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‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’

In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, The Poetics introduces into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis (‘imitation’), hamartia (‘error’), and katharsis (‘purification’). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals, centring on characters of heroic stature, idealized yet true to life. One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history, the Poetics has informed serious thinking about drama ever since.

Malcolm Heath’s lucid English translation makes the Poetics fully accessible to the modern reader. It is accompanied by an extended introduction, which discusses the key concepts in detail and includes suggestions for further reading.

62 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 336

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About the author


2,874 books4,458 followers
384 BC–322 BC

Greek philosopher Aristotle, a pupil of Plato and the tutor of Alexander the Great, authored works on ethics, natural sciences, politics, and poetics that profoundly influenced western thought; empirical observation precedes theory, and the syllogism bases logic, the essential method of rational inquiry in his system, which led him to see and to criticize metaphysical excesses.

German religious philosopher Saint Albertus Magnus later sought to apply his methods to current scientific questions. Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the most influential thinker of the medieval period, combined doctrine of Aristotle within a context of Christianity.

Aristotle numbers among the greatest of all time. Almost peerless, he shaped centuries from late antiquity through the Renaissance, and people even today continue to study him with keen, non-antiquarian interest. This prodigious researcher and writer left a great body, perhaps numbering as many as two hundred treatises, from which 31 survive. His extant writings span a wide range of disciplines from mind through aesthetics and rhetoric and into such primary fields as biology; he excelled at detailed plant and animal taxonomy. In all these topics, he provided illumination, met with resistance, sparked debate, and generally stimulated the sustained interest of an abiding readership.

Wide range and its remoteness in time defies easy encapsulation. The long history of interpretation and appropriation of texts and themes, spanning over two millennia within a variety of religious and secular traditions, rendered controversial even basic points of interpretation.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,410 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,359 reviews11.8k followers
December 11, 2021

During the golden age of ancient Greece bards roamed the countryside mesmerizing crowds by reciting the epics of Homer. Thousands of men and women gathered and were moved to tears by tragedies performed outside in amphitheaters during sacred festivals. Such an amazingly powerful and profound experience for an entire population. What was going on here; why were people so deeply affected? Well, one of the sharpest, most analytic minds in the history of the West set himself the task of answering just this question - his name was Aristotle.

Indeed, Aristotle's Poetics is one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. For over two thousand years, philosophers, scholars and thinkers have been pouring over each phrase and sentence of the master's words as if they were nuggets of gold. There are enough commentaries to fill several thick volumes in a university library. Quite something since the entire Poetics is a mere twenty pages. But what coverage! To list several: plot, character, language and two concepts supercharged with meaning: mimesis (imitation) and catharsis (inspiring pity or fear).

Of course, in our contemporary world we don't listen to bards recite epics or go to amphitheaters to watch tragedies, but we have abundant experience of these dramatic elements since we, among other things, read novels and watch films. So, to provide a taste of Aristotle's work, I offer my modest comments along with quotes from the text. Please take this as an invitation to explore the Poetics on your own. Below is a link to a fine translation and a second link to an extraordinarily clear, brief, easy-to follow commentary.

"Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. . . . to learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general" ---------- Ah, pleasure! And pleasure in learning about life through imitation/fiction. Even if the story involves a Siberian prison camp or an insane chase of a white whale, there is a kind of pleasure in identifying with a character and living through the character's plight. Our humanness is enriched.

"Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude." ---------- The Maltese Falcon begins with very serious action: a murder. And the story is complete since at the end the case is solved and the criminals answer for their crimes. How many novels and films follow this formula? Round to the nearest million.

"Now as tragic imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily follows in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a part of Tragedy." ---------- Even back in ancient Greece, Aristotle acknowledges how special effects can really juice the action.

"The most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy- Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes- are parts of the plot." ---------- I don't know about you, but I recall with the film Gone Girl my interest would ratchet up a few notches with every reversal and recognition. I can just imagine Gillian Flynn pouring over her Aristotle.

"The greater the length, the more beautiful will the piece be by reason of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous." ---------- When I go to a three hour movie or pick up a nine hundred page novel, my first thought: this had better be good. And when it is good, a great pay-off for time spent.

"Tragedy is an imitation not only of a complete action, but of events inspiring fear or pity." ---------- Admit it, we remember most those times when we are emotionally wrenched.

Poetics, on line: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poe...

Commentary: http://www.english.hawaii.edu/critica...
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
March 9, 2019
I just reluctantly gave my copy of Aristotle's Poetics to my son, who recently discovered drama. It is earmarked and highlighted and it guided me through university, telling me what I needed to know about tragedy and its core elements, such as unity of time, place and action.

The reason we started talking about drama was that my son didn't particularly like Emilia Galotti, Lessing's "Bürgerliche Tragödie", and we talked about the strange code of honour that made a father kill his daughter to save her virtue. "What's progressive about that?" my son asked furiously, and I found myself in the bizarre position to defend patriarchy and its flawed moral codes, by saying that it was modern "back then" to let a girl die "tragically" without being a princess or a queen.

My son raised his eyebrows, and I sensed the lack of logic.

"So it was progressive that women of ALL classes were allowed to be sacrificed to the egos of men who considered them their property?"


I love the fact that literature makes me challenge my own acquired knowledge, and think again about something I just took at face value when I read Emilia Galotti myself. For of course it is bizarre, especially considering that Lessing is a representative of Enlightenment culture.

And while we were at it, we talked about all the other bizarre elements of classical drama.

And we realised that it is more like life than we first thought: after all, each day we reinvent the narratives of our lives and press them into what we can perceive as one action, one place and one time: one day of madness and drama.

So yesterday I acted out the tragic loss of my university copy of Aristotle! It will stay in spirit.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
March 26, 2017
It’s odd that the most ancient essay on literary criticism is one of the easiest to understand. It is so accessible. If you compare this to works by Nietzsche, Hegel and Freud the extremities of this can easily be seen. Aristotle explains his theory in the most basic language possible with no artful language that distances the reader from it. It is completely comprehensive and virtually impossible not to understand. Aristotle was an advocate of presenting his arguments in the most simplest of languages. And I thank him for it.


