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[1448a] [1]

Since living persons1 are the objects of representation, these must necessarily be either good men or inferior—thus only are characters normally distinguished, since ethical differences depend upon vice and virtue—that is to say either better than ourselves or worse or much what we are. It is the same with painters. Polygnotus depicted men as better than they are and Pauson worse, while Dionysius made likenesses.2 Clearly each of the above mentioned arts will admit of these distinctions, and they will differ in representing objects which differ from each other in the way here described. In painting too, and flute-playing and harp-playing, these diversities may certainly be found, and it is the same in prose and in unaccompanied verse. For instance Homer's people are "better," Cleophon's are "like," while in Hegemon of Thasos, the first writer of parodies, and in Nicochares, the author of the Poltrooniad, they are "worse."3 It is the same in dithyrambic and nomic poetry, for instance . . . a writer might draw characters like the Cyclops as drawn by Timotheus and Philoxenus.4 It is just in this respect that tragedy differs from comedy. The latter sets out to represent people as worse than they are to-day, the former as better.

A third difference in these arts is the manner in which one may represent each of these objects. [20] For in representing the same objects by the same means it is possible to proceed either partly by narrative and partly by assuming a character other than your own—this is Homer's method—or by remaining yourself without any such change, or else to represent the characters as carrying out the whole action themselves.

These, as we said above, are the three differences which form the several species of the art of representation, the means, the objects, and the manner.

It follows that in one respect Sophocles would be the same kind of artist as Homer, for both represent good men, and in another respect he would resemble Aristophanes, for they both represent men in action and doing things. And that according to some is the reason why they are called "dramas," because they present people as doing5 things. And for this reason the Dorians claim as their own both tragedy and comedy—comedy is claimed both by the Megarians here in Greece, who say that it originated in the days of their democracy, and by the Megarians in Sicily,6 for it was from there the poet Epicharmus7 came, who was much earlier than Chionides and Magnes; and tragedy some of the Peloponnesians claim. Their evidence is the two names. Their name, they say, for suburb villages is κῶμαι—the Athenians call them "Demes"—and comedians are so called not from κωμάζειν, "to revel," but because they were turned out of the towns and went strolling round the villages( κῶμαι).

1 Literally "men doing or experiencing something."

2 Polygnotus's portraits were in the grand style and yet expressive of character(cf. Aristot. Poet. 6.15): Aristophanes aIludes to a Pauson as a "perfectly wicked caricaturist": Dionysius of Colophon earned the name of "the man-painter" because he always painted men and presumably made "good likenesses."

3 Cleophon wrote "epics" (i.e., hexameter poems), describing scenes of daily life in commonplace diction (cf. Aristot. Poet. 22.2): Hegemon wrote mock epics in the style of the surviving Battle of Frog and Mice: of Nicochares nothing is known, but his forte was evidently satire.

4 Both famous dithyramhic poets. There is evidence that Philoxenus treated Polyphemus in the vein of satire: Timotheus may have drawn a more dignified picture.

5 "Drama" being derived from δρᾶν "to do."

6 The inhabitants of Megara Hyblaea.

7 Epicharmus of Cos wrote in Sicily burlesques and "mimes" depicting scenes of daily life. He and Phormis were "originators of comedy" in that they sketched types instead of lampooning individuals (cf. Aristot. Poet. 5.5): of Chionides and Magnes we only know that they were "early" comedians, i.e., in the first half of the fifth century B.C.

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