October 22, 2012


The biggest thing I took away from Longinus' essay On the Sublime was the part when he addressed the "five most productive sources of sublimity" (Longinus 350).  The five sources are as follows:

(i) The first and most important is the power to conceive great thoughts...
(ii) The second is strong and inspired emotion.  (These two sources are for the most part natural; the remaining three involve art.)
(iii) Certain kinds of figures. (These may be divided into figures of thought and figured of speech.)
(iv) Noble diction.  This has as subdivsions choice of words and the use of metaphorical and artificial language.
(v) Finally, to round off the whole list, dignified and elevated word-arrangement.
(Longinus 350)

I found this to be the most important because it was the prime example of Longinus explaining what is needed for a piece of writing to be useful. 

He explained this on the first page by saying "two things are required of any textbook: first, that is should explain what its subject is; second, and more important, that it should explain how and by what methods we can achieve it" (Longinus 346).  Longinus does the former easily in the beginning of his essay and achieves the latter, more important one, in the five steps that he explains that I also listed above.  I wanted to touch on this because I do think that the two things Longinus mentioned are crucial but I also think there is one more important aspect.  I think the final important aspect needed is that both of these things need to be clear to the reader.  This is where the writer-reader relationship comes into play.  For example, a writer needs to make it clear in his/her essay what his topic is but also make it clear how that certain topic can be achieved.  I think that is something Longinus did very well.  He made it clear what the premise of his essay was and also made it abundantly clear how that could be achieved in the five steps that I quoted above. 


Drea Fetchik said...

I found those 5 points to be the easiest to address within his piece as well. i think it's because he identified them clearly, unlike the chart which i felt was lacking things and was a miss communication because of the way he deiced to label things on way an not the other.

I also think that you picked some really goos points in how he described what a text is or what language is and how we interact with it, because language plays an influence part in our daily lives. I also like the idea that you think we could implement those 5 steps into language or its understanding, but i think there will always be a barrier. But i think the barrier in a way helps us think and communicate better as people

Joel Bergholtz said...

When you say that Longinus claims a text must first explain what its subject is and second, identify by what methods it can be achieved, you say that the 5 sources help the writer/reader only in identifying by what methods it can be achieved. My question is, are we entirely sure that the 5 sources can't also help in explaining - and even shaping - the subject? To me, the power to conceive great thoughts and strong and inspired emotion is deeper than simply achieving a method. This is because these are two "natures" of writing/sublimity in writing, whereas the bottom three are stylistic "arts". Great thought and strong and inspired emotion are not stylistic "arts" but methods of achieving the sublime.
You also say in addition to using these sources, there must be a final source that prompts clarity. I would argue that the five sources will always prompt clarity because if these five sources are followed, the sublime can be achieved. And having read and learned the way Longinus associates writing with the sublime, we know that the sublime has total and perfect clarity and clearness, because the sublime is perfect.

noles1128 said...

I agree with you and Drea on the subject on the clarity of the 5 sources of sublimity that Longinus mentions in his text. The chart was a little confusing to me. It required a deep and thorough in class discussion in order for me to fully understand Longinus and grasp what he was trying to have his audience know.

I also touched up on the writer-reader relationship which I also thought was crucial in the subject of sublimity. "For example, a writer needs to make it clear in his/her essay what his topic is but also make it clear how that certain topic can be achieved." Also, it is important to make sublimity known to his or her audience to that the audience can be purely and naturally engaged.

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