the hero.
Aristotle discusses thought and
diction and then moves on to
address epic poetry
After addressing some
problems of criticism, Aristotle
argues that tragedy is superior
to epic poetry.
IMPORTANT TERMS of Aristotle
Hamartia - the word translates almost
directly as "error," though it is often
rendered more elaborately as "tragic flaw."
...
Anagnorisis - "recognition" or
"discovery."
That moment when the hero, or some other
character, passes from ignorance to
k...
Mythos -
usually translated as "plot," but unlike
"plot," mythos can be applied to all works of
art.
Not so much a matter ...
The overall message or impression that we
come away with is what is conveyed to us by
the mythosof a piece.
Katharsis - This word was normally
used in ancient Greece by doctors to mean
"purgation" or by priests to mean
"purificati...
Peripeteia - A reversal, either from
good to bad or bad to good. Peripeteia often
occurs at the climax of a story, often
p...
Lusis - Literally "untying," the
lusis is all the action in a tragedy
from the climax onward. All the
plot threads that ha...
Desis - Literally "tying," the desis
is all the action in a tragedy leading
up to the climax.
- threads craftily woven tog...
Aristotle’s
‘The Poetics’
“scientific study of the
constituent parts of poetry and
drawing conclusions from those
observations”
He lists the different
kinds of poetry: epic
poetry, tragedy, comedy,
dithyrambic poetry, and
most flute-playing and
lyre-...
Next, he classifies all of
these kinds of poetry
as mimetic, or
imitative, but that there
are significant
differences betw...
Mimesis
the act of creating in
someone's mind, through
artistic representation, an idea
or ideas that the person will
asso...
How can we differentiate the tragedy
from other poetic forms?
Manner
Of
imitation
objects
medium
first kind of distinction is the
means or medium they
employ. Just as a painter
employs paint and a sculptor
employs stone...
The second distinction is the
objects that are imitated. All
poetry represents actions with
agents who are either better
t...
tragedy and epic poetry:
characters are better than us
comedy and parody:
characters are worse than us.
The third distinction is with the
manner of representation: the
poet either speaks directly in
narrative or assumes the
ch...
Objects, Manner, and Medium of
Imitation in Tragedy
Objects
Serious
action
manner
Represent
through
action
medium
Verse in...
We are by nature imitative
creatures that learn and excel by
imitating others, and we naturally
take delight in works of i...
* we learn by examining
representations and imitations of things
* learning is one of the greatest
pleasures there is
* Rh...
Tragedy and comedy are later
developments that are the
grandest representation of their
respective traditions:
** tragedy ...
Four innovations in the
development from improvised
dithyrambs toward the tragedies
of his day.
Dithyrambs were sung in honor of
Dionysus, god of wine, by a chorus
of around fifty men and boys,
often accompanied by a n...
1st Innovation:
Aeschylus reduced the number of
the chorus and introduced a
second actor on stage, which made
dialogue the...
2nd Innovation:
Sophocles added a third actor
and also introduced
background scenery.
3rd Innovation:
Tragedy developed an air of
seriousness, and the meter
changed from a trochaic rhythm,
which is more suita...
4th Innovation:
Tragedy developed a plurality of
episodes, or acts.
tragedy and epic poetry:
characters are better than us
comedy and parody:
characters are worse than us.
comedy deals with the ridiculous
which he defines as a kind of
ugliness that does no harm to
anybody else.
very sketchy ac...
Tragedy and epic poetry deal with
lofty subjects in a grand style of
verse
Three significant differences:
First, tragedy i...
Second, the action of a
tragedy is usually confined to a
single day, and so the tragedy
itself is usually much shorter
tha...
Third, while tragedy has all
the elements that are
characteristic of epic poetry, it
also has some additional
elements tha...
Aristotle now narrows his
focus to examine tragedy
exclusively. In order to do so,
he provides a definition of
tragedy tha...
(1) it involves mimesis;
(2) it is serious;
(3) the action is complete and
with magnitude;
(4) it is made up of language
w...
(5) these "pleasurable
accessories" are not used
uniformly throughout, but are
introduced in separate parts of
the work, s...
(6) it is performed rather than
narrated; and
(7) it arouses the emotions of
pity and fear and accomplishes
a katharsis (p...
