Does Aristotle’s schema of the elements of tragedy have any relevance today? Comment.

-for the object of imitation: (forced and full action),

-by the form of imitation: acting of the characters, and not telling, and

-For the special psychological effects of the tragedy, the tragic catharsis.

Aristotle speaks of four kinds of tragedy: the complex, “which is in its entirety peripete and agnition”; the pathetic one; the one of character; and a fourth whose name we do not know. In tragedies differentiates qualitative parts (distinguishing formal parts: song, show, elocution, and parts of content: fable, character and thought) and quantitative parts or external structuring (prologue, episode, choral part and exodus).

cf. Annotations to the Poetics of Aristotle, E. Gallardo (Ed. UNED-Valencia, 2011)

QUALITATIVE OR ESSENTIAL PARTS OF THE TRAGEDY. Aristotle says that “necessarily the parts of every tragedy are six, and through them the tragedy is as it is; and those parts are: fable, characters, elocution, thought, show and melopeya “(1450 a)

to. With reference to the form, according to the means of imitation (or language)

a.1. The song (melopeya) is one of the trappings of the language of tragedy, and some parts of the tragedy are nuanced through single verses, and in others through sung verses (although the sung parts are not consubstantial to the plot or fable).

a.2. The show, present in every tragedy, “is seductive, but very alien to art and less typical of poetry”. Aristotle considers it a non-literary aspect, therefore it is preferable that it is the fable that provokes the effects of tragedy, not the spectacle. The scenographic art is different from the poetic art.

a.3. The elocution is the part of the tragedy related to the form of imitation or performance. It has to do with thought, which is expressed in language. Aristotle distinguishes the non-poetic aspects or modes of elocution, which have to do with the art of the actor, and the properly poetic ones that go beyond intonation and phonetics, similar to what we understand today by style.

cf. Annotations to the Poetics of Aristotle, E. Gallardo (Ed. UNED-Valencia, 2011)

b. With reference to the content, according to the object of imitation (action)

b.1. The fable or structuring of the facts is the main part of the tragedy (followed by the characters and the thought). It must imitate a single and complete action, and its parts must be ordered. The parts of the fable are

-perience, or “change of action in the opposite direction”

-agnition, or “change from ignorance to knowledge, for friendship or hatred, of those destined to happiness or misfortune”.

– Pathetic impact, “destructive or painful action”, such as death on stage, injuries, etc.

The fable must be structured so that the succession of events is credible, and without room for the irrational. It can be simple (when there is a change of fortune “without incident or agnition”) or complex (if “the change of fortune is accompanied by agnition, incidents or both”). A good fable will be better simple than double (Aristotle defends the unity of action).

From the fable derive the effects of tragedy, the catharsis that implies compassion and fear.

b.2. The characters or ways of being and behaving of the characters, are reduced to the effortless man and the man of low quality, the first being the one who dominates in the tragedy, although there can be tragedy without characters -not without fable. For Aristotle the qualities of the characters are goodness (tragedy imitates people better than us), property or convenience, similarity and consistency or consistency in behavior. The character manifests the decision, the attitude before certain situations.

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  1. 2017

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