Phrase: The Poet's Function

"...the poet's function is to describe, not the thing that has happened, but a kind of thing that might happen; i.e. what is possible as being probable or necessary." (page 234, ln 36-39)

To understand this phrase and why it is important to the reading, one must first understand "poet," as defined by Aristotle. When he speaks of poetry, he references epic poetry like the Odyssey. Therefore, since epic poetry was meant for performance, one could equate "poet" to "playwright." Aristotle tells us that the poet's purpose is to tell a story- not one that is purely a factual report of actions, but a tale that would touch the audience. Theatre, according to Aristotle, must transcend a simple story and become something that will impact those who hear or see it. It must impart a lesson and leave the audience with something more than what they had before they partook in the experience.

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