Definition of Tragedy
Action must be complete
Beginning
Middle
End
Completeness:-
Unity of Action:(Probability and
Necessity)
There must be a
causal connection
between the
various events and
incidents.
Th...
Imitation of an action, serious, complete
and of a certain magnitude…….
It must be long enough to permit
an orderly develo...
And another important word is
embellishment:-
Verse and song beautify
and decorate and give
pleasure, but Aristotle does
n...
Diction and Style
Diction is the choice and arrangement of words and
images in a literary composition.
Six types of words
...
Songs is the pleasurable addition to a
play. In a tragedy, song is provided by
the Chorus. The quantitative sections of
tr...
About Catharsis:-
#In the Poetics, while defining tragedy,
Aristotle writes that the function of
tragedy is to arouse the ...
Having examined the definition, nature and function
of ‘Tragedy, Aristotle comes to its formative parts.
Six formative
ele...
Two kinds of Plots: simple and complex
 Simple:
 Plot is simple when the
change in the fortunes of
the hero takes place
...
Complex plots are those which have Peripety
and Anagnorisis or Discovery or Recognition
 Peripeteia :
 Peripeteia means ...
Characterization:-
Showing a perfectly
good man passing
from happiness to
misery
Such kind of plot
will not inspire pity
a...
Further Traits of Characters:-
The
characters
must be good
They must be
appropriate
They must
have likeness
They must
have...
The Ideal Tragic Hero:-
He should neither be
perfectly good not
utterly bad .
He should be a man
neither of a blameless
ch...
“Hamartia”
Ignorance Hasty or careless
view
Decision taken
voluntarily
Oedipus Othello Hamlet
It may be accompanied by nor...
The Dramatic Unities
Unity of Time
#Comparing the Epic and the
Tragedy:-
“Tragedy tries as far as
possible, to live within...
Unity of Place
Aristotle only mentions
when comparing the epic
and the tragedy, that the
epic can narrate a number
of acti...
Unity of Action
Tight plot – not episodic; events
have the logical connectedness
 Unity of plot in epic.
 Contrast between epic and tragedy.
 Superiority of tragedy over epic.
 Tragedy is possible wi...
Types of Tragedy
• Complex tragedy
It consists of reversal and recognition of truth.
• Tragedy of suffering
Tragedy depict...
Types of Recognition
Anagnorisis (discovery or recognition of truth)
• Signs or objects, symbols
• Author tells himself
• ...
Superiority of Tragedy over Epic
• It has all the elements of an epic and has also
spectacle and song which the epic lacks...
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics
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Aristotle's Poetics

Mann Rentoy
Report for UST PhD in Literature
www.mannrentoy.com
info@manrentoy.com

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Aristotle's Poetics

  1. 1. ARISTOTLE’S POETICS MANN RENTOY
  2. 2. Born in 384 BC Died 322 BC. Aristotle entered the Academy but left when Plato died MENTOR of Alexander the Great
  3. 3. School in Athens, the Lyceaum, was founded in 335 BC.
  4. 4. Responsible for the first systematic work of literary criticism.
  5. 5. Aristotle (c. 384-322 B.C.E. ) • Founder of literary criticism • Dante called him “the master of those who know” • Plato referred to Aristotle as “the mind’’
  6. 6. physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government
  7. 7. Aristotle’s ‘The Poetics’
  8. 8. Introductory remarks on poetry and its classification. Tragedy. Poetic diction. Narrative poetry and Tragedy . Epic is compared with Tragedy. Objections are answered. 6 Parts of “Poetics”
  9. 9. Twenty-six chapters. a kind of covert reply to his great master. a systematic exposition of the theory and practice of poetry.
  10. 10. Differences between Aristotle and Plato Plato considered imitation merely as mimicry or a servile copy of nature. Plato compared poetry to painting. Aristotle interpreted it as a creative process. Aristotle compared it to music.
  11. 11. Differences between Aristotle and Plato  Poetry presents a copy of nature as it is. Poetry is twice removed from reality and it’s a ‘shadow of shadows’.  Plato takes up the cudgel on behalf of philosophy and shows that philosophy is superior to poetry.  Poetry may imitate men as they are, or better and worse. Poetry gives us idealized version of reality.  He takes up the cudgels on behalf of poetry and effectively brings out its superiority.
