Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


Oxford English Dictionary. hamartia. The fault or error which entails the destruction of the tragic hero (with particular reference to Aristotle's Poetics).

examples of usage:

1927 F. L. Lucas, Tragedy If we seek the hamartia in more modern tragedy like Ibsen's, it becomes clearer than ever that an intellectual mistake is all that the term need mean.

1956 H. House, Aristotle's Poetics vi. All serious modern Aristotelian scholarship agrees..that ‘hamartia’ means an error which is derived from ‘ignorance of some material fact or circumstance.

1968 D. W. Lucas, Aristotle's Poetics The essence of hamartia is ignorance combined with the absence of wicked intent.


Refer to Aristotle, Poetics XIIIb


Literary Devices: hamartia

T.C.W. Stinton, "Hamartia in Aristotle and Greek Tragedy." Classics Quarterly (1975).