What is tragedy?Focus on Renaissance.


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The English Renaissance was the beginning of a revival of the Aristotelian concept of tragedy,  but mediated through a complex reception history.

Aristotle's "Poetics" considered a tragedy to be a drama, operating by means of mimesis, composed in verse, that portrayed a single action of a certain magnitude, in which a great person inexorably fell into misfortune, and which achieved as its end a purification of the audience's emotions.

The "Poetics" was brought to the Latin west mainly through Herman the German's Latin translation of the Muslim Averroes' Middle Commentary on the "Poetics", in which tragedy was assimilated to rhetoric as epideictic, and consisted of the art of praise, and used the "poetic syllogism." In the medieval tradition, poetry was considered a part of ethics, as seen as a branch of practical wisdom.

The Renaissance read Aristotle's "Poetics" primarily as an ethical text and saw tragedy as a genre that praised great but flawed characters, in order to train the emotions of the audience.

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