Aristotle’s Poetics is the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory and the first fully intact philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In it, the respected Greek sage offers an account of what he calls "poetry" (which the Greeks understood to literally mean "making"), examining its "first principles" and identifying its genres and basic elements, including what he terms drama-comedy, tragedy, and the satyr play–as well as lyric poetry, epic poetry, and iambic pentameter, which he always associates with wit.
Aristotle's Poetics is best known for its definitions and analyses of tragedy and comedy, but it also applies to truth and beauty as they are manifested in the other arts. In our age, when the natural and social sciences have dominated the quest for truth, it is helpful to consider why Aristotle claimed poetry is more philosophical and more significant than history. Like so many other works by Aristotle, the Poetics has dominated the way we have thought about all forms of dramatic performance in Europe and America ever since. The essence of poetry lies in its ability to transcend the particulars of everyday experience and articulate universals, not merely what has happened but what might happen and what ought to happen.
© Agora Publications
Public Domain (P)2015 Agora, New Internet Technologies