Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
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1459b.1for example, of the Cypria and the Little Iliad. [Note] The result is that out of an Iliad or an Odyssey only one tragedy can be made, or two at most, whereas several have been made out of the Cypria, and out of the Little Iliad more than eight, e.g. The Award of Arms, Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, Eurypylus, The Begging, The Laconian Women, The Sack of Troy, and Sailing of the Fleet, and Sinon, too, and The Trojan Women.

The next point is that there must be the same varieties of epic as of tragedy [Note]: an epic must be "simple or complex," [Note] or else turn on "character" or on "calamity." The constituent parts, too, are the same with the exception of song and spectacle. Epic needs reversals and discoveries and calamities, and the thought and diction too must be good. All these were used by Homer for the first time, and used well. Of his poems he made the one, the Iliad, a "simple" story turning on "calamity," and the Odyssey a "complex" story—it is full of "discoveries"—turning on character. Besides this they surpass all other poems in diction and thought.

Epic differs from tragedy in the length of the composition and in metre. The limit of length already given [Note] will suffice—it must be possible to embrace the beginning and the end in one view,



Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1459a.20 Arist. Poet. 1459b.1 (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1459b.20

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