Poetics: Chapter 5 - Full Text

Also Read

A comparison of the Epic, the Tragedy, and the Comedy.

      As for Comedy, it is (as has been observed) an imitation of men worse than the average (or of a lower type); worse, however, not as regards any and every sort of fault, but only as regards one particular kind, the Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous or ugly may be defined as an instability or deformity but not productive of harm to others; the mask, for instance, that excites laughter, is something ugly and distorted but without causing pain.

      Though the successive changes in Tragedy and their author are not unknown, we cannot say the same of Comedy; its early stages passed unnoticed because it was not yet taken up in a serious way.

      Epic poetry agrees with Tragedy to the extent, it is an imitation of serious subjects in a grand kind of verse. It differs from it, however, (1) in that it is in one kind of verse and in narrative form; and (2) in its length - which is due to its action having no fixed limit of time, whereas Tragedy endeavours to keep, as far as possible, within a single circuit of the sun, or something near that. This, I say, is another point of difference between them, though at first it was adhered to in tragedies as well as in epic poems. They differ also (3) in their constituents, some being common to both and others peculiar to Tragedy-hence a judge of good and bad in Tragedy is a judge of epic poetry also. All the elements of an Epic are included in Tragedy; but those of Tragedy are not all to be found in the Epic.

Previous Post Next Post