Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
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1455a.1An example of this is the scene in the Cyprians by Dicaeogenes; on seeing the picture he burst into tears [Note]: and again in the "Tale of Alcinous," [Note] hearing the minstrel he remembered and burst into tears; and thus they were recognized. The fourth kind results from an inference; for instance, in the Choephoroe "Someone like me has come; but nobody is like me except Orestes; therefore he has come." And there is Polyidus's [Note] idea about Iphigeneia, for it is likely enough that Orestes should make an inference that, whereas his sister was sacrificed, here is the same thing happening to him. And in Theodectes' Tydeus that "having come to find a son, he is perishing himself." And the scene in the Phineidae, where on seeing the spot the women inferred their fate, that they were meant to die there for it was there that they had been exposed. [Note]

There is also a kind of fictitious discovery which depends on a false inference on the part of the audience, for instance in Odysseus the False Messenger, he said he would recognize the bow, which as a matter of fact he had not seen, but to assume that he really would reveal himself by this means is a false inference. [Note]

Best of all is the discovery which is brought about directly by the incidents, the surprise being produced by means of what is likely—take the scene in Sophocles' Oedipus or in the Iphigeneia—for it is likely enough that she should want to send a letter. These are the only discovery scenes which dispense with artificial tokens, like necklaces. [Note] 1455a.20 In the second place come those that are the result of inference.

In constructing plots and completing the effect by the help of dialogue the poet should, as far as possible, keep the scene before his eyes. Only thus by getting the picture as clear as if he were present at the actual event, will he find what is fitting and detect contradictions. The censure upon Carcinos is evidence of this. Amphiaraos was was made to rise from a temple. The poet did not visualize the scene and therefore this escaped his notice, but on the stage it was a failure since the audience objected. [Note] The poet should also, as far as possible, complete the effect by using the gestures. For, if their natural powers are equal, those who are actually in the emotions are the most convincing; he who is agitated blusters and the angry man rages with the maximum of conviction. [Note] And that is why poetry needs either a sympathetic nature or a madman, [Note] the former being impressionable and the latter inspired.

The stories, whether they are traditional or whether you make them up yourself,



Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1454b Arist. Poet. 1455a (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1455b

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