Without this book I don’t think I would have been able to fully comprehend exactly what a Tragedy is or how they work, and I most certainly wouldn’t have been able to pass my Tragedy module of my degree. The Poetics is essentially a guide, or rulebook, for what makes the perfect tragic play. Aristotle argues, well teaches us, that it is achieved through a Cathartic moment that arouses pity and fear at the same time. This occurs only if the plot is sufficiently complex, which brings forth the tragic action.

The plot’s complexity should be achieved through the use of recognition, a reversal and heaps of suffering for everybody. The reversal is usually something like the revenger becoming the revenged and this can be achieved through recognition. The recognition is the true knowledge acquired about one’s circumstance, which will always bring about suffering for the tragic character. In addition, the tragic characters should have a hamartia, which is to say they should have a tragic flaw. This could be something like extreme loyalty or ignorance. If you believe the Hegel model of tragedy then this is also the thing that makes the character “better than ourselves.” The best illustration of a hamartia, and the one Aristotle uses, is Oedipus. His lack of knowledge causes him to murder his farther and marry his mother, but at the same time leads him to become a mighty King.

This is a work that every literature student is encouraged to read, and there’s a reason for it. Aristotle’s theory enlightens the reader to the devices behind tragic art. Once you’ve read this you’ll never be able to read a Tragedy again without this in mind; it forms almost a mental checklist in your head.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
September 10, 2019

If you want to learn about tragedy--or narrative in general--this is still the best place to start.
Profile Image for Ben Sharafski.
Author 1 book125 followers
May 13, 2023
The title is misleading; Aristotle discusses in this treatise not poetry but drama, and in particular the tragedy. The confusion rises from the fact that Classical Greek plays used to be written in metred verse. Aristotle's analysis is so lucid and systematic that it is hard to believe that this book was written more than two thousand years ago. Scholars believe that it was originally compiled by Aristotle's students as lecture notes, and many of them surmise the existence of a second volume, devoted to comedy - now long lost (this missing volume has a major role to play in the storyline of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose).

Aristotle cites many examples from Classical Greek plays, and sadly I was not familiar with most of them. Even with my partial understanding I found this book to be an outstanding testament for an exceptional intellect.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,294 reviews21.7k followers
December 3, 2009
This is perhaps my favourite philosopher of the Ancient world chatting about literary criticism – it doesn’t really get too much better than this. Plato, of course, wanted to banish all of the artists from his ideal republic. He wanted to do this because the world we live in is a poor copy of the ‘real’ world and so art is but a copy of a copy. Rather than bring us closer to the truth, Plato believed that art took us further away.

It can’t have been easy for Aristotle, Plato’s student, to disagree with the views of the master – but disagree he clearly did. He begins this by agreeing with Plato that art is imitation of the world, but rather than this being a bad thing, he says that the advantage of art is that it cuts out the dross of existence and concentrates what is important. By doing this art allows us to look beyond the particulars of our everyday existence and see the universals. The lessons we learn from art are thereby clearer and easier to assimilate. Life is always lived in the particular, but art, to Aristotle, allows us to see deeper truths because it moves us towards universals. Characters may have individual names, but we find it harder to distance ourselves from characters in fiction than we are able to do with characters in history.

It would be hard to discuss this book without mentioning catharsis. It is a Greek word meaning purgative, and to Aristotle the appeal of tragedies was that they act like a purgative on our emotions. It is a fascinating idea and one that I think still holds. It would be otherwise hard to see why we enjoy tragedies. The notion that ‘there but for the grace of God’ and the recognition that bad things happen even to the best of men are ideas that do have a cathartic effect on our emotions. Shit happens, but it happens to the best of us as well as to the worst of us.

There is always something nice about watching Aristotle slice up the world – he is a remarkably logical person and someone who is able to not only divide the world into its logical components, but to then say incredibly interesting things about these slices.

I first read this twenty years ago, it is well worth reading and re-reading.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
October 21, 2020
Περὶ ποιητικῆς = De Poetica; c. 335 BC = Aristotelis de arte Poetica Liber = Poetics, Aristotle

Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory in the West. This has been the traditional view for centuries.

The table of contents page of the Poetics found in Modern Library's Basic Works of Aristotle (2001) identifies five basic parts within it.

A. Preliminary discourse on tragedy, epic poetry, and comedy, as the chief forms of imitative poetry.

B. Definition of a tragedy, and the rules for its construction. Definition and analysis into qualitative parts.

C. Rules for the construction of a tragedy: Tragic pleasure, or catharsis experienced by fear and pity should be produced in the spectator. The characters must be four things: good, appropriate, realistic, and consistent. Discovery must occur within the plot. Narratives, stories, structures and poetics overlap. It is important for the poet to visualize all of the scenes when creating the plot. The poet should incorporate complication and dénouement within the story, as well as combine all of the elements of tragedy. The poet must express thought through the characters' words and actions, while paying close attention to diction and how a character's spoken words express a specific idea. Aristotle believed that all of these different elements had to be present in order for the poetry to be well-done.

D. Possible criticisms of an epic or tragedy, and the answers to them.

E. Tragedy as artistically superior to epic poetry: Tragedy has everything that the epic has, even the epic meter being admissible. The reality of presentation is felt in the play as read, as well as in the play as acted. The tragic imitation requires less space for the attainment of its end. If it has more concentrated effect, it is more pleasurable than one with a large admixture of time to dilute it. There is less unity in the imitation of the epic poets (plurality of actions) and this is proved by the fact that an epic poem can supply enough material for several tragedies.

