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Ariftot. Poet. Cap. 6.

Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπυδαΐας, &c.

Tragoedia eft imitatio actionis feriæ, &c. per
"mifericordiam et metum perficiens talium
"affectuum luftrationem."

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Of that fort of Dramatic Poem which is called Tragedy.


RAGEDY, as it was anciently compos'd, hath been ever held the graveft, moraleft, and most profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Ariftotle to be of power, by raifing pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and fuch like paffions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, ftirr'd up by reading or feeing thofe paffions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his affertion: for fo in phyfic things of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholy, four against four, falt to remove falt humors. Hence philofophers and other graveft writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illuftrate their difcourfe. The Apoftle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to infert a verfe 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 diftinguish'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 compofe a tragedy. Of that honor Dionyfius the elder was no lefs 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 philofopher is by fome 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 fanctity of his perfon to write a tragedy, which is intitled Chrift fuffering. This is mention'd to vindicate tragedy from the fmall efteem, 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 ftuff with tragic fad

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