Talk:Poetics (Aristotle)

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Whoever wrote the paragraph about anagnorisis, peripeteia, and pathos has either never read Poetics or has a horrible translation. Anagnorisis leads to or occurs alongside peripeteia, and those two lead to pathos. If the protagonist suffers before he realizes the nature of his condition (the actual meaning of anagnorisis is a realization of the nature of one's prosperity or affliction; it is not some teachable moment akin to Aesop's Fables) then the audience will react with disgust; to punish a good man (the protagonist is "good" until the recognition) is seen as disgusting by Aristotle. Peripeteia is not "unfortunate by reversal of fortune", it is complete reversal of character or condition, usually moving from prosperity to affliction (think Oedipus moving from King of Thebes to blind exile), and peripeteia definitely does not lead to anything but suffering. The protagonist is also never unfortunate, he always brings his fate upon himself through an error in judgment (hamartia). That is why it is tragic, as he unwittingly caused his own doom. To punish someone arbitrarily is not tragic since we may pity them but we will never fear them and a tragedy must evoke both emotions according to Aristotle. (Poetics, Ch. 11)

Basic rewrite: A protagonist will commit an error in judgment (hamartia) which sets off a chain of events that will drive the action of the tragedy. At the height of the conflict, the protagonist will realize that his earlier mistake is the root cause of the current situation or will realize the true nature of his current prosperity (peripeteia), and this realization will lead to the protagonist's fall from prosperity to affliction (anagnorisis), in the process experiencing suffering (pathos). This plot-structure will cause the audience to experience great fear and pity for the protagonist, putting their own emotional levels in to balance at the conclusion of the play (catharsis). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Notes Needed[edit]

Needs specific references to the source.

Need a citation for the claim, 'Aristotle explains that audiences do not like, for example, villains "making fortune from misery" in the end.' Google "fortune from misery" and you'll see that this line has been quoted verbatim all over the internet--yet it does not appear in any translation I have checked of Aristotle's Poetics (including the Butcher and Bywater), nor in any translation indexed by Google. Philgoetz (talk) 04:37, 7 May 2014 (UTC)philgoetz

Terrible piece[edit]

This is completely catastrophic! As unscholarly as can be, written by some child. _Improve it!_

Year of the work?[edit]

In what year was it written? --Leonardo T. de Oliveira 16:53, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

'work' vs 'preserved work'[edit]

From the article:

"The centerpiece of Aristotle's work is his examination of tragedy"

In Ari Hiltunen's book, I read that Aristotle wrote about both tragedy and comedy, but only the parts about tragedy have been preserved. Is this the general scientific consensus? If it is, we should rewrite that sentence in the article to

"The centerpiece of Aristotle's preserved work is his examination of tragedy"

Peter S. 23:15, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

As long as you can cite Hiltunen's book, you should write it...just cite your sources. --In Defense of the Artist 03:14, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

This page needs renamed[edit]

I understand "Poetics" as referring to "theory of poetry," or more generally "theory of literature," or even more generally "theory."[1] For example, look up the word in the Oxford English, Oxford American, American Heritage, or Random House dictionaries.

I think WP needs a "poetics" entry, and I think the name of that entry should be "poetics." I think the name of this entry should be "Aristotle's Poetics", or, if people feel like naming the author results in a certain loss of dignity, then "The Poetics." Does anyone object to my renaming the present page "Aristotle's Poetics" and beginning a "Poetics" stub for the common noun of the same name?

Thanks, Cyrusc 01:06, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

How about: Poetics (Aristotle). That seems to be the common naming convention used on other articles. See Physics (Aristotle), Rhetoric (Aristotle), etc. - Ravenous 06:37, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Yeah Poetics (Aristotle) sounds good. Good catch, Cyrusc. - Barce 00:25, 13 October

2006 (UTC)


  1. ^ Brogan, T.V.F. and Alex Preminger, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics Princeton:Princeton University Press 1993.

