[Longinus],   On the Sublime

-   Chapters 1-22


The real name of the author of this famous piece of literary criticism is unknown, but traditionally he has been called Longinus; for more information, see the translator's introduction.

The English translation is by by W.H. Fyfe (1927). Click on the G symbols to go to the Greek text of each chapter.   


[1] G   You know, my dear Postumius Terentianus, that when we were studying together Cecilius's ** little treatise on the Sublime we found it was too trivial to satisfy the full demands of the subject and omitted altogether to touch upon the main points, and that consequently it does not render to its readers very much of that assistance which should be an author's chief aim. Moreover, in every systematic treatise there are two requisites : the author must first define his subject, and secondly, though this is really more important, he must show us how and by what means of study we may reach the goal ourselves. Cecilius, however, while assuming our ignorance and endeavouring by a thousand instances to demonstrate the nature of the sublime, apparently thought it unnecessary to deal with the means by which we may be enabled to educate our natures to the proper pitch of elevation. 2 Still, so far as Cecilius is concerned, we ought perhaps rather to praise him for the mere conception of such a treatise and the trouble spent upon it than to blame him for his omissions. But since you have now required me in my turn to prepare some notes on the sublime purely for your own sake, let us then see whether our views have any real value for public speakers ; and in the details of our inquiry you yourself, my friend, will, I am sure, do what duty and your heart alike dictate and give me the benefit of your unbiased judgement. For he spoke well who, in answer to the question, " What have we in common with the gods ? " said "Kindness and Truth." ** 3 Further, writing for a man of such learning and culture as yourself, dear friend, I almost feel freed from the need of a lengthy preface showing how the Sublime consists in a consummate excellence and distinction of language, and that this alone gave to the greatest poets and historians their pre-eminence and clothed them with immortal fame. 4 For the effect of genius is not to persuade the audience but rather to transport them out of themselves. Invariably what inspires wonder casts a spell upon us and is always superior to what is merely convincing and pleasing. For our convictions are usually under our own control, while such passages exercise an irresistible power of mastery and get the upper hand with every member of the audience.  

Again inventive skill and the due disposal and marshalling of facts do not show themselves in one or two touches : they gradually emerge from the whole tissue of the composition, while, on the other hand, a well-timed flash of sublimity scatters everything before it like a bolt of lightning and reveals the full power of the speaker at a single stroke. But, as I say, my dear Terentianus, these and other such hints you with your experience could supply yourself.   

[2] G   We must begin now by raising the question whether there is an art of sublimity or profundity,** for some think those are wholly at fault who try to bring such matters under systematic rules. Genius, it is said, is born and does not come of teaching, and the only art for producing it is nature. Works of natural genius, so people think, are spoiled and utterly demeaned by being reduced to the dry bones of rule and precept. 2 For my part I hold that the opposite may be proved, if we consider that while in lofty emotion Nature for the most part knows no law, yet it is not the way of Nature to work at random and wholly without system. In all production Nature is the prime cause, the great exemplar ; but as to all questions of degree, of the happy moment in each case, and again of the safest rules of practice and use, such prescriptions are the proper contribution of an art or system. We must remember also that mere grandeur runs the greater risk, if left to itself without the stay and ballast of scientific method, and abandoned to the impetus of uninstructed enterprise. For genius needs the curb as often as the spur. 3 Speaking of the common life of men Demosthenes ** declares that the greatest of all blessings is good fortune, and that next comes good judgement, which is indeed quite as important, since the lack of it often completely cancels the advantage of the former. We may apply this to literature and say that Nature fills the place of good fortune, Art that of good judgement. And above all we must remember this : the very fact that in literature some effects come of natural genius alone can only be learnt from art.   

If then, I say, those who censure the students of this art would lay these considerations to heart, they would not, I fancy, be any longer inclined to consider the study of these subjects superfluous and useless.   

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[3] G   . . .  
  Yea, though they check the chimney's towering flame. 
  For, if I spy one hearth-holder alone,   
  I'll weave one torrent coronal of flame 
  And fire the steading to a heap of ash.   
  But not yet have I blown the noble strain. **   

All this has lost the tone of tragedy ; it is pseudo-tragic, - the "coronals" and "spewing to heaven" ** and making Boreas a flute-player and all the rest of it. The phrasing is pompous, while the images make for confusion rather than intensity. Examine each in the light of day and it gradually declines from the terrible to the ridiculous. Now seeing that in tragedy, which is essentially a majestic matter and admits of bombast, misplaced pomposity is none the less unpardonable, surely it is not likely to suit real speeches. 2 Thus it is that people laugh at Gorgias of Leontini for calling Xerxes the "Persian Zeus," and vultures "living sepulchres" ; also at certain phrases of Callisthenes ** which are not sublime but highfalutin, and still more at some of Cleitarchus's ** efforts, an affected creature, blowing, as Sophocles says, "on scrannel pipes, yet wasting all his wind." **   

You find the same sort of thing in Amphicrates too, and in Hegesias and Matris.** For often when they think themselves inspired, their supposed ecstasy is merely childish folly . 3 Speaking generally , pomposity seems one of the hardest faults to guard against. For all who aim at grandeur, in trying to avoid the charge of being feeble and arid, fall somehow into this fault, pinning their faith to the maxim that "to miss a high aim is to fail without shame.'' 4 Tumours are bad things whether in books or bodies, those empty inflations, void of sincerity, as likely as not producing the opposite to the effect intended. For, as they say, "there's naught so dry as dropsy.''   

Pomposity then comes of trying to outdo the sublime. Puerility, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of grandeur ; utterly abject, mean-spirited, and in fact the most ignoble of faults. What then is puerility ? Is it not obviously the academic attitude, where over-elaboration ends in frigid failure ? Writers fall into this fault through trying to be uncommon and exquisite, and above all to please, and founder instead upon the tinsel ** reefs of affectation. 5 Closely allied to this is a third kind of fault peculiar to emotional passages, what Theodorus used to call "Parenthyrson." ** This is emotion misplaced and pointless where none is needed, or unrestrained where restraint is required. For writers often behave as if they were drunk and give way to outbursts of emotion which the subject no longer warrants. Such emotion is purely subjective and consequently tedious, so that to an audience which feels none of it their behaviour looks unseemly. And naturally so, for while they are in ecstasy, the audience are not. However we have reserved another place in which to treat of emotional passages.   

