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What was Plato's definition of poetry before Aristotle's definition of poetry, and...

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ocean | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:06 PM via web

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What was Plato's definition of poetry before Aristotle's definition of poetry, and was it influenced by Aristotle?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Because Plato was Aristotle's teacher, it is unlikely that works of Plato directly respond to Aristotle; rather, Aristotle's work was written in response to Plato. Both Aristotle and Plato shared a concern about the moral effect of poetry. For Plato, poetry was morally problematic for two reasons. On the level of content, it showed the gods behaving in an imoral fashion. Formally, it acted by means of imitation, and rather than imitating the forms, only imitated phenomena which themselves imitated forms. For Aristotle, poetry could serve a useful function by using fictional examples to train and purify the emotions.

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