  12. 12. Overall Summary of “Poetics”
  13. 13. He defines poetry as a means of mimesis, or imitation by means of language, rhythm, and harmony
  14. 14. TRAGEDY Dionysus, Thousands, Thirty-Three Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides
  15. 15. Tragedy serves to arouse the emotions of pity and fear and to effect a katharsis (catharsis) of these emotions
  16. 16. six different parts of TRAGEDY: (1) mythos, or plot, (2) character, (3) thought, (4) diction, (5) melody, and (6) spectacle.
  17. 17. first essential to creating a good tragedy is that it should maintain unity of plot
  18. 18. The plot can also be enhanced by an intelligent use of peripeteia, or reversal, and anagnorisis, or recognition
  19. 19. The misery should be the result of some hamartia, or error, on the part of the hero.
  20. 20. Aristotle discusses thought and diction and then moves on to address epic poetry
  21. 21. After addressing some problems of criticism, Aristotle argues that tragedy is superior to epic poetry.
  22. 22. IMPORTANT TERMS of Aristotle
  23. 23. Hamartia - the word translates almost directly as "error," though it is often rendered more elaborately as "tragic flaw." Tragedy involves the downfall of a hero, effected by some error. This error could be a simple matter of not knowing something or forgetting something.
  24. 24. Anagnorisis - "recognition" or "discovery." That moment when the hero, or some other character, passes from ignorance to knowledge. This could be a recognition of a long lost friend or family member, or it could be a sudden recognition of some fact about oneself
  25. 25. Mythos - usually translated as "plot," but unlike "plot," mythos can be applied to all works of art. Not so much a matter of what happens and in what order, mythos deals with how the elements of a tragedy (or a painting, sculpture, etc.) come together to form a coherent and unified whole.
  26. 26. The overall message or impression that we come away with is what is conveyed to us by the mythosof a piece.
  27. 27. Katharsis - This word was normally used in ancient Greece by doctors to mean "purgation" or by priests to mean "purification." In tragedy, Aristotle uses it to talk about a purgation or purification of emotions. Presumably, this means that katharsis is a release of built up emotional energy, much like a good cry.
  28. 28. Peripeteia - A reversal, either from good to bad or bad to good. Peripeteia often occurs at the climax of a story, often prompted by anagnorisis. - the climax of a story: the turning point in the action, where things begin to move toward a conclusion.
  29. 29. Lusis - Literally "untying," the lusis is all the action in a tragedy from the climax onward. All the plot threads that have been woven together in the desis are slowly unraveled until the conclusion.
  30. 30. Desis - Literally "tying," the desis is all the action in a tragedy leading up to the climax. - threads craftily woven together to form a more and more complex mess.
  31. 31. Aristotle’s ‘The Poetics’
  32. 32. “scientific study of the constituent parts of poetry and drawing conclusions from those observations”
  33. 33. He lists the different kinds of poetry: epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and most flute-playing and lyre-playing
  34. 34. Next, he classifies all of these kinds of poetry as mimetic, or imitative, but that there are significant differences between them.
  35. 35. Mimesis the act of creating in someone's mind, through artistic representation, an idea or ideas that the person will associate with past experience. Roughly translatable as "imitation,”
  36. 36. How can we differentiate the tragedy from other poetic forms? Manner Of imitation objects medium
  37. 37. first kind of distinction is the means or medium they employ. Just as a painter employs paint and a sculptor employs stone, the poet employs language, rhythm, and harmony, either singly or in combinations.
  38. 38. The second distinction is the objects that are imitated. All poetry represents actions with agents who are either better than us, worse than us, or quite like us.
  39. 39. tragedy and epic poetry: characters are better than us comedy and parody: characters are worse than us.
  40. 40. The third distinction is with the manner of representation: the poet either speaks directly in narrative or assumes the characters of people in the narrative and speaks through them.
  41. 41. Objects, Manner, and Medium of Imitation in Tragedy Objects Serious action manner Represent through action medium Verse in dialogue
  42. 42. We are by nature imitative creatures that learn and excel by imitating others, and we naturally take delight in works of imitation. Evidence: fascinated by representations of dead bodies or disgusting animals even though the things themselves would repel us.
