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The Nature of Tragedy

The term tragedy1—derived, for reasons now lost, from the Greek words for goat and song—referred to plays with plots that involved fierce conflict and characters that represented powerful forces, both divine and human. Tragedies were written in verse in elevated, solemn language and often based on stories about the violent consequences of the interaction between gods and humans and of conflict among human beings. Tragic plots frequently were mainly constructed from myths, although a few tragedies dealt with contemporary historical events2. The plot of a tragedy often ended with a resolution to the trouble, but only after considerable suffering.

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