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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XVII I ought not, dear friend, to omit at this point an observation of my own, which shall be most concisely stated.

COME, now, let us take some writer who is really immaculate and beyond reproach. Accordingly, in the Odyssey Homer may be likened to a sinking sun, whose grandeur remains without its intensity. If, I say, the critic of those who desire to learn were to turn these matters over in his mind, he would no longer, it seems to me, regard the discussion of the subject as superfluous or useless. Similarly with the words of Penelope: Now Hyperides not only imitates all the strong points of Demosthenes with the exception of his composition, but he has embraced in a singular degree the excellences and graces of Lysias as well.

At every time and in every way imposing speech, with the spell it throws over us, prevails over that which aims at persuasion and gratification.

On the Sublime

Sublimity is thus the aesthetic upliftment of the soul through the reconciliation of the poetic subkimity and rhetorical mastery of the writers. The proper time for using metaphors is when the passions roll like a torrent and sweep a multitude of them down their resistless flood.

XIII To longinuz from my digression. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed.

On the Sublime / Longinus

The same is true of the words which Euripides attributes to his Cassandra: The “sublime” in the title has been translated in various ways, to include senses of elevation and excellent style. For not only in the degree of his excellences, but also in their number, Lysias is much inferior to Plato; and at the same time he surpasses him in his faults still more than he falls below him in his excellences.

To him, the vices of the sublime emerge out of the lack of passion sincerely and inadequacy of communication caused by faulty techniques. At last to Longinus, the form and content should bring about equilibrium. Vehement and inspired passion: In his poem the battle of the Greeks is suddenly veiled by mist and baffling night.


In regard to this, having already in two treatises sufficiently stated such results as our inquiry could compass, we will add, for the purpose of our present undertaking, only what is absolutely essential, namely the fact that harmonious arrangement is not only a natural source of persuasion and pleasure among men but also a wonderful instrument of lofty utterance and of passion.

Longinus believes that sublimity is achieved by a deft handling of Nature and Art, which is inborn genius and learned skills. Please try again later. First and most important is the power of forming great conceptions, as we have elsewhere explained in our remarks on Xenophon. The whole enumeration can be summed up in a single proper name — on the one side Oedipus, on the other Jocasta.

On the Sublime by Longinus

No siblimity can, in describing them, convey a notion of the indignity they imply. Wherefore it is, I suppose, that the orator [Sc. And yet these are mere semblances and spurious copies of persuasion, not as I have said genuine activities of human nature. Examples may be spared because of their abundance. It longinks 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.

Amplification and the sublime ; Writers on rhetoric misdefine amplification ; Sublmiity defined ; [Lacuna] Elevation in Plato, Cicero and Demosthenes ; Elevation, emulation and the sublime, Plato ; Emulation sublimtiy plagiarism ; Emulation as inspiration ; Imagine audiences from succeeding ages.

Among further names proposed, are Hermagoras a rhetorician who lived in Rome during the 1st century ADAelius Theon author of a work which had many ideas in common with those of On the Sublimeand Pompeius Geminus who was in epistolary conversation with Dionysius. Come now, let us consider what is involved in each of these varieties, with this one remark by way of preface, that Caecilius has omitted some of the five divisions, for example, that of passion.

But since in the hopeless darkness he can turn his valour to no noble end, he skblimity at his slackness in the fray and craves the boon of immediate light, resolved to find a death worthy of his bravery, even though Zeus should fight in the ranks against him.

Furthermore, 18th-century critic Edward Burnaby Greene finds Longinus, at times, to be “too refined”. After all, it does keep it off. Any text you add should be original, not copied sublimigy other sources. For the judgment of style is the subpimity and crowning fruit of long experience. For when men of different pursuits, lives, ambitions, ages, languages, hold identical views on one and the same subject, then that verdict which results, so to speak, from a concert of discordant elements makes our faith in the object of admiration strong and unassailable.


All this it is, I say, needless to mention, for beautiful words are in very truth the peculiar light of thought. In an age which is ravaged by plagues so sore, is it possible for us to imagine that there is still left an unbiassed and incorruptible judge of works that are great and likely to reach posterity, or is it not rather the case that all are influenced in their decisions by the passion for gain?

Similarly, we suublimity skill in invention, and due order and arrangement of matter, emerging as the hard-won result not of one thing nor of two, but of the whole texture of the composition, whereas Sublimity flashing forth at the right moment scatters everything before it like a thunderbolt, and at once displays the power of the orator in all its plenitude. Such a use of figures should not be mechanical and forceful.

On the Sublime by Longinus

Choosing proper and striking words that fit the thought ; [Lacuna]. XXIII THE figures, which are termed polyptota — accumulations, and variations, and climaxes — are excellent weapons of public oratory, as you are aware, and contribute to elegance and to every form of sublimity and passion. Accordingly it is well that we ourselves zublimity, when elaborating anything which requires lofty expression and elevated conception, should shape some idea in our minds as to how perchance Homer would have said this very thing, or how it would have been raised to the sublime by Plato or Demosthenes or by the historian Thucydides.

For naturally a theme seems more imposing to the ear when proper names are thus added, one upon the other, in troops. For just as if, in the case of those very adornments, between the golden vessels and the jewelled mixing-bowls and the silver plate and the pavilions of pure gold and the goblets, a man were to bring and set in the midst paltry bags and sacks, the proceeding would have been offensive to the eye, so do such words when introduced out of season constitute deformities and as it were blots on the diction.

The earliest surviving manuscript, from the 10th century, was first printed in In truth, Homer in these cases shares the full inspiration of the combat, and it is neither more nor less than true of the poet himself that. Hither thy car turn — hither!