What part of ‘Tetralogy’ would you like to explore?



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 Attic 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 defense, 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 has also been used for marketing series of movies, basing the prefix on Latin prefix quadri- instead of the Greek prefix. The Alien and Die Hard series have also been released in sets under the title The Alien Quadrilogy (the films for which the term was coined) and The Die Hard Quadrilogy.





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:

·        L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, and The Emerald City of Oz.

·        Jonathan Bayliss's Gloucesterman

·        Terry Brooks's The Heritage of Shannara quartet

·        S. Byatt's Frederica Quartet (The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman)

·        John Crowley's Aegypt

·        Henry de Montherlant's Les Jeunes Filles

·        Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet

·        Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End

·        Maggie Furey's Artefacts of Power

·        Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter quartet

·        Yaşar Kemal's İnce Memed tetralogy

·        Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch series

·        Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers

·        Yukio Mishima's The Sea of Fertility

·        Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle

·        Tamora Pierce's The Song of the Lioness

·        Claude Royet-Journoud's Le Renversement, La Notion d'Obstacle, Les Objects contiennent l'infini, and Les Natures indivisibles (poetry published between 1972 and 1997)

·        Paul Scott's Raj Quarte

·        William Shakespeare's sequence of history plays:

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

·        E. E. Smith's Skylark series

·        S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series (Dies the Fire, The Protector's War, A Meeting at Corvallis)

·        Harry Turtledove's Settling Accounts

·        John Updike's Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest) There is also (Rabbit Remembered), the fifth part of "Rabbit..." series.

·        T. H. White's The Once and Future King

·        Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun and Book of the Long Sun



·        Coheed and Cambria's The Amory Wars concept albums

·        Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, a series of four epic music dramas

·        Thrice's The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II and The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV


Historical works

·        A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill



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