عنوانها: «فن شعر»، «هنر شاعری بوطیقا»؛ «نامه ارسطاطالیس در باره هنر شعر»؛ اثر: ارسطو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه می سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: فن شعر؛ اثر: ارسطو؛ مترجم: عبدالحسین زرین کوب؛ تهران، بنگاه نشر و ترجمه، چاپ دوم 1343، در 245ص؛ کتابنامه دارد؛ چاپ سوم 1353؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، امیرکبیر، 1369، در 220ص، چاپ سوم 1381، چاپ چهارم 1382، چاپ پنجم 1385، چاپ ششم 1387؛ چاپ هفتم و هشتم، 1392، شابک 9789640007860؛ موضوع: نقد ادبی، تراژدی، فن شعر؛ سده 4پیش از میلاد

نخستین بار با عنوانهای «فن شعر»، و «هنر شاعری بوطیقا»؛ در سال 1335هجری خورشیدی، با ترجمه جناب «فتح الله مجتبایی»، توسط انتشارات اندیشه، و در سال 1337هجری خورشیدی، و با عنوان «نامه ارسطاطالیس در باره هنر شعر»، با ترجمه ی جناب «حسین افنان»، منتشر شده است؛ رساله ی «فن شعر ارسطو (فن شعر = بوطیقا = پوئتیکا)»، مهم‌ترین میراث فلسفی ادبی «یونان» است، این رساله، نخستین کار بازمانده، در حوزه ی نظریه ی دراماتیک، و نخستین رساله ی فلسفی موجود، با تمرکز، بر «سخن‌ شناسی»، و «نظریه ی ادبی» است؛ «ارسطو»، در «فن شعر»، مفهومی را بررسی می‌کند، که از آن تحت عنوان «شعر» یاد می‌کند؛ فن شعر را، نخستین بار «ابوبشر متی بن یونس - از نسطوریان بغداد، که رئیس منطقیان عصر خویش، بشمار می‌آمد»، از متن «سریانی»، به «عربی» ترجمه کرد؛ ترجمه‌ ای که ایشان از فن شعر کردند، خطاها و ابهامات بسیاری داشت؛ پس از ایشان، شاگردش «یحیی بن عدی»، دست به ترجمه ی دوباره ی آن می‌زند، و «یعقوب بن اسحاق الکندی»، برای نخستین بار آن را خلاصه میکند؛ پس از «کندی»، «ابونصر فارابی (متوفی به سال 339هجری)»، که شاگرد «ابوبشر متی» نیز بودند، به شرح فن شعر پرداختند؛ پس از «فارابی» معروف‌ترین کسیکه دست به کار شرح و تلخیص فن شعر می‌پردازد، روانشاد «ابن‌ سینا (پورسینا)»ست؛ پس از «ابن‌ سینا»، معروفترین کسی که به تلخیص و شرح «بوطیقا، پوئتیکا» اقدام می‌کند، روانشاد «ابن‌ رشد» بوده است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Mohammad Ranjbari.
223 reviews144 followers
January 9, 2019
افلاطون موتور محرک اندیشه های ارسطو بود. از آن جایی که هیچ اندیشمندی در جهان وجود ندارد که دچار اشتباه نشده باشد، ارسطو نیز در فن شعر از اشتباهات محاسباتی به دور نبوده است. نظام اخلاقی افلاطون، باعث طرد و تحریم برخی از شاخه های هنر و ادبیات گردید. در بخشی از این تعصبات افلاطون حق داشت و در بخشی دیگر شاعران و ادبا. اما در کل چنین دیدگاهی باعث تنزیه و کمرنگ شدن و محتاط تر بودن ادبیات شد. در برخی از بخش های رسالۀ فن شعر ارسطو، مشابه چنین دیدگاه و طرز برخوردی را مشاهده می کنیم.

شعر غنایی:
اجحافی که بر شعر غنایی در این رساله می رود قابل تأمل است. ارسطو موسیقی را تا مرز تطبیق با ادبیات غنایی پیش می برد و ناگهان متوجه می شود نباید در تقسیم بندی ژانرها، این گونه را ذکر کند، زیرا فنی به نام موسیقی جور آن را خواهد کشید و ادب غنایی همان ادب لیریک (لور یا لیر= نوعی آلت موسیقی) است. اما این اشتباه محاسباتی تناقضات سختی در نظام فکری ارسطو پدید می آورد. به ویژه که با کمی آگاهی پی می بریم دیگر شاخه ها نیز با موسیقی اخت و همراه بوده اند : تراژدی، حماسه، طنز. مگر دلیل چنین اشتباهی را تاثیر نظام فکری افلاطون در ارسطو بدانیم و ترس از تعالیم فاسد و مضامین نامناسب و غیر اخلاقی اشعار غنایی.
متاسفانه با ترجمه این دیدگاه ها مسلمانان نیز از مکتب افلاطون و ارسطو چیزی جز نقد اخلاقی خلق نکردند. حتی تولستوی نیز به طرزی ابلهانه در قرنی که در آستانۀ ورود به دنیای مدرن هست، در کتاب «هنر چیست»، خود را افلاطونی دیگر از این نظریات معرفی نمود. نقد اخلاقی به طور وضوح در اروپا و شرق تا چندین قرن استیلا پیدا کرده و دیگر نظریات مفید و نو را به حاشیه راند.

برتری تراژدی بر حماسه:
دومین اشتباه ارسطو در برتری دادن تراژدی بر حماسه بود. آن هم به این دلیل که تراژدی عناصر تداعی گر زیادی نسبت به حماسه دارد. اگر با یک مثال امروزی این مطلب را ساده کنیم، این است که فعالیت کتاب خواندن را مثلاً با اینستاگرام بررسی کنیم و در نهایت اینستا را بهتر از کتاب معرفی کنیم، آن هم به خاطر مولتی مدیا بودن آن. ارسطو در عصری می زیست که نمایش، هیجان برتری از خوانش داشت و باید تا حدودی او را بی تقصیر بدانیم. اما در کلیت ذهن او، نباید حماسه با تراژدی مقایسه می شد و در ثانی، ویژگی های عرضی و اکتسابی تراژدی (نمایش، حرکت، هیجان، تداعی فضا – زمانی و ...) به عنوان ماهیت آن قلمداد شده و به آن برتری می داد.