  43. 43. * we learn by examining representations and imitations of things * learning is one of the greatest pleasures there is * Rhythm and harmony also come naturally to us, so that poetry gradually evolved out of our improvisations with these media.
  44. 44. Tragedy and comedy are later developments that are the grandest representation of their respective traditions: ** tragedy of the lofty tradition ** comedy of the mean tradition
  45. 45. Four innovations in the development from improvised dithyrambs toward the tragedies of his day.
  46. 46. Dithyrambs were sung in honor of Dionysus, god of wine, by a chorus of around fifty men and boys, often accompanied by a narrator.
  47. 47. 1st Innovation: Aeschylus reduced the number of the chorus and introduced a second actor on stage, which made dialogue the central focus of the poem
  48. 48. 2nd Innovation: Sophocles added a third actor and also introduced background scenery.
  49. 49. 3rd Innovation: Tragedy developed an air of seriousness, and the meter changed from a trochaic rhythm, which is more suitable for dancing, to an iambic rhythm, which is closer to the natural rhythms of conversational speech.
  50. 50. 4th Innovation: Tragedy developed a plurality of episodes, or acts.
  51. 51. tragedy and epic poetry: characters are better than us comedy and parody: characters are worse than us.
  52. 52. comedy deals with the ridiculous which he defines as a kind of ugliness that does no harm to anybody else. very sketchy account of the origins of comedy, because it was not generally treated with the same respect as tragedy and so there are fewer records of the innovations that led to its present form.
  53. 53. Tragedy and epic poetry deal with lofty subjects in a grand style of verse Three significant differences: First, tragedy is told in a dramatic, rather than narrative, form, and employs several different kinds of verse while epic poetry employs only one.
  54. 54. Second, the action of a tragedy is usually confined to a single day, and so the tragedy itself is usually much shorter than an epic poem.
  55. 55. Third, while tragedy has all the elements that are characteristic of epic poetry, it also has some additional elements that are unique to it alone.
  56. 56. Aristotle now narrows his focus to examine tragedy exclusively. In order to do so, he provides a definition of tragedy that we can break up into seven parts
  57. 57. (1) it involves mimesis; (2) it is serious; (3) the action is complete and with magnitude; (4) it is made up of language with the "pleasurable accessories" of rhythm and harmony;
  58. 58. (5) these "pleasurable accessories" are not used uniformly throughout, but are introduced in separate parts of the work, so that, for instance, some bits are spoken in verse and other bits are sung;
  59. 59. (6) it is performed rather than narrated; and (7) it arouses the emotions of pity and fear and accomplishes a katharsis (purification or purgation) of these emotions.
  60. 60. Definition of Tragedy
  61. 61. Action must be complete Beginning Middle End
  62. 62. Completeness:-
  63. 63. Unity of Action:(Probability and Necessity) There must be a causal connection between the various events and incidents. They must follow each other naturally and inevitably. No incident or character should be superfluous. The events introduced must be such as are probable under the circumstances. Aristotle emphasizes Unity of Action ; he is against plurality of action as it weakens the final effect of Tragedy.
  64. 64. Imitation of an action, serious, complete and of a certain magnitude……. It must be long enough to permit an orderly development of action to a catastrophe. Too short an action cannot be regarded as proper and beautiful, for its different parts will not be clearly visible, as in the case of a very small living creature. It must be an ‘organic’ whole.
  65. 65. And another important word is embellishment:- Verse and song beautify and decorate and give pleasure, but Aristotle does not regard them as essential or indispensable for the success of a tragedy.
  66. 66. Diction and Style Diction is the choice and arrangement of words and images in a literary composition. Six types of words • Current or ordinary words • Foreign terms borrowed or dialects • Metaphors • Ornamental periphrasis • Invented words • Not invented, but made new lengthening or shortening
  67. 67. Songs is the pleasurable addition to a play. In a tragedy, song is provided by the Chorus. The quantitative sections of tragedy are ; Prologue Choric song Episode Exode SONGS OR MELODY
  68. 68. About Catharsis:- #In the Poetics, while defining tragedy, Aristotle writes that the function of tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear, and in this way to affect the Katharsis of these emotion. #Further the Greek word Katharsis has three meanings:- Purgation purification clarification All agree that Tragedy arouses fear and pity, but there are sharp differences as to the process, the way, by which the rousing of these emotions gives pleasure.
