Difference between Tragedy and Epic according to Aristotle

Aristotle defines tragedy as, “the imitation of an action, serious, complete, and of certain magnitude, in a language beautiful in different parts with different kinds of embellishments, through action and not narration, and through scenes of pity and fear bringing about the catharsis of these emotions.

According to Aristotle, an Epic is a narrative poem written in heroic hexa-metre. It has four constituent parts namely plot , character, thought, and diction. The story, as in tragic, must have a beginning , a middle and an end, and the parts must be subordinate and coherent to the whole

Epic and tragedy are similar in as much as both of them represent serious action of serious characters. They do so in a grand or elevated style. However, the differences between two forms are several.

  • In dramatic poetry, the dramatic personages act the story, in epic poetry, a poet like Homer narrates the story, as well as tells it through a dialogue between assumed characters. He uses both the narrative and dramatic method: tragedy only the dramatic.
  • Epic uses only one meter, ‘the heroic’, while tragedy can use different meters in different situations.
  • Epic is much longer than Tragedy because its actions is not confined by time or place.
  • Spectacle and melody are parts of tragedy, but they are not parts of epic.

Aristotle considers Tragedy over the epic as all the elements of an epic are found in tragedy, but all the elements of tragedy are not found in the epic.

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