The Poetics (Greek ποιητική [ τέχνη ] - poetry ) is the study of poetry.

As a theory of poetry she sits theory deals with the nature of poetry, with its effect, their value, their tasks, their functions, their specific means of expression and poetic genres. In addition to essays on the art technology, which focus primarily on issues of production of seal ( Poietik ), literary theory and Others tried to give a general notion of what is " poetic ", that is, criteria for poeticity to develop texts.

Painting Technique - Literary Criticism - Aesthetics

The view that poetry is a pure art technology, is mainly found in the normative rule poetics from ancient times to the late 18th century. Rule poetics formulate practical, learn statements to the "correct " creating poetic works of art - a theory and practice that is strongly influenced by the rhetoric. Johann Christoph Gottsched is the final authoritative German representative of a normative poetics, which he developed in numerous writings.

In connection with the proceedings of her questions of art technology, the poetics disciplined as literary criticism and in this respect is an essential, but even more problematic part of the field of literary studies. The criticism and philology from developing literary theory is increasingly directed out on an objective determination of the characteristics of poetic texts and their poeticity on subjective judgments of taste. In the 20th century trying to literary scholars, the essence of poetry of ontological ( Roman Ingarden ), epistemological (Ernst Wolff) or logical ( Kate Hamburger ) points of view to be determined. From the Philosophy of view, the poetry is a part of the field of aesthetics, the latter is historically emerged even from the Poetics.

The adjective poetically refers to the poetics, whereas the adjective poetic usually refers to the poetry.

European authors of poetics and her reflections on poetics

Antiquity and Late Antiquity

  • Aristotle: Peri poietikes (On the art of poetry ), now mostly known as poetics

Important systematic treatises on: Genus poetics (especially tragedy, sometimes even comedy, epic ), poetry as mimetic art (the concept of mimesis ), aesthetic impact (especially the tragedy, concept of catharsis ).

  • Plato: Ion
  • Horace: Epistula ad Pisones (Letter to the Pisonen ) ( poetry about ), since Quintilian quoted De Arte Poetica usually poetica as Ars ( " Poetry " )

Important papers on: doctrine of decorum prepare (of the appropriateness of individual formal elements such as genre, verse style ), the definition of the tasks of the poet as a ( " aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae " ) benefit and pleasure, the misunderstood to the Enlightenment mimesis concept ut pictura poesis ( a poem is like a picture ).

  • Cicero: De inventione (On the discovery of the substance )
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus
  • Pseudo- Longinus: Peri Hypsous / De sublimitate ( On the Sublime )
  • Quintilian: Institutio oratoria (training of the orator )

Characteristics of the treatises in Late Antiquity: shift of interest of style and critical issues of theoretical and literary -critical approaches to the normative canon of rules, strictly defined according to the techne of rhetoric and based on the dualism of res and verba ( matter and linguistic form ).

Middle Ages

Poetics was treated throughout the Middle Ages only in the context of rhetoric, in the teaching system of the septem artes liberales The seven liberal arts.

  • Venerable Bede: Ars metrica

Scarce treatise of prosody

  • Matthew of Vendôme
  • Galfredus de Vino Salvo
  • Gervais by Melkley
  • Johannes de Garlandia
  • Everardus Alemannus

Comprehensive textbooks a rhetorical certain Ars versificatoria ( poetry ): Teaching (understood extension as the artful Aufschwellung a statement about the immediate understanding Necessary addition ) of the amplificatio as the main task of the poet and doctrine of the ornatus (jewelery of speech through rhetorical figures and tropes ). Continuation of the two- style teaching ( ornatus facilis - lighter style and ornatus difficilis - heavier, darker style) based on the ancient distinction of Atticism and Asianism; Reinterpretation of the Three -style teaching ( genera dicendi " speech genres " distinguishes the stilus gravis / sublime, stilus mediocris and stilus humilis " high / sublime, medium and low / plain style " ) of the medieval system of estates.

  • Dante: De vulgari eloquentia ( About the vernacular )

Breakthrough of the narrow framework of the medieval ars versificatoria by the turn to the vernacular poetry.