[4] G   The second fault of which we spoke above ** is Frigidity, of which there are many examples in Timaeus, ** in other respects a capable writer and sometimes far from barren in greatness of style, learned, and full of ideas. Yet while keenly critical of others' faults, he is blind and deaf to his own, and his insatiable passion for starting strange conceits often lands him in the most puerile bathos. 2 I shall only quote one or two examples from Timaeus, as Cecilius has forestalled me with most of them. In his eulogy of Alexander the Great he speaks of "one who subdued the whole of Asia in fewer years than Isocrates took to write his Panegyric urging war on Persia." Surely this is an odd comparison of the Macedonian to the sophist, for it is obvious, friend Timaeus, that on this showing Isocrates was a far better man than the Spartans, since they spent thirty years in subduing Messene, while he composed his Panegyric in no more than ten ! 3 Again, take his denunciation of the Athenian prisoners in Sicily : "Having committed sacrilege against Hermes and mutilated his statues they were therefore punished, mainly owing to the action of a single man, who was kin on his father's side to the injured deity, Hermocrates the son of Hermon." This makes me wonder, my dear Terentianus, why he does not write of the tyrant Dionysius that "Having shown impiety towards Zeus and Heracles, he was therefore deprived of his tyranny by Dion ** and Heracleides." 4 But why speak of Timaeus when those very demi-gods, Xenophon and Plato, for all their training in the school of Socrates, yet sometimes forget themselves in their fondness for such cheap effects. In his Constitution of Sparta Xenophon says, " Certainly you would hear as little speech from these Spartans as from marble statues, and could as easily catch the eye of a bronze figure ; indeed you might well think them as modest as the maidens in their eyes." ** It would have better suited Amphicrates than Xenophon to speak of the pupils in our eyes as modest maidens. And fancy believing that every single man of them had modest pupils, when they say that people show their immodesty in nothing so much as their eyes ! Why, an impudent fellow is called "Heavy with wine, with the eyes of a dog." ** 5 However, Timaeus, laying hands as it were on stolen goods, could not leave even this frigid conceit to Xenophon. For example, speaking of Agathocles when he carried off his cousin from the unveiling ceremony ** although she had been given in marriage to another, he says, " Who could have done such a thing, had he not harlots instead of maidens in his eyes ? " And what of the otherwise divine Plato ? 6 "They will inscribe and store in the temples," he says, "cypress memorials," ** meaning wooden tablets ; and again, "As for walls, Megillus, I would consent with Sparta to let the walls lie slumbering on the ground and never rise again." ** 7 Herodotus's phrase for fair women is not much better : "eye torture"  he calls them. ** Yet he has some excuse, for in Herodotus this is said by the barbarians, who are, moreover, in their cups. Yet even in the mouths of such characters as these it is not right to display an unseemly triviality before an audience of all the ages.   

[5] G   However, all these improprieties in literature are weeds sprung from the same seed, namely that passion for novel ideas which is the prevalent craze of the present day. For our virtues and vices spring from much the same sources. And so while beauty of style, sublime expression, yes, and agreeable phrasing all contribute to successful composition, yet these very graces are the source and groundwork no less of failure than of success And we must say the same, I suppose, about variety of construction and the use of exaggeration and the idiomatic plural. But we will show later ** the danger which they seem to us to involve. We are, then, bound at once to raise the question and to suggest how we can avoid the faults that go so closely with the elevated style.   

[6] G   And this, my friend, is the way. To obtain first of all a clear knowledge and appreciation of what is really sublime. And yet that is no easy task. For judgement in literature is the last fruit of ripe experience. However, if I must speak by precept, it is not impossible perhaps that a true discernment in such matters may be derived from some such considerations as these.   

[7] G   We must realise, dear friend, that as in our everyday life nothing is really great which it is a mark of greatness to despise, I mean, for instance, wealth, position, reputation, sovereignty, and all the other things which possess a deal of theatrical attraction, and yet to a wise man would not seem supremely good, since contempt for them is itself eminently good - certainly men feel less admiration for those who have these things than for those who could have them but are big enough to slight them - well, so it is with the grand style in poetry and prose. We must consider whether some of these passages have merely some such outward show of grandeur with a rich moulding of casual accretions, and whether, if all this is peeled off, they may not turn out to be empty bombast which it is more noble to despise than to admire ? 2 For the true sublime, by some virtue of its nature, elevates us : uplifted with a sense of proud possession, we are filled with joyful pride, as if we had ourselves produced the very thing we heard. 3 If, then, a man of sense, well-versed in literature, after hearing a passage several times finds that it does not affect him with a sense of sublimity, and does not leave behind in his mind more food for thought than the mere words at first suggest, but rather that on careful consideration it sinks in his esteem, then it cannot really be the true sublime, if its effect does not outlast the moment of utterance. ** For what is truly great gives abundant food for thought : it is irksome, nay, impossible, to resist its effect ; the memory of it is stubborn and indelible. 4 To speak generally, you should consider that to be truly beautiful and sublime which pleases all people at all times. For when men who differ in their habits, their lives, their tastes, their ages, their dates, all agree together in holding one and the same view about the same writings, then the unanimous verdict, as it were, of such discordant judges makes our faith in the admired passage strong and indisputable.   

[8] G   There are, one may say, some five genuine sources of the sublime in literature, the common groundwork, as it were, of all five being a natural faculty of expression, without which nothing can be done. The first and most powerful is the command of full-blooded ideas** - I have defined this in my book on Xenophon - and the second is the inspiration of vehement emotion. These two constituents of the sublime are for the most part congenital. But the other three come partly of art, namely the proper construction of figures - these being probably of two kinds, figures of thought and figures of speech - and, over and above these, nobility of phrase, which again may be resolved into choice of words and the use of metaphor and elaborated diction. The fifth cause of grandeur, which embraces all those already mentioned, is the general effect of dignity and elevation. ** Let us then consider all that is involved under each of these heads, merely prefacing this, that Cecilius has omitted some of these five classes, one obvious omission being that of emotion. 2 Now if he thought that sublimity and emotion were the same thing, and that one always essentially involved the other, he is wrong. For one can find emotion that is mean and devoid of sublimity, for instance feelings of commiseration, annoyance , and fear. On the other hand, many sublime passages are quite apart from emotion. There are thousands of examples, for instance, the poet's daring lines about the Aloadae : **   
  Ossa then up on Olympus they strove to set, then upon Ossa 
  Pelion, ashiver with leaves, to build them a ladder to Heaven ;   

and the still greater conception that follows,   
  Yea and indeed they had done it.  

3 Then again in the orators their eulogies and ceremonial speeches and show pieces throughout include touches of dignity and sublimity, yet are usually void of emotion. The result is that emotional orators excel least in eulogy, while panegyrists equally lack emotion. 4 If, on the other hand, it never entered Cecilius's head that emotion sometimes contributes towards sublimity, and he therefore omitted it as undeserving of mention, then great indeed is his mistake. I would confidently lay it down that nothing makes so much for grandeur as genuine emotion in the right place. It inspires the words as it were with a fine frenzy and fills them with divine afflatus.   