Drama, not Poetry[edit]

Just an observation: I think that the opening statement, particularly with the wiki-link, is misleading; although the Poetics does mention lyric and epic poetry in passing, its central concern is a definition of drama, specifically tragedy, not what we would today call 'poetry'. The trouble is that the Greeks through to the Elizabethans and beyond used the word 'poetry' and 'poet' to refer both to the practice and person that we do AND to what we now call 'play' and 'playwright'. The wiki-link to poetry is incorrect, in light of this. The epos and the lyric are mentioned by way of providing a contrast to the drama. He also mentions flute music and dancing, but we wouldn't want to describe the work as an analysis of these media. DionysosProteus 03:57, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Disagree. Epic poetry is not mentioned "in passing"--it is treated at some depth; a not inconsiderable portion of the work is devoted to the epic, followed by a section discussing problems in both tragic and epic forms, and a final sort of debate on the relative merits of tragedy and epic. This just isn't remotely in the same league as the passing mentions of music, dance and painting. Anyway, let the man speak for himself. We have the opening line of the Poetics, thus: "I propose to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds..."-- (talk) 14:00, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

The point is, precisely, that we and he do not mean that same thing by the word, so 'letting him speak for himself' is misleading. You are not seriously suggesting that the proportion between his treatment of drama and that of epic poetry, which is the relation that I identified (rather than with music, dance, painting), is anything other than massively weighted in favour of drama? In comparison with its treatment of drama, that of epic poetry is minor and incidental. DionysosProteus (talk) 16:04, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

You are pleased to respond to me with hostile incredulity ("You are not seriously suggesting..."); I shall attempt to avoid the bait. First, my contention was that the epic was treated at some depth, and did not deserve to be lumped in with lyric poetry, music and dancing, as you seemed eager to do. The edition I have to hand, translated by Malcolm Heath, devotes five pages of 46 exclusively to the epic--nothing of the kind is done for lyric verse, much less for dancing and music. So I don't see how flute music and dancing enter into the discussion. Those forms truly are mentioned "in passing;" epic is not. Saying that epic is only mentioned by way of providing a contrast to drama strikes me as a particularly forced reading. The portion of the text conventionally labeled as the third chapter makes it perfectly plain that Aristotle means to treat three great species of poetry--tragedy, comedy and epic--on reasonably equal footings, and if he seems to spend more time on tragedy than epic, he makes it clear why this is so: "Some of the component parts [of epic and tragedy] are common to both, others are peculiar to tragedy. Consequently anyone who understands...tragedy also understands about epic." And, indeed, in the following "tragedy" chapters, we will find numerous examples drawn from epic. So much of the "tragedy" material is plainly--and explicitly--intended to apply to epic as well. Does tragedy receive more attention? Of course. More affection as well, I would say. "Massively weighted?" These are not words I would use. Neither do I agree that your characterization of the treatment of epic as "incidental" is appropriate. Again, as the third chapter makes explicit, epic is one of the three foci of the project.-- (talk) 00:25, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

The psychological projections are entirely your own. As is that interpretation of the text. The references to the other forms arise from the opening passages--that is why they have entered the discussion. What Aristotle means to do and what he does are not necessarily the same By your own estimation, the analysis of epic constitutes only 10% of the text. It is your suggestion of a a trinity of foci that is strained--even with the occassional example drawn from epic to adjust the 90% on drama estimation, it falls significantly short of the structure you imagine. DionysosProteus (talk) 01:06, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I will make one or two final remarks, and then I am done. I said that ten percent of the text focuses "exclusively" on epic. How you are able to jump from that to the statements you make is a mystery, when Aristotle himself makes perfectly explicit that much of his discussion of the elements tragedy is meant to apply equally to epic, and underlines this by drawing his examples from both forms. It does not even remotely follow that if part of a book treats epic exclusively, then the remainder of the book must treat drama exclusively. As obvious counterexample, the final substantial section of the work, offering a debate of the relative merits of tragedy and epic. And much else besides. So your "90% on drama"--a figure I did not give and would not support--is a splendid example of the false dichotomy, and in fact a delight to encounter in a discussion of a great philosopher.-- (talk) 01:50, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I can't assist you with what you find mysterious, but I can point out that you are promoting an interpretation. The fact that Aristole does not, whatever you understand of his intentions, treat drama and epic poetry on anything like an equal footing is perfectly apparent to anyone that's read the text in question. A great many of the component parts of tragedy, of which the text spends most of its time analysising, are those that it does not have in common with epic. Since the text is lineated, we could even provide an accurate stastical analysis with little difficulty. It was not a false dichotomy, however much you were able to delight yourself at the thought; I had already made the argument that the overwhelming majority of the text treats tragedy. Which it patently does. DionysosProteus (talk) 03:44, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

