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A tetralogy is a compound work that is made up of four (numerical prefix tetra-) distinct works, just as a trilogy is made up of three works.

The name comes from the Atticmarker theater, in which a tetralogy was a group of three tragedies followed by a satyr play, all by one author, to be played in one sitting at the Dionysia as part of a competition. Antiphon of Rhamnus, an orator, taught his students with Tetralogies, each one consisting of four speeches: the prosecutor's opening speech, the first speech for the defence, the prosecutor's reply, and the defendant's conclusion. Three of Antiphon's tetralogies survive.

In more recent times, Shakespeare wrote two tetralogies, the first consisting of the three Henry VI plays and Richard III, and the second consisting of Richard II, the two Henry IV plays, and Henry V. Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen ("The Ring of the Nibelung" or "The Ring Cycle") is also referred to as a tetralogy.

The word "tetralogy" is not commonly used in the marketing of collections of works. "Quartet" is sometimes used, particularly for series of four books. An invented term "quadrilogy", basing the prefix on Latin prefix quadri- instead of the Greek prefix, has also been used for marketing series of movies, such as the Alien series (for which the term was fist coined )and Die Hard series.


Examples of works which have been described as tetralogies are as follows:

Literary works

In literature, the term tetralogy has been applied to series of novels, plays and poetry with four entries. These include the following:

:Major tetralogy: Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; Henry V
:Minor tetralogy: Henry VI, Part 1; Henry VI, Part 2; Henry VI, Part 3; Richard III



Historical works

See also


  1. Rush Rehm. Greek Tragic Theater. Routledge, 1994. Page 16.
  2. C. M. Bowra. Landmarks in Greek Literature. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1966. Pages 236-7.
  3. Victor L. Cahn. Shakespeare the playwright: a companion to the complete tragedies, histories, comedies, and romances. Greenwood, 1991.
  4. Hans von Wolzogen. Guide to the music of Richard Wagner's tetralogy: The ring of the Nibelung. A thematic key. Translated by Nathan Haskell Dole. G. Schirmer, New York, 1895.
  5. Shakespeare in Performance: Film

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