Translated by S. H. Butcher
I PROPOSE to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds,
noting the essential quality of each, to inquire into the structure of
the plot as requisite to a good poem
the parts of which a poem is composed
else falls within the same inquiry. Following, then, the order of
nature, let us begin with the principles which come first.
Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic poetry, and the
music of the flute and of the lyre in most of their forms, are all
in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ,
however, from one another in three respects- the medium, the
objects, the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.
For as there are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit,
imitate and represent various objects through the medium of color
and form, or again by the voice
as a whole, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or
harmony,' either singly or combined.
Thus in the music of the flute and of the lyre, 'harmony' and rhythm
alone are employed
pipe, which are essentially similar to these. In dancing, rhythm alone
is used without 'harmony'
emotion, and action, by rhythmical movement.
There is another art which imitates by means of language alone,
and that either in prose or verse- which verse, again, may either
combine different meters or consist of but one kind- but this has
hitherto been without a name. For there is no common term we could
apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus and the Socratic dialogues
on the one hand
elegiac, or any similar meter. People do, indeed, add the word 'maker'
or 'poet' to the name of the meter, and speak of elegiac poets, or
epic (that is, hexameter) poets, as if it were not the imitation
that makes the poet, but the verse that entitles them all to the name.
Even when a treatise on medicine or natural science is brought out
in verse, the name of poet is by custom given to the author
Homer and Empedocles have nothing in common but the meter, so that
it would be right to call the one poet, the other physicist rather
than poet. On the same principle, even if a writer in his poetic
imitation were to combine all meters, as Chaeremon did in his Centaur,