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Poetry and Biology : the anatomy of tragedy.

Capra, Andrea (2020) 'Poetry and Biology : the anatomy of tragedy.', in The poetics in Its Aristotelian context. London: Routledge, pp. 183-205. Routledge monographs in classical studies.


Aristotle is usually fond of pointing to other works of his, thus creating a rich network of cross-references that help situate a given work within his “encyclopedia.” Apart from the five references in the Rhetoric, Aristotle cites the Poetics only another time, in an important passage towards the end of the Politics. Style and thought pop up in reverse order a few lines later, which makes them a whole of sorts. To summarize: tragedy is the most important form of poetry, and muthos is the most important part of tragedy. The idea is further developed a few lines later: And so, the muthos is the first principle and, so to speak, the soul of tragedy, while characterization is the element of second importance. An analogous point holds for painting: a random distribution of the most attractive colours would never yield as much pleasure as a black-and-white sketch. The implication is that written works can be construed as dead images.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Poetics in Its Aristotelian Context on 18 March 2020 available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:09 December 2019
Date of first online publication:18 March 2020
Date first made open access:18 September 2021

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