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[1455a] [1] An example of this is the scene in the Cyprians by Dicaeogenes; on seeing the picture he burst into tears1: and again in the "Tale of Alcinous,"2 hearing the minstrel he remembered and burst into tears; and thus they were recognized. The fourth kind results from an inference; for instance, in the Choephoroe "Someone like me has come; but nobody is like me except Orestes; therefore he has come." And there is Polyidus's3 idea about Iphigeneia, for it is likely enough that Orestes should make an inference that, whereas his sister was sacrificed, here is the same thing happening to him. And in Theodectes' Tydeus that "having come to find a son, he is perishing himself." And the scene in the Phineidae, where on seeing the spot the women inferred their fate, that they were meant to die there for it was there that they had been exposed.4

There is also a kind of fictitious discovery which depends on a false inference on the part of the audience, for instance in Odysseus the False Messenger, he said he would recognize the bow, which as a matter of fact he had not seen, but to assume that he really would reveal himself by this means is a false inference.5

Best of all is the discovery which is brought about directly by the incidents, the surprise being produced by means of what is likely—take the scene in Sophocles' Oedipus or in the Iphigeneia—for it is likely enough that she should want to send a letter. These are the only discovery scenes which dispense with artificial tokens, like necklaces.6 [20] In the second place come those that are the result of inference.

In constructing plots and completing the effect by the help of dialogue the poet should, as far as possible, keep the scene before his eyes. Only thus by getting the picture as clear as if he were present at the actual event, will he find what is fitting and detect contradictions. The censure upon Carcinos is evidence of this. Amphiaraos was was made to rise from a temple. The poet did not visualize the scene and therefore this escaped his notice, but on the stage it was a failure since the audience objected.7 The poet should also, as far as possible, complete the effect by using the gestures. For, if their natural powers are equal, those who are actually in the emotions are the most convincing; he who is agitated blusters and the angry man rages with the maximum of conviction.8 And that is why poetry needs either a sympathetic nature or a madman,9 the former being impressionable and the latter inspired.

The stories, whether they are traditional or whether you make them up yourself,

1 Teucer, returning to Salamis in disguise and seeing a portrait of his dead father Telamon, burst into tears and was thus discovered. So, too, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona Julia is discovered because she swoons on hearing Valentine offer Sylvia to his rival.

2 Hom. Od. 8.521ff.

3 A Sophist who either wrote an Iphigeneia with this denouement or more probably suggested in a work of criticism (cf. Aristot. Poet. 17.6) that Orestes on being led to his fate should speculate aloud upon the odd coincidence that both he and his sister should be sacrificed, thus revealing his identity to Iphigeneia. Like most critics, Polyidos would have been a poor dramatist. There is an example of this form of discovery in the French opera Coeur de Lion, where the old knight says "goddam" and is thus discovered to be an Englishman.

4 In these cases the inference was presumably uttered aloud and hence the identity of the speakers discovered. Nothing else is known of these plays.

5 The text is obscure, and our ignorance of the play or rhapsody adds to the darkness, but the reference may be to the ruse, common in detective stories, of misleading the audience by false clues in order to make the final revelation more effective.

6 The classical example of these tokens in English drama is "the strawberry mark on the left arm" in Box and Cox. But Aristotle seems here to use "tokens" in a wider sense than at the beginning of the chapter and to include not only birthmarks, necklaces, etc., but any statement or action which may be used as a sign in the scene of Discovery.

7 The example is obscure. Clearly Carcinus introduced an absurdity which escaped notice until the play was staged. Margoliouth suggests that if Amphiaraus were a god he should come down, and if a mere hero, he sould not have a temple. In The Master of Ballantrae Mrs. Henry cleans a sword by thrusting it up to the hilt in the ground—which is iron-bound by frost. The would be noticed on the stage: a reader may miss the incongruity.

8 Sir Joshua Reynolds used thus to simulate emotion before a mirror. In his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth says that the Poet will wish "to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes . . . and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs." See also Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful,4. 4.

9 "Genius to madness near allied" is the meaning of μανικός as used here. Plato held that the only excuse for a poet was that he couldn't help it.

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