Mimesis is the act of creating in someone's mind, through artistic
representation, an idea or ideas that the person will associate with past
experience. Roughly translatable as "imitation," mimesis in poetry is the
act of telling stories that are set in the real world. The events in the story
need not have taken place, but the telling of the story will help the listener
or viewer to imagine the events taking place in the real world.
This word translates almost directly as "error," though it is often rendered
more elaborately as "tragic flaw." Tragedy, according to Aristotle, involves the
downfall of a hero, and this downfall is effected by some error on the part of
the hero. This error need not be an overarching moral failing: it could be a
simple matter of not knowing something or forgetting something.
This word translates as "recognition" or "discovery." In tragedy, it describes
the moment where the hero, or some other character, passes from ignorance to
knowledge. This could be a recognition of a long lost friend or family member,
or it could be a sudden recognition of some fact about oneself, as is the case
often occurs at the climax of
a tragedy in tandem with peripeteia
When dealing with tragedy, this word is usually translated as "plot," but unlike
"plot," mythos can be applied to all works of art. Not so much a matter
of what happens and in what order, mythos deals with how the elements of
a tragedy (or a painting, sculpture, etc.) come together to form a coherent and
unified whole. The overall message or impression that we come away with is what
is conveyed to us by the mythos of a piece.
This word was normally used in ancient Greece by doctors to mean "purgation" or
by priests to mean "purification." In the context of tragedy, Aristotle uses it
to talk about a purgation or purification of emotions. Presumably, this means
that katharsis is a release of built up emotional energy, much like a
good cry. After katharsis, we reach a more stable and neutral emotional
A reversal, either from good to bad or bad to good. Peripeteia often
occurs at the climax of a story, often prompted by anagnorisis.
Indeed, we might say that the peripeteia is the climax of a story:
it is the turning point in the action, where things begin to move toward a
Literally "untying," the lusis is all the action in a tragedy from the
climax onward. All the plot threads that have been woven together in the
desis are slowly unraveled until we reach the conclusion of the play.
Literally "tying," the desis is all the action in a tragedy leading up to
the climax. Plot threads are craftily woven together to form a more and more
complex mess. At the peripeteia, or turning point, these plot threads
begin to unravel in what is called the lusis, or denouement.
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