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Aristotle, in his Poetics, introduces his discussion of catharsis in his famous definition of tragedy, claiming that tragedy, by means of fear and pity affects a "catharsis of the pathemata". Because the term is used without a great deal of explanation in the Poetics (a text that is somewhat fragmentary in its present form), scholars do not have a conclusive and complete account of the nature of catharsis in Aristotle's Poetics. The term catharsis can mean either purgation or purification, and the grammatical case of pathemata (genitive) allows the phrase to be interpreted either as making the pathemata (emotions in the sense of things suffered) more pure or as eliminating in some way those emotions.
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