what are the sources of Sublimity?

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mmms1981 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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According to Longinus, author of the treatise On the Sublime (Περὶὕψους) who lived in the 1st or 3rd century AD, there are two different sources of sublimity: inborn sources and acquirable sources.

- Among the inborn sources, there are two. The first and most important source is “the power of forming great conceptions”, that is, lofty thoughts or concepts. Within this group of inborn sources Longinus also includes a “strong and enthusiastic passion”.

- Among the acquirable sources, Longinus includes three elements: a masterful use of certain rhetorical devices; the choice of the right lexicon (use of noble diction), and, finally, a “dignified and high composition”.

Essentially, Longinus thinks of the poet as an individual elevated in thought and feeling. He focuses more on inspired passion and loftiness of thought than on technical rules, which is noteworthy for a critic of his time.


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