Longinus: On the Sublime

Student contributions from our class discussion



- Sublimity is a certain distinction and excellence in expression.
- The effect of elevated language upon an audience is not persuasion but transport.
- The influences of the sublime bring power and irresistible might to bear, and reign supreme over every hearer.
- Sublimity flashing forth at the right moment scatters evrything before it like a thunderbolt.

Chapter 2:
"while nature as a rule is free and independent in matters of passion and elevation, yet is she wont not to act at random and utterly without system. Further, nature is the original and vital underlying principle in all cases, but system can define limits and fitting seasons, and can also contirbute the safest rules for use and practice. Moreover, the expression of the sublime is more exposed to danger when it goes its own way without the guidance of knowledge"
"good fortune is the greatest of blessings, while good counsel, which occupies the second place, is hardly inferior in importance, since its absence contributes inevitably to the run of the former" 
Longinus believes that a lofty tone (or expression of the sublime) doesn't mainly depend on talent (nature or innate as he calls it) but also knowledge to guide and protect the expression of the sublime.


In chapter 3, Longinus talks about the faults in the style of sublimity.
There are three faults in the style of sublimity. The first fault is tumidity, which basically means fancy or elevated language. Then comes puerility, which is the opposite of tumidity and means weak or dry language. Last but not least we have parenthyrsus which means empty passion or passion that is not well suited to the occasion.

In chapter 6 : The best means would be to gain clear knowledge and appreciation the true sublime. not just knowledge. He also said that these means needs a long experience.

In chapter 7 longinus mentioned two clear points about the sublime. The first point is that the sublime is greater than material stuff. The reason for this according to longinus is because riches and honor is considered to be mere vanity. However, the sublime becomes more admired when it analyzed.

The second point is: any work of art that survived through the years is considered a sublime.