نکات ضعف و تناقض زیادی در این رساله هنوز لاینحل باقی مانده و برخی نیز از احترام و عادت مطرح نشده که جا دارد مورد بررسی قرار گیرد. در عین حال نکات قوت بی شمار این رساله نیز قطعا در مشهور شدن آن موثر بوده و خواهد بود.

Profile Image for Luís.
1,864 reviews522 followers
July 8, 2022
After taking the plunge, (it's still nothing to say that we are about to read an author of about 300 BC), I am in the company of Aristotle. My first impression was, "Actually, it's not as bad as I imagined it to be."
Indeed, some terms remain out of reach but should not fool us. Please read it as one would read a foreign language and pass over incomprehensible words to grasp the essence of the text.

With sixty pages of texts and four pages of notes, this little work is interesting; we learn how to produce such an effect on the reader (or the spectator), to arouse such emotion, and how should arrange the facts between them. Even today, writers had inspired by Aristotle to write their stories. I understand today why.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,022 followers
February 17, 2023
I read this for The Literary Life Podcast. Fascinating ideas that spark thought and discussion. I do not think this would in any way be a modern manual for writing, although I do think there are helpful ideas which spark further thinking.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,022 followers
January 21, 2015

This is the best commentary I could find on The Poetics. Bywater's is a much better translation and immensely readable, except for the places where he employs the Greek without transliteration. A good strategy could be to keep to Bywater for a first read, and then use Whalley's idiosyncratic and 'deliberately clumsy' translation while studying his notes. We can even supplement it with the Lucas notes.

The best essay length criticism can be had from Lucas and Else, both of which are referred to often by Whalley. I am planning to read at least one of them soon.

Whalley's comparisons with Coleridge is particularly useful if the reader is interested in learning to think about how Aristotle's percepts can be made to fit modern literary works.

Also his approach is no to treat every word A. uses as a technical term, which is an unfortunate tendency of most academic works. So we usually end up talking very particularly about terms which Aristotle probably wanted to give a wider ambit to. This is when it becomes easy to lapse into thinking that Aristotle is too formalistic and hence dismissing him. That would be poor form for a student.
Profile Image for ladydusk.
447 reviews181 followers
February 2, 2023
This is very very good. I didn't come close to comprehending the fullness of it, but the first time through means the second will be better.

I was surprised by the Aristotle - it wasn't what I expected although my expectations were perhaps a bit amorphous. The nitty gritty of words and syllables themselves to the structure and plot development was more comprehensive than anticipated.

The essays included at the end were helpful. I particularly enjoyed the Sidney and the Sayers (and was somewhat baffled by Shelley) ... but Sidney's discussion of the historian-philosopher-poet is excellent (if a little challenging, again a second read will be helpful). Sayers' application of the pieces of the Aristotle to detective fiction were insightful and helpful in understanding what had passed before (plus, she's a clear 20th Century writer whose subjects - Holmes, Wimsey, Poirot - were familiar). It helps to understand the Aristotle as a framework or paradigm, not necessarily a set of precepts or hard and fast rules / laws.

I read this book in my "Inspired by The Great Tradition" category of the Scholé Sisters 5x5 challenge. On to Augustine On Christian Teaching.

2023: The Audiobook was just to help me remember some of what was in the book, but a vastly inferior way of interacting with the text.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,394 reviews706 followers
October 5, 2018
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتابِ کهن، از 26 بخشِ گوناگون تشکیل شده است که در هر بخش، ارسطو به توضیح و شرحِ انواعِ شعر و داستان سرایی در آن دوران پرداخته است
‎به انتخاب در زیر بخش هایی از این کتاب را برایِ شما ادب دوستانِ گرامی مینویسم
‎شکی نیست که اثرِ شاعر از آن چیزی که اتفاق افتاده است، بحث نمیکند.. بلکه از آن چیزی سخن میگوید که وقوعِ آن بر حسبِ ضرورت یا حقیقت نمایی، امکان دارد... یعنی فرقِ شاعر و مورخ در این نیست که اولی گفته اش منظوم باشد و دومی منثور.. بلکه فرقِ اصلی آنها این است که مورخ از آنچه اتفاق افتاده است بحث میکند و شاعر از آنچه میتوانست اتفاق بیفتد، سخن میگوید... شعر پیوسته از کلیات بحث میکند و تاریخ از جزئیات سخن میگوید.. کلّی آن چیزی است که هرکسی مطابقِ مشخصاتِ روانِ خود و بر حسبِ ضروریات یا حقیقت نمایی میتواند آن را بگوید و یا انجام دهد.. شعر بر رویِ این زمینه، نامی خاص میگذارد.. و حالتِ جزئیِ آن چیزی است که مثلاً " آلکیبیاد" انجام داده است، یا نسبت به او اعمال کرده اند
‎تفاوتِ مردم، همه در نیکوکاری و بدکاری است.. ولی کسانی را که شاعران وصف میکنند، یا از حیثِ سیرت، آنها را برتر از آنچه هستند، توصیف میکنند، یا فروتر از آنچه هستند و یا آنها را به حدِ میانه وصف میکنند و در این باب، شاعران همچون نقاشها هستند و این موارد است که مثلاً تراژدی را از کمدی جدا میسازد
‎وحدتِ موضوع به هیچ وجه با انتخابِ یک تن به عنوانِ قهرمانِ داستان به وجود نمی آید، زیرا در زندگیِ یک شخص، ممکن است چندین حادثهٔ گوناگون روی دهد.. از سویِ دیگر، افسانه فقط باید یک حادثه و موضوعِ کامل را بیان کند.. همهٔ قسمتهایِ این موضوع آنچنان باید در کنارِ یکدیگر چیده شوند و چنان وحدتی تشکیل دهد که کوچکترین قسمتی از آن را نتوان تغییر داد و یا حذف کرد، زیرا آن مضمونی که هم بتوان در مطلبی وارد کرد و هم بدونِ لطمه خوردن به مطلب از آن حذف کرد، جزوِ آن مطلب نیست
‎تراژدی عبارت است از تقلیدِ یک حادثهٔ جدی و کامل و دارایِ وسعتِ معین، با بیانی زیبا که زیباییِ آن در تمامِ بخشها به یک اندازه باشد و دارایِ شکلِ نمایش بوده و به صورتِ داستان و حکایت بیان نشود و با استفاده از وحشت و ترحم، عواطفِ مردم را پاک سازد
‎تراژدی میکوشد تا جایی که امکان دارد، خود را در یک شبانه روز محصور کند و یا حداقل از این حدود تجاوز نکند
‎قهرمانِ تراژدی نباید جنایتکار باشد، درضمن لازم نیست بسیار پرهیزکار و درستکار باشد.. باید از خوشبختی به تیره روزی افتاده باشد، ولی نه بر اثرِ جنایت، بلکه در نتیجهٔ یک اشتباه باید ایجادِ ترس و ترحم کند... قهرمانِ تراژدی باید با اشخاصی که قطبِ مقابلِ او را در تراژدی تشکیل میدهند، رابطهٔ خانوادگی و یا احساسی، داشته باشد
‎سبکِ کمدی، تقلیدی از گفتار و رفتارِ زشت است.. نه اینکه توصیف و تقلید از بدترین صفاتِ انسان باشد، بلکه فقط تقلید و توصیفِ اعمال و اخلاقِ شرم آوری است که موجبِ ریشخندِ دیگران میشود.. آنچه موجبِ ریشخند میشود، امری است که در آن عیب و زشتی میباشد، ولی آزار و گزندی از آن عیب و زشتی به کسی نمیرسد
‎امیدوارم این ریویو در جهتِ شناختِ این کتاب، کافی و مفید بوده باشه
‎<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
Profile Image for Old Dog Diogenes.
79 reviews20 followers
March 7, 2023
Reading Poetics, it very quickly becomes apparent to anyone familiar with narrative structure that this book was highly influential throughout the ages. We continue to dissect narratives exactly as laid out in this book, and I would say that for someone wanting to better understand "the rules" of a proper narrative there is no better place to start than this book. Although Aristotle is dealing mostly with Tragedy and Epic poetry many of these ideas are universal and can be used as a reference to most narrative forms more broadly.

