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In at least 200 words for each reading, explain which one of the statements below applies best to three out of the following four readings: Sophocles, Oedipus; Virgil, The Aeneid; Euripides, Medea; Homer, The Iliad. You may use the same or a different statement for each of the three readings.

Do not write out the statement(s); just refer to them by number.

1) “Tragedy is…an imitation of a noble and complete action…and achieves, through the representation of pitiable and fearful incidents, the catharsis of such pitiable and fearful incidents.” (Aristotle 112)

2) “katharsis (Aristotle): In the Poetics, Aristotle used tragedy as an example of katharsis whereby feelings such as pity and fear are gotten rid of (purged) or cleansed (purified) by a vicarious experience of them in a controlled form (the tragedy) and setting (the theatre). The emotion of pity is produced when we see an excellence destroyed, when we see a person of noble stature, with great promise and strong character, fall from a state of happiness and fortune to a state of unhappiness and misfortune. The feeling of fear is aroused when we recognize that a similar downfall may take place in our own lives.” (Angeles 141)

3) “The essence of tragedy is to freely consent to be punished for an inevitable crime, so as to manifest one’s liberty by the very loss of this liberty.” (Szondi 17, citing Schelling)

4) “Tragedy is based on irreconcilable opposition. As soon as there is reconciliation, tragedy disappears.” (Szondi 36, citing Goethe)

5) “A fundamental catalyst of all tragic situations is separation…from a familiar state or loved person…induced by a more or less powerful constraint, by a force more or less despised…” (ibid 38)

6) “No matter what shape or form it takes, what lends to tragedy its uplifting, sublime quality, is that it makes clear to us that the world, and life can really offer no true pleasure, and does not deserve our becoming attached to it; the lesson of tragedy is therefore resignation.” (ibid 40, citing Schopenhauer)

Works Cited

Angeles, Peter A. Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1981.

Aristotle. Poetics. In Classical and Medieval Literary Criticism. Eds. Preminger et al. New York: Ungar, 1974: 108-39.

Szondi, Peter. Essai sur le tragique. [Essay on Tragedy]. Paris: Circé, 2003. My translations.


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