[9] G   Now, since the first, I mean natural genius,** plays a greater part than all the others, here too, although it is rather a gift than an acquired quality, we should still do our utmost to train our minds into sympathy with what is noble and, as it were, impregnate them again and again with lofty inspiration. 2 "How?" you will ask. Well, elsewhere I have written something like this, "Sublimity is the true ring of a noble mind." ** And so even without being spoken the bare idea often of itself wins admiration for its inherent genius. How grand, for instance, is the silence of Ajax in the Summoning of the Ghosts, ** more sublime than any speech. 3 In the first place, then, it is absolutely necessary to suggest its source and to show that the mind of the genuine orator must be neither small nor ignoble. For it is impossible that those whose thoughts and habits all their lives long are petty and servile should flash out anything wonderful, worthy of immortal life. 4 No, a great style is the natural outcome of weighty thoughts, and sublime sayings naturally fall to men of spirit. Alexander's answer to Parmenion when he said "For my part I had been content" . . . **   

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. . . the distance between earth and heaven. ** One might say too that this measured the stature not of Strife only but of Homer. 5 Quite unlike this is Hesiod's description of Gloom, if indeed we are right in adding the Shield to the list of Hesiod's works :   
  Rheum from her nostrils was running.**   

He has not made the image terrible, but offensive. But see how Homer magnifies the powers of heaven:   
  Far as a man can see with his eyes in the shadowy distance,
   Keeping his watch on a hill-top, agaze over the wine-dark ocean, 
  So far leap at a bound the high-neighing horses of heaven. **  

He makes their stride as far as the East is from the West. So supreme is the grandeur of this, one might well say that if the horses of heaven take two consecutive strides there will then be no place found for them in the world. 6 Again he shows the imagination of genius in his Battle of the Gods :   
  Gan then to trumpet around the firmament vast and Olympus; 
   Shuddering down in the depths, the king of the dead, Aidoneus, 
  Sprang from his throne with a shuddering cry, for fear the earth-shaker, Poseidon,
  Soon hereafter asunder should splinter the earth, and his mansions 
  Clear to the eyes of immortals and mortals alike should be opened 
  Grim and dreary and dank, which the very gods see with abhorrence.**   

You see, friend, how the earth is split to its foundations, hell itself laid bare, the whole universe sundered and turned upside down; and meanwhile everything, heaven and hell, mortal and immortal alike, shares in the conflict and danger of that battle. 7 Terrible as these passages are, all the same, unless one takes them allegorically, they are utterly irreligious and show no sense of what is fitting. I feel indeed that in recording as he does the wounding of the gods, their quarrels, vengeance, tears, imprisonment, and all their manifold passions Homer has done his best to make the men in the Iliad gods and the gods men. Yet, if we mortals are unhappy, death is the "appointed harbour from our sea of troubles," ** whereas Homer has given the gods not only immortal natures but immortal sorrows. 8 The Battle of the Gods, however, is far surpassed by those passages which represent the divine nature in its true attributes, pure, majestic, and unique. Take, for instance, the lines about Poseidon, though they have been treated fully enough by others before us :   
  Then were the woods and the long-lying ranges a-tremble. 
  Aye, and the peaks and the city of Troy and the ships of Achaia 
  Neath the immortal feet and the oncoming march of Poseidon. 
  He set him to drive o'er the swell of the sea, and the whales at his coming 
  Capering leapt from the deep and greeted the voice of their master. 
  Then the sea parted her waves for joy, and they flew on the journey. **   

9 So, too, the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary man, having formed a worthy conception of divine power, gave expression to it at the very threshold of his Laws, where he says : "God said" - what ? " 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 'Let there be earth,' and there was earth." **   

10 I need not fear to weary you, my friend, if I insert here another passage from the Poet, one that treats of human affairs, to show you his habit of entering into the sublimity of his heroic theme. Suddenly he plunges the battle of the Greeks into mist and helpless night. At his wits' end Ajax cries:   
  Zeus Father, rescue from out of the mist the sons of Achaia, 
  Brighten the heaven with sunshine, grant us the sight of our eyes. 
  So it be but in daylight, destroy us. **   

These are the true feelings of an Ajax. He does not plead for his life ; such a prayer would demean the hero : but since the ineffectual darkness robbed his courage of all noble use, therefore, distressed to be idle in battle, he prays for light on the instant, hoping thus at the worst to find a burial worthy of his courage, even though Zeus be ranged against him. 11 Here indeed Homer is swept away by the whirlwind of the battle and so affected by it that he too   
  Stormily raves, as the War-god, the spearman, or Fire, the destroyer, 
  Stormily raves on the hills in the deep-lying thickets of woodland ;  
  Fringed are his lips with the foam-froth. **   

Yet throughout the Odyssey, which for many reasons we must not exclude from our consideration, Homer shows that, as genius ebbs, it is the love of romance that characterises old age. 12 There are indeed many indications that he composed this after the Iliad beside the fact that throughout the Odyssey he introduces as episodes remnants of the adventures at  Ilium; yes, and does he not in this poem render to his heroes their share of lamentation as if it were a debt long due ? In fact the Odyssey may be called an epilogue to the Iliad ;   
  There then Ajax lies, great warrior ; there lies Achilles; 
  There, too, Patroclus lies, the peer of the gods in counsel; 
  There, too, mine own dear son. **   

13 It was, I imagine, for the same reason that, writing the Iliad in the heyday of his genius he made the whole piece lively with dramatic action, whereas in the Odyssey narrative predominates, the characteristic of old age. So in the Odyssey one may liken Homer to the setting sun ; the grandeur remains without the intensity. For no longer does he preserve the sustained energy of the great Iliad lays, the consistent sublimity which never sinks into flatness, the flood of moving incidents in quick succession, the versatile rapidity and actuality, brimful of images drawn from real life. It is rather as though the Ocean had shrunk into its lair and lay becalmed within its own confines. Henceforth we see the ebbing tide of Homer's greatness, as he wanders in the incredible regions of romance. 14 In saying this I have not forgotten the storms in the Odyssey and such incidents as that of the Cyclops - I am describing old age, but the old age of a Homer - yet the fact is that in every one of these passages reality is worsted by romance.   

I have been led into this digression to show you, as I said, that natural genius with the decline of vigour often falls very easily into garrulity - there is the story of the wine-skin ** and the men whom Circe turned into swine - Zoilus ** called them "porkers in tears" - there is the nurturing of Zeus like a nestling by the doves, Odysseus's ten-days' fast on the wrecked ship,** and the incredible story of the suitors' slaying. ** Can one call these aught but veritable dreams of Zeus ? **   

15 There is another justification for our considering the Odyssey as well as the Iliad. I wanted you to realize how with the decline of their emotional power great writers and poets give way to character-study. For instance, his character-sketches of the daily life in Odysseus's household are in the style of some comedy of character.   

