Poetics

by

Aristotle

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Comedy is one of the five forms of poetry. According to Aristotle, comedy is an imitation of inferior people; however, that is not to say characters in comedies are inferior in every way. A comedy is a play that depicts some sort of “laughable error” or disgrace that, in turn, elicits some emotion in the audience, such as embarrassment or delight. A comedy does not evoke fear or pity from the audience, as these emotions are particular to tragedy. Poetics does not include a detailed criticism of comedy, as Aristotle’s assessment of comedy is thought to be in a part of the manuscript that did not survive antiquity.

Comedy Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics quotes below are all either spoken by Comedy or refer to Comedy. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poetics published in 1997.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Let us discuss the art of poetry in general and its species—the effect which each species of poetry has and the correct way to construct plots if the composition is to be of high quality, as well as the number and nature of its component parts, and any other questions that arise within the same field of enquiry. We should begin, as it natural, by taking first principles first.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Epic poetry and the composition of tragedy, as well as comedy and the arts of dithyrambic poetry and (for the most part) of music for pipe or lyre, are all (taken together) imitations. They can be differentiated from each other in three respects: in respect of their different media of imitation, or different objects, or a different mode (i.e. a different manner).

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Comedy Term Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the term Comedy appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2. Poetry as a Species of Imitation
Imitation  Theme Icon
Epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and music by pipe or lyre are all forms of imitation, Aristotle says,... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Some arts, including dithyrambic poetry, tragedy, and comedy, combine the use of rhythm, melody, and language. The only differences among these arts is... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
...of Thasos imitates those who are worse. This distinction is the difference between tragedy and comedy: tragedies imitate people who are better than people in general, whereas comedies imitate those who... (full context)
Chapter 3. The Anthropology and History of Poetry
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
However, Homer also wrote lampoons, and Homer’s Margites is as important to comedy as the Iliad and the Odyssey are to tragedy. When comedy and tragedy first emerged,... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...he does note that tragedy was born from improvisation. The same can be said for comedy; however, tragedy came specifically from dithyrambic poetry. From there, tragedy was enhanced and transformed into... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
3.4 Comedy. Aristotle argues that comedy is the imitation of inferior people but that such people are not inferior in every... (full context)
Chapter 5. Plot: Basic Concepts
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...poetry is universal, it is more serious and philosophical than history. The plot of a comedy, for instance, is constructed based on probabilities, and then characters are selected. This process is... (full context)
Chapter 7. The Best Kinds of Tragic Plot
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...that should come from tragedy (that is, fear and pity). This structure is more like comedy, Aristotle argues, in which enemies resolve their differences (even bitter enemies like Orestes and Aegisthus... (full context)