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Discuss The Concept Of The 'sublime' Advanced By 'longinus' In "On The Sublime." How May We Recognize It? What Are Its Five Sources? (Brief 'works Cited' Page Included).

2054 words - 8 pages

Upon reading Plato?s stance against poetry, it is refreshing to say the least to take into consideration Longinus?s praise of the art. In ?On the Sublime,? this author with the unknown identity lauds the art of sublimity, stating that it is an ?eminence and excellence in language; and that from this, and this alone, the greatest poets and writers of prose have attained the first place and have clothed their fame with immortality.? Longinus provides five sources of ?the sublime?, namely the power of forming great conceptions, vehement and inspired passion, formation and use of figures, dignified diction and lastly the nobleness of elevation. These sources will be pointed out and discussed in this essay in an effort to illustrate the great manner in which Longinus deals with the important topic of sublimity.Sublimity is easily seen as it ?[flashes] forth at right moment, [scattering] everything before it like a thunderbolt.? (75). It attributes to a discourse a sense of grandeur. The sublime may be seen as an elevation of language often made up in a single thought. Longinus argues that a sublime or ?lofty? tone is innate, and comes about not only by teaching [nurture] but also is a gift of nature. This lofty is noticed in dignified and elevated compositions whereby more is seen on the page than the words at the surface, thus grasping the reader?s interest, not through persuasion but instead by transport of the author?s powerful discourse. Longinus states: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. Our persuasions we can usually control, but the influences of the sublime bring power and irresistible might to bear, and reign supreme over every hearer. (76).This leads to a listing of and description of Longinus?s five sources of elevation.Longinus?s five sources of ?elevation? are stated in Chapter VIII and definitions for each are given. These are: (i) Splendor of thought or the power of forming great conceptions; (ii) capacity for strong emotion or vehement and inspired passion; (iii) suitable use and formation of figures; (iv)nobility of diction; and (v) dignified and elevated composition. The first two of these five sources are innate, and thus a ?quality of the author rather than of the poem? (75), one must be of noble mind and nurtured soul. Sublimity is the ?echo of a great soul? (75). Longinus is of the opinion that both nature and art contribute to sublimity in literature ? ?nature occupying the position of good fortune, art that of good counsel.? (77). Longinus finds these five primary sources of the sublime, the first two of which are largely the gifts of nature and the three which are in remainder, the gifts of art.The first source is said to be of foremost rank. Longinus suggests, ?we must? nurture our souls (as far as that is possible) to thoughts sublime, and make them always pregnant, so to say, with noble inspiration.? (79). He...

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