[10] G   Well, then, let us see further whether we could find anything else that can make style sublime. Since with all things there are associated certain elements, essentially inherent in their substance, it follows that we shall find one factor of sublimity in a consistently happy choice of these constituent elements, and in the power of combining them together as it were into an organic whole. One writer for instance attracts the reader by the selection of ideas, another by the soldering of these selected. Sappho, for instance, never fails to take the emotions incident to the passion of love from the symptoms which accompany it in real life. And wherein does she show her excellence ? In the skill with which she selects and combines the most striking and intense of those symptoms.   
  2 I think him God's peer that sits near thee face to face, and listens to thy sweet speech and lovely laughter, 
  'Tis this that makes my heart flutter in my breast. If I see thee but for a little, my voice comes no more and my tongue is broken.  
  At once a delicate flame runs through my limbs ; my eyes are blinded and my ears thunder. 
  The sweat pours down: shivers hunt me all over, I am grown paler than grass, and very near to death I feel. **   

3 Is it not wonderful how she summons at the same time, soul, body, hearing, tongue, sight, colour, all as though they had wandered off apart from herself? She feels contradictory sensations, freezes, burns, raves, reasons - for one that is at the point of death is clearly beside herself. She wants to display not a single emotion, but a whole congress of emotions. Lovers all show such symptoms as these, but what gives supreme merit to her art is, as I said, the skill with which she chooses the most striking and combines them into a single whole. It is, I fancy, much in the same way that the poet in describing storms picks out the most alarming circumstances. 4 The author of the Arimaspeia, ** to be sure, thinks these lines awe-inspiring :   
  Here is another thing also that fills us with feelings of wonder, 
  Men that dwell in the water, away from the earth, on the ocean. 
  Sorrowful wretches they are, and theirs is a grievous employment: 
  Ever they rivet their eyes on the stars, their thoughts on the waters. 
  Often, I ween, to the gods they lift up their hands and they pray ; 
  Ever their innermost parts are terribly tossed to and fro.   

Anyone can see, I fancy, that this is more flowery than fearful. 5 But how does Homer do it ? Let us take one example of many :   
  He fell on the host as a wave of the sea on a hurrying vessel, 
  Rising up under the clouds, a boisterous son of the storm-wind. 
  The good ship is lost in the shroud of the foam, and the breath of the tempest 
  Terribly roars in the sails ; and the sailors for fear are atremble. 
  By the breadth of a hand swept out from under the jaws of destruction. **   

6 Aratus, too, tried to adapt this same idea :   
  'Tis but the tiniest plank that bars them from bitter destruction. **   

But he has demeaned the idea and made it elegant instead of awe-inspiring. Moreover, he defines the danger when he says, "A plank keeps off destruction," Why then, it does keep it off. Homer, on the other hand, instead of defining the danger once and for all, depicts the sailors as being all the time, again and again, with every wave on the very brink of death. Moreover, in the phrase "out from under the jaws of destruction," by forcing into an abnormal union prepositions not usually compounded he has tortured his language into conformity with, the impending disaster, magnificently figured the disaster by the compression of his language and almost stamped on the diction the form and feature of the danger - "swept out from under the jaws of destruction." 7 Comparable to this is the passage of Archilochus about the shipwreck ** and the description of the arrival of the news in Demosthenes. ** "Now it was evening," etc. What they have done is to make a clean sweep, as it were, of all the main points by order of merit, and to bring them together, allowing nothing affected or undignified or pedantic to intervene. For all such irrelevancies are like the introduction of gaps or open tracery ** in architecture : they utterly spoil the effect of sublime ideas, well ordered and built into one coherent structure. **   

[11] G   Closely allied to the merits distinguished above is what is called "amplification." ** Whenever the subject matter and the issues from section to section admit of several fresh starts and halting-places, then one great phrase after another is wheeled on to the stage with increasing force. 2 This may be done either by the development of a commonplace, or by exaggeration, or by laying stress on events or arguments, ** or by careful husbandry of facts or feelings. There are indeed ten thousand kinds of amplification. Still the speaker must recognize that without sublimity none of these methods by itself can form a perfect whole. One may indeed very well make an exception where the effect required is one of commiseration or depreciation, but in all other forms of amplification to remove the touch of sublimity is like taking soul from body. 3 For they lose their vigour at once and become nerveless and hollow without the tonic effect of the sublime. However, mere clarity demands that I should briefly define the difference between my present precepts and that of which I spoke above (the delimitation of the main points and their arrangement so as to form a single whole) and show generally in what respect sublimity is distinct from these effects of amplification.   

[12] G   The definition given in the text-books does not satisfy me. Amplification, they say, is language which invests the subject with grandeur. Now that definition could obviously serve just as well for the sublime, the emotional and the metaphorical style, since these also invest the language with some quality of grandeur. But in my view they are each distinct. Sublimity lies in elevation, amplification rather in amount ; 2 and so you often find sublimity in a single idea, whereas amplification always goes with quantity and a certain degree of redundancy. To give a rough definition, amplification consists in accumulating all the aspects and topics inherent in the subject and thus strengthening the argument by dwelling upon it. Therein it differs from proof, which demonstrates the required point . . . **   

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. . . very rich indeed : like a sea, often flooding a vast expanse of grandeur. 3 I should say then that in point of style the orator, ** being more emotional, has abundant warmth and passionate glow, whereas Plato, steady in his majestic and stately dignity, is far from cold, yet does not flash such fire. 4 It is in the very same respect - so I feel, my dear Terentianus, if indeed we Greeks may be allowed an opinion - that Cicero differs from Demosthenes in his grand effects. Demosthenes' strength is usually in rugged sublimity, Cicero's in diffusion. Our countryman with his violence, yes, and his speed, his force, his terrific power of rhetoric, burns, as it were, and scatters everything before him, and may therefore be compared to a flash of lightning or a thunder-bolt. Cicero seems to me like a widespread conflagration, rolling along and devouring all around it : his is a strong and steady fire, its flames duly distributed, now here, now there, and fed by relays of fuel. 5 You Romans, of course, can form a better judgement on this question, but clearly the opportunity for Demosthenes' sublimity and nervous force comes in his intensity and violent emotion, and in passages where he has utterly to dumbfound the audience ; whereas diffuseness is in place when you need to overwhelm them with a flood of rhetoric. The latter then mostly suits the treatment of a commonplace, a peroration, a digression, and all descriptive and "show" passages, history, too, and natural philosophy as well as various other kinds of literature.   

[13] G   However, to return to Plato, despite his noiseless current, he none the less attains greatness. You have read the Republic and you know his style. "Those who have then no experience," he says, "of wisdom or of goodness, living always amid banquets and other such festivities, are seemingly carried downwards and there they wander all their lives. They have never yet raised their eyes to the truth, never been carried upwards, never tasted true, abiding pleasure. They are like so many cattle ; stooping downwards, with their eyes always bent on the earth and on their dinner tables, they feed and fatten and breed, and so greedy are they for these enjoyments that they kick and butt with hooves and horns of iron and kill each other for insatiate desire." **   

2 Here is an author who shows us, if we will condescend to see, that there is another road, besides those we have mentioned, which leads to sublimity. What and what manner of road is this ? Zealous imitation of the great historians and poets of the past. That is the aim, dear friend, and we must hold to it with all our might. For many are carried away by the inspiration of another, just as the story runs that the Pythian priestess on approaching the tripod where there is, they say, "a rift in the earth upbreathing steam divine," becomes thereby impregnated with the divine power and is at once inspired to utter oracles ; so, too, from the natural genius of those old writers there flows into the hearts of their admirers as it were an emanation from the mouth of holiness. ** Inspired by this, even those who are not easily moved by the divine afflatus share the enthusiasm of these others' grandeur.   

