affairs at home are in such a state that his estate is being wasted by suitors and a plot laid against his son, but after being storm-tossed he arrives himself, reveals who he is, and attacks them, with the result that he is saved and destroys his enemies.
That is the essence, the rest is episodes.
In every tragedy there is a complication and a denouement. [Note] The incidents outside the plot and some of those in it usually form the complication, the rest is the denouement.
I mean this, that the complication is the part from the beginning up to the point which immediately precedes the occurrence of a change from bad to good fortune or from good fortune to bad; the denouement is from the beginning of the change down to the end.
For instance, in the Lynceus of Theodectes the complication is the preceding events, and the seizure of the boy, and then their own seizure; and the denouement is from the capital charge to the end. [Note]
Tragedies should properly be classed as the same or different mainly in virtue of the plot, that is to say those that have the same entanglement and denouement. Many who entangle well are bad at the denouement. Both should always be mastered.
There are four varieties of tragedy—the same as the number given for the "elements" [Note]—
first the complex kind, which all turns on reversal and discovery;
the "calamity play" like the stories of Ajax and Ixion;
the "character play" like the Phthian Women [Note] and the Peleus [Note].