This was my first dive into Aristotle, and I feel that it was a good place to start. It was short and easy to understand. I only wish that I had read more of the works that he is referring to. Especially Sophocles' Oedipus Rex as it is referred to the most often aside from Homer's works.

What I found most intriguing was the differences between Aristotle and Plato on this subject. For Plato, art is an imitation of an imitation (reality the imitation of the world of forms and art the imitation of reality) which removes art more distantly than reality from the truth. Aristotle seems to be saying something quite different in Poetics. That poetry and what we can take to infer more broadly as art in general is a “basic human, and therefore universal, experience.” Aristotle claims that poetry "...is a more philosophical and higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular.” These views contrast most heavily in whether or not we can use art to understand truth. On a moral level, Plato and Aristotle are again in opposition. Plato as evidenced in both The Ion and The Republic adheres to a view that art should be useful and helpful to a society. That distasteful artforms could potentially be harmful to a society by stirring emotions that could be detrimental to the society at large. Whereas Aristotle thinks that the distasteful artforms (those that stir up emotions of hatred, vengeance, lust, etc.) are helpful to a society as a sort of venting mechanism.

Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,780 followers
January 15, 2013
There's something terribly edifying when, having created your own rubric for how books should be judged, you happen to pick up the work from which all literary criticism arose and find that you and Aristotle have independently produced the same system for judgment. I know it probably just trickled down to me through cultural osmosis, but it does give me hope that I'm putting the pieces together properly.
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
January 24, 2021
"Homer has taught the others the proper way of telling lies.... What is convincing though impossible should always be preferred to what is possible and unconvincing."

Aristotle's Poetics caught me completely by surprise. I didn't expect to be confronted with ideas so modern and relatable, nor so heartfelt. I didn't expect Aristotle to basically be a Homer fanboy nor to voice (writing 2300 years ago!) such opinions and complaints as you would easily find in any Goodreads review. Among the points that he makes, in no particular order:

• It's annoying and aesthetically displeasing when characters go OOC (out of character) and behave inconsistently with themselves.

• Things that work in one mode of storytelling (e.g. epic poetry) don't necessarily work in another (e.g. tragedy), and events can feel tragic or ridiculous according to how they are represented.

• He even argues against fanservice (this one had me like, no way), saying that poets (by which he meant playwrights and composers of epic poetry) who write to satisfy their spectators often end up with weak plots.

• It's a cheap narrative trick to abuse dei ex machina to conveniently resolve an irreparably tangled-up narrative situation.

• All the scenes of the narrative should be useful to the overall goal of the story and consistent with its main focus.

• It's a pity that many authors know how to set up a good plot, but then have no idea how to untangle it.

• Plot twists (which he indicates as anagnorisis and peripateia, revelations and reversals of fortune) should arise naturally from the events that are being told, and the hand of the author should not be too visible--i.e., the plot should not feel forced.

• Which also translates into the fact that the telling should never obfuscate the showing.

I mean, what have we even done these past 2300 years? What are we raging against bad books and poor plots for? Aristotle has already said it all.

NB: Just for the record, I'm not saying that these points are unbreakable rules that must necessarily be respected in all types of narrative, just that contemporary readers, especially when dealing with literature/film/stories in any medium with a view to being entertained, in general sympathize very strongly with these principles.
April 8, 2018
Poetics is the earliest known work of literary criticism. This copy was laid out in lecture note form. Aristotle gives his views on tragedy, the plot, the characters and the content, and then it is compared to epic poetry. Content wise, I think this book is great, but it was just so very boring! I found the parts with the ancient Greek language particularly difficult to read and analyse.
Profile Image for Davide.
488 reviews103 followers
May 5, 2018
Letto analiticamente, prendendo fitti appunti, nell'estate del 2004 (vaghi ricordi di una terrazza non lontana dal mare e altri ricordi che non voglio ricordare), poi riletto continuamente.

