AskDefine | Define catastasis

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek καταστασις ‘settling, appointment’.


  • /kə'tæstəsɪs/


  1. In classical drama, the third and penultimate section, in which action is heightened for the catastrophe.
    • 1922, It doubles itself in the middle of his life, reflects itself in another, repeats itself, protasis, epitasis, catastasis, catastrophe. — James Joyce, Ulysses
    • 1965, ‘The object of the meta-theatre is precisely that – to allow the participants to see through their first roles in it. But that is only the catastasis.’ — John Fowles, The Magus

Extensive Definition

In classical tragedies, a catastasis (pl. catastases) is the third part of an ancient drama, in which the intrigue or action that was initiated in the epitasis, is supported and heightened, until ready to be unravelled in the catastrophe. It also refers to the climax of a drama.
In rhetoric, the catastasis is that part of a speech, usually the exordium, in which the orator sets forth the subject matter to be discussed.


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