Poetics

by

Aristotle

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Spectacle is a component part of tragedy. Spectacle is best understood as the visual effects of a tragedy, and Aristotle argues that it has more to do with “the art of the property-manager” than with the art of the poet. Thus, spectacle is the least important component of tragedy. Nevertheless, spectacle is still a source of pleasure in tragedy and has the ability to bring about catharsis, although Aristotle claims that catharsis from spectacle is less artistic than catharsis produced directly by the events of the plot.

Spectacle Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics quotes below are all either spoken by Spectacle or refer to Spectacle. 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 4 Quotes

So tragedy as a whole necessarily has six component parts, which determine the tragedy’s quality. The medium of imitation comprises two parts, the mode one, and object three; and there is nothing apart from these.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker)
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

It is possible for the evocation of fear and pity to result from the spectacle, and also from the structure of events itself. The latter is preferable and is the mark of a better poet. The plot should be constructed in such a way that, even without seeing it, anyone who hears the events which occur shudders and feels pity at what happens; this how someone would react on hearing the plot of the Oedipus. Producing this effect through spectacle is less artistic, and is dependent on the production. Those who use spectacle to produce an effect which is not evocative of fear, but simply monstrous, have nothing to do with tragedy; one should not seek every pleasure from tragedy, but the one that is characteristic of it. And since the poet should produce the pleasure which comes from pity and fear, and should do so by means of imitation, clearly this must be brought about in the events.

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Oedipus, Sophocles
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Tragedy has everything epic does (and it can even make use of its verse-form), and additionally it has a major component part music and spectacle; this is a source of intense pleasure. […] Also, the end of imitation is attained in shorter length; what is more concentrated is more pleasant than what is watered down by being more extended in time ( I mean, for example, if one were to turn Sophocles’ Oedipus into as many lines as the Iliad has).

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Sophocles, Homer
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
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Spectacle Term Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the term Spectacle appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4. Tragedy: Definition and Analysis
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
4.2 Component Parts. Since imitation is performed by actors in a tragedy, spectacle is a component part of tragedy. Additional components are lyric poetry (song) and diction (the... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
4.3 The Primacy of Plot. Every tragedy, Aristotle repeats, has spectacle, character, plot, diction, lyric poetry, and reasoning; however, plot is the most important component part.... (full context)
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...poetry, or song, is the most important of the “sources of pleasure” within a tragedy. Spectacle (the visual effects of a tragedy) “is attractive,” but it is not artistic and is... (full context)
Chapter 7. The Best Kinds of Tragic Plot
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...Introduction. It is possible for fear and pity (which create catharsis) to result from either spectacle or the events of a plot. It is preferable for catharsis to come from plot,... (full context)
Chapter 10. Epic
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Imitation  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...an epic are the same, too, except an epic does not have lyric poetry or spectacle. An epic should have reversal and recognition, and an epic should make good use of... (full context)
Chapter 12.  Comparative Evaluation of Epic and Tragedy
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
Component Parts and Balance  Theme Icon
...achieve catharsis. “Tragedy has everything that epic does,” Aristotle says—plus, tragedy has lyric poetry and spectacle, which are a “source of intense pleasure.” Additionally, a tragedy is shorter, and “what is... (full context)