Ne derivano sempre suggerimenti e curiosità.

Come tutti voi sapete, la poesia [oggi leggi: letteratura] è più filosofica della storia.
Perché la storia tratta del vero, la poesia del verosimile. E quindi la poesia si occupa dell’universale, mentre la storia racconta i particolari. Appartiene all’universale il fatto che qualcuno, un personaggio, dica o faccia certe cose secondo verosimiglianza o necessità, e a questo mira la poesia, aggiungendo successivamente i nomi; appartiene invece al particolare dire cosa ha fatto o cosa è capitato ad Alcibiade.

Appunto, siamo lettori, lo sappiamo tutti, anche senza averlo letto in Aristotele.
L'opera del poeta non è registrazione di tutto quanto, ma è selezione, riadattamento degli eventi, dosaggio sapiente di che cosa scartare e che cosa includere, continuo pensiero di come connettere e come riequilibrare le parti in modo da reinventare il mondo in un ordine pieno di significato.
E l'universale cui mira il poeta può naturalmente essere qualcosa di molto diverso da ciò che poteva avere in mente l'antico filosofo.

Però è sempre stupefacente quando il ragionamento di Aristotele diventa vertiginoso: come quando arriva a dire che, alla fin fine, non è sempre obbligatorio che lo scrittore inventi con verosimiglianza dei fatti fittizi, può persino rappresentare fatti realmente avvenuti, basta che siano verosimili: «niente impedisce infatti che tra i fatti avvenuti ce ne siano alcuni che è verosimile avvengano»

E, secondo tale verosimiglianza, è il poeta il creatore di questi fatti realmente avvenuti.
Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews673 followers
February 15, 2016
Note on the Texts and Translations
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Aristotle
Outline of the 'Poetics'

--From Plato, Republic, Books 2, 3, and 10
--Aristotle, Poetics
--From Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry
--From P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry
--From D. L. Sayers, 'Aristotle on Detective Fiction'

A Note on Metre
Explanatory Notes
Glossary of Key Terms
Profile Image for Mahdi Lotfabadi.
208 reviews40 followers
October 29, 2017
تنها چیزی که بهش فکر می‌کنم اینه که ارسطو 2 هزار و پونصد سال پیش به چه گفتمان‌هایی رسیده بوده... واقعاً جالبه!
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,291 followers
April 17, 2022
One of those books which I just flew through because it's thought provoking and refreshing.

Nonfiction nonetheless and not a book for everyone, I would suggest this small book on literary criticism for those who love reading poetry and, most importantly, plays. As the author focused much on the core concept of a poem/play in terms of comedy, tragedy and so forth, I say this book would come handy for those who wants to understand how to write and construct a poem or a play.

Very easy language and very short chapters, a much delightful different read.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,564 followers
September 6, 2019
Here is a rudimentary tablet of knowledge by one of the greats. First off, it is somewhat incredible to concede the year that this was written, and that almost 2,400 years later we are still eager to explore poetics that are in this aged article so clearly defined.

Aristotle exalts the poet and holds him in the highest esteem. Similarly, I have come to the conclusion that the novelist of literature is the truest of artists, imitating what he sees and ‘painting’ things as how they are, telling it as other people tell it and so is said to be, or constructing a world in its most ideal, illustrious state. This is but one of the many core concepts Aristotle pries open. Yes, as readers we have been conscious of the literary elements and the mixture of these comprise contemporary fiction, certainly, but here is a very significant work for the writer and not just the poet.

Always pitting the Epic poem versus the Tragedy, Aristotle maintains that although a Tragedy has all the same elements as an Epic the Epic poem does not always include elements of Tragedy. Here is the contemporary distinction between epic novels (Gone with the Wind, The Thorn Birds) and tragic family dramas (see: Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller). But the spirit of drama must flow through both, though the parameters & scales differ.

Indeed some of the dogmas have been explained over and over the years by countless English teachers. So it was a relief to find some of the writer’s personal touches in this informative essay, such as his constant distinction between philosophers and mere men, his fanboy affinity to Homer, his fondness for markedly-clear beginnings & endings, how Epic poetry is the “highest” art form (one would imagine that in the modern world Aristotle would have preferred ‘Titanic’ over ‘American Beauty’), and that poetry “is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history.” (Seemingly rudimentary, this is a must for novelists, even though Epic poems and stage Tragedies are long gone. Sadly the later chapters in Aristotle’s “Poetics” are like trips to elementary school English (letters àwords àsentences). That something from 350 BC is still employed in something so vast and, sometimes if we are lucky, so avant garde as literature is both frightening and encouraging.
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,094 followers
August 27, 2020
La Poética de Aristoteles sigue siendo a mi entender el primer ensayo literario de la historia y es gracias a ella y al profundo análisis que el estagitria griego hace de la épica, la tragedia y la epopeya que conocemos la literatura moderna y de la cual se desprende toda concepción de la literatura hoy en día.
Profile Image for david.
436 reviews
December 16, 2018
It is truly astounding, humbling, and semi-surreal to think that after so many years, the continuously strolling and pondering Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is vital and relevant, hundreds of thousands of days after his passing.

To any who claim social progress and technology has changed the world, well I am not so sure.

It appears, time and again, all who we were, are, and will continue to be, is exponentially less significant than we may think.

And it is a wonderful book for playwrights and poets and writers to learn from, even today.

Startling. Instructive. Banal.