3 Was Herodotus alone "Homeric in the Highest" ? No, there was Stesichorus at a still earlier date and Archilochus too, ** and above all others Plato, who has irrigated his style with ten thousand runnels from the great Homeric spring. We might need to give instances, had not Ammonius ** and his pupils drawn up a classified selection. 4 Such borrowing is no theft ; it is rather like taking an impression from fine characters as one does from moulded figures or other works of art. Plato would never have reared so many of these flowers to bloom among his philosophic tenets, never have wandered so often with Homer into the regions and phrases of poetry, had he not striven, yea with heart and soul, to contest the prize with Homer like a young antagonist with one who had already won his spurs, perhaps in too keen emulation, longing as it were to break a spear, and yet always to good purpose. For, as Hesiod says, "Good is this strife for mankind." Fair indeed is the crown, and the fight for fame well worth the winning, where even to be worsted by our forerunners is not without glory.   

[14] G   We too, then, when we are working at some passage that demands sublimity of thought and expression, should do well to form in our hearts the question, "How perchance would Homer have said this, how would Plato or Demosthenes have made it sublime or Thucydides in his history?" Emulation will bring those great characters before our eyes, and like guiding stars they will lead our thoughts to the ideal standards of perfection. 2 Still more will this be so, if we give our minds the further hint, "How would Homer or Demosthenes, had either been present, have listened to this passage of mine ? How would it have affected them ?" Great indeed is the ordeal, if we propose such a jury and audience as this to listen to our own utterances and make believe that we are submitting our work to the scrutiny of such superhuman witnesses and judges. 3 Even more stimulating would it be to add, "If I write this, how would all posterity receive it ?"   

But if a man shrinks at the very thought of saying anything that exceeds the comprehension of his own time, then must all the conceptions of that man's nature be like some blind, half-formed embryo, all too abortive for the life of posthumous fame.   

[15] G   Weight, grandeur, and energy in writing are very largely produced, dear pupil, by the use of " images." (That at least is what some people call the actual mental pictures.) For the term Imagination is applied in general to an idea which enters the mind from any source and engenders speech, 2 but the word has now come to be used predominantly of passages where, inspired by strong emotion, you seem to see what you describe and bring it vividly before the eyes of your audience. That imagination means one thing in oratory and another in poetry you will yourself detect, and also that the object of poetry is to enthral, ** of prose writing to present things vividly, though both indeed aim at this latter and at excited feeling.   
  Mother, I beg thee goad not on against me 
  These snake-like hags with silent bloody feet. 
  See there ! See there ! They leap upon me close. **   

And -  
  Ah, she will slay me, whither shall I flee ? **   

In these passages the poet himself had Furies before his eyes and almost compelled the audience to see what he imagined. 3 Now Euripides spends his fondest efforts in presenting these two emotions, madness and love, in tragic guise, and succeeds more brilliantly with these emotions than, I think, with any others ; not that he lacks enterprise to attack other forms of imagination as well. While his natural genius is certainly not sublime, yet in many places he forces it into the tragic mould and invariably in his grand passages, as the poet says,   
  His tail at his ribs and his flanks now lashes on this, now on that side. 
  Ever he spurs himself on to share in the joys of the battle. **   

4 For instance, when Helios hands over the reins to Phaëthon : -   
  "And see thou drive not to the Libyan clime.  
  Its torrid air with no damp humour tempered 
  Will fire thy wheel and melt it."   

And he goes on,   
  "But for the seven Pleiads shape thy course." 
  This heard, young Phaëthon caught up the reins, 
  Slashed at the flanks of his wing-wafted team. 
  And launched them flying to the cloudy coombs. 
  Behind, his sire, astride the Dog-star's back, 
  Rode, schooling thus his son. "Now, drive thou there, 
  Now this way wheel thy car, this way." **   

Would you not say that the writer's feelings are aboard the car, sharing the perilous flight of those winged horses ? Never could he have shown such imagination, had he not run neck and neck with those celestial doings. You find the same in his Cassandra's speech beginning   
  Nay, Trojans, lovers of horse flesh. **   

5 Aeschylus ventures upon imaginative passages of the true heroic mould. For instance he says of his Seven against Thebes :   
  Seven resistless captains o'er a shield 
   Black-bound with hide have slit a bullock's throat, 
  And dipped their fingers in the bullock's blood. 
   Swearing a mighty oath by War and Havoc 
   And Panic, bloodshed's lover   

- where they all pledge themselves to each other to die "apart from pity." ** Sometimes, however, he introduces rough ideas, all woolly, as it were, and ragged,** and yet Euripides' emulation leads him to embark on the same perilous path. 6 Aeschylus uses a startling phrase of Lycurgus's palace, magically possessed at the appearance of Dionysus,   
  The house breathes ecstasy, the roof-tree revels. **   

Euripides expressed the same idea differently, softening it down,   
  And all the mountain felt 
   And worshipped with them. **   

7 Sophocles describes with superb imagination the dying Oedipus, conducting his own burial amid strange portents in the sky ; ** and Achilles at the departure of the Greeks, when he appears above his tomb to those embarking,** a scene which nobody perhaps has depicted so vividly as Simonides. But to give all the instances would be endless. 8 However, as I said, these examples from poetry show a romantic exaggeration, far exceeding the limits of credibility, whereas the most perfect effect of imagination in oratory is always one of reality and truth. The exceptions to this rule have a strange, outlandish air, when the texture of the speech is poetical and romantic and deviates into all sorts of impossibilities For instance, our wonderful modern orators - save the mark ! - are like so many tragedians in seeing Furies, and the fine fellows cannot even understand that when Orestes says,   
  Avaunt ! Of mine own Furies art thou one 
   That clip my waist to cast me down to Hell, **  

he only imagines that, because he is mad. 9 What then is the use of imagination in rhetoric? It may be said generally to introduce a great deal of vigour and emotion into one's speeches, but when combined with argumentative treatment it not only convinces the audience, it positively masters them. Take Demosthenes : "And yet, suppose that at this very moment we were to hear an uproar in front of the law courts and someone were to tell us, 'The prison has been broken open and the prisoners are escaping,' there is no man, old or young, so careless that he would not run to give all the assistance in his power. But suppose someone were to come and actually tell us that this was the man who set them free, he would be killed on the moment without a hearing." ** 10 And then, to be sure, there is Hypereides on his trial, when he had moved the enfranchisement of the slaves after the Athenian reverse. "It was not the speaker that framed this measure, but the Battle of Chaeroneia. " ** There, besides developing his technical argument the orator uses his imagination and consequently his conception far exceeds the limits of mere persuasion. 11 In all such cases the stronger accents seem naturally to catch our ears, so that our attention is drawn from the reasoning to the enthralling effect of the imagination, and the technique is concealed in a halo of brilliance. And this effect on us is natural enough ; set two forces side by side and the stronger always borrows the virtues of the other.   

