c. 335 BCE
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
'To Be Or Not To Be' Soliloquy
- William Shakespeare
- c. 1599
In this famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet contemplates suicide and poses the most important question one can ask: "To be or not to be?"Pair Hamlet's "'To Be or Not to Be' Soliloquy" with "On Tragedy" from Aristotle's Poetics to spark an in-depth discussion about literary tragedy. Based on this passage, does Shakespeare's Hamlet appear to fit Aristotle's definition of tragedy?
The Bright Side of Sadness
- Bruce Bower
In this article from Science News, author Bruce Bower explores the results of several recent studies suggesting that feelings of sadness can be beneficial in different aspects of everyday life.Pair "Excerpt from Aristotle's Poetics, On Tragedy" with "The Bright Side of Sadness" to spark a discussion about why tragedy is a popular literary genre. What do we gain from reading tragedy?
The Myth of Daedalus and Icarus
- 8 A.D.
Ovid (43 BCE – 17/18 CE), or Publius Ovidius Naso, was a Roman poet best known for the Metamorphoses, which now remains an important source of classical mythology. In this classic myth, Daedalus attempts to escape imprisonment on the island of Crete by crafting a pair of wax wings for himself and his son, Icarus.Pair “From Poetics: Aristotle on Tragedy” with “The Myth of Daedalus and Icarus” for students to develop a better understanding of tragedy, especially as classical thinking conceived of it.
Excerpts from Three Sisters
- Anton Chekhov
In Anton Chekhov’s play “Three Sisters,” the Prózorov siblings struggle to find happiness in a rural Russian village.Pair “Excerpts from Three Sisters” with “On Tragedy” and ask students to determine to what extent the play satisfies the requirements Aristotle outlines for “a perfect tragedy.” Ask students to evaluate whether or not the characters from the play align with Aristotle’s definition for a tragic character. To what extent does Chekhov’s work include the necessary elements of “a perfect tragedy”? Does Chekhov’s work illuminate any additional aspects of the tragedy genre, and if so, how?
- Cristian Violatti
In “Greek Philosophy,” this informational text recounts the development of ancient Greek philosophy, including its notable schools and philosophers, and the impact it has had on Western history and culture.Pair “On Tragedy” with “Greek Philosophy” and ask students to discuss the ideas and writing of Aristotle. Is Aristotle’s definition of the perfect tragedy still relevant today? Based on both of these readings, what impact did Aristotle have on Western culture? How do his philosophies affect our society and culture today?
“Three Types of Friendship” — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics
- Roughly 340 BCE
In the philosophical text “‘Three Types of Friendship’ — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle describes three types of friendship and their differences.Pair “On Tragedy” with “‘Three Types of Friendship’ — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics” and ask students to discuss how Aristotle portrays virtue in the two texts. How does the role that virtue plays in literature compare to its role in friendship? How do both texts explore how people respond to others and to certain situations? Is there a difference between what people desire to read in literature and what they desire to experience in real life? If so, what is the difference?