Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics Greek Terms in the Poetics

Aristotle uses a number of Greek terms in The Poetics that have become a part of our literary lexicon. Review the terms below and think of examples of texts that use each one.

Anagnorisis: recognition by the tragic hero of some truth about his or her identity or actions that accompanies the reversal of the situation in the plot (peripeteia).

antistrophe: the second section of the chorus

Deux ex machina: the intervention of an unexpected or invented character, device or event to resolve a plot

Aristotle is disdainful of deux ex machina as a device to resolve plot situations in tragedy, as a tragedy must unravel because of the inner logic of the piece - not from a sudden intervention of the Gods (or the author).

Denouement: the unraveling of the plot following the climax; often begins immediately once the peripeteia passes

Dithyramb: choral poetry (that eventually evolved into the choral song)

Episodion: an 'episode' of plot; not part of an organic, determinate structure; usually significant of an indeterminate structure

epode: the third section of the choral interlude

Hamartia: the hero's tragic 'flaw' or 'frailty' that leads to his demise

Mimesis: another term for poetic imitation

Pathos: the pity and fear that a poet uses to create catharsis, the purgation of emotions, in an audience for a tragedy

strophe: the first movement of the choral interlude

Telos: represents the 'essence' or unity of a given plot