12 This must suffice for our treatment of sublimity in ideas, as produced by nobility of mind or imitation ** or imagination.   

[16] G   The topic of figures next claims attention, for these too, if rightly handled, may be, as I said, ** an important element in the sublime. However, since it would be a long and indeed an interminable task to treat them all in detail at this point, we will by way of strengthening our position merely run through a few of those which make for grandeur. 2 To proceed then, Demosthenes is producing an argument in favour of his policy. ** What was the natural way to treat it? "You were not wrong, men of Athens, in undertaking that struggle for the freedom of Greece, and you have proof of this near home, for neither were the men at Marathon misguided nor those at Salamis nor those at Plataea." But when in a sudden moment of inspiration, as if possessed by the divine afflatus, he utters his great oath about the champions of Greece, "It cannot be that you were wrong ; no, by those who bore the brunt at Marathon," then you feel that by employing the single figure of adjuration - which I here call apostrophe - he has deified his ancestors by suggesting that one should swear by men who met such a death, as if they were gods : he has filled his judges with the spirit of those who bore the brunt there : he has transformed his argument into a passage of transcendent sublimity and emotion, giving it the power of conviction that lies in so strange and startling an oath : and at the same time his words have administered to his hearers a remedy and an antidote, with the result that, relieved by his eulogy, they come to feel as proud of the war with Philip as of their victories at Marathon and Salamis. In all this by the use of the figure he is enabled to carry the audience away with him. 3 True he is said to have found the germ of the oath in Eupolis :   
  Nay, by the fight I fought at Marathon, 
  No one of them shall unscathed vex my heart. **   

But the mere swearing of an oath is not sublime : we must consider the place, the manner, the circumstances, the motive. In Eupolis there is nothing but an oath, and that addressed to Athens, when still in prosperity and needing no encouragement. Moreover, the poet's oath does not immortalise the men so as to beget in the audience a true opinion of their worth, but instead he wanders from those who bore the brunt to an inanimate object, namely "the fight." In Demosthenes the oath is carefully designed to suit the feelings of defeated men, so that the Athenians should no longer regard Chaeroneia as a disaster ; and it is, as I said, at the same time a proof that no mistake has been made, an example, a sworn confirmation, a eulogy, and a stimulus. 4 The orator was faced with the objection, "You are speaking of a reverse due to your policy and then you go swearing by victories," and therefore in the sequel he proceeds to measure his every word and keeps on the safe side, inculcating the lesson that "in the very whirlwind of passion you must beget a temperance." ** "Those who bore the brunt," he says, "at Marathon and those who fought on shipboard at Salamis and Artemisium and those who faced the Persians at Plataea" - never "those who won the victory." Throughout he cunningly avoids naming the result, because it was successful and the opposite of what happened at Chaeroneia. So before his hearers can raise the objection he promptly adds, " To all of these the country gave a public funeral, Aeschines, not only to those who were successful.''   

[17] G   While on this topic I must not omit to mention a view of my own, dear friend, which I will state, however, quite concisely. Figures seem to be natural allies of the sublime and to draw in turn marvellous reinforcement from the alliance. Where and how ? I will tell you. There is an inevitable suspicion attaching to the unconscionable use of figures. It gives a suggestion of treachery, craft, fallacy, especially when your speech is addressed to a judge with absolute authority, or still more to a despot, a king, or a ruler in high place. He is promptly put out, if he is treated like a simple child and outwitted by the figures of a sophisticated speaker. Construing the fallacy as a personal affront, he sometimes turns absolutely savage ; and even if he controls his feelings, he becomes wholly hostile to the reasoning of the speech. So find that a figure is always most effective when it conceals the very fact of its being a figure. 2 The sublimity and the effect on the emotions are a wonderfully helpful antidote against the suspicion that accompanies the use of figures. The effrontery of the artifice is somehow lost in its brilliant setting of beauty and grandeur : it is no longer obvious, and thus avoids all suspicion. A sufficient instance is that mentioned above, "By those at Marathon." In that case how did the orator conceal the figure ? Obviously by its very brilliance.** Much in the same way that dimmer lights vanish in the surrounding radiance of the sun, so the all-embracing atmosphere of grandeur obscures the rhetorical devices. 3 We see something of the same kind in painting. Though the high lights and shadows lie side by side in the same plane, yet the high lights spring to the eye and seem not only to stand out but to be actually much nearer. So it is in writing. What is sublime and moving lies nearer to our hearts, and thus, partly from a natural affinity, partly from brilliance of effect, it always strikes the eye long before the figures, thus throwing their art into the shade and keeping it hid as it were under a bushel.   

[18] G   Now what are we to say of our next example, the figures of question and answer ? Is it not just their appeal to the imagination which braces his ** language into greater vigour and rapidity ? "Tell me, my friend, do you all want to go round asking each other 'Is there any news ?' For what stranger news could there be than this of a Macedonian conquering Greece ? 'Is Philip dead ?'  'No, not dead but ill.' What difference does it make to you ? Whatever happens to him, you will soon manufacture another Philip for yourselves." ** Or again : "Let us sail to Macedon. Someone asks me, 'Where on earth shall we land ?'  Why, the mere course of the war will find out the weak spots in Philip's fortunes." ** Here a bare statement would have been utterly inadequate. As it is, the inspiration and quick play of the question and answer, and his way of meeting his own words as if they were someone else's, make the passage, through his use of the figure, not only loftier but also more convincing. 2 For emotion is always more telling when it seems not to be premeditated by the speaker but to be born of the moment ; and this way of questioning and answering one's self counterfeits spontaneous emotion. People who are cross-questioned by others in the heat of the moment reply forcibly and with utter candour ; and in much the same way the figure of question and answer misleads the audience into supposing that each carefully premeditated argument is aroused in the mind and put into words on the spur of the moment. Moreover - for this passage of Herodotus has always been reckoned one of the most sublime - if in this way . . .   

[Two pages of the ms. are here missing.]   

[19] G   . . . ** the phrases drop out unconnected in a sort of spate, almost too quick for the speaker himself. "And locking their shields," says Xenophon, "they pushed, fought, slew, fell." 2 And take the words of Eurylochus,   
  We came, as thou badest us come, through the oak-coppice, shining Odysseus.   
  Builded in thickets we saw habitations of wonderful beauty. **   

The phrases being disconnected and yet none the less rapid give the idea of an agitation which both checks the utterance and at the same time hounds it on. Something of this kind the Poet has expressed by his use of asyndeton.   

[20] G   The combination of several of these figures often has a supremely moving effect, when two or three co-operate as it were together to contribute force, conviction, beauty. Thus, for instance, in the speech against Meidias ** the asyndeta are interwoven with the figures of repetition and vivid presentation.   

