On the Sublime by Longinus
“On the Sublime” is a treatise on sublimity. According to Longinus, sublimity is loftiness of thoughts and expressions. In his treatise he argued that sublimity is not just innate, but can be learned through the study of art. He also said that it isn’t true that art is a bad influence to the nature’s gift, but greatness actually involves a matter of art because a method or study makes the most of itself. Good fortune still needs guidance or good counsel in order to be managed well; the same goes for natural gift or sublimity and the study of art.
The other principles of sublimity are listed below:
•Critical thinking is a measure of sublimity. This is the same as “intellectual value”, or in Poetics’ context, “self-restraint”.
•The three tests for the presence of sublimity: social value, psychological impact, and canonical or institutional authority. Social value is present when a socially focused measure of moral value is followed. This is the same as “spiritual value”; psychological impact is present when there is something memorable and makes enduring impact upon the hearer or reader; and canonical authority “satisfies men at all times”, and is present when the object of admiration is beyond dispute.
•The five principal sources of sublimity are:
-Forming Great Conceptions/Grandeur in Thought: this is an innate, natural ability which implies greatness of soul, and imagery. This can be related to “suggestiveness”.
-Inspired Passion: this is also innate and can and may overlap the other sources of sublimity. This basically means strong emotions.
-Formation of Figures: this can already be nurtured by art or studies, and involves inversion of word order, polyptota, interchange of persons, addressing the audience as...