Aristotle regarded the mythos, usually translated for the Poetics as "plot," as central to tragedy, but it has received less attention, I would suggest, than other elements in the tragic structure. Few comment on the fact that the very same term, usually translated for the Socratic dialogues as "myth," is crucial to Plato's rejection of the way in which poets treat the gods and heroes, and attention is generally deflected towards Plato's celebrated diatribe against the actor's induction of his audience into the tragic pathos, the hypocritical passion and shedding of tears that run counter to the Heraclitean maxim "A dry soul is wisest." 1 The commentary tradition has to some extent instituted a false distinction between Aristotelian plot and Platonic myth, as though the fabular structures on which Aristotle places so much importance in the Poetics were in some vital way different from the stories of incest, rape, and murder that Plato views with such disfavour in the Republic and elsewhere. For both philosophers, however, it is by their treatment of the mythos that poets must stand or fall, and neither thinks of such fables as entirely invented, or as entirely derived. Because the mythos provides the ground, the dynamic logic, of the work, the poet must take responsibility (and blame, so Plato thinks) for it: yet in an important sense it precedes the work, and exists beyond it.