CriticaLink | Aristotle: Poetics | Guide to Book XVII
Advice to Poets
The poet should work from an outline which encapsulates the plot, Aristotle suggests, and should clarify which elements of the story contribute to a coherent, complex plot and which are extraneous. He observes that the number of discrete episodes is limited in a tragedy, but can be quite numerous in an epic. Nevertheless, the even plot of an epic as rich with incident as the Odyssey can be summarized in a few sentences, as Aristotle demonstrates. The plot embodies the telos of the drama or the epic; to grasp the plot is to understand both the unity and the purpose of the actions that are represented.