Human (even Aristotle).
Profile Image for Mehrdad Khorasani.
59 reviews3 followers
October 21, 2019
اولین اثر در تاریخ که به صورت تخصصی به مسائل زیباشناسی شعر دراماتیک پرداخته. شاید تاثیرگذارترین کتابی که تا به همین امروز روی تئاتر اثر گذاشته بوطیقا باشه. تنها موضوعی که به نظرم مهمه و باید بهش اشاره کنم، ترجمه‌ اثر هستش. متاسفانه در دسترس‌ترین ترجمه این کتاب، ترجمه‌ی آقای زرین‌کوب هستش که به شدت هم ترجمه‌ی ضعیفی هستش. آقایان مجتبایی و افنان هم ترجمه کردند که زیاد چنگی به دل نمی‌زنه. آقای شیرمرز بوطیقا رو از متن یونانی و مستقیم به فارسی ترجمه کرده که بسیار هم ترجمه خوبیه. اما به نظر من بهترین و کاربردی‌ترین ترجمه، ترجمه خانوم اولیایی‌نیا هست.ترجمه‌ی ایشون بسیار روان و دل‌نشین و در عین حال بسیار کاربردی‌ هستش. از بحث‌های اضافی که مطالعه‌ش برای خواننده ضروری نیست رد شده و توضیحات بیشتری روی نکات مهم متن داشته. همچنین یک مقاله هم در ضمیمه داره که عالیه
Profile Image for محمد شکری.
171 reviews136 followers
January 2, 2017
واژه بوطیقا یا پوئتیک به معنای شناخت پوئسیس، یعنی فعالیتی است که آفرینشگری مولفه اصلی آن است. این آفرینشگری در عامترین معنای خود، نه تنها فراتر از شعر، هرگونه آفرینش ادبی را دربر میگیرد، بلکه فراتر از ادبیات، به شناخت هرگونه آفرینش جسمانی هم اشاره دارد. پس تلقی «شعر» از بوطیقا بسیار محدود است. البته معنایی که ارسطو در کتاب «بوطیقا» از این واژه مراد میکند و آنچه امروز به عنوان تلقی بوطیقایی (پوئتیک) از متن رواج دارد تنها به معنای فراخ «ادبیات» مربوط است: چیزی وسیعتر از شعر و محدودتر از صنعت
متون کلاسیک، نسبت به دیگر متون ویژگی خاصی دارند: صدها و هزاران سال تفکر بشری از این آثار، منابع ژرفی از اندیشه «ساخته» است. بوطیقا هم از این اصل مستثنا نیست. شاید خود اثر چندان شما را به وجد نیاورد، اما شروح متمرکز و غیرمتمرکز فلاسفه و متفکرین معاصر از آن، منبعی عظیم از فلسفه ادبیات ساخته است. یکی از این شروح غیرمتمرکز که منبع اصلی آشنایی من با بوطیقای ارسطو بود، جلد اول «زمان و روایت» پل ریکور، فیلسوف معاصر فرانسوی بود. بوطیقای ارسطو برای ریکور، منبع اصلی طرح نظریه هرمنوتیکی «روایت» است. تفاوت محاکات نزد ارسطو و افلاطون، تولیدی بودن و پویا بودن آن و نقش اساسی «پیرنگ سازی» در بوطیقا، از مهمترین نکاتی است که ریکور روی آنها مانور میدهد. ریکور نظریه ارسطو درباره «تراژدی» را به کل روایت ادبی تسری داده و از دل آن، یک نظریه روایت تمام و کمال بیرون میکشد
بجز این نکات، نکات بسیار جالب دیگری نیز میتوان در بوطیقا یافت که بعدها در اندیشه فلاسفه دیگر محرک مطالب ظریفی چه در حوزه ادبیات و چه خارج از آن شده است: اهمیت کنش در برابر شخصیت؛ برتری ادبیات بر تاریخ (بر اساس برتری امر محتمل بر امر وقوع یافته)؛ حضور اخلاق در ادبیات؛ نسبت ادبیات و حقیقت و اهمیت باورپذیری در برابر امکان پذیری در روایت ادبی، از جمله این نکاتند که شرح هر کدام در اندیشه فلاسفه بعدی مفصل است
حیرت آور است که ارسطو، این متفکر بینظیر، چگونه درباره هر موضوعی توانسته به نحوی حقیقتا فلسفی بیاندیشد. ادبیات و سیاست از جمله مهمترین این موضوعاتند که در سنت فلسفه اسلامی ما بدلایل مختلف مغفول ماند

من این ترجمه انگلیسیی را با سه متن فارسی از کتاب خواندم
از بین ترجمه های فارسی ترجمه فراموش شده فتح الله مجتبایی از همه بهتر بود، بعد از آن ترجمه سهیل افنان و نهایتا ترجمه هلن اولیایی را قرار میدهم
ترجمه آخر نه تنها ترجمه غیروفادارانه تری است، بلکه معادل گذاری استاندارد جهانی بندهای کتاب را هم ندارد
Profile Image for María Carpio.
176 reviews46 followers
June 2, 2023
Así es. De aquí sale la tan mencionada estructura aristotélica (la base de la narrativa y la dramaturgia). Lo que hoy nos parecería una obviedad, para el tiempo en el que Aristóteles lo descubre (porque sí, en aquellos años, más de 300 a.C., las cosas se descubrían) era una novedad. Aristóteles analiza el origen de la estructura de la narración, desde el arte poético, que en ese tiempo se trataba de la epopeya (la épica), la comedia y la tragedia, y descubre el sistema a través del cual se ordena este arte, que según Aristóteles, es el arte de la imitación. Pero de la imitación de la realidad que busca ir más allá de la realidad, es decir, mejorarla y dotarle de una coherencia que normalmente no tiene. Y esto es lo que más me ha llamado la atención de La poética; Aristóteles afirma que la realidad suele tener hechos que no se corresponden unos con otros, por lo que carecen en sí mismos de verosimilitud, y que la poesía (y el poeta) en el caso de la épica, o el dramaturgo, en el caso de la tragedia y la comedia, son los encargados de dotarle de esa verosimilitud a los hechos narrados.