"For the aggressor may do many injuries, some of which the victim could not even describe to anyone else - by his manner, his looks, his voice." 2 Then to prevent the speech running on in the same groove - for monotony expresses quiet, while emotion, being a violent upheaval of the soul, demands disorder - he leaps at once into further asyndeta and repetitions. "By his manner, his looks, his voice, when he strikes with insult, when he strikes like an enemy, when he strikes with his knuckles, when he strikes you like a slave." ** Here the orator does just the same as the aggressor, he belabours the minds of the jury with blow after blow. 3 Then at this point he proceeds to make another whirlwind onslaught. "When it's with his knuckles, when it's a slap on the face," he says, "this rouses, this maddens a man who is not accustomed to insult. Nobody by describing this could convey its effect." Thus all the time he preserves the essence of his repetitions and asyndeta through continual variation, so that his very order is disordered and equally his disorder implies a certain element of order.   

[21] G   Now insert the connecting particles, if you care to do so, in the style of Isocrates and his school.** "And yet one must not overlook this too, that the aggressor may do much, first by his manner, then by his looks, and then again by his mere voice." If you thus paraphrase it sentence by sentence you will see that if the rush and ruggedness of the emotion is fined down and smoothed out by the use of connecting particles, it falls flat and immediately loses all its point and fire. 2 For just as you deprive runners of their speed if you tie them together, emotion equally resents being hampered by connecting particles and other such appendages. It loses its freedom of motion and its effect of coming like a bolt from a catapult.   

[22] G   In the same category we must place Inversion. This figure consists in arranging words and thoughts out of the natural sequence, and bears, so to speak, the genuine stamp of vehement emotion. Just as people who are really angry or frightened or worried or are carried away from time to time by jealousy or any other feeling - there are countless emotions, more than one can say - often put forward one point and then spring off to another with various illogical interpolations, and then wheel round again to their original position, while , under the stress of their excitement, like a ship before a veering wind, they lay their words and thoughts first on one tack then another, and keep altering the natural order of sequence into innumerable variations - so, too, the best prose-writers by the use of inversions imitate nature and achieve the same effect. For art is only perfect when it looks like nature and Nature succeeds only by concealing art about her person. Take the speech of Dionysius, the Phocaean, in Herodotus. ** "Indeed our fortunes stand upon a razor's edge, men of Ionia, whether we be free men or slaves, aye, and runaway slaves. Now, therefore if you are willing to endure hardship, at the moment there is toil for you, but you will be able to overcome your enemies." 2 Here the natural order was, "O men of Ionia, now is the time for you to endure toil, for our fortunes stand upon a razor's edge." He has transposed the "men of Ionia" and started at once with his fears ; so pressing was the danger that he would not even address the audience first. He has, moreover, inverted the order of ideas. Before saying that they must toil - for that is the point of his exhortation - he first gives the reason why they must toil, by saying, "Our fortunes stand upon a razor's edge." The result is that his words do not seem premeditated but rather wrung from him. 3 Thucydides is still cleverer at using inversions to separate ideas which are naturally one and indivisible. Demosthenes, though not indeed so wilful as Thucydides, is the most insatiable of all in this kind of use and not only employs inversions to give a great effect of vehemence, and also, if you please, of improvisation, but even drags his audience along with him to share the peril of his long inversions. 4 For he often hangs up the sense which he has begun to express, and meanwhile manages to wheel on to the empty stage one extraneous idea after another in a strange and unlikely order, making the audience terrified for the total collapse of the sentence and compelling them from sheer excitement to share the speaker's risk : then unexpectedly, after a great interval, the long-lost phrase turns up at the end, so that he astounds them all the more by the mere reckless audacity of his inversions. But there are so many examples that I must stay my hand.      

Following chapters (23-44)


1.   A Sicilian rhetorician, in religion a Jew, who taught at Rome in the time of Augustus.

2.   This remark is attributed both to Pythagoras and to Demosthenes.

3.   There seems to be no authority for taking this, as Pope does, in the sense of "bathos". The adjective βαθύς applied to mental qualities means "deep", not "low".

4.   Aristocrates, § 113.

5.   From Aeschylus's Oreithyia, now lost. The speaker is Boreas.

6.   As these words are not in the quotation, some of it is presumably lost.

7.   A historian who flourished about 300 B.C.

8.   Historian of Alexander the Great, his contemporary.

9.   These lines, quoted in a fuller form by Cicero (Ad Att. ii. 16. 2), are probably from an Oreithyia by Sophocles. The φορβειά was a cheek-strap worn by pipers to check the flow of breath. The coronal in l. 3 may be a blast of wind.

10.   Amphicrates of Athens (first century B.C.), Hegesias of Magnesia (third century B.C.), Matris of Thebes (? second century B.C.), were rhetoricians of the bombastic "Asiatic" school.

11.   ῥῶπος means "trash," trumpery wares.

12.   Theodorus was a Gadarene rhetorician of the first century B.C., one of whose pupils was the Emperor Tiberius. Parenthyrson means the poking in of the thyrsus at the wrong time, i.e, the affectation of Bacchanalian fury where no fury need be (Saintsbury).

13.   chap. iii. § 4.

14.   A Sicilian historian at the end of the fourth century B.C. He was so critical that he was nicknamed Ἐπιτίμαιος, "fault-finder".

15.   Since the genitive of Zeus is Διός, this ironically supplies a conceit which matches Timaeus's play on "Hermes" aand "Hermocrates the son of Hermon."

16.   The pupil of the eye, since it reflects a doll-like image of one who looks close into it, was called κόρη, a maiden. Hence the conceit. Oddly enough our text of Xenophon reads "maidens in their chambers", τῶν ἐν τοῖς θαλάμοις παρθένων, Xen. De re publica Laced. 3.5.

17.   Hom. Il, i. 235.

18.   i.e. the third day of the marriage ceremonies.

19.   Laws, v. 741 c.

20.   Laws, vi. 778 d.

21.   v. 18.

22.   Chapters xxiii and xxxviii.

23.   Or "if its appeal is only to the ear."

24.   ἁδρός means "solid," "robust," and is used in literary criticism in a sense similar to δεινός, "vehement." "Weighty and solid thought" is the meaning. The book on Xenophon is lost ; perhaps he means merely "remarks on Xenophon" in some other treatise.

25.   The five "sources" are (1) the command of full-blooded ideas; (2) emotion; (3) the proper  use of "figures" ; (4) nobility of phrase; (5) general effect.   In chapter xxxix. σύνθεσις means the arrangement of words. Here the phrase seems to mean the putting together of the words and clauses into a total effect of grandeur, making a whole of them.

26.   Homer, Od. 3xi. 315.

27.   This is apparently a synonym for "the command of full-blooded ideas," stated in the last chapter to be the first source of the sublime.

28.   The metaphor is from a bell which "rings true" when struck. At the stroke of circumstance the noble mind gives the true note. cf. R.L.S. "Bright is the ring of words, when the right man rings them" and Newman's "Style is the shadow of a personality."

29.   Od. xi. 543-567. Ajax, summoned from Hades, keeps a grim silence, still incensed at the award of Achilles' arms to Odysseus, an affront which caused his suicide.

