Ideas and Forms of Tragedy from Aristotle to the Middle Ages

Kelly, H. A. Ideas and Forms of Tragedy from Aristotle to the Middle Ages. Cambridge, 1993.


“In any modern discussion of tragedy, Aristotle ¬†almost always has some role to play, whether on center stage or whispering from the wings. But the poetics was not known to Latin antiquity and it was badly misunderstood or neglected when it finally came to light in the 13th century. And since our present enterprise is primarily concerned not with what we think about tragedy (or with what we think Aristotle thought about tragedy), but rather with what was thought about tragedy in the Middle Ages, we shall not have to be much concerned with Aristotle’s views.

But there are, I think, good reasons for taking a brief look at the contents of the poetics: 1st to dispel widespread misapprehensions of Aristotle’s generic views on tragedy, and 2nd to provide ourselves with a basis of comparison with Latin poetic theory. We shall in fact, be able to see that Aristotle’s broadest characterization of tragedy was transmitted to Latin by his disciple Theophrastus, as witnessed explicitly by the grammarian Diomedes.”