Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1460b.1 Arist. Poet. 1460b.20 (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1461a.1

1460b.20in medicine, say, or whatever it may be; or else some sort of impossibility has been portrayed, but that is not an essential error. These considerations must, then, be kept in view in meeting the charges contained in these objections.

Let us first take the charges against the art of poetry itself. If an impossibility has been portrayed, an error has been made. But it is justifiable if the poet thus achieves the object of poetry—what that is has been already stated—and makes that part or some other part of the poem more striking. The pursuit of Hector is an example of this. [Note] If, however, the object could have been achieved better or just as well without sacrifice of technical accuracy, then it is not justifiable, for, if possible, there should be no error at all in any part of the poem. Again one must ask of which kind is the error, is it an error in poetic art or a chance error in some other field? It is less of an error not to know that a female stag has no horns than to make a picture that is unrecognizable.

Next, supposing the charge is "That is not true," one can meet it by saying "But perhaps it ought to be," just as Sophocles said that he portrayed people as they ought to be and Euripides portrayed them as they are. If neither of these will do, then say, "Such is the tale"; for instance, tales about gods. Very likely there is no advantage in telling them, and they are not true either, but may well be what Xenophanes declared [Note]—all the same such is the tale.



Aristotle, Poetics (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Arist. Poet.].
<<Arist. Poet. 1460b.1 Arist. Poet. 1460b.20 (Greek) >>Arist. Poet. 1461a.1

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