  • Snorri Sturluson

Snorri wrote in 1220 his Edda, a textbook that is primarily to Skald, poet of Icelandic and Norwegian royal courts, straightened. He gives examples it for around 100 different verse forms and supplies mythological background knowledge, since many of the kennings, typical, pictorial descriptions of certain terms or names on this, the time of origin in the Christian era no longer used for the Norse poetry knowledge of the pagan past, directly relate.

Early Humanism (Italy )

Revaluation and Equality to the gasket ( in MA omnipotent ) theology.

Renaissance and Baroque


Intensive study of the ancient poetry and rhetoric leads to the rediscovery of the Poetics of Aristotle and Horace; followed by numerous translations of their works:

Reinterpretation of Aristotle and Horazschen poetics in favor of the normative control system of rhetoric: the poet is seen as poeta doctus or poeta eruditus that has the rules of poetics and rhetoric as a learned and educated poet, neither from divine inspiration ( poeta vates ) nor from the power of their own subjectivity ( original genius ), provides for an educated audience. The Aristotelian mimesis is understood as imitatio (imitation), in which the Aristotelian theory of probability ( poetry is fiction based on the laws of probability and possibility - not based on reality! ) Is fundamentally misunderstood; in the course of this misreading is a flow of fakes exemplary classical authors ( Virgil for the epic, Seneca for the drama ) instead of ( imitatio veterum ). The purpose of poetry is the trinity of docere et probare ( teach and argue using the stilus humilis ), delectare ( entertained by the stilus mediocris ) and flectere et movere ( touch and move by means of the stilus gravis / sublime ). The concept of catharsis is reinterpreted in terms of a moral education program: the tragedy is to demonstrate vices that generated by the spectators fear and pity (originally by Aristotle eleos and Phobos, misery and horror ), which in turn should lead to moral purification. The doctrine of the three genera dicendi is solidified in the stands clause and with the law of the case height (the higher the social rank of the tragic hero is, the worse and deeper, his case is perceived by the audience) in the derived from the probability dogma doctrine of the three units read into the tragedy theory of Aristotle.

The poetics of literary mannerism sees itself as a counter movement to the classical Renaissance poetics. It asks for the liberation of classical rules and the probability of dogma in favor of the poetic imagination. Especially popular is the abundant use of tropes, metaphors and conceits ( subtle twists ) to increase the reality of the unreal, but imaginative and intellectual way of speaking in the bizarre, grotesque, fantastic and dreamlike, to distort and eventually dissolve.

The controversy between classical and Mannerist poetics splits the Italian poetry and poetry teaching in a traditional neoclassical, ( attizistisch ) and a progressive, experimental ( asianistisch ) type; selbige controversy is also found in the so-called Querelle des Anciens et Modernes in France again.


Here too, the classical orientation to ancient models and of Italian poetry and poetic theory.

  • Thomas Sebillet and the poets of the Pléiade:
  • Joachim du Bellay deffence et illustration de Langue Françoyse
  • Jacques Peletier du Mans type Poétique
  • Pierre de Ronsard abrégé de l'Art Poétique François
  • Jean Vauquelin de La Fresnaye
  • Georges de Scudéry
  • François Hedelin
  • René Rapin
  • Nicolas Boileau type poétique

Allen works of normative character, the classical theory of tragedy with the stands clause, the doctrine of the three units with the moral and pedagogical reinterpretation of catharsis is common. The seal must be based generally on the order of the raison (reason), the vraisemblance (probability ) and the bienséance ( appropriateness ); their purpose is to connect utilité (benefits) and plaisir ( pleasure ). The mimesis ( imitatio naturae ) as the imitation of nature understood.

A first qualification of the so-called doctrine classique is emerging here.

Considered trigger the actual backlash against classicism, as he was the first person who denied the eternal validity of the antique pattern.


  • Sir Philip Sidney The Defence of Poetry, An Apology for Poetry

Here, the authors try to find a mediating position between the classical canon of rules and the thesis of the uniqueness and individuality of each individual work of art and to formulate.


The Italian and French poetry of the Renaissance, together with the mediating Dutch poetics of Daniel Heinsius De tragoediae constitutione and Gerhard Johannes Vossius De Artis poeticae Natura, Ac Constitutione Liber, Poeticarum Institutionum Libri Tres and De Imitatione cum Oratoria, tum praecipue Poetica the starting point for the German poetics that remains to the Enlightenment classicism with Johann Christoph Gottsched as the last normative rule poeticists.

