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Bernays, J. (2004). On Catharsis: From Fundamentals of Aristotle's Lost Essay on the “Effect of Tragedy” (1857). Am. Imago, 61(3):319-341.

(2004). American Imago, 61(3):319-341

On Catharsis: From Fundamentals of Aristotle's Lost Essay on the “Effect of Tragedy” (1857)

Jacob Bernays

Translated by:
Peter L. Rudnytsky

The definition of the essence of tragedy ( ὅρον τῆς οὐσίας

) at the beginning of the sixth chapter of Aristotle's Poetics runs: Ἔστιν … τραγῳδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας καὶ τελείας μέγεθος ἐχούσης, ἡδυσμένῳ λόγῳ χωρὶς ἑκάστῳ τῶν εἰδῶν ἐν τοῖς μορίοις, δρώντων καὶ οὐ δι᾽ ἀπαγγελίας, δι᾽ ἐλέου καὶ φόβου περαίνουσα τὴν τῶν τοιούτων παθημάτων κάθαρσιν. [Tragedy … is the imitation of a good action, which is complete and of a certain length, by means of language made pleasing for each part separately; it relies in its various elements not on narrative but on acting; through pity and fear it achieves the catharsis of such emotions.

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