Aristotle's Definition of Tragedy

  imitation button action serious complete magnitude language embellished parts of the ply persons performing pity ad fear purification tragic acts  


μέγεθος / magnitude or bulk


Magnitude in tragedy deals quite simply with the length of the play. According to Aristotle, it should be long enough to make inroads into a spectator's consciousness, and, unlike epic poetry, short enough to be perceived as a whole. Magnitude, then, compliments completeness, the characteristic of tragedy that accompanies it in his definition of tragedy. Wholeness is a quality that Aristotle extols at greater length in his discussion of the role of the plot in a tragedy. Here, he principally considers it in relationship to his aesthetic principle that beauty is a function of the relationship of the parts of a work of art to each other and to the whole of the work.