The basis of the German baroque poetics forms Opitz's 1624 book, published by Deutsche Poeterey that, contrary to his repeatedly stressed importance, actually represents only a partial translation of Julius Caesar Scaliger's Latin textbook Poetices libri septem. Among dozens of other poetics only a few stand out:

  • Sigmund von Birken Teutsche speech -bind - and sealing - art
  • Georg Philipp Harsdörffer Poetic Funnel
  • Johann Klaj eulogy of the Germans Poeterey
  • Daniel Georg Morhof teaching of language and poetry of the Germans
  • Magnus Daniel Omeis thorough instructions for teutschen accuraten rhyme and poetry
  • Martin Opitz book on German Poeterey
  • Johann Ludwig Prasch thorough display of Fürtrefflichkeit and improvement Teutonic poetry
  • Christian Albrecht Rotth Complete German poetry
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer Useful memories because of the German Poeterey
  • To make Johann Peter Titz Zwey books from the Art German verses and songs
  • Andreas Tscherning Unvorgreifliches bedencken over several abuses in the German writing and language arts
  • Christian way Curiöse Gedancken of German verses
  • Philip of Zesen High German Helicon

Of course, it is possible Opitz first time to face the classical poetic meters of Latin a German counterpart. In his poetic practice, however, Opitz remains awkward and not always adheres to its own rules.

As a result, a lively discussion about the German language as a poet and his worth in European literature is triggered. Because of the emphasis on the language artistry ( stilus sententiosus ) show up at Klaj, Harsdörffer Zesen and also influences of Mannerism. Culmination and summary of the most important debates poetological the baroque era is Birken sealing art from 1679.

Education ( France)

The classical and mannerist poetry debate continues in the Enlightenment still continued, but at a different level: turning away from academic humanistic ideal of imitatio veterum and their transfer into the modern national language, and re-establishment of poetics based on the social behavior of the educated. In addition, the taste problem of bon goût occurs ( good taste in the sense of sensual sensations; judgment instance, combine the sensual and rational evaluation criteria in terms of beauty can ) and bel esprit (nice joke in the sense of mental liveliness; judgment instance according to the principle of rational knowledge ) in the center of the discussion.

  • Jean Pierre de Crousaz Traité du beau
  • Jean -Baptiste Dubos critiques sur la poésie Réflexions

Is solely responsible for both authors feel the highest authority for the ability to taste judgment.

For it is ultimately the decisive authority of reason over emotion.

Education ( Germany )

  • Christian Thomasius Which figure which one should imitate the French in general life and change
  • Johann Ulrich König investigation of the good taste

These are the first representative of a German based on a judgment of taste poetics.

  • Johann Christoph Gottsched attempt to Critische poetry, Full oratory, the foundation of a German language arts, contributions in writing to Critische History of the German language, poetry and eloquence, German stage according to the rules and Exempeln the elderly; numerous work - translations of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Charles and Claude Adrien Helvetius Batteux
  • Johann Jacob Bodmer and Johann Jakob Breitinger From the miraculous in poetry and its connection with the probable, About the poet painting of the poet

Sturm und Drang, and Classic ( Germany )

  • Friedrich Schiller
  • Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz
  • Gottfried August Bürger
  • Johann Gottfried Herder
  • Johann Georg Hamann
  • Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Heinrich von Kleist

Romantic and Modern

For the poetics of romanticism and modernism, the idea of the productivity of the imagination is central. In contrast to the strict classical separation of the genera lyric, epic, drama romance developed in understanding the defeasibility of all orders that had sustained out of the French Revolution in mind, the idea of ​​a progressive universal poetry. Since the 19th century poetics operated within the context of literary criticism and literary studies. This could, according to the different, formal or content specific theoretical starting points result in a variety of positions. The modern poetics dissolves so on the imitation aesthetics. It recognizes as the "first law" to "that the arbitrariness of the poet is no law to suffer " ( Friedrich Schlegel ). In addition, the inherent poetics of language is important, as recognized Novalis and Stéphane Mallarmé. The poetics of Futurism brings new techniques of collage and montage into play. This interrupt the continuity of narrative forms in favor of a stringing of disparate text elements. In the last third of the 20th century postmodernism plays an important role as a technique of ironic quotation of known motifs.