  69. 69. Having examined the definition, nature and function of ‘Tragedy, Aristotle comes to its formative parts. Six formative elements of a tragedy Plot Character Diction Thought Spectacle Song
  70. 70. Two kinds of Plots: simple and complex  Simple:  Plot is simple when the change in the fortunes of the hero takes place without peripety and discovery.  Complex:  The plot is complex when it involves one or the other or both. The Peripety is the change in the fortunes of the hero and the Discovery is a change from ignorance to knowledge. Aristotle prefers complex plot, for it startles and captures attention.
  71. 71. Complex plots are those which have Peripety and Anagnorisis or Discovery or Recognition  Peripeteia :  Peripeteia means that human actions produce results exactly opposite to what was intended: it is working in blindness to one’s own defeat.  It is a false step taken in the dark.(e.g., Macbeth)  Anagnorisis:  Anagnorisis or recognition is the realization of truth, the opening of the eyes, the sudden lightning-flash in the darkness.
  72. 72. Characterization:- Showing a perfectly good man passing from happiness to misery Such kind of plot will not inspire pity and fear it will be simply odious or horrible Showing a bad man rising from misery to happiness It is not tragic at all Showing an extremely bad man falling from happiness to misery It will move us neither to pity nor fear. “A man who is not eminently good and just yet whose misfortune is not brought by vice or depravity but by some error of frailty”.
  73. 73. Further Traits of Characters:- The characters must be good They must be appropriate They must have likeness They must have consistency Aristotle means that they must be true to type, slave should behave as slaves are generally known to behave. There must be no sudden and unaccountable change in character.
  74. 74. The Ideal Tragic Hero:- He should neither be perfectly good not utterly bad . He should be a man neither of a blameless character nor a depraved villain. He is a man of ordinary weaknesses and virtues, like our selves, leaning more to the side of good than of evil. Suffering, not because of some deliberate villainy but because of some error of judgment.
  75. 75. “Hamartia” Ignorance Hasty or careless view Decision taken voluntarily Oedipus Othello Hamlet It may be accompanied by normal imperfection, but it is not itself a moral imperfection, and in the purest tragic situation the suffering hero is not morally to blame.
  76. 76. The Dramatic Unities Unity of Time #Comparing the Epic and the Tragedy:- “Tragedy tries as far as possible, to live within a single revolution of the sun, or only slightly to exceed it, whereas the epic observes no limits in its time of action”. About the Unity of Time he merely says in the Poetics that tragedy should confine itself, “as far as possible”, to a single revolution of the sun.
  77. 77. Unity of Place Aristotle only mentions when comparing the epic and the tragedy, that the epic can narrate a number of actions going on simultaneously in different parts, while in drama such simultaneous actions cannot be represented, for the stage is one part and not several parts, or places.
  78. 78. Unity of Action Tight plot – not episodic; events have the logical connectedness
  79. 79.  Unity of plot in epic.  Contrast between epic and tragedy.  Superiority of tragedy over epic.  Tragedy is possible without character but not without plot.  Epic is of four types : simple and complex, epic of character, epic of suffering.  Tragedy is of four types : The complex tragedy, the tragedy of suffering, the tragedy of character, the tragedy of spectacle. EPIC AND TRAGEDY
  80. 80. Types of Tragedy • Complex tragedy It consists of reversal and recognition of truth. • Tragedy of suffering Tragedy depicts suffering. • Tragedy of character Character more involved than plot. • Tragedy of spectacle It depends upon the sensational effects produced by the actors, the costume designers and other mechanical and artificial devices.
  81. 81. Types of Recognition Anagnorisis (discovery or recognition of truth) • Signs or objects, symbols • Author tells himself • Discovery from memory • Process of reasoning • Discovery arising from the false reasoning
  82. 82. Superiority of Tragedy over Epic • It has all the elements of an epic and has also spectacle and song which the epic lacks. • Unity of action only in a tragedy not in an epic. • Simply reading the play without performing it is already very potent. • Tragedy is shorter that is more compact concentrated effect.

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