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Classical Greek Mythology

The Dramas of Ancient Athens

What elements of tragedy did Aristotle emphasize?

Aristotle said that the most important aspect of tragedy was plot (mythos)—an appropriate beginning, middle, and end extricated from any given heroic story line. The plot, involving a process by which the hero makes a mistake, endures a major reversal of fortune, and finally participates in some sort of resolution, arouses pity and at the same time fear in the audience, thus providing it, through emotional identification (a kind of Dionysian intoxication) with the hero’s plight, with a communal purgation or catharsis. An equivalent process would be any religious ceremony in which the audience or congregation participates emotionally and spiritually in the ritualized plot (mythos) of the given religion’s hero figure and through that ceremony achieves an ethical understanding and renewal.



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