and it is actions such
as these which, according to our hypothesis, tragedy represents; and, moreover,
misfortune and good fortune are likely to turn upon such incidents.
Now since the
discovery is somebody's discovery, in some scenes one character only is discovered
to another, the identity of the other being obvious; but sometimes each must
discover the other. Thus Iphigeneia was discovered to Orestes through the sending of
the letter, but a separate discovery was needed to make him known to
We see then that two
elements of the plot, reversal and discovery, turn upon these incidents. A third
element is a calamity. Of these three elements we have already described reversal
and discovery. A calamity is a
destructive or painful occurrence, such as a death on the stage, acute suffering and
wounding and so on.
We have already2
spoken of the constituent parts to be used as ingredients of tragedy.
The separable members into which it is quantitatively divided are these: Prologue,
Episode, Exode, Choral Song, the last
being divided into Parode and Stasimon. These are common to all tragedies; songs sung by actors on the stage and "commoi"
are peculiar to certain plays.
A prologue is the whole of that part of a tragedy
which precedes the entrance of the chorus.
An episode is the whole of that
part of a tragedy which falls between whole choral songs. An exode is the whole of that part of a tragedy which is not
followed by a song of the chorus. A
parode is the whole of the first utterance of the chorus. A stasimon is a choral song without anapaests or
A commos is a song of lament shared by
the chorus and the actors on the stage.
The constituent parts to be used as
ingredients of tragedy have been described above; these are the separable members
into which it is quantitatively divided.4
Following upon what
has been said above we should next state what ought to be aimed at and what avoided
in the construction of a plot, and the means by which the object of tragedy may be
achieved. Since then the structure of
the best tragedy should be not simple but complex5
and one that represents incidents arousing fear and
pity—for that is peculiar to this form of art—it is obvious to
begin with that one should not show worthy men passing from good fortune to bad.
That does not arouse fear or pity but shocks our feelings. Nor again wicked people passing from bad fortune to
good. That is the most untragic of all, having none of the requisite qualities,
since it does not satisfy our feelings6
or arouse pity or fear.