Greek Terms for the Progress of Tragedy

ArÍte                    Hubris                Acrasia                Peripetia                Catastrophe

Excellence            Pride                    Imbalance           Reversal                Catastrophe

                                                                                of Expectations

                                                                                (sometimes via)



1)  The tragic hero exemplifies cultural excellence of some kind.

2)  Misled by that excellence, the hero's character reveals a deep but natural flaw which often is overweening pride that makes him forget his mortal limitations.

3)  Such pride leads the hero to imbalanced actions or words.

4)  The imbalance in the hero's actions produces a sudden change in expectations, a surprise sometimes accompanied by a recognition, or even a self-recognition in which the hero realizes he was quite other than he thought himself to be at the play's beginning.

5)  The reversal of expectations leads to a catastrophe that is now unavoidable and complete.