Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics Character List


Aeschylus is the author of the frequently-cited Oresteia, a play trilogy which includes Agamemnon. Aristotle attributes Aeschylus with a number of important innovations in the theater, including introducing a second actor, diminishing the importance of the chorus, and focusing on dialogue rather than music or dance (both of which were important elements in Ancient Greek theater). But Aristotle also faults Aeschylus, arguing that the playwright did not create a distinct poetic language.


Aristotle refers to the tragedian Euripides - the author of Medea, The Bacchae, and over seventy other plays of which only nineteen have survived - as a master of plot. Aristotle comes to Euripides' defense often in the Poetics, saying that though critics censured his work as morose, his plays were often the best because they were the 'most tragic.' Aristotle conceives of the tragic effectin Euripedes' plays as flowing from the inner logic of their plots, which always included a fall from good fortune to bad.


Sophocles is the author of Oedipus, and considered by Aristotle the master of the tragedy. He draws men 'as they ought to be,' and creates a higher view of humans. Aristotle compares Sophocles to Homer for his tendency to idealize humanity. The playwright is also credited with raising the number of actors on the stage to three, and with adding scene-painting as a part of spectacle.