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Aristotle on the Power of Music in Tragedy

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Against the almost undisputed communis opinio among interpreters of the Poetics, I argue that spectacle in general, and music in particular are of crucial importance in Aristotle’s conception of tragedy. In enhancing the spectators’ emotions of pity and fear, music (i.e. aulos music) contributes to obtaining the pleasure ‘proper’ to tragedy which, as Aristotle says, “comes from pity and fear through mimesis”.

Affiliations: 1: FNRS/Université catholique de Louvain


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