Aristotle discusses thought and diction and then moves on to address epic poetry. Whereas tragedy consists of actions presented in a dramatic form, epic poetry consists of verse presented in a narrative form. Tragedy and epic poetry have many common qualities, most notably the unity of plot and similar subject matter. However, epic poetry can be longer than tragedy, and because it is not performed, it can deal with more fantastic action with a much wider scope. By contrast, tragedy can be more focused and takes advantage of the devices of music and spectacle. Epic poetry and tragedy are also written in different meters. After defending poetry against charges that it deals with improbable or impossible events, Aristotle concludes by weighing tragedy against epic poetry and determining that tragedy is on the whole superior.
I echo James and Anom…this is an excellent essay that makes me want to learn more about Aristotle. I was particularly intrigued by the emphasis on developing good habits as the key to living a good life. Yes, that is clearly “common sense” and easily dismissed as “old advice”. But in our current society, we are awash with an overabundance of habit-forming products and devices – some good and some bad. We almost need lessons in how to develop good habits and avoid developing bad habits amid this sometimes overwhelming overabundance. First and foremost, parents and grandparents need to reflect on Aristotle’s philosophy and examine all the habits they have developed as they simultaneously work to instill good habits in their children and grandchildren.