EPISODE (Lat. episodium, from the Gr. brtid6diov , epeisodion, something adventitious), a separate incident, story or action introduced into the general narrative, to give variety or digression, but so arranged as to appear a part of the whole. This term is employed bv Aris totle in two significations. Sometimes it denotes those parts of a play which are between the choruses, and sometimes an incidental narra tive, or digression in a poem, which the poet has connected with the main plot, but which is not essential to it. In modern times it has been used in the latter sense only. With the best poets the episode is not an unnecessary append age, serving merely to swell the size of the work, but is closely connected with the subject, points out important consequences or develops hidden causes. Of this kind is the narrative of the destruction of Troy, in Virgil's 2Eneid. This was the cause of the hero's leaving his country; but the poet does not commence with it because he wishes to bring the plot into a narrower space. He therefore inserts it in the course of the story, but so skilfully that we ex pect it in this very place; and it not only serves as a key to what has gone before, but prepares us for what is to come, namely, the passion of Dido. In this way the episode becomes an
essential part of the whole, as it must neces sarily be, if it is of any importance to preserve the unity of the poem. So with the tale in Wieland s 'Oberon' ; it appears incidental, but explains to us the reason of Oberon's singular interest in the fate of Huon. In epic poetry there is much more room for the episode than in dramatic, where the poem is confined to a present action. An excellent instance of the slcilful use of the episode in the modern novel is given in Manzoni's 'I promessi sposi,) in the tale of the 'Nun of Monza.' The term episode ha.s also been transferred to painting, especially historic painting, in a sense analogous to that which it has in poetry. The term episode is also employed in music to designate an inter mediate section of a composition. The term is also applied to a digressive section, especially in contrapuntal work, like a fugue.