Greek poet from the 8th century BCE and author of the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey. In several chapters of Poetics, Aristotle references aspects of Homer’s works to illustrate the concepts he wants to convey—particularly in his discussions of epic poetry (although the influence of Homer’s works on subsequent Greek tragedies cannot be overstated). Aristotles’s reliance of examples from Homer is probably partly because everyone in Aristotle’s audience would have been intimately familiar with his poems, but it is also clear from his continual praise of Homer that Aristotle held him in high regard as a poet.


Greek poet who lived from approximately 525 BCE to 455 BCE, and who many consider the first great playwright of the Western tradition. Aeschylus is also called the father of tragedy. This is because—as Aristotle relates in Chapter 4 of Poetics—Aeschylus was the first to add a second actor to plays, which previously had rigidly adhered to a format that included only a chorus and a narrator. This innovation made dialogue the central focus of these works.


Ancient Greek tragedian who lived and wrote about a century before Aristotle. Sophocles’ works—especially Oedipus Rex and Antigone—are referenced by Aristotle throughout Poetics. As with Homer, this is likely because Aristotle’s audience would have been very familiar with these works and because Aristotle found much in the works worthy of citing as good examples. Sophocles is credited with building upon the earlier innovations to plays by Aeschylus by adding a third character as well as background scenery. 


The author of Medea and other tragedies, Euripides was a Greek contemporary of Sophocles, living and writing in the century before Aristotle. His work is cited numerous times in Poetics. In Chapter 12, Aristotle says that Euripides “is felt to be the most tragic of poets,” although he somewhat tempers this comment by adding, “faulty though he may be in the general management of his subject.”