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The Influence of Classical Ideology on Literature

Classical ideology has played a profound and fundamental role in the foundations of literature throughout history. Ancient Greece and Rome have introduced many of the foundational concepts and forms that are still present in modern day literature, including comedy, tragedy, epic poetry, and the use of metaphor and symbolism. The works of classical philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle have had a remarkable influence on literature, providing a framework for the exploration of universal themes such as the meaning of life, and the role of reason.


However, it could be argued that classical ideology has affected the construction of tragedy within literature the greatest. The ancient Greeks and Romans' ideas about tragedy have had a lasting impact on the way that authors approach the portrayal of suffering in literature. Their tragedy has acted as a rich source of inspiration and influence for authors throughout history as it helped shape the way authors approached tragic themes.


One of the most influential aspects of ancient classical tragedy was the use of catharsis, which is defined as the emotional release experienced by audiences through the portrayal of tragic events. Writers would include struggles such as grief, trauma and mental illnesses into their characters in order to resonate emotions such as sympathy from the reader. With these struggles, writers could also be able to explore and express complex themes and issues in their writing. A common example of where catharsis is used is in poetry where poets can use catharsis to explore their own personal experiences and emotions. This allows poets to be able to establish a connection with their readers who may empathise in the shared experiences and emotions. Therefore, it can be acknowledged that catharsis is a very influential technique in literature as it aids the writer in creating works that can resonate with the reader and cover important themes and issues.


Another influential aspect of ancient classical tragedy was the concept of the tragic hero created by Aristotle. Aristotle's theory of tragedy has significantly affected and changed the production and interpretation of many notable works of literature. In Aristotle's view, tragedy is a form of drama that depicts the downfall of a heroic character due to hamartia (a tragic flaw), which leads to an ultimate cathartic release of emotion in the audience through a reversal of fortune (peripeteia). Aristotle's theory of tragedy is clearly present in Shakespeare's "Macbeth" where the hero, Macbeth, is originally portrayed as a valiant warrior. However, his valiance quickly disperses as his tragic flaw of overwhelming ambition and desire for power leads him to his downfall as he becomes increasingly guilty and paranoid. Therefore, it can be shown that the play exhibits a key element of tragedy as outlined by Aristotle.


In conclusion, classical ideology has played an exceptional role in literature from establishing new ideas of genres to shaping preexistent concepts.


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