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LONGINUS (~50 CE)
Transcript of LONGINUS (~50 CE)
"On Height" or "On the Sublime"
A Rhetoric teacher
Written as private a letter to a patron
Not published until Renaissance c. 1554
Part of "grand style"
What is the Sublime (
"Sublimity is a kind of eminence or excellence of discourse. It is the source of the distinction of the very greatest poets and prose writers and the means by which they have given life to their own fame" (347)
Exerts invincible power & force
Exerts controllable influence
A result of a "whole context"
A result of single passages
Dependent on the "right moment"
Exhibited at any time
Dr. Martin Luther King's speech at Western Michigan University (Dec 18th, 1963).
Delivered 3 April 1968, Mason Temple , Memphis, Tennessee. Shot and killed the next day.
To understand what the sublime IS....
let's look at what it certainly ISN'T.
sound like the stuff this idiot says.
Because it makes people feel like this.
Bad Style #1: Turgidity
Swollen, distended diction and confused imagery to sound "inflated"
Bad Style #2: Peurility
Pedantic, over-worked prose that aims at originality but ends up with the affectation of an adolescent with a new toy
Bad Style #3: Pseudo-Bacchanalian
Use of florid, emotional imagery when in fact there is nothing emotional about the subject
Good Will Hunting
How do we produce the sublime?
Painting: Caspar David Friedrich,
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog
, 1817, a typical representation of the 19th century sublime
The sublime makes an audience feel "elevated and exalted" and filled with "joy and pride," it comes upon them all at once in a moment, it makes a "strong and ineffaceable impression on the memory," is "impossible to resist," and contains must "food for reflection." (350)
Creating the sublime requires:
The power to conceive great thoughts
Strong and inspired emotion
Figures of thought and figures of speech
Dignified and elevated word arrangement
"A structure whose cohesion depends upon their mutual relations." (354)
"You wheel up one impressive unit after another to give a series of increasing importance" (354)
, not mere quantitative
(Not mere aggregation, but balanced parts of a whole)
"When enthusiasm and emotion make the speaker
what he is saying and bring it
before his audience." (356).
(In poetry, aim is
, but in oratory, the aim is
which both "persuades" and "enslaves" hearer)
"The way of imitation [is] emulation of great writers of the past" (355)
(In all this there is no plagiarism. It resembles the reproduction of good character in statues and works of art)
Shuttle Challenger Disaster
6 / 3 / 1986
President Reagan's Response
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
(9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941) was an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II. He was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war. He is most famous for his poem
A similar effect was achieved by the lawgiver of the Jews - no mean genius, for he both understood and gave expression to the power of the divinity as it deserved - when he wrote at the very beginning of his laws - I quote his words - "God said" - what? - "'Let there be light.' And there was. 'Let there be earth.' And there was." ~ Longinus