Aristotle's Poetics is one of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history. A penetrating, near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, it demonstrates how the elements of plot, character and spectacle combine to produce 'pity and fear' - and why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. It introduces the crucial concepts of mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis, which have informed serious thinking about drama ever since. It examines the mythological heroes, idealized yet true to life, whom Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides brought on to the stage. And it explains how the most effective plays rely on complication and resolution, recognitions and reversals. Essential reading for all students of Greek literature and of the many Renaissance and post-Renaissance writers who consciously adopted Aristotle as a model, the Poetics is equally stimulating for anyone interested in theatre today.