I remember reading someone quoting Aristotle's Poetics in saying 'Poetry (i.e. epic and drama) is what must be true, while history is what might have been true.'

I don't have Aristotle's Poetics with me for reference at this moment, and I just want to know whether it is an authentic Aristotelian quote. If not, can someone please tell me to what school of aesthetics and philosophy of history it belongs to?

Thank you, Wilson

1 Answer 1


Aristotle, Poetics, 1451b :

The real difference is this, that one tells what happened and the other what might happen. For this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts.

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