"Poetry" is the term used in Poetics. If you're going to decry its use and demand it be substituted with "drama" simply because tragic drama is the main focus of Poetics, should we also scrap the name and call the book "Tragic Dramatics"? The fact is that poetry, then and now, is any mimetic art exactly as it was defined by Aristotle. The modern use of "poetry" as a way to describe verse is a colloquialism and not the actual definition from an artistic standpoint. At what point do you draw the line between verse, Shakespeare, musical theatre, and conventional theatre? There is no clear line beyond the use of verse and prose, and no one would argue that most of Shakespeare's plays are "poetry" rather than plays or that some of his plays are only half play and half poetry. The short and sweet of it is that the words and terminology of Poetics (and their established definitions of 2300 years) aren't going to be changed just because you think you have a better way to phrase it. If you don't like it, write your own version and call it something else. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 21 November 2011 (UTC)


The "Influence" section could do with an overhaul; the paragraphs are unconnected. Most importantly, I read that "The Syriac source used for the Arabic translations departed widely in vocabulary from the original Poetics, and it initiated a misinterpretation of Aristotelian thought that continued through the Middle Ages." OK--what departures? what misinterpretation? If the following paragraphs are to answer that, they need to be rewritten to bring out the logical connections.Drmies (talk) 17:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Target audience?[edit]

Is it known, who Aristotle wrote this book for : writers of plays, curious people, his students (...) ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:06, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Content section is badly written, overuses brackets.[edit]

From the article:

agents ("good" or "bad" ...) - human characters who have emotions (and bring moral to actions they do - "good" person kills child = remorse? X "bad" person kills child = just shows his power?) or things of daily life (skull in Hamlet, cake in slapstick comedies...) who have no emotions (humans put emotions on things - girl's father is killed by sword, girl hates swords) ...
consistent - if a person is a soldier, he is unlikely to be scared of blood (if this soldier is scared of blood it must be explained and play some role in the story to avoid confusing the audience); it is also "good" if a character doesn't change opinion "that much" if the play is not "driven" by who characters are, but by what they do (audience is confused in case of unexpected shifts in behaviour [and its reasons, morals ...] of characters)
"consistently inconsistent" - if a character always behaves foolishly it is strange if he suddenly becomes smart; in this case it would be good to explain such change, otherwise the audience may be confused ; also if character changes opinion a lot it should be clear he is a character who has this trait, not real life person, who does - this is also to avoid confusion —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:49, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

My dog could write better[edit]

The organization in this article is atrocious and the English needs serious help. Could someone with more knowledge of the subject than I please fix this? The beginning of the article is choppy and terribly organized, and it sounds like it was written by someone still learning basic English. The language was garbled, and in a complex topic such as this that simply isn't acceptable. I would step up and fix it myself, but I know nothing about Aristotle. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Poorly written[edit]

It seems that the content of this article is fine (though I am not an expert on Poetics), but the formatting and the phrasing of sentences are so disjointed that it's hard to understand the content. It would be nice to see this article up to Wikipedia standards. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thedrtaylor (talkcontribs) 23:00, 27 January 2015 (UTC)