Aristotle : Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.
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... 2009 acting/directing class and "After 2009" Lul Theatre : Aristotle XXI [our modern reading]
Aristotle’s Poetics and ancient dramatic theory [ biblio ] Cambridge Collections Online
Basic (practical) Poetics
... I rarely get to Texture, The 3 Principles of Structure take a semester of applying them before students began to understand how to use it. I have to do it in every 200 level class, and overview in upper division class in order to be sure that they know the Fundamentals of the Poetics.
Aristotle was born in 384 BCE. at Stagirus, a Greek colony and seaport on the coast of Thrace. His father Nichomachus was court physician to King Amyntas of Macedonia, and from this began Aristotle's long association with the Macedonian Court, which considerably influenced his life.
2002 shows: Dangerous Liaisons
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
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A few quotes from the Poetics:
Aristotle, 3 c. DC
Greek Golden Age: 5 c. BC
SummaryMost of Aristotle's comments in the "Poetics" are generally considered descriptive. He sometimes does, however, give his own opinion about what techniques tend to work best. Thus, while he simply observes (for example) that the storylines of most tragedies cover one cycle of the sun, he also expresses his personal preference for works with single versus double plots. Both these comments would later be frozen into law by Renaissance and neoclassical theorists. For details, see Marvin Carlson's "Theories of the Theatre" (Cornell, 1993).
QuestionsRick Jones indicates that Aristotle does not mention 4th century tragedians. Actually, he does refer to some later tragic writers, including Agathon (not technically 4th century perhaps), Chaeremon, Theodectes, Astydamus (I don't recall whether father or son), and Carcinus. Aristotle is very much a fourth-century writer. At the risk of appearing immodest (which I undoubtedly am), see my article in TRI 22 (1997) on the Aristotelian Theatrrical Paradigm. * Ron Vince
NotesI think others have taken up the prescriptive / descriptive issue. But just for clarification, what The History of Theatre says is: "Aristotle referred to the theatre in several of his works, but his major ideas are set forth in the Poetics (c. 335 323), the first systematic treatise on drama. In addition to its discussion of tragedy, the Poetics contains in its early chapters the oldest surviving history of dramatic forms. While preparing this work, Aristotle is said to have compiled a record of the plays and winners at all the festivals, a major source of information for subsequent Greek and Roman historians, only fragments of which now survive.
Aristotle s influence has been especially great on critical theory, for his Poetics has been crucial in practically all discussions of tragedy since the sixteenth century, when it first became widely known. Because many of Aristotle s ideas are stated cryptically, however, the Poetics has been interpreted variously. It must be read with great care if it is to be helpful. Aristotle states in the Poetics that every drama has six parts: plot, character, thought, diction, music, and spectacle. He discusses unity of action, probability, the requirements of plot, characteristics of the tragic hero, problems of diction, and many other topics. His conclusions continue to be informative and controversial."
Later, however, the text does say:
"Where Aristotle had invented dramatic criticism with Poetics (c. 335 323), the Roman writer Horace would be content to provide a manual for the writing of good plays in his The Art of Poetry (c. 19 B.C.E.)." and I think you will find that it is most common to talk about Aristotle's work as descriptive of what makes a good tragedy and to talk of the work of Horace as prescriptive of how to make a good tragedy. The scholars of the Renaissance, therefor, could be said to have interpreted Aristotle as if he were Horace. This is an argument that certainly fits into what I see in the works but I do not think it can be said to be universally agreed on by scholars in the field of Classics. * Frank J. Hildy
Poetics (Dover Thrift Editions) Among the most influential books in Western civilization, the Poetics is really a treatise on fine art. It offers seminal ideas on the nature of drama, tragedy, poetry, music and more, including such concepts as catharsis, the tragic flaw, unities of time and place and other rules of drama. This inexpensive edition enables readers to enjoy the critical insights of one humanity’s greatest minds laying the foundations for thought about the arts. $1.50
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Aristotle (384-322 BCE.): Poetics
Aristotle's Poetics by Patrick Atherton, John Baxter, George Whalley, Aristotle; McGill-Queens University Press, 1997
Aristotle's Poetics: A Course of Eight Lectures by Colin Hardie, Humphry House; Greenwood Press, 1978
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Stucture & Texture
imitation of action, not action?
Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these -- thought and character -- are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all success or failure depends. Hence, the Plot is the imitation of the action -- for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever a statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality -- namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song. Two of the parts constitute the medium of imitation, one the manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the fist.
These elements have been employed, we may say, by the poets to a man; in fact, every play contains Spectacular elements as well as Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought.
But most important of all is the structure of the incidents. For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality. Now character determines men's qualities, but it is by their actions that they are happy or the reverse. Dramatic action, therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character: character comes in as subsidiary to the actions. Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of a tragedy; and the end is the chief thing of all. Again, without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be without character. (Poetics VI)
Third in order is Thought -- that is, the faculty of saying what is possible and pertinent in given circumstances.
4. Diction and/or language
5. Song (melody)
we may say that the proper magnitude is comprised within such limits, that the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad. (Poetics VII)
Unity of plot does not, as some persons think, consist in the unity of the hero. For infinitely various are the incidents in one man's life which cannot be reduced to unity; and so, too, there are many actions of one man out of which we cannot make one action. (Poetics VIII)
the plot, being an imitation of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed. For a thing whose presence or absence makes no visible difference, is not an organic part of the whole. (Poetics VIII)
It is, moreover, evident from what has been said, that it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen--what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. (Poetics IX)
Of all plots and actions the episodic are the worst. I call a plot 'episodic' in which the episodes or acts succeed one another without probable or necessary sequence. (Poetics IX)
But again, Tragedy is an imitation not only of a complete action, but of events inspiring fear or pity. Such an effect is best produced when the events come on us by surprise; and the effect is heightened when, at the same time, they follows as cause and effect. The tragic wonder will then be greater than if they happened of themselves or by accident; for even coincidences are most striking when they have an air of design. (Poetics IX)
Reversal of the Situation is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity. (Poetics XI)
Recognition, as the name indicates, is a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by the poet for good or bad fortune. The best form of recognition is coincident with a Reversal of the Situation, as in the Oedipus. (Poetics XI)
Two parts, then, of the Plot -- Reversal of the Situation and Recognition -- turn upon surprises. A third part is the Scene of Suffering. The Scene of Suffering is a destructive or painful action, such as death on the stage, bodily agony, wounds, and the like. (Poetics XI)
for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves. (Poetics XIII)
Every tragedy falls into two parts -- Complication and Unraveling or Denouement. Incidents extraneous to the action are frequently combined with a portion of the action proper, to form the Complication; the rest is the Unraveling. By the Complication I mean all that extends from the beginning of the action to the part which marks the turning-point to good or bad fortune. The Unraveling is that which extends from the beginning of the change to the end.
There are four kinds of Tragedy: the Complex, depending entirely on Reversal of the Situation and Recognition; the Pathetic (where the motive is passion); the Ethical (where the motives are ethical) . The fourth kind is the Simple.
In speaking of a tragedy as the same or different, the best test to take is
the plot. Identity exists where the Complication and Unraveling are the same.
Many poets tie the knot well, but unravel it Both arts, however, should always
Again, the poet should remember what has been often said, and not make an Epic structure into a tragedy- by an Epic structure I mean one with a multiplicity of plots...
As to that poetic imitation which is narrative in form and employs a single meter, the plot manifestly ought, as in a tragedy, to be constructed on dramatic principles. It should have for its subject a single action, whole and complete, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It will thus resemble a living organism in all its unity, and produce the pleasure proper to it.
Tragic art, then, as a whole, stands to Epic in the same relation as the younger to the elder actors. So we are told that Epic poetry is addressed to a cultivated audience, who do not need gesture; Tragedy, to an inferior public. Being then unrefined, it is evidently the lower of the two. (XXVI) but since Epic poetry could be included in, Tragedy is a superior form.2007 -- see other classes!
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