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Sidney goes to great lengths in order to show the superiority of poets over historians. Historians, he argues, are inferior to poets because they are "better acquainted with a thousand years ago than with the present age" and his greatest authorities, apparently, are based on mere "hearsay." In addition, the historian is bound to the truth, which means that they are not able to use their art and skill to teach morals in the same way that a poet can. Bearing in mind that Sidney wrote this tract to defend poetry because it was argued that poetry does not teach morals, Sidney argues back stating that because historians are bound to the truth of what happened, they are actually worse at teaching morals than poets:
But history, being captived to the truth of a foolish world, is many times a terror from well-doing, and an encouragement to unbridled wickedness.
Whereas in poetry, the good normally triumph over the bad, showing clear morality, Sidney argues, historians are not able to change the past for their own purposes, and thus their readers are confronted with real life situations where good characters are vanquished and bad characters triumph. This, Sidney argues, means that historians are in no way superior to poets. Poets, because they are not shackled by the truth in the same way, are far more superior than historians because of the way in which they can teach morality as they desire, without having to worry about what actually happened.
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