A penetrating 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, idealised 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, the Poetics remains equally stimulating for anyone interested in theatre today.