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Sophocles and Aristotle The Rules of Writing Writing particularly story writing is an art When a person sets out to create a painting there are certain rules of composition that need to be followed In the art of writing it is the same There are rules of composition for writing and they must be followed by the writer Some of these rules date back to Aristotle who set down some rules for classical drama in his Poetics a collection of class notes in which Aristotle attempted to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds 1028 These rules adhered to by great writers for centuries were preceded by at least one great classical work Sophocles Oedipus the King Interestingly even though Oedipus the King came before Poetics Sophocles play illustrates Aristotles rules for classical drama Oedipus the King particularly displays a tragic emotion a tragic character and a tragic fall according to Aristotles rules Aristotle says that a tragedy should imitate actions which excite pity and fear this being the distinctive mark of tragic imitation 1036 There is certainly little as pitiful as Jocastas anguish as she begins to suspect the truth about the man she has loved Sophocles 1317-1342 Of course the most profoundly pathetic scene in Oedipus the King occurs off stage in the bed chamber of the King and Queen There as described by the servant Oedipus discovers Jocastas body where she hung herself from a rafter He then takes the broaches from Jocastas dress and stabs his eyes with the sharp pins on the back of the broaches over and over until his eyes were pulp 1600-1637 This is certainly sufficient to in Aristotles words excite pity 1036 Aristotle also describes a tragic character a hero of sorts who is a good and virtuous person but who destroys himself by a particular flaw or error 1036 In Oedipus the King Oedipus is just such a character He
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