Another point is
that it attains its end with greater economy of length. What is concentrated is
always more effective than what is spread over a long period; suppose, for example,
were to be turned into as many lines as there
are in the
. Again, the art of the epic
has less unity, as is shown by the fact that any one epic makes several tragedies.
The result is that, if the epic poet takes a single plot, either it is set forth so
briefly as to seem curtailed, or if it conforms to the limit of length1
it seems thin and diluted.
In saying that epic has
less unity I mean an epic made up of several separate actions. The Iliad
has many such parts and so
has the Odyssey
, and each by itself has a certain magnitude. And yet
the composition of these poems is as perfect as can be and each of them
is—as far as an epic may be—a representation of a single action.
If then tragedy is superior in
these respects and also in fulfilling its artistic function—for tragedies
and epics should produce not any form of pleasure but the pleasure we have
—then obviously, since it
attains its object better than the epic, the better of the two is tragedy.
suffice for our treatment of tragedy and epic, their characteristics, their species,
their constituent parts, and their number and attributes; for the causes of success
and failure; and for critical problems and their solutions. . . .