En ese tiempo no existía el concepto de la ficción como tal, ni siquiera de la literatura, pero Aristóteles ya los establece al marcar la idea de que la imitación y el suceso de los hechos narrados deben ser creados de tal manera que suenen coherentes y verosímiles aunque no se correspondan con la realidad. Así, también determina al estilo y al artificio poético y lingüístico como uno de los elementos que ayudan a dotar de coherencia a la ficción/imitación. Todo lo que hoy aún seguimos discutiendo sobre el texto literario (que si pesa más el fondo o la forma, que si el estilo prima sobre la historia, que si no hay trabajo del lenguaje no es literatura, etc.) Aristóteles ya lo dejó sentado tres siglos antes de Cristo: hasta lo más disparatado e inverosímil puede tornarse verosímil si hay arte en el poeta, la pluma del escritor lo puede todo, es decir, el artificio. Sin embargo, también establece que sin acción no hay tragedia y que finalmente todo retrato es un retrato de la acción. Así, cita como mayor exponente de este nivel de perfección narrativa a Homero, con lo que todo el análisis que hace de la poética sería una especie de advenimiento de la ficción narrativa y, con ello, de la novela (no de la prosa en sí como estructura del lenguaje, ya que la epopeya es poesía con reglas estrictas, pero sí de lo que subyace al esquema poético). Incluso discute a la crítica generalizada de que la tragedia (griega) era un arte menor; Aristóteles señala que puede ser tan trascendente como la epopeya.

Cabe aclarar que para una mejor comprensión de este texto es preferible tener algún conocimiento o haber leído algo de Sófocles, Eurípides y Homero, pues aunque cita a otros autores, la mayoría de ejemplos que da son de estos tres. Respecto a los tres famosos actos del drama -que en realidad no los nombra como actos- estos son literalmente: el principio, el enlace y el desenlace. De ahí sale todo lo que conocemos hoy en día como estructura narrativa, pues toda intención rupturista o vanguardista ha tenido siempre la intención de trastocar esa esta estructura, pero siempre nace de ella. Aristóteles incluso va más allá y sienta algunos conceptos, entre ellos lo que yo interpretaría como elipsis: aquello que en la narración no se cuenta, pero se supone que ha ocurrido fuera de ella.

Acerca de los personajes sobre los que acaece la tragedia, según Aristóteles no deben ser ni demasiado virtuosos que caigan en mala fortuna -pues eso en vez de lástima causaría indignación- ni demasiado perversos que tienen buena fortuna, porque según él, no cumpliría con los requisitos de la tragedia: que sea humano, lastimoso o terrible. El protagonista perfecto sería aquel que no es aventajado en virtud ni malicia sino que cae en desgracia por un yerro disculpable. También establece la anagnórisis (el reconocimiento entre sí de los personajes) como base de la tragedia (por ejemplo, Edipo reconociendo que se casó con su madre y mató a su padre).

Por otro lado, hace varias relaciones según la lógica de la narrativa poética de la época, como que la tragedia no puede basarse en que un enemigo a mate o dañe a otro enemigo, pues aquello no causa lástima, ni que un neutral dañe a un similar, sino que la tragedia surge cuando las atrocidades se cometen entre personas amigas (familiares, por ejemplo) de forma consciente o inconsciente, aunque según Aristóteles, es mejor que el daño sea hecho, porque si la persona es consciente del daño antes de hacerlo y se frena, entonces ya sería una acción más perversa y menos trágica, ya que nadie padecería (esto para fines dramáticos).

También es interesante el que establezca que el arte de la imitación (la poética) no es lo que es, sino lo que debe ser. Es decir, la ficción es una realidad mejorada y coherente. Sobre la representación (teatral), a la que nombra como "perspectiva", señala que es una de las partes de la tragedia, las otras son la melodía y la dicción. Respecto a la acción, que se estructura en el orden de los sucesos, la llama "fábula". La fábula es "un remedio de la acción". Este es quizás otro concepto análogo a la ficción.

Sobre la comedia (griega) dice que es un retrato de los peores, pero no por sus vicios, sino por algo vergonzoso que sea risible. Concluye que según esta lógica, en el arte de la imitación hay que imitar a los mejores (épica) o a los peores (comedia), aunque también los hay que imitan a los iguales. No obstante, considera que en esta imitación debe haber la voluntad de embellecimiento, aún, paradójicamente, en la vileza de un personaje.

En resumen, lo principal: la fábula, que es el retrato de la acción (pero no es la acción como tal); dentro de la fábula, las peripecias (cambio de la acción por imprevistos) y la anagnórisis (reconocimiento entre personajes). Luego, las costumbres que determinan el carácter de los personajes. Y por último, el dictamen, que para Aristóteles es "la expresión del pensamiento por medio de las palabras", lo cual se podría entender respecto a los diálogos o monólogos interiores. Y por último, la melodía, que sería respecto al ritmo y la cadencia de las palabras. Sobre la perspectiva (en la tragedia) que vendría a ser la puesta en escena, refiere que es menos propia de la poética y "más bien arte del maquinista, que no de los poetas". Poeta entiéndase como escritor. Y es que el teatro griego estaba lleno de máquinas que movían escenografía y personajes, no en vano el célebre "Deus ex machina" (dios baja de la máquina), que si bien no lo nombra como tal en este tratado, sí habla indirectamente de aquello, ya que dice que es justificable que las deidades intervengan en la tragedia, aunque sí crítica la gratuidad para resolver la trama. Para Aristóteles, todo ya debe estar resuelto por la coherencia y verosimilitud del texto (gracias al genio del poeta) y menos por el artificio de la representación.
Profile Image for Anabela Mestre.
94 reviews31 followers
January 15, 2020
Muito interessante esta Poética de Aristóteles. Nela podemos ler ensinamentos para construir obras, quer tragédias, quer comédias. Vários são os seus concelhos para criar um texto e apesar de antigos, continuam no entanto válidos.
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