30.   The story runs that Parmenion said to Alexander that had he been Alexander he would have been content to have brought the war to an end on the terms offered without venturing further, and that Alexander replied he would have done so himself, had he been Parmenion. Arrian ii. 25. 2.

31.   When the ms. resumes Longinus is evidently discussing the description of Strife in Iliad, iv. 442 :-
  "Small is the crest that she rears at the first, but behold her thereafter
  Planting her head in the skies, while she treads with her feet on the earth."

32.   Hesiod, Shield of Heracles, 267.

33.   Iliad, v. 770.

34.   A conflation of two theomachies, (a) Il. xxi. 388 (confused in quotation with v. 750), and (5) Il. xx. 61-65.

35.   A reminiscence of a lost passage in Aescbylns much quoted in antiquity.

36.   Another conflation : Iliad, xii. 18 ; xx. 60 ; xiii. 19, 27-29.

37.   The sense but not the exact words of Genesis i. 3 and 9.   "The idea of the first and instantaneous appearance of light ... is sublime ; and its primary appeal is to sense. The further idea that this transcendently glorious apparition is due to mere words, to a breath, . . . heightens enormously the impression of absolutely immeasurable power." - A. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry, p. 57.

38.   Iliad, xvii. 645.

39.   Iliad, xv. 605.

40.   Odyssey, iii. 102-113. Nestor is telling Telemachus of the days at Troy.

41.   Od. x. It was in a wine-skin that Aeolus imprisoned for Odysseus the adverse winds, which his meddlesome companions released.

42.   A grammarian - probably of the fourth century B.C. - who was known as Homer's Scourge.

43.   There is possibly in Od. xii. 63 an allusion to the tale that Zeus, hiding in Crete from his father Chronos, was fed by doves. Odysseus's ten-days' swim without food comes at the end of the same book.

44.   Od. xxii.

45.   Dreams - divine indeed - but idle in our critic's eyes when compared with the "lively dramatic action" of the Iliad. Besides, the Iliad describes real fighting, the serious business of life ; the Odyssey is but a divine tale. A typical "ancient" point of view. They decried Romance.

46.   I could neither find nor contrive any tolerable verse translation of this.

47.   Aristeas of Proconnesus, who wrote an epic in three books on the Arimaspi of the farthest north. Herodotus (iv. 27) says their name was derived from Scythian words, arima = "one" and spou = "eye."

48. Od. xv. 624.


49.   Phaenomena, 299.

50.   There are two existing fragments of Archilochus to which this might possibly refer: ἵστη κατ' ἤκην κύματός τε κἀνέμου, "he stood on the razor-edge of wave and wind," or ψυχὰς ἔχοντες κυμάτων ἐν ἀγκάλαις, "their hearts lay locked in the waves' embrace."

51.   De corona, § 169. Demosthenes describes the alarm at Athens caused by the news that Philip of Macedon had captured and fortified Elateia, 339 B.C.

52.   Literally "perforations," cf. xxxii. 5.

53.   This sentence has been infinitely emended without much benefit. I take τὰ μεγ. as object of λυμ. and τὸ ὅλον as adverbial. The general sense is that Homer's ideas are aU solid masonry.

54.   Effect of accumulation, "piling it on."

55.   i.e. tours de force.

56.   "Whereas amplification serves to enhance conviction" : so our author presumably continued and then proceeded to illustrate Plato's skill in amplification and to compare his style with that of Demosthenes. It is of Plato that he is speaking when the ms. resumes.

57.   Demosthenes.


58.   Republic, ix. 586 A, with slight omissions.

59.   He seems to play on the two meanings of στόμιον, the mouth of a prophet and the mouth or rift in the rocky floor in the Priestess's chamber at Delphi, out of which there rose an intoxicating vapour.

60.   Quintilian calls Stesichorus a "lyric Homer," and Archilochus, the iambic satirist, was regarded as one of the great originals. They both belong to the seventh century B.C.

61.   A pupil of Aristarchus who took over his school at Alexandria. He composed a work on "Plato's debt to Homer."

62.   ἔκπληξις means startling people out of their wits, emotional illusion.

63.   Eurip. Or. 255. Orestes on his sick-bed in a fit of mania sees Clytaemnestra setting the Furies at him.

64.   Eurip. I.T. 291. A herdsman describing to Iphigeneia how he saw Orestes in a fit of madness on the shore, quotes this as one of his wild utterances.

65.   Iliad. xx. 170. The simile is a wounded lion, to which Homer compares Achilles preparing to fight with Aeneas.

66.   These passages are from the lost Phaëthon.

67.   From a lost play, perhaps the Alexander.

68.   Septem. 42-46 ; "apart from pity" is a reminiscence of l. 51.

69.   ἀμαλάκτους = lit. "untanned," i.e. raw, crude.

70.   From the lost trilogy, which dealt with Dionysus's coming to Thrace, Lycurgus's resistance and the final establishment of the Dionysian religion in Thrace.

71.   Bacchae, 726. A messenger is describing to Pentheus how he saw the Bacchanals on Mt. Cithaeron -
  πᾶν δὲ συνεβάκχευ' ὄρος
  καὶ θῆρες, οὐδὲν δ' ἦν ἀκίνητον δρόμῳ.

72.   See Oed. Col. 1586-1666.

73.   In his lost Polyxena.

74.   Eurip. Orestes, 264.

75.   Timocrates, § 208.

76.   Plutarch tells how after Philip's victory at Chaeronela (338 B.C.) which ended the freedom of Athens, Demosthenes' supporter, Hypereides, proposed in panic an illegal extension of the franchise and, when subsequently impeached, said "The arms of Macedon obscured my vision. It was not I that made the proposal ; it was the battle of Chaponeia."

77.   See Chapter xiii § 2.

78.   Chapter viii.

79.   De corona, 208. Demosthenes is defending against Aeschines his aggressive policy, which had led to the disastrous defeat at Chaeroneia. He appeals to past history to prove that it was sound, however unsuccessful.

80.   From the Demes of the comedian Eupolls, a contemporary of Aristophanes.

81.   The reference to Hamlet III, ii. may be justified by the author's reminiscence of Euripides' Bacchae, 317 -
  καὶ γὰρ ἐν βακχεύμασιν
  οὖσ' ἥ γε σώφρων οὐ διαφθαρήσεται,
  In the wildest rite
  Cometh no stain to her whose heart is white.

82.   Cf. Ch. xv. § 11.

83.   i.e. Demosthenes, who in the Greek is the implied subject of the verb.

84.   Phil. i. § 10, slightly altered.

85.   Phil. i. § 44, slightly altered.

86.   The subject is now the figure Asyndeton, omission of conjunctive particles.

87.   In Od. 251. The words are slightly different from those of our text.

88.   § 72.

89.   This last clause is not in our texts of the Meidias. There are a few other less important alterations.

90.   Isaeus, Hypereides, Theopompus, etc.

91.   vi. 11.

Following chapters (23-44)

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