Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Poetics and ethics in Aristotle
Poetica ed etica in Aristotele

A.Y. Credits
2020/2021 6
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Graziella Travaglini

Assigned to the Degree Course

Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The course intends to investigate the link between art, ethics and truth through the Aristotelian theory of tragedy; indeed, the mimesis poietike assumes a educational and cognitive value in Poetics. A kind of ethics and knowledge whose peculiarities must be highlighted, because it is fundamentally marked by the contingency. Therefore, the centrality of concepts such as «verisimilitude», «probability», «hypothetical necessity» will be highlighted. These concepts are essential to understand the reality of the sublunary world and the human action. According to Aristotle, the human action must be directed by practical wisdom (phronesis), that regulates the human choices on the basis of the uncertain and variable circumstances of reality. In Aristotle’s Poetics the tragedy is considered as a fundamental way by to learn and extend this goodness. 

The course will outline a theoretical path in which it will be shown how the main concepts of the Aristotelian reflection on tragedy and on art are fundamental to understand the horizon of thought of the ancient Greek world.


The course will be structured in the following topics:

1. The definition of the concepts of «techne», «mimesis», and «poiesis» within the Aristotelian division of knowledge. In these preparatory lessons for the reading of Poetics, some passages of the Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics will be examined.

2. Reading and commenting on the Poetics: 2.1 The definition of the tragedy according to the medium, the way and the object. 2.2 The six constituent elements of the tragedy and the centrality of «mythos». 2.3 Tragedy as «mimesis praxeos», as a story that reveals the dynamic structure that regulates human action. 2.4 The tragic passions: «phobos», «eleos» and «katharsis». 2.5 The «mimesis poietike» as a temporal synthesis. The concepts of «necessity» and «probability». 2.6 The theoretical value and the ethical-practical value of poetic knowledge.

3. The tragic knowledge as paideia. Reading of Antigone and Oedipus the King through Aristotelian Poetics.

Bridging Courses


Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

At the end of the course, the student will:

- To have a general knowledge of the founding concepts of the poetics of the ancient Greek world.

- To know Aristotle's Poetics and interpret the text critically.

- Knowing how to argue and understand poetic and aesthetic-philosophical problems adequately.

- To know and understand some theoretical problems concerning ancient poetics and the Aristotelian theory of tragedy.

- To interpret, read, comment, recognize, explain philosophical texts.

- Contextualizing philosophical arguments and theories (in particular in the poetic and aesthetic fields).

- Arguing philosophical theses appropriately and convincingly; also recognize and value different philosophical traditions.

- To acquire autonomy of judgment with respect to philosophical theses.

- To acquire communication skills in the presentation of philosophical theses and arguments.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


taught lesson


70% of the lessons

Course books

Aristotele, Poetica, a cura di Daniele Guastini, Carocci editore, Roma 2010.

Pierre Aubenque, La prudenza in Aristotele, Studium, Roma 2018.


oral exam

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


to contact the teacher

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