Nietzsche’s Critique of Aristotle’s Theory of Tragic Emotions

  • John P. Anton


When Nietzsche criticized Aristotle’s views on tragedy in The Birth of Tragedy, he based his attack on two central issues. The first concerned the relationship between the tragic emotions, pity (eleos) and fear (phobos), both being painful experiences, and the aesthetic result of the art of tragedy, ‘the proper pleasure of tragedy’ (he oikeia hedone tes tragodias). Nietzsche claimed that Aristotle made two errors in his formulation of the tragic experience and especially of the concept of catharsis because he misidentified both. Following Bernays, Nietzsche took the latter to mean ‘purgation of emotions’.2


Literary Genre Greek Tragedy Church Father Classical Philology Eightieth Birthday 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

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  • John P. Anton

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