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Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπεδαίας, &c. • Tragædia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per “ misericordiain et metum perficiens talium
56 affectuum lustrationem."
Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is called Tragedy.
purge the mind
been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems : therefore said by Aristotle to be of power, by raising pity and fear, or terror, to
those and such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his affertion: for so in physic things of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholy, four against four, salt to remove falt humors. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The Apoftle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the text of Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33. and Paræus, commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole book as a tragedy, into acts distinguish'd each by a chorus of heavenly harpings and fong between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have labor'd not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that honor Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, than before of his attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæfar also had begun his Ajax, but, unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinish'd. Seneca the philosopher is by some thought the author of those tragedies (at least the best of them) that go under that name. Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not unbefeeming the sanctity of his person to write a tragedy, which is intitled Christ suffering. This is mention'd to vindicate tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common interludes; hap'ning through the poets error of intermixing comic stuff with tragic fad