In this essay the widespread view that the word ὄψις — one ofthe six qualitative or formative parts of tragedy — is used as a technical termwhose meaning is supposed to be spectacle, is disputed. Such a view ignoresthe fact that opsis is “id quod cernitur, aspectus, species” (Bonitz). The useof opsis with regard to what the audience watched in a theatrical productionis confined to Poetics and does not occur in any other work of Aristotle, or inany other ancient author. Once it is recognised that it is not synonymous withspectacle (or theama), which would presuppose the existence of an art form,opsis has to be understood as a reference to the impression that a dramatic performance would generate in the audience. Therefore, it is not surprising thatAristotle could call it atechnotaton (entirely non-technical) and hardly relevantto the art of poetry. But even if he did not appreciate the dramatic performances of his own time (despite the fact that he kept a historical record of themas the title of his lost work, Didaskaliai, indicates), we have no right to criticise him for not being interested in theatre production as such. On the contrary, there are several specific indications in his work to the effect that dramaswere not created for a reading public but to be performed; for instance, alreadyin the definition of tragedy in Poet. 6, Poet. 17, and elsewhere.
Όψις: Η παρερμηνεία ενός όρου της Ποιητικής του Αριστοτέλη