This text is adapted from Longinus on the Sublime, translated by W. Rhys Roberts (London: Cambridge University Press, ). II. First of all. The Project Gutenberg EBook of On the Sublime, by Longinus This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions. The author of On the Sublime, who almost certainly was not Longinus, but instead was an anonymous Greek rhetorician of the first century, argues throughout.

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It is that, by a sort of natural law, figures bring support to the sublime, and on their part derive support in turn from it in a wonderful degree. Contact our longinuss with your feedback.

Late forms of prose influence on literary criticism In literary criticism: The five sources he mentions for the sublime are either related to author or poem. Something like this happens also in the art of painting. As I am writing to you, good friend, who are well versed in literary studies, I feel almost absolved from the necessity of premising syblimity any length that sublimity is a certain distinction and excellence in expression, and that it is from no other source than this that the greatest poets and writers have derived their eminence and gained an immortality of renown.

If successful writing were to be estimated by number of merits and not by syblimity true criterion, thus judged Hyperides would be altogether superior to Demosthenes. Isocrates, for example, fell into unaccountable puerility owing to the ambition which made him desire to describe everything with a touch of amplification. For all over-rhythmical writing is at once felt to be affected and finical and wholly lacking in passion owing to the monotony of its superficial polish.

The art which craftily employs them lies hid and escapes all future suspicion, when once it has been associated with beauty and sublimity. A similar effect was achieved by the lawgiver of the Jews—no mean genius, for he both understood and gave expression to the power of the divinity as it deserved—when he wrote at the very beginning of his laws, and I quote his words: Although only a few of his works are still read,….

The words, to him, should be noble corresponding to the subject matter and emotion. Now Caecilius seeks to show the nature of the sublime by countless sublimify as though our ignorance demanded it, but the consideration lonfinus the means whereby we may succeed in raising our own capacities to a certain pitch of elevation he has, strangely enough, omitted as unnecessary.


In like manner the interchange of persons produces a vivid impression, and often makes the hearer feel that longihus is moving in the midst of perils: He rears and unseats Cyrus, who falls Xenophon, Cyropaideia 7. So the constituents of grandeur, when separated from one another, carry with them sublimity in distraction this way and that, but when formed into a body by association and when further encircled in a chain of harmony they become sonorous by their very rotundity; and in periods sublimity is, as it were, a contribution made by a multitude.

LET us next consider whether we can point to anything further that contributes to sublimity of style. He instils into the minds of his hearers the conviction — which acts as a medicine and an antidote — that they should, uplifted by these eulogies, feel no less proud of the fight against Philip than of the triumph at Marathon and Salamis.

And what, and what manner of way, may that be? But this must only be done in cases in which the subject admits of amplification or redundancy or exaggeration or passion — one or more of these — since we all know that a richly caparisoned style is extremely pretentious. Contrast the way in which Homer magnifies the higher powers:.

In all the contests he has to resign the first place to his rivals, while he maintains that place as against all ordinary persons. Questions and interrogations ; [Lacuna]; asyndeton — omitting conjunctions ; Combining asyndeton with other figures lonvinus Smooth connecting particles sap passion ; Hyperbata, or inversions and vehemence.

On the Sublime by Longinus

Well, it is able in many ways to infuse vehemence and passion into spoken words, while more particularly when it is combined with the argumentative passages it not only persuades the hearer but actually makes him its slave.

But it is not sublime to swear by a person in any chance way; the sublimity depends upon the place and the manner and the circumstances and the motive. You have domestic warrant for it. I have myself noted not a few errors on the part of Homer and other writers of the greatest distinction, and the slips they have made longinys me anything but pleasure.

For he has a greater variety of accents than Demosthenes and a greater number of excellences, and like the pentathlete he falls just below the top in every branch.

An example of sublime which the author quotes in the work is a poem by Sapphothe so-called Ode to Jealousydefined as a “Sublime ode”.


I will set down one or two examples only of his manner, since the greater number have been already appropriated by Caecilius. Dead or ill, what difference to you?

On the Sublime

To return from my digression. Plato will furnish an instance in proof at the opening of his Funeral Oration. Whenever the form longimus a speech is poetical and fabulous and breaks into every kind of impossibility, such digressions have a strange and alien air.

A hazardous business, however, eminently hazardous is periphrasis, unless it be handled with discrimination; otherwise it speedily falls flat, with its odour of empty talk and its suhlimity amplitude. Help us improve this article!

The fabulous element, however, prevails throughout this poem over the real. More explicitly, in refusing to judge tropes as entities unto themselves, Longinus promotes the appreciation of literary devices as they relate to passages as a whole.

On the Sublime – Wikipedia

XLIV It remains, however as I will not hesitate to add, in recognition of your love of knowledge to clear up, my dear Terentianus, a question which a certain philosopher has recently mooted. Retrieved from ” https: And he lasheth himself into frenzy, and spurreth him on to the fight. After all, it does keep it off.

In a still higher degree Thucydides is most bold and skilful in disjoining from one another subliimty means of transpositions things that are by nature intimately united and indivisible. Wretches are they, for they reap but a harvest of travail and pain, Their eyes on the stars ever dwell, while their hearts abide in the main.

In this way, with him, order is disorderly, and on the other hand disorder contains a certain element of order. In the second place, I am not longinnus that it naturally happens that the worse side of human character is always the more easily recognised, and that the memory of errors remains indelible, while that of excellences quickly dies away.

The End of the Line. Beneath these five varieties there lies, as though it were a common foundation, the gift of discourse, which is indispensable. XLI There is nothing in the sphere of the sublime, that is so lowering as broken and agitated movement of language, such as is characteristic of pyrrhics and trochees and dichorees, which fall altogether to the level of dance-music.